Sunday, April 28, 2013

Week In Review +365 Project (104-107)

Awesome lighting at IKEA

The first flower I've seen this spring!

Chinese stir-fry (recipe posted last week)

Lemon pound cake

Saturday, April 27, 2013

IKEA For the First Time!

 Last night we went to IKEA and had dinner in their restaurant  It was my first time to be there, and it was awesome! I'll let the pictures do most of the talking:

I had the chicken dinner

Loved all the econo-sized rooms

ribbons tied to sticks... kinda cool, I thought

 This elevator was ADORABLE!

We only had time to explore one of the three floors, but I will definitely be going back again!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Thursday, April 25, 2013

What Is Your Favorite Sound?

"You know what the three most exciting sounds in the world are?"
"Uh huh - breakfast is served, lunch is served, dinner..."
"No, no, no, no - anchor chains, plane motors, and train whistles."

That is one of my most favorite quotes from the movie It's A Wonderful Life. Mostly because I agree with Uncle Billy... :) Food is always exciting!

One of my all time favorite sounds is that of rushing water, whether it's a fast moving brook, water going over a dam, or the crashing waves of the ocean. When I was little we used to go to the HEB Foundation Camp in Kerrville, TX and our cabin was right by the dam at the Echo Valley site. I loved laying in my bunk, hearing the water pour over the wall onto the rocks. During the day I would sit in a secret shady spot that just overlooked the water, and I would watch the light playing across the ripples. 

I spent several sunny days running on the beach in the Port Aransas/Rockport area, and when I was ten we went to Maine and I had my first view of the Atlantic ocean on the east coast. It was lovely - coastlines fascinate me. I am so at peace when I listen to the water, as if the whispers of the waves and riverside sing a song I've long forgotten. 

What sound thrills you to the tips of your toes? Is it the many-toned swell of a symphony? The voice of a loved one? There are so many wonderful variations to sound that we can hear... which one is your favorite? Let me know!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Stir Things Up... Have Stir-Fry!

Do you eat Chinese food? It's usually always good! Most of the time when you try to recreate takeout at home, it doesn't taste quite the same. Most people have theories about why, but we won't get into them... 

I have been trying variations on stir-fry for a while, and I have finally gotten it to be almost as good as the restaurant kind. It certainly is fresher (and cheaper!), and I like to try out new veggies or meats to see how it will taste. I thought I'd share what tips and tricks I use so that you can recreate your own takeout!

This stuff isn't strictly measured; cooking is an intuitive process - it's up to the cook to decide how much or how many. But, I will give you the rough measurements I used for this recipe in particular. It serves about four.

First off, you have to get the right flavors going:

  • I use hoisin sauce and soy sauce to achieve the right tang that you associate with fried rice. 
  • I made 1 1/2 cups of rice and put in about a tablespoon of each sauce. 
  • In another pan, I made 1 cup of diced steamed carrots, and in another I sauteed garlic and onions in butter, then cooked a chicken breast. 
  • At this point, you can also add half a cup of roasted, salted peanuts - this makes them slightly translucent, like the peanuts you get in kung pao chicken. You can also add in bamboo shoots & water chestnuts, if you have them (I love water chestnuts!). 
  • I chopped up a handful of snow peas, one small yellowneck squash, and one medium zucchini and threw them in. Add a quarter cup of water with 1tsp. of chicken bullion and cover. Stir occasionally until the veggies are cooked to your liking. 
  • Remove chicken/veggies from saucepan and dump in the rice you just steamed. Cook it for a while until it starts to sizzle slightly, then add in the carrots and chicken/veggie mix. 
  • Stir thoroughly and serve with soy sauce on the side and chow mein noodles. Enjoy!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Busy Bee Bakery

I have had the craziest day today! Got up this morning and went grocery shopping, then came home heated up lunch, then dyed my hair with henna. While that was setting, I made molasses cookies, a chocolate cake, and a lemon pound cake... no, I'm not on a dessert binge, they are all for other people! The lemon cake is for our singing night at church, the chocolate cake is for our dinner guests tomorrow, and the cookies were requested (in a very persistent manner, lol) by the woman Nikki crochets with on a regular basis. When I told my friend about my little cooking tangent, her words were, "You go, Betty Crocker!" I wonder if Betty Crocker's back and feet hurt so bad when she was done cooking? Nah, probably not. Mostly because she wasn't actually real, but we won't get into that.

My hair is now in the awkward "oxidizing" stage, where it isn't quite absorbed, and it still smells a little funny. I catch myself sniffing and wondering where the farm is - then I realize it's me! It's really not that bad, and I love how healthy it makes my hair, and the red highlights are a bonus!

All my baking is in their respective containers, waiting to be given away, and I'm busy planning for our dinner tomorrow. I finally have my feet up and I'm finding it hard to focus on the computer screen. I think I am totally exhausted!

I will hopefully have a more titillating post for you tomorrow, but for now, goodnight!

Friday, April 19, 2013


We've had twelve inches (or more) since yesterday... It's supposed to be SPRING already! Where is the sunshine? Where are the flowers? What about "April showers"?? I am getting tired of this. :/

I haven't even been taking pictures for my +G+ 365 Project like I am supposed to, because I'm so bored of all this snow. I look out my window and see the same thing, every day. This:

Beautiful, yes... for about a month. Then I begin to miss the sunny days of summer, or the crisp days of fall. 

What makes it worse, is that the neighbors pulled out the snowmobiles. I love snowmobiling. But I don't have one, which is a bummer. Because something that might make the snow tolerable is to fly across it at high speeds and feel so adrenaline pumped it's not cold anymore. I digress. This post is me being grumpy, sorry. At least now I feel like you might know my grr feelings, and that makes me feel better. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Which one of your responsibilities? Think About It Thursday

Ugh. Where do I start? :) Actually, there is only one of my responsibilities I really would love to give up. Laundry! It's such an endless cycle! You wear it, you throw it in the hamper, you have to drag it to the wash, you wash it, dry it, fold it (seriously hate that part), and then do it all over again. Every. Single. Week. If it wasn't against my morality (and to protect society) I would so be nudist! Much more efficient... ha.

What responsibility would you love to throw to the wind? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Worth The Wait

heard another 
love story song 
on the radio 
people are saying 
forbidden fruit 
tastes the sweetest 
but something 
deep inside 
says it's not so 
those stolen 
secret sweets 
turn bitter as 
you watch them 
walk out the door… 
don't make 
that mistake 
don't take what 
you shouldn't take 
or give it away - 
then it's too late 
trust the unknown 
have some faith 
take a stand 
find your place 
just believe it's 
worth the wait. 

~ Toni Derouin

In a world full of media and books that encourage taking what we want from love without commitment, people need to start speaking up and telling the truth. Making relationships that are unhealthy, even dangerous, seem glamorous and romance filled are causing incredible hurt to marriages, women, and people's ideas about what love is.  

You know what is truly romantic? Seeing an elderly couple that have been together many, many years. They have seen the best and worst in each other... yet he still holds her hand, and she smiles like she is falling in love all over again. This is beautiful.

Monday, April 15, 2013

5 Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books Everyone Knows (but few have read)

(original image from Nasa)
I have a reputation for reading. Reading stuff that other people would probably not read (by that I mean your "normal" people, not the other book geeks!). Right now, I want to share some of the classic sci-fi/fantasy books that many people know from movies and media references, but not a whole lot of people have read. These are my thoughts to share with you: 

1. Dune

First off, anybody who makes it through this book deserves an award. A medal. Definitely a geek card, at least. In fact, I think everybody who wants a geek card should be required to read it, just to prove their dedication to our kind. 

This book is confusing, weird, and sort of fascinating. I have not clue what any of it was really about, but I pulled from it the story of a prince on the run who has some sort of special powers. Escaping from the assassins who killed his father, he flees to the desert, where he meets the desert people and is hailed as their Chosen One. It all has to do with harvesting a type of spice that everyone in the aristocracy is addicted to. Turns their eyes completely blue - which is cool in concept, and totally freaky in reality. 

2. The War of the Worlds

One of the pioneers of the science fiction genre, H. G. Wells saw technology before it even happened. This story recounts an invasion by a type of indestructible warships manned by nameless horrid creatures bent on killing humankind. 

I actually couldn't put this book down. They story haunted me until I finished it, because every step hinges on whether the protagonist will survive, and even more importantly, weather Earth will survive. There is also an interesting psychological twist to the characters, showing the many facets of what the human mind will do when placed under extreme stress. 

3. Frankenstein 

Everybody knows the premise of this tale... some dude that takes a bunch of body parts, imbues them with life, his creation gets out of hand, starts killing, and the doctor has to try and fix his mistake. What most people don't know, is that the doctor's name is Frankenstein, not the monster! 

Moral of the story: don't make something you can't control... like kids. Or patched together monsters.   

4. Journey to the Center of the Earth

Another forerunner of the great sci-fi fathers, Jules Verne had a mind full of futuristic worlds and scientific discoveries. I think almost all of his works have been made into films. While the movie version of JCotE is a little cheesy, you would be amazed how much of the bizarre imagery is straight out of Verne's book!

The awesome thing about all of Jule's stories and places it that there is the element of believability. He makes you hope that there is a lost world hidden at the center of the earth, or a real Mystery Island, or a real Nautilus. If you are a dreamer of dreams... read his books!

5. Silmarillion

I put this book last... because it seems to be the last book anybody ever thinks about reading.  Except total Tolkien fanatics, kinda like me. Everything you wanted to know about the origins of Middle Earth, and more. If you like history, you will love the detail and care that went into creating the world of Lord of the Rings. I absolutely loved it.

Did you watch the Hobbit? Were you totally confused by some of the back story and stuff that wasn't even from the book? The reason the producers split the book into three movies is because they wanted to share some of the history that ties the gap between Hobbit and LOTR, and also explain the events leading up to the ring being cast into the fire. Wanna know what on middle earth is going on in the movies? Read the book!

What are some of your favorite, not-so-commonly-read sci-fi/fantasy books? Have you read any of the ones above? Do you like the movie adaptations?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Southwest Lectureship 2013 (Austin, TX)

Just wanted to let everybody know that the Annual Southwest Lectureship has started, and that even if you are nowhere near Austin, TX, you can join in by watching them online. You can find the live stream link at the bottom of this page:

This year's topic is "Why Do We...?", explaining why the church does or does not support certain doctrines or ideologies. As always, they are done in a tasteful manner and by excellent speakers. We have watched them online the past two years, and even though it's not quite the same as being there in person, it is still a great opportunity to hear great lessons. Here is the schedule of upcoming lessons this week:
 Hope you can join in!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Codecademy Cadet

I don't know about you, but I go through waves of obsession with new subject matter every couple of months. Whether that be Angry Birds, BBC Sherlock, or food (I've never quite gotten over that last one). So, my latest spur-of-the-moment educational fling is learning HTML code/syntax. I had briefly mentioned it in passing to a fellow G+ser, stating it was 'Too hard and I would probably never find the time.'

Then, that stubborn mule streak in me kicked in and said, 'No way! You know you can do it & you are just too lazy to try... loser! You would prefer to eat banana bread and watch NCIS instead of actually putting something into your head, lamebrains!' I tend to ignore this voice by drowning it out, but that little spark of interest had caught on. 

When +Viking Ender put up a post about Codecademy in his stream, I decided I should check it out. That was like at 11:30 at night. At 1am I was wide awake, typing away, thrilled at the power I had just discovered. Do you like to be in control? I do... and html is pure control, building your own environment from the roots up. I felt like Flynn from TRON, just hoping that I would learn how to add background colors before I was sucked into the digital world. Really, it's super cool.

The program lets you take everything at your own pace, and you start doing hands on work right away. As you fill in the code on the left, there is a window to your right showing you if the formula was written correctly. There is also a full-screen view where you can see your work as if it were an actual web page. Everything is broken down into simple lessons, and as you go along you earn badges (pictured above), encouraging your progress. 

 (This is what I was working on by day 2 of html basics)

What's great about what I'm learning is that it will help me be able to do more with the blog, and possibly work on some web pages. One thing about my obsessions - I love doing it until it becomes work, then I can't stand it. Bad? Most likely. But, I'm probably just going to keep this skill at the hobby level, which is what makes Codecademy so great: it is free, which is excellent for most people who don't want to spend any more money on an education. Check it out! 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

How Would You Describe Yourself In One Sentence? Think About It Thursdays

Sorry this is so late folks! The girl who never does anything, did three significant things today! So this is more of Think About it Friday... but I will be better next week, I promise. :)

Our question today is how to use just one sentence to describe yourself... hmm. Lemme think.

"An old soul in a slightly random brain trying to make sense of this strange story called life." 

How would you describe yourself? For that fact, if you know me, how would you describe me in one sentence? I would love to know!

**I have changed the way comments work, by the way, so you don't have to type the random code before submitting. In an effort to make it easier for you to comment, it also opens me up to spam, so I now moderate and approve all comments. So, if you write a comment, never fear! It will be published, after I see it to make sure you're not a spambot of malarkey.**  

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

For All These Little Things

How thankful are you for the "little things" in life? Don't you think God gives us these little things as a means of encouragement? Or as an opportunity to return the glory and praise to Him? It is my belief God will sometimes give us the unspoken wishes of our hearts just to show that He loves us personally. There are so many instances when I will think "I wish such and such would happen…" and it will come about in an astonishing way. Should I just say 'what a coincidence' and go on, or should I take it as a gift that God is listening to my thoughts and He cares? Even the things we don't fully realize in our thoughts, such as an unexpected opportunity, should be taken with thanks. A beautiful sunset, seeing an old friend unexpectedly, a kind deed or word of encouragement... every one of these reflects the tender care of our Father. If we take the time to be thankful for the "little things," our whole day becomes a harmony of praise.

I once received an anonymous card from a Christian sister that said I was in her thoughts and prayers. I have still never discovered who sent it, but I thank the Lord for her! Those encouraging words have stayed with me through many a hard time, and every time I see that card in my keepsake box, I smile and feel loved. Not only was I blessed by her, but God used it as a way to bless me through her, because it let me know that He knew I needed some encouragement!

How are some ways we can use small acts to bless people around us? Today, try to look around and see all the small ways in which we are blessed - and thank the Lord for showing His love in the little things.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Feeling Bleh? Check Out Vitamin D!

I don't know about you, but lately I've been just feeling lousy. Not enough to be sick, just enough to feel like all I want to do is curl up and sleep. Yet, when I try to sleep at night, I toss and turn and twitch until it's time to get up in the morning feeling groggy and disconnected. And I think I know why!

Everybody gets a little low and irritable this time of year... I mean, c'mon, we want summer and we want it NOW! It's because in all the gray skies and muddy ground, the damp air, we just want to see the sun. Our bodies crave the sunlight, because it offers us the purest form of pick-me-up... vitamin D!

Right now, since it is near impossible to find a ray of sun, we have to be satisfied with taking in our vitamin D through supplements or food. But the main point is: we need to be taking it!! Most people are unaware that they are incredibly deficient in this vitamin. Unless you have been tested and told you are AOK on the "D" list, you are probably in need of it. 

Let me share with you a few of the dangers of not getting enough vitamin D:
  • Bone weakness
  • Dental problems
  • Gout
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Weight gain
  • Psoriasis
That last one was my special plague last year, and I'm pretty sure it was because I hadn't been eating very healthy, I was stressed, and my vitamin D was low. No fun! Now I am still dealing with the side effects, and I could have prevented it with one simple supplement.

There aren't a whole lot of foods high in vitamin D, but some of the good ones are:
  • Mushrooms
  • Salmon (all kinds of fish are good, too)
  • Beef
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Sardines
The best way, however, is to get the real thing. If you can see the sun, go out and soak it up! You can't get too much vitamin D from the sun - your body naturally regulates your intake. Aren't we just awesome?

*As you know, I am not a doctor. If you think you might be vitamin D deficient, check it out. Make sure it is ok with your healthcare provider before taking more than 2000 IU a day.

Monday, April 8, 2013

From A Kid's Perspective...

You never quite know what kids are gonna say... but it's usually hilarious. The way they see adults is more true often than not! The group over at Bored Shorts TV have done "interviews" of kids reenacting situations from a kid's point of view, then the adults act out the scene with the kid's voices dubbed over. It is great! Mom and I spent a great afternoon laughing until our sides hurt. The proposal video was one of my favorites - now my standard for dating guys has totally changed. Now I know what's really important... can he make soup?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Week In Review +365 Project (86-92)

My little Easter bunny in her basket...

Farm fresh hard boiled eggs!

Western love

The african violets are blooming like crazy!

Snack time!

A provincial flair

"Every little thing, is gonna be alright" 

Saturday, April 6, 2013


When we moved to the Big Woods six years ago, we were nervous. We were new, we had no clue what our new house looked like, and had no idea what kind of welcome we would receive. About two weeks before we moved, we received an email from one of the women at our new church. She told us that she and her husband had three kids, 16 chickens, a horse, a dog, and two rabbits, and that she was so excited to meet us. She said that she wanted to host a tea party for us girls at her house to make us feel welcome, and to introduce us to the ladies of the church.

Within hours of our moving van pulling up in town, she stopped by with her daughter to introduce themselves, and offer help moving our many boxes. Her husband and sons helped bring in the washer and dryer, and the next day she stopped by with a plate of cookies on a beautiful green glass plate. Always the cautionary, my mother was scared to death of breaking it, but M. said not to worry about it, because what is the use of having nice dishes if you never actually use them?

As promised, she hosted the tea party, and that was when we learned that she didn't just have one special plate, she had many. Different colors, different styles, all special, but all very freely offered. It was the same attitude of her hospitality, "If I have it, I will share it." At the time, they lived in a small mobile home, and somehow we managed to squeeze thirteen ladies into it. That house was full of love!

Last summer, I had the privilege of helping them work on a new house, building a basement, and learning how to use a sawzall. Once again, those green dishes came onto the scene, as M. served the contractors and electricians coffee and blackberry kuchen outside, throwing a tablecloth over a pile of lumber. One simple act of kindness, and it made them feel at home, even though the actual "house" was just a shell.

Today, she hosted another breakfast, one of our regular monthly Bible studies. There were fourteen of us this time, enjoying her lovely food and admiring the vintage decor. But it wasn't about the dishes, or the antique rocking chair, or the cherry patterned apron hanging in the kitchen. It was about feeling 100% welcome. It was about relaxing, finding peace, and knowing, "I am wanted here." And that is the greatest gift you could ever give... true hospitality.