Wednesday, June 29, 2011


"Barge" is what we called the hospital at BJU.

My freshman year I got kind of sick and had to spend a few days there. Anyone who went there was diagnosed with "upper respiratory infection." I slept a lot. It was during Bible Conference so the services were piped in for our benefit.

You couldn't miss class for being sick unless you were in Barge.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Real Moms Guest Post

So, I wanted the injera and wot post to post tomorrow but since I don't know what day it is, I posted it this morning. ha.

Today I have a guest post over at Simple Mel. I met her years and years ago, in another life, when I was roommates in Derry with her cousin and I was teaching at Calvary Christian School. Then a couple years ago (2? or 3?), a friend in Hudson invited me to a playgroup she was running and Melissa was there - with two adorable little girls. We reconnected and even though neither of us does the playgroup anymore, we stay in touch on facebook.

Head over there to read my confessions of being a "real" mom with a messy house and kids who have their own ideas about what to wear. There's several real mom posts you can catch up on and then you can stick around for awhile reading her archives about her new baby and homeschooling. Plus she's looking for a few more moms to finish out the summer; contact her to participate.

Injera and Wot

A long time ago, I was in a great bookclub. But everyone lived a good 45 minutes away and after awhile it became a lot to drive that every month, so I left. I tried to start my own and it didn't really take off; then a new friend on facebook tagged me in a note about her bookclub and I invited myself to join.

The book for last month was Cutting for Stone. As I read along, occasionally the characters mentioned eating injera and wot.

I let my fingers do the walking* to a google search and found out injera is Ethiopian flatbread and wot is stew. Fantastic, I thought, I'll make some and take it to bookclub. No biggie.

First, I had to assemble some items I didn't posses. I put out on facebook that I needed a mortar and pestle to borrow. My neighbor came through. Then Elizabeth, my Zumba instructor, had the spices I needed (coriander, cardamom, and turmeric) plus a coffee grinder she used for spices. I skipped the whole fenugreek thing. This was getting really out of control already.

For the injera, I needed teff, a grain indigenous to Ethiopia. Fortunately on my searches around the web, someone had posted a picture of Bob's Red Mill teff, so I thought my chances of finding it at the grocery store were pretty good. I picked up this whole grain teff and had to grind it . . .

which made a big mess.

Then I mixed up the injera.

This had to ferment for 1 - 3 days. So far so good.

I toasted and ground the spices.

I also made some niter kebbeh, a spiced butter for the wot. I could have just used butter, but I had all the spices already (except the cinnamon stick that I had to run over to my neighbor's for), so I went for it.

Craig came home at this point and requested I not make any more ethnic food. It was a little fragrant.

This is the niter kebbeh after simmering.

And at this point, I stopped taking pictures.

I mixed up some bebere, too. The recipes I researched (I checked out a couple, that's one) said I could use a mix of paprika and red pepper but that option felt less authentic and also didn't involve borrowing spices from my Zumba instructor (who is now affectionately referred to as "the spice girl" for my husband's clarification [sorry, E]).

The Friday of the book club, I put the doro wot in the crock pot and that afternoon cooked the injera. Once I started cooking the injera, it smelled so bad I almost puked. It was awful. The method was kind of a cross between a pancake and crepe; the smell was somewhere between rancid rubber and decaying flesh. The wot smelled "different" but not gross.

I took it all to the bookclub meeting anyway and told them how gross the bread was and how I didn't think I could eat it (I couldn't; I got it in my mouth and spit it out). Two of the women ate it and thought it was fine. The rest thought it was awful, even dipped in the wot. Everyone agreed with wot was fine, even good.

As for the book, I loved it. I thought it was exceptionally well-written and beautiful, a fantastic examination of family, brothers, fathers, life, and love. I also learned a lot, looking up Ethiopian food, Disclaced Carmelite nuns, Shiva, and St. Theresa.

I had a lot of fun with this process but I'm not sure I'll be so excessively ambitious next month.

*when is the last time you heard that phrase?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Big Day

Tomorrow's the big day.

Craig's cousin is getting married.

So it's a big day for the cousin and the cousin's fiance.

But it's the "big day" for me because it was this wedding coming that motivated me to want to lose weight. I think everyone in Craig's family has been exercising and weight watching and all of that.

It was weird for me to think that this was the day I was working for because the exercise/fitness thing has become such a part of my life I kind of forgot why I started. I feel a little bit of "where do I go from here," with the answer being I'll probably just keep going.

I didn't lose any weight that I can tell. I definitely reshaped by body; I have muscles on my arms and legs and have a waist, but I also still have a belly pooch and booty that I guess I will always have. I have pants that are too big but lots of pants that are still too small.

I don't feel disappointed that I didn't lose weight (OK, maybe I'm a teeny bit sad because having a number to say would make my improvements seem more tangible) because I feel like the gains of how fit and strong I feel, the improvement in my mood and outlook, and the community of fun women I've met when I go to a class are an unexpected and better bonus than just having a number to say.

Best wishes to the bride and groom on your big day . . . I did my best to not look horrible in pictures.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


One of the recurring dreams I have about being at Bob Jones U is that I have to get something out of my PO box and can't remember the combination. I can remember the box #, 50618, and even picture where it was in the room of PO boxes, but in the dream I need to get my chapel seat assignment or my class schedule or I'd be trying to get my ID to get lunch and I can't remember the combination.

At Christmas, my sister was showing me the random things in her Bible and she had a piece of paper with my PO box combination on it. I was thrilled. The anxiety of not being able to open it was gone. I flied it away carefully in my subconscious so if the dream comes back, I'm armed with the information.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Desk Re-do

I woke up early on Saturday (two weeks ago) with a migraine, took a fioricet, and went back to sleep. I woke up again at 10 (do I have a great husband or what?) and Craig took Sam to soccer while I stayed home with Kate. Browsing through the Merrimack Journal, I noticed the Boy Scouts were having a yard sale and decided to go.

I found this treasure:

I offered the guy $10 for it and when I had twenties and $9 in my pocket, he said $9 was fine. Two boy scouts (who expressed astonishment that anyone wanted the old desk) loaded it into my car and I giddily drove home. My sister-in-law had redone one awhile back so I knew this had possibilities.

After church the next day, we hit the Home Depot Store for supplies:

I am so glad my husband wanted to help me, because he took the top of the desk off and filled it in for me.

We had our chalkboard paint tinted "moonstone" and used that on the desk top.

Sanded and ready to go:

While Craig made another trip to Home Depot, I taped up the wooden parts so we could spray paint. Starting with the primer:

Our top coat had a "hammered" finish and we were both really pleased with it. I would have loved it if we could have sanded and stained the wood, but the desk top was pretty ravaged so we went with paint. The seat was painted Martha Stewart Living Wrought Iron (I just randomly selected this color because it looked dark blue and there were those eeny little 3 oz samples available). (Looking back through, I see the paint sample we got says "glidden" but the paint chip I selected says it's a Martha Stewart paint. Not sure why that is.)

So our afternoon pretty much went paint, let it dry, paint, wait, paint, sand, paint something else, paint again too soon, decide to wait and then paint some more. The chalkboard paint took several coats and it didn't help that I was using the good brush. Once I finished and let Craig have it, it went better, and we noticed over the next day or so that it seemed to smooth out some.

It's in Sam's room and he stashes some of his stuff in it.

I totally cleaned up the room to take the pictures - it's actually kind of funny because there's always something on the floor in there . . . but you know me and staging.

So far he's written in his journal twice, all on his own. He's quite pleased with it.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Necessity of Selfishness

Today I have a treat for you: a guest post! It's like a great big icing covered cupcake without the sugar or calories. I wish you could hear her in person and know how genuine, enthusiastic, and positive she is . . . but you don't totally have to take my word for it, here's her just-for-readers-of-food-and-whine post. Enjoy!

Hi there Food & Whine readers! My name is Elizabeth and blog over at I'm so excited to be doing a Freaky Friday Switcheroo with Sarah! I love her posts and her thoughtful comments over on my blog.

As nice, civilized people, we are taught that selfishness is a Bad Thing we must avoid. As Christians, we are certainly taught that selfishness is a sin and we are exhorted to selflessly love our neighbor.

As a fitness professional, the number one reason I see for women putting their own physical fitness on the back burner is because they feel it is selfish, self-indulgent even, to spend 30 minutes to an hour a day pursuing physical improvement when there are children to raise, husbands to encourage, homes to run, churches to support, meals to cook, laundry to fold and friends to nurture. It is selfish to spend money on gym memberships, weight loss programs, fresh produce and workout attire when gas is hovering around $4 a gallon, soccer camp costs money and growing kids need new shoes and clothes all the time.

My response: You owe it to your families to be selfish. We usually believe selfishness means actions or whims that gratify our lusts at the detriment to others. Selfishness, in another sense, means “the values required for human survival.” I would like to refine that point a littler further – selfishness are those acts which are required in order for your family to survive and thrive. Your family needs you to be selfish in ways that promote their well-being. It is, in fact, selfish of you (the bad selfish) to do things that take away from your health and life expectancy because this deprives your family of your contributions. It deprives them of YOU.

Your health and vitality is the biggest gift that you give to your children now and when they are grown. Your kids need you to be able to chase after them at the beach and climb the bleachers at the baseball stadium. And their need for you doesn't end when they head to college. Who will be there to coach your kids through their early years of marriage? Through parenthood? Hopefully, if you're eating right and exercising, it will be you. However, type II diabetes, heart disease, stroke and other debilitating physical conditions are on the rise in wealthy, industrialized countries like ours. A person suffering with these conditions will see her quality of life affected. More importantly, her ability to contribute to her family and community will be affected as well. She may come to depend on her adult children to be medical caretakers, which takes them away from their own children, spouses and communities.

When your children are grown, they not only need your advice and expertise, but your grandchildren deserve to draw on your wisdom and experiences as well. Eventually, you will be responsible for passing on your family's traditions and history. The only way you can do this effectively is by being around and engaging with your children and their children.

Motivational speaker Dr. Wayne Dwyer has said, “You can't give what you haven't got.” It's such a profound statement. You can't share peace if you lack peace yourself. You can't share wealth if you are poor. You can't share wisdom if you're not wise. You can't share Christ if you don't know Him. But let's assume that you have peace, prosperity, wisdom and a relationship with Christ. Can you share these things with your family if you don't survive and thrive to a ripe old age?

I encourage you to start seeing healthy eating and physical fitness as things you do, not for vain shallow reasons, but out of a sense of obligation to your family. You are irreplaceable. They will never get another mother, wife, sister or aunt like you. They need you to take care of yourself! And if you get certain vain and shallow benefits out of being a hot and sexy mama, well, no harm done!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Funky Junk Inspired

'Member how I told you I'd done a project inspired by Funky Junk? Well, I finally took a picture for you.

It hangs in the stairwell to our basement so it's impossible to take a picture with natural light there. I have little clothespins (from A. C. Moore) that hold Sam and Kate's artowrk onto the jute (not sisal) twine (from Home Depot).

Oh wait! I took pictures. (Lemme find 'em. They're really lame. Here's one.) I got the frame at Building 19 for $10; it's just the frame, no glass or art or anything. Then I used some watered down paint to paint it (two coats). I used thumb tacks to hold the twine in place.

Then it was propped up on the ledge there for what, 2 months? Until Saturday, when I hung it (I used a level!) and took that first picture. I love that there's a dedicated place to put lots of their creations.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Baby Quilt

This quilt is for my sister's baby (due any day now).

(yes, that's Kate in a bathing suit and Rapunzel hair to the side . . . I forgot I had to crop this.)

This fabric is called Fresh Cut by Heather Bailey (it's discontinued, boo hoo). I was at a fabric sale thing and fell in love with it - so gorgeous and unlike anything else I've used. When I went to pay all the fat quarters were half off - even better!

I made up a pattern because I was so eager to get going. Then I had to add fabric to some edges to make it even. In the future I'm going to (perhaps) begin with an end in mind.

I made some burp cloths, too, with some of the extra fabric.

Now all we we need is the baby!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Frugal Pajamas

Kate had this adorable pj set from Carter's that she cut the leg of one morning when she was supposed to be watching TV and letting me snooze)(by "morning" I mean 6:15 AM or so). I kept them around for awhile, trying to think of how to fix them or maybe cut them off (but short pants with long shirt bothered me).

Then it came to me: I'll cut the sleeves off, too. She needs shorty 'jamas anyway.

First I cut the sleeves off. Then I pulled them a little to curl them up (below, the right sleeve is pulled and the left sleeve is not)(I know, I'm so proud of myself for my detailed process pics).

Up close shot of scissor damage (somehow there's tulle involved):

Cut off as straight as possible:

I was going to sew a straight line and let them fray but the silky stuff was fraying too easily so I folded a little hem and sewed it with a zig zag stitch. Then I finished taking pictures in my poorly-lit basement (which has recently gotten brighter light bulbs; it's like a whole new room).

And here they are: she'll be able to wear them all summer now.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Painting Glass

I forget where I saw this idea. It might have been Just a Girl or someone like that. (It kind of stated with this, the idea of gluing two things together and painting them, but I really can't find the source of the original idea). I thought I'd try it out; I could use some better spray painting skillz anyway.

When I went to the local Salvation Army and got really skeeved out and frustrated with wasting my time when I couldn't find anything. I zipped into the SalVal in Harrisburg in April and found some plates and candlesticks to use to make little cake stands, or cupcake stands, or whatever you want to call them.

So I googled "painting glass" (or something) and found this article. Then, I got my supplies, waited for a decent day when I had time to spray paint, and took a picture for you:

I glued my candlesticks on the plates. Then I started painting and noticed they were not centered.

First coat of primer (or paint. I can't remember):

Finished product, also featured in the pie bird post.

The short one ended up in the bathroom with a bar of soap on it and the soap pulled off some of the paint. So, so much for that . . . at least I went into it thinking this was an experiment to see how it would go.

My friend Melissa just did a post along these lines; check out her creations.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bad Kitty

This was the plan:

Picture is from bakerella.

Obvi. I mean, when have I had a picture that good?

I wanted to make these for Kate to take to school to celebrate her birthday before school got out for the year. Of course, I thought about this a lot more than I acted on it and waited until there were only 2 days left in her school year to make my move.

The basic steps are easy (just reading through it now, I see I didn't use enough frosting. I used 1/3 cup which I imagine I read somewhere; also hers are tiny (!!) - quarter sized. I used my middle-sized Pampered Chef scoop.

I chilled them for almost two hours and started attaching ears.

So far, so good.

Then I started dipping and carnage ensued.

They fell off the sticks and broke into pieces. It was discouraging.

Here you see my main problem: they were cracking (that'd be the not enough icing at work).

I was ready to quit but thought, I'll see how they finish off and then decide if I'll keep going or not.

I got out the food markers I'd gotten that morning at A. C. Moore.

sigh. This was not meant to be.

So not only is the marker not black, it didn't work right. I'll have to click on Bakerella's link to see what markers she uses. But the nose and the bow turned out cute, huh?

So I let Kate go crazy with the embellishments. I showed her how to use the melted candy melts as "glue" and she had a ball.

Last night I was finished forever with cake pops shaped like cats. Today, I'm actually thinking of trying again someday . . .

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Things I Never Heard in Fundamentalism (Part 1)

I got that phrase from Camille and it crosses my mind a lot . . . hey, that's something I never heard growing up. or, That's something I never heard at Bob Jones or any of the Calvary Baptist churches I went to through the years.

Reading Daring to Draw Near this morning, I had another such moment. Concluding discussion on David's prayer, Psalm 51: "[David saw] that outward religious observances were no substitute for a right attitude toward God and sin."

In my experience, fundamentalism is all about outward religious observances. How many services attended a week (we don't care if you have 167 research papers to grade and what's taking you so long anyway? Just pass all the church members' children), how long your skirt or big your white collar, how big your Bible or long your public prayers. Are you "busy" to the point of thinking you have mono? Well, you're not doing enough. Maybe God will look your way if you try harder. Maybe you can do enough one of these days to not feel so guilty and weighed down. Maybe. You're not really good enough for God to love.

White: We ourselves forget this. We try to compensate for sin by our twentieth-century sacrifices. We atone by trying harder, by being extra kind to someone we have hurt, by praying longer and more frequently. Yet none of these things are acceptable to God. . . . He wants us simply to say, "There is nothing I can do to make up for what I have done." (pages 78-79)

And this, the giant weight lifting off my heart, the chains of guilt that drag me down breaking: all that is needed is to show God the spot and say, "I cannot make it clean."

I can't. But He can. And He loves me.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Four and Twenty Blackbirds

These pie birds make me think of "four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie."

As with everything, there's a story.

Which I'm going to tell you.

Two Thanksgivings ago, Craig and I watched an episode of Good Eats the Wednesday night before Turkey Day. Alton made an apple pie (among other things, I think) and used a pie bird. The next day, I saw my mother-in-law had a pie bird on her window sill. It was so adorable and unbelievable that there was one just after learning what they were; I didn't think an average person had them. I wanted to collect them.

As with many things, easier said than done.

Most place I ask don't know what they are. And I could get them off ebay but the hunt is part of the fun, right?

A few weeks ago (when I procured the window above our bed), I found one in an antique store near here. And then last week, my mother-in-law got the other one for me . . . I was so excited. Two is better than one; two is a pair! Two is a . . . collection! yay!

My children keep asking "Why do you have two?"

What will they think when I have four and twenty?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

This is the Short Answer

A friend from Bob Jones put on facebook for "country music fans" to post their top ten or top five favorite songs so he could add some country music to his playlists. I like country music. I like how they take a cliche or a phrase and give it a twist. I like Sugarland's and Natalie Maines's twang. I like the songs about how good life is right now. But songs to suggest in a public forum? I know I have appallingly unsophisticated taste in music; I like what I like irregardless. In my typical obsessive way, this got me thinking: What are my favorite country songs?

It's a complicated question. My favorite songs are the favorites because of the memories they invoke: walking down the aisle to meet Craig to "Cowboy Take Me Away;" or singing at the top of my lungs with my sister to "Man, I feel like a Woman" (I haven't heard that in a long time); sobbing the first time I heard "Something in Red" (I was pregnant, alright? I cried at the craziest things); pulling away from a wedding where I saw an old boyfriend and hearing "Bye, Bye" on the radio - how often does the radio cooperate so nicely with what you want for the soundtrack of life ('cause for sure I had the rearview mirror torn off and I was not looking back)?

I don't know that I'd really say, "add these to your playlist," and this is by no means comprehensive (because you could pull out some random song and I would immediately say, "that's my favorite song!").

(editorial note: I'm not going to punctuate the song titles with quotation marks because I'm lazy and don't feel like doing it over and over. The song is first, the artist second. Also, no links because that will take forever and I've got books to read. Except "Something in Red." I had to google it to find out who sings it, so she gets a link.)

Favorite Country Breakup Songs:

1. Little Goodbyes, SheDaisy
2. Blame it on Your Heart, Patty Loveless*
3. Picture to Burn, Taylor Swift
4. The Dance, Garth Brooks
5. Bye, Bye, JoDee Messina

Favorite Dixie Chicks songs**:

1. Wide Open Spaces
2. Cowboy Take Me Away
3. Ready to Run
4. The Long Way Around
5. You Were Mine
6. Goodbye Earl
7. Don't Waste Your Heart
8. Long Time Gone
9. Favorite Year
10. Truth No. 2

Favorite Songs by a Man:

1. Drive, Alan Jackson
2. The Good Stuff, Kenny Chesney
3. Unanswered Prayer, Garth Brooks
4. Live Like You were Dying, Tim McGraw
5. You're Gonna Miss This, Trace Adkins

Songs that remind me of Dating Craig:

1. Breathe, Faith Hill
2. Cowboy Take Me Away, Dixie Chicks
3. This Kiss, Faith Hill
4. Fearless, Taylor Swift***
5. I Could Not Ask for More, Sara Evans (but Edwin McCain did it better)

Songs that make me Cry:

1. Something in Red, Lorrie Morgan
2. Streets of Heaven, Sherrie Austin
3. Highway 20 Ride, Zac Brown Band
4. Already Gone, Sugarland+
5. Come On Come On, Mary Chapin Carpenter

Songs my Children (mostly Kate, Sam usually wants no part) will Deign to Listen to:

1. Love Story, Taylor Swift
2. Best Days of Your Life, Kellie Pickler
3. Chicken Fried, Zac Brown Band
4. Picture to Burn, Kellie Pickler
5. Cowboy Casanova, Carrie Underwood

Favorite Country Songs by People you would not expect to be signing country:

1. This, Darius Rucker
2. First Cut is the Deepest, Sheryl Crow
3. All Summer Long, Kid Rock
4. Perhaps Love, Placido Domingo++

(yes, I am ending with a 4-point list. My brain is exhausted from digging out song titles and artist names. And Craig is sick of answering my questions ['cause it's easier to ask him instead of thinking] and thought I was buying every song I was asking about. As if. He knows my ipod is full [clearly I'm going to have to be pickier about what's on it, like no more Backyardigan episodes].)

* (not, as I thought, Trisha Yearwood)

**Because they do get their own category

***Right. It wasn't out then. But something about "you take my hand and drag me headfirst, fearless" totally takes me back to that time.

+oh come on, you can't tell me that "it's our whole life down to one box" doesn't get you.

++OK, I tricked you a little with that one. It's a duet with John Denver

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I Can't Find the Before Picture

I know I took a before picture because I took it really long ago - like, in January. When I first decided I wanted to paint these. But I can't find it.

So here's the after and as a consolation prize, a few other pics of our bedroom.

My dresser. I chose this shot to post because in all the others you could see, reflected in the mirror just to the left of the dresser, the laundry basket I moved so it was out of the picture.

We also painted the mirror but didn't sand it so when I tried to wipe off the watered-down paint for a "weathered" look it just smeared off so I had to slap more on and let it all dry. The dressers got two coats of an antique-y white and then a "rub" of watered down wall color. Also we got new hardware, which you can't compare to what was there due to no before shot.

Window I found at an antique store. I love it. Craig wants me to fill in the windows with maps and photos and maybe I'll get to it but it's not on the list. His main problem is that you can see the wire used to hang it but I say, you can't, because the wire is almost the color of the wall. Also I think it looks cool as is.

Shelf high up on the wall. Just recenlty my mother-in-law got me the dark stars (I thought they were blue [this room is supposed to be red, white, and blue, with emphasis on the blue and white] but I think they're black) and the wooden star; the bottles Craig found while diving in the lake. I'm slowly filling this in; I want and Americana/cottagey look but ahve trouble focusing.

Craig's dresser. I debated not moving the piles of clothes he keeps on the floor in front of it but in the end photo styling won over reality.

There you have it. Another New Year's goal met.