October 31, 2012

i am a ninja

I've been house sitting a lot lately. It's really nice. May I just say, I think I might like to make being rich  my next career choice? Seriously, this house is so cool. I want one for my birthday. So then I can sit on my own calf skin leather couch, and stare out of my own floor-to-ceiling windows and multiple french doors, and soak up my own view of the Spokane river while all my own maples turn fall colors.
Anyway, on the down side, this house is gigantic and I tend to rattle around in it when I'm by myself and usually end up freaking out and locking myself into my bedroom downstairs with all the lights on while the tv blares out whatever show I can find that isn't scary.
So, to be on the safe side, I invite Rachel over to protect me. And while she's protecting me, she looks up things on Pinterest and reads me everything she thinks is funny and we laugh at the top of our lungs like idiots.

And so, the other night, Rachel was here and she had to share my room with me because Mrs. Hoover was here too and had kicked Rachel out of her room.
And just as we were dozing off, I remembered something super interesting.

Rachel, I had a nightmare last night. I was pushing a wheelbarrow full of dead monkey heads and stopped by a park and I could hear people moving and talking but I couldn't see them behind the trees because it was dark and then I had to take the monkey heads (which were blue and rotting) and remove their brains (which were white and squishy) and throw the brains out one direction and the monkey heads the other direction and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't stop removing monkey brains out of dead monkey heads. Anyway, I woke up sweating and terrified.

Creepy, said Rachel.

And then we talked about things like how I'm scared of Willy Wonka, Alice in Wonderland, and The Wizard of Oz. And Rachel said sometimes when you scare yourself it's like, Can we watch Spongebob now?

 And then I told her about a movie I watched one time and this man and woman were at their house one night and they would look outside and there would be these two girls wearing baby doll masks and a guy wearing a burlap sack over his head with eyes holes cut out... just standing there... staring at them. And eventually, they got in the house and stabbed the man and woman to death. And it was a true story.

Then we laid there, silently looking up at the ceiling...

And then Rachel asked me if I had locked all the doors...

And then I asked her if we could watch Spongebob...

And then we watched tv, but not Spongebob because Spongebob wasn't on.

So the moral to this story is...

... I am a ninja.

October 30, 2012

yummy: caramel pumpkin pie

It's fall. I kicked against it at first, even though I love fall, because after fall comes winter. And that lasts for approximately 45 months of the year and we get four days of summer and then two days of fall and spring is like, What's that?
But I always succumb to the charm of fall after sniffing pumpkin candles and pulling out my sweaters and boots.
And this year... I'm baking!
This is a first. Remember I hate cooking, still do, and always will? But I'm thinking maybe I've been taken over by an alien or something because I'm suddenly like, Let's make pie and pumpkin doughnuts and jam and other stuff.
And I found a recipe for a delish pie. I made said delish pie. It was delish. 
So now I'll share the recipe... you can make the pie... you can invite me over... and I'll help you polish it off.
Because I'm your friend like that.

Caramel Pumpkin Pie

For the crust:

2 cups flour
2/3 cups shortening (or butter)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
10 tsp water

Sift flour,sugar, and salt together.
Using one of those cool pastry cutter thingys, cut half your shortening/butter into the flour.
Cut in the rest of the shortening.
Add water, 1 tsp at a time, pressing it in with a fork until all the dough is moistened.
Roll the dough into a ball, and let stand for several minutes.
Roll out the dough. (I love this part! I feel like I should be wearing one of those tall, white chef's hats when I'm rolling out dough.) You'll have extra dough. You could eat it... or throw it away... or give it to the kids to play with... or whatever.
When the dough is rolled thin enough (You want it pretty thin. Or at least that's the way I like it.), place it in a pie plate and bake at 450 for 12 to 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and cool.

For the filling:

1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tsp lemon juice
2 cups half and half
8 egg yolks
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp unflavored gelatin
2/3 cup water
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup whipping cream
cool whip

Combine granulated sugar, water, and lemon juice in saucepan, and stir over low heat until sugar has dissolved.
Increase heat to medium high; cook until a medium amber color, about 10 minutes.
Remove from heat; add half and half (and watch the mix bubble and boil like the coolest science project ever!).
Return to low heat; stir until caramel dissolves into cream.
Set aside and keep warm.

Whisk together egg yolks, brown sugar, cornstarch, vanilla, and salt until well combined.
Still whisking, slowly add caramel mixture into the bowl until well combined.
Transfer to saucepan; whisk over medium heat until thickened, about 8 minutes.
Transfer into a bowl, cover tightly, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

After chilling, layer half the caramel filling into the bottom of cooled pie crust.

Boil 2/3 cup water; add gelatin, stir until dissolved.
Transfer to bowl.
Stir in pumpkin puree, pie spice, and remaining half of the caramel cream.

In small bowl beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form; gently fold into pumpkin mixture.
Spread over caramel mixture in pie crust.
Refrigerate 3-4 hours.
Top with cool whip. (Or top with meringue. Or homemade whipped cream. I just like cool whip, yo.)

That's it. A glorified pumpkin pie. It's wonderful and perfect for fall days.

The Delish Pie Maker

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October 12, 2012

domestic goddess

That's me. A goddess. Putting Venus to shame.
Not really.
But it makes for a great title, right? And I didn't really feel like titling this post The Domestic Zit Face.

When I was growing up, Moma was always being domestic.
She sewed stuff.
She cooked things.
She cleaned stuff.
She planted things.
She accidently bleached our jeans out. (I started doing my own laundry after awhile. In self defense.)
She burned the green beans every time. (One time, there was smoke damage.)
She sang songs.
She homeschooled us. (And it's entirely not her fault that I can't figure out 8x6 without a calculator.)
She decorated, and painted, and made everything homey.

Home is where the heart is, but more than that... home was where Moma was.

Anyway, my poor Moma tried her best to cast her domestic cloak upon my shoulders.
She had a hard time with that one considering that I A) hate sewing, B) hate cooking, and C) flee from the sight of any pile of laundry.
But in spite of my hatred for sewing and cooking and laundry, I managed to follow in Moma's domestic footsteps.
If you had asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up at age 10, I would've said, A moma. I want 13 children. I want 6 sets of twins and one single baby at the end. They will fold my laundry for me. They will cook for me. And at night, I'll sing them to sleep. I'm going to name one of my girls Smokey Star because I read that one Lori Wick book and loved the heroine... who's name was Smokey. She was short like me, and ended up with some hottie named Dallas. I will also name one of my sons Dallas.

I've changed my mind about the 6 sets of twins since then.

But maybe I'll still use Smokey Star... if I ever buy a horse.

But there is one thing that I love, and that's homemaking.

I'm not a stay at-home-mom. I'm not even a housewife. (Apparently, you have to have a husband and kids to qualify for those, and I don't have either.)
But I'm a homemaker. And I agree with C.S. Lewis. Homemaking is bombdiggity. There's nothing more satisfying to me than making my house a home.
I love home. I get homesick when I leave it. Even if I'm just going to the store. My idea of the best day is getting to stay home from work, and doing homey things like eyeballing my piles of laundry and discovering that SOS pads work magic on that stubborn ring of dirt around my tub.

My home is important to me. I want it to be the best that it can be. I want the girls to grow up with memories of Aunt Sunny's place. Memories like the ones I have of going to my Granny Walston's when I was growing up. Memories like the ones I have of Moma making our own house a home.

So I make my own laundry soap.
I'm going to make my own plum jam.
I grow my own garden (Well... anyway I tried!).
I paint stuff.
I write up menu plans.
I budget.
I went to Costco the other week and was so excited by buying bulk toilet paper that I thought I would pop. (Except that there's something so embarrassing about walking thru the store with that giant amount of toilet paper. It's like, What you lookin' at, huh? So I use lots of toilet paper. What about it, huh?)
I decorate and love it.
I move furniture around.
I organize.
I dream about the day I own my own house and can build tree houses for the girls.
I want a tire swing and a hammock.
I went to Target last night and spent my gift card on a bathroom cabinet, and then spent the next hour thinking about what exactly I'm going to fill it with. Should it be a medicine cabinet? Or should it hold our hair things? Or should I fill it with mouthwash and floss? Decisions, decisions.
I want chickens.
I do crafts.

But really, this is the heart of homemaking:
Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands. Pro 14:1
Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding is it established. Pro 24:3
Choose you this day whom ye will serve... but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. Joshua 24:15

And therein lies the secret to homemaking. Choosing whom ye will serve.
No amount of decorating, gardening, baking, sewing, or homemade plum jam will make a house a home if there's no God in it.
Because home is where God is. Because God is the One Who gives me the kind words to speak, the loving heart to open up, the willing hands, the time and talents, the curbed temper, and the compassion that it takes to make my house a happy home.
And without God... my temper flares, my heart is stingy, and my hands are unwilling.

I read this verse the other day and loved it, ... I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. Ps 101:2
A perfect heart. That's so David, the man with a heart after God's own.
I want a perfect heart in my home. It's my desire. I don't always have it. Usually my heart is caught up with the wrong things, and my home suffers for it. But a perfect heart is what I strive for.
A perfect heart loves and seeks God with it's entirety. A perfect heart chooses to serve God and no other.

So I'm going to make a little sign for my new home, and I'm going to paint a little house and a little heart on it. And beside the little heart house, I'll write that verse, I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.
And then I'll hang it where I'll see it as soon as I walk in the front door.
To remind me Whom I serve.
So that my house will be a home.

Also, who even cares that I have piles of laundry hidden in my closet and under my bed? Not me.

The Domestic Zit Face

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October 11, 2012

thankful list

Even though it isn't Thanksgiving yet, I'm kinda feeling thanksgiving-ish already.
I like to get a head start on things like that.

1. We moved into our house last Friday! I slept there Friday night.
Then I left Saturday morning to house/dog sit, and have hardly been back to my new home since.

2. This house that I'm "sitting" has a hot tub. I want one for my birthday. (Which is December 19th, by the way. I accept cash, credit, checks, and presents.)

3. I found a recipe for pumpkin spice hot chocolate. I'm going to make it. I like pumpkin spice stuff. It's my favorite.

4. I was at work the other morning, feeling downish, and a perfect stranger came up to me and gave me a grande pumpkin spice latte. I figured that was God's way of saying, I love you. Then I wasn't downish anymore.

5. I went to a lady's farm the other day and picked a big box of purple Italian plums, and two boxes of teeny tiny, sweet red plums.
I'm going to make jam.
I'll let you know how it goes. I'm super excited to make it. Even though it involves cooking.
And there was just something wonderful about picking those plums off those sweet little trees.

6. I'm going to plant trees at my new house. I hope my landlord doesn't mind. I'm not going to ask permission. Just in case he says no.

7. I got to (sorta) pick out the new carpet for our new home (I got to tell the landlord what I wanted and he went with it.). I love it. It smells new, and looks like coffee. Which is great since I spill more coffee than I drink.

8. I get to pick out the new paint too! Yay!

9. Hawkeye asked me to marry him. Not really.

10. I don't have to shave my legs anymore since it's practically winter now. Not really.
The five o'clock shadow on my legs itches too much for me to get away with that.

11. The weather is so nice these days. I love sunshiny fall days.

12. We now have a kid's choir at church, and I get a lump in my throat every time they get up to sing.
They're so cute and sweet and good. I hope they never change.

13. I teach a Sunday school class with Rachel.
We have a 6yr old boy who loves making fart noises more than anything (Bet you've never heard The B-I-B-L-E sung in fart noises have you? Well I have.). I took his face between my hands one morning and told him to look deep into my eyes, Let there be no longer fart noises, but rather let there be silence. He looked at me and silently mouthed, Fart.
I gave up and decided to embrace the fart in him. Figuratively speaking.

14. I love Target right now. I want to marry it. That Threshold line... be still my heart. And someone gave me a Target gift card today! And Target Starbucks kiosks were having a buy one, get one free for a few days. I love free Starbucks.
Excuse me while I go marry Target.

15. We had our church's anniversary meeting Sunday-Tuesday this week.
It was so wonderful. That meeting is the highlight of my year. There's nothing like sitting in church all day, with God's people, singing our lungs out, and getting our guts preached out. Maybe that sounds crazy to you, but I love it.
And the crowning joy this year was when I was downstairs shaking out tablecloths for dinner and I heard everyone screaming and hollering and yelling upstairs, and I was like, Did Christ just return? What happened? And someone came running down saying, Did you hear? Caleb got parole! 
Most of the people at the meeting have never met Josh and Caleb, but they've all been praying for them for 9 years. So to hear that news was... beyond words. Praise God.

God is so good.

She Who's Cup Overflows. Over And Over Again.

October 04, 2012

sweet babies

Two of my friends, Bonnie and Talia, just had new babies.
New babies are so... new.
Little, tiny, fragile things with, apparently, giant sets of lungs that can shriek like no other.
I love them. Except for changing their diapers. I don't love that part. That's when I give them back to their mommies.

Bonnie and Malachi... (Little guy was 3 weeks early and still weighed in at almost 9lbs. Holy smokes.)

Talia and Ella Mae... (I LOVE her sweet, fuzzy hair!)

We had a double shower for them since their due dates were so close together.
The shower was supposed to be Saturday before last, and I knew I was cutting it awfully close to their due dates, but they both assured me it was fine and they never go early and if anything, they go late.
Then they both went and had their babies early.
So instead of having the shower last Saturday, I was at Talia's, watching her kids while she was at the midwife's clinic.
But it was fine. We had the shower Tuesday night instead and it was perfect.
And although I'm not a big fan of showers, I had fun planning, designating, and decorating for this one.
I had lots of help. I have to say a giant thanks to my girlfriends, Jaime and Ruth-Anna, who made fruit kabobs, Adam who made the Monte Cristo sandwiches, and Karen who made the super yummy cupcakes, and to everyone else who pitched in and made my life easier.

We had over 50 people crammed into Karen's house. (Can anyone say body heat? We had lots of that going on in Karen's living room.)
And the piles of gifts filled Karen's dining room floor to overflowing. You've never seen so many presents in one place!

I had fun, fun, fun with the decorations, and pretty much burned my fingerprints off with the hot gluing I had to do.
And I loved these free invitations that Karen found on Pinterest for me.

One of my talented friends made some photo booth props.
Funny how those things bring out the silly in you.
These pictures are my favorites. I love them.

Sweet little Ella Mae, barely a day old.

We had lots of babies at the shower. Aren't they cute?

I was so relieved the shower went off without a hitch.
And when I looked around at the 50 plus women gathered at Karen's house to show love and friendship to Bonnie and Talia, I was so happy to be a part of it that I thought I'd pop.
And those babies are the sweetest things. New life is always sweet.


October 03, 2012

emma dear

Emma turned eight the other day.
She should still be four.

Emma is a princess girl.

She likes pink and sparkles.

Sometimes she dresses herself. And we actually take her out in public.

She's like sunshine.

The smallest things float her boat.

And like I said... sometimes she dresses herself. The we take her to Walmart so she'll fit in.

Emma dear, I love you.
I hope you stay young at heart forever.

October 02, 2012

homeless... sorta

Guess what. I moved.
We're out of our apartment, but our new place isn't quite ready to move into so our stuff is in storage and we're homeless. Living in a cardboard box.

This move happened really quick.
One day we were peacefully living in our apartment, listening to our upper neighbor pee every morning, listening to our lower neighbor bang on his ceiling (my floor) every time I so much as blew my nose, and glaring balefully at the apartment manager for making me get rid of my garden, and then the next day I had found a new place for us to live and handed in my notice and we moved out.
I am ever so happy to be out of that apartment. That manager tried making me stay another month. She said it was the law or something. So I called Heather (She's my friend. And an attorney.) and asked her to call that manager and to use her mean voice while she was at it.
So she did and it worked because next thing I knew, they were calling me up and telling me, Of course you can move! Let us know what we can do to help you!
Which I figured was code for, Sorry we lied to you about Idaho landlord/tenant laws...
I'm very thankful for Heather's mean voice right now. Without it, I would still be listening to my neighbor peeing.

Anyway, about that cardboard box. We're not really living in one.
We're staying in a condo. On the lake in Coeur d'Alene. Overlooking the golf course.
I know the guy who owns it and one day I was telling him about me n' Moma staying with a friend for a week or so until our new house is ready for us and he was like, Why don't you stay in my condo at the Terraces? No one stays there. It's nice. It has two bedrooms, one for each of you.
And then I was like, AreyouseriousIwouldlovetocanIgiveyouahugwe'rebestfriendsforever.
And then I came over and saw the condo and was so impressed. My jaw kept dropping and I kept having to drag it around behind me.

This place has lots of toys and fun stuff, but my faves are 1) the view, and 2) the coffee/espresso/cappuccino maker thingy.
I made myself a pumpkin spice cappuccino this morning.
I'll give you the recipe. It's my very own...
Pour your milk and caramel macchiato creamer into a mug. Froth it. Stand amazed at the mini tornado that shoots out of that frothing nozzle. Clean up the froth that somehow frothed everywhere but in your mug. Add a shot of espresso. Blink and flinch and twitch a lot because you wonder if a tornado will come out of the espresso nozzle too. Remember you still have a little bit of pumpkin spice latte that you bought from Starbucks two days ago left over in the fridge. Pour that in with what's left of your frothed milk and shot of espresso. Stir. Nuke it for 80 seconds because by the time you clean up the mess, it's gotten cold. Drink it. Enjoy the view. Take a nap. The end.

There was another cool thing here that I was really excited to try. The bathtub. Even though I'm afraid of drowning in the tub, the water comes out of the ceiling in this one. How cool is that? Like a gentle little waterfall, pouring over you like warm raindrops. Not. That's what I imagined it would be like, but when I turned the water on, instead of a babbling little waterfall flowing down, a giant chunk of water basically fell out of the ceiling and landed in the tub with a bang like an atom bomb. If I had been standing under that water, I would be dead right now. Or my eyeballs would have at least been forced to exit my skull by the force of that water rocketing into my unsuspecting person.
I don't think I've ever been so surprised in my life. One second I was thinking happy thoughts about gentle raindrops, and the next I was checking to see if I had been murdered by the bath water shooting out of the ceiling.
Anyway, you won't have to worry about me drowning in the tub. Because I'm too afraid to use the one here.

Isn't it nice? It's like a free vacation. And just when I wanted a vacation too!
Moving wore me out.
To the point that I wore my shirt on backwards all day.
Then I noticed my plastic shower curtain liner was wet and I wanted it to be dry so I put it in the dryer and had to spend awhile scraping it's melted remains off the back of the dryer.
And when Rachel was spending the night and making herself some popcorn and Moma said, Put it in the microwave for 2 and a half minutes, I hollered out, No! You're supposed to do it for 2 minutes and 30 seconds. That's what the bag says! And Moma was like, That's 2 and a half minutes... And I was like, Oh...

So anyway, we are currently sorta homeless. But although I'm really anxious to set up house in our new place, I'm pretty much enjoying the homeless part.
God is really good to have worked this out for me and Moma. I'm blessed... and spoiled.

She Who Is Glad She Didn't Accidently Commit Suicide In The Dangerous Bathtub