Friday, December 31, 2010

A Yummy One: Peanut Butter Cake

Here's a recipe that's worth checking out if you're a peanut butter fan! I got this from a Gooseberry Patch book and modified it very slightly. It's called the Peanut Butter Texas Sheet Cake. Here's the recipe (check your fridge for margarine/butter before starting this - the frosting calls for butter too!)

2 c all-purpose flour
2 c sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 c butter (I used margarine)
1 c water
1/4 creamy peanut butter
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c buttermilk (or make your own - a scant 1/2 c milk with 1 1/2 tsp vinegar, let sit 5 minutes)

Combine flour, sugar, salt and b. soda in a large bowl, set aside. Combine butter, water and peanut butter in a saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil. Add to flour mixture and mix well, set aside. Combine eggs, vanilla and buttermilk; add to peanut butter mixture. Spread into a greased 15"x 10" jelly-roll pan. (And sprinkle on a few chocolate chips if your little heart so desires!!!) Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until it springs back when gently touched. Spread Peanut Butter Icing over warm cake. Makes 15-20 servings.

Peanut Butter Icing:
1/2 c butter
1/4 c creamy peanut butter
1/3 c plus 1 T milk
16 oz. pkg. powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine butter, peanut butter and milk in a saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil. Remove from heat, stir in powdered sugar and vanilla to spreading consistency. (I ran out of powdered sugar and simply added more peanut butter to thicken it up - my Mom's idea. It worked!)

This recipe may take a little more work than some, but it definitely worthwhile - it's moist and rich and peanut-buttery. Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I love this flower! It's late November (almost Thanksgiving!) in Wisconsin, and I only took this picture a few days ago. It's only just starting to wilt a little from the cold, even though we've been getting increasingly wintry weather for a couple weeks now. It comes up every year and always keeps blooming well into the fall. Look at those healthy green leaves!

I think the reason for its longevity is because it is so well sheltered. It's tucked right up against a building and has some other plants around it, so it's protected from the wind. The sun probably warms the bricks behind it.
This reminds me of the way God is a refuge for us. If we try to stand on our own, far from Him, we'll wilt in the cold and wind. But if we draw near to Him and seek refuge in Him, trusting Him to take care of us, we'll be sheltered from whatever life throws at us. We'll not just survive in our Christian walk, but thrive if we learn to take advantage of the unshakeable security that God offers His children!

"Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, for my soul takes refuge in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge until destruction passes by. I will cry to God Most High, to God who accomplishes all things for me. He will send from heaven and save me; He reproaches him who tramples upon me. God will send forth His lovingkindness and His truth." Ps. 57:1-3

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Recent Goings On...

So my sister and I randomly decided to decorate our room for autumn last night. It was fun! We gathered leaves, pine cones and branches on our way back from supper, and then scrounged around in the room for other decorations. Here's what we came up with! :)

A huge improvement over the bare white walls!

The leaves are supposed to be drifting down...

One of my favorite parts is probably the turkey up the corner. My Mom sent him last year. :)

All in all, it was a very pleasant Friday evening! :D

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Squirrel Story Part III

For those who have been following these posts, here is the conclusion! If you're just reading this now, though, you may want to go back to this post for the beginning of the story. Enjoy! :)


They visited many more houses. Erin found herself growing more and more depressed with each one – they were all empty, with no signs of life. Squirilious obligingly stood next to each house and let her poke her head in a window. The chambers were fascinating…but felt dead and cold.

Evening was beginning to fall; chilly shadows crept across the forest. The temperature was dropping, and Erin was glad for the warmth of the squirrel beneath her.

She looked at her watch again. “It’s time,” she said softly to Squirilious. “We should just make it to Jewlie’s Rock.”

“All right, then, hang on tight!” Squirilious called back over his shoulder. “I’ll give you a ride to remember!”

He fulfilled his promise. He climbed higher than ever before in the trees and leapt impossible distances between branches, soaring. Erin felt almost as though she were flying each time, looking down at the ground so far below, hanging in the air for a long moment before grasping the twigs of the next tree. She wished it would never end.

She would do it – she would go with Squirilious and all the others to the new world. How could she not? How could she go through the rest of her life wondering, “What if?”

They had reached Powerline Trail. Jewlie’s Rock was on the far side of the trail. Squirilious had to leave the trees for a moment and scurry through the underbrush to get to the rock. Even the smallest of trees was monumental, though, and Erin soaked it all in.

In a moment they were across the trail and standing before the rock. Erin gasped – hundreds, no, thousands of little people and their animal friends stood waiting, bundles of belongings attached to the saddles. She glanced at her watch one more time and was relieved to see that she was right on time. It would’ve been very embarrassing to keep so many people waiting.

She unstrapped her legs from the saddle and slid reluctantly off Squirilious’ back. Her knees nearly buckled, and she realized that she was probably going to be saddle sore the next day.

She looked up at Jewlie’s Rock, a boulder that normally stood a little higher than her head. Now it loomed, massive. Something looked different about it, though – it didn’t look as tall as it should. She blinked in astonishment as she realized what had happened – the entire top quarter of the rock had slid off the back! A faint light glowed from the open top of the rock, illuminating the tiny spring leaves of the birch that hung overhead.

Wellinghurst came forward to meet Erin and Squirilious. His face was solemn but peaceful. “Well, my child, you have come to help us,” he murmured. “We are all eternally grateful to you for your willingness. I hope you had a pleasant afternoon?”

Erin nodded, unable to speak past the lump in her throat. Did they really have to leave? Why couldn’t they keep living the way they had? No one had discovered them so far!

Wellinghurst turned to the people. “Mount up!” he cried. “The time is at hand. It is time to exit Earth and forge new paths!”

A great cheer arose, and there was a flurry of activity as people leapt onto the backs of sparrows, chickadees, squirrels, red squirrels, and chipmunks. There were even a couple blue jays among the animals; they had to crouch down low for the people to climb aboard. Children rode with their parents, though a few children had mice to ride – rather like ponies for human children, Erin thought.

The birds fluttered to the top of the rock and the other animals climbed; they all disappeared in a little flash of light. Last of all went Wellinghurst, astride a majestic and cocky blue jay. Pausing at the top, he turned his mount in midair and waved at Erin. “Command the door to close, and it will,” he called. “You will forever be known in our tales as a truly courageous Earth-child. Farewell!” He dove down toward the top of the rock and disappeared.

Erin suddenly realized that she was back to her normal height. She stood perfectly still for a long moment, staring at the glowing rock. This was her only chance. Never again would she have such an opportunity for adventure…

With a pain in her heart, she closed her eyes. She knew what was right. “Close,” she whispered.

The light disappeared.

Slowly she turned around. The sun was starting to set over the Moat Mountains; her parents would be worried if she wasn’t home soon.

Movement at her feet caught her eye. She looked down and saw a little red squirrel staring up at her, still wearing his harness. “Squirilious!” she gasped, dropping to her knees in front of him. “You didn’t make it through the door!”

He rubbed against her hands, soft and warm. “I meant to stay,” he said. “I wanted to be with you. May I come live in that oak by your house?”

Tears of joy burned in Erin’s eyes as she gently picked Squirilious up. “You may,” she replied, and turned toward home with her friend perched on her shoulder.

The End! :D

Friday, October 22, 2010

Squirrel Story Part II

If you missed yesterday's post, this is Part 2 of a story that I'm sharing for your enjoyment. I wrote it a couple years ago in Creative Writing class and thought it turned out kind of fun. Enjoy, and be sure to tune in tomorrow night for the exciting conclusion!!! :)


Erin stared in astonishment: atop the craggy, waist-high rock stood a dozen tiny people, each no more than three inches tall! Many of them held the reins of saddled sparrows, chipmunks, or red squirrels. Their clothing blended in with the browns and grays of the early springtime forest.

One man stood nearest the front of the group. Dressed in flowing, silvery gray robes, like the bark of a beech tree, he had a long white beard and wore a tiny woven circlet on his head.

Because it seemed the right thing to do – and because she wanted a better look at the tiny people – Erin sank to her knees in front of the rock, her heart thundering in amazement and excitement.

The little man nodded, looking pleased. “My child,” he said in a voice that was tiny but surprisingly deep, “You greatly honor the people of Whitaker Woods by coming to hear our request. I commend your noble spirit, for I know it is no light matter for a giant such as yourself to respond to something so unusual as a talking squirrel! You were chosen in part because the younger of your species seem to be more willing to accept such notions.

“Allow me to explain why we have sent for you this day: For many, many years my people have occupied this vast tract of land known to you giants as Whitaker Woods; in fact, we have been here far longer than the woods have borne that name! In recent years, however, the giant people have become far too active, erecting dwelling places ever nearer our borders, crisscrossing our territories with trails, allowing the ridiculous beasts known as ‘dogs’ to rampage through our forest and harass our animal friends…you see the picture, I hope.

“The bottom line is this: we must leave this world as soon as possible. We have a door designed for just such a purpose, but we need someone to shut it behind us, for it cannot be closed from the inside. We have watched and waited for a long time for a giant sensible and kind enough to assist us, and my scouts tell me that you are the ideal candidate. So I ask you, are you willing to help us exit Earth?”

Erin stared wide-eyed at him, wondering if she was dreaming. This couldn’t really be happening, could it? Words came from her mouth, though, confirming that she was not dreaming. “Uh, I would be glad to help,” she stammered, even as her mind screamed, But I just found out about you – you can’t go now!

“You are distressed,” Wellinghurst observed. “Giants’ faces are so easy to read…so large…well, my child, what is troubling you?”

Erin swallowed, not liking the idea of her emotions showing so clearly. This was her only chance, though! “Why do you have to leave now?” she blurted out. “This is so incredible – little people living in the woods! There’s so much I want to know about you!”

Wellinghurst’s solemn face softened slightly. “Well, I can’t deny that we are a fascinating people…very well. I shall grant you three hours among us, but at the end of that time, you must promise to do what we have asked you!”

Erin, almost choking on her excitement, gasped, “I promise!” Suddenly she was falling, tumbling through the air past a huge gray cliff! She opened her mouth to scream, but just then something swooped underneath her. With a breathless jar, she found herself astride a huge bird. She looked around wildly, clinging to the soft, flexible saddle on the bird’s back. They were soaring through the trees, which had become immense. The reality of the situation hit Erin with a jolt that made her gasp – she had become a tiny person and was riding a sparrow! Wellinghurst had been very literal when he had said that she could have some time among the little people.

The sparrow dove back down to the boulder and landed lightly in front of Wellinghurst. Erin noticed that one of the little people near the back of the group was fitting Squirilious with a saddle. She dismounted from the sparrow shakily but was so excited that she barely noticed her trembling. Whitaker Woods looked like a whole different world when she was only three inches tall!

Wellinghurst, now more than a head taller than Erin, beamed at her as she approached. “Squirilious has offered to be your guide for this time,” he said. “He will carry you wherever you wish to go in the forest and in the evening will bring you to Jewlie’s Rock for the departure. I hope you have a pleasant time seeing our great forest as we see it.”

“Thank you, sir,” Erin replied breathlessly.

Squirilious bounced forward, his tail twitching in excitement. He now towered over her. “Ready, ready, ready?” he demanded. “Climb on and let’s go!”

Erin, with the help of a smiling little woman, climbed onto the saddle and strapped her legs to it. She suspected that the ride was going to be a little rough.

Sure enough, as soon as Erin was settled, Squirilious took off with a fantastic leap onto the side of a nearby Hemlock tree. Erin wouldn’t have had a chance of staying on his back if she hadn’t been thoroughly strapped on.

For a time all they did was make their way through the trees, bounding from branch to branch seemingly miles above the forest floor. Squirilious scampered up and down tree trunks, chattering and laughing as he went, obviously enjoying himself immensely.

Erin simply hung on tight, thrilled beyond words. She tried to soak in every last detail, knowing that the experience was once in a lifetime. Unless… A thought strayed into her mind. What if she went with the little people through their door to another world? What adventures might she have there? What marvelous things might she see? Her thoughts spun out of control and she gasped for breath in her excitement. She would do it! Just like the characters in all the books she read, she would leave Earth and have incredible adventures of her own.

But then who would shut the door behind her? Like clouds creeping in front of the sun, darker thoughts intruded on her happy vision. What would her parents do if she disappeared? What if she missed home once she was in the new world, but couldn’t ever get back?

Her tumultuous thoughts were interrupted as Squirilious suddenly skidded to a halt on a branch high in a White Pine. She looked around, wondering why they were stopping, and let out a cry of delight – they were visiting someone’s home!

Nestled against the trunk of the tree was a carefully built log house, small to her even as a tiny person. It seemed to be held in place by a combination of dried-grass ropes and pine pitch. The little front door had a window cut into it with a curtain gently swaying in the breeze.

“My good friend Bancroft and his family lived here,” Squirilious commented. “They’ve packed up now, though, and are probably riding my cousins Rambunctious and Trillium to Jewlie’s Rock.”

“Are the animals leaving too?” Erin asked in dismay.

“Some of us are. But don’t worry – there’ll be plenty of animals left in the woods. Not many of us have learned to speak and carry passengers.”

Before they moved on, Erin glanced at her watch and saw that one hour of her time was gone. Two more hours to decide…

To be continued...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I Promised You Randomness!

I've decided to do something a little different today - it's story time!!! I've always enjoyed writing. My first year here at Northland I took their Creative Writing class and had a lot of fun writing this short story. I do feel a need to insert a mild disclaimer: I am shifting away from fantasy in my writing, not because it's wrong but because I feel that it's not the best use of my time and energy. This story is just meant to be fun! I'll post the first part tonight and the rest of it in a few days. Enjoy! :D


Erin didn’t know what made her look up from her book as she sat in the sun on the front steps. Glancing around, she spotted a red squirrel near the base of the big oak across the driveway and decided that its movement was all that had caught her attention. About to go back to her book, she paused and looked more closely at the squirrel; something wasn’t right. Instead of bouncing jauntily along, the little red squirrel was crawling as if exhausted. It came to a halt under a rosebush in the flowerbed on the far side of the driveway and lay still, eyes nearly closed, breathing labored.

Full of compassion, she set down her book and approached the animal cautiously, wondering if there was anything she could do to help it, even as her mother’s warnings about sick animals played through her mind. As she slowly drew near, the squirrel turned its head and looked at her. Shock jolted through her as it opened its mouth and spoke. “Come closer,” it squeaked. “I have a message of utmost importance for you…”

Erin stood frozen, staring at the little animal in disbelief. She looked around warily, thinking that someone must be playing a very strange trick on her, but her grasping mind could not come up with even one person who knew where she lived, much less knew her well enough to try to joke with her. Maybe she was dreaming - her mother had told her often enough that all the fantasy books she read would lead to strange dreams…

“Didn’t you hear me?” the squirrel snapped, jerking his bushy red tail impatiently. He rallied his strength and sat up in a pose more typical of squirrels. Fixing his small black eyes on Erin, he continued, “I, Squirilious the Red, have been called upon by the people of Whitaker Woods to deliver a message to you. We need your help. I am not the one to explain the intricacies of the matter, however; you are to come with me and our great and mighty Chief Warlord will make all things clear to you.”

“Warlord?” Erin repeated nervously, taking a small step backward. “Whitaker Woods has a warlord?” She’d been walking in the small wood down the street for years and had never seen anyone there except for recreational purposes. She certainly hadn’t noticed any wars!

Outraged, Squirilious the Red flashed up a nearby fencepost, a flame in the bright sunlight, and cried out in his fierce, high-pitched voice, “Of course Whitaker Woods has a warlord: our Champion, his Eminence, the Great and Mighty Wellinghurst the Third!”

Erin blinked. Wellinghurst was the name of one of the trails in Whitaker Woods.

Remembering his exhaustion, Squirilious slid back to the ground and lay still a moment, panting. In a calmer voice, he acknowledged, “Of course, it’s rather the entire point that you do not know of his existence or of his people. Forgive my redheaded temper, if you will be so kind. But we must be moving now! Onward!”

He skittered madly toward the road, and Erin, not knowing what possessed her, found herself following.

Squirilious paused at the edge of the pavement and turned toward Erin. “I fear we are about to face what may be the most perilous part of our journey,” he said gravely. “Many of my compatriots have been slaughtered by the great ferocious beasts that haunt this barren strip of land. One nearly got me on my earlier crossing. I am fortunate to have escaped with my life!”

Assuming the squirrel was referring to cars, Erin looked at the road, which was empty of traffic of any kind. Oak Street was a quiet road. “Human mothers always teach their children to look both ways before crossing,” she told Squirilious nonetheless.

His tail twitched violently. “Look both ways?” he chattered. “Why – why – what a perfectly tremendous idea! That way the blasted beasts don’t have a chance to sneak up! Fabulous!” Carefully looking in each direction, he zipped across the road, Erin hot on his heels. At the other side, he stopped again and looked up at Erin with admiration shining in his black, beady eyes. “How perfectly fantastic!” he gasped. “I can see why you were chosen! Oh, I have so much to tell my cousins…”

Chosen for what?” Erin asked in alarm. Squirilious had already taken off again, though, and she had to run to keep him in sight. They were on a trail now, an unnamed path that led from Oak Street to Whitaker Lane, the main trail of Whitaker Woods. It was one of Erin’s favorite times of the year, after the snow was gone but before the foliage and bugs made it difficult to wander off the trails. The weather was warm enough to leave her coat behind, but not uncomfortably hot.

Squirilious took to the trees as soon as he could, leaping from branch to branch along the trail, chittering to himself as he went, apparently fully recovered from his earlier discomfort. Erin raced along after him, her blond ponytail bouncing. She wondered what passersby would think if they saw her chasing a squirrel!

After a moment they turned off Whitaker Lane onto a side trail, then swerved into the trees. Erin’s legs were starting to grow tired and she was gasping for breath, but she feared that if she stopped to rest she would lose Squirilious and would never find out what was going on! What was she chosen for, and why had she of all people been chosen? Shy and quiet, she was never picked for anything at school.

Just as she was about to call out to the squirrel to pause for a moment so she could catch her breath, he came to a halt at the base of a low granite boulder. He turned to Erin and squeaked, “Madam, the Great and Mighty Warlord of Whitaker Woods, Wellinghurst the Third!”

To be continued...

Saturday, October 9, 2010

I got to go on another walk today - I'm taking every chance I can to enjoy the nice weather before it gets cold! I don't think Wisconsin is much colder than New Hampshire, but the wind makes it pretty intense in the winter. My sister, roommate and I went down to Reflection Lake. Most of the brighter colors had faded, but the oaks are coming into their own with a spectacular deep red. I think we missed the peak of the foliage but (this will teach me not to complain!) I heard that during the paintball retreat last weekend two teenage girls responded to a simple Gospel message and accepted Christ as their Savior!

There are still a few yellow trees around...

Here's the lake itself. The school puts out a few canoes during the warmer months, so we took a spin around the lake. It's so peaceful being on the water!

"The grass withers, the flower fades; But the word of our God stands forever."
Isaiah 40:8

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Autumn Walk

I got an unexpected blessing today - I had really wanted to go on a walk and enjoy the fall foliage. Today was pretty much the first day I've had a little bit of time off from homework in a while, but most of the trails were closed for a paintball tournament. Now that would spoil a nice walk - being shot at! :) But this afternoon it occurred to me that there's a section of smaller trails that the paintball people probably wouldn't be using, so my sister and I got to go out after all. Autumn is my favorite season!

In parting, here's a verse that's coming to mean a lot to me as I seek to grow in Christ: "I have set the LORD continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken." Ps.16:8

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Coffee Toffee Bars

I just made these this afternoon and thought I'd share the recipe with more photos than my previous post. You can also find this in printable form on

Here's what you'll need to make these delicious Coffee Toffee Bars, one of my family's favorites: Margarine, brown sugar, almond extract, instant coffee granules, flour, baking powder, salt and chocolate chips. I'll include some alternate ingredients at the end of the post!

First, melt the margarine.

Add the brown sugar.

The almond extract.

The coffee granules. You can play around with this a little if you prefer a stronger or more subtle coffee flavor.

Stir together the previous ingredients, then add flour.

Baking powder.

And salt.

Stir them all together. This will be a fairly thick batter - see how it pulls away from the sides of the bowl?

Press it into a greased pan.

Sprinkle (as liberally as you want!) with chocolate chips and lightly press them into the batter.

Place in an oven preheated to 35o degrees F.

Bake for 20-25 minutes (mine went about 30-35 because I doubled it). Edges should be slightly brown - but don't overbake it! I'd err on the doughier side if in doubt.

Let it cool for a few minutes, then dig in and enjoy! See the Tasty Kitchen post for a summary of the recipe and a printable version.

-Try adding chopped nuts
-Add coconut
-Substitute vanilla extract for the almond extract
-Substitute Heath bar bits for the chocolate chips

Any other clever substitution suggestions?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Home Again

My brother and I made it home from college this Sunday night - well, actually, Monday morning. We got home about 2am because one of our flights was cancelled and we had a couple long layovers we hadn't planned on. So Sunday was a really long day (we had gotten up at 5:30 in the morning) but we don't mind because we're finally home now. =)

I've kept busy since getting back - went on a long walk with the family, helped Spring Clean the shoe/jacket closet, helped my Dad tidy up the barn, ran a load of stuff to the thrift store, ran some other errands, rearranged my all makes me feel very accomplished! ;)

Yesterday we were moving an old fridge and something fell out from underneath.

At first I thought it was just a blob of dust.

Then I noticed that it was actually a very dusty bunny.

And then the light turned on:

It's a real live dustbunny!!!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Happiness is a Big Bubble

Hi, it's me again...only 2 months after my last post...sorry! College has been crazy lately - translating Hosea, for example, and working on an Ecclesiology paper, practicing extricating people from vehicles (Emergency Response class), Greek homework, working in the bakery, piano, reading a 700-page book...and blowing bubbles! That's right, I'm giving you a how-to on a sure way to brighten your day - and it won't cost you a thing, since you (hopefully) wash your hands often anyway! I re-discovered this trick recently and found it quite enthralling. Here's how to do it:

1. Soap up really well. I'm still figuring out the proportions here, but it definitely seems like more soap is better - and it'll get rid of more germs, too! Get your hands wet, but not so much that you wash all the soap off.

2. Rub your thumb against the side of your forefinger. This is where you want the highest concentration of soap to be.

3. Slowly slide your thumb down toward the tip of your finger, making sure they stay touching at all times.

4. You now have your very own bubble wand! If you've kept contact between your thumb and finger, you should have a thin film of soap in the middle of the circle. If not, repeat steps 2 and 3, adding a little more soap or water if necessary.

5. Now blow gently through the circle, carefully forming your bubble. When it gets the size you want it, close the circle, again keeping the finger and thumb together. The bubble will sit neatly in your hand!

Try it out! You can get them pretty big when conditions are right. If your other hand is still soaped, you can sometimes play with the bubble without popping it.

Make sure you try this out the next time you wash your hands! If you have kids, though, you might want to keep this a secret...I can see how this power could be very messy in the wrong hands. ;) Enjoy your Spring!!!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Recent Randomness in My Life

Life at college is never boring. Well, I shouldn't say that...sometimes that Greek homework can get a little dull...but, anyway - there's almost always something going on! Believe it or not, I'm approaching the close of my fourth week here, and it's amazing how the time has sped by. I feel like the Spring semester usually seems to go by more quickly.
This is going to be an exceedingly random post, highlighting a few things that have been going on lately here in the boonies of Wisconsin.

1. Where did our winter go?
I think all the people along the East Coast must've stolen it. I remember that last year it was so cold here I wasn't sure I'd make it back to my room at times! We've had a couple rather blustery days this year, but it's been mostly up in the 20s and sometimes even the 30s. Here's what it's supposed to be like:

This is my bedroom window during one of our few cold snaps - the inside of the window. Poor little guy...of course, I've heard that you can actually freeze flies and then revive them by warming them up. Kids, don't try this at home unless you're trying to provoke your parents to much wrath and consternation...which generally isn't a good idea, I've learned.

2. Craziness in the Bakery
So one day last week I was telling my roomie, "Yeah, I think it's going to be a nice easy day in the bakery...just a few muffins to bake for supper and then cleanup." Well, when I went in to work, my supervisor was frantically mixing up more muffin batter because the first batch hadn't been enough to fill up the quota of 400 banana muffins. I'd never realized it before, but banana muffins are devious little critters...and the loaves of bread seemed to be in on the plot too. I had things in three ovens in two different rooms with three timers going at once! Those muffins...what a night! I didn't clock out till an hour and a half longer than usual. There were two good results from the hardship, however: 1) A waitress came back and revived my soul by telling me that the students had raved over the muffins. Only a couple dozen of the original 400 remained. 2) I earned a sort of kitchen badge of honor - many of the workers have this little stripe on their arms (some have lots of stripes!) and I got my first one after nearly two years of kitchen work:

My labor was not in vain. The banana muffins did not succeed in crushing my spirit! I will go on to bake another day!!!
3. Adrenaline and Boredom: An Exercise
This evening at approximately 6pm, the fire alarms went off in the girls' dorm...after I'd changed into my comfy pajama pants. But, following the rules, I didn't take time to change and joined the throng of girls running over to the basement of the building next door. And there I remained while they checked the dorm out to find the problem. This was boring because I didn't think to grab any homework. It was entertaining, at least, to see what clothing combinations some of the girls were wearing. Thankfully no one had been caught in the shower - and thankfully, I had postponed the shower I had been planning to take!

4. The Roomies Strike Again!
I walked into my room last night after I got back from church and noticed the iron on my bed. I wondered if my roomies had been ironing something on my bed, which would be really weird. Then I flicked on the light and - well, see for yourself:

Apparently my beloved roomies took advantage of one of my rare trips off campus to set up this little surprise. Nothing is intentionally related - they just grabbed random stuff from around the room. I feel loved. =)

5. A Capitulation to Peer Pressure
Okay, brace yourselves - this is a big one. I finally caved: I got a Facebook account. I've stepped up into this century at long last! And I already have 35 friends. =)

Anyway...that should fulfill your need for randomness for a good long time. Feel free to suggest ways I can reciprocate to my roommates! And look me up on Facebook if you're not already my friend. Have a great weekend!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

My Family #2: The Best Mom Ever!

Well, in a recent post I told you a little bit about my Dad; now it's my Mom's turn! I've also got 2 brothers and 2 sisters that I'm trying to talk into doing guest posts eventually. :)

My Mom is really something spectacular. Just watch her for a little while and you'll see what God intended wives and mothers to be like. She really loves the Lord and her family and works hard to serve with all her heart and strength. As a child and teen she was active outdoors and in church activities. At 17 she began working in a hospital as a nurse's aide and a surgical technician. A few years later she married Dad and had all five of us kids in about 7 years. That in itself should tell you what a brave woman she is!

Over the years Mom has worked outside the home and from the home in various ways (most recently she had a home business selling chocolate products) but her heart's desire is to be at home serving God, Dad and our church. Recently our family took a step of faith and ceased the chocolate business so that Mom could devote more time to helping Dad and working on church-related projects. It's extremely hard to encapsulate all of what Mom does - for example, she spends hours every week working on our monthly ladies' Bible study and helping Dad out with his projects. She's also got some really great creative talents. I've put together a small assortment of her various creative outlets and ministries. Hopefully this collection will show you just a little of her talent and creativity.

I'll start with the cards that she designs. She faithfully sends a birthday card to each member of the church on their special day, and every week she designs and mails really cute, fun or encouraging cards to a few of our shut-ins. Here are a few that I would put in the category of "Just Plain Cute!" (Or, dare I say it, "Cute as a Bug...")

Most of the cards contain a verse or encouraging thought on the inside. The one below says "Pray without ceasing" (I Thess. 5:17).

Some of the cards are a little more involved than others:

The Indian in the middle is actually dangling on a string!

Some cards require intricate folding according to a pattern.

While Mom specializes in whimsical designs, she's not hard-pressed at all to turn out some really pretty things now and then:

Mom hosts an annual Ladies' Christmas Tea and an annual Spring Dinner - and she usually makes all the favors by hand (well, with a little help from the computer - but she does all the cutting, folding and touching up!). Here's a little purse that could hold candy or tea bags.

This was the invitation she sent out to all the ladies for our most recent Christmas tea. She cuts out all the irregularly shaped objects and assembles them! The bell can come off the invitation and be used as an ornament.

I apologize that this is sideways...this is a notebook that Mom decorated. These make great gifts - and the really nice thing is that no one is exactly the same.

This is from a few years ago - Mom made one of these for each of our place settings at Thanksgiving. Any wrinkles and dust are my fault - I've kept this for quite a while!

Below is an example of Mom's ingenuity - she designed an in-house mail system. Each of these bags has one of our names on it so we can drop each other a note or message now and then. The mini clothespins show you when you have something new in your bag.

Mom used to do a lot of watercolor painting, with a focus on old barns. She has a lot of really nice pieces, but I think this might be one of the only ones framed right now. If you saw my last post, the house that I painted was done with Mom's old palette and paints.

Okay, it was quite a while ago that Mom cross-stitched, but many of these pieces have been a part of our home for so long that it would be remiss to not mention them. This is the only one we have out right now, but it's a good example of the quality of Mom's work.

Finally, here's one of the more time-consuming projects she did in her continual effort to give her best in serving God - these were part of a ladies' event a few years ago. Each little piece of fabric had to be folded a certain way and a pin or two stuck through it into the styrofoam ball. She started these a long time ahead because she made a lot of them.

What makes your mom the best Mom in the world to you? I know Mother's Day is a while off, but it's never a bad time to share why we love family!