Well...a busy summer has shifted into a crazy autumn so far. Does this fall seem especially busy to everyone else too? The weather has been gorgeous lately, though I haven't had a ton of time to get out and enjoy it. In addition to getting between 24-40 hours a week at my regular job, I am now driving a friend's kids to school Monday-Friday. This means getting up at 6, arriving at their home by 7, helping the kids get ready and dropping them off at school/preschool, then getting back home a few minutes after 9. It's tiring, but the kids are good and I'm glad to help out...AND - I get a car!! :) Meet my new buddy:
It's a 2004 Mazda3, and I'm having a blast driving my own car around! My friends bought this for me so I could transport their kids; I'm paying it off by keeping track of the time I watch the kids each week. By the end of the school year, it'll be entirely mine! This was definitely the Lord working, as I didn't see any way I'd be able to afford a car for at least another year or two!
Another big part of my life for the last several weeks has been embarking on a low-carb diet with my sister. It's been about 9 weeks now, and I've lost around 21 pounds - which is SO amazing! Anyway, this diet allows nuts, so natural peanut butter has become a life-saver for both of us. Would you believe that on this diet we can have treats like this?
All you need are brownies (we had ones made with soy flour), whipped cream and peanut butter cookies. A sliced-up banana is yummy too. Here's our simple peanut butter cookie recipe:
“One” Peanut-butter Cookies
1 C sugar (or 1/2 to 3/4 cup Splenda)
1 C peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
Mix together and place by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet.
Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.
This is a super fast, easy and tasty recipe! It made about 20 cookies with a very small scoop. The cookies are a little crumbly, which makes them perfect for crumbling over the brownies. I'm sure they'd be great on ice cream too. Random question...why is it necessary to criss-cross peanut butter cookies with a fork? Why don't we do this with other kinds of cookies? I wondered this the two or three times I made these but decided not to balk at the tradition. Any theories?
To finish up with the recipe, gently heat your brownie in the microwave (or better yet, make fresh ones and get a warm one out of the pan!) and squirt/dollop/glop a generous portion of whipped cream on top. Then crumble 1-2 peanut butter cookies over the top and enjoy!
There are, of course, plenty of variations you could try with this...like I said, some banana slices are amazing, and we sometimes slap a little more peanut butter on top of the brownie before adding the whipped cream. For additional decadence, you could drizzle the entire creation with some hot fudge sauce...but we might be getting a little carried away now. ;)
In a recent post I shared the long, sad story of the pond pit. Here it lies in its early days, pretending to be a tiger pit or a landfill or something of the like.
Then after a year or two or four I enlisted my brothers, the Talented Tunnelers, and with their outstanding digging skills, we soon had...a bigger pit. Complete with honeycomb caverns in the sides! As I recall, we found some mysterious metal object and were trying to trace it to its source. We never did reach the end of the thing...maybe there's even a car buried under the hill! You never know in our yard - we've found bottles, pottery shards, bricks, metal pieces, broken china, pens...you name it, it's probably buried somewhere in our yard. Evidently occupants of some previous decade or century didn't believe in going to the dump. In fact, that plastic bag in the foreground was full of glass and china shards.
Anyway...the work progressed after another year or two and we finally had something that was starting to look like, well, something. Don't you think so?
No? Well, how about now? Yesterday I had a day completely off - which doesn't happen often! Usually when I have a day off from my normal job, I go clean a friend's house or help another friend with heavy-duty yardwork, etc. But this day I had all to myself. So what did I do? Landscaping! I managed to cross off most of my to-do list, which is one of the most spectacular feelings ever, especially cuz that doesn't happen often in my world. :) A couple days before, Dad and my younger brother and I moved this giant rock - with the help of our trusty van, some rope and lots of levers and wedges - from where it had been sitting in the middle of the yard for several years. It is now a bench. Then we went to our handy-dandy rock pile (every home should have one!) and collected a bunch of slabs of granite, hauling them back to the pond pit. Yesterday I utilized the rocks to finish the stone wall around the pit; now I just need to fill in behind it with dirt and add some flowers. I also moved these two Dwarf Alberta Spruces from other parts of the yard and excavated the stone steps headed down the hill on the right (you can see in previous pictures that they had been reclaimed by the grass).
I also pruned all the plants along the front of our house, raked up the debris, moved a tiny evergreen to a new place in the yard, moved a daylily to the front border, swept another stone path clean and re-piled our remaining rocks. All in all, it was a spectacular day off...and I slept very well that night! :)
An Opportunity: Budding archaeologists, alert! Would you like a site to rent? Come check out our place and find a treasure trove of goodies to dig up, catalog and preserve for posterity! Set up your dig almost anywhere in the yard and you're sure to strike gold (so to speak)! Hone your skills before setting off for your field of choice. Rental fees are very reasonable.
Well, just kidding about coming to dig in our yard (Mom and Dad would not be happy with me!), but as I mentioned earlier, it's true about finding stuff almost anywhere. Below are pictures of two of my finds just from digging holes for those small Spruces!
Well, that's it for today... join us next time for: A Decadent Dessert...Despite a Diet!
I was looking through some of my older pictures and was amazed at the power of the water in these waves! I wondered if there were any Bible verses that talked about crashing waves; here's a neat passage:
The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty; the LORD has clothed and girded Himself with strength; indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved. Your throne is established from of old; You are from everlasting. The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice, the floods lift up their pounding waves. More than the sounds of many waters, than the mighty breakers of the sea, the LORD on high is mighty. Your testimonies are fully confirmed; holiness befits Your house, O LORD, forevermore.
I wonder if the psalmist was standing on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea when he wrote this?
I've made more progress on the stone wall around the pond pit (see previous post), but - alas! alackaday! horror of horrors!!! - I forgot my camera in the back of my sister's car! We shall soon be reunited, but I noticed that as soon as I realized the camera was gone, I had a desperate need to take a bunch of pictures. Anyway, that explains why I had to scrounge through old photos in order to put a picture in this post.
I hope everyone is having an enjoyable beginning of September! :)
Hooray - I got my Mums planted! Here is the before picture - the barrels looked nice earlier in the summer, but the pink spiky things didn't bloom for long and the marigolds had kind of thinned out. I moved the bigger plants to a different part of the garden, regrouped the marigolds and planted a couple Mums.
Here's the "after" picture. Don't you just love the autumn colors? :) I was even good and mulched the barrels...now maybe they won't dry out so fast. I really don't know why I've never done that before...
I also spent a little time recently working on the pond hole. Now, this takes a little explanation - you see, my Dad really wants to have a small pond and waterfall in our backyard. So, probably about 5-6 years ago, we started digging a hole for a pond. Well, we didn't finish the hole or get the necessary equipment, so for a few years, we simply had a random hole in our backyard. It was a convenient spot to dump weeds, brush and whatever else we didn't want to lug a few yards further back to the treeline. It was also a convenient spot to break the legs of unsuspecting people wandering through our yard. See below for said pond hole:
Last summer I wrangled my brother into helping me do some more work on it. (Both of my brothers are excellent diggers - sometime I'll have to describe the Tunnel Incident!) We made some progress, but...well, this is about how it stayed for another year - with the minor cosmetic addition of a thriving colony of crabgrass.
Now we're getting somewhere! We have random piles of granite around our yard - we're in the Granite State, after all - and I spent a recent afternoon picking away at the infamous pond hole! Mind you, this isn't going to be the actual pond; this is simply the backdrop for it. Maybe eventually we'll actually dig a hole in the middle of this area and fill it with water - so that we have a pond to go in our pond hole! :D But at least it's finally starting to look like something...right?
Random question: can anyone tell me what kind of artwork this is? Does this style of painting have a specific name? I might try my hand at this style if I can find more examples to study.
Finally, be sure to check out my Dad's online woodworking shop - even if you've been on it before, make sure you check back because I've been adding new things periodically! Here's one of the pens I just listed a couple weeks ago; I'll be putting up a bunch more treenware soon.
Well, life has been busy since my last post! The long-awaited graduation has occurred, as evidenced by this photo as I shake hands with the president of Northland Baptist Bible College:
I got to keep the cap, tassel and honor cords, but the robe and hood were just rentals. Good riddance, in my opinion! They were terribly hot and complicated!
My family made the trip all the way from NH to WI to see me graduate - well, part of my family. Two of my siblings were already at college with me as a freshman and sophomore. So, shortly after the big event, all 7 (eventually 8, as we picked up a friend in WV!) of us packed into this rented RV, where we would remain for the next 10 days or so.
Quarters were plenty tight, but it was a fun and very different experience for us! We turned the trip into a (rare) family vacation and stopped at the Mall of America, a Medieval Times Restaurant and the Creation Museum. We all really enjoyed the Creation Museum - it's definitely worth a stop if you're ever anywhere in the area! I have plenty of pictures from the trip, but I love this one of a peacock at the Museum petting zoo. I had never thought that I would get pictures of a real peacock, but this one was very cooperative! :)
The day after we got home from our trip, Dad and I went to return the RV and took a roundabout route home so that I could take pictures of the rocky Maine coast. The purpose - a cover for his book!! Check it out - The Winds of Nnim is a Kindle ebook on Amazon.com! It only costs a few dollars to download, and even if you don't have a Kindle, you can get a free download of Kindle for PC (there's a link on the side of the Amazon page). This is really a fantastic read! He even put up the sequel, The Forest Kingdom, just a few days ago, so you won't have to wonder "What happens next??" for very long! :) (And let me tell you, you will be wondering what happens next!)
We took our friend from WV out on a moose-spotting expedition, and we were not disappointed! Here is a bull moose; you can just see the start of some antlers. Maybe I'll go looking for him again this fall when he's got a full rack!
I have completed a few projects around the house and yard, some of them more random than others. For example, we girls repainted our bedroom tan last year, and I made my corner of the room kind of rustic, with lots of antique wood decorations. This white-plastic edged corkboard didn't exactly fit...so I fixed it!! This is before...
And after!! :) I edged it with strips of thin wood held on by mounting tape. I'm very easily pleased! :)
Oh, and here's an important life lesson that I learned! This is just to the right of the corkboard and is above my bed, so I see it every day. The lesson: when you repaint, make sure you scrape rough spots and spackle them if necessary before putting on your new paint. In other words, don't take lazy shortcuts like me!! :P
Here's another project I helped (does taking pictures count as helping?) with. Our light fixtures on the porch...um...needed help, to put it lightly. There are supposed to be metal and glass pieces surrounding this light bulb; it looks like there are only a couple left by this point. Plus, the metal was pretty worn and we wanted to switch to black appliances anyway, so...
Yay! And it wasn't even that hard! Especially because I mostly just watched and helped put in a couple of the little screws at the end. :D
I also listed some of my Dad's spectacular woodwork online. You can view a sampling of his stuff here. This below is an example of his treenware, very cool little things that come in all shapes, sizes and colors!
I visited friends for the day a couple weeks ago and got to spend a while in a kayak, which is always enjoyable. The most exciting part, though, was getting to see a whole family of loons! This may even have been the babies' first time away from the nest, as we had been watching the parents earlier in the day and they didn't have the babies with them then. In any case, this was definitely the highlight of the day!
Yesterday morning there were some stormclouds in the west, up over the Moat Mountains, and after a little while a rainbow showed up. I like where it ends! :) Gold at the end of the rainbow indeed! That is our church steeple you can see, and it's actually copper, but hey, whatever.
And I will close with a toad. What better way to end a blog post? My siblings and I went on a walk in good old Whitaker Woods yesterday, which doesn't happen very often anymore with our assorted and sundry work schedules. It was very fun to be out again!
Well, until next time! I hope everyone is having a fabulous summer so far!!!
Well, six years after graduating from high school, the big day is finally drawing near! It's been a long journey, but this coming Saturday, I will be graduating from Northland Baptist Bible College. :) I graduated from home school at age 17, stayed home and worked for a year, then went to Clearwater Christian College, where I majored in General Studies [General as in "broad, undefined," not as in the military rank ;) ]. Then I stayed home another year and worked some more. I didn't feel like I was done with college, but I had no idea what I wanted to do. One day I randomly looked into NBBC and realized they had an English major. Since I enjoy writing, I thought I'd give that a try...well, that lasted a year, and then I switched to Biblical Languages. No one can ever accuse me of being overly logical! :D So I've stumbled through two years of Greek and Hebrew and am now looking forward to heading home, where I plan to work, help out in my church and just enjoy being home! I don't know where God will lead me in the next couple years, but I'm sure it'll be an adventure! :)
Here's how my final semester ended:
These are the winter room decorations my sister and I put up. If you see any large, chunky, square-ish snowflakes, those are the ones I made. If they are delicate and meticulously patterned, my sister did them. :) If there's one thing I've learned about myself over the years, it is that I am NOT meticulous.
The snowflake below caused us some alarm. My sister was staring over at it one day and suddenly asked me, "Are those 'H's around the outside?" I looked and agreed...and said, "Are those 'O's?" We looked a little harder and finally figured it out - "HO, HO HO!" We're assuming that this one is from a pattern that she found online; if not, this is one freaky snowflake!
A few weeks ago, we were naturally getting a little tired of anything to do with snow, so we put together a nice little spring display. This is the first part of it:
Also, our darling Mother sent us a bunch of super cute paper flowers, so we made this little "garden" on our bare cinderblock walls; it really livens the room up! We also made a few construction paper flowers, but alas!, life caught up to us and we never hung most of them up. Oh well - perhaps my sister can use them next year.
Oh, yeah...I almost forgot about this little guy. His name is Jack...but I have yet to decide what he is. You tell me - dog or bunny? Whatever he is, he's sure cute!! :D
As for life in the great outdoors of Wisconsin, I've enjoyed getting out more as the weather has gradually become more favorable to existence. Recently I went on a short walk and took 40+ pictures of...um...grass, pebbles and tree bark. I probably look like a lunatic when I do things like this, but hey...cool textures!!! :)
We've seen more deer lately - I think they appreciate the warmer weather too! This was taken on a walk a little ways behind campus, but I also have some pictures of deer right behind the girls' dorm in the middle of the afternoon! I'm sure they're enjoying the fresh green grass that's growing in.
Finally, this was taken yesterday...can you see the change from just the week before? :) I think spring is my second favorite season, right after fall. It's so refreshing to watch things gradually turn green as they awaken after the long winter - especially out here, where winters are cold, snowy and windy!
God has been good to me these three years at Northland...and I'm looking forward to His continuing goodness as I return home to continue striving to serve Him! You may now look forward to more posts on gardening, baking, writing and further randomness from my life! :)
This semester has flown by so far! I don't know why, but Spring Semester always seems to go way faster than the Fall. I'm glad of it, though - I enjoy school, but I'm looking forward to graduating in May and getting to spend time at home! I'll actually be home for a full garden season - YAY!!! :D
I've put together an assortment of photos I've taken over the semester...I haven't gotten out nearly as often as I'd have liked, but I guess college is supposed to be busy. :)
We've actually had a pretty mild winter for Wisconsin - really very little snow at all. There have been some cold times, but we've also had days when it's warm enough to go on a walk in the woods. My sister and I went out a few weeks ago, venturing through the trees to keep out of the wind. We came across these dried flowers:
I love the symmetry and intricate detail in Creation! I really don't see how anyone could believe that this happened by chance:
I've always been fascinated by the clouds out here - they're quite different from New Hampshire clouds. I'm theorizing that it may be because it's so much flatter here; we live in a valley at home.
Cirrus clouds such as these have rightly earned the nickname "Mare's Tails." I learned this by listening to my sister practice her informative speech on clouds many times! ;)
We also spent some time scooting around on big frozen puddles - well, at least, mostly frozen. I scooched out onto this one and stopped very suddenly when I heard an alarming crackling sound! It couldn't have been very deep - maybe a few inches - but that's still a sound that will fire up your adrenaline!! We spent quite a while admiring the air bubbles trapped in the ice; these ones had an interesting 3-D quality.
A while later I went on a walk alone and spent quite a bit of time acquainting myself with this old truck that was sitting out in a field. I have no idea how old it is or if it still works, but it had definitely seen better days.
Just this past weekend my sister and I had one of the highlights of the semester - we got to go on a trip to the big city! This was connected with our Christian and the Arts class; we left campus Friday afternoon, went to the performance of the Symphonie Fantastique by Hector Berlioz at the Milwauke Symphony, and then stayed in a hotel for the night. The next morning we left for Chicago and spent several hours at the Art Institute of Chicago. Finally, before heading back to school, we stopped at a pizza place and had authentic Chicago-style pizza! :) It was a really fun time and very interesting; I've included a few pictures below.
Here's the Chicago skyline right outside the Art Institute. My sister and I were very impressed, being small-town girls. :) We were also impressed with the bus driver's ability to maneuver down the tight roads; a couple times we were concerned that the bus would get stuck!
At the Art Institute, they have art of every medium and time period that you could wish to see. My sister and I didn't especially care for the modern stuff, but enjoyed perusing the ancient artifacts, arms and armor, etc. The Institute has a large Monet collection, which we found quite interesting as well. We found that we liked the paintings better if we stood a ways back - the texture is too much if you're close. :)
Hands down, though, our favorite section was the Thorne Miniature Rooms. These 68 rooms were assembled by a woman and her team some years ago, and they are incredibly detailed. As people who have done a tiny bit of miniature work, my sister and I were totally enthralled. They cover many European and American styles of decorating, mostly from the 18th and 19th centuries, but with a few more modern designs. There are also a couple Oriental rooms. I included just a couple pictures on this post; I apologize for their poor quality - the lighting wasn't the best and I kept getting my reflection on the glass.
I love this bedroom! I want a bed like that! :) I also really like the stairs coming down into the bedroom... All of these models are in 1:12 scale - 1 inch equals 1 foot.
Why don't they make homes with high ceilings like this any more?
Looking at the pictures, it's almost hard to believe that these are really miniature - they're done so well!
Well, Spring Break starts on Friday; everyone on campus can hardly wait! :) My sister and I don't get to go home, but we're looking forward to a quiet, relaxing 10 days. Hopefully we'll get to do some baking. We've only made 2 recipes so far this semester - pumpkin muffins and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies! :) I didn't get pictures, but if you click on the titles, you can follow the links to the recipes. They were both very yummy! :D We want to do one of our family's all-time favorites soon: Outrageous Chocolate Chip Cookies. If you're looking for a spectacular cookie recipe, give this a try! Just keep in mind that my Mom (who makes the best cookies EVER!) doesn't actually follow the amounts recommended...she just globs in a bunch of peanut butter and oats, and they always turn out amazing. So feel free to play around with the amounts of ingredients. :)
I hope everyone has a great remainder of the week...thanks, as always, for reading my ramblings!!! :D