December 30, 2007

chicken veggie soup with curry

This was another oops meal that will likely go into my repertoire. I came up with it when the pot of soup I made ended up being a bit bland. It's really exactly what the title says, and it's great for spicing up your usual chicken soup. Here's a brief rundown of how I made mine.

1 1/2 lb Chicken
1qt veggie stock
1qt chicken stock
1/2 c brown basmati rice
1/2 c pearl barley
garlic bulb
salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste
curry powder to taste (btw 1/4-1/2c)
water enough to make soup

Chop it all up. Throw it in the pot. Simmer till supper time, and enjoy.

December 28, 2007

waiting to homeschool

Lately I've been discussing some employment type opportunities with my in-laws. Theres several options we've discussed -some of them related to her natural health work. However, the more I look at it the more I realize that my first desire is to work with children. The problem is that there are several barriers to my doing so. Firstly, I have very little desire to go back and pick up an education degree. The education program in many places (from my limited previous research and experience) is something I don't care to touch with a ten foot pole. Their approaches and goals are often diametrically opposed to what is desirable and good in an educational program. Unfortunately it's often hard to get a job at even a Christian school without such a degree. There are Christian colleges were I could pursue either a second bachelors or an alternative masters, but neither Allen nor I think I'm quite ready to dive back into that lion's den. Those considerations aside, I don't particularly want to have charge of an entire classroom of 30 identically aged children each doing the exact same thing. An alternative to that is Montessori, but I can't find any Montessori training programs in the state, and I'm not sure about distance training in that field. Traditional tutoring might be an alternative albeit not a particularly attractive one. On top of all that...I don't do vaccines. Not anymore at least. I got the full complement (including hep and all that) growing up, but I don't particularly intend to get anymore if I can help it. And of course schools and all that generally require you to have everything under the sun. If you really add up what I want to do you end up with me poring over curriculum catalogs and a half dozen rugrats running around the living room. In short -homeschooling. Of course you can really homeschool unless you have kids, and I don't seem able to have kids right now until I can take care of my toxicity problem.It is a might frustrating. Particularly when I'm still getting people asking me what I'm going to do.

Thoughts on blogging

It's rather funny really. I love visiting Trina and Anna's blogs and browsing through all the pictures, but when I come to my own blog I rarely think about pictures except in the halfway guilty "I bet someone would appreciate seeing some" way. Funny isn't it? The thing I like in other blogs in not the thing I most enjoy doing with my own. Instead, I babble about this and that as the steady stream of words flows from my finger tips. I alway intend to post pictures, but I rarely actually do it.All the upload and wait sort of detracts from my spontaneous joy of sitting down and musing aloud through my keyboard.

December 26, 2007

Christmas reflections

No matter how old you are there's something special and exciting about piling every pillow and blanket you own on the living room floor (with the air mattress) and curling up to watch a favorite movie -especially if there are Christmas lights involved.

Chocolate fondue with fruit and cheesecake makes any movie better.

Hot buttered rum is delicious.

Playing Carcarssone with your husband at 3am while sipping a second buttered rum, while not recommended for everyone, is thoroughly enjoyable. Just don't plan on getting up early the next day.

Fireplaces are more fun at Christmas.

Homemade breakfast on Christmas Eve morning (or for brunch) is still a great idea.

Christmas lights you saw as a kid in mom and dad's car look different when you see them again with your husband in your own car. That's still one of my favorite houses though.

Christmas at the farm with Mamaw and my in-laws is special.

Overall, it was a good second Christmas.

December 22, 2007

a gradation of style

Pity I haven't the patience to get a picture up, but I think I can describe it fairly well. On my mantle you will find a rather tasteful arrangement of evergreen sprigs and holly berry garland punctuated by the gleam of white lights glowing like fallen stars in the greenery. Draped across the holly garland a plastic prism-studded garland glistens like a frosty fretwork. At either end I've placed my little village pieces -the house on one end and the church on the other. In between, framed by the greenery and garland, a manger scene of figures poses in the soft light. Next to the fireplace, just to the left, my little half-size tree is covered in a wealth of family ornaments. The table it sits on is covered by a gray fleece blanket decorated with patches and cutouts of deep red and frosty white and blue stitched in green thread. Then to the left of that is a bookcase draped with a single strand of colored lights. From right to left I have a somewhat elegant mantle, a familial tree, and a rather college student-eque bookcase. Rather amusing I must admit, but it honestly didn't feel like Christmas until I had a strand of lights draped over my bookcase for no very appreciable reason. Rather a hodge-podge, but I like it.

December 19, 2007

Happy Holiday?

I know I haven't been doing that much posting lately. Things have been busy. I've been tired. Plus the stress oozing out of my eyeballs. Sorry for the not so happy picture. It's just that our second Christmas is proving to be more frustrating and hard than our first one. Who would have thought of that one? Of course the first Christmas was all novelty -new city, new tree, new us, visiting family as a married couple!'s not so new. On top of that my energy levels are still down. On top of that we aren't staying with family and therefore being able to sort of just drift with the tide of "familiness." This year, it's just us for the most part having to make Christmas work together when neither one of us really had to make Christmas work before. Before marriage our parents planned things out, and we helped/participated to greater or lesser degrees. I loved to help make it happen, but I didn't bear the weight of it. Sitting around the living room watching Holiday Inn while the fire crackled merrily to itself wasn't something anyone had to really plan because it was just part of the fabric of Christmas. Mom did most of the meal and party planning too. Us girls just showed in the kitchen to help. I suppose this is the part that a lot of you young ladies were looking forward to when you got married. I was to in a way. I just didn't expect the learning curve to be so steep at parts. On top of that my family isn't exactly being....cordial. Didn't see them last Christmas. Haven't talked to Dad more than a few minutes this Christmas. May not get to even see him much less anyone else again this Christmas. (And no my parent's aren't separated. It's a long story.)

Anyway, it's not as though Allen and I aren't having a good Christmas. It's just that having a good Christmas is taking way more planning and communication than I ever dreamed. Two different sets of traditions and assumptions though. It should not have surprised me.

December 13, 2007

Christmas is coming....

You know how things will be going all crazy for a while where you're running around all stressed out and then something just clicks (usually after a lot of communication and a bit of elbow grease) and you wake up one morning feeling great? Well the past week or so I've been stressed on top of stressed on top of stressed. Family, gift buying, housecleaning, Allen, friends/church -even though I haven't been technically that busy the sheer weight of everything had pretty much been bowling me over. Of course Allen and I picked just this time to stop communicating effectively with each other...

But things are slowly getting back into shape. Allen and I pushed and got a few things done so I won't wear myself out trying to keep house and get Christmas projects done. We're communicating better, and I'm probably going to try making a batch of wedding ring cookies today. Since they're purely sugar and flower I don't make them but about once a year, but they are heavenly. Technically I could try making them with wheat flour and alternate sweeteners like maybe succanat or xylitol. I've done it with plenty of things before. Sometimes though there's just not a substitute for white flour and super refined sugar. The gingerbread though I'd be willing to play with. I have to wonder what a pastry grade wheat flour and/or something like succanat would do for the flavor. Maybe a small experiment is in order?

December 12, 2007

Almost done!!

I've almost finished all my Christmas shopping! I have literally three more things to get before I'm all done. Hurrah! Now if only Amazon will deliver the goods in time.

Over the river and through the woods...

This evening Allen and I went to Mamaw's to help her decorate for Christmas. Even though she's quite spry and still gets after the cows she didn't think she was up to dragging everything out of closets and storerooms and getting it all set up. So we volunteered to help. It's a good thing we did too 'cause even with all three of us working it took over an hour to get everything sorted and set up. It really was fun though. Allen and I pulled out boxes and set things up, and Mamaw superintended getting everything into the right place.

It's funny though. In some ways I'm still trying to figure her out. At first glance Mamaw is just a genial farm-girl who grew up during the Depression. She likes beans and tomatoes and living out her cattle farm. She never throws away a piece of string. On the other hand, she got an engineering degree long before female engineers were PC-hip and actually worked in her field for a time. She also reads books about the history of India and other far off places. She's definitely not someone you can read with a glance. One thing for sure though is that she's got a heart as big as all outdoors.

After getting everything set up we went back into the kitchen for cookies and coffee and left-over birthday cake. I suspect that we'll next be over there for Christmas day with all the family. Last year was my first time to go down there for Christmas, and it was so much fun. We had all kinds of good food, and we had the greatest times swapping gifts. Instead of everyone buying for everyone they have a dirty santa style gift swap. It's hilarious. The standing joke is that Aunt Sandra brings an ornament of some sort and Aaron tries to get it for target practice. I think someone has always ended up rescuing it though :D In my blog description I mentioned new traditions. I think this qualifies.

December 10, 2007

linky linky

I just popped over to Serena's only to find a whole wealth of crafting ideas (and some lovely pictures). Since I don't have my lappy back yet I'm putting the linky here, so I don't lose it when this lappy goes back to my father-in-law.

I live on the surface of the sun

Or so says one of Allen's co-workers from up north. While he's up there slipping on copious quantities of ice I'm blogging with the sliding door on my patio open. Somehow the calendar got turned back a month or two, and it's been 70-80 outside today. I was thinking about trying out my fireplace sometime this week since we stopped and got some wood. Maybe not?

After all my years down south I still don't get warm Christmases. I know snow is practically impossible but lets at least have some hot cocoa weather. I feel like I've put up my tree too soon.

December 8, 2007

What makes the holidays special

Trina has posted a list of things that make the holidays special to her and invited other bloggers to do the same.

-What is your favorite holiday tradition? Growing up that was Christmas Adam. Although technically Christmas Adam is the day before Christmas Eve (haha) it became something of a movable feast in our family and was celebrated with cousins and grandparents on a convenient weekend prior to Christmas.

-Have you started any new traditions with your family that you didn’t practice growing up? Does making and decorating gingerbread men count?

-What do you love most about the holiday season? Probably the lights. I love to sit back and look at all the candles and Christmas lights glowing around our home. Beautiful or whimsical Christmas lights in a neighborhood make me fairly childish with enjoyment.

-What do you like least about the holiday season? The heartbreak. Every ugly and hurtful thing pierces that much deeper when all around is the glow of expectation and delight. Christ is the light of the world, and at Christmas time He seems to strip the shadows from our lives so that every beauty is brighter and every pain harsher.

-Anyone close to your heart that you’ll be missing this year? My family. Also, we thought there would be a little one for Christmas this year.

-What is your favorite holiday food? Ummmm, hard question that one....My mom's wedding ring cookies, my aunt's spiced cider, and chocolate pie.

-Do you have a great recipe to share? Mashed sweet potatoes. They're healthy, easy, yummy, and essential to any family holiday meal (in any family I've been in).

December 5, 2007

hurrah for ebay!

Anna over at pleasant valley schoolhouse posted a Christmas reading list of Grace Livingston Hill novels. On that list she included Astra, an old favorite of mine which I unfortunately no longer had the pleasure of owning* until now. I bought five books (including Astra) for just over $2 a piece. Not quite thrift store prices, but it sure beats anything else.

*One of the hazards of getting married is that books which you and your sisters sort of held in common often become books that are reluctantly left behind. But, my library is growing again!

God chooses busy men

Growing up, did any of you read Uncle Arthur's Bedtime Stories? My family had quite a few of those, but there's one I've been thinking of in particular. I don't remember many details beyond the one statement, but here's the story as I remember it.

There was a boy who used to dream about becoming a wonderful man such as he read about in his books. He loved to read and dream so much that often he was late at his chores. One day the father sat down to talk with his son. The boy told his father all the things he wanted to do, and the boy asked his father if perhaps he too might grow up to become a great man. The father then pointed out all the chores the boy left undone or did sloppily or in great haste and told him that God chooses busy men. The father reminded his son of David called out from the fields, Gideon called on the threshing floor, and the Apostles called away from their nets. Later that day the boy could be seen out by the woodpile murmuring to himself "God chooses busy men."

Lately I've been reminded of that story quite often -most recently after seeing the businesses that two mothers (Nancy Wilson's daughters) run. I want to do something cool like that (whine). But you can see quite plainly that these businesses grew out of the work of their hands and the passion in their hearts. They did something for themselves and their family which grew into a business. Their busy hands are bearing tangible fruit. It rather makes me wonder what would happen if I got busy. Maybe just gingerbread :) Maybe something more. I suppose you don't know until you get there though. Anyway, this is just something I've been thinking about.

Doodle, doodle

My very generous father-in-law loaned me his laptop for a time, so I can once again blog at nooning with impunity. One reason I'm grateful is that over on the Puzzle Pirate's forums it's time for December Daily Doodles. They're a series of creative challenges that are posted fresh everyday. So far we've created a Doodle trophy, drawn a picture, written a poem, and compiled a list. What's fun for me is that I'm doing some things I haven't done in a while. Drawing and poetry are not my forte, but I really had fun coming up with my entries. The drawing entry used a program called artpad which actually makes a little movie of your brush strokes. It's really quite a lot of fun to play with. Considering my inexperience with drawing in general and drawing programs in particular I was rather pleased with what I did. I'll have to hop on Allen's computer and crop my screen shot to post here since this computer doesn't appear to have gimp installed.

December 3, 2007

The Lappy's down :(

I must sadly report that our Lappy (the one I use) is down for now. Hopefully we should have it back and repaired in a week or so, but for now blog posts are likely to be short and sparse. I can use the desktop some, but with Allen working on it and both of us wanting to spend some of our play time on it....Anyway, I'm getting crash course in real life.

(The absolute worst part is that a lot of my Christmas music is on it.)

December 2, 2007

still house painting...

Maybe I'm not very fast; maybe these just take a really long time. Either way I'm still not completely done. Also, when I went to the craft store I found a little church to go with it. Right. Like I really need another thing to paint. Fortunately that's not nearly as complicated, and I've been able to get a lot done on it already.All I have left now on the house is the snow. Some of you northerners will no doubt get a hearty laugh out of the way snow is clumped artistically over these two buildings. Or maybe not. I'm from Alabama. What do I know about snow?!?