Sunday, March 24, 2013

356th Fighter Group - Take the Virtual Tour and Pass on the Food

photo taken from Google Images

I typically blog on things that are positive, can promote life-change and as a way to record some milestones in our little family. I've thought about writing some restaurant critiques at times too, but never really made time for it. Today is the day to make that happen.

It's spring break in our school district and the grandparents flew the kids down to spend the week with them in Florida. So the hubby and I decided to eat somewhere nice this afternoon for brunch. The 356th Fighter Group has been under the ownership of Bob Scofield for 24 years now and I think that's quite long enough.

After discussing our experience, the hubby and I agree that we cannot remember a worse meal. I could walk you through the various disappointments of the meal from the cold sausage, to the transparent bacon, to the soggy shrimp, to the tasteless chicken breast, to the rock hard biscuit, to the floppy Belgian waffle, to the unrecognizable sediment that I discovered in the bottom of my water glass (sadly after I had already drank half of it) and our waiter that had the personality of telephone pole. But no one has time for mindless details like that. Let's focus on two big points.

Moldy cheese and a blame shifting owner. Yeah. After picking over our less than appetizing food and making our last visit to the buffet area, the hubby came back with a small variety of items and a few cubes of pepper-jack cheese. Taking a closer look, he noticed mold... on all three pieces. To which he slid his plate away and waited for Bob to walk by so he could mention the infraction to someone who might care. It didn't take long for him to materialize and the hubby motioned him over. Please understand that my dear man hates confrontation of any kind, but felt that the owner of the business would want to know. Business owners that care about the reputation of their business welcome criticism that is offered in the spirit of helping, not just complaining to complain. He didn't plan to go through the laundry list from above, he just wanted to let him know the cheese was moldy and that he might want to pull the tray before anyone else was offended. And what was the response of the owner of this fine establishment, "Hunh, well we've been having trouble with this supplier for a few weeks now." and then he walked away. There was no apology, there was no mortification and the slouch didn't even bother to take away his plate with the offending food that the hubby was clearly not going to eat.

When the waiter produced the bill he mentioned that Bob took a few dollars off, but there was no mention from the telephone pole of an apology either. I can't remember walking out of a restaurant and hoping I wouldn't get sick later in the day. But sadly our tummies are already starting that unsettling rumble as I type and anticipate the rest of the day not being as pleasant as we had hoped.

Although it is a rather enchanting place to visit because of the decor, we would recommend viewing it from the virtual tour on their website and avoid the food. Mr. Scofield, we will not be back... ever.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Insane Courage of 2013

I often have visions of grandeur. Visions of things that are beyond my ability to do and knowledge to pull off, but where I accomplish them and have immense satisfaction that I have touched lives. Lots of lives. I think "I could do that" or "I've thought that before" or "Heck, I've said that before." But reality sets in and I realize my limits and step back into what I've always done with only very small achievements here and there.

Why do I do that? What keeps me from doing it anyway? Why is my follow-through horrible? One word... fear. Not so much crippling fear, but fear of the what if's. And you know what, I'm tired of living like that. I want to put feet to my ideas.

We watched the movie "We Bought A Zoo" the other day and one line captured exactly what I am walking toward...
"Sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage, just literally 20 seconds of just embarrassing bravery and I promise you something great will come of it."
And so that is how I want to move forward this year. This 2013 will be the year I make concerted efforts to be insanely courageous about my ideas for at least a minimum of 20 seconds. And if after putting it out there for 20 seconds it doesn't seem like it's the best thing, then maybe I'll shelve it for awhile and revisit it later.

So here goes nothing...

  • I want to write a book for little children and illustrate it
  • I want to write a chapter book for elementary age children
  • I want to look into developing an after-school creative society for Middle School & High School students that doesn't focus on only inner city kids, but those in the burbs who are just as important, but just as left behind by their parents as the others
  • I want to paint a huge mural on my daughter's bedroom wall
  • I want to paint our shutters and front door an entirely new color
  • I want to draw up plans for and implement a home garden

That's just to jot down a few. Some of you may ask yourself why I would need to have courage to do or attempt those things. I needed courage just to type them. I've spoken them into reality and they are dreams no longer. And somehow, just typing them out makes them seem a little more achievable. Instead of wishing I could do them, now I have a place to start. Granted, painting my shutters a different color isn't going to touch lives, but I've feared doing it because what if I hate the color after I'm done, then the neighbors will see me repainting. Well, fry the neighbors and pick a paint color.

Insane courage.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Another Advent Calendar

It's the time of year for Advent Calendar's. Actually if you're going to do this one, you'll want to start in early November as it took a while to do this project. I wanted it to be just right since we were going to be staring at it for years to come so I invested time & resources for a satisfying finished project. I won't bog you down with the history of Advent, that's what Google is for, and there are some really great resources out there for what activities to do (I'll list the ones I chose at the bottom). 

This entry is more about the "how-to" to do the boards. The site I followed didn't give any instructions, just a finished project picture which means I made a board I thought would work and the pockets were too small and I had to rip them all off. I hope this helps you be creative by offering the measurements and brief how-to's for each pocket.

I chose two matching 12x12 scrapbook pages and used a glue stick to adhere them to a more firm board (I used chip board). Try taking the firm board to the framer at your local craft store and see if they'll cut it to size for you. I cut my own with a razor blade on a self healing mat and it wasn't perfectly smooth.

Next, I cut a pattern for the pockets 2 3/4 inches wide, 3 1/2 inches tall. I bought a Christmas Stack of paper so it was all in a matching style. I was able to flip through the pages and pull out some that were beautifully decorated and just embellished the parts that I picked. Use the pattern to cut out 24 pockets. I then took a brown ink pad and dabbed a cotton ball on it and tapped it around all the edges to make them look aged. Then I laid them all out on the boards (4 pockets across with 3 rows for each board). Laying them out ahead of time helped me not have a bunch of red in one section with some cream and green in the corner. 

Once that was done... I pulled out ALL OF MY CRAP :) And I mean everything. Bits of fabric, stickers, beads, ribbon, twine, paper punches, stencils etc. And that's when I started creating what you'll see below.
I cut out a section of paper that had the top of the Christmas tree and then strung some small green beads on  a thread and hot glued to outline the tree, tucking the ends of the string on the back and used a glue stick to hold it in place. The letters are gold foil stickers outlined in black pen.
This was red paper, then I cut out the candy cane on a green square and aged the edges of that as well and glued it to the center. I used a 2-slotted punch so that I could weave the ribbon in and out of the red paper, then aged the ribbon with the cotton and ink as well. I used a circle punch to create the circle for the 2 and just free handed the lettering.
The third day was a section of paper that had a Santa Claus on in that I outlined in silver glitter glue. After the glitter dried I took a silver pen and added dashed lines around the edge and then wrote out the word Three.
This was a green patterned paper that I glued a piece of scrap lace to. I used the ageing ink and a cotton ball to make it not so white. Then I used a square paper punch, aged the edge, added a white "4" sticker and outlined it in brown ink.
This green paper had white swirls with glitter on them. I found this Christmas tree on red that had beautiful swirls as well. I aged the edge and then used a stencil to spell out 5th. Then glued them on so they peeked off the edges.
I thought this one was going to be a dud until it came together. Now it's one of my favorites :) I cut the paper that had "Deck The Halls" at the top and then aged the edges. Then I used the same technique to highlight the area I liked best. Then I took brown ribbon that had adhesive on the back and made 6 flat loops (since they stuck to each other). I hot glued them on top of each other, but didn't press them down so that it gave the bow some height off the paper. I took a circle paper punch of the same paper, punched out this circle so it was smaller than the bow, aged the edges, added a gold foil 6 and outlined in brown ink. Then hot glued it to the bow.
I wanted to use a jingle bell somewhere on my boards, so this was a stripey-glittered paper that I cut to size and aged the edges. I used the circle punch to make four different sizes and backed the lighter color with a darker to make it stand out (both aged) and used a stencil to make the lettering. Then I used some thread and miscellaneous beads and strung them so the jingle bell would weight it down at the bottom. I used a glue stick to adhere the thread to the back.
I love scrolly things, so I just aged this paper, added some foil scroll stickers outlined in black and then used a stencil to create the lettering. Then I took a gold pen and made highlights on all the parts of the letters that were on top.
I definitely wanted one that had a Santa belt, so I cut the paper to include the winter scene and decided to make the belt at the top to hold the 9th (in silver pen using a stencil). I cut a strip of red paper and aged it. Then using a square paper punch on black paper I punched a piece out that was bigger than the strip. I folded it in half and cut out the inside of the square to make a buckle and wrote the number inside. Free hand wrote "Tis' The Season" because I thought it looked cute.
This was a paper with an ornament on it. I made the strip at the top and glued it on. Then I took a bead and ran some cute thread through it. I hot glued the bead to the paper so it wouldn't droop over time and then glued the thread to the back. I used a stencil for the 10 and then outlined in silver ink.
I liked the shape of the scallop on this paper. I decided to add a toy soldier sticker and mirror the height by gluing decorative thread on the opposite side. It's hard to tell, but the 11th is sitting on a springy coil of paper that "boings" when you push on it. I used a large circle punch and then just kept cutting in a circle toward the center of the circle. Then I punched the circle for the 11th and glued it on the center part of the coil. I then glued the outer part of the coil only to the pocket so the rest could spring forward.
I wanted the HO3 to be the focal point of this pocket, so the 12 is just an understated number using a stencil. I aged the HO3 box and had it positioned off the paper and cut the edges off. Then I used thin gold ribbon to separate the two halves and add a bow to the box.
Onto the next board! This was very simple. A patchwork paper that had the edges aged, then self adhesive ribbon at the top and bottom (aged with ink & cotton). I used the square paper punch for the stenciled numbers to go on and then stacked and glued them on.
This is the easiest one I did. I only aged the edges and wrote out the number fourteen.
This is the first one that I repeated the paper on. I used a sequin piece of trim from an old project to edge the top. Then used a stencil to put 15th on an aged rectangle. Simple but pretty.
This one is simple too so that the poinsettia stands out. I wrote the sixteen out in green pen, then used the same color to out line the shiny petals and then make dashes along the outside.
I loved the glitter on this one and the wispy branches. Just embellished it with stenciled numbers outlined with silver ink. I made the silver go over the black to give them some definition.
Another repeated paper done differently. I used white ribbon glued to the back on a diagonal, hot glued a gold bow on with a small metal tag that says "Made With Love". Then hand written Eighteenth.
I love this one even though the Santa seems a little sour. I used gold foil numbers outlined in black ink. Then I hot glued alphabet beads to say "Ho, Ho, Ho!"
This one was all about using the Holly Jolly words that I cut out of another paper block. I cut out a light piece of paper on the diagonal, glued on the aged Holly Jolly and glued the whole thing on. Then used my circle punch to create the place for the free-handed number to go and aged the edges.
This was the corner of a page that had great colors, glitter and fun shape. I just added some stickers, stenciled the number on and outlined it in gold ink.
This is the repeated paper from #4. I cut out the Joy on red from another paper and glued it on. Then used my circle punch to get a place for the stenciled number. Then I cut a strip of popcorn and cranberry sticker to frame the top and bottom.
This one was easy as well. The paper was decoration in itself. I just aged the sides again, added some gold foil swirls then hand wrote Twenty Third.
I decided to not use a number on this one and write out Christmas Eve! I like the paper on this because it kind of looked like the Christmas star. I just aged the edges, used my square paper punch, aged those edges two, free-handed Christmas Eve and glued it to the center.

Once all the pockets are ready, use a glue stick on all the edges (but the top) and place them evenly on the boards. Make sure your glue line isn't so wide that when it dries the tags can't be tucked inside.
Use a wide ribbon to connect the two boards together. I used hot glue to adhere the ribbon to the boards and made it so there was about a half inch gap between the boards. This will allow you to fold the boards together for an easier time storing it away after Christmas. Use the same wide ribbon to tie a bow. I hot glued the back of the bow so it wouldn't untie while it's hanging. Then hot glue the tails to the back of the top board so it will hang evenly with the bow at the top.
These are the tags that you will write your activities on. They measure 2 inches wide and 3 1/2 inches long. I used a "corner rounder" on the top corners only to make them look more authentic. Then I aged all the edges and then used a hole punch to put a hole either in the center or off in a corner. I looped through either twine, red or white ribbon. Now your ready to add your own activities, search other sites for ideas or use some of the ideas below.
Advent Countdown Ideas
Make Christmas Cookies
Deck the Halls (decorate your home)
Wrap Presents
Wear pajamas to watch the Polar Express
Read a Christmas book aloud
Buy new Christmas music
Open a gift (we do one gift on Christmas Eve)
Red & Green dinner
Play Christmas Puzzles
Purchase a gift for a needy child
Read the story of Jesus birth
Take cookies to the Recycling Center community service workers
Make special holiday breakfast
Watch a Christmas movie
Send out Christmas cards
Decorate your home outside
Drink hot chocolate stirred with a peppermint stick
Make popcorn and watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
Have a game night
Drive to look at Christmas lights
Go to Christmas Eve church service
Make baked sandwiches and watch White Christmas
Make dog treats for his stocking
Make breakfast casserole for Christmas morning

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Strawberry Shortcake

Some things are just indicative of spring and strawberries are one of them. Sweet, beautifully red, pop-able, and a practically perfect seed display on the outside. But the berries I bought this afternoon were obviously grown under less than organic circumstances. They were a little pale and definitely not juicy, but I couldn't resist. These sad berries needed some help and shortcake seemed like a good answer.

However, the shortcake I have been accustomed to was always out of a Bisquick box. But I know now there is a healthier option and do my best to avoid food from boxes and cans. So I went on Pinterest and searched for a recipe. I ended up on the Better Homes and Gardens website with a fairly good recipe that could be tweaked to make it healthier.

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, from freezer 
(if you keep your flour in the freezer it makes wonderful flaky baked items because it keeps the butter cold and crumbly)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp pink Himalayan salt
1/3 cup cold raw butter
1/2 cup raw, whole yogurt
1/4 cup raw honey
1 egg, pastured
2 tablespoons raw milk
5 cups strawberries, sliced
3 tablespoons raw honey
Whipped cream (please don't use Cool Whip, blech)
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Cover a baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until it resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. In a 2 cup pyrex measure, measure out the yogurt first then add the honey, milk, and egg. Lightly beat with a fork or small wire whisk.
  5. Add to flour mixture and stir with a wood spoon until just moistened.
  6. Flatten the dough in the bowl the best you can. Take a butter knife and scored the top of the dough into 8 equal triangles.
  7. Scoop out each triangle and form a small disk on the parchment paper.
  8. Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden. Then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  9. Meanwhile, combine 4 cups of berries and 3 tablespoons of honey in a bowl a lightly smash with a potato masher or something similar and set aside.
  10. To serve, split shortcakes in half; fill with strawberry mixture and whipped cream. Top with remaining berries.
Makes 8 shortcakes.
Here is the original recipe if you are interested.

My kids are not fans of whipped cream, so I will typically mix up some raw yogurt, raw cream and sweeten it with a little honey. Then I drizzle it over. They prefer it that way and it sure is yummy.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Welcome to Burger Church

I haven't blogged in a while and I'm not quite sure why Blogger is putting automatic link's in my post, but just ignore them, they are advertisements. Carry on...

"Hi! Welcome to Burger Church where we do church your way. How can I help you today?"
"Ummm, I don't see what I want on your menu board."
"Tell me what you're looking for and I'll see if I can help you."
"I want my church experience to be a lot of fun to listen to with a side of Jesus."
"Oh, you want the number 20. Would you like to biggie size your Jesus?"
"No. That's why I didn't order the number 1. A small side of Jesus is just fine."
"We will do our best. Have a seat and we'll bring your order to you."

"Hi! Welcome to Burger Church where we do church your way. How can I help you today?" 
"Yeah... I'd like... a number... 22 and hold the life-change."
"OK, so you want a comfortable seat and a teacher that's easy to block out. Would you like to add some stagnation to that?"
"Sure, why not. Does that mean I have to put more money in the plate when it's passed?"
"Nope. You can do what you've always done and allow your emotions to control your wallet. Have a seat and we'll bring your order to you."

"Hi! Welcome to Burger Church where we do church your way. How can I help you today?" 
"Give me a number 46."
"Hmmm, that's a tricky one. Only have an organ played, no colored lights, and only the hymns on the left hand side from pages 1-20 containing the word tradition?"
"Yes, that's the one. And can you add a side of don't sit in my seat?"
"We will give it the ol' college try. Thank you for your order."

"Hi! Welcome to Burger Church where we do church your way. How can I help you today?"
"I would like Burger Church to be full of people who only wear their Sunday best according to my standards."
"Well, we can't control who we let walk through our doors, but if you like, you could volunteer to judge them as they pass by and then talk about it with your friends over a donut."
"But if I volunteer to do that then I won't hear the sermon. What good is coming to Burger Church if I don't hear the sermon. Someone else will just have to volunteer."

"Hi! Welcome to Burger Church where we do church your way. How can I help you today?"
"You have stuff for kids, right?!"
"Would you like the DayCare children's church or the Teach'EmALessonWithFlannelGraph children's church."
"Ugh. Just take my kids, feed them, clean them up and hand me the right diaper bag when I come back for them." 
"DayCare it is then. You go through those doors to drop off the babies and those doors over there to drop off your elementary student."
"Why can't they all just go in the same room, I'm running late."
"Is that green snot coming out of your two year old?"
"Uh, no. He has allergies. Heh. You said through those doors, right?"

The church is not a building you come to, to have your every need or want met. The people are the church. And if the church looks like the dialogue above, they can count me out. Since when did being a follower of Jesus become all about me. Nothing Jesus ever did was about him. It was about us, all the people of the world. So if the Bible says that we should be who we are, but allowing Jesus to live through us, then nothing about this life should be focused on us alone. 

We should be going out to our communities and showing the love of Jesus and the hope He gives just by doing what we are passionate about and including others in it. I'm not saying that we should not meet together as Jesus followers. What I am saying is that church is not a place to give your order, expect perfection (in your opinion), and then loudly proclaim how disgruntled you are when it's not exactly the way you want it.

Quit your complaining and be the doggone church.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Order Of The Big Metal Chicken

There are twists in life that come together like a pot holder made by a kindergartner, messy but beautiful at the same time. This is one of those twists. Hang with me as I relate a string of details to bring you to one of the most hilarious mornings I have ever experienced.

I am friends with two sisters, M & A. We started out as acquaintances, but through the joy of facebook, we have grown to really appreciate and love each other. A couple posts ago, I wrote about my lovely mother (here). After posting the blog on my facebook page, M & A read it, M called A in tears saying that she wished they had a mom like that and A agreed. A really fun string between us started on facebook and the three of us decided that my mom would adopt them, unbeknownst to her. A few days later we attended a Christmas program that our children were in and M asked if "Mom" would be coming. That was the beginning of a very funny evening as I introduced my mom to her new daughters. Mom jumped in just like a trooper and had hugs and giggles for her new girls. We decided to get all the families together for Christmas this coming week and I can't wait for a house full of fun.
Here we are at the concert: T, M, Mom, Me & A

So back to this morning. M had posted on her facebook page a couple weeks ago a blog that sent me into peels of laughter. This woman has a tremendous sense of humor and I felt like I was right there with her. Check it out here, mind the language a bit. Please read it, or the rest of this post won't make a bit of sense.

Things have been a little upside down in my life lately and as I was pulling out of my garage this morning to do some necessary shopping I was greeted by this on my front porch.

I staggered from the van and was laughing so hard the kids could here me inside the house. I'm sure the neighbors thought I was crazy, but who cares when such AWESOMENESS is before you. My sweet sister M took to heart the line from the blog "And when our friends are sad we can leave him at their front door to cheer them up." I have continued to laugh about it all day today.

I am instituting "The Order Of The Big Metal Chicken" and he must circulate between my new sisters, my mom & I. And we will name him at our Christmas party, something ingenious I'm sure.

NOTE: He has been named Felix. Brilliant :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Living in Survival Mode

This is probably going to be a heavy post, so if you're not in the mood you may want to check back another time. I just need to type.

Something awful happened to me as a young person. It stripped away my sense of security. Nothing was safe. Home wasn't safe, school wasn't safe, family wasn't safe, friends weren't safe. And I have come to realize that from that point forward I have been living in a survival mode of some sort. Day to day not knowing what my existence will be, what is around the corner, the constant phrase before me of, "I don't know". To live in a continual state of uncertainty has probably not been the most healthy thing for me. When you live in survival mode, there is a constant need to store or fill. Fill your time, fill your cupboards, fill your face, fill your hands, fill your addiction, fill whatever void is there when your sense of security is threatened in any way. 

There are some really big uncertainties in my life right now. I don't feel like I have any security at all. I feel like I want to stuff everything. Stuff my feelings, stuff my voice, stuff my creativity, stuff my responsibilities. It would be so easy to do that. Throw up that really big wall that helped me cope through those terrible years. I was able to do that back then. No one depended on me. As long as I showed up at school, got good grades, did my homework and kept up with my chores, no one knew that I was a shell.

But being a shell, if even for a time, is hugely inconvenient when you are an employee, wife and mother. You have to be on top of it, you have to make those quick decisions, you have to come up with solutions, you have to be available at a moments notice. And forget about throwing up a wall, there's not time for that. You throw up a wall or shut down and it effects everyone. It effects your work, your marriage and your kids. 

But I realize that this survival mode is self inflicted. No one told me to live this way. It's just further proof that if you don't deal with your junk when it happens, it will creep back up at the most inconvenient times and beg to be processed. And if you're going through something that needs to be survived, chances are you don't have the time or energy to give to going through that process. Yep, it's a vicious cycle.

And survival mode also throws you into irrational thought. If I don't do everything, then I will lose everything. If I don't do every part of my job plus whatever else comes my way, I will lose my job. I need my job. It's security. If I don't do everything to keep my home perfect and be everything to my husband that he needs plus whatever else comes my way, I will lose my husband. I need my husband. He is security. If I am not everything to my kids every moment they are awake, I could damage my kids. I love my kids. I give them security. See... irrational thoughts.

Isn't survival mode what the Israelite nation tried to do when they started wandering in the desert for 40 years? But God took care of them. He gave them manna to eat. And he even told them that if they collected more than they needed for just that day that it would go bad. So they only gathered what they needed and trusted that God would provide what he promised the next day. I would say that after a few days of God following through on that promise that they didn't doubt he would provide. I bet they even went about their day to day business not thinking about what they would need because God kept his promise.

So, here I am, talking about how God provided for them. Do I believe the story? Yes I do. Am I supposed to believe that this story applies to my life as well? Yes. So now I need to do the work of not allowing myself to live in survival mode anymore. That's an almost 30 year habit to break. And if I'm not living in survival mode, what mode am I living in? The whole thing just makes me tired. Which is another part of survival mode.

Ugh, that was ugly. I guess I have work to do on this because there is no "Spunky" in survival mode.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I'm Too Old

Have you heard this before, "I'm too old to care about being polite"? Or something along those lines.

What is that really? Too old? So what you're telling me is that you never were polite on the inside, but you were young enough to know better at one point and were only behaving yourself? I find myself being acquainted with a certain person who is aging. I had a deep respect for their business mind, character, and integrity. I would talk with them at length about such dealings and would listen intently. But true to my form, I am an observer of people and life in general. I watch an awful lot. And I have seen a steady decline in the moral fiber of this person of business I once admired.

It seems as if they have reached a point in their life where they would say, "I'm too old to do the right thing or treat people well." So the question I'm asking is this, was it all a farce? Do we spend our lives covering up who we really are inside to only have our true selves revealed in our senior years when we are just too old to care what others think?

Will I be one of those that when they are too old to care about being proper and upright, will be unkind to a care giver because I feel entitled to a certain level of care? Will the internal flaws I deal with now surface in the years when I want people to look at me and say "She's a wise, sweet old lady and I like her spunk." Or will they walk away shaking their head thinking they never knew the real me, call me a hypocrite, see my true colors and wonder why they wasted the time.

Maybe that's why I am so adamant about being authentic, real and a teller of truth. Sharing my struggles (to a degree) with others. I figure if I struggle with something, then maybe someone else may too and my sharing could help them. I'm kind of at a loss in all this. It's come as a blow really.

Maybe when we try to show outwardly who we want to be in our own strength and power we can only keep that up for so long and then the steam runs out. Maybe it's when we surrender those struggles to God with the idea that He's the only one that can work on us to making lasting change that is real instead of change made in our humanity. Or if you allow the work to happen at a younger age, then it just becomes a part of who you are, part of your DNA.

I don't want to ever reach a point in my life where treating people well is something I don't care about. Where having integrity is a chore. I want that to be woven so deeply within me that this won't be something I will have to question. It will just be.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

My Mom

Picture taken of my mom & my daughter on a "Girls Road Trip" to PA.

It's not Mother's Day, it's not her birthday, but today she made me smile. So I thought I would take a few moments and jot down some of the things I like about my mom.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Nothing But A Suit

I went shopping today. I don't usually shop because I'm the kind of person that, for the most part, only buys what we need. But today I had a purpose... go to Border's. This "theme-park-multi-level-homogenize-the-world-mochaccino-land" has been a dwelling for our family. I have sipped coffee, took my children to story time, thumbed through beautiful cookbooks, purchased Jane Austen novels, bought my daughter her beloved copy of Little Women for Christmas, listened to a budding local singer/song writer, Russell Aldridge, and purchased my carefully selected kitchen calendar each year. Being inside has always made me hold my head higher and walk with my shoulders pulled back upon entering their doors. I felt more informed just being there, like I had entered this society I had always longed to be a part of.

But they are closing their doors. After numerous attempts at bailouts and such, no buyers were interested. The digital age, I'm afraid, has forever dented the need for bookstores. When I walked up today, there were no outside shelves holding discounted books with brightly colored photos on them to greet me, just concrete, brick & glass. When I opened the doors there were signs hanging from every possible space touting "Everything Must Go" in abrasive colors. I looked to my right and the coffee shop and seating area had been replaced with stacked chairs, empty shelves that were "Sold" and the racks that once held magazines were being stocked with the 2012 calendars they had previously ordered and are now 50% off... right out of the box. The Bargain Books section right off of that truly holds books at a bargain now. The journal/stationary/specialty gift/pen section was displayed as best they could and was heavily picked over. The DVD area was sparse to say the least and the discounts there were not deep enough to tempt me. 

And all the while I am wandering around the store, I can't help thinking of the movie "You've Got Mail" with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Tom Hanks opened a mega-book-mart just down the way from Meg Ryan's family owned bookstore and eventually sends her out of business. There is a scene that takes about 45 seconds, but encompassed how I felt for the employees that were left at Border's today as I pillaged through the remains of what was once a comfortable home away from home. 

I wanted to tell them how sorry I was that this place could possibly be a Baby Gap. I wanted them to know that I will miss our random Friday or Saturday nights when we would wander the aisles and phone each other to come look at a new treasure we had found. I'm sure the staff that is left has dealt with the news in their own way. But for my family, it wasn't just a store.

My purchases today:
Persuasion, Jane Austen
The Tenant or Wildfell Hall, Anne Bronte
Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
The Essential Oils Book: Creating Personal Blends for Mind & Body, Colleen K Dodt
Eat Fat Lose Fat, Dr. Mary Enig & Sally Fallon
Wild Fermentation, Sandor Ellix Katz
More Fast Food My Way, Jacques Pepin

Even now as I type, my children are pawing through the pile of books at my feet. Flipping through the pages of Dickens and Bronte. Giving brief quotes on how to ferment our own cheese from raw milk, and commenting about gently scrambled eggs with coconut oil, rosemary sprigs and finished with goat cheese. 

We are going to miss our store.