Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Room to Breathe

This morning, as I drove to work with my dog in my lap (yes, I took Daisy to work with me ;) ), I pondered a conversation I had yesterday with a co-worker.  She was venting about mentioning a fact to someone, and that person acted as if she never said anything!  How frustrating.  I know what she is talking about.  For some reason, I don't remember encountering this problem in other places that I have lived, but very often I realize that there are now people in my life who really do need me to repeat something a minimum of three times.  When I first moved here, I remember changing my car and renters insurance to the agent that my in-laws used.  I cancelled it after a month.  I remember the conversation I had with the lady as I was trying to cancel the policies.

Me:  I would like to cancel all of our policies with your company.
Her:  Okay.  (Minutes pass)  All done.
Me:  You cancelled my auto, my husband's auto, and our renter's policies?
Her:  Oh, I thought you just wanted your auto cancelled.
Me:  No, I want to cancel my auto, Josh's auto, and our renter policy.
Her:  Okay.  (Minutes pass)  All done.
Me:  So you cancelled my auto, Josh's auto, and our renter policy?
Her:  Oh, I thought you just wanted to cancel your auto and renter policy.
Me:   (While pulling out my hair!)  No.  I want to cancel MY auto, JOSH's auto, AND our RENTER policy.

I hope she understood - that was the reason I cancelled our policies with that agent.

I then recalled part of a book I had read that talked about a man who often traveled to foreign countries.  Every time he came back from a travel, he would be angry because someone had either stolen from him or charged him more money than they should have.  To solve the problem, he did not call the police or go back and talk to the people.  He simply added a line to his traveling budget for "extra traveling expenses."  When someone overcharged him on his next trip, he just deducted the amount from his extra traveling expense budget and went on with his life.  No worries.

I've learned a lot about patience in the past few years - especially regarding this matter.  I understood this morning that I have eventually done the same as the traveling man.  I have given people some room to breathe.  I have lowered my expectations a little.  I used to expect people to listen the first time, but that doesn't always happen - and that's okay (didn't God sometimes have to repeat things a few times?).

Saturday, March 26, 2011

To and Fro

I've been attempting to compile a short Bible study on mercy for this blog. It still needs. . . tweaking. :)  Maybe it is one of those that will take months.  In fact, I started it over a year ago, but lost the paper in our big move - only to find it again this week when I cleaned out our "office."  I feel that God is teaching me so many things about mercy, but I am struggling with putting it all (or even part) into written form.

I will share one verse.  I love this.  It's Hosea 6:6, "For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings."  I want to know God.  With my whole heart, I desire to know Him.  I want to be like Him.  I want so badly for others to see Him when they see me. . .that's a hard one considering that I am overly human.

I feel that sometimes when I read my Bible, random thoughts pop out at me.  Sometimes they make sense.  Sometimes, they don't.  Sometimes, I can get a great outline in a minute, while other times - well, let's just say that God still has time to show me what it all means. :)

I remember once (translation:  many times) reading the passage in I Corinthians 7 about the married woman looking after worldly things and the single woman looking after the things of God.  That makes no sense to me.  It bothered me and bothered me and bothered me.  Then one day, I was on Facebook (of all places), and it hit me!  When I was on my own, it would take me a maximum of two hours to clean my whole apartment.  I normally did it on a Saturday . . . and had the rest of the day to do as I pleased.  I worked a full time and a part time job.  I was involved heavily in my church. I was dating the man of my dreams. Life was good.

Life is still good.  Now that I am married, at times I would get frustrated with how my house was not clean.  I feel that I am constantly cleaning, but never getting anywhere.  How do people do it?  I love God and do my best to serve Him and learn about Him, but a lot of my time is spent cleaning, meal planning, budgeting, grocery shopping, organizing, and cooking - not necessarily in that order!  The list is endless - and so far I've only added a husband and a dog to my life! So anyway, back to Facebook.  I was scanning through the many statuses and saw the status of an unmarried friend who is between 5-10 years older than I am.  I don't remember exactly what she said, but I was shocked at myself for being annoyed at her comment - it was a comment either about God or a good godly book that she had recently read.  My conversation with myself went something like this:

Me:  What in the world.  Does she never do anything else but read?  Doesn't she have a life?
Holy Spirit:  I Corinthians 7:34
Me:  I feel embarrassed that I am annoyed at her!  How mean-spirited could I be?
Holy Spirit:  I Corinthians 7:34
Me:  But still, how can she be reading all the time?  It is so annoying (I just realized that maybe I am jealous because I don't get to read as much as I once did. :) ).
Holy Spirit:  I Corinthians 7:34
Me:  Okay, Holy Spirit. . .OH, that makes sense now!

I finally realized after. . . probably years. . . that the "job" of a single woman is to "care for the things of the Lord."  Even though a married woman will love and serve the Lord, she also is to care for her family and "the things of the world."  I looked up what the word "world" meant in the Greek - it means: an apt or harmonious arrangement, constitution, or order.  In other words, a married woman is to care for her world.  Her family.  Her home-and God is the One Who told her to prioritize her life that way!  I felt so much better - for finally understanding that verse and for feeling that I am always concerned about my home!  I also felt better because once I understood the passage, I had more of an understanding for the ways of my friend and I don't get annoyed at her statuses anymore.  She is doing what God wants her to do, just like I am doing what God wants me to do.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Prayers of Children

I've loved my new Sunday school class.  I was a little nervous at first since my favorite age group is teen girls. . .and my class is comprised of 7-9 year olds.  There is quite a difference.  I prayed at first that Jesus would help me to understand them and have patience for them.  I have to say again - they are COMPLETELY different.

The first positive thing I experienced with them was that it took very little to get them excited about serving Jesus on their level.  My first Sunday with them, I started a contest - "Fall in Love with Jesus."  They loved it.  I am doing another contest.  They are so excited.  They have been asking about it for months.

One of the things that have been difficult for me is putting the Bible on their level.  I tend to get too deep for them.  Thankfully, they are great at helping me teach them.  Another thing that helped me was that my mom got me a Bible curriculum that had pictures.  The pictures help me keep things simple.

Another thing that I learned was to change my terminology.  To a seven-year-old child who has only been coming to church for a few months, "prayer request" is a foreign term - actually, to some of mine, even prayer was a foreign term.  When I started the class, I began every morning by making them tell me something good about their week.  That was my platform to teach them a little bit of gratitude.  A few months ago, I added asking them "what they wanted to tell God."  How very interesting.  The first week I did it, I got responses such as, "He's nice,"  "He's a good God,"  "I love Him," "that I want to be a superhero,"  and "He's a really good God," and "I want my own bedroom."  Wow.  The first time I ever asked, that is what my little 7-9 year-olds thought of God.  They still like to tell Him that He is nice and good.  I hope they always remember that.

"Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

Matthew 18:4

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sweet Spring Saturday

This has been a week in my life that I knew one day would come.  The things that happened this week have happened many times before - in many different degrees and to many different people.  I also realize that everything that has happened this week will possibly happen again with more intensity. This week, I have prayed a lot, cried a lot, and prayed some more.  Mostly for the people who have recently left my life and the hurt that they have experienced.  Hurt people hurt people.

This week, I have prayed and pondered.  Maybe I should write them a note?  Maybe I should visit them?  Text?  E-mail?  I don't know. Maybe it would help, but maybe it wouldn't. Maybe I should just keep praying and ponder. . .these things in my heart.

This morning, I finished reading the book about Amy Carmichael that I will start reading to our Junior Church kiddos tomorrow.  I started reading it to get my bearings in the book.  Even though it's written on a children's level, I couldn't help but finish it for all of the encouragement it brought me.  Amy had so much faith.  I have read her story many times in the past, but have always been renewed and encouraged by it.  She had so many instances of desperation - and every time, God came through for her.  My God is the same One, and He will come through for me as well.  Romans 8:28

After I finished reading Amy's book, I read my Bible.  The reading that I had for today was to finish reading Ecclesiastes.  I sighed in relief at the familiarity of it.  A requirement from an editing class that I took in college was that we memorize the last part of Ecclesiastes 12.  Even though I can no longer recite it word for word (I try to remember, but I only ever get to extreme familiarization.  I blame dyslexia. :) ), it felt like an old friend.  That's what the Bible is supposed to be, isn't it?  Anyway, I read the beginning and understood it in a way that I never have before.  Remember thy Creator. . .in the days of thy youth.  According to the next few verses, it seems to me that God is also telling us to remember during the good times. . .because the bad times are coming.  Another thing I read differently is the part about much study being a weariness of the flesh.  This week, I have worn myself out studying the situation.  I recognized that.

Then I read the next verse:  "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:  Fear God, and keep his commandments:  for this is the whole duty of man."  No matter what happens in life - in everything, my duty is to fear God and keep His commandments.  I am to respect that God is God.  He knows what He is doing.  He allows everything that happens to happen.  He is control.  I am also to keep His commandments.  I am to love God and love my neighbor.  I love those who have hurt me, as well as those who have not.  I am to love those who are still in my life, as well as those who have left.

Then the last verse:  "For God shall bring every work into judgement, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil."  God will judge the actions of others.  I don't have to.  God will judge me for my reactions to the actions of others.  I want for Him to be happy with my reactions.  I know that I am a sinning human and will not always do what is right, but with God's help, I will do what He said.  I choose to obey.  I choose to love.

P.S.  I realize that I have a pattern going on with the first word of every paragraph!  This, This, After, Then, Then.  :)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy Patty Day!

Mint patty that is!  Since when I purchased the heavy whipping cream for my first batch of ice cream, there is really enough for two batches, I had to make another batch of ice cream - also because the first batch was gone so quickly!  I didn't want it to go bad, you know!

So the other night, after Josh had gone to sleep, I was wide awake.  I thought to myself, "I should do dishes and make ice cream, but I don't want to."  Then I shook my lazy self, got up, and proceeded to wash the dishes - and make another ice cream base.

This time, I made mint oreo ice cream.  Because it is good.  Also, I colored it green for St. Patricks' Day.  Not that I'm Irish or anything. . .but March 17 has become a green day.  Maybe also for recycling. :)  My mint ice cream is the closest thing that I think I could get to mint thin Girl Scout cookies.  I use mint OIL for the flavoring - not mint extract.  The mint oil makes the mint flavor rather strong; however, adding the oreo crumbles balances it out beautifully.

So, here we go!  MISE EN PLACE!

I'm trying to get used to mise en placing!

After I add the milk(s) to the pan, I plop my egg into the 2-cup measuring cup.  This makes tempering easier later on.

See. . .after my milk has been cooked, I need to SLOWLY add 1 cup of it to the beaten egg.

So, I dribble, dribble, dribble.  ( I couldn't dribble in the picture because. . .someone had to take the picture.  Daisy is too short and Josh was sleeping.)

Then, once I reach the 1 cup mark on my measuring cup, I pour my tempered egg back into the milk.

Now for the fun part!  FOOD COLORING!  And flavor, of course. :)

How beautiful!

Apparently, my camera has different color issues. . . both top and bottom pictures are the same batch of ice cream!  In real life, the color is more like that of the bottom picture's!

Before refrigerating, I always add plastic wrap over the top of the milk so that a skin does not form.


Crushed Oreos!

My baking buddy!  She thinks she is going to get crumbs. . .she did get some cooked potato yesterday while I was making potato soup!

She's too cute!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Nanner Puddin'

Wow.  Two weeks.  I apologize for not posting (since that is one of my pet peeves :) ) as I am trying to figure out where the past two weeks have gone.  Where have I been?  The honest truth is. . .I've been home - in my normal place.  Josh left for three days last week to go to a convention.  Other than that, my life has been relatively normal, except maybe at work.  Work has been a little busy as of late.  That's okay - just another hoop to jump through.

So, via a friendly reminder from a follower on Facebook, here I am to tell you about my most recent creation at Jomel's Creamery - Banana Pudding ice cream.  I am not a huge fan of banana pudding.  I may eat it, but it is not something that I would ever crave.  Josh, on the other hand, loves it.  This past Friday at work, the Student Resource Officer was talking about how when he lived in Texas, they had the best Banana Pudding ice cream. The wheels in my brain began turning as I began thinking of it.  Josh had really wanted homemade ice cream recently - although I'd yet to make it - and he LOVES banana pudding.  I'd never heard of Banana Pudding ice cream.  So, I googled it and found a recipe from a rather reputable southern magazine.

That very afternoon, I went home and put my ice cream freezer in my deep freezer outside.  I then finished the housekeeping that I had planned since Josh was coming home that night.  On Saturday, I began the base for ice cream (the down-side to homemade ice cream is that one must freeze the freezer for a day, as well as refrigerate the base for a day).  While once again, I forgot to take pictures of the base-making.  Oops.  Although that process was rather uneventful as far as ice cream making goes, let me comment on the recipe.

3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 medium-size ripe bananas, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup coarsely crumbled vanilla wafers, plus more for sprinkling on top

1.  Whisk together first 3 ingredients in a large heavy saucepan. Gradually whisk in milk and cream. Cook
     over medium heat, stirring constantly, 10-12 minutes or until mixture thickens slightly. Remove from heat.

2.  Whisk egg yolk until slightly thickened. Gradually whisk about 1 cup hot cream mixture into yolk. Add 
     yolk mixture to remaining cream mixture, whisking constantly. Whisk in vanilla extract. Cool 1 hour, 
     stirring occasionally.

3.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°. Combine bananas, brown sugar, and butter in a 2-qt. baking dish. 
     Bake 20 minutes or until browned and softened, stirring after 10 minutes. Let cool 30 minutes.

4.  Coarsely mash banana mixture; stir into cooled cream mixture. Place plastic wrap directly on cream 
     mixture, and chill 8 to 24 hours.

5.  Pour mixture into freezer container of a 1 1/2-qt. electric ice-cream maker, and freeze according to 
     manufacturer’s instructions. 

6.  Before transferring ice cream to an airtight container for further freezing, stir in vanilla wafers. Sprinkle 
     more crushed wafers over top before serving.

When I first read this recipe, I recognized that step one is your basic method for making a pudding.  Yum.  The second step is your basic method for ice cream.  Yum yum.  The third step is your basic method for caramel.  Yum yum yum.  

I believe this is the first time in my life when I had used mise en place.  I was so proud of myself!  It did make the process of making an ice cream base a lot easier since one must constantly stir the heating milk, and have the egg yolk on stand-by.  In addition, it would have made a beautiful picture.  Oh, well.

The picture parade is here!

1.  Here is the ice cream after I first put it in the mixer.  Notice the ice cream seemingly only half fills the freezer.

2.  Notice that the ice cream has more volume now that it is finished freezing.

3.   My final mise en place.  From left to right:  vanilla wafer crumbles, ice cream tub, finished ice cream

4.  Layers of ice cream and vanilla wafers

5.  Maybe a smaller ice cream tub would have been beneficial. :)

6.  Yes. . .I still lick the spatula when I am done. . . :)

7.  Finished product!

The final result was Josh raving about how wonderful it was.  He said it was better than any that he had tasted from the store.  MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


I am one of those people who struggle with completing projects - especially long ones.  I still only have one living room curtain, minimal kitchen cabinet doors - they are in various stages of being painted white, and a huge pile of "mis-matched" socks.  Maybe I enjoy baking so much because it doesn't take too long to complete.  Who knows.  One of the negative side effects of this problem, combined with my ability to seek sales and stock up on groceries, is that I have a house full of food that I have miserably failed to incorporate into my weekly meal plan.  

Once 2011 started, we began really feeling the stress of the economy.  Something made me realize that I had a ton of food at my house, but was struggling to keep up with my grocery budget.  "No more laziness!" I declared to myself as I hopped up, grabbed a pen and paper, and headed outside to my freezer (yes, outside. . .there is a lean-to type room on the side of my house that is only accessible from the outdoors.  It  stores our water heater, gardening supplies, and a freezer).  I began compiling a list of all the types of food, quantities, and their locations.  After typing my list into a spreadsheet and organizing it by product. . .I was astounded to realized that I had about 150 DIFFERENT TYPES of food (this number only includes type - not quantity.  i.e.  If I had 10 boxes of cake mix, that counts as one type).

Now that I have an accessible file of what food I have at my house, it is easier to plan a weekly menu that only needs minimal groceries.


Plan a time within this next week to go through all of your nooks and crannies.  Maybe you are analytical like I am and would be helped by making a physical list.  Maybe you would do better just taking the time to realize what you actually have.  Whichever personality you have, take some time to see what God has blessed you with and to figure out how to use it to cut your next week's grocery budget!