Friday, June 29, 2012

Small One has me all to herself

Watching small one sprint around the patio. Chalk, ball, shovel, back to chalk. Freedom to choose is more enjoyable than the items themselves.

Big one is enjoying a daddy-daughter date, a fishing trip with her pink Barbie pole. She's been talking about it for weeks. How she's going to sit in Daddy's lap on the big boat. How she will use her pink pole and Daddy his big pole.

With Daddy and big one on the water, I was left with an early morning mommy-daughter date. What to do at 7am with an 18 month old? Uninspired as it seems: let her play with her own toys, alone.

No big sis to tell her how to play or what to play or to snatch toys away.

She hasn't stopped moving or smiling.

So we color bricks, any color she wants on any brick. We play soccer, let her ball hog to her heart's content. We play piano, the keys are all hers. We wander aimlessly as she leads "follow the leader." A morning to do what she wants when she wants.
Now, she wants a nap.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A couple project-y thoughts

DH likes to remind me that I have absurd focus, namely that I obsess about something and let everything else slide. I have a couple big focus drawing projects right now, so I don't have a long cohesive post this week today. Instead I thought I'd combine mini thoughts.

First, a gardening question: Do you remove suckers from tomato plants?

{Not sure what I'm referring to? Here's a picture. P.S. You're probably in the "don't bother" category.}
Last year, I pruned religiously. I turned those vines into tomato trees and saw fruit within weeks of planting. But that was it. I got half a dozen 3" tomatoes, then they were done.

This year, I left my plants alone, suckers intact. They took twice as long to produce fruit, but that fruit is huge, 6 inches or more. Too many biology classes taught me that more leaves means more photosynthesis means more energy to pack into fruit, but what do I know.
So I ask, do you prune your tomato plants, or do you leave them alone? And with what results? Hardly a life altering question, but I'm still curious for your response.

I should mention that all my plants are heirloom varieties. Might make a difference.

Next, an excuse for not posting regularly/update on crafty doings around the house:

I mentioned my newest quilt the other day. Here's a preview:

I call this my "newest quilt" like I quilt so often. Let me be more specific: my most recent, which happens to be my second ever, all on my own, no sis or mom to help me out quilt. The first was a simple 9" block pattern which I quilted with a 'stitch in the ditch' technique. Not advanced, but much loved by big one.

This quilt is still not advanced technique by quilters' standards, but I feel like I stepped up my game with more piecing and free motion quilting {still to be attempted - we'll see how that bridge crossing goes}.

This is where my focus and free time is going. Subsequently, my writing is sloppy {never mind my house and cooking}. Thanks for your patience. I should be finished, well, sometime in the near distant future.

Another P.S.: Sorry for the hoaky Instagram borders. The Canon felt like too much work this morning.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Why I love Summer {no words necessary}

 Ok, I said no words, but does anyone get the Lil Critter reference?

Yep, that pretty much says it all. About 10,000 words worth of pictures.

Hope you're enjoying the unfolding this summer!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Stress relief

Does anyone else take their problems to bed?

Last night, I turned down the sheets, fluffed a pillow and snuggled in next to my angst. All night I tossed over it.

The result of stress-nurturing: a migraine. A migraine while Tim's out of town - there's no relief riding up at 5 o'clock.

I saw a way out last night. I just chose not to take it. That way looked narrow and hard. Watching a mindless show and obsessively checking facebook during the commercials seemed an easier fix.

Distraction is a difficult idol to please. I found my hands itching for something else. Can I crochet, check facebook, watch tv, and read? Would that many distractions keep my mind away from the real problem?
The narrow way that led to life: read daily Psalms. I put off reading all day, favored the blog and baking and cleaning and stress. Late night, girls asleep, house dark and quiet, soul troubled. If God had started tea and opened the book for me, he couldn't have set me up better. But I ignored him. Looked hard at the book and in my heart of hearts, didn't want his fix.

My aching head could not carry the weight this morning. I dragged myself to pages of living water.

And found the peace I needed. The passages weren't specific to the stress, but the trust in God was.

And God's word starts chain reactions. Words I memorized for just such situations, muted under the enemy's breath, until other Godly words brought them to mind:

Cast your cares on the Lord because he cares for you. 

Trust in the Lord with all your strength.

Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit.

Consider HIM so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
These words are peace bringing, eternally orienting, ever applicable. With a heart centered, my head comes back in line. Maybe not the pain, but the the thought line.

Again, God uses everything, even migraines, for his good purpose.

For more on fighting the path of distraction: How to Unplug

For more on worshipping through reading:
If you read the Psalms only for doctrine, you’re not reading them for what they are. They are psalms, songs, poetry. They’re musical, and the reason human beings express truth with music and poetry is to awaken and express emotions that fit the truth. John Piper at Desiring God
For more on reading Psalms daily: Psalms in 30 days -- It might look complicated, but this plan gives you a Psalm from each book in Psalms {roughly} each day. I find that at least one will fit my day, better than when I would read five kingly Psalms on a day I was feeling serf-ish.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Camping at Westmoreland

Our first family vacation! Just the four of us, not a trip to the parent's or a wedding or any other event. Three days in the woods as a family.We almost didn't know how to begin.

That might be why we procrastinated choosing a tent site. We had every option to chose from because we have not visited any of them. So we pussyfooted.

Our hesitation chose for us. The first half dozen campsites we looked into were booked full. Westmoreland State Park was low on our list; I felt a bit let down before we even packed the car.

But I was wrong. Wrong, wrong. All those "no vacancies" everywhere else led to this moment:
Juvenile Bald Eagle fishing

Joy. At sharing beauty with my family. At the majesty of creation. At white cliffs plunging to the bay and eagles fishing overhead and all 2 hours from home. At sun and dirt and feeling like the adventuring me that was confined for pregnancy and raising infants was finally breathing real air.

The art of camping is well practiced between us. We don't need to talk through who will do what. We have our areas of expertise. Set up camp together. Hubby builds a fire while 'wifey' starts dinner. The ritual of temporary homesteading.

It's a little more complicated now that we have to take turns with the girls. Small one was channeling the spirit of Pocahontas, ready to trail blaze if a watchful gaze happened to stray.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Crafty Celebrations

How do you celebrate with people? Are you a card writer or a party thrower?

As you might have guessed, I make stuff. When my best friend went into labor, I knitted baby hats until the birth announcement text arrived. For me, it's more than just giving a gift. The making helps me feel like I'm part of the process, part of the party.

I pulled out fabric tonight to celebrate with a dear friend. She leaves this week to bring home her new daughter from China. Before my sewing machine, quilt in process, I'll rejoice while they celebrate with baby Miriam.
Last week, we celebrated with another sweet friend who is welcoming baby number two. Picking out fabrics felt like I was nesting. {Personal revelation - maybe this is how I stave off the baby bug.}

Our house was covered in craft for a week - banner, mobile, dresses. I lost myself in whimsical fabric. Finishing in time to start again. {This time, DH is traveling, so the mess isn't quite as disturbing to family life.}

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Garden Party 2012

What is she doing? The half-crazed woman stabs the ground over and over in the late dusk. Hurriedly plunging seeds into the ground before the sun carries its last lingering rays around the world. Must finish before dark; I will look like a cult priestess planting seeds by moonlight.

I've remained uncharacteristically silent about the garden this year, even though I have more time, plants, and successful garden-harvested meals than any other year. The disappointing end of previous gardens has humbled me. At least for April and May. All plants looks promising in early spring.
This year, I started in early April with the ground preparing and the seed buying. By mid-April, I picked up half price plant packs for spring crops and the garden was well underway. I seem to add new plants every 2 weeks as I find more space.

Space. Isn't that every gardener's dilemma? Produce is addictive. I have more space, more plants, more variety than ever, but in my head, all I can see is what I could plant with more space. Maybe this year the Lord will teach me garden contentment {a positive step from the lesson in futility of the last two years}.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Spinach Crust Pizza

Anyone else wonder why the hospital staff let you leave with your children? I just blamed the cat for failing to recycle his empty food can.

Which leads me to another confession: I open the can of food and drop it outside the back door for the world's greatest cat.

This mini catharsis has nothing to do with the body of my post. It's just the moment I'm living in. Hanging out in the back yard between events. Big one is feeding me pebble pancakes while small ones harasses, I mean cooks for the world's greatest cat.

A jam packed weekend... I miss picking up a pizza from Costco or even better, Papa Murphey's. I don't like griping about the gluten free thing. A modified diet is an easy solution to avoid weekly migraines. But convenience was nice.

We've battled through several gf pizza recipes, none with great success. But then I stumbled upon a recipe from Mollie Katzen in the Moosewood Cookbook. I had to make instant adjustments based on what my crisper contained, but we now have a terrific gluten free pizza crust.

Without yeast, you can pull the finished pizza out of the oven an hour after you start the recipe. And, for you Mommas who like to fortify everything with veggies {sounds much less deceptive than 'sneak'}, the crust is spinach. Join me as a dance a recipe jig!

Spinach-Crust Pizza

1 bag fresh spinach, chopped
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 c whole wheat/grain flour {millet, sorghum, buckwheat, etc...}
1/2 c shredded mozzarella
1/2 c grated parmesan
2 T olive oil
salt, crushed red pepper, basil to taste

Mix all ingredients together, then press into a greased pie plate {deep dish} or 9x13 casserole dish {thin crust}. Bake at 415 degrees for 30-35 minutes until the crust is crispy and edges turn golden brown.

Remove from oven and top with your favorites. Ours are:
Saute'd mushrooms
Fresh tomatoes
Pine nuts
Sun-dried tomatoes
Black olives
More cheese!

Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is to your liking. Slice and serve!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Compulsive Listing

I love lists. Writing them, organizing them, checking them off {I smile just thinking about checking a box}.

What? No one is surprised?

Actually, I love lists because I'm not naturally organized. I'm a habitual forgetter - drove my mom nuts. When I can't do anything, I remember, then forget when I could. This causes great anxiety because my forgetfulness always lets someone down, usually DH.

But once a task is on the list, it's as good as done. No more forgetting. It's in black and white on Evernote, so computer and phone and even DH can remind me to get it done.
When I sit down in the morning to read and pray, my mind spins with what I need to do, when I have time to do it, what order, what priority. I want to start my list. Then I won't have to think about it any more. I can focus:

God, let me get my stuff in order, then we can talk. Just let me schedule my day, then you can have my full attention.

That sounds so reasonable. 5, maybe 10 minutes to order my tasks and clear my mind before I spend time with God. But it never works. Now I am distracted by the list. Did I forget to add something? Should I plan the rest of the week too? Did I leave room for blogging and cleaning and playing with the girls?


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