Thursday, February 27, 2014

Cold Feet

The design wall in my sewing room is functional, but not fancy. Since my quilting is done in an unfinished basement with plastic-lined walls holding in the insulation, we had to get creative with the design wall.  

Beloved put together a wood frame and then we tacked onto it a large piece of quilt batting.  The whole thing rests atop 2 plastic filing crates and leans against a wall.  It's not as pretty as my set-up in our previous house, but it gets the job done and that's fine with me.

Since the basement is unfinished, the concrete floor can be pretty cold in the wintertime. I wear warm socks and thick rubber soled shoes on the days when I spend a lot of time down there.

Like much of the country this year, Our Town has been very cold.  We've also hit on that time of year when the wind blows a lot and very hard. The large heavy trash cans, even when full, have a difficult time standing up.  

On this particular day Beloved and I went out into the cold blustery air several times to right our garbage cans and to set up those of our neighbors, too.  As the day wore on (and the trash truck had not come), we gave up.

The combination of time spent sewing in the cold basement and making those trips out to deal with the trash cans chilled me quite a bit.  I finally decided to do something warm for myself.

While sitting at my writing desk, I removed my shoes and put my feet on the electric heating pad, with the control set to HIGH.  It was delightful!  

My mother has said many times, "When your feet hurt, you hurt all over!"  The same thing applies to cold feet. Resting my feet on the heating pad warmed me up all over.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Brussels Sprouts Roasted

There's spiritual food and then there's food for the body.  I like to write about both.

Me: "Tonight we're having grilled steak and Brussels Sprouts, for those to care to eat them."

Beloved: "For you, yes; for me, no."

Me: (thinking to myself)  "Good!  That means more for me!"

Brussels Sprouts are one of those cruciferous* vegetables that people either like or hate. There doesn't seem to be a lot of in-between. You can tell by the briefly-recorded conversation above as to which opinion I have about this vegetable.

To roast Brussels Sprouts, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. After rinsing one pound of Brussels Sprouts in a colander, trim the stem ends and then carefully cut them into quarters. 

Line a baking sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.

Combine the quartered Brussels Sprouts in a medium mixing bowl with 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground pepper.

Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast for 10-15 minutes, until just tender and beginning to brown. 

The crispy bits are the best!

The night we had Brussels Sprouts Roasted, we also had steamed broccoli, a Waldorf salad, and grilled beef sirloin steak.

I didn't share any of the Brussels Sprouts with Beloved. But he did enjoy his broccoli with a little melted Cheddar on top.  Admittedly, it's not hard to cook this way (satisfying the preferences of the individual diners) when it's just the two of us. It's very impractical when children are present.

Here's a little story regarding another vegetable some do not like. When our children were still living at home, Beloved bravely ate cauliflower whenever I served it.  But when we packed the last child off for college, it was made clear to me that the charade was now over. Beloved no longer had to set a good example for the kids at the dinner table.  Would I please refrain from serving him cauliflower?

"Yes, Dear."


The recipe was adapted from page 60 of  Complete Idiot's Greens Cookbook.

Friday, February 21, 2014

I'm Not Who I Used to Be

It's true. I am not who I used to be -- neither are you!  

Have you read the science reports that say our body cells die off and are replaced every seven years or so?  Our cells cannot live forever, and eventually they die off and are replaced by new ones.  This is a staggered process because certain cells have a longer life span than others, but to summarize the thought, we are in a sense renewed every few years. That is very intriguing to me.  

But let me take that a step further.  In recent weeks I've been studying the Old Testament judge, Gideon, with a group of church gals. (See Judges chapters 6, 7 and 8) If you aren't current on who he is, allow me to jog your memory.  

Gideon was of the children of Israel, of the tribe of Manasseh.  His family was of the least of his tribe and he was the youngest in his father's house.  Put another way, Gideon thought little of himself, was not a part of the "in crowd," and certainly was not a trend-setter by nature. If he wasn't small in body, he still thought little of himself.

With that in mind, it was surprising when the angel of the LORD came to him with an assignment to be a valiant warrior against the Midianites, an unholy tribe of people who had been pestering Israel relentlessly for many years. The bullying had become so bad that the sons of Israel (that's Bible-talk for God's chosen people) were living in caves to escape the pillaging and destruction brought on by the enemy.

After seven years of this, Israel cried out to God for help (what took them so long?), and the answer came by way of an angel giving introverted Gideon some huge assignments. At one point in his biography, his lack of self-confidence led him to put out a fleece (asking for a sign of assurance from God) not once, but twice.  Both times the LORD honored Gideon with confirmations that yes, this huge undertaking was definitely what God wanted Gideon to do.

The first venture was to pull down an altar to a false god that belonged to Gideon's father.  Then he was to build an altar in it's place and sacrifice a bull as a burnt offering to God. Gideon took ten of his servants and obeyed the LORD, although he was too afraid of his father's household and the men of the city, so they carried out this deed by the dark of night.

When the next morning's sun rays hit the renovated altar, it was soon discovered that Gideon was the mastermind of this action.  The men of the city were taking up arms to kill Gideon, but surprisingly his dad came to his defense saying that if the false god, Baal, was really a god, then the diety should defend himself.  The men of the city would not have to lay a hand on him.

Gideon was left alone and they gave him a new name, Jerubbaal, "let Baal contend against him." No harm came to him.

Gideon was a changed man after that.  Yes, he still had some apprehensions, but by and large, he was no longer  an unknown farmer.  He would not be perceived by his countrymen in quite the same way ever again.  There was no turning back if the enemy of his people was to be defeated.

I think about that.  Where am I now? Where have I been? Am I going to move forward, or am I going to retreat to what is familiar and what worked for me way back when?  

Some people do that, you know.  They are confronted with new places and people, new ways of doing things and they get scared.  They don't like change in spite of the fact that some good has been realized along the way.  They decide to turn and run back to the former and the familiar.  

But what about God?  Does He want us to give up and run away?  I thought He promised us an abundant life! (John 10:10) Didn't He promise to make all things new for His people? (2 Corinthians 5:17 and Revelation 21:5) Do we have to wait to die and go to heaven for that?  What about adventure with Him in the here and now? 

No, I'm not who I used to be.  I've been through some stuff that has changed me, rearranged my perceptions of life, and given me a taste for whatever it is God has in store.  I have no business going where I used to go and doing all that I used to do -- even the applaudable things.  All of that was preparing me for what lies ahead.  

I look forward to seeing what that is!

John 10:10 
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Revelation 21:5

And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said until me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Homemaker's Wednesday

Today has been pleasant.  I love my career as a full-time homemaker.  I realize not all women who want this job are able to pull it off -- unfortunate economics and/or a good husband being the obstacles, so I thank the Lord for blessing my life with both.

On Wednesdays I wash towels, clean bathrooms, dust, and put together my menu plans and grocery list.  

Menu planning is a big deal for me. I like to ensure that we eat a variety of meats, vegetables, and fruits, with not much more than a tip of the hat to sugars and fats.  I also am learning to include as much raw, fresh produce as practical.  Yesterday I came across a library book that has menu plans for 365 dinners, arranged according to season.

The suggestion for tonight was baked chicken brushed with 2 Tablespoons of melted butter and 2 teaspoons of hot sauce. (I opted to cut back on the hot sauce to just one teaspoon.)

Beloved lost 65 pounds a few years ago. He works hard to maintain that loss with daily home exercise and outdoor walks with me, weather-permitting. He exercises and I put the right kind of food in front of him.

My special diet needs include gluten-free foods.  Tonight I am baking a gluten-free cornbread from a mix found at the health foods store. I hope it's better than the gluten-free loaf bread and burger buns I've had  thus far.

I did leave the house for a short time this afternoon.  A new road is under construction in Our Town, one that will result in an additional exit off the Interstate, alleviating some of our current traffic gridlock. After lunch I took a little drive to get a closer look at the work.  

Along the way I stopped to take this snapshot of one of many coal trains that travel through here every day. The train whistles give Our Town a pleasant homey feel.

After that trip I returned to the main task of the day. Someone said in Bible study class yesterday that we if we didn't have a change of clothes, we wouldn't have to do laundry.  I'm thankful for laundry!!

I'll end on one more positive note. This is a piece of cross stitch I made a few years ago.  Good advice for us all. I am pretty sure the pattern is by Lizzie*Kate.

P.S. The cornbread for dinner was delicious!  

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Why Be Good?

Hebrews 13:17  (New Century Version)  Obey your leaders and act under their authority ….. It will not help you to make their work hard.

I am particularly intrigued by the last sentence in this verse, "It will not help you to make their work hard."

In other words, disobedience is to our disadvantage. When we behave in a challenging, difficult way, and particularly in opposition to our spiritual leaders, we do ourselves no favors.

Years ago our Sunday School teacher was Steve Douglass, who is now the President of CRU (formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ).  He is one of just a handful of godly men who, almost without exception, whenever he speaks or writes, the Lord has something pithy to say to me.  One Sunday he spoke of a man who would easily become angered. He said, "His anger did not serve him well."

What an interesting way to phrase that.  I could not help but think back to times when I misbehaved and as a result found myself in discomfort, whether it was getting a spanking from one of my parents, or (in later years) self-imposed humiliation in front of my adult peers for something I had said or done.

We are to be obedient to the Lord not only because we are His representatives, but also for our own personal good.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Banana Ice Cream with Blackberry Sauce

Banana Ice Cream with BlackBerry Sauce

Yesterday was Valentine's Day.  It has been wonderful.  The Lord has given me a very good man and we had every reason to enjoy this day together just as much as we have for the past 45 years.  

As it says in the third chapter of Ecclesiastes, there is a time for everything.  Yesterday was the time to put the diets aside and enjoy fun food together (among other things).  

Did you know that you can put frozen chunks of banana into the food processor and then let the motor run long enough to make a creamy consistency and it will taste like Banana Ice Cream?  My daughter taught me this and it's really great.

Then if that isn't enough "special," she also taught me to run blackberries in the blender with about a teaspoon of raw unfiltered honey and a pinch of salt.  Make that into a liquid and then strain off the blackberry seeds.  Spoon this over the Banana Ice Cream and call it a party!  I added some pecan halves for additional protein.  

Valentine's Day was great for us.  I thank the Lord for giving me such a fun, loving husband!