Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Bits: Terribly Amazed

Sometimes it amazes me that God could take two imperfect people, plus one lifetime of passionate "for better or worse" commitment, and make three perfectly imperfect little souls.
Someone just couldn't decide if pumpkins should have faces or not.

I am also terribly amazed that He sees fit to give us weekends like this:
That same Someone was given a tube of terribly fascinating lip gloss.

Longtime friends turned aunties, eating a leisurely brunch of pumpkin cream cheese muffins and fruit and bacon and eggs...
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listening to worship music, mingled with laughter, while a slight autumn breeze blows in from the back door and the coffee pot drips perfume just behind us.
All of us saying, "Every Friday should start just like this."

Watching home videos going back as far as a brand new Hope and our shiny young{er} faces cheering for first baths and figuring out how to trim those teensie nails that once felt so intimidating.
Now sets of toes have grown big enough for painting too.

My one-and-only arranging all of this, plus a concert later that night, for a gift on the day I turned thirty-four. {Shane and Shane.  Go. Listen.  So good.}
More soul satisfying songs meeting us on the back row where we recognize that life happens too much not to take a moment right then and also say, "I love you, friend."

Sleepy soccer Saturday bringing us more fans than usual, ones who unconditionally love three little personalities for all their cuteness and any of their messes-- one of those auntie angels treating us to first-day-of-fall coffee flavors and jack-o-lantern shaped cookies afterwards.
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Such a short time later when sad faces and big hugs whisper, "I'll see you soon.  Miss you so much till then."
Just like every time those we love have to turn their cars in the opposite direction of our little road, though, we work to find our happy and our home back among one another. Photobucket
It's beautiful and exhausting.
And I am so very grateful for the terrible amazement of it all.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Bits: Fall Inspiration

Such the picture of summer.  Somewhere those babies are running barefoot... again.

My Mom's September visit has begun to mark the almost end of summer for us.  The slight touch of cool to the air, come early morning or late evening, begs the remaining decluttering of home before it's not so easy to escape its doors.  The extra eyes and hands afford me time to finally finish off the big basement clean-out, sort and consign and donate tubs of girly clothes, and even have a yard sale/donation Saturday to seal the deal.
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Hooking Mom on "Downton Abbey," sharing ballet duty, having a babysitter so Joe and I could sneak to the late showing of "Avengers" at the dollar theater, and baking chocolate chip cookies-- totally bonuses.

We can still get by in Crocs these days, but I know it won't be long before socks or boots must also have their say.  By other calculations, however, it's fall and I've had my push to make it official. 

 Inspiration for the season's shift.

:: Lots of recipes start out just like this.  One bowl of flour and oats or the like, and another of pumpkin and sugar and vanilla and egg.
:: I still have people contact me to say they loved this simple recipe posted long ago.  The above picture turned into another favorite 'round here, though it's a little more involved.  A great go-to on busy mornings if made ahead.
Soft Pumpkin Granola Bars
In a medium sized bowl mix together 1 cup of rolled oats, 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour (regular would probably work too), 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.  In a small bowl whisk together 1 egg, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of pumpkin, 1/4 cup good olive oil, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.  Add the wet mixture to the dry and flatten out into a greased baking dish.  Bake for 20 minutes at 350 and let cool.  Then cut into bars.

Optional: A handful of any mix-in such as mini chocolate chips, raisins, sunflower seeds, ground flaxseed, etc.    Freeze in wax paper for individual portions you can pull out on those busier or lazier mornings.

::  Another favorite, this time for lunch and practically as simple as the cake box pumpkin muffins.
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Spread peanut butter on a whole wheat tortilla.  Top with sliced fruit and granola; then drizzle with honey and cinnamon.  Cut like a pizza.

:: Mama in town also means we must do a little thrifting; you know, to balance out all that purging.  Let's see if I can use the word favorite again in one post.  My, well, favorite finds:
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Book rack: $3.75 * Sweet old red rocker: $2.50
Radio Flyer Wagon: $0 {Bought with the exchange of consigned clothes- came in just as I was picking up my stuff and I've wanted one for a long time!}
My Big Splurge for Art: $12.50

An old Pyrex baking dish with the lid ($4.50), big glass granola jar ($1.95), six vintage flower napkin ring holders ($2.95), and long sleeved tees for Hope (one that says her name across the front; all $1-$2 each) finished me out happy.  Retail is so overrated!  :)

:: Summer front porch is a bit of a mess.  Bikes and trikes, sidewalk chalk and watering cans, shovels and strollers happily litter the corners.  Fall time front porch has me remaking old wreaths into new and clearing the path for pumpkin carving and hauling in apples.
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:: Do you love doilies as much as I do?  These are at the Dollar Tree, friends.
The Dollar Tree!

:: We have never had cable, Joe and I.  Cold weather often means more sipped cocoa or cider, though, and dipping into our collection of videos and DVD's.  Among them are fun ones like Heidi, Sound of Music, Swiss Family Robinson, Anne of Green Gables, Black Beauty, the remake of Annie.  And for me: Pride and Prejudice and other Jane Austen, Narnia, Father of the Bride type flicks, and one other terribly awesome classic.  Can you guess it?  Hint: It's nothing for Hope to drop a "Dr. Huxtable" into every day conversation.

They just don't make television like they used to.

:: Soccer Saturday mornings are now cooler; it's becoming more common for us to need light jackets as we play dolls and watch our big girl run up and down the field. Photobucket
:: Before it's gets too cold, might I also recommend homemade lava lamps?  The girls thought the chemical reactions were "going craaaa-zy!"
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 :: Finally this has nothing to do with fall, but it's does have to do with being filled.  After that good search, the girls seem to be thriving at our new church.  They can be found playing around the house and singing worship songs, especially Maddie.  I catch her, particularly, singing ones like "Oh, How I Love Jesus" as she goes about her day-- all on her own.  I cannot tell you how good this does my soul to see my girls with songs on their hearts.
Almost as good as when the teachers tell me that Maddie always goes over to Leesie and holds her hand during song time when their classes join together.  Then tells her, "Don't worry, I am right next door if you need anything.  Okay, you little sweetie?"

A new season, a new breath of fresh air, new inspiration for the taking.  Hoping that beyond the recipes and favorite junk, we have more of my last bit.

Much more, seeing as how it might just be the most inspiring one of all.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Bits: Humble Pie

I used to be a shaker over baker craving kind of girl.  What I mean is, that I would far prefer things like popcorn or chips and salsa to something sweet.  And though I still love me some salty snacks, ever since my pregnancies really, I can dig a sliver of something decadent.  Or a few slivers.

Okay, fine.

Lots of slivers dipped in chocolate, please and thank you.

This past weekend I was drenched, head to toe, in a most unexpected sweetness.  That perfect combination where a too salty end of the week bumped into a fine piece of chocolate.  The result?  Chocolate covered pretzels eaten under cool, crisp sheets.  In new pajamas and slippers.

My Joe hooked me up, just because, with a connection from the law school and my Mama came into town.  The result?  Literally, chocolate covered pretzels eaten under cool, crisp sheets at a bed and breakfast about a half hour away from home.  In new pajamas and slippers.

Thrifting/antiquing, strolling along sidewalks bordered by beautiful old architecture, good meals eaten slowly, a most amazing shower head, time to read and talk and laugh with my Mama.  My Mama who is, by the grace of God, healthy enough to make this trip.
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Simple pleasures; extravagant grace.  Letting others serve us; not exactly the easiest for either one of us.  But, my oh my, what a decadent piece of pie that turned out to be. 

Other bits.

:: Ever notice that having kids can make you more humble?  I mean just earlier this summer we were over the moon about how well our kids traveled long distances, the respect with which they treated adults and other kids.  The works.  However, without naming names, one of our kiddos made some choices the day Mom and I were away that had me both upset and frustrated.  Nothing that couldn't be fixed and put into perspective once I calmed down.  Nothing that couldn't be solved by my  remembering they've only been here, at most, five little years and these tiny tea party lovers still have lots to learn.
And certainly nothing that couldn't be handled by eating a fistful or two of humble pie.  Less pleasant than the high-on-life variety, but equally as important for growth.

:: The stake out.  Nana was going to pull up any minute and these sweet girls weren't missing her horn blaring, high pitched happy squealing, bear hugging for nothing.
:: A slight hint of fall in the air and Mom in town gets me cooking things like butternut squash lasagna, pumpkin lattes, and soup.  I am really trying to hold onto what was, despite the Lyme junk, a most marvelous summer.  But I can't help it.  I love fall so much I could marry it or, at the least, get married in it.  Which I did.
:: Speaking of Mom.  There she sits rooting for Hopey at soccer, whispering moves under her breath and muttering through a smile how they will practice such-and-such this week.  Then telling me we need to fix her a peanut butter smoothie every Saturday morning for extra oomph.
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Mama's always been one for pushing yourself and doing it with pizazz. Sports can teach such valuable life lessons that way.

:: Similarly, Nana sure had tears streaming hearing Hope truly read.  She, like I, remembers our little girl only a few months old and already staring intently at books and anticipating page turns.  Hope came out loving words, which is cut straight from my family's gene pool.
:: And speaking of getting married, I love him so much.  We have learned to work through so many things.  He gets me and, for that, I am forever grateful.

It's only hump day and there's still so much possibility left in this week.   Heck, even if humble-curve-ball-like-pie turns up again on the menu, there is far too much sweetness to drench it in.
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With a fistful of chips for good, salty delicious measure.