Monday, March 31, 2008

Where Oil and Water Mix

It finally happened.  I helped my sweet mother-in-law make soap about a week ago.  I waited until now to tell you about it so I could get some final product photos and because, well, I am just now having the time to sit down and write about it.  :)  I am reading a book given to me by my mother-in-law that explains how to make a variety of natural soaps.  It is quite interesting as it gives some tidbits on how soap was developed and how it works.  I must admit that I have a whole new appreciation for this product that I use everyday with little thought to how it does what it does.  It was more of a mentality of "Well, it's always here and I was told to use it."  Rather than really knowing the whys and how's of it all.  It's an interesting process that happens really fast... at first.  Once the soap is poured in the "soapbox" then a whole new process begins to happen and it's a game of hurry up and wait.  The box then needs to sit in a thermal stage.  The box is covered with a top and a BUNCH of towels to keep the heat in that is emitted from all the chemical reactions going on in there.  It helps the soap set up.  24-hours later we open the box to find a lovely batch of soap.  But the process is not done yet.  Even three days after the thermal stage the soap is still feels like a soft cheese.  Not really what you want when you head to the showers.  At this point the soap is ready to be cut and have a variety of decorative things done to it if one so desires.  Then the soap usually needs to sit exposed to the air for another SIX WEEKS to harden and cure (making sure there is no live lye still in the soap.)  So, while it is a timely process it is quite fun.  I hope to be making my first batch on my own in the coming weeks.  YAY!!

In an attempt to further my pampering creative skills my sweet mother-in-law gave me a recipe to make lotion.  It was beyond me that I could really make my own because, you know, like beef, lotion comes from the store!  (ha ha!!)  Well, I gave it a whirl and it didn't come out half bad!  However, I must admit the fragrance isn't the best.  I think that I must have used a bit much of the essential oil and I think this particular one needs to be coupled with another fragrance and not just stand on its own.  All in all, the lotion itself is really quite nice that it light and not heavy and oily.  It feels really nice on the skin.  I may try it again.  But I am not so sure what to do with all this lotion that I already have.  Maybe I will just use it on my feet for now.

So, I will let you know how my first batch of soap comes out in the future and any other recipes that I try in this arena.  So many ideas!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Written Word

Journal and Pen"Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write." - John Adams, 1765

I like to write.  It doesn't really matter what it is that I am writing as long as I enjoy the feel of the pen I could just keep going.  I will say that my favorite thing to write is personal correspondence.  Nothing beats a real letter delivered right to your mailbox.  Nothing seems quite as delightful as opening a letter from a friend or loved one.  They have taken time and thought to actually write something down and then to send it.  I love letters - sending and receiving.  My husband will tell you that I have a fascination with stamps, too.  It's true.  Not that I collect them but I love to buy the different designs to send out.  While I love the traditional "flag" stamps and all that they stand for, I really love to find the different designs and put a little something extra on my letters.  While most would never notice the extra touch, I always look at the stamp. 

While I was explaining to my husband reasons I like to write I think I started to sound a bit fanatical.  It's more the experience and satisfaction of writing than the final product really.  I like the sound of a mechanical pencil on paper (which was probably the only thing that really got me through me college calculus class!)  I love the feel of the pen in my hand.  I love the thought of a nicely picked piece of stationary and how my colored Sharpie pen glides across with each stroke.  I like the look, the sound, the feel.  The smell of a Sharpie is not always so delightful, though... but it doesn't deplete the experience one bit.

Along with writing I love to type.  Matt recently bought me a new laptop computer and I am simply in love with the keyboard.  I love the way the keys feel and the sounds they make as I click, click, click away.  It's the experience indeed.  I like to write e-mails.  Although, these days I don't seem quite as on top of it as I used to be.  The downside for me in typing is that my mind moves much faster than my fingers.  I will think that I have typed out a particular word only to go back and find several missing!  I do have my share of typos.  Maybe that will work itself out someday.  Such is life, I suppose.  But that is when I can be thankful for spell check and the "discipline" of proof-reading.

So, for some it's the end product of writing that is the great satisfaction.  While I do like the end product I greatly enjoy the experience much more.  For me the end product is a nice little perk. 

I like paper goods, ultra-fine tip Sharpie markers, blue pens, stamps, Hallmark seals, mechanical pencils, my blog, my journal, and obviously words.  What more can I say? 

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

29 and Not Really Holding...

Birthdays.  I LOVE birthdays.  Not sure why but I have a feeling it will always be that way until the very last one is squeezed out of me.  (Oh, mine was Sunday.)

We have had a bit of a week long celebration.  Mostly due to the "free" certificates that I get from different food establishments.  To say the least the restrictions on my diet have been loosened a bit for the week which is nice.  I am not even too upset that it will take about a weeks worth of work to reverse the effects but I am REALLY okay with that if it means I can have fries a couple of times this weekend.

Birthday celebrations all really began on Monday, March 10.  I had a coupon for Dairy Queen and a free Blizzard.  So, off we went on Monday needing to celebrate not only my birthday but the decision to stay put in our lovely home for the time being and cease our house search for a season.  It was a good move and we continue to see how the Lord is confirming that in our lives all throughout the week.  So, to toast my birthday and the decision I had a (Stacy could guess this) Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Blizzard minus the chocolate sauce and Husband had a Strawberry Cheese-Quake Blizzard.  Blizzard's have sentimental value from college for me.  Although, the DQ here in the 'Copa doesn't quite have the "atmosphere" that my quaint small college town DQ had.  Oh well, I will take what I can get.

Wednesday, I had a free Sonic drink -- Cherry Limeade, delightfully refreshing.

Later in the week my friend from high school, Sarah, called and said, "So, how do you feel about surprise visitors?"  In short, Sarah's husband had some time off and they were going to do some camping from California on into Arizona.  She didn't know it was my birthday weekend but wanted to know if we could do a meal sometime.  So, Friday evening, Sarah, Sam, and their two little ones, Rowan (3) and Miles (10-months) showed up on our front door!  Fun times!  We went to dinner and it was great to catch up with them even if it was entirely too short of a visit.  They had a funny camping story to share with us and it was fun to see how much Rowan has changed (a delightful and beautiful little girl) and to finally meet Miles (who wasn't so sure of me!)  They left soon after dinner because the kiddos were fading fast -- I think Sam and Sarah were too, especially after packing up their campsite in a record 30 minutes in the middle of the night because of a bear scare!  The rest of the evening was quite as Matt and I watched a little TV, talked, and read.

Sidenote:  Even our financial adviser called to wish me a happy birthday.  It was very kind of them.  They asked about plans.  As I told them I had to stop and laugh, then blurted, "Basically we are eating our way through the weekend!"  I'm fine with that... I like food.

Saturday, Husband greeted me with, "Happy Birthday Eve, Sweetie!"  To which I laughed because he likes to do the "eve" thing for a variety of things.  Our Saturday traditional breakfasts had been revamped due to diet, however, today I wanted Eggs Benedict in a bad way.  I had planned ahead and purchased some things needed that would be a little more diet friendly and the splurge seemed a little more justified.  I was bummed that "This Old House Hour" wasn't on but I was glad that it will resume next weekend.  (They are working on a house in the 9th Ward which is where I was doing hurricane relief in 2006 -- maybe another post on that at a later date.)  It was a delightful and very relaxing morning.

Saturday afternoon we met up with my in-laws at a fun little bowling alley where we really just stunk up the lanes!  HA!  That is with the exception of Husband.  He did really well and the rest of us really had quite the laughable scores.  It didn't matter because all had fun and we came away with three free games for another day.  After that we grabbed some dinner at IN-N-OUT burger (which is actually fairly diet friendly if done right) and then off to a flour-less molten chocolate lava dessert at Roy's Hawaiian Fusion... not so diet friendly, but worth EVERY bite!

Sunday, Palm Sunday, and my official birthday!  Woohoo!  Husband and I got ready for church and I wanted Dunkin' Donuts.  Much to my sad realization after visiting TWO Dunkin' Donuts in the valley we think they may have all shut down!  Say it ain't so!  I will do some investigating on that.  We ended up having some McDonald's because we had to get to church to set up communion.  Church was delightful with many well wishers and fun gifts from friends.  We went to Red Robin for lunch (because they have endless baskets of fries AND I had a free burger coupon) and half way through my burger I found some paper from the cheese!  AH!  Well, because of that not only was my burger already free they comped us for another burger.  That was very nice of them... they really are about the customer there.  The rest of the afternoon was spent with family playing games and having fun... and more dessert.  I loved all the gifts that my friends and family so generously showered upon me, things to use with the iPod, things for my crocheting adventures, supplies for my new venture in soap making, an Ansel Adams photo set, balloons, cards, and three lovely bouquets of flowers. 

It was a grand weekend!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Lessons from the Pews

Pews 2

When I was little, pews conjured up thoughts of great discomfort, lack of fun, boredom, rigidity, and who knows what else.  It brought to mind people that sat a little too close that I didn't know all that well.  It was a strange thought process that led me down a path that did not appreciate what pews really had to offer and what they bring to worship and to the church body.

It wasn't until recently that I have grown to appreciate pews for a number of reasons.  Our pastor clued me in to some of its symbolism and as we worked to raise Pewsmoney to replace our old chairs the more excited I became about getting the pews into our sanctuary.  It really pecame a priority for our congregation.  Now that they are here it is a true blessing, indeed, for our congregation.  Some of you may think that now we have become this old fuddy-duddy church or something (I do know of a few more "modern" churches that are going back to pews -- props to them!)  However, there are some practical reasons for the pews as well.  One thing, believe it or not, we actually increased the seating capacity in our sanctuary.  It's also nice for families with wee little ones whose regular nap time falls during the service.  If they can't quite make it through then they can lay in the pew and not fall between the chairs.  I also greatly appreciate the "modesty railing" at the front for those of us sitting in the front row from time to time.  There is less of a worry if a dress gets caught or something may be showing.  ha!

Now, for the true meat of it all.  When I was first learning about my new faith in Christ I was told "You should really work on your personal relationship with Jesus" or to "really focus on what is going on inside."  Something along those lines.  There wasn't a huge pressing need to be in a church it was more of a side thought.  I needed to focus on me before ever thinking about church -- Just ME and Jesus.  I am becoming more convinced these days that it isn't about ME but it is about WE.  Yes, Jesus is coming back for me because I am apart of the WE... the bride of Christ, the Church.  I realized that if I focused on ME too much I would never really come to care for and love the WE, the Church.  I want people to say at the end of my life, "She loved the Church, the bride of Christ."  On the other hand, if I focused more on the WE then the ME part of the equation would indeed be developed to be more like Jesus, loving who He loved, serving those along side others that do His bidding, I would be sharpened by those who have lived this life longer than I, gain wisdom from leaders and women that I know.  It was revolutionary to me to think as a group the individual would be sharpened much more effectively than had I just been trying to go it alone.  I am not down playing the importance of the "relationship" aspect with Jesus.  We need to be in the Word, studying, praying, etc.  But I don't think it's about ME and Jesus... it's WE and Jesus.  We were created in community and for community for a reason.  I think there is a reason the disciples were numbered as 12 and were sent out in pairs.  And let us not forget the "God in three persons, blessed Trinity."  There is always a level of community with the presence of Jesus.

All this is offered in pews.  Pews bring us together.  They are communal... we are COMMUNING with the true and living God...and each other.  Again, it is not about ME in my MY individual chair.  It's about the body of Christ.  His Bride to be presented without blemish.  It's really quite intense when you think about it.  I think pews also make a statement in that this is a "house of God."  This sanctuary is for worship not basketball.  Those pews are not going anywhere.  We don't see Moses and Aaron clearing out the tabernacle for a game of boccie ball.  We see Jesus clearing the temple area because people are defiling it with overpriced sales of sacrifices.  A place to be kept holy for Him.

Another thing about pews, well these pews in particular, is that they have "kneelers."  We can practice the position of kneeling as we come before our Lord and Maker to give adoration, thanks, confession, and praise.  We see often throughout the bible that many take a kneeling position of prayer.  It's not to say that is the ONLY way but it is a way that is not often practiced in churches today.  Why?  What happened to reverent awe when we go to worship?  I think that we get caught up in the lackadaisical and not really thinking and truly believing that God is in this place.  We will get all spiffed up for a concert or some other special occasion (like meeting the Queen of England) but we simply roll out of bed with no thought or concern on how to present ourselves to our Savior.  How did the Church get to this place?

These are things that rumble in my head these days as I learn things that I have never really thought about before and I think about where I have been and where I am going.  I think that I shall stop here for now as I fear I could keep going and going and going. 

Maybe more on another day...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Created in His Image

It's interesting how things in life can really coincide at the right moment to cause great reflection on things learned in the past and things we are currently learning.  A couple of years ago I was taking a class with Dr. Wayne Grudem.  One of our assignments was to take different attributes of God and figure out how we are created to (in His image) to do things that are similar.  What comes to the forefront of my mind in this instance is creating.  God created.  I think we can overlook that at times and even take it for granted.  However, we were created to create.  House are built, dresses are made, cars are assembled, etc.  We create things which reflect the image in which we were created.

My friend, Amanda, mentions in her blog that March is National Craft Month.  Now, while I am not as crafty and creative as my sweet friend I am learning some new things and exercising this other side of me.  It also came at an interesting time when reading a book with several other ladies in church called, "The Hidden Art of Homemaking" by Edith Schaeffer.  She says:

"There should be a practical result of the realization that we have been created in the image of the Creator of beauty.  Whether you are married and have a family; whether you share a house or a flat with one or a number of people; whether you still live with your parents; whether you live alone and have guests in from time to time; whether you are a man or a woman:  the fact that you are a Christian should show in some practical area of a growing creativity and sensitivity to beauty, rather than in a gradual drying up of creativity, and a blindness to ugliness."  pg 32, 33

These are words that I wish had been spoken to me long ago.  Although, I must admit that I may not have been ready to hear them.  I know that I tried to make my little apartment lovely but it wasn't really a priority.  It has since become one and it is still quite an exercise for me to think through what would work in different areas of our house and how to execute it all.  When I read these words I immediately flashed to a memory of walking into a couple's home as I was to watch their son for the afternoon.  Wonderful believers with not a lick of anything on the walls and some plastic features here and there.  Although, their son's room was decorated nicely the rest of the house left me with a sterile feeling.  I have this image in one sense and then the image of many of the homes that I have been invited to fellowship in and the vast creativity of our Creator comes out in the variety in which many women have adorned their homes.  Warm, lovely, safe, comfortable would be words that I would use to describe them -- all works in process.  I don't mention the other home to "judge" them but to describe the vast difference in them.  I want our home to be lovely because my Creator is lovely and He created me to create... in His image.  I want our home to declare His glory and proclaim His blessings.

Schaeffer goes on to say that while there is always something new to learn there is usually something that must be dropped to make room because we are, after all, finite beings.  Obviously, priorities must stay in view when we decide what will be put on the back burner.  You may say, "My schedule is loaded!  No time, no time!!"  Schaeffer beckons us to be creative in our creativity.  Maybe you take the time to present the evening meal in a special and different way rather than just slopping it up on the table.  Take some time to think about living artistically.  I am still tossing around ideas in my head and with the ladies that are reading this book with me.  If you have some thoughts, please feel free to share!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Expanded Vocabulary

For several months now we have been looking for a house that would take us closer to our church family (and other friends and family!) as our commute is a bit long but not too unbearable.  If you are not stuck in the mud somewhere, you know that the housing market in the majority of America is in a pretty miserable state of being.  With that fact in hand, we have opted to rent our current house, Lord willing, and move to another house.  In this whole process we have seen many houses that are "short-sale" houses, "bank-owned" property, and others that are moments away from "foreclosure."

It is a sad state when you realize that maybe some bad decisions were made in financing, or maybe it was a lost job, or something and now these people are losing their homes and having to sell them probably for less than half of what they paid for it and it will by no means cover the mortgage left on the house.  Many, including us, stand to profit from these mistakes -- not on purpose, but because this happens to be the current state of the market.  It is also a sad statement for some of the former owners character as we saw a house that had fallen victim to what our Realtor calls a "foreclosure party."  There were holes in the walls, carpet messed up, the kitchen sink was gone, and they even took the two air conditioners!  Really, what are they going to do with those?  What gets me even more is that our Realtor has seen much worse.

As I was talking to my friend about all this she made a very telling statement, "It's sad that in these times our vocabulary consists of these terms and we are very well aware of what they mean."

She is so very right.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Now, most people know that I am not too freaked out about germs.  I like things clean but I don't really freak out about germs really.  Unfortunately, the guy at the counter didn't know too much about my apathy towards being "germ-free."

I approach the counter to pay for my lunch.  I pull out some cash, which is a rare deal for me as we prefer to rack up frequent flyer miles with the plastic, and hand it to the store-manager/cashier.

"Did you know that debit cards are dirtier than cash?", he inquires.

I'm thinking, "Do I care?  And why is he asking me this?"  Apparently he is noticing how anti-bacterial I am.  You know, cleanliness is next to godliness!  Enduring this weird interaction I look at him a little perplexed (still confused why he is telling me this) and and say, "Really?"

"Well, you know your wallet has germs, right? [perish the thought!]  Then you give it to someone AND they have germs. [gasp!]  Then they put it through the scanner and IT has germs, too!"[oh the horror of it all!]

I am really thankful at this point that the guy doesn't have telepathy as I think to myself, "IS THIS GUY FOR REAL????"

My thought process for money seems to be the same.  It's in my wallet where apparently there are some germs present, obviously.  Then I, who also is in possession of said germs, hand it to someone who ALSO has germs.  Then they put it in their mostly likely germ infested money drawer.  Then the cycle continues when they use that money from my transaction to give the next person their change.

Some germs are good.  I will not live in fear!!!  No way, no sir, no how..... uh-uh....nope....

However, I will admit that I do like when my hands are clean.  There will be times when in particular places that all of a sudden my hand feel really heavy with a dirty film.  Like when riding the metro in Paris.  Yes, that is a good example indeed.... 

...get thee to the washery*! 

(*yes, my own made up word.  Do you know what Shakespearean play I am mildly referencing here?)

Monday, March 3, 2008

In My Head

I did not realize it had been such a long time since I posted here. Please forgive me. Yesterday I thought I had quite a bit to write about in the musings of the day. However, at this present time I cannot remember those thoughts and ponderings. So, while I read and do a variety of other things today, I shall think on those things that I would like most to share with you and hopefully post them here straight away.

Until then...

 (really written March 4, but still trying to figure out the bugs)