Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Hodge Podge Wednesday

1.  In honor of the date . . .when were you last sent on a "fool's errand"?  A couple of years ago, my husband asked for a banana tree for his birthday and then he mentioned it again in the fall.  I thought - aha!  I know what to buy this man for whom it is so difficult to buy a gift!!  A banana tree!!  What fun, right?  So I called every single nursery -- e.v.e.r.y. o.n.e. - and asked if they had any banana trees in stock.  NO ONE had a single banana tree.  At Christmas, I told him how I had wanted to please him and wanted to buy the banana tree as a surprise.  I told him how I had called all around looking for one.  He started laughing . . .see below for what he really wanted!

2.  Peter Rabbit, Bug Bunny, The Energizer Bunny, The Easter Bunny, Rabbit (Pooh's friend), White Rabbit (of Wonderland fame), or the Trix Rabbit . . .which of these "famous" rabbits can you best relate to right now?  How about the bunny that runs out of battery power when he is up against the Energizer bunny???  You didn't include that one!!  This is Holy Week.  I'm on staff at a LARGE church.  One of our wonderful congregants died last night.  We have church services every day this week and 7 services are planned for Sunday!  Actually - I'm going to BE the Energizer Bunny this week - I'm going to keep on going and going and going and going WITH a smile on my face!!

3.  When did you last find yourself scrambling to get something done?  Good question.  I try not to wait until the last minute to get things done because I HATE scrambling.  I like to plan ahead and get things done ahead of time so that we aren't scrambling.  As I was typing, I did think of two recent scrambles.  Our office closes at four on Fridays.  One of our Senior Pastors (I'm his assistant) met with a non-church member on Friday at 3 to plan a funeral.  I typed the funeral bulletins and made 100 copies and was still out the door at 4.  Yesterday, our minister of music emailed me at 1:40 and needed a postcard to be produced and mailed.  I leave at 2 on Tuesdays to get ready for Tuesday night Bible study (cook, prepare, etc.).  I told him that I couldn't do it but then decided to compete against myself . . .I made the postcard in publisher, made the copies, ran the labels from the database and attached labels and postage and had five minutes to spare!

4.  Last time you were up at the literal crack of dawn?  Why?  Last time you stayed up all night?  Why?  Heck - I get up at the crack of dawn most every day.  It is still dark outside and I see the sun rise - does that count??  I stayed up most of the night last Thursday night with leg cramps - oh crap - I should erase that - makes me sound old!  Last year, the night before we had to have our sweet cat, Snug, put to sleep . . .we stayed up pretty much all night with him.

5.  Crack a book, crack a bottle, crack a joke, crack an egg . .. which have you done most recently?  I love to read, so I'm always reading but most of the time on my kindle.  We served wine to friends on Saturday night - so I cracked a bottle.  I love to laugh but I am a horrible joke teller - I tend to forget the punch line!!  I made deviled eggs on Thursday night for supper so I cracked some eggs!  I win - I did almost all of them!

6.  What is your favorite part of a typical weekend?  Tell us why that's so.  I LOVE the whole weekend.  I love that moment right before four o'clock on Friday afternoon.  I feel like a little kid on the last day of school.  I love going out to eat with friends or having friends over.  I love not having to set the clock for Saturday mornings (though sleeping late is just until 7 or so!).  I love our church - our preachers - our music - our Sunday school class - our Jesus!!  (though I will admit that it is hard to make myself get up and get dressed on Sunday morning after being here all five days -- BUT ONCE I'M HERE - I love it!!

7.  What's something I'd find on a bookshelf in your home?  Other than a book, I mean!  We have a small antique bookcase in our loft living area upstairs.  There are a few old books but I also have a piece of pottery from the Wadley, Alabama potter.  I also have the hand cross that I was given when I was the Lay Director on an Emmaus Walk.  There are a couple of photos in frames on one shelf.  On top of the bookcase, is a little wooden church.  There is also a big, gold, wooden E.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.  Let's see . . .I am so happy that spring is here.  I wish that I did not have allergies so that I could just stay outside all the time.  We have these wonderful porches - three to be exact - and I love sitting outside.  I told Mark the other day that I love coming home in the afternoons to our HOME.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Wednesday Hodge Podge . . . on THURSDAY!

Go visit here and link up!!

1. This coming weekend is Palm Sunday, which marks the beginning of Holy Week. Do you celebrate Easter in your home? What was your favorite Easter tradition as a child? I am on staff at a large United Methodist Church so, yes, we definitely celebrate Easter. This next week is indeed Holy Week and we will have services every single day . . .it makes Easter so much more special. My favorite Easter tradition as a child was the fact that I got two Easter dresses every year. I had one for Sunday morning and another (not as fancy) one for Sunday night. I grew up in a very blue collar home so looking back, this must have been an extravagance that I took for granted. Many of our dresses were sewn by a local seamstress (Mrs. Bowen) and I fondly remember going to her house. She was always drinking a coke and they ate a lot of French fries at her house and everything was always a mess because she was busy sewing. I loved it!

2. George Weinberg is quoted as saying, 'Hope never abandons you, you abandon it.' Agree or disagree? Share your own thoughts on the word hope. As a Christian, there is always hope in Christ. Jesus wins. Hope wins! I think hope is always available, so yes, I would agree with the above statement. We would be the ones to give up.

3. Weigh in with a yay or nay on the traditional Easter candies. A solid milk chocolate bunny? Cadbury Creme Eggs? Peeps? Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs? Jellybeans? Coconut Cream Eggs? Of the candies listed, which one would you most like to find in your Easter basket? Let’s see . . .I TOTALLY love Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs. I also love the coconut and chocolate nests by Russell Stover. I love peanut butter and chocolate and I love coconut and chocolate. Jelly beans are pretty good, too, but the other two are my favs!!

 4. When did you last feel 'like a kid in a candy store'? Wow . .. sometimes I feel like that in Pottery Barn! When we bought our house, we had to purchase some new furniture and decorative accessories and it was fun! I also feel that way when I get to shop at Gigi’s Scrapbook store in Foley, AL.

5. What's something you know you do differently than most people? Does that bother you? Does it bother other people? Hmmm – I am louder than most people – in both speech and laughter!  I can’t think of anything else!!

6. Palm Springs CA, Palm Beach FL, or the PALMetto State...of the three mentioned, which sunny spot would you most like to visit right now? Which have you visited at one time or another? I would love to go to any warm and sunny spot for an extended vacation RIGHT NOW!

7. If you could change the length of a day would you lengthen it or shorten it? Tell us why. I would never shorten a day (unless it was a bad situation) – usually I’m wishing for more hours in a day. A friend once told me to pray for God to “so order my day” so that I might accomplish all He wants me to accomplish. That thought helps!

8. Insert your own random thought here. We have a new pet – a 14.7 pound tabby named Harvey. Harvey is obsessed with dental floss. He can hear the sound made when you pull the dental floss from the container and he takes off running toward the sound. He also loves ponytail holders (elastic bands) and will play hockey with one all around the room. His latest trick . . .I found him fishing in the toilet. Thank God for clean water.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Two of the tools in my toolbox

This is not a profound post.  As I was typing the title, I thought that I could write about the tools that I use along my Christian journey.  I have lots of them, I'm sure.  Instead, I'm going to write something trivial because that seems to be where my brain is lately.

I love crafting - I like to sew.  I used to smock (maybe again some day).  I like to do paper crafts of all kinds from scrapbooking to card making to invitation making to banner making.  I like to make wreaths of all kinds.

This week, I have used two of my tools multiple times.  I have a pair of Black and Decker scissors (plug them in - charge the battery - unplug and cut away).  They are great for cutting multiple strips of fabric.  I'm working on a wreath right now for a baby boy shower.  I need hundreds of strips of fabric cut into 1 inch by 6 inch strips.  These scissors are not for work that requires precision cutting . . .or maybe I should say "this operator" can't use these scissors for precision cutting!!

My other tool that has had multiple uses this week is my Silhouette Cameo.  This is my second cutter from Silhouette and I have LOVED both of them.  There are times when I get frustrated because I can't figure out something but if I take the time, I can almost ALWAYS find a blog with instructions or a youtube video of someone doing whatever it is I need.  I used my machine to make two baby shower banners - a "we don't know the sex yet" banner of pastel colored onesies (baby is arriving today and we will know whether it is a boy or a girl!!)  and a cute banner for sweet baby Hadley Kate due in a few weeks.  I also cut out 35 or so baby shower invitations for a baby boy shower at the end of April.  I'm in love with the invitations.

Do you have hobbies that require tools?  Do you have favorites that you use often?  I would love to hear about them because I might need to add some tools to my toolbox!!!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

All Clad Cookware

I've always wanted GOOD cookware . . .and I've always just had mediocre pots and pans.  I did a Facebook poll this last year and asked people about their favorite.  All Clad won - hands down!  I priced a "set" and realized it was quite expensive and I mentioned that fact to a friend of mine.  She said, "why don't you buy a piece at a time?"  Duh!  A family in our church gifted me with a $100 Amazon gift card for Christmas (thank you if you are reading!!) and I went to Amazon to see what pieces they had available.  I ordered the little sauce pan with my gift card.  I've loved it!  Last week, I decided it was time to add another pan.  I had received an email from All Clad about a sale of "seconds."  I was a little bit afraid but remembered that a lot of times what you purchase in an outlet store is a second.  I ordered the saute' pan above and it came yesterday.  I love it!  I want to get a dutch oven next.  So far, I've purchased pieces that cost around $100.00.  I think I'll use these two pieces a while longer to make sure I want to invest that much.  I might even shop around for a set - might be able to find one on sale.  I'd love to know what pieces are favorites of others.

By the way, All Clad has no idea I'm writing this post.  They didn't give me anything free (though I would certainly accept it if they offered!!  I would even be willing to be a tester!! Wishful thinking on my part!)  I'm writing this just because I want to do so!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Yay! It's Friday!!

I was doing so much better at updating my blog and then I fell off the wagon again.  Where does time go???  I actually was sick this month.  I've NEVER missed three days of work for illness . . .but I did in 2015.  Oh my goodness!  Nastiest lower GI bug ever and I had a fever.  Good Lord, I'm 56 years old.  Why in the world would I have a temperature of 101.7?  Let me just tell you that I felt totally lousy.  One of the days that I was home sick, ended up being an inclement weather day.  Most all of my co-workers stayed home and to be honest, I worked remotely after the first day.  The first day that I started feeling bad was on a Tuesday and the young professionals were all coming over.  I had to go upstairs and lock myself in a bedroom/bathroom. Thank goodness for upstairs.  By the next day, I only got out of bed to get more to drink or to go to the bathroom.  I felt like all the life had been sucked right out of me!  Have you ever felt that way??  By the next day, I could sit up for short periods of time but still spent a large portion of the day in bed.  By Friday, I had to escape.  I did some work remotely and then drove to the office to print it.  I lasted about an hour.  The next day, the minute my eyes opened, I thought, "Oh my goodness.  I feel so much better!"  I was even able to come to the church and participate for a few hours in Discovery weekend -- over 500 kids!  God is amazing.  

You can see the tiny amount of snow we received.

On another entirely different note, Katie - one of our favorite young professionals (we love them all) - decided that it was time for her to move up into the 30 something group.  Oh my goodness - we miss her so much.  She gave us this wooden sign -- "What I love most about my home is who I share it with."  Yep - that should be our motto.  We love sharing our home with others.

I've also really enjoyed my centerpiece box that Brian made for me for Christmas.  This was how it looked in the winter (after Christmas).  I was so thankful that I picked up those giant pine cones.  The very next day is when they cleared the lot next door for the house - NO MORE TREES!!  Sad.  I changed the box out last night.  I put little plants between each of the candles with moss.  I'll have to take a pic and post it!

Let's see if I can change topics another time.  My friend, Jeanne, has a business baking brownies.  Her brownies are like none I have ever eaten in my life.  She gave a half dozen peanut butter ones to me at Valentine's.  They are so good.  If you live in the Birmingham area and are on facebook, you can contact her here.  You won't regret it.  I'm hosting a baby shower in another month and I've already ordered three dozen from her.

We have a fun weekend planned.  We are going to DoDiYos tonight with three other couples.  We've raised our children together and we usually have lunch bunch - just the four moms.  We try to meet several times a year. We are including the husbands tonight!  Tomorrow night, we are hosting supper club at our house.  I'm going to cook a beef tenderloin so it should be yummy (that is why I was reworking the centerpiece last night!!).  We have church and Sunday School on Sunday and I'll buy groceries and do some cooking toward Tuesday night . . .gonna be a good weekend!  Do you have any fun plans??

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Hold on tight!

Every year, we (church staff) plan a "give away" for Lent.  We want folks to have something tangible - something to help each person focus on Christ and their relationship with him.  Two years ago, we made these great prayer beads.  You can read all about it here if you are interested.  Last year, we gave each family a votive candle (purple, of course!!) to use with their Lenten bookmark.  The candles were just "so so" - we had lots of left overs!!  

So this year, we wanted to have something that folks would find meaningful.  We have a tiny budget for this project and to purchase something already made . . . .well, you have to get something pretty inexpensive.  Eleanor, another staff member, and I were perusing catalogs and pinterest looking for ideas.  I  loved the idea of a wooden comfort cross . . .but they were about $15 -- EACH.  We searched for directions and found some on a blog - for the life of me, I can't find that blog.  It was written by a mom!  We took those directions and tweaked them and came up with a plan.  I ordered pounds and pounds of clay - we used Sculpey clay that has to be baked.  The cheapest clays were white and terra cotta because we could buy it in 25 pound boxes.  Using those two colors of clay made our average cost just under 50 cents per cross!!  SCORE!  I found 2 ounce blocks of colored clay at several stores (Michael's, Hobby Lobby, etc.).  The cheapest place was . . . are you ready?  Do you want to guess?????  The cheapest place to purchase the 2 ounces blocks of colored clay . . . .WALMART!  Not all Walmart stores carried the clay but the one that was closest to my house did!  Yay!

One Thursday, I sent out an email to all of the females in our Sunday School class.  I said that I would provide a snack supper and wine if folks would come and help make kits.  Kits were simply two ounces of clay sealed into a baggie.  About 7 of us gathered that night and I got to know some folks a little better!  Small groups are a good way to chat - - especially if everyone is working together!!  Have you ever noticed how that works?  Amazing!

We then staged the boxes of baggies of clay in my office and folks volunteered to help make and bake the crosses.  Some were better than others!  All were beautiful.  Just like God's children.  Some of you are prettier on the outside . . .some are prettier on the inside  . . .and we are all beautiful!  Our United Methodist Women made some.  Wonderful individuals made some.  We worked together!

I made a lot of the crosses with colors.  It was easier to give directions for the terra cotta or the terra cotta and white crosses.  I also just LOVE a good project!  Mark said he was going to be so happy when this project was over . . .and I frowned!

Everyone on our staff has participated in the Strengths Finder (it is great!  Take the test!!)  One of my strengths is activator (I also have positivity and Woo - are you surprised -- at the moment, I can't think of my other two strengths!! . . .maybe communicator .  ..hmmmmm)

The point is that as an activator, I can COME UP with an idea!  I need a maximizer on my team!  It just so happens that Brian (my new boss!) is a maximizer.  Just as an aside comment, he said that it sure would be nice if we had some sort of little bag to make handing out the crosses easier at the Ash Wednesday service.  Thank you for that idea, Rev. Maximizer!!  I went online to trust and ordered one million (almost!) clear plastic bags.  We filled huge baskets with the bags filled with a cross and a bookmark.

This was a great project for many hands . . .and these crosses were made with the love of Christ . . they were prayed over by many people . . .and now they are in the hands of church members and friends and family members of church members.

The crosses were gently squeezed before baking so that they "fit" into a person's hand.  Hold on tight to God's word . . .hold on tight!

Want directions?  Measure two ounces of clay (all one color or a mixture of colors).  Work the clay with your hands until it becomes smooth and pliable (just fyi - if you make a lot of crosses, odds are your hand will hurt at some point).  (p.s. - clay stains your hands but baby wipes will remove stains!!)
Roll the clay into a smooth ball.  Roll the clay into a snake - 6 - 8 inches.  Using a knife, cut off one third of the snake.  Cut that 1/3 into two pieces.  Put one piece on either side of the cross (about 1/3 of the way down the cross).  Gently adhere . . and smush (is that a word?) - you need to make sure that the arms of the cross are attached but you want it to look smooth and finished.  Lay the cross in your hand and gently squeeze.  You want some finger indentions!!  While the cross is in your hand, gently shape the ends so that everything part looks finished!  Bake in a 275 (preheated) oven in a glass dish for 18 minutes.  Allow to cool completely (I mean completely - don't get excited and try to pick it up!!!) and remove from pan.  If you need better directions, send me a message.  I can even send some pictures of the process.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wednesday Hodge Podge

first of all, I think I want to be friends with the author of this blog "from this side of the pond" (that sounds rather stalkerish and I don't mean for it to do so!!  )  There are several bloggers that I think -- we should be friends!!  I guess that is why I follow them!!!  Y'all go visit and read the post about her daughter's wedding - I think post number one is really good!
so here are her questions for this week:

1. Did you watch The Oscars? How many of the Best Picture nominees have you seen? (American Sniper, Birdman, Boyhood, Selma, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything, and Whiplash)

Do you think actors should use their acceptance speeches as an opportunity to promote their political and/or social agenda? Does that sort of speech make you more or less inclined to change the channel?
I did not watch The Oscars.  We weren’t home and it is not something that we would normally record.  We watched The Grand Budapest Hotel just last week!!  I personally like movies and enjoy going to the movies – Mark not so much.  We’ve only seen a handful of movies together in 30 years of marriage.
It seems like everybody uses EVERY platform lately to promote their political and social agendas.  If I’m watching a show for entertainment purposes, I don’t really want to hear all about someone’s political agenda.

2.Speaking of the movies...are you comfortable going to a movie alone? How about dinner in a restaurant (not fast food, but an actual restaurant)? The second half of this question was posed by Carrie who blogs over at It's Not Easy Being Queen. Thanks Carrie!

I’ve been to a couple of movies alone.  It didn’t bother me but it bothered my children (can’t remember how old they were – high school maybe?) a lot!!!  I wanted to see The Apostle (had to look it up – 1997 – my kids were 11 years old!!) and Mark didn’t want to go so I remember going by myself.  I need to do that more often – especially in hunting season!!  My problem is that I have so little free time.  If I have an hour, I’m more likely to go get a pedicure!!  I’ve also been to several restaurants alone (when your husband hunts on the weekends, you learn to adapt!).  I’ve also traveled for my different jobs over the years and have had to eat some meals in restaurants alone.  I would rather go to the movies alone.  If I go to a restaurant, I usually take a book or magazine!  I always feel like people are looking at me with pity – awww poor lady – she has to eat alone!

3.What's the last home repair or home improvement project you had to pay someone to complete? In hindsight was this a project you could have done yourself?

We have a brand new house so we haven’t had to have many things done yet.  We did have tile/stone put down on our screened in porch and we paid someone to do that job.  I’m sure we COULD have completed the project ourselves – we are both pretty smart people and we are pretty handy . . .but at this stage of the game, sometimes it is so much easier to pay someone.  Yes, I know we would have had a sense of accomplishment . . . if we didn’t kill each other first – hahahaha!

4. Have you ever had Indian food? Like it or no? If you're a fan, what's your favorite dish? Have you ever prepared this yourself at home? Is there an Indian restaurant in your current hometown?

I have never eaten in an Indian restaurant.  I don’t think I have ever eaten Indian food.  My husband LOVES Indian food and eats so often at a local restaurant that when he sees the man out in public, the owner REMEMBERS Mark!!  I know that many people think we are slow or “backwards” in the south, but in Birmingham – we have some great restaurants!! 

5. A song that reminds you of your parents?
How Great Thou Art reminds me of my momma.  I can remember sitting in my daddy’s lap and he would sing, “Get along home Cindy Cindy”!!  He also listened to some record about coal and the company store – just googled it – Sixteen Tons by Tennessee Ernie Ford!  We had this giant stereo/tv combo in a big piece of furniture!  Both of my parents have been dead for longer than I knew either of them so I have to think hard!!

6. The 26th of February is National Tell a Fairy Tale Day. What's your favorite, or one of your favorite, fairy tales? Do you have any childhood memories associated with a particular fairy tale?  I don’t remember reading fairytales much as a child.  Surely we did???  I remember hearing Little Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel and Hansel and Gretel.   The three little pigs – were they a fairy tale??  (I should google that!)  I’m not sure that I read any of those to my children.  Seems like they frightened me so I decided to wait until they were older . . .and then it was too late.

7. What's a problem you solved yesterday?

let’s see – yesterday . . .I helped solve the problem of whether to close the office today for our non-snow event (I gave my opinion – that counts, right??).  I’m glad I’m not the main decision maker.  I’m sure I helped solve other problems but Tuesdays are so crazy – we thought we were going to have icy roads yesterday so I was a little late to work and then we had staff meeting and then I came home and cooked for our young adults and facilitated the study.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I am so very disappointed that it didn’t snow.  I wanted to make a snowman in our new yard or in the park across the street.  I actually wanted to walk around in the snow.  It has rained all day.  It did rain ice pellets (hail, perhaps?) at one point and there is some ice on the tree branches but that is it.  We didn’t have to go into the office today.  Almost everything shut down.  I enjoyed working from home in my yoga pants and house slippers!!  We don’t get a lot of snow in Alabama and we had a big snow event last year.  The cities north of Birmingham got a big snow today – it JUST missed us.  I’ve looked out the window and at the weather forecast more times today  - so many times that it just seems ridiculous.