Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. ~Philippians 4:8~

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Apron

Christmas has come and passed, but I am happy to say it is still in my heart. I feel that warm glow which fills life during the Holidays. There is joy in giving, o heart of mine! And when your gifts are handmade, it feels awesome!

This is one of the projects I worked on just a day or two before Christmas. It was finished on Christmas Eve, using a free pattern I found on this magazine.

I think this is a better view of the apron:

And here's the finished product. It came together quickly, which is always good. Most importantly, it was a lot of fun to make! I was told by the recipient that she really liked it.

In making this apron, I am most grateful that I found this tutorial in Anna's blog. If you scroll down to number 4, which is the part where she shares how to make the waistband, it shows such a simple method for giving a nice finishing touch to apron strings. I found that I can also use this method for any type of straps, and eliminates the need for difficult 'turning' of the fabric. I used the technique when I had to make the ties for my Grandson's high chair pads. It came in so handy! I saved it under favorites and I refer to it often.
I've been keeping myself busy making vintage looking tags using rubber stamps. It's fun, but I know there are better ways to make them. I do plan to make some more aprons, so I have enough to keep me occupied for a while. Until next time, may joy continue to abide in our lives.

Monday, December 22, 2008

100th Post!

Well, my birthday has come and gone, and I still feel as though I'm 25 years old! I only wish I looked 25 I don't mind looking a little older...it's part of life. For anyone wondering how old I am, I should probably respond as my Father in law does: I'm almost 29! Seriously, though, I'm just past the half century mark...51! Where has the time gone? Funny how we are not conscious of the passage of time or of aging. Only when I look in the mirror do I see too many to count a few creases here and there. What else are they called? Character lines! Oh yes, I have quite a bit of character. Well, I'm still not too old to learn a new thing now and then. Thanks to Carrie of Dixie Mango I learned a new little technique which I have executed on this very post: scratching out words.....how cool is that! I always wondered how that's done. You now, it's funny but in blogland there are countless people who will go the extra mile to help you when you have a question or want to learn something. And then there are those people I call little Scrooges who don't really like to share their knowledge. I've met a couple of those on this here virtual dimension. So when I encounter someone like Carrie, I like to give a shout out and a heads up. She is one nice lady!

Oh, yes! And I have managed to arrive at 100 posts on this very day. It only took me from September 2007 to today to accomplish that. Another one for the record book (my personal record book that is). I do hope there'll be many more to come.

Well, we're all just three days away from Christmas. I don't know if I'll post again before then, although I would like to. But just in case, I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Menudo Time!

Cold weather is always a catalyst for hot comfort food in Mexican culture. Around here, a big pot of a soup or broth is just the thing to take comfort in and to warm up the whole kitchen! When the latest cold front blew in, it became apparent that it was Menudo time! No, not that 70's teen rock group of which Ricky Martin was a member. I'm talking about a rich stew made with beef tripe, hominy, and a mixture of dried ancho poblano and cascabel chilies as well as herbs and spices. To make, all you need are some dried chilies which you deseed and devein, soften with hot water, and drop in the blender with garlic and cumin. Season this to taste and add to the pot once the menudo tripe is thoroughly cooked. Some oregano and a little thyme and marjoram will really make it sing. Last, add plenty of hominy and bring to a boil. Cook until the flavors are well infused. Some people will simply use packets of store bought menudo spice, usually in the form of powder. It's a little shortcut, and the menudo will still taste very good, although maybe a little gritty. In fact, I do like to add a little packet just to enhance the flavor. But in my opinion, the richness of the fresh chilie pods is worth the little extra effort to prepare. Once served, it'll bring a sweat to your brow if you're not used to hot spicy flavors. You need nothing else when menudo is on the menu. Maybe a few (corn for me, and flour for my sweetie) tortillas and a good serving of diced onion, cilantro, and some lime wedgies. Some people like to add Frito corn chips to their bowls. If it's a small crowd you're feeding, you'll undoubtedly have some leftovers. Menudo can be scooped into some freezer bags and kept in the freezer until the next time you get a hankering for the spicy concoction. A word of caution: tripe releases alot of fat. During cooking, it's a good thing to scoop out as much of it as possible. At the end of cooking time, I use a fat separator container which you can purchase at kitchen supply stores. The best way to remove it is once it's cooled in the refrigerator where any amount of fat will solidify and can be easily removed. In the pictures I posted, you can still see some of the fat, which makes for a messy stove also. With some elbow grease (gasp!) and a little 409 spray, all traces are removed from any greasy surface.

Once all the chilies and hominy are added, the pot gets full to the brim.

A spicy spoonful!




Some of the chilie fixings. Note the different colors of the chilies.


The pot before the spices are added.


Deseeded cascabel chilie pods. Some of the seeds will be saved for the garden. This is a very hot chilie pod.


Chile Ancho, or dried Poblano pods. A very mild pepper with such a rich, dark flavor, almost like smoky chocolate.
These seeds will also be saved for the spring garden. They seem to grow well in our climate.
Rumor has it that menudo is good for hangovers. Which might explain why you see party revelers during many an early morning enjoying steaming bowls of menudo at restaurants. One thing's certain, if your sinuses are stopped up, this spicy stew will clear them like nothing can!


Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Show and Tell

Once again, I'm happy to join in a 'Friday Show and Tell' segment hosted by Kelli of There's No Place Like Home. It's all in good fun, so anyone can join in by visiting her site for all the details.

I'm rather late getting started on setting up our Christmas tree. I still have a few finishing touches to add, especially around the fireplace. But very few if at all. I decided to keep it simple, so less is more in my case at least.

The tree:
Can you spot the ornament I received from the Holiday Traditions exchange? It's the cute colorful bird hanging from red ribbon.

Our fireplace mantel. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care.
Gloria and Amy, can you see the cards you sent me? I love to send cards out. But I really like receiving them so I can show them off. Aren't they beautiful?!



I still have to decorate the kitchen, so I have more work to do. I know, I know, I'm late with that too. Just wanted to share a bit of my Christmas decor. It's getting close and closer to Christmas! I'll be ready!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Nada Post

I think I'll adopt my friend Gloria's term for those days when not much is happening, but you want to post a few little 'nothings'. Nada much is going on in this neck of the woods. I did make a little shopping trip to a scrapbook store which is going out of business. I missed yesterday's promotion for 80% off everything, but today was 75% off. I made off like a bandit, I tell you. I am not even into scrapbooks, mind you. So I didn't spend much, thankfully, and the savings really helped keep us within our budget. I only purchased a few ink pads and such, but I might make another trip tomorrow for a circle cutter, if it's still there.

And on and on I go about the savings and about this being a 'nothing' post. Obviously this is a big deal to the owner of said business. So yes, I do feel for her. She mentioned that apparently it's a common thing happening to other small scrapbook businesses. Owning a small business is hard even in good times, but when you factor in a bad economy, it's more likely to be one of the first casualties. It has become a common occurence. It's just hard to see it happening so close to home. Hopefully, things will begin to get better for everyone. We can only hope.

After reading an ad in the paper, I also ventured out to purchase some Home Interior candles at a woman's home. Apparently, they had been produced right here in our little town, but the factory closed down. So they allowed employees to purchase the candles at bargain prices, which they in turn can then sell. I vaguely remember there was a candle factory in town some time back, I just didn't know they produced for Home Interior. I wonder if they also produced for Yankee Candle. I love having the wonderful scent in my home! And of course, they also make nice gifts. But then again, it makes you think. This is another business shutting down, more people losing their jobs. So close to home. When will it ever stop?

Monday, December 15, 2008

A New Week


Here we are starting a new week- and it's getting closer and closer to Christmas. We awoke to a misty cold day, which to us is great! We get so much hot weather, that this is a wonderful break from the norm. Plus it helps with the "Christmas" mood. It also lends itself to having something hot and nutritious. I made this soup using Anna's recipe, but instead of Swiss chard, I used kale and also added mushrooms. It really hits the spot when it's cold outside and you really, really, don't want to turn on the heater. I so enjoy just wearing comfy socks and an extra layering of clothes. I believe this is a time for economizing, and every little thing we can do towards that end is a good thing. Feeling a little cold won't hurt me, certainly won't kill me, so why not try and save a little money on the fuel bill?
Cold weather to me is also a good time for watching a good movie. After finishing my post, I think I'll pop this in the player. The 1995 version of "Pride and Prejudice" is my favorite movie, which is sold as a set of 3 discs. That and a good cuppa Earl Grey Cream will really put me in a British tea sipping and jolly good mood!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Show 'n Tell

Edited to add: I want to make sure I give credit to Kelli who is the charming host of the weekly Friday Show and Tell. If you would like to join in on the fun, or would enjoy reading other blogs which are also sharing in the fun, please visit her blog for a list of wonderful sites!

Being that this is Friday, I thought I'd join in on the fun of sharing pictures of some of my things. I'm not exactly clear how it works, but I assume you share pictures of little treasures such as antiques or collectibles. I don't really have any sets of things, but when I visited Wisecraft and read her coffee post almost a year ago, I knew I had to have those cups! Perhaps it's just me, but doesn't the cup just make the coffee look so good? Oh, yeah! I'm all for making my morning ritual just that much more enjoyable! So I started looking around for Russel Wright cups and saucers. Slowly over time, I accumulated a little set. Aren't they just the cutest little things? In the blog coffee post, they look regular size. Well, when mine arrived, I realized they're actually quite small. Not demi size, but smaller than I expected. Although you can also find the demi sized sets. I love the roundness and curves. I also ordered the battery operated milk frother wand. It's set to arrive any day now. Without futher ado, here's my little show 'n tell:


Mine are grey, which I really like, but there are quite a lot of colors available in this line of dishes. Trivia-wise, they were made from the 1930's to the 1950's. Russel Wright was then much like Martha Stewart is today. His line of creations covered a broad range of household items, even furniture!

And now, for my favorite little 'thang'....This is a 1948 Franklin Rotary sewing machine with a knee lift, and it includes the sewing cabinet. I like
its rustic and weathered look, so I wouldn't change a thing about it. Well, maybe clean it up a bit more.


I found it at a yard sale as we were driving by. I yelled to my sweetie 'Stop!' as soon as I saw it. Now, it's not my dream machine, but it's close enough. My dream machine would be a manual 'treadle' machine. I LOVE those machines. Anyway, back to this one.....it supposedly works, though I still haven't tried it, and the little light fixture is loose but we couldn't figure out how to attach it. The price of the machine? $25! That's a good deal for a bit of history I think.
This wraps up today's post. Thank you and God bless!


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Family News

Today we found out that we're having another Grandson! My Son called after my DIL had her sonogram. Elias will soon have a little Brother, someone he can grow up with and play with. We are utterly and completely happy with the news! Either way, we would have been happy, of course. Yet somehow in knowing the gender you are better able to grasp that this little person is a future man. A man of the future! That future which seems so far away and blurry, and of which we may or may not be a part ourselves. The common cliche would say that you live on even after you've died when you have children. Really, though, even if they are not your own flesh and blood, as in the case of adoptive parents, you live on because you leave your 'stamp' on them. You raise them, nurture them, teach them, and like little chicks, they do get 'imprinted' by their caretakers. I've also often heard the remark that people end up becoming their Mom or Dad. By and large, I would have to agree. When I was young, I just knew I would be totally different from my Mom. And yet, sometimes I hear myself talking, and it's deja vu. I can almost hear her all over again. Amazing!
To me it's funny how there are 'things' in life which will make you think and just reflect on the deeper unknowns. Things such as a birth, or a wedding, or a funeral. It's all those little inescapables we face during our journey. The first two are great, the third....to the natural eye, not so great.
So, in conclusion of this rambling post, I'd say I'm elated that we're getting another little dividend. Un retonito.....a little sprout from the main branch. I just think God's creation is awesome and so full of promise and possiblity! Thank you, Lord!

Jeremiah 1: 4,5
Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,
Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee....

Monday, December 8, 2008

On Gifts

I found this video while surfing. Made me stop and think.



I love this time of year!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

From 1997



I was adding music to my playlist and came upon this song. The first time I heard it, the big news of the day was the passing on of Princess Diana. For that reason, each time I hear it, I think of her. She truly was a Princess of her people even on a global scale, in my opinion. I greatly admired her, and to me, her death was a great loss. Funny how someone you don't know can touch your life or your heart. I know this is not a very cheerful post. Most people consider the thought or discussion of death as a very morose and somber subject. I too used to be afraid of the thought of death or dying. Cemeteries and the monuments within were a somewhat frightful sight. Yet, when I came to ask the Lord Jesus into my heart and into my life, that changed. You develop, or rather perhaps 'acquire' a new understanding of 'it'. And most importantly, while yes you want to live a long and healthy life, that is no longer the ultimate goal. So that then your mantra becomes more like "I'm not from here, I'm just passing through" (which is a line from one of the hymns we would sing in church) And you have a realization that beyond that moment we all dread, the sting of death, is everything we lived a lifetime longing for. There is a requirement though...... the fine print if you will. There must needs be a transformation....a new birth. I call it the best decision I ever made. So while salvation from certain and eternal death is a free gift, you have to make the conscious decision that you want it. And when you want something, you find out what you need to get it. In the case of salvation, it's simple. Acknowledge that you have sinned before God and repent. Then accept his Son Jesus Christ as your Savior from that final judgement of death. You ask him into your heart to be the ruler of your life. Once you do that, there will be a celebration in heaven (Luke 15:7) He creates the transformation in you. Slowly, over time, you are refined like fine silver or gold. It doesn't happen overnight. It might take a lifetime, but you will show the fruits of this change. Just don't go looking at man for perfection, even those who are called Christians. We are all still flesh, and when you read the Bible, you will understand that our whole lives we have to do battle with the impulses of our flesh and with 'principalities' whose main goal is to try and make us fall. Only Christ is perfect. So keep your eyes on him and him only. And hold on tight to his hand...very tight!

If you are agnostic, it will be very difficult to believe. And you see, the problem with that is that in order to 'enter the kingdom of God' you must believe even as a small child. For some, that is just too much to ask for. So no, not everyone will be saved. Even as in the days of Noah, while he was building the ark. He was called a fool and worse things, and many perished because they just could not believe.

Like the song in the video says, we all hope to someday see our loved ones who have gone before us. I really like this video, it's about a common human experience. Loss and death. And it makes you stop and think. But thankfully, when you have hope and salvation, it's not the end.


Saturday, December 6, 2008

I'm Walking

I think I'm serious about this. Walking that is. The day won't feel right until I do. Just got back, cause I do my walking when it's dark you know, so passing cars won't see my face red and flushed. I am loving this! Oh, how I dream of the day when I can join other walkers ambling along effortlessly through the whole neighborhood! Why did I wait so long to get started?
Lord, please help me stay focused and sincere with this.

Friday, December 5, 2008

For Gloria

Because you said you enjoyed the song, I thought you'd enjoy watching the video, Gloria. This is the one I prefer of the two:




There's also this one, same song:




She also sings The Phantom of the Opera with Antonio Banderas which is also on my playlist. There's also a video for it.

Labor

Well, I decided I had better write a post, since I've been away from the keyboard for a while now. I do pop in to check my bloggie mates' blogs from time to time, though.

Today was tree trimming time for us. We usually wait until January to do it, but since the day was bright and sunny, and even with a crisp chill in the air, perfect for such a task. We have lots of trees on the property, so while the husband did tackle most of the trees, there will still be a few more to take care of later, when all the leaves have fallen off. With the overgrown look done away with, the yard looks airier. The better to water my plants.

Today was also the second day I embark on walking. Simply walking. I'm not going for grand scale changes in lifestyle of epic proportion. I'm just going to take baby steps. I may or may not continue, time will tell. But I don't intend to act based on 'proving' myself to anyone, not even myself. It's just that for the past few nights, I wake up gasping for breath. So, if I want to live, I'd better get moving. I've never felt compelled to change diet or increase exercise because all my vitals and stats from tests have come back 'normal'. Even my cholesterol level has never gone above the borderline mark. I do try to eat as little fried, greasy foods as possible. And at my beloved's insistence, I stopped drinking sugary carbonated drinks. I felt secure in thinking that I was one of those lucky people who didn't suffer from all those health issues so common in my racial/cultural demographics: diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, heart disease, and even certain types of cancer. Well, scratch asthma off. I do suffer from chronic bronchitis during allergy season. But now, just days away from my 51st birthday, I realize I really may not be around as long as I'd hoped. I guess I finally saw the light. I'm thinking I'd better contribute my fair share of 'effort' at staying healthy or else.

Before, I actually had an excuse for not walking. Umm....I'll start walking when I find the Nike shocks I've been wanting. You know, the ones I've got are just so uncomfortable. I'm certain when I find the right ones, I'll take off like a lark running, he,he,he....Well, what do you know, I'd go shopping, and they never had them! But you know what? My sweetie found me a pair on Ebay, brand new, the right size and color and everything! So that explains why I've taken off like a lark walking no less. Sadly, just to illustrate how horribly out of shape I've been in, I could only handle one block! The return block I was panting and heaving the whole way back. It reminded me of childbirth labor. I guess this is somehow a little like labor and giving birth to a new way of living. And so today, I felt brave and walked two blocks, and while the return two blocks were difficult, I gained confidence. I know I can do this. Slowly, one block at a time. One baby step at a time.

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