Friday, October 31, 2008

Well, That Was a Dumb Idea

We are taking our kids skiing for the first time this winter. Actually my whole family is going and doing that together in place of getting each other Christmas gifts. We are all really excited about it. But the boys do have a few apprehensions...especially about Ski School.

Brian and I have explained that these nice people called "The Ski Patrol" will teach them how to ski. And that the Ski Patrol are the best skiiers on the mountain and they love to teach kids to ski, etc, etc. Then one night while I was channel surfing I actually found a show on TV called Ski Patrol. It is on TruTV and it follows the ski patrol at the Crystal Mountain resort in Washington.

I DVR'd the first two episodes and was planning to watch it with the kids and show them how great the ski patrol is and how fun skiing can be. But, I got bored one night and decided to watch it by myself.

Oh my goodness! There were people bleeding and breaking bones and falling off of chair lifts. A 15 year old boy stabbed his pole up through his neck and was going in and out of conciousness as they drug him down the mountain on their sled. It was awful! Thank goodness I hadn't sat down to watch it with the kids. (Not to mention the fact that when not on duty the Ski Patrol is really just a bunch of drunk college kids who pass their time daring each other to drink entire bottles of Ranch Dressing...without throwing up.)

Of course, being the reality TV addict that I am I still had to watch the second episode anyway. It was even worse! An avalanche buried the only road in or out of the ski resort (luckily with no people in their cars at the time) and a guy crushed several vertebrae in his neck when he landed badly after a jump. One of the ski patrol girls got caught in a small avalanche and her partner had to dig her out before she suffocated!

Brian came home in time to see the last half of the show with me. His response was, "Why are you watching this? You're never going to want to take the kids skiing now. You're not even going to want to go skiing now!"

My thoughts exactly.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Nerd Alert

My husband is commonly called a dork and a nerd.....and not just by me either.

It's an occupational hazard when you are a Physics and Chemistry teacher and a strategy game fanatic.

He does not find these titles offensive in the least and is somewhat proud of his dork status.

Even his co-workers and students have begun to sense his nerdiness. I give you the following examples:
Over the summer Brian got a new clock for his classroom. It's a special Chemistry clock. It doesn't have numbers on it. It only has elements from the periodic table on it. They are in the location on the clock that represents their atomic number. So O (for Oxygen) is in the #8 spot because it's atomic number is 8 and H (for Hydrogen) is in the #1 spot because it's atomic number is 1. See? I told you he was nerdy.

Anyway, he loves this clock and thinks it is so clever. His Chemistry students appreciate it too, but when he had to trade rooms with another teacher for a day her General Science students were extremely frustrated with not knowing what time it was. When they asked, "What's up with that clock?" Mrs. Doll's only possible explanation was, "You know Mr. Grove is a little bit of a nerd." When word got back to Brian and he jokingly confronted her she said, "I lied and said 'a little bit'." Point taken.

The kids that have had him for 2, or sometimes 3, classes in a row (like his AP Bio students) are completely used to his nerdish ways and have come to accept and respect them. In fact when Cainan went in and drew a stick figure like this one on the white board the other day, the students were appalled. They said, "Mr. Grove I can't believe you taught your son how to draw phospholipids."

Ok, he's not THAT nerdy. But I do see the resemblance.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Slicing Apples

If you're like me and frantically using apples before they go bad then you are also probably as tired as I am of peeling, coring and slicing. Of course the best way to do it quickly is to use an Apple Peeler, Corer, Slicer like this one from Pampered Chef.

But if you are poor like me and don't have one of these the next best thing to use is a melon baller. Once you've peeled the skin with your potato peeler all you have to do is cut the apple in half and then use your melon baller to scoop out the seeds and core on each side. You can then lay the apple half down on the cutting board and start slicing.

It worked great when I had to slice 10 apples for the Apple Bars I made this weekend. In fact, here is the recipe:

Autumn Apple Bars


1egg yolk (reserve egg white)
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
8 cups tart cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced to 1/4-inch thickness (about 8 to 10 medium)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
2-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 egg white

1 cup powdered sugar
1 or 2 tablespoons milk
½ teaspoon vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. For crust, add enough milk to egg yolk to measure 2/3 cup; set aside. Combine flour and salt in medium bowl. Cut in butter until crumbly using pastry blender or two knives. With fork, stir in milk mixture until dough forms ball; divide into 2 halves. Roll out half to 15X10-inch rectangle on lightly floured surface. Place on bottom of ungreased 15X10X1-inch jelly-roll pan.

2. For filling, sprinkle graham cracker crumbs over top of dough; layer apple slices over crumbs. Combine 1 cup granulated sugar, 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon and nutmeg in small bowl; sprinkle over apples.

3. Roll out remaining dough into 15X10-1/2-inch rectangle; place over apples. With fork, beat egg white in small bowl until foamy; brush over top crust. Stir together remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon in another small bowl; sprinkle over crust. Bake 45 to 60 minutes or until lightly browned.

4. For drizzle, stir together all ingredients in small bowl. Drizzle over top; cut into bars.

For more great tips go to Rocks In My Dryer.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How To Finish 23 Scrapbook Pages in One Day

Step One: Retreat. Retreat. Retreat.
Sign up for a 24 hour scrapbook retreat.

Step Two: Categorize. Clean. Compile
Who could be creative in a space like this? Who could find anything in a space like this? Your scrapbooking area at home may be in desparate need of organization before you can even get ready for the retreat.

Doesn't it look better now?

Step Three: Peruse, Plan, Prepare
Now that you can find your numerous supplies it is time to start planning your pages. Search those magazines for spreads you'd like to imitate (or downright copy totally) and mark them so you can find them easily when you are ready to start.

Take a break to make yet another apple dessert. (Recipe coming tomorrow.)

Step Four: Find, Fiddle, Finish

Yes, now is the time to finish the journaling on the pages that you did last year at the retreat and never took time to complete once you got home. This way you won't be more than one year behind. :)

Step Five: Just One Word.......ARCHIVERS

Step Six: Push, Pull, Pack
Somehow stuff all of your materials (and yourself) into your husband's rather small truck.

Step Seven: Crop. Crop, Crop......'Til You Drop

Warning.....this may require you to sleep for only 3 hours.

Step Eight: Create, Compose, Configure
Come up with 23 cute pages for your ever expanding scrapbooks.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Manic Monday

Friday, October 24, 2008

Confessions of a Vain Woman

Ever since I turned 33 I have noticed that I have wrinkles.

Three BIG wrinkles.

Right across my forehead.

And I picked this decade not to have any bangs.

No matter how I try to relax my eyebrows or scrunch my nose they will not go away. (Trust me, I've practiced in front of the mirror....a lot.)

They're deep.

At first I blamed it on this new make-up I am using. (It was one of the freebie deals at CVS so I couldn't pass it up....but I think my old make-up was filling in the wrinkles somehow and now this kind doesn't.) But I'm beginning to think that nothing is going to help and they are there to stay.

Did I mention they're deep.

They've been bothering me, (can you tell?) but it wasn't a super big deal until a few weeks ago when Kinley and I were in Wal-Mart. Wherever we go people come up to us and talk to Kinley and tell her how cute she is...especially old people. So two older ladies came up to us and were lamenting to Kinley about the fact that I wouldn't let her have the candy that she wanted off of the shelf.

Then the old bitty sweet elderly lady said, "What's the matter, honey? Grandma won't let you have a treat?"

That kind of pushed me over the edge.

Anyway....I was complaining about them to one of my older and more wrinkly friends and he said that all wrinkles have names. You know, named after the people who gave them to you? Which I guess would technically make mine named Tim (my dad), Kathy (my mom) and God (my creator). But I think he was referring to the people who worried you enough to cause you to furrow your brow too often.

In that case I'm scared.

Because I've got one for Ryker, Cainan and Kinley but someone's missing. I'm sure Brian's will be here anyday.

I'm on the lookout....with my eyebrowns down, of course.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Weekend in Pictures

October 9-13
More roses from the bushes in the front yard.Lots of family here to visit. (This is only a small sampling.)
My latest Potter Hollow creation back from the kiln.
A trip to the zoo where the 5 baby tigers were being very playful...
and where we got to ride on the train, thanks to Grandpa.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Service Project

I'm always looking for ways to teach the kids about serving others. I didn't have to look far when I stopped to drop off our recyclables at the dumpster last week.

The sign on the side of the dumpster says this....

And yet the people who took the time to rinse, sort and bag their hundreds of soda bottles, water bottles and milk jugs couldn't take the time to actually put them in the dumpster. There were five bags of plastics laying on the ground.

So I went home and got the whole gang to come help me get them all into their proper compartment in the dumpster.

Everybody joined in the fun and it took us no time at all to get the ground around the dumpster all cleaned up.

Despite being left with the burning desire to wash our hands 10 times in a row....I think we all felt good about helping the environment and our own local Mt. Dew addict...whoever he may be.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

More Apples

We got even more apples from my friend Thom and I'm having lots of fun finding ways to use them. I've made two apple pies, caramel apple cheesecake bars, an apple cake, an apple crisp and a crockpot full of pumpkin apple butter. I still want to make some apple dumplings and maybe an apple cheesecake. I might just try baking a couple whole too. I've never done that myself but I've had some that were great.

Anway, I thought I'd leave you with my Apple Cake recipe. It is delicious!

Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Glaze*

Mix together:

2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup oil
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
Then fold in:
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
4 cups diced apples
Spread in to a greased 9 X 13 pan. Batter will be very thick. Pat into pan. Bake at 350 for 50 minutes. Cool.

Brown Sugar Glaze
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 TBSP. flour
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. vanilla
1 TBSP. butter

Mix sugar, flour and water in saucepan. Cook until boiling, stirring constantly. Add vanilla and butter. Stir until butter is melted. Pour over cooled cake.

Variation: If you don't want to make the glaze you can just dump a bag of butterscotch chips on top of the cake before you bake it. When you pull it out of the oven just spread the melted chips and you've got butterscotch icing. Yum!

*If you were at MOPS on Friday this is what you ate. If you will be at Solid Rock Cafe on Wednesday night you can eat this too. :)
For more great kitchen tips go to Tammy's Recipes.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Manic Monday

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Persecuted Church Updated

There is a new update on Igor and Katerina and their ministry to Christians in Uzbekistan over at We Are THAT Family. Don't miss it. And don't forget to pray for them.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Exact Opposite of Cardboard Testimonies

OK, we can be serious and emotional and worshipful at our church


We also know how to have a good laugh evidenced by this video that we showed during our most recent sermon on marriage.

WARNING!! The tune is very catchy and you will find yourself singing it for the next 7 and a half hours. Also the hairstyles worn by the artists may cause you to have 80s flashbacks.

I give you..........The Don't Song


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Prayer Needed

I am teaching Sunday School for the next two weeks.

Adult Sunday School.

In a class where everyone is older than me by at least 10 years.

It is an honor to be asked but now I am STRESSED OUT about it.

Laundry Day

At Grandma and Grandpa's House.....

....Grandma used a wringer washer.

This is a picture of a wringer washer I saw in an antique show this summer. It looks almost exactly like the one my Grandma had.

If you aren't familiar with the device it was basically a washing machine drum with an agitator in the middle. You filled it up with a hose from a nearby spigot and then put in the soap and the clothes just like a normal washing machine. Then it would run for awhile and you would turn it off and drain it. You then had to take the clothes out of the washing machine and dunk them over and over again in a rinse tub (just a galvanized tub on legs). When that was done each article individually was run through the wringer.

Our job was to rinse the clothes in the rinse tub and then help Grandma hang them on the line. There was a very specific way that things had to be hung up so that they would dry nicely and we had to learn that before we could hang the clothes ourselves. Of course the wringer was the most interesting part of the whole process, and the part that intrigued us the most.

The wringer was attached to the top of the washing machine and it does exactly what it's name implies....wrings the water out of the clothes. The wringer is basically two rolling pins that spin. You slip a corner of the article of clothing between the rollers and it sucks it in the rest of the way and spits it out on the other side. Sometimes things had to be run through the wringer a couple of times to get all of the water out of them....and sometimes certain items were too thick (like denim overalls) to go through the wringer and had to be wrung by hand. Sometimes things would get wrapped up in the wringer and get stuck. Then Grandma would have to wrestle them around and try to get them out so she could continue on with her laundry.

We helped Grandma do laundry many many times. And everytime the task was punctuated with warnings to "stay away from the wringer." "Never touch the wringer." "The wringer could suck your fingers in and smash them." "Don't come any closer while I've got the wringer running."

Well apparently those warnings were well warranted because in reading through her diary from 1979 I found this entry on September 8th:

"Amy ran her hand through the washing machine wringer."

No further comments so I guess she recovered fully. At least I know she was back doing laundry again on the following Saturday so it must not have been too bad.

On this date in 1979:
Grandpa, Dad and Uncle Shannon were busy with the harvest. It rained a little and Dad finished his beans "away up in the night". Grandma babysat us all day and then my Aunt Amy (a teenager at the time) took us home at night and stayed with us until Mom and Dad got in from the field. Grandma studied for her Dosage and Solution test (which she ended up doing poorly on and had to retake. She got an A the second time. It's no wonder. How does anyone study while babysitting a 4 and 2 year old?) Grandpa cut beans for Mr. Buoy (a neighbor). Shannon worked on his combine.

I liked this entry so I wanted to record it too.
Sunday, October 21st, 1979: Warm and sunny. The wind blowing fiercly. Went to Sunday School. In the afternoon Susan and Wendy came. We dug out a bunch of clothes for Wendy. Bill, Amy, Crystal and I went for a walk and picked up persimmons in the pasture. Everything was beautiful.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Daily Devotions

I've never been very good at sticking to a daily devotional schedule. Despite the fact that I stay at home no two days are ever the same and it is hard to predict when I will have time to sit down for a devotion. I'm also just not very consistent in my studies and sometimes bore of the author and his/her subject matter before I'm finished with the book.

I've recently found something that works well though. Internet Cafe Devotions. It is a blog basically where different women everyday share a devotion. The voice and subject matter are different everytime you log on so there is no chance of getting bored. The writing is funny and insightful and offers some good scripture references to look up too. If you really enjoy a particular article there is a link to the author's personal blog so that you can read more of her stuff.

So check it out and find time for a devotion today. It works for me.

For more great Works For Me Wednesday ideas go to Rocks In My Dryer.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Apples, Apples, Everywhere

If you are looking for a way to use some of those delicious apples you've picked up at the orchard have I got a recipe for you! It is kind of a cross between a cheesecake and an apple pie with a crumb topping.

My friend Phyllis made this dish for a cooking contest. She let us try a sample and we all thought it was a sure fire winner....but the judges didn't agree. However, it is still one of the best apple desserts I've ever had.

It is a Paula Deen recipe so I found it on the Food Network site and made it for all of my guests this weekend. Everybody loved it! So here it is:

Monday, October 13, 2008

Manic Monday

We're off to the zoo on this Columbus Day holiday. So I thought this Demotivator was appropriate.

Have a great Monday!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Persecuted Church

Kristen at We Are THAT Family has written a new post on The Persecuted Church Next Door. I know several of you have been reading the story of her Russian friends so I wanted to make sure that you caught the latest installment.

Head over there and read the post and then look below for a copy of the comment I left on her blog. After you've done all of that reading, do some writing. Leave me a comment letting me know what you think.
My comment on Kristen's blog:

I've really enjoyed reading about your brush with the persecuted church and I admire your hospitality and open spirit. I also think it is great that you are trying to help them financially and with a home shower type of thingy....BUT....they already have the simplicity that you are seeking for your own family. They have no attachments to material possessions and can be content with the little that they have. Isn't that what the rest of us are looking for?

Why would we want to burden them down with all the trappings of the American life that we so desperately want to shed ourselves? They should of course have a comfortable home to live in but I think there is a fine line to be walked here. Nobody needs to be encouraged in materialism no matter how pure the reasons.

We should all probalby sell about 50 things out of our own homes and give them the money for their ministry instead of buying them things to fill up their own home.

Just my thoughts on the subject. Keep up the good blogging.
Kristen replied to me by e-mail after I left this post and reminded me that this couple lost everything they had and that the things they need are as simple as a trashcan and a winter coat.
Am I right or wrong in my views on giving to this needy couple?
How much is too much?
Would you rather have everything you have now or have close to nothing and a flourishing full time ministry for Christ?
Can you have both?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Cardboard Testimonies

Two weeks ago at church we did something called "Cardboard Testimonies". It was one of the most powerful services we have ever had. If you haven't seen it, and/or haven't done it at your church you really should.

The idea is that everyone has a cardboard testimony. On one side of your little homemade sign are listed your failures and fears. On the other side is listed your victory in Christ. For example, someone's sign might say, "Abused as a child" on the front. But when she turns it over it says, "God heals emotional wounds".

So we set about asking people (not an easy thing to do...touchy) in our church that we know struggled or suffered in a particular area to share their testimony by making a cardboard sign and walking across stage with it during the service. Not a single person we asked turned us down. Everyone was eager to share how God had changed their life. From alcoholics to sideline Christians to infertile couples they marched across our stage as our praise band played and sang, "Oh How He Loves Us".

I orginally saw the idea on YouTube and thought it was great. I cried my eyes out even though I didn't personally know any of the people involved. Apparently our pastor saw it live at the North American Christian Convention and had the same response. Anyway, it was a major success at our church and I would encourage anyone to try it.

Here is the YouTube video that started it all for us.

Blithe Spirit

OK, so here is the story on why I was "purple" in those cast photos of Blithe Spirit, the community theatre production that I just directed.

The play is about an author, Charles Condomine, who wants to write a mystery novel about a homicidal medium. In order to get background material for the story he invites a local crackpot medium over for a dinner party and a seance. He also invites his good friends the Bradmans to join in the fun.

Neither Charles, nor his wife Ruth (played by yours truly), nor the Bradmans believe in seances or fortune telling at all but they all agree to play along so that Charles can get the information he needs. During the seance Madame Arcati, the medium, does a lot of chanting and moaning and whirling around but nothing much happens.
Or does it? During the seance Charles begins to hear the voice of his deceased first wife, Elvira. (Poor thing was convalescing after a bout of pneumonia and suddenly began to laugh helplessly at one of the BBC musical programs and died of a heart attack.) No one else can hear her and they all think he is making a joke.
But she is no joke. Elvira, the blithe spirit, is back and creating mischief between Charles and Ruth. Of course no one but Charles can see or hear Elvira so Ruth believes he is totally insane. He finally convinces her that Elvira is truly there, in spirit, so to speak, by having Elvira carry a bowl of flowers across the room while Ruth watches. Ruth then sets out to get Madame Arcati back so that she can dematerialize Elvira as soon as possible.

The middle part of the play is all a series of fights between Charles and Ruth and Charles and Elvira. (I apparently don't have any pictures of that or of the beautiful dresses I wore during those scenes.) Ruth finally discovers that Elvira's plan is to kill Charles so they can be together forever on some "astral plane" and leave her high and dry. Unfortunately Ruth didn't quite unveil the plan quickly enough. Elvira had sabotaged the car and then planned to have Charles drive her to town, however, Ruth drove to town first and ended up being in the car crash planned for her husband.

(That's how I died...and I wasn't purple. For some reason the colors didn't come through but both of the ghosts, Elvira and Ruth, are completely, hair, clothes, shoes, etc.)

So now poor Charles is haunted by two ghosts who are constantly bickering and vying for his attention. He can't see Ruth but he knows that she is there following him around all the time. At his wits end he calls on Madame Arcati again. He wants to dematerialize both of them.
Unfortunately Madame Arcati is unable to accomplish much through the seance so she has to go in to a trance. The only thing her trance accomplishes however is to make Ruth visible to Charles and Elvira. After weeks of trying to live with two deceased wives Charles calls Madame Arcati back for a third time. Both Ruth and Elvira are sick of the whole situation as well and wish to be sent back to the other side a.s.a.p.

In the end it is discovered that Charles was not the psychic force that was calling to the women from beyond the grave as was originally supposed. It was actually the maid, Edith. Madame Arcati hypnotizes Edith and makes her set things right as the ghosts disappear. But are they really gone?

As Charles tidies up around the house he discovers (through a series of objects flying through the air and doors slamming etc.) that his wives have not left after all they are merely invisible again. The whole play ends with a special effects show in which the wives show their displeasure at Charles leaving them for good by smashing up the house.

It was really a fun show and we all enjoyed ourselves a lot. The food was great (It was a dinner theatre. Did I mention that?) and the attendance was good as well. We are looking forward to doing more shows in the future.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Manic Monday

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Thank You Sunday School

In the two year old Sunday School class at our church there really isn't a lesson. They sing a few songs but they don't sit and listen to a Bible story or color a picture of Moses or anything. Mostly they just play. But, Kinley has learned one valuable lesson at Sunday School.

The other day I told her that we needed to clean up her toys in the living room. She immediately jumped up and headed for the scattered toys. She was swinging her arms and happily singing, "Wee wup, wee wup..." It took me a few seconds to figure out what that meant, but I finally got it.

She was singing, "Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere. Clean up, clean up, everybody do your share." And she does it every time! If I ask her to clean up anything she starts singing and cleaning with no fuss at all. It is so cute. Well...most of the time.

The other day I was frustrated with cleaning the house all day only for it to be trashed again at night when the "boys" get home. Disgusted, I said, "This kitchen is a mess!" To which Kinley very matter of factly replied, "Wee wup, wee wup Mommy."

Still cute....but also annoying.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Kitchen Organization

Well it's Works for Me Wednesday at Rocks In My Dryer. Unfortunately this is a "themed" edition that is supposed to be about kitchen organization. I am not qualified to comment on the subject.

My idea of kitchen organization is to have enough cabinets that everything fits in to them and you can shut the doors and keep the counters clean. Voila! Your kitchen will look long as no one opens the cabinets.

But as I looked around my kitchen this morning trying to see if there was anything organized about it I did notice one small item. It was actually an idea I got from someone else's blog and it works really well.

Despite all of the many cabinets in my kitchen I still don't have room for the bulky bags of chips, pretzels, and bread that we keep around. (Obviously if my cabinets were organized I would...but oh well.) So I was piling all of that stuff on top of my fridge. #1 for easy access for me, #2 so my kids couldn't reach it. But it was making the top of my fridge look really jumbled and messy.

Then I read a blog (who knows which one?) and got a great organizing tip. I bought a large rectangular basket with tall sides and filled it will all of my chip bags. Then I slid it on top of the fridge and it just looks like a cute decorative basket. I bought one that was green striped and matches my kitchen so that it really looks like it belongs there. Now I just pull the basket down whenever the kids need a salty snack, and put it back when I'm done dishing out the pretzels.

It works for me.

For more WFMW tips head over to Rocks In My Dryer.