Monday, June 28, 2010

Carpe diem... and reading list #21

I made the pancakes with lavender, again, to be sure it wasn't a fluke. Nope. Still really, really yummy! I also made blueberry jam for the first time. Blueberries had been on special, so I thought, why not? As a rule, anytime I try a new recipe, the first time I prepare it exactly as stated. If I don't like it, then it's the recipe not me. After that I adapt at will. I stuck with the recipe for blueberry jam, but instead of filling eight to nine jars, I filled only seven, and then used two of my fancy cups for the rest. In one, I poured the blueberry jam, but in the other I stirred in a little lavender. The blueberry jam is yummy. The blueberry jam with lavender is out of this world!! Note to self, it takes about 56 oz or nine 6 oz packages of blueberry jam to make the required 6-1/2 cups of mashed blueberries.

As for books, I've been doing some catch up. Winning a Groom in 10 Dates was fun, as per Cara Colter's style. Then I finally decided to read Kay Stockham's "The Tulanes of Tennessee", a series of five books, with each of the siblings being featured. I love related books. It's always so much fun to see the characters from other books, like unexpected visits from dear friends. I also decided to take a page out of one of them, when her heroine decided to make it the "summer of Jenn." I can't afford a personal trainer, but I can take responsibility for my exercising and eating. We'll see how I do. I'm currently reading Diana Duncan's "Forever in a 24-hour Day" series, each featuring one of the four O'Rourke brothers. (I want one.) Conall O'Rourke helps Bailey Chambers face her dragon and tame it, and I realized I needed to face my own dragon. The dragon is fear and negative emotions; emotions that hold you back if you let them. But if you tame them, they morph into strength and passion. I want to tame and embrace my dragon.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Changes #2 Thank goodness it's Sunday #13

As to the swearing, I've discovered that I swear less when I'm feeling right with myself. BTW, pickles just doesn't cut it sometimes. It's annoying to realize that it's all in my mind set. I know this. An article from a church magazine pops into mind: "What is the most important word? Remember." I need to remember that this life is about me and the choices I make. My Savior's Atonement was for me because being human means I make mistakes. The Savior's sacrifice says I'm worth it.

My Branding Coach warned me that discovering my brand would shake my world. He wasn't kidding. I mean, he really wasn't kidding. I didn't buy any Dove chocolate this week to replace what I'd finished. I bought enough zucchini to have it every day. If I have a treat, I have to think about it because I have to prepare it, not pick at it mindlessly. My treat is usually hot cocoa and biscotti. Yummy! But I have to make it. So, I have to want it enough to go through the effort. I'm also trying new things. I make pancakes for breakfast. I tried the generic, and it's the same as the name brand. I made a little change, today. I added a little lavender. Yes, that's right, Lavender. I grow French Lavender in the backyard. I dry the blossoms. I've been using them to keep the bugs out of my room. Today, I took one of the dried blossoms and, after removing the stem, crushed it into the mix. It equaled about 1/8 teaspoon of lavender to 1 cup of pancake mix and 3/4 c water. Oh, my goodness!! It was delicious!! All I could think was Bed and Breakfast quality! I'll be doing that again, and much more conscientious about harvesting my lavender. Wow!!

~I'm grateful for change that scares me silly. Really.

~I'm grateful for air conditioning. Yes, I'll be expressing that deep gratitude all summer long. I really am grateful for it.

~I'm grateful for the new design I found for my blog. I think it fits better.

~I'm grateful for my branding coach, who has nudged me places I'm terrified to go, but need to do it anyway.

~I'm grateful for books!! I'll post the latest list, tomorrow, but will mention two that pertain to the branding struggles. Kay Stockham has a heroine who decides to make it the summer of her getting in shape to become the person she really wants to be. So, I'm endeavoring to create an exercise plan I can live with day in and day out. I'm changing the way I eat, with the intent that this is a permanent change. Sorry, that extreme stuff is not for me. I love hot cocoa and biscotti. That being said, I'm fighting to teach myself that I don't have to have lots of treats. I'm going to become a picky eater! Go me! And Diana Duncan had a heroine who was trying to slay her inner dragon, and realized that she needed to learn to tame it. When I became aware of that inner unrest, the one that could erupt into rage, I was taught it was the daemon. It didn't sound friendly or desirable. How do you love yourself if there's a part of yourself you hate? Thinking of that inner fire as a dragon reminds me of the inner beast that must be turned over to God, rather than a daemon that must be banished or destroyed. I've always been partial to dragons. I'm looking forward to taming mine.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Reality check...

Of late, as I've listened to and read the news, my thoughts have swirled. There has been a hue and cry over all the damage we are inflicting on our planet, the need for social justice regardless of free will, the rights of the many as opposed to the rights of the individual. Global warming has been disproved, but still its supports scream of the impending doom. I've sent emails to my Senators, praying for some common sense. I've given up on my Representative because I've come to realize that he truly believes in what he's doing. More and more bills are introduced to strip away the Constitution of the United States of America. And I find myself bewildered, wondering what happened?

There are those who seriously believe they can make everyone eat healthily, exercise properly. I wonder what they will do to me when I cannot eat the whole grains they demand be a part of everyone's diet. What of those with IBS? Celiac disease? Other food allergies? In chemotherapy, with doctors begging them to eat anything they can keep down? Are they going to magically end abuse? How many eating problems are traceable to things that are already against the law but still happen? What will happen to all of us who do not fit the new model being mapped out for a healthier nation? What kind of insanity is this?

And yes, I'm afraid. Afraid of where those in power are dragging us, regardless of whether or not we want to go. The old fear sinks deep. I know this fear intimately, far too intimately. They are taking away my right to say, No. Being a survivor, I swore I would never be put in that position again, and yet here I am. And yes, I'm angry. Really, bone-deep angry. Angry to once again be in a place where me saying NO means nothing, accomplishes nothing. I resent and abhor that sense of helplessness, powerlessness.

Blessedly, God knows when and how to send a reminder. I remember a quote I was given at the beginning of my mission and have never forgotten: God doesn't always come when you call, but when He does come, He's never late. One of the news articles I read today was from The Washington Post. As it turns out, the scientist have been watching the sun. It has followed the same pattern for the last 100 years that they've been able to observe. Until now. The expected sun spots didn't show. They're late. The scientist don't know why. The scientist don't know what it means. No one has any idea what so ever what this means to Earth, if anything. No one knows anything at all. They can throw out ideas and theories, but in truth they haven't a clue. Clueless. Totally and completely.

God knows.

I laughed, out loud.

Puny Man makes his clever plans, connives, covets, cheats, corrupts, crushes... for what? Power? Glory?

It doesn't matter. When all is said and done, God is in control. The only question left to ask is where do I stand? If I stand with God, then no matter what happens, I know God is with me. There is nothing greater. Will it be easy? Not on a bet. But it is a whole lot more peaceful, at least in my heart. And that's really all God cares about: The state of the human heart.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Reading List #20... and other stuff

I enjoyed The Overton Window by Glenn Beck. Many of the facts, I already knew. My first reaction when I first started reading was that our country is reflecting a highly dysfunctional family. The abusers (federal government) aren't even trying to hide that they are victimizing us (the People), trashing the Constitution left and right, hurting us, telling us it's the best for us and if we don't agree then we'll be in trouble because everything they do is for us, for our own good. They shout it and repeat it, over and over and over, as if repetition will somehow make all that's horribly wrong right. If we protest the "beatings", then we're the ones who are crazy, after all they only have our best interest in mind, while they grow wilder and more out of control, drunk on the power they wield. That was really unsettling. There were things that Mr. Beck I'm sure viewed as fictional, but growing up with a pedophile down the street, I knew it wasn't. In fact, he kept it quite tame. I appreciated that Mr. Beck never took us into the mind of the villain but revealed the evil as speeches or observations from characters with whom I felt reasonably safe. Thank you! There were twists and turns and, yes, I had to skip to the end, about half way through, to make sure it would end okay. Not what I expected, or more aptly, not my usual choice, but okay. What did I take away from the reading? First, I cannot read all the great books out there. I must pick and choose. My romance novels are a given, but they're also easy for me. History books are much more difficult for me to read, and that's alright. I take longer, in part, because the vocabulary is usually different from what I use every day, and being dyslexic means the familiar patterns aren't there. With no particular pattern, I find myself stopping to think about what I've read, little by little. So, I will allow myself to pick and choose my heavy reading and not worry that it takes me a long time to work through the pages. Second, I don't have much influence on a grand scale. In fact, it's probably zilch. That being said, simply because I cannot influence things on a grand scale does not mean I am allowed to slide. I've confessed before that I learned to lie, really, really, really well, so well that I didn't even realize I did it. I've been quite proud of myself that I've been learning not to do that. What I've come to realize is that simply learning not to lie is not enough. I must search my heart for what is true. I need to learn what values I hold important in my life. I've come to realize that there are values I'd like to have, but I don't really know what they mean. So, the Quest begins, to learn about values and principles and how to make them a part of myself, interwoven so tightly that they are an intricate part of who I am. My past is no longer an excuse. It has brought me to this point... It's time to turn a stumbling block into a stepping stone. If I were arrested for being what I am would I be able to explain it to anyone? Especially myself?

Flashpoint was the next in Stephanie Newton's Emerald Coast 911. I really enjoy her books and look forward to each one. This time she skillfully tackled bipolar disease and drug addiction. I love her hero/heroine, both spoke to my heart.

I've finished the main body of The Five Thousand Year Leap but have yet to read the appendices and extra material.

Odd bits: Baking soda only lasts about six months, which means baking powder only lasts about six months, seeing as baking powder is simply 1 part soda and 2 parts cream of tarter. Cream of tarter, according to kitchesavvy.com, if stored in a tight container in a dry, room temperature place, will last indefinitely. Good to know. I replace my baking soda regularly and make my own baking powder. Yahoo had an entire article about 40 ways baking soda could be used. I washed my hair brushes, put it in my cloth shoes, and even used it for washing my feet. Nice.

I'm endeavoring to use what I have in my freezers. Some things have been there longer than I'm willing to confess. I'm almost through all my Schwan's stuff. May I say, I am so glad I've placed an order that will be arriving soon! So many yummy things that I would never make for myself simply because some of the ingredients aren't ones I'd necessary be able to lay hands on, like the mushroom, pasta and chicken dish with truffles! Delish! Then there is my aversion to handling raw meat. I'm willing to take it out of the package and put it in the pan or microwave, but that's about it. Not quite sure how that fully evolved, considering the fact that I used to cut up the chicken we had for dinner, all through high school... I think maybe it started after my mission to Thailand... I was so grateful for a maid who bought the groceries and cooked the meals. I can still smell the meat section of the open market... Yep, that was probably it. Mystery solved.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Recipe request...

Buttermilk Syrup. My dad's sister shared this with him, and then he shared it with me, and I've adapted it to what works for me. I've no idea where it came from originally, I only know I LOVE it!

The recipe calls for a 3 qt sauce pan, but I know the one I use is larger. The stuff does bubble up, and I hate it boiling over.

I start by turning the pan on low heat because my buttermilk and butter are frozen.

1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup butter

Once thawed, add:

1-1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 Tablespoons corn syrup

I stir constantly.

Bring to a boil. Boil 7 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla.

1 teaspoon vanilla.

Pour over pancakes. Yummy!

As for the pancakes, I've tried making my own from scratch, Bisquick, and Krusteaz. I like the Krusteaz. Even better, it's a just add water mix. Whoohoo! Easy-smeasy.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Carpe diem... and reading list #19

Feeling a bit out of sorts, but not unusual. I still managed to make pancakes, do laundry, write a bit, catch up at some of the websites I visit regularly, and lots of reading. Prescription for Romance by Marie Ferrarella, Sabotage by Kit Wilkinson, A Place Called Home, No Place Like Home, and Home at Last by Margaret Watson, The Shy Bride by Lucy Monroe, The Family Plan by Susan Gable, and The Protector by Carla Capshaw. I thoroughly enjoyed each one, and started Firefighter Daddy by Lee McKenzie. Each writer is on my must buy list. I'll finish The 5,000 Year Leap, this week. Amazing. I'm trying to wrap my mind around some changes I need to make, which means I'm a bit scattered and very distracted. Another step forward, no matter how small, is still a step forward.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Thank Goodness It's Sunday #12

~Temperatures in the high 80s/low 90s, in the middle of JUNE!!! God is good.

~Unexpected phone calls from good friends, reminding me they still think of me and care about me. Now to decide: To go to ALEP, or not to go. That is the Question, and a difficult Question it is. There's the financial consideration, and whether or not I'll be able to arrange the time off. Love these kinds of problems. These are the fun ones.

~My new branding coach and team. Thank God for amazing people in my life.

~God bless our military men and women and their families. One of my nieces shared Lonestar's "Somebody's Someone" on Facebook. A good reminder. Freedom ain't free, and I pray I continue to learn to remember to not take it for granted as much as I have in the past. It is difficult to explain how it feels to have the freedom to choose...

~BOOKS! Always grateful for books that make me smile and lift my spirit. I'll post the newest book list, tomorrow. Had a delightful time at book club, this week.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Carpe diem... in spite of the heat...

So what did I do? Laundry! My Monday routine activity. Then I made buttermilk syrup and pancakes with nieces. Yummy!! Caught up on some reading. Picked a few apples. Stayed inside out of the heat as much as possible. I truly don't handle it well. Ended with popcorn and watching MacGyver, with the nieces! It was fun! Also did a little prep for the coming work week. And yes, I'm keeping up with reading twelves pages or more a day of The Five Thousand Year Leap. I'll re-read it as soon as I finish simply because I know I'm not absorbing it all. I'm awed by how inspired the Founding Fathers were, the work and study and discussion and discussion and discussion about subjects that frequently make my eyes glaze over, and yet because of their passion for freedom and desire to understand what it truly means I have been blessed to the point of taking for granted their work and sacrifices, not so much for themselves but for future generations. How carelessly I've held the precious treasure, but no more. Every day I am grateful for the right to choose, for the freedom to choose. With such freedom, needs must I choose wisely. Better late than never. I pray every day for God's mercy and love and the courage to seize each day and use it well. Blessedly, the Atonement allows for mistakes and the opportunity to keep trying. I will never stop endeavoring to seize each day and make it worthwhile, a blessing, a proof of God's love and hope.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Thank Goodness It's Sunday #11

~A/C!!! It's 110 degrees! I am sooooooo grateful for air conditioning. Blessing, blessing, blessing.

~Race Buddies provided by TNT, at least for now it's free. Part way through, they'll start charging for it, but in the meantime, I'm able to watch NASCAR racing. Whoohoo!!

~Nieces, who are a delight and brilliant and good company.

~Claritin D providing allergy relief.

~BOOKS! Yep, here again, as always.

In so many countless ways, God blesses my life. I endeavor to be grateful for His inspiration, guidance, and daily miracles. Without Him, I am nothing. He gives me all that is good and beautiful in my life, and of the ugliness and pain, He is able to create new and wonderful opportunities, if I will slip my hand into His and trust Him in every way. He does not belittle me and will never abandon me. I am His, always and forever, and whatever the future brings I will face it knowing He is with me, no matter what.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Reading List #18 and bits and pieces...

Starting with the bits and pieces: I've loved eggplant parmesan, ever since I first tried it at The Olive Garden. Schwan's has a new dish using eggplant, and it's also delicious. I decided to try cooking eggplant myself. To put it simply: Never again. I'll eat it pre-prepared thank you. Now whenever I hear some nutrition guru touting not to use prepackaged foods, all I can think is that THAT is the only way I'll eat eggplant. Then I think of my raisins and dried blueberries, and they're pre-packaged. Speaking of which, I'm learning a lot about doing my homework before buying. Will the food keep? When I buy it, do I check the expiration date? I also compare prices. I was going to buy pickles and relish this week. It was in the ad at 3 for $5. Sounded like a good deal. Did my homework. Just a few weeks ago, I had purchased it at $1.49 each. I decided to wait. It's generally cheaper before a holiday in which hotdogs are considered traditional. Just as baking needs are on sale during November and December.

Still reading The Five Thousand Year Leap. Fascinating. And still I wonder who we've managed to allow ourselves to be drawn so far away from the Constitution. I've had enough and am ready to return to basic values and principles. I'm starting to make changes in my own life. I will not remain where I was. I will change, for the better, as I endeavor to seek more honestly God's path and how I fit into His plan.

Field of Danger by Ramona Richards is an inspirational suspense. It was definitely a page turned and had me cheering at the end of the story.

Bought: Damsel in Distress is a debut Presents by Lucy King. It fits the Presents formula perfectly, and with characters I truly enjoyed. She has another book coming out in a couple of months. I'm looking forward to it.

The Wild Marquis by Miranda Neville was intriguing. She explored the world of bibliophiles, in the early 1800s. I had no idea! She also has another book coming out in September, following one of the other characters in this book. I love related stories.

Honeymoon with My Brother by Franz Wisner was our book club read for this month. I appreciated the reminder to stop and think about where I'm going and whether or not it's really where I want to go, or if I'm doing what I think I should as opposed to allowing God to guide me.