Friday, December 30, 2011

Prepping for Festivities

      Someone living in my house remarked yesterday that January begins "soon".  Soon . . . . I don't really want to think about the number involved in "soon" because, quite frankly, I'm not quite sure where all twelve months of 2011 went.  I remember bits - and I have pictures to prove that 2011 actually happened . . . but that's beside the point.

THE POINT is that New Year's Eve is fast approaching.  And most people do something to celebrate the joy of the old year and the anticipation of the new year.  If you are one of these delightfully extroverted people who thrive on social fun (sadly, I am not), you're probably brushing up on your game skills, jokes and party tricks.  And if you need a new party trick with which to amaze and astound all your friends and relatives during your New Year's Eve festivities, might I recommend this one?  I think it is pretty safe to say no one will be copying you - at least this year.  :)  You have a little over 24 hours to learn the routine . . . . piece of cake!



Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Promise Delivered

    And now, for the special surprise we promised a few weeks ago!  To celebrate the fact that we finished our word goals for November we decided to let you all have a little sneak peak at what we have written.
What we are not going to do is tell you who wrote it or what genre the excerpts are - you're going to have to guess for those:)  And to make it more interesting still, we're going to only post two of three. :)  If we get at least six different people to enter this mini contest the closest guess will win a special little prize.


Excerpt Number One  



Reginald Alexander liked to start his day with a cup of good, strong coffee as black as his grandfather’s dark skin.  His wife, bless her heart, had never learned the knack of good coffee making, so for the fifty-one years they were married coffee had been his contribution to breakfast.  Every work-day, Elsie had made him bacon, eggs and toast.  On Saturdays she’d made him pancakes.  Whether it was jam on his toast or the syrup and stewed fruit on the pancakes, there was always something sweet on the table to balance out the strong acidic punch of the black brew that he favored so much.  
  He didn't remember much about the two years that followed her death.  He knew that he’d eaten a great deal of dry toast for breakfast and he couldn’t brew a decent cup of coffee to save his life.  He was reduced to a shell waiting to die, too.  His company had transferred his job to a dairy in Port Hope, and that had been the beginning of remembering how to live.  Nobody could explain how he had spent three weeks in town before discovering The Bread and Butter Bakery centered on the second of Port Hope’s two streets.  He’d gone in and savored the first good cup of coffee he’d had since the day his Elsie died, a fresh, sticky cinnamon swirl providing a perfect foil to its bitter blackness.  He still missed his wife, figured he always would.  But he knew he had business to finish - one last attempt to try make right what Elsie never could.
This morning the sun was shining a pale gold on the frosty buildings as he walked up second street.  The temperature was well below zero and his breath came in frosty puffs through the bright green scarf that protected his nose from frostbite.  When he pushed the front door of The Bakery open he shivered as the fragrant warmth hit his face.  He frowned as he unwound his scarf.  It was early enough he’d expected to be the only customer, but the emptiness of the dinning area mirrored in the glass display case under the counter was not encouraging.
“Is this a bakery or are we just playing at running a business?” he called good naturedly toward the well lit kitchen as he pulled of his toque and mittens.
“We’re just playing,” someone called back.  Her tone was light and merry, and a moment later Tessa had pushed through the swinging half-door and was hugging him warmly.
“Did your parents get off okay?” he asked, slipping out of his coat.
“They boarded their ship this morning and should be leaving The Island with the evening tide,” she said, hanging his coat on the stand by the door.
“It is so good to see you,” she smiled.  “We really missed you.”
“Not as much as I missed you,” he assured her.  “That young pup you got to lift mixers and tote flour is all brawn and no brain.  Can’t make a decent cup of coffee worth bench scrapings - even my Elsie’s coffee was better than his - so I’m drier than a bone in the dessert.”
“We’ll fix that,” Tessa laughed, but he noticed the sparkle in her eyes didn’t match.  “Come on back,” she pushed the door to the kitchen open, “and I’ll see what I can come up with.”
“My, my,” he mused thoughtfully, gazing around the kitchen as he accepted the chair next to a work station she pulled out for him.  “Flour on floor, mixers dirty on the counter, sink full of dishes dirty with last Friday’s soup . . . if this place didn’t look like a blizzard blew through I’d think it was as empty as that display counter out front.”
“Shhh,” Tessa frowned and put a finger to her lips.  “Kate is already on stressed overload.  Don’t say things like that out loud.  I have to live with her when this day is over,” she said, pouring coffee into a clean white mug. 
 “Am I going to have to wait long for you to tell me what is going on here?” he asked when she didn’t say anything.
“We’re trying to manage a bakery without our parents,” she evaded, thwacking a lump of dough on the counter.
“Tessa James, I was not born yesterday,” he said firmly.  “Your mama did not raise you to work in a kitchen that looks like a disaster area; your daddy would be horrified if he knew the display counter was still empty at 6:30 on a Monday morning.”
 “Owen hasn’t shown up for work yet,” Tessa gritted her teeth.  “When we got here this morning the kitchen was pretty much as you see it now.  But none of the prep work had been done so we had to skip all but the most basic cleaning and get right to work.  Discovering half our inventory is missing didn’t help, either.  Don’t tell Kate I said this, but on the whole this has not been an ideal first day back.  And we haven’t even opened yet,” she sighed. 




Excerpt Number Two


After the first few days of her employment, Crissa began to suspect that Edvaith had not mentioned her stipulations to his sons. The two eldest, Byron and Victor, did not enter the kitchen for any ulterior motives, it was simply the quickest way from the yard to the warmth of the large hall. She would not have minded so much, if it hadn’t been for the fact that they tramped through her spotless kitchen with their muddy boots, dripping dirty snow and barn leavings all over the floor.  Even that would not have been so terribly hard to deal with, for the annoyance of the dirtied floor paled in comparison with the extreme aggravation of Edvaith’s youngest.
Kyel seemed to have appointed himself head of supervision for the entire house, at least, any part of the house that held anyone breathing and that retained the capability of a pair of working eardrums.
      He had spent the entire first full day pointing out where she had missed scrubbing, which crocks, bowls, and spoons went where, and the most efficient (in his opinion) place for the various food items to be stored. It took every ounce of willpower for Crissa not to make some snide remark about why, if he was so adept at this, had the kitchen been such a pigsty when she had arrived. Instead she had firmly insisted that she knew what she was doing and told him to go occupy his time with something else.  It was of no use, for he would be back minutes later, pointing out this and that as though he were a fat headmistress with a ring of keys at her belt, bellowing out orders with the sole purpose of hearing herself talk. 
      It all came to a head one evening during preparations for the evening meal. Crissa, standing over the fireplace, tapped an extra spoonful of flour into the thin gravy as Kyel watched from his perch atop the wobbly, splintered stool in the corner. He had been strangely quiet all afternoon, though he had stubbornly refused to leave his perch near the kitchen fire, studiously examining every item that went into the various pots and kettles throughout the day.
      “Crissa, it would be ever so much more beneficial for time and efficiency if you kept the flour above the fire, on the mantelpiece. T'would save a tremendous amount of time running back and forth like that every time you needed a spoonful.”
      “Would it now,” Her lips pressed into a thin line.
      “Of course it would!” He sounded indignant that she would even think his idea would be anything less than brilliant.
      “And what good would it do to save myself a few trips back and forth when I would have to trek back and forth dozens of times when I needed to make bread or pastry dough?” She asked.
      “Well, divide the flour in half then, and keep two separate containers.” He spoke as though he couldn’t imagine why she had not thought of such a simple solution herself.
      “I do not need it enough to warrant it in two different places." She glanced in his direction, arching an eyebrow,  "Don’t you have some work you ought to be doing?”   
      Kyel bypassed the question entirely, instead leaning back and staring across the room with eyes half shut. He kinked his head ever so slightly when she leaned over to a small shelf, reached into a little dish, and threw a pinch of coarse salt into her gravy.
      “Are you sure you want to do that?” He asked quietly, smoothly, as if talking to a child. Crissa gripped the spoon so tightly her knuckles paled, the spoon making tight, aggravated swirls in the gravy.
      “You do know that it is terribly difficult to salvage a gravy that has been salted too heavily, don’t you? Once you get too much you might as well toss the whole thing." He paused for the briefest second,  "I mean, the cat won’t even eat it then.”
      “That is enough!” The spoon clattered into the pot, forgotten in the frustration that had finally reached a boiling point. “Out of my kitchen this instant, and not another word or I’ll be serving you boiled leather for supper!”  She threatened, eyes snapping angrily as she advanced on the youth.
      For one so slight she was surprisingly strong, nearly lifting the lad off his feet as she grabbed the collar of his tunic and thrust him into the dazzling whiteness outdoors. He knew better than to turn around and reenter the kitchen, but he could not resist the chance at having a last word.
      “And I wouldn’t put anymore salt in the bread dough either, it will make it too tough and heavy, twill sit in the stomach for hours . . . like a rock!”

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Holiday Preparations

The house is decorated, the Nativity is in place on top of the piano, the tree has yet to be gotten, shopping has been mostly done, music has been pulled out and played over, and over, and over:) We watched our first Christmas movie. . . well, second I guess if you count the musical we watched about a week or so ago.
  In our home one of our yearly traditions is watching It's A Wonderful Life and Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol.  Despite the fact that we watch them just once a year, we can pretty much spout them in their entirety:)


We would like to hear from you; what are some of the Christmas traditions you hold?

Friday, December 9, 2011

12 Days of . . . .what?

How we discovered this group I no longer remember - but this has become one of our all time favorite parodies. :)
Here for your enjoyment - we would like to introduce Straight No Chasers and their version of '12 Days of Christmas'   Not only are they really good, but they are loads of fun to watch!
I dare you not to laugh

Friday, December 2, 2011

Yep, It's October. . . . .November. . . . December!!!

Ever have the feeling that the days are just slipping by? I can not believe it is already December!
   The Christmas music has been pulled out, the decorations are not long in coming (I'll probably try get them up this week:), we've already watched a Christmas movie, and the snow. . . . . . oh yea, well, the snow has yet to come.  I was so sad when we lost our beautiful blanket of snow a week ago, now everything is dry and brown, and though it doesn't look too bad out it has been so windy that it sounds absolutely frigid.  (This exclusive, up-to-date weather report brought directly to you by yours truly. . . . )

   Anyway, I knew we hadn't posted in the last week and wanted to drop a little post to say; We are still here, moving around a little less than usual because we can't take our nice, warm, cozy stove with us when we step out of our living room, but busy nonetheless.

    So, to start off December and the posts to follow we would like to hear from all you lovely readers:  What are your plans for this Christmas?  Staying home? Traveling? Spending it with family or friends?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Victory in Triplicate!

   Victory is ours!  We have succeeded in our goals! We have remained friends through thick and thin, word wars, and chocolate deprivation!
   Having reached our goal of 50,000 words each (which comes to a total of 150,000+ words all together!) we have rewarded ourselves several ways, the most popular being that we have not touched our manuscripts since we finished. It has been wonderful, and I think our word vocabulary's are slowly returning. (Although I am beginning to think there may be some slight permanent damage, I couldn't remember the word for rack yesterday when I was moving things around in the oven. . . . )

   To celebrate this victory we have a little surprise planned for you all that will be posted, hopefully, sometime in the next two weeks.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Chocolate vs word count

      Our heroine sat hunched over her laptop desperately trying to stare down her nemesis.  She sighed, wondering when it all had gone so wrong.  One moment, the characters she had created were following her plot like good little children; the next they were bickering and fighting with her as though they should dictate the plot.  The story details, the little twists and turns that had seemed so brilliant last night while she was falling asleep had turned traitor and were nowhere to be found now that she really needed them.
Now, the word-count on her screen taunted her with its infuriating smallness; the blinking cursor seemed to laugh maniacally, daring her to type something, anything just to get that tally closer to the daily goal.
  "I WILL NOT resort to making my characters sing lyrics to songs that never end, or having them review the periodic table just to increase my word count!" she defied the blinking cursor - for what was at least the sixth time that half-hour.
  "Whose brilliant idea was this, anyway?" she grouched to her writing buddy.  Her writing buddy, instinctively knowing an answer wasn't really wanted smiled serenely and didn't bother to look up from her own plot.
  "Oh I give up!" our heroine conceded.  "You may have won the battle," she glared at the word count box, "but the war still wages.  I'm going for re-enforcements," she announced, dramatically flipping the laptop screen closed.

  "I need chocolate."

  Each word was punctuated with frustration and a hint of lingering bitterness toward uncooperative creativity.

  "Chocolate?"

      A fellow word-fighter materialized, sensing that the previously hostile war-zone had transitioned to a temporarily peaceful truce.
  "Yes," our heroine asserted firmly, uncurling her legs from the chair and working the kinks out of her shoulders.
  "Me, too," her ally sighed, plopping down on the almost lumpy couch.  "My hero is having an identity crisis and my villain is showing disconcerting hero-ish tendencies.  My story sounded so brilliant in my head and once I started putting it on paper it's falling a bit flat."
  "In that case we might need a cookie or two as well," our first heroine mused.
  "Will this fortification of comforting endorphins involve . . . . coffee, perhaps?" a third compatriot joined the ranks.
  "We might be able to handle that," the second heroine nodded thoughtfully.
  "I have just the thing," the first heroine brightened.  "I found it a few weeks ago and have been saving it for An Emergency."
  "I've been staring at the same paragraph for the last 45 minutes," the third heroine observed dryly.  "I think this qualifies."
  The other two nodded.
  "Think you can hold out for another half hour?  This shouldn't take too long after I do my mise en place."
  "There she goes again," the third heroine rolled her eyes.
  "We're fine," the second heroine said quickly, shoving her toward the door.  "Go.  Do your mise en mess thing and stop spouting weird words that normal people never use!  Don't you know that mixing Food Network and NaNoWriMo could be disastrous to my plot?!"
  The first heroine giggled as she quickly snapped a picture of the black board on her wall and retreated to the kitchen.
  "It looks yummy," she said to herself as she reviewed the original recipe, "but I think I'll make a few changes."
  "Oh for crying out loud!  Once, just once I'd like to see you make a recipe the way its written," the third heroine called after her.
  "Shhh!" the second heroine hissed.  "If you leave her alone long enough she'll forget we're in here.  If she starts talking to herself we might get some good dialogue inspiration out of this arrangement."
  "I'm not that entertaining," the first heroine called back to them as she propped the camera up on a shelf and started gathering her ingredients.


  Thanks to modern technology, there was a pot of fresh coffee brewing moments later.  And after a quick rummage in the pantry and refrigerator, our heroine had the ingredients she needed.


"2 ounces baking chocolate
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups milk
2 cups coffee
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon", 
she read the list to herself off the camera's view screen.

  "Me thinks that unsweetened baking chocolate could add complications," she continued.
  "But its easier than figuring out the cocoa equivalent," she shrugged.  "And you could easily stir in a little extra sugar if it isn't sweet enough."
  "True," she agreed with herself.  "Let's get the milk warming and we can figure out the rest as we go."
  "I'll use a bigger sauce pan so we have room to add the coffee later."
  "Good idea.  This says to use a double boiler to melt the chocolate, but 2 ounces really isn't all that much.  "
  "So rig something.  Double boilers haven't been around forever . . . what would your great grandmother have used?"
  "Good point.  I bet if I use a clothes pin to clip this bowl above the tea kettle that would work."




  "Be careful you don't burn yourself on the steam.  Oh, that's brilliant!"

  "I thought so.   I just hope the clothes pin holds.  I'd hate to have it drop the chocolate into the water," she smiled, very pleased with herself as she poked at the chocolate with a whisk.






  "Could you read the directions again?  Once its melted, what do I do next?"

  "Whisk in the cinnamon, salt and sugar."

  "Thank you."

  "Be careful you don't pop the clothes pin off!"

  "I am being careful!  Do you have any idea how hard it is to try cook and take pictures of what you're doing?"


  "Sweetie, calm down.  You're less likely to drop stuff if you're relaxed.  Now pour in a little of the hot coffee."

    "Okay," she sighed slowly.  "You're right.  But I think I'm going to take this off the hot water now.  This is going to involve a little more whisking than I think my rigged double boiler can handle," she observed.


 

  "Good idea," she agreed, moving the small bowl to a hot pad on the counter.  "Keep stirring until the coffee dissolves the sugar."  

  "I'll add the vanilla now and then taste it to see how that unsweetened baking chocolate is working out."

  "Not bad," she told herself.  "But it would definitely qualify for dark chocolate.  I'm not sure your compatriots are going appreciate that."

  "Probably not.  They are definitely of the 'sweet' chocolate camp.  I'll add another 2 tbsp. of sugar and that should get it up where semisweet would have been.  Are you going to add the rest of that coffee to the milk or should I?"

  "I'll do it.  You can add the chocolate in a minute."


"Oh that's pretty!  I love how the coffee turns the milk a soft, gentle brown.  Is it my turn?"

"Go for it."



  "Now we whisk it frothy, just because it's fun.  If you'll get the cups, I'll get the biscotti."

     Five minutes later a tray of biscotti and steaming mugs of Brazilian Hot Chocolate was sitting on the kitchen counter waiting to be carried into the fray.




       Laptops were ceremoniously closed with sighs of relief when the mugs were passed around.
  "To plots un-kinking," the first heroine toasted.
  "To meeting word counts before bedtime and being asleep by midnight," the second added.
  "To heroes who do what they're told . . . without argument," the third heroine finished solemnly, clinking the glasses 'round.  The first steamy sip was savored; and the tension of missing word counts began to ease.  Then, a lovely crunching of biscotti; contentious characters began to blur into a relaxing imagination.
  "Mmmm," someone sighed deeply.
  "This is really good."
  "I don't feel as crabby as I did a minute ago."
  "If y'all don't mind, a little peace and quiet seems to be in order.  I'm having a very serious conversation with my Brazilian Hot Chocolate and biscotti, and y'all are interrupting," a tiny, genteel voice scolded primly.  The three heroines stared in shock at the tea tray.
  "Is there any more of this very lovely caffeine spiked chocolate?" the third heroine asked quietly.
  "You haven't finished the first half of that cup," the first heroine objected.
  "But I just heard your writing buddy scold us for interrupting her enjoyment of her cup!  I didn't think I was that far gone, but if I'm hearing stuffed bears speak . . . I'm going to need way more chocolate."
  "No, I heard her too," the second heroine whispered. 
  "Me, too," the first heroine admitted slowly.  "I think we've been at this NaNoWriMo thing too long."
  They silently regarded the small, innocent looking bear for a moment.
  "Well, look at the bright side," the third heroine smiled.  "Being a little nuttier than usual could come in handy when battling stubborn word counts or goofy characters."
  The second heroine started giggling.
  "I bet a talking teddy bear would shock my hero into getting back on track," she grinned.
  "Teddy bears don't really fit in my plot," the third shrugged, picking her laptop up and opening the lid.  "I think I need a singing rock."
  The others giggled.
  "Okay," the first heroine conceded, laughing as she booted her computer back up.  "I'll add a quirky kitchen maid who can't get a straight answer out without turning it into another question.  Then we'll see what happens."
      The busy clack of computer keys, the occasional sipping of chocolate and crunch of nutty biscotti blended into a symphony of creativity.  And on the corner of the tea tray, a small bear sat with a tiny cup of chocolate, smiling a small smile to herself and thinking that, in the end, maybe she was the heroine of the story after all.



 The End

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Lemon Sugar Scrub

As the weather turns colder and the humidity in the air drops a persons skin tends to begin to dry.
One of my absolute favorite pampering procedures is a Lemon-Sugar hand scrub.  Not only does it feel really nice, it sloughs away the dead, dry skin and leaves your hands smooth and soft.
   The best part?  You only need two things, both of which you probably already have hanging around in your kitchen or pantry.

1. Lemon Juice
2. White Sugar

First - begin with a palm full of sugar.
  I specified white sugar because it is finer and tends to works better than, say, organic cane sugar, which tends to be a bit too coarse for a hand scrub.
 (Although I have used it before and it does work, it isn't as gentle and I personally don't like it as well.)

Dribble lemon juice until sugar is just pasty.

This is a little bit too much lemon juice - you want it thick and pasty instead of runny.

 Then you gently scrub. . . . .

And scrub . . . . . 

And scrub! 
Make sure to concentrate a little bit extra on the spots that are really dry, and make sure to get in between your fingers.  It feels really, really nice so you can stand there and scrub away.

Smiley
 
 Then you rinse. . . . .

 And rinse . . . . . .


 And rinse!
You want to make sure you get it all off, because it has happened more than once that I have discovered a sticky spot somewhere after doing a scrub.
You may have noticed in a couple of the pictures that my hand was splotchy red in a few places - this will happen because of the exfoliation and stimulation your skin is getting.  If it feel irritated you might be rubbing a bit too hard.
There you are! It is simple, quick, and feels wonderful! 
If you feel like it you can extend the pampering even further and follow up with scented lotion, and/or a manicure! 



Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Craft

Hi everyone
As some of you know I just got into the jewelry making hobby a few months ago and I thought you might like to see something I've done.
This is the latest piece I've made, it started as a play-around and not sure if it was going to work at all.  I got the idea from a bracelet that I saw in Kohl's, it was expensive so I didn't get it.  Then a few day's later I thought I'll try and make one myself.  My version isn't just like the other one but it has the same shape pretty much.

 Plus it will go with the earring's I made a few week's ago.
:)
So now I will have something to wear on Red Friday. (WAHOO)
:)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Word Wars

  Words in general have been a pretty big part of my daily life recently. I knew when we started NaNo words would take priority over a lot of my hobbies - I just didn't understand what that would mean. 

As far as the attempt at 50,000 words goes, I've already had a few ups and downs.  (To the point that I almost didn't start at all, but I'm rather glad I did.)  Writing is something I've always loved to do, but I don't think NaNoWriMo would be as much fun if I didn't share the common ground - and accountability - with my sisters and mum.  We'll be sitting on the couch, laptops whirring away, and someone will ask for a random word - "that word for when X happens, but you don't really want to admit it, and it isn't Y" . . . "Z" someone will helpfully supply - or we'll need a character or place name.  We haven't hit any character rebellion yet (sounds weird, but it does happen), so we haven't had to do any major plot problem solving.  We're steadily typing away . . . and checking out each-other's word count.  :)  

      The farther into NaNo I get, the more I can't help thinking that NaNoWriMo is a lot like life.  We started NaNo with basic story ideas, and the more we write the more we are surprised at the direction our stories are taking.  Life, when I was five or even seven or twelve, wasn't that big of a deal: it just happened.  Kind-of the way I read books: someone else wrote them and I get to enjoy all the work, frustration and painful re-edits they went through before it went to print.  But the older I get, the more Life seems to be a huge endeavor - some of it really fun and exciting, and some of it really not.

      Writing fiction is a lot like painting: you sketch your scene (sometimes only mentally) and then you start adding color and detail.  And when you step back from the painting to get the whole picture, you realize that in one corner the shadows are a little too dark, or that the shades of blue used for water aren't quite rich enough to give it depth.  Stories work the same way.  And so does life.  Its called growing.

       We've been having a lot of interesting discussions at home about what it looks like to love others the way Christ intended us to.  And in my own quiet time I've been coming across a lot of things I thought I knew the answers to, but I'm having to re-evaluate: is the way I live this conviction truly about honoring the God who redeemed me with His blood, or is it about me looking like a "good" Christian?  There are a lot of words swirling in my head and my heart.

      When I was wee, I was pretty sure I knew how to love others: the Golden Rule of "do unto others as you would have others do until you" seemed pretty clear.  But then I grew up and the issue of convictions that didn't line up clouded things . . . . your church says, and my church says, and this evangelist teaches, and that one does, and I'm convinced . . . . and words that contain truth begin to seemingly war with each other.  'Good things' become Standards that we defend fiercely, sometimes to the detriment of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
  I love how Jasmine Baucham's post "Are you Trusting In Chariots?" neatly wrapped the issue in a single question:

"Are we more focused on giving an answer for the hope that we have in Christ (1 Peter 3:15), or in defending our particular lifestyle or pet paradigm? "

      I am ashamed to say that in the last several weeks I have to admit that I do.  The words that define what I say I believe have become more important than my desire to be more like my Savior.  I never once thought that realization would ever have similar threads with NaNo.
      Chickadee, Sharpi and I all have vastly varying NaNo plots.  And we all have different ways of working through the writing challenges that crop up.  If we end up comparing efforts, I’m pretty sure at least once we’ll all come across details in the other’s stories that prompt a, “Hmmm . . . . I don’t think I would have taken that route,” moment.  But at the end of the day, we are more interested in encouraging one another and helping each other through the tough spots than we are in making a word-count happen.  We're family.  That's what it means to love each other.

      In "The Church" (as being defined as the body of Christ, and not limited to one specific congregation or denomination) there is a vast array of people living lives that are never going to look the same.  We - yes, we - hold to our Standards and end up behaving as though it is our job to change the hearts of our brothers and sisters instead of loving them unconditionally.  And the words of truth that inspired our standards end up condemning and discouraging.
  On the extreme flip side you have the view that, since we are supposed to love each other no matter what, we should also be tolerant of wrong - which is nothing more than twisting words of truth to mean what we want them to.  (If the issue boiled down to love alone, there would have been no reason for Christ to make the ultimate sacrifice of His life, since the need for reconciliation with God would have been negated by His unconditional love.)
      We Three have different writing styles - and as much as I sometimes wish I was writing my sister's stories instead of mine, that isn't how it works.  Conversely, God has given each of us different lives and things work a whole lot better when we focus on living ours instead of someone else's.   While we girls are all cozied on the couch writing, we are in the perfect position to offer each other advice, encouragement, word suggestions, and spelling corrections; when we live we should, by all means, offer encouragement and correction IF we have earned that privilege from the other person by first walking with them and loving them unconditionally. 
      I don’t know about you, but I wouldn't appreciate it very much if a near-stranger came up to me and told me in polished Christian-ese, “You should be living you life better.”  I’m guilty of making mental judgment calls on other people’s lives, and have to be reminded that I don’t see the whole picture; I haven’t walked in their shoes.  And who am I, with my stubborn, rebellious heart, to be making that judgment?

      Hmmm.  Lots to think about.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go focus on my word count.  I mean, my life.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Present!

While we girls were on our shopping trip I found Irish Rose's Christmas present, want to see. :)
                                             (Sssh, don't tell Irish Rose)

Just kidding, IRose was the one that found it but she wasn't going to buy it
and seeing as I needed a Christmas present for her it all worked.
As we were leaving the store I said to her "Now what am I getting you for Christmas?"
She promptly replied "You have my Christmas present?"
"Very Good!"  :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

SCORE! - An Unexpected Surprise

   I am beginning to suspect that, perhaps, somewhere deep inside me there is an accessory fashionista just waiting to be released.  My reasons for this? Because in the past, oh, two years or so I've become extremely interested in searching out and putting together cute outfits. Lately it has been going beyond the outfit itself and trying to figure out what I could put with it to make it even cuter.
   We went on an All Girl shopping day last week. There were a few things we had to do, but most of it was the For Fun type of shopping where we ohh and ahh over cute clothes; try on shoes and boots that are alternately cute and so nasty they just have to be tried on, and lugging piles of clothing into dressing rooms with the sole purpose being simply that we "Want to try it on, just because" and not because we are actually seriously thinking about purchasing said item. (Then again we have discovered a few styles that really work well on us because we stepped out of our comfort zone and tried something we normally wouldn't gravitate toward.)
    A few hours into shopping we stopped at Kohls - I really like the store, but if I'm looking for clothing it seems to be somewhat hit and miss, there will be times I find things I like and times that I don't.  This particular visit I walked in without my purse because I was not looking for anything specific, and I wasn't really looking to buy anything.
   We wandered the bedding, kitchen, and shoe sections before gradually making our way to the front.  To get there we have to go past the accessory section, and the way I shop I tend to weave my way through all the different parts instead of sticking on the plain, clear pathway.  So we weave into the accessory section because mom is looking for a new, cute yet functional wallet.  My mother has a reputation for purse shopping - she is constantly on the search for The Perfect Purse - I can't seem to join her in her fascination, (in fact, this is pretty much the face I make when she heads for the bags again;rolleye0001 Free Emoticons   Rolling Eyes)  I mean, really, a purse is just a lined sack with a strap; something you lug around with you that happens to hold your keys, wallet, tissues, spare keys, cellphone, lotion, loose change, touch-up makeup, and the kitchen sink. So if it preforms the necessary functions of retaining all that without dumping it out at inopportune times, then what does it matter if it's pink, green, hobo styled, or beach bag?  I'm will say, though, that I'm happy mom loves to look at bags and doesn't give up her search for her Perfect Purse. . . . . . . it's kind of like my search for the the Perfect Pair of Boots! happy0043 Free Emoticons   Happy
   So here we are, browsing about the accessory aisle, and I happen to be vaguely looking around at the variety of purses.  A few months ago I decided that my current purse had become just a bit too small for the extra things I kept finding myself trying to stuff in there. To be fair I've had that one little brown purse for years - it being the one and only that I've purchase up to date. Yet it is only big enough for my wallet, checkbook, chapstick, and perhaps a little notebook and pen - even then I've got to squeeze and twist my hand to get it in there to grab what I want. (Clearly, not nearly enough room for the kitchen sink.)
I see a relatively cute looking white hobo bag that is interesting enough to warrant a second look. Meh, it is kind of nice, but not much bigger than the one I have, and not exactly cute enough, even with the 7.50 price tag.  I pick it up anyway, (one of those pick-up-and-walk-around-with-it-until-I-decide-not-to-buy-it type of things), and turn a corner where I see IT. . . . . . a pretty little tan and chocolate brown bag.
  "Ohhhh!" All three of my family members instantly react to my excited squeal with questions of "What did you find?" and "That is really cute!"
   Needless to say I put the little white hobo back and executed little dance of excitement at finally finding a cute, but functional bag! On the clearance rack no less!happy0064 Free Emoticons   Happy 
Finishing our perusal of the accessory section we headed for the check out.  .  .  .  .  yes, remember when I said I walked into Kohls? . . . . .without my purse? . . . . . . . this has happened enough that I knew I could probably ask one of my loving family members to lend me the money until we got back to the car - and then I remembered I had stuck a few bills into my skirt pocket! 
Pleased as I was with the bag I was even more pleased, and surprised, when the cashier rang up the purchase.   Check out the list below for the whopping total I ended up paying.

 Retail Price: $35
Clearance Price: $10.50
Purchase Price: $3.50 





Glitter Graphics | http://www.graphicsgrotto.com/

Woo Hoo



I LOVE finding savings like that, and I LOVE my new bag!!!!!!
(Oh no. . . . .I feel something coming on. . . . .I'm picking out all the outfits my new bag will match. . . . . . . eeck!!!! I better stop before I admit something I'm not willing to own up to!)

So, even if you aren't really, seriously looking for something, check out the clearance sections. You can find some really good deals for you, or gifts for others at really, really good prices!






    P.S. I realize even my new bag still doesn't have enough room for the kitchen sink, but I don't mind, it is a very, very small step closer. (You've gotta work your way up to heavy things like that. . . . )

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Come Take a Walk With Me

Today was a beautiful day - we woke up to discovery we were at the center of a beautiful, gauzy globe of white, shifting fog.  The world seemed to consist of nothing but our yard and the sparkling films of frost that had descended during the night.
After completing a few projects down by the barn a camera was fetched and I wandered about the yard to see what interesting frost decorations I could find.   Come and join me!

 I love frost - there are so many different kinds. One of my favorite is this type, the soft, furry looking white frost that just skims the edge of the bi-colored leaves.

Isn't that beautiful! Just look at all those intricate veins.  I still wonder how people can question if there really is a Creator when they are surrounded by the wonder of God's handiwork everyday!

I love this one - delicate little flowers that look like God picked them up and dipped their petals in super fine sugar. :)

You can see here some of the fog in the background.

Pretty little red buds on our silver maple.

Frost dusted chokecherries. (Don't they look good enough to lick?)

I don't know what this plant is, but I love the colors and the stark contrast of the white frost.

The pictures don't do justice to the real thing, but I hope you enjoyed the small tour of the fall foliage in our backyard.


    Psalm 19:1 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork. 
 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Things To Look For in the Foreseeable Future

  When we were talking about starting this blog we had a few ideas for what we were going to use it for - so that it wouldn't just be about the ins and outs of our lives. (Although those can be pretty interesting:) 
   Because we know just how hard it is to dress fashionably and modestly we wanted to share with you various tips we have discovered - but mainly to encourage you that it really is possible to dress modestly and cute. 



   So, when we get around to actually starting those posts keep your eyes open for these titles:


Score! These posts will cover accessories, pieces, or entire outfits that we have found for ridiculously cheap. We will list the price of each item and then, if we can find the items online, a comparing list of their original price.  (It's partially because I get a kick out of seeing how much I was able to save on an adorable outfit:)
We will also mention if they were second hand store finds or items placed on clearance. 

Occasionally Affordable   Because finding clothing really inexpensively is not always possible, there is the middling ground of this section.  We will mention a few tricks we have learned in deciding when and when not to actually buy a piece of clothing.
Being able to find coupons will really help with this, and the following, section.

Splurge!  I believe that every woman in the world ought to go out and splurge at least once . . . . . or twice. . . .occasionally.  :)  (Irish Rose's note - as she laughs hysterically: spoken by the sister who is most likely to fit the description "miser".)
This section is for those purchases that are either so cute we can't live without them (buy them, trust me, other wise you will get home, which is probably hours and hours away, regret that you left it in the store, and are never able to find it again) or so necessary that we had to break down and buy them.

Remade  For those outfits that are adorable but are not quite acceptable "as is".  More than once we've found something that we like (not as easy as it sounds), fits well (bonus!), but has an added complication of being too short/neckline being too low/strapless, etc.  In some cases those cute clothes can be re-made to blend fashion with modesty.  We're still learning the in's and out's of re-modeling clothes, so if anyone has any really good books on the seamstress's craft, recommend them to us!

We thought it might be helpful to have specific names for these sections so that you could see at a glance what kind of post it is.  We're hoping to get these up and running soon - and if we can't find a dressmakers model somewhere we may just have to rig up a sheet and hangers:)
If you have any tips, shopping techniques or favorite websites we'd love to hear them.  :)