Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Next Step: House For Sale

Once the dust settled after moving, Brian began working on the old house getting it ready to sell. It went on the market last Thursday.

Earlier that week I spent some time putting the finishing touches on a few things and meeting with our realtor (and friend) for pictures and necessary paperwork.

Throughout this whole process I've had friends ask me, is it sad to leave your house? The house that you guys built? The house that you brought home three out of five babies to? The house that you lived in for over twenty-one years? The house where you have good friends and playmates in the neighborhood? Not to mention the best mechanic ever right across the street!

So many people asked me these questions, I was starting to wonder if something was wrong with me because I wasn't sad. Obviously, there is a bittersweet part to it all, but sad - no. However....

To everyone who asked me, I want to let you know I finally had my emotional moment.  Isn't it funny how these things will sneak up on you unawares at times? My moment came as I watched my realtor friend pierce the soil with the for sale sign. Suddenly, I found myself choking on lungs that had jumped up into my throat. I blinked back tears as I realized this was it. We are giving someone else permission to buy our home. Strangers will let themselves in, walk through, and scrutinize. The home we built. The home where we raised our kids.

Just to put this into perspective, my moment only lasted about five seconds and I didn't command my friend to remove the sign from our yard. It's good to know that we are in a new season and to acknowledge that God has provided and guided us to where we are now. The home we are leaving will be a blessing to somebody else as it was a blessing to us.

And now, as a pictorial tribute, here are few of my favorite things about the home we are leaving behind....

We're leaving behind our mark in the driveway. (Only had two kids in June, 1990.)
These two rocks came out of the hole we dug for the basement.
Our friend used the backhoe to move and stack them in the front.
The weeping mulberry tree came from my friend's house. She hated it and was going to get rid of it.
I loved it, so our husbands dug it up and replanted it for me in the front next to the rocks.
It was only about 4 feet tall at the time. It now stands a proud 12 feet high!
Every year we had two pair of cardinals nest in the weeping tree.
In fact, we saw the males when we were there a couple days ago.
They must have been nesting, because they sure did complain while we
were standing the front yard.
I'll miss the custom cabinetry that was made by our friend's dad. I stained and polyed every piece of wood in that house. 
But, not so much the peach countertops - what can I say?
It was 1990 and we didn't have a ton of money. :-)
Now that he doesn't have to spend so much time back at the other house, 
Brian started messing around in the yard last weekend.
We're now ready for a nice, safe bonfire.

Silas and his friend, Cameron, drove the mower & trailer around the yard gathering rocks for the border.

There's lots of wood left for this.....
Wood Slice Walkway

Isn't that cool? We need a path from the front to the back of the shed and 
I'm thinkin' this might just do the trick.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Organizing - To Pitch or Not to Pitch...

...that is the question.

Our old house is cleared out and I have more boxes to unpack. Now we are into the stuff that isn't as pertinent to everyday life. The stuff that's collected. Sentimental stuff. Or it was in the schoolroom, but I don't have a room set aside for school anymore. School is getting done all over the house.

It isn't hard to decide where most of the things should go, if they should be kept or not, stored or kept out. However, there is one collection in particular that's giving me pause.

My notebooks. These (and more) are the storehouses of my thoughts, prayers, rants, raves, studies, memories, life. I very rarely look at them. I'm not sure I'd even want anyone else to read them. But these pages hold the chronicles of my life and times. I can't bring myself to put them in the trash. Yet, I am asking myself if they are important enough to box up and use space in my already crowded closet.

What would you do? Do you keep every single journal forever and ever amen? If so, how do you store them? In a sealed box with instructions posted on the outside for your family to destroy the contents upon your untimely demise? Or have you pitched your used up journals?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Post Valentine's Day Thoughts

I had an epiphany. The light bulb turned on. The scales fell from my eyes. And now that I've broken the rule about using over-used phrases, let me just tell you what's on my mind.

A couple weekends ago my husband and I attended a marriage retreat with several couples from our church. One of the key points many of the women came away with is the fact that women are historical in nature, while men tend to be event-oriented. Normally, I shy away from putting men and women in totally separate boxes in the Venn Diagram. There is usually some overlap when it comes to generalizations about behavior, preferences, characteristics, etc. However, I can definitely see where the speaker was coming from with this one.

We girls get annoyed about something our man does and we remember how he did it two days ago, last week, two months ago, three years ago, AND the first time he did it - five days after the honeymoon was over. In fact, that's when we realized the honeymoon was over. (Just for the record, it's usually something that's not really a big deal either. Simply annoying.)

On the other hand, while our man might remember the incident from two days ago (if we brought it to his attention at the time), he doesn't remember last week, last year, and certainly not five days after the honeymoon was over. He thinks the honeymoon is still going! (Bless his little heart.)

I found myself struggling with this concept. If that's how we are...and I can see that we are...how do we make it work? Knowing that God knit each one of us together in our mother's womb and He made men to be men and women to be women, I believed He had a solution for the historical vs. event quandary. I just didn't know what it was.

A few of my friends and I were discussing this again Sunday evening at Bible study where I voiced my struggle. I was gently reminded of First Corinthians 13, the love chapter, and the part about "love keeps no record of wrongs." I know. I know I'm not supposed to keep a list, but we've been sitting agreeing that we are list-keepers! Then, I let it drop. However, the Holy Spirit didn't let it drop.

That's when the light turned on. At some point in my sleep I awoke with the thought, "I can keep a record of rights!" My historical nature can keep all the records it wants as long as the list is about the good things. As for the annoying things? God's mercies are new every day. I claim that for myself all the time. Perhaps it's time I follow the Lord's example and let my mercies be new every morning as well.

Summing it all up, friends, 
I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and 
meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.
Philippians 4:8 MSG

Linking with....

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Only One Sentence?

Joining One Sentence Saturday with Robin at Pensieve....


So, the question before me is, where do I hope to visit in Europe and why?
Are you ready?  Here's my one sentence....

I would like to visit the land of some of my ancestors - Scotland.

What about you?  Where would you go?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Finish. With Joy.

I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 
--John 17:4 NIV

But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. 
--Acts 20:24 NKJV

These words challenged me this morning.
Finish.  With joy.

Too often I start something, then don't finish.  Or I finish, but there certainly isn't any joy in it because it was harder than I thought.  

I am not a runner by any means, but I know people who are.  From what they have told me, crossing the finish line brings with it a thrill that makes the work, the sweat, the puking, and the pain all worth it.  

And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame.   
--Hebrews 12:1b-2 NLT

These words give me a pretty healthy dose of perspective.  There is nothing I have to do that compares on the challenges scale with what Jesus endured for me.  Certainly not my little projects.  Neither does being a wife, a women's ministry leader or even homeschooling.

My goal?  
> To finish what I start
> To finish with joy
> To not be a grouch between the starting and the finishing

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Chocolate Marshmallow Cake

Hello there chocolate lovers!  Today I am linking with the Crazy Cooking Challenge hosted by Moms Crazy Cooking.


This month's challenge is chocolate cake.  I found the recipe for Chocolate Marshmallow Cake here and got started this afternoon.  Here's the recipe without adjustments:

Chocolate Marshmallow Cake

2 cups boiling water
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, use high quality
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup butter, at room temperature
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
18 HUGE marshmallows or twice as many large marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease large mugs that are oven safe. The ones I used are about 5-6 inches in diameter. You could use just regular cake pans if need be, but the mugs are more fun.

In medium bowl, pour boiling water over cocoa, and whisk until smooth. Let mixture cool. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.

Using a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs one at time, scraping down after each addition. Beat in vanilla.

Add the flour mixture alternately with the cocoa mixture. Spread batter evenly between the 3 prepared mugs (about ¾ of the way up…maybe less).

Place three marshmallows in the middle of the cake. Place the mugs on a baking sheet…the marshmallow will spill over…it’s okay, makes for a nice effect. You will want to put tin foil over the cake as the marshmallow will brown too much otherwise…make sure you tent the foil as opposed to wrapping the cake pan in it. Loose is your friend (yes, that sounds bad  )

The baking time is going to vary based on your mug or pan size. If you are just doing cake pans it will be about 30 minutes. My mugs were smaller, but much deeper and took about 50 minutes to bake. You just need to watch and see.

Remove from oven and push another three marshmallows into the cake. Either put under a broiler for a minute or two or use a culinary torch to melt them a little. Serve warm.

* * * * * * *

I didn't want a huge cake, so I cut the recipe half.  As you can see the halved recipe was still too much for a single cake pan.  Part way through the baking process the batter started spilling over the sides.  Good thing I put the pan on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. 

Doesn't it look amazing?!!  Chocolate lava....

Also, I had to use regular large marshmallows, because I didn't have the jumbo size on hand.  I just shoved the marshmallows all over the top of the cake.  Here it is out of the oven the first time and before adding the extra marshmallows....

And here we are after the final trip in the oven under the broiler.  As you can see below, one of the marshmallows got alittle burnt.  Anybody else besides me like their marshmallows torched at a bonfire?

This is by far the best scratch chocolate cake recipe I have tasted with or without marshmallows.  Very chocolaty.  Moist.  Great texture.  Mmmmmm.....

 I think it's worth another try, don't you?
I am linking with....


And if this wasn't enough....