Welcome friends...thanks for coming by. We're seeking beauty in all of creation... in our faith and our families; our art and our music; our crafts and kitchens, and even in our own backyard. We'll share a poem or a recipe, a picture or a memory; maybe a dream of how we wish our life could be. And though we acknowledge that the world can be harsh, we're keeping it pleasant in our little corner; endeavoring to keep the words from the Book of all Books: ...Whatsoever things are lovely; think on these things.

I so enjoy hearing from you...so leave me a comment; it'll make my day!

Photo: Bee and thistle: Taken high in the Cascade Mountains where there is a bee buzzing on every thistle. by Debora Rorvig

Thursday, March 31, 2011


Hubby and I are getting suspicious. It's about the dog. We think it just may be possible that she is smarter than she's letting on. And there's an outside chance that she's smarter than both of us...combined.  We fear we're being manipulated by a mastermind. Case in point...when we've thrown the ball for her over 100 times and have decided enough's enough...she pokes the ball under Hubby's chair...then pleads with him to get it out for her. He always caves and retrieves the ball, then gives it a toss in her direction...and Voila, there you have it...she's duped him into throwing it one more time. It's getting spooky. Now I'm wondering about that missing $20 bill from my dresser. Could she...Would she? Hmmm, maybe I'd better check her wallet.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Plot to Save Miss Forsythia

Dear Miss Forsythia,

     It is my sad duty to inform you that you are standing in the way of progress. The surveyors have tied a red flag to your knobby arm; a sign that your are standing squarely on the rear corner of our property... right where Hubby plans to sink a fence post.
     You see, Dear Forsythia, our puppy Koda needs a fence. She has rope burns on her tender belly from chasing a Frisbee with a 25 -foot rope attached to her halter. And yes Forsythia, I too wish that she could run free; but she hasn't yet learned to play nicely with the neighbor dogs. (And though I don't tell her so, I secretly agree with Koda-pup that those neighbor dogs are a surly pack-deserving of a nip or two.)
     And so, my pretty yellow lady, I have tried to think of every way to save you from the pruner's blade. I've hatched a plan, but it's a risky scheme, and you'll have to work closely with me.  I've cleverly persuaded Hubby that it's too much work to dig you out by your roots. So I'll sneak out and take a few of your strongest lower branches-and bury them under the ground. We'll make sure the ends of them stick out above the dirt a few feet from where the fenceline runs. You'll keep very still for one whole year, and then next spring you'll make your move. Your shoots will suddenly come springing up just inside my fenceline! I'll call Hubby out and exclaim, "Oh look Dear! See how a new forsythia is growing in our yard...how lovely. Do you recall how terrible I felt when you cut down the old one?" And of course he'll let me keep you.
     Just ask Miss Pinky Clematis and English Ivy;  Lady Iris and that pretty old vintage climber, Rose. I saved them all from being whacked by a pair of Hubby's dull pruners; and I'll do the same for you.          
   Have faith, dear Forsythia.
   But you must be brave--very, very brave.

Your friend,



Microfiction Monday, March 28th Edition ... Her Last Days

That chair was the only place she could rest, so I’d fluff her pillow and stuff it behind her back.

      “You cater to me so,” she’d say. “Please face me toward my old friend, the sea.”
Grandma's Goulash is now kindly hosting a microfiction meme called "Succinctly Yours." All you have to do is write a story (140 characters or less) about the photo. Every Monday she will post a new photograph. So sharpen your editing tools and give it a whirl! http://grandmas-goulash.info/2011/03/succinctly-yours-week-1/#comments

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Tractors and Fields, Guns and Geese, and a Jogging Goat

I was late for work today. Got behind a tractor. It was an old-time Massey Ferguson- with faded red paint and tines on the back. Those tines were so wide I didn't dare to pass him. So I poked along behind and decided that rather than to get all stressed out- I might as well enjoy myself.
     "After all," I mused, "A tractor is a sure-fire sign of spring. He's going to plow a field nearby. Thank God that there are fields nearby instead of gated condominiums. And fields mean corn and raspberries; Holstein cows and quarterhorses. And local food. And that is good."
    That's just one example of living in a farming town. I thought of others as I drove.
    Like hunters. I hear them early Saturday mornings shooting green-necked mallard ducks in the cornfields down by the Nooksack river. Now personally, I prefer to do my hunting with cameras and binoculars. But nonetheless I can respect a person who hunts and fishes legally. And  I have to wonder if a person who has looked into the eyes of the creature he just shot might have more respect for the life he's taken than the guy who buys his meat at Safeway and pretends that it was never really a living, breathing, cud-chewing cow. Just a thought. But back to my story. Karen and I were driving through my town (a four or five minute trip except on Sundays when the town's closed down...then 3 minutes tops.) Did I mention that Karen is my beautiful daughter-in-law from Portland? Well, we had to stop for 2 guys on bikes in the crosswalk with camouflage jackets and guns slung over their handlebars.
    "Those guys have GUNS," Karen shrieked.
    "Oh yeah, I guess they're going hunting," I reply rather nonchalantly.
    "But you can't just ride around on bikes with GUNS!" she hollered.
     I tried to calm her down. "I think it's ok in Lynden; they're just going down the road to hunt in those fields by the river."
    "No, that's not right!" She was adamant. "You have to tell them, Debbie. They shouldn't have guns in town."
    "Karen," I reasoned gently, "You can't just go up to someone with a gun and tell them that they can't have a gun. It's not a good idea."
   "Ohhhh, yeah, I guess not!"
   We both still laugh about that.
   And in Karen's defense, when I walk around Portland with her; I want to scream, "Tattoos! Mohawks and Piercings!" But she doesn't seem concerned about those crazy looking dudes, so I  just I follow her lead and walk past them quickly-and don't look them in they eye. I'm much more wary of goth-types than Schwinn-riding duck hunters!
   Hunters. That means we have wildlife. Ducks and honking Canadian geeses, trumpeter swans--they fly right over my house as regularly as a Boeing 747 scheduled flight to Vegas. But they're much prettier to see.
   I don't know where it came from; but one day a turkey walked into the street and made me slam on my brakes. My daughter was along. "That's ridiculous!" she snorted. "We had to stop for a turkey!"
   I thought it was fabulous.
   And what about the day my teenage neighbor girl came jogging down the street with her spotted Alpine goat in tow? (It was an FFA project.) Anyone would have to concede that that's a perk of rural life!
    So I finally made it to work, 10 minutes late, but with a smile. I marched up to my boss and said with pride, "Sorry I'm late. I got behind a tractor..."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I Am From...

I Am From...
by Debora Rorvig

I am from a lumber mill worker’s company house
with peeling paint and a sidewalk made of two by fours.
From faded flannel shirts that smell of pine and cedar boughs.

I am from Mason Jars of homed-canned pears,
from Dairygold milk with cream on top
in bottles on the porch.

I am from a garden plot with rows and rows of golden corn
that always wanted hoeing,
and from atop the highest branches of the Gravenstein apple tree in the Attolini’s orchard-
with apple juice dripping from my chin.

I am from saurkraut and wooden shoes-
the Millers and the Youngedykes,
and from the lively Scottish clan
who wear the McKinnon tartan.

From farmers and woodsmen
plain folk all,
who’s hands were calloused hard
but who’s hearts were tender-soft.

I am from ‘what will the neighbors think’
and ‘if you can’t say something nice,
don’t say anything at all.’

From saints and sinners who didn’t see eye to eye
but loved each other anyway,
and in their own way.

I am from the Western shores of Washington
strewn with agates,kelp and driftwood,
from Steelhead salmon, salty smoked
and chowder made from clams we dug
at Semiahmoo spit.

I am from my mother Ruby,
who taught me how to sew
on the old Singer treadle machine;
and told me all about my heritage.

And from my daddy, Raymond Claude
who took me nightcrawler hunting in the moonlight
and showed me how to bait my hook
and fish along the Nooksack River’s edge.

I am from an ancient, tattered Holy Bible kept safely on the upper shelf
with pictures of Jesus Christ
and a letter edged in black- carefully tucked inside.
There are births and deaths recorded there,
and a poem by great- great grandfather Alexander Laughlin Mckinnon
who I never met--and yet I know him
better than some I’ve met.
Precious is that Book to me.

And that is where I am from.
I created this poem as a tribute to my ancestors and a gift to my family. I used a common meme called "I Am From" based on a poem by the great George Ella Lyon, as a loose outline. You can find this outline at http://www.swva.net/fred1st/wif.htm. Try it! You'll be surprised at the memories that will stir in your heart from this exercise.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

Red Bird and Grasshopper ORIGINAL painting
This original painting entitled 'Red Bird and Grasshopper' is by Ande Cook; fine artist and illustrator, and creator of  of Chickory. She graciously gave me permission to post it with Mary Oliver's poem, 'A Summer Day'. (After you read the poem I'm sure you'll make the connection.) Anyway, I've become a BIG fan of Ande's artwork and am also very taken with her blog. You can find her, and more of her folksy, happy, whimsical work at http://www.etsy.com/shop/chickory?ref=top_trail; or visit her blog at http://www.chickory.blogspot.com/.

I've also become infatuated with Mary Oliver's poetry. Mary Oliver does with words what Ande Cook does with a paintbrush. It's as rich as a chunk of chocolate cake with and inch of fudge frosting...Enjoy!

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?

Sunday, March 20, 2011


OOPS! Today I went shopping at Fred Meyers while hubby was getting a haircut. As I went through the checkout; a nice looking gentleman standing behind me was smiling at me all the while I was there. Now this used to happen a lot when I was younger, but in these later years...not so much. So I left feeling very flattered. Once home, hubby was sitting in his recliner and I passed by him on my way into the kitchen.
He said, "Come back here a minute."
Again I thought, "I must be lookin'  good today." He asked me to turn around. Then he started to snicker. I had a big hole in my jeans all along the pocket line. It was gaping open and revealing my underwear! No wonder the gentleman at Freddy's was smiling! Too bad my underwear wasn't a little racier than those white cotton briefs! That nice gentleman is probably still chuckling!

I'm pretty sure that the sight of my derriere doe not classify as a 'thing that is lovely'; but  I shared the story because it is  pretty funny and we all need a laugh now and then!

Anything embarrassing happened to you lately that you'd dare to share?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Fall Seven Times-Stand Up Eight: A Japanese Proverb

The Koi Fish is a symbol of strength in adversity.

There is a Japanese Proverb that goes:

Fall Seven Times: Stand Up Eight

Reading this proverb has got me thinking...
It's hard to be tenacious. To keep on keeping on. To get up when we're knocked down and keep going. It seems sometimes that we will never succeed. But one thing is certain; we will never succeed if we don't stand up. And then stand up again. And again. As many times as it takes. Several years ago, I went through some things that caused me to become very discouraged with myself and my life. I confided in my good friend and mentor, Dr. Bert Dearden, feeling quite sure that he would feel sorry for me and give me some kind advice. But instead of soft words, he looked at me sternly and said, "Debora, when we walk down the road of life, we all have troubles and make mistakes. Some people, when they fall; get up, brush themselves off, and go on. Others sit by the side of the road and feel sorry for themselves. Which will you do?"

If I'm honest with myself; I have to admit that there are still areas in my life where I need to 'stand up'.

What about you? Are there things that have knocked you down and made you almost afraid to get up?
Don't stay in that place. You've got a great journey ahead of you so don't sit by the side of the road anymore. Stand up!


And reflecting upon the disaster in Japan...

There are Japanese citizens who are still suffering from the effects of radiation from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Some of those affected were infants in their mother's womb at the time of the attack. It makes my heart cry to think that once again they are facing the nightmare of radiation as a result of damage to their power plants. How frightened young mothers must be for their children and unborn! 
It will take incredible courage for them to 'stand up' again.

So, Heavenly Father, we pray for the victims of this tragedy...
Shield them from the effects of radiation,
Give them courage and grace to face the days ahead 
Let peace return to their hearts,
 and happiness to their homes. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

私達の日本の友人のため (For Our Japanese Friends)

Shichi-Go-SanJust a note to let you know that for the month of March, all proceeds from our Etsy shop will benefit our friends in Japan. So you can buy things you like and help people all at once!  If you scroll down toward the end of this page, you'll see some of the fun items we are offering...we have vintage patterns, plates, aprons, books, and more. .http://www.etsy.com/shop/rubysgirls

(thank you)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Grandma Debbie's Child-Rearing Tip #2: The 3-Step Time Out

by Charles Burton Barber

I used to think that putting my child in a corner was an alternative to a spanking or some other kind of punishment. But just sending a child to a time out is not really tackling the source of the problem; the bad behavior. However, timing a child out can be a powerful tool when used properly. The technique I am sharing today is not original. Some wonderful specialists I work with taught it to me...and we use it often in our classroom.

Today, we'll work with the following scenario:  Your 4-year-old daughter doesn't want to share her toy with Tommy and has just smacked him in the face with her Barbie doll.

Step 1: The Cool Down Stage
 Remove the child (and yourself) from the stressful situation. Studies have shown that when a person is very upset or angry; trying to reason with them is futile. Logic doesn't work with an overly emotional person...(hasn't your husband said that a million times when you've argued?) And they actually can't even hear much of what is said to them when they are in an emotional lather. So it is best to give your child a place and an opportunity to calm down. (You probably need it too.) This isn't the time to send them to their room to watch TV or play video games. Find a quiet place in the house with few distractions where you can keep an eye on them from a little distance away. Make sure the spot has a place to sit and maybe a table or desk if you have it. (If not, no problem.) Send (or carry) your daughter to the time-out space. Sit her down and tell her that she needs to stay there for 3 minutes with her head down on the desk. Make your request clear, calm, and concise.  (Don't yell or lecture at this point...remember, she won't even really hear you yet. ) Set a timer for 3 minutes and go about your business until the timer goes off. (Note: if she gets up, you must return her there and keep her there; even if you have to corner her and the timer doesn't start until she is sitting quietly. Tell her so.)

Step 2: Defining the Problem
After she's sat for 3 minutes go to her and ask her if she is ready to talk about what happened. If she's crying, whimpering or pouting; she's not ready; so set the timer for another 3 minutes. However, if she's calmed down and agrees, you can proceed and you are ready to define the problem with her. Say, "Why are you in time out?" If she says, "I don't know", rephrase the question. "What did you do when you were playing with Tommy?"
Many children will say, "I was bad."  Since you don't want your children to think that they are just plain bad people, you need to clarify that what she did was not nice.
You can do this by discussing what action she did that caused her to be in time out. Sometimes kids are so upset at the time they lash out; they aren't very aware of their physical reactions. So if she says, "I was mad at Tommy," you'll need to make her aware of what she did.

"What were you doing when you were mad?" 
"I was yelling at Tommy because he took my toy."
"What were your hands doing?"
"I was mad."
"Yes, and what were your hands doing when you were mad?"
"They were hitting Tommy because he was being mean."
"Yes, your hands were hitting Tommy."

Step 3: Discussing and Practicing the Correct Behavior
Going on with the discussion...

"Is it OK for you to hit people when you're mad at them?"
"He started it."
"Maybe he did. But is it OK for you to hit people?"
"What can you do differently when you are mad?"
"I could tell on him."
"Yes, you could. What else?"
"I could play with a different toy."
"Uh huh, you sure could. Could you use your words and ask him to leave your Barbie alone?"
"OK, lets practice that. Here's your doll. Pretend that I am Tommy and I just took your doll away. What can you say?"
"Give me my doll!"
"Great! What if he doesn't do it?"
"I can tell you."
"Yep. So  let's try that right now."

I'm sure you can see how the rest of this goes. You practice the behaviors that you'd like your daughter to exhibit when she's upset. End with a big hug and praise for how well she calmed down and figured out a better way to deal with Tommy.

Consistency is key; so always follow the same format with your time outs...the timed cooling down, followed by 'why are you here?' and ending with the discussion about alternative behaviors.

The idea here is to give your child a safe place to recover from their anger; and to give them an arsenal of acceptable behaviors that they can use when they are upset.

Now, isn't that better than just sending them off to the corner to pout?

by Bessie Pease Gutmann

A Celtic Blessing

“May the blessing of light be on you, light without and light within.

May the blessed sunlight shine upon you and warm your heart till it glows,

Like a great peat fire, so that the stranger may come

and warm himself at it, as well as the friend.

And may the light shine out of the eyes of you,

like a candle set in the windows of a house,

Bidding the wanderer to come in out of the storm.

And may the blessing of the rain be on you - the soft sweet rain.

May it fall upon your spirit so that all the little flowers may spring up,

And shed their sweetness on the air.

And may the blessing of the great rains be on you,

that they beat upon your spirit and wash it fair and clean,

and leave there many a shining pool, and sometimes a star.

And may the blessing of the earth be on you - the great round earth;

May you ever have a kindly greeting for people you pass

as you are going along the roads.

And now may the Lord bless you, and bless you kindly.”

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Grandma Debbie's Child-rearing tip #1: Keep Your Promises and Follow Through with Your Threats

Someone recently asked me to post some ideas for child-rearing on my blog. While I am the first to say that I am not an 'expert' on this subject; I suppose that raising five children, having 10 grandchildren,  a bunch of psychology, and working in a Special Ed classroom has given me a few insights that I'd be more than happy to share. Most of what I will share are ideas for helping your younger child when he/she is acting out in an unacceptable manner. (You don't need my help if they are acting like angels, now do you?) I will try to limit my comments to simple, concrete solutions for everyday situations. As every child is different and every situation varies; these are just tools I use at work or with members of our family. (From time to time; try them on your husband--you'll be amazed at how well they work!)

Tip #1:  Keep Your Promises and Follow Through with Your Threats

I believe this is the biggest mistake I see parents and even educators make. And if you don't get this part right; nothing else you do will really be effective with your child. Why? It's quite simple;  if you are random, your child's behavior will be random.

So here's a  scenario:
Johnny is throwing a tantrum because he wants you to buy him a Transformer at Target. But you're shopping for the neighbor boy's birthday present-not for Johnny. You start by saying, "No honey, we're buying a present for Bobby today." Of course this doesn't work for Johnny. He wants the toy. He starts to yell and cry. You are mortified because people are giving you and your child dirty looks. You feel like his behavior is a bad reflection on you as a parent. So you say loudly, "If you don't stop shouting we are leaving the store." (But you can't leave because the birthday party is in half an hour and you need to get this gift and get outta here!)
Here's the deal...if you say it...do it! Be late for the party if you need to. Miss the party if necessary. Your word is more important than arriving on time for the party. However, many parents cave in and end up bartering with the child..."If you're good we'll buy you a candy bar at the check-out..."  UH OH! Now you have just taught your child the art of negotiation. He's learned that his tears will  at least get him something he kind of likes, and maybe what he really wants! Just like when you sold your first home; you asked for more; hoping to get slightly less. Think about it...if  you cried every time you went into the jewelry store because you really really wanted that gorgeous $2000 sapphire and diamond ring; and your husband felt so bad that he bought you a nice $400 tennis bracelet to placate you-wouldn't you cry every time you went looking at jewelry? I would!

 So, if your child is in the habit of whining and crying in the store...try this:
Before you go inside, say calmly but firmly,  "Honey, we are shopping for Bobby's birthday. We are only going to buy a toy for Bobby. You will not be getting a toy today. There will be no crying or misbehaving in the store today, OK?" Now whatever you do... keep your word. Do not buy your child anything today. But if you manage to get out of the store without tears or a battle, praise your child. Praise him to dad, to his siblings, to everyone who will listen!  Say, "Oh Auntie Linda, did you know that when we went shopping today for a birthday gift for Bobby; Johnny didn't ask for anything! He's so awesome!" But if he does cry, just get the gift and let him cry all the while you are shopping. If you are with another adult, give them the money with instructions to buy the gift and take Johnny to the car. Do not respond to his tears with a reward. And do not respond with threats, shouts or emotion equal to your child's. What you can (and should) do though, is later that night when all of the drama over toys has subsided; take Johnny aside and calmly say: "Johnny, do you remember how you cried in the store today? Well I just want you to know that I didn't like shopping with all of that crying...so next time I go shopping, I will have to have daddy (or auntie, grandma, or whoever) babysit you." Johnny will protest, but you must keep this promise and go shopping very soon without him. (Even if it's just to the corner store for milk.) And when you go, be sure to say (very sincerely and without any sarcasm), "It's too bad that I can't take you this time. Bummer. Next time we go, I know you won't cry!"  And of course, take him next time. The same rules should apply with every trip to the store until Johnny know that tears will not work and that he cannot negotiate with you for a lesser treat. It might take a few trips to the store (with and without Johnny) to get your point across. That's OK. Just stay with it. It'll get better sooner than you might imagine!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Everyday Blessings

This morning as I stuffed my 14-day pill organizer with multi-vitamins, fish oil capsules, vitamin C and D and calcium- a certain mindfulness overtook me.  "Sunday...Monday...Tuesday...Wednesday....God please bless my body on each of these days. Thank you for these vitamins that you've given me to enhance my health. And thank you for the weeks ahead. I don't know what's in store for me on each of these days--but You do."

Then I thought about the Japanese people. Two weeks ago their lives were  quite ordinary. Maybe a woman- a wife and mother, a grandmother like me was filling her pill organizer and thinking that her life would go on as usual. But today instead of taking her vitamins--she may be scrambling for water and shelter, trying to shield herself from nuclear fallout and perhaps searching for missing loved ones.

"Lord, thank you for the ordinary-ness of my life. For electricity in my home. For this glass of  clean, clear water I'm drinking with my vitamins. Thanks that I know where my children and husband are; and for phone and internet service that enables me to communicate with them whenever I wish. Thanks for the warmth blowing out from the furnace ducts and the coziness of my little house. Thanks for the coziness of my little world."

Like a dangling watch swinging back and forth in pendulum fashion; the repetition of our days can hypnotize us.  We walk through life in a trance; uable to see and feel the blessedness that surrounds us. And then, Snap! The trance is broken. We awaken to see horrifying photos of people trying to cope with monstrous problems-struggling to put their shattered lives back into order. And like one suddenly awakened we look around and see again; as if for the first time; all of the goodness in our lives. And we are grateful for small things. Which are really big things. We just forgot about them...until now.

And so...

May you have -

Walls for the wind

And a roof for the rain,

And drinks bedside the fire

Laughter to cheer you

And those you love near you,

And all that your heart may desire

Celtic Blessing

Blessings to you, wherever you are; and especially if you are in Japan.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Wardrobe Woes

My closet has been causing me some anxiety for a while now. It seems like every morning I stand in front of it looking at things I don't like, or that don't fit, and that don't seem to go with anything else I have. It's frustrating to start the day that way. So today was the day to make some changes... 
Bye-bye shirts that don't cover my tummy...

Adios to pants that are too low in front, are high-waters
or that drag on the ground..

And 'bidabidabida, that's all folks' to my jackets
that won't close in the front, and feel as tight
as a swaddled baby.

I took 17 garments out of the closet today. I've learned from experience not to throw them out or donate them just yet. Over the years my weight has fluctuated up and down like Oprah's; and as a result I've gotten rid of, and repurchased several wardrobes from size 8 to size 1x.

The thinking has gone like this, "Well, I've lost all this weight-so if I keep my big clothes, it's like admitting that I'm gonna gain the weight back." So I've donated the clothes and then gained the weight back. Then my mind says, "You can't go around in clothes that don't fit...just buy some bigger clothes that look nice on you--accept your size and move on!" So I buy bigger clothing. Later, I go on a diet and lose weight. I buy smaller clothing...and  so the cycle continues. Well, I'm not playing that game with myself any more. I'll store the things that I love, but that don't fit. If my weight changes, I'll shop from my stored clothing bins instead of Macys.  And yes, I do realize that the ultimate solution is to stabilize the weight.

But in my defense, my weight hasn't changed that much over the past year. It's the clothes! Really!
It seems like after just a few washings my t-shirts are shrunk to above the navel and the cotton blouses that I just purchased are too tight across the bust. Is it  just cheap fabric, or am I laundering them incorrectly? What's your secret for keeping your clothing from shrinking (and your body from increasing?) Inquiring minds want to know...


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Heartbroken Again

Collectors Plate by Annie Fitzgerald- Dear God I Think I've Broken My Heart...
There are days that my job breaks my heart. Today is one of those days. A very special student of mine moved away today. At this very moment she and her family are driving across the country to a new job and a new life.

I knew in my heart when I entered the education field some eight years ago, that I would be working with poor children. This is my passion, probably because I grew up poor. We always had enough to eat, a home, and clothes on our back; but not a lot more than that. I remember one really hard time when my mother was unable to work for about a year because of complications from a broken ankle and Dad couldn't work because he had emphysema. Tough times. But not nearly as hard as some of the things my students have to endure. Some of my students face homelessness, living in foster homes, hunger, learning disabilities, and yes; relocation is a by-product of being economically disadvantaged.

My little friend's family, though, is very fortunate; her daddy has landed a good job-and for that I am so grateful. And I've certainly seen more tragic things than the relocation of a family. It's just that I'll really miss this precious child. She has a gentleness and kindness about her that is so uncommon. I wish you could see her pretty face; how it lights up when she is praised or learns a new skill.  She's been really stoic about the move; but today was tough. She didn't cry; but when she handed me her spelling test;  she'd drawn a picture of herself on it; with tears falling from her eyes. My eyes welled up with tears too, when I saw it, but I held it together for her sake.

It seems that lately there's been a lot of bad press about my profession. Some say we're not doing a good job. Others think we earn too much money. I can only speak for my situation. My wages are more that 50% less than what I was earning in the business sector. Financially, it makes no sense for me to do what I do. But I do it because I love children. I love to see that special glint in their eyes when they've just caught on to what I'm teaching them. I love their enthusiasm; their innocence and their inquisitiveness. And I want to make a difference in their lives. I work hard at it, but it isn't always easy. My heart gets broken alot. But it's worth it...they're worth it.

So, goodbye, my gentle little friend. God bless you and keep you safe in the palm of His hand, and once again, I'll trust in Him to bind up my broken heart as He has promised me in his Word.

Luke 4:18  The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ugly Duckling?

This is what I see as I drive to work.  Trumpeter swans. Fields bursting with new life. Trees and mountains. How blessed am I?

Hans Christian Anderson told a tale about a swan. Do you remember how it went? It was called "The Ugly Duckling". It's one of my favorite childhood stories. The mama duck hatches her brood and finds one very awkward and ugly duckling in the bunch. The poor odd duckling is banished from the barnyard. He is heartbroken because he is so different from every other creature he has ever seen.
Do you ever feel like an ugly duckling? I'm quite sure we all do from time to time. But I want to remind you about the end of the story today. Here is how Hans Christian Anderson described it...

Just in front of him he saw three beautiful white swans advancing toward him from a thicket; with rustling feathers they swam lightly over the water. The duckling recognized the majestic birds, and he was overcome by a strange melancholy.
"I will fly to them, the royal birds, and they will hack me to pieces, because I, who am so ugly, venture to approach them! But it won't matter; better be killed by them than be snapped at by the ducks, pecked by the hens, or spurned by the henwife, or suffer so much misery in the winter."
So he fluew into the water and swam towards the stately swans; they saw him and darted towards him with ruffled feathers.
"Kill me, oh, kill me!" said the poor creature, and bowing his head towards the water he awaited his death. But what did he see reflected in the transparent water? He saw below him his own image, but he was no longer a clumsy dark gray bird, ugly and ungainly, he was himself a swan! It does not matter in the least having been born in a duckyard, if only you come out of a swan's egg!...
The lilacs bent their boughs right down into the water before him, and the bright sun was warm and cheering, and he rustled his feathers and raised his slender neck aloft, saying with exultation in his heart: "I never dreamt of so much happiness when I was the Ugly Duckling!"

Oh dear friend, I wish for you today that you might see your true reflection in the Water of Life. You are accepted in the Beloved*; so very dear to the heart of the Father. And beautiful; so beautiful.
Believe it. Then spread your wings... and fly.

*Ephesians 1:6  ...he hath made us accepted in the beloved,

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Help! I Need Advice on My Bathroom Remodel!

The bathroom remodel is about to begin. We're gutting the old bathroom and redoing it from the ground up. (Well, we're paying someone to do it for us. My hubby is a genius with motors, cars and such; but he get's  all twitchy when you start talking about home repairs.) My original scheme was to use vintage hexagonal tiling (white and black) on the floors with white fixtures, ceramic tile around the tub with a few diamonds in black; and a white vanity with a black granite counter top. That was the plan. Until hubby got involved. He hated the hexagonal floor tiles; which meant totally revamping our plan. And though I hate to admit it; he's right this time. Our house was built in the 60's or 70's and is a ranch style. It really lends itself much better to a kind of Pacific Northwest style than to that retro style that I had envisioned. It's just harder for me to do more modern things because I was raised in cottages. It's what I  know. So here's what we have so far... I'm going for a sort of warm beachy feel with the sand colors and the accent tiles- lots of texture. Please, tell me what you think!

Floor tile (Its really lighter than this photo)

Tile for bathtub surround

Accent border tile for bathtub surround-glass and granite-again, my camera's playing tricks. The glass tile closest to the bottom of the picture is much more peachy than it shows and is  almost identical to the shade of the bathtub surround tile.
Vanity counter top-called desert sand

Possible vanity, except with the sand colored top instead of black
The fixtures will be bisque instead of white; sort of a creamy ivory color.  Our bathroom is large enough for a vanity in one section, and a pedestal sink on the other end, which is what we plan to do. The pedestal sink will also be bisque. Hardware will be brushed nickel as well as the light fixtures.

The big concerns you can help me with are:
  • Is the vanity too dark? Should I go with a lighter wood? (Remember, I originally wanted a white vanity but that went out the window with all of the bisque and sandy colors I'm using.) And should it be a little more rustic and less transitional in style?
  • What kind of shower curtain/window treatment would you use with these elements?
  • Am I making the right choice with brushed nickel hardware?
Thanks for your input. Be honest--I'm open to constructive criticism!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Confession: I'm Imperfect but I Like My Hair!

I'm going to make a big confession here. It's about my nose. It's just that well, it's not perfect. It isn't small and cute. Nor does it turn up at the end. Not that it's huge or anything-but it is just a little larger, a little bumpier and a little more severe than I'd like. For years I've been trying to conceal my imperfect nose by implementing all kinds of beauty tricks.

  • "Don't wear heavy bangs," they say, "or it will draw attention to your nose."
  • "Never pull your bangs totally away from your face," others advise, "or your nose will be too sharp."
  • "Horn-rimmed glasses will make you look like Groucho Marx."
  • "A line of white foundation down the center of it will make it look narrower."
The rules are never-ending.

The ironic thing about trying to conceal a large nose is that well, try as you will, it's always there, right in the middle of your face. It's not exactly like trying to cover a large waistline or fat shins. After all, you can't put a sweater on your nose!

But this week I had an ephipany of sorts.  It began when I was reading a fashion magazine that said something to the effect that French women don't try to hide their imperfections; they celebrate them. "Hmmm," I thought wryly. "I've got a lot to celebrate."  But all joking aside, something clicked in my thinking.  I do admire that certain style that French women seem to have. They wear very little makeup, simple clothing, and look fabulous at any age. So it occurred to me that they might be on to something. And as it happened the very next next day I had an appointment to have my hair done. I wanted to do something different with it; so while driving to the salon I considered my options. Should I go shorter, layered, curly or straight, sideswept bangs or wispy ones?  Blonde or brown...or both? Of course the main consideration was: how will these styles look with my nose?

Then I heard a voice speak to me from within. It was clear and concise.
 "Ignore your nose."
 Oh my gosh!  Ignore my nose? I was flabbergasted. Could I just brazenly walk into that salon and get any old hair-do I please without regard for how it will look with my nose?
I felt though, that the voice was from God.
Now I can just about see your eyes rolling back in your head as you snort, " Ha! She thinks God is talking to her about her nose!"
Actually, I do. He talks to me about lots of things. And while I don't think the size or shape of my nose bothers Him one little bit; I do believe that He's concerned if it bothers me.
So when I hear something from within (not in my head or ears, but from somewhere deep inside of me); and if it surprises me because it is soooo not how I usually view things; and if it releases me from some kind of skewed or wrong thinking; and if it in no way contradicts the Bible or harms me or others; that fits my criteria as a word from God.

So I said, "Lord, did you just say to ignore my nose?"
"But, Lord, what if I get a haircut that makes me look bad?"
"You've been spending so much time looking at your nose, that's all you see. You've lost sight of your hair and the beautiful features on your face. Just ignore your nose."
At that moment I got it. I'd been hyperfocused on one aspect of my face to the point that I had lost all perspective. Not unlike the anorexic who only sees a fat person in the mirror.
Why do we do that to ourselves anyway? How often in department store dressing rooms do we hear women criticizing their bodies.  They anxiously scan the mirror for every defect and complain that they're too fat, thin, flabby, short, tall, flat-chested, or buxom. What they are really saying is, "I'm just not perfect."
"Well, Duh! Join the human race, girls."
So guess what? I had my hair done without giving my nose a thought... and I love it! It frames my face beautifully and the color accentuates my soft blue eyes and fair skin tone. I've never been so happy with a hair-do!
I can't really say that I am celebrating my nose. I'm not ready to hang garland from it or paint it red like a clown. But I am ready to celebrate the fact that I have beautiful eyes, high cheekbones and a nice smile.
Maybe you could do the same. C'mon. Could you just once ignore your thighs when you buy that new skirt and think about how nice it makes your legs look? Does that pink paisley scarf  show off your pretty skin? Maybe those new shoes make you look tall and lithe.Then say it. Right out loud. It's not arrogant or prideful to think that you look nice. Pride comes from comparing yourself to others and trying to outdo them. You're not doing that, are you? Of course not. And no, you're not excusing the fact that you've been eating too many Cheetos and need to take a few more walks.
You're just saying that you like something about the person you see in the mirror and that in this whole wide world; you're one of a kind. Now that's something to celebrate!

P.S.  It would thrill me if you'd drop me a comment and complete the following sentence:
"I'm imperfect, but I like my_______________"

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What's Cookin'...Portuguese Soup

 Well, it's still raining what almost feels like sleet and the wind is gusting to nearly 50 mph here in the Northwest corner.  Soup weather.  I've had this recipe for Portuguese Soup for years and years. It's easy, hearty, and good for you.

Portuguese Soup

1 pkg of sausage -the kind that comes in a casing; like kielbasa.
( I use smoked turkey sausage to reduce fat content.) 
2  16-oz cans of kidney beans, drained
2  16-oz cans of garbanzo beans, drained
2  16-oz cans of stewed tomatoes (or diced if you prefer)
1 cup each of the following: celery, potatoes, carrots and onions (big chunks)
4 cans of beef broth
2 cups of water

Chop the sausage and brown it in a large pot. Add all other ingredients. Cook over medium heat until vegetables are tender; or crockpot all day (about 10-12 hours) on high temperature. That's it!

I like to serve this (and all soups) with a  hot loaf of french or sourdough bread. This recipe will easily serve 4; probably more. You can taylor this recipe to your family's likes and dislikes. Be creative and add any kind of veggies you like. I generally double up on the potatoes. And sometimes when I want a richer beefy flavor, I throw in a few teaspoons of aujus mix for good measure. If you're not worried about fat content; use some really nice kielbasa or summer sausage. It tastes better than turkey sausage.



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