March 29, 2011

A Pinch Of This, A Dash Of That

Well, it's past time to hit the "New Post" button, once again! 
Let me start by saying how wonderfully the tea party went.
It was splendiferous!
It was fantasmical!
It was Top Hole! Spiffing! A and B the C of D!
(For those of you, unfortunate souls, who have never read Brian Jacques books, that means "above and beyond the call of duty.")

Now, without her permission (which I'm sure she'd grant if I asked, and will approve of when she sees them on this post) I shall now post my favorite pictures of the day, as taken by Miss Brianne, because I was enough of an imbecile to do everything but remember to grab the camera.. 
I am a vat of fail-sauce.




These are peanut butter and jelly...ducks. 
*grin*
And this is the lovely Brianne herself, as edited by me. I couldn't resist putting in a mustache, and then a tiara, and before I knew it, I'd ruined a perfectly wonderful photo with my senseless-stickerings, something I am feeling very sheepish about. 


All in all, it was a satisfactory and fun afternoon. Which was followed by a night of dancing English country reels at a Victorian ball. 
In only a few short hours, I went from cooking food and cleaning teacups to wearing a ballgown and dancing the night away.
Did I feel like Cinderella? 
No.
I don't think Cinderella's fairy godmother was her best friend's father, and I doubt the pumpkin carriage resembled a fifteen passenger van.
But I think I am far more blessed than Cinderella, especially since I didn't get stuck with some silly prince, didn't lose my shoes, and  got to go to church the next day.
*
~
I will say one of my favorite things about the day were my ginger meringue cookies, which tasted so amazing, I'm still thinking about them. 
They were so amazing, in fact, that I'm going to post the recipe here in hopes that you too will make them and love them like I do.
Then I won't have to be greedy all alone.

Ginger Meringue Cookies
Ingredients:
4 large egg whites
Pinch of salt
1 cup sugar, divided
1 cup (aprox. 6 oz.) crystallized ginger, cut into 1/4 inch dice
2 cookie sheets lined with parchment.

Directions.
Set racks in upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 250 degrees.
Combine the egg whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer and whip them with the whisk attachment until they are very white, opaque, and just beginning to hold their shape.
Whip in 1/2 cup of the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, continuing to whip the whites until they are stiff but not dry.
Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a large rubber spatula to fold in the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and the chopped ginger as well.
Use a teaspoon to form irregular mounds about an inch apart on the baking pans. 
Bake the cookies for about 45 minutes until they are crisp, but still slightly moist within. 
Leave the cookies on the pans to cool, placing the pans on a wire rack.

These are so delicious. The crystallized ginger lends just enough kick to make them spectacular without setting your mouth on fire. They are also great for your digestion, and there are only about 16-26 calories in each cookie. As a note, chopping the ginger can be tough, as it is pretty sticky stuff, so I suggest coating your knife with cooking spray first. 
Well, it's time to go and shower, and then attack my latest novel from the library, followed by Poirot on the telly, knitting, more reading, and then bed. 
Cheerio dear followers!

March 25, 2011

In Which I Play The Catch-Up Game

Oh dear.
I've been most remiss in my blogging obligations these past few days.
Do you want to know how many times in the last three days I've thought "Hm, I ought to blog that," or "I really need to comment on this," or "Time for a new post!...later...".
I've been working every day, but that is no excuse since there is plenty of time in between work, sleep, and mischief in which to write a blog post. 
I'm ashamed of my procrastination. 
*sigh*
However, great was my joyful surprise yesterday when I found that there was a mistake in the schedule, and I did not, in fact, have to work today! This is all well and good in general, but I have my reasons for happiness.
I'm holding a tea party tomorrow! 
I'm planning it as a small celebration of Spring, among just a handful of friends, and I won't let the fact that the forecast went from yesterday's predicting a sunny Saturday to today's which says expect nothing but thunderstorms tomorrow. Bipolar weather is what makes Spring so fabulous, after all. 
I was planning on getting home tonight, staying up late making food, sleeping on the couch, (the family room is immediately adjacent to the kitchen), waking up early to do more baking, and then cleaning everything top-to- bottom. Now I have two days in which to clean, bake, and otherwise prepare (although I'll probably still sleep on the couch and wake up early. The couch is, sadly, far more comfortable than my old box-spring mattress. I wouldn't mind sleeping there every night). 
And it also means extra time for blogging.
"What will be at the tea party?" You may ask.
There will be cupcakes, of course. 

{Image Source Unknown}

And I somehow managed to have some self control when I bought my teas at work yesterday. I left with only three different kinds of loose tea (cinnamon orange spice, rooibos chai, and jasmine phoenix pearl- the latter two being my favorites) and I plan on serving some green-mint tea, home-made chai, and hot chocolate as well.

{Image Source Unknown}

But I'm mostly excited about the cupcakes.

{Image Source Unknown} 

I'm going to go for a mock cheesecake-style cake (I call it the cupcake butt!) and a cherry topping, decked with powdered sugar. 
(For those of you who don't know, I am the cupcake queen. I would gladly make cupcakes for a living, and eat them for the rest of my life. I even have a shirt and wear a tiara while I bake.)

{Image via me!}

Either way, I can't wait, and I'm still praying that the weather ends up sunny- despite channel 7's grim predictions- that way I can put up some chairs outside and we can meander around in the sunshine. 

I've been spending all of my other extra minutes and stolen hours planning my veggie garden (which needs to be begun indoors before transplanted into the garden.

{Image Source Unknown}

I'm dying to grow some tomatoes. 

Also, I've been working on getting this
{Image via me!}

To look a little more like this.
{Image via me!}

It's nice having one's books at least somewhat organized. Especially when they have been threatening to eat your entire workspace for a few months now. 

Well, I'm off to start that cleaning list I mentioned earlier. 
I can hear birds singing outside of my window, and I will confess, it's one of the loveliest sounds in the world. Flowers are blooming (I need to buy a bouquet or two this afternoon, for the table centerpiece) and Spring is truly coming to stay. 
I hope you all have a wonderful, fabulous Friday!

March 21, 2011

Hullo, Rainy Day!


It's rainy today.
And, as I have always (well, always minus the past few weeks during which I seem to have been craving nothing but absolute sunshine) loved the rain.
I want to splash around in puddles in a pair of polka-dot rubber galoshes.
I have spent the last two years wishing with all of my heart for a pair of rubber galoshes, but I still don't own any. I've had my eye on they ones they carry at Target for a while now- by far the most affordable I've seen anywhere. Who knows: maybe I'll get my wish for my eighteenth birthday! (It's highly unlikely, but I can dream, can't I?!)
I think the I've been so caught up in my craving for sunshine and flowers, I've forgotten that rain helps create the flowers, and how beautiful the sun looks as it breaks through the clouds. 


The following two pictures were taken in Idaho right as a storm was dying down.
If there is one thing I can boast of about the place I live, it's that we have a fantastic sky. Living in a massive valley does have its perks. 
(In case you're wondering, I only tweaked the first one a very little on Picnik, and hardly at all on the second- those vivid colors are 100% God-made: I just added a vignette border.)



Isn't God's creation stunning?
I would give up my telly, I would (consider) giving up my books, just to able to sit outside and watch the beauty that surrounds each one us; the beauties that we try to arrange and take credit for, but yet remain uncontrolled by the hands of men; the beauties that we try to understand with our microscopes, lectures, and science, but never quite grasp the intricacies of.
I look around me at this world that God created for a purpose, and filled with so many wonderful things, and am awe-struck.
And you expect me to believe that all of this happened by accident?
*
{"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth..."}
*

What are your thoughts on rainy days? Do they fill you with delight the way they do me?
Do you look out at the clouds and think to yourself  "Hooray! Where's my blanket, book, and tea?"
Whichever you prefer- rain or shine- be thankful for both. 
Without either, there would be no flowers. 

March 18, 2011

Fancy Friday (Alternative Edition)- Bloom Where You Are Planted

Okay, so I have no idea where any of these pictures came from- I pick and chose from a collection I have been amassing. I do not own any of the above images, I just edited and put them together!

This is a quote I ran across today over at The Country Blossom's blog this morning. It's on her header:
"Blooming Where I'm Planted".
This struck me a rather unexpected blow when I saw it. I couldn't decide why, until I realized it was because it's something that I personally haven't been doing. 
That one little phrase "Bloom where you are planted" has, like so many other phrases, lost all meaning entirely with its overuse and commonness. It's simply become another cute saying on a Hallmark card, or something carved into a poly-resin decoration you stick in your garden planter. However this saying is so steeped in meaning when you pause- really and truly- and reflect on it.
How many times in a day do we wish for something else?
How often do we complain about what we have?
This led me to inquire after what God has to say on the subject. The Bible, being the wonderful, never-failing book that it is, touches on the subject often. Here are just a few that I feel hit the nail on the head, so to speak, and prick my conscience most. 
*
{"Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me."}- Hebrews 13: 5-6

{"But Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content."}- I Timothy 6: 6-8

{"...there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee."}- Psalm 73: 25

Although these are speaking more in reference to material possessions and money, it is also 100% applicable to being content with where God has placed you, be it the time, the location, or the situation. There is always a reason.
This is something I struggle with greatly for a big reason: I do not at all like where I am.
It is no great secret that I do not care for the state of Idaho. I love the people here- the friends I have made, the way people you pass on the street smile at you, how you can have an open and fun conversation with total strangers- but not the place. I was born and raised by the sea- I've got sea water in my veins, and sand between my toes- and I miss it more than anything else in the world
I'm also a gypsy. 
I love to travel, to roam, to go from place-to-place.
I eagerly await the day when I have a drivers licence and the ability to pack up a car and go exploring- even if it's limited to within the state or the ones next door. 
What I really yearn to do, more than anything, is travel all over the world. I don't want to see a little, I want to experience it all. 24, 901.55 miles (as measured from the equator) of places, people, traditions, ethnicities, landmarks, thoughts, and beauty. 
I realize, though, that my chances for doing any of this- at least anytime in the near future- are so slim they can almost be said to be nonexistent. 
Instead, I'm living in Idaho- land of the famous potatoes- and staring out a window onto a stagnant view.
But God has put me here. 
And if I have learned anything in the past six years, it's that God does everything for a reason. 
Whether or not we will find that reason, emerge triumphant on the other side of trouble, or be happy at all, is all based entirely on how much we trust him. 
God has taken me uphill and down, through fire, through ice, through pain, and through happiness, and he's never left my side.
I only wish I could say that I've not left his. 
So, today, with you readers as my witnesses, I have a declaration to make!
I am going to bloom where I am planted.
I have been given this patch of soil, plenty of sunshine, and am being tended by the greatest Vine-keeper, Husbandman, and Gardener. So I'm going to put down my roots and soak up the sun, the rain, and whatever else comes my way. 
I will look upon weeds, not as evil plants that aren't wanted, but as plants that simply are growing in the wrong spot. 
I will be firmly protected from garden pests (Hello, darts of Satan!) and should I happen to catch a disease, God knows exactly how to take care of it ("If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us are sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness"). 
I'm going to be one Fancy Flower.  


(On that note, I wonder what kind of flower I would be? Zinnia? Peony? Hydrangea? Rose? Daisy? What about you? Have you ever wondered this?)



In the end, I'm not sure what makes this Friday Fancy (besides the fancy banquet I get to go to tonight!). I guess what I'm trying to say is: be a fancy flower- flowers can only appear once the plant puts down roots and decides to grow. 


Bloom Where You Are Planted 

March 16, 2011

Sew What?

It's 7:49 AM. 
I've been awake for almost two hours, cognizant for just over half of that time, and already facing a (dare I say The?) confoosling conundrum for the day: what ought I to do with all this crafty energy I seem to have stumbled upon?
(As a side note, I think this whole daylight savings thing has thrown my internal schedule, chemical balance, and general brain out of wack. I'm waking up early, getting things done, feeling motivated, crafty, and mischievous, being nice, smiling at people- I mean, what is wrong with me?!)
In the past two or three days, I've been hit by terribly strong wave creative energy and inspiration. I've completed two cross stitch patterns (working on my third), been designing and working on templates so I can create some of those nifty lacy cupcake wrappers, perused my knitting patterns for something new to cast on, written out some new cupcake recipes, started collecting the supplies to sew a dress, and contemplated doing a replica of Van Gogh's Starry Night. 
It's exhausting
And, of course, when I first felt the initial crafty-vibes coming on, I inevitably wandered over to Etsy (my usual source for encouraging and inspiring these crafty waves into actual projects) where I have come excessively close to buying many various and wonderful things I really can't afford.

Such as




As it is, these dainties I can resist if I repeat to myself that I could either make them myself, or that I would never actually use them.
However, what is more dangerous are the books.
Or, more specifically, the crafting books.
I can't make the books.
I could (and would) use the books.
And these are the books I'm currently craving and feeling unable to resist.









I'm really really really loving Amy Butler's books and style right now. 
And as to Breeze- I've wanted that glossy book-like magazine since it was released by the talented Kim Hargreaves back in 2009. It's simply that I have trouble justifying the my spending $17-30 on a magazine. 
In any case, I'm very thankful I am about to leave for the dentist (Well, that was a lie: I'm not thankful at all, but my budget is), and then to work for the day. Otherwise, I may buy either one or all of them. As it is, I need you all to comment repeatedly telling me that, No, I am not allowed to buy the books, and to go scrub the kitchen floor, or some such neglected chore. 

Once again I'm feeling very chipper, and it's actually an emotion being encouraged by the steady rainfall outside (rain outside means cupcakes inside later). I hope you are all feeling encouraged and bright today as well, but if not my thoughts and prayers are with you, and I hope these verses will follow you as well (and by follow, I mean stalk, hang over, and then viciously attack leaving you surprised and encouraged).  

{"...be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might."}
Ephesians 6:10

{"One thing have I desired of the Lord, that I will seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple."}
Psalm 27:4

{"Rejoice in the Lord always: and again, I say, Rejoice."}
Philippians 4:4


March 14, 2011

A Head Full Of A Heart-full.

{Image via }

Good evening all!
I am parked on my family's downstairs sofa, in my favorite green and blue polka-dotted pajama bottoms, Threadless tee, cozy cable slippers, and hand-knit mossy-green arm/legwarmers, typing away at my computer whilst making a half-hearted study of the art of container potting and gardening. It's quiet in the kitchen, where it still smells of tonight's tender pork pot-roast and a loaf of golden sweet cornbread, and I can hear the murmuring of my many siblings as they begin to drop off for the night. The picture on the telly is one of a blank screen- one of my favorite "shows"- and night is settling over all like a comforting blanket. I can feel its affects as it tugs at the edges of my consciousness, leading me towards a world of "sweet dreams, and health and quiet breathing."
I am so content.
So happy.
And so tired.

"What is bringing about this strange complacency of mind and emotion?" you might ask.
The answer?
Spring.

{Image via}

I've said it recently, and I shall say it again: I'm not normally like this.
I love Winter. I love the cold. 
But this year I can't wait for the chill nip and bite, for Jack Frost and his cronies, to all head for the hills, vanquished by the Sun and her happy rays. 
I've been investigating the world of gardening again.
I've done this in the past, but it never quite turns out how I want it to. This year, however, I'm thinking smaller and far more reasonable. I'm going to shoot for more containers and am actually going to put some effort in (I hear this does wonders). So today, I donned some old garden gloves, put on my oldest, rattiest, jeans, and went to work. 
Let me mention that I'd like to get my hands on the knucklehead who decided it would be nice to plant Pampas grass in the front yard. I'm from Northern California, right on the beach, where Pampas grass is considered little more than a common plant and weed. Here, Idahoans think it's pretty, so they plant it in their front yards. We asked the owners when we moved in last year if we couldn't remove the offending plant, and they said no. So while I'm attempting to be a green-thumbed gardener, I'm being forced to leave two giant weeds in the foreground of my lovely plot which is otherwise full of potential. They are so hard to clean up after, especially after Winter. 
Meh.
This won't crush my spirit, though. I had a wonderful day of walking to and from the library, which was followed by digging, cooking, and writing. After this, I'm going to spend some quality devotional time where I fully intend to heartily thank God for all that he does and is doing for me in my life. 
By the way, I can't seem to get this verse out of my head tonight.
 "A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance..." {Proverbs 15:13}
I thought of this when I happened to catch a glimpse of my face in the mirror earlier this evening: it was so happy and light, and for a second I hardly recognized that it was me I was looking at. This only made me smile even harder as I remembered this verse. It means that if you are truly happy- in your heart and soul- then it cannot help but be written over every portion of your face. 
God has given me a merry heart.
And not just merely merry, but full
At this moment in time, I feel so full of happiness and "that peace which passeth all understanding", that I'm grinning like a fool, and I have no cemented reason to account for it other than some time spent digging in the dirt,  a little vitamin D, and some wonderful cornbread.
Isn't the way God works wonderful?

I'm going to leave you with but one question tonight, and hope that you are able to say- without a moment's hesitation- "yes".
Are you happy?

{"This is the day which the Lord hath made: let us rejoice and be glad in it."}

{"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on the thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord forever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength."}

I fully look forward to tomorrow (another day off work) in which I plan to wander some more, buy some seed packets, make some cupcakes, and maybe even be induced to wake up early to make an extra nice breakfast for The Siblings. Sometime in the next day or so I have to hard-boil some eggs. I love hard-boiled eggs. 

{Image via}



March 11, 2011

Clickitty-Links

In a hurried rush of design updating this evening, I have decided that I'm going to post buttons. 
As you can see, at the top I have a new page entitled "Clickitty-Links", where I will be listing all buttons, blog and otherwise, for your viewing and perusal enjoyment. I have only had the chance to list a handful on there, but if you have a button for your blog (and I am following you) let me know in a comment to this post, and I will be more than happy to put you on my little list. 
I ought to be getting my button up and running soon. My lovely friend Brianne was kind enough to design a few for me, quite unasked, and as I love all three it may be hard to pick just one or even two. I'll get those up someday, but in the meantime, enjoy looking through them and leaving your links for me to add! 
Cheerio!

Peanut Butter


I. Love. Peanut Butter.
When I wake up in the morning, stretch, go downstairs and start a pot of tea, and think "breakfast", the second word that comes to mind is Peanut Butter (The first word that comes to mind is Cupcakes, of course, and the third is usually Greek Yoghurt. After these initial three come the combos- Peanut Butter Cupcakes, Peanut Butter in Greek Yoghurt, etc). 
But it all comes down to the peanut butter. 
I.
Love.
Peanut Butter.

And not that Skippy or Jiff stuff- I'm talking good, organic, nothing-but-peanuts-and-salt Peanut Butter. My mother buys Kirkland's 100% organic Peanut Butter, (A glance at the ingredients label? Peanuts and Salt. That's all. Delish!) but what I really love is the stuff you can grind yourself at the local WinCo. Not only is it absolutely delicious, but you know there's nothing else going in there but the peanuts. It's also lower calorie and more nutritious because there isn't nearly as much oil in it as in the jar kind.

Want to hear a true story?
Grace goes to the doctor with her mother. Grace has had a few health problems and also needs a regular check up. The doctor asks Grace about herself, what she likes to do, and anything she feels compel to mention health wise. Grace lists a few things, pauses, and says "I crave peanut butter. Sometimes it all I can think about, especially when I'm hungry. So I eat it. Lots of it." and looks quite sheepish. The doctor proceeds to inform Grace that, although it is strange, of all the things to be craving, peanut butter is a good thing. She then mentions that due to the information relayed, Grace quite technically is suffering from an addiction (again: technically). 
(Grace decides not to mention that she often feels the same way about cupcakes. 
She doesn't think the doctor would call that an commendable addiction: just a sad obsession.)

So, I eat lots of peanut butter.
Lots.
I have the occasional feverish dream about it. 
Most mornings, when I wake up and think of the inevitable two words, I ignore them and opt for swirling Greek Yoghurt in my porridge. However, this morning I indulged myself, thus inspiring an entire, pointless blog post about my second greatest love and passion. 

(Image created by me! I'm perhaps a little too proud of this.)

*drool*









Of course, I could never do a post like this without at least one photo of cupcakes included!!

I hope you're all having a fabulous and fancy Friday! 
Indulge in some peanut butter! 

*Also*
Please remember to pray for the Tsunami victims in Japan and on the coast of America! They need our help and our prayers!

March 9, 2011

The Mysterious Affairs of Agatha Christie

I didn't lie in my vlog when I said that my recent excursions into the fantastic novels of Agatha Christie would have some serious blogging side-effects. I have spent at least an hour these past two evenings, soaking in a hot bathtub with an Agatha Christie novel in my hand, more willing to leave the bathtub looking as wrinkled as Miss Marple rather than have to put a story about her down. 
But enough about me.
Meet the author.
Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller Christie 
September 15, 1890-January 12, 1976
~

Mrs. Agatha Christie was always far from a normal woman. Yes, her childhood and early adult life seemed common enough- youngest of three, lively and spirited, worked as a nurse during the first World War, engaged and married, and releasing some six novels that brought her success. But it wasn't until her divorce in 1928 that things began to really get mysterious. After an argument with her soon-to-be estranged husband (who she had recently discovered to be involved in acts of infidelity), Agatha Christie left a note for her secretary saying she had gone off to Yorkshire, and promptly disappeared for 11 days. 
She was discovered at a hydropathic hotel, living under an assumed name. She never gave an account for her disappearance, never spoke about where she'd gone and why, but much speculation still surrounds it to this day, and many see this event as what truly marked the beginning of her great career as a mystery novelist.


Of course, her first novel The Mysterious Affair At Styles had been a Poirot story, and this set the tone for her writing career. Poirot was so popular a man, and Agatha so attached and fond of him, that out of her 54 novels, some 33 are solely about him. Agatha confided in her diary on more than one occasion how she viewed her character almost as a living person. Admittedly, though, she claimed to always have loved and revered the inquisitive and sprightly Miss Marple, whom she based on her grandmother. 

David Suchet as Hercule Poirot

Julia McKenzie as Miss Marple  

Agatha Christie was an English woman through and through. She especially adored Devon- the place of her childhood- and the rocky cliffs near the seas. She used places she had visited and loved as the settings for her books, which is what perhaps made them seem so real and vivid. She was known for her quaint, English mannerisms and style, as well as the smaller eccentricities that belong to all good women authors.

Altogether, Agatha Christie is almost tied with Shakespeare as the best-selling author of all time, and only the Bible has her number (some four billion books) beat in sales. The numbers are irrelevant, but they certainly don't lie, either. Agatha Christie, it may safely be said, is the greatest mystery writer ever to have graced us with her works, and is ranked as one of the greatest writers to be published. 
(Do I sound like a fangirl?)



This, by the way, is the best Agatha Christie book. In the world.
No Poirot.
No Miss Marple.
Just pure genius. 
Ok, I'm done now. 

If you want to do or read something worth your time, run down to the library and peruse the many shelves (four at my library) of Agatha Christie novels available for your reading delight.
Then, when you've done that, look up the BBC television series for Poirot (David Suchet is the only man I will watch cast as Poirot. There are lots of older episodes from the 80-90s, but the good ones are the episodes released in the past few years, mainly Cat Among The Pigeons and Murder On The Orient Express) and Miss Marple (again, only watch the Julia McKenzie ones. They're newer too, and I could swear she was born to play Miss Marple). 
*
~
Have a happy (and mysterious) Wednesday!