Monday, December 2, 2013

Do You See What I See? Do You Hear What I Hear?

I admit it, I get extra sappy this time of year. All of the sights and sounds of the season move me. I love the Hallmark commercials and everyone's own special Christmas stories.

neighborhood light display

These Christmas lights hold their own treasured memories. The display is about a block away (this is not actually all the lights). It takes up the entire cul de sac. The family starts putting it out right after Halloween. The cross on top goes up first and stays lit continuously until after New Years. We can see it from our window. It comforts me to have this constant reminder throughout the holidays.

They've been doing this for years. When several years ago the grandfather passed away in October and his son considered not doing the display, the grandson insisted they put them up and make them even bigger and brighter so grandpa could see them from heaven. The display has grown each year since. They collect food and toys for those in need as the display attracts considerable traffic. I love walking through the neighborhood at night this time of year. Each home holds its own stories.

This, the first day of Advent our pastor challenged us to not just listen to the Christmas music that bombards us, but to truly hear the words, to ponder the message in our hearts like Mary did. I challenge you to do the same. 

Do you have a favorite carol? Perhaps mine are Away in a Manger and Silent Night. In the stillness of the Christmas Eve service we end with Silent Night and that is when I truly ponder the meaning and all those things God has given us through Jesus Christ. My prayer this Advent season is to quiet my heart every hour of every day the same way I do Christmas Eve and to give constantly, unconditionally and sacrificially.

Have a blessed season of Christmas music!
Linda <><

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Giving Thanks

As Thanksgiving day draws near I'm sharing, as best I can, what I am truly thankful for. I've had a gratitude journal for 17 months now and my list has grown to well over 1000. When it comes right down to it on many wintry mornings the seat heater in the car tops the list. But the following list, in pictures, comprises that which is nearest and dearest to my heart, that for which I am most grateful .

The guy I've been blessed
to share adventures with for 33+ years!
My two sweet daughters, 1994

Us four

Role models in life and love

Big brothers!

And their precious offspring!

Jack my big cuddly therapy cat

Aunts who took the time to share their
love of fiber arts with a child

And more cousins!
Old friends 

Staying connected 

Just getting better with time:)

New friends (& food)

& More new friends (& more food)

And the list goes on! People who have been blessings in my life. My exercise class, walking buddies, life group, etsy teams, hair cutter, dentist, orthodontist, the milk man, the trash collectors, grocery's endless!

What are you most grateful for? Dwell on that every day and have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Linda <><

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Oatmeal Love

Do you have a favorite way to fix oatmeal? I've seen more than I can count, from the oatmeal box to the internet, but my favorite came to me in a different way. It is made with old fashioned oats and it's quick. It makes me wonder why folks ever use the individual packets with all of their unhealthy additions except in extreme situations on the road and such. 

I was buying oats in bulk at our local grocery store when an elderly man told me how he makes it.  He said he simply puts one half cup old fashioned oats with one cup milk or water and microwaves it 5 minutes. It works great and it's pretty much how I always make oatmeal now! Here are two twists on it we love. This makes two small servings or one large serving.

Chocolate Cherry Microwave Oatmeal

1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1 tablespoon chia or ground flax seeds (optional)
2 tablespoons cacao or cocoa
1 tablespoon maca (optional)
1 tablespoon maple syrup (or to taste)
1 cup milk (your choice: soy, almond, cow's milk
         --I like almond)
1 cup frozen cherries (fresh in season)
chopped almonds

Oatmeal Ingredients 

Mix all ingredients except almonds in a large microwave bowl and microwave on high 5 minutes. Stir, divide in 2 bowls and top with nuts.

Apple Cinnamon Microwave Oatmeal

1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1 tablespoon chia or ground flax seeds (optional)
1 tablespoon maca
1 tablespoon cinnamon (or to taste)
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 cup milk (your choice: soy, almond, cow's milk
         --I like almond)
1/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries
2/3 cup applesauce (or to taste)
toasted walnuts

Mix all ingredients except walnuts in a large microwave bowl and microwave on high 5 minutes. Stir, divide in 2 bowls and top with nuts.

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

Our mornings are early and quick so this is a great, healthy fast breakfast! Do you have any quick healthy breakfasts? I'm always looking for variety. We eat everything from frittatas to smoothies. On the road we'll often just eat fresh fruit and a hard boiled egg.

It's just one other gift from my mom. I never miss breakfast. It is the most important meal of the day. Mom would actually cook a big breakfast for the whole family before leaving for a day of teaching high school. Thanks again, Mom, for instilling in me this healthy habit!

Don't you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself.
1 Corinthians 6:19

Linda <><

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Music Makes Pictures, a Love Story

"Music makes pictures and often tells stories

All of it magic and all of it true

And all of the pictures and all of the stories

All of the magic, the music is you"

                        ~John Denver

Music has always been dear to me. My husband says we should all have a sound track to our lives. My daughter is a professional pianist, quite talented I might humbly add. We've always surrounded ourselves with music, diverse melodies to carry us through all the times of our lives. I heard one of my favorites on my run the other day and it brought happy tears to my eyes. It reminded me of my parents love story. Mom passed away last year just three days before my folks sixty-sixth wedding anniversary. How they found each other is another story.

My father's childhood home -- Courthouse and Jail Rock in the distance

My dad grew up in a sod house along the Oregon Trail. In 1938 they lost the homestead to the dust bowl and auctioned off their belongings preparing to move to Oregon. Just days before my dad graduated from high school my grandfather was killed in a car accident while helping someone else auction off their things. My grandmother was hospitalized for some time. Dad wandered for a while and ended up in California building airplanes during WWII. 

Mom graduated from the University of Nebraska

Mom grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska and became a teacher. She taught high school typing and shorthand in a small town. There she fell in love with a farm boy who went off to fight. He was killed in Italy at the end of the war. She had resigned herself to life as an old maid school teacher.

Eventually, she was transferred to Bridgeport, Nebraska which happened to be my Dad's hometown. When a young man wanted to date her best friend she said she would only go if he found someone to go with my mom. It just so happened that Dad was in town to visit my grandmother for Christmas, so he was enlisted.

They went on that blind date and married six months later. The rest is, well, you know...

Lettie and Lester June 1946

Last June when I was visiting Dad he was reminiscing with me about the opportunities he had passed up and all those 'what ifs' that never really help. I played God Bless the Broken Road for him. He had never heard the song before, but he had lived it and he completely understood it. 

Happily Ever After

My brothers and I, our spouses, children and grandchildren are all grateful for that broken road that brought my folks together. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

In the Blast Zone

This week's hike took us into Mount St. Helens' blast zone. We were searching for sunshine again, but we didn't find any. We never even found Mount St. Helens!

Rainbow at Norway Pass

What we did find  was the beauty of rebirth in an area completely devastated by a volcanic eruption 33 years ago. The area we hiked has been protected to return to it's natural state. It was simply fascinating and beautiful. 

Snow on Mt. Margaret trail

It was also rainy, windy and even snowy at the height of our climb. I can't wait to go back when Mount St. Helens is not hiding behind clouds!

Spirit Lake from Windy Ridge

Have you ever felt your life was nothing less than a blast zone? I have. But I believe when we let Him, God can bring beauty for ashes not just on a mountainside, but in our precious lives as well. 

To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.

~Isaiah 61:3

Since we will be falling back soon and any time change messes up our inner clock I want to share my favorite energy smoothie. I don't drink coffee or caffeinated tea, but this really does the trick when I get drowsy.  

Love Chocolate Energy Smoothie

1 banana
1 tablespoon peanut or almond butter
1 tablespoon maca powder
2 tablespoons cacao powder or cocoa
1 teaspoon cinnamon
about 1 cup milk
(almond, soy or cow's milk)

Place banana, peanut butter, maca powder, cacao, cinnamon and about 1/4 cup of the milk in a blender and blend until smooth. Add ice and fill with more milk. Blend until smooth. Enjoy!

This makes one smoothie. I like to use the Magic Bullet, but you can use any blender. All of the amounts can be changed to your liking and some sort of sweetener can be added.

Linda <><

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

When the Sun Comes Out to Play

Autumn on my street

Puget Sound was socked in with fog all week. I'm not complaining, I think the fog magnifies the already vivid fall colors! And for the most part it's business as usual. Great for photography, a moisture treatment tops off my run, no real excuses to stay in. It does get a bit dreary though.

I've been working on a big custom order; thirty-one personalized Mason jar cozies. One of the things I love about crochet is that I can take it anywhere. 

Mason jar cozy fun

I also have a set of CD's accompanying my current Bible study. Did I mention I have a driver I adore? So yesterday we took a quick trip east to find some sunshine. It was really less than an hour away. What a joy it was to emerge from the fog into the warmth and beauty of Mount Rainier.

"I lift up my eyes to the hills-- where does my help come from?" Psalm 121:1

After listening to Louie Giglio speak on the Creation story we were immersed in the glory of God's creation.

Tipsoo Lake

While surrounded by this beauty the question was posed: will I be the biggest part of my own small story, or a small part of His story? 

Crag Field

As I am blessed to soak in this sun I choose to be part of His big story. When I'm stumped at just what that means to me I recall Proverbs 3:5-6:

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart
 and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he shall direct your paths."

Jim and I at the end of a glorious day (Mount Rainier in the background)

Once again I am inspired to find my own small place in God's big story.
Linda <><

Monday, October 7, 2013

Jury Duty Moebius and Other Ramblings

Welcome to Tacoma statue
Last week I was on jury duty. I discovered it is a multi-stepped procedure. First, I call the night before and find out if I need to appear. When I arrive I scan in to a large holding room and wait. I wait to be called. The administrator shows some videos, tells jokes (she has a captive audience) and fills us in on the next steps. She likens it to marriage; in this room we are single (no court case), if we are called the first time we are engaged and, then, if we are chosen we are married to a court case. 

I was never engaged, never a chosen one. Out of the 300 or so folks who started the week maybe 25 or so remained.  I felt like the kid who was never picked in P.E. class. I didn't mind. I got my lovely moebius scarf/shawl done. It's warm and cozy! Some good can come from not being picked. I also walked five miles in downtown Tacoma, visited the Thursday Farmers Market, ate one day at the Amerawcan Bistro (a vegan cafe) and had a wonderful vegetarian tamale for lunch another day. I got to meet some people and check out the other crocheters' and knitters' projects. The minor inconvenience of driving thirty minutes and not knowing just what my days would bring became a lovely adventure for a work from home introvert!

Lime Kiln Lighthouse

Last weekend my traveling partner/husband and I used a groupon for a weekend in Friday Harbor, Washington. The San Juan Islands are simply beautiful and a short trip for us. As it turned out the the entire weekend was rain soaked. We live in the Pacific Northwest so we have our webbed feet, but this was almost too much. We ended up skipping a couple of hikes we had planned and opted for driving around the island instead of riding the bikes available at our inn.

Soaked in the San Juans

This weekend was totally different. Friday afternoon my daughter called to tell us she and her boyfriend were coming to visit. It ended up being a glorious fall weekend with sunshine and highs in the 60's. They left Sunday morning after Church and breakfast. We watched the Seahawks beat the Colts. Then we took a bike ride on a trail I found on Pinterest (I love Pinterest). Washington Trails Association had listed fall hikes on state, city and county lands. We took part of the 34 mile long Cedar River trail. We had gone quite a distance when we decided to stop for a water break and to check the GPS. I glanced up and this is what we were sitting under. We moved on before any bombing ensued!

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life. Matthew 6:26-27

On a completely different note, last week I finally remembered to go to Fred Meyer for the monthly senior discount. I stocked up on fruits and veggies, picked up a magazine and got a  kombucha. My big 10% one day a month discount was only good for the magazine and kombucha. Does that make any sense? Seems like the healthy food should be discounted too.

That wraps up my ramblings. No big epiphanies, I'm just thankful God is with us in all this small stuff, so we don't have to sweat it! 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Cool Stuff

The first week of each month I intend to share some of my favorite finds here. Since my last blog was about Mason jars this week I am showing you some of my prized accessories for Mason jars.

Because we juice I use my jars a lot for drinking. When I discovered the cuppow it was love at first sight! These neat lid attachments make your Mason jar into a sipper cup perfect for big and little kids. I use it for water, juice, smoothies, tea, and, once upon a time, for coffee. It works for hot or cold and a straw can be inserted.

This brings me to the next cool thing. We use straws so much that I wanted something reusable. The Endurance Stainless drink straw and Endurance Stainless spoon straw work great for my family.

My husband takes his lunch every day and the plastic salad bowls kept falling apart, so I pack his salad or veggies in a Mason jar and add this nifty BNTO lunchbox adapter with dressing or dip. I have also found that the cups from my egg poacher fit perfectly for a smaller cup on top.

Lastly, here are my own Mason jar cozies! I use them on all of my Mason jars. They work as a coaster and a cozy, for hot and cold and I think they're pretty darn cute!
I love combining all of these items as a gift and filling the jar with trail mix or homemade cocoa mix or candy! Do you have any creative accessories for Mason jars? How do you use them for gifting?

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."
James 1:17

~~All of the items mentioned above are things I use. I am not compensated in any way.~~