Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Operation: Serve

When it comes to my faith, I believe in ‘walking the walk’. What I mean by that is I don’t believe all I am supposed to do is “fly flat, dumb and happy” for an hour every Sunday.

Himself and I are very active in humanitarian projects from those in our community to programs overseas. It is a normal part of our life to give back.

A few years ago we joined Grace Community Church. This is a young church, having opened its doors just less than 5 years ago. In that short amount of time Grace has gained a reputation for being a church who reaches out. One program we do every year is to host a city-wide day of caring called “Operation: Serve”. Over a 1000 people turn out to ‘serve’ our community.

This year we: had a day of pampering for nursing home residents, played “buddy ball” with special needs children, spruced up and/or made repairs to the buildings of several non-profits, sort inventory at a charity thrift store, made teddy bears for police/emergency personal to use with children in crisis, repairs to homes of disabled or elderly folks, a block party for the children of one of the HUD housing projects, and so on.

Normally I participate in one of the projects. However this year I was requested to be part of the team of photographers who documented the day.

I shot photos of three teams – one was building a shed for Mission Clarksville (the community garden project), one was painting the exterior of the Habitat for Humanity ReStore and the last was fund raising with a car wash & bake sale for a Guatemala mission (where we are working with a girl’s orphanage).

When each photographer finished, we went to the staging area where our photos were downloaded onto our church videographer’s laptop. Jimmy got to stay up late sorting thru hundreds of photos to put together of video montage for service the next morning.

Here’s just few of the photos I shot:

Mission Clarksville


Guatemala Fundraiser


holy experience

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

To Read or Not To Read

With my decluttering efforts I have found a lot of books stuffed about everywhere you could imagine. There are a lot I’ve picked up and haven’t even opened. So while shelving I used one shelf to stack all those unread books. And there they have been sitting.

After seeing Susan’s post at “A Southern Daydreamer Reads” about her winter reading list, I decided I needed to do as she has done. Make a list, pull the books and start reading.

Here’s my list:

Classics ~

The Good Earth by Pearl Buck

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Instructional ~

The Haiku Handbook by William Higginson

Knitting for Dummies

Sewing for Dummies

101 Essential Tips: Bonsai

Nesting; It’s a Chick Thing by Ame Beanland & Emily Terry

Non-fiction ~

Echoes of Fury: The 1980 Eruption of Mt. St. Helens… by Frank Parchman

Population: 485 by Michael Perry

Learning To Breathe by Alison Wright

Wisdom’s Daughters by Steve Wall

Fiction ~

The Long Night of Winchell Dear by Robert James Waller

I was surprised tho when I looked at my list.  There is only one fiction book (three if you count my “classics”).

So I need some help fluffing my fiction reading list… what books would you recommend? I don’t read mysteries, crime, occult, or just down-right depressing stories.

What should I be looking for that is a good read?

Monday, September 27, 2010

An Evening in Smashville

Last week I had the opportunity to go to the pre-season opener of the Nashville Predators hockey team against the Carolina Hurricanes.  Best Friend won 2 tickets on a radio call-in and we were planning a chick evening. 

But then she couldn’t make it and her hubby, C, came instead.  They are big hockey fans and go as often as they can.  As you can see, C even has the cool shirt to wear.  So I headed off for mine…and found out I have excellent tastes.  The first shirt I picked up was $350!  I about fell over!!  Needless to say, I found something else with fewer digits in it…  Picked up a little Gnash for Hanna too.

Before long the players were out on the ice warming up.

Folks came from all over for the game.  Even Mars…

Pretty soon the Predators mascot Gnash was getting the crowd revved up.  Make some noise?  They sure did!

And the game was on!

It started out calm enough. Even tho they took out one of the referees in the first few minutes with a puck to the face. OUCH!

But it didn’t take long to start getting rowdy.

Notice the Pred’s player in the upper left being tripped?  It wasn’t appreciated…

There were quite a few *ahem* … discussions… on the ice too.

And every so often, an out-and-out brawl.

But for the most part, it was just good hockey action.  Unfortunately, the Pred’s could have shown a bit more action as the final score was 1 to 3 in favor of the Hurricanes.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Before and After: My Fireplace

 Back in July Funky Junk’s Saturday Night Special #41 was to show off our mantels.  That was just the boost I needed to makeover mine.  Now Donna has done it again… Saturday Night Special #49 is for the whole fireplace.  She is getting us to finish making our fireplaces look great! 

And mine needed help for sure.  It just wasn’t ‘together’. 

 So everything came off.  And that left me with the shabby, stained brick that was here when we bought the house.  Too bad I can’t power wash it like the front porch!  Since there is a stone facing project in the future, I’m not going to make any sort of spendy facelift for it. 

 First order of business was to spray paint the face of the fireplace.  That brass had to go away… far away.  I used Rust-oleum High Temperature spray paint in black.  This meant I had to do a LOT of taping.

And the firebox needed some help too.  First a good cleaning.  But I wanted something inside besides an empty log-holder.  Regular logs run the risk of being bug infested.  But then I thought of our stash of driftwood.  No bark for bugs to hide in and it looks really cool.  Fits with our home too. 

 I like the candles for when we don’t have a fire going. I don’t have them inside the firebox because it’s an awkward space to light them. So they will stay on the hearth in front of the firebox. But the black candle holders just got lost with all the black of the fireplace. Since our fixtures are brushed nickel they got a touch up to go with the rest of the room. The old candles were replaced with lovely blue ones from Pier One. They are the “ocean” scent I use with my reed diffusers.

Then I went shopping in my house and yard. (Free works well… right?)

 First thing I brought in was a scarf I bought in Mexico.  This will hide that stained brick.  It brings in the teal and green that I am using in the room.  This will be great until I find something else I like since I use this scarf! 

 I was down in my office and I spied these containers.  I bought them at Lowes last spring.  They are supposed to be trash cans although I never planned that use for them.  Actually… I didn’t have any plans for them.  They were just so pretty I grabbed them up knowing I would find the perfect use for them later.

 My pruning clippers and I went for a walk around the property. I came back with these branches. A little spray paint that I had used on the candle holders took them from shabby to chic.

I like this much better. I think Himself will be happily surprised when he gets home. 

Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Paths from High School

Today is my 30th High School reunion in MO. I am in TN.

I have only kept up with a handful of the people I knew in school.

Sometimes I wonder what the cement of our friendships was back then. Different personalities, different values, different interests. Yet for some reason we were friends.

In thinking more about it, most of those friendships were ones began in elementary school. Perhaps they were friendships of habit. We were all we had. Our young worlds were very small.

In High School our worlds were becoming larger and we began to gravitate towards likeminded people. Most of my high school friendships were forged through common interests – largely drama and medical. We spoke each other’s language. Some elementary school friends drifted away and new people filled the gaps.

Then we graduated. And that is where our paths split off like bursts of a huge firework explosion.

Some friends’ worlds never changed from where they were in high school – save adding spouses and children to the mix. Some friends’ worlds became very focused on their careers; in essence they became their careers with little room for others. Some friends dropped off the map; their time in public school and our small town something they wanted to put as far behind them as they could. And a few friends, sadly, left this world…

My world expanded beyond what I ever thought.

There are a few relationships I wish I had worked much harder to maintain. People who were special to me and slipped away with life’s busyness. Paul was recently found on Facebook. I was so happy to hear how he has been doing. He’s gone from a rock-n-roll band to a praise band. He was one of those elementary friends… what a love/hate relationship it was! LOL

Strange thing tho, most of those I regret not keeping up with were in the class below me. My best friend – tho I didn’t realize it at the time – was Patrick. He was always there and always caring. At the time I didn’t realize what I took for granted.  Youth is so self-centered.  Thankfully I found him again thru Facebook. A lot of water has passed under the bridge but it is good knowing where he is. Paul and Jeanne and Bill… I wish I could find them.

Maybe I’ll crash next year’s reunion instead!

But today I am in Tennessee participating in a mission project with friends. I don’t think it is by chance both events fell on the same day.

This is my world now.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Photo Challenge: Golden All Their Years

This week’s photo challenge at Razmataz was “age” The prompt suggested photos of things (rusty, shabby) but my thoughts did not go in that direction.

Instead I started thinking about all the people who have touched my life who are “aged”. People who haven’t slowed down much in their ‘golden years’ and continue very active lives.

They are true inspirations to me.

“Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

Herb - 107 year old. Former motorcycle daredevil, Harley shop owner from 1933 to 1971.

“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.” ~Mark Twain

Margie - 87 year old. Helping with meals to feed 30+ people on a mission trip to Lynch, KY. Participated in a medical mission trip to Brazil at age 89.

“The key to successful aging is to pay as little attention to it as possible.” ~ Judith Regan

Martha – Approximately 75 years old. Participating in a quilting bee with her missions group.

"In all of us there is a hunger, marrow deep, to know our heritage - to know who we are and where we came from." ~ Alex Haley, “Roots”

Betty - 90 year old. Sharing family history with Himself in her home.

“We should all have one person who knows how to bless us despite the evidence, Grandmother was that person to me.” ~ Phyllis Theroux

Getti – approximately 75 years old. Ethiopian grandmother raising her granddaughter Sintayehu – our Compassion sponsor child.

“It is a rare and difficult attainment to grow old gracefully and happily.” ~ Arnold Palmer

Lorraine – 85 years old. On a hay ride to go pick apples that we would cook up for supper that night.

“Our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear the young or be deserted by them, for the test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members.” ~ Pearl S. Buck

Elderly Mexican lady waiting for medical treatment at a mission clinic.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Before and After: Robin Egg Blue for the Bird Garden

I originally planned this lawn set makeover for Funky Junk’s “Robin Egg Blue” link up a few weeks ago.  It didn’t work out but I definitely wanted to go forward with the plan and kept working on them until I finally got them done.

Here’s what I started with… bland, bland, bland.  I don’t think it could get any more boring.  When Donna posted the “Robin Egg Blue” challenge, I didn’t think it was very interesting.  I don’t use that color in my home.  But as I was sitting at Himself’s desk I saw these sitting at the edge of the Bird Garden.

Hmmmmm… bird garden…robin egg blue.  Worked for me! 

They looked pretty good in blue.  But they still needed “something”.  So I started trying to figure out a way to add a bit of character to them.  In one of my blog reads I saw some silhouettes and knew that was just what I wanted to use.

Trick is, how to make a stencil. I ended up using contact paper that I traced my pattern onto.

Next obstacle was how to protect the blue paint. I was a bit afraid to tape it. Didn’t know if the paint would lift. So I tried using some CHEAP aluminum foil I had on hand from another project in the works. It works great! Other places I had to tape… so I did it very carefully.

After that all I had to do was peel and stick the stencil then spray on the brown paint. A couple days cure time until I could apply 5 coats of poly to protect it.

I am SO happy with how they turned out! 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cooking at Ingredients: More Greek

Due to popular demand, Lana scheduled a couple classes at Ingredients for those who wanted more Greek and Italian cooking recipes and tips.

Last night was Greek. With two of my favorite foods… dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) and avgolemono soup (egg and lemon soup). We also had tzatziki (yogurt cucumber sauce) and karidopita (a cake). Making it even more fun, Best Friend was able to come too.

A tip Lana had for buying grape leaves is the ones from the US (California) are milder than those from overseas.  Also, bigger is not better… it’s tougher.  Go with smaller leaves like this one.

Put the filling right in the middle of the leaf and roll.  Same method you’d use for a wonton or burrito.  Just have to keep that filling inside!

Another tip… find help to stuff them!  That’s Best Friend on the left.

And here they are all lined up waiting to be cooked.

Avgolemono soup is just so good.  Tangy and rich, it’s a Greek comfort food. 

Tzatziki sauce is so versatile.  It can be a dipping sauce, a salad dressing or a condiment for gyros.  If you make it and don’t use Greek yogurt, make sure you drain your regular yogurt for several hours.  Greek yogurt is much thicker.

The karidopita is one of those dense cakes that causes you to have a happy little sigh as you eat it. Definitely not low anything! And that includes taste.

Himself is so looking forward to trying these when he gets home!

Dolmades (Stuffed Grape Leaves)

1 jar grape leaves


1 cup uncooked long grain rice (basmati is very nice)

½ cup olive oil

1 cup chopped mild onion

¼ cup chopped parsley

1 Tbs dry dill weed

Juice of one lemon

1 pound ground lamb

1 tsp allspice

2 cloves crushed garlic

Salt and pepper to taste


2 cups chicken stock

Juice of one lemon

Mix together all filling ingredients. Set aside.

Remove stems from grape leaves. Lay leaf on counter with stem side up. Place 1 to 2 teaspoons filling in the center of the leaf. Fold stem base up first, then sides, then roll to tip of leaf, forming a cigar shape. Do not wrap too tightly as rice needs room to expand.

In a heavy pan, place a single layer of unrolled leaves on the bottom. Then a layer of rolled leaves side by side. Repeat until all rolled leaves are in the pot. Finish with a layer of unrolled leaves.

On top place a plate to keep the leaves pushed down in the pot.

Mix stock and lemon juice, pour over leaves. Cover and cook for one hour on medium low heat. Remove from heat and let cool an additional hour. Do not remove lid or leaves will darken.

(Note: Lana used ground turkey instead of lamb as there was no lamb to be found in town. They were excellent!)