Monday, April 29, 2013

The Secrets Held Within, Chapter 3

Chapter 3, The Village
Today, I need to get out of this cabin. Upon dressing myself in jean shorts and a t-shirt, I drove to town, parking near a much appreciated coffee shop, Jittering Joe Coffee House. I ordered a hazelnut macchiato and blueberry muffin, taking them out to the patio. There was a slight breeze lifting the heat of the sun. As I picked at my muffin and gulped my coffee, I people watched. A past time favorite shared with my beloved Stella. I could just hear her “Ugh, why would you wear those shorts?” or “Look at the calves on that hunk.” She rarely utilized her filter. I laughed to myself.
Looking across the street, I saw two women exiting a clothing boutique, Vintage. They were lovely, each in a summer dress, engrossed in conversation. They possessed a carefree attitude I envied. When would I have that again? The blonde noticed my stare and came to a halt. Her expression went from joy to shock to, what was it, Disbelief? Composing herself, she grabbed her friend by the elbow and stalked off, quickly turning down the secondary main street.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Seeking Silence And Solitude

~ Psalm 46 ~
1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; 
3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult. 
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. 
5 God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved; God will help it when the morning dawns. 
6 The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. 
7 The lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. 
8 Come, behold the works of the Lord; see what desolations he has brought on earth. 
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear; he burns the shield with fire. 
10 "Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth." The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. 

Being silent and seeking solitude go hand in hand with Being Still. By seeking refuge in silence, through the act of being in solitude, we are able to practice being still. There is much to gain by being silent with God and living in solitude with God. It allows us to discern His truth. It is not enough to just pray, or just have faith, we need to quiet ourselves to nothingness in order for God to be everything for us. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Secrets Held Within, Chapter 2

Chapter 2, The Dream
My heart raced. I was frozen. Thoughts began flooding my mind. Did I leave the kitchen light on? What about the foyer? Did I turn the foyer light off? I remembered turning the entry and kitchen light on, but I do not remember turning either one off…I began to panic. Who would be here? Gathering courage I peered at the cabin’s reflection in the window. Nothing was there and the light was back on. What in the world is wrong with me? The awareness of the wine glass in my hand slowly came back to me. Maybe between the stress and wine I just imagined the shadow?
With trepidation, I walked slowly to the front door and peeked around the corner into the pantry, after verifying the front door was locked. I convinced myself I was seeing things due to tiredness perpetuated by a glass of wine. It was time for bed.
I jumped. What was that?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Be Still

Over the past year, I have felt a pressing need to practice what it meant to Be Still. It was something that I couldn't quite shake, not so much a feeling as a gentle command. God needed me to Be Still. The first step in achieving this request was understanding what exactly being Still meant. 

How does one 
Be Still? How does one Be Still with God? In what capacity am I to Be Still?

Part of my journey to master being Still had a lot to do with our circumstances of living with another family. That particular leg of our journey left limited opportunity for me to really do anything outside of raising my child. The living situation wasn't conducive to my creative outlet, nor was it conducive to entertaining our friends and family. Previously, I mentioned how coming to this conclusion to merge families was the hardest thing my husband and I had to do. We were seriously humbled. We were also being blessed. Moving in with our friends was an answer to our prayers, and through faith we endured. Something to consider, when you decide to move in with another family, or even with your own family, dynamics change. It's not your house. It's not your time. It's no ones' fault, it's just how it is. We had no choice but to defer to this other family. But a lot of good came from this difficult living situation.

There were times this answered prayer of seeking shelter in the home of another family felt like a curse, but through this chapter of my life, I have come to understand one should never underestimate God's ability to bend circumstances to His ultimate advantage. If you let Him.  

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Easy Creamy Crunchy Homemade Mac & Cheese!

Talk about working On A Whim, I had a hankering for homemade mac & cheese and upon completion I was utterly amazed at how well it turned out! This led me to remake it for the purpose of taking pics in order to share this amazing dish with you here :) As you know, I rarely right down my recipes, resulting in the inability to make a dish the same twice. Though that's not the only reason, many times I choose to use what I have on hand in the moment, which adds to the variety of my inconsistent cooking.

Tonight, I happen to have macaroni noodles, American cheese, Colby Monterrey Jack cheese, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper seasoning, butter, and flour. Tonight, my husband is out with a friend for dinner and my son is going through a phase of disliking mac & cheese (I know, right!), leaving me with a quantity dilemma. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Secrets Held Within, Chapter 1

 Chapter 1, The Arrival
The cold of the night would arrive soon. I knew I only had a few minutes to get unpacked and settled within the cabin before utter darkness rolled in. However my thoughts kept me in the car as they reverted back to the recurring dream that began about a month ago – a time when everything in my life proved not to be what it appeared, resulting in my life to seemingly fall apart. There are two oddities within this recurring dream. The first is that I am witnessing it as if in third person. I know the girl in the dream is me, but I only see the back of her: brown hair pulled back in a long braid, white short sleeved blouse under a blue suspendered skirt. The second is that nothing seems to happen, ever. At least, nothing happens outside of my inner turmoil. I do not move or speak. I never see anything new. This dream is the definition of perplexing.
Hoping to unlock the mysteries surrounding these dreams, I decided to hole myself up in an effort to figure it all out and to find myself within the mess that has become my reality. First, I had to call Stella and inform her of my safe arrival.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Secrets Held Within, Synopsis

Good morning!

I am working on a short story to share with you. I will be posting one chapter at a time. As I've shared before, my friend and I started perusing the internet for writing competitions in an effort to work on our craft, and I recently came across two contests that I decided to combine into one theme. 

They are respectively:  
  1. To begin the story with the sentence: The cold of the night would arrive soon. The rules are that I must start my story with this sentence and am not permitted to alter the sentence in any way, with the exception of adding quotations.
  2. A story about what lies within the locked room. This theme entails writing a story around the protagonist visiting a cabin to be confronted with a locked room. The goal as the writer is to tell a story about what is in the locked room. 
Today, I am sharing my idea with you in hopes of your continuing return to read how the story unfolds. Here is the synopsis of...

The Secrets Held Within
There is no time like the present to take a hiatus from life. After Ivy’s life proved to be nothing as she thought, recurring dreams become a constant burden upon her already fragile emotional state. In an effort to sort herself out and make sense of a dream that refuses to part her mind, she ventures out on a soul searching excursion to a secluded cabin in a quaint small village, known for its tourist attractions of antique shops and homemade boutiques. Within the first day of her arrival, she befriends the sheriff and settles into the cozy cabin. At the end of touring the cabin, she is greeted with a locked room in the attic. Confused by this, she becomes instantly obsessed with learning what secrets lie on the other side of the door. As the truth of the locked room becomes tangible, someone intent on furthering her deteriorating mind counteracts her efforts. 

Stay tuned to read Chapter 1 of The Secrets Held be posted Monday, April 15th 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Cinnamon Brown Sugar Cookies

This afternoon my son saw a commercial for gingerbread cookies, resulting in his request of making gingerbread cookies. Unfortunately, I do not have the ingredients necessary for such a dessert. Instead, I decided to use what I have to create a sugar inspired cookie.

Here are the ingredients I have on hand: 

2 1/2 - 2 3/4 c. Baking Mix (depending on desired dough consistency :)
1 c. Sugar
1/4 c. Brown Sugar
1 Egg
1/2 c. Butter
1-2 tsp Cinnamon (to taste)
Vanilla Extract (to taste)

I dumped all of the ingredients in the bowl simultaneously because I felt lazy. 
Using a whisk and  then a spatula, I mixed all of the above ingredients together. My son and I did two different kinds: Cookie cutter and drop. Why?

Reason #1: The dough did not become a roll out dough. Though, I adjusted the ingredients to manufacture the most "sugar cookie" like consistency, I didn't want to add too much of the baking mix for fear of the dough resulting in a bread like flavor... 

Instead, we improvised by pressing the dough into the shapes. They baked in toaster oven #2 -- given to us by a friend (though larger than toaster oven #1 it's prehistoric) -- at 300 degrees for 8-10 minutes. 

The first batch burnt. The cookies were too thick. As they spread, the edges baked too quickly.
The second round, we used half the of dough: just under 1/8 of an inch thick (comparable to a ball one inch in diameter).

Reason #2: Personally, I am not happy with the aesthetic of these cookies, feeling the detail is utterly lost. Our cookie cutters are two parts: one for the cookie, and one for the detail within the shape. We did a spring theme using the butterfly and flower. What we should see is the outline of the butterfly's body, along with the detail of each individual wing; in the flower, we should be able to see five separate petals surrounding an outlined center. Do you see a butterfly and a flower? Yeah, me neither, but my son had an absolute blast making these shapes, sprouting much joy within my heart. While this joy abated the disappointment in the amount of work involved for a result of an underwhelming picture, I didn't find them pretty and I wanted pretty cookies. After one and a half dozen shapes, 
I switched to drop cookies...

They are beautiful! 
Do not expect your traditional Sugar Cookie with this recipe.
With their crackle tops and golden brown edges, they are deliciously inviting. 

The texture is a good mix between crunchy and gooey, complimenting the cinnamon kissed sweetness. Salivaters line up! 

Regardless of shape, each cookie sheet housed six cookies roughly one inch in diameter, to allow them ample room to spread. Interestingly, the drop cookies did not spread as much as the cut out versions. This dough yielded two and a half dozen, keeping in mind my first batch was doubled in size. The next time I make this recipe, I expect to yield three dozen. 

We tend not to have every ingredient necessary for many recipes, resulting in my creative juices to get flowing. Case and point: My son wanted gingerbread cookies and I didn't have ginger, cloves or molasses. I knew my son would be happy with any cookie that would let him play with shapes, so I made a sugar cookie. I'm not hindered by my lack of ingredients, I'm inspired to create a new dish with what I happen to have on hand. For that, I almost never make the same thing twice, much to my husband's dismay. I will say that after his continuing requests for me to write my down my recipes I have finally relented, thus enabling the recreation of a dish my husband loves with ingredients we tend to keep on hand... 

P.s. In the time I've compose this post, my husband and son have successfully polished of half of the cookies! Good thing I wrote the recipe down ;)

The Time Tote

Since my husband and I have decided we are going to homeschool our child, we did not sign him up for preschool. He already knows his alphabet, whether the letters are in or out of order, capital or lower case. He knows his shapes and colors, and can count to fourteen. We figured since we introduced learning into everyday activities with the intention to homeschooling we didn't need to spend the money for preschool. For those of you big on socialization, fear not for he does wonderfully with other children. My child has no qualms about introducing himself to new children and plays wonderfully with his friends. 

We recently had a discussion about what to focus on currently in order further his foundation prior to kindergarten, coming to the conclusion that it was time to concentrate on the numerical value of numbers: the number ten looks like 10. I tried using children's books we own about counting and numbers, but his attention span wavered. The process became quite frustrating. This past Monday I took my three and a half year old to the local library to check out the upcoming events calendar only to be pleasantly surprised at a section completely dedicated to homeschooling! Not only are there books for parents wishing to homeschool offering guidance in what to expect, but there are topic oriented totes available for checkout, too. The topics range from transportation to weather, bugs to music, and weights and measures to history. The totes are all labeled with the age group they are geared towards, containing a compilation of more than a dozen books with flashcards, toys, puzzles, and/or pictures to provide a completely rounded out lesson plan. 

A couple of days later, we returned to the library for Storytime. Upon perusing the tote section I noticed the Time Tote. This tote was not available our previous visit and I decided to snatch it up thinking it would be a benefit to our current course study. The Time Tote provided: a toy clock revealing hours and minutes, day and number flash cards, monthly boarders, and almost twenty books about the seasons, telling time, days, weeks, months, nighttime verse day time, and the difference between yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Really, anything that one can relate to the passage of time is represented within this tote. 

The clock proved to be a pivotal object in helping bring out the excitement of learning what numbers look like in my son. It has allowed the process to be less structured and boring, and more interactive and fun. What is amazing to me is how God aligns things within our lives to further a purpose. Today, which is two days from the bringing home of the Time Tote, I saw a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episode that involved Mickey and Donald Duck maneuvering their way through a wonderland and decided to record it for my son to watch when he woke. After he was up and fed, we watched it to find the show revolved around a clock and learning how to tell time. This was perfect! We grabbed the toy clock from the tote and played along with the show allowing the cartoon to become interactive. We watched the show twice, resulting in a two hour lesson about numbers at the request of my son, when prior to the Time Tote I had a hard time holding his attention for even five minutes -- It was an awesome experience! I fully believe God was behind the coming together of these events to help further my son's understanding and enjoyment of telling time, and in associating the numerical value of a number to its name :)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A Dove Has Landed...Quite Literally :)

We have been hearing a dove singing from the first week we moved in, but have never seen her. Last night she sat on our stoop! I snapped a few picks, noticed by her but not fazed by it. She was perfectly content on our step. My husband and the dove had a lengthy conversation - really, it was just my husband mimicking the dove, but the dove reciprocated. Here are the picks...I just had to share them with you!!!
I adjusted the pictures a bit in order to bring the color out. If you look closely, those striations are from the screen door. I took the picture from inside for fear of scaring her away by opening the front door.
I couldn't help but think of my blog and the tab Dove's Landing, and had to post this. I find this to be awesome, like a sign from God to keep me going with this venture, or maybe to let me know I am on the right track. Maybe it's just a coincidence - I honestly don't know - but either way I am enjoying this beautiful bird :)

May you all have a blessed and beautiful day!!