Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Perfect Spring Day

Yes, it was.
The fruit trees must be at their height, RIGHT NOW.
A sky so blue, a sun so bright.
This mammoth weeping cherry is in our neighborhood. It's breathtaking today.
Had to get a picture of Peter in his cast, so we can always remember!
Anna took her quilt on the patio again today. She's quilting front to back with buttons - so cute!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Product Post #6

Toilet paper. One of life's necessities. I don't think any of us wants to return to a time before it existed. But it's expensive, isn't it?!

On the left: Angel Soft from WalMart -- double roll
On the right: Willow from Aldi -- double roll.
I'm not certain that the photos here show how very different these two rolls are in size. The Angel Soft is MUCH bigger. However, both rolls, in their packaging, are sold as "12 Double Rolls." Both are 2-ply. Clearly, the term "double roll" is not a standard measurement. What exactly IS a double roll?

Angel Soft package: 501 square feet.
Willow: 381.3 square feet.

Now that's a HUGE difference!

Cost? Angel Soft: $5.97
Willow: $5.29

So, with the Angel Soft, I'm paying a little over a penny (1.19 ¢) for each square foot.
With the Willow, I'm paying closer to 1 1/2 cents per square foot (1.38 ¢).

This may not seem like much cash, until your 10 year old is rolling off mounds of TP from the roller, because it's so much fun to watch it fly through the air. Ch-ching.

Oh, and quality? Exactly the same. I held both rolls, one in each hand, closed my eyes, and fingered it. I can tell no difference in softness or thickness.

Conclusion? Just because you're shopping at Aldi (a store I love, by the way) doesn't mean you automatically get the better deal. Compare prices AND sizes of products.

Because "double roll" can mean just about anything!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

World's Biggest Blueberries

Saturday morning means blueberry pancakes. We still have frozen blueberries picked at my brother & sister-in-law's farm, last summer. They have such delicious, HUGE blueberries! Note this:
This blueberry has been frozen a while, so its sides are a bit shriveled and caved in, but still, it is mammoth! Dig in your pocket, pull out a quarter, and see how big around this fellow is!
Plop a few in the pancake. Press them down and cover them over with some batter with your finger.
Delicious, every Saturday. The blueberries give a burst of flavor in every bite.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I'm Back!!!

And so is my computer!! :) I think I married a super genius. Adam fixed my computer. He took the power part form his old ibook, and put it in mine. That sounds easy, but you don't know how tricky and detailed it is, to take apart two laptops and put them back together again. He's my hero!

Anyway, here are some pics I took in our neighborhood on a walk the other day -- Monday? Everything seems to be bursting into bloom. These are a few of my daffodils, along the stone wall. I transplanted the little bulbs here 3 years ago, and they get bigger each year.
A weeping cherry just down the road:
A brilliant bank of forsythia. I LOVE them when they are allowed to spread out like this.
What an explosion of pink!
Adam has been splitting wood for me to have fires in the fireplace next fall/winter, provided we are here. We may not be, but that's no reason not to be outside, tending to things! He enjoys splitting logs.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Short Commercial Break:

Hi, Gang,

The bad news is, my dear Ibook G4 laptop died today. She was over four years old, which is mighty old even for a Mac laptop. Adam will be working to see if he can combine his dead Ibook with my dead Ibook and make a Frankenstein that will work for a bit. We'll see.

All that to say, I won't be posting for a while; I don't know how long. But don't give up on me! I'll be back!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Firewood and Forsythia

Our neighbor felled a tree in his backyard (and almost hit his swimming pool...), and Adam cut it up for him and got to keep the wood.
In mid-afternoon, as I sat on the patio enjoying the sunny warmth, I thought, "Wouldn't it be relaxing to paint?" I rarely do this. I'm not any good. But I do find it more relaxing than just about anything else I do. Julia decided to paint also.
Anna worked more on her quilt. She's putting it all together and putting buttons into the middle of the flower figures she's quilting on it.
My attempt to paint forsythia, which is blooming energetically now.
This is a pot of "mother-in-law tongue" that I have on the patio. It turned out a bit better than the forsythia, I think.
I hope you had a relaxing Saturday too!

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Puppy Pile!!

We've had some fun doggy chaos here lately! You know we have Lacey and Sandy. Well, we've been dog-sitting my parents' pet, Tasha the Corgi, and for the past 2 days we've also had another visitor: Penny the Poodle :) Here they all are:
This was not an easy shot to get! Anna and Peter really had to control these puppies to get them to hold still for 5 seconds together.
(l-r: Tasha, Peter, Sandy, Lacey, Anna, Penny)

Other than the flowers,

We also had a few humans at the Biltmore House!! They don't let you take pictures inside the house, so my camera was a bit neglected until we left there and headed to the greenhouse. Most of these pictures were taken there:

Julia and Tessa have a little rest.
Adam smiles in anticipation of entering his FAVORITE house in America.
Julia ponders fish. She's really more of a bird girl.
Peter has these sudden attacks of silliness, especially when Adam is around. You see here that he has not yet gotten his cast, which ended up being a blinding green.
Anna LOVES holding Tessa and thinks she is adorable. Which, of course, she is :)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

When Life Is Too Busy,

I'm go glad for a cup of tea and a husband who makes chocolate/pistachio biscotti.

Biltmore Greenhouse

Here are some straight shots of the Biltmore House greenhouse. We visited there on Tuesday.

I can see these beauties as a watercolor painting, can't you?
Some plants there are just plain ODD.
The heights were truly dizzying. I love the glass ceiling.
Ruffles in purple. Do you think the fashion world is influenced by the floral world?
The orchids there are extensive, varied and fun.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Product Post #6: Comparing Candles

I confess: I'm a candle nut. I can hardly resist buying them; I burn them non-stop during Christmas season; when I was in the classroom, I had one going all the time. I love the aroma of a beautifully scented candle.

Here's one I bought years ago, probably at the BIG Yankee Candle store in Massachusetts. It sits in the middle of the dining room table, with a glass "shade" on it, so I don't burn it as often as I might. Thus, it's lasted a long time. Cost of this candle? A whopping $20.99 for 22 oz.
See how nicely it's burned down? There is not a smidgen of wax left on the sides of that jar.
Here's a shot from the side. (Sorry about the blackening. I think that's from using the shade.) Note how well the wax burns down. This Yankee Candle is expensive (in my opinion), but at least you get every last penny out of it! This candle will still burn for me.
As opposed to: this candle. WalMart special, "Mainstays" I think, made by Candlelite in Cincinnati, OH. The scent? Mulled Cider, and I LOVE how this candle smells! The cost? A mere $5.00!!! Yippee. However, note how poorly it burns:
It leaves TONS of wax on the sides of the jar. Now, skin-flint that I am, I assiduously scrape down the sides of my candle jars. I even dig old wax out of jars and keep it -- for YEARS, hoping to use it again! I tried gently bending the warm wax away from the sides of this candle, so it would melt better and more economically. But who has time to stand over a burning candle, tending to the wax like a baby?
Last time I used it, the wick went out and wouldn't re-lite. Wasted wax. Wasted money. Frustration.

So, judge for yourself: is it worth it to buy a higher quality candle, or will you spend $5 and get 1/3 of the value? Tough decision!

In which young men are very foolish:

Blake and Peter, after spending about 6 hours walking around town, decided they needed just a bit more exercise, and went in the back yard to play on Peter's old rope.
The rope is broken, and is really short, as you can see. Blake has to reach up to grab it.
And Blake demonstrates the particular trick they were working on today -- the flip over. He did it from a standing position -- feet over head, flip over, release.
So Peter gives it a try.
Up ... up ...
And over!!

Later, they told me they wanted to do a "funny video." And when they came in the house, Peter said, "I think I sprained my wrists." They did get this event on the camera phone -- Peter tried the trick with a run in front, giving him more momentum. After he flipped, he fell straight down, and landing on both wrists. Poor kid! He soaked them in warm water, but still, at dinner, couldn't pick up his pizza, and needed to use a straw to drink his Cheerwine :(

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Sabbath Puzzle

[Warning: This post contains theological details that some readers may find boring and unreasonably nit-picky. Don't say I didn't warn you!]

I’m in my 40s, and only a couple of weeks ago, I believe I finally, finally came to a full, satisfying understanding of what the Sabbath means. This is an issue I’ve been struggling with for decades, honestly ever since I began to think seriously of my own faith. Let me see if I can summarize my frustrations, such as they were: If the Old Testament law states that the Sabbath ordinance is an ETERNAL covenant agreement between God and His people, why does the modern church take such a lax attitude toward observing the Sabbath? Conversely, if the Old Testament law was totally fulfilled in Christ, as the New Testament says, and if (as Christ Himself states) the Sabbath was made for man’s sake, and not the other way around, then why do we still observe it at all?

And there are plenty of folks on both sides of that argument who can talk you into the ground on obedience to God’s Word, or on the wonder of our Christian liberty and freedom from the law. Sigh. I found myself in both camps and came away very confused.

So, for years, I observed a muddy middle, kind of setting aside Sundays as a special day for church, but not wanting to be a legalist. We took naps and watched football, avoided eating out or traveling, but would do it in a pinch. But honestly, what’s the good of half-baked obedience? I wasn’t really sure what God wanted me to do with my Sundays.

And then there was the whole issue of Sunday in the first place. Why Sunday? What is a Sabbath anyway, but a day of REST after WORK? So, if we observe a Sabbath at all, shouldn’t we be doing it on the 7th day of the week, at the end of our work? If our Sabbath observance is supposed to pattern God’s in any way, shouldn’t it reflect His rest after His work? Why were we “resting” at the beginning of the week? More confusion!! The Sabbath was a huge puzzle.

And then I heard Pastor Love preach one Sunday, and he started putting my puzzle together for me. His emphasis in this sermon was on explaining to me what the Lord’s Day is – in other words, WHY we do what we do on Sundays.

And it was VERY informative! I never realized how many things the New Testament church did on the first day of the week! They clearing designated this day, Sunday, the FIRST day, as the one they chose for worship, fellowship, eating together, taking offerings, doing good in service, etc. Rev. Love led me through all those incidents in Acts and other passages. I understood what the Lord’s Day was – yes! And from then on, I determined to call Sunday the Lord’s Day, and with a full and happy heart, realized that on Sundays I was celebrating Christ’s resurrection day as those early Christians did.

Great. So, what was this Sabbath stuff that we still toss around? If Sundays were the Lord’s Day, why do some still call them a Sabbath? How were those early Christians “resting”? This still made no sense to me, and I came perilously close to jettisoning all inclination toward any “Sabbath” observance right out my theological window.

But those Old Testament passages haunted me. I could hear God telling Moses and the Israelites that this was an everlasting ordinance, to be followed by their generations forever. What did God mean? I even considered, in terror, the horrible sinking idea that perhaps we should be observing a Sabbath on Saturday, and then the Lord’s Day on Sunday. But NOBODY does that!! I must be insane.

Until this year, when we began studying heaven. And we dug back into those wonderful Old Testament passages in which God makes His covenant with Abraham and gives him His promises – eternal promises. Promises of a plenteous people, and of LAND, and to be their God. Hebrews tells us that Abraham left his home, and traveled to a land he didn’t know, NOT so that he could possess some dirt in the Middle East as his promised land, but because he – Abraham! – understood that the LAND God promised to him was an eternal land, a heavenly land, the New Earth.

And I understood that much of what God was covenanting with Abraham were eternal things – things that are fulfilled in heaven.

I spent time reading and rereading Hebrews 4 and corresponding passages. I contemplated on “Rest.” God’s rest after creation, the believer’s rest after this life, the weekly rest, and Christ’s rest after his work was accomplished. And one passage from Grady’s sermon (the notes of which I’ve kept for years in my Bible) drew me back. I even found some of the source material Grady used, and dug back into a 19th century sermon given by one Rev. Waldegrave. Here’s what he said, and I warn you – it was revolutionary for me:

“This [Christ’s] entrance into rest, was in, by, and at his resurrection from the dead … Then, and therein, were all types, all prophecies and predictions fulfilled, that concerned the work of our redemption. … There did the Lord Christ enter into his rest, after he had finished, and ceased from his works, on the morning of the first day of the week, when he arose from the dead, the foundation of the new creation being laid and perfected.

“Here lieth the foundation of our sabbatizing, of the sabbatism that remains for the people of God. This reason doth the apostle give of it. He had before asserted it; and there remained no more for him to do, but to manifest, that as those other rests which were passed, the one at the beginning of the world, the other at the giving of the law, had their foundation in the works and rests of God, whence a day of rest was given out to the church; so had this new rest a foundation in the works and rest of Christ, who built all these things and is God, determining a day for our use, in and by that whereon himself entered into his rest, that is the first day of the week.”

Okay, let me summarize Rev. Waldegrave for you. Do we observe the Sabbath? YES!! Why? Because Christ, upon the moment of His resurrection on Sunday morning, entered into HIS rest. He is, right now, in His rest, because His great work of salvation is completed. We observe a SUNDAY Sabbath because that was the day that Christ entered into his eternal rest. This is the reason we observe a Sabbath – not because of some left-over Old Testament legalism, but because of a wonderful Old Testament covenant, that God would give us eternal rest. Our Sabbath isn’t a rest from weekly work, but an eternal one – we’re participating in Christ’s rest with him, right now!

Now, I cannot tell you how excited it makes me to realize that the eternal rest has already started! I feel like a Heavenly Party has begun, and I get to participate each week! I feel that, each Sunday, I’m participating in a wonderful event, one which is personal and precious to me – a celebration of Christ’s finished work, and the solid promise of a bodily resurrection that THAT Sunday stands for. Every Sunday, I’m avowing that I look in eagerness for heaven, and my friend, oh, I do!!

If you figured all this out years ago, more blessed are you ☺ But how happy I am to realize all of this, at last.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Signs of Life

These pictures are from my yard. Right now, today, this is what spring looks like:

Some things look dead, really dead. Honestly, when something looks that dead, you should just give up, shouldn't you? Actually, this bush was severely pruned in the fall. It will recover. It has life, but it's just not able to show it right now.
And some plants are slower than others. Take this flowering quince, for example. It's hesitant to burst open. Give it a few days. All its energy is tightly bound up in those little balls, and it's just NOT as free and easy as, say, the crocus, but it is abiding by its own schedule, and it will flower in its own time.

Same with the camellia, except these little guys have waited all winter to bloom. Ideally, they should have been in their glory a month or more ago, but the winter was deep and cold, and the camellia fought valiantly to sustain these blooms, in limbo, waiting for warmer days. Sometimes the trials of life keep us from blooming as we'd like.
These happy faces met me this morning as I exited the house. Don't they exude happiness and brilliance?
The crocuses will be the first to wither, and then these daffodils, but for now, they shout forth spring, sunshine and glory.
The pussy willows are early as well. This tree rests next to Julia's monkey bars, and she sits atop the bars and strokes the pussy willow fur.
This one is her favorite, and she even gave him a name.
As we look at each other in our walks of faith, we should bear in mind that each of us is at a different stage, and we don't all show the same "signs of life." Grace toward each other includes allowing others to be at the stage of glory that God has allotted at that time.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Sure feels like it!!

Today especially, we all have a strong desire to go OUTSIDE!! Adam and I were at church from 7:30 this morning until 2:30 this afternoon. Wonderful fellowship, eating, worship, music. Now we're home, and so thankful for sunshine and warmth. I took off my wool pants and long-sleeved, turtleneck (polyester, ick!!) sweater, socks, and replaced them with cotton capris, a blue shell top and a light cotton overshirt. Yay!

Adam had a very helpful, encouraging weekend in Charlotte, in a recruiting seminar for new pastors in a good denomination. He goes back tomorrow for a follow-up interview. We are thankful to God for this encouraging turn of events.

Well, must do some writing, some reading, and I must say, it will be hard to concentrate, because I still just want to be outside :) However, this week is our spring break (yippee from all concerned!!) so I'll have plenty of hours to piddle around (in the American usage -- Brits mean something altogether different in 'piddling') in the yard.

See ya in the sun!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Chair Recovery

This is an old chair I bought somewhere -- probably a junk store. It is sturdy, with beautiful wood, but the seat was worn when I bought it, and after only a few months as Julia's school chair, you can see how the seat pad has worn away on the edge. I popped it out of the chair frame, as you see. (Sorry the photo is dark.)
I began looking for some fabric to cover the seat. Here's what I chose: a cushion cover from Salvation Army (50¢). It was the right size, sturdy and new, and (best of all) provided me with TWO pieces of fabric, so that when one wears out, I'll have another! I got out my sewing scissors and cut two grand squares from it this morning.
Then I requested Adam's staple gun, and (after discovering I wasn't strong enough to use it) Adam's strength too. Happily, he recalled covering chairs with his mom, and promptly did a great job in stapling on the new fabric. Tada!! here is our lovelier chair!