Today I am thankful for the incredibly wonderful smell of pinion wood burning in a chiminea, for bedtime snuggles and kisses from my sweet Little Jo, and that despite being terribly in-between girls and women’s sizes, my lovely daughter now once again owns a pair of jeans that actually fit her and that only cost $10.50 and a couple hours of earnest shopping.
I am thankful for feeling cozy indoors on cold windy autumn evenings, guacamole, Cosby Show reruns with my kiddos, forgiveness, and a sweet Hubby who helps schlep our little darlings around when I have a fever, even though he’s sick as a dog himself.
Today I am thankful for:
The first pomegranates of the season, delicious and easy home made pizzas on naan bread, the grace of modern medicine, and friendly grocery store personnel!!
or at least designed. from start to finish.
Jonathan was a bit put out after the last cake went to celebrate someone else’s birthday, and he didn’t get one. teeny. tiny. taste.
I told him this week’s cake was to be specially made with the children in mind. So he requested lemon. And because Abigail is not a huge fan of the frosting (no, James she is not related to you or me!) I made lemon pudding to fill the center with. It was really easy, really yummy, and kept the cake very moist.
I kept my word to both Moms!! and made a buttercream icing with real butter this week. And of course, with some lemon juice and lemon zest, because we are after all talking about the lemony-est cake ever made in Texas! Josiah thought the frosting was very tasty, and after locating his sister’s bath towel, laid down to enjoy licking the beater clean
At class this week we practiced many things: flowers, shell borders, ROSES, oh yes, and clowns. I failed the clowns part (just ask Sandra), so none of those appear on my cake. Plus, I think my children are all afraid of them!
After I’d practiced in class, I brought my cake home still blank except for its lemon icing. The children and I stood around the peninsula in the kitchen while the four kids picked out frosting colors, watched me mix them, and then requested what types of flowers I make with each color (Josiah said we must have blue flowers!). They were amazingly cute and sweet about my very novice decorations. When I plopped the first rose down on top of the cake they all whooped and shouted and insisted it was really, really awesome!!!
Well, I’d say my little designers did well….I think the final creation is quite stunning:
Here is most of my design team:
One last pic of this colorful cake:
For my 27th birthday this year, my sister and brother-in-law gave me a free ride to a Wilton Cake Decorating Class. Which was really swell of them, considering I’ve always longed to be able to make the cakes which I bake for family birthdays look more appealing than they usually do! Of course, Sandra wasn’t going to send me on to class without a buddy, so all through the month of May, we have the fun of “going to school” together! Which is sorta neat b/c she was five years behind me in regular school, so we didn’t often run in the same circles. Or even really in the same schools, come to think of it.
This week we brought home our first cakes. Certain of us in the class worked SO long on smoothing our icing that we were stuck with “homework” to finish the decorations!! I don’t have pics of Sandra’s cake, but it was really pretty. I was especially impressed with her creative use of color.
Here is my little creation (note: the pink appears a tad bit more florescent than it actually was in real life!). The cake is pink and brown, not black.
I don’t have photos of the insides, because we used it to help a friend celebrate her birthday, and then sent it on home with her. But I can vouch for the fact that it was tasty!! It is a Hershey’s Chocolate Cake Recipe, and I brushed the layers with Bailey’s Irish Cream, and filled the middle with Chocolate Buttercream (real buttercream, not that Crisco stuff we had to use for the icing this first week).
Those in the know inform me that using shortening in your icing helps achieve a smooth finish, and makes the stuff easier to pipe and work with. Maybe so, but I still don’t love the taste, never mind that it grosses me out just a little to think about eating spoonful after spoonful of shortening piped atop my dessert!! I did put some actual cocoa powder in the icing I used for the brown centers of the flowers, etc. Gave it a fun little kick!!
This next week I hope to frost the cake in buttercream made with real butter, and use the Crisco recipe for the decorative parts only. We’ll see how that works out.
Of course, they tell me we’ll be learning how to make clowns next week…when my kids heard this, the six-year-old asked, “Hey Mom, couldn’t you maybe make a Darth Vader and a Luke Skywalker instead? And you could have them fighting with light sabers on top of the cake. Now THAT would be cool!”
Yes, my boy, that would be cool. Very cool. And a heck of a lot less scary than those freaky-looking little clowns!
Anyone else remember that song from the Brady Bunch way back when?? Loved those singin’ Brady Kids!
Almost a year ago and Abigail and I talked about the possibility of participating in the Locks of Love program. If you’ve not heard of it you can read about it here. Basically, it is a non-profit organization that exists for the sole purpose of helping disadvantaged children who have permanent hair loss due to medical issues. The organization makes beautiful wigs from hair that is donated by individuals all over the US and Canada. Prostheses of this nature are expensive to purchase, but Locks of Love makes it possible for children who would not normally be able to afford them to enjoy the sense of “normalcy” that comes with having hair again.
Which makes me consider: how many times have I complained about my hair for whatever reason? The idea of not having any is shocking, but many of us, if asked could probably list off several things about our hair that bugs us.
Well, one thing the women in the Horne household are blessed with is LOTS of hair!! And thinking about all those children who don’t have any at all made Abigail and I want to help, so after a few months of growing our hair out to longer than we’d normally wear it, we called a local salon and made appointments to each take off a long ponytail for donating to LOL. We knew we’d each be losing 10-11 inches of hair so yes, we were a little nervous about the whole thing, but also very excited!!
Awhile back, we took some before shots to chronicle this momentous event:
Well…..today was the day!! You gotta have the shot with her holding up her 11 inch ponytails!!
Abigail was kind enough to take a shot of me preparing to lose about ten pounds, er inches of hair:
And then another:
She really had fun with the camera!! Here she is getting her “shampoo”:
The salon we used made it easy to send our donated ponytails in to Locks of Love: they provided the paperwork, and packaged and mailed everything in for us.
And….when we were all finished….
Isn’t she cute with her new ‘do??
WOW!! I cannot remember when i have EVER had my hair this short!
Note: if you are in the Dallas area, and interested in participating in Locks of Love, the Artistik Edge Salon in Lake Highlands partners with this organization, and will cut and style your hair free of charge if you are a donator. I am happy to tell you their services are not only free, but excellent!! Both Abigail and I received beautiful cuts from a lovely young lady today.
More importantly, it makes us really happy to think about a child somewhere, someday in the not-too-distant future getting their new hair, and knowing we got to have a little part in making that happen for them.
As a child growing up in the Baptist, E.V. Free and Presbyterian traditions, I do not recall our family ever observing Lent. When Jay and I married and joined a Presbyterian church body, Lent continued to go fairly unnoticed until a couple of weeks before Easter when we certainly were inclined to meditate on the events leading up to Passover, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and finally Resurrection Sunday.
For the past couple of years we have attended a wonderful and truly refreshing PCA church here in Dallas. I could go on and on about the ways our family has been blessed by being a part of this body, but that is a post for another time. While this particular congregation does not collectively observe Lent, a number of our dear friends within the church do, and over these last two years I have watched them as they choose to give up a particular indulgence during the forty days leading up to Easter as a way to focus more on Christ, his sufferings, and ultimately their faith in and walk with him. Until this year though, I have never felt compelled to join the ranks of those “giving up something” for the season of Lent.
But the fact is, that for a host of reasons, I have felt more keenly aware of my own sins and shortcomings in recent months. This is not to say that I have become more sinful than before; perhaps I have, but that is not my point. I have truly felt more of a struggle with my sin, and a sense of frustration as I battle against it than I have felt in a long time. Mostly, I accept this as a positive thing, for if we are not finding ourselves battling sin then perhaps we are either ignoring it, or becoming complacent or even hardened to it. Yet the outworking of struggling against our sin can be exhausting!
Our family is experiencing a set of somewhat challenging circumstances on several fronts. Though I might choose to end these trials in favor of an easier time, these challenges are certainly pushing and prodding us to learn and grow in new ways, and to become more sanctified than we might otherwise. So I am ultimately thankful for the opportunity to know more of Christ and what it means to serve Him, whatever my circumstances in this life. We are learning firsthand that no growth occurs without a good deal of hardship and some pain along the way.
Which brings me to Lent. In the midst of this hardship, I would like another reminder to continue to cling to Christ: to trust his kindness, his love for me, and his promise to help me travel through whatever paths he has planned for my good and his glory. Toward this end, I would like to turn away from an area in my own life which has plagued me since I was a young child, more and less depending on my circumstances. And so…I am going to try to give up biting my nails for Lent.
It might sound silly; most people I know give up chocolate or alcohol, or even Facebook (!) in an attempt to indulge less in the pleasures of this world, and focus more on Christ. But there is no glaring area of my life where I habitually ignore Christ’s call to trust him more than in the pathetic and ugly act of continually biting my nails. It is for me a sinful reaction to the stresses and pressure of life, and an area which, due to more stresses than I can remember in a long time, I have absolutely just given up trying to tame in any way recently.
Some people when they are stressed, go eat a bag of chips or a carton of ice cream, others turn to their god of alcohol to numb the pain of life, still others spend money they do not have in an effort to escape from the cares of their present situation. When things get tough for me, I choose to destroy my poor little fingers!! And while it doesn’t make me fat, or create heart or liver disease, or financial debt I cannot repay, I can safely state that it is a poor stewarding of the body of I’ve been given, and therefore not in keeping with behavior fitting one who calls themselves a Christian. Additionally, it is an outward manifestation of a refusal to give certain hardships and stresses over to Christ who has promised to help me carry whatever burdens I encounter in this life.
So…for the next forty days I am making a commitment to try my very best, with an abundance of help and grace from God above, to turn away from my nasty habit, and turn instead toward Christ. If, in every instance where I went to nibble on a nail, I instead stopped, took a moment to pray and meditate on the things of Christ, and fixed my eyes upon him instead of my worries, how could it not help me to love him more, and worry less about my circumstances? My prayer is that he might use this simple act of faith from a struggling sinner to strengthen my frailty and glorify himself more in me.
If anyone else is choosing to observe Lent this year, I’d love to hear about why you are doing it, and what you are choosing to abstain from or give up. Maybe we can be of help and encouragement to each other these next forty days. And regardless of your personal position or beliefs about Lent, “May we all continue to fix our eyes on Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross…..so that you will not grow weary and lose heart”.
Well, readers, I had it all planned for you – my latest cleaning conquest to encourage you in your own Cleanout efforts. My “before” pictures were done, and I had an entry written in my head more or less. And then…my back went out. (Again, not that you need to know.) The truth is, I’ve been having pretty chronic lower back pain on and off for several weeks now, but it would appear that my cleaning frenzy has done nothing to help matters; if anything I am worse. Absolutely shocking, I know.
Given my current state – inability to bend down, lean over, or do pretty much anything a SAHM worth her salt should be able to do, it’s been less than a productive day. All I can do is grunt loudly and gesture wildly at objects for the children to pick up and put away. This didn’t seem a good system use while executing on a major cleanup project, so I am truly sorry to say….
I got nothin’ for ya. So sorry, faithful readers.
However, I will share with you that after Jonathan’s basketball practice, the kids and I managed a drive-by ogling at George and Laura’s new digs. It will probably surprise all of you to learn they did not choose our lovely ‘hood as their future residence – too bad, I’d have brought over my famous bundt cake to welcome them and everything.
Well, I truly hope that some of you have accomplished more in your homes than I did in my own today. Remember, I will be drawing a winner (completely at random) on Monday. So finish up those cleanouts, and leave me a comment so you have a chance at that giveaway!!
Ok, I admit it: after several days of a cleaning frenzy (on top of all other regularly scheduled programming around here, plus a sleepless night with a croupy three year-old thrown in for fun!), I am TIRED! But….also encouraged. I am learning a lot as I cull through, purge, and put back together various areas in our home. Thanks for your comments, those of you who’ve popped in to say hello, I look forward to seeing the progress you are making in your own homes this week!!
Since I didn’t have as much energy or time today to devote to massive cleaning out, I limited myself to fixing up the games cabinet. We have a great set of built-ins in our living room, the whole bottom of which are shelves that are perfectly sized for games and puzzles. This morning the area looked like this:
You can’t see minute details in the photo, but believe me when I tell you that behind that mess of boxes was a little army of lost game pieces, dice, cards, and puzzle pieces — all of them crying out at once, to be put back in their proper box!
Well, after some hard work with a couple of my Junior Cleanup Trainees we managed this:
A definite improvement, yes?? Games closets will always get a little messy with tiny kids in the house, but here’s hoping we can maintain order behind these doors just a little better from here on out!