Friday, October 16, 2009


Where have I been since August 16th? Getting my guys back to work, a trip, company, canning, another trip, more company, more canning, an interesting weekend, more company (I am one blessed Auntie 'Ginia!), another trip and a LOT of rest!!

This morning I woke up to hear someone on the radio talking about tithing. They were talking about tithing money and about the blessings God promises when we do. I had two problems with what was said and I wonder what you think about this.

First, they were restricting their definition of the tithe to money. My understanding of the Old Testament culture is that tithing was everything you had. It was the produce from your land and your flocks. You were expected to use your artistic talents for the benefit of the temple. You were expected to expend time and energy to keep the temple and the city maintained. So how much time are we spending working to maintain our church? How much of our energy goes into training a class of 13 year-olds during the week? How much time do we spend using our talents, whether that be artistic or scientific, to improve our church building? Writing a check for these things is not that difficult, even when our finances are not in great shape. Being the one to take the initiative and teach a single mother how to grocery shop economically, or change her oil and rotate her tires for her when it needs to be done (not necessarily on our twice a year schedule if we even have such a program) is another matter entirely.

The other problem I had with what was said was the assumption that the blessing God states He will pour out on us when we are faithful with our finances is more money. More money? Better financial stability? If that is the blessing, what do we say to the vibrant, committed Christians living in China, Sudan, and Indonesia who have nothing? These people who take money they could use to improve their family's diet and instead give it to another Christian who is suffering? Or the Christians who have no church to give their money to? Shortly after a man I know lost his home to hurricane Katrina, he was traveling in a third-world country to preach and teach and help pastors in that country. When one of those groups found out about his loss, they took up a collection to help him. These were people who in one year will make less than most of us will make in a week. This was a man who had resources like insurance, extended family, and governmental programs to help he and his wife recover. He was taken aback by this desire to help but the translator insisted that he could not refuse because it would remove a blessing from those wanting to give. The people who helped are not in much better financial shape now than they were then. However the joy and the grace that they received from this act is immeasurable. The blessings that God promises are so much more than money and "financial peace". To interpret them to mean that is limiting God and denying ourselves an opportunity to experience what He means by the word "blessing". It is time we moved beyond this limited thinking and started growing in our understanding a bit more. God's blessings of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are far more valuable than having a healthy checking account, a big home, an extra car and several months worth of food in our freezers and pantries!

Recently Mark and I have been thinking and talking a LOT about stewardship in our home. I'll leave you with a verse that keeps coming to mind as we think and talk about this...this is the verse that is on our dry-erase board in our kitchen.

"Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself (poured Himself out), taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men." Phil. 2:5-7

Pour yourself out for the glory of God today!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"Radical" ideas

Isn't it interesting how you can be thinking about something and then within days hear a sermon about that topic? Sometimes the sermon confirms what I have been thinking and sometimes it corrects my thinking. And yes, sometimes I have walked away shaking my head and wondering why that pastor isn't as smart as I am. Then I am reminded that he is smarter!
Over this past week or so Mark and I have talked about heaven and the skewed view that many of us seem to have. Somewhere I heard the question, "What are you most looking forward to about heaven?". I started running through my mental list of things. A reunion with my Granny and Grandaddy and Grandma. Getting to know my Grandpa. A sinless life! An eternity in a perfect world. I stopped short when I realized what I was doing. Did you notice? Did you catch what is missing? Where does being in the presence of God and glorifying Him fall on my list? My list is horribly self-centered and self-absorbed. Heaven is NOT about ME. Heaven is about GOD! I did the study a few years ago of Randy Alcorn's book. I have listened to sermon series on the topic. I have attended enough funerals in my life-time to have heard a lot about the subject of heaven. Yet over and over and over again in the church in our culture (I can not speak for other cultures), the teaching may start with focusing on God but it seems to veer away from this to the benefits that we will enjoy. Yes, there are benefits to be found and they will certainly be enjoyable. But those benefits are not the primary reason heaven will be so wonderful. The primary reason heaven will be wonderful is that we will be in the presence of GOD and will see him clearly for the first time. WOW doesn't even begin to express that, does it?

Last night Mark and I began working through a sermon series that our pastor did last fall. This is the Radical series. As we began the first sermon, our pastor talked about the fact that in the American church today we too often see Jesus as a means to an end. Jesus will keep us from hell. Jesus will get us into heaven. Jesus will save us from our sins. Jesus will make our lives easier (and if you believe that I suggest that you go re-read John 15:18-21!). Jesus does indeed save us from hell, make a way for us into heaven, and save us from our sins. But Jesus is NOT the means to these ends. Jesus Himself is the end! When we see Him as the way of accomplishing an end or goal or purpose, and forget that He is very God of very God, we are failing to understand that He is worthy of all our praise and worship just because He is Who He is. Yes, we are thankful for what He does for us, please don't misunderstand me. But He is to be worshipped and praised just because He is Jesus. We don't worship Him because He does or is something, or even for doing or being something. We just worship Him.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Homestead TV: Special Guest!

Last week was a crazy week with us out running errands from Friday, July 31 through Saturday, August 8 (with church thrown into the middle of that of course). Whew! It's good to have a few days at home and get caught up with the latest episodes of Homestead TV.

Marvelous Mark has been very marvelously busy today putting up the new ceiling fans on the front porch. Hurray!!! The porch is wired for three fans (it is so long that it takes that many to be effective) and the old fixtures were in horrible shape. Just motors hanging from the ceiling with no blades. We discovered that one of them had been turned on for who knows how long and had seized up. So it was using/wasting electricity and creating a fire hazard but not much beyond that. I hope to see a change in the power bill after fixing that.

The new fans are up and they make a lovely difference when we sit in the anniversary chairs. While Marvelous and I were sitting in the living room and he was getting the fans ready to put up, he stealthily got up to look out the window and whispered, "LOOK!". I tried. I really did. But I was not stealthy enough or fast enough, or something. I grabbed the camera, though, and went and sat in the anniversary chair (with the fan on, thank you very much) and waited. I heard something here.

I waited. And waited. And soon he came out.

Yes, it is definitely a he. No female would have such thin legs!

Or be so proud of them. (Well, OK, maybe...)

He sat for a long time before getting spooked and leaving.

I also caught this picture and I can not decide if the cloud looks like a baby sucking its thumb or Snoopy thumbing his nose. I guess it depends on the mood of the moment.

Finally, I am including this picture because not only can you see the pole beans that are planted for decoration and food (we believe that it is fine to play with your food as long as it isn't on the table yet), but I think the red sky to the west is a pretty backdrop.

Just for the record, Kermit did make a repeat appearance last night but it was too late and dark for any pictures.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Monday morning

Monday morning is starting early today. The temperatures here are getting a little closer to normal for August ~ we had been running much cooler than normal through June and July. With the temperatures cranking up today (and let's not even talk about the heat index!) it seems prudent to do the outside stuff as early as possible. Usually on days like this I would get laundry going by 5:30 am, but I slept in today and did not get up until 6:00. Marvelous Mark is out there fighting the grass. The downside of working outside early is that the grass is still pretty wet. Oh well, beats trying to do it after 9 when it gets hot, humid and miserable.

Yesterday was a terrific day at church. Our church is starting some Bible classes so Mark and I will be taking one 2 hour class together in the fall and Mark will be taking a theology class (without me). We are looking forward to these. I'm excited about the fact that our church is excited about doing this. The pastoral staff has made it clear that these are classes for the sake of preparing God's people to share the Gospel both here in town and around the world. There is an emphasis around our church family of asking the question, "What does God want me to do with this (talent, knowledge, ability) that can have an impact on the world for His glory?". This is a question that we hear from the pulpit, no matter who is preaching, and from the people walking out of the sanctuary on Sunday.

The link to this week's sermon is here. Dr. Bart Box brought the message this week since our Pastor is out of town. Rather than try to summarize it, I would encourage you to go listen to it.

I'm off to drink some more water and get Marvelous Mark a glass of tea. Have a great week!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Yard Sale Pictures

It is only Friday night and already the weekend is getting too long. Sad to be so old, isn't it?
I am not going to try and go to the Vestavia Hills High School event tomorrow. It kind of makes me sad because I think it is such a great and creative idea and because I love the whole Diet Coke and Mentos thing. Instead, Marvelous Mark and I are going to take a brief look at a couple of local yard sales in the morning and I am going to enjoy my home the rest of the day! That way, I won't be too tired for Sunday (see my logic?). OK, that being said, here are the pictures of my yard sale treasures from Thursday. If I find anything Saturday I will post as soon as I can.

First, I found these cookie cannisters and jars and plate hangers for a whole $1.00 for everything. I love the Animal Crackers tin.

The pansy tin has already found a good use:

Peanut butter chocolate chunk cookies, anyone?

Mark found these for a good friend. They have had a tradition of finding each other's marbles over the years, so he couldn't resist this buy. Now Hugh will have a few more marbles to add to his collection.

Then we have the three apple boxes for $1.00 each (!) and a copy of Dante's Divine Comedy for $6.00. Did you have to read The Inferno in sophmore lit at college?

Mark found this suitcase for another $1.00 and the suit bag for $3.00. He may be doing some traveling soon, but if not, he read recently about using the suitcase for home organization and storage. I don't think we could find cheaper storage containers!

I had one other find that I am not going to post a picture of yet. It's a special gift for one of the very special men in my life, so I don't want to run the risk of spoiling a surprise. I will post the pictures and tell the story behind it as soon as I can.

My final picture is my BIG treasure. I found this at a little place that was hosting a bunch of antique shops cleaning out their inventory a little bit. It is not more than 100 years old (and probably not quite that old), because it does have some metal hardware in it in two places. I fell in love with it. The curve of the seat and the way the back is constructed makes it one of the most comfortable chairs I have sat in for a long time. It is going in the front room/craft room for now but will eventually go in the living room. No, I am not going to refinish it, because I like the way it looks. It is certainly not perfect; it is missing some of the spindles under the right arm rest and there are a couple of cracks here and there, but I do love it. Won't this be a good place to hold and rock great-nieces and nephews and any other babies God may put in my path to love on?

Just a couple of quick updates; I'll post pictures of my treasures from the sale later today.
First, we did not make it all the way to Chattanooga, let alone Dunlap. Sigh. I had hoped I could see my sweet friend Jennie, but maybe soon Marvelous Mark and I can drive up there for the express purpose of seeing her. I did find some super things and Marvelous and I both came home tired and a little sunburned, but very happy.
Secondly, thanks so much to those of you who have been praying for Layla Grace. Her second surgery went well, her belly is getting back to normal size and she is feeling a little perkier. However, the surgeon cautioned her Mama that there is a good chance she will have to have a second surgery for this fluid build up. Please pray that the surgeon will see that God is the healer of Layla Grace and she will not need any further surgery.
Finally, I got a huge honor yesterday from my sweet friend Ashley on her Sassy Gal blog. Sassy Gal is an incredible God-reflecting lady, wife, Mama, daughter, friend and example. She let me guest blog my peach preserves recipe. I had forgotten how challenging writing down a recipe can be! I was reminded of my Junior High students when we did a unit together on how to write directions to do something and most of them chose to write a "simple" recipe. Each one of them got a laugh from all the others by leaving out one crucial step (like putting the top on the blender before you turn it on!).
Have a fun morning and check back later for those pics!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Huge Weekend

It's gonna be a huge weekend around here, folks, and I am excited!! Here's the game plan.

Thursday begins the World's Longest Yard Sale, also known as the Highway 127 Sale. Many years ago we lived on Signal Mountain, Tennessee and later down in Chattanooga. We used to follow the sale along the mountain and enjoyed every moment of it....when the slow drivers weren't frustrating us (sorry, had to be honest there). Once again we live in the fairly near vicinity of this and will catch the end from Gadsden, Alabama maybe up to Dunlap, Tennessee (Maybe...hopefully...are you home, Jennie??). We have a few things we are looking for but we are mostly looking forward to enjoying the fun of it.

Friday is library day, always a big time in our home! Yes, the library is in Jefferson County, Alabama (have you been reading about them in the news recently?). No, to date they have not messed up the library system with their nonsense.

Saturday. Ah, Saturday! I am so excited about Saturday that I giggle every time I think about it. A local high school band in the 'Ham is having an innovative fund-raiser this Saturday. They are charging $5.00 admission per person. For the modest fee of $5.00, I get to go to the high school stadium and take part in (are you ready for this?) an attempt to have the world's biggest Diet Coke and Mentos fountain. Whoo-hoo!! I am so excited about this I would pay twice as much (gladly) to get to do this. Diet Coke and Mentos? World's biggest fountain? I'm in!! Possibly literally. And yes, I will be taking my camera and try to protect it while taking pictures. Do you think a large zip-lock would let me take decent pictures while protecting my treasured camera?

And then of course, there is Sunday. I really like my church and getting to go to Small Group and worship there on Sundays is huger than Diet Coke and Mentos. Wow!!

Garden Update Part I

So the clothesline picture was not the greatest shot in the world of the clothesline (it was hot and I was lazy...and a little worried about finding another yellow jacket!). So I thought I would tell you why there is a mountain in the driveway. My brother, Remarkable Robert, is a tree surgeon. He denies that and says he is really a tree mortician. Either way, he works with trees. He cuts down the dead ones, he trims off damaged branches, he gets them off houses and roads and cars when they fall down, etc. He has a very busy business. Every few days he winds up with a dump truck load of wood chips. Marvelous Mark suddenly had a thought one day and asked Remarkable if he could have a dump truck load of these chips. A chance to get rid of a load? Sure!!

So one day the truck made the climb up the street and voila! a load of wood chips in the driveway. This shot shows a diminished mountain, because the guys have been busy and taken care of about half of it already. Marvelous got busy (so did Dashing Dan) and started spreading them around the garden for mulch. Since our soil is not the best, this has been terrific. Instant compost!

Then Marvelous started thinking about how much he does not enjoy mowing and edging and weed-eating in the hot Alabama sun. Then he started thinking about how the grass is not doing too great in parts of our clay-y front yard and how much it was going to cost if we had to get a load of top-soil and grass seed or (worse yet) sod. So he and Dan started spreading the compost along the front sidewalk

and the grass-less parts of the front yard.

The master plan is that we will eventually have flower beds where there is now mulch (although I am really hoping for a vineyard) and that the mower will be used for a small bit of grass in the front and under the clothesline in the back. Hurrah for wood chips! Yippee for Remarkable Robert!! Scuppernongs, here we come!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Boo, Yellow Jackets!!

OK, if you are a Georgia Tech fan, don't get too upset about that title there. I like Georgia Tech. Not as much as I love my Vols, but I like Tech. Marvelous Mark's Dad went there briefly and was a huge fan the rest of his life. I'm not a big UGA fan, so I like Tech. But I do NOT like yellow jackets!!
If you had been riding up my street this morning around 10 am you would have been startled to see me scampering across the sidewalk to the front door with my hand on my rear. I got stung! Stupid yellow jackets! Marvelous Mark planted beans real close to my clothes line and at that time we did not know that the nasty little critters really like green bean flowers. They become very possessive of those flowers and don't want anyone getting near them. So if you get a little too close while hanging clothes on the line, they get pretty territorial. Stupid bugs! Fortunately it was only one. Fortunately the stinger did not get left in. Fortunately my Mama taught me to always wear a slip (one more layer of protection!). Fortunately I am not allergic to the little nuisances. But I do NOT like yellow jackets. Boo!!

Sunday, August 02, 2009


Here is a neat picture that I thought you might enjoy tonight (or this morning). This is the gift Marvelous Mark and I gave each other for our recent twenty-second anniversary. Wow! Y'all come and sit a spell.

Thanks for your prayers for Layla Grace and please continue to hold her up in your prayers.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Please pray for Layla Grace. Layla is not quite two years old and was diagnosed this spring with an aggressive form of neuroblastoma. Her progress so far has been a miraculous result of lots and lots of prayers. However, this weekend has been a very difficult weekend for her parents. She is back in the hospital and having some problems. Her web-page is here and she can also be followed on Facebook (there is a link to her Facebook page from her web-page). The most critically important thing that we can do for Layla and her family is to pray, and then pray, and then pray some more!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Great Pumpkin

If you ever call me on my cell phone and I don't answer, send the rescue crews to my house. The pumpkins will have gotten us! These things are monstrous and are growing at a truly alarming rate. This one reminds me a little bit of a dragon. Those long white things on the right are going to turn in to roots. These babies put roots down at each leaf and just keep moving along. Marvelous Mark has a way with plants and he has grown some state-fair-quality pumpkins in the past. These are Dill's Atlantic Giant Pumpkins. They are more aggressive than kudzu. Now you understand my fear. He planted this one within 20 feet of the front porch. I am worried! There is one itty-bitty pumpkin on it at this point; I'll post pictures as it grows.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Marvelous Mark strikes again! This wonderful man really can fix anything. My "new" sewing machine (it's only 21 years old) broke several weeks ago as I was finishing up a new dress. I asked Mark if he could cannibalize some parts from my Grandma's old cabinet machine that I had inherited several years ago and never used. This poor machine has been sitting unused for at least 15 years and quite possibly longer than that. It has been moved from Georgia to Vermont to North Carolina to South Carolina (lived at least 2 different places there) with Grandma (and it may have been in Switzerland before that, I'm not sure when Grandma got it); to Georgia where it was stored in a damp, leaky barn, then in a hot and dusty garage; off to Alabama where it was stored in an exterior storage room and then to our basement in our new home. Poor machine! We went down to the basement to look at it and on a whim, I plugged it in and to my great delight and surprise it worked!! Mark looked it over and strongly suggested that I go to using it more since the parts are all metal (the newer model has plastic gears) and should last for many more years. After we got some parts from Mom, I was able to finish my dress. Then it broke. Mark looked it over, cleaned it, oiled it still did not work. We were disappointed because repairing a machine can get pretty pricey. Two days later, Mark went in and the machine works. It's either Divine intervention or the oil finally soaked in, but I'm giving thanks and praise to God either way! So this week I will enjoy the steady rain we are hoping to get while I "Sew! Sew like the wind!" and finish up
1. A gift for a sister
2. A skirt
3. A dress
4. A couple more slips (I do NOT like nylon slips in the summer!)
5. Some bishop gowns to then be pleated and smocked.
Think that's enough to keep me busy?!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Night Time Homestead TV

I can not believe what just happened; Marvelous Mark, Dan and myself just got a glimpse of the space station passing over our home! What a fun and exciting edition of Homestead TV tonight. I'm a little surprised at myself being so excited about it, but it was really neat to see it racing so brightly across the sky. Here is a link to night-time viewing that you might find interesting. They have a map that lets you find the coordinates to your home and shows you on a star map adjusted to your home where to look for different things. Great fun! Another resource (if you are interested in night-time sky viewing) is a book by H. A. Rey. Yup, the man who wrote Curious George also did a terrific astronomy book titled, "The Stars: A New Way To See Them".
Anyway, that is our excitement for a Monday evening.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Mark and I went to the library today to pick up some books we had on hold. As a side note, isn't putting things on hold at the library the neatest thing EVER?! We can browse the catalog and find a book. A great deal of the time it happens to be at one of over a score of other libraries in our library system. So we just say to the library computer, "Excuse me, but would you please get that book for me and send it to the library of my choice?" And the computer says, "Why certainly! This book happens to be in Avondale (or Bessemer or Irondale or any one of a number of other places that we don't plan to visit in the near future). Shall I send it to Hoover for you, since that is the library you visit most often, or is there another location that would be more convenient to you?" Once those pleasantries are taken care of, the computer magically makes the book go to the library of our choice and then lets us know when it arrives! Not only that, it is so sweet and patient it gives us 4 days to pick up the book (unless we ask it for a little longer, please) and THEN lets us keep the it for 28 days and THEN asks us on day 24 if we are coming back to town or if we would like to renew it for another 2 weeks. Wow. Are we spoiled, or what?! I hope you have a nice library like we do!

Anyway, on to the topic I really meant to write about tonight. We found a book (it was on hold for us) titled, "Made From Scratch" by Jenna Woginrich. It's a nice book; very engaging and readable. It is the story of the author's foray into country living. She had a friend who helped her get started in this adventure and would often invite her over to her home to visit. Her friend had something she called Farm TV where they would sit on the porch and just watch all that would happen with the different animals. Sometimes her friend would get up to go do something in the house and say, "Summer re-runs; I caught this show the first time".
Mark and I have been enjoying our own version of homestead TV. Our porch has two new adirondack rocking chairs, thanks to our recent anniversary. We enjoy sitting on them in the cool of the evening and telling the hummingbirds good-night and welcoming the cicadas. Tonight we had a guest appearance. He passed by briefly last night (I thought I heard the announcer saying, "Tomorrow, on Homestead TV, a special guest appearance by...."). I managed to catch a picture even though it was starting to get late. I did find that he does not like the green flash that appears just before the camera flash goes off!

I suppose I ought to ask you to send in suggestions for a name. He (she?) does have one friend we have seen and possibly others (two is enough for me for right now!). So send a suggestion if you have one and if you are blessed to have a porch and a chair, let me know how your Homestead TV is going.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What's an Auntie to do?

What am I supposed to do? I went to the zoo and the babies were so cute, the big kids were so cute, the animals and the flowers made for some amazing hundred and twenty-two of them, to be exact! Even after culling the ones that were blurry or just not good, I still have over one hundred pictures. How in the world am I supposed to show one hundred pictures to you? Because of course, they all deserve to be seen. After all, these are the two cutest pre-schoolers around! I'll pick my top faves of each subject, but I wish you were here to look at the album on my computer with me.

Moses the Tractor Man

Makenna, aka, "Goldilocks". The last trip most of my pictures were of her little sister Miriam and the time before that most of the pics were of Moses, so this time was Makenna's turn and boy, do I ever have a bunch of cute ones of her!

The Aunts getting a little goofy after a long day in the sun. Or else Anne is tired of Auntie 'Ginia snapping her picture!

This time we saw the butterfly house, an exhibit that we usually bypass on our way to ride the train.

I'm sure that there have been times in my life when I have seen lily-pads in blossom, but I sure don't remember them. I don't know which I like better, the color of the flower or the pretty shadows they cast.

So those are my favorites. Today. Who knows what I will think tomorrow?! Next time you are in the vicinity of the Birmingham Zoo, I highly recommend that you stop and take a few moments to enjoy it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Zoo Day!

I'm always ready for a trip to the zoo, especially when it includes time with Moses and Makenna. When my sister Liz called last night with the suggestion that we meet there today I was thrilled! Moses and Makenna's parents and baby sister are out of town this week, which means that Nana Liz is spending time with them before she has to leave them for a long while to go overseas. I can hardly wait to help Moses and Makenna show Nana all about the Birmingham Zoo. Pictures tonight or tomorrow!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

First, a report. The Pell City Farmer's Market is rather small. If you are looking for big and showy and artsy-craftsy, you probably want to skip it and just head to Pepper Place in downtown Birmingham on Saturday mornings (and you need to get there before 8:30 because it gets really crazy by 9:00). In Pell City there is a local honey vendor, which is nice. I have tried to get local honey for a while to help my guys' allergy problems. Unfortunately, it has to be very local to help allergy problems and too often what is advertised as local means "within 350 miles". The county extension agent also has a booth at Pell City with lots of printed material available. I was amused; it was a little windy today so they had ziplock bags with dried beans as paper weights. It seemed like just the thing a county agent ought to do.
I had intended to take some pictures to show you. Unfortunately my camera died this morning. No big problem, it just needs new batteries, but I did not manage to get those before going to the market. Oh well, maybe next time!
Today I may well put the happy hat on and do the dance of joy. The stove-man cometh this morning; Banana Bread, here I come!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Last night I almost put on my happy hat and did the dance of joy. After several weeks of stove-only cooking because the oven was broken, the new oven arrived! Hurrah for Melvin, the remarkable realtor, who managed to get us a home warranty at the last minute on closing day! Without that I would be camp cooking for many more weeks. Anyway, the lovely new gas stove was delivered by Patrick and Michael last evening (I told them they are now two of my favorite people). They are the reason I did not put on the happy hat and do the dance of joy; Mark was afraid that this would make them jump back in their truck and peel out of the driveway as fast as they could go (I don't know why; Mark's reaction to the hat and the dance is not that bad). So today the installer will come and hook it up (I hope) and hopefully I can treat the guys to meatloaf for supper tonight and banana bread tomorrow.
We found out Sunday that Pell City has Farmer's Market on Wednesday afternoons, so we are going to head that way this afternoon (unless the stove person calls) and check it out.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Mark and I are small-church people. We have really enjoyed the times we have been part of a small community church. Once upon a time, Mark's criteria was that we lived close enough to the church that we could walk to it. Life is different in the big-city! The church where we have found ourselves at this time is anything but small, being in excess of 4,000 members! We are confident, however, that this is where God wants us at this time. We realized at one point that when we get to heaven we are going to be in a congregation much larger than this. Managing a church this size, even when you have a large sanctuary, is a challenge for the church leadership. Our church has had to go to multiple services (like many other churches). Mark and I choose to attend the evening service because it allows our son (who is a member of another church) to attend with us. The evening service is smaller, too, and the pastor feels a little less constrained to finish on time. Understand that smaller means just a few hundred folks, but when you are in a very large sanctuary, that feels like a lot less. That makes Sunday mornings a little interesting for us. We are not used to being at home on Sunday mornings. Sometimes we go visit other churches in our area, sometimes we listen to sermons on the internet, sometimes we just sit around. Sometimes when Mark starts talking about how it feels funny to not be at church on Sunday morning I start singing "Tradition!" from Fiddler On the Roof. It is important to not get so bound by tradition that we are doing something just because we think we are "supposed to". At the same time, my heart is not perfect and 100% in tune with the Spirit 100% of the time. There are times when I do things (like attend church and/or Bible study) for all the wrong reasons and God is still able to work in me and change my motivation so that He is honored by my presence.
But it still feels peculiar to attend church on Sunday night and not Sunday morning!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Summer time in a new house with a garden that was planted later in the year than normal has been a little crazier than I anticipated.
It's been a little busy with canning peach preserves and keeping my guys in line (that's a full-time endeavor right there). But I have made time to learn an interesting new skill. I have woven a rag rug on a frame loom. I used to try braided rag rugs but there was so much sewing involved I never finished one. Thinking back to the little pot holders I used to make as a child, I thought that the woven rugs would not require any sewing. I was wrong. However the amount of sewing is not that bad and since I was going for a rustic look anyway I did not care about whether or not my stitches were picture perfect. It was an interesting project and I think I will continue to try these. I learned what I should have done differently and what I liked about doing it. The best part is that I finished it in time for a smocking guild meeting at my home Wednesday morning and since I had planned to use it as a bathmat, I placed it on the floor of the guest bathroom (also known as Dan's bathroom). Yesterday evening Dan asked me why it was there. I told him that it had been intended as a bathmat all along and I put the first one in his bathroom to show off. His response? "Can it stay there? I like it; it's just the right size and it feels good on my feet". My response? You wonderful son! A compliment like that from a 20 year old son guarantees a life-time supply!!

Monday, June 08, 2009

I'm still here; I'm still here!
After the last post I had some issues with the blog host and was not able to post for several days. The house has kept me busy last week getting ready for company. YAY!!!! My parents came to town and spent Thursday through Saturday with us at our house. It was super to get to spend this time with them. They stopped off in Augusta on the way over and brought us some things from my sister. This is the rocking chair that sat in the bedroom I shared with my sister Nancy for a number of years. When I remember bedtime back in those days, I remember sitting in Mama's lap in this chair while she read me a Bible story, taught me the catechism and taught me to pray. Needs a litttle TLC but I am delighted to have this in my home now. Thanks, Liz!

Just for the record, no, Mama did NOT ride like this all the way from Augusta. It started raining around Atlanta, so Daddy let her get in the truck. JUST KIDDING! Yes, she is knitting. You should see the cute baby clothes she is working on right now.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Saturday was spent with Nancy, Carol, Debby and Melanie at the Nashville Flea Market. Wow! And let me say it one more time just for emphasis: WOW!
The Nashville Flea Market is huge. They meet once a month and use the State Fairgrounds. Nancy and Melanie have been before and said that they were using more of the buildings than they had seen in the past. I was so overwhelmed that I did not take any pictures of the flea market itself but the web site is here (and their pictures are probably better than mine). They had so much; the ubiquitous socks, the dollar store excess, the antiques, plants, Mennonite jams and jellies and pies, tools, furniture, kitchen paraphenalia, linens, books, CDs, DVDs, etc., etc., etc. They did not have any live animals for sale but again, WOW! We had a blast and enjoyed each other's company completely.

In other news, Mark has finished with the pressure washer and the house looks super. Hopefully I can get some "after" pictures to post here later this week when the sun comes out. He's also been busy with his garden (of course) and other home projects. He got out this afternoon and dug some wild pink roses out of a ditch and will get those planted this evening.

I took the Wee Care gowns with me to smock in the car on Saturday and finished them up. I'm close to done with the bonnet I have, so I'll get those pictures up later this week too. Let's see, other UFOs, I'm half-way through the calligraphy project, the photography stuff is almost finished and I'm almost ready for rugging. But Mark got some peaches at the outdoor market on Saturday and strawberries went on sale even more at WalMart today, so the projects will have to wait until jam gets finished this evening.

Pictures coming....

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Today is UFO day again. As soon as I finish vacuuming (shoot, I may just leave that until tomorrow!) I'm going to get cracking on a few UFOs that are cluttering up that un-named room. Smocking, designing the front garden area, calligraphy, rugging (not really a word, but something I need to do anyway...I'll share later) all need to get finished up. Yes, I'll try to remember to post pictures this time....oh yeah, some photography that needs to be taken care of too.

Late last night I remembered that I promised to get the recipe for homemade coffee creamer up. So here it is. If you are not making your own sweetened condensed milk you can skip the first part but I am a big believer in that recipe. When you go to the store to buy powdered milk and are trying to be careful of the grocery budget that initial cost can seem a bit much. It's worth it!

Put one cup of powdered milk in a small saucepan. Add 2/3 cups of water, stir and bring to a boil, stirring all the while. Remove from heat and add 3/4 to 1 cup of sugar (depending on how sweet you want the creamer; I prefer the 1 cup!). Add to this 3/4 cup of milk. Notice that you are not adding any butter to the sweetened condensed milk that you are making. I just don't find those beads of oil floating in my coffee to be very appetizing. Now add 2 Tablespoons of cocoa and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of mint extract to make Peppermint Patty flavor. Or you may add just cocoa (1 Tablespoon), 1 Tablespoon of vanilla, or any other flavoring you prefer. Another option I've heard is to crush up your favorite candy (malted milk balls, peppermints or even a Kit Kat bar) and adding that but I have never tried it. I am told that you might want to use a food processor for this and get it as powdery as you can before adding it.

Marvelous Mark will be back soon with a pressure washer, so I've got to go get some before pictures so you will be able to enjoy the big difference with me!

Enjoy your coffee!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A few quick thoughts....

We are home after a wonderful weekend of traveling and visiting with family and dear friends. We went to Sardinia, South Carolina by way of Augusta, Georgia. Dan piped Sunday morning and did a great job playing Abide With Me and Simple Gifts (WOW!) and then piped the congregation over to the Fellowship Hall/Office Building for the dedication of a new memorial window in their library.

After spending yesterday not doing much at all, today will be a busy day. I can't keep putting it off; I've GOT to mop the kitchen floor. Sigh. I do need to let you know that if you are making sweetened condensed milk for creamer it would probably be best to NOT put the butter in it! I'll refine and share the creamer recipe tomorrow.

Now here is the overdue memory verse.

Revelation 5:13 (NIV)
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing;
"To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honour and glory and power, for ever and ever!"

Did you know that there are very few places in the Bible that use an exclamation mark at the end of a sentence?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Please pray for Layla Grace. She is an 18 month old baby in Texas who was recently diagnosed with an aggressive stage IV inoperable neuroblastoma. Layla begins chemotherapy on Friday. Please pray for her physically as she undergoes this very strong treatment, for her parents as they minister to her through this and for her two big sisters. Her Mom has asked that we pray that the sisters stay healthy so that they can be around her when she is home over the next 15 weeks. Everyone who is asked to pray over this baby will be led to pray for something specific that other people might not think about. Pray as the Spirit leads you and rejoice that all these prayers will piece together to cover the needs of this family!
Sweetened Condensed Milk?

Long day, great Bible study, late night, long trip tomorrow. Soooo...quick post!
Today I ran out of coffee creamer. NOT GOOD! I am not a pleasant person without my coffee. It's almost as bad as running out of estrogen. But I didn't want to spend another $3 on coffee creamer. So I went on-line and Googled "liquid coffee creamer recipe". You would be amazed at how many sites there are with these recipes. Sadly, all the recipes are either the powdered stuff (I've made that before and was decidedly unimpressed with the results), or require sweetened condensed milk. I don't keep sweetened condensed milk on hand in my pantry. I do, however, keep powdered milk (with the price of milk these days I use the powdered stuff for cooking and the liquid stuff for drinking). Did you know you can make sweetened condensed milk out of powdered milk?! It's quick and easy and it tastes good. I do recommend that if you try this, you use a heavy pan to mix and boil it in. My little aluminum pan is just not quite heavy enough, especially since I have a gas stove now. Here's the recipe, courtesy of Carnation Instant Milk.

1 cup powdered milk
2/3 cup cool water
2/3 cup sugar (I said it was sweetened, remember?)
3 Tablespoons butter

Dissolve the powder in water in a 1 quart pan. Bring to a boil and stir til smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in sugar and butter. Allow to cool. Equals one 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk.

You can store it in a jar in the refrigerator but I usually just make it up when I need it and use it right away. By the way, if you are also out of half and half and/or heavy whipping cream, you can also make that by adding butter to a cup of milk (powdered or not). For half and half, add 1 1/2 Tablespoons of butter to 7/8 cup of milk. For heavy cream, add 1/3 cup of butter to 3/4 cup of milk. Amazing, isn't it?

I'll let you know how the home made coffee creamer turns out when we get back from our travels. In the meantime, have a great weekend and pray us on our trip.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Oh dear, Thrifty Mama just posted that Hancock's Fabrics will be having a HUGE pattern sale the rest of the month. I guess I just added some more projects to that project list!

Here is what I have been doing the past week.
Making Strawberry freezer jam

That's 20 pints plus one more in the refrigerator, thank you very much!

Organizing my kitchen a little better

"Helping" the Marvelous Mark clean out the gutters

And wash some more of the front porch (I wish you could see the door; it's amazing what Marvelous Mark can do with turpentine and elbow grease!)

Cheering on while you-know-who (initials MM) screens in the back deck (Yay, Marvelous!)

Going to tea at Miss Rosemarie's with my sister-in-law (it was chocolate soup week; an item NOT to be missed!)

And finally.....(drum roll and shrieks, please).....


I promise this is not a joke or a photo-shopped trick; this is the second one of these I have found in the new home. This one was in the laundry. YUCK!! My sister-in-law who lives here assures me that these are not the nasty, poisonous kind you would find in Arizona, but I would just as soon not have any kind of scorpion in my new house. My skin is crawling just looking at the picture and remembering. And the cats are much too lazy to do anything about them. Dumb cats.

This weekend we are going to be on the road. Sardinia Presbyterian Church in Sardinia, SC is having their homecoming and we are going home for it. Dan will be piping (the blowing kind, not the sewing kind) and Mark and I will be enjoying some great company and a wonderful dinner. I'll be sure to take my camera!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Oh dear, I've been out of the loop for a few days. Tomorrow (or even later tonight) I'll post some pictures of what all has been going on at the Akin home lately but for now I want to share a few thoughts.

Sometimes in our life, God shows us that even though we think we know what is going to happen to us next year, next month, next week, tomorrow, or even later today, we really don't. Sometimes when we think we have it all figured out how we are going to take care of ourselves, God reminds us that all our provision comes from HIM and HIM alone. Sometimes when we find ourselves in that place of being reminded, we want to think that coming out of that place depends on what we do or don't do to acquire God's blessing. It is easy to think to yourself, "If I just give more to the church, God will bless me". Or, "If I just witness to more people, God will bless me". Or some other "If I just....". On Sunday The Marvelous Mark and I visited another church close to home and I don't think we will be going back to that one. The sermon reinforced this mentality that our life and God's blessings are performance based. If we just do the little things that we ought to do, everything else will fall into place and we will acquire God's blessing. Because after all, if we are doing the right things, God is obligated to do for us what we want Him to do. The dangerous thing about this kind of thinking is that it makes us more important than God. Think about it; my actions, thoughts, words, whatever, are what force God to do what I want Him to do. The Marvelous Mark calls this the puppy-dog mentality. When you think about it this way, you realize how blasphemous this mentality is! It's as if you snap your fingers at God, whistle and call and He must obey our call. So we place ourselves in God's place and God in our place. Wow! It's scary to realize that, isn't it?
God is the author of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17). Gifts are not the same as wages, they are given with grace and with no expectation of any payment. The breath that I am breathing, the vision that my eyes have, the ability that my hands have to type this; these are all gifts that God has given me. He is in no way obligated to give me these things, they are free and a result of His grace and goodness. God has given me the gift of Life. His grace has taken all my ugly sin, placed it on His Son and then taken the righteousness of the Son and placed it on me. What else do I need? If I am given the path of suffering, like my sisters in China, in the Sudan, and in other parts of the world are given, I still have everything because I have the surety of eternal Life with Him. If He gives me riches beyond measure and perfect health, it is His grace but still the only thing that really matters is Him. If he takes away my health and I am forced to live under a bridge and forage for food in the dumpster, the only thing that really matters is Him.
And that is what I believe about that!!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Home Projects....

While a lot of home improvement projects that one finds in a new home are things that can be put off and done over a period of time, there are a LOT that must be done fairly immediately. That being said, I'll just add that a new home can make you real tired real fast! We are thoroughly enjoying our home and even enjoying the more mundane projects that must be done. It has been a busy week. In addition to the daily household chores, Mark and I had a blast the other afternoon with a hose, some pretty dirty gutters and a mildewy porch ceiling. I felt like I was 10 years old playing under the hose in the yard! It did make a huge difference in the ceiling, too. We have decided to hold off on the rest of the outside cleaning until we get a pressure washer, and even then we'll probably wait on half of the back until a certain bird's nest is no longer in use.
On Wednesday I managed to get about 8 loads of laundry done before the evening thunderstorms came through. While I was hanging out one of the last loads, I glanced down and found a lovely surprise.

A closer inspection revealed this:

I know he doesn't have the prettiest colors I've ever seen, but I still think he is pretty and I am always fascinated by the long front legs and antennae.

While I had the camera out, I went ahead and took this picture too. Mark does grow the best tomatoes in the world!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Sadly, I have no pictures of the Birmingham Flea Market. Sigh! I had a good time, after I found it (only I could get lost with such clear directions posted on the website). It was great to meet Rhoda, Sandi and Kathi and spend time with them looking at jewelry. There was a rather interesting Gentleman there who had some good finds. I liked his old metal yard furniture; talk about nostalgia! There were several vendors with antique linens, too, and it was fun puzzling out what I could do with them and how I could embroider them for gifts. There were the ubiquitous sock-vendors, and one man with boxes of Ovaltine, soap, soup and lotions for sale (what a curious mix). I did not buy anything this time, but I just might go back and snag some of those linens for a project.
It has been a rather busy week working around the house. Laundry, mildew on the porch, gutters that needed cleaning, floors; the list is endless if you let it be. Sometimes I have to remind myself that some things are urgent and other things can wait a year or two or ten! I'm whipped from the floors, but tomorrow I'll show you an unexpected blessing God sent me while I was doing laundry on Tuesday.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Sunday was a busier day than our family anticipated. We wound up inaugurating our safe room! Storms were headed our way and we were tuned in to the local weather. A little after three the call was made that there was a tornado in our area and we were urged to go to our safe place. We have a big basement with a little room just beside the stairs. That room is on the outside side of the basement rather than the underground side, but the storm gurus all say to use a small enclosed area rather than a large open area (even if it is underground). So we loaded up the cats, the weather radio, and some juice (in case I had an insulin reaction), made sure we were in jeans and had shoes and socks on and headed downstairs. It didn't seem like it was going to be one of those scary EF-5 storms, but we figured it was a good practice run for the new house. Turns out that there was an EF-1 tornado that touched down 4 miles away from us. Fortunately there was a ridge between it and us and it was not a real bad one. No one was killed, no one was injured, so that was a relief. Mark and I drove out today and saw where it had touched down. We were impressed because as many trees as had come down everyone had gotten the trees off the roads and houses and already had them cut into logs by noon today. We did figure out a few things to do differently next time. Like have the safe room swept and clean (I don't know if those jeans will ever come clean again), put the cats in a cat carrier before we take them down (I know, I know; we are some of those pet-people), and have some juice boxes stashed there (juice boxes are a gift to diabetics; just the right size and easy to handle when your hands are shaky). So all we have to do next time is stuff the cats in the carrier, grab the radio, and dash down the stairs. I'm thankful that Mark got me a weather radio that has not only the NOAA weather stations but also has regular radio so we can listen to the local reports. AND it has a battery AND a crank-charge. What more could a girl want?! So we have a plan, our house is intact, and tomorrow it is supposed to be clear so I can hang my laundry out. What a relief!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

With all that has been going on in the new house this week I have not updated the memory verse. So let me correct that now. If you are familiar with Handel's Messiah, this is another one that you will be singing instead of saying. This is a song that all the angels sing as they surround the throne of God and the people of God.

Revelation 5:12
In a loud voice they sang:
"Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!"

Have a wonderful weekend. I'm off to the Birmingham Flea Market to meet up with Rhoda and some of the other Birmingham bloggers. Pictures Monday!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Wow. I finished that UFO already. Wow! I'm not thrilled with the way the piping looks; I'm definitely better at smocking than the construction of the smocked piece into something else. But I'm pleased that I finished it. Normally I would take apart what I was not pleased with and fix it, but the material that was used for this does not lend itself to that. Plus, it is just a pincushion.
Here are the construction pictures. When Nancy gets back from spending time with her girls and helping them with some projects I think I'm going to need piping lessons (sewing, not Scottish!)

Now since the party is going on for two more weeks, I think I'll work on another UFO. This one will take a little more coming!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Seen any UFO's lately? Right now I'm looking at more than an Alabama woman who moved out of the trailer park has any reason to admit to! No flashing lights, weird noises, hovering or probes, just plain ol' ordinary humiliating UFOs. Also known as UnFinished Objects. Sigh. Melissa at the Inspired Room is hostessing a blogger/Mr. Linky party to challenge bloggers to get those projects finished. Sadly, I have more than one UFO and must choose which one to get through. Maybe the party will help me get it done before the two-week period so that I can get an extra one or two completed as well.

Back in January I attended a smocking workshop with Judith Adams from Australia. She taught us how to do vertical smocking and we made a lovely piece to be turned into a pincushion. I have finished the smocking and was quite proud of myself for getting that done.

Then I realized I had to turn a piece of smocked fabric into a pincushion. Gulp! I was so intimidated by the thought of the construction that I stuck the pretty piece into my work bag and took out something else to do. So my work is to get this made into a pincushion. I have no excuses; we are moved and the essential boxes are unpacked. My sewing machine is back from the repair man and in great shape. My iron and ironing board are just waiting on me. So today I will see just how much I can get done.

Off to work!
This is a story for my friends Moses, Makenna, Noah, Tori, Rosie, Charis, Nicholas, Cameron, Jack, Nikki, Numero Uno, and the others whose Moms let them pop in and visit Auntie 'Ginia every so often.

Mr. Mark and I bought a house last week.
The new house has a deck in the back that is very nice to sit on.

Because the deck is on the back of the house, it is pretty high up in the air.

We also have two cats; Baby Boo, who is not quite as bold as she thinks she is,

And Duncan whose temper rarely matches her sweet appearance.

Mr. Mark worked on the back deck over the weekend and put some screen up to keep the bugs out. This meant that the cats could go out on the deck with us and enjoy the fresh air.

There is one spot on the deck that Baby Boo found quite interesting.

She was so interested in it that she would spend almost all her time crouched down beside that little opening trying to look through it. Sometimes she would even lick the deck near the opening! Crazy Cat! Sometimes when it was time to go back in the house she would not come and would have to be chased back in the house or even picked up and carried. I wondered if there might be a lizard under there.

Boo and Duncan do like lizards and I couldn't imagine what else might be making Boo quite so excited.

Yesterday morning I finally got down on the floor of the porch and tried to peek through the opening. I squinted and scrunched and tried to peek this way and that.

Finally I thought maybe I saw something funny, but it was really hard to see it through the itty-bitty slit in the floor. So I went for a walk around the house to see what I could find.

I walked around the side by the Christmas trees

and past the propane tank

Then I looked up under the deck and found a big surprise!

It was .....

A Mama and Daddy robin who built a nest right up under the porch! I'm sure that soon there will be some babies in the nest. That means that until the babies hatch and grow up and fly away...

I'm going to have a pretty sad Baby Boo!