Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Our Christmas::December 30

For Christmas, our entire family was here throughout the day.

This year Bill, Josh, Hayley and Mercedes (Miah and Teryn were at their dad's for Christmas Eve), Karen, Grover, Ben and Aiden, Amber, Jared and Ruth, Emily and her boyfriend Richy, along with Matt, Michael, Steve and I celebrated Christmas Eve together.

All of the kids and grandkids slept over, and Bill went back to his apartment after the Bible readings and carol singing and poem telling. The plan was to pick him up on Christmas morning, but it snowed on Christmas Eve, so he decided to stay put until the plows cleared the road.

Bright and early Christmas morning, the kids sleeping in Jared & Ruth's trailer were called in, the kids and grandkids sleeping upstairs were woken up, and all of us saw what Santa had brought for us and we opened the presents:

At 9 o'clock, Steve picked up Bill and brought him back, and it was round 2 of presents :)

Then, slowly everyone left: Karen and Grover going to work; Richy and Emily went to celebrate Christmas with Richy's family; Jared and Ruth went to work; Hayley, Josh, and Mercedes went to pick up Miah and Teryn and celebrate with Hayley's mom and siblings, and Matt went along too. That left Bill, Steve, Amber, Michael and me at home to nap and cook and clean and play for a few hours by ourselves.

After dinner, Bill went home, and everyone but Emily and Richy trickled back to the house to play games and eat pie and have round 3 of presents with Miah and Teryn :)

Such a busy, messy, loud, wonderful Christmas it was ♥

I hope that you and yours had a wonderful Christmas too!

♥ Melody

Monday, December 22, 2014

"The Blessing"::December 22

I saw this on a blog that I read, loved it, and wanted to share it :)

♥ Melody

Monday, December 15, 2014

Josh and Hayley::The Reception on 12/13/14::Dec 15

Josh and Hayley::The Wedding on 12/13/14::Dec 15

Getting ready:

The guests start arriving:

It's time!

The cute ring bearers:
The other cute ring bearer is with his Pops. / The flower girl gets stage fright - her grandmas try to reassure her:

Signing the Marriage License

This picture struck my funny bone. It seems to sum up all of the nervous feelings we all experience as we get married (she doesn't remember why she was looking at the ceiling, and I didn't mean to capture it, but it sure was a fortuitous accident on both of our parts :) )

Monday, December 8, 2014

Grandma D's Mincemeat Pie Recipe::December 8th

My cousin Patty posted this on facebook b/c other cousins were remembering my Grandma D's homemade mincemeat pies. I don't think I've ever tasted mincemeat, but I thought I'd store the recipe here so that I don't lose it :)
I think this is it:

4 # venison elk or beef
2 1/2 cups suet finely chopped or grated
7 1/2 cups chopped tart apples
3 cups of meat broth that meat was cooked in
5 cups sugar
3 cups apple cider
1 C. Molasses
1/2 C. Cider vinegar
3 C. Raisins
2 T. Ground cinnamon
1 T. ground cloves
2 T. ground allspice
2 T. ground nutmeg
Juice of 2 oranges
Juice of 2 lemons
1 C. Brandy
Trim and discard fat from meat
Place meat in large heavy pan and cover with water; simmer until meat is tender. Remove from heat and refrigerate meat in cooking liquid overnight.
Remove from fridge and take meat out of liquid. Remove all fat from top of
liquid; discard fat and reserve the remaining liquid. Chop boneless meat into small cubes.
In large pot combone meat , suet and all ingredients except brandy. Simmer gently for about about 2 hours or until desired consistency. Add brandy and mix together. (I doubt if mom or grandma added the brandy because kids ate it).
Its best to let mincemeat stand at least a couple weeks before using. Store in fridge. Freeze in airtight containers for long time storage. (Grandma and mom canned theirs)
Will keep looking in case there is another version of this.
♥ Melody

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Chili:: December 6

4 cups dried beans
3 TBS beef bullion
2 TBS oil

Preparing and cooking the dried beans:

4 cups dried beans, cleaned (rocks and debris removed) and rinsed.

Put in a big pot or pressure cooker. Bring to a boil, take off heat, and let sit for at least 2 hours, more is preferable.
Drain and rinse beans, and rinse out the pot/pressure cooker.
Put the beans back in the pot/pressure cooker - add 8 tsp of beef bullion and 2 TBS of oil.
Using a pressure cooker:
Fill a pressure cooker with water to the line. Put on the lid and rocker. Bring to a boil on high, and when the it starts rocking, turn the heat down to med high and let rock for 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let it release from pressure on its own.

If using a large pot:
Cover the beans with water and add water about 2 inches below the top of the pot. Bring to a boil and let gently boil for about 45 minutes or until the beans are tender.

Meat mixture:

In a skillet brown:
1 lb hamburger
1 med. onion if desired

Drain grease and add:
2 can diced tomatoes (in juices) (or 1 can diced tomatoes + 1 oz can tomato sauce)
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano leaves
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp cocoa
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 1/2 tsp chili powder

In the big pot:
Pour off liquid from beans to make liquid level with the cooked beans. Add meat mixture & stir together. Cook over low heat for about 20 minutes.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Wacky Cake & buttercream frosting Recipe::November 24

Preheat oven to 350*

Sift together:
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3 TBS cocoa
2 tsp soda
1 tsp salt

10 TBS cooking oil (1/2 cup + 2 TBS)
2 TBS vinegar
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups cold water

Mix well. Bake in a 9" x 13" cake pan for 35 minutes.

This is one of my favorite cakes! I usually frost it with homemade buttercream frosting:

3 cups powdered sugar
2 or 3 TBS butter or margarine (your preference)
(2 TBS cocoa powder if chocolate is desired)
1 tsp vanilla
add milk to desired consistency (add 1 TBS at a time & check consistency - if it gets too thin, add a little more powdered sugar)

Mix together until thoroughly creamed. Add milk 1 TBS at a time and blend in between until you get desired consistency (about the consistency of toothpaste)

♥ Melody

Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.::November 24

Over the weekend, I pondered on the words that Severus Snape said to Harry Potter as he was dying. "Look...at...me..." Harry caught up the silver strands of memories dripping from Snape, stored it, and later looked at in it Dumbledore's pensieve. Before that moment, no one had ever truly seen Snape - his childhood, his young adult life, and later his adult life as a double agent. He was a misunderstood soul right up to the end. "Look...at...me" The real me, the me I was when no one else was around.

In _Speaker of the Dead_, Ender learns all of the dead person's life, the good, the bad, the ugly, and then tells it as it is, without apology or embarrassment.

There is something so profound about the simple thought to, "Look at me." To see the great whole.

I have been interested in such things since I was at least 11. I remember asking my mother to come outside and talk to me. As she gathered up her cigarettes, lighter and her glass of water, I ran outside and got 2 camping chairs and set them up. When she came outside, I asked her to sit down (very proper, I was) and then proceeded to ask her to tell me about herself. (What child does that?!) But it was important to me. It still is. I love to discover things about people that explains why they believe the way they do and do what they do. People are complex, and an event that happened 30 years before could be haunting or inspiring them still.

Yesterday in church, one of my growing up moments flashed back to me. When I heard the words “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him," I lit up. This was one of the first places that I discovered God; one of the first time that I ever read scripture on my own. It took me back to the summer of 1985, back to the very beginning of my spiritual awakening. Up to that point: I prayed. Sometimes. I had faith in God. When my mom reminded me.

That summer when we were at family reunion, I found my dad's Bible in the camping trailer and I took it outside, sat down on a camping chair, and opened the Bible to Matthew 25 purely by chance. My dad happened to walk by (I think he'd been fishing, but I'm not positive) and asked what I was reading. "The Bible," I answered. "Why? Are you that damn bored?" was his response. LOL :) My dad wasn't much of a religious man until later on - about '99 is what I'm remembering. We all have our own spiritual awakenings happen exactly when we're ready for them.

My dad didn't hang around, but came and left fairly quickly and I got back to reading.

34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

That passage hit me so hard! It resonated with me on a level that I didn't yet understand. I was so excited that I shared it with my step-sister Jalene; it didn't resonate with her like it did me. I had found a treasure.

That passage sums up how I feel about religion more than any other. Heck, it sums up life more than any other!

A stranger. A prisoner. Naked. Sound like someone that we want to walk right up to and take care of? No, that's why so many don't. Me included, many times. It is uncomfortable. It is scary. It isn't what is done. But it is what is asked.

Over the weekend I've thought of my vows for eternity. It feels like a secure place to be, after you are part of a ceremony that ties up your eternity with pretty bows and ribbons. But into my mind comes the other thoughts. The ones where LGBTQ are tolerated, and even loved and accepted as long as they don't act on their gayness. Where women can be separate but equal; if they are loud about wanting to just be "equal", they will be "counseled with love" and if they don't back down, they will be stripped of their eternal salvation - their family ties broken, their covenants as though they never existed...

In church on Sunday, a couple sat in front of me. Two men. I always see them together at church. Are they just friends? During the offering of the Peace, they hugged. Hugging is typically what husbands and wives do during this part of the service (though I'm sure some people are huggers with others). Huh. Cool. People saw them hug. I'm sure the priest has seen them hug before. I assume that they are together. I assume that others assume the same thing. And the people came and shook their hands and smiled at them anyway. That isn't part of what the Master hung salvation on in that passage: smiling and shaking hands with two gay men, but in my head it applies.

After a week of thoughtfulness, melancholy, anger, frustration, I was at the pinnacle of my own belief system: God insists that we love each other as ourselves. He insists that we show kindness and mercy. He insists that it is important, even if it is uncomfortable, scary, or against societal norms. When asked what the great commandment was, Jesus answered,
(Matthew 22)

37 ...Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38 This is the first and great commandment.

39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Although it is simple, it is not easy.

In church yesterday, I saw this happen. I witnessed it with my own eyes. It made my heart full.
♥ Melody

P.S.(And I sat in front of the stained glass window again. My day is made so much "gladder" when my program, Book of Common Prayer, and Hymn book reflects the colors of those windows :) )

P.S.S. As I read this over again, I realize that the first part about Snape, about Ender, and about my mom seem a mash up, but really, this new awakening I'm having, this metamorphic journey that I'm on, is a part of me that feels very vulnerable. It feels like the dream where I show up to school in my pajamas. Because there are many who will be saddened or upset that I'm looking at things in new ways that don't go along with the old, I feel like I should hide and keep quiet. But there is a part of me that wants you to "Look at me" long before I'm gone, unlike Snape.

I've heard that the only way to live wholeheartedly is to be vulnerable. To live as honest and open a life as you can. I agree. To live in fear of how others will view you, to keep those things hidden away attracts the things that live in the dark: fear, guilt, and shame. I have no desire to live that way. Also, for the most part, I really love the journey I'm on. It is hard and uncomfortable sometimes, but I wouldn't trade it. And I'm so thankful to the Lord for shining light on my pathway as I walk along.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Catching up a bit::November 17

This autumn has been a whirlwind of photoshoots. It is great for the money and for reuniting with friends for an hour or two as I photograph them and/or their family members.

It is also good for honing photoshop editing skills and learning to see subtle color differences.

I have one more shoot for my friend's preschool/daycare to do before Christmas and then one pending sometime that a neighborhood senior is ready to do her winter shoot - she is breaking the long session in half and did part in the fall and will do part mid-winter b/c she loves the show. :)

I just did a session for a guy I used to babysit as an older child. It was amazing to see that he's all grown up with a wife and children of his own :)

* * * * * * *

This season has also been one of spiritual rediscovery. I am looking at myself and God a bit differently than I have in the past. The biggest difference, I'd say, is that I'm learning to trust in His constant care, trusting Him to catch me when I fall, trusting Him to take the things I have no control over (but He does), trusting Him to light my way.

I have seen the truth in the scripture in Proverbs 22:6 that says, "Train up a child in the way he/she should go, and when he/she is old, he/she will not depart from it." I am indeed going back to what I know from my youth: That God loves me, that He will take care of me, and that I am safe in His care. That is a good place to go back to - everything else is gravy.

In the past few months, I have sifted through all of my beliefs and turned them over and over, looking at all sides. It has been an interesting place to be. At first it was painful, but now it has turned into a peace.

* * * * * * *

On Saturday, the day of a photoshoot, the thought of a walking foot attachment for my sewing machine kept filling a place in my thoughts without ever going away or being subdued. I decided that after the shoot, I'd go to the Bernina store and buy one. I was not expecting how expensive they were! I thought it would be about $90 - I was not expecting the cost of $119.99 on a 25% off sale! Whew! But the cashier told me that this was the lowest price they would ever be and that I was lucky I'd come in that day, because that is when they'd received their shipment - many people were waiting for that shipment b/c they had been out for a lot of the week. The sun, moon, and stars seemed to align for me and I almost walked away from it - almost. But I thought of how the thought of it had preyed on my mind all morning. I thought of all of the things that had worked in my favor: the sale, the shipment... I took it as a message/gift from God, and I bought the walking foot.

Now I can finish up the quilting projects I haven't been able to in the past b/c of the lack of that accessory. I can make the potholders that I've longed to make for years, and actually tried a few years ago, only to see the potholder pucker and twist. I have a lot of work to do and lost time to make up for! :)

* * * * * * *

I have another project that needs to be done ASAP also: sanding and refinishing my wood floors. They have intimidated me since we moved in 11 years ago, and they are in desperate need of care! At this point, I figure that I can't make them look any worse than they already do! ;) I paid Matt to move the bookshelves out of the dining room for me. I asked Steve and Josh to move the buffet out. And on Sunday, I roped Steve into helping me move the computer table out also. So I have no more excuses, except that I need a huge sheet of plastic and some tape to section off the dining room from the living room to protect the furniture from sawdust when I sand the floors. Where is my Daniel-san, like Mr. Miyagi had for his deck, when I need him?! ;)

* * * * * * *

Anyway, so hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to work I go. Perhaps if I find the fun in the work the job will be a game? Too bad the woodland creatures can help me...

Okay, okay enough with the fairy tale references; I'll go get to work now! Make it a wonderful day!
♥ Melody

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The 10 Virgins::A different take::November 9

Today in church, Deacon Craig gave a sermon on the 10 Virgins. He called them "Bridesmaids" instead of virgins, and the message was different than I'd ever heard before, and I loved it.

He told the story and then gave his opinion on what went wrong. He said that he felt it didn't have to do with being underprepared with oil, but with them not believing and trusting God. After all, Jesus was a God of miracles. Hadn't he turned water to wine? Fed over 5 thousand with just 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish? So when the virgins/bridesmaids worried that their oil wasn't sufficient, they went looking to buy more/provide their own oil.

Deacon Craig reminded us that their lamps' wicks were already trimmed and lit, they were just worried that what they had wouldn't be enough - they wouldn't be enough - so tried (on their own) to get more oil. We know what happened: they were late and the Master did not open the door to let them in - he said that he didn't know them. Who knows? Perhaps the lighting would have been so bright inside the banquet hall that they wouldn't have needed their lamps at all?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Hot Chocolate Mix::November 2

Hot Chocolate Mix (from HM)
Makes about 17 cups of mix

10 2/3 cups instant nonfat dry milk
1 (6 oz) jar powdered non-dairy creamer *
2 cups powdered sugar
1 (16 oz) can instant chocolate drink mix

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well. Put in a large airtight container. Store in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months.
*Option - try different flavors of creamer

Add 3 TBS Hot Chocolate mix to 1 cup hot water. Stir to dissolve.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

_On Writing_ - Relevant thoughts for NaNoWriMo::October 26

Exactly what I've been pondering on these last eve's before NaNoWriMo ~
Excerpt from On Writing by Stephen King:

"So okay - there you are in your room with the shade down and the door shut and the plug pulled out of the base of the telephone. You've blown up your TV and committed yourself to a thousand words a day, come hell or high water. Now comes the big question: What are you going to write about? And the equally big answer: Anything you damn well want. Anything at all...as long as you tell the truth.

The dictum in writing classes used to be 'write what you know.' Which sounds good, but what if you want to write about starships exploring other planets or a man who murders his wife and then tries to dispose of her body with a wood-chipper? How does the writer square either of these, or a thousand other fanciful ideas, with the 'write-what-you-know' directive?

I think you begin by interpreting 'write what you know' as broadly and inclusively as possible. If you're a plumber, you know plumbing, but that is far from the extent of your knowledge; the heart also knows things, and so does the imagination. Thank God. If not for heart and imagination, the world of fiction would be a pretty seedy place. It might not even exist at all.

In terms of genre, it's probably fair to assume that you will begin by writing what you love to read - certainly I have recounted my early love affair with the EC horror comics until the tale has gone stale. But I did love them, ditto horror movies like I married a Monster from Outer Space, and the result was stories like 'I was a Teenage Graverobber'. Even today I'm not above writing slightly more sophisticated versions of that tale; I was built with a love of the night and the unquiet coffin that's all. If you disapprove, I can only shrug my shoulders. It's what I have.

If you happen to be a science fiction fan, it's natural that you should want to write science fiction (and the more sf you've read, the less likely it is that you'll simply revisit the field's well-mined conventions, such as space opera and dystopian satire). If you're a mystery fan, you'll want to write mysteries, and if you enjoy romances, it's natural for you to want to write romances of your own. There's nothing wrong with writing any of these things. What would be very wrong, I think, is to turn away from what you know and like (or love, the way I loved those old ECs and black-and-white horror flicks) in favor of things you believe will impress your friends, relatives, and writing-circle colleagues. What's equally wrong is the deliberate turning toward some genre or type of fiction in order to make money. It's morally wonky, for one thing - the job of fiction is to find the truth inside the story's web of lies, not to commit intellectual dishonesty int he hunt for a buck. Also, brothers and sisters, it doesn't work.

When I'm asked why I decided to write the sort of thing I do write, I always think the question is more revealing than any answer I could possibly give. Wrapped within it, like the chewy stuff in the center of a Tootsie Pop, is the assumption that the writer controls the material instead of the other way around. The writer who is serious and committed is incapable of sizing up story material the way an investor might size up various stock offerings, picking out the ones which seem likely to provide a good return. If it could indeed be done that way, every novel published would be a best-seller and the huge advances paid to a dozen or so 'big-name writers' would not exist (publishers would like that)."

Friday, October 3, 2014

Happy Birthday to Emily and Hayley! :: October 3

On Sunday, we celebrated Hayley's 24th and Emily's 18th birthdays.

Bill came by for a few minutes, but he wasn't feeling well, so we sang Happy Birthday and had them blow out their candles before we ate dinner, then Bill went home. He is feeling better now though. Jared and Ruth came over and stayed and ate dinner, hung out, and had cake.

The beautiful birthday girls

Steve lighting the candles

I cheat - I had 1 candle in the ten's place and 8 candles in the one's place for Emily, and 2 candles in the ten's place and 4 candles in the one's place for Hayley

Make a wish!!

I love these girls! I teased them and said that they were twins. Just born a couple of days apart. And a few years apart. By different mothers. :) It is fun that their birthdays are only 3 days apart, though! (except that they might get sick of sharing a cake one of these years!)

Dear Emily,
Happy Birthday!! I can't believe that you are 18!! It was just yesterday that I remember you wearing your favorite yellow dress with your parasol and the puppies yanking on the back of it as you ran down the sidewalk. You were such an adorable little girl then, and you are a beautiful young woman now. I look forward to watching you grow just as much now as when you were little. I am excited to see where life takes you, and I hope that you have all the happiness in the world! I love you very much! <3 p="">

Dear Hayley,
You are so dear in our lives! You are so sweet and thoughtful You are such a good mommy to my grandbabies and such a good partner for Josh. Thank you for being you!! I hope that this year will bring you all of the joy and happiness that it can hold! I love you very much! <3 blockquote="">

Happy, Happy Birthday girls! Thanks for being such an important part of our family!

♥ Melody