Monday, August 29, 2011

A day in the life...

This is what I feel like doing today.

But.. instead I will be...

grocery shopping
doing laundry
finishing a creative writing paper
figuring out how to work my online class (pray for me?)
updating my resume

* * * * *

It's Monday...and the weekend was good. Slow...productive...good.'s time to get down to business. Time's a wastin'!!

What are you doing today?

Friday, August 26, 2011

focusing on the good..

I'm feeling slightly overwhelmed's been a BUSY week. The kids went back to school...and so did I! Somehow, without trying or doing it on purpose, I managed to take a year off from school. And, um, at my age, I don't have a year to spare. But...regardless of my age or time or whatever...I have not worked toward my degree for a whole year. *cricket cricket*

I know. To say that I am frustrated and disappointed in myself is an understatement. I am. Very. is what is...the time is gone...and so now I have no choice but to pull my head out (yes, I said that) and GET TO WORK.

On that note...I will tell you that I signed up for two classes this semester (three would have been ideal, but it wasn't in the cards this semester) and I am officially back on track. I am also more motivated than ever...and actually very excited and very hopeful. And while taking a "break" was not a good decision, it is now giving me the push I needed to buckle down and finish school.

Sooooo...because I'm feeling  disappointed but trying to think positive instead, I'm pretty sure this is a perfect time for focusing on the good:
  • Harvesting 7 lbs. of tomatoes from my garden this morning. I love it!
  • Going to a San Francisco Giants game at AT&T Park, on a school night, with my whole, dad, brother and his family, and all of us. Super fun...even though they lost. (Thanks mom and dad!)
  • Having a goal and working toward it.
  • Sitting under the ceiling fan.
  • BLT's with fresh mm mmmm.
  • Information (and friends!) at my finger tips.
  • Sun tea...every time.
  • The neighbor trimming his trees and inadvertently providing more sunshine for our grass in the backyard.
  • Washing dishes by hand. (Dishwasher pooped out.) Weird. I know. But I'm really enjoying it.
  • Realizing that I am closer to my degree than I thought.
  • Also realizing that I can take half of the classes I need for my Bachelor's Degree at the local community college hence saving us LOTS of money.
  • Busy, active, involved kids. Not too busy...but busy doing things they choose and enjoy and are good at.
  • Finding a new church...I think.
  • Applying for a few jobs at the school district and feeling hopeful that one of them will be just for me.
  • Finished projects...thank you honey!
  • Loads of blooms on the Meyer lemon tree. (thanks for the tip mom!)
  • A stack of library books.
  • Pablo sleeping above my pillow and resting his paw on my head.
  • NOT being the oldest person in my Creative Writing class at the junior college. *wink*
I don't know about you...but I'm feeling much better. Nothing like counting your blessings to make you realize what's really important in life.

The only real mistake is the one
from which we learn nothing. 
~John Powell

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wednesday in the Word.

Isaiah 61:10-11

10 I delight greatly in the LORD;
   my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
   and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
   and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up
   and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness
   and praise spring up before all nations.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Happiness is...

Happiness is...harvesting 5 lbs. of organic tomatoes from my own backyard. Aren't they beautiful? I have decided I love growing tomatoes. I love growing other vegetables, too. But for some reason, tomatoes are turning out to be my favorite. I think it's because they give me such an ego boost...plant them in decent soil, water regularly, and you've got a success on your hands. It's just that simple. What's not to love?

The tomato plants are wild and unruly. (Maybe another reason I love them?) They are loaded with tomatoes of all sizes and at all stages of ripeness. I see spots of red and orange throughout the tomato patch and it makes me happy...I pluck each ripe beauty and set it in the basket.

I see little green tomatoes all over the place...and I have hope for the future. It means more salsa in my means an opportunity to teach myself how to preserve some tomato means I've made it one step closer to learning how to provide food for our family.

I harvested this basket full yesterday afternoon. I went out to the garden to check on something else and realized there were tons of tomatoes "ripe for the pickin'". By the time I was done and covered in dirt and leaves and smelling like a giant tomato plant, I realized the basket felt quite heavy. Maybe not heavy as much as it felt substantial.

I couldn't resist the temptation to actually weigh it: 5 lbs. I had to tally it up in my head if I were to buy these tomatoes at the store. Not bad...

I am loving growing tomatoes...yes I am. And the more I harvest...the more salsa Chris makes...the more I'm able to eat cherry tomatoes straight off the vine and still warm from the sun, the more I want to grow more and more tomatoes. I want to grow green tomatoes and orange tomatoes and purple tomatoes...oh, and white tomatoes! I can hardly wait for next summer!

Wait a minute...did I just say that? Me? Hardly able to wait for summer? Somebody check my temperature.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Not bad for a Monday..

I made pickles on Monday.

 And strawberry jam.

Chris and I had gone to the local fruit stand on Friday and purchased some pickling cucumbers, fresh dill, local garlic and a few other goodies. I had plans to make pickles Saturday morning.

Well, I don't know about you...but it takes me some "gearing up" to bust out that canning pot. Not to mention getting all the jars out...and washing them real good...making sure I've got lids and rings...and on and on and on. true Michelle form...I procrastinated. And the cucumbers and dill sat in wait in the fridge all weekend.

I woke up on Monday morning and I knew I had to either make pickles...or feed the cucumbers to the chickens. I decided to go for it and make the dang pickles.

Now, keep in mind, I don't have a great track record with pickle making. I've made them twice...and both times I thought they were gross. And those who tasted them agreed. :( They were too this or too that...not enough this or not enough that. This last time (last summer) I made the HUGE mistake of using pre-mixed pickling spice...YUCK. The pre-mixed pickling spice contains Allspice which is just too sweet. (At least I think that's the culprit.) I like a good puckery dill pickle. OR a nice, sweet bread and butter pickle. But I do NOT like a sweet-ish dill pickle. Blech.

(Picky much?)

Anyway...I was inspired recently to take one last stab at making homemade pickles. I was going through old recipes with my mom and we came across one that my great-grandmother used. It was so simple and straight-forward: cucumbers, vinegar, water, salt, fresh dill, garlic cloves, grape leaves. (I bought everything but the grape leaves...we had our own in the backyard thanks to our spring planting of grape vines!)

Simple enough, right? I went for it. I canned 5 jars and left one in the fridge for taste-testing the next day. And...I'm happy to far they're a hit! They're very puckery...very salty...very pickly. So far we've only tasted the jar that did not get a hot water they're quite crunchy. I wasn't going to process them as I wanted them to remain crunchy. But I got nervous about long-term storage and decided at the last minute to give them a quick process (about 5 minutes) just to make sure. And from what I understand, the grape leaves (which contain alum) are added to keep the cucumbers a bit more crisp. So we shall see...I'll let you know when we open a jar...soon!

In the middle of my pickle-making frenzy Chris came home for lunch. He was having a hankering for a pb&j. Unfortunately, we've been out of "j" for quite some time. I kept saying I was going to make homemade strawberry jam...and since I was going to make it, I was refusing to buy it.

(Yes...picky and stubborn. What can I say?)

Seeing how upset he was about not having any jam in the house I decided then and there to whip up a batch. I mean, why not? I've got the canner out and full of hot water...I've got jars and lids at the kitchen is already a disaster. Not to mention the strawberry patch is a quick 1-minute drive away. Yeah...why not?!

About an hour later we had 5 pints of strawberry jam cooling on the counter along with the 5 quarts of pickles I'd made earlier.

Not bad for a Monday, eh?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wednesday in the Word.

Chinese baby hat in a shop in Sonoma.

Psalm 139:13-16

13 For you created my inmost being;
   you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
   your works are wonderful,
   I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
   when I was made in the secret place,
   when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
   all the days ordained for me were written in your book
   before one of them came to be.

* * * * * * * * *

I did a bible study by Beth Moore back in 2007 titled Believing God. There was one statement she made (among many others, of course, but this one was important enough to me that I took the time to write it in the margin of my bible.) Basically she paraphrased verse 15...and I thought it was beautiful...

God hid you in a blanket of soft tissue and bid your heart to beat. For many
days He alone knew you existed. You were His secret. ~ Beth Moore

To know that God alone knew about me weeks before my mother did is mind boggling. To think that it was because of Him that my heart began to beat. To think that it was just me and know that He was caring for me, forming me, planning me, making a place for me in this world....this great big world...

We were not a surprise to God.
He planned me and He planned YOU.
He created us for a reason and a purpose.

We are fearfully and wonderfully made.
God doesn't make mistakes.

Monday, August 15, 2011


April 1993 - August 2011
Last Monday I had to say good bye to my sweet girl, Rosie. Rosebud....Rose Mose...Miss Rose...

I got Rosie when she was about 7 weeks old...she was so stinkin' cute. I had moved out into a one-bedroom apartment by myself...a little apartment out in the country. It was a mess. I remember taking my mom out to see it and she immediately said, "You are NOT living out here."

Well...I had already made up my mind. I was going to live there. So in true mom and dad spirit...they helped me fix it all up. We painted and cleaned and cleaned and cleaned...and cleaned. It was pretty bad...but we had a vision. My dad installed a new shower surround...I had carpet and linoleum installed...and before we knew it, it was a cute little apartment.

I moved in...and a week or so later along came Rosie girl. That was 18 years ago...

Rosie has been with me through 4 moves...she was there when I met Chris...and when the boys were born. She's been with me longer than any of them have...Rosie had seniority. (I kid...pretty much.)

In the last few years Rosie's health began to deteriorate. And I knew that the time was coming...I knew I'd have to make a really hard decision at some point. She had health issues...but they didn't seem to stop her. She ate and drank and kept herself spotless clean. But in the last few weeks she was starting to move a little walk gingerly...and she ate less and less.

I was time.

So...I did the right thing.

Her little indentation is still on the back of the sofa pillow...her favorite place to lay next to the front window. I don't have the heart to fluff it up...

I miss her like crazy.

Monday, August 8, 2011

What are you doing? {aka: the post in which I get a bit preachy.}

The other day I was putting in (yet another) load of laundry. Laundry is that chore that just never goes away, right? Laundry is endless. Never done. Always multiplying.

So...I'm adding a load of clothes to my new washer (that isn't working very well, by the way...but I'm trying to focus on the least I'm not using a washboard or a rock.) and I find myself grumbling. I find myself being bored...and feeling like life is just so mundane...and wondering, "Seriously? Is this all there is to it?" ("It" being life...)...and suddenly being reminded of something I read in a book years ago.

Essentially it said this, "Whatever you are it unto the Lord."

Washing yet another load of laundry? Do it unto the Lord. And...while you're at it...thank the Lord for the family He's blessed you with that dirties up all that laundry.

Picking up your sons' stinky socks...for the hundredth time? Do it unto the Lord. And...while you're at it...thank the Lord for those sons, that they are in your life and that they are healthy and active enough to dirty up those socks.

Rinsing off a plate that someone left in the sink for you to take care of...even though you've asked them to load their own plates into the dishwasher? Do it unto the Lord. And...while you're at it, thank the Lord for that loved one that dirtied the plate. And...while you're at it...thank the Lord for the food that dirtied it up.

Vacuuming...again....for the 3rd time this week? Do it unto the Lord. And...while you're at it...thank the Lord that you have a home that has carpet and not a dirt floor...and that you are physically able to push a vacuum that has plenty of electrical power to make it work.

And the list goes on and on...

The bottom line is..."Stop complaining." I am reminded, yet again, of this. I am reminded to stop complaining and to be thankful. I grumble too much...and God is calling me on it. Every time. And I am being reminded that whatever I do...I need to do it for Him. To bless glorify Him...and to be all things.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

the garden: a learning process {otherwise known as me thinking out loud}

Check it out on Flickr to see what's what.
The garden is doing pretty good. Not too many disease far much of it is quite lush.

The tomatoes are doing great. They are taller than me, and about as wide. We definitely planted enough of them...we've got bite-size tomatoes galore. They are wonderful right off the vine (definitely something to be said for organic gardening)...and they are fantastic in Chris' homemade salsa. Poor guy makes a big batch and we descend on it like's gone before he knows it! The bigger tomatoes are taking longer to ripen...but once they do, we're in business.

The peppers are thriving, too. Anaheim's, pasillas, jalapenos and a purple bell pepper. So far we've harvested one purple bell pepper. One. But there are lots of little ones I'm looking forward to that. They taste good...but even more than that, they are very pretty in the garden. The Anaheim's and the jalapenos are loaded with good in the salsa and delicious roasted and then served on of our favorite meals. (Thank goodness my family loves a good about an easy dinner.)

Cantaloupe. Chris planted cantaloupe on a whim. I had been told that it was hard to grow. So I took that word as gospel and never even gave it a try. Chris threw caution to the wind and went for it...and they are doing pretty well! I think we've got 4 or 5 baby melons growing! Good job honey.

So far so good.

Well, except for the disappointments of the season.

Out of the dozen or so (at least) sunflower seeds I planted, I've got one sunflower growing. One. But I have a feeling it's going to be beautiful once it blooms. It's finally getting ready to flower. Don't you just love how they literally follow the sun? So interesting.

The squash plants are huge and green and lush...and have produced two zucchinis. Two. TWO. I feel cheated. I am letting the Blue Hubbard grow and grow and far there are two or three baby squash growing. That's it. The acorn squash got shaded out by the zucchini plant...which is fine, we figured out we're not crazy about acorn squash, anyway.

Green beans...I harvested one meals worth of beans. And it's not looking like I'm going to get much more than that. Which is sad...we all love fresh green beans.

Cucumbers? I planted two plants. One survived. And so far, harvest tally is.......two cucumbers. They were really good cucumbers...but...there were only two of them. Again, this is fine as we're not really big cucumber fans. Ian used to eat them like an apple...literally half of a cucumber at a time. But...he claims he doesn't like them anymore. At this point, we're all in agreement that the best way to eat cucumbers is pickled. That changes garden planning...ya know?

So. What does all of this mean?

It means that plans for next year's garden are going to be a bit different.

We'll still plant lots of tomatoes because we love them on BLT's and sliced as a side dish and in salsa. Tomatoes are a no-brainer. Oh...and peppers, too. Easy to grow. And can be roasted and frozen.

Zucchini...lots of plain ol' zucchini plants. No squash. No acorns. No blue something-or-others. Just zucchini. Bam. Done.

Green beans. We love them. I need to plant LOTS of them. Lots and lots. And I need to plant them away from tomatoes and in plenty of sunshine. The year before last we had a great green bean season. I grew pole beans...on poles made of tree branches...they got plenty of sun and they gave us plenty of green beans. I will try it that way again and then plant even more so we have enough to freeze a bit for winter.

Cucumbers. I need to read up on planting pickling cucumbers. I want to know how many I need to plant to get a decent pickle harvest. And then figure out if I have the room. Or figure out how to make room. And if it's not going to my time, money and garden space and go out to the local stand and BUY a ton of pickling cucumbers and call it a day.

I would love to grow corn...but sun and space are a bit limited for a decent corn crop. And it's affordable enough that I can buy it local...and it is so delicious. (And truth be told...I'm the only one in my family that loves corn on the cob. Love it. But I probably don't need all that much.)

The smart thing is to grow food that we want to eat. If not, it's a lot of work and time and water...for nothing. Right? Right.

Gardening is definitely a learning process. And just when you think you've got something figured out...the dynamics change and you have to rethink the whole thing. No wonder I enjoy never gets boring!

How does your garden grow? Learning anything new this season?

Friday, August 5, 2011

focusing on the good.

Go here to see who did what.
I am finding that focusing on the good is helpful to me. It reminds me of the blessings in my reminds me of how fortunate I am...and how good life can be when I choose to see good things.

Focusing on the good reminds me that there is beauty in the world...there are good people...and good experiences. It's a challenge some days....this world is going to hell, literally. And everywhere I turn I see despair...and pain...and ugliness. I can really dwell on that if I let myself.

But instead of dwelling...I'm focusing on the good.
  • Sun tea. Yes, again. I can't help myself.
  • A car load of hilarious and animated teenagers on their way to student council camp...and being in charge of the stereo, "Mom! Bump it!" (I was pretty sure that meant, "Turn it up!" So I did. :)
  • Cooler temps in's been beautiful.
  • Corn on the cob. With butter. And pepper.
  • My mom and dad. They are awesome. And I appreciate them.
  • Talking to a friend on the phone. xo
  • Meeting new people and learning new things in the process.
  • Gray nail polish on my toes.
  • Being understood.
  • A teensy bit of light shining in the darkness. It's a start. 
  • A drive in the country with my husband.
  • New music.
  • Clean sheets.
  • Encouragement.
How about you? What's good in your corner of the world?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Wednesday in the Word

10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved.

Matthew 24:10-13

So there's this book at work (if you don't know, I work at the christian book store) that has been in my line of sight for quite some time. Over the past few months it has been recommended to me...twice. I have avoided it. (I have avoided a lot, actually.)

Yesterday, while at work, I saw it on the shelf. And I realized it was the last copy in the store. I grabbed it and set it on the back counter..."Fine...I'll think about it."

Work was steady...I helped customers and stocked shelves. After a while I had a moment of down time and decided to thumb through the book. I read a few paragraphs and knew...I had to read the whole thing. I bought it.

So what's the book? The Bait of Satan by John Bevere. The subtitle is, "Living Free from the Deadly Trap of Offense".

After months of being (sort of) quiet...and sitting (sort of) still...and being (very) confused...and (completely) frustrated...I think I've finally figured out the root of my stagnation: I feel offended.

I won't go into detail. Or give names or situations. I'm not sure who reads this blog. And I don't want to offend in return.

And besides it's not necessary to rehash past hurts. Not anymore at least.

I will admit...rehashing...talking it to death...telling "my side"...has felt good. I have felt justified in all of it. But you know...the bottom line is, all of this ugliness that I keep revisiting, that I keep alive and well by dwelling on's not good for me. It's not healthy. It's like a dark cloud hovering over me...and as much as I like the clouds, this one is ominous. And it's sucking the life out of me.

So. What to do?

Stop it.

Stop talking about it. Stop thinking about it. Stop justifying my feelings of hurt and anger and frustration and confusion. It is what it is. People act the way they act. And say the things they say. And I have absolutely no control over any of that. I can only control myself. And that's what I need to focus on.

I've rehashed this stuff for long enough. I've dwelled long enough. No more.

Easier said than done, right? I know. That's why I bought the book. I'm stuck. And I'm hoping that this book is going to help me see things from God's perspective and not my own. I don't want to be stuck anymore. I've been stuck long enough. I want to be free to become the woman God created me to be.

Monday, August 1, 2011

this season of change.

It's Monday...I have a lot on my mind.

First and most important...God is on my mind. And He is GOOD. I've been far from Him as of late. But He hasn't been far from me. Oh no. He's been very near...carefully and gently setting me free from legalistic attitudes and religious habits.

I opened my bible this morning for the first time in...weeks? No...more like months I'm sad to say. I almost said "ashamed to say"...but there is no shame, nor condemnation, in Christ. To not read my bible...God's love letter and instruction manual to you...just makes me sad. And incomplete. Off kilter.

So this morning, after a bit of a dry spell, I opened my bible. Isaiah 61 whispered truth to me...I forgot how deep those words were buried in my my soul. They are imprinted...permanently. Thank you God.

Chris and I visited a church last night...and worshipped. Can I tell you how much I needed that? I listen to christian music at times...I have some favorites I listen to at home on occasion. For a while I only listened to christian music. It's what I needed at the time. became legalistic. Honestly, I'm more of a "music in the car" person. And if I'm more's often times old school or alternative.

But anyway...we went to this church. And they had already started worship. And as soon as I heard it tears welled up in my eyes. I tried to act like it wasn't affecting me as much as it was. But...there are some things we just cannot deny. This was one of those things. I needed it. And it began to saturate my sad and weary heart.

Sad and weary? Isn't that a bit dramatic? Maybe. Maybe not. You probably wouldn't know it from the outside...or from talking to me (depending on who you are...). I am not moping around...or hiding under my bed. I'm not depressed. These feelings and thoughts aren't stopping me from living my life well...and happy. But they are stopping from living my life fully.

This sadness...and's all inside. It's in my heart...not on my sleeve. It's between me and God...that secret place that you can't ever, ever hide from Him. He knows. And He cares. And so He does the work gently...anyway...even though I may resist now and then.

The thing is...not everyone knows the season that I am in. I've given you glimpses. But much of it has been just between me and God. At times, even I haven't known what was going on! But I have been trusting. Well...let me rephrase that...I trusted as soon as I realized that my incessant questioning was getting me nowhere. When I finally realized that God wanted me to be quiet, and be still, and just let Him do what He needed to do, the questions began to get His time (slowly!). Probably because He knew that if He gave me answers in my time (right now!), I wouldn't have heard them. More than likely I'd have argued. And as a matter of fact...I might have argued a little anyway.

And can I just tell you...this was not what I planned on writing about. I had a lot on my mind, yes...things like the fact that Seth turned 16 on Saturday, or that Pablo was at the vet getting a wound stitched up, or that we needed to start thinking about back-to-school and clothes shopping and trying to get out of bed before noon. That's what I was going to talk about. But sometimes, many times, God has something else in mind. And today, I guess He wanted me to share my heart.

So there it is. No right. No wrong. No condemnation. And God. And this season of change.