heirloom makeover

When Tuan and I were engaged and had found our first apartment, we needed furniture for it. Fortunately there is this abundance of furniture between both sides of my family. At the time, my folks and grandmother had moved to FLA and left a bunch of things in a giant storage room behind a check-cashing business my dad's friend owned. (Don't worry, he has moved on to the much more reputable work of poultry farming). Anyway, we got the key to the building and went one night and picked out a few things: a kitchen table I refinished, some odds and ends, and this chair that belonged to my grandmother, but was left behind when she moved. I had drooled over the chair and it's twin for some time and was thrilled to grab it. Naturally, being the oldest grand-daughter and the bossiest, I just took it without asking. It's a family chair--the one that was always pulled up to the dining room table when all the other chairs were full. The pair flanked my grandmothers ENORMOUS stereo cabinet (radio/eight track/lp).

I adored that chair and it was a loyal companion to our sofa. Several years later--when our house here was being renovated, my grandmother was packing for another move and I put dibs on the twin chair and got it! The chairs, which were made in the seventies and then recovered by my mom in the nineties are so comfortable and I love the style. Here are Johnny and Aubrey enjoying the chairs.

However, being thirty years old, the finish on these chairs had seen better days. It had a strange finish that sort of peeled off, revealing the laminated wood on the curved back. the chairs couldn't be refinished, yet they were solid wood with super well made cushions. I decided to paint and recover them, but was stumped for ideas. Caroline suggested a Heywood Wakefield look. I didn't know what she was talking about, but after googling the company, I got a bit starry eyed and in absolutely agreed with her. Unfortunately, Wal-mart doesn't carry a Heywood Wakefield colored spray paint. I chose a shade of "gold" and went home inspired.

Unfortunately this was the equivalent of painting my chairs mustard and I don't mean pretty mustard. I sprayed one chair and gagged. This was the plain yellow mustard left out on the counter for a day. Our resident painter drove by as I was painting and I just cringed with humiliation. What to do!?

Fortunately, there was some bathroom paint leftover, a khaki/beige color. I grabbed a dry brush and lightly brushed over the horrendous mustard color. It came out distressed, but pretty, and all the detail in the legs shown through. I liked it, but that meant I had to put the second chair through the entire humiliating process. I also chose to drag the chair outside and paint it on a day when there were oodles of FPC families around. I just wanted to hang a sign on the chair that said:

"I know what I'm doing! [now]
It will look good!
Don't judge me by this chair"

But I didn't. I got right to work on humiliating and redeeming the second chair.

Now with a fresh finish, the "fabric-I-loved-but-didn't-know-what-to-do-with-it" found a happy, happy home.

I hope that these chairs stick around for thirty more years of happy times.


A Truly Useful Bargain!

I've discovered a terribly fun blog. Meredith at Like Merchant Ships is a woman after my own heart: frugal, but loving beautiful things. She's got me rather renewed in my quest for frugality. Going shopping with J/A has stifled a lot of my bargain hunting. The logistics of getting them in and out of car seats and into a store and out has me pretty set to only hit one place for groceries and goods, rather than hopping around. HOWEVER, I found a great spot that warrants and extra visit and I can hit it once a month and satisfy our needs.

The Colonial/Sara Lee/Earthgrains bread outlet on Hwy 49 is most excellent. I stocked up on Sara Lee Whole Wheat English muffins, and Earthgrains, double fiber, whole grain breads at unbelievable prices.

Here's the run down:

$ 1.09 Sarah Lee Whole Wheat English Muffins (Buy one get one)
1.09 Earthgrains bread
1.09 ditto
1.09 ditto
$ 4.87 Grand Total!!

I looked for comparable breads at Kroger. They sold their whole grain breads for around $3.36. I'm not sure how much english muffins are--maybe two dollars? So, I could have purchased the equivalent at Kroger for $14.08. That's a difference of $ 9.21. I think saving/earning ten dollars by making that extra stop is absolutely worth it. The bread is still fresh and I freeze my bread anyway. It's also great to buy bread with a dually clear conscience (whole grain and inexpensive). Hope someone else checks it out!

God, infinite and personal

I was reflecting this morning about how personal God is--he knows everything about us, our needs, desires, wants, quirks, cares, heart's cries, and yet He is so infinite and mighty and beyond us. A god who was merely personal, but not infinite might care, but be helpless in his care for us. A god who is solely mighty and infinite would have all the vast resources, yet not know us enough to meet us, to care for us, to supply our specific needs.

God, Yahweh, is both infinite and personal. He knows and can supply all our needs (and then some!). I am glad to be His child.


Further Notice

Rocky Mountain Spotted fever. That's what the doctors are saying that my father-in-law now has. I feel like I am throwing out a new diagnosis for y'all daily, but this is the latest. He actually called to talk to Johnny today so that's promising. The doctor is re-running a test to confirm the diagnosis--I guess tests break up the monotony of being in the hospital for so many days. He's been in for over a week now and it doesn't sound like they'll let him go until he's truly ready. Thanks for all of your continued prayers.



I heard from Melissa's sister-in-law that Melissa and Joey received some good news. While Edie does have galactosemia, her type is the mildest. That means she may have a mild learning disability down the road, and that dairy is a possibility in the future.

I haven't spoken to Melissa yet, so this is a bit through the grapevine, but we are all relieved at the good news and grateful that we serve a mighty God who hears prayers and answers them! We are also thankful for all of your prayers.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
Praise Him, all creatures here below!
Praise Him above, ye heavenly hosts!
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost!

Tuan's father is improving, but still being tested. As I understand it, they drew blood yesterday, separated the white from the red and radiated the white, then put them back in? This will help them find the infection or something like that! He is still hallucinating and has headaches, but he seems a bit better. Being in the hospital for so long can be quite a bummer, please pray that he doesn't get too down or worry too much about missing work. We took the kids to visit last night and made cards and posters for him. I'm sure our visit didn't help his headache much. : )


Saturday Morning Muffin

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day and my favorite to prepare. I love to sit around the table with Tuan and the kids, drinking coffee and eating something scrumptious.

This morning we got off to a late start with breakfast, becayse I was inspired to try something new and perhaps a bit more "healthy" in the baked goods department. We're usually protein/cereal people, but with an abundance of strawberries that were given to us, muffins sounded scrumptious. I combined three different Joy of Cooking recipes and a Martha Stewart idea to produce these. They were great! The muffins were a bit sweet/tart due to the partially ripe strawberries and the streusel topping gave it just enough sweetness. I also got to try out the palm sugar that Beth has raved about. I think a bit of lemon zest in the batter would be yummy, too.

Strawberry Streusel Muffins

makes approximately twelve muffins
Preheat Oven to 400 degrees

1 1/3 c. whole wheat flour * 2/3 c. oat flour
1 tsp salt *2 tsp baking powder

1 c. sour cream * approximately 1/4 c. whole milk
1 egg * 2 Tbsp palm sugar

1 1/2 c. strawberries, chopped

In a roomy bowl, combine dry ingredients. In a separate bowl combine wet ingredients (sc/milk/egg/palm sugar) and mix thoroughly to break up egg. Pour wet into the dry and stir until moistened. If the batter is too dry and thick, add more milk until it is moist enough to scoop, but not pour. Fold in the strawberries and spoon into muffin tins. Greasing the tin is optional. Top generously with the streusel and bake for 15-20 minutes until the bottoms are lightly browned and the dough is set.

The Streusel
1/2 stick of butter, room temperature * 1/3 c. oat flour * 1/3 c whole wheat flour * 1/4 c. powdered sugar * 1/2 tsp salt

Combine dry and cut butter into the mix, either by hand or by food processor. When the mixture is all happy, powdery and combined, spoon over the muffins.

notes: for oat flour, I used some baby oatmeal that I had on hand, but throwing some uncooked oatmeal into a coffee grinder or food processor would also do the trick just fine. And, yes, just substitute real sugar for the palm sugar.

I hope someone will try them and let me know how they turned out!

updates and further requests

Thank you all so much for your prayers. Daddy Morris is improving today. He is more lucid and was able to get up and walk around. He is on many medicines including an anti-coagulant to prevent a stroke and an anti-viral to fight the inflammation. The headaches he was having are lessening, although he is still hallucinating. The doctors plan to keep him in the hospital much longer this time--which is good. We are grateful for God's goodness and kindness as he improves.

I have a second request. My sister, Melissa, had a baby just two weeks ago: Edie Rae. The pediatrician called them late Thursday night with the results of the Newborn Blood Screen. (the foot prick) Apparently Edie tested positive for a rare chromosonal disease called galactosemia. The short description is, folks who suffer from this are lacking an enzyme to turn galactose, which is a by-product of milk and breast milk into glucose and it builds up to toxic amounts very quickly. That means absolutely no milk whatsoever. Edie has been taken off breast milk and put on soy formula. She has not shown symptoms of this, except for a bit of jaundice, but they tested her blood again yesterday and has an appointment with a Genetic Specialist type doctor at UMC on Monday. Naturally, please pray that this is a fluke and the 2nd tests will turn up negative.

Also, please pray for Joey and Melissa that God would give them strength and a lot of grace. One of their two-year old twin girls, Carly, has (successfully) battled retinoblastoma (eye cancer) for the past two years, and I hate to see M and J go through another difficult season with their children. Thank you all for your prayers. I'll update when I have news.


Hi everyone,
Wanted to ask for more prayers for my father-in-law. For those of you who don't know, he became very ill several weeks ago. After a lot of tests, he was diagnosed with a viral encephalitis. Things seemed to be on the upswing and he was released roughly two weeks ago.

Yesterday, he took a downturn. He had been hallucinating and now his infection is back and worse. We are just kind of waiting for another spinal tap and more tests right now. I'm hearing everything second hand, but until they know more, it is being treated as though it were the worst type of encephalitis. Please pray for him, for my mother-in-law and for all of us that we would know the right things to say and do.


Nourishing Update

What I neglected to mention in the previous post was that on Saturday night around 8:30, I realized that since our Easter plans with Tuan's folks had not worked out, we had nothing planned for Easter dinner--this is "crazy talk" for me, since we've always spent Easter with my folks and kin. Our Sunday lunches are typically quick and easy since we leave for Mount Olive at four o'clock and want to get maximum rest, but it just seemed strange to eat egg salad sandwiches on Easter and without company!

Tuan and I decided to just ask around and see if anyone was in town and not "going home" for Easter, then invite them for dinner! My sweet, adventurous and compliant friend Caroline agreed to come, along with one of our summer staff: Matt L, a Belhaven student from Massachusetts. We roped in Sonny, too, so dinner was on!

Did I mention it was 8:30? I didn't have time or desire to go to Wal-mart, Kroger, or Fresh Market (ha-ha) so a pantry raid was in order, and I have to say that when you put tremendous pressure on our pantry and freezer, all sorts of things come out. The biggest problem was the scant quantity of ground beef--the ONLY meat in the house apart from some turkey pepperoni (and I refuse to serve turkey pepperoni on Easter Sunday--it just seems wrong), but that was resolved with the below meatloaf idea.

Here's what the great pantry raid of '09 yielded.

Easter Menu

Homemade Hummus w/ chips

Caroline's fabulous vegetable salad
Deviled Eggs for Days
Meatloaf w/lentils and brown rice
Smashed/fried potatoes
Roasted baby carrots
Black-eyed peas
Fried Okra
Whole wheat biscuits w/ Molasses
Cherry tomatoes and green Olives

Our guests had to wait a good while after church for everything to cook, so the hummus came in handy. We finished out meal and played a game of Settlers and ate some Ghirardelli chocolates for dessert. It was lots of fun to spend time with these friends and family, and it was a good experience for me to practice hospitality on a whim and have folks over impulsively without deep cleaning and "polishing the silver". I enjoy the deep cleaning and polishing of silver part, but hospitality isn't defined by that.

So, to rate the meatloaf and biscuits: The meatloaf was good and crusty, I thought, but Tuan said it needed fewer lentils. : ) The biscuits were yummy, said Tuan, but I plan to use a bit less flour or more moisture next time. Using whole wheat pastry flour might have helped, had I had it. I will say, that if you try the biscuits, don't despair when the dough seems unbearably thick and unwieldy. The entire recipe felt counter-intuitive for biscuit making, but produced a really fun, layered biscuit.

Johnny and Aubrey alternated naps during all of the festivities, so they didn't get their Easter basket until after supper. This was the first year of Easter baskets and we have decided to do a family basket each year. Johnny got so excited when he pulled the big, hollow chocolate bunny out of the basket. He tore into it and pulled off that foil wrapper and proceeded to set it on the ground and play with it. Not eat it, but play with it. It was totally lost on Johnny that this was an edible chocolate bunny! He and Aubrey shared a bite of the ear and then there could have been a feeding frenzy, in the likes of the bunny binge of Rack, Shack and Benny, but the now, deaf bunny was rescued--for the moment!

Hope you all had a blessed Easter as well.


Nourishing Traditions

I should have known it.

I casually mention this cookbook I'm interested in buying and reading to Caroline. "It's a "politically incorrect" look at healthy eating, lot's of whole grains, ya know, " I say to her over dinner.

We sitting at a table and it's girl's night with her and Leigh.
"It's called Nourishing Traditions and it's written by this woman named---" I couldn't get it out before Caroline interrupted me with
"Sally Fallon! Aunt Marion loves her! I'm the only woman in the family who doesn't own that cookbook" (paraphrased. Caroline you can correct me with your verbatim comment if you like.)

It shouldn't have surprised me that this is a McKinney woman cookbook. We talked about it a bit and it got me even more excited about obtaining this cookbook. I haven't ordered the book yet, but intend to, soon. I actually first heard about it from the Nourshing Gourmet site. Not yet owning the book hasn't stopped me from trying some new things, though.

Lately, Tuan and I have been trying to deliberately eat better, fresher, more wholesome things. We've switched to organic milk, and are going for as many whole grain foods as possible as well as being more deliberate about vegetables and fruit. It's so easy to get into a veggie rut and to gasp at produce prices, but I'm gulping and going for it. Tuan is certainly not complaining about the increase of avocado, mushrooms, bellpeppers, etc gracing the table. The whole grain thing has been daunting though. I found a great guide at the library that covers many grain options from the common to the obscure. It gives ideas for preparing and using them in recipes. Since we already had brown rice, this has been our main experimenting area, however, once I grocery shop, again, we'll try something new!

For Easter lunch, I'm cooking a "meatloaf". Since we were short on the meat end of the deal, I threw some brown rice and lentils into the rice cooker, along with a three cloves of garlic and some salt. When they were cooked, I added in some diced onion, the scant quantity of ground beef I had, two eggs and some seasonings, then some oatmeal. I'll let you all know how it goes.

I'm also attempting this biscuit recipe from the nourishing gourment. I'm using dairy, though, so we'll see!

Hope you all have a blessed Easter. We sang some great hymns after dinner tonight and I'm really looking forward to worship, tomorrow.

I know that my Redeemer lives,
Glory, Hallelujah!
What comfort this sweet sentence gives,
Glory, Hallelujah!

Shout on, pray on, we’re gaining ground,
Glory Hallelujah!
The dead’s alive, and the lost is found,
Glory Hallelujah!

He lives to bless me with His love;
Glory Hallelujah!
He lives to plead my cause above;
Glory Hallelujah!

He lives to crush the fiends of hell;
Glory Hallelujah!
He lives and doth within me dwell;
Glory Hallelujah!


Yep, this is my life!

God, our Great Shepherd

Psalm 23 has been running through my head. The traditional melody is beautiful and catchy (it's got a great beat and I can really dance to it), which helps me remember it. This Psalm has also sparked some inadvertent meditation.

The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me besid the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For you are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD

There's so much richess and depth to this. Perhaps my brain can be like a sheep's stomach and I can ruminate on this for days on end. That's why ruminant animals have four stomachs, because they get so much more nutrients from the plants they graze on through their long digestive process.

This morning I was thinking in general terms of God, our Great Shepherd. Sometimes the pastures that I'm in seem much less attractive and fun and safe than those of my fellow sheep. It's easy to doubt his goodness and plan for provisions--especially when my focus is on what my other sheep friends are doing, instead of my Great Shepherd.

My prayer for myself and all of you is that our focus would be on Him, our contentment and joy would be in him, that we would frolic and feed in whatever pastures we're in, and that his Goodness and Mercy (like two sheepdogs, keeping us unruly sheep in line) would follow us all the days of our life.


How I'm feeling

Exodus 15

The Song of Moses

1Then Moses and the people of Israel(A) sang this song to the LORD, saying,

(B) "I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously;
the horse and his rider[a] he has thrown into the sea.
2(C) The LORD is my strength and my(D) song,
and he has become(E) my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise him,
(F) my father’s God, and(G) I will exalt him.
3The LORD is(H) a man of war;
(I) the LORD is his name.
4(J) "Pharaoh’s chariots and his host he cast into the sea,
and his chosen(K) officers were sunk in the Red Sea.
5The(L) floods covered them;
they(M) went down into the depths like a stone.
6(N) Your right hand, O LORD, glorious in power,
your right hand, O LORD,(O) shatters the enemy.
7In the(P) greatness of your majesty you overthrow your adversaries;
you send out your fury; it(Q) consumes them like stubble.
8At the(R) blast of your nostrils the waters piled up;
the(S) floods stood up in a heap;
the deeps congealed in the heart of the sea.
9The enemy said,(T) 'I will pursue, I will overtake,
I(U) will divide the spoil, my desire shall have its fill of them.
I will draw my sword; my hand shall destroy them.'
10You(V) blew with your wind; the(W) sea covered them;
they sank like lead in the mighty waters.

11(X) "Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods?
Who is like you, majestic in holiness,
awesome in(Y) glorious deeds,(Z) doing wonders?
12You stretched out(AA) your right hand;
the earth swallowed them.

13"You have(AB) led in your steadfast love the people whom(AC) you have redeemed;
you have(AD) guided them by your strength to your holy abode.
14(AE) The peoples have heard; they tremble;
pangs have seized the inhabitants of Philistia.
15Now are the chiefs of Edom(AF) dismayed;
trembling seizes the leaders of(AG) Moab;
(AH) all the inhabitants of Canaan have melted away.
16Terror and(AI) dread fall upon them;
because of the greatness of your arm, they are still(AJ) as a stone,
till your people, O LORD, pass by,
till the people pass by whom(AK) you have purchased.
17You will bring them in and(AL) plant them on your own mountain,
the place, O LORD, which you have made for your abode,
(AM) the sanctuary, O Lord, which your hands have established.
18(AN) The LORD will reign forever and ever."

19For when(AO) the horses of Pharaoh with his chariots and his horsemen went into the sea,(AP) the LORD brought back the waters of the sea upon them, but the people of Israel walked on dry ground in the midst of the sea. 20Then(AQ) Miriam(AR) the prophetess, the(AS) sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hand, and(AT) all the women went out after her with tambourines and dancing. 21And Miriam sang to them:

(AU) "Sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously;the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea."