The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. -Proverbs 1:7

Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost you all you have, get understanding.-Proverbs 4:7

Saturday, June 30, 2012

FUSE Camp Day #5

Pastor Clark's pond...a pond which resembles more of a waterpark than the pond I had envisioned.

 SINK IT!!!!

 (If you missed the service last night...carry on.  You won't get the reference.)

Debating whether or not I should tell about this next part...  Mostly, because I feel like I need time to process.  But, that's what I said last year and then by the time I had processed it, it was August or something.  I might regret it, but here goes:


The signs that we use to advertise camp promise "The best week of your life."  The signs don't lie.  However, how can one have the best week of one's life when one just had the best week of one's life last year? 

I had the best week of my life last year and in my mind there was no way that could ever be topped in whatever remaining lifetime I have.  Truthfully, I wasn't even going to go.  Because I was angry and annoyed and not in a good place.  Hadn't been in a good place in a long time.  A very long time...a year.   And whenever I would think about it, that place just got darker.  So I tried not to think about it.  Which is always totally healthy and effective (sarcasm). 

How did I get in that place?  Most of this year, I was just inexplicably angry/bitter/insert any other negative feeling you want here and I didn't exactly know why.  I rationalized it out with all kinds of supporting details, because almost everything has associated negative aspects, and some places/groups/people have enough it's easy to choose what you want to fit the situation.

Last year, during the (what just became the second) best week of my life, I was supposed to do something.  That something required another person.  It was scheduled to happen, but then didn't due to time constraints.  And I was not o.k. with that.  I couldn't wrap my mind around how it didn't happen.  Because I was told to do it and it was supposed to happen.  If you know me well, you know what I'm talking about.  If not, no worries.  Just keep reading.

As the year progressed, I became more miserable.  I refused to admit it.  First, because I couldn't figure out exactly what was going on.  Second, because it wasn't my issue.  It was the fault of someone else that I didn't do what I was supposed to do.  Someone who should have understood the magnitude of what not doing what I needed done caused.  And I figured they didn't really care about that.

It got in between me and God.  It became so loud I could not hear.  It became so associated with God I couldn't think about one without the other and therefore the only option was to just avoid it all.  Because any other option made me twitchy.

And then I was lonely.  Ridiculously lonely.  I don't ever remember being lonely in my life.  Ever.  I have always had interests and hobbies and have never been the kind of person who needed other people to entertain me.  Loneliness was a new thing.  I suspect, since it was the absence of God, it was "loneliness exponential".  So I was angry and lonely.  By Monday of this week, I had reached "unbearable". 

Monday is when FUSE started.  I went despite insisting I wasn't going to.  I was in a foul mood.  Was probably pretty off-putting to anyone in my path.  Until the night service then a teeny-tiny door had opened.  Enough for me to hear God say "Obedience is the highest form of worship."

"What??????  What are you talking about God?"

And then I remembered that thing I was supposed to do.  It wasn't just something I wanted to do (I did want to do it.), it was something I was told to do.  I hadn't put that much effort in getting it done.  Pride kept me from it, because I was offended.  It was easy to blame it on the other person even though I knew the other person hadn't intentionally offended me.

I'm pretty stubborn.  (Most of you already know that.)

I was miserable and to an unbearable place, because I hadn't done what God told me to do.  I spent a year out of his presence, because of that.  The whole attack and associated lies were so sneakily crafted on the last day of the (formerly) best week of my life, I didn't even realize it.  Huh.

I'm thinking about next year and what is probably going to be the best week of my life.  I'm trying to fathom how that can even be.  Because I did this week what God told me to do (a year ago) and am just now coming off the best week of my life.  A week that exploded on Tuesday with the (formerly) most awesome service ever and ended last night with the most awesome service ever. 

Except, we are having an extra service tonight, because we can't just end it on the awesomeness of last night. Maybe tonight is going to be the best service ever?  Kind of incomprehensible, but stranger things have happened...

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Fuse Camp Day/Night #3

Truth is...I should have just planned to stay there.  Or at least put a blanket and pillow in the car.  Because last night's started out like it always does with teenagers all wild and having fun and then turned into one of those services where everything that can happen pretty much did and along about 2 a.m. the  music was so beautiful I couldn't make myself get up to leave.  They lasted longer than I and I finally had to leave a little after 3.  Seriously, though, a pillow and a blanket and sleeping next to the altar while listening to that would have been as close to Heaven as I'm going to get on Earth.

There's more I want to say about that.  Maybe later.

It's incredible how much energy these kids have.  It's activities all day and worship all night.  I'm feeling it.  Not saying I won't do it again today/tonight, but I'm feeling it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

FUSE Camp Night #2

Truth is...I'm not staying there this year which means I'm only there when I get over there.  I am doing the snack shack, but I don't have it open all the time.  I skipped out on "Breakfast at Tiffany's" (where there was a doughnut tower comprised of 500 doughnuts, among other delicacies) and all the Hunger Games challenges at Pastor Clark's pond.

I did make it back up there for the rodeo (Last night's theme was "Toy Story Rodeo") and service and then the baked potato bar and then (It must have been midnight at that point?) the "movie under the stars" or whatever they were calling it.

It's too bad these kids aren't having any fun.

Pre-Rodeo Dancing:

This one is long, but if you know Nell, listening to her is hilarious. It's the selection of the bulls and riders for the rodeo. The kids are divided into districts to reflect the Hunger Games theme.

I ran out of battery before I ran out of video opportunities. Oh well. You get one ride.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Fuse Camp Day #1

FUSE Camp does something to me.  That's all I have to say about that.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Blueberries and Another Recipe

Everyone's morning chore was to get up to go help me pick three more gallons of blueberries.  Picking blueberries is all fun and games for the first 10 minutes.  After that, you remember it's 100 degrees and people start mentioning it's not fun. 

Next week, I'll have to go alone.  They will be at camp.

Most of these berries made it to the freezer.  I've got one lonely gallon hanging out in the fridge.  Jam will take half of them and then I guess the rest will just have to be eaten "as is".

Vegan Blueberry Muffins


1/4 cup of flour
1/4 cup of sugar
1/4 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp of cinnamon
3 TBSP of Earth Balance

Dry ingredients:

2 cups of flour
1 1/2 tsp of baking soda
1/2 tsp of salt
1/2 of brown sugar
1/2 of white sugar
The zest of an orange

Wet ingredients:

1 cup of coconut milk (not from a can, find it next to the soy milk in the dairy section)
1/3 cup of oil
2 tsp of lemon juice
1TBSP of vinegar (I used sushi vinegar.  It was either that or balsamic.  Out of Apple Cider.  Turned out fine.)

1 1/2 cups of blueberries

Some people like to get all wordy when they cook.  That is not necessary.

Preheat the oven to 375.

Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet in another.  Fold them together.  Gently add the berries.  Put into a 12-muffin, lined tin. Put the topping on the top. (duh.)  Bake for 23 minutes.

*In truth, there was enough for 13 muffins, but who has a 13-muffin tin? I made it fit in 12.

**Do not confuse "vegan" with "healthy".

A poor picture of was this sweet potato, red bean chili that had some fancy name in the vegetarian crockpot book I was talking about the other day.  Seriously tempting...I wanted to eat it very much.  It was a winner and there is only one small bowl left in the fridge.  I'm not really a huge fan of cooking by cookbook, but this one is starting to prove itself worthy.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

2 Recipes

 Last night's project was blueberry/rhubarb jam.  Not that making jam is any huge project, it's just what I was doing in the middle of the night.

A gazillion years ago, Grandma Helen taught me how to make my first batch of jam.  It was strawberry.  The way Grandma Helen does it is she puts jam into all sorts of jars/containers, etc... and seals it with paraffin.  I don't do it like that.  It kind of makes me nervous (even though I grew up eating paraffin sealed jam my entire life, probably daily, and I'm still alive).  While I do have paraffin, I don't feel like dedicating a pan to the process.  It's just easier for me to water bath them.  The other thing is she uses pectin.  I didn't feel like paying $4. for it.  Besides, I'm sure people back in the olden days were not running up to their mercantile every 5 minutes for pectin.  They just relied on the natural and called it good.  I think.  Don't quote me on that.  I actually have no idea.  Just seems logical to me.

At any rate, jam making is easy peasy.  And an affordable way for me to provide my kids with non-high fructose corn syrup jam.  There's still plenty of sugar for those of you who think I'm mean by not wanting them to eat hfcs. 

Blueberry Rhubarb Jam

8 Cups of blueberries
4 Cups of Rhubarb (I chopped it fairly small.)
4 Cups of Sugar
The Juice of a Lemon
The Grated Rind of the Same Lemon
1 Cup of Water

Smash up the blueberries pretty good and then put everything in a large pot.  (The sugar is supposed to be added later, but I was off in lala land and put it in with everything before it boiled.  Nothing bad happened.)  Bring it to a boil.  Once it starts boiling, stir it for 15 minutes or so (while it boils) until it's gelled to the consistency you want it to be.  Skim the foam.  (There wasn't any foam with this batch.)  Stir jam to evenly distribute fruit prior to putting it in jars.  Put in jars, seal and hot water bath for 5-10 minutes.

*To check to see if it has gelled, I keep a spoon in ice water.  Take a spoonful and let it come to room temperature.  Or cheat and use the freezer to quickly cool it.
Makes 8 half pints

There's always some leftover that's not enough to fill another jar.  That goes in the fridge and is the meter for which one uses to measure if more is going to need to be made.  The kids ate it all today.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner.  We'll probably need a second batch. :-)

See that little gadget down there?  It's my favorite kitchen gadget.  It's an antique jar lifter.  I just love that thing.

Ryan's dinner was roasted red pepper hummus with vegetables and a sprouted grain tortilla.  Evidently it is "ridiculously good".  I usually make hummus, but I've been lazy lately and the last few tubs came from the store.  I like those just fine, but they seem a little "processed" to me.

Besides, that stuff at the store is too expensive.

And you can make it yourself in about 2 minutes.  For real.

Basic Hummus

1 can of chickpeas drained and rinsed
2 cloves of garlic
the juice of a lemon
1/2 tsp of salt
1/2 cup of tahini

Throw it all in the food processor and process it.  I don't like mine creamy and airy like the ones from the store, but I bet the vitamix would have done that for me.  I added a half of jar of roasted red peppers from Trader Joes to mine.  This recipe makes a good bit.  Way more than one of those little tubs from the store.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Midnight Project

These past few days have been full.  Like "I'm not even in my house during the daylight hours" full.

This morning, Jac and I were in the blueberry fields by 8:30.  We picked a gallon and then had to leave due to other appointments; chiropractor, thrift shopping for camp costumes with Alicia and then the rest of the day was at the pool.

So hot today.  Uncomfortably hot.  Summer must really be here.  Finally.

One of these days, I'll show you pictures of my whole garden.  Right now, it's a mess.  Because I'm never home to mess around with it.  My neighbor's garden is all big and beautiful and growing out of control...mine?  It's coming along.  It went in late due to my back. 

I think the peas are pretty much done.  I pulled out most of the vines tonight.  Perhaps, I'll be inspired by that last little harvest for dinner tomorrow night. 

I spied a baby squash.

Rhubarb...I hated that stuff as a kid.  Like, really hated it.  Rhubarb and gooseberries.  Which reminds me, I now wish I had a gooseberry bush (even though I'm pretty sure I'm still not a fan of them).  Back to the rhubarb...I bought a plant of it a few years ago.  Because I like the way it looks growing.  Evidently it cannot be killed, because that plant sat on my deck for maybe 2-3 years in a deadlike state in the container it came in.  A year or two ago, it sprung a leaf and I threw it in the garden.  Now, it's outgrown the spot I gave it.  And suddenly I'm wondering about what I can do with rhubarb.

My midnight project involves rhubarb.  You will have to wait for it.

Ryan's dinner was a bunch of stir fried vegetables.  The kids ate vegan-ish spaghetti.  With sauce containing high fructose syrup.  Hope they enjoy it now, because once all my million tomato plants start producing...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Mystery Trip Tuesday

Mystery Trip Tuesday is a long standing, summer tradition (ah...sweet summertime) in this house.  I sort of assumed my kids (at least one of them) were too old for it, but they assured me they are not.

Sometimes Mystery Trip Tuesday is huge and we do something that takes the whole day (like when I took them to Lancaster, PA and we went to a dairy farm where the cows sleep on water beds, buggy riding and then to a cider mill on an Amish farm) and sometimes it's not so big.

Today was not so big.  Strangely, I've been living here all this while and didn't know about this place until maybe a year ago.  I had to go check it out.

It's this park, Mt. Tabor Park, out in the middle of nowhere (Rocky Ridge, MD).  The attraction is this giant slide.  I have no idea how old it is, but while we were there an 80 something year old man stopped by and was telling me he had slid down it with his wife 60 something years ago when they were first married.  I said "Are you going to go down it today?"  "I'm in my 80's!" as he looked at me crazily.

We brought towels just in case, but there were ample burlap bags available (in case you might be thinking about copying my Mystery Trip Tuesday idea).

I went down it a couple of times.  Going down is much faster than it looks.

Lunch...I always let them eat junk on Mystery Trip Tuesday.  There was lots of junk and then a stop at Dunkin' Donuts on the way home.

The park is owned by a church and there's this cute little outdoor sanctuary/tabernacle type thing.  I love the red paint.  This would be an awesome place for a photo shoot.  The sun was too strong for all of that when we were there.

There's also a merry-go-round and some other archaic playground equipment that somehow got overlooked by the safety police.  I've always looked for a merry-go-round like the one I grew up playing on.  That one is no longer in existence (probably for safety reasons and I should mention it was substantially more dangerous than this) which is disappointing.  This is probably the closest we'll find to an old time, probably hand-crafted by local people, merry-go-round. 


Monday, June 18, 2012

30 Days until "Welcome Home"

Summer is when I get stuff done.  Stuff that nobody ever wants to do, but stuff that will take over if you let it.  I let it every year.  I rationalize the whole thing by telling myself "All teachers do this."  Probably not.

Truthfully, I was doing an o.k. job with it this year.  I was going to start summer without being swallowed by the house.  Then I had that back issue.  And everything got out of control.  By "out of control", I mean the type of situation where one cleans for awhile each day, over a period of days, and no progress is made.  So yeah, that's where I am.

At this point, I need a gimmick to get it together.  I'm calling this one "30 days until Welcome Home", because, right now, there isn't much going on around here that says "Welcome Home!" in a happy kind of way.  Basically, a 30 day commitment to take back my house and make it welcoming.  More extreme than FlyLady, because this situation is past FlyLady.  And because, I suspect the FlyLady does not have kids which seems to be the complicating factor whenever I try to do her plan.  And because I need something that has faster results than FlyLady due to my history of losing interest in things.   Make no mistake, we are suffering from CHAOS (can't have anyone over syndrome), except I do have people over.  And they just look around.

In a nutshell, I spent the entire day cleaning.  Non-stop.  In some other life, that would translate into me sitting on my couch right about now with smug satisfaction.  1.  You know the couch is kind of out of commission at the moment.  2.  There is nothing to be satisfied about.  Everything looks the same.  Maybe tomorrow there will be noticeable difference.

Dinner was a French white bean and cabbage soup with whole wheat, beer bread.  I was trying out a recipe from a new cookbook.  This one.  Both kids ate it.  Alicia ate 3 bowls.  She loves cabbage.  Jac wouldn't admit to liking it, but he ate a full bowl (which means he liked it).  Progress.

I added a little bit of this to give the flavor some depth. 

I have been doing a good bit of juicing lately.
Turns out, I do not like watermelon juice.  I mean, a little was fine, but any more than that and blech.  I added a little stevia (because it was not a sweet watermelon) and made popsicles.  Thought maybe the kids would eat them.  Jac ate 1/2 of one and then said he didn't like it.  So far, he's been the only guinea pig.

So weird they striated when they froze.  At least they are pretty?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Party of All Parties

Mostly just pictures today.  If this joint has a limit, I'm pushing it.

Last night's party at Stillpoint Farm:

(P.S.  In October, their brewery will be open.  It'll be a one stop, honey, fleece and pumpkins.  Something for everyone.)