Some days are just plain hard. But God is powerful enough, loving enough and HERE enough to repair even the greatest brokenness.
The plan was to get a free cup of hot coffee from “Luke’s Diner” in town. Commemorating the 16th anniversary of Gilmore Girls, and to celebrate the upcoming debut of a Gilmore Girls mini series, Netflix sponsored pop-up “Luke’s Diner” in coffee shops all over the country. Oh my goodness, I love that show!
I had every intention of going and really looked forward to it. In fact, I even walked toward the line and snapped a picture. What a special event in town!
But then I started to miss my own “Rory” so much that I had to leave. If I had stayed, I feared I would have started to cry and end up blubbering something like “Will you please be my daughter? I miss my daughter! Anyone in this line, can I please be your Lorelai because my daughter lives halfway to China and I’m missing her so much and we watched Gilmore Girls together when she was going to college and HOW can I possibly get a cup of coffee that we would have shared but can’t because she’s halfway to China??” If I had stayed, I totally would have done that. 0_0
So I left without coffee, immediately went home and did a Sookie thing – I whipped up some Sugar Crusted Orange Ginger Muffins and cried the entire time. I sure did.
I made up this recipe years ago, just because I needed a batter that fit in the big, new muffin tins. I still use my favorite batter-scooping spoon, even though the handle is broken.
Sugar Crusted Orange Ginger Muffins
Sift together in a large bowl:
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
5 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cardamom
Mix together in another bowl:
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup oil
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp grated orange rind
Mix together in another bowl:
3/4 cup raisins (I like golden best but any raisin will do)
3/4 cup candied ginger cut up into little pieces (I never buy the precut ginger because it has too much sugar sprinkled on it. All that extra sugar changes the texture of the recipe. It’s better to buy candied, sliced ginger and cut it up yourself with scissors.)
Dump the egg mixture into the flour mixture and quickly stir with a whisk or wooden spoon about 5 or 6 strokes. Mixture will be lumpy and NOT mixed together.
Dump in the raisins and ginger.
Stir quickly and thoroughly but briefly using a wood spoon or whisk. Mixture will be lumpy. Make sure you scrape the dry ingredients off the bottom of the bowl while mixing. If the batter gets rubbery and stretchy, you mixed it too long and the muffins might be tough. Anyway, drop spoonfuls of batter into greased, large muffin tins.
Sprinkle tops with coarse sugar crystals.
BAKE at 400F for 20-25 minutes.
Makes 12 large muffins.
After I had two cups of good strong coffee and a muffin, I felt better. But since I miss my daughter so much, I’m declaring it Official Wallowing Day. Truly. At least once a year I just need a good wallow.
I miss you and love you, Heather. <3
And Texas just seems like half-way to China. ;)
Photos just can’t capture what the eye sees. I walked under the ice-coated branches and looked up through them. I wish everyone could experience the beauty of an ice storm. We lost power for a couple days so that wasn’t easy getting through but what I remember most is the crystalline beauty. Diamonds!
I put away all the Christmas decorations except for one – the Snow and Crystal Tree. The corner will be too empty if I put it away and I love the wintery look of it. The snowflakes remind me of scribbles. Scribble Snowflakes!
The tree is a dried branch cut from a tree in the woods behind our house. I stuck it firmly into Styrofoam in an urn and laid moss around the base.
The crystals are from the old chandelier that used to hang in my parents’ dining room when I was a child. I loved that chandelier so I’m thrilled to have some of the crystals from it.
The snowflakes are made of natural tendrils and curls that I collected from the vines in the backyard in the fall. My granddaughter helped me look for the curly tendrils and we really enjoyed our time together outdoors.
To make the snowflakes, I broke off the dry twigs and slid the curly tendrils off. Here is a photo I posted on instagram of the twig bits with the tendrils removed.
Each snowflake needed six similar pieces so I grouped the tendrils by size.
Once I had six similar tendrils, I trimmed the ends so they were the same length.
For each snowflake, I made a contoured mat out of foil for gluing. A small bead was glued temporarily on the back of the foil so it would create a small mound on the right side.
On the right side of the foil, on top of the tiny mound, I glued a small bead for the center of the snowflake. All the tendrils will then be glued to this bead using hot glue.
The tendrils were arranged around the center bead in a pleasing manner.
The two straightest tendrils were glued on first, opposite each other, to create the line of symmetry.
The other tendrils were glued on the sides and the hot glue was allowed to harden.
To remove the delicate snowflake, the foil was folded and pinched together under the snowflake. Then the snowflake was gently popped off the foil. One of the snowflakes stuck too much so I used tweezers to pull the foil off and reglue the tendrils that had loosened.
The snowflakes were hung with thin hooks I made from jewelry wire.
The vintage crystals look lovely on the tree.
The little fox ornament I got several years ago finally found a home… at the base of the Snow and Crystal tree.
I don’t know what to put in the corner when this tree comes down.. probably a lamp. But then again, perhaps I’ll make a Snowy Valentine tree…
I’ve made a decision!
Last year I was committed to posting timely topics on my blog. Well that didn’t happen! sigh. I don’t know how other bloggers do it all. They must decorate for Christmas months before December, the same way magazines work on their seasonal material many months before the issue hits the press.
Though I really tried last year, if I couldn’t finish a post during the season, I ended up never posting at all. That is going to change. This year, I am posting anything I want, any time I want. I have quite a bit of material to post! I know that breaks blogger rules, the rule that says readers won’t be interested in seeing Christmas crafts in August. But life is too short and much too busy so I hope you all forgive me for diving right in to this new year.
You will be getting more posts from me but it’s fairly certain they won’t be all calendar-tidy. Nope. Not at all. I can sorta-kinda-maybe get some posts matched with seasons but I won’t stress about missing. And I’ll do my best to not apologize when I post Christmas in May and Valentines in September. Because… it’s highly likely I will actually be working on Christmas projects in May and making Valentines in September!
So here’s a project I just finished yesterday, January 12, 2016. It’s a Christmas decoration. Happy New Year to you!
The photos are a bit off in tone because I started this Pearl Bottle Brush Topiary Tree before Thanksgiving 2015 and photographed the steps under various lighting conditions as I did them, weeks apart. That’s how I get so much done. Projects are broken down into phases, kept in bins and boxes like a kit, ready for me to work on here and there.
For the bottle brush topiary, I picked a nice bottle brush tree to work with. The brush had to be full and evenly distributed all the way around and the bristles had to be tight. I found these 9″ trees at Michaels.
The first step was establishing the spiral by sticking masking tape around the tree. I started at the base and wound it around the tree all the way to the top.
I first started cutting out the bristles right in the center of the taped areas as shown here. The first cutting was in the center between the tape, all the way from the base to the top of the tree.
Here you can see what the tree looks like after the first cutting.
To make the second cutting, I cut at an angle from the tape in to meet the deep first cut in the center of the tree.
After the second cutting.
I continued cutting away bristles until there was a nice, neat spiral shape, all between the tape-covered bristles.
The cutting is all finished here.
The masking tape is gently pulled away.
Here is the cut tree next to an identically-taped bottle brush tree. The tape makes it easy to cut an even spiral.
The last step was gluing on the pearly glass and plastic beads. I watched Downton Abbey while doing this and it was a pleasant task. Oh so elegant! I used Fast Grab Tacky Glue and tweezers to place each pearl. No other glue would have been as easy to use because I needed a glue that grabbed fast and didn’t drip. I used two kinds of large pearl beads and a couple different kinds of smaller pearls and pearly beads.
I’m looking forward to displaying this pretty tree next Christmas, tucked amongst the plants in the corner of the dining room.
By the way, did you see the beautiful red Poinsettia peeking over in the first photo? When I lifted the poinsettia plant out of the van in early December, three branches broke off. So I stuck them in a glass of water. They are still beautiful, over a month later. =)
Life is complicated and one day a couple months ago I became extra conflicted. I just didn’t know what to do and was almost paralyzed with insecurity and fear. What should I do? I had trouble figuring out what was good, what was right, and how to please everyone. Nothing seemed clear. Even when I found a task that seemed ok, I quit as soon as it seemed fun. Really? Now how dumb is that, to intentionally sabotage something good?
But then a new thought suddenly filled my mind. That day, instead of doing what seemed good or fun… a clear thought came to mind.
“Do what is beautiful.”
Enjoy the photos slow. Look close. Each pine needle, each curled leaf, each thirsty root.
Do what is beautiful.
I breathed in deep, remembering the smell of pine and forest.
And there, sitting at my computer looking at photos, breathing deep suddenly seemed beautiful.
Everything started to be beautiful!
Washing dishes is beautiful.
Strength is beautiful.
Resting is beautiful.
Sacrifice is beautiful.
Never giving up is beautiful.
The slate from my childhood hangs on my dining room wall. I had not written on it for over a year and it was time for a change. Writing new words on the slate is doing something beautiful.
I started with a pencil sketch.
I sketched out the words to make it all fit.
I erased and edited.
My sketch seemed off and I wasn’t happy with it. It took me a while to figure out that I wanted to do “what is beautiful” not just “something beautiful.” It was such a small change but it made a big difference to me. So I erased again and penciled in Do What is Beautiful.
I picked out a handful of chalk colors to make the drawing.
But I ended up using only neutral colors.
I’ve never minded the scritch and scratch of chalk on the board and even enjoy the dust on my fingertips.
Do you see the tally marks in the lower left corner. Count them… there are
37 tally marks. I made them as I worked on the chalk drawing. Each one of those tally marks is when I erased something on this chalkboard and had to do it over. 37 times I made mistakes or had to straighten a line, or erase or start over. I left the tally marks on the drawing because they represent what is beautiful.
The last part of the message is to Never, Never give up. Never giving up is beautiful.
If you’re at a loss of what to do, do what is beautiful. You will know. And never, never give up.
That’s what I’m trying to remember these hot summer days. I rarely get thirsty so drinking water is something I have to do intentionally. I’ll get to the end of a day and realize I didn’t drink enough of anything, especially H2O!
To help remember, I made a little drink counter for on my fridge.
I cut one of these plastic wine glasses in half.
Actually, I wanted a little less than half on my fridge so I cut just a smidge off center. It was easier than I thought using a craft saw. I didn’t rush the process and cut the top of the cup first, then the base to match.
Once the top and base were glued together, I used E6000 jewelry glue to attach a strong magnet to the back of the base.
The drink counters are half-marbles from the floral department at Michaels. I recycled old magnets from my fridge by painting them white, including painting over rickrack that was glued around each magnet. The half-marbles were glued on with E6000 jewelry glue.
This is the first water counter I’ve ever made that actually works. It’s easy to see that I haven’t been drinking enough throughout the day. And the cup looks cute filling up with marbles.
What??? There is only one water drop in that cup? And I took all the photos and posted to my blog? Time to drink more water!