Welcome to my eclectic journey of my life and delights. This year my theme is surrendering my writing pen to the true author, Jesus Christ, while looking forward to the future, reflecting on the past and dancing through my journey.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Bring Literature to LIfe

I love the My Garden book...just tooooooooooooooo many treasures.
Home schooling my children has given me the advantage of allowing schedules to change things as I educate according to what is happening or the season around us.  An art exhibit might mean we do a study on the artist, their country or try our hand at the artist's medium and explore their original art at the museum.  I have to admit that each of these "sidetracked" units will just pump new excitement into me!

This past week we had  warm weather...in the 80's.  Spring is calling us in February.  Our older son also hit the baseball field...yes, I am a sports mom, now in her 21st year of children playing sports.  I have at least earned a stadium seat don't you think? The week just yelled "time to play in the dirt, either baseball or gardening."  Since we now have a new yard, which provides us room for a larger garden, Benjamin and I took our education on an outdoor adventure.

 Literature ushered in our passion for exploration, ignited by the reading of Winnie Finn, Worm Farmer, which led us to the store for supplies for a worm farm.  Benjamin would become a farmer!  Laughingly, I purchased cow manure, a by-product, that in my youth, we shoveled into my Dad's truck for free from our grandfather's farm.  Science would be explored as we examined the anatomy of a worm. Personification was enjoyed through the reading of Diary of a Worm.

I couldn't help but throw in one of my all-time favorites, Beatrix Potter.  When Benjamin was born, I added even more of her books with Benjamin Bunny.  Benjamin set laughing and giggling through the DVD, Beatrix Potter, The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends.  I have read these stories to him through the years and this wonderfully animated DVD just brought the characters to life.  We now had a vision for our garden.  Thank you, Mister McGregor.  We also decided we would make a scarecrow.  Do we really need one? No, but that would just add more delight to our garden patch.

Growing Vegetable Soup allowed us to dream about the fruit of our labor.  Dirt under my fingernails reminded me I would need to forgo having long fingernails this season.  I am more of a "use-the-hands forget the gloves" girl.  Sharon Lovejoy's Sunflower Houses continue to add fuel of inspiration.  Her books and Beatrix Potter also begged us to explore with pastel colors for our art lesson.  I think our unit will continue to expand this week as the weather man forecast sun with slightly cooler weather in the 70's.

Our creative "sidetrack" allowed Mom a chance to enjoy the warm spring weather, while establishing our first garden of vegetables and flowers in our new yard.  Books coming to life was our inspiration.

What is inspiring you right now?

Just in case it looks like I am totally new to this gardening adventure....here are some of our adult children in our garden adventure when they were young.  Gardening stopped when sports for all four began to dominate.

Three of our five sons...the oldest are now 28, 25 and 23....and doesn't their Dad look young?  Where did time go?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Make My Meal More Colorful

Since this is the year of eating more greens, I wanted to stop and say I am not a color snob.

Today's post is to welcome other colors and boost up any dish with health benefits.  My newest favorite addition to our dishes is the pepper.  I have been buying a bag of what they call small sweet peppers.  The colors are just great.  My decorating genes are delighted to add more color to our meals.  Of course, spring will bring us even more color for our consumption...berries, watermelon, peaches...oh my!

Just a dab of butter before going into the oven to cook.  Wonderful and refreshing.

The health benefits of these little colorful giants are recorded on this site -

Roasted broccoli with garlic and sweet peppers in a cast iron skillet.
How easy we can make new habits and enjoy new adventures in the kitchen.  

Hummus with Roasted Peppers

2 cups of chickpeas (I slow cooked a full bag of dried chickpeas and had plenty for a couple of recipes for just over a dollar)
5 - roasted peppers - I grilled them myself, after taking out the seeds
2 cloves of garlic
1/3 cup of tahini or sesame oil
6 Tbs. of lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all in food processor.  I love this on chips or crackers...but healthier choices would be to use vegs.

No this is not becoming a food blog....but since that is a focus in my life this year, I will be sharing what I have learned.

Are you having fun in the kitchen this year?  Sometimes we just need to add a new spice and cooking becomes fresh and exciting again. After 32 years of marriage cooking, it was time for some refreshing.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Diamonds to Dots

There comes a time when you just have to step your big toe across the line.

For this "follow-the-rules" girl, who even follows all those unspoken rules, just thinking about stepping my big toe across even an imaginary line....well it pushes my comfort zone.

So began my adventure on transforming my laundry room. One of those unfulfilled "to do" creative ventures on my January list.

Back when I began cleaning and decorating our house Sonja coined the phrase for me
Janette's Diamonds on a Dime.
Well I have exchanged the diamonds for dots this time.

Who says you can't paint a washer and dryer?
Who made us think we just had to keep those ugly, yet wonderfully working appliances, so boring?
Now I do know some are beautiful now days...but mine are plain and  still in good working order.  I even posted once on how we fixed the dryer through visiting You Tube.

I started to see dots and words!

Well I am still working on my laundry room...so far I am having fun. I am bringing in my kitchen colors of turquoise and red.
One teenage boy came through the house and said, "Mrs. Wright, do you know someone has graffitied your washer and dryer?  Now Benjamin did help out with his happy face, which my Ethel told me not to cover up.

Is it time for you to step your big toe across some imaginary line?  Why Not?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Two Car Day

We all have had them.  You know.  The day that you need at least two cars to get everyone to their desired destinations and hopefully on time.

Well, so was the case on Friday. School schedule had changed from early-morning basketball boy to afternoon baseball practice, which allows him to sleep in later. However, Benjamin still has school north of town on Mondays and Fridays.  Usually this wouldn't be a problem. I would take one, while hubby took the other and both would arrive on time.

Hubby had a meeting on Friday, eliminating one driver and one car, so I had to recruit someone.  The best choice was "Sissy".  Now "Sissy" is the most popular member of the family.  Benjamin made "Sissy" a Valentine's card at school instead of me!  So, I called upon "Sissy" to help deliver one of the two to school.

Sissy was to meet me at a certain destination "ON TIME" so I could drop off Benjamin, while I proceeded to swing around to retrieve teen baseball boy.  Now she has one of those phones that does everything...except answer itself.  So as I arrived but didn't see her car, I started calling......and calling.....and calling.....and isn't it funny how they never ignore their phones except when a parent calls?  NO ANSWER.... we were going to be late!

I called back home to inform teen boy that he would have to walk to school.

"Mom, it is raining!" was his horrified reply.  I mean, it isn't like it was hard rain, or that his mother had ever let him down, but I couldn't be in two places at once.

In the middle of this, I started driving toward Benjamin's school, while continuing to call Sissy!

Finally, an answer.  Sissy jumped out of bed and met me to take Benjamin.  As we were transferring him to her car I saw it!

I burst out laughing!

His shirt was on backwards.  Not the backwards that couldn't be noticed.  OH, NO! The graphics were on the back...it was definitely on backwards.  I just kept laughing as I asked for Sissy to get it turned around before she walked him to class.

During pouring rain, I turned my car around in haste to get baseball boy before he started his walk to school.  In the "Super Mom" mode that we all have had to put on, I pulled up to get him with only a few minutes left.

He arrived on time...and he was dry.

All day I giggled to myself.  Thank you, Lord....and  NO, I am NOT the MOTHER with her ACT TOGETHER!!!

So if you pass a little boy in the store and his boots are on the wrong feet and shirt on backwards....please give that poor mom a break!  Who knows, she might have needed two cars and only one was available...she might be having one of those days!  Give her a smile of understanding!  Haven't we all been there?.

Have an Awesome Weekend.

Monday, February 13, 2012

My Heart Grew and Grew

Most of us remember the cartoon each Christmas (for those with TV's and who watch Christmas specials) or read Dr. Seuss's book, where the Grinch's heart was measured to reveal it was three sizes too small.  Through a series of events, his heart grew and grew... so was the month of January for me, a month of heart expansion.

You couldn't see it enlarge, as was revealed in the Grinch's heart, but if there is ever a way to feel it, I felt my heart grow.  It expanded through tears.  I am sure hearts grow (an illustration here, not factual), through loving events, but this past month that love came through pain.  Losses became a daily event.  Hospital stays for our parents, funerals, diagnoses given to friends and neighbors of cancer, financial struggles, operations and unanswered questions to health issues.  Each time I had a choice to let my heart swell in tenderness and compassion, or shrug my shoulders with the sentiment that this is life.

God wanted to enlarge my heart. He wanted my compassion to grow. He needs His Body to be able to tenderly extend caring hands to a hurting world and to each other in the Body of Christ.

I found myself hurting...a good hurt.  I thought of Jesus as he wept when he reached the grave of Lazarus and yet, He knew He would raise him from the dead. He still entered the grief of those experiencing the pain of loss. God's promises are still true for each report we heard.  God is still sovereign, but for me to turn away a tear and not enter into their grief would not reflect the heart of my God.

During the month of "heart expansion," I was reading The Allure of Hope, God's Pursuit of a Woman's Heart, by Jan Meyers.  NO! I didn't pick this book out because I knew in advance God was going to develop my heart. NO! the events didn't turn me to this book....past events led me to the book. I thought I was reading because of the trials I had experienced. Yet, I was also reading for the trials those around me would be facing as well.

In her book, she talks about the alleyways of our life.  Here we can come out bitter or be used by God to reflect a beauty the world can't give us.  Here is where we learn compassion or withdrawal to ourselves.

Being fully alive for others in the alleyway is being who Jesus was for us, a servant.  And the most radiant service flows from our deepest place of need. 

When a woman's heart rests in the truth that the only thing left in the alleyway is to love others, then she lives from the allure of hope.  And this comes only after a deep acknowledgement that God must find her and must love her in spite of herself.

It means Jesus calls us to give of our hearts in ways we can't . - Jan Meyers 

"Put your hand into my wounds," said the risen Jesus to Thomas, " and you will know who I am."  The wounds of Christ are his identity.  They tell us who he is. He did not lose them....If sympathy for the world's wounds is not enlarged by our anguish, if love for those around us is not expanded, if gratitude for what is good does not flame up, if insight is not deepened, if commitment to what is important is not strengthened, if aching for a new day is not intensified, if hope is weakened and faith diminished, if from the experiences of death comes nothing good, then death has won." - Wolterstorff

I can truly confess I don't understand all that this expanded heart means.  God is still chiseling away at this each day through His word and through other readings He has directed me to absorb.  I do know that I want to allow my heart to expand. I don't want my "alleyway" experiences to leave me on the sideline of the work God intended to be the fruit of those experiences.

So as we all enjoy sharing heart candy, wonderful loving cards, red and white, beautifully decorated tables and nights out with our Knight in Shining Armor....I am rejoicing in the expansion of my Heart.

Happy Valentine's Day to all!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Eviction Notice to My Clothes

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That was it!  If I am going to worry about what I put into my body, as well as, exercise my buns off....then that is it!  It was time to give my clothes' closet an eviction notice.

After our move in July I just threw....yes, that is the correct term.. threw my less than desirable clothes into my new closet.  I wasn't interested in organizing anything, so they got tossed into place and my shoes in a pile on the floor.

The new year began and evey blog in blogland was giving out information on organization...not one of my strengths or passions.  One suggestion that stuck with me came in a question, "What If?"  I don't remember all the tips, but what I got out of the post was, What if I only kept clothes in my closet that I loved? What if I removed all those "one day" clothes that only remind me I haven't been to the opera in years?  What if I only kept clothes that made me feel pretty?  What if I had the courage to dispose of all those "frumpy" clothes that only make me feel fat?  What if I only kept jeans that were flattering?

My self-talk marched my willing body into the closet of dreaded clothes.  I pictured Mary Poppins as she cleaned the room with clothes dancing to her command.

"Hit the road Jack and don't you come back no more, no more, no more....hit the road Jack", well not a Mary Poppin's song, but one that commanded obedience.  Each garment seen in countless pictures for over a decade...good bye!   Every garment that only covered my body, but didn't put a skip in my step....so long!

Yes, that means my closet rods lifted as the weight of "less than desirable" pieces of clothing were flung into a heaping pile. Now the floor only holds shoes that are comfortable, stylish and not worn out.

I did take a tip I had heard and put it into action.  Put your clothes on the rod with the hanger hanging backwards.  As you wear the garment return them with the hanger going the right way.  At the end of a year you will see what you didn't wear all year....add those to your donation box.

Now I look into my closet...everything is color coordinated, winter clothes separated from spring and summer....many combinations can be seen.

JEANS!!!!!!!! That was the biggest hurdle. I had a couple of pairs of nice jeans...now nice is an oxymoron when it comes to jeans, now days "nice" jeans mean you spent a bank load of dollars, and they usually have holes in them or rind-stones on the bottom....I mean, jeans that make me look slimmer and don't have holes or glittering bottoms.  For some reason I felt I had to save them for special occasion...not anymore, I got rid of the worn-out, less than flattering jeans and decided to wear the "nice" jeans every day.

I am satisfied...even though my choices are limited, it allows me to dress each day with more "spunk" and since "spunk" is one of my words, I feel I have moved one more step forward.

Are you hanging onto clothes you don't especially like? If so, why?  It's a New Year!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Skinny on Green

I am forewarning you! This maybe more information on Green than you want...so enter slowly.

Back in the spring (the beginning of the green season of the year) Debbie of Wagon on Wheels gave out her green smoothie recipe.  Since I am usually a regular consumer of greens (salads are regular for me, or as my daughter-in-law says, rabbit food) it became very easy to add more green to our diet with green smoothies.  I was doing great with this new information when my teen son broke my blender and slowed down the smoothie-making factory. Spring just yells....."eat green", while winter seems more like comfort food.

Since buying baby leaf spinach in bags at the grocery store is very convenient, it has become a staple in my grocery cart... but not on the week prior to my doctor visit.  We eat it in salads, smoothies and I drop it into soups, casseroles, lasagna and even roast spinach.  I was defending myself before the doctor with my appeal of how much spinach and greens I usually put in our diet when she informed me to rarely eat spinach raw... instead to eat it cooked.

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Well, I am one of those who rarely takes anyone's knowledge and makes it my own without investigation.

Like most information you research on the internet or books, you can find two sides to every story.

Here is some great information:

http://www.livestrong.com/article/497467-nutritional-value-of-fresh-vs-cooked-spinach/ - cooked -vs-raw

http://www.livestrong.com/article/476539-what-are-the-benefits-of-green-smoothies-for-weight-loss/ - benefits of green smoothies

Since I like raw spinach the best, I will continue to add it to our diet, while also venturing out to find ways to add cooked spinach, too.  It seems that we can gain a lot of nutritional value in cooked spinach...so here we go, Popeye!

This year, I am also making homemade hummus (dried chickpeas are cheap) and adding quinoa to our diet.  I enjoy new adventures and cooking can get old unless you add some new twists. This year, my new twists will not only be more creative, but creative through enhancing our variety with healthier choices.  I am enjoying learning through Pinterest, which is very inspirational in many areas.

This week GREEN meant there was enough GREEN in the bank to go buy some raw GREEN, and for that I am just tickled GREEN....thank you, God.

In 2012, what new foods are you adding to your table or taking away from it?

Adding new foods and eating healthier makes my Sally List...joining My Place to Yours

Monday, February 6, 2012

Second Time Around is Always Better

Let's just go around that tree one more time...maybe things will change.  They did!

Off to the doctor, again, for verification of my clean bill of health.  I took all my notes...all my journaling of my blood pressure, what I ate, my exercise and sleep.  Even with all the proof, my blood pressure still skyrocketed, but I didn't waver and bounced into the room for my final exam.

She started down the check list...good, good, good!!!  Then with excitement in her voice, "you lost four pounds in two weeks!"  "Okay, lets see what is going on here...something isn't quite right", she mumbled to herself.  I felt she was questioning my recording.  She gently started to discuss my diet.   I thought I had been good. I was so cautious of what I ate because I had to record it and turn it in...you know like school!!! I hadn't cheated on the test, and it had been a very stressful week, which was apparent in my food selection.

The enemy of my weight and possible blood pressure is an All Time TEXAS favorite.
I had been honest and told her these are my weakness. Now if you need to de-stress, isn't this the answer...chips and salsa?   Why couldn't  I just said, "get behind me Satan" and move on.  Each bite is increasing my waist line and the salt is not good for blood pressure.

My diet showed too much of this also...more comfort food.

Yes the dreaded carbs.  She smiled, "now you can have one, but not two at a meal!  Did you hear me say you don't have to give up tostadas?"  I nodded.  Just don't eat too many and don't eat them at night.

"Janette, do you see that you are skipping meals?"  I nodded like a student in elementary school.  "Okay, if you skip meals you get fat", she grinned. Well the scales has testified to that fact.  "Please eat three meals.  You have also left out a very important food group. I don't see it at all in five days.", she encouraged.  She was showing me the way to better health and a skinner body.  My week had been chaotic and I hadn't put salads on the table, not like me, but I still am not eating enough of this wonderful anti-cancerous, blood pressure lowering food group.

"Add these to your diet...and I would prefer for them to be at night.  You need your greens.  Now don't eat too much spinach raw...it is better for you cooked."  Oh I didn't know that one, I was only eating it raw. She explained why and that most vegetable are better raw.

I kept thanking her for making me keep the journal, therefore, opening my eyes to something I just didn't want to see.  She continued my check-up and then we talked.  Yes we talked.

She said, "thanks for telling me thank-you and that I am being helpful.  I want to see you healthy.  Remember I am the one that has to give so much bad news to people, and it is so nice to not have to.  I am grateful you appreciate it.  Let's keep you healthy, let's keep the blood pressure down, and let's get you to losing weight."

As we discussed my mood swings each month she suggested chaste tree...an herb, not a drug.  She then giggled, "now there is one side affect" as she placed her hand on my knee, "it will make you fertile."  I laughed out loud reminding her of my age and even my husband's age, as if she didn't know.  Since I know the story of Abraham and Sarah, and so does she, she is a Jew, I don't plan on seeing it happen again this side of the Bible.  So she reminded me to be careful...which just made my husband laugh.  Cautious we will be....our grown kids would die!!! Funny, I really think it is funny, that in reality that would truly be a miracle. I am not for calling God's blessings (children) a curse, but we will also use wisdom.

So my husband has a new adventure ahead.  His wife is going to loose her moodiness and weight.  Sounds like a time for a planned "second" honeymoon, don't you think???  Are you eating enough greens?  Since some are picking colors for the year, maybe mine should be green!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Heart Lifting Day!

Our creator is never late on encouraging us.  His timing is impeccable and the love through His Body  (his people) is beyond words.

So was the case yesterday.

Waiting news on our daughter-in-law's surgery...three and half hour surgery...while also finishing up touches for a dessert auction, I felt God look down with sunshine on me.  What form did this sunshine warm up my tired, anxious and weary spirit?  The sunshine came in a box.

Yes, I had won the give-away at Debbie's of The Way We Are but had no idea when it would come or what it would contain.  I love Debbie... there isn't anything not to love and be encouraged by.  I visit her with each post she puts up...and her saying that I love, "it is the way it is."  As I lifted my head from prayer for my daughter-in-law and son, the doorbell rang.  Anxious, excited feet went skipping down the stairs... two pairs... Benjamin and mine.  Eagerly we picked up a package addressed to me...no return address.

In the kitchen, we went to pull out this wonderfully wrapped box!  Who is it from?  What is it?  Wrapped packages bring out the kid in all us.

As we opened it, both Benjamin and I squealed...yes, that is what we did and we ooooohed and aaaaahed.  Looking at my goodies!!  I could feel my spirit lift. I could feel a hug from states away, giving me courage to continue my day...a program was still ahead...a call from the finished surgery still hadn't arrived.

The call came later in the afternoon.  Our daughter-in-law's surgery brought great hope.  Our son had also walked through waiting on his wife all that time...surrendering her to the Lord. I think we forget that men have feelings, too.  I am so proud of them both.  She awaits a pregnancy... he stands in support and hope (thanks for all the thoughtful prayers).

I took the apron with me to the school dessert auction.  The auction went off without a hitch...God was faithful, even though the enemy had tried to steal my joy during the event...he was defeated.

So I stand amazed, once again, at how God is in the little things, as well as the Big details of our life.  This time it came in a box.  May I remember that as I look to encourage others. I should allow God to direct the timing.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I Made It - Just Five Years Late

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Okay, okay....I got there!  Why aren't there any cheers...I mean come on?!?!?!  It may have been five years since my visit, but can't you congratulate me for my arrival?

Can't you say, "Janette it is so good to see your healthy smiling face.  We see you haven't graced us with your presence in over five years, and even your last visit was to inform you that you were healthy.  We are so glad your visit today is to further confirm that there hasn't been any body snatchers in the last 1/2 decade.  First, we want to congratulate you on living a healthy lifestyle which allowed you to avoid our office.  We see you haven't been on any prescriptions...that is good!  You aren't on any over-the-counter drugs either...that is good.  You haven't had a drastic weight change...just up 8 ounces, although I know you were wanting to lose some, you still have stayed steady.  You are able to walk, talk, eat and see (even if you now need readers)...you are doing well.  Over all, Janette, we are encouraged by  your empty folder and lack of need for our services.  So today we thank-you for allowing us to validate your bill of health."

Now wouldn't that have been more pleasant?  Instead the nurse looks up at me like I am from a foreign planet to inform me that it hadn't been only three years it had been five!!  Now what can I say, "oh I was living life!"

So with her very calm, but irritating remark, she placed the blood pressure cup around my arm.  Now can you guess the results?

YES, I have white-coat-blood-pressure...which means my blood pressure normally runs around 117/75 until I am escorted into a doctor's office...at which time my blood pressure has a mind of its own.  My own mind is saying, "calm down, calm down it won't happen this time, you aren't even anxious!"  So much for self talk...the machine spits out my need for a return visit....154/80!!!

Yes, after my doctor, who doesn't wear a white coat, step back with concerned eyes over my blood pressure she informed me I was to keep a five day journal to prove my "white-coat" blood pressure....well I felt the blood pressure rise again.  Who has time to journal all this....my blood pressure, how much I sleep, what I eat and my exercising?

I have been obedient and will return this Friday for documented verification that I am still living!  Substantiate my days has been good for me...it has motivated me to stay on target of my goals for the year. I have even lost a four pounds.

So I can check off one of my task for the month of January...done!! Now to get going on painting that laundry room that I was side-tracked from while keeping a health journal and making sure I get in my girlfriend weekend on the calendar.
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