Thursday, June 14, 2012

Stupidly Brave

I don't mean the "jump off a roof because I think I can fly" kind of stupid bravery, or the "charge into battle ahead of everyone" kind of brave stupidity. I'm talking about being stupidly brave in my love for others.  

I read a blog by Chad Estes.  His posts are always insightful, thought-provoking, and often brutally honest.  The latest post I read is about his friend Tim Kurek and Tim's fight against his own prejudice.  After Tim's beliefs about homosexuality were challenged, he felt God lead him to a radical, life-changing declaration.  While I don't know if I agree with his methodology, I challenge you to read his story and not walk away incited to more fully love the people around you.

Lately I have found myself in some increasingly difficult, (situations? places? relationships? can I just say life?), where it would be ever so easy to let my sarcasm take over to deflect the icky parts.  The people it would be easier to not deal with, the situations with no clear path, the decisions with no real "right" answer, the conversations with no happy ending. 

Reading Tim's story has reminded me that God only calls me to say "yes" to Him.  To care for the people I would rather not deal with, to follow the path that benefits the most people, to make the decisions that protect others, to carefully consider the conversations.

To open my heart and be stupidly brave in my love for others.

~ Liz

Monday, June 11, 2012

Living Intentionally

To live with intention.  To be proactive rather than reactive.  

I'm not a natural planner, more of a "wing and a prayer" type, so my last few months of attempting to plan, be proactive and get organized have been a series of hits and misses.  Made some routine checklists, but have only  been slightly effective at implementing them. (Mostly a miss.)  Tracking what I eat and how much I exercise, every day! (Hit! Yay!)  Writing a budget, coming close to sticking to it. (Mostly a hit!)  Keeping my kitchen, bathroom and living room de-cluttered, well, the bathroom is clean. (Half and half.) Finishing my to-do list for promotion at work, every day! (Another hit, Whoop!)

Even though I've made some good progress, I find it so easy to get derailed and disheartened by the things I haven't yet succeeded at.  Thankfully, I have some amazing people in my life to keep me moving and motivated!  My best friend recently relayed a story to me from a blog she had read.  The woman in the blog talked about how she didn't like who she was, (prior to a weight-loss), and that now she knows who she is and likes herself.  Both my best friend and I are on a quest to be healthier people.  Losing weight is a nice side-effect, but we both just want long, healthy and happy lives.  

I like who I am, and even if I stayed at this weight, this level of organization, unable to quite stick to a budget or keep my house clean, I will still love myself.  My goal to be more proactive, organized and healthy isn't going to be measured solely in quantifiable ways, but in the added enjoyment I find from having an extra hour from my planning to spend with my daughter, or an extra $20 for a trip to the zoo, the extra energy I have to play outside with my family from eating healthy and exercising.

~ Liz

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sweet Potato Pie

It's always sounded sort of yummy to me, but I am typically not enamored of Southern cooking.

Enter my darling Matt, who took me out to the Delta Cafe and Bar in Portland, OR.

I am suddenly in LOVE with Southern food, and my interest in Sweet Potato Pie is renewed.

Given the opportunity, when I am stressed, I cook.  It doesn't matter so much what it is, as long as it's for someone else.  I've had a lot to be stressed about this week.  Well, maybe the last few weeks, or months.  It all hit me as much too hard to deal with yesterday.  An open to close shift and too many days in a row at work, lots of the little "things" that get in the way of life, and to top it off, a mass text from my dad notifying me that my grandma was headed for an emergency surgery.  Prognosis?  Not good.  Likely that either the surgery would kill her, or the infection would.  No option to leave work, so I needed something to focus on so I wouldn't cry. Unfortunately work was slow, painfully so.  So I baked.

Started out with the crust.  Making it by hand takes focus and hard work, good for time spent thinking, or not thinking, whichever you choose.

In a large mixing bowl, combine approximately 5 cups white flour,
                                                                       1 pound real butter, (softened)
                                                                       1/2 cup white sugar,
                                                                       2 teaspoons salt
Mixture will be dry, but hold together if squeezed hard. Works best if you mix with clean hands,
or a fork, otherwise you over-manipulate it.  If it's not dry, add more flour, a little at a time.

Slowly sprinkle water, one teaspoon at a time, over the mixture until you can form a large ball.
It will still be dry, and will break apart rather than stretch apart if you try to split it.

On a well-floured surface, roll it out to the desired size and thickness.  I suggest a quarter inch
thickness, as this crust is really yummy (think butter shortbread), and will add another flavor
dimension to whatever you use it for.

Bake at 350 degrees for about ten minutes, or until light golden brown.  Remove from the oven
fill with your favorite pie filling.  You don't need to worry about foiling the edges of this crust,
unless your pie of choice requires over an hour of baking time.

Then I made the filling.  Never having made Sweet Potato Pie, (and I haven't a clue why I continue to capitalize the term...), it was an experiment, and luckily, one that turned out quite successfully.

In a large mixing bowl, cream approximately 2 pounds baked sweet potato,
                                                                   1 pound real butter, (softened)
                                                                   1 cup white sugar,
                                                                   1 cup brown sugar,
                                                                   2 tablespoons ground cinnamon,
                                                                   1 tablespoon ground nutmeg,
                                                                   1 teaspoon Anaheim chili powder

Once mixture is smooth and well incorporated, add 4 eggs, mixing well after adding each egg.

Pour into pie crust and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the
center comes out nearly clean.  This Sweet Potato Pie filling rises akin to a souffle, but will settle
a bit as it cools.  Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whip cream, or just eat on its own.

I doubt that this will pass muster if any of you reading are a true Southern chef, but it made a passable pie, tasted amazing, and the primary ingredient was sweet potatoes, so I'm calling it Sweet Potato Pie.

Some of you can attest to the means by which I cook and bake, so the measurements listed above are my best approximations.  You should get an incredibly yummy pie out of the deal, but if my measurements fail you, let me know.  I'll make it again and pay more attention to the amounts needed.

Oh, and I got a Christmas miracle a bit early, my grandma came through her surgery and off the ventilator sooner than anyone thought she would.  She's in pain, and still sick, but lucid and alert.  Thank you for the thoughts and prayers.


PS ~  Pie filling recipe makes enough for two 9 inch pies.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Nanny Nightmare

How in the world is a middle-income family supposed to pay for childcare?  No matter how I arrange the numbers, it always comes down to either eating, or paying for daycare.  We make "too much" money to qualify for state-funded daycare or assistance programs, and the cheap daycare centers are scary!

So far we've resorted to juggling family members and the occasional unlicensed nanny, but that juggling act causes no end of stress.  And now that both Johnny and I's schedules have changed, the availability of the sitters we did have doesn't match our current needs.

I'd love to do some sort of childcare exchange, but I work so many hours it's hardly plausible, I feel awful always asking a friend to watch Caelan for free, and I feel even worse about the pitiful amount of money I'm able to offer even an occasional babysitter.

Waking up every night from the same nanny nightmare is no fun at all.

Until I find a solution....


PS ~ Christina McGee!  Get your rear in gear and move back to Washington!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pretty, Pretty Pictures

Finally put some of Caelan's photos in frames today.  Went to hang them up and discovered that there are no hanging apparatus on these particular frames...   So now I just have stacks of framed photos on my table.  Not enough surfaces to place them all, so I think I'll be purchasing some museum putty or something to that effect. 

If you are looking to get photos taken of your little one or family, I highly recommend Deb Rumpza Photography.  (Email me for contact info.)  The day of the shoot, Caelan was extra contrary.  She didn't want to wear the outfits I brought, she didn't want to smile, she didn't want to hold the green parasol, she didn't want me to do her hair, and on and on.  Deb managed to capture every bit of attitude and nuanced expression; her photos are a perfect snapshot of Caelan, and she got her to smile!  I cannot wait to have her do some family portraits.  These are a few of my favorites, but it is hard to choose, they all are amazing!

More tomorrow :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Salted Caramel Popcorn

Well I've been horridly neglectful of my blog lately, but I'm turning over a new leaf.  Once a day, new habit to form :)

In a sort of reverse honor of the "Game on" inspiration for my new habit, here is my newly developed Salted Caramel Popcorn recipe.

    8oz Real Butter
    1.5lbs Light Brown Sugar
    1/4 cup 2% Milk
    1-3.5oz bag Microwave Popcorn, your favorite variety will do
    Sea Salt

Butter a sheet of parchment paper and sprinkle with sea salt, set aside.  In a medium saucepan, melt butter.  Add brown sugar and bring to a boil.  While waiting for it to come to a boil, pop corn, and put off to the side in a large bowl.  Once butter and sugar mixture is boiling, add milk.  Boil until caramel hits soft ball stage.  Mixing after each addition, pour caramel over popcorn in small amounts until all popcorn is evenly coated.  Spread popcorn over buttered and salted parchment paper in a thin, even layer.  Let come to room temperature and ENJOY!

  Another installment coming tomorrow :)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Frugal Papercrafting

Unless you've been living under a rock, you probably have felt the effects of the down economy this past year. And if you scrapbook, make cards or other papercrafts, you KNOW what an expensive hobby it can be! It can be overwhelming to walk into a craft store on a budget and try to walk out with everything you need for your project without breaking that budget.
Here is a recipe for a 12x12 twenty page scrapbook album that is so gorgeous, no one will believe you only spent $20!!
"Claire"* 12x12 Paper Pad (24pgs) $9.99
"Claire"* Designer Brads $3.99
"Claire"* Diecut Designs $2.99
5 sheets Gray Cardstock $1.25
5 sheets Cream Cardstock $1.25
1 sheet Chocolate Cardstock $0.25
TOTAL $19.72
Now I'm assuming that you already own adhesive, a paper trimmer, and archival pens, so their cost isn't figured in to the above supplies, but you will need them to make this project!
Buying supplies that are specifically created to coordinate will save you time and money. How often have you come home from the craft store with what you thought were the perfect red rhinestones, only to discover that they are three shades different from your cardstock? When you buy products from the same line, you are guaranteed they will compliment each other.
The trick to using only the above supplies to create the following beautiful twenty pages is to cut frugally and SAVE your scraps! I essentially used every square inch of each piece of paper by the time I was finished.
Take a look at the slide show below; all twenty pages created for ONLY $20!

*"Claire" is one of SEI's current paper lines. If you are interested in purchasing the products depicted or any other SEI products, please let me know!
~ Liz

Monday, December 22, 2008

Snowy Photos

Here are some photos of my little goofball and her first time in the snow:

And this one couldn't be ignored either, the little Christmas elf:

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Coveting for Christmas...

So really, I'm not all about the gifts for Christmas. I like to make the gifts I give when I can, and don't like buying pointless "wants" for others. However, I have found a few things recently that I may be coveting, just a bit.

Fire Engine Red is my favorite color, but Oranges of all shades come a close second, so I may actually have drooled a bit when I came across this gorgeous Ginger Twisted Scarf by the fabulous female of UrbanKnit. She's based in London, so we have a passing "tweet" acquaintance. And I truly mean *passing.* As I'm heading off to bed and bidding all "good night," she hops online and says "morning!" And so we have short little chats about what have you, and I go into her shop and fall in love with all of the beautiful knits she creates. Take a look:

Since we've been accumulating snow at record rates over the last week, I have begun to realize that I am severely lacking in the area of my closet dedicated to warm coats, sweaters and such. This discovery prompted me to find not only the gorgeous scarf above, but also this incredible, classic redingote. Vigilante Labs creates some fantastic clothes, some that appeal to the superhero in us all, and each and every piece is absolutely artful! This coat though, now this I could flaunt:

Check out Vigilante Labs other amazing, unique work at:

And then there are Jenifer Glagowski's Cairn Pendants. I want one, (or two!), in every color! I'm not entirely sure what it is about these pendants that I just adore, but they appeal to the outdoorsy, primitive girl inside of me, who only comes out occasionally. Many of my best memories from highschool involve a crazy, cold, injurious, did I say crazy? backpacking trip. We came across many cairns during the trip, and though remniscient, Jenifer's pendants are by far the more fabulous! You can see them all at:

That's all for the moment, I'll post snow pictures tomorrow. For now, it's time for me to go finish Christmas gifts! I only have two more days!

~ Liz

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A bit of randomness

Ingrid Michaelsson is an incredible performer! My best friend and I went to her concert on Monday, and had an amazing time :) She truly knows how to flow with and connect with her crowd, taking a few requests, involving people in announcing the next song, having a bit of a sing-along; it was great! She has such a beautiful voice, you should go listen to her:

I swear my cell phone bill keeps getting higher and higher even though we haven't added any services or gone over our minutes at all. Joys of an economic downturn...

My first show was a small success. The show itself was not something I will ever do again, as it was poorly organized, even more poorly advertised and although full of wonderfully nice people, I don't think more than 60 people walked through the booths who were not also selling a product at the fair. Hardly worth the time and effort, although I did make a few sales and made a few new connections. Hopefully the next one will be a better use of my time.