December 6, 2012

Christmas 2012: Gate to Inspiration

In the springtime, we tore out our fenced vegetable garden to expand and visually tidy up the backyard.  The garden was moved to more manageable, newly-built raised beds on the street side of the property.  Having become utterly inamoured with the rustic gate with its chipped paint and rusty metal, I didn’t want to part with it.  My plan was to utilize it as a charming front gate.  In my imagination, it was an adorable solution.  In reality, it didn’t work.

Inspired by Christmas decor from reclaimed lumber on Etsy and Pinterest, I pulled out my garden scraps (somehow I managed to salvage despite the opposition).  My former garden gifted me with free wood for my projects, and the humble  garden gate has been transformed into my favorite decoration this Christmas.


With a few nails and a string of white lights, the old gate is now center stage.  It gives me such joy and it is a fitting metaphor for this season of life.  Like my gate, this year has left me questioning and displaced…

Imagine the poor little gate who had faithfully guarded the garden opening day and night, season after season.  He had a purpose and a function.  Sometimes when bunnies came to visit, he was appreciated, but often he wasn’t noticed at all.  He didn’t mind – in his heart, he knew his place.  One day, he was roughly torn out and the entire fence dismantled.  Thrown into a pile of lumber, he wondered if he what would become of him.  How difficult it was just to lay there and not serve a purpose.  Would he ever have purpose again?  If he didn’t have purpose, did he still have value?  He looked at his peeling paint worn by time spent guarding his post – would his contribution to the garden be remembered?  No longer connected to the fence, he felt very alone.

The gate heard rumors about being moved and disagreements over his value.  “The old thing should just go to the dump.”  “But, I think it’s beautiful – look at the pretty paint colors.”  “It’s a peeling piece of junk.”  “It’s a work of art.”  Some how the garden gate managed to avoid the dreaded dump, but still he laid in a heap on the lumber pile.  Sometimes, the adventurous boys would lived in the yard would pull him out as part of their play.  During a temporary post as a soccer goal or a play fort, he cried to himself, “I was created to be a garden gate – will I ever serve a noble purpose again.”

The long, laziness of summer gave way to short and crisp autumn days.  The gate felt ugly and broken.  He finally gave up and awaited the inevitable white burial of his hopes and dreams.  As his last hope dimmed in the low winter light, a young boy dragged him from the pile and brought him inside the house to his mother.  The gate had never been inside nor even dreamed it was a place he should be or could be.  A little embarrassed by the praises of the mother, the humble gate was cleaned and sanded.  Around his new nails a string of white lights was wrapped in the shape of a star.  When he was lit, the garden gate didn’t even recognize himself – he was transformed!

Placed on a shelf in the living room, the simple gate was given a new purpose – to shine.  No longer part of a useful garden, he now was a cherished piece of art lighting up the entire room.  The gate served to remind those inside the little house of an ancient star that guided hearts to a more Ancient Light whose powerful illumination changed history and transforms lives today.  What joy filled his heart as he stood tall in his new post!  In his wildest hopes and dreams, he never would have thought, a simple and utilitarian garden garden, would ever be given such an honor position.

The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow, a light has shined. Matthew 4:16

May this inspire you to see the old in a new light, to bring the forgotten and neglected center stage, and to find beauty among the broken.  Whether it’s old boards or old dreams or a calling on hold, I pray the transforming beauty of God’s love and the JOY of the Christmas season will inspire you and change you forever.

Those who live at the ends of the earth stand in awe of your wonders. From where the sun rises to where it sets, you inspire shouts of JOY. (my emphasis) Psalm 65:8

July 21, 2011

Neglected Blog

A little neglect may breed great mischief. – Benjamin Franklin

More business is lost every year through neglect than through any other cause. – Rose Kennedy

A man should never neglect his family for business. – Walt Disney

My blog is suffering from wanton neglect – even my daffodils seem to be wilting…

When making your choice in life, do not neglect to live. – Samuel Johnson

Well, at least, I can say I’ve been living:)

Gloria Dei vivens homo. (The glory of God is man fully alive.) – St. Irenaeus

Whether a dainty cupcake, a massive painting, a mini-mermaid tail or a woolly pair of socks – when I create, I am fully alive!

Magic bubble wands and fluffy tulle – that’s what little girls are made of!

The foundation of my hamburger cake design…

My booth at the Strawberry Festival…

And, my painting…

Sadly, I’ve a neglected blog.  On the flip side, I’m feeling ALIVE!

Do not neglect the spiritual gift you received through the prophecy spoken over you when the elders of the church laid their hands on you. 1 Timothy 4:14

June 22, 2011

And, Pink…

A pink tutu, too too…

Sewing and even speaking in duplicate right now:)

Since I was so sure of your understanding and trust, I wanted to give you a double blessing by visiting you twice… 2 Corinthians 1:15

June 17, 2011

Strawberry Tutu Cute!

Turning out tutus and other strawberry stuff…

Strawberry Shortcake makes an appearance on bonnets…

Red gingham lovin’ with this little bib…

Just around the corner…

She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. Proverbs 31:13

June 14, 2011

Can You Guess the Flavor?

Colin’s birthday cake – can you guess what flavor he requested this year?

Tough one – how old is Colin now?

I’ve made so many carrot cakes over the years so I always try to sneak the age in there along with the names When I look at old pictures now, I’ve some clue as to which birthday I’m remembering. That way, I don’t have to guess!

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. Ephesians 3:20

June 9, 2011

Strawberry Dreamin’

June 7, 2011

Black Bean Blender Brownies

Today, we’re testing recipes for Colin’s upcoming birthday party. He’s craving brownies and I just had to try this recipe I found on the Whole Food’s website: Flourless Brownies. I’d seen recipes for black bean brownies and really wanted to try it out. Since Colin is looking for a fudgy rather than a cakey brownie, we made a test pan.

Organic black beans…

All the ingredients are to be mixed in a food processor, but alas my processor died awhile back and has not been replaced. I used the next best thing, my blender…

Super nutritious and taste rich eggs from Ravencroft Farm…

More blender magic…

Blender black bean brownies baked (say this several times fast)…

Cut and ready to try…

The result: A fantastically fudgy brownie enjoyed by all:)

Does not the ear test words as the tongue tastes food? Job 12:11

June 6, 2011

New Chicks, Pizza & Donut Chips

School is finally out for most of us (except for my high school sophomore) so this morning we went to Ravencroft Farm to see the new chicks. New chicks mean more delicious, organic eggs – I love new chicks!

So precious!

The huddled masses…

After a fun day in the sun, we had home-made pizzas for dinner:)

Do you remember life before Domino’s Pizza? One of my dearest friends when I was growing up, her parents’ owned and operated a pizzeria – the kind everyone flocked to after Friday night football games. They made incredible pizza, but the piece de resistance were their beloved donut chips – oh, my! These lovely little bits of fried pizza dough were tossed in sugar and served with a bowl of hot fudge for dipping. Dreamy!!

It’s a little scary how some of my best memories are tied to food – hmmmm…

Donut chips are simple to make. I simply doubled my pizza dough recipe so I had enough for pizzas and fried dough. Since I don’t have a frier, I heated canola oil in a pan.  Using my pizza cutter, I cut pieces of pizza dough – some much bigger than others. I plopped the dough in the hot oil and within seconds the dough puffed and danced. I sprinkled and tossed them with granulated sugar & delighted my sons with a nostalgic after-dinner treat.

Not exactly uniform…

Dancing dough…

A whole lotta lovin’!!

And some hot fudge to boot:)

I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body. 2 Peter 1:13

June 3, 2011

Strawberry Festival

I’m thrilled to announce: I’m going to have a booth at a local strawberry festival in July. Since the last Art Fair I did was in 1998, I’m kind of nervous too! Wish me well as I plow through a whole lot of work in the next few weeks:)

SAT. – JULY 2 – 10am-2pm

The mountains will bring prosperity to the people, the hills the fruit of righteousness. Psalm 72:3

June 1, 2011

No Bake Cookies for Graeme

Peanut butter quickly went from a staple to a luxury in our home once we discovered Graeme’s peanut allergy. We had to rethink our go-to lunch and give up peanut butter balls, peanut butter fudge, peanut butter cookies – the list goes on…

I’ve tried to find an adequate substitute in making sunflower seed butter. The reviews are mixed. The sunflower seed butter & jam sandwiches are pretty good, and the cookies are yummy.

But, I’d forgotten about No Bake Cookies. My older sons loved these little oatmeal peanut butter treats which were a breeze to pull together. Sooooo, why not try it with sunflower seed butter…