Sunday, June 29, 2008

Summer time tea - cool, clear, and easy breezy!
Eons ago when I was newly married, my brother-in-law told me about making tea, not the sun tea method that was popular in the then 1970's but rather tea steeped in the refrigerator. He referred to it as Tupper Tea; my sister, his wife, had hosted a Tupperware party and her hostess had been featuring the pitchers they had (in brown, burnt orange, or harvest gold) and one use was making iced tea in your refrigerator. He was so impressed with it he told me about it when he saw my new brown pitcher in our first apartment. I made it then for my growing family and now make it for just-the-two-of-us in a simple old green glass juice bottle. I use tap water and 2 tea bags, basic black tea bags. Mine happen to be Life Boat tea today, I'm using up a box of this and it works well. I love to make flavored tea by using one bag of simple black tea and one of a flavored tea so its not too overpowering. My bottle is a quart size. 
Use any bottle you have, or your favorite pitcher that has a lid. (or cover it with plastic wrap to keep other odors/fragrances away) Pour in cold tap water, add the tea bags and chill for 3 or more hours. I recommend a little more tea bags than you'd use to steep iced tea using hot water, but not too many more! If it is too strong you can add cool water to your glass, no problem.  When time has passed you will have already chilled tea - thus your ice cubes don't melt quickly. The tea is clear - it doesn't cloud up, even when you serve it up over a period of a few days. No special tea is needed but if you serve it with a slice or orange, lemon, lime, pineapple, melon, sprig of mint, you name it, that makes it extra special. 
I love the green glass bottle, it reminds me of ones my mother had, her sister had one, too. When I was a child and came in from playing outdoors in the summer, cold water was kept in such a jar. It was wonderful to pour iced cold water into a glass and drink it - ahhhh! This was long before refrigerators with ice machines, cold water on tap, no filtered water, etc. It was a simple time with simple pleasures. We have lost that in our high-tech world. We forget to slow down, touch base with those we love, those we live by, and those we want to get to know.
As I sip my Refrigerator tea today I am pondering upon a few things. Does my life color the world I move in? Does it change for good, like water in a jar with tea bags? Do I add flavor to it even when its an average day? Do I leave good flavor especially when its a wild overly busy day? What flavor do I pour into others lives? I pray that I leave the fragrance and 'taste' of Christ in how I live, what I do, what I say, how I say it, even what I don't say. How about you?
Truth For Life
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal processions in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 
2 Corinthians 2:13-15

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Another couple of things on and off my needles
This past week I finished up the lovely fan and feather baby blanket. It is tucked away waiting for the time I need a specially hand-knit gift for a little one. I think I shall knit up a hat in the same pattern to accompany the blanket. That would be elegant! Perhaps I can find some baby booties with cuffs in the pattern? If you know of one, would you email me the website? Thank you! I also finished up another dishcloth, this time in a sage green. Once a month I knit a dishcloth with a group that receives 9 rows of the pattern in a 6 day period so you are never overwhelmed. This month was lovely, looks like a cable but it isn't, I am going to package it with a natural colored dishcloth and a camel colored one - these are little gifts for a friend who is hosting a summer Bible study. I'll accompany them with some foaming dishwashing liquid in some lovely scent. She is in the midst of redecorating her kitchen and these will work well in her new look.  These dishcloths are a work of my hands and heart for her hospitality to the 8 to 10 of us who are going to meet in her living room for 6 weeks. 
There was a woman in our group some years ago that always gifted the hostess with a dishcloth, one, handmade, sometimes tied with a ribbon, sometimes just rolled up and handed to the hostess with a hug and a blessing. Because of this simple gesture I longed to learn to knit for her pattern was a knitted cloth, not crochet, and I used the dishcloths she gave me, used them and loved using them. 4 to 5 years ago I began a prayer shawl ministry and learned to knit on-the-fly so I could teach others how to knit. (I knew how to crochet but needed to show others how to do both) I was motivated and thrilled to finally learn. One of my first attempts to knit I transferred to finding the pattern for the dishcloth my friend had given me and others. It was, the infamous Grandmother's Favorite. It makes a great baby blanket when you make it larger. Here is a website for the pattern if you don't happen to know of this pattern. The photo on the left shows the grandmother's favorite pattern.  The one on the right is my current projects.
Truth for Life
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Romans 12:12-14

Monday, June 16, 2008

A place for everything
Very creative daughter, have I. When you have a need and consider your options - sometimes you create a very pretty means of keeping baby pacifiers collected, visible, and readily available! What began as a lovely floral arrangement, with a pink rectangular vase left when all had wilted. . . has months later become a colorful addition to our granddaughters nursery. Makes me wonder what I already have that I'm not fully utilizing in such clever and useful ways.
For Father's day weekend, my husband, grown son, and I drove to Dallas to see our son-in-love, daughter, and grandbaby. We shared some shopping, meals, and conversation for nearly 2 full days. It was 'just right'. Our grandbaby has grown and has learned to reach for things she wants to explore. Once she is mobile by crawling - look out world! She is a cutie pie and managed to go with us so many places, even missing naps. I hope our departure afforded their family one long afternoon nap on Sunday. 
While I rode in the car to and from Dallas I knit. I finished the baby blanket fan and feather pattern. Hooray! I have no particular baby in mind for it but so longed to see it knit up from my own needles, it is so elegant! I plan to try the more traditional fan and feather that creates more ridges and is both sided in pattern to see what I think about that variation. Soon to begin today is a dishcloth/washcloth in Sugar and Cream in sage green. I'm knitting these up in white, off white, and sage greens to have on hand for hospitality gifts. . . . I like the more natural colors as they fit into more of today's home decor and might just get used if accompanies with either a handmade soap (purchased) or a foaming dishwashing soap dispenser.  
Today we begin what is to be day 1 of 5 days of rain in our forecast. That makes for  a desire to sit and knit or read or knit and listen to an audio book at home. It, of course, includes tea sipping, perhaps even hot tea as we are having temperatures in the upper 60's and low 70's. Tea is soothing, warming to the body and calming to the emotions. Coffee revs us up, tea calms us down. I hope for dry spells in our rainy week sometime each day so I can get in my walks - the dogs will need it as much as I.  I listen to podcasts: Revive Our Hearts, Family Life Today, Focus on the Family, and at times, knitting podcasts. The spiritual podcasts strengthen more than my soul, they strengthen my life focus, challenge me in this season of life, in my marriage, my family, and my work. They provide me with depth for living and give me words that are more likely to contain wisdom when I spend time with friends.
I spent some extra time this morning catching up on my morning devotional reading - I forgot my Daily Walk booklet this weekend so I had to guess what chapters in Psalms to read. How timely they are! I've been feeling blue and having to focus on what is true about God, what His plans are, what He values, etc. and how good it is to focus on Him, to get a perspective adjustment, and to find the peace that passes understanding. I can't say enough about how being in God's Word on a regular basis with a plan of reading it by book, rather than by a verse here a phrase there, makes for understanding what a particular verse means in its context. It at times surprises me how verses are quoted, shared, sung, but the context is not what we have come to think them to be. When I discover such a gem, I'm awestruck. I make note of the true context of the verse and consider how the true context speaks to my life with the setting taken into account. 
Truth for Living
Let They hand be upon the man of Thy right hand, Upon the son of Man whom Thou didst make strong for Thyself. Then we shall not turn back from Thee; Revive us, and we will call upon Thy name. O LORD God of hosts, restore us; cause Thy face to shine upon us, and we will be saved.
Psalm 80:17-19

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A little bit here, a little bit there
Often life's tasks seem insignificant: wake up, shower, walk dogs, curl hair, read Bible, meditate on reading, pray, make the bed, tidy the bathroom, tidy the kitchen, pack the lunch, eat breakfast, brush out hair, find the keys, drive to work. . . . but each part adds to the whole of your life. Here is a web page that says it much better than I. If you feel your life's tasks don't add up to much, visit Mary Hunt's page today. It will inspire you in ways in which my words can not this evening.
I am a knitter. I love the ways the two stitches, knit and purl make all the variety of patterns and looks knitted fabric becomes. I am more of a product person than process but I am purposing to be more of a process person, to enjoy the rhythm of knitting, to enjoy the rows the stitches make, the fabric the rows become, and later the product that the pattern creates. I love the pace of knitting, it takes time but gives time to think, pray, enjoy your company, relax,and breathe. I love to listen to podcasts or audio books while I knit if I'm alone. I can talk while I knit or listen to others visit, it focuses me more on what is going on around me. Knitters understand this. We aren't ignoring others while we knit but rather focusing more upon what is being said and how its being said for our knitting gives us an anchoring point. And the products we produce make gifts of love for others or even our own homes or ourselves. It is a giving hobby. And those who give, live life more fully. In service there is greater living, greater joy, greater depth to life than in living solely to get, to keep, to collect, or  to achieve.

Watch this short video on how to switch between a knit and a purl stitch:

Truth for life
Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?
Mark 8:36

Sunday, June 08, 2008

I can't help myself! Here is a darling photo of Avery 'reading' a most appropriate book for what life has ahead of her in a few months. The book title is: Global Baby: How to keep you and your infant smiling before, during, and after your international move

Here she is! The lastest of our darling grandchild, Avery! She is now a full 5 months old. She is nothing but smiles, babbling, giggles, and a ton of fun. We haven't seen her in a month but will get to see her soon in person. Our daughter and son-in-law are quick with their phone cameras and digital cameras and are so good to keep us updated on her activities. Isn't she the cutest EVah? Yes, I am a first time grandmother, why do you ask? I 'heard' you think that question.
Here we see her playing in her bumbo chair without the tray, below with the tray and also having some tummy time. You just can't get enough of her sweet face! I'm learning how to podcast at this time for I plan to produce a podcast for Avery who will soon move oceans away. I plan to read to her, share things with her, show her how to make things via a blog, etc. so she can feel some connection to me as she grows up in south Africa. 

Truth for life:
Live your lives as the Good News of Christ says you should. 
If I come to you, or not, I want to hear that you are standing true as one. 
I want to hear that you are working together as one, preaching the Good News.
Philippians 1:27

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Time moves along. . . . . the caladiums are up and providing the welcoming atmosphere I love for our front porch. We have had storms roll through several times this week; they have provided water for our plants and yard, and then the sun returns and lawn mowers can be once more heard. We've had power outages with these storms, our 4th time since December's ice storm. Its so odd. 
This evening I hope to get some knitting done on the current projects on my needles. I just completed some typing for my husband who is preparing to teach a new series of classes on Deuteronomy. This morning we worked in the yard pruning back my rose bushes, overgrown shrubs, and clearing away weeds and broken tree limbs.  Its beginning to look good! In the next week or so we'll have french drains put in the back yard along with grading of the soil, sod added, some landscape rocks and decorative grasses planted. I can't wait! Then I shall sit on the back patio with a friend or two, sharing morning tea with scones, strawberries, and non-fat cool whip.  

Truth for Life
Trust in the Lord, and do good;
Dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. 
Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
Psalm 37:4, 5

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Hot and dry! 
Our days vary so much in Oklahoma. Yesterday was a scorcher! When I walked my dogs they were panting from the moment we left our block. I was 'glowing' when I returned. Today is a bit cooler due to wind. Ah, the wind is a wonderful thing when its hot. I'm having to get up earlier and earlier to beat the heat to get my walk in the hills completed. See the growth of my caladiums? I have added double flowering impatiens and asparagus fern. I have two such pots and the one I'm photographing daily is growing at a more rapid pace than the other one, must be a significant difference in the light. I'll have to swap them out weekly so they grow more evenly. 
In my daily reading I'm into the Psalms. How I love pondering them, reading the background, noting the author, and then focusing on the words of truth that I can live out. They were first alive to me when I was in college as a freshman, that is when I began to reach for my Bible for reading on a near daily basis. Reading the Psalms happened to be a good 'fit' for the emotional roller coaster years of that season of my life. 
Knitting wise I'm checking out books on lace knitting, trying to find a reasonably easy, but pretty pattern to try with some lace yarn I bought in April. Its not a rush to do this but I'm pondering what I would like to make, a luxury knitted item for me.  I finished the book For Women Only and can't say enoug it. EVERY woman needs to read it. EVERY. Yes, it is that vital. I finished up Austenland  
and it was interesting but not one I'd highly recommend, it was just an interesting read.
I've begun to read Having A Mary Heart and that is looking rather helpful. As is the book 
Never Say Diet. It has good points and is encouraging me on my inner and outer transition 
of body care, the only frustration is this is a library book and someone tore out the pages that listed 
her recommended foods for small meals that are about 300 calories. Arghhhh! I need to get my 
therapy ball out and take it to a gas station to air it up so I can use it a couple times a week. Working 
on my core muscles made such a difference the past fall and I've let that slide and boy can I ever tell!
Active knitting: finished up a dishcloth that is named Ivy's Cloth, named after the designer's mother. 
And my fan and feather afghan is still in process, the thin yarn makes it a long process but the fabric 
it is creating is oh, so lovely, it is a pleasure to look at, touch, and create. I'm learning to enjoy the 
process as well as the product in this project. (lots of "P's" in that sentence, no?)
Which makes me think of this verse for today:
Friends, when life gets really difficult, don't jump to the conclusion that God isn't on the job.
Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced.
This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.
I Peter 4: 12,13

Monday, June 02, 2008

Yesterday we had a full morning of severe storms with 70 mph winds, hail, lightening, you name it but nary a tornado. This all occurred while we were in church. We had a brief flickering then loss of power during a class but it returned after a moment.  Once home after lunch we discovered we had no power. The neighbors were out, walking, talking, sharing, laughing. . . . and so it goes. Trees were down, those that hadn't been downed by the winter storm of a few months ago.

I find it so very interesting that it doesn't seem to take us too long when we have no means of in-home entertainment to immediately return to community. It cheered my heart to see people connecting, offering help to one another, opening garage doors that enclosed cars and needed two people to get them open without power, etc. 

Naps were taken by some, reading by others, visiting by yet others. It was a long lazy Sunday afternoon. After a quick dinner out, we came home to a darkening home so out came the book lights we had bought after our life-stopping ice storms and power outages of days and weeks in December of this past year. How grateful I was that we had upper 70's and not 90's to be without electricity. I was also grateful that we had cell phones and our iPhones still had internet access so we could connect to the power company and telephone company to report the lost connections in our homes. We read until 8:30 p.m. when we tired of using such tiny lights and went to bed with windows open to provide a little coolness. 

We slept until we were awakened by someone's home security alarm going off at 11:15 p.m. That was our signal that our power was 'on'. A walk through the house revealed what lights we had turned on during the evening inadvertently. (more than I suspected, we are such creatures of habit, expecting lights to work when we enter darkened rooms, then forget to turn them 'off' when they have no power at all) The windows were now closed as we couldn't sleep with some neighbor's home alarm sounding. This morning it is still going off. I suppose those neighbors are on vacation and have not neighbors who have a means to get into the house and re-set the alarm. What a racket it is making! 

I'm off for a walk before the temperature rises to the upper 90's as they are predicting. I've got a day of laundry, one patient visit, lunch with a friend, errands, etc.  A nice blend of many things, a good way to start another week. I thank God for this new day.

This is the day which the LORD has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24