Friday, April 21, 2017

G is for Garlic Ginger, and Good Stir Fry [A-Z Blog Challenge 2015]


 
Experiments From Auntie's Test Kitchen
 
Intro  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

                                                                                                                    
 
G is for Garlic, Ginger, and Good Stir Fry
 
 
Ok, I felt I needed to redeem myself from the last stir fry disaster (letter P above) by sharing my favorite "go to" recipe.  Unlike my experiment, this stir fry is quite tasty, plus, it's really hard to mess up.
 
Ingredients:
  • Chicken breast cut into bite-sized pieces.
  • Your favorite fresh vegetables, diced, or, what I use, frozen vegetable mixes.  My favorites are Great Value's Broccoli Stir Fry and Sugar Snap Pea Stir Fry
  • A clove of garlic, minced...well, I don't know how to mince it correctly.  I smack it with the knife and cut it up like the cooking shows tell you, but I don't ever get as fine a mince as they do on TV.  So, we'll call it "finely chopped."
  • Your favorite spices to your taste.  I use rubbed sage, Italian seasoning mix, ground ginger, and salt.
  • About 1/4 cup Teriyaki Sauce (maybe).  Sorry, I'm southern and we don't measure stuff in our own recipes.  It's kind of like how we make potato salad--we mix ingredients until it "looks right."
  • A couple of tablespoons olive oil or sesame oil.  Tastes good with either one.

Instructions:
  • Heat your oil on high (or whatever works on your stove) in a wok or skillet.  Add the garlic and cook until it just starts to brown.  DON'T BURN IT OR THE WHOLE DISH WILL BE NASTY!  Been there, done that, ate it anyway.  If you burn it, wash the pot and start over.
  • Lower the heat slightly. Add the cut up chicken, toss it in the oil and garlic.  Add your spices.  After the chicken starts to cook (it starts to turn from pink to white on the outside) add the teriyaki sauce.  Completely cook the chicken.  This takes maybe 10-15 minutes.
  • Add the frozen vegetables.  Toss them with the sauce and chicken.  If it doesn't look quite right, add a little more spice and sauce.  Cook the vegetables to your desired doneness.
  • Serve over rice, quinoa (whatever the heck that is), noodles, or my preference, "as is."
Looks better than that last mess I made, doesn't it?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

2017 Reading Quest 15

BookIf I Ever Get Back to Georgia, I'm Gonna Nail My Feet to the Ground.
 
Author: Lewis Grizzard

Info:  Copyright 1990: New York: Villard Books

Rating (on a scale of 1-4 stars):  ✮✭✭ 

Where Acquired:  Library check out.

What it's about:   Grizzard recounts his newspaper career.  His initial love for newspapers as a child led to a long career of editing, sports writing, and eventually being a world famous newspaper columnist.

Favorite Quotes: 

"I'm always amazed at how angry readers get at columnists.  If Carl Rowan or William Safire or Richard Reeves writes an opinion, that's his prerogative.  I might say to myself, 'Carl Rowan must have drunk some bad buttermilk when he wrote this.' or ' What on earth was William Safire trying to say?'  But I don't ever get mad at them and call down to the paper and threaten to cancel my subscription.  Disagreeing  with a columnist is a lot of fun.  A good columnist will stir debate and reaction."

"The story went that once he [Bill Monday] was going to do the Harvard-Yale game back in the 30's on nationwide radio.  The night before the game, he was having dinner with Harvard officials.  At one point Monday, a Georgia alumnus and son of the south, was asked 'Mr. Monday, who will you be pulling for tomorrow, Yale or fair Harvard?'  Monday thought for a moment, then replied, "Neither one.  You're both a bunch of damn Yankees and I wish there was a way you both could lose.'"

"Can my husband [Norm Van Broklin, then recently fired coach of the Atlanta Falcons] be happy on the farm?" Mrs. Van Brocklin asked back, "Let me put it this way; pecan trees don't drop touchdown passes."

What I liked:

Reading this account is partially a trip through my childhood.  Grizzard, an avid baseball fan, lived during the Braves' move from Milwaukee to Atlanta.  During the height of his sports writing/editing career, he saw Hank Aaron break Babe Ruth's homerun record while enduring the plethora of horrid Braves seasons.  My dad and I watched the Braves lose week after week from the late 70's through the early 90's.  It's a shame he passed away the year before the Braves actually won the World Series. 

Like Grizzard, I used to love newspapers.  I'm not so fond of them now and I'm not sure Lewis Grizzard would be very fond of them either.  I'm also a big fan of typewriters; Grizzard never used a computer.  Bless his heart.

What I didn’t like: 
  • The profanity.  Usually Grizzard writes in what I call "drunk uncle cussing," which, in the grand scheme of things, isn't so bad.  However, he admits to using more intense profanity in this work because his mother wasn't alive to read it.  He should have stuck with the drunk uncle cussing.
  • His time at the Chicago Sun Times really angered me.   Though not politically correct to say so, Grizzard was right.  Read it; you'll see what I mean.
Takeaway: I laughed and cried my way through Grizzard's tale.  The laughing was for obvious reasons.  The crying?  Well, that takes a little bit of explanation.  See, my Bachelor's degree is in Mass Communication.  Upon my 1995 graduation, I had dreams of writing for a living.  Here I am 22 years post graduation and I'm a chunky monkey working at a fitness facility and writing a mediocre blog read by an average of 36 people (thanks for reading, by the way).  Grizzard's story reminded me of my dead dream and made me want to find a way to resurrect it.

This book was published just four years before the author's death.  I wonder what Grizzard's writings would have looked like had he lived.  Have mercy!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

2017 Reading Quest 14

BookThe Spirit of Christ 

Author: Andrew Murray

Info:  Copyright 2015: New York: Scriptura Press (Originally published in 1888)

Rating (on a scale of 1-4 stars):  ✮✭✭ 

Where Acquired:  Free Kindle book.

What it's about:   The Holy Spirit--the third person of the Holy Trinity of God--yet many believers really don't know exactly what His role is in their lives.  Murray takes the reader on a voyage through the Bible to teach the principles of walking on the Spirit.

Favorite Quotes: 

"In our preaching and in our practice, He does not hold that place of prominence which He has in God's plan and in His promises. While our creed on the Holy Spirit is orthodox and scriptural, His presence and power the life of believers, in the ministry of the word, in the witness of the Church to the world, is not what the word promises or God's plan requires." - Location 56

"To worship is man's highest glory. He was created for fellowship with God:  of that fellowship worship is the sublimest [sic] expression.  All the exercises of the religious life; meditation and prayer, love and faith, surrender and obedience, all culminate in worship." - Location 291

"Most Holy God!  we confess with shame how much our worship has been in the power and the will of the flesh.  By this we have dishonored Thee, and grieved Thy Spirit, and brought infinite loss to our own souls.  O God! forgive and save us from this sin.  Teach us, we pray Thee, never, never to attempt to worship Thee but in Spirit and in Truth." - Location 365

"We must not simply rest content with the faith that trusts in the cross and its pardon; we must seek to know the New Life, the Life of Glory and Power Divine in human nature, of which the Spirit of the glorified Jesus is meant to be the Witness and the Bearer." - Location 504

"To cease from all hope in the flesh and the law is the entrance into the liberty of the Spirit." - Location 1660

"May my whole heart be so filled with the longing for Christ's honor, and His love for the lost, that my life may become one unutterable cry for the coming of Thy Kingdom. Amen." - Location 1854

What I Liked:
  • Murray does not take the subject of the Holy Spirit through a denominational (or non-denominational) filter.  He simply takes the Scriptures and expounds on them in light of other biblical passages.
  • This book gives much instruction, yet reads like both a devotional and a prayer journal. He writes both poetically and intelligently.
What I didn’t like: 
  • The Kindle version has no real page numbers.
  • Murray quotes many scriptures, but doesn't always reference them.
  • My main criticism of the work isn't a problem with the author himself or the book itself, but with the publisher and editors (or lack thereof).  There are tons of typographical errors, missing words, punctuation placed on the wrong place or left out, the use of the number 0 instead of a capital O in places, plus other errors in editing that distracts the reader from the subject matter.  Yes, it was a free download, however, just because it's Christian and free doesn't mean it should be done in a lackadaisical manner.  By the way, I purchased a book from the same company and it was edited just as badly.  I tried to find information on the publisher to possibly get some clarification or give some assistance, but apparently, the company doesn't exist anymore, or is some grassroots project with no physical address or internet presence.  Oh well, I tried.
Takeaway: This will definitely be reread for years to come, flaws and all.  There's too much information and spiritual instruction to get it all in one sitting.

Monday, April 17, 2017

2017 Reading Quest 13

BookThe Adventures of Captain Underpants:  An Epic Novel.

Author: Dav Pilkey

Info:  Copyright 2000: New York: Scholastic

Rating (on a scale of 1-4 stars):  ✮✭✭ 

Where Acquired:  Library check out.

Category:  Impulse Read. 

What it's about:   Best friends George and Harold are the misfits of their fourth-grade class.  When not suffering through academia, their favorite activity (other than stirring up trouble) is creating their own comic book heroes.  One of their favorites is Captain Underpants, an unlikely superhero bedecked in a cape and tighty-whities with very little in the way of defensive weaponry.  Through a set of unfortunate (or fortunate) events, George and Harold turn their overbearing principal, Mr. Krupp, into their superhero.  Full of unlikely (not to mention ridiculous) adventures, this is a fun story for young readers...well, and older readers if you have a silly side like I do.

What I Liked:
  • In all its immature silliness, the book was pretty funny with hilarious illustrations to boot.
  • It was a short fun read that only took about an hour to finish.
What I didn’t like: 
  •  Nothing I can think of.  This book isn't serious, so not a lot of analytics going on here.
Takeaway:  Nothing serious, just some great laughs from a fun story that got me through my day.  I just might read the rest of the series later.

Friday, April 14, 2017

2017 Reading Quest 12

BookEsther Ried's Awakening. Alternate title:  Esther Ried.

Author: Isabella MacDonald Alden.  Also sold under her pen name:  Pansy.

Info:  Copyright 1995: Wheaton, IL:  Living Books (Originally published in 1870)

Rating (on a scale of 1-4 stars):  ✮✭✭ 

Category:  Glorious Reread.

What it's about:   Nineteen year old Esther Ried has grown bored with the daily grind of serving in her mother's boarding house.  Worse yet, she has bored of Christianity and anything having to do with religion.  Surprisingly she gets an opportunity to spend a few weeks away in New York to attend her cousin's wedding and Esther thinks she's finally free.  However, this time away proves to bring her freedom of another kind.

What I Liked:
  • Though this book was written in the 19th century, the text doesn't present situations too vague or outdated to understand.
  • Not every Christian character in the book was some poor, ignorant vagrant.  There were characters who represented various socioeconomic strata.
  • The evangelistic and redemptive nature of the story was appealing.  The intelligent and creative method in which is was presented was refreshing.
What I didn’t like: 
  • Esther's younger sister, Sadie, bless her heart, is quite intelligent, but has no common sense.  Many of her interactions were frustrating to read, plus she was for all intents and purposes useless to her family in times of need.
  • I think Esther's mother should have done more to ease some of her burden.  She seemed very hard on Esther, but lax in her discipline with her other children (thus Sadie's uselessness) I also believe that she should have put her family's needs first in many situations where she was conspicuously absent. 
  • A couple of the characters had similar names and I often got them confused. 
Takeaway:  I first read this book in the mid 1990's at a time when my faith had grown cold and stale.  I had recently graduated from college--a very draining process--and hadn't consistently darkened the door of a church for far too long.  As I engrossed myself in this tale, I saw how Esther's spiritual plight could have been my own.  At the time, her attitude frightfully matched my dark mood.  At the conclusion of the novel, I felt encouraged.  It motivated me to get back in the Word and begin the process of renewal. 

The book meant so much to me that I reread it every couple of years.  Like The Shack, Esther Ried's Awakening doesn't tell me how to live; it encourages me to seek the One Who is life.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

2017 Reading Quest 11

BookBad Feminist:  Essays.

Author: Roxane Gay

Info:  Copyright 2014:  New York:  Harper Collins

Where acquired:  Library check out.

Rating (on a scale of 1-4 stars): 

What it's about:  Bad Feminist is a collection of essays chronicling the author's experience with feminism.  She tackles such subjects as rape culture, popular music, television, and literature.

Favorite Quotes:

"We need to get to a place where we discuss privilege by way of observation and acknowledgement rather than accusation." - p. 19

On religious systematic misogyny:  "I am also reminded that women, more often than not, are the recipient of God's intentions and must also bear the burden of those intentions." - p. 99

On the objectifying of women and attitudes about obesity: "In the last Dear Fat People letter [in the novel Skinny by Diana Spechler] Gray writes, 'You wonder why we hate you?  You are the visible manifestation of the parts of ourselves we hide.' There is truth in that too.  Fat people wear their shit on the outside, with sagging breasts and swollen ankles and heavy thighs.  Unlike a heroin addict who might be able to cover track marks with long sleeves, a fat person cannot hide the fact that something has gone awry.  Fat people have secrets, and you may not know what those secrets are, but they can be plainly seen." - pp. 119-120

"Some statistics loom so pervasively they have become myths.  For example, a commonly recited 'fact' is that more black men end up in jail than attend college.  Ivory A. Toldson, a professor at Howard University, refuts this statement, noting in a series on black education for The Root that 'today there are approximately 600,000 more black men in college than in jail, and the best research evidence suggest that the line was never true to begin with.'" - p. 247

Takeaway:

OK, You might want to take a potty break and get a beverage before diving into this.

A caveat before I begin:  I've endeavored to make all of my reviews as open and honest as possible.  Also, I usually avoid politically charged themes or arguments in my blog because they go nowhere.  Everyone who agrees with me would keep reading, while those opposed would cut me off and never again read any of my work, no matter how innocuous.  However, because this book is fraught with politically charged themes, I must touch on them or my review won't be honest.

I relish books that make me think.  I loathe books that do nothing but make me angry enough to want to throw said book (or said electronic reading device) across the room.  There is enough anger, both warranted and unnecessary, choking the life out of so many people.  I am in no way interested in adding to the fire.  So, my job here is to wade through the minefield with honesty and decorum.

I have so got a stomach ache right now.

First, a simple question, could someone tell me where the humor is supposed to be?  In descriptions of this book, the essays were called "funny and insightful." There's nothing funny about this book. 

We'll get to the "insightful" part in a minute.

Second, let's look at the basic definition of feminist.  A feminist is
A person who supports feminism which is the advocacy of women's rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.

Nowhere in that definition does it say that the feminist must be female, black, open to any and all sexual orientations, no wealthier than middle class, feminist but anti feminine, pro abortion, and anti male.  However, this, plus more, is Gay's definition, in addition, she feels that she (or others of her particular race and persuasions) is the only one qualified to tell the feminist story. I don't even qualify.  Yes, I'm black a black woman, but I'm not of her various qualifying persuasions.  In that, she is a bad feminist.

In graduate school, I studied both a course in women's literature and history.  Yes, I know it was almost 20 years ago, but I do remember some of it.  In the beginnings of the women's movement, this basic definition was what feminism was about:  voting rights, equal pay, equal protection under the law, property rights, and battling to eradicate systematic misogyny.  Quite frankly, anyone in this day and age who doesn't believe in those things is a doofus and needs to crawl back to the cave and stay there.

In the 20th century, that definition was severely skewed to the things I listed above.  The author is a victim of that skewing.  In that, she is not a bad modern feminist.

Though written well, this book is a cacophony of schizophrenic contradictions:
  • The author bristles at the use of the term "sexual assault" instead of "rape."  At the same time she substitutes the term "reproductive rights" for "abortion rights" or the right to destroy the product of reproduction.  I find this a deplorable misnomer.  As she says, call it what it is.
  • The use of profanity.  This isn't even drunk uncle cussing; it goes deeper than that.  No, I'm not a prude, but I'm not very tolerant of the F word or crass descriptions of sexual organs and their use.  Yet, she is offended by the N-word, except, of course, when it is used by blacks about each other.
  • Her inference that she "doesn't believe in safety" betrays the fact that she does believe in safety for whom she deems worthy to be safe, ie: black women and no one else.
  • She spends several (and I mean several) chapters on racism.  What does this have to do with feminism again?  Well, let me rephrase that, she spends several chapters on the racism of whites toward all other races of humans.  Now, correct me if I'm wrong--and I'm not--but if a person of color hates, shuns, or otherwise demeans a Caucasian simply because his skin is white, does that not constitute racism?  Does Auntie need to pull out her dictionary again?  Gay only sees one brand of racism.  I also took great umbrage at her assumption that all Southern white people are racists.  I want to tell her "Dear heart, I'm only a couple of years older than you.  I've lived in the South all my life.  In Alabama, no less--the "Heart of Dixie," the home of George C. Wallace, the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, the attack on the Freedom Riders.  My parents lived the Jim Crow South; they didn't read about it in a book.  My older siblings were growing up right in the heart of the civil rights movement.  I've only had an extremely minute fraction of what my parents and older siblings went through.  We have all seen horrific things done by both whites and black in the name of 'I hate your skin.'   I work, attend church, and am friends with many kind, gracious, God fearing, whites and blacks who don't have a racist bone in their body.  Most of the overt racism I see comes from blacks toward whites, and, ridiculously, towards other blacks who are lighter or darker than they.  You, my dear, know nothing. Oh, a side note, my mother was (and still is) a domestic worker--and a darn good one, so you might want to watch what you say about 'maids' around me."
  • For the author, there are no good people, well if they are white or men, or worse; white men.  There is no possibility of change or redemption of anyone.  I guess you would think that if you "used to believe in God," but don't now.  She wants to see change, but doesn't believe that everyone has to change.    No matter how much progress is made, she keeps saying it isn't good enough.  Gay even goes as far as to assert that the suggestion that blacks stop tearing up their own neighborhoods, black men stop making babies they don't want and leaving the mothers to raise alone, get a job,  and stay out of jail is somehow kowtowing to "the politics of respectability."  Since when is being a productive citizen of any color (ie: not acting like a jackass) a political linchpin?  This chick is twisted.
  • Gay goes into the whole "privilege" apology thing, and I blow my stack...again."
  • She spends the last two chapters of the book completely contradicting everything she just wrote in the previous chapters.  Kind of a "do as I write, not as I do" hypocrisy.  Really? 
  • There is so much other crap visceral drivel that I don't have time, space, or blood pressure medicine to go into.  I think you get the idea.  It's a crying shame too. Annie had read and enjoyed the book and recommended it to me.  We generally like the same books, even if for different reasons.  So, it was disappointing that I dislike this work so much.
I need about 12 Ibuprofen right now.

Like Women, Food, and God, a book I read a couple of years ago, this book was misnamed.  Instead of Bad Feminist: Essays, it should have been called Bad Feminist Essays.  There is a difference.

Monday, April 10, 2017

2017 Reading Quest 10

BookThe Shack.

Author: William Paul Young

Info:  Copyright 2007:  Newbury Park, CA:  Windblown Media

Where acquired: Audio library check out.

Rating (on a scale of 1-4 stars):  ✮✭✭  1/2

Category:  This one falls under two categories:  "Everybody's Reading it" and "Nobody Admits to Reading it."

What it's about:  Mackenzie Phillips, ultra religious, but having no viable relationship with God, encounters tragedy that brings him face-to-face with the Almighty. 

I'm going to dispense with my normal review format and cut to the chase.

When I heard of this book years ago, all I heard was the negativity surrounding it.  I had plenty to read, so I could safely avoid it.  This year, I decided that other people's fears and prejudices weren't going to color my judgment about reading it.  Understand, this was before I even knew about the movie based on the book that was coming out.  Annie, my sister-in-blog and fellow reviewer, joined me in reading this tome.  During out discussions, we were both mystified by all the venom surrounding it.

First, many who had disparaging comments about the book had never read it; they were simply repeating what they heard from brother or sister do-dad.  I've begun to take the Dave Ramsey approach to books:  Never take advice from the firms I've Heard and They Said.  Like my experience with such over hyped books as Crazy Love and One Thousand Gifts, I took a chance of possibly disliking, or not understanding the book.  Unlike the aforementioned works, I liked this book.

Second, it is not wise to get one's Gospel theology from a work of fiction.  That wasn't the point of the book.  Like the beloved Chronicles of Narnia series (which everybody practically pees in their pants over, but I have yet to understand or get all the way through), this work is an allegory--a story one may glean meaning from.  Were some of the images and statements unscriptural?  Yes.  Were there things about the book I didn't like?  Yes.  So what?  Most of the Christian themed books I've read fall into that category.  I felt that the imagery was spectacular and the story was told beautifully.  Once I got into it, I couldn't stop reading.  BUT do I get instruction for how to live my Christian life from The Shack?  Absolutely not.  It is a story--not a Bible study.

Third, I believe the problem with this book is not what was written, or how, but how others presented it.  Annie and I discussed how in some circles, if someone's child passes away, everyone wants to flock to LifeWay and buy this book for them to read.  That's rather heartless and takes no effort in real relationship building.  I can't fathom that this is what the author intended--at least I hope not.

What I gleaned from this novel is that our relationship with God isn't based on religion; it is based on a beautiful relationship.  Not a new concept, but vibrantly played out in the words of the author  No, I don't believe I'll ever have the privilege of such a vivid vision of the Almighty until I cast of this mortal coil and stand face to face with Jesus.  Then, it will be no vision; it will be the real thing.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Yellow Submarine: The Weekly Hodgepodge


Join the fun! 
Come on over to 
for the Hodgepodge link-up!
April is Lawn and Garden Month. On a scale of 1-10 what's the current state of your lawn and/or garden. (10=a showpiece, 1=send in the professionals). Tell us about any lawn or garden plans you have for this month.

I really can't speak on that topic since where I currently live isn't mine to garden in.  I love gardens and have many ideas for when I have my own space in which to create.

"Many things grow in the garden that were never sown there." ~ Thomas Fuller  What does this quote mean to you?

Sounds like an ode to Kudzu!

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think about God?

Love.  Not the ooey gooey cliché love.  No, the love I think of is an intimate love that heals the brokenhearted, gives a family to those who have none, to embrace someone in your arms and never let them go.

If we were chatting in person, how would I know if you were nervous?

I don't think I would be nervous talking to you Mrs. Joyce.  However, my nerves show when I can't look you in the eye, when I talk too fast, or clam up.  I also get where I don't know what to do with my limbs when I'm unnerved.

Do you like the color yellow? Would I find any in your home or wardrobe? Daffodils, tulips, roses, sunflowers, day lily, black eyed Susan...which yellow bloom on this list is your favorite?

To wear, no.  Because I have bronze toned skin, I don't look good in most shades of yellow.  As a paint color, yes.  There's yellow on the walls of the kitchen in my living quarters.  Now, as far as flowers go?  Yes, yes, and yes!  I enjoy all the flowers you've listed.  Since they come around at different seasons and I can see them all, I don't have to pick a favorite.

Flip flops or bare feet?

Bare feet.  The only time I wear flip-flops is to the pool at the Y.  As a general rule, I despise flip-flops because they hurt my feet and they're butt ugly.  I call them the redneck Birkenstock.

Tell us about any Easter plans, celebrations, or traditions you'll carry out this month.

Other than going to church, I haven't a clue.  I'm playing in both services, so I'll most likely be so tired I'll go straight home and head for bed.  Yeah, exciting, I know.  I long for more to celebrate the death and resurrection of the Savior, but I've also got to be realistic.  It's going to feel like work rather than pleasure.

Insert your own random thought here.

I'm thinking about personality types and how much I hate mine. Yes, I know I've talked about it before, but it still bugs me.  I fall in the category of Golden Retriever/ Melancholy/ Obliger.  Out of the four major personality types, this one is the weakest.  The others don't really need anyone to succeed; not my type.  The lion/choleric/upholder is the most desired.  They are ambitious self-starters who don't care about what anyone thinks.  In fact, they get people to work for them instead of being stuck working for someone who dehumanizes them or dictates their worth or success.  I'm hunting for my inner lion, but all I keep finding is Eeyore.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Five Minute Friday: "Define"


I am the victim of incorrect definition.

I am defined by what I do rather than who I am.  This causes those around me to view me as a mere thing, a piece of chattel whose only reason for existence is to do things to improve upon their lives with no regard to my own.  This definition is wrong at best, dehumanizing at worst.

I really should stop doing, but then what?  Where would I be?  Useless.

On Gretchen Rubin's podcast this week, she discusses many types of loneliness.  She makes a point to say that while it is now acceptable to say that you are depressed or suffer from mental illness, people still take you to the woodshed for admitting to being lonely.  My walking through society as non-human is the worst kind of loneliness.

My life reminds me of a scene from the Sally Field movie Sybil.  As a child, Sybil's schizophrenic mother ties her up and leaves her in a wheat bin.  In her hand is a purple crayon with which she scrawls on the inside of the bin.  Her therapist asks her why she was drawing with the crayon.  Her answer "so someone will know I was here."

This blog is my purple crayon.
-----
Prompts provided by Mrs. Kate over at Heading Home.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

All About That Bass: The Weekly Hodgepodge


Join the fun! 
Come on over to 
for the Hodgepodge link-up!
'Beauty is in the eye of the beholder'  What's something you've seen recently that you thought was beautiful?

I'm ashamed to say that off the top of my head, I can't think of anything.  Well, not something personal.  I've seen pictures of babies, flowers, and sunsets on the internet, but they were things other people had garnered the beauty from.  I'm creating and project that I think is beautiful, but if I said that about my own work, people would think me conceited...or delusional.

Our culture and beauty...your thoughts?

It's too difficult for a woman in our culture to be considered beautiful.  It takes too much surgery, too many stylists, too many wardrobe and makeup changes, too much Photoshop, too much shame, and too much money.  It's not worth it.  And on that subject...



Age before beauty, beauty queen, beauty mark, beauty sleep...which beauty-ful phrase resonates with you today? Why?

None really.  I'm not even going to talk about sleep anymore.

I read here a list of the top ten beasts animals that scare us the most-
alligators, coyotes, black bears, birds (but pigeons in particular), sharks, bats, bed bugs, rats, rattlesnakes, and the black widow spider. Which 'beast' on the list scares you the most? What is the likelihood of you having an actual encounter with that particular beast? Did a movie contribute to your fear of this creature? Have you ever had a real life encounter with any of the animals listed?
 
Since there's not much chance I'll come in contact with any of these animals, I'd have to say none.

Where were you when you last heard a bell ring? Was it alarming or musical?

Sunday.  We have a bell that signals the end of Sunday School/Life Groups.  It usually scares the water out of me.

What's your favorite carb? How's that for random?

Healthy carb?  Gala Apples.  Not-so-healthy carb?  Ice cream.

Let's wrap up another month of Hodgepodging and life with an acrostic. Recap your month using the word MARCH.

Maybe
A
Re-do
Could
Help

Insert your own random thought here.

See y'all next time.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Five Minute Friday: "Embrace"


embrace - to hold (someone) closely in one's arms, especially as a sign of affection. 2) Accept or support (a belief, theory, or change) willingly and enthusiastically.


One of my favorite songs containing the word embrace.


Embrace.  It's such a warm word.  You can't fully embrace someone you hate.  There's no mere tolerance in an embrace.

I like to give and receive hugs.  That wasn't a part of my personality growing up.

Or maybe it was.

During my stint as a preschool teacher,  I read the book The Five Love Languages of Children.  These love languages are as true for adults as they are for children.  Through this book, I discovered that appropriate touch is my primary love language, with quality time running a close second.

As a kid, I knew that a person's care or concern was genuine if they were willing to touch me.  My peers wouldn't even dare touch me when we played; they teased that I has some disease to which they didn't want to expose themselves.  The majority of the times I was touched by my teachers was in anger or derision.

As an adult, I know that a person's friendship and fellowship is genuine if they are willing to embrace me.  A side hug, an appropriate full-on hug, a firm handshake, or even a friendly fist bump relays the message that I'm not simply a tolerated thing, but a real person worthy of embrace.

-----
Prompts provided by Mrs. Kate over at Heading Home.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Wild Irish Rose: The Weekly Hodgepodge


Join the fun! 
Come on over to 
for the Hodgepodge link-up!
Setting aside the real March Madness (NCAA Basketball) describe something happening at your house this month that might earn the title 'March Madness'?

Dealing with sickness.  Yuck!

What's a favorite made up word from your childhood or a favorite from your children's childhood? Does your family still use the word today? If there's a story behind the origin please share.

"Sammich" (definition:  sandwich).  Yes, it is still used in our family.  We don't know where it came from but will continue to use it.

Will you be doing any spring cleaning now that the season is upon us? I read here a list of 15 quick (under one hour) spring cleaning tasks. They were-clean out a drawer, vacuum furniture, whiten tile grout, dust the nooks and crannies you don't get to year round, degrease kitchen cabinets, wipe down walls, go behind furniture, wipe down ceiling fans, vacuum the mattress, clean the range hood, wash baseboards, shine the stainless steel, clean out vents, tackle the windows, and wipe down gadgets.   Of the fifteen 'quick' tasks listed which two most need doing at your house? Will you do them?

Not any more than usual.  I get "Monk" moments and organize and throw away junk like crazy.  That's pretty normal.

A favorite movie set in Paris or New York?

Fame.  I also really enjoyed the TV show based on the movie.

What's put a spring in your step this month?

Spring!  What else do I need?

Did you ever want to be a teacher? Why or why not?

Yes and no.  I didn't want to be a teacher per se, but I did want to be a band director for a time.  When I figured I could get a doctorate and qualify to do brain surgery faster than I could get a music degree from Jacksonville State, I changed my major--several times.  I ended up studying mass communication.  I used those skills to have a decade long career as a preschool teacher at a private Christian school.  I retired from teaching mainly because of low pay and parents who thought their little Honey Boo-Boo's poop didn't stink.  I would like to teach again, but not children.  I'd like to teach adult Bible studies.

What's your favorite floral scent? Do you have this somewhere in your home or maybe in a perfume? How do you feel about florals in food? How about wines with floral notes-yay or nay?

When I think of floral scent, I think of the actual scent of a flower.  I love the smell of roses.  However, I don't care for floral scented items.  Usually the smell is too strong.  Plus, floral scented hygiene products (perfume, soap, body sprays, etc.) end up making me smell like a French whore instead of a bouquet of flowers.  Most of the scented products I use smell like food (vanilla, peach, etc).  I'm not sure what is meant by florals in food, so I don't know what to think of them.  I don't know anything about wines with floral notes either.  Is this what they mean?


Insert your own random thought here.

Hmm.  I've got several random thoughts running through my skull:
  • I really miss having a typewriter.  No, I don't want to replace my computer with it, but there are still tasks that can be completed more efficiently with a typewriter.  Examples?  Address labels, envelopes, filling out applications and other such paperwork not presented as a fillable PDF file, and typing notes and manuscripts without getting distracted by the internet.  Plus, weird I know, I miss the sound of the striking of the keys.  When I have my own house, my office will have a working typewriter.
  • With the onset of spring training, baseball is on my mind.  Since I don't have a TV (and I'm not willing to bust my budget for cable--or a TV), I would love to be able to listen to games on the radio.  However, these guys need to take a lesson or three (or thirteen) from sportscaster Eli Gold.  When Mr. Gold calls a game, I actually know what's going on in splendid detail.  Not so with baseball on the radio.  I've tried numerous times to listen to a game, but the results were the same.  I never figured out which team was at bat, which batter was up, the ball/strike call, or, most importantly, whether my team was winning or not.  What's the point?
  • Something to be thankful for.  I have made it through winter without a major depressive episode.  PRAISE THE LORD!
  • I need a vacation...and about $5000 so I can take a vacation.
  • This is the weekend I get my bike out of the laundry room, pump the tires, and make my inaugural outside ride for the year.  I'll let you know how it goes--if it doesn't rain.
  • This is also the weekend I will build a blanket fort and color at my leisure.  No vacation?  No problem.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Playing Offense: The Simple Woman's Daybook

If you would like to join in and post your own Daybook, please head on over to visit Peggy at The Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today:  Wednesday, March 15, 2017
 

Outside my window  We're having a dreigh Scottish winter day here in Alabama.  Ah, nothing to fear, the forecast is calling for spring weather by the weekend.

I am thinking...  
  • About how to make things better for myself.
  • About the Lent season and how to really celebrate it for all it's worth.

I am thankful...  that I'm on the mend.  The past few weeks have been hideous.  First, there was the insomnia, then the body aches, then a weekend of some weird gastrointestinal thing mixed with the sensation of peeing razor blades.  I'm ready to have some days where I actually feel good.  This is really screwing up my workouts.
 
From the Workshop...


The New Wine:  16 x 20
Acrylic on Canvas.
Read about it here.

I am reading... I recently finished The Proposal by Lori Wick.  If you'd like, you may read the review here (scroll to the bottom if you just want to read the review).  Among the pile I'm currently reading...
 



 
I am learning...

I've had a couple of epiphanies this week:
  • Life is like football (or any other sport); you cannot win if you're only playing defense.  Yes, I know that the University of Alabama football team scored a record number of non-offensive points last season and went all the way to the BCS Championship, but that is RARE.  The sum total of my life has been reacting to what happens to me, rather than trying to take some sort of action before it gets hopeless.  I've had too much hopeless in my life.  I'm so scared of making the wrong move that I make none at all.  I'm paralyzed with the terrible dread of failure, of disappointing others, of disappointing God.  This is no life.  I've got to take offensive action.  Even if it's the wrong thing, I've got to trust that the Holy Spirit will help direct me.
  • Any art that people say is beautiful, will accept for free, but will not purchase is WORTHLESS.  My dream of selling my art is a pipe dream, but letting God use it for His glory and ministry is a much better dream.  I'll just keep giving it to Him.  What happens after that is in His hands.
Favorite quote(s) of the week
 
"Faith believes.  Faith trusts.  Therefore, faith praises."  Kenneth Hagin Jr.
 
I am looking forward to... 
  • Easter
  • Getting back outside in the sunshine.
  • Revamping my workouts.
  • I'm looking forward to having more good things to look forward to.

And now for something totally different...

Five minute Friday word of the week:    Purpose
 

From Facebook:  Nerdgasm shared:












 
From the Nerd Fitness website:




























From Facebook:  James Spann shared:



From Facebook:  MHarper shared: 








From Facebook:
 


















 

Monday, March 13, 2017

F is for Flax Seed [A-Z Challenge 2015]


 
Experiments From Auntie's Test Kitchen
 
Intro  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

                                                                                                                    
 
F is for Flax Seed

My friend, Susan, introduced me to flax seed.  I'd never eaten those lovely pellets of crunchy goodness until she presented them to me sprinkled over Greek yogurt and fruit.

According to WebMD's website among other benefits, flax seed contains Omega-3 fatty acids that are beneficial to cardiovascular health.  Great for those who can't or don't eat fish.  They also contend that flax seed contains both soluble and insoluble fiber, which, according to various studies, are good for digestive health and cholesterol management.

One problem...

This site, among others I viewed, recommend consuming the ground variety of flax seed.  No thank you.  Not only does ground seed have no flavor, but it has the texture of sawdust.

Gah!

But wait, isn't that a little exotic?  Nah, I buy it at Wal-Mart.  In fact, the Mart used to carry it in small serving packets for about 80 cents.  Now, all they carry in that size is chia seed (which I don't like as much) or GROUND seed.

Gah + growl

anyway...

So far, I've found two enjoyable uses for this food.  One, I sprinkle it on a peanut butter and banana sandwich.  The second is the "recipe" I like most:












I call it my "Banana Split Breakfast."  It contains:

1 medium sliced banana (I also add various berries when they are in season)
1 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
1 100-calorie packet (or small handful) of almonds
1 TBSP (approx.) of whole flax seed.

Put it together in a way that suits you.  Another variation I like is to use to use cottage cheese instead of yogurt, remove the almonds, and add diced apples and mandarin orange wedges with the banana.  Either way you've got some protein, fiber, plus all the nutrients in the fruit.  For me, it keeps the sugar cravings down without tasting like cardboard (another reason not to use ground flax seed).  Plus, it's a simple breakfast that doesn't require any actual cooking.

My only warning would be that if you're not used to high fiber food, use a very small amount of the seeds and increase slowly so you'll know how it will affect your tummy.

Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

2017 Reading Quest 09: The Weekly Hodgepodge

Join the fun! 
Come on over to 
for the Hodgepodge link-up!
BTW--I love Mrs. Joyce's new Hodgepodge Logo!

What is one area of your life where you're a perfectionist? Is that a good thing?

Let's just say I have perfectionistic tendencies.  No, they're not good.  I worry excessively about getting things right for fear of repercussions.  I apologize too much, even for things I didn't even do.  I never feel like anything is good enough.  I hate it.

What's something you find perfectly ridiculous?

Don't get me started.  I'll list a few:
  • Arguments about the left lane. Since when did the left lane become a magical side of the road where there's no speed limit?  I do believe that police officers give tickets for speeding in that lane also--at least that's what my driver's manual told me.
  • People who put their child/grandchild's report card on social media.  Sorry, but that's just plain tacky.  I put that right up there with Elite Night
  • Select-a-size paper towels.  The person who invented these monstrosities should be hung by his feet and used as a piñata.  I think they are designed to always tear bigger or smaller than you intended, so you'll waste a bunch and buy more.
  • Politics.  'Nuf said.
What's a skill you've developed by way of that old fashioned saying, "practice makes perfect"?

Playing musical instruments.

What's your idea of a perfect breakfast?

One that I don't have to cook myself that comes from Cracker Barrel, Ihop, or my Mama's kitchen.

What's a trip, holiday, vacation, or day outing you've taken that you'd rate a perfect 10? Tell us why.

I was blessed with the gift of spending Christmas Eve night at the Hampton Inn in JackVegas.  It was glorious:  the quiet aloneness garnered me more than 12 straight hours of sleep.  I woke up refreshed and rested for the first time in a while.  I worked out, got ready for services, and had a lovely complementary breakfast.  Wish I could do the same thing for Easter.

What quote or saying perfectly sums up your life right now? If you can't do perfect, how about one that comes close?

"O Lord, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear!" - Habakkuk 1:2

How would you spend $300 today?

$30 tithe
$10 offering
$100 savings
$50 car maintenance
$75 groceries and toiletries
$25 Cell phone minutes
$10 Fun bucks

Insert your own random thought here.

As an avid reader, I like to share what I read with others.  I don't believe I've ever shared one of my book reviews with the Hodgepodge crowd before.  So, here's the review of a book I recently completed.  To understand the quest and the scoring system, or to view more of my latest reviews, read here.

BookThe Proposal. (English Garden Series #1)

Author: Lori Wick

Info:  Copyright 2003:  Waterville ME:  Thorndike Press (Large Print Edition)

Where acquired: Library check out.

Rating (on a scale of 1-4 stars):  ✮✭✭  1/2

What it's about:  The setting is upper class Georgian-Era England. William Jennings, too young to be so set in his ways and too logical for his own good, inherits three children--two preteen boys and a young girl--from a deceased cousin.  At the joy getting to be a parent without the bother of a wife, his first thoughts were to groom the young men and cast off the little girl to a nanny.  After this arrangement turns tragic, he must learn how to truly love these children, rather than selfishly "provide" for them.  Along the way, he gets help and direction from his sister Lydia, her family, and Marianne, a friend of Lydia's.   Even with this circle of accountability, will Jennings learn what love is, or most importantly Who love is?

Favorite Quotes:

Exchange between Thomas and Mr. Jennings
     "They're not as frightening as you first thought, are they, sir?"  the young man asked.
     "What aren't, Thomas?"
     "Little girls." - p. 76

Exchange between Mr. Jennings and Thomas
     "Do you attend church to please your father?"
     "My heavenly Father or Goodwin Jennings?"
     "Goodwin."
     "That's not why I go, sir, although I know he would be pleased."
     "Why do you go?"
     "The life of one who chooses to follow Christ is very challenging, sir.  I can rest knowing that God is in control at all times, but I can't stop changing and growing.  And to change and grow, I have to keep learning." - p. 202

Exchange between Marianne and her mother
     "You don't think I should have said yes?"
     "At one time I would have, but not when I think about his not loving you.  I want you to be cherished, and unless you are going to be, you can just stay right here where I know it will happen."
     They were words that Marianne would cling to in the time to come.  Even as she recounted the story to her mother, she had doubts about refusing Mr. Jennings.  However, she would not settle for anything less than love.  Marianne knew this deep in her heart, but unless she worked to keep it at the forefront of her mind, she might be tempted to doubt her own sanity. - p. 362

What I Liked:
  • Although William Jennings was a turd in the beginning of the novel, I am pleased that human compassion took over to make him less turd-like.
  • Yes, the outcome of the story is predictable, but how they got there wasn't.  Not to spoil it for anyone, but this book should have been called The Proposals.  It was a mess.
  • Unlike the last Lori Wick series I read, none of the main female characters in this novel were airheads.  Quite refreshing after my last experience.
  • Plain and simple, I loved the children in this story.  No, they were not perfect by any stretch, but their interactions were a delight.
  • Though all the characters were well-to-do, there was no ostentation presented.  Yes, they were wealthy, but the extravagance wasn't the focus.  The female who marries in the novel didn't have to for financial reasons; her family was very well off.  She found real love, not convenient love.
What I didn’t like: 
  • The jump from curiosity to love was a little forced.  It didn't seem that the characters knew enough about each other to fall in love so quickly.  It went from "I need someone to take my last name and nanny my children." to "I love you and can't live without you." way too abruptly.
  • Lydia didn't have her baby, so we don't know what it is.  The poor woman is left pregnant until I have time to start the second novel.
  • It was confusing to have some of the male characters referred to by their last names. 
  • How many times is Penny going to have to pee to get through a chapter?  I know she's little, but good grief.  It was funny the first couple of times, but come on...
  • It bothered me that the story depicted a single woman accompanying a single man on an extended trip.  In that time frame, would that have not been thought of as scandalous?  Yet, her parents readily agreed.  That doesn't seem to fit, Christians or not, separate rooms or not.
Takeaway:  A splendid start to another series.  I hope the rest are just as good, if not better.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Five Minute Friday: "Purpose"


On purpose.
Live with purpose.
Purpose driven.
Purpose statement.
Accidently on purpose.

According to the Catechism, the chief end, or purpose, of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.  More than ever, I want to fulfill that purpose.

I said I want to, but I don't think I can, no matter how hard I try.

Quite honestly, I can't see the purpose of my life as an example to everyone on how not to live, though that's what it feels like.  What would be the point of that?  Yes, I know that Zig Ziglar said "Some of us learn from other people's mistakes and the rest of us have to be the other people."  I'm tired of being the other people.

Sorry to sound so pessimistic (no, I'm not going to apologize for not lying), but I'm getting old, y'all.  And this continued existence of not knowing my true calling and purpose in life is getting old too.  I'm done with everything being up in the air and hanging by a thread all the time.  I tired of feeling like I'm in God's will one moment, but not in the next.  Cat and mouse is not my game.

Is it really possible to know my purpose, or must I continue to stumble in the dark?
-----
Prompts provided by Mrs. Kate over at Heading Home.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Watching Paint Dry: The Weekly Hodgeodge


Join the fun! 
Come on over to 
for the Hodgepodge link-up!
"Slow and steady wins the race"...tell us about a time this was true in your own life.
 
Um...like...never.  My opinion is; anyone who says "slow and steady wins the race" has never seen NASCAAR.  Last week's Five Minute Friday was on the subject of slowness.  Slow and steady is why I'm postponing running any 5ks until April when, hopefully, I'll have built up some decent speed.  Last year's running season was fun and I actually medaled a few times.  However, I had the misfortune of being ridiculed and shamed by race volunteers for being last and taking (in their opinion) too long to finish. No more and no thank you.

"As slow as molasses"...Do you like molasses? How about maple syrup? Caramel? Butterscotch? What's your favorite of the slow moving treats mentioned here, and what's your favorite food made with that sweet treat? 

I like caramel and butterscotch,  I have a recipe for homemade German chocolate cake with caramel coconut icing that is delicious.  Werther's Originals and the inexpensive candy disks are my favorite butterscotch treats.  I've not had real maple syrup, so I don't know what it tastes like.  I made a cookie recipe with molasses once and I wasn't impressed.  Not sure if it was my cooking or the recipe.
 
Your favorite slow song? 



Your favorite thing to make in a slow cooker or crock pot?

Vegetable soup.  My only prep is to open some cans and cut up an onion.  All the ingredients go in the Crock Pot on high overnight.  The next morning voila!  Soup for days.

"You may delay, but time will not." ~Benjamin Franklin.  Are you more a hurrier or a delayer when it comes to unpleasant tasks that need doing? What are you currently either delaying or hurrying to get through this week or month?

I usually try to get unpleasant tasks done.  It's the pleasant tasks I tend to delay.  For some reason, I have to give myself permission to enjoy something.  Yeah, weird I know, but it's me.  What did you expect?

Tell us three things you encounter regularly or even just occasionally that you find to be annoyingly slow.
 
Wal-Mart lines. Why the Sam Hill do they build so many check out counters, then never use them all until two days before Christmas?  That doesn't even make horse sense.
 
Weight loss.  Ugh!  That is all.
 
Change.  Why is it so easy for society to completely screw things up at lightning speed, but it takes decades to correct anything?

March is National Craft Month. Are you crafty? Tell us about something crafty you'll try in the next thirty one days. Or something crafty you'd like to try or wish you had the skill to make happen. 

Yes, I'm quite crafty. 

Here's where I insert a shameless plug for my art blog Auntie's Workshop

Anyway...

Although I've been painting for years, I've always wanted to take a Bob Ross painting class to learn his technique.  They periodically offer classes at our local Hobby Lobby.  I have some reservations about taking the course.  First off, the price.  It's one class, but it costs $50...well $65 since I'll have to rent the supplies.  Yes, it's stupid.  If I had all the Bob Ross stuff, I wouldn't be taking the class

This weekend, some ladies from Anniston Runners Club are going to a painting party at Paintology 101 on the Square in JackVegas.  I don't know how to describe it other than the goal is to have fun creating a painting in a couple of hours with acrylic paint.  I've had a bad experience with places like this before, but I'll give it a try since it's not that expensive.  I'll let y'all know how it goes.

I've also got a crochet project I hope to finish in the next few days.

Insert your own random thought here. 

Well, I've been sleeping well the past couple of nights.  Praise the Lord.  I hope this marks the end of the insomnia.  I did try Melatonin, but it didn't work at all.  My internet research on the subject revealed that certain vitamin deficiencies can cause insomnia, so I went back to taking a daily vitamin/mineral.  Whatever works. 

This months walking/running mileage was lower than last month.  I got in 51 miles--a very good number considering how much many workouts I missed fighting extreme exhaustion from not sleeping. 

March is a new month with new miles and new adventures.