Tuesday, May 31, 2011
In an effort to use the rest of the batter from my third attempt (and having had it with the cute pan), I made mini-cupcakes in a pan I already had. After I took that batch out, I had a brainstorm--slice off the little cupcake tops, turn them over, and decortate them as little mini-cakes! I quickly whipped up a batch of devils food cake batter and churned out four more dozen mini-cakes.
Saturday morning I had a devil of a time figuring out how to decorate the little things, but J saved the day with a quick trip to Kroger for sprinkles (did I mention he made a trip to Wal-Mart late Friday night for Pam and other non-stick sprays?). Here's the end result: mini-cakes glazed in royal icing, then topped with a bit more royal icing and a spattering of sprinkles. How cute are these??
Monday, May 30, 2011
In other bathroom related news, the artwork for above the toilet is at the framing shop and will be ready to pick up next week. I've been back and forth on whether to hang a print we bought in San Francisco six years ago or to put up glass shelves in that space. When I couldn't find shelf brackets I could live with for less than $50 per shelf (and of course I wanted two or three), not to mention that I didn't find any I really liked, I decided maybe it was a sign. Since the print we're hanging is pretty much a sunk cost at this point, I just needed to find a framing option that cost less than the shelves to make it worthwhile. Thanks to a half price sale on a frame (and one already with glass in it, too!), I've managed to get the artwork done for $50 total!
We're almost there!
Sunday, May 29, 2011
This morning, our priest's sermon addressed security blankets and items we use to bring comfort. I don't think I ever had a security blanket (a la Linus' blanket) per se, but I did have Bawlmer, a teddy bear I received for Christmas when I was five or so. I didn't go anywhere for long periods of time without Bawlmer (the hospital when I had surgery in eighth grade, the camp where I was a counselor, college, etc.), but I don't remember taking him with me everywhere. Something I found interesting was a study Fr. Johnnie mentioned--one that found that children with security items were more confident, more likely to speak their minds than those who didn't have a security item. Today, Bawlmer still has a place of honor in our guest room (I finally moved him off my bed when I got married). Did you have a security blanket (or other item)? What was it? Do you have it still?
In another flashback to childhood, the tendonitis in my wrist and hand that started in eighth grade reared it's painfully ugly head again today. For the back story, one afternoon in eighth grade, my friends and I were practicing hurdles at track practice. I am not sure why I was, as I was never terribly good at them, but my brothers were hurdlers and I guess I thought I should be, too. Well, apparently I shouldn't have been. My girlfriends from college can confirm I am not the most graceful person and I managed to trip over one of the hurdles. I caught most of my weight with my right hand, and sprained it pretty badly. Periodically since then, if I overuse that hand (like painting a room by myself) it will flair up a bit and be particularly bothersome for a couple of days. Recently, the pain has been more frequent (though still no more often than a few times a year), but this time I don't even know what set it off. I do know that the firm handshakes during the passing of the Peace this morning did nothing to help! :)
Finally, I'm almost embarassed to admit this, but I recently rediscovered the awesomeness that is our public library system! I used the local branch of our library often in grad school, but I guess I had not visited in several years. One day last week I decided to drop by the branch closest to our house. There are a couple of books out that I'd like to read but would prefer not to buy, and I've not really warmed to the electronic book craze. First, I needed a lesson in the card catalog system (entirely on-line, not a wooden case in sight). Then once I'd mastered that system and gone in search of my books, I had to go to a different computer to register for a library card. At a third computer I checked my books out and was on my way. What a difference from the old way! The best part of the system is that I can go online and reserve books. When they become available, the library will send me an email, and I can grab them from the hold shelf just inside the doors at my convenience. This may not be news to most of you, but I am thrilled with my "new" discovery. This morning, I finished the second of the books I checked out and went online to reserve several more!
Have a great week!
Saturday, May 28, 2011
I intercede. He protests that two against one is not square, until I remind him that, by the very rules of the game, he will win in the end and, as such, it is only sporting to let JE win some battles along the way, by hook or by crook.
After that, you just add the sauce (make your own. Seriously, it's cheap and easy. Just simmer some diced tomatoes, some tomato paste and some tomato sauce and add seasonings as you like.) and toppings. Then pop it back in the oven for around 5 minutes under the broiler.
Friday, May 27, 2011
Thursday, May 26, 2011
I'm thankful, too, for husbands (well, a certain husband) who take the grocery budget to heart and find more affordable options (which left enough change to pick up roses for the kitchen table this week, too!). It's been years since I was in a grocery store as small as Aldi, but it felt good to get almost as many groceries for half the price!
Finally, I'm thankful for friends and co-workers who give me the opportunity to practice my baking/decorating. May has been a busy month for cakes and I have two more opportunities to share this talent this weekend!
What are you thankful for this week?
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Whole Foods recipe for the cake and Gluten Free Mommy's recipe for the frosting. Below, I've listed the recipes and instructions for both (how I did them) along with pictures! Believe me when I tell you that this was an incredibly easy, incredibly delicious cake to make. If you are looking for a gluten-free option, or just a fabulously rich chocolate cake, I definitely recommend this one!
Cake (from Whole Foods)--Note that this recipe is for one 8 inch layer. I mixed the batter for each layer seperately.
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
Prepared cake pan: Cut a piece of waxed paper to the size of your cake pan. Place circle in the bottom of pan and Pam (or some other cooking spray) the entire pan. Whole Foods recommended a springform pan, but I just used a regular cake 8 inch round cake pan and it was fine.
Pour batter into prepared cake pan.
2 cups heavy cream
6 tablespoons confectioners sugar
Monday, May 23, 2011
So here is the hole we're looking to turn into a light fixture:
And these are the fixtures we're looking to accomodate (bad lighting/iPhone camera usage has the colors all off, but they do actually match in person):
The towel bars--
The sink faucet (a little on the modern side in terms of what we're looking for, but the finish was right)--
The drawer pulls on our vanity--
So there you have it. Please help!!
Sunday, May 22, 2011
J can tell you that I often mis-judge how long it will take me to get things done, so I deliberately made a short list for Saturday. Even with a short list, making time to load pictures and write a blog post just didn't make it in.
We spent our Saturday evening at two birthday parties (one for an adorable five year old and on for the friend who received the cake), and didn't get home until midnight. After church and a long afternoon at work, we headed out to a birthday dinner tonight, so I'm completely wiped. I think that means that MP Monday's post may be late in the morning, too...
I hope you had a great weekend!
Saturday, May 21, 2011
P.S. I realized as I started this post that yesterday marked our 250th post here at the MP. Woohoo! Hard to believe that 150 of those have been since October (when we marked 100 posts).
Friday, May 20, 2011
The other three (or four) weeks out of the month need to be filled with something, too, though. So, if I've been reading the stats tab correctly, we seem to have about 15-20 regular readers. I'm counting on you guys to help us decide. You are, after all, the reason we're writing this blog--to share and inform someone.
So. These are two ideas I've come up with. Let me know what you think. Do you like these ideas? Would you read posts about them and share them with others? Which do you prefer? If you don't like either, what do you want to read about on Fridays? (Remember, I really like the topic name to somehow tie in with the day of the week--see the other daily topics at the top of this blog.)
Idea One: Playing off of Furnishing Fridays--Family History Fridays--will dig for some family stories. We have a binder of information the J's grandmother shared with us, and I really need to spend more time nagging my grandmothers for some good dirt, so I think this could be pretty interesting.
Idea Two: Totally unrelated, but potentially useful for J and me--Physio Fridays--will chronicle where we are in terms of our health. J blogged on Sunday about his running and the fact that we (well, he talked about himself, but we both are) are overweight. We think this might bring about a bit of accountability for us to report in regularly on our progress to become heathier people.
Click on the little grey comments link below and tell us what you think!
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
|Crazy blurry because a. I used my iPhone and b. the wind kept blowing the flowers around. Sorry.|
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
I'm not a terribly exciting person to be around when I 'go green'. I know this, and I generally try to mask it as best I can (because really, if I'm green for too long, even I don't care to be around myself). But I realized this weekend that my green tendencies are a real talent. If you want to know the rules to a game, I'm your girl. Same thing with knowing how things work (I'm a fan of reading the instruction manuals, as well as a fan of the show "How It's Made"). And seriously, I think I could teach a course in Excel (2000...I've not had the opportunity to become familiar with 2007). Today, when a friend asked me to think about ideas for a cake that will be served more than four months from now, I immediately put together a sketch and sent it off for approval. More times than I can count, I've irritated my best friends from college by pointing out that there may have been some rule-breaking going on (sometimes from the legal perspective, sometimes just the rules that have evolved over the almost fourteen years of our friendship). These quirks make me resistant to change and slow to adapt, but doesn't that also mean I am reliable and consistent? I think that's a talent, and I'm glad it is one I have.
Monday, May 16, 2011
J and I are water-drinkers. For years, that has meant we are bottled-water drinkers, since I'm a little picky and prefer my water be of the well-chilled variety rather than straight out of the tap. Now, I don't know if you've priced bottled water lately, but it isn't exactly cheap. In addition, the idea that we were constantly throwing away plastic bottles didn't set well with us. So, we decided to look into other options.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Hello all, J. here. JE is not tired, and might have already posted an entirely separate item for today. This post is not me trying to help her out. Rather, it’s me trying to work something out, specifically, what is the place of anger in the life of a follower of Christ? (If you don’t want to read ramblings, perhaps you should move on. I understand. Really. Perhaps you would prefer some of our lovely posts regarding the bathroom? Otherwise, let’s proceed to the caveats.)
Now. Let me start by being completely up front. I am not a biblical scholar by any means. As a child, I had a great illustrated Bible (in essence, a Bible comic book), and my retained knowledge of the Bible finds its genesis (see what I did there?) more from that version than I should admit. I have read the entire Bible (non-illustrated) once and various parts many times. That said, I do not read Greek/original versions, I have no historic context in which to place subtle elements and am generally just relying on my own comprehension of the words on the bare page. So any Bible references I make should be taken with a grain of salt and the knowledge that I am ignorant rather than trying to twist passages to fit an agenda.
So, you ask, “Why does someone who has incredibly little knowledge of the Bible desire to walk around in the deep end, just asking to drown in things of which he does not know?”
Hi. I’m Jonathon Melton. Do you know me? Srsly. This is what I do. I generally find that by walking around asking people about stuff I don’t know (typically in a sarcastic/annoying way), I eventually, sometimes painfully, learn just enough to be dangerous. ( But not in a Sarah Palin way. More in a “failed Jeopardy contestant” way.)
Also, I do not deal with anger well. I tell people I know this, and many of them do not understand. But as my wife, Derrick, James, Carter, my Dad and likely my sisters can attest, when I allow myself to get angry, it gets ludicrous pretty fast.
My dad probably understands this best. He’s got the same problem. I, depending on your perspective, learned/inherited it from him. For him, once he’s angry, he isn’t looking to calm down. A part of him, likely the largest part of him, is looking to ESCALATE the situation. You see, at that point, the anger is like a drug. The adrenaline, etc. just makes you feel so powerful, etc. that you just want more of it.
At that point, I actively LOOK for reasons to increase my anger, even twisting your words to make anything you say an attack against me. And I’m pretty good at it. I’ve best described the resulting mental state as “I will cut off my own arm, even if I can’t beat you with it. I’ll cut off my own arm just in the hopes that I can bleed on you.” In some perverted reality it even makes sense-- if I can destroy me and you, I’m still winning, because, in that mental state, I am convinced that I will be able to recover faster than you will.
Now, the problem with this is, after years of disavowing God, I’ve come to accept that faith is one aspect of human conception of reality (That is a long story that I will share with you if you ever want to hear it, but it’s outside the scope of this post.). And my faith is as a follower of Jesus Christ. Yes, that Jesus Christ. The guy who, despite being divine and souped up on omnipotence, allowed himself to be sacrificed for the sins of us all. The guy who, at least in one gospel, asked for the forgiveness of his persecutors, “as they know not what they do.”
Notwithstanding this obvious contradiction, anger obviously has a part to play in the human experience. I happened on this today, while running. Now, I don’t run easily. I am what some would call “efficient,” but most others would call “lazy.” Nevertheless, my “efficiency” has left me with a “surplus” of “food energy” stored on my person. As Dr. Hiter (JE’s dad) points out, this would be a plus if a famine were around the corner, as my ancestors obviously PWNED during famine conditions and passed on their genetic gifts for dealing with such circumstances to me. That said, I’ve been fat for a while, and the famine hasn’t happened yet. Thus, I have reluctantly started running. And I run faster and feel better when I listen to angry music and work myself into a (for me) mild anger while running. Say what?
So, how do I, as a follower of Christ, square being angry with my perception of God?
For me, I guess I think back to the only instance I can remember of Jesus getting mad—the money changers in the temple. Now, depending on the gospel, Jesus: (1) “drove out” the money changers, saying that his Father’s house is a house of prayer, not a den of thieves; (2) turned over tables and chairs and drove out the money changers, again making the house of prayers/den of thieves statement; or (3) drove out the money changers with a whip of cords, overturned chairs and tables and poured out coins, commanding that the traders not make his Father’s house a “house of trade.”
So. What do we make of this? Some people might say that the Bible was written after the fact, meaning that people might justify things that were done as “God’s will” (e.g. David killed Goliath. Rather than saying that maybe violence wasn’t the answer, you dress up the act of killing with God as a justification). And, this holds some appeal. God as human having a human moment of anger, permits God to experience how human failings begin. And for God to truly be among his people and experience it, wouldn’t he have to allow himself to be imperfect? From this perspective, anger takes the place among all human failings, another reason to be thankful for Jesus’ sacrifice, able to take comfort that even the Almighty lost his temper now and again.
While this vein holds some appeal, I can’t really wrap my mind around it. The logical contradiction of a perfect being allowing itself to be imperfect does not compute. By that I don't mean to say that it has to compute logically. I imagine that logic is no barrier to God. But it is a barrier to my understanding of how God would have me, a (relatively speaking) logical being, serve and worship him.
If Jesus’ actions were not a moment of imperfection, then anger must have some place in the life of a follower of Christ. But to stop there misses the nuance, perhaps.
At the temple, Jesus’ anger is not the intoxicating anger that I describe in myself. Rather, it seems to have been more of a protective anger. And, as we learn in the immediately following scriptures, Jesus expelled the merchants at a time when the chief priests and scribes were already seeking to destroy him, and the expulsion of the merchants likely increased their desire. For a person who knows what’s coming, knows of the desires of the priests and, is maybe experiencing the beginnings of the sorrow described at Gethsemane, moving against the money changers might be something you’d be willing to let slide. I mean, right after he throws out the money changers, Jesus goes and heals the sick. Wouldn’t it have been easier to just let the money changers do their thing and focus on healing the sick? Wouldn’t a rational person, mind unclouded by anger, decide that there are some battles you just don’t pick?
But Jesus, angry—by John’s account, as we’d say back home, FIRED UP—is motivated to act for the glory of God. He doesn’t hurt anyone (although he might threaten it, depending on if John’s right about the whip and upon whom, the oxen or the money changers, he’s using it). He has a hissy, throwing tables and chairs and allows God’s house to be for prayer, not exploitation.
So, maybe, the place of anger in the life of a follower of Christ is to short circuit your logic, to give you the impetus to do right when it’s not convenient or in your interest, to stand against injustice when it’s not easy.
If so, the trick is to walk that line. It’s not about intoxication, feeling powerful or anything to do with you. It’s about loving God and your neighbor so much that you feel the wrong to them, or the injustice, and react to right it, even when it might be stupid to do so.
Or. Have I entirely missed the point?
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
What are you thankful for this week?
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
First, be sure you like your hinges. We changed out the metal of our fixtures, towel and shower curtain rods, even our swithplates, so it made sense to swap out the 1970's brass door hinges for satin nickel. This was a relatively easy swap, though it helps to take an old hinge (or at least a picture of it) with you to the store. There are several shapes/sizes of interior door hinge to choose from.
Then, measure your door. I did this by measuring the door frame in two places: first, the distance from the bottom of the lower hinge to the floor, and second, from the bottom of the door latch hole (totally not the official name...) to the floor. In theory, when you transfer those measurements to the door, you can draw a straight line across and trim the door at that line for a custom fit.
Third, cut your door. We actually tried to just sand the door down. We're working with ancient hollow-core doors and I didn't want to damage the hard wood spacer in the bottom of the door. This didn't work. Eventually, the jig saw had to come out. When you cut a door, particularly this kind, you should definitely tape the door to keep it from splintering. I did the first few times (see below for details on how many times...), but got lazy (frustrated? impatient?) towards the end and splintering occurred. Luckily, what I added didn't come close to the splintering already going on with this door (remember, it's old and we've no idea what the PO did to it), and we're planning to eventually replace it anyhow, so I didn't really mind too much.
I'm linking up with Beth's How-To party over at The Stories of A to Z today. Head over there for some fabulous tutorials!
Monday, May 9, 2011
Luckily, the MP has provided us plenty of time to read the book and plan our deck. You see, we need new gutters. As in, the snow and ice this winter gouged out a gap between the gutter and house, and the foot of rain we've received in the last month has done more damage than we can live with. So, while we want to use the money we saved all winter to replace the deck, we have to spend most of it on gutters (and the wood to hold them up) instead. Argh. MP Comedy Club, open for business.
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Saturday, May 7, 2011
Friday, May 6, 2011
We've got a bit of a problem with Furnishing Fridays. In a nutshell, there are more Fridays than the MP has furnishings (or at least furnishings with a story to share). So, for those of you familiar with our home, is there anything you'd like to know more about? I've got a few more items in mind for future posts, but I'm afraid that weekly Furnishing Friday posts just aren't something I can keep up for much longer.
What other ideas do you have for Friday themed posts?
Thursday, May 5, 2011
I'm thankful for our military (including my big brother) who didn't give up on their mission, and for the many Americans who remembered this week what it felt like almost ten years ago to stand together.
I'm thankful that J's wisdom teeth extraction went well, and that he has recovered quickly. I'm thankful, too, for modern medicine that provided the various pain pills, antibiotics, and decongestants that helped him through.
I'm thankful for new opportunities to learn and grow. I'll share details later, but for now I'm just thankful for possibilities.
What are you thankful for this week?
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
So for starters, you need a hole or two to patch. If you're reading this, you probably have one. Our bathroom had several. There were six from our numerous attempts to hang the shower curtain rod. There were also divets from my failed attempt at priming, gaps around the light switchplates (from apparently buying smaller "standard size" switchplates than the older "standard size" switchplates they used to have), and holes and weird lines from the old shelf and toilet paper holder that I just painted over about three years ago (and that have driven me nuts ever since). So we've established that I had lots of touch up work to do.
Some sort of spackling compound, a putty knife, sand-paper
1. Clean your wall. Just wipe it down so there is no dust/grease/random bits to get in the way.
|Outline of shelf, before patch|
2. Fill holes with spackling compound. Load you putty knife and swipe across the hole at a 45-degree angle to press the compound into the hole. Smooth over with another swipe of the putty knife.
|Four of the six 'wrong' holes. After taking this picture, I realized I needed to do that area in the bottom center, too.|
3. Let dry. I wandered around the house looking for more holes to fill while the bathroom patches dried. Give it 30 minutes or so. If you have a thick area of coverage, you might need to wait longer.
|The lighter white/blue area has been sanded. |
The rough part will be covered by the switchplate (and is pretty hard to sand).
4. Sand. No need for further explanation on that...
5. Paint. No need for further explanation there, either.
It's that easy! I'm linking up with Beth at The Stories of A to Z this week. Head on over to check out the other fabulous How To posts showcased there!
Monday, May 2, 2011
Order vanity top Seal floor Install base tile Install vanity/sink/faucet Install new shower curtain rod Buy/install new switchplate covers
- Put up shelves/artwork
Trim andinstall door Buy and install mirror Paint wall/ceiling Clean off pool table Call Stanley Steamer
- Install shelves and doors on cabinets
- Stain shelves
- Install countertop and shelves on cabinets
In the meantime, we're soliciting recommendations/comments on composite decking. Have you used any composite decking? What brand? What do you think about it?
Sunday, May 1, 2011
I hope you all enjoyed your May Day! I spent more of my day serving as nurse to J, who is coming along nicely in the whole wisdom teeth extraction recuperation thing. I feel so blessed that I was able to stay home with him these last three days (well, other than leaving for a bit this morning to teach my Sunday School class). I'm not generally a great caretaker, but he's been an awesome patient and has made my job easy. I'm a bit nervous about sending him off to work tomorrow, actually.