Tuesday, April 28


Evan has written another chapter in Adventures in Ardenhail. It's an interesting read, so if you want, click on the link and start at chapter one.

Sarah's husband, Scott, called me last night to let me know he had read some of my Conversations with Sarah. At first I was concerned that he was mad at me, but my fears were quickly turned aside when I realized how hard he was laughing. He reminded me of a few old conversations which will be appearing in the next few weeks, much to the chagrin of my dearest friend, I'm sure. Washington Monument, here we come!!

I love you, Sarah!!

The dewberries are starting to turn, so I predict many, many cuts and stains on my hands in the upcoming weeks. I can't wait to make more jam and cobbler and syrup, just like we made last year. It was so much fun, and we just ran out of the syrup about a month ago. This year, I know that I need to make twice as much of everything, especially since the last freeze we had killed off most of the Hill Country peaches for the season. (Insert Brea sobbing hysterically upon hearing the news)

My gardens are doing really well; I love watching the way everything grows. We've had so much rain in the last month or two that the whole county is wigging out. Not enough rain to bring us out of the drought, but at least enough that I'm far less concerned than normal about my house burning to the ground.

And we're still waiting for the kids to come down with the chicken pox. It should be any day now; David even has a few suspicious spots on his belly that I'm watching very closely. Yay!!

And now for something completely different:

I'm off to take a bath. In the middle of the day. Because John is reading The Hobbit to the kids. And because I can.

So there.

Monday, April 27

Conversations with Sarah

(phone rings)

Brea: Hi Sarah!

Sarah: Hey, can I have some of the dandelion wine you're going to make?

B: How'd you know about that?

S: I read it on (cute drummer from high school)'s wall on FaceBook.

B: Oh. Yeah, I'm making it sometime soon, and I'll mail you a bottle when it's ready in 6 months.

S: How do you make dandelion wine anyway?

B: You take the blossoms, and ...

S: Wait, you make it from the flowers? Like, real dandelions? But that's a plant!

B: Yeah, Sarah. It's a plant. Regular wine is made from grapes. Guess what those are.

S: Um, plants.

B: And those peppers you put in your soup?

S: Plants.

B: And wheat for flour for bread? Guess what wheat is.

S: Yeah, it's a plant. Ok, ok, I get it.

B: I could go on.

S: I know. I said I get it.

B: Ok, then. Just trying to help you out here.


Tuesday, April 14

Amazing Pizza

I got this recipe from Debbie King. Anything that goes over well with 10 kids, enough to make an appearance on the table each week, immediately is ok in my book. I modified it a bit, because I seem to be utterly incapable of following a recipe as its written ... We have this pizza at least once a week, usually on Friday Pizza and Movie Night, but it also doubles really, really well and we have it often when company with kids comes over. Involve the whole family, and get ready for a fun, tasty, and healthy night!

by Brea, modified from Debbie King

makes one extra-large pizza, or two medium pizzas

4 c white whole wheat flour
4 t yeast
1 1/2 t gluten*
2 T brown sugar
1 t salt
1 3/4 c warm water
garlic, basil, oregano, parsley, Parmesan cheese, and/or whatever pizza-y flavors you like**
olive oil
sauce, cheese, and toppings

Preheat oven to its lowest setting, usually 170 or 150. Toss everything in your mixer with your dough hook attachment, and start mixing. When the dough starts to pull in the flour, but there's still some left at the bottom of the bowl, start adding the olive oil one T at a time, until it's all incorporated and slightly sticky, but can still be kneaded with the dough hook without making a huge mess. Knead in the bowl with the hook for a few more minutes, then take off the bowl and drizzle more olive oil on the dough, turning to coat. Cover with a dish towel, and put it in the warm oven for about 20 minutes.

Let it rise, then take it out, turn your oven to 400 (if you have a convection, turn on that function), dump the dough on the counter, knead two or three times, and start rolling it out. When the dough starts to stick, start tossing small handfuls of cornmeal on the dough and counter to keep it from sticking and tearing. Slide it onto your pizza pan, fold the crust at the edges should you be so inclined, and poke the bottom all over with a fork so it doesn't have huge air bubbles when you pre-bake it. Please trust me on this step.

Put it back in your oven at 400 until the crust just starts to change color, and isn't doughy anymore. Take it out, top with anything you like to use***, and put it back in the oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly. (Start out using less cheese than you think you're going to need.) Slice it and enjoy with a cold beer or glass of lemonade, and a fresh-picked green salad!

*If you don't have gluten available like SOME PEOPLE I KNOW WHO LIVE IN OHIO, you can reduce the whole-wheat flour by 1/2 c, and add 1/2 c bread flour.

**I usually add, in an ever-so-precise manner, a few shakes of garlic powder and several shakes of basil. I like to keep it simple.

***Some topping suggestions: green pepper, red peppers, roasted red peppers, banana peppers (are we starting to see a pepper-obsessed trend at Brea's house?), pineapples, pepperoni, portabella mushrooms, sliced grilled chicken, black olives, fresh sliced tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil, spinach, bell peppers, bacon, ham, anchovies, peanut butter ... whatever you like. That's the great thing about homemade pizza ... it's full of endless possibilities!

Saturday, April 11

it's bad ... it's really bad

What do you get when you push a piano down a mine shaft?

(I'm so sorry about this.)

A-flat minor.

(Get it??? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! Ohhhhh, I loves me some really bad jokes. Seriously.)

Still Alive ...

I'm still here. Just been a tad busy.

We were talking at Bible Study the other morning, and a friend made the comment that Satan is awfully subtle, and one of his sneakiest tricks (in our humble opinion) is isolation. Especially for a woman. Especially for a mom.

I've been working on the isolation thing. No so much with myself; I'm a fairly social person, and loneliness isn't one (of the many things) I tend to have consistent struggles with. But I know other who do, and who are struggling right now. Interweb peeps, you can't grow if you don't let people in your lives. It might be painful and honestly, quite scary, to confide your struggles, but it's so very, very important. Try it. You'll be amazed what happens. God is so very, very good.

Christ told us repeatedly to get over ourselves and put others first. (And yeah, in case you're wondering, that was a paraphrase. I don't know that Jesus ever said, 'Get over yourself,' verbatim.) One of the best ways we can show His love is not through saying how much we love others, although that is a great thing to do. The best way to show His love is to show His love. Helping others. Taking a meal to a tired family, helping an incredibly overwhelmed friend unpack, watching a few extra kids, being an open ear with open arms. Letting someone borrow your Twilight books to help them have an escape for a little while.

So that's where I've been. Getting over myself, trying to learn that life really isn't about me, learning that I ought not talk quite so much about myself, and getting out there.

So. I'll leave you with three things, and the promise of (hopefully) slightly more frequent posts.

1) Every. single. one. of. you. needs to go out and buy Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. Trust me on this one. Would I lead you astray when it comes to a book? I think not.

2) Check out Evan's blog. He's the son of a friend at church, and he's also a friend. He loves lit almost as much as moi, so I do like him quite a bit (even if he is going to A&M this fall. Gasp!!). His blog is new, so there's not much on there yet, but it's worth taking a visit. Tell him you came from over here if you leave him a comment.

3) HAPPY EASTER!!!!!!!!! I hope everyone has a wonderful and blessed day filled with reverent celebration, good food, and lots of family and friends. (And pray for me. At last count, we're expecting around 20 people including us, and the weather is supposed to be crap. Where am I going to put everyone?? Oh, well, I'll figure it out somehow ...)