wocket in my pocket

Looking for the unexpected in the mundane.

Give-away, Just Because

I appreciate you, every single one of you who take time to read my stuff that I have the temerity to put out there. I haven’t figured out blogging yet, whether it really is a good thing or a rather dubious platform for narcissism. E. B. White said, “To air one’s opinions freely is to imply that the demand for them is brisk.” Dear, oh dear, but what would he say to bloggers?

One thing I like is the feeling of connectedness with others. I like when I hear from another person who has walked in my shoes and made it; I feel grateful when something I write gives courage to another who is just stepping into what I described. Feeling all alone is, to me, the worst of the human condition. That is where I see the merit of the modern blog and the comments upon it. (Haha. You saw that coming, didn’t you?)

I have been writing for years, but it was nearly all private. I never knew how much fun it is to get feed back from readers. Recently I went on a scarf making spree with that ruffly yarn that one sees all over the place. It was so easy that I made three in a row and I decided that I want to give one away, just because I appreciate you. It isn’t complicated. Just that. Thanks for reading.

And in order to win the scarf, you have to comment. 😀 Tell me one thing about yourself that isn’t obvious to the casual observer. Of course, you could just say that you want it, or you want to give it away to someone, but that wouldn’t be quite as much fun, now would it?

My photographer was my seven year old, so we had a funny little trial and error photo shoot.

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Oops, sorry Mama. I kind of cut off your head. (But that is the scarf.)

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Oops. Giggle. I kind of did it again.

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Uh-oh. Shall we try again?

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Well, here we are, closer up. It’s a medley of colors, so it goes with almost anything.

I will choose a winner next Saturday and send the scarf out in plenty of time for Christmas. (And I am dreadfully sorry, but I want to keep the postage in the USA. If a resident of another country wins, I will gladly ship to a friend or relative.)

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If You’re Not Happy and You Know It

Last week the children and I made turkeys and wrote things we are thankful for on their tail feathers, that perennial craft for this time of year. They did all the family, home, friends, food, stuff. My list is a bit more off the wall, but sincere.

I have been pep talking myself for a few days, over the persistent blue-ish awareness that life is much too complicated and full of trouble, that I am likely past my prime and still haven’t learned so many elementary things, etc. You know, blah blah, and here I am raking leaves two days before Thanksgiving because I hadn’t gotten them done yet, and why does the soup taste funny, and will I live with this headache the rest of my life?

I don’t know what you do when this happens but usually I read something inspirational and listen to the wisdom of ages when it comes to life and praise and prosperity. Yesterday I read Psalm 104, 105, and when I got to 106 I told God that I am sorry for not feeling thankful, but I will just move on out of my self absorbed funk and make French toast for my family.

This morning between the hours of 3:50 when Addy needed help to find the bathroom and 4:50 when Gabe’s alarm buzzed, I lay sleepless and felt the cares pulling me under again, including the nagging headache. This time I decided to listen to Genesis on audio, because I needed continuity, to see a bigger picture unroll with a Plan and a Wise Provider behind the affairs of man.

As I listened from “and God said it was very good” all the way through the blight of sin and the time when man wanted only evil continually, I saw the thread of patience, of persistent, outrageous, redeeming love. What really got me was the genealogies. Centuries and centuries of people and who am I but one little teeny mention in time. It cheered me up immensely to step away from my assignments and look up to the Faithfulness that goes on forever.

I got permission to stop taking myself so seriously, if that makes any sense. I am not shucking off my responsibilities, but neither am I responsible for the outcome of my faithfulness. He is the One who starts and finishes our faith, our life, our work. Today I start with that on the top of my list of thankfulness.

Next to that is gratefulness for Advil for Migraine. Who knew that taking it on an empty stomach would produce such a pleasant sort of buzzy feeling?

We are getting our first snow and the children are tickled beyond delight. I over- provided snow pants in my thrift store shopping this summer, so they each have at least one pair without holes and an extra when that one gets wet. In my entire childhood, I didn’t have a single pair of proper snow pants. Maybe that is why I buy them whenever I see them cheap.

I have Southern Pecan flavored coffee to drink this morning. With real cream.

We don’t have to go anywhere today and there is boxed mac n cheese with corn dogs on the menu for the beginning cook to prep on his own. And broccoli, just in case you were feeling sorry about our vitamin-less state.

I will be cooking up salted caramel for sauce on the Thanksgiving dessert. Or for in coffee. Or even just to sneak by the surreptitious spoonful.

My oldest son no longer asks for complicated birthday cakes. Just so they taste good. Yay for 12! I am going to see what he thinks about carrot cake with fresh ginger.

Dredging down real deep, I find that I am even thankful for the 28 hours of overtime my husband had in a two week pay period. He has steady work, and he hasn’t had to wear the ebola suit that they spent so much time practicing to put on properly.

Last but not least, I do not have to live 969 years, like Methuselah. Hallelujah! (and a shout-out to Max McLean for reading genealogies without a single stumble over all those odd names.)

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Processing Sad

Last Sunday we brought home new friends from church to share our lunch. We had a lovely afternoon, getting acquainted, watching our little girls play with their little girl and laughing about Addy and their three-year-old son who sturdily climbed up to the top of our ridge with the older boys… after we got over our fright at not being able to find them, of course.

We parted with comments about wanting to get together again. Yesterday I heard that the little girl, Jackie, went to Jesus after a frighteningly short battle with pneumonia. My mind refuses to accept that this could happen. I can think of so many reasons why she should have lived. But she is gone and we are left shocked and stricken.

My first impulse is to clutch obsessively at my dear ones, something I have battled with a lot in the past. Once more I have to come to the place of knowing that our children are safest when we leave them in the hands of Jesus.

The second impulse is to wail out the questioning WHY?

One side of me thinks of wispy-haired little girls sitting around the table and drawing crayon pictures of rainbows and butterflies and flowers after Sunday lunch. I watch them put their shaky five-year-old signatures on their perceptions of innocent happiness. While I rejoice to think that sweet Jackie can never be touched with the brokenness of this world again, yet I am desperately sad that she didn’t get to grow up. It feels so unfair that her devoted parents have to walk through this dark valley.

Last week Gabriel read us the story of David who fasted and pled with God for seven days for the life of his infant son. I marveled with the servants who watched David get up after his son died. They saw him wash and change his clothes and go to worship, and they asked, “What is going on?” David replied with those words of faith, “Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” 2 Samuel 12

I have no way to process tragedy except through the eyes of faith, and even that grows pretty dim at times. When Hebrews 11 says that faith is the “conviction of a reality that we do not see, perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses,” (amplified Bible) I think, “No kidding!”

Yet I believe that there is something going on that is adding to a weight of glory somewhere, “as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2Corinthians 4:18) We are not asked to understand. We are asked to believe.

Oh, Jesus, in the sorrows of this world, give me eyes of faith!

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Hiker Bars on a Budget

This fall I had a brain wave after I was once again disgruntled by the ickiness of a cheap granola bar, contents: oats, corn syrup, preservatives. If it is just you going hiking, you can go buy all the Clif Bars you want, but for a family of seven, this would be about the price of crowd-sized beef roast, and that isn’t how we roll around here. We love homemade granola bars, but I was wanting something not sticky, more in the line of a power bar with lots of protein. I needed it to be portable when we do outdoor sports. I needed it to be reasonably affordable. I needed it to be easy, because otherwise it wasn’t going to happen.

My idea was to combine homemade energy bites with a granola bar recipe. We loved them, but they were too crumbly to be practical except straight out of the freezer. Then the brain wave hit… why not get some quality dark chocolate and coat them, then wrap them individually, just like power bars? Now we were in business. May I introduce you to Hiker Bars on  a Budget, our not so top secret recipe that we made up all by ourselves. 🙂

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Combine in a saucepan and stir together over low heat until melted:

½ cup peanut butter

⅓ cup coconut oil

⅓ cup honey

Stir into this mixture:

1 cup rolled oats (we toasted them for 10 minutes, then chopped them up in a food mill)

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 scoop protein powder, vanilla flavored

2 Tb. chia seeds or flax seeds/meal   (You could use more. Some of my people think seeds annoy their teeth so I go light on them.)

½ cup of any combination of chopped nuts, sunflower seeds, dried fruits, etc. Here is where I go with chopped walnuts.

a dash of sea salt and a splash of vanilla

Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper then press the mixture into the pan with a spatula. Pop it into the freezer for about an hour so that it sets firmly enough to lift out of the pan. Cut into desired size with a sharp knife. I make 18 bars out of one pan.

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Use a double boiler to melt dark chocolate coating wafers (an 11 oz bag is ample, but you can stretch your chocolate with food grade paraffin that will also make the chocolate dry harder) then dip the pieces in it to cover the bar all around. (Keep them frozen until you are ready for this step, or you will have them disintegrating in the molten chocolate, which is not the worst thing that could happen, but just not what you are wishing for at the moment.) You don’t need more than a thin layer to hold it all together, but when you are expending a lot of energy and starving, nobody cares about 50 extra calories. Honesty compels me to say that these photos are milk chocolate and it was thicker than necessary. (Yum.) But the dark is the best.

Once the chocolate has hardened, wrap the individual pieces in parchment paper and store them in the freezer or they will definitely be all scarfed up long before the hike you are planning.

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This is not a low calorie food. For that you need celery, or you could just step off the trail and find some birch twigs to chew. According to Calorie Count, there are about 164 calories in one bar without the chocolate. They are small bars, which was the point. They don’t take up much room and they are nutrient dense. This is a power food, easily made, stored and transported in a backpack. These bars will cause the frisbee to fly higher and the bikes to pedal easier, but should not be given to children in low-key-let’s-all-just-play-go-fish-while-we-wait situations.

I have tried these with a number of variations. Gabe and Alex don’t like the sun butter ones. Once I tried sucanat to sweeten them because I was out of honey, but it was too dry and I ended up adding more goopy stuff. Gregory and I agree that any granola-ish stuff held together with nut butter and wrapped in chocolate is fine, just fine.

By my calculations, I can make a batch for less than  5 dollars. Of course, there is the time factor, but I have lots of that. 😉

Try them and tell me what you think. Better yet, add some original ingredients and tell us about them.

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