Friday, November 16, 2012

What'sa Girl To Do? It's A Long Story!

And so there are the "blingy" fashion blogs and the shelter blogs.  The blogs who are full of DIY or spiritual insight.  I've read blogs that describe themselves as mommy blogs or garden blogs. There are the blogs who air their laundry, dirty or not.  Some write political blogs and photography blogs...cooking blogs...decor blogs...advertising blogs and on and on it goes...business blogs, word blogs, coupon blogs, sales blogs and craft blogs, blogs blogs blogs.  Name one.  It's there. 
 
It's such a beautiful thing, this thing called blogging.
 
Then there are the "Blog Rules".  Rules? Yes, rules.  Everyone knows you are supposed to follow the rules.  If only you follow the 10 steps to successful blogging you will soon have a plethora of follower's comments and  rising rock star status.  I'm not denying the importance of any of this. You've read it too:  always remember why you have a blog, oh yeah, and um have plenty of high quality photos (sorry) and keep your words to a minimum (sorry again...at least with this posting)  set an appointment with your blog because your audience depends on it, stay true to your original intent for having a blog, develop a network and community, build friendships ( with random strangers around the world) globally, make sure your blog is eye catching, advertise...or is it no don't advertise (just kidding...the blogging community is all over the map on this one) know your audience, say what THEY want to hear not what YOU want to say (oops again), make sure it's pretty, interesting, entertaining, informative and the list continues.
 
So what are you supposed to do as a blogger (like in...me, myself and I) when you are random and busy and just simply like to blog, because you...simply like to blog?  And you don't necessarily have anything interesting to say or a fabulous life experience to relate or anything necessarily insightful, spiritual, pretty or yummy to show and tell? 
 
OK here goes. 
 
Are you ready for this? 
 
I have a blog because my niece who has blogged since blog time began (or for like 10ish years literally) told me I "needed" a blog and set it up, and then emailed me and said here it is, now blog!  So I waited 3 months and figured out how to write a post and have NEVER published my first blog entry.  Nope, probably never will either.
 
Then I waited 3 more months and thought,  "Hey, a blog would be a great place to sell stuff."  So I started writing blog posts and attempting to build an online boutique with items similar to the ones I sell locally in our Historical Downtown.  And I did sell some "stuff".  In the meantime other work opportunities came along that were more practical than selling "stuff".  One opportunity led to the next and since I started posting on my blog back in January 2008 I've gotten busier than I could have ever imagined.  I haven't been selling "stuff"  through my blog so my original reason for starting to blog literally fell by the wayside. 
 
Across these five years, I have realized that I miss blogging when life is too busy to keep up with personal, family and business demands and certainly doesn't allow time for blogging.  
 
A gentleman in his 80's whom our family admires recently told me, "Rachel, I hope you are writing, writing your story, somewhere besides your blog."  His comment took me back.  Sometimes in the silence there are thoughts and emotions that cannot be expressed adequately until those feelings give birth to words.  The birthing of words, if there really is such a thing, can be painful and labor intensive.  For I believe once a word is spoken or written it becomes an action, it takes wing and flits thither and yon, sometimes never landing and certainly never to be retrieved.  Once it leaves you, it is gone.  In a frightening sort of way your thoughts have been exposed, no longer in the shield of your internal embrace.  Yet there is freedom in expression when the thought brings words of light and encouragement. 
 
In reality I don't fit the "rules" I suppose.  But what's new?  I was taught to think deep thoughts and feel deeply.  I was taught to do the "right" thing whether it fit the "rules" or not.  I guess I'm just saying I don't fit into the polished plan of 10 steps to successful blogging and all that.  And that is OK.
 
I've lived long enough to learn that every life has dark chapters. Sometimes there is no way to fix it or make it pretty, and I like talking to you, so when I can come out onto the porch long enough to chat and have a little visit, that's exactly what I like to do.  I like visiting with you and hearing what you have to say.  What you say matters to me.
 
On a side note, recently I was contacted by someone who wanted their wedding to be based on the theme "A Romantic Porch" as in THIS blog.  Really?  Yeah, really!  If this blog inspired them to have "A Romantic Porch"  themed wedding and hopefully a romantic life, well then, I'm all over that!  
 
I better go.  It's getting late.  It's a little chilly on the porch tonight and family duties are calling.
 
It's been great to chat.  Have a wonderful weekend. 
 
TTFN,
Rachel

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

My Mother's Birthday and Voting

On January 7, 1917, a tiny bundle of  female joy named
 Ernesteen Frances Shumaker
  was born to an United States in which women had no right to vote.  This baby was my mother.
 
It was not until the ratification of the 19th amendment to the Constitution in 1920 that women were given the right to vote in a Federal election in the USA.  If you choose to research these facts you will find that there were many years of hard fought battles for women to gain this privilege.
 
It takes my breath away when I say, "If my mother were living today, she would be 95 years old."  Ninety five? Are you kiddin' me? Women didn't have the right to vote until she was 3 years of age.
 
Women have had this privilege to exercise the freedom of opinion and cast a vote for a candidate whom they feel best represents their values, for 92 years.  THAT'S ALL. Just 92 years.  As I ponder these facts it reinforces in my mind how quickly time passes and how the causes that we feel passionately about can take deep roots and effect generations right on down the line so to speak. 
 
I cast my ballot on October 31, 2012 because early voting is available in our state.  As I went through the line I asked the people manning the poll stations, what controls they had in place for voter fraud and how the ballots were secured and counted.  When I finally took my place in the voting booth I was overcome with a weighty sense of responsibility and awesome freedom that is mine.  I can do this, this very thing called voting.  If the people who had gone before me and my mother had not been passionate about THEIR rights then THIS right might never have been mine.
 
And so I VOTED.  Prayerfully I VOTED. 
 
May I always be faithful to the freedoms that I believe are the right of EVERY American...Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
 
Embrace the day.  Embrace the future.
Rachel

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Solace

 
Such concern and worry is written on the expressions and laced into conversations of people almost everywhere.
 
I am not immune to this tho I try to keep my mind focused on the task at hand and attempt to still my anxious heart before the Creator of all mankind.
 
After inner turmoil and fretfulness about all the future holds, today's reading of Psalm 27 was a clear antidote for my quaking soul.
 
I hope you will take time to read this timely scripture and find solace there also.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Life: A Gift

As I ponder my birthday and celebrate another year that has swiftly come and gone, I am grateful for life.  I am happy to have another birthday.  I am elated beyond expression. 

Easily with different choices, my life might never have come to be. 

I've said that I am blessed to be the youngest of the ten children born to my parents. 

I remember mother telling me how cute she thought her first baby was when he came into the world on Christmas Day all those years ago.  It seems I still hear the tone of her " mother love" coming through her words.  She had a plethora of cute stories telling the capers of her first born.  She would laugh as she told it as though it had simply happened earlier that morning.

After about three years the cute big brother had a darling baby sister and early one morning after her birth the phone rang.  When Daddy answered, I was told that Papa (my daddy's dad) said to daddy, "Now Gordon, you have a boy and a girl. That's enough.  Stop there!"  They chose not too.

Their fourth baby, a boy, was stillborn after mother suffered a tragic hemorrhage, nearly losing her life as well.  Interestingly enough, baby boy number four, isn't counted as one of the 10.  He makes our sibling total 11. He was quietly and lovingly referred to as the baby that didn't live.  Mother and Daddy always said they had 5 boys and 5 girls.  This may seem strange in today's culture.  I know times have changed and the way loss is acknowledged and expressed  is different.  However, I suppose, this is one of the ways they taught us to be careful and respectful of the private and intimate things of life. As I remember it, mother said the doctor told her not to have any more children, but they wanted more.  

AND so they had more.

Seven more.

Mother said she was amazed how each person in the family loved each new baby and God always provided for their needs as their family grew. They were criticized, but they chose their family.

Mother LOVED her babies.  She bathed us and fed us and hugged us and kissed us and prayed for us and taught us to work hard and be strong and realize that today may be difficult and discouraging but tomorrow will probably be better.  She was gentle and discerning and taught us to be kind.  Daddy LOVED us.  He was strong and faithful and consistent and wise. He was serious and stern.  He provided for us and prayed for us and taught us to work harder than hard and work as a team and OBEY. Mother and Daddy set an example of selfless love and caring for their family and those whom their lives touched.
I love my siblings deeply.   I can't imagine life without ALL of us. Each one of us brings a unique detail to the tapestry of our family with our strengths and weaknesses.  The ebb and flow of life pulls us and stretches us to be more together than we can be separately, forming a woven bond of unity and family.

I never expected birthdays to begin to happen so quickly, but I'm happy to have one every.single.time. it pops up!  It's fun to have a birthday.  No,  I'm not gonna moan and groan about another birthday.  I'm gonna be happy and celebrate it.

 My birthday is my parents gift to ME every single day of my life!!

From the depths of my being I am grateful.

I have struggled with words to share my thoughts from deep inside. This is something I have pondered across several, yes, many years.  They chose life and without their choice of life I would not exist.   I don't want this to sound egotistical or cliche. 

With deepest sincerity, I feel this.  I am blessed beyond measure. 

At times it is almost more than I can comprehend.  I carry the burden of not squandering the days they gave me.  I want to live wisely and carefully.  I want to live with joy and happiness.  I want the days I live to be filled with meaningful moments for myself and others.  Of course, I've had those hot stinging tears of pain, or of misunderstanding and hurt and loss or frustration and discouragement mixed with fear and uncertainty.  However, at the end of the day, there is deep deep peace and joy.  I trust THAT is my identity, not my age. 

And so yep.  I just celebrated a birthday.  I suppose you would say I'm a year older.  More than anything though, I want to be a year wiser and more mature from the lessons I've learned and the challenges I've faced.  I want to be discerning of my role in the world around me and to the needs of others.  I trust I'm more loving and kind from working through relationships.  And hopefully I am more settled in realizing that I am "me" because I am supposed to be "ME".

Celebrate your life today and be happy.  It was no accident.  You are you because you are supposed to be!



Thursday, May 10, 2012

Soon to Be A Bride!

She was tall and thin, a precious breath of humanity, with sparkling dark brown eyes fringed with the longest of eyelashes.  Her smile was charming and her voice danced with cheer as she spoke.  She came home from college last week and called to see if I could fit her for a bridesmaid dress. 

When she stepped across the threshold of our front door she laughed as she spoke, "If you can take my size 18 prom dress down to a size 2, I know that this dress is going to be no problem at all."
As I took her measurements and pinned the necessary adjustments, we reminisced.  I told her I was looking forward to the day I would fit her wedding dress.  With a gorgeous expression, she said, "Hopefully that will be coming up soon!"  I felt a spark of joy inside, knowing that she will bring me shimmering fabric with just the right amount of rhinestones and sequins.  Then bittersweet emotions began to fold through the pages of my heart.   I've watched her grow from a young high school student as she left the awkward lines of adolescence behind and waltzed through prom seasons and snowflake balls and now friends who are becoming brides.  One day she will walk out my door carrying her wedding gown sized perfectly for her special day and I will ask myself if I will ever see her beautiful face again?

I am touched by so many lives.

I am blessed.

I pray I am faithful to the many people I encounter each day...
...my family first and then others.


Friday, April 27, 2012

We're So Silly! He and I...

He chuckled when he read my post that just somehow evolved into a long visit on my virtual porch! My husband quite, contemplative and decisive said, "Did you see my comment?" 

"No." I said, "I haven't had time to be on my blog since Tuesday."

"Well, you posted an empty post and  I thought you had  probably done it on purpose after your long random visit from earlier in the week, so I left you a comment."  Yes, he knew I would absolutely do something just like that and post an empty post.

I read his comment.  We laughed.  We laughed an out loud deep down feel good kind of laugh.  Yippee!  I have an empty post that garnered his comment!  I am thrilled.

We are so silly, he and I!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Aaaarrrrgh! I don't have the hang of the new blogger format yet.  Hence, the empty post from Tuesday!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Random Visit

I love to sit on our porch and visit with family or friends. I love to eat meals on the porch. I have loved to hold my children while sitting on our porch till they have outgrown my lap. (Somehow that sentence sounds funny like I sat there while they grew, but it's late and I'm not going to try to figure out how to say it otherwise AND it does seem like they grew that fast!) The porch is a good place to relax and it's a good place to ponder life, the past, the present, the future. My thoughts, in my opinion, have a different perspective when" thinked" on our porch, than in our living room, or the music room or our closet. I sense a clear crisp essence to my way of thinking when I'm on our porch...

That is one of the reason's I named this blog, "A Romantic Porch". I love our porch. If I saw your porch I would probably love it too. Porches are places to catch up and visit or a place to relax or play. It can be a soft transition from the comfort of home and the harsh world beyond. I really believe this.

As I grew up, after a day of marking each item off an extensive list of responsibilities my mother would sometimes say, "Let's go out on the porch and take a little break and drink a Dr. Pepper and visit." I cherish those memories. We worked hard and my parents worked hard right along with us.

So I guess I need to take a little break and sit right down on my virtual porch and visit. It's been a while since I've written here and talked to you. Does that really matter? I suppose not. What matters most to me is that I make a positive difference in the lives of my family and friends and those of you whom I have never met, my virtual extent or presence or something like that.

So many people are hurting and searching for answers. Many times the road of life seems blocked or a door harshly and distinctly slammed to close a chapter of existence. Each person processes their pain in a way that is fitting for their perspective and life experience. We can't take the other person's journey. We can only come along side and say a prayer or lend a helping hand or extend encouragement.

HHmmm...I know I should laugh more. My mind never stops pondering and thinking deeper than the surface of life.

Many days I never sit...unless it is the driver's seat of the car or my chair at the sewing machine to fill a client's order. I love my family and friends. I'm rarely on Facebook and then I start feeling afraid that my loved ones will think I don't care about them because I'm not over there visiting with them. In my opinion, it's a sad situation, the balance we face between virtual living and actual living. I don't think my mother or grandmothers had to deal with this. No they were struggling with polio and typhoid fever and diphtheria. You know, those actualities of life that took grit and determination to overcome and sometimes it didn't turn out the way they wanted.

Our family is just like most of you. We are working hard, overcoming challenges, taking another step forward, pondering every angle to make sure we are making the best of choices. My husband says " Don't worry about what others think. Do your best with your circumstances. This is what we have been given to deal with." He's good at just verbally and mentally chiseling away the fog that wants to seep in and haze an issue. I'm thankful for him.

The other day we heard a guy say that when he was sad, he wanted a cheeseburger and when he was happy he wanted a cheeseburger. After a short pause our daughter said, "Well then that guy ALWAYS wants a cheeseburger!"

It's been cold and windy here but the spring foliage is glorious. Have I ever mentioned that my favorite season is Spring?

Oh and by they way the roses that I showed you in my last post, many of you have asked me, "are the roses real?" Yes, yes those absolutely were real roses. One of my commenters on that post left a great link to a tutorial for how to make them, so maybe you would like to check that out.

I have a friend who can tell me just about anything and I generally find it interesting. Like the other day she told me that when a rat breaks its' leg that you should leave it alone. ( I most likely would not have trouble with that.) The leg will heal by itself or the rat will chew it off and it will have a stump. She said she had learned that this was natural and normal for a rat. I found that extremely interesting and fastinating. Maybe I just illustrated to you how easily I am entertained or amused. However, I wanted you to know just in case you might encounter a rat with a broken leg in the next few days...just leave it alone.

Did you know that vanilla beans are the result of hand pollinating orchids? I found that to be of extreme interest as well. So keep up the good work and hand pollinate your orchids.

I often tell people if your life is busy and you're needing a little more time in your day, come spend the night with us...it doesn't take very long.

Is anyone else experiencing frustration with the way the blogger dashboard works, or as the case may be, doesn't work?

So yes, I suppose this is just a random visit on my virtual porch, but I want to leave you with this one thought. If nothing else I've said sticks in your mind, then I hope this will...

I receive a Bible verse each day through text message from a friend - actually a family member of a friend.

This is the verse I received today.

"He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor."

This is found in the Old Testament, Holy Bible, Book of Proverbs Chapter 21 Verse 21.

My deepest desire...to pursue righteousness and love. When the fog of life wants to seep in and haze an issue, it all comes back to this.

Thanks for the chat y'all. I am blessed by you.

Have a wonderful week.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Have You Ever Seen Tie Dye Roses?

I have heard of these roses. I have never seen them.
The other day I was purchasing some fresh flowers for a project that I am working on and I saw these roses. I decided to buy two of them for our daughter. The sweet lady at the flower market wrapped them in pink waxed floral paper. It made a perfect presentation. When I gave them to our daughter, she said, "Mom, did YOU tie dye these for me?" I was astonished! She was so proud of them and anxious to show them to her dad and brother. Our family has had fun trying to figure out how these interesting roses are made.
She said, "Mom these are REAL roses. They have "stickers" on their stems."
Have you ever seen tie dye roses?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Breathtaking Beauty

It's tulip time here in Central Indiana!
It is wonderful to watch the world awaken in color each Spring. Just think, all this color was lying beneath the cold hard soil a few weeks ago. Isn't that amazing? It's my favorite time of the year. I know I told you that already!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

You Can Fix A Zipper Too

One of the brides that I'm working with broke the tab off of her zipper on her wedding dress. She was using a paper clip and a ribbon to pull the zipper.
Rather than replace the entire zipper I suggested to her that I could make a "tab" by creating a cord from thread that went through a beautiful glass bead. You can fix the tab on any zipper this way. As you know zipper tabs are usually made from aluminum and can be quite brittle and easily broken.
She loved how it looked when I was done.
Is anyone else having trouble with getting blogger to allow modification to font size and placement and other things? It won't let me highlight features to add URL links etc. It's not a big deal I guess, but it messes with my "perfectionist brain"! Ha Ha. Make it a great day anyway!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Easier Said Than Done!



Do not worry about anything. But pray and ask God for everything you need. And when you pray, always give thanks. And God's peace will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. The peace that God gives is so great that we cannot understand it.
Holy Bible
New Testament Book
Philippians Chapter 4 Verses 6 and 7
Are you anxious or worried? We quote these verses when we are.
In my opinion this is much easier said than done! Our daughter and I have been quoting these verses to each other, sometimes several times each day.
Practice makes progress.
We tag these verses below onto the ones above:
Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy - meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians Chapter 4 Verses 8 and 9
And sometimes blogger will let me do the font on my blog posts the way I want it and sometimes it won't! Oh well, I'm just not gonna worry 'bout it.
I hope you feel tremendous peace today.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Sunrise Surprise

When the bleeding hearts bloom I KNOW it is truly Spring. It has definitely arrived.
So yep, I say it's Spring. But as the saying goes, if you don't like the weather in Indiana, hang on just one second and it will change. So way early this morning when I was on my way to a job I was surprised to see mounds of this around town.
Apparently piles and piles of hail fell last night.
Oddly enough we never heard a thing!
*sigh*
I would have loved to watch it fall from the sky and hit the earth.
Did any of you see these piles of "weather"?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Spring Baby

The word circulating among the local "kinfolk" was that Uncle had new baby calves at the farm. After all, what's Spring without calves.
So I told our daughter that when I got home from work I would take her to see the calves. With a soft high pitched voice, she said, "Aaahhh, really? I've always wanted to touch a cow." I glanced back to her as my heart sorta stuttered inside. My daughter...born to the girl who grew up in the mountains of Northwest Arkansas, with all things "farmish", milking goats and gathering eggs to name a few...well SHE, MY daughter, longed to simply "touch" a cow!

As the sun began its' rapid descent and dusk folded layers of shadows around us, we headed west out of town to "touch the cows". It was worth it!

Do you enjoy the baby animals of Spring?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

This Makes NO Sense To Me

This tree is in glorious full bloom at our house. It is gorgeous...lovely...definitely springish...
BUT
we kept smelling a scent similar to a dead animal and we realized it is the blossoms on the tree!

Since then we have noticed that these beautiful trees blooming in so many places around town...ALL stink!

So we just hold our breath and enjoy their beauty. Still it makes no sense to me at all.

Do your Spring blossoms entice you to sniff their fragrance?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Today's Goals

Saturday evening my daughter and I met with an elderly lady who was sharing some troubles her children has gone through.
At some point I said, "There are times when life just throws you"...then I paused as I searched for the right word to use, and without missing a beat my little girl said,
"milk and honey". I said, "What?" She said, "Life throws you milk and honey Mom." With astonishment in my voice I said, "That's right. That's what we are going to say that life throws us milk and honey."
Then she proceeded to tell the lady an OLD TESTAMENT story from the Bible that our family loves, where Caleb and Joshua went to scout out a new land. The ones with them were scared of the Giants that lived there, but Caleb and Joshua said, "No way, we've gotta go. The land is flowing with milk and honey." They meant it was filled with plenty of good things.

So today's goals...
Do NOT be anxious about anything...

Think on good things...the milk and honey in MY life...I am grateful!

How about you? What are your goals for today?

Friday, March 16, 2012

It's Official

I believe it is safe to say that Spring has officially arrived in Central Indiana. The weather has been unusually warm and buds are popping open all around...I'm not complainin'!

How 'bout you? Are you seeing Spring yet?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

In Quiteness and Solitude


Bow the Knee



There are moments on our journey following the Lord,
Where God illumines evry step we take.

There are times when circumstances make perfect sense to us,

As we try to understand each move He makes.

When the path grows dim and our questions have no answers, turn to Him.



*Bow the knee;

Trust the heart of your Father when the answer goes beyond what you can see.

Bow the knee;

Lift your eyes toward heaven and believe the One who holds eternity.

And when you don’t understand the purpose of His plan,

In the presence of the King, bow the knee.



There are days when clouds surround us,

And the rain begins to fall,

The cold and lonely winds won’t cease to blow.

And there seems to be no reason for the suffering we feel;

We are tempted to believe God does not know.

When the storms arise, don’t forget we live by faith and not by sight.

*Bow the knee;
Trust the heart of your Father when the answer goes beyond what you can see.
Bow the knee;
Lift your eyes toward heaven and believe the One who holds eternity.
And when you don’t understand the purpose of His plan,
In the presence of the King, bow the knee.




I hope you have enjoyed the lyrics to this beautiful song on this Sunday evening. Our choir sang it this morning. It is one of my favorites.

Rachel

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Gorgeous Aisle Runner


A sweet bride asked me to make an aisle runner for her wedding. I was thrilled. It was a fun project. I used black Casa Satin for the field and red Casa Satin for the borders. The finished project stretched a length of 75 feet. The bride knew just what she wanted and it was a joy to create her vision.



Once the decor was complete and the bride and groom and all their attendants were standing in place, I was amazed to see how this one splash of color seemed to tie everything together. Unfortunately, this is the only photo I have and it was taken with my not so very good camera on the phone I had at that time.



Even though the photo isn't the best, I like the soft haziness of it!



Rachel

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Caramel Coconut Cream Pie

Our son wanted Aunt Dee's Caramel Coconut Cream Pie to take to his small group. Aunt Dee said the recipe was in our family cookbook. Well, sure 'nuf...right there it was. I'd never seen it in there OR made it, of course. I bought ingredients for four pies and in one hour had all of them chillin' out in the freezer! Two pies were for his small group and two for our guests who were coming in from out of town.

It's yummy! I won't tell anyone if you make one pie just to eat all by yourself. No I didn't do that, but yes it is that good.



Susan, who is the sweetest cashier in probably the whole world or something like that, wanted the recipe. She saw all these yummy ingredients beeping across the scanner and thought they added up to delectable goodness. Susan, I hope your hubby enjoys it as much as we do.

Caramel Coconut Pie

1/4 c. butter

1 pkg (7 oz) flaked coconut

1/2 c. chopped pecans

1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, softened

1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk

1 container (16 oz) frozen whipped topping, thawed

1 jar (12 oz) caramel ice cream topping

2 baked 9" pastry shells

Garnish:

Melt butter in larger skillet. Add coconut and 1/4 c. pecans; cook until golden, stirring frequently. Set mixture aside and let cool slightly.

Cream Filling:

Combine cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Fold in whipped topping.

Assembling Pie:

Layer 1/4 of cream cheese mixture in each pastry shell. Drizzle 1/4 of caramel topping over each pie. Sprinkle 1/4 coconut mixture evenly over each pie. Repeat layers with remaining cream cheese mixture, caramel topping, and coconut mixture. Cover and freeze pies at least 8 hours. Let frozen pies stand at room temperature 5 minutes before slicing.

Yield: two 9" pies.


The first two pies that were taken to small group only chilled for about 45 minutes. They still set up nicely and brought home rave reviews, thanks to a nice group of hungry and very complimentary young adults.


Rachel






Monday, February 20, 2012

Yellow Fluff

A dozen little miracles have been nestled in this climate controlled environment.

All by themselves, one fluffy yellow chick after another emerged, much to the delight of the children in the classroom. Have you ever seen a chick hatch? It's exciting!
They are anxious to eat and drink and look up to the camera and say hi to you!

Baby chicks...aahhh. They are like a sweet promise of Spring.

Rachel


Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Valentine Desire

Floral arrangement made for a client




Valentine's Day can bring great joy or immense sorrow. I've observed this from year to year. I suppose our emotions are in direct response to our perspective or life experiences. I've attended weddings on Valentine's Day and witnessed the pain of loss on Valentine's Day. You know as well as I that life is so very...well daily...isn't it? Moment upon moment days are built and life happens.



I love Valentine's Day. I do! Call me crazy if you want, but it makes my heart smile when I see the Valentine merchandise start to line the store shelves before the Christmas decor is adequately sold from the clearance rack. It's all such a commercial gimmick but still I enjoy seeing the cheery red and pink hearts and cupids adorned with fluffy roses and delicate little bows and arrows. In my mind the colors and whimsy of the decor bring a bright spark to the dreary winter days that linger long between Christmas and Spring. And besides all that, anyone can express love whether or not they have a "sweetheart". It doesn't hurt to buy flowers to decorate your table just because they are beautiful. They don't have to come from "someone special" in order to properly celebrate the day.



And so, in reality the love and caring shown on Valentine's Day can be expressed all year long between lovers, or family members or friends. I remember when our first child was born, on several occasions I ask my mother, "How will he know that we love him? He has come into the world without expectations. He has no option for existence but to totally trust us. How will he know we love him?" I'm sure this sounds quite silly, however as an emotional new mother I wrestled with this concept of a baby learning to comprehend this expression. Even today, I want my spouse and children and family and friends to know that I love them. It's important to me that the words we speak when we say goodbye are kind and loving. We never know when it will be our last word spoken. I want to love expressively. I don't want my children to wonder if I care.



This year as Valentine's Day approached, I grew sad that I couldn't do more for those I loved. Ggggrrr...everyone has the same 24 hours in their day, but there never seems to be enough time for what is demanding my attention and the little things that are important to me. So I try my best to make wise choices and be OK with that.



Our little girl was excited about her Valentine party at school on Tuesday. The night before we made heart shaped sugar cookies with glace' icing. With great anticipation, and just the right amount of consideration for which friend got which Valentine, the Valentines were all addressed well in advance...like Saturday night...well in advance. When we dropped her off at her classroom that morning, the teacher who was a substitute asked if I could come back later and help with the party since there would be no other parents available to help. I dashed off to work knowing that I had a limited amount of time before going back to the school to assist the teacher.



Upon my return to the school, as the children stood in line waiting for the party to begin, I noticed one little boy was standing with his face to the wall. Closer observation revealed that he was sobbing, not crying, but yes, absolutely sobbing. Since our family is friends with his family, I felt that it was OK for me to ask him what was wrong. As tears dripped from his cheeks, through his sobs he answered, "It's about my dad." My heart broke. I wanted to put my face against the wall and sob with him. Instead with the tips of my fingers I traced a line back and forth back and forth from shoulder blade to shoulder blade in hopes that some form of human contact would comfort him. When I could speak, I said, "Do you miss him more because it's Valentine's Day?" Through tears he shuddered, "Yes". I attempted to assure him of his Father's love. At an age much to young for any little boy to bear, he had been hit squarely with the reality of losing a Father in death. Within myself I contemplated the possibility that he might not have yet comprehended his Father's expression of love. You know the thing I said I worried about our firstborn son being able to comprehend? Again, I considered when does this knowledge of understanding begin? As the Valentine party started and progressed I saw him attempting to gain composure and go through the festive motions, but his heart wasn't in it. From my vantage point I realized that in spite of anything I might try to do or say to cheer him...the reality was...there was absolutely nothing I could do to change his heartache. There was nothing I could do to take this burden away. He had a deep Valentine's Day desire to feel the tangible love of his Father. He needed that feeling of knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was loved. Let me assure you this precious child is very loved. But how do you appropriately convey that to a heartbroken little boy in the midst of his overwhelming emotions?



My contemplative mind began to think through my own feelings of all the things I wanted to do to send expressions of love to those I cared about. With the life circumstances that I deal with every day, do I do enough? Really, do I? I'm sure I truly fall so so so very short. I thought about the gamut of emotions that other people feel on a day like this from despair and rejection to great joy and happiness. Valentine's Day, by the very nature of how our culture celebrates it stirs the desire as I saw in my little friend, the desire in each of us, to know the same thing...that beyond a shadow of a doubt...we are loved.



This past Tuesday, with the experiences that I was unexpectedly called to embrace, I was once again reminded of how important it is to me that I speak and write love to my spouse and my children. They are my first responsibility. I want it to be a language so clearly spoken to them that they never doubt or question it. When my time on earth is spent and I am gone, I want them to know I loved unquestionably and expressively without hesitation, beyond the shadow of a doubt.



I know that ultimate joy and peace is found in the loving arms of the embrace of Christ. Only HE can fill that void shape of Himself deep within our spirit. Each one of us will only find true love there. However, in my flawed and imperfect way, I want to do all I can to assure my children of my love.



It's a Valentine desire.



Rachel






This blog post was written with full disclosure and approval from the child's mother.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sports Again? Really?

On Friday Philip left. I told you about that a couple of postings ago. There were morning tasks and appoints and then the typical hurry scurry to get to my particular responsibility that was calling. As I drove I turned on the radio. I typically do not enjoy listening to the radio. I enjoy the peace and quiet. I enjoy looking at the trees and nature around me and observing the activities of other drivers. I enjoy the absence of noise and chatter that sometimes fill the airwaves. I like to think up new ideas for design arrangements or figure out how to make a fashion that I'm working on fit the client the way it should. I like to think my own thoughts.


When I do happen to listen to the radio, I'm selective in my choice. On Friday as my ear tuned into the mid-sentence of a speaker who caught my attention, I was captivated as he told a story about playing basketball that I cannot begin to repeat for lack of recalling all the details. However the essence of what he said, that was of interest to me, was this: In basketball, you cannot just simply stand on the court and hold the ball. The clock is running. AND he went on to say life is like that: The clock is running, the players are in place, you've been put in the game, this game. The ball is in your hands, so play ball. Get in the game and simply PLAY BALL.


At that point I quickly reached up and with a flick of my wrist, flipped the switch to turn off the radio. I already knew everything he was saying was true, but I wanted to ponder and mull his words a little more, in silence. Somehow through what the speaker said, my courage was renewed. I love it when that happens!




Once again, I realized that I was to play the game, in which I had been placed, to the best of my ability. I was to focus. I was to work with those around me as a team. I was to score and if possible win. Nevertheless, I was to play to the best of my ability.



As my day took shape, I attempted to stayed focused on the goal and the score clock. I kept putting one ball in the basket after another and now here I am. It's Tuesday. I can't change any of those past days. I just know I was in the game and playing ball to the best of my ability. I'm STILL in the game.



So once again I'm off to...what else...play ball! Um or fix supper!



Rachel

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Score and Win

Monument Circle with the Super Bowl 46 numbers



In light of the events of the week that our family has experienced (previous post) it seems most frivolous to speak of "the game" but still I do have something to say about how it relates to life.
Sports mania and hospitality and event planning have been fever pitched here in Indianapolis for the last year but especially so in the last two weeks since Super Bowl Village opened up downtown.
Today I have heard the steady drum of helicopters. Earlier in the day it seemed as though they were probably transporting people (um like maybe important people...whomever they may be) from the Indianapolis Regional Airport (also known to locals as "the Mount Comfort airport") over to the Heliport downtown Indianapolis. Now as the evening deepens and the sky grows dark the hum overhead is steady and as I've squinted into the night sky I have counted up to five helicopters hovering overhead at one time. As game time approaches there may be more. I will go outside and look and see when the time comes...yes, I really will. Still helicopters hovering over my head create an ominous sensation. I know they have reasons for being there...I'll just say I've convinced myself that it's just those fabulous news crews doin' their job...reporting from above...giving a first hand account of traffic patterns and crowd flow and a close up view of our fabulous Monument Circle, a unique landmark in the heart of downtown.
I will digress to say that if it can't be Peyton Manning and our own Indianapolis Colts, well then...it may just have to be Eli Manning and the Giants...yep Eli and the Giants!
Each year, in May, the city of Indianapolis hosts people from all over the world for the famous Indianapolis 500. Because I enjoy event planning it has been interesting to observe the things that have been done differently preparing for the Super Bowl vs the Indy 500.
Game stuff and sports mania is not really my first love, but I will say that I do like to have a healthy knowledge of what's going on, because well, my sons know all about it and I like to appear semi-informed when we are discussing this stuff. Ya know the stuff like timeouts and turnovers and touchdowns and such. To me these terms sound more like things you do when you raise and feed kids, but it's all good...it all applies.

So this brings me to the reason of this post. I think about life A LOT and how it is lived...well, by me, for instance and my husband, and my children. In life you get one chance. It's sorta like "the big game". There will be timeouts and turnovers and touchdowns, but ultimately living life with focus and intensity to win well is what counts.

As I ponder my life and how I'm playing "the game", I don't want to grow old yet remain immature and shallow in my thoughts and attitudes. I want to grow and learn from each and every play and learn from the plays of my team members and my coach, God. I want to win well. I want my plays to count and hear my "coach" say, "Well done."
I know you do too.

And so how 'bout you? Didn't I hear you say Eli and the Giants...well of course since it can't be Peyton and the Colts?

Rachel


Saturday, February 4, 2012

To Honor A Life

On Tuesday this week, physical and tangible life came to an end for the great grandfather of my children. It is the only great grandfather they have known. At 95 years of age, he and his wife would have celebrated 75 years of marriage, in June. I can't begin to imagine her without him. I've seen them live the commitment of their vows, made before God, so long ago.



My husband's grandfather, on his dad's side, was a hard working man who upheld integrity and honesty. He was a business owner. I have been told that he provided outstanding customer service in the days when gas stations were "service stations". I remember him saying that a time came in our culture when his employees no longer had work ethic. My husband has fond memories of life that revolved around Papa's work.



Though it has been several years since our family has had the opportunity to make the 12 hour trip to visit him, hug him, talk to him, still I can see his smile and hear his laugh. Life just has a way of preventing some of the things that we long for. There are times when the right thing to do isn't the easy or fun thing, so it was with agony that we made the decision for Philip to go alone to pay his last respects to his grandfather. I'm so glad Philip could go.



There is an unspoken language to life. It is sensed and felt and seen with our heart and emotions. We may even hear it, but it is a language interpreted through the filter of our individual life experiences and personal perspectives, making it a different language to each person. I wanted to wrap my arms around grandma and absorb some of who she is, absorb some of her character and commitment to the man she has loved all these years. I wanted to sense the unspoken language, spoken to me, in this situation of life.



So as Philip drove away in the chilly darkness yesterday morning to make the 12 hour drive alone, I wanted to sob, and sob some more. I couldn't talk. I wasn't ready for it to be like this. We have committed to experience life together...the ups and downs...and now life was separating us in this. Our family couldn't...shouldn't go.



On many occasions when our children leave to go out to do something, I say to them, "Remember who you are. Your daddy has given you a good name. You want to always live up to the honor of it." Today, as family is gathered so many miles away to honor Papa, I am reminding our children that their good name has come from their dad and his dad and his dad, Papa. Their name has passed down through the generations and they can be proud. It's not a name to which they hang their head in shame when someone finds out who they belong too.



One moment, one action, can change the course of life forever. I am grateful for the choices Papa and Grandma made that are benefits to me and my family today. I didn't get to hug Grandma, or say a final goodbye, so to speak, to Papa, but I know that when my husband returns early in the morning, I will hug him and absorb some of the integrity and commitment of his grandparents. Part of them, lives in him.



His legacy lives on...



Thank you Papa. I will see you again.


Floyd William Going
August 30, 1916 - January 31, 2012

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Winner!

Okie Dokie! Here's the scoop. After all the entries were put into a hat and with random draw, Skoots1mom won the drawing for Kathryn's book.




Congratulations!




Yay! Thank you all so much for participating!




I highly recommend this book to any of you who are trying to reorganize and declutter no matter the size of your space.




Rachel

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Celebrating With A Giveaway!




In March 2008, soon after I started posting to my blog, I met Kathryn Bechen. Yes, I met her the way most bloggers meet...somehow she found my blog, or I found hers and a blogging friendship began.

I admire Kathryn and her lifestyle of choice for many reasons, probably because I have parallel interests. She loves to organize and decorate and write. She loves her husband and making her home a haven. When I visit her blog, I come away encouraged with more inspiration for living a life of intention and purpose.

Across the years I have collected books on organization and keeping an orderly home and office. So late last year when I was contacted by a representative from Revell a division of Baker Publishing Group to see if I would be interested in doing a book review post on my blog of Kathryn's latest book, "Small Space Organizing", I did a happy dance right there by my laptop computer...well inside my heart I did a happy dance!

I am giddy with excitement to participate in a blog tour to promote her book January 15 - 21, 2012.

Kathryn is a published author and has had articles featured in many magazines and publications across the country. I am thrilled to participate in promoting her new release.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Kathryn writes with humor and honesty about her life. She and her husband have chosen to live in small homes and she tells about this. I found her reasoning behind this lifestyle choice to be quite interesting.

This book is applicable to anyone who wants their home or office or life to be more organized and orderly for living well. Though it is primarily written to those who live in small spaces I feel that the ideas she gives will help anyone be more organized in general, no matter the size of the space or area of frustration in your home.

You will not be disappointed in the information you receive from reading this book.

ABOUT THE GIVEAWAY:


I collect organization and time management books so I was over the moon with excitement when I received my very own copy of Kathryn's book hot off the press.

After much consideration about this, I have decided to give it to one of you. I have read it so it has been gently used. It has so much wonderful information in it and one of you may need it to get your lifestyle off to a more orderly start for 2012.

On Sunday evening at 9 p.m. eastern time, January 21, 2012, I will choose the winner of the book by random selection.

In order to have your name entered for the drawing you need to do 2 things.

1. Leave a comment stating that you are a follower of this blog.

2. In your comment state why you would like to receive this book.
AND (as a bonus)
if you would choose to tell about my giveaway on your blog I will enter your name 2 times, but you need to let me know you did when you leave a comment. Or to have your name entered 3 times, visit Kathryn's blog and once again let me know this in your comment.

In the meantime, happy organizing and de-cluttering!

Rachel

Friday, January 13, 2012

Bbbbrrrrr! It Is Cold

Today's temperature is 14 degrees F. with a wind chill of -3 degrees F. Most of yesterday the wind howled its' way across Indiana in what the weather man called a "Skipper". Last night "Skipper" continued to howl. "Skipper" must have felt very lonesome. He sounded lonesome anyway. So this morning I'm sure the sun will rise and chase his lonesome blues away, but he's making sure we know he has been here.


Is it true that bears hibernate in the winter? If so, I think I know why! Sorta sounds fun today.


But I didn't have to get up and build a fire to warm the house and our cars have heaters, so life is good, yes, very good...so off to school and work we go.


Bbbrrr!


Have a good day where you are? Is it warm and sunny there? UUmmm no don't tell me.


Rachel

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Who Would I Be Without Her?

My mother worked the hardest of any lady I have ever known. I'm not saying that other ladies haven't worked as hard, I just don't know them. She married my daddy on December 19, 1936 at the young age of 19. It was on the tail end of "The Great Depression". Yes, that one that happened back in the 30's. Times were hard and the tasks of the day must have taken grit and determination edged with optimism and hope AND strong faith in God, because we were taught those values over and over.


My mother was without question on my daddy's team. Together they could do anything to which they set their heart and mind. Little by little their goals and dreams became realities as the joy and heartache of each task etched deeply into the family they eventually became. They raised us to work hard and be honest and kind to others whether they were young or old, rich or poor. They instilled in us a deep reverence for God. They taught us that through Him we could overcome or endure hardship.


My parents owned a wheat and cotton and dairy farm in Southwest Oklahoma. They owned and herded sheep and one winter lived in a tent on the range to care for the young ewes who were soon to birth lambs. At some point Daddy felt he should minister to hurting people and they sold everything to follow that call. In the span of their life together they built two houses and two churches debt free. They lived the "Dave Ramsey Lifestyle" before it was the "in thing" to do. My mother taught us to reduce, reuse and recycle in a way that would make any current "Green Movement Guru" her most vocal fan. We were taught to do without and be contented or figure out a way to come up with what we needed. Across the span of my mother's life there were several times the different homes in which she lived had no running water or indoor plumbing and definitely no furnace or central air.


She killed rattlesnakes and wiped tiny noses, gathered eggs and patched many pair of jeans. She gave the best soft and cheerful kisses on the top of tiny heads and sang a wonderful lullaby bop as she rocked babies in an old cane bottom straight back chair. She cooked gallons and gallons of beans and oatmeal. She could pull a group of kids and grand kids together in a group effort to snap a bushel of green beans more quickly than you could realize you were involved in "work". Her brown eyes were soft and kind. In my mind I can hear her say, "Just do your best and don't worry about the rest".


She didn't realize what an amazing cook and decorator and seamstress and family administrator she was. She didn't realize how godly and what a great counselor she was simply by listening. She was just Mother. If she laughed too hard, I cried. Yes, I did, I cried. And oh my, she could get so tickled and laugh and laugh and I cried harder. I dunno...maybe the harder I cried the more tickled she became but her initial onset of laughter would have nothing to do with my crying of course. I was told that my immediately older brother also cried when she laughed hard, so maybe I learned this technique from him!


As the youngest of her ten children, it still amazes me the way she cared for each one of us. I'm sure there were times she felt like there wasn't enough of her to go around her family needs and responsibilities.

She wanted all of us to play musical instruments. We did. How did she endure it? She wanted us to sing. We did. How did she endure that? She wanted all of us to go to college if we wanted. And so we did. I heard her sighs and prayers and her songs. Now as an adult with children, I realize those things were her way of keeping herself and others encouraged.


I didn't like to be away from my mother, except to go to school, but even then I would run out to the mailbox to wait for the bus and if I didn't hear its' rumble coming up the hill I would run back to the house and jerk open the door just quickly enough to say, "Bye Mother bye!" Then I would run back to the mailbox to wait. But if the bus wasn't coming I had to repeat this process. I was born when she was 47. I grew up with a keen sense that I might not have her in my life as I grew older and I loved her. She was my comfort.


I will never forget the day that mother sat on the front porch balcony of the home in which I grew up. Philip and I stood on the front steps. She told Philip, "You can take Rachel anywhere you want to take her, just be kind to her and love her." I suppose in a way she passed that mantle of comfort along to him. He has not let her down. She would be proud of him. As a mother now, I know the depth of those words.


As her family grew, so grew her love and knowledge and wisdom. I can only wish to be half the wife and mother and grandmother and sister and friend that she was. She has been an almost constant thought to me.


Happy 95th birthday Mother. I will see you again one day. I know you are waiting.


Love, Rachel Ernesteen


Ernesteen Frances Shumaker Easley


January 7, 1917 - July 15, 1998