Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

2010 has been an interesting year for our family.

As you reflect on the year that has passed, I hope you have been able to celebrate joys and blessings no matter how large or small they may be.

For one thing, we celebrated a "special wedding anniversary" this year by doing fun little things to celebrate as the year has progressed.

One of the ways we celebrated is by decorating the Christmas tree in our bedroom with our wedding anniversary theme...well actually I decorated it and Mr. RP enjoyed it!

I will see if I can post some more photos of that tree.

I hope you have a very merry Christmas!


Thursday, November 25, 2010

And So It's Thanksgiving!

Can it really already be Thanksgiving? It is a beautiful time to reflect on the blessings of the past.
I met the young man who would eventually be my husband on Thanksgiving Day.
So today when we share our blessings around our dinner table, that is the blessing I will share.
And I will forever be thankful that we met!
I hope your day is beautiful with the love and blessings of family and friends all around.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

No Ordinary Day

What a day! Oh my what a year!
I know people who were married today.
I know people who had an ordinary day today.
Have you ever heard the saying, "Do ordinary things in an extra-ordinary way"?
I love that!
It is a great reminder that even the most mundane of tasks can be extra special.
For instance: When I prepare a roast, I like to season it and sear it in a hot cast iron skillet before I let it cook and simmer for hours till it's yummy and soft and tender. The extra effort is worth the flavor to me and my family.
Today may be ordinary, but I'm challenged to make it extra-ordinary...even if it isn't my wedding day. I don't want it to slip by and be ordinary.
At different times lately, several people have shared hurt and problems with me. Sorrow and hardship are everywhere. They are grasping for answers. Hope and faith are waining. I know how easy it is to feel that way. Sometimes my heart feels like it could burst for the pain and uncertainty that people express. At the end of a day there is exhaustion from the weight of all of it. In the darkness of night sleep evades me as I pray and look for answers to know what to say...what to to help.
My first response is to say, "You can't give up! You must hold on to faith and hope."
However an extra-ordinary response is from the scripture and the power of Christ. This verse gives me courage.
"For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. ~on the contrary~ they have DIVINE power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."
New Testament Second Corinthians Chapter 10 verses 3 through 5 NIV
So go ahead and take this ordinary day and make it extra-ordinary.
Do ordinary things in an extra-ordinary way.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Our First Date

Our first date was September 17. It was a Friday that year also. The weather was perfectly sunny and crisp. It was a day just like today.

I thought it would be fun to go out tonight and do something sort of special...just a way to kind of remember that evening so many years ago. But life and work adds demands and so we can reminisce in other ways.

I still love to be with him and do things together. It doesn't really matter what or where it is.

That year he had a light blue 1976 Cutlass Supreme. It was a sharp car I thought! Off we went. The sun was setting at a brilliant angle and the sun visors were of no use. I still remember both of us trying to see the road in front of us by shielding the sun with our hands.
He stole my heart and I never looked back! Fortunately he gave me his heart in return!
A few weeks ago one of my boxes of keepsake papers and cards and miscellaneous mementos were ruined by rain and I found them just as they were beginning to mold. There was a very random assortment of things in the box, like school papers written by little boyish hands and letters from family that I hold so dear and words written by special friends. There were cards from when our little girl was born and one of my baby pictures. The rainy wetness in the box had set into mold and my tears began to flow as I spread the papers on every flat surface I could find. I felt the brokenness of the passage of time and the sting of being so busy that I lack time for many things that matter to me. In those moments the essence of everything that the box held, felt dear to me.
The immediate "whys", like why did I move the box where it could be damaged and why didn't I get it sooner and why didn't I have all these things "scrapbooked" like so many of the beautiful ones I've seen, lead to deeper and more silent thoughts and questions of the "whys of life". Most of the "whys of life" can't be answered I suppose, but my box was ruined while I was doing my very very best taking care of the pressing immediate things that were my responsibility. Just like you, many times my time is not my own to do as I please or work on a project of my choice.
And so as I huddled on the floor with tears pooling in my eyes and running down my cheeks I was blinking and sniffing as I tried to see the photo I had just uncovered. In it I could see my husband (then my boyfriend) just as cute as could be and directly beside him was a smeared water stained blot. Below the blot I recognized one of the outfits that I wore back then. Gone were my brown curls and silly smile.
At that moment my husband walked in. Without speaking I handed him the photo. His immediate reply was, "That's our first date!" Apparently someone had snapped a photo of us that evening and then later gave it to us. I have no idea who took the photo. All I wanted to do was throw the picture in the trash and run down the street wailing to the top of my lungs. I didn't however! Instead I realized that with all of the smears and water blots, it's still a remnant of a special memory. So now the photo is dry and maybe in 28 years it will find its' way to a scrapbook and my greatgrandkids can wonder why greatgrandmomma's curly brown hair and silly smile is smeared from the photo.
If I'm around I will tell them the story of how the photo came to be smeared and what a wonderful man their greatgranddad is and that life is sometimes full of smears.
Yes, life is that way. There may be blots and smears and tons of unanswered whys along the way, but still life can be filled with special memories and fleeting moments to cherish.
My mother would often say, "Rachel always do YOUR best and if you've done YOUR best then that is all you can do. The rest will take care of itself." So whatever comes and goes if I know I've done MY best, then I leave God with the rest.
Each day I try to do MY best and let that be enough.
Sigh~it's a process.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day Surprise!

Today we looked out the window of our vehicle and right there beside us we saw this huge black beautiful horse. It certainly was working on Labor Day by pulling a beautiful shiny white carriage. As we zipped away I quickly snapped this photo. Yep! Sorry! This is all I got of the beautiful horse. Look at the neat braid cascading along the line of the horse's mane.
Seeing this horse in the middle of downtown was a fabulous surprise. Life is that way, full of surprises. Another surprise in my life is those of you who email or leave comments. It is really unreal to realize that you are out there and reading this and giving feedback.
I absolutely LOVE having this blog. Since July 2007 when my niece Karla (Rambling Roads on my side bar) emailed me and told me she had set one up for me, I have been pleasantly surprised how fun it has been.
I am careful how I spend my time. I am constantly asking myself if what I am doing has lasting value. And so I appreciate when you let me know that you have been encouraged.
I will share with you a part of a letter I received from a lady named Judy that I met and she started reading along too.
She said, "Dear Rachel,
So glad to see you back on here! I have missed your stories and pictures so much! They bring me so much joy! I met you in your store last year?"
I have been told when you prepare a blog post and then click "publish post", it is as though you have had an article published in every newspaper in the world. I did not take that advice lightly.
And so it is important to me that when I spend my time posting that you are encouraged. I want the way I spend my time to have lasting value.
As you go through tomorrow and the rest of the week, look for the fun surprises that may bring you delight. We found joy in admiring the neatly braided horse's mane. Our family has found that looking for small joys is sometimes helpful to take our mind off of irritations.
Thank you Judy, for allowing me to post a tiny part of your letter.
Sigh! How in the world did I think to say all of that tonight? My brain feels blurry! Good night!
P.S. Thank you for the Happy Birthday wishes for Mr. RP!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Happy Birthday Mr. RP

\ Yes, in fact today really is Mr. RP's birthday. And we celebrated. We appreciate having another year!
I overheard little girl chanting under her breath, "Must resist this cake...must resist this cake....must resist this cake." But alas we all had a little cake and we are together and happy. That's what really matters isn't it?
So Happy Birthday Mr. RP. It is a gift to celebrate another birthday with you!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

And Now He Is Gone

Seasons come and go. Life flies past. The angle of the sun seems to be shifting as Autumn approaches.
We got a new next door neighbor this summer. He was so friendly. He would ride his riding lawn mower from house to house and cut the grass of his neighbors including us. It seemed to be therapeutic for him. He always had a big smile and a wave.
I thought I would bake some cookies for him to say thank you. But school was starting and we were in the midst of a few overwhelming projects. I could barely keep up with my family's needs and the demands of work, so I didn't take cookies to could wait I thought.
We appreciated his gesture of kindness in mowing our lawn. Our sons did too!
Then Monday the 16th an ambulance came and took him away. Today he is gone. There will not be a chance to take him cookies. There are no other opportunities for a big smile and a happy wave.
And I'm sad. I don't like to miss opportunities. But how in the world do we ever do everything we wish we could do. There are SO MANY things that are priorities to me that I never have a chance to do. How does that happen? The demands of every day sometimes just pull us along. Time passes. Seasons come and go and opportunities are lost.
Each day I strive to use my time wisely, kindly, industriously and not wastefully, carefully, thoughtfully. I have this overwhelming sense that every moment matters. All I can do is my best...yes that is all I can do.
Good bye, Mr. Joe.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

She Said It Well

Mona was one of you who checked in on me in my absence. She left this comment!
Wsprsweetly Of Cottages said...
My goodness! Where on earth have you gone. I, myself am struggling with blogging. Sometimes life just seems to overtake you and you MUST give it your full attention...

Jump over and visit her. Life is really dealing her some blows.
But yes that is absolutely right...sometimes just life takes our full attention! I like how she said that!

So many are dealing with overwhelming issues. I love the simple pleasures found in the summer wildflowers, herbs and weeds that seem to be bring havoc to the ones who are suffering with seasonal allergies.

I simply could not resist taking a photo of the lacy green fronds of this green rag weed. Although it my mind I could hear my son and husband sneezing as they worked around it.

So if you are struggling with seasonal allergies or terminal illness or fractured relationships or job loss or any of the other things that life can bring your way, I just wanted to come by and leave you with a scripture that has encouraged our family this summer.

The New Testament Second Corinthians Chapter 4 Verses 7 through 10


We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles but we are not crushed. We are perplexed but not driven to despair. We are hunted down but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

I hope this is encouraging to you also for whatever you may be going through and you've had a restful Sunday.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

One Last Thing, I Mean Dress

OK. So by now I figure that you are probably so totally done with me showing you photos of redesigned prom dresses on the "slightly tilted Miss Telda Mannequin" as she sits quietly in the corner of the dining room against the old column. I promise I won't show you anymore for a while. Well maybe never. It's time to move on to other things that are going on around here. There is never a dull moment I'd say. There are LOTS of challenging moments, but never dull ones!
But she wanted slightly capped sleeves on her topless, oops I mean strapless dress, so now she has them, and she was thrilled.
Thanks for following along as I've babbled on about such things.
Have a wonderful day.

Friday, May 14, 2010

All In All Life's An Adventure

I've been to Antarctica
and the Sahara Desert.
I swam with a few sharks...well, maybe not!
However, from Continent to Continent it was an adventure all seen through the excitement of our little girl and the lens of the camera on my phone.
It was a whirl wind trip right through the fabulous confines of the Indianapolis zoo!
I hope you enjoyed it too!
Life just moves along at a dizzying pace. Doesn't it?
But all in all life's an adventure!
I hope you're enjoying it too!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Beads Beads and More Beads

She wanted beads. And SO we did beads...and beads and more beads and we all loved it! The camera on my phone doesn't do this justice of course. If you could see it, I think you'd love it too!
Some day, maybe soon I will quit posting about all these "fashion projects". I've got a bunch of other stuff rattling around in my head to tell you about. But for now, I'm headed to the sewing machine. Only 5 to go to be done for this week's deadlines. Yahoo!
And did I ever tell you that Spring is my favorite time of year? I'm breathing in every moment of fresh crisp air possible and loving all the flowering trees and new GREEN everywhere!!!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

I've Been Asked

I've been asked to fix alot of things. Like this week another one of my sisters and I cranked out 24 prom dresses...we're working on 14 prom dresses, 1 wedding dress and 3 bridesmaids dresses and finishing a set of draperies today. I have an appointment coming in a few minutes for a fitting so I'm jumping on to do a posting and right back off, but I just had to show you this...butterfly.
Yes, I've been asked to fix alot of things like prom dresses and such or the pockets of my Mr. RP's jeans or torn back pack straps for the teenagers or broken toys or torn story book pages, but the sweetest one that stopped me in my tracks was the request to fix the broken wing of this beautiful butterfly. Alas, I realized that there was absolutely nothing I could do except watch it flounder in misery and it made my heart sad.
But sometimes that's the way life is. It deals those blows that can't be fixed and so we find joy and peace amidst the sadness.
In spite of it all have a great weekend. I promise, I really will be back. Gotta scurry...not enough time.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Taking A "Breather"

This is another one of my favorite "redesigns". I took it with my phone...gotta work on the camera situation. I wish you could see its' emerald green splendor!
By the end of today, we will have cranked 29 redesigns, alterations or repairs and 17 fittings, this week alone, through the doors of "A Romantic Porch". Oh and cleaned 7 houses and 2 offices. Well, of course we fit real life and regular work in there somewhere too! Um didn't we?
One of my 4 sweet sisters came 600 miles to help me with sewing for 2 weeks. She fully realizes at this point that I truly couldn't have done this without her.
She leaves Monday.
At this moment, there are only 15 fashion orders for next week and I'll be flying solo! That should be interesting.
It's prom and wedding season, so the fun continues here at "A Romantic Porch"!

I promise I will be time I come up for air!
I miss all of y'all so much.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Shepherd

Years before I was born, my parents raised and cared for sheep. Daddy had a route through Oklahoma and Texas that he would travel to sheer sheep for other people. He entered contests in fairs for sheep sheering. That was in the 1940's.
I've thought alot about how much work it took to care for all of the sheep. During the cold cold winter of 1939, my parents and oldest brother lived in a tent out on the sheep range to be there as the ewes began to birth the lambs. I've heard there were about 600 sheep and they could not afford for any of them to be lost.
Daddy fixed the tent with a stove. That is how mother could cook and they could stay warm and cozy.
Shepherding is filled with responsibility and constant attention to the needs of the sheep.
A shepherd keeps the sheep in the best pasture. If the sheep wander into harms way, the shepherd herds them back to safety. They keep the sheep with a constant supply of food and water. At night the sheep are herded back to the barn or arena to be protected from predators.
I know my parents and I know how hard and diligently they worked in every area of their lives. Though I wasn't born when they were raising and caring for sheep, I know they spared no effort in making sure the sheep were well cared for and had everything they needed.
I also long as...
The Lord is my shepherd, I will not be in need.
Old Testament Psalm chapter 23 verse 1
Have a restful day.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

He Told Me

Mr. RP knows how much I love my blog and the friends that I've made. He hears the comments of people who talk to me about it that never leave a comment. I was telling him how much I miss visiting all of y'all and not having a chance to make posts regularly anymore. I miss not having the opportunity to leave you little comments of encouragement.
Being the good and kind and wise man that he is, he said I should just tell you what I've been doing with myself lately. But I'm not really one to just talk about what I'm doing as though I'm assuming you're even interested.
But I guess I'm going to, when I get a chance...but I'm still trying to get the thank you notes written from Christmas. I know I'm hanging my head in shame. It's not lookin' very good is it? I'm so contentious of how I spend my time. I want every minute to count for something. Aaaarrgh. Don't want to waste my life.

Until then...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The winter has been long and cold. Sometimes the house has been cold! There has been LOTS of snow. I'm always looking for signs of spring. I see a few. For the most part the snow is melted except for the huge dirty piles that are mounded up on the edges of parking lots all over town.
But there is beauty in winter too. We've had fabulous displays of what some people refer to as frozen fog. The trees were breathtaking.
I've learned a lot of winter time lessons. I'm ready to inhale the fresh air of spring. And exhale
to new life.
I want to make each moment count. I don't want to speed through life working hard and harder without purpose. There must be purpose and intent or it is meaningless to me.
So are you seeing signs of spring in your little corner of the world?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tea Party Anyone?

The weather man says it's supposed to be 50 degrees on Saturday.
Yahoo! pumping fist joyfully in the air
I was wondering if we could have a tea party on Saturday? Hhhmm...don't know if it will be quite warm enough, but I guess tea parties don't have to be outside in the flower garden do they?
Our day yesterday was overcast and "lamby".
I hope yours was absolutely wonderful.
Spring will be here one way or another!

Monday, March 1, 2010

March First

Though the weather outside defies the date of the calendar, still time moves along. I took this photo in January and though our mounds of snow are beginning to melt and grass peek through here and there, still it looks VERY winter!

When I was a child I remember Mother and Daddy anxiously awaiting March 1st. They had a saying that goes something like this: "If March weather comes in like a lion (furiously stormy) then it will go out like a lamb (calm and peaceful). You will know Spring has truly arrived.
However if March weather comes in like a lamb, it will go out like a lion."
And so they would usually hope for a stormy March first. If the storms came at the end of the month then they knew we would have a stormy Spring.
Has anyone else heard that?
They grew up in Oklahoma and lived half of their lives there...don't know if that had anything to do with it or not!
Anyway, I'm super excited that it is March 1st.
I'm just happy to be living today!
"Liony" or "lamby"?
Enjoy it!

Friday, February 26, 2010

A Disclaimer!

I said I be back...probably Wednesday! Well, it's Friday. But you already knew that didn't you?
Several of you have told me that you use my blog list to find some of your favorite blogs. There are things I'd like to change about my side bar. My blog list has been one of them.
My disclaimer:
Recently, I was going through my blog list to see which ones were still current or posting. I found one of them no longer takes me to my friend's lovely blog site, but instead right in my face was a not so nice place to visit.
I just want any of you who may use my list to visit other blogs, to know that I don't promote sites that are unwholesome.
In her defense:
My friend has deleted the blogs she has started several times. I know that she deleted this blog also, but I just didn't take it from my list in case she started it again. In the mean time, obviously somehow something very inappropriate took it's place. I know that she did not do this. I should have deleted the unused blog from my list sooner.
I am sorry if this has offended anyone who reads my blog. It has always been my intent to uplift you or inspire you or cause you to think of something you would not have otherwise, when you visit A Romantic Porch.
Can you please accept my apology? Many of you know that the new buzz word for the decade is that we are moving from the "digital decade" to the decade of the "connected culture". Technology is an amazing thing, but I don't want to be caught in the clutches of the downside of it. I want to use it for good things and to promote good concepts and ideas.
I hope you have a wonderful day.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Popcorn and Ice Cream...necessities for a snowy day!

Isn't that hilarious! We made popcorn and snow ice cream. AND it's not even "dumping" out of the bowls.
OK y'all...I'll just go ahead and admit it. I can't keep up with everything I need to do.
So I will be back next week...probably on Wednesday.
At least I'm not spilling the ice cream!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Let It Snow!

When it first started snowing they hurriedly made a snowman, so that the snow which was falling would cover the grass around the snowman. It snowed and snowed and snowed so much that it looked like the snowman became a snow bride!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Fun Project

Since the end of October, I've had the opportunity to do alot of alterations and redesigns for a local formal wear store.
This has been my favorite one so far. I'm trying to figure out how to get my photos to look the way I want them to in this new computer, and I still haven't mastered it. I're sayin', "duh". But I'm just not that savvy with all this stuff and my time is absolutely not my own to just sit and figure it out because I want too. So here is my best attempt.
This semi formal was once a long dress with an intricate line of beads and sequins around the bottom edge of the top layer of 7, yes 7 layers of netting and fabric. Did that make sense? WE wanted to keep that beautiful line of beads. I didn't want to resew all of them! It was interesting to decide how to keep them.

The beautiful girl was wearing this for her 16th birthday party. It was shortened to just below knee length.
I took out the zipper and made a corset back. She wore pink satin "ballet slippers" and a tiara.

She was gorgeous and so very excited.

Her parents allow her and her 3 sisters to have one big birthday party...their 16th. They rented a hall and invited about 100 friends and family.

The decorations sounded fabulous.

What a fun fun project.
Annie and Jasmine, if you read this, thank you for the opportunity to have a tiny part in making your memory.

Thank you so much for leaving comments in the post below letting me know that it is apparently just my screen that is not allowing me to see everything on my blog.

It is snowy and slick and cold here. I'm about ready to poke my head out from my cozy surroundings and slide off to work.

Have a wonderful day y'all. And I'll be back.


Friday, February 5, 2010

Where'd Everybody Go?

So you know that neat little gadget that alot of people started using several months ago which showed the photo of the followers of your blog. Well several weeks ago mine just disappeared. I thought it would come know how blogspot does things like that sometime.
I enjoyed seeing your cheery faces as you signed to follow along. And I've missed seeing y'all so much.
So here is the question. When you are on my blog, can YOU see my followers gadget? And has this happened to anyone else? And do you know how to get it back? Oops I guess that's actually 3 questions!
Now if you suggest going to my settings and choosing, "add a gadget" then choose "followers"...well, I tried that and it told me I had already chosen a "followers" gadget.
So really now. Where'd you go? I've missed seeing you!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Ah, February At Last!

Don'tcha just love February?
It's a time to wonder (with your head in a spin) where in the world January went.
It means that the new year is really really under way, or off to a steady start.
We find out if the ground hog sees or saw his shadow. And no matter the results, Spring is about 6 delightful weeks away!!
And then there is Valentine's Day. I love the decorations in every hue of pink and red. I think they are a great bridge between the loss of the cozy glow of Christmas lights and the cheery pastels of Spring and Easter.
February is a delightfully short month. Blink a couple of times and twirl around and clap your hands. Before you know it March will be here.
So what do you think? Do you love February too?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I'm Glad

that I have feet and I can walk,

that we have lots of warm blankets,

that it is staying light now until 6 PM,

that we are safe,

that we have beds and nighttime,

that we can talk to each other,

that we have running water and electricity.

For all this and so much more, I am really glad.

And I'm glad I have you my blog family and friends.

Sometimes you just need to say it! Huh?

Are you glad?

Love, Rachel

Monday, January 25, 2010

What To Do? What To Do?

Should I just go ahead

and put all the decorations away
today? OR should I wait another month and
see if the invisible maid does it for me while I'm at work?
Hhmmm...what to do? What to do?
Valentine's Day is coming!
Love, Rachel

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Hey! What Are You Waiting For?

Here they are, all 44 of them standing in a line waiting, yes waiting for the palace restroom!
Sometimes don't you feel like you are waiting too?
...waiting for Spring!
...waiting for a new job!
...waiting for the house to sell.
...waiting for a relationship to mend.
...waiting to go on a dream vacation.
...waiting, waiting, waiting...
and then missing out on life
the reality
the here and now.
Helen Keller penned a thought that went something like this:
(and I'm sorry for not getting it correct)
she wanted to be someone great and do great things, but she realized that greatness came from the small tasks and the ordinary accomplishments.
Can you imagine? Helen Keller! I admire her so much and she considered what she was doing to be so ordinary.
And so I remind myself to not be so focused on wishes that I can't enjoy the ordinary.
I frequently say that this is just a season.
It will soon pass.
Change is certain.
Things won't always be this way.
AND they won't!
I've lived long enough to realize that.
So I take a step back and look at the big picture. I remind myself of the goal, the end result and realize that it is all formed within the "small tasks and ordinary accomplishments".
And while I'm waiting...I'm not gonna miss a moment of life...I'm gonna breathe in this frosty and overcast January air and be thankful that I can!
Love, Rachel

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Tea Party!

" OK Momma, it's time for our tea party!" she said. My mind began to race. For starters I was exhausted, though I usually don't use that as an excuse to not do something. Second I still had dishes that I was washing from supper, it was time to start the bedtime routine AND I didn't have scones baked, raspberry tea all ready or crisp cucumber sandwiches in quick supply.
She sensed my hesitancy. Or could she hear those violins quietly playing in the background and the soft spring wind gently fluffing the edges of the tablecloth as the window boxes full of flowers swayed in the breeze...I mean isn't that what everyone pictures when they think of a tea party. Oh my, I just was not prepared...has fallen so so so far behind. Well AND it was cold and dark and snowy and oh so frosty frosty cold. Where could we set the fancy table?
"Come on," she said, "all we have to do is move the books on the window seat. If we work together, it will go fast!" We quickly moved our reading books and in a flash she had the table set with water for tea and "fake fruit" as she called it. She invited the two princes to dine with us. Mr. Mousey Prince and Mr. Leopard Prince, but she reminded me that we had to eat their food, "because you know they aren't real." So there we sat, right where she had sat and had tea with one of her aunts a few days earlier, laughing and giggling, eating our fake food and the two Princes' food too. We took silly pictures of ourselves and she reminded us to be much more ladylike.
For me this will always be a memory. It was such a quick and easy thing to do at the end of a tired busy day when the work is not done. But the work is never done, and one day she'll be gone and I'll still have dishes to wash and clients to satisfy. But that night I learned just how much fun an impromptu tea party with water for tea and "fake fruit" for food, can be!
I wonder if it will always be a memory for her too.
Just in case you were wondering, Prince Mousey is hiding behind a plate over there at the edge of the picture.
What impromptu things have you done lately?
Love, Rachel

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Porch For January 2010?

In consideration of the devastating earthquake that has ravaged Haiti, I will not feature a "Romantic Porch" for the month of January 2010.
My heart is broken for the people who have lost their lives and homes. I'm sure many of them wish for a romantic porch from which to come and go from home and comfort themselves and others.
Love, Rachel

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

How To Cut An Onion Without Crying

At the very bottom of this blog post, 
 you will find the directions for cutting an onion without crying. 
 In my experience, if I vary from this at all,
I will cry...
so I do it the same way every time
Do not vary from the directions.
 If you want to read the story behind the method, then keep reading! 
 Thanks for stopping by!
 I'm not picky about the type of onion that I buy...sweet, Vidalia, white, etc.
 I buy what is on sale,
unless I need a red one to garnish a salad.
 I don't eat raw onions.
 Nope, just will not do it...don't care for the smell or taste!
 And I love vegetables, but is an onion really a vegetable?
 However I know they are extremely healthy,
 so I usually include them in meat dishes
 or stir fry
and when we have a meal
that I know my guests will enjoy them as a garnish.
 My onions are stored under our kitchen island in a large plastic bowl.
I always chop the whole onion.
 Any I don't use, goes straight into a Ziploc bag
 and promptly to the freezer,
ready for use in a cooked meal.
 That way my fridge doesn't smell like freshly chopped onion either...
just a few of my quirks revealed here!

I originally posted this on January 12, 2010,
 but have been asked how I cut an onion without crying,
so I am re posting it today.
 At Christmas one of my sisters was here for a few days.
We were having a large family meal with my husband's side of the family.
 A big bowl of chopped onions was part of the menu (chili...another post).
I plopped 3 very large onions down on the counter and told my sister,
 "Here, chop these."
 I went about my business with other "kitcheny things"
 like you do preparing a meal,
when suddenly I realized that I was crying,
 no actually bawling...
a full on 4 tissue cry!
 I thought, "What in the world?"
 Looking at my sister, saw that she was crying too.
 Her eyes were clamped tightly closed
 with her nose daintily tipped in the air.
 Her hands were stretched as far away from herself as possible
 and still be able to chop the onion.
 Tears were streaming down her face.
I apologized profusely through my tears for making her cry.
 Now, doesn't that sound silly?
 I had no idea that chopping onions
 would have that effect on her or myself for that matter!
 I said, "I never cry when I chop onions,
 I wouldn't have asked you to do it if I'd have known they made you cry."
She wanted to know how I chopped an onion,
so I grabbed a knife and an onion and started to show her.
 Then we began to laugh.
How could I possibly show her that my way of chopping an onion
 doesn't make you cry...we were both in a full on cry at the time! A few days later and hundreds of miles away she sent me a text message. She'd cut an onion for a meal,
 and she hadn't cried!
 It feels very egotistical to call cutting an onion MY WAY...
I didn't even really realize that I had "a way" until I started to show her,
 then Ah ha, it hit me...
I do this the same way
Ah the things learned from a Sis! I just wonder if this will work for anyone else.
Last night I chopped an onion
and I could feel the "onion juice" spray on my fingers
 and I did feel a slight burning sensation in my eyes and I thought,
"Oh no, I've put myself on the line here
 and now I'm truly gonna cry."
 But the sensation went away and I didn't cry.

I'm sorry these photos are blurry,
 but quite frankly I was a tad bit grossed out
 with the idea of getting onion juice on the camera,
so this is what I got.

And speaking of onion juice,
 when I'm finished chopping,
I put a tiny bit of dish detergent in my hands
 and hold a stainless steel spoon while I wash the soap off of my hands...
no stinky onion smell!
So well there,
 now I've told you all I know about chopping an onion in about 8.7 minutes. I'd love to know if this works for you too.
1. Cut the stem of the onion off first.
2. Peel down the papery skin and the first layer of the onion sorta like shucking corn. You know what that is right?
3. Cut off the root and the papery skin stuff and the first layer or two of the onion all a the same time...just cut right across all of it and separate it from the bottom of the onion.
4. Set the onion down on a cutting board,  stem top down on the board..
5. Make a slice through the onion with the root end up towards you...remember you put the stem end down on the cutting board.
6. Then lay both halves of the onion down on the plate cut side down.
7. Begin to make slices through 0ne half of the onion, starting at the stem side, cutting so the slices make little arches.
8. Turn the onion half that is sliced in little arches around,  and make another cut across the arches to make little onion pieces. You can make all of these slices as big or as little as your recipe demands. For stir fry I make big slices and for meat dishes, I try to make little tiny slices.
9. If you have a food processor, none of this matters anyway.
10. Hurry stop reading this and go chop an onion. Do a happy dance if you don't cry. Be sure to wash away the stinky onion juice holding a stainless steel spoon, and then rush right back to your computer and tell me if it works for you too.
If it does...I think I'll just set right down and have myself a good cry, a full on 4 tissue bawl my eyeballs out kind of cry!

Happy chopping.
Love, Rachel

I'm sorry for the blurry pictures.  I hope they helped a tiny bit.
As soon as I can, I will update the photos.
P.S. If you read to the very end of all of this, thank you thank you so much!
On a side note:
Last night as she sauntered into the kitchen our little girl said, "By the way, what's for supper mama? It's gotta be something romantic!" "Romantic!" I said, "Where'd ya get that idea?"
I wonder if chicken tacos qualifies as romantic?
She must have thought so because she scurried around to write menus and set up a restaurant!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Onions! How Weird!

I'm just curious. When you cut onions do you cry? I mean not because you are happy or sad, but because the odor burns your eyes. I rarely ever cry "over onions"!
One of my sisters and I have done an interesting experiment with onions. Well, at least we were amused with it. I'll tell you about it...later this week.
But first, please do you cry "over onions"?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Joys of January

I just heard the courthouse clock chime the distinct gong gong gong of another hour. Still it resonates purposefully in the crisply frigid morning air. It is dark and cold. However, I certainly don't question the time.
Two of my children came to me at separate times in the middle of the night to tell me something they thought was important or express a need. Then they were back to bed and sound asleep. There I was, wide awake, thinking. I'm so glad they could come to me. The years are passing quickly and I realize the time will come they won't wake me in the night.
I'm glad they have a warm bed and a roof over their heads. I hope they felt safe and loved. I remember waking my mother all those years ago. I never realized when I awakened her, it might be the last wink of sleep she would have for many many hours. Oh my, she worked so hard, so tirelessly. And I may have snipped away her only rest with one immature request.
And so wide awake in the darkness, I thought about the year that has passed.
I've heard gobs of people say what a hard year it was. I would agree, but it's history now.
I'm a list maker, a note taker, a schedule planner, a "thoughts writer". But as life has carried me along just like the crisp air carried the time from the courthouse clock, (well now that analogy made absolutely no sense whatsoever, but I continue) I realize that so many times the needs and wishes of others truly take precedent to what is on my list or my schedule and honestly I struggle to get everything done. Well, I don't get everything done. I remind myself that life is filled with phases and seasons.
The purpose of the courthouse clock beautifully displayed high on the clock tower is to inform the downtown citizens of the current time. I depend on the chiming gong gong gong of the new hour.
I reflect on my life's purpose. Is it simply to check off my list or keep my schedule? Those are important. But I am called by a purpose much larger than who I am or the lists I make. Can my husband and children and others depend on me?
So after going on and on about lists and schedules and purpose, I will tell you one my greatest joys in the month of January...seeing the daylight hours slowly grow just a little longer. It makes the long shadows of winter whisper ever so faintly of spring! Yay! Spring!
I hope your new year is already flickering with joy!
Love, Rachel

Sunday, January 3, 2010


I'm so excited. I feel like I could float on air!
Our family was "gifted" a used laptop! Oh my it is so nice. You know we never mind second hand treasures! I just hope anything I said about computer woes wasn't interpreted as whining!
Maybe I could allow myself to think for about 8.3 seconds that they missed my blog posts! But I won't allow any indulgences to my ego!
Oh I'm so very very grateful! AND now we can use our "elderly computer" (as one my dear blog readers called it) exclusively for the survey drawings. Yahoo! See my happy dance?...or is that sliding down a candle?
I trust you have found joy from second hand treasures today too!
Love, Rachel