Thursday, July 30, 2009

Tea Time!

About a week ago I decided to make some traditional Irish brown bread and vegetable soup. I've been missing Ireland, so what better way to reminisce about the experience than by sitting down to the same food I was served while in the beautiful Emerald Isle! I also wanted to give my family the experience of an Irish tea.

I found a couple recipes online and went to the store to retrieve the ingredients. Brown bread is a dense, grainy bread that uses baking soda as its rising ingredient; fairly simple to bake for a beginner in the bread department...from what I read on the internet. Friday night I baked two loaves of brown bread to eat with the soup for Saturday. They looked very nice...except that they both cracked around the middle!

(Sorry, blogger is dumb and wouldn't post the pic correctly. Grrr!)

Saturday evening I went to work on the soup. Ireland's vegetable soup is quite different from our own. Our vegetable soup is generally tomato based. Irish vegetable soup is carrot and potato based. The recipe also called for parsnips, turnips and leeks.

I have never before seen a leek, let alone know what one was. And parsnips and turnips aren't a regular part of my diet either. Let's just say that Meijer wasn't quite prepared for a big demand in these few vegetables.

I got up early Saturday morning and started peeling and chopping all of the vegetables. Later that evening I made the soup. This particular recipe called for sage, parsley and thyme - with a little bit of salt and pepper to taste - for the seasoning. I had fun making it!

My most favorite part about the soup is that it is pureed. I understand that some people wouldn't be satisfied with just pureed soup for dinner. My dad was a little concerned because 1) he doesn't really care for soup, and 2) especially when it's pureed. I must say, however, that typically the pureed soup is eaten at tea time - which isn't supposed to be a whole meal anyways, simply a "snack." In America we don't have "tea time," we have supper...consisting of something hearty like a slab of steak, a heap of potatoes and a good portion of veggies. But for my sake, we were going to have "tea time." Yep, I even made tea (Irish Breakfast) and served it with the soup and bread. ;)

We set the table and prepared to dig in to what looked so delicious! I even arranged the place setting like it would be in Ireland...I think.

I took my first bite of the brown bread and it literally made my stomach churn. It was SO salty! It must have been that salted butter I used because we didn't have any unsalted butter like the recipe called for. It was also too doughy in the center. (I blame it on the recipe.) "Hopefully the soup will be better," I thought to myself. Yuck! The soup wasn't salty enough! Then I remembered that I never did do a taste test before serving it. I also found out that I do NOT like parnips, or was it the turnips - perhaps both.

I was so disappointed in how the bread AND the soup turned out. Well, my family must have liked it because they ate it up! They, however, never had the good stuff to compare my cooking to. They'd be turning their noses up too if they had tasted what I had been served in Ireland.

Oh well, there's always a first time to everything. I'll just have to get better recipes for the next time!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Closer to God

I finished reading another book! Recommended to me by my aunt, I read The Shack, by William P. Young.

I don't normally read modern fiction - and by modern I mean written recently. I prefer the classics. But my aunt told me that it was an extremely good book and worth the read. So I decided to try it.

Before delving into the book I glanced over the reviews. They gave me goosebumps of anticipation. One review reads, "When you close the back cover you will be changed." I couldn't wait to start reading!

To summarize, it's a book about the goodness and love of God revealed through the life of one hurt and disappointed man. We all have ideas and presumptions of what God is like. Most people in the world have the wrong idea of who God is. This book reveals God's love and attributes in a very real, tangible way.

"The Shack is like standing by the ocean, closing your eyes and breathing deeply, filling your lungs with purity after choking for so long on the stifling smog of religiosity," as one reviewer stated. Young certainly knew how to break down the walls of the box that we all put God in.

As the review predicted, I was changed. I laughed, I cried, I was convicted, I prayed. God used that book to draw me closer to Him, to remind me of who He is and to teach me knew things about Him.

The biggest lesson I learned was that God does not orchestrate tragedies to teach us lessons. But He does USE those painful situations to teach us things - about Him, about ourselves, about others and life. He lets the world turn and allows nature to take it's course. But this doesn't mean that He is someTHING that keeps His distance from His creation. Psalm 46:1 says, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."

For all those wishing to draw closer to God I would highly recommend reading this book.

Friday, July 17, 2009

A Blast from the Past

I was going through some stuff of mine and found my great grandpa's senior yearbook from 1931!.

He sure was a handsome guy! It's neat to be able to see a little bit of myself in this picture of my Great Grandpa Gray.

Looking through the yearbook I noticed that everyone had a nickname and a quote. My grandpa's nickname was "Rony" (probably pronounced Ronnie). His quote reads, "My tongue within my lips I rein: for who talks much must talk in vain." I like his quote because it describes him perfectly. Grandpa always was a quiet and reserved man. I only found one other picture of him in the yearbook. He was on the Apple Judging Team.

There are so many "strange" things all throughout the book. First, I noticed that none of the men smiled for their pictures. About half of the women did, but not a single man smiled for his picture.

I also noticed that popularity was an issue even in the 30s. Two of their mock elections say "Most Popular Girl (among girls)/(among boys)" and "Most Popular Boy (among girls)/(among boys)." (Because it's just SO important to make that distinction. *she says in a sarcastic tone*) Some of the funny ones included: Class Shark, Class Sheik, Class Gum Chewer, Class Roughneck, Best Girl/Boy Dancer.

Just a few other oddities:

They dedicated the yearbook to their PARENTS! Wow! You'd never see that happen these days.

The valedictorian and salutatorian's speeches are typed up in the yearbook.

They had an agriculture teacher!

It seems every female in the 30s was born with extremely wavy hair.

They put the custodian's picture on the first page.

The drama club was called The Dramatic Club.

They included a calendar of events recording the highlights from each day from September 1 - December 19. Quite interesting the things they put on the calendar.
A few excerpts worth reading:
Sept. 8 - First fire drill. Two frosh hurt in rush for the door.
Sept. 10 - We all rented a locker today. All those that had a $1.00.
Sept. 22 - The fair is over and our money is gone.
Sept. 23 - The seniors are makig a wonderful attempt to become dignified.
Sept. 30 - Someone borrowed 100 pads of theme paper.
Oct. 1 - Investigation concerning lost paper.
Oct. 7 - Wayne Burdick takes a nap the seventh period every day.
Oct. 15 - Noret Flood got excused to go hunting.
Oct. 28 - Ogden Amstutz left school.
Oct. 29 - They're still talking about that lost paper.
Dec. 10 - Mr. Snow quieted assembly with a whistle. This is an original idea.

It really is a neat piece of history; and to think that it is my Great Grandfather's history!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Blue Moon

Today I was able to enjoy one of summer's best experiences: Blue Moon Ice-Cream. Many of you have never tasted, let alone heard of, Blue Moon. This is because it comes from the great state of Michigan!

The flavor is indescribable. All I can say is that it is SO delicious...and BLUE! Eating this ice-cream brings back childhood memories of when I was just 4 or 5 years old going to the ice-cream store my dad worked at as a teenager to get Blue Moon ice-cream, eaten in a homemade waffle cone. Or sitting in the Meijer Purple Cow Cafe with Grandpa Byers, while mom and grandma shopped, eating Blue Moon ice-cream. Or stopping by the ice-cream stand in Silver Lake after a day at the beach to get Blue Moon ice-cream.

Who knew that so many memories could be stored in one flavor of ice-cream!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Last Night's Dreams

Dreams are so interesting and random. I had so many of them last night. I thought it would be amusing to retell the dreams I dreamt.

The first one started out as a huge choir event. Several choirs were going to sing together. It was night time so all of us girls ran to the dormitory to claim our beds. Charity and I were overnight partners and we found a bedroom that hadn't been claimed yet. The 60 or so other girls had to share one large open room. I remember that this bedroom had a bathroom attached to it, but somehow the girls were getting into our room. At the back of the linen closet was a small door that led into the large open room. They kept coming in and bothering us. How annoying!

The next scene was of all us girls being herded out of the dormitory (don't remember why). I remember climbing stairs similar to those in the Music Hall trying to find Charity in the crowd. It was a massive move that transitioned into us riding bare back on a horse. Charity and I had climbed onto a horse with someone else in order to get away from something. We were going so fast I thought I was going to fall off. But it was the most exhilerating feeling because the ride wasn't choppy at all. It was like we were flying.

From there we turned into little rubber toy animals running for all we were worth. I don't know what we were running from but we had to get somewhere to hide. There were toy rats, horses, elephants, and more. We were running through a town - under crates, over walls, through pipes. Sadly, we lost one - a chubby blue elephant. That dream ended there with no conclusion.

The next dream opens up just after a huge storm swept through town. My mom, step-dad and I were driving around when we came upon a house where a huge tree landed on it. We stopped and went in to see if everyone was okay. This was a huge house of a very wealthy couple. We went in to find the couple in the kitchen, which hadn't been touched by the tree. My mom automatically started cleaning the kitchen. I think I made some tea for the lady. As helpful as we were trying to be this wealthy couple didn't even acknowledge that we were there. So we just left.

From there the dream transitioned into a flooded campground. I was out riding my bike when it started storming again. I found out that if I peddled the bike fast enough I could ride on top of the water. I was having a blast riding in the flooded campground when all of a sudden a whirlpool started to form. Apparantly, the dream decided to turn the flooded field into a lake. It was downpouring so hard and the whirlpool started to suck me in. Suddenly, someone reached out and saved me. We just stood on the porch taking in the scene. Now there were two whirlpools!

Another transition takes place here. Now I'm in a scene that reminds me very much of Indiana Jones. I'm in a cave but I'm not me. My perspective comes from a man who looks very much like Tarzan (very well could've been). Something, some kind of monster, is after him and his family. His wife and children are caught in tree vines. Tarzan (I'll say) has a vine in his hand and uses it like Indy uses his whip. His children are already up on a ledge but his wife is still stranded. Just as Tarzan gets to his wife, the branch that he was holding on to started to crack and break. As this is happening the monster is much closer, almost to them. As each second passes death comes even closer. From the back of the cave loomes the monster (he reminded me of that big red hairy monster from Bugs Bunny). Somehow Tarzan find another vine to use and he swings his wife up on the ledge. From the ledge he and his family run out of the cave. Lo and behold it comes out at the back of the campground. The dream ends here and I don't know what happened to the monster.

The next dream is a completely different one altogether. I went into a gas station to pay for gas and to buy a slushy. For some reason it seemed to take forever. After paying for those things the girl at the counter gave me 40 something dollars back - but it was all in play money! I didn't really understand why I was getting that much money back but I didn't think about it that much. I just wanted to know how she could've mistaken play money for real money. It's so much smaller! I brought it to her attention and she apologized and gave me real money. Then she also said that I had a check from a church across the street. What? Why would I get money from a church I'm not even affiliated with? I asked the manager guy about it and he seemed a little suspicious of me. He thought I was trying to get more money out of them. Something on the check indicated that I had been getting scholarship money from them for the past 5 years. I was so confused. I didn't know who the people were and this was the first time I ever received a check (don't know why from the gas station). The manager said he was going to call the police but I was trying to explain to him that I didn't want the money. I didn't know why I was getting the money. I concluded that my identity must have been stolen and that the thief was who was getting the checks. After that the dream ended.

Wow, it is so hard to write about dreams! I can't believe I remembered all of that from last night. Anyways, sorry to have bored you, but I did warn you.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

On the road to recovery

I went back to the doctor today. They took out the stitches and also took X-rays. The doc says my feet look really good. I think they look horrible! He said that I can start walking on them more and that I need to excercise my toes. I'm scared...cuz it hurts to wiggle them!

I went to Wal-Mart right after the doctor's appointment and was so tempted to drive the little electric buggy...but I chickened out. At home I've been using a walker to get around because it's much easier than the crutches. But I even chickened out from using that to go to the doctor's office because of the stigma that they are for old people (no offense to any old people reading this). So I used the crutches instead. I wish I had a little bit more of the "I-don't-care-what-people-think" attitude. Oh well, I survived my first public outing.

I thought about it and...I guess I'll post a picture of my feet. I'm sure you are just dying to see what they look like.

Friday, July 3, 2009

No, I'm not going to update on the past few days. I'm kind of sick of writing about the nothing that I do.

You ever get the feeling that nobody really loves you or accepts you? That no matter what you do it's not good enough for anybody? Your personality stinks and will never get better, you make too many mistakes, and the love you get is earned. Yeah, I'm feeling it. The walls have finally come down...again. You build them on unstable ground and they are bound to come down eventually. *sigh* Oh well. The feelings come and go. Let's just hope they go by tomorrow.

On a lighter note, tomorrow is the Fourth of July. Happy birthday to America!