Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Happiness in a Mug

We all have it; that terribly incessant inward groan. Must. Have. Chocolate.


It's summer. It's hot. You don't want an ENTIRE cake, just a bite. A nibble really. Microwave cake in a mug to the rescue. Ready in five minutes and guaranteed to meet that chocolate need.

My mother sent me this recipe. I have no idea of its origin. If you do, then do tell. Thanks.

Microwave Chocolate Cake in a Mug

In a large, microwave safe mug, mix
4 Tablespoons flour
4 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons cocoa

Mix well
and add
1 egg

Mix well again

Now add
3 Tablespoons milk
3 Tablespoons oil
3 Tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
and a splash of vanilla

Mix well and place in microwave. Cook on 1000 watts for 3 minutes. It will rise up in your mug. It's all good, no worries.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes (yeah, right!) It will slide right out of the mug and you can start placing it in your face. hothothothotswallow.

You can even share it. Again, yeah, right!

Made one this morning. Kids loved the idea. I love the taste. Let me know if you try it or have variations.

Monday, June 22, 2009

One of the Eight

Earlier this summer, I posted 8 promises I made to myself, thanks to magpiegirl and her fabulous blog.

Here we are, nearing the end of June (!) and I pat my back with some progress. Sadly, some of my progress means grieving. Our sweet dog, Chewy, had to be put to sleep on June 9th after 12 fantastic years with our family. Chewy, you might remember, was a huge old Rotty who thought he was a cat. I called him "E's dragon," because he always slept at the foot of our 5 year old's bed, protecting him.

Sparing the details, suffice it to say his demise was quick and relatively pain free (as far as we know). In a shocking twist, I was charged with this final task, a day of vet's visits and finally the putting down. I say shocking because I am pet-ambivalent. Critters populate this house because I am a sucker for my children. I make sure there is food and they get outside for personal business but that's all they get from me. Love and petting and all that, they get from three happy children.

Turns out, this putting a dog down business is tough, even for the "pet ambivalent." I suppose I find Chewy's connection to our family on a broader plane. My sister-in-law who adopted him witnessed Chewy's birth. He was present and loving when my mother-in-law passed away suddenly and he was a solid soldier friend to my father-in-law in that painful hour of grief after her loss. Chewy seemed like a connection to the past, to people and memories and times that only exist in the ephemera. And so saying goodbye to him was like releasing that tenuous grasp on those vague figures.

I cried like a baby. I blubbered and blubbered. I even took his collar! I stayed right by his big old sad face until he was still and then I stayed some more. I felt a shift in my heart, and I could finally admit that I loved that dumb old dog.

So you see? I am making progress on my 8 promises. I am embracing my inner pet owner. Or maybe the pets are embracing me?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

On a Long Leash

If I don't get up at 6(ish) every day to run with our rescue dog, Cooper, he leaves enormous and smelly "presents" for me under my sewing table. No where else in the house. Always directly under where I sit. Since I spend at least an hour a day in my studio I like it to be poop-free. I know, crazy!

I paid the price today. Slept til 7. The rascal left his surprise. I didn't want to risk another, so I laced up the old sneakers and took him out. Running with him is a lot like trying to shop for groceries with a toddler and thank God I'm not doing that anymore. They have to touch everything, explore, pull stuff out, run around, get lost, have tantrums.

Cooper bolts out the door and promptly stops to smell the mailbox. He then eats a few grass blades from the neighbor's yard. There are some flowers down the street he simply must mark. Because he is young dog, and because I have seen his crazy morning excitement, Cooper runs on a leash that extends and retracts. This works best for both of us: I don't have to wait for him and he doesn't have to wait for me. We are always connected.

That's the idea behind a leash. It keeps two parties connected. One of them must hold the leash, keep it stable, make sure the other end doesn't get wrapped around a pole or run off unhindered. The leash holder must know the path, must know when to spur the other on, must know when to stop and wait for the "leashee" to smell that pretty flower or chase that taunting bunny.

This morning as I ran with Cooper I was reminded that as Christians, God gives us a pretty long leash. I don't want to get to literal or too wildly metaphoric about it, but it's true. It's easy for me to get distracted by the next new thing, or what those people over there are doing. I want to go check it out, see what they're up to.

At the end of the day, I'm still on that leash. And I'm cool with that. It's a guide, it's a comfort, it's an anchor that tells me where home is, and that I'm safe, that I'm headed in the right direction. And it's always there. All I have to do is turn around.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

I Been Busy

Angela wants a sushi belt for summer. A "sushi belt?" you ask. Yes, a sushi belt. I ordered some sushi fabric up from an etsy seller in Hawaii and made this sweet number. Ribbon lined and interfaced with stiff facing to hold its shape. Two silver toned D rings make the belt fully adjustable.

These little ladies are for my friend Laureen who prefers tea but does not prefer it when her tea bags get sucked into the bottom of her purses. Tea bag wallets are fabric envelopes that will hold your favorite brews in four little pockets. You could probably fit 2 bags in each pocket. Held closed with a ribbon and button.

When I moved to Oklahoma from Pittsburgh, PA, City of Champions, the one thing I could not get used to is the use of the word "sack" for every bag-like apparatus. My spine tingles, and not in a good way, when I hear this word. In honor of my new hometown, Tulsa, I made these poop sack sacks, because, well, they make me laugh. Or the name does. Poop sack sack. Just what it says it is. Clips onto a leash and carries 3-5 disposable bags for poop picking up. Could also be for "diaper bombs" as my sister calls them or even your car for trash. Whatever you need a "sack" (ew) for.
My friend Mary asked for a fabric, behind the door hair doodad organizer for her daughter. She wanted clear pockets and a place for headbands as well. Here is my iteration of that. It hangs on a rod, has a ribbon tool holder (center) and four large vinyl gusseted pockets (and 2 small ones on either end). I thought the hair holders and barrettes would work in the pockets and the headbands could slip into the ribbon. Also, another ribbon or two could be added, as well as more pockets. It can be monogrammed or otherwise customized, and more pockets might make a nice addition as well. Of course, this is just the sample but if you want it, let me know.

Also, the image placement here is giving me a headache, so sorry about the weirdness.

Leave a comment to win a poop sack sack.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Lessons from the Boat

Kids are profound and detailed observers. They see things I might never notice but for their attention. I found myself thankful for their perspective this Sunday morning, when we, like my friend Kristin, skipped church for the great outdoors.

A stiff wind blew across Grand Lake o' the Cherokees as we loaded up the boat for a quick morning jaunt. Now, Oklahoma is not mountainous terrain, so we take our hills and turn them into mountains in our imaginations. These imagined mountains rose up around us, the boat chugging out into open waters. Once out past the white peaks that formed near the dock, the boat settled into a rhythm perfect for this kind of kid observation.

I watched as my kids and their cousins craned their little heads around, trying to absorb everything. The shape of the clouds, the color of the water, the Blue Heron and the big fish. Their eyes and minds darted over the surface of the lake, scanned the horizon, interpreting their world, their fingers pointing at all they saw.

Someone turned on the boat's radio and I rolled my eyes. I would have preferred the relative quiet. But a song was playing with lyrics that reminded me of my exact spot in the world. It's refrain proclaimed "from sunrise to sunset, I will fix my eyes on your glory."

I took a short moment, I didn't want to get all preachy up on them, to say that everything they saw was made by a God who loves them. Now, it could have been just me, puffed up that I was giving a lesson, but it seemed like their eyes changed, their necks lengthened, their focus sharpened.

They see the hilarious creativity in a God who gives the Heron its funny color and long neck, who makes a fish slippery and scaly, whose trees bow in the wind and whistle His name. I said, when something does what it was created to do, it shows God's glory." Here endeth the lesson, but I watched them watch the world.

"So, birds always do what they were created to do," one of them wondered. I agreed. More thinking.

"So, they always bring glory to God." Yep again.

Not only are kids observational geniuses, they are also perceptive. They knew what I was getting at. They knew that this idea applies to them. When His creations are doing what they were created to do, it reflects Him.

I observe my kids as intently as the observe their world. I don't know all they were created to do. It will be an amazing journey to find out.