Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What the Trashbag Held...

While in Highland County this past weekend, my one Uncle stopped by for a visit with my Granddad and I. He asked me to go out to his truck and bring him the trashbag that was in the back. The bag seemed a little heavy, but nothing unusual. It wasn't until my Uncle opened the bag and brought out a bear head with blood still coming from it that I realized what I was so closely holding.

I didn't get that first picture of the bear head resting on the ground next to the splattered blood all over the outside porch. It's too bad I missed that kodak moment :)

I was able to get these later photos. The bear was one that had been treed by hunting dogs and killed that morning, so it was nice fresh.

Here's a picture of my Uncle's dog, Red, with the bear's head. Red was one of the dogs that enjoyed the hunting expedition earlier that morning.

My Uncle wouldn't stand in front the camera to have his picture taken with the bear's head. He told me if I wanted his picture it would be the back end only...I complied :) Here's my Uncle picking up his bear head to re-bag. I've entitled the photo "Obstinate Uncle" I think it's very fitting :)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Weekend in Highland County

This past weekend I spent in Highland County with my Granddad. I made sure to take my new camera along with me to get some pictures around the homestead where he lives. I also ended up showing my Granddad some of the new features on my camera, including the video. We took a video of him, so he could see himself on camera. I know the video was for him, but it came out as a wonderful memory for me. I thought I'd take some time to share it all with you. Say Hello to my Granddaddy Vance...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

In Far Away Lands...

The other day I was writing an email to a friend, and the subject of weather came up. Though that might seem to you tedious small talk, it was actually quite interesting to think about as I wrote my email.

You see my friend (Trevor is his name - Hi Trev!) happens to live in South Africa where the weather is nice and hot at this time as they enter Summer there (I know, it's hard to believe when we're entrenching ourselves in winter). He's out on vacation sporting T-shirts and bare feet, and I'm bundling up in various layers anticipating the first real significant snow of the winter season (that's right all you Utahans we haven't gotten any significant snow yet here in Virginia).

The whole weather issue got me think about other issues involving distance and far away lands. Not only can you have seasonal differences between the hemispheres, but there is also the varying degree in which you will experience the seasonal climates in your locale. Let's look at Virginia and Utah for example (great example since I've lived in both states).

First there is Virginia where the seasons are truly set apart from one another. You have a definite Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall, each lasting about the 3 month period that you would expect them too (for the most part). In opposition there is Utah with it's Summer and Winter seasons as I call them. In Utah Fall and Spring are reserved for a few days in between Summer and Winter that just easily pass you by. While I was living in Utah I hated the Spring season the most (where it is my favorite in Virginia). In Utah Spring is deceiving! One moment it's harsh winter with snow coming down all around you, then the next day the snow is almost all melted away at the temperature is 70 degrees or more. Don't get too comfortable though, the very next morning you'll awake to 8 inches of snow and more coming down by the minute.

Springtime in Virginia is lovely. You know that when Spring weather finally arrives in Virginia that Winter is behind you and Summer is a few short months away. In Virginia Spring is what a should be a nice transition :)

One unfortunate thing about Winter in Virginia is that we can often get the cold weather without getting the lovely snow. At least in Utah when the weather is cold there is snow to look at and enjoy playing in.

If you haven't noticed already it doesn't seem to matter where I live I can still manage to come up with a complaint or two about the weather. I'm afraid complaining about the weather is an inbred trait that I might never rid myself of, it comes with being raised as a farmer's daughter. At the present moment my complaint is that I'm not in South Africa :) Though I'm sure my desire to be there is not entirely weather related. I would just be interested in seeing more of the country that I visited at one time years ago. And you know me I can't sit still in one place too long, my mantra seems to be, MUST TRAVEL!

I mentioned earlier that I was thinking about issues involving distance and far away lands that were not related to weather. My other thought was about time zones.

The more global I become in my thoughts and my friendships the more I hate time zones. Times zones keep interfering in my relationship with others. The most hated time zone difference I experience now is the two hour difference between Virginia and Utah. Take last night for example, I called my friend Fou at around 8:00 p.m. his time and 10:00 p.m. mine, did not get him on the line. When he was finally free to talk and called me back it was 9:28 p.m. his time and 11:28 p.m. mine. Since I had been sleeping for about an hour at that point I remember groggily grabbing the phone and turning it off. Sorry Fou!

Trev is another example, the times we've chatted online haven't been often because it's usually near midnight his time while it is only around 5:00 p.m. mine. That seven hour time difference is a real killer.

The greatest time difference though is with my friend William who is living and studying in China. There you have a 12 hour time difference. Actually, that time difference isn't as bad as it sounds. At least when he is getting up early in the morning I'm settling down at my computer in the evening and vice versa.

Sorry, that this blog seems to be full of complaints. Most of you realize that I'm not usually a negative person. I usually manage to find the positive in most all things, so on that note let me end with this thought.

Come December 25th I'll be experiencing Christmas in cold, winter-like Virginia with a possibility of snow!! A WHITE CHRISTMAS!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Movie Night

Last evening I spent at the Yoder Home watching the extended version of Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring. It's not as if I haven't seen this movie before, so I made sure to bring with me some of my knitting (I've been knitting the same green scarf for what seems like forever), and my new camera.

I spent the first part of the evening taking candid and somewhat posed shots of my friends. Then before I left Brendan gave me a quick lesson on my new camera. I have a real respect for people who are able to pick up equipment and gadgets (before looking at the manual) and just know how it's too work. I'm not that technologically inclined, and that especially holds true with my new camera.
I've been working really hard trying to teach myself all the new features on my camera, and within a minute Brendan was pulling up screens on that camera that I hadn't even realized existed. So, Brendan if you're reading this blog I want you to go ahead and clear some time in your schedule for me. I need help!

Here are some of the photos that were taken last evening:
The three Yoder Siblings, Brendan, Stephanie and Kyle. Brendan is obviously aware of the photo I'm taking and is ignoring me with a smile. Stephanie is tired of my of my picture taking by this time and is giving me annoyed/murder-in-the-eye look. Kyle just doesn't care a whit that I'm holding a camera and just kept on doing his own thing. Go Kyle :)

Here is the gingerbread train that the Yoders made in the afternoon before the rest of the guest arrived. Pretty ain't it?

Same train just a different angle. Look at all that candy!

My beautiful cousin Rebekah who came to join us for the movie night. I don't think she liked this photo that much. I will admit the flash kind of funky.

Here's one of the photos that Brendan took in giving me my camera lesson. He was teaching me how to manual focus my camera for close up photos. Stephanie was blissfully unaware of the photo being taken as she continued to watch the movie.

As my photo taking skills improve on my new camera I'll be sure to upload the pictures for your enjoyment.

Pick-Up Lines...

When I was growing up we always called our truck a pick-up. I don't know if that's a universal term or just a southern thing, or maybe just a Heatwole thing. Anyways, what I want to share involves a pick-up and a rather ridiculous pick-up line.

The other day I was walking around downtown Harrisonbug, when I came to an intersection I needed to cross. I noticed that traffic seemed to be stopped at the red light, but just to make sure I was not going to get run over by an over eager driver that might turn right on red I made eye contact with the driver. I noticed that he noticed me, and then I proceeded to cross the street.

I made it only a few steps when the driver in pick-up (see I told you this story involved a pick-up) started moving forward on me. He slammed on his brake about the same time I jumped back and looked at him.

What I saw was a 40's something guy, smoking a cigarette, and rocking out to country music in his rather large red pick-up. He smiled at me and winked.

My reaction was to roll my eyes and keep on walking, and as I walked on he yelled out the window at me, "Hey babe, it's cold out there why don't you get in my truck and I'll warm you up."

I don't know what was worse, his attitude that he could just say that to any old woman on the street. What if I hadn't been single? Or maybe it was the trying to get my attention by pretending to run me down and give me a near heatattack as he stops a very close foot from my person. Or maybe it was the assumption that I would actually listen to his absurd suggestion to get in his vehicle with him.

Well, I just kept walking not even looking back, but I have to say it was probably the all time low of any pick-up line I ever received. Little suggestion to all males out there, nearly driving your vehicle into a woman will not especially endear you to her.

Friday, December 5, 2008

My New Favorite Blog...

If you haven't noticed my newest blog to the side bar to your right let me introduce you to Cake Wrecks. Some woman who shares my name and love for cakes, writes daily and posts pictures (that mostly are submitted by others), showing off the atrocities to the cake world.

Personally, I'm thinking of submitting a few of my doozies (trust me I've decorated some horrible cakes in my day). I think the topper would be the leaning Tower of Pissa that I unintentionally created. It was suppose to be a white birthday cake with fluffy whipped icing, 10 inches squared and 6 levels high. At the time of the request I knew it would be difficult, it turned out to be a disaster. Too bad I didn't take pictures of it :)

Well, if you want a good laugh, just go check out Cake Wrecks.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Salvaged Photo

So, I believe I mentioned in an earlier blog that my old camera decided to die on me one day, and completely stop working. At the time it was incredibly frustrating because I was decorating all these cakes, and wanted to take pictures of them to share. I also had a few pictures on the old camera of a rather large cake I had made and I didn't know how I was going to get them off the camera.

Well, as of this evening I finally salvaged the pictures off the camera and I have one to share with all of you.

This cake was huge and took me many hours to make. If you're not from around my area you might be wondering what it's all about. I spelled out UVA (University of Virginia), by carving the cake. I airbrushed the cake with the UVA school colors and then I piped icing to give it a more finished and almost comic-like look (that's what I was going for). As you can tell from this angle the piping around the bottom border is even and straight. The piping along the top is uneven for a reason, giving it that "comic" look I was talking about. This is what they asked for this is what I give them :) By the way, the cake was chocolate!!

Thanks Ashton!!

Today's post is a thank you to my friend Ashton Christensen out in Salt Lake City, UT.

Ashton is the son of my dear friend Stacey, and we attended church together out in Utah. A couple years back Ashton really blessed me (and I'm sure many others) when he shared with the church a powerpoint presentation he had created.

He had taken the song "Lord of Heaven and Earth" and put amazing photography to the music. To this day I still experience that sense of awe when I think of the spectacular display of planets and stars he shared, and that Our Lord really is the creator of ALL.

I still listen to that song quite a bit, actually it's one of my favorites. Every time I hear it, in my mind's eye I'm seeing those images again that Ashton shared. He really did share with us his gift of creativity and talent for technology that day, and it was appreciated. Thanks Ashton!!

Since I don't have Ashton's video to share with all you, I found another one similiar to his. Click Here.

Monday, December 1, 2008

New Experience...

The other day my family went out to lunch in celebration of my birthday. A couple days in advance of this dinner my Mom calls me to say Dad had picked a restaurant he thought we might all enjoy, but I had veto power. I couldn't have been more surprised when my Mom said that Dad wanted to take us to Kyoto (a Japanese Steakhouse). My meat and potatoes Dad wanted to eat sushi?? I was thrilled.

Well, it turns out Dad was more interested in the teppanyaki cooking. I was more than willing to go along and enjoy my first teppanyaki experience. It would seem everyone in my family had been there and experienced the food before, even my parents. Here I am, with my love for the culinary arts, and I was the only one in my family who had never had teppanyaki before.

Now, for those of you who aren't aware of teppanyaki it's a style of Japanese food preparation where the chef cooks your meal before you in what can often be an elaborate presentation. Our chef was good, and his food was delicious, but he wasn't the chef that captured my attention during the meal.

The chef that kept me captivated for most of our meal was preparing food across the room for a large extended family. I first noticed him when he took the time to entertain the children at his section in a very amusing way. I noticed him even more when he started to encourage the children at this table to repeat the phrase, "Celebrate Jesus". Then he began to sing the song, "Celebrate Jesus Celebrate!" both in English and in Spanish.

As I became more engrossed the conversation happening at this table I was made aware that the family enjoying the meal had just come from church. Call me cynical, but I was in the restaurant business long enough to know a few wait staff that would talk "christianese" with church folks to get a bigger tip, these same waiters/waitresses you'd never find entering a church building.

I was put to shame though when I began listening to this chef talk about the book of Daniel. He told these children very vivid Bible stories and inserted different viewpoints and lessons into the stories (mostly for the adults present). This wasn't a person after a bigger tip, this gentleman sincerely and genuinely believed in Jesus as our Savior.

He was so passionate in what he shared (and how he shared) that there came I time in the course of the meal that I realized that the restaurant was really rather quiet. I looked around and noticed that it wasn't just me listening to this chef, it was everyone else in the restaurant too. WOW, what a witness!!

I pray that God gives me the faith and courage to be that kind of witness in my everyday life too.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

New Camera...

The following are my first photos with the new camera.
A smaller version of a larger chocolate cake that we made at Sandal House for one of the girl's Thanksgiving meals. The larger cake was for the Thanksgiving meal, and this smaller version I created to give to my family. The misshapen chocolate object you see at the top of the cake, is a cluster of chocolate roses (you can't appreciate them from this angle).

The beautiful red roses Emily Kate gave me for my birthday. Well, actually the guy on the gift bag gave them to me, but that's a great story Emily and I will keep between the two of us :)

Also, I took a picture of the beautiful flowers my five year old cousin Maddie picked out for me with the help of my sister Lora. Thank you Maddie and Lora, they're really LOVELY!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Passing Away

I'm sitting here at my computer waiting for news on the funeral arrangements. My Grandma Vance passed away this morning at 8:25 a.m. It's a blessing to know she's with our Lord, and free of pain and her broken earthly body.

Before I become to morose in my writting I thought I'd take some time to share some wonderful stories of my Grandma with all of you.

You see, I grew up living about an hour drive over the mountains from my Grandparent Vance's (my mom's parents). I remember as a child making the trip out to see them atleast once every other month. I loved being out at their farm, nestled as it was at the base of this beautiful mountain. A spring lay nearby and a river wasn't too far from the house.

We use to go climb the mountain, and swim the river. Also, each summer we would go spend one week with our Grandparents (me and my siblings). This was a week for my parents to relax without us kids. I believe my grandparent's home was affectionately knicknamed "Camp Vance".

Grandma and Granddad spoiled us kids so. Grandma use to let us eat whatever we wanted, and when we wanted it, while we stayed with them. This of course led to an occassional upset tummy. I remember one time wanting to eat candy all day and then for dinner I decided to have some cream of mushroom soup. You can imagine what my Grandma did when later that night all that candy and mushrooms came back up, she called my Mom to pick me up :)

I remember as a child my Mom asking my Grandma to please not let us eat so much candy and to make sure we brushed our teeth. But to be honest Grandma didn't have the heart to tell her Grandchildren no.

Don't worry we didn't end up spoiled brats, atleast I hope not :) Grandma was so loving you wanted to be good for her.

When I first started spending the week with her I was uneasy when night time came. It was really the first time I had ever spent the night away from my parents. Grandma was great though, she had the children's activity books (a set that was like children's encyclopedias) and she would read me stories from the books and show me different craft projects we could do the following day. As she read to me, she would climb into bed and cuddle with me. I'll always remember how nice it was to cuddle with my Grandma before going to sleep.

Several years ago my Grandma gave me that set of children's encyclopedias. I look forward to reading those books at bedtime with children and maybe even my children someday.

Grandma loved to cook!! On those Sunday afternoons when we would drive out to visit Grandma and Granddad my Mom would make sure Grandma understood we were coming having eaten lunch already. If Mom tell her that, Grandma was sure to have the largest meal set before us that we had seen since the last time she set a meal before us. A typical meal for Grandma to prepare would be a couple of main dishes followed by half a dozen or more different sides, and then your choice of desserts. Less was not more with Grandma. MORE WAS MORE!! No one ever left her table hungry.

After dinner we would thank her for the meal, and her famous response was, "I don't know why you're thanking me, you barely ate a thing." This is of course after we had eaten one rather large plateful, followed by the second helping she made sure everyone took.

She also never forgot anyone's favorite food dish. She would make a special effort to have that dish on the table each time you were there for a meal. She knew I loved seafood, and especially crab, so she would make me this wonderful Crab Casserole. The following is one of her Crab Casserole recipes:

1 pound crab meat
12 saltine crackers - crushed
1 stick butter or margarine
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
1 teaspoon mustard
1 tablespoon worchestershire sauce
1 egg - beaten

Melt butter in dish - Add above - Sprinkle paprika - Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

I don't believe my Grandma ever knew a stranger. She was the most welcoming woman I've ever known. She had a real gift for hospitality, and I learned alot about how you treat someone in your home from her. She always gave of herself to spend time with others. She showed you hospitality through her food and her time. She would stop cleaning or any other task to sit and talk with you. She also made you feel welcome in her kitchen as she went about her work there. No matter what you knew she was listening and she cared.

I'm thankful that God saw fit to give me almost 28 years with her. She was my special Grandma!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Back in Time

Today, I went back to my old blog (the one I started when I moved to Utah). I was searching for my Africa journals that I copied onto the blog back in 2005. That's when I got thinking how long ago 2005 was. Even longer ago was when I went to Africa (May of 2004).

With another birthday coming up, and having to face my new age (yet another year older). It's really got me to thinking about the past. Thinking about all the great times I had in my early twenties and now I'm hitting my late twenties and I just don't like it. There is something almost terrifying about getting closer to thirty.

I know rationally I shouldn't be fearful of thirty, but it does seem that was an age that always appeared so far off when I was in my early twenties, and now I'm almost running smack into it. How could time slip away so fast? Where did all my twenties go?

Well, I know I spent almost three years of my twenties off in Salt Lake City, Utah. If you want to read more about that time go on back to my old blog.

I believe the early years of my twenties were squandered away. Not in the sense I did anything awful with those years, I just never fully appreciated how wonderful that time was until it was gone.

So, now my mission for last two years of my twenties is to enjoy them to the uptmost, and never forget how precious is the gift of this time. Who knows someday I might be saying the same thing about my thirties? :)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Almost forgot...

Yesterday when I wrote my blog I intended to post a picture of the camera that will be taking my pictures from here on out.

I'm remedying that with this photo:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The new camera is on its way...

...in 3 to 8 shipping days I should have my new camera. You know what to expect then...lots of pictures on my blog.

Previously, if you'll remember I didn't have time to post pictures, and then when I wanted to my camera went on the fritz. For the last several weeks I've been researching cameras trying to decide which one would fit me best (and my budget).

I came up with the Nikon Coolpix P80. It's on its way to me as I write this. Hopefully I'll receive it before the Holidays and I'll be able to take a lot of great family pictures.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Discussion on Marriage

The other night on Facebook, I came across a note one of my friends had written (not written to me specifically, but to the general public). This old friend, Richard, entitled his note, "A Mormon's Defense of Marriage between a Man and a Woman." The note was a well written, well thought out view of his and his church's (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) position on Proposition 8. He also addressed the attacks that have been made against LDS' buildings and member's property.

Since Richard posted his note, several of his friends have engaged the topic by leaving a variety of comments. I find myself going back to that post each morning to read where the conversation is going and the different view points. Reading the comments from both sides of the argument has piqued my interest to do some research on the subject.

I want to share with you all (atleast those of you interested enough to read this post) the research I've done, comments from Richard's post and subsequent comments from his friends regarding that post. Though, before I trudge through this heavy and murky topic I'd like to air out my own opinion, for I definitely want to leave no doubts regarding my own beliefs.

Without doubt, I believe the institution of marriage should be reserved for the uniting of one man and one woman. This is a moral belief that I hold, and not a bias based on ignorance or hatred. I choose to show love and respect to others, even if we're not in agreement on this issue, and my prayer is that you find this evident in my writing.

As I've been thinking this issue through, I've come to the conclusion that it has gone beyond just moral beliefs to the basic question, "Is marriage an institution of the church or the state?" In helping to examine that question let me digress just briefly.

I would say that a "marriage" today has a threefold obligation (again this is my viewpoint - you might disagree). First obligation is to the spouse in the vows made to one another as part of a marriage ceremony. Secondly (though as important as the first if not more), is our obligation to God in keeping our vows to our spouse. If we see our spouse as a gift from God that she/he is, we will honor His word in how we are to love and respect the gift He's given us. Lastly is our obligation to the state in form of marriage certificates, etc. I believe this last obligation holds the least consequence in regards to a marriage. It's more of a formality, such as birth certificates for babies are a formality to having a family.

So, is marriage an insituation of the church or the state? Being that our greater obligations are to God and our spouse, you understand why I would say that marriage is an institution of the Church. Now even taking a different approach and reviewing the history of marriage we still find the church as the main source of involvement in even it's earliest years. In fact, I would concur with Richard when he states biblically:

Marriage is an institution that was begun at the creation of the earth. When God created Adam and Eve, he basically married them together. “God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply.” (Gen 1:28) “And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone…[and] made he a woman…And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh…therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Gen. 2:18, 22-24) Marriage was set up before and government or any rule of law was ever in place, before there was such a thing as taxation, or visitation right; marriage came along, hand in hand with religion

In fact in my research I did not find evidence that the state required certain expectations of marriage until 1563:

There appeared to be many marriages taking place without witness or ceremony in the 1500's. The Council of Trent was so disturbed by this, that they decreed in 1563 that marriages should be celebrated in the presence of a priest and at least two witnesses.

I'll even admit that the previous example is weak considering the Council of Trent was a religious institution, though in an era and place of church and state, so I'll let it pass as a state required expectation.

I can understand why an individual might want the priviledge to enter into a covenant marriage, especially with the rights the state does afford to married individuals. Those same individuals need to understand that "the church" is trying to protect what marriage has always meant to us from the earliest form.

As one of Richard's friends wrote:

We think that extending the meaning of the word to include other "nontraditional" relationships does affect us. When I say that my brother is getting married in December, that means something very specific. Had Prop 8 failed, I would perhaps need to qualify that statement and specify what kind of marriage he's entering into. So how does same sex marriage affect me? It changes the definition of the word--a word that has a special (sacred) meaning to me. Hence the phrase "Protecting marriage."

I don't have an eloquent, well thought out, answer to the issue. I can only take the time to write my thoughts, and in this reiterate the thoughts of others. I appreciate that we are able to have an honest and respectful dialogue on the issue. What does bother me is the hate and violent acts that sometimes characterize these issues. Richard drew attention to some of these acts against his own church.

As myself a Mennonite and Richard a Latter-day Saint we won't always agree, but I appreciate that we could both have a respectful dialogue and remain friends. I believe we move forward in friendship despite our differences, and the same thing could be said in the other case. It just takes a good foundation void of violence and hatred to be built upon.

Well, enough of me. What are your thoughts?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

As You Get Older...

I've been hanging around a good number of teenage girls these days (I'd say it comes with the territory of being a house mom to a teen mother home). One thing I've been noticing when it comes to me and these teens is the difference in our perspectives on shopping.

For starters, I don't enjoy shopping. I'm usually overwhelmed with all the options and end up buying the first thing I really like and getting out of the store. I'm certainly not one for browsing, but I do need to feel like I'm getting a bargain. So, when I say I end up buying the first thing I like, that like factor has as much to do about price as it does how it looks on me.

One of the teens I know keeps bringing home to me our differences in shopping. Everytime she has a new item she mentions the price of the item (okay that's not unlike me). With her the larger the price tag the more pride she takes in the item. HA! I'm aghast at that kind of pride, for me I find satisfaction in being able to tell my friends how little I paid for a particular item.

I'm sure one of these days I'll play the following game with the teens: I'll have them go around to the stores showing me all these items that they like, then I'll go around and show them where they can get the same or similiar item for considerably less money. Yeah, we'll be bargain shopping then.

Oh My...

...I broke a nail.

That's right I broke a nail, and instead getting all freaked out about it, I cut just cut down all my other nails.

A couple weeks ago I treated myself to a manicure and pedicure. This is a very rare thing for me. In fact I can probably count on one hand the times I've had either of those treatments done.

I was really pleased with the results, and especially the pampered feeling I had afterwards. The place I went even had special massage chairs to relax in while you were getting your pedicure, it was like a little bit of heaven on earth.

In the end my nails looked transformed. They were no longer the short, poorly taken care of, and often ignored finger nails and cuticles. They were beautiful, with a lovely color, and healthy look.

But then two weeks later I broke a nail. So, now they're back to being short and somewhat ignored, except the color has remained :)

In a really unusual way God used this experience to give me gentle reminder. Often times I get so focused on how I can be of service to God and others, that I ignore how God wants to restore me. Like my short nails; I often feel functional and good for a purpose, but as my nails show the wear and tear, so do I. God wants me to take time out, to relax in His presence, and to come away healthier and more beautiful from the experience. So, my reminder to myself today and all of you is to take time to pamper yourself with the Lord, even if it means just adding some color to your short nails (meant figuratively, but hey go ahead and paint those nails it's a great reminder to spend some time with God).

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Weekend with Granddad

My Granddaddy Vance (my mom's dad) lives out in Highland County, Virginia, about an hour drive over the the mountains from me. So, recently I've been going out to spend time with him one weekend out of every month.

It's always fun being with Granddad. At 90 years old he's a riot and manages to say and do things that have me laughing to myself for days after our visits. I know that years from now I'll look back on this special time together with very fond memories.

One memory I'm sure to keep for awhile took place this past weekend during our visit. Sunday morning I woke up to make our breakfast. It had been decided the day before that I would make Chip Beef Gravy on toast with some special chip beef that my only Robin had left Granddad (it wasn't until after I ate the gravy that I was informed that chipped beef was actually chipped venison).

Well, I made our gravy in my grandparents rather large cast iron skillet. Took the skillet from the stove to the kitchen table and we served our breakfast from it. After putting away some leftover gravy in the refrigerator we were left with some pan scrapings of gravy that my Granddad was pretty particular about, he wanted to save them for my uncle's dog when they came to visit later in the morning.

The time in the morning stretched on and my uncle hadn't come for his visit. I was getting anxious to get some work done, like feed the cats, and clean the breakfast dishes. Both of those things my Granddad wanted me to wait to do until my uncle came (I think he was wanting my uncle to help me with these tasks). Finally I told my Granddad that I needed to go ahead and finish the work so I could get ready for church.

The first item on the agenda was to feed the cats. My Granddad keeps a large supply of dry dog food on hand for his cats :) Talk about cats, they have close to 20 of them roaming around their farm land. When you take out their food to the back porch they all come running in a swarm. You can't really hold them because they're all wild, and would probably scratch you to ribbons. On this particular morning I saw some kitties among the group. One kitten was this light gray color and I thought it might still be young enough for me to hold it without it getting all crazy on me.

I safely picked up this precious kitten and took it inside to show my Granddad. He liked that kitten so much he told me to go ahead and let it eat the gravy scraps he was saving for the dog. I told Granddad I would take the kitten back outside and then throw the gravy scraps in the food pan for all the cats. Granddad wasn't hearing of that, he told me to go ahead and sit the kitten on the kitchen table where the skillet still lied and let it eat from there.

For those of you who know me and my view on pets, you know I don't think they belong in our homes and especially at our kitchen table. But there I was setting this kitten down to its breakfast. It being such a large skillett the first thing this cat did was to climb on inside the skillet to get the gravy scraps piled up on the one side.

If ever there was a time I should have had a camera it was that moment. Here was this beautiful gray little kitten curled up in a cast iron skillet, eating gravy scraps to its heart's content. Don't you wish you could have seen it too?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Tears Watering My Eyes...

In the middle of my busy, hectic day yesterday I met one little four year old boy who made me stop and think, and also shed some tears.

This precious little child was born of a mother who abused alcohol and drugs during her pregnancy, and the effects are now for her son to bear. At four years old this little boy cannot put together a coherent sentence. Sure, he'll have a bright and lively conversation with you, but the words often don't make sense or if it is a word that is appropriate for the sentence it's badly pronounced. Mostly he talks nonsense words that aren't even in the english language.

From my short time with this little I could tell he was a sweet, beautiful child, who just loves to please others. He's very animated in his play, and has this amazing smile that just shines forth with joy.

I was so touched by this small child I wanted to share him with all of you through my blog. I also wanted to share with you an article I found online by the March of Dimes. Here it is, Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

If I Had a Bakery...

This past Sunday morning I arose early to make doughnut dough for a pre-church service breakfast. What I forgot this past Sunday morning when I set my alarm was that it was time for the "time change" and clocks would be falling back an hour.

So, when I arose and went out the kitchen on Sunday morning at what I thought was 4:30 a.m. I was greeted by the satellite clock (updates automatically) in our kitchen telling me it was 3:30 a.m. Being that I'm not an early morning person I was tempted to go back to bed for an hour. I also knew that it I went back to bed for one hour I might not get out again until it was light outside, and that wouldn't be productive to making doughnuts.

I settled myself on the couch in the living room instead and turned on a movie. While watching the movie I did reach a point of half sleep, and it was then that I dreamed about having my own bakery. I would love more than anything to have my own bakery someday and create truly amazing breads and pastries. I just don't see it happening any time soon (I'm way too poor to have my own bakery - and not nearly experienced enough).

In my dream though I had my own bakery and it's name was "Sweet Imagination". I've been haunted by that dream ever since Sunday morning and I can't get that name out of my head. It was last night though as I was laying my head down to sleep, and thinking of the name Sweet Imagination that it came to where I've heard it before. It just happens to be similiar to a short phrase from the movie, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In the song they use the phrase, "pure imagination" so you can see how my mind just supplemented sweet for pure.

As a kid growing up that was one of my favorite movies. I guess even then I loved the creative side to food. Now if I could only have my own "chocolate factory" in the form of a bakery.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Year in the Fast Lane

October 31, 2008 marked a rather memorable anniversery for me. For it was on October 31, 2007 that I drove my car out of Salt Lake City, Utah and headed back east to Virginia. In 2007 that date fell on a Wednesday, in 2008 that date fell on a Friday (you can thank a leap year for the extra day). It just so happens that in 2007 after three full days of driving I arrived in Virginia on a Friday.

So, this year when Friday, October 31st came around it was both the anniversery of my departure from Utah and my arrival to Virginia. On that day I didn't know whether to be happy or sad, so I choose to reflect on the directions God's taken me in life.

That God led me out west to Utah to gave me the opportunity to be part of the community, I'm infinitely blessed by that experience. That God brought me back to Virginia to be part of my community of family members and friends, for that I am blessed.

I know without doubt that when I follow in the the Lord's leading I will experience His love and blessing. It might not always be easy, but He'll always be there.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Aviation Lingo and other things I don't understand...

Yesterday evening I was on my computer IM'ing with a friend of mine, Brendan. During the course of our conversation he mentioned that the company he works for Dynamic Aviation was missing a plane in Guyana (that's in South America if you're not too familiar with your geography).

Being that this was a typed conversation on what I refer to as Impersonal Messanger (IM) I missed out on the importance of what he was sharing with me. It hit me after our conversation that "missing plane" in aviation lingo means it most likely went down from the the air and they don't know where it is now. Not a good thing for those onboard the aircraft.

When I was having my conversation with Brendan being the eternal optomist that I am I thought what he meant was that a plane had gone missing from a hanger (more like stolen) and the company was out looking for it. Okay, so a stolen plane isn't the most optomistic thought, but it's a lot better than a crashed plane.

But back to the missing plane, there were two local guys onboard and one person likely from Canada. At this time I haven't read or heard anything to say that they've found them or the plane. Please be in prayer for them, their families and friends. We don't always understand why events like this take place, but we can know that God is always in control and loves us unconditionally.

If you're interested in the latest news at this time (at the time I'm writing the post) please follow the link below.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Obama Came to Visit...

That's right, Obama came to little ol' Harrisonburg, Virginia on Tuesday and caused quite a stir. He spoke at James Madison University, which happens to be only a few miles from where I work and live. So, I did my part of staying out of the way. I didn't want to deal with the crowds or traffic.

At lunch I stayed in the office, not even attempting to go out on the town and run errands. And then at the end of the work day I took a different route home in an effort not to get tied up in traffic. I almost succeeded there.

It was on my way home from work when I was stopped at an intersection that meets with one of the exits leaving JMU, that I got my first taste of the madness the event created. There was a man in a suit and tie (very respectable looking) carrying a flag (not American - though I didn't recognize it) running around the intersection yelling, "Down with Obama. Down with Obama."

Wow!! Talk about crazy. He was arrested in short order, and removed from the intersection. The traffic resumed it's normal patterns and I made my way on home. Fortunately for me I get to take away a terrific memory of the time Obama visited my home city.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Where do I begin...

So, much has happened between now and the last time I wrote a post. Being that so much has taken place, you would have thought I had a lot to blog about in the last month (which I did), but there wasn't time in time in the day to do the writing required.

I received an ever so gentle reminder from my dear friend Stacey that she missed hearing from me, so here I am dragging myself to the keyboard in an effort to catch you all up on my life.

Let's start with work, I'm still with Ameriprise and working on the end of the year projects, which occupy a lot of my time.

Sandal House is always an ever present challenge/reward in my life. We've had some comings and goings at the house, and that always disrupts the schedule and takes more time on my part. I'll be happy when one day we have three permanent residents in place and have established a routine to our days.

I'm enjoying "church life". Some exciting events are taking place in our fellowship at Weaver's Mennonite and I'm thrilled to be serving in various roles there. Recently I've become involved as the director of Missions and Service, the Sr. High Sunday School teacher, and working towards developing young adult ministries. Again, each area has it's own challenges and rewards, and I'm still working at how exactly God would like me to share my gifts in these different roles.

My family is going through some adjustments. In the last couple of months my parents have begun work on their new home. While they are awaiting it's completion they've been living in a house in Dayton, that's about a ten minute drive from where I live. After all these years of living in Utah, it's nice to live so close to my parents and be able to visit them on a whim.

My sister, Lora Beth is still living in South Central, Virginia in a rural/small community. She's been working with WIC and soon to be a licensed dietician. She recently got back from a vacation in Mexico and I look forward to hearing all about it.

My brother, Brent moved to North Carolina this summer and everything seems to be going well with him. He wanted an evening job, so that he could be near his computer during the stock market hours, so he's working as a valet. I think as a guy he really enjoys being able to get behind the wheel of some pretty fancy cars.

I've been thinking of my grandparents a lot recently. I have three who are still living, but not in the best of health. My grandmother Heatwole is living in a nursing home near where I live. I visit her when I can, but she really doesn't remember me. She has dementia, and I know it will be a blessing when the Lord calls her home. My grandmother Vance is also living in a nursing home about an 1/2 hour drive from me. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this last year, and has also suffered some strokes. It's difficult to watch her go down hill like she is. My granddad Vance is still living in his home in Highland County (about an hour drive from me). I've recently begun spending the second weekend of every month with him. Visiting granddad is something I look forward to each month. He lives in the quiet, peaceful, rural mountains and solitude is a real blessing in my life. Plus, my granddad is a riot, it's a lot of fun talking and hanging out with him.

Next in my life comes my friends, who are wonderful!! I feel so blessed to have such loving, supportive friends in my life. I really enjoy spending time with them, when times allows. One of my favorite activities is hanging with the Ladies Biblestudy, such wonderful woment in that group. I also enjoy the random moments we get together, like this past weekend when Emily came over for "girl talk" and we ran out for her very first slurpee (okay, she's 27 and had never had a slurpee, that wasn't right and we corrected it).

I also enjoy spending time catching up with old friends over the telephone (because unfortunately I don't have time to fly all over the country to visit them). This past weekend I spent a good amount of time catching up with some of the guys in Utah. I love those guys, and it was great having some heart to heart's with them.

So, that leads me to what I'm doing in my free time. What free time you might ask :) I do get some, and I'm using it to enjoy some of my favorite activities. Most recently that's involved cake decorating. I love the creative outlet it's giving me, plus I just love feeding people. Actually, I've been decorating so many cakes for people here of late, I feel like I've started up a side business quite unintentionally. I haven't been posting photos of the cakes here on my blog, because unfortunately my camera has decided to die on me, and since I haven't gone shopping for a new camera, well no photos.

That's my life in a nutshell. Hope you enjoyed the general review. Contact me some time if you want the specifics.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Encouraging Thoughts

During the weekdays I receive an email each morning from Proverbs 31 Ministries. The email contains these wonderful devotionals geared towards women of all ages and life experiences. It's interesting that though their ministry is a broad based one, I find myself relating to the messages more often than not.

This morning's devotional for instance really got me thinking about recent events in my life. I thought I'd take the time to share with each of you my story (and then the devotional just for reference).

What I've been struggling with recently was actually something that started well over a year ago (more like a year and a half). I had come the decision after much prayerful discernment that God was leading me out of Utah and back to Virginia (where I had grown up). At the time of that decision I believe God put several events into motion that lead me to a job opportunity in Virginia. The only problem with that job was I would need qualifications that went beyond what I received in college. It would require me to pass several licensing exams. I didn't have a problem with studying and taking tests, I mean how hard could they be?

It turns out they were VERY difficult. Over a year after taking the first licensing exams and failing, I passed the Series 7 financial exam on my fourth try yesterday. Had I known all the suffering and hundred's of hours of studying that it would take for me to accomplish this feet I might have given up before I even started. Well, I take that back I wouldn't have said an outright "NO" on God's leading, but like an Israelite child of old I would have done some major grumbling.

As part of my story to share I'd say the Series 7 exam became what the following devotional calls a G.F.I. (God Faith Interrupter). I would study and work diligently toward passing, but then each failure threw my faith momentarily. I couldn't understand why God would lead me in a certain direction only to allow me to fail continuously.

The whole experience was discouraging, humbling and now worth every moment. My encouraging word for you all today is never stopping following faithfully and obediently where God leads you despite how difficult it might become.

Like I mentioned the following is from the devotional sent from Proverbs 31 Ministries:

I pulled in the driveway grateful to be home after a five-day conference. I pressed the remote and the garage door rolled open. Bloodied water trickled toward me as I stepped from my car. I knew immediately what had happened - the freezer had gone out. All the meat had thawed and the bloody, watery juices had drained out of the freezer into a maroon stream that slowly ran toward the driveway. Yuck.

Mark, my husband, was out of town. I stood in my garage disgusted and slightly freaked out. Of course, I called my husband for help. I didn’t care if it was late and there was a three-hour time difference between us.

He patiently said, “Check the G.F.I.”

“The what?”

“The ground fault interrupter. It’s in the electrical outlet where the freezer is plugged in.”

Sure enough, the G.F.I. had tripped and in response the freezer shut down. Nothing was technically wrong with the freezer, except now it had hundreds of dollars of rotting food sitting inside it. Because of a tripped G.F.I., my evening turned from one of anticipated relaxation to hours of vexing cleanup.

Isn’t our faith sometimes like that, too? We are believing and trusting the Lord, when all of a sudden something unexpected happens – our own G.F.I (God Faith Interrupter) gets tripped. In response, our faith shuts down and we melt like a gallon of vanilla ice cream in a hot garage.

It’s certainly difficult to understand the twists and turns in our journey of faith. When a God Faith Interrupter occurs, we grope in the darkness for something to reassure us that regardless of our circumstance, the Lord is loving, merciful, and He will guide us. God Faith Interrupters might shake our faith. They can be scary. They certainly will be unexpected and uncomfortable, but the Lord holds the charge of power to uphold our faith even when it shuts down temporarily. We must turn to Him.

Express to the Lord your fear of a “God Faith Interrupter” tripping you up. Then thank Him that He will be with you, showing you mercy and loving-kindness, no matter what happens in the days ahead. Then resolve to stay plugged into Him, no matter what.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Bikes and Buggies

As I mentioned in an earlier post I'm much to busy to be taking pictures all the time, so I'm resorting to filching them from my friends :) These latest photos were taken from Teresa Crawford's facebook page. Teresa is the mother of Jessica, who I went to school with, and their family lived just down the road from us.

I love these photos she took (I'm assuming she took them). These photos exemplify much of what I love about the Shenandoah Valley. There is a quieter more peaceful pace to life here. Community and relationships take precidence in daily living. And just look how beautiful the scenery is :)

I'm enjoying being back in a community where the Old Order Mennonites live side by side those who do not practice as they, but where we can all live with respect for one another and our differences.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

New cake to be posted soon...

Here in a couple of days I'll be making a birthday cake for one of the ladies here at our office. She's a Virginia Tech graduate so I'm doing something I never thought I would, I'm making a Tech themed cake.

Of course this should make my sister happy, the Tech almnu that she is, but for me I'm not to into orange and maroon as a color scheme.

That's why this cake is going to be a white cake with white icing and then I'll highlight it with some orange and maroon. You ask how I'm going to do that. Well it's simple, I've made my own Virginia Tech (orange and maroon) candies to place on the cake.

The were surprisingly easy to make. I went online several weeks back and printed off one of the VT logos I found. I taped some wax paper on top of my template then started tracing in royal icing. Royal Icing becomes very hard (almost crunchy candi-like) when it drys out. After doing the outlining in white and orange I did a technique called "flooding" where I watered some of the royal icing down to a point where it would spread more easily and dyed it maroon. With my new color and texture I flooded what I had outlined. This dried overnight and I was left with a VT logo candy. Make several of those and I'm now ready to decorate a Virginia Tech themed cake.

I look forward to the pictures I'll have to post sometime over the weekend. Until then...I'll enjoy my baking.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Pictures of the Valley

So, my good friend Emily posted these photos on her Facebook site, and then I completely ripped them off because I liked them so much. I've reached the point where I don't have time to take pictures any more for myself, so from now I'll just borrow them from my friends. How's that sound?

Hope you enjoy the country scenery. Who wouldn't want to live in the Shenandoah Valley? I know you'll appreciate it after these great photos that Emily took.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Welcome to the Wonderful World of Blogging

Welcome Mom to the wonderful world of blogging!!

The other day I stopped by my parent's home to drop some things off and pick up my mail. The first thing my Mom says to me, "I have a blog."

I knew she was thinking of creating a blog, but I wasn't so sure how serious she was about it. I'm glad to know she was serious and has now begun in earnest to create regular updates.

The theme of my Mom's blog is continual updates on the work that is being done to complete her and Dad's new home. She's documenting the progress through photography.

So, if you're interested in seeing their new house and how it's progressing check it out at:



Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Yeah for Utah Reminders...

The beginning of this week I spent in Richmond, VA. I was there for a work related trip, having to do with some license exams I needed to take. It was a long two and a half days, but it had it high moments.

The first moment that I enjoyed, was getting to my hotel and realizing that right next door was a Famous Dave's restaurant. I had not been to Famous Dave's since leaving Utah. I actually thought we didn't have any Famous Dave's in Virginia. I was wrong :)

So, you know that I went over there one evening for dinner. They've got great BBQ and I enjoyed mine immensely. It was a good flashback to my Utah days, when I'd go with friends from church after services let out on Sunday.

Also, during my time in Richmond I sat in on a course for my licensing exam. One of the ladies in my course was from Harrisonburg as well, and ironically she had a daughter that had attended BYU, so she knew Utah. We had a lot of great conversations about life in Virginia and Utah. The people we know in common back in Harrisonburg, and several other great conversations.

I already can't believe that it has been almost a year since I left Utah. I've sure enjoyed being back in Virginia, but there are times (like the ones I just mentioned) that I can't help feeling lonesome for my "Utah Life".

Just thought I'd share.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Chocolate Cookie Cake

Okay, I get a lot of grief for not taking pictures of the cakes I make. Recently I've made a good number of circular two-tiered cakes (most of them chocolate). The following photos (yes I finally took photos) are of my latest creation.

The birthday girl who I made the cake for wanted a chocolate cake. She also mentioned to me that she loved cookies. This was not the most fanciest cake I've ever made, but it certainly was a hit. The chocolate chip cookie crumbs were all homemade, and they were all picked away and eaten before the cake was even finished.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Oh Happy Day!!

Today is the day my dear friend Emily Kate returns home. For the last year she's been serving the Lord in Italy.

I'm excited to have her near by again, but I understand how difficult this kind of transition might be for her. For the last year she's had a pretty focused purpose and schedule, and now she's moving back to Virginia where there are a lot of unknowns. I have no worries that God will make her paths clear, but I understand how difficult the waiting can be.

Also, it's always hard saying good-bye to dear friends. As much as Emily is "coming home" where family and friends are anxiously awaiting her arrival, she also made a home in Italy with dear friends she'll miss.

She'll always carry with her the special memories of her time with her Italian friends. Just as I will always carry with me the memories of my Utah friends. And given the Lord's blessing we'll all see one another again on this earth as well as heaven :)

Looking forward to seeing you Emily Kate!!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I Wasn't Tagged...but I'll play anyway

5 Things on my list to do today:

1. Go to work.
2. Study for the Series 7 test I'm taking in two weeks.
3. Do my laundry!!!
4. Make and Freeze Chocolate Chip Cookie dough.
5. Visit Sib and family.

5 Snacks I enjoy:

1. Anything CHOCOLATE!!
2. Hummus and crackers.
3. Fruit Salad.
4. My Dad's Homemade Ice Cream.
5. Caramel Cinnamon Buns.

5 Things I would do if I was a sudden Billionaire:

1. Give to the Lord!!
2. Invest wisely and with good stewardship.
3. Buy a home.
4. Buy a farm and have a house there for disadvantaged children to live.
5. Start my own bakery!

5 Bad Habits:

1. I talk too much.
2. I'm often too loud when I talk.
3. I'm somewhat controlling (that's a Heatwole for you).
4. I haven't learned to say NO.
5. I get distracted way too easily.

5 Places I have lived:

1. Mt. Crawford, VA
2. Bergton, VA
3. Winnipeg, Manitoba, CA
4. Newport News, VA
5. Harrisonburg, VA
6. Kill Devil Hills, NC
7. Kearns, UT
8. Murray, UT
9. Bridgewater, VA

(that's way more than 5 but I thought I'd test my memory)

5 jobs I have had:

1. Camp Counselor
2. Waitress at Chili's
3. Office Manager
4. Campus Police Dispatcher
5. Paraplanner

(Okay, I've had way more than 5 jobs, but my memory is not that good)

5 things most people don't know about me:

1. I use to compete in amateur figure skating competitions, even though it was a short period in my life, I enjoyed it immensely.
2. I enjoy indoor rock climbing, but I'm not a big fan of climbing outdoors.
3. My favorite candy is chocolate covered caramels.
4. I love going to rodeos!!
5. Other than a crosage one would get at a dance, the first time I ever received flowers from someone was when I was 26 years old.

Thanks Christa for your blog!!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Confession Time

Okay, I can't believe I'm about to admit this to so many, but I think it's time for confession and accountability. I have what some might say is a sick obsession that I can't seem to break. Oh, and I want to stop, but I find I'm a little weak in this area.

It started several months back (we're talking early spring), when an old friend of mine let me know his current girlfriend was keeping a blog about their relationship. Now in the interest of full disclosure I will admit I had been involved with this "old friend" at one time. It would seem that though we're not meant to be together we're still good friends, in a strange sort of way.

Well, when he first told me about this blog I was curious and thought it would be fun to see what she had to say about their new relationship. My friend made it easy, he gave me the blog address, and I spent some time smiling over new love as I read her gushing entries.

That should have been enough.

I soon found myself adding the blog to my list of other blogs that I check regularly. It was like a soap opera addiction (not that I've ever experienced that), I just had to know what would come next in the saga of their relationship.

Okay, you don't have to tell me, I know full well this is not healthy. What I do have to say to my credit is that I was never jealous or emotional over their relationship. I was more like a detached spectator looking on from the outside.

Actually, at the risk of sounding ugly and mean, reading the blog was like watching a horror movie that you've seen before; you sit in your living room talking to the screen, warning whomever of the dangers you know are coming.

She would write about my old friend, and I would sit there and say, "Oh that's a good thing." or "Oh no, she's in for it now". I also started to get to know this girlfriend of his through her writing. The more I got to know her the more opinions I had about her, both good and bad (once she even made me so upset I didn't read the blog for weeks - she mischaracterized my friend). This I realize is very dangerous, because in all honesty I really don't know her (I mean who doesn't exgerrate from time to time on their blog - it's therapuetic writing - not always factual).

I've read about the good times and the bad times in their relationship. It does seem that through it all they've stayed together, and through it all I've stayed with her blog.

Last evening I was reading that their relationship is better than ever, and I'm really happy for them. I've decided that even though she'll probably continue to blog the details of their relationship I personally have to call it quits. It's time for me to move on and find some other obsession, maybe I'll begin detailing all about cakes. Oh wait, I'm already there :)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What Every Foodie Needs...

If you enjoy being in the kitchen you'll love this new link I'm about to give you.


It allows you to search for blogs pertaining to food. So, if you're into baking, search for that subject. Want to know something about cooking wildgame, search for bloggers who are writing about that particular technique.

Have fun with the link. I know I am.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Last of the Cake Photos (for now)

Earlier when I was searching for cake photos I saved many a photo I came across on the internet. At the time I didn't post all the photos, but I thought now that I had a moment I would include them all.

I won't be going through each photo and telling you why I saved that particular one (sometimes I don't even know - other than I just liked it). I'll tell you my decisions were made mostly upon design, shape, color, technique.

Someday, I would be happy if I had enough skill and technique to imitate what I've seen here.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Good Neighbors

So, back in Bridgewater (where I have a home that's being rented out at the moment), I have the best neighbors. I've known most these people my entire life, and they certainly remember me as a kid.

Really the only two relatively new neighbors we have in the area are the guys renting my parent's old farm. The farm was bought this past year by Dynamic Aviation (an airport located on the same road as the farm), and they've rented it out to these Old Order Mennonite guys.

Now of course, I went ahead an introduced myself to them shortly after they moved in, and we've gotten along really well since then. I do believe they fit into our neighborhood just fine, they're making out to be great neighbors.

Like just this evening, I took Cecilia and Kimberlyn out to the farm to see all the animals. William Shank (one of the new neighbors) took time to let us see the cows being milked, feed the calves, feed the horses, sit on a tractor, and even sit in the buggy (that's his method of transportation). For Cecilia and Kimberlyn this was quite the experience.

As we were leaving Cecilia even asked me if we could go back to the farm some time. Like I said I think she really liked it there.

Two things really amazed me during our visit. First off, Cecilia has lived in Harrisonburg for the last five years and when I asked her if she's ever been to Bridgewater (just a 15 minute drive south - with traffic) she said NO. I think being out in the countryside is really foreign to her.

The second thing that amazed me during our visit was when we arrived to the farm and Cecilia saw the tractor by the milking parlor. She asked me, "what is that used for?"

I guess I take certain knowledge for granted, something like knowing the purpose(s) of a tractor. I'm thankful that even though her question initially took me off guard I don't believe it showed in my expression, and I was able to answer her sincerely.

Well, William told us that we were always welcome there, and I'm already looking forward to the next time we take an evening trip out to the farm. Maybe next time I'll remember to bring my camera with me :)

There's a Toddler Underfoot...

...at Sandal House. We've got an almost two year old living at the house, and that means toddler proofing EVERYTHING!!

I took these next photos when Kimberlyn was just finishing up a pasta dinner, and she was a mess. A laughing mess :)

Here's Kimberlyn's mom, Cecilia, taking her out of her highchair. It's time to get one little girl cleaned up.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I'm on a cake rant...

Okay, so here of late all I seem to be blogging about is cakes. I promise to change that trend here soon, but not at this particular moment.

My last blog mentioned that I was on a quest to find some birthday cake ideas. What I ended up finding was more wedding cake ideas. I've since gone back on my search for birthday cake ideas and have come away with the following two examples.

First off I have to say, I've been making a LOT of chocolate cakes here lately. It's okay, I don't mind chocolate cakes I was just anxious to do something a little different. So, when I asked the birthday girl what she wanted, I have to admit I was a little disappointed to hear chocolate cake. That's when I said to myself, if I have to make another chocolate cake I'm going to make the most stellar chocolate cake I can...something a little more demanding than the simple cakes I've been making here lately.

This first photo is the cake I would like to attempt. The only problem with this cake is that it's incredibly time consuming. That's all sugar paste you see covering that cake. It would take me atleast a good two to three days to accomplish that cake. Since I'm way too busy to give up significant portions of two to three days this weekend I need to go with a simpler cake design.

That brings me to this next photo. Instead of using all sugar paste to complete there is a combination of frosting and chocolate clay/plastic (it's edible - tastes like tooties rolls) covering this creation. I've been working with with chocolate plastic here of late, but not the techiniques that this cake will require. I'm looking forward to the challenge.

I've also decided to make my cake the size of the one pictured here, which for the size of the party I'm hosting will probably be a bit of an overkill. The birthday girl is one of the teens who has moved into the new Sandal House, and I want I would like her party to be somewhat special. Atleast the cake will be memoriable.
Of course there should be plenty of leftovers. Anyone want some cake???

Friday, August 8, 2008

More Wedding Cakes

Okay, I was supposed to be online looking for birthday cake ideas, but I found myself doing searches for wedding cakes AGAIN. Here's just my three new favorites (adding them to the two I previously blogged about).

This first photo is a rather clever (time consuming, not to mention expensive) idea. Each wedding guest would get their own minuature wedding cup-cake. Talk about special!! I love the idea, but I can't imagine ever being able to do something like this.

Okay, so I'm a big chocolate lover, and I don't doubt that I'll manage to get something chocolate into any wedding cake I might ever have (I have to put that last remark because I don't want you all think I'm planning a wedding here - it's more just an interest in cake design).

I love this cake next cake with it's beautiful chocolate piping, and talk about the roses, GORGEOUS!This next cake is simple, and in it's simplicity it becomes rather beautiful. I think it would make the perfect outdoor country wedding cake. What do you think?

As always I'm curious as to what you think of these cakes. Don't be afraid to leave comments.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sandal House

Look...it's SANDAL HOUSE!! This is the new teen mother home in Harrisonburg, VA. And yours truly is the new house mother.

I thought you all might like to see some pictures of the house before all the teens and their infants move and it starts to look a little more cluttered.

This photo is of the lovely porch, with two white rocker chairs.
The Upstairs Bathroom
Each of the girl's rooms has their rocker glider chair...oh yeah...and a T.V.
The girl's rooms each have their own twin bed and crib
This is the upstairs sitting area.
The downstairs foyer
My Room
The Living Room
The Dining Room
The Kitchen