Friday, January 29, 2010


We interrupt this regularly scheduled homeschooling Mama's routine to bring you....

....jury duty.

I was assured by others that the odds that I would actually have to go to the courthouse were slim. I called the night before and there were no specifications as to who had to attend. Everyone was to show up for the jury call. I observe about 70 potential jurors. I knew they would select twelve, meaning that I had only a 17% chance of actually being selected.

Apparently, I am quite lucky.

I should've bought a lottery ticket.

I've watched a lot of Law & Order and also enjoy my daily dose of People's Court and Judge Judy. So for me, it was like those shows had come to life! In some ways, this real-life trial was similar. "I object to this line of questioning!" In other ways, not. (The courtroom definitely was not as dramatic looking and the attorneys remained seated while examining the witnesses.)

After two full days of being in court (1 1/2 days worth of trial), my duty has been fulfilled. I took many notes. I prayed, for myself, for wisdom, for the man whose life could change because of our decision. I took this responsibility quite seriously. Oh, and guess who ended up being the foreperson?

Yep. That's right.

My face was so hot after we finished deliberating, I had to go into the bathroom and press my cheeks against the cool metal paper towel dispenser. My knees were actually shaking as the verdict was delivered. (The judge actually read it, not the foreperson, like you might see on TV.)  We were personally thanked by the Judge for our service and he answered any questions we might've had.

All in all, it was a positive experience. Something I won't soon forget. And I will continue to pray for the man that we convicted. I'm sure he won't forget this experience either.

Any other former jurors out there?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Of all.

We received a lot of really nice gifts for Christmas. Things that I will truly enjoy. But the best gift of all didn't have a price tag and wasn't purchased at a store. It was from my 83 year-old grandmother; she just didn't know it at the time. While visiting her home on Christmas Eve, we enjoyed a nice Polish meal and began to open gifts. I crossed the room for some reason and noticed a picture frame sitting next to her television. The frame said, "Families are forever" and inside were some things to remember Olivia by: a card that we had given out at her funeral, tiny hand-cut angels, Olivia's footprints hand-cut out of a memory card. My grandma has been suffering from arthritis for God-only-knows how long and for some time now is either unable to do the things she loves, like knitting, crocheting, and sewing and has taken to wearing hand/wrist support gloves for most of the time. I can only imagine the time and (possible) pain that she had to endure to hand-cut all these little decorations and the love that such sacrifice requires. In that very moment, I was nearly reduced to a puddle just thinking about it. And then she proudly declared,

"Olivia is still a part of our family."

And to my husband she whispered under her breath,

"She is waiting for me."

And that made the best Christmas memory of all.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Dump Truck Cake: How-to

Choose a dump truck with a really big trailer and wash thoroughly. Check thrift stores and garage sales if you don't have suitable selection at home. My dump truck trailer measures about 9" x 6", roughly half the size of 9" x 13" sheet pan.

Bake your cake and cut to fit. If you want a layered cake, depending on the depth of your truck, you might have to bake two thinner layers or one bigger cake that you cut two pieces out of. Use as big of a spatula as possible to gently lift the layers and place them in the truck bed. An extra set of hands won't hurt either.

Even if it breaks a part a little, just put the broken pieces in to fit.

Add filling if desired. I layered some cool whip in the middle and placed the other half on top. You can see in the photo how that top layer crack in half, but I just squished it back together. No one will ever notice!

Frost with chocolate frosting. Since I was using what I had at the time, I only had about 1/3 can of chocolate frosting from a previous baking project, so I just melted that down and poured it over the top.

If you really want to make it look cool, crush some chocolate wafer cookies and sprinkle them over the top. A few gummy worms poking out here and there would be fun as well. I was not able to do this because of the extra ingredients it requires, but just love the idea.

Prepare to amaze your little trucker!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


When the calendar turns over, we start thinking about what we can do differently. Or what we need to do. Period. I usually lean towards more open-ended resolutions that allow me to consider them complete, as long as progress was made. For several years, my resolution was simply to not put undue burden on the family budget. So to consider that a success, I could clip coupons, shop at thrift stores, find ways to earn extra money, go without, look for sales, reuse and so on. This year, however, I am straying from my past tendency and chose something much more finite.

I have just one resolution for 2010: to finish my Hope devotional. 

Oh, there are other things I hope to accomplish. Getting my recipes and my basement in order for starters. But I don't think any one thing can really impact my life as much as spending more time in God's Word. I heard a sermon recently that said if we place our time with God in a position of high priority in our lives, that will activate all the other areas in which we need help (or blessing)! The filling up of my spiritual cup will overflow into the rest of my life.

At least, I hope it will.

I have 35 weeks left of devotions in the Hope book. Each day there are additional Scripture readings as well. I have also been memorizing Scripture to build my reservoir. Even plugging along without missing a day will take me through 3/4 of the year. I'm not going to be legalistic about my schedule or beat myself up about skipping a day, but I am going to just try to stay focused.

So, I'm keeping it simple by just making one single resolution. I think it's the most important one I could make.

Got goals?

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Homemade Chai

I wasn't sure I would ever post this because my Chai recipe is really more like your grandmother's recipes. Ya know, the ones that she doesn't write down and doesn't measure, but just knows how to make it by feel. I started out with a base recipe from the internet that, of course, I can no longer find....

Homemade Chai

2 Black tea bags (English Breakfast)
2 small cinnamon sticks
10 whole cloves
10 peppercorns
1/8 t. cardamom
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 1/2-2 c. water
Hot Milk

Put the first five ingredients in a small saucepan. Boil the water, then pour over the bags & spices. Cover the pot and let steep for about 10-15 minutes. Add the sugar and mix to dissolve. Strain into your mug. Add enough hot milk to make a medium to light brown colored chai. 

(Lotsa) Special Notes:
I'm really fussy about my tea preparation. I wouldn't just put the water in the pot and then bring it to a boil. I like pouring the boiling water over the bags & spices. Maybe it turns out the same; I don't know. Also, I like a reeeaaalllllllly long steep. Sometimes I'll just leave it there for hours. If you let it steep for forever like I do, you'll have to reheat the tea mixture when you're ready to serve it. For the straining, I use a really fine mesh strainer, but you could also use a coffee filter set into a funnel. Since the cardomom is the only ground spice, you could try and just really carefully decant the tea into your mug. I also make about 2-3 subsequent pots using the same spices. I'll just add one fresh tea bag to the bags already in the pot and sometimes about 1/2 of new spices to the ones already in the pot. I realized after typing this all out how much brown sugar I was consuming in a day. YIKES!! But for a special treat, it really is worth it. I figure that since I'm using 2% milk, I'm off-setting the sugar a little bit. You could also just use maybe 2 T. of brown sugar and sweeten with Splenda to taste. Feel free to throw some extra spices in there. Ginger? Nutmeg? Go for it. The spicier, the better. Because if you don't like it sweet and spicy, you might as well just use a store-bought Chai tea bag, know what I mean?

Monday, January 04, 2010


Why I Neglect My Blog

1. Because I don't feel like I have anything exciting to say.

2. Because I wonder if you tire of hearing about my journey through grief.

3. Because sometimes I just need a break from the online world.

4. Because I am inundated with frantically sewing my Christmas gifts, along with attending multiple family gatherings.

5. Because I feel like sometimes I'm a kill-joy.

6. Because I can't decide if I should post about cooking or sewing.

7. Because, do you really need to read another Merry Christmas/Happy New Year post? Seriously.

8. Because not posting is better than a post titled "UNhappy New Year".

9. Because I'm busy thinking about my goals for 2010 and don't want to post until I have them all figured out.

10. Because I'm too content to be reading good books, drinking amazing homemade Chai, playing with the kids, joking with the husband, preparing to attend a smashing wedding, and endlessly planning my next craft project.