Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Stressed... Make Pizza

I don't know about you, but when I'm stressed, I cook. Some people watch HGTV, iron shoe laces, color their hair, fold laundry, go for a run, yell at their kids... Me, I bang around in the kitchen. Along with playing the piano, it's my release. But seeing as I don't yet have a piano at Freeman House, cooking it is.

Let. There. Be. Food.

With this week being what it is, I've been itching to crawl into the kitchen and stay there. So tonight, after a meeting, then another meeting, then a business call, I hit the stove. I was hungry for pizza, but determined to stick with my diet. Lotsaluck, I thought, consulting my mother's old recipe for pizza dough.

But by George, Bess, and Sally... I did it. By 8 p.m. I was munching on a half- whole wheat flour and flax seed dough, topped with fresh-from-the-garden carmelized onions, garlic, and fennel. (Of course, I have the gal over at Farmgirl Fare to thank for the topping ideas.) The sauce and cheese were just bonus. It was toe-curling yummy. (And this coming from the girl who previously viewed anything aside from Meat Lover's pizza as a waste of time and calories.)

Of course, fresh herbs always help. I'm growing 19 herbs at Freeman House this year. One is a creeping oregano, which I'm convinced made that health-nut pizza taste not healthy at all. (Here's what the herb looked like, prior to its planting and creeping. I cheated and skipped starting it from seed. Besides rosemary, I grow everything from seed. It's cheaper and I still get a kick out of watching seeds sprout. Must have missed that seed-in-a-cup day in kindergarten or something.)

So... in non-pizza related news, the kid brother is doing better. We hope. He has a surgery tentatively scheduled for tomorrow. Apparently there's a little internal bleeding that is of some concern to doctors and major concern to us. I'm headed to his bedside tomorrow. I was thinking of dressing his Texas Ranger bobbleheads in Barbie clothes and having them sing to him. Or dressing up like Tom Hanks and reenacting scenes from A League of Their Own, yelling, "There's no crying in baseball!". Oooh... The Sandlot would be cool, too. Or something. Hopefully between now and then I'll think of something brilliant...

In the meantime, I'm scampering off to bed. Can you believe it is MARCH FIRST already? How did that happen? Just thinking of the rise and fall of February 2007 makes me ...

...makes me...

...makes me want to make another pizza.


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Salad, the ER, and Chimney Mania

I had just emerged from the shower last night and was looking forward to dinner. I'd made a salad from my garden's first lettuce harvest of the season - along with some veggie favorites - and was about to pour on the dressing when the phone rang.

"Hey Dad, how are you?" I asked.

"Not too good," my Dad said. "Your brother is hurt and we're at the emergency room."


"Jere's hurt. He's being moved to Longview," Dad continued. "I need directions to the hospital."

The salad hit the counter, I dashed toward the bedroom for a sweatshirt and pair of jeans, and agreed to meet my Dad and rush them to the hospital.

"Pray, sweetie," he kept saying. "Pray real hard."

I did.

We met up halfway, where I learned that my high school senior brother had been hit in the face with a wild pitch during a hotly-contested baseball game. He was rushed to the local ER, where my mother, brother Sam, and my sister met him. My youngest brother, Sam, took one look at Jere's mangled face and passed out cold in the hallway of the ER. My poor Dad walked into the hospital to find two of his sons being worked on by medical personnel. I held his hand as he cried.

We were in the ER until after 2 o'clock this morning. Sam was fine, but Jere has a ways to go. He was hit in the right eye (while batting) with an 80 mph (or so) baseball, and it fractured his facial bones, broke blood vessels, and left eye muscles damaged or rearranged. We found out today he's had some internal bleeding. He looks terrible, but thank God he's going to pull through just fine. Thank God.

When I got home around 3 a.m., I was too exhausted to sleep. I slumped down against a wall in the kitchen and shook with sobs. It had been a close call. Too close....

As I quieted down, I realized: the wall behind me is shaking with me. I mean, I could feel it moving. What in the world...? I found a pry bar and popped one of the tongue-and-groove boards off. I saw... brick. I pulled another board away.

Laaaadies and gentlemen! May I introduce ... the in-perfect-condition kitchen chim-neeey!

(This Freeman House is one heckuva house, I tell you.) I was so confused and excited and manic (at that point) that I started crying again just thinking of the implications: an indoor pizza oven... a kitchen fireplace.... a hot-coals-holder for making homemade cobblers in dutch ovens...

I was suddenly hungry. I guess I never got around to that first lettuce harvest salad.

Oh well. There are so many more important things. So many more important things. Salads and chimneys are one thing, family is another.

And I'm so blessed to have a good one of each.

Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud:
and He shall hear my voice.
-Psalm 55:17

Monday, February 26, 2007

A Day Off Explained

I'm taking the day off. Blame it on cupcakes and daffodils and...

... Well, I had an insanely busy weekend. Did you? On top of all the activity, an enormous, angry storm blew through early Saturday, littering the place with dry, spindly pecan branches and lengths of roof shingles. I returned home late Saturday to find a charming little stream... in the hallway. Not. Cool. Being the DIY woman that I am, I figured I could trace this devil of a leak back to its source and... I don't know... stick a bucket under it or stuff some wine corks in it or chew tons of bubble gum and plug it. Ha! (Such a girl, I am.) So this morning I'm awaiting help (which is always an adventure), cleaning, and doing laundry.

Or... er... I will be. Right now I'm drinking iced mint tea, putting my latest daffodil bouquet in water and dreaming of making Martha Stewart's spring cupcakes this afternoon. Don't hate me.

Besides, I picked these daffodils just for you. I even stuck sprigs of fresh rosemary from the garden among them, and they're sitting all beautiful and fragrant, I suppose, on my desk.

It's unfortunate you can't stop by right now. If we looked at Freeman House from outer space, no doubt we'd see a carpet of sunny greens and yellows. It's beautiful here. It's spring-like. Why do we all wait for a number on a calendar to tell us when spring begins, anyway? My garden is shooting up, everything's abloom, and the high today is a forecasted 75 degrees. Winter? I think not!

Yep, as I sat here and considered spring this morning, I began replaying some breathtaking March/April/May memories: blooming dogwood in Arkansas; apple and cherry blossoms in Virginia; rainy puddles in Oklahoma; sunrises in New Mexico; melting snow in North Dakota; St. Patty's Day parade in New York City; my Dad's new potatoes here in Texas... and suddenly I thought of the Bible verse that says something about beauty, and how God sets the world in our hearts....

... And somehow, as I waited for the plumber from the chair in my backyard, I felt it: I felt like I held spring's beauty and the world in my heart... if even for a moment.

You see now why I had to take the day off. (Plumber aside.) I must make cupcakes and celebrate. Sometimes beauty and holding the world in your heart can be too much for a girl.

He hath made every thing beautiful in His time:
also He hath set the world in their heart…
-Ecclesiastes 3:11

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Monday Moment: Let's Talk About Hurt...

I get a lot of email. (Most days, to be honest, it drives me a bit nuts.) But usually once a day or so I'll come across one that I print out and take to a comfy chair to absorb. Some of you pour out your stories. Your pasts. Your doubts. Your fears. And a lot of you ask questions. Questions like... like... well, here... here are excerpts from actual emails that have landed in my inbox in the past week:

"...I just need some relief if there is any... How do you cope or does it get better? I would GREATLY appreciate any advice or help you can give..."

"My life is spiraling downward and I need answers like you seem to have...."

"I read your post on February 6 and I'm wondering how you deal with the heartbreak that you've faced (are facing)?..."

Wow. I see now that I should have traded that law degree for a counseling one. I am, honestly, better equipped to answer your legal questions... especially those of you who are charged with non-violent crimes in Texas. (Laugh)

But seriously. I've said this all along: I'm just a girl with a Bible. A girl who refuses to accept defeat or heartbreak as a way of life. A girl who'd rather ditch a difficult, agonizing living for an abundant, giving sort of living.

I wrote one lady back today... we'll call her 'Darla'... and after I sent her email decided I'd post my response. Maybe it will give others of you... those of you like Darla and myself who are grappling with issues of hurt, pain, and forgiveness... some words to think about:

Dear 'Darla',

I appreciate the fact you took time to write. Let me begin by saying that I'm honored, but humbled, by your email. Some issues are better discussed with a trusted pastor, friend, or counselor, and your situation strikes me as one of those. But I will, as a blogging friend, do my best to answer the questions you set before me.

You asked if dealing with hurt gets any easier. That may seem like a simple question, but I've found it's not. Most will probably tell you that yes, it does. It seems everyone's mother said, This too shall pass. And there's merit to that... to things passing. Isaiah 40 talks about grass fading and flowers withering and everything... save and except the word of God... passing. But while time does blur some blues and dismiss some despair, I don't believe it's capable of healing all wounds. Only a heavenly Father can tackle something that tremendous. Time isn't magic. To be frank, there's no calendar long enough to smooth over some things I've lived through. Naive hope and I have wasted precious time wishing that accumulated hours would hurry and heal my heart. Sometimes they can't. Sometimes we can't wait on time; we have to take calculated, considered steps to truly move beyond our past.

It was important for me to realize that there is no standby formula to getting over or getting through a hurt. That realization was both my scourge and my salvation. I've been to people before - strong people... the survivor types - and asked, How did you go on? How did you get through? And I've been disappointed every time for their answers weren't my solution. What worked for them didn't fit my life... my personality... my bag of issues. (You being from Kentucky, I'll put it like this: I'm not a get-back-on-the-horse type of griever. I'm a bourbon-in-the-bathtub type of griever.) What's worked for me might not work for you. But I will say this: give yourself time and permission to feel what will otherwise eat away at you. Cry. Grieve. If you're angry, work that out, too. And the fresher it is, the faster the healing. The sooner, the better, as our mothers also said.

This I do know: turning about and facing your fear... opening old wounds... dealing with damage... is a significant step. Don't cheat yourself of this. Calling a "time out" and dropping defenses and wheeling around to stare down your demons is no small act. At least it wasn't for me. In fact I was outright told - just this past week - that I still have hurts to own up to. Ah well, I grinned, What doesn't kill me will only make me stronger, right? My friend smiled a tight little smile. Perhaps, he said. But your unresolved grief isn't making you stronger. It's making you bitter. There's a difference.

Identifying what, exactly, you're up against is a small, but necessary, chore. So, too, is acknowledging heartbreak... sin... even things you dislike or choose to ignore about yourself. (I abhor weakness in others because it's the trait I'm most ashamed of in myself. But until I acknowledge that I'm not as emotionally tough (hardened?) as my mother, will I ever truly learn to flush out and handle my heartbreaks in my own way?) Yes, once you've given names to your issues and insecurities, I truly believe you have them by the tail. Now you just have to know where... and when... to release them.

As for moving beyond a wrong... moving past the havoc and heartbreak people wreak... I don't have answers. I'm still grappling with that monkey myself. I will say that I've heard at some point grief turns from a "Why? Why me?" to more of a "What now? What's next?" type of question. And while I'm waiting on that progress, I've relieved myself of the burden of "getting over" certain things - like a horse jumps a hurdle. No, I see my challenge as more of a methodical leaving behind - like a turtle creeping down a long road. My past and its sorrows will always be behind me, but they'll be just that: farther and farther behind me with each step.

Forgiveness? You had to ask. This one's especially difficult. Do you remember the two greatest commandments? Jesus spelled them out Himself: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37 -40). I find it interesting how interconnected it all is: loving God... loving others... loving ourselves. It has to be the key to emotional wholeness, too.

This may be tricky, but I'll say it anyway: it's been necessary, in my own life, to grasp these commandments before tackling my own issues. Particularly those of forgiveness. Why? Because God's way of doing things is so different than ours. Notice that Jesus didn't command us to love/forgive ourselves... then love/forgive the people around us if we can... then love/forgive God with whatever exhausted emotion is left over. Not hardly. If you'll notice, we're sort of mentioned... last in the whole equation. It works like this: until we're willing to recognize and accept that God ... and God alone... is our true and only source (and outlet) of love, forgiveness, and happiness, we have no basis or reason to love, forgive, or accept others. And until we see and treat others for who they are - people created in God's image - we have no reason to examine or find worth in ourselves. And we really must see ourselves as ones created in the image of God... as people God Himself deemed worthy of the ultimate love... sacrifice... and saving... before embracing the challenge of loving someone else. Of forgiving someone else. I must see the worth in my"self" before I can get past the "self" in someone else.

The truth is, everyone in your life - including yourself - will fail to meet your expectations. Every single person you depend on will disappoint you. (Sometimes you may even feel as though God Himself is behind the helm of your (sinking) Love Boat.) The despair and disappointment we feel when others trample us... abuse us... neglect us... abandon us... is understandable - we always seem to look for perfection among an imperfect lot of folks. But we are all people. Although we're made in His image, we don't have God's capacity to love unconditionally. To stick around through eternity. And until we learn to see ourselves and those who have deeply, deeply hurt us for who and what we really are - people who must first and fully accept God's gift of love, acceptance, and sense of worth and uniqueness - we have nothing to love, accept, or value in ourselves or others. My point is this: without a spiritual foundation, our emotions and emotional recovery has little to anchor itself to. Until we all experience God's love, we have no chance of properly giving or receiving love. And until we experience the freedom of God's forgiveness, we can't expect forgiveness to be an option in our own relationships or left-behind hearts.

Huh. Forgiveness. It's an issue scholars and pastors and counselors have spent lifetimes examining and debating. I certainly won't be the one to come up with your answer. But you asked what I thought so I'm prattling on....

But know... as I do... that you are deeply loved. No matter what those who come into our lives do and say, we are utterly and permanently loved by a God who came to seek and save us. By a God who humbled Himself and became obedient - even to the death of the cross - so He could stare into hurt and hungry faces and say: Let not your heart be troubled. ...for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14: 1-4) You have to love that. You have to love a comforting Man who loves you enough to be preparing a home for you so that wherever He is, there you can be, too. (And isn't it ironic how we women spend our whole lives looking for a man who will do exactly that?)

Okay. With all that said, here's the Cliff Notes: Whether it be right or wrong, I handle my hurts by:
1) Acknowledging them so I can
2) Feel them long enough to
3) Identify them. Then I give myself permission to
4) Begin moving away from them by
5) Drawing upon a love greater than my own, so I can
6) Accept and forgive a hurt or hurter.

Is this an easy process? No. No way. And is it the only process? Um, no. It's just something I've tacked down that's helping me. Yours could look drastically different. The good news is there are so many excellent people and resources out there for girls like us. A few books I highly recommend? Check out: The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie, Soul Catcher by Kathy Eldon, Finding God in the Broken Places by Patsy Clairmont, and The Beautiful Ache by Leigh McLeroy. And again, I encourage you to visit with someone who can help you talk through your individual situation....

I hope this gives you more to think on as you face your own fantastic journey toward healing. Know that I don't have your answers, but you're in my prayers all the same.


Friday, February 23, 2007

Cake in the Clover

If it wasn't for this whole earning a living thing, I might get something done.

Amid reports and meetings and calls and research yesterday, I squinted at the clock (it was about 4:15 p.m.) and sighed. Seriously, jobs can be such work. After considering my day for a moment, I calmly stood, crammed my laptop into my work bag, and walked out of the courthouse.

Then I ran to my car.

Once home, I tumbled onto the pavement and limped to the mailbox. (Dumb, lovely green shoes. Why do I torture myself with death-defying, sole-killing... pun intended... footwear?) My painful hobbling was rewarded by an awaiting package stuffed in the mailbox. Well, what do we have here? Could it be the long-awaited A Piece of Cake by Susan G. Purdy? I believe it is!

I didn't even go indoors. I veered sharply toward the backyard, sat underneath the magnolia tree, and beheld my new cookbook. Cake book. (Those are my bony knees seen protruding from behind the book.) Ah, yes. And to think only hours ago I was a sad little employee.

As I was reading about carrot cake, I was momentarily startled by a nearby bird's sudden flight. Looking up, I noticed a patch of thick, green clover across the yard. Why was I sitting upright in a chair? I'd done that half the day, for heaven's sake. Hmm. Let's read cake in the clover, shall we?

We shall. I kicked off my shoes, settled into the pillowy, cool grass, and read about cake. It was divine.

Or it sure beat the heck out of working.

Hmm. If, like me, you are stuck at a dumb old job today, take heart. Let's take heart, both of us. Friday is here, and retirement isn't too far off. (Well, if you consider 25-45 years in the context of time since the dawn of civilization. If you look at it that way, carefree days are upon us. [Dramatic sigh]

Yes, here's to us working folk. Here's to our Friday. Someday all the cake in all the clover in all the yard will be ours.

Have a happy weekend! -B

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Driving Miss Crazy

Ah, there's nothing like a road trip! Or a trip on the open road. Just ask my friend Amber.

When we were younger ... junior high, early high school ... Amber and I both had the sort of homes we loved to abandon - if only for a little while. We'd hop in the car and gab and sing and laugh and window surf (until the preacher saw us). We'd spend countless hours at each other's places, dreaming of the time we could hop in the car and ride forever, sans our mothers' be home by... following us out the door.

Ah yes. Heh-heh. What we could only dream of then we do now. It's fun how friendship and girlhood dreams sometimes come full circle, isn't it?

Yep, Amber called me recently and we formulated a plan: gorge ourselves on Chinese food (although we're both on diets - she on the anti-white food diet, me on Weight Watchers. But it was a buffet. You cannot be on a diet anywhere there's all-you-can-eat pork. Are you kidding me? When did a diet ever keep a good girl down?)

Oh, but yeah. The plan. It was to get full on Chinese, and ended with fueling up Amber's beautimous Ford Falcon and going for a drive.

Omgosh, it was the stuff teenage dreams are made of.

After I got in the driver's side, slumped in, and insisted on hiking my leg up and through the rolled down window, Amber took my picture and we were off. She drove, of course. It's her fantastic car... she's cool that way. Besides, I thought maybe she could use a shot of remember-what-it's-like-to-be-in-the-car-with-crazy-Brin. I grinned and shrieked and cackled as we turned out onto the open road - sans seat belts, of course - and took in the scenery. It was liberating. It was exhilarating.

I was a little crazy, I think.

But Amber, calm but feisty, sweet but hilarious Amber, took me all in stride. She has to, you know, we've been friends since ancient times.

Anyway, all this to say that girlfriends are truly special, are they not? Whether you're a new friend or have been with me since Aquanet-sprayed bangs, I just wanted you to know that I adore each of you and hope you're well today. Thanks for blessing my life with such great moments, great memories, and great trips!

(And to you, Am... I love ya! Thanks for gassing up the old Falcon and driving Miss Crazy!)

The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
The Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.
-Numbers 6:24-26

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Plan or Perish?

Plans are nothing; planning is everything.
-Dwight D. Eisenhower

So my parents bought me this book for Christmas about the life and wisdom of Solomon. You know, Solomon: the biblical king who pretty much knew all and owned all. I started reading this book Sunday night with one eye closed because, to be honest, it looked a little gimmicky. Imagine my surprise yesterday when I caught myself reading - with both eyes - and wishing I had a highlighter.

The premise of this book is simple: without a vision, we're doomed. Read: no plan, no life. Drawing on the wisdom of Proverbs 29:18, which reads: Without a vision, the people perish, the author explains that people who are most successful in life are those who have and implement a plan.

It's really got me thinking. It has me thinking that maybe I need a plan. A vision. And that's a big mind-set shift for me. For so long, I've sneered at plans and planning... I mean, at one time I had a great plan for my life. A great one. I had a good career going. I interviewed presidents and had my picture in TIME magazine. I had a future, I thought. (Read about it here.) But one day, things went awry. Really, really awry. So I drifted. I bought a house, got married, then got unmarried and returned home. Again, plans had gone bust. I adopted the "let go and let God" attitude, and have laughed at the idea of plans since then.

But perhaps I've looked at it all wrong. After all, it's one thing to have a plan, and it's another thing entirely to do a little planning.

Huh. It seemed fortuitous, then, that my garden planning stuff would arrive in the mail this afternoon. I have plans to build a potting shed - almost identical to the one above (isn't it FABULOUS?!) and grow herbs and flowers. (A marathon gardening day is already planned for March 2 with one super-handy, garden guy.) As I piled up my seed packets, I realized: whether it's for my business, my life, my spaghetti dinner, or my little garden: maybe planning is key. Without a vision, the people perish.

It applies to us all... as people groups and as pretty people. I guess we need plans. We need to do a little planning. Without it, drifting and depression and ultimately despair will hunt us down and whack us in the head. (Or heart.) We might as well perish. Yep, maybe I'm a recent convert. Maybe. Maybe plans and planning is where it is.

So I thought I'd pretend I'm sold on the idea and do a little planning this evening. You know, during Gilmore Girls commercial breaks. It appears I have a lot to plan: my hair style, my pantry storage issue, my summer, and... oh... my life. Shouldn't take that long. [wink]

What about you guys? Are you planners?

Monday, February 19, 2007

All Things Bright and Beautiful

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.
-Cecil Alexander, 1848

When Laura Bush decided on the theme "All Things Bright and Beautiful" for the White House Christmas of 2005, I was enthralled. While All Things Bright and Beautiful is one of my favorite church hymns, I also think it's the most divine-sounding mantra ever. Bright and beautiful... It's lovely, right? After all, who doesn't want a home... or a life... like that?

Bright and beautiful. The little phrase has planted itself in my daydreams. It sweetly taps me on the shoulder every time I spot a pretty fabric or pillowcase or dish. The past few months, I've unwittingly come home with yards and yards of powder blue and pink cotton paisley and bloom-green organza ribbon. It's bright and beautiful, I tell myself when I hesitate over buying it.

Egad. I now have mini-mountains of pretty, fluffy, ruffly things. I have designs for library and ballet and hand bags, dreams of aprons and pillows, and thoughts of hair pins and ribbon corsages. My sketches are bursting out of file baskets and my ideas are clouding my good (ha!) judgment.

So the moment was upon me. In the midst of being a girly cowgirl and cooking a lemon and rosemary something-or-other this weekend, I suddenly said out loud, "I have too much. Freeman House can't hold all of this. I need to open an online store." Out loud. Just like that. And although one side of my brain was saying lotsa luck, the other argued that lotsa bright and beautiful girls out there just might want a taste of the sunshine and roses and beauty and charm of this place. You know, until I can get Freeman House finished and start renting out beds and breakfasts. [Smile]

It was decided. Therefore around Easter, Freeman House will open its online store on No sooner had I begun thinking of all the lovely things I would beautifully wrap and send out, than my phone beeped with an internet message. It was from Cherry Menlove, who along with Alicia Paulson, is my all things bright and beautiful hero. I nearly choked from excitement when I read her note. So it was re-decided. I would open a little online shop. A shop with all the prettiest things I can possibly dream up from within my chipped paint and rose-covered Freeman House.

I'm so excited I can hardly sit still. (Of course, that could also be on account of the low-fat Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies I perfected yesterday. I found they go great with a Vanilla Chai Latte. Now I'm as tortured as that girl on MSN who's had the hiccups for two straight weeks.) Go figure.

Anyway, I just thought I'd let you know what's going on here at Freeman House in case you try to smoke signal me and I don't immediately smoke back. It appears I'll be wrapped in roses and dragging ribbon behind my shoe (like toilet paper) for the next several weeks. Good thing Maebelline has an automatic cat feeder. I have a feeling I'm fixing to find out just how busy being bright and beautiful can make a girl!...

The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,
He made them every one.

The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
He made them, high or lowly,
And ordered their estate.

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Cowgirl Fever

A cowgirl gets up in the morning,
decides what she wants to do
and does it.
-Marie Lords, 1861

A new ranch is going in about 5 miles up the road from Freeman House. It's breathtaking. As I drove by its plump, green hills this morning, a man was saddled up and riding through his woolly-looking herd. It was such a beautiful sight that I got a lump in my throat.

Within a moment of taking it all in, I had cowgirl fever. Bad. I was suddenly hungry for chili. (Or steak.) I wanted to put on my vintage apron and straw hat and worn leather boots. I wanted to jump on hay bales. I wanted to sit by the open fire and drink really strong coffee.... or Dr. Pepper from a glass bottle. I wanted to play my fiddle and sing Amazing Grace. I wanted to sit on a splintery wooden fence and take in the wide, starry sky....

I wanted to be a cowgirl. Just for the day.

It made me laugh, then - upon arriving home - that I found an invitation to visit the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth. It's one of those places I wouldn't mind peeking in on... (especially after seeing the photos on the website) ... but it doesn't rank very high on my list of things to see. Hmmm. Maybe it should...

You know, when I think of the women who helped settle the west... who toughed out wagon trains and Indian ambushes and drunk, hungry cowboys... I feel like I could be capable of so much more. I feel downright spoiled. I feel the need to cultivate a stronger character of fearlessness and romanticism and spunk. I also feel the need to sing more hymns and braid my hair and stitch up extra cotton aprons....

...Yep, that settles it. I give. This weekend, I'm gonna be a cowgirl. Yee-haw!

Feel free to stop on by Freeman House - in person or here online - if you get a chance. I'm going to get up in the morning, decide what I want to do, and do it. And of course, I could always use an extra hand!

(And like any true cowgirl, the coffee and grub is on me.)

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Everything starts as somebody's daydream.
-Larry Niven

It is snowing this morning! It is snowing actual pudgy snowflakes of snow... not the tiny pellets of ice we Texans usually get and call "snow". This is the real stuff. It's like a pretty daydream: all the indoor roses scattered throughout Freeman House have been watching silently, respectfully, as the glittery snow hits the window panes. (Already I can hear all the old men at Bailey's Hardware Store talking about the Great Blizzard of 2007.) Of course, the snow isn't sticking, and if you look anywhere but the sky you can't really see it, but it is snow. Real snow.

Despite the daydream-like snow, I have a dirty confession: I am horrified at myself. Of the handful of blogs I faithfully read, only ONE failed to mention Valentine's Day. I tried not to take it personally when I pulled up her blog yesterday and didn't see a cheery wish for a happy Valentine's. I tried. But... um... well, I guess she wasn't the only one, was she? [Blushing] Please accept my apologies for this belated wish, and know that I truly do (and did) wish a lovely Valentine's Day for you all! (Next year, I'm planning a girly blow-out for the night of February 14th. Note it on your calendars now: February 14, 2008, Freeman House. Be here or wish you had! [Smile]

But seriously now. In all honesty, I've been sicker than those dog-kicking, nun-tripping, orphanage-burning folks who live on pills. I thought I died twice yesterday. In the past 24 hours I have consumed more hot coffee, cold orange juice, Advil Cold and Flu, and Cold-EEZE than I ever thought possible. I believe I may have set a record....

But no matter. Deeply absorbed in my medicated bliss, I waited for snow yesterday and propped myself up and watched TEN straight hours of Gilmore Girls, all-the-while updating my Daydream Board.

Surely you have one too, right? Oh. Well, I have piles and piles of things... clippings, pictures, lists, notes, cards... that I love to gaze upon for ideas and inspiration. I decided a few years ago that it was pointless to bury these things in files - I forget them, that way - and bought an enormous cork board. Voila, the Daydream Board was born. I love mine. In fact, in my new study, I have a custom board going in, measuring 8 feet tall by 4 feet wide.** I'm giddy with anticipation. The fun thing about Daydream Boards is there are no rules, I simply update it every season, at least, and include snippets of whatever tickles or delights me. (**They're easy to do yourself! I simply bought rolls of cork from a craft supply store and found wooden trim to frame it out with. In a few weeks, I'll give you pics and specifics.)

It's strange, too, how the Daydream Board works. I see something swell, pin it up, and within days... weeks... whatever... I'll suddenly be daydreaming about something unrelated and think, well of course that chair needs a square embroidered cushion. How odd that I didn't see it before. Or, certainly wild strawberries should grow here. Duh. Or even, Why didn't I think of organizing my recipes/files that way? Now "chocolate bread pudding" won't be mixed in with "2005 property taxes"....

It's a fun way to encourage daydreaming, I think. Am I alone here? Is anyone else a chronic daydreamer? Sneak up on me anytime I'm in here, and I guarantee you'll see me doing two things: drinking coffee and staring absently at my board. But I'm convinced daydreaming is wonderful hobby. (Especially if you're bored, lonely, or sicker than nun-tripper.) I also think the quote above is true, that nearly everything is a result of someone's daydream.

Kind of first-real-snowfall-of-the-year inspiring, is it not?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Monarchical Prerogatives

To be sick is to enjoy monarchical prerogatives.
-Charles Lamb

Ah, yes. To be sick is to enjoy monarchical prerogatives... queenly privileges like hiding under quilts, wearing bulky and terribly mismatched clothing, gulping down cups and cups of hot tea (and orange juice), and watching every girly movie available. Yup. Nothing like a sick day to make you feel like royalty, huh?

So as not to lose the entire day to my pounding head and body aches, I did make myself do something. I organized two overstuffed bags of scrapbooking things into appropriate craft files. I also cut a few quilt squares. In fact, I was fighting the cold-and-flu medicine for control of my hand/eye coordination when the phone rang. It was one of my dearest friends, a recent Central Asia dweller, who upon hearing I was sick immediately said, "Well, you have eaten, haven't you?"

Eat? Yick. No thanks. Although at her encouraging I made the long trek into the kitchen, hoisted open the refrigerator door, and took all of 2 seconds to glance in and think, Please, I can't eat any of this.

A few hours later, I decided that maybe she was right and food would help. The longer I sat implanted into the couch, however, only one thing sounded good: potatoes and cheese. Darn. I would have to make something. A quick recipe search revealed a potato gratin that I've had earmarked to try for ages. So, dragging a stool to the oven for support, I went to work. And soon, my friends, the perfect sick food emerged:


1 lb. red potatoes
3/4 cup coarsely grated Gruyere
1 large egg
3/4 cup milk, warmed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a shallow baking dish.
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Peel potatoes and cut into thin slices (about 1/8-inch thick). Add potatoes and boil 4 minutes. Drain.

In baking dish, arrange potatoes, overlapping them, in 3 layers, sprinkling first 2 layers each with 1/4 cup Gruyere and salt and pepper, to taste.

In a small bowl whisk egg and add warm milk in a stream, stirring constantly. Season mixture and pour evenly over potatoes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake until top is golden and potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.

(This probably tastes even better than I realized, being that I can't feel my face and all. Once I'm better, I definitely plan to perfect this in time for an Easter dinner or two.)

That said, please excuse my sick self as I crawl back to the couch. I'm terrible company today. Besides, from what I can hear, I'm missing the end of Chocolat....

[Smile. Cough.]

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Miracle of Compost

And we know that all things work together for good
to them that love God, to them who are called
according to His purpose.
-Romans 8:28

Don't you just love that you took the time to visit today, only to be greeted with a shot of my garden compost bin? [Laughing] Sorry. Pull up a chair and visit with me for a minute and I'll explain.

Sadly enough, I am completely enamored with the concept of composting. I've actually read articles and studied formulas on how to make the perfect organic compost to feed growing plants. All my kitchen scraps: vegetable peels, egg shells, onion and garlic skins, coffee and tea grounds, rotting fruit, slimy herbs... all these things daily make their way into my bin in the backyard. Every few days, I carefully add carbon-based material, water appropriately, and walk away. Then within several weeks, bingo! Crumbly, nutrient-rich garden gold is waiting for me, and my formerly disgusting and detestable stuff has been transformed into nurturing, beneficial material for growing and struggling things.

I think it's the coolest thing ever.

Anyway, I stumbled out to the compost bin this morning to add another little pile of scary, already-sprouting things from the fridge, and was struck with the thought that: wow, my life as a God-fearing gal works a lot like this compost bin.

(True, I am coming down with something terrible. I have chills and aches and a head that's about to fall off, but still, I don't think I've lost it. Yet. Hear me out.)

Yeah, I think my life is similar to a compost bin for this reason: no matter what sort of gross, scary, or downright wrong things I turn up with - stinky attitudes, rotten actions - sin and such - I have a wise and patient God who takes my life, scary things and all, combines it with His grace, love, and purpose, and transforms it into something He can use.

The Bible says that all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose. And here's the thing. If you're reading this now, that can apply to you. See, I know so many people who think they are too old... too bad... too clueless... or too late... to meet God. They figure there's too much in their past, or not enough in their present, to be attractive or desirable to God. But here's the thing: God is like a master composter. All you have to do is supply the material... no matter how old, disgusting, or detestable it is, and He can transform it into a nurturing, beneficial life.

I speak from experience. I'm coming at you as someone who's gone to God... even as a Christian... with more rotten and slimy stuff than you can imagine. (Failure. Sin. Divorce, etc.) And yet I rejoice... every day... when I see how He has taken (and continues to take!) that stuff and use it for something good in my life and the lives of people around me.

Yeah, I think composting may be the coolest thing ever. Whether we're talking about kitchen scraps or life scraps, it can all become so much more in the hands of Someone else. Someone who wrote the Book on how all things can work together for good. So if you've never considered it, maybe you should give composting ... and God... a go....

I mean, what do we have to lose besides scraps of used, dying things anyway?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The First Annual Daffodil Day

The daffodil is our doorside queen;
she pushes upward the sword already,
to spot with sunshine the early green.
-William C. Bryant

This Saturday is just darling. Truly! It's one of those Saturdays that brings to mind Easter and sunny porches and cotton dresses and new potatoes and asparagus. The King Alfred daffodils around Freeman House are swaying in the breeze, making it seem more spring-like than it has in awhile. Wish you were here!

This afternoon I have no fewer than 3,583 projects going. I have fabric to iron and bills to post and files to label and rooms to paint and tile to grout and laundry to put away and... gosh! I got so overwhelmed, in fact, that I wandered out behind the house and sat among the daffodils. They were cool and delicate and looked good enough to eat, I thought. Which got me (the scatter-brain) thinking... I wonder what a daffodil would taste like?

I went back to the kitchen, where my chocolate tarts were cooling. (Project #2 of 3,583.) I decided that I wanted something green and yellow - daffodil like - for lunch. I came up with this, which I'm calling Daffodil Pasta. It's soo quick and easy that I'm sure it will be a spring standby around here!


1/2 pkg. penne pasta, cooked
handful (2 c.) baby spinach leaves
1 (or 2) cloves garlic
1/3 c. grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1 lemon
1-2 T. olive oil

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.
2. Pulse spinach and garlic in food processor until finely chopped.
(Or mill it with a knife and coarse salt like I did.)
3. Stream in olive oil and juice from half a lemon until mixture takes on
a pesto consistency.
4. Stir in grated cheese of choice. Salt and pepper to taste.
5. Toss with warm pasta and grate additional cheese over.
6. Serve with lemon twists if desired. This is also great cold!

Since this recipe has a no-cook sauce, it's a snap to throw together. (It's also very low in fat, which means it will stay on the menu here until ... well, until the daffodils stop blooming in the spring, probably!

Not that I mind. Please excuse me while I take my little blanket and big bowl of pasta back out to the daffodils in the garden. I've resigned myself to getting absolutely nothing done today. But hey. I'm not slacking. Not at all...

...Turns out, I'm simply observing Freeman House's First Annual Daffodil Day. And what, I ask, could be more important than that?

Thursday, February 8, 2007

A Peek Into the Knitting Bag...

Knitting is very conducive to thought.
It is nice to knit a while, put down the needles,
write a while, then take up ... again.
-Dorothy Day

I learned to knit a few years ago, seduced by the novelty and simplicity of the centuries-old craft. For a year or so I happily knitted scarves, presenting them in dramatic-type fashion to anyone who would pity me enough to wear them. But you can only make so many scarves, and after piles and piles of them accumulated, I put my knitting away.

Months later, I came upon my yarn stash and knitting fever overtook me once again. Determined to break out of my scarf-slump mania, I consulted my brilliant and talented mother, who taught me to purl. From there, I never looked back.

This week I'm in the process of organizing the room that will be my study/sewing/sometimes-sleeping/sitting room. (Ha! Put that on a plaque on the door!) And although I've put it off for weeks, today I forced myself to forage through baskets and baskets of knitting in order to right them all. And what do you know? I found some neat things I'd forgotten about!

The little bag at the top of the post was knitted and sewn with scraps of yarn, felt, and an itty piece of leftover fabric. I made it because I needed a new makeup pouch for my purse. All it needed was a drawstring ribbon, which I added today, and it's ready for lipgloss and lipstick. Perfect!

Oh! And here's the purse/bag I intended to give my sister for Valentine's Day. I found the yarn for this at a garage sale for $1, and the felt and fabric were scraps. So, it cost me $1 and two evenings to make. I'm planning to stuff it with pink tissue paper and Hershey's miniatures. What do you think?

And oh... the hat! [Laughing] I tried this out just before the holidays, and since I didn't have a pom-pom maker, I used my credit card to wind the yarn. (Sad, no?) Anyway, I think my entire family - about 35 people - wore this hat at some point over the Thanksgiving. But I still think it's darling. Eccentric, but darling. How did this end up at the bottom of a stack?

Awh! I forgot about these! Baby booties are so fun to make. And these were so soft.... (Traci!! I forgot to send these to you! I'm so sorry. I'd send them now, only I'm sure your boy is breaking in his baseball cleats and these aren't exactly appropriate for a third grader. I really am sorry.)

[Sigh] I suppose that's what I get for not keeping my knitting organized. Lesson learned!

Wow, I love to knit. Such a fun skill. You know, I was thinking, wouldn't it be awfully fun to hold basic knitting lessons? You all could come for the weekend, stay at Freeman House, and we could knit and eat yummy meals and pick roses and browse the library. Wouldn't that be lovely? Maybe when Freeman House is better we'll do just that...

Okay, enough wishing and typing. I need to get busy. You should see all the stuff piled up in here. Should you, for some reason, not hear from me for a few days, please summon help - I'm probably trapped beneath a yarn avalanche....

Wednesday, February 7, 2007


I dwell in possibility.
-Emily Dickinson

I love this time of year. Around Freeman House, things are turning green, the daffodils are blooming, and the birds are splashing in the birdbath. Spring is flirting with us today and I'm falling hard, lured by the possibility of what's to come. After all, isn't that the best thing about February? Its promise of possibility?

As I look around, I think my little world sings of just that: possibility. The house is a renovation mess right now, but you'll see its pretty potential if you look long enough. Boxes - dozens of boxes - hold a small library, and the promise of reading-away many long, sweet days. The kitchen hides opportunities of chocolate tarts and apricot-glazed ham and fresh blueberry ice cream and warm, homemade bread. Sewing baskets hint at the likelihood of hand stitched quilts covering freshly laundered beds. Even the first few plants in the (half-finished) sitting room seem to be exclaiming in green, telling passersby of the probability of the magic this room will house.

It's true, I think, that even in the midst of challenges and setbacks and problems... even then... it's still simple to locate possibility. I love the Bible story in Mark 9, where Jesus delivers a father and son out of a scary situation. Help me if you can, the father pleaded to Jesus. "'If You can?' All things are possible to him who believes," Jesus said.

I knew it. Possibility is biblical. It's there for the taking to anyone who believes, regardless of status or situation or story.

I so appreciate the comments and calls and emails you have sent my way. You're all precious to me. Thanks. And I wanted you to know that despite the occasional sadness or tears, I don't dwell there... in the past. Oh no. I may visit sometimes, but I dwell somewhere else. I dwell in possibility, too.

Why don't you join me ... and Maebelline, the cat... here? I'm sure there's room for you.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Things Not Seen

He who plants a seed beneath the sod
and waits to see, believes in God.

I lay awake last night thinking of two things: the onion sets in the laundry that desperately needed to be planted, and a Bible verse about faith. Yes, faith. As in, Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1) I explained away these seemingly unrelated thoughts on my decision to stay up late and watch a Hallmark movie, (although it did feature oranges, not onions). Regardless, it was a long, quiet night.

After drifting through several messy situations this morning, I came home this afternoon to find a sunny and warm garden. Thrilling, is what it was. I was almost quivering with excitement. I get an enormous kick out of planting things. (Proof: click here.) On came the garden boots, out came the hoe, and crazy went the gardening girl. Moments later, as I gently separated little onions and turned over the earth where they were to be planted, I found myself repeating that verse again. Faith is the substance of things hoped for.... "Am I missing something?" I thought aloud to myself.

An hour or so later, both onion sets - white and sweet - were in the ground. Beneath the sod. As I lay down to take a picture of my newly planted onions, all the thoughts of the previous night rained down on me again, and after I snapped this picture, I rested my face on the sweet, cool grass and cried.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.... There it was. My answer. With all the grief and the soul-baring questions that have swirled around in my head since my marriage ended last month, I have diverted many late night moments into gardening planning sessions. Into ordering seeds and plants and catalogues online. And suddenly, as I lay in the grass this afternoon, staring at my planted onion sets, it hit me: I have no idea whether these onions will actually grow. Whether they'll really develop. Planting is, in and of itself then, a belief in God. (For me, anyway.) It's an act of faith. And what is faith, exactly? Faith is... well, it's... the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. My onions and roses and blueberries and arugula and lettuce... they are all substance... they are all evidence... of faith.

There are so many things we hope for. Wish for. Pray for. And there are so many things we can't see... can't grasp... and don't understand (and maybe never will). But faith ... faith is where we hang our hat. What we offer up as evidence. Faith is why we plant onions.

There are a number of things in my life, today, that remain unseen. Will my little crops survive coming frosts/droughts? Will I find the money for a new roof? Will I survive this heartbreak to thrive again? Likely, likely, and likely. Why? Like I realized while on my face gazing at onions today, it's because I have faith. I've been blessed with the substance of faith. And that, my friends, is sometimes all we need to face these things not seen.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Fiddle-Dee-Dee Fun

A bargain is something you can't use
at a price you can't resist.
-Franklin Jones

Ahhh, it's good to sit down! After a delightful weekend of theatre watching, book browsing, cafe eating, and antique shopping, I'm glad to be home! Wow, did we ever have a blast!

I can't think of the last time I enjoyed myself this much. First off, in an effort to "upgrade" my life, I made a decision a few weeks ago to forgo movies in favor of live theatre. (Read about it here.) It was definitely the right decision. We guffawed and slapped our knees and roared with laughter as Moonlight and Magnolias played out on the stage before us. (To be sure, the play is about the making of the movie script for Gone With the Wind. The trouble was, Ben Hecht, the screenplay writer, hadn't read the book, so the producer and the studio exec locked themselves in an office for five straight days and acted out the scenes for Hecht so he could crank out a script.) It was the funniest thing ever. Fiddle-dee-dee. [Grin.]

Although I'm skipping over a dozen equally fun things, I'll get on to the shopping. I went to Canton this weekend hoping to find three things: a music stand (to hold my violin music), a wooden ladder to lean against the wall (to use as a shoe rack for my pretty, high-heeled shoes), and a cabinet for the bathroom (to store... well, likely you know.) Ha! I didn't buy a single one of those things. How could I, when there were so many other bargains out there? Things like...

... amazing wooden cutting boards, rolling pins, egg beaters, and wooden dough bowls (huge ones for $12!!) with so much character. I loaded up. Literally. And...

...herb and flower pot stacker-things, so I can create sculptural, focal-point garden pieces out of terra cotta pots this spring. (Isn't this fun?!) Oh! And....

... screened-in doors that I couldn't think of any use for, but were so great I had to stop. And of course....

... heavy, rusted old letters to spell fun names and words. At the end of the day, I unloaded many, many treasures, also including an antique German flower watering can, some quilted pillow shams, a handmade doll, and some New Mexico-grown-and-dried organic roses, which are so breathtaking I will have to show you at some point.

You know, the thing about browsing antique and junk and flea-market stops is you never know what you'll find. But isn't that also what makes it so enjoyable? The knowing you paid $20 for an enormous German watering can that you'll use in your garden for many, many springs to come?

As for the bargains I didn't find or couldn't afford, I think I've decided to do this all over again in May. Maybe then I'll find my music stand. If not, perhaps I'll at least think to get that cute sign. You know, the one that said: I have a woman's furniture problem. My chest is in my drawers.
[Laugh.] Fiddle-dee-dee!

Friday, February 2, 2007

And the Chocolate Goes To...

... three sweet, wonderful gals who are hopefully making room on their thighs for a choco-calorie feast!

As you may or may not know, last week I posted my 100th blog entry, and for fun... and to also see if anyone reads this... I thought it would be yummy to give away Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies and makings for two of Serendipity's Frozen Hot Chocolate . (Ever since I saw the movie Serendipity, I have been in love with this delightfully decadent dessert. It is THE best!)

I had a hunch this would be fun, and it has been. Just a few moments ago I nervously cut out the comments from the post, shook them around in a bowl, and asked my cat, Maebelline, if she would please come over and draw three names. She stared at me from inside the file basket on my desk, so I had to draw them myself. And in no particular order, here they are:

**Well for heavens sake count me in! (wink wink) Congrats! Your blog brings so much pleasure to my day. Thanks for it, and for you! connie

**Oh yum! Your cake AND your blog are wonderful! I'll have to come back when I can read all of it ~
but from the few entries that I have, you are a delight! xo, Kim

**Happy 100th post! I'm fairly new to your blog, but am so glad I stumbled across it. You are an amazing, interesting and insightful person. You and I have so much in common that I feel like we could be friends. Anyway, thanks so much for adding some sunshine to my day! Blessing, Linda

Yea! Congratulations to Connie, Kim, and Linda! Thank you all for reading, for spending part of your day with me, and for sending such sweet comments my way. They always make my day! I'm glad you are here, and look forward to a lovely year of chatting, cooking, crafting, homemaking, and sharing a few laughs together!

(Oh, and Connie, Kim, and Linda... I'll need some instructions to get this all this chocolate and sweets sent your way. If you can get your name and address to me at:, I'll get them sent out first thing Monday!)

What fun! With that done, I need to grab my bag and books and I'm off on my weekend roadtrip. Tonight we're catching a bit of Moonlight and Magnolias at the Dallas theatre, then we're off first thing tomorrow for a day of shameless scavenging for bargains and beauties. (By the way, did you catch the article in this month's Country Living on Canton? If not, I'll bring you back an exclusive. Wink.)

I'm off! Have a beautiful weekend! -Brin

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Botox and Bananas

Look, it's to the point where kids are getting Botox.
It's insane. We're not allowed to age.
-Rosanna Arquette

I was happily banging around in the kitchen this afternoon, making banana nut muffins and bread for a little roadtrip on Friday, when the mail lady, Junior, knocked on the door. (Yeah, I know. The mail lady's name is Junior. It's a small town. Go figure.) After exchanging muffins for mail, Junior and I said goodbye and she took her leave, leaving me to rifle through my little pile of letters.

About halfway through the stack, I nearly dropped my muffin. "BOTOX?!" I cried. "What in the world?"

Apparently a fine plastic surgery establishment out of Dallas has seen fit to send me a letter announcing its spring Botox promotion. And what further made me choke on banana crumbs was the first sentence of this darling letter. Here. Read if you can:

Catch that first sentence? My next Botox appointment? Am I reading that correctly? Is it implying I had a first appointment?

My muffin and I went and squinted into the bathroom mirror. Is any premature aging so present and noticeable that a plastic surgeon can spot it on me all the way from Dallas? Certainly not. No way. I'm only 27. I have no use for Botox! The fact that I wear large, "hollywood shades", (as Susan called them) and slather myself with Cindy Crawford's Meaningful Beauty every night is supposed to protect me from the needle and botulism pit into which so many women fall.

I laughed when one of my best friends got a letter from AARP the other day. Now I wish I hadn't. My next Botox appointment, my foot.

Sure, maybe some of you are saying that once I hit my golden years, I'll be eagerly dialing the number at the bottom of my Botox letter, praying for an early appointment with a heaping helping of botulism for my droopy eyes. But I doubt it. Seriously. My Great-Grandmother, Mary, is 103 years old. She's the most beautiful woman I may have ever seen. And do you think she's making Botox appointments? Think not.

I want to age. I want to age gracefully, but still I want to age. And while I don't want the neighborhood children calling me "Old Miss Slip n' Slide", I want to wear my years and my experience proudly. Yep. Hold the Botox. I'll pass.

Besides, maybe I'll go the nutrition route to anti-aging. (Chuckle.) I go through a sack of carrots and a gallon of non-fat milk a week. And I bake banana muffins. Maybe that will work. To be sure, I'm baking a ton of mini muffins and mini loaves for a trip to First Monday Trade Days in Canton, Texas, on Saturday. (I'm baking them now because they are better the longer they sit, and hopefully all my friends and I will have to do is stumble through a Starbuck's Saturday morning and be on our way.) We are planning to brave the cold this weekend and wander through 3,000 vendor booths of antiques and crafts and yummy things. I couldn't be more excited. (If you can't make it, whip up some of these quick and delicious muffins, and have your own great Saturday.)


Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease muffin tin or loaf pan.

Lightly toast in saucepan:
½ c. pecans (or walnuts… whatever)
Chop. Reserve. You can skip this step if you’re short on time.

Mix together and set aside:
2 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
¾ t. salt
¼ t. baking soda

Next, in another bowl, cream until light and fluffy:
½ c. shortening
½ c. sugar

To that mixture, add:
2 eggs
Beat well.

Now in separate bowl combine:
1 c. mashed banana
2 T. milk or cream

Alternately add banana mixture and bowl of dry ingredients into shortening/egg/sugar mixture, beating just until smooth after each addition. Stir in nuts. Turn into greased loaf pan or muffin tins. Bake at 350 F. for 12-14 minutes, or until lightly brown, for muffins, or 45-50 minutes for loaf. Remove from pans and cool. Wrap and store overnight before eating. (These things really come into their own after sitting out. They aren’t nearly as good out of the oven as they will be tomorrow.)

While this recipe uses 3 bowls, it goes crazyfast (one word: crazyfast) and will beat anything you drag out of the bakery.

If you have leftover mashed banana, whirl it in the food processor with a tablespoon of uncooked oats. Smear it on your face and lie down for 5 minutes before rinsing off with warm water. While your loved ones will think you've lost it, your face will benefit from the banana facial's moisurizing effect and antioxidants. Plus, it's much cheaper than Botox.

Righty. Gotta go. Please help yourself to a muffin. I need to run this special letter through the paper shredder before I forget and my heirs find it among my personal effects....

(Don't forget: it's the last day to comment on the Happy 100th post before the yummy prize drawing tomorrow! Don't miss out!)