Friday, October 31, 2008

It's the Great Garlic, Charlie Brown

Halloween seems as good a day as any to plant garlic, wouldn't you say?

This morning Millie and I were up early and out at the garden, digging and measuring and patting plump cloves of Czech and Russian garlic into the cool soil. If I counted right and all of it makes, I should have 35 bulbs of garlic to put up next summer. That's alot of garlic bread. That's alot of Chump Chicken.

Since it's completely organic, too, I might rush some of it to the farmer's market when the time comes. It's so rewarding to pass along locally grown, organic produce. We'll see.

In the meantime, I suppose it's time to hang up my tools for winter. I'm off to Home Depot today to get some tool-cleaning oil and some straw. Then it's back home for - what else? - a skillet of Chump Chicken with Roasted Fall Vegetables and henrybella's Chocolate Fudge Bread Pudding for dessert. (There may also be a screening of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown in there somewhere, too.)

Wishing you a weekend that's cozy... and not one bit creepy. -Brin

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Soul Stirrings

Might be a quarter-life crisis. Or just a stirring in my soul. Either way, I headed home this week. Home to where I grew up. I remember being 17 - about to leave for college - and swinging my legs off that old dock and praying that time would hurry and take me somewhere. And now I've been and returned and am not sure what to do next.

I really must be going through a quarter-life crisis. But I think sometimes you have to wander through some brambles and stickers to get where you're going.

And I think at the end we'll find that obstacles weren't really obstacles at all... they were milestones. They proclaimed our progress. They witnessed our way.

I find that all my dreams are coming up short as funding runs out. Frustrating and distressing beyond words. I'm sure most of us have felt that pain. I've found it does help if you have faith. Faith and a faithful little brown dog with you on your way, to walk ahead of you and sniff things out...

Even when she doesn't want to come in at the end of the day. Even when you have to convince her to sit alongside you in your mother's livingroom, wrapped in a quilt, looking out onto a starlit, cold night.

Must be a quarter-life crisis. Just a simple stirring of my soul....

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Tuesday in Fall

Not sure about you, but fall fever has hit me. Hard. This morning Millie and I went on a leaf peeping/collecting adventure at the State Park. It froze here overnight, and I worried that the puppy might get cold on a morning hike. Please. The cold seemed to invigorate her, and she ran and nosed around as if it were the greatest day of her life. (She did not, however, belly flop into the lake as she usually does.)

We pulled up to the park entrance and the Ranger came to the Jeep. I rolled down the window. "Good morning, ma'am," he said politely, his breath hanging in clouds around his hat. He can't be much older than I am.

"Morning," I said. "How much?"

"Just you?"

"And the dog," I replied, gesturing toward the back seat. He looked in. Millie wagged her tail and licked the window.

"Two dollars," he grinned. Then he looked at me closely. "Mighty cold morning to be out."

I raised my eyebrow and nodded in agreement. He stood there as if he needed an explanation.

"Guess I just need some air," I said.

He looked at me again, studying me. Then he nodded. "Well, you'll have the park to yourself. No one's here."

And no one was. Millie and I had the entire place to ourselves. It was so serene. So, so beautiful, watching the blazing colors reflect off the water and listening to the wind rattle through the crunchy leaves. Summer has blazed into fall and already fall is pointing to winter. The mistletoe, high in the trees, reminded me that even Christmas is a handful of weeks away.

It was inspiring. I came home and began working on my fall aprons, one of which is pictured above and already listed in the Freeman House Shop on etsy.

I think tonight I'll make a pumpkin something and settle in and work on a quilt. (And maybe read. I'm devouring the classic The Ivy Tree, and so far it's my favorite book of the fall. It's shockingly good.)

Wishing you a warm, pleasant day. -Brin

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Brin's Top Five Bloggers

I'm telling you, blogs are amazing. Aren't they? The next time I come down with a monster illness of some sort I'm going to defrost a mixing bowl full of homemade chicken soup and pile up in bed and read blogs all day. Maybe I should just rush out and get a flu shot this week. Seems as though the years I get one I always get violently sick. Sicker than the years I don't.

Where was I? Oh. Blogs. Gosh they're cool. I thought today I'd talk up a few of my favorites. (And invite you to share a few favorites of your own.) Sound cool? Cool.

A few weeks ago I got an email from a lady who said she took two days off and read my blog from start to finish. (That means she read 540-something posts in 48 hours. Wow.) Goes to show you that blogs can really suck you in. I don't know about you, but there are a few bloggers who I would love to meet. Seriously, if any of these people ever invited me for coffee or paintball-ing I would never ask for anything for Christmas ever again. A few of these people, in no particular order, are:

1. Gayla Trail. Author, gardener and blogger Gayla Trail. That's her, above, with the garlic. She's a countless source of inspiration and encouragement to gardening girls like myself. Gayla's the one who taught me that tomatoes dig milk. She's the one who taught me how to recycle toilet paper holders to start squash seeds. Short of my Dad, she knows more about gardening than anyone I know. (Except maybe Neil Sperry. I used to anchor the news breaks on Sundays during his show in Dallas. Whenever I think of Santa Claus and the nicest "old" man ever, I think of Neil Sperry.) But Gayla. I could spend two days reading her blog. She's impossibly cool.

2. Alicia Paulson. I know many of you read her blog as well. Like her legions of other fans, I adore Alicia. While I may disagree with her on what makes a good lasagna... and while I couldn't see copying her beautifully eclectic style in my own home, I find myself enamored with Alicia's life and home. One day I'm going to Portland and stalking the fabric stores until I run into her.

3. Lisa Fain. The Homesick Texan. That's her picture of her Wacky Cake, above. While I sometimes get lost in the recipes of folks up north (Lobster Pot Pie, Corned Beef, Clam Stew, New England Boiled Dinner), I can always count on Lisa to set things "right". From homemade biscuits and chocolate pie to beef jerky and pico de gallo, Lisa's recipes call to mind a southern Sunday pot luck or the spread at our family reunions. Only better.

4. Donald Miller. And not just because I've read Blue Like Jazz three times or recently got upset with a Barnes and Noble employee over my $39.99 mis-ordered copy of Through Painted Deserts. No, I'm crazy about Donald Miller because his faith (and subsequent practice thereof) is real. He questions. He doubts. He walked away from his Christianity only to return - more convicted and more convinced. He's edgy. He's impassioned. He's disrespectful. (He's also campaigning for Obama and doing some light railing against conservative Christian Republicans [that's me], which shocks me and makes me cringe... but also makes me grudgingly respect him all the more.) I'm going to a meeting with Donald Miller in a few weeks, and jokingly stole a classic Tom Hanks line and told a friend that if Mr. Miller is half as attractive as a mailbox I could want to marry him. My friend rolled her eyes and said, "I've heard he's crazy. And I think he smokes. There's a picture online of him smoking." And I thought for a minute and said, "Huh-uh," and then followed that up after another minute with: "So. So what? "

5. While I'm talking about guys, here's my final blogger: Chris Weisinger, the founder of Southern Bulb Company. (Southern Living did a great piece on him here.) While at Texas A&M, Chris and a buddy did a class business model that centered around locating, propagating and marketing bulbs unique to the southern climate. It must have been a winner. Once Chris graduated he and some friends began their company (about an hour from Freeman House, no less), and now sell heirloom bulbs to gardeners across the south. Chris is passionate about his business - about preserving native southern flowering bulbs and educating gardeners - and honest in his faith (he's also a Christian). His blog is journal-like and it has videos. I like the videos...

So there you have five of my favorite bloggers. Hope you aren't bored to tears. And hey... how about a few of yours? Which blogs do you get lost in every week? I'd sure hate to miss out.... -Brin

Saturday, October 25, 2008

How Long...?

How long has it been since you awoke before sun-up on a cold fall morning and headed to a country pasture? How long has it been since you walked - with your hands shoved deep into your pockets - through a dew-wet meadow, watching your own breath billow and hang in puffs about you?

Has it been awhile since you sat on an old fallen log and watched your morning coffee brew on a campfire?

How long you reckon it's been since a real cowboy - the quiet type, with spurs and everything - poured you a cup of hot coffee? Real coffee. Black coffee. None of the half-fat, venti, whipped, mocha business. Just an honest cup of coffee. No menu board. No lines. Just you, a cowboy, a styrofoam cup and a coffee pot. How long's that been?

Think back. When's the last time you sat on a bench made of a tree stump and listened to someone play the guitar as the sun came up and warmed your backs?

And if you had to, when's the last time you'd say you had a steaming bowl of real Texas Beef Stew? Not something from a can. Not something from a restaurant. I'm talking about cast iron seared beef stew that's simmered for hours over an open flame. I'm talking stew manned by a boot-wearing fella who quarters onions and dices carrots with the same knife his Daddy probably used 50 years ago...

I knew it. That's too long.

You should come on down to Texas. I think you could probably use the open air and some real coffee and guitar-strumming at sunrise and a bowl of chuckwagon beef stew. I can't imagine who wouldn't. (Unless you're one of those city slicker types with ragweed allergies, caffeine issues, an iPod and an "I'm a Vegan... Are You?" shirts. If that's you, please consider staying home. You'd hate it here. And, as impossibly friendly as we genuine Texans are, we do tend to be suspicious of folks who can't handle their red meat.)

No offense to anyone. Just sayin'.

The day was such a success. It had been too long since I'd done all that. And the henrybella's table (seen above about half-way through the morning), sold out as it does every year. I actually forgot my camera today, but remembered to snap a few pictures with my Blackberry. How long has it been since I neglected to take my camera with me to an event like this one? Forever.

It's also been forever since I settled into the couch with a little company and had a movie night. Excuse me while I go wash a few dishes and prepare to settle in for a quiet Texas night at home.

Happy weekend. -Brin

(PS. The cooking today was done by a guy named Garland Hays. He owns Big G's Chuckwagon & Dutch Oven Catering Company (903-335-3028), and he's the one pouring the coffee and stirring the stew (but not playing the guitar) in the above pictures. I highly recommend him and his beef stew.)

Friday, October 24, 2008

henrybella's Visits Holly Hill

I meant to say but then forgot. I meant to tell everyone local to Freeman House that I'll be at Holly Hill Homestead's Christmas in October on Saturday with a cart full of henrybella's goodies. (Pumpkin Pecan Bread, Brown Sugar Oatmeal Cookies, Organic Oat and Molasses Brittle Bars, Southern Banana Bread, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, Double Chocolate Brownies, Cheddar-Chive Cornbread Sticks and Sour Cream Apple Pies will be there, too.) If you're in the area, please stop by and say hello!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Slips, Laughs, Rallies

October is fading beautifully. The color is draining from leaves and leaves are slipping from trees. The air is crisp and clean. I wore a jacket and scarf all day today. October's here and it all feels right.

Someone tried to hack into my blog this evening. I got an email from Blogger warning me about the attempt. Really? Who would hack into my blog? What did they want to say? I laughed out loud. Millie opened her sleepy eyes and blinked at me, then fell back into her snoring dog slumber. To me a hacking attempt is mildly amusing. Who is this hacker? What was he itching to say? I laugh, then wonder. I'll wonder all night, I know I will.

In the meantime, here's something I am itching to say. It's about yesterday's post. No, I don't really believe God forgets us. Not for a second. Not that He isn't capable of anything He desires, but God seemed intent on making sure we knew that He's a conscientious, ever-aware kind of guy. Take Psalm 121 - a chapter I memorized in third grade - for example: it says that God "neither slumbers nor sleeps". As in, He's awake. He's here. He's mindful of that which concerns us. Nothing gets by Him or slips His mind.

Some days, though, I feel as though it has. I feel as though my life and my prayers are on God's back, back, farthest-back burner. That my circumstance(s) have slipped His mind or gotten beyond His control. But they haven't. They won't. Sometimes I just look at the cards on the table and convince myself that the game is over. I think we all have days like that. Days when we wonder exactly what is going on up there. Yesterday was just an expression of one of those times... a day when Faith slips - and laughs, and rallies/ Blushes, if any see...

Slips, laughs, rallies. Sounds like my week to me.

Wishing you all a beautiful fall Friday and weekend. -Brin

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Until He Remembers...

Dear You: I thought of you all day today. Every heavy minute in this never-ending day.

I woke up in a different bed this morning... a bed in a cloudy city. It took all of two minutes for me to remember what today was. I rolled over and cried. Although I wanted to stay there all day, I didn't. I got up and showered and drank coffee and filled my car with personal belongings that I hadn't seen in... months... and drove to my happy place. It was all I could think to do.

It helped, some. I hurried past displays - clothes and towels and bedding and things becoming a blur of colors and light as I rushed through, not really seeing anything....

...except maybe the Christmas ornaments. You know how fond I am of Christmas. I did like those.


I read the story of Hannah this week. Fitting, I thought, since this has been a year of torment regarding a child... the impudent gift of one and the stifling absence of another. I read Hannah's story and came upon verse 19: "... and the Lord remembered her" and stopped. Remembered her?, I yelled. You REMEMBERED her?!?!

But surely He never forgot. Surely we don't place all our eggs into the basket of a God who forgets. Unthinkable.


I'm back home now. I'll be alright. (Not that you've worried. Not that you've given half a crap.) But I think of you. I think of you every day and pray for you every night. I ask the God who doesn't forget... or, at the least, doesn't fail to remember... to keep you close and watch over you all. And when, as they inevitably do, my prayers turn inward, I ask God to redeem a hopeless heart that's twice been left behind. A girl who knows now to rely on nothing save the encompassing love of the One who loves her and gave Himself for her.


Forgive me. I know sometimes my emotion is too raw, too irreverent, too outside-the-box and too... real... for comfort. I wish it were different. Most days I wish I was different. But here I am and here I'll be... not in the cloudy city, but home. Where I belong. I'll be here and you'll be there and it's the way things will be until... until...

...until He remembers.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Results Show

It went well, the Spook House did. Shockingly well. People came, screamed and ran out the kitchen door before congregating in front of the house, exclaiming "Oh my gosh! When that guy jumped out with that saw!..." and, "That dead girl on the couch grabbed my ankle!" It was priceless.

I decorated sparingly in the rooms of the house that were used on the tour. Using a lot of spider webs, black lights and other assorted props, I tried to make the house look as if we had just wandered in a boarded-up, abandoned old place. Worked like a creepy charm. I set pictures askew and threw sheets over furniture. But the best "props" were the 13 people dressed in assorted costumes. If the house was the stage, these folks were definitely the stars. They lurked in dark corners and hid behind furniture, along halls and in overhead spaces. In the second room of the tour, they formed a tunnel through which everyone had to walk. Some stood, staring at you from behind blood and black eyes. Others moaned or screamed or hissed. Others brushed their fingers, ever so slightly, against your arm or hair as you (tried to) hurry past.

They were delightfully scary here, I thought, as they waited for me to come upon them in the dark, gloomy house.

All told, over 125 people came through last night and heard Romans 6:23, got a tract, and got their wits scared out of them. It cost me some money and time I didn't think I had, but it was worth it. One lady told me, "I'll never think of that - the wages of sin is death - the same way again." Good. Glad it made you think.

So, now that this is over, we now return to our regularly-scheduled lovely fall blog. Thanks for hanging in as we went creepy for a week. But isn't that one reason you all continue to show up: you never know what I'll be doing next?

Gotta go take down all those darn spider webs now. [Grin]

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Haunted Haunt

All houses are haunted. All persons are haunted.
Throngs of spirits follow us everywhere.
We are never alone.
-Barney Sarecky

Yikes. But I believe that. I believe that we are people who live out our lives in the midst of a spiritual realm. Not to sound crazy or anything, but I believe in angels. I believe in demons. I believe in things I can't see, hear or touch. And I believe that, regardless of our faith or eternal destination, these beings... these spirits, whatever... interact with us far more than we realize. I don't believe my house - or my person - is haunted, but I do believe that I'm not always alone here. It doesn't scare me, though. I know Whose side I'm on. I know Who wins in the end.

So the scary house night is tomorrow. And seriously? I was worried that this place wouldn't be scary enough? Decorating has yet to begin, really, and I'm already satisfied folks will get their $3 worth of fright. Today I threw a black cape over a dress form in one of the rooms that has yet to see renovation and then, an hour later, caught it out of the corner of my eye. Think I jumped three feet. Scared me to death. And I know it's there. And it's not even dark yet.

This is the library. A view into it, anyway. The library will feature my red velvet couch, black lights, candles, and a "dead" girl. Rumor is (although there's no truth in it whatsoever), is that a young girl fell from one of the second story windows of Freeman House and, well, died. It's not true, but it's a plausible story - especially when you note how low-to-the-ground the windows sit. Anyhow, my tiny high school friend Emily is going to be the "dead" girl, only when people pass by her wake in the library, she'll suddenly sit up to reveal a half-bloody face while hissing "the wagesss of ssssin is deathhhhh...".

Yeesh. It helps that there are bloody hand prints on the window outside where the little girl supposedly (but never did, I assure you) fell. You can't tell here, but they're red and look very realistic.

(By the way, the same girl, the first of many people to tell tour-goers that "the wages of sin is death", will later open a door, clean, white-robed, and carrying a glowing candle, to lead people out of a dark, stifling room, proclaiming all the while that "the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" - Romans 6:23. Some of us Christians have a bizarre take on these things, I'll give you that.)

So. There will be a total of five rooms and a long hall that make up the tour tomorrow. Each will be creepy and unexpected in its own right.

There are so many costumes. I got home from work today and laid them out, trying to make sure I've put the right people in the right ones. And then it dawned on me: I don't have a costume. I picked up the mirror and looked at myself.

Maybe I'll just be me - the quiet-hearted, ruffled-shirt-wearing girl who haunts Freeman House already. I think I'll just white out my face and wear 1880s-type clothing and stare at the kids with my big, dark eyes and shakily whisper that I live here and, would they like to stay here with me, too?

That would do it. That would be creepy enough.

Maybe now's not the time to mention that I've applied to be a foster parent to a little girl. Good thing I'm getting all this spooky stuff out of the way tomorrow, huh? Wish us luck.... -Brin

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Spook House

Ah, Freeman House. The local spook place... the neighborhood haunt. Kids for miles around are scared of her. Adults for miles around are wary of her. So much history... so much mystery... tied up in this old place. What is it with this house? people ask. It really leaves an impression, doesn't it?

It does. The impressions are different, but it certainly does.

This week has been insanely busy. (Think I slept two hours last night.) And kids from miles around will be coming to Freeman House this weekend for a good old-fashioned scare and a simultaneous lesson in Romans 6:23. Should be fun. I've worried for weeks... worried that it won't be scary enough... worried that it will be too scary. Worried that people won't come and worried that crowds will come. Today I finally decided to relax and enjoy it. Not everyone, after all, has such a fun opportunity to welcome so many kids into a cool, safe environment. Not to mention the 23 folks that are scheduled to help....

So I'm covered up in black lights and glow-in-the-dark paint and gray wigs and robed costumes and praying that I make it through the weekend. Surely we'll make it through the weekend.

If not, you know where to find me. I'm in the spooky house on Jefferson Street. Just follow the signs. Or better yet, ask someone. They all know. -Brin

Monday, October 13, 2008

Lady Kathryn Callaway and the Christmas Glogg

Two years ago I was introduced to Kathryn Callaway. Lady Kathryn, as she's come to be known, is an older woman who grew up and later retired near here... in a Civil War era homestead that came to be known as Holly Hill. Kathryn is outspoken and formiddable and knows everything. Just ask her. (Last time I saw her, she reminded me to start smearing Crisco on my face and hands before I go to bed so I won't get "old and dried out before it's time".) Yep. I thought of Kathryn today because I was watching the movie Mrs. Dalloway and one of Virginia Woolf's characters reminded me of her.

Kathryn Callaway is quite a woman. A force, is what I'd call her. Last year when a friend and I went to visit, Kathryn ushered us into her sitting room and poured us crystal glasses of the prettiest drink I'd ever tasted. "Christmas Glogg," she said, looking me over without blinking.

I thought it was wonderful.

She sold us the recipe... for $25 each. (Isn't that right, Grace?) It bewildered me then but tickles me now. The recipe, and a jumble of other things, was photocopied with other pages and tied together with string. I adore it.

It took me a minute, but I found the pages this morning. And low and behold, according to Kathryn, it's time to make Christmas Glogg. Her directions clearly state to make "several weeks before the Holidays, or as soon as cranberries are in season." Down the page she adds, "Make a large jar at least 6 weeks before Christmas". Luckily for me, I had a bag of frozen cranberries in the freezer and a lonely bottle of gin in a dusty box. Christmas in October, here we come. Here's Kathryn's recipe, as written, only please don't tell her I shared it with you for free; she'll probably sue me or slather me in Crisco or something.

Christmas Glogg

"Chop two pounds of cranberries. Put into a pretty jar and add 1 pt. of Dry Gin [Brin's note: I assume she abbreviates "pt" to mean "part", not "pint". Regardless, add equal parts of gin and water], 1 pt. water and 6 cups sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves. Place jar in pretty location and leave to "ripen" for at least 4 to 6 weeks, stirring every few days. When ready to serve, strain out berries. Do not throw berries away; use as topping for ice cream or pound cakes. This is good, good and oh so festive."

Don't know why I felt so compelled to stir this up today, but now it's done. I guess it will be ready in time for the Freeman House Christmas Tour on December 12th and 13th.

But more on that later. For now I have to find a "pretty place" to put my jar....

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sick Millie

No matter how little money
and how few possessions you own,
having a dog makes you rich.
-Louis Sabin

Not financially rich, mind you. {cough}

This old picture, taken in a hotel in Colorado back in June, kills me. Millie's standing proudly over her carnage - that day a 3-pack of paper towels, the sash to my bath robe, and a few of her toys. I remember coming in and starting to scold her but then lying on the floor and laughing so hard that she hurried over and frantically licked my face.

I came home last night from church and knew something was wrong with Millie. By all evidence, she hadn't moved from her bed in 9 hours. She wasn't eating. She wouldn't drink. I hauled her outside where she took care of business and then sat where she was. I had to carry her - 44.2 pounds of chocolate lab! - back inside.

Our little town doesn't have an emergency vet, so we were at the animal hospital this morning. To say that I was worried was an understatement. The last time I was there with a sick animal was the day Maebelline died. (That was just over a year ago, but I still miss her.) I slammed the vet with questions as he confirmed Millie had fever. Is it a snake bite? I asked. No, no sign of that, came the reply. Will she be okay? Don't let her die, I pleaded. I'll pay double.

She has staff infection. Poor little brown dog. The vet injected Millie with $200 worth of antibiotics (which hurt me worse than her, I think!), and sent us home. She's slept almost every minute since. But she's going to be fine.

So I've hurried around the house today throwing everything Millie could have possibly touched into the washer. I'm keeping a close eye on her as I prepare for tomorrow night's dinner and Saturday night's high school girl sleepover at Freeman House. Should all be fun, sick dog withstanding.

Ooop. She's getting up. Is she headed for her water bowl? Good. Very good. (Sigh.)

(*Monday Update* Millie is doing much better and seems to be more comfortable. We send our thanks for the concern and love sent our way...)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Crisp morning. Cool wind. Soft sunshine. The last pink trumpet blooms clinging to their vine outside the old barn. I live for mornings like this one.

I could never properly thank you all for the encouraging comments, kind emails, and generous donations that have blown in since last night. It makes me feel... well, it makes me feel as if I'm not so alone in this big undertaking. As if there is, really, a community of us here. A camaraderie of hundreds and hundreds that share the same hopes and see the same dreams. It's as if we walk together. Like Peter Abrahams said: "You can't walk alone. Many have given the illusion, but none have really walked alone. Man is not made that way."

I'm glad God didn't make us that way, and I'm glad you are here. This place - with all its pink blossom goodness - still wouldn't be the same without you, and I'd probably have given up by now were it not for you....

So thanks. I guess that's all I wanted to say today. Thanks. -Brin

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Roof Raising

Of course I would apply for a home loan the week the economy tanked. The roof loan? Stamped "DENIED". Who knows for how long. I bank locally at a small community credit union. Guess they're, understandably, hesitant to throw around cash. Especially in a credit crisis. Especially in a recession. Especially to an under-employed, needs-to-go-to-the-hairdresser girl with an old, crooked house.

It makes sense, of course, but I'm more than a little disappointed. I've been praying for days... for the past several days... for God to come through in a BIG way. Not that I deserve it. Not that I have it coming. Not that there aren't more pressing needs or more important prayers or more worthy recipients. It just seems like there have been a lot of tough breaks and hard knocks and bitter disappointments the past two years. I suppose I'm just asking because I have no where else to turn and I have no one else to depend on. So I read Ephesians 3:20 and pray to "Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine", and I wait. I ask, then I wait expectantly for Him to answer. And please, Lord, answer big. You're a big God.

What do you suppose our prayers are to God, anyway? I'm thinking they're easy. I'm thinking we don't give Him enough credit for being mighty. I'm thinking if He could say "Let there be light", and light instantly came shooting out of His mouth traveling 186,282.397 miles per second, He can manage even our most difficult requests. Don't you? The impossible to us is more than possible to Him.

Yep, I'm setting my sights and hanging my hopes on a roof raising. And even immeasurably more than that. God's big. He can take it. And I'm betting He can hand our biggest prayers - stamped "HEARD AND GRANTED" - right over....

Monday, October 6, 2008

Home in Old October

All things on earth point home in old October....
- Thomas Wolfe

I grew up raking leaves under this tree. The far-reaching beauty stands solidly behind my parent's house between the end of the dusty drive and, farther down, a creek. Over the weekend I visited it again. In a way it seemed as if I'd never left.

For me, today is one of those days when you have so much to say that you have nothing to say. You know, one of those days when someone will stare at you, eyes narrowed, and ask, What's on your mind? and you sigh and say, Nothing, because really, everything is on your mind, and you just don't have the time or energy to make the words to put it all out there. That's what today is.

I've been looking forward to being home all day today. If you ask me, October is for staying home. Tonight I'm going to make Cheesy Potato Soup (with crumbly bacon and chives from the garden) followed by Pumpkin Pecan bread (recipe will follow, I'm sure). Then I plan to order a cozy rug for the library while watching my new boxed set of Pushing Daisies.

Yes. Good. We'll leave it all at that. It's October and I am home and nothing's on my mind.

Happy Monday. -Brin

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Block Party

It's October. Already. Time, I suppose, for me to get going on Christmas gifts. Hard to believe, but considering the ever-growing circle of family and friends that surrounds me, I'll find myself in a pinch if I don't start now.

So this week I dragged out some knitting needles and a ball of puffy, soft blue yarn and went to work. It's a simple, simple knit... rib stitch, no tassels, no frills. I finished it in two evenings and tossed it on the back of the couch to block later.

Blocking is a technique often used by knitters to reshape or resize a project. It generally involves using water or steam to coax a piece into the look you want. I've heard time and time again not to block ribbing or cables because it can flatten and ruin them. Oh well. I do it anyway. Always seems to work out okay for me.

This week has been busy, as usual, and a family issue has made it stressful. After relaxing and watching the debate tonight, I'm leaving Freeman House tomorrow and expect to be gone several days. Sure did want to get to those Sugar Shoes, but maybe next week. They're worth the wait.

So there you have it from here. From the quiet little block party. Hope you have a wonderful Friday and weekend. -Brin

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Fall Fruit Crisp

The weather turned cooler last night. It was in the air as I pulled into the drive... that crisper, lighter wind that makes you think of fall. Millie and I took full advantage, walking around the property and digging in the garden. After watering the broccoli, garlic and 'Crispy Winter Salad' Greens, we went in. "How about I make a fruit crisp?" I asked Millie, handing her a dog treat from the pantry and reaching back in for brown sugar and cinnamon.

She wagged her tail. I began cutting apples.

I used to think desserts without chocolate were a waste of calories. I'm slowly coming around. There's something about fall apples that seem right, somehow, and perfectly comforting. So here's my recipe for a Fall Fruit Crisp, although you must note that it is a low-fat recipe. No really, it is. I'm willing to spend a few calories on non-chocolate desserts, but not many.

Fall Fruit Crisp

4 apples (I used Gala and Granny Smith), cut into 1-inch cubes
3 pears (Bosc or Bartlett), cut into 1-inch cubes
4 T. dark brown sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1 T. lemon juice

Rinse, core and chop fruit, removing peel if desired. Transfer to bowl and sprinkle lemon juice over fruit, tossing to coat. (Prevents browning, you know.) Stir in brown sugar and cinnamon. Add to lightly sprayed baking dish. (I made individual crisps last night in oven-safe bowls, but a 9” x 13” baking dish is ideal for a crowd.)

In another bowl, combine:

1 egg, beaten
6 T. dark brown sugar
1 t. cinnamon
¼ t. ground nutmeg (fresh is best!)
¼ t. salt

Then add:

1 cup rolled oats

Topping will be slightly goopey. Spoon it over fruit and dot with butter (or butter substitute, if you must). Bake at 375 F for about 45 minutes or until topping is brown, fruit is bubbling and the house smells heavenly.

Cool for one hour before serving to allow fruit juices to absorb. Great with whipped cream or ice cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

I took my steaming bowl of cinnamon apple goodness to my quilt-covered bed last night and ate it as I catched up on Netflix movies. It was the perfect way to see off September and welcome October.

Speaking of, happy October everyone. Hope your month is full of delightful, cozy things. -Brin