Sunday, November 30, 2008

Quiet, Golden Day

After arriving home from Thanksgiving, all I wanted was to shut myself inside my golden room and be still and be warm and breathe. Just breathe. No phones. No computer. No visitors. No one anywhere demanding anything. I had already promised myself the ultimate luxury: one day... an entire day... to do nothing. Nothing except what I wanted.

So I did. I twisted the worn, aged doorknob in my bedroom until it caught the door tight. And I looked around the room and let out the breath I didn't even know I was holding inside.

I passed by the mantle, all weathered and peeling and old. So old. I breezed by it to the windows, where I gathered the curtains in my fists and fastened them back.

And as the light poured in, I sat close - with a steaming mug - and listened to the wind and breathed. And sipped. I sat and breathed and sipped.

When the mug was empty and my feet got cold, I climbed into my curved, chipped bed and I started to knit. Something for me.

Not something to sell or something to donate or something to give away. A cabled hot water bottle cover just for me. I never do that. I never make things just for me.

As I knitted, I found myself so happy and so contented and so comforted and so comfortable I cried. I just let it all out: all the exhaustion and worry and excitement and weight. It was wonderful. I had the whole day. In my golden room. A whole day with the worn doorknob and heavy fireplace and gathered curtains and steaming cocoa and curved bed and knitting and setting myself right again. I felt like royalty.

Holiday aprons hit the shop Friday. The shoe drive kicked off today. The bakery website goes live tomorrow. And as soon as these holidays are over, I've promised myself another quiet, golden day.

I can't wait. Hurry January.

(I heard you, Faith. The hot water bottle cover is a Sarah Dallas pattern and is in this fantastic book of knit patterns. For all fellow knitters without this book, do yourself a favor and buy one for Christmas. It's fabulous.)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Prayer

Dear Lord; we beg but one boon more:
Peace in the hearts of all men living,
peace in the whole world this Thanksgiving.
-Joseph Auslander

A girl can hope.

Happy, happy Thanksgiving. -Brin

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Saving the Drama (Or, 4th Graders, Dog Snatchers, and Mike Huckabee)

Sunday morning. Sunday school. My third, fourth and fifth grade girls are talking about the birthday party they attended the previous evening:

She does not like him!

Yuh-huh! Does to! She likes him but he never liked her. She likes Matthew but he likes...


At the back of the class, a self-proclaimed "mature" fourth grader stands to her feet. "Y'all," she pleads. No one listens. "Y'all!!" she exclaims, louder. No one pays attention. "Y'ALLLLLL! YAAAAH-LLLLLLL" she yells, silencing the class. Everyone turns to look at her.

"Save the drama for Obama," she says, and sits down.


This morning. Early. Millie and I are in the front playing fetch. I go around the side of the house to get another tennis ball. (Millie nearly choked on a stick last week, so now I'm super paranoid.) I come around the corner to see no sign of Millie, and a four-door car with two suspicious-looking guys speeding away. No Millie. I look everywhere. I scream until my throat hurts. I run down my street, up another street, yelling. No Millie.

Five minutes later I'm at the police station. "Chief, somebody took my dog," I blubber. Officers come out from behind their desks. Two patrol officers get a description of the car. The man officer looks at the woman officer and something passes between them. She nods and leaves. Tracy, the man officer, says, "I think we may be able to get Millie back. We'll try."

"When you find them, could you please just shoot them?" I ask. He looks at me.

"Okay, then could I borrow your gun and shoot them myself?" I add, hopefully.

"Go home," he says. "We'll call you."


I didn't. I drove around with the window down, yelling. I passed Mrs. Carpenter, who, upon hearing of the situation, told me that's what I get for not keeping Millie inside. I told her if she ever sprays Round-Up on my blackberries again, I'll spray Round-Up on Prissy, her dog. I'm upset. I drive off. Great. Now I've threatened two people in half an hour. I explain to God that I'm terribly upset and promise not to shoot anyone or spray poison on any mean Old Lady Carpenter's dog if only I could get Millie back.


About thirty minutes later Millie is found. Unharmed. Alongside an apartment building two streets over. She acts as if nothing has happened and seems annoyed at my greeting. The police are thanked. As they drive off, I start pulling Millie in the direction of Freeman House. She doesn't want to go. "Come on, Millie," I say. Then, "Save your drama for Obama."


This day already feels four days long, but I leave within the hour to go meet Mike Huckabee. I adore Mike Huckabee. He seems like the kind of guy you could tell all your lame little stories to - like how the girls in your Sunday School class say the most hilarious things and how your dog gets snatched and the police department goes on alert. He seems like the sort of guy who would nod and laugh. That's one of the things I like about him. Anyway, I have to leave early for this thing because Millie is staying with my sister since I refuse to leave the little dog anywhere unattended today.

We can't have any more drama. We are, after all, apparently saving it for someone else....

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Note...

Actually, I do have a note from henrybella's. It's to any web designer or html coding expert person who may happen to be reading: help! That's the note. I need your help. Please.

Turns out, I'm much better with fresh eggs and organic flour than I'll ever be with a keyboard and webpage. I'm finished with my modest little introductory website for It's the online shopping bit that has me on the roof. Every time I test it and add, say, four different dozen cookies to the "cart", it charges shipping. Separately. For each item. So instead of charging my flat shipping rate, it's quadrupling it. Not cool.

I've lost a lot of hair and sanity over it this weekend. So I'm pulling over to ask for directions. I'm lost here. If any online business designer person would be willing to help me fix this, I foresee lots of payment and holiday baked goods and apron toolbelts and calendars in your future. Please email me at brin{at}freemanhouse{dot}org. I would be eternally grateful.

Thanks. Big fat double chocolate thanks! -Brin

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cranberry Jalapeno Jam (Or, What To Do in a Cold Kitchen)

The house was still and bitterly cold Saturday. I made Cranberry Jalapeno Jam. It seemed the only thing to warm up the kitchen. It seemed the only thing to get me in the Thanksgiving spirit. It turned out to be just the thing.


1 ½ cups water
7 cups fresh cranberries
2 cups sugar
1 jalapeno, finely diced
1 t. fennel seeds (optional)

Add water to heavy-bottomed pot. Bring to boil and add cranberries, sugar and jalapeno. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until cranberry skins burst and mixture thickens. Ladle into sterilized jars (whichever size you prefer). Run skewer or wooden spoon handle up sides of filled jars to release air. Wipe clean and seal. Process in water bath for 10 minutes. (If you don't want to process, or if jars don't seal properly, store in airtight container in refrigerator and eat within 2 weeks.)

Cool upside down, then invert and check for good seal. Jam keeps about a year in cool, dry place.

Here's why I love this jam: it's ridiculously simple. It's beautiful. And if you can handle the jalapeno, it goes on everything. Eat it with Thanksgiving dinner. Serve it up on turkey sandwiches. It's great over cream cheese with crackers for simple party food. It sings on bagels, toast and English muffins. And alongside roast beef, pork loin, chicken or lamb? Forget about it.

Can you believe Thanksgiving is this week?

Me neither. Me neither.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Waste Not, Want Not: Thrifty Nifty Napkins

Waste is worse than loss.
The scope of thrift is limitless.
-Thomas A. Edison

I ran out of napkins, paper towels and Kleenex the same day. It always happens that way, doesn't it? Later that evening, in our little local store's toiletry asile, my eyes bugged out of my head. Who pays $4 for a box of Kleenex? I wondered. Oh yeah. Me. I did. When I made $125,000 a year, I did.

But no more. Oh no. These are the days of layoffs and wipe-outs. These are the days of bail-outs and sell-offs. These are not the days of $4 Kleenex. I got so alarmed that a pack of paper towels, a sack of napkins and a box of Kleenex was going to run me almost $15 that I backed out of the aisle altogether. (I bought a Hershey's with almonds instead. The trip wasn't a total loss.)

Back home, I began rummaging through my bins of scrap material. I came upon my used-clothes stash. Oh yeah! I forgot about these pajama pants, I thought, as I pulled the baby-blue cowgirl print from the middle of the stack. They used to be some of my favorite pajamas before the spaghetti strings frayed on the top and the rear got stretched-out on the pants.

So you can guess what I did. I slit the pant legs up the side and undid the elastic and cut four pieces - each 13 inches square. Then I ironed them flat. Starting at the bottom right corner, I folded the bottom side up 1/2 inch and ironed it flat. I repeated this 'fold and iron' step all the way around the square. Now it measured 12 1/2 inches. So I turned the sides in again, 1/2 inch around, and ironed all the way around again. There. After I stitched the hem down - two with the sewing machine and two by hand, I had four perfect square feet of pajamas -turned - reusable Kleenex. And I still had fabric left over. Take that, expensive napkins and tissue!

I've only used them for a few days now, but I really love them. Toss in the wash and reuse. And reuse. And use again. My once-favorite pj's have a new life. It's strangely gratifying.

What's that old mantra my Grandma used to have? Oh. Of course: Use it up, Wear it out, Make it Do, or Do Without. I think Grandma Elizabeth would be proud.

So don't be surprised, family and friends, if you find a few handmade hankies tied in ribbon tucked in your stocking this year. I promise you'll love them, and I further promise they won't be made out of my old pajamas. (In case you were already worried.)

And if... by chance... anyone else is hung up over the $4 Kleenex thing, too, here's a great tutorial on how to make these.

Stay warm this weekend! -Brin

(By the way, I later broke down and cut up the top of that pajama set, too. And I cut up the pants below the knee. I got five more hankies of various sizes for a total of nine reusable hankies. Wow! The rest of the fabric went into my Postage Stamp Quilt basket so nothing went to waste. )

Friday, November 21, 2008

Burning Both Ends

My candle burns at both ends;
and oh, my friends - it gives a lovely light!
-Edna St. Vincent Millay

No, this isn't me. But I had to show you this French room from the Cherry Blossom Girl. I'm stunned. It's the look I'm going for in my study here at Freeman House. I came across it this morning at 3 AM, just settled in from a night with The 5 Browns.

My candle is truly burning at both ends. But wow, is it ever giving a lovely light! Three birthday parties this week. The concert. A Sunday School get-together for my 3-5th grade girls tomorrow. Two classes to teach. Movie and dinner tonight with my high school girls' discipleship team. A food drive wrapping up tomorrow and a Shoes for Orphan Souls campaign starting Sunday. Plus the bakery launch, unpacking the kitchen, Etsy orders, and a dog who is extra-clingy and tried to choke on a piece of stick yesterday.

I came in the door from the concert last night with Chopin still in my head. I dreamily... wearily... slathered peanut butter and honey between two pieces of bread and got in bed with my shoes on. I was going to reply to some text messages but my Blackberry was almost dead and sometime between taking my left boot off and finding my cell phone charger I must have fallen asleep. I awoke around 3 AM with half the sandwich under my face and the other half smeared down my coat (where apparently it was then mauled by the dog). My right shoe was still on, as was my coat, and my Blackberry voice-dialing feature was demanding, "SAY A COMMAND.... SAY A COMMAND.... SAY A COMMAND....".

Shut up, I mumbled, peeling the sandwich off my face. There's your command.


Ah, but it is a beautiful light. [laugh]

Just popping in to say hello and show you my study inspiration room. I just had to. I even have the red couch and everything. Not sure whether that's cool or scary, but there you go.

On to box up food to take to the Food Bank to be distributed for Thanksgiving. Wishing you the best of days today... -Brin

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Day I Turned In My 'Super Girl' Badge

It should have been one of those happy days. You know, those days when I drink coffee and watch red birds flutter around the feeder. When I walk the dog through swirls and gusts of leaves. When I drink hot coffee and pull warm cookies from the oven and rise to all occasions and prove once again how brilliant of a cookie-baker I have become.

It isn't. I've put myself on unpaid administrative leave. I've turned in my 'Super Girl' badge.

See, I'm supposed to be getting my bakery online this week. Which means I have to finalize the shipping menu (which differs from the local one). I have to photograph all the goodies. I have to upload pictures and write descriptions and contemplate policies and payment methods and delivery options. I have to order print materials. I have to call about bakery box shipments and ... how about that toll free number?... and... where in the world are those brochures? I used to think I was cool. And efficient. Coolly efficient. I used to think I was a Super Girl. Now I'm convinced: I'm not. Here. Here's my SG badge to prove it. You keep it.

It has been building to this all week. And it's only Tuesday. Last night, after 5 straight hours of sitting in the same exact position working on the same exact web page, I decided to publish the site and check it out. Just to see. After another frustrating hour I realized my domain name isn't held by the same company who publishes the website, which means I had to apply for something called a DSN transfer. Which means I needed verification faxes, security number emails and three authorization codes from both companies. I was on hold forever with people who officed out of underground tunnels and spoke Ethiopian. Or something. Who knows.

To be helpful, the website company representative finally sent me an email with a picture diagram of what I needed to do to instigate the retarded DSN transfer. That's it, at the top. "Afder dees ees done," the domain lady wheezed into the phone, "Eet weel dake EIGHD days do de dransfer."

Eight days? I felt all the blood drain to my toes. My toes felt very hot. "No. It can't be eight days. I could be dead in eight days. You have to do this now. Eight days is too late. Why does it take eight days? God created the world in six days and it takes y'all eight to transfer one little DSN?"


"Okay. Okay. I'm sorry. I'll get more codes. I'll get all the codes for everything in the entire world. I'll send more faxes. I'll ask God to send you a fax. I'll verify more emails. I'll sing. I'll sing authorization codes in an email. Anything. It just can't be eight days. "

[Pause] "Eem afraid ee don't undersdand."

Oh well. It's okay. It's all okay. I'll download and edit all the photography for the website. Cool. Only... Huh? Why is...? Where are the nearly 300 pictures I took of...? Please tell me they're still on here. Please tell me changing the battery pack didn't erase....

At this point, I said bad words. I'm not proud. I'm not saying it's acceptable behavior. I'm just saying. It's another reason why I turned in my Super Girl badge.

For all those lovely people out there who email me about advice on opening a bakery or starting your own business or publishing your own websites, blogs and stores... sorry. You came to the wrong girl. I think you might have been looking for a Super Girl, and as it happens, I turned in my badge yesterday.

So it does look like I'll be out most of the week. Not eight days, but a little while. I have two or three (thousand) things to see to. I'm already laughing now, but I know one day I'll look back on this week and groan and say, "Wow! But was it ever worth it!" I believe that. They say starting a business is like giving birth... the labor is a distant memory once you're holding your baby in your hands. So here's to my labor and delivery. And maybe one day, when this week is but a distant memory, I can reapply for that badge... [Grin]

(Seriously, I hope to have henrybella's online Thanksgiving weekend. It's a dream at least four years in the making! Thanks to all my family and friends who are giving their time, ideas and muscle to help build and grow this little venture. I love you more than words can spell. The first cookies are for you...)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I Believe...

I believe hot chocolate should come with whipped cream. And sprinkles. I believe jeans go with everything. I believe baths were made for bubbles, horses were made for girls and spoons were made for licking. I believe Christmas is magical.

I believe in love. I believe God is love. I believe God loves you and God loves me and God loves puppies, too.

I believe in line-dried sheets and fireplaces and wooden floors and candles that flicker. I believe in Grandmas and chicken 'n dumplings and old hymns.

And I am fairly certain that given a nice cape and a few cookies, I can change the world.

I'm out for a few days getting henrybellas on line. And developing a recipe for our new Caramel Compassion Cookie, a little sweet that will raise money for children in AIDS impacted regions of east Africa. I'll see you soon. -Brin

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Kitchen Duty

There's a lot of work going on in the kitchen. On Friday a wall that used to enclose the old brick chimney was disassembled. Over a hundred years of dust and dirt swirled around us as cedar walls fell to pine floors, and for a few days it seemed that no amount of sweeping would ever get rid of the dust.

But it did. I cleaned and cleaned and made a pie and suddenly everything felt a bit brighter.

There's even a cabinet standing in for the pantry now until another can be built. It stands tall beside the 1890s chimney that used to help heat both the kitchen and the dining room. The tower of bricks leans to the left and its mortar is crumbling. I think it's charming. Especially the top, which you can't see in the picture here.

I have to leave the kitchen tomorrow for a conference, having sewn and ironed up another batch of Apron Toolbelts for the Freeman House Shop....

Wishing you a cozy Friday and weekend. -Brin
(Update: Aprons are gone as of Thursday night. Thank you! More to come...)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Chocolate and Clementines

Last night I heard about a study relating to children and excessive giving. It concluded that we are guilty of heaping far too many new things upon our children and, as a result, instead of appreciating and enjoying what they've just been handed, the little guys are busy anticipating the next new thing. A cell phone? That's cool. But I really want an iPod. An iPod? That's cool. But what I really wanted was a 4-player Wii Video Game System....

I laughed and thought about how true that rings. Growing up, my brothers and sisters and I got new things at birthdays and Christmas. That's about it. My birthday falls in April, so I had plenty of time to wear out my dolls and games by the time Santa came to town. And I valued those presents! I still have many of the dolls and books and games I got as a child. They meant so much to me. Presents seemed to mean more then. Or is it just me?

If losing your job (and finding yourself either over or under qualified for lots of new employment opportunities) has crashed down anything upon my psyche, it's this: the value of things. I've found, in the past few weeks, just how many excessive things I've been financing. How many things were automatically deducted out of my account that I barely noticed and hardly needed. I've realized how many books and hobby stuff I purchased regularly. How much I spent on gifts and meals. How much money I threw at fancy dog food and treats and toys and puppy daycare (when I was in the city). Seriously. And now that the tap's turned off, I feel... hollow, somehow, but in a calm way. There's been an emptying of things, and the clamoring and rattling inside me is... silent. Could it be gone then, too?

Saturday I got sick again, as I often do when I find myself stressed and the house gets bitterly cold. I had fever and stomach issues and a cold sore. My Mom came to check on me and help out... twice, which she rarely does, and it meant so much. Then on Sunday night Grace unexpectedly showed up with bags of soup and vegetables and coffee and yogurt. And a crate of clementines. The fruit was so beautiful, I thought, piled up and nearly bursting juice out of their fleshy peels.

I let Grace's clementines be until yesterday, when I sliced through the netting and dropped one inside the pocket of my relatively expensive robe (that I'd never worn until this week). Digging into the freezer, I also pulled out the last chocolate square I'd sneaked back from Turkey... damak...(a silky smooth European chocolate with pistachios)... and slid it into my pocket, too. Then I went and sat in front of the library fireplace and watched the Christmas tree lights twinkle and slowly peeled my clementine and ate it with my chocolate square.

It was the best dessert I've ever had in my life. The best. It was truly savored. I felt like Jo in Little Women, when she walks around with her Christmas orange for days, rolling it in her hands and smelling it. An orange. Can you imagine giving a child an orange in her stocking this Christmas? It would get a bigger eye-roll than underwear. An orange. What's an orange to us nowadays? What's a clementine? Nothing. Maybe we've had too many. Maybe our sense of value is too stretched-out to do us any good. Maybe it's because we think about our next meal while we're eating this one. We forget how wonderful it all is. How immensely blessed we all are.

At least I did. It took a thoughtfully-given clementine and a hoarded chocolate bar, which I can't go out and buy here, to remind me. Don't miss the gifts you have right now, they whispered. Don't forget to count up the small blessings as you add up your life.


Jesus talked more about money than He did heaven and hell combined. Crazy, when you consider it. He also talked about how hard it is for rich people to come to God. It would be easier for a camel to pass through an eye of a needle, He said, than for a rich man to go to heaven. Why? Because people comfortable in their lives feel no need to make provisions for the next. Why would you need God when you have it all, anyway?


Yes, life gets simpler over here by the day. And you know what? It's just fine with me. It's good for us, I think, to be brought to a place of dependence on God. It's not fun. It's certainly not cool. But it's an incredible place to be. (When did we start measuring success with a stuff yardstick, anyway? Why can't the "successful" folks be the ones whose kids value what they're given? Why can't a worldly honor of success be bestowed on folks who live day to day, too? Why can't success be a title for a father who makes time for his kids? An aunt who makes chocolate chip cookies? A nurse who sits up with ill? A teacher who never backs down? A mother who says bedtime prayers? A preacher who perseveres? Why can't the "successful" folks be girls in handknitted scarves who sit in old houses, gratefully eating chocolate squares and clementines?)

I'm still thinking on it all. But in the meantime, I'll think I'll go have another clementine and a mug of tea for lunch....

Sure wish that chocolate hadn't disappeared already.... [wink]

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Calendar Event

The talented Lindy commented on yesterday's post with a charming suggestion, I thought: why not use a few of the pictures and quotes seen here to do a Freeman House calendar? A bit of a house fundraising move, she said. I read her comment and then stared at the ceiling and thought, Huh. How clever! How delightfully fun would that be?

I worked on it half the night. Lindy was on to something. And the calendar was delightfully fun... and clever.

So for Lindy... and... you... and everyone else who faithfully reads, here's the rub: the Freeman House 2009 Calendar is now available! Featuring 13 of my favorite Freeman House photos and gobs of quotes and tips, the calendar will ship on December 20th to brighten and happy up homes all new year long. To reserve yours (as supplies will be limited) and for all the yummy details on the calendar itself, please go to the Freeman House Shop on Etsy and click on the image for the Freeman House 2009 Calendar.

It's always been my wish to share this wonderful old place with anyone in need of a little warmth or homemade happiness. Now I can, in some small way, ship Freeman House to you! Hope you enjoy....

Monday, November 10, 2008

Relenting, Or One Word Answers

I've been tagged numerous times to finish Country Girl/City Girls' one word meme. Y'all know me; I never do the usual blog things... awards, memes, tags, etc. I dislike them tremendously. But I read Alicia's and hers was fun, so I relented. Just this once. Seriously... just this once. [Grin]

Where is your mobile phone? Bathroom
Your hair colour? Chestnut
Your mother? Sings
Your father? Drums
Your favourite thing? Books
Your dream last night? Tragic
Your dream goal? Author
The room you're in? Dusty
Your hobby (hobbies)? Countless
Your fear? Bankruptcy
Where do you want to be in 6 years? Heaven
Where were you last night? Bed

What you're not? Typical
One of your wish-list items? Dishwasher
Where you grew up? Farm
The last thing you did? Weed

What are you wearing? (Brother's) Sweatshirt
Your TV? Muted
Your pet? Ah... sleeping!
Your computer? Slow
Your mood? Contemplative
Missing someone? Everyday
Your car? TrailRated
Something you're not wearing? FalseTeeth
Favourite shop? Anthropologie
Your summer? Broiling
Love someone? Hopelessly
Your favourite colour? Moss
When is the last time you laughed? Morning
When is the last time you cried? Thursday

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Christmas Tour

Yum, huh?
So yeah. It's looking a lot like Christmas at Freeman House this weekend. Two Christmas trees are up and being decorated. Decking the halls has begun at Freeman House. It's all glitter and glass and tangled lights over here.

Why so early? Glad you asked. The second weekend in December brings the first Christmas Tour at Freeman House. I'm happily excited! Four rooms will be opened and decked out, and each will proudly present a signature henrybella's dessert for the tasting. There will also be a quick tour of the history of the house (given by me)... a little live piano and guitar caroling... a giveaway... and pictures with Millie, the Freeman House Christmas dog. (Ha ha.) It's going to beautiful. Tickets go on sale next week; mark your calendars.

And for those of you who won't be headed this way anytime soon, don't worry! The week before Christmas we'll be offering a virtual, online tour, complete with some of my favorite holiday recipes, my Christmas music playlist and some behind-the-scenes dish on this year's event. You won't want to miss it!

Details coming soon. Until then, I gotta go. Millie the Freeman House Christmas dog is already chewing on a pine cone wired onto the library's tree. Oh boy...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Now Autumn's fire burns slowly along the woods
and day by day the dead leaves fall and melt.
-William Allingham

Told you Millie and I went on a leaf walk.

Can there be anything more beautiful than this week in autumn? I know most folks think of Texas as dry and dusty cactus forests, but really parts of the state are quite beautiful. Sure, we have our arid deserts to the west, our flat lands and grain fields to the north, our beaches and sand dunes to the south. But the east! Ah, the east. East Texas has rolling hills and woods that smell of pine and thickly-growing patches of oak, sweet gum, cottonwoods, cedar, pecans, pines and maples. In the fall, their brilliant canopies make for one enchanted forest.

All the leaves I've pressed were gathered within a mile or two of Freeman House. They're radiant this week. They always put on their best show the first of November, and I find myself an enamored and grateful audience. This is the first in three years I've been home to see them.

And I'll be sorry to see them go.

Not Millie. She's generally content as long as she has something to sniff or chew. And there's always something she's sniffing or chewing.

Am baking up a few cookie orders today, and thinking that while I have the oven on I'll go ahead and try this spicy fall cake. It calls for a cake mix as the base, and after a day of baking I always enjoy those shortcuts for myself. (I wonder if I could use two smallish bundt pans to make the "pumpkin" since I don't have a pumpkin pan?)

So glad... so so so so so glad that nasty election is over. Ready to get back to cozy, contented things, how about you?

Wishing you a lovely day. -Brin

Holiday Aprons Are Here!

Check out the Freeman House Shop on Etsy between now and November 14th to take one home in time for holiday hustle and bustle!

(And thanks for your support! -Brin)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


I say: Seriously? We expected this, but... seriously??!!

John McCain says: I wish Godspeed to the man who was my former opponent and will be my president. And I call on all Americans, as I have often in this campaign, to not despair of our present difficulties, but to believe, always, in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here. Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history.

Deuteronomy 31 says: Be strong, courageous, and firm; fear not nor be in terror of [him], for it is the Lord your God Who goes with you; He will not fail you or forsake you.

(I wanted to pull out one of those "wicked prospering" verses but didn't out of respect for my Democrat friends... including my USA Today, attention-getting Grandma, who exasperated our family and voted blue.)

What's that other biblical word the Bible always tells us not to be? Oh yeah. Dismayed.

Dismay: (dĭs-mā') tr.v. dis·mayed, dis·may·ing, dis·mays

To destroy the courage or resolution of by exciting dread or apprehension.
To cause to lose enthusiasm; disillusion

To upset or alarm.

n. A sudden or complete loss of courage in the face of trouble or danger.

Oh. Wait.....

...Yep. I'm already a little dismayed. But I'll try hard not to be. I'll try not to be, even as I remember that He never lets go.... (I'm listening to this song on repeat today.)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Just anxiously watching and waiting and (honestly) dreading the announcement. I cast my early ballot on Thursday and, judging from the parking lot outside our tiny courthouse, am glad I did.

So with my one little vote floating out there somewhere, I'm now wrapped in a warm sweater and sipping Gingerbread Spice Tea and quietly stitching away. My latest project? Sweet, fluffy, cozy handwarmer sets. I simply love these. I've several I have made over the years. They're perfect for keeping fingers toasty during blustery walks and outings and ball games and flea marketing and leaf raking and snowman building and ... well, all the things that keep me and my icy fingers outside.

I'm making a few sets for you lovely people, too. Just my little way of spreading some homemade, holiday warmth and cheer. Visit the Freeman House Shop on etsy to get one of your own... or pick up one to stuff a stocking. Guaranteed to warm and bless. [wink]

Wishing you a wonderful evening as we watch this wild night unfold. Warmly, Brin

Monday, November 3, 2008

Monday Moment: God's.

In case you're one of those folks who reads my blog from Athens, Greece (as a handful of people do), or in case you're one of those subway-riding city types who doesn't buy gas in the U.S., allow me to state the (otherwise) obvious: the price of oil has tanked.

In May I paid $4.09 for a gallon of gas outside Telluride, Colorado. In November I'm paying $2.15 per gallon at my local pump. Good news for most. Nightmare for me.

Since 2005, I've worked as an oil and gas broker. I always heard it was a "feast or famine" business, and for the past few years I've been feasting. But now I - and thousands of other dear, dear people I've worked with - am out of work. We've been laid off and cut loose and shoved out the door, and we can't find another position to save to our lives.

To say the least, I've been concerned. I knew I had enough money to see me through October and that was it. I took some short-lived work at a local law firm for some extra money, but that's done now. I decided last week that since it's gotten so bad - and since this house needs so much that I can't provide - I was going to put Freeman House on eBay. Put her on the market. It's overwhelming enough when I have a good job. Now it seems impossible.


My church is currently hearing a series of sermons about money. Money stewardship... things like that. Yesterday our preacher read from Psalms 24: The earth and everything on it belong to the LORD... It encouraged me. Although my name might be on Freeman House's title... although my name may be on a few accounts... my house, my car, my investments - everything, is really God's. Not mine. He's just given me a few things to enjoy or take care of, is all. And I have a responsibility to do well with what He's given me. Although I could think of a hundred other things to do with the money, I wrote a check for 10% of what I made at the law firm (us Christians call that "tithing") and dropped it in the offering plate. It's Yours anyway, Lord. And I'm counting on You to help me with this house and the little money I have left.

So I get in the Jeep this morning, still encouraged by yesterday's message. I have an armful of packages and letters to mail and a box of henrybella's goodies to deliver. And... ? What? ? I'm turning the ignition key and waiting for the Jeep to start and all I'm getting is a loud click-click-click-click-click-click-click.

I sat there a second, confused. Then I pumped the gas and jammed the key forward again. "Oh no you don't! NO. YOU. DON'T" I yelled.


Fortunately I live almost downtown. Fortunately the post office is six houses and two blocks (if you take an alley) away from Freeman House. I got my stuff out of the car and started walking. Then I dialed my Mom. When she answered I started crying. "My Jeep won't start!" I wailed. "And you know, Mom, I'm doing the best I can. I'm tithing. I'm giving. I've told God that Freeman House is His to do whatever He wants with. I really, really go out of my way trying here. What's the deal? I wrote God a check yesterday and now I WANT MY MONEY BACK!"

(Yeah. I said that. I'm not proud.)

My Mom sets me straight. She reminds me of what I'm always saying, anyway: I can't take it with me. So I stop blubbering. I do my business in the post office and skulk back into the alley to head home.

I'm walking... walking... and pass the pretty flower pots that always have such colorful blooms. I'm passing them and thinking what a mess this all is: the job market... my Jeep... poor old Freeman House with her leaking roof and now-moldy sheetrock... and suddenly words catch my eye. What? I've walked this alley 700 times and never noticed that between the flower pots before:


Funny thing, the building the sign rests against isn't a home. It's the back of our little town's newspaper office. And even funnier is I never would have seen it if I hadn't been on foot.

This Home Is God's.

I don't know what's going to happen. I don't have answers... I don't have money... I don't have plans. But it doesn't matter, does it? The earth is the Lord's and everything in it. So I don't need to throw up my hands or crawl back into bed. I don't need to spend my day worrying. This is God's stuff, after all. He'll see to it. Clicking Jeep and leaking roof and lacking job. He's got it covered.

Thank God. Thank goodness. Thank God's goodness.

Monday Moment is a little humble little devotional to help kick start your week. See you again next time!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Trick or Treat

Now Halloween, of course, may mean
Things very weird and ghost-like;
I wish it meant an evening spent with you -
That's what I'd most like.

But it didn't. It didn't mean that at all. So the tricker-treaters came. Before dark, even. Dragons and dogs and pirates and princesses and tigers and tinkerbells and ghosts and a weird guy called "Bubba".

I think I liked the dragon best. I could have kept him, except I didn't want to be one of those creepy Halloween folks. So I gave him and his sister a big-sized Hershey's.

They were too adorable.

Especially when their mother, the former Miss Teen USA, pregnant-with-her-third-child-beauty, told them it was time to leave.

For some reason, I wanted to cry.
Goodbye little ones. Be safe. See you next year....