Thursday, October 29, 2009

VOG and other air-born enemies....

Vog on Hawaii's Big Island Leads to Disaster Declaration - Local News | News Articles | National News | US News -

In Hawaii, there is a weather element that pretty unusual. It's called VOG. Wikipedia puts in this way,

Vog is a form of air pollution that results when sulfur dioxide and other gases and particles emitted by an erupting volcano react with oxygen and moisture in the presence of sunlight. The word is a portmanteau of the words "volcanic" and "smog". The term is in common use in the Hawaiian islands, where the Kīlauea volcano, on the island of Hawaiʻi, has been erupting continuously since 1983. Based on June 2008 measurements, Kīlauea emits 2,000 - 4,000 tons of sulfur dioxide every day.
What this means around here is a day of gloomy haze, runny noses, and headaches. Not very pleasant. (Did I mention I'm allergic to sulfur dioxide?) It wouldn't be a problem, except when the wind dies. Our natual trade winds normally blow the other direction, keeping the VOG heading out into the Pacific.

It got me thinking... There's a metaphore in here somewhere. And if you know me, you know I must find it! It is the "trade winds" of the Holy Spirit that keep the spiritual VOG out of my life. I Thessalonians 5:19 tells me, "Do not stifle the Holy Spirit." I know that when I do, the sky gets gray, the air is still, and I find it hard to function... The Holy Spirit in my life pushes the pollutants out to sea and away from my atmosphere.

I don't know who coined the term VOG, but I could name some other combinations. How about "bitterness" and "smog" - BOG. Or try "hatred" and "smog" - HOG. Maybe "doubt" and "smog" - DOG. What about "lies (of the enemy)" and "smog" - LOG...

Whatever it is, I'm praying for the trades to return, and for the junk to go. I may not be able to control the VOG, but I can control if I stifle the Holy Spirit.

Then we can get back to...enjoying the view! *;)

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Adventures in Attitudes

I was in our church office today making copies for our worship practice and happened to look up at the bookshelf.  This title jumped off the book it was written on....Adventures in Attitudes.  I had to laugh.  That pretty much sums up the last few days I've had. 

I could make a lot of excuses like,

"I have three teenage girls at home..."

or "homeschooling is really hard..."

or "I just didn't get enough sleep last night." 

They are all true, but excuses don't change a thing.  The good news is that my attitude will eventually change.  Like my emotions, I try not to put too much stock into them.  They just aren't reliable.  Learning to ride out the ups and downs is a process.  Hopefully, I'm getting better at it.   To see attitudes as an adventure...that could be just the perspective I need.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

23 years and counting

Today was Mark and my anniversary.  Twenty-three years.  Wow.  Time has just flown by.  As my usual routine, I got out the old wedding video.  Yes, video.  I really must get this transferred to DVD.  The tape is already showing signs of age.

It's fun to see how much we've changed.  We were just 21 and 22.  Kids by my standards today.  Dear friends all around us.  (They've changed just as much as we have...)  My sister sang, my father read scripture, my other sister was my matron of honor.  (Thanks sisters, for wearing that gaudy peach lace.) It was a great day.  I missed my mom.  She had passed away just three months prior.  I felt her presence.  Her friends from the church did all the work.  It was as much for her as it was for me.  Now that my father is gone, too, I cherish those few moments that where caught on camera of the two of us.  He was holding me close and giving me he his last words of encouragement before I left his home to make my own with Mark.  Sweet memories.  A lot can happen in 23 years.  I have an abundantly blessed life.

Here's the song my sister, Cindy, sang for us.

Enjoying the view!  *;)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Me, Mr. Magoo, and Francis Chan

When it comes to my spiritual journey, I must say that more often than not, it looks like a Mr Magoo cartoon.  I seem to wander along fairly clueless about what lay before me.  It would be amazing to see how many near-misses I encounter every day.  The Lord just leads me on and somehow, by His grace, I continue on in one piece.  And yet, isn't that sort of what child-like faith is all about?
Case in point.  My Life Journal has me reading in the book of Acts.  Every time I read through this book, I have the same emotion.  Why does my life, my Christian experience, look so much different than the first century disciples.  I'm not trying to compare my life the the big guys like Paul or Peter...I'm just taking about the nameless "disciples."  The Holy Spirit's prominence in their lives is so evident.  Acts always leaves me wanting more in my life.  There has got to be something I'm missing.

Just yesterday, I was playing that same old lament in my mind when I "stumbled" across an audio book on iTunes.  It was Francis Chan's new book called, Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit.  Wow.  I loved Chan's book, Crazy Love, and didn't even know he had another one out.  I immediately snatched it up (complete, unabridged, read by the author ~ $4.85)! Another source for the audio book of Forgotten God .
God is so good to me.  He never fails to give me just what I need, exactly when I need it.  It has been this way for years.  God places a book or other resource in my hand, just like a spoon-fed baby.  He knows how much I love books.  I am so grateful for His care and attention.

This is going to be an exciting read.  In the Introduction, Francis already sounds like a kindred spirit,

Grab a copy and read along with me.   I'd love to hear what you think of it.  Perhaps we may "stumble" onto something that moves us further down this Kingdom road...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tuesday was a day for Pumpkin Cake

A break in the rain today left the mountains looking like some one's quilt batting was dragged across the peaks.  So pretty.  Just minutes after this shot was taken, the mountain was again swallowed up in clouds.   I can see why ancient people thought the mountain had its own spirit.  It's always changing its mood.  Kinda like me some days...


Living in Hawaii, it's hard to tell when the seasons are changing.  It used to be that I'd watch what people were wearing on TV commercials.  When they broke out the sweaters and started advertising cold remedies, I knew fall had come.  We don't have the changing leaves or the daylight savings.  But today, the weather was definitely cooler.   The rain came through in waves making me want to snuggle up with a book.  Unfortunately, Tuesdays are not good snuggle-up days at my house.  There's school work and chores to be done.  I did manage to grab a cup of coffee and a piece of my favorite pumpkin cake.  I'll have to share the recipe.  This cake is so moist and delicious, I didn't even make frosting for it.  The recipe calls for cream cheese frosting.  I love it, but then the cake is so rich you can't eat too much.  I like it plain or with a dusting of powdered sugar.


This recipe has been adapted to be Sulfite free.  I've found that I can't tolerate baking powder, which makes baking rather interesting.  In most recipes, I substitute an extra teaspoon of baking soda plus half a cup of yogurt for every teaspoon of baking powder the recipe calls for.  This works best for quick breads.  I have a tortilla recipe that only called for 1/8th teaspoon of baking powder, so I just omit it.  The tortillas turn out fine.

Back to the pumpkin cake:


2 3/4 cups organic non-enriched flour
1 tsp. each: cinnamon, ground cloves, ginger, nutmeg
3 tsp. baking soda 
1 tsp. salt
1 cup butter
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup yogurt
one 15 oz. can pumpkin

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Sift together dry ingredients: flour, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, place butter and sugar and beat together until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs one at a time to the wet ingredients.  Stir in the vanilla and yogurt.
  • Stir 1/3 of the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, then 1/2 the can of pumpkin.  Follow that with 1/3 flour mixture, then the rest of the pumpkin and then the remaining flour mixture.
  • Spray the cake pans with nonstick spray.  You can use either two round 9-inch pans or one bundt pan.
  • Bake the two round pans for 30 minutes or the bunt pan for 45-55 minutes - or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for a minute and then turn out the cakes onto wire racks.  Let cool completely.
  • To finish, frost with cream cheese frosting or sprinkle with powdered sugar - or each plain.

 To learn more about sulfite intollerance, see this great website.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sunday Sail: Live in the moment.

Learning to live in the moment.  That's today's lesson.  The kids are growing up right before my eyes, and it makes me not want to blink.  Have you every tried not to blink? 
I'm really trying to snap more pictures these days, too.  When the kids were little, I thought I'd never forget their sweet expressions, the funny things they said...  Now, I can hardly remember without the pictures.  Why didn't I write things down?  Oh yeah, my hands were full of dirty diapers, stuffed animals, duplos, and play-dough...
Well, today was a great day with the family and some friends.  I love being around my kids.  They are fun.  And of course, my hubby is my BFF!  I cherish these times.  I want to savor them and not rush through them.  

I know I'm sounding very mushing and sentimental....but I just found out that there are boys out there (you know who you are) that really, really like my daughters.   My babies!  Boys like my babies!  I wasn't prepared for this day...

Anyway...back to today.  Here are some pictures of our day.  You parents of little ones....go squeeze them right now! 

Because while you are blinking, they go from this...

To this....

Someday, it will just be the two of us and we'll wonder where these days have gone.  I'll have to learn to live in that moment when it comes...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Does this smell okay?

In every household, there is usually one designated person who is asked to, "smell this..."  That someone is supposed to intuitively know whether the item has gone bad or can be consumed safely.  I always defer to my dear hubby, who usually says something like, "I don't know, but we've got good insurance, go for it!"  My motto has always been, "When in doubt, throw it out..."  But in my attempt to live more frugally, I'd like to make more informed decisions.   I don't want to waste what is perfectly good. 

Just a few days ago, a friend sent me a link to a site that will take the guess work out of deciphering those left-overs.  The name of the website is so cute, Still Tasty.   There are about a dozen different categories of food items listed.  There's also great information of food storage and shelf life of various foods.  Check it out.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

It's Thursday...

Just another day of homeschooling.  It went like this...

Woke up late, 8:00a.m.  Brr - must be 72 degrees.  Fall is here.
Stumble to the kitchen to make coffee.  I love my coffee - even though it's decaf.  Guess I wont get in my morning run...Hubby is already out of the shower, and Steph gets in next.  They have to leave the house first, everyone else must wait.
I let Blue outside.  Even he slept in this morning.

By 8:45, we've all had breakfast and attempt to get to work.  A couple of kids get to their desk wearing their blankets around them.  Mark takes Steph to her class at the community college.  We hit the books.  Andrew goes to the computer for his math lesson, Rebecca heads to the family room with her literature book, and Rachael works on English lessons.

I love Thursdays because there's still time to get our work done for the week.  I still have hope my lesson plan will pan out for this week.  By Friday, all bets are off...

10:30 - everyone is more than ready for a break.  So far we've done spelling, attempted writing, and grammar.  I make a pitcher of lemonade and reach for my third cup of coffee... Oops!  Forgot to print the history questions.  Here they are...  Got to hurry, the two middle girls have ballet at 12:00....tick, tock, tick, tock....pressure mounts.

11:45... Oh no, get your stuff, time to get into the car!  We're LATE!  Now what?  Rachael doesn't feel well, and is going to stay home.  Okay, Rebecca, just you - in the car.  I've got to get gas in the Jeep before we get there....

Back home, Andrew and I do our prewriting on a history report, and then eat lunch.  After lunch we head out to the swing to read.  Beautiful, clear day.  The swing is a great place to read together. 

Rachael is doing her math on her laptop in her room.  Neighbor, Laura, pops in to say, "hi!"  They Skype a friend on the mainland for a few minutes.

Better get the chicken in the oven.  Want to roast it for use later...

1:47...Now it's time to pick up Rebecca from ballet.  Once she's home, I can help her with her science.  Steph is home now, too.  Thank goodness for my niece, Lauren, who gives her a ride home.  Steph practices on the piano.  This is the same piano that I practiced on as a kid.  Sure is nice to hear it being played again.

Time for cleaning up the place.  Looks like a tornado when through.  That's the thing about homeschooling...I never get to keep the house clean for long.  We are always hanging around, messing it up again! 

3:30...I go outside to water the plants, play ball with Blue and look and the mountains.  Steph comes outside to hang her laundry, laptop in tow.  It amazes me how she can hold a IM conversation and do her chores at the same these days...

4:30...Time to head into the kitchen.  I'll make dinner for my family tonight from a recipe I found on the Pioneer Woman.  It's Spaghetti with Artichoke Hearts and Tomatoes. Yum....  I'm also making a macaroni and cheese with chicken and mixed veggies for my friend and her family.  She teaches Steph piano, and I cook her a casserole.  Works for me!

With the food done, I think I can sit down.  Mark is home now, and all is well with my world.  But the day isn't finished yet.  Steph and Rachael go to youth group, and Mark is off to a church board meeting.  Oh yes, there's the Wii game due at Blockbuster...out I go again.

Finally, it's 9:30 p.m. and everyone is back home.  The cool night air is seeping in the windows.  And I sit at the computer to attempt a new blog...
My sister posted this video on her blog, Jacob's Reward Farm.  It is so cute.  It just proves that doing what's good for us is a lot easier when it's fun!  That's a great life lesson.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I Come to the Garden Alone?

Beautiful morning.  The rain of yesterday has finally blown away.  My mountain was clear and bright.

So back to my spot on the swing.  I love to sit there and take in the morning.  Although I have no human company, I am not alone.  There's usually a few little creatures that come to see me.  More likely, to see why I'm in their garden...

There was also new life bursting in the planters...  The tomatoes and lettuce are starting to come up.  Such promise.  It makes me happy.

I opened my Bible, randomly, and my eyes came to the story of Jesus as he heals the woman who had an issue of blood for twelve years (Luke 8:40-48).  The woman thought that if she just touched Jesus' robe, she would be healed.  The crowd was all pushing and shoving to get close to Jesus, but her touch was different and Jesus noticed it.   In verse 46, Jesus says, "Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me."  

This verse made me stop.  I couldn't get past it.  Am I just part of the crowd, pressing to to see the spectacle of Jesus?  Or do I deliberately, with faith, press in to make contact with Jesus?  I want my encounters with Jesus to be deliberate, on purpose, and made with faith. 

I came to the garden alone, but left with renewed resolve to be a more deliberate seeker of Jesus.  That thought holds way more promise than even my tomatoes.  *;)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Just in time...

Hope you're having a good Lord's Day.  

As I was watering the plants last evening, I noticed that the day lily was just about to bloom.  I turned around to water another section, and when I turned back - boom - there it went, almost before my eyes.

A scripture for this Sunday:

Psalm 146

1 Praise the Lord!
Let all that I am praise the Lord.
2 I will praise the Lord as long as I live.
I will sing praises to my God with my dying breath.
3 Don’t put your confidence in powerful people;
there is no help for you there.
4 When they breathe their last, they return to the earth,
and all their plans die with them.
5 But joyful are those who have the God of Israel
as their helper,
whose hope is in the Lord their God.
6 He made heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them.
He keeps every promise forever.
7 He gives justice to the oppressed
and food to the hungry.
The Lord frees the prisoners.
8 The Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are weighed down.
The Lord loves the godly.
9 The Lord protects the foreigners among us.
He cares for the orphans and widows,
but he frustrates the plans of the wicked.
10 The Lord will reign forever.
He will be your God, O Jerusalem, throughout the generations.

Praise the Lord!

May you be refreshed and renewed as you wait on the Lord.  Until tomorrw.... *;)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

An Attempt at Frugal Friday...

It was a gorgeous morning.  Found this day lily ready to burst.  Will keep you posted when it blooms.  I hit the ground running (not literally, today) with a list of Frugal Friday activities.

Planted seeds in the raised box in the back yard.  I'm trying bush beans (usually an easy crop), tomatoes, and a mix of salad greens.  The last time I tried to grow Manoa lettuce, it tasted so bitter, we fed it to the rabbits...  We'll see how these come out.

My next project was to get some towels hung on the line.  With our still, humid day they took all day to dry and were stiff as a board...  Next time, I may try some vinegar in the rinse water to see if that helps.  I'd love to hear your suggestions on how you keep your hung laundry, especially towels, from becoming sandpaper.

I got my reclaimed wood birdhouse painted.  Actually, I enlisted the help of Andrew and his friends ~ Tom Sawyer-style.  ("Look how much fun I'm having painting.  Want a turn?")  The did a great job. Thanks, guys!

The next project for Frugal Friday, was to try a batch of homemade yogurt.  The Frugal Girl's recipe looked so doable, and had to try it.  I've always thought that if you can read, you can cook, so I'm pretty game to try anything.  I love yogurt, and to have some that is totally sulfite friendly would be great.  The only ingredients are milk and a bit of yogurt as a starter. 

While the yogurt was...doing whatever yogurt does in the cooler, I turned my attention to the house.  Why does it seem like whenever I have lots of ironing and housework, the humidity soars.  My beautiful clear morning turned to this:

Mug-gy!  Oh well, sweating is good for the pores, right?

My frugal dinner plan was individual chicken pot pies.  I love to make them in ramekins.  Everyone gets their own.  I asked my star pie crust maker, Rebecca, to whip up a crust for me, while I put together the filling.  I used roasted chicken thighs, left over rice, frozen peas and carrots, and a homemade white sauce.  When I find chicken thighs on sale (here, that means $1.69/lb.) I roast them all at once and bag and freeze them in meal size zip locks.  That cuts down the time it takes to put dinner together.  I just defrost the chicken and add to my recipe.   I used a pumpkin cookie cutter to cut the pie crust for the top (and don't use a bottom crust).   With the left-over pie crust, I made a peach pie with canned peaches.  I know, not the best, but in Hawaii, fresh peaches are pretty hard to come by.  Mainland produce is picked early so it will transport well, but not much flavor is developed.  Even when Costco brings them in, they are expensive.  Not Frugal Friday fare.  The pie turned out pretty well, even though I got the top a little too brown....  No pictures of the food, too busy.

Finally the clouds gave way to rain, then it cleared beautifully. 

The clouds turned fluffy and pink in the setting sun.

So, my attempt at Frugal Friday turned out pretty well.  I felt productive, anyway.  This also ends our "fall break" from schooling.  Although I did get to some projects that have been on my list for awhile, I didn't do any advance lesson plans.  That is what will occupy the remainder of this long weekend.

I love the feeling that a break in routine gives.  I'm refreshed and ready to get back to the schedule.  I heard a quote from Dr. Laura, "Quality of life is determined by what you make of it, not from what happens to you."  I can agree with that.  Yes, this season of my life is filled with the business of kids' schedules, schooling, church responsibilities and financial pressures.  But one of the things that I can control is what I make of my life at this point.  My attitude can determine the quality of my life.  That's what I'm really trying to focus on.  Not only for me, but for those around me.  That includes you, my friend.  Now go eat some yogurt! *;)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

It was a gift...

There are many treasures in my life.  Most of them were gifts.  I'm not talking about the gift of friends or family, though I know they are truly gifts from God.  I'm talking literal gifts.  For instance our dog, Blue, was a gift from a breeder who took my daughter, Steph, under her wing.  At the time, we couldn't have dogs or cats in our rented house.  (We had about every other species of animal at one time or another, but no dogs or cats...)  Steph was able to live vicariously by learning to show and groom these beautiful Shetland Sheepdogs.  (My favorite breed, BTW.)  The breeder kept insisting that Steph should have one of the pups from her dog's next litter.  As providence would have it, the landlord relented, and Blue was ours.

Blue is the first dog I've ever lived with.  I always thought I was a cat person, until we got Blue.  After Steph, I'm his next favorite person.  I'm okay with that.   With the schedule of a typical 17 year old, Steph is gone more and more, so I become #1 a bit more often.  Blue can always be counted on to shadow me around the house.  He thinks it's great fun to go out to the carport to move the laundry.  He's sits with wrapped attention when I'm cooking dinner - or anything in the kitchen.  When I go out to water the plants, he's sure that I really want to throw the tennis ball for him.  I'm amazed at how he hangs on my every word.  He understands me most of the time, but when he's not sure, he'll cock his head ever so slightly to the right...trying to figure me out.  That, my friend is a gift!

A gift is more than just being given an item that someone doesn't want anymore.  That's a hand-me-down.  Yes, I'm very grateful for those, too.  But I'm talking about gifts that are given because the giver wants to bless you with something above and beyond your expectations.  Pakele Nui is such a gift.  Yes, she is 30 years old and could use some TLC, but she's a gift that was above and beyond any of our expectations. 

Pakele Nui is our sailboat.  Her name means "Great Escape" and that's just what we feel like whenever we get to take her out.  Yesterday, we took a much needed escape to our favorite spot, the sandbar in Kaneohe Bay.  There had been a Tsunami warning earlier in the day that was later cancelled, so no one was out but us.  I guess we were the only ones brave enough - crazy enough - to go for it.  So we packed up for an over-night excursion.

There is nothing like being out on the water.  There was no wind and the bay looked like glass as we eased out to the bar.  You can just feel the stress of the week melt away in the fresh, sea air.   The sand bar was emerging from the water as the tide came to its lowest.  By about 7:00, instead of being surrounded by water, we were anchored at a beach that stretched about 1/4 mile.  Such beauty.  I'll never get tired of it.

The sun was just setting as we arrived.

See the stress melting....

Andrew paddled out to set the crab luck this time, but sure is fun to try.


After some breakfast and snorkeling....we head back home.  After all, it's Thursday, and Mark has to work.

Today was made possible because of a gift.  I am forever grateful and really am ... enjoying the view.  *;)