Wednesday, April 30, 2008

a special cap

Gifts are for giving, don't you think? What I mean is, if God made you able to do something, you should do it to help others. It seems I'm wired for handcrafts, so I try to make things for people. One of my favorite things to make is chemo caps; they are quick, don't take a lot of yarn, and are a practical way to help cancer patients, near to my heart after Mama's bout with cancer. Most of the caps I've made have gone to people I don't even know.

But I guess that couldn't last.

We found out a few weeks ago that Chad's cousin Natalie had breast cancer. If you came to my and Chad's wedding, you may remember her as the beautiful girl stationed at the guest book. That was in 1991, and of course she is not a girl any more. She is a pharmacist, and has a great husband and two sweet little girls. Natalie has already had her surgery, and will start chemo in a few days.

My first thought was to get the best yarn I could find and make the best cap I could for Natalie. I chose Rowan Calmer yarn, and Chad helped me choose the color, carnation. The pattern is Lace Edge Women's Hat from Head Huggers. I also made caps for her daughters out of a less expensive and more easily obtainable yarn, Lily Sugar 'n Cream in rose pink, but they are a fair match. In case you need to know, one skein of either of these yarns was plenty for this cap.

Hang in there, Natalie. You have our love and prayers. I hope you don't need your cap.

Friday, April 25, 2008

What Heaven looks like to me

A beautiful spring day, a screened porch, two giggly girls and a cat. Just add Chad and coffee, and yup, I could spend eternity here.

Cake idea

Our family has been doing the all-natural diet thing for 4 1/2 years now, and in that time I've baked a lot of birthday cakes. The church serves all-natural snacks to the children's classes as well, because several families there are on similar diets. So I bake a lot of cakes for the classes there too. There are ways of coloring with vegetable dyes, but they take a little time and I usually forget until the last minute. Natural colorings can be ordered, but they are pricey and I just haven't gotten around to it yet. So I have used all kinds of plastic jewelry and toys to brighten them up a bit. The kids like to keep those, too.

Last Wednesday night was the birthday of one of Lizi's friends, and she asked if I would make a cake. Of course, I was glad to. She is also allergic to chocolate, so I could not use that at all. I made all the icing white except for the writing, which I colored with turmeric (makes a lovely yellow color). Then I tried something I haven't done before - I bought some pretty flower-shaped pearly plastic hairbows, gave them a wash, and put them on the cake! The girls liked them, Lizi said. There was not a crumb of the cake left, so I guess they liked that too.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

What do you need?

Do you like Chinese food? We do. We visit our favorite restaurant a couple of times a month. I always feel somewhat chagrined, though, when they bring out my plate of sesame chicken. There is so much meat on that plate, I figure it could feed the average Chinese family for a day or more. They would just add more vegetables and rice, and be fine.

I guess I came to "green" through the "frugal" door - you would be surprised how often the two go together. I'm all for "reusing" and "recycling", but how often do we forget the "reduce" part of the saying? What does it matter if an item is in a recycled container, with 30% less packaging, let's say, if you just don't need it? Some sort of factory had to make that product, with it's packaging, expending resources in the process. It didn't magically appear in the store - likely a large truck burned a lot of gas to get it there. And what will happen to the item it replaces? Landfill? More and more lately these questions are a part of every buying decision I make. The less I buy, the less I have to recycle and reuse.

The obesity statistics in America are alarming, but I think that obesity is only a symptom of a larger problem. We just want too much, we mistake wants for needs, we want it all right now, and are willing to go into debt to get it. But what happens to jobs if we all were to just stop buying so much? It's just a big upside-down mess.

I think next time we go to Jade Garden, we'll just split a plate. I don't really feel like eating.

Friday, April 18, 2008

O Happy Day!

Today Chad and I are again the proud owners of only ONE home! A very nice family, Ryan and Jeanette with their two boys, bought our mobile home. They are happy to have it, and we are happy for them. All along I have prayed not only for the home to sell, but for the Lord to bless someone with it, because it is a nice place after all. I think He has answered that prayer.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Adventures in Taffy

To go along with a language arts lesson, Lizi and I made salt water taffy today. I have never made taffy before. I'm not even really familiar with the whole candy making, soft or hard ball stage thing. I have no candy thermometer. All I had to go on was the recipe in the language arts book.

So we set out to make taffy, me and Lizi and our recipe. We gathered ingredients, put them in the pot, boiled and stirred until we saw what we deemed a hard ball stage. We poured it into our buttered pan to cool till we could pull it. We watched and waited until we thought it was cool enough to handle. This stuff was hard as a rock. We pried it out of the pan and broke it up. It tastes like some sort of butterscotch candy, so it wasn't a complete loss. We named it "salt water crunchy."

After I put Lydia down for her nap, we tried again. We boiled only till soft ball stage this time, even though the recipe called for hard ball. Then we stood over it and watched it and poked it till we thought maybe we could handle the stuff without third degree burns. I buttered my hands and picked up a handful. This was the gooiest, stickiest stuff I have ever had the misfortune to put my hands in. It was as if it bonded to my hands at the cellular level. Pulling was not working. So we stirred for a while, then tried pulling again. Turns out Lizi was better at the pulling than I, so I turned that over to her and started wrapping. They taste good, and I think they look like candy you might have bought a hundred years ago, which is cool. All's well that ends well.

Oh, the photo is by my blog photographer, Lizi.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Trying out the blogging thing

Why on earth does a nobody like Kim Payne need a blog?

Well, I've been pondering that for a while. Truth is, I probably don't. But what I would like is a way to share the things that amaze, amuse or appall me. A way to share projects and just stuff that goes on around here. You are welcome to read along and see what it's like to be a knitting, cleaning, cooking, baking, homeschooling mommy and pastor's wife. If it's boring, well - you're the one reading it! ;-) I welcome your comments along the way. And hopefully you will find some sort of inspiration for your own life. But if I can't be a shining example, I'll settle for being a horrible warning, I guess.