Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Summer--already slipping away?

Yes, I know that summer has just begun, but to me it seems like it will soon be over. Please don't misinterpret my words! I am NOT complaining, just noticing that each day in my coming weeks/months has a specific task/chore/purpose attached to it. I feel as though I'm measuring out the minutes, and weighing the importance of each appointment--whether it is worthy of my precious "free" time and attention.

Yesterday was my first day of summer--I spent it by waking up early and meeting Julie at 6:30 for a walk around the lake. We then proceeded to spend several hours pulling every weed we could grab from the garden, raking and hoeing, plus harvesting several heads of lettuce, some cauliflower, and part of our abundant spinach row. After picking all of the produce, we spent several hours washing and bagging everything. We ran into a minor problem when the sink wouldn't drain--but thankfully Quinn is a plumber and fixed the problem when he got home from work. Julie and I also completed the mural we have been working on in her basement. We need to finish up a few things, and then find a way of sealing it, but pictures will soon follow. It is a tropical oasis, perfect for those dreary, winter days when you need a bit of the beach!

I didn't get home until mid afternoon and then started mowing the lawn--we've had plenty of rain these last weeks, and the lawns around here show it! Grass seems to grow quickly, and then add frequent rain into the equation and you get to mow pretty often. Since there is rain in the forecast for the rest of the week, I decided I needed to snatch my chance and get it done with. I've already mown several times this spring, but I have a neighbor behind me who hasn't at all. The grass is several feet high at this point, and I'm wondering how long it will be before they break down and hire a tractor to come in and do it for them. It does look like they tried to mow part of it a couple weeks ago, but it must have been too much for the mower, because they just have one strip mown through the middle and then the rest has been left!

This morning was pretty overcast, so Julie and I opted to bike around the lake instead of walking--just to make sure we could get back to their farm quickly if the sky decided to open up and really rain. We had a few random sprinkles, but overall it was pretty dry. Absolutely beautiful ride, although my thigh muscles didn't appreciate all of the hills today! I didn't stay as long today, as I needed to get home and then head to Newton. I met up with Becca and did some pre-wedding (coming up this Sunday!) shopping. We went out for coffee and talk about wedding plans, and teaching--Congrats to Becca on her new job--3rd grade teacher in Wichita at Harry! Then I headed over to Arlin and Maretta's for a Buller family ice cream social. Anthony brought his new girlfriend Ferrel, so we all had a great time grilling her! Ferrel held her own, so I don't think we've scared her off, yet!

Tomorrow I need to go though some stuff here at the house and see if there is anything I want to sell at a garage sale on Friday. I also need to get my massage stuff ready for Sat.--I'll have a booth set up in the park for Chingawassa days. Feel free to drop by for a chair massage--in 5 min., 10 min. and 15 min. time slots!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

"Tuning in" to the right broadcast

Near car accidents...field trips....crowds....noise...chores at home...a never ending "to-do" list...general end of the school year chaos at work...

Daily life can wear my soul down, making me tired. Thankfully, God's beautiful landscape is out there waiting to renew me. I've been going out to Julie and Quinn's quite a bit recently...watching the horses gallop over the pasture...the baby chicks scurry across the yard...the sun setting through the trees, spreading vibrant colors across the sky...plucking wily weeds from our straight rows of potatoes, onions, lettuces...

When I'm spending time outdoors, I'm in a world filled with beauty, far, far away from my everyday cares and worries.

Jesus also left the crowds behind and went to the wilderness to pray. For me, spending time in God's creation is a form of prayer and thanksgiving for all I have been given, but also a way of feeding my spiritual body. The pastor of the small congregation I attend here in Marion said something a couple of weeks ago that has stuck with me ever since--he said, "if you are tired of doing ministry [which I feel applies to teaching!], check and see whether you are being fed spiritually."

Am I being fed, filled to the brim, renewed for my ministry? How do my community--my church congregation--my personal devotions feed me? Am I doing enough? Am I doing too much of the "other" stuff that fills my life?

As this last week of school winds down, I'm eager to find more moments that I can snatch, leaving the crowds and cares of life behind.

I like to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station,
through which God speaks to us every hour,
if we will only tune in.
-George Washington Carver

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Preparing for summer

Tonight is a bit cooler than it has been recently, and I thought I'd take advantage of it. Knowing that much warmer weather is coming, I spent the evening doing some baking--something I won't be doing much of in the next couple of months. A couple nights ago I put the ingredients for pizza crust in my bread machine so that I can freeze some par-baked crusts for quicker (i.e. cooler!) meals this summer. I'm looking forward to some pesto and mushroom pizzas with them!

Erica's Whole Wheat Pizza Crust Dough (makes 8 personal size crusts)

1 1/3 cups warm water

3 1/2 T. olive oil

1/2 tsp. salt

2 cups all-purpose white flour

2 cups whole wheat flour

2 tsp. yeast

1. Add ingredients in the order given into the bread machine pan.

2. Start dough cycle (my machine is about 1 1/2 hours).

3. When the dough is done, remove it from the pan and make into 8 small round balls, or put into a Ziploc baggie and into the fridge for later use.

4. Roll out dough into small circles on a floured surface. Pierce the dough so that it doesn't bubble when par baking.

5. Bake in oven for 3-5 min. at 350 degrees F. (flipping partway through time) until both sides are lightly browned, but still pliable!

6. Remove from oven and let cool. Prepare for the freezer by putting wax paper between layers and then storing in the freezer.

7. When ready to use: Take as many as needed from the freezer, let thaw a bit, and cover with favorite toppings. Bake until toppings are cooked through. My favorite toppings are basil pesto, onions, mushrooms, goat cheese and mozzarella. Yum!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Happy Belated Mother's Day!

To all of you mother's/grandmother's/aunts out there, Happy Mother's Day. I hope you had a wonderful, relaxing day spent with those you love. Mom, Dad and I spent the evening out at the reservoir last night, after a quick trip to see Quinn, Julie and our massive garden.

I provided sausage and fish to grill, and a couple sides, and mom and dad added a salad and dessert to the meal. It was a beautiful evening, high water and a gorgeous sunset, plus some old Marion teaching friends happened to stop by.

It has been awhile since I posted, mainly because my life has been pretty busy lately. Since my last posting, I have finished up my A and P/Pathology course, at least for this semester--yippee! Next semester I'll be driving both Tuesday and Wednesday evenings for A and P/Pathology, but at least I get a break for a few months now. I'll be continuing my tutoring during the summer to see whether I can get ahead a bit there.

Last Friday I had my first paying massage "gig". I took a personal day and went to Remington schools (it was Teacher Appreciation week) and did massage all day for their teachers--paid for by their PTA group. All staff members were given the chance to sign up for a 10 min. chair massage. Although it was a bit physically tiring for me, I had a wonderful time. Carolan (my tutor) owns a massage clinic here in town that is affiliated with the hospital, and we had several conversations throughout the day about whether or not I will be joining the practice. It sounds as though in the next few weeks it will all begin to fall into place, and I can start working there in the evenings, weekends and this summer. The whole day was good for my soul--after an especially trying week.

This weekend was beautiful, I spent time on Sat. out at Julie and Quinn's working in the garden--we harvested some spinach, broccoli, and radishes, and went to a friend's cabin up by the lake to cut fresh asparagus. We also moved the baby chicks from one pen into the bigger pen with the bigger chickens--quite an experience for all involved! Now Julie and I will have to clean out our garden shed again, since we had been using it to keep the babies out of harms way.

I also spent a bit of time making some homemade granola, which turned out wonderfully, if I do say so myself! I ended up giving some to Mom for mother's day.

Erica's Sugar-Free Granola

4 cups oats

1/4 cup coconut

1 cup mixed dried fruit (I used dried blueberries, cranberries, cherries, and raisins)

1/4 cup slivered almonds

2 tsp. Splenda

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Mix dry ingredients with 1/2 cup canola oil. Spread evenly on baking sheet. Bake at 300 degrees F, for 15 minutes, turning frequently. Watch carefully that the fruit doesn't burn!