Sunday, September 11, 2011

{Sunday Song} Fall Apart & The Story of our Last Year Part 1

This is the first of my Sunday Song posts. I will be sharing music that has inspired me. It won't just be a song but a post about what this song means to me. This first one is going to be kind of long and the next couple might as well as I am going to recount the story of our last year: My hubby's lay off and God's leading to move our family to Texas! So hit play and read part one of our families story!


Why is it that we seem to so easily give praise to God in the good times? Why is it hard to trust Him when everything seems to be falling apart. This is going to be the first post detailing the amazing changes God has worked in my family, home and my life in the last year.

About a year ago, the Review and Herald Publishing Association, one of our denominations biggest publishing houses announced that they were going to be laying off about 40 people.  Trent had worked there for over 19 years. We played many scenarios out in our heads, some involved Trent being laid off others didn't. We were trying to prep ourselves for what many in America face frequently. We had just enrolled our daughter, Boo, in our church's private school since we got some subsidy and life seemed to be going pretty good.

The next few months are a lesson in learning to trust in God and that He will do anything to save us. But that is getting ahead of myself. Back to the story at hand

We knew the day it was going to happen there was a buzz going around that lay offs were going to start. I remember praying like I hadn't in years that God would spare Trent, asking family to pray for us and what we may have to go through. I never really thought it would happen. I just held out this hope...but God had another plan...something much bigger and larger then our own little imaginings for our future.

I remember clear as day the phone ringing and hearing my husbands voice on the other end.

"They called me upstairs"

We knew immediately what was going to happen. I got off the phone with tears streaming down my face and called my mom. She reminded me not so gently, but lovingly that this wasn't about me and I needed to be strong for my husband. I knew she was right, wiped the tears from my eyes and when he called again told him we were on our way down to help him pack up his office (it was effective immediately). I collected some boxes, grabbed the kids and was out the door.

The rest of the day was kind of a blur...we packed up, picked Boo up a little early since I didn't really want to see people, and headed home. The next morning we woke up together very early and just talked. We both felt really strong moving forward not knowing the road ahead but knowing we were going to just move forward together.

Later that evening, Trent got a call from one of his friends, Mark, who lived in Texas and worked for the Union office. He said he had heard about Trent's lay off and wanted to tell him about a possible job opportunity. He had heard from a secretary who had heard from her brother who had heard from his wife who just happen to be Trent's sister. Apparently Southwestern Adventist University was looking for a person to help start up a graphic design emphasis in their communication department. He wanted to recommend Trent.

Trent has always wanted to teach and this seemed like a dream. He talked to someone a few weeks later, but we didn't really hear back from them for a long time. We were trying not to tell anyone either since we had no idea what was going to happen. During this time Trent took on designing the teen weekly magazine Insight.

In January we decided to go up to Philadelphia for 3 days since I had always wanted to go and you never know if we might move. On the last day while driving around Valley Forge, Trent got a call from the University asking if he would come down for an interview in February for a few days.

Working up to it we went through a ton more scenarios in our head. We knew it wasn't a full time job, so he could probably still do Insight. But we couldn't afford the move and they don't move adjuncts. We didn't want to get to hopeful since we were unsure if he would even be offered the job. He had been disappointed a few other times so we were opptimitically cautious.

The girls and I sent him on his way and this weekend was the start of feeling like my life was falling apart, but really it was just the beginning of understanding who God is and the lengths He will go/allow to let us have faith in Him.

The song selected for this post is a perfect reflection of where I was when I started this journey. I felt pretty ok about my relationship with God, I always wanted something deeper but didn't really know how to get what I wanted. I found out that what Josh Wilson writes is so true:

My whole world is caving in
But I feel You now more than I did then

How can I come to the end of me
And somehow still have all I need
God, I want to know You more
Maybe this is how it starts
I find You when when I fall apart

Part 2 Next Sunday :)

Love, Aly

I remember...

I remember I was sitting at my desk at work.
I remember I had been married for less then 6 months.
I remember that it felt to quiet in the school hallways.
I remember getting up and walking down the hallway.
I remember stopping in the religion room.
I remember the tv being on.
I remember seeing the second plane hit.
I remember calling my husband in shock.
I remember the Pentagon newsflash
I remember the prayer circle outside around the flag pole
I remember hearing about a 4th plan possibly headed to the mountain behind us
I remember the fear that it could hit us
I remember being so happy to be able to hug my husband.
I remember the tears
I remember the fear

and then I remember

  • the patriotism that flooded the nation
  • the pride that looking at our flag could evoke
  • the friendliness that was more apparent on the streets

since then I remember

  • seeing a soldier and telling my kids that is what a hero looks like
  • seeing a soldier and tearfully telling them thanks as the nation forgot to remember and started protesting what was happening.
  • seeing soldiers walk through an airport and the entire place erupting in clapping and tears
  • seeing and knowing soldiers and their families who are still dealing with the repercussion of that day.
To all our military and their families all I can say is Thank You! To the people directly impacted from that day all I can say is I am sorry. To everyone else all I can say is this

I will never forget
I choose to never forget

Friday, September 9, 2011

English Muffins

Growing up, I am not sure why but my parents only used King Arthur flour. I remember my daddy making waffles (recipe which needs to be posted at some point cause they are great) from scratch and out came the brown and red bag of whole wheat flour. 

When I got married, I realized when I went shopping I automatically gravitated towards certain products, mostly because those were what I grew up with. Rumford baking powder and King Arthur flour are two that stand out. These made their way to my cupboards. At the funeral of my Uncle, I spent the weekend at my cousins house and discovered this cookbook sitting on her shelf and quickly fell in love. I have always wanted to be a baker and always admired the art of forming the dough into a work of yummy art. I soon discovered that there is so much more the flour being sold by King Arthur. 
You can actually get their catalog or just shop it online. They even have a section on their website that just talks about their flours and has videos of how their flour is harvested and much more. Two Christmas' ago, my mother got me a gift card. It took me a long time to decide what to buy. Kept circling things in the catalog going back and forth. Finally I decided on their Yogurt Maker, Baguette Pan and their English Muffin Rings. I have used the first two, but even after I got them I realized my using them was probably not going to happen. They are just so easy to buy.
I recently was searching Pinterest for great breakfast recipes and discovered a freeze ahead breakfast sandwich which I can no longer find. I didn't have any English Muffins so figured why not try to put those rings to use finally!

The recipe was simple to follow and they turned out incredibly deliciously. I did learn a few things like when it says to not over fill...there is a reason to that LOL. I did check with King Arthur first and they graciously said it was ok to post as long as I linked back to them (have no fear...I love to link!) so here is the recipe and my iphone photo. The more I blog though the more I think I need to keep our nice camera more accessible. 
King Arthur English Muffins

The cookbook also gives directions for dry-frying but since I baked those are the only directions I am posting. This recipe starts on page 227 of their All-Purpose Cookbook 

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (next time I am going to try with White Whole Wheat)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/8 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 TB cornstarch
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 TB sugar or non-diastatic malt powder (I used day I will buy this)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 TB butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup milk, warm (I used almond milk and they were fabulous)
  • cornmeal for sprinkling on pans when you bake
  1. Mix the starter together, til you form a smooth batter. Cover and leave at room temp for at least 4 hrs, or up to 16 hours. The starter is kind of puffy and full of holes when ready to use.
  2. In large mixing bowl beat starter and dough ingredients to form a smooth batter. It needs to be beaten for 5 to 8 minutes so I used my kitchenaid, but you can always give those muscles a work out too :). 
  3. Cover the bowl and leave in a warm spot until the batter has doubled about 1 hour
  4. Lightly grease 10 to 12 English Muffin rings and place on a lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheet. I used my Pampered Chef Stoneware and find it never burns and everything turns out great. Sprinkle a small amount of cornmeal into each ring. This is not needed just makes them look more store like LOL
  5. If you don't have the rings, like most people, you can simply drop the batter on the pan and form with your fingers. Big hint: dip fingers in water...won't be as sticky!
  6. Stir the dough, then drop a scant 1/4 cup of dough into each ring (don't heap it like I did LOL) Smooth the dough if you want (remember dip your fingers in water first so it doesn't stick all over you) Cover and let rise in warm place for 1 hour or until they have grown at least a third.
  7. Preheat oven to 350. If using rings, place a pan on top to keep them flat on both sides. This makes it so they don't grow over the rings as well and can fit in toaster. Don't put a pan on top if you aren't using rings. 
  8. Bake for 25 minutes until lightly browned. Cool and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

If the Shoe Fits!

I remember growing up and going into my moms closet and loving her shoes. She had all these great boxes of dress shoes. She still loves shoes although I think her collection contains more flip flops then dress shoes these days. I love shoes but rarely buy myself anything that isn't practical. I did recently purchase some of the awesome nude/tan color ones that I loved, but who am I kidding they are still practical! So I have always wanted though a pair of impractical red shoes. Not just any but shiny red shoes with a heel!

Since moving, I have made great friends with Michelle. Our families love hanging out and she is also a deal finder. The other night, while at the Rangers game with their family, we were talking about my desire to get some shiny red dress shoes. She showed me a pair on JCPenny's website and I liked them. I told her if she was ever out and found a pair to call me :) Conversation (kind of) forgotten!

Today, I get a call and I can't answer it. Then comes a text! Found red shoes what size are you? So I call her back. Yes pick them up and I will pay you back. A few hours later she comes in with two large bags...all with shoes she picked up for me!!! Would you believe finding $65 shoes for only $5! Even my hubby thought it was a great deal! Seriously check out this stack of shoes...just begging for me to put them away in my new walk-in closet. Wonder if I could convince Trent to move his shoes somewhere else for my new lovelies.

I couldn't believe it when I saw them and she said she just knew my style and couldn't resist! So today I am thankful for Michelle who found a great deal AND knows my style. So here it is my parade of awesomeness! I am going to the beach in Florida next week...not sure which pairs will be making the trip now! Also, the pictures aren't the best but they were taken with my iphone LOL. I really need to keep our nice camera out so I can use it more! So there aren't picks of all of them on my feet but here is the whole line a few closeups...and one final line up! :)

Red Shoes that started it all
My Favorites...I am totally in love! So in love in fact you get to see them a few times LOL
Not on my feet...yep they are awesome!
Flower details

Add caption
As the saying goes...if the shoe fits buy it in every color! Or if you find a sale buy every style!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Home Project: Backyard Oasis #1

Every since we got married, I have had this weird dream to have this incredible backyard oasis. I have bought gardening books, plants, never really came together :(. I tried...I really, really did. Just the properties never seemed to want to work with me.

However because of this distance between our last home property and this one they haven't had time to talk and conspire against me (HAHAHAHA) so I am going to sneak up and attack it :).  The first step after having read my books for so many years is to decide what you want to use your backyard for. Thats an easy one...I want an oasis. A place to eat, relax, pick flowers and dream the day away...when I have nothing else I want to do (as if my addiction to Pinterest will ever let that happen...or my kids)

So we are going to be working on our backyard in stages. Stage 1 is the patio/terrace area. We have been blessed with a big slab which totally aids in the eating/relaxing areas. In the picture you can see the chairs and lounges we bought at Target. Nice for relaxing but not so great for the eating.

Our Slab in Backyard Oasis: Stage 1
Welcome to one of the joys of Texas living! You see patio furniture comes out in the stores at about the time I wouldn't want to use it down here...SUMMER! Seriously everyone keeps saying this summer is so different then normal, but I haven't really ever wanted to spend time outside since we moved here. If I wanted to be in 100+ degree weather, I would have my bathing suit on and be in a hot tub or sauna.

Another shot of Stage 1 - Slab improvement :)
Anyways, back to patio furniture. Well all those stores that had the lawn furniture are now prepping for Christmas (Yay) so that means great sales at the perfect time to start eating outside. So I headed over to Lowe's today after looking around the other night and me and the girls picked out a table, chairs, umbrella, torchs and pots for our patio area. We are hoping to get it set up on Sunday prepping for Labor Day. So because I want a place to record all the changes we make you get to see the backyard become my oasis (unless it gets a telegram from PA)

So the stages in my mind so far:
---WE R HERE---->Stage 1 - Slab Improvement
Stage 2 - Border Plantings (thinking these will be herbs mixed with flowers...we'll see)
Stage 2.5 - Set up Our Tool area in out building
Stage 3 - Landscaping around out building
Stage 4 - Raised bed garden
Stage 5 - Children's play area
Stage 6 - My reading/relaxing nook (this needs to involve a hammock or a comfy swing)

So this is long term planning (Daddy, you will be around for stages 3 and 5 right :) But I find having it written down helps a ton. Oh and you will never guess where I am getting a lot of my inspiration!
Pinterest! Check out my gardening boards...I will be adding more to it!

BTW...look for some crafty blog posts coming soon...and some cooking ones. I am having a get together with a new friend (hi Darcy if you read this) and we are going to craft from Pinterest this weekend YAY!

Good night for now! I will dream of Stage 7....RELAX IN BACKYARD!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Death...I hate it!

This morning, as I did my usual FB check in, I was reading the status of a friend and read some heartbreaking news. Cathy, a young teen from our previous church, passed away last night. Boo had gone to school with her and had raised money for her medical bills last year. She has prayed for her and I knew that it was one of those dreaded Mommy moments I was now facing.

Cathy has been battling cancer for a few years now. She was always so brave and even continued doing her schoolwork while at the hospital. She would video conference into the school everyday so she could still be a part of her class.

Since we left a few months ago, we haven't really heard much about her, so it was kind of shocking to wake up to that.

After waking Boo up I let her know that Cathy had died. The look on her face was so hard as a mom to see. She started crying and asking why...she is a teenager. She has begged me to go back for the funeral, but I don't see a 3 day trip in our budget or schedule. I will probably go onto a florist site and let her pick out something to send the family or find a place to donate to in her honor.

Death is one of those things that even as adults we struggle with. Boo has had 3 grandparents die since she was born, but she didn't really know them. This was the first person she really knew that has died.

As a Christian, it is slightly easier to deal with this. We have the hope of Heaven. I reminded her that one day we would see her again.  But the Why question is still sometimes hard to explain. We know we live in a sinful world. We know the Devil is attacking us. But it still is hard to explain.

I am trying to just let her cry when she needs too. If she needs to talk with me, I am here for her. I may take her out somewhere today for some one on one time. I know that in our lifetimes this conversation will happen again. We will all go through grieving processes and as a parent all I can do is to hug them,  let them cry, and be there to help them try to make sense of it all.

To Cathy's parents my heart aches for you. To everyone else...go hug your kids! Love on them. Take time today to do something special just with them. We already know they are kids for only a short time...enjoy each moment!