Sunday, October 28, 2012

"What I Have Found" - A Poem by John R. Leax

Watercolor rainbow by a small daughter
with a big heart and imagination

"What I Have Found"
by John R. Leax
from his book Grace is Where I Live

This place that claims my midlife
labor is not an Eden I have made.
It is a place of trial.
My hope resides in yielding
to what calls me still to stay.

No charming serpent curls
about my arm and whispers
in my ear.  But I am tempted
nonetheless.  Like Homer
I take the stories of my people,
I give them shape, and hand
them down.  What I pass on
is truth made new--half-truth
spun through kind invention.

The world I make is finer
than the world I know.  How else
contain the bitterness, the pain,
the grief?  I have not lied.

I say my words; I seek
the wholeness of the world.
Like Homer I am blind.
I see what is not here.
I see this place by word
and grace a new creation.
That word is what I've found.
That grace is where I live.


Blitz-skimming through Google Reader, I found a review of a different book by Leax and recognized his name as the poet of "What I Have Found" which I read a few years ago.  My e-mail account is a virtual file cabinet of things I have tucked away or shared, so it was easy enough to find.  I had sent this one to a cousin.

Read it carefully!  What do you think it means?  Is it talking about authors and story-tellers only?  Or can it be for mothers-who-create-beauty-and-order-in-chaos as well?

Leave a comment!


P.S. I am a poet, too.  Here is the index of some of my poems, which are linked on a few of my blogs.   Feel free to leave a comment on them, too!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pigs in Blankets & Cinnamon Balls {Aldi Ingredients}

Dear friends,

My 11 year old daughter and I decided to make a special breakfast for my husband recently since has was going out of town for a few days visiting family and friends.

Our menu: pigs in blankets, cinnamon balls, omelet, waffles (from a box), and fresh fruit salad.  I bought most of the ingredients at Aldi.

For the pigs in blankets, we took a bag of 40 cocktail sausages and three cans of jumbo flaky biscuits.  We split each uncooked biscuit into two layers (that's why we used the flaky ones), and wrapped a piece around each cocktail sausage, pinching one edge to seal.  These baked on cookie sheets in the oven at 375 until brown and not doughy.  (Not just for breakfast!  I think pigs in blankets are even more commonly used as party appetizers.  You can also throw cocktail sausages in a crock pot with Hawaiian sauce!)

Cinnamon Balls
I had four or five biscuits 
left over after I used up the bag of sausage.  Rather than bake them plain, I decided to make cinnamon balls.  I've never tried it, and  didn't have or even need a recipe.  I simply melted  a half stick of butter in the microwave in a glass pie pan.  Then I added a tablespoon of ground cinnamon and a quarter cup of brown sugar and mixed it in.  Then I divided each biscuit into four pieces and rolled them into balls.  I coated them with the mixture in the pie pan, then baked at 375 until cooked through.   Then I tossed them around in the pan to coat with the excess sauce. Yum!  I should make these with a whole container of biscuits next time, because they went fast!  I think these may be similar to monkey bread, but I'm not sure.

Daddy's plate had two pigs in one blanket

What do you do for special breakfasts?

Virginia Knowles

P.S. I shop frequently at Aldi.  You can read more posts about Aldi products here: Groceries from Aldi.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Yesterday I felt melancholy because....

My feminine hormones were playing their monthly mischief


I hadn't slept well


there is a whole bunch of stuff 
our family has faced
and is facing 
and will continue to face
that just overwhelms me


the economy is tanking
and the world is going to hell in a hand basket
or so it seems if you read the news too much


I spent hours doing laundry 
and cleaning the kitchen 
and tidying up the dining room
and I just know someone is going to come along 
and mess it up again and again and again
(they already have, by now)


my kids need more help with their home school assignments
than I would prefer to give them - 
and we have to turn it all in at co-op classes on Monday


my hands and feet hurt from arthritis
and my back hurt from life-in-general


not everyone in my house was even attempting 
to be kind with their words and actions
(that would include me, of course)


(there's more, I'm sure, but lets not dig)

{melancholy indeed}

and so...

What did I do about it?

I cut myself a lot of slack


lowered my expectations


locked my door and told the kids
they were better off staying away from me
for a little while, at least


took a nap


thought about a song we sang on Sunday


wiped away my tears


played my turns on "Words with Friends"


hugged and thanked the teenage son 
who told me several times
that I was "a good mom, really"


tried to think nice thoughts about God
(with whom I am sometimes angry)


took another nap


prayed a few little prayers
the "Lord, have mercy!" kind


went on the web 
and read a poem
and watched a video

Chimamanda Adichie: The danger of a single story 

that my smart daughters mentioned on Facebook


by Addie Zierman
who always puts it into words my heart gets


wiped away my tears again
(thanks for that, Addie)


made dinner for my family


avoided watching the presidential debates
(I hate politics)


called a close friend
who faces many of the same challenges that I do
who prays for me more often than I pray for anyone
and who helped me think even more nice thoughts about God
(with whom she, too, is sometimes angry)


went to bed
with grace in my head
and didn't wake up until morning

and yes!

I am feeling much better now
thank you very much

{jolly indeed}

"Love Came Down"
by Brian Johnson

If my heart is overwhelmed and I cannot hear Your voice
I’ll hold on to what is true though I cannot see
If the storms of life they come and the road ahead gets steep
I will lift these hands in faith
I will believe

I remind myself of all that You’ve done
And the life I have because Your Son

Love came down and rescued me
Love came down and set me free
I am Yours I am forever Yours
Mountain high or valley low
I sing out remind my soul
That I am Yours I am forever Yours

(There is more, so listen here: Love Came Down)

Note: The photos in this post were all edited with Picasa. I used the "heat map" feature for the first one, "HDRish" for the second, and a combo of "holga-ish" and "cross process" with the last one.  And of course I used a little creative cropping for all of them.  The P52 Photo Project  theme for the week is "Sad" and my first photo is my submission for that.

P52 with Kent Weakley
P52 Photo Project 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Autumn: A Pretty Home and Yummy Food on a Budget

Dear friends,

Are you ready for autumn?  I'm not quite there yet, since it's still so warm here in Orlando, but I'm working on it. My husband is going to retrieve our autumn decoration bin from storage this weekend, but in the meantime, I'm making do with what I have available already, as well as some new items.  You can see what I've done for autumn in years past here: Easy Autumn Decorating on a Dime.

Today's post is a lot about autumn decorating, and a little bit about food and hospitality.

I wanted a few extras new fall pretties for my home but I don't have a lot in the budget right now.  Fortunately, as I walked into Olde Time Pottery this morning, I stopped at a table outside and subscribed to the local newspaper for a low rate, and they gave me a free $10 OTP gift card as a bonus.  So while I had been planning to just browse, I actually got to buy a few things!

I bought this wall basket to hang on my front door
last spring, as you can see in my post 

Today I bought these silk flowers for $3.49
at Olde Time Pottery, and tucked them 
into the basket with a folded over doily.
(In addition to the ribbon and hook, the basket is anchored
to the door with a strong magnet.)

Other recent additions:
The two pilgrims are from Dollar General ($1 each) and the
two small wood signs are from Olde Time Pottery ($1.50 each).
The silk flowers and flower pot were gifts.

A closer look at the pilgrim maiden

The ceramic pumpkins, which hold tealight candles,
were on clearance at Olde Time Pottery for $2.60 each.
On Halloween, we'll put them outside on our garden wall,
and light up the insides for jolly jack-o-lanterns!
The basket is full of homemade potpourri.
My husband gave me white roses
for my birthday last month.
After the blooms finally wilted,
I dried the petals on a rack. (See below.)
Since white roses don't have much aroma,
I added orange scented oil and a
little bit of food coloring to perk them up.

White rose petals on a drying rack.

Two days ago, I happened to walk into the Goodwill thrift store and while my kids were trying on clothes, I sat down on this lovely chair nearby.  It felt comfy, is in terrific condition with sturdy fabric, matches the burgundy and creamy yellow colors in my living room, and was only $40.  Since we needed extra seating in our living room anyway, I bought it on the spot and hauled it home in my big old van. It seems like there is someone always in it doing homework or hanging out.  I wish this picture did it justice.  It's really pretty.

I guess that's about all my budget can handle right now, so I'll be glad to get my big bin of stuff out and around the house.  

I've also got a handful of big fat acorns that I brought from  Maryland.  I haven't figured out how to display them on my bedside table yet, but I'll think of something.

A happy memento of my trip...
And now to the food...

The Aldi store is stocking lots of yummy pumpkin flavored products this time of year.  I decided to try out the pumpkin spice cookie mix, which is about $1.50 per bag.  My 11 year old daughter made up two packages and baked them on pizza pans (one package per pan) for mega cookies.  She cut them in to big wedges and served them warm with whipped topping.  We'll definitely be buying more of these this season!  They are like pumpkin pie that you can eat with your hand.

Delicious pumpkin spice cookie with whipped cream!

I bought these plastic plates, some in burgundy
and some in dark green, at Dollar General.
They were four for $1 and I bought 20.
Our large family used them now for snacks and lunches,
and they'll be great for serving desserts to a crowd
at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

My dear friend and fellow blogger Tonya Travelstead invited me over for breakfast this morning.  She made premium oatmeal cooked with apple chunks and drizzled with honey.  She also served hot chocolate and apple wedges.  Delicious, healthy, and so perfect for an autumn breakfast!

Tonya loves hospitality and sets a gorgeous table.

Oatmeal made with steel cut oats
- I love the hearty texture!
Tonya wrote this on her blog:
Healthy Eating: Steel Cut Oats
She says they are usually about $4 per container,
but they Aldi carries them seasonally for about $2.
I'll be looking for them!
Of course what I like most about breakfast with Tonya... is Tonya!  I think I've known her for almost 30 years and she's a real sweetheart!  We used to walk together a few times a week and I think I need to start joining her again. (See Meeting Halfway.) Another thing I like about Tonya is that she is a wealth of information about saving money, making a cozy  home, showing hospitality, and loving God and family well. You will love her blog Mrs. T's Thoughts from a Titus 2  She and I both shop at Aldi and write about it.  Her blog series is at Tonya's Aldi Product Reviews and mine is at Groceries from Aldi.

Like food?  I've got a whole bunch of recipes on my blogs.  These are perfect for autumn and the holidays:

In case you missed them, I also have some posts on my main blog from my trip to Maryland last weekend with my oldest daughter and two grandsons.  Real autumn colors on the trees!  Take a peek...

  • To Grandmother's House (And a Petting Zoo) We Go

  • Apple Picking, Fritters, and Goofy Gourds at Larriland Farm
  • Beauty and Diversity on an Autumn Sunday in Maryland

  • I'm so glad I took this trip because not only did I get to see my family in Maryland, and help my daughter travel with her little guys, but I also had special time bonding with my grandsons.  The two year old sweetie actually told me, "Grandma, I love you!" for the first time, and my daughter just texted to tell me that he had called me his "honey" -- probably during his bedtime prayers!  Awww!  He melts my heart!

    I guess that's all for now! A happy autumn to you and yours!  If you have written about autumn on your blog, leave your link in a comment so the rest of us can enjoy it!

    This post will be linked to:

    Wednesday, October 3, 2012

    Turning Angst into a Clean Closet

    Dear friends,

    Yesterday, feeling cranky / tired / anti-social / generally ruthless, I decided I needed a feeling of accomplishment to perk up my day.  I turned my angst into a clean closet.  

    I got rid of a lot of stuff: threw it away, shuffled it to other places in the the house, offered it to my kids.  I pulled all of the big storage bins out so I could vacuum the carpet and wipe down the dusty baseboards.  I hung up some of my "winter" clothes even though it is still pretty warm here in Orlando.

    There is no way I am showing you "before" pictures.  It was just that bad, trust me. But now, here, the "after" pics:

    Almost my entire daytime autumn wardrobe,
    dressy and casual, warm and cool.
    The clothes are sorted by type:
    dresses, pants, skirts, long sleeve shirts,
    short sleeve shirts, capris.
    The short sleeve shirts are sorted by and color.
    On the foor, one bin holds extra clothes,
    while the others store old journals and notebooks.
    I removed a large bin of old Christian and classical LP records,
    but I'm not sure what I'm going to do with them.

    A large tote bag, holding my favorite smaller totes,
    hangs from the closet rod.

    The two pairs of shoes I wear most often are on the floor.
    The others are in the space left from
    a missing bottom dresser drawer.

    I have two dressers to hold undergarments,
    accessories, pajamas, vintage linens, and more.
    I like to keep my nicnacs on top of one of them.
    The closet shelf above holds framed pictures
    not currently on display.

    I bought this tile in Israel over 30 years ago for my mom.
    She gave it back to me recently.
    I display it on a small plate holder.

    A small blue stained glass box with wise words:
    "Wisdom that comes from heaven is pure,
    considerate, full of mercy, and sincere."
    James 3:17 - One of my favorite verses!

    Bins and boxes of this and that -- like sewing supplies and
    master copies of book manuscripts.
    The large gift bag holds smaller gift bags and tissue paper,
    which we always reuse.

    Bins of extra toiletries on the shelf.

    Cleaning supplies up out of the reach of our grandchildren.
    Sturdy hooks for towels and 
    my current pair of pajamas
    (I use each several times in a row.)

    I found the massaging foot baths --
    one in the back of the closet
    and the other in our storage room.
    Last night, my husband filled them with hot water and
    lavendar epsom salt for "his and hers" foot spa 

    and we listened to James Taylor's 
    "Shower the People You Love with Love"
     on my iPod while we relaxed.

    Another find: an old cassette / CD player
    and some kids story tapes --
    enough to keep a little girl 
    busy and out of the way while Mommy worked.
    It's so good to have a clean closet, especially since I'll be out of town for four days and my husband can enjoy the tidiness in my absence.  And when I come home again, I won't have to face it!   I'm flying up to Maryland on Friday morning with my oldest daughter and her two little boys (baby and two year old) so they can meet their great-great-grandma for the first time.  I'm sure the flights will be a little easier with an extra pair of hands, right?  A good reason to tag along on the trip, yes?  That's my story and I'm sticking to it. (I'm thankful for my husband holding the fort while I'm gone!)  We're also celebrating my mom's birthday with a gourmet meal lovingly prepared by my extraordinary sister-in-law Dana. I'm hoping for some beautiful autumn leaves, even though it's supposed to be pretty warm this weekend.  At any rate, I think apple picking and a pumpkin patch are on the agenda!  Note on 10/11/12/: We had such a lovely time.  You can see my photo posts here: 

  • To Grandmother's House (And a Petting Zoo) We Go

  • Five Generations

  • Apple Picking, Fritters, and Goofy Gourds at Larriland Farm

  • Gourmet Main Dishes: Shrimp Bisque {and} Salt Crusted Roast Beef with Mushrooms

  • Beauty and Diversity on an Autumn Sunday in Maryland

  • "Love Lifted Me" and a Few More Memories of Maryland

  • Grace,
    Virginia Knowles

    P.S. More posts and other web sites on home organization:

    My posts:

  • A Place for Everything
  • Organizing and Laundering Your Linens
  • A Desk for Mom (Featuring Habitat for Humanity)

  • Household Organization: Clutter, Clothes Storage and Chores
  • Organizing with Plastic Zip-Style Bags at Home and On the Go
  • "Bin There, Done That" (Or How to Keep School Clutter from Turning You Into a Basketcase)

  • Other sites:
    Organizing Made Fun