Sunday, August 29, 2010

What to say?

I started my new job last Monday -- I've never been so excited or so terrified in my life. We spent all day Monday reading government policies, all Tuesday playing with Monopoly money... and Wednesday!

I think my heart stopped for a minute or two when the girl training me handed me $10,000 -- cash -- with a smile and a "Here!" Then my first deposit came in for a local business and the numbers went so high I can't even remember them. Working in a bank is going to take some getting used to.

The people I work with are all in my age range, give or take 3 years. Everyone's super nice and I'm looking forward to making new friends. Hopefully it'll lead to some good witnessing opportunities as well -- we spent a lot of our downtime talking about our lives and experiences. I already got to talk a little bit about our trip to Africa. Everyone is very real to themselves -- no fakeness, polite but not concerned about "political correctness." It's a nice change of pace to the school environment which was either straight PC or total lewdness with any middle-ground thoughts being completely ignored.

The only other thing that's new in Prestonland is we've found the house we want. I can't tell you details for fear of jinxing it! But if you're feeling generous, lift a prayer for us this week as we hopefully go into contract, escrow, down payments and inspections. I really want this home :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

New Beginnings

I've always loved August. The sun rises a little later... sets a little earlier... evenings are a *tiny* bit cooler... the first "Fall Storm" (mmm... popcorn and novels, with the sound of rain beating the windows)... back to school shopping...

Wait a minute! I didn't have to do that this year, for the very very first time in literally 20 years -- 2 years of preschool, 1 kindergarten, 12 grade school, 5 college. I'm a nerd. I always waited all summer for school to start again. I begged my parents for workbooks and educational summer camps (our district only offered remedial summer school, not enrichment). The night before the first day was almost more exciting than Christmas, knowing my backpack was filled with crisp notebooks and freshly sharpened pencils, with a pretty new outfit waiting for the first morning's light. Once I hit college I took classes every summer.

I think I'm going through withdrawl. I actually got a little teary-eyed at the site of a bus yesterday morning.

But life at the Preston's is never boring. I started my first "grown up" job on Monday morning -- I'm officially a bank teller at a local bank here in town! Monday we read all about how to do the job, Tuesday we played with Monopoly money, and today! Today I actually get out of the back room and onto the teller counter with real customers and real money! It's almost as good as going back to school (but only almost). I do get the pretty new outfit laid out, even if the backpack is missing.

It's a strange transition, all the sudden feeling like an adult. Working 5 days a week (but only 30 hours), staying on top of the house, continuing my volunteer postions. About that -- I got my group assignment for the Bible study class where I volunteer. I'm a group leader this year. All of my ladies are in their 30s - 70s: I'm more than a decade younger than my youngest class member! I know it's God-ordained and He wouldn't set me up to fail, but the words of Nickie Gumbel are ringing in my ears: He explained that when HE thought he was ready for a certain appointment within the Church of England, GOD knew that he still had a long way to go. It was only when Nickie began to doubt his own abilities that God had room to work. I very much feel the same way.

Add to that our search for a new house, with all the "grown up" stuff that comes with that (can anyone say 'mortgage'?)... I'm going through a bit of a culture shock.

And all I can think of is Paul:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect
in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so
that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in
weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when
I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

May God bless you all this August, no matter what paths you may be starting!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Trim Dilemma -- HELP!

I've nearly completed the bodice on my sheer dress. It's turning out really pretty. This is probably the first project I've entirely draped, instead of drafted. I love drafting... draping is quite a change of pace. I haven't decided yet if I like it... it kind of makes me nervous to throw a piece of fabric up on my dress form, add a couple pins, and start cutting away. It's been working alright so far -- I brought the back up a little too far, but it'll be easily fixable with a waist band.
Now, my dilemma... I am scared to death of trim. If you haven't noticed, all of my gowns are fairly simple. No lace... maybe a pintuck here or there... no ruffles. I'm frightened of trimming things wrong, so I just never trim at all. That leaves a very unfinished sort of look -- especially on this glamourous sheer gown! SO! I need your opinion!
This is the original:

I think I've already decided the elbow flounces are too much for me. Too out of my comfort zone. But I definately want to do that band around the yoke -- there's a matching one at about mid-calf on the skirt, too, which I'd love to include. Here's where I need your opinion. Lace trim? Or self-fabric flounces?

The trim has the benefit of being finished and just needing stitched on -- a valid concernt 2 days before the event. And the blue ribbon running through it matches PERFECTLY. However, it's polyester, and more attention getting. A self-fabric flounce matches with the original better... and requires much more work. I couldn't find a tiny edging lace like the original uses when I was at the store yesterday, so I'd have to hem. But it may be worth it... I'm at a total loss and am going to put the bodice aside until I get some feedback! The agony of wanting to be right!

So, PLEASE! Which do you prefer? Fabric, or lace?!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Adventures in Preston-Land

We're doing something this week that I NEVER in a MILLION YEARS thought we'd be doing -- at least, not yet. I thought you had to be at least 30... and rich... or something, before anyone would even take you seriously. But NO! Even humble little us has a chance at this. Guessed what it is yet?

We're house hunting!

Looking at important things, like where the dryer vents.

I'm a numbers girl. I've always loved math. As a grown-up, I don't get to do nearly as much math as I did when I was in school. Sometimes, I come up with math projects for me to do just for entertainment value (I'm broken and have come to terms with this...). Well, earlier this month I did a cost-benefit analysis of renting vs. owning the place that we live. You know what I found? We can save over $100 a month by purchasing a home with the exact same floor plan we're living in now! And, I can paint! And, we can do whatever we want to the yard. And, and, and! I'm almost beside myself with excitement.

We've toured 6 homes so far. One was a real gem and we were about to put money on it, but then noticed some issues we weren't comfortable with having to refinish right away (**shudder** mold...). There's another list of 3 or so we'll be seeing tomorrow evening. The photographs look really promising and I can't wait to get in there!

Blogging may be scarce over the next few weeks as we pursue this adventure. I also start my new job as a bank teller first thing Monday morning. But never fear, I'll pop in for some excitement as able!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sheer Dress

I'm at it again: Dress #2 for Civil War reenacting! This time, I'm making a sheer... since it is August and so steamy hot. This is what I plan on remaking:

It's an original found on, in the sheer dress section. It's so, slo lovely. I'm using a pretty blue floral print dear Sarah Jane from Romantic History passed on to me. It may not show off quite as nicely as the polka dots, but I can't resist the pretty yoked look! It seems nice and cool for the summer, too. Now... *sigh* all I have to do is get started. I've GOT to stop procrastinating!

Making Summer Last

Summer is my favorite time of year. I need sunshine... I need warmth... I absolutely need fresh veggies growing right outside my door! Alas, this wonderful, beautiful season can't last. Even if I can't keep the sunshine and the warmth, I CAN keep the veggies -- at least in some form!

I took a few days off of the garden this week. We were traveling (surprise! When are we not?) to go send my sister off to college, in addition to all our normal busyness. Well, even though I was on break, the garden clearly was not. I went out this morning to find a frightening amount of food that needed picked now. Until today, we've had a handful here, a basket there... just enough to throw into that particular day's meals. Not so anymore.

The dehydrator is running with 3 yellow squash and a couple (ridiculously massive) zuccini. Whenever I tell people I dry zuccini, they say, "I didn't know you could do that." I'm not sure if you're supposed to... but I did it last year and am doing it again. Zuccini chips are yummy on their own with a bit of ranch dip, and they're super easy to throw into a soup at the last minute. In fact, the plan for these ones is to make dried soup mixes for my sister -- she's moving out of the dorms and into her first apartment this week!

Green beans are getting blanched then frozen. I thought about canning them since my freezer space is at such a premium, but there are 2 very good reasons not to do that:
  1. I don't have a pressure canner, so it wouldn't be safe (according to various sources that may be overly cautious)
  2. I HATE canned green beans. Too mushy.

So freezing is the only option! I had a good 1/2 gallon freezer bag full and there will be many, many more in the coming days. I was afraid a few days ago because my neighbor had already put up pounds and pounds of beans. He's already ripped his plants out and replanted that area while I'd only brought in a few small, sad handfuls. Mine were just a couple days behind, it seems! I worried too soon.

I'm still waiting on tomatoes. They're being pokey. Maybe next week :)

PS: Yes, that is my teapot there, matching the green beans. I don't think I could survive without tea.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hot Pepper Jelly

What's a girl to do when the jalapano bushes are overwhelming me, and the tomatoes are just starting to hint at red? Salsa isn't an option until the tomatoes come in... there's already several jars of peppers put up... every square inch of the freezer is dedicated to something else...

Hot. Pepper. Jelly.

I saw this recipe in one of my cookbooks and went "ew." I saw it again in a different cookbook at the library and became curious. THEN I saw it on the back of the pectin box when I went to the store. With an abundance of peppers and a good sense of humor, I decided to try it. What's the harm?

It's WONDERFUL stuff, so you know. And attractive to boot. We've already eaten an entire jar (half-pint) with crackers and cream cheese. I fully intend on making more soon for my Christmas baskets.

Here's the recipe:

  • 6 jalapanos, chopped. Remove seeds if heat is a problem. I removed about 1/2, left about 1/2.
  • 1 cup white vinegar. The recipe called for CIDER vinegar but I didn't have any, and didn't miss it either.
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 packet liquid fruit pectin

Put the peppers in the blender with 1/2 c vinegar. Blend until smooth. You can see in the picture that I left mine kinda chunky for visuals -- do as you please.

Pour the pepper mixture into a pot and add the rest of the vinegar. Add the sugar. Boil for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. At this point, I added a few drops of green food coloring to brighten the color. The peppers make it a kinda pea-soup green and I wanted gemstones!

After 10 minutes, remove from heat. Stir in pectin. Return to heat and boil hard 1min. Fill and seal jars -- 1/4 in headspace, 10 min processing in a hot water canner. Makes about 3 cups of jelly.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Back Online!

I've learned an important lesson about antivirus software for my computer: in short, have it. Things were a jumbled mess, but blessedly we have friends who are good at stuff like that. I just had to wait until they were available to fix it!

But, I've been cleaned out, rebooted, loaded with protection, and am back online. I believe I have 35 blog posts I've missed reading since last week, plus countless Facebook thingies that I don't think I care enough to sort through. I never realized how addicted to the internet I was.

I'm glad I went computer-less for a few days. They were rough days... my husband checked my email for me at work and called to tell me what it said... but I also got a lot done. Like jars of hot pepper jelly. Vacuuming. Every piece of laundry in the house. More than one novel. I clearly see that it's time to set limits on my 'net use. We'll see how it all plays out.

*sigh* It just feels so good to type away again!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Forced Computer Fast

Well, friends, it's finally happened: I've been tempting fate without an antivirus software on my computer for a few months... and yesterday one found me. I was faced with 2 painful options: pay $200 to have someone fix it, or wait until Monday when a friend of mine can do it for free. As anyone living on a budget knows, I don't need my computer $200 badly. I can wait.

So, God willing, it's a quick and easy fix once my friend gets ahold of my system. In the mean time, I'll sneak off to the library when I can, and catch you all next week!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Waiting with Grace

My Dearly Beloved and I have been married for 2 years -- today! These have been two of the best years of my life, growing closer to each other and to God together. Every day is a new adventure. We've had so much joy, as well as sharing so much pain.

You see, we thought we'd have a child long before now. God willing, we'd be working on #2. But alas, that wasn't our Lord's plan -- I'm still not sure what his plan is. We're waiting.

Waiting hasn't been good for my heart. I'm an impatient person by nature, wanting things now, now, now! I tend to waste my time, because "what if!" this month is the lucky one. I hesitate to commit to anything, because "what if!" After a lot of prayer and conversation, we've decided that I should pursue a part-time job so that I can use our waiting time productively.

It's not a decision come to lightly, but it is the right one -- for our family, and for my heart. See, I've been beating myself up that what we wanted hasn't happened yet. Obviously, I'm doing something wrong (says that naggy little voice inside my head). I don't believe that is the case -- rather, for whatever reason, God has called us to wait. So wait we shall.

But in the mean time, I'll be busy paying down our debts, meeting new people, perhaps even pointing them towards faith. I'll be out in the world where I can make an impact, until my most important job of raising a family comes along (at which point I'll be making an impact with them!). Life is a journey that we can't control. Thankfully there is a God who does!

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Takeing every step in obedience
While I'm waiting
I will serve You
While I'm waiting
I will worship
While I'm waiting
I will not faint
I'll be running the race
Even while I wait

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it's not easy
But faithfully, I will wait
Yes, I will wait

I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve you while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting on You, Lord
John Waller, While I'm Waiting, from the Fireproof soundtract, has been a constant comfort to me over the past weeks. I play this song on repeat because it reminds me of the Who who knows.