Monday, November 24, 2014

Wacky Cake & buttercream frosting Recipe::November 24

Preheat oven to 350*

Sift together:
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3 TBS cocoa
2 tsp soda
1 tsp salt

Add:
10 TBS cooking oil (1/2 cup + 2 TBS)
2 TBS vinegar
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups cold water

Mix well. Bake in a 9" x 13" cake pan for 35 minutes.

This is one of my favorite cakes! I usually frost it with homemade buttercream frosting:

3 cups powdered sugar
2 or 3 TBS butter or margarine (your preference)
(2 TBS cocoa powder if chocolate is desired)
1 tsp vanilla
add milk to desired consistency (add 1 TBS at a time & check consistency - if it gets too thin, add a little more powdered sugar)

Mix together until thoroughly creamed. Add milk 1 TBS at a time and blend in between until you get desired consistency (about the consistency of toothpaste)

♥ Melody

Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.::November 24

Over the weekend, I pondered on the words that Severus Snape said to Harry Potter as he was dying. "Look...at...me..." Harry caught up the silver strands of memories dripping from Snape, stored it, and later looked at in it Dumbledore's pensieve. Before that moment, no one had ever truly seen Snape - his childhood, his young adult life, and later his adult life as a double agent. He was a misunderstood soul right up to the end. "Look...at...me" The real me, the me I was when no one else was around.

In _Speaker of the Dead_, Ender learns all of the dead person's life, the good, the bad, the ugly, and then tells it as it is, without apology or embarrassment.

There is something so profound about the simple thought to, "Look at me." To see the great whole.

I have been interested in such things since I was at least 11. I remember asking my mother to come outside and talk to me. As she gathered up her cigarettes, lighter and her glass of water, I ran outside and got 2 camping chairs and set them up. When she came outside, I asked her to sit down (very proper, I was) and then proceeded to ask her to tell me about herself. (What child does that?!) But it was important to me. It still is. I love to discover things about people that explains why they believe the way they do and do what they do. People are complex, and an event that happened 30 years before could be haunting or inspiring them still.

Yesterday in church, one of my growing up moments flashed back to me. When I heard the words “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him," I lit up. This was one of the first places that I discovered God; one of the first time that I ever read scripture on my own. It took me back to the summer of 1985, back to the very beginning of my spiritual awakening. Up to that point: I prayed. Sometimes. I had faith in God. When my mom reminded me.

That summer when we were at family reunion, I found my dad's Bible in the camping trailer and I took it outside, sat down on a camping chair, and opened the Bible to Matthew 25 purely by chance. My dad happened to walk by (I think he'd been fishing, but I'm not positive) and asked what I was reading. "The Bible," I answered. "Why? Are you that damn bored?" was his response. LOL :) My dad wasn't much of a religious man until later on - about '99 is what I'm remembering. We all have our own spiritual awakenings happen exactly when we're ready for them.

My dad didn't hang around, but came and left fairly quickly and I got back to reading.

34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

That passage hit me so hard! It resonated with me on a level that I didn't yet understand. I was so excited that I shared it with my step-sister Jalene; it didn't resonate with her like it did me. I had found a treasure.

That passage sums up how I feel about religion more than any other. Heck, it sums up life more than any other!

A stranger. A prisoner. Naked. Sound like someone that we want to walk right up to and take care of? No, that's why so many don't. Me included, many times. It is uncomfortable. It is scary. It isn't what is done. But it is what is asked.

Over the weekend I've thought of my vows for eternity. It feels like a secure place to be, after you are part of a ceremony that ties up your eternity with pretty bows and ribbons. But into my mind comes the other thoughts. The ones where LGBTQ are tolerated, and even loved and accepted as long as they don't act on their gayness. Where women can be separate but equal; if they are loud about wanting to just be "equal", they will be "counseled with love" and if they don't back down, they will be stripped of their eternal salvation - their family ties broken, their covenants as though they never existed...

In church on Sunday, a couple sat in front of me. Two men. I always see them together at church. Are they just friends? During the offering of the Peace, they hugged. Hugging is typically what husbands and wives do during this part of the service (though I'm sure some people are huggers with others). Huh. Cool. People saw them hug. I'm sure the priest has seen them hug before. I assume that they are together. I assume that others assume the same thing. And the people came and shook their hands and smiled at them anyway. That isn't part of what the Master hung salvation on in that passage: smiling and shaking hands with two gay men, but in my head it applies.

After a week of thoughtfulness, melancholy, anger, frustration, I was at the pinnacle of my own belief system: God insists that we love each other as ourselves. He insists that we show kindness and mercy. He insists that it is important, even if it is uncomfortable, scary, or against societal norms. When asked what the great commandment was, Jesus answered,
(Matthew 22)

37 ...Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38 This is the first and great commandment.

39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Although it is simple, it is not easy.

In church yesterday, I saw this happen. I witnessed it with my own eyes. It made my heart full.
♥ Melody

P.S.(And I sat in front of the stained glass window again. My day is made so much "gladder" when my program, Book of Common Prayer, and Hymn book reflects the colors of those windows :) )

P.S.S. As I read this over again, I realize that the first part about Snape, about Ender, and about my mom seem a mash up, but really, this new awakening I'm having, this metamorphic journey that I'm on, is a part of me that feels very vulnerable. It feels like the dream where I show up to school in my pajamas. Because there are many who will be saddened or upset that I'm looking at things in new ways that don't go along with the old, I feel like I should hide and keep quiet. But there is a part of me that wants you to "Look at me" long before I'm gone, unlike Snape.

I've heard that the only way to live wholeheartedly is to be vulnerable. To live as honest and open a life as you can. I agree. To live in fear of how others will view you, to keep those things hidden away attracts the things that live in the dark: fear, guilt, and shame. I have no desire to live that way. Also, for the most part, I really love the journey I'm on. It is hard and uncomfortable sometimes, but I wouldn't trade it. And I'm so thankful to the Lord for shining light on my pathway as I walk along.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Catching up a bit::November 17

This autumn has been a whirlwind of photoshoots. It is great for the money and for reuniting with friends for an hour or two as I photograph them and/or their family members.

It is also good for honing photoshop editing skills and learning to see subtle color differences.

I have one more shoot for my friend's preschool/daycare to do before Christmas and then one pending sometime that a neighborhood senior is ready to do her winter shoot - she is breaking the long session in half and did part in the fall and will do part mid-winter b/c she loves the show. :)

I just did a session for a guy I used to babysit as an older child. It was amazing to see that he's all grown up with a wife and children of his own :)

* * * * * * *

This season has also been one of spiritual rediscovery. I am looking at myself and God a bit differently than I have in the past. The biggest difference, I'd say, is that I'm learning to trust in His constant care, trusting Him to catch me when I fall, trusting Him to take the things I have no control over (but He does), trusting Him to light my way.

I have seen the truth in the scripture in Proverbs 22:6 that says, "Train up a child in the way he/she should go, and when he/she is old, he/she will not depart from it." I am indeed going back to what I know from my youth: That God loves me, that He will take care of me, and that I am safe in His care. That is a good place to go back to - everything else is gravy.

In the past few months, I have sifted through all of my beliefs and turned them over and over, looking at all sides. It has been an interesting place to be. At first it was painful, but now it has turned into a peace.

* * * * * * *

On Saturday, the day of a photoshoot, the thought of a walking foot attachment for my sewing machine kept filling a place in my thoughts without ever going away or being subdued. I decided that after the shoot, I'd go to the Bernina store and buy one. I was not expecting how expensive they were! I thought it would be about $90 - I was not expecting the cost of $119.99 on a 25% off sale! Whew! But the cashier told me that this was the lowest price they would ever be and that I was lucky I'd come in that day, because that is when they'd received their shipment - many people were waiting for that shipment b/c they had been out for a lot of the week. The sun, moon, and stars seemed to align for me and I almost walked away from it - almost. But I thought of how the thought of it had preyed on my mind all morning. I thought of all of the things that had worked in my favor: the sale, the shipment... I took it as a message/gift from God, and I bought the walking foot.

Now I can finish up the quilting projects I haven't been able to in the past b/c of the lack of that accessory. I can make the potholders that I've longed to make for years, and actually tried a few years ago, only to see the potholder pucker and twist. I have a lot of work to do and lost time to make up for! :)

* * * * * * *

I have another project that needs to be done ASAP also: sanding and refinishing my wood floors. They have intimidated me since we moved in 11 years ago, and they are in desperate need of care! At this point, I figure that I can't make them look any worse than they already do! ;) I paid Matt to move the bookshelves out of the dining room for me. I asked Steve and Josh to move the buffet out. And on Sunday, I roped Steve into helping me move the computer table out also. So I have no more excuses, except that I need a huge sheet of plastic and some tape to section off the dining room from the living room to protect the furniture from sawdust when I sand the floors. Where is my Daniel-san, like Mr. Miyagi had for his deck, when I need him?! ;)

* * * * * * *

Anyway, so hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to work I go. Perhaps if I find the fun in the work the job will be a game? Too bad the woodland creatures can help me...

Okay, okay enough with the fairy tale references; I'll go get to work now! Make it a wonderful day!
♥ Melody