Coffee candles and bad apples

breakfast  Good morning and welcome to breakfast with Becky! (No, I’m not really that peppy or even that awake yet, but the fruit/granola/yogurt mixture will fix that up for me in just a little bit…well, that and the smell of coffee…but I’ll get to that in a little bit.)

I’ve read  at least 3 different blogs within the past 24 hours that apologized for their lengthy absence and vowed to try to do better. I guess this at least means I’ve got a club I can join…if I were the club-joining type.

The fact of the matter is this: life is sometimes hard and messy and complicated and busy and as much as I would love to blog every single day, there simply isn’t enough time to do that. Sometimes there is time, but there aren’t words that will go into an order that won’t alarm the general populace or make any sense to me, much less to those of you who meet me here. Sometimes, silence really is golden…and necessary.

Right now, I’m typing this on a desk that is so pile-filled with paperwork that I’m actually having to steady the keyboard and I’m using the back-button A LOT so that typos won’t drive us all to distraction. I’d move the piles, but then I’d have to start over and reset them later today and so, for now, this will have to do.

Our week started off with a trip to the ER. We left our house before 9:30 AM on Sunday morning and arrived back home just a bit before 1 AM on Monday. We are blessed. God provided up to and including chairs that were far out into the waiting room hall so that we weren’t surrounded (read TRAPPED!) in the midst of all the flu victims as we waited for my husband to get his turn for medical care and his issue should be able to resolved without further invasion. Unfortunately, the start to this week has felt a lot like the last couple of months and yet, I know it still…God is good.

My husband has returned to work and is, even now, being used of God to provide for us and I am grateful. I’m also grateful for those who have checked on us and prayed for us and loved on us in all manner of ways. I’m particularly grateful for my friends Kelley and Marsha, who have been so diligent to check on ME as well as my sweet hubby and join him in a united insistence that I take some time for myself…so I’m blogging about it. This is my ME time for today.

Yesterday was quiet and I was under specific orders from my husband to take some time to rest, so I turned on the TV to listen to old NCIS reruns (love that show!) while I cleaned out kitchen cabinets and linen closets and did laundry and bathroom chores…in my nightclothes…until 4 pm. It was great. Not, perhaps, YOUR idea of a day off, but the normalcy of it (although I do not generally do these things in my nightwear!) was a balm straight from Gilead to my soul. The ordering of life in small doses and the putting right that which has need of order is spectacularly gratifying when so much is beyond your control.

Anyway, as I sorted and assembled piles for throw away and take away/donate yesterday, I decided I’d use the new-to-me-but-really-actually-from-the-1930s/40s glass coffee container in my kitchen. I’ll post a picture of it later, but, for now, just know it is really cool. The problem is that we aren’t really big coffee drinkers. Friends and family generally bring their own stuff when they come because we’re more a juice/water/milk household here…but this jar was too cool to leave where I found it, so I brought it home. I cleaned it up and started looking for coffee to put in it. I found some, but it was pretty evident that I’d had it awhile (think: it moved from MS with me over a year ago now old!) and so I searched on. There in the back of the cabinet was a brand new unopened bag of coffee…with ancoffee candle bad apple expiration date that had passed several months ago. Well. What to do now? I wouldn’t want to drink it, but it still smelled amazing, so I made a quick decision and grabbed a vase and a candle from the back porch stash. I poured the coffee into the vase and set the candle in on top and voila! I now have an amazing coffee-candle-vase-thing that looks great and smells heavenly. It was such a pleasure to walk out this morning and inhale that wonderful aroma that I almost understand all of you people who can’t seem to start your day without drinking a cup…or twelve (yes, I also have those friends.)

 I took a photo for you to see and I really wish we had smell-o-vision for this one because it would be great! I downloaded the picture and then I noticed it…one of my apples has a bad spot on it. UGH! Well, in the interest of making the post pretty and, of course, making all of you think that I’m still that person who has it all together (HA!!) I ran back out of the room to rearrange the fruit and took another photo (see it over there? It’s the second one that looks almost like the first one!), because, seriously who wants such a great  celebration of my totally unexpectedly great coffee crafty thing to be ruined by a bad apple?! And then I started laughing at myself, because truly…who cares? The coffee candle crafty thing still smells amazing and this just tells me that I’ll be cutting off the bad spot and adding in a few others to make a nice baked apple side for supper tonight. How terrible can that be? The house will smell like coffee and baked apples tonight and all will be well…because here’s the lesson of the day:

God is good even to those of us who are control freaks. He is good to those of us who are tired and in desperate need of normal days where something–anything, please!–goes like we planned it. He is good to those of us who look like we have it all together, but really know it’s all in how you arrange your fruit and take your shot. He is good to those who will know what I’m talking about and to those who have no idea and to those who will think I’ve finally and truly lost it this time. God is just good.

 

 

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Apple Festival Oddities

Several weeks ago we were in North Carolina for a business trip.  We chose to drive instead of fly so that we could make several stops on the way home to spend time with family.  As part of that weekend family fun, we went to a local apple festival.  It was a whole-county type of event and had all the things you’d imagine a small town festival to have.

There was a section for local arts and crafts that took up most of the downtown main street area.  There was the inevitable ring of food vendors from all of the local churches and civic groups that surrounded the town square.  They sold everything from vinegar BBQ to hot chocolate…not an appetizing combination there, but you get my drift.  There were 3 stages to showcase the local talent.  (My brother-in-law’s band played on one of them and did a fantastic job!)  There were displays to sign people up to vote and a beekeeper informational booth complete with marked queen bees, a floral display booth,  exotic plant and vegetable vendors and, of course, more apples than the entire group of festival attendees could have consumed during a whole month.  Those were the things I expected to see…totally normal.

One of the things I didn’t see was a lot of dogs on leashes.  It’s one of the things I had actually expected to see since they’re almost everywhere these days.  You know, the tiny “designer” dog on a flashy leash…yes, even here in Mississippi these are quite common.  We also get our fair share of ‘regular’ working dogs out on leashes in Mississippi, as well…but not at this festival.  In fact, these North Carolina folks had signs that made it quite clear that dogs–leashed or otherwise–weren’t to be brought into the festival area at all.  Naturally, there were a few rebels, but they were very few, indeed.  I even saw one policeman actually encourage one intrepid owner with properly attached pet to move right on out of the area ASAP.  Seriously, even the display advertising a local pet sitting/grooming business didn’t have live animals…they had stuffed animals in their pens/cages.  I’d never seen anything like that in my life!  I am an animal lover with 3 cats and I even stock treats for the neighborhood dog who has adopted our whole street, but crowded places aren’t always the best places for people with animals, you know, so I could totally understand their ban on pooches for the day.  It was a bit unusual..but still within the outer limits of normal…I guess. 

Across from the pens with the stuffed animals was an enclosure with a couple of live animals.  Alpacas.  Two of them…named Pebbles and BamBam.  Cute and cuddly looking with bits of straw poking out of their  mouths.  It kind of made them look like hillbilly alpacas.  Hillbilly alpacas named Pebbles and BamBam.  Now, that‘s something you don’t see every day, either.  Definitely not normal, but really cool, nonetheless.

What I was considerably less prepared to see, however, emerged from some trees and came down the hill just behind the hillbilly alpacas…a man walking his camel.  Yes, you read that right.  A man came walking down the hill with a camel on a leash.  Suddenly the ban on dogs seemed a lot more reasonable.  I mean, really, how could they possibly compete with a camel?!  Oh, how I wished for the camera!  Alas, my husband was in possession of it and somewhere down the street.  You would have loved that shot!  It was absolutely fabulous!  Since that photo now exists only in my mind, you’ll have to do with the one that came later, but trust me, you wouldn’t have been disappointed, either.  A camel at an apple festival…Definitely NOT normal.  In fact, downright ODD, but still really, really cool!

You just never know what entertainment God is going to put in front of you, do you?!  The main thing is to be on the lookout for the fun.  Have a sense of anticipation as you go through life!  It makes life so much easier on you and on those around you–and God knows there are plenty of people who are already on the lookout for the negative.  Buck the trend!  Choose joy today!

Oh!  One more thing:  at the risk of offending the entire state of North Carolina…whether or not you see a camel at your next apple festival…seriously…avoid the vinegar BBQ!  Come see us in Mississippi…and we’ll show you how it’s really supposed to be done. (great big grin.)

 

*all photos by Mike or Becky Childs

Dreams, Apples and Don Corleone

The last time we were in the mountains my husband and I spotted a house near the end of the main shopping street in Blue Ridge, GA.  Apparently, it used to be an antique shop a long time ago, but at the time it was empty and starting to age.  It had peeling paint all along the street side and we knew it would need a LOT of love to be viable.  We loved the lines of the architecture and started dreaming about how great it would be to own it and convert the basement area into a shop with living quarters above the street level.

Imagine our delight when we arrived back in the same area this year and saw that someone else had apparently seen the same possibilities…and fortunately for them, had the cash to make the dream come true!  The street-level basement had a newly set rock front and the upper levels were in the process of their own beauty make-over.  When completed, it will be absolutely gorgeous!

And then I saw the name on the glass windows of the street level shop:  Blue Ridge Olive Oil Company.  Now, I have to tell you that my mind immediately went to Francis Ford Coppola’s classic movie “The Godfather” and I almost laughed out loud at my mental image of Don Corleone with a Southern/Appalachian accent.  I mean, really, that’s pretty funny stuff!  I’m a fan of that particular movie, so my brain had all kinds of dialogue to work with right there on the spot!  Fortunately for my husband, I kept all that brilliant humor to myself so I could go inside and explore.

It was fabulous!  In addition to their great selection of olive oils from various locations, they also had oils that have been infused with additional flavors.  As another bonus, they also carry a wide selection of both dark and light balsamic vinegars.  We picked out some olive oil and some Blackberry Ginger Dark vinegar and a bottle of Cranberry Pear White balsamic vinegar.  I’ve already opened and used the Blackberry Ginger balsamic on some baked herb chicken since we returned home and all I can say is…I’m really happy that the new owners got to realize the dream first.

(They’re still brand new—their official opening day was the day AFTER we were there!—but if you’re interested, you can find out more about them at www.BlueRidgeOliveOil.com   My recommendation for the Blackberry Ginger Balsamic vinegar stands!)

And in case you’re in need of a new favorite apple, let me recommend the Limbertwigs variety—another food discovery on the family trip to the mountains.  Limbertwigs—gotta love the name!—are crisp with a great mix of tart and sweet and they are very juicy!  I think the Pink Lady apples may have to move to 2nd place on my list for this year.