Saturday, February 19, 2011

100 Things About Me ~

1. I do and always have loved puppies, any shape, size, breed. I love them.
2. I love daisies more than any other flower. I think it is the simplicity of them.
3. I have a scar on my chin from when a highchair fell on top of me and knocked me to the ground when I was a baby.
4. Some smells give me a headache in a matter of moments.
5. The first car that was mine was a Geo Metro and we once fit 7 people in it. For real.
6. I love potatoes.
7. I don’t like fish, lobster, squid, naked shrimp, scallops, or anything of the sort. Crablegs are good with enough butter
8. It takes a lot of will power for me to eat pork chops
9. I have a tattoo of a ladybug beside my belly button.
10. When I was little my dad used to tickle me until I couldn’t breathe.
11. I have a very low pain tolerance, both physically and emotionally.
12. I’m terrified of snakes. Please don’t use that information against me.
13. When Rose on “The Golden Girls” says something ditzy, it usually makes sense to me.
14. Me and my friends met some truckers on the road, stopped at a truckstop and took a look around in their trucks once.
15. My favorite kind of cake is birthday cake.
16. I was told at my last eye appointment that I have severe astigmatism.
17. I’ve always wanted to go to Africa.
18. I am very scatter-brained at times.
19. I’m allergic to earrings and morphine. And apparently one other medication now.
20. I was voted “friendliest” in 6th grade. Whoop. Tee. Doo.
21. I got a degree in psychology to try and understand myself. Not kidding.
22. I have never felt like I fit in whether it was at seminary or a bar or church. Ok, I’ve only been to 1 bar.
23. I can make delicious cakes and taught myself how to decorate them.
24. I love Jesus and thank Goodness His blood covers things.
25. I’m too tenderhearted for my own good. Everything makes me cry.
26. When I was little I thought men sat in the top of skyscrapers, watching and changing the stoplights.
27. When I was little I thought the dogs were men and cats were women.
28. I love logic problems and figuring them out.
29. I have a big scar on my left hand where my brother’s friend pushed me down and I landed on glass.
30. I don’t use spaghetti pasta because it reminds me of worms.
31. I hate worms more than anything. Well, except for liars.
32. I hid a pig in my dorm room when I was in Bible college.
33. I have taken salsa lessons but all the Hispanic guys were too short to dance with me.
34. I took piano lessons from a woman with big bug eyes that scared me.
35. I don’t like romantic movies because they set us up to expect too much.
36. I think Dennis Haysbert is sexy and I really do believe you are in good hands with Allstate.
37. I have been married once and divorced once.
38. I expect to be married again some day. But not divorced ever again.
39. One time a boy hit me in the mouth and busted my lip for no reason at all.
40. I don’t like any lights on when I’m sleeping.
41. I can’t go to sleep with the closet door open.
42. I like to sleep with one foot out from beneath the covers.
43. I always thought the song “Secret Agent Man” was “Secret Asian Man” and I wondered how that worked.
44. Bro. Holmes told me it was obvious from reading my papers that I was a very deep thinker. I still don’t know if that’s good or bad.
45. When I was growing up my mother called me Esmeralda Daphne. I still answer to it.
46. Everyone else called me Jenny and some still do.
47. I love giraffes the most when I go to the zoo. And elephants. And monkeys.
48. The first boy that had a crush on me was in kindergarten. His name was Brent and he was really cute.
49. Third grade was probably my favorite year in school even though I got in trouble for talking too much. For real.
50. I think John Legend is super cute, especially when he plays the piano.
51. I listen to Steve Harvey every morning on the way to work.
52. It makes me hopping mad for someone to put their finger in or near my ear.
53. I really wanted my mother-in-law to be my friend but knew from the beginning it would never be possible.
54. I wish I could afford to travel. Someday I will.
55. I grew up flying in small airplanes but the last time I was on one I was scared speechless.
56. I think I could become addicted to plastic surgery if I ever had it once.
57. People used to tease me that my feet were too small for my height. Now I wear an 8 so I’m ok.
58. I have a mole on the bottom of my foot. Yes, the bottom.
59. I love old people.
60. I am better at writing than speaking.
61. I love to get pedicures.
62. I do not like crowds.
63. I went to a small private high school.
64. I don’t have many friends my age.
65. I love love love to read almost any kind of book.
66. I love Italian food and Mexican food.
67. I would never do it but I really do understand why some people go in and shoot up the place.
68. I’m very patriotic and I cry whenever I sing the national anthem.
69. I can’t stand racism no matter which way it goes.
70. My Granny used to keep me when I was little and we watched cartoons every day.
71. I also watched the 3 Stooges with Grandpa.
72. Jennifer Lee and I (and sometimes my brother) used to play Mad Libs and laugh our heads off but it was never funny with anyone else.
73. I can only remember 1 joke and it is really funny to me but not many other people. Hmmm….
74. I love Honeycomb cereal.
75. I don’t like anything with artificial sweetener in it because it tastes like a chemical to me.
76. I get irritated when someone pulls a Medicaid card out of her Louis Vuitton purse.
77. My favorite snowcone flavor is coconut and then bubblegum.
78. I’ve always had a secret fear that I would lose my mind completely someday.
79. I don’t remember ever watching Sesame Street yet I still knew all my numbers and letters when I started school.
80. Spelling and grammar have always been easy for me though you may not believe it when you hear my Texas twang.
81. When I heard about 9/11 it scared the crap outta me and made me angry at the same time.
82. Once I had a wreck when I was turning left. I went a long time after that without turning left but it took me a while to get places sometimes. I’m ok going left now.
83. I don’t like seeing unattractive peoples’ public displays of affection.
84. I don’t watch movies more than once, in most cases. I was, however, forced to watch “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” 3 times in 1 Christmas season and it was torture.
85. Christmas has become a very difficult season for me, I can’t even count the reasons.
86. I love asparagus.
87. Sometimes I crave gum. I suspect it is much like someone craves drugs, although I ‘m not sure.
88. I love to sing but not in public. My best entertaining is for myself in the car.
89. I like men who have a few extra pounds on their bones. I said a few.
90. When I was a kid I watched “The Blob” and didn’t sleep for a long time after. Ask my mom.
91. I can not eat anything that did not have a chance to grow up. Not veal, not lamb.
92. When I was a kid I used to lay beside the speaker while the record (yes, record) played the story of Little Black Sambo. It was my favorite story and I’m glad that tiger turned into butter.
93. I love coffee. As if you didn’t know.
94. When I was a small child, our next-door neighbor flashed me as I rode by on my bicycle with training wheels. What a pervert.
95. I love watching home improvement shows but the best part is the before/after part at the end.
96. I despise being cold.
97. Sometimes I feel like “running away from it all” and it very well may happen some day.
98. To those who think I don’t know, I DO know my sense of humor is different.
99. I love to laugh and wish I did it more.
100. I don’t believe TVs belong in the bedroom, any bedroom.

Flowers in my Food ~

When I was younger and living at home my mother brewed tea on top of the stove. We had a pan that I remember to be THE tea pan. Maybe she made other stuff in it but when it was time to make tea, there was no question about what to use. So anyways, one day my mother brewed the tea, poured it up in a glass, and brought it to me in the living room. I took one drink of that tea and I was as confused as a cow on astro turf! Without even thinking I called out, "This tea tastes like flowers!" That was back in the day when tea was supposed to taste like tea. We never added peaches or blueberries or hibiscus back then. Well, maybe they did but we didn't know about it. About the only thing added to a good glass of tea in the South was sugar. Turns out, my mother had boiled some potpourri in the tea pan and the taste of it just didn't come out when it was washed. We still laugh about that today, I'm sure the look on my face was priceless!
Well, for a few months now I've been wanting to try some cupcakes with flowers in them. Lavender is all the rage right now - they even put it in tea!! So I scrounged around on the Internet looking for some recipes. I came up with a few and sort of put them all together to fit my needs. I started out with this recipe from another blog. However, I hardly ever use self-rising flower. Then I checked out this one but noticed it had no leavening in it - nothing to make it fluffy! So I finally just used the first one but tweaked it just a bit. 
First of all, I made my own lavender sugar. About 3 weeks ago I combined about 1/3 cup of lavender flowers with 2 cups of sugar. You can't just go pick your own lavender or go to the flower shop. You have to get lavender that does not have any pesticides on it. I got mine at Central Market in the bulk foods section. It was only about 63 cents for what I got. So I put the lavender and the sugar in this big Mason jar and left it for 3 weeks, although 2 is long enough.

After 2 or 3 weeks has gone by, the lavender sugar is ready to use. Just sift the sugar to get the flowers back out. I sifted mine twice and there were still some flowers that managed to sneak in. That's ok because you are going to put a few of the flowers in the batter anyway. Don't flip out trying to separate them!  So here are all the ingredients you will need, minus the salt, which you can add or not. I did.

Lavender Cupcakes
1 cup flour
1/2 cup very soft butter
1/2 c. lavender sugar, sifted
1 ½ t. baking powder
1/8   t. salt
1/4 t. lavender flowers
2 eggs
3 tbsp milk
Preheat the oven to 350. 

Sift lavender sugar to get the flowers out. One of the original recipes said to put part of the sugar in a food processor with ¼ t. lavender flowers and blend. I tried that and it didn't work so I just threw the flowers in there whole. I know, it was a big chance to take but I had no other choice.

Mix together the butter and sugar until smooth, then add the eggs one at a time, until completely blended. Add the flour and mix gently. Add the milk. Original recipe said  to use 1 -2 tablespoons but I used 3 tablespoons. I did taste the batter and it tasted suspiciously like the sugar cookie dough I made a week ago. Hmmmm...

Line a muffin pan with 10-12 paper liners and distribute the batter equally. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until done (mine took 17 minutes and I made 10). 

When the muffins are cool, decorate with pale lavender colored frosting and sprinkle with lavender petals (or whatever blows your dress up). I used white dragees but they would have been pretty with nothing but frosting.

As for how they tasted, the lavender was so faint that you might think you were eating just a vanilla cupcake. However, I did taste it and it gave these cupcakes a little hint of something special. Also, I have not had much luck in the past with just plain vanilla cupcakes. They were either too dry or too something. I think these would make for a perfect vanilla cupcake if you leave out the flowers and add a teaspoon of vanilla. So there you have it, the long awaited lavender cupcake. Not bad having flowers in my food!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

I Cried Tonight ~

I cried tonight. It wasn’t just any old cry, the kind where you cry a few tears here and there and then you’re good. No, it was a heart-rending, soul-cleansing cry that I couldn’t make stop. The kind where you think it’s over and so you move on to something else and then it starts up again. And again. It’s the kind that makes me think of that verse in Psalms where it says that God stores up our tears in bottles.

Psalm 56:8 – “You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book?

Then I start wondering if it’s a whole bunch of bottles or just one huge bottle because I’m sure that I’ve cried a lot of tears, more than most people probably. Especially tonight.

I’ve been kind of nasty and grouchy all week, I will admit to that. Part of it I want to blame on the weather and how much I got harassed about whether I was coming to work or not. The other part could be the arctic chill in the building where I was working - the one nobody seemed to care about. Another part of me wanted to blame it on the fact that I had a test coming up that I was supposed to drive to Dallas for and the roads were like oil-glazed glass. I stifled the crying part under this nasty and grouchy fa├žade and muddled through it. All week I managed to keep pushing it down and blinking fast enough to overcome it.

Not tonight. Tonight the floodgates opened and the tears tore off the hinges. I’m not exactly sure what started it but I knew when it was coming and that there was no stifling it anymore. I was chatting with a friend on Facebook. Not a “friend” friend on Facebook, but a true friend that I’ve known for almost all of my life. We met in the 6th grade. That was also our last year together in elementary school and, over time, we lost touch. I came across her on Facebook last week and instantly sent a friend request.

So then tonight, as I said, we were chatting for the first time in 25 years. As you would guess, we started asking each other how things are in each other’s lives, are we married, what about kids. She is married, has kids, is finishing up her law degree, and is a housewife who helps her minister-husband with his work. All the while I felt a wall beginning to rise, my defenses went up, and I was panicking and felt like I couldn’t breathe. I wanted to know all about her but I didn’t want to tell her all about me. What was I supposed to say to her? I didn’t want to lie but I certainly didn’t want to tell the truth. I didn’t have to make this choice tonight because she had to go get her kids to bed. As we said our good-nights the floodgates opened.

This is what I have battled with for years and now battle even more on a daily basis. I want to have real friends, women that I can talk to about anything and everything and really spend quality time with. However, I know that in order to do that, I have to be transparent and honest about my failures as well as everything else. I’m not a perfect woman, not even close. I have what some would consider serious character flaws. That’s what I consider them too!

The past few years have been complete and utter failure. So much so that I avoid talking about them at all cost, especially to people who know nothing about them to begin with. I was not the perfect wife, daughter, sister, employee, friend, or Christian. I sought acceptance – I wanted to be loved and it cost me everything. In return I got absolutely nothing. The shame goes on and on and the fear that it will all somehow suddenly be uncovered pushes me further and further down.

So tonight I wept bitterly and my heart was raw as I poured it all out. I was soothed as I imagined God gathering all those tears up. I thought I was disqualified from serving God. I thought I had no right to move on or to be happy. That’s what guilt does. But that’s why Jesus came, isn’t it?

John 10:10 - “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

It has taken time and the journey is still not over. It is painful now and there will still be scars when the healing is complete. I hear this song by Tenth Avenue North on the radio so frequently and it always speaks to me:

'Cause this is not about what you've done, 
But what's been done for you. 
This is not about where you've been, 
But where your brokenness brings you to 

You are more than the choices that you've made, 
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes, 
You are more than the problems you create, 
You've been remade.

God has picked me up and is putting me back on track. He is freeing me from the fear that has kept me shackled in silence and restoring me. So go ahead and ask if you need to know because now I can tell you why I cried a whole bottle of tears.