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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Life Lessons from Music Practice: The Whole Note--Relax and Let It Play

The whole note looks like an egg, or an empty bowling ball or even a big yawn.  Most students, even beginners,  easily recognize WHAT it is and even how many beats it gets (four, for those of you who may not be musicians).   It looks like this.

When you play this note, it is held for the count of four, THEN released.  Almost without fail, most students will treat is as a half note (2 beats) or a dotted quarter note (3 beats) and release it before they should.  It happens when they are first learning about this note and often, even after they have become quite experienced.  That period of being patient and just letting the sound continue (without any effort on their part) for just four beats makes them crazy and they want their fingers to start moving on to the next group of notes too quickly.  The trouble is, when you "miss a beat", you really do ruin the entire song which can really be a crash and burn if you are playing with other musicians at the same time.

How like us in real life when we find ourselves in a circumstance and we want  the next thing to happen --now.   We "want to release the note" by rushing ahead and moving on to the next thing  which we think we will enjoy more.  Sometimes this involves not finishing a project we have started or leaving a position because we are uncomfortable or even as drastic as ending a marriage when conflicts arise.  Sometimes the handling of our "notes" affect other people and ruin their songs as well.

The whole note is  different from the whole rest in which there is complete silence and you are still. 

There is a time for that as well, but  with the whole note, the sound has already begun and you let it play out for its entire duration before moving on to the next note.   Other notes may be playing at the same time while the one is held--so often as it is in life.  Perhaps we need to be a little more patient and discerning, thinking carefully about commitment to what we have begun and considering others in our choices and actions.   Don't allow yourself to be distracted from the goal.  I am thankful there is One Who is not.

Philippians 1:6 
For I am confident of this very thing, 
that He who began a good work in you 
will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. 

Hebrews 12:1 
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, 
let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, 
and let us brun with endurance the race that is set before us, 

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Life Lessons from Music Practice: Rest Notations

Rests:  In music, these notations indicate where in the music to pause and for how long. Without them, a piece is really quite monotonous and boring.  Sometimes one hand rests while the other plays; sometimes both rest at the same time.  The rests occur throughout the piece, not generally at the end of it...
In life, we also need times of rest in varied amounts with and without other people:
  • A  few 10-15-minute coffee/tea breaks at your job
  • A 20-30 minute time of reading your Bible and praying
  • A one-hour  lunch break alone or with a friend
  • A free evening at home--no meetings, classes or appointments
  • An hour or two doing something you really love (preferably with your hands)
  • A good night's sleep of 6-8 hours
  • A relaxing weekend
  • A week or two of vacation or staycation
Take time to rest--your attitude and strength will benefit greatly from it.  You may think you can go and go and go without consequence but your body (and others) have probably felt the effects of a non-stop life.  A time of quietness refreshes the body and the soul and makes life more legato [musical term for a smooth, flowing manner] as we each continue on in our journey...
Matthew 11:28    Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Fourth of July Foods / Strawberry Jello Pretzel Dessert

What are you serving at your Fourth of July gathering?   We'll be headed to the beach with friends and I'm sure we'll be having hamburgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, watermelon, apple pie...

This classic (but old) recipe always pleases a crowd and is quite easy to make.  I've had it at many gatherings and made it myself as well.  Try it:  Strawberry Jello Pretzel Dessert.  This recipe is from I've also seen in in Taste of Home, Family Circle and other magazines / websites.  


  • 2 cups crushed pretzels
  • 3/4 cup melted butter [or margarine]
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • tub (9 ounce size) Cool Whip
  • 1 cup sugar [1/4-1/2 cup is fine, too]
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 packages (3 ounce size) strawberry [or raspberry, just make sure it is red] Jello gelatin
  • 1 package (16 ounce size) frozen sweetened strawberries [or 2 cups fresh]
  • 2 cups boiling water


  • For Crust: Combine pretzels, butter and 1/4 cup sugar. Press into 9 x 13 baking dish and bake at 350F for 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature. 
  • For White Layer: Cream together cream cheese and 1 cup sugar. Fold in Cool Whip. Spread over pretzel crust. 
  • For Red Layer: Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Stir in frozen strawberries, Chill until partially set, about 1 hour and spread over white layer. Chill until set and serve.

Bright Light Books Overstock Sale / June 28, 2011

Just found out about this sale this morning.  Today is the last day, so check it out!

10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.

More info at THIS LINK.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Saturday Sights / A Day in the Life Of Me...

Just a few photos from Saturday in the park...

The first one is the  cutest--have you ever seen a bunny on a leash?  :)

There was an ASGO event going on in the park...

Heavy rains from the night before left a full fountain and lots of  water in the gardens...

A bear selling clothes...

A bird selling jewelry...

My  husband didn't even notice this colorful storefront eye-catcher...

Hope you had fun enjoying interesting things all around you as you went about your day.  Did you pause to notice?

Friday, June 24, 2011

What To Expect When Getting Wisdom Teeth (or other teeth) Pulled / Braces

Braces--they have been a rite of passage of childhood since I was a teenager.  Kids are getting them on these days earlier and earlier though.     My husband and I both had them--we both have large teeth; both of our children have them as well.  We all got braces in our teens.  My children and I only wore them for about 14 months.   I personally think those "phases" that some orthodontists do are not necessary but just waiting until a child is a teenager is more appropriate.  Ours did not recommend that.  We are thankful for dental insurance from my husband's job that covers a large portion of the costs and we also have a flexible health spending account  (FSA) to set aside $$ when dental, eye or other medical expenses are anticipated.  

When you have had braces, it is almost always necessary for step 2 which is to have wisdom teeth extracted a few years later.  Last year our dentist informed us that younger son needed to have his wisdom teeth removed as they were coming in sideways and would probably become impacted and/or misalign his teeth that had already been straightened. [He is the last in the family to have had this procedure done.]  I checked with our oral surgeon as to the estimated expense after our insurance.  His father pulled MY wisdom teeth; even at the same office which has been updated which was a bit of déja vu for me!  Since our son only had three wisdom teeth, insurance paid all but about $500 and there was enough in our FSA to cover that (since I had planned that the year before).  Our oral surgeon used IV sedation which we consider absolutely necessary for such a procedure.  If you can afford this, it removes most of the trauma which can be extreme depending on the person.  

I stocked up on soft foods a few days before the surgery--applesauce, soups, pasta, yogurt, Gatorade, Vitamin C (which promotes healing)... Another mom was in the waiting room with me and she still had to go do that afterwards so I was glad I was prepared.  A friend who is trained in holistic medicine recommended taking injury pellets 3 days before the surgery and 3-5 days afterwards which we have also been doing.

We were in and out of the procedure in about an hour and a half.  Then the nurse  care (me)--changing the gauze every 45 minutes for 4-5x, changing the ice pack they gave us every hour [pretty neat with pockets to replace melted ice packets with frozen ones], soft foods and water/Gatorade, milkshakes,  pain meds every 4-6 hours and plenty of rest.  [Don't tell him I have this photo.]

My son only needed the heavy-duty pain meds the day of the surgery; he used Motrin the day after when the swelling was more noticeable.  You are supposed to drink lots of water which means you may swallow a bit of blood. We think that's what made him throw up 2x that first day.  We stopped the water until the bleeding was very minimal (about 6 hours after the surgery).  He was able to drink plenty of water without incident after that.  He has complained more of a headache than of his mouth hurting so much and thankfully, the pain has been manageable.  He likes the ice pack since it's nice and cool on his head and face.

The day of surgery he did not really want food other than a little applesauce.   Day 1 after the surgery we began the frequent gentle rinsing with salt water and he was able to  eat these foods:
  • Breakfast -- applesauce, lots of water
  • Lunch --soup (3 bowls of it), creamy peanut butter, milkshake
  • Dinner -- creamy peanut butter, garlic mashed potatoes (2 bowls), strawberry jello, milkshake

So far, no complications and we do not expect any.  Lots of tender loving care helps the healing process.  If you have a child about to go through this, be sure you are available for 2-3 days.  I did not need to "sit" with him but I did need to be close by when he needed something.  That is always comforting to someone who is in pain or has had an injury.  Another blessing of being a homeschool mom at home. :)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Graciousness (A Spoonful of Sugar) When Mistakes Are Made

I was cleaning out some shelves this morning and found a few more books to list on Amazon and Ebay.  I regularly weed through our bookshelves-- we have them in just about every room of our home.   I found a book that I had intended to either PaperBack Swap or sell.  It's funny how just the sight of a book can bring back a memory.

The movie Julie and  Julia came out a couple of years ago.  I had not gotten around to seeing it after it had been out a few months.  This  book that was given to me on my birthday that year by two dear friends who really wanted me to see the movie.

I finally saw it, thoroughly LOVED it and  highly recommend it.  You'll laugh and cry, but mostly laugh.    I do NOT recommend the book however.  

I sat down one evening and picked up this thoughtful gift that my friends had given me.   I thought since I enjoyed the movie so much that I would probably enjoy the book even more.  I'm sure that's what they were thinking when they gave it to me.   It's usually that way with films. The books are almost always better.  Well, not in this case.  I got about 2 chapters into the book and it was WAY too inappropriate [language and situations mostly] for me to read and enjoy.  I was shocked and I knew that my friends would be also.   I didn't want to make them feel bad for having given me the book but I thought I'd better head them off before they gave it to someone else so I gently told them what was in it.  They were so sorry  and they were SO glad that I clued them in before they gave a copy to someone else who might not be as understanding.  We all had a good laugh over it and what might have occurred with similar subsequent gifts to others.

Morals of story:  
  • Don't assume the movies  you enjoy are as good as the books OR vice versa.
  • Always think the best of people when something doesn't seem quite right (I knew they would never have given me this book had they known what was in it.)
  • Speak up when someone needs to know some information even though it may be awkward.
  • Laughing and humor helps almost any situation.  :)

Look through some of the books on your bookshelves. Do any of them hold any special memories for you?  I may write more on this since I love reading--all different types of books.  I prefer mostly non-fiction but will read fiction if it's highly recommended.  How about you?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Fathers Day

To any dads who are reading this, I hope you are enjoying the day with your child(ren) and they are showing and telling you how much you are loved and appreciated.

For new (and older) dads with sons, pick up the book The Way of the Wild Heart and read it as you are raising your sons.  I have never read a better book on raising boys.  I have five posts on this blog from the book Wild at Heart, but I think its sequel is even better.    The best gift a dad (and mom) can give a son when very young is to make sure he knows that he is a beloved one (read the book to find out why).  

We do not have daughters but from experience as one :)  your daughter also needs to know that she is a beloved child early on.  Our children were raised with Dr. James Dobson's books and advice, so here is a good one for Bringing Up Girls.   You are the first model of the Lord that your child will ever know and play such an important role in his/her development.

I am thankful that our sons  have a kind and generous father who loves them with all of his heart and that they have never had to doubt his love, even for a moment.

Have a great day with your family today!  My two sons have their dad out on an all-day fishing trip, then church and dinner later with all of us.  :)

Psalm 103:13 
Just as a father has compassion on his children, 
So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Saturday Sights / A Day in the Life Of Me...

I love carrying my camera with me all the time. It's so small that I can easily do so and not be encumbered.  There are so many things that I like to capture with it.  Saturday Sights may become a regular post for me since we often have outings on that day.  Here are few from last Saturday.

One of my favorite sights...this means that our older son is home.  :)

I shot this while we were driving down the road. About 30 bikers out for a morning jaunt.

We had some time to kill on our way to pick up our younger son from the ACT test.  Discovered this lake near 4Rivers.

Somebody was target practicing near it...While my husband and I were pondering what had happened here, we heard some splashing in the water...

...and spotted at least 8 otters playing in the lake.  Fun to watch them.  We rarely see them in this area.

4Rivers barbecue...the best in town. Picking some up for dinner later.

Dessert before lunch at Menchies...

Beautiful veggies at Whole Foods...

Coffee and conversation at Baldwin Park in the evening...I love taking photos of running water.

Tomorrow, when you're out for your Saturday, pause and look at the surprises all around you.  I "see" them better with my camera and the ordinary becomes extra-ordinary.  :)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

SOMETHING TO PONDER: The Color of White / Is White a Color?

During my morning walks with my friend Virginia we each occasionally take our cameras with us.  We both like taking pictures of life all around us.  It's been so hot here in Florida lately that many of the more colorful flowers are parched.  I have some color in our front yard but only because I douse them with the hose every other day.     I am normally drawn to colorful things more than just the white, but due to the lack of more brilliant color, I noticed that white flowers, however, seem to be everywhere, and are doing quite well even without extra water.

They are generally surrounded by the dark green leaves for contrast.  Isn't it wonderful of God to have made them this way?  We would not appreciate the white if everything were that color  [BTW, there are several theories as to whether light is a color.  I'll let you read those HERE.]    The color white is refreshing and shows as much or more detail than any other color but you have to look closely to see it.  Something that is perfectly white, totally unstained and clean, draws our attention so much more than something that is say, perfectly green, blue or red. Think of a white wedding dress, a white dog, an albino peacock (I have seen one of these), or a brand new baby's diaper.

White is all around us -- white clouds, ocean wave caps, sunlight--but we are hardly aware of it.   In the beginning when God said Let there be light His  glory was shown through illumination to all that would be created afterwards.  Maybe the color white is a tiny amount of that glory and purity. It reminds us that the Creator  is the perfect example of holiness and that we are not alone in the dark places where we may find ourselves.  He is just waiting for us to notice.

Romans 1:20 
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, 
His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, 
being understood through what has been made, 
so that they are without excuse. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Early Morning Praises in the Garden

This morning we were awakened by beautiful music from our neighborhood birds.  About 40 minutes after getting up, they were still singing, so  I  sat out in our front yard with a cup of hot tea, my Bible and of course, my camera.  The birds were especially chipper today, but earlier, even moreso.  

To listen to a short clip of what I heard, go to THIS LINK.

This is my Father's world, 
the birds their carols raise,
the morning light, the lily white,
declare their maker's praise.
What a nice way to start the day!
Psalm 96:12 Let the field exult, and all that is in it. 
Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Cleaning Out / Decluttering / Parting with an Old Friend

If you know me or have read this blog for any length of time, you know that I am always decluttering, throwing out (as often as I can slip things past my family), giving away and selling items around the house.   Recently, I parted with a piece of furniture that we purchased in 1989, a month or so before our first son was born.

Yes, this was the first rocking chair of my very own which was purchased for $40 specifically to rock our first child.  I spent many hours holding my precious little ones over the years in this chair.  I took these photos before giving it away to a young friend of mine (a former piano student) who is moving in to her first apartment.  I thought long and hard about parting with this chair. I have a second rocker which is actually more comfortable and I don't really need two.   I also held the kids in that one as well.  But this was the FIRST one.  It didn't really "clutter" up the living room but there is definitely more room in there now that it's gone.  

I'll always carry the memories of those middle of the night feedings rocking my two sons to sleep after nursing them and just holding them there when they were little.  Sigh...I better go get a tissue.  Sweet memories...which I hold in my heart.  :)  Take good care of the chair, Amanda.  :)

Friday, June 10, 2011

What Breakfast Cereals do You Serve Your Family?

I eat cereal many days of the week for breakfast. Not just because it's easy but I just love the taste of certain ones.  My husband's favorite is Shredded Wheat (he used to eat Raisin Bran until I told him how much sugar is in it); my favorites are Cheerios and/or Grapenuts.    Those are about the only cold cereals we keep in the house.   Great Grains, every now and then for variety but that has a fair amount of sugar in it also.  I've never purchased anything like Cap'n Crunch, Cocoa Puffs or Trix but you'll occasionally find PopTarts in the pantry.  I'm not THAT particular.  :)

In warmer weather I like to cook oatmeal with raisins and/or apples.  The more whole grains the better, if you're going to eat cereal at all.   My family also enjoys scrambled eggs with peppers, onions and turkey sausage/bacon occasionally.  Some days I just have a fresh smoothie made with my VitaMix  On Sundays I often bake cinnamon rolls for a sweet treat.    Whatever works for your family, but try to buy/serve on the healthier side of the spectrum if possible.  Be sure to check out coupon policies such as the Walmart Coupon Policy before purchasing cereals.  You may think you have a great deal and it actually is not when you arrive at the checkout register.

Here is my favorite summer cereal with a handful of almonds and fresh blueberries and a cup of hot tea or coffee.  Mmm...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

COMFORT FOOD RECIPE: Pot Roast with Onions, Potatoes & Carrots in the Crockpot or Slow Cooker

I have made pot roast many times over the years.  I have even posted a couple of recipes on this blog--one using a crockpot and one using a Romertopf clay baker.  Here is a slightly revised recipe that I made last weekend using the LAYERING THE FLAVORS technique, but in a different way.

  • Large roast [I purchased one on sale from Sam's Club]
  • Vidalia onions, peeled and sliced
  • 1 head of garlic [not cloves, HEADS]
  • 10-12 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 5 -6 potatoes, sliced
  • Lawry's Seasoned Salt
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Thyme
  • Sage
  • Pepper
  • Sea salt
  • Other seasonings you may like

  • Spray the crockpot with olive oil
  • Prepare the carrots and potatoes and put them in the bottom of your crockpot
  • Sear both sides of the roast for about 5 minutes in a skillet
  • Season the roast with the herbs and spices, rubbing them in or sprinkling on top
  • Put the roast on top of the vegetables
  • Sauté the onions and garlic until they smell great and are browned
  • Put the cooked onions and garlic on top of the roast
  • Put the lid on and cook on LOW for 8-10 hours [cooking on low gives a much better flavor generally than cooking on high in the crockpot]
This took about 30 minutes.  I love putting the lid on, walking away and forgetting about it and then at dinnertime, like magic, having a nice meal all ready to serve.  :)
  • Slice the meat thin and put the meat and veggies in a casserole dish to serve.
  • Pour out the drippings from the crockpot to use as a gravy.

I usually set up the crockpot on a small table in the dining room to keep my kitchen counters free.


I served it with fresh baked bread and watermelon.  Mmmm...

You would have thought that my family had never been served a roast before.  They ooh-ed and aah-ed over this dish and said it was delicious, asking what I did differently.    I have to admit, it  really did taste good.   I surprise myself sometimes.  :)  The simple step of cooking (almost caramelizing) the onions and garlic and THEN adding them to the dish to continue cooking, made all the difference in the world in flavor.  Try it.  You and your family will love it!  I intend to make roast this way and look for other ways to "layer the flavors" in recipes  from now on.

LEFTOVERS:  A couple of nights later, I made beef stroganoff and in addition to hamburger, used the one piece of roast that was left over in this dish. Instead of adding just water  to cook the pasta and meat, I used the remainder of the gravy plus enough water to make one cup.  It also tasted really good since the flavorings had already been layered.  :)

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