Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Beautiful Ruins

As a teenager I dreamed of being a Christian "hero." I would give everything and go anywhere for my Lord. I committed to live for Him, "whatever the cost." Little did I understand the depth and breadth of those words. Little did I know what "cost" was. Little did I anticipate the unexpected twists and turns my life would take. Little did I realize what "count it all joy when you fall into various trials" meant.

My journey has involved death. Death of myself, my ways, my ambitions. In essence, it has meant a coming to ruins, so that the Lord may create something beautiful from the ashes. Beautiful ruins. It has not been a life of ease, but it has been one full of joy; joy in knowing intimately the unfailing love of my Lord. All other life is nothing compared to this knowing.

I know the journey is not over yet. I know there are unforeseen trials yet to come. But I also know the goodness of my Lord, and because of His goodness I will dance. I will "count it all joy" so that from the ashes, beauty will arise. Beautiful ruins.

Thoughts inspired from this post by Sally Clarkson.

Friday, January 15, 2010


One of my favorite new fascinations in the kitchen these days is the art of cupcakes. A few years ago, I paid no attention to these little bites of cake and creamy confection. I rarely baked them in favor of a more moist, layered slice of indulgence. But as growing trends have popularized the once ordinary dessert, I have found myself on the bandwagon trying to make the yummiest possible five bites of deliciousness. I even have this illusive dream of someday opening up a cupcake shop in town!

After experimenting with many flavors, mixes, recipes, I still have not yet created my piece de resistance, but have learned a few things along the way:

Number One- Do not overfill the cupcake papers. Filling the papers a smidgen past half full will result in a beautiful rounded top.

Number Two- Watch the cakes at the end of the bake time to pull them out at just the right time. If you bake them too long they will be dry. The tops should bounce back with a little give when you gently push them with your finger to ensure moistness.

Number Three- Brush the tops with a simple syrup immediately out of the oven. This marinates the cakes with the kind of flavor found in layer cakes. One of my favorites is a mixture of sugar and water boiled into a syrup with the addition of pure almond extract.

Number Four- Top with an exquisite frosting. Vanilla buttercream and cream cheese are two of my favorites.

Number Five- Refrigerate overnight in a sealed container for the best infusion of flavor.


Monday, January 4, 2010

Project Fifty-Two

Each new year brings with it wonderful musings of thoughts, goals, ideas for the upcoming months. It creates a time to think and pray about what of the past needs to be dropped, and what of the future must be accomplished. After much musing, I conclude the same thing each year. No matter where life's road turns, I have one desire: to know the Maker of my entire being more deeply and to be filled with His pleasant aroma which can then overflow into the lives of my children and the people around me. The simple goal of knowing Him and teaching my little ones of His wonders puts all other things into perspective.

That being said, I have put together somewhat of a practical wish list of things I would like to do in the year 2010, not resolutions, just wishes. As I began to compile the list, it grew and grew until I finally decided to limit it to fifty-two. One wish fulfilled for each week of the year. Feel free to walk with me as I take baby steps towards order and beauty and the cultivation of art and soul. I would even love to see your wish list of fifty-two.

1. Paint the family room and office.
2. Post fifty-two blog posts.
3. Complete the reading of my chronological Bible.
4. Read a classic.
5. Sew a lap quilt.
6. Explore downtown Denver.
7. Hang curtains in the family room.
8. Organize photos.
9. Finish a puzzle.
10. Study a book on photography.
11. Eat a cupcake at Happy Cakes.
12. Learn how to make Beef Wellington.
13. Study the manual for my camera.
14. Develop portrait photography skills.
15. Plant Zinnias.
16. Hike the Incline.
17. Get away alone with my husband.
18. Arrange a performance by my children for a retirement home.
19. Customize a slipcover for my sofa.
20. Improve my low light photography abilities.
21. Construct cupcake boxes for Valentine's Day.
22. Grow Daisies.
23. Have tea in Monument.
23. Travel with the family to Glenwood Springs.
24. Complete the family picture/art wall.
25. Go camping.
26. Sew pillows.
27. Fit into my favorite black skirt (sit-ups required).
28. Organize my creative space.
29. Paint the girl's dresser.
30. Learn to bake artisan breads.
31. Develop my own signature cupcakes.
32. Remodel the extra bathroom.
33. Remove the wallpaper in the master bathroom.
34. Hang towel hooks.
35. Narrate aloud The Hobbit to the boys.
36. Read a book (or two, or three, or four) by George MacDonald.
37. Visit an art museum as a family.
38. Paint the back entryway white.
39. Make a toy theater out of a moving box with the children.
40. Customize my own blog page design....MAJOR learning curve.
41. Run a 5K.
42. Host a gathering for the neighborhood women.
43. Sew a new apron.
44. Peruse and collect books of great artists.
45. Start a family nature journal.
46. Sew messenger bags with the girls.
47. Braid a rag rug.
48. De-clutter the office.
49. Stencil a sign.
50. Create a custom wardrobe from bargain, vintage finds.
51. Enjoy recommended books from Read for the Heart.
52. Above all, know the Master Creator of my soul.