The Porch Light copyright by Revka (2006-2010). All rights reserved.

Monday, April 30, 2007

It's time to pass it on

I was flattered to be notified that I had received this award. Me? Nominated for something?! Thanks, Michelle! (Michelle is another new friend made through my header design business. I love meeting all these nice people. *smile*) Receiving this award dictates that I pass it along to 5 other bloggers who make me think.

  1. Whether or not we agree on an issue, Frank of The New Parent always makes me think. He is not afraid of bucking the current parenting experts and trends. In fact, that is the whole point of his blog: finding real parenting solutions that work in real life. His post Excuse Me (Managing Interruptions) is a great example of his work.
  2. Jen of My Derbe frequently and pointedly encourages me to think. If you haven't yet read her post, Life Should Not Be a Masquerade Ball, you need to read it! Thanks, Jen, for encouraging me to be real despite the pain and/or shame.
  3. Even though she has already received this award, I cannot leave Holly of Seeking Faithfulness off this list of blogs that make me think. As her blog title implies, this pastor's wife is seeking to live a faithful life and encourages others to do likewise. There are so many of her posts that resonate with me, but I would have to say that one of most helpful ones in recent days was her post about Spousal Abuse in a Christian Home. Holly shared her personal experience with abuse (not by her husband) and offered her insight regarding how to deal with abuse. Lest anyone think Mr. Incredible abuses me, let me assure you that he absolutely does not! Unfortunately, I have friends who are not as blessed as I, and Holly's post was a tremendous help to me as I attempt to be a good friend and give counsel when asked.
  4. LadyLydia and Mrs. Alexander of Homeliving Helper both encourage me as I attempt to become a better homemaker. Their posts are often convicting, pointing out areas in which I need to improve. When I began to wonder why I should keep working to pick up and clean up (it's only going to be a wreck again in five minutes!), I found my answer in Reasons We Need Orderly, Clean Homes.
  5. Dana of A Higher Calling also challenges me on a regular basis. Her post about Expectations was right on target for me. How often I set myself up for failure because I have unrealistic expectations for myself.
Thanks again, Michelle, for giving me this award. Thank you to all of my blogging friends and huants for encouraging me and helping me grow as a person and as a Christian.


Just for kicks

I met my friend, Cheryl, through one of my recent paid posts in which I mentioned that we had one more week of vacation to plan and asked for ideas. Cheryl contacted me with an idea, we talked back and forth, and I ended up designing a header for Janz Thoughts, one of her many blogs. (Take a look at Smoky Mountain Travel Tips. It's a great blog that offers ideas for fun activities and events for the whole family.) During the design process, we got to be friends. Last week, she sent me an e-mail about an interesting contest.

If you have ever visited the Comedy Barn in Pigeon Forge, TN, you have probably seen the Comedy Canines perform. These dogs have been rescued from the Humane Society and now perform in a comedy routine. Their owner/trainer, Dawn Elberson, has entered (Miss) Ellie, a Chinese crested hairless, into the 2007 World's Ugliest Dog Contest in Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, CA. Click the link to see some ugly dogs, and, if you think she deserves it, vote for Miss Ellie.


Friday, April 27, 2007

Is it worth it?

Hurricane season draws ever closer, and I am going to be prepared this year. We were blessed the last two years to have had no major storms, but we normally have at least one storm come through our area, particularly now that we have moved.

Having experienced several hurricanes, I have to wonder about rebuilding efforts in places that have been so badly damaged over the past couple of years. Old structures have been removed and new condo hotels have been erected in their place. I'm glad that places are being rebuilt, but I have to wonder if it is worth it? Is it worth erecting a multimillion dollar structure only to have it destroyed when the next hurricane blows through? Is there really enough profit margin? How do all these losses affect our insurance rates? Yet, if rebuilding does not occur, how do people living in a tourist-dependent area survive?

I have no answers, only questions. What do you think?


Creative ideas

Being thrifty or frugal (whichever term you prefer) can be both interesting and exciting. Additionally, it can save both your money and the environment. Thrifty people tend to find new uses for items instead of throwing them away. Here are a couple of re-categorized items from my house:

  • A fishing tackle box is now my sewing box. The section for hooks and lures is absolutely perfect for scissors, bobbins of thread, pins, and the like.
  • Bed sheets become curtains and window treatments.
  • A 5 quart ice cream bucket now organizes small toys in the girls' play room.
  • Both a flower vase and a teacup double as a pencil holder.
  • Old socks become dust rags. (I know some people who use worn underwear for that purpose as well, but I just can't stomach that!)
I'm sure if I think, there are a lot more items that we have put to use in a new way. What are some of the creative ways you have reused items?


What does your church do?

Last Sunday, several people who had been previously saved requested to be baptized. Before I pose my question, let me make it clear that baptism is not a part of salvation. The thief on the cross was never baptized, yet Jesus promised him that he would be soon with Jesus in paradise. There are many other places in Scripture that clearly show that salvation is solely dependent upon repentance of sin and acceptance of Christ's finished work on Calvary. Baptism is an act that follows salvation and is our public identification with Christ.

My question: do you or do you not give baptism gifts?


Sounds like a great place

Branson Missouri, known as "Live Music Capital of the World," offers many activities for the whole family. Museums include The Titanic museum (its exterior is a 1/2 scale model of the famous ship, and the interior features a carefully rendered reproduction of the Grand Staircase), Ripley's Believe It or Not, the World's Largest Antique Toy Museum, and more. Other activities include theme parks, go kart and miniature golf courses, caves and caverns, hiking trails, shopping, and theatres. The Calendar of Events includes at least one special event each month.

Best of all, Branson Getaways (use the link at the top of the post) is celebrating their tenth anniversary by offering "one lucky family" a fabulous prize package worth $2, 916. No purchase is necessary to enter so why not enter for a chance to win?


Clearing out the house

Mr. Incredible did a great job organizing our new building. He made built-in shelves (8'x4') on the back wall, mounted brackets for three other shelves on the right side, created a built-in workbench on the left side, and even added a ladder rack, a pegboard for hanging his tools, and hangers for his bow and arrows. I find that the more orderly your belongings, the more you can fit. I am currently switching out the winter girls' clothes for summer clothes. I am amazed both at how many clothes they have and also at how much that building can hold!

Are any of you spring cleaning?


Not my moral compass

While it isn't as though he's having to go to drug rehab, Alec Baldwin did cross a line in his voicemail to his daughter. Trust me, I know about getting frustrated and losing your temper, saying things that you later regret, but even in moments of stress, there are still things you should never say to your child.

On the other hand, while I think Mr. Baldwin said some despicable things to his daughter, I am a bit confused by the media flurry surrounding this incident. Other Hollywood celebrities have committed acts that were far worse than Mr. Baldwin's but received much less attention. Why is this incident, part of an ongoing, (supposed to be) sealed divorce/custody situation, being rehashed with nauseating frequency?

The media's treatment of this situation has only served to increase my disdain for their idea of what is newsworthy. It hurts me to see our culture shaped and defined by the ever-more-liberal ideology pushed by our media. There are no longer any moral absolutes. Instead, wrong is often lauded, and right is often mocked and scorned. (I'm generalizing here, not referring to Mr. Baldwin's specific incident.) If someone is a darling of the media, their mistakes and sins are glossed over or ignored; conversely, transgressions committed by those whom the media dislike are magnified and gleefully paraded for all to see.

Aren't you thankful for a God Who is righteous and holy, One Who never plays favorites? Hollywood celebrities, the media, this world: none of those are the ruler by which I measure right and wrong. My moral compass points ever northward to God and His immutable standard as set forth in His Word.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Feeling bad

Yesterday was one of those days that makes me wonder if my family would be better off if I would just pack my luggage and disappear. Here's what happened.

I had completed my morning computer work (I decided to try working on the computer from 8-10 a.m. and from 2-4 p.m.) and was playing outside with the girls. A friend dropped by on her way home, and we chatted while watching the girls play. Pookie climbed into the back of Mr. Incredible's pickup, and Miss Muffet, always imitating her older sister, asked me to lift her up, too. I absentmindedly set her in the truck bed only to be horrified as she began crying and nearly screaming because the metal bed was hot to her bare feet! Let me tell you, I felt absolutely horrible! I hurriedly lifted her out of the truck and took her inside to soak her feet in cool water in the tub.

I left her to play for a bit and was cleaning the kitchen when I heard her screaming and crying again. When I checked on her, she was holding a open disposable razor, and her right thumb was bleeding profusely. Apparently, she had climbed up on the sink and had gotten into the medicine cabinet where she found my stash of razors. When I saw her thumb, I was really beginning to question my fitness as a mother! I know these things happen to everyone, but I still felt horrible. I'm just glad that her thumb only required a band-aid and not stitches!

Make me feel better: please share some of your "oh, no!" stories.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A great example

I am very proud of one of my friends, and I believe I need to follow her example. She has wanted to lose weight for a while and has finally decided to get serious about it. She is opting not to use diet pills; instead, she plans to accomplish her goal the old-fashioned way: through changes in her diet and exercise. I realize that some people need the extra boost they get from the pills, but I think portion control and exercise are paths that should be explored first. I'm rooting for you, girl!


It's not just me

I don't know if it's stress or just having too much to do, but I am often absent-minded. One afternoon last week, I needed to melt half a stick of butter. I placed it in a bowl and went to do something else. When I came back I saw not a stick of butter but rather an egg in the bowl. I had absolutely no recollection of touching that egg, let alone cracking it!

Since I do crazy things like that on a fairly regular basis, I was rather happy when Mr. Incredible forgot something. As you know, he loves him some NASCAR. (I know that's terrible English, but that's how he would say it. *smile*) Most races are held on Sunday. However, last weekend's race was held on Saturday. Sunday morning, Mr. Incredible came into the kitchen where he proceeded to bemoan the fact that he had forgotten about Saturday's race. He only realized his mistake when he woke up during the night and was reviewing upcoming races, trying to go back to sleep. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who forgets things!

On a side note relating to NASCAR, isn't it strange seeing Mark Martin in a car other than the #6 Viagra car? He has done really well in the races he has run this year, and I hope he enjoys his semi-retirement. I can't imagine how stressful it must be to be traveling for 3/4 of the year!


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Layne Daniel Update (April 24, 2007)

Thank you for all your prayers and support during this time. I spoke with Layne's wife this past weekend. She told me that so far he is handling the chemo pretty well. He is doing as well as can be expected, but he is, understandably, weakened by the treatments he is receiving. I had thought that both the chemo and radiation treatments lasted for 6 weeks, but she told me that he has to have chemo for six months. Praise the Lord that another pastor preached for Layne this past weekend. Just keep praying that the Lord's will be done and that we have the grace to submit to that will, whatever it may be.


Monday, April 23, 2007

Handing out cards

Consider this me handing out Internet business cards. The day for which I have long awaited has finally arrived: today is the official Grand Opening of RS Designs, my custom blog header design business. If you can't tell, I'm really excited about this! If you would, please stop by, take a look, and let me know what you think. (I'd also like to say a big 'thank you' to everyone who has already stopped by and left me a comment.)


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Carnival of the Recipes - Italian theme

Thank you for joining me as I present the deliciously tempting recipes of the Taste of Italy round up. This edition of the Carnival of the Recipes offers not only Italian dishes but also a wide variety of other kinds of recipes and links.

Soup, Salad, and Bread
Deputy Headmistress from The Common Room shares her recipe for Basil Walnut Mayonnaise over Chicken Pasta Salad. That sounds like a delicious combination of flavors.

KeeWee's Corner gives us a recipe for tasty Italian Sausage Bread. What better way to begin an Italian meal?

Over at Thrifty Mommy, Karen submitted her Easy Toscana Soup Recipe which is similar to Olive Garden's Toscana Soup. Delicious! Even her husband, who is not a big fan of Italian food, likes this soup.

Beth of The Expatriate's Kitchen explains the title of her recipe: Wedding Soup. "The reason this soup is called Wedding Soup, so I am told, is that the cost of using all the different meats meant it was only served on special occasions." This recipe will make a huge batch of soup, but it will freeze well.

Christmas Recipes posted a unique recipe: Orange and Corn Coleslaw. I will have to try this recipe. Maybe this will be the coleslaw that I actually like

Pasta Entrees
Stephanie from Stop the Ride tells us how to make Noodles from Scratch. I think almost any food will taste better made from scratch, and this sounds like a fairly simple recipe.

Thanks to Stephanie of Make Healthy Meals, we have a recipe for that classic Italian dish - Lasagna. This is a classic meal that works well for both family meals and company dinners.

Tom (Chef Tom Cooks) makes his Italian Chicken Bow Tie Pasta with chicken, garlic, squash mushroom, and tomatoes. I think this is another recipe I will try out on my family.

Susanna offer us TOtaLLyDeLISH glorious pasta al forno topped with bechamel (made with olive oil and yogurt). If you are tired of the same old bechamel sauce, this dish will be a refreshing change.

Right Wing Nation shares the authentic Sicilian recipe his mother received from a friend. His Corleone Spaghetti and Meatballs sound absolutely heavenly!

Over at Everything and Nothing, Shawn offers us her recipe for Spinach, Mushroom, and 4 Cheese Lasagna. This would be a tasty way to eat more green leafy vegetables.

Beth The Expatriate's Kitchen graciously provided us with two more enticing entrees: Gnocchi with Duck and Porcini Mushroom Ragout and Chicken Scallopini with Lemon, Artichokes and Capers (this recipe includes tips for creating true 30 minute meals).

No-Pasta Entrees
Michelle of Scribbit created her own Italian dish: Sausage Risotto with Zucchini and Fontina. I am happy that she chose to share her creation with us. The combination of sausage, rice, cheese, and zucchini sounds absolutely delicious!

Bill's Famous Recipes blog features Crock Pot Chicken with Olives. I love olive and chickens; getting to throw everything into a crock pot is a great big bonus!

While the name of the submission from Dewey's Treehouse, Cooking without Recipes: Stinky Cabbage, does not sound appealing, this recipe for cabbage rolls filled with barley and sausage sounds wonderful.

Here at The Porch Light, I share the recipe for our Favorite Meatballs. this versatile recipe can be used to top spaghetti or subs.

Other International Recipes
Right Wing Nation declares that his recipes for Western Chinese food are Not What Your Chinese Restaurant Serves! After reading his recipes, I believe him and look forward to making authentic Chinese food.

Kevin's blog, Seriously Good, features his version of an English favorite: Cornish Pastie. He tweaked his pastry recipe to come up with a flaky, tender crust that retained the typical English flavor.

Cehwiedel of Kneadlework shares the oddly named Leprechaun Casserole, which is made of meat, onion, mushrooms, potatoes, and cheese. Make this for family meals or for potluck dinners; either place, it's sure to be a hit.

Blog d'Elisson proffers instructions for Homemade from Scratch Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls. (language advisory) I have fond childhood memories of eating Matzo Ball Soup at Passover, but I think that his soup would taste much better than ours.

Wise Bread came up with a recipe for Perfect Peanut Sauce. Actually, there are three recipes included so try them all. This sauce is great for dipping and/or covering foods such as Spring Rolls.

The Expatriate Chef's Kale Recipes are a great way to try to develop your child's (or your own) taste for those healthy yet despised foods: leafy green vegetables.

World Famous gives us Marmalade Glazed Carrots. These sweetly tender carrots would be the perfect accompaniment for many entrees.

We have two variations on scalloped potatoes: Slow Cooker Recipes gives us Crock Pot Scalloped Potatoes, and Famous Recipes features Salpicon Scalloped Potatoes. Either way, these potatoes are simply comfort food.

Must-try Entrees
Marsha from A Weight Lifted shares her unique recipe: Cumin-Lime Lamb Chops. She also explains why spring is the ideal season for eating lamb.

Two "Chicken Recipe" blogs have joined our carnival: Chicken Recipes (WordPress) features Crock Pot Braised Chicken Thighs, and Chicken Recipes (Blogspot) gives us Swiss Bliss.

If it's famous recipes you want, we have them as well. Take a look at Famous Recipes' Chicken Braised in Apple Cider and World Famous's offering of Beef Tater Tot Casserole.

If you are a diabetic, Diabetic Recipes kindly gives you Cranberry Pork Chops.

Peggy of Blabber Heads created the dish she calls Peg's Eggs. Featuring Cajun seasoning, cheese, tomato, and eggs, this sounds like a pleasantly different breakfast.

Pancake Recipes submitted their recipe for Pumpkin Pancakes, and from Fish Creek House comes an enticing recipe for Apple Oat Muffins.

Educational Links
Al Nye The Lawyer Guy answers the question What, exactly, is a free range chicken? I not only learned about the hypocritical practices that qualify a chicken to be labeled "free range," but I also learned that chicken is "ready" for the market in 7 weeks or less! That sounds like an alarmingly accelerated schedule to me.

Wisdom from Wenchypoo's Mental Wastebasket educates us about how our digestive system works in The Eater's Digest. This post may be a little long, but it is very informative and is worth reading.

Food History gives us Dr. Morse's Pills and Home Teaching. Oh, and also included is a recipe for Raisin Pie. Don't miss out on that one!

It has been so nice sharing these delicious recipes with you. I know you have some wonderful recipes of your own. Why don't you submit them for next week's food fest? You have until 12 p.m. CST on Saturday, April 28, to submit your recipe for inclusion in the event hosted by Paging Polly Prissypants. Did you know that you can host your own recipe extravaganza? If you are interested in hosting sometime, just send an e-mail and put Host in the Subject line. Thanks again for coming to visit, and I hope to see you again soon.


Friday, April 20, 2007

Favorite Meatballs

I'm hosting the Carnival of the Recipes this Sunday. It has crept up on me, that's for sure! This edition focuses on Italian food so if you have any Italian recipes, get them posted by noon Saturday and let me know about your post.

We love Italian food; oft-cooked meals in our home include Chicken Parmesan, Lasagna (both baked and crock style), Pizza (does that really count?), and Spaghetti with Meatballs. I am going to share my recipe for Italian meatballs and sauce. You can use this recipe for spaghetti or for Italian meatball subs. I love versatile recipes!

Italian Meatballs

1 pound ground beef
1 egg
*1/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese topping
1/2 tsp. salt

*If you only have plain bread crumbs, use those and add 1 Tbsp. Italian seasonings.

In a large bowl, beat the egg slightly. Add all remaining ingredients and mix well. Form into meatballs and cook over medium-low to medium heat until done. (Open a meatball if you are not sure whether or not they are done.)

My recipe for all-purpose Italian sauce works great as spaghetti/meatball sauce, too. To make enough spaghetti sauce for a family of 5, quadruple all ingredients except the tomato paste.


Send me one

Pookie Bear has discovered letters. Yes, alphabet letters, too, but I was actually referring to letters you put in mailboxes. She writes her name, draws a picture, and adds a number or two for extra flair then awkwardly folds the letter, placing it in an envelope. She writes her name on the envelope, usually where the stamp should go, tells me for whom she wrote the letter, and asks if she can mail it. Usually I say no, but a couple of times I have helped her address her letter and place it in the mailbox.

You know, I would love to receive one of her letters. That would brighten my day for sure!


Cordless phone evolution

When we got married, Mr. Incredible brought with him his cordless phone. It was one of the first ones on the market, and the thing was monstrously big! However, it worked really well - until we had children. The girls loved to play with the antenna, and one day I found that the plastic covering the antenna had been broken into pieces. Though we did use the phone a bit longer, that was the beginning of the end for the poor phone.

We were given a new phone set for Christmas that year; we thought it was great because it came with two handsets, and one of those didn't even have to be plugged into a phone line! That set lasted several years - until shortly after our move, in fact. Though we had faithfully kept the phones on their chargers, their batteries had finally died. We tried to find the correct cordless phone battery, but apparently the phones were so old that the batteries were no longer carried in the stores. Instead, we purchased a new set of phones, which we are currently using.

I found it interesting that, while each successive set of phones became smaller, the quality noticeably increased. It's amazing how quickly technology changes in the course of a few years.


Piggy Banks

I don't know about your children, but mine love their piggy banks. When the girls were younger, Grandma and Grandpa knew that they needed to bring change when they came for a visit because as soon as they got inside our door, my darling little "angels" would mob them, asking if they had brought any money. My daughters have since learned a few more manners, but they still love to be given money.

When we moved, I decided it was time to empty the piggy banks. I placed the contents into labeled plastic bags until I finally decided to sort the coins. After sorting $65 in change, I sure wished that we had a coin sorter; sorting that much change by hand is tedious!


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I want it all!

Now that I create custom blog headers for pay, I am itching to change everything "work" related:
I want more computer memory, high-speed Internet access (instead of the annoying dial-up service we now have), new design software, and, while I'm dreaming, even a brand new computer! I guess it's my turn to experience the domino effect from the "want" end.


For Heather

For Heather

This is just a quick post to let you know about a lady in need. I've been so buried in design work (which is a great thing!) that I really haven't done much in the blogging world, either writing or reading, and I almost missed out on this.

A while ago, BooMama led a donation campaign for Kelli. The response was tremendous. This time, Heather is in need. Her situation is especially sensitive for me because, reminiscent of my pastor's situation, she just found out that she has a malignant tumor on her brain. Heather will soon be traveling to the Mayo clinic, and BooMama has once again set everything up for us to make donations to aid Heather. The minimum donation is $1; surely we can give at least that much! I know I'll be participating, and I hope you will, too. Oh, yes. BooMama said that the donation account will remain open for about two weeks. She will post updated totals as time progresses.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Photo of Pookie Bear

Grandma once again bought the girls matching dresses at Christmas. We just took photos of them a couple of weeks ago. This is Pookie's portrait. We always take photos at Mr. Incredible's grandparents' place because of these lovely flowers.


Friday, April 13, 2007

Oh, where has my little pen gone?

Why can I never find a pen when I need one?! We have, oh, about a zillion in our house, and when they are not needed, they are everywhere. However, when the doctor's office calls to reschedule an appointment, I cannot lay hands on one single solitary (working) pen. I tried using those pens that are attached to a magnetic clipboard; I tried putting the pens in a specific place. Yet the pens always manage to elude me during my moment of need.

Does this happen in your house? If not, how do you avoid the "vanishing pen" syndrome?


Following in my footsteps

I'm going to have to hire Pookie Bear to design headers for me pretty soon! She has discovered how to use the program I use to create the headers, and, being a child, she has no inhibitions about playing with it and figuring out how it works. She is always begging me to let her print "just one paper."

Yesterday, she showed me these creations. The one with 3 figures is of (left to right) Baby Bear, Pookie Bear, and Miss Muffet. The one with two figures is of Mr. Incredible and me. I love the storm cloud and lightening bolt in that one!

Mr. Incredible deemed these "refrigerator worthy" but commented how odd it is to see our child's artwork created on the computer instead of with crayons. I agree, but Pookie does make these creations in traditional mediums as well.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Suggestions, anyone?

Mr. Incredible and I were discussing ways to use the two weeks of vacation that he must use or lose this year. He actually has three weeks, but he is allowed to roll over 40 hours each year. Since he is prudent and likes to plan for any emergency, he always tries to leave one week to roll over.

We decided that one week will be spent at our old church helping with Vacation Bible School in June. We figured that was the best way we knew to help Pastor Daniel, and Mr. Incredible always loved helping with the annual VBS, and it will seem like old times for him.

We discussed using the other week for a family beach vacation with our parents and siblings. While the price of a vacation home rental may seem prohibitive, when the cost is split among several families it can actually be quite reasonable, especially if you bring your own food to cook instead of eating out.

We have not yet decided what we will do. Do you have any favorite vacation ideas to suggest?


Mystery solved

It seems as though we are constantly buying pet supplies, yet we only have one cat. True, she is a glutton but not enough of one to account for the amount of cat food we have to purchase. We finally figured out that our children are creating the need for insane amounts of kitty items.

Earlier this week, I had absent-mindedly left the laundry room door open. Mr. Incredible went in for something and practically howled with dismay at the sight that greeted his eyes. Baby Bear had gotten used kitty litter out of the cat box and had dumped it not only into Sami's food dish but also into the bag of cat food. We lost quite a bit of cat food because we had to throw it out along with the kitty litter. Children always find ways to create their own adventures!


If you want new furniture

If you are in the market for new furniture, you should really consider buying from North Carolina. North Carolina furniture is big business. High Point, North Carolina hosts an annual national furniture show, and Hickory, NC also thrives on the furniture business.

Consider purchasing display models. Often, display pieces are in good condition and are offered for much cheaper prices than the non-display inventory. A friend of ours who was second-in-command (I can't remember his actual title) for a large furniture retailer furnished his home with display models. Everything is lovely and of very high quality.

Which are some of your favorite furniture retailers?


What in the world are peptides?

Sometimes my assignments are adventures in education. Such was the case with this one.

Can any of you define the word peptide? I vaguely remember learning about peptides in biology, and I thought they had something to do with proteins or amino acids, but that was all I could remember. I obviously didn't retain what I had "learned"!

It turns out that my shaky recollections were correct as far as they went. According to Wikipedia, "Peptides (from the Greek πεπτος, "digestible") are the family of short molecules formed from the linking, in a defined order, of various α-amino acids. The link between one amino acid residue and the next is an amide bond and is sometimes referred to as a peptide bond."

I learned that peptides can be used to create antibodies against the protein(s) from which it was created. The information was not clear whether that application was for human or animal use, but I can see how such antibodies could prove beneficial for people whose bodies have problems with certain proteins.

Another use for peptides involves the use of mass spectrometry. Prior to this assignment, I had only heard about the mass spectrometer on the television show NCIS. A mass spectrometer provides an analysis of the individual components of a substance. In this application, proteins are identified by the masses and sequence of its peptides.

The manufacture of synthetic peptides is vital for studying protein structure and function. Synthetic peptides allow researchers to see where interactions occur between proteins and peptides. Since scientists can identify the reactions, they can create inhibitor peptides to eradicate said reactions. Possible applications include the inhibition of cancer proteins and other diseases.

As you can see, I learned a lot about peptides because of this assignment. Thank you, payu2blog, for enriching both my pocketbook and my mind!


Monday, April 09, 2007

Spring projects

If the weather ever decides whether it wants to be hot or cold, we would be in great shape to start some springtime projects. Mr. Incredible mentioned the other day that we really need to do some outside house painting. I must say that the trim on our eaves looks rather odd. When we purchased the house, the sellers agreed to have rotten wood replaced. The eaves featured quite a few rotten boards, meaning that freshly painted boards soon abutted the old trim with its peeling paint. That's not exactly the classiest look for a house!

I would love to paint the interior as well, but I still have not decided which option to choose for that project. Since we have a fenced back yard, I could kick the kids outside to play while I paint inside. Somehow, they don't like being outside as much when Mommy is not with them!

I love flowers, particularly perennials, and would love to plan and "install" a few beds, but I'm reluctant to do that because I absolutely loathe weeding. We had some lovely flower beds at our old house, but I always dreaded the time when I could no longer ignore the weeds choking out the poor flowers. An unweeded flower bed really detracts from a home's beauty.

What are some of the projects that you plan to tackle soon?


New life

Welcoming a new life - what a great way to celebrate Easter! Mr. Incredible's brother and sister-in-law gladly welcomed little Jordan into the world around 7:00 p.m. yesterday. I was preparing lunch when we got the call that C. was in labor. Thankfully, I did not have any church responsibilities that evening, and we were able to be at the hospital when Jordan was born. Mother and baby are both doing fine. Jordan was a "bouncing baby boy," weighing in at 8 pounds 9 ounces! It was really special for Mr. Incredible to get to be with his brother shortly after he became a father. Mr. Incredible, Pookie Bear, Miss Muffet, and I all went up to see mother and baby about an hour after he was born. Both R. and C. are extremely proud parents and are thrilled with their new son - so much so that when they get their phone bill, they just might want a telecom audit! (Probably not, but I thought I'd throw that in there for fun anyway.)


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Resurrection Sunday

Today we celebrate Christ's resurrection from the dead. He not only died for our sins but also came back to life after three nights in the grave, proving His power over death and sin. Aren't you glad that we serve a risen Lord Who will soon call us to be with Him?


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Diet trial

One night while in that state between deep sleep and wakefulness, I dreamed a curious dream.

I was attending a trial such as I had never heard or seen before. It was a diet trial, and multitudes of diets filled the defendant's bench.There were diets of every shape and size: fad diets, old diets, natural diets - every kind of diet imaginable was present. In fact, as the defendants kept arriving, more benches had to be added in order that they might all have a place to sit.

Once all defendants were present, the judge opened the case and stated that the trial was convened to determine the continued existence of diets. He first gave the floor to the prosecutor.

The prosecutor charged that all of the diets on trial had made false promises: happiness, enhanced self-esteem, and beauty were some of the common rewards anticipated by the victims who had invested in the various diet programs. It was proved that not one of the diets was able to fulfill the unrealistic expectations they had insinuated into the consciousness of their users.

After the prosecutor made his case, the defense proceeded to state the diets' side. He affirmed that those who bought into the diet programs often harbored unrealistic expectations of the rewards bestowed upon those who successfully completed the program. He also acknowledged that many, who had successfully lost a large amount of weight in a short period of time, had not succeeded in keeping off the excess poundage they had shed. Yet he argued for the continued existence of the diets, stating that successful dieters did end up with better health and fewer risks for diseases. The defender also insisted that the diets should not be punished for the unrealistic expectations harbored by their users because the diets never implicitly guaranteed such results.

"In fact," he stated, "it is the diet marketers who inspire such deluded dreams with their slicks campaigns. Do not punish the diets for crimes which they did not commit!"

After examining and cross-examining the witnesses, both sides rested their cases. The jury proceeded to deliberate, and the court was cloaked in uneasy silence. Finally, the jury announced that it had reached a verdict.

"We, the gentlemen and ladies of the jury, find the defendants NOT GUILTY!" declared the foreman of the jury.

Pandemonium ensued: the diets and their supporters cheered wildly while the dieters' faces fell in disappointment. I asked the foreman of the jury why they had found the diets not guilty, but just as he was explaining their decision...

hunger pains woke me up.

"Well," thought I, "I'm not guaranteed to be any happier, any more beautiful, or any wealthier just because I lose some weight. I'm not starving myself anymore. I hear some chocolate-covered mints calling my name, and I'm going to answer!"


Easter with family

It's almost Easter (or Resurrection Day, to be precise). That means that we will be attending Mr. Incredible's big family Easter dinner. We enjoy seeing family members we have not seen in a while - since Christmas, anyway.

All of these family get-togethers are potluck meals, and there is always plenty of delicious food to eat. The location rotates among Mr. Incredible's grandfather and his five siblings. No matter which sibling hosts, it's a tight squeeze to fit the 20-40 people who normally attend! Folding tables are set up in every available space, and walkways are limited to the smallest margins needed to maneuver through the maze of happily feasting relatives. After the meal, holiday cheer is reflected in the happily smiling faces of the contented diners. Card games appear, and old-fashioned fun commences.

Altogether, spending Easter with extended family is a pleasant experience.


Anniversary ideas

Our anniversary is coming up in a couple of months. We'll be celebrating eight years of marriage. I love being Mrs. Incredible! (Hey, it gave me the cool super-hero nickname. *laughs*) Mr. Incredible has promised that we will have at least a couple of days to ourselves without the girls. Please don't think that I don't love my children; I do! I just need time alone with my husband every so often, and I think our anniversary is the ideal time to get away - just the two of us. Anyway, I'm hoping we can stay at a Bed and Breakfast. I have always thought that sounded like a wonderful vacation.

Have any of y'all had the pleasure of that experience? Do you have any places you would recommend?


Save money with generic prescriptions

I'm sure you already know that generic prescriptions are cheaper than the "name brand" ones, but did you realize that, in several states, Wal-Mart fills generic prescriptions for $4? That's right - their charge for filling a generic prescription without insurance is less than my prescription drug plan co-pay! Say, for example, you have back pain and the doctor prescribes Ultram. If you ask him to sign that the prescription may be filled using the generic equivalent, you can pay $4 for Tramadol (generic Ultram) instead of shelling out big bucks for the name brand drug.

Have any of you purchased $4 generic drugs yet?


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Change your diet

When I hear of friends and acquaintances being struck down with cancer and other diseases, I can't help wondering how much our eating habits contribute to the contraction of such diseases. We Americans love our processed foods, and it shows.

While my family rarely eats out and I cook most meals from scratch, I know that we still eat too many chemical-laden foods. Convenience foods like Pop Tarts, American cheese, and Hamburger Helper are saturated with preservatives, trans fats, and other substances not ideal for human consumption. While we do take some diet supplements, they can only help us so much. They cannot purify our bodies of the harmful substances we cram into them, nor can they completely make up for the lack of nutritional value in our diet.

If you are concerned about receiving the proper nutrition, supplements can be a good place to begin improving your nutritional intake, but the best course is to change your diet to include more healthy foods. Don't try to effect complete change overnight, however; sometimes the slow path is the path that leads to lasting change.


Technology dictates change

Have you been impacted by the recently-implemented electronic check processing technology? Because checks can now be presented for payment electronically, people are finding that their old ways of handling finances must be changed. No longer are you guaranteed a grace period in which to deposit or transfer money to cover the check you wrote. Instead, the prudent course is to have the funds in your account before writing a check. Actually, that has always been the wise course of action; the difference is that today's technology is forcing more people to choose the path of prudence.


Asking for the moon

Writing about my dream to travel across Europe prompted me to share that dream with Mr. Incredible. He thought that sounded like fun but wanted to know where we were going to get the money for such an adventure. I explained that we could stick away a little at a time and get there eventually.

He decided that was a good idea, which emboldened me to share a few more wishes, including the desire for such items as a high-quality digital camera, an array of grandfather clocks, a good vacuum cleaner, tickets to The Phantom of the Opera, and, hey, why not a trip to the moon while I'm dreaming?

You know, I think that some of those wishes just might come true now that I've actually shared them with him. Only, I already know the trip to the moon won't become reality; I'm simply asking for ... the moon.

photo of moon courtesy of stock.xchng


Play date!

Tomorrow, the girls and I are going to the park to with several other mothers and children from our church for a big ol' play date, and I anticipate that we will have a lot of fun. We don't get out with others very much, and it will be nice to have a chance for the girls (and me) to socialize for a change. I always take along bottle of ice water in case we get thirsty, but I do wish we had a water bottle filter so that we could refill our bottle without having to worry about impurities or bad tastes! I haven't told the girls about our outing yet, but I know that they are going to be very excited when I finally let them know what we are going to be doing.


Monday, April 02, 2007

Celtic Woman concert

Mr. Incredible and I had a wonderful weekend! He took Friday off from work so that we could have a relaxed day together instead of having to rush around in order to get to the concert on time. We dropped the girls off with his parents around 1:00 p.m. and went by ourselves (!) up to Raleigh where we spent a leisurely and most enjoyable afternoon.

We went to Burrage Music Company, the music store that I have really missed since we moved, where I purchased a new offertory book and two books for the children's choir I direct. Afterward, we went to Olive Garden where we ate enormous quantities of salad and breadsticks. Oh, yeah, we did order entrees. *smile* The best part? We used a gift card we had gotten at Christmas. How's that for a cheap date? After Olive Garden, we went to a mall and killed some time walking around Sears where I found a lovely printed "quilt" for our king size bed - $19.98!

At 6:30 p.m. we headed to Raleigh Memorial Auditorium for the concert. We were plenty early; the concert didn't start until 8:00! But Mr. Incredible didn't know what to expect and wanted to be too early rather than too late. We enjoyed sitting and talking before the concert began. It was nice to cuddle and hold hands and just act like young lovers again. Finally, the lights went down and the show started.

The girls' costumes were lovely! They were different from the ones we had seen in the DVD, and I liked these much better. Maev (a soloist) was missing as was David Downes (the conductor/composer), but there was certainly nothing lacking in their performances! Mairead's playing of the violin was simply incredible, and I wanted to laugh out loud from sheer joy after each of her performances. Mr. Incredible and I were both delighted with the concert and with the evening, and we hope to repeat the experience again sometime.


Sunday, April 01, 2007

Layne Daniel update (March 31, 2007)

I spoke with his wife tonight. Tomorrow will be two weeks since his brain surgery. He preached at church tonight and did well but was, understandably, tired afterward. He goes to Chapel Hill on Tuesday for a consultation and begins radiation treatments on Wednesday. He will be receiving chemo orally and will have radiation treatments five times a week for the next 6 1/2 weeks. His wife has taken a leave of absence from her teaching position, but their children will be finishing out the school year. Thanks for your prayers! I'll keep you posted as I learn more myself.