Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Home is the nicest word there is.
-Laura Ingalls Wilder

Today is such a great day for being home. As snow blows past windows and dances around blooming roses, I sit in knitted woolen socks, drinking a steaming mug of tea and sorting through old photographs. Ah, home. It truly is the best place there is.

Over Thanksgiving, which now seems like 73 1/2 years ago, my beautiful Aunt Mindy and charming Uncle Tim asked me to post more pictures of the house on my blog. I hesitate, because my home... as much as I adore it... is a diamond-in-the-rough type of place. Freeman House is wild and creaky and ... wonderful. Only you have to be a true visionary (or a NyQuil-dependent cold and flu sufferer) to see it.

Take this for example. Oh goodness. Look at this picture. I think it was taken around September of 2004. This is a picture of one of the three kitchens in Freeman House when I bought her. (Yep, three yicky-yuck kitchens.)

This room is now my bedroom. In fact, the two photographs above are of the same wall in the same room. Uncle George's ancient wardrobe backs up against the very spot those dingy cabinets once hung. That makes me smile. Where there used to be disgusting kitchen storage and gummy-residued panelling, there is now freshly-painted sheetrock and a newly-waxed family heirloom. This wall is one of the first things I see when I wake up in the morning. I love it.

Slanted floors, creaky doors, yucky chores... gosh, I adore this home. And while I suddenly wish I could invite you over, slice into a warm chocolate cake, and take you on a tour, I know home is sacred. I know our time at home... our time with each other and with our pets and our projects... is sacrosanct and fleeting. So on this gray, snow-sprinkled day, I simply wanted to say that I wish you warmth and peace and yummy things wherever you are.

...In a word, I wish you home.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Postcard from the Subconscious

Dreams are postcards from our subconscious,
inner self to outer self,
right brain trying to cross that moat to the left.
-from Northern Exposure, 1991

So I've had this dream several nights in a row. Do you ever do that? Dream the same thing over and over again? This one is strange... it's almost as if I'm supposed to understand something from this dream, but since I'm not, it has to repeat itself until I comprehend whatever it's trying to convey. Strange, right? I think I've been working too hard.

Anyway, in this dream I'm sitting at my dinner table. I'm dressed to go somewhere, and I'm drinking a glass of orange juice - always a glass of orange juice. And I'm struggling - I'm struggling with a letter I'm trying to write. It's obviously a very important letter. At times I'm almost overcome with emotion, but finally I scribble something onto the page, seal it up, and walk to the mailbox.

But last night... well, last night the dream was different. Last night I dreamed I scribbled something onto the page, sealed it up, and walked to the mailbox. Only suddenly I turn around, walk back inside, and tear the letter open, preparing to add something to the bottom of the page. And this... this is what my soul-searching, heart-wrenching letter says:

Eat snails and puke. Eat snails and puke?? That's what this letter I've been writing for 4 nights says: eat snails and puke? Are you kidding me?! (In my dream, I reread the letter, nod, and solemnly sign my name at the bottom. Then I put it back in the envelope and walk back to the mailbox.)

Omgosh. I woke up in the middle of the night last night laughing so hard I was this short of snorting. It still cracks me up. If you ever wondered what newly-single women subsisting on 3 straight days of homemade quiche dream about, now you know.

Hoo-boy. Nothing like a postcard from my subconscious. (Grinning.)

In reality, or, well... as close as I get to it, anyway, I finished and turned in a 98-page report for work today. (A 98-page, mind-numbing, time-eating, fun-killing report that I'm thrilled to be rid of. Yea!) And I had to get a flat fixed on my brand new tire. (But, thank the Lord, it flattened itself to a pancake not even a block from a tire shop. And the tire guy was cute and didn't even charge me.) Then I got pulled over by a trooper. ("Ma'am, did you know your front license plate is missing? Oh? Well, okay. Here, let me call Dicky and get you in tomorrow to get that taken care of.")

It's strange, this messy, thrilling life of mine: conscious or subconscious. It's strange because whether I'm awake or dreaming, home or working, taking care of or taken care of, I see God's love... God's protection... God's graciousness and God's humor... yes, even His humor!... all around me.

I love it.

So this evening, as I sit at my table and watch the sun set like a stone, I sit and consciously think. And I laugh. And I thank God for His provision and His protection and His peace.

Okay. I guess my conscious self will go make dinner now. I have some of the most gorgeous tomatoes ever, and I'm thinking maybe fresh, homemade tomato sauce would go great in a lightly-browned and bubbly lasagna. Or baked ziti. Or eggplant parmigiana.

But no snails. Hold the snails. I believe the postcard from my subconscious made that very clear.

(Don't forget to comment on the Happy 100th post - if you've not already - by Friday. Delicious prizes are at stake!)

Saturday, January 27, 2007

To Live...

To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.
-Emily Dickinson

I was despairing last night. After getting home impossibly late, I checked the weather only to discover that it called for rain - again! - on Saturday. Normally that wouldn't be an issue. Normally gently-raining Saturdays are among my favorite things. But not this weekend. It just wouldn't do. I have onions to plant. I have lettuces to thin and seed and get going. I'm a busy girl. A busy girl with a garden. The rain will have to wait.

And would you believe... it did? I didn't brew coffee or anything this morning; I leaped from bed, pulled on jeans and my gardening boots, and rushed outside. Planting? Done! Mulching? Mulched! Lettuces? Better! In fact, I even have some little pretties patiently unfurling in an old dish pan I uncovered ages ago underneath Freeman House. (Above.) I like the portable lettuce set-up. I like to think of it as to go salad.

But wouldn't you know, just as soon as I'd visited the roses, blueberries, onions, lettuces, arugula, and lamb's ear, the sky opened up. By the time I burst through the kitchen door, my clothes were soaked, my hair was dripping, and my boots were squishing as I walked. Yick. Time to get cleaned up and make something to eat.

But not just anything to eat, of course. Oh no. Days ago, after glimpsing the unfairly beautiful quiche that Deb turned out of her Smitten Kitchen, I have craved quiche. I mean, craved quiche. And not the frozen ones I saw the other day at Sam's Club, either. I mean warm, homemade, buttery, cheesy quiche. Like Deb's. Okay, okay... it's raining so hard I'm done for the day anyway. Quiche me.

So, as it rained and rumbled on the other side of my window panes, I grabbed my trusty pastry cutter-inner (what's it called?) and cut butter into flour. (Yeah, by hand. I don't own a food processor or mixer or anything. Although I cook all the time, I really don't like them. I find them noisy and hard to clean. So I use things like food mills and this pastry cutter, which I found buried in a box of old kitchen implements in Harper County, Kansas. The proprietor said everything came out of an old boarding house that used to serve meals to none other than Sheriff Doc Holiday. Cool.)

So as rain dripped and drummed from the roof down to the ivy under the kitchen window, I cut pastry and rolled out dough and mixed filling and got my quiche in the oven. A short time later, it was done. What time is it? I wondered, looking for a clock. Probably too late for lunch but too early for dinner...

It was. So I looked at my quiche. I took a picture of it. I promised it I would be back later and wandered to the back of the house to grab my raincoat, switching on lamps as I went. A friend and I are walking to the old theatre downtown tonight to catch In Pursuit of Happyness. He promised to hold the umbrella as we walk if I promised not to jump in puddles and splash him like I did last time.

Gosh, this rainy Saturday has gone by fast. Too fast. I probably should have gotten more done. I should have been more diligent with my arugula duties. It's just... well, it's just... just that living doesn't seem to leave time for anything else, does it?

Emily was right. It can be startling when you think about it...

(Don't forget to comment on the Happy 100th! blog post if you haven't already. Delicious prizes are at stake!)

Friday, January 26, 2007

Happy 100th!

I had the loveliest of days yesterday. Did you? Maybe you should have stopped by. At Freeman House there was sunshine, swept wooden floors, iced tea on the porch, pretty mail in the mailbox, chirping birds at the feeder, blooming blueberry bushes, three dinner guests, and butter-yellow roses and a homemade chocolate cake.

Really, you should have been here.

Maybe I had anticipated the bright, beautiful day, because the night before I baked Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Fudge Cake. When I read that it "serves 10, or 1 with a broken heart", I abandoned my former standby recipe and lunged for the nearest stainless steel mixing bowl.

Although the cake turned out a little dense, it had the most sweetly delicate chocolate crumbs in the world: English or otherwise. (Nigella, this is why I adore you and always will.) The recipe came from my recent Amazon score Nigella Bites, although next time I will decidedly go back to the chocolate cake of my first love, also courtesy of Nigella. For that Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake recipe, click here.

I'm glad I had leftovers when the night was done. You see, today is pretty special, too. Today marks the 100th post to my little blog here! Hard to believe. Whether you're new to this site or have been with me since the first messy, thrilling day, I'm so glad you've come! So in celebration of you... of you and me meeting here... I have a bit of a present for you, my wonderful blog family and friends:

How does Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies and Serendipity's Frozen Hot Chocolate sound? Yummy? Good! Here's how it will work. Comment to this blog post and wish her a happy 100th post... or whatever. Be sure to leave your first name or a link to your blog. Then next Friday, February 1st, I'll randomly draw three comments, and those sweet and lovely people will get a tin (above) of cookies and serving-makings for 2 of the Frozen Hot Chocolate famously served to lucky New Yorkers everyday at Serendipity 3.

Sounds like a win-win, Happy 100th to me! Good luck and love to you all! -B

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Knit Together: Project Easter

And now, before I forget, let me introduce:
Knit Together's Project Easter...

It's crazy to even mention, but Easter will be here before we know it. Yikes! With that close to mind, Knit Together will be kicking off our Project Easter on February 1st. Please consider joining us as we knit, crochet, or quilt baby blankets and afghans for the children at Hope Haven, a homeless shelter in Texas that provides food, clothing, support and ministry to struggling mothers and their precious little ones.

Blankets can be any size, shape, or color, but please - as you plan, think cute and cozy! (This one was so soft I had trouble keeping Maebelline off my lap as I knitted.) We're trying for 25 blankets for 25 children. Surely we can do that, right? The shelter is currently housing several mothers with boys and girls ages newborn to elementary school, so blue, pink, and gender-neutral blankets would be wonderful.

Be creative! Whip up a favorite blanket or quilt, or craft along with us. I'll soon be posting my knit pattern for the Knit Together: Project Easter for any knitting gals needing a little inspiration (or a black-and-white nudge). Crochet and quilting patterns will follow, too.

It's my hope that you'll consider joining us as we get sweet items into the hands of children who so desperately need a little handmade warmth and love!

Happy creating!

Tagged! Six Weird Things...

Tag, I'm it? Okay, sure!

I don't know whether y'all have caught the latest email/blog tag game, but it's really simple, apparently: tell six weird things about yourself. (Only six? Let me narrow it down, then.) Thanks, Andrea, for the tag. Here we go!

(1) I'm mildly obsessed with my clothesline. I love hanging things out to dry. I look for things to hang out to dry. I recently made myself a homemade clothespin bag with pretty fabric, because the store-bought ones are so blah. The pins bulge out of it. Should you ever wish to get me something, buy me cool wooden clothespins. [When I was a girl, I would have to hang all of the jeans out on the line on washday. (There are 7 of us, so it was a LOT of jeans!) Anyway, when they were all dry and stiff, I'd take off all the clothespins but leave the jeans hanging. Then I'd stand by one of the clothesline poles, facing the opposite pole, stick out my bony little arm, and run as fast as I could, collecting all the jeans in a (heavy) heap over my outstretched arm. Ah, yes. Good, memories! :D]

(2) As much as I love clotheslines and clothespins, I abhor pennies. Yeah, as in penny-pennies. I refuse to touch them. Thankfully now most cashiers will put the receipt in your hand first, and dump your change on top of that. I simply slide the change into my billfold, dump the pennies from my billfold to my change bucket, and from there haul it to the bank and let them touch all the pennies. Yick! (Again... when I was little, my brother swallowed a few pennies. My Mom was all worried, and for hours... days, it seems... we had to check his poop for those gross pennies.) Poopie pennies is what they are! I won't touch the little germ-ridden, dirty-pocket-riding, sidewalk-laying, grubby things for anything!

Yeah, I'm weird.

(3) Old houses are my thing. Old barns, too. And the worse off they are, the better! I'm the world's biggest fan of Restore America and causes like that. Freeman House was a DUMP when I bought her. (In fact, my family and I jokingly called her "DUMPling Manor" for awhile. I actually have some folders printed up with that on them!) Anyhow, I can see no reason to tear down history when it can be saved for our kids and their kids. On my way home from court last week, my Mom and I drove by this little house (above) and I screamed, "STOPPPP!" After taking pictures of the place and its old barns, I vowed to move here when I was 35. I even tried to call a neighbor this week to see who owns it. Can't you just see it all prettied up, with a new porch and window boxes and an English-style garden and gravel pathways and a clothesline in the back? (Sigh.)

(4) I love raisins. Love them. But only from their little red boxes. Once you put them in anything, I'm out. Make a Double, Double, Triple-Layer Chocolate Fudge Brownie Cake with Chocolate Fudge Icing, but throw one raisin in the batter, and I'll pass, thank you very much.

(5). I read all magazines, newspapers, and short-story books back to front. I've even been known to read the last few chapters of a book by an unfamiliar author first, to see if I like the ending, before I invest too much time in the entire book. I like to say that I do this because the best features and pictures... whatever... are usually at the back. Whatever. I'm just weird.

(6) And finally, I love big sunglasses. Especially when I'm making my monkey-face while wearing them. (See?) I started wearing them a few years ago after reading an article that showed two women - one who habitually wore sunglasses, and the other who didn't. Might I say I immediately bought the biggest sunglasses I could find and started wearing them everywhere. To bed, almost. I have fair skin, for gosh sake!

And there you have it. Just six of an infinite number of weird things about me. Thanks, Andrea!

Okay, Susan ( and Sara ( consider yourselves tagged!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A Would-Be Drowning Day...

When I think I'm going under,
part the waters, Lord.
When I feel the waves around me,
calm the sea.
When I cry for help, oh, hear me, Lord
and hold out Your hand...
Touch my life,
Still the raging storm in me.

-Charles F. Brown

Sunday, January 21, 2007

What Remains Behind

Nothing can bring back the hour of splendor in the grass,
glory in the flower.
We will grieve not,
rather find strength in what remains behind.
-William Wordsworth

There are random scatterings of bulbs and boulders around the grounds of Freeman House. When I first began cleaning up the yards in 2004, the weeds and brush towered above my head. Now the backyard resembles any other cleared-out but untended yard; it's bare. Bare, that is, except for a few hydrangeas and roses, one large, mostly-buried rock, a few trees, and these random flowering bulbs to which I refer.

Yesterday, as the sun shone, I sneaked up on a cluster of these flowering clusters and beheaded them with a fatal whack! Once I'd removed the foliage, I dug several inches to extract the bulbs. As I did, I heard a dull clink. I fished in with my hand and removed an unusually hard stick. Wait. That's no stick. It's a bone.

Whether it and the ones that lay with it belonged to a cat or small dog, I couldn't tell. What I did know, however, was that I had disturbed the grave of an animal that someone - at some time - loved. Someone ... a woman... a child... someone, had taken the time to bury this small animal and plant bulbs above its grave.

A lot remains behind here. The story of Freeman House is an interesting one. Built in the 1880s, this home was the pride of the Connor family, some of the original settlers of the fourth oldest community in Texas. Around 1900, the Irvin family, who owned one of the first dry goods and hardware stores in the state, purchased the home. But in 1913, a Mrs. Ella Irvin, (a terrible and prideful woman, by most accounts I've read), decided the frame house was inferior to the brick and wallpapered homes she was hearing about. She had the house moved - on logs! - down the hill to where it now resides, and built a red brick house in its place.

Mrs. Ella apparently hired a young lady to keep the new house and tend her chickens. This house, once abandoned by the Irvins, must have served as a sort of servant's quarters. I assume this arrangement worked beautifully for several years, until the girl abruptly left and was replaced by a Miss Marie Freeman. (In the wall between what is now my bedroom and the livingroom, we found birthday cards and letters addressed to Mrs. Ella's husband, Richard. All are signed by "the girl who tends chickens". Wonder if that is among the reasons for the girl's hasty departure?)

Miss Freeman, I've learned, loved three things: flowers, food, and this house. (Sometimes, when I put out flowers... like these... I wonder about all the blooms this house must have seen.) After a short and heartbreaking marriage, Miss Freeman took a job at the Blue Moon Cafe downtown. She worked there until the 1940s, when Mrs. Ella decided to add on to the back of the old home and divide it into three living areas. Miss Freeman talked herself into the job of managing the property in exchange for room and board, and worked in that capacity until Mrs. Ella's death in the 1960s. Although the two women had an agreement that Miss Freeman would get the old house when Mrs. Ella died, it was either forgotten or intentionally left out of Mrs. Ella's 200-page probate.

The days that followed were interesting. Miss Freeman quietly stayed in the house until forced out, and then through a bit of trickery, bought the house from Mrs. Ella's decendants. Miss Freeman lived, gardened, and cooked here until the late 1980s, when she was moved to a nursing home. The property changed hands one final time before my name appeared on the deed.

As I've gone through this house, inside and out, I've often wondered about all the women who roomed here... lived here... laughed, cried, danced, cleaned, slept, wished, loved and prayed here. Some of them left things behind in the house. Others, apparently, left things behind on the grounds....

After my pet cemetery experience yesterday afternoon, I wandered over to the rock buried at the foot of the magnolia tree. I've often sat on that rock - it's smooth and wide enough for a tired bottom! - and wondered if a child once rolled it there to sit and think. Or read. Or boost herself into the tree. Only now I find myself wondering if an animal friend was buried beneath, and the rock remains as a marker of the grave.

Whatever it is, I think I'll leave it alone. The rock, the bulbs that bloom each spring, Miss Freeman's House... it's all comforting to me. They serve as a reminder that while some things change, others never do. Hebrews 13:8 says, "Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, forever." Until He decides otherwise, I suppose the splendor in the grass and the glory of the flowers will continue.

As for the ones who've gone before me: they have their story, and I'll have mine. I'll continue to uncover what I can while making memories of my own. And someday, when I've left Freeman House, maybe another woman will be a careful observer and caretaker of God's immutability. Of God's immutability and what remains behind....

Salad, Crisps and a Side of Mercies

My Redeemer is faithful and true.
Everything He has said He will do,
And every morning His mercies are new.
My Redeemer is faithful and true.
-Steven Curtis Chapman and James Isaac Elliott
Based on Psalm 103:17

The sun is back! I awoke early this morning to the realization that something seemed different.... audaciously bright, somehow. I hurried to the sitting room (it has floor-to-ceiling windows), and looked out on the backyard. Sunny! Green! It was as if the grass and clover sprang up overnight, knowing the sun would be there to bathe them this morning. I put on my shoes, grabbed my camera, and hurried out to greet the green. As I lay on the soft grass, breathing in the sun and its spring sneak-peek, I sighed. Every morning His mercies are new....

Just seeing and feeling that grass made me strangely hungry for something... anything!... green. Why is it that in winter nearly everything we stuff ourselves with is served in a bowl: soups, stews, oatmeals, puddings, etc.? I have yet to get plumbing installed for a dishwasher, so I can't tell you how many spoons and bowls and saucers have made an appearance in the drying rack near my sink. Suddenly, though, I'm craving green... and crunch. I'm craving crunchy greens. I'm wanting to hold a fork and trade my bowl for a lovely-rimmed salad plate. Today... today I'm making salad.

Oh... you know what would really be good? Salad and Cheddar Crisps. Ah-ha! We'll forget there ever was a winter! We'll make it and eat it out in the warm sun and think about new mercies. How 'bout it?

So here's how it works. Make a salad. Any salad. Take anything green you like and toss it with any other vegetables and dressings and cheeses you like. Today I've used a spring salad mix with baby radishes and crumbled Feta cheese and homemade vinagrette. But go with iceberg and diced tomatoes and ranch dressing, if you like. Once you've made your salad, whip these pretties up. You'll send yourself a thank you note.


4 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 c. unsalted butter, softened
½ t. red pepper *
1 ¼ c. flour
1 c. Rice Krispies (yep)
1 c. pecans, coarsely chopped

1. Line baking sheets with parchment paper, or use baking stone or tile. Preheat oven to 375 F.
2. In large mixing bowl, beat together cheese, butter, and pepper until combined. (*DO NOT leave pepper out. Do not think you’re doing your grandkids or sister or picky-eater daughter a favor by leaving this out. The pepper only serves to enhance the flavor of the cheese and nuts; it does not make the recipe spicy. Promise. If you leave it out, your crisps will be missing something.)
3. Stir in flour until mixed, then carefully mix in cereal and pecans.
4. Roll into ¾ inch balls and place on baking sheet. Flatten into a disk with the palm of your hand or the bottom of a glass.
5. Bake in a 375 F oven for 9 minutes, or until edges are golden and lacy. Cool and remove from pan. Store in airtight container, if you have any left!

(Note: These are amazing! Eat with salad, as an appetizer, or for snacks. You won’t be able to keep them in the house, I promise! I often half this recipe, and usually buy “pecan bits” at the store – they’re cheap and already chopped. Feel free to use white cheddar, traditional cheddar – anything you like – for this recipe. If you don’t keep ground red pepper in your pantry, you can certainly use crushed red pepper, or “pizza pepper” as it’s sometimes called.)


CrunchCrunchCrunch. Gosh, it's so refreshing to eat crunchy, green things. It's delightful to feel the warm sun on my shoulders again. And it's comforting to think of how every morning... sunny or not, realize it or not... every morning God's mercies are new. Wow. My Redeemer is faithful and true! ...

(...And these Cheddar Crisps are really good! :D)

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Higher Ground

I had hoped this week would pass unnoticed. I had hoped that I could gloss over any mention of the turmoil that's been raging in my life, and post something - anything - other than the events of this week. Of yesterday. But it wasn't meant, I suppose, to be that way.

I'm not sure how to phrase this, except to say that... my marriage is over. Finished. Done. Yesterday the judge looked down at me from her lofty wooden bench, and in a clear and matter-of-fact voice, said: "I'll accept the testimony as presented today to the Court. As soon as your attorney files these papers, you'll be a single woman." She said it with so little emotion that the words seemed to slow as they reached my ears. A single woman. She was so nonchallant. So frozen. A lot like the ground I'd passed on my way there. "I'm a single woman," I said to myself, as flatly as the judge had.

A single woman...

You never marry with the intention of being single again. You certainly don't wait 27 years to get married, only to face a judge some five months later. After eliminating guy after guy, you don't settle on one - the "one" - thinking he'll be anything aside from steady and supportive and strong. You see his humor, not his uncontrollable rage. You see his romantic side, not his inclination to control and manipulate and belittle. You see his compassion, never dreaming you'd find yourself on one end of a gun and he on another, hearing yourself beg him for that same compassion you once thought you recognized. No, when you clasp hands and say "I do", you see what could be. You never, ever, glimpse what will be.

So after a judge looks down at you from her lofty wooden bench and declares herself satisfied with testimony... and delcares yourself "a single woman"... you hear those words and feel your emotions go dark inside. And you realize, as you look the judge in the eye.... you realize you have a choice to make. Right then, you have a choice to make. You can continue down that long, dangerous road of anger and bitterness and self-pity, or you can stop, turn around, and head for higher ground.

Since I stockpiled whatever courage I had and left him, I've felt like I've been dangling over a pit, clinging to the ground above with my fingernails. I can't ... there's no way I can... pull myself out of this by my own strength. And yet if I give any, if I surrender any more ground, I'm falling: falling into a bottomless pit of anger and hatred. And once I'm in that pit, it's just me. No one is there to witness my hurt, my desperation, or my pain. Oh no. Once I'm in that pit, I'm alone with the raw bitterness that would seek to overtake me. To change me. To ruin me. Once I'm in that pit, I'm finished.

But the pit isn't my only option. As I fight my way through my emotion, I'm slowly learning there is a turn-around. I can't dig myself out of a pit, but I have a loving heavenly Father who can. And not only can He pull me from this pit, He can carry me to higher ground.

Of this I'm sure: there is higher ground. There is a higher plane than I have found. I'm sure of it. Being beaten does not have to mean being bitter. Being hurt does not mean being a hostage... a hostage of your fear, your rage, your resentment. Being victimized does not mean you have to be... or stay... a victim. Being wounded (or single or broken or childless or damaged - whatever we are) does not have to mean we are wrecked. Being wounded does not have to mean we are weak...

...Being in need of saving does not mean we are without a Savior.

I suppose everyone has to face their own crisis... their own heartbreak... at one time or another. We all have to live our post-event lives headed into a pit or out of a pit. I guess all this today, (and sorry for all this today), is to say that yesterday, as I turned away from the judge, in all my emotion I remembered a hymn I used to sing in church as a girl. And suddenly, as I walked through those courtroom doors and felt my emotions dangling over that pit, I realized: I can leave this, too. I can leave this behind and head for higher ground.

It's my prayer for today and tomorrow.

My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay
Though some may dwell where these abound
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.
Lord, lift me up and let me stand
By faith on heaven’s table land
A higher plane than I have found
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.
-Johnson Oatman, Jr, 1898

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Recluse Makes Hot Chocolate

A man travels the world over in search of what he needs
and returns home to find it.
-George Moore

I suspect there may be something wrong with me. Seriously. Don't laugh! I don't want to leave my house.

This morning I walked through the sitting room off my bedroom and paused at the floor-to-ceiling window. It was sleeting. "It will be fun to go out," I told myself enthusiastically. Hmm... yeah. I'm too smart to pull one over on myself. I put an Old Navy sweater over my flannel duck pajamas, made hot chocolate, and settled into my favorite chair.

It's now after 5 p.m. I'm still sitting here in my duck pajamas. Sure, I walked to the mailbox. And sure, I swept the floors and washed up. But for most of the day, I've sat here, working on little projects and returning emails.

Why is it that some people won't stay home, while others of us won't leave home?

You know that brick wall most of us seem to hit every few years? I think I have one cheek embedded in it. I'm at a crossroads in my career. With the price of oil rapidly declining, more companies are hesitant to drill for oil - or hire people like me to take care of the preliminary drilling things I do. My job is one of feast or famine. For the last several years, everyone in the business has been riding high. That, I suspect, might soon change. Trouble is, I've only had two real professions in my working life: reporter, and oil and gas girl. As I near 30, neither really seem to fit the person I've become. In the last several months, I think I've identified the life I want. It's a risk. It's a gamble. But it could mean happiness, freedom, and the creative free-reign I've wanted forever.
And it will involve working from home. I would adore it. Reclusive? Yes. But Emily Dickinson was a reculse. So was van Gogh. So was Martha Stewart... when she was on house arrest. So is Harper Lee. See? Cool, contributive people hide out at home all the time.

My friend Brian - one of my favorite friends ever - thinks that work is just that: work. That work is one thing, and fun is another. That the two shouldn't necessarily mix. "They don't call it a job for nothing," he says. And maybe he's right. But... but... I just can't work... I can't delve into a career long term, if it isn't anything I'm passionate about. If it isn't anything I get enjoyment from. It makes me wonder: am I expecting too much?

So I sit here, in my chair, pondering my world. Pondering my world, and sipping on hot chocolate. Well, it is good hot chocolate. Here, I'll share:

Brin's Ain't Leaving Home

1 c. milk
1 cinnamon stick
1 1/2 T. unsweetened cocoa
2 T. sugar
1/2 t. vanilla

Pour milk into heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium high heat. Add cinnamon stick. Heat until hot, but not boiling.

In the meantime, mix cocoa and sugar in mug. Add vanilla and stir until mixture resembles chocolate-looking sand. (Yum.) When milk is hot, pour into mug and stir.

Top with extra cinnamon or whipped cream or chocolate or ice cream. If you're enjoying with Ginger Snaps, as I did today, mix in a little ginger. The world is your oyster, my friend.

Gosh. I suppose that as far as blog posts go, this is probably the most boring ever. Sorry about that! Perhaps if I left my house I'd have more to say....

(Sigh. Smile.)

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Puddles and Pudding

No sooner had I gone to bed last night than my phone rang. On the other end, a friend was reading my last blog entry and scoffing at my suggestion that she toss out the pudding cups in her fridge and make her own. "No, really," I insisted. "It's easy... and a hundred times better than whatever you have in there now."

"Prove it," she said.

I was going to email her the recipe, but thought maybe I should post it instead, just in case you're a skeptic, too.


(This recipe is a variation of one my Grandmother taught me. I use cream and milk because I like the richness, but she skips the cream and just uses 1 1/2 c. milk. The important thing is use quality ingredients; if you use skim milk and margarine and imitation vanilla, you won't like the results. Promise.)

1/2 c. sugar
2 T. flour
pinch salt
1 c. cream
1/2 c. milk
1 egg
1 T. butter
1 t. vanilla (or 1/2 vanilla whole bean, seeded)

Stir together sugar and flour in heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add cold cream and milk and whisk carefully to combine. Heat pudding over medium heat and stir frequently until it boils. Once it boils, stir for one minute. Next crack your egg into a cereal bowl. Ladle a bit of the hot pudding mixture into the bowl with the egg. Stir fast until it is well incorporated. (This keeps the egg from scrambling in your pudding.) Now scrape your bowl of egg and pudding mixture back into the saucepan. Whisk until smooth and remove from heat as soon as it gets bubbly.
Stir in butter and vanilla.

You're done! Wasn't that simple? You can now ladle your homemade pudding into cups and refrigerate, or if you have a soar throat like I do, dish it up, add some pretty fruit (or shaved chocolate) on top, and eat it warm from the pan. Do this once and you'll never buy pudding cups again.

You know, I think there are days made for pudding. Days like today, in fact. This recipe was made simple all-the-more by the fact that it hasn't stopped raining here in days and days. There are puddles everywhere. In fact, NOAA lists the forecast for Freeman House like this:

Yikes! I refuse to get out. Good thing I have clean socks and a huge stack of books to snuggle in with. Hmmm. Where should I start?
Speaking of books, just this week my friend Lacy asked me about the status of the library at Freeman House. Turns out, just this week the sheetrockers left. As it went, the plaster that I had so carefully applied and painted wasn't holding up to the home's moisture/settling issues, so the whole room... for the first time... got fresh new sheetrock walls. It's ready to finish again, but I've been in no hurry to start. To give you an idea of why, well, that fireplace... um... it's almost as tall as I am. (The scaffolding is taller than I am!) The room is huge.

Gosh. What am I doing sitting here? Better hurry off. So much to do, so little initiative. Sort of like so many puddles, and so little pudding.

Saturday, January 13, 2007


You can upgrade every aspect of your life without a lot of money
and with no more time than you're spending now.
Start... with the simplest of discernments,
choosing something that's just a bit delightful
over something that isn't.
-Victoria Moran

Today dawned with a rumble. After an overnight front, Freeman House is sitting on soggy, dreary, and chilly ground. (Guess my boots and rooted hydrangeas will have to wait for another day to play outside.) With an indoor Saturday in my future, I found I had some time to wander around. As I did, I realized: I love upgrades.

It's funny... we tend to think of upgrades as new cars and newer computers and plasma TVs, don't we? Upgrading usually means going from off-the-rack to designer duds. From college futons to showroom furniture. From public library to pricey book cafes. But please. I'm not sure about you, but my bank account is limited. Very limited. So before you go hollering, "Upgrades!? I can barely afford the standard grades!", hear me out. Upgrade in small areas, and you'll find a sweeter, happier quality of life almost instantaneously. I know I did.

A year ago, I read Moran's book, Creating a Charmed Life. At the risk of sounding dramatic, it changed my life in a noticeable way. Why? Because Victoria Moran is onto something, and as I began to look for small ways to upgrade my daily life, I noticed big changes. SMALL. WAYS. It works.

Case in point: I usually pick up a bouquet of grocery store flowers for myself on Valentine's Day. Seemed to help, I guess. But Valentine's Day 2005, I decided to shake things up. In the spirit of upgrading, instead of spending $17.99 on droopy, slimy, cut flowers, I bought 3 roses bushes. Cost the same. Only last summer, those rose bushes took off, and by late summer I had powdery pink and creamy white roses bathing in vases all over the house. Small upgrade? Yes. Big difference? You betcha!

Or... how about this? Instead of tossing out some pretty cotton nightgowns that have seen a few too many nights, I cut them up and began piecing together a quilt. (I did have to add in additional fabric, but still...) In another few weeks, I'll have a pretty, handmade quilt to use and later pass down, and I have a neater pajama drawer. Cost? About $7 and several cozy evenings in front of the TV.

Don't sew? I bet you eat! If you ask me, the easiest way to upgrade your life is by upgrading your food. Seriously. And no, I don't mean eating out. On the contrary, I'm suggesting giving the drive-thrus and local waiters a break and trying your own hand in the kitchen. Worked for me. Toss out the pudding cups and make your own pudding. Skip the packaged cookies and make your own, for heaven's sake. You miss them warm from the oven anyway, don't you? Try homemade soups - they're more delicious and healthy than canned. Make your own bread. Roast your own chicken. If, however, you are badly pressed for time or culinary skills, try this: next time you need a quick lunch, make my...

2 slices bread - whatever kind you have on hand
4 slices cheese - again, whatever kind you have on hand
(I used Muenster and American, but that's me.)
1/4 c. mayonnaise (or Miracle Whip if you insist)
Herbs, olives, carmelized onions, roasted red peppers... whatever
Squeeze lemon juice
Olive oil
1. Cut crust off bread and cut slices in half, creating 2 smaller sandwiches.
2. Coat non-stick skillet with olive oil. Place over medium high heat.
3. In small bowl, combine mayonnaise with any herb, olive, or vegetable of your choice. (Today I used kalamata olives and thyme. I was in a olive/thyme mood.)
Next, squeeze or squirt in a teaspoon or so of lemon juice. Refrigerate to combine flavors, or if you're starved, go ahead and slather it on slices of bread.
4. Stack cheese on mayonnaised bread and assemble sandwich.
5. Place sandwiches in hot oil, pressing them down with a spatula or the bottom of another pan.
6. Cook 1-3 minutes per side.
7. Revel in your upgraded, grilled cheese genius.

Seriously, upgrading is easy. Buy yummy soaps and exotic toothpastes. Skip the movies and take in a play. Turn off the workout tape and take a walk. Replace one weekly shower with a bath. Turn off the TV and read. Get up and go to church.

I'm not sure how good your life is today, but have a hunch it could be even better. Heck... try it and let me know. Who couldn't stand a few necessary upgrades in 2007?

Friday, January 12, 2007

My Favorite Things

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens;
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens;
Brown paper packages tied up with strings;
These are a few of my favorite things.
- Oscar Hammerstein II, Richard Rodgers

I was driving, frantically, through traffic today when I was suddenly aware of two things: one, that I had turned the radio off; and two, that I was shamelessly belting out "raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens... these are a few OF MY FAAAAVORITE THINGS....". Hmm. Thank God it's Friday!

As soon as I finished my shameless singing (... and then I don't feel... so baaaa-aaaa-aa-aa-ad!), I started thinking of a few of my favorite things. I lost myself in them. It was strange how, once I was done, I felt amazingly de-stressed. (Wonder if it would work a second time?)

So... my favorites. Where would you start? I figured clean laundry was high atop my list. There's something so comforting... so right-with-the-world... when I see fresh towels, folded right off the clothesline.

Oh! And books. Slap nearly anything between two covers (within reason) and I'm game. Right now I'm reading Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke. (The link's to the left.) It's truly inspiring for anyone who lives a creative life. When I'm not reading, betcha money I'll be watching TV... (Gilmore Girls or FoodNetwork... Nigella Lawson!); movies... (anything classic, girly, or lawyerish), or listening to music (Holly Brook and Tristan Prettyman are two my eternal favorites). Yea!

If we're talking products, I love Cindy Crawford's Meaningful Beauty. If you haven't tried it, do. It's a miracle. Also, you have to love the girls at Brickhouse Soap. (Again, link to the left.) Their handmade, organic soaps are so beautiful and yummy that people sometimes mistake them for food! I always keep a jar of the Lavender/Rosemary/Mint near the bath:

(I promise their soap doesn't match my wall color. But it does look like it here, doesn't it? Huh.)

Also, I love gardens. The sweetheart over at Farmgirl Fare (yep, link's to the left) is my daily inspiration. This former city girl grows anything that doesn't have parents. Truly! Following her advice, I'll be knee-deep in soil, compost, and seeds all day Saturday. Beginning in February, you can come by Freeman House anytime and pig out in the backyard garden. (And by the way, if you drop by now, you'll find ... er... um... dozens of pots everywhere. I'm rooting hydrangeas and climbing roses and some suprisingly healthy Lamb's Ear and Greek Oregano that have been on the property forever. I've also potted up pecans, which, after spending a few weeks in a deep, watery bucket, told me there's still something alive happening inside their shells. Therefore, they were planted.

Ah, yes. Favorite things. They are so comforting on a cold January day like this, aren't they? I could go on for hours. Oh... and speaking of favorite things, I have a pot of soup on my new (vintage) stove that's been bubbling for over an hour now. Guess I'll go slosh some in a bowl and settle into my favorite chair and pick up one of favorite pasttimes - knitting! quilting! - and call it a quiet Friday night. Good night, my favorite friends!

There is no need to go anywhere else to find peace.
You will find that deep place of silence
right in your room, your garden or even your bathtub.
- Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Sleep in Peace

Have courage for the great sorrows of life
and patience for the small ones;
and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task,
go to sleep in peace. God is awake.
-Victor Hugo

Today was an unusually stressful day. Strange how those seemingly lie in wait to jump on us, huh? I own my own business, and as many small business owners will tell you, any upsets or changes can sometimes send shockwaves to several areas of your life, including your sleep, sanity, or (worse!) your bank account.

So sleep was hard to come by last night. Peaceful sleep was totally out of the question. I tossed and turned and worried and thought. Finally, I drifted off, only to awake at regular intervals to stare out the window and watch rustling pecan tree branches dance with the moon. It was still. It was quiet. I was worried.

I shouldn't have been. Why, you ask? No, it wasn't necessarily because my troubles were "small" sorrows that I had patience for. And it certainly wasn't because I am a "fixer" or a problem solver or a genius business woman. No, it doesn't have anything to do with me. Or the situation. I shouldn't have worried because even as I lie awake, thinking my little brain out, Someone else was awake. He was still. He was quiet. But He wasn't worried.

People sometimes ask why it's so important to be a Christian. Why it's worth my time or effort to seek out a relationship with a God that so many others do without. My answer is simple: because I can ultimately rest secure in the knowledge that regardless of my upsetting days or sleepless nights, my future... my life... is steadfast in the hands of a Heavenly Father who never sleeps or slumbers.

My God is awake.

I came home today and lit some candles and sat at the dining room table. As I sat there, staring at the flickering flames and flowers, I felt suddenly at peace, small sorrow and all. Something tells me I'll sleep peacefully tonight....

He who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
-Psalm 121

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Freeman House Kitchen

In the childhood memories of every cook,
there's a large kitchen, a warm stove, a simmering pot and a mom.
-Barbara Costikyan

Okay, so it may have taken a year (or so), but Freeman House is finally starting to look like an actual, inhabitable home! While the kitchen is one of the last rooms to go in, (yes, I've gone crazy!), things and supplies are trickling in to get the kitchen underway. After weeks of scouring classified ads, used appliance stores and surplus warehouses, I finally found a stove that seemed to fit. I paid a little over $100 for it on eBay, and it works like nothing I've ever cooked on before. Love it!

Speaking of other things to love, I found a beautiful loaf of panettone bread ( and some fresh pears today and decided to whip up a bubbly batch of bread pudding. Yum! I'd share some with you, but our friendly neighborhood plumber - the man who gave me the organ - had a heart attack Sunday, so the bread pudding went, warm from the oven, to him. A few leftover pears did hang around, though. I guess I could share those, and the recipe:

Panettone Pear Bread Pudding

1 (4 lb.) loaf Panettone bread (or you could use 1 1/2 loaves French bread), cubed

4 eggs

3 cups milk (or half and half, cream... whatever you've got)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg (optional... but it is a good way to use up all those holiday spices!)

1 pretty pear, finely sliced

1/2 stick butter

So okay. Grease a 8x8 (or whatever you have that's close) pan and fire the oven up to 450 F. Layer bread cubes and sliced pears in baking pan. In separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour over bread and pears and press bread down until it gets fat and soggy with the egg mixture. Dot with butter. Place 8x8 pan in a 9x13 pan and put the whole thing in the oven. Now carefully pour hot tap water into the 9x13 pan until the water comes at least halfway up the bread and pudding mixture. (This creates a gentle water bath that bakes the delicate pudding at a steady, even temperature.)

Bake for 45-55 minutes at 450 F. You may want to check after 30 minutes or so to ensure your pudding isn't browning too quickly. If it is, cover with foil.

There you have it! Yummy, creamy winter goodness!

You know, everyone says the kitchen is the heart of the home, and truly, it is. But I'd even go so far as to say that kitchens can also be the heart of our mental homes. Odd, I think. What do you suppose it is that makes one room hold such a powerfully sweet space in our memories?

Anyway, it's good to be in the kitchen again - finished or not. Something about a clean stove and bubbling pots does recall bygone days and childhood memories of Mom... of feeling safe... of being loved. And if we aren't blessed to have those memories, there's nothing to stop us from creating them for another generation of watchful eyes and tiny hands, is there?

Every good and perfect gift [ovens! warm kitchens! sweet memories!] comes from above.
- James 1:17

Monday, January 8, 2007

Day Planner

Just because something doesn't do
What you planned it to do
Doesn't mean it's useless.
-Thomas Edison

I turned a corner this morning and smiled when I took in this sight. It was lovely. This picture of my day planner... well, this is my life. The fat, pink notebook holds bills and a photo slide of Italy and recipes and jotted-down ideas and reminders to call my attorney and take a pot of stew to Mary Darden. The wrench was tossed there last night to nag myself to fix my clothespin bag. (After all, I really needed to wash and hang all my towels out to dry now that the gray, gray days are gone. Whoopee!) And the fabric? Isn't it pretty? The fabric on the chair is some I'm quilting this winter. I finished ironing it and have been too busy (lazy?) to fold it up. Yep, this picture is my life.

Isn't it funny how we keep... or refuse to keep... day planners? How we sometimes feel like slaves to our planners and calendars? Sometimes it's overwhelming. Although mine is only one step up from a stone and a chisel, I like my paper spiral because it continually keeps me from embarrassing myself. I have a terrible memory. (Also, I don't have to plug my planner in at night. I'd probably forget anyway and end up with a dead day planner every day.)

While day planners are good scribble-calendars, they are also good diaries. I recently found a day planner from when I was in college and was delighted to read of people and places and things I'd forgotten. (Can you believe I actually had to write a final exam paper entitled Hell: Exothermic or Endothermic? Or that I had a huge crush on Mike Ozman? Or that I lived for 3 straight days on donut holes from Bosa's?) See? Day planners are like paper time capsules.

Yep, they're cool. But sometimes, though... sometimes we get too bogged down in keeping... and keeping up with... the daily grind. Some days it feels pointless, at least to me. After all, I plan and I plan and I plan, yet never had I had a day that was exactly as I expected it to be when I looked ahead to it in my day planner.

I'm not making much sense today, am I? Point is, I guess, that I love my fat pink notebook, and while it's good to plan, life is volatile. Uncooperative. It defiantly sneers at our plans and interrupts our routines. People are here one day and gone the next. (God rest the dear Treva Wallace!) Problems that seem so insurmountable today will simply be ink on a page someday. And life - even if it isn't what we plan - is still good.

I love the quote from Edison. I adore thinking about how some things he made for one purpose failed in the intended respect, yet turned out to be a solution for something entirely unexpected. Kinda like my favorite Bible verse for today - Proverbs 19:21. It goes something like: Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails.

Yep, my day planner is full. I'm all planned up, wrench and all. And yet... and yet... I'm good with the unexpected. The deviations. I'm good with the come-what-may. I'm good with Edison's theory on uselessness. After all, if it's the Lord's purpose that will ultimately prevail, how can any plan (or any life!)- fulfilled or likewise - be anything aside from lovely?

Friday, January 5, 2007

Gray, Gray Day

Gray skies are just clouds passing over.
-Duke Ellington
I can't recall a day that's been this gray. Even this tree on the way to Freeman House seemed beautifully dreary. If the new grass - which the weather has cruelly tricked into thinking it's spring - weren't green, I daresay we'd mistakenly miss the ground and step on the sky. What a gray, gray day.

If you ask me, I think people need more comforting in January than any other time. The holidays are over. A new year brings both expectations and let-downs. We can feel burdened, somehow - burdened by bills and certain people and obligations. Burdened by the pressure others put on us and the pressure we apply to ourselves. Besides, everything externally feels so cold and raw in January. What a gray, gray time.

Or maybe it's just me. If so, I guess I feel complicated and ridiculous right now. If not, welcome to my gray day! Why not revel in it with me? Let's lose ourselves in flannel sheets and dreamy music and warm cookies from the oven. And let's pull out fluffy pillows and hot tea and letters from friends and the movie Sense and Sensibility.

Sure, it's a dreary, gray, gray day. But it's wonderful in its own right, isn't it? After all, would we appreciate the brilliant sunny days as much if God didn't occasionally show His gray? Would we feel as justified in making stew and being home-bound if these days didn't exist? I wouldn't.

So perhaps I should thank God, even for this gray, gray day. Comfort can be found - even on a January day like this. After all, the only difference between this gray, gray day and a brighter one is just the clouds passing over....

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
-I Thessalonians 5:18

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Hide or Seek

Happy New Year!

So after a jolly Monday, I settled in New Year's night to write my resolutions. I thought I'd write 7 resolutions since it's 2007. Ten resolutions seemed too many, but 5 seemed too few. Anyway, I sat. And sat. Well, okay... obviously eating fewer carbs would go on there somewhere. I wrote it down. Oh! Also this year, I must be Super Adventure Girl. (I should be riding camels and swinging off ropes into murky ponds -see right - and backpacking through Europe. Duh!) Hmm... how to phrase that? I sat some more. Finally I gave up.

Did you write any resolutions this year??

Anyway, I did end up jotting down 7 resolutions - and framing them - before drifting off to Neverland. And as I looked down my list, I caught a theme. Geez, it was so obvious! I suddenly had a theme for my new year. It is...

...well. Wait. Remember hide and seek?

Remember that game we played ages and ages ago? You know, when we still had the time and energy to play? You would hide while I would count before yelling "READY OR NOT! HERE I COME!!!" (And admit it. If you were the seeker, you peeked, didn't you?) Ah, yes. Hide and seek. Remember it?

Yep, as I was reading my resolutions, the following realization reached up from the page and slapped me alongside the jaw: This year, I'll be a seeker.

I feel like I've wasted the majority of my 20s. What is it about this decade that is so difficult and unsettling? I mean, sure, I got an education. And a job. I even landed a lucrative career after trying my dream one on for size for 5 years. Still, though... still... it feels useless, somehow. Like I have little to show for it. So this year, I want that to change. But... how?

Silly resolutions. I started digging around. Since I have yet to come across a book that delivers a total turn-around how-to, I thought of other people I knew who'd gracefully made something of themselves. Hmm, I thought, thinking of one girl in particular. Maybe I should try it her way. But my circumstances are so different than hers. That wouldn't do.

After tossing aside several blah-blah books about being wonderful, out came the Bible. I thought I would start in Genesis, "in the beginning", what with the new year and all. And what do you know... I stumbled across the story of Rebekah. She was going through some hard times and needed a little help. So what did she do? She said, "If it is so, why then am I this way?" And she went to inquire of the Lord. (Genesis 25:22)

Omgosh. It was so simple. If she could seek out God, why couldn't I? If it was enough to see Rebekah through her life, why wouldn't it be enough for me?

So I decided right then. I decided that there are basically two kinds of Christians. There are the hiders, and there are the seekers. I've spent most of my 20s being a hider... ducking around and concealing myself... my convictions... my position, praying one moment that God will notice me and hoping the next that He won't. Depended on the day. No wonder I've felt so lost in a foolish game. Everyone knows it's the seekers who win! Not the hiders. It's the seekers who find what they're after.Italic

Besides, new year's resolutions or not, my 20s... this game we call "life"... will someday come to an end. And ready or not, here He'll come.

Ah, yes. Silly old new year's resolutions. Although I now have 7, including eating fewer carbs and being Super Adventure Girl, there's one that trumps them all: seek God. Seek, seek, seek. And at the end of 2007 - at the end of it all - what could be more worthwhile?

Ask, and it shall be given you; SEEK, AND YE SHALL FIND; Knock, and it shall be opened unto you. -Matthew 7:7