Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A September Sale!!

I have been knitting. Knitting, knitting, knitting. Ball after ball of yarn has been unraveled and transformed into all manner of the [greatly] beloved House Helpers. And now they're on sale! For the rest of September, find my handmade, 100% USA cotton House Helper cloths discounted at my shop. Then enter coupon code SAVESEPTEMBER for an additional 10% off!

I'm making room for a line of unique, handmade goodies for the holidays (shopping totes out of vintage pillowcases!... bread bags out of vintage linens!, etc.) and need to clear some space to make room for everything. Yay! No better excuse for a sale. *wink*

Run on over and get yours before they're gone by clicking here! And thanks... ever so much thanks... for supporting handmade. -Brin

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Hard Thing About Prayers

I got a series of Facebook messages this weekend from a man old enough to be my father. He has, he told me, lost his faith. His words were raw and real and hard to read. I woke up in the middle of the night Sunday thinking of them. All I could do was pray.

The more I thought about his God complaints and accusations, the more his words faded into this blurry canvas of dark, deep hurt. Hurt that felt unacknowledged. Prayers that seem unanswered. At the crux, he doesn't feel God has been listening, and if God has, well, His unresponsiveness is cruel. 

But there's one thing I'm learning from this constant stream of people- all ages and genders, friends and perfect strangers- who reach out to me: they come to me for reassurance that God cares. Why else would someone who's "lost their faith" reach out to a person of faith, as opposed to an unbeliever? To me it's obvious: we want someone to convince us that God hears us and that God loves us.

Friday, September 25, 2015

What We're Doing To Our Bibles

If you're a print Bible reading sort of person, you may be aware of the Bible journaling phase that's sweeping the print-Bible-reading-sort of-person nation. If you're new to this mad fad, I encourage you to take a second to Google or Pinterest search this. It's insane.

This is my Bible. Inspiration courtesy of genius on Tumblr.
For real, go search. In fact, I'm going to, too, because it's new and strange and you won't believe how talented some of these pages are.


Anyway. I am a print Bible reading sort of person, so I watched from the sidelines as these brave and careless people began writing, doodling, coloring, and doing all sorts of artsy things within the pages of their holy book. I wanted to dive in to this particular Bible weirdness, but I was raised Baptist. (Baptists don't dance, don't drink, and certainly don't color in their adult Bibles.) But then one day, I could stand it no longer. I have a study Bible that I would never draw in, but I have another that was a gift... more for casual reading. I picked up some colored pencils and began sketching something similar to a picture I saw on Tumblr. 

It was freeing. Like, kid drawing on the wall with nail polish, kind of freeing. It felt so rebellious and yet again, so right. Instantly, I was converted. 

Do you read the Bible? Do you ever write (journal, color, go crazy) in yours? This fall, I feel a renewed inspiration to spend time with my Bible, specifically in Genesis, Psalms, Daniel, Ezekiel and Revelations. I see much drama coming forth from- and on- these thin, delicate pages.

Speaking of thin and delicate, I picked up a few supplies to go with my underlining/highlighting/doodling/writing in the Bible phase. It should be noted that you can't begin "personalizing" your Bible with just any old rough, heavy pens and markers. So far, these color pencils are fantastic. Ditto for these no-bleed-through Bible highlighters. And don't try this for yourself without getting a hold of Micron's Bible Study Kit. What? I write with them for everything now. Love Micron pens.

Are you in on this Bible journaling and art thing? Would you rather walk the center aisle naked before you'd ever draw in your Bible? Tell me about it and we'll discuss. 

Happy Friday and weekend! -Brin

This post includes affiliate links. Because bloggers cannot live on Bread alone. (Haha. Bible joke.)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Luxury of Common Threads

In the tapestry of childhood, 
what stands out is not the splashy, blow-out trips to Disneyland 
but the common threads that run throughout and repeat: 
the family dinners, nature walks, reading together at bedtime, 
Saturday morning pancakes.
-Kim John Payne

It occurs to me that, elsewhere, most are not living a life with common threads. There are no family dinners around the table. No bedtime stories. No Saturday morning pancakes.

Today I am painfully aware of my blessings... and my routine refusal to recognize them and be thankful.

Enjoying the luxury of common threads today, and thanking God for His graciousness. Even in hard times, we have so much to be thankful for....

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The New (Growing!) Recipe Index

Just in case you wanted to kick off fall with a big... eating fest, now you have help! I'm so excited to announce that my indexed recipes are now available without the hassle of digging through archives or searching the entire blog!

 Texas Sweet Tea anyone?

 Or maybe some light and scrumptious Cheddar Crisps?

 Maybe Texas Loaded Queso Dip is more of your thing. It is football season, after all!

Or maybe you're feeling that Fall Apple Cake in honor of the first day of fall? Whatever you're in the mood for- whatever recipe I've featured here over the past 11 years- can now be had by clicking that handy dandy Recipe tab above. So much more convenient, right?

New recipes will be added weekly, but I'm sure you'll see a few old favorites already.

Happy cooking! -Brin

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

More Floors

Ah, old houses. One of the great things about these old places? The original wood features: built ins, crown moldings, trim, and of course, hardwood floors. This home is no exception. Only, like most old houses, the floors have seen better days.

This floor is in the master bedroom, and it's definitely showing its age. Scratches, spills and stains have left their marks, and the overall feeling is worn and... dirty. But after seeing the dramatic restoration with the kitchen floors, I was ready to try to resurrect these, too. So Saturday, I rented a drum sander and got to work. After pulling out the old furnace grate and pulling up/pounding in umpteen nails and staples, we were ready to sand. And sand I did!

I am thrilled with the results! The surface scratches, paint spills, and discolorations are gone. The room smells of fresh wood and sawdust. And with a little hand sanding around the perimeter, I'll be ready to stain and seal.

New flooring in this house would have cost in the thousands. Instead, we're out less than $150 to breathe new life into these floors while respecting the original features of the home. I'll take that any day!

I'm hoping we'll be moving into the master on Sunday. *Fingers crossed*. So excited!  -Brin

Monday, September 21, 2015

Fall Apple Cake

Here's what I know: that this world- as cold, and confusing, and complicated as it can be- still has apples in it. And cinnamon sticks. And salted caramel frozen yogurt. So let's make cake and let our mouths (and hearts) rejoice!

I made my Fall Apple Cake today. I made it because I wanted to give you something simple and super quick to sweeten up your day. Behold:

Y'all. You won't believe how perfect this is. This cake is a one bowl cake. You don't need a mixer. You don't need crazy ingredients. You don't even need a cake pan. This beauty is made by mixing dry ingredients, apples (and nuts, if desired), and wet ingredients in one bowl, like this...

...and then patting it into a regular baking pan...

...and throwing it in the oven until it's lightly brown and set. Check it:

Easy, easy, easy. And ooooooh so good. This is the perfect way to welcome autumn!
Oh man. Love yourself a little today and make this. Make it for you. Make it for someone who lives with or near you. Make it for someone who works with you. Just... make it. Trust me.

Here's how to bring this goodness home:

Fall Apple Cake
Adapted from family recipe

In a large bowl, mix together:

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoon salt

To those dry ingredients, add: 

3 cups peeled, diced apples
1 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts, almonds)

Mix well to coat apples and nuts in flour mixture.

To the same bowl, now add:

1 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Stir well to combine all ingredients. Finished batter will be thick, like cookie dough. (Don't freak out.) Press into ungreased 9" x 13" pan and pat smooth. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Don't overbake! Cool on wire rack.

Store in airtight container in cool place. Keeps up to 3 days.

I love serving this cake cut in thick squares and topped with cinnamon whipped cream or, as I did here, with a scoop of Oikos' Salted Caramel Greek Frozen Yogurt with just a light dusting of cinnamon. (Have you tried that stuff? Omgosh.) I also like it straight out of the pan with a cold glass of milk. But however you serve it, it's perfection. Simple, quick, apple and cinnamon and brown sugar perfection.

Let our mouths rejoice!

Hope you enjoy. And happy fall, y'all, from Texas. -Brin

Friday, September 18, 2015

Master Bedroom {DURING} Pics!

This master bedroom is coming along! While progress has been slow going and there are still several projects to tackle, I'm beginning to see an end in sight. Y'all. My air mattress will soon be a thing of the past! As soon as this room is finished, you're all invited over to beat the air out of that mattress with me, Office Space style. We'll also drink sweet tea and eat... something. It will be quite the party.


In the meantime, look! 

The dated, nicotine-stained mustard/cream colored paint is gone. Glory. We primed and painted it with Sherwin-Williams' Neutral Ground, which I am starting to crush hard on. It's soft and ethereal and muted without being too boring... i.e. the perfect backdrop color. At least for me. I have to admire you Bold Color People from the safe distance of my neutral quarters, you understand. Hee.

Anyway. Paint has gone up. All woodwork has been sanded, puttied, primed and repainted in Sherwin-Williams' Westhighland White

The old window unit is also noticeably absent. Here is was, before:

And now:

 So long, farewell, you old gross thing.

(Also, please see yesterday's post re: broken camera and cell phone pictures. Yeah. Sorry.)

Moving on. This weekend, we tackle the hardwoods and the cut-in-half window. But here's a general idea of where things stand now and what remains to be done:

So quite a bit still to tackle, but I can definitely see this calming, gorgeous space beginning to come together. What a respite it will be! 

Off to get ready to tackle that floor restoration. Whoa boy. Hope your weekend turns out more fun than mine! -Brin

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Room of My Mind, Knitting, and an Explanation

She has gone inside the room of her mind
and is sitting there knitting or something.
-Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveler's Wife
I have been in the room of my mind and knitting lately. So much. It soothes my mind to see fat, untidy balls of yarn unravel themselves into thick, swollen-stitch cowls. Every day it seems I get bits of words from women who say they wish they could knit. I always say the same thing to them: don't be wishing the same thing next year. Learn now. You won't believe the beauty knitting adds to your world.

It's staggering the work that has gone on here in the past week. The master bedroom is painted and we begin restoring the wood floors tomorrow. (Pictures coming!) The ground at the ginormous south side of the house- the tangled, gnarling mess of weeds and spent bushes and thorny vines and neglected roses- is clear. (Cue the band, because once that spectacular mess is put right, I want a parade.) The built-in shelves in the front room are replaced and repainted. The ancient wooden screen door into the sun room has been re-screened. Finally, finally, I look up from my knitting and see progress. I can't believe the beauty hard work is adding to my world.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


It's quiet today. Hushed. I walk over the slanting floors of the crooked hallway in this house and pause a moment to listen to the sound of ceiling blades slicing through the air. ffffwwwmmpp... fffwwwmmpp... fffwwwmmpp. It's the only sound I hear. So quiet.

There's dough rising in the kitchen. There's a pile of floppy quilts that need folding. There's watering to do outside. But right now, I'm just breathing in the quiet....

There's a point where you have to leave the dough alone. It's silly to anthropomorphize bread, but I love the fact that it needs to sit quietly, to retreat from touch and noise and drama, in order to evolve.

I have to admit, I often feel that way myself.
-Jodi Picoult, The Storyteller
Have a wonderful Wednesday. -Brin

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Magic Milk Bread

I am in love. With bread. I am in love with this bread.

Imagine this: light, beautiful loaves- two of them- made from normal ingredients you probably have on hand. Imagine, further, that this bread doesn't need to be kneaded. Imagine that it also doesn't require any fancy equipment or processes. Imagine that it does its own thing while you're folding laundry or checking email or putting off cleaning the bathtub. Imagine all those things, and then reach for this bread recipe. Because honey, it delivers. Maximum reward for minimum effort. That's what this bread should really be called!

Friday, September 4, 2015


Times of great calamity and confusion have been productive for the greatest minds. 
The purest ore is produced from the hottest furnace.
The brightest thunder-bolt is elicited from the darkest storm.
-Charles Colton

I'm in the energy industry. Am. Was? It's hard to tell these days. Everyone, it seems, is out of work. I'm no exception. The oil company came down in March, cited falling oil prices and failing wells, and pulled the funding for the project I contracted. Not a problem, usually, only every other company was pulling plugs, too, and there were no other jobs around to get plugged into.

That was March. There's still no sign of work out there anywhere.

This is my second career. The first was reporting- I worked for ABC and CBS and other lettered affiliates and chased down stories and lived to be on the air. This oil and gas consulting came next. Long story about that transition. But here I am, at 36, coming to the realization that in today's economic free-fall we must all adapt or die.

But there's hope. The more I understand of the past, the more evident it's become that adversity produces. Hard times beget new ventures. It's all in what we make of it.

So I just finished packing my office, storing the tables and chairs and cabinets and files (what you see above was half of my little consulting business), and telling myself that it's okay... that God has a plan... and that I am not alone in this. ... ...

You know what ore is? Ore is a rock that has good stuff, profitable stuff, embedded in it. But ore isn't worth much unprocessed. It has to leave its environment, undergo extreme pressure, and watch itself be separated into waste rock and precious minerals. Then it's valuable. Then it's precious. 

I wonder if sometimes we aren't that processing or recently-processed ore. We're hating the transformation even as it's doing something fantastic to us. Or else we're processed, two halves of a former whole, and wanting our ore back together... identifying with the bulk of the waste rock while regarding that precious bit as insignificant. Or worse yet, despising the glittering, priceless treasure that came about because of the excruciating process.

Point is: yes, times are getting tough. The economy is failing. Jobs are scarce and necessities are expensive. Our country is hardly recognizable. And yet... and yet... what we're witnessing here- and in ourselves- is the process of adversity producing. Of staggering transformation. Of a separating of the highest order. And if we're willing to let it, this could be the best, most beautifully beneficial, time of our lives.

We're in this together, bright lightning bolts and purest ore friends. We're in this together. -Brin

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Summer's Ghost

We know that in September, 
we will wander through the 
warm winds of summer's wreckage. 
We will welcome summer's ghost.
-Henry Rollins

Fall is out in the stores. I'm expecting, any moment now, to see pumpkins and leaf-strewn wreaths on front porches of houses I drive past. I love later summer/early autumn- its decay and moodiness and restlessness. Summer's is the only ghost I welcome.

I have Beef Stroganoff simmering on the stove and am half-heartedly mixing up leftover bits of cornbread and chunks of thick, white loaves for dressing. (Stuffing, if you're from up north?) Chicken and dressing will hit the freezer soon. I'm trying to make extras of meals and freeze them up for days I just don't want to cook. Which lately has been most days. Strange, seeing as how the kitchen sink just went in and we dreamed of home-cooked meals all summer. Very strange...

It seems I've hit a wall (early) with this renovation. Tonight will be night 93 on the air mattress and I think I'm just exhausted. He is adamant that the bed NOT be put together until the master bedroom is painted and floors are redone, so I toss and turn and toss and turn. I'm praying the bedroom is move-in-ready in a week. Y'all, I fear for life on planet Earth if I have to crawl off that thing many more mornings. How was this so much easier at 24 than it is at 36?

Ah. But there's progress in the kitchen! The countertops will be finished soon, so all that's left in this phase will be to paint and hardware the cabinets, tile a back splash, hang shelves and begin setting up. I'd show you, only right now it's a jumble of tools and pantry items and opened boxes of spices and a strange assortment of unpacked dishes. (Read: whatever was at the top of the dishes box is what's been unpacked and used.) The tentative "have company over" goal date of September 1 blew by without so much as an apology. It's okay. It's really okay. Those who matter, don't mind... and those who mind, don't matter. Right?

How are things with you? I feel as if it's been awhile since we talked. Drop me a comment or a Facebook message or email and let me know what's on your stove and what's going on at your house and how you're dealing with the ghost of summer. That's what we're here for, right?

I'm so glad we're friends. -Brin