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Did you know that deciding on a color is the most difficult part of buying a Weber grill? Since it is also the most important, I offer these valuable tips:

Step 1. Narrow down your choice to 2 colors, then freak out because you really can’t choose your favorite.

Green?

Weber 1427001 Performer Charcoal Grill, Green

Or blue?
Weber 1428001 Performer Charcoal Grill, Dark Blue

(both images from Amazon; click on a photo to go to its source)

Step 2. Obsess. As you tuck in to your morning eggs, Green or blue? As you blast breakfast away with your WaterPik, Green or blue? As you subdue your hair, Green or blue? While you’re trying to meditate, Green or blue? In the middle of the Pilates 100s, Green or blue?

Step 3. Face it: you’re in over your head. It’s time to enlist help from someone who is even more interested in the color avidly devoted to your happiness than you are: the Husband. So call him at work.

You: I can’t decide on a color. Green or blue?

Him: Ummm…

You: No, really, what do you think? Which do you prefer?

Him: I, uh……I like both. Whatever you want. Green is nice. Blue is nice. We don’t have anything green, do we?

You: No, but we could. I think about buying green things a lot.

Him: Oh.

Step 4. Plan B: Realize that Weber grills resemble M&Ms. Now you’re getting somewhere! Do you like green or blue M&Ms better? When you’re strategically eating your M&Ms by color (everyone does this, right?), which do you leave for last?

Step 5. Armed with your brilliant M&M analogy, re-consult the husband. Now he’s bound to be helpful!

Or not.

Step 6. Visualization. Close your eyes. Picture yourself balancing a platter of steaks in one hand with tongs tightly clenched underneath, tripping out of your kitchen, out of your apartment, down the stairs, and outside to your beautiful, shiny grill. Set down your tray, wipe your hands, open the lid, throw on the steaks, close the lid, and dawdle. Do this with the green grill, then the blue grill. Then the green grill, then the blue grill.

Step 7. Fret.

Step 8. Order the blue grill already!

Step 9. Congratulate yourself on your ever-impeccable taste and come up with 101 reasons you’re really glad you picked the blue instead of the green. Share at least 50 of these reasons with the Husband; he’ll appreciate it.

Step 10. Invite family over for your inaugural grilling session, terribly overcook the steaks, char the poblano peppers into oblivion, have a great time anyway, and fall in love with that shiny blue M&M that offers so much smoky goodness.

P.S. Don’t forget to offer moral support during assembly. (Beer and kisses are a nice touch for superior service.)



Becoming

He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.
Psalm 1:3

That line, “which yields its fruit in its season,” brings me such comfort today. That season is not yet, and I do not know what my fruit will look like, but I can rest in the knowledge that it will come when I am ready and the Creation is ready, and — look! — I have abundant provision today.

I’m acutely aware right now that my life is a construction zone, with demolition, cleanup, and building happening all at the same time. It’s chaotic and noisy and not a little bewildering. Meditation helps; indeed, pursuing silence and stillness daily makes an extraordinary difference. Prayer helps too, and so does Christian community and energy work and Karis Fellowships and all the other tools and resources I’ve discovered over the past few years.

But at the end of the day, it’s still a suffering. It’s still uncomfortable. And I am still called to endure and even to rejoice. I don’t yet understand what it means, really, to rejoice in the truth, but it is stirring in my heart, and I catch glimpses of it here and there.

One thing I can clearly see growing in my life, though, is joy. It has a way of sneaking up on me. I read Psalm 1:3, and it floods my being. My spirit quivers with the joy of the promise. It is something worth enduring for, something worth suffering for, to be that glorious tree, bearing its own unique fruit in its own kairos, its fullness of time. Growing is hard work, but I know I’m becoming.

It’s been an odd week. Life is complicated. And at the moment, I’m tongue-tied about it. I try and try to write, but it just isn’t working. I know that sometimes writing is the best way to process something, but this isn’t one of those times. It’s still percolating, still just beyond reach. Meditation is probably a better soothing balm for this ache.

Actually, I think that’s why I haven’t written much on this blog over the past year. It’s been a really intense period for me — emotionally, physically, spiritually, developmentally — and I need so much energy to process it all that there’s not much left over to use for writing about it. I’m barely keeping up as it is!

So in lieu of my deepest, most confusing experiences and revelations of the week, I offer some simpler fare, like sewing project #2, the Tool Roll-Up, because maybe what I need right now isn’t to express my inner reality but to get a break from it.

The Tool Roll-Up it is, then.

Now, it’s supposed to have channel-stitching in that bottom portion (it’s a pocket) to create special compartments for each tool, but I haven’t decided yet which tools to put in it. The instructor suggested everything from sewing essentials to makeup brushes. I dunno. I’m waiting for inspiration to strike. In the meantime, I’m admiring the fabric.

Things I love:

  • The combination of fabrics. Isn’t that owl print adorable? I think it would be great for a nursery. Both it and the polka dot trim fabric (yes, I had to make my own bias tape) are from High Fashion here in Houston, which while overpriced, has a great selection. The ribbon is a relic from a bridal shower I threw years ago.
  • That I bought fabric in the first place. I’ve been terrified of buying fabric for years. I wander the aisles of fabric stores and never buy anything. It’s sad. One of the best things about taking a sewing class is being forced to make a decision. I’ve always stopped short of committing to fabric, but I’m discovering that it’s not that big a deal, and it’s a lot of fun besides. I’ve even managed not to panic that I bought 4 times too much fabric for that beach tote. I’ll find a use for it — eventually.
  • That I finished this project at all, because I made a lot of mistakes along the way, starting with the bias tape, and I had to do a lot of creative adapting to make it work.
  • That the “invisible stitches” on the front side are pretty invisible. It was my first time to Stitch the Ditch, and it was hard.

See? All but invisible:

What I don’t love: the other side.

Like I said, Stitching the Ditch was hard.

And led to all kinds of strange stitching on the opposite side.

Then I committed this crime.

Ouch.

Oh well. I’m trying not to take it too hard. I should be thankful that my first project, ye old beach tote, turned out as well as it did, and accept the problems with this project as part of the learning process. And, boy, did I learn a lot! — a lot of don’ts, particularly about making bias tape. Sigh. Somehow, Don’t Lessons are particularly effective when learned the hard way, so maybe I’m just taking the efficient path?

In any case, it looks very pretty when rolled up and tied.

Now I need to find something to store inside! Ideas??

 

I’m torturing myself with an online sewing class. No, don’t get me wrong; the class itself is great. Alison making her projects in said class 10 times harder than they have to be? Not so great.

Our first real project, aside from some napkins, was a reversible tote bag. As described and assigned by our instructor, it was a piece of cake. The catch is that our instructor gave no dimensions. “Make the bag you want,” she said. Or maybe that’s just what I heard. Suddenly, all kinds of bells and whistles seemed like a really good idea. Who wants a square bag? Who wants a bag without interior pockets custom-fit to her gadgets? Who wants a bag without top stitching? Who wants a bag with a plain exterior? And who wants a flimsy bags?

You can see where this is going.

The simple reversible bag of an hour’s labor turned into a relatively elaborate non-reversible beach tote of 15 hours’ labor. Yup, 15 hours. I do not know what I’m doing. I do not sew. I’ve never top-stitched or applied interfacing or cut out fabric without a pattern or made interior pockets or any of it!

Oh, and those 14 hours needed to be spent on other projects for the class. You can guess how far behind I am by now, especially when you throw in a two-week vacation. Sheesh.

I’ll tell you what’s cool, though: this beach tote that I designed and sewed.

Ta-dah!

It features a flat bottom, angled sides, top stitching, heavy-duty interfacing, contrast lining, and custom-made interior pockets for my iPhone, Kindle, and pens and pencils.

Also note that nice contrasting band around the top of the bag, which I even matched up along the sides.

And it’s big enough to carry a baby elephant. I look like a midget hauling it around.

J thinks this is okay. “It will hide your stomach when you’re pregnant,” he points out.

????!!

Other functions include Picnic Bag. It’s big enough to hold the blanket, food, drinks, and a baseball bat for J’s head.

I’d say I have a love/hate relationship with baking, but mostly I just hate it. It’s so…precise…and prone to inexplicable error. Like the caramel sauce/black sugar goo episode over Christmas. Or when I attempted caramel sauce again last month and it was grainy for no apparent reason. Gah!

But today I’m celebrating a wild success. Behold:

It’s a chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting — light, fluffy, dreamy peanut butter frosting.

I impressed myself. I’ve never tried to decorate a cake before.

There are less glamorous and triumphant parts of the story, like how I broke a bottle of stevia all over the floor and smeared peanut butter frosting on every surface in sight (including me) in the process, but the real point is that when it came to the finished product, I was pleased and J was pleased and even the neighbor was impressed, which never hurts. (Really, her effusions were most gratifying and enough to give any half-conscious Leo heart palpitations.)

Why the hearts? Since we were out of the country for Valentine’s Day, J and I celebrated this past weekend. I have fond memories of my childhood Valentine’s Days, with cards and little baskets of goodies from my mom, so I like to celebrate it now, but just the fun, light side of it. Last year I left candy trails around the apartment leading to small gifts for J. It was great! This year I planned a living room picnic complete with a fancy beer, Chuy’s takeout chips and salsa, Star Pizza delivered to the door, and the chocolate and peanut butter confection — most of J’s favorite food groups.

I also presented him with this gift, to hold his other favorite food group:

Good times.

Finally, one more shot of the cake for me to treasure and use for comfort the next time I stand alone amidst the wreckage of a baking disaster:

It’s true. The problem is that I can’t keep said secret. I have an unfortunate habit of rocking out in my car. Without tinted windows. At stop lights.

And this particular secret should be kept because, let’s face it, I’m a secret rock star for a reason. Some things should never be inflicted on the general  public. I do have a conscience.

Yet there I sat today, singing my heart out with my chin thrown back and eyes closed and arms thrashing about at a stoplight on Westheimer. Guess how many people were sitting on a bench right next to my car? Four.

I am so, so cool.

The good news is that I’ve outgrown my mortification and instead jump straight into laughter in such instances. Light-hearted laughter surely does my body (and hurt pride) good. I wonder what else I can learn to laugh about? It’s ever so much nicer than beating myself to a pulp for not maintaining a “perfect” public image.

Sounds like a bad idea, right? It helps, of course, that I’m SO not a fan of the Twilight series. I still can’t figure out why I wanted to see New Moon in the first place. Morbid curiosity? Cultural education? Staying relevant? A repressed inner teenage heart helplessly bleeding for Byronic heroes? (Please, God, no.)

Whatever the motivation, J and I snuggled on the couch last night to soak up the swirling camera angles, melodramatic music, gratuitous rippling abs, and flat affect (seriously, would it kill Bella crack a smile or shed a tear? Ever?) that is New Moon. In spite of myself, I felt a little torn by the time Bella had to choose between the vampire and the werewolf, mostly because I thought Jacob was getting a pretty raw deal. The very best part of the evening, though, was the dialogue following the movie. I present, for your entertainment, snippets of my favorite boy’s reactions:

Me: I just don’t see the attraction. Bella never smiles, and what on earth does a man who’s been maturing for 100 years find in a 17 year old?

J: Well, there’s the enigma. He can’t figure her out. Of course, she has the complexity of a Ritz cracker.

. . .

J [in an awed voice, taking it in]: I have now seen a Twilight movie.

Me: Yup, time to turn in your man card.

. . .

Me: Do you feel defiled?

-long pause, deep breath –

J: I am bigger than this movie. I can cope.

. . .

J: I’m trying to recall the plot and realizing how miniscule it was. Edward leaves. Bella gets pouty.

Me: Don’t forget the love triangle.

J: Except Bella’s as inert as Argon, so there’s no chemistry there.

. . . And finally . . .

J: I’m imagining a spoof of Twilight. Her name would be Taco Bella. And she would have a gas problem.

Me: The central conflict. . . ?

J: The central conflict would be that Edward is driven mad by her smell.

The End