Wipeout!

So we’ve been living in Scotland since the end of July (2017), and every single day has be absolutely amazing.  I cannot tell you all the incredible experiences I’ve had just in the short time we’ve been here, but I can tell you about one of the most awkward moments I’ve had to date.

At the end of September one of our friends was celebrating a milestone birthday, and his lovely wife decided to throw him a surprise birthday part to mark the occasion.  On the day of the event she asks me to come over and give her a hand is setting everything up.  Fine, no problem, I was very happy to help.

She and I and another lass spent the morning wiping down patio furniture and halogen lights,  setting up a number of extra chairs, a buffet table, and a large outdoor tent – thank goodness I’ve had lots of practice at craft shows setting up those foolish things!  While we’re setting up the tent my friend accidentally stumbles into the flagstone patio and promptly breaks her pinky toe.  I cringe at the memory of the “crunch” her poor wee piggie made.  In spite of the pain and nausea she soldiered on though, because that’s what Scottish women do!

That evening, after a much needed shower and rest we returned to the party scene.  The house was packed with folks, and everyone was doing what strangers do at a party….milling about making small talk over glasses of champagne.  Men were clustered around the BBQ grill, beer in hand, talking about the latest football matches.  The hostess was running around like a chicken with her head cut off, making sure everyone had drinks and appetizers, offering introductions, and generally looking frazzled.  Of course, me being me, offered to give her a hand with the final dinner preparations.

At the offer of help I was promptly put in charge of boiling the potatoes for the buffet.  No problem!  Cooking, I can handle.  As I stood at the stove in the middle of the kitchen, surrounded by slightly buzzed strangers I felt right at home.  When you’re the help, no one takes notice of you, unless you do something really stupid, like drop a tray full of champagne glasses on the floor.  Thankfully I wasn’t in charge of the drinks table, so I was safe from scrutiny…for the most part.

As I stirred the pot of potatoes I found myself approached by several middle-aged men who had obviously come with a spouse or date, but had managed to lose them at some point.  I was quite flattered by their curiosity and attention, having never really spent much time on the receiving end of pick-up lines,  being married by the ripe old age of barely 22.  But it didn’t take long to go from being a curiosity to being a spectacle, because that’s how I roll.

Flattery over and taters cooked, I had one task left before my hour of service was over and we could all settle into an evening of music, dancing, and well mannered birthday frivolity – the taters needed to get to the buffet table so dinner could begin.  No problem, right?  Um, yeah….you keep telling yourself that….

crock pot w locking lidSo I’ve got this pot of boiled taters transferred to my brand new slow cooker, the kind with the snap-down top.  By the way, this slow cooker is fantastic!  Whoever thought to put a snap down lid on a slow-cooker should win a Nobel Prize or something.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spilled chili and other soups in my car, down the front of me, and all over the floor because the lid of the slow cooker didn’t seal properly.  But I digress…

I pick up the slow cooker, considering for a minute whether or not I should snap down the lid, thinking to myself, “I’ve only got to get from the kitchen to the back yard, but deciding to not risk it since I had on a thin, silk top and didn’t really fancy wearing salty tater water down the front of my blouse the rest of the night.  Thank you Jesus for that moment of sanity!

I make my way through the press of people in the kitchen and down 3 stairs to the conservatory.  I could see the buffet table set up just off the flagstone patio about 30 feet from the back door.  It was a beautiful, bright, {rare} warm Scottish evening with a faint breeze and not a cloud in the sky.  The sun was beginning to make its way toward the horizon, the sea taking on the characteristic late summer afternoon shift from green to blue-black to golden as the sun dropped lower in the sky.  Most of the party attenders were in the conservatory around the drinks table and milling around the patio in groups of three or four, admiring the view and talking in subdued tones.

Dodging around a couple of women who were teetering on their heels and giggling over their glasses of champagne at the opportunity for a Friday night out of the house, I picked up my pace, wanting to deposit the heavy slow cooker full of hot boiled taters onto the buffet table so I could find my own drink and re-join my husband and friends.

The next thing I know, I’m lurch forward through the air as I step out the back door.  Both my feet have left the ground, and somehow I’m making a nose dive toward the rough flagstone patio directly in front of me. Now a normal person would probably have thrown the slow cooker away from their body, allowing for themselves to brace their fall with their hands to avoid a face plant.  Not me though!  For some unknown reason, I folded the slow cooker against my chest, the lid pressed tight against my ample bosom, fingers clenched around the plastic handles on the side of the pot like I was heading out into the ocean for an afternoon of body surfing.

Moments later, the serenity of the party is broken by the ungodly screeching sound of metal against stone as I land on top of the slow cooker, sliding across the uneven flags of the patio in a spray of sparks from the bottom of the cooker.  As my ears are processing the high pitched wheal I can feel my feet gain momentum faster than my body and my legs begin to curl back over my body, and I’m feeling pretty certain that I’m about a heartbeat away from flipping over this crazy slow cooker in a bloody face plant.  Somehow, I managed to press my legs to the ground to halt my progress, stopping the ear splitting screeching, and as I abruptly ceased motion my glasses flew off my face and skidded a further 6 feet in front of me, thankfully coming to rest upside-down on the frames rather than the lenses.

I took a breath.  And another.  The crowd had fallen completely silent and in the absence of noise I could feel every pair of eyes at the party trained on my back.  My own eyes popped open and I realized simultaneously that my face was only inches from the rough flagstones, and I was somehow perched on top of the slow cooker like a hen on top of her nest of eggs.  I felt Sam lay his hand on my back, bending down to see if I was alive.  Prompted by a mortifying sense of embarrassment I heard myself repeating, “I’m okay,” two or three times before my brain had a chance to take stock of whether or not the words were true.

As my brain began to engage my body, I could feel the lid handle pressing hard against my breastbone and every breath I tried to draw in sent a twinge of pain through my chest.  The heat from the boiling water and hot potatoes was radiating through the glass lid and thin silk of my duck-egg blue blouse, causing my chest to burn as hotly red from the contents of the cooker as my face was from embarrassment.  My knees had slammed sharply against the flagstones and they felt like someone had run a hot poker against the kneecaps.  I silently cursed myself for wearing my favorite jeans, figuring they were probably ripped and ruined.

And then the gravity of the situation hit me…I was laying on top of a slow cooker of boiled potatoes in the middle of a crowd of strangers, and the worst part of the whole situation was, I was going to have to try and get up off the ground, preferably without looking like a turtle that was flipped over on its back, and without showing off my extra-large bum.  If I made it off the ground, I was going to have to find a way to exit the party quickly, most likely covered in a ruined top of smashed taters and hot salty water…. In that moment I was certain the social gods hated me.

Thank you Jesus for adrenaline.  In the time it took for a party-goer to retrieve my glasses from the patio, I had managed to burpee off the slow cooker into an upright position.  Sam plucked the slow cooker from the patio, which was somehow, miraculously still in one piece (although it will never sit level again), lid securely clipped down, and not a drop of hot contents spilled!  And I found that while my knees burned like fire my jeans were not ripped, and my bum had been securely covered by the tails of my silky blouse the entire time!  Within 90 seconds the party began buzzing again, and I was able to retrieve the vestiges of my dignity, smile at a few of the remaining gawkers, and sachet to the drinks table like nothing had happened.  Of course my cheeks never did lose their rosy red glow, and I noticed several of the chaps who’d paid me complements 15 minutes earlier were shooting me mischievous smiles of amusement before turning their attention back to their dates.  Oh, what a night to remember.

Only me, right?!  *sigh*

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Resurrection!

I'm back

Hello friends!  Wow, it’s been a while, right?  I can’t even believe this site is still an active site on WordPress, but hey, that’s the beauty of technology.  So I’ve got a wacky idea, lets resurrect this blog and see what happens.

I noticed my last post was written 5 years ago.  What?!  That’s crazyness!  And what’s even more insane is how different my life looks today from way back then.  To say a lot has happened in 5 years is really just an understatement, so let me catch you up on all the madness…

IMAG0420
Is this not the cutest thing you’ve ever seen?! This is Romeo and he’s babysitting by also doubling as a jungle gym!

2012: sold our dream home and move to a tiny little repo’d farm in the middle of no-where Georgia.  Seriously guys, I traded in my heels and designer handbags for rubber boots and overalls.  I know, insane, right?!  We downsized from a 4,000 s/f home in an upscale neighborhood to 1153 s/f of double-wide trailer on acreage.  Talk about a step or ten down in the world, BUT……the farm was PAID FOR in CASH from the sale of our house…..so that really made it a step UP!  Sadly, I broke my back at the end of the year and it’s really put a damper on my dancing days since then.

2013: husband was downsized from his extremely well paying corporate job in the beginning of 2013.  We knew it would happen, but that doesn’t make it any less painful psychologically.  Thankfully we had sold our house in town and were living in a place with no mortgage and lots of land to grow our own food, which we did.  That was an experience, for sure.  But God is good, and we never missed a meal, never had unpaid bills, and never felt we were going without.

IMG_20150223_172030722_HDR2014 – 2016: I started my own soap company as a way to bring extra income to our little homestead.  I was fairly successful in our area of north Georgia, and I loved making body products.  I was a terrible businesswoman though, so I really kept it from growing as much as it could, but I enjoyed every day of my work, plus I got to meet so many amazing people, both in the business and from the business.  I sold the business in January 2017 and it’s still going strong, which makes my heart very happy.

findochty harbor

2017: began fundraising for our international move to Scotland!  Yes, that’s right folks, I’m sitting in my office in the north of Scotland, looking out over the sea.  We live in a little coastal village called Buckie on the coast of the Moray Firth (North Sea).  Our view is amazing!  Okay, I’m bragging a little bit, I know it.  But y’all, it is so incredible here!  My beloved is the pastor of a wee little congregation and our life is like an episode of the Vicar of Dibley…well, not exactly, but sort of.

Honestly, I know it doesn’t look like much has happened from that brief explanation above, but it really has.  If I were to write about every single event that’s happened over the past 5 years this blog would be super long and y’all wouldn’t stick around to read it anyway.  I’m a realist, and what you really need to know is that I’m back, at least as much as I can be, and as often as I’m inspired to be.  I have no idea yet where this blog will go in the future, although I suspect it will probably be very much in the same vein as before with my crazy musings, my two-cents worth on social issues, and my story-telling ideas, plus a little bit of cooking, crafting, and village life thrown in for good measure.  I’ve missed y’all, and I’m looking forward to us getting to know each other all over again.   So until next time…

{Muah!}

Doesn’t that just figure!

In an effort to continue on our path of self-sufficiency and healthier eating, I ordered a nut grinding machine.  I love natural peanut butter, but to purchase it in the grocery store is dreadfully expensive.  How does that work exactly?  Process it less, add fewer ingredients, and charge more.  Seems like a great gimmick to me.  So I searched online for an economical, home grinding machine, and I found one.  Only one.  It had a few reviews, which were all favorable and seemed to indicate that this machine would be perfect for our needs.  So I ordered it.  That was this spring!

A couple of weeks passed and I didn’t receive the order.  I checked our bank account and the money hadn’t come out yet either, so I sent an email to customer service requesting an update on my order.  I received a prompt reply that went something like this:

Dear Customer,

Thank you for your recent order.  Unfortunately, this item is temporarily out of stock.  We do not have an estimated restock date from the manufacturer at this time.  Your account will be charged when this item is ready for shipment.  Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you.  Have a nice life.

Okay, I didn’t end with “Have a nice life,” but it might as well have.  Basically, what that response told me was you ordered something that no longer exists, so don’t hold out any hope of ever receiving it.  After all, how many people do you know who grind their own nut butters?

This past week Kroger was having one of their 10 for $10 sales, and peanut butter was included in that.  So we decided it was time to stock up since our nut grinder was obviously not going to come through for us.  And stock up we did.  We now have 20 jars of peanut butter in our pantry.  Did I mention that we’re suckers for a good deal?!  But who doesn’t use peanut butter?  It’s not like it has a short shelf life.  It’s practically as indestructible as Twinkies are.

On Monday morning I sat down at my computer with my coffee in hand and pulled up my email.  And wouldn’t ya know it!  Smack dab in the middle of my list of emails was a notification from the nut grinder place.  My order is getting ready to ship.  Well, doesn’t that just figure.  Maybe I can give jars of peanut butter away as stocking stuffers this year…

What a friend!

I woke up this morning with the words from “What A Friend We Have In Jesus” running through my mind.   I haven’t heard this old hymn in years; but as I was laying in bed this morning listening to the birds chirping gleefully outside my window I felt comforted by the thought that we do indeed have a friend in Jesus.  When I think of Him in that way, it makes me feel slightly strange because I’ve never really had a lot of friends – well, not really close friends anyway – not a BFF, that’s for sure.

In truth, I’m saddened by the way I often project my lack of understanding, my past history of poor choices and dysfunctional relationships, my inadequacies, and my insecurities into my relationship with the Lord.  He offers me the promise of a perfect friendship – free from disappointments, hurts, and rejection, and I so often am the one to muddy the waters with drama that is purely born out of my own dysfunctional heart and mind.  I’m so thankful that He is a friend that sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24) and is always there when I happen to wander into a deeper understanding of this crazy relationship we’ve got.

What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer.


Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
take it to the Lord in prayer.


Are we weak and heavy laden,
cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In his arms he’ll take and shield thee;
thou wilt find a solace there.

FRESH the movie

This morning as we’re getting ready for church, Sam comes bounding up the stairs nearly giddy with excitement over a new movie that’s coming out this spring called FRESH (<—–CLICK on the name to see the official website and to watch the trailers).  The movie is a happier spin-off of Food, Inc., and after watching the previews I’m so excited for it to come out.

In the past eighteen months, both Sam and I have radically changed our way of thinking in regard to the food we eat and grow.  When we moved to Georgia in 2008 we began vegetable gardening as a way to fill Sam’s sleddog void, and for something for me to do during my days at home.  With our first plateful of truly vine-ripened tomatoes back in 2008 we were hooked, and decided we wanted to try and grow all our own fresh produce.  That began a three-year plan to become completely vegetable and fruit self-sufficient.

However, in the last year or so, we’ve become increasingly and alarmingly aware of the dangers of the rest of the foods we regularly consume.  Things like “healthy” eggs, skim and 1% milk, “trans-free” margarine, “diet” sodas and “vitamin water” mix-ins, “whole wheat” pastas and breads, “low-fat” fruited yogurts and ice creams, etc.  As we began reading labels and considering how chemically, sugar, sodium, and MSG packed our diets had become (even in the foods we’ve been led to believe were healthy for us) we began to understand our various health ailments – things like slow weight loss (and in most cases weight gain), heart palpitations, kidney problems, muscle aches, migraines, water retention and bloating, and a variety of other issues I won’t bore you with.  Suffice it to say, that Food, Inc. opened our minds and eyes to what we should have seen all along, and yet didn’t because it has been elaborately veiled from us by those who stand to make the most money off of what we’re eating.

The bottom line for us is, we’re taking control.  We’re fighting back.  No longer are we content to sit back and just shrug our shoulders in defeat.  God created this brilliant ball of green-space just for us, His creation.  And, not only did he entrust us with this magnificent rock, but He even gave us a manual for living, eating, and caring for it (we like to call it the Bible).  So we will rake and hoe the soil.  We will plant seeds and trees and care for them.  We will harvest and preserve and pickle until our fingers are green and wrinkled.  We will grow our own rabbits, chickens, and beef, and we will eat it all.  We will hunt more.  We will make our own butter, cheese, yogurt, sour cream, cream cheese, cottage cheese, clotted cream, and other dairy products.  We will grow our own grains and we will grind them and make our own breads and cakes.  And we are going to become beekeepers as well.   And we will do it all (or as much as possible) without hormones, steroids, chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and in God’s timing, not our own.   We have determined to live our life as stewards of God’s creation, not manipulators of it.  I hope you’ll consider joining the revolution too.

Nearly there, nearly there! Construction days 15 to 18

Well, despite the last three days of rain the construction project is nearly completed!  All that’s left to be done is some window caulking, minor clean-up, and the carpet installation.  We’re finally beginning to see the completed project.  In the next weekend or two I’ll be doing some furniture shopping, a bit of painting, possibly putting up a few curtains, and adding in all those homey touches that make any new construction project feel like home.  I can’t wait, and I believe the finish line is in sight!

The painter did a great job!

The stairs feel less dangerous now that we've got railings on them.

We finally have doors and windows!!!

More doors and windows.

The sunroom windows are going in beautifully.

All the windows are in place and the screens are being trimmed up.

The bottom screens are finished....next up is the extension ladder for the top screens.

The main entry door to the sunroom. I love it!

Our weekend To-Do list…if it ever stops raining…

This weekend is going to be hit the ground runnin’ busy.  Here’s what  my To-Do list looks like:

* Grocery shopping

* Trip to the Farm for milk, eggs, and meat

* Build four raised beds in the garden

* Recondition Earth Box soil

* Plant early crop of sugar snap peas

* Put together Mantis rototiller to use in raised beds

* Pick up trash and dog poop in yard

* Clean out the garage

* Break down enormous pile of empty boxes for this week’s trash pile

* Clean the house and scrub bathrooms

* Plant peach tree

* Make farmhouse cheddar and mozzarella

* Brew Irish Red Ale

* Mop the floor in the dog’s room

* Pick out paint colors for living room, dining room, and basement

* Put down fresh pine straw in front landscaping beds

* Start shopping for a milk cow

* Organize our basement storage rooms

* Put together upside down planters

I don’t think I’ll get everything on this list accomplished, but I’m sure looking forward to trying!  What are your weekend plans?