Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Meal Between the Chapters

For all you cooks out there who are beside yourself with curiosity (yeah, right) as to what the first meal in our new house was, we dined on leftover hamburgers and hotdogs that were grilled in Smithfield, then frozen and carted to Manteo. 

For dessert we had apple/butterscotch cake which was--you guessed it--baked in Smithfield (for Thanksgiving), then frozen and carted to Manteo.   Bottom line was that our Manteo meal consisted of Smithfield food.  Pretty fitting I guess, for the meal between the chapters.


In the first picture, I seem to have caught Steve halfway between a smirk and a smile.  I thought about not posting the picture, but then I changed my mind because it’s really sorta funny. Also, Sarah looks a bit more cheery in that picture than in the second one.

IMG_0110 IMG_0111


So there you have it.  The smirking Smith dad and the non-smirking Smith daughter.

The morning after our first night, I found my human child and my canine child hard at work breaking in the newly relocated couch and the accompanying TV.  It’s a hard life.


Snowy’s not quite sure what to think about all of this.  He almost got lost going up to Sarah’s room last night since he’s used to just one flight of stairs going straight up.  In this house, it’s stairs, turn on a landing, more stairs, turn and go through a door, more stairs, turn on a landing, more stairs and finally, Sarah’s room.

Last night in the midst of his exploratory stair climbing, his perpetually confused canine look was even more perpetually confused looking than ever.   Believe me, I can relate since confusion seems to be my new best friend!

Gotta go.  More boxes (and confusion) await.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Frosted Meatloaf

We did it! We had our first meal and slept our first night in The New House! It felt sorta strange (and a little lonely, to me at least) to be using all of our familiar plates and sitting in familiar chairs in such an unfamiliar place. Almost like, "What's wrong with this picture? Why am I cooking with this well-loved pan on this so-strange stove?"

Our ice maker isn't working and we still can't find a few important items but all in all, we're happy as clams (how happy is a clam, anyway?) and are lovin' our new abode.

And now, in order to give everyone a break from the posts about the dreadful drudgery of packing, unloading and decorating, here's a recipe for ya!

I'll be back in touch once I've unpacked at least ninety-two more boxes. And not a minute before. (smile)

Frosted Meatloaf

You could really use any meatloaf recipe you wanted for this recipe, but I'll go ahead and give you the one I use.

1 egg
1/3 C ketchup or bar-b-que sauce
1/3 C quick cooking oats
1 1/2 pounds ground beef or turkey.
dash of pepper

1/2 t. salt (I used seasoned salt)

1. Put egg in bowl; stir a little.

2. Add oats, sauce or ketchup, salt and pepper.
2. Mix well.
3. Add ground beef; mix with your hands.
4. Put mixture into an 8x4 inch loaf pan.

Bake one hour and fifteen minutes at 350 degrees.

Remove loaf from pan, put on plate and "frost" with four servings of instant potatoes. (Or you could make "real" potatoes if you're feeling incredibly energetic.) Garnish as desired.

When I made this recently, I started a little late and didn't have an hour and fifteen minutes to let it bake. So I improvised and made three smaller loaves and just baked them on a rack on a cookie sheet. The rack allowed the fat to drain away. Decrease baking time by at least 20-25 minutes. (Check for doneness.)

I frosted just the tops, although when I make the loaf-shaped meatloaf, I usually frost the top and the sides.

I garnished my cute little loaves with some paprika, triangles of cheese, and a little squirt of ketchup.

If you have small kids, you could get really creative and make designs or even faces.

And just a little added Frosted Meatloaf story:

I made this recipe about six months ago. After putting the loaf in the oven to bake, I looked everywhere for my recipe so I could put it back in my recipe box. It has disappeared. Entirely. Completely. Indubitably.

I thought I was losing my mind because I had been holding the recipe in my hands just seconds earlier.

Finally I gave up looking and chalked it up to senility. However, when I took the pan out of the oven, guess what I found? Stuck to the bottom (and rather well done after over an hour of baking) was my missing recipe.

And this is what it looked like.

It was a bit on the dry side but with some ketchup, it wasn't all that bad!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

From Curtains To Bears

Tonight is the night!

And what night is that? you may ask.

Tonight we are sleeping in our new house!

ALL of our stuff will finally be in one place for the first time in forever. And because of that, I will finally be able to stop thinking so hard, which is a good thing because my brain is becoming borderline befogged. And bedraggled. And bamboozled. And bereft of braininess.

As part of our ongoing moving progress report, I am happy to say that the mattress on the king bed has been moved and the dust ruffle applied so that our bed can be made up today. We got all the miscellaneous storage boxes moved out of Sarah's bathroom so that Sarah can actually walk into her bathroom. (It's always very helpful to be able to walk into ones own bathroom.)

Yesterday, I joyfully liberated all of the clothes in our closet from their claustrophobic confines of garbage bags and rubber bands. We had gathered up 6-8 pieces of clothing at a time, put rubber bands around the hangers and then put an upside down trash bag over them, poking the bunched hangers out through a little slit in the bag. (Thanks for that great tip, Meagan!)

I have put most of our bathroom items away and am actually able to most of them. (Wonder of wonders!) The washer and dryer are hooked up and the dishes and pans are reasonably well organized.

And on that subject, Sarah was just saying last night, "Mom, I can't wait until we can sit at our own table using our own dishes again!"

Well, Princess Groovy Chick, tonight is the night! I don't know WHAT we'll be eating at our own table on our own dishes (my befogged brain hasn't thought that far ahead) but I must agree that it will be a great joy to finally gather in our new home and eat there as a family.

And speaking of our new home, thanks to all of you for your sweet comments yesterday concerning the decorating of our living room. Although the living room space is not real large, its more diminutive size will provide a cozy, intimate setting for conversation. And books. And friends. And chocolate.

Anyway, I wanted to comment on a few of your comments:

Judy, I was amazed that you would notice from the pictures how well the sofa table fit between the pillars. We were actually sort of surprised by that ourselves because, when we bought the table seven years ago, we didn't even think to use it as a sofa table. When it slid perfectly between those pillars, just like it had been designed to go there, Steve and I both did half of a happy dance. (We were too worn out for a full happy dance.) Anyway, thanks for noticing the Wonder Of The Perfectly Fitting Sofa Table.

As for Sarah and the color of her room, that is a question that is still up for debate. There are several factors we're weighing and sorting (no wonder I'm tired--it's all that weighing and sorting I've been doing) but we'll fill you in as we go along.

Nancy asked where we got our curtains in the living room.

They came from Bed, Bath and Beyond. They have large metal grommets in them that just slide over a metal (or wooden) rod and very easy to put up once the rod is in place.

Mary (one of my most faithful signers) asked whether we could ask the owner of the house to help refinish the floors if my breathing problems resurfaced. And she also asked if we are pretty sure that we're purchasing this house.

First of all, yes, this is the home we are buying when our house in Smithfield sells; we have signed a rent-to-own agreement. When we actually close on the house, the owner has signed papers stating that he will fix a couple things that are the most pressing and then will write a check to apply to the remaining things that need attention. (Not a terribly large check, but at least it will get us started.)

I'm thinking our first priority will be to try and replace all the flooring on the second floor and just start fresh. Whether or not we'll be able to afford hardwood in the bedroom is another thing altogether, but at least we'll have fresh, non dusty, non musty carpet. And my lungs said, "Amen!"

And on an entirely different, non-decorating note (and my few male readers said, "It's about time!") here is a sign that we see each time we cross the second big bridge leaving Manteo.

Isn't that fun?

What I'd like to know is what you're supposed to do if you are diligently watching for bears and actually see one? Yikes. I'm not sure if bears actually make it a habit to cross a highway or not (the way deer do), but I think it would be quite exciting to actually see one. (From inside a car, that is.)

From curtains to bears, that's the Smithellaneous Report for today. The next time I write, it will be from my own house.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Breathing. Boxes.

We're getting close. Closer and closer and closer. And even closer. It looks as though we'll be sleeping in our new house tomorrow night!

One of the reasons we haven't moved in earlier was that when I spent more than a few minutes in our master bathroom/bedroom, my lungs started aching and I experienced shortness of breath. I also got a sore throat and a headache. Not such a good thing!

It was also a bit disconcerting because we didn't know if I was reacting to something within the house itself which couldn't be changed. That would not be good news, being unable to live in my own house!

On Monday, the carpet cleaner guy came and yesterday, with some fear and trembling, I ventured into the bedroom and took a few experimental breaths. And then a few more.

Bottom line? I was able to spend two hours unpacking and organizing the master bath and bedroom with nary a problem. Hallelujah!

Whatever issue I was dealing with obviously had to do with something in the carpet. We would love to put hardwood floors in our bedroom eventually, just because they're much more friendly to people with lung problems, but for now we'll deal with what we have.

I had posted a picture a few days ago of Steve working on curtains in the living room; however, after an hour or two of messing around with them, we finally took a step back from the project and realized the whole idea was never going to work. The curtains that were already in place were pretty old, faded from the sun and had gotten beyond the point of hanging straight.

So on our way to Smithfield Monday, we stopped by a store and picked up some simple panels to hang instead. They look so much better! We threw the dusty, musty drapes out on the back deck which made my dust-hating lungs even happier. Happy lungs, happy life!

Here are a few more pictures of our progress.


Comments on the Comment Section

Krista asked to see some pictures of Sarah's room. It is very much "in process" right now; we're hoping to make a good bit of progress in there today.

This is what she sees when she looks down from her room. Pretty cool view, huh?


Anonymous asked what size t-shirt Sarah wears. She can wear either a size 16 girls (extra large) or the smallest size in a junior. (Don't know if that's a 1 or a 3. I left those sizes behind when I was about seven years old.)

Lysa had an excellent question concerning why we made Nathan's bed first when he won't be home for two weeks.

I actually have a very good reason! Our bed did not yet have the dust ruffle (fender skirt, bed skirt, whatever . . . ) on it and the king mattress is too big for me to help Steve move it. So we're waiting for reinforcements to come in today and move the mattress. Then the skirt can go on, the sheets, the comforter, the pillows--and we'll be good to go!

Okay. I'm signing off. And you'll never guess what I'm going to do next.

Can't guess?

I'll give you a hint.

It has to do with boxes.

Try to figure it out.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Good Goodbye

Yesterday I cried.

Crying is a good thing. A great thing, even. A cleanser of emotions and a releaser of stored up grief. Not to mention a legitimate and legal reason to eat chocolate after the tears have passed.

Yesterday, we spent several hours in Smithfield, cleaning and packing up some remaining oddments at our old house. I felt a little strange when we first walked back into the empty, echo filled rooms but I didn't really feeling teary. Not then.

I worked, and Steve worked, and Sarah worked. We scrubbed the tubs and toilets, vacuumed, polished the wood floors, mopped the linoleum, cleaned the baseboards and just generally neatened stuff up.

Sarah and I made a Walmart run to purchase a few necessities for the house like towel racks and a shower curtain. As we were shopping, we joked that if we just stayed in Walmart long enough, Steve would have all the cleaning done by the time we returned.

Sigh. It didn't work. There was still plenty to be done when we returned.

By the time the three of us had finished up the last little bit of stuff, it was almost 7 pm and we still had to get dinner and drive three hours home. I was exhausted beyond words. And filled to the brim with memories. And filled up to the edges of my heart with thoughts of the five years of Smith life that had been lived within those walls.

My last job in the house was to wipe down the kitchen counters and then polish up the kitchen sink and all the fixtures. The more I polished and scrubbed, the more the memories surrounded me. So many meals served in that kitchen, so much joyous laughter in the walls around the table. It suddenly seemed impossible to me that the final goodbye had come and I would never again live in that beloved place.

Steve was still upstairs finishing up some tasks and Sarah was waiting with Snowy out in the van.

I went outside into the cool, cleansing air, stared out at the deserted yard inhabited soley by memories and I cried. And cried. And cried.

I remembered the traveling musicians and missionaries to Africa we'd had over to eat. I thought about over 150 people from church we'd entertained at various functions over the years.

I remembered the family meals that would somehow end up with someone grabbing the dictionary to settle a word argument.

I looked at memory pictures like these.

I remembered church board dinners, and birthday parties, and Nathan's High School graduation party. I looked back at all the times that we (and our friends) had played badminton in the back yard.

I remembered how my kids had swung on the swing set and I thought happily about the way Snowy had been the reigning Canine King of his own fenced-in back yard for five years.

A lot of memories. Memories of the place where Nathan and Sarah both grew into the wondrous people they are right now. Those walls hold the chapters of their childhood that we can never again recapture.

I looked at the basketball hoop near the curb and thought of all the times Nathan had gone out there late at night to blow off steam and shoot a few hoops. I remembered the times I had had gone out there to play with him and how he had said such encouraging things to me ("Mom, you are a natural at this") while I flailed and fumbled and created comic relief for the bemused birds and squirrels.

I looked at the street where Sarah, full of triumph and victory, had finally learned how to ride a bike without training wheels for the first time; I remembered the victorious expression that shone on her face when she did it. She had conquered cancer. She had conquered bike riding. She is a conquerer beyond words, beyond a doubt.

I looked at another street and remembered the hundreds of walks Steve and I had taken around the neighborhood, sometimes burdened down and overwhelmed by the challenges of ministry, sometimes giggling hysterically over some funny story.

I remembered Thanksgiving Dinners and Christmas tree decorating, and the way Nathan's baritone voice rang through the house one particular night when he was singing "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" while doing the dishes.

I remembered standing at the top of the stairs and listening to Steve and Sarah's voices downstairs as they ate breakfast together and the indescribably contented feeling the sound of their laughter brought to my heart.

I remembered Snowy (AKA our second doorbell) keeping watching on the neighborhood from the fourth stair, a place which he had scientifically selected because he could see out the front windows from there.

I remembered shouts of laughter and tears of deepest sorrow. I remembered the joyous hellos we said when we arrived at Smithfield and I contemplated the fact that the book of goodbyes had been written.

It was a good day.

A good cry.

A good good-bye.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Stumbling, Muttering, Wringing. And A Fender Skirt.

We still aren't sleeping in our house due to a variety of reasons so I am now carting a lot of the stuff that was unpacked into the new house back to the cottage that we're borrowing.

It always seems that when I'm at the cottage and need something, it's at the house and when I'm at the house and need something, it's at the cottage. My brain is having to think way too hard just to accomplish the basic stuff of life. My brain is screaming for chocolate. My brain is getting chocolate. Chocolate is the only way to get through each day.

Also, to add to our joyous chaos, every sentence Steve and I have said to each other in the past five days has started with, "Honey, have you seen my . . . ?"

And every answer has been, "It's in a box."

We don't know WHAT box. Just a box. Pick a box, any box.


And today, rather than head back to the house to continue to unpack and get one step closer to sleeping there, we are hitting the road in about an hour to drive back to Smithfield (to our other house) in order to take care of some cleaning and repairs there. We also have to pack up a few leftovers that we didn't have time to deal with when the Big Moving Guys were there.

Have I mentioned I am overwhelmed? And tired of being discombobulated in a most discombobulatory sort of way? My little ol' comfort zone that needs to be well organized has stretched to the point of snapping and I now seem to frequently find myself stumbling around, muttering to myself and wringing my hands.

Stumbling. Muttering. Wringing. You should try it sometime. It's tons of fun!

Thankfully, we've had a couple meals brought in and we were also invited to a church member's house for a meal Saturday night. (Thanks, Bibber, Marvin and Betsy; what a lovely evening!)

It's Bibber's sister who is letting us use her cottage; she lives in Florida and only stays here part of the time. I told Steve that if I didn't have this lovely, cozy, peaceful, well-organized place to come to at night, I would be in serious danger of going utterly insane. And I would also be in serious danger of stumbling, muttering and wringing.

(Oh wait. I'm already doing that. Never mind.)

At any rate, I won't keep you here too long with my random ramblings and ruminations. I just wanted to let you know how much I've appreciated all your sweet messages of encouragement in the comments section; I love checking in several times a day to get a little boost of the sunshine you've been sending our way.

I'll close out with a few miscellaneous pictures before getting ready to head down the highway to Smithfield. To clean. And pack. And organize. And stumble. And mutter. And wring. And chocolate-ize my life.

Here is Sir Hubby hard at work repairing the box spring he had to take apart in order to get it moved upstairs.

Saturday night found all three of us at the house rummaging through boxes and unpacked hanging clothes to try and find something to wear to church. Have you ever tried to find a pair of earrings and matching necklace in a pile of boxes that rivals Mount Everest? I engaged in a little extra stumbling and muttering but I finally succeeded.

Here's Nathan's room in process. We ended up not liking where we'd had the movers put the furniture, so on Saturday, Steve and I ended up moving all the furniture around his room. I told Steve I would be happy to lend him my "massive musculature" for the project. He did very well not to snicker out loud over that particular piece of pitiful hyperbole.

After we got the bed moved to where we wanted it and got the box spring in place, we wrestled the queen sized mattress on top of it. (My massive musculature was not feeling quite so massive by that point.)

We had just barely managed to get the the mattress shoved into place when Steve suddenly shouted, "Hey, we forgot the fender skirt!"

Fender skirt? I stared at him in puzzled bamboozlement before finally realizing that he meant the dust ruffle.

Well, suddenly the whole thing just struck my tired brain as being so funny that I almost had to go sit down on the floor because I was laughing so hard.

Of course (as my few male readers will realize), when Steve mentioned a fender skirt, he was talking about a certain piece of a car. And if you need still more of an explanation, I'll just let you know that a fender skirt is the, um, skirt that goes over the fender. (Sometimes I impress even myself with my broad range of knowledge. Not to mention my massive musculature.)

At any rate, we got the giggling over with, removed the mattress, applied the fender skirt, er, dust ruffle, and put the mattress back where it belonged.

And then, oh joy of joys, we made the bed. It's the first "made" bed in the new house and I was so happy about it I just had to sit and stare at the bed for about ten minutes. (I don't get out much.) When you're living in the land of chaos, even the small triumphs are huge.

One made up bed, complete with a fender skirt; we're making good progress. At this rate, we might even be sleeping in the house before Sarah graduates from High School!


Comments On Your Comments

Mrs. Pam asked if I knew where a comment was from if she signed under "anonymous."

Mrs Pam, it won't automatically tell me, but if you just sign your name at the end of your "anonymous" note, all will be well. (And thank you for being one of my most faithful signers.)


Anonymous asked, "What is on Sarah's Christmas list this year?"

Mostly Cd's, books, and stuff for her little hand held game gizmo. (I can never remember what those are called.) She also said she wants t-shirts with cute graphic sayings on them. (For instance she has one that says, "Life Is Short And So Am I.")

Unfortunately, in the middle of this move, Christmas has been pushed far to the back of my muddled mind. At some point, I suppose I shall have to stop stumbling and muttering and start concentrating on the season. And eggnog. And sugar cookies. And chocolate.

Jan from Toledo asked which song of mine won the Grand Prize in the national songwriting competition I referred to earlier.

Here are the lyrics. We recorded it with a huge sounding orchestra, strings, brass, etc all done on a synthesizer by a guy who does studio work full time and does an amazing job of making orchestral stuff sound "real." We also had some incredible background singers and the song turned out beautifully.

Let The Blood Speak For Me

1. It's so hard to find the words to say
When I'm standing face to face
With the accuser who comes telling me
That I've strayed too far from grace
Just when my soul begins to tremble
Heaven starts to intercede
And I know I can boldly cry
The only words I need

Let the blood speak for me
Let it tell of Calvary
Let it say again
That I am free
O let the blood speak for me

2. When the voice of condemnation comes
When it drives my heart to tears
When it speaks to me of yesterday
Full of failures, full of fears
Well, I begin to cry for mercy
At the gates of grace I plead
Each day I pray for strength to say
The only words I need

Repeat chorus

Speaking of mercy, speaking of grace
But no longer speaking of sins long erased

Back to chorus