Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday

We were studying John in our Sunday morning Bible study class recently, and something stuck out that I had never caught before. Of course, I've heard the story of Jesus and read the book of John many times, but I never understood this part before, and now that I do, I'm amazed!


To begin, one must have an understanding of how crucifixion works. The position of the arms when someone is being crucified makes it very difficult to breathe. The person had to push up on their nailed feet to draw a partial breath, and the strain caused the lungs to fill with fluid, until finally, death comes by suffocation, sometimes many days later, which is why they broke the legs of the thieves to speed up the process. I had heard this before too, but still missed the important point.

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. - John 19:30

From this verse, it's easier to think that Jesus may have been killed by crucifixion. That's what I used to think, that Jesus had allowed the cross to take His life. But for further detail, look at the verses about His death in Mark: 

33 And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 35 And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” 36 And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” 37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” - Mark 15:33-39

If Jesus was about to die as the result of crucifixion, He would not have been able to cry out "with a loud voice" or "utter a loud cry" right before He breathed His last. As our study leader explained, when someone died by crucifixion, the last sound was usually a gurgling as the lungs completely filled with fluid. That is why the centurion, who watched Him die, was convinced the He was the Son of God, the centurion knew He could have lived much longer if He still had breath enough to cry out so loudly.

"For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father." - John 10:17-18

These verses from John make it clear, that He was given the power by God the Father to die at exactly the moment He chose. He allowed Himself to be spit upon, tortured, mocked, beaten, scourged and crucified, but ultimately, "NO ONE" took His life from Him. The cross didn't kill Him, humans didn't murder Him (although they tried), He voluntarily sacrificed His life for us. What amazing power! Truly, He is the Son of God. He laid down His life at exactly the right time to be our eternal Passover Lamb.

Greater than that, though, is that He rose from the dead. He was given power to lay down His life, AND to take it up again! We have been given new life through His resurrection. Because He died, we are dead to sin, and because He lives, we are alive with Him!

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. - Colossians 2:13-15

 
Hallelujah, He is risen! Have a wonderful Resurrection weekend, everyone!
 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Raw Chocolate Recipe

I don't know if I'd want to eat healthy if it meant I'd have to give up chocolate... thankfully, that's not necesssary! Chocolate can actually be good for you, with the right ingredients. The cacao bean itself is very healthful, what makes your typical chocolate bar so bad for you are the other ingredients, like white sugar, milk fat, emulsifiers like soy lecithin (probably GMO), artificial flavorings and others.

REAL chocolate, on the other hand, is much simpler, and very healthy, even better if you make it raw. I've made raw chocolate with cacao butter and cacao powder before. I can't find the original recipe anymore, but it goes as follows (I've memorized it):

100g raw Cacao butter
6 TBS of raw Cacao powder
3-4 TBS of raw honey
1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
pinch of salt

When I found raw Cacao liquor here, I decided it might be an even better way to make my own chocolate because liquor is actually even less processed than the cacao butter and cacao powder, because the two aren't separated. In cacao liquor, the cacao bean is liquefied. It's also sometimes called cacao paste.

I couldn't find any recipes for plain raw chocolate using cacao liquor, so I just "winged it" and my first attempts turned out a little thick and clumpy, I couldn't figure out why. I thought adding the honey might be causing it to seize, but honey in the other recipe didn't cause it to seize. Finally, I found a recipe for some kind of chocolate bark and even though I didn't want to try the exact recipe (it had nuts and seeds and other additional things that I didn't want) it gave me the idea to use cacao liquor AND cacao butter. I realized that the ratio of cacao butter to cacao powder in my original recipe was probably a lot higher than 1 to 1, and cacao liquor is supposed to be about 50%/50%, so I decided to add cacao butter to my cacao liquor.

It turned out so smooth and glorious, I thought I could hear angel choruses singing in delight. Unfortunately, I didn't measure (just kind of estimated...) the cacao liquor and cacao butter, so I didn't know exactly how to recreate it (I know, shame on me. My dad has given me that lecture enough times, I should know better.) and since I was afraid it might turn out thick again, I decided not to put the vanilla extract or salt, and just sweeten it with a little honey. It was very bittersweet, but still enjoyable. This chocolate stays solid even at room temperature (unlike chocolate made with coconut oil, which is still yummy and good for you... and also cheaper to make) and is great for chocolate chips.

I tried to recreate what I had done, but measuring it so I would have a recipe to follow... but I also decided to add the vanilla extract, and make it a little sweeter. It didn't turn out quite as smooth once it chilled, although it still looked as smooth when it was all melted and I was pouring it into the mold. I think the honey crystallized a little when it cooled. Anyway, here is the working recipe right now, if anyone wants to try it and share any tricks and tips they might discover, I'd love to hear!

~250g of raw cacao liquor
~50g of raw cacao butter 
6 TBS of raw honey
1 tsp of vanilla extract
generous pinch of sea salt

Combine coarsely chopped cacao liquor and cacao butter in a double boiler over low heat. Do not let the water in the double boiler actually reach a boil. Keep the heat low and slowly melt to preserve the raw benefits. Once melted, stir in the honey, vanilla and salt thoroughly. Remove from heat, and avoid getting any steam or water droplets mixed with the chocolate. Pour into candy molds, or just a parchment-lined baking pan. Allow to cool (I like to speed the process by refrigerating or freezing) and enjoy! It will stay solid at room temperature, but if you make chocolate chips for baking, I find that cold chips keep their shape better as they're mixed into cookie dough, so I keep the chocolate chips in the fridge.

Notes:
-As you can see, I'm tripling the grams of total chocolate base from my original recipe, but not the amount of honey, as I don't want it quite as sweet, but you can definitely add more honey to taste... just be warned that it might alter the consistency. You could also try stevia... not a sweetener my family enjoys, but it has the benefit of not altering the consistency as much, particularly if you use liquid stevia.

-Next time, I plan to try 200g of cacao liquor, and 100g of cacao butter.


Here's the GAPS approved chocolate chip cookies I made with the yummy chocolate chips. Recipe was found at MommyPotamus as a guest post from Gutsy. I added an egg, and I'm glad I did because our almond flour (I grind it myself) has a much less fine ground, as you can see. The egg helped the cookies hold together, and I also added about 2 tablespoons of coconut flour to counter the extra wetness. My youngest brother said they were "very good!" and my family sat there and stared in shock for a few seconds at such high praise.

Cheers for yummy, HEALTHY treats!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Thoughts on romantic relationships, inspired by Frozen.

Because I can't even write a completely unrelated post without Jane Austen quotes, here's a quote from Mansfield Park (watched recently) regarding illusions of character: 
"All of this leads me to believe that the person I've been so apt to dwell on for many months has been a figure of my own imagination, not you, Miss Crawford. I do not know you, and I'm sorry to say, I have no wish to." -Edmund Bertram. 

Warning: spoilers for Frozen below! Don't read if you haven't seen the movie yet! Go see it first, it's worth it, and then come back, read this post and share your thoughts!

We have two romantic relationships to contrast in this movie: Anna and Hans, vs. Anna and Kristoff.

“This is awkward. Not you’re awkward, but just ‘cause we’re–I’m awkward. You’re gorgeous. Wait, what?” – Anna
First, Anna and Hans meet in typical Disney-princess style, except the ridiculousness of their love-at-first sight is intentionally amplified. They're both dumb-struck at their first meeting (does dumb-struck mean suddenly hit with nearly with incomprehensible stupidity?) and when they meet again at the ball, sing one really cute duet before he proposes, and she accepts. WHAT?!?


When Anna goes off to search for Elsa, and first meets Kristoff, there are no immediate sparks. If anything, they get on each others nerves a little. He's a little gruff and rude, then she rather annoyingly demands and bribes him into taking her up the mountain, and clobbers him with the gear she purchased for him; he makes fun of her impulsive engagement after knowing Hans only ONE DAY. They start off with a bit of friction and some controversy, and he only continues helping her not because she'll die on her own, but because she promised to replace his sled for him - at least, that's the reason he claims.

"Carrots. Carrots!" - Kristoff  Yeah, is that how you say, "excuse me, please"??
Back at Arendell, Hans seems to be showing signs of kindness, maturity, clear thinking and calm leadership skills. Anna may not have known more about him than that he's a prince, gorgeous, likes sandwiches, has 12 older brothers and dreamy eyes, but he does seem to have character. Anyone can fake character, how long can faking last? Obviously, almost anyone could keep it up for the small amount of time that Hans did before Anna accepted him, but from what they showed us of his behavior while Anna was gone, I am impressed with his faking abilities. Perhaps there's a warning here about how good a fake can be? (I mean, think about poor Edmund in Mansfield Park!)


Meanwhile, Anna and Kristoff go through some character-revealing trials together, like running away from a monster snow man. Once Anna's heart is frozen and she starts to freeze, Kristoff does everything he can for her and takes her to his troll "family" in hopes that they can heal her. After a silly song where the trolls try to marry them almost as impulsively as Anna agreed to marry Hans, the grandfather troll finally tells Kristoff that only an act of true love can save Anna, so he takes her back to Hans, her "true love," as fast as possible.

Question: Why does Kristoff's sacrificially giving Anna up for what he believes to be her good NOT count as an act of true love?
Answer: That would not answer the feminist and anti-romance message this movie is slamming over our heads.

At this point, Hans has found Elsa, saved her from recklessly murdering two bad guys, and takes her safely back to Arendelle, where, albeit, he locks her in a dungeon and tries to contain her powers. That makes sense to me, however, and there's no evidence of him treating her badly otherwise. Through the entire movie up to this point, his character is solidly good, if a little bland. He's acts more mature that Kristoff, he's more considerate, and seems to have a better grasp of the importance and purpose of deodorant.


Then we discover that Hans is a fake after all, he refuses to kiss Anna (arguably not necessarily an act of true love anyway, as Anna seems merely desperate to save her own life) and leaves her to freeze while he goes to kill Elsa and take the kingdom for himself. This annoys me just because there were no hints that he might be a bad guy until it looks like he's going in to kiss Anna, and then pulls away. I guess that's how surprised and betrayed we feel when our fantasies are shattered by the real person that was hiding behind our wishful imaginations and the fronts they put up. But I just didn't want Hans to be that bad. Plus, with "hindsight is 20/20," a few little hints that he was going to turn out bad would have been nice. I have now seen Frozen three times, and each time I looked very carefully for hints, and there really wasn't a single one.


So, Kristoff finally snaps out of it and realizes he has to go back for Anna, and he comes racing across the fjord on Sven to give her that "true love's kiss" (we can only assume, anyway) but Anna decides to protect Elsa from Hans rather than saving herself, and her sacrificial act of love is what saves her AND Elsa. Finally, everything is put right, and Anna and Kristoff have a cute ending where she gives him a replacement sled (and guitar-thingy) and he asks her permission before kissing her. Respectful, sweet, endearing. But does she really know that much more about Kristoff? What makes him the right man for her?

Is the lack of love-at-first-sight? (Must immediate attraction never go along with a relationship that might develop into something real?)

Is it the rockiness of their beginning together? (Would comfortable interaction early in the relationship be a sign of doom?)

Is it the difficulties they weather together? (If so, how many trials must a couple go through together before they can be sure that the other isn't a fake?)

Is it his lack of perfection? Does the guy you marry have to get spit in your face because he cares about his sled (car) more than you, eat his boogers, and have many other flaws, like being a little smelly or socially impaired? 

Does he have to be willing to give you up and walk away at some point in the relationship before he comes back?

How many days did Anna know Kristoff anyway? And did they even get married, or did they just live together forever because you can never really be 100% positive and absolutely certain about another person? Or maybe they ended up breaking up. After all, they didn't sing a song together, you know!

Or maybe that's one of the requirements for finding your true love, you absolutely cannot sing adorable duets together. Because that would be too fun and romantic to be true love... 

I don't know if the makers of this movie ever really decided exactly what message they were trying to send. I'm confused, and the more I think about it, the more confused I get about what the whole point was anyway. I'm liking Frozen less and less the more I contemplate. I wish I could stop thinking about it, but for some reason my brain just can't Let It Go. (Yes, I'm reduced to cheesy puns.) I'm starting to feel like the message was: Don't ever trust nice guys, because if a guy really seems nice, he's just too good to be true. Be sure to settle for a guy with several flaws, but pick a guy with flaws that don't really bother you.

I do really like a lot of the soundtrack though, and before I end, can I just say, I don't care if Hans ends up a bad guy, I really think it'd be awesome to marry a guy who would do things like this with me one day:



Stinking cute song, adorable fun couple. 
 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

On First Times

I am almost 23 years old, but being a homeschool graduate, and having lived with my parents my whole life, some things that other people might have done by this age are still new experiences for me. I definitely don't feel stifled by my parents, they allow me to be as much of an independent adult as I could wish, but living in a relatively large family that usually does everything together, I haven't done much on my own, simply because there was no need, and I would rather be with my family most of the time.

Until I was 20, I hadn't been away from my family for longer than one-night-long sleepovers. Then my cousin and his wife invited me to come visit them after the birth of their baby girl, and that was a lot of firsts: I had never been on a plane before, and I flew to a state I'd never visited before, where I stayed a whole week without anyone in my immediate family. 

I also slept in a room by myself, which, while not a first (I'd slept in the room that my sister and I share without her before) was something that hadn't really worked well before... it made me feel very childish, but when one has shared a room for one's entire life (excepting only a few nights) it's just a little unsettling to try to sleep without someone. But for some reason, I slept great without my sister  that week, and I've been fine whenever I've needed to sleep alone in our room since.

This past week, I experienced for the first time being alone in a house for over 24 hours. My family went to a basketball tournament in VA and left me alone from Wednesday afternoon until Saturday afternoon. Wednesday night I was entirely alone, and while it was very strange, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I was able to practice the piano for almost 2 and 1/2 hours straight, with no interruptions, when usually the TV probably would have been on (my piano and the TV are, unfortunately, in the same room) and it was so nice!

My general productivity seemed a little higher than normal, too, besides practicing. I suppose conversations and other things involving my family take more time than I originally realized. I vacuumed a lot, and cleaned the bathroom, cleaned up my room, kept the kitchen practically spotless (an easy task when making meals for only person, and when only one person makes any messes) and taught all my lessons, and still had a little time to relax.

By Thursday night, I was already a little tired of being alone (except for my piano students who came during the day) so I was glad that my dear friend was going to come hang out with me. We ate yummy salads while we watched Penelope (a really cute movie with James McAvoy and Christina Ricci), finished up some leftover Mexican and then ate brownies while we watched an episode of Chuck. I've finished Chuck, but she hasn't, so it was fun to watch an episode with her and see her reactions to what I had already watched.

I blame a headache on Thursday for slowing me down. I didn't get as much done as I had intended on Thursday. Also, all that cleaning didn't hold as much delight as I had hoped. Apparently, cleaning for your own satisfaction isn't nearly as satisfying as cleaning for someone else. It was eventually worth it when my family got home, though, and my parents praised how nice everything looked.

Friday night I had plans to go contra dancing with another friend, and while we were out that way, we squeezed in a little shopping trip at a mall that we don't usually get to visit because it's a little far from our houses. We had fun, but it was really weird going contra dancing without my sister, who usually goes with me, and analyses the dance with me afterward. I got home around midnight, and called my family to hear about the late championship game that had just ended. It was a disappointing loss after a previously undefeated tournament, but 2nd place isn't too shabby!

I was hoping that it wouldn't be too frightening to be alone in the house, particularly at night, and I was very happy to discover it wasn't. I was perfectly fine, even the last night when I got home from contra dancing and started imagining signs of an intruder in the house. I walked around with my cat as a weapon (claws are very painful, you know) and didn't find anyone, so I was relieved, and slept fine. No spooky noises alarmed me, not even the branches tapping and scratching on my window one windy night.

My family left VA around 11am the next morning to come home, and I was so happy to have them all back. Peace and quiet can be nice sometimes, but after rattling around mostly by myself in our house for 3 days, I was starting to feel like this house is too big. It was a good little experiment, which gave me the conclusion that I'm not the kind of person who is likely to enjoy living alone. I need my space sometimes, but I love having my family around. I am very happy to be a stay-at-home daughter.


I think being able to practice with no one wanting to watch TV instead was the only real benefit to my family's absence, so now if I could just have somewhere else in the house to put my piano...

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Period Drama Fashion Week Tag!

This is the tag for "Period Drama Fashion week" over at For the Beauty of the Earth. Go check it out!

1. Tell us five random things about yourself.
I'm going to restrict these to period drama and fashion related, since I just did 11 random facts about me in my last post. ;)
~I think Pride and Prejudice (1995) is the best adaptation, and there will never be a chance of another adaptation topping it, unless that adaptation is even longer. Then it will have only a very small chance.
~I'm currently near the end of the (very long) process of sewing my own Regency gown. I only need to sew on buttons, hem it and attach the trim. I'm procrastinating because I hate hemming... (hey, maybe I should try to motivate myself to finish it for this fashion week!)
~I once curled my hair and did it up in a sort of Regency fashion. I would love to wear my hair like this every day if curling were easier...
I know, my gown is not even close to Regency style... it was the best option I had.

~Jane Austen is undoubtedly my favorite period author, I have read all six of her major novels at least twice each; for Pride and Prejudice my last count was nearing a dozen reads. Sense and Sensibility is my next favorite, with around nine reads, and Northanger Abbey has at least six. I just finished Emma today for my fourth time. Persuasion grew on me so that I read it for the third time last fall, but Mansfield Park is sadly my least favorite that has only been read twice, and I may never read it again...
~Even though my previous facts make it obvious that my favorite era is Regency, I do enjoy almost any period drama setting, even if only for the costumes. I was very mad about the end of Downton Abbey's third season, so I told myself I would watch it just for the costumes this season (and ended up enjoying most of the plots greatly, in spite of myself!)

2. What are some of your favorite dresses from period dramas? Pick three.
I guess I like ball gowns! Couldn't find very good pictures, though...

(2009) Emma's peach ball gown with cream underskirt.

(2008) Sense and Sensibility, Elinor's green striped gown, and her long-sleeve green gown are very similar, and I like both.

(1995) Pride and Prejudice, Lizzy's ivory ball gown.
3. How would you describe your own style?
Simple and classy.

4. List (up to) five of your favorite period drama wardrobes.
 I think I would take Elinor's from 2008 S&S, her style is simple, but elegant, and she wears colors that I like to wear. I also like most of Emma's gowns from the 2009.

5. What are some of your favorite fashion eras?
Obviously, my favorite is Regency, but I also very much like Victorian and Civil war fashion. Also, Downton Abbey has convinced me that I even like 1920's fashion.

6. What are five things that make you happy?
Bright, warm spring days, reading a good book, contra dancing, teaching piano lessons and the seaside.

7. Do you like to wear hats?
I would like to be the kind of person that wears hats... and I think some Regency style hats might suit me, but modern day hats tend not to look so great. I do wear some big, dramatic, floppy-brim sun-hats in the summer, though. Technically vintage style.

8. Do you have a favorite fictional character who has the same name as you?
Yes, Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. I actually started going by "Lizzie" after I read the book, but Austen spelled it "Lizzy" with a 'y.' I think 'ie' looks more balanced, but 'y' is more interesting... I'm still not sure if I made the right choice.

9. What is one of the ugliest dresses you've ever seen in a period drama?
Well, I don't tend to notice ugly dresses when they fit the character, or when the character isn't meant to be dressed nicely, so the ugliest dress I remember for a main character is one of Emma's dresses from the 2009. Most of her dresses are gorgeous, which is what makes this one stand out to me.
I like the color and trim very well, but I do NOT like the "jumper" effect with that shirt. The shirt is what really bothers me, it's stark white, has a boring and ugly collar and it looks like a modern man's dress shirt to me. I absolutely hate it. Also, this picture reminds me that I don't like Romola Garai's standard hairstyle for this movie... ugh.

10. What is the most-worn color in your wardrobe?
 Definitely green. Many shades of green.

11. What are your sentiments on the subject of tea?
I love tea! I drink tea every morning, I hardly ever drink coffee.  Coffee doesn't sit well with me.

12. Do historical inaccuracies bother you?
Immensely. I often wish I could remain ignorant simply to preserve my enjoyment of period movies. They so frequently contain flaws, and if I know of the flaws, it distracts me from merely being absorbed by the story.

13. What are some of your favorite eras of men's fashions?
Hehehe, men's fashions from Regency all the way to the 1920's are pretty nice. I like cravats, tail-coats and top hats a lot.

14. Have you ever read any books on historical fashion?
No, see number 12 about remaining ignorant of movie flaws... I'd rather just read Pride and Prejudice again.

15. If you could pick just three fictional characters to have over for tea, who would you invite?

Oh, hard question... even if I restrict it to fictional characters from Jane Austen stories, that's very hard... I would personally love to meet Lizzy Bennet, Elinor Dashwood and Catherine Morland. But if I wanted a comedic gathering, combining Mrs. Bennet, Miss Bates and Lady Bertram would probably be funny. Hmm. I wonder why Jane Austen makes her 'B' ladies the more annoying characters... Also, if I were very man-crazy, I would like to have my three favorite Austen men for tea: Mr. Tilney, Edward Farris and Mr. Knightley. Yes, you read that correctly, Mr. Darcy doesn't make my top list! For me, I think Mr. Tilney is the nicest, although I greatly esteem all of Austen's heros.
"Now I must give you one smirk, then we may be rational again." - Henry Tilney Northanger Abbey
 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Sunflower Blogger Award

I have been nominated for the Sunflower Blogger Award by Livia Rachelle at Rose Petals and Faerie Dust. Thanks, Livia! I've been sadly neglecting my poor blog, and this was the perfect motivation to get back to blogging.

Rules
1. Share 11 facts.
2. Answer nominator's questions.
3. Set your own questions.
4. Nominate 11 more bloggers.

1. I am obsessed with my Irish heritage. I'm mostly plain English, small part German, small part Scotch-Irish and I have an American Indian great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmother, but I'm a redhead, and my favorite part of my heritage is my fiery Irish blood.

2. My absolute favorite color is green (not surprising, I suppose, considering my first fact). I tend to gravitate to a lot of green clothes, but unfortunately, many different color greens, so they often clash. I'm trying to balance my colors.

3. Jane Austen is definitely my top favorite author, and I could happily read Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, Northanger Abbey and Emma in rotation if I were stranded on a desert island and wish for no other books but my Bible. 

4. Watching movie adaptations of Jane Austen's lovely stories is often very painful because I adore the books so much that despicable alterations ruin everything completely. As my review of Pride & Prejudice (2005) will attest.

5. I have had experience in gymnastics, lyrical, ballet and Broadway dance styles, performed in 8 theatre shows, swam on a competitive swim team for 5 years, played water polo, studied voice a little and studied piano since I was 8. At one time, I was participating in Broadway dance, theatre, voice, swim team, water polo and piano lessons all at the same time, with lessons, classes and practices for each at least one day every week (swimming was 3 days). I credit being homeschooled with my ability to experience all of those extra-curricular activities while not neglecting schoolwork. 

6. Health is one of my family's most passionate topics. I'm very interested in natural and holistic health care, and taking care of my body myself. I have not been to a doctor in over 20 years, so I haven't received any vaccinations or taken any drugs or antibiotics in that time.

7. I'm the eldest child of 5 (the last was a miscarriage, very sadly mourned) and being envious of all my friends with older brothers, I decided that it was probably better if the oldest child in a family is a boy. Still, for some reason God decided I should be the firstborn, so here I am, often bossy and annoying, but trying to be a good oldest sister.

8. I hate talking on the phone, and I finally realized that it's due to my introverted personality, and my intuitive side needing to see facial expressions and body language. I also am slow to come up with responses, which is more awkward over the telephone than in person when my face can help me communicate what I'm thinking before the words are ready.

9. I think binge-watching shows like Merlin and Chuck is really the best way to enjoy them, so after watching a few episodes of Atlantis I figured we should just wait a few years and then watch it all in one summer.

10. Food and flowers are probably my favorite subjects to photograph. I also love taking candid shots, but I feel a little weird about it, like I'm stalking the person. I'm really tempted to sneak shots of the adorable children of complete strangers... and I have occasionally actually done so.

11. I love to organize things, and I can be a little obsessive-compulsive about the way I clean. I always want to be efficient, quick and thorough, and if I fail, the perfectionist in me is unreasonably annoyed. 


~What are your favorite juvenile/Y.A. fiction favorites?
 Well, when I used to get books from the library a lot, my favorites from the Y.A. section were Nancy Drew mysteries, and the Christy Miller series by Robin Jones Gunn. I also own the entire Mandie series by Lois Gladys Leppard, a nice boxed set of the Anne of Green Gables collection, Left Behind "The Kids" series and every single book even slightly related to Laura Ingalls Wilder.

 ~Thoughts on cosmetics, conventional, natural, none?
 I wear natural cosmetics, but my face can't handle even the nicest natural foundation on a daily basis, so I almost never wear foundation.

~Would you homeschool your own children and how serious a decision is this for you? 
 Yes, I intend to homeschool my own children, and it's such a serious decision that it would probably be a deal-breaker for potential husband material if he didn't want to homeschool, at least when they're young. Maybe for high school I might consider sending my kids to school if there was a good option available.

~How do you feel about reading fad novels when they are popular such as Eragon, The Hunger Games, and The Book Thief? Do you discern serious differences in quality amongst them? Have you ever read and loved some before or after they were a fad? 
Okay, first, I have no objection to reading fad novels when they are popular, but I am wary about getting into them, simply because something that is popular isn't always likely to be to be something that I would approve or enjoy. 
In the case of your suggestions, I have read Eragon, and The Hunger Games series, and The Book Thief is sitting on my bookshelf waiting... in general, I think popular books are lacking in quality compared to classics (I am a Jane Austen fan, after all) but of your suggestions, I do think Eragon was quite a bit lacking. The Hunger Games I enjoyed immensely, but I still haven't figured out quite why. I'm thinking of doing a whole post on The Hunger Games series.
I don't know of any other books I may have read after the fad, in the case of the Harry Potter series and Twilight series, they didn't meet my parents' or my standard of approval, so no matter how much I might have enjoyed (or hated) them I will probably never know.

~If you could learn any language (fantasy, real and living, obscure, dead or dying) which would you learn?
 Well, I am obsessed with my Irish heritage, so if I could, I would learn Gaelic. The first verse of this song is in Gaelic:


Also, the beautiful scenery of Ireland has reminded me how desperately I long to go someday. I've decided that if I'm still single when I'm 30, I'm going to just go - by myself if I can't get anyone to go with me.

~If you could change your name to any name (again fantasy or real or obscure) what would it be?
I'm really quite happy with my own name, but with that disclaimer out of the way, Edana (fiery, zealous) and Shanessa (God is gracious) are probably my favorites. I have a whole list of Celtic names, just waiting for that someday when I might name my own children. And if I had to choose a new middle name, it would be Aine (joy). 


Now my own questions (I hope you don't mind my copying one of yours, Livia! I liked it so much, I simply must hear some more answers!)-

What name would you choose if you could or had to change your name?

What place in the world (time travel included) would you most like to visit? e. g. Paris in the 1920's, Egypt, 1500 B. C., etc.

How would you choose to spend a lovely, sunny spring day? 

What are three of your favorite books? Three favorite movies? Books that were made into movies?

Do you play an instrument? If so, which one? If not, is there an instrument you would like to learn?

What kind of pets/animals do have, if any? If none, would you like to have?


Now, I am going to nominate some other bloggers, but I'm not going to list them here. I will request that if they choose to participate, they come back with their link in the comments. 

This was fun! Thanks for nominating me, Livia!
 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

What an Adventure!

Last weekend, my family traveled to Florida so that my brothers could compete in a water polo competition with their team. We set out Friday morning, and arrived late Friday night. It was lots of fun, seeing some of downtown Orlando, enjoying the warmer weather (I got a little bit sunburned!) and watching them play water polo in an outdoor pool. 

The issues began with Daddy's wallet being lost/stolen the first night. We scoured the hotel room, and the path that he had taken from where we parked the car, but it wasn't to be found. We had to cancel his credit cards, and Mom and I did all the driving for the rest of the trip since he didn't have his license.

 Everything went good for a while from there. Our water polo team lost every game on Saturday, but they played really well in the last game on Sunday, so the tournament ended pretty well for us, considering. Then my family went up to St. Augustine, FL to do some sight-seeing while we were all the way down in Florida! My siblings and I had never been south of our state before. 

We had a lovely motel suite in St. Augustine, and spent Sunday night there. We enjoyed climbing the lighthouse (another first for me and my siblings) and walking around downtown, which was still lit up with Christmas lights Sunday afternoon and evening. Monday morning we toured the fort, Castillo de San Marcos and dipped our toes in the chilly Atlantic on a warm January day. We left around 12:30pm, with our GPS estimating an arrival time for home of 7:36pm.

We stopped for a late lunch around 2, which bumped our eta back to 8:39pm. Around 6:30, we started seeing the battery light come on the dash of our suburban, and the info read "Battery not charging." We pulled off the interstate around 6:30pm. Our battery died, and we discovered the alternator was out. We waited about an hour and a half for the AAA tow truck. While we waited, we prayed that God would get our car fixed so we could get home that night.

The tow truck arrived, and towed us to AutoZone, where a nice mechanic named Al happened to be already on the premises, and he worked quickly to get the alternator out so that we could match it to a replacement before the AutoZone closed at 9pm. He successfully replaced the alternator and the battery before the AutoZone closed, and we were very excited to get back on the road around 9pm! But when we tried to start the suburban, the key wouldn't even turn. It was a huge disappointment. What was wrong now?

Al, and the AutoZone workers David, Kenny and Diana all tried to help us figure out what was wrong for about an hour and a half. We were so tired, and past ready to get home. There was a snowstorm expected to hit sometime the next morning, and our situation was starting to look pretty bad. I couldn't think of what to pray but please, God, please, God, over and over silently. They tried all kinds of things, climbing under the car with limited tools, trying to rock it into gear, but eventually figured that the transmission was locked for some reason. They reluctantly gave up, and recommended we get a hotel room for the night and get it to a shop in the morning. David called his friend Rusty to tow the suburban somewhere safe for the night, and then he and Diana drove us to a motel.

I was so grateful and appreciative of all their effort, but it was very disheartening that they weren't successful. To go through all the trouble of replacing the battery and alternator, only to have the development of another problem just when we thought all was fixed and have to give up when it seemed like we were SO CLOSE to getting home like we had hoped and prayed was very discouraging.

We checked in to the motel around 11pm, talked over some plans for the morning and then tried to get to sleep around midnight. The general attitude of the room was pretty glum and resigned. We'd given up on getting home that night. I figured God hadn't seen fit to answer our prayer. We turned out the lights, and as I tried to get comfortable and go to sleep in spite of my incredibly stuffy nose (I was coming down with a cold), I wondered why. I could see why He let us go through the situation, it was a truly amazing experience, how kind and willing to help all our new friends had been. I knew that it might not be in His plan for us to get home soon, and I anticipated unhappily the possibility of being stuck there, hours from home, for the next few days during the snowstorm.

But God was not done yet. A few minutes after we turned out the light, Rusty called, and said that he had fixed the suburban! He took off a safety of some kind so that you can change gears even while you're driving down the road (which would be a very bad idea, of course), but fixed the car so that it would crank, and we could drive it. We were thrilled, and so thankful that Rusty was kind enough to try to fix our car for us in the middle of the night! Besides giving us one more instance of an extremely kind and generous person being Christ-like, God used the "last straw" of our situation to show us that we should never give up, even when the situation looks impossible.

Rusty brought our suburban to our motel, and we piled in at 1:12am. We finished the last leg of our trip, and were home by 3:30am. Praise God, it was a wonderful experience. Now that I can look back on it, I know I wouldn't wish to change one thing. It was beautiful, an awesome display of God's power, and a sweet lesson in learning to trust Him more.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness! - Lamentations 3:22-23