pet peeves

I have a lot of pet peeves.
People who park their shopping carts in the middle of the grocery store aisle. Loud cell phone talkers. Melodramatic moms. The non-word “irregardless.” The way the flat iron works on one half of my hair but not the other. Unnecessarily personal question-askers.
I could go on for days.
Whatever commandment involves being annoyed, that one’s my favorite to break.
But one of my biggest annoyances is people whose lives/jobs/anything ever turn out just right, even when they don’t work for it or play by the rules.
The person with no initiative who scores the killer job. The dud single who ends up getting married. The person who can’t write landing a book deal.
Oh, man.
I could start pulling out chunks of my ponytail if I thought about it for too long.
I was complaining about this to my a mom a while back (ok, it was actually last week after she handed me a plate of nachos so covered in cheese I could feel my arteries giving up on life), and after outlining a particular case of two people I was especially frustrated with, I whined the following words in exasperation: “It’s just so annoying that they get all this credit and everyone’s patting them on the back when they aren’t playing by any of the rules and are hurting people along the way!”
Then my mom looked at me.
Like moms do.
Then I said, “Ohhhh” and made busy snarfing down a pound of melted pepperjack.
Because, like parents who see their own worst qualities manifest in the behavior of their small children, I am my own complaint.
I am a sinner, the person who doesn’t deserve the blessings I have, who doesn’t play by the Lord’s rules and instead loves to break every single commandment just as often as I can, who hurts people with reckless abandon pretty much just by being in their general vicinity.
And yet I have a Lord who gives me grace upon grace, who has blessed me with a husband whose patience might just be bigger than Texas’ land mass, with a family who makes me laugh until I am bent double, with pastors who smack me upside the head with the Law and apply the medicine of the Gospel.
I have a Lord who fell to the ground in the garden and asked His Father to save Him from what He had to do for me.
A Lord who asked His Father to forgive me for putting Him on that cross.
A Lord who knows that I don’t play by the rules and yet credits Himself to me anyway.
A plate of nachos later and I had it figured out.
So, you can keep your melodramatic moms and all your “irregardlesses.”
Because it turns out . . . the joke’s on me.

I’ve got nothing to be peeved about.

Pumpkin Cheeseball

This year, my husband and I are hosting Thanksgiving for the first time. It's making us feel like real, live grown-ups for once! 

There must be something about panicking about cooking a turkey that makes a couple grow up quickly. 

Last year, we spent Thanksgiving at my sister's. We over-ate. We got stomachaches. We ate again. We put extra butter on the mashed potatoes just because we could. We wolfed down pie. We loosened our belts and wondered why we didn't wear our fat pants. 

And we started it off with a pumpkin cheeseball, because it's always good to eat while you're waiting to eat. We like to start our gluttony early. 

So if you're hosting Thanksgiving this year like a real grown-up, and if you're looking for a little something to hold your guests over while you frantically text your mom to see if the pumpkin pie is done or if you burned the stuffing, shove this their direction. 

I'll be doing the exact same thing. 

Pumpkin Cheeseball

16 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons diced onion
1/2 cup salsa
1 tsp. cumin
2 cups Doritos, crumbled
Top of a green bell pepper

Beat together cream cheese, cheese, onion, salsa and cumin until creamy. Scoop the mixture into plastic wrap and shape into a ball. Refrigerate 2+ hours. 
When ready to eat, roll ball in Doritos and place pepper stem on top. Serve with crackers or veggies. 

Make-It-Yourself Instant Oatmeal

Missouri can't make up its mind if it's July or October. One day it's 50 degrees. The next day it's 86. One night the air conditioning is running. The next the heat kicks on. 

One day we're breaking out the flannel. The next day we're pulling our short-sleeved shirts back out. Heck, we don't even know which end is up anymore. 

Here's what we do know: Regardless of the weather, it's a truth universally acknowledged that harvest will actually wrap up at some point, and before we know it, it'll be Thanksgiving. Or maybe Christmas. See? We don't even know anymore. 

But when the bean dust settles down and the combine is cleaned and put away, when the corn is stored and the dryer fans are shut off, it will be cold. And farmers will head outside regardless, layering up, pulling hats out of the closet, and filling thermoses with coffee to keep their insides warm while working outdoors. 

One way to help? Homemade oatmeal. 

It's genius really. I love brown sugar oatmeal, but let's be honest: There's not nearly enough brown sugar in it. As in, I want to see a tightly packed CUP of brown sugar sitting on top of my eight flecks of oatmeal. 

So if I make it, instead of buy it, I can keep my farmer warm AND I can get a sugar high before 7:30 a.m. Totally worth it. 

Cold this fall? Need a quick Christmas gift? DIY oatmeal. It may be 90 degrees tomorrow, but hey,  the good news is: It'll keep!

Make-It-Yourself Instant Oatmeal 

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 tsp. coarse sea salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350. Scatter the oats on a baking sheet and bake until lightly toasted, about 15 minutes. Let cool, then pulse in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Stir in sugar, salt and cinnamon; the dry mix will keep in an airtight container for several weeks. 

To serve, spoon 1/2 cup of the mix into boiling water. Top with your favorite mix-ins and enjoy! 

fall on the farm

Fall on the farm means picking the last of the garden tomatoes and bell peppers. 

It means the cows are seeing the light at the end of the hot summer tunnel, finally enjoying cooler temperatures. 

It means the chickens are back to laying eggs more than once every few days. 

It means the corn is harvested and the beans are up next. 

It means the dogs only spend half the day in the shade instead of the entire day. 

It means roasts are going in the crockpot and pumpkin from garden--pureed and frozen--is coming out of the freezer. 

It means the light is fading sooner. 

And it means that, as with most things, the changing of a season is upon us. 

And we certainly aren't complaining. 

mac and cheese, if you please

I have a little . . . problem . . . on my hands. My husband likes to eat fruits, vegetables and meat. He's a healthy eater. He also doesn't mind leftovers.

I, on the flip side, like to eat like a six-year-old. I like carbs, carbs, carbs and, oh yes, carbs. I could spend my days eating macaroni and cheese, tomato soup and grilled cheese, donuts, tacos, pasta . . .

Well, heck. Now I'm hungry.

And while we're on the subject, I didn't start calling leftovers "rotten over things" as a three-year-old for no good reason. I love eating leftovers cooked by other people, but I refuse to eat leftovers I've made myself. So even if that eggplant parmesan was actually quite delicious, it's a one-time only deal in my book.

This usually translates into me making my husband ham and lentil soup for supper while I eat a bowl of Rice Krispies. Because . . . six-year-old.

This isn't really a sustainable eating style. At some point, our family is going to sit down and eat one meal together: mom, pop and all the kiddos. This won't be like a Golden Corral buffet where everyone is eating something different. That just won't work.

So, help a girl out. I obviously need to expand my palette and get over my issue with leftovers. But how?

Please send help.

And donuts.

Here I Swap 2016

Next year, the Lutheran church celebrates the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation (like we needed a reason to celebrate), but it never hurts to start rejoicing a little early. 

Like, a whole year. 

Thus, Here I Swap 2016. 

It was such a treat to have 135+ ladies take part in this year's swap, including three ladies from Canada and one from Norway. 

And the packages they sent! Sweet goodness. They were filled to the brim with coffee, tea, hot chocolate, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, all the kinds of chocolate, monogrammed mugs, personalized mugs, hilarious mugs, handmade items, hymn verses and lots of joy in meeting another sister in Christ, no matter where she lives. 

So get ready for next year's swap. Bookmark the blog so you don't miss out on the announcement. Get your mug-dar on.

September 2017, we're coming for you . . . with our coffee mugs, our hymnals and our comfort, which is found in Jesus alone! 

PS If you took part in the swap and haven't received a package by Friday, September 30, shoot me an email, and I'll check in with the gal who had your name. 

Harvest Time

I looked out my window today, saw this and collapsed in a pile of tears. 

Not actually. 

But it did cross my mind. 

Harvest basically equals early onset winter. Winter equals snow and, worse still, darkness starting at about 3:30 in the afternoon and not letting up until about 10:00 a.m. the next day. 

I don't love winter. And harvest means winter is coming. So really, if I'm needed, look for me in a pile of fur coats, mourning the warmth of June sunshine. 

My husband graciously reminds me that winter here isn't like winter in Iowa, which starts in October and lets up in about June. But it doesn't matter. I don't like dark. And I don't like cold. So there. 

To help with my denial that snow boots and black ice are on the horizon, I'm keeping myself busy with baking pies, which I've never done, 

Canning corn relish with corn from our garden, which was one of the few plants that didn't end up overtaken by weeds, 

Trying new recipes and then forgetting where I found them so that when my farmer asks me to make them again, I get a look of panic and mild confusion,

And enjoying the sunsets, even if they are moving earlier and basically starting at 5:00 p.m. in the afternoon. 

So here's to you, Harvest, even if your arrival does mean that soon the cold northern winds will be whistling through the trees and howling outside while Jack Frost traces designs on the windows and the dogs grow thick wooly coats. 

It's a good thing you're beautiful. 

It's a darn.good.thing.

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