Sunday, July 3, 2011

Journey Down a Spiritual Path

I am so ashamed!  I started this blog about taking "small steps daily" to reflect on what was important to me and all the big goals I want to accomplish.  It is truly overwhelming, so "small steps" in each area really is pretty much all I can do.  My first post on this blog was earlier this week and I listed what I thought were my big areas of concern in my life such as my family and career.  Heck, I even listed my house!

What I forgot to mention, however, was my spirituality.  How could I overlook it!  Spirituality is definitely an area of improvement for me.  Although I grew up going to church weekly, I never felt I connected with the Southern Baptist beliefs.  As a result, I grew away from the church and felt like I was "losing my religion."  <-- nod to REM. :)

After my undergraduate days were over and I got married, my husband and I continued going to the church where I grew up although we both knew it wasn't helping us grow spiritually.  We tried a Presbyterian church for a few months but that particular tight-knit congregation didn't seem to welcome newcomers even though we were involved from the start.  For example, I took off a day from work to help lay sod when they opened up a new building on the campus.  My husband joined their men's softball team only to be ignored and barely see any playing time although he had played softball/baseball all his life growing up as a kid.

Eventually, we discovered a wonderful, quaint Episcopal church that we really liked a few years later.  We were very active in that church and loved the diverse congregation.  I helped tend a section of their flower garden, worked with the youth group and was also a drama teacher for them, and acted in some of the adult productions.  I was the famous Shepherd #5 in the Christmas Pageant once!  LOL  Our quest for a good church home had ended.  Or so we thought.  Alas, all good things must come to an end, and so it did with this church.  A falling out occurred between the rector (who we really really liked) and a very good friend of ours who was probably the most active member of the church.  This happened so long ago that I don't remember all the details, but it involved such conflict of ideology that we left the church.

We felt like the Episcopal church was definitely the denomination of our choice, so we started attending another one on and off.  It was nice but after having our daughter, we just kinda stopped attending.  Then came our little boy and . . . you get the picture.

Now that our children have gotten older, we really felt the need to bring church life back into our family.    My brother suggested an Episcopal church in Atlanta.  We went and LOVED it!  It's quite a haul for us each Sunday since we live OTP (outside the perimeter -- I-285), but the 30-mile trek via a congested interstate (albeit not on Sunday morning) is so worth it!  The music program is amazing there, and our children are both involved in their respective children's choirs.  Additionally, my daughter is in the junior handbell choir.  They LOVE it and do not mind making the trip up there in rush hour traffic each Wednesday afternoon -- and neither do I!   :)

The inside of our church.

My daughter during a hand bell performance.

So . . . I feel my really long spiritual drought is over as we have found our perfect church home.  The congregation is warm and friendly, the rectors are wonderful and caring.  In fact, the head rector called me when he received word that my grandmother passed away -- and we're relatively new there.  It's a HUGE congregation, but I definitely feel I am not just a number there.  We love this church and are home at last.

Oh, and I edited my first post by adding "My Spirituality" to my listing of areas I am focusing on in my life!  It's about time!  :-)

This blog post is totally about me and my feelings and no one else.  
It is not meant to guide anyone toward any one particular religious denomination 
or criticize any one particular denomination.  
It is strictly an overview of my particular spiritual journey.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

THE Chocolate Trifle

So, sometimes taking small steps in doing everything is to make a dish that looks like it took hours to make when in reality it took very little effort on your part.  Enter THE Chocolate Trifle below:

I should so be getting paid for product placement!  LOL

Every time I make this deliciously decadent dessert, it is nothing short of a crowd pleaser.  I guess it may have something to do with the Kahlua!  :)  BTW, this dessert came from a Southern Living recipe about 18 years ago.

  • 1 package of chocolate brownie mix (the more chocolate flavor, the better)
  • 1 big tub of Cool Whip
  • 2 packages of instant chcolate pudding mix
  • 1 bag of crushed Heath bars (in the baking section)  
  • 1/2 cup of coffee-flavored liqueur (I have used both Tia Maria and Kahlua)

Make the brownies according to package directions.  While they are baking, you can go ahead and make the pudding according to package directions and thaw out the Cool Whip.  The pudding can chill in the refrigerator.  As soon as the brownies come out of the oven (DO NOT OVERCOOK), poke several holes in the brownies with a fork or toothpick and drizzle (I love that word) liqueur into the holes.  Let cool completely and mush (this is kinda yucky).  Now you're ready for layering the trifle:  brownies, pudding, Cool Whip, and toffee pieces.  The trifle should be big enough for you to compete two full rounds of the layering. Enjoy!

1.  I have a heavy hand with the liqueur.  Believe me when I say that the 1/2 cup is just a suggestion. :) 
2.  I use store brand versions of the Cool Whip and pudding.
3.  This is a very forgiving recipe.
4.  I also have made smaller versions that fit into a small dish if the trifle was too big for the occasion.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Cool Nightstand Project

Yea!  I can't believe I'm back on my blog.  It's the second day and I haven't stopped yet.  Yippee!

Anyway, I thought I'd share something easy for this blog.  One of the things I like to do is decorate inexpensively.  I went to a model home in a fancy neighborhood one time where the houses started at $500,000.  The cool thing about this particular model home was that it was furnished and decorated solely by Walmart.  Yes, that's right.  Now they did have a professional decorator, but she and her design team HAD to use Walmart furniture and products.

They were so creative in how they took something intended for one use and did something totally different with it.  For instance, they took a $5.00 full-length mirror and placed it on the countertop in the kitchen where two bar stools were.  One top of that they had two chargers and place settings laid out.  Really, really neat!

So, I decided to do a project for my daughter Katie based on something I saw at this model home.  It's how to make a cool bedside table for a girl's room.  Since I didn't know I'd eventually be putting this project on my very own blog, I didn't take nearly enough pictures to show the entire process.  However, I think you'll get the idea anyway on this one.  It's really easy.

First, go to Walmart or Target or wherever and buy one of those small, round, particle board tables for about $10.00.  Next shop around and buy ribbon that will match the decor in the room.  I ended up getting the ribbon for this table at Hobby Lobby.  A tip for you is to take something that represents the color scheme in the room and use that as a guide.  I took my daughter's pillow sham since her bed is the focal point in the room.  The ribbons were the only thing that cost some money due to needing a certain amount of it and having to buy some ribbons that were not on sale just so it would match the decor.  Finally, you will need anywhere from a 1/2 yard to a full yard of fabric to top it off after you've stapled the ribbons on the table.  I chose a fun, funky, furry white fabric.

Also, you will have to know how much ribbon you'll need.  This is where your math skills will come in handy.  You'll need to measure the circumference of the table and the width of the ribbons (buy wide ribbons for the best look).  The other thing to keep in mind is the length of each ribbon.  You need to make sure you have enough overhang so the ribbons pool slightly at the bottom.  Don't forget to leave enough at the top for stapling!  Anyway, once you do the math, the rest is easy!

Here are the pictures -- enjoy!

You can see the box for the particle board table by the door in her room.
Katie is using a staple gun (with me supervising, of course) to staple the ribbons onto the table.

Screw in the legs of the particle board table.  I'm telling you, this is too easy!!!

Put it in position where you'd like it and arrange a small cloth on top to hide 
where the ribbons have been stapled onto the board.  
I wish I had taken a close up of the white fabric on top of the table.  It's so cool and furry!

Voila, here is the finished product!  

Speaking of Walmart products, we bought Katie's comforter set there in case you like it and wanted to know where we got it.  My entire house is one big work-in-progress.  I still don't have what I'd like to have on her table, but for now she does have a lamp -- it's just not on the table in the  picture here.

Feel free to comment, ask questions, or even give your own tips!


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Why Small Steps Daily?

Well, I figure if I sort my thoughts out in this blog format, it would help me . . . and maybe anyone else who reads them, too.  I am like anyone else.  I have a family, a career, a household, and a myriad of interests (see my bio) to keep me occupied.  I do too much and don't know how to have down time.  Take tonight, for instance.  My husband has taken our kids to visit with his dad for two nights.  What am I doing?  I wasted half my time halfway doing chores like washing the sheets, staying away from a deliciously decadent dessert I made last night for a block party, and floating back and forth between Facebook and Twitter.  Oh, and I took a nap.  I mean, really.  I couldn't think of anything better to do!

Anyway, I do have some major areas of my life that need attending:

  • My Personal Finances:  My husband and I are strong believers in being debt free.
  • My health:  I do my best to eat well.  Also, I hit 40 a few years back and am determined to look like I'm in my 30's (or younger).  :)
  • My family:  I mean both my kids and my aging parents.  Talk about two ends of the spectrum!
  • My house:  I am constantly trying to decorate, to maintain, and beautify this place I call home.
  • My hobbies:  I love to read, craft . . . well, just look at my bio.  :)
  • My career:  I am a 21-year veteran in my field and have started grad school recently.
  • My spirituality:  I am always on a pathway . . . 
So, anyhoo, these are the topics you may very well find on this blog!  It may sound like a lot, but then again, it's about taking small steps daily!