Saturday, October 27, 2007

My new car!!!

After lots of research into safety, handling, gas milage, etc., we settled on the Subaru Forester. Patrick has dubbed it 'Ru.' (yeah, we name our cars, what's it to ya?) It also happens that I used to live the next county over from the factory in IN during our time there and probably knew some of the people who built my car. I like that idea. I also like the idea that Subaru is very environmentally responsible with their factories. I like that it is super safe (5 star rating) for my little one, with all-time all-wheel drive and front and side-impact airbags. The gas mileage averages about 24 or 25 mpg between city and highway. Sure it could be better, but then I'd have to be driving a car that could not fit a kid, a husband, a dog and the groceries at the same time, which I do, in fact, need on some days. (Not to mention if there's ever a kid #2.)
I love it! I haven't had my own (working) car in a long time and feel pretty excited at the freedom I will have again. I can't say I'm going to miss my Grand Cherokee so much, though it was a good car as far as size and getting me where I wanted to go, and it was free. It was also just what I needed to recover my sense of safety on the road after our awful accident. I didn't figure there were too many other cars on the road that could aerial flip a big, red 4WD Jeep. But the gas mileage was terrible and it was old ('96) and we'd already replace the whole AC system and done some patch work on the trannie which finally gave out and needed to be replaced. So we just decided to hold out until I got a job and then buy something new. Now the American Cancer Society can deal with it however they like.
I will be interested to see how comfy it is for long trips when I drive it up to our new home in a few weeks. I'll let you know...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday Five (actually six): Apples and Pumpkins

From Singing Owl at RGBP: All Hallows Eve (Halloween) is near. As a child, Halloween was one of my favorite holidays. We didn’t yet worry about razor blades in apples or popcorn balls or some of the other concerns people have with Halloween these days. Halloween was a chance to be mildly scared, and better yet, to dress up and pretend to be something we really weren’t. Let’s talk about that a bit, but then let’s add in some food ideas for this year. Where I live the leaves are falling, the temperature is chilly and pumpkins are for sale everywhere, along with many kids of apples. What's more, the "Holiday Season" will soon be upon us. ACK! I could use a new idea for dessert. So, here we go…

1. How did you celebrate this time of year when you were a child?
We did dress up and trick-or-treat. I do remember one year having a sleep over party just for the fun on it and we made a spider web cake and had a spider web where you attach string to a prize and then wind it all over the room around the furniture, etc. and there's a pencil at the other end to wind the string around as the kids follow it around to their prize. This is great when there are about 10-12 kids at the party!

2. Do you and/or your family “celebrate” Halloween? Why or why not? And if you do, has it changed from what you used to do?
Well, we'll take L trick-or-treating, maybe go to the church's vespers/organ recital/dress up party this year. I put up the one string of bat lights I have. That's about what we did when I was a kid. We just didn't make a big deal. Oh, we did (and do) carve pumpkins. This seems like it was more for the sake of having some family time though, than really celebrating the holiday.

3. Candy apples: Do you prefer red cinnamon or caramel covered? Or something else?
Absolutly caramel! (I love caramel anything.) I admit, I even eat those caramel apple suckers, but I lick off the caramel and toss the nasty green apple part. Even better, dip the caramel apple in chocolate.

4. Pumpkins: Do you make Jack O’ Lanterns? Any ideas of what else to do with them?
We do like to carve pumpkins at our house-love those stencil kits! I'm with reverendmother that we love to roast the seeds. What else to do with them? Compost them, of course! (We've also been known to ignore them long enough that they cave in on themselves and look like little old people with no dentures in.)

5. Do you decorate your home for fall or Halloween? If so, what do you do? Bonus points for pictures.
We stick to the fall stuff mostly. As above, we'll put up our bat lights, but I'm not one to decorate for a one day holiday. At least at Thanksgiving you can get the whole weekend out of, but since you can also use most of the fall decor for it too, it lasts most of the season.
I really wish I had some pictures of the decorations of some of the neighbors in the area. They really get into halloween. It's a little disturbing really. Maybe I'll try to get some photos this weekend and post them later.

6. Do you like pretending to be something different? Does a costume bring our an alternate personality?
Costumes are fun, but I'm not really into the alternate personality. I do like to find something I can use a cheesy accent with though.

Bonus: Share your favorite recipe for an autumn food, particularly apple or pumpkin ones.
This in one of our favorites, it's a little more involved than the one in the link at the bottom, but the spices and caramelization are sooooo good!
Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds (from MSLiving-with my own commentary)
1 medium pumpkin
5 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of cayenne pepper, to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil (I usually use canola or even olive oil-though recently I'm into grapeseed oil)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or spray with cooking spray). Cut pumpkin open from the bottom (we do this from the top since we roast the seeds from the pumpkin we're carving for a jack-o-lantern), removing seeds. Separate flesh from seeds (I rinse them in a colander to get all the slime off). Pumpkin should yield about 1 cup seeds (it doesn't matter except you might need a little more spices if you have much more than that). Spread seeds on parchment in an even layer. Bake until dry (the dry part is important), stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Let cool. (We do this while we're carving the pumkin so the wait doesn't seem so long.)
In a medium bowl combine 3 tablespoons sugar, salt, cumin, cinnamon, ginger, and cayenne. Heat peanut oil (or whatever you have) in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add pumpkin seeds and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Cook until sugar melts and pumpkin seeds begin to caramelize, about 45 to 60 seconds. Transfer to bowl with spices, and stir well to coat. Let cool. These may be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

This is a much simpler, but equally tasty recipe if you want to try it. Pumpkin Seeds with Cinnamon and Salt.

Here are a couple other ideas.
Pumpkin pudding (yeah, it's even WW friendly)
Make a box of sugar-free, fat-free Jell-O pudding (I love the vanilla or cheesecake flavors) according to the box. Add half a can of real pumpkin (not pie filling), add cinnamon, cloves, allspice, according to taste, add half a container of cool-whip lite. Way good in a parfait with gingerbread.

I also make a great pumpkin-cream cheese pie. It's a great twist on the classic. Don't have the recipe on hand, but if anyone's interested, I can always post it later.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

It is finished...

Yesterday before lunchtime, I was examined and approved by Coastal Presbytery to be ordained and installed at Church Much Nearer to My In-Laws. Several people from the PNC and a couple of others were there to cheer me on. It was nerve wracking and the two young men also being examined were much more graceful under pressure than I was, I'm afraid, but in the end it all came to the desired conclusion.
I'm very excited about this church, and they seem equally excited to have me. Their last couple of pastors were old men ready to retire, who just wanted a way to coast into their retirement and not have to do a lot of care for the people, so they'd just get into the pulpit on Sundays, show up for session and that was about it. They seem really ready for something new and fresh, and I guess that's me. I'm really looking forward to meeting the rest of the people, b/c if they're even half as lovely as the people on the PNC, I'll be in good shape.
I owe a debt of gratitude to the supply pastor who has been there the last few months, as she is the first woman that church has ever had in their pulpit (there are not a whole lot of women in this presbytery, small though it is). She blazed the trail for me and I am very grateful.
The members of CP were also lovely and I received many, many welcomes and well-wishes.
No more hoops!!!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

That time of year.

I love fall, pretty much everything about it. The chill in the air, the smells, the bright, clear skies, the colors. Of course, it's also the worst time of year for my allergies. I guess you can't win 'em all. But for some reason, the moment there's a chill in the air, I get the urge to bake, specifically, cookies. I'm sure it stems from the tradition of making Christmas cookies in our family, but we never did that until December. But for me, once it's chilly in the evenings and it starts to get dark earlier, I just want to bake cookies. The spicy smell, the warmth from the oven, it's so comforting (also, unfortunately, fattening.) My favorites though, I do save for Christmas time. The honey cakes (lebkuchen for you German speakers), anise cakes (a.k.a., cement blocks or springerle) Kris Kringles, peppermint balls, bourbon balls, cinnamon almond bars, and I'm sure there are more I'm forgetting, but I'm already drooling thinking about them all. Oddly, we almost never decorated sugar cookies at our house when I was a kid. I do remember a few time, usually for a class party or something at school, but that was unusual.
The honey cakes are the ones I have the best memories of. You have to start them two weeks ahead of time to make the dough and then let them rise, very, very slowly, since there is no yeast, in a cool place for those two weeks. My mother even has a special honey cake pot that I don't think get used for anything else during the year. In fact, she just got me my own honey cake pot, though I will probably use it for soups and such also. Then, when they bake, the spices and honey getting all warm in the oven, oooohhh yeah!
Apparently, though, they are an aquired taste. When my husband said, "yeah, they're ok," the first time I made them, I about fell over in shock. "What? You mean they're not the best cookie ever?!" Well, ok, maybe you have to have the Swiss German genes that come from my family.
What are your favorite cookies? Make a few and save me some. Happy baking!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

One week...

until I go before presbytery for my final examination. I've chosen to be examined by the presbytery into which I am going, as opposed to the one from whence I came. Old presbytery, the one I'm supposed to be "under care" of, didn't do a lot of caring for me. New presbytery is seeming a lot more supportive already. I'm hoping it will be pretty smooth. Like I said before, there are 3 of us and we all have to preach and answer the standard questions. I hope that folks will trust the examinations committee and let us just go with that.
I've got my sermon ready. It's on Moses' call, burning bushes and all. I hope it will preach.
Otherwise, we're trying to get things organized, cleaned up, painted, etc., to get ready for our move. We're renting, but we agreed to paint the ceilings and stain the deck in lieu of a security deposit. We're also trying to tame the garden beds which were full of out-of-control rosemary hedges and wild blackberry thorns and even some poison ivy when we got here. I like to garden, but it's hard to get something under control when it was so crazy to begin with. I don't think they'd cared for the garden much in the several months the house was vacant before we moved in.
P is on a rampage to get rid of all of our 'junk' before we move. Of course, to him, that means all of my stuff that he doesn't understand why I keep (like, gasp, my yarn stash!) This, coming from the guy who has a box under the bed full of stuff from high school and college (like plastic cups and a faux lei from some frat party he really enjoyed putting together) that he hasn't even looked at more than once since we got married-and that was just to open the box to see what was in it and then shoving it back under the bed. I think I may make him a deal that he gets rid of the stuff he hasn't looked at in over a couple of years, and I'll donate to our church knit/crochet group any yarn I don't have a specific project in mind for. Knitters, doesn't this sound like a fair deal?
On that note, I'm almost done with a pair of socks for my sister. See side bar.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Friday Five: The B-I-B-L-E

Posted at RevGalBlogPals by Mother Laura who says:
I have been working on an expansive language version of the Psalms and the Liturgy of the Hours/Divine Office/Breviary. (For you non-liturgical gals and pals, that's a set of prayers for morning, noon, evening, etc., mostly consisting of Psalms and other biblical texts). So I have been thinking a lot about the Bible recently, and how we encounter it as God's Word--or don't--in our lives, prayer, and ministry. (Great minds think somewhat alike this week, as yesterday's Ask The Matriarch post dealt with ways to help as many people in a community as possible engage with a scriptural text in preparation for Sunday worship). So, in that spirit, I offer my first Friday Five. I'm looking forward to hearing everyone's experience and reflection on these B-I-B-L-E questions:

1. What is your earliest memory of encountering a biblical text?
My memory isn't always the best, but for some reason Noah's ark keeps coming into my head. I know I was a total animal lover as a kid, so this would really have appealed.

2. What is your favorite biblical translation, and why? (You might have a few for different purposes).
I like the NRSV for it's dedication to accuracy and even trying to use more inclusive language. I also like the New Jerusalem, it tends to have a more lyrical/poetic quality in some places. It gives a different perspective without being too archaic.

3. What is your favorite book of the Bible? Your favorite verse/passage?
Now see, my CPM tried to ask me this too. They seem to think I ought to have a favorite, or if not, I must not read the Bible enough. (issues here?!) Well, I'm here to declare it! I don't have a favorite anything., not book, not chapter, not verse. I love different books and verses at different times, for different reasons. It depends on what I'm dealing with, what mood I'm in, what the situation calls for. That being said, I do like Paul's writings and Isaiah.

4. Which book of the Bible do you consider, in Luther's famous words about James, to be "an epistle of straw?" Which verse(s) make you want to scream?
I'm not a big fan of Timothy and a few of the other not-really-written-by-Paul letters, the patriarchal language is infuriating to me.

5. Inclusive language in biblical translation and liturgical proclamation: for, against, or neutral?
Absolutely for. Somehow we've forgotten (intentionally?) that we're all, male and female, Jew and Gentile, slave and free, made in the image of God. I don't think, though, that it should swing so heavily back the other direction that God becomes almost exclusively female.

Bonus: Back to the Psalms--which one best speaks the prayer of your heart?
I really like Psalm 121. It's a good reminder that God indeed will care for us and keep us safe.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Four Things

I haven't done the "four things" yet, and I'm such a dork that no one has tagged me and I still want to do it.
So here 'tis.

Four Jobs I've Held:
camp counselor
understudy librarian (work study)
childcare provider
church office admin

Four Films I Could Watch Over and Over:
Mary Poppins

Four TV Shows I Watch:
Battlestar Gallactica
Myth Busters

Four Places I've Lived:
teeny tiny 2 room seminary married student housing (2000-2003)
wonderful apartment (2003-2004)
really crappy apartment (2004, 2005)
rental house (2005-present)

Four Favorite Foods:
mayan choc. ice cream
portobello ravioli
crab cakes
grilled pizza with fresh mozzarella, fresh tomato, olive oil and fresh basil

Four Websites I Visit Daily (or at least 5 times a week):
Paperback swap (ok, almost daily)
Knitty (again, almost daily)

Four Favorite Colors:
sapphire blue
L's honey/caramel blonde
cranberry red

Four Places I Would Love to be Right Now:
Lake house in Canada
beach house on Corolla
mountin cabin w/ P
moved into our new house (even though we haven't picked it out yet)

Four Names You Love, But Could/Would Not Use for Your Children:
Elizabeth (name of psycho, and I mean really psycho, ex-gf of hubby many years ago)
Molly (sounds silly/cutsie with our last name)
Lucy (same as above)
hubby's name, jr. (I just don't like that idea for some reason)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Thanks be to God!

The congregational vote at the Church-Much-Nearer-to-the-Inlaws was today. You could have knocked me over with a feather when they told me the vote to call me was unanimous. I think that speaks most highly of the enthusiasm of the PNC and of the introduction by the chair, a man I have quickly come to value as a friend and colleage. I'm sure it does help some that CMNI has been searching for a pastor for nearly two years now, but by intervention of the Spirit, they managed to hold out for me.
I was flattered to hear, too, that I was the first candidate that the PNC had voted unanimously to extend a call to. (yes, there had been at least 2 or 3 others before me... like I said, intervention of the Spirit.)
That's two of the three hurdles now. Just the presbytery meeting now. This is the one that has me sweating, only for the fact that there's always that wildcard that could be sitting on the floor waiting to pounce on a young female candidate with a killer question. Kinda just to get their jollies, ya know.
Well, not to borrow trouble, I guess.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Another Hurdle Jumped

I meant to get to this earlier, but it's been busy around here since we're gearing up for a move and new jobs, etc.
I did have a good meeting with the COM sub-committee. They were gracious and asked good and tough questions, though not in a malicious sort of way. They asked the "usual" questions that all PCUSA candidates can probably expect these days, but they were done in a gracious, even almost off-hand, "you know we gotta ask" sort of way. The committee chair even made a point of telling me that he thought I handled myself well.
So, now I just have to make it through the presbytery meeting at the end of this month. I have to give a sermon (using an old one, so I've already got it covered) and 'the Four Questions.' Which I hear I'm supposed to get in advance so I can have some time to mull them over. That's good. I'm not so good at thinking on my feet. I get all flustered and babble and repeat myself a lot. Makes me look pretty flaky, which, really, I'm not... usually.
Now the biggest thing in front of us is getting pre-approved for a mortgage. We're first-time buyers! Yikes. The PNC has already given us the name of a realtor they trust to help us out, so that's something we don't have to worry about. We're pretty excited. It's such a great area and has lots of opportunities for all of us. P was the one I worried aboutmost, but he seems to be the most excited. Though, I think that's partly the army brat in him; he gets restless in one place too long.
I'm hoping my start date will be the first Sunday in Advent. New church year, new job, new town, it's all rather symbolic. We'll be in town long enough before that that I can get settled, find child care for L, get a few things unpacked, and be in the office for a week before I start preaching.
It seems crazy that so much change will happen before the end of the year.