Wednesday, January 23, 2008

One thing leads to another

I've been busy lately trying to get our finances back in order, so I haven't been blogging much in the evenings (also why my husband's blogging has been somewhat curtailed). But I thought that my latest endeavor was worth a posting. We were recently blessed with hand-me-down furniture.

About half of the furniture in our house falls into that category, so this isn't a new phenomenon for us. However the furniture itself is new to us and requires some rearranging to fit in. We were given a dining table with chairs and a hutch to match. Our dining room has never looked so nice. Our china and pretty things now occupy the hutch and can be seen. They have rarely seen the light of day since our wedding seven and a half years ago. Our former dining room table was a utilitarian table and set of six metal folding chairs that we were given. It was practical but not very pretty. I'm very into practical things. We folded up the table and it is now in the garage waiting for its next job. The folding chairs are supplementing our new chairs and also awaiting new orders.

It's a funny thing about new furniture. Once you start moving and rearranging things, you start to realize that your old furniture doesn't have to be in that place it has been for the last several years and you start to think about the what-ifs in your house. What if we moved that bookcase here? What if we moved that table there? You see how the thinking goes.

So, the new hutch is now housing items that used to be in an old drawer set that would be better situated in a bedroom. The girls' room is too full for new furniture, but the baby's room might be able to use it. But to put the drawer set in the baby's room requires moving out my old desk that is currently being used as a changing table.

You know, I've been wishing for a desk again. I don't like sharing Tim's desk and eventually hope to get a computer of my own. But the best place for the desk is now occupied by filing cabinets. Well.... one of the filing cabinets can fit under the desk, it was like that originally. But the other one needs a new home. It matches the wood of our big bookcases in the living room. But, to place it properly, so it doesn't stick out oddly into the room, it would need to go between the computer desk and the bookcases. That means that we would need to move the bookcases over about ten to twelve inches.

And since we are changing things in the baby's room (and are hoping someday that he will have to share that room with a sibling) we could unclutter that room some by moving out a bookcase and decorative table that belonged to my grandmother. Where to put them... hmm... There's the Master bedroom. I can find a place for the bookcase, but to move the table in there is trickier. There are two choices for it. It can either stand at the foot of our bed with no purpose at all except to look pretty (it's not terribly stable on its own), or it can be placed in the corner where it can be propped in place by two other pieces of furniture and be a nice display location for my antique clock that currently sitting on the floor in front of the fireplace (behind the child-proof fence of course) where it has been gathering dust in an undignified manner for the last four years. I like the option where I get to move the clock off the floor, but that means we have another small drawer set to move to an as-yet-undecided location.

As soon as I started talking about moving furniture around, my husband knew he was in for trouble. All of this requires some serious work. Who really wants to unload two large bookcases just to move them along a wall ten inches? But the more I thought about where things could go I realized that they should have been in those places all along and I didn't realize it.

So far this is all that has been moved: the new dining room furniture has been put in place, the set of drawers that had been in the dining room is now waiting in the entryway for its turn to move, the kitchen cabinets have been cleared of many things (opening up new space), and a bookcase and rickety table are now in the master bedroom. But considering that I did a fair amount of those last few items on my own while watching three kids, things are going well. Tim jokes that I'm going to have to stay within the laws of physics in my planning. Hey... at least I'm not suggesting moving any walls. That's what my Mom is famous for in my family.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Mulling things over

Between a hectic hard holiday season and many, many thought provoking things I am mulling over starting a series of blog posts about life and the way we live it. I just read through a booklet my Dad wrote about his memories both growing up and his life all the way to the present. I would like to ruminate about what ideas this has brought to me, but I think those thoughts need to simmer a little before serving. I just wanted people to know something meatier will be coming soon. I also wanted to encourage those who haven't given it thought to write down your memories of your younger life before the chance passes you by. I think what prompted my parents to do it was the presence of grandchildren who had no clue what life was like growing up on a farm in the 1930's and 1940's in the rural South. In the process, I've gotten to know what shaped and molded my parents a lot better (I thought that I knew all the family stories, but I didn't). It is good to look back on things from my lifetime and see them from my parent's perspective. Sometimes you need new eyes to see a memory fresh. Reliving the memories my Dad wrote down has stirred deep thoughts and ideas in my mind and heart that I think are relevant to everyone. I would like to share these ideas (and if I get his permission some of his stories) with you once I settle them in my own mind a little. Till then, just know that I am busy with getting life back together after our crazy holidays, and I'm busy thinking.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Christmas was crazy...but the candy!

Our Christmas season is always busy and crowded with activity and sickness, but this year it surpassed itself. We were out of town for nearly half of December, my husband was music director for our church's Christmas music program, He and I missed church a lot because of sickness (both ours and children's), I got in a minor car accident that still put the family van out of condition, and my husband's grandmother (the family matriarch) died on New Year's day. We just got back yesterday from the memorial service. I really crave a calm, even boring, life right now.

I do want to share something good that happened this year. I learned that candy making can be easy. I always had the impression that making candy was a refined art that only meticulous perfectionists who like cooking, chemistry and special equipment can do (that would be my husband). The family Toffee recipe falls into that category. My husband usually makes several batches at Christmas for the rest of the family. That didn't happen this year. But instead, I discovered the wonders of meltables. The candy I made included:

  • Milk chocolate truffles with walnuts
  • Dark chocolate covered maple candy
  • Dark chocolate covered pineapple
  • Pretzels dipped in white chocolate with sugar sprinkles
  • Chocolate candy done in molds
  • Mint candy done in molds
  • White chocolate done in molds
  • Chocolate covered pecans
My conclusions are as follows:

  1. Chocolate is actually easy to work with. (at least the meltables which aren't officially chocolate since they don't contain cocoa butter but just the cocoa solids)
  2. Molds are very easy to work with if they are shallow, flexible, and clean. The deeper they are the less likely you are to get a nice looking candy since you have to beat it up a bit to get the candy out. This would be a great use for the silicone bakeware stuff.
  3. You can candy coat anything with meltable candy.
  4. Maple candy does require a candy thermometer and experience to know when to pour it out, but otherwise it is super easy. It's just boiling syrup.
The drawback to this information is that I can now make homemade candy any time I want to. Now I just have to work on my self control.