Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I've been thinking . . .

“Flo was a confirmed atheist . . .” That is the beginning of a sentence in the book I read over the weekend, “Jane Austen in Boca”. It also was the beginning of a string of thoughts that led me down a path of observations.
I’ve never heard anyone say I don’t believe in wealth, health, fame or family. I don’t believe in my profession, my social position, my house and home. When someone says that they are an atheist we assume that they are saying they do not believe in the one true living God and are not talking about Buddha or Muhammad or even Ramtha.

When I chose to serve the gods of this world, I found it to be a one way street. I worked hard to please that god. I worked hard to attain that god. Having that god gave pleasure but only temporarily and then I needed to work hard again to attain more of that god’s pleasures.

It was easy to look around and see how much of these gods I had. I could measure myself against others with the amount that they have. These gods were tangible, measureable and easily lost so I needed to manage them carefully to maintain them in my life.

My spiritual enemy did not care if I believed in him, in fact, he encourages us to minimize his power and to create funny caricatures of him.

Read C.S. Lewis book “The Screwtape Letters” for excellent examples of how he operates.
To see the one true living God and for Him to be as real as my gods I needed to be quiet and listen to my troubled heart. I needed to shut off the busyness of my lives and the world around me which was not easy but well worth the effort. Once I found Him I could see Him everywhere in my life. He was never hiding; I had been too busy and too self-centered to see Him.

Unlike all of the other gods in the world available for me to pursue the living God’s pleasure, peace and joy are renewed in me daily or even hourly just for the asking of Him.
Being willing to acknowledge the one true God for who He is comes with consequences and is scary because I knew that it will require a change of heart and even lifestyle. I was afraid that these changes might mean that I’d end up ministering in an African village without running water, indoor plumbing. But the truth is He wants me just as I was, warts and all.

So when Flo states that she was a confirmed atheist I know one of two things. Either she has examined the truth and rejected it or that she is unable to conquer her fear of the possibility that there is another way to live.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Weekend reading

Thanks to my friend, Melissa, at Sunbonnet Cottage, and my local library, I had something fun to read this weekend.

If you enjoy the intricacies of the social dance between a group of single women and a smaller pool of eligible men as described so well in Jane Austen’s novels, this will be a fun read for you, too.

The setting is a Jewish retirement community in Florida. The women, although they would deny it, are consumed with who lives where, how much money they have and how that money was made. They think of themselves to be above the common resident because of their superior intellectually which only they can appreciate.

Author Paula Marantz Cohen follows the successful character development and story line of “Pride and Prejudice” adapting it to this familiar setting of today. She includes a mystery, a social misfit in the form of a misunderstood man, a marriage of convenience and a perfect Jane Austen ending. The writing in witty and insightful as well as entertaining.

Friday, September 26, 2008

It is finished

Another milestone in life. Today is the last day of work for me. I am no longer gainfully employed. I am now retired and living on a fixed income!

That’s scary – a new adventure in life. How do I feel? Snoopy says it best.

Now work on Quirky Cottage can begin with earnest. Ernest? Calling Ernest. Will Ernest please show up and give me a hand with all of this work?


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Easy as pie . . .

The Cottage Master brought home this delicious blackberry cobbler made by Mrs. Smith.

When it came time to pop it into an oven he chose to use our new toaster oven with the convection feature.

According to the directions we could either heat our normal sized oven to the temperature of 400*F and cook the pie for 90 minutes or heat the smaller convection oven to 350*F for only 50 minutes. I was not aware that there would be such a difference in time and temperature between the two ovens.

It probably only saved a few pennies in electricity but I felt so fiscally frugal and earth-friendly. Excuse me now while I go eat my cobbler with a little ice cream on the side.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Art is in the eye . . .

I thought these were fun. More information about these photos can be found here . I'm always looking for clever garden art ideas. These are inspiring.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Autumn Deco

The weather is cool and cloudy this weekend so it feels right to put out the brown and orange decorative items.

I walked passed this set of birds three times at an estate sale until I heard them say they would be devastated if they did not come home with me. The first time I looked at them I thought they were beautiful but I didn't NEED them. The second time I walked passed them they looked even sweeter to me. The third time I heard them say, "You will regret it if you leave us here." And they were right. As soon as I got them home I knew they will always be special to me.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

I've been robbed of my chance . . .

In July 2008 I received an invitation from the federal Clerk of the United States District Court. Well, it wasn’t exactly an invitation; it was a summons for jury service.

My name has been selected for the county level jury duty twice over the years and I have sat in on three different trials. I tried to imagine what kind of crimes the federal court would be trying; white collar crime, check forgery, maybe a bank robbery. Certainly much more interesting crimes than the run-of-the-mill misdemeanors that I saw at the county level.

Being an experienced juror, I was prepared for the long hours of doing nothing. I had a good book to read, Sudoku puzzles and hand work ready.
I eagerly awaited for the first weekend I was to dial in to the automated phone system to see if my number had been called for me to appear for duty the following Monday. I was disappointed when I received a canned message saying I was not needed.
But, I was not yet entirely off the hook; I needed to call in again the following weekend. There still was a chance that I might have to stand up to do my civil duty. I, again, eagerly called in this weekend only to be told that I wasn’t needed.
The federal government is just a big tease. They got my hopes up only to reject me. See if I ever give THEM the time of day.
Oh, Good Grief

Of course, what I’m really disappointed about is that now I have to just go to work each day instead of listening to some juicy gossip about people I don’t know. I would have gotten in on all of the inside dope. I would be “in the know”. All of my hopes of being interviewed by the press and maybe getting my 15 minutes of fame – out the window.

On the other hand, had I been chosen I would have had to get up an hour earlier to make the long drive to another county. And that drive would have had to be made in the middle of all the morning commuters on their way to the same area I needed to be. And again at night I would be in among the commuters coming home.
I’m spoiled. It takes me 10 minutes from my garage to my desk and I like it that way.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Changes at Quirky Cottage are never easy and I should look before I leap

I’ve promised the Cottage Master that when I’m retired I’ll cook more often. I’ve been unhappy with the oven that came with Quirky Cottage and decided that a large toaster oven would serve me better. I found a lovely one at Costco earlier this month and after using it several times I can say that it was a good decision.

The microwave that came with QC is old and the door doesn’t shut tightly anymore and I often wonder if a part of my body is cooking along with my popcorn. It wasn’t a built-in model but one that sat on a drop-down shelf. It seemed like a good solution to purchase a microwave/range hood combo and use the shelf area for the new toaster oven.

I was thrilled when I discovered that a decent microwave/range hood could be purchased for under $200. The appliance store gave me the name of the man who did their installations for them and when I spoke to him he pointed out that before he could install it I would have to have a dedicated electric wire pull from the electrical panel into the area I wanted the microwave.

The Cottage Master rolled his eyes at the news saying that was going to cost $$$. He was right. Five hundred dollars later I called the installer again to make an appointment. When he looked at the job he announced that we needed the cabinet moved, too.

I thought we’d just remove it completely but the important detail I was missing is that the microwave needed to HANG from a cabinet and that the cabinet needed to be a certain height above the stove. And to get it to that height the sheet rock that was covering the existing vent needed cutting back, etc., etc. But, fortunately, he had a cousin that is a cabinet maker who might do the job for us. Two hundred dollars later we called the installer again.

This time he was able to begin the job of installing the inexpensive microwave.

Total cost of this not so quick, not so cheap change was over $1,000. I’m going to have to do a lot of cooking to make this project worthwhile.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


The word free gets my Scottish blood moving faster. Earlier this week I noticed that a neighbor was taking down a chimney and placing the bricks along the side of their driveway. I wanted to stop and ask them what they planned to do with the used bricks but not wanting to appear pushy, I didn’t.
When I drove by the next time and saw the “Free” sign I almost postponed going where I was headed to eagerly pick up all the free bricks that I could handle. But, I’m proud to say that I continued on to my appointment and a couple of hours later the bricks were still there waiting for me.

The Cottage Master and I loaded many brick and left many others. They are all covered in mortar and will need lots of TLC to clean them. I plan to have them cleaned and ready to use in the garden this spring. What is the best way to chip away at that mortor?


Monday, September 15, 2008


The The Sassy Rooster has a few great tassels to sell -- check out her blog to see. She has been busy getting ready for the one big craft sale she does but she is back now to share some more of her great ideas. I LOVE HER BROOMS. Check them out.

Cottage Kitchen Update

The kitchen is shaping up. The cabinet pulls are painted red and back in place. On the upper cabinets I glued a thrift store spoon to them after painting both of them red.

I glued a magnet on the back of this small garage sale tray. It isn’t vintage but I liked the message and it was red.

The table cloth on top of the fridge is vintage.

I was thrilled to find the vintage red crocheted doily at the thrift store and put it on top of the toaster oven.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Gifts Galore

I’m feeling so loved.

My friend, SA, visited Saturday with an arm load of gifts that were to acknowledge my birthday and retirement. One of my favorite items is these lovely red blown glass balls she got while on vacation at the beach. I have attached them to the kitchen window and just love the way the morning sun shines through them. Since the beach is my favorite place to be, with a close second being my home, they are perfect.

It is no secret that I am not a good cook. I really don’t enjoy chopping, slicing and dicing. But that is all in the past now. My co-workers gave me this wonderful Henckels knife as a retirement gift.

It is my very first chef’s knife and I immediately felt like I had stepped into better cooking just holding this knife. I used it three times over the weekend and I can say that it made me feel all grown up. I truly appreciate this gift.

My caterer friend presented me with a very unusual gift this year; a piece of beef marinated and ready to cook as sauerbraten. She used my favorite recipe from the “Joy of Cooking” and even baked the yummy gingersnap cookies to use in the gravy.
I put the meat in the slow cooker before we went to church Sunday morning and roasted potatoes, carrots and onions when we got home.

Then we feasted. The Cottage Master said if best, “It is exactly like it should be!” It was perfect. What a great gift.