Refuge

Last night I was reading and thinking about Psalm 23, because it was soothing the anxiety I was feeling about some stuff. It’s a popular passage for a reason, and it has meant a lot to me at many points in my life.

Tonight I was hesitant to be home alone and suddenly felt inspired to go to the nearby wildlife refuge before it got dark. It was pretty, but I was slightly disappointed that I didn’t get any amazing photos or anything in particular out of it besides an evening walk. Driving out there, I guess I had thought there might be something more for me, though I didn’t know what.

Later, I was reading Psalm 23 once again and realized it matched many of the scenes I had just experienced tonight, and then I got it. 🙂 God’s a sneaky sneak.

The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.


He lets me rest in green meadows;


He leads me beside peaceful streams.


He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies.


You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

Also, it took me until I started writing this post to put together that in a moment of weakness and need, I went to a refuge.

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. (Psalm 9:9)

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. (Psalm 34:8)

The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him (Nahum 1:7)

And on and on and on.

Sunrise

I didn’t sleep a lot last night and was up way too early, but the consolation was a nice sunrise. We’re getting into the time of year when there are more cool sunrises for various reasons (and they’re late enough that I see them). Here are a few shots of the progression this morning…


Oh and it was raining the whole time, though I don’t know if you can tell.


A couple of ducks.


This is right near the end when the colors were starting to fade.

It was a pretty good sunrise, but I still think the best was last October:


I’m looking forward to more of these this year.

Fettuccini Carbonara

I’ve been wanting to make Carbonara ever since a friend posted about it months ago. It looked so rich and delicious, and I don’t think I’ve ever had it before. Finally I had the ingredients, but I neglected to buy any fresh parsley, which I’d definitely use next time, even if just for the appearance.

Anyway, I based my recipe off this one, only I made just half a batch (sort of).

OH EM GEE. So, so good. It’s definitely a comfort food: not the healthiest, but still one of those life requirements. It’s filling, but I had to package up the leftovers immediately so I wouldn’t want to eat the entire pan.

INGREDIENTS

1 to 2 T olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
3 oz pancetta, cut into strips
1 clove garlic, chopped
Half package (8 oz) fettuccini pasta
2 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente.

2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion and pancetta, adding garlic when you feel like it. Cook until everything is golden brown and delicious-looking.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, and shredded Parmesan.

4. When pasta is done, drain and immediately pour the pancetta mixture over it, then stir in the cream mixture right away so it’s still hot enough to cook the egg. Season with salt and pepper.

Some recipes I’ve seen caution you to be careful not to let the egg scramble. I don’t know how easy this is to do, but I didn’t seem to have a problem with it.

I couldn’t decide which photo to post, so you get both!

Fall + Games

Happy equinox to you and you and you! To me, it’s now fall. To poemy people, it’s now autumn. To people in the southern hemisphere, it’s been spring for awhile now. They don’t start their seasons on equinoxes and solstices, I don’t think. That’s a fun fact for you (plus free alliteration!).

I know I just posted today, but I had written that post a couple of days ago, so it feels like I haven’t posted in awhile. Not that I’ve had anything important to say, but since when does that stop me?

First, here’s a photo I took today:

Not very fally, huh? It does actually feel kind of spring-like around here, lately. Okay, the photography portion of my entry is now complete.

Here are the games I’ve been playing lately. No, not Bubble Spinner (spin spin spin). By the way, I stole these little images from places on the web. It was just easier.


Vector TD
Why do I like this game? It’s ridiculous. I’m ridiculous. There’s actually a newer version out, but I prefer this first one.


Cribbage
For some reason I’ve been in love with this card game since shortly after I learned how to play. I didn’t pick it up right away, but then it suddenly clicked and now it’s one of my favorite card games. I’m a total Cribbage Patch Kid. I like it in real life, too, but it’s handy to have the computer tally my score for me. 🙂


Cassino
Another great card game, but you can’t exactly play it online anywhere (that I know of). This is a game you can purchase and then connect to others who have the same game installed, or just play the computer. I hate the name, because it makes it impossible to look it up online (it’s often spelled with just one s) and it sounds like I’m playing slots.

Have you played any of these games? Do you have any game recommendations? I apparently need to waste more time.

R

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my older sister! I won’t be doing special posts for everyone, but since R is probably my most dedicated reader and commenter (not just on this blog, but in my galleries and email), I couldn’t let the day pass without a special tribute.


R, thanks for putting up with me from the very beginning, even though I apparently started kicking your head at an early age, and getting away with it.

I’m lucky to be a middle child, because it means I know the feeling of being both an older and younger sibling. Being an older sibling seems way harder to me (the worrying, the protective instincts, etc.), so I know it must be difficult to be the oldest, at times. R doesn’t have an older sibling to whine to like I do. She does the caring and leading for both my younger sister and me. She has given us a lot of her time and energy.

When we were kids, she always assumed the leadership and organizational role, acting as the teacher when we played “school,” coming up with ideas for us (like obstacle courses) during the boring summer days, and always going first so we had an idea of what to expect when it came to high school, driving, getting a job and becoming an adult. I do not envy her, especially because I’m such a follower and would be lost without examples.

Now that we are adults, she still takes on the leadership and organizational role for my younger sister and me, coordinating special gifts for family members and giving us reminders and instructions so we can participate in various things. We take her for granted a lot. She’s also supported us through trials–opening her home, taking our calls and emails, and offering up whatever she can to help. Plus, she’s very forgiving even though I have said my share of bratty things to her. Older sisters rock!


[Please ignore my unfortunate mustard outfit. R’s jeans are pretty stylish, though. This photo is one of a series where I keep copying R’s movements, like a younger sibling often does.]

I was thinking, the other day, that I don’t know how R does it. She continues to make herself available to me, my younger sister and other family members even though she has her hands very full. She and her husband have five kids who are all adopted out of the foster system and present a unique set of challenges. Some very difficult challenges. She homeschools them all (all of the “school” we played as kids was preparation), while keeping them social and active in the church, neighborhood and community. She and her husband take the kids on lots of road trips for learning and fun. They do so much for their family and others. I am way too lazy to handle all of that, and even with my relatively simple life, I find many reasons to need her for support and prayer.

Thanks, R! Happy birthday. I will pray for many special blessings on your new year. See you soon!

Blogging and stuff

I just had a chatversation with Danielle about how we tend to create meaningless rules for ourselves on our blogs, and they end up hindering us from posting.

I started this blog because I wanted to have a public place that I could share with people from all areas of my life, and they could come read and get to know more about me or just be [hopefully] entertained a tiny bit. I don’t use Facebook, so this kind of takes the place of that. I participate in another online community, plus I have offline friends and family, and tend to keep people in my life very sectioned off. This is one place where everyone is welcome.

That in itself makes me much pickier about what I post, and I have often started a post only to delete it or save it for later and never actually get back to it. I start feeling self-conscious knowing that coworkers, fellow church members, family, friends, acquaintances and strangers could all be reading. The reality is (I’m guessing) that maybe 5-10 people come looking at my blog with any regularity, but I tend to live my life “just in case,” so it’s no surprise I am sometimes overly cautious about my blog.

Anyway, I started it with the intention of writing some reviews and other thoughts, but soon I realized I wanted to make it more photo based. Since I’m trying to do more photography on the side of my main job, I wanted a continuously updated place where my work is displayed, with a touch of my personal life mixed in. This is very trendy among photographers right now, so it’s not an idea I came up with on my own. (Of course not, because I tend to rely on others to dictate how I should live my life. :P)

Well, now that I’ve tried to make it about photography, I feel guilty posting without photos. I feel like it’s boring or unprofessional. Like this blog is professional? Yeahright.

So, as an act of rebellion against myself, I have now started my sixth paragraph and no photos have shown up yet. Go me.

A few random facts about my weekend…

1. I tried making these Prosciutto Parmesan Pinwheels (PPP!) for a lunch thing today, and they did not turn out as I imagined. (So I didn’t take any pictures.) That’s the first (and maybe last) time I’ve used puff pastry, and I wasn’t impressed. Also, that recipe is a little incomplete, if you ask me. However, everyone who tried them said nice things since I had expressed all my worries about them being gross. I wasn’t trying to do the reverse psychology thing, so now I feel kind of embarrassed about that but I’ll get over it.

2. It’s been rainy. Real rainy.

3. I asked for a new air filter with my oil change, but they did not give me one. 😐

4. My friends are nice to me.

5. It’s a relief that God is good, kind, loving and powerful, even when I doubt it. Thank God for God!

6. And now I will rebel against my rebelliousness and post a photo, because it’s been vibrant out my back door lately, with the clouds and sun doing their thing.

7. And because I really should think about and memorize more scripture, I’ll try to choose a verse for some of my entries. Here’s an old favorite I had forgotten about that has come to mind lately:

The Lord your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)

Early Fall

Technically it’s not fall yet, but around here it seems to start at the beginning of September (or even earlier). I needed to get out today, so I walked around the grounds by my place looking for some fall evidence to photograph.

It wasn’t necessarily the smartest idea. There were lots of [garden] spider webs that I couldn’t always see, but felt on my face and arms everywhere I walked. One was over the path, and I was so careful to step under it on my way through, but totally forgot about it and ruined it on my way back. I said sorry, but the spider probably gave me the finger.

There also seemed to be a lot of creatures roaming. I almost stepped on a salamander (I guess?)*, and saw/heard lots of movement in the bushes, like animals were around. I know one was a squirrel, but I’m not so sure about the others. My guess is at least one was a mole, since I’ve seen one before in a similar environment (shady, damp forest).

Okay! Now that you have sat through my important side info, here are a few so-so photos.


Another nice color palette possibility.


Well, that’s not very fallish.


Deadness! Yay fall!


Not high on the fall scale, but points for cuteness, don’t you think?


Do you like how I end on a summery photo? Well, whatever. Just trust me that it’s getting fallish. And there are some trees that are almost completely orange/etc. but none that I photographed. I hope to do some good fall photography outings in the next couple of months, though.

*I couldn’t get a non-blurry shot; he was too fast.

Rainbow Crystal Mud

At the fair, there were booths selling Crystal Mud–tiny beads that absorb water and can be used for plants and flowers. N had been describing them and, after buying one set as a trial, felt they might be the answer to her cat-getting-into-the-water problems. So we headed to one of the booths and I ended up buying one packet of black ones. They were only $3.333333333333333 since P and I went in together on the 3-for-$10 deal.

And now, because I am so generous, I have recorded the process so you may witness the coolness of these little beads. I think they were worth the cost just for observing them! Will my flowers die tomorrow from lack of water? I don’t know, but it’s obviously a risk I was willing to take.

Behold:


This is like in cooking shows where they have all their ingredients cut up and in separate dishes (minus the quarter), ready to pour into the pan. I’m gourmet.


It says to put them in a gallon of water.


Okay, let the absorbing commence. (Sorry, P, this pitcher isn’t Tupperware.)


Within half an hour they are taking on a blackberry-like appearance. I enjoyed some with ice cream.


Three hours later they have rounded out a bit more, but still have an uneven surface.


They are supposed to stay in the water for 8-12 hours. By the next morning, they had grown to this size.


They’re like marbles!

I made the mistake of leaving them in the water all day, not really considering that it might damage them. When I got home, some were bursting from their little seams, and I threw a few out.


I strained them to stop the growing process.


You can’t help but touch these.. they have a wet surface even after sitting out for days. I guess the water keeps leaking out of them, or something. Anyway, they feel a little like wet grapes or olives, only more slippery. They’d make a great sub when you’re playing that Halloween game of blindfolding people and convincing them they are touching eyeballs. (That game creeped me out when I was a kid, even though I knew I was touching normal household items.)

They are squishable and can break if you’re too rough with them. In fact, I think I broke several when I was putting the flowers in them (which means I should’ve put them in over the flowers instead of vise versa).


The package says these are for fresh flowers, plants or light/candle arrangements, but for some reason I’m skeptical of the flowers getting enough water. Maybe I’ll have to report back with how long these lasted. Or I could do an experiment where I put some flowers in water and some in the Crystal Mud beads. But I don’t feel like it.


And now for a little sunflower love, since they’re being such great sports.

Supposedly the beads dry up over the course of about a month, and you can start again and plump them right back up. N used some clear ones for a plant and says you can see the roots growing, which I think would be really fun. But when the clear ones are under water, you can’t even really see them, which makes me think of lots of “fun” practical jokes one could play with a sack full. But I don’t recommend playing any of those jokes unless you hate having friends.

Whale Watching

Today I went whale watching! I’ve always wanted to do this, and though I’ve seen very distant whales from the shore (or a ship), I’ve never taken a boat tour specifically to see them. Fortunately, Depoe Bay has reasonably-priced tours available and so three friends and I went on one.

We ended up seeing just one whale that kept surfacing, and we didn’t see its tale or anything, just parts of its back. So don’t expect much with these photos, but it’s still exciting to see a whale at such close proximity.


Fin!


N pointed out this jelly fish, which was fun. I love seeing animals in the wild.


The whale breath.


It was close enough to the boat at one point that we could hear it breathing this water out.


Then the boat driver took us out to this buoy where sea lions like to hang out.


When we got back to the dock, there were some people cleaning fish, so we watched them for a bit.


Someone caught this really big fish. Some guy who seemed to know a lot about fish called it a Lean Cod, I think. Or maybe that first word was something else.. I obviously don’t know a lot about fish.


They threw some of the fish scraps over the edge so seagulls could eat them.


I took several photos of the ocean.


A random pair of photos, but they were the only two verticals.


Seeing the crabs must’ve influenced me, because I ordered crab salad for lunch.

I don’t think these photos adequately convey it, but it was a great trip. The weather was perfect, I had good company and I didn’t get motion sickness.

Chicken Broccoli Crescent Ring

The other day I made this for some friends and it was really yummy (and pretty!). I used this recipe but altered it a bit based on what I had on hand and my tastes, so here’s my version:

2 cups cooked chicken (I cooked it on the stove in olive oil, salt, pepper and some Italian seasoning)
1 cup raw broccoli, chopped
1 T chopped garlic
1 cup cheddar or cheese of your choice, grated
1/2 cup mayo
1 t dill weed (this is approximate–I’m not really sure how much I used)
1-2 T Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
2 packages refrigerated crescent rolls
1 egg white

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
  2. Line a pizza pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.
  3. Put all the ingredients (except only half of the cheese) but the crescent rolls into a mixing bowl and stir together.
  4. Separate the crescent rolls and arrange overlapping the large sides of the triangle on the pizza pan.
  5. Spoon the filling in a circle over the dough that is overlapped and then fold the short end of the triangles to the center. Tuck the ends underneath.
  6. Brush an egg white onto the top of the crescent dough.
  7. Bake for about 20 minutes.
  8. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top.
  9. Bake for about 10 more minutes.

Here are a few more photos to help with construction:

I’m anxious to try out some variations on this recipe (like with an Italian filling), but I’d like to use dough that doesn’t have trans fat like this crescent dough does.