Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I Thought I Was Over That!

"I thought I was over that."  Have you ever found yourself saying that before? I found myself saying it after a recent conversation I had with some new friends where I suddenly realized I was lying to myself and was not over something that I kept trying telling I was.  It was blatantly obvious too as I sat there and blabbed away at how I had been so disrespected and it was just too competitive and hard to find someone willing to pay me to do what I do.  I resented the success of others, of those who didn't give me who did I think I was kidding?  Sadly the only fool in the room was me. 

In my statements it was clear I was still snarling at others in my past as I sat there licking old wounds.  That is exactly the picture I got of how I sounded as I heard myself share how I gave up a dream of a career path after it became such a frustration with door after door closing, of others who were "someone" getting all the business and God was not blessing anything I did along that path.  I cringe to even write about how I felt, it hurts to clean this wound and get all the gunk out so it can heal. 

I struggled with things in part because I am obviously gifted in many aspects of that career path and have a natural affinity for the subject of it.  I was not at all prepared for God's plans to not marry with my vision of where I was going.  Not prepared for Him to stop me cold in my tracks with disablitity that has brought huge refining in my life.  God sees something deeper, more profound in me that He wants to bring out and use.  My holding on to the past and licking my wounds does me no good towards being able to see what God wants me to do either.  Honestly I didn't think I was terribly stubborn about this but evidently I was more than I though and my holding on to this junk makes that pretty clear I've been resistant to letting go of my dream, something He wants to fully surrender to His will.

What I was sharing about in that conversation last night was how I had applied for a dream job that looked like a total "God thing" but ended in devastation and disillusionment.  This job opening looked like they had taken every area I had worked and volunteered in and designed the job specifically for me, right down to it the applicant not needing a college degree.  It would have paid more than I have ever made, had benefits better than anything I have ever had and sorely needed and the no college degree item was the jerk of the pole that set the hook in my mouth and led me to believe it was from God.  Presumption is such a trap that way. I jumped in with both feet on this one and as it turned out I was not called in for an interview, was not even thanked for applying but only given a short letter stating the job was filled.  WHAT!?  Not even a nod to my skills and a thank you?  Why how dare they!  Self righteously I stated I would never work for someone who treated applicants who took the time to properly apply as I did.  Why of all the nerve!  I mean how could they be so cold when I had even sought counsel on how to write that resume and had help editing it until it was clear I was more than qualified.  But it wasn't them that closed the door, it was God. 

I had honestly wished I hadn't say a word to anyone after it all came down as everyone was as shocked as I was and only fueled the first of disappointment and frustration over the whole ordeal. And since then I have found myself battling with resentments and being more jaded than ever about ever being able succeed in that industry so I tossed in the towel and have sat pouting about it ever since...though on the outside it isn't always evident.  God has seen it though and said "That's enough of that! It's time for a little attitude adjustment my dear girl".  This jaded, pouting, resentful attitude did not speak well of my trust of God and my so called desire to follow Him and He was done with it all.  So was I really but as happens so often, change sometimes takes time and a nudge from God before it happens.  Thankfully, God doesn't want to leave me here but wants better for me, in spirit and in my life. 

After the conversation and God's little tap on my shoulder, I began to think about all I was feeling and why.  Why am I struggling so?  Why, if I know that God has something better, am I even holding court with any resentment towards anyone or feeling sorry for myself?  Having such a cold response to that application was basically getting no acknowledgement for something I had given my life to as a career I was quite passionate about and had placed a lot of hope in, so didn't I have the right to feel that way?  You might think so but I don't.  Those feelings goes back to that old gnarly root of feeling the need for validation from man which ruled my entire life for decades.  I thought I had gotten over that too back when I realized the work of Christ on the cross, that shed blood, had removed all my guilt and His love filled me up so much I wasn't striving for validation any longer.  Well, evidently there was some root left that God made clear to me was trying to again take root and needed ousting.  But I am not discouraged.

These old roots of resentments tug at my heart, skew my perspective and misguide the trajectory of my life as I try to move forward in God's will.  My aim will be a bit off if I don't cut them away and let them fall to the side and will hinder me when I move to take steps forward into what God has for me.  They will color how I see situations and affect my relationships for the rest of my life and I don't that!  I want to see things the way God wants me to, have His truth do the affecting of those relationships and follow freely His lead...step by solid step in faith and trust.

God relishes my trust but I am not trusting if I am still feeling resentment, self pitty and putting the blame on others for something He actually did.  He was the one who kept closing the doors, even withdrew His blessings in related non-work applications of this doing all He could to get me to stop and change course. wasn't those evil HR people, it was God trying to get me to stay on His path for my life.  And those old resentments needed to go for they kept me lashed to that past experience and on the path of my own will as I refused to surrender them to the Lord.

It is not so easy to let go of that future I had planned out as I thought it was; it's even a little heartbreaking.  It's hard to not put all this up into God's face, all the hours and energy invested and the fact that  I have a natural gifting for it.  Hard not to say why did you allow me to like this so much that my heart is sick from hope deferred.  Then I hear God ask "Where is your hope really?" and I am undone again.  God said "No, I have something better."  Even I understand this truth it's still at times hard to not fall into rehearsing that hurt and talk about that frustration I feel.  But the Lord understands and is patient.

When people ask me what I do that's when it is hardest because I want so badly to be doing something but what I was planning on and had worked so hard for was denied me and now I am doing nothing.  Because of the change of my life's trajectory God brought forth I keep saying I am having to reinvent myself but that is really not true at all.  What I am trying to do is figure out how to follow God's path for my life which means finding what His will is for me in what I do with my gifts and talents.  I keep tripping myself up with things I need to let go of and feel like I can't get my legs under me and feeling frustrated for the lack of forward motion in my life.  This is what the reinvention for this Christ follower is really all about.  Reinvention is about restoring order in my spiritual life first and about creating that attitude within me that will not listen to every fickle whim of my heart and busy creative mind that at present has no real focus when it comes to career, at least non that is viable yet..  It's about creating that heart within me that will not run like the wind into what "seems" right and instead sit quietly waiting for Him to say go do this.  Creating that heart of peace and restedness that comes from complete and utter trust in God's will and purpose for my life.  O Lord, have mercy and help me get this one right.

Finally, I encourage you to take time to read Proverbs 16...the entire passage and do it prayerfully.  It doesn't take but a couple minutes at most and there is a lot in there relating to what I have shared here and more that we need to be reminded of.  I hope and pray that God will bless the reading of His word to your life.  Living a surrendered life is an amazing thing.

Copyright © 2013 by Patty Hicks

All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including printing, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review. All reviews must include author's name and a link back to this blog.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Budget Crafter's Tools: Rubber Stamp Cleaning Pads

A good tool sometimes takes time to find.

Anyone who crafts know how expensive this hobby can get, especially with all the new gadgets and tools the industry is always parading in front of us. But if you are like me you are always on the look out for ways to save and when it comes to tools, have tools that still work well.  Honestly, sometimes some of the tools craft supply companies come up with are not the best things out there nor the only tools that will work for that application.  Take rubber stamp scrubbers for instance.

Back when I began creating with rubber stamps I purchased a stamp scrubber pad for around $13.00 through The Angel Company (TAC), now Red Rubber Designs.  All my friends in my paper crafting group used this scrubber and loved it.  Being a newbie to the group I figured they must know what they were talking about so I bought one too.

TAC Stamp Scrubber detail

My friends were right, it is a really good scrubber and thoughtfully designed too.  Basically it is a folding plastic case that contains a replaceable foam backed scrubber pad on the bottom where the cleaning solution goes, and another thin scrubby pad on top for drying off the freshly cleaned stamp.  The top pad that is glued onto the lid, presumable to keep it dry and is non-replaceable.  Because it closes the cleaning solution doesn't evaporate much and you don't have to worry about accidentally laying things on top of a scrubber full of cleaning solution, which as every busy scrapper knows that lid is a great idea.  And yes, it is one of the best scrubbers I have used and works well for most stamps but I had issues with it.  I didn't like to use it to clean larger stamps on due to the hard edges of the case that kept me from being able to scrub the entire stamp on easily.  Either the edge was in the way of moving the stamp around or it kept the stamp up off the scrubber pad.  That is what got me started in looking for other options, something without hard plastic edges and a less expensive option too.

Next came the day I started using Stayzon Ink and Stayzon cleaning solution.  I love this ink because works on non-pourous surfaces like glass and plastic and it is my favorite ink to use when indexing my rubber stamps so I use it a lot.  Because it is a more permanent ink it stained my fancy shmancy TAC scrubber pad...not that it was perfectly clean or anything but it just looked gross.  And because I only had the one scrubber pad I suddenly realized I didn't want to be stuck using the Stayzon cleaner as my only option.  But I wasn't going to shell out $13.00 for another one so the hunt began in earnest. 

That was when I found this Stampendous scrubber pad at Craft Warehouse for around $6.00 on sale.  Only problem was it didn't work as good as the TAC one did so I was a bit bummed out.  For one the pad is glued in so it cannot be taken out to give good wringing out if needed and there are those darn edges again.

So I was back to searching and determined to keep looking until I found something that would work this time, even if I had to make it myself.  After all, the material those scrubbers was made out of isn't that unique.  When I am out on these hunting forays of mine I look in all kinds of places for knock off options just for that reason.  Well I am happy to say my perseverance paid off this week and I discovered a product that was FABULOUS!   No really is!

I was poking around the paint department at our local Fred Meyer store before I dove into the grocery shopping I was supposed to be doing.  (It's a one stop shopping kind of store.)  I love pocking around every department in whatever store I go to because it helps me maintain a running list of sorts of what goodies they have that may connect with a need I have at home.

SCORE!  My new favorite scrubber.

As I got about half way down the isle I spotted this painting tool made by Shur-line called a "Handi Painter".  (Oh happy prayers have been answered!)  I think I did the happy dance in the isle after discovering it.  I mean I was so excited after looking for so long.  This "Handi Painter" may have been originally designed as a painting tool but not in my world.  To me it was one handsome looking stamp scrubber and I couldn't wait to try it.

Just look at that...and a handle too!

I don't think it could have been more perfect if I had designed it myself.   No hard raised edges to run into while running the stamp over the scrubber pad, light weight with a well fitting handle to hold on to, washes up easily with soap and water and was only $2.99!  Oh happy prayers have been answered! (More happy dancing.)  AND...You can either apply the cleaner to the scrubber or the stamp which I liked to do sometimes because those detailed stamps benefit from a little extra spritzing of the stamp cleaner.  So aren't you just dying to know how well it worked?

Yesterday morning the mail carrier delivered a big ol' box of goodies I had ordered from Red Rubber Designs yesterday.  (Hallelujah I get to test drive this baby!)  Wow...I have to tell you it works like a dream. The foam handle was surprisingly comfortable and it's light as a feather to hold but still sturdy enough to scrub with.  I just layed the stamps rubber up on my work surface, spritzed them with a tiny bit of cleaner and with a few easy rubs they were cleaned and ready to dry.  I wiped down the scrubber with paper towel and used it to dry them off.  It worked slick!

Now I have an arthritic thumb on my right hand and a wrist that was howling at me yesterday so I can assure you that if you have arthritis you just might find this cleaning method and tool easier to use too.  It's because you don't have to grasp the stamp in your hand but will be holding the light weight scrubber tool instead.  I sure helped me.  All that aside it is just plain easier to use any other scrubber I have used anywhere hands down.  The only down side, and it's not much of one, is that the "Handi Painter" does take up a bit more space than other scrubbers do.  For me it works so much better that it's a non issue.

Now that I am in love with my "Handi Painter" I'm going to have a hard time going back to my other scrubbers. Oh and in case you're wondering, I used this on cling foam mounted stamps, not wood mounted.  Setting the wood stamps on a towel will help keep them from sliding around too much as you scrub them.   And those tiny ones, you'll have to hold those in one hand most likely. 

TOOL CARE NOTE:  I recommend that you wash it up right away after using it to keep it in good condition.  I washed mine in warm water with Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day dish soap which worked great.  I found the sponge (that green part) held the soapy water and I had to sort of squeegee it out with my hand two or three times to get all the soap out but that was no biggie.  It probably didn't help that I put the soap straight onto the scrubbing pad either...words to the wise...dilute the soap in water first.  Then it needed to be pressed it into a towel to help get rid of the excess water in the sponge and  propped up on edge on a paper towel to finish drying.  This morning I have a nicely cleaned scrubber all ready for next time.

I know there are other rubber scrubbers that I have not mentioned out there, but before try them I highly recommend that you give this product a try.  Oh and before I forget...I have seen smaller versions of paint brushes like this so watch for those too.  I bet they would work and if storage space is an issue might be just the ticket for your craft tool box.  So have fun and give it a try.

Copyright © 2013 by Patty Hicks

All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including printing, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review. All reviews must include author's name and a link back to this blog.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Grocery Store Discoveries: Unusual Garden Seed Sources

Do you only buy garden seed the traditional way, or do you look for seed you can sow in more unusual the grocery isles, bulk bins, ethnic markets and feed stores?  If you only buy seeds the traditional way you're missing out.  Not only can you save money by looking elsewhere, but it can be a real adventure.  Beware though, it is a teensy bit addictive.

Clues on the packaging.

The other day I snatched up a great deal on an 8oz bag of Bob's Red Mill Natural Foods "Premium Poppy Seed" for $2.00 at a local liquidation market.  Yes you can find seeds there too.  Anyway, Bob's 8oz bags go for $3.39 each online, plus shipping.  Even at that price these seeds are a steal compared to buying the stuff in those little bottles for twice that price or seeds a single seed packet which would be at least that much if not more.  See, I told you it was a great deal.  And it ends up my bag of seed is about 1.5 cups worth which is a ton-o-seed but we love "poppy-seed-anything" around here so it won't go to waste.  If I told you my first thought when I spotted it was cooking I'd be lying though.  I snatched up these seeds mainly to see if they were viable seed I could plant.  Yes, that's right...I wanted to plant them. 

To find this out I would need to test the seed to see if it was alive, or in gardening terms "viable".  To do this I sprinkled a few seeds between two layers of moistened paper towel, then wrapped it in plastic wrap and stuck it on top of the freezer where it's nice a warm and waited a couple of days.

Sqweeee!  Look at 'em...they're sprouting!

This morning when I checked on of my little science project and found the seed was indeed viable (yippee!).   This is day three and there are better than 50% of them sprouted, with more on the way.  That means I can sow them and have my own crop beginning next summer.

Testing seed for freshness is also helpful if you are using them for cooking as the freshness seeds can effect their flavor, or as is the case with dry beans, determine whether we should even use them at all.  Dead dry beans do not absorb water and you can break a tooth on those puppies.  Other seeds used for oils can go rancid with age so if it doesn't sprout it could be dead which could also mean rancid and save you from ruining that lovely meal you are planning to use them in. Freshness dates are your only recourse with those.

So the general rule when it comes to viability is the lower percentage of seeds that germinate, the less fresh the seed is.  You can test any seed that has not been pasteurized with heat which would kill the germination.   Oh and one more thing...this is a great science project for the kiddos too. Get your kids hooked on this and you may find them scouring the stores for seeds to sow too.  I'm not trying to be an enabler or anything.

Poppy seeds are only one of the many types of seed you will discover that you can grow.  There are many dry (horticultural) beans, flax seed, wheat and other grains, chia (these are really yummy) and much more.    I wanted to start with Poppies because not only the seeds, but the pods for crafting and before that the beautiful flowers with soft grey/green foliage and I figured something in this mix of things might encourage you to give it a try.

Well, it seems I now have enough poppy seeds in that jar to sow a whole field of poppies so I guess I'll have to get busy and bake something.  Lavender lemon poppy seed bread or maybe some short bread cookies sound pretty good don't you think?.  Stay tuned, I'll be posting a recipe next.

Happy Gardening!

Copyright © 2013 by Patty Hicks
All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including printing, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review. All reviews must include author's name and a link back to this blog.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Lemon Swiss Chard With Elephant Garlic

Rhubarb Swiss Chard
Inspiration in the kitchen is a wonderful thing when it brings success and last night was a big success with some Swiss Chard.  So here's the latest recipe from my inspired kitchen.  

A good friend had given us a generous bag full of beautiful Swiss Chard that I had been using in salads this week.  But that bag was taking up too much room in the fridge so it was time to cook it up.  I had no idea how I was going to cook it but I just knew it would make the perfect side dish for the fish and potatoes I was planning for dinner.

Being someone who does more cooking by the seat of my pants than from recipes I blew off looking for a recipe and just began tossing things I had into the pan.  I had just finished prepping the fish for the oven and had some left over lemon zest on the cutting board that was making my mouth water so I decided to use it in the chard. 
The Elephant Garlic at harvest time
I have had elephant garlic sitting next to the stove for months, literally months, it is from last year's harvest, and because of my neglect it was almost jumping up and down on the counter like a child with it's hand raised saying "Pick me, pick me!"  Well it sort of was, but it was more likely the guilt of having not used it that was talking. 

By the way, is it just me or does anyone else have this happen; you get into the kitchen not knowing how you will prepare something and suddenly it is as if ingredients almost seem to speak to you, igniting inspiration to the point of being able to taste how things will turn out?  I swear that is exactly what it felt like was happening last night and the results were fabulous!  I absolutely loved how the fresh lemon zest gave this dish a really refreshing flavor.  The fact that the chard is much milder in flavor than spinach made it all the more perfect.

Lemon Swiss Chard with Elephant Garlic

You need enough Swiss Chard leaves with the midrib removed to fill a stock pot or dutch oven.

In the bottom of the pan place the following and heat to a simmer.
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon zest (or half of the zest of a whole lemon)
1 cloves elephant garlic sliced thin
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
Next add the Swiss Chard...Sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.   Keep in mind you can always add more later so don't put in too much.

Place the lid on the pot and cook on medium, turning every so often cooking until nicely wilted but still bright green.
You may want to have some vinegar to sprinkle on after it's dished up for those who like tangier greens like my hubby does but this on it's own is a simple and lovely dish.

This took maybe 10 minutes to cook including prep time.  Now that's what I call good food fast. 


Copyright © 2013 by Patty Hicks
All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including printing, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review. All reviews must include author's name and a link back to this blog.