Tuesday, February 21, 2012

ginger cake

This has become one of our family's favorites. The fresh ginger makes you wanna slap yo mama! & the cake is so moist. This cake achieves the perfect hue being neither too dark nor too light.

Ginger Cake


  • 1 cup butter (You could sub. some olive oil if you wish.)
  • 1/2 cup - 3/4 cup any combination of the following: brown sugar, honey, +/or molasses
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup grated fresh ginger root (After peeling, I use my food processor to do the grating.)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract
  • 1 cup milk (I like to use some plain yogurt.)
  • 2 1/2 cups any combination of the following: all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, oat flour, ground flax, wheat bran, wheat germ, or whatever you like
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (decrease some if using salted butter)
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar for dusting


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9 inch Bundt pan. Mix together the flours, etc., baking powder, ground ginger, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar, etc. until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the grated ginger root and vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing just until incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pan. 
  3. Bake in the preheated oven (If your Bundt pan is dark-coated you may want to place it on a cookie sheet while baking so that the top - which is on the bottom - doesn't over-brown.) for 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a serving plate. Dust lightly with confectioners' sugar before serving; This makes it feel really pretty.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Quiz

I am of the opinion that is is time for a quiz. 'You will be quizzed  famously!' (...sorry, John Thorpe there for a minute) Are you up for a contest? Do you have sporting blood in your veins? Answer that question in the affirmative and then answer as many of the below questions as you can, and feel free you use your book.

Yes, this is an open book test. Boy, I am a nice teacher. All of these q. s pertain to Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey which some of you just read, so perhaps it's still fresh? We shall see... The contest will be open for at least a week so everyone has time to put down their most profound and scholarly answers... or whatever you've got.

All of these questions are taken from So You Think You Know Jane Austen?: A Literary Quizbook by John Sutherland & Deirdre Le Faye. And I have it, so I already know all of the answers. Yes, I looked at the back of the book. I'm sorry. Not really.


1) How many children do the Reverend Mr and Mrs Morland have? How many of their Christian names do we know?

2) Where did Henry go to university?

3) What are the 'friends of Henry's solitude' at Woodston?

4) What aspect of Catherine's walk does General Tilney particularly admire?

5) What do we know of Henry's complexion and what does this mean?

6) What color dress (as Mrs Allen's needle-sharp eye notes) does Miss Tilney 'always wear'?

7) Who says, 'after all the romancers may say, there is no doing without money'?

8) For what does the General rebuke Fredrick on the day the rest of the family leave Bath?

9) Why, having just arrived at Bath (to arrange accommodations for himself and his father and his sister) does Henry suddenly leave, and what should we deduce from his departure?

10) On the trip to Northanger Abbey we are informed that Catherine has a 'new writing desk'. What may we deduce from it?

11) Why does Catherine not, as she plans, steal out at midnight to investigate the 'mysterious apartments' in which, she is convinced, the General's poor wife is secretly incarcerated?

12) Why does Jane Austen specifically tell us that Catherine has a 'charming game of play with a litter of puppies just able to roll about' in Henry's stable-yard at Woodston?

13) In the company of Henry and Eleanor, General Tilney clearly seems to think that Catherine is the Allens' heiress (basing this on John Thorpe's misinformation). Are Eleanor and Henry similarly deceived as to Catherine's wealth and handsome prospects?

14) Catherine thinks Isabella is now engages to Captain Tilney and that the Captain will gallop back to his father (as James rushed back to Fullerton) for paternal permission. Henry's guess is that his brother's marrying Isabella is 'not probable'. Has he know this from the first?

15) Why has Catherine, even before the General's wrathful return, suggested that she should, perhaps, leave?

16) Why is Henry not at Northanger Abbey when Catherine is summarily banished?

17) How long is it before Henry appears at Fullerton to propose?

18) How long do Henry and Catherine have to wait for parental consent?

John Sutherland & Deirdre Le Faye suggest that if you score over 15, good for you! If you scored over 10 but under 15, skim the novel again. Over 5 but under 10, reread the novel. Under 5, throw the book away and watch TV.

(aerial view of Bath)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Quotes from 'Psmith in the City'

'Me! Dash it all, how old do you think I am? I'm only nineteen,'
'I had suspected as much from the alabaster clearness of your unwrinkled brow.'

'What rot it all is!' went on Mike, sitting down again. 'What's the good of it all? You go and sweat all day at a desk, day after day, for about twopence a year. And when you're about eighty-five, you retire. It isn't living at all. It's simply being a bally vegetable.'

If one looks closely into the actions which are apparently due to sudden impulse, one generally finds that  the sudden impulse was merely the last of a long series of events which led up to the action. Alone, it could not have been powerful enough to effect anything. But, coming after the way has been paved for it, it is irresistible.

Mr Bickersdyke shifted uneasily on his sofa. He glared at the floor. Then he eyed the ceiling as if it were a personal enemy of his...Addressed thus directly, the manager allowed his gaze to wander from the ceiling. He eyed Psmith for a moment like an elderly basilisk, then looked back at the ceiling.

Young Mr Richards was sitting on the sofa, moodily turning the leaves of a photograph album, which contained portraits of Master Edward Waller in geometrically progressing degrees of repulsiveness - here, in frocks, looking like a gargoyle; there, in sailor suit, looking like nothing on earth. The inspection of these was obviously deepening Mr Richards' gloom, but he proceeded doggedly with it.

Comrade Prebble beamed and took the floor. Mike began to realize that, till now, he had never known what boredom meant. There had been moments in his life which had been less interesting than other moments, but nothing to touch this for agony. Comrade Prebble's address streamed on like water rushing over a weir.

'Women,' said Psmith, helping himself to trifle, and speaking with the air of one launched upon his special subject, 'are, one must recollect, like - like - er, well, in fact, just so. Passing on lightly from that conclusion...'

It would have been plain to the most casual observer that Mr Waller was fond and proud of his son. The cashier was a widower, and after five minutes' acquaintance with Edward, Mike felt strongly that Mrs Waller was the lucky one.

They had been audible all the time, very much so, but now they grew in volume. Comrade Wotherspoon was a tall, thin man with side-whiskers and a high voice. He scattered his aitches as a fountain its sprays in a strong wind. He was in earnest.

'Comrad Bristow sneaks off and buys a sort of woolen sunset. I saw the thing unexpectedly. I tell you I was shaken. It is the suddenness of that waistcoat which hits you. It's discouraging, this sort of thing. I try always to think well of my fellow man. As an energetic Socialist, I do my best to see the good that is in him, but it's hard. Comrade Bristow's the most striking argument against the equality of man I've ever come across.'

'You are Agesilaus,' he said. 'I am the petulant Pterodactyl. You, if I may say so, butted in of your own free will, and took me from a happy home, simply in order that you might get me into this place under you, and give me beans. But, curiously enough, the major portion of that vegetable seems to be coming to you.'

I can rough it. We are old campaigners, we Psmiths. Give us a roof, a few comfortable chairs, a sofa or two, half a dozen cushions, and decent meals, and we do not repine.

Mr Waller ordered lunch with the care of one to whom lunch is no slight matter. Few workers in the City do regard lunch as a trivial affair. It is the keynote of their day. It is an oasis in a dessert of ink and ledgers. Conversation in City offices deals, in the morning, with what one is going to have for lunch, and in the afternoon with what one had for lunch.

'It's a nice room,' said the pantomime dame. Which was a black lie. It was not a nice room. It had never been a nice room. And it did not seem at all probable that it ever would be a nice room. But it looked cheap. That was the great thing. Nobody could have the assurance to charge much for a room like that. A land lady with a conscience might even have gone to the length of paying people some small sum by way of compensation to them for sleeping in it.

Psmith's attitude towards the slings and arrows of outrageous Fortune was to regard them with a bland smile, as if they were part of an entertainment got up for his express benefit.

Sunday supper, unless done on a large and informal scale, is probably the most depressing meal in existence. There is a chill discomfort in the round of beef, an icy severity about the open jam tart. The blancmange shivers miserably. Spirituous liquor helps to counteract the influence of these things, and so does exhilarating conversation.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

this time of year reminds me of Vienna

Five years ago my husband and I visited Vienna and Hallstatt. Everyone else should too. Hallstatt is backed up to the Austrian Alps and to get to the village you take a boat. Our boat driver bore an uncanny resemblance to Cliff on Cheers.

But we didn't go when it was all summer-ish like in the above picture. The below picture is more like it.

We stayed at the inn below - Gasthof Simony. Our window balcony looked over the water and swans: it was pretty much perfect.

                      And the street view:

I'm ready to go back.

Ann Voskamp's 'One Thousand Gifts' - a review, of sorts

My sisters and I wanted to read a book together, but since half of us live in the North West and half of us live in the South, we used a Google document to keep the conversation going. Of the sisters, R writes in purple, B writes in blue, L writes in green, and E writes in red. The book that was chosen was Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts, and here is the conversation that my sisters had no idea I was going to put on the blog. Do you dare read the full thing? It is lengthy, I'll admit...

7/3/11 - So BOOK CLUB!!!! I’m assuming everyone has their book now so we can begin. My thoughts are to start this Google document, and everyone can write their thoughts as we read through it. You can catch up on reading what everyone else wrote when you post your own thoughts.
You are supposed to write down 1,000 gifts before it’s all over with. I thought using the journals mom gave us would be nice - carry it around with you and write as things strike you. Write thoughts about reading here (does not need to be a tome) and post SOME of your 1000 gifts - maybe the best or most interesting ones.
7/7/11 - Chapter One
I could have written this book if I had the talent so a lot of my thoughts from the first chapter reflect the author’s. The author has a candid honesty about struggles in her life and has found the right answers. She talks about keeping the body moving to keep the soul from atrophying. Busyness keeps us from focusing on the hard things, things we don’t want to confront. “How do I fully live when life is full of hurt?” “No, God, we won’t take what you give.”  There are things I don’t have to say. "Like all beliefs, you simply live them." Why does God not give me what I want, need, the desires of my heart? Why is my life not always happy?  He has a secret purpose to fill me with glory. He is making me into His image. Since the fall, our sin has been ingratitude with what God gives. I do not give thanks in ALL things. I wonder why I should give thanks for things that don’t make me happy, things I think need to change. It is a choice to open our hands to freely receive whatever God gives. The choice to not only take His grace offered at the cross, but also to live life filling with His grace everyday. Grace in the hard things.God’s grace is a mystery. I don’t know why things happen, but do I have to? “Maybe you don’t want to change the story, because you don’t know what a different ending holds.” Like the author, I have found myself groping along, famished for more, and I have refused to let the mysteries nourish me. The holes in our life can become places to see, see through to God. “How do I give up resentment for gratitude, gnawing anger for spilling joy? Self-focus for God-communion?”
7/9/11 - Chapter Two
p. 32 - Eucharisteo - he gave thanks - comes from the root word Charis meaning grace. Charis - a gift for which I give thanks.  The author doesn’t start listing gifts until Chapter 3, but I’ve read part of this book before so in Chapter 2, I’ll list my first gift.
1. Sisters

7/9/11 - pp 9-41
At the top of page 15 when she says, 'Doesn't God want me to be happy?', she hits the nail on the head because I think this is a common misconception. Now, Joy can be yours, but the sooner we stop trying to make ourselves happy the better- only then can we seek God's Joy.
She has so much fear and there's nothing she can do with it. One must give it to God, it's the only way to live. This book can only get more cheerful; it's started out so mournful.
Struck w/ the thought that B. will cringe at all the sentence fragments in the book.
Was thinking that I didn’t understand these poetic types writin’! :-)
So she touches on the joy concept... (Questioning whether I do nonfiction....except of course Boethius, and for someone more modern, perhaps Sarah Baxter Emsley. Thinking I need to get R and her kids back on fiction.) Perhaps I will try the style of the author:
I wake.
Am tired.
Pot of coffee.
And another.
And another.
Full bladder.
This is how I would try to write after 3 beers. (That is a joke, btw.:)) I like what she writes at very top of page 39, that the whole life is possible when we are thankful. Thinks she must have hidden depths to be quoting Schmemann. Page 40 is also a gem.
I should never try to write a book review.

7/13/11 - pp. 36-54
Jesus gives thanks the night He was betrayed. I’ve been pondering what to give thanks for. I don’t think you have to give thanks for bad things or evil in the world. Hitting closer to home, I’m not thankful for mom’s death. I am thankful for things related to her death (lessons learned, opportunities to share gospel with others, love from family). Should I be thankful for something “bad”? Can I have an attitude of thanksgiving without being thankful for every detail?
p. 37 - I like the analogy of the wheat dying and rising again in the loaf of communion bread.
One habit must be replaced by another habit. It’s not good enough to just will to stop being discontent. You must cultivate thankfulness to drive it out.  Turning our focus to the good, pure, beautiful...gifts I’m thankful for...
2. hot showers
3. deep sleep on a comfy bed
4. long talks with friends
5. Coffee - need I say more?...
6. ...Yes, I do - Chocolate :-)
I like your poetry? haiku? How’s the ol’ bladder today? Bring on the beer...

Chapter 1&2 (pages 1-41)
First of all, thank you R for the book, the idea, and the opportunity. I love this during the summer and at this season in my life. Tonight (Wed.) I heard the testimony of Linda. The end was where she is now and what God is teaching her with her daughter having a stage 4 cancer diagnosis. She said 3 things she has learned, 1. to thank Him, 2. to trust, and 3. to praise. My small study group after the main group includes Linda and her daughter and it has been such a blessing for me these past few weeks. They are a living example of what this book is teaching. Now to the book...The middle of page 12 says, “We live with our hands clenched tight.” I’ve always liked the analogy of clenched fists being unable to receive (or see) God’s blessings. The bottom of page 13 says, “Like all beliefs, you simply live them.” What a great reminder. My view of God, of my circumstances, of my reaction to hardships and trials will be evident in how I live my life. Do I want it to be one of clenched fists or one of thankfulness, trust, and praise?
Page 14 - “That forked tongue darts and daily I live the doubt.” and page 15 talks about the sin of ingratitude. It’s so easy to look and think about what we don’t have rather than give thanks for what we do have. I do want an easy life, but I have one of the most blessed lives on earth! Instead of letting my blood pressure get awry when yet another piece of the interior of my van falls off, down, or stops working, I can thank God that I do have a vehicle to drive and that it has A/C in 103 degree weather! The list goes on. I cast sidelong glances when things aren’t easy for me.
Trust - page 17, 1 Cor. 2:7. His purpose in all that takes place in our lives is to mold us, shape us, bring us to our full glory, even the hardest trials. Amazing. Us writing the story would be a disaster (p. 21). We don’t know His purpose but we do have His promise, so we can fully trust His plan.
Seeing God - page 22 When our souls are torn open, we can react in such a way that opens our sight of God, of His heart-aching beauty and grow. We can wither and close our eyes or grow seeing God clearer than ever.
How do we live fully so we are fully ready to die? (p.29) See the wonder all around us. (Reminded me of Nate’s Tilt-a-Whirl book and DVD which I loved R,Thank you!) The goal is JOY (p. 32). Give thanks in everything. “Eucharisteo-thanksgiving-always precedes the miracle.” Thanksgiving allows us to see. (Ps.50:23 - page 39.) Seeing leads to living fully so that we are fully ready to die.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Painting the piano was a fun project, and it's always nice to get through a task without any mishaps; I once tried to dip my paintbrush in my coffee cup, but that's just me attempting to multitask. Something that immediately struck me is that my piano now looks smaller! Weird, but I like that. Also, I've never admired my piano's legs before now (was that awkward?).

Having never used glaze, I was apprehensive. Something I learned along the way is, you need way, way less than you think. I used about 1/4 - 1/2 cup for the whole piano, so a quart will be plenty for several projects. I used 3 parts glaze to 1 part paint (about). Another handy tip: work in a small area - you will have better control over the look you want. I just brushed on with one hand, and wiped it off with the other (it dries quickly) - pretty simple.

After getting the black glaze on, I liked how it toned down the bright blue, but now I felt like I needed something to tone down the black glaze! Do I have an obsessive problem? I applied a mixture of cream paint, grey paint, and glaze and, voila!, I've toned down the black. But now I felt I needed to blend the whole look a bit (I do have a problem), so I made Aquarium-tinted glaze and did a light application on the large areas only. All of this sounds like a lot of work, but it's not. I used disposable cups to blend glaze and paint, and you use so little, and it dries so quickly that it doesn't take much time. It's easier to deal with than paint. I really do love how it turned out!

I like the end result best, but my stinky camera just doesn't do it justice! My 4 year old tells me "it looks soft and grand".

Thanks for holding my hand along the way! What are your thoughts on how it has turned out?

I'm feeling inspired to start another project....Are you up for it? This proposed project will cost me nothing. That's the type that really appeals to me.

Here's the cost break down, if you're nerdy:
Kilz: $17
Aquarium Paint: $55
wooden scroll: $7
faux glaze: $15
favorite painting jeans: priceless (cheesy, I know)

(First post on the subj. HERE , second post HERE, third post HERE, and you're on the fourth.)

Saturday, February 11, 2012


I tallied the vote and Aquarium won first place with Surfer and Biscay in second.

I have to admit that I'm a little disappointed in the accuracy of my paint swatch which shows a smidgen more grey than the paint in reality possesses thus rendering the color a bit louder than I had anticipated. But we press on. My bff assures me that it looks great so I'm going with that.

I wood glued on a little scroll woodwork to the center that I bought at Lowe's for $7, and I am quite happy about it. Lit~Lass's comment about her piano's embellishments had me wishing for something of the sort but, come on, I can't draw anything, so I went with this instead and am pleased with the result.

The votes were evenly cast on whether to do the black-tinted glaze or to not do the black-tinted glaze, so I'm showing you the picture of the state of the piano as it is now, after 3 coats of Aquarium (semi-gloss Acrylic Latex), in its pre-glaze attire. (I thought about showing what it looked like wearing only the Kilz primer, but it was a bit immodest.)
Wait...one more thing. My camera stinks. The color you see below isn't as accurate as I would like. The real color is something between Aquarium and Synergy.

This is really not a great picture, but here ya go:

So, is everyone sticking with their former opinion on the glaze? I'm inclined toward it as the color is a bit brighter than the swatch I had to go on, but what do you say?

Read the previous post HERE.

Monday, February 6, 2012

blue it is

This is a continuation of this post. I got quite a few opinions (thanks everybody!) via emails and fb comments, as well as some comments here, and BLUE has won hands down! Also, the trim being a different color was met with boos and hisses. So, now comes the nerve-racking time of choosing just the right shade, which I, of course, will rely on you to tell me what in the world that is. So here's the first one, Biscay:

Nice, isn't it? And here's the second one, Aquarium:

And the third, Nifty Turquoise:

Or four, Surfer:

Or am I going all wrong? And for my next question: should I paint it and just let that be it, or should I do a black glaze over the blue like in the pictures below?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

feminism in Jane Austen

There is a lot of discussion (or disgustion, as the case may be) on feminism in Jane Austen. Feminism is a term that means different things to different people so I'm not sure if those who define themselves thus are conjuring up images of bra-burning or making the claim that doormats are doormats and women are women. But the "place of women" and the "place of men" has long been under examination. The desire for the woman to boss the man has been a problem since Eve, but another age-old problem was addressed by Saint Paul, There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal. 3:28) Being one in Christ makes the play for power over one another a non-starter. It does not destroy hierarchy or specific function, but rather subsumes them in the being of love.

Apparently unmindful of perichoresis and Trinitarian dance in being, feminists are obsessed with the dynamics of male-interaction towards women, and the presumed negative effect on the poor female (this itself already assumes the guilt, as well as the scale of value, which it is attacking and trying to disprove). I'm reminded of the lyrics, Anything you can do, /I can do better. /I can do anything /Better than you. One brand of feminists want to eradicate their sexuality by snarling at anything "girlie" and getting a super short femi-nazi haircut to show how manly and equal they can be; while another brand flings their sexuality in all of our faces and dare us to gawk. Meanwhile, back at the Ranch, I've heard men claim superiority in absolutely all things for their sex, which instantly pulls up the mental image of a guy giving birth. If a Judy Garland quote is allowable I will slip it in now, "Be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of someone else”. All this mutual, counter-insanity cries out the question "why?" - why do women (or men) feel we have to fight to hang on to an equality that must be purely imagined? If there is a master gardener and an exceptionally talented ballet dancer and we wanted to chart the equality of the two, what would we even be talking about, gardening or ballet? It's ridonkulous. They are absolutely unequal - one might as well compare the power of wind versus the strength of a lion. Aristotle understood this, and he lived a very long time ago. It is only in this mindset of a literal and degraded sensate equality that being feminine and womanly has to mean giving up a supposed position at the top; it's almost as stomach-turning as a foppish, effeminate man who asserts his right to sink to the bottom (as I guess he sees it). It is the desire for various forms of power, clawing for every scrap, not the desire for that which is true, good, and beautiful. This desire to dominate in a naked way or to outdo a perceived imbecility in women causes men to prey on those who are weaker and softer, either passively or actively through aggression. This (then) turns women into manipulative instruments of torture. All it really is, on either side, is Power for self & Black magic.

So what does this have to do with Jane Austen?

paint the piano?

Okay, folks, so I'm thinking of painting my piano. What at first sounded like a crazy idea is now sounding rather snazzy. So here is a picture of what my piano looks like now:

Notice the color of the room as this plays into the whole decor thing, and vote for your favorite color/picture or suggest something all your own. I need help!


And this is just a great picture:

I've also played with the idea of doing the trim in a contrasting color. Good idea? Bad idea? (The post is continued here.)