Posts By Lisa

The things you find in the sandbox

Haven’t done a bug post in a while so when I found this one in the sandbox today I thought I’d put it up.

It was about 1.5 -2 inches long. Here’s another pic with a kid’s shovel for perspective. You can also see its underside in this one (it had flipped onto its back).

Yup. Florida’s got bugs. Anybody know what it is?

What I learned over summer vacation

I’ll warn you now: this may be long. So if you don’t have a minute or two, just stop reading now.

To preface, I’ve been in a bit of a spiritual funk lately.  I’ve been totally unable to get myself to spend any time reading the bible or anything else that might offer spiritual guidance. Praying has felt like talking to the ceiling. And I really haven’t cared.

For years, I’ve felt emotionally disengaged from anything spiritual. And I’ve been fine with that. Emotions are fickle things, not something I want to base anything as significant as my spiritual life on. No matter how I feel, certain things are true. God is real. He is sovereign. He loves me. Even when circumstances make it hard to feel that way, that is Truth. I will base my life on what I know to be true, not what I feel.

But then, I started to forget how I know these truths to be true. The forgetting happened slowly, without me really being aware of it. I reached a point where I would sing the songs at church on Sunday, questioning whether I truly believed what I sang. I certainly didn’t feel amazed at the grace of God, and now I wasn’t even sure I knew it to be true. I knew that I used to know, but I could no longer remember why. It bothered me.

Then we went to Colorado this summer. Listened to some great speakers like Tim Keller and Keith Battle. I felt like the seized-up gears of my brain were starting to be oiled, just a little.  Then we heard Josh McDowell speak, and got a copy of his book “More than a Carpenter.” It’s a little book that I read years ago, probably in college, but had forgotten most of. Rereading that made those rusty gears start turning again. (If you’ve never read it, I highly recommend it.)  I remembered how and why I have based my life on certain truths, and once again knew that I really do believe those truths.  My intellect was again engaged with the one true God. And it was good.

Once my brain began to reconnect with the truth of God’s word and God’s world, I started to consider my emotions. It began with spending some time in the mountains. Looking around me, I was reminded that the creator of all the majesty, beauty, power, and even fragility that was before me had also created me. Loved me. Sacrificed himself for me. And I felt something. A sense of awe, of thankfulness, of wonder.

The last night of our conference, I thought about how I’d felt on the mountain and began to ponder why I don’t like to show emotion when it relates to spiritual matters. What am I afraid of? And I realized that for years, I have feared that allowing my emotions to surface would make me think less. Back in college, I was briefly involved with a group that put a lot of emphasis on “feeling” spiritual, and not so much on really knowing God. If you didn’t have the right feelings and the right emotional reactions, then you must not be spiritual enough. Ever since, I’ve pushed back against that by saying that emotions have nothing to do with it. And they don’t. But they do.

That night in Colorado, I realized that it is possible for me to engage both my mind and my emotions. Emotions aren’t a spiritual barometer. They’re not stable enough to use as a foundation for anything. But they can be part of an appropriate response to the love of an almighty God.

Now, don’t expect me to go getting all teary-eyed every time I speak (or sing) about God. That’s just not me. But I hope that I’ll continue to trust both God and those around me enough to know that I can be intellectually engaged and still allow my emotions to flow.

Adventures in cake decorating

I made a princess cake for Bethany’s birthday. It wasn’t too difficult, but someone asked me to document the process. So here goes!

I baked the cake in a Pampered Chef 8-cup batter bowl (which I borrowed from a friend). I also borrowed a cake doll torso thing (don’t know exactly what they’re called, it’s like a Barbie from the waist up but a spike from the waist down). Unfortunately there was some kind of mishap with Barbie the Spike and her arms were no longer attached to her body. They couldn’t be reattached, so on to Plan B!

I raided the girls’ boxful of Barbies and pulled out a Cinderella. Perfect! Almost. Unfortunately, her legs were too long–her hips would have stuck out of the cake–so they had to come off.  I was able to snap them off carefully and put them back on when we were done. I wrapped her lower body tightly with several layers of plastic wrap so we wouldn’t end up with cake and frosting inside her.  The only plastic wrap I have on hand right now happens to be red. It ended up looking pretty gruesome, a dismembered doll looking like she’s wrapped in red bandages. The girls thought it was pretty hilarious!

Anyway. I baked the cake the night before I needed it. I used two devil’s food cake mixes. When I filled the batter bowl there was a bit of cake batter left over, so I put it into an 8″ round cake pan. Good thing, too–I ended up using it. I set the temp and timer according to the package and took the round cake out then (35 mins or so). The bowl cake ended up taking about 50 minutes, I think. I just kept testing it with a long bamboo skewer. It did fall in the middle and ended up with quite a bubble there, but it didn’t matter–that was on the bottom and hidden when all was said and done. I froze the baked cakes overnight. It’s much easier to frost and decorate a frozen cake–far fewer crumbs.

Party day. I made a real buttercream frosting. I wouldn’t do that again for decorating. Very, very tasty but it melts at room temperature. I kept having to stick the bowl of frosting and the cake into the fridge, and my hands into a bowl of ice water. Next time I’ll either just buy prepared frosting or make a shortening-based frosting (ew).

Assembly was pretty easy. I realized that the doll looked too big for the “skirt” when it was just the cake baked in the bowl, so I sliced off the domed top of each cake to level them and put the 8″ round underneath, like so:

Except of course I put frosting between the layers. The decorating was pretty straightforward after that. First, a crumb coat:

Then, a top coat. I gently dragged a bread knife vertically through the frosting to make the ridges.

I’d bought some Disney Princess glitter cake decorating gel, which I used for the sashes and stripes on the skirt.

I did the purple first, then the rosettes (I tinted the rest of the frosting after I’d finished the ridged coat), then the stripes.  I cut a hole in the top for the Barbie (I intentionally cut the hole small so she’d fit tightly) after I’d pretty much finished the skirt. I started piping rosettes onto the torso for the bodice, but everything was getting really melty by then despite keeping the frosting in the fridge and repeatedly sticking the whole cake in there for a while. I had a scary moment when I thought the cake wasn’t going to fit in the fridge, but luckily Barbie’s head was jointed and I was able to tip it to get her to fit.

(I think I may have to bust into that Celebrator later tonight, even if it was Tim’s Father’s day gift.) Eventually I was able to finish piping the rosettes on the doll, then decided to do the top of the cake too. I also added straps to the dress with the decorator gel, since the girls complained that she looked weird without them.

I should have stopped there, but I added a bit more purple gel to the top of the skirt to try to tie the parts together. I liked it better before I did that, but couldn’t scrape it off without destroying the rosettes and I was almost out of frosting.

I used the last bit of buttercream to pipe rosettes directly onto the plate, and stuck candles into them.

So there it is. Things I’d do differently: get a doll that’s intended for cakes; don’t use a butter-based frosting; stop sooner.

Maybe I’ll do another post on how I made the castle for Ellie’s birthday.

Just heard from Tim

He’s still in Amsterdam. The airline gave him a credit for a 5-minute call so we actually spoke. They did miss their original flight to Nairobi, but there is another 12 hours later instead of 24. They’ll be taking that (another red-eye, the second in a row) in just a few hours, then will have to go straight from the airport to the set. Filming has already started without them. He won’t get to his hotel for another 24 hours or more.

Pray that they’ll all get some sleep on the flight, that all the baggage will arrive with them, and for safe travels in air and on land.

Edited to add: just found some flight details. He leaves Amsterdam at 9:00pm Saturday (3:00pm Eastern), arrives in Nairobi at 6:35am Sunday (11:35pm Eastern).

Update from Tim

Tim’s flight from Minneapolis to Amsterdam has been delayed by more than 4 hours, which means he’s probably going to miss his connection from Amsterdam to Nairobi. The next flight to Nairobi isn’t for another 24 hours. He’s traveling in a group of five, so he’s not all on his own. If he does end up in Amsterdam for 24 hours he should have access to internet and will be able to post an update from there.

Edited to add: the flight was delayed due to mechanical problems. They made repairs, loaded the passengers, pushed back from the gate, and had the problem again. So they had to deplane and wait for more repairs. As of right now (7:30 EDT) the estimated departure is 6:45 pm CDT, with an estimated arrival in Amsterdam at 9:51 am. The flight from Amsterdam to Nairobi is scheduled for 10:15 am. Unless they get off on time or early and have some wicked strong tailwinds it doesn’t look good for them making the connection.

Edit #2: According to NWA’s website, the plane left the gate at 7:34 pm CDT but has not taken off yet (at 8:40 EDT), estimated arrival in Amsterdam of 10:40 am. Looks like they’ll be spending some time in the Netherlands.