Yikes!

Well, it’s been quite a day. Day 5 with no hot water or air conditioning, in case you’re keeping track. I was a woman on a mission this morning. Having finished my class outline for this weekend (a whole day early!), I decided I would boldly attempt my second-ever PowerPoint presentation.

PowerPoint is not intuitive for me, but since I had a whole day to do it, I went ahead and Googled everything I couldn’t figure out. It was tedious and mentally taxing, but by midafternoon I had a 53-slide presentation to put together. And yes, I do know I’m going to have to gallop through them very fast to get through in one hour!

Meanwhile, other stuff happened too. I did three sink loads of laundry by hand because I was out of time and my clothes have to have time to dry before tomorrow!

Late in the morning our flooring was delivered! The guy had a cool semi-truck with a forklift on the back. And when he got out to talk to me, it turned out to be a guy that Walter and I went to college with. Jasper got out the dolly and made many trips from the driveway to the living room to get all those boxes of flooring brought into the house.

Once the flooring was here, Lucy and I went to Walmart to get a few necessary things, and quite a few unnecessary things. She had this vision of making a Halloween carrot cake that would be stuffed with candy. In other words, something I couldn’t even look at without spiking my blood sugar!

It was another glorious warm but not hot day, and Jasper climbed up to his treehouse and took a nap!

After Walter got off work (his first job), he worked on putting the new motor into the air conditioner, but when he was done, it still didn’t work. It was pretty discouraging. Spencer called his boss (the heating and air conditioning guy on campus) and he came by after work and guess what? He got it going! That was a relief.

When Walter got back from his second job, we had supper and then he went off to buy a new water heater. It is hard to lose the money we had saved for van repairs, but having hot water in the house is definitely a higher priority at the moment!

After he returned, Spencer helped him manhandle the new heater into the laundry room and get it hooked up. As I type this there is warm water coming from the tap! So after the deprivations of the week, our flooring arrived, our air conditioner was fixed, and our hot water heater was replaced all in the same day!

Obviously this has been a very stressful week for my husband, with all these problems hanging over his head. Of course it has been very inconvenient for me to do without hot water, but I haven’t stressed out over it, and you know why? Because I have complete and total confidence in my husband. When stuff breaks down around here, I know I don’t need to panic because my husband will take care of it. In the last couple of weeks he has built a very sturdy treehouse, patched up and painted our living room, figured out what was wrong with our air conditioner, got the right motor for it, put it back in, done everything that could be done to fix our old water heater, researched and bought a new one, and installed it. That kind of peace of mind is priceless!

Tomorrow I head to Marshall for the writers’ conference and I would appreciate your prayers. I have worked so hard to prepare and I want it to go well! It would be really nice if I actually get some people in my workshops too. . . .

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The Cold-Water Saga Continues

Today, of course, I had plenty to do to continue preparing for the class I’ll be teaching. I have never in my life put this much effort into one hour’s worth of material!

But first, I took Lucy up to her classes on the north side of town. She could have gone with the neighbors, but I needed to get to Walmart to buy some insulin, and I figured taking her to class would force me to get out of the house!

I assumed Walmart’s pharmacy would be open at 8:00, so I got there at about 8:30, only to find it closed. Rather than stay in the store, where I’d be tempted to spend money, I went back out to the car and dozed until 9:00.

On my way to pick Lucy up, I stopped at Hobby Lobby to get a couple of things. Someone called my name as I was walking in and it was my friend Darenda, whom I’ve known for 14 years but rarely see anymore. Here’s the weird thing though: every single time I do see her, it’s at Hobby Lobby. I’m talking two or three times a year. Me: “How come I only ever see you at Hobby Lobby?” Her: “Because we’re both just so dang crafty!”

When I picked Lucy up, I planned to head out to the yarn store as I was looking for some yarn that Hobby Lobby didn’t have. I thought I knew how to get there from the church where Lucy had her classes. I was so, so wrong.

I knew I was not going the right way fairly early on, but I didn’t actually care. It was a fabulous, beautiful day with sunshine but no searing heat and low humidity. We drove on and on, chatting happily as we went. Eventually, we hit a highway, but it was not the highway I was aiming for! Somehow I ended up way, way in the opposite direction!

It took a long time to get back across and reach the yarn store (also known as The Realm of Perpetual Bliss and Serenity). The two serene sisters were there, and delighted to see me. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the specific yarn I was looking for, so I actually left empty-handed.

After getting home at last, I had to leave again with Jasper to get him signed up for a 4-H camp for next month. I hope he enjoys it!

Meanwhile, my poor husband was not having a good day. When he called to get the information he needed for the water heater warranty, he found out that our warranty had not been renewed the last time we got the water heater replaced (even though we were told it was). So, no free new water heater for us. When he got off work, he raced to the plumbing supply place and got there with 5 minutes to spare. They sold him some parts and he came home and spent the entire evening replacing the parts and hooking the whole thing back up again.

It didn’t work. It looks like our only option is to buy a new water heater. I guarantee it won’t be the same brand! And doing so means that necessary repairs on the van will have to wait for several months now. *sigh* Meanwhile, I guess I’m going to have to wash some clothes by hand tomorrow because I have to have stuff ready to wear for the conference!

A Needy Neighbor and a Necessary Bath

This morning my willingness to remain unwashed reached its limit. I was so glad to have a 12-gallon pot in which to heat water! It took well over an hour, and then I still had to earn my bath by lugging one gallon of boiling water at a time from the kitchen to the bathroom. I think I made ten trips!

The reward was an actual warm bath, resulting in clean hair and body. Oh, what luxury!

I had some critiquing to finish today too, but my main focus was wrestling with my preparations for the class I’ll be teaching this weekend. I have been collecting information for months, and over the last few days I have tried to figure out how best to organize and present it, but it didn’t start falling into place until today. By the time I had to leave for critique group, I was pretty jazzed about the class and looking forward to it! My outline is finally coming together.

Meanwhile, the doorbell rang this afternoon, and Jasper answered it. It was a boy who had recently moved into our neighborhood, going around introducing himself to the neighbors. Jasper came to get me to meet him and I did. This kid, who is turning 18 this week, came across as overpoweringly needy. He was lonely and very anxious to make friends. He made sure we knew that his birthday is in two days and that his parents do not celebrate it. Over the course of the afternoon he was back three more times, wanting to see Jasper who had gone to help out at the afterschool program like he always does on Tuesdays.

Later, as I was leaving to go to my critique group, this boy was talking to Jasper in our front yard. When I returned home I heard about the conversation. It turns out this young man is an openly gay drug user and I have to admit it makes me very uncomfortable that he seems to be so interested in my fourteen-year-old son. Jasper agrees that it is probably a good idea to limit contact with this young man. Still, my heart goes out to him. He is so lonely and so anxious to make friends. I don’t think he has any idea how conservative and Christian most of our neighborhood is, and I don’t know how to show Christ’s love to him and still protect my son.

Once again, my critique partners were invaluable in pointing out areas of my work that need help. Month by month, they are helping me become a better writer! At the meeting following our critique session we talked about blogging. I ran my mouth a lot because I was the most experienced blogger in the room!

We were hoping to be able to replace the water heater this evening, but when Walter went up to Lowe’s he discovered there are new hoops to jump through if you want to replace a water heater under warranty. One requirement is that he get a certain number which can only be got from the manufacturer, who of course is only open during business hours. So, maybe if he can call and get the number tomorrow, we can get the water heater tomorrow night. I envision another day of keeping the 12-gallon pot simmering on the stove. We got the new motor for the air conditioner today but I don’t think it’s been installed yet. No sign of the new flooring either!

Of Star Wars Novelists and Defunct Appliances

This year has somehow become my year of Star Wars novelists, despite the fact that I think I have only read one Star Wars novel, and it made such an impression on me that I can’t remember what it was called or anything else about it. I met my first Star Wars novelist two years ago, at the very first Realm Makers conference. Kathy Tyers was one of my suitemates, and I had no idea that she was a big deal. I just thought she was a very nice and fun lady, which she is. Then I went to her class and found out about her writing for Star Wars, and texted my son Spencer, who is kind of a Star Wars fanatic, and he was so jealous that I was rubbing shoulders with one of his heroes!

This year, as you might remember, I went to a writers’ conference in Dallas, and probably my favorite presenter there was Kevin J. Anderson, another big-name bestselling Star Wars novelist and another of Spencer’s heroes. I got a couple of his books and had him sign them for Spencer’s birthday. His classes were excellent!

Then I went to Realm Makers and signed up for the editing track, which was taught by David Farland, yet another bestselling Star Wars novelist! His classes were well worth the cost of the whole conference by themselves.

Finally, this past weekend, there was a con in a nearby town, to which I dearly wanted to go, especially after finding out that Star Wars novelist Timothy Zahn would be speaking. I just could not justify the time or expense, given the other stuff going on. However, Spencer and Kat did go. Spencer went to get a book signed by Zahn, and had a nice conversation with him, during which he mentioned that his mother was also a writer. So, without being asked, Zahn autographed a sticker for Spencer to bring home to me!

Yesterday didn’t turn out at all the way I’d hoped. We got all the potluck food together and went to church in the pouring rain. It was the biggest crowd there we’ve seen in years! We had a special speaker who is a missionary to Russia. His sermon was good, but longer than we are used to.

The potluck went well. I sat down at a table with the parents of a college student who goes to our church. Imagine my surprise when I found out that the wife was the college roommate of my husband’s cousin, whose name is also Linda! We had a very enjoyable conversation.

The kids and I left right as the potluck was winding down because I got a text from Spencer saying they he and Mercy were locked out of the house (they attend different churches). After we arrived home, I figured that I had time for a short nap before jumping into work on the independence day dinner.

The only problem was that when I woke up, I had a stomachache. I got the relish (stew) put together and the dessert in the oven and the mandazi dough made, but by then I realized that I was not going to be able to keep going. So I handed the nshima recipe to Lucy, wished her well, and went to bed where I could moan and clutch my stomach without bothering anyone.

Walter set up tables on the bare plywood in the living room and they had a good dinner, judging by the laughter and conversation that wafted into the room where I lay. I heard them sing the Zambian National Anthem too. By the time everyone left, I was feeling a little better, but I didn’t really feel back to normal until about lunchtime today. I am assuming that I ate something at the potluck that really didn’t agree with me.

The day ended up on a discouraging note when Walter found out that the hot water heater had died again, for the second time in two days–and remember, the air conditioner is broken too! Today after work Walter pulled the motor off the air conditioner and will hopefully be able to find a replacement that is not too expensive. Fortunately, the weather has remained cool enough for us to be comfortable indoors without air conditioning–and the rain finally stopped!

The water heater though! This is the latest episode in an ongoing saga. Walter spent hours this evening trying to get the water heater back up and running, but finally admitted defeat and started heating water on the stove so he can take a lukewarm bath. This means we will have to get the heater replaced–again. I think this will be the fourth time we’ve replaced the water heater under warranty. It’s kind of a stupid system that perpetuates a stupid design. The guys at Lowe’s admit this is a badly-designed water heater. Each one has lasted us an average of three years. When they fail, they are still under warranty so we can get them replaced for “free.” (It’s a really big hassle, but it can be done.) Each time, the dead heater gets replaced with a new version of the same inferior heater, thus guaranteeing the cycle will repeat itself. Grrr!

Meanwhile, we’ll be heating up lots of water on the stove for baths, because you can only go unwashed for so long before you can’t stand yourself!

Quote of the Day:

Jasper, after a restless night: “I’m crazy during the day and crazy in my sleep. I’ve got a good crazy schedule!”

All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name

All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name

Edward Perronet

All hail the power of Jesus’ Name! Let angels prostrate fall;
Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Him Lord of all.
Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Him Lord of all.

Let highborn seraphs tune the lyre, and as they tune it, fall
Before His face Who tunes their choir, and crown Him Lord of all.
Before His face Who tunes their choir, and crown Him Lord of all.

Crown Him, ye morning stars of light, who fixed this floating ball;
Now hail the strength of Israel’s might, and crown Him Lord of all.
Now hail the strength of Israel’s might, and crown Him Lord of all.

Crown Him, ye martyrs of your God, who from His altar call;
Extol the Stem of Jesse’s Rod, and crown Him Lord of all.
Extol the Stem of Jesse’s Rod, and crown Him Lord of all.

Ye seed of Israel’s chosen race, ye ransomed from the fall,
Hail Him Who saves you by His grace, and crown Him Lord of all.
Hail Him Who saves you by His grace, and crown Him Lord of all.

Hail Him, ye heirs of David’s line, whom David Lord did call,
The God incarnate, Man divine, and crown Him Lord of all,
The God incarnate, Man divine, and crown Him Lord of all.

Sinners, whose love can ne’er forget the wormwood and the gall,
Go spread your trophies at His feet, and crown Him Lord of all.
Go spread your trophies at His feet, and crown Him Lord of all.

Let every tribe and every tongue before Him prostrate fall
And shout in universal song the crownèd Lord of all.
And shout in universal song the crownèd Lord of all.

O that, with yonder sacred throng, we at His feet may fall,
Join in the everlasting song, and crown Him Lord of all,
Join in the everlasting song, and crown Him Lord of all!

 

A Rainy Independence Day

The most important thing about today is that it is Zambian Independence Day–51 years! We are delaying our celebration until tomorrow, when it will apparently still be raining. It rained all night, and when I woke up this morning well before dawn I was hot and sweaty. When you are my age, and a woman, you make certain assumptions when you feel hot, and I assumed I was having what my friend Gwen calls a “tropical moment.”

What actually happened was that our air conditioner had stopped. *sigh* At least it is not really hot right now. Jasper and I went to WalMart, and I filled up the car for $2.73 per gallon! Since it continued to rain, there was no outside work today, so Walter and Mercy and Lucy went to work on the living room. They finished painting the trim. Walter got the drapes back up and the newly-painted cornice.

Then they went to work cutting the carpet and padding into strips and rolling it up and hauling it out. Just in case you wondered, 64-year old carpet is pretty nasty. After 64 years, a lot of the nails in the plywood floor had worked their way loose, so Walter had to crawl around on the floor hammering in nail after nail. There also was some sanding and patching that had to be done. Our hope of actually getting started on new floor installation faded away.

We did decide to at least go out after supper (in the rain) and buy the laminate for the floor. Walter had researched it very thoroughly, and knew exactly where to find it in the store. The question was, what shade of fake wood did we want? My personal preference is a dark wood look–something in the neighborhood of walnut. I will never get a floor like that, mind you, because my husband likes very light floors–the lightest possible oak, for instance. The kids, who came with us, voted on a rich-looking maple, and it seemed like a pretty good compromise. It’s a little lighter than I like, but I don’t hate it, and it’s definitely darker than Walter likes, but he doesn’t hate it either.

The only problem with our choice was that they don’t keep it in stock in the store. We had to order it but won’t have it for a few days. So, our Zambian dinner tomorrow is going to be a challenge. Normally we eat outdoors where we have plenty of room and plenty of tables and chairs. Tomorrow, though, we’ll also have plenty of rain. So we will probably come up with some sort of makeshift arrangement on the plywood in the living room. Now I’m kind of glad most of the people we invited aren’t able to come!

After we paid for the flooring, Mercy took us all out for ice cream at the Baskin Robbin’s across the street. We so rarely have outings like that, but she wanted to celebrate all the hard work they got done in the living room today.

So what was I doing while all this work was going on? Well, I had plenty to do. We have a potluck at church tomorrow and are hosting a dinner here in the evening. I cooked and “picked” chicken, cooked quinoa, and made gluten-free brownies. I drove off in search of a couple of ingredients that Walmart didn’t have, and got a new little calendar and a few other odds and ends.

But mostly, what I did was research and plan and put together information for the class I’ll be teaching at the East Texas Christian Writers Conference a week from today. I’ve been collecting bits of information for the last couple of months, but the time has come to create a coherent outline and figure out what I really want to cover in my one hour! I would appreciate prayer this week as I work to prepare. I want to present a really great and informative class.

 

Try Again

Back in the early 1990s, when we were living in Zambia, there was an eatery in the nearby “boma” that called itself the “Try Again Restaurant.” We were all curious about it. Eventually, some of the younger and more adventurous missionaries went to eat there and came back with a report.

“We know where the name came from,” they said. “No matter what you order from the menu, they’ll say, ‘Sorry, we are fresh out of that. Try again.’” It seems that all they actually served was nshima (cornmeal mush) and a vegetable sauce.

I thought of the Try Again Restaurant tonight as I tried to get supper in the pouring rain. Thanks to a misjudgment on my part, I didn’t have everything I needed to make the supper I had intended, so I offered to get pizza for the family. I myself planned to get some chicken since I can’t eat pizza.

I picked up the pizza quickly and then headed to the chicken place. When I placed my order, the cashier warned me that they had no chicken ready and it would be a 15 minute wait. Really? In the middle of supper time they were out of chicken at a fried chicken place? Still, I thought I could wait 15 minutes and still get home before Walter and Spencer returned from work, so I went ahead and placed my order. The line in front of me had evaporated once everyone learned about the wait.

I pulled up to the window and paid. My meal came with a drink, so I had ordered a Dr. Pepper for my husband since I can’t have soft drinks. The cashier apologized, but they were out of Dr. Pepper. In Texas? How can this be? I switched my order to root beer, which my husband also enjoys.

Then I waited. And waited. And waited. Longer than 15 minutes. Lucy thought I’d been killed in an accident. I was a hostage of that place because I had already paid! The cashier returned and offered me a free apple pie to appease me for having to wait so long. Then she came back and asked me what pieces of chicken I wanted. It was almost done, apparently. One more time she returned with bad news. “My manager says to tell you she is very sorry, but we are out of coleslaw.” (One of the two sides I had ordered with my meal.) By then I’d waited half an hour!

I ask you, what kind of Southern fried chicken joint runs out of chicken, Dr. Pepper, and coleslaw at the same time in the middle of the supper rush? I won’t be in a hurry to go back! At least Walter got a free apple pie out of the deal.

Today Jasper went back to help at the Harvest Festival concession stand, since they were shorthanded. I got some things done but mostly I tried to stay awake. It has been a very exhausting week. After picking Jasper up, I was able to get some “de-glosser” for the doorframes in the living room since they really need paint too.

Now I have a pounding headache from the de-glossing fumes but the door frames are looking great thanks to my husband. And Lucy has created a great decorative pattern on the newly-painted cornice.

It’s still raining. It’s supposed to rain all weekend. We need the rain, but it would have been nice to get it in smaller doses!

A Virtual Trip to the Middle East

First of all, an apology. Yesterday I insinuated that Lucy hadn’t properly secured the pictures to the backgrounds for Jasper’s Harvest Festival entries. I was mistaken. She did an excellent job and I’m not sure why the pictures were cockeyed after being transported to the convention center.

This morning I got Jasper up early so I could take him to the Harvest Festival to work the concession stand for the morning. We got there shortly after 7:00, but lots of people were already there and the poultry cages were already lined up in preparation for judging. After dropping Jasper off, I had to smile when I walked past the cages and heard the unmistakable cackle of guinea fowl. Always reminds me of home!

I stopped at the grocery store on the way home for a couple of last-minute ingredients for today’s Middle Eastern feast. My student Chandler was making the bulk of the meal, but I wanted to provide some pita bread, salad, and a dessert. I had bought pita bread for the others to eat, but of course I can’t have it, so I had found a gluten-free pita recipe I wanted to try, and also a recipe for an Arab dessert known as “luquaimat.” I made the dough for both and left them to rise while I worked on clearing space in the dining room. If we moved the chairs out, we could sit on the couch and still watch videos on my computer set up on the dining room table.

Making the pita was tedious (one at a time) but they came out looking pretty good. The luquaimat had to be deep fried, and I also had to make a syrup for them, flavored with cardamom, saffron, and vanilla. The dough didn’t brown like I expected, but it seemed to be cooked through.

Chandler was a little late, but she arrived bearing tabouli, falafel, and rice.

10-22-15 tabouli, falafel, rice

We cut the pita into “pockets.”

10-22-15 pita

My GF pita (the floury one on the right) did not separate into two layers by itself, but it was quite easy to cut the pocket with a knife. We also had some simple salad:

10-22-15 salad

I showed the girls how to make a sandwich by stuffing a pita pocket with falafel and salad. Alas, I had no hummus or we could have added that as well! This is how our Israeli friend taught us to do it. I can’t even explain to you how surprised and delighted I was that my GF pita was actually tasty!

While we ate our lunch, we watched a video about Israel. It was very interesting in more than one way. The host of the video, Peter Greenberg, is given a tour of Israel by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. We learned about Netanyahu’s past, met his family, and followed him to his parents’ grave site. He mentioned several times that Israel is a place sacred to three religions–Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. However, he barely acknowledged Christianity or sites of interest to Christians. The church of the Holy Sepulcher was mentioned in passing, but there was no mention of Nazareth, Bethlehem, or the Sea of Galilee. We did get to see Masada, the Dead Sea, the Old City of Jerusalem, and the Jordan river, where the Prime Minister went rafting!

It was a fascinating tour, and well worth watching.

When the video ended, we had our dessert. The luquaimat actually looked a lot like the picture on the website where I got the recipe:

10-22-15 Luquaimat

I also made a pot of mint tea, and served it in some tiny cups.

10-22-15 mint tea

These little handle-less cups were given to us years ago by a student who had grown up in the Middle East. I have treasured them ever since, but rarely get a chance to use them.

After that it was a galloping tour through the Middle East, trying to include interesting details about each country, and finishing with a partial video tour of Iran.

Jasper returned home during my class, and as soon as it was over he and Lucy and I took off for the Harvest Festival to pick up his entries. To be honest, I was a little surprised that the hazelnut apple torte only got a red ribbon, because we all thought it was fabulous. Maybe it tasted too European! His photo and picture also got red ribbons:

IMG_8810

He was a little disappointed I think that he didn’t get any blue ribbons, but we consoled him by pointing out that in past years the judging has made no sense at all, so he really has nothing to feel bad about! And he had a great time working the concession stand too. I have to admit I’m a tiny bit relieved that his cake didn’t place, because the auction is so stressful and truly terrifying!

After today’s lunch, Lucy was in a falafel kind of mood, so she made some for us to have with our supper. Yum!

And my beloved longsuffering husband again worked on painting the living room so I could try to get assignments ready to send out. Now I have exactly one week to finish preparing for the class I’ll be teaching at the writers’ conference next weekend!

 

All About Harvest Festival

I wasn’t really looking forward to today, but of course it came whether I wanted it to or not! Lucy left for her classes and I worked on Geography stuff until Jasper got up and did his morning stuff. He had signed up to enter a photograph in the Harvest Festival but had not even taken one yet!

I sent him out onto the campus while I showered and dressed, thinking that if he didn’t find anything interesting there I could take him somewhere when he returned.

However, to my delight he found plenty of stuff to photograph, including several of a single large hibiscus flower. He chose one of the hibiscus photos to enter, so I uploaded it for him. Soon afterwards, I left to pick up Lucy and stopped to get a plate for the torte and some cardstock to use as mattes for the photo and picture Jasper did.

After getting Lucy, it was on to pick up the photo from the drugstore and then home to supervise the making of another hazelnut apple torte. Jasper had to do it all himself, but I was free to give him advice. Shortly after it came out of the oven it was time to head out to piano.

On the way home from piano, we stopped at the grocery store so I could pick up some plastic wrap to cover the torte with. While in the store, I saw a young mother with her toddler. About one-third of her face was covered with a massive bruise. I felt so helpless. I know nothing about her. For all I know, she could have had a bad fall (done that myself) or been in a car accident (ditto) or had something fall on her. But I couldn’t help wondering if that bruise was the evidence of abuse, and all I could do was to pray for her as I watched her check out ahead of me.

As soon as we got home I had to plate the torte. Easier said than done. The ring of the springform pan came off beautifully, but the bottom was a different matter. Some cracking occurred. It was too late to do anything so we just had to take it as it was.

10-21-15 Jasper with torte

Meanwhile, Lucy and Jasper had walked to the store to get a couple of inexpensive picture frames for his photo and picture. Once we had everything ready, Jasper and I set off for the Harvest Festival and submitted his work. To our dismay, we discovered that Lucy hadn’t secured the pictures to the background cardstock, so both were now crooked! Nothing we could do about it though. The judging is tomorrow. On the way home, we stopped off to get some pita bread for tomorrow’s Geography class.

Since then, I’ve been pretty busy preparing for tomorrow’s class. Walter got some more painting done in the living room. I think the floor job may start happening this weekend. Tomorrow it will be an early morning taking Jasper to help at the Harvest Festival concession stand first thing.

A Torte, Two Haircuts, and Painting

The next 11 days are going to be pretty wild, and I’m already starting to panic. This morning after doing some school work first thing, I got Jasper going on making the “trial” version of his apple-themed Harvest Festival entry. When I heard the theme was apples this year, I thought it would be the perfect time to bring back what used to be my husband’s favorite dessert back in the day–a Swedish recipe for apple torte.

I had bought the hazelnuts yesterday so we had all the ingredients. The “crust” of this torte is more like cake or a soft cookie, not like a pie crust. The filling is apples, obviously, and they are topped with a topping of chopped hazelnuts, sugar, lemon juice, and butter. I was pretty excited to be making it for the first time in over 20 years. Jasper peeled and chopped all the apples, and I made the crust and topping. (Tomorrow he will have to do it all himself, but I wanted to “test” the recipe today.)

While the torte was in the oven, I trimmed Flynn’s hair at his request, and then did Jasper’s too since he really needed it. The torte came out looking fabulous:

10-20-15 Swedish Apple Torte

By then it was lunchtime, and again we ate out on the patio. After lunch, I had my class out on the patio while Flynn, Mercy, Spencer and Lucy all went out for some sibling time. (Jasper had made other plans and was devastated when he learned that he’d missed the outing.)

While I was teaching Walter started painting in the living room, after having primed all the dark spots last night. Mercy and Lucy eventually joined him. The room looks so much brighter! The old paint, though probably a similar off-white originally, had become so dark and dingy over the decades that the new paint seems almost blindingly white by comparison. It will be such an encouragement to have that room looking so much better when we’re done.

I heated up some ground nut stew so Flynn could have an early supper before heading to Dallas to catch his flight. He also got the first taste of the torte and he really loved it! Walter and Mercy delayed going to work so they could stay to say goodbye to Flynn. I took some photos:

10-20-15 Flynn

10-20-15 Jasper and Flynn

10-20-15 Lucy and Flynn

10-20-15 5 kids together

And then he was gone. It is hard to say goodbye but at least we know we’ll see him for Christmas. We had our supper out on the patio and then Walter and Mercy went to work. I had more than enough to keep me busy. Everybody loved the apple torte–except the one person I thought would love it the most! Oh well–tomorrow’s effort will be going to the Harvest Festival anyway.

I forgot to mention that Jasper also did some painting first thing this morning:

10-20-15 treehouse painted

Now the treehouse has a couple coats of paint and the paint has been used up. I am sure we will need more, but right now he is very happy with the bright cheery look of the white. There is much more to come, from what I’ve heard.

This evening Walter and the girls got more painting done in the living room. This means that we are that much closer to being able to start on the floor . . .

Tomorrow Jasper has to make a whole new torte by himself, take a photo, get it printed and framed, frame the artwork he did today, and get it all over to the Harvest Festival! And guess who’s got to make sure it all gets done?

Parting Shot:

10-20-15 5 silly kids