Once in a blue moon, I get in a Martha Stewart mood. This usually means that I A) do something involving lots of attention to detail -OR- B) make something pretty, but ultimately useless. Today I made this really yummy Pumpkin Spice Bread, and then was in the mood to do a little bit of cleaning. That rarely happens--that is, it rarely happens that I'm cleaning and wanting to clean at the same time. :) Usually I'm grumbling the whole time and cursing my mess-making & procrastinating tendencies. Today, though, for some reason, I decided to tackle the grout in between our floor tiles. The grout has been dark and dirty since we moved in, and since I have not paid any special attention to it other than the (very) occasional mopping, it was begging for a good thorough cleaning. I heard from Awesome Sarah that baking soda would work, but then I also heard (on HGTV, Phill's most hated of channels....) that baking soda mixed with hydrogen peroxide was good, too. So this morning, In an effort to justify my procrastinating my workout, I tackled the floor with a toothbrush and my peroxide-soda mixture. (See how that works? I tell myself it's okay if I don't work out today because oh-look-how-clean-the-house-is....after three months of regular working out--that's right, I did it!--I'm having to muster lots of motivation.) The results were too great to pass up for a Before & After picture. And besides, I love a good Before & After picture.
Oh hi, Grout! At last your true colors are discovered..... After my puny only-doing-this-because-I-should workout, and after taking Reed to school, the Martha Stewart craze returned and I decided to make peppermint bark (this may be the fifth time I've done it this month) to bring to Reed's class, to whom I read Polar Express today. And I actually took pictures this time! And I'm posting the recipe! Aren't you just fall-off-your-chair excited? Heh.
I searched online for a recipe, then just used what I found to do my own thing. As is often the case. There could be a better way to do this, a yummier way, an easier way, a prettier way--but ANYWAY, this is my way. :) This makes two to three batches--as in two or three cookie sheets full.
~Melt a block of chocolate-flavored almond bark*. (I don't know how much one block weighs--two pounds?) It works to microwave or to melt it in a double-boiler. I just nuke it.
~While the chocolate melts, crush three candy canes to powder, or to chunk-size of your preference.
~Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper or wax paper.
~Once the chocolate is melted, pour it onto the covered cookie sheet, spreading the chocolate to the size of the sheet. Sprinkle the top with crushed candy canes. Set in fridge, freezer, or outside to harden. (Outside is fastest.) Once it's hardened, just break it into nice big 3-inch triangles.
*I've tried this same method/recipe with one layer dark and one layer milk, one layer milk and one layer white, one layer milk with vanilla drizzles, one layer dark one layer milk and vanilla swirls, and as of today, a vanilla layer with the crushed peppermint and mini chocolate chips. I can't name a favorite. It's all good. One layer, two layers, dark-milk-white-vanilla--it's all good. Just play around. (I did dark with Hershey's special dark chocolate, milk with the almond bark, vanilla with vanilla-flavored almond bark, and white chocolate with white chocolate chips.)
And lastly. Owing to the fact that my grandmother took a dramatic turn for the worse, my mom and youngest sister arrived from Japan on American soil last Friday. All of us thinking a good-bye to my grandma was imminent or about to be missed, Phill practically sent me to Provo (by myself) to be with everyone. I went expecting to give support and comfort, expecting it to be a somewhat somber reunion of sorts, and mostly unsure of what I would find when I got there. But from a deep coma, my grandmother awoke, ensuring us a few more days of loving words and reverent remembering. As I write, she is still alive. She said things to me that fed my soul, said things that answered prayers only the Lord has heard. Being with my mother, sister, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousin was balm to my soul. I went to Provo expecting to give, and received more than I can begin to tally.
That isn't all. On my way home Monday, I found myself in swirling, blinding snow the last hour of the trip. The moment I hit that wall of white, I began to shake from head to toe, and started to pray. I'm not at all confident when driving in the snow, and frequently ascend to a barely-managed hysteria when it even begins to snow as I'm on the road. This wasn't the worst I've ever been in, but it was awful.
Well, I wasn't left to assume the difficult last hour and thirty minutes by myself. I was absolutely not alone. I felt very tangibly protected. And a very heavy vehicle in front of me--what were you, Nevada license-plate number 35035T? A tow truck? A plow?--just happened to be going the perfect speed for me to follow, as if it were my guide. Well, it was, really. I could see where patches of ice were, because he went before me, sliding only a little here and there, which acted as a warning to me when I needed to be especially mindful of the ice. He carved out a path for me to follow. His lights were my reference point, the sentinel for my tear-filled eyes. Later on, a semi ambled along behind me, providing yet another way for me to measure the distance and eye the road, making me feel less lost in all the white. I'm certain that the truck in front of me realized that he was helping me, and I'm so grateful that he didn't mind. As I took my exit, trembling with relief, I saw him change lanes as if to say goodbye, my job is done.
There are so many more things I could say, more miraculous blessings I could write about--but so many of them are too sacred and too dear to me to write here. And somehow when I try to put words to it, to tell Phill or Abby, the words pale in comparison to the actual happenings.
I happened upon this scripture yesterday, and it made me laugh out loud because it is so appropriate to how I'm feeling as of late, and it is the appropriate ending to this post:
Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel.