Bread Making Demonstration

This past Saturday I went to a bread making demonstration at my friend Heather's house. She and Sharon showed how easy it is to make bread from freshly milled flour. Here are some pictures from that event but be warned: these pictures are not very good. I really believe I've forgotten how to take a decent picture.

Here are some "fellowshipping" pictures and of guests arriving.

These are the hostesses with the mostesses, Heather and Sharon. These ladies did a great job!

These are the wheat berries. I believe Sharon used Hard White Wheat in her bread. Anyway this is what they look like before they're milled.

Heather is describing the mill she uses. She uses a Nutrimill, which is the same mill that I have

And this is what it looks like after the wheat berries have been ground up. Looks just like flour!

Milling your own flour and using freshly ground flour for bread baking is better for you than what you buy in the stores. Freshly milled flour has many nutrients in it that your body can use whereas the flour you buy in stores has had all the good stuff taken out.

You want to see some action? Here you go! This is a picture of the dough being kneaded by Heather's Kitchen Aid mixer. She has the same one I do only in a different color. We even have the same coffee maker.

While we were waiting for the dough to rise, Sharon taught us from the Bible and shared her story of why she started milling her own grain.

Here is the finished product. Just look at this bread. I've never seen bread this big.

I've never seen bread so out of focus!

Heather and Sharon with their masterpiece. And, yes, it tasted wonderful!

Did I learn anything? Yes. Even though I've been milling my own wheat and making my own bread for a couple of years, I've never been able to get mine to rise like they did. After watching how they make their bread and Heather showing me how long she kneads her dough in the mixer, I was anxious to make my own bread and see if I could get a decent rise.

This is what I was able to do. Thanks to Heather and Sharon, I finally got a couple of loaves that rose! I called Joe in to see them and he called them "fat."

Fat bread = good bread!

Thanks Sharon! Thanks Heather!

Marine Corps Police Academy

Yesterday morning Len and I attended the first ever East Coast Regional Marine Corps Police Academy graduation. We have a friend who was a part of the class and now serves as a Patrolman.

Our friend is Bert Merchant and if you look, you'll see his name as it was printed in the program.

In this next picture, you'll see Len as he is reading over the program.

I felt it necessary to get a picture of the back of the head of a Marine with the American flag. There's just something about the bald head of a Marine that goes well with the American flag. It's too bad the focus wasn't better.

The guest speaker for the ceremony was Brigadier General James B. Laster. He is the Commanding General, Eastern Recruiting Region, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina. It was an extreme honor for his presence at the ceremony.

Here's the General pinning Bert.

Here's the General shaking hands with Bert. The lighting wasn't very good so the action of the handshake is a little blurry.

Here are the graduates from behind as they're taking the oath of office.

Bert and his beautiful wife, Carli.

Bert with his wonderful children. I just love this family!

Here are a couple of shots of Bert and guys who mean a lot to him.

Here is the group as they witness the promotion of two of their fellow officers.

It was a nice ceremony and Len and I are so proud of Bert. Congratulations Bert and to all the Merchant family!

Some of My Recent Pictures

These pictures were taken at Beaufort's Waterfront Park on the Sunday after Christmas 2008. I'm ashamed to admit but this was the last time I had my camera out. I think I might be getting rusty and I better get going again pretty quickly!

Here's a shot of the ever-present black bird. Or is it a Crow? Or Grackle? Or...? Why is it these birds will pose beautifully for you but heaven forbid you should try to get a decent shot of a Cardinal or Blue Bird.

I call this a duck. My Uncle Bill called it by it's real name but I can't remember what it is, so I guess I'll just stick with duck.

I'm so original.

This is a sailboat that just went under the bridge. I hesitate to use "sail"boat (yes I know it's a sailboat) because it's using it's motor and not sails. I knew a "sailor" once who refused to use the motor on his sailboat and would only sail with the sails. Unless there was no wind and he really needed to get moving.

I know, shut up Karen!

These Palmetto Trees are actually in a circle in the park. They really are quite pretty and I guess this shot is kind of silhouetty.

Have I told you that I like to make up words?

Here's really getting up close and personal with a Palmetto Tree. I think it's a rather interesting point of view.

This is probably one of my favorite shots. I like the warm colors of the day along with the inviting table. It just has a certain feel about it. I wished we would have had some Plums ice cream and sat at this table to enjoy it.

But we didn't.


I can't quite decide if I like this picture. I almost feel as if there is too much going on and not enough of the bridge. I guess it's ok.

I don't know if I can explain why this picture is the way it is. I wanted to get the line of palmetto trees going all the way down the street but in order to do it, I had to turn the camera. I tried to get an even "line" of the street and sidewalk. I'm sure there would have been a way to get a more "normal" view but Len was tagging along with me saying, "Hurry up!"

Not really.

Not really on the hurry up part.

He was tagging along with me.

This photo was actually taken in 1975.

Ok, not really. I photoshopped it to give it a 70s feel to it.

Groovy, man.

I love this photo.

I love the colors.

I love the shadows.

But mostly, I love this little girl!

My Dad Part III

Then there was time that Dad got mad at Mom for putting salt on our icy sidewalks. He claimed that they would crack and he didn't want to deal with cracking sidewalks.

So Mom stopped putting salt on our icy sidewalks.

One night, we were all sitting in our living room. Mom was crocheting, I was watching TV and Dad was enjoying his evening beverage. Then he decided to see if the newspaper had arrived. Now, keep in mind that he was wearing his bedroom slippers. Slippers which have absolutely no traction on them whatsoever.

He goes out the door and the next thing we hear is: ZZZZZiiiipppp (slippers on ice); THUD (Dad hitting the icy pavement ... hard); and OOHHHH (Dad's painful moan).

Mom and I look at each other with wide eyes. Each thinking but not saying, "He's done killed himself now!"

Mom threw down her crochet and ran (literally) for the door to check on Dad. I ran to the phone to dial 911, because we just knew this wasn't good. I hear Mom holler, "He's ok, don't call 911."

It wasn't too long after that that Dad started putting salt on the icy sidewalks. I guess he figured that cracks in the sidewalk were better than cracks to the head!

My Dad Part II

Now that we've established the fact that my Dad was a tad bit accident prone, let me tell you another story ...

One windy afternoon, my Mom and I were in the kitchen putting away groceries. My Dad was outside working on the plumbing. Sometimes the plumbing would get stuffed and Dad would take a snake (or something) and try to push the obstacles out so that we could, well you know. He got tired of calling a plumber and after watching how a plumber got things moving again, he figured he could do just as well for free. It was pretty labor intensive work, though.

Anyway, Mom and I are putting the groceries away and we hear a CRASH. And the house jiggled a little.

"What in the world was that?" Mom asks me with a puzzled look on her face.
"I think Dad ran into the garage door," I replied.
"Oh, he wouldn't that!"

The next thing Dad's coming in the door, holding his head, saying, "I ran into the garage door." You see the wind would sometimes cause the garage door to come down about 1/4 of the way and Dad was so busy going back and forth to the plumbing issue that he didn't see the door come down and BAM, he walked right into it.

The above image is a little bit lower than what my Dad hit with his head, but I think you probably get the idea.

Well, of course Mom and I laugh.

However, about a week later Mom wasn't laughing so much when the same thing happened to her when she was bringing in groceries. Ouch!

It wasn't too long after that that Dad installed an automatic garage door opener so that the door would stay put and keep us all safe from conking our heads.

The Sacrifices They Make

Sunday night at AWANA I was faced with the reality of just how hard it is for our military families. I have lived here a long time and have known many families who serve our country faithfully but the true sacrifices they make have never affected me as much as this family. I don't know why, but I suspect that the Holy Spirit has led me down this path.

One of my leader's husband left about a month ago on a 15 month deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan. I'm ashamed to admit that I can't even remember where in the world this man is serving. She was having a bad day and she came to tears when someone asked her how she was doing.

She is a precious sister in the Lord and has equally precious children. But they are going through a time of separation. Separation from a husband. Separation from a father. Separation brought on by the politics and terrors of this world. And their separation has deeply moved me.

God has placed this dear family on my heart and I have adopted them in order to pray for and encourage them as they wait for his return. I have installed a counter on this site (you can see it on the sidebar) to let me know how many days it will be until this family is reunited. It also serves as a reminder to me as to just how long these days will be. Often when families have been separated because of a deployment, I find myself amazed at how fast the time goes by. For me. One day they're gone and then it seems that suddenly they're back. However, time doesn't go by quite so quickly when you're the one waiting. And I don't want to be insensitive anymore to the wait that these families have.

Amy mentioned to me last night that Patrick had been gone for 35 days. I almost blurted out, "Has it been that long already?" I'm certain that those words would have caused pain, were certainly not appropriate, and I'm thankful the Holy Spirit kept me in check. He's been gone for only 35 days.

So to the Fitzgerald family: I don't know why God has placed you on my heart as he did but it is my intention to pray for you while Patrick is away. It is my intention to encourage you while Patrick is away. It is my intention to wait with you until Patrick's return and never again take for granted the sacrifices all of you make for our country.

Semper Fi!

(Is there a family that you would like to adopt for prayer and encouragement?)

My Dad

I feel sorry for those of you who didn't know my Dad. He was a great guy. He had a lot of wisdom and I learned a lot from him. However, there were times when he was a little bit ... (hmmm what shall I say?) ... accident prone.

In 1986 I had just moved to South Carolina. My Dad was undertaking the huge task of building his and my Mom's retirement home. All with the help of my brother, who did the majority of the work along with coordinating and scheduling the subcontractors.

One day I went out in the morning to get my resume out to different law firms in in the hopes of obtaining work. When I came back, there was something definitely different about the look of the construction site. Red flags were now hanging off of the scaffolding where before, when I left in the morning, there were none.

Puzzled, I asked, "Craig, why are there red flags hanging off the scaffolding?" Craig laughs, "Go take a look at Dad's nose, then you'll know why!"

Uh oh!

I find Dad sitting quietly in the trailer nursing his sore nose. And let me tell you, it was one great big honker. No, wait ... one great big RED honker. He obviously failed to duck under the scaffolding and instead drove nose-first into it. He said the impact brought him to his knees. The Uncles teased him mercilessly and called him W.C. Fields.

No, this is not a picture of my Dad but of W.C. Fields. This is what my Dad's poor nose looked like. Imagine this picture in color and the nose being red then you'll know what Dad looked like. Well, according to my Uncles.

It wasn't long after Dad's nose dive into the scaffolding that Craig hung up red flags so that we (i.e. Dad) would be safe from any further accidents.

If It's Sunday ...

...then I'm at church!

Today it's my honor to actually "work" at church. I volunteer on the tech team and run PowerPoint. For a really neat explanation of how the tech team operates and what exactly happens, you need to read my brother's blog and specifically this article. He goes into great detail about what takes place during the Sunday services. (By the way, my brother's blog is entitled "Craig's blog." What the name lacks in originality, it makes up for in simplicity and rememberability. Ok, I made that word up but you get the picture.)

PowerPoint is an application in windows where you can create slideshows. Officially, I guess it would be considered graphics. PowerPoint is seen by the congregation, not the TV viewing audience. It's projected onto a couple of really big screens so that the congregation can see the words to the worship songs as well as Pastor Broggi's Scripture. It's a very important job. Failing to "flip" a slide silences the voices of those who rely on them during the worship singing. Failing to "flip" a slide during the sermon will bring a gentle reminder from the Pastor that you might need to wake up. It's ok. The guys working the sound board are the ones who get "the stares" or blame ... not me! Only because I'm hidden away in "The Booth." Operating PowerPoint is really not that complicated. All you have to do is pay attention and press a button.

There was a time, however, when you really worked up a stressful sweat when it came to "flipping" the slides. You see, I was helping with PowerPoint at the beginning. At that time, all we had as an outline for the Pastor's sermon, was a list of the Scripture verses that he was using. If we would flip the slide at the right time and was spot on, the PowerPoint team would high five each other and whisper "woohoos." If, on the other hand, a slide was missed, we comforted each other with shoulder rubs and "better luck next times." The song slides were pretty easy, you just sang along and flipped the slide. The sermon slides, however, were a guessing game.

My first sermon was on an Easter Sunday. Saying I performed poorly is putting it mildly. I missed every sermon slide. I failed to get even one high five. Nor was there a single woohoo. (I did get a pretty good shoulder rub, though.) And because it was Easter, there were about a gazillion people in attendance who all saw my miserable attempt. I was devastated and near tears. To make matters worse, my fellow team members were forcing me to do the second service. Didn't they just see how horrible I did? But one of them left the booth and printed out the sermon notes in a different format. Instead of just a list of Scripture it had a "picture" of the actual slide. You could now see the entire verse.

I still objected to going forward and doing PowerPoint for the second service but I did it. And it went smoothly. I didn't miss one single slide. I got high five after high five, woohoo after woohoo. Oh what a glorious victory! Oh what a glorious feeling!

And that's the way we've been doing the sermon slides ever since. So today as I'm flipping away slide after slide, I can also actually enjoy the sermon instead of sweating away with stress. I do not take lightly the fact that I'm entitled to two services. I always feel that because I get to hear Pastor Broggi twice that there is probably something I really need to hear from God. I'm certain that there is a specific point that's meant just for my heart to hear and actively apply to my life.

Working on the tech team is an honor and I'm glad to be a part of it!

Happy Valentines Day

To my Valentine:

i carry your heart with me
by ee cummings

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)

i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

Common Sense ... According to Joe

I emailed this to my family the other day, right before I decided to continue my blog. Since some of my many readers didn't receive the email, I post it here for your enjoyment.

I instructed Joe to put on some clothes and walk the dog. When he got back I noticed that he had on his dirty clothes. Len -- you know which ones I'm talking about! The ones that he's been wearing for the past month. The ones that look dusty but I fear it's just caked-on dirt that won't ever get clean. The pants that have holes in the knees that are so large they're about to evolve into shorts (which by the way when that happens, he won't wear them anymore). The ones that stink so badly that you're actually glad he's at the age where he hates hugs. Yes! Those!

Unfortunately I did the Mom thing. I asked, Why? Why did you put those clothes on when you have clean clothes (I know this because I did his laundry). And his reply to me? ... Why do I want to get those clothes dirty?

And at that, I was speechless. Admittedly, I can almost see his point. Almost ...

My Time with Matthew

This past month I've been reading the Book of Matthew.

Last year was not a good year for me when it came to reading the bible with any consistency. I floundered badly. It's not that I didn't want to read the Bible, I for some odd reason just couldn't get myself into it.

I was listening to a radio program at the beginning of the year and the guy was talking about daily Bible reading. He said that sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves by having the goal of reading through the entire Bible in a year. He talked about those of us who have a daily Bible where we read a portion of Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs each day and even though this is not a bad thing, it's just that sometimes we'll miss a day or two or ten and it throws us off to where we feel we have to read 10 days at once just to catch up. It's the catching up that throws us completely off our schedules. Instead, he suggested taking just one book of the Bible and reading it for an entire month. He further added that this will enable you to read 12 books of the Bible for the year and to also really get to know that particular book well.

And that's what I've been doing. This is my last week with Matthew and will have read through it four times by the end of the week. Some of the things that really spoke to me:

  • in the record of the geneology of Christ some of His ancestors were heros of faith, some had shady reputations, some were ordinary and some were evil.
  • when John the Baptist had doubts, he went to the Source for answers.
  • the devil tried to take God's Word out of context with Jesus -- what makes me think he won't try this with me? This affirms our needing to really know that God's Word says.
  • I'm not to worry.
  • God knows my needs.
  • Jesus did not come to bring peace, but a sword.
  • my faith can move mountains.
Certainly that's not all I gleaned but just a few things. I would like to memorize the Sermon on the Mount, especially the Beattitudes. Maybe I'll put that as a goal to achieve for the end of the year!

Next week I'll start the Book of Mark.

Deleated the Old ... In With the New

I was trying to get a website up for my photographs but that ended up being more work than I wanted. I couldn't get it to look how I thought a professional photography website should look. Of course, if I had been willing to pay someone, then I might have had something worthy. However, I'm unwilling (i.e. can't afford) to have a professional do me up a website.

So I'm back. I can hear all of you yelling "Yippee!" There have been so many times these past weeks that I've wanted to get the writing bug out or show off some of my pictures only to realize that I had nowhere to go. That's really an awful feeling. Even though I feel I'm basically writing to myself on this blog (much like talking to myself as I'm doing the laundry), I was just a lonely soul.

Not to mention that so many of you expressed your sorrow of no longer being able to visit KK-Ville. Ok, maybe it was just one or two. Alright! One! I know it's at least one because I have written proof! Right Ang?

Anyway, I'm back. I'm not going to do the photography website -- at least for now. In these unstable financial days, it's just not feasible to go forth with that. I really feel I need better equipment and need Photoshop for the Mac in order to make a truly professional jump into the world of photography. For now, and however long the Lord wills, I am content with what I have and will continue with photography as a hobby.

What have we been up to for the past month or so? Well this picture should give you a clue.

It was a nice trip and we sure wished you were there. Actually, WE wished we were there. This was taken down at Beaufort's Waterfront Park. I told Len to stand and pose and we'd tell everyone we went on a cruise. But then that would be lying, wouldn't it?

And lying is sin. Forgive me?