the great unknown

I haven’t found a rhythm to my days yet. I miss that. Nothing like knowing where and when I am supposed to be somewhere to anchor my days.  The one scheduled appointment that I keep each day to work out has been a grounding tool for me. It gives me a reason to show up, to know what day it is and time, and to center myself and focus on the moment. Conveniently, the class is about the same time when I used to go to swim, so that feels familiar to me. I crave familiar right now. I also have lots of questions. More than anything, we all have this big unknown future before us.

Questions that I am entertaining currently include:  Is my husband’s job going to survive this downturn? Who might need some help right now? Will my grown children have their jobs? What am I doing to help where I can? How can I have connection with those with whom I can’t have contact? When will this end? How will it end? Who will be hurt in the process?

The biggest challenge so far for me is how to live with uncertainty. I wish I could say I instinctively know that this is not in my hands and my first thought would be to offer it to God and pray for His Help and watch how miraculously He resolves this mess. It is not. As I write these words, I still find myself swirling with worry. Right now, everyone is fine. Everyone is safe. We have a beautiful right now. We have this moment that we don’t want to waste. We have now. Worry robs us of now. I heard recently that we have two pandemics going–the Covid-19 and fear. And fear is overtaking more of us than the virus. But there is a way to stop it.

What the coming days hold God knows, and in this, I can rest. Because we know He will work it for good. There is no where too far that His Loving Hand cannot reach. There are some things too big for us, and this is just a perfect place to ask God for miracles and sit back and watch the show. May we all find rest in placing it in His Hands today.

How about you? have you stopped and taken a look inward? Where are you finding joy these days? How are you making your time meaningful?

One thing I know we all can do to help relieve some of this pain: we can call someone today who needs some hope. My 90 year old cousin who lives alone called today and we chatted for a short while. I am ashamed to say it was she who made the call and not I. She simply said as we closed, “Thank you for being there.” Show up for someone today. It might make their day.

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I’ve been cooking a lot! Here are some blueberry muffins.
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Before the “stay at home” order, we got to take Mike’s dad out for a look at the bluebonnets, which were especially beautiful this year.
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As soon as some of our grandkids got home from Alabama, we had a play date at our house! SO good to see them again.
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Lauren and Mike got back just in time before South Africa closed international travel. We watched their beautiful KCC, Victoria.

 

 

Word of the Year 2020

I have selected a word for the year for the past ten plus years. That word would be my watchword to employ, to offer others, to fill my own heart, often to grow me in an area of need. Last year, in particular, the word that labeled the year was particularly meaningful and fitting. I chose the word “embrace” and I cannot tell you yet how many areas that it has affected my life as it became the theme for my 2019 days.

For some days, the word embrace was an encouragement to tackle a situation or reality. For others, it was a loving reminder to embrace a “porcupine” person.  I would still think to myself it sure is hard to hug a porcupine but would know that that particular porcupine needed a hug more than my judgment. Other days, embrace became the theme as I tackled my rough edges of hypersensitivity and anxiety. Embracing the reality that something in me had to change, not others if I wanted a different story. Embrace helped me love through the challenges of having elderly parents come to live with us for the better part of the year. Embrace offered my own spirit a loving hug when things seemed so overwhelming I wanted to run away. Embrace allowed me to hold a precious new grandson, Grey Michael Barnes born in September. Indeed, the theme embrace lent God’s gracious and merciful perspective to each day of this 2019 year that we fondly closed the book on this past week.

Now for the coming year, I am looking forward to living life under a new banner. I hope to continue in the lessons learned from the previous year, but it is time to grow again. How that theme plays out is yet to be seen, but the word I offer to grow in His likeness this 2020 year is serve. I believe my heart was focused inward much of the last two years, and I want to be more about others, taking new opportunities where they present themselves, as they always do in a busy life that bumps into people. Wherever I am, I hope not to be too busy to stop and lend a hand where needed, or offer a listening ear, a compassionate hug. I offer myself to be Christ’s hands and feet where I can in His service. Now, my prayer is for a willing heart to see others’ needs and for Him to equip me to serve. I ask that God grant us all a broader vision of Who He is that we may know Him as He is fully, now dimly but one day face to glorious Face. Amen.

 

a favorite recipe from Christmas 2019

We had a busy and family-filled Christmas celebration this year. I suppose I should mention that the one who always smiles for the camera wasn’t having any of it for this photo. Sweet Emily couldn’t offer us her pearly whites through any of the attempts to get one decent shot. So, her sweet face is under those folded arms in this rendition of the Gefferts 2019 family photo. The gang was all here, and even Mike’s mother managed to be here with us, literally coming from the hospital to our table. It has been a year of ups and downs with aging parents’ health, and a scare for Lauren with an unexpected seizure in November, but in this moment, all is well and we are thankful. We come together well as a family and there is nothing that makes this mama’s heart any gladder than having all the kids home with their families. We enjoyed many meals together and had way too much goodies and eggnog, as we ate our way right through the season. For Christmas, we had a beef tenderloin with Bearnaise sauce, and horseradish cream, garlic mashed potatoes, green beans, and our favorite savory rendition of monkey bread. To finish it off, we had Creme Brulee, a family favorite. I thought we might torch the house with the flame thrower we used to caramelize the sugar, but no animals were harmed in the making.

Sometimes, simple is best and for Creme Brulee, it doesn’t get any simpler ingredients. Sugar, eggs, and cream. Pretty much it. But how they come together is nothing short of perfection. Enjoy!

Creme Brulee

1 quart heavy cream

1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

1 cup vanilla sugar, divided

6 large egg yolks

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Place the cream, vanilla bean and its pulp into a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean and reserve for another use.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup sugar and the egg yolks until well blended and it just starts to lighten in color. Add the cream a little at a time, stirring continually. Pour the liquid into 6 (7 to 8-ounce) ramekins. Place the ramekins into a large cake pan or roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake just until the creme brulee is set, but still trembling in the center, approximately 40 to 45 minutes.
  4. Remove the ramekins from the roasting pan and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days. Remove the creme brulee from the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes prior to browning the sugar on top. Divide the remaining 1/2 cup vanilla sugar equally among the 6 dishes and spread evenly on top. Using a torch, melt the sugar and form a crispy top. Allow the creme brulee to sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.

AYWMC- Feb. 2, 2019

What a difference a week makes! We are now shooting in manual mode and I must say this class has explained the exposure triangle better than any I have seen in the past. It helps that Emma Davies was a schoolteacher. She has a way of explaining and simplifying to help us grasp the basics of what we need to know to get by and actually use the info provided. Now for the assignment. We are starting in aperture priority mode at f8 and will open up the camera one f-stop to f 5.6 for more light, so we will move the shutter speed or the ISO faster or higher to get less light to compensate and get the same exposure. It makes sense now, but I will pick up my camera and be back here. One thing to note is that my camera has three stops in between each of these settings…

This chart is the best! Simple, and useful!

quick guide exposure triangle

So, here is the assignment.

Step 1 Select aperture priority mode, choose an aperture that is a full stop (i..e. f8) and take a photo.

Step 2 Write down what settings the camera picks.

Step 3  Go onto manual mode and dial in the settings that the camera picked, except change the aperture by 1 stop (bigger) to have a wider aperture, and a shallower depth of field.

Step 4 
If you leave the rest of the settings as they were in step 2, your photo will be slightly over exposed, because you have a bigger aperture. So you need to change the shutter speed or ISO by a corresponding 1 stop in the opposite direction (less light). In this case use shutter speed, and change it to 1 stop less light (faster). Take the photo again. Keep everything the same between photos – where you stand, what you’re photographing, how much light there is.

Both the photos should have the same exposure, if the light hasn’t changed and you focused on the same spot. The only difference should be a slightly shallower depth of field in the second photo.

Have another go, this time on shutter priority. Try changing the settings by 2 stops, and by using a combination of both aperture and ISO to compensate

Started with f2.8  then went to f4  and shifted the triangle up ISO one fstop accordingly to achieve the same exposure.

More open aperture needs lower sensitive ISO or a faster shutter speed to have the same exposure. I had some trouble with the aperture locked and figured out my camera had a button that locked on it. Shooting in manual isn’t comfortable for me yet–just need more practice. Have a great week, and catch some light along the way!

 

AYWMC – January 27

ISO – International Standard Organization

ISO refers to the sensitivity of the sensor to light–the higher the ISO, the more noise–so you want to use as low an ISO as possible to still capture the light.  Our assignment this week was to go back to a previous week’s photos and retake them using your camera’s highest ISO and lowest ISO. I tried to recapture the scene as closely as possible but the light is different today (very overcast) so the settings are not identical.

I am spending more time with my camera and continue to read a lot about camera stuff on sites like Light Stalking and Digital Photography School and my Udemy class and my Creative Live class I bought years ago. I love gadgets also, so I ordered a timer remote that would be cool for a stationary time lapse shoot. I continue to investigate tripod heads that will support the weight of my 70-200 mm lens. Any suggestions are welcome here!

Here are the results of my shoot this week: (I’m not seeing a lot of graininess. I increased the ISO 100x. But as you can see the shutter speed had to compensate by being almost 100 x faster as well. And the aperture closed 4 -f stops down.

Thanks for stopping by. Hope you have a great week. Catch some light along the way!

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Canon EOS 6D
ƒ/2.8   1/160   70mm   ISO 100
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Canon EOS 6D
ƒ/11   1/1250   57mm   ISO 10000