Monthly Archives: March 2011

Another Vowel Child – meet O.

It’s time to introduce another one of my vowel children.  Today I’d like you to meet my daughter – O – a truly gifted and remarkable young woman.

Our second daughter arrived 2 years and 10 months after her big sister E. had come into this world.  By now, Big D. and I had been parenting for awhile and thought we were getting pretty good at our job.

We’d had our hands full with our first vowel child – E – an exuberant and delightful moppet with a head full of blonde curls; a child who embraced the world in one of two speeds – either on or off.  She was also a somewhat willful little imp whose first word was “no”.  Her strong personality was not a bad thing – she was going to be one of life’s movers & shakers!  Besides, it gave her dad and I an opportunity to discover what parenting was really like.  If you’d like to read her story, just click HERE.

When our second child arrived, just 3 hours and 22 minutes after I went into labor, we were delighted to discover that God had blessed us with another beautiful daughter.

One hour old

We had her name all picked out, a lovely old-fashioned name that I’d heard spoken many times during my youth.  It wasn’t until later that we discovered one meaning of her name – peace.  We gave her the middle name – Rose – not only because she smelled so lovely, but to honor my grandmother whose namesake she shared.

When E. met her sister, the morning after she was born, I knew immediately that these two were going to have a special bond.

12 hours old

Rather than being jealous of her new sibling, E. became a little mother…doting on her baby sister with great tenderness and affection.

4 months

Well, maybe not always so tender…but definitely affectionate!

I assumed that because they had been born to the same family, had the same parents and were the same gender, these girls would have similar personalities.  I thought they’d be like two peas in a pod.  I couldn’t have been more wrong!

From day one, we knew that this second child was much more serene and didn’t require the stimulation that her older sister craved.  In fact, it took us a couple of weeks to discover that at night time, she didn’t want to be carried around and coddled, she just wanted to be laid in her crib – wide awake – to fall asleep on her own! And for some unknown reason she always did this…


And this…

And occasionally….even this!

Though they loved to play together and got along famously, the difference in the two girl’s temperaments was very obvious.

E. was the life of the party…O. was timid, almost shy around people.

E. was strong-willed….O. was compliant.

E. was a bossy little thing…O. was demure and always acquiesced to her big sister’s wishes…

“Hey, let me cut your hair…Mom will never notice”

“Just pet it…I promise it won’t peck your eyes out!”

“There…her hair’s all done. Do you like it?”


There was never a dull moment when these two were together.  Wherever E. was…O was right behind her…following in her big sister’s footsteps.


They read constantly…sometimes while half-naked!

They formed a band.

They wore pointy hair.

They even began to dress alike.

And because her big  sister loved her so much, she shared everything with her.

And I do mean… everything!

Shortly after O. turned 3, it was time for her big sister to start kindergarten.  Seeing as I had a degree in education, we opted to teach E. at home.  In order to create the proper learning environment, we set up an elementary school room in which I taught phonics, math, science, bible & spelling. As I taught E, her younger sister O, sat nearby and colored or looked at picture books and was just a passive observer…or so I thought!

This went on for a couple of years and by the end of first grade, E was reading books on her own and writing short stories.  Unbeknown to us, O. could also read…she just never let on that she knew how! It wasn’t until we were vacationing in Washington state, that we learned of her amazing ability.

We had stopped our vehicle at a railroad crossing and from the back seat of our van, we heard O. say “no stopping on tracks”. We looked up to see that there was a road sign outside her side window that read, “No Stopping On Tracks”.  Needless to say, we were stunned…and delighted!

For years, I had worried that her timidity would be a stumbling block to her.  Many times, when I watched her older sister surrounded by groups of friends, I would ask the Lord to give O. the confidence she lacked.  What I didn’t understand, was that her temperament was completely different than her sister’s and she would one day become very confident and able. I  just needed to trust Him and be patient.

According to the Character Therapist, O. was born with a classic melancholic temperament.  In animal terms she has what’s known as the Beaver personality and these characteristics fit her well:

The Beaver revels in the details others despise. They are creative, practical, factual, perfectionist, detailed, orderly and predictable. Emotionally, they are sensitive–to others and about themselves. They’re thoughtful and serious, and talented.  They are efficient, organized, schedule-oriented, punctual, and can be relied upon to carry out any directives or see a project through to completion.  When it comes to friends, they will sacrifice greatly for those they love and care about.

Little by little, our second daughter was coming into her own. It is said that “still water runs the deepest”.  If this saying has any credence, then O. would one day be an ocean!  As she grew, in both age and stature,  a quiet confidence began to emerge.

Age 6 – Christmas

Age 8 – camping

Age 10 – birthday

Age 13 – 1st day of school

Age 16

Age 18 – Duluth


This quiet,  gentle and independent spirit is something about our second daughter that has remained with her throughout her life – oft times directing her to do things on her own;  many times without our prompting or even our support.

When she was about 12 years old, O. went alone, to our public library and performed in a talent show, dancing  and lip-syncing and bringing home the grand prize – a $50 gift certificate.  And this was after I had tried discouraging her from participating. And much to my shame, I did not even attend the show myself.

She began dabbling in photography at about the same time and has now established a small business and set up her own website – Arm’s Length Photography – winning awards for her work.

While still in grade school, O. announced to her dad & I that she wanted to become her class valedictorian and from that day on she worked toward that goal.  Her years in high school were busy…so busy that she seldom had time to stop and take a breath.We worried about her and prayed daily that God would sustain her and direct her in the way she was to go.

It was with humble and grateful hearts that her dad and I watched as she received the honor of class valedictorian on June 4, 2010, fulfilling the vow she’d made to herself years before!

Deciding on a college was a big decision for her and she had many schools to choose from – some close to home and one all the way across the country.  After much prayer and with conviction in her heart, she headed West and is currently a freshman at Biola University in La Mirada, California.  Never one to shy away from a new adventure, she has already begun to establish herself at Biola –  having entered and won a school-wide video contest before her first semester of college had even finished.  Click on My Journey to view her video.

It’s hard to believe that this successful and confident young woman was once the little girl I worried so much about.  And to think that she spent the first 18 months of her life planted firmly on my hip…our little barnacle baby…now detached and discovering for herself the wonderful plans that God has for her life. What a journey she’s got waiting for her!


Filed under My Gratitude, My Joys

Wordless Wednesday #4

Ever had one of those days?


Filed under Wordless Wednesday

The Incredible Edible Scone

I love to bake. My family loves to eat. We have a perfect symbiotic relationship.

One of our favorite things to indulge in is the basic buttermilk scone. They’re crisp on the outside, tender on the inside and just slightly sweet – the perfect foil for homemade jam and mock Devonshire cream.  If you haven’t had a scone lately, you don’t know what you’re missing.

The beautiful thing about this recipe is that you can make simple alterations that give you a completely different end product.  Craving something sweeter than a scone with jam and clotted cream? All you need to do is add some berries and white chocolate chips to this basic recipe and voila’ – you’ve got a scone that’ll knock your socks off.

What? You don’t want your socks knocked off? That’s okay. Just feed them to your family.  The scones…not the socks!  They’ll love you for it!

Triple Berry White-Chocolate Scones

The first thing you want to do is to pull out your food processor and fit it with the metal blade.  Put your flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into the processor bowl and pulse it on & off for about 5 seconds.  Cut the butter into slices and scatter them over the dry ingredients.  Pulse the mixture for about 15-20 seconds until the butter is cut into very small pieces and the dry stuff now resembles course crumbs.  If you don’t have a food processor, you can do the same job with a pasty cutter or two butter knives.  Take your processor bowl off it’s base and dump the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl.

Now add the white chocolate chips to this dry mixture –

Dump the berries right on top of the mound.  You don’t want to add the berries when they’re still hard as rocks, so place the frozen berries in a colander and run them under hot water to thaw them ever so slightly. Shake off the excess water.

I’m using a frozen Triple Berry Blend that I purchased at Sam’s Club. It’s a combo of raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.Yum!

The last thing to add is the buttermilk. Just pour it in and grab yourself a dinner fork.

A dinner fork?

Yes…a dinner fork, but it’ll be used for tossing, not eating!

Here’s the really important part.  You DO NOT want to stir the mixture. If you do, you’ll end up with tough scones and mashed berries.  Instead, you need to toss the mixture with the fork, pulling the dry ingredients from the bottom towards the surface.

Continue tossing with the fork until you can no longer see any patches of dry ingredients.

The berries will give off moisture, so you shouldn’t need to add more buttermilk. However, if you’ve used fresh berries and the mixture is still too dry, you can add more buttermilk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the particles stick together.

You’ll have a rather tattered looking dough at this time. When it’s combined adequately, the mixture should look like this.

Now, take your mixing bowl and gently dump the ingredients onto a lightly floured surface.  Pull the lumps together to make one large clump of dough and knead gently, 5 or 6 times, until the clump has formed a cohesive ball. I don’t know how else to describe it.

A photo sure would have come in handy.  Sorry!

Gently pat the dough into a 6-7″ circle.  Using a large butcher knife, cut the circle of dough into  8 wedges.

Place the wedges onto a parchment covered baking sheet. Make sure to leave room between the scones for rising during baking.

You can see that some of the raspberries have broken apart, giving the dough a pinkish cast. Don’t worry about this…the color will fade once they’re baked.

Brush the surface of the scones with your egg wash and place them in the oven. Bake until deep, golden brown.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.

Confession – we never wait. We eat them hot out of the oven. But be forewarned – you do this at your own risk.

Upon removal from the oven, the white chocolate chips are like hot lava and can burn you. Badly.

I know. My lip still has the scar to prove it.

Not a pleasant experience!

But what IS a pleasant experience, is biting into the deliciousness of this Triple Berry White-Chocolate Scone paired with a  cup of  hot English tea or a frothy latte’.

Juan Valdez thanks you!

Basic Buttermilk Scones

Original version from If Teacups Could Talk by Emilie Barnes

2 cups flour
3 T. white sugar
1 T. baking powder
½ t. salt
6 T. butter, chilled
½ cup buttermilk
1 egg, beaten well (for wash)


Put the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a food processor with metal blade attached.  Pulse off and on to combine ingredients.  Using a knife, cut butter into ½” slices; scatter over the top of the flour mixture. Pulse processor off and on until butter has been cut into small pieces and mixture resembles coarse crumbs – about 15-20 seconds. If no processor is available, cut the mixture by hand with a pasty cutter.  Pour this dry stuff into a medium-sized mixing bowl.

Add buttermilk and using a fork, toss the ingredients together until no dry patches of flour are visible. DO NOT stir the mixture or your scones will be tough.  If mixture is too dry, you may add more buttermilk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until all dry patches of flour are gone.

Dump the contents of your mixing bowl onto a lightly floured surface and form into a ball. Gently knead a few times to make it cohesive.  Pat gently into a 6-7” circle.  With a sharp knife, cut into 8 wedges.  Transfer wedges unto a parchment-covered baking sheet; leave about 1″ of space between wedges.  Brush wedges with egg wash.

Bake in 425 degree oven for 19-21 minutes or until deep golden brown.  Remove from oven and enjoy while warm with jam and Devonshire cream.

Tasty variations:

Triple Berry White-Chocolate Scones Add ¾ cup premium white-chocolate chips and 1 cup fresh or frozen (slightly thawed) triple berry blend to the mixing bowl, along with your buttermilk. The berries will release moisture, so be sure not to add more than ½ cup buttermilk or scone dough will be very soft and hard to handle. Proceed as above.

Raspberry-White Chocolate Scones
Add ¾ cup premium white-chocolate chips and 1 cup fresh or frozen (slightly thawed) raspberries to the mixing bowl, along with your buttermilk. The raspberries will release moisture, so be sure not to add more than ½ cup buttermilk or scone dough will be very soft and hard to handle. Proceed as above.

Blueberry Lemon Scones w/ Lemon Glaze
Add 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel and 1 cup fresh or frozen (slightly thawed) blueberries to the mixing bowl, along with the buttermilk. Proceed as above.

For glaze: mix 1 cup powdered sugar and enough fresh lemon juice to make a glaze of spreading consistency. After scones come out of oven, allow them to cool for 5 minutes, then spread or drizzle glaze over the tops of scones.

Other variations:

Apple Cinnamon-Raisin Scones

Cranberry Orange Scones

Banana Toffee Scones


Filed under My Cooking

Confessions of a Baker

I think I was 7 or maybe 8 years old when I made my first cake.  I don’t remember what it tasted like, but if I concentrate hard enough, I’m sure that I can still smell it baking in my shiny, new Easy Bake Oven – a Christmas gift from mom and dad (or should I say, Santa?)  It’s funny, the things that happen in our childhood which forever influence who we become as adults.

A boy spends months playing with his toy chemistry set and then goes on to become a renowned research scientist.  A young girl finds and cares for a wounded bird, compelling her to follow her passion into the field of veterinary medicine.  At the time, the incident may seem inconsequential, but it leaves an indelible impression on the heart of that small child.  Well for me, baking this first cake did the trick.

I am a baker.

For clarification, you will never see my name alongside Julia Child’s. My kitchen will never be picked up, spoon by spoon, pan by pan, and transferred to  the Smithsonian for display! I will never be as well-known or accomplished as Martha Stewart and I have no desire to ever publish a cookbook or see my name in print.  No.  I bake because something inside of me is compelled to put flour and sugar (and other tasty things) into a bowl and turn them into something delicious and beautiful.


I find it intoxicating to serve a pan of freshly baked scones or brownies to an expectant crowd.  And if the weeks go by and I’ve ignored this inner calling, I can’t rest until I’ve popped something into the oven. If you doubt me, I have a story to share that may convince you.

About 15 years ago, when I was going through a very tumultuous time in my life, I attended a women’s conference at my local church. The speaker, a woman known to have an effective ministry, was sharing a heart-felt message to a full house of women, many of them seeking answers to their own life’s struggles.  I was there for that very reason. For years I’d been grappling with the questions, “Lord, do you know who I am? Do you really care about the details of my life?”  Towards the end of the evening, the speaker extended an invitation to those who were needing prayer to come forward. I didn’t quite bolt to the front of the church, but it was close to that!

As the speaker went from woman to woman, I prayed to God, asking Him to speak something to my heart….some detail of my life that only He (and I) would know…a proof that He was really there.

Eventually, it was my turn for prayer and before speaking, the woman placed her hands on my head and paused for a moment. She then exclaimed, “Oh…we have a baker here!”  What a moment! A word from His throne, directly into my heart…a confirmation that the same He, who held the very world in His hands – cared enough to dispel the doubts of this one, seemingly insignificant child.  From that day on, I never doubted that I had a Father who, as the Bible says, “knows the very number of hairs on your head.” I’ve not always acted in accordance to that Truth – but I believe it unwaveringly. It has been etched indelibly upon my heart.

Do you struggle with these same questions? Do you ever doubt that He knows or even cares about the minute details of your life? If you answered either of these in the affirmative, then I challenge you to do what I did – ask Him to reveal Himself to you in a way that you will understand without a doubt.  Then wait for His reply. The answer may change your life.

Too scary a thing to do? Well, let me fill you in on a secret…you are known… and loved deeply.

Let your heart be at rest.

Carey – the baker


Filed under My Journey

Wordless Wednesday…for Julie


Filed under Wordless Wednesday

A Herald of Spring

If yesterday was a day of lament, then today is a day to celebrate.  The new snow has melted and Spring has officially arrived!

Yes, the calendar tells me that it’s March 21st –  the official beginning of spring. And yes…we are under a blizzard watch, with the possibility of receiving 8 or more inches of snow by Wednesday evening.  But I don’t care about those minor details because in my garden some true harbingers of Spring have arrived.  Take a look….

Yes, you’re seeing correctly! These are my crocuses, pushing

up their leaves through the snow and leaf mulch!

One lone iris is sending up leaves much too early.

This little guy won’t bloom until mid to late June.

Not to be outdone by the flowers…there’s lots of new thyme

bursting to life in the south garden!


He made the moon to mark the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down. Psalm 104:19


In gratitude for….

35. The promise of Spring…new life in all things

36. A hint of green after months and months of white

37. The drip, drip, drip of the thaw

38. The smell of Spring…pungent, wet earth and decomposing vegetation

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Filed under My Gratitude

Winter’s Snowy Grip

Yesterday was a glorious day!

The sun was out and shining bright, causing the snow to melt furiously. The temps rose slowly and by late afternoon it was almost balmy.  Actually, it was about 40 degrees, but to the true Northlander, that is balmy!  The trickle in the alley turned to swift flowing rivulets and all afternoon I heard the drip, drip, drip of the Spring thaw.

The gardens on the south side of my home were completely uncovered and I knew that soon…very soon, the crocuses would be pushing up through the layer of leaf mulch, revealing their coats of many colors – purple, lavender, yellow and white.  I felt for sure that today would be their unveiling.  Alas, I was sadly mistaken.  When I got up at dawn today, this is what I discovered….more snow!  You will find my lament below.


As the hours of daylight lengthen and the birds begin to sing;
I watch the skies and earth for a harbinger of Spring.
A shoot of green,
A willow bud – fuzzy, gray or white;
A songbird from it’s southern home, heading north in flight.
But all I find on this drear day, when waking from my bed;
Is winter’s cruel and snowy grip, taunting me instead.

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Additional Funniness

For those of you who are coming to my blog – This Life of Wander – for the first time, I’m in the process of polling my friends and family on a very serious matter….the relative funniness of my younger sister, G. (Okay…enough with the initial…her name is Gen!)  If you haven’t read the post entitled 95% Funny, you can click HERE and read it for yourself.  After you’re done there, please come back and cast your vote in the poll below.  Simple. Easy. Sweatless. No problemo!

If you need more convincing regarding Gen’s  incredible sense of humor and wit, take a gander at another postcard that she sent my way.  This one arrived a week after my daughter posted her graduation party invite on Facebook.  Make sure to click on pix to enlarge the photo and view her comments.

Comment  inside:   Damn Facebook!



Filed under My Joys

Random Thoughts – 3/18

“Within the last century man has leaped ahead in scientific achievement but has lagged behind morally, with the result that he is now technically capable of destroying the world and morally incapable of restraining himself from doing so.”  A.W. Tozer


Filed under Random Thoughts

95% Funny

When I look at my siblings – a group of four girls and two boys – I’m always amazed at how different we all are.  I’m not talking about the physical differences like body type and hair color, but the diversity of our temperaments.  A few of us are definitely extroverts; the others are introverts.  Some are task-oriented; others are people-oriented.  Hippocrates gave these temperaments names –  melancholic, sanguine, choleric and phlegmatic – which he believed influenced our personalities.

I personally like the lesser known profile that was developed by Dr. Gary Smalley and Dr. John Trent. They base their personalities around animal characteristics.  If I could attach an animal name to each of my siblings (including myself), I’d say that there are two lion personalities, two beavers, two golden retrievers and one otter in my family of origin.

My youngest sister – let’s call her G – is the one lone otter in our family.  I don’t know why God decided to place her, all alone, in a group of six siblings, all with very strong personality traits…but I sure am glad that He did!  G. is one of the most outgoing, friendly and exuberant people I’ve ever known.  She’s thrilled with the littlest things that many of us would simply overlook, like finding loose change underneath the parking meter, or nabbing a great deal at one of her local thrift stores.   I delight in her personality type and being a Beaver myself  (slow-paced/task-oriented)  I love the fact that she embraces life with gusto!

According to The Character Therapist:

The Otter is an enthusiastic, energetic, spontaneous and friendly person. They’ve got appealing personalities and mix easily with just about anyone. They love people and are often the life of the party. They have a great sense of humor, infectious laughter, and often regale groups of people with stories.  They can be engaging, cheerful, sometimes just bubbling over. Their wide-eyed innocence and wonder keeps them sincere at heart. You might relate them to being a Peter Pan…the little child who never grew up.

Otters are all about relationship. They always seem exciting and fun, and simply thrive on compliments of any kind, as they need affirmation on their self. They enjoy the popularity, the spotlight, the center of attention. They like high-impact entertainment…so having an Otter as a friend will prevent lots of monotonous social outings. They are sensitive and want others to be happy, often being quick to offer encouragement and support to others.

A couple of years back, G. told me that her three girls had a discussion regarding who was the funniest person in their family. To my sister’s dismay, the kids voted their father the funniest, or in their words, “Dad is 100% funny. Mom, you’re only 95% funny”.  We laughed long and hard over that one!

As the months have passed, I’ve had an opportunity to see my sister at her finest and I have decided now to stand in her defense.  I think that she is also 100% funny. If you doubt my assessment of her funniness, I’d like to tell you a story and let you decide for yourself.

Last summer, in an attempt to make some much needed spending money for an upcoming trip, I participated in a local craft show, selling hand-made jewelry that I had been laboring over for weeks.  Unfortunately, few buyers came to the show and therefore, my sales were much lower than I had expected.  To be completely honest, I barely made my show fee.  I came home feeling depressed and discouraged and I called my sister G. to share the bad news with her.  A few days later this postcard arrived in the mail, compliments of my sister…the otter.

On the back was written:

Dear Mrs. V.B…

Sorry to hear the show sucked. If it’s any comfort, I hear the lady

who makes the “entomology jewelry” also did poorly.

Probably poor advertising.

See you Sunday. Love – G.

I want give my readers the opportunity to participate in this potentially life-altering honorarium.  If  you think my sister deserves to be given the title  of  “100% funny parent” please cast your vote below:


With much gratitude to Him for…

32. Sisters – a friend and confidant that goes with you for a lifetime

33. Laughter – a daily dose that makes the difficult things in life easier to bear

34. Siblings – someone who knows your whole story and loves you just the same


Filed under My Gratitude, My Joys