A Little Creativity & Joy: Honey Apricot Chicken, Snowman Pillows & Inspiration
I am not a Suzy Homemaker sort of mom. I am somewhat artistic, but don't have the time or patience for complicated crafts or gourmet cooking. But once in a while I dabble! Maybe the fact that it's Christmas time got my creative juices going.
I ordered apricot chicken at Olive Garden last weekend and figured I could make it at home. I fileted 6 huge boneless skinless chicken breasts into smaller pieces, dipped them in flour, and sauteed them in a little oil. When they were somewhat browned, I cooked them some more in a mixture of 18 oz apricot preserves, 2 TBS honey, 2 TBS balsamic vinegar and a little bit of water (maybe 1/4 cup?). I added some cooked baby carrots to coat with the sauce too, and them served over rice. Everyone loved it (a rare feat!), so I'm planning to make it as one of the main entrees for Christmas dinner.
I also finally got around to making Christmas pillows with two of my kids. I had four existing throw pillows with autumn leaves so I just sewed new covers. I bought the snowman and penguin fabric (with small squares) a while ago at Walmart and discovered yesterday I didn't have enough for the last pillow. After Naomi (9) and Micah (11) and I sewed the first three, I went back to Walmart to find more fabric, but they were out of it. However, they did have a coordinating print with larger panels. Though the panel pattern was too small for the pillow, I managed to piece the pillow together using parts of both fabrics. I will take the covers off when it is time to use them for another season. Maybe I'll make spring covers, too. Since we finished the pillows, the kids have been using the scraps to make little pouches. I made a hair scrunchy for Melody, too. (I also had four larger throw pillows that matched my couch, but the batting was all lumpy after years of use. Several weeks ago, I bought four identical new pillows at Goodwill for $1.99 each, inserted them into the old covers, and sewed them up. They look so much fresher!)
This brings up the question: What can we use that we already have like this? I bought a message center at a yard sale a while back and had it stashed in my closet. I found it while looking for something else and decided to hang it up in the dining room. I may find some sort of Christmas decoration to adorn it for the next few weeks. But for now, I just decided to write on it! Pastor Dave Abney at Lake Baldwin Church had just preached an excellent Advent sermon on Mary and the Magnificat, so I jotted down the three main points for us to remember how she lived with joy while facing the unique challenge of an unplanned (but quite divine) pregnancy.
I love the concept of living in the larger story, of playing our own significant part in the Grand Plan. I have thought a lot about that in recent years, and I'm writing an article called "In the Middle of the Story" which I hope will be done next month. In the meantime, you might like to read my related poem, "Between the Seed and the Tree" which is, coincidentally, also based on a sermon by Dave Abney. After I wrote it, my friend Gary Thomas suggested that I break up the lines to make the reader pause and reflect. Creativity can benefit from critique by friends!
I also gain a lot of creative inspiration from other bloggers, even if they do make me envious of how gifted they are not only in their writing, but in how they live in the larger story: in the beauty they create and in the compassion and nurture they extend in their own homes and around the world. A few of my recent favorite posts: