noticing joy on the surface of simple things … the evidence of holiness happening in the daily grind.

Pausing For The Parents November 28, 2012

Filed under: Adventure,Being New,moving,new places,Writing — lauradegroot @ 7:30 am

Mary and Andy from MN and AZ are in FL with us.  What a treat – we are having a great time in our temporary dwelling.

But, they are distracting me from writing.

They’re forgiven though,  because today they gave me the perfect gift….a lighted compass for my car.  Direction!  It’s still great to get direction from your parents.

This particular gift serves two purposes:

  1. To keep me from driving to the Alligator infested Everglades rather than the Dolphin           infused Ocean.
  2. To retrain my West-Mountains oriented internal compass, to a East-Beach oriented internal compass.  You of course cannot see the ocean until you are at it, but I’m hoping to eventually sense it.  Or not.

The compass is a really good idea.

Tomorrow is a big day.  The house inspection on our Colorado home happened today and we are praying all will go smoothly with the “inspection resolution” that must be accomplished.  We are also having our interview with the association president of the Florida condo we are moving into in on Friday.   Hope they like us?  Interesting all that has to happen these days to leave a dwelling or enter a dwelling.

Otherwise…well…(a little tiny worry)…maybe…this is silly.  Tomorrow is a new day.  Worry won’t change a thing.  This is still an adventure.  Tomorrow is Wednesday, November 28, 2012.  It should be about 78 and sunny!

I think I will pause and do a little praying.   And then enjoy a puzzle with my dad in the place I am dwelling.

Not homeless Laura


Comforts Of Home November 19, 2012

Sorry Florida, I can’t call you home yet.  Today marks 3 weeks being here in Delray Beach, FL and there is yet to be a sense of “homeness.”  I do so love your beaches.  Your blue blue sky and puffy white clouds bring me delight.  My skin thanks you for the moisture in the air, and I appreciate the abundance of topical flora.  But daily, I have to remind myself I live here now.

Last week however, a little home came to us.  Via facebook I saw the news that friends of ours had experienced the loss of a loved one.  One of the friends was in Boynton Beach taking care of things that needed family attention.  Boynton Beach is our next door neighbor, and through the speed of instant technology, we were able to invite this friend to our fancy camping space for dinner.   Ray’s visit brought us the comfort of home and familiarity, history and memories, knowing others and being known.  Thank You Ray for your presence.

The green tomatoes turned red.  Every one of them.  I picked them off my plants in October following our look-see trip to Florida.  Due to threat of freeze, they needed to come out of the cold. So I traveled with a large bowl of green tomatoes from CO to FL.  This week those wonderfully red, tasty Niwot Colorado grown tomatoes became fresh salsa for dinner.  Another comfort from home.

My friend Adie made pumpkin bars while we were skyping this week.  She came in and out of the picture, but that didn’t disrupt our conversation which included a great discussion about bread baking.  The only reason I KNEW I wasn’t at home sitting by her counter while she was making bars and talking bread, was that I couldn’t actually have some of the pumpkin cake she had made a few days earlier.  Still, it felt like home – a normal conversation; recognizing pots and pans, countertops and cookbooks; being fully myself without wondering where I was supposed to go, or where I was, or who I was with.  Thanks Adie for pumpkin and companionship.

I brought a bread recipe from home that I had intended to try for months.  I made it here in Florida.   I am going to share the recipe because it’s so delicious & simple – even those who have never made homemade bread can do it.  Baking bread is a task that is familiar and comforting. Seems like making a new recipe from home, here in my home-to-be is a good part of the transition that is taking place.

Florida, don’t be discouraged.  I’m sure you’ve got the stuff to make yourself feel like home.  It’s just going to take more than 3 weeks…

a wee bit homesick Laura


BASIC NO KNEAD BREAD                                                                                                                      Start this bread the day before you want to bake it.

(I got it from someone who wrote that it’s slightly adapted from Jim Lahey’s My Bread – I’ve slightly adapted again – so Jim gets original credit!, but I added a healthy change and tried a non-stick pot)

6 cups bread or all purpose flour.  I used 3 cups of white whole-wheat flour and 3 cups white.

1/2 tsp instant or active-dry yeast

2 1/2 tsp salt

2 2/3 cup cool water


1.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, salt.  Add the water and stir until all the ingredients are well incorporated; the dough should be wet and sticky.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.  Let the dough rest 12-18 hours on the counter at room temperature.  When the surface of the risen dough has darkened slightly, smells yeasty, and is  dotted with bubbles, it is ready.

2.  Lightly flour your hands and a work surface.  Place dough on work surface and sprinkle with more flour.  Fold the dough over on itself once or twice and using floured fingers, tuck the dough underneath to form a rough ball.

Generously dust a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with enough flour, cornmeal or wheat bran to preven the dough from sticking to the towel as it rises.  ( I USED CORNMEAL  – yum!) Place dough seam side down on the towel and dust with more flour, cornmeal or wheat bra.  Cover with the edges or a second cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours until it has doubled in size.   ( I let it rise 4 hrs because I was gone…)

4. After about 1 1/2 hours, preheat oven to 425-450.  Place a 6-8 quart heavy covered pot, such as a cast-iron Dutch oven, in the oven as it heats.  When the dough has fully risen, carefully removed the pot from the oven.  Remove top towel dfrom dough and slide your hand under the bottom towel; flip the dough over the pot, seam side up.  ( I was clumsy and dropped it in seam side down…)  Shake pan once or twice if dough looks unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes.

5.  Cover and bake for 40-50 minutes.  Uncover and continue baking about 5-10 minutes until a deep chestnut brown.  The internal temp of the bread should be around 200 degrees.  You can check this with a meat thermometer, if desired.  ( I didn’t bake without lid for more than 2 min and also didn’t check internal temp)

6. Remove the bread from the pot and let it cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.  (Are you kidding?   I took it out of the oven, put it on the table, said a prayer over the meal and sliced the warm bread and served it with brie).  Do what you will…


Palm Trees Can Be A Problem November 15, 2012

Filed under: Adventure,Being New,moving,South Florida — lauradegroot @ 8:20 am


Southeast Florida has a plethora of Palm Trees.  They make my new world here look like tropical Maui and I love them.  HOWEVER, they can be a problem.


#1. A large creature called the Palmetto bug (translation: Ginormous Roach) comes from these trees.


#2.  They line every road and block the top of all the buildings you drive by, thus preventing you from seeing if in fact the storefront says Publix or Costco or Bed Bath and Beyond for instance.


#3.  This is NOT a good place to slow down and try to look under said palm trees to see if you are supposed to turn in or not, because you will likely get honked at or even rear ended.  And I have been strongly warned that these two hazards are about to get intensified when “Season” is in full tilt.  That begins January 1.



Thank goodness for my GPS ( a gift  from my parents 4 years ago.  I thanked them for FINALLY giving me direction and boy is it a lifesaver now.)  This technology too is ‘some kind of wonderful’.  It helps me find what I am looking for when I can’t see the store name through the trees.

I successfully found the Grocery store today!



We have also been looking for a place to call home once our fancy camping gig is up.  It too has been hard to find, but today – Celebration!  We found what we were looking for and the papers were signed and sealed.   Boca Raton will be our new town, close to JR’s job and only 10 minutes from the beach!  Something heavy lifted…sigh.


So we are looking for one more something that has been very difficult to locate.  That is a buyer for our wonderful home in Niwot.  If only people could see past the brick and mortar and bumpy basement floor and know that it’s a home you can invite people to and love people there and enjoy the beauty and quietness of quaint neighborhood with AMAZING neighbors and a backyard that is simply perfect in the evening to connect and eat and refresh.  If you are people who pray, we covet that.  If you are people who know people looking for a house in Niwot – please send them our way.


There are a lot of people and places here that are yet to be found.  And I am not even sure yet who or what I am looking for.  I hope I don’t miss anyone or anything good because the palm trees get in the way!

Laura – tropically thankful










“Iguanas are perfectly harmless.” November 13, 2012

This is a hard statement for me to believe.  Iguanas are common here, they are bright green but can also blend a bit with their surroundings.  This large lizard strikes me as a small aligator, though I doubt they are from the same family.  My biology brothers will certainly chime in here…

Small and little tiny  lizards are also common.  I see them daily, noticeably in the afternoon.  I have been assured these reptiles who scurry across the sidewalks are an important part of the ecosystem here as they eat bugs.  I most certainly see more lizards than bugs so far.  Aparently, their work is successful.

Wildlife is everywhere.  Mostly in the form of birds and lizards.  I have been eager to identify the birds, though I do know what a Florida Duck is – not a pretty sight I am afraid.  We have a new book that was thoughtfully given us by Lorri and Jessica, former colleagues, to help educate us on  local flora and fauna.  Some box somewhere has that book…

The unseen wildlife in the water is also everywhere.  Those common aligators and snakes can remain unseen as far as I am concerned.  Though, if I choose to learn to golf, I’ve been told they will introduce themselves from the sidelines.  Thankfully golf is not on the priority list just yet.

Water is everywhere.  Canals, little ponds, bigger lakes and of course the glorious ocean – all surround us everywhere we go.  We have certainly traded the beauty and obviousness of the majestic mountains for the vastness and powerful ocean.  I am at peace there.  It commands respect as its breadth and depth and volumn, its power, color, and clarity make you stand in awe.  “Amazing; Wow; Breathtaking; Miraculous,” are common thoughts and words – spoken, unspoken.

The created nature provides a grounding sense to the often overwhelming unknown, information overload, and decision process.  God is everywhere.  This is comforting and brings peace into our real estate concerns, our yearnings for routine – familiarity – simplicity.

It is all part of the adventure.  I am thankful for each part for there are gifts to be received from harmless Iguanas, ocean waves, learning the territory, leaning, sometimes desparately, into Jesus solidness.

Now…to make peace with the lizards.

Laura – Reptile Hunter (NOT).


HONK November 12, 2012

Filed under: Adventure,Change,moving,South Florida — lauradegroot @ 9:15 am

Laura:  “Where in the world have we landed?”

JR:  “I’m not sure, but I’ve managed to find yet another place where we are lowering the median age.”

Laura:  “You really are an old soul.   I am NOT ready to be old yet.”

JR:  Belly laughing…

This conversation happened following our trip to the $5.00 movie theater a block away where we enjoyed the movie ‘Argo’.  We stood in a long line with our friends “from the north” who are here for “Season”, who all have an accent that sounds like NY, NJ or an occasional Chicago.

We met one of these couples as we waited on the movie to start.  Here is what we learned from the husband…

Snowbirds:  Retired people from the North, here for The Season (Nov- April, but primarily Jan- Mar)

Snowflakes:  People here for just a few weeks when it’s cold in the North

Rounders:  Retired from the North, living here year-round

Then he said – “You may know who all those people are, but have you heard about the Frogs?”

We had not.

Frog:  Retired people who live here until they croak.

His wife scolded him as she hit him on the shoulder.  I howled!

JR:  “What are you?”

New Friend:  “Rounders, here to be Frogs!”  We all howled.  Well, not his wife.

This is part of our new reality at least during the nicest months of the year in South Florida!

Today on the way to church, these words were posted on a Highway sign over the road:  (not kidding)     “You Snooze, You Lose.  Don’t Drive Drowsy.”    I am thinking the Highway could be really quiet from about 1:30-3:30 – nap time?

And then there is the honking.  What in the world is with all the honking?  I still don’t really understand, but honestly – honking is epidemic!  JR got honked at on the way to church while sitting at our apartment entrance, waiting his turn to yield onto the main road.  And he was honked at when he was changing lanes on the way back into our apartment complex.  I’ve been honked at for who knows what.  The honking is quick, usually just one short honk, not a long one with a finger thrown in, though that happened when I was out with my Realtor.  She predicted it.  She’s from NYC.

I have not joined in with this widespread practice.  Its just annoying and baffling to me.

Our status: strangers in a foreign country.   And yet…people are people are people.  Haven’t met a Coloradan, or someone from the Midwest yet, but I have met my two neighbor ladies – both with dogs – and they are easy to talk with and quick to share a place to walk the dog or get good Itallan food or directions to the Target.  They are some of the many whom I’ve met who share that they are from somewhere else too, but once they got here to South Florida – honking, Season, humidity and all – they fell in love and are staying.

They’re probably going to be Frogs.

Laura – not a honker, not yet missing the snow.


Fancy Camping November 11, 2012

Filed under: Adventure,camping,Change,moving — lauradegroot @ 3:22 am

I’ve gone camping and slept on the ground – no thanks.
I’ve gone camping and slept in all types of campers – yes please.
I’ve gone camping and stayed in the sleeping cabins and the big cabins and I’ve gone camping in “drywall” (my dad’s unfinished home he was building. There was a potty, but we did sort of sleep on the ground with a mattress and the drywall kept us dry!) – I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

My husband and I rented an RV from Cruise America and traveled to Florida from Colorado through 8 states in 5 days. We qualified for the Rick/Gwen challenge to do something redneck and slept in a Walmart parking lot the first night. Free. Noisy. No shower. Did the trick.  Thanks for the tip fellow campers.

We found a few KOA campground to land the rest of the evenings, always arriving in the dark of night where we did a late night check in, slipped our reservation in the mail slot and carefully negotiated the 30 foot hotel on wheels into its drive in-drive out sliver of dirt.  Not having any type of leveling features on our “rig” (lingo ya know for RV’ers), I would stand outside and point JR in the way of parking as level as possible, not always possible of course.   We never rolled out of bed.

KOA’s are functional, inexpensive, near the Hwy.  They all seemed to be home to some, storage for others and camping for a few.  We were frugal with our electricity, clean water, and grey/black water space.  Neither of us interested in learning ‘sewage dump 101’ in the middle of Georgia.  At the KOA, we could plug in, use their water and bathouse.

For the most part, KOA suited us just fine.  Just two small instances will be remembered:

#1. JR getting reprimanded for washing the dishes in some large sink in the laundry room.  Well, to his credit, the previous KOA had advertised you Could do your dishes in Their sink.  All KOA’s do not have the same rules apparently.

#2. I went to take a shower at our last KOA and upon entering I notice a Frog.  A light green 3, 4, 5 inch frog on the front of the sink.  I thought at first this must be  a plastic frog for campground practical joking around.   No So Much.  His friends, same color, different sizes, were hanging around on the floor, the towel dispenser and one of the shower stalls.   I took a record speed shower in the non-frog stall reminding myself the whole time that frogs are generally harmless – though I’m not sure why they need to share human bathroom space.  I returned to the camper, boldly notifying JR that I would Not be returning to the bathhouse  and Would be using the RV facilities for the remainder of our stay.  No Thank you KOA – you can keep your Frog infested bathhouse to yourself.

Saving grace for this KOA was that we picked up the freshly dropped pecans from their pecan trees – with permission of course.  Now to find a nutcracker…

So many have contacted us to ask if we are settling in here in Florida.  Thanks for asking.  The answer is ‘no’ to the settled part, but that is because we are Fancy Camping.  We have a space that is drywalled and painted and supplied with appliances and running water.  We have people and especially Dog friendly neighbors.  It is common to meet the dog, learn its name, age, sex, issue and then as you are moving on, the human will say, “o by the way, my name is Vinny.”  On a recent evening potty walk (wherein you must be be fully clothed even with undergarments as you won’t be alone when you go on this walk and the humans like to chat),  a woman pulling out of her driveway yells out her window – “Your dog is SOOOO cute!”  She asks his name and breed age, says she has two golden retrievers ages 1 and 2 and says we need to set up a play date.  She drove off as I enthusiastically agreed.   I have no idea what her name is.

My intention was to post nearly daily.  I wrote 3, one of which disappeared after I wrote it & hit post on the “quick post” page.  That was followed by Chaos Day 1 and 2 where a group of men came and packed up our stuff including the computers, (day one) and put it all on a very large truck (day two).   Then we proceeded to be without reliable internet for our journey and honestly I was a little numb and very concerned about our kitty that would not eat or drink for 2 days.

We landed just shy of 2 weeks ago.  I got the computer back, I have internet, and I’ve been on it daily looking for a place to live after our fancy camping stay is ended.   I think its time to take up the blog again.  Good for me to document the adventure.  Hope you want to come along!

I don’t know why exactly, but it has been hard to engage with anything routine (?) or normal other than having time with the Lord over coffee in the morning and making dinner for JR at night.  These days have been sweet for our relationship and our trust in our Extravagant God.  They have also been disorienting as everything seems new and so much is still uncertain.  This is rich soil for growth.

For now, fancy camping it is.  We may not be perfectly level, but our lives are built on a firm foundation.  I doubt we will roll out of bed.

Slightly tilted…Laura



wa·ter·shed (noun) 1. an area or ridge of land that separates waters flowing to different rivers, basins, or seas. 2. an event or period marking a turning point, a change of course.

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noticing joy on the surface of simple things … the evidence of holiness happening in the daily grind.

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