Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Chocolate Coated Meme

“And when all of the flourless chocolate cakes and chocolate mousse or ganache cakes have come and gone, there will still be nothing like a fudgy brownie, dry and cracked on top, moist and dense within, with a glass of cold milk.”
-Richard Sax
When I came across this quote the other day included in the beautiful pages of a Susan Branch book, I began to think about the comfort of chocolate and decided to put together my own little Meme! I'm sure it is not the first Chocolate Coated Meme, but I thought it might be fun to do another! Have fun!

Heather's Chocolate Coated Meme

1. How do you feel about chocolate? Love it, hate it, or somewhere in between?
I really really like chocolate - after all I'm writing a Meme about it ....

2. What is your favorite ‘affordable’ chocolate fix?
I like to buy a bag of Dove milk chocolate and have one in the late afternoon when I'm feeling a bit peckish and need some extra energy to get started on making dinner!

3. What is your luxury chocolate ‘once in a blue moon’ treat?
I like to buy a BIG Toblerone once in a long while and eat one piece a day - unless The Historian finds it, it will last 9 days! I also love the wonderful chocolates at our local coffee & chocolate shoppe, but I never buy them for myself!

4. What is your favorite fruit and chocolate combination?
Strawberry & Chocolate, if you please!

5. What is you favorite chocolate and nut taste treat?
Any nutmeat, when introduced to good chocolate, is improved, but I would have to say, macadamia nuts and chocolate are my favorite!

6. White, milk, dark or bittersweet chocolate - where do your preferences lay?
Milk chocolate, thank you!

7. What is the most unusual chocolate combination you’ve sampled? Take it or leave it?
Chocolate covered potato chips! Mmmm!

8. Do you have any fond chocolate covered childhood memories?
Running with my older sister to the corner store for 10 cent chocolate popsicles and running all the way home!

9. Have you ever been party to a chocolate covered disaster?
There is a picture of me at 2 in a diaper with a chocolate popsicle running all over my face! My most embarassing chocolate mishap was sitting on someone else's chocolate spill at a young people's party - I had to explain it all night! I also dropped a tray of chocolate cake at a funeral luncheon once ...

10. Do you have any chocolate stain removal tips?
Diluted dish soap seems to work for us. Let it soak and then wash as usual.

11. What is your favorite chocolate sauce?
Chocolate fudge - homemade is best!

12. Favorite chocolate kissed ice cream flavor?
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk (Mooney's at Macinac City, MI just after we walk the Bridge on Labour Day is a wee taste of heaven on earth)

13. How do you make hot chocolate a real treat?
I like real whipped cream on top and a peppermint stick to stir!

14. What is your favorite brand of chocolate chips?

15. Do you nibble chocolate chips before they reach the cookie dough?
How else can I be sure they are fresh? Just safeguarding the family ...

16. Brownies! Fudgy or Cake-y, which do you choose?
Fudgy all the way!

17. Care to share a favorite chocolate recipe? We’ll follow a link if you like!
18. Do you own a 'Chocolate Fountain'?
NO! My children keep begging for us to get one, but I keep seeing them at Goodwill, and my thought is 'Someone has bought this thing, used it once and it took more than 2 hours to clean and that is why it is at Goodwill for some other poor misguided person to buy'. I could be wrong, but a simple fondue pot is much more my style!

19. In your opinion, is there any time to avoid chocolate?
Cheap chocolate is to be avoided at all times! There is nothing worse than waxy tasteless chocolate coating the roof of my mouth! Also, it is good to avoid chocolate when ... actually I can't think of any other reason! Can you?

20. What is the nicest ‘gift of chocolate’ you have ever received?
Half eaten squishy soggy chocolate cookie crumbs shoved into my mouth by pudgy baby fingers when our little ones were 'learning to share'!

21. Have you thanked God for making the cacao bean lately, and giving you taste buds to enjoy all of the wonderful things that can be made with it?
Yes, yes, and again, yes!
Well, if you have come this far without getting up for a little snack of chocolate you are a better person than I! If you'd like to join the fun, please consider yourself 'tagged'! Oh, and do let me know if you have joined the party! Um, well, um ..... I guess I should have washed my hands before tagging you ... there's a bit of chocolate on your shoulder ..... sorry!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Faithful Examples

"Nothing short of the Holy Spirit can really help forward the cause of righteousness on earth."
Elizabeth Fry

I read Hero Tales by Dave & Neta Jackson to the children each day after lunch. I'm not sure who enjoys them more - the children or I! We are currently reading Volume II which includes excerpts from the life of Elizabeth Fry.

What a faithful woman of God! I was struck by a few important details of her life - primarily that she suffered with a chronic illness, but she didn't allow that to stop her from following her calling. She was a Quaker and mother to 11 children; she was involved in starting Sunday Schools, charitable societies and schools.

It was after her 10th child was born that she felt God's calling to make a difference in the lives of the women who were imprisoned in Newgate Prison in London, England. Her reforms and ideas are still the basis for many of our current prisoner rehabilitation programs, and there are Elizabeth Fry Societies in many countries worldwide continuing her work.

One of her goals for her children was if they lived to adulthood they would be useful in helping others and not caught up with themselves. She complied a daily Scripture reading book for busy mothers and had it bound in red leather. Her daily prayer:

"Whatever I do in anything,
may I do it as to Thee."


Monday, February 26, 2007

Window Inspiration

For more than 2 years we have enjoyed the view from these three windows in our front room, my very favorite room in our home. For more than 2 years I have had some fabric to make window treatments for these windows, but have been overwhelmed, undecided and consequently, they are still bare! Well, it is time to get on with this project! I've found inspiration once again in the writing of Grace Livingston Hill.
"But, when Julia Cloud heard the stupendous price that was asked for ready- made curtains or curtains made to order, with fixtures and installation, she exclaimed in horror: " Leslie! This is foolish. We can easily make them ourselves, and put them up for less than half the price..."
Just a few pages further on:
"By night every clean little window in that many-windowed house was curtained with white drapery, and in some rooms also with inner curtains of soft silk. The house began to look cozy in spite of it's emptiness ..."
Quotes from Cloudy Jewel by Grace Livingston Hill, 1920
I have purchased lovely decorator fabric and plain white drapery lining, 16 yards of each. My fabric is a mossy sage green jacquard with a slight sheen, and it doesn't match my sage green paint perfectly, but it's not bad. It is so hard to match in artificial light to a paint sample that is 3 inches square. I hope it will be alright! We can always repaint a mossy-er green in the spring, if they scream at each other, I suppose. Our room takes on different colors as the light changes in the room.
I don't want to cover up too much - we love the light! I just want a warmer, cozy feel. The windows are wonderful, but a bit large for me to try to curtain! I hated the sheers that covered them when we came, and actually, they were torn, terribly yellowed and smelled faintly of smoke.
Soooooo..... any suggestions? Favorite patterns? Inspirations for large windows? Ideas? Help? I don't suppose I can get this done in one day, or even in one week, but I am really determined to get at it! No putting it off any longer! At first I was intimidated by the cost of the fabric - just not wanting to mess it up I guess, but I've decided I have to get over that and just force myself to forge ahead bravely! In the eternal scheme of things, it is just not worth fretting about any longer!
Mossy green jacquard fabric.
This window is 11 feet tall!
I was thinking of just putting swags just on the two side windows.

This window is the smallest, only 55" wide!
This one is 80" wide - that's my loom right in front of it!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Modesty Revisited

Last week at our church fellowship, I was once again dismayed by the immodest clothing worn by many of the young ladies, and even a few 'middle-aged' women. This quote from Cloudy Jewel by Grace Livingston Hill touched my heart this week so I thought I'd share it.

This is Aunt Julia’s response to Leslie’s new dress:

“It’s beautiful, darling, and you are - exquisite! But, dear! It seems terrible for my little girl to go among young men so sort of nakedly. I’m sure if you understood life better, you wouldn’t do it. You are tempting men to wrong thoughts, undressed that way, and you are putting on common view the intimate loveliness of the body God gave you to keep holy and pure. It is the way cheap women have of making many men love them in a careless physical way. I don’t know how to tell you, but it seems terrible to me. If you were my own little girl, I never, never would be willing to have you go out that way.”

Her older brother Allison concurs:

““Well, kid, I must say I agree with Cloudy,” he said half reluctantly at last. “The dress is a peach, of course, and you look like an angel in it; but if you could hear the rotten things the fellows say about the way the girls dress, you would not want to go out that way; and I don’t want them to talk that way about my sister. Couldn’t you stick in a towel or an apron or something, and make a little more waist to the thing? I’m sure you’d look just as pretty, and the fellows would think you a whole lot nicer girl. I don’t want you to get the name of the Freshman Vamp. I couldn’t stand for that.””

Wonderful Aunt Julia comes up with the solution:

“ … but at last Julia Cloud came to the rescue with needle and thread and soft rose drapery made from a scarf of Leslie’s that exactly matched the dress; and presently she stood meek and sweet, and quite modest blooming prettily out of her pink, misty garments like an opening apple blossom in spite of her recent tears.”

Quote from Cloudy Jewel by Grace Livingston Hill

As it becomes increasingly difficult to purchase ready-made modest clothing for our beautiful Dreamer, and even for myself, I find our family talking about the issue of modesty more and more, and marvelling at how quickly we have slipped into acceptance of public exposure, even in the church. We are a nation 'putting on common view the intimate loveliness of the body God gave us to keep holy and pure', even when it comes to our little girls.
I am praying that God will show me a way to be an encouragement towards modesty with our young Christian women. I read some of the results of The Rebelution's Modesty Survey with great interest, and I hope it will go a long way in educating our culture saturated youth - the church of the future.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

I didn't mean to disappear!

I really didn't, but somehow I blinked and this week went by, and I am still catching my breath! You know how it is sometimes!
I am feeling some better, so thank you for all of your prayer support and kind comments. God is so good! We did have a productive week of homeschooling for the most part, but are struggling again with attitude. This time it's the Teacher! Not really! The Storyteller would rather not do any school work at all, though I try hard to make it interesting for my very active auditory learner! The Dreamer has taken to sighing with every assignment and trying her best to giggle her way off topic. I feel like we are heading for the teen years all too rapidly!

My Thursday evening was very pleasant, as two homeschool moms came to chat and scrapbook! It was a good time of fellowship and a great excuse to make brownies! Also, I actually got my whole sticker collection back into it's sorted binder pages and I started to sort stacks and stacks of pictures. Those big black boxes from Creative Memories really hold A LOT! Thanks Mum for all the pictures, and for DATING them! If I had 1/10th of your organizational skill I'd be laughing!
Sweet Dreamer isn't feeling very well! My Historian and I were just praising the Lord again that the children have been well for almost a whole month - no colds, sniffles or nasty achy bone flu bugs! The Dreamer just has a cold I think, but her asthma complicates everything, so we are praying. It started yesterday with a sore throat and fever and now she is coughing. Poor sweetie! Time to start the breathing treatments. More big sighs I expect!
Today, I joined roughly 150,000 other women for a Beth Moore simulcast one day seminar. It was so powerful. I am at present too overwhelmed to really share the joys of the experience but I will at another time. The Scriptures are so very powerful, and God is using Beth Moore to communicate them in a humorous, humble, real, life changing way. I took 12 pages of notes and I need to go over them with my Bible in hand and flesh them out and listen as the Voice of God speaks to my hear through His Word. I pray for quiet to do that tomorrow afternoon.
A whole day away from our children is so good for me, though I barely remember at times how to speak with adults! It was a joy to see women who were such an encouragement to me when we were experiencing immigration difficulties when we first moved back to the U.S. from Canada. I miss these women and especially the Bible Study I attended with them, but I felt called to serve in AWANA this year. I met a young mom who is 'drowning in a sea of loneliness', so I pray that God will use me to be an encouragement to her. I certainly know how she feels.
I've been thinking a lot about loneliness this week, and about the dear 'kindred spirits' I left behind with our last move. There is so much to be learned about utter dependence on God when you aren't surrounded by your kindred heart girl friends! There is so much blessing in finding friendship in unexpected places! I need to keep praying about these thoughts and the Scriptures God keeps on bringing to mind concerning friendship before I post more, but it is 'on the back burner' of my heart!
I think that's all for now! I have freshly bathed children to cuddle, inhale ,pray with, smooch and tuck in, then I'm off to bed myself! If all of our weeks fly by this quickly I won't have this privilege much longer!
As I was heading out the door this morning, The Storyteller said, "Momma, you look good! You look ready to learn! You look sooooo pretty! And you know I almost always tell the truth!!!!" I'm telling you, this boy is going to be a charmer!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Drip! Drip! Drip!

DRIP, drip, drip! It wouldn't be so bad if it was all outside of the house, but these drips are audible inside, and there is no denying the slightly soggy carpeting, 'sigh'!

We thought we had this problem fixed two years ago, but I guess, given the right conditions, ice can back up and lift shingles any old time! It is a bit discouraging, but certainly not the end of the world. We have learned so much about purchasing a home from this experience - buyer beware is only half of the story! On a more cheerful note, the temperature hit 41 F today and it was nice to see the snow melting.

Also, The Storyteller and I had quite the insightful conversation today. It went something like this:

'Momma! I have to check your liver! Let's make an appointment! The 10th looks good for me, how 'bout you? O.K.?

After he stuck his 'liver testing device' under my sweater, he proclaimed in a loud voice.

'The blood is bad! It's very bad! That's not good, is it? We have to do more tests! There will be one or two surgeries but you'll be sleeping. It's going to hurt! That's not good, is it? You might even die really soon, but that's o.k. because Jesus already got you ready for heaven. That's good isn't it? Come back next week for more good blood.'

This Momma is really hoping her sweet boy has not been blessed with the gift of prophecy .... just yet!

I have good days and bad days with my health. Can you tell what kind of day this was?

The Storyteller had a great speech therapy appointment today. It was very encouraging to know we will soon be finished with therapy. The Storyteller needs to learn to organize his thoughts before he begins to speak and that will solve many of his problems. He likes to talk - a lot! Mrs. Therapist said he wouldn't have nearly the problems speaking if he wasn't so bright! I had to laugh at that one!

We are learning about God's covenant promises each day and today's was such a comfort and blessing.

I will be your God.

You will be my people.

I will dwell with you.

These promises are found all through Scripture. It is wonderful to dwell in the presence of God and to know He loves me.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Our Dwelling Place

Psalm 91
Safety of Abiding in the Presence of God

1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High

Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress;

My God, in Him I will trust.”

3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler

And from the perilous pestilence.

4 He shall cover you with His feathers,

And under His wings you shall take refuge;

His truth shall be your shield and buckler.

5 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,

Nor of the arrow that flies by day,

6 Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,

Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

7 A thousand may fall at your side,

And ten thousand at your right hand;

But it shall not come near you.

8 Only with your eyes shall you look,

And see the reward of the wicked.

9 Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge,

Even the Most High, your dwelling place,

10 No evil shall befall you,

Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;

11 For He shall give His angels charge over you,

To keep you in all your ways.

12 In their hands they shall bear you up,

Lest you dash your foot against a stone.

13 You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra,

The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.

14 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;

I will set him on high, because he has known My name.

15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;

I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.

16 With long life I will satisfy him,

And show him My salvation.”

I am thinking so much today about a dear young family who are in the midst of a sorrowful trouble, the outcome of which is so very uncertain. I have been praying for them in the quiet moments this morning, and reading this Psalm to the Lord as I place their names in appropriate places. They have recently memorized this Psalm as a family and are claiming these promises as they cling to The Author of their hope. We have also picked this Psalm to memorize in the coming weeks as a family since we find so much comfort and blessing in it. It has been called 'The Christian's 911', and while I understand it is a Messianic Psalm, pertaining primarily to Jesus, I know the promises are true for the 'adopted' children of God also! We are dwelling in the refuge of the Almighty.

Image from Antique Clipart

Roast Beef Economy

Last night when I was grabbing a few groceries I overheard a young mother lamenting the cost of beef. Her cart was full of frozen prepared foods and her husband was wanting her to buy a small roast, that she didn't feel they could afford. It made me think of a roast I purchased the week before last. Here is how it worked out, cost wise.

8 pound bottom round oven roast at $3 per pound = $24
Meals for a family of 4

1. Delicious warm roast beef for supper - 4 generous helpings
2. Cold roast beef sandwiches for 2 lunches - 8 helpings
3. One large pot of beef with vegetables and barley soup - 21 bowls (some given away, some eaten, and some in freezer)
4. Cold roast beef 'chunks' for a 'hodgy podgy' cold plate lunch - 3 servings
5. Beef slices with juices in freezer (to be re-warmed) - 4 helpings

Total: 40 servings at about $.60 per serving

I happened to be in line behind the mom who didn't think she could afford a roast beef and her 'cart total' was over $230 - from what I could see, it was just frozen food and a few snack foods and soda pop, but I was trying not to be too nosy!
I don't want to come across as judgemental or superior, but I wonder at the 'deception' of thinking that it is more economical to buy frozen prepared foods. I have never found this to be the case. I feel like I am able to feed our family of 4 more nutritiously and economically when I buy sale cuts of meat and veggies in season and make things myself. It may be a time saver to buy prepared foods, but since I find it takes little time to prepare simple wholesome meals, and there is great satisfaction in knowing exactly what our family is eating, I think I'll stick to ' the old fashioned way'.
I am so very glad for a mother and grandmother who taught me these principles of home economy, and a grade 9 'home ec.' teacher who re-enforced these ideas. I wish I could get the message to these young moms who think that there is only one way to feed their family, or who think cooking 'from scratch' is too hard and expensive! They might just be surprised!

Pink Party Squares

"Good for funerals to brighten the plate up!" That's what my mum has written on the top of this recipe card! We like them for other occasions too! They are light fluffy 'marshmallows' on top of tender melt-in-your-mouth shortbread. Very sweet! Cut with a wet knife and serve small portions.

Pink Party Squares

Bottom Layer:

1/2 cup butter, 2 Tablesppons brown sugar, and 1 cup of flour. Combine until crumbly and press into the bottom of a 9x9 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes until lightly brown around the edges.


In a nice heavy saucepan combine: 1 cup white sugar, 1 envelope plus 1/4 teaspoon of plain gelatine and 1 cup of cold water. Stirring carefully, bring to a boil over medium heat. Stop stirring and boil for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Transfer to bowl of electric mixer or use hand mixer for beating. Beat in 1 cup of icing sugar. Continue beating. When mixture thickens slightly, beat in 1 teaspoon of baking powder. Add 1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring and a few drops of red food colouring to desired shade of pink. Optional: add 1/2 cup of chopped drained marachino cherries. Pour gelatine mixture over bottom layer and refridgerate. Cut with a sharp wet knife into 36 pieces.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Smiley Face Salad

The Dreamer made this salad all by herself! She was quite pleased!

The shells were hot and ready to be stuffed!

I forget to take a picture after they came out of the oven because we were so anxious to eat! I always thought this looked like too much work, but it was really simple and yummy!

As you can see, the Dreamer and I made a really quick and simple supper together recently. Three Cheese Stuffed Jumbo Pasta shells - the recipe from the back of the box with just a few additions and substitutions! It was a nice change and easier then stuffing manicotti, but I think it will be included in our 'Italian night' side dish recipes, rather than as a main course. It was too rich to eat very much, so even though we enjoyed The Dreamer's Happy Face Salad with toasted almonds, and fresh homemade wheat bread, everyone was hungry in the evening. I didn't have too hard a time 'selling' breakfast - even to my non- breakfast eating guys!

Didn't The Dreamer do a nice job with the salad Grammy? She really wanted you to see she is trying to be more helpful Mum! She has mastered making the lettuce and spinach bites smaller, now that I have convinced her that we are not a family of horses - now she just needs to make more salad! I told her that bowl was about right for Daddy and I and she looked aghast (this week's vocabulary word!).

Our veggie selection is pretty slim right now - everything is very dear, and not very nice. The Storyteller is 'dying' for cucumbers, so I am hoping they will be nice tomorrow when we go shopping! I am so looking forward to the re-opening of the farmers market in spring! Let's face it - I'm just looking forward to spring ! My gardening catalogues are pouring in!

Tea Party

Today we enjoyed a small Valentine Tea Party with some friends! The Dreamer set the table and The Storyteller put the napkins out. It was fun to use our new cloth - so pretty. I didn't find any spray roses, but my mini carnations were quite a nice addition! The children chose the menu - vanilla cup cakes and iced sugar cookies - I added my mum's pink party squares because I have not had them in sooooo long! We had such a nice time just talking and visiting. I wanted to have a craft ready for the children, but there was dissention in the ranks, 'please can't we just play - it's been so long!' So play they did! I like to keep things simple sometimes! It was a busy day, but lovely, and now we are all ready for rest.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The View

I took this picture from the front room window this morning before the snow began again in earnest! It was so pretty today, but I really miss my skylights on these snowy winter days - they get covered up quickly and every room feels strangely dark! Even with all of the rising warm air within the house, they are still snow covered and now have a sheer layer of ice too! Having washed the skylight windows inside often from a tall ladder, I know just how warm it gets up there! I'll be glad when the sunshine returns - cold or not, our skylights will melt and once again give me joy!

Cake in a Jar

I promised Brenda at Coffee Tea Books and Me this recipe some time ago and decided today was good day to make some ‘just in case’. I used to have these in my ‘hospitality pantry’ in case of unexpected or last minute guests - they are so simple to make and easy to grab off the pantry shelf, slide out of the wide mouth jar, slice and enjoy with a cup of hot cider or tea. You can also use regular canning jars and spoon out the slightly warmed cake to serve witha scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of warm brown sugar sauce or caramel sauce for a handy, homey, simple dessert.

Applesauce Cake in a Jar or Spoon Cake

¾ cup butter, softened (you may use shortening instead)
3 cups of sugar
4 eggs
2 cups of unsweetened applesauce
1 ½ cups of raisins (OR currents, dried cranberries or omit completely)
3 1/3 cup of chopped nuts - walnuts of pecans are nice or a combination of the two
3 1/3 cups of all purpose flour
½ teaspoon of baking powder
2 teaspoons of baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons of sea salt
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of cloves

Generously grease 8 wide mouth sterilized pint jars. Bring a small pot of water to boil and soften canning jar lids in hot water. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and prepare your boiling water bath.
Cream butter with sugar and beat in eggs until smooth and yellow. Add apple sauce. Sift dry ingredients together and combine with raisins and nuts. Stir until just combined. Fill jars to ½ way point - one cup of batter works well - I like to use my ice cream/ mashed potato scoop for this job and a wide mouth canning jar funnel also is a big help.

Wipe any batter from rims or jars and bake for 45 minutes. Test for doneness as you would for a cake. Take out one jar at a time and wipe the rim with a hot clean damp cloth. Apply hot lid (you might need to press down a bit or cut off any that rose above the jar) and ring to jar while the cake is still hot and finger tighten. Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Any that do not seal are ‘taste tests’!!!! This has never been on my pantry shelf for more than a few months - we can’t seem to forget we have them, even if no unexpected guests arrive! Enjoy!

One a penny, two a penny ....

Those are The Dreamer's hands as she pipes on the icing! Mmmm!

Last weekend while enjoying a good look at all of the spring items in the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store nearby, I saw a simply lovely book by Tasha Tudor - a child’s book about Easter. I could not help reading the whole thing through and enjoying the lovely artwork and simple heartfelt words - it was as if I was transported to a springtime garden for just a moment.

One of the 'surprises of Easter' mentioned in the sweet pages of the book was the joy of waking up on Good Friday morning to the delight of Hot Cross Buns. That nice reminder, along with our Dreamer singing ‘Hot cross buns, hot cross buns, one a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns ….“ all afternoon yesterday!

Since it has been over a year since we enjoyed these, I thought today might be the day for a batch! I keep praying that we don’t loose power before they are out of the oven!

Easy Easter Buns (Bread Machine Method)
½ cup scalded milk
¾ cup very warm water
1 ½ tablespoons dry milk powder
1/3 cup melted butter
2 cups unbleached white bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup sugar (we like date sugar, brown sugar or raw sugar)
1 ½ teaspoons of sea salt
¾ teaspoons of ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
the finely grated zest of 1 small lemon rind (about 1 teaspoon)
2/3 of a cup of currents (OR plump raisons, minced candied citron, or chopped dried cherries are great choices too!)
4 teaspoons of active dry yeast
Place ingredients in bread machine 1 ½ pound pan in order given an follow the DOUGH or WHOLE WHEAT DOUGH cycle method in your bread machine instruction booklet.
When dough cycle has ended, pat the dough on a lightly floured board into a 12 inch square and cut into 12 equal smaller squares (a 3x4 grid) or 16 smaller buns (a 4x4 grid). Pat each into a round and place on a cookie sheet for individual buns or in a greased 9x13 inch pan for a pan of buns. Allow to rise 45 minutes , score a large X on each bun with a sharp knife if you wish and bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes (a bit less for individual buns). Remove and brush with glaze. Add piped butter cream icing ’crosses’ if you wish.

Combine until smooth and apply with pastry brush to tops.
1 frothy egg white ( I reconstitute dried pasteurized egg whites for this purpose since I can take no risks with raw egg products - the buns are hot when I glaze them)
½ cup icing sugar (powdered, 10x or confectioner’s - whatever you like to call it!)

I have also very successfully doubled this recipe in my Kitchen Aid mixer using the dough hook (without the bread machine) and used a basic sweet dough method to mix and raise the dough. One Easter morning, many years ago I arose early and made 3 double batches for a sunrise service breakfast in our church in Michigan - such lovely memories!

Preparing for the Storm

I understand that New York State is digging out from over 11 feet of snow, so our little 'storm' in the Midwest is comparatively minor, but still, we are enjoying snow. In preparation yesterday we checked on our batteries, stockpiled water, corralled the candles, brought in more firewood and went to the local StuffMart for our prescription refills. I was astounded at the crowds of people at the StuffMart - unusual for a Monday morning to be sure. The carts were filled with shovels, salt, food, warm clothing, games, books, videos and other 'essentials'. I spoke with our cashier and she indicated that since the 'storm' was announced they had enjoyed a steady stream of stockpilers.

I was pleased to see so many taking the storm seriously, for I know the preparation they were able to do yesterday will stand them in good stead for the days to come. The snow is here and still falling, and the latest indication is that freezing rain will likely wreck havoc with tree limbs causing downed power lines and possibly causing long outages. Perhaps it was the smaller storm last week and the days the children spent home from school that precipitated the preparations, perhaps many learned the hard way and didn't want to be caught unprepared again.

In thinking about all of these preparations, I was praying that in the 'snowed in' days ahead there would be time for some 'eternal preparation'. It is often in times of uncertainty that people have time to think a bit about life, and perhaps some small 'seed', planted by God Himself or one of His faithful, would take root in the heart of many who realize that they are as unprepared for eternity as they are for this life.

We can do many things to prepare for an emergency; we make our plans and preparations using the best information we have, but in reality, we can never be completely prepared for all possible outcomes. That can be a fearful thought; the future is so unknown to us. Never to God though. There are no surprises for Him. For those that are resting in the 'peace that passes understanding' based in a close personal relationship with Him through His Son Jesus, there is no fear of the future. The questions of this life and the next are in His care - and He cares - perfectly!

I'm praying for the still small voice of God to penetrate the hearts of those caught in the storms of life today - whether they be of the snowy kind or not!

You can make a Candy Heart message of your own at Hearts have fun!

Monday, February 12, 2007


My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Empress Heather the Sage of Giggleswick on the Naze
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

I never would have guessed!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Quietly on to 40

I can't deny it any longer - I'm now forty years old! I still cannot believe it, and my poor parents are in a state of shock! How can their youngest be 40? As of supper time today, I am no longer in my 30's! I've decided not to stress about it, but it is rather unsettling.

We enjoyed a quiet celebration today. This morning we went to worship with our church family - I had the privilege of teaching Junior Church this week. I really didn't feel like doing it, because I have been plagued with a sinus headache for a few days, but it was good to be there and good to share the truth of God's Word with the children. I made a pan of brownies for their snack and they really liked that part!

We went out for lunch to a favorite restaurant, but I threatened my family in the severest terms - they were not to tell our waitstaff about my birthday! I have never enjoyed the thought of strangers singing a compulsory 'Happy Birthday' to me in a restaurant, and I am too shy to be thus singled out in public. We had a lovely time and a nice relaxing afternoon - then out again for salads and cake for dinner! I feel very spoiled! Next year, I am expecting our then 10 year old Dreamer to be capable of whipping up some sort of cake, but for this year Cracker Barrel's Cola Cake was a fine substitute for homemade.

The only hard part of this day was being separated from my parents by almost 700 miles. Though we have just had a lengthy visit with my Mum, it was still hard to be apart on this day! We had a good long talk on the phone while I opened my gifts from Dad and Mum. I took a picture of my pretty flowers for my mom to see!

I don't feel too much older! I have been praying about my 40th year. I know my Mum thoroughly enjoyed her forties and I plan to do the same! I am comfortable in my skin and content with all the wonderful gifts God has given to me. I feel so incredibly blessed and loved. I continue to pray for better health and daily wisdom, and I pray for a deepening of my relationship with the Lord. I want 'for me to live is Christ' to be ever more truthful, though I see so many areas where I know I continue to live for self.

So, I am quietly on to forty now, and glad to be passing this milestone! I don't have to worry about it any longer!

My 'big gift' from my Historian is to be a good used truck! I have thought for a long time how handy a truck would be - and with spring just a few months away, I know I will be at the garden centre. Our van has been used for 'trucking' far too often! I need manure for the garden, and mulch. We could use a few trees, and a yard or two of topsoil. There will be more perennials to buy this year, and maybe a bench for the garden. I'd like to find a few dozen nice rocks to start a bit of a rockery. We need to haul those branches to the city compost .... oh yes, a truck will be well used! We have a farmer friend who buys good used trucks at auction so we'll have to talk to him about it. It has to run, and not be too hard to keep running! After all I need to get to the garden centre! And home! A women in her forties should not be hitch hiking, after all!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Trouble Posting

I've been having trouble posting this week and no time to figure out just what is going wrong - I think our browser needs an update or something - but doing that on dial-up can take so much time! I'm sorry that my posts are all coming at once - I can save the draft and sometimes post later. I'll just have to get this figured out!

Last night we had a wonderful family night - we went out for an early dinner and then went to see the World Famous Lipinzzaner Stallions. It was wonderful - so lovely and so well done. We rarely splurge on this kind of 'entertainment', so it was a real treat. The children both enjoyed it, though it wasn't as fast moving as The Storyteller would have liked. He was most facinated with the ongoing dialogue concerning the different aspects of training the horses for battle in ancient times - the offensive and defensive moves really sparked his imagination! The Dreamer just loves horses and was thrilled to see them perform - her eyes were sparking and dancing with every move! Her tender heart was dismayed that they are the most branded bread of horses in the world - she learned a lot about the brands, but she was cringing at the thought of all they would suffer.

I'm not sure what we are up to today! It has been a busy week, so the house is in need of some attention. We really need to get busy and plan our Valentine's Tea a bit and the children have their rooms to tidy! The Historian is at work until 1pm, so we are all hanging out in our p.j.'s and being lazy! After the late night last night, I think we might just enjoy a quiet day!

Friday, February 9, 2007

Poncho Post

Here is a picture of The Dreamer in her new pink 'poncho'. My sister knit it for her with yarn that my mother purchased! Isn't it sweet? She loves every inch of it's cuddly softness! Thank you Auntie K!

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Roses Forever

Don't you just love a bargain? I sure do! One of our favorite Amish family restaurants has a wonderful giftshop - I sometimes visit just to drink in the beauty and rarely spent much money, but come home with lots of ideas for our home. Yesterday, they were having a 'yard sale' and I had just a few minutes to look around after our delicious meal. I found this lovely 40's style table cloth and 5 napkins. I purchased 3 matching tea towels and have cut them down to napkin size and hemmed them, since I like to have extra napkins!

The total price for this wonderful set would have been more then $100 full price and I paid $2o! They are so pretty and cheerful - I am planning to use them for our Valentine's Tea Party and then I think they will look wonderful for a sweet girl's birthday, or outside on the patio garden this summer! So many possibilities. I have seen many simular vintage sets for much more money, and never with more than 4 napkins. I was so pleased! They go so nicely with many of our good dishes! Pretty in pink roses!

Saturday, February 3, 2007

A Week of Wellness

We have so much to be thankful for on this cold February Saturday morning! We have just finished a lovely pancake brunch prepared by The Historian, while I lazed in bed cuddling with a little Storyteller who felt more like a popsicle than a boy! The sunrise this morning was fabulous - it is cold and clear here with a stiff east wind blowing! We have a whole delicious Saturday with nothing planned, no time pressures, AND we are all well! Praise be to God!

Even Peppermint, the cat, is enjoying a snooze in the sunroom, and purring about the blessings of life! We will soon venture out, I'm sure - warmly dressed and with blankets wrapping the children in the car. I love the old fashioned idea of tucking warm robes around the children when we ride in the car - even though I know it was before the day of car heaters, we still have cozy blankets to tuck up around their legs - sometimes I throw the blankets in the dryer on high for a minute so that they are toasty warm and comforting! Childhood is so short, I do believe in the little 'extra' measures to demonstrate love and kindness to our children!

I thought I'd include a picture of our Valentine's Centerpiece. It is an old silver cake stand of my grandmother's with a lacy red paper heart, petit fours candles, heart cupcake candles, red glass 'scatters' and a pearl garland around the base - so quick and simple! I found the candles at JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts very inexpensively and they look almost edible! We are using our old red check picnic cloth for now since none of our table quilts match the red and pink theme very well!
A mouse decided to make a bed and have babies in our box of Valentine's decorations during our last move so we are 'rebuilding' our collection of heart shaped pretties! I need to get busy and look for some ideas to craft some simple decorations! This is just a quick start that I did last week when my mom was here to spur me on!