Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Storyteller's Room

The Storyteller's room is ready and waiting for him!
Our flea market find from last week is painted and in place.


His walls are lemon oiled and wiped to a fresh shine.
His airplanes are dusted, and his toys and books are as neat as a pin.
His drawers are organized and labeled and his clothes are clean.


His bedding is freshly line dried and lavender scented, and Papa Q. Bear is waiting patiently on the colourful Grammy Blanket for a cuddle!


Mama is waiting for a cuddle too! Only 5 more sleeps!

Mr. Neighbour's Gift


I took some fresh picked strawberries, still warm from the sun, over to Mr. Neighbour yesterday, and in return recieved an invitation to 'cut a bouquet' from his abundant peonies! There couldn't be a more thoughtful gift, because while I have been enjoying them from my clothesline perspective, they are even more delightful up close. The fragrance fills our home with sweetness and makes my heart sing!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Anxiety Relief


Maybe you've felt this way at times too. It's that horrible feeling of anxiety. Dread. Fear. Worry. It all seems to settle in the pit of my stomach and I can almost taste it. I get busy for a while and it seems to go away, but when I pause, it all comes rushing back.


There is only one way for me to effectively deal with anxiety - prayer. Praying through God's promises, remembering His faithfulness to me, and believing the Truth of His Word.


I know of no other way to calm a storm of anxiety, which is what I experienced after my Doctor's appointment this afternoon. As usual, I had good news and bad news, and I thought I was doing fine with what I had heard. Nothing really new; nothing I hadn't heard or read about concerning my liver condition. The same 'no cure, no treatment, wait and see' kind of stuff.


Suddenly, it hit me. I was assailed by fear.


I should have found some quiet and prayed right away, but there were workmen in my house, and a little girl who needed an 'up-do' for her ballet dress rehearsal, time pressures and so many other things that seemed more immediate. I pushed aside the fear, sent a few quick heart prayers for help - emergency S.O.S. signals really.


When I finally found a quiet moment, I asked God to quiet the voice of fear and bring to mind comfort from His Word, and He did! I just looked up the references and re-read the verses, and I thought I would share them with you, since I know there are a lot of things to be anxious about in this old world, and I am probably not the only one who struggles with fear.



When I am afraid I will trust in you.

Psalm 56:3-4


I have loved you with an unfailing love.

Isaiah 54:10


Be anxious for nothing.

Philippians 4:6


Who of you by worrying can add one hour to his life?

Luke 12:25-26


The Lord is my refuge.

Psalm 9:9


Trust in the Lord with all your heart.

Proverbs 3:5


My health issues haven't changed, but my heart is changed. The Word of God is powerful, and as I renewed my mind with the promises of God, my anxiety ceased and a flood of quiet peace filled my heart. Perfect love cast out my fear. I know I'll have these days again. I'm writing this down as a lesson for myself - next time I don't want to waste so much time before I seek true anxiety relief.

Ahhhhhhhh!


Seeing Kelli’s blog a few days ago about her family's enjoyment of Backporch Lemonade reminded me of a summer favorite that my mum used to make all the time. She stopped making this when my dad was diagnosed with diabetes because it is sweet, but it certainly can cool you down and give you a ‘lift’ on a hot summer’s day!

Mama Joy's Special-Tea

6-8 cups of strong freshly brewed tea (orange pekoe is nice)
½ cup sugar
1 can frozen concentrate lemonade
Using fresh cold tap water brought to a full rolling boil, steep over low heat 6-8 tea bags in 6-8 cups of boiling water for about 30 minutes. The amount of water you use will depend on the size of your teapot, but generally 1 teabag per cup makes for a good strong brew! Pour hot tea over sugar in a heatproof container and stir to dissolve. Add frozen concentrated lemonade and stir well. Chill. This is very concentrated so serve ½ and ½ with cold water over ice. It looks a bit murky and suspicious - as kids we called it ‘swamp water’, but it is delicious! My mum often put our glass ‘canning jar’ mugs in the freezer for that frosty mug refreshment. Ahhhh! If you find this too sweet, you can eliminate the sugar completely, and it is still really good!

Simply Sweet Tea
You don't need an iced tea maker or powdered crystals to make delicious iced tea - try this!
Bring 8 cups of fresh cold tap water to a full rolling boil and pour over 2 Earl Grey (or whatever tea suits you!) teabags in your favorite teapot. Allow to steep over low heat for about 20 minutes. Pour hot tea over ¾ cup sugar and stir to dissolve. Allow to cool. Serve over ice with a nice wedge of fresh lemon.

Raspberry Lemonade

I made a batch of seedless raspberry jam that didn’t quite jell to my liking last summer, but it hasn’t gone to waste! This is my latest use for it, but I think any raspberry jam would work - just strain out the seeds.
Dissolve ¼ cup seedless raspberry jam in ¾ cup boiling water.
Add ¾ cup sugar and stir well.
Add 1 cup lemon juice (fresh squeezed is best) and 7 cups of cold water. Chill.
Serve over crushed ice and garnish with a few fresh raspberries and a sprig of mint!
I hope these recipes will help to keep you refreshed on these warm summer days! Blessings!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Birthday Blessings!



A happy happy birthday to my wonderful husband!

The Historian is getting, um, rather historical himself! Today we celebrated his 45th birthday! It is so hard to believe, but time is slipping quickly by. We are still missing our Storyteller, but he called early this morning to sing 'Happy Birthday' to Daddy and send him hugs and kisses over the phone! He is loving being at Poppa and Grammy's and I'm afraid he is going to be totally spoiled with all of that one on one attention by the time he gets home!
The Historian preached today at our church and he did really well. He was in 1 Peter and was reminding us of all we have in Christ and how our thinking determines our actions. He was also reminding us of our status here on earth, as adopted sons and daughters of God, a peculiar people, sojourners, set apart for service. It was a challenging message and he packed a lot of encouragement in to a short period of time. I love to hear him preach the Word since he is really good at digging deeper into the truths of Scripture and making it plainly applicable to our day to day walk with God. I know that preaching is the part of ministry he most misses, so it was good to have him be given this opportunity on his special day!

We enjoyed lunch at Red Lobster with a friend and then a quiet family afternoon, during which time I made a seven layer Chocolate Pie for my dear husband! He couldn't make up his mind between this and German Chocolate Cake yesterday, but I'm glad this was his 'final answer' since it is one of my favorites too! I think we might have gotten our signals crossed since he actually was expecting French Silk Pie, but he's not complaining! For a man who didn't even really like chocolate when we were married 15+ years ago, he has come along way! It's not usually so sloppy looking, but I was in a hurry and didn't let all the layers cool completely before adding the next!
I so wish I could share this recipe with you, but a dear family friend gave it to me years ago, and I promised not to give out the recipe. I've made it for dozens of church functions and never revealed the secrets and while I have read many great cookbooks, I have never come across an identical formulation of ingredients! I won't tell you how absolutely light and wonderful it is, and that way you won't ask for the recipe!
All in all, it was a great day! I hope you all had a lovely day too!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

One man's trash ...

is an other's treasure!

Today we wandered about at a huge Antiques Show and Flea Market Extravaganza. It was huge, and very very interesting. I have no idea how people come up with some of the items we saw for sale today, but I'm even more puzzled about their pricing system. There were a lot of really neat things to see, and a whole lot of really ugly, really expensive junk. Everybody wants to make a buck, I guess.

We came home with a wire plant stand, not old, but reproduction. I met the lady who designed the wire goods and she was really nice - she has a craftsman make them for her and than she 'ages' them. I was glad to find something not 'made in China' at a reasonable price.

I was also happy to find a side table for in The Storyteller's room. It was under my budget by $10, is very sturdy and will look terrific with a coat of paint. He likes to have a bed time water (spillproof) cup like Sister and they are forever landing on the floor and rolling under the bed, so this will be a great place for his Bible and his cup. The Dreamer is under the impression that red paint would look nice and be preferred by her brother, but I'm leaning toward blue. His room has pine panelling from the 1950's and his 'theme' is antique airplanes - we framed posters of old planes and he has a planes quilt.

We learned a sad lesson in responsibility this morning. A car was speeding and spun out of control and hit the beautiful redwood fence across the road from our home. Road conditions were perfect, so he must have really been travelling fast. The fence surrounds a 5 acre estate, is less than a year old and was badly damaged. Apparently he was all right and decided to leave the scene quickly. The Dreamer watched him pull out rapidly. In doing so, he lost control again on the sharp curve just south of our home, rolling his vehicle many times and causing himself great harm. He was life-flighted to the hospital and we don't know how he is. We are praying.

If he had stayed at the scene of his first accident, he and his car would both be in much better shape.

We live in a world that is promoting moral relativism and the absence of absolutes. I don't know how personal responsibility fits into this teaching, but it is a very slippery slope, in my opinion. I love that God's Word clearly sets out an absolute standard of conduct for Believers, because while it is not easy, it is unchanging. Knowing that we will mess up due to our sin nature, and knowing that God's forgiveness is readily available makes that standard gentle to bear. While living with the consequences of our wrong actions is never easy, knowing without a shadow of a doubt that God will strengthen us to endure the trail makes taking responsibility for our actions bearable. The end of the trail is growth, a deeper relationship with the Father, a strengthening of the mettle of my character, and a longing to share the journey with others.

Friday, May 18, 2007

8 Random Things About Me


8 Random Things About Me

I've been tagged by Revee for an "8 Random Things about me" MeMe!

Here are the rules I found over at her place:

Each player starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves. People who are tagged write a blog post about their own 8 random things and post these rules. At the end of your blog you need to tag 8 people and post their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment and tell them they’re tagged, and to read your blog. Here are 8 Random Things About Me:


  1. I read cookbooks like novels - especially older cookbooks. You'd think this would make me a better cook, but I just stick to the simple stuff.

  2. I crave sewing and crafting time the way some women crave chocolate or salty snacks.

  3. I also crave chocolate and salty snacks!

  4. My counter tops and desk are always cluttered with papers and books.

  5. My favorite vacation spot is Mackinaw City, Michigan and my favorite thing to do there is watch the sun go down over the Straits of Mackinaw after a day of walking the Bridge and eating Mooney's ice cream.

  6. I don't really like shopping - unless it is antiques, craft or plant shopping.

  7. I love to give and feel very blessed that my husband supports me completely and never questions my giving.

  8. Homeschooling isn't always a joy for me, but I feel that we are called to do it and the joy comes in being obedient and knowing that God renews my strength each day.


Now I am suppose to tag eight more people. So many people have already been tagged so I'll just say that if you are reading this and you haven't been tagged already - consider yourself tagged! That's how Revee got me! I was just innocently reading her show and tell and there it was!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Missing Brother?


This is The Dreamer in her nightie with the telephone headset on reading 'Amelia Bedelia' to her brother 700 miles away just after 9 am this morning.

Methinks she is missing her brother!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I'm thankful for .....


Don't be alarmed - you haven't missed Thanksgiving! I'm just trying to get a jump on the heart of thanksgiving!

While Grammy was here for a visit, she started a new 'game' for The Storyteller. For a long time he has played "Whaddif?" which evolved from "Woof?", which being loosely translated means, "What if ... ?". Due to his wild imagination, thirst for mayhem and destruction, and propensity toward random acts of violence, "Whaddif?" has been a fanciful parade of WORST CASE SCENARIOS. Not such a fun game ...

Grammy is making an effort to change the game - and it's working! The new game is "I'm thankful for ....". The conclusions are far more positive and the lack of violence is refreshing - thank you so much Grammy! Why didn't I think of this years ago?

So today, as I was hanging out the first load of washing - in full fledged 'we are almost done the renovation now I can finally spring clean' mode - I began to play "I'm thankful for ...".

Would you like to play too?

I'm thankful for ....

  • a late night call 'we made it safely home'
  • the morning mists lingering and the rays of sun breaking through
  • breezes - wonderful refreshing breezes
  • an old hymn bringing to mind my Saviour's love
  • clothes dancing on the line
  • a pressure washer to blast away a season's worth of grime
  • a tidy shed, a place for everything and everything in it's place
  • re-discovering old garden tools and putting them to use
  • footbaths
  • singing trees
  • ice cold water
  • tepid showers and good strong soap
  • a growing girl giggling along beside me

I'd love to know what you are thankful for today!

Monday, May 14, 2007

The BIG Quiet

Poppa and The Storyteller
It's too quiet here .... way too quiet. Sure, the birds are singing, The Dreamer is humming, the cars are going by, but the quiet in our home this afternoon is BIG! Something is missing ... someone who fills our days with energy, excitement and lots and lots of stories! Our everyday life with this special boy is anything but dull!

The Storyteller was invited to have his first 'all by myself' visit with Poppa and Grammy in North Bay, and after considering and praying about if he should go or not, we decided he was really ready for this BIG adventure. We scrambled to get him ready quickly this morning, packing his clothing, favorite bear and school books, and now he is on his way in the Grammy-mobile to North Bay!


We will miss him terribly, to be sure - in fact we already are missing him. The truth is, I hardly know how to function without him here! The Storytller is just such a wonderful busy boy! For me, this is a blessed gift from my mum and dad - a gift of time. What could be more precious? Not only are they choosing to use their time to invest in the young life of our small son, but they are giving us some extra time with our dear Dreamer, and time to work on some long put off projects that just never seem to get done when there is a little boy constantly needing attention.
The BIG quiet won't last long, so I need to make a list of projects, prioritize them and get to work, but for now, I am just enjoying this unexpected gift.

Mother's Day ... without the smoke alarm!


I must say that yesterday was one of the best Mother's Day's in my remembrance! For the first time in many long years, I was blessed to be with my very own Mum on Mother's Day! I do hope you all enjoyed a special day as well!


Mother's Day used to be so hard for me - all of those years of waiting and longing for the blessing of children were painful and difficult. I think it is because of this that my dear Historian has attempted to make the day more special for me - with mixed results! When we were still in ministry, it was far too rushed on a Sunday Morning to make breakfast in bed for me, but the last few years have been different! While my husband is very capable in the kitchen, the distraction of eager helpers has caused a few problems in the past. Severely burnt toast, spilled eggs and flour explosions have all occurred! Last year a thin plastic cutting board was accidentally placed on a hot burner and proceeded to melt, burst into flames and make for a very smelly, loud morning!


Yesterday I arose before the children and made some Maple Muffins and a fresh fruit salad for when my Mum and Dad awakened. Dad was here to take Mum (Grammy) back home, since she has been with us for 3 great weeks and her visit was over. I had my shower and hopped back into bed just in time to be presented with a yummy breakfast and many lovely gifts from The Historian and the children. My breakfast was delicious and the tray was adorned with fresh picked creeping charlie blossoms! We went to Sunday School and church where I taught Children's Church during the sermon hour.


When we arrived home I put a batch of rolls that had risen way too high into the oven and we readied potato salad, fresh fruit and veggie tray, rolled cold meat and cheese platter, 7 bean salad and fresh rolls for lunch. We had lemon bars, brownies and oatmeal cookies too! Mmmm!


The Dreamer, Grammy and I watched 'Back to the Secret Garden' - a rare treat for a beautiful Sunday afternoon! The boys had a good rest - Poppa was tuckered from his long drive the day before. When everyone was rested we went to our favorite Dairy Barn. We ate yummy ice cream, fed the goats, petted the cows, went for a walk around the farm, watched some baseball practice and played 18 holes of mini-golf! Grammy and I were 'free' golfers, as well as receiving free ice cream sundaes, so that was really quite nice!


It was quite late when we got home and as we were getting ready for bed, I was expressing my appreciation to my sweet husband!


"Just think ... a whole Mother's Day, without the smoke alarm!"


Bliss!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Changes


I have just removed Rachel's blog element of de-tale from my favorites list, not because I no longer enjoy her blog, but because she has decided to take down her blog and use her limited energies in other directions. I'll miss her insights, creative projects and faithful witness, but as a homeschool mama living with chronic illness, I fully understand the need to make careful choices in how to spend the time and energy allotted to me. Blessings Rachel!

Oatmeal Unadorned



Growing up, my Mum's oatmeal cookies were anything but plain! Often I would come in from school to the sweet spicy smell of Dad's Cookies, crisp and flavorful with molasses, nutmeg and cinnamon. Oatmeal cookies were filled with chocolate chips, nuts and coconut or chucked full of pecan pieces and plump raisins. Mum's Munchers were a family favorite for years - crunchy and good, but anything but plain.

My husband enjoys more simplified flavors and so for years we have been searching for an oatmeal cookie recipe to suit his taste, and his memory of cookies he enjoyed in his youth. Soft and chewy, no nutmeats, raisins, spices or chocolate to sully the fine flavor of oatmeal, and of course, covered in powdered sugar.
I think I've finally found it! Today I made a recipe from an Amish Family Cookbook, but I made some alterations and so I feel that I can share it. This is a sweet cookie, but I have found that altering the sugar quantity changes the texture, and since chewy was the goal, I used all of the sugar!

Chewy Oatmeal Cookies
1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
3 cups of quick oats (not old fashioned)
1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar for rolling and dusting.
Put on some praise tunes or quiet hymns. Strap on your favorite apron. Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and get baking!
Cream butter and sugar in your mixer until smooth; add eggs one at a time and and beat to combine. Add vanilla and beat 1 minute more. Sift flour, salt, soda, and baking powder together and beat on low speed. Add oatmeal and stir until just combined.
Using a large cookie scoop (1/4 cup) scoop level balls and roll in powdered sugar (confectioner's or 10x sugar depending on where you hail from!). Place balls on cookie sheet about 3 inches apart. Flatten slightly with a glass bottom dipped in powdered sugar. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until no longer shiny. Remove from cookie sheets - dust with more powdered sugar if you like!
Serve with big glasses of ice cold farm fresh milk and don't count the calories! A serving is as much as you can fit between thumb and forefinger!

Weary?

Have you not known?


Have you not heard?


The everlasting God, the LORD,


The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary.


His understanding is unsearchable.


He gives power to the weak,


And to those who have no might He increases strength.


Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men


shall utterly fall,


But those who wait on the LORD


Shall renew their strength;


They shall mount up with wings like eagles,


They shall run and not be weary,


They shall walk and not faint.


Isaiah 40:28-31

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Celebrating National Apron Day


Monday, May 14th is National Apron day, and two great blogs Not Quite June Cleaver and The Fruit of her Hands are hosting lovely apron give aways! How fun! Be sure to visit soon, and don't forget to don your apron!
Image from AllPosters.com

Monday, May 7, 2007

More sewing for Dreamer


The Historian took this picture just before church Sunday morning! The Dreamer looking joyous in her new dress and hat, made by Mommy, and her favorite handknit sweater. She is looking way, way too grown up these days!

Thankfully. she let me braid her hair and tie on pretty pink ribbons, so I know she is still my little girl!

The wind was lifting her skirt a bit - it is pleated and actually quite flattering.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Sewing For Dreamer

The Dreamer was admiring cute colourful bandanas from Mini Boden and wanted to order some, but I was thinking $18 for 2 plus shipping was just a bit over budget. I looked at the picture for a bit and decided to try to sew some! I made this one last week and she wore it comfortably and enjoyed the compliments.


Today, I had a few minutes while the children went with Grammy to homeschool art class and decided to make another one and share the details with you!


I started with 1/2 of a fat quarter cut of quilting cotton and cut it into two rectangular pieces with my rotery cutter. The larger piece is 9"x18" and the small piece is 9"x 3". I used a scrap of 1/2" elastic 4" long and chose contrasting thread.



I started by ironing both of the long edges of the large piece, folding under the edge 1/4" twice to form a finished edge. I suppose serging these edges would work just as well. On both of the short ends of the small piece iron 1/4" to the wrong side of the fabric. This will be the tube that covers the elastic.





Sew the side hems on the large piece, either decoratively or with a straight stitch.


Keeping the short edges turned under, sew the smaller 'tube' piece right sides together along the long edge. Turn and press so that the seam is in the middle of the back (underside fo the tube). Set aside.

Using two rows of long stitches to gather the short (unfinished) ends of the large piece. Gather as tightly as you can and tie the gathering threads tightly. Center the elastic on one gathered edge and sew it securely - I used the zigzag stitch and sewed it flat.



Using a bodkin or large safety pin, thread the elastic through the small tube tube, with the right side of the large gathered rectangle and the top side of the tube facing up. Slide the gathered end just into the tube (covering the stitching rows and elastic end).

Stitch close to the edge of the end of the tube. Repeat for the other side and you are done! A little pressing and you are off!

Be sure to adjust for your child's headsize. Our Dreamer is 9 1/2 years old and wears adult sized hats. The finished size of her bandana is 24" with the elastic extended and 20" just laying flat, so she finds it really comfortable on her 21" head!



Now she wants to peak into my collection of fat quarters and choose some more bandana prints! I think I'll let her read this and make the next one herself! Maybe I'll help her make a few of Heather Bailey's wonderful 'Hooray for Headbands' too!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Family


We imposed upon a 'passer by' to snap a quick picture of our whole 'immediate' family while we were together at Great Wolf Lodge. It is funny how formal shots can be so contrived and casual shots can be so much better. We were all very tired and it was late - after the birthday party, but despite the less than ideal circumstances, it's not too bad! The Birthday Girl (my mum) is pretty in yellow right there in the middle! Doesn't she look happy to have her family all together?