Tuesday, October 30, 2007

One Last Blush


My pretty pink roses. In May they leafed out beautifully, but soon succumbed to mildew because of all the rain, and dropped all of their leaves. In June they leafed out again, and promised many blossoms though it was very dry , but in July they were viciously attacked by Japanese beetles, despite frequent dusting. In August there was just nothing left but pathetic stems, but in September, they once again began to leaf, only to be dried up again by the lack of rain and scorching heat. Now, finally, we are at the end of October and the plants are amazingly lush and green. Hiding under all that foliage I found a few brave blossoms and brought them in to grace my windowsill as we pull out the sweaters and turn on the heat! They are tiny, but full of hope! I think they are a beautiful reminder of God's mercies - continually renewed in our lives.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Bittersweet

This morning at 1 am a dear friend went home to be with the Lord. Miss Barb was an inspiring example of how God can use a single woman to be an encouragement, blessing and support to thousands. For more years than I know, missionaries worldwide have received notes of encouragement, countless boxes of supplies, and financial gifts from Miss Barb. She was an enthusiastic supporter of our family as we served the church in Elmvale, and vital to the ministry of that fellowship. She will be missed by her family, her church family and so many others. We are praying for God's sweet comfort for Miss Barb's family.



The children have been praying faithfully since we heard she was not well just a few days ago. The news of her death was hard for them since it came so suddenly from their perspective. They had really wanted to hop in the car and make the 12 hour the trip to visit her. After a short time of weeping they recalled the verses that they have been learning about heaven and started to rejoice! They were wondering if Miss Barb had met with their GaGa yet (their Daddy's mother). They got along so well when GaGa came to visit us in Elmvale, so the children are quite sure they are going to have a sweet time praising the Lord together with the angels in heaven. They both loved to sing!


Thankfully, this day also brought some very happy news which blessed our hearts!


At 2 am this morning, a sweet baby girl named Elysha was born. She has some very special needs due to serious multiple heart defects discovered at her 20 week ultrasound. Here's what her Daddy reported today:



Saturday morning 2 AM, Elysha Elizabeth was born a little
over 5 lbs! Mother is resting (much needed...what a trooper!)
and Dad is about to follow Elysha to Sick Kids (transport tunnel). We now embark on another new phase of our family’s life.
Her oxygen levels were stable and the Dr’s kept commenting at how much she looked like her 3D photos (which we had ’proudly’ shown them earlier), they kept asking for them and holding them up to her.
Our AMAZING nurse got K. out of bed (not even an hour after giving birth ~ and still totally numb with the epidural) to
go see Elysha in the Intensive Care Unit. They took ’family’ photo’s of us with her! :) We’ll update with more details and photo’s soon.


This sweet family has a long road ahead with their very special first born blessing from God. They have many wonderful friends and family members praying for them, I know, but we are planning to pray too. That is just one of the wonderful benefits of belonging to the family of God - for though we have never met this young family, we know that God is well acquainted with their lives and is particularly interested in working everything out for their good and His glory, and in His perfect time.

We have the privilege of spending time in prayer for this precious wee baby and her family, knowing that the God of the universe truly hears our prayers. Not only is He able to change our hearts and deepen our faith as we pray, but we know from His Word He is amazingly affected by the petitions of believers. We look forward to seeing Him at work in the lives of all those who come in contact with this special little girl.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Snopes: The Golden Compass

I appreciate it when friends send out cautions about things that profoundly affect families, and I'm especially pleased when they take the time to check it out first and make sure it is valid and not simply an urban legend. I like Snopes and have found their information to be very helpful.

Tonight a friend sent this warning concerning the soon to be released Nicole Kidman film, 'The Golden Compass'. Thank you so much Mrs. B! Naturally, this will not be a movie that will pass our Family Protection Policy criteria.



If you find this information helpful, please spread the news. So many lies are so prettily packaged. It's good to be awake, aware and on the alert.


1 Peter 5:8-11
The Message

Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You're not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It's the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won't last forever. It won't be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.


NOTE: There are some 'Comments' here that may grab your interest. I got a bit wordy though with my reply, so be warned!


Check out this link for more insight:

Move Over, Mrs. Fields




I wasn't one of those teenage girls who hung out at the mall with my friends eating big giant cookies and drinking soda while window shopping for clothes. I was working at a fabric store and taking extra classes to get through the torture of high school as quickly and as quietly as possible. I tried my best to fly under the radar - and I think I succeeded. I have met old teachers and former classmates whom I knew right away, but who haven't a clue who I am unless I happen to sneeze. Didn't I mention that I have a very distinctive sneeze?

It wasn't until college, when I was a bit more comfortable in my own skin, and had given up on the constant dieting that I discovered the joy of a really big cookie. I was working in a mall at the time and living on dorm food. My parents had paid for the meal plan, because it was required, but I had classes during mealtimes and was rarely on campus for meals during the weekend. I really got tired of the disgusting bagged lunches that I could request if I had the forethought to make plans more than a week in advance. Like that was going to happen very often!

Some of my co-workers introduced me to 'lunch on the cheap'. Either a hot bowl of take-out soup or a single big cookie that would provide enough nourishment to get me through my hours without too much difficulty. My own Mum's cookies were wonderful - my favorites being Mum's Munchers, a kitchen sink kind of cookie, and Dad's cookies, a soft chewy spice cookie. But Mum's cookies weren't BIG, and her cookie jar was a long way away! There was something about those BIG cookies. You could eat one, knowing that it has enough dough to make three, and still fool yourself into thinking 'I've just had A cookie...'.



It wasn't long before I realized that there really is something to that 'freshman 40' they tease about - I think I found all 40 of those mysterious pounds in the first 12 weeks! I also began to really resent the 1/2 hour of work one cookie represented in cost and eventually gave them up in favor of cheap and nutritious soup and salad.


Fast forward to my life as a pastor's wife. It involved a lot of baking. I love baking and I really enjoyed sharing my baking with all of the congregations that we served. For a while I was on to wonderful rich recipes for super sweet squares that everyone seemed to like. Pretty, elegant, easy and 36 'treats' from one pan. I don't do nearly as much baking now that we are not in ministry, at least not as much 'fancy' baking. Muffins, quick breads, brownies and biscuits are my standbys. I still like to make squares occasionally, but for a sweet treat, I am all about cookies. Maybe it's because of the children. They are my cookie monsters!

When our Dreamer was involved in a city soccer league a few years ago, the parents were asked to bring treats. She requested 'giant' cookies, so I scooped my usual chocolate chip cookie dough with my ice cream scoop and voila! Big Cookies! Our AWANA groups also loved it when I made huge cookies for treats during special occasions. They brought back some pretty fond memories. I've lately been experimenting with other cookie doughs, like my Chewy Oatmeal Cookies, and good old Snickerdoodles. The kids loved the novelty of really Big Cookies.


A few weeks ago when I found Big Fat Cookies at Sam's Club for $10, I had to buy the book! It's been frustrating because I have been looking at the recipes and just waiting until my foot was well enough to bake up a storm! There has also been the time factor. I have quickly made my old standbys because these recipes are a bit more complicated - I actually had to read and follow directions! Some of the wait also involved our need to do a 'staples' type shopping trip. Thankfully the ingredients are, for the most part, common and available.






This week the wait has ended! Big fat cookies fill both cookie jars, and they are wonderful. Our favorites so far are 'super-sized ginger chewies' and 'totally chocolate chocolate chip cookies'. We shared some with friends this afternoon and I think they agree - yummy! Lest you think we are going into massive cookie production, each batch only makes 12 big cookies. I am limiting myself to 1 per batch - eaten very slowly with a big glass of ice cold milk or a hot cup of tea.


When I think of all the expensive mall cookies I once bought, they pale by comparison! They weren't baked with love, after all. It really makes a difference!

Edited: The Historian says my title choice is a bit braggy and boastful, but I didn't mean it to be - it was just for fun! Since the recipes are not my own, and I am humbly passing on information about some really yummy cookies that we are enjoying thanks to the fine work of Mrs. Elinor Klivans, author of my new favorite cookie cook book, I'll leave it with this note. Just smile, please!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A Word in Season



You won't be accusing me of being too private or too spiritual after this post! I'm going to be honest and forthright. I did not want to go to my Bible Study tonight. Whew! I can't believe I admitted that, in public, so to speak, but it is true.


I didn't sleep well last night because I was concerned about 'speaking the truth in love' to a friend and hurting her feelings. I awakened this morning burdened for another friend in need. I started my morning praying as I cleaned out the pantry and fridge. I had to throw out some grains and pasta because they had moths in the packages. So wasteful and so yuck first thing in the morning. I've not had this problem before, but I'll be putting all my grains in the freezer next summer, if I remember!


The day didn't get much better. I had to be the one to make an unpopular decision concerning AWANA. They were having a greatly anticipated harvest celebration complete with hayride tonight, and I decided two children getting over colds should not spend the evening out in the damp chilly air getting very excited and eating large quantities of refined sugars. It's hard to be the 'most unfair Mommy in the kingdom', but I was glad to know I was completely backed by our Historian!


I spent a good part of the morning shopping for groceries with two slightly grumpy children who are getting over colds. They were happy to be shopping for others, but I had to rein them in more frequently than they liked. They would have dearly enjoyed spending our entire years grocery budget to help their friends! Perhaps we should have limited ourselves to one store on this first trip out without the walking boot. I forgot how big the stores are and how much walking is practical with a foot that is still on the mend!

I sorted the groceries, put ours away, and put our supper in the oven while talking to my Mum on the phone. We delivered the remaining pantry items to our friends whose pantry was running on empty, but I felt very badly because I hadn't made a main dish or baked anything to go with the stuff we were taking. Next time. We ran an errand for my Mum - a return that she had to mail. By the time we got home our supper was smelling wonderful, but I was completely out of energy.
I started to rationalize skipping out on Bible study. I didn't have to go out to take the kids to AWANA. My homework wasn't complete (gasp!), and my fatigue was real. My foot was achy and I just wanted to go to bed! Before the kids!
It's amazing how when you pray for strength you don't always expect to get it. After sitting quietly and watching my Historian getting set to put our dinner on the table, I felt somehow strengthened, and thought that I really needed to go. I had green lights all the way, and was right on time!
What a blessing tonight's study was! I still have deep joy when I think about how God used His Word to show me His love for me again and to encourage my heart tonight.
When I think of how Jesus is carefully watching His followers, the true Church, watching and looking for us to bear much fruit, it just thrills my heart! We were studying John 15:1-8, the passage that starts, " I am the True Vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser ...."
I think this is a season of pruning in my life, but tonight I realized again that His purpose in pruning is to make me bear much fruit - not for my own glory but to bring glory to the Father. It's incredibly humbling to think that He would use my quiet life to bring glory to Himself, but it's right there in His Word. After the pruning, there are no should's or might's - only a will - I will bear much fruit. And to think that this is an ongoing life long process - even in my 'old age' I'll be feeling the shears and sprouting new buds!
I'm so glad I went to Bible study!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Autumn Welcome!



Over the weekend I had some quiet time to listen to wonderful uplifting ministry on our Christian radio station and have a little fun with silk flowers. And, yes, for those of you with excellent memories, I was once again attacked by the hot glue gun and bear the fresh blisters to prove it!

My Historian got the two big bins of autumn decorations out of the deep recesses of the attic three weeks ago, and I was about to put them up a week or so ago, but wasn't happy with their bedraggled appearance! I decided it was time for change, so, I ripped them apart and 'refreshed' them!

Now, we are ready for some company!



Would you care to come in? Please watch your step!


Just inside the door, in our sun room/mudroom you can take off your coat and make yourself comfortable. I placed my 'copy' of an arrangement I saw last weekend on the old cherry table to your right! I hope you like it as much as I do. I had fun trying to re-create it within my means!




As you step up into the kitchen you'll find that
I've decorated my 'apron & herb' shelf for fall.
It needed a good dusting!


You'll likely smell the pumpkin scented candle I have burning today.
I used soy wax from Swan Creek Candle Company to make it, and I've really been enjoying it! I like to sit it on the stove since it's less likely to be bumped by energetic children there!




Do make yourself at home in the family room! I've decorated the mantle with pumpkins, leaves and birdhouses. If you are chilly we can start a fire.


Are you hungry? I've just pulled another batch of maple leaf shaped tea biscuits out of the oven and there is soup simmering on the stove. I enjoy making food fun for our family - even if it is just tea biscuits!



The Rooster Family will be looking over our shoulders as we eat,
but don't worry, they are quite tame!






I call this my '30 second' center piece! A tray, 3 candles, a bunch of buckeye and hickory nuts picked up from the ground, and a packages of paper leaves! What could be simpler? The children have re-arranged them a few times already! They have found the nuts to come in handy for math problems! Imagine that!

Have I shown you our 'prayer rocks'? We 'borrowed' the idea from Kelli at The Sparrows Nest who 'borrowed' it from someone else! That's what happens with good ideas! We were always loosing, or accidentally recycling our printed prayer list, so this is ideal. Mum found the cute container at Hobby Lobby and the river rocks are from the dollar store. We use a super fine sharpie marker to write the names on, and everyone picks 2 or 3 each meal to pray for. The children just love this and it is helping to develop their prayer life, as well as making them more sensitive to the needs of others.




Speaking of the children, their happy faces greet you at the front door.


I've added a vintage postcard and a few 'fall' touches to my 'favorite things' collection here. This old black dresser is quite the painted lady and lends itself to odd little curiosities. I love the old books, spectacles and gloves, and those shoe stretchers make me smile!



Well, thank you so much for stopping by! I'd love to show you more, but Blogger is having trouble just now, and this has taken way too much time to download as it is! I really enjoyed my time with you though, and I hope you did too!



Blessings!


Heather

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim it


Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it!

Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;

Redeemed through His infinite mercy,

His child and forever I am.


Redeemed, redeemed,

Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;

Redeemed, redeemed,

His child and forever I am.


Redeemed, and so happy in Jesus,

No language my rapture can tell;

I know that the light of His presence

With me doth continually dwell.


Redeemed, redeemed,

Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;

Redeemed, redeemed,

His child and forever I am.


I think of my bless├Ęd Redeemer,

I think of Him all the day long:

I sing, for I cannot be silent;

His love is the theme of my song.


Redeemed, redeemed,

Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;

Redeemed, redeemed,

His child and forever I am.


I know there’s a crown that is waiting,

In yonder bright mansion for me,

And soon, with the spirits made perfect,

At home with the Lord I shall be.


Redeemed, redeemed,

Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;

Redeemed, redeemed,

His child and forever I am.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Our 'Protection' Policy

Last night it was 'Pizza & Video Night' at our house. It's a privilege that we all enjoy very much. We often make pizza together and the kids like to put their own toppings on, so that is really fun - and sometimes messy! Last night I started the dough in my bread machine and chopped up lots of veggies, shredded cheeses and sliced the last of our 'imported' pepperoni. While it was baking , we sat down to enjoy The Historian's video pick. After a few minutes we all realized it was a real dud - so disappointing! We turned it off and picked an old favorite from our video cupboard that we knew we'd enjoy.

In case you are wondering, the video was 'Surf's Up' and it sounded kind of cute for the kids, with a good moral lesson. My husband is having a hard time finding anything that lines up with our family values on the shelves of our local video store. We should have logged on to Plugged In Online first and checked it out. This would have been enough to keep us from popping it in the DVD player:


"Cody clearly dodges responsibilities other penguins his age have to
shoulder. He complains about having to work, and he can't see why desire to go surfing instead is a big deal. All in all, he exhibits a rebellious, self-centered attitude and never experiences any real repercussions for it. A flashback to Glen and Cody's youth shows them fighting over who'll get to eat the tuna that Mom just regurgitated for them. "

I personally had a problem with the attitudes and disturbing family dynamics right from the beginning, but was willing to give it a chance for 10 minutes or so. It didn't get better. I wasn't altogether happy with the cross dressing chicken, but that's another story. Usually my husband manages to find something worth watching, but everyone picks a dud once in a while. We forgave him!

I should say that we don't watch much t.v. at our house. It's partly because I have a problem with t.v. and my utter lack of self control in that area. Long ago God showed me that I am easily lured into setting many 'unclean' things before my eyes when it comes in the guise of 'entertainment'. We tried a satellite company once that promised we could pick and choose which channels we could receive. I think we were the only customers ever to block more than 80% of the 'basic' package. We eventually used their '90 day money back guarantee' - a first for the company as well, since it was apparent that no one seemed to know just how to give us our money back! I've already confessed to my vacation t.v. habit - HGTV addiction and all. If we had that channel at home - well, I'd have a lot of great ideas, but my house would be a shambles, I'm sure.

Another reason is our view of time. Our days are numbered by God - and they are fleeting. No one can take back the hours spent in front of the t.v. - they are just gone. Sure, we can relax, laugh, and maybe even learn a thing or two. We can also be swayed into thinking happiness involves a new car, fabulous house, perfect diamond or supermodel body shape. Personally, I find a lot of discontentment creeps into my heart when I watch t.v. - my reality just does not measure up! So, do I really want to spend my time in a pursuit that makes me forget to 'be content with such things as I have'? I don't think so!


We do have a t.v. that we use for videos - nothing fancy mind you, but it is 17 years old and is still working, most of the time. We also have a tiny 5" t.v. in our bedroom and sometimes watch the news together there after the kids are in bed. I think we get 2 or 3 channels clearly. In the summer we can go weeks without ever turning it on, since we both prefer a good book!


The most important reason we don't have more t.v. is our family 'protection' policy - and it's not just for the kids! We are seeking to live holy and blameless lives, set apart for God purposes. We base our 'protection' policy in God's Word and we have taught the children this handy 'measuring stick' verse:



Philippians 4:8

Finally, brethren, whatsoever
things are true, whatsoever things are honest,

whatsoever things are just,
whatsoever things are pure,
whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report;

if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on
these things.

As far as I can see from the commercials for the new fall season of t.v. shows, not too many of the programs for grown-ups or children fit this criteria. Perhaps I am mistaken, but I'm not willing to fill my mind with something ungodly just to find out. I know myself because I have fallen into the trap before - if I start watching and get into the storyline, I'll find a way to justify the loose morals, graphic violence or disturbing storyline. "It's not too bad, it's just a show!"

The thing is, if it doesn't fit, it doesn't fit! We have the measuring stick clearly laid out. We are looking for truth, honesty, justice, and purity. We are seeking loveliness, goodness, virtue and praiseworthy deeds. Yes, even in our entertainment! We are looking for ways to keep on meditating on the Word of God, focusing our hearts on prayer, and enjoying knowing the One who seeks intimacy with His creation. We love to laugh and relax, but if it doesn't line up with God's plan for our leisure time, is it really worthy of our time?

We have been accused of being 'over-protective' by some, sheltering our children from 'real life'. We also have been told that our kids have been exposed to excessively 'violent' stuff'. It's a bit confusing.

Our kids love A Visit With Mrs.G and some of those Bible stories can be very disturbing. We have endeavored to make sure that the first listening of each new tape was supervised, and those stories that are too graphic for bedtime are reserved for afternoon listening time. They are learning so much from God's Word and they astound us daily with their recall of the details of these amazing stories. There is a lot of blood, war and sin in the Bible, but we are not going to stop reading it with our children. In our opinion, Mrs. Griffiths is truly a gifted storyteller who is using her ability to the glory of God.

We all really enjoy Adventures In Odyssey from Focus on the Family, but some of their story lines have been sad, violent or disturbing. We make the choice to listen to them with the children and use them as a teaching tool and discussion springboard. We appreciate that Focus gives parents ample warning when a sensitive topic is being discussed, and have often withheld the story from the children until we had a chance to preview it, or until it was more age appropriate.

Even those fondly remembered 'Little House on the Prairie' episodes have been carefully screened in our home. Not all of them have been appropriate for our family - some were just too dramatic for our children at the time, and we may allow them to watch them later on as they mature. We'll see.

God calls us to be discerning. As parents we are charged with the responsibility of teaching, guiding, disciplining and protecting our children and ourselves. What we 'set before our eyes' is obviously included in that. We're making these choices for our family, and not judging others for making different choices. We don't pretend that our family protection policy is perfect, or even that we have always followed our own guidelines. It's a tough thing, being strangers and aliens in a world we were not made for. It is hard to be set apart, and to guard our hearts and minds.

With God's help, we are trying. He is the One Who guides our steps and protects us from harm. He is the One Who sets His angels guard over us. He is the One Who teaches us to listen to the still small voice and be guided away from temptation. We are just doing the 'watch and pray' part - seeking to be faithful in turning away from that which would hinder our children, and ourselves. Seeking to live praiseworthy lives, so that others may see and know that God alone is worthy of our worship.

I'd enjoy knowing about the truthful, honest, just, pure, lovely, good, virtuous and praiseworthy entertainment you find for your family!

'Free' Saturday


For the first time in two months we have a 'free' Saturday! What a blessing! No time pressures or appointments - and no running out of the house at 8:15am for soccer! The day is bright and cool - 52 degrees, but is expected to be warmer later on - and it is all our own!

We still don't have the heat on in the house but every one is cozy. The Dreamer is cuddled in bed with a book, The Storyteller has 'Prince Caspian', one of the Narnia c.d.'s playing, and The Historian stayed up really late finishing a job in his office, thus earning the right to sleep in. I awakened to a lovely sunrise coming up over the trees and streaming into our bedroom windows, spent some time praising the Lord and promptly went back to sleep! The Storyteller has a stuffy nose and a bit of a cold, and The Dreamer is also coming down with it I think. I have had a sore throat on and off this week, but nothing serious.

I think we better start to get a bit more motivated this morning so that we don't 'waste' the day, but it certainly is a refreshing change to have a day open and unpressed. I really do believe that God intends for us to have these kinds of 'margins' in our weeks so that we have time to 'be still' and know that He is God, at work in our lives. We often fill up our days with so much busyness that we don't have time to listen and wait upon the Lord. I hope to spend some time just doing that today and tomorrow.

This week has had it's ups and downs. The podiatrist replaced my 'defective' cam walker with a new one - which I am to wear. For the next while I can wear good supportive shoes for a couple of hours at a time each day, but the cam walker is still my best friend. I have tried my runners for a couple of hours, and it a difficult adjustment - more uncomfortable than I expected. I will keep trying, but slowly since I don't want to get into great pain like I was before!

We were able to find shoes for both children - good sales at Kohl's, but very few sales people to help out. We also found some pants for The Storyteller - they are all washed and ironed and ready to be hemmed! It wasn't too painful - we got 3 pairs of good leather shoes, 4 pairs of pants, and 4 tops in about 2 hours of shopping - that works for me.

On Thursday I went to have my varicose veins looked at, had an ultrasound and found out that they can't fix them until they fix something the doctor called 'arterial reflux' in both legs. It just means that the valves in the secondary arteries do not close and open - they are 'stuck' open allowing the pooling of blood in my legs. We wait upon our insurance company for approval, but hopefully they will choose to 'cover' it since can be a real problem. I will wear support stockings for a few weeks after the 'procedure' which is now a miner laser correction. It used to be surgery, so I am thankful for medical advancements.

After I am completely healed I will go back and have the varicose veins taken care of - subject to our insurance company's approval, of course. I guess it helps that my legs are at times very painful, not just ugly! Also, though I am young to have so much trouble with my legs, it is definitely inherited. My great grandfather died because of his varicose veins, my grandmother had them badly and often suffered with ulcers that would not heal, and my mum has them also, but thankfully not as badly as I do.

Well everyone is up and wanting some breakfast, so I'd better go for now. We have a few things that must get done, but I'm hoping to have some time for crafting and creating, as well as a bit of tidying and cleaning!

I'd love to hear about the ways you are spending this day - hopefully with those you love! Do take some time to enjoy the beauty of it, even if it is pouring rain in your part of the world!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Mouthwatering Muffins!

Mum’s Pumpkin
'Crunch' Muffins




1 ¾ cups unbleached all purpose flour
½ cup white sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cloves
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ cup raisins


2/3 cup milk
¾ cup pureed pumpkin or yam (canned works well)
1/3 cup canola oil
1 beaten egg

2 tablespoons brown sugar for topping

Grease muffin tin or spray with Pam. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine dry ingredients and sift together. Add raisins and stir. In a separate bowl combine beaten egg, milk, oil, and pumpkin until smooth. Add to flour mixture and stir just until moistened. Fill each muffin tin cup ¾ full. Top with a generous sprinkle of brown sugar. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out cleanly. Makes 10 nice sized muffins. Best eaten the day they are made - no trouble at our house! This makes a light tender muffin that is not too sweet. The (big and little) kids all love the crunchy topping!

My mum made these muffins a lot when I was a girl and I always loved them - I have changed the recipe a bit since she had really reduced the sugar (my dad is a diabetic) and I found that the spices 'bit' without the sugar to mellow them - plus my family has a sweet tooth! I also added more pumpkin than she does - by accident the first time! I got rave reviews for the 'extra pumpkin' batch and so I've been doing that ever since. I didn't add any more flour, so they take longer to bake, but are lighter and really yummy! When I cook pie pumpkins and puree them to freeze, I always freeze some 3/4 cup portions just for this recipe!

Enjoy!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Heart Full of Blessings


~ the fellowship of women who love the Lord and are studying His Word together
~ new help in the cleaning department
~ a thoroughly clean home and gleaming woodwork
~ the celebration of 16 years of marriage, thanks be to God
~ my husband, who loves me more today than he did on the day we said ‘I do’
~ a family field trip and the joyful exploration of our two delighted children
~ a taste of this and that at the chocolate factory
~ the final soccer game of the season
~ lunch with the coaches and other home schooling families
~ enough energy to go and cheer on the coaches as they played soccer
~ glorious sunshine and cool fall air
~ cozy warm sweaters and snuggles
~ Sunday morning worship
~ Sunday afternoon nap - a little longer today since it’s been quite a weekend!
~ supper out side in the glooming by candle and firelight
~ building precious memories
~ gooey, sticky, sweet and delicious s’mores with Hershey chocolate, if you please
~ lullaby’s and sweetly sleeping children

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Creamy White Cookies

I was recently reading an article about building relationships with your children in the kitchen by baking cookies with them. I thought it looked like an interesting article, but I was shocked to read the very first paragraph was encouraging moms to buy pre-made cookie dough! At first I thought it was an insult to the intelligence of women - after all, what can be easier than cookie dough?

I thought about the great science and math lessons that would be lost in just purchasing dough. I guess it would be a bit quicker, but it only takes about 5 minutes to make dough, and a whole lot longer to go shopping! Then I thought about the cost of those cookie rolls and all of the chemicals graciously included! Definitely not something our children should be eating!

In our young married years, I struggled a bit with rolled out cookies. I had a horrible rolling pin and it stuck to everything, no matter how much flour I used. It took me a couple of trys to find this fool proof, super easy to roll out, no chilling required, always delicious cookie dough recipe. If you are looking for a basic cookie - this is it! Maybe if everyone had this recipe, the packaged cookie dough company would go out of business!



Creamy White Cookies

Grease or line baking sheets with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream together:
½ cup soft butter
½ cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
½ cup cream (whipping, heavy, half and half - anything works!)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract


Sift together:
3 cups all purpose flour (robin hood , five roses or some other good quality flour without a bunch of additives)
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon sea salt

Add to creamed mixture and mix well. Roll on floured surface to ¼ thickness. Cut out. Bake for 9-11 minutes. Make 2 1/2 dozen satisfyingly thick and soft cookies!


Variations:
1. Make your favorite icing and ice after baking.
2. Sprinkle with colored sugar before baking.
3. Use lemon or almond extract in place of the vanilla.
4. Use for Date Filled Cookies
Date Filling:
Combine 1 ½ cups of coarsely chopped dates, ½ cup water and 1 ½ tsp lemon juice in heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat stirring constantly. Cool. Cut Creamy White Cookie dough into 3 1/2 inch rounds and place 1 teaspoon of filling in the middle. Fold in half to form a ½ moon shape. Press edges lightly to seal. Bake 12-14 minutes. Dust with icing sugar while warm. Cool completely and smile sweetly when your husband tells you that they taste just like his grandma’s cookies! Best eaten the day they are made.

Edible History Lesson


The Historian is teaching the children's history course, naturally. They have been doing an in depth world history using The Mystery of History and they are loving it! They are both learning and retaining a lot of information at their father's knee - and both of them are passing their tests and doing well on their age appropriate assignments. This week's lesson on Joseph was especially exciting for our young son - and the project was quite tasty! The Storyteller and I made the bases of the Joseph's Coat Cookies this afternoon and then The Historian helped him decorate them! Colourfully! What a fun project for them both! I think he'll get an 'A+' on this project! Mmmm!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Flannelet Weather


For the past week we have been breaking temperature records set in the 1940's - for heat! We have had the a/c on to deal with the warmth and humidity, but today everything has changed! It is finally 'flannelet weather', and I am loving it!!! I put fresh sheets on the children's beds - soft, cozy flannelet, dried on the line!


When I tucked in the Storyteller he was so happy! He told me that his bed was 'fit for a king' and that he wants those sheets for the rest of fall - if he doesn't have an accident! I reminded him that we wash the sheets weekly, and that he'll have to be content with his other set of flannels for the in between! Hopefully we'll still have some nice 'hanging out' weather since there is nothing more delicious than sheets dried outside when there is a bit of crispness in the air! I think that is the scent they try to capture in those 'fresh linen' scented candles, but it can't compare to the real thing!


Now that it is cooler, I'm ready to fire up the oven to get baking some of those big fat cookies, and make some oven meals. The cooler weather tends to invigorate and inspire me - and I finally feel like decorating for fall! I am so thankful for the change in seasons, and fall is my very favorite! Many special things have made autumn precious to me, but two of my all time happiest occasions would be our wedding, 16 years ago this weekend, and the birth of our sweet Dreamer on October 1 ten years ago - our special autumn blessing! God has been so rich toward us in pouring out His blessing in our lives! I think we choose to celebrate both our Canadian and American Thanksgivings because we have so very much to be thankful for.


Time now to find a good book and get cozy! One of the blessings of this old house is that it tends to stay toasty even without the heat on as long as the day is sunny - we'll see how long we go without it! I think I smell a hint of wood smoke in the air - I may have to leave the window open a crack and enjoy the delicious fragrance! I do hope you are enjoying and appreciating the change of season in your corner of God's ever changing world!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Heart Song


Agnus Dei

by Michael W. Smith
Album: Go West Young Man (1990)



Alleluia Alleluia

For our Lord God Almighty reigns

Alleluia Alleluia

For our Lord God Almighty reigns

Alleluia

Holy

Holy Are You Lord God

Almighty

Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy is the Lamb

You are Holy

Holy Are You Lord God

Almighty

Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy is the Lamb

Amen



We sang this beautiful worship chorus on Sunday and it has been echoing through my heart and the hearts of our children ever since. I 'caught' the Storyteller singing softly as he played with the Rescue Heros in his room this afternoon, and the Dreamer was humming it as she wrote her essay on 'The Golden Rule'. So much powerful truth wrapped in the package of a song of worship blesses my heart in ways I cannot explain. Worthy is the Lamb!

Monday, October 8, 2007

This could be the reason ...

for my added pounds! I picked up this book at Sam's Club for $10 when my mum was here, but I haven't tried any of the recipes yet! Just reading them has me all excited! I don't like to complain about the weather, but as soon as this heat lets up a bit, I'll be in the kitchen baking up some big fat cookies! Mmmmm! If you're going to eat a cookie, it might as well be a work of art!

Books & Blessings


I'll start with the blessings! I am happy to report that my foot is really beginning to heal - it's not 100%, but is so much improved, that I can finally see the end of all this inconvenience. I can sleep better at night, and that is hopefully making a big difference in my personality too - I'm sure my whole family will be glad when 'snarky momma' leaves for good!

My Daily Snippet made me smile this morning:


"Love not sleep lest thy come to poverty. Open thine eyes and thou shalt be satisfied with bread." Proverbs 20:13

I can easily see how easy it is to 'love sleep'. When I am discouraged or in pain, sleep is really my friend, but I don't get anything else accomplished, and that leads to more discouragement! It's great to see how practical God's word is in my day to day life! Time to start setting the alarm early again and getting the day started at a better time!

With all of the sitting around, I am getting to do a bit more light reading than usual. I'm also gaining weight - but let's try to focus on the positive here!

My Bible study is still very much keeping my interest, and it has been a real blessing. I think I mentioned it is a Beth Moore study entitled A Woman's Heart, God's Dwelling Place and it is a study of the tabernacle. It has really been enjoyable and I'm learning things each day, though I have read the passages before. She has done all of the 'hard work' for us, comparing commentaries and digging into the original language, and she brings a refreshing perspective.

I also really enjoyed Pocketful of Pinecones by Karen Andreola. It has inspired me to enjoy nature study on a regular basis with the children, it has introduced me to more of the ideas of Charlotte Mason and added some classic poetry to my files. I found the story to be heartwarming and encouraging, so all in all it was well worth reading.

The Parting by Beverly Lewis made me happy-sad, and left me waiting for the next book in the series. It was light and easy to read, but also inspired me to get out my Amish cookbook and hunt for some pumpkin recipes. It also has some little morsels of history and Biblical truth that warmed my heart and made me smile.

I don't usually take to much time with catalogues, but the Thanksgiving Pottery Barn catalogue is simply pretty. Catalogue stylists can really be inspiring - after all their job depends on how nicely they decorate. It has me hunting through my fall decorations and other household pretties to put together my imitation of the 'look' and I even have a page pulled out to match a paint color. It's always a bit of fun to add up the cost of all of their products and see how much I save by using something I have at home to achieve a similar look.

I finished another Grace Livingston Hill classic entitled Unto The End. I hadn't read this one before and it was a bit of a departure. There were less delightful homemaking scenes, and more thrift and economy. The heart of the book is a young woman, who realizing too late the shallow character of her husband, hastily chosen, makes a decision to stick with him come what may. She artfully shields her children from her husband's lack of moral character, successfully thwarts his baser instincts and saves her family from disgrace and financial disaster. Quite an inspiring heroine.


My thirst for all things lovely was satisfied with another library find entitled The Pantry: It's History and Modern Uses by Catherine Pond. Lots of lovely pictures to look at and be inspired by and also a good bit of interesting history.


I did mention it was light reading, didn't I? My brain isn't really able to absorb much else at this time, and I have been looking for reading to inspire as well as take my mind off my discomfort. There are about 4 more books on my nightstand, but all unfinished, so I'll share them another day!

I'd better end with a blessing also - this blessing is for you! I would like to wish you a very Happy Canadian Thanksgiving today! Usually I would have a turkey in the oven and some friends come for supper to share an early Thanksgiving with them, but my foot isn't up to that today. Never the less, it is a day to be thankful. God's blessings are abundant and His mercies are new every morning!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Breakfast Boredom?


My hubby isn't letting me do much, but I managed to slip into the kitchen for a few minutes and throw this treat in the oven this morning. It took about 5 minutes to get it together and the very ripe bananas in the fruit basket were put to good use. It's my mum's old favorite, Banana Breakfast Ring, with a few alterations. We enjoyed it very much when we were visiting this summer, but we both found it a bit 'oily' and so I've been experimenting and today it was declared by all to be 'wonderful'.


Breakfast Banana Ring


In a large bowl, stir together:

2 cups all purpose flour

1/3 cup white sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup chopped walnuts



In a clean bowl, blend:


3 large eggs, beaten

4 medium bananas, mashed with a fork

1/4 cup melted butter

1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce

1/2 cup corn syrup

1 teaspoon real vanilla extract


Preheat your oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a 6 cup bundt pan or tube pan. If you would like to omit the lemon glaze, dust the pan with 1 tablespoon of sugar and you will get a dark crunchy sweet 'crust' without the extra glaze step.

Make a 'well' in the dry ingredients and pour in banana mixture. Stir just until all dry ingredients are incorporated and pour into a pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until done. Cool 10 minutes and then invert on a rack, removing the pan. Finish cooling, or serve slightly warm, your choice!
Glaze: Combine the zest of 1/2 of a lemon, 2 tablespoons milk and 1/2 - 3/4 cup icing or powdered sugar to make a thin glaze. Drizzle over cooled ring.
8-9 nice sized pieces , but it is hard to stop at just one! Enjoy!

Happy Eyes!



This is our Dreamer - now 10 years old! Her gift this year was long awaited for - her first (and only) American Girl Doll - Kirsten! She was so pleased and excited. I am looking forward to sewing for this beautiful doll, but in the mean time, she has a lovely bed and a darling quilt from Poppa and Grammy, a bedside table, a sweet bonnet and recess coat, and her 'spoon' bag . Our Dreamer is quite happy - she still loves dolls and now she has Kirsten at her side all the time! I wonder if 'baby Lula' is a bit put out? She's had 7 years of loving, so hopefully she hasn't a jealous nature!

Of course, she has a real live doll in her little brother! What a monkey!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Just a little more chocolate ...

A new friend at Bible Study last week informed me that 'some days just need a little more chocolate', and I have decided she's probably right!

It must be true because we have been on a 'parade of sweets' since Friday. That's when we baked for the soccer coaches lunches - with a few to spare for the home cookie jars! After soccer, Mum baked two perfect pumpkin pies since that was what Dreamer requested for her birthday. I felt that we had way too many sweets in the house and thought that we would end up throwing them out stale! Alas, the brownies are gone, the oatmeal cookies are a faint memory, the snickerdoodles have left a trail of cinnamon sugar, and the pumpkin pie has vanished without a trace! You'll find them somewhere around my hips!

That's the biggest reason that when I bake I need to give it away quickly! Sometimes I look to food to comfort through the rough patches of our family life, and I guess I've been doing that for the past few days! I hope the scales won't show it! It's time to get back on track, and eat healthfully again! Keeping my feet up doesn't burn many Brownies!


We had a quiet family birthday party for Dreamer on Saturday night, and then my mum and dad left for home Sunday morning after we headed to church. We rested a lot Sunday and prayed for their safe travel. I have some nice books on my night stand right now that are keeping me company and helping me to keep my foot up more. We took the kids to the park Sunday and let them run and climb for a couple of hours while I sat and enjoyed the sunshine and the Historian threw the football around with the children and and pushed them on the swings.


Monday was the Dreamer's official 10th birthday and she wanted to go to a museum. Most in our area are not open on Mondays and it was raining, but we found one that was, and it was close by too. Inside there were wonderful interactive displays and a room with an 1850's house, classroom and barn represented that were all hands on and kid friendly. They put on period style clothes and had a great time. There was even a penny candy store - more sweets! The sun came out and we explored a barn and met the chickens and roosters, 7 three day old piglets and their mother, two very friendly calico cats and some wonderful horses, sheep and a goat. I wasn't able to see everything because walking around on uneven ground is difficult, but we had a nice time as a family and plan to go back as soon as I am able. I love that my hubby makes every effort to take the day off for the children's birthdays - he only went in for a few hours in the evening.


Last week, knowing mum was needing to get home to her own responsibilities, the Historian began to look into some time off work to help out at home. He was able to get some time off and has been home most of the day. He will bring some work home to keep current, but he is doing all the driving, errands, and he also supervised homeschooling today. He plans to be home for this week and maybe next, so I hope I heal quickly!


We have been really struggling with terrible attitudes and un co-operative children for many weeks now, so we are prayerfully going to go 'back to the basics' and requiring first time cheerful obedience and respect. We have been slack and tried to give grace (we are soft spoken, non confrontational type people), but the end result has been disrespect and stubborn disobedience. I have been lacking the strength to carry through with consequences, the mental acuity to be creative with my discipline, and the consistency required to be effective, so needless to say, we've had a downward spiral of behaviour. Not something that I really like to admit here!


I pray that this with the Historian at time at home will be a time to get us back on track and also to give us some insight into the hearts of our children and where we need to make changes and work to correct the character issues they are struggling with. The Historian and I are on the same page in this and I hope we will be able to affect some lasting changes. We are seeking wisdom from the Source, since we surely find ourselves greatly lacking!


We love the idea of gentle learning and grace parenting, but the reality in our home is that we have two very strong willed children who need some dramatic change before rebellion and disrespect take hold. There is nothing more worth the effort then the hearts of the two precious children God has entrusted to our care for such a brief season. Even when homeschooling is not always the joy I'd hoped it would be!


As I was working on my Bible Study this week I read a passage that reminded me again that suffering has it's part in refining my character. Beth Moore calls this the 'classic free will offering'. Nothing can make me give my difficulties to God as an offering, but I may choose to, and be blessed.



1 Peter 4:19

So then, those who suffer according to God's will

should commit themselves to their faithful Creator

and continue to do good.





So, we are a family in ongoing 'character building' mode, and praying for change by the only proven method - the renewing of our minds through the Word of God. We want to be more like Jesus! Amen?