Tuesday, April 29, 2008

What is better than one Toffee Turtle Pie?

Why TWO Toffee Turtle pies, of course! Which is just what I made yesterday to take to our church fellowship's annual Mother - Daughter Banquet. Not a crumb came home, so is that a good recommendation?

I am feeling better each day, and re-gaining my strength. Since my strong, healthy Historian is still feeling the affects of this virus and is still very tired out, I'm guessing it will take me a while longer to get back on track! The liver thing makes every illness a bit harder to recover from, and this was quite the bug. We are so very thankful that the Dreamer has escaped - we have been praying for her protection, and now are thanking God for keeping her from illness. I want to thank you for all of your prayer support and kind words! What a blessing you all have been to me!

And now, for a recipe ... be warned, it is addictive!

Two Toffee Turtle Pies
one to keep and one to share!

2 baked 9" pastry pie shells, cooled
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans, lightly toasted

Sprinkle 1/2 cup of pecans in each pie shell and set aside.

Combine in heavy bottomed pot:

1 can sweetened condensed milk (1 cup total)
1 cup brown sugar - packed
1 cup butter
4 Tablespoons light corn syrup

Stirring constantly, bring this mixture to a boil over medium heat. It sticks and burns if you don't keep stirring - it takes about 6 minutes to come to a full boil, so be patient. If you get a few brown spots, don't panic, it will all blend in! You cannot rescue it if it burns though, so keep on stirring! Boil for 5 more minutes - still stirring! Remove from heat and add 1 tsp. vanilla. Stir slowly with a spoon for 2-3 minutes or until is just starts to thicken up. Do not over stir or you will end up with a pie that is too firm to cut or eat. Pour toffee over pecans in pie shells dividing the filling as evenly as possible. Don't lick the spoon - you might burn your tongue!

Now for the fun part - you'll need about 40 unbroken pecan halves - 20 per pie. Place the pecan halves around the outside edges of the pie in and upright position against the crust - these are the turtle's toes! Push them down a bit so they stay put and than put the pies in a cool place.

The last step:

Melt 5 Tablespoons of butter with 2 cups of milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips in a small saucepan. Pour carefully over the two pie tops and while it is still warm, spread it right to the edge. Chill pies for at least an hour.

I like to cut these pies into at least 10 pieces, but 12 would be fine too since it is very rich and sweet. Not diet food, but a nice treat once in a while! Enjoy!

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Life after all

While I still feel like I've been doing 10 rounds with a pro boxer, I am much better today. I am too weak to lift a gallon of milk, but the sight of food does not make me run to the bathroom. A good thing. I have seen far too much of our bathroom lately.

I could still do the sound effects for a distant thunder storm or a horror flick - yes, my rumbly tummy really is that loud! I am so exhausted, it's not even funny! I have lost 10 pounds since last Monday. I cannot possibly recommend the method, of course, but I am trying to find the bright side. Another good thing is that my children can do toilet paper roll art to their heart's content, for weeks to come. Enough said. Also, that expensive colon cleanse herb concoction that I was considering for a bit of physical spring 'house cleaning' is no longer necessary. I wasn't looking forward to it anyway.

In my deep and profound reflections during the last 5 days, I have come to the conclusion that I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy, if I had one. When I compared the horrible emptiness and resulting painful discomfort with labor, my husband's eyebrows shot up in surprise. Of course, at the end of labor you have something to hold and cherish, which is totally not true of the flu.

We had planned to have a 'fare well' party in our home on Friday for friends who are moving to New Orleans, but we are going to have to reschedule, for sure. I want to make very certain that our party guests are taking nothing home but happy memories, so we need to be very sure that we don't have another outbreak of this wretched illness. I am working up the strength to re-sanitize everything I can again, and wash all the bedding in hot water. Again.

Now, I am sure you have had enough of this play by play. I know I have, so I will now stop wallowing in our mini-epidemic and discontinue sharing all the lovely details of our family illness. Unless, of course, The Dreamer gets sick. We are praying for her constantly.

My sweet Mum offered to jump in the car and join the fray, but I discouraged her. I really really would just be devastated if she came to help and picked up this bug. We did that once before - you can read about it here. Anyway, while we were talking, she shared something with me that touched my heart. Years ago in prayer meeting, an older gentleman weekly prayed for the sick and infirmed, never neglecting to pray that 'their pillows would be made soft'. My Mum never understood such an odd request until a time in her own life when she was forced to her bed for an extended time and realized that pillows that were generally soft and pliable became rock hard and uncomfortable after time.

Having recently experienced the sensation of rock hard pillows that hurt your head, neck and ears, I have decided that when I pray for those on my list who are bedridden or ill for an extended time, I will include a plea for soft pillows on their behalf. Our God is a God of great compassion, and knows our every need. I was also thinking of looking for some really excellent quality king sized cotton sheets to make into pretty pillowslips. When we send encouragement cards, food or flowers to those who are ill, it is certainly helpful, but wouldn't the inclusion of a wonderfully cool, soft, smooth pillow case be nice too? Just a thought.

I have not been able to read, sew, knit or do anything worthwhile to pass my time, which has been greatly frustrating. My dear husband rented 3 DVD's for my enjoyment. I can only really recommend 'Saving Sarah Cain'. It was really touching, and very well done. The other two were fine but didn't really fit into the Phillipians 4:8 framework that we judge our entertainment by.

Now, I think I need a nap. Typing and thinking - both such an effort, you know.


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Saturday, April 19, 2008

As it turns out ....

Momma's are not immune from the nastiness we sometimes call 'flu'. Such a short word for so much agony. I'll be back when I feel somewhat more human. I am praising the Lord, not for the flu, but for the two cups of tea a two pieces of dry toast I have kept down so far today. It's a start.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Quote Inspiration

Thanks to Ask Kari & Kijsa for reminding us of this wonderful quote:

When I stand before God at the end of my life,
I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, "I used everything you gave me."

~Erma Bombeck

And now to live it.

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Our guys are on the mend!!!

I am so very thankful that our guys are feeling better. Our Dreamer and I continue to be well, and last night we had the best night's sleep in 5 nights! We have so much to be thankful for! I suppose we still could get this bug, but we are sensing God's blessing of protection! The Historian and Storyteller are much better, though they are both still tired out from their virus, and have very small appetites. Thank you all for praying and for your sympathetic comments! It hasn't been the most fun we have ever had, to be sure, but it seems to be over now.

Yesterday, the Dreamer and I slipped out to Goodwill for some bargain hunting. Since we didn't get to do our planned yard sale hunting on Saturday, this was the next best thing. We found 6 modest skorts for her for summer, a perfectly cute white sweater with an offset zipper, and a lightweight green one also - with a hood. We found 2 white summer tops (they won't be white for long, I know) for Dreamer, and even a brand new white cotton sweater for Grammy. We found shorts for The Storyteller ( like new, which is so rare for the boys department), a children's book for him, and one striped wool sweater to felt for Warm Fuzzies projects. In the linens area I found a 5 yard piece of drapery fabric for $4 - perfect for upcoming projects with a young mom who wants to learn to sew! I also found some stationary - classic Anna Griffith - donated by Target in new condition! All in all, it was a good trip to Goodwill. Everything that needs a wash will go through today and get hung out on the line - it is a lovely sunny day for more laundry .... my poor washer is groaning!

I'd better get to it!

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

72 hours and counting ....

I was hoping this was a 24 hour bug, or even a 36 hour variety, but no .... 72 hours of gastrointestinal symptoms and still counting. Both guys seem to be feeling a bit better, and have graduated to noodles and broth, but neither is completely well. They have not passed on the bug to sister and I, but we are still not counting out that possibility. I have done so much laundry, used a bunch of borax and detergent, and re-filled my Sanox II bottle 3 times to disinfect the bathrooms and other surfaces. I am thanking the Lord for extra sheets and p.j.'s and for indoor plumbing!

I escaped our germ-infested home for a couple of hours to go over to Mrs. M's and finish up the slipcover for her couch! It looks so nice - not professional, but very presentable - and it suits her home so nicely. What a difference a bit of fabric can make. I left the hemming and Scotch-guarding to her, since I didn't want to leave my sickies too long. I think we are both really pleased with the end results, even though it took longer than we thought to get it finished. It was well worth the time, and has helped us to deepen our friendship, which has been a real blessing to me. I love doing a fun project with a friend! I forgot to grab my camera, but next time I go over, I'll be sure to take a picture so I can show you the 'before' and 'after'.

For now, I am off to do some more washing an run to the grocery for something to tempt our little guy's appetite a bit. It doesn't feel like a Sunday, somehow, but I am thanking the Lord for His goodness just the same.

Blessings to you!

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Take a wild guess!!!

Can you guess what we are 'hosting' this week? I'll give you some hints:

  • the washer is going pretty much non-stop on 'hot'
  • my hubby is home from work
  • he is spending a lot of time in a horizontal position
  • he has taken to laying down quickly on the bathroom floor in the middle of the night
  • both he and our sweet boy seem to be fascinated with the bathroom
  • I have cleaned sanitized the bathrooms about 14 times in the last 24 hours
  • there are clean empty buckets laying about here and there
  • toast and tea are on the 'menu'
  • crystallized ginger and gingerale are also called for
  • there are blankets and quilts scattered here and there
  • the windows are open but it still smells 'funny' in here
  • p.j.'s and robes are the wardrobe of choice
  • not much undisturbed sleep at night
  • lots of snoring and moaning
  • lots of 'Mommy, I'm so sorry - I know you just cleaned up again, but ....'
  • lots of 'Mommy! Mommy! - good news! God is making my fever go away!'

If you guessed a gastrointestinal type flu bug, you win! The big prize will be if Dreamer and I manage to avoid hosting the same bug. We are praying for healing for our guys and protection for ourselves. Never a dull moment, I tell you!

Spring is not the best of seasons.
Cold and flu are two good reasons;
wind and rain and other sorrow,
warm today and cold tomorrow.
~Author Unknown

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Afternoon Pick-me-up!

I guess I'm just too practical for my own good, but when I see people wandering around with big Sonic drinks, I just wonder - why pay for a beverage out when you can make it at home - easily, and deliciously? In the summer months we freeze fruit in season whenever possible. When that runs out, we buy frozen fruit when it is on sale in the grocery store. Both our Meijer's and Kroger carry organic varieties that are really quite nice. There is always some frozen fruit on hand for pies, crisps, cobblers, and one of the things we really like to use it for is smoothies. Today's afternoon snack - Peach Smoothies and gingersnaps! Mmmm! Smoothies are a great 'breakfast on the go' too! Be creative and enjoy!

Peach Smoothies

Serves 4
1 lb. unsweetened frozen peaches (or try strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, sweet cherries, blackberries, bananas etc. - kiwis are a no go - just trust me on this!)
1 1/2 cups yogurt - we like Stonyfield Farm Organic lowfat vanilla, but almost anything is good
2 cups cold milk
2-3 Tablespoons honey (or sugar)

Blend in blender until smooth - add more milk if needed. I use the puree setting. Our children don't like chunks so I make them really smooth, but if you like chunks, just don't blend it as long. You'll need bigger straws, though! I really loved Cultures Chocolate-Banana Smoothies when I was in college, and now I know how to make them - frozen bananas and Chocolate Ovaltine Powder instead of the sugar .... mmmmm! I even like Chocolate Covered Strawberry Smoothies - adding Chocolate Ovaltine Powder instead of the sugar to frozen strawberries!!!! Yummy! I suppose you could use chocolate syrup, but we usually have Ovaltine on hand, so that's what I use. I just found a web-site that says Ovaltine now contains food dye, and they have taken out the vitamins - so I guess I'll have to check this out! I guess I need to be a more diligent label reader! Why do they have to change things so often?

Mommy Trick .... when the children were smaller and sometimes were not eating properly, our Doctor recommended a small daily amount of Shaklee's Protein powder. They wouldn't drink it in juice or milk, but they didn't even notice it when I put it in a wee Smoothie! I used it all during pregnancy in yummy mild smoothies - it was one of the few things I could keep down!

If you are a smoothie fan and would like to share your favorite combinations, drop me a note in the comments! I like to try new things once in a while.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Big Switch

Yesterday I planted some pansies and today we hit 70F! What joy in our household! Great jubilation and wild happy dancing! Seventy is the 'magic' number around here - and our children just wish it were sixty or even fifty ....

Seventy is when we:

  • say goodbye to winter coats and hello to spring jackets!
  • say goodbye to winter hats and hello to summer caps!
  • say goodbye to winter boots and hello to splash boots - or in our case - mud boots!
  • say goodbye to winter shoes and runners and hello to sandals!
  • say goodbye to ice skates and hello to roller blades and scooters!
  • say goodbye to winter mittens and hello to ball gloves and bats!
  • say goodbye to hockey sticks & pucks and hello to basketballs!
  • say goodbye to tights and pantyhose and hello to bare legs and bare feet!
  • say goodbye to winter sweaters and hello to t-shirts and 'no sleeve shirts'!

We have actually been using mud boots and spring jackets for a few weeks, but we kept winter out just 'in case'! Now that we have hit 70 - there's no looking back!

The 'Big Switch' is relatively painless. We have no closet, but bought an old (1800's) beat up huge German walnut wardrobe and put it in the sun room where we come and go. We put a bar up in it for hangers and there are soft canvas baskets in the bottom for each family member. Off season hats, mittens, etc. are stored in an old dresser in our front entryway. It is pretty simple to take a basket to the front, take out the winter stuff and put in the summer stuff. Or visa versa. We do the same thing with coats, which are also stored in the front entry closet. Likewise, the winter boots are washed up put in the front hall closet. Mud boots take up residence in the furnace room. We make sure everything is put away clean, and that anything that is sure to be outgrown by next season is washed and given away promptly. T-shirts which were neatly stored in the bottom dresser drawers are going into the divided hang up organizers for easy access - the sweaters will take their place in the bottom drawers until cool weather comes again.

Welcome warm weather .... we are ready for you!

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Sunday, April 6, 2008


For the first Sunday in weeks we were all together enjoying fellowship with our church family - what a blessing! While congestion and coughs seem to be still hanging on, we felt well enough, and hopefully germ free enough to be out and about! What a beautiful spring Sunday too. I hope you are enjoying sunshine as we are!

We have had a pretty normal school week - just trying to catch up in a few areas and make some goals so that we finish the year well. Two months until our year end evaluation - it's sure to go quickly. As the week has warmed and dried out, we have been outside as much as possible. I am using my fabulous garden kneeler - what a difference it makes to be comfortable while weeding.

I've been helping a friend slipcover her sofa and it is going really well. The fabric is fabulous and was so inexpensive, but it is going together so nicely and will be beautiful when it is done. It is taking more time than we had hoped, but we are almost there! We spent some time on it Thursday night, and again yesterday. We are about 2/3 done! Yeah! We are both learning in the process, so it's good to be doing it together!

Did I mention weeding? Mmmmmm ... Our dandelions look like they are on steroids! The roots are thriving - but that may be because they have had a long time to grow - and though I wishfully thought they might die over the winter, they have just made themselves very much at home in our yard. Last summer when we came home from our wonderful time with my parents in North Bay, our garden area was infested with weeds. Since I had a painfully fractured foot, I really didn't make much attempt to tackle them, though I thought about them a great deal. Thinking isn't doing. The weeds stayed - cooler weather set in, and finally some snow covered them up. But did they disappear? No way! So, 30 minutes at a time, I am tackling the weeds before they bloom and make more seeds to flourish in other parts of the yard! I'm actually enjoying it, and seeing some of the spiritual applications in my own life.

My biggest personal 'weed' lately is a fearful lack of faith. The little seeds of 'what if' have taken root in my heart in a way I had not thought possible. This whole immigration question has been a big part of it, but there are other things that worry me.

It's not like these are the first 'bumps in the road' or trials our little family has faced. In fact, I was listening to a lady bitterly recite a grocery list of all of the ills of her life to a friend and thinking ' wow - we've experienced all those things, and more'. Trials are pretty common to us all aren't they? Over and over we have seen first hand the faithfulness of God, His impeccable timing, His provision, and His tender care in our lives throughout the difficulties we have faced. We know His goodness and have tasted His loving kindness. We are no strangers to His mercy, and more and more we see His blessings overflow in our lives. Time and again, God has worked out difficulties that we couldn't see our way past. It surprise me that my 'faith muscles' are still so weak, but they are.

I've been praying a simple prayer as I pulled those weeds. With each long taper root I see, I am remembering another fear and asking God to give me peace in that area. With each little hole I fill with dirt, I am praying,

'Lord, increase my faith.'

I am so blessed to know that God will answer my prayer in ways that will both bless and surprise me, and I am excited to see just how He will increase my faith. There may be more bumps in the road and there are sure to be many many more weeds to pull. What an incredible road we travel as part of the journey of faith!


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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

(well) spent ...

We are home from our brief time away - and we are all tired. The Historian had to go to work today, but the rest of the family is just quietly at home. Blowing noses. Drinking tea and hot chocolate. My cold seems to have traveled to my chest, the Storyteller is all stuffed up and our Dreamer is coughing ... again. We are a sorry lot!

We enjoyed our time away - however brief! Our overnight was fine - except that the hotel had no HGTV - a great great loss, to be sure! The children loved the pool time! We got to our interview on time and had no problems with security. We had to swear an oath to tell the truth, which is funny because we really didn't have to say much at all - but we did tell the truth, of course! Our interview wasn't too painful, except that we are beginning with a new form, and another fee - $1000, and more wait time. Oh joy. I am still not able to travel out of the U.S. (with any assurance that I will get back in again) - but we should get some written confirmation of our case status, which may or may not allow me to renew my U.S. driver's license - before it is so overdue that I am required to go through the whole re-licensing process again.

If it all sounds a bit confusing, we are confused too - we're not sure what happened or who dropped the ball with our case, but the really good news is that there on the Agent's desk was OUR CASE FILE!!!!!! Yeah!!! All 25 pounds of paperwork! It wasn't lost after all - but it looks battered and worn, and on the outside are rubber stamps (unreadable) and there is red marker scratchings of 'old case' 'closed' and 're-opened'. Go figure. We've just been waiting around and our file looks like it's been around the world and back again - it has more stamps and scribbles then my passport!

The highlight of our trip was The Creation Museum - can I just say WOW??? We were there for 5 1/2 hours and enjoyed every minute. It was terrific - so well done! We were prepared for the price, which seemed at first to be high, but I can really say it was well worth it. It is so professionally prepared and amazingly well done - and they are not finished yet! We were not prepared for the size of the museum, nor for how diverse and well thought out the displays are. It is all so clearly evidenced and supported - and lifelike! They have made excellent use of technology and the graphics are very verywell done. There are plenty of places to sit and lots of reading to do. The planetarium was awe inspiring and everything was so well researched and explained. We loved the live animals, the archeology dig, the Garden of Eden, the Dinosaurs, the Ark, and Noah's Cafe. We learned Seven C’s of History, and even took a test to see what we had learned. We got a much better understanding of devastation of the flood, it's world altering effects, the scale of the Ark and the resources needed to build it. We met Methuselah! Boy, does he ever have big feet! Around every corner there was something more to see and be amazed with!

There were hands on activities for the children - with more to come as the displays 'evolve'! We smiled at the 'THOU SHALT NOT TOUCH - please" signs and riding on a dinosaur was a treat! We even had our picture taken - looking scared stiff as if we were being chased by T-Rex! The "Last Adam" Theater is an excellent place to bring it all into perspective - and be confronted with a personal need for Christ. The restrooms are clean, easily accessed and attractive. All it all, it was a great day - and even though we were there for much longer than we usually spend at a museum, we didn't see everything, and will most definitely go back. The kids got a kick out of being in three States in one day - and we were not even very far away from home.

Today we are so very tired - a good day for writing our 'Field Trip Reports' and doing some quiet things. Our Storyteller made a sky picture to show what he learned at the planetarium. It's good to be home - hopefully we will all be feeling better soon! Warm weather is coming, and we need to be healthy to get out and enjoy it! These cold germs have hung around quite long enough, don't you think?

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