Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Bacon, Basil & Tomato Pasta Salad

Fall 2013 019

 I often swing past the ‘fancy’ cheese area in front of the deli meat counter looking for really nice cheeses on ‘Manager’s Special’ – it’s a good way to try something new without investing a fortune, and it makes me get creative when I bring home something that I don’t usually have on hand.  We’ve found some yummy cheeses this way – and that’s good because our family loves cheese! One of the things I often see on sale is the cute individual fresh mozzarella balls packed in water in the little tubs. I usually scoop them up because they are so versatile in so many recipes. I had a ton of little tomatoes coming on strong in the garden at the same time that I found the mozzarella on sale, we were headed to a gathering at church and thus a new recipe was born!

Bacon, Basil & Tomato Pasta Salad

1 pound box mini penne or mini farfalle pasta
2 tbsp. light olive oil
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Cook pasta in salted boiling water 7 minutes until just tender. Drain. Immediately submerge in ice cold water for 5-6 minutes. Drain well again. Toss with first amount of lemon juice and olive oil and spread pasta out on a cookie sheet. Place in fridge to cool thoroughly and dry a bit for 30 - 45 minutes.
2 pounds cherry tomatoes, sliced in halves
8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese bite sized balls (packed in water , well drained) cut in halves
¼ cup feta cheese crumbles
1 white onion, diced finely
½ cup fresh chives (I use scissors to cut these quickly) or green onions
Add tomatoes, onions and first amount of cheese to cooled pasta in a large bowl.
2 small cloves of fresh garlic minced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh oregano and thyme, finely diced
1 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
¼ cup feta cheese crumbles
¼ cup lemon juice
zest of one lemon
¾ cup olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
½ tsp. fresh cracked black pepper
Combine dressing ingredients in a jar and shake well until they are emulsified together into a creamy dressing. Pour over pasta mixture and refrigerate overnight.
½ pound low sodium bacon cooked until crisp and crumbled
In the morning add the bacon crumbles and stir well. Refrigerate for 4-6 hours before serving. Garnish with additional bacon, chives or parsley.

Taste before serving – additional sea salt may be needed.

Makes 12 cups of pasta salad.
* Since this was originally for a potluck and needed to be ‘dry’ rather than soupy for traveling and serving, I made a small amount of the dressing. If you like more dressing, double the recipe!
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Monday, November 4, 2013

You know it's time ...

 No doubt about it - it's time to get back to my blog! The blog {that I never intended to abandon so abruptly} has been on the back burner while I figured out this liver cleanse thing. One thing (baseball) lead to another (summer time) which lead to another (homeschool) and got wrapped up in the crazy wonderful mess of  just living simply ... so, my blog and I took a very long break from one another! 

Setting up for the Storyteller's 13 birthday ... baseball theme, of course!

Do you want to know how I know it's time to get back at the keyboard and give you a few tiny glimpses into our simple home at very irregular intervals sharing totally random things about life in our wee corner of the world? Well, it was prayer, Scripture, my Mum, my Dad, three sweet friends and one total stranger. Yes siree - I'd say that I'm pretty slow and sometimes it takes a really BIG push to move me forward!

I've started to actually write down some new recipes I've been  playing with and I've been remembering to take pictures too! I'll get back to sharing some recipes. Soon.

We started studying the spiritual gifts at our church this month - starting with one of those Spiritual Gift inventories. I've done them before, but it's been a while. I've discovered that I've changed a lot in some areas and I haven't changed in others.  God has worked in my heart and life in areas that I didn't really see very well, but I'm learning! I want to share some of that here with you. Soon.

 I still get the most hits on this quiet little blog on a simple little post I scribbled out years and years ago about my Anxiety Relief  and it often leads to amazing e-mails with questions that both bless and challenge me. I need to add more to my blog on that topic. Because you know - I've had a lot to be anxious about, but I've also seen God remove my fears with the TRUTH of His Word over and over and over again and I want to share that here.

Um. I'm 42 pounds lighter then when I last wrote. Yes, that's pretty big! I'm still doing that liver cleanse thing - the one that was supposed to last for 8 weeks that I started in April? That's the one! There's a story there too.

Dreamer turned 16 on October 1st!

Storyteller  aka: My Good Knight

We now have TWO teenagers. One is driving age {but not driving yet} One is driving us crazy! Ha! Not really. Well, maybe a little bit. I am constantly calling out to God for wisdom and strength and patience. Every day. Sometimes every hour. I am so thankful for my husband who pulls me back from the edge and for children who love me and forgive me. Our Storyteller is 6' at 13 and in now playing basketball. He is hungry all the time. All. The. Time.

My sweet Historian and I quietly celebrated 22 years of marriage in October.  We've been on more 'dates' in the past month then we've been on in 5 years I think. All because it's a l.o.n.g. drive to church! I'm not sure they count though, because I've almost fallen asleep on both our dates. Thankfully my Historian is still patient and understanding and he LOVES me. He really does. Even when all I want is hot tea and a warm bed.

 I've been doing a bit of sewing lately. Quite a bit actually. These are some costumes I've recently made. The man in the middle attends the same church we do and is a huge fan of the Renaissance Festival. He wanted a unique costume to attend the festival in and I think he's pretty happy with what we came up with. Dreamer and Storyteller wanted costumes for the Trunk or Treat that was held as an outreach for the first time at our church. Our van was fun to decorate as the 'Ye Olde Amoure' - putting on the full armor of God. Dreamer dreamed it up and did most of the work.  We had so much fun - over 750 kids came through last night. We are praying that many of them will come back and get involved in AWANA and Youth ministry.

So there you have it. I'll be back soon with more and if you have any really pressing questions that you just can't wait to have answered add them in the comments and I'll answer. Soon. It is, after all, basketball season!

 In the meantime I'll leave you with a sweet treat to enjoy! Our Dreamer is moving forward with her music and learning amazing things.  She is so dedicated and committed to practice and learning.  She's preparing for several competitions and auditions right now so our home is filled with beautiful music and not-so-beautiful piano finger exercises which I would gladly do without, but she has deemed absolutely necessary. As I type, I'm enjoying listening to her sight read Canon in D. How blessed am I?  Very, very blessed indeed!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

I never thought ...

In all of those long and painful years of waiting patiently on the Lord to bless us with children, I never once saw myself growling at our children. Nope. Not once!  
I truly thought I would be a patient mom. Yesterday I proved myself wrong. 
Oh, so very wrong!

I've got to give you the back story to my less than stellar mommy moment. I'm on a liver cleansing diet - it's 8 weeks long and I am well into the second week.  It's not an easy diet - in fact I've done it once before and I was downright miserable. For more than a year I've been noticing some things about my health that made me feel like I should really try the liver cleanse diet again, but as you know ... I'm kind of a chicken. I don't like giving up my favorite foods or experiencing the symptoms of the toxins being released from my body, but I finally bit the bullet and started.

Can I just say that even though I love just the act of baking and {usually} use a great deal of restraint when I do bake, I am still a carb addict! Oh yeah. I miss my muffins! My toast and tea. An afternoon cookie. My wee taste of chocolate each day ... This diet consists of no wheat, no sugar, no dairy, limited red blooded meats, limited fruits, lots of raw veggies, wild caught fish and seeds and nuts. Seeds and nuts people! Suffice it say I eat a lot of salad - but I've always eaten a lot of salad so it shouldn't be a big deal, right? Here's a funny thing - I can eat unlimited tomatoes, broccoli and pineapple on this diet - my three worst allergens! Ha!

Needless to say my energy levels are low. Really low. Lower than usual. I enjoyed my first taste of hormone free chicken and the first simple carbs (in the form of 1/4 cup steamed brown rice) I'd had in over a week and suddenly I was fueled! I mean - watch out! I had some energy to burn.

I got ambitious and grabbed the vacuum to rid the house of the inch of dog hair that had gathered since Saturday. I mopped all the floors, washed the rugs and steam cleaned the tile. I was on a roll! I went to bed knowing that the clean floors wouldn't last long - after all the three inches of dust on the furniture would eventually float on down to join the freshly shed dog hair, but I thought 'At least a day of 'clean' floors will be such a blessing!

We woke up Wednesday and started the day as always - faces washed, everyone dressed, beds made, laundry brought to the laundry room,  a quick breakfast, devotions and TREK ( Storyteller's AWANA book). The verses our Storyteller was working on just touched my heart so deeply and brought me such joy!

We were treated to a dramatic reading of Scripture from Revelation 20 - wow! We pulled out the hymn book and sang 'Victory in Jesus' together - perfect for our discussion on the Second Coming of Christ, and then nipped into language arts. In the background our Dreamer was running through the three Sonatinas she has memorized for her upcoming Guild Auditions - amazing! I have to admit that I sat back, sorely missing my morning cup of tea, but with a heart full of thanksgiving, as I drank my oh so boring water.


Before long it was time for a potty break for our dog Bailey and I needed to iron a cooler top for myself. Storyteller took her out, and while I was ironing, he decided to check out the back yard to see just how wet it was. After a long night of heavy rains. Heavy rains. All night. Our already saturated lawn was a mess. I really think that Ohio has the stickiest mud I've ever encountered, and most of it is in our clay pit backyard.

'Yep! Too wet for baseball!'

He came in, took off his daddy's shoes (which are waaaaaaay too small for him) and let the dog off of her leash, while he proceeded to the table for more school work.

All was well until ...

I came back from the Grammy flat with my freshly ironed clothes and saw the white tile floor of our sunroom. That I just vacuumed, mopped and steam cleaned. The day before.

Covered in mud. The mat covered in mud. The floor splattered everywhere. Mud caked shoes scattered here and there. 


This is not an unusual occurrence in the spring so I think I would have been just fine if I had not glanced at the stairs up the to the kitchen. Muddy paw prints. Mud on the walls. Mud on the pantry door. 

Enter Mama Bear.

I growled.  Really, I did. Out loud.

The children heard me and immediately Dreamer sweetly says, 'Brother, I think you are in trouble!' Ha!

Some sharp toned questioning followed.

Facts were entered into evidence.

Evidence was gathered.

The suspects were identified.

The dog was apprehended, but not until she trailed her muddy self through the whole house.

A vigorous dog bath ensued. 

Lots of 'I'm sorry'.

More growling. Mama apologizing too.

Scrubbing, sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, washing of clothes, washing of many towels, washing of the mat and washing of daddy's shoes. Again.

When we got back to school work about an hour later, my blood pressure had returned to normal and I was ready turn this into a life lesson.

The reason for the mud trail ... 'I never thought'.  

In the mind of a 12 year old boy,  a yard that is way too muddy to play in does not necessary mean that that same mud will come into the house on feet and paws. It doesn't translate into hours of work and laundry and frustration for the mama - but maybe it will now.

As we spotted and scrubbed and watched the dark stains ease down the drain, we talked. As we applied the shampoo and  watched the white suds cleanse away the dirt and as we got on our hands and knees and removed the evidence from the carpet, I confessed.

I don't always think either.

I make lots of mistakes every day.  I sin. I agree with God about my sin - it's nasty. It stinks. It mucks up everything and makes a terrible mess. I repent, apologize, enjoy God's forgiveness and start again with a fresh page. Every day I whisper a prayer ... 'Lord, make me more like Your Son today. Let my life bring glory to You.'

I love that my big strapping, taller than his mama 12 year old still loves to hug me hard. Well, except when he stinks, but you know what I mean. God used a 12 year, a muddy yard, a crazy dog and my growling heart to teach me about grace and forgiveness yet again.

And I'm just so very thankful.

Monday, March 11, 2013

A week at the beach

Dreamer's evening sky over Lake Nippissing
I'm not super keen about going to the dentist. It always hurts, it's always expensive, and I rarely get any good news! Don't get me wrong - I really like my dentist. Dr. F is super caring, very gentle and has a big heart. My hygienist is wonderful too - very friendly and encouraging. All in all, it should be one of the more pleasant 'self-maintenance' exercises ... well, apart from the hurting part, right?

I go faithfully every six months for a cleaning and I love the way my mouth feels afterwards.  So clean, so fresh, so smooth ... and goodbye tea stains! I always have to fill out a form - latest health issues, changes in medications etc.. Do you have to do that to, or is this something that comes along with having an existing health condition?  I don't remember having to do a run down of my health history every six months before.

At any rate, I was having a hard time last week - just racking my brain for all of the minor health issues I'd faced in the ensuing six months. I ran out of room on the form. I . ran . out . of . room. Now that's a new one, even for me! So my sweet hygienist starts by apologizing but it's time for the measurements. Aaaaaaaaaah! After two weeks of muscle spasms in my back I didn't quite have my usual ability to block the discomfort, and it was bad. My mouth is a mess - so much so that we took a little tour with the camera and watched as my rich red blood spurted like Old Faithful at each touch of the probe. Now before you get upset with me please know this - I am a faithful flosser, an avid brusher and I always have been. My mouth just tells a different story. Ha!

The Dr. always comes in after the cleaning and we work out a treatment plan.  In fact I've never had a cleaning without a treatment plan and was beginning to think that was SOP until I overheard another lady's post cleaning chat with the good Dr.. No treatment plan for her, or the guy in the chair after her. I'm beginning to think I'm special. The Dr. took a peak and then grabbed my form - you know, the one that I ran out of room on? We discussed my notations, and I added one or two other small things I apparently had forgotten about and then with her hand on my shoulder she kindly said, 

'Oh Heather - you NEED a week at the beach!'

Another of Dreamer's evening sky over Lake Nippissing photos
Well, a week at the beach isn't going to happen any time soon. I am praying that we'll be able to get up to North Bay to visit Mum and Dad again this summer, but flying away to somewhere warm and sunny right now isn't very likely. As appealing as it may be! I had to work really hard to convince them that my life isn't nearly as bad as it looks on paper - in fact I've had a lot of blessings and times of immense thankfulness for those blessings lately.  I gave them my best smile (after the final rinse) and assured them all that I am one very blessed woman! Everyone has challenges and while it does sometimes seem like I have a perfect storm of them during more my difficult seasons, God is carrying us through with joy.

I know when I go back on Wednesday for another emergency crown two hour torture appointment that the ladies are going to ask me if we've booked that much needed week away at some warm beach. I love how my struggles often given me an open door to share the hope I have in Christ with others.  I'm pretty shy at times and not nearly as bold as I ought to be in giving the reason for my joy but I will have an opening and I plan to take it. I'm praying for boldness, along with strength and courage. We were reminded at in a message recently that the hope we have in Christ is not the weak-kneed milk-toast kind of hope that slips away at the first side of adversity, but it is the assurance that God is faithful, His Word is truth and His promises are from everlasting. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. His grace and mercies are new every morning. 

I'll let you know how it goes when I get back from the dentist! I'm getting to be 'old hat' at this but root canals and crowns are never much fun. I'm going to think about warm sunshine and take my gardening magazine ... and this time I won't forget to eat beforehand!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Soft & Chewy Naan Recipe

'Disappearing' Naan

Soft & Chewy Naan

2 large eggs at room temperature
1/4 cup plain yogurt (vanilla works well too)
3/4 cup milk (plus a tablespoon or two if your dough is dry)
1/4 cup cooking oil
2 Tbsp. raw honey
2 cups whole wheat bread flour
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt

Sift dry ingredients together. Beat eggs until frothy and add remaining ingredients, stirring until well combined. Dump the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 2-3 minute or until the dough is smooth. Cut into 30 pieces and shape each one into a golf ball sized ball; cover with a tea towel and allow to rest for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and grease a large cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper. Roll each ball into a 6" circle and place on the prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 4 minutes until the Naan is puffed and browned. Remove to a cooling rack, place the next 6 dough circles on the hot sheet and bake 4 minutes. Repeat until all of the Naan is baked. Now, count and see how many Naan are left on the cooling rack - since you started with 30 balls, you should have 30 Naan, but it's not likely! These freeze well, but even out of sight in the freezer they tend to disappear.

Our Storyteller had a rough day today. He felt that he wanted to attend the funeral of his favorite Sunday School teacher Mrs. Kathy and so I took him this afternoon, but it was really hard for him. Mrs. Kathy has been battling cancer for the last 14 years, but last week she went home to be with the Lord. Our Storyteller really cared for her - she made Sunday School really enjoyable for him and I treasured her as his teacher because she enjoyed him, rather than enduring him as some of his past teachers had. We've been praying for her and encouraging him to send her little notes to remind her that we prayed for her.

Some weeks just out of the blue he would feel a need to pray for her more often, and usually we found out later that those weeks were especially hard for her. I shared my own health struggles with her a bit and she sent me notes of encouragement in the midst of her own illness. She was always faithful to be at church whenever she could be, and often on days when I really did not feel like heading out the door Sunday morning I've thought of Mrs. Kathy and decided that if she could do it with cancer and chemo and chemical burns, I could push through my nausea and exhaustion and be in the House of the Lord in my place where I belong too. We're really going to miss Mrs. Kathy, but I know without a doubt we will see her in eternity! I'm sure our boy will have some stories to tell her!

This evening I made Naan because sometimes a boy just needs something he can tear into with his hands while he shares his heart with his Mama, and sometimes filling up his always hungering belly with something warm and comforting is a good way to share my heart with this man-child of ours.

John 6:51
I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

Blessings to you,


Friday, February 22, 2013


Cookies for my Valentine

I've really been missing blogging lately.
 It is usually such a great outlet for me, and a super record of our family life, fun projects, yummy recipes and important faith lessons learned. I love sharing my heart on my blog and hopefully some of what I share is a blessing to my readers. 
I've had so many encouraging comments and sweet responses to my writing, and I've missed those lately too. 

I wrote just 27 brief posts during 2012 and I've had a number of friends ask me why. 

Lemon Bread form Taste of Home

I often give the 'usual' reasons - I'm too busy living life to sit down and record it on my blog! Health issues continue and homeschooling seems more demanding than ever in many respects. The kids are busy, which means sometimes I feel like we're out of the house more than I'd like to be. We're getting more involved with our church now that we are members and that takes time and energy. 
It's just a season - I'll get back to it when things slow down a bit. 
I've just lost my interest for blogging for right now. 
I don't feel like I have anything worthwhile to say. 
I take terrible pictures.

PJ's stenciled for Storyteller using Silhouette Cameo

All true.

 All valid.

Just NOT the complete picture.

Mini Daffodils from last spring

 The whole truth is that I've been hiding. Trying to jump over this huge hurdle of hurt feelings that just keeps popping up at unexpected times. 

Because the situation is loosely connected to my blog, I've withdrawn from something I enjoyed to prevent opening myself up to more hurtful words.

It certainly hasn't been the whole focus of my year by any means, but it's taken up way too much of my thoughts and totally zapped my energy at different times since it all began.

I've had times of such great thanksgiving, such precious learning times, and so many fun family memories have been tucked away in my heart of hearts this year.

And yet - such a small thing - has led to consequences I would have never dreamed possible.


Dreamer's Sunset over Lake Nippissing
 This situation has dropped me to my knees, chased me into the Word
 and sent me on a journey of seeking wisdom to deal with the hurt.
In a Christ-like manner.
  I haven't always succeeded. 

 I don't see a positive conclusion in the near future.

And yet ...

 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.
~Psalm 73:26

Just this week in my Good Morning Girls Bible Study in Luke we are in chapter 6 where my heart was touched again by Truth. 

Luke 6:36-38
But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
On Tuesday, Courtney wrote a post on Learning to Love Your Haters and I realized how small my situation is by comparison.  

So I'm going to keep on praying, seeking wisdom and letting the Word of God speak the truth to me.  I'm going to keep on listening to my husbands encouragement and following the advice of our Pastor. I'm going to carry on.

  I'm going to blog when I feel lead to blog without second guessing every word I write and deleting every post that might open me up to more hurtful words. 
 Maybe I'll need to develop some thicker skin.

I certainly need to slow down my chocolate consumption every time 
another barb is shot my way!

 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.
~Psalm 73:26

See you all again soon my friends! 
Thank you all for hanging in with me and encouraging my heart with your thoughtful words!
May the Lord help you today deal with whatever the hurdle of your heart may be. 

with love,