Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

Remember, true happiness does not come from how much we have, how we look, or by how many friends we have. It comes from God. "Happy is that people, whose God is the LORD."  Psalms 144:15 

May you all have a  Happy New Year!!

Praying in the New Year

No matter where I spend New Year's Eve, there is one thing, a tradition, that we always try to do.  Pray out the old year and pray the new year in.  My mom and dad are the two that started the tradition when I was just a young girl.  Now I do it with my kids and hopefully one day they will do it with their children. 

We still hoop and holler and make a lot of noise, but first we pray.  Why?  Because He is the God of my yesterdays, He is the God of my today, and He is the God of my tomorrows. What better way to start the New Year than with the One I love most.  It is because of Him that I am blessed to have another year.  It is because of my faith in Him that I know that whatever the new year brings He will see me through.  In the good times and in the bad times, at the end of the year and at the beginning of the year, I will say blessed be the name of the Lord and thank Him for His goodness to me, his unworthy servant.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Mamma's Cocoa Gravy

There's nothing better on a cold winter's night than a bowl of chocolate gravy for dinner.  My mom fixed it when I was a child, a recipe, or should I say a skill that was passed down by her mother.   As an adult I asked my mom for the recipe.  Her response... "I don't have a recipe, I just make it."  So I did what any desperate cocoa gravy lover would do, I asked her to make it while I watched so I could write it down.  After all this was too great of a thing to be lost in time only to be recalled as a favorite childhood memory. 

Trust me when I say this recipe is going to put a smile on your face.  If you are someone who has been denied the joy of chocolate gravy, try to resist the temptation of grabbing the phone and calling your mom or maybe even your grandma to ask her why she never fixed it for you.   Let's give them the benefit of the doubt, maybe they've never heard of it.   Fortunately for you it's never too late to make up for lost time.  Make yourself up some homemade biscuits and a batch of this yummy treat and sit down to pure delight!

Mamma's Cocoa Gravy

In a saucepan put 3 heaping Tablespoons (mamma uses a big cooking spoon) of Hershey's cocoa, 6 heaping spoonfuls of sugar and 3 heaping spoonfuls of flour.  Stir together, add and stir in a pinch of salt.  Slowly stir in a can of evaporated milk, mixing well.  Next add water.  Mamma takes her saucepan over to the sink and adds a little less than half of what is in the saucepan.  Stir constantly over medium high heat till it gets thick.  Careful not to let it stick.  Then add one teaspoon of vanilla.  Stir that in and you are done.

Now for the best part.  Fill your bowl, add a dab of butter and eat with your favorite homemade biscuits.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sugar Scrub for Dry Skin

When you find a good thing you just have to share it!  I absolutely love the way this sugar scrub makes my skin so soft and smooth instead of dry and itchy like the winter months tend to leave it.

1 cup brown sugar (you could also use white sugar or a mixture of both)
1/2 cup canola oil or olive oil
2 drops vanilla or almond extract (optional)

In medium bowl combine sugar and oil.  Mix with a wooden spoon until you achieve a paste-like blend.  Add extract if desired and stir until well mixed.  Transfer to a clean airtight container to slow breakdown of the oil.  Store mixture that you are not using in the refrigerator for 6-12 months.

In shower, massage mixture gently over damp skin.  It will exfoliate and moisturize at the same time.  Do not use on broken, irritated or scarred skin.  Avoid Eyes.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Waxed Dipped Pine Cone Fire Starters

Pine cones make great fire starters and I just learned a super easy and fun way to decorate them up a bit.  If you have a fireplace or wood stove, you are going to love this idea!    They would also be great to bring on the next camping trip or to give as a gift.

First thing you need to do is go gather up some  pine cones.  Fortunately we have a couple pine trees on our property so that won't be a problem for me.  If you don't have any you could go to a park or hit your local craft store where you could buy a bundle of them at a fairly reasonable price.

If you have gathered your pine cones outside be sure they are nice and dry.   If they are wet from a recent snow or rain you could put them on a cookie sheet and pop them in the oven on a low setting for a couple hours to dry them out.

You need a double boiler to melt your wax in.   I use an old metal coffee can inside of a metal pan.  Fill your pan about half way full of water and put your wax in the coffee can.  You could use old candles for this, just be sure to cut them up a bit so they will melt faster.

Using tongs (or wire from an old hanger) dip each pine cone into the wax.  Be sure to have newspapers spread about and a sheet of wax paper to set the pine cones on as they dry.  The wax will drip and you don't want a mess.  The newspapers will make it much easier to clean up.   If your wax is not too hot it will be a little thicker and you will only need to dip your pine cone  about 4 times.  After the last dip let them dry real good.  I'd say for at least an hour.   Now put your dipped pine cones in a basket and sit it by the fireplace!  That's all there is to it!  I told ya it was easy!


Monday, December 27, 2010

Homestead Blessings

I now have all the Homestead Blessing dvd's and I'm so excited! This Christmas, thanks to my mom and sister, my collection was completed.  If you have never met the West Ladies thru their dvd's I urge you to do so.  They are such a blessing!   If you love country living, homesteading, gardening and old fashioned living like I do, then these are the dvd's for you.   I can't say enough good things about the West ladies!  They are a homesteading, homeschooling, home making family that love the Lord.  Sounds great don't it!  As a homeschooling mom I have to mention that these are great for teaching your daughters homemaking skills!

The West Ladies offer 11 dvd's in all.  The Art of Crafting, Quilting, Sewing, Canning, Gardening, Herbs, Dairy Delights, Cooking, Soap Making, Candle Making, and Bread Making!  You'll want them all!

But don't take my word for it.  Check them out for yourself.  Here's a link to their website.  They also have a blog that you can check out here.  You can also buy their dvd's at Franklin Springs Family Media.

Here's a short trailer featuring 10 of their 11 dvd's. 

The West Ladies also have a cd out.  Most of the songs on it are songs they wrote themselves.  Here's a video of one of their songs!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Day After

The tree is down, the decorations are put away, everything is back in its place...well, almost.   I know most people keep up their tree till the New Year.  Not me.  I've always taken it down the day after Christmas.  So has my mom, so maybe it's a family thing.  I love having everything put away and in it's proper place so I can enjoy some time with my kids.  Remember I'm a homeschool mom so it's my Christmas break too.  For me, the sooner I get the tree down and everything put away, the sooner I can sit back, relax and enjoy some family time.

After Christmas is over I get some boxes and make two stacks of new gifts.  Bethany's stack and Dakota's stack.  Then throughout the next week I take time to look at their new things individually with each of them.  After each item is looked at/played with by mom and kid it then gets put in it's place.  This is something I've always done.  We do it on Birthday's too.  The kids look forward to it and so do I.  It used to consist of playing hotwheels and remote control cars with Dakota and playing barbies and baby dolls with Bethany.  Now that they are getting older it consists of looking at books, watching movies, and playing video games. 

So this year for Dakota we will be watching his new Crabb Family dvd together, looking and discussing several books including a book on humility and George Bush's Decision Points.  He got a really neat sportsman camouflage Bible that I am thoroughly convinced that every sportsman should have.  It's even waterproof, supposedly even floats!  He also got several things for hunting so we will look at those together and hopefully he'll get to use some of it next deer season.  But mostly we will be looking at pictures.  He takes really good pictures of nature and he has photography blog that you can check out here.  His grandmother got him a new tripod, he got some camera cleaning supplies and his most favorite thing...Photoshop!  Here's an  example of some of the fun stuff he can now do.

With Bethany we will be looking at some books.  She loves the Life of Faith books and this Christmas she completed her collection. She was very excited about that!  She also got several Focus on the Family Radio Theatre productions.  We are almost finished listening to Anne of Green Gables then we'll start on Little Women or perhaps The Secret Garden which she received from her great grandma.  She also got the Anne of Green Gables dvd set and some paper dolls.  She loves paper dolls and has quite a collection.  One thing she'll have to wait to try out is her new sweep net.   This year in Science she has been studying insects and the one and only thing she really asked for this year was a sweep net so she could catch all kinds of bugs and butterflies.   We'll have to wait for spring on that.  Here's a picture of her opening up her Anne of Green Gables Focus on the Family from her Aunt Shelley.

As a family we'll be watching I Love Lucy!  We now have seasons 1 & 2 and have already shared several laughs while piled in bed together.  Also we'll try to solve some Brain Teasers together while playing Professor Layton and the Curious Village on the Nintendo ds.

Then when I am all done with that, I hope to have some time to myself so I can read.  I got several new books for Christmas.  My mom got me Serendipity by Cathy Marie Hake and my sweet Bethany got me A Guide to Deaf Ministry and Celebrating the Christian Year, both books that I really wanted.  

I can't end without mentioning the sweet gift that Dakota got for me.  He took a beautiful picture of a pink rose with water droplets on it and then he wrote a poem for me and printed it on the picture and gave me the framed work of art.  Needless to say I teared up when I read the poem.  It is a gift I will treasure forever.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!!!

For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perrish but have everlasting life. John 3:16


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Am I Sheltering my Child too Much??

I just received an email from The Old Schoolhouse entitled Am I Sheltering my Child too Much? You can read it for yourself here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Christmas to Remember

I love to reflect. To think about days gone by. I hope one day when I am old and gray (or should I say older and grayer) that my children will look back on their childhood and a smile will come to their faces.

Out of all the Christmases of my childhood there is one year that sticks out in my mind above all the others. It's not because I got the biggest or the best gifts that year. Quite the contrary. Looking back I can see now that it was a very meager Christmas. But none the less it was my favorite.

I was nine years old that year. We were building a new house. The house we had lived in had been bought out by the government due to the ground being contaminated with dioxin. We lived with my grandparents for quite sometime while the new house was being built. The location of the new house was across the field, then filled with apple trees, from grandma's and grandpa's. The house was not finished, but with Christmas near it was important to my parents to be in our own house for the holidays. We had no electric except for an extension cord ran down thru the field from grandma's house and no water (yes, that means no plumbing). But we did have a wood stove for warmth, we had each other, and we had our own home. We lived in one room. A quilt was hung to keep the warmth of the fire in, me and my sister slept on cots and mom and dad had a pallet made in the floor. I still remember decorating our little tree that year. With the tree being so small it made it seem like we had so many presents!

Me and my sister decorating the little tree!

Me and Shelley in our cots

Here's a picture of my mom that year. She has always made Christmas special for us.

Opening presents Christmas morning!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Gingerbread Day

My sister invited us over to decorate Gingerbread houses today. She already had everything made and ready. All we had to do was get creative!

We each got to make our own house. That was six houses in all! We had a Gingerbread Village!

Thanks Shelley for such a fun day! Bethany has looked at hers long enough, she has already started eating it!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas is....

I am not one that gets real personal on my blog. I try to keep it light, posting about country living, recipes, etc. But for tonight, I'm going to get personal. I feel the need to share my feelings, my thoughts, and how God has been speaking to my heart.

There is only a week left till Christmas, and to be perfectly honest, last week was a very trying week for me. There have been some things that have left me hurt, stressed and at times angry. I've learned through all the seasons of my life that the times that you feel the most hurt, the most broken, in those times, if you listen close, God is there comforting you and ready to minister to you.

I have said before, that Christmas is giving gifts to each other to represent the gift that God gave us. I have said that Christmas is the time of year that families show each other how much they love you. I have said that Christmas is being with those you love. All those things about Christmas are partly true, but what about the true meaning of Christmas. I have been raised in church, I've been a christian for a long time, I know what Christmas is all about, I know the meaning, but until this year I have never thought about it so hard, meditated on it, or let God really speak to my heart.

Christmas is....a Father.

A Father that was so merciful that He gave a gift. The gift of His son. His only son. To a world that was lost and dying, to all people. He gave this gift to me. He gave this gift to you. I have never had anyone else love me so much, that they were willing to give their son's life for mine.

Christmas is....a Son

A son who willingly came to this earth as a baby. He knew His destiny. He knew the plan. He knew the outcome. He knew that the very people He came for would turn their backs on Him. He came anyway. I have never had anyone else love me so much, that they would lay down their life for mine.

Christmas is....Love.

A love that is stronger than any power on earth. A love that goes deeper than sin. A love that reaches the unreachable. A love that came in the form of a babe. A love that came to die, a love that grew to be a man, that experienced hurts, betrayal, pain. At anytime before he came or while He was here on earth, He could of chose to stop it, but because of love he didn't. I have never had anyone else love me with such a love, that they would look past my sin, my mistakes, my unworthy heart and love me anyway.

My prayer this season is that God would prepare my heart. Not to be a Bethlehem like we so often hear. Bethlehem had no room for it's King. But instead to be a humble stable, a manger, a home.

If you are feeling stressed, hurt or even angry this Christmas, remember that Christmas cannot be bought, created or made. Christmas can only be found. You can take away the tree, the family, the food, the presents, but if you have Jesus, you still have Christmas.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Creamy Hot Chocolate Mix

On a cold winter day, who doesn't like a cup of hot chocolate? It's the perfect drink to sip on while snuggled on the couch with a good book or to have ready when the kids come in from playing in the snow. This year I have found a delicious recipe for a homemade hot chocolate mix. It makes quite a bit and would be perfect for Christmas presents. You could do a festive "mix in a jar" or make up your own packets and include a chocolate dipped spoon for stirring.
My Bethany made these. She loves making gifts for Christmas!
Creamy Hot Chocolate Mix
6 1/2 Cups powdered milk
1 Package of chocolate pudding mix (use regular not the instant kind)
2 Cups of Nestle Nesquick instant chocolate drink mix
1/2 Cup french vanilla coffee creamer (mix)
1/2 Cup powdered sugar
1/2 Cup sifted cocoa powder (non-sweetened)
Mix all the ingredients and then put it in your jars, packages or a large container for yourself! The mixture will keep for 3 months if sealed properly.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Handmade Christmas Cards

I love making our Christmas cards. It is so easy and the whole family can join in the fun! Here is a few that we've made so far this year.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Let Him Come to You...

Have you ever experienced the sweet peace of Jesus? That peace that floods over your soul, when everything in your life is anything but peaceful....and then Jesus comes in, soft and sweet, and you experience a calm, a love, a peace like never before? Sometimes we just need to be still, to know, to feel, to experience....

Psalms 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God"

If this Christmas season is finding you anything but peaceful, close your eyes, listen to this song, and let Him come to you...soft and slow.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It is Finished.

My Christmas shopping that is. I really do not like to shop. I am NOT one of those gals that can spend a whole day at it. When I go, I am on a mission. I have a list, I have a goal, I have a plan. I know which stores I am going to and the order in which I will go to them. If things don't go as I planned I tend to get grouchy. My kids will vouch for that. So today when I headed out to finish my Christmas shopping and to get the kids their Christmas outfits, I had a goal, a list, a plan, I had my stores mapped out.... I was a mother on a mission. Mission failed. Out of all the stores we went to Bethany could not find one outfit she liked....with the exception of one purple skirt that we could not find a single top to match and personally I did not think it looked very Christmasy anyway. I would hold up an outfit and ask her if she liked it and her response most of the time was "a little less than a maybe". So we finally settled with a red sweater to go with a black skirt she already has. I know that when she wears it she will be complaining that it itches and that it makes her hair have static, but I will not think about that today. Dakota on the other hand was easy. His only complaint was..."why couldn't I stay home and you just pick it out?" I'll take note and remember that next time.

The last few gifts I needed to get I could not find. The stores were crowded and everything was picked over. The things that were on sale, which by the way was the whole reason I went shopping, were already sold out. So I came home. Tired, disappointed, and with a monstrous headache, got on-line and finished my shopping.

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

On Christmas day, 1864, the beloved poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow received word that his son, a soldier in the Civil War, had been wounded. Just two years before, Henry had lost his wife in a fire. As this devout Christian man sat alone with his grief, on the most joyful of Holy Days, he penned words of hope to challenge his own despair. He called his composition Christmas Bells. Little did he know that those words would someday be set to music and become a blessing to millions of people around the world.

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day was set to music by composer John Baptiste Calkin in 1872.

In 2008 Casting Crowns came out with this version and ever since it has been my favorite Christmas song.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Candy Cane Christmas

One of the most familiar symbols of Christmas is the Candy Cane. The candy cane however, was not always the familiar red and white striped cane that we hang on our trees today. Around the 17'th century the candy cane was an all white sugar stick. Around this time period was also when the tradition of hanging them on Christmas trees began. People in Europe made decorations for their trees and many of the decorations included food and candy. The use of candy canes to decorate Christmas trees made its way to American by the 1800's. At this time they were still all white. It was not until the early 1900's that the red stripes were added. Today the candy cane symbolizes Christ's love and is a sweet reminder of the true meaning of Christmas.

~The white part of the candy represents the purity of Jesus.
~The red stripes remind us of Christ's death on the cross.
~The bold red stripe represents God's love.
~The three fine stripes represent the trinity-the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
~The crook at the top looks like a shepherd's staff and helps us remember that shepherds were the first to hear about the Savior's birth. It also serves as a reminder that Jesus is the Good Shepherd and He watches over His children like little lambs.
~It is a hard candy, solid like a rock, the foundation of the church.
~The flavor of peppermint is similar to another member of the mint family, hyssop. In the Old Testament hyssop was used for purification and sacrifice. This is said to symbolize the purity of Jesus and the sacrifice He made.
~Turned upside down, the candy cane looks like the letter J, symbolizing the first letter in Jesus' name.

If you are a homeschooler and would like to do a unit study or a lapbook on the Candy Cane here is a great link.
There are so many Candy Cane crafts. All you need is some candy canes and a little creativity. Here are a few simple ideas.
These reindeer candy canes are sure to bring a smile to you face! They would be great on top of gifts instead of a bow!

A little felt, thread, ribbon and glue are all the things you need for this cute mouse with a candy cane tail!

Your friends and family will love this sweet card that was made just for them!

This candy cane vase is the perfect center piece for you Christmas table. All you need is an empty coffee can and you are set!

This idea is the perfect Christmas gift for the "hard to buy for" person!

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Jesse Tree

This year I have decided to do a Jesse Tree as part of our Advent. The Jesse tree represents the family tree, or genealogy of Jesus Christ. It tells the story of God's salvation plan starting with the creation and continuing through the Old Testament to the coming of the Messiah. The name comes from Isaiah 11:1 "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots".

Click Here for a link to a free Jesse Tree Advent book. It is in pdf form and includes printable ornaments for each day along with daily devotions.

A Christmas Prayer Chain

Tonight as we sit down as a family for Advent we are going to make a red and green paper chain. On each loop we will write down the names of family and friends. From now till Christmas we will cut off one loop each morning and spend the day praying for the person whose name is on the loop.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Prepare Him Room

December is just a few days away and as the Christmas countdown continues most people discover that their time is consumed with countless holiday chores such as shopping, cooking, cleaning, Christmas programs and much more. If you have ever thought or even dared to say aloud "I can't wait till Christmas is over" I have the thing for you. In hopes that it will bring you tidings of great joy, I urge you to slow the pace down a bit this year and enjoy a time of spiritual renewal and reflect what the Christmas season truly is about.

A few years ago my family did just that. We began celebrating Advent. It has hence become a family tradition. The word Advent literally means "arrival". It is a time for preparation for the coming of something....or Someone. It is a time set aside to prepare our hearts to receive Christ the coming King. It is a reminder of the waiting that was done by the Hebrews for the birth of the Messiah and also a reminder that we, as Christians are waiting for His second coming, when those who have "prepared Him room" will forever be with the Lord. Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. Some families gather for activities only on Sundays, we have chosen to have nightly devotions and activities. I purchased an advent wreath. This is not really necessary but I like the symbolic meaning and thought it would add a special touch to our nightly Advent devotions. The circle of the wreath reminds us of God Himself, His eternity and endless mercy, which has no beginning or end. The green of the wreath speaks of the hope that we have in God, the hope of newness, of renewal, of eternal life. The candles symbolize the light of God coming into the world through the birth of His son. The 4 outer candles represent the period of waiting during the 4 Sundays of Advent, which themselves symbolize the four centuries of waiting between the prophet Malachi and the birth of Christ. The light of the candles remind us that Jesus is the light of the world and to remind us that we are called to be a light to the world as we reflect the light of God's grace to others. (Isaiah 42:6)

There are 4 candles circling the wreath. Traditionally there are 3 purple and 1 pink. In the center is a white candle representing Christ. Instead of purple and pink candles we use 4 red candles. It's just a personal preference. The first Sunday, which is tonight, we will light the first candle. It is the candle of Hope. It represents the promise of a Savior. We will read Isaiah 9:6-7 and then light the candle. Every night this week when we gather for our Advent devotion and activities we will light the same candle again. The second week of Advent we will light the candle of Peace, the third week is the Candle of Joy, the fourth week is the Candle of Love. Then Christmas Eve we will light all the candles along with the white Christmas candle that celebrates Jesus Christ the Light of the World. On this night I prepare ahead candles for each family member and with the lights off we light our individual candles from the Christ candle to represent how Christ shines thru us and how we are to be a light in this dark world.

My goal is to share with you our Advent journey. Some nights we will have serious devotions and talks, others we may gather and sing Christmas carols, or play games, maybe even make Christmas cookies, but whatever we do, the purpose will be to slow down, reflect and grow.

My hope is that you will join me in this journey and truly experience the fullness of this most wonderful time of the year.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Who am I??

I'm part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have the Holy Spirit power. I've stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I am a disciple of His. I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away or be still. My past is redeemed, my present make sense and my future is secure. I'm finished and done with low-living, side walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tame vision, world talking, cheap giving and dwarfed goals. I no longer need pre-eminence, position, promotion, applause or popularity. I don't have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience. I'm uplifted by prayer and labor in power. My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven. My road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my God reliable, my mission clear. I cannot be bumped, compromised, detoured, loured away, turned back, deluded or delayed. I will NOT flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of my adversaries, negotiate at the table of my enemies or ponder at the pool of popularity. I won't give up, shut up, let up until I've stayed up, stored up, prayed up, preached up for the cause of Christ. I AM A DISCIPLE OF JESUS.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Homestead Blessings Giveaway!!

The West Ladies are giving away their newest dvd!
If you have never had the pleasure of watching any of the Homestead Blessing dvd's I urge you to do so!!! They are awesome. They are a homesteading, homeschooling, home keeping family that delight in living off the land. They offer a variety of dvd's from breadmaking, sewing, canning, and much more! Click here to enter! If you want to check out their website and view all their products click here.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Recipes for Beauty

Today as I was reading in my favorite magazine The Girlhood Home Companion I came across this writing by Carla Lynn Klimuk:
Recipes for Beauty
~For attractive, fuller lips: speak more words in kindness; keep sweetness flowing from my tongue in praise and worship for the Father, and part my lips often in prayer.
~For beautiful eyes: keep my eyes to the heavens, my focus on God's will for my life and the blessings He has given to me; stay away from gazing over my neighbor's fence and always look for the goodness in other people.
~For stronger ears: listen for the still, small voice of the Lord each day, listen to my family's hearts; and listen to the Word of God.
~For better posture: walk with the knowledge and confidence that my steps are ordered by the Lord; He who has started a good work in me will finish it, and trust that He will catch me if I fall.
~For weight loss: unburden myself from the heaviness of stress, anger, hatred, bitterness, discontentment, strife, and the weight of thinking that I control my future.
~For stronger arms: wrap them daily around my loved ones; and lift them often in worship and adoration towards my Creator.
~For stronger legs: I think constant knee bending in prayer will achieve maximum results.
~For stronger hands: keep steady at the tasks laid before me; and keep them folded in constant prayer.
~For stronger feet: walk this earth lightly; walk God's will for my life firmly, and wherever I go leave a mark worthy of God.
~For a stronger heart: forgive others, forgive myself; anger less; be a river not a reservoir; focus on my blessings; flow instead of fight; give without thought to reward, and love without bounds.
~For dressing and adornment: put on the robe of Christ; fashioned and tailored in the perfect fit for me, allowing room for growth and maturity. I like how it never grows old, never goes out of style, is appropriate for business, casual, church, evening, grocery store and gardening attire. And the color suits me perfectly.

But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit which is in the sight of God of great price. I Peter 3:4

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Chicken Bacon Ranch Ring

I love quick and easy suppers. Especially in the spring and summer. A while back I visited with some old friends that I hadn't seen in a while. We met for brunch and one of the girls made us a Chicken Bacon Ranch Ring. It was so delicious and I knew that my kids would love it. It is very similar to the Taco Ring from Pampered Chef. All you need is:

2 packages of crescent rolls

Chicken - you can cook your own or use canned. I personally like canned better because it's easier. I use 2 large cans

Bacon (have this cooked ahead of time)

Ranch dressing

Cheddar cheese

Unroll crescent rolls and separate. Arrange triangles in a circle on a baking stone with wide ends overlapping in center and points toward the outside. I use a glass and roll out the wide ends just a little bit.

Next add your chicken!

Now top that with crumbled bacon.

Pour on your ranch dressing, use as much or as little as you like.

Top that with cheddar cheese. Bring your corners in and secure. If there are spaces in between the crescent rolls it's okay.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Slice with a pizza cutter!

Serve to your family, they are going to love it!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wild Grape Juice

Yesterday as I was going for a little walk along the edge of the woods I spotted some wild grapes. I went back inside to get the kids and show them. We grabbed a bowl and began picking. Some of them were very high up. The vines had climbed the trees and were well out of our reach, but we did manage to get a decent amount off the lower vines. They were pretty small, about the size of blueberries. My guess is that it is because they are growing in the shade and I would suppose that wild grapes are smaller anyway. My mother had shared with me that years ago my great grandma would make wild grape jelly. If you have ever had a wild grape you know that they are pretty sour. She said the jelly had a tang to it, but that it was delicious. As I shared this with my daughter she instantly wanted to make jelly. It was a great idea, but since we did not have any fruit pectin on hand we decided that wild grape juice would be even tastier! We were right! It was so good, Bethany even declared that it was "the best thing she ever tasted".

Nature Photo Give Away

Who doesn't like free things??? Seriously??? Dakota (that's my boy) has started an awesome blog displaying his nature photographs. This week he is having a contest to give away one of his photo's. Winner gets to pick the photo they want and it's all free! He has some great photo's with an inspirational theme. It's called Dakota's Nature Photo's Go check it out! You know you want to! When you are done there be sure to check out his other blog called A look at life from a Deerstand where he shares some amazing devotionals and personal insight on the Word of God.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Gardening: A Family Affair

I am so thankful that my children love to help with the vegetable garden. This year we have had a bumper crop of green beans. To date we have harvested 46 quarts. Most of these we have canned. One of the joys of having a garden is eating the produce fresh, so we have enjoyed a few meals with fresh green beans. I am running out of space on my canning shelves so I believe it is time to start sharing our bounty with family.

Here is my beautiful daughter Bethany helping pick. Her favorite part is breaking the beans.

Nothing says Summer like S'mores

One of our families favorite things to do is sit around the firepit. We talk, sing, laugh and you guessed s'mores. Once cooked to the desired doneness–black and crispy, barely warmed or somewhere in between–they are quickly smooshed between two graham crackers with a piece of chocolate.

So how do you like to roast your marshmallows?? Over an open fire, the flame from a gas stove, over a barbeque grill, or maybe a chafing dish? Whatever your method is, nothing says summer like s'mores!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Blue Jean Quilt

We all have old worn out blue jeans and if you love frugal living you will love this idea! Why throw them out when you can recycle them into a denim quilt! Even the novice sewer can make this. It can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. They are warm and durable. They are great for picnics and camping. Teenagers love it and if your child is wanting to learn to sew this is a great project for him or her.

All you need is alot of old denim jeans, shirts, skirts etc. Decide on the size of square you want and start cutting. It is easiest if you have a rotary cutter and mat. After cutting you are ready to start sewing them together.

I chose to sew the wrong sides together with about an half inch seam allowance. Then I clipped the raw edge seams about every 1/2 inch.
Here is my finished quilt. Be sure to use the back pockets off of your jeans too! It really gives it a neat look and the kids love the idea of putting things in the pockets!
I made a few pillow shams since I decided to use it as a bedspread.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Joy of Canning

I grew up around canning, but it was not until I was an adult that I came to know the true joys of canning. There is something about planting, growing, harvesting and preserving that gives me an inner feeling of satisfaction. In my early adult life I canned tomatoes, salsa, pickles and jelly using the hot water bath method. I stayed away from pressure cookers. When I was a child I thought a pressure cooker was a time bomb getting ready to explode and I carried that fear into my adulthood. But as the old saying goes wisdom comes with age. My journey into pressure cooker canning began by asking family members about it, then one summer I helped my 80 year old adopted grandmother can green beans. I still had no desire to own a pressure cooker or attempt it by myself but I was warming up to the idea. I had someone offer me a pressure cooker and I turned it down. Oh, to go back in time. I now live in a place where I can have a larger garden, so last year I asked my mom to teach me how to use the pressure cooker. I found it such a joy to learn from my mother. As she was teaching me, there was a time that I asked her "Why do you do it like that?" Her answer was simple "Because that's the way my mother did it." It was in that moment that I realized a legacy was being passed down. I look forward to the day when I can teach my children to use a pressure cooker. When they ask me "why" I know just what I will say. But for now, they volunteer to help and when the jars are taken out they try to guess which one will seal first. I can't help but join in the game.
Now don't you want that same incredible sense of accomplishment, satisfaction, and creative fulfillment from putting up your own food as I get. Go ahead try it! There's nothing to be afraid of!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Sunflower Day

Planting Sunflowers in my garden is a must. Each year when I pick out my precious vegetable plants and am trying to choose the right seeds I can't seem to pass up sunflowers. I usually grab at least 2 packages and on the outer edge of my garden I plant a row of sunflowers. They are so easy to grow. Just put them in the dirt, cover them up and forget about them. But you won't forget about them for long. Their beauty will catch your attention on those hot days of summer. It seems like when everything else is wilting and drooping from the hot summer sun the sunflower stands tall and vibrant. Every time I look at my sunflowers a smile tugs at the corners of my mouth. I think about how the Sunflower turns her head towards the sun every sunrise and follows the light till each sunset, then it does it all again the next day. Oh how I want to be a sunflower. Keeping my eyes upon my heavenly Father, following the Light each and every day and for that reason alone being beautiful.

Maybe you have fond memories of tall yellow sunflowers that you planted as a child. Next year grab a packet or two of seeds and rediscover the joy they brought you those many years ago.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Free DVD for Homeschoolers

The History Channel is getting ready to air a series called America The Story of Us. It premieres this Sunday (April 25'th) at 9/8 central. It is a six week event that provides a fascinating look at the stories of the people, events, and innovations that forged our nation.

The History Channel is offering this DVD set FREE to every school in America! And guess what?!? That includes Homeschoolers. To get yours CLICK HERE fill out the simple form before July 1'st and you will recieve your completely free copy (even free shipping) by August. Just in time for the new school year.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Baking Day

Me and my daughter Bethany had a baking day today. I just love spending time in the kitchen with my girl. Not only are we making memories but it is part of training her for her role as wife/mother that if the Lord willing she will one day have.

First we made bread. We used the American Sandwich Bread Recipe again. Dakota is wanting me to try some other bread recipes so I am in the process of searching for the perfect recipe to try next. One thing that I am also wanting to try is homemade cinnamon rolls. Today's bread turned out very good and I think I am starting to get the hang of this. It wasn't even lopsided this time.

While our bread was rising we tried a new cookie recipe.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chippers

1 Cup creamy or chunky peanut butter (we used creamy)
1 Cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
3/4 Cup milk chocolate chips
Granulated sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Combine peanut butter, brown sugar and egg in medium bowl until well blended. Add chocolate chips to the dough; mix well.
3. Roll heaping tablespoons of dough into 1 /12-inch balls. Place dough balls about 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.
4. Dip table fork into granulated sugar. Press sugar-coated tines of fork in crisscross fashion onto each ball, flattening to 1/2 inch thickness. Repeat dipping fork into granulated sugar to prevent it from sticking to dough.
5. Bake cookies in middle of oven until set, about 12 minutes. Led cookies stand on baking sheets for 2 minutes. remove cookies with spatula to wire racks; let cool completely. Store cookies in airtight container for up to one week.

I have tried other peanut butter cookie recipes before but this one took the cake....or would that be cookie.

Knowing my family like I know my family, I knew this would not be enough cookies to last us through the night, so we also made a batch of our favorite - Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Whether you want to say "good job" "congratulations" or just "I love you" cookies say it best. So grab an apron and go make a batch for your family.