Home for the Holidays, by Thomas Kincaid

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sarah's New Outfit

This is Sarah's new outfit from our shopping trip yesterday. Isn't she a cutie?


A Thrift Store Find

Yesterday, Sarah and went to our favorite thrift store. Look what we found - an almost brand new wok! It works really well, too. This was a great deal for $5! Isn't it great?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Girls Together

I haven't written much in the past two days, because an unexpected pleasure happened. My dear husband, Mark, and sweet son, Robert, went on a Fathers & Sons campout with the men of our church and that left my Sarah and I alone together. What a rare treat to just be girlies!

We had so much fun. We brought home take-in and watched a favorite show yesterday. Today, we slept in and then went shopping. We love to window shop, but this time we came away with a few cute things for Sarah's wardrobe (I am sure she will be modeling them for you). We went thrifting and made some wonderful finds. We ate lunch out and went to see a movie. We talked and talked and giggled and talked. What a marvelous opportunity.

We are both tired now and the boys are home (we missed them). But what a lovely time we had, holding hands and going from adventure to adventure.

I am a happy mother!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wonderfully Clean!

(Fixed the picture probem on June 28th)

So, you are wondering, "Why is this woman showing me upside down pictures of the inside of her refridgerator?" The answer is 1) I don't know how to turn these pictures right side up and 2) I spent the better part of the day clearing it out and cleaning it up.

I am getting ready for my grocery shopping trip on Thursday. It feels so good to get this job done! I'm proud of myself. :)
Good night!

Our Baby Dove Update

Here is our little sweetie once again. He can fly some and will follow his mother up into the big pine tree, but he prefers to sit and rest in the safe surroundings of our garden. His mother is still feeding him. She is very vigilant with his care.

Wish we could keep him forever. He is such a cutie!


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Our Baby Dove

Here is a picture of our new little friend. This baby dove fell out of our neighbor's pine tree into our backyard. On Midsummer's Eve, he shielded himself under our sweet apple tree. He was very friendly and let us get quite close to him to take pictures and to coo endearments to him. His mother, ever vigilante, watched him from the roof of our house. Eventually, she was brave enough to hop down into our vegetable garden and to call encouragements to him to join her. We watched her feed him and teach him to fly a little, but he still enjoys sitting under our apple tree.

Isn't he precious?


Monday, June 23, 2008

Delicious Chocolate Cake

Here is a wonderful chocolate cake recipe that is very moist and difficult to mess up. I made it for our Mid-Summer's Eve celebration which we had in our backyard on Saturday. I was very happy with the way it turned out and thought that you might like to try it for yourselves!

1/2 c margarine (we use Smart Balance)
2 c white sugar
1 c water
2 eggs
2(1oz) squares unsweetened chocolate
1/2 t. salt
2 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 c sour milk

Preheat oven 350 degrees. Grease 2 round cake pans. Microwave chocolate, Smart Balance and water until melted. Stir until all is smooth. Cool to room temp.

Mix together flour, sugar, salt and soda. Pour in milk and eggs. Pour in cooled chocolate mixture to batter. Blend until smooth. Pour into pan.

Bake 30-35 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. Frost.

1/4 c margarine
1/3 c milk
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 t. vanilla
3 1/2 c powdered sugar

Beat margarine and cocoa together until smooth. Add milk and vanilla, beat until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar until thick and creamy.
We decorated our cake with fresh flowers. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Life is Like a Game of Golf

This past Father's Day, as usual, I let my husband choose what he'd like to do. I figured that his plans would include a good meal and a long nap, so I was not a little surprised when he wanted to watch the U.S Open Golf Tournament.

We never watch golf. Ever. Plus, we usually keep the TV off on Sundays. Besides, to be perfectly honest, I've always thought that watching competitive golf was a little bit like watching competitive sleeping. For someone like me who prefers football and basketball, golf always seems, well, boring. So, imagine how surprised I was to find that, once I got to know the game a little, it was actually quite engrossing.

For those of you who do not follow professional golf, this competition featured, among many other players, the great Tiger Woods. However, it became quite apparent from the outset that Tiger was not on his game. He was suffering pain from a recent operation to repair a torn ligament in his right knee. Days later, we would find out that he also had two stress fractures in that same leg and had been advised by his doctor not to play. Every time that Tiger Woods swung his club, he had to torque his right knee, re-injuring himself. The pain was so great that he would grimace and, at times, audibly cry out. No wonder Tiger began the game several strokes over par.

My husband wanted to stop watching the tournament right then and there, because he felt that Tiger would never be able to make it through all 18 holes without his game falling apart and Mark can't stand to see that sort of thing happen. But by then, I was hooked and convinced him to wait and see. I'm glad we did.

Watching Tiger Woods slowly gain ground over the course of the game, while enduring both physical pain and the frustration of getting off some uncharacteristically poor shots, was significant. Most people would have become completely demoralized by what he was going through, but he kept plugging along, concentrating on each shot. It wasn't long into this game that I began watching it with two sets of eyes: one towards the game of golf and the other towards the game of life. I couldn't help thinking, as I watched Tiger Woods struggle, how we all have experiences that seem tougher than we are. When people wouldn't blame us for giving up and walking off the course. Sometimes, in look far ahead and taking in all in that is in front of us, we can become so overwhelmed by it that we want to throw in the towel.

"Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof," Christ said. It is enough to focus on the problems of the day, without swallowing whole everything that lies ahead. In effect, we should take life one "hole" at a time.

Tiger Woods ended up tying for First Place with Rocco Mediate. He won the next day's playoff during a dead heat. He played, in total, 91 holes of golf over the four day tournament, meaning that he torqued his painful right knee at least 300 times in order to win. Due to his injuries, the U.S. Open was not the best game of golf he ever played, but he is saying now that it was his most important accomplishment. I agree.

I was deeply moved by Tiger Wood's persistence and determination, his belief in himself and his refusal to give up. It has inspired me to take my life one step at a time, to focus on what's right in front of me, to always try to do my best, and to never, ever give up!



Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Day of Thanksgiving

Nope, it's not November and Turkey Day! It's Sunday and, for me, that is a day of thanksgiving. This is the day when we slow down, turn off the TV, refrain from boisterous play, re-focus, and concentrate on the most important things: family and God. And, for me, it's a day when I like to count all of my blessings.

While I was sitting in church, I began to think of all the moments of Grace in my life, when the Lord has brought me certain people and/or experiences to bless and teach me. Some people would call these events "coincidences" and there was a time in my life when I would have agreed. But now, I see these moments as manifestations of God's love. Moments of Grace. There have also been times when I felt the Lord using me at just the right time and place for someone else, to help and bless them. This has been very humbling, because each time I realize, despite my many weaknesses, that God is able to use me for His purposes. All of these moments of Grace have taught me that there is an overall Divine Plan, made up of all these small plans for each one of our lives.

I feel deep gratitude for the love of God. I can feel His love for every person that I meet. Each one is a son or daughter of the Lord and I pray that my actions towards everyone may reflect even just small amount of His great love for all of us.

I am deeply grateful because, over my lifetime, moments of His Grace have brought to me all of the wonderful blessings, trials, lessons and bounties that have made up my life's experiences.

What kind of moments of Grace have you experienced? How have they made you feel?

God bless and keep you this week and always!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Hoppin' John!

Okay, today, we are going to make some good, old-fashioned Southern food. Contrary to what some people outside of the South think (which is that we soak everything in pork fat) Southern cooking can be a very healthy way to eat. It's heavy reliance on legumes and vegetables is heart healthy and also a very economical way to feed a family.

Hoppin John was originally a Southern, African-American dish, traditionally eaten at New Years for "good luck". But, it's great any time.

Following is my mama's recipe. There are many different ways of making it, but this is my favorite...

Hoppin' John Recipe

2 cups dried black-eyed peas
4 cups of cold water
1 pound lean slab bacon or 1 pound meaty ham hocks, or 1 Tablespoon Bacon Fat
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 cups water or chicken broth
2 cups uncooked rice
Salt and black pepper to taste

To prepare dried beans, sort through them thoroughly for tiny pebbles, etc. Then, soak in 4 cups of water overnight.

The next day, rinse, and drain. Place soaked black-eyed peas in a large soup pot, over medium-high heat, add bacon, ham hock, or T. bacon grease, onion, and red pepper. Add water or chicken broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the peas are tender (do not boil as the beans will burst!).

If you have used bacon or ham hock, remove it and cut into bite-size pieces. Return meat to pot. Stir in rice, cover, and cook 20 to 25 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Makes 8 servings.

Note: I prefer using long grain brown rice, which I cook according to directions and then add to the beans pot at the very end of cooking. Of course, I use two cups less liquid while cooking.

Yum. yum!

Now, if you want to be a good Southerner, you should serve this with some kind of sauteed greens, such as kale or collards. Cornbread would round this meal off perfectly!


Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Lovely, Peaceful Day

It will be fun to scan some of my own pictures onto this blog. I am busy taking pictures of my veggie/fruit garden, my pussycats, my beautiful children and some other homey things. However, as I am not quite up-to-date with my technical know-how, I have to develop my pictures at a store and then go to a friend's house to scan them. Only, there is one small problem...my car is in the shop and I was too tired to walk to both places today, as they are far apart from one another. So, hopefully, tomorrow will be the day to show you my garden, my pussycats, children, etc.

Today, was very peaceful and beautiful outside. After freakishly cold weather yesterday (it snowed in Park City!), it was warmer and sunny out. Both of my children happily played with friends while I worked at the garden and cooking. Being without a car has slowed life down a bit, which is very nice.

Ooh, how I love this time of year when it is warm, but not hot and the outside world is growing again!

Stop by tomorrow for a recipe and some cooking tips! And, hopefully, some fun pictures.



Tuesday, June 10, 2008

My Very First Post

I designed this blog several weeks ago, but have been a little bit shy and nervous about making my first post. I don't know why. I actually love to write, am always attracted to a blank sheet of paper. This is a bit different, of course. It was my wonderful daughter, Sarah, a recent devotee to blogging, who has inspired me to jump in and begin blogging myself. Reading her wonderful posts have given me courage.

Anyway, to get down to the business of life, right now, the children have been out of school for one week and I am very much enjoying them. 10 year old Robert has busied himself with having as many playmates and sleepovers as possible, which I have allowed after chores are done. Sarah has spent much of her time creating her blog and writing poetry. Normally, I would be concerned about so much time spent in front of a screen (I want the children to be OUTSIDE experiencing life and getting lots of exercise), but I realize that she loves expressing herself with the written word and that is something I would like to foster (while also encouraging her to play outside!). I am spending my days, trying to make our home one that is wonderful for the children to return to after playdates, sleepovers and on breaks from writing. I am doing a lot of baking, organizing and am preparing for a yard sale for this coming Saturday!

I am also spending a fair amount of time everyday in our large vegetable garden. I am growing lots of tomatoes (am looking forward to these now that so many have been pulled from stores with this salmonella scare!), corn, cukes, zukes, yellow squash, pumpkin, several variety of peppers, strawberries and kale. Whew! Lots of back-breaking labor getting everything planted and properly nourished. Lots of prayers that everything will produce!

My main focus this summer, along with nurturing my dear children and husband, is to make this family as self-sufficient as possible by putting up lots of food for the Fall and Winter, and purchasing for our home food storage those bulk items that we cannot produce for ourselves. I feel that there is a portent of stormy weather ahead with fuel prices the way they are and our national economy heading south. I feel the need to be prepared for whatever the future may hold by being very thrifty, frugal and wise.

As for the creative me, I am enjoying home improvement projects which I will share on this blog, as well as trying new recipes and, of course, blogging!

I look forward to sharing my journey with you.

God bless! ~ Elizabeth