Home for the Holidays, by Thomas Kincaid

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Outdoor Wednesday and a Treat!

As some of you may know, my decrepit back has been giving me fits recently which has forced on me much bedrest that I have been too restless to endure. Nevertheless, today, I hobbled outside to show you the bounty that is right in my own backyard and which I didn't expect this year...

Meet our apple tree, the heart of our yard, under whose branches we have lain quilts to cuddle and have read-alouds; which has seen picnics aplenty and whose boughs have lovingly held many a child. Three years ago our landlord, a good man but not a tree lover, chopped away all the branches until the lush tree was nothing more than a stump with three protruding stumps. I cried for an entire afternoon. But nothing could be gone. Our beautiful tree was gone.

And yet, even at that moment, the ability of life to regenerate itself was working deep within what seemed lifeless to us. The following Spring, tiny shoots sprouted forth from the wounds; slender branches reaching outward. The following Spring leaves and shoots sprouted in a green frenzy. This year, the thicker branches sprouted beautiful flowers and we crossed our fingers and waited...In time, our sweet tree gave us ... apples.

You see here her fruit which she bears, upon which our neighborhood birds love to feast...

This all reminds me of the Love of God and how it manifests itself in the hearts of His children to make old things new, and to give life to that which once was dead. It is a miracle that happens everyday somewhere, all of the time.

And now, for your eating enjoyment, a recipe from my neighbor, Amy H., who goes throughout our neighborhood, delivering baskets of freshly baked goods (and love).


4 C. Shredded Apples (4-5)
1/2 C. Oil
2 Eggs
2 t. Soda
2 C. Sugar
1 t. Vanilla
2 C. Flour
2 t. Cinnamon
1 t. Salt
1 C. Chopped Walnuts (optional)

Mix together. Grease and flour 9x13 pan. Cook at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

3/4 C. Brown Sugar
3/4 C. Sugar
3/4 C. Whipping Cream
3/4 C. Butter
1 1/2 t. Vanilla

Warm until dissoved. Serve warm over cool cake.
Top with Cool Whip or ice cream.

Now, pretend that I have delivered you a warm basket of freshly baked Apple Cake (and love).

For more Outdoor Wednesday posts visit A Southern Dreamer.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Simple Woman's Daybook


Outside my window...it is sunny and warm, a positively lovely, early autumn day.

I am thinking of...how much I would like to jump out of this bed (bad back) and accomplish a thousand things

I am thankful for... being able to roll over in bed today and for all the years of good health that I have had.

From the learning rooms... my son is working hard on the paperwork he's missed at school from being ill.

From the kitchen... nothing much is happening today, but I am planning to burn some cherry vanilla incense to make up for it.

I am wearing... my favorite pajamas and not particularly lovely today.

I am creating... dreams, am spinning dreams today.

I am going... to try and stretch some to see if I can gain a little more mobility.

I am reading... all the magazines and catalogues I never have time for as well as catching up on my favorite blogs!

I am hoping... for opportunity and God's blessing.

I am hearing... Eva Cassidy playing as well as some beloved instrumentals. They feed my soul.

Around the house... it is very q.u.i.e.t.

One of my favorite things... burning incense, lighting candles and listening to soft music playing in the background.

A few plans for the rest of the week... to get better, to create more Fall Nesting and to drink deeply of this time of year.

Here is a picture thought I am thinking..

A tree began to grow in our garden from a seed long ago discarded by previous owners. I left it alone for months, always promising myself that I would cut it down, but never having the heart to do it (how I love living things). Yesterday, my daughter came running in the house. "Mama, look what was growing on that tree in the vegetable garden?" In her hands she held one lone peach... A tiny peach tree is growing in our garden.

Thank Heaven for small, but very sweet miracles.
For more Simple Woman's Daybooks, The Simple Woman's Daybook (HERE).


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Show & Tell Friday/Fall Nesting & Beautiful Life Friday

Hello! Welcome to Show & Tell Friday and Beautiful Life Friday with Fall Nesting.
Here is my favorite focal point of the diningroom/family room, my oka hutch, all decked out in Fall finery.
These pitchers are thrift store finds. They cost a couple of dollars all together. Looking at their manufacturing info on the bottoms, three of these actually came together. The fourth one matches, but was made by a different manufacturer. I remember the day I found these grouped together near the chinaware. My eyes couldn't believe it. I love them!

Throughout out most of the year, I look for seasonal items while thrifting. Aren't these pumpkin plates adorable.
How about this pumpkin pitcher? I think it cost me one dollar, way back when.
A close-up of the top shelf of my hutch, including a lovely black & sepia of the children, my mother's English Cottage and a white, wooden carved pumpkin.

A pumpkin close-up with my niece, Emily behind...
Well, while we're at it, here is the Fall floral arrangement on my table..
This is actually a candle holder atop my mother's cake stand, with acorn candles around. The doily was my mother's.

Enjoy other Show & Tell Fridays over at There Is No Place Like Home
Enjoy more Beautiful Life Fridays at The Inspired Room
Have a great day!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Menu Planning Monday & Updates on Prayer Requests

Welcome to Menu Planning Monday! This week, I'd like to share some of the recipes from the menu that I posted on August 30th (HERE) .


12 oz. dry linguine

3 T. soy sauce

1 T. plum sauce (I used strawberry preserves)

1 t. toasted sesame oil

1 medium green pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 cup fresh green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces (I used frozen and broke them into same)

12 oz. frozen, peeled and de-veined large shrimp without tails, thawed*

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 t. grated fresh ginger

1/4 t. ground pepper

2 green onions, bias-sliced into 1" pieces

2 t. toasted sesame seeds


Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain. Keep warm. For sauce, stir together soy sauce, plum sauce, sesame oil, and chilipaste. Set aside.

Pour cooking oil into a wok or large skillet. Cook and stir sweet pepper and beans in hot oil 5 minutes. Push from center of wok. Add shrimp, garlic, ginger, and black pepper to center of wok. Cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes or until shrimp are opaque. Stir in sauce and green beans. Stir in pasta, heat through. To serve, top with onions and sesame seeds.


4 boneless pork chops (5-6 oz each), about 1" thick
1/2 cup balsamic vinaigrette dressing
1 1/4 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 cups red seedless grapes (9oz), halved
1 box (5.6 oz) couscous mix with toasted pine nuts*

* I used whole wheat couscous and added my own toasted pine nuts


Marinate chops in 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette for 30 minutes. Remove and pat dry. Season with 1/4 t. salt and 1/8 t. pepper. Heat 1 T of oil in large skillet. Saute pork chops 2 minutes each side to brown. Set aside.

Add 1/2 cup of chicken broth, grapes and remaining vinaigrette to skillet. Simmer on medium for 5 minutes. Add pork chops back into skillet and cook for an additional 5 minutes until internal temp register 160 degrees.

Prepare couscous according to package directions, substituting 1/1/4 cups chicken broth for water.

To serve spoon chops and grapes mixture on top of couscous.

Serve with steamed asparagus...

In large pot of salted, boiling water, place asparagus spears. Let boil 5 minutes and then remove from pot. Season with salt and melted butter.


I would also like to thank those of you who have kept my friends and family in your prayers. our friend, Jordan, is home and doing better.

My son, Robert, is to see a specialist on Wednesday. Hopefully, they will figure out what his troubles are and can set a course of action which will lead to his recovery.

Have a wonderful Monday!


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Another Prayer Request and Update

Thanks to everyone who lifted up prayers for Jordan last week. He is back home and slowly adding foods to his diet. He won't return to work for awhile, but he is out of the woods.

I am now asking for prayers for my son, Robert. He has been sick for awhile and has missed a lot of school. His symptoms are peristent nausea and severe bowel irregularities. Life has virtually stopped for him. He's been to the doctor 5 times in the last four weeks and undergone many tests. Next week, he is to see a gastroenterologist. I am praying for an accurate diagnosis, so find a treatment that will work. Any prayers you could offer up for Robert would be greatly appreciated.

I'm sorry that I haven't been able to visit many blogs recently. Robert is lying down, playing on the computer a lot, which means that I don't get to get on it very often.

I will be back around to visit blogs again this evening sometime.

Thank you again for your prayers.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Urgent Prayer Request

Friends and Visitors,

The husband of my young friend, Emily, is in the hospital today with a bad case of E-Coli. He is bleeding internally and in terrible pain. The doctors can only treat the symptoms, which are getting worse. Would you please pray for Jordan, as well as Emily and their families (by the way, they are newlyweds)? I don't feel comfortable publishing their last name, but Heavenly Father knows who they are and if you would please offer prayers in their behalf, I know they would all deeply appreciate it. I am asking the Lord to inspire the doctors to know the best course of action in this situation. I am also asking Him to out right heal Jordan. This is a very concerning situation and I will post updates for you.

Please accept my grateful thanks for any and all thoughts lifted Heavenward for their sakes.

God bless,

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Menu Planning Monday

Welcome to Menu Planning Monday at Home Musings. This weeks menu and recipes are as follows:

Monday - Labor Day Celebration...Shrimp Cocktail, Restaurant Style Potato Salad, Ranch Burger, tossed salad and Easy Peach Cobbler
Thursday - Stir-Fried Garlic Spinach, Chicken Fried Rice
Friday - Leftover Buffet
Saturday - Camp David Spaghetti, Tossed Salad, and Garlic Bread
Sunday - Slow Cooker Roast Beef, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Steamed Carrots, Peas and Salad.
For more menus, please check out Laura's blog, Organizing Junkie!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Outdoor Wednesday

Welcome to Outdoor Wednesday @ Home Musings and a look at our recent camping trip to the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho. [Be warned: There is a story before all the pictures!]

The weekend of August 21-23, right before school began, we decided to catch some family time in a scenic place. So, we took some saved up gas money, our groceries, some borrowed camping equipment as well as some of our own, packed up the car, and headed north.

We made it up into Idaho in pretty good time (4-5 hours), by evening. Then, the ordeal part of our trip began. When we stopped for a break in Ketchum, Idaho, only 48 miles from our intended destination, our car completely stopped and would not start. It is an electrical problem that we can usually get around, but this time, the starter was dead as a doornail and wouldn't budge. So, here we were in a small and unfamiliar town, in a dead car, with evening setting in. and no money for repairs. What to do?

We all took a long walk to cool down our tempers and then sat down to discuss together what we would do if the car didn't ever start again. We tried over and over again, for the space of three hours, late into the evening, with no luck. Then, my daughter suggested that we pray, so we bowed our heads and poured out our hearts to the dear Lord who knew our predicament. As soon as our prayer was over, this really wierd idea popped into my mind. "Get out of the car. Lock the doors. Wait a few minutes, then unlock the driver's side. Get in. Belt up. Lock the doors and turn on the ignition."

Okay, so I know this sounds really wierd, but we were desperate, so I did everything in that order and GUESS WHAT?!?!? The car started right up. (Since then, we have had to do this several times and for some odd reason, it works. Hopefully, soon we can repair the electrical system!). We were all ecstatic and praised and thanked the Lord for wierd ideas that work.

At this point, it was very late and we were going to have to find a camping space in the dark. Not a great idea. So, we started driving further into the Sawtooth Mountains. That's when the second leg of our ordeal began...trying to find camping space late on a Saturday night while AVOIDING GAME! That's right! Every campground was full and there was no place to go but forward AND we were driving at night, or feeding time, for many kinds of animals. I cannot tell you how frightening it was driving slow around the curvey, mountain roads, constantly beeping at, swerving from and stopping to avoid all kinds of animals. We kept count and the final total of game we narrowly avoided were 12 deer (including one buck with a 12 point rack on his head!), two moose and three foxes. NO, I am not kidding!

It took us to 3:30 in the morning to get all the way through the mountains. There was nothing left to do but head to Boise and spend some of our food money on a hotel (super discounted, because we checked in at 4 a.m.). By the way, when we mentioned to the near calamities we had with animals en route, the desk clerk said, "yeah, that's why locals don't drive in the mountains at night!"

Ok, so, duh. Now, we know.

After a few hours sleep, we had a decision to make - give up and head home, or try the mountains again, hoping that by Sunday afternoon many campers would have left. We opted for the second and that is why I have the following pictures to show you of the next two heavenly days.
About 40 minutes from Boise, inside the Sawtooths, we found a near empty, stream-bordered campground.

The children were joyous when we decided on this double campsite.

The trees were HUGE and wonderful.

And right next to our campground was a sweet little stream...

...where someone had written a message of love to someone special...

That message was magical to us and we didn't remove it.

Sparkling water over the rocks...

We set up our tents ...

My daughter tried finger painting with mud.

Mark took pictures of the water.

The next day, our brave boys bathed in the frigid water...

The experiece really "woke" them up! :)

My daughter even took a dip.

But the greatest surprise of all we found our last day on a hike...

The mountains hold a secret...

Can you guess what it is?...

Can you?...

Shhh...don't tell a soul...

Fall is ever so subtley starting in the higher elevations! Isn't it wonderful?

I hope you enjoyed our camping trip. For more Outdoor Wednesday posts visit A Southern Dreamer.