Home for the Holidays, by Thomas Kincaid

Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Royal Wedding

Okay, alright...I admit it.  I woke up at 2 a.m. Friday morning to watch the royal wedding.  I was exhausted, but I had to see Kate's (now Catherine) beautiful wedding dress.  So, I got up and nothing was happening.  Guests were just beginning to arrive at Westminster Abbey and, frankly, I wasn't much interested.  So, set the alarm and went back to sleep until 3:30, at which time I was able to see the wedding party begin to arrive.  Then came the marvelous Kate in a dress that reminds me of the one worn by Grace Kelly when she married the Prince of Monaco (was that on purpose, or coincidental?).  I watched until the couple exchanged vows and then sleep overtook me.  Yesterday, I was exhausted and spent much of the day watching replays of the wedding celebrations.  It was such great fun.  I was quite taken by the way Prince William looks at and behaves towards his now wife, so differently from how his father behaved towards Diana, Princess of Wales.  After all the coverage that I have watched both before and after the wedding, I have come to the conclusion that this one is a love match and I sure hope it all stays that way.

Anyone else out there watch the festivities?  How about my friends across the pond?


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sweet Memories of a Time Gone By

All the current news coverage of the upcoming marriage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton this week must bring back to many people who are old enough to remember the incredible fervor surrounding the marriage of The Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer.  I was in college at the time, attending Brigham Young University, and living in the basement apartment in the home of a sweet older couple.  One of my closest friends, Ruth, lived with her family around the corner from my house and we were all huge Anglophiles. The afternoon before the big day, a handwritten invitation appeared at my door, penned by Ruth's mother, inviting me to attend the royal wedding at their home that night.  Such fun!  I remember going to bed extremely early and then awakening around 2 a.m., getting dressed and then running full speed to Ruthie's house, where we lay on the floor in front of the TV for hours, watching the pageantry unfold.   It was such a sweet time, because of course, like most people, we believed this was a love match and I adored Lady Diana and how virtuous she was when she married.  These are lovely memories of so long ago...

Of course, over the ensuing years the whole thing fell apart, but I still loved to peruse pictures of The Princess of Wales, admiring her fashions and the warm way she had with people.

Fast forward to another memory.

It was 12:30 a.m. on August 31st, 1997.  I was lying in bed, timing contractions I had been having for the past hour with my second pregnancy, which were with my son, Robert.  My husband, Mark, was watching TV in the living room.  The contractions had gotten to be close enough apart that I went out to tell Mark that the baby was coming and that he needed to take me to the hospital.  As I came into the room, Mark turned around, having just heard the news report and told me that Diana was dead.  Utter shock and disbelief.  After waking our close friends and neighbors, the Langstaffs, to come over and watch our daughter, Sarah, who was 2 years old at the time, we got in the car and drove to the hospital.  Once in our hospital room, we turned on the television and watched news coverage until my labor became so acute that it was time to turn it off.  To this day, I remember so well the incredible jumble of emotions I was feeling at the time and whenever I see pictures of the crashed car in the Paris tunnel, it brings it all back - horror, disbelief and also the incredible awe and joy of having a child, all of that all at once.

One week later, I watched the funeral with my newborn baby in my arms.

Now, this week, the nuptials of Diana's son, William, and Kate Middleton.  It is great fun for many, I am sure, but I do wish the news media would refrain from referring to their relationship as a "fairy tale", which of course it is not.  I hope it all goes off without a hitch and that the son will be luckier in love than his mother.

But I cannot help remembering an earlier time, when my body was full of youthful vigor and my heart and mind were full of romance and I went running to a friend's house in the middle of the night to celebrate what I thought would be the wedding of the Century.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Menu Planning Monday


I haven't posted a menu plan in quite awhile.  I've been flying by the seat of my pants, which is a crazy way to go.  It is always better to plan.  I get more bang for my buck that way and I don't have to flounder one hour before mealtime, wondering what in the heck to have!

Monday -Hawaiian Pizza (with leftover ham), Tossed Salad

Tuesday - Chicken with Olives, Mashed Potato Casserole, Asparagus

Wednesday - Black-Eye Peas and Brown Rice, cooked with leftover ham, Okra and Sweet Potato Fries

Thursday - Chicken with Sesame Noodles, Steamed Broccoli

Friday - Taco Salad

Saturday -Fettuccine with Sausage and Kale

Sunday - Roast, Butternut Squash and Salad

Well, that is it for this week's menus.  I am excited to do more meals that are planned around Springtime veggies.  For more Menu Planning Monday posts, please visit Laura's blog, I'm An Organizing Junkie!

You may be surprised to learn that we have begun having our big meal right after the children return home from school.  They always come home starving and eat so much that it was ruining their supper, so we have started having family time/supper as soon as they get home.  We read scripture and sit around the table talking about the day and filling all the empty tummies.  At night, before bed, we have a snack.  This is working really well for us.  It also is helpful to me because kitchen clean-up happens before I start feeling really tired and am tempted to let it go until morning.

What time is your supper?  Who does the clean up?

have a wonderful day!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

All for the Best

My family was suppose to use this week's vacation from school to go to California for a visit with family and a much needed break.  We had been looking forward to this trip for a long time.  However, over the past few months, my husband's back problems have grown increasingly severe, making it very painful for him to sit or stand for long periods of time.  A couple of week's ago, we realized that my husband would not be able to make the 12 hour car trip to Southern California.  We were all very disappointed, but didn't want him to be miserable or to further debilitate him.  So we called off the trip.

Fast forward to yesterday.  My husband awakened me early in the morning with news that our hot water heater was leaking all over the laundry room floor.  Very shortly, the leak progressed to about one gallon of water a minute.  We called the landlord, who called a plumber.  We bailed water until 1:30 pm., when the plumber finally was able to make it over.  He replaced the water heater and secured the situation. 

Now, here is the miracle that is motivating me to write about this mishap.  The plumber told us that we had narrowly escaped a catastrophe.  If we hadn't been home to catch the leak when we did, we would have come home to a basement that was under water.  There would have been no place for the water to go, but up.  We would have lost a lot of our possessions and our poor landlord would have had an enormous amount of damage to repair.

None of us are mourning our California trip anymore.  Our being forced to stay at home averted a disaster.  I see the hand of the Lord all through this whole situation.  Sometimes when things don't seemingly go our way, we can be very  upset and angry.  However, perhaps we are being protected in ways we cannot see by a kind and loving God who is watching over us.

We can go to California another time.  For now, we are happy and blessed to be at home.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Special Story for Palm Sunday

Dear Friends and Visitors,

The following story was sent to me by my cousin, Val, whose father is a Methodist Minister.  I feel that it perfectly illustrates the sacrifice and atonement of Jesus Christ and that it is a wonderful way to begin Holy Week on my blog.  I hope that you enjoy it.


Don’t Leave It On The Desk –

There was a certain Professor of Religion named Dr. Christianson, a studious man who taught at a small college in the western United States.   Dr. Christianson taught the required survey course in Christianity at this particular institution.   Every student was required to take this course their freshman year, regardless of his or her major.
Although Dr. Christianson tried hard to communicate the essence of the gospel in his class, he found that most of his students looked upon the course as nothing but required drudgery.   Despite his best efforts, most students refused to take Christianity seriously.

This year, Dr. Christianson had a special student named Steve.   Steve was only a freshman, but was studying with the intent of going onto seminary for the  ministry.   Steve was popular, he was well liked, and he was an imposing physical specimen.   He was now the starting center on the school football team and was the best student in the professor's class.

One day, Dr. Christianson asked Steve to stay after class so he could talk with him.   “How many push-ups can you do?”
Steve said, “I do about 200 every night.”

“200?   That's pretty good, Steve,” Dr. Christianson said.   “Do you think you could do 300?”
Steve replied, “I don't know... I've never done 300 at a time.”
“Do you think you could?” again asked Dr. Christianson.
“Well, I can try,” said Steve.

“Can you do 300 in sets of 10?   I have a class project in mind and I need you to do about 300 push-ups in sets of ten for this to work.   Can you do it?   I need you to tell me you can do it,” said the professor.

Steve said, “Well... I think I can... yeah, I can do it.”

Dr. Christianson said, “Good!   I need you to do this on Friday.   Let me explain what I have in mind.”

Friday came and Steve got to class early and sat in the front of the room.   When class started, the professor pulled out a big box of donuts.   These weren't the normal kinds of donuts.   They were the extra fancy BIG kind, with cream centers and frosting swirls.   Everyone was pretty excited it was Friday, the last class of the day and they were going to get an early start on the weekend with a party in Dr. Christianson's class.

Dr. Christianson went to the first girl in the first row and asked, “Cynthia, do you want to have one of these donuts?”
Cynthia said, “Yes.”

Dr. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, “Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Cynthia can have a donut?”

“Sure!”   Steve jumped down from his desk to do a quick ten.   Then Steve again sat in his desk.   Dr. Christianson put a donut on Cynthia's desk.

Dr. Christianson then went to Joe, the next person, and asked, “Joe, do you want a donut?”

Joe said, “Yes.”  
Dr. Christianson asked, “Steve would you do ten push-ups so Joe can have a donut?”

Steve did ten push-ups, Joe got a donut.   And so it went, down the first aisle, Steve did ten push-ups for every person before they got their donut.

Walking down the second aisle, Dr. Christianson came to Scott.   Scott was on the basketball team and in as good condition as Steve.   He was very popular and never lacking for female companionship.   The professor asked, “Scott do you want a donut?”
Scott's reply was, “Well, can I do my own push-ups?”
Dr. Christianson said, “No, Steve has to do them.”
Then Scott said, “Well, I don't want one then.”

Dr. Christianson shrugged and then turned to Steve and asked, “Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Scott can have a donut he doesn't want?”
With perfect obedience Steve started to do ten push-ups.

Scott said, “HEY!  I said I didn't want one!”

Dr. Christianson said, “Look, this is my classroom, my class, my desks and these are my donuts.   Just leave it on the desk if you don't want it.”   And he put a donut on Scott's desk.

By this time, Steve had begun to slow down a little.   He just stayed on the floor between sets because it took too much effort to be getting up and down.   You could start to see a little perspiration coming out around his brow.
Dr. Christianson started down the third row.   Now the students were beginning to get a little angry.   Dr. Christianson asked Jenny, “Jenny, do you want a donut?”
Sternly, Jenny said, “No.”

Then Dr. Christianson asked Steve, “Steve, would you do ten more push-ups so Jenny can have a donut that she doesn't want?”

Steve did ten.   Jenny got a donut.

By now, a growing sense of uneasiness filled the room.   The students were beginning to say, “No!” and there were all these uneaten donuts on the desks.

Steve had to really put forth a lot of extra effort to get these push-ups done for each donut.   There began to be a small pool of sweat on the floor beneath his face, his arms and brow were beginning to get red because of the physical effort involved.

Dr. Christianson asked Robert, who was the most vocal unbeliever in the class, to watch Steve do each push up to make sure he did the full ten push-ups in a set because he couldn't bear to watch all of Steve's work for all of those uneaten donuts.   He sent Robert over to where Steve was so Robert could count the set and watch Steve closely.
Dr. Christianson started down the fourth row.   During his class, however, some students from other classes had wandered in and sat down on the steps along the radiators that ran down the sides of the room.   When the professor realized this, he did a quick count and saw that now there were 34 students in the room.  He started to worry if Steve would be able to make it.

Dr. Christianson went on to the next person and the next and the next.   Near the end of that row, Steve was really having a rough time.   He was taking a lot more time to complete each set.

Steve asked Dr. Christianson, “Do I have to make my nose touch on each one?”

Dr. Christianson thought for a moment, “Well, they're your push-ups.   You can do them any way that you want.”   And Dr. Christianson went on.
A few moments later, Jason, a recent transfer student, came to the room and was about to come in when all the students yelled in one voice, “NO!   Don't come in!   Stay out!”

Jason didn't know what was going on.   Steve picked up his head and said, “No, let him come.”

Dr. Christianson said, “You realize that if Jason comes in you will have to do ten push-ups for him?”

Steve said, “Yes, let him come in.   Give him a donut.”
Dr. Christianson said, “Okay, Steve, I'll let you get Jason's out of the way right now.   Jason, do you want a donut?”

Jason, new to the room, hardly knew what was going on.   “Yes,” he said, “give me a donut.”

“Steve, will you do ten push-ups so that Jason can have a donut?”

Steve did ten push-ups very slowly and with great effort.   Jason, bewildered, was handed a donut and sat down.   Dr Christianson finished the fourth row, and then started on those visitors seated by the heaters.   Steve's arms were now shaking with each push-up in a struggle to lift himself against the force of gravity.   By this time sweat was profusely dropping off of his face, there was no sound except his heavy breathing.   There was not a dry eye in the room.

The very last two students in the room were two young women, both cheerleaders and very popular.   Dr. Christianson went to Linda, the second to last, and asked, “Linda, do you want a doughnut?”

Linda said, very sadly, “No, thank you.”

Professor Christianson quietly asked, “Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Linda can have a donut she doesn't want?”

Grunting from the effort, Steve did ten very slow push-ups for Linda.

Then Dr. Christianson turned to the last girl, Susan and said, “'Susan, do you want a donut?”
Susan, with tears flowing down her face, began to cry.   “Dr. Christianson, can I help him?”

Dr Christianson, with tears of his own, said, “No, Steve has to do it alone.   I have given him this task and he is in charge of seeing that everyone has an opportunity for a donut whether they want it or not.   When I decided to have a party this last day of class, I looked at my grade book.   Steve here is the only student with a perfect grade.   Everyone else has failed a test, skipped class or offered me inferior work.   Steve told me that in football practice, when a player messes up he must do push-ups.   I told Steve that none of you could come to my party unless he paid the price by doing your push-ups.   He and I made a deal for your sakes.”

“Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Susan can have a donut?”

As Steve very slowly finished his last push-up, with the understanding that he had accomplished all that was required of him, having done 350 push-ups, his arms buckled beneath him and he fell to the floor.
Dr. Christianson turned to the room and said, “And so it was, that our Savior, Jesus Christ, on the cross, said to the Father, 'Into thy hands I commend my spirit.’   With the understanding that Jesus had done everything that was required of him, he yielded up his life.   And like some of those in this room, many of us leave the gift on the desk, uneaten.”

Two students helped Steve up off the floor and to a seat, physically exhausted, but wearing a thin smile.   “Well done, good and faithful servant,” said the professor, adding, “Not all sermons are preached in words.”
Turning to his class, the professor said, “My wish is that you might understand and fully comprehend all the riches of grace and mercy that have been given to you through the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.   God spared not his only begotten son, but gave him up for us all, for the whole Church, now and forever.   Whether or not we choose to accept God’s gift to us, the price has been paid.”

Wouldn't you be foolish and ungrateful to leave it lying on the desk?
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only
Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have
eternal life.   For God did not send his Son into the world
to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
John 3:16-17

Friday, April 15, 2011

Bird Bath or Feeder Craft

Hello, Friends and Visitors!

The snow has ((hopefully)) stopped for good and the sun is out!  Birds are singing!!  It feels like Springtime.  And, best of all, the children are home for a week long Spring Break as soon as school is out today.  What more could I want??

I'm so excited about being outside again after a l.o.n.g. Winter.  I have been cleaning out the bird feeder and re-stocking birdseed.  That has inspired me to re-post my how-to on building an easy birdfeeder.  I first posted it last year.  Enjoy!!

                        *                         *                            *                             *                           *
I thought I'd show you a fun craft I've recently had time for in between working in the garden. It's a bird bath or feeder idea that I found in the May 2009 Family Fun Magazine.

All you need to get started is
3/8" manilla rope
15" grapevine wreath (used two old wreaths I found at a yard sale last year)
two 10" terra cotta saucers (again, I used what I had and fortunately it worked!)
Artificial leaves and flowers, if you want to spruce it up (I didn't)

It's easy! Just fit the clay saucers in the center of your wreaths, like this...
Cut your rope into three, 5' long lengths, then knot them together at each end, like this...
Fit the wreath feeder inside the three ropes and hang, like this...

See how simple and pretty it is? I made three - two feeders and one "bath". The birds love them all!

Have a great day!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Easiest Bread Recipe Ever!

I wonderful couple in my neighborhood recently held a class on breadmaking, using the method/recipe they got from Pantry Secrets. That is where I learned about using the ingredient soy lecithin (more about that below). This is the easiest, quickest and so far the yummiest bread recipe I have ever made.

Pantry Secrets Bread Recipe
10 1/2 cups white unbleached bread flour (You can do 1/2 wheat flour if you prefer.)
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon salt
3 rounded Tablespoons instant yeast
3 Tablespoons liquid lecithin* (see note below!!!)
4 cups hot tap water

Mix dry ingredients. Add lecithin and water. Mix for 1 minute and check consistency. If dough is too dry, add more water. If dough is too moist, add more flour. Mix for 5 minutes. (Do not add water or flour to the dough after it has finished mixing.) Spray counter and pans with cooking spray. Shape loaves and cover with a dish towel. Let rise 25 minutes. Bake at 350* for 25 minutes.

Recipe makes 4 loaves.

Unraised loaves can be frozen for later use. My mixer only allows me to mix 2 loaves at a time, so I half the recipe when I make it.

*Squeeze or pour approximately 3 tablespoons (size of quarters to a half dollar) of lecithin directly into the bowl. Do not measure. It won't come off the spoon!

You can buy your lecithin from Pantry Secrets!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Late Spring Snows

First a howling blizzard woke us,
Then the rain came down to soak us,
Now .. Before the eye can focus —
Crocus !
~Lilja Rogers
Yes, it is true.  We have been having snow, snow, snow.  Welcome to Springtime in the Rocky Mountains.  We can have snow up here against the mountains into May and there have been not a few Summers when a freak storm could put so on the mountains in June!  However, the bulbs in our garden plots of irises, crocuses and tulips are sending up green shoots.  So, despite all of this white, Spring is on its way here.

These longish Winters make me antsy and greatly desirous of warm weather.  It inspires me to really get into Spring cleaning and to get my house ready for Easter and a new season.  I know this will sound very late to those of you in warmer climates.

What will you be doing to make your Easter Week, Holy Week special?  Please write me and share your ideas with me.  We love to watch the movie, Jesus of Nazareth over several evenings.  How about you?

Have a wonderful weekend.  I look forward to hearing from you!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Anyone for a Kitty-in-the-Box?

Isn't it funny how children, like pussycats, often thrive best with fun of their own making, instead of the expensive gifts we sometimes want to shower on them?  This kitty has comfier looking places to sleep, so whats does he choose? An empty box by a window.  He lives in this thing.  It reminds me of times when my children were young and I brought home a box of toys for them and they ended up just playing with the box more than the toys -- Important lessons on the blessings of simple things, brought to us by children and pussycats.

For more Cats of Tuesday, please visit Gattina HERE.

Make it a great one - Elizabeth

Monday, April 4, 2011

Unthrilled About Food

Hello, One and All...
Usually this is the day of the week that I print my menu plan.  Trouble is that I am not thrilled about food.  I'm not hungry for it (?!), don't want to see it and have no idea what to cook of it.  I've been perusing other people's menu plans that are posted on I'm An Organizing Junkie!  I've been looking at cooking videos, looking through cookbooks.  There are lots of great recipes out there, but they all have one problem - they are all about food.  Ugh.

I could probably get myself to eat a grapefruit.

If I see another pieced of chicken I am going to scream...

How about you?  Are you ever unmotivated about the whole conversion of food into edible meals thing?  Ever completely unhungry?  Un-everything?   (un-utilizing proper grammar?)  What do you do?

Any ideas?

Friday, April 1, 2011


My friend, Lisa, a fun and wonderful writer in Blogland, published a fun post about herself HERE.  I enjoyed reading it so much that I have decided to write an About Me post, too.

I am:  A great big jumble of contradictions.  I am shy, but I love to do public speaking if I feel that I have something worthwhile to share.  I adore solitude, but in my middle years can often feel lonely.  I love to find different ways to refine myself and my behavior but also love to talk country and be goofy.  Speaking of "country", I go in and out of a strong Southern accent all of the time.  I learned to drop my accent as a child when we moved out West and I didn't like being teased, however my Southern accent makes me feel like I am not so far away from "home" and reminds me of my dear mother, so it comes and goes and I don't care.  I am sensitive to criticism but I also don't give a hoot what people think about my idiosyncrasies.  I dearly love God, but I have a very hard time sitting still in prayer.  I care deeply about others but cannot be surrounded by people for long periods of time.  I am a Nature Girl.  I am a history buff and lover of old things.  I am a Homebody, but I also love to travel.

I like:  Trying new things.  Talking to myself when I am alone (or think that I am alone - ha ha).  I like/need to have light-hearted fun.  I love to cook, especially something new that I haven't tried before.  Love to read, read, read.  I love to write, write, write.  I adore babies and children.  Sushi and avacados (sorry, Lisa, we can still be friends!).  I love church.  I adore attending Christmas and Easter programs anywhere, anytime.  I like to share a love of Christ with anyone who feels likewise.  Riding a bike downhill!  Laughter.  Kindness.  Learning something new.  My CHILDREN!  Beauty (as in Keats" "Beauty is Truth; Truth, beauty.  That is all ye know in Life and all ye need to know").  Peaceful, restful sleep.  Sunshine.  Music. Furry animals.  Birds.  Pretty dresses.  Hugs and kisses..  Pussycats.  So many things.

I am good at:  Waiting for what I truly want.  Saying I'm sorry.  Forgiving.  Loving. Perceiving others.  Making do.  Enjoying food.  Feeling grateful.  Taking the long view on life.  Organizing drawers and cupboards.  Loving people forever.

I am bad at:  Repetition.  Reading boring textbooks.  Higher math!  Impressing people.  Organizing rooms.  Letting go of friendships that have run their course.  Consistency in household chores.  Moving.

I dislike:  Doing things the same way all of the time.  Sitting still.  Joining political parties and thinking people are jerks if they disagree.  Incivility.  Noisy crowds.  Junk food.  Refusal to think outside the box.  Passing judgment (though I have caught myself doing that at times) or judging by appearances.  Close-mindedness.  Dreary weather.  Loud rock music.  People who are unkind to animals.  Plastic.  Individual packaging of everything.  Refusal to forgive or try and understand why.  Arguing.  Wasting time on things that don't matter in the long run.  Canned asparagus.  Vinyl siding and fences.  Pollution and over development. Fixation with  celebrities.  Ridiculing other people's beliefs.  Betrayal of someone's trust.  Being too busy to enjoy life.  Cleaning the kitchen after cooking.  Not feeling rooted somewhere.

If you decide to write an About Me post, please let me know so I can come visit.