"LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance." Psalm 16:5-6


Ours is a story of what God can do with two silly teens, starting off with no clue;

And baby thrown in, just for good measure. We didn’t know that God would increase our treasure

With four added on in rapid succession, filling our lives with joy and hard lessons.


We’ve had our share of valleys and hills, of times of abundance, and unpaid bills.

We once thought success would bring us bliss; we’ve learned that loss does a better job of this,

As we lean on our Savior, Who always delivers, regardless of the size of our quiver.


Although we’re grateful for the times of ease, the hard times are useful for learning to please

Our Heavenly Father, learning to walk in His Truth, of which we often talk.

May the Lord help us humbly and faithfully serve, staying mindful that the next generation observes.


Prop up your feet and grab a cup of coffee or tea while I open up

The book of my life, without further ado, and narrate the musings of my heart to you.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Perfection



In our house, we like to find creative ways to add sweet potatoes, carrots, butternut squash, and pumpkin to recipes.

Caelyn and Morgan have a little competition going to see who can yield the best results with sweet potatoes.
So far, I'd say they're 1-1.
Morgan makes some rockin' sweet potato muffins, and Caelyn has absolutely perfected

Sweet
Potato
Chocolate
Chip
Cookies
.

"Doesn't it just sing?"

We normally use Sally Fallon's recipe, but Caelyn wasn't pleased with the texture.

She found this one recently, and you'll hear no complaint from me.
In fact, they're
Absolutely
Perfect, 
with a cake-like texture.

Of course, as her gene pool would dictate, she somewhat changed the recipe to suit our family's preferences; but I don't know exactly how.
Sorry.

Anyway,
Craig believes that anything other than traditional chocolate chip cookies is a horrible misuse of chocolate chips. 
I benefit from that opinion in that the chocolate chips that were removed from part of the batter to leave plain cookies for him, were then added to the rest of the batter, leaving some of the later cookies
loaded with 
chocolaty 
ooze!
Mmmmmm!!

Go ahead.
Try it.
I dare you to eat just four.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Kitchen Memories



I recently posted photos on Facebook of our Family Movie Night with the cousins, and I included photos of Craig's homemade caramel popcorn.



Naturally, there were a couple of requests for the recipe. As I rummaged through my trusty recipe basket - a vestige of the bygone era of Longaberger in my life - I was warmed by the memories of friends and family represented by some of the cards in the file.

Such as:

Frozen Strawberry Dessert
from Denise
Caelyn, as a toddler, used to terrorize her cat. Denise is also the source of the caramel popcorn recipe.

Cheesy Apples
from Michele
She was my Longaberger consultant in Pennsylvania.
(Confession: I've never actually made this recipe, but the memory of knowing Michele is a pleasant one.)

"Older Than Dirt" Sandwiches
from Gena
These made many a happy tummy as we spent lazy days at her family's lake house.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
from Renate, my spiritual mother
These are no ordinary cookies, & the recipe is huge! I have many fond memories of spending timing "sitting at the feet of" Renate in California, & gleaning her wisdom.

Sweet Potato Casserole Topping
from Cornelia
Affectionately known to us as "Sugar", Cornelia has been one who encourages me to diligently study the Word of God.

Granola Oatmeal Bars
from Jenan
Several of us ladies were privileged to visit Jenan's kitchen in Alabama and learn about Lebanese cuisine.

Pumpkin Cake Roll
Countless memories flood my mind when I think of my wonderful grandmother who passed away in May '10. How thankful I am to have this family favorite in her very own handwriting!

Pap's Chocolate Chip Cookies
from Daddy
I'm pretty sure that this is worth money!

Crab & Cheddar Clam Chowder
from Erica
Erica was our neighbor in California. We only knew each other briefly, but she was very kind to share her family's recipe for clam chowder. It's definitely a favorite.

I've enjoyed reflecting on kitchen memories. It's such a blessing to share food & fellowship with special people.
I'll leave you with a recipe:

Lemon Velvet
from Mom
(This gets annihilated every time!)

Layer 1:

1/2 C chopped walnuts (I use pecans)
1 stick butter (Mom's recipe reads "oleo" - which certainly dates it. I don't touch the stuff.)
1 C flour
Blend & press into a 13x9-inch pan. Bake @ 350˚ for 15 minutes. Cool completely.

Layer 2:

1 C Cool Whip
1 C powdered sugar
16 oz. cream cheese
Blend & spread over 1st (cooled!) layer.

Layer 3:

2 pkgs. instant lemon pudding
3 C milk
Blend & spread over 2nd layer

Layer 4:

Cool Whip
Optional: sprinkle with chopped nuts. I don't.

Enjoy! 
Then run a few miles.

*Many thanks to Cristie, who pointed out that I had originally typed "1/2 stick chopped walnuts"! Duh! It's 1/2 C.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Attention!



A few days ago I learned an important lesson during school.

I was reading part of our grammar lesson from this book, and I realized that rather than paying attention to what I was relaying to them from the book, my children were working on the "homework" portion of their grammar lesson from another book.

In that moment, I saw the fruit of a strength-gone-bad. 
I tend to be task-oriented, and I like to multi-task when circumstances allow. I must confess that there are many times when my children have something to share with me, and I pretend to be listening intently while working one something else.
The truth is that I'm usually missing a large portion of what's being said, and being the smart people they are, they know it!

So, rather than getting upset with them for seeing a greater need to multi-task than to listen intently, I simply had each of them re-read (aloud, standing next to their chairs) a portion of what they had missed.

This was an important reminder for me that it's a good idea to stop what I'm doing and give my full attention to the speaker - even my grand storyteller, and even if my current task is "necessary".

They're watching. They're aaallwaays watching.


Friday, September 2, 2011

Back In The Groove

I promised this clutch to Sheri before our move, and I've finally finished it for her. I love the design, which comes from Anna's very helpful tutorial

Now that we're knee-deep into our new routine, I'm enjoying regularly-scheduled sewing time, with bonus opportunities stolen during moments when there's not much of a need for Mom during school hours.

My list of "owed" projects is slowly dwindling, and the process is as satisfying as the finished products.


This is one of those swallow-my-pride moments. Notice the upside-down house on the flap of this messenger bag. This ended up being a practice run, and I'm keeping it for myself. I just can't give it away with such an obvious flaw. The tutorial was great, but I paid no attention whatsoever to the direction of the fabric when I cut the flap. Duh! What's that... rule #1?


I'll be making another messenger bag soon to give to a friend, but in the meantime, I'm brainstorming some projects for myself.

I've made a few recent fabric purchases that just warm my heart:


This "British Subway" fabric from Sew, Mama, Sew! caught my eye when I saw it on Facebook recently. I knew that it wouldn't last long, so I snatched up just a bit for an unknown use. I figure it'll come to me. It's a bit nostalgic, as it reminds me of a trip that Craig and I took to London right after Christmas '03.
"Mind the gap!"

I. Love. This.
It's not from a fancy quilt shop or popular online resource. I got it at our local Joann Fabrics store, but I just had to have it! I don't usually make clothes, but I'm thinking this should become a skirt. Maybe I can schmooze Caelyn...

I bought these back in July, and I'm thinking "apron". A friend of a friend introduced me to this place downtown, and it certainly has the "Oh-My-Word!" factor.

Lord willing, I'll soon have photos of a duvet cover I'm hoping to make for Gabriela's room. The Potterybarn Kids set that has gone through all three girls has far outlived its usefulness. It's high time I give her something that suits the transition a twelve-year-old girl makes in shedding her little-girl-ness and becoming a young lady. I've found just the right fabric that suits a girl on the threshold between dolls and more mature pursuits.

But more on that later...


Pro-Life? Or Anti-Abortion?



An encounter I had with a family we met in church we visited recently got me thinking about something I've pondered before.

After service we met this couple with six small children. The wife mentioned that, as they'd watched us happily take our seats with our five children, she and her husband were encouraged to see that we "had survived".

I'm sure that by "survived", she was referring to the baby and toddler years. I reminded her that motherhood is a blessed calling, God equips us for this task, and the rewards are worth the struggle for persevering, rather than merely surviving the days.

Craig encouraged the father to be mindful that, although the days seem long, the years are short. As we quickly tried to offer them a bit of on-the-go advice in a nutshell, the two of them kept staring at us with a glazed-over look in their eyes.

How sad that parents like these are left feeling overwhelmed and discouraged in their parenting with very few available to offer biblical counsel and model engaged parenting. 
As I looked around at this particular congregation, I wondered whether there may be that "select few" who would offer encouragement - beginning with the leadership - to a growing family such as this, or if most of them - like the super-majority of society - have been naysayers, making "jokes" about fertility and pressuring young families such as these to stop having children. 


As a family, we have observed and concluded that many Christians are admittedly Pro-Life, as long as parents adhere to a 2.5-child family and not one more.

The Christian community embraces a Pro-Life stance for the unborn.
However, most attitudes toward children, in general, seem to contradict this position or relegate "Pro-Life" to being as selective as "Pro-Choice" by preempting conception and discouraging men and women from having more than three children.

It seems that while many hate the thought of killing babies - and rightly so, as it is heinous and abhorrent - the same balk at the idea of having children "too early" or having "too many". 


If you consider children an unworthy burden, I urge you to challenge your view to come in line with God's Word... learn of His position on children. 
If you see a young family joyfully embracing the blessing of fruitfulness, encourage them, for the Scripture says:


"Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward."
Psalm 127:3


Let us embrace a Whole-Life stance and consider that to be the biblical "Pro-Life" approach.
Remember: 
~All children are a blessing from God.


~We are instructed to approach our Saviour as a child.


Let's not model for them an unbiblical worldview that leads them to believe that they're taking up too much space, using too many resources, or will demonstrate responsibility by not having too many children of their own when they are married adults.