Monday, November 29, 2010

Enjoying family

Thanksgiving for our family this year was not a traditional one spent with extended family around a bountiful feast. That day found us traveling, and enjoying the Thanksgiving meal Cracker Barrel had to offer. We still enjoyed our time away with just the four of us!

But...when we returned, I decided an impromtu feast was in order to celebrate before our oldest returned to college--to make memories and show them love. We set the table with our nicest stoneware, and silver inherited from parents.

We added fall decorations, and prepared a feast of rosemary-roasted chicken and potatoes, green bean casserole, corn, and homemade buttermilk biscuits. Yummy! I think they appreciated it after meals on the road. We enjoyed spending time together over the meal.
It's so important to build pleasant memories while we have our children with us. Now that our oldest is at college, we have very limited times with her, and we try to make the most of them.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Still, My Soul, Be Still

My favorite new song writers/performers are Keith and Kristyn Getty from Ireland. Their songs are full of rich, Biblical lyrics. Much like hymns of old, their new hymns have verses that are each packed with meaning. This particular song (different from their hymns) has meant a lot to me today. You can access an audio sample of it here. We don't know what lies ahead in life, but we can still be assured of God's presence with us and we can rest in Him no matter the circumstances.

Still, my soul, be still and do not fear though winds of change may rage tomorrow.
God is at your side; no longer dread the fires of unexpected sorrow.

God, You are my God, and I will trust in You and not be shaken.
Lord of peace, renew a steadfast spirit within me to rest in You alone.

Still, my soul, be still; do not be moved by lesser lights and fleeting shadows.
Hold onto His ways, with shield of faith against temptation's flaming arrows.

Still, my soul, be still; do not forsake the truth you learned in the beginning.
Wait upon the Lord, and hope will rise as stars appear when day is dimming.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Delicious Poppy Seed Bread

This is a wonderful recipe I received from a relative for Poppy Seed Bread that I've used many times . It is so easy to make, and I've used it often for a Christmas gift for neighbors, or to take to a church fellowship meal. It's so delicious! I must tell you first that while the recipe is mine, the photo is not, as I borrowed it from I'll hope you'll also visit their site as they have many wonderful recipes too.

Poppy Seed Bread
Makes 2 loaves

3 cups flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup oil
1 1/2 cup milk
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons EACH of vanilla, butter, and almond flavorings
1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds

Frosting ingredients:
1/4 cup orange juice
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon EACH of vanilla, butter, and almond flavorings

Mix all the ingredients except frosting ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat for 2 minutes. Grease and flour 2 regular loaf pans. Pour 1/2 of the batter in each pan, and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes in the pan, then mix all ingredients for the frosting and pour it over the loaves while still in the pan. Let stand at least 5 minutes before removing.

We enjoyed going to our daughter's college to visit her on parents day today. They had a hymn sing, and other activities, and then we just enjoyed taking her to small, unique mountain gift shops and looking at all the beautiful, creative things like pottery, hand-knit shawls, etc. It was such a nice get-away.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Wonderful embroidery site!

I wanted to share with you my latest project and where the inspiration came from. I actually have finished this butterfly since taking these pictures, by filling in the spaces on the lower wings inside the purple satin stitch.

I did a lot of cross-stitch years ago, but haven't done much other hand embroidery. Then I came across this site and have learned how to do many different stitches. Mary Corbet has very clear instructional videos for learning the stitches--great for beginners. And be sure to read through her posts to see examples of her own work, which is fabulous.
For the butterfly above, the dark gray outline is whipped backstitch. The blue lines are stem stitch, and the yellow knots are French knots. The purple curved lines are satin stitch, and the sea green filler is chain stitch. I just used DMC cotton floss, since I already have many colors on hand. You may also download this pattern from the free patterns she offers.
If you want some other lovely, free patterns, check out my friend Linda Stubbs' blog at She is a fabric artist, and you can sign up for her free patterns along the right side of her blog. You can also access her store from her site where she sells some of her work.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Titanic Museum

Hi everyone! I'm posting again about our trip, wanting to share what we found inside the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge, TN. Looking from the road, it almost looks authentic, since it's made to the same size, but only half of it is there.

There are only 2 smoke stacks. The original had 4, but only 3 were functional.

Here's the sign--no cameras allowed inside. Maybe I can draw pictures with words. Most memorable were:
1-A display box containing a handwritten letter on Titanic stationery, posted from Ireland before traversing the ocean. The letter was written by Rev. John Harper and delivered to members of his church who had lost a relative. He encouraged them not to grieve without hope, and that the loved one who had gone ahead to Heaven was not lost to them, but now a link between Heaven and themselves. He was the pastor who was leading people to the Lord up until he himself perished, even giving his life jacket to someone who didn't know Christ--someone he said "needed it more" than he did. You may find stories about him by searching online and this link gives some biographical info on him. What a testimony for Christ!
2-Photographs by Father Browne taken on board Titanic during the first leg of the voyage before he disembarked in Ireland. He was asked to stop giving talks about Titanic after she sank, and after his death in 1960, his slides lay undiscovered until 1986, when they were found to be the best collection taken on the ship. He took the last photograph of the captain, and the only one of the Marconi Room. You may also view them here.
3-A replica of the grand staircase that we could walk up, laid with the newest, expensive flooring of the day--linoleum!! Pieces of wood from the grand staircase recovered from the water, and wood from the ship made into game boards.
4-Stories about other passengers, so interesting to read. Maj. Archibald Butt, aide to first Teddy Roosevelt, and then President Taft, was said to have been instrumental in organizing the evacuation of women and children to the lifeboats.
Mrs. Isdore Straus, wife of the owner of Macy's, almost boarded lifeboat 8 several times. But she gave her fur coat to her maid in the lifeboat and turned back to be with her husband, saying to him, "We have lived together for many years. Where you go, I go."
5-Toward the end we walked out on what was set up to look like a part of the deck outside the pilot house. There was an ice wall made to look like an iceberg, and containers of water cooled to the temperature of the water that night where we could plunge our hands.
My only comment is to say how moving it was to read some of the stories of those who were so courageous and were still doing the Lord's work in the face of death .

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Vacation time!

We just returned from a trip to Pigeon Forge Tennessee and Indiana. We saw some strange sites along the way (Wonderworks Museum).

It was fun to stay in a camping cabin in Pigeon Forge!

Our oldest daugher Anna relaxing at the cabin.

First stop--Titanic Museum, which we'll write more about in our next few posts.

Then we headed off into the Great Smoky Mountains.
Here's our youngest daugher Abby and myself.

We experienced the highest point of the Appalachian Trail.

We climbed to the top in half a mile's hike.

Picnics along the way were fun.

Stops at craft centers were colorful and inspiring!

Finally the joy of reuniting with Mitch's sisters and step-mother in Indiana.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Abby turned 10!

Thursday, the 22nd was Abby's 10th birthday! It was a full day with her choir concert that evening. She got many birthday wishes from friends and fellow choir members.

Like her 21-year-old sister Anna, she was a blessing to us after the trial of infertility. With Anna, we had tried for 2 years and after almost another year of testing, the Lord gave me a peace about it all in prayer one day. We found out we were expecting three months later!

After our 4-year term in language school and serving Bible translators in Benin, West Africa with no child on the horizon, would the Lord give us another? There was more testing with a doctor that seemed like we were spinning wheels and getting nowhere. Then, a doctor who cared and we knew the Lord was in it again. About 7 months later we found out we were expecting Abby!

We can truly say children are a blessing of the Lord! If any reading this are struggling with infertility right now, take comfort in knowing the Lord knows your pain. He knows how deeply it hurts, and He is the God of all comfort. Trust Him. The answer won't always be what we want it to be, but He knows what is best, and we have to trust that. Some of the scriptures that brought me comfort are: Prov. 3:5, 6--Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding... Rom 12:1,2 --that you may prove what is that good, acceptable and perfect will of God...
Abby, may you see yourself as a daughter of the King and grow up to live in a way that honors Him! We were blessed when you joined us 10 years ago, and have had richer lives because you have been entrusted to us.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Joining the Gratitude Community

Ever since reading Ann Voskamp's blog, "A Holy Experience," I've been keeping my list of things to thank God for in a journal. Now I'm adding a list to my blog, so this is the beginning!

1-Of course the first thing is our Heavenly Father and His love for us in sending Christ to die for us!
2-His precious Word, in which He is revealed and through which we come to know Him
3-My salvation, becoming His child and having a right relationship with Him
4-My loving husband and two girls!
5-The small things for today that would easily be overlooked are the joy that comes from planting our flowers and bushes with our own hands and seeing them grow and bloom.
6-Crochet tutorials attentively followed today by Abby and me (we know how to knit, but not much crochet)

7-Fellowship of like-minded people
8-Health and strength

9-A girl's head bowed in intense concentration, oil pastel scratching and filling the page
10-Foreign language (French) computer program doing some of the teaching for this mom
11-Husband at the grill

Find out how you can join the Gratitude Community by visiting A Holy

holy experience

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Our New Pets

Our latest homeschooling project has been a new bird feeder close to the living room window. All of us enjoy watching the show daily! Our bird book seems to always be on the coffee table as we grab it when we see a new bird.
This house finch visits regularly, usually with his wife who I would mistake for a sparrow.

Carolina Chickadees are very numerous here. We peeked in our bird house one year and saw five, little black baby chickadee heads. This year we had to repair the bird house and have rehung it too late, I'm afraid, for them to build their nest there.

We have two pairs of cardinals that dine regularly here. The mama is always more hesitant than papa. When we had some old indian corn ears laid out, he was the only one strong enough to pick off the kernels, and he would share them with her.

The tufted titmouse is shy and evasive. Anna, our oldest daughter, took these pictures for me with her nice camera! In almost every picture she took, the titmouse is peeking around the feeder.

We have this mama squirrel that always visits as well. She has a scar on her back that we recognize.

Her acrobatics constantly amaze us!

One scary incident that happened was when a hawk tried to snatch one of our little birds at the feeder. We were sitting on the couch and noticed a swoop of large, brown wings, and he landed briefly in the tree next to the feeder after failing to catch his prey. He didn't stay long when he detected our movements towards the window.
Now, it's the grackles that are a problem! They scare everyone away.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Our Favorite Pumpkin Muffins

We love this recipe from Pamela Smith’s Healthy Living Cookbook—lower fat and sugar and still delicious. One can of pumpkin makes about 3 recipes. This batch is shorter and denser because I didn't have whole-wheat PASTRY flour. In that case, I usually use only half whole wheat, but didn't feel like dragging out two canisters of flour this time!

2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
3 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
2/3 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup evaporated skim milk
3 Tbsp. canola oil
2 Tbsp. honey
2 egg whites (or ¼ cup egg substitute)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Spray the bottoms of 12-well muffin tin with cooking spray
or line with paper baking cups.
Mix flour, sugar, spices, salt, baking soda and baking powder in a bowl. In another bowl whisk together remaining ingredients. Add pumpkin mixture to
dry ingredients and stir until just moistened.
Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, each about 2/3rds full. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown. (We found 15 to 20 minutes to be the right time) About 146 calories per muffin.
Hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Lessons from the Potter

“But now, O Lord, You are our Father, we are the clay, and You our potter; and all of us are the work of Your hand.” Isa 64:8

Our youngest just finished a pottery class. The children began learning to shape clay on the wheel while also doing hand-built projects. I guess I didn’t realize how much practice it takes to shape clay into a usable vessel on the wheel. Here are some things Abby and I discussed about the potter and the clay. It warms my heart to think of how these apply to our relationship with the Potter, our Heavenly Father.

~Clay is not lovely to begin with, but has the potential in the right hands to be a thing of beauty.

~It must first be forcefully thrown onto the wheel and sealed around the edges so it will cling tightly and not be lost. These forceful movements yield to more gentle movements as the vessel begins to take shape.

~The Potter uses many muscles and movements of his hand to press the clay in just the right way at the right time, always keeping in His mind an image of the end result. Forceful movements give way to more gentle shaping as the clay begins to soften and yield. One forceful move when the clay is fragile or pressing too long in one spot would damage the work in progress.

~Sometimes the clay hurts the Potter as a rough spot brushes past his hands.

Father, may I learn to trust Your gentle hands to shape me into the image You have in mind. May I be moldable and yield to Your touch.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Birthday Treat!

Tuesday was a day for celebrating! Our oldest daughter celebrated her 21st birthday. We sent her a little "home away from home" package to brighten her day. She trudged through 5 inches of snow to the post office at college to get it.

A thrift store tea cup filled with Valentine candies...

A tea bag cozy (look familiar?) with her favorite Peppermint tea bag and a sugar packet tucked in also...

A microwave cake to make for herself, and another for a friend--smile--so she can share her birthday. In the back of the first photo, a heart-shaped wreath and a small dog calendar (not pictured) her little sister picked out and bought with her own money.
We called in the morning to see if she'd gotten it, but she hadn't gone to the post office yet. She sent me an instant message after she went to get it. I could tell she felt loved and missed.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tea Bag Cozies

Take a look at the fun project I've been working on! These will make nice additions to a gift of a tea cup, some tea, and some cookies. Or I might use one on tea tray to serve my hubbie or daughters for a special occasion.

This is a free pattern, courtesy of Prairie Flower Farm! Just scroll down and sign up to receive it on the right hand side of her blog, and leave a comment saying I sent you. She also has some adorable cozies ready-made that she sells.
I made the polka-dotted one entirely of cotton fabric, and the purple one is from purple wool felt on the outside with a cotton fabric lining.

After machine-sewing the outside and lining together, the rest is hand work, allowing you to finish them on the go, or while watching the Olympics!

If you make these, please let me and Linda at Prairie Flower Farm know!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Flowers and Poems

A sweet lady and friend, Linda Stubbs, at Prairie Flower Farm has posted a tutorial showing you how to make this adorable flower pin. It could also be used as a name tag, a decoration on a bag--you name it. She gives you more ideas at her blog. Check it out and leave a message telling her I sent you.

A lovely poem we came across:

True worth is in being, not seeming;

In doing each day that goes by

Some little good; not in the dreaming

Of great things to do by and by,

For whatever men say in their blindness.

And spite of the fancies of youth

There's nothing so kingly as kindness,

And nothing so royal as truth.

Alice Cary

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Best Winter Memories

Aren't making memories important as our children grow up? Some of the things that will probably stay in our memory so far this winter are the caroling we did for neighbors at Christmas, and the project we did today. We took time as a family before Anna goes back to college to sort clothes donated to Crisis Assistance Ministry for people in need. I can't say it was totally unselfish, because it was part of Disney's "Give a Day, Get a Disney Day" where you donate time in exchange for free tickets for one of Disney's parks. But, knowing the value of teaching our children to serve, we jumped at the chance to have a lesson in it today. They worked with willing, joyful hands! What a blessing. Those are the non-academic lessons that are such an important part of homeschooling, right?

I laugh as I think about another winter memory that sticks in the mind of 9-year-old Abby. Like this year, we had a forecast of snow, but woke up disappointed. So we covered the living room floor in old computer paper and had our own indoor fight, balling up pieces of paper and throwing our "snowballs" at each other. What fun! That was 2 or 3 years ago and she still mentions it with fondness and a smile.
Hope you enjoy making winter memories!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Abby's Bug Etching

Yesterday's art project for school using complementary colors: Put down a heavy layer of orange crayon, cover this with a heavy layer of dark blue oil pastel, and then draw a bug from a photo using a toothpick or stylus to scratch his image, revealing the orange underneath.
Her first words were: "I don't think I can do it. I can't draw from a photo, Mommy." Don't we homeschool moms all hear these words at times when our children face a daunting task? They need our encouraging words that will lead them to believe and try. While I could feel frustration rising within me, I instead chose to deliver encouraging words with a loving tone. And Abby chose to believe and try. With that, and directions from "The Phonics of Drawing" art program, I think she did a pretty good job, don't you?

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Not the toy, but the fabric kind! This is a super easy hand-sewing project, which our Abby, who is 9 years old, enjoyed with me. We made a Christmas doily for our coffee table out of them, but you could make one for any time of the year. Our friend Linda Stubbs' blog was where we first saw them. She tells you at the bottom of the post how to make them, or you can search the web for more detailed instructions.

Our doily is 24 X 11 inches, which is 13 rows long by 6 rows across. We traced around a lid about 4 inches across to cut the fabric circles. This added such a nice touch to our Christmas decor!