Blogging and Other Updates

First~

Come over to Writer…Interrupted today and read my post, “Finding the Time”

Second~

Have you noticed the new “Comment Luv” plug-in here at the site in the comments section? It’s a pretty nifty way of letting us know what your latest blogpost was, and you only have to enable it once. Go for it, I’m waiting!

Third~

Some of you know about my seven year old daughter’s two month long ordeal with inclusion cysts on her foot. Long story short, she got the mother of splinters neatly stuck in and out of the ball of her foot. I got most of the splinter out, but had to take her in to the doctor to get the rest. He thought he got it all, but in the next few weeks, she developed two blue-ish cysts about an inch below the “excavation” site of the splinter. Took her back to the same doctor, he lanced them, drained them and said if they came back we’d probably need to go the surgery route. So yesterday we took her to “the big city” to a podiatrist who gently manipulated her foot, X-rayed it, and is setting us up for a foot ultrasound. If the ultrasound shows a foreign body within the cyst, then he’ll want to cut it out, which means somewhat of a recovery and that 7 yo will have to hobble around on crutches for a short while. If there is no foreign body evident, then we play the “wait and see” game. This is what we’re praying for. I’m also making an appointment with an expert in Alternative Therapies to get her excellent advice before we jump into the surgery solution.

Thanks for all your prayers! Btw, 7 yo is in no pain from these cysts, and she is still feeling great after her four days of 103*+ fevers!

Homemade Chicken and Noodles

Chicken Noodle SoupThere’s nothing like Chicken and Noodle soup to comfort away winter’s ailments! This recipe is extremely comforting, and delicious! My sister-in-law, a great cook, fixed this for us over New Year’s. I memorized her chicken recipe and made it for us within the same week! The homemade noodle recipe comes from my tattered Better Homes and Garden’s “New Cook Book”. It’s far from new, but ’tis the name anyhow.

Homemade Chicken and Noodles

  • 1 whole chicken, cut in pieces
  • 1-2 cans chicken broth (recipe calls for 1, I use 2)
  • 1 can cream of celery soup
  • homemade noodles

Cook chicken pieces and broth in slow cooker/crockpot for five hours on high, or till meat falls off bones. Save broth, transfer broth only to soup kettle. Add homemade egg noodles to boiling broth, turn down heat and cook noodles (about ten-fifteen minutes). Meanwhile, remove chicken meat from bones, discard fat, skin and bones. Shred chicken into pieces with fingers–should crumble apart. When noodles are done cooking, add chicken and one can cream of celery soup. If you prefer to thicken the soup, sprinkle a little flour across top and blend it in.

~ Note ~

Please, if you want this recipe to be the very best, use the whole chicken (cut up), or at least chicken pieces on the bone. Substituting boneless skinless chicken breasts just doesn’t produce the same tenderness and flavor. Don’t forget about the low-fat cream soup substitute recipe I shared yesterday, it’s a good one for this recipe, and if you do use it, just dice your celery and add it to the broth in the slow cooker at the beginning of the five hours, it will be nice and tender and a part of your broth without having to add it to the cream soup mix.

Also, my mom sent over five peanut butter jars of frozen homemade chicken broth, complete with bits of onion and celery…so I substituted two of those for the cans of chicken broth. Can you say brilliant? (Thanks, Mom!) Anytime you make a turkey or chicken, save the bones/carcass, etc and cover them with water–add minced garlic, diced onions and celery and simmer for a couple of hours. You’ll have a healthy broth to keep in your freezer for sick days…or whatever.

Okay, on to the best part, the homemade noodles.

Homemade Noodles

I make mine with half whole wheat flour (home ground), we love them. If you prefer sticking with white flour, that works great too. This batch will be the equivalent to an eight ounce package of store-bought, depending on how thin you roll it out. I use my mom’s pasta machine, which makes a hard job amazingly easy. I’ve rolled it out by hand also, it’s quite the workout, but they turn out just as delicious. The main thing with rolling them out by hand, is to get them thin enough.

  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour, or a mix of the two
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tsp cooking oil or olive oil

In a large mixing bowl, stir together 2 cups of the flour and the salt. (At this point, if you want to add herbs to the dry mixture, such as 1 tsp dried crushed basil, marjoram, or sage, go ahead. I don’t usually do this) Make a well in the center of the mixture. In a bowl combine eggs, water, and oil. Add to flour mixture; mix well.

Sprinkle kneading surface with the remaining flour (or use your dough hook in mixer). Turn dough out onto floured surface. Knead till dough is smooth and elastic (8-10 minutes total). Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

Divide dough into fourths. On a lightly floured surface, roll each fourth into a 12×12 inch square (about 1/16 inch thick). Let stand 20 minutes. Cut as desired. Roll dough up into a long cylinder, and slice noodles about 1/4 inches wide, unroll.

Or, if using pasta machine, pass dough through machine according to manufacturer’s instructions till 1/16 inch thick. Cut as desired.

Cook pasta, allowing a few more minutes for dried or frozen pasta. Makes 1 pound fresh pasta.

~Note~ I made mine earlier in the day and just let the noodles dry on my counters and cooling racks. I didn’t end up using all of the noodles for our family meal, so I stored the remainder (dry noodles) in airtight Zip lock in the refrigerator. For freezing, my cookbook says to dry the pasta for at least an hour, seal it in a freezer bag or freezer container and freeze for up to 8 months. (This is making me want to mega-cook a whole bunch of pasta, anyone else?)

Now, of course, you could just buy those yummy frozen egg noodles at the grocery store and save yourself this delightful from-scratch experience, but even those don’t compare. If you can, borrow a pasta machine from someone and show your children how to make noodles. Mine had a blast. Of course, 7 year old was sick on the couch, which was why I was making chicken and noodles in the first place…but my 10 and 3 year olds said it was way more fun than play-dough!

Alas, my 7 yo passed on eating anything with us that night. When she finally regained a semblance of an appetite the next evening, guess what she wanted to eat? Romaine lettuce and banana bread. So we made sure she had some of both! Her loss, because that soup was incredible!

Low-fat Cream Soup Substitute

Yet another great use for nonfat dry milk. I don’t know where I’d be without my huge box. I never use “real” milk for recipes, only for drinking and cereal. With a gallon of milk costing over $3, this saves us a bundle of money. And it couldn’t be easier to substitute. I don’t even whisk the dry milk into the water beforehand, I just add it to the dry ingredients (unless otherwise specified in the recipe) and remember to add the coinciding amount of water later. Check your box for mixing instructions, but the two kinds I’ve gotten both have the ratio of 1/3 cup dry milk to 1 cup water. Easy to remember.

Okay, I got this cream soup recipe from my friend Jana, back when we were both active on the Proverbs 31 Ministry loops. Long time ago. This is a great “mix” to keep on hand, another money-saver. I’ve been grateful for it many times.

Low-fat Cream Soup Substitute

  • 2 cups nonfat dry milk
  • 3/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup instant chicken bouillon granules
  • 2 TB dried onion flakes
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Combine all ingredients, mix well and store in airtight container. To use, mix 1/3 cup dry mixture with 1 1/4 cups cold water in saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened. *Add any ingredients desired (ie: mushrooms, celery) Add to casseroles, etc, as you would cream soup. This makes enough for SEVERAL recipes.

*If you do want to add mushrooms or celery (for cream of mushroom or cream of celery soups) saute them first in a small amount of butter.

I’m sharing this recipe because my very next post is a to-die-for homemade chicken and noodles recipe, and having this cream soup recipe on hand would be a very good thing!

Seeing Things

My oldest is helping her Grand-dad work calves this 19 degree weatherful mornin’; my middle daughter is lying on the couch watching Little House on the Prairie after a miserable night of fever and little sleep, and youngest is still in her footie pajamas, coughing but happy.

After just discussing my stance on letting fevers run their course in the comments of the Vick’s VapoRub on Feet post, you all would have been raising your eyebrows at my frenzied run for the cupboard and some Tylenol last night.

Meltaways rolled from my palm, onto the countertop, then off to the floor. At the same time, my little girl cowered into me, alternating between hiding her eyes and furtively looking beyond us to the doorway. If you’ve ever seen Sixth Sense you know how creeped out I was. She’d woken up, sweaty and disoriented, hallucinating. What was she seeing, what scared her so much? People. Lots of them. Ones I couldn’t see.

She’d been running a 104F fever (40.0 C for my NZ friends) for probably 4 hours at that point, but since she was resting well, I wasn’t worried about her needing Tylenol. And I’m still not sure the Tylenol did her any favors, because well within its 4 hour parameter she had two more episodes–hallucinations. It was so strange, because we had her giggling, and listing off all the names of our dogs, her cousins, the 27 books of the New Testament and right in the middle of seeming lucid, she just went off about the giants in the kitchen and begged me to turn off the kitchen light so she wouldn’t see them anymore. Of course we prayed for/with her and I held her close on the couch most of the night, but what a horrible experience. She did this last year when she had influenza but somehow I’d forgotten.

This morning her fever is 103F. Her hot little forhead is heating up cold washcloths almost as fast as I can replace them, but thankfully she is drinking 2-3 cups of liquid an hour. Thanks to the hydrogen peroxide treatments she has little to no cold symptoms anymore, only the fever and malaise, though she did vomit once last night…

Thank you all for praying, my little girl needs it! I’m just so thankful for plumbing, and that midnight jaunts to the outhouse in zero degree weather aren’t necessary!

On the home front, dh finished the “mini-bathroom” remodel up last night. We are rejoicing to have a working shower and bathtub again! We even found the exact match to our bath tile-board, so we only had to replace the one wall section…

How are all of you guys this end of the week Friday?

Dreams and Goals

By Tricia Goyer, author of Generation NeXt Parenting

Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you. (Ephesians 1:9)

Through the years of seeking my own goals and dreams-for myself, my career and my family-I’ve discovered one more thing. God wants us to be obedient to the purposes He has for us, no matter what stage of life we’re in. Even the parenting stage.

The question is, whose dream are you sweating over? Yours or God’s? If we are chasing only our own dreams we will be frustrated. But, if we are chasing the dreams that God has planned for us, we will find more than we ever thought possible. The choice seems clear to me — clear, but not always easy to follow.

So how can you know you’re on the right track? What dreams should we follow? As children of God who are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” God has granted us unique gifts for the benefit of His kingdom. The important words here are “for the benefit of His Kingdom”. God gives us the dreams of our hearts; it is up to us to obediently pursue those dreams to the glory of God, not the glory of man. There is no better way for your children to learn about their gifts than by seeing us fulfill ours — through the grace and strength found in God alone.

So don’t be afraid to seek God concerning His dreams, not only for yourself as a mother, but also as a child of the Most High. Trust that His dreams for you are immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine!

Verses to narrow your focus:

John 6:38

Philippians 1:6

Ephesians 1:9

Ephesians 3:20

Ephesians 5:17-18

Psalm 84:10

© Tricia Goyer

God is Good, All the Time

I listened to Point of Grace’s song You Are Good on repeat today. For over an hour.

The country adventures abound here lately. Oh yeah, I’ve got stories. Mud coming out of all our taps for several days last week. 24 hours without water at all. Dh working till 1 A.M. in “blizzard” conditions installing a new pump and air tank down at our well’s pump house. Getting my eyebrows and hairline singed to frizzles from a too close encounter with our corn stove. Running out of corn for our corn stove on a six degree winter’s night. Having worsening water pressure problems thanks to the dirt-in-our-plumbing experience of earlier last week culminating in our having no hot water to the bathtub, and no cold water to the bathroom sink (?)…the result of which meant tearing into the wall surrounding the bath/shower area. And just like that, we’re in the midst of a mini-remodeling project. Oh, and this morning, the guy delivering a load of corn (at $5.10 a bushel) got stuck twice turning around in my yard. I’ve got ruts the height of Mt. Everest out there, and the whole frustrating process took two hours, not to mention, me and the skid steer couldn’t get the man unstuck. Nope, it took my father in law and hubby, and by that time, I couldn’t feel my face or my fingers.

Whew. I hate to be such a whiner, because I know all too well it could have been much much worse. All my loved ones are intact, body and soul. We have a home. We live in America. God is good.

I recently read Summer by Karen Kingsbury, and in it, she brought up the point that God sometimes speaks to us with a gentle whisper…and I think that when we’re going through hard things, whether they’re just a bunch of annoying little hardships such as I’ve listed above, or real heart-wrenching issues–when we’re going through these things, and consciously decide to accept them and give thanks for them, the Lord honors that sacrifice.

And I think it brings Him great joy to see us looking up despite our circumstances. Every one of the past few days has had its share of “gently whispered” blessings. Some I didn’t even have to look hard to find, while others kind of crept up on me.

Anyway. After the corn delivery, I came in, peeled potatoes for soup and listened to this song (see lyrics below). And tears of joy and pain mingled on their way down my cheeks. (I especially love the fourth stanza down…)

 

You Are Good

~Point Of Grace~

When the sun starts to rise and I open my eyes, you are good, so good
In the heat of the day with each stone that I lay, you are so good
With every breath I take in, I’ll tell you I’m grateful again
When the moon rises high before each kiss goodnight, you are good

When the road starts to turn, around each bend I’ve learned you are good, so good
And when somebody’s hand holds me up, helps me stand you are so good
With every breath I take in, I’ll tell you I’m grateful again
Cause it’s more than enough just to know I am loved and you are good

So how can I thank you? What can I bring? What can a poor man lay at the feet of the King?
So I’ll sing you a love son, it’s all that I have To tell you I’m grateful for holding my life in your hands

When it’s dark and it’s cold, and I can’t feel my soul you are still good
When the world has gone gray and the rain’s here to stay you are still good
With every breath I take in, I’ll tell you I’m grateful again
And the storm may swell, even then it is well, and you are good

CHORUS
So I’ll sing you a love song, it’s all that I have To tell you I’m grateful for holding my life in your hands

You are holding my life in your hands.

Poppy Seed Bread

I’ve been getting requests about this recipe, and since I had it all typed out to email around I decided to post it here at the blog as well…it’s our family’s absolute favorite sweet bread, yes even more than Amish Friendship Bread…mostly due to the fabulous glaze…

Poppy Seed Bread

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups oil
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. each of: vanilla, imitation butter flavoring, pure almond extract/flavoring
  • 2 TB poppy seeds

Mix all ingredients, beat 2 minutes with mixer. Grease and flour 2 large baking pans. Bake at 350*F for 1 hour.

Remove from oven and glaze with the following ingredients, be sure to mix them together before brushing them atop your bread:

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 tsp. each of vanilla, imitation butter flavoring, pure almond extract/flavoring

Let set until glaze is absorbed, about 5 minutes, then take out of pans.

These make great gifts at Christmas! I recommend making this recipe into 6 mini-loaves, rather than two large loaves. That way, the glaze goes further with each bite! Plus, if you do mini-loaves, you can put them in a package with an assortment. For instance, Strawberry bread or Pumpkin bread or Amish Friendship Bread…but the Poppy Seed bread is by far the biggest hit and my most often requested recipe.

Good~Better~Best

I’m posting over at Weekend Kindness today, here’s what’s up:

What is the “good~better~best” lifestyle? Why, it’s the grading scale of who you are, and how you represent yourself (good), your family (better), and God (best). Practicing “good” manners becomes the bare minimum against such expectations.

This is a parenting post intending to help us rev it up a notch! What goals do you have for your children’s training in 2008?

Contentment: Caught Between Bitter and Sweet

Not long ago, I was reading The Brushstroke Legacy by Lauraine Snelling, and the main character’s description of her best friend caught my attention. Here it is:

“But then Bethany would give her some line about God’s grace being new every morning. She [Bethany] wouldn’t recognize a real problem if she tripped over it.”

Ah, the stark hopelessness of the godless viewpoint. Most likely, this friend Bethany has tasted hurt and disappointment of which Snelling’s heroine has no concept. Savor the truth in this verse:

“A sated man loathes honey, but to a famished man any bitter thing is sweet.” Proverbs 27:7 

“Any bitter thing is sweet…” This speaks to my heart, does it to yours? Thankfulness is the crux of contentment. And how do we learn the purity of thankfulness? During the low times.

Contentment is a favorite topic of mine, perhaps because in certain areas I struggle so with it. Most of our friends/family have two incomes, and their homes and hobbies represent that. I constantly tell myself that our lifestyle is priceless, that the sacrifices are evident but worthwhile. It’s true, for us, but lately I’ve had a few nudges from God that I wanted to share here with you. Hopefully they’ll encourage you all, as they’ve encouraged me!

For Christmas, my dh sneaked a Point of Grace CD into my stocking, and their song “How to Live” contains a line I intend to stencil above my kitchen doorway:

“Have what you want, want what you have”…

Another one worthy of framing came from Tommy Nelson’s A Life Well-Lived DVD series,

“The best thing for us is not money. The worst thing for us is not hardship.”

And I’ve been mulling over something I heard Greg Laurie say on Christian radio the other day. I was driving, so of course, I don’t have this verbatim, but he made the point of how humiliating a death sentence a Roman crucifixion was…a death reserved for the very worst of criminals. Jesus was willing to die that type of death for us, and He tells us in the Bible to “Take up your cross and follow Me.” Are we to think that living the Christian life will be one of ease and prosperity? If it were, wouldn’t people be flocking to Christ in droves…all for the wrong reasons?

If you’re human, you’ve wondered why unbelievers always seem to prosper, while so many who truly love the Lord struggle with sickness, financial problems, relational troubles…yes we live in a fallen world, but how better to increase our faith than having to totally rely upon God? We serve a God who works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform…we don’t know what His purposes are for some of the things He allows in our lives, but we can know that it’s all for good, all in His plan. Most of us don’t know true suffering at any rate, not in comparison with many of the saints and heroes of the faith who have gone before us.

Another important reason to practice and strive toward contentment, is that we want our children to follow suit. How sad to have a child that compares their lifestyle to other children and finds it wanting. There’s nothing better than my gift on New Year’s Eve, when my oldest came up and hugged me tight, saying, “I love our family! I’m SO glad God gave us to each other…”

We really get wrapped up in a lot of stress that’s unnecessary, you know? Not only that, it’s a sin. It’s  called covetousness. When I’m old and looking back, I hope the wrinkles on my face are from smiles and not regrets.

“Have what you want, but want what you have…” I have a lifeful of treasure, how about you?

Vicks VapoRub on Feet

Cough medicines are not only hazardous for your child’s health, they do no good whatsoever. At least in my humble experience. I wonder if they’d make a good weedkiller?

Anyhow, I just have to pass along this great information because I’ve tried it several times now, on different kids, and my mom has tried it–all with success…it’s just so amazing, I can’t not share it with you!

It all started with an email forward. As with most email forwards, there is no way of contacting the original author either to fall down at her feet and praise her blessed name or to ask her permission to publish this at my site, but I figure she probably won’t mind. Forwards being forwards, and all.

Anyway, my mil sent this to me, the Vick’s skeptic that I am…only because I’ve suffered through having it on my nostrils and throat one too many times throughout my childhood and never thought it made an ounce of difference, will all the Vick’s VapoRub survivors say aye, aye? Aye, aye.

But I could barely sleep one night due to my 3 year old’s coughing. Finally I decided to try the vaporub on her, but she was in footie pajamas and on the top bunk so I figured Vicks being Vicks, I’d smear some on her throat and chest and call it good. Half an hour later–she’s still hacking. In fact, she ended up coughing so hard she vomited.

So here I was, at midnight, cleaning her up. Since she was out of her PJ’s at this point, I went ahead and slathered some Vick’s on the soles of her feet. Followed it up with socks, clean sheets and re-tucked the exhausted little thing in bed.

Nary a cough the rest of the night. Nor the rest of the week, thanks to me smartening up and applying Vick’s before PJ time each night. And as I said, I put my 7 yo through the same ritual when she was fighting the chest cold a week later. Worked great. And ask my mom how it allowed her to get much needed rest at night during her own cold.

And now with no further ado from your’s truly: the email forward that started it all…

VICKS VAPORUB…TRY IT, IT WORKS

I wish I’d known this when my family was young during winter colds and coughs. I am going to try it myself. Share with young parents.

Isn’t life strange? When we had a lecture on Essential Oils, they told us how the foot soles can absorb oils. Their example: Put garlic on your feet and within 20 minutes you can ‘taste’ it.

Some of us have used Vicks Vaporub for years for everything from chapped lips to sore toes and many body parts in between. But I’ve never heard of this. And don’t laugh, it works 100% of the time although the scientists at the Canada Research council (who discovered it) aren’t sure why.

To stop night time coughing in a child (or adult as we found out
personally), put Vicks Vaporub generously on the bottom of the feet at bedtime, then cover with socks. Even persistent, heavy, deep coughing will stop in about 5 minutes and stay stopped for many, many hours of r elief. Works 100% of the time and is more effective in children than even very strong prescription cough medicines. In addition it is extremely soothing and comforting and they will sleep soundly.

I heard the head of the Canada Research Council describe these findings on the part of their scientists when they were investigating the effectiveness and usage of prescription cough medicines in children as compared to alternative therapies like acupressure.

Just happened to tune in A.M. Radio and picked up this guy talking about why cough medicines in kids often do more harm than good due to the chemical makeup of these strong drugs so, I listened. It was a surprise finding and found to be more effective than prescribed medicines for children at bedtime, in addition to have a soothing and calming effect on sick children who then went on to sleep soundly. Polly tried it on herself when she had avery deep constant and persistent cough a few weeks ago and it worked 100%! She said that it felt like a warm blanket had enveloped her, coughing stopped in a few minutes and believe me, this was a deep, (incredibly annoying!) every few seconds uncontrollable cough, and she slept cough-free for hours every night that she used it. If you have grandchildren, pass it on. If you end up sick, try it yourself and you will be absolutely amazed by the effects.

Mary again:

I am not a doctor! I’m just passing this info along in the hopes that it helps you and your loved ones get some much-needed sleep and relief from the coughing that commonly arises at night for cold sufferer’s. Please visit the Vick’s VapoRub website for more info on this product, and use your own good judgment from there.