Farm Happenings

Well, a whole lot has been going on at our little homestead since I last had time to write! For starters, the girls and I have been preparing for our local farmer’s market for around two months, canning jellies and jams, making homemade cold process soaps and lip balms, crocheting doll dresses and dishcloths and potscrubbers, and trying out specialty cookie recipes such as “Nutter Betters” and “M’Oreos”, Marbled Chocolate Caramel Bars and Graham Crackers.

We’ve also been preparing for the arrival of two family cows! We were able to acquire an older Jersey cow named “Phyllis”–we call her “Philly”, and a 5 year old Ayreshire named “Missy”. They have been a wonderful addition to our livestock family. And on the evening of the first farmer’s market, Philly gave birth to a bouncing baby bull calf! They are both doing great, and yes, I’m so far surviving the early morning milkings. It’s the many buckets and containers that need washed and sterilized that’s killing me over here!  We are huge fans of raw milk, and having our own milk cows is a dream come true, a long time coming! Missy is due to calve sometime around the end of May.

We’re raising baby chicks again, some for laying and some for the freezer. Our garden is double the size it was last year, we have a good stand of lettuce, onions, broccoli, cabbage, rainbow swiss chard, beets and about 60 or more tomatoes–I lost count. Green beans are coming up nicely, and I need to get out there and plant cukes and melons ASAP! Always plenty to do these days, as we finish up our school year, and work on labels for our market goodies.

The first farmer’s market was last week, and it exceeded our expectations and then some. We are trying to figure out how to make more baked goods while maximizing our efficiency. Oh for another stove! My 14 year old is the one baking the specialty cookies, which are very time consuming, but amazingly delicious, and big draws for the public. All of our baked goods are 100% made from freshly ground whole wheat berries…from our butter cookie pie crusts to our M’Oreo cookies.

Hope you enjoy the pics of our little farmstead!

Happy Spring to you!

Best Healthy Cornbread Recipe

It’s a cold ‘un out there today! My husband works outside so we’re fixing one of our favorite meals–chili and cornbread. My chili is a thick one, made with browned hamburger, pinto beans, black beans, a diced onion, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, a little homemade salsa and seasonings like chili powder, cumin, and garlic. If you soak your beans overnight and let the above ingredients simmer about 6-8 hours, you’ll have a thick, hearty, stick-to-your ribs meal. Perfect for a cold day!

Our cornbread recipe is a tweaked version of one we got from the back of a Bob’s Red Mill package of wheat germ. Instead of making it into the corn muffins for which it was intended, I double the recipe and put it in a 9×13″ pan, and substitute the white flour the recipe calls for, with freshly ground spelt flour. And because we try to avoid most corn products (because conventionally grown corn contains GMOs), I get organically grown popcorn from our neighbor’s CSA farm, and grind it into cornmeal. Mmm! We love this stuff…

Whole Wheat Corn Bread

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, and grease a 9×13″ pan. Recipe may be halved for a 8×8″ square dish. And, if you’d rather make it into muffins, it should make about 24 muffins.

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (we like Spelt berries, freshly ground), if you prefer, you could use white flour, or a mixture of the two.
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 2 eggs, beaten (nothing compares to our own home-raised organic eggs!)
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 4 TB sugar (best is “evaporated cane juice”, if you can find it!)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder (buy “aluminum free”)
  • 1 tsp. salt (sea salt is wonderful!)
  • 2 cups milk (we love us our raw cow’s milk!!)

Stir together flour, wheat germ, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center. Combine egg, milk, and melted butter; add all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened; batter should be lumpy. Transfer batter to greased 9×13″ pan, and bake at 400*F for 20-25 minutes, till lightly browned on top. Serve warm, of course! (it’s especially good with organic local honey on top!)

(FYI–the pic above is a freebie from morguefiles, not my own, just trying to add color to the post! My own chili and cornbread look quite a bit different…)

Are you really a Christian?

In a world of people who claim Christianity, yet live their everyday lives as if our Lord Jesus Christ doesn’t exist, it’s easy to wonder if they are truly saved. Are they? Are you? Am I? Perhaps even more sobering…what about our children?

Jesus himself makes a startling statement in Matthew 7:22-23,

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Can you imagine anything more devastating than taking your salvation for granted, and finding out on judgement day that your Christianity was a sham in Jesus’ eyes? In a day and age where people claiming to be Christians are “prophesying” and doing miracles in Jesus’ name, it pays to have discernment…and the only way to gain reliable discernment is to study our Bibles, and see what God says about salvation and the fruit of true Christianity. If it can’t be 100% proven by the Bible, then what are we doing trusting in what man says, over what God says?

Case in point. I really thought I was a Christian. My parents assured me that I’d prayed the “prayer” when I was two years old. At the age of seven, I began sweating my own “un-recalled” salvation experience. I now realize that God was prodding my heart. My biggest question at the time, was childishly simple:

Is there a difference between believing Jesus died for me on a cross 2,000 years ago, and believing any historical fact, such as “Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492”?

That question plagued me as a seven year old! I was raised in a godly home, a pastor’s daughter, my parents knew that I *knew* the ABC’s of salvation, but they didn’t know that I didn’t understand the heart’s involvement and response to what Christ had done for me. I was so young, that my head was nodding to the factual side of what needed to be done, but my heart wasn’t involved. Sure I wanted to escape hell, who wouldn’t. Sign me on the dotted line! I didn’t have a fruitful Christian life on the inside until more recently in my adult years. Thus, I fully believe a person can be a very good, moral person, and believe that they are doing everything required by a  church, or a fellowship of believers, to fit in, to be of “service” to God…and even bring others to the saving knowledge of Christ, but not be really saved. We’ve got to remember that to the Lord, all our righteousness is as filthy rags. It’s HIS righteousness, never ours, that makes the difference.

I urge you, if you are a “Christian” with doubts, please be sure you aren’t trusting in any of the following:

  1. Someone else’s assurance that you indeed “prayed a prayer” of faith when you were very young.
  2. Infant baptism, or any other baptism for salvation. Don’t take my word on this, study the instances of baptism in the Bible. There are no cases of infant baptism, and all other instances of adult baptism follow decisions of salvation.
  3. Faith in a prayer you prayed. The prayer doesn’t save you. Jesus’ shed blood on the cross saves you, once you repent of your sins and turn to Him, believing! Did Jesus or Paul ever outline a “salvation prayer” in the New Testament? A “1-2-3 Pray-after-me” type of prayer? No.
  4. Did you “make a commitment” to the Lord? Did you “trust Jesus as your Savior”? Did you “give your heart to Jesus”? None of these phrases have Biblical backing when it comes to salvation.

Let me say this again. Faith doesn’t save you. Christ saves you, and faith is the channel that gets you there.

What does it take to be saved? Different denominations make different claims. Check them to see if they are biblical. Repentance of our sins, and faith alone in Jesus’ shed blood alone, is what saves us. There is nothing we can do to earn or deserve eternal life.

Our pastor reminded us last Sunday, that there are two kinds of sorrow…a godly sorrow leading to repentance, and a worldly sorrow, somewhat akin to “regret”. Check out what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 7:8-11 about these two kinds of sorrow. (emphasis mine)

For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though [it were] but for a season.

Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.

For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, [what] clearing of yourselves, yea, [what] indignation, yea, [what] fear, yea, [what] vehement desire, yea, [what] zeal, yea, [what] revenge! In all [things] ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

Bottom line…we can come to Christ in prayer, and repent of our sins and believe that his shed blood on the cross wipes our debt of sin clean. But it’s not our prayer that saves us. It’s Jesus alone. If you aren’t trusting Jesus 100% alone to save you–you aren’t saved–works do not save. Works are anything your church says that you need to do in addition to the above…when you add works into the mix, you are changing the gospel, and making it as if Jesus death was in vain. Dangerous stuff as Galatians 2:21 tells us:

I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness [come] by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

Romans 10:9-10 says it so simply:

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

This is only a partial glimpse into my own personal journey through this issue. I hope to share my full testimony here one day soon. Meanwhile, what would it hurt to re-examine your own heart before the Lord?

Homemade Yogurt

I’m always looking for great breakfast alternatives to cereal. Typically, our breakfasts consist of our own organic scrambled eggs and fresh fruit, occasionally muffins, blender waffles, or baked oatmeal. But homemade yogurt is a real treat–it’s easy, and I love it. We use raw whole milk in ours, and Activia yogurt for starter. Not all store bought yogurts are equal, by the way. Be sure you check the wording. It should say “CONTAINS” active cultures, not “MADE WITH” active cultures. If it was simply made with active cultures, then those cultures were killed off in the pasteurization process, and it won’t work for making homemade yogurt. You need those live good bacteria for good health, and for good yogurt!

This recipe works best with whole milk, but I’ve scoured the net for variations, and you can use lower-fat content milk with this method. For it to be nice and thick, however, you should add one packet of unflavored gelatin to the mix after stirring in the yogurt with active cultures. It seems that some have been successful mixing non-fat milk powder in as well. FYI–I have not tried adding in gelatin or powdered milk–so experiment at your own risk there!

Here’s the recipe and how-to’s. It makes around 2.5 quarts–but it won’t last long if your tribe likes it as much as mine does!

Homemade Yogurt

  • 8 cups (half-gallon) of whole milk–raw, or pasteurized and homogenized is fine, but do NOT use ultra-pasteurized.
  • 1/2 cup store-bought natural, live/active culture plain or vanilla yogurt (You need to have a starter. Once you have made your own, you can use that as a starter)
  • frozen/fresh fruit or jams for flavoring
  • thick bath towel
  • crock pot

**Note: This takes a while. Make your yogurt on a stay-at-home day so you can monitor your yogurt.

  1. My crockpot holds 4 quarts. Plug in your crockpot and turn to low.
  2. Add an entire half gallon of milk. Cover and cook on low for 2 1/2 hours.
  3. Unplug your crockpot. Leave the cover on, and let it sit for 3 hours.
  4. When 3 hours have passed, scoop out 2 cups of the warmish milk and put it in a bowl. Whisk in 1/2 cup of store-bought live/active culture yogurt. Then dump the bowl contents back into the crockpot. Stir to combine.
  5. Put the lid back on your crockpot. Keep it unplugged, and wrap a heavy bath towel all the way around the crock for insulation.
  6. Go to bed, or let it sit for 8 hours.

In the morning, the yogurt will have thickened—it will not be as firmly thick as store-bought yogurt, but it still has the consistency of low-fat plain yogurt. And differing batches might have varying results. I’ve never had a batch mess up, but I’ve had some yogurt that was better added to smoothies than eaten with a spoon!

Chill your yogurt in the refrigerator. Your fresh yogurt will last 7-10 days. You’ll want to save 1/2 cup as a starter to make a new batch.

To serve, blend in your favorite fruit, either fresh or a tablespoon of jam per serving. We have access to fresh strawberries, blueberries and blackberries, so these are our favorite additions. We usually just pull  out a container of homemade organic freezer jam and stir a little of it into our yogurt. Mmm! You could also just add a little honey. Voila!

The Saving of Self-righteous Naaman

Naaman has everything he could want. Prestige, power, success, reknown, but  he’s dying from leprosy. Sound familiar? What a picture of self-righteous mankind who thinks he has everything, but in reality, he’s lost in sin that ONLY God can cleanse. So the Old Testament story of Naaman is really a picture of New Testament salvation.

Our pastor has been taking us through the lives of Elijah and Elisha recently, and he has such a gift for placing us in the story. I’m often wanting to share my sermon notes here at the site, but usually run out of time. I just want to say up front, that the bulk of this post’s teaching are straight out of his mouth, as fast as I could jot them down, not my own. With the exception of a couple minor embellishments of mine…and with his permission to share it here, let’s dive right in!

This is a narrative deeper than the muddy Jordan where Naaman bathed his leprous body. For instance, leprosy in the Bible, is a picture of sin. Leprosy is an internal disease that manifests externally, it’s disgusting to look at, and comes with a stench. It’s highly contagious. Just like sin, it’s debilitating, destructive and leads to death.

Here we have the top ranking officer of the host of the King of Syria, not an Israelite, btw, but still the scripture says Naaman was honorable because “by him the Lord had given deliverance unto Syria”. God used Naaman to chasten Israel. Naaman was “a mighty man in valor” well respected country wide, and then we’re told the kicker: “BUT he was a leper.”

That there is a real contrast for such a high ranking official. Check out the whole story in 2 Kings 5:1-19.

Enter the “little maid”. It’s interesting in this story, that servants play a pivotal role. Firstly, this little Israelite captive pipes up and says,

Would God my lord [were] with the prophet that [is] in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy.”

We can surmise that this little gal has been trained by good parents who must have been teaching her that with God, ALL things are possible. She’s been raised on stories of Elijah and Elisha, what a miraculous time to have been alive! Don’t you just smile at her implicit, unswervable trust in God here? I mean, who is she in this household? A child servant. Yet follow the channels her little declaration sets in place. Little maid tells her mistress (Naaman’s wife), then in verse 4, there’s a reference to “one” who tells Naaman, next thing we know the King of Syria knows about it and is mailing a letter to the King of Israel! And oh man, the King of Israel rents his clothes and has a panic attack. He says:

“[Am] I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me.”

Good night. This King of Israel has less faith than a little girl captive over in Syria. Come on! This king should have followed the biblical precedent shown by King Hezekiah–what do you do when you receive bad news in the mail? Lay the letter out before God and pray over it. Same thing we should do today when we receive disturbing news. Apparently the King of Israel doesn’t know there is a prophet of God in Israel! He’s about to find out!

Enter Elisha. Elisha hears about the missive from Syria, and about the King of Israel’s distress, but he sees this as an opportunity to let someone outside of their nation know that there is a prophet of God in Israel!

So Naaman arrives with a hugely impressive entourage of people, and a LOT of money. He’s willing to pay BIG time to be healed. This procession is a big deal. This is a self-righteous, top ranking general’s arrival at Elisha’s house.

And Elisha doesn’t even come out to meet him. Ouch. He sends a messenger out the door with a succinct, to the point message. “Go wash in the Jordan seven times.” Um, what’s this look like today? Imagine several helicopters landing in the soybean field below your house and the President of America and his secret servicemen requesting an audience…and you send your hired man out to talk for you. You’re busy. Uh-huh.

Elisha sends a message. By the way, what Naaman needs is the MESSAGE, not the man. Naaman needs the gospel.

The Bible tells us in verse 11 what Naaman’s reaction is. He is “wroth“. A few verses later it says he “went away in a rage“. He rants: “Behold I thought…” Now there’s his problem. His expectations were dashed. He says, “We have better rivers” in Syria, I could have bathed in them. I’m picturing him stomping around, frothing at the mouth.

Two things to pick up on here. The Jordan river is not a sparkling pristine little bubbling brook. It is a muddy river. Nothing fancy. But is it about the water, really? Is the water going to heal Naaman? No.

So Naaman is leaving. He’s done. But here come his servants. Remember I said servants play a pivotal role in this story? Parallel to be gleaned here? God can use anyone He wants. Can adults learn about God from children? Yes. Are we God’s servants? Yes. There are a lot of unnamed servants in this story who are in Heaven today…I can’t wait to meet them and hear the rest of this story!

But I digress. Naaman’s servants end up reasoning with their master. They point out to him that if God had asked something BIG of Naaman, Naaman would have done it. If he’d been told to do some “big tough guy thing” like slash his chest, walk on his knees on glass, make a sacrifice, etc. he would have obliged. But God was asking something simple. Wash and be clean. The servants implored him to “Do it and see if it works”.

Wash and be clean. Salvation is SIMPLE. We can’t do any great thing to earn or deserve it.

So Naaman agrees to give it a whirl. What do you think is going through his mind as he eases himself into the Jordan river and begins dipping? Do you think his pagan servants are on the banks of the Jordan holding in their laughter? Their great and mighty leader is doing something VERY BIZARRE here. I’m thinking Naaman’s own skepticism is increasing with each dip not revealing any improvement. Until the 7th time. He comes out of the water with skin like a child’s, it’s probably wrinkle free. If he’d lost any fingers to leprosy, they were regrown. This is a MIRACLE!

This was NOT the Jordan River that did this. This was NOT water that did this. This was COMPLETE obedience to God’s word and command–Naaman humbled himself and let go of his pride and self-righteousness and submitted to God’s authority, and he was a changed man afterward as we will soon see. But in case you didn’t pick up on this yet, that COMPLETE obedience was a reference to Naaman’s continuing to dip in the Jordan the full seven dips…Seven is the Biblical number of completion. Study it sometime, it’s pretty phenomenal.

So this changed man and his company of soldiers and servants heads back to Elisha’s dwelling, and THIS time, Elisha himself comes out to greet him. No one had ever healed leprosy before. Remember I said leprosy is a type of sin in the Bible? Interesting to note that God spent two whole chapters in Leviticus detailing how the priests were to deal with lepers, down to what to do with it if it was in the warp and weave of the clothing! The LONGEST passages in Leviticus are on leprosy! It’s worth repeating: Leprosy is an internal disease that manifests externally, it’s disgusting to look at, and comes with a stench. It’s highly contagious. Just like sin, it is debilitating, destructive and leads to death. Leprosy is incurable.

Naaman wants to thank Elisha with gifts, he refers to himself as a SERVANT! I’m telling you, Naaman is a changed man from the self-impressed guy that threw a hissy fit a little while ago. But get this, Elisha refuses to take anything from Naaman. Because this is a picture of salvation, and salvation cannot be bought or earned. You can’t put a price to what God gives freely. Very important. If you are sharing the gospel with someone, and they offer you money or gifts as a thank-you, you shouldn’t take it. It sends a mixed signal. Salvation should never be accompanied by a price tag. It’s not biblical.

In verse 17, Naaman gives allegiance to the God of Israel, and immediately we see his conscience begin working when he asks a peculiar question in verse 18. “In this thing the Lord pardon thy servant” (there he goes referring to himself as Elisha’s servant again!) Naaman is humble before Elisha. This guy’s had a life-changing experience here! Okay, so here’s his question:   

“In this thing the LORD pardon thy servant, [that] when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon: when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the LORD pardon thy servant in this thing.”

I love that new believer conscience kicking immediately in, don’t you? He’s already realizing that it will offend God if he, as custom of their country demands, accompanies his master, the King of Syria, into the house of Rimmon, a pagan deity. He may not understand everything about the God of the Israelites, as a new believer, but he’s on the right track here. He’s not worshiping Rimmon, he’s already said in verse 17, that he’ll not offer sacrifices or worship to any other God, but he has some things to figure out as far as correct theology goes. Elisha knows this.  And Elisha says, “Go in peace.”

I don’t know about you, but I wonder how many others came to believe in the God of Elisha as a result of Naaman’s cleansing? Can’t wait to hear the rest of the story…UP there…

Winter Fun for your Family

Today a new post of mine is up at Writer…Interrupted, called “Indoor Winter Fun For Your Children”. Check it out for details on some of our family’s favorite snow day activities for all ages.

With temps in the 20’s this past week, we’ve had a lot of indoor fun, breaking out the Sculpey polymer clay and making all sorts of oceanic creatures to fill our Apologia “ocean boxes” as recommended in our recently finished science book, Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day.

Every other year or so, we go scissor happy crafting delicate snowflakes, which we then use to decorate our windowpanes all winter. Usually we find inspiration at online sites such as Dave’s snowflake pages, which are incredible, but this year on a friend’s recommendation, I ordered Cindy Higham’s book, Snowflakes: Creative Paper Cutouts. My kiddos keep asking me when we’re going to have our “snowflake day”! The book hasn’t arrived yet, so I keep putting them off…

There are a couple of other ideas for those wintry afternoons when staying inside is just the best idea of all. I hope you go check it out, and in the meantime, share your favorite wintertime family activities in comments!

Blessings,

Mary

Playing Catch-up…

As our fallish weather turns wintry, I’m ever thankful for the factors that make my life so blessed. A sweet family to care for, a cozy home in the country, a hard-working husband, many special friends, and my God who is alive and well and working on us!

And time occasionally to update the blog. Sigh. I’m sorry my posts are so few and far between. Once November is behind us, I’m thinking there will be a little more time on my horizon. It’s been a good round of chaos, but balancing homeschooling with fall gardening, canning, and chicken processing parties, plus our normal day to day chores hasn’t left much time for writing or friends!

What’s new? I’m behind on connecting you all to my two latest articles for Writer…Interrupted, an ezine I submit to the second Thursday each month. In October, I was running behind on deadline so I slightly updated and republished an older post, one I’d originally written in 2007, called Sacrificial Moments in a Homeschool Fishing Booth. My November post is up today: Homeschooling, Homesteading and Living to Write About It. If you check them both out, you might be surprised at the difference in tone. The former is reflective of my early struggle with two passions: homeschooling and writing. The latter hopefully reveals the peace and joy God’s given me in this season of living my dream.

Sincere thank yous to all of you who have encouraged my writing here with your behind-the-scenes cheer. Wow, I appreciate you! I love being able to share what I’ve been studying with you. Not to mention that organizing my studies for the blog has etched them ever deeper in my own heart.

I pray that this scripture from Jeremiah envelopes you with the joy and peace and assurance that it does me…

Jeremiah 15:16, “ Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.”

Blessings,

Mary

 

The Homemaking Reward

Bedtime StoryBeing a stay-at-home wife and mom is the best job ever. Can’t beat the commute! *Smile*

I’m thankful for the gift of time to pursue my own interests and ideals–as well as my husband’s, to enjoy my husband and children, to find joy inMay God Bless This Home making my home into a sanctuary. Every second, minute and hour.

I adore leafing through home-improvement magazines, gleaning simple ideas for making our abode more cozy. Same thing with cookbooks. Collecting great tried-and-trues from friends and loved ones is a must for my recipe box. And for fun crafts, family games and great themed-room ideas, Family Fun is a favorite!

With homemaking, you’re never done learning. So many skills and talents to perfect~fantastic things~all in the name of advancing your “career”. My own interests include cooking and baking, sewing,  homeschooling, frugality, nutrition, canning and kitchen gardens. I look forward to learning more in these areas and also in the areas of homesteading, budgeting, organizing, landscaping, candle making…

Problem solving your own dilemmas is the best reward for your challenge ratio there is! Depending on the size of your dilemma, it’s also a pretty good way to grow in the faith. Relying on God’s provision, dh’s salary and being as creative as I can be when stretching our dollars has made me a better individual, emotionally and spiritually.

I’d much rather be furthering my husband’s career than someone else’s, and thank God my husband feels the same way.

Perhaps most important to my sense of satisfaction is having an appreciative husband. Appreciation. It’s so important. We wives don’t get raises, or incentive plans. We love you, we love our children, but we do sometimes wonder if anyone notices all we do when so much of it all needs done again after a few hours.

Little ways my husband shows his appreciation:

  • He thanks God for me and for the food I’ve prepared, in his mealtime prayers.
  • He rinses the bathtub out after a bath. Consideration is tantamount to appreciation.
  • He almost always thanks me when pulling on a clean white t-shirt, loving the smell of bleached laundry!
  • He makes a great fuss over dessert…it’s no wonder I’m always baking around here…
  • He hangs out with me in the kitchen, or herds the children off to give me quiet time.
  • He tells me he could never do what I do (bless his heart!)

Little ways to make your home a sanctuary:

  • Leave your Bible out on an end table, or in the middle of the kitchen table. Someplace within easy reach, and be stretched, comforted, and inspired!
  • Books, stacked or on shelves, whisper of leisureclockbooks1.jpg and simplicity, of intelligent pursuits.
  • Every home needs a pendulum clock. The tick-tocking layers a perception of peace with time well spent.
  • Skip the overhead lights. Instead welcome evening by lighting a couple of lamps. This exudes warmth and hospitality, and begs exhausted husbands to kick their feet up and relax.
  • Keep tea and hot chocolate nearby, always ready for an impromptu tea party.
  • On the back of your stove, simmer orange slices with cinnamon sticks and breathe deeply. Later on, add apple cider mix to it, and call the family around!
  • Keep your children’s library books in a basket by the couch and make read-aloud time a priority each day.
  • Create an outdoor living area. It can be on your deck, patio, a corner of your backyard, or in the middle of a small flower garden. Two yard chairs and a table, ta-da!French Doors

Now it’s your turn. What makes you feel appreciated? What does “cozy” look like to you? What home project currently engages you?

And to all my working mom friends, you are amazing! Please don’t be discouraged by my stay-at-home-mom ramblings. Hang in there…I know it’s tough to “do it all” and still feel sane. You’re in my prayers!

(originally posted in July 2007)

Labor Day Pizza

Labor Day is here, and with it, wide open windows and highs in the 70’s! And we’re LOVING it. After all, July’s never-ending line up of 105+ degree scorchers is still very much alive in my memory! Whew. Dare I hope fall is really arriving? Happy dance!

My little girls celebrated by digging out their jackets, and raking up a huge leaf pile. After about a hundred leaf-splattering dives they came inside for hot cocoa and marshmallows! Ahh…the rosy cheeks of fall!

There is something about billowing curtains and chill temps that fires up my creativity. That and my oldest daughter telling me that home-made bread was a must on this day. So out came the grain mill and the prairie gold wheat berries and my favorite pizza dough recipe, which doubles up nicely for rolls or buns, and we got to work. Pretty soon my younger girls were rolling out individual pizzas and adding their favorite toppings, and in the end, we had a delicious pizza lunch and since I doubled the dough recipe, we’ve also got buns for supper. We’ll cut them open, butter the insides and grill them on the griddle, then serve them with bacon and cheesy fried eggs! Mmm! Mine will have fresh basil leaves on it as well…are you hungry yet? *wink*

Here is our favorite pizza dough recipe, it’s easy, FAST, and a real joy to mold around in your hands…just add a little olive oil to your hands first, and fall in love!

Pizza Dough

  • 2 packages of yeast
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 5 cups flour (I use 100% whole wheat home ground flour, you can also use half whole wheat and white flours)
  • 4 TB olive oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  1. Dissolve yeast in warm water with 2 tsp sugar.
  2. Pour into a mixing bowl with remaining ingredients.
  3. Knead (I have a dough hook attachment to my mixer, that’s what I use, and it doesn’t take but 4-6 minutes of kneading for this recipe)
  4. Let rise in a greased bowl, in a warm place for 20-30 minutes.
  5. Punch down, and use for pizza crust, or let rise again another 20 minutes and make into rolls or buns.

Sometimes we make pizza pockets instead of pizza…those are fun. Roll out chunks of dough into circles, and fill half the circle with  your favorite pizza toppings: hamburger, onions, black olives, cheese, etc. NOTE: NO SAUCE! It will leak out the edges. Fold your circle of dough over and crimp edges to seal. Make a slit in the top for steam to escape and bake in a 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, and serve with sauce for dipping. We love these.

Happy Labor Day!

First Day of School Treasure Hunt Clues

On Thursday of this week, we’ll embark on our 9th annual Treasure Hunt to kick off the first day of school! Normally I come up with around 10-15 clues that rhyme…but that felt quite daunting with three girls, each having their own tailor made hunt to conquer…which would be a total of 30-45 little ditties. Whew. I love to write, but you’ve gotta draw the line somewhere!

This year I decided to utilize the greatest treasure of all as the trove of clues for my students…the KJV Bible. Each girl will get 12 of their own clues, which involve looking up a scripture reference, and zeroing in on something in the verse that has to do with the next clue’s hiding place. And the treasure at the very end? Why, this year’s new school books, readers, and supplies, of course! For weeks now, we’ve had mysterious packages arriving in the mail only to be whisked away by “mommy”, contents unknown…so many surprises, the girls can’t WAIT for the great “reveal”! Sometimes along the clue route, I’ll leave surprises. Could be a stick of gum, an eraser, a fun pencil…once it was an alarm clock!

So here’s what this year’s clues look like for my 11 year old…I put some clarifying notes in parentheses for your benefit, not hers!, kind of a teacher’s edition, if you will! *wink*

One last tip, each girls’ clues are color coded, so if they trip across someone else’s clue, they know to ignore it if it’s not “their” color. I try to do a mix of clues both indoors and out. One year we had all outdoor clues, and did it in the pouring rain! (Soggy clues lend a bit of difficulty to a treasure hunt!)

Treasure Hunt Clues 2011, for 11 year old daughter

First Clue: Matthew 7:17. What is this verse about? (trees) Go out the back door, and take a right. Follow the driveway to the first one in sight. (on ground by tree at bottom of driveway)

Second Clue: Zechariah 14:21, third word. Where do we keep ours? (Pots)

Third Clue: Acts 19:19, the eighth word in this verse rhymes with darts. Find the word, and find our stash of supplies. Remember, they are not where they used to be! (Arts drawer, we reorganized!)

Fourth Clue: Genesis 3:12. You want words number 13 and 16. Put them together and think small, dark red and sweet—what a treat! Go look here quick as a wink! (Bing Cherry Tree)

Fifth clue: Look up Exodus 37:17: Count the words, count 22, where these things are stacked, you’ll find your next clue! (Bowls)

Sixth clue: Psalm 18:28. Hm, we have several of these in the living room! Happy hunting! Hint!! It’s under and out of sight! (Under a living room candle)

Seventh clue:  Judges 5:14, fourth word from the end of the verse. We have some in a drawer. (“pens” in phone book drawer)

Eighth clue:  Genesis 2:8, seventh word. Go there. Look everywhere. You’ll find a clue by something red. (In garden, by tomato plant)

Ninth clue:  Leviticus 14:6. 5th word.  Where do we sometimes feed these pretties? (taped to hummingbird feeder)

Tenth clue:  Daniel 4:15, 4th word. We don’t have too many of these, but one big one for sure! (by big stump near hammock)

Eleventh clue: You are so close. Time for a cloozy.  Isaiah 10:14. “Gathereth”what, exactly? Hope the one you find is not oozy! (near an egg in chicken nesting box)

Twelfth clue: Ding! Ding! Ding! FINAL clue!!!  Three different verses contain three different words, put the three words together, in order, and go a-hunting for your treasure!  1. Proverbs 26:11, 3rd word. 2. Job 39:12, last word. 3. Psalm 118:22, last word. Put them together and follow the clue! (dog barn corner)

Well, that’s it folks. Hope your first day of school is a blast like ours!

Proverbs 2: 1-5,

1 My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; 2 So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; 3 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; 4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; 5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.

Remember, if you desire to tweak these for your homeschoolers, the words and their sequence found within the verses is tailored straight from the KJV Bible.

And MUMS the word, folks, till sometime Thursday! My 11 yo must not catch wind of this blog post!

Rejoicing in hope…Romans 12:12