Christianity Family Ties Marriage

The Way You Do

All Things Grow with LoveCrazy man of mine…last night I was tippy-toeing, standing on the bottom bunk, reaching up to hug our daughter good-night and before I know it, dh has me sitting on his shoulders and is waltzing me around the room! Scary, me almost 32 and him 35! All I have to say is, it’s a good thing we have 9 foot ceilings!

Then tonight, on the way home from town, we sang Lean On Me and The Way You Do The Things You Do and many other oldies to a tape he made me when we were dating…

He’s so much fun. I’m so glad I married me a laid-back one. Debi Pearl would label him a Mr. Steady. He’s my broom, as I tell our girls, ’cause, of course, as the song says, he swept me off my feet.

On two instances this weekend, I was in conversations in which the wives were sharing how upset their husbands got when asked to do anything. I think we all could find something to share when conversations take these turns…but to what end? Talking about it, only feeds the negativity, the discontentment. And for each of these “so-called” negative attributes, there’s often the flip side to our spouse that is pretty dandy if you ask me. Take my dh’s laid-back personality. Things don’t bother him. (Believe me, this can be a good or bad quality!)

Anyway, I came home after those chats, thinking about how wonderful my husband is. Yes, he’s got his faults (don’t we all?), but 14 years with him as well as observing other marital relationships, have taught me that happiness isn’t about perfect yards, and pristine properties. Nor is it about dwelling on the various truck skeletons we have decorating the premises, or the falling down barn we have yet to finish salvaging.

It’s the knowing that between you, your spouse and God, things are covered. There’s trust, respect, love, and a little bit of fun to keep things sweet. No. Matter. What.

The Best and Most Beautiful Things - Helen Keller

Cooking and Food Family Ties

Aluminum Foil Camping Treats

My mom found some really fun aluminum foil related camp-cooking sites, and I thought I’d share a few ideas here… one of the sites proclaimed aluminum foil as the outdoorsman’s “kitchen in a pocket”! The same site reminds that lining pots and pans with foil when camping makes for easy clean-up! For a list of cooking times for the various “packets” of foods, check out FUNdamentals of Camping.

At Suite 101, a Family Travel article had several great ideas, one I really liked was taking many choices bagged up individually in Ziplocks and letting your children put together their own “meal in a packet”. You could have baggies with potatoes, carrots, onions, browned meat, apples, peaches, sugar, granola, butter…just remember to use non-stick foil, or spray it before hand with cooking spray.

Mmm, an excellent article on “how-to roast potatoes in foil”

For roasted corn on the cob and a Hillbilly Breakfast recipe go here

And here for a great site and some incredible sounding camp breakfasts

And best of all, a wonderful resource with a list of pre-trip must-haves, recipes, plus many other links to sites of this particular interest, go visit The Camping Source’s Outdoor Cooking Tip’s page.

And remember:

  • When cooking directly in the campfire coals, place a second layer of foil around the packet to protect from puncture holes allowing dirt in or steam out!
  • Turn packets with long tongs halfway through cooking.
  • Be careful for escaping steam when opening packets

And yes, I know the dangers of cooking with aluminum foil (that it probably causes cancer and Alzheimer’s) but using it in excess this once hopefully won’t kill us off…

Cooking and Food Family Ties

Going On A Camping Trip…

CampingYep, that’s me in the picture at the right there. Me before marriage, that is. You see, I married an outdoors man. And I adjusted. I’ve learned to not focus so much on the mosquitoes and lack of facilities as much as on the breathtaking scenery and that nothing tastes so good as food fixed over a cozy campfire…

Suffice it to say: I want a chuck box! I’d love to have a sturdy wooden box that holds everything we need for a spur of the moment campfire experience. An outdoor kitchen in a nutshell. The box would hold my cooking things and double as a work surface for chopping and assembling foil packets among other things. Don’t worry, I’d make dh use something else to filet fish on…

Here are some of the things I’d keep in it:

  • cast-iron skillet or dutch oven (I have neither, but will borrow one for this trip) and plastic scraper to clean it with
  • potholders/oven mitts
  • matches
  • grill grate
  • sharp knife and cutting board
  • long handled slotted spoon and/or ladle
  • long handled tongs
  • can-opener
  • mixing bowl
  • seasonings
  • aluminum foil
  • garbage bags
  • dish towels, washcloths
  • tablecloth or old quilt
  • paper goods: towels, napkins, plates, utensils, cups

With our upcoming camping trip in the Black Hills of South Dakota (doesn’t that sound more romantic than we-have-to-save-money-by-camping-because-gas-is-so-high), I’m plotting fix-ahead meals and ways to make the whole experience a blast for my family. We’ve only a small tent, hey we bought it as honeymooners, and our Chevy Suburban, but a whole lotta love to go around.

So…what do you all like to grill when camping? I’m taking ingredients for S’mores (of course!) and scrubbed potatoes/ carrots/onions/butter/seasonings for my foil-wrapped side dishes. I’ll probably cook up a beef stew and freeze it then thaw and cook it in a dutch oven or cast-iron skillet on the grill. My friend Jana suggested I brown some ground beef ahead of time to use in tacos…Coffee Pot Steaming over a Campfire

Any breakfast ideas?

Please share your tips! And as I use them, I’ll remember you fondly in between 3-4 nights of biting bugs and pine trees and gurbling streams…


Moving Tips

A good friend is packing up this week, and I wanted to devote a post to this huge job that so overwhelmed me 9 years ago when DH and I made our first move. Like my friend, I was pregnant, 7 months along. We survived.

She’s probably already done most of this, but I took bits and pieces of advice from places online and compiled it all here. Some of it we did ourselves, some of it I wish I’d thought of doing!

  • Purchase moving supplies: tape, markers, scissors, pocketknife, newspaper, blankets, moving pads, plastic storage bins, rope and a moving dolly. Free boxes can usually be obtained at a local supermarket. Suitcases and storage bins should be utilized.
  • Keep a detailed record of all moving expenses. Your costs may be tax deductible depending on the reasons for your move.
  • Have tools handy for breaking down beds and appliances.
  • Wrap toaster and other small appliances in inkless newsprint (end rolls are usually free from newspaper offices).
  • Wrap dishes with the same and/or your kitchen towels.
  • Stuff your washer and dryer with rolled clothing, towels, sheets, etc. Not heavy items.
  • Waste baskets and trash cans can also be packed full.
  • Keep things together. Have small baggies and tape handy to keep picture hooks with pictures, screws and bedframe legs with the frames, etc.
  • Designate a color for each room in the new home, such as yellow for kitchen, blue for dining room, etc. Apply colored stickers on the box. In your new home, put a matching sticker on the door to each room. The movers will know where to put everything when they arrive. It’s also helpful to post a big sign on the wall in the room where you want boxes stacked, (“Boxes here please”) to keep them out of furniture and traffic areas.
  • Create an “Open First” box with all the things you need upon arrival (medications, toiletries, linens, first aid kit, garbage bags, phone, light bulbs, flashlight, phone books, towels, food for pets, a leash, etc.) Make sure it is the last item packed so it will be easy to retrieve. Also make sure that tools are handy for reassembling beds and other items.
  • If you must clean your old place after moving out, put together a kit of basic cleaning supplies and rags. Clean anything possible ahead of time (the inside of kitchen cupboards, the oven, windows, etc.), and if possible, vacuum each room as movers empty it.

And once you’ve arrived:

  • Let the local post office know
  • Create an emergency phone list for your new community and post it on the fridge
  • Change batteries in smoke detectors, plan fire escapes
  • Think about changing the house locks
  • Register to vote

Last but not least, keep in touch with the friends you left behind…

And in the words of Dr. Suess,

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”


David and Goliath

We have a children’s story time during our morning worship service, and every eight or so weeks, my rotation comes around. Dh suggested I share with the children along the lines of the fabulous David and Goliath story…and so I did.

I love setting the scene for Bible stories. This one is such fun, showing the children just how tall Goliath was (9 feet) with a yardstick, and that he had 6 fingers on each hand and 6 toes on each foot…and best of all, the real reason that David chose 5 stones…

But in my quest online for fun details on the “setting”, I came across a great analogy of this favorite story at

I Spoke To The Prophets, Gave Them Many Visions And Told Parables Through Them

Several times in Scripture, the Lord informs us of the value of these stories from Israel’s history (Hosea 12:10, Rom 15:4 & 1 Cor 10:11). We’re to learn the lessons they contain, not just repeat them as historical accounts, because they were orchestrated in such a way as to reveal truths about God, and none more so than the story of David and Goliath.

If you see the story as a parable on spiritual warfare, you’ll gain some remarkable additional insight. The word parable means to “lay along side” so we’re not discarding the historical validity of the account, just gaining another level of understanding. The main characters in Biblical parables always represent someone or something else, so try seeing Goliath and the Philistines as Satan and his demonic host, Saul and the Israelites as man in the flesh, and David as man in the Spirit. For 40 days Saul and his army were intimidated and paralyzed by the defiant words of Goliath, just as in the flesh man is intimidated and paralyzed by the power of Satan. 40 is the Biblical number of testing and shows that man in the flesh will always fail his test with the enemy. And as David discovered, not even the king’s own armor, the best man could fashion, was suitable protection but instead further encumbered and immobilized him (1 Sam 17:38-39). Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephe 6:12). For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary they have divine power to demolish strongholds (2 Cor 10:3-4). Wearing Saul’s armor, David was an awkward and ineffective boy, but armed in the strength of the Lord he was more that a match for the giant Goliath (1 Sam 17:45-47). “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says the Lord Almighty (Zech 4:6).

As for why David chose 5 stones…did you realize that Goliath’s father had 5 sons? All giants. That’s right. David wasn’t worried about needing more than one shot at the big bad bully.

David showed forethought in preparing to kill not only Goliath, but the giant’s brothers should they come out to avenge their brother’s death.

How’s that for a best-selling children’s story?



Home Mega Cooking


“Hospitality is so much more than entertaining. To me, it means organizing my life in such a way that there’s always room for one more, always an extra place at the table or an extra pillow and blanket, always a welcome for those who need a listening ear. It means setting aside time for planned fellowship and setting aside lesser priorities for impromptu teas and gatherings.” ~Emilie Barnes

My favorite memory of impromptu hospitality was the day I introduced myself to another homeschooling mom while at the library. We struck up a conversation. Neither of us wanted it to end, and she invited me and my girls to her home for grilled cheese and chicken soup. It was the most lovely time.

Beautiful Home on a Budget (co-written with Yoli Brogger) and More Hours in My Day are my favorites written by Emilie Barnes. She has brilliant suggestions for simplifyCozy Cabining hospitality, so that it’s less about “impressing” others and more about being 100% there for your company at the appearance of each unexpected guest. I loved her suggestions of keeping certain things on hand all the time, cookies or casseroles in the freezer–ready to pull out at a moment’s notice…and the book on decorating is one every homemaker should own!

How about going for an impromptu moment of hospitality this coming week? Stop by a friend’s and insist she come out with you for Dairy Queen or Starbucks. Invite your nieces over for a tea party this afternoon.

Any other ideas?

Cooking and Food

The Past Day and a Half

Three days ago I decided to quit coffee (really, for me, cappuccino). Quit it cold turkey, except for the tiny amounts contained in the green tea I’m using as its replacemencupotea.jpgt. Perhaps one of these days it will taste good to me. I can hope. So far I’ve been dealing without it fairly well, though today I’ve had a lingering headachey weight on my head.

I’m quitting because I’ve noticed in the last six months that when I miss my morning cup and have a particularly long day, I most always get a migraine that evening. Not worth it.

Yesterday some of you noticed that my blog was Poof! Gone. I’d uploaded a database backup plug-in and activated it without realizing I already had one similar already activated. (I never claimed to be techno-savvy). Thankfully MInTheGap fixed my blog and told me what to do the next time this happens. (Sigh. He has little faith in me. Oh well. I’m just glad he wasn’t on vacation and could “save the blog”!)

Yesterday was our last day of homeschool. We celebrated with ice cream cones and hurrahs all around. Today the girls were crafting and playing like crazy…a pretty good indicator of how the rest of summer will play out!

I smoked 5 briskets today, half of what I’m preparing for the lunch we’ll feed the out of town guests coming for my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary in June. I’ll keep it in the freezer till the day or two before. Our menu that day will include brisket, turkey, ham, buns to put the meat on, potato salad, veggies/chips/dips, and a really big bowl of grapes. We plan on having cookies set out all day along with coffee, since this is kind of a semi-reunion as well as an anniversary celebration! The reception will be at 2 P.M. with the usual cake, punch, nuts, mints, etc.

I’m really excited to get to see my big brother and his family of 8 who will be coming over from the West Coast. He’s a famous radio talk show host, and the best big brother ever!

Lastly, today was my day to post at Writer…Interrupted. If you want to read it, it’s titled: Weaving Through the Setbacks .

How are all of you?


Vintage Home

Good Housekeeping, July, 1918When it comes to home decor, I love the charm of yester-year. Not a bunch of cluttered antiques, but little hints here and there in the form of baskets, quilts, candles, enamelware (see my spooner in the header pic of this blog), and old-timey art such as the Good Housekeeping cover art pictured in this post.

Good Housekeeping, November, 1931One of my favorite free catalogs is The Country House. I love their wooden signs and wreaths…that homespun appeal. For more inspiring retro content (including recipes), be sure to visit Petticoat Lane, one of Amy’s blogs.Good Housekeeping, September 1926

And if you want to browse dozens of early Good Housekeeping covers be sure to visit…and do a search. There’s something for every room…from the nursery to the laundry room…and if you order today, you get 25% off!

So fess up, what, if anything, says “vintage” in your home?

Family Ties

Summertime Plans

I’m feeling the swelling of freedom that summertime possesses…it’s welling up in me, bringing a smile to mySummer Day, Children on the Banks of the Tweed, 1907 heart. How about you?

Last night I went out to eat with two friends from church at this wonderful little Mexican restaurant. We enjoyed authentic fare and great conversation! One last hurrah before one of the friends moves away…afterwards we went to her homey apartment and she blessed me with files upon files of great educational materials leftover from her teaching days! And also some home-grown lettuce…how pretty it was furling up over the numerous pots on her small balcony…we had it with lunch today! (Thanks, Andrea!)

We’ll finish up our homeschooling next Friday, feeling good about this past year’s accomplishments. Moving on to bigger things: my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary in early June (which means lots of family visiting!), a trip to South Dakota for my niece’s wedding the following weekend, VBS and 4H fair in July, and I’m going to be teaching a fabulous curriculum for the toddler summer Sunday School program at our church! Then there are plenty of other little things on the list to keep us busy as well. Like the deck, if we can figure out a way to budget in the remaining lumber we need to finish it up!

What does the summer of 2007 hold for you?

Cooking and Food

Peaches and Cream Pie

This is probably one of our top five favorite desserts. I made it for a potluck last night, and I’m making it again on Monday for a luncheon here with a friend. Recently I found the exact same recipe at Deborah Raney’s website, only she calls it “Wren’s Peaches-and-Cream Cheesecake” (featured in her latest book Remember to Forget) and puts orange juice in the cream cheese mixture instead of peach juice! I rushed to try this substitution and loved it! Be sure to check out Deb’s variations.

Peaches and Cream Pie

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 package dry Cook and Serve Vanilla Pudding mix (not instant!)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 large can sliced peaches (drain and save 3 TB of juice)



  • 3 TB peach juice
  • 8 oz cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup sugar



  • 1 TB sugar mixed with 1/2 tsp cinnamon


Mix first seven ingredients with mixer (well). Pour into a ten-inch pie plate. Mix 3 TB juice, cream cheese and sugar in small mixing bowl. Spread cream cheese mixture over peaches to 1″ of the edge of pie plate. Mix 1 TB sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the top of pie.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 35-40 minutes. (My oven takes 45 minutes to get this nicely browned). Cool and chill.

This recipe can be doubled and put in a 9×13″ dish, but make sure the center gets done!