Thursday, April 28, 2011

Rest Haven

Rest Haven is the name of the vacation spot provided for us.
  It truly is a haven of rest for us.

The day is ending with grateful hearts,
beautiful clear sky throwing sunshine on the still-amazing GRASS, 
and happily full tummies.

A sweet walk with my husband, 
a game of freeze tag with the children,
a visit with Auntie, my mom joining us, 
and the goodness of the Lord upon us have graced our day.

"My feet are dancing for joy,
and my heart singing to You,
to the King of Kings,
and the Lord of Lords, 
Giver of Life,
Giver of Strength, 
Giver of Joy"
The Josties- Crying the Blues

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Replying to Heather

My Dear Heather and friends,
The vacation is going nicely.  There is so much to say about traveling with small children, I really must give that thought some words one of these days, but as for the crock pot meals, they are working beautifully.  I did some figuring to day and believe that our normal method of eating at home works out to around $8 or $9.00 per dinner for the family.  Lunches and breakfasts are much cheaper.  So, our crock pot meal today of Sloppy Joes, buns, and packaged coleslaw is pretty close to a homemade budget, we brought our own burger and I think spent about $9.00 on the meal ingredients.  It literally took less than 10 minutes to put it together.  We ate on paper plates, and just had to toss the forks and cups into the dishwasher.  So nice!  If we had eaten out, the best we could do for the 10 of us, (John stayed home to work), is over $30.00 for a cheap meal at Taco Bell.

I made "Survival Bars" for our on the go breakfast.  I got this recipe, or something like it, from my uncle years ago, and use it for backpacking every year.  It worked great in the van for a non-messy meal.  We also had bananas to complete our breakfast. The bars are very dense and should be eaten with a full glass of water.  I cut them and wrapped them individually, then stored them in the frig.  We will definitely do that again!  Here is the recipe:
4 cups rolled oats
4 cups peanut butter
1, or is it 2? cups honey (try 1 if that doesn't stick right, add another) :-)
and 1 can of chocolate slim fast powder
mix ingredients well, press into baking pan, cut into bars, wrap and refrigerate.  I made 20 bars out of it, they are  probably 1 1/2 inches wide and 5 inches long, maybe a 1/4 inch thick.

 For our on-the-road lunch, we made (ahead of time), rolls with chopped ham and grated cheddar inside.  They are wonderful warm, but fine eaten cold.

Then for dinner I had a bag of 10 boneless chicken breasts, which I dumped into the crock pot, turned on high at lunchtime, and cooked until dinner.  I made a mayo-mustard mixture and put it into a squeeze bottle before the trip.  This I could squeeze onto the bun, add the meat, wrap in a paper towel,and call it dinner.  I am not sure of the cost of this, we got a deal on the breasts for buying a 40# case, but none the less, it sure beats fast food and it's prices.
The house where we are staying has lush green grass, and lots of it, which is unlike our muddy front "yard" at home.  The grass is delightful, and the children... actually all of us, are enthralled with sticking our bare toes in it.

These first few days before the conference are just for unwinding, relaxing and rest.  Brian, myself and the two littlest ones all had naps this afternoon. Oh the joy!!  Thank you for your questions about the food.  You know I adore food, and am happy to chat about the ways we have found work well for us. I do hope that this is helpful to you as well.
Blessings to each of you this wondrful day that the Lord has made:  Grace and Peace be upon you!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Cooking in a 15 passenger Van

The van is packed. 
The house is buzzing with the excitement of leaving in the morning. 
We are off to Seattle to the Christian Heritage Home School conference.  
This will be our third year. 
We are really looking forward to hearing Kevin Swanson, who is the main speaker this year. 
The girls are excited about being in the chorale again.  The chorale is always absolutely amazing.

Last year, we took our crock pot,
and cooked over night so that we would have a hot lunch the next day. 
This year we are taking it a step further. 
We are going to be cooking our meals while we travel.
  All we need is an inverter,  a deep cell battery and the crock pot.

  It took some time to come up with meals that would not be terribly messy to eat on the go, 
but this is what we're planning for our day of travel (It will take us about 7 hours):
For lunch we have prepared ham and cheese buns to be eaten cold along with various snacks. 
At lunchtime, I will start some chicken breasts in the crock pot. 
By dinner time, we can get out some buns, a prepared spread in a squeeze bottle,
and have hot chicken sandwiches. 
During the conference, we will again cook a roast all night for hot sandwiches in outdoor buns 
with pepperoncinis, hot mustard and pepper jack cheese-
these sandwiches are a family favorite. 
At lunchtime, I will put the dinner in to cook all afternoon. 
One evening we will have German Sausages, and the next night, Ham/vegetable bake. 
During our stay, we will also cook taco meat, Sloppy Joe's, and chicken and rice casserole.
  This is vacation, and I do want to rest, 
so I opted for things I could just toss in the pot and turn it on. 
Traveling with a large family can be burdensome on the budget,
and not all of us deal with fast food well, 
or want to take the time to find a healthful meal to sit down to,
therefore, the crock pot is the answer for us.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Evolution of a Nurturer

When Anna was a wee one, she clung to me, and me only. 
I remember cooking dinner with her in the front pack, 
canning and sweeping with her in the backpack,
and holding her nearly every waking minute, 
or else she would be "in the depths of despair." 
Looking back, I can see even from the earliest days the path I would take...

I had not grown up loving children, baby sitting,
or having any knowledge of childhood development. 
When Brian and I married, we wanted to have children right away,
and when our first was born, I knew not what to do, 
so I rocked him, 
danced him to sleep,
co-slept with him,
held him all the time, 
and spoiled him rotten.

Well, another baby came along, and another, and my methods didn't change. 
The baby would grow up on my hip, 
sleep with me until they were two, 
and, be delightful toddlers; very responsive and easily trained. 
About the time we had Jim, number 5,
I had evolved to believe my mothering style
as an over achiever nurturer
was not such a bad deal, 
and I liked the way my relationship with our children developed
from the first days on, to those who were then becoming teens.

A few years ago I came to the realization that this nurturing style,
that we had not conscientiously embarked upon, 
was God given,
and I stopped analyzing myself 
for not having babies that would sit in their car seat for hours contentedly, 
or sleep through the night, or passively watch life go by from their blanket.
  I also became aware that not only did I have the desire to nurture our children,
but a great compassion and sympathy came upon me as I watched children, 
of all ages, suffer loneliness from neglect,
and I wanted to bring them under my wing,
bestowing the love of Jesus on them thickly, 
like a child spreading butter and jam on toast...dripping off the sides, and oozing out all over. 
This desire surprised me, and  wondered where it had come from.
I think... the more I understand God's love for me 
the more I wish to mimic that loving-kindness upon children. 
I have changed. 
Evolved so slowly over time that I did not recognize myself. 

God made women to nurture, to uplift and beautify life.  

I was despairing over Bethany playing with a giant T-Rex of her brothers,
and packing a plastic lizard with her everywhere 
until I stopped to watch HOW she was playing. 
I noted that she had wrapped the T-Rex in a blankie and was singing it to sleep in the hallway,
and practicing nursing her lizard. 
It is natural, inborn.

The call to us mothers is to encourage our daughters to nurture and beautify. 
The world sets forth to harden a girl's heart and un-learn the God given. 
I recall being mocked for playing with dolls in the fourth grade.."childish!"
  My peers prompted me to instead be interested in boys.
 Watch out and be wise, O mothers. 

Is there anything sweeter than holding a newborn baby, 
or rocking a small child to sleep?
  "Reading a story aloud with children tucked in all around me," as a friend says,
is one of her great delights in life. 
Such fondnesses are the mark of biblical femininity. 
Let us shamelessly embrace it. 
May God give us grace that overflows our cup,
that we may model it,
passing on a love of nurturing to the next generation.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Feeding a Crowd

One of the things I love about small towns
is the loving care that pours forth at the death of a community member.
  On such occasions, the ladies bring their best salads for a dinner after the memorial service,
where the family and friends may gather. 

My grandma was famous for bringing her baked beans to funeral dinners. 
She did make great beans, and I would have loved to keep the tradition,
but that spot was already taken in our community,
so I looked for an original salad to feed a crowd. 
I wanted something special,
something that would not be duplicated, 
so I choose a bread and crab salad that a friend brought to a wedding years ago. 
I have never run across this kind of salad anywhere else.  
While putting it together this morning, I thought it would be a good recipe to share.
  It is not for the careful eater,
as it is scrumptuously loaded with fat.


2 loaves bread, cubed

3 cups butter, elted
12 hard boiled eggs, chopped
2 c. chopped onions
2 lbs. imitation crab
2 jars mayonaise
salt and pepper to taste
dash of tabasco
In a large bowl, pour butter over cubed bread.  Stir to coat.  Add eggs and onions. Stir well. Cover and chill overnight.
Mix in chopped crab and mayo.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and tabasco.
This makes a huge salad, and, there are NEVER any leftovers.  :-)

Grandma's Baked Beans

2 large cans baked beans, drained
1 small onion chopped
1 (14 oz.) can pineapple chunks
1/4 c. mustard
1/2 c. molasses
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. catsup
3 TBSP butter

Saute onions in butter.  Add to beans in a casserole dish.  Stir in pineapple with about half the juice.  Combine other ingredients and stir into bean mixture.  Bake at 325 about 2 hours.

People said these were the best beans around for miles. 
Grandma's faithful contributions to community gatherings has left an impression on me. 
She was a good neighbor, 
and I am sure much love and tears went into her pot of beans
as she prepared them for the grieving family.
  She didn't stop there though, 
often times, she was the very one who was caring for the ailing person before they passed. 
For years she was the one who organized the dinners. 
Her Christian care and concern went beyond a sympathy card
to being that hands and feet of Jesus to the hurting around her.  

She probably never thought she was leaving a legacy,
or making impressions on a freckled granddaughter. 
She just lived the way she thought she ought,
and in passing,
left big footprints to follow. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The rain is pouring down.
  I like it.
Dinner dishes washed. 
Candles lit. 
Fire crackling.
  Tea Kettle singing. 
  It all soothes me.

Feeding Olivia in the fireside rocker, gives me some needed quiet time,
margin in a busy day.
  With the older ones off to Bible Study, and the younger children playing upstairs,
the house is quiet at the moment, 
providing a reflective moment that has given way to thankfulness. 

I still,
after a year,
am amazed that this is our house. 
Our heavenly Father has been so generous and gracious in providing this home. 

Most recently, we were texturing and preparing to paint the second floor. 
Some friends had given us paint left over from their project last year.
Having no idea what color of tan it was, we opened it up last week and put it on the walls. 
As it dried, we just stared in amazement.
  It is an EXACT match to the carpet. 
We could not have picked better. 
Furthermore, the paint givers had no idea of our carpet or where we would use the paint. 
It is so incredible to see such examples of providential care over and over
as we have built this house. 
To think that the God of the universe would care about such details. 
Oh how He loves us..
all his children. 
Can you fathom how wide and long and high and deep?
  I think not, but we can try.

We can count our blessings every day 
and give thanks to the Lord for each single beauty that He sends our way.
this is our act of worshiping,
moment by moment, 
always seeing his hand in the good,
and recognizing it, acknowledging it, 
rejoicing over it.

As we do, the anxieties we carry melt away. 
We see first hand how trustworthy and good our Savior is. 
Indeed, I think possibly Gratitude is the underlying principle of sanity,
and therefore,
ingratitude is the underlying factor of insanity.
So, we bring sanity to our daily lives when we stop and recall how much God loves us, 
when we give him praise for all his wonderous acts.
the greater one lives in gratitude,
the greater the sense of fullness and satisfaction.

"I have loved you with an everlasting love."
Jer. 1:3

"Because your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips will praise you."
Ps 63:3

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us."
1 Jn. 3:1

"Give thanks to the Lord for He is good." 
Psalm 136:1

This quiet evening, I am thankful for the way that He loves,
for the sweet baby snuggled into my arms as I sit in the flickering candle light,
for tan paint,
for an adorable two year old who lights up every day,
for my precious husband- a rare gem he is,
and, for this amazing home that Providence built.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Idaho Spring

It's raining.
It's sunny!
It's raining, no, actually, it's snowing.
It's raining and sunny.
Now it's hailing.  
It's sunny!
It's snowing.

A spring day in Idaho

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Living Counter Cultural: Femininity

Popular culture has a decidedly feminist bent.  Recent movies, tv shows and prominent women  are displaying heroins as   to...