Monday, January 16, 2017

Pumpkin Spice Coffee Recipe

Are the holidays your favorite time of year, for all the yummy cinnamon-infused drinks we get to enjoy?
Why limit it to the holidays?
Did you know you can make your own pumpkin spice coffee at home?
I don't know the recipe for a large pot, but in my single-cup machine (no, it's not a Keurig... I'm not that much of an addict), you simply add 1/4 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice with the grounds, then once it's brewed, load on the cream and sugar. Or even better, sweetened condensed milk!
A friend also suggested adding a dab of vanilla extract to the grounds..... Mmmm.....
All the deliciousness, at a fraction of the cost. And I'm sure much healthier than the artificial flavors and preservatives in store-bought creamers and fast food/convenience store concoctions.
Enjoy!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Mock-amole

Maybe it should be "Mock Guac"? (It's so easy, I don't feel like it deserves the designation of "real" guacamole!)
Regardless, this recipe could be a game changer.
I have an unnatural love affair with avocados. Beyond guacamole, I will eat avocados with salt and pepper and a spoon.
But add tortilla chips and.......
I'm going to need a moment.
Last night when trying to decide what to fix for supper, we realized we had all the fixin's for nachos. Tortilla chips and nachos from New Year's Eve, shredded lettuce and tomatoes from New Years at Grandma's.
Then as we were setting everything on the table I realized - I have avocados! (At $1+ EACH, I rarely indulge, but they had been on sale for 88¢.). But it was time to eat - no time for veggie chopping. But nachos without guacamole?? Sacrilege.
The thought came: They make spice packets for guacamole. Can't I do that?
Just going with what I had, I grabbed minced onion, red pepper flakes, then added salt and pepper.
Nailed it.
Maybe not quite as delicious as finely chopped onions and cilantro, but when you're just in it for the avocados, this super-simple recipe is all you need.


Super Simple Guacamole
4 avocados, peeled and mashed
1 tsp dried minced onions
1/4 tsp dried red pepper flakes
1 tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper


Mash everything together in a small bowl. Give it a hefty shake-over of salt and pepper, adding more to suit your taste.
If you have the time to let it set, the flavors come out more, and the onions soften. I didn't notice crunchy bits, but I was also eating them with tortilla chips.


Enjoy!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Now That's a Pie!


This was our selection of Thanksgiving pies this year. No, it's not two mini pumpkin pies.... Those are two regular size (9") pumpkin pies. They look mini because that's a huge apple pie! It measures a full 13" across and has 6 pounds of apples in it! It takes a double double-crust recipe.
Now that's a pie!
We bought this pie dish 3 years ago. It's not actually a pie dish, but was marketed as a pasta bowl. Paul and I both love pie, and went on a search for such a thing after having several children and never having leftover pie to enjoy after family dinners. Larger pie = more slices = more to eat the next day.
We finally found it at the pottery shop at Silver Dollar City. I love it, and never have regretted the $30 purchase.
We shared this pie at family Thanksgiving with Paul's family. He took a piece of the leftovers in his lunchbox, and i had a piece for breakfast, and we still have a couple to enjoy for supper.
And THAT is why we wanted that pie plate!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Casting Out Idols

I am reading through the history of the kings of Israel in my daily [somewhat] quiet times. I try not to use devotionals or study books, because I get distracted by the opinions of others, from what God may want to say to me.
When the Israelites settled the land God had promised, they were told to destroy all the current residents already living there. This has always seemed a bit brutal to me, and to many others, I'm sure. But as I read on in the history, I see why God wanted those pagan nations destroyed. It would have made life easier on the Israelites!
God is the one true God, and He is serious about His people recognizing His authority. When the Israelites failed to drive out these pagan nations, not only did the people remain, but their religions remained also. Time after time, year after year, the Israelites repeated a circle of falling into worshiping idols, being punished by the one true God, repenting, having life go well, then falling back to their worship of these other gods, only to be punished...
As I read, I asked myself - Beyond the history, what is something I can learn from this narrative?
Because at first impression, the Israelites are idiots. Why don't they get it, that all of their problems are because they stop worshiping God alone?
But what about me? I may not have little stone idols on a shelf in my house, or altars built under the trees in our yard, but am I worshiping the one true God, and serving Him only?
I read a quote recently, and I can't remember it exactly, or who said it, but it went something like this: To any extent you aren't as excited and on fire for God as you were the day before, or the week before, you are a back-slider. (I think it was Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest.)
Well, I'm definitely a back-slider.
And that means, like the Israelites, I have begun "worshiping" idols, and allowing other things to become more important than God alone.
Now the task is, now that I recognize it, to identify those idols and cast them out. For the Israelites it was easy. Break up the idols; tear down the altars. For us, it's a lot harder. What if your idols are food, or the internet, or coffee, or a smart phone?
But I see now why God said to completely get rid of the other nations and their idols. When you keep the things you worship side by side with your relationship with God, unless you are capable of extreme self control and diligence (which I'm not), your relationship with God - reading His Word and the privilege of talking to Him - is going to get pushed aside by these "idols" that seem more exciting and more accessible and available, more instantly gratifying.
And that is why God's Word is "living and active" - it uses a historical account from 4000(?) years ago to speak to my heart today!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Life Rolls On

Life keeps on moving, whether I'm ready or not.
We're already on week 8 of school.  That's 1/4 of the way through the school year!  Where has time gone??  We did take a "spring break"  a couple weeks ago because I needed to do the spring cleaning that I had never gotten done.  Paul had taken the week off work, so we took the week off school to enjoy time together and get some things done.
Elsa is rolling over, trying to pull up and crawl, and just about ready to sit herself up.  She chows down the baby food like she may never get another meal.  She's almost 8 months old!
The weather has been ridiculous.  Now in November, we have only had one night cold enough to frost (which was 3 weeks ago), but only in patches.  Had the garden not drowned (again - twice in 2 months is too much to recover from), it would have been the most fantastic fall garden we've ever had.  This week has been in the 80s.
I was supposed to have my varicose veins repaired this year.  We started the process in May.  My doctor in Lawrence referred me to a doctor in KC, because the origin of my varicose veins seems to be in my pelvis (coming off my uterus), rather than in my legs.  Insurance is refusing to pay for the surgery to fix it. They say it doesn't work, so they won't pay for it - but they realize I may need the surgery, and I am more than welcome to pay for it myself!  (Ugh.  Don't even get me started.)  My doctor is appealing it (again), but now it's November, and still not a single thing has been done to fix my veins.
The big boys both had birthdays this fall.  Nathan is now 9, and Jacob 7.  Again - where has time gone??  They are both getting so tall and strong.  They're right on the edge of the responsible/irresponsible age.  I can usually trust them to get things done, but there are those days.....  (Gideon's birthday is next month, and the girls are in March and April.)
Anyhow.  Time to start the day, whether I'm ready or not. :)

Friday, September 2, 2016

High School Memories

I'm in the midst of another clean and purge....  I do declare, how is it I get rid of so much stuff and our house is still so cluttered??
This round brought me across a box of my old journals.  I've kept a journal since childhood.  Sporadically, for the most part, except in the midst of my teenage years.  I was pretty faithful to journal about all of the teenage angst and ecstasies I was experiencing.
So I have wasted a lot of time over the last two days, reading those old notebooks.  Some were fun, like the journal I kept when Paul and I started our relationship.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading my thoughts and emotions, and I was so happy to see that none of it has changed.  I still love him, and admire him, and am excited to be around him.  Who says those feelings don't last?  They have for us.  All I can say that God has blessed us.
But reading the journals from my teenage years were not so pleasant, because they brought back all of those emotions.  I'm sure all teenagers feel them.  The feelings of suffocating uncertainty, unrequited love, and the need to feel special to someone, but having no one interested.  And I do mean no one.
I was a confusing teenager, I'm sure.  On one hand, incredibly brash and outgoing, but when it came to other things, painfully shy and introverted.  Walking controversies.  Even within my journal entries - "He likes me!.... He can shove it."  Adding to the loud, feminist exterior, was the fact I was a good couple inches taller than most guys I knew, which made me a formidable female to approach, I'm sure.
Yet I had a deep desire to be special to someone.  And the fact that no one was interested, despite all my silly crushes, made me very familiar with the feelings of rejection and loneliness.
As I read through my journals, I could see God's hand guiding me toward the future He had prepared for me, even though I was totally unaware that my future was right by my side as I was living all of this.  (Paul has been in my life for nearly 30 years!)
The only boyfriend I had, I loved as much as a 17-year-old could.  But after 10 months together, I got the undeniable realization that God wanted me to break up with him.  I undoubtedly heard the silent yet audible voice of God in that matter, speaking right into my mind and heart.  I'm glad I was a sensitive teen when it came to spiritual matters, and I listened to Him.  There was no reason not to marry my high school boyfriend.  He was a really good guy from a nice family.  But that wasn't God's plan for me.
And it shattered my heart and confused me.  Why would God have me break up with him, only to face complete singleness (for 3 years)?  I know my self-worth is found in Christ, but I think women need to know that they are special and beautiful to a man. I had a need to be loved by a boy, but again, this  personality God gave me protected me.  I was too shy to go looking for love.
Even after I fell in love with Paul, he didn't return my emotions for almost two years.  And that was probably the deepest hurt I ever received.  I know now that God put that deep love in my heart for Paul, but during the time he didn't care the same way for me, and I couldn't make myself stop loving him, I was miserable.  I still get choked up remembering how I felt.  Even some movies that are supposed to be lighthearted teen movies remind me of that rejection, and the emotion I can still feel surprises me.
But I know the road God leads us down is for a reason.  I see that now.  And it makes me wonder how to protect our daughters from the same emotions.  I think it is somehow built into women to need to be someone's special person - Zadie already asks who she will marry - but heartbreak doesn't have to be part of the road to happily ever after.
Part of how I want to protect them - all of my kids, but especially my daughters - is from the boyfriend/girlfriend pressures that surround them, even as young as preschool.  (!)  I absolutely refuse to tease Zadie or let her be teased about the boys she plays with.  The result of having two older brothers means she is around a lot of boys.  And she is really good buddies with one of them, but it is so sweet and innocent.  They are both clueless.  And I want it to stay that way.  I don't want him to get teased about "his little girlfriend" and start being a jerk to her.  So I jump all over any of the kids that even hint at anything "lovey" between them.
So we start the journey with a new generation, and teach them from our failures and successes.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Time to Vacuum

When your baby rolls over, and her back looks like the top of an "everything" bagel, you know it's time to vacuum.


(The quote isn't original to me, it's something I saw on Facebook once. And am probably mis-quoting.)