Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sunday Afternoon Tea - My Annual Holiday Reminder

Winter Scene
I have been re-posting this the Sunday just before or after Thanksgiving for a lot of years. It has been one of your favorites... and mine.  When I wrote this post for the first time, my son was still living at home.  So my Christmas list has been tweaked through the years to represent our current Season.  When I began making the list, it included a lot more in the way of "going places".  Now it much quieter.  But still good...


I remember coming to the end of a Christmas season about ten or twelve years ago and wondering at my frustration.

There were no severe money trials that season, nothing that should have kept me from enjoying Christmas but... I couldn't put my finger on it... there was this sense of a lack of satisfaction... an unsettled feeling.

Soon after that, I was reading an article (magazine... book?) about this very thing. In it, the author said she learned to write out what it was she wanted from the Christmas season, what was most important to her. When I started doing that, I realized why the previous season had been lacking in joy.

It had been a rushed Christmas, the "doing" of many activities I felt I should do and not "being" the person I wanted to be that Season. My frustrations stemmed from a lack of getting away, alone beside my Christmas tree, enjoying that which comes from prayer and study and reading of books. I also had not said "no" to some outside activities that did not bring peace and joy.

Since that time, I have enjoyed making a list each season. My list has changed since that time due to health and finances but only in the "big" things. My list back then included attending a Christmas concert that I loved each year.  However, it became too expensive even when we did have a regular income. It wasn't that much of a priority that I'd spend more for tickets to a concert then I would on a week's worth of groceries.

Another item on my list that has gone by the wayside is hosting a big Christmas party. I loved decorating the house and having a lot of people over but that season is now behind me. 
I remember one very magic (Narnia magic) party in our former house when we invited over Stephanie's college group. There was a tree in the family room and one in the living room, a fire was burning in the fire place, food placed in various areas, conversations were going on in many rooms of the house.

Later that night, as the young people were leaving, one student came up to tell me that night will be one of his "perfect Christmas memories" when he leaves college. It is one of my perfect memories, too.

I have found by making a list of those things I love about Christmas, I can make certain what means the most to me (and for my family) becomes a priority for time and money. Here are a few for this year, written out on paper before transferring to my scrapbook journal. Of course, I can't do them all but any of them on the "wish list" would make my season bright.
  • Decorating the house with my beloved Christmas items.
  • Decorating with my snowmen collection.
  • Carefully placing all my ornaments on the tree
  • Morning quiet times in the dark, with the tree lit
  • A breakfast out at Cracker Barrel during the Holidays
  • Holiday Baking
  • Candy Cane Lane tea
  • Hot apple cider
  • Listening to the music of the season
  • Watching favorite Christmas movies
  • Reading favorite Christmas books
  • Seeing what yummies The Food Channel comes up with this year
  • Listening to concerts on PBS
  • One or two (or more) Pumpkin Spice Latte's to enjoy
  • A morning at Panera sipping coffee and writing a real letter
  • Sending Christmas cards to our elderly aunties
  • Visiting my favorite "downtown" primitive country store... breath in the scents, no purchase necessary (it has closed but there is another one I will visit this year that is similar).
Most of my list in recent years involves more solitude than in the past and none require very much money.  This is only a way of thinking through what brings joy... and peace... and faith... and what lifts my thoughts to the One Who Made Me.

Little satisfactions can come in this... the most wondrous and magical time of the year.

I encourage you to brew a little pot of tea and fill your favorite tea cup, bring along a notebook and pen, light the Christmas tree if you have one, and think about those things that bring joy to your heart at Christmas. Are you making time for them? Did you budget for them through the year? What makes your heart sing with gladness?

You don't need to do them all, just choose a few that will cause you to look back at this Christmas and smile... and remember, Christmas is not about the price of gifts or how many are given, Christmas is about the Giver of all gifts.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Heritage recipes

Ready for Thanksgiving last year.

I love the Holiday that is Thanksgiving.  I love the food and the fact that it is a Holiday about giving thanks and that there is Someone to whom we give thanks.  If I could change one thing, I would celebrate it at the same time as our Canadian neighbors when Autumn is in full color.  But we take what we get... this Thanksgiving there is snow in the forecast.

Preparations have already begun as my turkey has been in a large casserole dish (defrosting in the frig) since Wednesday evening.  I like to give it a good week to be fully defrosted.  It is, of course... the star of the show.  Unless you are a vegetarian.  ;)

If you have read this blog for long, you will know I have waxed poetic in the past about creating memories for our families and friends.  And Thanksgiving is one of those times when the aroma coming from the kitchen and the tastes at the table come together more than (to me) any other time of the year.

I was sharing with a friend recently how each year when I pull the large skillet out and begin slowly sauteing butter and celery and onions together, I always think of my mother.  It is the aroma of Thanksgiving morning, especially when the crumbled sage joins the party.  I wonder if there is a candle with that fragrance?

Slowly I've been putting together some favorite recipes to print and assemble for my family.   I will include the Heritage recipes of both my mother and mother-in-law, even if the younger generation cooks a little differently than their Southern and Midwestern grandmothers did.  They are an essential part of our family's history.

This year, as you are preparing the feast or partaking of it... take time to write down the Heritage recipes.  You will be glad you did.  Although I know there are blog friends who have already prepared, printed out, and have bound their collection!

Here is the way my mother prepared her dressing, although she doubled the recipe to make two 9 x 13 dishes.  That way those who did not want oysters added would still be happy.  This recipe is oyster-less.  ;)


My Mom's Thanksgiving dressing recipe almost as it appears on my "recipe blog":

Mamaw's Dressing Recipe
Dry one large loaf white bread* (or a loaf of white bread and a loaf of cheap whole wheat bread) overnight. When dry, break up into a big bowl.  (Sometimes I tear the bread up first and leave them in my very large bowl for as much as a few days.)

In large skillet, melt two sticks of butter. Add one chopped onion and a few stocks of celery, sliced. Slowly cook just until veggies are soft.  Do not overcook.

Pour everything into a large bowl. Whisk one egg and pour into bowl or mix egg into broth below and pour in together.

Mush all together along with 1 to 2 T. poultry seasoning. Add salt, and pepper (to taste).

Pour in just enough broth to make moist. (I end up using about 2 cups.)  This is a time you can use store bought chicken or turkey broth to make it easier without anyone really noticing.  I have used both store bought and homemade turkey broth.

Place into 9 x 12" buttered dish. Bake until brown, about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Wash Hands!!!

*I once decided to go "uptown" and make a nice, rich homemade bread for this recipe.  It didn't taste right at all!  I buy the cheapest large loaf of white bread I can find just like Mom did now.  Sometimes, as shown above, I use a regular size loaf of white bread and a regular size loaf of cheap whole wheat bread (not the heavy duty chewy kind!).

Thursday, November 20, 2014

My World this Week

I moved my button collection from a vintage tin to this pretty glass jar I had tucked away to "use someday".
Like so much of the United States and Canada, we have been freezing our giblets!  It has been around 30 degrees below normal for awhile now.  You can tell this sudden burst of Winter took us by surprise as our deck furniture is still out.

So for the most part, I've stayed inside except the icy trek to the end of the gravel lane to get the mail.  I've been cutting through my neighbor's yard where there is only snow until the sun finally melted the ice off the gravel.

Christopher took a comp day from work yesterday to rest and work on an app he is developing for his church.  He is feeling better but has not completely regained his health so I'm glad he took a day off. He offered to buy my lunch so I stopped by his house and we went to a favorite diner off of the highway.  I forget at times how much I love talking to my kids.  :)

So... here is what has been happening in my world recently.

Reading

My review of Fierce Convictions can be found... here.*  I thought it quite remarkable.  Oh, I was asked if it would be offensive to Catholics?  Not at all, Hannah More (a member of the Church of England but also Evangelical) was one of the few people at the time who was friends with both Catholics and Protestants.  There was a lot of animosity in England between these two, if you have studied history!

I purchased Summer Wine Country with Amazon credit (thank you!).  It is quite inexpensive, although most copies come from the UK.  It is a must have book for fans of Last of the Summer Wine with gorgeous photos of that part of England.  It also contains short exerpts from Cleggy's letters (written by his alter ego, Roy Clarke) to his Polish pen pal.  ;)  Info... here.*


I got out one of my all time very favorite cookbooks, again.  Homemade by Clodaugh McKenna.  You may have seen her Irish cooking/travel program on PBS.  Info... here.*

Morning Sunlight




Memories
A favorite Christmas photo that hangs in the "Hall Gallery".
So many commented on how nice it was to see photos of the family when they were much younger, I am including another favorite.  Long time readers will know that, yes... my children are twelve years apart.  God's timing, not ours!

Her Fluffiness
You may remember how she loves nature shows, especially about birds!

*All links to Amazon.com are Associate links.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Review: Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More: Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist


I enjoyed this biography very much.  I knew the work was based on a graduate thesis by the author so I wasn't certain how easy it would be to read.  But my concerns were unfounded for while packing the book with a lot of detail and information, it read (to me) like a novel. 

As stated in the forward by Eric Metaxas, one wonders how no one knows about the importance of Hannah More in the history of England.  He first came to know her while researching her close friend, William Wilberforce.  When he met Karen Swallow Prior and found out about her research on Hannah More, he encouraged her to turn it into a book.

Hannah worked closely with William Wilberforce in the abolition movement in England and was a friend of John Newton.  But she was also a woman of literary talent with writing plays, poetry, nonfiction books, and a well known novel.  Among her close friends were Samuel Johnson and various British aristocracy.  Which is quite unusual for a person born into a lower class who became part of the new middle class of England... not to mention a woman.

After reading this book, I find I know so much more about 18th Century England prior to the Victorian era.  This was the era influenced earlier by John and Charles Wesley, Whitefield, and other early Evangelicals.  All of whom were in a battle for the soul of England with the Church of England and the ousted Catholic Church.

I learned a lot from reading this book, not all historical facts and stories.  You cannot read it without coming away with the knowledge of how God can use individual people whom He has gifted to do amazing things for Him. 

At the same time, in reading More's biography, you understand (or perhaps not) how someone who influenced a nation so much as Hannah More can be lost to the history books due to the pettiness of others.  It was certainly not a good time to be a middle class bright Christian woman.

I highly recommend this biography!  You can find it on Amazon... here.*

*This link is an Associate's link to Amazon.com.  Should you make a purchase, I receive a small percentage of the sale and it cost you nothing.  Thank you.  :)

While this book was provided by the publisher for the purpose of review, all opinions are my own.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sunday Afternoon Tea - The battle against being depressed this time of year

Placed high to keep the plant from Victoria's teeth... I'm loving the greenery in the kitchen!
"...To bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, 
the oil of joy instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair..."
Isaiah 61: 3a NIV 

Every once in awhile as Autumn becomes Winter... and it is making the change earlier than usual this year... I have to fight the good battle of depression vs. joy.  Everyone goes through this, some more than others this time of year as we are on the cusp of the Holiday season.

If a Christian denies ever being depressed, I would look at them in disbelief.  If nothing else, they are fooling themselves.  For one cannot go through life without that garment of darkness coming on them.

Quite often I know why I feel darkness surrounding me.  I can point to the ground zero of circumstances.  Then there are days when darkness is nudging at me and I haven't a clue as to why I feel down, edgy, fearful... depressed.

It could be nothing urgent at all, just the fact that it is 5:00 PM and dark out the kitchen window.  Sometimes there was a reminder of "something" which brought sadness in the past and my current mood brings it all back.

There are even days when I never quite figure out the whys of being depressed, it just appears as a cloak over my shoulders.  And I'm pretty much a sanguine person.

Being depressed, getting depressed, feeling "down in the dumps"... they never mean we are not committed to Christ!

Do you remember when precious Mother Teresa passed away and the truth came out that she quite often dealt with heavy periods of depression, those "Dark Nights of the Soul"?  The secular press had a field day with the announcement for surely if this saint of a woman walked in darkness, how could there be a God?

But that truth had a far different outcome with me, and I believe many other people of Faith.  It showed us she was a human who felt deeply about the suffering going on around her.  I would have been more skeptical of her if she did not deal with depression in the midst of the world's great suffering where she ministered.

We knew God met her in her weakness and He became her strength.  He can do the same thing... and will do the same thing... for me and for you and for all of those who have accepted Jesus as our Savior.  The Holy Spirit lives within us and His strength shines in our weakness.

That cloak of depression is particularly easy to come upon us during the Holidays for that is when a magnified light is shown on the wounds of our life; the gift no longer received, the job that was lost, that the family now lives far away, the children are grown and at their in-laws house, the absence of longed for children around the tree, the empty space at the table.

Since I am by nature not one who likes being depressed (while the Puddleglums in my life do it so well), I do what I can to throw off the cloak of despair.  Does it work?  Usually.  It depends on the circumstances surrounding me at the time.  Some situations have been so deeply dark that I do well by just holding on.

But most of the time, when the trials are the "little foxes" nipping at my ankles reminding me we live in a fallen world... during those most common of days... I have found ways to free myself from doldrums that don't cost much or anything at all.
  1. Reading the Word, especially Psalms.
  2. Listening to music that inspires and draws me nearer Christ.
  3. Listening to music that is just plain wonderful like John Denver.
  4. Listening to Christmas music; the good, the silly, the saintly, the sappy.
  5. Reading great books.
  6. Treating myself to a cup of very good coffee... or tea... or apple cider.
  7. Surrounding myself with real plants.
  8. Watching sappy Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel.
  9. Watching favorite movies on DVDs.
  10. Tying on an apron and baking to Christmas music.
  11. Giving life by Creating: food, scrapbook journals, needlework, etc.
  12. Lighting scented candles.
  13. Writing or texting someone I love.
  14. Talking to God throughout the day.
  15. Listening for a reply.
So it comes down to this.  More likely than not you will experience a moment of depression these next oh... six or seven weeks.  But that will be normal.  What is not... and what as a Christian you should wrestle against... is letting darkness overtake you.

We still live in a fallen world, in the midst of an epic universal battle between Good and evil.  I think perhaps the enemy of our soul absolutely hates Christmas.  So his minions work overtime to remind of us of everything that would bring upon us a cloak of depression.

Put on some music (I don't think they like Handel's Messiah, either), light safely placed candles (a reminder to those of us with cats!), and do something that brings you joy.  Whatever you do... don't do nothing at all.  Fight the good fight of faith... and nibble on a piece of really good chocolate.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Pantry Lifestyle - Easy gourmet chocolate dipped apples


I love gourmet chocolate dipped apples so I tried making my own "from scratch" quite a few years ago.  Ugh!  No wonder they cost so much at the store, it is not only the cost of ingredients but they are so labor intensive when you make everything yourself.  Well, God makes the apples but you know what I mean...

So in my usual "let's break this recipe down" technique, I decided it would not be that much more expensive (and a whole lot less trouble) to purchase caramel dipped apples at the grocery store as a starter.  I had one little huge problem with them, the caramel wrappers stuck like crazy.

So after a little more thought, I finally came up with this way of making them and it has worked beautifully.  Read the technique through before trying it, as I offer options!


I start with store bought taffy apples!  Yes, it cost a little more but not much when you consider you don't have to purchase apples and caramels separately (or make your own caramel sauce).

If you use apples purchased from the grocery store to dip into your homemade caramel sauce, you may have found it did not stick because of the coating on many store bought apples.  And I usually forgot to buy them from the Farmer's Market (assuming those are not coated).

I bought two packages for 99 cents each as they were both near their "use by" date... and I was going to use them before they would go bad.  Remember, this is produce!


Now, this is what makes it easy peasy.  Put the entire package of your taffy apples into the freezer and set the time for 25 minutes.  That way you won't forget them.  I speak from experience.


Melt your favorite dipping chocolate or chocolate chips in the microwave.  I found 20 seconds the first go around, stir... 15 seconds, stir... then an additional 10 seconds each time until smooth.  Even chocolate chips can seize up and burn so this is when patience is indeed a virtue.

The decision of what chocolate to use depends entirely on the quality you want your gourmet chocolate apples to be.  For these six taffy apples, I used one package of semi-sweet chocolate chips and one-half package high quality milk chocolate chips.  I'd switch that around the next time I make them, using one whole package milk chocolate chips instead.

I like using chocolate chips instead of dipping chocolate because they give a thicker result.  And let's be honest, it is the chocolate we are after... not the apple.  As you experiment, you will find what you like the best.

Have the chocolate chips or dipping chocolate melted and ready when the buzzer goes off at 25 minutes.


Now, see how nice that paper comes off the taffy when it has been briefly frozen?  SO much easier!

This is also where your options come in!  I immediately drizzle with chocolate but if you are also going to sprinkle with nuts or dip into crushed Oreos or any other additions, you have to have them ready to go, too.  For the chocolate hardens almost immediately with that very cold caramel.

Either that or let the apple sit at room temp awhile but I find it much easier to work immediately and have everything ready.


First I dip the bottom of the apple in the chocolate and then turn it sideways, spooning the melted chocolate over the apple.  It hardens quickly so work fast.

I tried to take photos of that process but they didn't turn out.  Obviously I cannot take photos well with one hand.  Sigh...


Then spoon more melted chocolate on top of the apple to seal it.  Immediately sprinkle nuts or anything else you want at this time.

By the way, these do taste as good as they look!


Let the apples sit on a foil or parchment lined pan for oh... ten to twenty minutes.  You do not need to butter the foil, they come off easily if you first dipped the bottom of the apple into chocolate.  The apple should be as close to being completely surrounded in chocolate as you can.

You will notice above that I did not do this perfectly and some caramel shows but the food police never arrived so that is just fine.  It is suppose to be a fun project, not perfect.


You can add a ribbon as I did in the first photo and tuck each apple into a cellophane gift bag.

Since I didn't have any when I took these photos, I wrapped each in foil (most of it what they had been sitting on above) and stored in the frig.

Really the only difficult part of this technique is working quickly if you plan to embellish the chocolate so it sticks.  Otherwise just let the caramel apples sit awhile before dipping them in chocolate so the caramel is not cold.  I say that even though I haven't tried it that way!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Past Scrapbook Projects

From my original scrapbook.
I thought I'd do a little "Show & Tell" and let you actually see a tiny bit of past scrapbook journals.  I began it all, like so many people, with photo album scrapbooking when my kids were younger. 

Then I progressed to a scrapbook, then a scrapbook journal, and now more of a combination of everything with a leaning towards scrapbook art.

A few photo album scrapbooking views
A family trip into Chicago during Stephanie's senior year of college.  It was over Spring Break but if was freezing!
Feast of the Hunter's Moon page
Another Feast of the Hunter's Moon page on a different year.  Steph is in the upper right photo, Christopher to the lower left, Hubby and I to the lower right.
Even then, I included favorite poetry.

A few views of my first scrapbook

The above is the very simple way of viewing and organizing favorite magazine images, as well as clipped out prose and poetry.  Many of the images used originally were from the old Victoria magazine.

It was done in an actual large Scrapbook instead of the artist's sketch books I used later.

A few views of my first scrapbook journal

I guess I didn't take as many photos of this book as I thought but it gives you a good idea of how it was used.

I go back and view all of them quite often, especially in the cold and dark Winter months! 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Falling in love again with scrapbook journaling


I have had so many questions about scrapbook journaling, it called for its' own post.  I've created some form of scrapbook journal for the last fourteen years.  A couple years ago, I set this way of creating aside to concentrate on other things.  To be honest, I was just bored with it.

Then earlier this year, I began to notice photos in magazines and online where journals were being created using products and embellishments from other forms of paper crafting.  I dusted off my original scrapbooking products and added a few items with birthday money... and a craft I'd become bored with was made fresh and new. 

I was asked why I like scrapbook journaling.  It's because through it, I can create visually the various emotions I'm feeling at the time.  What I am loving, a song or poem that has touched me, an event or a thought, a Bible verse, anything I want to put on paper.

Each page will be slightly different in this journal.  There is no right or wrong, no perfection.  As patient as I am putting them together, they still can turn out a little wonky and definitely homemade.  But someday I hope my children or grandchildren can look through these pages and not see perfect Art... but reflections of me!


I have shown you this page before but it was the first one I made for this new journal, celebrating the week my family spent together to celebrate my birthday in July.


This page is about a song I love, J. J. Heller's song called Someday.

And that it was my daughter who sent me a link to it on You Tube and told me when she heard it, she thought of me.  I find it often easier to print out the song or poem or prose rather than write it out.


This page shows some of the embellishments I used for the "Title Page" of the journal.


Often on the pages, there is an illusion that washi tape is used to adhere the pages to the sketchbook.  Actually, I have a few different kinds of double stick tape that I use... according to how heavy the paper is I'm adhering.  The washi tape is for texture and beauty.


I used three different types of washi tape on this one to create texture, interest, and color.  And in my own handwriting, what I was thinking at the time...


On the back of pages where embellishments make the paper fairly heavy, I adhere a simple magazine page.  In this case, one with a quote already on it that I like.  This magazine page was adhered with double stick tape and edged with narrow washi tape for texture.


I've shown you this before but it is a good representation of embellishment with washi tape on the corners, a three dimensional glittery butterfly, and paper flowers on the corners of the printed out quote.



I have used regular scrapbooks but I've found artist's sketchbooks work the best to create a scrapbook journal.  Their pages are heavy enough to support layered and embellished "art".

My last one was spiral so this time I bought one (with a half price coupon) that was bound.  It is sturdier but the spiral was easier to work with.  Since I had the basic scrapbooking supplies already and embellishments are very inexpensive (at least the kind I buy!)... my "new" crafting is budget friendly.


I was asked about washi tape.  It is a Japanese decorated tape, most of which has the feel of masking tape.  But the floral designs (bottom left above) are made of fabric and they came directly from China (purchased with Amazon credit at a very low price).

Washi tape is usually inexpensive.  One of my favorite designs is the red with white polka dots above that costs 99 cents at Walmart.  All of the rolls of narrow solid color washi tape came together in one package.  If I remember, it was $6.00 for the entire package. 

Oh, I was also asked about the boxes like the one shown above.  They originally contained candy and a friend was getting rid of them and asked if I wanted them.  I knew someday they would come in handy, just the perfect size for crafting supplies!  That is their original silver color.

Links to a few posts about past journals can be found on the Page labeled Scrapbook Journal, under the blog's Header.  I will be including the newer format I'm using in the same Page, those links labeled Scrapbook Art Journal.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Sunday Afternoon Tea - For Such a Time as This

"Yet who knows whether you have come to
the kingdom for such a time as this?”
Esther 4:14 NKJV

" From one man he made all the nations,
that they should inhabit the whole earth;
and he marked out their appointed times
in history and the boundaries of their lands."
Acts 17:26 NIV

"And He made from one [common origin, one source, one blood] all nations of men to settle on the face of the earth, having definitely determined [their] allotted periods of time and the fixed boundaries of their habitation (their settlements, lands, and abodes)..."
Acts 17:26 Amplified

I hear over and over again these days, the worry felt by parents and grandparents about the world in which their children are inheriting.  Not to mention our personal concerns and apprehensions about the state of the planet in which we live.

Although I must admit, while one cannot help feeling unsettled at times, I don't actually worry about my family.  When both of my kids were growing up, I would mention to them often that they were the Esthers and Daniels of their generation.

I can still remember the first time the above scripture in Acts got through to me.  I was at least forty and wondered where it had been all my life.  I'm including both the NIV and the Amplified versions of that Bible verse, I feel it is so important for us to know and hold onto.  What does it tell us?

We are born at the time in History and at the Place where He intended us since before the world began!!!  (Granted, He may also move us around occasionally.)

My friends, if we ask Him that His will be prevalent in our lives and those that we care for... it may look dark and threatening but we are right where He wants to use us for His will and His GLORY.

This is where He wants you to be His spokesperson and His hands to help and His strength to those who are weak.  This is your time!  That for which you were born!  

You see your son as that little boy.  God sees him with the sword of the Word of God, a warrior knight to battle the darkness.  The little girl?  Brave and wise and not unlike the women of the Word in their time... standing strong.

I love to read about the women and men of the Word.  I look forward to meeting them in Eternity.  Especially Esther, who like most of us... didn't really want to be a heroine.  But came to realize that indeed, God did place her in the very place she needed to be "for such a time as this".

While I believe this generation in which we live faces obstacles few have known before, that does not change the fear in which past generations felt with what circumstances were surrounding them in their own age.

Imagine being a Jew in Germany or Poland in the months leading up to WWII.  Imagine living in London during the Blitz.  Imagine seeing the Vikings landing to conquer (I married a man of Norwegian decent... they are still proud of their Viking blood!).  

I have a biography of Grace Livingston Hill, where she is coming to the end of her life and is actually glad it is time to go to "be with the Lord".  For she felt the world was becoming so decadent, she was concerned for the generation coming after her.  She died the same year my husband (now retired) was born.

I grew up under the shadow of the Cold War and like most in my generation, kind of assumed we would be obliterated by an atomic bomb.  Young people today, those born after the Reagan presidency, may laugh at the idea.  But that shadow was always, always there.

Some will know the story behind the beautiful Gaither song, Because He Lives.  Gloria was very concerned that she was expecting another baby because she felt the world was falling apart.  After spending a lot of time in prayer, God assured her this child was born at just the right time and the words to that song came to her.  This was in the 1960s.

I'm not saying we will not fear as we hear of wars, rumors of wars, plagues, terror, etc.  It is only human to feel such emotions.  And unless you are a Vulcan who has managed to totally subvert their feelings (only fellow Trekkies will understand)... you cannot help but be assaulted by them.

However, you don't have to live with them.  As you come before the Lord in prayer, as you read His Word (even if you can only park in the Psalms!), as you go about the daily tasks He has put before you... you will know.  Deep within... in that place of your soul where Truth abides... you will know.

He either has you where He wants you or He is moving you into that place.  You were born for such a time as this.  

You may be young and have the strength of a warrior.  You may be older and pray like a warrior.   It doesn't matter as long as you are still in the battle.  

When does the war end?  The last Book of the Bible tells us it ends when the King returns and you know what?  
He returns the Victor.


Image:  Cotswolds Evening by Robert Duncan (my favorite artist!)

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Simple homemade granola


Beginning this week, I'm going to share some of my favorite food gift ideas.   I had to make a new batch of this granola for my husband so I thought it would be a good first recipe to share.  Next week I will share the easy way I've come up with to make gourmet chocolate covered apples.  I still have to photograph that process.

The granola is very easy and you can tweak it to individual likes and dislikes.  I was out of sliced almonds so they will get toasted and added to this batch later this week.  I keep our granola in a thrifted apothecary jar with a small measuring cup always in it.

Simple Granola
  • 4 - 6 Cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 Cup or more nuts, finely chopped (optional but I prefer them)
  • 1/2 Cup coconut (optional, I did not add it this time)
  • 1 Cup dried fruit or more to taste (I used a combination raisins and dried cranberries)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/2 Cup honey (or more if you prefer it sweeter)
  • 1/3 Cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Oven temperature at 350 degrees!  (Sorry, I wanted to move where I had typed it in before and forgot to put it back!).

Mix oats, nuts, coconut, and cinnamon in a large bowl.  Pour honey, vegetable oil, and vanilla into another bowl or measuring cup and whisk together with a fork.  Pour the liquid mixture over the dried mixture and mix well.

Line a large baking pan with foil or parchment paper and oil it well... or plan on scrubbing the baking pan!  I use a half sheet cake baking pan.  Pour the granola mixture onto the prepared pan and spread out evenly.

It will look toasted.
Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, checking a couple of times and gently stirring to keep it evenly browning.  As you get closer to 20 minutes, check until it is finished.  It should be toasted, not burned... and it burns quickly.


Take pan out of oven and let it cool completely.  Then add your dried fruit.  The original recipe called for dried apples but I almost always have raisins and dried cranberries on hand so I use them.  Dried cherries or dried blueberries would be great, as would chopped dried apricots, etc.

Carefully pour into an airtight container.  To use as a Holiday gift, pour into a cute container or Mason jar.

This recipe is based on one from the More-with-Less cookbook.