Thursday, May 31, 2018

Dessert Cream

Dessert Cream

A very simple and so delicious dessert cream!  We usually just pair it alongside fresh strawberries, but sometimes add it to angel food cake or shortcake.  Makes a sweet dessert for tea time or even for a picnic.


Ingredients:

1 jar marshmallow cream
1 box 8oz. cream cheese

Directions: 

Soften cream cheese at room temperature for about 20-30 minutes. In a mixing bowl, combine marshmallow cream and cream cheese.  Using hand mixer, blend together until creamy and smooth. Refrigerate for approximately 2 hours for best results.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

slow moments - Motherhood

...because life is beautiful!
Twenty-five years ago, a child I prayed for, started teaching me about motherhood.  A baby, a gift, fully dependent.  My days changed, my nights changed, my heart changed.  She challenged me, really challenged me, to be a better mama. As she grew, I grew.  It’s a mission of love that continually grows.  She’s now a mama and the next generation is beginning.  Her nights are now long and exhausting and I get to reap the harvest once again.  Motherhood is journey that I continue to travel.  Life is beautiful! 


...because fresh basil, avocado, and mozzarella drizzled with balsamic on a toasted bagel is a favorite breakfast.

...because a new tablecloth brought light into the dining room.

...because this recent blog post inspired me to play more games with my family.

...because brother-in-laws are great teachers when you are raised in a family of all girls.

...because my husband knows me. {love & honor}

He found a patch of wildflowers on the side of the road and texted me a picture.  If you look closely, each petal is heart shaped!

...because it warmed my heart to bring out our patriotic colors for Decoration Day and remember freedom was not free.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Counting it all Joy! - May 25th


218  | amazing Spring weather
219  | pictures of my girls for Mother's Day
220  | new school days ahead - love fresh beginnings
221  | a cloth covering the table
222  | hydrangea blooms
223  | recipes being added to my blog
224  | quiet moments spent reflecting
225  | for those that remembered my heart regarding Nathaniel
226  | my daughter painting my toenails
227  | chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream
228  | freezer meals
229  | homemade salsa
230  | calculators
231  | sweet strawberries
232  | pizza delivery
233  | cloth napkins
234  | a nature walk
235  | for those who gave their lives for freedom 
 


Thursday, May 24, 2018

Cucumber Salad


Nana's Cucumber Salad


As long as I can remember, my Nana made cucumber salad for nearly every family gathering.  The past many years, Nana had not been physically able to make it  and so my mom had kept up the special side dish tradition and still does.

On one of my last visits with her, I was very touched when my Nana made a batch of cucumber salad.  This was really a miraculous moment and I think was the last batch my Nana made, but it will be one that I never forget.  She could barely walk, but amazingly made it out to the kitchen and proceeded to peel cucumbers.  We often tease that as often as she ate this that the vinegar preserved her long life!

Tradition keeps this recipe going and I'm thankful that my mom passed this along and also brought this salad on her recent visit just this past weekend for a family gathering.

Ingredients:

5 cucumbers
½ cup vinegar {approx.}
¼ cup sugar (use more if you want it sweeter--we like it tart)
salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Wash & peel cucumbers.
  • Grate them.
  • Excessively salt them and set aside for 45 minutes.  This will draw out the liquid in the cucumbers so that they will absorb the flavor of the vinegar and sugar dressing.
  • Squeeze them through a thin tea towel.  The portion size drastically shrinks!!!
  • Mix vinegar and sugar to taste.  Refrigerate approximately an hour.  Serve cold.

Variations:  We've added in green onions and also made it with a sour cream based dressing.  {No real measurements....but about ¼ cup of sour cream, add a little vinegar and sugar to your liking.  We prefer just the plain vinegar & sugar.}
 In loving memory of my Nana.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

slow moments - remembering Nathaniel

...because a dear friend cared enough to remember and whisper his name. 

Today, marks 11 years since I gave birth to his tiny, still body.  I never heard his cry, but will never forget the sound of his beating heart for the short 5 months within me or my husband holding his only son who left us so soon.  I didn't have anything to visualize his name besides a piece of paper or his grave stone.  This is a precious jewel, with his name etched deep, that I can feel, see,  and read his name.  A piece that will keep his memory close to my heart.   Isn't this just beautiful!  Happy 11th Birthday, little one.

...now I wait to visit Heaven's nursery to see him again.


...because studying hymns will be part of our upcoming school year.

...because we paused to admire the golden wildflowers on the hillsides.

...because these cute little fluffs will be laying our farm fresh eggs.

...because this heart naturally caught my attention.

...because dates with husband are special.  {chicken piccata over handmade fettuccine -yes, please!}

...because washing paint trays is habit.  We painted cards.

...because this was a sweet reminder of one of our favorite read-alouds this year - Wonder.

...and I am left to "wonder" what Nathaniel would have been like at 11 years old.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Walk with Nature - finding joy



We've kept nature journal for years, but they don't flow as naturally as other areas in our homeschool days.  I desire to embrace nature, but I'll admit that I have issues with weather (the bitter cold, the exhausting heat, or the relentless winds), bugs, snakes, and even fear, after losing a family friend on a hiking trail just last year.  An innocent hike, turned deadly and took the life of a mom and her sister, but spared their teenage daughter.   It's an area of prayer for me daily, coupled with my own health struggles that hinder a simple walk at times.


This school year we had an amazing road schooling adventure that took us on many paths.  Paths of dirt, paved walkways, and sandy shores, but we took finding beauty outdoors for weeks at a time.  I will always treasure those moments with nature and my family as magical.  We didn't have a manual, or field guides, nature journals, or even a plan - - we just went outside and looked and listened.  It was amazing and we really learned a lot.

I think sometimes we put too much emphasis into research or even the journal part of our nature adventuring, and we lose a little of the freedom in exploring the beauty around us.  I'm trying to find a balance in our upcoming school year that allows for the feeling of freedom and still fills our nature journals with pieces of this beautiful life growing around us.

“We all have need to be trained to see, and to have our eyes opened before we can take in the joy that is meant for us in this beautiful life.” 

~Charlotte Mason


May I be trained to see, and embrace that joy, despite the obstacles that have kept us indoors.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Gathering Candle - rolled beeswax




The gathering time.  A time together.  A lit candle starts the daily rhythm and kindles the love of learning.   A whispered prayer to ground my heart.  We prepare by hand rolling beeswax candles and stocking our basket for the coming school days ahead.  This needs to be habit.


A candle is like a teacher
who first provides the spark
that kindles love of learning
in children's minds and hearts.

Like a burning candle,
teachers light the mind
enriching the lives and futures
by sharing of their time.

So when you light this candle,
may its glow convey to you
warm appreciation
for all the things you do.

~Author Unknown

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Brownies

Homemade Brownies

Moist fudge brownies are one my favorite desserts! No need to have a boxed brownie mix when these are so easy to make.

Ingredients:

2 cups sugar
1- 1/3 cup flour
¾ cup cocoa powder - I like this organic cocoa.
1 tsp. baking powder**
2/3 cup oil - I use a light olive oil, but any vegetable oil will work.
2 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs

Optional:  ½ cup chopped nuts  or for an additional chocolate flavor, add in ½ cup chocolate chips.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350ºF and grease a 9x13 rectangle baking pan.  Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir until all ingredients are moist.  Lumps are okay - try not to over mix brownies!  Pour into baking pan and bake for about 25 minutes.

Dust with powdered sugar if you like, or even frost with your favorite frosting.  Brownies are best cut evenly when cooled but I never wait!

**Special note for high elevations:  I live in the mountains and sometimes baked goods with baking powder will turn out dry.  A rule of thumb is to reduce your baking powder according to your elevation.  We are around 4,500 ft. and I do NOT find that I need to reduce for this recipe, but wanted to mention for those that do have an issue.

above 3,000 feet - reduce baking powder by 1/8 tsp.
above 6,000 feet - reduce baking powder by 1/4 tsp.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

slow moments - Spring

 ...because these verses are a foundation in our daily learning.
 ...because as we wrap up school, the dining room is reclaimed.

 ...because Spring brings beautiful blossoms in the warm sunshine.

 ...because a nest means hope - new life! {house finch eggs}

 ...because organic pancake mix makes for easy breakfast.

...because watercolors brought "model the joy" moments with my girls.

...because spinach salad tastes better with chopsticks - not really, but is different than a fork and it was eaten slowly!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Honor for mothers without children

I just felt like writing something today that weighs on my heart - especially on Mother's Day.

  • for those that still wait to find their other half
  • for those anxiously looking for the pink lines on the white stick 
  • for those with empty arms year after year
  • for those grieving the loss of their own mom
  • for those who experienced loss within their womb
  • for those who buried a little one alongside shattered pieces of their hearts
  • for those praying
  • for those losing hope
  • for those aching
  • for those yearning
  • for those days when we compare ourselves to others
  • for those waiting and waiting to adopt

We all have a story and it's so different from person to person, but we all experience trials.  I like to think that my trials have made me better and given me a heart of empathy where I can imagine the pain that others walk through.

My story has watched my own mother bury a teenage daughter, my sister.   My story has miscarriage.  My story has stillbirth.  My story has the burial of our only son.  My story has questions - why was I gifted with children and another not.

My story has me unworthy and I didn't always pray humbly and graciously, BUT I did have faith that He was with me even when I felt so alone.  I read the book of Samuel in my Bible several times over and over and yearned like Hannah pouring out my heart in prayer.  Answers do not always come as we hope, but I had faith that He was listening.

So.... maybe, contemplate this beautiful poem:

Maybe there are Mothers without Children


Maybe there are mothers without children
On whom this day will smile out of love.
The name, perhaps, is honored by the burden,
However justified, or not, by blood.
Each love of children, even not one's own
Reverberates throughout this world of stone,
Singing of what nothing else could prove.

~author Nicholas Gordon

...and the love for a child, the yearn for a child, needs to be honored.
 

My heart's desire that I can offer some comfort.  I am praying for those needing it today.  I hope that those hurting today, will feel honored by the desire to love a child.  It is a Mother's heart.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Apple Crumble


We always look forward to apple season when Honey Crisp apples are in season!  I used to use Granny Smith for my baking, but since discovering the Honey Crisp, we have preferred this apple for eating and baking needs.  There is a new apple I just tried the other day called a Crisp Pink, which seemed really nice for baking, too.

We hosted a Danish Exchange Student years ago, whom we miss dearly, and she made this simple dessert that her Mormor (I hope that I am sharing this right) taught her.  Very simple, but so tasty.

Baked Apple Crumble

Ingredients:

8-10 apples peeled and sliced
cinnamon sugar to sprinkle
1 cup white flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1 cube butter = 1 stick or ½ cup

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. In greased pie dish, place apple slices and sprinkle with cinnamon & sugar.
  3. In separate bowl, crumble flour, sugar & butter.*   (I just use my hands.)
  4. Place on top of apples and bake for approximately 45-60 minutes until apples are soft and crumb topping has started to brown a little.

*sometimes I will add in a handful of oatmeal to the crumble for an added touch.


This is delicious served with some vanilla ice cream, too!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Counting it all Joy! - May 8th



202  | 3 weeks of being steroid free ::praying for more::
203  | baby chicks means upcoming farm fresh eggs
204  | another grand baby coming this fall
205  | a fun girls' day with my mom, aunt and 2 youngest girls
206  | sunshine days and amazing temperatures
207  | homemade lasagna
208  | watching my girls curled up reading books
209  | a fun field trip
210  | capri and t-shirt with flip-flops
211  | homeschool plans for next year done
212  | dreams
213  | baby giggles
214  | fresh flowers on the table
215  | another gifted day
216  | wildflowers painting the hillsides
217  | a field of golden flowers
 
 

Monday, May 7, 2018

Little bits about me - Entertainment



I'm sitting here seriously trying to grasp that it is MAY already!  Spring has sprung and this school year is winding down.  If I could press the pause button on life .... ahhh to dream of truly being able to embrace everything around me without the days going by so fast.

And yet, here I sit . . .

 


1.  Comedy or Drama?  Both!

2.  Fiction or Non-Fiction? It depends on the topic at hand but in the entertainment realm, I usually find myself watching the titles that are Fiction and some fiction based on Non-Fiction.

3.  Movies in Theater or Home?  At home. Cheaper, more comfortable, less crowded, and the pause button seem to all be pluses.

4.  Musical or Play?  Both if the music is not overbearing.

5.  Which Meal of the day is your favorite to eat out?  I prefer late lunch or early dinner between 1pm-4pm.  Less crowded and for 27+ years, we have primarily eaten our supper/dinner meal in the lunch hour and then enjoy a light evening meal.

6.  Favorite Book ever read?  Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

7.  Game Night: Yes or No?  Yes!  Family game nights with lots of finger foods!

8.  Favorite Outside Game to play?  Cornhole.... or hmm....I'd say I have a few favorite board games that I enjoy playing outside at a picnic table by a campfire - Dominoes, Aggravation, cards, are just a few, but I don't really play outdoor games.

9.  Favorite TV Series ever?  We've been watching Heartland for years, but one that I binge watched on a 3+ week vacation was Chuck.  I can't say that it's family friendly per se, but I enjoyed the comedy, drama, action, and romantic twists that it had in each episode without feeling like it was a soap opera.  I guess it's my inner geek and that generally the good guys prevailed.

10.  Sitcoms growing up or Sitcoms of today? Fully depends on the show itself.  We are not big on watching television and tend to gravitate towards the Hallmark or Pixl channel movies.

11.  Miniature Golf or Bowling?  Both, but I am now only a scorekeeper as the ruptured/bulging disks in my lower back do not allow for my participation anymore.

12.  Favorite Movie Theater Candy?  No candy, but I'll munch on some popcorn.

13.  How do you like your popcorn?  Buttered and lightly salted.

14.  3D movies with the glasses: Yes or No?  No, I prefer to not watch 3D movies.

15.  Favorite Genre of Books to read?  Do Children's Picture books count?!

Is it possible to fall in love every single day?  - Watch Remember Sunday and be heartbroken and heartwarmed at the same time, in this unique romantic drama.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Nurture the habit together


One of the special ways I've come to learn beside my girls is through an online watercolor class that we took this past semester.  We have had so much fun doing this together.  We not only learned some useful watercolor techniques, but most importantly we sat down together and embraced an amazing amount of quality time together.  Our little Kraft notebooks are being filled with pages of memories that I intentionally took the time to create beside my girls.



I've had to learn to make this time habit that I need to nurture still more!  Art is such a wonderful place to start modeling the joy of learning.  They love it!

Flowers for the heart of home


The table bouquet.  A simple addition to the kitchen table gives pause for beauty, reflection, and meaning to my heart.

For many years, I've placed bouquets in memory of lost loved ones after my sister was killed in a tragic car accident.  I was young and didn't know how to honor her memory.  Flowers became something I could do even though I lived too far away from the cemetery.  

The weekly rhythm began when my health forced me to move away from our mountain home.  I'd visit Trader Joe's and grab some flowers to help me get through the week with a focus on the beauty around me.  I'd set the table and see the flowers.  I'd clear the table and see the flowers.  I'd walk past the table and see the flowers.  We would school around the flowers. They became a beautiful reminder to give thanks in all circumstances.

Now, that I'm back home, I've tried to carry this rhythm and keep my heart in check.  No day is to be taken for granted - they aren't promised, but instead gifted.

The best kinds of bouquets are the sweet little handfuls picked with childish grins and handed to mama. 

melts the heart and creates a special memory to treasure!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

When I braid the bread

Challah Bread

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ TBLS dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm water
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 4 tsp. salt
  • 3 eggs, slightly beaten (reserve a small amount for brushing)
  • 7 ½ cups white flour
  • optional:  sesame or poppy seeds


Directions:

In a large bowl combine warm water, yeast, and sugar.  Once yeast is active (bubbly), add in oil & salt.  Blend in the eggs (reserving 1 TBLS for brushing).  Add 3 cups of flour and mix well to avoid lumps.  Let rest for about 5 minutes.  Gradually add the rest of the flour (4 ½ cups).  On a floured surface, use your hands and knead the dough for about 10 minutes.  Put into an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled.  Braid into 2 loaves and place on greased cookie sheets.  Let rise again.  Brush with the reserved egg mixture.  Top with optional sesame or poppy seeds.  Preheat oven to 350°F and bake for 30-40 minutes.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I've really, really missed bread baking.  Between my health, moving around, and the summer heat, much of my bread baking was sadly put aside.   This week I felt like I met up with an old friend in the kitchen.  I made 3 loaves.  Two traditional oval shaped loaves and one round loaf usually reserved for the Holy Days or special occasions.  I took the round loaf to my daughter's Bridal Shower.

The warmth of the yeast, as I kneaded the bread, was slowing and needed.  I was having a hard day when I started to pull the recipe together.  The rhythm of kneading, and the whispered prayers, brought a quiet over my heart.    . . . so grateful for the change of heart.


Part of my personal slowing plan is to start baking beautiful breads on Friday morning to set the tone as I enter into Sabbath rest.
   

It's a time to slow and pray.  

It's a time to give thanks.  It's a time of reflection.

Live Quietly

 "...aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you..."
~ 1 Thessalonians 4:11

Something to ponder . . .
"Aspire to live quietly" is speaking to my heart.  There is something about the word quiet that joins together with slow.  Busy seems to yield a constant noise that drowns out the quiet.  Makes me ponder just how many times I have already missed hearing the Father because of the busy I've allowed.  


Does your busy drown out your quiet time?
 
Remember to take the time to be intentionally slow and live quietly to hear the Father speaking to you.  As Paul shares in Philippians 4, let's not sacrifice the secret to complete contentment, by being too busy to accept the only thing we need - our Father and His sacrificial gift.

My heart whispers . . .


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