As the name of my blog indicates, I spend a lot of time thinking about home. Of course, my Heavenly Home is the one that is eternal, so that’s where I need to lay up my treasures, and that’s the one I’m striving for. But in the meantime, I have been given this tiny piece of the here-and-now—this nearly six-acre tract of land, this farmhouse, this domain—in which to serve Him. And, though this is in the earthly realm, I want the things that happen here to be investments in the Heavenly realm.


Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Feast


I am as committed to homeschooling my youngest child as I was when we began our homeschooling journey twenty-plus years ago.  I am committed because I believe that is what God called me to do.  But then there are days when it does not take any commitment on my part because I can see just how good it is.  Yesterday was such a day.  

It was a day that was rich with truth, rich with ideas, rich with substance.


Bekah had done well with her independent work--vocabulary, copy work, grammar, math.  Lots of things seem to be "clicking" with her this year, which is encouraging to both of us.  

But when we began Morning Time (after lunch), I was reminded of all that is good about homeschooling with a feast of ideas, as Charlotte Mason* espoused.

We read II Samuel 9.  David sought out a descendant of King Saul, "that I [David] might show him kindness for Jonathan's sake."  We saw David showing kindness and mercy to lame Mephibosheth,  Jonathan's son.  

We continued our memory work on Romans 8, together reciting the first seventeen verses.  They are new every time.  Powerful truth.  


We sang the hymn that we began learning this week, "He Leadeth Me" by Joseph Gilmore.  Bekah is already familiar with this hymn, but we strive to memorize the words.  After we sang it through together, she asked if she could play it on the piano.  As she played a beautiful arrangement from a song book that we own, my eyes filled with tears.  It was so lovely, and I love that the words are filling her heart.  "He leadeth me, O blessed thought!  O words with heav'nly comfort fraught!  Whate'er I do, where'er I be, still 'tis God's hand that leadeth me." 


As she continued to play, I looked over her copy work for the day.  Again I was moved.  Yesterday's lesson was the first stanza of Amy Carmichael's poem "God of the Stars."  
I am the God of the stars.
They do not lose their way;
Not one do I mislay.
Their times are in my hand;
They move at my command.
 
Here was another reminder that God is at work, in control, leading those that are His.  I remarked on the beauty of the poem (there are two more stanzas) and Bekah suggested that I make this one my poem to memorize.  I think I shall.  

Then we sat down on the loveseat in the kitchen to read some books.  One was Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison , a Newbery Honor book in 1942.  A fictionalized account of a real life event during the French and Indian War, Indian Captive is the story of 12-year-old Mary whose family is forcefully carried away from their eastern Pennsylvania farm by a band of Seneca Indians.

The story is poignant.  And, as "living books" are, it is full of noble ideas, food for thought.

This passage from yesterday's reading was full of raw emotion...the parting words of a mother to her daughter as Mary is being separated from the group to be taken to live with the Seneca, while the others are doomed to slaughter at their captives' hands.  I could hardly read it...

Molly heard her mother speak.  She heard her say the name Mary, which she used only on rare occasions. 
"Mary, my child..."  Her mother paused, as if to catch her breath.  Molly turned to look at her.  Above the full-gathered homespun gown, with snow-white kerchief and apron, she saw the deep blue of her eyes.  She heard her mother speaking in hurried, breathless words, each word weighed down with pain.  But under the pain was a kindness, a kindness so deep and complete it pierced her heart.  Molly was to remember those words of her mother's and how she looked when she said them, to the very end of her life. 
"Mary, my child," her mother said, "the Indians are a-takin' you away from us...You...are a-goin' on with them... What's to become of the rest of us, only God knows--we are in His hand.  It looks as if your life would be spared...but they're a-takin' you away from your family, from white people of your own kind, from everything you've ever known! 
"I don't know where they'll take you, but no matter where it is, may God go with you!  Make the best of things and be happy if you can.  Don't try to run away from the Indians, Molly; don't try to git away and come back to us.  They'd find you for certain and kill you...Oh, promise me you'll never try it... 
"No matter where you are, Mary, my child, have courage, be brave!  It don't matter what happens, if you're only strong and have great courage.  Don't forget your own name or your father's and mother's.  Don't forget to speak in English.  Say your prayers and catechism to yourself each day the way I learned you--God will be listening.  Say them again and again...don't forget, oh don't forget!  You're a-goin' now...God bless you, Mary, my child.  God...go...with...you..."

Oh.  Tell me that you could read those words to your own child and not get choked up.  I couldn't.

As I reflected on the day and the joys it brought, I was thankful for this opportunity to spread a feast of rich ideas before my child.  Education can be so much more than filling in the blanks and studying for the test.  



Good reads...

* Read this article to learn more about Miss Mason's educational philosophy.

** Karen Andreola writes here about the value of "living books" in education.  

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What Does Your Circle Look Like?


Because my two oldest daughters and I all blog, I have made some observations about blog circles and have even named them, sort of tongue-in-cheek.  

It began when Kati (19) participated in one of Vee's Note Card Parties, and I noticed that she was the youngest blogger that I visited.  "It's me and the grandmothers," she observed.  

As we thought about it, we realized that we do tend to read (and comment) in the same kinds of circles.  I call them the Teeny Bopper blogs, the Young Mom blogs, and the Grandmother blogs.  Now I know that is an oversimplification. Of course, we all venture into other circles, either regularly or occasionally.  But doesn't it make sense that we are drawn to those with whom we have common interests, including those who are in the same life stage that we are in ourselves?  (I also know that "Teeny Bopper" is a misnomer, as many of the bloggers in Kati's circle are not teenagers, and write content with substance.)

Let me allow you to eavesdrop on a recent Sunday afternoon conversation between Kati (Teeny Bopper), Kristin (Young Mom), and me (Grandmother).

Kristin:  Everywhere I look, people are talking about Les Misérables. 
Me:  I don't think I've seen anyone mention it on the blogs I read.
Kati:  I may not have seen much about Les Mis, but I sure did see a lot about The Hobbit!
Kristin:  I haven't seen anything about the Hobbit.
Me:  Deanna is the only one in my circle who blogged about The Hobbit.  But ALL the grandmothers are talking about Downton Abbey!  

(We are, aren't we?)



Do you find yourself in a "circle"?  

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Bread On Tuesday ~ Week 4 {Multi-Grain Bread}


If you're looking for a bread that is packed with nutritional goodness, then this is the bread for you.  I clipped this recipe from a Better Homes and Gardens magazine in 1996.  Oh my.  Has it really been that long?  Sixteen-plus years?  It seems I am always getting these little reminders of my age.  

Back to bread-making...



This was a satisfying recipe in more ways than one.  Since I have had my stand mixer, I have rarely kneaded my dough, letting the dough hook attachment do the work instead.  But this dough kept coming up over the top of the attachment (I have a 5-quart bowl), so I removed it from the mixer and kneaded it by hand.  I had forgotten how satisfying it was to manipulate dough in your hands until it is "right."  

The other part of the satisfaction was the final product.  Although the number and amount of grains had me anticipating a dense, heavy bread, it was not that at all.  Certainly not as light as, say, white dinner rolls.  But fine-textured and chewy and flavorful.  And I could tell myself that it was good for me.  Maybe even more nutritious than coffee and dark chocolate! ~wink~ 

This recipe makes two loaves.  I used one loaf to make grilled cheese-and-apple sandwiches and served it with soup left over from the weekend.  The other will be served with dinner another night this week.  If it lasts that long.  It might end up being toasted for breakfast or sliced to make sandwiches for lunch.  We'll see...




(Makes 2 loaves)

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups warm water (105-115° F)
5 teaspoons fresh yeast
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup cooking oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ*
3 1/4 to 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup rye flour
1 tablespoon butter

Directions:
  • In a bowl, stir together warm water and yeast.  Allow to sit for 20 minutes.  Add honey, oil, eggs, and salt; beat until combined.  Add dry milk powder, oats, cornmeal, and wheat germ; beat until combined.
  • Add 1 cup of the all-purpose flour and all of the whole wheat flour; beat on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping the bowl.  Beat on high speed for 3 minutes.  Using a spoon, stir in rye flour and as much remaining all-purpose flour as you can.
  • Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead in enough remaining all-purpose flour to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic, 7 to 9 minutes.  Shape into a ball.  Place in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease surface.  Cover; let rise in a warm place till double (30-40 minutes).
  • Punch dough down.  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface.  Divide in half.  Cover; let rest for 10 minutes.  Shape each half into a loaf.  Place in 2 greased 8x4x2-inch loaf pans.  Cover; let ruse in a warm place till nearly double (15-20 minutes). 
  • Bake in a 375°  oven for 35 -40 minutes or till bread sounds hollow when tapped.  Remove from pans; place on a wire rack.  Brush with butter**.  Cool completely.  

~ ~ ~

MY NOTES:
*  I was too lazy to toast the wheat germ.  And I was trying to mix the dough while Bekah was doing her math lesson.  So I just tossed it in straight from the jar.  It was fine.  

** If you forget to brush with butter, the bread is still good.  




 He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth;
 And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart.
Proverbs 104:14, 15

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday Snapshots: A Month of Sundays


Sunday #1
Christmas/NewYears/Birthday Party
gifts, laughs, soup, games, birthday cake, friends


Sunday #2
Brian's Birthday
smiles, (more) soup, trifle (!), singing, candle, adorable grandsons, sweet wishes


Sunday #3
An Ordinary Sunday
chatter, games, reading, Mexican food, decadent dessert, giggles


Sunday #4
Another Ordinary Sunday 
(two in a row!)
sweets, sweethearts, soup (again!), curls, pretty girls, potty training, Wii, warmth





Friday, January 25, 2013

Hot Chocolate Bar {Farmhouse Style}


Usually, I put our tea tray on the kitchen counter for easy access and a cozy look during the winter months.  But this year as we were putting away our Christmas decorations and tweaking the house, Bekah suggested that we make a hot chocolate bar instead.  I really love when my children take an interest in house-y things (and we will make it a point to find the tea supplies no matter where they are located), so I agreed to take Bekah's suggestion and try something new.  

Here's our version of a hot chocolate bar...


We put some flavored hot chocolate mixes - raspberry, caramel, mint - in a pottery bowl (hand crafted by my talented friend Tamara).  




We filled an old canning jar with homemade hot chocolate mix. (Kati has been making this up, adapting a recipe that Lorrie shared on her blog Fabric Paper Thread.) We filled another jar with mini marshmallows.



We added a few more goodies, like the wonderful hot chocolate candle, some pink hot chocolate mix given to Bekah by her Gammy, and the crock of heirloom silver spoons with the mysterious monograms.


We've had some c-o-l-d days lately, and our farmhouse-y hot chocolate bar has been busy!




What is your hot beverage of choice on a cold winter's day?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Delightful Day!


How do you brighten up a January day?  By inviting a sweet blog friend and her family to spend the day!   

We had met Deanna's family in October when we took a trip to beautiful Lancaster County.  (I told you ~here~ about  how they welcomed us into their home and about the wonderful evening we all spent together.)  We had been looking for another opportunity to get together, so when I learned that older girls were off from their jobs at Sight and Sound for a few weeks, and that their family business Fab Fashion was on a slightly slower winter schedule, I asked Deanna if they were willing to make the drive and come to our house for a visit...and they were and they did!

This time, we just picked up where we had left off...no need for introductions or small talk!  We jumped right in and began talking and talking and talking (as "kindreds" do), with a little eating thrown in for good measure.  (Okay, maybe more than a "little" eating.)  We talked about books and grandchildren and churches and furniture and pets and technology and games and homeschooling and friends and blogging and blogging friends and husbands and movies and decorating and jobs and children and the Lord's goodness...oh, what didn't we talk about?!  Deanna was joined by her lovely (inside and out) daughters Sarah, Rachel, Emily, and Lindsay (ages 10 to 21), and her darling son Kyle (age 7).  As we all (with the exception of Kyle who was upstairs in Lego Land ~smile~) chatted together, I thought how blessed we are to have daughters who enjoy our company, all engaged in the conversation, kindreds of all ages.  

We were having such a great time together that we didn't want to see it end.  Knowing that Deanna's husband Tim was not going to be home until late last night, we bribed them into staying a bit longer by offering pizza from our favorite local pizza place...and it worked!  Ron picked up the pizza on his way home from work and so he got to join the talking-and-eating too, which he enjoyed.  

I regret to say that I was a bad blogger and took hardly any pictures.  I am so uncomfortable photographing guests in my home...I want people to feel at ease, and not afraid to chew or laugh uproariously for fear that I will snap a photo.  But, I so wish I had taken a few "staged" photos to share.  Definitely next time.

Maybe I can bribe them to come again with some pizza.  Or with Kati's Chocolate Peanut Butter Trifle...that should do it.  



Thanking the Lord today for friends, near and far...

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Bread On Tuesday ~ Week 3 {Three-Cheese Bread}


Are you a fan of Panera Bread's yummy artisan loaves?  I have never met one I didn't like.

This week's bread recipe is from The Panera Bread Cookbook: Breadmaking Essentials and Recipes from America's Favorite Bakery-Cafe.  Ron surprised me with this book for my birthday (in August) because he knew that I was planning on featuring bread in my winter recipe series. Isn't he a good bloggy husband?



While tempted to cut to the chase and head straight for the recipes, I wanted to get the most from the book and improve my breadmaking skills.  It was helpful to read Part One of the book, "Bread Baking 101: Building Your Knowledge of Bread."  The process was discussed from beginning to mouthwatering end: the key ingredients, the factors that affect fermentation, the six steps of the breadmaking "formula", and the scientific principles that are at work.   

After reading the how-to's, I selected this Three-Cheese Bread (how can anything with three cheeses not be good?) to put my new-found knowledge to the test.  We willingly taste-tested one loaf (and whisked the other off to the freezer to save for some very special guests we're having this week).  We declared this first effort a success as we enjoyed a cheesy bread with a crusty outside and a light inside.




(Makes 2 loaves)

Ingredients for Starter*:
1 cup warm water (95-105° F)
2 teaspoons fresh yeast
1 cup all-purpose flour

Ingredients for Dough:
3/4 cup warm water (95-105° F)
3 tablespoons honey
4 teaspoons fresh yeast
1/4 cup plus one teaspoon vegetable shortening
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup 1/2-inch cubes Romano cheese
1/2 cup 1/2-inch cubes Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup 1/2-inch cubes Asiago cheese
Starter (above)

To create the starter*, combine the water and yeast in a medium mixing bowl.  Stir to dissolve the yeast fully.  Add the flour to the bowl and stir until the ingredients are fully incorporated.  Cover with a clean cloth and ferment the starter at room temperature for 30 minutes.  

For the dough, combine the water, honey, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Stir to dissolve the yeast fully.  Add the shortening, flour, salt, cheeses, and fermented starter.  Mix on low speed until the dough is fully developed**.  Remove the dough from the mixing bowl.

Divide the dough into two pieces weighing about 22 ounces*** each.  Set aside any remaining dough and freeze for future use.  Roll each piece of dough into a smooth ball.  Place the dough on the counter or in a proofing basket and cover with a warm damp cloth, and proof at room temperature for 30 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Form the dough into two loaves, cover with a warm, damp cloth, and proof at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Score the knives with a sharp knife, spray with water, and bake for 30 minutes, or until the crusts are a deep, golden brown and the middle of the loaves is 190-200° F.  

Remove the bread from the oven and place on a cooling rack for 30 minutes.  If the bread was baked in loaf pans, remove the bread from the pans before cooling.

~ ~ ~

MY NOTES:
*  The author(s) insists that the starter is a key element in both the flavor and the texture of your bread.  Don't omit this step. 

** According to the author(s), two things indicate that a dough is "fully developed."   One indication is that it pulls away from the sides of the mixer.  Secondly, a small pinch of dough should not tear, but form a translucent membrane when stretched with your fingers.  

*** I did not have a way of measuring 22 ounces of dough.  I hoped for the best and simply divided my dough into two pieces.



 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, 
and breaking bread from house to house
did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart...
Acts 2: 46, 47

Friday, January 18, 2013

Candle Talk





I have a little homemaking habit that adds some cozy cheer to the winter months.  While I am soaking up autumn and celebrating Christmas, I squirrel away a few candles to brighten my home after the holidays are over.  

When the day is gray and cold, I light a candle...or two or three.  Truth be told, I often light a candle even when it is bright and sunny, but there is something very comforting about candlelight on a dreary day.  And a sweet or spicy aroma adds to the cheer.   

***

My dear blog friend Deanna gave me this charming candle when we visited her family last October. Ooooo...it smelled so good through the cellophane wrapper, but I brought it home and tucked it into my candle/linen cabinet (much to Bekah's dismay) to save for January. I am glad that I did, because we have enjoyed its true hot chocolate-y aroma on these winter mornings.  In fact, we were inspired to create our own hot chocolate bar on the kitchen counter and placed this candle on the tray with all the fixings.  Mmmm...

(Deanna's friend Becky makes these lovely soy-based candles and sells them through her Etsy shop, Good Neighbors Candle Co.  Good stuff!)


I picked up this Better Homes and Gardens jar candle at Walmart last fall...for $5.00!  In the midst of the pumpkin and cranberry candles, I spotted this Gingerbread Spice scent that I thought would serve well for the winter months.  It does.  I placed it in a metal pan, surrounded it with some pine cones I pulled out of some old potpourri, and put it on the little table by the back door.  


Ahhhh..."Winter Spice" by Bath and Body Works is a gift from my parents.  B&BW candles are the bomb!  Sooo fragrant...burn so nicely...they even fragrance a room when they're not lit.  I put this one on one of my Friendly Village plates and set in on the kitchen counter.  


Another Bath and Body Works candle, this one is "Toffee" and is one of the ones I squirreled away for myself when I was Christmas shopping.  I could eat it.  I have this one in my living room, encircled by a winter berry candle ring, and sitting on a quilted table square made by my good (and talented) friend Jodi.


In the dining room is a candle that I did not have tucked away waiting for winter.  In fact, it came home with me yesterday.     

This is one of those "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" types of scenarios...but here goes.

I needed something on my dining room table, because I had put my pewter tureen (which has been sitting on the dining room table for years) on a shelf of the corner cupboard, because I got some new (bargain...yay!) pewter pieces, because Ron and I went antiquing on New Year's Eve, because we had some Christmas gift money.  (Follow that?)  So I "shopped the house," but didn't come up with anything that suited me for that spot.  After a week or so of pondering, I decided that some kind of candle with a glass hurricane would do the trick.

My criteria were rather narrow as I sought what I wanted.  In keeping with my colonial farmhouse look, the glass must not look "new." And the whole deal must not cost an arm and a leg.  Imagine my surprise when I found just what I was looking for in Target!  Now Target is one of my favorite stores, but I really did not expect to find an "old" looking hurricane there.  And on sale.   But there it was, with its wavy glass and old-fashioned good looks, and I was sold.  And the candle was half-price. It was meant to be.  ~grin~

This morning, I tweaked.  I got out a pewter tray and set the candle/hurricane on it.  I pulled this very inexpensive (Target Dollar Spot...love it!) berry wreath from my bedroom.  And there we have it...my new centerpiece.


What about you?  Do you tuck away any goodies for the winter months?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Note Card Party: Hearts


 The photos I have chosen for Vee's January note card party are full of heart.  

Around my house, colorful autumn and cozy Thanksgiving decorations gave way to warm and welcoming Christmas decor...but now it's all been put away.  Time for a little winter cheer, wouldn't you say?  I think it's time to gather hearts!





The Lord is nigh unto them that are of broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.  Psalm 34:18




Create in me clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.   Psalm 51:10



Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.  Hebrews 10:22



And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.  Ephesians 4:32









Do you have a blog?
Then you can join this month's party
over at Vee's Haven!

(Click the button for details.)


A Haven for Vee

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Bread On Tuesdays ~ Week 2 {Cheryl's Semi-Sweet Cornbread}


Henrietta is still at the doctor (computer repair shop), so I am delving into the photo archives for one more Tuesday. 


Here in the Mid-Atlantic, folks feel strongly about their cornbread.  Some like it "wet" (also known as corn pone in some locales). Some like it dry. Some insist that it be made in a cast iron skillet. Some like it sweet.  My father-in-law, whose roots were in the south, scorned sweet cornbread.  "That's not cornbread," he'd say. 

My own cornbread probably doesn't please any of the passionate cornbread makers.    It is simply...simple.  It mixes up in a flash, has just a touch of sweetness, and can be made into muffins or baked in a square pan or plopped over leftover chili and baked for a great casserole.  

How do you prefer your cornbread?  Are you a cornbread connoisseur?







Ingredients:
1 cup flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar*
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 egg, slightly beaten

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Grease a 9-inch baking pan.**
  3. Combine first five ingredients.
  4. Combine milk, melted butter, and egg.  Stir into dry ingredients, just until moistened.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes**, or until top is golden brown.


NOTES:
* I have used as little as 1/8 cup sugar.  Adjust to your own preference.
** If you use muffin pans, bake for 18-20 minutes.  


But he answered and said, 
It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone
but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. 
Matthew 4:4

Friday, January 11, 2013

"Glory"


Yesterday, I went out alone to run some errands and was listening to a CD in my van.  I listened to this song, hit repeat, listened to it again, hit repeat, sang along with it, hit repeat...you get the picture!

Such words of truth!  Words that are worth pondering, mulling over, soaking in...


Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:9-11


Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none elseI have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.

Isaiah 45:22, 23







GloryNicole Nordeman
One day eyes that are blind will see You clearlyOne day all who deny will finally believeOne day hearts made of stone will break in piecesOne day chains once unbroken will fall down at Your feetSo we wait for that one day, come quickly

We wanna see Your gloryEvery knee falls down before TheeEvery tongue offers You praise with every hand raisedSinging glory to You and unto You onlyWe'll sing glory to Your name

One day voices that lie will all be silencedOne day all that's divided will be whole againOne day death will retreat and wave its white flagOne day love will defeat the strongest enemySo we wait for that one day, come quickly

We wanna see Your gloryEvery knee falls down before TheeEvery tongue offers You praise with every hand raisedSinging glory to You and unto You onlyWe'll sing glory to Your name

We know not the day or the hourOr the moments in betweenBut we know the end of the storyWhen we'll see

Your gloryEvery knee falls down before TheeEvery tongue offers You praise with every hand raisedSinging glory unto You and unto You onlyWe'll sing glory to Your name.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Bread On Tuesday ~ Week 1 {Sweet Potato Bread}

After a post-holiday meltdown last January, I hatched a plan to try a new soup every Tuesday throughout the winter and share the recipes with you.  I do enjoy "theme nights" on the dinner menu, so I really enjoyed working on this series, Soup On Tuesdays.  (Links to all ten recipes are found ~here~.)

Come summer, I decided to take on a new challenge with a variation on the theme, and during the summer months, we had Salad On Tuesdays.  I found some real keepers, ones that we will be eating again this summer, Tuesday or no.

I have hatched another plan!  This winter, I will be making a different bread recipe every week. I must confess that Kati has made most of the breads in our household for several years.  She loves to bake and try new recipes...and we are very willing to taste test.  (Noble of us, don't you think?)  But I am going to put on my own baker's hat this winter and the goal will be to make ten different breads and to share the recipes with you on Tuesdays.  


~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~


Yesterday, I told you about my ailing Henrietta...which means no new pictures. (Whimper.)  For Week 1, I had to dig back into my photo archives and share a bread recipe for which I could find a picture.  No worries.  I had a photo of this sweet potato bread, and I don't think you'll be sorry.  We'll start this series off with a bang!  


Tonight's bread...




Ingredients:
1 package dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 cup sweet potatoes, mashed*
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup milk, scalded
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
4 1/2 cups flour

Directions:
  1. In a large bowl, soften yeast in the lukewarm water.
  2. Blend mashed sweet potatoes with melted butter until light and fluffy.  Add with milk, salt, and sugar to yeast.  Beat until light.
  3. With a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the flour to make a soft dough.
  4. Put in a well-greased bowl and cover with a towel.  Set in a warm place until doubled in bulk.
  5. Divide in half**  and put each half in a greased loaf pan (9x5).  Let rise to the top of the pans.
  6. Bake 30 to 35 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven until golden brown.  



NOTES:  
* You may use fresh or canned sweet potato.
** This is a sticky, soft dough.  You will not be able to shape it into loaves, but it will come out just fine and loafy!

(The original recipe can be found ~here~.   The recipe I have shared includes my own tweaking.)




And he said unto them, When ye pray, say...
'Give us day by day our daily bread.'


Monday, January 7, 2013

Poor Henrietta!

Or perhaps I should say "Poor Us!"  Henrietta is our ailing laptop, who suddenly became ill on Friday evening (of course...don't children always fall ill on the weekend?), on the very day that her warranty expired.  Blah.  Until Henrietta is on the mend, we are forced to use Henry the desktop, who is aged and so very slow and who refuses to accept our pictures.  (Tsk, tsk...that Henry!)  

Today will find us schooling, cleaning, undoing Christmas decorations, and organizing...not necessarily in that order.  Thankfully, I have already "planned to eat" party leftovers (our final Christmas gathering was yesterday) for dinner, so we can just keep at it until Ron is home from work.  Then we'll ask him to haul stuff up to the attic.  He'll  love it.  (We'll feed him first.)  

We'd like some serene corners like this by day's end...


What is on your agenda today?

Did you watch Downton Abbey last night?

Do you wonder what you did before you had your computer/laptop/ipad/fill-in-the-blank?


Thursday, January 3, 2013

They Heard Me


I wanted to set the party table for my sister's birthday ahead of time, with a white tablecloth and confetti and cupcakes baked in their dear little polka dot baking cups and the colorful polka dot napkins and the fluffy white birthday cake. I decided to serve the meal buffet-style, from the kitchen counter. I had the white dishes on the plate rack, and I was arranging Mom's roast beef and gravy, Ron's mashed potatoes, Kristin's homemade rolls, my niece Amy's spinach, zucchini, and mushroom salad, and a host of other sides along the counter in an orderly fashion...but I was running out of space to put everything. At the last minute, I chose to leave the mounds of mashed potatoes in the big pot on the stove, rather than try to fit another large bowl in the line-up.  This plan, however, slightly offended my sense of aesthetics.  (Serve the potatoes from the pot?)

Ron asked the blessing on the food, and then asked me if there were any instructions. I told people where to grab a plate, where the napkins and utensils were, and then I informed them that the mashed potatoes were in the pot on the stove.  "I'm sorry," I said with a sheepish grin.  

"Apologizing for the potatoes...," I heard someone say.  

And Ron looked at me and in a low voice said, "Not to impress, but to bless."  

Yep, they heard me.  

Mea culpa. Point taken. 


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Getting Organized For the New Year


One of the lovely things about being a homeschooler is that we have two new years!  Two chances to strike out on the path with a new resolve and renewed effort.  The first new year (for us) is in mid-September when we restart our homeschool, complete with a new schedule and plans for the year.  The second new year begins on January 1st when we not only come back to school after a holiday break, but also make new personal and household goals, and work at reorganizing everything from soup to nuts.



We are hosting a belated (due to multiple schedules) Christmas get together on Sunday, so we're leaving our Christmas decorations in place an extra week and delaying some of those bigger organizing projects. However, I have started getting organized in several ways.  

1) I am making daily lists.  

I told you about my daily lists in this post, but I have let that discipline slip over the holidays.  Instead of beginning the day with a detailed list, I slowly morphed into a more haphazard style of just doing the things.  But I find that I use my time more efficiently when I have the detailed list of tasks to check off, which means that I must set aside time before the day begins (perhaps even the night before) to organize my thoughts and make an orderly list.

2) The calendar is on the fridge. 

I used to keep all of my appointments and notable dates recorded on a pocket calendar in my purse, but a few years ago, I moved to a printed monthly calendar that I hang on my refrigerator.  Everything goes on that calendar...birthdays and anniversaries, party plans, doctor and dentist appointments, piano lessons, co-op day...everything.  It is a master calendar for the entire family.  Having it posted in a conspicuous place ensures that everyone can see what is happening all month.  When each person makes plans with friends or schedules an appointment, they check on the master calendar to choose a date that fits with other plans.  I look at the calendar every weekend to get organized for the week ahead.

I love the free printable calendars from TomKat Studio.  You can find their 2013 calendar ~here~.

3) We are making a list of goals for the new year.

Some of these are house projects.  Some are ways to use our time.  Some are improvements we'd like to make.  Some are just things we'd like to do.  Having our goals in writing seems to focus our thoughts and plans.  



What about you?  What do you do to get organized for the new year?



Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year's Prayers Are Better

Bekah (11) told us yesterday that she had never watched the ball drop.  She had seen the New Year in a few times, but we don't usually have the television on.  Watching great masses of people having a wild party, the giddy celebration of a new year with no thought for eternity, is something akin to fingernails on a chalkboard to me.  But last night, we turned on the TV just a few minutes before midnight to satisfy Bekah's curiosity about the ball and what it looks like.  

Far better than the revelry associated with New Year's, is time taken for reflection and for quiet contemplation about how we are to walk in the new year, how we are going to redeem the time we are given.  
"See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 
Redeeming the time, because the days are evil."
Ephesians 5:15, 16

And for me, far better than New Year's resolutions which I am likely to break, are prayers to a Father who knows me best.  I read this prayer many years ago, and I like to revisit it at the advent of each year, and make it my own.  



From William MacDonald's devotional book One Day at a Time:

New Year's resolutions are good but fragile, that is, easily broken. New Year's prayers are better; they ascend to the throne of God and set answering wheels in motion. As we come to the beginning of another year, we would do well to make the following prayer requests our own:

Lord Jesus, I rededicate myself afresh to You today. I want You to take my life this coming year and use it for Your glory.

I pray that You will keep me from sin, from anything that will bring dishonor to Your Name.

Keep me teachable by the Holy Spirit. I want to move forward for You. Don't let me settle in a rut.

May my motto this year be, "He must increase; I must decrease." The glory must all be Yours. Help me not to touch it.

Teach me to make every decision a matter of prayer. I dread the thought of leaning on my own understanding. "O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps" (Jeremiah 10:23).

May I die to the world and even to the approval or blame of loved ones or friends. Give me a single, pure desire to do the things that please Your heart.

Keep me from gossip and criticism of others. Rather, help me to speak what is edifying and profitable.

Lead me to needy souls. May I become a friend of sinners, as You are. Give me tears of compassion for the perishing.

Lord Jesus, keep me from becoming cold, bitter, or cynical in spite of anything that may happen to me in the Christian life.

Guide me in my stewardship of money. Help me to be a good steward of everything You have entrusted to me.

Help me to remember moment by moment that my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. May this tremendous truth influence all my behavior.


And, Lord Jesus, I pray that this may be the year of Your return. I long to see Your face and to fall at Your feet in worship. During the coming year, may the blessed hope stay fresh in my heart, disengaging me from anything that would hold me here and keeping me on the tiptoes of expectancy. "Even so, come, Lord Jesus!"


***

For this is our God for ever and ever:
he will be our guide even unto death.
Psalm 48:14


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