Friday, October 2, 2015


The other day, a friend of mine, who happens to be a pastor, posed this fill in the blank query:

I wish I had more _________.  I wish I was more _________.  

Within less than 24 hours, she had 20 responses, including mine.  My favorite (from a mutual friend): "Memory!  I'd let you know the second word, but I can't remember it!"

Some of the things we wished for were patience, energy, time, confidence, wisdom, money, focus.  The responses were honest and sincere, and I honor that.  We humans yearn for more.  It's just how we are.

The next day, there was another fill in the blank question waiting for us:

I have enough __________.  I am __________ enough.

This time, only 3 responses.  Why is that?  Why are we so quick to point out our shortcomings, but not to celebrate the fact that we are so abundantly blessed?  I don't think it's because we're humble; I don't think it's because we don't want to brag.  I really think it's because we don't believe that we have enough, that we are enough.


God, the Creator of all things, including you, including me, thinks knows we are enough.  God, the Sustainer of all things, including you, including me, provides for all of our needs.  How can we not know that we have enough, that we are enough?

Here's how I answered:

 I refuse to answer on the grounds that I am holding firm to the belief that I am enough.



I'm not saying that I don't struggle with feeling not enough.  I do.  Every single day.  If you've been reading for any length of time, you know that.  But honestly, my friends, the only way I can keep going, the only way I can keep moving forward in this life, is to cling to the truth.  I have enough.  I am enough.

“You are enough- you are so enough. It’s unbelievable how enough you are.”

Thursday, October 1, 2015

A beautiful place

St croix usvi.jpg
"St croix usvi". Licensed under Public Domain via Wikipedia 
Last March I was talking to a friend about her spring break trip to some beautiful island location.  She was saying that she had heard it was beautiful, and believed it was beautiful, but until she got there, she didn't realize how incredibly beautiful it was.  It surprised her.  She just couldn't fathom it, having never been there before, and of course, she couldn't really put it into words.  It's just something one has to experience for oneself.

She also said she can't wait to go back.

As I sat there listening to her, I couldn't help but think about heaven.  I have heard that heaven is beautiful, and I believe that heaven is beautiful.  But I really think, that until I get there, I just can't even imagine what it's like--it is incredibly beautiful, more than any of us can fathom, and we are all just going to have to experience it for ourselves to know how beautiful.

I have another friend who a few times has told me that she's really looking forward to heaven.  She's not quite envious or jealous of people who get to go there before her, but she is waiting with impatient, joyful anticipation of that day (my words, not hers, but I do think they sum up her feelings on the matter--if not, she can let me know).  She can't wait to be there.

I have to tell you the truth.  The first time my friend said this, I was worried for her.  She was as much as saying that she couldn't wait to die, which is a huge red flag.  But it doesn't worry me anymore, and here's why.

I agree with her.  I can't wait.  I mean, I can wait, because I have to, but I am really looking forward to that day.

16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one.   
Hebrews 11:16a

God created us with a hole in us, a longing to be in relationship with God, and here on earth, this fallen and broken place, it is not possible to be in perfect communion with God.  What we have here on earth is not what God intended for us--here on earth we are incomplete.

But in heaven.  In heaven we will enter into perfect relationship with God, with no ugly brokenness to get in the way.  No death or sickness or mourning or crying or pain.  We will be made whole.

It will be beautiful.

This weekend, I worshiped with Building 429.  I love this song.  We don't belong here.  Heaven is our home.

All I know is I'm not home yet.
This is not where I belong.
Take this world and give me Jesus.
This is not where I belong.

(if you are reading this post via email, you might have to click through to the blog post 
to view the video)

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 

Revelation 21:3-4

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Things I've Said To My Children: A Review

I'm sure we all, those of us who have children, have said things.  Things that, upon reflection, seem ridiculous.  Things that, if someone overheard them, would make that someone wonder if we are entirely sane.  Things like

Don't put the zebra in the blender


Asparagus is not a weapon


Don't kiss your brother while he is on the toilet.

Father of five Nathan Ripperger said all of those things, and more to his children, and he actually wrote them down.  And then he illustrated them and published them in a book entitled Things I've Said To My Children.

It's a cute concept and a cute book, but I didn't like it as much as I thought I would, because the things Nathan Ripperger has said to his children don't seem all that strange or ridiculous to me.  I can see myself needing to say many of these same things.  I was expecting something more.

I wouldn't recommend buying the book for yourself, but it would make a cute gag gift for an expectant parent.

I received this book for free from the publisher through the Blogging for Books program in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Menu plan for the week of September 28

Whoa, y'all.  I thought the summer flew by, but that was nothing compared to September.  Do you realize that October starts this week?  Yeah, me neither.  I was thinking I had one more week until my bubble burst this weekend.

This is also the last week of my month-long (which was actually 5 weeks long) menu plan. On balance, it was nice to not have to think of ideas of what to serve my family this month, but it annoyed me that I still did have to rearrange several meals because life happened.  I'm going to try some other things to see if I can find a planning method I like better, but keep this one in my back pocket.

Wait.  I'm not wearing any pockets.  Hmm.

So last week our Monday and Wednesday night activities started (you're right--we already had football on Mondays, but the other Monday activity started, which gives us a small window of time on Monday in which to eat).  Blessings.  We're managing blessings.

Here's what I've got for this week (compare to week 5):

Next Monday:

  • Hamburgers, buns, greens, carrots, mandarin oranges
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Apple crisp
  • Apple pie filling (maybe)

Friday, September 25, 2015

{Improved} AKD's 7 Layer Bars

My oldest son, AKD, is, quite simply, awesome.  Really and truly, he is such a blessing to me and to our family.  I may have told you this before, but here it is again.

When I was pregnant with AKD I was sick.  I was nauseous pretty much all the time, except for the 30 minutes or so after vomiting. So I would throw up, and then immediately eat, because I knew whatever I ate then would stay down.  My morning all-day sickness lasted from about 7 weeks until about 15 weeks, and it was not fun.  I threw up 2-3 times a day during that time.

When I was pregnant with my second child, MC, I was even sicker.  I was nauseous all the time, even immediately after vomiting, and I threw up 4-5 times a day from 5 weeks until 17 weeks.  It was horrible.  There were times when I would just be laying curled up on the floor in 2 year old AKD's bedroom, watching him play, because I couldn't do anything else.  I remember AKD putting himself to bed one night because Hubby was working late and I was hunched over the toilet.  I also remember leaning over the toilet, heaving, while my sweet little 2 year old rubbed my back and told me it was going to be OK.  Seriously.  He was responsible, kind, and compassionate at 2 years old, and he's still responsible, kind, and compassionate at 15.  Love him.  So much.

Anyway, there are a few things about which AKD is passionate.  Kayaking.  Biking.  And sweets.  Oh, yes, the poor boy inherited his mama's (and grand-dad's) sweet tooth.

Years ago ... five and a half years ago ... AKD developed a recipe for 7 layer bars.  We don't make them often, but AKD has made improvements on the recipe over the years, and he thinks he's hit on the perfect combination.  I think so too.

You may recall that the original recipe called for caramel.  Now, instead of caramel, AKD uses rolo candies.  And yes, that little change makes these bars over the top amazing.

AKD's Seven Layer Bars
Here's what you need:

  • Chocolate chip cookie dough (we use this recipe without the nuts)
  • Rolos candies (about 36)
  • Sweetened shredded coconut (about 1/4 c.)
  • Chocolate chips (about 1/2 c.)
  • Milk chocolate m&ms candies (about 1/2 c.)
  • Heath bits o'brickle toffee bits (about 1/4 c.)

Here's what you do:

  • Press a layer of cookie dough into a 9x13" pan, about 1/2" thick.  We use about 1/2 of our recipe.  Since recipes vary, you might use more or less.  
  • Bake in a 375 degree oven until the edges are lightly brown and set, but the center is still not done, about 15 minutes.
  • Immediately throw unwrapped rolos candies at the cookie dough in the pan.  You want them to sink into the dough a bit and start to melt, so use a little bit of force.  We use about 36.
  • Sprinkle the remaining ingredients on top, as much as you think looks good.  We use 1/4 to 1/2 c. of each.
  • Crumble bits of the remaining cookie dough over the top.  We use about 1/2 of what's left, or 1/4 of the whole recipe.
  • Bake the bars until they are cooked through and the cookie dough on top is lightly brown, about 15 minutes.

I made these the other day for AKD's bike race.  And then, because I had leftover rolos and leftover cookie dough, I made rolo-stuffed chocolate chip cookies.  Yes I did.  Because that's how I roll ... o.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Fingertip Tight

If you've ever canned anything, you're familiar with the term "fingertip tight."  For those of you who are not canners, jars are sealed with a 2 piece system consisting of a lid and a band.

Band on the left, lid on the right.
Virtually every canning recipe includes the instruction to tighten bands fingertip tight.  If you tighten the bands too tight, the jars won't seal properly.  If you don't tighten enough, the jars won't seal properly.  It's a classic case of not too tight, not too loose, but just right.  But how to find that elusive just right middle ground?
I have been canning now for at least 6 years, and I still have no idea what the heck fingertip tight means.

Well ... I thought I knew what it meant ...

I rarely have trouble with my water bath seals (in fact, I can't remember any of my water bath canned jars not sealing.  Ever)--they're a bit more forgiving, but I've had inconsistent results with the pressure canner.  And who knows if my bands are too tight or too loose?  Not me!

So I did a little research and learned ... no one else seems to know, either.  Or, rather, everyone knows, and everyone thinks it means something a little different.


The most useful answer I found was from Carolina Canning:
A practical way to determine if the lid is fingertip tight is to place the band on the jar, turn it just until you feel resistance, then turn the band one-quarter turn more. 

So, I guess that's what I'll do.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Garden update: the squash harvest

The garden is looking a little sad these days.  The nights are cooler and the plants are dying.  It's all as it should be, though, the circle of life...

I still have honeydew melons and zucchini growing, and I'll leave them out there as long as I can.  The gnawed-upon honeydew suddenly started growing again, and developed a new crack, maybe because of the 5 inches of rain we got in about 12 hours last week?  So I'm not sure what to say about that.  I think I might be picking that one soon.  There are also two watermelons and two baby pumpkins that I'm doubtful will make it to maturity (but maybe--as long as they're alive, there's hope.  There's a lesson in that somewhere...)

I successfully canned the pumpkin last week, and I think we have about a 3 or 4 year supply of pumpkin over here.  Which is good, 'cause I think the boys want to grow jack-o-lantern pumpkins next year.

My helpers and I harvested spaghetti squash earlier this week, and I'll be dealing with it early next week. Hopefully.

That's it for now.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Homemade Applesauce {for canning}

The other day, my sis asked for my applesauce recipe.  I had to laugh, because I was remembering when I asked Grandma B for her recipe.  She looked at me like I was a little nutty, and then told me there really wasn't a recipe.  You just put apples and sugar in a pot and simmer it until it's mushy.

And that really is all there is to it.

I was kind of disappointed in that answer, though.  I wanted an actual recipe, with specific amounts, because I had never made applesauce before, and I couldn't believe that it really was just that simple.

I never noticed before--Bubby must have dropped an apple right as this picture was being taken.
In this picture, AKD was about the same age Bubby is now.
These days, we make a lot of applesauce.  We own 2 apple trees, and making applesauce is an easy and delicious way to preserve the apples.  We all know by now that our freezer space is ... limited, so several years ago I started canning applesauce.  In fact, applesauce was the first thing I ever canned--another thing that seemed too complicated, but turned out to be simple.

I experimented with two recipes I found in cookbooks, until we hit on a combination that we love.  Then I wrote it down.  And here it is.

Homemade Applesauce {for canning}
To print this recipe, click here.
You will need:
  • apples.  Grandma preferred Macintosh; we just use the kind that grows on our trees
  • sugar.  Grandma used liquid sugar concentrate; we use granulated white sugar
  • cinnamon & nutmeg. (optional)
  • water.
What you do:
  • Fill a 5 quart pot* with peeled, cored, and sliced apples.  We use a nifty little gadget like this.
  • On top of the apples, dump 2 c. sugar (more or less to taste), 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg, and 3 c. water.  
  • Cover, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  • Reduce heat, and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally until apples are tender, about 12 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, mash with a spoon or potato masher (if you want it chunky) or give it a whir in a food processor (if you want a smoother texture).
To can:
  • Immediately ladle hot applesauce into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space.  Adjust and tighten 2 piece lids.
  • Process pints and quarts in a water bath canner for 20 minutes.
* For a 3 quart pot of apples, add 1 1/3 c. sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 t nutmeg, and 2 c. water.  Makes about 2 quarts.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Menu plan for the week of September 21

Well, I did it.  I canned pumpkin last week.  And, boy do we ever have canned pumpkin over here.  I thought I would get 1 canner load, maybe, out of our 6 small pumpkins. I actually got 2 full canner loads, and truthfully, I probably could have (and should have) had another partial load.  So now?  We will eat pumpkin.

What's your favorite way to eat pumpkin?  It's so good for you, full of vitamin A, fiber, beta-carotene, potassium, and vitamin C, but most people's experience with eating pumpkin is limited to pumpkin pie and various seasonal pumpkin flavored items which may or may not actually contain any real pumpkin.  My fav?  Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.  I know.  The sugar tends to negate the pumpkin's benefits, but ... it's still my fav.

My Hubby and oldest boy have been asking for pumpkin pie, so I guess that's what's happening this week.  Here's how AKD eats his:

Proper way to eat pumpkin pie
Ha!  That's how I prefer my pumpkin pie, as well.

Here's what else is on the menu this week:

Next week Monday:
  • Beef & potato casserole, green beans, pineapple or peaches


Friday, September 18, 2015

Reading with Bubby

I read with Bubby, pretty much every day.  Yes, as a second grader, he is required to read or be read to for a certain number of minutes each day, but I also enjoy reading with and to him.  I would read out loud to all of my children if they weren't so busy being teenagers and going all maaaah-om, I'm too old for that on me.

But here's the thing about reading with Bubby.  He keeps talking.  About the story, about his previous knowledge, about what he would do in that situation.

It's all good, because he's making text to text, text to self, and text to world connections.  He's making predictions and backing them up with clues from the text.  He's retelling the story and clarifying in his own mind what's going on.  These are all good things, things that teachers like to talk about (I know this, because for 3 years, I have listened to students reading to me, and my supervising teachers are always talking about these things).

But it takes. so. flippin'. long.

I read a sentence, and then Bubby starts talking.  For 2 or 3 or 5 minutes.  And then he says, "OK, go."  I read another sentence or maybe two, and he's off again.  Every once in a great while I'll get a whole paragraph in before the commentary starts.  Maybe it was the subject matter last night (Magic Tree House's Titanic research guide), but holy camolies.  We were "reading" for about 45 minutes, but I honestly think the actual reading part was about 15, in between all the interruptions.

I now know all about what Bubby would do differently, starting with more lifeboats, and having two sister boats traveling together (so that if one sinks, the lifeboats can head to the sister boat, drop off passengers, and go back for more).  Nerd that I am, I got in a lesson on momentum, which prompted Bubby to change his design so that it was both smaller and slower (but still capable of going very fast, because fast is important).

I'm sure he's still thinking about it, and I'll hear more tonight.

Some days, I approach reading with Bubby as a task, something that needs to get done so we can move on to the next thing (and the next thing is Bubby-goes-to-sleep, so you know how motivated I am to get there).  Every interruption rankles, like so many little pinpricks.  I find myself taking a lot of deep breaths, and consciously practicing patience.

and this is the most important thing,

Bubby is growing and learning through all the interruptions, and I am, too.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Garden update--harvesting pumpkins

My helpers and I harvested the pie pumpkins this past weekend, and I'll be canning them this week.  You know, if I get to it.

Six little pumpkins, sitting on a fence...
Aren't they pretty?  Bubby named his Spikey and Spikey Junior, because of the spikiness of the stems.  I'm not sure how he's going to feel about eating them.  Although he did ask if we can roast the seeds, so, on some level at least, he's aware that these things are food, not friends.

Two female pumpkin flowers appeared on the vines last week, and then another appeared early this week, and even though it's really late in the season, I went ahead and pollinated them.  With squash pollen.  Because there wasn't any pumpkin pollen available.  This kind of thing happens in nature all the time.  Bees don't care which kind of flower they visit in what order, so they deliver different species pollen at least sometimes, especially when the plants are in such close proximity to each other.

If these pumpkins reach maturity, they will be just that: pumpkins.  If I were to plant the seeds from these pumpkins, and they were viable, they would produce a pumpkin/spaghetti squash hybrid, which would be really interesting.  I'm going to do that, if ...

The spaghetti squash is really close to being harvest-ready, which is good, because I'm seeing my sis soon, and I need to give her one.  Yes, I need.  Also good is the fact that I don't have to deal with preserving pumpkins and spaghetti squash in the same week.

My poor little zucchini plant doesn't quite know what to do with itself now that its out from under the tyranny of the tomatoes.  It currently has 4 maturing fruits on it, and many more female flowers developing.  Not sure if that's good for it.

The honeydews, although smaller than the honeydews I'm used to, seem to not be getting any bigger, which is kind of a sign that they're done growing.  Just...kind of.  I keep thumping them to see if they sound hollow (even though I've heard it's a myth that you can tell melon-ripeness by listening to the thump), and they do not.  So they're going to stay on the vines for a bit longer.

My watermelons continue to grow.  One is about the size of a softball, the other is just a little bigger than a golf ball.

As I stand and gaze upon my melons and those three baby pumpkins, I find my thoughts straying to substantial, straight sticks and clear plastic and building a hot house.  I am not aware of any clear plastic currently on our property, but let's just say there might be some soon.  Note to self: check Menards ad for clear plastic.

And then there's these.  Gonna have to deal with them soon, that is, if the deer don't get them first.  We have a mama deer who has perfected a two-legged stance.  She stands on her back legs and knocks the apples off for her babies (twins--so cute).

What's growing at your house?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The chewing gum conspiracy

It started with Extra Dessert Delights Apple Pie flavor.

I had always been a purist when it came to gum flavors.  A purely mint or bubble gum flavor kinda girl.  Until one fateful day when I tried this new apple pie flavored gum.

I didn't expect to like it, and in fact, it took a while for me to decide I did.  But once I passed that threshold, I was hooked.  Apple pie became my favorite gum flavor, and I was rarely without it.

And then one day, without warning, I couldn't find it anymore.  I kept looking, day after day, week after week, while my supply was steadily dwindling down to nothing.

Eventually, I had to face the truth: Wrigley's had discontinued my favorite flavor.  The search was on to find my new favorite.

It was another one I didn't expect to like, lemon square, but something about the spike of tart lemon flavor followed by a wave of sweetness spoke to me.  I had found my new favorite gum.

And then do you know what happened?  

They discontinued it.

Next was peach cobbler.  Discontinued.  I'm starting to take this personally.  Every time I find and declare a new favorite gum, Wrigley's discontinues it.  And it's happening faster and faster each time.

This time, I was savvy.  I found a new favorite, but was careful to not express the true nature of my relationship to the gum.  In fact, I went out of my way, on several occasions, to tell various people (and therefore Wrigley's, who I'm sure has me bugged) that it was just OK, and definitely not my favorite.  I reasoned that, if Wrigley's didn't know it was my favorite, they wouldn't discontinue it.
It hasn't been discontinued yet, because I can still find it on Extra's flavor page, but the last several times I've attempted to buy my new favorite, I haven't been able to find it on the shelves.  

I think they might be able to read my mind.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Menu plan for the week of September 14

Well, here I am, plugging away at my September menu plan.  I'm looking at this weeks' meals and wondering if I'm being overly optimistic to think that I'm actually going to be serving dinner 7 times this week.  Yup, it's gonna be another one of those kind of weeks.  Thank goodness our Wednesday activities haven't started up yet.

Here's what's on the menu this week (compare to week 3 of the plan):

Next Monday:



Yup.  I'm definitely being overly optimistic.  What's cooking at your house this week?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Art of Losing Yourself: A Review

To the outside world, TV meteorologist Carmen Hart has it all together.  Inside, she's drowning in grief, mourning for the child she fears she may never bear.  She's lost herself, and is in the process of losing her faith and her marriage as well.  In the midst of all this loss, Carmen's seventeen year old run-away half sister, Gracie, shows up, and Carmen takes her in.

Gracie is also drowning, in her own way, abandoned emotionally by her alcoholic mother, and physically by her absent half-sister.

Katie Ganshert masterfully steers her characters, and her readers, through real-life, heart-breaking issues of infertility, miscarriage, marital problems, mental breakdowns, alcoholism, dementia, and teenage angst.  The characters are real and broken, but woven throughout all this heartbreak are grace and hope.

I loved this book--it was hard to put down.  And the end?  Was perfect.

Bottom line: this book is not about easy answers, but you will encounter grace and hope in its pages.

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher through Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Please visit our advertisers