Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Meet Victor......

It is with great pleasure and almost unrestrained giddiness that I introuduce you to Victor......Victor Vita Mix for the sake of formality. Victor arrived under the Christmas tree this year by way of my loving and wonderful husband aka The Principal.
Oh Victor, I have dreamed of the day when you and I would meet together in the kitchen.....and now at last here you are!!!Tall, dark, handsome and Oh! SO Strong.....what more could a gal look for in her kitchen ? I have no doubt not even for a moment that you and I will become quite a pair making beautiful healthy edible delights together ;-) Perhaps I have y'all a little concerned need not worry dear ones, all is well with my soul (and mind too for that matter - well mostly)......if you question me, you have never met a member of Victor's family. I would suggest you do - you will understand.
We name things, it is a quirky family thing that we get way too much pleasure out of, so yesterday morning while I was preparing a spectacular green smoothie breakfast for WonderBoy and myself and he commented that we needed to name the Vita Mix it took me mere seconds to dub our new acquisition "Victor". Indulge me while I explain....Victor is short for Victory which I plan to have this coming year over health issues, weight issues, lousy energy levels and not settling for less than God's Best!!! Victor is just one tool in the arsenal which will aide my family and I to walk in the Victory that Our Father's Word promises us.
Victor's arrival is perfectly timed with a new year on the horizon, a 21 day church wide fast beginning January 10th and most importantly an overwhelming desire to get things right and claim God's promises for my life and that of my precious family.
I LOVE a new year, a fresh start, a clean slate and I am so excited about what 2011 will hold. Every year for the past 4 or 5 years God has given me a single word in prayer which represents what He holds for me in the year to come. I will share more on that with you soon, but for now I will tell you this - my 'word' for 2011 is awesome and one that we all need so I am going to resolve to do what I can to share it with you dear ones in the year ahead.
We are going to be adventure bound for the next few days and it is very likely that this will be my last post in 2010. I pray that each and every one of you have a blessed and prosperous New Year filled with God's marvelous grace, abundance and provision......
Come back and see me next year won't you please?
Oh one last thing........Sorry Charlie ........

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

I've noticed more and more photo cards in the mail each year......I love them. Here is one of the original models from 1966. The cards are very different, but the message is the same.......
Merry Christmas;-)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Weed Whacking 101

Can you believe it ? I found my way out and had to think for a moment until I remembered my password to log in and see how much Blogger had changed in the last month and then some. I feel funny with this window in front of me ......I started to head here many times in the past month and a half but something stopped me every time - that feeling of being overwhelmed mainly. Not that that is a unique feeling at this time of year - I just started a little early I suppose - must be the over achiever in me huh? lol
Are you even a little bit curious about how I found my way back out of the weeds? Well I can't claim to be completely free of them in all honesty, but I did make it this far and the fine looking piece of machinery pictured above had nothing to do with it. My greatest tool, weapon, piece of equipment, etc. was quite simply where I should have looked from the get go and where I should have been all along, for if I had, the weeds would have been nothing more than passing scenery...............simple right? Obvious I know, bad did things have to get before I was clutching in desperation to the instruction manual I needed from the Maker of my soul? They got bad , and they didn't get better right away either. I was running on fumes, fumes of fumes perhaps. I don't even know how or why it started I just know that I wasn't aware of it until I was pretty far gone - not the point of no return, because if we are in Him there is no such place - PTL, but I bet I was a block or two away.
When I did some soul searching and followed the advice of a reader by laying it all out to God and asking Him which things He would have me do, some things no longer seemed as critical, I was able to draw a deeper slower breath on occasion.
I was still praying and getting in the word sporadically, but not every day, when I made the commitment to do just that - every day, when I humbled myself and laid it at His feet every day, that was when I felt the shift and the change taking place.
We know what we need to do and I have asked it out loud more times than I could count - Why is it so hard to do the things that we know are good for us ? I don't have the answer other than to say that the ruler of this place in which we dwell is the enemy of our soul and he does not desire our best, he will in fact do everything he can to steal, kill and destroy John 10:10.
For now, I am giving Thanks, I am working on getting filled, refueled, recharged and ready for the excitement and blessings that the next few weeks of Christmas and New Years will hold.
May I make a suggestion.......don't allow yourself to fall prey to the busyness and pressures that are rampant at this time of year - make time for Him and with Him every day, you will find that if you do, He will make sure you have time to do all you need to and maybe even a little time for some of the wants as well ;-)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

In The Weeds.....

Several years ago now a woman who worked for me part time was going through menopause which she described as "being in the weeds", although I am certainly at an age that makes me potentially eligible for that wonderful time of life, I don't claim it, I do however admit to being in the weeds.......that's where I have been as some of you have emailed to ask. I don't know what happened - one day everything was going along at it's normal pace of chaos and then BAM! I found myself tangled up in the weeds!
Does this ever happen to you? What do you do to get out ? I have been struggling to keep up....... school, blogging, parenting, taking proper care of myself, taking proper care of my sweet husband, books on loan from the library to read, letters to be written and just my responsibilities in general, not to mention the long long list of things I would love to have the time to pursue.
So....... I am physically weary and emotionally drained and feel defeated before the day really begins because my 'To Do List' is longer than I have time to really read and process. I would love to tell you I have it together and will be back up and running and you can look forward to a myriad of wonderful posts in the days ahead......I really would love to tell you is the truth......I have lots of pictures taken and have lots of things to share. I have been baking Artisan Bread - WOW is all I can say about that right now. We have been on more field trips, we took a civil war train ride this past weekend, bought a new to us vehicle the weekend before that which we went to another state to get. I had a wonderful phone call from an old high school friend the day after my birthday which is still giving me cause to smile, I survived my birthday and yesterday we celebrated The Principal's birthday, did I mention I have been baking Artisan Bread?? (btw - has anyone ever had a Pampered Chef Pizza Stone crack in the oven while baking???) I have been cleaning and cooking and running errands and being a wife and mother and neighbor and friend and I am running on empty. Through it all I have to remember that I am a child of the King and in Him I live and breath and have my being and in all of this there are some wonderful stories of victory which I also want to share.....God is good - SO GOOD and without Him I would have nothing but defeat to share. I have a testimony over fear to share and plans for Thanksgiving in Virginia with family to prepare for and a giveaway to post and on and on.
So tell me, where shall I begin? What do you want to know about most, see pictures of and what wonderful pearls of wisdom can you offer.....oh and I have a new to us vehicle to name!! Cars in our family must have names, this is mandatory. We have had this vehicle over a week and she/he remains nameless - we have tried a few out for size but none are sticking......Bella didn't work, Pearl was not the one, Lily is next on the list.......Lucy and Chuck are in the driveway patiently waiting for the name of the new white big shot that just took over the garage......the list goes on.......oh and by the way....can anyone recommend a good non-toxic weed killer??? ;-)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Your Patience is Appreciated

Friends, Bloggers, Followers, Lurkers and anyone else who is here, please forgive my rather sudden drop off from the face of my blog. I have much to share but time right now will not afford me the luxury of sharing it all. The enemy has been hard at work to steal, kill and destroy - I am standing in my victory!!!

Adding to that I spent Sunday and Monday at the hospital with a very dear friend who had a heart attack and is making arrangements to have open heart surgery - your prayers are appreciated ;-)

On the brighter side.....I have the giveaway figured out and need only the time to catch you all up and get organized. I love you all and seek your prayers as I walk through this round!!

Oh and by the way....Happy Birthday to me ;-)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Birthday Week - Day 2

Yesterday, I eluded to something wonderful that happened and promised that I would fill you in on it today. Those of you who know me personally or have been following my blog for any length of time know by now that my heart is in the country and anything relating to it. I have spent the last few years training myself and learning skills that I hope will help my transition to country living a little easier when at last we have a rural address.
To that end, this year we are doing 4H Club, this I think will be great for WonderBoy in getting him acclimated a little to what to expect in the country and for me well it really is a bonus as I get to hang out during the class and tag along on the field trips ;-) We spent yesterday afternoon at a farm just north of the city learning about how the farm functions day to day as well as being introduced to the animals that live there. They had lots of cats and dogs, chickens, a friendly rooster, sheep, an angora goat, horses and cows!! I love cows!! They have those big sweet soulful eyes and they give us wonderful milk and delicious beef. Those cows were mooing up a storm - it made me smile from my toes on up! But what really did it for me, what really put me over the top was this.......I got to milk a cow!!! A real live cow, real milk in a real milking bucket and everything!!! And I did it!! I was nervous at the thought but knew that I needed to suck it up and fight the fear - I mean how will I ever be a 'country girl' if I can't milk a cow!!!! And so I did ;-) I had a little shaky start until I got a feel for it as it were - I was pulling where I should have been squeezing - sorry Mrs. Cow, you were very gracious and patient with me. WonderBoy also gave it a go without any thought of hesitation - although he did not control his excitement as well as his mother. This is a skill that will come with age I pray ;-) The puppies were a big draw - let me tell you this boy needs a dog and we have promised one when we get moved. He is so crazed to have a canine side kick that I am pretty sure he will be asking when are we going to get his dog before the moving truck is unloaded!! The Principal is having good fun being sweet and showering me with Birthday Week attention - a girl could certainly adjust to this daily show of love and affection ;-) This morning he woke me again (he gets up earlier without an alarm daily, I love to get up early but need a little assistance which my dear husband is kind enough to supply), lots of sweet soft kisses to wake me (I know it's a little TMI - but that is what he did!!) and while the restroom was clear of surprises - this was waiting on the island in the kitchen. I know what you are thinking - a basting brush?? I was thrilled, truly! I have really wanted one of these swanky silicone types - and it's red - my favorite color, and it's shiny - shiny makes me happy too!! And another sweet handmade with a lots of love card - I am so grateful for this man!! I am certainly one of the lucky ones!!! Perhaps this will further explain my delight........ That pretty much wraps it up for today. There is no telling what Day 3 of Birthday Week will hold in store, but I will certainly check in and let you know as the week progresses. Thanks for dropping in and sharing my week with me!! Be sure to stop back in before the week is over - I am working on a giveaway, after all I can't be the only one getting goodies this week, I feel the need to pay it forward. I'm not entirely sure what I'm doing yet and when it will be ready, but it's looking good for the 19th though ;-)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Birthday Week Begins ....... A Testimony of Victory

Birthdays are supposed to be happy, joy filled, celebratory times right? That is what I have always thought, a time to celebrate and honor, to embrace those we love. I LOVE to make a big deal over the birthday of a loved one, but oh no - not mine - do not make a fuss over me!! So it has been for the majority of my adult life. My birthday which is a week today has been a season of much stress, anxiety and sadness in my home for many years. My poor husband has tried and tried and tired to get it right. He didn't know and for a long time, I didn't either that he was doomed to fail no matter what he did. Stay with me, the story has a happy ending, but I need to dig a little deep to get there.
A few weeks back I posted Laying the Foundation this was the beginning of what I hope will be many more getting real and exposing the darkness to light posts. There is no question that He is calling me out of the darkness and into his marvelous light that I may proclaim His praises(1Peter 2:9) and give testimony to His goodness and powers of transformation in my life!!.......I'm going to bare a little here so if you don't want to know more than you already do.....this is a good stopping point ;-)
Several years ago now I began a wonderful journey through a ministry that I was introduced to at our church. Elijah House Prayer Ministry Training, brought me to an opportunity and a place in my life that I had never been before. Through the prayer counseling/training I was in a safe and loving environment where I felt the freedom to confront things that I had kept safely buried and hidden for in some cases most of my life. The healing that took place each time I attended a retreat/training weekend was unlike anything I had ever experienced. One weekend in particular we had attended the Friday night sessions and it was during one of those talks that something was mentioned relating to birthdays and sadness. Well my radar was bleeping big time!! My internal metal detector was deafening. The speaker talked about how some people struggle terribly around their birthdays and so we should know to ask questions like - What were the circumstances surrounding your birth? Was it planned? Happily anticipated? What kind of pregnancy did your mother have? What were the circumstances of your conception - relate these to the time of year they took place etc. - you get the idea. Due to of all the sad, secretive and just plain unpleasant circumstances surrounding my birth, I knew that this was something I needed to examine and have broken off me, and ultimately seek healing for through prayer. Well, I know now, that I must be one of His favorites, because that very same evening after most everyone had turned in for the night, the ministry house was quiet and myself and one other woman were the only ones still up. We talked and through conversation ended up discussing the sadness and struggles that I had always felt around my birthday. I was not planned, not wanted, nor was I happily anticipated - no wonder I had such a hard time embracing the whole "it's my birthday, let's celebrate me" mind set. This dear lady asked if she could she pray for me and with me, I was grateful for the opportunity to address this issue so soon after the light bulb had gone on. One of the things that had been suggested in the talk earlier in the evening was that, when working with someone who had issues surrounding their birth, to join with them before the Lord ask Him to show the person where He was at the time of their birth, what was His perspective of things. While she prayed a picture began to form in my mind, there was a painted cinder block wall in the delivery room, which Jesus broke through and He walked directly over to the delivery table and took me from the Doctor, cradled me in His arms out in front of His body and He was smiling the most marvelously brilliant smile I have ever witnessed, He sang to me , but not in words, more in emotions - it was stunning!! He slowly and joyfully and effortlessly danced around the delivery room with me in His arms, looking into my eyes with more love than I have ever known . I was so filled with His joy and love for me. I wept and wept but not from sadness, I immediately felt the absolute love and joy and knew the healing that had taken place through this prayer vision was what I had been seeking without even knowing I needed it!!

This experience was in the early Spring so when Fall rolled around, I was anxious to see how I would handle myself as my birthday drew nearer. I prayed and prayed and called out the enemy telling him in no uncertain terms that I was worthy of celebration and that he would no longer rob me of the joy and pleasures associated with turning another year older. He had the first 44 years, birthdays 45 onward belonged to me and my Creator!! So it was this time last year, a week before my birthday and I was armed with knowledge and healing and the joy of the Lord was my strength, the enemy was not invited to my party. I even did a little extra celebrating, starting about a week ahead with a good old fashioned night out with the girls dinner with my Mama Leisha Girls and several other events as the week went on. I did well and was happy and having fun!!

I am pleased to report that my 45th birthday was delightful!! I spent the day in Tennessee with The Principal and WonderBoy, we went to Falls Mill, letterboxed in and around Lynchburg, TN where we had a wonderful lunch on the square in at a neat down home BBQ spot. We drove around the countryside and even stopped at a place on Hwy 64 in Belvidere, TN called Swiss Pantry - I love to go there and get home baked Amish Cowboy Cookies!! We stopped on the way home and picked up some yummy deli salads, olives and crusty bread and had a picnic at home for dinner, we did gifts and my guys got me a cake that said Happy Birthday Princess/Mom on it - of course I cried!! It was a fabulous day.

Well this year, The Principal is excited that he can celebrate without fear of repercussion or certain failure, so much so that we have been joking about "Birthday Week" for sometime now. This morning, he woke me at 6am with a sweet kiss, told me the coffee was ready and a cheerful "Happy Birthday Week Honey" and after we made up the bed he said he would see me downstairs for coffee. When I walked into the restroom to do my morning business, this is what I of my very favorite things in the whole wide wonderful world is when my sweet husband makes me a card (especially if he draws a picture or scene of some sort- they are my favorite of the favorites) or writes me a note, so all by itself the note/card would have put a smile on my face and a tear in my eye. The fact that I am out of good body lotion and dry skin season is ready to jump into high gear is a fabulous bonus. And I have to tell you.....something almost as wonderful as this happened later today, but I'll wait and share that with you tomorrow - Birthday Week has begun ;-) I'm celebrating that My Father in Heaven loves me and regardless of what the circumstances were that gave me life, He celebrates me and that is more than enough good reason for me to put on a smile and join Him!!
Psalm 27:10 tells us ....
Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.
...... and He did ..... with a joyous smile, pure love and we danced ;-)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Homemade Laundry Soap Tutorial

This is one of those posts that I have been meaning to get around to for some time now, the delay has been that I don't have to make laundry soap often and so, the window of opportunity is small. One of the many wonderful things about homeschooling is it offers so many opportunities to teach Life Skills on a daily basis. So while I set WonderBoy loose to make his first batch of laundry soap I was on hand to oversee and guide and captured the process to share with you ;-) I have to admit, the idea of making my own laundry soap was for a long time, intriguing but a little bizarre and even intimidating. I have not purchased laundry soap now for 2 plus years and cannot imagine any reason why I would at this point. The benefits of making your own laundry soap far out weigh any reasons to purchase it for me. I know what is in it, I can add the fragrance I like to the degree to which my family enjoys it, I reuse the same containers over and over again and it costs pennies to make as opposed to the $15 per bottle I would be paying at the store for the same amount or less - pretty much a no brainer!! For me the most difficult part of making homemade laundry soap is finding a store locally that carries the ingredients. I can sometimes get borax at Walmart but have a hard time finding washing soda, when Kroger had it last week I bought 2 boxes - I am good to go for a while now.
1/3 to 1 whole bar soap
(this is preference - I have used as little as 1/3 of a bar with good results, but I tend to use a whole bar most times - I live with guys who work and play hard - any kind will do)
1 cup washing soda
1/2 cup borax
3 gallons/4 cups warm water
1. Begin by pouring 4 cups of water into a medium sized pot to boil.
2. While waiting for your water to boil grate as much soap as you plan to use, this can be done by hand or in a food processor - your choice. If using a hand grater watch your flesh!!
3. By the time you are finished grating your water should be boiling, add grated soap to pot and stir until dissolved fully. This will take a few minutes and some pretty consistent stirring, the smell can be very strong at the point so if you are sensitive to that kind of this you may want to seek the aid of a designated stirrer ;-) The mixture will be cloudy and milky looking when all the soap is dissolved.
4. Now using a small pail or drink pitcher add 3 gallons of warm/hot water to a 5 gallon bucket. The bucket we use is perfect for this job and used exclusively for laundry soap - it has measurements on the bucket and a foam grip to make moving the heavy full bucket no big deal - look for one like this - you will be glad you did. We probably got it at Home Depot, maybe Lowe's.
5. Now add your pot of soapy brew to the 5 gallon bucket. You will have a bucket of milky soapy water, not to worry this is how it should look - the magic comes later ;-)
6. Next, add 1 cup of washing soda and stir for 2 minutes with a large long handled strong spoon - you need to get the bottom of the bucket and edges in the stirring process so a small serving spoon won't work.
7. Once your washing soda is dissolved and well mixed in, add 1/2 cup of borax and stir for 2-3 minutes to dissolve and mix well.
8. At this point you can add your fragrance if you so desire. We love good smelling things at our house and so I like to add a little extra yummy smell - this time I chose a sandalwood amber fragrance oil that I got at the Dollar Tree - you can use essential oils but that would drive your cost up considerably - for something like this I am perfectly happy using Dollar Tree fragrance oil - it's up to you ;-)
9. Give it one final really great and wonderful stir.
10. Pop the lid on tight and let it sit overnight.
This is where the magic happens. In the morning you will open your bucket to 3 gallons of gelled glop - it will smell great, it will clean your clothes but the consistency will be a little watery and a gloppy - that is perfectly ok!
I transfer mine to a pour spout container that I keep above my washing machine for easy peasy dispensing when it's laundry time. Use 1/2 cup per load or the measure out in the plastic cup that came on one of those expensive store bought laundry bottles that you will never have to buy again - they work great ;-) I have used the same one for years and take great satisfaction in knowing that I will never buy another one again!!
So there you have it! Easy as can be, fun to make and best of all it's frugal and it works....what are you waiting for? Check your hair, jump in the car and run out and get the ingredients that you don't have on hand now!! If you have what you need to make this you should not even be reading this part!!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Busy as Bees

We have been.....busy as bees. We have been on the run and out and about the past couple of days - field trips!! After our field trip yesterday we truly understand just what that means too!! We spent a lovely fall (yes it seems to be here at last!!) morning in Hazel Green, Alabama with our 4H club learning about beekeeping from a sweet as honey beekeeper and his protege.Our tour began with a lesson on the life of bees and it was nothing less than fascinating. Mr. Dalton and David did a great job of making it make sense, they only just scratched the surface but left us wanting to know much more!! The Principal and I are always looking for potential revenue producing adventures that might be a good fit for our 'life on the farm days' post retirement......this just may be the bees knees ;-) There appears to be some 'sweet' potential ;-)

Have you ever tasted honey right from the hive? David scrapped a bit of wax away and let me have a taste - wow!! That is good stuff let me tell you!!

Next they walked us through the process of extracting the honey from the hives, cleaning the honey by putting it in the 'hot box' to warm the honey and allow any wax and debris (wings, legs, etc.) that might be in the honey to float to the top. The honey is then put into a large vat type apparatus where it is filtered further and ready for bottling. It is a pretty straight forward process the actual processing side of things that is.
The bees themselves are where the mystery, intrigue and fascination comes in. Mr. Dalton told us all about the habits, roles, life cycle and personalities of these amazing little creatures. I couldn't help but make the connection between the bees and the Character Building for Families study that we are doing in our devotional time, specifically the unit on Orderliness - God's hand is so incredibly obvious in the day to day lives of little wonders. After walking us through each step in the processing side of beekeeping we took a short stroll down a picturesque tree lined path to the back end of the property by a pond where the colonies are kept and maintained. David donned his beekeeper garb and showed us how to daze them a little with smoke so that he could get in the hive and show us the inner workings a little. The smoke tends to slow them down and create a 'groggy' state which allows for more ideal conditions in which to go about your bee business.
David was kind enough to pose for a photo to show off what every stylish beekeeper is wearing this fall! Our tour ended on The Dalton's back patio where Mr. Dalton answered questions and told stories while we were treated to Honey Tea and Cookies which Mrs. Dalton aka 'The Boss' was gracious enough to prepare for us - that is true southern hospitality y'all ;-) A sweet man, a beautiful fall day and homemade goodies, us homeschoolers have it made!! The wall hanging on the back porch of the Dalton's home sums it up.....

Monday, September 27, 2010

Speechless Cinnamon Rolls

I have test driven a few Cinnamon Roll recipes over the years and have never found one that made think I needed to stop trying others - this is the one ;-) It is a keeper and sharer for sure and for certain!!! WonderBoy crowned these 'Scrumptious' and I have had to keep a close on him around them lest they disappear quicker than they ought to !! AND if that is not enough it doubles as a hamburger bun recipe too and I would imagine with the right shaping could also lend itself to hot dog buns or submarine/hero sandwich type rolls as well (I have not yet tried these options - let me know if you do!)
4 to 5 cups flour ( I use 1/2 unbleached white and 1/2 fresh ground whole wheat)
2 TBS yeast
1 cup milk
3/4 cup water
1/2 oil
3 TBS honey
1 tsp salt

Cinnamon Rolls will require these additional ingredients......
1 stick or 1/2 cup butter
brown sugar
cinnamon sugar
powdered sugar

Mix 2 cups of flour with 2 TBS yeast in a large bowl. Heat water, milk, oil and honey in small saucepan until very warm, but not boiling. Pour into flour mixture and combine well. Start adding remaining flour until dough becomes soft and ready to knead. Knead briefly and let rest, covered with a damp dish towel for about 10 minutes. You now have 10 minutes to decide if you are making Hamburger Buns or Cinnamon Rolls - you really could do both if you want a smaller amount of each. This recipe would make enough for about 4 servings of each or 8 servings of one. You choose....

Hamburger Buns
Roll out dough on floured surfaced to a 1/2 inch thickness cut out buns with a large mason jar lid ring and let rise for 30 minutes on a greased baking sheet (get your damp dish towel out to cover again). Bake at 400 degrees for 12- 15 minutes or until nicely browned. If you wish, you can brush with a little melted butter and sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds before you pop them in the oven.

Cinnamon Rolls
Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to a large flat rectangle. In a small saucepan, melt a stick of butter and add enough brown sugar to create a paste type consistency - probably less than a cup but more than a 1/2 cup. Add a splash of vanilla if you like - we like so I do ;-) With the back of a large plastic spoon evenly spread the mixture over your rolled out dough right up to the edges. Sprinkle cinnamon ( as much or as little as you like) over top of butter/sugar paste. Roll dough across so you have a long roll and using a piece of thread - I use fishing line ;-) Slide the thread/line under the roll, cross over the top and pull for perfectly sliced rolls. Fill a greased pan and cover with dampened dish towel and allow to rise 30 minutes. Sprinkle a little cinnamon sugar on top right before they go in the oven, if you like before baking at 400 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes or until nicely browned around the edges.
If you like, you can make a little sweet goodness to drizzle on top of the cinnamon rolls when they come out of the a measuring cup or anything with a pour spout add about 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and about 1 TBS of milk - a little milk goes a long way- it will not seem like enough - it is. Whisk together until smooth and drizzle over your wonderful hot and yummy cinnamon rolls - grab a hot cup of coffee or a cold glass of milk and prepare yourself for quiet - there will not be much conversation taking place once the eating begins !!!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Prayer Box Sunday - Orderliness

It is a blessing to have the windows open today and the temperature below 90 degrees again!! I am sitting next to an open window and enjoying a slight breeze more cool than warm - Fall is teasing us here in North Alabama. Woo Hoo!!
This morning we shared our prayer time with some wonderful homemade cinnamon rolls (I will share the recipe soon - they were fantastic - I ran a plate across the street to a neighbor while they were still warm and they called in raves reviews a little while later), on the patio with a cup of flavored coffee, while several flocks of geese made themselves known as they honked and flapped on by - glorious!!
Last week WonderBoy was tasked to pray for my self worth - did you feel the shift that took place this week? It has been a little bizarre how it has all played out, but I seem to have found my 'voice' and I have to credit at least some of that to the prayers my sweet boy has been praying on my behalf!! This week......... look out Micheal H. you are the recipient of WonderBoy's prayer focus! The Principal has a fantastic prayer mission this week - he is seeking God to guide our family in the words we speak and how we speak them - wow we could rest on that topic alone for an extended post! As Christians, it is crucial that we have hearts that are soft and pliable and open to the teachings that will ultimately bring us in line with God's plans and purposes for our lives, this week my prayers will be directed at petitioning God on behalf of my family to give us hearts that willingly embrace His commands, hearts that seek to please Him.
Our family prayer this week is for a special neighbor friend of ours, a single mother who was diagnosed with brain cancer at the beginning of this year. She had surgery shortly after the diagnosis and then went through many weeks of radiation and chemo treatments that were necessary following. She still has weeks of chemo, but is now back at work and able to drive again after being restricted from doing so for 6 months. I spent a great deal of time with her and her mother during this time as their 'driver'. It is my prayer that she will one day be able to say she enjoying life as one of the healed of the Lord !
Our Character Building for Families has taken us on a journey of Orderliness this week. We have enjoyed our discussions about all the ways that God values and requires order and planning in our lives. We see miraculous orderliness all around us - how would it have been if on the first day of creation, God created the fish of the seas but had not yet created the seas that they needed to survive? We are to be good stewards of all He gives us, our time, resources, finances, talents, blessings, we should not ever squander nor hoard what the Lord provides to us in abundance. We are not promised tomorrow so today should be treasured and spent wisely - every day really is a gift!!
If you are new here and want to know more about Prayer Box Sunday - visit this post which will explain the game plan. If know the game plan and want to add your contribution you can do so by linking up below. I would not know what to do if that actually happened - LOL~!!!
By the way - stay tuned this week for a new giveaway announcement as well as the likelihood of Chapter 2.
I love you guys - thanks for stopping in, hope you have a BEAUTIFUL week!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Laying the Foundation - Chapter 1

I continue to pray for His leading in regard to what I am to share here and am committed to keeping my hands off this as much as possible. I have a strong sense that I am to share my testimony and that God will guide me along as it unfolds. So, with that in mind, it would seem the best place to start most things is at the beginning, so let's go back about 47 years then shall we? I will begin just prior to my arrival in the world......

My mother was the 2nd of 5 children raised by Depression era parents in the Toronto's west end. They were a typical Catholic family who attended church and Catholic school and observed the teachings of the Catholic church. Fish was served on Fridays and certain things were just not ever spoken of - there were many 'unwritten' rules. My grandmother's younger sister was a nun and the children were expected to walk the straight and narrow both at home and at school because the nuns had a network and news spread fast!! Being reared in this environment, certain things were expected of young men and women. Getting pregnant at 18 yrs. out of wedlock was not one of them!! My impeding arrival was not happy news.

My mother kept her secret for some time, but as you know there are some secrets that tell on themselves - I was one of those. My mother was 'sent away' to nanny for a family at a safe distance from possible detection and family shame. Much of the story I am telling you has been pieced together here and there from various sources over the years, this was not something anyone cared to talk to me about much and I never knew why until about a year ago, but I'm getting ahead of myself. she went to be cloistered away until the blessed event. My father was not involved at this point. My mother always told me that he was very jealous and controlling and because of this she did not reveal her condition to him, rather, ended the relationship. She feared a forced marriage and so his identity was not public knowledge either. Time passed and during a Thanksgiving gathering at the home where my mom was entrusted she was busily assisting the lady of the house with various hospitality related tasks when she became aware of pain that continued most of the afternoon. It wasn't until the guests were gone and clean up was under way that the "Mrs." was aware of the pain my mother was having which she correctly diagnosed as labor and my mom was taken to the hospital.
This is where the story gets a little confusing, not all versions line up. I will tell you the one my mother told me and then we can move on from there....sound reasonable? OK - Good. After my birth my mother and I went to live in a rooming house where my mother was allowed to stay as the resident housekeeper in exchange for our room and board. We stayed here while 'the family' figured some things out and made some decisions. Several months passed in this manner and finally it was decided that we would return to my grandparents home with the understanding that I would be introduced to family, friends, neighbors and everyone in general as a 'Foster Child' that the family was taking in. I know - hard to imagine but it happened all the time in those days. My mother and I moved home and daily life resumed. My mother was working so my care fell to my grandmother and aunt, who was still in high school, while my mother was at work. As the story goes, my mother was not at all happy about the big lie that she was being expected to live. It was not uncommon for her and I to be ushered out of the house on Sundays when visitors would frequently come calling. One Sunday however it seems a little Divine Intervention took place and it just so happened that my mother was feeding me at the kitchen table in a clear line of sight from the front door when my great grandparents arrived unannounced. Great Grandma Amy took one look at me and said "Oh Anne, she's beautiful ! Whose baby is she?" In a moment of unbridled defiance my mother looked her straight in the eye and said simply "She's mine". "Let me finish feeding her" was all my great grandmother said and that was it the secret was out! I can only imagine some of the conversations that took place behind closed doors in the days following!!

This is my beautiful Great Grandmother, Amy - she was a real lady born in England no less and known far and wide for her 'naturally wavy hair' - she was proud of it ;-) Also in the picture are my uncles, Peter is the eldest of the 5 children and Gerry, the youngest who is just 10 years older than me - he was more like an older brother for me growing up. This picture was likely taken on a holiday gathering of some sort, very possibly Christmas and I was just a little over a year old here.

I will continue on from here next time and absolutely welcome any questions or comments. If I am missing something and not piecing things together clearly please call me on it and keep me straight - this is going to be an emotional journey and I may miss some things that would seem obvious. By the way - just to pique your interest there is much drama that will unfold in the chapters to come!!

I will say this much, when I look at the sweet little girl in the picture above, I ache for her, I long to comfort her through what lies ahead and see so clearly as I look back from this day to that one how wonderfully and graciously God's hand has been on her, protecting her and guiding her along so that I might draw from all the experiences, trials, joys and pain and potentially help just one........

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Chewing On It

I haven't posted for the last few days because I have been chewing on what I want to say and how to say it. I don't think I'm there yet, but I want to try to articulate at least a little of what is going on between my ears. Here's the thing.....I feel like I am being pulled in a new direction, one that is way out of my comfort zone and I'm not at all sure how to start or how it will be received - by you. SO...I thought today I would share a little of what is rumbling around in my spirit lately and try and get some feedback from you dear readers.

I desire to be transparent and pull back the curtain that I have been hiding behind (that I think most of us hide behind), you know that one I am talking about, the one that is more flattering to our unsightly bulges and less than appealing flaws - let's be real - we all have them. I think by keeping them under wraps I/we are giving them way too much power and I think it is time that I/we learn to take some risks and be real with each other. News flash - alert the media - I struggle !! Ok - take a deep breath and get a hold of yourself - it's true I do. I struggle to hold my tongue, I struggle to keep a loving attitude at all times, I struggle to do what is right and good, I struggle to be the kind of wife and mother that I really want to be. I struggle to find the good in others at times, but mostly in myself at all times. I struggle to feel I have value, that I do anything well and the list goes on. I understand the reasons behind some of these struggles, for many of them have been my companions for many, many years, but of course knowing does not always lead to immediate healing, it is a journey.
For me it has been a long one - 46 years in just a few weeks. I have some things surrounding my upcoming birthday that I would like to share as well, that will come in another post or maybe even a mini series (that makes me smile) of posts.
I will still post a recipe, offer a homeschool thought or share a letterboxing adventure, but I am thinking about introducing a new element that I have only touched on briefly here and there. Getting real, getting personal and talking about hard things, tender topics - all the things that are the real reasons behind the name of this blog His Grace Alone. It is by His grace alone that I am able to sit here in my comfortable home, while married to a wonderful man and homeschool my only son and share anything with you at all. I am scared of what you are thinking right now, curious if you will even respond and very hopeful that there are a few kindred souls out there that feel the same way I do, who will step forward to join me.
I would LOVE IT if you would leave a comment if you took the time to read this far and give me your honest thoughts and ideas, topics of interest etc. I really would love for this to be more of a blessing to others, than therapy for me!!

Monday, September 20, 2010

India Bound!!

Have you ever wanted to travel with your children but for a variety of reasons, finances, logistics etc. it is just easier to stay home and put it on your 'to do' list for down the road some? Me too.....however, the other day I was fortunate to find out about an opportunity to visit India with WonderBoy without even worrying about passports or packing !! I thought this was such a wonderful and unique opportunity I had to share it with you!!
Mission India is teaming up with Sonlight Curriculum to impact the nation of India with the Gospel. Passport to India is an invitation to families to participate in a 5 week adventure into exploring India in a close up and personal way, as well as blessing to be a part of something unique and wonderful. Sonlight has promised to match donations up to $167,000 to help bring the Bible to the children of India. I was stunned when I read the number of 400+ million people in India being unreached!! In our happy little Christian community here in the the United States that is hard to even get your head around isn't it? Well, it didn't take me long to figure out that this was an opportunity that I didn't want to see missed. Mission India and Sonlight are asking participating families to collect their loose change during the 5 week journey and for every dollar collected one boy or girl will attend a Children's Bible Club where they will have the incredible opportunity that our kids take for granted on a daily basis - to learn about the love of Jesus!! This is win win win. I have already signed up to receive our Welcome Kit and am thinking about what kinds of things we can do between now and then to prepare in prayer and otherwise. Every time I look at the site I find myself in tears (it's not hormones). God has placed this tenderness in our hearts for His little ones, those that know Him and those that need to know Him - especially those that NEED HIM!! We are to be His hands and feet and we can use our mouses and loose change to do it!!

Passport Trailer 1280 from Josh Visser on Vimeo.

I am going to find some wonderful jar, bottle, box (here I go with containers again??) and make sure it is ready in time to begin October 5th. Pray about this and consider joining us......we all have spare/loose change and it really could change lives!!

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father
and of the Son andof the Holy Spirit,
and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Matthew 28: 19-20

I will be sharing more as we go along this adventure- I really hope you will consider joining us in blessing these precious little ones!!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Prayer Box Sunday

Another Sunday.....another prayer box post. If you want to know more read about what it is and how you can participate here. This Sunday we have a mixed bag or in this case box of prayers. Our family prayer focus for the week ahead is for The Principal's job - a blessing that in this day and time and economy we do not take for granted!! We are conscious to thank God and ask for continued favor in the marketplace on a continuing basis, our prayer focus this week will cause us to delve in to details and dig a little deeper into our prayers.
Speaking of The Principal, his prayer focus this week may be a bit of a challenge for him, but he will rise to the challenge of that I have no doubt and be found faithful in what he has been tasked to do - he will be praying for the family of my former husband (WonderBoy's dad)....God has such a great sense of humor doesn't He?? ;-)
WonderBoy is praying for me this week - some of you who know me may be shocked and surprised to know that I have struggled with self worth over the years (keep the laughter down to a dull roar girls - you know who you are). WonderBoy has pulled the slipped that says 'Mom's Self Worth' so that is his prayer mission for the week - big project for a young man - I have faith his prayers will be a huge blessing to me!!
And last but not least, me - prayers this week again focus on people we know - I am seeing this pattern weekly lately. I will be praying for my dear sweet wonderful sister friend Jess and her family in Virginia. This will be a pleasure and an honor for me. It may even get her to participate in this little adventure with me.....pressure huh friend? ;-)
Well that wraps it up for the week. Our devotional/bible study Character Building for Families continues to be a time we are looking forward to several times a week. We have completed the unit on Obedience (waiting for the harvest on that seed!!!) and have just today begun Orderliness - this one is going to be great - I am really looking forward to digging in deep on this topic.
Before I run I wanted to take a minute to share a post I read last night from a sweet sweet woman I had the good fortune of meeting at the CHEF (Christian Home Educators Fellowship) Conference in May of this year. Marsha's post about the not so often talked about side of parenting opens up a topic I have been thinking about lately and was considering delving into a little here...I'm curious to see if there might be an interest in opening up some dialogue...let me know if the comments section - oh and while you are on her blog, be sure to check out some of her wonderful recipes. I have tried several all with great results!! Thanks Marsha for being transparent and a good cook!!
Alrighty, I guess that about wraps it up for me today. Go and pray with your family and come back and link up with us and tell us all about what God is doing!!
Yay God!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bacon Onion Cheese Bread - Oh My!

I recently discovered a new site with an absolute mother load of amazing recipes- enough to make your head swim and just in time for fall baking ! Woo Hoo!! Mennonite Girls Can Cook is loaded with beautiful pictures and a fantastic selection of wonderful recipes. I have tried a few recipes and all have been top notch! This particular one was a last minute addition to dinner last night because it just needed more than what I had planned - one bite and WonderBoy declared it a keeper ;-)
This is the Onion Cheese Supper Bread recipe I started is what I actually did

Bacon Onion Cheese Round

  • 2 cups flour (1/2 whole wheat, 1/2 unbleached natural white)
  • 1 TBS baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt (garlic salt)
  • 1/4 cup mayo ( light)
  • 3/4 milk (1/2 of this was buttermilk)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 TBS melted butter
  • 1 small - medium onion sliced thinly
  • splash of olive oil
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar
  • 5 slices cooked turkey bacon
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary finely chopped
  1. Cook onion with a little olive oil in your favorite skillet.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together and add milk(s) egg and mayo.
  3. Mix in cheese and bacon.
  4. Place dough in a well greased 9" round pan spread out to even level with back of spoon.
  5. Top with sauteed onion, rosemary and a sprinkle or two of seasoning - I used a little "Johnny's Garlic Spread" - go with your mood and what's on hand and by all means feel free to add more cheese on top as well ;-)
Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes until brown and wonderful around the edges.

This lends itself wells to what's on hand and can easily be played around with to compliment whatever you are serving it with - think olives, thinly sliced tomatoes, parmesan cheese and a pasta dish , or go rustic and think soups and stews - easy peasy and oh so good !!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Love of Words.....Gratituesday

It's Tuesday and that means it's time to get your mind moving in grateful mode and look around and see all your blessings - choose one today and join us at Heavenly Homemakers to share what others are grateful for.
I love words, written, spoken, sung, you name it. I always have. Some of my earliest memories are of writing poetry for my Grandmother. As a child I had pen pals - fellow Bay City Roller fans (if you are still out there - email me and we can reminisce!!) and others ;-)
My Grandparents were 'Snow Birds' they flew the coop of the Canadian north every fall and spent the cold Ontario months in Florida. I wrote, they wrote. The letters from those days are among some of my most cherished possessions.
In college I made friendships with people from other areas and during summer breaks we would write letters and keep in touch - this was before email of course - college kids don't do that now I would venture to guess. These 'mail relationships' continued in some cases for many many years - it was over 20 years ago now my college days......sigh.....
Well in recent years sadly, there has not been much letter writing. That was until about a year and a half ago when I was trying to come up with ways to get my 'reluctant writer' writing. Every kids loves mail and so I set myself about the task of finding WonderBoy some pen pals. It worked beautifully - in fact he is always on the look out for more - he has even adopted one of mine!! But I am getting ahead of myself a the process of getting him up and running in his new hobby I reflected on how much letter writing had always been a part of my life and how I missed it. I decided to try and find some kindred souls and ignite the love of letter writing in my life again.
I am so grateful I did. I have about an handful of faithful and wonderful letter writing friends who have brought so much joy to my life in the past year or so! There is Cathy in Illinois - WonderBoy has adopted her as 'Grandma' even though she is just a 'Spring Chicken' ;-), Lynne in Maine is a sweet and dear kindred spirit, Rebekah in Wisconsin is a lovely young lady who makes me smile, Kathy in Tennessee has taught me much about soap making and goat raising. The friendships that have grown between letters is a blessing beyond mere 'words'. A phone call last week from one of these dear ladies lifted my spirits for days when they were low and that was the purpose of the call ;-) We exchange laughter, recipes, tips and funny stories, books, tea bags, photos, bookmarks, crafts, ideas, instructions, encouragement but most of all love - for that I am so very very grateful.
Want to know more about finding a pen pal - let me is a lost art that the world would be well served to revive!!

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