Friday, December 21, 2012

New Things for a New Year

It has most assuredly been a long long time since I have stopped in here to touch much has been going on and as a result, I am launching a new blog.  I may still share a little here from time to time, that is yet to be determined.  My plans are to have my new baby up and running and fully functioning with the beginning of the new year.  I may post a little between now and then as time or leading allows, in any case, I wanted to formally invite you to visit my new home on the web.  Testimony in Progress will be a place where real reigns and sharing some of the hard things that God has graciously walked and loved me through is part of the fabric of my purpose. I want to dig deeper and work with you toward helping each other find healing and truth and most of all victory over what the enemy seeks to steal kill and destroy in our lives! I hope there will be something there that will keep you coming back - I miss you and I have so MUCH I want to share with you.  God is moving and you know how exciting and unexpected things can become in those circumstances.  Do come see me.....and say hello, as always, your comments and notes are a huge blessing! 
In the meantime, my heartfelt wishes to you and yours that this CHRISTmas is filled with the goodness and glory of our precious Lord and savior and that your time with family and friends is treasured and plentiful!
Merry CHRISTmas!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sheepherder's Bread

I wanted to share one of my staple recipes with you today. My favorite, tried and true bread recipe. This is the one I make over and over, for sandwiches, toast or sliced thick with butter to pair with a steaming hot bowl of homemade soup or stew.   There is nothing like fresh from the oven home baked bread and wow does it make the house smell g-double o- d good!
This recipe makes four loaves and I always like to bless someone with a loaf whenever I make it.  Last week it was my hairdresser, who was planning on BLT sandwiches for dinner that night - I love when things work out that way!  Wonderboy's music teacher, The Principal's co-workers and several neighbors have been happy recipeints as well.  If you are local let me know if you'd like a loaf and it can most assuredly be arranged ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                             Sheepherder's Bread  

3 cups warm water
1/2 cup oil (olive/safflower/coconut oil or combination - anything goes ;-))
1/2 cup honey
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons yeast
9 cups flour
(I typically use 1/2 unbleached white and 1/2 fresh ground prairie gold wheat)
2 tablespoons melted butter

Combine the water, oil, honey, salt and yeast in a large mixing bowl.  Stir to dissolve the yeast.  Allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes (sponge) to proof the yeast.  Add 7-8 cups of flour.  Turn out onto floured surface and knead.  Add flour as needed (dough gets very sticky).  Knead for 10 minutes (by hand - if you have a Bosch or other mixture, knead for 8 minutes).  Put dough into a greased bowl to rise.  Cover with a clean towel.  Let rise until double.  Punch dough down.  Let rise until almost double.  Punch down again.  Form into loaves or rolls.  Let rise until double.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until tests done. Remove from pans and place on cooling racks, brush crust with melted butter.
*For raisin bread, I add 2 tablespoons cinnamon and 1 cup raisins(soak in warm water and drain and pat dry prior to adding in.
**  I buy the plastic bowl covers ( we call them party hats here) that come in 3 sizes at The Dollar Tree and use these instead of dishtowels - they work great if you put them on the bowl to rise in the oven with the oven light one and then one on each pan after you form into loaves.

This can easily be made into dinner rolls as well.

Yields 4 loaves or 2 loaves and 1 1/2 dozen rolls.

Do you have a stand by favorite bread you make?  Let me know if you try this recipe and how it turns out for you.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Garden Food.....Tomato Corn Salad

The garden has started to produce and the meals we are eating are reflecting the bounty we are enjoying.  Most meals around our house lately include a plate of sliced tomatoes and  cucumbers - so good with a sprinkle of salt or pepper!  Last night I tried a new recipe I had seen on Pinterest for Buttermilk Grilled Chicken and wanted something to go with it.  This Tomato Corn Salad was just the ticket.  I shared some with my neighbor and she called to say she wanted the recipe, that her 14 yr.old grandson was drinking the juice from the bowl!

Tomato Corn Salad

3 good sized tomatoes, chopped
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/3 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tabelspoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 cups fresh corn (about 9 ears of corn) - I used frozen
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
Optional - chopped olives, sweet bell/hot peppers or celery to taste

In a large bowl, combine first 8 ingredients. In a large skillet, saute corn in oil until tender longer fro fresh, for frozen just until thawed. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in mustard. Add to vegetable mixture; mix well, toss to coat. Refrigerate briefly or serve immediately using a slotted spoon.  Enjoy! 

What's cooking from your garden? Do you have some tried and true favorite 'garden food' recipes?  Please share them in the comments!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Coconut (You Choose) Curry

Do you love curry?  There was a time when curry kind of scared me until a friend made a pot of chicken curry one night while I was fortunate enough to be visiting and I was hooked.  I have tweaked this recipe and made it many times with consistently good results.  An easily flexible recipe - chicken, shrimp, veggies, beef you choose.  This one was chicken, but the shrimp is really our house favorite.

Coconut (You Choose) Curry

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium red or yellow onion, finely chopped
1 handful frozen peas
2-3 sweet peppers chopped in largish chunks
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger,  about a 1-inch peeled piece
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1-2 teaspoon curry powder
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can coconut milk, light or regular - I use Chaokoh brand Thai - delish!
2 tablespoon arrowroot powder
1/4 cup water
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

If shrimp is your protein of choice a try this simple marinade, toss the shrimp with the 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1/8 tsp cayenne and juice from 1 lemon in a resealable large bag or in a bowl. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium-sized pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat until rippling and hot. Saute onion, pepper chunks and frozen peas 2-3 minutes. Stir in the pepper, ginger, salt, garlic, coriander, turmeric and curry powder. Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring often, until the mixture is very fragrant and the onion is soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add undrained tomatoes to the pot and cook, stirring for about 1 minute. Increase the heat to medium-high and simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring often. Add the coconut milk, stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil and add the shrimp and any accumulated juices from the marinade. If using shrimp bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until the shrimp are curled, lightly pink and cooked through, about 2-4 minutes. Dissolve arrowroot powder in water stir in to pot and remove from heat to thicken.  Stir in the cilantro. Wonderful served over rice or potatoes or all by itself with some yummy naan bread.

This is one of my favorite recipes in my 'One Pot Wonder' repertoire.  Do you have a favorite go to 'One Pot Wonder'?  I'd love for you to share it.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Mountain Moving Wanted

I read in a book (which one escapes me) a few years ago that if you pray for something consistently everyday for 6 weeks you will see God move in that area.  I have a problem, I take it to God and He answers my prayer.  This is the theory of how it is supposed to work right?  And truly, I believe that it does work just that way - with one cavet - we have to be faithful to take it to God.  I don't know about the rest of you, but I for one have a hard time with the consistency part of the equation.  I am so faithful to pray fervently when the battle is in full swing, or when something is new, but as I grow battle weary or something moves to the status of old news I, sadly,  admittedly lose my fervor.  My follow through is lacking to put it plain.So...I have a problem or in an effort to speak life over it, an opportunity....a big one ......and without God there is no way through it.  I need for God to move in a mighty way.  In turning this over in my mind recently and trying to figure out how to 'fix it' in my own might I recalled the 6 week challenge I had read about in the past (if you know the source - please help a gal out and post it in the comments - merci).  I have 6 weeks, God willing and in this particular situation only good things to gain.  By posting about it, I am seeking to be both accountable and encouraging.  August 9th, 2012 is 6 weeks from today.  Won't you join me in this?  We all have big needs or know someone who does,  but we serve a big God who loves us in big ways.  Big needs are everywhere today - pick one and pray with me for the next 6 weeks....daily.
This song by Rita Springer stirred me to the depths the first time I ever heard it....lately it has become an anthem of sorts.....

He can move my mountain, He can move your mountain too......the anticipation of mountain moving, share it with me won't you?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Let Them Eat Pie

I hope a relaxing and blessed Father's Day was enjoyed by one and all!!

It has become tradition in our home that if you are being celebrated you have the honor of picking the menu.  Yesterday being Father's Day was no exception.  The Principal is always so accommodating about what he wants but when June issue of Southern Living arrived and he eye balled this pie recipe it was instantly decided that this would be Father's Day dessert.    Peanut Butter-Banana Icebox Pie - wow look out hips here I come!!  It was easy, didn't require heating the kitchen up, was made ahead and was a huge hit with the men folk.  WonderBoy was quick to deem it 'a keeper'.

 We began our fun a day early with a great day Saturday in Manchester, TN Letterboxing and hiking at Old Stone Fort Archaeological State Park. This was our first time at this park but probably won't be our last.  The trail is a short one - just 1 1/4 miles but boasts 3 pretty nice water fall to play and frolic in.  There is also a museum with some interesting resources to learn about the Indian mounds that this park is structured around.  Homeschooling is always in progress even during summer break!
We had limited success in our letterboxing efforts - we searched for 4 boxes and found only 2 of them - both in cemeteries ......which for some weird reason seems to be where we always end up at some point when we are out adventuring.  This one was neat - an old family cemetery with some very old stones under a glorious magnolia tree.  It has been fenced in and was a short hike off the road in the woods.  If not for letterboxing we would never have known it was there. was your weekend....did you do anything special?  Any fabulous dessert recipes to share? 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Gardening Part 2 - Strawberry Security

We have attempted a harvest of strawberries for several years now, but every year without fail the sweet birds {gnashing of teeth} have beat us to each and every ripe delicious morsel.  SO...this year we got smart and brought in some reinforcements.  We knew if we wanted to really enjoy our strawberry patch we needed strawberry security.  We put our thinking caps on and The Principal designed a feathered friend proof enclosure that would allow God's good rain and sunshine in but keep those sweet little birds out!
Our strawberry patch is a permanent fixture built into one of our 4 square foot gardens, so all we had to do was give it a lid and we were ready for strawberry picking - fingers only - no beaks allowed.
Using some 2 x 2 pressure treated lumber, nylon mesh window screen and two 4 inch hinges our problem has been solved once and for all!  The Principal among his many talents has admirable carpentry skills and so a lovely spring afternoon, his skills and a few supplies produced this......
It is working out beautifully, sun and rain in, birds out!  To pick or fertilize The Principal installed a handle on the back side to easily lift the top and the hinges make getting it open for access easy peasy! 
We have been harvesting strawberries free of beak holes!  We have 2 types of plants and have a 2nd batch just starting to come in....yum.  
Here's a little Strawberry Trivia to wow your friends and family with while you enjoy some of the delicious treats that starwberry season brings...
Strawberry Trivia
  • The average strawberry has 200 seeds
  • More than 40 varieties of strawberries have been identified in the wild. Wild strawberries are fairly small in size and it wasn't until the 18th century that attempts to produce larger berries were sucessful.
  • 1 acre of land planted with strawberries will produce 50,000 pounds of fruit.
  • Fesh strawberries were once used as toothpaste as the juice cleaned discolored teeth.
  • There is a centuries old custom that if you break a double strawberry in half and share it with someone else they will fall in love.
  • Strawberries were once avoided by pregnant women because it was believed that their children would be born with 'strawberry' birth marks.
  • If all the strawberries produced in California in one year were laid berry to berry they would wrap around the world 15 times.
  • Strawberries are the only fruit with their seeds on the outside.
  • Strawberries have a long-dated history of medical uses, the Romans for instance used them to alleviate symptoms of fainting, kidney stones, inflammation, diseases of the blood, liver and spleen, throat infections, bad breath, attacks of gout, melancholy and fever.
  • In some places of Bavaria, country folk practice a spring ritual of tying small baskets of wild strawberries to the horns of their cattle as an offering to wood elves. The legend states that the elves, who love strawberries, will offer their gratitude producing healthy calves and an abundance of milk
  • In Belgium there's a museum entirely dedicated to strawberries
  • Strawberries are grown in every state in the United States and every province of Canada.
  • The strawberry plant belongs to the same family of roses, genus Fragraria, together with other fruits such as apples and plums. The name of the genus comes from the Old Latin word for "fragrant". In modern Italian, the word for strawberry is still "fragola".
What is your favorite way to enjoy strawberry season?Wild strawberries are all fairly small in size, and it wasn't until the 18th century that attempts to produce strawberry plants with larger berries were successful

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Gardening Part 1 - Why Garden?

Last year at this time our house had a For Sale sign in the front yard and a sad lackluster garden in the back yard. When The Lord made it clear that we were to stay put here for a while longer I began making mental plans for our garden this Spring. The Principal has been so busy with school and work but has still managed to squeeze in a few weekend/evening projects to make our garden the best it has ever been. Over the next few weeks, I want to share with you some of our methods and projects to encourage and inspire you in your efforts or even better to get you out there and playing in the dirt for the first time!! Today, I want to share with you the reasons we choose to invest our time, money and labor into our garden. Gardening is a blessing on so many levels it is really hard for me to decide what my favorite element or greatest blessing is. We have over the past 2 or 3 years been slowly creating a lovely little sanctuary in what was just an empty patch of grass when we bought our home 8 years ago.
We really enjoy our morning coffee and quiet time on our screened in patio. We love to get out there in early in the mornings and watch the antics of the birds and the many rabbits that poke around in the field behind us. We have bird houses, feeders and a bird bath which my guys gifted me for Mother's Day several years ago so we see plenty of activity from our feathered friends. We feed the birds the crusts left behind Wonder Boy's toast (he doesn't do crust and I'm not wasting homemade goodness!!) and anything else that may be bird worthy that does not get consumed. A few slices of staling cornbread provided much enjoyment and antics for us this past Sunday as we spent the afternoon playing board games on the patio - it had me singing "Mama's little birdies love cornbread cornbread, Mama's little birdies love stale cornbread" - this kind of thing - songs sung to the key of life happen often in this house - try it - it's great stress reduction!! But I digress...forgive me while I find my way back from the rabbit trail I was on..... The garden....It all started in a garden so it stand to reason that I always feel close to God when I am in the garden, how can you watch the birds, rabbits, the amazing-ness of a seed that turns into a plant and then ultimately provision and not be drawn directly back to The Creator of it all? I am humbled by the intricacy with which He weaves and works into even the smallest details! I love to witness the process of seed to plant to harvest - you cannot imagine the giddy delight we all had when we saw the first teeny tiny baby cutie patootie grapes on the vine a few weeks ago, it was downright goofy (there was no song for this - sorry).
As homeschoolers, there are endless opportunities to teach in the garden. I think a child who is able to put a seed in the dirt and then eat something he has nurtured and grown will forever be connected to God who created it, the earth that brings it forth and will have an awareness and respect for conversing and not wasting the provision that we have. A child who works in the garden gains a perspective that would not otherwise come easily in our packaged, constantly product consuming and overall thoughtless society (oops...soapbox). Even a very young child can garner some basic values of work = provision through a little time spent watering, weeding and caring for something alive and live giving.
The bounty of the harvest is naturally the ultimate goal. I would never have been drawn to learn to can, dehydrate and preserve to the degree that I have if I had not been involved in the process of producing the food that was harvested. There is such pleasure at sitting down to the family meal table and enjoying the fruits of your labor together as a family. The taste is so much better than anything that comes from a grocery store and you know what it has or more importantly hasn't been sprayed with. A garden is a labor of love in many ways, from running out to protect the young plants when a hail storm came suddenly, to being out there in the dark with flash lights covering the same tender plants when an unanticipated frost was forecast.
As a family we have worked together and shared the joys and disappointments when things have not gone as planned. This is the stuff that makes family family isn't it? This was not something I learned as a child, but oh the blessings of knowing these pleasures as a wife and mother are a treasure to me! Over the next few weeks, I will share with you about square foot gardening, herb gardening (Oh! How I love love love herbs), harvesting rainwater as well as some of the 'structures' that we have built to make our garden work for us.....please join me and please, if I have touched on something you want to know more about by all means ask....let me know what you are interested in hearing more about!
I am here for you!

Monday, June 4, 2012

We Interrupt This Blog.......

If you are here and if you are reading this, my thanks to you! I have been a completly shameful blogger for far too long now. Life seems to have consumed much of my time recently - can you imagine?? And truthfully, I am trying to figure out what I want to do with my blogging. I started up a new blog with a new plan and ran into one technical glitch after another and so I have done nothing on either one. The thing is I need to write and so as I figure out where and what I hope you will pop in and check on me and leave a comment if you feel led and help sway me in some kind of direction!!;-)
For now I will leave you with this....Life is busy, we are finishing 5th grade, doing our first formal testing this week - PASS. The Principal is taking his final test today in his 3rd class (yes he is back in school- everyone but me is getting a formal education!!Although I am probably learning more than both of them combined!!), the 2012 Spring gardening season has begun! We have planted blueberry bushes, grapes, strawberries, peppers, herbs o' plenty and, just yesterday I ordered from 2 seed catalogs and have all kinds of wonderful exotic beans and some herbs, cucumbers and squash coming!
WonderBoy is about to turn 11, is preparing to be baptized later this month and just began guitar lessons, oh and is only a few scant inches away from looking down at me!!
I am trying to be faithful to get some exercise and have been finding some pleasure (it is exercise afterall) walking with Leslie Sansone and her Walk at Home series. While I have not been blogging, I have been online some and have become a Pinterest junkie- sigh! Often heard at the dinner table in our house lately - "Is this a Pinterest meal?" Pause....Several Weeks Pass.......Resume The previous portion of this post was written almost 2 months ago and saved for review....I just reviewed it....really! So here is the update to the update as it were....I have come to the conclusion that the time is not now for the new blog.....later maybe but not now. I still need to write so I will do that here until the Lord leads me otherwise. Fifth grade is complete (insert Hallelujah chorus here) although we will work on finishing a few things that we began midway through the school year and would like to have completed before 6th grade begins - namely Language Arts Lifepacs. The results from the PASS tests came back a little over a week ago and the good news is I have not failed my child in educating him. He is doing just fine and while he iscored a little lower than we would have liked in one area he is reading and comprehending well above his grade level. If he can do this I am not at all concerned - besides which - he tests poorly - I have seen this time and time again. The Principal is one assignement away from complelting Business Communications - he has done so well in all his classes so far - straight A's - I am so proud of him! He sets a wonderful example for WonderBoy academically - and in so many other ways as well!! The garden is planted and growing - I would run out and take up to the moment photos right now to share with you but it is raining - oh how happy that will make all the beautiful things growing out there. Photos soon - ok? We have built several gardne structures that I will be happy to share with you in hopes that they may insprire or assist in your gardening efforts. So....that is where we are. I really just wanted to get something posted this morning - it being Monday and getting the week off to a good start, typically if I start well on Monday I see better success rates later in the week. I find it very difficult to publish a post without a photo or visual of some sort, so in the interest of satisfying my quirk...... I was inside getting dinner together one evening several weeks ago, WonderBoy was outside assaulting our blooming dogwood do you get angry? I chose to make it a teachable moment....lots of those around here. Life is Good! God is Good-er!!

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