Friday, February 29, 2008

Tea, a book and friends.

I receive Celestial Seasonings newsletter and email alerts. I received this the other day. I thought this was really nice when I looked it over, and thought some of you might like to see it. Have any of you read the book Peony in Love, that is on that link? Generally, I do not read what might be considered a love story, but this one seems to be that, but so much more. I would love to hear reviews.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Flapjacks with a British flavour and twist.

   I always love to learn new things about, Britain. Anything about their culture, customs, country and even... well maybe especially, their cuisine. Yesterday, I learned something new and wanted to share it with you. And I am wondering, am I the only one that did not know this? It seems so basic and yet I completely missed it. If I had gone to England, and ordered a Flapjack, I would have been either surprised or certain the waitress did not hear or understand me - or both. I would have been expecting a somewhat thin pancake, larger than the average... maybe 8 - 12 inches in diameter, with a little crispness on the outsides, that was done on a griddle. The whole point of the word “flap” in Flapjack, is that it is flapped over. Well, in reading some of the recipes on Barbara’s blog, I was really surprised to find that in England, that is not what a Flapjack is. Her recipe resembled what I might have guessed to be a granola bar. This is a picture of her Flapjacks at tea time. After doing a little digging, I found that English Flapjacks are made from oats, butter, sugar and a form of syrup like sugar. I did find recipes that had nuts, other dried fruits (I made Barbara’s and there were dried apricots in that recipe), and even chocolate. They are not like a granola bar, even though the ingredients suggest that. They are somewhat chewy and very decadent. Addictive even.

   Before I go any further, I want to tell you that the golden syrup referred to in this, and other British recipes is referring to something different than is typically sold here in the States. I happen to have access to a grocer that has a small display of British foods, mostly condiments. That store has a golden syrup just like what is used in Flapjack recipes. It is called, Lyle's Golden Syrup. Oh, and there in nothing like that golden syrup..... yum!! We use it in tea, and on toast. It is that green and gold can on my counter in some of the photos of my baking. But, here in the states, if you have no access to a golden syrup, use corn syrup like, Karo. I imagine light or dark is personal preference. If you looked at Barbara's recipe, you saw "demerara or brown sugar" listed as ingredients. Demerara sugar's closest equivalent would be our light brown sugar. Brown sugar in a British recipe I believe is closer to our dark brown sugar.

   I just received a comment from Barbara. In the event you do not read her comment I wanted to add it here. I stand corrected on the Demerara sugar. What I thought I read on the websites I read about English cooking and their ingredients, I either misinterpreted, or just did not understand. She is English, and would know. I want you to get it straight from her, so here is a that portion of her comment to this post.

"For your information Demerara sugar is very different to light brown sugar in both texture and flavour. It is mainly used here in coffee as it sweetens the coffee without altering its flavour like a brown sugar would. We do also use it in cooking as we do light brown sugar, dark brown sugar and Mollasses sugar which is even darker. We would NEVER put any of this in tea."

I am going to repost the recipe with all U.S. conversions.

Sticky Apricot Flapjack

Preheat oven to 425°. Grease an 8" cake pan. I used butter flavored non-stick spray.

1 stick butter
5 tablespoons golden syrup
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons brown sugar (I did use the dark)
2 cups oats
1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice.

Put butter and 4 tablespoons of the syrup into pan with sugar and heat gently until melted.
Stir in oats and apricots and mix well. Spoon into cake pan and smooth top.
Bake 25 minutes or until golden.

Once baked, remove from oven and while still warm mark into square (be sure to make these marks down to the pan or getting them out might be difficult. Melt remaining syrup and add lemon juice (I did this in a small cup in the microwave). Pour over the flapjack and leave to cool.

   I was amazed at how delicious these were! I was a little skeptical of the lemon juice, and all of you know I love lemon. But oh!!! what a wonderful little note of flavor the lemon gives. They would not be as good without it.

Here the Flapjack is in the tin. (or cake pan)

   As long as this has to do with British fare, I thought I would share something else with you. Some time ago, I discovered a tea offered by Tetley, called, British Blend. The name got my attention, but looking at the box I noticed three other things I liked. First, it did say, "A rich, full bodied blend". I really do not like troubled water that is passed off as tea. I like "full bodied" flavor. Second, there are 2.5 grams of tea in each bag rather than the 2 grams in most brands. That would give the "full bodied" flavor a little more kick. And last, the bags are round, tagless and fit right in the bottom of a cup or mug, rather than having strings that can be messy. So I bought the tea. I really like it. It is full bodied, the flavor itself is very good-I actually like it as much as I do some loose leaf teas, and the round bag is quite nice. I am pleased to tell you, this tea is not bitter at all as some bagged tea can be. If you like full bodied tea, try this. I think you will like it. Oh, and it is great with the Flapjack above. :-)

   Please forgive the lack of a photo of the finished product. This is one post I can not seem to find the rest of the photos for after the loss of so many photos on my blog when Picassa deleted them when I deleted them out of my Google+ account, not knowing they would be permanently deleted from my blog. I was thankful to just find the photo above.


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Pumpkin Scones and Tuna Bake

   A while back I was looking for a pumpkin scone recipe and came across a blog that focuses on coffee, tea and chocolate. The link is in my side bar, and is called, Coffee, Tea and Chocolate. The link for a pumpkin scone recipe was on the opening page, easy enough. This is the page for that recipe. I have not completely familiarized myself with the sight as I normally would before putting a link for in on mine, but there are great recipes and ideas for having teas, so I did. This is the recipe as it appears on that page.

Pumpkin Scones 
2 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup cold unsalted butter

1/3 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup pumpkin (if canned, be sure there are no spices or sugar added)

1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix together flour, sugar, spices, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Cut butter into small pieces and cut into flour. Mixture should look like coarse crumbs. In a separate bowl mix together the pumpkin, buttermilk and vanilla. Add to flour mixture and mix until the dough comes together (don't overmix). Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead gently 3-4 times, and then shape/pat dough into a circle about 1 1/2 inches thick. Slice in half, and then cut each half into 3 equal pie-shaped wedges. Brush with egg glaze (1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp milk), and sprinkle with Turbinado sugar. Bake on a cookie sheet for @ 375° for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Makes 6 scones.

Optional: Add white chocolate chips and/or chopped pecans.

Pumpkin Spice Butter

1/4 cup (half a stick) butter, softened

1/4 cup pumpkin puree

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp allspice

Combine all and mix till creamy.

   I added white chocolate chips and chopped pecans to the scones. Perfect! I know the recipe says to cut into sixths, but that was a far bigger scone than we needed. I cut mine in eigth's and they were ... Perfect! I did not however, make the Pumpkin Spice Butter. Jon is not crazy about putting things on scones, if fact butter is about as far as he goes with toast, English muffins, or bagels even. Although, he has been seen on very rare occasion, spreading a little strawberry cream cheese on a bagel. If he wasn't going to eat it, guess who would. I would. So as delicious as I am sure it is, I passed. That butter would be a good excuse to make these scones again and have someone over. Hummm... or just take a couple of batches to Joy Circle at church. Those women would help me eat that yummy spread.

Scone photos missing due to Picasa incident mentioned in my Missing Photos section above.

   This dough is really easy to work with. Make sure your buttermilk and butter are as c old as possible. Putting them in the freezer for ten minutes with your bowl and utensil is a good idea. Use a cold bowl. I used a cold pastry blender to mix the dry ingredients and butter. Handle the dough as little as possible.

   You can roll and cut these however you like. You could probably make them drop scones if you wanted. I like a disc for scones. You can see there are eight instead of six.

   The recipe does not say, but I use parchment paper for most baking. One of these days I am going to get a Silpat.

   That scone recipe got printed out and is a part of my permanent recipe file. I am going to try dried cranberries in them next time. And now it is time to put supper together.

Here is what's for supper.

I already had the oven on, I just turned it up 25 degrees, and for supper we had Barbara's Tuna, Broccoli and Pasta Bake. It was as she said, tasty and simple. We have enough leftover that we can have it for lunch tomorrow after church. That works out well since I am really hoping to groom, Baxter. I highly recommend going to Barbara's blog. I have her permanently on my side bar as a link, but I want to mention it here. She has many wonderful things for you to look at and read. If you are enjoy reading about how the Lord can work in someone's life, read the section of her blog called, My Story. Being a blog, it goes in descending order chronologically. Start with the first one and work your way to the present. You will be glad you took the time to read these.

Tuna, Broccoli and Pasta Bake

Preheat oven to 400° I sprayed my 12 X 9 casserole with Olive Oil Pam non-stick spray. Just wanted to mention, my daughter Tara, gave me the Le Creuset casserole crockware a few years ago for Christmas. I love this piece of bakeware!! She got me another one that was green, oval and a little smaller. Amazing bakeware!

8 ounces Rotini pasta, I really like Barilla pasta.
3- 5 ounce cans tuna, I use solid white albacore tuna.
8 ounces broccoli florets, I used half of a 16 oz bag of frozen -it’s winter
2 ounces butter
1/4 cup flour
2-1/2 cups milk
8 ounces cheese, I used shredded mild and sharp cheddar.

  • Cook pasta in boiling water for 5 minutes then add bite size broccoli and allow to return to boil. Cook 4-5 minutes until pasta is just tender. Drain well.
  • While in colander, dump cans of tuna over pasta and broccoli. Once drained, flake tuna and place inside casserole.
  • Arrange pasta and broccoli over tuna.
  • *Make cheese sauce and pour over all.
  • Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  • Bake for 25 minutes.

*Make cheese sauce by placing butter, milk, flour and half of the cheese (4 ounces) in sauce pan. Gently bring to a rolling boil. Whisk for a couple of minutes until thickening begins.

I added nothing to this. No salt, pepper, hot sauce, nodda. It was really good. Since the oven was already hot, I stuck a French baguette in while the casserole cooled. Bread warm and crusty, casserole cooled down and set a bit.... supper. Thanks, Barbara. :-)

A little update on the book in the Hannah Swensen murder series, Carrot Cake Murder that is to be released February 26th.

I was going to check on the county library since I was 4 on a list of 4 of requests for the book when it comes in, at my local town library. At the county library, there are ten requests. Ugh. And now, I am 4 on a list of 5 at my town library. Guess I will just stay put. They will probably get more than one copy, so it should not be too bad. Besides, it is not like I don't have enough reading to do with homework.

I haven't gotten any recommendations for a good murder mystery author or series so, I think I will give M.C. Beaton's, Agatha Raisin series a go.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentines Day!

Love Is the Greatest

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! But when full understanding comes, these partial things will become useless.

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (NLT)


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Billy Graham

I just got in and thought I would check my email. I saw this when I logged on and wanted to share it. It is an article about, Billy Graham. He has had surgery today and is awake. I know some of you have connections and, or affections for him and his ministry. Those of you that know me, or have gotten to know me through this blog, know I love this man and his wonderful family. I am sure he and his family would covet our prayer. It is a good article and he is quite a trooper.

God bless you and good night,

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Facelift for an old footstool.

On January 28th, I posted this in one of my blog entries that day.

"Also, the style of my home is rather a cottage layout. I have begun to update it, room by room and transform it into a cottage home. I will be posting photos of my progress. Next to sharing ones heart and faith, it doesn't get much more real than being invited into someone's home. Consider yourself invited. I only wish we could visit, and have tea and biscuits together."

Well, come on in. I have started. Be they baby steps, I have begun the process of renewing by redecorating this house, with the intention of making it, our home. You will notice that the label for this entry is, "House to Home". That is how I will label every entry from here on that pertains to the redoing of our house. I am hoping to have at least the main floor completed by the beginning of, September. Nothing is set in stone yet, but I am hoping to visit England, in September. I would really like to have the biggest part of the house behind me. That may be a bit of a stretch, but I think with some serious effort and diligence it can be done. With a touch here and there, some normal weeding and a new plant or two...ish, and the planting of the usual vegetables in the garden, I should not have outside work to do this year. So, I am counting on having some quality chunks of time back to do the inside of the house.

Of course, I have been thinking, planning, looking and drafting on graph paper. However, with the exception of actually buying the wallpaper for one of the bedrooms, and pulling out a useless counter, and stripping wallpaper in three rooms, I have not done anything until this footstool that is really getting at the job. I have this footstool, an old rocker and sewing machine case - both 45+ years old, and at least one dresser that I want to antique with an ivory base. I thought this footstool was the best place to start. It is small and the legs are not as visible as the other pieces I want to redo. And, it would be a snap to redo if I did not like the finish. If I did like it, I could proceed to the others. I am glad I did this little stool first. I do like it enough, but I think I am going to look for a green distressing antique top coat for the dresser. I will use the brown top coat for the rocker and sewing machine case.

This old footstool is one my mother used. She really enjoyed it. My daughter Melissa, was so helpful with mom until she moved to, Oklahoma. Melissa, has vivid and many memories of mom using this stool. I knew mom intended to cover it. When I went through her sewing things, I found fabric she bought to do just that. It was difficult for me to opt to choose my own fabric, but mom and I had diametrically opposed views on decorating style. You will see that as we go along.

The fabric is not the only thing that will need replaced.

The foam is in very bad shape, and needs replaced.

Originally, I wondered if the stool could be done over with just showing wood as the finished product. When I uncovered the whole of it, that was not an option. This is the ugliest pressed wood I have ever seen.

Being the eternal optimist, I paint it anyway in hopes of just antiquing. While it was good to get that old thing painted, it had to be covered.

And so, we cover it.

Much different.

The rocking chair seat will be covered in this fabric, and antiqued with this combination of paint and top coat. Though they were never a set, they will be placed together when done.

Footstool. There is some real significance in that word.

foot·stool -noun: a low stool upon which to rest one's feet when seated.

My mind wandered down two paths when I pondered this word.

My first thoughts were about a verse in Hebrews. I had to look it up because I was not sure of its exact reference. It was Hebrews 10:13. Once I got to reading the verse, I realized I began meditating on, and wanted to share the context and not simply that one verse.

Hebrews 10:11-39
Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins. But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then He sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 13 There He waits until his enemies are humbled and made a footstool under His feet. For by that one offering He forever made perfect those who are being made holy. And the Holy Spirit also testifies that this is so. For He says, “This is the new covenant I will make with my people on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” Then He says, “I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds.” And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices. And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, 22 let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins. There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume His enemies. For anyone who refused to obey the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God, and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to us. For we know the one who said, “I will take revenge. I will pay them back.” He also said, “The Lord will judge his own people.” It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Think back on those early days when you first learned about Christ. Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering. Sometimes you were exposed to public ridicule and were beaten, and sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things. You suffered along with those who were thrown into jail, and when all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever. So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that He has promised. “For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. And my righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.” But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.

This passage of scripture really put my mind in motion. We have what it takes, what is needed to "make" Jesus' enemies a footstool under His feet. Originally, we were created to have complete fellowship with God, harmony and unity with one another, perfect health and have all of our needs met, and all in a sin and death free environment. Loving to garden and enjoying a beautiful garden, I have to add that this environment was a garden... I am sure the most exquisite ever! As you know, we exchanged that for alienation from God, strife with one another, sickness, disease, death and lack. In a moment of pride and rebellion, we handed our amazing life over for a piece of fruit. But, God wanted us to have what He originally gave us, and as quickly as we fell, he made us coverings for our flesh, and a provision to buy back all we lost was on the way. Jesus, being the only One that had the price it required, left and bankrupt Heaven, then came to buy back what we gave away. Jesus was the incorruptible Seed that had to die and go into the ground, so that we could be the harvest that would once again bring glory to, God. Once we receive this great gift, receive Jesus as our Savior, we also receive the Holy Spirit. At that moment, we have received the same power that was used at the resurrection. The Holy Spirit then begins leading us and teaching us. With the Holy Spirit teaching us who we are in Christ, and how to apply this power to bring glory to God, we are able to accomplish the task of "making" Jesus' enemies a footstool under His feet. Remember how Jesus said we would go on to do greater works than He? He tells us that we will do these works with the help of the, Holy Spirit. What are these works? Anything Jesus, did. Go tell the world the good news of salvation. Baptize. Disciple. Lay hands on the sick. Comfort the mourning. Show love. Help the poor. Visit the incarcerated. Feed the hungry. Dispel darkness every opportunity you get! I think you get the picture. And, the Holy Spirit will guide you where to do these things God calls you to do, AND, he gives you the power to do them! What a wonderful God, we have!!!!

Satan, Jesus' enemy, our enemy, lost his authority in this world the day the Jesus was raised up from the dead. That does not stop him from trying to wreck our lives with his evilness. For those of us that receive Jesus, choose to go on and do the work left here and entrusted to us to do, we can be about the business of "making" Jesus' enemies, a footstool.

You may have noticed, for emphasis I made bold verse 22 in the above passage. Here is where my second path of thinking begins. In pondering all of the verses about making Jesus' enemies His footstool, I was overcome with the "where" of it all. Where it all starts. It starts with the God that loved us long before we loved, Him. The God that even though we were sinful and rebellious against Him, gave out of pure love for us, His only son. The God that does not change. The God whose mercies, and tender kindnesses, and love endure forever. The God that deserves all of our honor, praise, thanksgiving and most certainly our worship. He bids us to come to Him. He has given us what was required to be able to approach Him with boldness. And, just as in the garden, He wants to spend time with us. Do you not find this amazing? I do! Verse 22 above, says:

22 ...let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting Him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.

This verse caused me to think about the next two verses that also refer to a footstool. This footstool however, is the one we sit on at His feet. This is where we are nurtured and grow into the person He created us to be. We go to the throne for salvation, and we go their for everything else thereafter.

Psalm 99; 5 Exalt the LORD our God, And worship at His footstool— He is holy.

Psalm 132:
7 Let us go to the sanctuary of the Lord; let us worship at the footstool of his throne.

Another new tag, or label that you might have noticed is, "Pearl Diving". Although there have been a scant few oysters around the Asian coast containing pearls that could be harvested at less than six feet, that is by far not the norm. To acquire pearls, you gotta go deep sea diving. That is how it is with the truths in Gods' Word. Certainly, you can get something out of His Word just by opening it up and reading it. God promises His Word will not return void. And, I do just that. Read here a little, there a little. What I really enjoy though, is going in deep and getting pearls of deep wisdom. I want to share those with you, too. From here on, I will label posts that have some deep sea diving in the Word, with "Pearl Diving".

Going to the throne for bit,

"footstool." Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. 12 Feb. 2008.>.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

26 on 2.6

This is Tara's husband, Marty. He is in Iraq, and today is his birthday.

Happy Birthday, Marty!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

This is a day that the Lord, has made...

I will rejoice and be glad in it!

Even though;

My father passed away late January, my brother late February, and my mother the first week of, April, and in that order. I should say here that while they passed away in that order, those were not all in the same year. In fact, they were each exactly ten years apart.

Today is not just any day in that nine week span between January, and, April. Today, is my mother’s birthday.

I have been reflecting on my relationship with my mother. Being out in the snow Sunday, night taking pictures, triggered quite a wave of thought and emotion for me. I began thinking about my relationship with her, some of the progress I made with it while she was living, and a couple of surprises I experienced when she passed away.

I really believe if there is breath in a person, there is every opportunity for good things to happen. Happen... hum. That word means to “come” into being by “chance”, to occur without apparent reason or design. That is where the word, “happenstance” (happen + circumstance), gets its meaning. I don’t mean happen. ummm...I think what I may mean to say here is that, if there is breath in a person, there is every opportunity to initiate, and perhaps achieve change. Somewhere along the line, I learned that there is a world of difference between desire and goal. Desire is something we can achieve on our own. A goal is something we must enlist the help of others with. Desire: lose weight. Goal: teach a class on weight loss (that requires students).

While I had accepted the fact that mom was never as nuts about me as I would have loved her to be, I knew I had to, and honestly wanted to treat her with respect, show kindness, and always honor her as my mother. I did honor her, and I still do which is why I simply used the phrase, “mom was never as nuts about me as I would have loved”, instead of laying out unnecessary details. There were times I was incredibly moved with compassion for her and wanted, and did do things for her beyond the norm, or expected. However, in the last several years of her life, I had accepted that I had a desire, a little girls desperate wish, to be close to, and accepted by her. I fought admitting that to even myself because the pain of it was too much to bare. When I finally admitted it, I spent months wrestling with the whole of it. Then, one day I remembered the difference between desire, and goal. What I had was desire. A little girls desperate desire for a mommy. But!, it was just that, desire. I had no control over her feelings, or actions, toward me. NONE! I had accepted that though it would have been so wonderful, so healing, to have that breakthrough in our relationship, it may never happen. So, I continued to do what I did out of honor, respect and love. It was beautiful in its own right. I had no strings attached to the relationship making it possible for me to love and give, freely. With that came the beauty of not being disappointed, hurt, or feeling rejected.

Then, one day I had a thought that consoled me, greatly. I have a good number of friends that have good relationships with their mother’s. You know, shop together, have lunch together, laugh together, give each other tips on clothing and personal matters... you get it. And, yes I am crying at this point. Let me just say, if you have that relationship with your mom, cherish every minute of it! Anyway, I had this really great thought... a piece of sage wisdom for myself. Hum... mom’s health is very compromised and one day I will have to say good-bye to her, this side of glory. BUT!!!, I think to myself, the pain will not be as bad for me as it will be my friends that will be losing such wonderful relationships, when they lose their moms. Like everything else in life, it’s a trade off. Yep! That’s it. My hardship is now. When it should be hard, it won’t be so much so. Okay, good news for me. Wow, Teresa... nice thinkin’! Whoo Hoo!!!

Okay, so how many of you reading this bought that? Well, I did. I was banking on it. I thought I was pretty insightful when I came up with that nugget of nonsense. The only good that came out of that thought was, at least for the next few months I was able to live in a delusion. I named the streets in the village of, Denial. I have learned that given the choice, unfortunately, I like that village. I am familiar with every square inch of it, and surprises have no passport to enter. Thus sayeth the queen of, Denial!

SURPRISE!!!! Nothing could have been more of a lie. How did I EVER come up with that? And, why would I buy that lie? I really believe, in so many ways, it is harder to let go of someone you have a rocky relationship with than it is to let go of a good one. Think about going off to college, or leaving home in anyway. If the relationships at home are healthy, you miss each other, but you can walk away whole, and blessed. When the relationships are not healthy, you walk away fragmented, and yearning. In other words, you are left broken and needy. So, if your mother dies and things are in that state, there is no hope to ever redefine the relationship. Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.” If you are a reader of this blog, or know me at all, you know I believe the Word of God is true, absolute truth. But just allow me to say here, truer words were never spoken. My hope for that relationship died when she did. Surprise number one: I thought I had already resolved all of that in my own mind, reconciled my soul with being accepting of what may never be. But, I really never let go of that desperate desire of a little girl, until she was gone. Then, I had no choice. Surprise two: I have buried others that I was close to, but the relationships were healthier. I did not feel the rejection I felt in my relationship with, Mom. It hurt to bury the others, but there was no comparison to the emptiness, disappointment, anguish and regret I felt with Mom’s passing. So much for the big trade off.

My regrets were not with things I had done, or not done. Though, there were a few things I would like to change, overall I handled my relationship with Mom, prudently and with wisdom. I heard Joyce Meyer, say one time that wisdom is basically doing today what you won’t regret later on. I was acting in more wisdom that I realized, and I am so grateful for that. In doing so, you drastically minimize regret. My regret was just never having that relationship I needed so much. The torment was in the wondering if there was anything else I could have done. Desire v. Goal. No, there really wasn’t. I did all I knew to do. But, the hope is gone, period. Therein, lies the regret and sorrow.

Now, I want to share just a few things with you. I will comment little on these verses. I feel they are clear.

2 Corinthians 6:18
"And I will be your Father, and you will be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty”

I am not an orphan. I am a daughter! Not just anyone’s daughter, I am the daughter of the King!

Isaiah 43: 1-3,4b
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are Mine.
When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.
For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
....are precious to Me.
You are honored, and I love you."

If only once in my life I had felt like I was precious to mom. Thank you, Father! I love You, and it is my hearts' most deep and earnest desire to serve you.

Psalm 37:23
"The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives."

God, Creator of the universe, delights in every detail of my life. He does not reject me! Oh yeah, that works! Thank you, Lord!

Jeremiah 31:3
...“I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to Myself."

God draws me to Himself, and loves me now and forever!

And!!!, He believes in me and has a plan for my life.

Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome."

Ephesians 1:4-8
"Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace He has poured out on us who belong to His dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding."

I am a daughter that is loved and, God bought me back from the curse with the blood of His Son, Jesus. I am truly His, child. Blood bought and in the family!!!! These are some of the things I have been thinking about as I have been remembering my mother.

These are not whacky ideas that will let me down and leave me devastated. They are not little nuggets of temporary nonsense that do not really console. These are promises that I can count on, and they give me a peace that has produced joy in me. They are eternally mine. I receive them gratefully!

I want to add, my first granddaughter was born on the same day of January (several years later, not the same year), that my father passed away. My second granddaughter was born on my mother’s birthday. God is good.......... I was married on my father’s birthday (after he passed away). So, life goes on and we find, and receive new things to celebrate.

My mom did know Jesus, as her Savior. I celebrate that. That is the thing I am most thankful for where Mom, is concerned. When she passed away, the word that came up over and over, was faithful. Mom was a very diligent, and faithful person. That virtue was reflected in everything she did. And, she was very faithful to take my brother and I to church. I cut my teeth on Billy Graham, books and accepted Jesus, as my Savior, while in elementary school. I praise God, for that! And, I thank my Mom. Thank you, Mom, and...
Happy Birthday.

Enjoy this day!
Princess Teresa

Monday, February 4, 2008

The serenity of snow.

Okay Kim, here is something for you. You wanted me to send you some snow. Unless you want I should bottle snow and mail to you, this is the best I can do.

Last night, we had gotten no snow for a full day. Then, about 8:30p.m., just about the time the Giants won the Superbowl, the snow started coming down. Not flurries, no warning, just beautiful blizzary snow. For all the excitement of the evening, you know... the whole Superbowl thing, it got so very quiet outside. It was one of those times you wanted everyone you loved to be right there with you. *sigh* That will be another post, probably tomorrow.

This across the street. That is our street light.

This is the same place, only it is the street, under the that street light.

Same street light in the background, only now I am in our backyard instead of the front.

I am standing basically in the same place, only this is the house instead of the street and yard.

Here, I a have turned around. This is a maple tree, The Giving Tree, (be sure to click on the link for The Giving Tree if you have never read it) in my backyard. My dad and I planted that tree when I was in high school.

This is our neighbor. Though I did not ask him while we were talking out there in that snow, I suspect he was shoveling off an area so the little brand new Llasa Apso they just got, would not have her potty training interrupted by the snow. Baxter, really likes that cute little furry ball.

That is the same street light, and that car is barely creeping along.

Time for homework. :-) Tonight, I am trying this recipe. With a simple leafy salad and some garlic bread, dinner will be complete. Actually, this site has some good stuff on it. Since I am not raising children, I only go to one of her three blogs that you will see listed on that site. This is the one with quick, inexpensive and tasty recipes.

Be blessed!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Prioritizing and Pierogies

I realize homework with four classes, especially when they are primarily English classes, can become a little consuming. Typically, that is not until the semester has been underway for several weeks. It is the only the beginning of the third week, and already I have gotten to the point this semester that homework has begun to define me, as it claims much of my waking hours. Little confession, I stopped and did the cookies and played outside for that very reason. I am an "A" hound. Nevertheless, just as I did with the cards, I had to prioritize again. I want to enjoy school, but I was beginning to resent the homework. Two of my classes are online. In theory, they are great. In reality, they can be too. Both of my online professors were negligent at the beginning of the semester, and that caused a great deal of chaos. Textbooks have to be bought online, and a required book list was posted by the middle of December. One of the professors just forgot to list one of the required books, the one that the homework would come out of . The second week of the semester, he announces we have to have it, and here is a link where you can purchase it. It is another week before anyone has their book. In the meantime, we have "busy" work to do. Now that the books are in, wham! Now, we go back and do the work so we can catch up, and keep up. The other professor posted a syllabus sometime toward the end of the first week of the semester, but it did not include a schedule of the semesters assignments. After prompting from students, to get the thing posted, she did so last night. Same thing... hurry up, to catch up, to stay up. Am I bitter, no? I am not even angry. Why waste the energy? I don't have time for it. I have however, documented and will continue to document such events. At the end of the semester, I will send a letter with documentation to the proper person, at the main campus in, Indianapolis. I will include in that letter that I have been accepted at another university, and into their department of my major. I will no longer be a student at this university, but that I hope the letter will serve as helpful for future students enrolling with these professors. So, from here on, though I will keep focused on my GPA staying up, craziness and neglect on the part of professors, will not dictate my life. Oh, I should mention, the other two professors that I have classes on campus, face to face with, are great! They have been very responsible with their end of the professor - student relationship, and they are serious about teaching the subject matter at hand. I've learned quite bit from both of them, and though the homework is heavy, it has been and will prove to be well worth it.

Now that I am aware of the tactics I may be facing with these two faceless professors, I have put into place some safeguards for myself. Restructuring my culinary demands at home, should help. As much as I enjoy cooking and baking, I am incorporating easy recipes, with few ingredients, that require a minimum of dishes, and are quickly put together. I have several recipes like that, but would really welcome any you have to offer. My favorite quick meal is a tub of yogurt, a banana, and a piece of whole grain toast with fruit spread. Delicious, filling, one spoon, one knife, and the rest in the garbage. However, Jon just does not feel that constitutes a meal... at least not on a more than once a month basis. And even then, he forages for sustenance later in the evening. Hum..... wonder if Jon would like to take the helm of the USS I Gotta Cook, boat? Nah........ I have a clear picture what that would mean.

Pierogies Florentine... rename it if you like, I never thought about what to call this. This is fairly quick fare.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Frozen box of Pierogies, usually they have twelve in them.
1-2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/4 chopped onion (heaping)
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
8 oz. fresh spinach
black pepper, to taste
3/4 teaspoon Smoked Paprika - sweet. (That is what I have. McCormick has one, too.)
1 10-3/4 ounce can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
1/3 cup Mozzarella Cheese, shredded

  • Thaw pierogies by dropping them in boiling water. This takes about 3 minutes. When they float, they are done. Drain them.
  • Sauté onion in olive oil. When onion is tender add garlic, and spinach, sauté until wilted.
  • Plot that mushroom soup into your casserole dish. Stir in black pepper, and smoked paprika.
  • Arrange pierogies and spinach however you like in your casserole dish.
  • Combine cheeses and sprinkle them on top.

Bake 20 minutes, at 350 degrees.

You have choices of fillings in frozen pierogies. Since there is quite enough flavor in the other ingredients of this dish, I use a bland filling of Potato and Cheese. Normally, I would use fresh garlic cloves but I am looking for quick, remember? But honestly, as much as I enjoy the fresh garlic, the jarred crushed garlic is not bad.

If I have leftover bacon on hand, I sometimes crumble it up on top of the pierogies before sprinkling the cheeses, or I might cut it up if it is raw, and sauté it with the onion, omitting olive oil. I browned Turkey Smoked Sausage, in the skillet I sautéed the onions in. I threw together a leafy salad, adding golden raisins with the croutons because they taste great along side the sausage, and smoky pierogies.

Fast and yummy!

Be well!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Cookies & Catch, and a few good books.

Okay, so I do not keep sweets around the house. But, I do keep a box or two of brownie mix, and a few different flavors of Duncan Hine's, cake mixes. Though I really am a make it from scratch girl, there have been a number of times I was thankful to have those boxes of hospitality around. It has been snowing since the wee hours of the morning, and it has been breathtakiningly, beautiful. I have been busy with some homework I need to get done. When I took a break to make myself a cup of tea, I realized how perfect a day it was for some little sweet cakes to go with our tea when Jon, gets home. Foraging through the house proved unfruitful........... until I pulled these items together.

I had just what it took to make a cookie recipe that was on the side of the cake mix box. Here is the simple and yummy recipe:

Coconut Chocolate Chews

1 package Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Coconut Cake Mix
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup (half stick) butter, melted
1 large egg
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a medium size bowl, blend together cake mix, water, butter and egg until creamy. Stir in coconut. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuuls onto ungreased baking sheet, 2-inches apart.

Bake 11-13 minutes or until cookies start to turn light brown.

Cool on baking sheet 1 minute before removing to cooling rack. Cool completely.

Place chocolate chips in microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute; stir. If necessary microwave in 10 second intervals to melt completely stiring after each interval. Drizzle chocolate over top of cookies. Sprinkle with almonds.

Here are the few places I varied from the recipe.
  • When I put the last batch in the oven, I put the almonds on a piece of foil and toated them.
  • Mine had to bake for 13-15 minutes.
This could be why they required more baking time than the recipe states;
  • I threw in an extra handful of coconut, and so you know, I had flaked on hand, not shredded. It worked fine.
  • I used a #40 OXO Good Grips cookie scoop. It holds 1 1/2 Tablespoons of dough.

This is what I used:

I saw no immediate need to get back at the homework since I would be up and down with the cookies coming out of the oven. So, here is what I (we), did instead.

I let Baxter, out just before I put the first batch in. When I called him in, he came to the bottom of the deck steps, but did not budge. He wanted me to join him.
(Baxter is so black it is hard to see his eyes. I recommend you click on at least this first picture to capture the moment. His eyes are very expressive.)

I threw a snowball for him to fetch. It was hysterical the way he went to retrieve it.

Where is that ball?

You got another one?

Okay, so where did it go?

Oh yeah!!! she threw another one.

That's got to be it!

What do you mean we need to go in now?

Okay, inside and back to the baking. This is probably the first batch of cookies I have baked that the recipe did not come out of one of the Hannah Swensen Mysteries, in geez... a year maybe. I finished the entire series. The next book in the series, Carrot Cake Murder, is to be released, February 26th, of this year. I am looking forward to reading it. I am currently the 4th person on the "request" list at my town library. I think I will check into the availability at the county library. Another book will be out March, of 2009, Cream Puff Murder.

While you are clicking on those sites, here is one for you. Click, then scroll down. You should see someone you recognize. :-) I am getting ready to start another series and I was thinking about the Agatha Raisin series by, M. C. Beaton. The idea of the stories being set primarily in the Cotswold's, sounds perfect to me. Is anyone familiar with that series.

Oh, and I don't know if you have ever noticed the link for Margaret Truman's Capital Crimes, in my Cozy Murders, sidebar. Margaret Truman, wrote some wonderful mystery, murder mysteries, that were set in, Washington D.C. She is a true testament to the notion of writing about what you know. I lived right over the D.C., line in Maryland, for many years. My father was military (Pentagon), and my mother worked for the federal government in, D. C. Reading those evoked so many wonderful memories for me. They were like being there. Margaret Truman, died this week and I wanted to mention that.

Jon, is home and it's tea and cakes time!

For the little amount of ingredients and work that go into these, they are really pretty good. The recipe made 28 nice size cookies. I have two plates wrapped up for a neighbor, and one for a nearby friend. Seems like a nice little "starter for your weekend" gift.

Be well, be blessed!