A Confession…

Yesterday, when I told you that Josiah won’t each much of anything, I mis-spoke. Because there is one thing he really does love to eat: butter. So what I should have said is, “won’t eat much of anything except butter”.

Preferably in stick form, and preferably slightly soft, like after Mommy has left it on the counter for a couple of hours to make it easier to use in the baking of cookies. Or even better, with wrapper off, and beautifully presented on a plate on the table, because it was supposed to be used as a spread for the dinner bread.

I have caught that sweet child of mine twice in the last three days hungrily gobbling up the better part of a whole stick of butter. So strange…

A Soup All My Family Will Deign to Eat

Jay and I love to eat homemade soup, and I enjoy making it very much (in fact I can hardly stomach the stuff in a can anymore, soup snob that I have become!). But our children usually eat it only because they know they are supposed so, not because they like it. Nevertheless, I press on, trying out new recipes on them. For years I have made soup after soup for them, insisted they eat at least one meal of each recipe, and hoped perhaps they’d develop a taste for it.

Tonight, at long last, I felt greatly rewarded for my efforts by the fact that all of them (well, all except Josiah, who let’s face it, won’t eat much of anything) really, really liked it!!! Hooray!

And so, I must write down the recipe, since all I did was make it up as I went along. I was inspired by Rachel, who posted a recipe for a chowder last week. Here’s my version (I just used what I had on hand, and amounts are somewhat approximate!):

1 onion, chopped

6 slices bacon, chopped

1 lb carrots, sliced

4 Tbs flour

2 cups homemade turkey broth

3/4 cup white wine

2 cans cream style corn, DO NOT DRAIN

1 lb frozen package corn, steamed in the microwave

1 can original Rotel, DO NOT DRAIN

chopped meat and cooking juices from oven-baking three chicken breasts with skin/bones

thyme, sage, salt, pepper, garlic, basil, all to taste

2 cups skim milk

3/4 sour cream

Dump onion, bacon, and carrot into a large Dutch oven and stir till onion and carrot are soft, and bacon is cooked. Add flour, stirring to make a roux of sorts. Add the rest of the ingredients up to and including spices. Bring to a soft boil, cooking till soup is thickened, just a few minutes. Add milk and sour cream, stir till heated, and serve.

A Visit From Old Friends

We greatly enjoyed our long break from school and work over the Thanksgiving holiday. The week-long vacation was only slightly impacted by half of the family succumbing to pink eye, and Josiah coming down with a whopper of a virus and a cough which has sadly kept him (and us) up for three nights in a row now.

Thankfully these ailments held off until our three day visit with the Pecks was almost complete. While they were here we enjoyed something we have missed dearly since their move a couple years ago: time together just being friends. While we never made the effort to sit the kids down and get all eight in one picture, here are a quite a few fun shots we did manage to capture. We are so glad they could come to visit!!

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Thoughts…

The other day, I dashed into the Home Depot to grab some paint for the desk I am redoing for Abigail’s room. Though I was only in the store for about fifteen minutes, while there, I managed to experience three separate instances where people were “emoting” at another individual quite openly – using language and behavior that was really sad to even overhear, and which I am certain deeply hurt the person who was being spoken to. It gave me pause for thought…

The first incident happened while I stood in line at the paint counter. The lady next to me was on the phone to (I’m assuming) her husband regarding a paint color in their home…and though I did not intend to eavesdrop it was sort of impossible not to since she stood only two feet from me, and given I have almost supersonic hearing, heheh. The wife was obviously frustrated with the guy on the other end of the phone and I caught the line where she told him to “Get off his lazy butt and go look at the color!”. Ouch; I’m guessing that husband didn’t enjoy being spoken to that way by his wife.

Then, while my creamy white paint was being mixed I stayed nearby and browsed paint swatches for our home. A little boy of about four to five came by and desperately wanted to take one of the several hundred color swatches with him, and reached for one. His father quickly intervened, roughly jerking his little arm and growling at him about how much trouble he was causing him, and that he’d better quit it, or else! How my heart sank for this little boy.

Not five minutes later as I checked out, I listened to the woman in the register line next to me who was almost hysterical, crying and yelling at the checker about some terrible mistake he had made. She went on and on and on. It was embarrassing to listen to, though I had had no part in whatever ill had been wrought. You can imagine how I felt for the guy behind the counter, no matter what his mistake.

I exited the store, deep in thought, thankful for the beautiful, spring-like weather, but saddened by yet more evidence that our world, though it certainly has its lovely points, is terribly poisoned by sin and the effects of that on all humanity. It’s not as though those three people in the Home Depot yesterday afternoon are unique. How many of us berate and tear down our spouses with our behavior instead of honoring and cherishing them with our words and actions ? How many of us parents discourage our children, treating them with impatience and anger instead of nurturing and loving them as we train them up? How many of us are quick to lose our temper and get frustrated with people who do wrong to us, whether intentional or otherwise? I myself am guilty of all this and much, much more.

When faced with our sin, particularly sin which hurts and tears down the people around us, we can rejoice that Jesus bore the punishment for all our nastiness and that through him we have forgiveness for our sins, and hope – hope that we don’t have to wallow in and remain trapped in our ugliness, as well as hope that God’s grace extends to heal relationships damaged by sin. While it is true that we will continue to struggle mightily with sin as long as we are upon this earth, we can fall upon God’s mercy to us in Christ’s death and resurrection, and trust his Holy Spirit to be at work in our hearts and lives, renewing us and helping us to put off sin, and instead become more like him.

The Bible uses the phrase “words of my mouth” so many times. I have not done a thorough study on this, but I am certain of this: just as God’s word and the things He speaks have great power, similarly, the speech we use has massive implications for both us and the people around us. How I pray that my speech may be more and more sanctified, helpful in building up those I love and come into contact with, instead of the other way around.

Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins;
Let them not have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless,
And I shall be innocent of great transgression.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.

—-Ps 19:13-14

For Grammy…

I’ll post more pictures later, but for now: I promised Grammy Ruth photographic proof that I’d actually managed to finish Abigail’s frock. So, here are the three of us at Living History Day today – Tricia is wearing an original gown by Ruth Horne (tank top strap not part of her work) while Abigail models Tricia’s latest creation (21st century turtleneck added for much-needed warmth). Both dresses designed by Abigail. Jonathan made do with his colonial duds purchased from a nice lady on Ebay. Gotta love that puffy shirt!

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And one more….

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Empowerment

This is absolutely genius.

Back of the House Gets A Face-lift

Ok, I am so not trying to turn this into a home-improvement blog. But there have been some fun things going on around here which I want to share. Many of our readers know that we did not buy our house for its cosmetic beauty, but because it was in a great area, had pretty good “bones”, and was in our price range. Frankly, much of it was pretty awful-looking when we bought it. But, we have been really thankful to be here.

So now, after many months, we have updated/improved/replaced many things which needed attention that were NOT cosmetic and which, while adding to the very important “soundness” of the home, didn’t do much to enhance the appearance of the house (think electrical, plumbing, gas lines, gutters). But this past week, we made the first profound improvement to the place cosmetically. And from the back at least, things are looking pretty nice!!

Here is a before shot of the back of our house. The folks who used to own the place let their dogs live out here (as well as several thousand colonies of fleas…which we have since evicted!), and they (the dogs, not the fleas!) did a number on the brick walls, back doors, deck floor. Ick.

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Here is how the other side looked, complete with random trash and Christmas lights (it was August!) left by previous owners:

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Here is the same spot now (with one lonely, albeit lovely chair which belongs to my lil’ sis):

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The pic doesn’t show it well, but the deck is actually a darker color than the house, so there is a bit of contrast. Still working on my Photoshop (or, in this case, Picasa) abilities…..

Here’s another before (remember this, Jamison?):

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And this afternoon:

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From what our sweet next-door neighbor tells us, this deck is over twenty years old, so I don’t know how long it will last, but hopefully we have just prolonged its life significantly with this latest TLC. I am loving this space. If you’re in the area, come on over for a glass of tea and a chat on the deck. We can fight over who gets to sit in my sister’s adirondack chair!

A Girl’s Best Friend…

…is, it turns out, her amazing new dishwasher!! When our vintage model, a KitchenAid Superba by Hobart…quite the machine in its day, my mother tells me…and indeed, I think ours had seen better days…

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gave up the ghost, I knew that ANYTHING would be a step up from washing all our dishes and utensils, pots and pans by hand. My month without a washer was helpful in demonstrating just how beneficial a real working dishwasher can be to the busy mommy of four. It was admittedly not a fun month, and I often felt as though I spent most of my waking hours in the kitchen, trying vainly to keep it somewhat tidy, while always staring at yet another stack of dirty dishes.

These past few weeks of having my new dishwasher has been a dream…I am very very grateful for this new convenience in our lives. I read a wee bit of the owner’s manual when we had the new washer installed (reading manuals is not my strong suit), enough to see that the company advises you NOT to prerinse your dishes before loading; only to scrape food from them, and place in the washer for cleaning. Never having owned a washer which would actually clean dishes that weren’t prerinsed, neither Jay nor I believed this would actually work, so we, being creatures of habit, loaded some well-rinsed dishes into the machine for its first cycle, and of course were pleased when they emerged an hour later, washed, hot and almost dry. And we were truthfully even a little surprised, especially since we couldn’t easily tell the hard-working washer was actually running….it was so quiet. (See? They have to put these nice little blue lights on the front so you can visually tell that it’s running, since you might not know otherwise.):

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We had been very used to a lot of noise coming from the dishwasher, given that our previous model pretty much made it sound like a train was crashing through the kitchen every time we ran it.

Well, about a week later we got gutsy and decided to see if the new washer actually lived up to its lofty claims. It was hard for us, but we resisted the urge to prerinse our dirty dishes. Instead we loaded the arrogant machine up with rubber scrapers caked in peanut butter, a broiler pan with crusted fish that had been cooked on at extremely high heat, a pie plate with some scattered remains of chicken pie which had hardened nicely over it, bowls covered with dried raw egg on the insides, well, you get the picture. We threw them in, poured in the scant amount of cleaner we were instructed to include, ran the dishwasher through its water-saving, whisper-quiet cycle, and were truly shocked when everything came out clean and fresh the next morning. Clean. Dry. Spotless. Not even a water spot. Wow.

Well, needless to say, I am in love. I have never owned a dishwasher like this. I honestly didn’t know such a thing even existed, much less at a price the average middle class homeowner could afford. As God is my witness, if we ever decide to move from this house, I will uninstall this precious dishwasher from its place under the countertop by myself, wrap it in a comfy blanket, and carry it on my back to our new place of residence.

Here’s a picture of my new best friend (IMHO it hardly does the wonderful machine justice, but of course after all this blathering I must include a photo):

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Children’s Art in Holiday Decor

I’ve done other posts on using your children’s art to enhance your home. While I’m really just beginning to learn how to do this, I am already so pleased with my very humble results. I don’t know much about art in general, but I know enough to realize that looking at these little creations around our house makes me very happy.

A couple of weeks ago, Meredith posted regarding holiday decorations, posing the question as to how much “stuff” we keep stored year after year to pull out for seasonal decorations. Until recently, I didn’t have too much stored away for seasonal decor except for the Christmas decorations. But little by little I am pulling a few things together for some of the other seasons of the year which lend themselves to pretty touches in our home.

This year I enjoyed decorating for fall. A few pumpkins here, a smattering of cinnamon sticks and potpourri there. But my favorite “new” decoration this fall is this funny little turkey that my sweet Jonathan did back when he was about three and a half years old. A quick trip to Hobby Lobby for a great frame and a custom mat, and I have preserved my little guy’s “art” for many a Thanksgiving to come…

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