Friday, July 30, 2010

Fiery Grilled Shrimp with Sweet Salsa

It's hard to believe this was five summers ago. Those trees are almost twenty feet high now.

My, how things have changed. Look at those little baby hydrangeas! And the swingset back there...gone.

I miss that new wood look and those very crisp looking pavers. Shade = Moss

I introduced this recipe a few years ago at one of our first parties on the patio. It's a great appetizer that always receives many compliments. I don't think I've ever had any leftovers!

Fiery Grilled Shrimp with Sweet Salsa

What you will need:

1 pound large shrimp
1 cup fresh pineapple, chopped
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 small tomato, diced
1/2 cup olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Peel shrimp and devein; set aside. In a medium-sized bowl, combine lemon juice, 1/4 cup olive oil, minced garlic, and red pepper flakes. Add shrimp and stir to coat. Let sit for about 20 minutes. In a separate bowl combine pineapple, tomato, onion, and parsley. Drizzle remaining oil on mixture and stir. Remove shrimp from marinade and grill until shrimp are pink. Plate shrimp and top with salsa.

Note from Michelle: The shrimp can also be broiled or cooked in a hot cast iron skillet.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mr. Wonderful

This Christmas photo popped up on the computer today, so I thought I'd post it here just in case you thought I was kidding.

He really is Mr. Wonderful.

And for the record, I am not Mrs. Wonderful. I'm just married to him!

Yours truly,

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Thumb Sucking and Kisses

Thumb sucking ...

and kisses

My sister-in-love sent me these two pictures from our get together last week. I thought they were so adorable. We have a picture of Rachel and Ally-Bug's older brother, Evan, when he was about the same age. Instead of thumb sucking they were both chewing on a television remote. Rachel doesn't seem to mind placing herself in the shoes of her little cousins.


I feel like life's been a little crazy of late. As Willy Wonka once said, "So much time, and so little to do. Strike that, reverse it."

Yesterday all of my eBay sales ended. I wasn't home to watch the final count downs. I suppose that didn't change anything. I can remember getting so excited with my very first eBay auctions...watching the final couple of minutes, especially if the price kept jumping up every few seconds. Love that! I have no idea if that happened this time. Anyway, everyone except two buyers were kind enough to pay me immediately so, everything was shipped out this afternoon, except to the two buyers who haven't paid me. I sometimes feel like I live to get things checked-off my To Do list. I know. Terrible.

A couple of weeks ago, I took some time and wrote down everything I'm planning on doing with the kids for school come September. Then I got out my big fat Rainbow Resource catalog and wrote down all of the items I need to buy. The eBay sales helped make this process a little easier to handle this year. But the choosing and implementing gets easier the longer I homeschool. This year we're very excited to be joining a homeschool co-op. The kids cannot wait to see their friends and make new ones along the way. Me, I'm thinking I might get to spend a little of that time quilting.

Speaking of quilting. Mrs. Nagy and I got together last Friday and she helped me cut out all of my pieces-parts. Oh, it was quite exciting. I ended up designing my own quilt, you know. I don't have a name for it yet (it's OK to laugh here). She said she was very proud of me and thought the design was very lovely. So there. I am taking pictures of the process and hope to have an update very soon.

I have no intentions of going to bed this evening with my thumb stuck in my mouth. Can't say I've ever done that. I am planning on, however, getting in as usual, some big juicy kisses to all of my family members. Even Jesse puppy. Less the juicy part, of course.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Fresh Peach Salsa

We're under a severe weather warning that's been in effect all day and through this evening. It's for an extreme heat advisory. I think our air conditioning has been running non-stop. I guess so. They're saying that right at this moment it feels like it's 98 degrees outside. Not exactly a day to be cooking anything. Not even grilling.

I went through my huge 3-ring binder of recipes and came across this one. It's a fabulous recipe and would be great on a day like today. Or any day, really. It's just plain yummy!

Fresh Peach Salsa

What you will need:

2 large tomatoes
2 medium-size ripe peaches, peeled, halved, and pitted
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup finely chopped red or green bell pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 to 3 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup lightly packed cilantro or Italian parsley leaves, chopped

Tip: To seed the tomatoes, slice them in half crosswise and, working over a dish, use a finger to gently push out the juice and seeds.

1. Core, seed, and finely dice the tomatoes. Place them in a medium mixing bowl. Finely chop the peaches and add them to the tomatoes.

2. Stir the remaining ingredients into the salsa, adding the lesser amounts of lime juice and sugar at first. Wait a few minutes, then taste the salsa and add more if needed. Cover and refrigerate the salsa until serving time. Makes about 3 cups. Serve with tortilla chips.

Note: You will definitely want to double this recipe!


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Travel Kits TOS Product Review

Chapter One begins with “For those of you who like to “cut to the chase,” here’s an overview of Travel Kits.” And in less than a page and a half, the reader finds out the Who, What, When, Where, How and Why. I am definitely one of “those” people and was happy to find out quickly what the next 85 pages of text and tons of beautiful photos were all about.

Simply put, Travel Kits are for travelers to help make lengthy travel for passengers more enjoyable. Knowing ahead of time how many travelers there will be, along with the length of the trip, helps plan out all the wonderful details. I think Travel Kits are a blessing not only to the travelers who receive them, but to the creator and giver.

I will say that upon receiving and reviewing this e-book, my mind was racing at all the possibilities. Soon, my family and I will be driving in our van for a total of 48 hours. Thankfully, it’s over a three week period of time. But still, you can see why I would be very interested in looking into some creative ways to keep my travelers comfortable and happy while we’re on the road.

One of the pages that caught my eye entailed Preparing Your Vehicle for the trip. Just scanning the list was so helpful. I am one of “those” who would forget coins for toll roads. Since it is my responsibility to prepare and pack everything and everyone for the trip, I can’t wait to hand over the preparation list to Mr. Wonderful! He’s great at covering all the bases.

While the entire e-book was so creative and gave me many ideas, Chapter Twelve met me right where I am in life. A Box of Blessings, which is quite different from a Travel Kit, is a gift that is created to encourage, uplift, and give the recipient a reminder that he or she is loved. I will be making two of these Blessings and cannot wait to see how the Lord will guide me and bless my children while they are away from home. When the time is just right, I will share all the wonderful details about the Box of Blessings I created and the impact it had on my children.

So, try to imagine a small wicker basket, a beautiful gift bag, a hat box, or even a decorated shoebox filled with individually wrapped gifts. I immediately think of books (including sticker books, coloring books and markers), books on CD, crossword puzzles, chewing gum and your travelers' favorite candy (I loved the idea of using a large pill dispenser to hold little candy treats), gift cards for stops along the way, DVDs for use with a portable DVD player, cross-stitch kits, and travel-size games. The possibilities are endless. Each kit can be made to suit the age and likes of the traveler. Who wouldn’t like to go through a bag or basket of surprise goodies made especially for them? Virtually anything I can think up, the creator of Travel Kits, Donna Rees, has thought of already. There are tons of photos, tourism websites, recommended books (by age of the reader) and snack recipes. Yes, even recipes!

But just to keep it real, I would say the only slight drawback that came to mind (besides shredded wrapping paper in a neat-freak’s clean car!) was the possibility that a Travel Kit may encourage some kids to (1) expect to have a surprise of some sort every time they get in the car, or (2) feel they should be entertained every time they travel. When giving a Travel Kit to younger children, a teachable moment can occur. After all, this is a very special occasion. I remember talking to our children when they were very young and took them shopping for the first time. We made it clear to them that we do not buy stuff (toys, candy, goodies) just because they see something they think they have to have. It’s a great life lesson and helps develop self-control. And so with Travel Kits, I think realistic expectations should be set and talked through with younger children.

The cover of this e-book says, “A Simple Way to Bless Others.” I absolutely agree and highly recommend this wonderful resource for families who travel or for friends of families who travel and want to be a blessing. A blessing indeed!

Here's the product scoop:

Vendor Name and Contact Information: The Old Schoolhouse Magazine
Name of Product: Travel Kits
Price: $12.45
Age Range: 1 to 100
To check out some of their other products, click here.

To learn what my fellow Crew Mates had to say about this product, visit this site.

Happy trails, my friends!

I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for a thorough and honest review. Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of cash for my reviews. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences on the products and services that I receive.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Not Today

Did you see me do this today? Oh, yea. That would be me.

It's been one of those days.

One of those days.

I woke-up early this morning to find that horrible little message hovering over the left-hand corner of my blog. Do you see it up there? Nice, huh? Not exactly the kind of thing I was expecting with my cup of coffee. Along with thousands of other Cutest Little Blog on the Block users, we all received this same warning. I feel badly for the website. Photobucket, which hosts their blogger backgrounds, decided they were using too much of their bandwidth and pulled the "it ain't free no more" line on them. Instead of choosing to charge all of their users a fee, they are withdrawing from Photobucket (at least that's the impression I got) and are in the process of moving their items elsewhere. Until they can get everything up and running (and change all those HTML codes), my blog background will "poof" disappear. There's so much traffic on their site that it's impossible to access. Anyway, now I get to figure out how to find another one (which won't look anything like this one) or I may try and really scare myself and make my own. Just not today. Not today.

Then I decided, with much gnashing of teeth and white knuckles, to list a number of items on eBay. Nineteen auctions to be exact. If it weren't for needing to sell the past two years of homeschooling curriculum in order to buy this year's curriculum, the stuff would still be sitting on a bookshelf. I don't really care much for eBay. Why? Because I love how they decide what's best for me and my potential buyers. Like, for example, selling books and shipping them via media mail. I could not have a shipping cost that was more than $4. They informed me that most of their buyers won't pay more than that anyway. Well, just what exactly am I suppose to charge for two books being sold together that weigh 11 pounds? According to eBay, $4. Hopefully, all of my potential buyers will be in a big hurry and request Priority Mail. I know a week from now I'll be happy I'm done with it all, but not today. Not today.

But there is some good news...

Tomorrow's blog will be on my first official product review for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. It's pretty exciting for me. I hope you enjoy it!

In the midst of it all, there were some big rays of sunshine as the kids and I spent the afternoon with all of my sisters-in-love and their kids. It was another Wonderful Wednesday! I think we all needed a break and what better way than to send the kids off to play together while we gathered around the table, munching on goodies, and talking. And talking. And talking.

Too bad it had to end. It's so much more enjoyable sitting and talking and munching with the sisters-in-love. But I'm back to reality. I'm home. My desk is overflowing with papers (which is starting to drive Mr. Wonderful crazy).

I will not go to bed screaming.
I will not go to bed screaming.
I will not go to bed screaming.

At least not today!

There. I feel better.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What a Difference a Year Makes

I'm not a girl that goes out shopping and buys tons of shoes (ha ha I could or anything!) or purses or clothes. Actually, I hate shopping. I know, weird. I do enjoy buying books though. Just ask Mr. Wonderful. Well, if there's one little teeny-weeny thing I really love doing every year, the Saturday before Mother's Day, it's going flower shopping. It's not the shopping part I enjoy as much as the planting part. I just LOVE planting flowers.

I am not planning on rambling here since these pictures speak for themselves. I will point out, however, that Mr. Wonderful gets a little unsettled (um, nuts is a better word I suppose) when he sees me taking lots of pictures of my flowers. They just take up space on his hard drive. It's true. I've never done anything with all those flower photos until now. Well, except enjoy them whenever they pop-up on the computer. Who knew this year some of those photos would be needed so badly.

The following pictures are from exactly one year ago...

July 2009

And I just took these pictures...

July 2010

Mmmm hmmm. This is the huge pot in the first photo, the one with the Elephant Ear sticking out of the middle. This is also the pot that was emptied of its flowers, one by one. We have come to learn that perhaps our little flying squirrel friends have been munching on them. So nice of them to choose to eat from the great big pot.
I have never ever had such a pathetic batch of flowers. Never ever. It's quite depressing, actually. I refuse to go buy new flowers though. And no, I didn't do anything differently. I bought the same flowers (different colors) from the same greenhouse I go to every year.

Sad, isn't it?

But hey! Did you see last year's hydrangeas (the 4th picture from the top)? There was hardly anything there but leaves. This year's hydrangeas are overflowing. And I am thankful!

What a difference a year makes. In many more ways than I could have ever imagined.

Here's hoping your flowers are much more lovely than mine,

Monday, July 19, 2010

Unexpected Blessings

Last week held a few wonderful little surprises for me. One of them was a last minute get together with my sister-in-love, Julie, and her two younglings, Evan and Allison (aka Ally-Bug). We all witnessed with our very own eyes little Ally-Bug crawl for the first time. And if that wasn't enough, this little six-month old mozied on over to the step which goes from our great room to the kitchen. She had her eyes on Jesse puppy who was asleep under the kitchen table. That little stinker went from crawling to climbing in a matter of minutes! Of course we couldn't help ourselves and cheered her on, giving her a wild round of applause. I'm afraid for you, my dear sister-in-love!

After spending the afternoon together, we hopped into our cars and headed over to a nearby DQ for a cold treat on such a hot and humid day. So imagine my surprise when we arrived home to hear Caleb say, "Mama, have you been in the bathroom?" Drawing out my answer in a very concerned way, I say, "Noooooo." "Well, I think you need to go into the bathroom." My mind is imagining something terrible like an overflowing toilet or a creepy creature of some sort. But he quickly added, "Don't worry, everything's OK." So picture this--the entire family walks together and slowly enters the bathroom. And this is what we find...

Do you see it?

Oh, look! It's a present for Yours Truly! My sister-in-love, as sweet as anyone could ever be, left behind this beautiful card and precious angel. Honestly, it made my day. No, it made my week.

So, my friends, here's a wonderful idea for you to encourage someone special. Be sure to leave your little blessing in an unexpected place.

Last Monday night I called my dear friend, Mrs. Nagy, and invited her to join Rachel and me for an impromptu trip to Amish Country. Tuesday morning we headed out with something very specific in mind. I was on a quest, you know. I think I might have mentioned it a few posts back. I want to make a quilt just for me.

Here's what I came home with...

Beautiful, don't you think? Yes, I know it will be a very long time before this quilt is finished, but I just couldn't wait to show off the gorgeous fabric we found. It was so much fun shopping for fabric. Who knew? The colors will look beautiful with the furniture in our great room. Oh, I cannot wait! Can you even believe it? I can't.

And here's one last little tidbit, completely unrelated except by the title of this post, I thought I'd share with you. I was reminded of it last night while we were at church. I heard this many, many years ago and included it in a Bible study Rachel and I went through together. Post it on your refrigerator. Teach it to your children. Have them memorize it.

Sow a thought, reap an act.
Sow an act, reap a habit.
Sow a habit, reap a character.
Sow a character, reap a destiny.

We were reminded once again last evening that following Jesus is very serious business. Watch your life and your doctrine carefully.

Your friend,

Friday, July 16, 2010

Banana Cream Supreme

Half of my hydrangeas 2010...yes, half

It's Friday and it's recipe day. Yeah! Actually, Rachel and I have been on a bit of a cooking spree of sorts since last night. She whipped up the best batch of Quick Homemade Salsa since it's always good to have some on hand for the weekend. Two days ago I had taken a turkey breast out of the freezer and realized this morning I had best do something with it. So I prepped and roasted it. In the words of Rachael Ray, "Yummo!" Did you know that you should roast a turkey and/or turkey breast upside down? Yep. It self-bastes that way. It may not come out looking like the cover of Better Homes and Gardens, but it's guaranteed to be the most moist turkey you've ever eaten. Anyway, should make great sandwiches tonight and tomorrow and the next day. Anyone want some roasted turkey breast?

Then, as if that wasn't enough, we whipped up some fresh baked pies. We decided that words starting with the letter "P" should somehow be applied to our day. So, PIES, PATIO, PIANO PLAYING on the PATIO, and PALS (I know, that's a stretch) should be included. But that's what we're intending to do. GUITAR PLAYING too, but unfortunately guitar doesn't start with a "P".

None of this has anything to do with today's recipe except, I suppose, it's originally from Pampered Chef (you know, a "P" word). But it shouldn't surprise you that I have altered the recipe. I made this a couple of times many years ago and the thing never set-up for me. It was like cutting thick soup. I am convinced the original recipe was wrong although I still see it out there floating around on the Web. I changed one item: sour cream to cream cheese. It's worked every time since. So there.

Banana Cream Supreme

What you will need:

16 (2½-inch) graham cracker squares (1¼ cups chopped)*
¼ cup butter or margarine melted
3 tablespoons sugar
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese
½ cup cold milk
1 package (3.4 ounces) vanilla instant pudding
1 container (12 ounces) Cool Whip (thawed)
3 medium bananas, sliced
2 tablespoons pecans, grated
Raspberries and mint leaves (optional)

Mix together chopped graham crackers, butter and sugar. Press crumb mixture onto bottom of 9” springform pan. Beat cream cheese and milk until well blended; add pudding mix and blend until pudding is dissolved. Add whipped topping, mixing until well blended. Spread half of filling over crust; arrange sliced bananas over filling. Spread remaining filling over bananas. Grate pecans over top and garnish with raspberries and mint leaves, if desired. Refrigerate. To serve, remove collar from springform pan.

Note: I am known to double the filling. And why not?

Now about those hydrangeas up there...they have nothing to do with this recipe either except they are located on the patio and they are absolutely fabulous this year. Last year I had lots of green leaves and only a handful of blooms (which I dried). This year, well, the picture speaks for itself. Someone said it was due to the warm spring weather. Be sure, there's another planter just like that one on the other side of the grill and counter. It's also overflowing with pink and blue blossoms. Helps to make up for my pathetic impatiens (which happen to be the worse pots of flowers since I've been planting them...14 years).

Enjoy and enjoy!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Standing Still Before the Thorns

Photo courtesy of Martin LaBar

I'm working on a little project which I am not at liberty to share at the moment. It requires much research on my part and I must say, I'm enjoying my time. I often come across things that may not help the project per se, but they help me. The other day, I got so sidetracked I forgot what I was suppose to be doing and ended up doing, well, I guess what I was really suppose to be doing. Funny how that works sometimes.


From Streams in the Desert ... August 16

In waiting, I waited for the Lord (Psalm 40:1, margin)

Waiting is much more difficult than walking. Waiting requires patience, and patience is a rare virtue. It is fine to know that God builds hedges around His people--when the hedge is looked at from the viewpoint of protection. But when the hedge is kept around one until it grows so high that he cannot see over the top, and wonders whether he is ever to get out of the little sphere of influence and service in which he is pent up, it is hard for him sometimes to understand why he may not have a larger environment--hard for him to "brighten the corner" where he is.

But God has a purpose in all HIS holdups. "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord." reads Psalm 37:23.

On the margin of his Bible at this verse George Mueller had a notation, "And the stops also." It is a sad mistake for men to break through God's hedges. It is a vital principle of guidance for a Christian never to move out of the place in which he is sure God has placed him, until the Pillar of Cloud moves. FROM SUNDAY SCHOOL TIMES


I was reminded of a book I read to my children in our early years of homeschooling. We had a little tradition that if a big snow storm (aka blizzard) caught us by surprise, we would cancel school and spend the day together snuggled on the sofa reading a Lamplighter book from cover to cover. Yes, it took a couple of hours or so, but these books are quite difficult to put down. We'd finish a chapter and the kids would say, "Oh, read one more!" and we'd read another chapter and it would happen again and again until the entire book was read. Oh, those were wonderful times and memories I'll treasure forever.

One of our earliest Lamplighter books was called The Hedge of Thorns, written in 1819. This book made such an impact on my children that I am certain, to this day, they have never forgotten the story. This true story is written in such a way that the reader and listeners are captivated and drawn into this story about a boy who learns the hard way that choices we make can harm those we love most.

In some ways my life has been on hold for many months now. From time to time I have found great difficulty in dealing with the waiting. I can't tell you how many times I have wanted to take control and just do something. Anything but wait.

Have I ever mentioned what an impatient person Yours Truly can be sometimes? I'm sorry to say it's so true. They aint kiddin' when they say patience is a rare virtue.

I am so thankful the Lord is patient with me while I struggle and attempt to approach the hedge He has built in my life. Sometimes the circumstances are such that I don't always think it's there for my protection. I just think it's in my way. My way. I suppose that's why I am so thankful that when I feel the sting of the thorns, I move back. Unfortunately, sometimes as I wait, I so easily forget what it feels like to get stuck and find myself moving closer time and time again. I can hear Jesus saying to his disciples, "Are you still so dull?" [Matthew 15:16 ]

Lord, I am so dull. Sometimes it takes me a long time to get it. And stay put.
Please forgive my lack of trust and faith. My disobedience.
Please give me strength to wait upon you.


When we learn to wait for our Lord's lead in everything, we shall know the strength that finds its climax in an even, steady walk. Many of us are lacking in the strength we so covet. But God gives full power for every task He appoints. Waiting, holding oneself true to His lead--this is the secret of strength. And anything that falls out of the line of obedience is a waste of time and strength. Watch for His leading. S. D. GORDON

Must life be a failure for one compelled to stand still in enforced inaction and see the great throbbing tides of life go by? No; victory is then to be gotten by standing still, by quiet waiting. It is a thousand times harder to do this than it was in the active days to rush on in the columns of stirring life. It requires a grander heroism to stand and wait and not lose heart and not lose hope, to submit to the will of God, to give up work and honors to others, to be quiet, confident and rejoicing, while the happy, busy multitude go on and away. It is the grandest life "having done all, to stand." J.R. MILLER

Praying for patience and the Lord's leading,

P.S. Remember it is not a sin to enjoy the fragrance of the rose, but he who grasps after its beauty carelessly will reap the pain and suffering of its hidden barbs. Excerpt from Hedge of Thorns

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Salvation's Song

This morning as Rachel was practicing piano, I kept hearing a few joined notes that sounded so familiar to me. I actually stopped her and asked her to play the notes again. And she did. It wasn't the song I thought it was, but it got me to thinking, singing, longing, and remembering. I just couldn't get it off my mind. Caleb and Rachel joined the adult choir for Easter this year and this was one of the songs they had sung. I don't think I can quite grasp what worship will sound like when Believers are gathered at the Throne someday, but it certainly gave me a tiny glimpse. I will never forget that moment nor this song.

I went to YouTube to see if, by chance, the song was there. Sure enough, there it was. And sung by none other than Stuart Townend himself. If you are at all familiar with modern-day hymn writers, Keith and Kristyn Getty, then you know Stuart Townend. They write many of their songs together.

If you haven't heard this song before, read through the words and then play the video. The prelude is about a minute long on the video but, trust me, it's so worth your time.

Salvation's Song

Loved before the dawn of time.
Chosen by my Maker,
hidden in my Saviour,
I am His and He is mine;
cherished for eternity.

When I'm stained with guilt and sin,
He is there to lift me,
heal me and forgive me.
Gives me strength to stand again;
stronger than I was before.

So with every breath that I am given
I will sing Salvation's song;
and I'll join the chorus of creation,
giving praise to Christ alone.

All the chains of Satan's curse
lifted through His off'ring
satisfied through suff'ring
All the blessings He deserves,
poured on my unworthy soul.

So with every breath that I am given
I will sing Salvation's song;
and I'll join the chorus of creation,
giving praise to Christ alone.

Singing glory, honour, wisdom, power
to the Lamb upon the Throne.
Hallelujah, I will lift Him high.

Singing glory, honour, wisdom, power
to the Lamb upon the Throne.
Hallelujah, I will sing with every breath that I am given
I will sing Salvation's song;
and I'll join the chorus of creation,
giving praise to Christ alone.

Stars will fade and mountains fall,
Christ will shine forever,
Love's unfading splendour.
Earth and heav'n will bow in awe,
joining in Salvation's song.

Stuart Townend and Andrew Small
Arrangement: Paul Campbell

Stars will fade and mountains fall...Christ will shine forever,

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Feet and a Red Hat

The kids love to take pictures of themselves while they're airborne. I'm always amazed at their ability to capture that single moment in time when they're suspended in midair.

Keep in mind if I did this particular pose (please, like I really could), my giant foot would cover over most of my face and torso. I know, sad isn't it? But I didn't get to place an order for pretty little dainty feet. When I was a little girl, my father told me often that one day I would grow-up and get a job stomping out forest fires. Oh. Yes. He. Did.

I love what she's got going on here with her mouth. Sorry, Little Missy. It's an extremely kissable look though.

I'm certain with this look and that light saber, Caleb could take on (or off, I should say) any evil villain that dares to cross his path. The hat? Well, I don't know about the hat. It sure is red though.

This is one of our jump-shot favorites. I think we were all pretty impressed with the height Caleb reached on this particular jump. Look where his head is! That's a ten foot ceiling. It's a good thing he's got the hat on. That red hat.

Me? I like to keep my big old feet on the ground. Thank you very much.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Grace and Peace

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.
Isaiah 40:8

When we arrive for worship each Sunday morning, our favorite usher greets us with a smile and places in our hands the Weekly Bulletin. The bulletin contains the kinds of things that might immediately come to mind, but there's a special little section I usually go to right away. It's called Preparing for Worship.

This is what was recorded there yesterday...

"If you believe that God ought to bless you and help you because you have worked so hard to obey him and be a good person, then Jesus may be your helper, your example, even your inspiration, but he is not your Savior. You are serving as your own Savior."

Timothy Keller
Excerpt from the book "The Prodigal God"

I don't know about you, but I had to read that through a couple of times to take it all in. Are you serving as your own Savior? I remember many years ago thinking there was something I had to do. I didn't know what it was, but I just figured there was something. I was wrong.

Here's one way I knew for sure...

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9

Rachel has been cutting out and saving these Preparing for Worship quotes for quite some time. I asked her to bring me a few and she ended up bringing me a stack! So, here are a couple of quotes that touched my heart. I hope they touch your heart too.

"But I am a great sinner, sayest thou.
'I will in no wise cast out,' says Christ.
But I am an old sinner, sayest thou.
'I will in no wise cast out,' says Christ.
But I am a hard-hearted sinner, sayest thou.
'I will in no wise cast out,' says Christ.
But I have served Satan all my days, sayest thou.
'I will in no wise cast out,' says Christ.
But I have no good thing to bring with me, sayest thou.
'I will in no wise cast out,' says Christ.
Thus I might go on to the end of things, and show you that still this promise was provided to answer all objects."

John Bunyan (1628-1688)
Excerpt from the book, Fearless Pilgrim

"Jesus has forced open a door that had been locked since the death of the first man. He has met, fought and beaten the King of Death. Everything is different because he has done so."

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)

"Could any privilege be greater than that fallen and sinful creatures should be pardoned by the great God and brought into eternal fellowship with Himself in Christ? This is the privilege and honor that the Eternal has given to all who are in Christ."

Maurice Roberts
Pastor and Author

Scribbles in my Bible...

Grace--what God gives us that we don't deserve

Mercy--what God does not give us yet what we do deserve (punishment and death)

Grace and peace in the Lord Jesus Christ,

Friday, July 9, 2010

Southern Sweet Tea

Personally, I don't care for lemon in my iced tea

It's been in the 90's here for the past week. You'd think after living through one of the longest and coldest winters, we'd be happy. Uh, no. It's easy to forget all the snow and cold on days like we've had this week. One either needs to be in a cool swimming pool or an air-conditioned room. At the moment, it's raining. You'd think that would cool things off. Nope. It has just made things all the worse. It's hot, humid, sticky, and raining!

There's nothing better to beat the heat than to have your hand wrapped around a long cold glass of Southern Sweet Tea. I might just have to go make a gallon!

Southern Sweet Tea

What you will need:

8 Lipton tea bags (or your favorite tea--I love blackberry)
1 1/4 cups of sugar
1 gallon container

Into a large sauce pan, pour 12 cups of cold water. Add sugar and stir. Bring water and sugar mixture to a boil until all the sugar dissolves. Lower heat to simmer, and add tea bags. Let tea bags steep for 2 to 4 minutes. Carefully remove tea bags. Carefully pour hot mixture into 1 gallon container. Add enough cold water to fill the container, making one gallon. Place in refrigerator until cold and serve over ice.

Note: If you happen to have fresh mint available, take several mint leaves and roll them between your fingers, crushing them to release the mint oil. Place mint in the bottom of the glass and fill with ice and iced tea. Stir well.

I happen to have a 12-cup coffee maker I use just for making iced tea. Follow the directions above, except put the sugar in the bottom of the coffee pot and the tea bags where the coffee filter would be placed (there is no need to use a coffee filter unless you are using loose leaf tea). My coffee maker happens to have a "sneak a cup" stopper which allows the coffee pot to be removed while the coffee is still brewing. If your coffee maker has the same feature, pull the pot out when it's about 1/3 full and stir to help the sugar dissolve. After the 12 cups have brewed, pour the hot tea and sugar mixture into the one gallon container, stir and fill to the top with cold water. Refrigerate until cold and serve over ice.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Dreams Do Come True

I know it's been a while, but do you remember Big Dreamin? Or perhaps you remember this very disturbing post? While it would seem that I haven't spoken on this subject for a while, I have been very busy. Just last week, I spent eight hours with my favorite sewing teacher and mentor, Mrs. Nagy. It was just the two of us and we were on a mission. Let me just say this again, I just love that woman. I feel like she was hand-picked by the Lord, just for me, when I needed her most.

If you remember, I started a crib-size quilt that was going to be just for me. It was a practice quilt. The more I worked on it, however, the lovelier it became. I decided I wanted to give it to Rachel. I also decided I wanted to do something special for her since she's going to camp and will be away from home for the very first time. So, I made a special quilt pocket embroidered with her name. The pocket is meant for me to tuck inside love letters to Rachel. The quilt was suppose to be a surprise on the day she arrived at camp (you know, she opens her luggage and finds it stashed away), but circumstances forced me to give-up all the secrecy and present it to her a little early. Actually, I was relieved. It's hard keeping a secret around here! The pocket isn't quite finished, but it will be very soon. And I can't wait to tuck inside that pocket the very first quilt love letter.

One steamy afternoon we all went to Hobby Lobby to walk around and do some sight seeing. Out of the blue, Caleb tells me he knows what I can get him for his birthday. A quilt! Little did he know I had planned on making him a quilt since he's going to camp too. He will be away from home for the first time and will be gone for two full weeks. That's fourteen days. Please pray for me. His request made things a little easier on me. No more sneaking around and he picked out the fabric he wanted. Well, it just so happens Mrs. Nagy walked into Hobby Lobby while we were there looking around. Caleb was convinced we had planned it, but it was absolutely coincidental (divine meeting is what I like to call it). Mrs. Nagy helped us with some of the decision making and thought Caleb's selection was quite lovely. His quilt was much easier since it's not actually quilted like Rachel's. I finished it in five days!

Drum roll please... Michelle's very first quilts!

The circles were fun to stitch and we all love that satin border

Mrs. Nagy was kind enough to machine sew the satin border

My very first embroidered stitches...not bad, eh?

Sleeping Beauty slumbering with her quilt for the very first time

Caleb's quilt is cotton twill on the front and flannel on the back

I used black cotton yarn to create the quilting

I lazy-daisy stitched Caleb's name on the front of the quilt before basting it together

Prince Charming sleeping with his quilt for the very first time

Oh, did I ever love making something so special to present to both of my kids. I absolutely loved seeing them snuggling with their quilts early the next morning.

With the kids heading out for camp soon, I think the next person who will need a quilt, a big squishy comfy quilt, is Yours Truly. I am already looking forward to going back to Hobby Lobby and lingering in the fabric department.

Let me say this for the record: I love quilting

And just in case you're wondering, dreams do come true!