Monday, October 25, 2010

The Majesty of God

Psalm 8
Devine Majesty

O Lord, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouths of babes and infants
you have founded a bulwark because of your foes,
to silence the enemy and the avenger.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established;
what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mortals that you care for them?

Yet you have made them a little lower than God,
and crowned them with glory and honour.
You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under their feet,
all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

My heart is here today,

Friday, October 22, 2010

Delicious Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin Bread as a mini-loaf

I wish I had made a note of the date the first time I made this recipe. I believe it was the first "bread" I ever attempted to make (although come to think of it, I probably made banana bread about the same time).

If memory serves me correctly, the original recipe was clipped out of an early Taste of Home magazine. I messed around with different toppings I thought might add to its deliciousness. You know, if you can add pizazz, why not.

Many years ago in the dead of winter, when the kids were still very little, I can remember standing in my kitchen and hearing a strange noise. I had no idea what it was. As I looked out our front window, I found a man, all bundled-up, using a snow blower to clear our driveway. I walked outside to find our new neighbor (they had only moved into their house a few months prior) hiding beneath the big hat and scarf. He said, "You know, I'm retired and I see your husband works long days and is a young father. I have lots of time on my hands. I remember what it was like having so many responsibilities. This gives me something to do and he won't have to worry about shoveling the driveway when he gets home."

Wow, is right.

Although he later protested, I couldn't let this opportunity go by without thanking him in a special way. I delivered warm pumpkin bread to him and his wife. I used my homemade cinnamon and sugar topping (which, when baked, creates a crunchy crust) and later found he absolutely loved it. And so every time Cliff would come and snow blow the driveway, I found my way to his house with warm pumpkin bread. He and his wife were two beautiful people and lovely neighbors.

I remember just a couple of summers later seeing Cliff and his wife at the post office. I said hello and commented to him about his new pick-up truck. He didn't seem himself, but I didn't make a big deal of it. I figured that maybe I had caught him at a bad time. A short while later I saw his wife out in the front yard working alongside her grandchildren. But I didn't see Cliff. Imagine my absolute shock to find out that Cliff had been diagnosed with lung cancer (he had never smoked a day in his life) and had died only a short time after I had seen him. I just couldn't believe it. It turns out, I had caught him at a bad time after all. I wonder if I had asked if everything was OK if he would have told me. I don't know. I just remember thinking we never knew to pray for our neighbors when they were in such need.

Cliff's wife, Pat, sold the big house quickly and we kept in touch at Christmastime for many years. I can't help but think of our loving and kind neighbor as I post this recipe. It was Cliff's favorite.

Delicious Pumpkin Bread
(Makes two full-size loaves)

Things you will need:

5 eggs
1-1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 can (15 oz.) solid-pack pumpkin
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 packages (3 oz. each) cook and serve vanilla pudding mix
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt

In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs. Add oil and pumpkin; beat until smooth. Combine remaining ingredients; gradually beat into pumpkin mixture. Pour batter into two greased 8” x 4” x 2” loaf pans. Bake at 325 degrees for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Do not over bake! Cool on wire racks.

Michelle's variations for toppings:

For Cinnamon Sugar, blend together 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon (you won't need all of this--use some for cinnamon toast). Generously sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture on top of pumpkin bread batter before baking. For additional yumminess, add some chopped pecans.

For Crumb Topping, in a small bowl, mix together 1/3 cup packed brown sugar, 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon cold butter. With a fork or pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembled coarse cornmeal. Add chopped pecans if desired. Sprinkle over top of pumpkin bread batter before baking.

Additional notes from Michelle:

* A doubled recipe will fill 5 disposable loaf pans (8" x 3 7/8" x 215/32"); bake time is still the same. These mini-loaves make wonderful Christmas gifts for neighbors and friends. But please, give full-sized loaves to neighbors who snow blow your driveway.

* Adding chocolate chips to the pumpkin mixture is fabulous (thank you sister-in-love, Julie!)


P.S. Friends, if you ever have any questions about any recipe I post here, please don't ever hesitate to ask. I would love to help in any way I can!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Perfect Preparation

Corrie Ten Boom (1892-1983)

I have a number of ornate frames in my guest powder room. Each frame contains words that have deep meaning to me. Some frames contain Bible verses, some contain lines from favorite books, some contain words of favorite hymns, and some contain words spoken by people from different times and walks of life.

These words are contained in the first frame I hung in my powder room.

"Every experience God gives us,
every person He puts in our lives,
is the perfect preparation for the future
that only He can see."
Corrie Ten Boom

I thank my God every time I remember you,

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I've Been Tagged!

My computer was hit with a Trojan virus on Monday (even with anti-virus software), so I'm feeling a little bit behind on my blog. I am learning how hard it is to function without a computer. Yikes.

While I had something in mind for today's blog, I have put those thoughts on hold for now. For imagine my surprise when I discovered this morning that I had been tagged by sweet Lady Rose at A Queen In Her Castle! Oh, how I love, love, love her blog. I've never been tagged before, so this was a fun, thought-provoking exercise. And some of you lovelies out there get to be tagged by Yours Truly. I hope you will participate, but please don't feel any pressure. Really. Besides, chances are, I don't know where you live anyway!

Here are the questions Lady Rose asked in her tag, along with my answers...

1. If you could live in any place, where would it be? Why would you live there?

I'm a country girl and have always lived in the same place, not too far from the great North Coast. If I could snap my fingers and have a home somewhere else in the world, based upon my very narrow experiences, I would love to live on a high place which overlooks the ocean, but where the seasons still change at their appointed time. Anyone who has ever been to or lived by the ocean has to love the smell of the salt water in the air, the steady sound of the pounding surf, and the ability to take endless walks along the shore, where each morning dawns upon a fresh canvas of undisturbed sand. At least that's how I've always dreamed it would be for me.

2. Make a list of the five favorite activities that you like to do (I know this isn't a question).

These are my favorite things, but not in any order:

1. I love to sit by a fire and watch flames lick over the wood, red embers glowing, almost sparkling, while listening to all the creatures sing their beautiful songs.

2. I love to entertain and gather family and friends around a table filled with lovingly prepared food. There's something wonderful about sharing a meal with those you love, where conversations can linger for hours, and where the burdens of life seem to disappear, even if for a little while.

3. If considered an activity, I love to hold Mr. Wonderful's hand. Mr. Wonderful? Oh, Mr. Wonderful? Did you hear that?

4. I love to use the God-given gifts I have to serve others. Whether it's preparing a meal for someone in need (or someone that just needs an extra-helping of love), sitting and listening to the heart of a homeless woman, teaching a Bible class filled with eager learners, or teaching my own children as we gather for school at the kitchen table every morning, I truly enjoy serving others.

5. I enjoy reading, listening to music, and my new-found late-in-life hobby, quilting (which even now is crying out for me!)

3. What is your most challenging household chore? Briefly explain why it is challenging for you.

Dusting. I used to enjoy dusting. Mr. Wonderful knows that I blame him for not enjoying it any longer. I suppose I never learned how to dust "properly". After we were married and he showed me how to dust the correct way (at least how he was taught by his mother), I never enjoyed dusting again. Unfortunately, our house is filled with heavy wood work from top to bottom. And no, I don't care too much if it's dusty. My eyes have grown accustomed to filtering it out. When I see that I can write my name in dust, I start thinking about when I'll need to dust and whether or not we have company coming over any time soon. Just keepin' it real.

4. What was the happiest day of your life (and you can't say the day you got married or engaged. Choose another day.)?

The day my son, Caleb, was born. I remember holding him and singing my special song to him just moments after he was born. His eyes looked straight at me and I knew at that moment he knew I was his mama. His hands looked so big and open. I whispered in his ear, "Your hands will change the lives of many people." Caleb wasn't suppose to live. Everyone knew that. He was the first baby to have ever survived such circumstances. Word spread quickly the day he was born. All the doctors and nurses came to see this little baby whose life had been held in the very hands of God.

5. What annoys or irritates you the most (besides getting "tagged")?

People who whine. Enough said.

6. Where do you like to "hide" when you're having a rough day?

If the weather cooperates, I take my iPod all ready to go with my favorite music, a good book, and hide on the patio, in my favorite chair. When the weather doesn't cooperate, I've always dreamed of getting in my car and driving south until I find sunshine. I've never gone through with it, but I've always wanted to. Maybe someday. If I could muster-up the courage.

7. Write a six line poem of rhyming couplets. Now tell us, was this a hard or an easy task for you and why (You know I write poetry, so you had to know this was coming )?

Autumn Leaves
Yours Truly

The leaves are falling, falling down,
softly twirling, upon the ground.

Once their lives were shimmery green,
held in place by sweet sunshine seen.

Here today, crisp crimson, golden
stems let loose from limbs of olden.

Falling, falling, falling down,
softly twirling, upon the ground.

Oh, I can only imagine the shaking of the heads, or perhaps the giggles. Well to enlighten you, I had to look-up the definition for a rhyming couplet just to make sure I knew what I was doing. That ought to tell you something! I decided to look out the window and write about the first thing my eyes beheld. I wish I had learned how to properly read and recite poetry. I admire those whose hands and minds are gifted with such beautiful words.

8. What is your all-time favorite movie?

I think it might be a tie between Pride and Prejudice and Lord of the Rings (extended edition). These are two movies I never, ever tire of watching.

---------- ~ ----------

Now it's your turn to be tagged. So, if you're up for some fun, here we go!

You've Been Tagged!

1. Dani at Invisible Realities (Dani's answers here)

2. Melanie at Complete In Thee (Melanie's answers here)

5. Denise at Got Chai?

Oh, and Lady Rose, I'd love to hear what you have to say!

And here are my questions...

1. I have a painting in my home that immediately gets my heart to singing Sheep May Safely Graze. Is there a photo or a painting or even an object that makes you think of a song to sing? If not a song, is there a Bible verse that comes to mind?

2. If you could sit across a table with someone living today, who would it be and what one question would you ask them? Please, I beg you, no politicians.

3. We are studying the history of classical music at our home. If you could choose one piece of classical music, what selection would you choose, who is the composer, and why does this song have meaning to you?

4. What one thing in all of creation that you can see with your eyes, grips your heart and makes you stand in awe of His majesty? Why?

5. Is there any one thing you are fanatical about? How do you know (has somebody told you!)?

6. If you could choose a season, which one is your favorite and why? Describe what it looks like outside your window today.

7. What's your favorite "just got out of bed in the morning" drink and do you have a special place you go to enjoy it?

Happy Tagging!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice

Last Friday, Rachel made two pumpkin pies, from start to finish, all by herself!

Look at that crimping on the pie!

Hot out of the oven...the aroma, heavenly!

First slice of this season's first pumpkin pie...oh, yum!

I will just say, for the record, that I moved the liquid pies from the counter to the oven as it can be very tricky. Everything else was done without any supervision. Why, I wasn't even in the room!

You might find it a little amusing that it's only been a year since we learned how to make a pie crust. And it's only been a year since Rachel actually submitted to a bite of pumpkin pie. Oh, how her world changed after that one little bite!

Needless to say, having slightly warmed pumpkin pie topped with cold whipped cream on a chilly Friday night in October was an incredible treat. And here, I always thought pumpkin pies were just for Thanksgiving.

Everything's a little nicer when there's pumpkin pie nearby...and a sweet little girl snuggled in next to you enjoying the work of her hands.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Soli Deo Gloria Resources TOS Product Review

Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth

As stated right from their website, Soli Deo Gloria is Latin for "To God Alone the Glory." It is one of the benchmarks of the reformation and necessary for the reformation of our thoughts regarding the education of our children.

We have had the privilege of incorporating into our mornings before school begins, a pre-inductive study of the Psalms by Soli Deo Gloria Resources. Young Hearts Longing for God is a Bible study intended for children in grades 4 through 8, but can also be used by older students alone, or by younger students with the help of a parent.

If we step back for a moment, the fundamental principle of inductive Bible study is to study the text of Scripture. Young Hearts Longing for God is a pre-inductive study which slowly and gently leads children, or perhaps those unfamiliar with the Bible, to look deeper into the text of scripture.

Young Hearts Longing for God contains 30 Psalms to study. Each Psalm is intended to be studied for one week, allowing this study to be completed in one school year. Students read through the Psalm each day, five days in a row. In addition, questions and activities are completed through the week, ending with a written entry in a personal journal. To see a sample study lesson of Psalm 8, click here.

We incorporated this study into our regular morning's Bible reading and prayer time and found it to be a great addition to our time together. Completing the day's reading and question or activity only takes a few minutes. The time spent is time well spent. Fridays are the days we designated to complete the study and enter our personal thoughts into our private journals.

Even though the purpose of our receiving this study was to try it out and give our personal thoughts and review, we have unanimously decided to continue on for the remainder of our school year. We love it!

Kim Kargbo (you might want to read about Kim and her family here) believes that we, as parents, should be educating our children for God’s glory alone. This in turn helps to equip them to go out into the world and use their God-given gifts for the good of others.

As so beautifully written by Kim, "Our unit studies and other curriculum are designed to cause learners to be captivated by God's "bigger picture." All of life, including math, science, history and language arts, is part of God's HUGE redemptive plan. Seeing God's hand at work in all of life, and seeing each piece as part of a larger picture is one of the main goals of education. Glorifying Him through all that we do, all that we learn, and all that we are is ultimately what we are called to do as His children."

I would encourage my readers to stop by Soli Deo Gloria Resources' website and not only browse through the many unit studies offered, but also take a few minutes to check out a number of wonderful resources they provide for free.

Young Hearts Longing for God is available as a workbook for $16 and as an E-book for $14.50.

I highly recommend Soli Deo Gloria Resources. Both Kim and her husband, Tim, were raised on the Mission field in Africa. Kim's parents were Bible translators and performed literacy work. It seems only fitting that Kim would take many of the lessons she learned as a child growing-up in a small village in Africa, and create a company and products that convey those same truths.

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.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Safe ...

Still, My Soul Be Still (<---click here to listen to audio)

Words and Music by Keith & Kristyn Getty & Stuart Townend

Still my soul be still
And do not fear
Though winds of change may rage tomorrow
God is at your side
No longer dread
The fires of unexpected sorrow

God You are my God
And I will trust in You and not be shaken
Lord of peace renew
A steadfast spirit within me
To rest in You alone

Still my soul be still
Do not be moved
By lesser lights and fleeting shadows
Hold onto His ways
With shield of faith
Against temptations flaming arrows

Still my soul be still
Do not forsake
The Truth you learned in the beginning
Wait upon the Lord
And hope will rise As stars appear when day is dimming

Still in Him today,

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Prince, Dead and Resurrected

Obviously this isn't Prince

I am going against my better judgment posting this story first, but since you asked for it (Bethany and Julie), here ya go! Teri, we'll get to Jones and the Radial Arm Saw soon.

Let me set the stage and always keep this in the back of your mind while reading this story. OK? OK.

1. This took place when I was a little girl, almost 40 years ago.

2. I grew-up in the country.

3. It was the dead of winter and there was lots of snow on the ground.

I had a horse named Midnight. You might remember me talking about my very first job delivering newspapers so I could buy the food necessary to have a horse of my own.

I don't really remember how this came about (you will hear this often in upcoming childhood animal stories), but someone my father knew had a horse and needed to find it a home. We were told the horse had some allergies, but if we did what was prescribed, all would be well. This was to be my sister's horse. His name was Prince.

Prince was princely. He looked to me like a horse you would see at the circus. You see, he had a very long mane and tail like the pictures above. Not quite that long, but his tail and mane almost touched the ground. To my sister and me, his long hair was an amazing thing. We loved brushing it and braiding it and playing with it, kinda like you would do with a doll.

From time to time Prince would get a little wheezy. We would do what we were suppose to do and he'd seem to be just fine. It was fun having two horses. Midnight and Prince became good buddies. Besides, whenever a friend would come over, we could go on a horse ride together.

One of my jobs each morning before school was to head out to the barn to feed and water the horses. They would hear me coming and whinny.

One bitter cold morning I headed down to the barn to feed and water the horses. I'm sure I heard the whinny. I walked in and there was Midnight waiting at the stall door. As I looked over, however, Prince was sleeping. Or so I thought. He wasn't laying down on his side, he had his legs under himself and his head was upright. I called his name, but he didn't move. As I looked closely I saw a frozen strand of snot. Sorry, but that's what it was. And it was literally frozen from his nose to his leg. Within a second, everything registered in my little girl brain. Prince wasn't asleep. He was dead.

I did what any other girl my age (or older) would do upon encountering this sight. I started screaming hysterically, crying uncontrollably, and running as fast as I could to the house.

I really don't remember what happened next. I suppose all of my siblings and my mother headed out to the barn to see it for themselves. It was confirmed. Prince was dead.

My father had a way of taking care of things. We weren't really told any of the details, we were just told, "Daddy will take care of it."

Well, a few days later, my sister and I walked out the front door, all dressed and ready for school. Books in hand. Ready for a new day. We look out. We look at each other. We look back out. Are we really seeing what we think we're seeing? I'm sure we must have looked at each other and then rubbed our eyes. Then the horror of what we were looking at hit us at exactly the same time. I can remember very vividly standing there, dropping my books, and jumping up and down screaming hysterically...again.

For there in front of us, ten feet off the front porch was our dog. And in his mouth was the hind leg of Prince. Yes, you read that right. Prince's leg was standing there. But he wasn't attached to it. It was just his leg. In the dog's mouth.

Remember when we were told, "Daddy will take care of it"? Well, he did. My father was a meat cutter. He handled dead animal carcasses every day of his life. What do you do with a dead horse in the middle of winter?

Listen, this was almost 40 years ago. Things weren't like how they are today. Back then they didn't have animal carcass removal companies. Even if there were, I'm sure our family could not afford their services.

And so my father did to Prince what he did with a side of beef. And then he disposed of it. Except the dog discovered it. And decided it was too good to pass up. And where's a better place to show-off your great find than right off the front porch? After all, wouldn't you want your family to see your prize? Yep. I'm sure the dog never gave it a thought that he was eating his friend. And in front of us, no less.

I don't really remember how the rest of the story goes. I probably passed out (just kiddin') or blanked it out of my memory. I never saw Prince again. Nor any of his other parts. My father made sure he was taken care of this time. For good.

I know. You thought Prince had thawed out and came back to life, didn't you? Oh, now that would be a story!

Did you gasp? Come on. And it's OK if you laughed. When the kids found out I was telling this story, they burst out laughing. Forty years later, it is funny. It is!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Childhood Animal Stories - Preview

Hangin' at the beach

I have been thinking over the past few days about some ideas for future posts. I don't know what made me think of it, but I thought animal stories from my childhood might be fun. These won't be your ordinary animal stories. Nope. Most will be short and sweet. Some will make you laugh. Some will make you sigh. A couple will make you gasp in absolute disbelief! I can assure you this...they are all true stories.

Here's a few titles I thought of...

Teddy in the Pickle Jar
Jones and the Radial Arm Saw
Prince, Dead and Resurrected
Bad Blue! Bad Blue!
Chitty in Trouble
Nanook the 1st
Nanook the 2nd
Harold the Gerbil
Big Black Snake and the Little White Mice
Owls for Dinner
Pixy and Dixy, Forever Friends
Mice in the Lunch Box

So, which one should I write about tomorrow? You can help me decide if you'd like. Just leave a comment below.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Carved in Stone

We went to Huntington Beach over the weekend just to try and enjoy one of the last days of warm weather. It was a beautiful afternoon to walk in the sand while listening to the waves come ashore.

It's a good thing I don't live near a beach. I'd never get anything done. Well, at least that's what I think at the moment. I suppose if I lived near the beach, I'd get used to knowing it was always there. I'd be one of those people you'd see walking along the water's edge every single day.

We happened upon some huge stones that were used to make a breaker wall. I couldn't believe how many people had taken a considerable amount of time making their mark. You can tell by the dates that some of these took years and years to complete. See if you can find your favorite.

I don't know about you, but I'd have to really, really, really love a radio station in order to spend the time and effort to carve its call letters into a stone. Yikes.

And then there's poor Jimmy. By the time he got done carving his girlfriend's name, she (or he) was long gone. Only the J was finished. I suppose some other future Jimmy and Carrie will find the rock, complete it, and stake their claim.

One last note from Yours Truly, Jack Roberts was one very diligent carver. He has two carvings! One of them is my favorite. Can you guess which one?

All these carvings in stone got me to thinking about something. I have this little quote hanging in our guest powder room:

If we work on marble, it will perish; if on brass, time will efface it; if we rear temples, they will crumble into dust; but if we work upon immortal minds and imbue them with principles, with the just fear of God and the love of our fellowmen, we engrave on those tablets something that will brighten to all eternity. Daniel Webster 1852

In time, winds and waves will erase the names and dates, even those deeply carved. Those names, however, that are written in the Lamb's book of life, will endure for all eternity.

Is your name written in the Lamb's book of life? If you're unsure, you might find this helpful.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Fondue in a Pumpkin

I grew-up in the country which allowed me to ride my horse up to Lisa's house. Of course, we rode bikes back and forth too, but I can still see in my mind's eye riding Midnight up through the woods, across a couple of big fields, and to her house. I have many fond memories of riding horses together. Our friend, Tracy, also had horses so we'd often all ride together. I have one memory of all of us riding together in a big open field, running our horses as fast as they would carry us, when all of a sudden Midnight got spooked and came to a screeching halt. I flew over his head and landed in the field. We all just laughed and laughed about it. Looking back, I could have gotten seriously hurt, but when you're a kid, you don't think about those things. You just dust off your bucket, get back on the horse, and get to the fun part again.

I'm trying to look back at those early days when Lisa and I first met. For some reason, I'm thinking it had something to do with a gerbil. She was going on vacation and I was going to keep the little rodent while she was away. Come to think of it, I believe she was watching the gerbil over summer vacation. It belonged to a teacher at our school. I can see the teacher's face, but I just don't recall her name. Oh to be young again and have a fresh mind with memories right where I need them!

Anyway, we became great friends and had so much fun together. I can't even begin to remember the number of times we gathered around their kitchen breakfast bar with other neighbor kids and played "spoons" while eating so many homemade French fries (that were cooked on the stove in a pot, horror of horrors) that we used a coffee mug just to hold all the ketchup we needed for dipping. Oh those were the days!

When our kids were little, we made a trip to the Windy City to visit Lisa and her family. While there, she shared this recipe which she had received from a neighbor. And I think I've made it every October since!

If you are entertaining friends or need to take something different to a gathering, this is the recipe to make. It's not only beautiful, it's very, very yummy. It's practically guaranteed to get lots of ooohs and ahhhs!

Fondue in a Pumpkin

What you will need:

1 pie pumpkin (4 lbs.) washed and dried
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
6 oz. baby Swiss cheese, shredded
4 slices of white bread toasted, crumbled
2 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 pint half and half
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Variety of bread sticks and crackers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With a sharp knife, carefully cut a 2 inch slice off the top of the pumpkin and reserve. Remove seed and fibers. Blend oil and garlic and rub into interior of pumpkin; place pumpkin in shallow roasting pan. Alternate layers of toast crumbs and cheese inside pumpkin. Combine half and half, salt, pepper, and nutmeg and pour over layers. Replace pumpkin top and bake for 2 hours, gently stirring contents after 1 ½ hours.

Serve with bread sticks or an assortment of quality crackers.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

All Saints Day 2009

Rachel singing I Sing a Song of the Saints of God, November 1, 2009

I received an incredibly wonderful gift today and just had to share it.

Thank you, Bruce! And Ruth (playing the piano), thank you for the amazing opportunity you presented to Rachel almost one year ago. I am still in awe when I think how every single detail was filtered through His hands of love.

A little background...

Rachel was asked to sing for All Saints Day last November 1st. We were unable to record it and really only had our memories of this very special day. That is, until today. As you can imagine, tears flowed upon seeing and hearing our little girl's voice sing this song once again.

Please know that Rachel had never sung in public before. Rachel was 11 at the time.

Every single obstacle that stood in her way, the Lord removed.

This is a God Story and one we will treasure in our hearts all the days of our lives.

Praying this brings joy into the hearts of many,

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

A great battle ensues. At least the Indians have the tanks on their side!

Happy Wednesday!

P.S. Just in case you wanted to know, my blue foot and me are no longer blue. All is well!

LanSchool TOS Product Review

LanSchool Technologies has been an award winning provider of classroom management software since 1986. They have partnered with some of the most recognizable names in the computer technology industry in their quest to make easy to use reliable products available to teachers and students.

Mr. Wonderful downloaded LanSchool Home Version about a month ago. We didn't tell the kids what was going on. I figured it would be more fun that way!

LanSchool is a classroom management solution which allows teachers to monitor student activities within a classroom setting. LanSchool Home Version allows up to three computers to be networked at home.

Some of the features include:

•LanSchool is clean, simple and easy-to-use. Teachers love it.
•It is reliable and uses significantly less network bandwidth than other solutions.
•It is complete, no add-ons are required to block the Internet, Applications, Printing and USB drives.
•It keeps working even when students try to disrupt it.
•It costs less and is better supported than any other solution on the market.
•It supports PCs, Macs and Thin Clients such as NComputing, Terminal Services and Citrix.

New features in LanSchool v7.5 include:

•Mac Feature Parity with Windows
•Audio Chat, Listen and Broadcast
•Multicast Video Distribution and Playback
•Keystroke Alerting on Banned Words
•New Wireless Protocol
•Browser Independent Web Limiting and History
•Remote Login
•Clear Desktop Button
•Limit CD/DVD Drives
•Testing Enhancements
•Dual Monitor Support
•20 Additional Customer and UI enhancements

We have two computers at home that share a wireless network. While the kids can use both computers, they primarily use the computer set-up for them in the school room.

I completely understand why this would be such a valuable tool in a classroom setting. I can't imagine trying to monitor 30 students using computers.

LanSchool has a wonderful short video that provides a great guided-tour of their product. You can watch it here.

In our little homeschool setting, however, I found most of the features that are LanSchool's strengths weren't needed. While my kids use the computer for some school work, most of it is for local applications (i.e., math, foreign language, and some science). They know what is expected of them and, well, they do it. As we begin using the internet for research, we have established guidelines for their protection. Again, they follow our instructions. I do not need to monitor their keystrokes. I do not need to keep an eye on them at all times to see what they are doing on the computer. They know our guidelines are in place for their safety and protection. Regardless, the school room is very visible. We can see and hear what they are doing. If I did need to monitor their activities, LanSchool is a wonderful tool and I would use it for the many features it provides.

We ran into a little problem trying to install LanSchool, but found their support to be exceptional. The support person was very helpful and in a short amount of time was able to solve the mystery. We discovered our tiered naming conventions caused a little problem during the install.

Just last week we had a minor crisis on our hands and LanSchool came to the rescue. Rachel had been working on a lengthy lab report when the monitor she was using decided it was time to die. At first she thought it was a joke being played on her by her brother. LanSchool can blank out a student monitor! But not this time. The monitor was dead. May it rest in peace.

So we have a dead monitor and an open Word document that cannot be saved and closed because it cannot be seen. We went to the main computer and was able to "take over" the student computer. I was able to use my mouse and keyboard to not only view her document, but to save it, close the application, and safely shut down the computer. How cool is that?! Rachel was very thankful and LanSchool was the hero of the day!

If you have multiple computers in your home and desire to know what your students are doing, want to be able to share resources (like hard drives and printers), and want the ability to control those computers without ever leaving your seat, LanSchool is a great solution. You can review their technical advantages here and specifications here.

For more information, visit LanSchool's website or call toll-free 877-370-5546.

LanSchool is $99.00 for a home-use license. This includes three years of technical support and upgrades. For site-licenses in education, non-profit, and corporate settings, you can find pricing information here.

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.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My Blue Foot and Me

One blue blue me

I did something really stupid yesterday. Really stupid. I forgot that I have several broken bones in my right foot. Now, I didn't really forget. I just didn't want to remember. They've been broken for a number of years now. I think eight or nine years to be exact. Kinda hard to believe it's been that long.

It's a rather long story though and I consider it one of the worst mistakes of my life. I thought I had done something to my foot since I couldn't walk on it. It was Thanksgiving weekend and I ended up in the ER. X-rays were taken and a doctor who apparently didn't know how to read an x-ray said, "Nope, there's nothing wrong with your foot" and sent me home. Me, thinking an x-ray and an ER doctor knows more about my foot than I do, decided to ignore the fact that my foot hurt. I could hardly walk on it. It took about six months, but eventually it felt better. Long story short. There were broken bones. And they healed that way. Broken.

I am the woman that used to love to go shoe shopping. I loved wearing beautiful shoes. Now, a trip to look for a pair of shoes always leaves me in tears. Honestly. In tears. It just seems an impossibility for me to find a pair of shoes that feel comfortable. A couple of years ago I walked into a specialty shoe store. An older woman who had been working with people with special feet needs (how's that sound?), said she knew she could help me. Imagine dozens of shoes later, me on the verge of tears, and poor Mr. Wonderful sitting there so patiently, trying to be an encouragement. "Maybe the next pair will work, Honey." The woman actually admitted she was stumped. I eventually walked out with a pair of shoes that practically burned a hole in Mr. Wonderful's wallet. Listen, my sweet husband would have gladly paid $1000 for a pair of shoes if they helped me feel better. Or at least be able to walk without pain. These at least seemed to help. A little.

So what did I do yesterday that was so stupid? I decided to walk on the treadmill. Now, that's not really a big deal ordinarily. But I decided to change things up a little and used a program on the treadmill that automatically changes the speed and the incline. Hey, it was great while I was doing my thing. But last night it all came crashing down. My right foot started aching. I figured it would feel better today. Uh, no. I would say my foot feels like it got run over by a small car!

Hey! What's the worst thing that can happen? I break those already broken bones and have to have them fixed. Finally. But I'm sure it's fine. It's felt this way before.

Now, I knew I couldn't use an incline. I don't know what I was thinking. No. I do know what I was thinking. I was thinking I could burn more calories if I could walk on an incline. And I'm sure I did. Probably 20 more.

And so there you have it. My blue foot and me!

P.S. It could be worse. I could find myself with no foot. Or a hairy foot. Or a smelly foot. Thank the good Lord it's only a broken foot!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Apple Pie by Grandma Ople

Michelle's version of Apple Pie by Grandma Ople

No, it's not Friday. I had to decide whether to share the story about my very first apple pie or the story that happened to us on Saturday afternoon when a contractor for the gas company showed-up, turned off our gas, dug a hole, pulled a nozzle off the gas line, and left. And never came back. Did I mention I had a roast in the oven at the time? Or that our house and hot water are heated by gas? Yep. Oh, and that the gas company doesn't work on Saturday? Yep. It was quite lovely. Mr. Wonderful was tested a little beyond his limits that day. Poor guy. The kids and I took the roast and headed to my sister-in-love's house where we stayed until almost 10 o'clock that night. We all had a great time together. Unfortunately, Mr. Wonderful didn't.

I decided the apple pie was a better story.

It was almost a year ago I learned from my Auntie Lou how to make a pie crust. It changed my life! Well, you know what I mean. When I saw Johnagold apples on sale last Friday, I just grabbed some, headed home, and made my very first apple pie. I would never, ever, ever have considered this a year ago. Me? Pie crust? Sworn enemies. But no more.

I usually change something in most recipes I find. I like to make them my own and feel very comfortable publishing them here. This recipe, however, didn't need a thing changed, not that I was in any position to change anything. I've never made an apple pie before. So, instead of posting the recipe here (since it's copyrighted on Allrecipes), I am going to give you the link. It's called Apple Pie by Grandma Ople.

It's as simple as that. Really. The only thing I will do differently next time is to be sure the liquid is poured evenly over the entire lattice of the crust. It's so pretty. You can see where I missed some of the lattice. I'll do better next time. The pie was fabulous. Mr. Wonderful thought it was the best apple pie he'd ever had. The smell of apple pie baking in the oven was almost as good as the pie!

Here's a comment left by the granddaughter of Grandma Ople:

My words from 2008 still hold true today. My little grandmother (and I do mean little - not more than 4' 11") would wonder what all the fuss is about - this is her recipe. Thanks to all who have commented on this little guardian angel's recipe developed years ago in her kitchen as a treat for my dad who took care of her yard and garden after my grandfather died. I am still in awe of the number of you that have tried my Grandma Ople's recipe for apple pie and love it so much. Now that she has been gone almost 15 years there seems to be less and less of her to hold on to and to pass along to her great granchildren (and great-great grandchildren) who will never know her. Some might say that having originated a delicious apple pie recipe is not much of a legacy, but when I read the reviews and notes of those who have tried her recipe, and the settings and family gatherings at which they have shared her pie, I can truly say that God has worked through my Grandmother to help bring families joy and love. Thank you all for your comments about my Grandmother's favorite recipe. Rebecca Clyma Proud Grand-daughter of Grandma Ople.

Thank you Grandma Ople. Your pie has brought our family joy and love!

P.S. I know I shared the gas story too. At least a little bit of it. The shock and awe part!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Baked Potato Soup

Things are starting to change around here...

There's a sadness that comes with saying goodbye to summer. I'm sure I don't need to give a long list of reasons. However, saying goodbye to summer allows us to welcome autumn and all the wonderful things it brings. We live in an area where you can literally smell fall in the air. I wonder if it's the breath of trees we smell while they're yawning, preparing for a long winter's nap. I don't know.

In our neck of the woods, everything is changing. And this time of year is truly one of my favorites. It's time to pull out the jeans and sweaters. It's a time when I can make myself a cup of coffee in the afternoon, just so I have something warm to hold and linger over. And it's time again for roasts and hearty soups.

I found this recipe five years ago. Yes, I've tweaked it to make it my own and it's one of our favorites. I'm sure it will be one of yours too.

Baked Potato Soup

What you will need:

1 lb. thick-sliced bacon
2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
7 cups milk
6 - 8 medium-size baked Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 1/4 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Pause here...

You can use baked potatoes or you can use baked potatoes. It's up to you. I prefer baked potatoes. Here's the difference. For convenience, most people "bake" potatoes in a microwave. It's simple and quick, but the taste is pretty, um, bland. However, if you can plan just a little bit ahead and bake potatoes in an oven, you will taste a huge difference. So, here's a recipe inside a recipe:

Baked Potatoes

What you will need:

Yukon Gold* potatoes, similar in size
Olive Oil
Sea Salt, medium to coarse ground

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Wash and dry the potatoes. Either place them in a big stainless steel bowl or an over-sized Ziploc bag; drizzle with olive oil. Generously salt the potatoes (the amount will change depending upon how many potatoes you are baking. I would use about 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt with 6 to 8 potatoes). If using a bowl, use one hand to toss potatoes, evenly coating them with oil and salt. If using a bag, seal the bag and toss potatoes so they are evenly coated with oil and salt.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or use foil). Place the potatoes on the baking sheet so they are spaced evenly apart. Bake for one hour or until a knife inserted through the middle of a potatoes slides in easily. The skins will darken and turn a little crispy.

*Yukon Gold is our favorite potato. The flavor is unbeatable and the creamy texture is fabulous. If you like Russets or red-skinned, use them instead. Obviously, the smaller the potato, the shorter the cooking time.

Back to our soup recipe...

1. Cut bacon into one inch pieces; place in a large skillet and cook over medium heat until brown and slightly crisp. Drain, crumble and set aside. It's OK if you want to nibble on some of the cooked bacon. Really, it's OK. Reserve about 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings.

2. In a skillet, over medium heat, saute onion in 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings until clear and just starting to caramelize. Set aside.

3. In a stock pot or Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat and whisk in flour until smooth. Gradually stir in milk, whisking constantly until thickened. I usually add 2 tablespoons of chicken base here, but you don't have to unless you have it on hand. It just helps enhance the overall flavor. Stir in potatoes and onions. Bring to a low boil, stirring frequently.

4. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Mix in bacon, cheese, sour cream, salt and pepper. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until cheese is melted.

Serve with additional Cheddar cheese and chopped green onions, if desired.