Sunday, November 28, 2010

Badgering with Kindness ~ 2

This is the second part of a lesson, which is about using kindness and compassion rather than cruelty to make your way through the world. It is from Chapter 12 of Meeting God in Quiet Places by F. LaGard Smith.

One of the things you should think about is that Jesus sees our brokenness--when we are "down" and don't know how to get up on our own. We say, "Don't kick a man when he's down," but not everyone knows when you're down. But Jesus not only knows when you're down, he knows why. If you turn to God so that He can lead you, you will learn to let the Lord's Spirit be active in your life so that it can heal you, and you will realize that other people are hurting too.

Even when it's simply an ugly attitude toward a clerk in a store, cruelty tears down, while kindness builds up. Compassion works to heal the wounds of a broken life, and to forgive trespasses and cover imperfections in others. And that is what God does. God can see right through our sins to our brokenness. Then He heals you, forgives you, and covers your sin.

It's because God loves us with our sin and brokenness that we know how to love others. Peter denied Jesus three times. Did Jesus make Peter feel small? No, Jesus said nothing to Peter and understood that Peter was a broken man. Peter had sworn that he wouldn't deny Jesus, but he did three times. Our best intentions sometimes aren't good enough. Jesus had a knowing look of disappointment because love hopes for the best, but also recognizes how frail the human condition can be.

When you look at someone else, realize that you are seeing yourself. You aren't unkind to yourself when you recognize your brokenness. Why be unkind to those who are human beings just as you are? Yes, you may be broken in a different way than another person, but you are both broken. And this is where Jesus' words about "do unto others" can help you: others look over your imperfections, so you should look over their imperfections. But you must know God's love in your own life to share it with others!

LaGard says: "So what is the spiritual antidote to our temptation to be unkind? One of the best ways of learning compassion is to appreciate that the weakness we see in others--that same weakness that disappoints us, and frustrates us, and angers us to the point of wanting to be unkind in return--that very weakness may be a wonderful strength under normal circumstances!" And if we could know the other side of that person who is so frustrating, perhaps from knowing their strength, we could allow for their weakness. 

God sees through our weaknesses to our strengths. That's the way God works in our lives: He knows our weaknesses, but loves us in spite of them. He makes up for our lack.  Shouldn't we do the same for our fellow man? Try loving others because God first loved us. How can we continue to be unkind when the Hound of Heaven badgers us with divine acceptance!

Want to have a wonderful day? Try badgering everyone you meet with kindness and compassion!


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Badgering with Kindness ~

Want to have a wonderful day? Try badgering everyone you meet with kindness and compassion! Yes, that is a different way of looking at our choices and attitudes, but why don't you try it and see if it works?
We all know that a badger, using his sharp claws and strong teeth, digs through the earth to capture unsuspecting prey, such as beetles, worms, small rodents, and even hedgehogs and rabbits. He has few natural enemies, but fights when humans put him in a pit with a dog. This kind of fighting is referred to as badger-baiting. And even though the badger fights ferociously, the dog kills him in the end. Lawyers even use it in court, saying his opponent is "badgering the witness." But animals are never cruel. They may be agressive, vicious, brutal, and even deadly, but they are not guilty of being cruel. Cruelty is exclusive to human beings. And it is usually hidden behind sarcastic remarks.

You may consider the clerk in the store slow and inefficient, so you raise your voice to let him know how you feel. You may realize that your friend is feeling insecure about the way she looks, so you say something witty to let her know you are aware of her insecurity, and think she's just being silly. Or you rise above the person who knows little about the Bible and show your own self-righteousness. These are all scenes of human cruelty--and there are endless more--showing just how cruel we humans can be. The badger fights for its life. Why are you fighting? 

We like to believe that we live in a Christian nation. So how did we go so far astray from kindness? The message of kindness is: "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." And "add to your faith...brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love." 

Paul told the Galatians, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." These godly traits mirror God's own kindness to us.

Remember the picture of the children of Israel as God's own little children in Hosea, lovingly nourished and tenderly cared for:

It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, 
              taking them by the arms;
but they did not realize
              it was I who healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness,
              with ties of love;
I lifted the yoke from their neck
               and bent down to feed them.

You too can learn to tie with cords of human kindness rather than the cords that bind. Meanness and malice can't survive where there is compassion. Do you have compassion? Or do you express malice? Jesus never said an unkind word, even though he made scathing rebukes of the religious leaders. But his heart was filled with love, and where there is love, you won't find a mouth filled with hate. 

Think about the way you approach those you want to change or those you're hoping to teach. If there is a mean spirit which flies out of your mouth, the words won't matter because no one will listen.

This is the lesson today from Meeting God in Quiet Places by F. LaGard Smith. I still have around 15,000 words to write on my novel, so that is what I'll be doing today. I haven't written any new words in three days! So say a prayer for me and have a wonderful Saturday!

"Be kind and compassionate to one another."  Ephesians 4:32   

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Day After Thanksgiving~

Good morning on the day after Thanksgiving! Re-reading my blog from yesterday, I realize once again how small my world is. And I have good reason for keeping mostly to my own life; it's because there are so many other people already talking about the bigger world out there. But my youngest brother, Ron, called me yesterday, and we talked about his month-long trip to Mosambique to teach and preach the gospel. There were 60 people baptized, and there is still much teaching to be done. He also sent me almost 300 pictures of people and life there, which will be viewed a little later.

So I was reminded this morning of our conversation about how the people live there--and him while he was visiting--eating, sleeping, and doing everything which pertains to their daily life on the floor. And I know my mind cannot grasp the life of the people who are poor and living in Mosambique, or the rest of South Africa. So I thank God that I live in America, and I pray that politicians don't turn us into a third world country.

I'm also thinking this morning of the men and women in the military forces of this country. What a sacrifice they make every day to keep us free! No, everything about the military doesn't make me happy, but I pray that our military leaders and the politicians don't make wrong choices and do stupid things with the lives in their charge. In many ways, the average American is helpless when it comes to such big situations, but we are a nation founded on godly principles, and if we want to continue to have the freedom we have now, we must put God back in our hearts and in our behavior. To snub God at a time when our country needs Him badly won't work out for us.

Now I'm not talking about religion per se, I'm talking about having a relationship with God yourself! And turning to God is something you and I can do every day. Think about what that means as you search for answers to the ever-growing complexities of the modern world, and the ever-growing complexities of your own life. With our pretend sophistication, it can be hard to admit that being humble and serving God is the answer to those complex questions, but it is a truth that will never change. So on this day after Thanksgiving, I'm still thankful for all our blessings, and trust in God that they'll continue.

I haven't written any words for my novel in two days, so that is my priority until the 30th of November. We'll have a "leftovers" dinner tonight, but today I'll be writing, writing, writing!


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

As I mentioned yesterday, I've been so blessed over the years to have some of my family from Tennessee visit during the Thanksgiving holiday. Last year, Ray and Jill and Luke and Lizzy, were here for almost four weeks. Jill was expecting Katelyn in January, but she helped with everything.
One year when Ray and Paul and their wives were living here, Sarah, Paul's wife, went to the hospital on Thanksgiving Day, and gave birth to   their son Timothy the next day. Happy Birthday to Timothy!   Now they've added Emily and Chloe to their family. Also, because it was the birth of their first grandchild,  Donna and her family were here. I've lived in New Mexico for 10 years and in several of those years part of my family from Tennessee have been here for Thanksgiving. For that, I'm truly thankful!

This year Donna and Ron are here, so Steve and Lisa, Quinlyn and Michael will come over around 4 PM, so we can have Thanksgiving dinner together. I had a delivery from Los Poblanos--an organic farm in New Mexico--yesterday morning. When I saw all the fresh vegetables, I decided to make soup for supper. Donna and I cooked most of our food yesterday: green beans, sweet potatoes, cornbread for the dressing (and supper) and Butter Rich Dinner Rolls. Then Donna cut up oranges for an orange and pineapple combination. And I made a vegetable soup with hamburger in it for dinner. Lisa will cook the turkey today and make some deviled eggs, mashed potatoes, and a few other goodies--like  pumpkin pies, and maybe a peach cobbler. I know I've forgotten some dishes, but it doesn't matter...that's the main menu.

The table is set and I'm up at 4 AM. The weather is very cold--around 27 degrees right now with a high of 34 degrees expected. I'm looking forward to the day, especially having dinner with so much of my family. There will be a Thanksgiving movie or two--the Waltons Reunion and The Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving, which may or may not be watched. The main thing is that we remember to thank God for all this wonderful food, and the fact that we are clothed and warm!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thinking About Food and Thanksgiving Day ~

This morning I have been thinking about the many Thanksgiving Days when I was blessed with company. But I will save that for tomorrow, because I want to give you a few more thoughts about the way American women think about food in comparison to French women. I'm convinced that our culture has brought us to the point where our eating habits aren't very refined. Why do we care about refinement?

Perhaps you don't think it's very important, but it IS important if you want a stable  culture; in fact,  if you want to live in civilization--a word very much connected to refinement. Now that isn't ALL it takes to have civilization, but it is a huge component. So think twice before you throw out the idea of sitting down to dinner with the family, or turning off the television to talk with the family while eating together. And all you wives out there--and girlfriends too--must choose to stop watching movies with your husbands that have nearly naked women in them! You're giving consent to licentious thoughts--not good for your marriage, and not good for society.

 If you look at the other side of civilization, which can go back as far as barbarism, there isn't anything for women and children to enjoy. There's just fighting and killing by the men, and an almost total lack of anything social for the women and children. The children are used as helpers in an adult way, and the women are slaves to their husbands. Dramatic? Yes. But when I see the way our culture promotes a lack of civility, it reminds me of what C. S. Lewis once said about the fact that civilization is fragile. As we give thanks for the blessings of living in a free country, let us pray for understanding about how to maintain God in our lives--not as a heavenly butler, but as our Creator. No human being can be happy without God. We can try and try, but it will not work.

Women are the keepers of all things to do with hearth and home. When women choose to watch movies that are almost pornographic with their husbands or boyfriends, it has an effect not just on their marriage, but on the nation! We must remind ourselves every day that we have a relationship with God by reading the Bible, listening to the Bible or lessons from those who teach it, or in some way remember God in our hearts and minds. Otherwise, civilization as we know it may disappear. It's really up to you and I. 

Now I want to give you more thoughts from Mireille Guiliano's French Women Don't Get Fat. It is for health and happiness that we care about our bodies and the food we eat. Our way of life can be thoughtful and godly, or it can be scattered and devilish. Again, it's the choice you and I make every moment of our lives. With this short list of observations, I'm appealing to those who care about the good life.  

1) French women eat and serve what's in season, for maximum flavor and value, and know availability does not equal quality.
2) French women drink water all day long. (Not coffee, tea, or sodas.)
3) French women enjoy going to market.
4) French women plan meals in advance and think in terms of menus (a list of little dishes) even at home.
5) French women love to entertain at home.
6) French women care enormously about the presentation of food. It matters to them how you look at it.
7) French women walk everywhere they can.
8) French women take the stairs when possible.
9) French women will dress to take out the garbage (you never know).
10) French women eat for pleasure.
11) French women don't diet.
12) French women don't get fat.

Mireille suggests that you write down everything you eat this week. Get to know what you're putting in your body! Tomorrow on offer here will be turkey, dressing, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, fresh green beans, corn, brussel sprouts, homemade rolls, pumpkin pie, and I'm not sure what else yet. But what I do know is that I'm very thankful to be sharing it with a large part of my family. 


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What Do You Think?

Mireille Guiliano

Time is flying by and Thanksgiving Day is fast approaching. I'm sure the fact that I have company and am writing a novel makes my time seem more precious, but the good thing is that I have more help now. My word count is up to around 33,000 words...I'm not sure because I wrote about 1,000 words late last night on paper and haven't put them in the computer yet. This morning, I seem to be thinking about the way American women eat during the holidays--and I have no doubt that it's because food is my weakness--and because I picked up this book lying on my desk by Mireille Guiliano, which--as you'll remember--is French Women Don't Get Fat. What she's saying is: French women enjoy their food more by having a different attitude.

So here are just a few things that Mireille has to say about the difference in the way French and American women look at eating.

1) French women typically think about good things to eat. American women typically worry about bad things to eat.
2) French women eat smaller portions of more things. American women eat larger portions of fewer things.
3) French women eat more vegetables.
4) French women eat a lot more fruit.
5) French women love bread and would never consider a life without carbs.
6) French women don't eat "fat-free," "sugar-free," or anything artificially stripped of natural flavor. They go for the real thing in moderation.
7) French women love chocolate, especially the dark, slightly bitter, silky stuff with its nutty aroma.
8) French women eat with all five senses, allowing less to seem like more.
9) French women balance their food, drink, and movement on a week-by-week basis.
10) French women do stray, but they always come back, believing there are only detours and no dead ends.
And from what I've read and seen, French women still eat very much as they always have, while American women have been seduced by advertisements and makeovers and Jenny Craig. So here are ten thoughts to carry into the Thanksgiving Day holiday and beyond. More tomorrow. The main thing is to enjoy what you eat, as well as enjoying your family and friends who are with you. And to be ever more thankful that God has blessed you beyond your imagination.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Cherry Berry Crumble ~

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

If you're looking for something easy for one of your Thanksgiving desserts, try this Crumble Cherry Berry! It is a delicious mix of berries, cherries, and apples topped with sweet and crunchy streusel. Of course, it's from King Arthur Flour's treasury of recipes. You should know by now that when I'm in doubt about doing a blog at all, I put on a recipe. I am still writing a novel, which has to have 50,000 words by November 30. I have 30,057 and counting. So here is a scrumptious recipe for you to try. Enjoy!

Cherry Berry Crumble
Yield: 4 servings

3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) sugar
1 tablespoon (3/8 ounch) instant ClearJel
3 cups (15 ounces) fresh or frozen raspberries or blackberries or strawberries (a mixture is great)
3 cups peeled, diced apples
1 cup (5 ounces) dried cherries
2 tablespoons (1 3/8 ounces) cherry concentrate

1 1/2 cups (3 1/2 ounces (old fashioned rolled oats or quick-cooking oats)
1 cup (7 1/2 ounces) light brown sugar
3/4 cup (3 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
7 tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces) melted butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Blend the sugar and instant ClearJel. Add the fruit and cherry concentrate and stir until combined. Divide among four 2-cup baking dishes. There will be about 1 1/2 cups filling per dish. Set aside.

To make the topping, combine the oats, sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Pour in the butter-mix till the mixture is crumbly.

Divide the topping among the four dishes of berry filling. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes for fresh berries, 40 to 45 minutes for frozen berries, until the topping is lightly browned and the filling is bubbly.

Remove from the oven, and cool at least 15 minutes before serving. Top with ice cream or whipped topping, if desired.

Everyone loves fruit, especially berries, so give the family one more special berry dessert!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Contentment on Thanksgiving Day~ 2

 Death and Destruction are never satisfied, and neither are the eyes of man.  Proverbs 27:20

Good Sunday morning! The picture today is of the children of Israel gathering manna. I think it's an appropriate one with Thanksgiving Day this week. God provided for the Israelites after bringing them out of Egypt, and He's still providing for His children. And nationally on Thanksgiving Day we remember that God is our Provider. Today we're continuing  in Chapter 11, which is titled "Dream House," in Meeting God in Quiet Places by F. LaGard Smith.  By now, we're beginning to realize that it can take some thoughtful assessment to determine whether we're being greedy or not. One of the things we can look at in our lives is whether we're really content or not. Even if you're rich, that doesn't mean you're content. And one of the insidious ways that greed creeps into our lives is the moment when we realize we'd really like to have a better car, or a better dress, or a better house.
 As LaGard says about greed: "Sometimes I think that the greed of wanting better is more insidious than the greed of wanting more. Certainly it's more easily rationalized." And we looked at that yesterday.

Now let's look at another way we can be greedy. Sometimes we're just greedy for attention! That shows up when we have an inordinate desire for achievement and recognition. When you aren't content, and you aren't getting along with your mate, it may simply be a greedy desire to have a better one. Sometimes it isn't lust that's driving the divorce, it's greed! And the same is true of putting your career ahead of your wife or husband and your family. Being content means that you know what your priorities are, and you aren't threatened by others.

You may remember what the apostle Paul said: "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." Most of us have plenty, but we are looking for perfect.

Can true joy be found when we're looking for perfection? To answer that question, we can look at where our affection lies. If we're putting our affection on things above--the eternal--why are we so worried about the here and now? 

So LaGard says that the ugly secret about greed is that "it shifts the spotlight away from that which ought to make us happiest. Always wanting more tomorrow keeps us from fully entering into the moment today." 

When you think about it, it becomes easy peasy:
a) Thinking about a dream house makes you overlook what you like about the house you're in.
b) Daydreaming about how romantic life might be with someone else makes you forget all the things you first loved about the person you married.
c) Always looking for some other way to be successful robs you of the enjoyment you should experience out of that which you've already achieved.

If you have no godly contentment here and now, you'll miss out on the joys of there and then! And you'd even be disappointed with heaven! 

Contemplate the idea of being greedy for godliness. That attitude will allow all of us to be content and bring a refreshing peace to our world of constant striving!

Have a wonderful Sunday with God and with family!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Contentment on Thanksgiving Day~

Death and Destruction are never satisfied,
and neither are the eyes of man. Proverbs 27:20

 Next week comes Thanksgiving Day! You probably look forward to it, because it's truly a day of family and friends and food! I know I do. But in the 11th chapter of Meeting God in Quiet Places, F. LaGard Smith is asking us whether we are content with our God-given blessings. Or do we experience greed without fully realizing it? It's worth considering!

You may already know that LaGard has a home in the beautiful Cotwolds of England. But in this chapter titled "Dream House," he is not just talking about the house where he lives, but a house in a village close by that is much larger and more beautiful than his own. He had dreamed of owning it, but never thought it would be for sale. When it came up "For Sale," his excitement grew as he thought about owning his dream house. But his excitement waned when he found out the price--far beyond anything he could afford. And, of course, the point is: Do we ever stop wanting more? Are we ever content?

In America, most of us have all our needs met, and if we don't, there is a church or a government program to help. So in reality, you might say that you're rich beyond measure if you're reading this page. But what happens when our needs are met, and we are satisfied with food, clothing, and shelter? You may notice that, surprisingly, our needs expand! We don't need more, we need better. As King Solomon said: "Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income." Is that me? Is that you?

If you're one of those people who constantly wants more, do you see yourself in the parable of the man who pulled down his barns in order to build bigger ones? Jesus says of this kind of man, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." But, you may insist, if the man pulled down his barns because his crop was so big, isn't that just being wise? Is it need or is it greed?

The things you needed last year have been purchased, but what about your new need? It wasn't so long ago in this country that farmers and sometimes city folks didn't have water piped in, toilets that flush, or central heating. Now even the lowliest person in this country often takes these "needs" for granted. I only present this thought to help us all see how needs can turn into greeds. Of course, the people in this country are truly blessed, and we are thankful for those blessings. But have we turned into a greedy people because our basic needs are met? I only ask the question for us to consider.
Is your "need" or "greed" warranted because you don't want more, you just want something better? Say, you don't want a second car, you just want a car that suits your personality. You have clothes, but you want a nicer dress to wear. You have a rug, but you want a prettier rug. This is surely just an appeal for all the good things in life--beauty, quality, and the bounty of God's generosity! After all, you aren't really asking for more money. But what are you asking for exactly? You should be aware that the more, which you think you need, is showing the sin of discontent. The opposite of contentment is greed! And the opposite of greed is contentment!

More on this tomorrow. Have a wonderful Saturday with the family!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

While Writing A Novel...

Good morning, Everyone! My company arrived yesterday afternoon--my youngest daughter, Donna, and her husband, Ron. This morning Ron went with Steve to train to take dents out of cars! Odd, you say? Well, life is odd...and seems to get more so every day. But we'll stick to the writing a novel. It's beginning to feel basic after writing every day for over two weeks. Now I have to say that I only have a little over 20,000 words, and I must have 50,000 words to get it published! I have to admit that it isn't looking good for me to reach that count. But as Scarlett said, I'll think about that tomorrow. Right now, I'm going to give you a good idea to try before Thanksgiving dinner arrives.

What is the first thing that you think of when you think of Thanksgiving? Food! And lots of it. Hot and delicious turkey, chicken, ham, or whatever meat you like, and lots of vegetables. And fresh, hot bread. Then there's cranberry sauce and desserts. We can talk about those later. I was thinking about all this and thought how nice it might be to follow a recipe from Mireille Guiliano's book French Women Don't Get Fat for a day or two before overeating at your Thanksgiving dinner. Here's a recipe for a leek soup with special instructions to help you maintain your weight.

Magical Leek Soup (Broth)
Serves 1 for the weekend

Ingredients: 2 pounds leeks

1. Clean the leeks and rinse well to get rid of sand and soil. Cut off the ends of the dark green parts, leaving all the white parts plus a suggestion of pale green. (Reserve the extra greens for soup stock.)

2. Put the leeks in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes. Pour off the liquid and reserve. Place the leeks in a bowl.

The juice is to be drunk (reheated or at room temperature to taste) every 2 to 3 hours, 1 cup at a time.

For meals, or whenever hungry, have some of the leeks themselves, 1/2 cup at a time. Drizzle with a few drops of extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Season sparingly with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, if you wish.

This will be your nourishment for both days, until Sunday dinner, when you can have a small piece of meat or fish (4 to 6 ounces--don't lose that scale yet!), with 2 vegetables, steamed with a bit of butter or olive oil, and a piece of fruit.

But not everyone likes leeks by themselves, and for those people, Mireille has another solution. Mireille says: Pity those who don't love the sweet taste and delicate texture of leeks. Eventually, you probably will. If not, follow the example of my cousin in Aix-en-Provence; after the birth of two sons, she needed to shed a few pounds but didn't love leeks. A neightbor suggested hiding the leeks among other flavorful and healthful ingredients. This Provencal version is known as soupe mimosa (Mimosa Soup). 

Mimosa Soup
Serves 1 for the weekend


1     head lettuce
1/2  pound carrots
1/2  pound celeriac
1/2  pound turnips 
1     pound leeks
1/2  pound cauliflower
1/2  cup chopped parsley
2     hard-boiled eggs, chopped 

1. Clean and chop all vegetables in rough pieces and put them in a pot, except for the cauliflower and parsley. Cover with water, bring to a boil, and simmer, uncovered, for 40 minutes. Add the cauliflower and cook for another 15 minutes.

2. Pass all the cooked vegetables through a food mill.

3. Serve the soup in a bowl and add parsley and pieces of chopping hard-boiled eggs.

Eat 1 cup (at room temperature or reheated) every 3 hours or so all day Saturday and Sunday until Sunday dinner when you can have a small piece (4 to 6 ounces) of fish or meat, 2 steamed vegetables with a dash of butter or olive oil, and 1 piece of fruit. Somewhat less liquidy and magical than the leek soup, this soup is nevertheless an effective and tasty alternative.

Both versions are so good, and such an adventure for most palates, that you will have a hard time seeing them as prison rations. Especially if these tastes are new to you, jot your impressions of flavor and fragrance on the next clean page of the notebook in which you have recorded your last three weeks. (Mireille has advised us to keep up with what we eat for at least three weeks.) In time, this exercise will intensify your pleasures, and you may want to keep a regular diary of your gastronomic experiences.

I have tried this leek soup, and I love it. It is really a broth, but it's very tasty and easy to enjoy. I also like a vegetable soup, though I haven't tried this exact recipe. Just see what you think! 

Have a great Thursday! The weekend is coming soon.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sense & Sensibility Patterns ~

Do you remember the blog I did about Jennie Chancey? (Oct. 16, 2010--Getting It All Done) Well, she's having a book giveaway, and if I will talk about my favorite pattern on my blog, my name will be entered in the contest. So here goes.

I love the latest pattern for girls: Girl's 1780's Portrait Dress Pattern. First of all, I love the fact that it's made up in toile--one of my favorite fabrics. But I also love the design of this dress for my granddaughter, Quinlyn. It has just enough flair without being ostentatious. I like the choice of a ruffle on the sleeve--or not. And I love the tucks on the skirt. I think it's the perfect dress to wear on any special occasion. And for this reason, it's my favorite pattern from Sense & Sensibility Patterns. You can see it for yourself! Go to:


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Magic in the Making ~ The King Arthur Flour Company

One of those funny little magic moments happened to me on Friday when I went to Barnes & Noble to pick up a book and a magazine for Quinlyn. At the magazine section, I looked at the other magazines to see if I thought one might put me in the holiday mood with Thanksgiving and Christmas rushing toward us. One of the magazines I used to  enjoy reading--but haven't read in several years--is Victoria Magazine. The front of the November/December issue has a beautiful Christmas tree lit with a thousand lights. I sat down and flipped through its pages. I was satisfied that there were some nice articles that I wanted to read.

But I didn't see the article that this blog is about until I got home.  When I began looking through my Victoria Magazine in earnest, I came to an article titled "Magic in the Making." It's an article with pictures about the King Arthur Flour Company! You probably won't remember that I've mentioned using their recipes often and think they're the best. And in my Thursday blog, I even said that I wasn't being paid for using them so often. My affection for this company is fairly clear. So today, I'm simply going to tell you what the article in Victoria Magazine (November/December issue) says about this Vermont company.

This company is 220 years old! I knew that since the cookbook I have is the 200th Anniversary edition. Quinlyn's birthday cake recipe came out of it. And if you aren't familiar with them, the Baker's Store & Cafe on the left is the place where they sell their flours, baking wares, and all the ingredients that help the home cook make baked goods turn out perfectly. They also have a beautiful and easy-to-use website. I get their catalog every month, and I'm always tempted to buy something.

Also, there is a recipe and step-by-step instructions  in this magazine for making  baguettes. I've made baguettes a few times before, but this is a new technique to me that I'm going to try. You first make a "poolish" and let it sit overnight. And then create an oven of steam to give that crackling exterior to the baguettes that we all love eating. So if you think you might enjoy a baguette with your spaghetti for dinner, this sounds like a recipe for success. 

Another of the wonderful things that King Arthur does are their educational classes. You can learn to be an expert baker in four days, which is what the writer of this article had done. Brittany Williams says of her experience, "Tucked in the woodlands of Vermont, the renowned King Arthur Flour company provides a wonderland for bakers and epicureans alike with a series of hands-on bread-making classes taught at the on-site Baking Education Center." She describes the classes in detail with pictures. 

I want to share this with you this morning, and I want you to know that Quinlyn's birthday was a lot of fun. I'm going to let her share her experience with her friends, but I may add one of the pics at another time.  

Have a great Tuesday! Do some baking!!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Happy Birthday to Quinlyn!

Today is November 15, 2010! I want to wish Quinlyn Caroline, my granddaughter who lives here, a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Today she is 13 years old and is as tall as I am now. Hard to believe, but that's life, isn't it? The picture was made this summer, but I think she's grown quite a bit since then. We both love dolls and share lots of conversations about them, as well as our love of communicating in different ways. She wrote a novel of 10,000 words for the NaNoWriMo web site in two days! And it's a very good story.  Quinlyn's birthday dinner will be here at my house, and I'll make her a pineapple cake. The original pineapple cake is in James Beard's American Cookery, but I quickly realized that I didn't want to make a white cake and have to take out the yokes. So after I found the recipe for a lighter pound cake, I use that recipe and simply put pineapple in the batter. Then I make a cream cheese icing. Quinlyn loves it! And she also loves that she can be on Facebook now!

I like to put a psalm on here for the person having a birthday. I suppose it symbolizes my hope that God is represented in our lives on these very special occasions. And here is the psalm for Quinlyn.

Laboring and Prospering with the Lord

Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain.
It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved sleep.
Behold, children are a heritage from
              the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one's youth.
Happy is the man who has his quiver
               full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in
               the gate.

"Since we are destined to live out our lives in the prison of our minds, our one duty is to furnish it well." ~ Peter Ustinov

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Seasons Represent Faithfulness~ 2

Good Sunday morning! The winter season is here if the temperature is anything to go by. We're in Chapter 10 of Meeting God in Quiet Places, and F. LaGard Smith uses parables to show changes and contrasts and how they can make us appreciate all the variations of our lives and how God works in it.

Now that you are thinking of the changes and contrasts, give some thought to your attitude toward them. You would like for the good times and happiness to stay longer, but it's sadness that seems to hang around. But realistically speaking, the very fact that things change means that your sadness could soon be replaced by its opposite--happiness. In any case, the fact that things change gives us hope for a better day.

So no matter what comes along--bereavement, separation, rejection, shame, discouragement, suffering, hatred, persecution, and a long list of everyday problems you'd rather skip--you can think of David, who had his share of difficulties. In Psalm 30, he said, "Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning!" David knew all about tragedy turning into triumph!

And it was probably Jeremiah who said in Lamentations that in the changing seasons of life, the STEADFAST LOVE OF THE LORD NEVER CEASES!
His mercies NEVER come to an end; THEY ARE NEW EVERY MORNING! 
So you're looking at God's faithfulness! 

And you may be thinking that Jeremiah was just having a good day when he made these statements. But you would be wrong. These words were said after the fall of Jerusalem! The Babylonians had come through slaughtering men, women, and children. But what Jeremiah believed was what he had seen from God: if there was a time of war, there would be a time of peace; God was faithful to create Israel and He would be faithful now. 
Q) Is your life at a standstill and unproductive?
A) God promises fruitfulness, and He is faithful who promised! 

God brought Israel out of Egyptian bondage.
Q) Are you in a kind of bondage in your life--something that helplessly enslaves you?
A) God promises freedom, and He is faithful that promised! 

The wilderness wandering was a time when the Israelites wondered about God's faithfulness. But who were the unfaithful? It was the sin of the Israelites that kept them wandering. God provided the land in spite of their rebellion.
Q) Are you going through a season of sin and wandering away from God, repeating the same sins over and over?
A) God promises forgiveness, and He will remain faithful!

And after being taken into Babylonian captivity, the Israelites wondered how they could sing songs of the Lord while in a foreign land.
Q) Are you going through a period of exile and alienation? Are you wondering how you in your present state can sing songs of the Lord? 
A) God promises restoration, and He is faithful who promised!

Here I quote LaGard directly: "Seasons come and seasons go. So do the passages of our lives. But Jesus Christ, the Faithful One, is the same yesterday and today and forever. With God there are no seasons. And because of that, there need be no season without God. "

Many of you will recognize this song that LaGard presents as a reminder:

Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day;
Earth's joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me!

I need Thy presense every passing hour;
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter's
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through clouds and sunshine, O abide
with me! 
---Henry F. Lyte

"Since we are destined to live out our lives in the prison of our minds, our one duty is to furnish it well." ~ Peter Ustinov

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Seasons Represent Faithfulness~

As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease. Genesis 8:22

It has turned cold in New Mexico--getting down to 26 degrees the last couple of nights. We had unseasonable warmth and now we're having unseasonable cold. But what that tells me is that we're heading into winter. In Meeting God in Quiet Places, F. LaGard Smith compares the changing of  the seasons with God's faithfulness. And not just in the seasons  we recognize, like Winter, Summer, Spring and Fall, but in the "seasons" of your day, your week and your year. Now we're up to Chapter 10, so let's see what there is to learn from this parable, remembering that it's all about making our lives better and more pleasing to God.

Seasons affect not only the world around us, but our bodies and minds as well. As we experience the change from hot to cold--signaled by trees and foliage, the air around us, and in the color of sky and clouds--it has an effect on us. LaGard says this is what it means:
"Seasons tell us much about God, including the very fact that God exists. It was the apostle Paul who reminded us that God 'has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons."

And it was the psalmist David who acknowledged God when he said,
It was you, who set all the boundaries of the earth; you made both summer and winter.
And again,
Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration.

And Solomon was wise beyond measure and said it this way:
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.

We are aware of times when the seasons change...spring to summer, winter to spring, but are we aware of the changing seasons of our day, with its time to wake, time for activity, time for nourishment or excitement, and time for rest? It may help us to become more aware that each day, each week, each season, and even each lifetime has purpose and meaning. And it helps to see each feeling and each experience within those times as the right time--the right fit--for our lives, to trust that God is working in them for our good. 

And all the contrasts help us to see the very things of which our lives consist: if there is a time to plant, there is a time to uproot; if there's a time to kill, there's a time to heal. And these contrasts also  happen in the seasons of our lives: a time for laughter, and a time for crying; a time for embracing and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to keep and a time to let go of things that hold us back. Turning it around, you can ask the question: How do you know what to let go of until you know what to keep? To find balance, we must see the contrasts. 

The same thing is true with opposite seasons. We are wiser about winter because we've experienced summer. Such different seasons, but not completely unrelated. Joy is the opposite of sadness, but you recognize that joy is felt more deeply because you've known sadness. Isn't life more precious because death is waiting? And how golden is silence after too much speech? 

Take time to examine your life and find just those elements that balance it and make it good. Are you aware of its purpose? By looking at the changes and contrasts in your life, you can also begin to see the seasons of your day, your week, your year, and even your whole life in a clearer way, thus recognizing how God takes part in your life.

More on this tomorrow. I hope your Saturday is filled with fun and family. My word count on my novel is at 17, 100!


Friday, November 12, 2010

Panettone Muffins ~

Who hasn't wished for an easier way to make panettone at Christmas time? Well, maybe you haven't, but it would be good to have something delicious and not so difficult, wouldn't it? This morning, I'm going to give you a recipe that you may make into a yearly Christmas treat. Here's what the King Arthur Flour people say about these muffins: "These tender, golden muffins mimic the flavor of Italy's classic Christmas bread, panettone." It makes any holiday special to have tasty treats to look forward to eating. See what you think of these muffins and decide whether they're worthy of your holiday menu. 

Recipe Summary

Hands-on time: 15-20 minutes
Baking time: 18-20 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 33 minutes unless you decide to soak the dried fruit overnight.
Yield: 12 muffins

Here are some tips to help with the process:
1) If you don't want to use the microwave to hydrate your dried fruit, simply mix it with the liquid, cover, and let it rest at room temperature overnight.
2) Using 1/8 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia ("Flowers of Sicily)"--a flavor combination of citrus and vanilla) will give you a mild hint of flavor; 1/4 teaspoon will be much more assertive.
3) A good choice of dried fruit: diced apricots, raisins, pineapple cubes, chopped dates, and sweetened cranberries.

Panettone Muffins

1 1/2 cups diced dried fruit
1/4 cup apple juice, orange juice, rum, or a mixture
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia to taste
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons King Arthur Cake Enhancer, optional, for enhanced freshness
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-purpose Flour
2/3 cup milk
2 generous tablespoons coarse white sparkling sugar for topping

1) Mix the dried fruit and liquid of your choice in a bowl. Cover the bowl, and let the fruit sit overnight. Or speed up the process by heating fruit and liquid in the microwave till very hot, then cooling to lukewarm/room temperature, about 1 hour.

2) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a standard muffin tin. Or line with 12 paper or silicone muffin cups, and grease the cups with non-stick vegetable oil spray; this will ensure that they peel off the muffins nicely.

3) In medium-sized mixing bowl, cream together the butter, vegetable oil, and sugars until smooth.

4) Add the eggs, beating to combine.

5) Stir in the Fiori and vanilla.

6) Whisk together the Cake Enhancer, baking powder, salt and flour. Stir the dry ingredients into the butter mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour and making sure everything is thoroughly combined.

7) Stir in the fruit, with any remaining liquid.

8) Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared pan, filling the cups quite full. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins generously with the coarse sugar.

9) Bake the muffins for 18-20 minutes, or until they're a sunny gold color on top, and a cake tester inserted into the middle of one of the center muffins comes out clean.

10) Remove them from the oven, and let them cool for a couple of minutes, or until you can handle them. Transfer them to a rack to cool.

Yield: 12 muffins.

Now if you find reading the recipe off a blog is harder than you care to deal with, go to the King Arthur Flour web site and they will have a print version of this recipe. And if you want to use the Fiori di Sicilia rather than just vanilla, you can get it from them. No, King Arthur Flour doesn't pay me to use so many of their recipes! I simply think they have the best baking ideas of anyone out there.

You'll be happy to know that my word count on my novel is at almost 16,500 words. It's quite an interesting venture and I never know where my mind is going to go next. I'm just hoping that it's a worthwhile project for me. From what other people have said from having done it in previous years, it is definitely worth doing even if nothing ever comes of it.

Have a wonderful Friday and a good weekend!