Friday, November 30, 2007

Gluten Free Friday

How did I live before I discovered hummus???????

Garlic Hummus

2 cans chickpeas (drain, but save some liquid)
1/4 cup tahini
4 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, pressed
dash of salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend well. Add reserved liquid to desired texture, and blend again.

Hummus has become a staple in my diet! I think I could eat for lunch every day with rice crackers or raw veggies. The kids love it, too. It's a great gluten free snack!

Bah Humbug

This is just a sampling of what I find in my mailbox each day- catalogues and more catalogues.They're turning me into a Scrooge. We'll be striving to avoid this cultural phenomenon of materialism/consumerism with some special Advent activities starting Sunday. I'm excited to focus on the true meaning of the holiday - the coming of Jesus.

For unto us a child is born
Unto us a son is given....
And He shall be called Wonderful, Counselor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Tree Tradition

Every year on the day after Thanksgiving, we get our Christmas tree and spend the day decorating it and the house. Since we've lived in New England we've actually gone to real tree farms and cut our own!
This year we found a new tree farm in our town that we had never been to. It was beautiful - just the home of a family with the tree farm set behind on a gently rolling landscape. We enjoyed strolling up and down the rows of trees looking for the perfect one. Usually, when we thought we had found THE ONE, it had already been "tagged", which means that someone else had come at an earlier time and claimed it as their own, to be cut down at a later date. (We may have to add the tagging tradition next year!)
Eventually, we found one we all agreed upon, and a very sweet 12 year old boy (in the red suit) pulled up on his tractor and sawed it down effortlessly. He was a pro, and quite the friendly salesman! And the price? None were posted, so we were bracing ourselves. In the heated shed for checking out our total was quoted: "That'll be $18.00."
Amazing! A steal in the tree business - at least in our experience. We were blessed!
Here is our ever- growing -taller Kayla-girl, posing with the newly decorated tree and blazing fire in her cozy pj's. She's way in to "coziness" these days, and loves to "snuggle" with Mom or Dad in bed or on the couch. Add hot tea or cocoa, and she's your best friend!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Gluten Free Pie is Possible!

Honestly, the first pie crust I EVER made was a gluten free one, but it wasn't pretty and not very tasty either!

So this year I was determined to make a beautiful and yummy crust for the kids. (Actually, I wasn't that worried about taste, as it would be filled with nothing but chocolate and sugar.)

I used the first flaky crust recipe out of Rebecca Reilly's Gluten Free Baking cookbook.

Following directions is the key! Rolling it out between 2 pieces of waxed paper, peeling one piece of the wax paper off, then carefully lifting and flipping the other piece onto the pie plate did the trick.

Then folding up the excess dough and doing a careful job of fluting the edges. Dipping fingers in water helped smooth the dough.

I brushed a bit of milk onto the crust before baking it, and it turned a beautiful brown!

Poured in the chocolate filling (a tradition at our house - out of my grandmother's old Methodist Church Cookbook!)

The home made whipped cream went on later.

Success - and my pie making confidence is boosted! Hopefully yours, too!

Thanksgiving at our House

All the ingredients for a perfect Thanksgiving.....
Reading Scripture....Thanking the Lord for His blessings and gifts

Good cooks in the kitchen

Old married people

Young single people


Lots of pies

and football watching!

Hope you all had a great holiday weekend!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Holiday Woes and Verilys

A hilarious must read!

Written by my sister's friend Megan in Texas.

Gluten Free Friday

Here's a Tex - Mex option for your Thanksgiving leftovers!

Turkey Tortilla Soup

3-4 cups chopped turkey leftovers
1 onion
1 can diced tomatoes and and green chilies
1 can tomato sauce
1 carton GF chicken broth
4 cups water
1 can kidney beans (drained/rinsed)
1 can black beans (drained/rinsed)
1 small box frozen corn
8 corn tortillas
chili powder (2 tsp or to taste)
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Saute chopped onion in oil until tender in large pot. Add canned tomatoes, sauce, broth, water, beans, corn, and spices. Simmer until heated through. Tear corn tortillas into small pieces and add to soup. Simmer until tortillas dissolve. Serve with crushed tortilla chips and grated cheese on top.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Giving Thanks

My favorite thanksgiving story. Also the reason Kayla's middle name is Elizabeth.....

I glanced down the long dim aisle to make sure no guard was in sight, then drew the Bible from its pouch. "It was First Thessalonians," I said. We were on our third complete reading of the New Testament since leaving Scheveningen. In the feeble light I turned the pages. "Here it is: 'Comfort the frightened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that none of you repay evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all....' " It seemed expressly written for Ravensbruck.

"Go on," said Betsie. (Elizabeth) "That wasn't all."

"Oh yes: '... to one another and to all. Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus."

"That's it Corrie! That's His answer. 'Give thanks in all circumstances!' That's what we can do. We can start right now to thank God for every single thing about these new barracks!"

I stared at her, then around me at the dark, foul-aired room.

"Such as?" I asked.

"Such as being assigned here together."

I bit my lip. "Oh yes, Lord Jesus!"

"Such as what you're holding in your hands."

I looked down at the Bible. "Yes! Thank you, dear Lord, that there was no inspection when we entered here! Thank you for all the women, here in this room, who will meet you in these pages."

"Yes," said Betsie. "Thank you for the very crowding here. Since we're packed so close, that many more will hear!" She looked at me expectantly. "Corrie!" she prodded.

"Oh, all right. Thank you for the jammed, crammed, stuffed, packed, suffocating crowds."

"Thank you," Betsie went on serenely, "for the fleas and for..."

The fleas! This was too much. "Betsie, there's no way even God can make me grateful for a flea."

" 'Give thanks in all circumstances,' " she quoted. "It doesn't say, 'in pleasant circumstances.' Fleas are part of this place where God has put us."

And so we stood between piers of bunks and gave thanks for fleas.

From The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom
(Corrie's family was sent to a Nazi prison camp for hiding Jews in their home during WWII. Corrie was the only survivor. It was her sister Betsie's faith that strengthened Corrie during that horror.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Gourd Family

The gourd family on my table would like to share a few corny Thanksgiving jokes with you...What are unhappy cranberries called?

What is a turkey's favorite song?
"I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas"

What disasters could happen if you dropped the Thanksgiving turkey?
The downfall of Turkey, the breakup of China, and the overthrow of Greece!

First Snow

We enjoyed the first snow of the season today - about 2 inches.
The Christmas music was playing, there was hot cider for breakfast, and everyone was efficient with their schoolwork and chores in order to go outside and play in it!

On a sad note, Buddy (our golden retriever) had a pretty severe seizure this morning. I was in the mud room preparing to deliver papers with Kory when it happened. It was very frightening and lasted several minutes. Everyone was awake and crying by then - it was very difficult to watch. He's been fine the rest of the day, and we learned it is not an uncommon problem for labs and retrievers. We will observe him over the holiday weekend and possibly take him to the vet if it happens again.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Turkey for 100

Since we serve lunch between the 11:15am and 1:00pm services every Sunday anyway, we decided to make the Sunday before Thanksgiving extra special by having a traditional turkey dinner with our whole church family! This is how it all started....buying 5 turkeys the Wednesday before so they could thaw in time.

Here is part of the cooking crew - Samm, Rachel, and Virginia - working on the stuffing. Samm (left) actually comes every Sunday to help me prepare the meals. Yesterday she arrived at 8am and helped me get all of the turkeys in ovens all over town. (Just kidding - just in the church kitchen and the boarding house kitchens.) It was her first experience with giblets, necks, and such - and she is a vegetarian - what a trooper! She thought it was pretty disgusting, and said "I don't want to become an adult!" I said "If that is your standard, then you just became an adult!"

More of the cooking crew - Aly, Chelsea, and Danica - working on salad and pies.

The full cafe! Even the Northampton church came over to join us!
And if you look closely you can see a tree with cut out leaves in the background. Each table had markers and leaves for writing what you are thankful for.
( The elementary school teacher in me?)

The pie table - lots of pumpkin, several pecan, a few apple, blueberry, and strawberry.

The amazing clean-up and leftover distribution crew - Kristin, Danica, Lois, Steve, Tim, and Matt.
What a day! What a team! What a joy to serve together in Christ!

As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
I Peter 4:10

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His steadfast love endures forever.
I Chronicles 16:34

Friday, November 16, 2007

Gluten Free Friday

Mexican Steak

6-8 cube steaks

2 cans tomato sauce
1 cup salsa
1/2 cup brown sugar

grated cheese
avocado slices

Brown cube steaks in oil (I use canola) 3-5 minute each side. Place browned steaks in baking dish. Mix together tomato sauce, salsa, and brown sugar. Pour sauce over steaks. Cover dish with foil and bake 40 minutes @ 350 deg. Uncover dish, top each steak with grated cheese, and bake 5 more minutes. Place avocado slices on top of each steak to serve.

We eat this main dish with brown rice, black beans and a tossed salad.

Work Day

Finally, Robert had a real day off to do the "transition to winter" work around the house - raking leaves, replacing screens with storm windows, cleaning out mudroom, garage, etc. He had many willing helpers as it was still a school day and a Friday and there wasn't much interest in finishing schoolwork at all!

And I spent the morning at the pediatrician's office with Cooper. On Tuesday, he was lying face down on our stairs and his brother thought it would be fun to lift his legs up and then drop him back on the stairs. Coop came down on his ribs and has been complaining ever since - even waking at night with pain. The verdict? No fractures, but severe bruising that will probably be painful for the next month! The prescription? No more roughhousing from big brother, and no tackle football with friends!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Once for all

For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens; who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins, and then for the sins of the people, because He did
once for all
when He offered up Himself.
Hebrews 7:26-27

I had already been talking to one of the kids about confession this week, since 1John 1:9 was in a Bible study lesson of theirs. It dawned on me then and stayed with me all week that it isn't that confession brings about forgiveness - that was given once for all at the cross - but it brings about transformation and holiness.

So I decided to put it into practice myself as much as I could - just acknowledging my sin to the Lord. Things like anger, irritability, pridefulness, selfishness, worry, fear, lack of contentment, judgement, etc. Good and bad things happened as a result. I spent more time thinking of the Lord, praying, praising, worshipping, just relating with Him, being in awe of Him, and even seeing small changes in attitude,response - this was good. At times, though, I fell back into my ever present struggle with perfectionism. I can change. I won't let Him down again. I will never be short with the kids again. I will never again become angry when they exhibit the same negative behavior for the 1000th time. I will always be gentle. I will stay on top of all house chores. I will pray and read my Bible daily. I will....I will.....I will.....

So, today's sermon was very meaningful to me after this week's struggle. It was all about the 1st covenant established in the Law through Moses which began what became hundreds of years of animal sacrifice to atone for sin. Hundreds of years because it never did the job - it was always temporary, and had to be done again the next week, or the next year, or at the next assigned time.

Not so with the 2nd covenant.

For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second.
For this is the covenant that I will make....I will put my laws into their minds, and I will write them upon their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people....for I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.
When He said, 'A new covenant,' He has made the first obsolete.
Hebrews 8:7-13

In the sermon, Robert called the first covenant the Amherst College Covenant - the "I must make a 4.0 or die" covenant. ( This would be where I fall.) He called the 2nd the Hampshire College Covenant - the "We don't get grades here" covenant.

Jesus gives the 4.0 for FREE - His righteousness, His perfection - for FREE. We only have to receive it. If we try and earn it, we are disqualified. If we say we don't need it, we are also disqualified.

We took communion, and I was in tears. More and more I realize my need for the free gift. There was a time when I didn't think I needed it as much as the next person, but no more. And I am so grateful for this awareness..... "he who is forgiven little, loves little." (Luke 7:47)

For you do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it;
You are not pleased with burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise.
Psalm 51:16-17

Oh, that I would live in the freedom of the gift, confessing daily my need for it, and not dishonor the Giver with sacrificial and prideful efforts to earn it.

It's beginning to look a lot like

I had fun making these fabric apples filled with a cranberry spiced cider mix for the moms in my homeschool group. This was our first free Saturday in a long time. The boys were able to go to the final Amherst College Football game so they were gone all day - it was an away game, and Kayla had a friend over for the afternoon. So....time to sew and work on the gifts I've been brainstorming about!
But as you can see, it is still fall here in New England. We have yet to rake the leaves, so Buddy is enjoying his cozy bed for a while longer!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Gluten Free Friday

Absolutely no flour is needed for these delicious cookies! (No dairy either!)

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

1 jar natural peanut butter (no sugar)
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup chocolate chips (optional)
granulated sugar (also optional-for rolling cookies in)

Combine all ingredients, stirring until well blended. Roll about 1 tablespoon of dough into a ball, and coat in sugar. Place ball on cookie sheet and flatten gently with tines of a fork. Repeat with remainder of dough. Bake at 350 deg. for 8-9 minutes-try not to over bake so they will be nice and moist! Makes 3-4 dozen small cookies.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Homeschool History Highlights

History group is the highlight of our week. It is such a blessing to come together with nine other moms and our combined 30 children! The moms...Trish, Ruth, Aimee, Pam, Betsy, Me, Izckra, Christina, and Laurie - Carolyn was missing this day. These are truly amazing women! Each one inspires me in a different way to be a better mom, wife, homemaker, teacher, and follower of Christ. What a gift!
We split the kids up into three groups: 1. pre-school/nursery 2. Kindergarten-2nd grade 3. 3rd - 7th grade. Two moms are responsible for the teaching - one for the K-2nd group, and one for the 3rd-7th group. The rest just take care of the babies/preschoolers and fill in where help is needed in the other groups.
This is the younger class. They were learning about Justinian the Great. (We all follow the Veritas Press Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Reformation curriculum) Justinian, ruler of the eastern empire, built the largest and most beautiful Byzantine church ever - the Hagia Sophia. Here the girls are dressed as the artisans who created the mosaics and other beautiful details of the church. The boys are armed with weapons ready to defend the empire against the Huns and other invaders.

K-2nd graders making the mosaics and weapons.

Interestingly, the 3rd-7th grade class is made up of 12 BOYS! Not one girl in the group. And only 4 girls out of 9 in the K-2nd group. Much football has been played because of this dynamic. They have about a half an hour to play together before class starts and then another hour after. We meet from 12:30 - 3 or 3:30.

The BOY class creating their mosaics. And yes, there were a couple of football scene mosaics.

We'll even be having a Medieval themed Christmas party in a few weeks!
We are so thankful for this group. It is a source of encouragement, friendship, prayer, motivation, accountability and much joy!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Sugar Substitute Envy

Are ya jealous, sis?Friend from church, Michelle, let me get in on her food co-op last month. This is one gallon, and it cost only $25.00!
Been using it in squash dishes, and hot tea so far - yum!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Gluten Free Friday

Even the kids enjoy this Asian inspired dish adapted form a Southern Living Magazine recipe. Make it vegan by substituting lots of veggies for the chicken!

Thai Chicken and Rice

2 cups uncooked rice
4 cups water
1 can coconut milk
3 tbsp GF soy sauce
6 tbsp peanut butter
4 chicken breasts
6 green onions
2 red bell peppers

Cook 2 cups rice in 4 cups water. (20 minutes for white rice, 30-45 for brown)

Stir together coconut milk, soy sauce, peanut butter.

Cook chicken in skillet or wok until done. Add green onions and bell pepper. Add coconut milk mixture and simmer and stir for 3-5 minutes.

Serves 6

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Maiden Halloween Voyage

We've waffled about this "holiday" for 12 years now. The kids have never done "real" trick-or-treating. In years past we have just let them get dressed up, and then we've made the rounds to 2 or 3 friend's houses to show off their costumes. It became a tradition, so each house would be ready with a small treat to give them.We weren't sure how we felt about "celebrating" this day (This article that I read last year helped), didn't want them to have a bag of candy that would be a source of contention for the next couple of weeks, were uncomfortable going to houses of people we don't know, and weren't sure we wanted them exposed to inappropriate or scary costumes.
Well, circumstances were different this year. Robert's 6 week Bible study class was over so he had a free night. I, on the other hand, still had to lead mine, and the friends that we usually visit had either moved away or had plans to be away from home. So, Robert and our three tagged along with some of their best friends on their neighborhood trick-or-treating route. (Much of it was our paper route as well, so we have gotten to know some of these folks.)

As you can imagine, they had a great time. I don't think I've ever seen that much candy in one child's possession. We will be negotiating this for weeks I'm sure. (Maybe this is the time to institute the tradition of the "Sugar Sprite" - see the Halloween post here.)

Have you figured out the costumes?
Kayla's is pretty obvious, and she was evidently a bit hit. Treat givers were running for their cameras and asking her for a picture! And yes, that is real popcorn glued to her hat and box top. Cooper is Frodo. He has a gold ring around his neck, a bedroll/backpack, brown markings on his feet and legs to look like hair and Sting, of course. And Kory is a WWII aviator, complete with his great-grandfather's flight jacket. Their friends Cody, Dustin, and Ethan are a snowboarder, an injured person, and a superhero.

Guess there's no turning back now.
We know full well that supposed one-time treats turn into expected traditions in the minds of kids. And it's funny how they can remember these things from year to year, yet forget to put their plates in the dishwasher on a daily basis!
Costumes are so much fun, though. It was wonderful to see them laughing and enjoying dressing up!