Saturday, November 30, 2013

Advent Begins! Our Plans

disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links. 

So it begins. I don't how you do it at your house, but we are of the Put The Tree Up After Thanksgiving Persuasion. We want to give the Pilgrims their due. Plus, I start getting twitchy if the tree is up too long. I love Christmas and all, but we don't celebrate the Tree. 

We have our favorite traditions. This year I am trying a few new things. For one, I have written down a few favorite "must do at all cost" things. I thought about planning one a day and then I decided I'd wear wool to the pool. Below you can see the list of Christmas Activities I assembled for us to work through. 

We also are doing a couple more things. The Muffin and Me (sounds like a sappy movie title) always strive to keep the True Reason For the Season front and center in our Christmas celebration. 

Last year, Josiah and I read  Jotham's Journey: A Storybook for Advent. We are reading through it again this year. I recommend it heartily to families whose desire is to talk about Christmas in a meaningful way. 

Something new we are doing this year is working through Truth in the Tinsel. This is a fun e-book that has an ornament craft everyday through the advent season. The crafts look easy to do and put together (yay!). I'm excited to get started. 

<a href="https://www.e-junkie.com/ecom/gb.php?cl=118014&c=ib&aff=262695" target="ejejcsingle">Click here to visit Truth in the Tinsel.</a>


If you want to purchase Truth in the Tinsel, please use my affiliate link. You can also purchase the Truth in the Tinsel printable ornaments if you want to make things really easy on yourself. 

<a href="https://www.e-junkie.com/ecom/gb.php?ii=1163772&c=ib&aff=262695&cl=118014" target="ejejcsingle">Click here to view more details</a>


I need to tell you that the book was written for kids ages 3-5 in mind. I honestly think that it can be adapted for any ages. I don't want to frustrate myself (or Josiah) with complicated crafts. I am planning on "blinging out" a few of them. While I was doing a bit of research I came across this fun post on how to make the ornaments using Legos! I think we are going to have to try a few. 

I promise to post a few as we go along.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Pumpkin Pie According to Betty



I'm going to share a tried and true pumpkin pie recipe with you.

I've inherited my Great-Grandmother's Betty Crocker Cookbook. It's an oldie.

And as you can see well-loved.


Where else can you get this kind of wisdom?


How about this one Who knew? I think I can handle it.


I love the practicality. 

And this is my go-to recipe for pancakes. It will never fail you...


Preach! Betty is a wise, wise woman.


Anyhoo. Back to pumpkin pie. As I type this it is 8:30 on Thanksgiving morning. If you haven't thought about your pumpkin pie it's time to get started. I guarantee you it is better than those store bought pies..ouch!

I need to admit something.

I am an inconsistent baker. One day I could whip up a glorious masterpiece of culinary genius. The next day, using the same recipe, I might turn out something fit only for my parents' Big Black Dog and teenage boys.

You know I had to get him in a post somewhere. He's my buddy.


The curse of Beke's Dessert Efforts do not keep me from trying. I am (in my humble opinion) an excellent cook. Just don't expect much from my scones.

This pie recipe is well, loved.




My secret weapon this year is the excellent crop of pie pumpkins my Dad grew this year. And a pie isn't a pie isn't a pie without a good pie crust. I use this pie crust recipe from The Pioneer Woman.


I gave the pumpkin a good whirl in the food processor. 'Cause nothing says old fashioned cooking like the food processor.


Another good tip is to use the good stuff. At least, what you can afford of the good stuff. My idea of good stuff is generally dependent on a great deal.


So after pulverizing the pumpkin a little more, I added milk and eggs. I'll give you the recipe in just a bit. I mixed it all up. Really good.


Then came the sugar and spices. And mixed it a bit more.


 And poured it into the pie crust.


 You can see that the Curse struck again. I burned the crust a bit. Opps.


This is the other pie.  The crust isn't as pretty, but at least it's not burnt. I take my victories where I can get it.


I also made a pumpkin cheesecake with a gingersnap crust. It turned out pretty good. It was come and go for a bit. I discovered (after making the filling) that my springform pan was mangled. It had possibly been used for something other than making cheesecake. Like a space battle, for instance.

So here it is. The Recipe.

1 3/4 cups of cooked, mashed pumpkin
1/2 tsp. salt
1 3/4 cup of milk
2 large eggs
2/3 cup of brown sugar
2 T. sugar
1 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves
 1 prepared pie crust

Mix pumpkin, salt, milk and eggs. Add sugar and spices. Pour into pie crust. Bake 45 to 55 minutes. It's done when you insert a knife in the middle and it comes out clean. 

Enjoy! And try not to burn the crust :<))

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

My Top Ten Favorite Products to Review (TOS Crew) - 2013





As a member of the 2013 TOS Review Crew, I’ve gotten to review some pretty snazzy products and curriculum.

Recently, members of The Crew got to vote on our favorite products in all manner of categories for The Blue Ribbon Awards

This was sooo hard. I’ve reviewed quite a few this year. It was difficult trying to narrow down my favorites. Almost as hard as deciding where to go to dinner with The Muffin on a Friday night. Sushi? Burgers? Sushi?

Curious about my choices? I thought I would give my own personal Top Ten.

Here they are..In no particular order. I’ve linked back to my original review so you can check it out for yourself.

1.       Reading Kingdom – This is one we still use daily. I think it has helped Josiah tremendously. It involves little of my time and encourages independent learning.  
2.       Almanzo Wilder: Life Before Laura (DVD)– You have to understand my deep and lasting love for all things Laura. She has been my friend since childhood. Oddly enough, Farmer Boy is one of my favorites. I loved everything about this video.
3.       Picaboo Yearbooks – I love making photobooks. The fact that I got to make a yearbook for Josiah and then write about it on my blog was fantastic!
4.       Institute For Excellence In Writing – If Andrew Pudewa (founder of IEW) had a fan club, I would be the secretary. This is one of the best writing programs out there. And it is one I can use for years to come.
5.       Christianity Cove – I chose this one because I have been able to use it a number of times in my ‘other job’ as children’s minister.
6.       See the Light  - This art curriculum was so much fun. I had as much fun as Josiah working through it.
7.       Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics Josiah loves this curriculum. I love this curriculum. I (heart) Apologia. That is all.
8.       Notgrass Company (America the Beautiful) – This history curriculum is superbly done. I love history and it has been a blessing to use it 

Just a warning. The next 2 are books. It was very, very, very hard for me to choose which books to include in my Top 10. I wasn’t able to do this when I voted for the Blue Ribbon Awards, but because this is blog I am going to play my way.

9.       Favorite grown up reads. At Home in Dogwood Mudhole and Seed Sowers.
 
As I said, this was hard because we loved so many of them. I need to give an honorable mention shout out to Rosie’s Doll Clothes Patterns because Rosie gave me some great tools and tips I am using in my sewing as we speak and to Joyce Herzog’s Scaredy Cat Reading System Express. I am currently teaching with it in our little Co-op. 

I know. Technically, this is more than 10. I just couldn’t help it. There are just too many good ones not to mention! 

Wonder if any of my picks got an award? You check out all of the winners at the Crew Blog.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Need

Those of you who read my blog faithfully know that when I was in my early 20's I had a near fatal car accident. It was life altering to say the least.
I...
Crushed my left hip
Fractured my right femur
Fractured my sternum
Fractured my pelvis
Fractured a number of ribs
Suffered a heart contusion

The dash board permanently moved my  right knee cap and my left shoulder. Even the hollow of my neck was transformed forever. All these years later I still have soft tissue damage covering my torso.

And it has been suggested that my battle with cardiomyopathy (with 2 episodes of near fatal heart failure) came about because of the heart contusion.

I am blessed. I survived that wreck. I was able to walk again (be it after intense physical therapy).

This past weekend I learned that the 19-year-old son of The Old Schoolhouse publishers (Paul and Gena Suarez) was in a terrible motorcycle accident. I have been a reviewer for The Old Schoolhouse this past year and have been so blessed to be a part of this ministry.

The staff of TOS are gathering funds to help the Suarez family with expenses. I can't begin to tell you how costly an accident of this nature is. My hospital bills were astronomical...even beyond what our insurance covered.

You can learn more about how you can help here.

More than monetary I ask that you consider lifting Levi Suarez up in prayer. I understand too well the road of recovery he has before him. I am praying that God covers his family with perfect peace. You must know that the next few hours, days and months are going to be filled with challenges...but they are also going to be filled with an awesome testimony of God's faithfulness and provision.





Monday, November 18, 2013

With Style

It is a difficult thing. To be raised by highly creative people.

You may say. "Why Rebekah? Aren't you highly creative yourself?"

In comparison, I am only a poser.

I walked into my Mom's sun room yesterday and was greeted to this.




Mom recently purchased a Takamine guitar. It was a fabulous deal and had been owned by a teenage girl who thought she might want to learn to play. The case was in pretty rough shape. So Mom decided to spruce it up a bit.


Not only does this woman (my Mom) have the pipes reminiscent of  Karen Carpenter.


She has the art stylings of a Winslow Homer. Mom is a beautiful artist. Her favorite medium is watercolor...though I think she did a great job with these craft store acrylics. Though I am not sure how Mr. Homer would feel about the polka dots. I personally love them.


So I'm thinking as I look around my house. I wonder what I can take to Mom for her to stylize. Laptop case? Sewing machine cover? Toaster? Too much?


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Thankful Be

My mom's white kitty, Nim, posed next to some of my Chalkboard art (such as it is) last Thanksgiving.

I do believe that being Thankful is a necessary state of mind.Without it we are danger of withering into a blob of self-destructive pity.

Now that is some warm and fuzzy imagery!


I also think being Thankful should be more than just a one shot a year deal. Obviously. In fact, I think that the cares of  life will just gobble us up if we don’t bother to “count our blessings.” (Get it. Gobble? Ha!)

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the beloved hymn, “Count Your Blessings", (at least it's beloved with the toe tapping, church going Hillbillies of my acquaintance) I want to share the lyrics with you. 

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,

When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,

Count your many blessings, name them one by one,

And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,

Count your blessings, see what God hath done!

Count your blessings, name them one by one,

And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?

Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?

Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,

And you will keep singing as the days go by.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,

Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;

Count your many blessings. Wealth can never buy

Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,

Do not be disheartened, God is over all;

Count your many blessings, angels will attend,

Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

I really need to stitch a sampler of these words…and wear it every day. 

I’ve mentioned a couple of times (well, probably more than a couple) that I have had a lingering case of the grumpies as of late.  You have to watch out with those grumpies. They are catching. It is also a fact that a proven cure for the grumpies is Gratitude. 

So I have been taking extra care the past few weeks to consciously (and publically) give Thanks to the One who created all things for all that He has blessed me with. 

To be honest there have been some days it hasn’t been easy. I’m more of a “glass half full” kind of person in real life. But a good case of the grumpies can lay even those most positive of girls low now and again. 

I want to share some of my thoughts on how to encourage a life of Thanksgiving. I hope to inspire you and myself in the process. By the way…I was kind of inspired by the Hymn above. It’s a great blueprint for living a grateful life.

1.       Count Your Blessings. I mean it. Get out a notebook and start recording those blessings. One day this week all I could come up with is that I was thankful I could clean house. There have been times in my life where I couldn’t even comb my own hair…let alone dust the furniture. It’s a biggie when you think about it. I just needed to be reminded how blessed I truly am. 


2.       Don’t Go to the Dark Side. As tempting it is we have to be extra careful not to go negative. Even if you are facing a trial, you must trust that God is going to work it for His good. I have to know that God is taking my mess and making a masterpiece!

3.       Don’t Compare. It’s hard. We as women often hold ourselves up to each other. Sometimes we just don’t measure up. We aren’t as skinny or put together. We don’t keep house as well as our Baby Sister (just getting a little personal there). Our clothes don’t look as fresh and stylish. Other women seem to manage their children better. The truth is that we can’t see inside another’s heart. Our focus needs to be on God. Not others. 


4.       Don’t Wish For What Was or Could Have Been. This has been a biggie for me in the past few weeks for some reason. My mom and dad have been going through a storage building. My mom found a whole stack of pictures from my youth. There were those of me in my svelte (if not fuzzy-haired) days. There were also those of me when I had gained an enormous amount of weight. Today I am somewhere in between. I have lost much of the weight, but have more to lose. Instead of rejoicing in my accomplishment, however, I was sad. How could that tiny girl let herself get so fat? I spent entirely too much time in a self-imposed pity part…complete with streamers and an ice cream sundae. We have to be thankful for what God has taken us through. We have to be grateful for Today. And not wish to change our yesterdays. There was purpose in those yesterdays. 

5.       Don’t Carry the Weight of the World (on your shoulders). There is an old song that I used to sing as a special as a kid. 

There is no problem too big

God cannot solve it

There is no mountain too tall

God cannot move it

There is no storm too dark

God cannot calm it

There is no sorrow too deep

He cannot soothe it

Oh, if He carried the weight of the world upon His shoulders

I know my brother that He will carry you

Oh, if He carried the weight of the world upon His shoulders

I know my sister that He will carry you

Thankfulness is that state of mind that allows you to rest in His providence. To rest in the knowledge that He is carrying you in the palm of his hand.  I am often guilty of not only worrying about my issues (as many as they are), but also taking on the problems of others. I was never meant to carry those burdens.

So this Thanksgiving midst the Turkey and pie, I hope that we all take time to be Thankful. More than that, however, it is my prayer that the Attitude of Gratitude permeates my life. That “Counting my Blessings” is as natural as breathing in and out. 

I want to leave you with this little clip (keeping, perhaps, in the spirit of this ‘sing-a-long’ post) from one of my most favorite movies ever. White Christmas. 

Bing and Rosemary. It doesn’t get any better that this. 

And the song is oh so appropriate.


Happy Thanksgiving, My Friends.

I'm linking this post to The Old Schoolhouse Crew Blog! It goes live on November 19.



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