To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not, rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common–this is my symphony.~William Henry Channing

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Well I Feel Bad

I thought about dinner during the day.

I even made a switch to serve edamame instead of spaghetti squash.

And even told Emily when it was time to start dinner she could help.

Not once did it cross my mind that I had not thawed the pork tenderloin that we were supposed to eat.

I like having a good meal ready for Rob when he comes home. And Rob like sit when I have a good meal ready for him when he comes home.

So there I was wondering what in the world were we going to do for dinner (Did I mention that I am slightly incapacitated because I hurt my knee?) and he comes home.

With this.

Yep, my man bought me a new to us 2010 Town and Country van!

A pretty shiny newer-and-nicer-than-I've-ever-had-before van.

One that doesn't have a cracked and broken dashboard.

And it doesn't make odd sounds because of some tire problem.

The trunk on this van opens all the time too.

I may be slightly spoiled.

Because I have a gorgeous new van and he got a bowl of cereal for dinner.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Test Kitchen # 62 ~ Baked Beans

I do not normally like baked beans. Not for any good reason...they just don't float my boat.

But then one day my friend Christy brought a batch to a gathering and oh, my goodness they were so good. I was skeptical that it was some sort of fluke so when we recently had her family, along with some other friends, over for a pool party/cookout  I may or may not have strongly hinted that she should bring her baked beans.

simple baked beans recipe

I am happy to report that the beans were just as good as before and she was willing to share her recipe too.
So be sure pin this recipe because it is a keeper and the perfect addition to any end of summer or back to school cookouts you have coming up!

What you'll need:
6 slices of bacon, fried and crumbled
1 small onion
1 clove of garlic, or about 1 or 1 1/2 TBS of minced jarred garlic
3/4 cup barbecue sauce (may substitute with ketchup if needed)
1/2 cup molasses 
1/4 cup brown sugar (if you don't use Blackstrap molasses you can omit the sugar) 
2 TBS Worcestershire sauce
1 TBS yellow mustard
1/2 tsp black pepper
a dash of liquid smoke
6 cans of your preferred beans (she uses 1 each of navy, northern, kidney, black, pinto, and baked)

What you'll do:
Saute your onion and garlic using a little of the bacon grease.
Combine with the bacon pieces and all of the other ingredients except the beans in your crock pot.*
Rinse all of your beans and then add them to the crock pot.
Cook them on high for 1 to 2 hours.
Turn the crock pot to low and continue to cook for two or three more hours.

Serve hot and delicious with burgers and brats or whatever grill goodness you have going on.

baked beans, simple easy baked beans

*You can bake these in a 9x13 pan at 350 degrees for about 1 1/2 hours. Also, you can apparently add in a pound of sizzled Conecuh sausage and really up the taste factor.


Tuesday's Table

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Life Is Good

We spent much of yesterday at the Naval Aviation Museum. The huge aircraft hanging everywhere or placed where we can get up close and personal is impressive but honestly my favorite part is the miniature aircraft carriers. Ironically, I am more aware and amazed by the sheer size of those ships when I see them scaled down.
Pensacola NAS museum air craft carrier miniature

Pensacola NAS air craft carrier miniature

After we had meandered around a while we went to the lighthouse and enjoyed a picnic under the shade of some huge old oak trees.

Pensacola NAS lighthouse

We walked along the beach and just enjoyed the beautiful day. While I cannot say that it was cool, the day was unseasonably not hot.

 Claire rolled her capri pants up as far as she could and splashed in and out of the water. She also drew in the sand.

She was with her people and all was well in her world.

And indeed it is.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Oh, Bring Us Some Figgy Pudding

Not that it's Christmas time or anything.

Nor would I know how to make figgy pudding but I did get to go to a friend's house on Monday and pick some fresh figs. I don't remember ever eating figs before but when I plucked one off the tree and bit into it my mind immediately flooded with memories. It was like it was the taste of my childhood in the way that Noxema is a smell of my childhood. (My Mother would slather that stuff all over us after getting sunburned at the beach.)

I tried my hand at making fig preserves yesterday which was something. I've only ever done something like that years ago with a friend so I am not really sure how it will taste or keep but I did it. Boiled my jars before and after and everything. I found a recipe on Pinterest (of course!) that called for a little rosemary to be boiled in and removed before canning and since I have an ambitious little bush of rosemary in my backyard decided to give it a try. I figure as long as I am experimenting with the whole process why not get creative?

And also because I am me and it's what I do I also did a little fig photo shoot before I started cooking. I am a lover of this pinterest board and food photography in general, and the colors of the figs also inspired me. They reminded me of fall with their rich hues.

fresh figs fruit harvest

fresh figs

fresh figs

fresh figs Kim Klassen textures

Now, if the jam tastes as good as the pictures look!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Test Kitchen #61 ~ Pineapple Raspberry Trifle


Yes I know, it's a blog post! I am as shocked as you are :-)

Life is busy and, truth be told, I am practicing what I shared in my last post. I am trying to be critical of what I write and why. Am I being defensive? Making a point? Just spouting off? Wasting time writing something to avoid other chores and things I could/should be doing?

When I started this blog I purposed that it would be God honoring and helpful. And this time last year I was a blogging fool. Last summer I wrote posts on modesty, courtship, and just the overall joyful burden of life. Not to mention recipes and pictures and all manner of things.

This summer has been different though. Certainly not quieter in an everyday living sense but certainly in my blogging. I suspect it is just a season though and soon enough I'll be at it again.

But to show that I haven't completely abandoned my little corner of the cyber world I am sharing not one, but two, recipes. Actually to be fair the first isn't a recipe as much as it is a wonderful snack idea. One of our favorite snacks here around the house lately is edamame. I will buy this shelled and serve them as a side dish at dinner but we devour them as a snack. All I do is boil them for a few minutes while they're still in their pod, drain them, and toss with coarse salt.

So delicious!

Now, for an actual recipe. (Although it really is almost as simple as the edamame.)  It's light and tasty and the perfect cool dessert in the middle of the summer heat.

What you'll need:
One angel food cake mix, cooked according to package directions
1 20oz can of crushed pineapple, with juice
1 lg container of cool whip
1 small package of vanilla instant pudding

What you'll do:
Tear (or cut) the angel food cake into pieces.
Mix together the pineapple with the dry pudding mix until well blended.
Gently fold in half of the cool whip.
Layer half of the angel food pieces into the bottom of a trifle bowl.
Spoon half of the pineapple mixture into the bowl.
Sprinkle raspberries on top.
Repeat the layers.
Spread some of the regular cool whip on top and add even more raspberries on top.
Chill for at least two hours before serving.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Why I Should Be Critical

It's been so quiet here on the blog lately, hasn't it? Not for lack of words or ideas and stories; I have those in abundance swirling around in my brain. So much so that I am having a hard time keeping them from running into each other and becoming an incoherent mess. As I typed that out it dawned on me that what I need to do is write it down and sort it out. But, like most of us, I find it easier to let it all rattle around in my head without actually committing to one train of thought and following it through to a conclusion. I have greater success in creating my reality, whether correct or not, when I keep all my thoughts jumbled and incomplete.

But that really isn't helpful, is it? Or profitable. I'm reminded of the prayer found in Psalm 19:14 ~ "Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight..." It sounds good to say that I am spending a lot of time thinking about gracious living and what that looks like but if I am not willing to really sort out what that means, and sincerely look at my life through the lens of true Truth and not just my own rambling thoughts, then my words and thoughts probably aren't very acceptable to anyone, much less a holy and just and gracious God who calls me to live a holy and just and gracious life.

I think what I need to cultivate is a critical eye. We shy a way from that word as if  "critical" has become the new "judgmental" and the whole taken-completely-out-of-context "judge not lest you be judged" is applied the same way. The word critical has fallen on hard times in our society but it's helpful, I think, if we push it into the I-do-not-think-that-word-means-what-you-think-it-means spot light.

The definition that we're most familiar is, of course, negative - one of disapproval and judgement. That's not the critical I am speaking of. Unfortunately this is the critical that comes most naturally to us. Our bent, because of sin, is toward the six foot log in my own eye but all I see is the teensy weensy splinter in your eye kind of critical.

But there is another way of interacting with being critical; a way that is healthy and profitable. It's being able to assess the good and bad of something. When I do a family's pictures I practice this kind of critical when I go through their images later and determine which ones I will give them.

It falls more under the realm of critical thinking and our culture is not real big on that. We leave that to the egg heads, the more studious and analytical types. The average person focuses more on how they feel about something rather than any kind of critical (thinking) evaluation of circumstances or things.

Is there a way to be critical that is bad? Of course there is. We are a magical people with a boundless capacity for turning something good into something bad, and equally good at hypnotizing ourselves into believing that it's all good and not bad at all.

One critical is looking for perfection to it's own standard and pounces with a mighty "Aha!" when it sees perceived sin. The name of the game is control and getting things they way we like it.

The other critical is careful judgment; for the purpose of refinement or, if there is sin involved, for the purpose of restoration. Because sometimes it's not sin. Sometimes it is just immaturity and a rightly critical eye will learn to look for and know the difference.

As a parent I want to turn this kind of critical eye on my children. One way that this looks in my life is our Sunday afternoon lunch at church
each week. When we're getting ready to eat, are my girls looking to help with the younger kids as they go through the line? Are my children always first in line? Is Claire taking only the food and amount of said food that she can and will eat? Are they helping in the clean up afterwards?

I want to assess these things not so I can tell my children they are being selfish and rude, but so I can steer them into the better way of being part of the community. I want them to be thoughtful participants within our church family.

I need to  turn that critical eye on myself as well. Am I being a thoughtful and kind member of our church family? What about within my home? One of the biggest ways that I can do this is by being charitable in my thoughts of others. Am I willing to assume the best behind the actions of others? Or am I immediately taking offense at something said or done?

Being rightly critical is a skill long neglected but surely needed in our world. It is a powerful tool that used correctly can strengthen and encourage the body of Christ.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

To Share Or Not To Share

That seems to be the question of the day since an article discussing the topic has been bouncing around facebook for the past week or so. Normally I don't offer rebuttals to things I see or hear on the WWW, but I keep getting asked about this so here's my thoughts, for whatever they're worth.

To be fair, I agree to a certain extent with the author's position that we aren't doing our children any favors by teaching them that they can have something someone else has simply because they want it. But I think this becomes an issue because we're focusing on something that really isn't the point.

The point isn't really whether or not we should be teaching our children to share. The point is are we raising children that value others over themselves?

Are we cultivating a heart that is learning from an early age to eagerly and joyfully seek the well being of others?

Are we training our children to know how and when they should choose someone else's happiness and wants over their own?

I think there is a big difference between teaching them to share for the sake of sharing and teaching them to enjoy what they have but also be willing to let others have a turn enjoying it as well.

One reinforces the idea that my wants are priority, and one teaches the idea that our joy and delight is made fuller when we include others.

Is there ever a time when they don't have to share? Maybe. Probably. I mean just getting the best ever gift for your birthday and having it for all of five seconds before having to let others share in the joy doesn't seem right or all that fun.

So it would seem that wisdom would dictate whether a certain toy should be brought into group settings. Why put the child in a position to choose their stuff over their friends? Their wants and happiness over that of others? Why place other children in a position to covet what another has?

Our personal policy was no sharing no taking. Of course we also taught our kids that if a friend had something and wasn't letting them play with it they needed to find something else to play with. Hardly seems fair unless of course they were playing in a community where everyone was teaching their child the same thing. And sometimes we were in a place full of like minded people and sometimes we weren't. Valuable lessons were learned either way.

Is there a time when you should force your child to bring out the best ever birthday present and share it? Absolutely, you don't want them to be hoarders or miserly.  But we made that happen in situations were there was less risk to the treasured toy being abused or broken.

Is there ever a time when you should teach your child to just be happy that a friend has been blessed with something wonderful? Yes, of course.  There are always going to be times in life where one person has and another has not and we want our children to rejoice sincerely in either of those times.

But these are lessons that aren't learned in a vacuum apart from real life. They happen in community where, hopefully, they learn more than whether they should have to share or not. It's a community that should be teaching them the value of another human being over material stuff. And that the feelings of others should be considered before their own.