Sunday, November 30, 2008


Lord, I want to walk on water,
To dance through the adversity
You send me for my good.
Yes, to walk in faith on water.

Lord, I want to move mountains,
As I pray for what You will.
To have the grain of faith,
That makes my requests sincere.

Lord, I want to trust You
Like the birds, who have no worries
For their food.
To have faith to rest in Your care.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Projects in the making

Today we went shopping. Yep, we did. We probably wouldn't have if Butte were not a small metropolis where the Black Friday shopping is roughly equivalent if not less than the every day shopping in Salt Lake, where we lived previously. Not too scary. And since we went in the afternoon (my husband would rather sleep and spend a few extra dollars), it was even less scary.

I, of course, hit the Joann's sales! I'm so excited about my new finds that I can hardly keep from starting four new projects tonight. Since that wouldn't be wise, though, I won't. ; )

The browns on the left are going to make a tote bag for a good friend (the chocolate brown that you can hardly see is also going to make me a short-person-friendly baby sling!). Flannel was an incredible price at $1.49 per yard! Since I try to make baby quilts for all of our friends who are having babies, I decided to stock up and buy enough flannel to have on hand for a boy quilt and a girl quilt. I also purchased backing for one that is already sewn. I'm hoping to make my own variation of this clever idea, an expansion of the crayon roll idea, for Little Man with the fire engine print and red solid.

In addition to the fun stuff I pictured here, I got some new green (!) pins, some batting, some backing, and some other little things I needed to complete projects. We also were able to get some new shoes for my husband, socks for my son, and components of little gifty ideas we have up our sleeves. ; )

It was another good day. I am thankful that my husband likes shopping with me and that we were at peace with each other even in all the hullabaloo of shopping and making decisions. I'm also thankful that Little Man behaved very well even though he was tired and teething.

Thanksgiving Day

Yesterday, Thanksgiving Day, was a peaceful, joyful day. (Really, it was. Even the cooking and dishes didn't get out of hand!) I enjoyed it a lot.

In the morning my husband and father went hunting but came home unsuccessful. They decided to go sight in the guns, and they have much better hope of success next time. ; ) My mom came over later in the morning, and we peeled and cut potatoes, prepared vegetables, chickens, gravy, sweet potatoes, and stuffing. We were able to do it in a timely way that eliminated stress. I enjoyed being able to visit and to have a lot of help with the dishes and cooking.

We invited several people from our church over who don't have much family in town, but only one ended up coming. She made delicious crescent rolls and was a lot of fun to visit with after dinner.

After getting up early and then having an especially large lunch, my dad fell fast asleep in the easy chair--while Little Man was playing in his lap! I had to laugh when I saw it, and hurried to grab my camera.

My husband played a few computer games and then fell asleep on the couch to catch up on some much needed rest.

On a whim, I decided to work on these pretty crocheted leaves made of wire. I used finer gauge of wire and a smaller crochet hook, so mine turned out a little more delicate. I have several ideas for them floating around in my head, and I even made a few pairs of earrings out of some of them last night. More on them later, I suspect.

My mom managed to escape unphotographed. We'll have to make sure we get some photos of her next year. ; )

In the evening we went over to some good friends' house for pie and coffee. And football. Watching it, that is, not playing. And video games.

When we came home, my husband and I stayed up way later than we maybe should have just talking and talking. Even though I've been a bit tired today, it was so nice! No regrets.

I am thankful that I was able to avoid being stressed throughout the whole day. It really is a lot better that way!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thankful Pie... quite different from humble pie!

Here is at least part of my thankful list this year.

I'm thankful for:

~God and His love (read previous post for elaboration!)

~My husband. Oh, there are so many different ways that I am full of thankfulness for him! Today I was stressing a bit about getting the house clean and the cooking done, and he wrote this to me: "Remember what's important - love, joy, peace, faithfulness. Clean house didn't make the list, as long as love rules in it. I'd rather come home to a less than perfect house and a happy wife than spend my evening attempting to relieve your over-stressedness from being frantic. And frantic people tend to not get things done anyhow." Now isn't that priceless? My mother-in-law says that it is a verbal bouquet. I agree. ; )

~My son. The challenges and joys he brings me every day, how he reminds me of all the little things in life that are worth enjoying , how he throws himself at me for an impulsive boy hug, how he hold my hand and takes toddling steps, how he giggles at unpredictable times, how he looks at me and gives me his special wide smile.

~My parents. They help us in so many ways: offering a helping hand, a listening ear, a word of wise counsel. I am thankful that we can live near them.

~My in-laws (parents-in-law and siblings-in-law). What fun it is to experience life in a family that has only one first born and five non firstborns (My family is made up of three first borns! And yes, we tend toward perfectionism). They have helped me become more relaxed in many ways. I love making them laugh.

~Especially my sister-in-law who grew up as the only girl with three big brothers and who makes up for it by having fun girly times with me. I love being such good friends with her. ; )

~My many friends. Martha, Janelle, Sarah, Melissa, Kaeley, Cassie, and many more. I am encouraged to see them grow in God and hope they can say the same of me. We share encouragement, girl giggles, and memories.

~My church. Not a perfect "family" but a place where I know there are people who love me.

~My home. Warm. Dry. Beautiful. My tile floor, fireplace, washer and dryer, etc.

~My music. Flute, piano, voice, a way of praising God. My flute student who delights me with her diligence, progress, and friendship.

~My ability to make art from almost anything I touch.

~My peripheral vision.

~An astonishing abundance of nutritious as well as tasty foods. A deep freezer to store the fall's harvest of venison and fruit.

~Books. Cook books, literature, information books, but most of all God's revelation to me: the Bible.

~The ability to communicate though writing. Letters, e-mails, blogging, and friends that I can make and keep in touch with though writing.

~Many, many more people and things should make the list, but I only have so much time and space.

May you have a blessed, peaceful, and joyful Thanksgiving Day. But even more a Thanksgiving Year, filled with joy.


I have been thinking a lot about God's love lately, and I want to make a special post just about my thankfulness for His gracious love.

I am thankful that God loved me enough to sacrifice what was most dear to Him--His Son, Christ Jesus--for my redemption. For my freedom from bondage, for my peace and joy, for my unity with Him.

I am thankful that God loved me enough to be patient with me until I turned in repulsion from my idolatry, disobedience, and hate to Him and His purity.

I am thankful that God loves me enough that He still is patient with me--even when I refuse His help and choose to do wrong--and lovingly teaches me to do what is pleasing to Him, to chose holiness.

I am thankful that God loves me enough that He has surrounded me with more than bountiful blessings, spiritually and physically.

I am thankful that God loves me enough to give me wisdom when I don't know what to do, to give me peace when I worry, to assure me of His nearness when I am lonely, to give me faith when I am faithless, to give me love when it is hard to love.

I want to share my thankful rejoicing in God's love with others. I want the whole world to know the unfathomable hugeness of His greatness, His mercy, His love. I want them to see His love in me. It is a big love. I don't have it in me, but I have God's Holy Spirit in me, and God is love. Lord, help me love like You do.

I pray for love, more and more
That I might have a love like Yours
A love that goes from East to West
A love that has no height or depth.
Michael Watson and Steve Wilson

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ups and Downs

Today has just been one of those up and down kind of days. I know I have gotten stuff done, but I feel so tired and have so much more that I want to get done, that I feel discouraged.

As you can tell by the photo, I swept my kitchen and dining room as well as spot mopped. It really needed to happen. They pile of yuckies that I swept up was impressive. In a negative way. ; )

I also cleaned, cut, ground, and packaged the meat from the deer my husband got last week. I am so thankful for my mom's help packaging and keeping track of Little Man, who is getting super adventurous and exploratory. It was such a good feeling to be able to get it all done and to be able to stow all those tidy packages in the deep freezer for winter use.

We were all set to record this evening when one of my husband's guitar strings broke while he was tuning. So, he had to re-string all six strings (you need to have matching strings), and we have to wait until tomorrow to do guitar since the new strings stretch and go out of tune too quickly.

I was disappointed to not be able to work on recording tonight, but I did make another abstract guitar string sculpture. I think I am going to call this one "bad hair day". It was going to be a treble clef, but as you can see, that didn't work. I don't think it will stay on the light switch, but it amused me to put it there. Anyone want a crazy abstract guitar string "sculpture" to accent their decor? ; )

I am enjoying listening to my husband sing and record with the keyboard since we can't do flute and guitar tonight. He is singing a song he composed, and it is simply beautiful!

I am going to close with the lyrics from it since I am being blessed by them and would like to share.

Where charity and love are, God is there.
Christ's love has gathered us into one.
Let us rejoice and be pleased in Him.
Let us fear, and let us love the living God.
And may we love each other with a sincere heart.

Where charity and love are, God is there.
As we are gathered into one body,
Beware, lest we be divided in mind.
Let evil impulses stop, let controversy cease,
And may Christ our God be in our midst.

Where charity and love are, God is there.
And may we with the saints also,
See Thy face in glory, O Christ our God:
The joy that is immense and good,
Unto the ages through infinite ages. Amen.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Creamy Pasta Sauce

Here is a recipe for creamy pasta sauce that I made up tonight for dinner. My husband liked it, and since he was raised on Italian food (his mom is half Italian), I feel quite complimented.

I usually make cream sauce to serve with grilled, sliced chicken over fettuccine. This recipe makes roughly enough sauce for a pound of pasta.

Creamy pasta sauce:

3 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup water
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
3/4 tsp basil
1/2 cup grated cheese (Tonight I used medium cheddar; feel free to experiment with what you have on hand.)

Mince or grate the garlic and saute it in the oil over low heat (the low heat is really important; it helps keep the sauteed garlic from becoming bitter) until it is golden brown. Whisk in the flour, mix well, and turn up the heat to medium. Quickly add the milk and water. Whisk until smooth. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently with a whisk, until the sauce is beginning to thicken. Add the salt, pepper, basil, and cheese. Continue stirring and cooking until the cheese is melted and the sauce is the consistency of a thin pudding.

Serve over pasta and enjoy!

This recipe has so much potential for variation. What about adding some tangy sun dried tomatoes, replacing the cheddar with a smaller portion of Parmesan or Asiago cheese for a stouter flavor or with pepper jack to have a sauce with a bit of kick, etc. How about leaving out the cheese entirely? Varying the spices? Serving it over macaroni or farfalle? Adding seasonal veggies, lightly steamed? Have fun. If you try something new with it, let me know. I just might like to try it too. ; )

Menu Plan Monday

Well, Thanksgiving week is here! I am excited, but I have so much to do in the next week-and-a-half before our trip that I will become very overwhelmed if I don't focus on getting one day done at a time. Today my goals are grocery shopping and running other errands, spending time with my friend, maybe working on a quilt, doing dishes, and doing some more recording in the evening.

Before I can go shopping, though, I need to make up my menu! Here it is:

Tuesday: Boston brown bread and baked beans (I might use this recipe for the baked beans.)

Wednesday: Sloppy Joes and veggie

Thursday: 2 roasted chickens (me), mashed potatoes (me), gravy (me), dressing (Mum), sweet potatoes (Mum), cranberry sauce (Mum), veggie (?), rolls (guest), pumpkin pie (me)

Friday: Leftover casserole

Saturday: Leftovers or tomato soup

Monday: Rice noodles, satay sauce, and terriyaki chicken

Tuesday: Chili with leftover corn bread

Wednesday: pasta with red sauce

Thursday-Monday: out of town

more menu plan monday

Sunday, November 23, 2008


We are making a short Christmas CD to send out this year instead of a card. We are planning for it to have 5-6 tracks and hope to get it out the first week of December (okay, update: my husband just read this over my shoulder and said, "5-6 tracks!?!? I was thinking three!" Hmmm. I think a communication short has occurred.) We have two tracks done, which is good, but we still have so many more to go (update: maybe only one more to go)! ; )

Today we recorded me playing a flute duet with myself. ; ) Yep, that's right. I recorded and re-recorded, and re-recorded some more. One part on top of the other. It was tough to get the timing right, but it's done now! My ears are so not processing anything anymore.

We moved our recording operation upstairs temporarily since the acoustics are much better in the living room than they are in the basement. I will have a bit of a challenge keeping Little Man out of it, but that's all right. The better sound quality will be worth it.

I am really thankful for my producer-husband who is really patient with my timing glitches and who copies and pastes bits of music into their proper places. ; )

We had so much fun. I can see why some musicians like to record so much. In some ways it is more demanding than live performance (every little mistake is recorded "forever" instead of being a passing glitch). Yet in some ways it is easier because you have so many times to try to get it right, and sometimes you can take the good sections from two different takes and paste them together, omitting the bad.

More tomorrow...I'm going to go get a snack and go to bed!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Fun Stuff

Tehe. ; ) Little Man makes this expression when my camera's green focus-helping light shines in his face in dim light. I probably would be making a similar face if it was me. ; )

Yesterday we spent the evening with some of our good friends here in town. They have a small son the same age as Little Man as well as a tiny baby daughter. We had a delightful and uplifting time with them chatting and making cookies (and I got my baby-holding fix for a little while). ; )

I am so excited because they would like for me to do their Christmas family photos! I know I can do a less expensive job, but I hope that I can do a good enough job that they won't be sacrificing photo quality. This will be my first time doing an official "photo shoot" of non-family members (read: Little Man). I am looking forward to the experience and hope that it doesn't fall though.

Today I am hanging out at home doing embroidery while my husband gets in a few more work hours. I should probably try to streamline my project clutter in the living and dining rooms since I have multiple projects in the works right now. I'm hoping to work on some recording this evening.

Enough for now.

Crazy Quilting!

Well, I am stuck as far as my Celtic fair quilts go. I have batting that is the perfect shape for one of them, and backing for the other. I am going to have to wait until I can purchase them before I can continue on that.

While that is bad news (especially since I have a deadline with them), I also have some good news! I started working again on a back-burner project and am really enjoying it.

My great-grandma was quite a seamstress and had a lot of fun buying fabric, and more fabric, and more get the picture. Well, when she had to stop sewing, she gave me boxes and boxes of fabric and partially finished quilts (and other projects) and quilting books. What riches! One of the things she passed on was a bag of velvets she had planned on making a crazy quilt with.

The only problem is that I am not a crazy quilt sort of quilter. So, I found a pattern that I loved that is called "Mixed Up but Not Crazy". (See some of the squares above?) Being ambitious, I decided that it would be an entirely hand made quilt, but being cautiously ambitions, it is only a small wall hanging quilt. ; ) I am hoping to be able to get some nice ribbons for it in the fair next summer (hopefully no one will enter a magnificent queen-sized hand-sewn quilt this year!) I even have a spot all planned for it to hang, pending my husband's approval.

I have some of the pieces put together, and some that are still in the process. I am doing crazy quilt embroidery on ten of the blocks I got one block all embroidered this morning. I was pleased with my accomplishment, but felt a little low on creative juices, so I googled crazy quilt embroidery. Wow! I am excited, inspired, and a bit overwhelmed. I am so excited that I am going to share links to a few of my favorites.

This one relies heavily on silk ribbon embroidery (oh, how I want to get my fingers into that; it is so beautiful!)

This one is more of a tutorial. I love her creative use of beads, different threads, and tread colors in addition to stitch patterns to make her embroidery come alive.

And this one is perhaps my favorite of all as it uses shades of ivory and white to make a serene and subdued, yet dramatic statement.

Friday, November 21, 2008

life lately

Yes, you are seeing right. A couple of days ago, I made another tote bag. I have discovered that I love making tote bags and can whip them out really quickly. This is another retro-fabric creation (60's upholstery-type fabric) paired with denim. I am an autumn colors person, so the oranges, olive greens, and golden browns go with a lot of my clothes.

Since I have a hard time not adding embellishing touches, this bag has some unique features. There are two pockets: one on the inside and one on the outside. This enhances the practicality of the bag, as well as makes it cuter when it is reversed. I also added a couple of pleats to the handle where I attached it to the bag.

I am thinking about trying to sell some tote bags at our local farmer's market/craft fair next summer or maybe I'll just secure a couple of tables at the plain old craft fairs.

It seems odd to have not blogged for a couple of days. But it's a good thing to not become too dependent on it. ; ) I have been feeling slightly unwell. Mostly just drained and tired and having a hard time getting things done.

Yesterday was laundry day, and I still have piles of folded and unfolded clothes and linens on the couch (and in laundry baskets beside the couch. I am planning on finishing folding and putting away today.

This morning I woke up feeling energetic and was pleased to get the dishes done, but I am feeling drained and tired again already. :-/ I am at peace, though since I know that God will give me strength to do what needs to get done.

Anyhow, enough rambling. I am going to go tackle the laundry piles again. I hope that you all have wonderfully profitable days full of God's blessings.

Coffee Kuchen

As I was making dinner yesterday, I had a sudden craving for coffee kuchen, a lightly sweet, coffee flavored cake with a crumbly topping. Mmmm. It's so yummy that I had to make it and want to share the recipe with you today!

Coffee Kuchen

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
4 teaspoons instant coffee

Cut into the flour mixture until it resembles fine crumbs:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup shortening

Set aside 3/4 cup of the crumbly flour/butter mixture for topping.

Combine is a separate bowl and then add to flour mixture:
1/2 cup milk
1 1/16 teaspoon baking soda (I'm really not sure why it is 1 1/16, but that's what the recipes says!)
1 egg, slightly beaten.

Stir just until ingredients are combined.

Spread into a lightly greased 9x9 inch baking dish. Sprinkle reserved flour/butter mixture over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (it usually seems to take a bit longer than 30 minutes, so just keep an eye on it).

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Another Tote Bag

Well, perhaps this one is more like a quilted purse than a tote bag. I used some scraps from one of my Celtic fair quilts to made this little bag. I sewed two quilt blocks together, and I made the flap, lining, and pocket from some scraps. I finished it off with an antique wooden button.

Considering that it was my first time making a bag with a flap, it turned out well, even though it has a few puckery places.

It is reversible too. Here is the reversed front. This time I used a pearly antique button. Can you tell I like antique buttons? ; )

And the reversed back with its striped pocket. I had planned for the pocket to be on the front, but it didn't turn out that way, and I think I like it better this way after all.

This was another fun little side project. ; )


Today was warm enough to wear short sleeves!

Today we had dinner at my parent's house. ; )

Today I finished the lime green and black quilt for the Celtic fairs. Today I made another bag (picture and post coming soon).

Today we went to the nursing home and cheered many people's week by playing flute and piano duets for them (we try to go every other week). Today my flute tone was satisfyingly good, in both my low and high registers. Today I had fun playing music my husband composed.

Today he went hunting early in the morning and his efforts were paid off by a trophy buck. Today God provided for us to have winter meat with said buck.

Today Little Man and I experimented with the baby sling some more, and after a few nervous moments he relaxed and enjoyed himself. Today I realized again that it was made for someone taller than 5' 2".

Today Little Man has decided to take walking seriously and took 2-5 steps several times!

To use an overused but good word, today was a good day.

12 days of giveaways

I recently found out that Tip Junkie is hosting twelve days of giveaways with two winners per day. Well, today is day seven, but I thought I might join in. From what I read, this site is about sharing tips and encouraging mom-prenuers, which I like.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Quilt tops and gift tags

Here is the almost done quilt top #3. All I have left to do is sew a couple of borders around it and iron it. Oh, and back, bind, and tie or quilt it. But the quit top is almost done. I have made so many mistakes on this one, had to use creativity to piece fabric together to have enough of one color, and rip out quite a few wrong seams. Sigh. I worked really hard on it today and did not feel like I made as much progress as I had hoped.

In the afternoon, I went shopping to find (or try to find) backing for the three quilts. I got one piece of fabric for a very good price but in the limitedness of small town options, I couldn't find anything that coordinated with the other two for anything less than $8.25-$9.00 per yard. Eeeek. I can't spend that much and still get a profit! I am going to have to do the more time consuming kind of binding with them and just use plain white and muslin respectively for their backs. I did get a good deal on batting as well as found a nice Christmas present for my niece. ; )

This evening I felt like I needed a break from quilting, so I got out my calligraphy things and made up some cute gift tags, which I used when I wrapped all the Christmas presents but one (I still have to make it) for this year.

I really love wrapping presents. I like making the paper as smooth as possible and finding the perfect bow or ribbon from my large, recycled collection. But I seldom indulge myself since I also have a large collection of gift bags which are much faster. ; )

I am exhausted, so I am sensibly going to go to bed. Good night.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Another Change

On my cloth diaper post below, Laura commented and asked how my mom made the cloth diapers. Her question prompted me to decide to give my mom the ability to post on my blog. It will make it easier for her to answer questions like that. ; ) I'm working on getting all the settings correct so that she can start writing and contributing here on my blog soon.

I guess this is a "welcome" post. I'm happy to have her join me, and I hope you all will enjoy her posts.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Father and Son and a few random ramblings

I love taking pictures of my husband and son together. These are really back lit (though I'm not going to complain because I love my huge windows that let in the sunshine in), but I wanted to share them.

Here they are reading together. "Look, a bear! The bear says, 'GRRRRRROW'." "Grrrrrrrrr," Little Man echoes fiercely.

My husband's work provides him with a blackberry so that he can be available to receive his phone calls and e-mails anywhere there is cell reception. The blackberry has been an object of interest and desire to Little Man for a long time. Well, recently he/we discovered that our hand-held Yahtzee game is almost the same size and shape as the blackberry, has a screen and buttons like it, and even makes little beeping noises when the buttons are pressed! Voila! Little Man now has his own "blackberry". See them working so intently with their technology? ; )

Little Man has been going through a cuddly stage. I've been enjoying it so much. This morning after I changed his diaper and dressed him, I was sitting on the floor, and he picked up a book and came and sat himself in my lap! He hasn't done that before, but this morning he did it several times. I was so happy.

The cuddliness doesn't work so well while trying to cook, though. My mom has a sling that I am going to try to borrow since I think he can sit on my hip in it, and I can have both hands free. I hope it will work better than the back-pack carrier for this sort of thing. I would like to give it a try though I may go back to the high chair and crayons again. We'll see.

After making a quilting mistake that will take quite a bit of ripping out, I decided to stop for the evening. I am tired enough that I was afraid that I would keep making mistakes. I did finish Mansfield Park, though. It made a whole lot more sense this time, though I enjoyed it the first time too. And now I'm blogging, though I think I might be about done with that for the evening too...

So good night.

Simple is Good

So I had this problem with Little Man's cloth diapers a few laundry loads back. Can you see the discoloration (no, it's not normal diaper discoloration, and I do know what I'm talking about) and all the nasty little worn spots and holes? I was perplexed and distressed. I really like all the cute little blue flannel prints the diapers are made of, and my mom made them, and on top of it all they are really useful. ; ) I ended up having to throw away quite a few. These are the ones I hope to be able to patch and salvage.

I don't think it's caused by the washer or dryer since I've never had any other problems with this sort of thing. All I could think of was that maybe there was some chemical reaction happening. So, I devised an elaborate experiment using scraps of the pale yellow flannel and many combinations of liquid laundry soap, Bio-kleen Bac-out (which I spray on the messy diapers), powdered laundry soap, and baby powder. And guess what. Nothing made any difference. Arg.

I was expressing my discouragement about the lack of results in my experiment to my husband and trying to figure out how to perfect it so I could figure out the problem. He looked at me with a puzzled expression and asked a few questions, the last of which was something like, "What did you do different on the load that they did that?" To which I replied, "I used powdered laundry soap instead of liquid." He replied, "Then just use the liquid soap." Duh mixed with hehe. I have to giggle to myself about my complicated plans when all I needed was a little simple troubleshooting.

I'm really thankful for him. ; )

Do any of you use cloth diapers and have similar experience? I'm curious to know if it's just a weird little thing that happened to me or if I'm not alone. Do you have any expert advice on how to clean them less dangerously to the flannel?

Quilt Top #2 and Sneak Peek at #3

Hooray! Yesterday I finally finished my "Irish Flag" quilt top! I'm so excited to have it done. I love how this one turned out, and I'm hoping that it will sell. Since I've never tried to sell my quilts before, I feel quite apprehensive. But even if they don't, they will make nice gifts for next year. ; )
I've already started on the final quilt top. I think this one is going to be my favorite, and I already know that I will have a bit of a hard time parting with it. Such is the life of an artist...
I was hoping to have all three quilt tops done this week so that I could move on to backing and batting, but I am not sure if I will be able to even though I have the rest of today. We'll see. Even if I don't I should still be able to finish them on time. Well, perhaps I should go do some quilting instead of just typing on about it...

Hearty Stew Meat Barley Soup

This is what we had for dinner last night. I love this savory soup with soft barley and vegetables. And even my husband, who is not wild about barley, doesn't mind it too much. ; ) The bread in the picture was from a loaf of Cracked Pepper Parmesan bread that Great Harvest brought to my husband's work and that he brought home! It was so yummy. I think I'm going to have to try it myself one of these days when the urge to make some kind of exotic bread comes over me.

Anyway, I thought I'd share the soup recipe with you today.

Hearty Stew Meat Barley Soup

1 1/2 pounds stew meat chunks in
1 tablespoon of oil
(or brown the stew meat in a non-stick pan with no oil.)

Meanwhile, put the following into your crock pot:
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
1 cup sliced celery
1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 onion, peeled, with ends cut off
1 half bell pepper, cut into fourths
1 cup water
4 cups of broth
2/3 cup pearl barley
1/2 tablespoon salt (I used salt-free tomatoes and broth, so if you use them with salt, you will want to decrease the amount).
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1 teaspoon basil

Add the meat and cook on high for 4 1/2 to 5 hours. If you put the water and broth in hot, you can shorten the amount of time needed for it to cook.

Fish out the onion, bell pepper pieces, and bay leaf. Serve and enjoy!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Butterscotch Apple Crisp

Can you tell I'm loving butterscotch morsels right now? ; ) This is my latest kitchen adventure. I did an Amelia Bedilia (sp?) on this one...a little of this and a little of that, a pinch of this and a pinch of that...just using what I had in the cabinet. Anyway, here's my newest recipe (I'm excited that I actually remembered what I put in it so that I can write down the recipe!)

Update after eating it (I had to hurry and write it down so I wouldn't forget): it was really sweet. I think next time I will try four apples, a larger baking dish, and adding an extra tablespoon of four to the apples. Maybe I'll add a little more cinnamon to complement the apples too. Nobody really complained, though. ; )

Butterscotch Apple Crisp

1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of salt

Add and rub in until crumbly:
1/4 cup butter
Stir in:
1/3 cup butterscotch morsels
1/4 cup sliced almonds (or any other nut you like, to taste)
Set crumble topping aside and slice two granny smith apples into a bowl.
Add to the apples:
1 tablespoon flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Arrange apples in a small baking dish. Sprinkle crumble topping evenly over the apples. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, until crumble topping is golden and butterscotch morsels look melty (they won't look as melty as chocolate chips, though).

P.S. ARG. I can't get blogger to do the spacing right tonight, so I'm just going to give up and go to bed.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I Love Montana

Here are some photos that I took on our way to Missoula yesterday. I think you will be able to see why I love living in a small Montana town so much even though the nearest Wal-mart and Joann's is an hour away (hey, it helps prevent impulse spending, right?) ; )

I love these rock formations on the way to Butte. Yesterday, they were made even more beautiful by the dark clouds and rainbow. See it? Unfortunately, rainbows always seem to turn out fainter in photos than in real life.

Raindrops on the windshield...When I first moved to Montana, I thought the brown hills were about the ugliest things I had ever seen. Now I have learned to enjoy the beauty of the many shades of browns and blues melded together so seamlessly. (I even used all browns and blues for my blog, so the Montana blues-and-browns must be rubbing off on me!) In the spring, when the brown hills are lush and green, if you are in the right spot it almost looks like pictures you'd see of Ireland, or depending on where you are, of Scotland.

I loved the contrast between the dark clouds up ahead and the blue sky (you can't see too much of the blue, but believe me, it was lovely!) In the larger version of this picture on my computer, you can see a tractor and hay bales.
I must go. Little Man is stirring, and I want to make up for all the time with him that I missed last night and this morning! ; )


Earlier this week my husband discovered that there was a Christian concert in Missoula. Since it is so rare to have good Christian concerts in Montana of all places with tickets for an amazingly reasonable price, we decided to drive the two-and-a-half hours to go. That concert was last night. It was such a blessing. The attitudes of the performers were God-honoring, the music was encouraging, and we had a wonderful time of conversation in the car (since my husband has been working crazy overtime hours this week, we really needed the time to talk).

Little Man stayed with my parents, and since we got home extremely late, he spent the night. It was my first night away from him. I am glad he was good-as-gold, but I wouldn't have minded being missed a little more. ; ) He sure was glad to see me this morning, though, and was sweetly more cuddly than usual. Right now he is sleeping, and since I am taking it a bit easy this morning after my long night, I have some time to share some thoughts inspired by the concert last night.

The first performer sang and accompanied himself with the guitar. It was a beautiful, simple, and uncluttered sound, and his message was encouraging. I am going to share the lyrics to one of the songs he sang. Before he sang it, he shared that this song was written as he was thinking of Christ's love and how we, as Christians should show that love to others. Here are the words:

When shadows turn to faces, and when faces take on names
When names tell us their stories, of their brokenness and pain
When love flows through the cities, through the grid of all the streets
Under bridges in the alleys, like blood though our veins

Love is real
Love will bleed
Love will heal
Love will need

When love is used like money, it turns into our greed
When love is more like water, then everyone will drink
So let it flow though all our cities, and flood them like the sea
Fill the souls that hunger, Lord, give us what we need

Love change the world
Love change the world

You can see it when He walks around
You can feel it when he moves the ground
We're all colored with a crimson stain
Can you see it now, can you see Him now

From the clouds to the world below
From the mountain to the city of gold
Love is coming like an urgent rain
Can you feel it now, can you feel Him now

Michael Watson

I was especially touched by the part where he compares love to money or water. I am afraid that sometimes I do use my love, or perhaps it should be called an appearance of love, for selfish reasons: to get my own way, to look good to others, to "buy" favors and applause. But true love doesn't ask to receive. True love is like giving a cup of water, no strings attached, to quench some one's thirst. True love is loving the unlovely and not demanding any return. That is the kind of love Christ has for me. And because He loved me, I am able to love Him! And my love for Him motivates me to love those He loves.

I am challenged to find ways here in my own home, my home church, my own town, to selflessly love in the way Christ loves me. To lovingly serve my husband and son in a reflection of Christ's selfless service, to truly love those at church who I find especially difficult to get along with, to find ways to reach out in my community in love and to give God the entire glory for it. May God give me strength to persevere, to not be lazy, to always point others to Him!

"Little children,
let us not love with word or with tongue,
but in deed and truth."
I John 3:18

Monday, November 10, 2008

The recipe for waffles!

How to make your waffles:

Whisk together in a large bowl:

1 3/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Whisk together in another bowl:

3 well beaten, large eggs
8 tablespoons of canola oil or melted butter
1 1/2 cups milk
splash of vanilla

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix (the batter will be lumpy). Pour batter onto preheated waffle iron (if you are fortunate, you can look at your waffle iron's instructions, I had to experiment until I got it right since I got my waffle iron from my great grandmother, and I'm sure the instructions were long gone). Cook until your waffle is golden brown (with my waffle iron, it is 3 minutes). Enjoy with butter, jam, fruit butter, or syrup. My husband's favorite is maple syrup, and Little Man's favorite is fruit butter.

How to eat your waffles:

Give mom a half-hearted smile when you notice she whipped out the camera again and is interrupting your tasty breakfast of waffle and pear butter.

Carefully study the waffle to figure it out.

Once you are certain that it looks, smells, and feels like it will be yummy, take the biggest bites you possibly can!

A Cloudy, Cozy Day

I love cloudy days, especially when there is a gentle, warm drizzle. (For your information, warm rain here=somewhere in the 40's Fahrenheit). Perhaps if I lived somewhere were drizzly days were more common, I wouldn't like them as much, but as it is, I love the rare, cloudy and drizzly days we get here.

Today was just such a day, and it was oh, so wonderful. We started the morning by eating waffles (yum!). After breakfast, I did some household chores and made chicken broth. I also started Celtic fair quilt #2. I made excellent progress in the different "quilt sessions" I had time for throughout the day.

Here is a detail of the fabrics I'm using this time. I am calling this quilt my "Irish flag quilt" since it has the green, white, and orange stripes found in the Irish flag, though I have toned down the green and orange. I am really liking the way it is turning out. This is more my color of green...

I was so hoping to be able to take a walk in the rain, but by the time we got out, the rain had stopped. We enjoyed our walk over wet sidewalks in the moist air under a cloudy sky anyway. Thankfully there was not a strong wind blowing or it might not have been as much fun.

We walked downtown where we dropped off my husband's lunch (it is good to live within walking distance of his work). Then we stopped by a little clothing store across the street from his work where I found a cute blue sweater on clearance. I'm planning on wearing it for the big family photo session we will be having with my husband's family when we all get together in December.

Then we went to the Library where we checked out some new and interesting board books for Little Man, who loves to read as well as a couple of books for me.

After we got home, Little Man took a nap, and I drank a cup of tea and started one of my books. I am reading Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. Anyone who knows me for very long will find out that I like literature but am especially a Jane Austen fan. It has been a number of years since I have read Mansfield Park, and I look forward to being able to read it again with a more mature perspective.

My husband had to work late tonight (he got home after 9:00). I missed him a lot and am enjoying having him home again. ; ) This week is going to have a lot of late nights since his company is in the process of moving from two buildings into one, and he has to be there to move and set up the computers. Sigh. There is a reason overtime pay is better than normal hours pay. I am foreseeing long evenings of quilting and blogging...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

I am going to start doing Menus every two weeks (last week was my catch up week) since I get my grocery money every other week.

Menu for Monday, November 10-Monday, November 24

Monday: Salad, rolls (double batch, freeze the extra) and chicken noodle soup. The menu plan got off last week, so I'm making the soup with week. I'll make chicken broth from the roasted chicken bones, use some for the soup, and freeze the rest for future use.

Tuesday: Meat Loaf, mashed potatoes, and spaghetti squash

Wednesday: Shepherd's pie made with leftover mashed potatoes

Thursday: Beef and barley stew (made in the crock pot)

Friday: Sweet and sour chicken (use frozen chicken broth) with rice

Saturday: Leftovers or sandwiches

Sunday: Crock pot venison roast

Monday: Pasta, ground venison tomato sauce, and broccoli

Tuesday: Venison steaks, mashed potatoes, thawed rolls, veggie

Wednesday: Meat balls (double batch, freeze the extras once they are cooked), mashed potatoes (left over from Tuesday), tomato soup

Thursday: White bean minestrone soup (crock pot)

Friday: Chicken Risotto

Saturday: Leftovers

Sunday: Mashed potatoes, the rest will be provided at our church's Thanksgiving dinner.

Monday: Pasta with cream sauce, some kind of grilled meat, and a veggie

More Menu Plan Monday

I'd Rather Have Jesus

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands;
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand.
Than to be the king of a vast domain,
Or be held in sin’s dread sway;
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause;
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause;
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame;
I’d rather be true to His holy name.
Than to be the king of a vast domain,
Or be held in sin’s dread sway;
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom;
He’s sweeter than honey from out the comb;
He’s all that my hungering spirit needs;
I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead.
Than to be the king of a vast domain,
Or be held in sin’s dread sway;
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.
Rhea F. Miller

A Change

When I first started blogging, I didn't realize how many Godly, encouraging mom and/or wife bloggers there were out there. I enthusiastically started publicly following any that I came across that I even remotely identified with. ; ) Then, once I realized how many of us are around, I narrowed my following list to blogs I especially liked. Now it's time to make another change.

As the number of blogs I like has grown, I've decided to only follow anonymously. Even if you are my friends, it's a big thing to publicly say, "Yes, I endorse this person, I am their follower." I really like Blogger's following options, and I love being updated when you post new notes, recipes, thoughts, etc. It's just that in re-evaluating, I would rather do it anonymously.

So, if I have disappeared from your list of followers, don't worry. I'm still there. I'll still be reading and commenting. And I'll still enjoying your blogs.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to blog. To pray for others, to encourage others, to be encouraged, to have a network of friends who are in one way or another waking down the same path I am. I feel like God has a ministry for me to fill though blogging. I just want to be careful about my choices, and for now, at least, I think the best choice is to follow anonymously.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Pumpkin Butterscotch Cookies

I have enjoyed making these easy, cakey pumpkin cookies almost every autumn since receiving the recipe. Oh, they are good! Yesterday I decided on a whim to good up one my my pie pumpkins since the oven was going to be on for a while roasting the chicken for our dinner. Earlier that afternoon, I had been nibbling on some butterscotch chips that is was supposed to be saving for another desert. But it didn't matter that I was nibbling because there were plenty left for my other recipe.

Suddenly I had a crazy idea. What if I replaced the chocolate chips in my recipe with butterscotch chips? The more I thought about it the more I liked the thought. I tried it, and it worked! Even my husband (who as I just discovered this fall, doesn't like pumpkin) likes the cookies.

It's a good thing those butterscotch chips are on sale this week; I'm going to need more for my other desert...

Anyway, here's the recipe:

Pumpkin Butterscotch Cookies

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup pureed pumpkin

Add and mix until well combined:
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 cup butterscotch chips (or chocolate chips if you prefer).

Drop by rounded spoonfuls on a cookie sheet, and bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes. Be careful not to under cook them (like I did one of my cookie sheets full last night), unless, of course, you like doughy food; however, they're not as good that way, in our opinions.

Quilt Top's Done!

Today I finished the quilt top I started earlier this week. I still need to back it and either tie or quilt it. I leaning toward tying it with buttons, which is a cute and more stylish alternative to traditional tying, in my opinion. Button tying is also faster than quilting it if you don't have a quilting machine. Maybe I'll do some more experimenting with the special quilting foot for my machine and see if I have better success than I did last time.

At this point in the quilting process, I tend to feel really down about it. The colors, the layout, how the entire finished product will look. I'm wondering if anyone will want to buy it, discouraged that it looks much more oriental than Irish, and feeling like I don't ever want to see lime green again (yes, it really is lime green even though this picture looks yellow again; I think the combination of my light and my camera's flash isn't flattering to it).

But, I've learned from previous quilting experiences, when I work on it next time, I will probably have forgotten my "blues" since my ailment is only having looked at it too much today. On the brighter side, I do like how the "pin wheels" turned out, I caught my little mistake in the pattern and corrected it before I was tying it, my corners matched up like never before, and my husband looked up from what he was doing on the computer and proclaimed it to be "cute!". So maybe my quilting world isn't as bleak as I might have thought... ; )

Here is another facet of the bright side. Little Man sat in my lap and watched and played with my pin cushion for a row and a half at once (the long rows). Then he helped again for another half row until he started raining pins down on the floor. ; ) I love doing things with him. Holding him in my lap while I sewed reminded me of when my mom used to hold me while she sewed. Watching the zig-zag stitch was my favorite. I wonder what Little Man will remember when he's a "grown-up"?
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If a baker's dozen is thirteen, can Christina's seven be eight?

Yesterday Kate posted a show and tell post about seven of her favorite things in her kitchen. I enjoyed reading it and looking at her pictures. (By the way, I love Kate's blog, I have learned more organization and cooking tips in the last month than...than...well, I can't think of a good analogy, so you'll just have to trust me that I have learned a lot from her posts! If you haven't seen her blog yet, you should check it out).

Anyway, after reading Kate's post I was so excited to see that one of the people she tagged was me! See, I love to cook, spend a lot of time in my kitchen and have a lot to love about it. In fact, I have so much I enjoy about it that I just "had" to post eight things. ; )

First off, I'm going to show you my three kitchen windows and their curtains. I love my unique curtains, and I love how bright all the windows make my kitchen. Someday I hope to have cabinets underneath the window pictured above since my kitchen is rather short on storage and counter space.

This window is above my sink. It actually looks into our car port, but I can see up the street if I turn my head a little bit. Earlier this fall, I posted a picture of the golden tree I could see from it.

Next, I'm sharing a picture of my stove. I spend a lot of quality time concocting tasty things with my stove. It is a gas stove with a convection oven. We decided to prioritize getting a good stove over replacing cabinets. I'm afraid that my husband spoils me not a little, but he does benefit from it too. ; ) It is such a step up for the beast of a stove I had to deal with in our apartment.

And, of course, who could pass up a picture of their trusty Kitchen Aid? We put this on our wedding registry not really expecting to receive it, but we did! I often thankful for that generous gift.

No, this picture wasn't an accident. I love my beautiful tile floor. In our apartment, the kitchen flooring was a faded, blue, floral, apparently 50's era carpet that was a pain to clean. You can imagine my delight over our tile floors. (And just in case you think our apartment was a dump, let me tell you that we were paying $325/month for a 1,000 square foot apartment that was old, yet cozy and full of nice little nooks, built in book shelves, etc. Oh, and it had a claw foot tub!)

I love my collection of stoneware, and hardly a day goes by that I don't use at least one of them. Once again, most of these were wedding gifts. The outpouring of love, good wishes, and gifts was truly overwhelming!

These are my tool drawers. The one on the left is the "things that cut" drawer, and the one on the right is the "anything that doesn't belong in the things-that-cut drawer or the utensil canisters by the stove" drawer. ; ) I love using my wonderful variety tools and come to these drawers often.

Oh wow, I just realized that I'm wearing mis-matched socks. Oooops! ; )

This is my cook book shelf. I love cook books. I find them at thrift stores and receive them as gifts. So far my absolute favorites are the Joy of cooking (I have two editions) and my Bread and Bread Machines book. The shelf used to have more home-decor type things on the middle and lower shelves, but since Little Man has become mobile, I decided that a safer option would be to store my non-breakable tea collection there. I was excited to be given a nice variety of loose leaf, exotic teas and have enjoyed trying new flavors.a Do you see my fish Siggy on the top shelf? He is happy to finally have clean water again. ; )

This is my eighth favorite. It is a stained glass apple that hangs on the end of one of my cabinets. I received it as a gift for, I think, my third birthday. It has survived multiple cross-country moves as well as a couple of international moves, and I love to have it hanging in my kitchen now.

And now, it's my turn to tag some of you. I hope that at least a couple of you are able to share too. ; ) Though I don't have seven, here goes (oh, and if anyone wants to do it that I missed, please do, I'd like to see your kitchens too):

1. Laura
2. Kathy
3. Shaina
4. Kristena
5. K of Raise Them Up