Tuesday, February 24, 2015

snow pictures

I won't deny being a bit tired of snow and cold. 

But...It's so gorgeous. I stepped out on our deck for a few minutes. It's still and quiet and so peaceful and blanketed in pure white. The snow clinging to the evergreens makes it look like a picture on a postcard. I really wish I could do it justice, but these photos don't begin to capture it. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

winter wonderland

It started snowing yesterday, and this morning we had a gorgeous white blanket outside. The girls have been hoping for snow all winter, so they were over the moon with excitement that it was finally here. Sarah started building a snow fort and making snow angels. I dug their sled out of the shed.

As I type this, Sarah is still outside sledding. Natalie is inside, changing out of her wet clothers. Turns out she likes the idea of snow far more than the reality of snow.

I remember noticing when she was just an infant that Natalie got cold easily. Even now, she likes lots and lots of blankets piled on her bed at night. The problem she has with snow? It's cold. Within just a few minutes, she wasn't just complaining of the chill but sobbing hysterically. "The cold! It hurts!" 

So now she's in dry clothes and sipping warm milk. I don't think she'll do much more than look out the window at the snow from here on out. Bummer. (Although that's my favorite way to enjoy the snow!) 

But it is awfully pretty just looking at it. Here are some photos taken from out deck. 

You can sort of see Sarah preparing to sled down the hill in this one. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

post-holiday reflections

I actually wrote this following Christmas 2013, not 2014. But it never got posted. Perhaps writing it helped, because my perspective was much better this year--and so was my children's!

Each year, I go into the Christmas season thinking this will be the year.  This will be the year of the perfect holiday experience.  I'll procure thoughtful yet inexpensive gifts for everyone on my list.  We'll bake cookies and make ornaments and actually finish our Advent study.  Also, my children will not fight with each other, will not be selfish and greedy, will not be consumed with the stuff they're getting rather than the joy of giving and serving.  It will be peace on earth and goodwill toward men--a holy season of worship and wonder.

Somehow it never happens.  

I plan it every year.  I download the Advent studies.  I make the to-do lists and the shopping lists and the budget outline.  And it still falls apart.  

We made a few ornaments this year but no cookies.  My Christmas shopping all took place the weekend before the day itself and was rather uninspired.  We spent all of Advent being behind on our study, and we never did finish the whole thing.  My daughters longed for nearly every item they saw advertised--and a few other things to boot.  I lost my temper a few times, and we never quite achieved holiness or peace or even a whole lot of goodwill.

I am a failure at the whole perfect Christmas thing.  

However, I'm coming to see that failure as the most perfect Christmas celebration of all.  

For Christians, this holiday is the remembrance of God himself taking on human flesh and coming to this world as a baby.  Did he come to perfect people or perfect circumstances?  No.  His native country was under foreign control.  His parents were in a strange town and had no place to stay.  A manger subbed as his baby bed.  

And why did he come in the first place?  Was it because we were all such decent folk?  Such a joy to be around?  No.  He came to save us from our sins.  He came to keep the law we could not keep and to be the perfection we could never attain.  

Each time I flop and fail and scramble, I am reminded I am not perfect.  I will never be perfect.  But there is One who is perfect on my behalf.  He bestows on me his righteousness (now there's a perfect Christmas gift).  And he meets me in all of my shortcomings because this is the very reason he came.  

So take heart if your own Christmas was less than perfect.  Let it remind you that it doesn't have to  be--and even more importantly, you don't have to be.  Even today, the Christ Child comes to dirty feeding troughs and cluttered homes and harried people.  When we don't quite get it all right, we can rejoice because he did.  

And in that, I find peace.  Maybe not peace on earth, but peace within my own weary heart.  

And a heart filled with peace can give goodwill toward men in the year to come.  

Monday, November 24, 2014

the eyes have it

Natalie is in kindergarten this year. We've been working on learning to read. It hasn't been going overly well. But I did finally realize that at least part of the problem was that she couldn't quite see those letters on the page. When I would ask her about a particular sound, she'd say some random thing. "No, look at the page," I'd encourage her. And suddenly she'd have the book practically up to her nose to see just what that letter on the page actually was.

So Nelson took her to the eye doctor. Sure enough, the poor kid has quite the astigmatism.

She comes by it honestly. Every time I go to an eye doctor, I have to sit through hearing about just how unusually strong my astigmatism is. Doctors tend to go on and on about it. Apparently Natalie's is about as bad.

Genetics can really stink sometimes.

Making glasses astigmatism that strong means a long wait. But today we were finally able to pick them up. She's extremely excited about them. She's also excited about being able to see the computer and the letters in books more clearly. I'm pretty excited about that too.

Natalie in her new glasses

Sunday, November 9, 2014

blueberry biscuits

 I need to go grocery shopping. I won't give you the whole list of what I need, but I will say I've run out of eggs. 

This makes breakfast difficult. Most of our favorites require at least one egg. 

Thankfully, these blueberry biscuits do not. 

I'll never be a food photographer, will I? 
I guess I depend on berries a lot for breakfast. Strawberry soup. Blueberry pancakes, muffins, biscuits, or scones. Berries of all sorts thrown into smoothies. We like berries. We liked these biscuits too.

The recipe:
2 cups flour (I think I used about 1/2 cup all-purpose, and 1.5 cups white wheat)
2 tsp. baking powder
maybe 1/2 tsp salt (I didn't measure very well)
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter 
1 cup milk (I used vanilla almond milk)
3/4 cup frozen blueberries (I may have used slightly more)

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Cut butter into the flour using a pastry blender (or two forks. Or a food processor). Once the mixture resembles those course crumbles you need for biscuits, toss in the blueberries and mix in the milk. You want a soft dough that pulls away from the side of the bowl.

If you roll and cut biscuits, do that. Roll out on floured surface to about 1/2 inch thickness and cut with a biscuit cutter. I do drop biscuits instead. Drop by spoonfuls on a greased baking sheet.

Bake at 450 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

The recipe said the yield was 10 biscuits, but I got 12.

P.S. I started writing this post on Friday. Thankfully, I've been to the grocery store since then. Pickings were getting quite slim.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

strawberry soup

Soup for breakfast? Yes, please!

This is ridiculously easy. And pretty. And yummy. If you make it the night before, it can chill in the fridge overnight. I'll confess that I didn't do that. I just made it up in the morning. 

2.5-3 cups strawberries (I didn't measure. If you're making it the morning of, frozen berries work best.)
2 cups vanilla almond milk (or regular milk)
1 cup strawberry-flavored kefir (or cream)
0.5 cups vanilla-flavored yogurt (or plain yogurt)

If you have an immersion blender, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and blend. If you don't have a stick blender, you can use a regular blender. You may have to work in batches though. 


Monday, October 20, 2014

bacon cheeseburger pasta

I'm not a gourmet chef. I'm a schlep-it-all-in-the-pan and get-the-food-on-the-table sort of cook.

I'm certainly not a food photographer.

And I don't Pinterest.

But I know a lot of people do Pinterest. And I know a recipe needs a picture before it can be pinned.

So...voila! Bacon cheeseburger pasta!

I'd already stowed the leftovers in the fridge before I remembered to take a pic--see slightly "frosty" look the container has?

This is an easy recipe, and everyone ate it (yay!). I saw the original recipe in a magazine years ago, but I've long since lost it. I just recreated it tonight.

Bacon Cheeseburger Pasta
1 lb. ground beef
4 slices bacon
1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
8 oz. spaghetti, cooked
1 cup shredded cheddar (or whatever cheese you like) seasonings (more on that in a minute)

Brown ground beef in a skillet. Drain. Cook bacon until crisp, drain off grease, and crumble into beef. Season however you like your hamburgers seasoned. Tonight I used salt, pepper, garlic, onion powder, cumin, and a chipotle barbecue spice rub I have. But use what you have and like. Add tomato sauce and spaghetti noodles. Allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add cheese and allow to melt.

That's it. Pretty simple.

(I would have LOVED to add sauteed mushrooms to this. My family would kill me for that. But if yours won't, give it a whirl--and send me some! I'm sure sauteed onions would be great too--but don't send me that.)