Monday, June 26, 2006

What to Do With All That Yellow Squash

Years ago when we lived in Missouri I had a friend who taught me all about gardening. Those were the days when our oldest children were barely school age and we had lots of time to drive back and forth to each other's houses, which was fifty minutes one way. Our whole families enjoyed each other so much and had so much in common, it was not unusual to find us making the trip more than once a week, sometimes just for an evening of playing cards and hanging out. Those were days of forging a life-long friendship. (Our 18yo/19yo daughters just talked on the phone tonight sharing from the depths of their hearts, still!) I have said that I know our friendship is honored in heaven because they always know when they need to pray for us even if we haven't talked in months.
About now you are wondering about the title to this post thinking, "I thought this was about yellow squash?" Well, here's the connection. You can find quite a few items in our food repertoire that directly descend from these friends. Two of these items are standard summer fare at Shadybrook Acres, iced mint tea (from fresh mint leaves) and squash bread.
I just made four loaves of squash bread yesterday and the only reason I still have one left is because I beat them off of it. We grate up our extra squash and put it in freezer bags in 2c. portions so we can make it in the winter also, but it's synonymous with summer around here. It's called 'bread' but it's more like cake. Definitely not low sugar or fat! It's like zucchini bread but sweeter and more moist than any I have ever had.
Beat 3 eggs until frothy.
Then add:
2 c. sugar
2 c. grated squash
1 c. oil
2 tsp. vanilla
Mix and then add:
3 c. flour
1 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. cloves
Mix all together and then pour into two medium loaf pans. Bake for one hour at 325.
Another way I've been using squash is simply sauteing thinly sliced squash, onions, mushrooms (and sometimes peppers) and chicken together and seasoning it with Lawry's poultry seasoning and garlic salt. Then I melt some cheese over the mixture and wrap it all in a whole wheat tortilla. For my own servings, I've been using Pam spray instead of butter, low fat cheese and low carb/low fat tortillas and it ends up being a lot of food for very little calories.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Garden

This salsa did not come from my garden but it was so pretty, I just had to take a picture of it. I bought the ingredients at the local Amish produce stand because I just couldn't wait for my garden to come in. Salsa is one of my staples of life. How else would I get my vegetables in every day? I often get asked for my recipe but I don't have one. When you mix tomotoes, peppers, onions and a little vinegar you just can't go wrong. Sometimes I just use jalapenos and other times I use a variety of peppers. This batch has five different kinds! Yum! I mark each batch with a number on the lid so if we especially like how it turned out, we know which one to reach for first. Also if a batch turns out extra hot, I will go back and mark all of that batch with HOT so we don't end up with three of these opened and in the refrigerator after one of the children has been on a search for mild.
Here's how my garden is coming along. We planted squash, watermelon, green beans, onions, peppers and tomatoes. Pretty simple this year. Salsa is always the most important objective, with canned green beans coming in at a close second.

I love my garden this year because of the wonderful landscape fabric we bought at Sam's. It was the best thirty dollars I have spent on my garden. I now have nice wide rows without weeds! We still mulch between the plans with straw (Can you tell I hate to weed?) and you can see the kids have slopped it around a bit, with a little help with the rain and wind. It my younger years I might have swept it up so in between the rows would be neat but I am much wiser now and I save my energy for other, more important things. Like blogging. :) Heavy mulching is the only way I care to garden because I can do all of the hard work in the spring and then only go out to pick when it gets unbearably hot.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Mice and Mothers

Mom has a Charlotte Mason meeting at our local library every month and I usually beg her to go. Most of the time she says no, but this time, surprisingly, the answer was a once-a-year "OK."
So we got there and set up the tables and chairs. When we finished I went into the library to browse around for a good book till it was time to start. The meeting went well as mom told about her experience at a Charlotte Mason conference in NC. As I was listening I thought I saw something gray fall from the ceiling at the other side of the room I looked up and noticed that a tile of the drop ceiling was out of place, exposing a crack. I thought whatever fell must be my imagination so forgot about it for a while. A few minutes later after my aunt set her baby on the floor to play, one of the women spotted a small mouse on the other side of the room, coincidently right under the crack in the ceiling. Several of the women shrieked and scrambled up onto their chairs, (Mom was among them) my aunt reached for her baby and gallantly volunteered me to catch it. During this time Mom (still on her chair) got a mischievous glint in her eye, she quickly seized her almost full water bottle, screwed the lid on tightly and chucked it over the table straight at the helpless mouse.
I was not a bit surprised at this, having almost sixteen years of experiencing Mom's mischievous attitude toward animals, like flinging glasses of water at dogs that are dumb enough to chase after our car, or expressing wishes that they would run into a tree and so on. What did surprise me was that Mom's water bottle actually hit the mouse... If only a glancing blow. The mouse unhurt dashed across the floor. Among more exclamations of surprise from the mothers Mom bravely ran to the door to outside and opened it calling to me to chase it out. I did this but the mouse seemed determined to frighten Mom as much as it could and instead of going straight out the door it went around it and ran into Mom who squealed again, hopped over it, and quickly ran in slamming the door behind her. After a few sighs of relief the meeting continued and that was my first experience at Mom's library meeting.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Like Mother, Like Daughter

Last night we stayed up late because after an early baseball game some of us decided at the last minute to go see Cars at the theatre. TheLittlestPrincess fell asleep during the movie so I carried her in from the car and put her right in bed. Since we got to bed so late and everyone was so tired I decided to let everyone sleep in, it is summer after all. I was too tired last night to read at all so I just went right to sleep. In the morning I awoke rather late and still there was not a stir in the whole house. I decided to snatch a few moments of reading before I even got out of bed and reached for a book on my nightstand.
About twenty minutes later I hear the sound of an Alcazar recording of some fairy tales coming from TheLittlestPrincess' room next to mine. She had done exactly the same thing. She only hopped out of bed long enough to push the play button and was back snuggled in bed listening to a story.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Girls Handwork/Tea Time

Each week we are going to host a girls handwork/tea time with girls we know from the ages 11-13 at our house. Yesterday was our first day doing it. We were planning on it only being a once a month thing, but all the girls wanted to do it every week so we changed it. Each week one girl will bring a desert they made. We are starting out with cross-stich and maybe next will be embroidery, then in the fall we will do crochet.
Yesterday we had the tea party and chatted for about an hour, then Mom showed us a few basic things to know before we got started on our cross-stiching project. We're starting out with something small and when we're done we'll move on to a bigger project. We were not planning on it, but after cross-stiching I found all five girls something to swim in, so we all jumped in the pool and had a blast. Next time I'm sure everyone will be prepared and bring a bathing suit for afterwards. We didn't get very long to swim though because soon the girl's moms came to pick them up. I'm looking forward to being able to spend more time with friends and have a lot of fun memories.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

God Meant It Unto Good (Gen. 50:20)

"God meant it unto good"--O blest assurance,
Falling like sunshine all across life's way,
Touching with Heaven's gold earth's darkest storm clouds,
Bringing fresh peace and comfort day by day.
'Twas not by chance the hands of faithless brethren
Sold Joseph captive to a foreign land;
Nor was it chance which, after years of suffering,
Brought him before the monarch's throne to stand.
One Eye all-seeing saw the need of thousands,
And planned to meet it through that one lone soul;
And through the weary days of prison bondage
Was working towards the great and glorious goal.
As yet the end was hidden from the captive,
The iron entered even to his soul;
His eye could scan the present path of sorrow,
Not yet his gaze might rest upon the whole.
Faith failed not through those long, dark days of waiting,
His trust in God was recompensed at last,
The moment came when God led forth his servant
To succour many, all his sufferings past.
"It was not you but God, that sent me hither,
"Witnessed triumphant faith in after days;
"God meant it unto good," no "second causes"
Mingled their discord with his song of praise.
"God means it unto good" for thee, beloved,
The God of Joseph is the same today;
His love permits afflictions strange and bitter,
His hand is guiding through the unknown way.
Thy Lord, who sees the end from the beginning,
Hath purposes for thee of love untold.
Then place thy hand in His and follow fearless,
Till thou the riches of His grace behold.
There, when thou standest in the Home of Glory,
And all life's path ties open to thy gaze,
Thine eyes shall see the hand which now thou trustest,
And magnify His love through endless days.
--Freda Hanbury Allen

Sunday, June 11, 2006

I Will Lift My Eyes to the Mountains

This is the way the mountains looked this morning. Psalm 121 really does have a special place in my heart since I have been going up to the top of the hill to pray.

Psalm 121
I will lift my eyes to the mountains;
From whence shall my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun will not smite you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The Lord will protect you from all evil;
He will keep your soul.
The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in
From this time forth and forever.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

What I'm Reading

"The greatest gift is the passion for reading. It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites, it gives you a knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind. It is a moral illumination."
~Elizabeth Hardwick
At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon (my first Mitford novel)
This was cheap as my mother-in-law loaned it to me years ago but mostly it falls into the "distracts" category. Distractions are good at times. Yes, very good.
What is a Family? by Edith Shaeffer
I'm revisiting this after my experience with Ranald Macaulay this past weekend. Wonderful man! I also bought myself another copy of For the Children's Sake by Susan Shaeffer Macaulay because I keep giving my copies away.
At the Pace of A Hen by Josephine Moffett Benton
I picked this up after the DHM at The Common Room quoted from it a while back. My new highlighter has gotten quite a bit of use on this book.
Age of Opportunity by Paul David Tripp
Gleaning from some inspirational thoughts here. Moral illumination maybe.
The next two titles are the books I'm reading to the kids along with our Bible readings from Proverbs and Acts.
King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry
This would fall under the "give knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind." I love reading books set in foreign lands and I want to incorporate more of these into our family read alouds over the next few years. Rooming this past weekend at the CM conference with a gal from South Africa/Zimbabwe reminded me of how narrow our experience really is. We can't go to Africa but we can vicariously experience it through reading.
Edwin Way Teale's Circle of the Seasons
We just read the days entry for the date. Usually this is a short and sweet addition to our morning time. I started this to 'excite' the kids to record their daily nature observations in their nature notebooks. This course of study was also fueled by the CM conference when Timothy Keyes gave his great lecture on Nature Study (more on that later!)

Quotes of Encouragement Through Hard Times

Here are quite a few quotes from Streams in the Desert, a devotional book that has been ministering to me lately. I rediscovered this gem by reading Carmon's blog and decided to click on her link to it. It was exactly what I needed that day and I immediately went downstairs to our library and pulled my copy off of my shelf. I have found much strength in it's pasages since then and many other places too. God is good to meet us with what we need. It seems everywhere I turn, His voice is there.
I must admit when I am reading blogs I often skip over or at least skim the quotes and unless you are going through hard times yourself, you probably will not want to read through this list. But if you are, you may find just the thing you need to get you going on the right track. I also record these things here as a testimony to my children. Someday they may read these words at a time in their lives when they most need them.
There are so many good sections I want to copy here but I've already linked to the online text, and even though it is slightly different from my copy, I must be selective in my choices so this post doesn't get ridiculously long.
"Bring them hither to me" (Matt. 14:18.).
Are you encompassed with needs at this very moment, and almost overwhelmed with difficulties, trials, and emergencies? These are all divinely provided vessels for the Holy Spirit to fill, and if you but rightly understood their meaning, they would become opportunities for receiving new blessings and deliverances which you can get in no other way.
Bring these vessels to God. Hold them steadily before Him in faith and prayer. Keep still, and stop your own restless working until He begins to work. Do nothing that He does not Himself command you to do. Give Him a chance to work, and He will surely do so; and the very trials that threatened to overcome you with discouragement and disaster, will become God's opportunity for the revelation of His grace and glory in your life, as you have never known Him before. "Bring them (all needs) to me." --A. B. Simpson
"I will not let you go unless you bless me...Then he blessed him there (Genesis 32:26, 29)
Jacob won the victory and the blessing here not by wrestling but by clinging...
We too will not win the victory in prayer until we cease our struggling. We must give up our own will and throw our arms around our Father's neck in clinging faith."
"No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had ben redeemed from the earth. (Revelation 14:3)
In the darkest night He is composing your song. In the valley He is tuning your voice. In the storm clouds He is deepening your range. In the rain showers He is sweetening your melody. In the cold He is giving your notes expression. And as you pass at times from hope to fear, He is perfecting the message of your lyrics. Oh dear soul, do not despise your school of sorrow. It is bestowing on you a unique part in the heavenly song."
"I implore you not to give in to despair. It is a dangerous temptation, because our Adversary has refined it to the point that it is quite subtle. Hopelessness constricts and withers the heart, rendering it unable to sense God's blessings and grace. It also causes you to exaggerate the adversities of life and makes your burdens seem too heavy for you to bear. Yet God's plans for you, and His ways of bringing about His plans, are infinitely wise. Madame Guyon
"Everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. (1 John 5:4)
If a person allows it, he can find something at every turn of the road that will rob him of his victory and his peace of mind. Satan is far from retiring from his work of attempting to deceive and destroy God's children....If you will...firmly exhibit your faith at the precise moment, you can sometimes actually snatch victory from the very jaws of defeat. Faith can change any situation, no matter how dark of difficult. Lifting your heart to God in a moment of genuine faith in Him can quickly alter your circumstances. God is still on His throne, and He can turn defeat into victory in a split second, if we will only trust Him."

Friday, June 09, 2006

The Dream Swing (With a Mountain View to Boot)

For years Mr. Potts dreamed of making this telephone pole swing. Finally about a year ago, with the help of neighbors and bucket trucks, he built it on the top of our hill. He's working on plans to motorize it. For now, when one person is pushed around the pole, the other goes flying around and then when the one being pushed is let go, he takes his turn flying too. It's loads of fun.
It's also the special place I go to pray. I sit on a swing and look out at the mountains while I push myself gently around. On clear days you can see the mountains much better than on the hazy day when I took this picture. There's just something inspiring about this spot because others in our household go here for their quiet time too.
Just a little ways over to the left is our place where we have bonfires. I may try to get a picture of the moon coming up over the mountians some evening. It's just a beautiful sight.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Tiny Frogs

Our pool served as a pond all spring. SmokyBear spent every spare minute catching the hundreds of tadpoles swimming it it. It's hard to know if the cleaned-up pool will provide more hours of entertainment than the pond version. I dare say it will be a close contest.
When we emptied it Memorial Day we found some of the tinest little frogs. My camera had a hard time focusing on them but you can see here that one is so tiny it fits on the end of Tom's tiny thumb.