Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Reformation Day

Martin Luther in his younger years
He would later post his 95 theses on the Wittenberg Church door (in 1517)

After many soul-searching, agonizing, and tortuous years, Martin Luther came to understand Romans 1:17 "For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith, to faith: as it is written: 'The just shall live by faith.'"

Justice is not about earning God's favor, but receiving God's mercy which He purchased through the atoning death of Christ on the cross. Christ, the perfect lamb of God, became our substitute, taking our sin, bearing the punishment we deserved, and giving us His righteousness.

Luther wrote,

“I felt that I had been born anew and that the gates of heaven had been opened.  The whole of scripture gained a new meaning.  And from that point on the phrase ‘the justice of God’ no longer filled me with hatred, but rather became unspeakably sweet by virtue of a great love.”

 Martin Luther, stifling a grin

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Paul Bunyan Carrots

It's a little late in the season, isn't it, but we just dug our potatoes and carrots today. We've had rain for several days, it seems, but today it's bright and sunny and the perfect day to get that job done. Also, a good idea to get them out of the ground before they're covered in a foot of snow.

My husband dug with the fork to loosen the soil and I pulled them out by the tops. We just laughed at how huge they are. I just realized that I should have placed some well-recognized object next to the carrots so you could get some perspective as to the size of these monsters.

I think the carrot on the left is about 10 inches long and 2 1/2 inches around at the top. The carrots in the photo above could feed a family of four for a week!

Right now, the remaining carrots are lying out on the garden carpet so the sun can burn the little carrot eyes so they don't start to grow roots after we've got them stored in sand. After last year's hairy carrots, I decided I should read up on what to do before storing them in sand.

The carrots pictured above are the variety Danver's Half-Long. My husband commented, 'Wow, can you imagine what the full-length ones are like??!  :-)

I think that's the last of the gardening for this year. Now we just hunker down and wait for the Big Snow.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Ripon Cathedral, Yorkshire

 Ripon Cathedral, one of England's first stone churches

Just 20 miles southeast of Leyburn in the Yorkshire Dales lies the city of Ripon.  Ripon Cathedral was begun in 660 AD by St. Wilfrid, the son of an Anglo Saxon noble. After living in a Celtic monastery at Lindisfarne, Wilfrid, at age 18, made the trip to Rome (still can't get over how these people managed to travel in those days!). The next three years there changed his life and he made the decision to become a monk.

Back in Northumbria, Wilfrid made such an impression on the Northumbrian king, that Roman customs were imposed throughout the Northumbrian church and Wilfrid was appointed Bishop of York at age 30.

Passageway to the Crypt, built in 672 by Wilfrid, who tried to replicate what he thought Christ's tomb would have looked like. He kept relics there for pilgrims to see, a place where they could pray and worship.

The Crypt

Beautiful wood structure surrounds the clerestory windows

Pipe Organ
We sat in on the noon prayers. We were among the five people present in this huge building. All the saints' statues were shrouded since it was the Lenten season.

Below the pipe organ, the wood hand, a mechanical choir director

A sign in the quire read '15th century misericords. Please do not touch.' The misericords are a little ledge on the bottom of the chair where, when the chair is folded up, still provide a slight ledge upon which the monks might rest during long periods of standing. This carving, above, represents a griffin chasing a rabbit down a rabbit hole. When Charles Dodgson aka Lewis Carroll was 20 years old, his father was Canon at Ripon Cathedral. It is thought that the carving (above) may have been inspiration for Alice in Wonderland.

Rood Screen, Dividing Quire from the Nave - right side of archway

Rood Screen - left side of archway

Stained glass - Melchizadek and Moses

 Street in Ripon, looking toward the Cathedral

I loved the colorful flowers and buildings in Ripon

There's so much to see, so much history to learn, in England. And the connections! Lewis Carroll, an Anglican clergyman and mathematician, teaching for many years at Christ Church, Oxford. And it was George MacDonald's children's response to Carroll's tales that inspired him to get his work published? Isn't this stuff just so fascinating!!

When I was relating this to my husband, who views the world through a slightly different lens than I do, he responded,'Well, it IS a rather small island, you know.'  

Author, Second Chance - A Tale of Two Puppies
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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Vending Machine God

The other day, my brother and I were talking about prayer. He mentioned that some people see God merely as a Vending Machine. And sometimes ask my brother to pray only because they think he has better luck with The Vending Machine. Isn't that so true! I'm pretty sure that when I was a kid I thought of prayer mostly as a means for getting things I wanted or not getting things I didn't want, like a spanking. And no, it didn't work.

I asked God to pleeeease make Mom and Dad give me the ice skates I wanted for Christmas, to make me get a good grade on a test for which I'd not studied one iota, to make the sun stand still so I wouldn't have to get on the bus yet, to make other kids not mad at me, to perform a miracle of 'healing' when I'd broken a plate that was special to Mom, to make my brothers get what they had coming to them, etc.

And as we become adults, we tend to continue to treat God as a vending machine. We ask God for a good job, for good health, for good kids, for good money, a good home, good friends, etc.

Jesus, however, obviously didn't view God as a vending machine, and we have been told by Jesus to pray as He did,  

Our Father,  who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

I don't know about you, but it takes a lot of effort and self restraint to pray selflessly like that, spending time in worship first, seeking God's will, rather than jumping right in with the wish list. Jesus said that we have not because we ask not, or that we ask with wrong motives, so that we can heap it upon our selfish selves.

But what if we're not praying selfishly? What if we're praying about really important things. What if we're praying about something like cancer, and still God doesn't give us what we want? I've thought about that and two people come to my mind. Paul and Jesus. Paul had some 'thorn' in his flesh that God chose not to take from him. I don't know what it was and I don't know why God didn't take it from him. I doubt it was because Paul didn't have enough faith or that he didn't phone enough people on the prayer chain.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus begged God, 'If it be possible, let this cup pass from me,' referring to his imminent death on the Cross, where he took all our sin upon himself, was separated from God,  and suffered the the full wrath of God for our sins. You'd think that Jesus of all people, God's perfect Son, would have enough pull to get what He wanted, but God said no. Jesus submitted himself to the Father's will, 'Yet not as I will, but as You will.' Jesus was obedient, even to death on a cross.

So first of all, I need to remember that my desires need to be in alignment with the way Jesus prayed. Am I really praying for God's will to be done, or am I simply hoping the Vending Machine God will cough out my will in return for my sincere five minutes worth of prayer.

And then, sometimes when I am praying in God's will and lay my requests before Him, I need to remember that He may say 'No.' Will I respond the way Jesus did and say, 'Yet not as I will, but as You will.' ? Or, will I angrily shout, 'How could a loving God...!!'

Please remind me of this when I get to a place in my life where you see me forgetting what I know to be true and right. We are here to help one another. I will need your help at that time. I will need you to remind me of who God is and who I am. I will need you to pray for me and help me get back on the right path, to submit my will to God's will.

Note to Steve in case he's reading: This post was written on Friday, October 22, FYI   :-)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pepper Steak With Rice

This is one dinner that makes my husband feel that he's had a real meal. :-) It's delicious, filling, and I always make enough to ensure that we have leftovers for the next day.

I start with 1 1/2 pounds of beef sirloin steak, cut in slender slices about an inch long. Sprinkle the steak with about 1 T. of paprika and 1 clove of garlic, minced. Let that sit while sauteing the vegetables.

2 red bell peppers (I used Carmens from our garden) sliced, 3 ribs of celery sliced, and a medium onion chopt. In a large skillet, over medium high heat, saute veggies in olive oil. I like to use two silicone pancake turners for this job. THEN, remove the veggies to a plate and set aside.

Heat 2 T. olive oil in the skillet and saute the beef with paprika and garlic. The sirloin can still be a tad pinkish when you add the veggies back into the skillet with the beef. Now, stir in the sauce:

1/2 c. beef broth (I use Kitchen Basics)
1/4 c. burgandy
1 1/2 T. corn starch
1 t. honey

Heat over low til sauce is thick and glistening.

Just before serving, stir in 4-6 diced Roma tomatoes. (I've found that I can substitute my home canned tomatoes after draining the water from the jar of tomatoes.) Heat thoroughly.

Use sea salt, pepper, and cayenne for seasoning. Soy sauce is optional. I don't add it to the recipe, but set the bottle on the table. My husband likes it, but it gives me a headache.

Spoon meat and veggie mix over hot Basmati rice. Serve your happy family. Resist the temptation to eat all of it - so that you can have leftovers tomorrow. :-)

This post is linked to Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays
and Tasty Tuesdays
and Tasty Tuesday Parade of Foods
and Tuesdays at the Table
and Tuesday Tag-Along

Monday, October 25, 2010

Used and Rare Books

Above is a photo of one of the sets of bookshelves in our living room. It holds a small fraction of the total number of books in our home. Besides the living room, they reside in the schoolroom, our bedroom, the hallway, the basement, and a few in The Yorkshire Room and The Charleston Peach Room (named after a county in England and a paint chip, respectively.)

During our 21 years of homeschooling, I always had the books organized according to subject. It was great to be able to know exactly where to go to look for a certain title. Once we decided to turn the schoolroom into an office at one end and a TV room at the other, many of the books had to be evicted. I quickly found new homes for them, but I still always picture them in their former locations. That makes it a real challenge to find a missing book!

Now they are only slightly organized, the Civil War books being in our bedroom (I just realized how funny that actually is, for my husband and I have had no battles for a very very long time!); theology books mostly at the stove end of the living room, although some are also upstairs at the end of the hall; old school readers mostly in the office; historical fiction and biography mostly in the TV room; cook books in the pantry; picture books under the window seat; reference books in the office; a couple Grosset & Dunlap collections in the TV room; various and sundry books scattered here and there, though slightly organized e.g. James Herriot books are together, P.G.Wodehouse books are together, etc.

Most of our books have come from used book stores, garage sales, library sales, and Amazon new-and-used. When I'm browsing  a used book store (one of my favorite pastimes), I can't walk past a book whose spine is unreadable without picking it up to read the front cover or inside title page. I figure that a worn out book must be an often-read book, so it's worth picking up.

Many of the books pictured above are old British history textbooks, children's science books, or tales of heroes.

How about you? Do you also love used books? Can you get lost for hours among the stacks of a used book store? Do you brave the dust to get at the really good finds? Do you find yourself trying to read the titles of books in photos? like mine??  :-)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Home from The Great College Tour

 Catchin' a little shut-eye

Last week I posted The Great College Tour 2010, in which I wrote about the first stop on our tour, Grove City College in Grove City, PA. We spent the following day in Harper's Ferry, WV, and then drove to Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, VA. Soren, Gpa and Gma found acorns to gather while Anna and Dad took the tour of the college.

It's amazing how long a 3 year old can be entertained with a styrofoam coffee cup and a good crop of acorns. After putting a few hundred acorns in a pile at the base of the tree, Soren was a little disappointed that the squirrels weren't coming to eat them.

The next day, we traveled through gorgeous Virginia to get to Liberty University in Lynchburg. General Longstreet's in-laws were from Lynchburg, just in case anyone wanted to know.  I talked to one of our daughters by phone while traveling through the mountains of Virginia and told her that Virginia's slogan shouldn't be 'Virginia is for lovers,' but 'Virginia is for Photographers.' She said it lacked a ring to it. Besides, Virginia doesn't have any place to pull off the road to actually take a photo on those mountain views, so you just have to take my word for it.

At the next motel. First things first. Anna and I plugged in our computers while Gpa checked the room for bed bugs and Dad checked for dead bodies under the beds. Probably not too likely to find one, but one can never be too careful. :-)

Liberty University bookstore and coffee shop, a prerequisite, in my book, no pun intended.

Heading south, through the mountains of Virginia, this photo was taken through the windshield. I discovered that it's more fun to travel and look up at the mountains on either side than it is to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway and look over the tops of the trees.

Anna and her dad at BJU, Greenville, South Carolina.

I think Anna said that she wanted proof that she'd worn a skirt. :-)

The mature landscaping at BJU is so beautiful. It's a lovely campus. Kevin and I visited the library with its Jerusalem Chamber while Anna took the college tour.

The Littlest Traveler, pulling his suitcase through the halls of the motel (which I will never ever stay in again!)  And just for Soren, I'm posting here the pic of 'The Ghost Train,' as he called it, from Harper's Ferry, which I neglected to include in my Harper's Ferry blog post.

Anna came home with impressions of four colleges to ponder, and Soren came home with the story of John Brown ('He's at Hoppa Fehwee but he's dead. I kiwd him.') firmly entrenched in his mind along with Georgie Porgie, Little Boy Blue, and She'll be Comin' Roun' the Mountain When She Comes - Yee-Haw!

I wish you could have heard his daddy's rendition of The Three Little Pigs. I tried to talk him into video-recording it for YouTube with his little sons helping him. It was hilarious!

It was a great week! We will have very fond memories of the Great College Tour of 2010  :-)

This post is linked to Friendly Friday Follow
and Friendly Friday
and Home and Family Friday
and I'm Lovin' it Friday

Thursday, October 21, 2010

When the Frost is on the Punkin

Since we're all in a punkin mood this time of year, I decided to post one of my favorite childhood poems. (And also because two people commented on the 'shocks' in last Friday's blog post.) The last pic is of some corn shocks made by the Amish in our neighborhood.

The art work posted here accompanies the poem in Volume 2 of the 1949 edition of Childcraft, published by Field Enterprises, Chicago.

If you read this to your kids or grandkids, be sure to encourage them to chime in on the last line of each stanza. :-) They'll love it!

When the Frost is on the Punkin

WHEN the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock,
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin' turkey-cock,
And the clackin' of the guineys, and the cluckin' of the hens,
And the rooster's hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;
O, it's then the time a feller is a-feelin' at his best,
With the risin' sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

They's something kindo' harty-like about the atmusfere
When the heat of summer's over and the coolin' fall is here—
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossoms on the trees,
And the mumble of the hummin'-birds and buzzin' of the bees;
But the air's so appetizin'; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a pictur' that no painter has the colorin' to mock—
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,
And the raspin' of the tangled leaves as golden as the morn;
The stubble in the furries—kindo' lonesome-like, but still
A-preachin' sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill;
The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;
The hosses in theyr stalls below—the clover overhead!—
O, it sets my hart a-clickin' like the tickin' of a clock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps
Is poured around the cellar-floor in red and yaller heaps;
And your cider-makin's over, and your wimmern-folks is through
With theyr mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and sausage too!...
I don't know how to tell it—but ef such a thing could be
As the angels wantin' boardin', and they'd call around on me—
I'd want to 'commodate 'em—all the whole-indurin' flock—
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

By James Whitcomb Riley. (1853-1916)

P.S. My husband and I were discussing 'fodder' the other night and we both grew up thinking of fodder as the stalk that's left over after the grain has been harvested. So, there might be oat fodder or corn fodder. Do you know of any others?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Italian Plum Pie

One of the guests at our Italian dinner party pot luck (that's a mouthful!) brought this delicious Italian Plum Pie, made from her grandma's recipe. Doesn't it look amazing? Well, it was, so I asked her if she would share the recipe with me so that I could pass it on to you.

In an unbaked 9-inch pie crust*, layer 12 or so Italian prune plums, washed, pitted, and quartered. She said to make sure to use the Italian prune plums, for other plums are too juicy to work well in this recipe.

Mix in large bowl :
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 T. flour
3 dashes of nutmeg (a dash is a very subjective thing, but I'd put in maybe 1/8 - 1/4 t.)

Spread the mixture over the plums and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 50-60 minutes, until filling is golden brown.

*She did not pass on the crust recipe, so I will give you the one that my own mother gave me:

For a single-crust pie (8, 9, or 10 inch)
1/2 c. flour
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. shortening
6 T. cold water

Combine the flour, salt, and shortening. Work either with a pastry blender or your fingers until VERY fine. Then sprinkle on the water, a bit at a time as you continue to mix. Do not over-mix this dough. My mom always told me that over-mixing is what causes a crust to become tough. 

With your hands, form dough into a ball, then flatten out on a floured counter. Roll with a cloth-covered and lightly floured rolling pin until the dough is in a nice disk shape that's about 1/8 inch thick. The trick with pie crust is to lift it up after each time you roll it and lightly re-dust the counter top with flour.

You can use the excess to form strips, sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar, and bake in the oven until just starting to turn golden around the edges. The kids will love these! Mine always did. :-)

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This post is linked to: Making the World Cuter Mondays and Something I Whipped Up Monday and  Motivate Me Monday and Making Monday Marvelous and Made from Scratch Tuesday and Made by You Mondays and Delectable Tuesday and Anything Related Tuesday and Take a Look Tuesday and Tasty Tuesday  and Tasty Tuesday and Tasty Tuesday and  Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays  and Two Maids a Baking and  What's Cookin' Wednesday and Cast Party Wednesday and  It's a Party at Creative Princess and Lisa's Gluten-Free Blog and I'm Lovin' it Friday

Monday, October 18, 2010

Lillie's Little Sweater

I had to show you the sweater that my friend Beth knit for Baby Henry. It is the most darling thing ever! I love her choice of colors, an enchanting frog green. And the leather buttons make it look so preppy!

Lillie's Little Sweater is the pattern she used. In fact, she once started me on this pattern but I think I wasn't ready for it at that time. I'm not sure I'm ready for it now, but I may just give it another try. I'm so inspired by this cute little green sweater she made.

Look at this sweet little hood! There's just something about the hood that really makes it a spectacular little sweater!  

You can find the Lillie's Little Sweater pattern at Halcyon Yarn. The yarn she chose is extraordinary, a beautiful, soft, washable wool by


and I think the color she chose is 'Happy Forest.' You can see some of the other colors at Dream In Color's website.

And, a photo of some of the Dream in Color yarn I found at the 'Darn Knit Anyway' shop in Stillwater, Minnesota.

I'll be sure to post a pic of Little Henry in his Lillie's Little Sweater - as soon as he's wearing it! By the looks of this latest pic, it shouldn't be too long. :-)

This post is linked to Just Something I Whipped Up Monday
and Motivate Me Monday
and Making the World Cuter Monday
and Meet and Greet Monday

Friday, October 15, 2010

Autumn in my Wisconsin Neighborhood, Part II

Yesterday's post was of the beautiful autumn colors in our Wisconsin neighborhood. Today, I've got just a few more. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!



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