Sunday, October 31, 2010

South Georgia Cookin'

My boys are very happy with me because since moving to South Georgia a few years ago I've been learning to cook the food of the deep south.  (I'm making progress, but I have yet to cook collards or to boil peanuts!!!)    ;)

Would you like to know how to prepare a good southern meal??  I'm going to share some of the recipes with you from the menu that I prepared Friday night:  Barbequed Pork, Brunswick Stew, Rice, and Pound Cake.

First for the Brunswick Stew.  Brunswick Stew is said to have originated in Brunswick, GA  back in the late 1800s.  It usually contains some combination of wild game, pork, chicken or beef, along with tomatoes, onions, and corn.  It is cooked for a long time at a low heat, and is thick and stew-like.  Beyond that, there is no exact recipe, and the dish varies widely depending on the region and the cook and what is available to "throw in the pot!"  According to Georgia humorist,  Roy Blount Jr., "Brunswick stew is what happens when small mammals carrying ears of corn fall into barbeque pits."   :)

Anyway, here is the recipe I followed for Brunswick Stew.  It is from the classic Southern cookbook -- Mrs. Wilkes' Boardinghouse Cookbook.

2 pounds pork or chicken, cooked and chopped
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon hot sauce
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup bacon drippings
1/2 cup vinegar based barebecue sauce
1 1/2 cups catsup
2 cups diced potato, cooked
3 (12-ounce) cans cream-style corn

Note:  I used a bunch of leftover chicken for the meat.  After the meal, I threw in the leftover pork barbeque.  I also threw in a few pieces of chopped bacon, some chunks of summer sausage, a can of whole-kernel corn, one chopped onion, and the remains of a bottle of barbeque sauce.  Next time, I will reduce the catsup used by half.   I love knowing that I can personalize this recipe to my heart's content!  :)

Place all of the ingredients in a dutch oven; cover, and heat slowly.  Simmer for several hours.  If desired, serve over rice.

This turned out Delicious!!!  In fact, I'm about to go reheat a bowl of it for my supper!  YUM!  :)

After supper was eaten and cleared away, I served the pound cake.  Pound Cake is a staple of the South!!  This recipe, which is from a lady that my husband used to work with, is the best pound cake recipe I've ever tried.

Miss Mary's Cream Cheese Pound Cake

3 sticks butter
1 8-oz pkg. cream cheese
6 eggs
3 cups sugar
3 cups flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond flavoring

Set out eggs, cream cheese and butter, so they come to room temperature before starting on the cake.

Cream together butter, cream cheese and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy.  I beat for about 5 minutes while measuring out the remaining ingredients, greasing the pan, and pre-heating the oven.  It should look like this:

Add eggs and flour alternately into creamed mixture, beating after each addition.  Add flavorings and beat well, scraping bowl as needed. 

Pour into well greased and floured tube pan.  Unless you have a very large pan, you may have too much dough.  I always seem to have a bit more than will comfortably fit into the pan, but I have many willing bowl lickers!

Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 20 minutes.  Test for doneness with a toothpick; however, it is better to remove cake before the toothpick comes out totally clean to keep it from being too dry.

Let cake cool in pan, and turn out onto cake plate.  (The top becomes the bottom.)

This is Delicious served warm from the oven!  Pound Cake is great served with ice cream, with strawberries, or with fresh sliced peaches -- but it is never iced!!  :)

If you try one of these recipes, let me know how it turns out!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

All Around Our Table . . .

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Psalm 128:3 -- "Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house, your children like olive plants all around your table."  (NKJV)

I love the word picture this verse creates.  I like imagining a godly wife and mother, joyful and content in the very heart of her home (which I see as the kitchen), with her brood of children seated all around her table, enjoying the home-cooked meal she has lovingly prepared for them.

Ever since we got married, my husband has wanted a big round table with a lazy susan in the middle.  He enjoyed many meals at such a table while he was in collge, due to the gracious hospitality of a woman who often prepared home-cooked meals for the basketball players.

So . . . guess what arrived on Thursday???  :)

Yes, we now have a beautiful round table with lazy susan sitting in the heart of our home, beckoning us to sit and eat and enjoy fellowship together as a family. Well, make that just a remnant of our family! Our entire family won't fit around this table . . . . but it seems that more and more we are down to just our "second family," which is the youngest half! With the oldest girls no longer living at home, and the three oldest boys either at school or work most of the time, the majority of our meals are eaten with just the youngest five children at home.

So, what do you think of our new table?   I'm Loving it!!!!!   :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Our Legacy

As we get up each morning and follow our routines, or lack of ones, and go about our days methodically and with purpose, or haphazardly, as the case may be -- do we ever stop and think about the legacy we are creating for our children??  I was challenged to ponder that idea this morning when I read Mrs. White's excellent blog post, entitled Creating Home Life.

The time our children are with us in our homes is as fleeting as the handful of yard-flowers with dangling roots picked by a chubby little hand and offered to us with great devotion.  Before we know it, our children will be grown and gone and making their own way in the world.  What will define their memories of home??  Will the atmosphere that we created be a magnet that draws them home?  Or, will it turn out the opposite way, and become the very thing that repels them?

Will they remember a grumpy mom who stumbled about in her bathrobe until noon, grumbling and complaining about her disheveled house, and wondering what on earth to throw together for dinner??  Or will they have fond memories of a neatly dressed mother, who took joy in her children and worked cheerfully and willingly doing her housework, not to create a show place, but to create a haven for her family?  Will they remember running through the drive through for fast food most nights of the week, or will they remember a mother who gave of her time and energy to prepare delicious and nutritious meals and treats for her family, friends, and those in need in her cozy kitchen?

Of course, we all have bad days and even difficult seasons when we are not at our best, but it is our responsibility as mothers and home managers to create a peaceful, loving, joyful home life for those we love.  Day by day we are creating our legacy.  What kind of legacy will it be?

Happy Birthday to My Sister!

Today is a special day -- it is my sister's birthday!!  I want to encourage you to drop by her place on the web and pay her a visit today!  She has a sweet blog called Rebecca's Refining, where she shares about her family and the life they share together, as well as sharing about the way God is working in her life, refining her to become more like Jesus.  While you're there, why not leave her a comment?!  I'd love to shower her with comments today for her birthday!!

It's funny how we are closer today than ever before, even though we live more than a day's drive apart.  We have Blogger, Facebook and Gmail chat to thank for that!  ;)  It really helps us to be involved in each other's lives, and we look forward to our daily chats!  :)

Last year I posted a video of the Andrews sisters singing, "Sisters" from the classic movie "White Christmas" for my sister's birthday tribute.  This year, I'm posting the men's version of the same song!  I just love Bing Crosby, and I never grow tired of watching his hilarious rendition of this song!  Enjoy! 


Monday, October 25, 2010

Children: Blessing or Burden??

Recently, a sweet young mother emailed me for encouragement, as she and her husband are in the early stages of trusting God for the number of children in their family.  This precious young mom has three little children, very close together, and is already receiving an abundance of negative feedback about her "large family."   Unfortunately, most of the comments are from family and friends.

We live in an era when children are definitely thought of as a Burden, rather than a Blessing, and couples who dare to have more than two of these "hindrances" are considered to be ignorant, foolish, and totally out of touch with reality.  Our society considers children to be inconvenient, a nuisance, unruly, expensive, dispensable, and a threat to an already over-populated world.

Would you agree???  What is your view of children??

Frequently, even as Christians, we have the same view as the secular world around us.  We no longer realize the value of a child.  We've been indoctrinated into believing that the world is over-populated.  In additon, our own experience seems to validate the fact that children are sometimes inconvenient, irritating, expensive, unruly and annoying!!! 

However, the Bible teaches that children are a Blessing and a Reward!  That means, it is our duty to adjust our thinking to align with what the Scripture says, not to reinterpret Scripture to match what the world says. 

"Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward."  -- Psalm 127:3.

So, why don't we view children as a Blessing?? 

The main problem is that we look at children from a temporal, earthly perspective.  It is easy to see that children cost us money (sometimes lots of it!), get sick at the most inconvenient times, embarrass us in front of our friends, arrive in this world with their nights and days mixed up (and often revert to those primitive behaviors in their teen years!), and require years of education, training and sacrifice.  So, how is that a blessing again???  ;)

The key to understanding the blessing of children is to develop an eternal, spiritual perspective.  God sees children as as blessing because they advance His kingdom.   The Psalmist compares children to arrows in the hand of a warrior.  Scripture teaches that we are in a spiritual battle, and our children are our weapons, who will one day wage war against the enemy and his strongholds.  (Refer to Ephesians 6:10-18.)

"As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate." -- Psalm 127:4-5

A second reason that children are a blessing is that they force us to grow up and to develop character.  It is a baby that causes a carefree girl to become a caring, nurturing woman and an irresponsible lad to be transformed into a dependable man.  Not that this metamorphosis is automatic or guaranteed, but being entrusted with the care and destiny of a living soul is such a sobering responsibility that many have been transformed by it.  Also, we are so prone to self-centeredness, and it is our children that cause us to get over ourselves and to learn the blessing of self-sacrifice.  As one mother of a large family confided to me many years ago, "With the birth of each new baby, I die to myself a little bit more."

And of course, children are a blessing to us just because they bring us pleasure, joy, and even entertainment!  We enjoy their cute antics and clever little sayings and take much pride in their accomplishments.  We enjoy being with them and doing things to bless them.  We even take pleasure in the special way they say, Mommy or Daddy!  If we will look a little deeper, we will see that this pictures the relationship that our Heavenly Father desires to have with us.  He enjoys spending time with us, in giving us good gifts (Matthew 7:11), and He loves to hear us cry out to Him, saying Abba Father!

So, if we believe that children are a blessing, why don't we want more of them???

A wise man once said --
"The Bible calls debt a curse and children a blessing; but in our culture, we apply for a curse and reject blessings."

When we begin to see children the way Jesus sees them, we will desire more of His blessings in the form of children.  Matthew 18:5 says, "And whoever receives and accepts and welcomes one little child like this for My sake and in My Name receives and accepts and welcomes Me."  (Amplified version).  Not that it will always be easy . . . or joyful . . . or pain free.  Sometimes there is sacrifice in obedience, and tears mingled with joy as we walk a path of faith.

Back to the young mother I was corresponding with.  She was worried about family members that were already upset about the number of children they had and would not welcome the news of another pregnancy.  I encouraged this young mother not to worry about pleasing her family, but to just worry about pleasing God. 

With this advice, I was transported back about 21 years (!!) when we announced that we were expecting our third child.  I remember my mother-in-law being so distraught over the news.  She just couldn't believe that we were going to have three children!!!  Remembering how horrified she was at the thought of three grandchildren, I dreaded telling her about number four . . . and five . . . and well, I guess she got used to the announcements by the time we got down to number ten!!!  ;)

But, this is what I really want to share in this post.  Those same babies that my dear mother-in-law was so unhappy to learn I was expecting, were the very ones who drove her to the store, to the bank, to the pharmacy, to doctor appointments and hair appointments these last years.  They also mowed her lawn, planted flowers, killed various pests for her (including setting mouse traps and catching and disposing of mice!), hung pictures for her, mopped her floors, helped her up when she fell . . . and even discovered her when she had breathed her last.  And those babies that came on down the line, they were the ones who ministered cheer to her daily with their irresistibly cute antics, their childish stories, and their unconditional love.   They may have seemed like a burden to her in the beginning, but they were a blessing to her in the end!!

The world sees children as a burden . . . . God sees children as a blessing to help share the burdens of life!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What is the Shortest Distance from Point A to Point B?

Given that point A is the upstairs . . .

And given that point B is the downstairs  . . . .

The solution is a basket hanging from a rope!!!  :)

(Gotta love creative children!!)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Eleven Reasons for Unpacking a Few More Boxes!

When my friend Trisch, who is from rural Indiana, mentioned taking an extended road trip with her family that would encompass several of the north and southeastern states, I offered for her to stay at our house in Albany, GA.  This was especially appropriate since her daughters wanted to visit Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, because they are huge fans of the movies produced by Sherwood Pictures.  However, by the time all of our plans came together, our paths ended up intersecting on the Georgia coast, just one week after we moved into our new house!!!  :o

When you have house guests, you naturally want your home to be neat and clean and to be able to make things extra special and welcoming.  Well, so much for that!  We barely had the kitchen operational, only one picture on the wall, and many boxes still adorning our house!  That is not exactly what you hope for with a family of eleven coming to stay for the night!!!!

But, years ago we learned the IBLP definition of Hospitality -- "cheerfully sharing food, shelter, and spritual refreshment with those whom God brings into my life."  While entertaining seeks to impress; hospitality seeks to bless!~  So, I was given a perfect opportunity to focus on true hospitality!!

While I have known Trisch for over twelve years, I have only talked to her face to face a couple times at a homeschool conference we both attended annually.  We "met" through an ATI mom's email loop, and have kept in touch through email all these years.  But, I had never met her family . . . . so, it was a delight to get to see Trisch and meet Dallas and their nine children!

I hope you enjoy these pictures taken during their short visit at our house:

Before they left, they sang a couple songs for us -- a fun song and a serious song -- both in perfect harmony!

To read more about their adventures on the road or at home on the farm, check out Trisch's edifying blog -  Never a Dull Moment or her daughters' delightful blog - Seven Sisters.

Monday, October 11, 2010

What it Takes to Get the Kitchen Unpacked and into Operation!

There is nothing like knowing that you have houseguests coming for the night to push your unpacking efforts into high gear!!!! 

Alan and Taylor installed shelves in my pantry on Saturday, and on Sunday we made an epic trip to SAMS Club for a major restocking!  Then, I spent Sunday afternoon putting away all the food we purchased and organizing my pantry.  However, the kitchen was still a Huge Mess!  So, Chris and Hannah helped me unpack a few more boxes of kitchen stuff while I washed dishes and Cleaned and Organized . . . . and this is the fruit of our efforts!!!

Once the kitchen was operational, Hannah made a big pan of brownies and I put on a pot of decaf coffee, so we would have a snack to offer Trisch and her family when they arrived at 10 pm . . . .  Then we set to work trying to figure out how to bed down 11 people for the night!!!!!!   (Check back tomorrow for that story!!)

Even though there are still plenty of boxes to unpack and places to organize, it is amazing how much better your house feels once you have the kitchen ~ the heart of the home ~ in order!!!   I guess I have Trisch to thank for giving me the push I needed to make that happen!!  And now, much to my family's delight, I'm going to go put on my apron and light my pumpkin spice candle, and make dinner for the first time in my new kitchen!  (happy sigh . . .)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Making Time for Some Fall Fun

It's hard to stop and take a break from unpacking, when there is still so much to be done and I'm so eager to have my house in order, but I decided to take a break Friday morning and join the local home school group for a field trip.  The destination was a nearby Pumpkin Patch. 

They had many activities set up for visiting children to enjoy.  The hayride was one of the favorites.

Each child got to select a small pumpkin to take home.

After a picnic lunch, we worked our way through the corn maze.  Unfortunately (for those around me), this experience brought out my love of Corny Jokes!  ;)

As you can see, this wasn't real corn, like my sister has in Ohio!  I'm wondering if it was some kind of dwarf variety??  Or just dwarfed by drought??  Oh well, it was still fun . . . even if most of us were taller than the corn!  :)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Creating a Place of Beauty

With every room of my house currenty decorated in "contemporary cardboard," I decided I needed one area that was pretty and peaceful to retreat to.  I chose to create a place of beauty in my foyer, since it was already box-free.  With a small investment of time and money, I created a seasonal table in my entry way that welcomes me each time I come in the door and provides an oasis in the midst of the clutter.  It inspires me to keep working my way through the house, until every room can be a place of beauty and order.

Note to friend, Donna G., yes that is Candy Corn you see on the table!!!  :)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Moving Game

Everytime we have moved with a moving company, I have set up a little game for the younger children.  I send them on a sticker hunt -- they scurry around the house searching for and pulling off all those little inventory stickers that are on every piece of furniture. Then, I pay them 2 cents per sticker.  This little game accomplishes several things -- it keeps the younger children constructively occupied for a period of time, it gets all of the moving stickers off the furniture in a timely manner, and it injects a little fun into the business of moving.  

Day 5 of Our Moving Adventure

On Thursday, while we were tying up loose ends in Albany and making the drive over to the coast, the movers were busy unloading the truck at our new house.  So, by the time we arrived that evening, the movers were gone and the house was FULL of oddly placed furniture and OVERFLOWING with boxes!!  After taking a look around, we set to work unloading the van, rearranging furniture and unpacking a few boxes.

It felt odd to sleep in my own bed in a strange room, but I was so tired that I eventually fell into a deep sleep.  Thank God for rest and refreshment!

Friday was a new day in our new house!  I awoke full of energy, excitement and enthusiasm for unpacking boxes and getting settled into our new house.  Here are some pictures of us attacking the cardboard jungle.

Friday was also Christopher's 15th birthday.  Unfortunately, there was no birthday cake or candles, no presents, no making him feel special.  Just lots of chaos and lots of work!!   Poor Chris!  But we did go to an all-you-can-eat seafood buffet for supper -- so, atleast he got a good meal for his birthday!!!  :) 

Once we got our wireless working, I took time to order him a present  . . . a new game -- Axis and Allies Europe 1940.  He and Luke have both been wanting that game, so it has created a lot of excitement around here!  They have a big game going in their room . . . maybe I should go up and take a picture.


Here are two pictures of the birthday boy!

And the moving adventure continues . . . .

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Day 4 of Our Moving Adventure

Thursday morning while we were enjoying our Complimentary Carb-lovers Breakfast at the motel, Luke's best friend, Jase, dropped by on his way to school to tell him good-bye.  Jase has been a wonderful friend for Luke, and it was sad to tell him good-bye.  I know that he and Luke will really miss each other!  We will all miss Jase, as he was just like a member of our family!

This is Jase's mom -- Ms. Sabra, Jase and Luke.

All too soon, the moment we had been dreading arrived -- the time when we had to tell Tiffany good-bye.  Bethany is having a hard time understanding why her Tiffany and her Ashlyn can't move with us . . .

A group hug -- with everyone putting on their saddest faces (in a feeble attempt to keep their Real Sadness at bay.)

After Tiffany left for school, we packed up and went back to the house one more time to finish cleaning the kitchen and make sure everything was clean and ready to leave.  Then, after a couple errands, we were on our way!! 

Headed to the Coast . . . and no looking back!!!!

Day 3 of Our Moving Adventure

As I said in my last post, the movers had our house totally packed up and on the truck in two days!!  So, Wednesday I faced the daunting task of thoroughly cleaning each and every room and making sure the house was show-ready.   Fortunately, I did not have to tackle it all alone . . . .I had a team of eager workers with me!!  :)  Together, we made a great "Clean Team!" 

However, there was a lot to be done and by about 6 pm we were just too tired to finish off the kitchen and the cleaning out of the fridge.  So, we decided to just call it a day and finish it off the next morning.

We checked into our motel and then met Tiffany at Logan's for our last supper together before the inevitable parting . . . .

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Day 2 of Our Moving Adventure

Tuesday morning, the movers once again arrived bright and early ready to work!  They were an impressive bunch -- courteous, respectful, hard working, efficient, and careful (which is exactly the opposite of the movers we endured when we moved from SC to GA four years ago!!!)  Unbelievably, they not only finished packing up everything in the house and the cottage, but also loaded it all on the trucks that day, too!  They were definitely the best movers we have ever had!  (Thank you God!)

I actually had more time on my hands that day (but no internet, or I would have blogged!).  I sat on the porch (out of the way!) and watched the action, while reading  my Bible and praying for Tiffany, who is really struggling with the reality that her whole family is moving away. :(  (Please pray for her, if the she comes to mind!)  I also had several phone calls, a visit from a neighbor and a visit from our pastor.  These things helped that long day pass a bit more quickly.

Soon it was supper time again!  This night we descended upon Applebees for a delicious feast!!  Then, we went to a motel for a good night's rest.  Unfortunately, the first two places I checked were Full, and no one had any suites left, so we all squeezed into a regular room with two queens and a roll away.  It was definitely "cozy!"   :)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Embracing Change -- Day 1 of Our Moving Adventure

Last Monday, I woke up and started the day by coming face to face with the following difficult facts:

Number One:  I was no longer 47.

Number Two:  I was essentially the same size I was a year ago when I turned 47 and vowed to not turn 48 without losing a significant amount of weight.  :(

Number Three:  I was about to watch my lovely house be "torn apart" room by room.

Number Four:  I was not going to have time to do anything special for my birthday or my blogoversary.  (I had planned to host a  fun give-away.)

After a brief moment of sadness, I embraced my day, such as it was -- a beautiful fall day that would bring about a season of change in my life.

The movers arrived right on time at 8 am, before I was really ready for them!  I spent the bulk of the day scurrying around, washing as many loads of laundry as I could, washing dishes, giving direction to the packing guys and "playing hide and seek."  By that I mean, I hurried to hide the stuff we didn't want them to pack, and they had a way of finding it and packing it anyway!!  :)  

This is what my day looked like:

The movers were extremely fast and efficient.  The down side of that is they packed up way more than I expected that first day!~  But there is always a silver lining -- in this case it was that we were forced to go out to eat, since my kitchen was all boxed up!  ;)  

Here we are at Chili's:

Comfort Food!  :)

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