Friday, January 14, 2011

How Do I Love Thee?

John brought home the prettiest potted miniature rose from the grocery store recently.  It is currently gracing our kitchen table.  I am not sure why, but this beautiful poem comes to mind every time I see it.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, -- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! -- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Thank you, Sweetie!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

China Cabinet

I am loving January!
(How many people do you know that says THAT?!?)
For me it is a time for packing away, organizing and de-cluttering.
It clears my environment and it clears my mind.
I feel lighter, brighter and happier.
I have been busy tackling many areas.
With much of the china and many pieces of crystal used for our Christmas entertaining out and just washed and dried, it was the perfect time to clean the inside of the china cabinet.
Our china was a gift from John's parents as a wedding gift.  The pattern is Donegal from Noritake.
 I had often felt the style was a bit too contemporary than I preferred but I was pleasantly surprised how lovely it looks in the dining room after I painted and re-did the space several years ago.
The stemware on the top left belonged to John's grandparents.  There were six glasses but you-know-who broke one a couple of years ago and is now afraid to tough them.
Somewhere down the road the lid to the sugar bowl was broken as well.
 One of my favorite wedding gifts received 35 years ago, is this crystal sugar and creamer set.
I know monetary gifts are always appreciated but when I see and use this gift I remember the occasion as well as the couple that gave it to us.
It makes it very special to this sentimental girl!
 Joining Cindy @My Romantic Home for Show & Tell Friday!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

For The Birds

Robin (who has the perfect name) from Robin's Nesting Place posted recently the most beautiful winter bird feeder wreaths that she made.   I was inspired to make one too.  Not as beautiful as Robin's with strings of popcorn draped through the wreath branches and clusters of peanuts tucked among the snips of evergreen.  Mine was hurriedly assembled in anticipation of birds that might come by for a visit.
I looked for little containers that could hold the bird food and yet allow for drainage.  The best I could come up with was a desk-top note holder.  Little paper clip cups would had been perfect but the stores I searched were sold out.
There are three different treats that are attached to the salvaged wreath decorated with a few old holly picks I plucked from an old swag.
  • Pine cones smeared with melted peanut butter and dipped in birdseed. They are tied onto the wreath with kitchen twine.
  • A crumbled mixture of lard, peanut butter, oats, corn meal and flour fills the mesh container (recipe follows)
  • Heart-shaped treats made from birdseed, flour, water and Kayo syrup. (recipe follows)
To make the bird seed hearts, I followed the instructions exactly as given on Smile Monsters.
Very cute, don't you think?
I combined:
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup water
3 Tablespoons corn syrup
and then stirred the mixture into 4 cups bird seed
As Jo @SmileMonster pictured, I pressed the mixture into a heart-shaped cookie cutter sprayed with PAM.
Poke in a straw to form a hole that will be used to thread a string through for hanging.
Gently lift the cookie cutter up and you will have a perfect heart shape.
I was impatient, just like Jo, so we baked our hearts in a 170 degree oven for about one hour instead of letting them air dry for a least 6 hours.

 The recipe below, copied right from Robin's blog, is the recipe I followed to make the stuff crumbled in the mesh container :
Peanut Butter Suet Dough from Julie Zickefoose

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup lard
Combine and melt these two in the microwave, in the oven, or over very low heat on the stovetop. Remove from heat and stir in:

2 cups plain yellow cornmeal
2 cups quick oats
1 cup flour

Allow to cool and harden, then chop into chunks and store at room temperature in jars. Serve crumbled in a shallow dish.
Now the wait begins to see what feathered friends come along.
Hope this unwelcome fellow (Red Tail Hawk) doesn't hang around waiting to pick off some sweet little bird.
I have noticed him by the feeders the past couple of days.
The two photos below are birds resting in the barren branches of my Trumpet Vine.
Purple Finch
Wren or Sparrow

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Butterfly Kisses

This sweet little noggin, pressed against the window pane is what greeted us as we arrived at our daughter, Jamie's last night.
Cambrie Noelle, with her recently pierces ears, pressed her cute button nose against the glass as she peeked at Mom-Mom and Pop-Pop through the large bay window
There couldn't be a more welcoming sight.
Pop-Pop's little peanut learned to give kisses!
With a little apprehension and a little coaxing she melted our hearts once again.
Is that the cutest pucker you have ever seen!

Children's children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children
Proverbs 17:6

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Food for the Soul & "Trust Me" When God Doesn't Make Sense

How do I blend a post about chili and a heartfelt message that was as moving as I thought it would be?  Not very well, I am afraid.

I'll just share my Sunday with you.  The post is actually in reverse as church came before lunch.  But I did make the chili before church, so maybe it's not as backward as it seems.
Bright sun shining on the white snow outside, a cozy fire in the fireplace stove, sharing the love seat with my sweetheart and warm bowls of chili.  How's that for a nice Sunday afternoon!
I am getting back to ready-when-we-get-home from church meals, so I prepared a pot of chili and set on low so it would be hot on our return.
Over the years I have tried lots of chili recipes and settled on this one from Emeril Lagasse.
He doesn't add beans but serves with a con Queso on top.  No con Queso for us but it just wouldn't be chili without kidney beans.
John likes his with a buttered roll.  I like mine served over rice.

Emeril LagasseChili con Carne

Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2002

1 tablespoon bacon fat or vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
2 cups chopped yellow onion
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
4 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon Essence, recipe follows
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 (15-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups water
(I add 2 15-oz, drained and rinsed kidney beans at the end of the cooking time and simmer a few more minutes until heated through)


Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the meat and stir with a long-handled wooden spoon to break up the pieces. Cook, stirring, until the meat is brown and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, green bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, Essence, salt, cumin, oregano, and cayenne, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 4 minutes. Put the whole tomatoes in a large mixing bowl and squeeze them with your hands to break them into pieces. Add the squeezed tomatoes and their juices, the tomato paste, sugar, and water to the pot. Stir well and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the chili from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Remove the pot from the heat, ladle into large bowls.

Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.
Yield: about 2/3 cup

Recipe from "New New Orleans Cooking", by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch. Published by William and Morrow, 1993.
Yield: 6 servings

It isn't  about a great chili recipe.
They are two words I took away from our sermon today.
We just began a new series titled
When God Doesn't Make Sense.
This mornings message was 
Asking the Hard Questions
 It is a study in the book of Habakkuk

I have been looking forward to this series.
Like many others, I have walked some difficult paths that were painful  and hard to understand.
I can resonate with Habakkuk as he addresses God with questions that burn in his heart.
I am grateful that it is okay to ask God questions in our confusion.
I am thankful to hear God whisper,
Trust Me
~ there is more to the story~
I am encouraged that God has a plan for me and my life.
and I can say along with our Pastor,
God, if I can't figure these things out with you, I certainly can't figure them out without You.
Lord, I would rather live in confusion with you than live any other way without You.
If you would like to follow this series with me,
you can watch the first (32 minute) video here or click the button below.


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