Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Tonight our family held its first Reformation Day Party. We had such a good time remembering this important event and the impact it had on the world. When Martin Luther nailed the 95 Thesis on the town's' church door on October 31, 1517, he was calling all people to remember the truth of God's grace and mercy. He was calling all people to remember that it is by God's love and goodness, through the perfect sacrifice of Jesus and not through any thing we can do that mankind , each one of us, can be made right with God. Tomorrow I'll post about our family's happenings, but for now, let me end the day wtih the lyrics from one of Luther's most famous writings, the hymn A MIGHTY FORTRESS IS OUR GOD.
"A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing; Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing: For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe; His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate, On earth is not his equal.
Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing; Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing: Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He; Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same, And He must win the battle.
And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him; His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure, One little word shall fell him."
That Word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,His kingdom is forever."
Amen and praise God! His love never fails.
Monday, October 30, 2006
YOU'RE NOT FROM AROUND HERE ARE YOU?
If I had a dollar for every time someone has asked me if I'm from this area, I'd have enough to buy quite an assortment of cute, new, fall accessories. ;) Yes, I was born in this state and raised within an hour and half radius of my birthplace. When folks that aren't from around here visit, they definitely think I sound like a Southern Belle. Pilots stationed at the airforce base by my college town loved asking me and my girlfriends to repeat certain words and phrases.
But I guess the 2 summers I lived in California and Illinois as a child, a summer in Israel during college, and 2 years in Africa as a single missionary meant that my vocabulary and the way I say things received some "outside" influences. You add to that the factors that my mama was an English schoolteacher, my daddy spoke "Mississippi Gulf Coast", I lived on the Gulf Coast for years surrounded by military transplants, I'm married to an adopted son-of-the-south who grew up in CA & Canada, and I love learning new words and Brit lit/videos and you get a dixie darling who speaks more gen'l English than Southernese.
But though I may sometimes tell my kids to empty out their rubbish bins and I ask hubby to pick up some sodas from the store, I think that the fact that I still call all my Mama's friends "Miss So-N-So", I'm often "fixin'" to do something, and "y'all" is definitely one of the most used words in my vocabulary means that this gal will always have more than a touch of Southernese in her verbal potpourri.
Taking an online quiz rated me this way:
|Your Linguistic Profile:|
|40% General American English|
|5% Upper Midwestern|
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
This past weekend, hubby and I loaded (and I do mean LOADED) up our 7 kids and all our camping stuff and headed to Camp Dixon for the annual retreat that our state-wide homeschool association holds every fall. There were some folks in sleek RVs complete with all the ammenities, some were staying in simple bunk rooms and hotel-type accomodations, but we chose to rough it in our tent. After all, its an adventure to go tentcamping with 7 kids...plus a whole lot CHEAPER! ;)
The weekend was filled to the brim with getting-to-know-you conversations, cooking on the camp stove, running races, marshmallow fights, midnight trips to the bathhouse, friendly cats, rolling down the big grassy hills, lots of singing, helping the baby up & down the slide countless times, playing pirate on the wooden playship, testimony sharing, and memory making. It also had its share of yellow jackets (loved my cooking!), hurt toes, and RAIN, but all that just gave us opportunities to grow and learn.
As a parent, I certainly enjoyed getting to know other homeschooling parents and just the sheer fun of the event. But what I enjoyed MOST was seeing how much my KIDS enjoyed themselves. Since the whole campground was filled with like-minded, child-friendly people, there was such a feeling of family. Even though we didn't know many folks going into the weekend, it didn't matter. Strangers didn't feel like strangers. It made me think about what it must have been like 60 or more years ago in small towns. Parents didn't have to worry about their kids wandering around the neighborhood or even several blocks away to play. I read in stories about kids of 6 or 7 walking to the store all by themselves to pick up some groceries for Mama. I watch the old Little Rascals and see elementary age kids going camping in the woods all by themselves. This is a life that my kids don't know...or at least not normally. But then what we had at Camp Dixon wasn't "normal". It was a unique time when we could tell the kids to go play and we didn't have to know where they were going or who they were going to run into. They just knew to be back in time to eat!
After experiencing our first Camp Dixon retreat, we now understand why the past attendees keep on coming back year after year. We know of folks who had traveled from other states because they didn't want to miss out on the Camp Dixon experience. We talked with young adults who have graduated from homeschool but still come back because its been such a wonderful part of their growing up years. And we know of at least one couple whose kids are all grown up but still come back every year because they love what goes on at the camp and they are there to bless and encourage the younger homeschooling families.
And now we, too, will look forward to OUR children having Camp Dixon as an annual part of their growing up years.
(BTW, the photo is of all the children who ran in the 3K or 5K fun run and won a medal or ribbon. All of our kids participated...even the baby in a backpack that Daddy wore. The 2 oldest girls won medals in their age division.)
Monday, October 23, 2006
I want to share with you a recipe that I've used more than any other recipe...my recipe for popcorn. Now this may seem a little whacko...after all, who needs a recipe for PoPcOrN?!? But with the advent of microwave popcorn, its amazing how so many folks no longer do it the old fashioned way on the stove and many just don't know how to do it anymore...or at least in a way that tastes better than microwave.
My love affair with popcorn began over 3 decades ago. I can't remember my first handful of popcorn, but I do remember where and when I learned to pop the delightful food. We were living in Crystal Springs in our big, white farmhouse. We lived there from the time I was 8 til I was 11 and a half. During those years, my mom taught me to pop it in an old, battered, metal pot. I still remember that old pot...now I wish I had it. It wasn't big enough to hold as much as my family now eats, but I'd love to have it just for the sake of having it. Somehow I could figure out a way to honor that old pot and the popcorn loving journey it set me upon. I know, I know...you're wondering how I can get so nostalgic about an old pot. But that old pot symbolizes not only all the downright delectable popcorn I've popped over the years (plus more than a few burnt kernels in the early years) but all the friends and family I've shared big bowls of the fluffy stuff with over the years.
In high school, I tried to watch my calories and so for a few years I tried to make due with the air-popper stuff experimenting with all sorts of topping to make it more palatable.
During the college years, my girlfriends and I would pop it up in one of those orange Hamilton Beach poppers complete with the built-in butter melting compartment. Microwave popcorn and airpoppers were also the rage and if my memory is not playing tricks on me, I think that the popping of popcorn was the cause of more than one dorm fire alarm going off!!!
After college, I left for Africa. There were no fancy poppers and the only microwave popcorn to cross my tastebuds arrived occasionally via a package from back home. That is where I really started dev'ping the ART of corn popping. Using a copper pot with vents in the lid, I started fine tuning my popping skills. Life moved more slowly over there. I lived alone. I had plenty of time in the evenings to read good books in front of the fireplace and popcorn was the ideal culinary companion. Since I did live alone, I also got lonely...a lot. Good food, running water, and electricity were good bait for reeling in overnight houseguests. Denise B. was one of my frequent sleepover pals and she not only liked my popcorn freshly made, she liked eating it leftover and stale the next morning!
When I left Africa behind, I unfortunately left my pot behind. Though I must say, the poppers with the built-in stirring contraption pop up some pretty fine popcorn. I've presently got one in candy-apple red that my sweetheart husband gave me for Christmas last year. Unfortunately, I don't think it was designed for industrial strength use and the plastic window on top broke after a few months use. The lid is now "attractively" patched with aluminum foil. But I continue to use it and every Sunday night, the kids and I devour mountains of the crunchy stuff while watching our weekly family movie.
Over the last couple of years, our family has been making some major dietary changes. We've been trying to get wiser with our food choices and that's meant I've had to rethink how I've made even my adored popcorn. This is reflected in the recipe.
At this point, I must give some credit to my friend Kelly L (who, by the way, was my first "Queen of the Week"). She was the one who really raved on and on about my popcorn and how it was significantly better than the average Joe Popcorn. She'd come over to help me clean for a party or get ready for a new baby coming, and we'd inevitabley end up at the dining room table talking and laughing (often HOWLING when Kelly was doing the storytelling) while we ate copious amounts of the white fluffy treat. After she moved to Colorado, we both frequented the Five in a Row homeschool board and one way or the other, my popcorn came up as a topic of discussion. Before I knew it, people were asking for the recipe. I'd been making popcorn for so long, I really didn't have a recipe. I just did it. But having people ask me HOW I did it got the old gray matter humming and I finally came up with something that other people could reproduce. And now, "Elysa Mac's World Famous PoPcOrN" is a topic that is frequently mentioned on the boards and a recipe that is almost as frequently requested.
I love sharing things that I love with others, so I'd love to share my recipe with you!
ELYSA MAC'S WORLD FAMOUS PoPcOrN!!!
- Basic Recipe: Cover bottom of pan with oil. Then add enough popcorn to cover pan bottom. Cook over high heat til popping stops or there are a few seconds between each pop. Don't keep it in there too long and let it burn. If you're someone who needs specific amounts, you can start out with 2 tablespoons of oil and 1/3 cup of kernels.
- I keep my bag of unpopped popcorn in the freezer
- Use a pot with a good lid but preferably one with vents so the steam can escape---trapped steam can make your popcorn TOUGH
- I have personally found that generic popcorn pops just as well as the fancy stuff
- Heat your oil FIRST---put it on high and after a minute or so, add your popcorn.
Some bags say to add a few kernels and when those pop add the rest, I just "know" how long to wait cause I've done it for so long.
- After you put in your popcorn, sprinkle it with the orange buttery popcorn salt that is used in the popcorn machines at football games, etc. The only place I can find it is Sam's Club. One brand is SAVORAL (or something like that). Right now I've got a different brand, I think ACT II. THIS is the REAL secret!
- Pop your corn on HIGH shaking it (side to side ON the burner, not up and down taking it OFF of the burner) and dumping some of it when it gets to the top but continue cooking it over heat til almost all of them are popped.
- Since I'm trying to be healthier and use "good fats" now, I use Expeller Pressed SAFFLOWER oil to pop the corn. You can use a vegetable, peanut, or canola oil, just be aware that unless its an expeller pressed type of oil, its not as healthy for you. But if you don't eat it very often, then it might not be a big deal for you. I eat a LOT of popcorn so I really try to use the good stuff.
- Now, also, if you're not worrying about only using "good fats", I spray my popcorn with butter flavored spray. The one I like the very best and in my opinion tastes the MOST like butter is the Kroger brand. I like it much better than Pam. But SALT FIRST! If you spray then salt you get too much salt on those sprayed pieces. I know, it sounds like a little thing, but it all works to make it taste DELISH!
- Use regular salt (well, I use sea salt) not the orange salt afterwards. I add a bit of salt after adding each layer of popcorn.
- Sometimes I melt some butter and pour over the popcorn after popping. Real BUTTER is a "good fat" where as the stuff in the spray cans is not. But even if its a "good fat", I don't need to be eating it by the tablespoonfuls!
- As a special treat, sprinkle with grated cheese or add some M&M's or BOTH!
- When I lived in Africa, I couldn't get the special popcorn salt or the spray but it still tasted good and it was there that I figured out the secret of the pot with the vents. If you don't have a vented lid, just every now and again let some of the steam escape but without lifting the lid so much you shoot popcorn all over the place! The secret to really crisp popcorn is NO STEAM BUILD-UP!
Happy PoPpIng and thanks for putting up with my ramblings...I do get a bit maniacal where this subject is concerned. ;)
If you know me at all, you know I love food and I love talking about food and I love reading about food and I love fixing food. Earlier, I shared my Peachy Pork Picante recipe. I thought I'd share 2 others that folks often request recipes for.
The first is a carrot recipe...SO EASY but my kids actually ALL like it...the only veggie they ALL really like except corn. But the carrot one wins hands down even against corn.
HONEY GLAZED CARROTS
The carrots really are easy. Start out with either already peeled baby carrots or regular carrots that you've peeled and sliced into "coins". Then I just cook them in enough lightly salted water to cover them. I get them to a boil and then lower them down to medium. Cook them til they are very tender and most of the water is gone. If they aren't tender and most of the water is already gone, add a little bit accordingly. Then, add some butter and either honey or brown sugar. Add til it tastes sweet enough for your liking. That's it!
The second one is for my biscuit recipe. My mother-in-law, Sally MacLellan, taught me how to make biscuits when I was a young bride because my husband loved her's so much. I've changed a couple of things in the way I make them, but if they're good, its thanks to Sally and her willingness to teach a new bride how to make food that would come to stand for LTC where the husband is concerned.
2 cups Martha White Self-Rising Four
1/4 cup butter-flavored shortening
3/4 cup of milk
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
In a large bowl, cut shortening into flour until mixture resembles courrse crubms. With a fork or spoon, stir in milk to form a soft dough.
Turn dough onto lightly floured board and pat out until about 3/4 inch thick or even a little thicker. Cut with floured cutter.
Place biscuits lightly touching...
(To be continued. Pain maeds I'm on making my brain scrabmled!)
Monday, October 16, 2006
Thursday, October 12, 2006
'October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came -
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.'
--George Cooper, "October's Party"
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
My 5 year old had been playing around outside today when she took a break to come show me a quite extraordinary jewel of nature. This leaf was so beautifully tinted, I just had to take a photo. To be honest, my photographic skills do not do justice to the brilliant bright oranges that the artist painted on the leaf when He created it. But despite my inability to capture its sheer radiance, I wanted to share it with you as I enjoy the magnificence of this artistic display we call Autumn.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Last night my 3 year old son was being a bit of a grump. Hubby was off with the big girls at the fair, my 2 oldest sons and the 5 year old princess were playing on the pc, the hobbit baby was in her playpen, and my 3 year old was just at grouchy, loose ends.
I grabbed up a pile of books and offered him a snuggle in Daddy's chair as I read to him. At first he wasn't too keen on my book selections. HE wanted a book about volcanoes. But the very first one on the top of the pile brought out the sweetest, most joyful sounding laughs that I'd heard from him all day....in fact, the first true, happy laughs I'd heard in a few days....its been a rough past few weeks for our little mister.
The book, WIGGLE, is written by Doreen Cronin. She's the same author who has brought us the famous and silly farm books such as CLICK, CLACK, MOO: COWS THAT TYPE and DUCK FOR PRESIDENT.
We've enjoyed Cronin's other books, but this is the first one that caused my boy to say right away "read it again" and I did, at least THREE times! And for whatever reason, T. is really into crocodiles right now so we had to look at the page featuring the wiggly dog on top of the crocodile's snout over and over and OVER again! Who knows what lurks in the mind of a male preschooler! LOL!
Monday, October 09, 2006
Hubby has taken the two oldest girls to meet up with some of their friends at the State Fair. All the wee ones are in bed. As is my habit, when the cat is away, this mouse does play...and in my case, its on the pc! I've spent the last hour trying to catch up on email and delete a bunch of junk mail, and I just had to take a break. I ran across some completely silly quizzes. This one, that supposedly determined how "normal" I am, was the least silly of the silly ones so here goes:
|You are 80% normal|
You are shockingly normal... and since normal doesn't really exist, that is kinda scary. In fact, you are scarier than the most abnormal person. Go you!
I think some of the folks who know me IRL would beg to differ with this quiz result! LOL!
Okay, this very scary normal person is now getting off the pc and getting in bed with a good, cozy book about very normal people with normal lives in a normal, Post-WWII, English village.
LONG LIVE NORMALACY!
I found this article from THE WASHINGTON TIMES of great interest:
ASSOCIATED PRESSPublished October 9, 2006
NEW YORK -- Laura Bennett isn't bound by convention. Professionally, at 42, she's pursuing a midcareer switch into big-time fashion design. At home, she's a mother of five -- with No. 6 due next month. "It was nothing that we planned ahead of time," Mrs. Bennett says. "It's more that we were enjoying all the kids. We have a happy home. Why not have as many children as we can?"
It's barely a blip on the nation's demographic radar -- 11 percent of U.S. births in 2004 were to women who already had three children, up from 10 percent in 1995. But there seems to be a growing openness to having more than two children, in some case more than four.
The reasons are diverse -- from religious to, as Mrs. Bennett reasons, "Why not?" These families cut across economic lines, though a sizable part of the increase is attributed to a baby boom in affluent suburbs, with more upper-middle-class couples deciding that a three- or four-child household can be both affordable and fun.
The Bennetts still stand out. Among other well-off families in Manhattan, three children is generally the maximum -- one or two is much more common as parents contemplate private-school tuition of $25,000 a year even for kindergarten, and a real estate market that is far from family-friendly.
Mrs. Bennett's husband, Peter Shelton, is a successful architect, and the family can afford child-care help while Mrs. Bennett -- also an architect by training -- pursues her fashion-design aspirations as a finalist on the TV reality show "Project Runway." But their motives sound similar to those of other, less wealthy parents nationwide who have opted for five or more children.
Dr. Jeff Brown, a pediatrician affiliated with Greenwich Hospital in Connecticut's wealthy southwestern suburbs, has noticed a clear trend in recent years. "I don't hear people say, 'We'll have two and then we're done,' where I used to hear that before," he said. "People are much more open to three-children families than they were 10 years ago."
However, really big families remain rare, Dr. Brown said, in part because many women are giving birth at older ages -- they may not have their third child until their 40s, when the prospect of a fourth might seem too daunting.
The Census Department says it has no national data specifying which demographic sectors are having more kids these days. But a leading authority on family size, Duke University sociologist Philip Morgan, says it makes sense that some well-off couples are opting for more children as concern about global overcrowding eases because of lowering birth rates overall.
"The population explosion -- fears about that are over," he said. "People used to think that having more than two kids was not only expensive but immoral. Now, people say if you can afford three kids, four kids, that's great."
Yet Mr. Morgan, who has three children of his own, doubts there will be a boom in extra-large families. "No matter how much money the parents have, most think each of their kids should have their own place and time," he said. "More than four -- that's when people start thinking you're crazy, that you're shortchanging the ones you already have."
Bonny Clark, a mother of five from the Minneapolis suburb of Circle Pines, has encountered such skepticism. When pregnant with twins four year ago -- with three other children already -- even some of her friends were dismayed. "There were a lot of unwelcome comments, like, 'If I had three kids and was having twins, I'd kill myself,'" Mrs. Clark said.
Mrs. Clark, 38, is aware of the buzz that large families -- in the suburbs, at least -- are a new status symbol. "I thought it was kind of funny," she said "Most people who have a lot of kids don't have the time or energy to care what others think."
From far-flung communities, many parents of large families enjoy comparing notes. Several Web sites have surfaced to accommodate such exchanges, including LargerFamilies.com, founded this year by Meagan Francis of Williamston, Mich. Mrs. Francis, 29, has four children -- fewer than many of her site's regular bloggers but enough to raise eyebrows in her suburb outside Lansing. "People thought I was insane," she said.
Mrs. Bennett says the main reaction she gets from mothers with fewer children is, "How do you do it?" "My answer is I don't think about it too much," she said. "You do what you need to do, and you have to just let go of a few things. Don't expect things to be perfect every day."
Copyright © 2006 News World Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.
I can definitely relate to that last paragraph. Of course in MY case, I don't expect ANY day to be perfect!!!! If my husband has clean underwear in his drawer, we've not lost our three year old, I know what I'm cooking before 5:00 in the evening, none of the kids have had accidents that require more than 1 band-aid, I've not lost my cool and raised my voice at all the whole day long, we've not broken any dishes, we've read some good books, laughed a LOT, taken good naps (me, too!)and quarreling has been kept to a minimum, then I feel like we've had a winning day! :)
You know how it is, you start out looking at one person's page and after following a link or two, you find yourself in a whole 'nuther realm. This happened today. I found a great Christian, India Rock band that has songs that range from mellow to hard driving. This quartet from The Lone Star State is worth checking out. Go to to The Justin Cofield Band's "myspace" to hear four songs in their entirety.
"I became a Christian once for all upon the basis of the finished work of Christthrough faith; that is justification. The Christian life, sanctification, operates on the same basis, but moment by moment. There is the same base (Christ's work) and the same instrument (faith); the only difference is that one is once forall and the other is moment by moment...If we try to live the Christian life in our own strength we will have sorrow, but if we live in this way, we will not only serve the Lord, but in place of sorrow, He will be our song. That is the difference. The 'how' of the Christian life is the power of the crucified and risen Lord,through the agency of the indwelling Holy Spirit, by faith moment by moment."
Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality
Thursday, October 05, 2006
For those of you who know me personally, you probably know that I LOVE to travel!!! This past week, my awesome hubby blessed me with a trip to Massachusets to visit my longtime friend Denise B. and her family. I had a marvelous time and will share many details soon (promise!) but for now, I'm limited in my pc and blogging time as I'm trying to get caught up on a frightful amount of things that piled up while I was gone. I DID stumble across this neat website that lets you generate your own maps. There was one that enabled me to mark every state I've visited. I just HAD to do this since I now get to add Mass. to my list of states.
href="http://www.world66.com/myworld66">create your own
personalized map of the USA
or check out our href="http://www.world66.com/northamerica/unitedstates/california">California
(BTW, I don't know how to get all this code off of my blog. I think its just supposed to say "Create your own map of the USA at _______ and then a link. If anyone can tell me how to fix this, please let me know!)
And now when I'm crooning VeggieTales THE PIRATES WHO DON'T DO ANYTHING SONG, I'll never again truthfully be able to sing "...and I've never been to Boston in the fall". :)