Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Christmas celebration!

It's been a full couple of days... Lots of preparations, holiday meal, church services and celebrating! While I want to share some reflections from our Christmas Eve service at church ~ today, I'm sharing some pictures from Christmas Eve and Christmas day.

The day started like most others for Blaine ~ shoveling the wet, heavy snow off the driveway.

Blaine and Elizabeth cooking part of our Christmas (Eve) dinner!

Nicholas helping with dishes...

The prime rib roast ~ yum!

Decorations on the table...

Father/daughter spoons!

The feast!

Late afternoon dinner ~ as we had to leave by 4ish to make it to the 5 pm Christmas Eve service at church. We're normally 6:45 service people, but that service was cancelled due to bad weather.

Nicholas and me!

Benjamin and Blaine clearing water off the driveway prior to leaving for church...

Just me...

The road in our neighborhood

Our kids!

In the car again ~ heading to Kirstin's house and then attending Christmas Eve service at their church at 11pm...

Benjamin and Kirstin's Christmas present ~ yay for fruit smoothies!

Benjamin opening his present from Kirstin. Doesn't she look excited?!

Ahhhh... They are such an adorable couple!

My first dairy-free, gluten-free pumpkin pie made by me! It turned out very good.

Benjamin and me!

Elizabeth and me!

"Perfect" gifts from South Australia. I'm blessed beyond measure...

Elizabeth and Benjamin playing Wii Guitar Hero at 3 am Christmas morning...

Blaine and Nicholas playing Wii Guitar Hero ~ also at the 3 am hour...

Christmas gifts ~ more delightful blessings!

Merry Christmas and to all a good night!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Traditions

We've been talking alot about what makes Christmas "Christmas" for our family. We had a few things that we all agreed upon and each of us has specific things that are really important too...

  • Muppet Christmas Carol and White Christmas (movies)
  • Poppy Seed Bread
  • Christmas Eve Service

Blaine ~ pumpkin bread, rotating the treetop star through the kids, and delivering goodies to the neighbors.

Benjamin ~ stated above, but I think what really makes Christmas "Christmas" for him is playing his French horn in a seasonal music production.

Elizabeth ~ Sending out Christmas cards to family and friends, making a gingerbread house and making goodies for others.

Nicholas ~ Eggnog and people around to play games.

and Me ~ Sending out Christmas cards and writing the annual Christmas letter, making goodies for the neighbors and delivering them, (and I really want) to cut our own Christmas tree and decorate the house the day after Thanksgiving...

AND, we love receiving Christmas cards, letters and pictures from others!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Happy 23rd Anniversary!

23 years ago today, Blaine and I were married on a very snowy and cold Saturday in Spokane, Washington. The weather today reminded us of the weekend we were married. I thought it would be so "magical" to have a Christmas season wedding. You know, early evening wedding by candlelight... It was at the time, but we find it challenging some years to actually work in time to celebrate. I'm sentimental though and Blaine's parents and my parents were both married in December ~ so we thought it would be a great way for us to honor their marriages and carry on the tradition. (I don't really recommend getting married in December ~ it's cold, the weather is unpredictable and it's a busy time of the year; though it didn't seem quite so busy all those years ago).

Anyway, we enjoyed a wonderful salmon dinner with all our children & Kirstin too ~ Blaine and I cooked. (With my kidney condition, we didn't want to chance eating out and music being loud at a restaurant and ruining the rest of our evening.)

After dinner, we headed to downtown Seattle - on very icy roads until we reached the main highway - and enjoyed 7 Brides for 7 Brothers at the 5th Avenue Theatre. I was a bit challenged by the heating/air system vibrating the first half of the show, but we were able to move down a few rows at intermission and really enjoyed the rest of the show. Fabulous show ~ wonderful dancers, amazing vocalist ~ superb sets! It was Blaine's first time to see a production there and he really enjoyed it too. I think we'll definitely go again, but will likely spend a little extra on tickets and sit a bit lower. Gorgeous old theatre...

Happy Anniversary Blaine and here's to many more...

Monday, December 1, 2008

The holiday season...

It's a really busy season here at our house, so my blogging time will be very limited over the next few weeks. I have some projects I'm trying to get completed before Christmas and a great deal of baking that needs to be done and shared with all the neighbors (it's a family tradition for us)... All this to say, I'm planning to pop in on Friday's for Anchor Friday ~ but I likely won't be on regularly until after the holidays.

I'm thinking of you all and praying this is a very joyous holiday season for everyone!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Another reason to go ORGANIC!

The Organic Center’s analysis of government data found that it’s most important to choose organic versions of produce with thin, edible skins.

It determined that the 16 items listed below have the highest dietary risk index scores, in descending order.

green beans
sweet bellpeppers


The center also found that non-organic, imported produce might contain higher levels of residues than non-organic U.S. counterparts.

For more information, visit and browse the “State of Science” section.

To read the article: Pesticides and Food ~ Flying Blind (about U.S. foods), just click on the title of the article to link you there...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Goodbye ~ Evergreen State Fair

For a few years, 4-H was a HUGE part of our life (actually it's probably my favorite season of life with our children)! Elizabeth and I would spend nearly everyday at The Evergreen State Fair each year (12 days + some time before and after) and the boys joined us now and again. I think our last year involved, Nicholas spent quite a bit of time out at fair too.

Well, we still have dear friends involved in 4-H and I love seeing the sheep (though I didn't get there today), 4-H barn and 4-H/fair friends ~ so everyone had today off from work and we thought it would be a great family outing for our Sunday afternoon/evening. The weather was predicted to be light rain with temperatures in the low to mid 70's (and we live in Seattle), so no worries... It started raining (fairly hard) before we left home, but Blaine reminded me that we were driving about an hour northeast and the weather would likely be better. Famous last words! It poured relentlessly the entire time we were there. At first, it was just raining steady ~ but by the time we left it was coming down in buckets. Ugh!

While it was a bit amusing, but not a lot of fun for a fair day ~ we did discover it was a time of 'closure' for us. 4-H was a wonderful season in our life, but now we've moved on to new things. We don't fit in with the 4-H people anymore and the fair just didn't excite us much. So, we said our goodbyes today. Fair food didn't even sound enticing... Elizabeth and Nicholas each got a Purple Cow, Benjamin got a corn dog and we all shared a bag of Kettle Korn ~ we collectively decided that fair food for dinner wasn't appetizing and we stopped on our way home and got Blaine, Benjamin and Elizabeth Thai food, Nicholas Taco Bell (he is still 16 - give him some time) and I got a Jamba Juice (plus ate leftovers at home). And, we did end up with some great pictures! Enjoy!

The "Fab Four" ~ don't you think this would make a great album cover?!

The cute girls!

Elizabeth waiting in line for a scone. Oh yes, they all had to have a scone before we left the fair. The boys went ahead of us, got their scones and left to walk back to the car. I waited with Elizabeth to get hers. She's the one in the faded blue jeans (at the end of the line).

Nearly the same picture, but closer to the storm drain to see all the water flowing into it...

After what seemed like 'forever', Elizabeth reached the front of the line and was successful! However, she told us the scone tasted better when it was only a dollar... (they raised the price to $1.25 this year)!

And, a flashback to the same day 3 years ago - August 2005. The family (minus me - I stayed in the 4-H barn) went to see the Sunday evening concert: Audio Adrenaline. The weather had been fairly nice that day, but the downpour began during the concert and they were all thoroughly drenched when they got back. It's still a concert they remember to this day and loved it! There was so much water on the stage, the stage crew was using a large squeegee to get the water off... You can tell how wet they are by their hair and their pants. Oh, what great memories!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

A new garden tool!

A couple of weeks ago, I shared with Blaine that I was really challenged trying to work outside for long lengths of time as the heat from the sun was really bothering me. I "borrowed" this idea from watching a neighbor work outside... So, Blaine and I spent several hours searching for a market umbrella that I could move around the yard as I worked. After driving around Seattle, we found my new umbrella at Fred Meyer (a few blocks from home)!

It works great and has really helped me make progress ~ well, when I'm not side-tracked working on a house project! :)

The SHELVES arrived!

Blaine and I bought cabinets for the new family room and the bedroom/office (basement remodel project) Memorial weekend at Ikea (no sales tax), but the shelves were out-of-stock. We got a raincheck and I called twice weekly with the same answer every time ~ still not here and we don't know when it will arrive... So frustrating! We moved everything back in downstairs (stacked in boxes) and Benjamin brought all his stuff home... And week after week, no shelves...

Last week, I finally talked to a manager that 'had a clue'. She was great! I checked in with her on Tuesday and the shelves were in stock. She apologized that the wait had been so lengthy and Ikea wanted to take care of me by offering me a $100 gift card (which I was able to use toward the cost of the shelves)! What a huge blessing!

We put Benjamin's shelves in right away, so he could finally put his things away. Saturday, Blaine and I spent several hours putting the books and home education and garden books/supplies away. It's finally feeling like the basement remodel will come to a close in the next couple of weeks and all the space will be useable!

The new bookcases. The room is still in process, but beginning to feel like 'our space'.

The majority of my home education curriculum, photo albums and gardening books!

Look! There is still room for more books on the gardening shelf!

And, with multiple home/garden projects going on ~ it's no wonder I'm having a challenge getting things done in a 'quick' amount of time... :)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

PEACE in His place...

Our church built a larger sanctuary over the past year to accomodate the growing numbers of people who are drawn to worship the Lord in that place. However, I struggle in the new building, due to its size (I feel like a very small fish in a huge ocean) and the accoustics are challenging to my nervous system (the bass guitar volume is unfortunately at a level I cannot tolerate, so I wait outside the building until the offering is taken and go inside to hear the Sunday morning message). Most Sundays, I do feel like an outsider (though I've visited another church - who doesn't do rock music - and it was louder and vibrated more than our church) and my emotions often get the best of me. Yet, the Lord revealed to me a few weeks ago that He is in this place and I can run to Him and feel the comfort, security and peace of His loving arms around me. The chapel (the old church), is open and no one has been using the space this summer. It's a glorious and wonderful treasure for my hurting heart and it is there that I find peace and rest AND the world doesn't seem quite so overwhelming to my spirit. I can spend time quietly in His presence ~ allowing His peace to completely envelope me. My thoughts are clear and I can pray. I can worship Him in song (though I wish I knew how to play the guitar). I am refreshed and reminded that My Heavenly Father loves me and cares for me. Here is my special place to share with you... Thank you Father. I love you!

"The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace." Numbers 6:24-26

"Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30

"You are awesome, O God, in Your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to His people. Praise be to God"
Psalm 68:35

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you." Psalm 32:8

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.' " Psalm 91: 1-2

"Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations." Psalm 90:1

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. " Psalm 23

"Then Jesus declared, 'I Am the bread of life. He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and He who believes in Me will never be thirsty.' " John 6:35

"I Am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit..." John 15:1-5a

"All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so the man of God may be throughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17

"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom His whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have the power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:14-21

Friday, February 1, 2008

Comfort Food!

I've been battling a virus for about two weeks and have dealt with laryngitis, fatigue and now a stubborn cough that doesn't want to completely go away... (though it is getting a little less intense with each day).

There is something so soothing about stirring tapioca pudding on the stovetop...

The final product... YUM!

The thing that has gotten me through each day (with a bit of a smile) is TAPIOCA PUDDING!

Classic Old Fashioned Tapioca Pudding
(by Bob's Red Mill ~ slightly modified; non-dairy with eggs)

1/3 cup Bob's Red Mill Small Pearl Tapioca
3/4 cup water
2 1/8 cups vanilla almond milk
pinch of salt
2 eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Soak small pearl tapioca in water for 45 minutes in a 1 1/2 quart saucepan. As soon as the tapioca begins to soak, combine the milk, salt and egg yolks. Place egg whites in a medium size bowl and set aside. Using a fork, beat the eggs yolks in the milk mixture. Let sit. (Letting these remaining ingredients sit on the counter to come to room temperature works best for the final product.) After the initial 45 minutes, add the milk mixture to the tapioca and STIR over medium heat until boiling. Simmer uncovered over very low heat for 15 minutes. Stir often. When your timer reaches 8 minutes left, BEAT the egg whites and sugar until soft peaks form. Fold approximately 3/4 cup hot tapioca mixture into the egg whites. Take this egg white mixture and fold into the hot tapioca in the saucepan. Stir over low heat for 3 minutes. Immediately pour into final container and let sit on the counter for 15 - 20 minutes. When cooled, stir in vanilla and store in refrigerator. Makes 3 1/2 cups.