Saturday, January 29, 2011


I was having my yearly chat with my dear friend Sarah last night, and she pointed out it's easy to follow my blog because I only post once a semester or so. *Sigh* In an effort to remedy that, she told me to blog my life as it happens, which I think would be depressing because nothing much ever happens. But, I told her, the other day I *did* walk into the Verizon store to see what we can do about our pathetic languishing in telecommunicational purgatory. The answer was not much, and in the process I learned I appear hopelessly aged to anyone under 30.

It started when he asked to see my cell phone, which, I explained to Sarah, has a calculator and not much else.

"Well," protested Peter, "When you got it, you were all happy it had a color display...."

The man has a knack for cutting off an argument with the facts.

Anyway, upon seeing my phone, the hip young thang behind the counter decided he had to talk v-e-r-y slowly and deliberately so that I could understand him. If I wanted to ditch my landline and maintain internet connectivity, I would need to tether a smart phone to my computer.

At that point, he had no clue that I was being very restrained in not asking him to just tell me the bottom line. He patiently and painstakingly explained I needed to download an app to be able to connect my computer through my phone.

"An app....." he looked hesitatingly at me. "....A special...application. Like...a little program that you put on your phone stuff."

Never mind. I'll just take my senile self down the street to the Mac store. Yeah. I bet they can hook me up!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Tabernacle in Gingerbread

This is what we've been up to this Christmas season:

Here's the outer courtyard with wash basin, altar of burnt offering, and the Holy Place and Most Holy Place. Lucy did the wash basin, but, sadly, I don't have a good picture of it.A closer look at the Holy Place and Most Holy Place.The Holy Place with table for the showbread, the altar of incense and the lampstand.
The Most Holy Place. Cherubim on the Ark of the Covenant by Edmund.
Altar of Burnt Offering.
These are the recipes we've been using for two generations in our family for gingerbread fun at Christmas. We've never made a Tabernacle before, however. It just so happens that a scale model puts the Holy Place and Most Holy Place together at 30 centimeters, or about the length of a standard ruler. The width and height are 10 centimeters each. The outer courtyard is 100 centimeters by 50 centimeters (that's a little over a yard by half a yard).

Gingerbread for Men or Houses
Bake at 350F for 15 minutes.

1/3 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar, packed
12 oz. (1 1/2 cups) dark molasses
2/3 cup cold water
7 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda (aka bicarbonate)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix shortening, sugar and molasses thoroughly. Stir in water. Sift remaining ingredients together and stir in. Chill dough. Heat oven to 350F. Roll dough 1/2 to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut shapes. Bake at 350F for 15 minutes, switching racks halfway through baking. When done, no imprint will remain when touched lightly with finger.
Royal Icing for Gingerbread House Construction

1 pound sifted confectioner's sugar
3 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract (I always use 1 teaspoon lemon juice)
drop of water at a time to reach desired consistency. (When I use the lemon juice I never need the water.)

Beat well, approximately 6 minutes.

Makes enough for one batch of gingerbread houses.

When we make houses, we cut from a pattern using a 3X5 card for a roof and a card cut to 2 1/2 by 5 for sides. From that, you can cut ends that match the height of the sides and form a point where the roof meets. It's fun and easy to do, and they're really cute! :)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Favorite Things?

I was asked today, on two separate occasions, what my favorite holiday is and what my favorite Christmas hymn or poem is. Since I am looking forward these days to November and all the fun it holds for our family (three birthdays and Thanksgiving!), I thought I'd share my answers here. Not that you care much, but.... At any rate, this blog post is helping me procrastinate. Of course, you'd never do that, either.

Favorite holiday: it's a toss-up. Around this time of year, I say Thanksgiving. Around Easter, I say Resurrection Sunday. I love them both, but Resurrection Sunday probably would win in a dead heat, since I gave my heart to my Savior on that day. Besides, Lucy was born around then, too.

Incidentally, I also like to celebrate Purim, the Jewish festival remembering the book of Esther.

No, I'm not Jewish. At least, I wasn't born that way.

Favorite Christmas hymn? Hands down, it's Good Christian Men, Rejoice. That's good stuff.

Finally, my favorite Christmas poem follows below. Now the Holy Days may commence! (Feel free to share your faves, too, in the comments.)

Let the Stable Still Astonish.
by Leslie Leyland Fields

Let the stable still astonish.
Straw–dirt floor, dull eyes,
Dusty flanks of donkeys, oxen;
Crumbling, crooked walls;
No bed to carry that pain,
And then, the child,
Rag-wrapped, laid to cry
In a trough.
Who would have chosen this?
Who would have said: “Yes,
Let the God of all the heavens and earth
Be born here, in this place?
Who but the same God
Who stands in the darker, fouler rooms
Of our hearts
And says, “Yes,
Let the God of Heaven and Earth
Be born here –
In this place.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Falling Star

My beloved country is dropping from its place of pre-eminence like a meteor. Over the past few months, I have felt the peculiar sensation of watching and being unable to prevent a nasty fall.

Michael Medved once wrote, "America is bizarrely blessed." He was right. For decades our crops never failed. There was abundance in our homes and our lives. Our innovation was unparalleled in the world. People from around the globe wanted to live here in freedom, security, and plenty. Even the poorest among us have clothes to spare and cellphones, for heaven's sake.

Recently, though, it's plain to see that the crown of blessing has been removed. When I woke up this morning and saw this report, I trembled at the implications of it for our military and our security. It's one more piece chronicling our tumbling decent on the world's stage. Never mind that the leakers themselves owe their freedom to those they put at risk. If we lived in a different nation, they'd be carting rocks around in the gulag right now.

Perhaps that's closer than we know.


Back in March, Edmund and I accepted delivery of 21 chicks. We ordered hens—pullets, the chicken-before-the-egg scenario. We dreamt of their lovely eggs-to-be, and cleaned a lot of foul mess from wherever they roamed. Remember? Here are the fruits of our labor.
Pretty, aren't they? Yum! They have richly-hued golden yolks that stand up firmly in the pan, and we're getting a nice variety of colors. The white ones you see above are for contrasting ours with extra-large store eggs. Ours are tiny because our hens are still so young.

Somewhere along the way, one little miss became a bully. She'd peck at the others, boss them around, and pull their feathers out. She was turning into the most beautiful of the bunch, but was undoubtedly the wickedest. Edmund and Lucy dubbed her Jezebel after the beautiful-yet- evil Biblical queen. We wondered what to do to tame her. We put her in time-out. We tried to calm her down. By mid-June, she was a full head taller than the rest. Could it be that she was a he?
At the end of June, Jezebel let out one tortured crow followed by a clear "Cock-a-doodle-doo!" and we knew for sure that "she" wasn't. All that bullying suddenly made a lot more sense, and we began to look for a new moniker. Ahab? Eggburt? Jeze-Bill?

For the record, we still call him Jezebel. The way he treats his harem, I think he deserves it.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Read through the Bible three times a year.

For many years, I have used a one-year Bible reading plan. I've done a number of them, but my favorite was a chronological plan dividing the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, in the order in which the events occurred. There are other chronological plans for reading through in the order the books were written, or reading chronologically from both the Old Testament and the New Testament simultaneously, but I really enjoyed starting in Genesis and ending in Revelation, reading the applicable psalm or prophet while I read through the historical books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles.

Reading straight through the Bible gives you a good sense of the Bible as an entire book, cohesive from start to finish. It boosts your understanding of God's plan and puts everything in context. Unfortunately, I tossed my favorite plan when I started the Old Testament/New Testament type of chronological plan, and I foolishly never saved a copy to the computer.

This year, Peter decided that he wanted to try B90X. We began in January. He finished, I didn't. At present, my goal is just to finish a day ahead of Peter on his second time through. I consistently only have time for 10 pages of the Bible a day, not 12, so I get discouraged and occasionally I skip days. That really messes me up, so I decided to create my own 120 day plan. My Bible is 1196 pages—easy to divide, and I ended up with very few split chapters.

I am happy with it, though eventually I hope to put the psalms and prophets in their correct places in the historical narrative.

You can download it here. Happy reading!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Somethings Just Take Time.

The garden is tilled, hilled, and partially planted. Now we just wait. Fortunately, the start of one project is the end of another. I am so glad the chickens are enjoying the great outdoors.

Pretty flock, don't you agree? The bonus is that they are used to being handled now, and gentle enough to interact with as needed, making clean-up an easier proposition. This week, we are moving their run to a more open area beside the garden in an effort to better protect them from coons and possums.

I hope we'll add some bees in the next month or so. Stay tuned. (I love Spring!)