There's Mail From Mom!

Wouldn't it be nice to have a letter from mom in the mailbox each time you checked it? Here's a place to check your mailbox for a heart-to-heart talk with mom...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Neal's Bakery...Mmmmm, it smells good here!

When I'm baking I think I love baking more than any of my household chores, but then when I'm sewing I think that's my favorite part of homemaking. This week I've spent my evenings finishing the handwork on a beautiful baby dress, (Adalyn gets this one!) but I've spent just as much time in the kitchen making wonderful baked goods and oh my, the house has had the most wonderful aroma. I love it when people at my door comment on how they could smell the warm breads before they got to the door!

Monday I made my usual batch of sourdough bread. They're getting better all the time. Practice does make perfect! The sourdough bread is what I'm allowed on my diet and one round loaf lasts me all week. (I even share some!)

Tuesday was the homemade wheat bread. It's for the children to have for healthy snacks. I'm not sure how healthy it is after they warm it and put butter and jelly or honey on it, but it's better than candy, that's for sure!

Then I decided to try a new recipe for Cinnamon Rolls that I got from the internet. They caught my attention because they looked like the good old fashioned cinnamon rolls that I love and because they made seven pans of rolls! Perfect! I can bake some for eating and put the rest in the freezer for mornings when I just want to make up a skillet of scrambled eggs with cheese and warm some cinnamon rolls. I could tell the frosting was maple frosting and we all love that.

I love to roll dough out on my breakfast bar, I love flour on my apron (and the floor), I love the feel of the dough under my hands. I believe that the only way to get good at breads (rather it is biscuits or yeast breads) is to make them and make them. The reason I believe this is you learn to know the feel of the dough--it will tell you rather it's going to be good or not! I know exactly when the biscuits are going to be perfect by the feel of the dough. Yeast breads are the same way.

It thrilled me to see seven pans of cinnamon rolls lined down the breakfast bar. Not only were they pretty everyone agreed they were the best cinnamon rolls that I had ever made. They even thought they were better than my copycat Cinnabun recipe!

Four of the pans went into gallon freezer bags and were put away for another breakfast and three of them stayed in the kitchen for sampling and breakfast on Saturday and Sunday.

If you want to try them here's the recipe link:

Then it was time for my next Spring Sunday dinner dessert. I dug out the Strawberry Cake recipe that I found last year. It is so yummy but very simple. You use a strawberry cake for your base and add jello, strawberries, etc. and then make a wonderful cream cheese frosting and put on it. Gary says that it runs a close second to Spice Cake with Caramel Frosting, which has always been his favorite. Now that's saying something!

So, that's the news from Neal's bakery for this week. We've been told that about 400-700 dump trucks will be going by our house as they carry the ash sludge out and I told the family I'm seriously considering putting a sign out in front of the house advertising what I've baked that day with the cost per serving and offer it with a nice hot cup of coffee. Who knows I might get rich off of something I love to do! :)

When I became a wife I decided to be the best I could possibly be at every facet of my job. So I've worked hard at learning to do the highest quality job I could afford to do rather it was laundry, cooking, cleaning, homeschooling, decorating or sewing. I often tell my children how wonderful and varied my chosen calling and "career" is. I wouldn't trade it for anything in the whole wide world.

So, what's going to be baked at your house this week? Put on your apron and give your family something to enjoy. You'll be glad you did!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Trusting Him in the dark...

Today is one of those days when I have to shut myself off to human feelings and rely completely on the fact that if the Lord says something to me it is true. I often think of my dad talking how a pilot must learn to trust his instrument panel and not his feelings if he gets disoriented while flying.
Sometimes the events of life are crushing to our emotions. Emotions are just as much a part of our depraved humanity as the body of flesh and bones or the mind. They can get wounded or damaged and when that happens we must lean with all our might on the words of our Beloved Saviour. If He says He is with me always, He is- rather I can sense His presence or not.
One of my favorite verses that the Lord gave me through my years of depression was this, -"Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness and hath not light? let him trust in the name of the Lord , and stay upon his God." (Isa. 50:10)
I'm reading The Hiding Place aloud to the children and every time I read it I remind myself that I should read it more often than I do. We must learn to trust God that He is good all the time. He is good when we feel wonderful and blessed and He is good when we cannot begin to understand what He is doing in our lives.
As I read it I am reminded that if He asks me to go through a dark place He will enable me to walk through that dark place. I don't have to try to toughen myself up for it or prepare myself for it. All I need to do is lean hard on Him as we walk through it together. I must take the initiative to obey and trust Him to give me the strength to obey.
Every time I obey by the power of the Spirit I have partaken of the life of Christ. This is the well of water He promised that would be springing up in us.
Many times when I pray I find myself getting upset emotionally as I bring seemingly impossible requests to the Lord. The Lord taught me a lesson through my 9 year old son about this. John was memorizing Phil. 4:6,7 in school and he asked me to explain what it meant.
I asked him if he ever worried about rather we would feed him. He said no. I asked him why and he said because he knew daddy took care of making sure we had food. I asked him if he ever worried about having clothes or a place to sleep. His answer again was no, that daddy made sure we had that.
I asked him if he really wanted something for his upcoming birthday would he be afraid to ask his dad for it. Of course, he said he wouldn't.
Then I told him that's how our heavenly Father wanted us to be. To trust Him just like we trusted our earthly fathers to care for us when we were children. Just to come to our Father and give him our concerns and request and then trust Him that He's going to take care of it for us.
Since I've explained that to John the Lord has reminded me to practice what I taught! When I go to pray and feel myself churning emotionally, I am reminded to pray, thank the Lord that He cares more about it than I do and then walk off and leave it with Him. He's going to take care of it because He said He is. That must be enough for me.
So today as I bring a friend to the Lord that just had almost half of her face removed because of cancer, andI bring my precious daughter with MS to the Lord, (with 5 small children and a new baby on the way), loved ones that seem to be straying further and further from their spiritual moorings, personal concerns and lots of little foxes that like to nibble at my vine, I know that I can come to the Lord and pour it all out on Him and He'll bear my burdens for me.
May I urge anyone reading this to let the Lord teach you through your sufferings to believe His every word as literally as they are written to us. No matter what rages around you in your circumstances that seems to make your case the exception don't believe your senses--believe the Word.
The result is the passage I call my "post-depression" verse- Song of Solomon 8:5-"Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?"
It's a wonderful place to be!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Yummy Muffins...

At each season change I pull the cookbooks out and begin to dig. I'm looking for old favorites and some new ones to try. Spring always has me digging out salad recipes, lighter desserts, recipes with ham, (Easter leftovers), and recipes with lots of color. Some of the tried and true that will be marching onto our plates will be Spring Strawberry Layer Cake, Lemon Torte, Quiche Lorraine, Iced Shortbread cookies, and homemade chicken strips.

This time I'll be looking for pea salad, some new breakfast rolls and muffins, new sandwiches to try and digging out the barbeque recipes because the grill is coming out of hibernation!

This week's "new recipe" was some wonderful muffins called Simply Sinful Cinnamon Muffins. John bought me a jumbo muffin tin for Christmas and so I've been on the quest for recipes that taste as good as Perkins restaurants muffins. This recipe was a definite "we'll be doing this again..and again...and again..." success.

Here's the link so you can print it off:

The recipe sounds complicated but it isn't. It also is one that you can play with. I used white chocolate chip morsels instead of cinnamon or butterscotch morsels. If you get a chance try out these delicious muffins. You're family will thank you.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Tea Cups and Dusting

Saturday is my cleaning day. I have a lot of glassware to dust. I inherited my love of glassware from both of my grandmothers. The town they lived in had two glass factories.

In his younger days my maternal grandfather had worked at one of the factories and brought home pieces to my grandmother. She would take me through her house and tell me the story behind each piece. Where she got it and how it came to belong to her. My favorites were the ones that she said, "I began housekeeping with this." Her first set of salt shakers now belong to my oldest daughter Niki.

My paternal grandmother collected teacups, teapots and Dutch boys and girls. I have a Dutch collection in my kitchen dedicated to her. Its first pieces were a little Dutch boy and girl I painted for her when I was about 5 and living in Kansas City.

Dusting for me is a little walk down memory lane and a time to pray for people who have given me some of my beautiful pieces of glassware. Though I'm at an age where I feel like I need to trim down what I have instead of acquiring more there are some pieces that I will treasure till I die. Not because of their value, but the value of the person who gave it to me.

As I dusted this morning I was a little more nostalgic than usual. It's a rainy day, we've battled the flu, my Alicia is not well with her all makes you introspective.

I dusted the tea cart and there was my tea set for children. It will go to my oldest granddaughter Mariah some day. I hope she has as many pleasant hours having tea with children as I have had with this tea set. My husband picked it up at an auction for a little bit of nothing. But oh, have we got joy from it that has no price tag it's so valuable. We load the tiered plate rack with little sandwiches, cookies and fruits or cheese and make cambric tea for the children and let them feel like they are at the fanciest tea room in the country--Grandma Tami's!

Then came my tea cups from my Grandmother Nelle--my paternal grandmother. I thanked the Lord for her influence in my life as I dusted the delicate bone china cups.

She had a long shelf in her kitchen lined with beautiful teacups and teapots. She loved the ones in dark colors with gold on the inside or edges and she loved the footed cups. Her life was a hard one. My grandfather was a womanizer and moved to Florida with one of his women. In those days the person wronged had to sue for the divorce and my grandma never divorced him. She made the comment to me that just because he broke his vows didn't mean she had to break hers. She is a heroine in my life. Maybe the beautiful teacups and teapots gave her joy in the midst of a lonely, gray life.

When I got my first job I bought her a very expensive pink teapot with tiny roses on it. It was from Sadler, England. When she died my aunt remembered I had given it to her and brought it back to me. I always see my grandmother and her kitchen when I dust it.

Oh, and there's the cup and saucer that my mother gave me as my last birthday gift from her before she died. "Lord, please tell mother hello and that I miss her every day of my life."

Then there's the beautiful footed teapot with matching saucer that took so much of Asher's hard earned money to buy for me. "Lord, bless that boy with such a huge servant's heart. Take his gift of loving to give more than receive and use it for Yourself. "

And my teacup I bought in East Liverpool on our annual preaching week with our friends Chester and Barb. Barb and I loved to plunder in little shops and I want to always take home a memory of my time with them. East Liverpool is known for its fine clay and Fiestaware is made there. Also I believe the Hall pottery is made there. Imagine my delight when I found a beautiful deep blue teacup with the gold inside (my grandmother Nelle would have loved it) marked East Liverpool and at the grand price of $2.00! "Lord, bless our ministry friends as they walk the valleys and mountains for You."

There's the beautiful chintz teapot my daughter Niki gave me. The Victorian feel is there and I think of her, my writing daughter, curled up on a rainy day like today with pen in hand and the words just flowing. "Lord, thank you for a daughter that has given her talent to be used by You."

I lovingly dust a teacup and saucer with words etched on it. "Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him." Ps. 37:7. This cup was given to me by my older sister when I walked the horrible dark valley of depression. Now I look at it and think of my rambunctious child, the one who loved the outdoors, riding her bike, go-carting, activity-- fighting her battle with MS. Perhaps this teacup should be passed on to my daughter... "Lord, help my beautiful daughter Alicia to trust You even when she can't see You in the thick darkness..."

My latest teapot is Dutch but too beautiful and delicate to go to the kitchen. She is the queen of the teacart! Her head is thrown up to the sun and her big basket of flowers makes me long for the spring to come so I can smell the honeysuckle again in Tennessee. She was purchased on my last trip to Idaho. It was love at first sight. When I told Gary about what a beautiful Limoge teapot I'd found in a gift shop he didn't ask the price or why I wanted another teapot. He simply said, "You get down there tomorrow and get her shipped here." Oh Lord, thank You for such a loving, thoughtful husband. Thank You that we're still sweethearts and best friends after 35 years of marriage. Thank You that Your word does pay us back when we obey it."

And then I think of my Idaho children, isolated from the rest of the family as they walk in obedience to the Lord's calling. Lord, comfort and encourage them. Give them fellowship and "family" from You out there."

I have my odd shaped teapots. The one that is a copy of transferware was given to me by John and Cierra (via daddy) so they could have a part in mommy's tea room. "Lord, bless these late blessings you've brought into your lives and use them in a mighty way."

My last teacup I'll mention is a broken one. I've mended it more than once. Years ago we went into an old barn just filled with junk. The older four were little then and the boys went off with their daddy and the girls and I went our way. When we got in the van Nate handed me the most beautiful little teacup. It was missing its saucer, but it was so beautiful because it had a large rose on the front and the handle looked like the stem. He had 50 cents when we went in the barn and he had spent it all to get me a cup with my favorite flower on it. I remember being brought to tears by his being willing to spend everything he had to bring joy to his mother.

It's that delicate handle that got broken over the years but I just keep gluing it and the teacup has center stage in the china cupboard. Sometimes the lives of those that are most precious to us become broken. "Lord, only you can mend the broken lives and hearts and I'm counting on You to do that."

How thankful I am for the people that each teacup or teapot represents. It is good to know that God has given us family and friends to share those things we treasure and find joy in. It is good to bring them before the Father and talk about them, pray for them and thank Him for them.

It all makes dusting a joy!