No Better Time To Know My Maker

DSC03723Our home, our dear, sweet nine-hundred-ish square foot apartment. We thought you were beautiful in the summer and fall when the leaves glowed bright forest greens then blazed with autumn burgundy. But how good it’s been to share, and retreat, and grow, and host inside these new walls as we are greeted by this blustery winter wind.

I normally love to sit at our kitchen table. It’s where I go once I’ve made tea and breakfast, and I read my bible or journal before starting my work day. Usually I don’t sit on the couches. To me, they are a black hole. They are once-you-sit-down-you-won’t-get-up taunters. So I usually sit at the table be it morning, lunch or afternoon. But this afternoon I’m getting sucked in. With a restaurant memoir and the prospect of a comfort food dinner…because it’s my birthday. From these cuddly couches I now watch our white wonderland unfold, and I am grateful for another year to love and serve and know my Maker. DSC03719DSC03722Every year my birthday draws me to spend some special alone time with Him for the purpose of reflecting, praying and thanking. He, after all, created me and I love Him so. It grounds me each year to look back in awe and forward with hope, and more importantly to think of others on a day we are “allowed” to self-center. Many things change as we age and grow, loose and love, plan and do, but one of my prayers has not changed since I was fourteen. Each year it is: “Till I only dwell in Thee”. DSC03729

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What To Do With Loneliness, Literally

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 2.53.19 PMIt comes in different forms, doesn’t it? Loneliness. One woman’s joy, could be another woman’s struggle. I’m seeing it two ways: There are subjective experiences which can prompt loneliness…

…the empty nester

…..the stay at home mom with an infant

…….the independent young adult moved away from home

…………moving to a new city

………..the extrovert with an open schedule

And then there are objective experiences, which are across the board for most women…

…the loss of a spouse, child, friend

…..a spiteful comment

……..exclusion from community

……….the rebellion of a child

………..desiring children

…………long distance dating

…………..the ending of a relationship

……………a diagnosis from the doctor

But common to both subjective and objective loneliness is that we have all been there!

So, what to do with it?

The following are not my own words, but rather of a woman far more qualified. Elisabeth Elliot is a beloved author who herself endured many trials among which are losing two spouses, raising an infant in the jungle, and bearing the burdens of thousands through her ministry over the course of her life. Number IV and VII are my favorite. Here are her thoughts:

I. Be still and know that He is God. When you are lonely, too much stillness is exactly the thing that seems to be laying waste your soul. Use that stillness to quiet your heart before God. Get to know Him. If He is God, He is still in charge.

II. Remember that you are not alone. “The Lord, He it is that goes with you. He will never fail nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage.” (Duet. 31:8) Jesus promised His disciples. “Lo, I am with you always.” (Matt. 28:20) Never mind if you cannot feel His presence. He is there, never for a moment forgetting you. 

III. Give thanks. In my times of great loneliness I have been lifted up by the promise of 2 Corinthians 4:17,18, “For this slight and momentary trouble is preparing for us an eternal glory beyond all comparison.” This is something to thank God for. This loneliness itself, which sees a weight, will be far outweighed by glory.

IV. Refuse self-pity. Refuse it absolutely. It is a deadly thing with power to destroy you. Turn your thoughts to Christ who has already carried your griefs and sorrows.

V. Accept your loneliness. It is one stage, and only one stage, on a journey that bring you to God. It will not always last. 

VI. Offer up your loneliness to God. God can transform it for the good of others.

VII. Do something for somebody else. No matter who or where you are, there is something you can do, somebody who needs you, so that where there is loneliness you can bring joy. (I wrote more on this one here)

I return to this practical “guide” whenever I need it or know of someone who needs it. May it be a gift and tool for you as well!

from Passion and Purity; pgs.79&80

photo credit: here

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Weekend Viewing

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A brief clip from Britian’s most qualified and experienced nannies, Brenda Ashford. I’ve just finished her biography A Spoon Full of Sugar… nothing short of a delight from front to back.

Deciding on some art for our living room wall. I keep trying to convinced my husband on this one. Please!

My favorite site for crock pot recipes. It’s a busy site, but if you know what you’re looking for (i.e. the hearty man’s chili I made yesterday), you find there’s something for everyone!

Because I have everything in the pantry for these pumpkin hummus quesadillas, they are going to be in my belly this weekend.

So excited for Robin’s Pre-Holiday Pilates!

Pumpkin Seeds, Three Ways. Yumm!!

My costume party look tonight, minus the Thoroughbred and black skirt.

Have a wonderful weekend, friends.

photo credit: here

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The Comfort Biscuit

DSC03609_2My best friend is from cozy, quintessential New Brunswick. I went to visit for two weeks one summer and became acquainted with all things East Coast with a touch of the British Common Wealth…and loved it. As a part of our wedding gift, Lori gave me a few recipes, one of which was for “Don’t Twist Your Biscuits”. Below is my adapted recipe for those days I am craving a comfort-food biscuit with a healthy…twist.  DSC03621_2A Twist on Don’t Twist Your Biscuits

3 cups all purpose flour

1 tablespoon honey

1/3 cup melted coconut oil

4 tablespoons baking powder

1 egg (or I have used a 1/4-1/2 cup yogurt depending on moisture)

1 cup buttermilk (milk with a dash of white vinegar) (and more if needed)

I also added an optional handful of chopped herbs (rosemary, thyme, oregano)DSC03628Preheat the oven to 425.

With a pastry cutter (or two knives), cut all ingredients together.

On a floured surface, knead until you can bring together the dough together in a large round.

Roll out on a floured surface to about 3/4 inch thick (mine pictured were a hair too thin). Cut into cylinders using the top of a mason jar or a glass (But don’t twist! As the original recipe says;)

On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, bake for 20 (ish) minutes.

Serve warm with butter and a dash of molasses, or with a chili dinner–as we did!DSC03639_2The

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Splendid Peach Ginger Smoothie

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This smoothie was a what’s-in-the-freezer-and-fridge creation. It has the loveliest pastel lime color because of a sneaky handful of baby spinach, but it’s the ginger and peach combination that make it just splendid. I’ve had this for dessert and breakfast several days in a row!

Ginger Peach Smoothie

1/2 cup greek yogurt (original)

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

handful frozen peaches (frozen give it the smoothie consistency)

handful baby spinach

about 2 teaspoons honey – I eyeball this amount

about 3/4 teaspoon grated ginger (fresh or frozen) – I eyeball this amount also

Blend until smooth and enjoy while it’s still cold!

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What To Do With Loneliness

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My mom answered the phone in her cheery and way, “Sweety! It’s so good to hear from you!” All I could burst out between sobs was, “I’m so lonely, I don’t know how I’m going to get through this summer.” Two weeks earlier I had arrived to be a summer teen counselor at a large and very beautiful camp in Lake Country Ontario. From the first day everyone was cheerful and welcoming, but with staff and campers numbering over a thousand, I felt totally out of place.

They say when you’re homesick not to call home too much, and I knew that I just had to shake the increasing weight of loneliness I was experiencing. To me everyone looked as though they belonged, had friends, fit in. But oddly enough, once I shared how I was feeling I learned that I wasn’t alone in that feeling…even amongst those who looked on the “in”!

Determined to fulfill my role that summer, I took my loneliness and turned it into something I could give back. I was there first and foremost to counsel, befriend, and serve those high school girls. So that’s what I did. Every time I felt a hint of sadness, I walked with them to dinner. Every time I felt like I didn’t have a place, I went back to the cabin to see if anyone needed to talk. Every time I wanted to pity myself, I threw myself all the more into pouring myself out.

And it was like medicine.

Rather than being engulfed in loneliness I threw myself all the more into giving of myself as Christ did. Oddly enough, I was awarded the girls “Counselor of the Summer” (which is not the point of the story). But at the end of a hard yet rewarding fourteen weeks, I saw how God blessed a small act of obedience by freeing me from loneliness.

The greater the potential for loneliness, sadness, and out-of-placeness, the greater the potential for fruitful, peaceful, joyful living.

photo credit: ignitelight

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Blondie Tea Cake

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Oh my…right smack dab in the middle of that Blondie Cake are two chopstick sized testing holes. Missed that one amidst  grading over 50 midterms, quizzes and final assignments. I just needed a break from the mundane! Is this tasty little tea cake ever yummy. Dipped like a biscotti, with the texture of brownie, this treat settled our sweet tooth right away.

Blondie Tea Cake

6 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

Pinch salt

1 cup cake and pastry flour (all-purpose is ok too)

1/2 unsweetened shredded coconut

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped semi-sweet squares

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

  1. Coat an bread loaf pan with a non-stick ingredient (I use coconut oil on a paper towel).
  2. Mix melted oil with brown sugar and beat until smooth, then beat in the egg and vanilla.
  3. Add salt, stir in flour. Add shredded coconut and chocolate (or anything else you may find tasty!).
  4. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until set. Cool before cutting.

adapted from Smitten Kitchen 

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Weekend Viewing

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What another lovely week it’s been. While raining most days in our neck of the woods in Ontario this week, it has still been wonderful to get outside for a brisk walk and enjoy every bit of Fall. Jordan and I are pumping ourselves up for winter with the occasional, “We really have to make the most of this winter, ok?” or “Let’s try to remember all the good things about winter….hot cocoa, reading books, fires, snow shoeing…” But for now it’s still cider and apples and Thanksgiving and foliage (sigh). Enjoy your weekend!

Help Stop the Spread of Ebola, spread the word!

A beautiful post on praying into your “marriage mission”

Fall Produce Guide…so beautifully done

How to plan the right amount of food for a dinner party

Killing your $1000 grocery bill, good tips on how to cut back and grocery shop below your means.

The updated British Mini Series Guide

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A British Mini Series Update

land girlsCalling all Britophiles! And yes, there is such a term. There are a few additions to the British Mini Series Guide, so be sure to check it out!

The best part about this post, however, is that I’m about to give away the biggest and best secret I know to seeing these series as they come out in Britian. It is legit…I’m sure…I hope, and I just can’t keep it to myself any longer! Visit Simply June to view several recent and popular British series that are listed in the guide and also not listed here (If it’s not listed, it’s because I either haven’t seen it/am not sure of the content, or have and decided to not endorse or recommend it for reasons of preference or content). June is passionate about advocating for victims of violence or abuse, and shares about it here.

Have you seen any recently that you’ve enjoyed?

Enjoy!

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I Was Afraid To Make Bread

DSC03555This post is about homemade bread. Not because I am so thrifty and DIY. In fact, it’s the opposite. Making things from scratch kind of scared me. “I can’t do that!” or “It takes too long!” or “That’s only for the pros!” But when I made soup stock or bread for the first time I thought, “Wow, that was easy. What was the big deal.” I felt like superwoman…it was awesome.

I understand that blogging can give the appearance of being cool and having amazing abilities and talents beyond the average woman. I say that, because I’ve thought that about blogs I love and women I admire. Wow, homemade deodorant? Four kids and homeschooling? Amazing photography AND amazing food?

While I love to cook, to learn, to take my time in the kitchen, I am a novice [I’m also not a photographer but if I’m going to include photos, I try to put some effort into making it pleasing to the eye!]. So this post about homemade bread is more about saying, “You can do it!” and not here’s yet another thing you haven’t tried.

Maybe it’s not bread for you, maybe it’s paying bills or hanging those pictures…sewing that button back or knitting mittens…writing that email or learning to braid your daughter’s hair. Small things that have a huge-heart-swelling effect.

BREAD (makes one medium loaf, I double for a large loaf)

1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast

1 1/2 cup warm water

3 1/2 flour

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

Cornmeal or flour for dusting

FIRST: In a large bowl dissolve water and yeast. Add flour and salt and mix until blended and looks shaggy. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 8 -18 hours at room temp. DSC03532SECOND: Scrape from bowl(s) and place on well-floured counter. Fold in half, lightly flour, then fold again. DSC03534THIRD: On a clean towel, lightly sprinkle cornmeal/flour and place dough on the towel. Lightly sprinkle again and place another clean towel on top. Sit for one hour. DSC03544FOURTH: Preheat oven to 475. Place a heavy dutch oven (or oven-safe pot) in for about 15 minutes while preheating. Next, carefully (it’s hot!) line with parchment paper and place the dough in the pot (see picture). Bake for 30 minutes covered, then 20 minutes uncovered. The bread is done when you knock on it with your knuckles and it sounds hollow.DSC03551FIFTH: Slice, butter, and enjoy. Slice and freeze. Or simply admire! DSC03554

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