Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Time of Peace

(The following is an excerpt from One-Minute Prayers for Women)

Choosing Peace

If it is Possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

~Romans 12:18~

Lord, I long for Your peace in my soul. I wish to draw it in and release it to others. Where I have a chance to act out Your peace, please let me be strong and brave. Conflict is easier sometimes. It allows me to build barriers between me and another, or between me and the right way. But there is little comfort when I stand alone, indignant on one side of the wall.

May I meditate on Your Word so that it rises to my mind in place of angry and defensive language. Peace flows from You and into my life. I know its power to change behaviour and remove blindness. Grant me the opportunity to share this gift.


I completely stand humbled this evening. This devotional made me stop and reflect on my attitude and my daily-outlook. I long for peace. I long for a life filled with strength, hope and peace. So why then do I find myself so caught up in 'stuff' on a daily basis? Why do I tend to dwell on the little insignificant moments of life and not on the moments that create a beautiful liveliness?

Living at peace with myself and with where I'm at in life will allow me to share this peace with those around me! I pray that I can accept and act on this peace that God grants us. When I can, I pray that I can show those around me how wonderful His peace is!

 May you find peace this week...and be able to share it with others! I know I am going to try!!


Thanksgiving Re-cap!

I know it seems a little late, but I was blessed enough to have a short vacation after Thanksgiving Day with my husband, so here is a little snippet of my Thanksgiving day!


What a special day! It was filled with family, quality time spent together, and new memories to last a lifetime!

The first part of our visit was spent preparing the meal and visiting. I had the chance to see some family that I haven't seen in several years...it was such a wonderful time! As the food was set at the table, we all sat and enjoyed a wonderful and delicious meal.

After our dinner, we did our 'Turkey Wattle' 5K walk. It was dark, cool, and damp, but extremely fun! For three-quarters of the walk I held my baby cousin who fell asleep in my arms; talked to family for the entire time...I couldn't have asked for a better end to a beautiful day!

Our 5k 'Turkey Wattle' walk participants!

 There is so much to be thankful for. No matter what we find ourselves in-the-midst-of or overwhelmed by, there is always a reason to give thanks! I hope you had a blessed Thanksgiving Day!!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Blessings

 Thanksgiving Day Prayer

We take so much for granted
of life and liberty,
and think that we deserve it;
that all was done "for me."

Think how they must have struggled,
 new pilgrims in this land.
So many died from hardships
yet still they made a stand.

When all the work was finished,
new crops sowed in the ground,
they gathered with their neighbors,
asked blessings all around.

Oh, God, help us be grateful
for gifts you've sent our way.
For these we want to thank you
on this Thanksgiving day.

~Kris Ediger~

Thanksgiving is a special day we have set aside to stop, reflect, and acknowledge how very blessed we are. It's a time too, filled with family, a BIG meal, a parade, and for some, football. This year my family is even choosing to do a 5K walk: the Turkey Waddle! 

Along with our walk, we are indeed going to enjoy the traditional Thanksgiving day meal. My dad is smoking a turkey, my grandma and mom are doing the sweet potatoes, salad, potatoes, and my sisters and aunt are making pies and desserts...and I am in charge of the stuffing, home-made cranberry sauce, and a pecan pie cookie.

 I made a simpler stuffing this year...one that you put into the crock pot and let it cook on low for 4-6 hours! That's it! You don't have t babysit it, use the oven or stove or microwave, which frees up time and quite a bit of space for everything else. It smells sooo good!

The cranberry sauce was extremely exciting! This is the first time I've made it from scratch and this recipe adds some pizazz and spice, which will be particularly yummy on left-over turkey sandwiches! It's Bobby Flays Sweet and Spicy cranberry sauce. It has onions, ginger, a Serrano pepper, honey, cilantro, and lime zest. I can't wait for sandwiches...but it might be equally delicious just as a side to dip the turkey or roll in!!

 The Pecan Pie cookie is a new one but my dad loves pecan pie so I thought I'd give it a try. It has a nut shortbread cookie crust and a topping of maple caramel, nuts and chocolate! They were messy and time consuming, but they look good!

And, as a side note, I used the remainder of the nuts to just candy. Candied nuts are delicious on salad!! You simply place 1 cup of nuts into a skillet with 1/4 cup of white sugar. Over medium high heat, stir the nuts and sugar until the sugar melts, coating the nuts, and browning slightly. Remove immediately and spread onto a parchment lined tray. When cool, break them into small pieces and serve!

(With all this delicious food we will be sharing, our walk may indeed be a waddle, ha!!)

No matter how you choose to spend the day, I pray the main focus is on thankfulness for all we have and can do, for those who fought and struggled in order for us to enjoy our freedoms and advancements, and to our Lord who makes all things possible! Blessings surround us always so lets take some time to give thanks for them!


Monday, November 19, 2012

Date Night

These last several days...okay, this entire week, have been a whirl-wind of obligations, commitmnets, and, yes, emotions! We have trudged through but are in some serious need of a moment together; to breath, talk, and relax in eachothers presence. Something we haven't had the opportunity to do. So, we chose to have a date night. We cleared the evening, turned off electronic devices and focused on eachother! 

As some may already know, our favorite 'date-night' meal is sushi. For me, I think it's because once I make the sushi rice and the asian slaw, I'm done! Cam makes the rolls, sears the tuna, prepares the miso soup, and makes a magnificient cucumber salad (as a tribute to our very beloved seaweed salad at the restaurants)! When it's all done, it really is quite a feast! And the best part is, with a combined effort (and the fact Cam enjoy's making sushi!) we can make this meal in an hour...and the outcome is so worth the time commitment!
This time of year, especially, can beome so full of  responsibilites, commitments, and engagements that may seem out of our control. It's easy to do. I know! But we have to remember to always take a day, several hours, or several moments each day to refocus on the relationships that mean the most to us; helping them grow stronger and more secure. A date night is a perfect way/excuse to incorporate it into your week!

Cam lost a friend this last weekend so we are even more attune to just how precious life, and all it's relationships, are. Not to be negative Nancy here, but life is extrememly precious and far too short. We never know just when our time may be finished here on earth. Let's commit to make the most of what we have; live everyday like we don't know what lies ahead (which we don't really)...not only for ourselves but for the betterment of those around us - those who need help as well!


Friday, November 16, 2012

Let's Go Skiing!

Snow has reached the high desert of Oregon. We experienced our first snow of the season a few days ago; being blessed with a good 3 or 4 inches of this precious white gift. The air was still and smelled so pure and clean. I sat on our porch, bundled up in wool blanket and with a BIG cup of coffee and just experienced  it; pure, simple, and enchanting.

After my coffee, we took our dogs for a walk through our open, snow-filled field. As they ran through the field, they dipped their heads and drug their darling noses through the snow; scooping it up like a shovel and as as if it were meant just for them. It was precious and almost as beautiful as our surroundings!

But this time of year - filled with family and friends - can also present a time of stress for many of us. Is the food prepared? Do we have enough room for guests? Is the house clean? Can we please everyone...really?! It's hard. I get it...trust me, I do!

Even during this blessed snow, I was beginning to become overwhelmed by everything I had to do to make everyone happy with me. To be honest, it was extremely discouraging because I realized I couldn't do everything for everyone without leaving someone out. So in my state of utter-helplessness (which was completely self-imposed...I know), Cam tried to cheer me up. He surprised me with a little gift. Now I know things don't make everything OK, nor do they solve problems, but this present was so extremely thoughtful I couldn't help but be flattered and cheerful!

He gave me three wood-carved snow birds. Each of them is posed and ready to go skiing...since I LOVE to cross-country ski, I decided that's what they were doing! :-)

They are so extremely cute that I couldn't help but smile and laugh when I opened the perfectly wrapped box! The most precious thing about this gift was what had spurred it. Cam could tell I was stressed with everything that has been going on. But he said that when he passed by this shop, he thought of me and couldn't help himself, so he brought them home for me! That was the sweetest thing to me...he didn't spend much but this little gesture reminded me of just how simple life is.
It's easy to get caught up in family, friends, perfection, holiday spirit, and all things that come along with this time of year and we can easily forget what it's really about. Thanksgiving and Christmas are times to be filled with family and friends, yes, but it's a time to be thankful and to acknowledge just who we are to be thankful to.  

So when we become overwhelmed with the things-to-be-done, we need to remember what is important. Christ, family, and friends. We are who Christ made us to be: nothing more, nothing less. Though we can't fulfill all expectations, if we listen, God will lead us where we need to be this season. Trust in Him and everything will work out! I'm definitely going to be working on this!!

Is this helpful? How are you dealing with Thanksgiving and holiday stresses? I'd love to hear!!


Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Embracing the Unknown

Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.
~Psalm 25:4-5~

Father in heaven, You see all that takes place in my life. Know this gives me peace as I face transition. I exchange my uncertainty for Your promise of security. Open my eyes to the wonders of every turn, tangent, and seeming detour I encounter. I don't want to miss a miracle by starting a new journey diminished by regret, pride, or misplaced longing. I want to long for You. For the path You carve out for me.
Remove the blinders from my physical and spiritual eyes, Lord. I want to see the beauty of the landscape You have built around me. And I want to savor the opportunity that rests on the horizon. As I face a new direction, this time my heart flutters with excitement and not with worry. I am eager to see what You have in store for me. I accept Your provision, Lord.

(Excerpt taken from One-Minute Prayers for Women)

This is how Cam and I are feeling today...so much goes on each day that requires our attention and change. At times we doubt; how could this really be the direction we are to take? And other times it feels like: how could we have possibly doubted you Lord?!

What we need to work on is our ability to listen. It's important to us to go through our days doing what we think God is asking of us. But what we need to remember is this: we need to focus on Him and His direction to truly grasp the opportunities He provides us with each and every day.

So as we move through the rest of the week, try to acknowledge those moments in our "ordinary days" that may be more than just ordinary. Perhaps these moments are of God and we need to recognize them and work with them.

I hope this helps you through the rest of your week ahead!


Monday, November 12, 2012

The Last Bit of Summer: Preserved

 Having completely crossed over into autumn (finally, weather-wise, day-light-wise, and everything else beautiful that comes along with it) I know for sure that the flavors my garden provided me with in recent months has come to an end...sadly. In my haste to beat the dropping temperatures, I picked every green tomato left on the vines of my slowly wilting tomato bushes. I brought them in, placed them on a bench, flat and not touching each other, and hoped they would slowly ripen and fill my fall/winter days with the enticing flavors or a perfectly ripe tomato.

Since that day, feeling like so long ago, Cam and I have been enjoying fresh heirloom tomatoes for breakfast (on eggs:-), lunch, and dinner! But  as I gazed out at that tomato bench sitting in my garage, I've noticed how MANY tomatoes have decided to ripen at once. Now, I enjoy tomatoes, but even I have limits. I couldn't and can't keep up with them as the ripen and I can't bare to waste the bounty I was so blessed with - and knowing I'm out of canning jars and freezer space - I needed to come up with a new use for these beauties. I mentioned earlier I was going to try my hand at drying tomatoes. My first attempt failed but I wanted to try once more before I threw in the towl.

I pulled back out that beautiful piece of equipment my parents got in their first years of marriage....going on 35 years in March!!...and put it to work.

I sliced my tomatoes to about 1/4" thin and laid them out on the screen trays - designed for this particular dehydrator/smoker - turned the temperature to 130 degrees (respectively), turned on the fan, and let them go. I filled six trays of sliced tomatoes. After about 4 hours I would rotate the trays (moving them down consecutively) and removing the tomatoes when they were dry.

By the end of the day, I had successfully dried six sheets of sliced tomatoes - all slightly smoky since we've used this dehydrator for smoking things in the past - and ready to freeze. I've used a few in couscous and they are phenomenal! I love knowing I can preserve summer just a bit longer...we have all worked hard and diligently and deserve the chance to hold onto all we worked for!

How are you preserving summer? What have you found that works out best for you and your families needs? Share with us!! It's amazing to know we can help each other out...personal experience is how we learn!


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Dirt: Where a Gardeners Life Begins

If you stop to think about what makes your garden beautiful and productive, several things will come to mind: it requires time, dedication, care, love, good seed, diligence and some know-how. But if you stop to think about what makes your garden grow...it starts with your soil!
I love my compost - both worm and outside bin - and in the spring, before I plant, I always amend my soil with it. It gives the seedlings and new plants a healthy starting point. But I have also come to realize there are several things I could do to help the health of my soil before spring arrives. It even helps rid my grass of some of my yard waste. Enter, mulch.
Since winter is just around the corner, I decided to mow my grass and leaves (probably more of the latter ;-). What was deposited into my lawn-mower bag was beautiful grass and leaf mulch. Instead of adding it all to my outdoor composter, I decided to add it to the garden soil.
I simply emptied the contents (more times than I care to remember) directly onto my garden soil. After I was finished, I wanted to turn the soil under so the debris had a chance to mix with the earth helping decomposition along. I tilled the entire garden with our gas tiller. When I was finished, I raked it smooth.

For the next several months, I will allow a cover crop to grow (most likely weeds - just a crop that naturally sprouts this time of year). This, as well as the mulch I added, and the compost I will add again in the spring, will add an abundance of nutrients my soil needs to support my garden next year.

Gardening requires a lot but it all begins in the soil...the earth. When it is healthy, you will have a garden that can support you and provide you with more beauty than you can imagine!

Have fun with it! I did all this work yesterday and woke up to snow this morning!! The weather can change in an instant so work diligently to finish up! It'll pay off next year!!


Friday, November 9, 2012

Flock Into My Garden

In my garden, each season brings a special gift. Whether it is the pale green buds appearing after a cold winter; the first flowers of spring; the prospect and work of a vegetable garden and the anticipation of crops I will soon enjoy; the changing colors and smells as the days cool down and everything begins to hibernate, or simply the darker days that beg for tea and a cozy blanket! Whatever the season, I always have something to look forward to!

This time of year - like the beginning of spring - the birds begin to make their way back in search of food and shelter. In anticipation, I make sure each feeder is full, the houses are clean and the bushes are left for cover. I find ways to put out fresh water in my bird-bath each day when it freezes over and I make sure, nutritionally, the birds have adequate fats and proteins to make it through the winter ahead. I love the planning and work it requires, but I love the outcome. I am blessed with so many different types of birds each year...and I LOVE birds!!

Each fall, winter, and spring, I make sure my regular feeders (filled with the basic 'Song Bird Food' from your local store -  made of millet, sunflowers and nuts), suet feeders (generally I have several different kinds - berry, nut, high-energy, etc), and my thistle feeders are full and wait for them to arrive! I make sure that some of my garden's plantings produce berries to attract new varieties as well! Thus far, my Virginia Creeper has been the most popular. Last year, we spotted a lone woodpecker at our suet feeders. This year, that very same woodpecker variety has been a constant in our garden!! I have A Field Guide to Western Birds by Roger Tory Peterson, 1961 (I realize it may seem a little OLD, but birds don't change that much!), and it's what I use to see which birds are in my garden. This particular woodpecker (pictured above and at the beginning of the article) is a Red-Shafted Flicker or Gilded Flicker! They are beautiful, call a most unique call, and LOVE Virginia Creeper berries. I'm thrilled!!! I've spotted as many as five at one time lining my fence for a chance to steal a berry!

As for the rest, I occasionally see another Woodpecker, a Scrub Jay, Starling, but for the most part, my feeders are visited with Wrens, Chickadees (more so in the cold winter months), and Finches! They not only bless with me with their presence but they fill my days with their songs and their comical antics! I love just sitting with a cup of tea and watching them just 'be' at the feeders and in my garden. Such simplicity never looked so beautiful!

Invite them into your garden! Just a little seed, a little water, and patience will beckon them. When word gets around, you'll have more birds than you know what to do with!! These wonderful creatures provide an enormous amount of peace and a time for reflection we can all use! Take advantage of it and invite these wonderful creatures into your garden! As you watch them interact, play, and eat...it'll be hard to regret your invitation!

I hope you enjoy the birds as much as I do!! I can't wait to continue to find new species that find their way into my garden! What do you have? What do you do to attract them each year?! I have a good base and would love to expand on it with your help!!

Enjoy and have fun!!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Entering the Vintage Age!

As we perused through one of our local thrift stores with my most blessed guests - my mom & dad - Cam stumbled across something that intrigued and excited him; it was a set of 'vintage' intercoms! He thought that if they worked like the box claimed (!) it would solve the 'screaming and not hearing' issue we have in our two-story home. I could tell he was dieing to purchase these, and I was so caught up in the fact he was even IN the store with me, that I gave in and we purchased this Realistic Plug'n Talk 2-Station FM Wireless Intercom!
Within moments of our return home, Cam had plugged them in; one upstairs in our bedroom and the other downstairs next to the TV (I'll give you one guess as to who is where in our home :-)! And after a little tweaking we had communication!! They worked! 
We immediately began finding reasons to use them. I'd hit the 'call' button three or four times just to get a response. We would call each other just to say short little snippets or loving words when one would go into the other intercommed room. They are sooooo much fun!!!!!
If we were any younger, I think we'd play with them CONSTANTLY throughout the day ( I guess that tells you how mature we are, haha!).
Never underestimate the practicality of a 'vintage' item! Sometimes, the fun it brings is well worth the small price!!
Enjoy and step out and enjoy something new and different!!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Stepping Out

Today, after many recent work-related travels, we began to question our decisions on where and how we decided to establish ourselves, not only as a married couple, but also in our careers and life's work. We began to see opportunities we've passed up and chances we allowed to pass by because it would be difficult or different. We were almost overcome by a sense of regret and 'what if's'. This is what helped us through:

The First Step
In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.
~Proverbs 16:9~
I have great intentions, Lord. You know my heart carries with it many hopes and plans. Some have come to pass, and others I wait for with patience from You. But lately I sense my life shifting ever so slightly. One moment, my eyes are cast on a defined horizon, and in the next, they are peering at something hazy. Without my permission, without my foreknowledge, my true future emerges. You encourage my spirit to carry on.
Thank You, God, for letting me rest in the security of Your plans, not my own. Things change - sometimes so quickly that I lose my footing. But as I take the first step in a new direction, I know You are holding me upright and directing each step.
(Excerpt from One-Minute Prayers for Women)
There will always be something "better" on the other side of the fence, in the horizon, or in the distance. When we began to feel like we had missed out on opportunities in our life, and we read and reflected on this devotional, we realized that we are where we are right now for a reason. We need to make the most of it. If our dreams and intentions now are to come to pass, we can rest assured and take great strength from the knowledge that if, or when, newness comes our way, Christ will be with us directing us where we need to go!
It's easy to get caught up in the 'what-if's' in life, but if we can trust and rely on God, we will find our correct paths. And ultimately, happiness!
So, if you are finding yourself questioning where you are in life - which so many of us do - take hope in this verse. He will always be with us guiding us in the correct direction. We just have to listen and be willing to follow, wholeheartedly!
Have you had moments like that recently? What else helped you get through them? I'd love to hear about it!!