Thursday, November 1, 2012

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses!


I don't know who Jewel Diamond Taylor is, but she was quoted as saying "Excuses are your fears in disguise".  I think there is a lot of truth in that!  The one thing that we put off doing, using excuse after excuse, may be the one thing that God wants us to do in order to release us.  Is it possible the the one thing we justify not doing is what we need to do to step into the next phase of God's plan for our lives?   If you're reading this, will you pray with me that God will  help me to no longer live in fear but to step out in faith and trust in HIM?  No more excuses!


Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Fire Roasted Poblano Chili


Since we've discovered milk, corn and tomato allergies in the family I've been forced to become a bit more creative in my meal planning. One of my favorite meals to have in cold weather is chili. Alas and alack, tomatoes are the base of my recipe. So, I began searching for a tomato free chili, and Pinterest came to the rescue. I discovered Maid in Alaska's recipe for Tomato Free Chili with Fire Roasted Poblanos. Honestly, I thought that I would have to try several recipes before we found one to please everyone in the family. Happily that wasn't the case. This recipe (with only small changes to the original) has become our go to recipe for allergy free chili!

Tomato Free Chili with Fire Roasted Poblanos Recipe:

2 poblano peppers, roasted, peeled, and chopped (directions below)

2 lbs. organic ground beef

1 large yellow onion, chopped

5 garlic cloves, minced

4 teaspoons chili powder

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon Mexican oregano (if you don’t have Mexican oregano, you can use regular oregano)

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 can Ranch style pinto beans

32 oz. beef broth (she only used 2 cups, but we like ours to simmer a long time and not too thick)

salt & pepper to taste

To fire roast the poblanos:

Maid in Alaska's directions: Roast the poblano peppers directly on your grill or on top of your gas stove top burner (directly over the flame) until they are black and charred all the way around. Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to steam (this will sweat the skin and make peeling the peppers easier). Set aside for at least 10 minutes. I didn't have a grill or gas stove top available so just put my peppers in the oven at 545° for a few minutes until charred and then followed above directions to steam and peel.

Hold the top of the pepper and use a large kitchen knife to scrape off the blackened skin. Cut the peppers open and remove the stem and seeds. Then spread the peppers out on cutting board and chop.

To make the chili:

In a large Dutch oven, brown the beef with the onion and garlic and drain grease. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, and oregano, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the chopped poblanos, black beans, pinto beans, and beef broth. Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for 30 – 50 minutes, depending on how thick you like your chili . Water may be added to thin it down a bit if desired. The longer it simmers, the thicker it will become. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Now I'm dreaming of finding a tomato and cheese free pizza and lasagna. A girl can always dream.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Promises to Keep

Ann Tatlock's book "Promises to Keep" uses the voice of an eleven year old girl to tell the story of a family's life in the 1960s. Her writing style is reminiscent of Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird" and is very engaging.

Roz Anthony is a young girl with who deeply craves the love and attention of her father. Her best friend, Mara, is a young black girl who struggles with similar problems. The two friends make a "cross your heart and hope to die" promise to keep each other's secrets. These secrets could very easily put Roz in danger and could be life changing for both girls.

Janis, the mother of 3 children. moves to the idyllic town of Mills River seeking safety and security for her children. When she begins work to support her family, she is in need of someone to help watch her children. Janis, much like her daughter Roz, is seeking security and is willing to sacrifice love to feel safe.

Tillie is found on the Anthony family's front porch claiming that the house is hers. She claims that ownership is a matter of the sweat, years and love a person pours into a house. She and her husband had built and lived in the house long before the Anthonys had moved to town and resents her sons for selling her home. Before long, Tillie has worked her way into the family's lives and could very well be an answer to prayer as she steps in to help Janis with the children.

The oldest son, Wally is filled with anger over the treatment he received from his step-father. At the age of 17 he looks forward to being old enough to enlist and join the fight in Vietnam. Wally's father was a war hero, and he desires to follow in his father's footsteps.

All of these characters, and more, build an awe-inspiring story of trust, love and courage. I've already read the book twice and highly recommend it. I'd give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Thank you to Bethany House Publishing Group for providing this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, part 255.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Hidden Affections by Delia Parr

Hidden Affections is an enjoyable Historical Fiction book by Delia Parr. It begins, "Annabelle Tyler may have hoped she would marry again someday, but she never dreamed she would be wearing handcuffs during the ceremony when she did." Annabelle found herself married to a cad, Eric Bradley who simply married Annabelle for the small inheritance she received when her parents died. He used that money to woo a wealthier woman and returned to tell Annabelle that he was divorcing her.

Being a divorced woman in the 1830's was quite shocking and brought much ridicule to her already lonely life. Annabelle fled her home to try to begin anew. While on the way to a new job, the stage is robbed and the robbers handcuff Annabelle to a well known womanizer, Harrison Graymoor. Left alone to fend for themselves, they try to remove the handcuffs and end up wounding Harrison in the attempt. It begins snowing and the handcuffed couple end up huddled together trying to stay warm.
The next morning the sheriff of a nearby town find the two sleeping side by side and knowing Harrison's reputation, assumes the worse. The sheriff forces the two to wed, hoping to save Annabelle's reputation (unaware that she is divorced). Harrison assures Annabelle that his lawyer will quickly have the marriage annulled and no one will be the wiser.
Yet when they finally arrive at his expansive home, they find their marriage has been publicized in the Philadelphia Inquirer. They decide that they must put on a charade of being a happily married, newlywed couple until the annulment can be obtained. The two move to Harrison's country home outside of town and must convince the godly, perceptive, head housekeeper that they are happily married.
In the progression of the story you see both Harrison and Annabelle begin to mature as they deal with all the difficulties thrown their way. The story is quite predictable, yet is still a good read for a rainy day. (If only we could get that rain!!)
I'd give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Girl in the Gatehouse

This is the second book by Julie Klassen that I've had the opportunity to review. The first, The Silent Governess, is my favorite of the two, but this book is equally well written and full of great characters.

The book is set in the English countryside in the 1800's. Mariah lived during a time when a woman working as an author was unacceptable, yet writing is what she loved to do. Having been found in a improper situation, she was abandoned by her family and forced to live in the gatehouse belonging to her ailing aunt. There she supports herself and her faithful servant by secretly writing. One day before her death, Mariah's aunt hides a chest in the gatehouse attic and gives Mariah the key, instructing her to be sure to keep it a secret from her dead husband's son who is desperately trying to sell off anything of value for his own profit. Inside the chest Mariah discovers her aunts journals telling of the family's past.

Captain Matthew Bryant appears at the gatehouse after falling from his horse on a stormy night. Mariah is able to catch the horse and aid the Captain. Matthew decides that the aunt's estate is the perfect place to lease as he courts a young woman nearby. The friendship of Mariah and Captain Bryant develops as they both face uncertain circumstances.

Her aunt's stepson, Hugh Prin-Hallsey, forces Mariah to pay rent after her aunt dies, so Mariah is desperate for a way to raise money. She contacts her brother to help her sell her novels. Her brother goes against their father's wishes and helps Mariah. They both desperately want to please their father and reunite the family but also know that Mariah must raise the funds needed.

This book is well written and will keep you reading to the end! I give it 5 out of 5 stars. Well done, Julie Klassen!

Thank you to Bethany House Publishing Group for providing this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

THAT mother

This morning I was THAT mother. You know, the mother that people see and shake their heads scandalised, albeit mildly, because of how THAT mother has treated her children.

Ben is in a program at school tomorrow. He will be a squirrel. My job last night was to finish his costume by turning a baseball cap into squirrel ears. I cut and sewed brown ears onto the cap after Ben went to bed. He saw it this morning and asked "what about the middle of the ear that is supposed to be pink?" I had forgotten the teacher's instructions. The middle of the ear should have been a lighter color, and yes, my sweet son wanted it pink. I quickly search my limited stash for pink material, with none to be found. SO, being the ingenious mother that I am, I cut up one of my old sweaters and hurriedly begin to hand stitch the ears once again. (Note to self: buy glue.)

Minutes into my attempt to be THAT mother (you know, the perfect one that we all compare ourselves to) I hear, "will you make my lunch?" Uh-oh!! No wonderful left-overs to throw into a thermos, no bread for a sandwich...heck, there wasn't even a jar of peanut butter. So, I con my boys into eating at the school cafeteria - and finish sewing.

As soon as I've completed the squirrel ears, another son innocently asks "what's for breakfast?". Man! I look in the fridge and see nothing appropriate for breakfast (obviously, I need to go shopping ) and tell my boys to jump into the van. We drive to a store and I send the boys in to grab breakfast. At this point I'm still in p.j.s and attempt to stay in hiding from the public. They quickly come out and tell me the line is too long - so they'll do without breakfast rather than be late for school. Sigh. Yes, I really am THAT mother! Nathan informs me that in first period he would be allowed to eat in class if he had something. (How times have changed!)
I drop the older boys off and tell Ben he can be late for school and get breakfast. We stop at McDonald's (gasp!) and buy food. I drop Ben off and then call Nathan and drop breakfast off to him. Aaron, unfortunately, did without but reassured me all was well and that he would be fine. (see, I told you, I AM THAT MOTHER!)

As I'm driving home, berating myself for my lack of planning and poor mothering abilities, my phone beeps. I get home and see my text from Nathan:

"Thank You"

Isn't it amazing how two simple words can change your focus? This morning, on this one really bad day of planning, I am THAT MOTHER. But really? I have a son who was very grateful and excited about squirrel ears. How many boys do you know that are content with that? LOL! I have a son who was very forgiving and willingly went without breakfast just because he wanted to be at school on time (and I plan on getting a REALLY good after school snack for that kid!) I have yet another son who not only thanked me as I dropped off his late breakfast but also signed "I love you" to me as I drove away. THEN, took the time to text me as well.
I may be THAT MOTHER, but I tell you one thing, I've got some GREAT kids! Life is good.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My husband

Mark decided to surprise me for our 25th wedding anniversary and for my birthday with a new wedding band and ring. I was completely astonished!
We will have been married 25 years in June and have experienced a lot in that time: from moving to 3 different homes, being blessed with 5 children, losing both of our fathers, joyfully celebrating numerous birthdays and anniversaries, watching our kids grow to teenagers, three job lay-offs, and are now dealing with my mother-in-law's Alzheimer's and have sent 2 kids off to college and soon to be blessed with the college graduation of our daughter. Even after spending all of these years learning about and loving my husband, he still has the ability to surprise me and take my breath away. I love you, Mark!! (and I love the ring!)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It's coming!!!


I get my Birthday & 25th Anniversary gift from Mark tomorrow.
Can't wait!!!
Pictures are coming.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Valentines, Birthday and Anniversary


Can not wait to show you what Mark bought me today...
It's a gift for Valentines Day, my birthday, and our 25th wedding anniversary.
AND it's GOOD!!!! I'll get it in about 2 weeks.
Pictures coming. I'm excited!!