Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Birding 2012

 I am sure I have mentioned it here before, but our family loves to watch birds. It is a great thing, because this year in Science we are studying Ornithology. Birds are fascinating creatures. How God designed them for flight. How He gave them instinct to know where to migrate, and how to get there.
Purely amazing.
One project we are working on continually is making a habitat in our backyard that the birds enjoy visiting.  We have been hanging feeders, making feeders. Hanging suet cakes and our intention is to make a homemade birdbath, we haven't gotten to that just yet.
Of course the above bird is one that is easy to identify.
He is the Male Northern Cardinal
 Here we have the Female Northern Cardinal, undoubtedly she is eyeing the male. ;) hee hee
 This is a Male White Breasted Nuthatch. I wish I had gotten a picture of his backside, he is a beautiful bird. They have very long beaks.
 This is our little friend, the Tufted Titmouse. He's hiding a wee bit.
And I feel pretty sure that this is the Carolina Wren. Such a cutie.

Birding is such a great hobby. I love seeing new birds. The children and I keep an ongoing list of birds that visit our habitat. We eagerly check our manual when new birds come for a visit.

If you don't have a place to view the birds with your children, I encourage you to make a spot. It is a great inexpensive way you can enjoy some of God's creation with your little ones when it may be a bit too chilly to be out-of-doors.

Have a great day!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Wuv, True Wuv

Mamie loves her Moma.
Aww, big puffy heart.
Have a great weekend friends!


Wednesday, January 18, 2012


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Monday, January 16, 2012

My thoughts on the movie Joyful Noise

I'll throw this out...
first thing.
right quick.
This is what *I* think

When I first heard about the movie Joyful Noise, I honestly didn't give it much thought. I thought by the line-up of stars and the preview that it was not going to be my cup of tea.
I will say up front, I am a bit critical when it comes to movies. I want there to be some redeeming value.
If the movie is about church or Christianity. I am even more so.
The movie Courageous??? Perfect movie, in my opinion. It had laughs, it had tears, it had VALUE! Something you could watch with your family and be proud.

Ok, now back to this movie.
One of the first scenes is a choir with a new choir director. Dolly Parton's character has animosity towards her, because she is filling the role of Dolly's late husband. Dolly's grandson, Randy is in the pews listening to choir practice and obviously would like to be somewhere else until he gets a glimpse of a pretty girl with an amazing voice.
After she sings he jumps up and says a cuss word right there in the church, and it is laughed off.

Queen Latifa is the mother of the pretty girl who's name is Olivia and the mother of a son with Asperger Syndrome . She is also the new choir director.

Of course, Randy and Olivia are attracted to one another in this film. He is a bad boy, she is the 'church' girl. She starts out by saying things that make you think she might have some merit. She says her Mama says, "When you sing, you want to make God look good."
 I liked that. If you have a voice, Sing for Jesus!
But, she is quick to let her Mother's wisdom go out the door for time with the boy who is telling her exactly opposite. She should be prideful, her voice is amazing, she is incredible. She and he could go out on the road and make tons of money, yadda, yadda, yadda....

So then, the choir wants to win this contest. Their town is falling apart because of a tough economy and the choir wants to win the contest for the town. So Randy joins the choir. Not because he is a Christian, not because he wants to sing for Jesus, only because he wants to sing with Olivia and help the choir win the contest.

The movie is filled with slurs, bad words. Even a couple of members of the choir, -who are not married- start making out on the front steps of the church and then spend the night together and although they don't show it, of course it is implied that they have sex.

Olivia goes downhill through most of the movie. Running off with Randy, lying to her mother and then finally disrespecting her mother in an AWFUL scene.

All in all you get the idea that to be a Christian is that you go to church on Sundays. That's the only difference between us and the rest of the world. The only difference.
That's not what my Bible teaches!

You get the picture that I was not at all pleased with the movie...
but here's the clincher.

Like I said in the beginning, I didn't even plan on seeing the movie. But, during the day Friday, I was out running errands. My local Christian radio station was having a live broadcast at the theater.... promoting THIS FILM!
I then started considering watching it. Not only that, the DJ said, everyone who has walked out after seeing it, has LOVED it!
So now, I am thinking... ok, ok... maybe it's not so bad, so a friend of mine and I go watch it Friday night.

Now... here is my deal.
I'm a Christian. I am saved, blood bought, redeemed by the blood. I live by faith. It's not by works.
I am supposed to be separate from the world, not of the world, right???
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:2

Then why is this movie so offensive to me and so many others enjoyed it?!?!

I can expect Hollywood to throw things into a movie... people are rich on smut. Films are put out everyday with things that NO ONE should watch, much less people who are supposed to be set apart.

Now don't get the idea that I am Miss Goody-2-shoes and I think I am Holier-than-thou. Forget it. I very much like Paul when he stated that he was "The chief of sinners"
1 Timothy 1:15
This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

That's exactly how I feel.... but honestly, it doesn't give us the right to just keep on sinning. Keep on doing the things that we know we shouldn't.
We are to turn away.
I'll close with one of my favorite verses and one that rings true for this topic,

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Phil 4:8


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Ppppp PITA

I have been trying to incorporate more 'life learning' into our children's homeschool experiences. I want my kids to have plenty of *book learnin* ~wink, wink~ but I want them to know how to DO things as well!
So... you know I have been quite gung ho about making all of our meals, from scratch and trying to stay away from processed foods as much as possible.

To do this, it takes planning. I have been keeping on my toes to make sure I can accomplish this task I have set before us.

On Tuesday night, I mixed up our Chicken Salad.
I cooked chicken breasts in the crockpot all day and by that evening they were ready to be shredded.
I added a mayo and whip cream mixture to the chicken and then added halved grapes and walnuts. Salt slightly.

For the Pita's, the children followed this link.
What we ended up with was pretty fantastic.

Best of all, the kids were able to witness what we were doing, they got to get their hands in the dough, *and who doesn't love that?* and I was teaching them how to do things themselves, while spending time together!!
This will be something we try again for sure, hope you enjoy!


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Awe Factor...

I am reading this book...
Crazy Love by Francis Chan

It is challenging me. Changing me. Making me look more at my Creator and less of me. I want my life to radiate His love! The following video is one that he (Francis Chan) recommends to watch right off in the book to get you in the mindset that, we are so small and God is SO big, but He loves us anyways. Can you wrap your mind around that?!! I mean, really?!?!
The God who created ALL this for His Glory, LOVES you and me.
We do really need to be reminded of the Awe Factor of God!


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Healthy, Yummy, and Quick

I have been trying to re-vamp my lunch time menu. Like I told you a few posts back, I am trying to get away from the grocery and trying to get my family back in the habit of eating things that are healthy and delicious.

For an example...
Today we are having Baked Chicken, Side Salad and Sweet Potato Fries!
Doesn't that sound delicious?

I saw this picture on Pinterest and it sparked me to use my sweet potatoes as fries instead of baking them.
Here's what I did.
I browned a little butter in my cast iron skillet. I cut up my sweet potatoes and gave them a quick fry in my browned butter. After a few minutes I gave them a little sprinkle of salt, sugar and cinnamon.
I turned down the heat and placed a cover over the skillet so that the potatoes would soften a bit.

The kids ate theirs plain with no dipping sauce.
I used a spicy ranch for mine!

It's a great alternative to some of the quick meals we have been having and it is something that won't weigh us down for our afternoon lessons.

What's your favorite quick and healthy lunch?


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Artisan Bread in a Dutch Oven

A few weeks back a friend of mine came over for a while and showed me her way of making bread. It was wonderful and now has been adopted as the 'go-to' recipe to make with dinner for our family.
It is from the book Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day

Here's the recipe:
3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (1 1/2 packets)
1 1/2 tablespoons of kosher or other coarse salt
6 1/2 cups unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour, measured with the scoop and sweep method
*** for the large bread in the dutch oven above, I substituted half hard red wheat flour and half white***

Mix water with yeast and salt in a 5 quart bowl or food grade container. Mix in flour until incorporated, but don't knead. Cover with plastic wrap.
Let sit in container for several hours while it rises.
Then transfer to refrigerator for at least 3 hours or up to 12 days.

When you are ready for baking, take out your container and sprinkle the top with flour. Pull up a grapefruit size portion of dough and saw off with a serrated knife.
*** Using this method, you will make 4 loaves***

Form the dough into a ball, tucking under the edges and then let it rest for about half an hour. DON'T KNEAD!
*** NOTE! For the dutch oven bread I used all the dough in my container. I won't do that next time. For although it turned out nicely, I believe I should have halved the dough, for it ended up a bit heavy.***

Meanwhile heat your oven to 450*- 500* with your dutch oven inside getting mighty hot!
Once your resting time is over, gently toss your dough into the inside of the HOT dutch oven, place the lid on and put inside oven. DO NOT OPEN DOOR!
Also, please be aware of your dutch oven's capabilities. If your oven has a limit on the heat, please don't disregard that!! 450* is the max for my Lodge Dutch oven
Bake for about 30 minutes.

Now, open oven and remove lid carefully!
Bake another 20 minutes until nicely browned.

There you go!
I hope you enjoy, I know we are!
Another handy tip... this bread makes great bread bowls! We gutted the bread and made a bread bowl for spinach dip through the holidays. It was VERY yummy!


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Outback's Alice Springs Chicken... at Home!

Recently while browsing around pinterest, I spied a delicious idea that sent me into a memory...

When my husband and I were first married, we were given a gift card to Outback Steakhouse. For the first time, I tried Alice Springs Chicken while on a date with my wonderful newlywed hubby.

It was delightful.
While being reminded of this sweet memory, I decided... let's make this at home!

Here's how I did it.

Alice Springs Chicken

Honey Mustard (which I made by mixing mayo, regular mustard, honey, onion flakes and paprika)
Chicken Breasts
Seasoned Salt

I first took my cast iron skillet and cooked my bacon. I used a 1/2 lb. (I had this left over from Monday night's potato soup)
Once bacon was finished, I used the leftover bacon grease and took the chicken breasts sprinkled with season salt and cooked the chicken breasts.
Once the chicken was thoroughly cooked, I spread honey mustard on both sides of the chicken and placed in a 9x13 baker.
Once I had all my chicken in my baker, I sliced mushrooms and olives (just cause I had some available) and sprinkled them on the top of the chicken.
Then I placed the bacon on top of the mushrooms, and finally cover with cheese.

Bake at 350* until cheese is melty and everything is warmed through completely.
Enjoy your meal!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Creation Museum

Right after Christmas, my family and I took a trip with our youth department to The Creation Museum. We started following the progress of the museum back when it was just a thought. Then it was finished, but we didn't go for the opening year...
Finally though... we made it there!
And boy was it worth it!

I was so impressed by the museum. It is beautiful! Truly beautiful.
Such detail and information every way you turn. It was so faith building and affirming. I thought it was the BEST trip we have ever taken.

It was a very nice day, it was cold, but not freezing, so we were able to visit the petting zoo and walk around the pond and beautiful grounds.
One of the best parts was going back to the museum for Christmas Town on New Year's Eve!

If you have been, you know of what I speak! It was wonderful.
If you haven't been... make plans to go. It was outstanding!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Out with the old... in with new, old...

I'm sure I'm not the only one who wants and enjoys the *fresh* start that comes with January. Everything seems to be clean and ready for a new beginning.
Decorations are taken down, house has been cleaned from the rearranging...
I feel that I'm ready to take the bull by the horns, so to speak and give things a try.

So, what I'm getting at is this...
A while back I was much more disciplined than I have been recently.
I have allowed ease to run back into our lifestyle and I believe my family's health has suffered.

So today as everything is being cleaned up from our trip (I will tell you about that soon!!) and our lives are switching back into gear, I am putting on a big pot of homemade soup and some crusty bread for our supper.
Have I ever told you how I make my potato soup?
Let's talk about it...
it's so warm, yummy and is a favorite of our family.

Start off with about a half pound of bacon and a chopped onion.
Put it in the stock pot or dutch oven and cook til bacon is done and onion is translucent.
Meanwhile, chop up about 8 medium/large potatoes.
Once bacon was cooked I took about a pint of home-canned chicken stock and used it to scrape up all the goodness off the bottom of my pan. I added my potatoes and then coved with milk.
Let that cook slowly until potatoes are cooked tender.
Now is where you can stick with what you have or 'doctor' it up as we say.
I like to mash my potatoes up a bit and then I add some creamed corn, about 2 tablespoons of garlic powder and onion powder.
I add about a cup of cream at the very end.
Mix it all up well, taste and add your salt and pepper.
Serve with crusty bread or some yummy cornbread. We like BOTH!
You can even throw on some shredded cheese. Mmmm
Isn't my pot lovely? It was a Christmas gift and I LOVE it!!!
Bread on the rise... one of my favorite things! :)

What are the things I am wanting to get back to or begin?

  • Staying away from the grocery store. I want to make, grow or produce as much as I can around here. What I can't I hope to buy in bulk from a local farmer or from a dependable, sustainable source. 
  • I want to be careful of how we spend the money my husband earns...
  • I want to make sure we include our kids in what we do. Making sure they know why we may stray from the conventional and teach them to enjoy and respect farming.
  • Our root cellar is needing some attention. I hope to fix it and then stock it WELL!
  • I hope to mend our fences, and make our barnyard a nicer place to be for our animals.
  • I would love to build a small barn.
  • I want to at least double our garden this year, growing a bigger variety of vegetables and learning how to preserve them all as much as possible.
  • I want to lose about 10 lbs a month. I think that seems doable. I plan on doing that by cutting down my calorie intake, being more active and saying no to soft drinks and seconds!
Of course there are more things, these are just the tip of the iceberg.
Here's hoping for a good start to our new plans.

Have a great new year my friends!