Sunday, May 31, 2009

All American Apple Pie

It all begins here, with this old recipe (I know, the pages are totally gross)...

The book has long fallen apart, but it's the only apple pie recipe I've ever used. The sad thing about this book is that it was not even mine. Back in the day when I was a waitress in Clovis, CA, at Bob's Big Boy, an older waitress loaned it to me so that I could impress my boyfriend with a homemade apple pie. The woman got fired one morning, and I still had her cookbook...still do, as you can see. That was 30 years ago. Oh! And that boyfriend was so impressed with my apple pie that he married me! (There might've been other reasons, but I don't think so.)

So, here's how you do it:
1. Pam your pie dish, unroll the pie crust into the dish, poke it with a fork. You will notice that my pie crust is a big, fat mess. Um, that's for a very good reason. See, I use the already-formed Pillsbury pie crusts in the red box. I let this one sit out for hours, ignoring their directions for 15 min, and it all kind of glued together, instead of rolling out nicely, as usual. As I learned the hard way, instructions are there for a reason....

2. In your preheated oven (400*) place this bottom pie crust. Bake for 9 minutes. Set aside.

3. Peel and core your apples. You will want 4-6 cups of them. (My recipe calls for 4 cups, and I always use 6. Which means that I have to adjust my recipe. So, if you are only using 4 cups of sliced apples, just follow the recipe exactly.) I use any apples that are on sale.

If you do not have this handy apple peeler-slicer-corer contraption, then you will have to take a paring knife and do all the work by hand. It takes longer, but is not difficult.

4. Squeeze half a lemon over the sliced apples; it keeps them from turning brown.

5. Add these ingredients to the apple slices, and stir really well - 1 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp salt

6. Pour this mixture onto the baked pie crust.

7. Dot with 2 tablespoons butter. Unroll unbaked crust over the mound of apples. Press a cookie cutter lightly into the crust to make vent holes with of a cute design. Or, just poke the top with a paring knife. VERY IMPORTANT: To keep the outer edges of your crust from browning too quickly, wrap strips of foil over them... or better, place one of these over the edges....

8. Bake for 38 minutes, turn the oven off and let sit in there for 10 more minutes, then remove from oven. Ta-daaaaaaaaa!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Marathoner is Born!!!!

Had it not happened to me, myself, and I, I would never have believed it! You CAN take an old dog and teach it new tricks!!!! Especially when the Holy Spirit of God is enabling you to do so, as was the case with me and the 24th L. A. Marathon! I finished!!! Crossed the finish line! Finished the race with joy (though it sure did not look like it, since I was as sick as a dog - no pun intended). It was a miracle! Thank You, Jesus!!!! (and Lyn and Alex and Mike and Ken and all who prayed and cheered us!!!!!!!!!!).

With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible!!!! See???

P.S..... The weather was exactly what I asked (see blog below)!!!!!! God is good! :)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Here I gooooooo..........

Tomorrow, Monday, May 25, 2009, Memorial Day, is it! Alex, Lyn, and me, will be walking the 24th L. A. Marathon. This will be Lyn's 10th, my first. This will be Lyn's first with walking it in over 6 hours, because she and her daughter are walking my pace, and stepping over the finish line at the same time I do... no matter how long it takes me to move my body from the start to the finish. Now, that is friendship!

Already, the Lord has answered many prayers. I asked Him, "Can't you just flatten out the course (because Lyn told me about some hills)?" And then, the course was changed. Yahoo. The only bummer about that change is that we got hotel rooms at the original starting line, and now we are 6 miles from the starting line.

Another prayer was the weather. "You control the weather. Can it be please be cool, a bit overcast, and slightly breezy?" According to the weather forecasters (not that they know anything much) it is to be just that. Hoooray! We'll see this answer tomorrow. :)

We have a God who hears!!! And answers.
Psa 66:19
But certainly God has heard; He has given heed to the voice of my prayer.

Psa 116:2 Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I shall call {upon Him} as long as I live.

One other very fun thing is that a girlfriend I rarely get to talk to anymore sent me a surprise email a couple of days ago. She had been reading one of our favorite devotionals, Streams in the Desert, and when she got to one paragraph I popped into her mind! Yay! So, she sent this to me:

"He shall perform the cause which I have in hand" Does not that make it very real to us today? Just the very thing that "I have at hand" my own particular bit of work today, this cause I cannot manage, this thing I undertook in miscalculation of my own powers- this is what I may ask Him to do "for me" and rest assured that He will perform it. "The wise and thier works are in Gods Hands"

And you know what I say to that? It's been my motto during training - I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, I can..... each and every step I have taken I have uttered that verse as a plea to keep moving and not quit! And, oh, boy, have I wanted to quit over and over and over again! But, didn't. God answered that prayer, too. :)

But that's not all. The quote from that devotional was followed by one last paragraph on the page, one that I long ago drew a huge ink heart around. It is a quote from Spurgeon that I have always clung to: "Whatever He takes in hand He will accomplish; hence past mercies are guarantees for the future and admirable reasons for continuing to cry unto Him."

See, eight years ago I had to have a surgery I DID NOT WANT. I begged God for mercies galore, very specific ones. He answered them all - AND MORE. I was blown away, and have told the story millions (ok, lots) of times. Well, I had been praying and reminding the Lord of those mercies and asking Him to be even more merciful to me for this marathon. When my friend sent that one paragraph, she didn't know that the Lord had tucked in His own message of confirmation to me through that last paragraph! Such is our God!!! Wonderful is His name! Amen!

Anyway, alllllll these months of torturous training (and lots of complaining from these lips that will now praise), and tomorrow will be the pay off.

Can't wait to cross that finish line!!!!!! (Pray for us!!) All things are possible with God!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Lose & Tone!!!!

I don't know who this jumping guy is, but I would jump like that if I could. My feet would probably not get two inches off the ground if I tried, so this pic is perfect!

My thoughts have been drifting to life after the Marathon....

Well, let me back up... they are, right now, on the dreaded Marathon, with my toe that hurts if even the sheets touch it, yet alone my walking/crawling (yea, I said it!) shoes, with the mirrors in this hotel's fitness room that show me the real reason I will probably end up crawling this Marathon - fat and flabby. (Yes, I know that 'fat' is an ugly word to say to oneself, but it is what it is, so no use sugar-coating it with such adjectives as 'fluffy'.)

The thing is: Why didn't I see myself in these mirrrors months ago when I had the chance to lose weight? Aw, who am I kiddding? It wouldn't have made one single difference. So.... my moment of deep regret is over. I am beginning to think of life after the Marathon....Uh, if I live through it. Remember, the very first guy ever to run a marathon died after he got to his destination and delivered his message to the king. I'm hoping not to follow his example.
But, why I like jumping for joy as the unknown boy in the picture -- is because I do not have to stay F and F... or Fluffy!

No, sireeeeeee. So, after the marathon, summer plans for me are LOSE & TONE! Not in gym (unless I want). Not with a diet. (And, dang, I did not get toned during all those miles and months of walking. Which is wierd. I promise you I did not eat more (or less) during those months. It boggles my mind that i could walk 15 - 30 miles a week and remain looking the exact same as when I began. Perhaps it's just my age. Or, this just hit me.... I was too tired after walking to lift any weights. I think that is it!!!!! Eureka!)

So, no diet, no dogmatic regimine. Doesn't that sound more fun and doable than "Oh, I've got to loose 500 pounds by the end of the month"? I'm actually excited about this (almost jumping for joy).

In the summertime, it's so much easier to drink water, swim in water, ride a bike, walk to the mailbox. Little things add up... or in this case, down!

Like, here's a really fun thing.... I like to ride my bike around the block (it's not big) and get all nice and toasty, then pick up my mail, pedal home, and jump in the pool. Nothing makes you wanna take a cool dip like working up a little heat. Then, heck, while I'm in the pool, I'll swim up and back. Maybe up and back again. Lifting myself out of the shallow end (which works arms...wonder if I can still do it?), I then trot to the deep end, dive in, swim to the steps, get out, do a loop-de-loo off the diving board (something fun, not fancy), dog paddle to the shallow end, walk up the steps, lope on back down to the deep end, jump off the board, let my feet hit the bottom, spring up, make a splash so that i can look up and see all the sparkling diamond-ettes of water fall upon my head, get out, begin again, making up fun things to keep me active, till, dang, don't you know a little time has gone by and my toning is done! Get it? Exercising in the summer can be fun (though this can get you huffing and puffing, so don't be fooled into thinking that this fun is not gonna work)!
Then, this morning, I read this article on belly fat. It got me craving spinach and avocado and chicken and such. And, then, it just seemed so doable. Sometimes I think that dieting doesn't work. Living does! Enjoying life does! The only one time in my life I lost weight and kept it off for years, was when I just did all the above, and didn't diet or record or whine or feel deprived. I just enjoyed... and my constant thoughts of food and diets disapeared...and so did the weight and inches. Diets can trap us, I think.
So, my summer's plan is to lose & tone... the fun, natural, moderate way! Join me!!! You can send me updates all summer on how much fun you're having, how good you feel, and what you love about this new plan! And I will respond with lots of clapping for you!!! FUN!!!
Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try. –Anonymous Let's!!! :)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Such a Daughter!!!!

Isn't this such a cute picture? Not your normal "Say cheese!" smile. I think smirks are darling. Oh, and so is my daughter! This is Amy, my only daughter, sandwiched between two equally great sons.

I was uncertain what to blog about today, because I only have access to photos I can grab on my laptop (which means, all apple-pie-making blogs will have to wait a bit longer), and then it hit me - my heart is filled with such glee that Amers gave me this laptop (I know, can you believe it????! THANK YOU, AMY!!!!!) that I decided to tell all the world that I am one very blessed mom!

So, there, I said it! My kids are the greatest (and I'm sure yours are, too. I hate those bumper stickers that say "My kids are better than yours." Such a stupid and untrue boast.) They love me despite all my trillions of mothering mistakes, and they are generous, as you can tell from this gift from Amy.

What can I say? I am happy and blessed! Kids really are a gift from the Lord!!!

"Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward" (Psalm 127:3).

Thursday, May 14, 2009

After Thoughts,,,

Good morning again!!!

This morning while typing my blog about Eggs Embraced (below), I wondered if it was too much fluff. While I was outside pruning and getting ready to mow our large backyard I thought about this...

What came to mind were Pete's wise words: "Likewise, older women are to show their reverence for God by their behavior. They are not to be gossips or addicted to alcohol, but to be examples of goodness. They should encourage the younger women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible and pure, to manage their households, to be kind, and to submit themselves to their husbands. Otherwise, the word of God may be discredited" (Titus 2:3-5).

And it hit me - all my life I wanted to be a wife and mom. God granted that dream to me. Being a homemaker really has been my delight. I love almost everything about it. This is why I can't wait to grab my camera when I am creating something, whether it is making an apple pie (which I am going to do later today. Fret not, sistah, my camera will be ready. Look for it on a future blog, maybe tomorrow) or pruning bushes in our yard. When I was younger there was a group of us who would gather at each others' homes and iron together, clean each others homes, make jam together, make up skits for our kids at Christmas, etc. This blog is doing just that! YAY! It's a fun blessing to be shared!

These things bless my husband. When we wives take care of our kids, find creative ways to fix breakfast - saving money, to boot - these are ways of living out the above verse --managing our households and loving our husbands and kids. No one said it couldn't be fun, eh?! :)

When I share them with you, and then you do these things, with your own tweaks, perhaps, then your family is blessed, too! Just as God intended! I love encouraging women to love the truth (God's Word), their husbands, kids, friends, and our God and Savior. Oh! And then, what do you do? You share them with someone in your path and they are encouraged and their fams are blessed! Hooray!!!

The woman in Proverbs 31 is only one example of a wife of noble character. The whole rest of the Bible is full of many other examples - Deborah - bravery exudes from her. Faith, too. Abigail, what boldness and humility she possessed. Ruth, servant, and one who longed for the One True God. Gosh, there are so many more!

That word 'noble' or 'virtuous' means a force, and army, wealth, strength, virtue, valor, able, active... Is this not what we are doing when our hands are busy for our God and family? It is for me. I pray I am able to keep on doing this as long as I have breath! We are a force for our families, marching as soldiers in our day-to-day doings. Fun! "As your days so shall your strength be" (Deuteronomy 33:25).

So, you just know that now I must show you pictures of my day's virtuous outdoor activities. :) Mike has been working verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry long hours. Last week, he didn't even get the weekend off. My pruning and raking and watering and mowing frees his brain from having to think about all that needs to be done at home. When I finish, he gets to come home from work and be finished, too. The work of my hands enables him to be able to prop up his feet with me, where we can relax together. A team!
It's time to go rake up all that pruning (my pics didn't show how much more there is), then mow the grass. I think I need to yank some lemons off the tree and make me some lemonade!!!

"Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might" (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

Hi ho, hi ho... it's off to work I go!!!! (She works willingly with her hands. Proverbs 31:13)

Pro 31:27 "She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness."

Green Eggs and Wish I Had Ham!

Yesterday I showed you our lovely spinach garden. This morning I am going to show you one of the things I did with this spinach....

Have you ever had those spinach and Feta cheese wraps from Starbucks? They are pretty good. But - I can make them at home with FRESH spinach --- for FREEEEEEEEEE! (Notice that 'FREE' is in green lettering, as in the color of money... which is still in my pocket, thanks to cooking at home, this time.)

Anyhoo, here's what I did. I went outside, tiptoe-ing across the dew-y lawn, not wanting to feel the cold upon my toes, and picked quite a few leaves of spinach (o-so-much-fun!). After washing each leaf (wouldn't wanna taste anything creeping snails might leave behind, ahem) I stacked them on my cutting board, and in my best Iron Chef imitation, whacked them into nice thin slices, then dumped them into my awaiting pan. No oil or anything; just the water from when I washed them.

I let them cook till soft and a bit dry, then added two eggs. Sometimes I will add one egg and a couple of egg whites, for less calories, then let my dog lick up the yolks from the bowl. (I've heard it's good for their coats.) Add whatever spices you want.

Next, I put my tortilla on the pan, sprinkled a bit of cheese on the center, plopped on my egg & spinach creation, and dotted it with drops of good ol' Tobasco....

That flat skillet-thing is my favorite pan. I use it for everything. The handle is metal, so it can even go in my oven or on the barbie. Handy-dandy!

Then I did this... (I like it toasty on each side.)


Oh, and festive plates are only an option - but such a fun one!!!

Today I only made one, hmmmm.... what shall I call this? Not burrito. Nor sandwich. Ummmm.... I got it - Eggs Embraced! Next time, I will make a bunch of them and freeze them for summer's luxurious lazy mornings. And just think --- next time I might have green eggs AND ham! The possibilities are endless! Stuff them with everything you love (not husbands or kids) and embrace yourself for being so creative!!!

ta ta!

"A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies" (Proverbs 31:10).

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary

Really, I cannot figure out what made Mary quite contrary. My garden grows, and I am happy as the Queen of Hearts, who sits upon her regal throne, so laden with diamonds that she cannot move an inch, but cares not, because she is a sparkling beauty with servants to meet her every need and feed brilliant green spinach to her on a golden fork. But Mary? There must have been no bounty of diamonds in her garden...or spinach servers!

Anyhoo, you know how in the summertime your tastebuds cry out for the real McCoy - a red, luscious, juicy, sweet, fresh tomato, and not the gassed, watermelon-colored fake-outs the market tries to pass off as tomatoes? Well, for me, it's the exact same with spinach. There is no comparison between the produce-aisle's Popeye treat and what I pluck from my garden!

It's pretty much too late to plant it now, but in September, you can plant a crop. I will try to remind you and you will see what I mean.

From plot....
To pot....YUUUUUM!

P. S. When picking your spinach, do not yank out the whole plant. Oh, no. Instead, like you do lettuce, just take off the leaves....and watch them grow back, again and again (till the heat hits and kills them off).

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Celina, the Wise!!!

This is Celina!

She is my young friend that I am teaching to quilt. Right now, our very first project together is a block of the month item.It will be verrrrry cute and lots of work. Here are her first three blocks!

Anyhoo, she has been learning some good lessons from the Lord, and I thought I would let her share one with us. Heeeeeeere's Celina...

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

Life weighs us down. It seems unrealistic to be joyful always, or to be thankful in every circumstance when we can merely turn on the news and get infiltrated with the junk of this world. And to pray continually; are you kidding me? I walk out of a room and forget what I was gonna do, not to mention that my mind is cluttered with so much nonsense. It seems that I can not do anything continually. We as humans do not have the ability to be joyful always, pray continually, or to give thanks in all circumstances apart from Christ.
We can only do these things in Christ Jesus. Thankfully, we are "sons of the light" and therefore, in Christ ( 1 Thessalonians 5:5, Colossians 1:27). Since we are in Christ we are to then "be joyful ALWAYS, pray CONTINUALLY, give thanks in ALL circumstances," for this is God's will for us. When we do these things that the Lord has called us to do the focus turns from us to the Lord, giving us a new perspective. We can only see the here and now and can not see the BIG picture that God sees. Thus, these times of hardships, disappointments and trials are just a small piece of God's plan for our lives.That is why we are called to be joyful, and to pray, and to be thankful for all circumstances; because its when we are doing these things that we are in God's will. We all have failed in at least one or all of these areas; so let's ask the Lord to show us where we lack, and need to trust and obey him. Our God is a great God and gives wisdom to all who ask (James 1:5). Praise the Lord that he gives us the strength to do what he has called us to do.

Hope this encourages YOU!!!!

Happy Mother's Day!

A Promise is Kept!

This morning I sat on my bed for my quiet time with Jesus. All the windows had been flung open to welcome in the 60-degree fresh air, and it was luscious! My legs were crossed Indian-style with my lapboard settled atop my knees, and on top of that was my Bible. Like I so often do, I read a bit, then look up and stare aimlessly out the window to ponder what I read (or get distracted with the day's to-do list). This time, when I looked out the window, there was a treat - my own private rainbow!!!

It's very sweet of the Lord to give me this colorful 3D reminder because I had just read and prayed King David's sweet prayer, "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions" (Psalm 51:1).

Right after the very first rainbow ever, God made a promise to Noah (ark builder and faithful truster) --"I'll never again curse the ground because of people. I know they have this bent toward evil from an early age, but I'll never again kill off everything living as I've just done. For as long as Earth lasts, planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never stop" (Genesis 8:21b-22 Message) --- and Jehovah has not failed in keeping it! Aren't you glad?!

So, now, next time I see a rainbow, not only will I remember that a promise is being kept, I am going to be thankful to our Lord God Almighty that His mercy endures forever! Hoooray for us!

Monday, May 04, 2009

Oh, Yeah, Baaaaby!!!!

I have a tradition. Wanna hear about it? I know you do because we all love the stabilizing, security-giving feeling of traditions. So, here it is (picture on the above):

Every year as soon as the pool is tolerable, in I go - backwards! Sometimes I can talk my friend Emily into doing it with me, but she's not gung-ho about it.

Not yet figuring out how to do a back dive and take my own picture, I had to use this one from a few Julys ago. Oh, well.

Remember: it's easier to dive into things when we can see straight ahead of us, but sometimes we must get brave and take the plunge when we can't!

Yipppppeeeee! I did it and summer is coming!!!!!!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Before... and After

This is a picture of my bushes before my pruning shears and imagination kicked in gear.... (Kinda what we must look like to the Lord, sometimes, before His pruning hits us.)

This is after an hour's hard and sweaty work... (Imperfect, but when the Lord does His pruning, it's a perfect work with a perfect result.)

This is before picture # 2 of two more of my bushes...

This is after much hard work in the warm sunshine; a labor of love....

When I was out there, I thought of my hard-working husband, who has been working a ton of hours of overtime this week. Though these hearts and X and O are my projects, I did many of his projects while I was out there. A team!

I also thought of the Lord's pruning in us.... Take one look at my bushes that I had neglected since last summer, and you will see what happens when we are left to ourselves! God cares for us, and takes great time with us, pruning us and refining us, to make sure we are shaped into the beautiful image of His Son, Jesus - and not left to grow wild and unruly! Hoooray!!!

And there's one more fun lesson, thanks to the continuous weeds in our veggie garden. It is this: pick them often!! Have you ever seen a veggie garden overtaken with weeds? Not a pretty or fruitful sight!! Weeds that are allowed to grow and grow will soon choke out the veggies' vitality. Same with sin, unforgiveness, bitterness, etc. in a Believer's heart. You get the picture! If not, then quickly grab the shovel of God's word and ask the Spirit to dig up anything growing in your heart that shouldn't be: "Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalm 139:23-24)!

Happy pruning and plucking!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Love's True Colors!

Look at my darling fixing our 10-year-old garden path! He is a very patient man, because each one of those gray-colored cement 'cobble stones' had to be lifted up, raked under, and new sand added to lift them back up (they had begun to sink into oblivion from all the spraying with the hose I had done), then carefully smooshed right back down in the same spot from whence they came. I would never, ever, ever, evvvvveeeeer have the perseverance for such a tedious task.

...Or would I??????

One of my favorite things to do is watch Mike puttering in our yard, keeping it beautiful. He's a hard worker! I know they have those personality tests that determine if you are an otter or whatever, but my man is definitely an ANT! He is moving and a'groovin' nonstop. Really, I would work alongside him, but the simple task of watching him exhausts me...and I'm only one woman.

Anyway, I digress. Sometimes he works in shorts and up-to-his-kneecap white socks. My daughter's old lifeguard hat will be pulled down on his head, complete with string tied under the neck, and, well, it is just endearing. You know how we moms love to tiptoe to the room of our napping tykes and lean against the doorframe, sighing over the beauty of being a mom --- when they're asleep? It's kind of like that feeling. When those little gems are all pink-cheeked and curled up under their soft cotton quilts we stitched with love, all memories of the terrible twos, etc., are melted into non-existence (till they wake up....oh, then we remember). Well, when I look out our home's windows and see Mike out there, all cute-like, all memories of the bumpy paths smooth over.

And thinking of this today reminded me that love is not only true blue. It is the yellow of the warm and sunshiny moments, it is every hue of pink, pink when things are more stinky. Gray has its arm in there, adding discouragement or disappointements (which, shoot, do happen when sinners marry sinners), and purple, when it extends the royal scepter of grace toward all offences and silly-spoken words. And let's not exclude red, for those hot, fun two-party extravaganzas. There are so many other colors, each with their own added hues and tones and vibrancies. You can see that love/marriage is a full rainbow of colorful moments!

This coming September that man and I will have been married for thirty, 30, three tens and a zero, years! Many are the times I've had to lift up our marriage to the Lord, rake under His grace any unforgiveness I've harbored, added some new and fresh attitude or action to plump up any ruts we've gotten into, and then plopped right back into the game, trusting the Lord and admiring the good and noble things I see in my frog prince.

Making marriage last a lifetime takes wheelbarrow loads of patience, endurance, and perseverance.

So, see? I DO HAVE perseverance, after all! And I bet you do, too!!!

"This I command you, that you love one another," (John 15:7).

In case, after reading this blog, you
think I let Mike do all the work, oh,
contrare. I pluck fresh juicy lemons
from the tree, give them a squeeze or two, add a little filtered water, lots of sugar, and tons of zesty yellow love, and walk out there with a refreshing drink to revive him for the rest of the day's yard work! :)

Oh, if you decide to do this for your own hard-working man -- remember
the straw! It will make him forget all
the times he was at 'his last straw' with you!

Keep on loving!