Monday, December 31, 2007

Breakfast Visitors

We had four unexpected guests join our family for breakfast this morning. Three lovely does and and a small fawn spent several hours in our backyard. (The yard is not fenced. Our family shares a green strip with the other townhouses in our row.)

The deer were very tame and seemed undisturbed by our presence at the window. They lay down in the snow under our trees to nap. The deer rested for more than three hours before they quietly walked away.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Menu Plan Monday
December 31, 2007

Happy New Year to all my friends!

Here is my proposed meal plan for the upcoming week:

Monday: No cooking! (Supper with my parents)
Tuesday: (A special request birthday supper) waffles with berries and whipped cream, Canadian back bacon, scrambled eggs, Yoda birthday cake!
Wednesday: Southwestern corn chowder, homemade biscuits
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: No cooking! (Romantic getaway weekend in Banff!)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Happy Anniversary

Eight years ago today I married my high school sweetheart. I cannot believe the time has flown past so quickly. Ben and I have already been married twice as long as we dated, and those first four years before marriage dragged on f-o-r-e-v-e-r.

Happy anniversary, Sweetheart! I'm definitely looking forward to our trip next weekend!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Baby Update

Our little bundle has been growing in my womb for almost 23 weeks now. Our waiting is more than half over! I often feel our baby kicking and rolling, especially when I am lying down in bed. I'd say his activity level is fairly average --- not too busy but moving around a healthy amount. Our little guy really likes to kick when Daddy rests his hand on Mommy's belly!

I'm feeling pretty good. This is the easy stage of pregnancy. I certainly have a baby belly these days but am not too big and bulky yet. My energy levels are fairly high as long as I take my daily naps!

We are preparing for a home birth again this pregnancy. I thoroughly enjoyed our daughter's water birth and hope to birth in the "fishy pool" again. Thankfully, God has blessed me with three healthy, fairly easy labours so far. We're praying for a fourth easy birth!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Day After

Ben and I are so proud of our kids. They behaved exceptionally well this Christmas season, especially considering the string of late bedtimes these past few nights. The colds / croup / throat infections seem to be all cleared up as well. Finally, we have a house full of healthy children!

Our family was utterly blessed this Christmas. We enjoyed spending time with friends and relatives, and eating endless plates of delicious food. (I'm in desperate need of a trip to the Y!) The children were spoiled rotten by our families. It's a bit overwhelming but we feel blessed knowing our kids are well loved.

Today our family enjoyed some much-needed rest and routine. I cooked up a huge batch of turkey soup, thanks to my mother-in-law's Christmas dinner leftovers. Tomorrow I plan to make three or four turkey pies for the freezer. And I still have more leftovers to use after that!

Some favourite gifts ... The play kitchen is a huge hit with all three children. Our eldest son has been totally enthralled by his Star Wars chapter books and awesome picture book about the human body. Ben loves his new slippers. He has already finished reading C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters. I'm looking forward to using my Thyme Maternity gift cards and love this new book.

Monday, December 24, 2007

"Caw Caw!"

A colourful birdie visited our house this Christmas. He built a comfy nest in our living room.

He decided to hatch some eggs.

The momentous occasion finally arrived and the birdie called out, "Come quick! Come quick! Mine eggs are hatching!"

Sure enough, the birdie stood up and our family admired his new babies.

He had hatched a litter of puppies.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

This Post is Not About Chicken

(Though I am feeling a bit chicken about beginning the Christmas season.)

The whirlwind of activity has begun. We have an event or family get-together scheduled for each of the next few days. Physically, all of my Christmas preparations are complete. The lists are all done. Each item is checked off. Emotionally, well, I guess I'm as ready as I'll ever be.

I just need to take a deep breath.

The introvert in me is crying out for a quiet, routine day at home. A regular day with three healthy kids. A day without all the extra stuff, fluff and razz-matazz of the season.

My goodness, I need a hot bubble bath and an uninterrupted night's sleep.

Deep breath.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Fall Into Reading 2007

Tomorrow marks the first day of winter and the official end of Fall Into Reading 2007. I've enjoyed participating in this terrific reading challenge. Thank you, Katrina, for doing a great job as hostess!

I included the following six books in my personal reading list:



Safely Home
by Randy Alcorn

On Every Side
by Karen Kingsbury

These High, Green Hills
by Jan Karon

For this challenge I compiled a shorter, more manageable list. I was able to finish reading every book. My oldest son started school this Fall and I am blessed to have an hour to rest, read or sleep each afternoon. In addition to my official reading list, I also finished the following books:

The Potty Training Answer Book
by Karen Deerwester

MaryJane's Ideabook, Cookbook, Lifebook
by MaryJane Butters

The 100-Mile Diet
by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon

Between Sundays
by Karen Kingsbury

by Karen Kingsbury

by Karen Kingsbury

The Parting
by Beverley Lewis

I am currently in the midst of reading the following two books:

Heaven ... Your Real Home
by Joni Eareckson Tada

Out to Canaan
by Jan Karon

The two book that greatly impacted my life this Fall were Randy Alcorn's Safely Home and Heaven. I am pleased to have found Randy Alcorn's work and look forward to reading more of his books. As well, I have started reading Joni Earekson Tada's books and appreciate her humour and gentle wisdom. I always enjoy Karen Kingsbury's and Jan Karon's fiction series. I am thankful Kingsbury and Karon are both prolific writers and I have many titles yet to read.

What have I learned from my Fall reading list? I learned a great deal about my heavenly home from Randy Alcorn's books. Heaven and Safely Home radically impacted my faith and renewed my love for Christ. I highly recommend Alcorn's writing. As well, Leil Lowndes How to Talk to Anyone taught me several conversational tools and is helping me on my journey toward becoming less shy. Lowndes' book taught me to be focused on others and to worry less about myself.

I was also impacted by Smith and MacKinnon's The 100-Mile Diet. This book was written by a Canadian couple from Vancouver. For one year Smith and MacKinnon ate only local foods produced within a 100-mile radius of their apartment. They chronicled their endeavour in an engaging journal-style book. The 100-Mile Diet has forced me to rethink my buying habits and when I visit the grocery store I continually ask, "Where did this really come from? Do I need to buy it?"

I am somewhat sad to see the Fall Into Reading challenge come to an end. I've enjoyed writing reviews and reading the thoughts of fellow bloggers. Many participants have compiled interesting and insightful book lists. I look forward to joining in future reading challenges and hope Katrina has plans to host a new challenge next Spring!

Please visit Callipider Days to browse through many other Fall Into Reading 2007 wrap-up posts. Happy reading!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Mama Hen

My husband oh-so tactfully pointed out that my last three posts have included a common theme...


And I now see that I must clarify my previous posts.

No, our "Little Chicken" is not the secret ingredient in the mystery chicken casserole. ;-)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Chicken Mystery Casserole

Here is the long-awaited recipe ;-).

I made this casserole tonight and my five-year-old son said it tasted "very yummy". We ate it over brown rice with a veggie on the side. I amalgamated two "mystery chicken" recipes, one from my mom and another from Ben's aunt.

3 C. cubed chicken, cooked
1 C. Chow Mien noodles
1/4 C. chopped red pepper
1/2 -- 1C. sliced or slivered almonds
1 can sliced water chestnuts
1 can sliced mushrooms
1 C. sliced celery
2 cans condensed reduced-fat cream of mushroom soup
1/2 C. skim milk
1/2 C. dry bread crumbs
1 tbsp. melted butter

Combine first seven ingredients in a large casserole dish. Whisk together mushroom soup and milk. Pour soup mixture into casserole and gently combine. Stir melted butter into bread crumbs until moist and crumbly. Sprinkle over top of casserole. (Recipe can be made to this point and frozen.)

Bake uncovered at 350F for 30-40 minutes until hot and bubbly. Serve over rice or noodles.


Monday, December 17, 2007

My Little Chicken

For more than a week my three-year-old son has been playing a sweet game. He pretends to be "Little Chicken" and I am his "Mama Hen". He emphatically insists I am not to call him by his real name.

My Little Chicken brings me offerings throughout the day --- small toys, imaginary objects, pretend food. His favourite snack to feed the Mama Hen is sandwiches.

Egg sandwiches.

I think there's something wrong with a Mama Hen dining on egg sandwiches ... even if they are only imaginary.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Menu Plan Monday
December 17, 2007

Here's my proposed menu for the upcoming week:

Monday: No cooking! (Supper with my parents)
Tuesday: Mystery chicken casserole (I still haven't made this), brown rice, green salad
Wednesday: Spaghetti with meat sauce, caesar salad
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Chicken and rice soup (from the freezer), homemade bread
Saturday: No cooking! (We will be attending a wedding)
Sunday: Potato and chickpea curry with rice, naan bread

The mystery chicken casserole is a mystery to me! I still haven't tried making it. (This recipe has been a hold over for the past few weeks.) I will try my best to post the recipe once I've given it a trial run. Basically, the casserole includes cubed chicken, chow mien noodles, water chestnuts, red pepper, celery and a cream sauce.

Tonight I made the sausage and kale soup from last week's menu. That recipe is a keeper! My husband had two helpings and our three-year-old pronounced his supper to be "delicious". I've never bought kale before. It is a beautiful, leafy winter vegetable. I bought the purple variety because the leaves were such a gorgeous colour. The resulting soup was quite pretty.

If you would like to browse other interesting menu plans, take a look at the Menu Plan Monday Mr. Linky hosted by Org Junkie.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Recommended Reading:

by Randy Alcorn

Heaven is an incredible book. I heartily recommend reading it. Other than the Bible itself, I believe this book has affected my Christian walk more than any other. It has strengthened my faith and fostered an intense hunger for my eternal home.

Randy Alcorn has based his book on sound Biblical research. He prefaces Heaven with an incredibly humble introduction. Alcorn promises to change future editions of the book if readers find any points that do not line up with Scripture. Heaven is solid and well-positioned, but also creative and fascinating to read.

This book is approximately 500 pages long and quite honestly, is a slow read. It took nine weeks for me to wade through Heaven. (I did not have time to finish the extensive appendices.) Heaven is a dense and thought-provoking book. I found I could only absorb a chapter or two at a time. I only wanted to read a chapter or two at a time. I felt the need to savour every idea and image. Alcorn paints a truly inspiring vision of our future home!

Heaven answers many common questions such as: Is heaven a physical place? Will we have bodies in heaven? Will we continue relationships with the people we love in this life? Where will we live in heaven? How will we spend our time? Will we have jobs and tasks? Will there be animals in heaven?

Without a doubt, this book is required reading for Christians. If only every follower of Christ shared a fresh, vibrant vision for eternity. Our Church would be a radically different body! I highly recommend Randy Alcorn's Heaven.

Please visit the Mr. Linky hosted by Callapidder Days to read other book reviews written by Fall Into Reading 2007 participants.

Friday, December 14, 2007


I finished making Ben's rocket wreath last night. It required five pounds of candy! I hope the guys at the office like their festive decoration ... and that they don't eat it until after Christmas.


Now I feel bad for poking fun at our son. Today he's developed a nasty case of croup. He wasn't feeling well yesterday.

Poor guy. He's been sick so often lately.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Koalas are NOT a Bear ...

The question begs to be asked. Why was our son cast as the koala in his school play? Does he often fall asleep in class?

I seriously thought he would drop off right in the middle of his play this afternoon.

I suppose he was simply staying in character.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Thoughts From the Kitchen

These past couple weeks have completely thrown me out of my regular routine. I feel that I am just starting to get back on my feet. Thankfully, I finished preparing for Christmas early. I have only a little sewing left to complete before the Christmas season.

Yesterday I finally took the time to try my new mini muffin and mini loaf pans. I baked banana bread and muffins. I took a few banana loaves to my friend, but the rest of the batch has mysteriously disappeared ... I believe the mini muffin pan is a hit! The little muffins are just the perfect size for preschoolers. Next week I plan to bake mini pumpkin chocolate chip muffins for my son's junior kindergarten class.

In other news, our microwave has been on the fritz for a couple of weeks. The turntable stopped turning and food no longer cooks evenly. (Ben has banished me from using the microwave as he's scared it will short out and start a fire.) With all the craziness, we have not had a chance to shop for a new one. Cooking "the old fashioned way" has forced a change in my perspective. I can't simply zap our leftovers for a few minutes!

I am looking forward to buying a new microwave this weekend.

Finally, I'd like to share the following recipe for Turtle Brownies. I baked these a couple of weeks ago. They are decadent. (The recipe cheats a bit because it uses a mix. Shhhh. No one has to know.) I definitely recommend using a silicon 9x9" square pan for these. Cool and refrigerate the brownies before attempting to cut them. I also recommend using fewer caramels and less butter than the recipe calls for. The caramel layer is extremely gooey.

Turtle Brownies

50 caramels (14 oz. package), unwrapped
2/3 C. evaporated milk
1 German chocolate cake mix
3/4 C. butter, melted
1 C. chocolate chips
1 C. chopped pecans

Combine cake mix with melted butter and 1/3 C. evaporated milk. Spread half of the batter in a slightly buttered pyrex lasagna-sized pan or equivalent. (Use a 9x9" silicon pan.) Bake for 8 minutes.

Melt caramels with 1/3 C. evaporated milk in a double boiler over barely simmering water or in the microwave (about 3-4 minutes --- check often and stir).

Remove cake base from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips and pecans. Drizzle melted caramel mixture over chips and nuts. Cover with remaining cake batter.

If the batter is difficult to spread, pat blobs of dough into zig-zag pieces to cover the chocolate chip and pecan covered base. Continue baking at 350F for 15-18 minutes. Cool before slicing.

Keep the brownies covered in the fridge as it makes slicing through the caramel layer easier. These brownies freeze well.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I am completely enamoured with Jeanne Williamson's work. From 1999 to 2005 she set out to create one small quilt per week. 365 quilts in total. Williamson used everyday materials such as plastic bags, cupcake wrappers, clothing tags, as well as paint, fabric and stitching.

Very cool. Very inspiring.

Check out the Uncommon Quilter website here. Jeanne's short You Tube video is also interesting.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Menu Plan Monday
December 10, 2007

We are hoping to return to a normal routine this week, though we do have several evening commitments to look forward to. Here is my proposed meal plan:

Monday: Hamburger soup (from the freezer), homemade bread. (Ben and I will be out at his office Christmas party.)
Tuesday: Chicken caccitore, whole wheat spaghetti, spinach salad.
Wednesday: Beef tacos (from the freezer), brown beans, corn.
Thursday: Chicken mystery casserole, brown rice, steamed green beans.
Friday: Leftovers. (Ben and I will be going to a Christmas party.)
Saturday: Sausage and kale soup, homemade bread.
Sunday: Leftovers. (Our family will be attending the church Christmas concert over supper time.)

Sausage and Kale Soup (from Everyday Cooking magazine)

This is a new recipe for our family.

In a large pot (6-8 quarts), heat 1 tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Cook 1 diced onion until soft, stirring, 2-3 minutes. Add 2 minced garlic cloves and 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper; cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Add 5 waxy potatoes (1 1/2 lbs.), peeled and cut into 1/2" chunks, and 3 cans (14.5 oz. each) reduced-sodium chicken broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer until potatoes are tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

In a blender, puree half the soup. Return to pot, add one bunch (12 oz.) kale, stemmed and shredded, and 12 oz. smoked chicken sausage, cut into 1/2" half-moons. Simmer until kale is wilted, 10 to 15 minutes.

Serves 4
Prep. time: 15 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes


Check out the Menu Plan Monday Mr. Linky at Org Junkie.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


This morning our Grandpa George died peacefully. We will miss having him here with us, but live with the hope that he is now laughing and singing joyfully with his Savior. We'll see Grandpa George again soon.

Our family is planning to leave for Saskatchewan very early tomorrow morning. We'll be away for the weekend.

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:20)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Hello, Little One!

It's a BOY!
Timothy Mitchell Inkster

We can't wait to meet you, Little Man.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A New Little Quilt

I've been meaning to post a picture of our new quilt for a while. I finished sewing it several weeks ago. Each of the children drew a picture (or scribbled) in one of the large squares. My photo doesn't do their artwork justice, but you can just make out our son's drawing of an anteater in the lower portion of the middle square. The finished quilt measures roughly 48" by 24". I basted a sleeve along the back and hung our quilt from a curtain rod. It beautifully brightens the space behind our kitchen table.

I would like to thank Soule Mama for providing inspiration for this project. I always enjoy reading Amanda's blog and look forward to buying her new book in the spring.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Weekend

Suffice it to say, we put the "bucket buddies" to good use this weekend. What an ordeal.

I think (hope, pray) this bug has finally worked its way through the entire family. We've all been sick over the past few days. I can honestly say I've never been so violently ill in all my life.

However, I am thankful.

Thankful Ben and I were not sick at exactly the same time. Thankful our eldest son has good aim. Thankful we were well-stocked with groceries. Thankful our carpet escaped unscathed. Thankful I'll be well enough to attend my ultrasound appointment tomorrow. Thankful our little girl was the least sick of us all. Thankful the baby is okay. Thankful we had a good excuse not to go out in this frigid weather!

Here's to hoping for a brighter week.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Prayers of Thanks

Our eldest son had a rough day. He spent most of his time curled up on the couch, clutching a bucket. He began to perk up around supper time and eventually managed to eat a bit before bed.

As he lay on his makeshift cot on our bedroom floor this evening, our son prayed the following sweet prayer:

"Dear God. Thank you for a very nice day. And thank you that I got to play Lego with my family. Amen."

Such simple gratitude. In a day filled with disappointment (a missed play date and fun day at school) our son was thankful for simple pleasures.

Not to be outdone, his younger brother also prayed this adorable prayer:

"Dear God. Thank you for my mommy's petunias. For her petunias and roses. Amen."

No matter that my flowers have been dead for weeks and are buried under a blanket of snow! I wish our sons would stay so sweet and innocent forever.
Never Again

I will never again make a recipe that requires pork hocks.

Not after revisiting them at two a.m.

Splattered all over my son's top bunk bed.

And then at four. And at six. And eight.

Never. Ever. Again.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

And It Becomes a Bit More Real ...

Last night Ben felt the baby move for the first time. We were both surprised.

"Wow!" he exclaimed, "I guess there really is a baby in there!"

Either that, of I've been eating way to many Christmas cookies ... ;-).

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Book Review:

The Potty Training Answer Book
by Karen Deerwester

Potty training is an ongoing challenge in the Inkster household. Our youngest son turned three earlier this month and he's slowly learning to use the toilet. We've finally graduated from diapers to pull-ups. (The few days we tried regular underwear did not go well.) He still averages about one accident per day.

Though we've been through potty training with our first son, I feel like a total potty training newbie. The first time around we waited until our son was 34 months old. He trained in two days flat. It was incredibly easy. (Too easy.) Our first son basically trained himself.

Our second son is quite opposite from his brother. Whereas our eldest is intense and exacting, our second-born is easy-going and adaptable. Our eldest is an outgoing introvert. His brother is an extroverted social butterfly. Our younger son could care less about learning to use the toilet because he has so many fun, exciting things to do!

I borrowed the Potty Training Answer Book from the library upon the recommendation of a fellow mommy blogger. This book is compact and easy to read. It follows a simple question-and-answer format and addresses some of the following issues:
  • What is the average age for girls to be potty trained?
  • What is the average age for boys to be potty trained?
  • Does a child’s temperament affect potty training?
  • What words should I use for body parts and bodily functions?
  • Is nighttime potty training different than daytime potty training?
  • Can rewards be a positive potty strategy?
I can't say I learned anything terribly revolutionary from The Potty Training Answer Book. However, it did reaffirm my role as a potty training coach. I realized that potty training is a process and that for some children it can take a long time. I've started to relax, follow my son's cues, and offer him lots of positive encouragement. He's gradually learning to listen to his body and I'm learning to listen to him.

Best of all, our son has regularly begun exclaiming, "I have to go potty!" He'll race to the bathroom, take off his (dry) pull-up and use the toilet on his own. This is a major breakthrough! We're beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, thanks in part to the Potty Training Answer Book.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ben, the Conquering Hero

I'd just like to say that Sobey's rocks.
Spiritual Growth

(2 Peter 1 :4-8)

And by that mighty power he has given us all the other rich and wonderful blessings he promised; for instance, the promise to save us from the lust and rottenness all around us, and to give us his own character.

But to obtain these gifts, you need more than faith; you must also work hard to be good, and even that is not enough. For then you must learn to know God better and discover what he wants you to do. Next, learn to put aside your own desires so that you will become patient and godly, gladly letting God have his way with you. This will make possible the next step, which is for you to enjoy other people and to like them, and finally you will grow to love them deeply. The more you go on this way, the more you will grow strong spiritually and become fruitful and useful to our Lord Jesus Christ.

This passage is just what I needed to read. In the midst of a discouraging, difficult week, it helps to take my eyes off myself and place them steadily on God and the people around me.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Strike Out

Maybe grocery shopping wasn't such a bright idea after all. Especially with three preschoolers in tow. (And in minus seventeen degree weather.)

Where in the world does one find canned water chestnuts? I logically thought to look for them in the canned vegetables aisle. Nope.

How about chow mien noodles? In Oriental foods? How about with the pastas and noodles? Nada.

And pork hocks? (Hocks is just a funny word.)

I'm sending Ben to Sobey's tomorrow.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Menu Plan Monday
November 26, 2007

Another week, another menu plan. This week is shaping up to be hectic and somewhat unpredictable. I may not stick to my proposed menu, but it's always good to have a plan.

To be honest, most weeks I stray from my meal plan a bit. Last week we ate tacos on both Tuesday and Wednesday, I made hamburger soup on Thursday instead, and I substituted spinach salad for coleslaw on Friday. Having a flexible plan is a real asset. Sometimes I adapt the meals when our schedule changes or to use up ingredients in the fridge.

Tomorrow I must make a hefty trip to the grocery store. My menu plan will certainly make that task a bit easier!

If you would like to browse other interesting meal plans, check out the Menu Plan Monday Mr. Linky hosted by Org Junkie.

Here is my proposed menu plan for the upcoming week:

Monday: Easy ravioli bake, spinach salad
Tuesday: Encore performance.
Wednesday: Chicken mystery casserole, brown rice, broccoli slaw
Thursday: U.S. Senate bean soup, homemade bread, green salad
Friday: Leftovers.

I am fairly certain we will be away next weekend, so I have decided not to include meal plans for Saturday and Sunday.

I plan to make a double batch of the chicken casserole and bean soup. The chicken casserole is a new recipe. I intend to adapt it and experiment with a low fat version. If the casserole turns out well I will post the recipe next week.

U.S. Senate Bean Soup
(from Saveur magazine)

Not even the Historical Office of the Senate can say for sure who ordained that bean soup should appear every day on the menus of the Senate's restaurants. We do know that the custom arose early in the last century and is still observed today.

1 lb. dried navy beans
1 meaty smoked ham hock
1 tbsp. butter
1 small yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Rinse beans in a colander under cold running water. Put beans, ham hock, and 8 cups cold water into a medium pot. Cover pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Uncover pot, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until bean skins are tender and interiors are soft, about 1 hour.

2. Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until soft and just beginning to brown, 3-5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and set aside.

3. When beans are cooked, reduce heat to low and stir in onions. Retrieve ham hock from pot and set aside to let cool until cool enough to handle. Remove and discard skin, bone, and excess fat, dice meat, and add to soup. Mash some of the beans against the inside of the pot with the back of a spoon. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4-6.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Beware, Beware

My husband is frightened by Red River cereal. He claims the porridge is bad for his mental health.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Bedtime Prayers

We snuggled together on the big bed. The boys' hair lay damp and curly across the pillows. The sweet scent of bedtime filled the room --- peppermint, lavender soap and baby lotion. Our youngest son gently stroked a favourite stuffed animal as he closed his eyes and sincerely prayed:

"Dear God. Thank you for my little doggie. (Long pause.) And thank you for my doggie's googly eyes. (Another long pause.) Amen."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Cherry Delight Cake

Here's another one ...

I made this cake for the first time last weekend. I like this recipe because it is easy and adaptable. I made the cherry cake, but next time I may try blueberry or peach. I think strawberry cake topped with fresh strawberries in the summer could be tasty. (It could make a pretty dessert for Canada Day.)

Thanks to the ladies at Living on a Dime for another easy recipe!

1 pkg. white cake mix
1 pkg. (3oz) cherry gelatin
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 pkg. (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
2 cups whipped topping
1 can cherry pie filling

Bake cake in a 9x13 pan according to directions on box. Let cool. Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Poke holes in cake with toothpick or fork and gently pour gelatin over it. Cool for 15 minutes. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. In bowl beat cream cheese and fold in whipped topping. Carefully spread on cake. Top with pie filling and chill for 2 hours.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Taco Filling

I doubled this recipe and divided it into 2-cup portions. The doubled recipe made a total of 12 cups, or six meal-sized portions for our family. Our boys especially loved the soft-shelled tacos we ate for supper tonight. My younger son ate three (small) tacos all on his own! I served the taco meat with whole wheat flour tortillas, brown beans, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, grated cheddar, sour cream and salsa.

1 tbsp. vegetable oil
3 C. finely chopped onions (about 3 medium onions)
6 garlic cloves, minced (I omitted this)
1 jalapeno chile, minced (I omitted this)
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. ground cumin
1 tbsp. ground coriander
2 lbs. lean ground beef
1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes (I will use less next time)
coarse salt

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions; cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, jalapeno, chili powder, cumin and coriander; cook, stirring, 1 minute.

2. Add beef; cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. (Next time I will do this step first, drain off the fat, and then cook the onions and spices.) Stir in tomatoes; cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated, 15-20 minutes. Season generously with salt.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Christmas Baking

This week I plan to start one of my favourite activities --- Christmas baking! I recognize that this year I am in the hungry stage of pregnancy, and have the potential to go overboard with my Christmas treats. (Previous years are a testament to that fact!) Therefore, I've decided to carefully curtail my Christmas baking. I plan to make only a few tried-and-true favourites.

I will be trading treats with a friendly mom from my son's junior kindergarten class. We each plan to bake a batch of cookies and a pan of squares to share. I've proposed to make chocolate-dipped shortbread and turtle brownies. My friend will bake stained glass window cookies and caramel pecan bars.

I addition, I would like to bake two other easy cookie recipes. My kids love chocolate-kissed peanut butter cookies. I also plan to make cinnamon crescent rolls.

And that's it! Not too crazy this year, just enough to share with guests and family over the next month. Though I must admit ... I am sorely tempted to add one or two more recipes to my Christmas list. We'll see how well I stick to my conservative baking plan :-).

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Menu Plan Monday
November 19, 2007

I am feeling tired an uninspired this evening. No time better than the present to plan my weekly menu, I guess!

Here's my proposed menu for the upcoming week. I plan to make double batches of the taco meat, soup and chicken dish in order to fill my freezer.

Monday: No cooking! (Supper at my parents')
Tuesday: Soft-shell tacos, brown beans
Wednesday: Hamburger soup, homemade bread
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Indonesian chicken in peanut sauce, brown rice, cabbage salad
Saturday: Supper with friends.
Sunday: No cooking! (Supper at Ben's parents')

I am also looking forward to using my new baking pans. (Thank you, Mom.) I plan to make banana bread in my mini loaf pan. I may also try baking some cute mini muffins as well. In a few weeks it will be my turn to bring a snack for my son's class at school. I think mini muffins could be just perfect, so I will have to experiment with a few new recipes!

Indonesian Chicken in Peanut Sauce (from Canadian Living Magazine)

8 skinless chicken thighs
5 carrots, thickly sliced
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 C. water
3/4 C. smooth peanut butter
1/4 C. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. hot pepper flakes (I omit this)
1 C. frozen peas
1 tsp. white wine vinegar
2 green onions, sliced
1/2 C. chopped unsalted peanuts

Step 1: Arrange chicken in dutch oven; top with carrots, onions and garlic.

Step 2: Whisk together water, peanut butter, soy sauce, ginger and hot pepper flakes; add to pan.

Step 3: Cover and cook in 350F oven for 1 1/2 hours or until juices run clear when chicken is pierced.

Step 4: Stir in peas and vinegar; let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Serve garnished with green onions and peanuts.

Slow Cooker: Use 16-24 cup (4-6 L) slow cooker; cook all but peas and vinegar on LOW for 4 to 6 hours, or cook on HIGH for 2 hours. Add peas and vinegar; cook on LOW for 10 minutes. Garnish as directed. (I prefer using the slow cooker for this recipe.)


If you would like to browse more great meal plans, please visit the Menu Plan Monday link at Org Junkie.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Anna Maria Horner's Crafty Goodness

I recently added a new link to my sideblog. Anna Marian Horner is a mom of five beautiful children and is an inspiring artist, crafter and entrepreneur. Take a look at her blog here. Her website is also filled with delicious images and project ideas.

Anna Maria appeared on the Martha Stewart show earlier this week. You may view her segment on the show here. Her "painted fabric silhouettes" project has started my own creative juices flowing. My boys room needs a couple of pictures to decorate the walls. Wouldn't a pair of Bob the Builder fabric silhouettes make cute decorations? I already have most of the required materials on hand...

Friday, November 16, 2007

Baby Love

I felt our new baby move for the first time this week :-).

Thursday, November 15, 2007

What I'll Be Singing in My Sleep ...

I enjoy sleeping and I especially like dreaming. My dreams are suprisingly vivid but they're seldom scary or disturbing. As well, my dreams are always accompanied by a musical soundtrack. (I am not making this up.)

I've often wished I could specifically remember the music in my dreams. It's so real and bright when I'm sleeping, but I'll open my eyes and the music always fades away into silence. It's so disappointing. Some rare nights I wake up with a theme still running though my head. I think to myself, "There's no way I'll forget that in the morning," but I sadly always do.

Today my three-year-old son sang the same cute, little ditty. All. Day. Long. It went something like this...

Three little speckled frogs, sitting on a speckled log.
Eating lots of delicious bugs.
Yum! Yum! Yum!

That song has wormed its way into my brain, and for the life of me, I can't shake it out. My dreams tonight will be populated by speckled frogs. No doubt about it.

But at least I'll have an entertaining soundtrack to go along with them.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Hungry, Hungry, Hungry

It's no coincidence that I embarked on my recipe binder adventure at the same time I entered the second trimester of pregnancy. I am officially into the hungry stage of this baby-making journey. I think about food. A lot.

I've spent hours and hours leafing through (drooling over) food magazines, tearing out any and every tantalizing recipe. Thank goodness for my generous friends, women willing to feed my voracious recipe habit. My food binders are shaping up quite nicely. And I still have a lovely stack of magazines to sort through.

So tonight I am faced with several options ... Should I cut into the yummy fabric I purchased last week? Will I crack open that new book on potty training? Or would I rather sort through a few more recipes?

I think I know which activity will win out. This is the hungry stage, after all. ;-)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Another Milestone

My Baby Girl is growing up. She's officially seventeen months old today. She is also officially weaned.

My big girl has not nursed for more than four days in a row now. For several weeks she had only nursed for a few minutes each morning. Last week I (reluctantly) decided it was time for her to wean completely.

For whatever reason, I have weaned each of our children at exactly sixteen weeks into the following pregnancy. I haven't consciously made the decision or kept a particular date in mind. My body just says it is time, and I must concentrate fully on the new baby growing inside.

My big girl has adjusted quite well. She still asks for "muck" every morning, but is content with snuggles and tickles instead. I must admit, I am happy with our new found independence. However, I am also very much looking forward to snuggling my new little nursling in a few months time :-).

Monday, November 12, 2007

It's an Animal Rescue!

The few weeks ago we borrowed a Diego video from the library. Because we don't have a TV, it was the first time our boys have ever watched the popular show. Our three-year-old son was particularly enthralled by the video. Animal rescues! Exotic travel! Cool explorer clothes!

Since then, he regularly pretends to be Diego. Our little guy puts on his yellow rubber boots and orange Nemo backpack. He totes a toy butterfly net through the house, "rescuing animals in trouble". Our son can't get enough of the game.

This morning he wandered down the front hall as his daddy was leaving for work. His chubby, little hands were cupped around a precious treasure.

"What do you have there, Buddy?" Ben asked.

"Oh, nothing," our son replied, "It's just a pygmy marmoset."

A pygmy marmoset!? Where did he learn that one? I didn't even know what a pygmy marmoset was until I looked it up!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Menu Plan Monday
November 12, 2007

Inquiring minds want to know: Is there an easy way to cube a raw butternut squash?

With that question in mind ... here is my potential menu plan for the upcoming week:

Monday: Squash and bean chili, cornmeal muffins
Tuesday: Cheesy chicken and rice casserole, spinach and orange salad
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Homemade soup (from the freezer), fresh bread
Friday: Homemade pizza, broccoli slaw
Saturday: Leftovers
Sunday: No cooking! (Supper at Ben's parents')

Menu Plan Monday is hosted each week by Laura. Check out more great meal plans at Laura's site, Org Junkie.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Our little girl has a soft, sensitive heart.

Last night our children slept over at their grandparents' while Ben and I enjoyed a fun date. Today when we came by to pick up the kids, our three-year-old burst into tears.

"No, no, no!" he cried, "I don't wanna go home! I wanna stay here!" He collapsed in a heap on the floor and buried his head in my lap.

Our seventeen-month-old crawled across the floor toward her distraught brother. She picked up a stray kleenex along the way.

"Dere y' go," she said as she lovingly wiped the tissue across her brother's face. Our caring girl gently patted his cheek.

"Nose. Eyes." She carefully dabbed his tears with her kleenex.

As her brother's crying subsided, she once again exclaimed, "Dere y' go!" and crawled away to play. The soggy kleenex lay abandoned on the carpet.

Our little girl has such a gentle, caring attitude. I look forward to seeing what a beautiful woman of God she will become :-).

Thursday, November 08, 2007


Beep, beep, beep, beep .... beep, beep, beep, beep.

Groggy and half-asleep, I groaned and opened my eyes. "What in the world? What time is it?" I silently wondered as I slid my glasses in front of my eyes.

I squinted at the clock.


Beep, beep, beep, beep .... beep, beep, beep, beep.

The strange beeping originated from our sons' room. I rolled out of bed and staggered to their door.

Beep, beep, beep, beep .... beep, beep, beep, beep.

A single nightlight cast an eerie glow across the room. I fumbled through the boys' toy drawers, searching, searching.

Beep, beep, beep, beep! .... beep, beep, beep, beep!

Eureka! I unearthed the source of the annoying noise. It was a small alarm clock, hidden among the toys.



I quietly tip-toed across the room and hovered near the boys' bed. My two tired boys snored away, undisturbed.

I shook my head in silent wonder and mused, "Those boys could sleep through a tornado ... and they're only preschoolers. I can't imagine the industrial-strength alarm clock they will need as teenagers!"

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Christmas Wish List (Update)

While the subject is on my mind ... I've thought of a few more gift ideas for the children. (You may take a look at the original wish lists here and here. I updated a few of the entries.)

  • New slippers for the boys. Our stone floor is cold in the winter and it wears through socks like sandpaper. The boys could use some sturdy slippers with rubber soles. Big Brother wears size 12. Little Brother is about an 8.
  • A family pass to Heritage Park.
  • Big Brother is totally fascinated by books about the human body. (Books appropriate for preschoolers, of course!)
  • Wooden blocks.
Gifts for the Children

I am finally getting a start on my Christmas gift shopping. My goal is to have everything ready by the end of November. (We'll see!) I have purchased only our children's gifts so far.

Ben and I have a gift-giving tradition. We choose to give each member of our immediate family three presents: a book, a toy and a piece of clothing. I ordered some neat new books for the kids from my son's book order. (Now I have to figure out how to get them home from school without him knowing!) Last weekend I bought materials to sew each of the children matching flannel pajamas. (I will share pictures if the PJs turn out well.)

Best of all, I found the perfect toy for our children. For months, Ben and I have wanted to buy a play kitchen for the kids. Last week I spotted the "Inside / Outside Cook n' Grill Kitchen" in an Air Miles Christmas catalogue. I redeemed some Air Miles to buy the kitchen (because we hardly ever travel anyway). It should arrive at the end of the month! I even received free shipping! What a blessing.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Laughter Therapy

(This groaner is courtesy of my dad.)

What did the zero say to the eight?

Hey, nice belt!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Menu Plan Monday
November 5, 2007

Thanks to Laura for hosting Menu Plan Monday! Check out the Mr. Linky on Laura's new site for some great meal-planning inspiration. Without further ado, here is my proposed menu plan for the upcoming week:

Monday: No cooking! (Supper at my parents')
Tuesday: Beef Pot Roast with Really Good Gravy (slow cooker), nugget potatoes, peas, carrots
Wednesday: Beef Pot Pie, green salad
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Date night!! (The kids are sleeping over at Grandma and Grandpas')
Saturday: Homemade pizza, raw veggie platter with dip
Sunday: No cooking! (Supper at Ben's parents')

Homemade Pizza Crust

I make this pizza crust in my 2lb. Black and Decker automatic bread maker. It makes enough dough for three regular-crust 12" round pizzas or one thick-crust 9"x13" deep dish pizza. I prefer to use whole wheat flour.

1 1/2 C. beer or water
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. butter or margarine
4 1/4 C. white flour
2 tsp. yeast
Pizza topping ingredients

1. Measure first six ingredients in the order listed into the Baking Pan.
2. Insert Baking Pan securely into unit; close lid.
3. Select "dough" setting and push start button. There will be a 25-minute preheat delay before mixing begins.
4. The Complete Signal will sound when the dough is done.
5. Using a pot holder, remove Baking Pan from the unit.
6. Remove dough from Baking Pan to a lightly floured surface. If necessary, knead in enough flour to make dough easy to handle.
7. Grease 12-inch pizza pans and sprinkle with cornmeal. Divide dough into thirds.
8. Roll out one piece of dough and place on pan or pat in pan.
9. Top each pizza with desired pizza topping ingredients, such as tomato sauce, meat, vegetables and cheese.
10. Bake in preheated 425F oven for 15-25 minutes, or until done. Pizza is done when edges of crust are golden and cheese is bubbly.

(Time: 2 hours for dough)


In related news ... I am slowly continuing to compile my recipe binders. I have fallen in love with Martha Stewart's Everyday Food, and have nearly decimated the stack of magazines from my friend. This week's recipes for Tuesday and Wednesday are courtesy of Canadian Living Magazine, November 2005.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Christmas Candy Wreath

Would you like to take advantage of Halloween candy sales this weekend? Check out this cute video from the ladies at Living on a Dime. The Christmas candy wreath is super-easy to make. Even preschoolers can help out ... if you can keep them from eating all the candy!

My husband has requested a "rocket wreath" for the door of his office. (Though he won't guarantee the wreath will last until Christmas. Those guys are candy fiends.) I think I'll also make a wreath for our home, depending on the candies I can find on sale.


Potty Training Update

Three accidents, three pairs of soiled underwear today. Guess we're not getting off easy on this whole potty training exercise.

Good thing it was laundry day...

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Day After

Our big boy was thoroughly spoiled on his birthday yesterday. We had a small party last night and invited our family over for cupcakes and presents. Our three-year-old is a sociable guy at the best of times. He was in his element at the much-anticipated Curious George Party. What a cute guy!

The kids spent hours this morning playing with our son's new presents. He received some very nice gifts. Favourites included a "builders and benders" type construction set, a lacing toy (as in shoe laces), and an "Optimash Prime" Potato Head. The kids were enthralled by the new Spot 7 book as well.

This morning the boys also created colourful pictures with our son's new paint set. I think we may use the paintings as Christmas wrap next month ... if they ever dry, that is. The pictures are still sitting on our kitchen counter. Hopefully the paint will dry overnight!

Our new paint set. The tubes have brushes built right in.

Some beautiful blobs (I mean works of art).

The painting on the left is titled "Lindsay and Benjamin dancing on their wedding day".

In related news, our three-year-old received one other notable gift for his birthday --- a new potty. (Potty training has been a struggle for our easy-going second son.) Today he used his potty six times and went diaperless all day long. No accidents! His underwear even stayed dry through nap time. It would appear a new potty and Halloween candy bribes are a powerful combination ;-).

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Happy Birthday!!

Can it be? Our big boy is three years old today. How could he grow up so quickly?

The birthday boy.

Brotherly love (with many snuggles).

Our birthday boy is very much looking forward to his Curious George party tonight. We're off to make a batch of monkey cupcakes this morning!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Storybook Trio

Little Brother as a fearsome dragon, Little Sister as a beautiful princess, and Big Brother as a noble (albeit rather goofy) knight.

Monday, October 29, 2007

One of Those Days

Suffice it to say, our young heroine enjoyed a interesting day ...
  • Flaky toaster + smoke detector + mom out of the room = mild heart attack
  • Stinky diaper + artistic toddler + extra-long "nap" = a big mess

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Menu Plan Monday
October 29, 2007

This week is shaping up to be more busy than usual for our family as we have two big evening events. Of course, on Wednesday it is Halloween. We're planning to attend the annual costume carnival at our church. On Thursday we will celebrate our middle son's third birthday. What a big boy!

Hop on over to Org Junkie's new site for more great meal planning ideas. Be sure to check out the Menu Plan Monday Mr. Linky.

Here is my menu plan for the upcoming week:

Monday: No cooking! (Supper at my parents')
Tuesday: Leftovers from the weekend.
Wednesday: Beef taco skillet, brown beans, corn and green salad.
Thursday: Spaghetti pie, cheese toast, green salad and birthday cupcakes!
Friday: Leftovers.
Saturday: Chicken and rice soup (from our freezer), homemade bread.
Sunday: No cooking! (Supper at Ben's parents')

Beef Taco Skillet
(A Campbell's soup recipe)

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 can tomato soup
1/2 C. salsa
1/2 C. water
6 flour tortillas cut into 1" pieces
1/2 C. shredded cheddar cheese

1. Cook beef in 10" skillet until well browned, stirring to break up meat. Pour off fat.
2. Stir in soup, salsa, water, tortilla. Heat to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for 5 min. Stir. Top with cheese. Makes 4 servings.

Creamy Mexican Fiesta: Stir in 1/2 C. sour cream with soup.

Ranchero Style: Use corn tortillas instead of flour tortillas and shredded Mexican cheese blend instead of cheddar.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

It's Got Teeth Like ...

My almost-five-year-old son likes to experiment with words. That child's vocabulary puts me to shame sometimes. Today he casually made the following statement about our pet hamster:

"You know Hazelnut? Well, she's very malicious ... If you put your finger in her cage she'll bite it right off!"

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The View From My Back Window

This is what we woke up to this morning ...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Only in Calgary

Today the weather was unseasonably warm. It must have been at least 20 degrees C. I saw several people wearing shorts. In October.

I just looked outside.

It's snowing.

Quiet Evening

Our kids have been very tired these past few nights. This evening they were all asleep by seven thirty. I must admit, I really like the nights our children go to bed early. I can have two or three hours all to myself, to plug away at the little projects I have on the go.

Tonight I have been sewing the quilted wall hanging for our kitchen. It's getting close to completion! The top is pieced together and I just finished pinning and trimming the "sandwich". I believe I will work on the quilting part a bit tonight, and hopefully finish it up tomorrow. The finished quilt will measure roughly 48" by 24". It's the perfect dimensions to hang behind the long side of our kitchen table.

I'm uncommonly pleased with how this project is turning out. I've been working without a pattern, and was unsure how everything would look. All of the materials for the quilt have come from my (teeny-tiny) fabric stash. The only thing I purchased were the fabric markers! I laughed this evening because I (barely) had enough cotton batting in my stash to construct the sandwich. It's a good thing the batting doesn't show --- I had to piece it all together like a mismatched jigsaw puzzle.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Book Review:

No Sheep For You
by Amy R. Singer

I am a knitting newbie. I picked up some needles for the first time (in a long, long time) about a year ago and started making an afghan. (I have since learned a valuable lesson --- start with a small project.) My afghan is about 1/5 done. At that rate, I figure I have about four more years of work ahead of me.

I'm not exactly a gifted knitter, but someday I'd like to be. I love browsing through magazines and books about knitting and crochet. My collection of "some day" patterns is ever growing larger. Fiber arts are enjoying a renaissance in the world of crafts, and hip new books on the topic seem to come out every day.

No Sheep For You is a fun, informative book. The pages are brimming with fiber art eye candy. (You have to love the cheeky cover photo.) I will admit, some of the information (and all of the project patterns) were over my newbie knitter head. I gleaned as much as I could and simply drooled over the luscious photographs.

Amy Singer's writing style is witty and unpretentious. She explains complex manufacturing processes in simple terms, in ways even a fiber newbie can understand. Amy is well-known within the knitting community as the founder of (Hooray for Canadians!) She's an expert in her field, and it shows. No Sheep For You is filled with helpful information and gorgeous projects.

I greatly enjoyed browsing through the pages of this book, and highly recommend it to other knitting aficionados.

Hello in There!

Today I had my second appointment with the midwife. We heard the baby's heartbeat for the first time :-).

Monday, October 22, 2007

Letting Go --- Getting Organized

Today I started a new project. It's something I can work on a few minutes at a time, whenever I get a spare moment or two. Basically, I am making two super-organized binders --- one for my recipes and another for interesting craft projects.

I have piles of Canadian Living and Martha Stewart magazines gathering dust on my bookshelf. Yesterday a friend also blessed me with a delicious stack of Everyday Food. I've dog-eared many of the magazine pages, but the truth is, I rarely look at them (or remember what's on the pages I was interested in). Therefore, I've finally decided to defile my sacred magazines and (gasp) tear out the pages I like. I'll recycle or give away the old magazines and gain valuable new shelf space!

Somewhere around here I have a big box of plastic page protectors. (I just have to find it!) I also have another box of old, but still good, binders. I found a stack of binder tabs in my office supplies drawer. I plan to protect and categorize every recipe and craft page I've saved. Hopefully, I'll end up with a couple of terrific, functional new home-management binders.

Some of the categories I plan to use for the crafts binder:
paper crafts
crafts for kids

Some of the categories I plan to use for the recipes binder:
main dishes (I will likely break this down further: chicken, beef, fish, casseroles, etc.)

I'm sure the categories I require will become self-evident as I sort through my mess of recipes. I love doing this kind of stuff. Here's to some happy organizing!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Thought for the Day

Baking Christmas cookies during the hungry stage of pregnancy is a dangerous proposition.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Room to Breathe

Yesterday I started working on a quilted wall hanging for our dining area. (Or rather, corner of the kitchen). I've had the idea bubbling in my brain for several weeks. I had each of the children draw on a square of fabric with permanent pens. The three large squares are surrounded by a grid of small patchwork squares and then bordered by wide strips. (I will post pictures as the project progresses.) In all, the wall hanging will measure around 4o" wide by 18" tall.

This afternoon I was able to piece together most of the top. (I only have the borders left to finish.) The little ones took long afternoon naps. Ordinarily, I would take a nap as well, but my eldest son was home from school and Ben was at his office. My big boy contentedly played Lego on the floor of my bedroom while I sewed ... for nearly two hours.

It was a delightful afternoon.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Today was one of those rare days ... a day where there were enough hours to get everything done. I crossed many items off my "to do" list. (Well, except for cleaning the bathroom, but that's what tomorrow is for!)

I'm sure my productivity was greatly enhanced by the fact that my mom took the boys to the playground this morning. Thank you, Mom! It's amazing how much can get done in an hour of uninterrupted work.

So here's to a (very nearly) clean house, a freezer full of meals, and an unhurried weekend stretching before me.

That stack of new library books is sure lookin' good ...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Recommended Reading:

Safely Home
by Randy Alcorn

Some books change your perspective on life. They challenge your faith and strengthen your love for God. My friend recommended Safely Home to me with the following disclaimer: read this book, but know that you will never see life in the same way again. My friend's statement was true. Safely Home has altered my view of Christianity, the persecuted church, and my eternal destination.

Though this book is a work of fiction, it is based on Biblical and cultural research. Most of the story takes place in China and follows the journeys of two men. Ben Fielding is an American businessman, obsessed with his pursuit of the almighty dollar, seemingly successful in every area of life. Li Quan is a poor, working class, Chinese citizen. His family belongs to a persecuted Chinese house church. Ben and Quan met as university students and became close friends through their college years. Most of Safely Home occurs in China, where Ben stays with Li Quan's family in a small rural village.

Randy Alcorn's novel is unique because it describes heaven, and God's perspective of His persecuted church, in startling detail. I am currently reading Alcorn's non-fiction work, Heaven. It is an extensive study of our eternal home based on solid Biblical research. I believe Heaven is a good companion read to Safely Home, and heartily recommend both books. Truly, these books have changed my perspective of eternity. I am no longer afraid of death, and am, in fact, looking forward to the day I will walk with Jesus through the streets of my eternal home.

The subject matter of Safely Home is, at times, difficult to wade through. Alcorn does not shy away from controversial topics. Some scenes vividly describe persecution, torture, slavery, and even death. I believe Christians in North America often live in a bubble of isolation. We are not exposed to great suffering or persecution for our faith. However, the persecuted church is real, and martyrdom is a daily reality for Christians in many parts of the world.

Therefore, I highly recommend Safely Home with the following disclaimer: read this book, but know you will never see life in the same way again.