Monday, December 16, 2013

A book for advent

This is one of our favorite Christmas stories. Big Mac read it as his reading book a few years ago and we were in love. With seven chapters, it's a great Advent read for the seven lessons days right before Christmas. We're starting today. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Green Tomato Jam

What do you do with all those leftover green tomatoes?  You make jam, obviously!

Green Tomato Jam
4 C. ground green tomatoes
4 C. sugar
1 large box raspberry jello.

Mix ground tomatoes (you just need to wash them and grind them in your food processor), and sugar in a large stock pot.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes.  Stir in jello and mix thoroughly.  Pack into hot sterilized jars and seal.  Boil in a waterbath for 15 more minutes.  It tastes and has the texture of raspberry jam.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

More Art

A few months ago I shared with you the Art of my mother, Jacqueline E. Shank.  She signs all her paintings, "Jackie."  Well, on our trip to North and South Carolina, we saw a painting that didn't make the book at my Aunt and Uncle's house in Charleston, SC.  Want to see it?

This was in the room in which I slept.  Pretty cool huh?

Monday, December 9, 2013

Our Ridiculous Trip

On our trip through North and South Carolina was full of rainbows and ridiculous faith!  My sister is the conference treasurer for the Eastern Regional Conference of the Churches of God.  If you go to the website you will see Colleen's face scrolling by you at the top.  She's the beautiful brunette in the orange top with a floral scarf.  She needed to take a trip to visit several young churches in North and South Carolina.  Since it's not a good idea to travel alone, she asked if I could travel with her.

Our first night was spent with our Aunt and Uncle in Charleston, SC.  BUT on the drive down to them on Sunday afternoon we saw a FULL rainbow.  We actually had to pull off of the highway because both of us were trying to get a better view!

We spent Sunday evening walking around Charleston with our favorite Aunt and Uncle.  I spent a lot of time with these two when I was growing up and they are very dear to us.  As we walked, and toured more of the city the next day, they were telling us about their church.  Their church is nicknamed the "social conscious of Charleston."  They are very outreach minded.  My uncle is a reading tutor at a local elementary school through a program his church developed with the school.  The amount of outreach they are doing is immense.  This began a theme on our trip.  I was soon to learn about amazing outreach at almost all of our meetings.

After saying goodbye to Charleston and our family, we headed to Hilton Head for another rainbow.  We had a few hours before our first meeting with the local church, so we took a long walk on the beach.  After we turned to head back toward our hotel we saw a small rainbow in the sky.  If you look at the picture, you can sort of see it to the left of the bright sunshine.

That night we met with a couple who are planting a church outside of Hilton Head.  There, I fell in love with their little granddaughter, but I also heard about their outreach to seniors of single mothers.  Because they know how difficult it can be for a single mom to provide all that their child needs when they head off to college, this little church is adopting these seniors and sending them off to college with towels, sheets, cleaning and laundry supplies and other essentials.  Throughout the year they will support these college freshmen with care packages.  Keep in mind, these is not a church that can even pay their pastors.  They are a baby church with baby offerings.  But they are spending those offerings in outreach into their communities.  This is the church that has partnered with the local Hispanic ministry.  They will share a facility and also occasionally share services in order to reach out to each other and their different communities.

At the beginning of this trip, I started a new devotional about Elisha called "A Tale of Ridiculous Faith."  It was at this first meeting where I heard the term "ridiculous" when talking about faith.  I was to hear the word ridiculous, or ridiculous faith every day after that.  God was telling me through others that our faith is meant to be ridiculous.  I was meeting these pastor couples who were working full-time, raising families, and being full-time pastors.  Ridiculous.  They were doing ENORMOUS outreach with a TINY budget.  Ridiculous.  They were seeing people come to Christ each Sunday and encouraging new and long-time believers to grow in Christ all the while dealing with everyday life.  RIDICULOUS.  There are days when I struggle to get out of my jammies.  I was so humbled by who I met and what I saw.

We left Hilton Head the next day and drove to Raleigh for another meeting.  The following day we headed to Asheville for another meeting.  Then the next day back to Raleigh for two more meetings and a boot camp.  Each time I met people passionate about planting churches to reach unbelievers and unchurched for Christ.  I met a man who's goal is to have a ministry in every prison in North Carolina, again, with a shoestring budget.  I met a woman who laughed with us and showed us the Joy of the Lord, only to find out that she, at around 30 years old, had been widowed in the last year and was a single mom.  But she told us about her joy and how she shares it with others.  I met another woman who is planting a church and feeding people.  Her weekly offering is small-small-small, but last month, she fed 650 people.  That is not a typo.  She and her small church fed 650 people healthy food.  She said she looked at her town and thought, "What do they need."  And she fed them. She said that by eliminating their basest needs they will then see their need for Christ.

Finally, Colleen spoke at a boot camp for church planters.  Some of the people we had met on our trip were at the boot camp, but there were also a lot of new faces.  People desiring to be part of the new thing God is doing.  Colleen spoke about setting up your finances in a Godly accountable fashion.  And then she spoke about Biblical Generosity.  This is the talk everyone needs to hear.  We need to celebrate that we are able to give to the Lord.  We need to give our tithe, but we need to give beyond our tithe.  And when we give, we should giggle as we're doing it.  Hooray!  We GET to give!

At our first meeting on Monday night, we were told that when it's time to give an offering the congregation stands up and cheers. "Yay! It's time to give our offering!"  At another church meeting we were told about one Sunday when a pastor watched everyone give their tithes and offerings.  When the offering was over he said, "OK.  We're going to do that again.  I watched you all give your offering with sour faces and doom and gloom.  We're going to give again, but this time, we are going to smile and give God praise."  He went on to say that they didn't need to retithe, but they needed to give a small something and do it with joy.

I came back to Pennsylvania a changed woman.  I believe in church planting.  I believe that the existing church needs to get behind church planting and begin to sow into it.  This is how the church grows.  If you would like to know more, check out the 20/20 website. And if you would like my sister to come and talk to you about Biblical Generosity and accountable practices in your church, let me know.  I can probably make that happen for you.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Fun Things to Crochet

I like to spend some time (usually on Sundays) cruising a few of my favorite blogs.  I only do it once a week, so there's always new content to spark my creative interests.  Here's what I found that's fun today:

I LOVE this evergreen garland.  That MAY be my mantel decoration this year, if I get gift knitting and crochet finished.

These knitty ornaments would be so quick to make and are really cute.

I love, love, love these 2-round stars from Moogly and have made about 50 of them in the last 2 weeks.  But check out the zip tie book mark that Creative Jewish Mom made here.  You could use any little motif to make a cute bookmark from a zip tie.  Brilliant!

Although this has been a pleasant little diversion I've got to get back to Christmas knit and crochet!  I'm working on a pair of socks for our giving tree person.  I've got to finish the first sock and start and finish the second sock in 1 week.  Think I can do it?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Grace Unplugged and Own It

I've often heard people say that they don't read fiction.  I've even heard some say they don't have time for fiction.  I have to tell you that I learned as much from reading Grace Unplugged as I have from reading any non-fiction book, but more on that later. To celebrate my mom's 80th birthday today, September 25, 2013, I'm hosting a giveaway of two fabulous books, Grace Unplugged and Own it.  Grace Unplugged is a major motion picture premiering in just  over a week.  After reading the book, I'm excited to see the movie.  Read the end of this post to find out how to win your own copy of both of these books.

I mentioned that reading Grace Unplugged taught me a lot.  At first as I read, I thought Grace, an 18 year old, needed a good spanking.  But as I kept reading I learned that I have a lot of Grace in me.  I think we all do.  As I journeyed with her while she learned who she was in Christ, I learned a lot about myself too.  Here's more about these two books:

About Grace Unplugged the Novel
Grace Trey is an 18 year old singer as passionate about her Christian faith as she is her phenomenal, God-given musical talent. Both traits come from her father, one hit wonder Johnny Trey who found Jesus after losing his chart success two decades ago. 

When Grace encounters her own music break of a lifetime, the sudden dive into the "real world" puts her deeper beliefs to the test. Pop superstardom is just within reach but appears to require some spiritual compromise. Will Grace reject her faith, or will she own it? 

Grace Unplugged is based on the motion picture of the same name starring AJ Michalka (Super 8) and Kevin Pollak (A Few Good Men) with performances by award-winning artists Chris Tomlin and Jamie Grace. 

You can learn even more about Grace Unplugged the novel and the movie here:
Grace Unplugged Movie Facebook:
Grace Unpluggled Movie Twitter: @GraceMovie
Grace Unplugged Website:
B&H Facebook:
B&H Twitter: @BHpub
And remember to check out the Grace Unplugged movie trailer

About Own It, Discover Your Faith in God
The movie Grace Unplugged tells the story of Grace Trey, an ideal Christian teenager who is also a phenomenal singer. But when she is pushed into the “real world” at the tender age of eighteen after getting the music break of a lifetime, her faith is put to the test.
Own It mirrors the film by asking what it means to really “own” your personal faith rather than just automatically following in the footsteps of parents, friends, or other influencers. Best-selling authors Hayley and Michael DiMarco help readers understand what to do when faith meets real world challenges.
Without solid beliefs, poor choices are likely to follow. You must take the time to really know who you are, who you are becoming, and who God made you to be. It's your personal faith . . . own it!

Both books are a learning experience.  If you have teens in your house, you really want them to read Own It. Own It is going to be required reading for both boys later this year.

And now here's the fun part:  If you would like to own a copy of both of these great books, just leave a comment below to be in the running.  On Friday, October 4, 2013, which is the premier date for the movie, I will draw one lucky winner who will receive BOTH books shipped to you by the publisher.  SO, just leave a comment below.  That's all you have to do.  Leave a comment... so what are you waiting for?  Get typing!!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Finished Another Grace Chapel Inn Series Book!

This morning, the house was quiet, so I took 45 minutes to finish a book.  A few months ago, I was perusing CBD's catalog when I saw a listing for the Grace Chapel Inn Series.  I took a chance and searched Paperback Swap to see if any of the books were available.  They were!  So, I ordered the first four books in the series. 

I fell in love with the Grace Chapel Inn books from the very first page.  They are the story of three sisters who inherit their family's home and turn it into a Bed and Breakfast.  Each book is written by a rotating list of authors but you can not tell from book to book.  These books are charming.  I am inspired by the attitudes of the three sisters and have learned a lot about my own attitude from them. 

Portraits of the Past, Tales from Grace Chapel Inn   -     
        By: Rebecca Kelly
I am a light fiction reader.  I enjoy a happy ending.  I don't like to cry when I read.  These books are enjoyable and easy to read.  There's nothing objectionable and everything inspirational.  I have read the first four books in the series and this morning I finished book five:  Portraits of the Past. 

Each book has a recipe at the end of the book.  Book number 3:  Recipes and Wooden Spoons is FULL of recipes throughout the story. 

If you need some light reading for the summer, or any time of the year, and you want to get attached to three lovely sisters and day dream about staying in an inn in a beautiful small town in Pennsylvania, then I highly recommend Grace Chapel Inn. 

And if you don't want to spend money on new books to read, try out Paperback Swap.  I've used it for a couple years.  I've gotten books for our homeschool through PBS.  I've gotten LOTS of books that I've wished for.  You list the books you own that you are willing to ship to someone else, and then when someone orders one of your books you get a credit to order a book from someone else.  For under $3 (usually the cost of mailing a paperback book via media mail) you can get a book you really want.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Seasoning for Tuna Salad

I just made a delicious tuna salad for lunch. I only use albacore tuna packed in water because I don't like a fishy taste. But today I used a small palmful of this salt-free seasoning. I picked it up at the McCormick store in Inner Harbor. It made the tastiest tuna salad I've ever made! I'll have to poke around and see what other recipes coul be livened up with this seasoning. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Birthday America!

This morning Wendy at LYS posted a link to the July 4th Hat couldn't resist it. I ran up to my stash and pulled out some red, white, and blue worsted. I made two before the end of the day!

I started with a size 5 needle for the ribbing and a size 6 for the body to get a tighter fit. I tend to need to go down a size or two when making hats. I don't know why. 

Happy Independence Day one and all!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Kids Bowl Free

This is our third year to take part in the kids bowl free summer program.  We found the program in the middle of the summer two years ago.  We joined, even though we had mist two months of it because it was still a great deal.  Our boys could bowl two games a day for the cost of shoes.  We bought a family membership so that the Big Dog and I could bowl with them.  I believe we paid around $25 for the family membership for the whole summer!  This year, Big Mac is on the family membership since T-bone is the only eligible child.

Our usual day to bowl is Sunday afternoons.  We go to church about an hour from our house so we're out anyway and the bowling alley is also a little over 30 minutes away.  So Sunday's are our day.  But sometimes we head over to the alleys for two quick games on a weekday just because we have plans to be in the area.

It is SO much fun.  We all pick silly names for the scoreboard.  Our alley has themes for the scoreboards that show special animations when you finish a frame.  We like the underwater theme.  AND we bowl with bumpers.  I am an excellent bowler when bowling with bumpers!

This is such a great program and the price is so reasonable.  There are only a few exercises that our children truly enjoy.  But bowling gives us a chance to have fun as a family, get a little exerc
ise, and just be silly.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Greek Fest

I remember Maggie Hogan saying once that learning geography is so much more than maps.  You need to learn about a country's culture.  And that is truly learning geography.  Well, we had a chance to learn about Greek Culture this spring when we visited the Greek Fest at a local Greek Orthodox Church.

There was delicious food.  We tried just about everything and brought home some baklava.  There was entertainment.  We watched the children's troop in traditional garb do several dances.

We toured the church and it was really lovely.  There were crafts displays in the rooms downstairs.  But the sanctuary is really lovely.  All in all it was a great way to learn a bit more about Greek culture and religion.  Maggie Hogan was right!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Knit Out.

Not to be confused with the Knit In we do in August, or World Wide Knitting in Public Day which also happens in June, my BFF and I participated in a Knit Out at a store in Southern PA called The Knitting Cottage.  This was a wonderful day!

It was really warm for early June so we were a little worried about knitting outside in the heat, but there were a few awnings put up under a cluster of trees.  All day there was a lovely breeze.  I didn't get hot at all.

But it was really the people who made this day special.  Of course any day with the girl who's known me longer than any friend on the planet is a good day.  But the group of knitters that spend time at the Knitting Cottage are such a friendly group.  We have knit at different stores over the last few years, but this group was special.  They treated us like they had known us forever.  They even invited us to knit with them on Saturdays.  One of the girls said, "Sometimes we go out to lunch after a morning knitting!"  It was like we were locals.  I felt completely at home at The Knitting Cottage.  I just wish it wasn't over an hour and a half away from home.

When we arrived under the tents they handed us one of those "Hi My Name Is" stickers.  Some people hate them, but I don't.  It's a way for people to get to know you.  And the ladies all took the time to learn our names as they spoke to us.

While there I cast on a new pattern.  A few friends and I are working on "Racing Raindrops" from Churchmouse Yarns and Teas. This is the first time I have knit with beads and I love it!  It's a simple procedure to add the beads as you go instead of pre-stringing them.  I can't wait to be able to wear this baktus-type scarf in the near future.  It's a very easy pattern but a great way to begin with beads.

I bought some lime-green DK-weight cotton to make this hat.  I'll blog about that in a couple days, I think.  I also got a frixion pen.  Have you found those yet?  They're great erasable pens.

It was a terrific day.  A week later we celebrated WWKIP at another of our favorite stores in the opposite direction.  I'll tell you about that another time.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

No bake cheesecake

Here's a glimpse of tonight's dessert. It's No Cook Red, White, and Blue Cheesecake from Everyday Food!  

Are you doing any special weekend cooking?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Survival Day

On Friday, May 31, 2013 several mom's hosted a five-hour event that was custom made for our boys!  They spent the day teaching basic survival skills in a round-robin fashion to a group of nearly 50 children.

The event was held at a state park near our home.  The boys moved between five stations during the course of the day.  There was a one-hour break for lunch.  The kids had time to play on the playground or participate in water-tag during the lunch hour.  Our five stations were:
  • Making a fire and building a shelter.
  • Navigating with a compass.
  • Finding potable water.
  • Edible plants.
  • Trapping small animals.
Each station was almost an hour long and very hands-on.  This was an event tailor-made for our boys.  They have always loved the outdoors and being adventurers.  When they were little they watched Davey Crockett and listened to Sugar Creek Gang audios to learn about being an outdoorsman.  One of their favorite books is The Handybook for Boys.  They also loved the Dangerous Book for Boys.  At various times we've had shelters, fires, and traps in our yard.

We didn't actually trap any animals, but all the children had the opportunity to build a few examples of traps. They built a fire as a group and started a shelter before running out of time.  The water station was mostly examples, but the kids did have an opportunity to tramp around in the creek.  For the navigation course, the instructor set a course and the kids used their compasses to navigate it.  And the edible plants was a walk on a trail with the instructor pointing out lots of examples of edibles.  

This is something a group of families could put together for their children with relative ease.  All you need is a big enough space for all the kids to move and a plan.  It was a great introduction into survival skills.  You could learn what to teach from one of the books I mentioned above or even just doing a little research on line.  It would be a great course to teach to all children over the summer months.  Give it a try!

Monday, June 17, 2013

The National Aquarium

I recently posted that we whisked the boys away to Baltimore's Inner Harbor recently for an overnight getaway.  For me, the highlight of our getaway was spending a few hours in the National Aquarium.  Because it was the Saturday before Memorial Day, it was crowded, but we did get to see everything and didn't have to fight the crowds too much.  I had to laugh as all the adults were crowded around one tropical fish tank saying, "Where's Dorie?  Where's Nemo?"  Yes, it was the adults calling for the Disney characters. Another highlight of the tanks at the beginning of the tour were three little girls who couldn't have been more than five-years-old.  They would move to a talk and squeal and scream with delight.  It was so much fun to just listen to them.

The shark tank ran several floors high.  You started at the top and worked your way down a spiral ramp viewing the sharks as they swam past large windows.  I was watching the sharks travel but I couldn't get up close to any of the windows because of the people.  In one corner there was an open window with no one standing in front of it.  There were also no sharks travelling in front of the window.  I knew that if I waited, my patience would pay off.  So I stood patiently for just a minute or two, and, BOY, was my patience rewarded.  A shark swam past the window, did a u-turn and brought his face right up to the window!  It took my breath away.  The pictures below are from the walls around the shark tank.  There were silhouettes of sharks illuminated from behind.  They were really striking.


After the sharks we went to the dolphin tank.  It was so much fun to watch them jumping out of the water just for fun.  We were able to go below the pool and watch them swimming under the water.  There were a couple families there while we were watching the dolphins.  T-Bone and I were sitting on a carpet-covered bench just watching the dolphins swim past our eyes when I felt a little person snuggling up to me.  It has been 11 years since I've had a little person that small so I knew it wasn't one of my boys.  I looked down to see a little girl in a purple sparkly t-shirt and tutu hugging me.  She looked up and whispered "I'm Cassie."  I whispered, "Hi Cassie."  Then she stayed there touching my necklace and hugging me.  After 30 seconds or so she walked over to T-Bone and hugged him and said, "I'm Cassie."  It was a precious moment in time.  It was one of those times that I can treasure every time I think about it.  Her mom said something like "She's not shy."  Or "She's so outgoing."  I just smiled and said, "She's fine."

And then we went to the jelly fish exhibit.  It.  Was.  Amazing.  I took a video at every display and could have spent an hour in the little room with all the jellies.  They were so soothing to watch and super-beautiful! I put a picture of jellies as my wallpaper on my iPhone because I loved them so much.!