The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me. ~ Psalm 16:6 nasb

Friday, January 28, 2011

FFG -- Birthday Time


My sweet friend Lori hosts Friday Farm Girls @ Heart every week;
please click on her button to visit her blog
and to find out how you can participate!

Farm Girls love birthday parties!  I have planned some pretty big birthday parties in the past, but I love the small ones, too.  Once our little guys grew up, the bigger ones with lots of friends, games, and gifts faded away, and quieter, more intimate gatherings took their place.  And this momma thinks that is just fine.

Jacob at Christmastime

We had wanted our whole family (just five others besides our gang) to gather at our house last night for Jacob's 20th birthday.  But a snowstorm and a late day of work prevented the uncles and aunt (just one!) from coming.  Grandpa and Grandma, in true Midwestern style, braved the snow--the roads were all clear by evening--and drove on down to our home for dinner. 

Earlier in the week, I had volunteered to make my homemade pizza, and Jacob chose dessert.  My mom and I tossed around ideas for a cake--she has made cakes for the boys for every birthday--and Jacob eventually decided on my Oreo Cookie Cake.  Well, major yum, but lots of work.  :)

chocolate cake layers cooling

My kitchen wheels turned in my head as I checked off my mental to-do list:  make sauce, buy topping ingredients and cheese for the pizza and cake ingredients...  Jacob The Sweetheart went out Wednesday evening and bought everything I needed!  When I looked through the fridge later, I found organic whipping cream, organic baby bella mushrooms, and everything I needed.  *melted in a puddle on the floor*  (Can you tell I'm an "acts of service" gal?)

I arose early Thursday morning, in time to give Jacob a birthday hug before he left for college classes.  He told me, "Mom, I know you're making two of the most labor-intensive items for dinner tonight..."

I answered, "Jacob, 20 years ago, I endured ten hours of labor, three of which were intense back labor, to bring you into this world.  Pizza and cake are a walk in the park for me."

six pizzas, hot and bubbly

I, toasty and warm, happily spent a busy day in the kitchen.  Enjoy the few images I took from the day; most are of the food!

Oreo Cookie Cake

Happy birthday to you...

A wise son makes a father glad...
Proverbs 10:1 nasb

Back to life,

visit my photography blog!
christine anne photography

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tea Talk --Trust, Do, Dwell, Cultivate

Welcome to my home!
Sit and share a cup of tea with me as we encourage each other in the Lord.
To participate, click on Ruth's button above.

I'm having...a cup of Earl Gray in my garage-sale mug.  After steeping the loose tea in my handy-dandy two-cup tea steeper, I realized that my tea mug holds two cups of tea!  So, when I drink my tea, I really drink my tea!  :)

I'm feeling...a little tired, but a good tired.  I'm concentrating on getting back to a more scheduled lifestyle, mostly for Danny's sake since he'll be graduating from our homeschool this June.  He needs the rigid schedule to stay on track with his studies, so that he accomplishes everything that he needs to complete.  I'm trying to get up earlier in the morning, so that I don't feel like I'm playing "catch-up" the rest of the day.  I used to be a morning person a long time ago...

On my schedules, college, but more immediate in priority is the ICHE Mother/Daughter Conference this Saturday.  I will be doing snapshot portraits of moms and daughters, plus candid shots of the conference throughout the day.  This will be a new experience for me, since I, along with another photographer, will attempt to take pictures of up to 200 mom+daughter units in less than two hours!  It is a good thing they told the moms that these will be "snapshot" portraits--no time for posing and getting great images.  Plus I need to arrive at the site at 6:30am for set-up--and it is a 40-minute drive.  Early bed time for me Friday night!

I leave you with...the theme verse for Saturday's conference.  My friend Becki, who has helped plan this wonderful event, picked this verse (and really the whole Psalm) as the conference theme.

Trust in the LORD and do good;
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
Psalm 37:3 nasb

The ESV translation, which she used, says:  befriend faithfulness.  A side note in that translation--and also in the NASB--says to feed on faithfulness.  What an insightful picture of how we are to live our lives.  This is a precious Psalm of commands, with verse 3 above, and throughout the Psalm:  trust, do, dwell, cultivate, delight, commit, rest, wait, cease.  These are things I can do--and I love the doing.

Back to life,

visit my photography blog!
christine anne photography

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Hiding in the Garden

Nothing much happens in the garden during wintertime.  Flowers and plants lie dormant, sleeping, waiting for the spring warmth and renewing rains to bring them back to life.

But on Monday morning, as Danny shoveled the dusty snow from the driveway, he happened upon a sign of life--not plants, but some tracks.  He traced them into the front porch garden, but not back out.  He caught sight of something, got as close as he could, then ran and told me.  Isn't it great when teenagers are still excited about spotting the Lord's beauty in His creation?  :)

I had my camera ready--I was taking macro photos of our morning breakfast--so I ran outside in my slippers with my 100mm macro lens on, and snapped the below shot.  Look carefully!

Then, since the little guy decided to stay, I ran back inside to change to my telephoto lens.  He accommodated me, and even after several shots, he was intent on staying put.  Nothing could move him (we didn't try scaring him out; it didn't seem right).

(I like the sepia tones of the editing I did; I'll post a color image on my photography blog later this week.)

He sat there, motionless.  Danny dropped a few leaves from above him.  He flinched, but did not move.  Either he was very brave, or filled with abject terror.  But he sat, still.

I personally have a hard time being still, being quiet.  My mind obsessively creates lists of things to do, do, do.  To just sit and do nothing?  Surely that rubs against my nature, my personality.

But there is a time for all things.  There is a time to be quiet and still, and to muse on His Word, silently, to listen to His voice as He speaks.  Lord, help me to be quiet and still before You, and to listen to You.  Help me to cherish the calm, still place that You provide.

O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;
Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
Or in things too difficult for me.
Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me.
O Israel, hope in the LORD
From this time forth and forever.
Psalm 131 nasb

Back to life,

visit my photography blog!
christine anne photography

Friday, January 21, 2011

FFG -- Heat Up My Home!


My amazing friend Lori hosts Friday Farm Girls @ Heart every week;
please click on her button to visit her blog
and to find out how you can participate!

Snow from earlier this week

January is cold in Chicagoland.  Even as I type, my fingers are cold.  And my feet are cold.  (I need to go find my slippers.)  But since the thermostat is set at 70 degrees, I can't justify turning it up.  Why is it that during winter, we set the heat to 70 and I'm cold, and in summer, we set the air conditioning to 70, and I'm hot?  Hmm...

This morning I took a photo of our porch thermometer.  I don't think it's going to get much warmer today--warmer being a relative term, of course.  Today, my farm-girl heart is reflecting on thermostats and thermometers.  Bet you'd like to know where this post is going.  :)

It's really quite simple.  I woke up nice and toasty in my bed, since I was snuggled under the covers all night.  That's the warmest I'll probably feel today.  But 70 degrees inside isn't so bad.  I got up, showered and dressed, and made myself a cup of tea.  I'm glad we set the thermostat at 70.  Though I'm a little cold, I know that it's warm inside.  (And I can always go into the kitchen and bake something.)

Then I grabbed my camera and stood on the porch--no coat, no shoes--to shoot the thermometer.  Yes, I wanted to shoot it, too, but I knew that the thermometer was merely reflecting what the actual temperature was.  It didn't do anything wrong, or bad.

And there is the lesson I'm learning today.  The thermostat sets the temperature; the thermometer reflects the temperature.  I am a "thermometer" in that I am a reflection of Christ in my home.  But is my "thermostat" set correctly?  Am I focused on Him today?  Am I setting a Godly, warm tone in my home, that it may be a haven of rest and a place of safety for Fernando and the boys, a place where visitors feel welcome and loved?

These verses talk about light, not heat, but they are a good description of this concept.

"You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;
nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket,
but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.
Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works,
and glorify your Father who is in heaven."
Matthew 5:14-16 nasb

Lord, help me set my eyes upon You, and help me plant my farm-girl heart firmly in my home, that I may reflect Your love and grace both within my little world and abroad.

Back to life,

visit my photography blog!
christine anne photography

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Tea Talk -- Many are the Wonders

Welcome to my home!
Sit and share a cup of tea with me as we encourage each other in the Lord.
To participate, click on Ruth's button above.

I'm having...Earl Grey tea this afternoon, in my garage-sale mug.  I've posted a photo of it in previous posts, so none today.  :)

I'm feeling...generally good.  My back has little twinges every now and then, but I'm able to sit for longer periods.  I still get stiff easily, though, so I need to be aware of my body's needs.

On my mind...are lots of things, including weekend plans, photography, blogging, grading tests, laundry, and going to bed early tonight.

I leave you with...a photo of Danny shoveling the driveway last week, plus a Scripture verse.

How blessed is the man who has made the LORD his trust,
And has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.
Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders which You have done,
And Your thoughts toward us;
There is none to compare with You.
If I would declare and speak of them,
They would be too numerous to count.
Psalm 40:4-5

Blessed is the mom whose son shovels the driveway for her!

Back to life,

visit my photography blog!
christine anne photography

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Counting My Blessings #3

Branch Of Wisdom

Join us at Tamara's blog by clicking above!!

I don't like to submit a post without a photo.  It just doesn't seem right to me.  So, when it comes time for me to share my "count my blessings" with Tamara on Tuesday, I find that I don't have a photo that accurately reflects something I'm thankful for.  So I end up not sharing anything.  Please be assured, however, that I count my blessings by thanking the Lord!  Which is the more important thing to do.  But today, I'm happy that I have a photo or two that reflects God's bountiful blessings in my life.

My friend Lori is amazing/wonderful/great/etc.!  She has helped me design my blog headers since I started blogging last autumn.  I restrict her to plain and simple, and that is not her style.  But she gives me ideas and does these incredible (I think) things that make my blog header beautiful, and that make my blog a place I want to stop by to visit my visitors.  :)  So first of all, I'm thankful for Lori.

Lori and I were emailing back and forth yesterday morning about my blog, and I tried calling her twice.  I wanted to communicate over the phone, which sometimes can eliminate any confusion caused by emails flying back and forth.  When there was no answer, I remembered their business phone!  Sure enough, she answered, and within three minutes, we had a plan.  No, not for the blog--the guys and I were to COME OVER so Lori and I could work on the blog together, and then we were to stay for dinner!  A much better plan, in my opinion.

And so second of all, I am thankful for friends, and their warm hospitality on snowy days.  :)

And third of all, I am thankful for godly young men who are friends with our own young men.  The afternoon turned into a game fest, though Jacob worked on some college homework.  They all really did bring their schoolbooks!

playing Settlers of Catan

Fourth of all, I'm thankful for surprise visitors, two of whom joined in the game above.  Lori forgot that another friend was supposed to come over, and she graciously invited her and her two children in for a ladies' afternoon of high school planning and blog header creating.

Fifth of all, I thank the Lord for an afternoon and evening spent in the company of Godly friends (and one silly dog).

Sunny hopes for a treat

Back to life,

visit my photography blog!
christine anne photography

Monday, January 17, 2011

2011 Food Storage -- Breakfast Menu


Visit Lori’s blog (click above) to read about this project; then come and join us!

For January's assignment, Fernando and I decided to enlist Thomas' help.  More than that, Thomas is doing most of the work!  We are marking hours, making notes, and keeping records for this portion of his Home Economics course for high school.  What a wonderful thing it is to be able to gain real-life experience in a real-life situation and count it toward a diploma.  Coming from the "public school mentality"--meaning I am a graduate of that institution--I'm still amazed that I can record Thomas' experience and count it for school.  "School" and "homework" were mostly separate from my "real life" situations outside of that building.  But school should be life.  After all, every learning experience comprises our education.

Off my soapbox and on to my progress report.  :)

Thomas and I came up with 14 breakfasts.  We decided to choose 14, since we wanted to include more than seven.  This way, instead of repeating a week's worth of meals, we'll be repeating every two weeks.  Here is our two-week schedule of breakfasts:

Sunday -- breakfast biscuits
Monday -- granola
Tuesday -- cinnamon muffins
Wednesday --pancakes
Thursday -- corn grits and toast
Friday -- waffles
Saturday -- oatmeal with dried fruit

Sunday -- breakfast biscuits
Monday -- granola
Tuesday -- cinnamon muffins
Wednesday -- pancakes
Thursday -- seed and nut cereal
Friday -- cold oat cereal
Saturday -- toast

Sunday's through Wednesday's meals will be the same; the next three days will change up a bit.  We think this will give us a little leeway in what we're eating, plus a few of those meals aren't the boys' favorites, so they'll have to endure them only once every two weeks.  ;)  Personally, I would be happy eating oatmeal every morning for three months!

I created a chart on the computer in which each breakfast meal is listed.  Thomas has been busy filling in every ingredient in those meals, and this week he will be focusing on multiplying out those ingredients by 13 or by 26 (depending on if it's a weekly meal or a bi-weekly meal).

We're focusing on breakfasts first, then next week we'll hit the dinner menu.  We're doing it this way chiefly because we had made out--then lost--our two-week dinner menu list.  Ugh.  So we'll restart the dinner meal process as soon as we're done with breakfast planning.

For our family, lunch usually consists of leftovers or sandwiches, so we'll handle that one last.  We can't always count on leftovers, though, so we'll have to get creative with this meal.  I'm still trying to think of lunch ideas besides tuna sandwiches and PBJs.  Any ideas that don't involve fresh fruits/vegetables?  Please help me out here!  :)

We had a wonderful character-building episode as Thomas was trying to figure out how much dried milk should be used in place of real milk in one of the recipes.  He knew that 1/3 dried = one cup regular, but we were doubling the recipe and there was a weird amount.  I tried to show him my math, but he got frustrated, sat for a minute and thought, then told me how much he should type in the box.

I said, "No, no, you have to do it this way."  Then I paused and remembered my right-brain student.  I told him, "Let me show you how I figured it out, then you show me your math and we'll see what happens."

I spent five minutes explaining, step by step, what I did.  He didn't understand, but then in under a minute, he showed me what he did.  He arrived at the same number I did, and we both had a good laugh about how differently our brains function.  The Lord is helping us to work together, which makes me happy.

Thomas the incredible math whiz

Thank You, Lord, for Thomas and his right-brain amazing-ness!

Back to life,

visit my photography blog!
christine anne photography

Thursday, January 13, 2011

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

At the end of a busy day, how much do I think about exactly what I'm doing when I prepare for bed, climb under those covers, and rest my head on my pillow?  Well, I've been thinking a lot about that lately.  :)

After my back pain flared up due to a fall, I thought about bed constantly.  I couldn't wait to simply lie down and try to ease the pain.  The pain would ease throughout the day, but after days and days of waking up in the morning, stiff and sore and facing a 15-minute ordeal simply to get out of bed and get my body in a vertical position, I knew something was up with the bed.  Finally, I refused to sleep there, choosing a sleeping bag on the floor instead.

sleeping on the floor--messy but helpful

Though I was stiff from the hard surface, my back began to heal, and today I deal with a little soreness and stiffness if I sit (or stand) for any length of time.

My dearest Fernando and I went shopping for a mattress, and after a long search, with lots of research, we found a solution to the bed issue.  That solution arrived last week.

On Saturday, the guys combined their efforts not only to replace our bed, but to give our master bedroom a whole new look, quite by accident, I might add.  :)

Of course it's messy--we're getting ready to move things around (that's my excuse, anyway)

The first step, of course, was to remove the old mattress.  This thing was a monster of epic proportions.  The photos speak for themselves.

(disclaimer--the mattress stain you may have noticed was from a mug of Fernando's coffee...)

Then my sweet Thomas cleaned the headboard, footboard, and railings of our existing bed frame.  And oh, my, did the carpet need a really good vacuuming!

Here's the "quite by accident" part.  Fernando asked me to show him exactly where the frame for our "new" bed should be placed.  Comments and suggestions flew, and the next thing we knew, we--I mean the guys--were moving every piece of furniture in the room, some just a foot or two, and some clear to the other side of the room.  As you saw in the image of our bedroom at the top of this post, our bedroom is long, but very narrow, which presents a host of problems with a king-sized bed and just four pieces of furniture--dresser, TV cabinet, skinny bookcase, and my project desk.

My project desk experienced most radical relocation.

Fernando's "side" of the bed was the most interesting area to clean out.  He is an organizationally challenged stuff collector (I love my husband, and I'm trying to be kind here--he's okay with me sharing this).  As he started to go through the bookcase that was "his," he stopped, placed his hand lovingly on one of the shelves, and murmured, "Wait.  Before we start, I need a minute alone (*sniff*)."  Giggles all around.  Dad's Shrine to Stuff was emptied, and all of his, well, stuff, was put in what was affectionately called Dad's Doo-Doo Box (sorry if that's an offensive term).

Here are a couple of things among the more interesting finds in that corner of the room:

Four opened boxes of Kleenex

A ten-year-old strip of negatives

Then it was time to fit the mattress supports, then the mattresses, into our existing bed frame.

Danny helping with the mattress cover

Ahhh, my first night on the new bed was strange (the smell of new sheets, sleeping on the opposite side of the bed, etc.).  But I woke up refreshed, without additional back pain.  I am a happy girl.

Here is what is left to do:

This is now cleaned off, but there are a few similar piles around the room.

I'll post more photos of the "finished" room once we organize our little piles.  :)

At this I awoke and looked, and my sleep was pleasant.

Jeremiah 31:26 nasb (taken slightly out of context by me)

Back to life,

visit my photography blog!
christine anne photography

Saturday, January 8, 2011

My Week -- What He Deems Best

This is my time to reflect on the past week, to store up memories in my heart,
and to acknowledge the Lord's ways in my life.

Home Life

What a quiet few weeks.  Being on the "injured reserve list" is no fun; but, the Lord is ever patient with me.  He has drawn me to the foot of His throne.  Each day He brings into my life what He deems best.  My slowly healing back is the cross that I would bear as I slowly and carefully do His work each day.  This is currently His best for me, and I gladly accept the fact that He is working in my heart.

The guys have stepped up to help around the home.  It's so interesting that without other girls in the home, there really are a LOT of areas that fall to my jurisdiction, and a lot that needs to be delegated when this manager is unable to fulfill her duties.  :)

My wonderful Fernando has helped in so many ways, and has again and again endeared himself to my heart.  In addition to his usual daily work, he worked on his compound bow, to fix and tune whatever needed fixing and tuning.

I'm able to stand (and then sit) for short periods of time, so his help in the kitchen has been gratefully received!  That was especially true on New Year's Day, as he and all the guys came together to help make Antoinette's French Toast Apple Crunch for brunch--which ended up being at about 12:45pm!  I don't remember what title she gave this recipe, so I came up with my own descriptive name.  Everyone loved it, which is not a common occurrence in our home.  Antoinette's recipe now has a place in my recipe binder.

slicing the apples [photo by Danny]

Antoinette's French Toast Apple Crunch

My Kitchen and Garden

The photo above with my dearest love tells it all.

My Project Desk

Still sits empty.  But here is some detail on a card I had made a year or so ago.  I thought I'd have to use a generic card for Bryan's graduation, but I found this extra card and was able to use it to give to him on his special day of celebration.  :)

Behind the Lens

The photography business is slow during the winter, but that's okay with me.  I trust the Lord to bring me clients as He sees fit.  Sweet Fernando drove me to the bank right before the new year to help take my business display down.

My business display at my bank!

Heart Thoughts

I have had a particular hymn running through my head these past few weeks, and wanted to quote it here.  I plan to play this on my flute during communion in our church service on January 9.  The author of this hymn is Lina Sandell, 1832-1903, from Sweden.  According to 101 Hymn Stories, while she was on an ocean journey with her pastor father, tragedy struck.  A sudden lurch of the ship caused her father to fall overboard; he "drowned before the eyes of his devoted daughter."  The author of the book describes:

Although she had written hymns prior to this tragic experience, more songs began to flow out of her broken heart which reflect a simple, child-like trust in Christ and a deep sense of His abiding presence in her life.

With that in mind, read the words of her hymn.  I have to include all three verses; I couldn't pick just one because each one ministered to my heart.  May they inspire you, as they have me, to trust Him.

Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father's wise bestowment,
I've no cause for worry or for fear.
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best--
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Ev'ry day the Lord Himself is near me
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me,
He whose name is Counsellor and Pow'r.
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
"As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,"
This the pledge to me He made.

Help me then in ev'ry tribulation
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith's sweet consolation
Offered me within Thy holy word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
E'er to take, as from a father's hand,
One by one, the days the moments fleeting,
Till I reach the promised land.

Back to life,

visit my photography blog!
christine anne photography

Friday, January 7, 2011

FFG -- Gourmet Granola


My amazing friend Lori hosts Friday Farm Girls @ Heart every week;
please click on her button to visit her blog
and to find out how you can participate!

A bowl of homemade granola

I'm slowly recovering from my back injury, and I'm happier this week!  I'm able to move around a bit more freely, and because of needing to stand frequently, I have found myself in my kitchen more often.  My practical farm-girl heart says, "If I need to stand, I may as well stand in the kitchen and do something!"

One morning, I enlisted the boys' help to make granola.  I posted a photo of this once a long time ago, but this time, I have photos and the recipe!!  :)

cinnamon, coconut chips, pepitas

Christine's Granola

This is a double recipe; the amounts are easier!  I usually triple the recipe to have extra throughout the week.  I list alternate ingredients (and notes) in parentheses, just in case you don't use what I use.  :)

  • 1 cup sucanat (or brown sugar)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (or other oil)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 24 oz. rolled oats (sorry I don't know how many cups this is; I use a scale--try about three cups!)
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 1/2 t sea salt

Optional Ingredients (I use the above for plain granola, and add the below for "gourmet" granola; you can add as many or as few as you like!)
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seed
  • 1/2 cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds; I use raw Mexican)
  • 1 cup coconut chips (from my bulk co-op, unsweetened coconut shavings and totally yummy)
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (I use a combination of raw walnuts and pecans, slivered almonds, even peanuts)
  • 1 cup raisins or other dried fruit (a friend just gave me dried cherries!!) -- chop them if large (like cherries)

Combine sucanat, coconut oil, and honey in a saucepan.  Cook over low heat until sucanat is dissolved (it will be shorter if you use brown sugar).  Stir in vanilla.  Meanwhile, combine remaining ingredients--I usually add the dried fruit after baking--in a large bowl and mix to combine.

Pour the liquid mixture into the oatmeal mixture, stirring until completely combined.  Spread into a baking pan, and bake at 375 degrees F for 10-12 minutes.  Remove to stovetop or potholders, and let cool until you can safely dump it in a large mixing bowl to stir in raisins.  Continue stirring the mixture as it cools (it will become one single clump if you don't!), until it's completely cooled and ready for storage.  Store in an airtight container; I use canning jars and other glass jars.

Stir to lift oats from the bottom of the bowl--this will help thoroughly combine the ingredients.

See?  Warm granola + cold milk = large clump :)

Glass jar storage.

Back to life,

visit my photography blog!
christine anne photography