Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Other Creative Blogs I Enjoy

As part of this award, I've been asked to nominate seven other creative bloggers. The following is a list that I come back to time and time again. I really enjoy seeing what they've made and reading about their lives. They've inspired and encouraged me, and I am so thankful for them.

Dr. Julie-Ann McFann of Grandma's Sewing Cabinet and Modern Retro Woman has already won this award, but if she hadn't, I would most certainly nominate her. Here are the others that I enjoy regularly.

Joanne of The Simple Wife.

Lori of Girls in the Garden and Sew Forth Now.

Tracy of Unless the Lord and Mama's Fixins.

Linda of lindamade.

Beki of Artsy-Crafty Babe.

Sigrid of Sigrid-Sewing Projects.

Julia of Julia's Sewing Blog.

These 7 bloggers will be notified of their nominations and if accepted these are the Rules and Responsibilities of the award–

1. Copy the award to your site.

2. Link to the person from whom you received the award.

3. Nominate 7 other bloggers.

4. Link to those on your blog.

5. Leave a message on the blogs you nominated.

Thank you again, Julie-Ann! I hope that you're having a great week, and that you're finding time to enjoy the "feminine arts"! :-)

My first award! Thanks to a very thoughtful and creative blogger, Dr. Julie-Ann McFann, who publishes several blogs that I enjoy, including Grandma's Sewing Cabinet and the Modern Retro Woman, I've been given the Kreativ Blogger Award. Thank you, Julie-Ann! What a lovely surprise to come home to on Sunday night!

We spent the weekend with my father, and it was a very productive weekend in terms of work. I cleared off all of his kitchen counters and washed all of the jars and containers that were just sitting there collecting cooking grease and splatters and dust. I put them into a box and then arranged only what we actually use to line the backs of the countertops, things like the blender, the food processor, the mixer, etc. But before I put anything back on the counters, I scrubbed them with Ajax and water. I had been trying in past visits to clean them with dishsoap and water, but that just seamed to push the grease around...My father uses a George Foreman grill to cook most of his meals, and the grease that drips from his hamburgers and sausages seems to get everywhere.

Then I tackled some of the shelves in the cupboards, sorting and tossing food that was more than 10 years old. And I finally took up the job of cleaning up a dried-up mess that must have happened when an old can of something exploded on one of the bottom shelves. I don't know what it was, but it really required some elbow grease to clean that mess and get that shelf as clean as the rest. Then I organized his canned and dried goods by category so that he could see at a glance what he has on hand. He was surprised when I showed him how many cans of green beans he had. He hadn't been able to see them before because they had been pushed to the back.

Finally, on Sunday afternoon, my sweet husband helped me to shake down the apples left hanging on Dad's apple tree so that we could rake them up and get rid of them in the yard waste container that will be hauled away this week. My mother and I planted two apple trees in the backyard several years ago, and I'm trying my best now to reclaim the fruit of those trees, which in recent years have been ruined by apple maggots. I read that if you can get rid of the old apples before the ground thaws, that helps to decrease the population for the next season. So I did my best to get what I could last fall, and now we've shaken down and removed the rest.

So that was our weekend, in addition to visiting with my Dad. It was good to see him, as it always is. And I enjoyed cooking him nice meals while I was there, and hearing some of his stories from the past. What a gift to have him still. I miss my mother so much. She's been gone now for 5-1/2 years.

Again, thank you, Julie-Ann, for this sweet award for creativity, and thank you for your wonderful blogs and podcasts. You celebrate the feminine arts in a way that would have made my mother very glad.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Soup and bread to share

I signed up last fall for my church's meal providers list. This means that I'm kind of on-call to prepare and deliver a meal to families in need in my area. I didn't have any meal requests at all until last month. But since then, I've been busy preparing meals.

The latest request was for a family with a newborn, and I tried out a couple of new recipes. That might sound a little risky since I was preparing food for people that I just met for the first time when I delivered the meal on Saturday evening. But I guess I could be considered adventurous in the kitchen, and I'm thankful to the Lord that the recipes turned out well.

I made Vegetable Beef Soup with Barley and Oatmeal Carrot Cake Bread. Both are low in fat and high in fiber, and really tasty, if I do say so myself. The soup was adapted from a recipe on the side of a box of Quaker Barley, and the bread was adapted from the Quaker Oats Favorite Recipe Collection book.

Vegetable Beef Soup with Barley

1 lb. lean ground beef
2 cups chopped onion
8 tsp. minced garlic
14 cups water
28 oz. diced tomatoes
1 cup medium barley, uncooked
2 cups sliced celery
2 cups sliced carrots
2 Tbsp. dried beef base
2 tsp. dried basil
3 bay leaves
16-oz. frozen green beans

In a large stock pot, brown ground beef; add and saute onions, and then garlic. Add remaining ingredients except frozen green beans. Cover; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add frozen vegetables and cook about 10 minutes until tender. Add more water if the soup is too thick at this point. (Makes 6 quarts.)

Oatmeal Carrot Cake Bread
2 cups oatmeal (quick or old-fashioned, uncooked)
1 cup skim milk
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups shredded carrots
1 cup shredded coconut
20-oz. can crushed pineapple (minus 1/2 cup of the juice)
4 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla

In a medium bowl, combine the oats and milk; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine other dry ingredients; mix well. Stir in carrots and coconut.

Add pineapple and juice (minus the 1/2 cup), eggs, oil, and vanilla to oat mixture; mix well. Add to dry ingredients all at once and stir just until moistened.

Pour into two greased 9x5-inch loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan, and then remove to cool on wire rack.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Appropriate Scripture for Today's Post

I just updated the Fighter Verse (Scripture memory) portion of my site with the current memory portion that I'm doing with my church, and I just realized how appropriate it is to what I just wrote today about my fears and my shame, and the Lord's deliverance and promise to make our faces radiant when we look to Him.

Psalm 34:4-5
I sought the LORD, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.

Thank you, Lord!

Spring Cleaning

I think I've had a case of spring fever over the past couple of weeks. Thankfully, the weather last weekend and this week has made it possible (finally) to enjoy walking outside again with our dog. It feels so good to breathe the fresh air and be able to enjoy each other's companionship during exercise again, after months and months of working out on the treadmill and in front of the TV screen with exercise videos.

I've also been reaping the benefits of spring fever's close cousin, the cleaning bug. I don't really like to clean. I know some who actually do like to clean, but not me. For me, it's a necessity, rather than a source of enjoyment, but the effects of it are satisfying, especially when they can be combined with the joy of giving to those with less than we have.

The pile of clothes in the photo with this post is one of the piles of clothing that we've given away in recent weeks. I thank the Lord that I finally had the emotional stamina to give away some of my old clothes that had been crowding my closet and the craft closet for years. I told my husband that they represent both dreams and nightmare--dreams of being small enough to wear the smaller clothes, and nightmares that I would ever be large enough to wear the bigger ones.

You see, I used to be morbidly obese. I was never bed-ridden, thank the Lord, and I was always able to be mobile, though anything more than a quarter mile would, back then, give me pains in my legs (shin splints). But back in 1997, something clicked in my mind (the work of the Lord), and I cried out to Him for help. He responded by giving me the drive to both start a regular walking program, and to also dramatically change my diet.

Almost overnight, I went from hiding food from my family (I was living with my parents back then) to sneaking food back to the kitchen that I didn't want to eat. I remember that first Christmas so well. My mother would generously give me a plate of her wonderful cookies and candies and a glass of eggnog to drink, and as soon as I was sure that she wouldn't see what I was doing, I would sneak back to the kitchen to carefully pour my eggnog back into the pitcher (it was homemade eggnog) and put my cookies back into the containers in which they had been stored...I didn't want to hurt her feelings, and I also didn't want to admit to anyone at that time that I was intent on losing weight. To let others know that I had been trying, but had failed, would have been too embarrassing to me at that time.

Anyway, that's part of my story. And that explains why I had been holding on to all of those clothes that don't fit. These days, I'm neither the heaviest nor the lightest I've been, but I am continuing to fight this battle against my flesh. And I would love to fit into those small clothes again, but my sweet husband (who has always told me that I'm beautiful as I am) has encouraged me to let go of clothes that don't fit right now. We can go to the thrift stores to buy "new" things when I need them. In the meantime, I pray that they will be a blessing to someone who wears that size right now.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Another Tennesee Orange Cake!

Well, the Tennessee Orange Cake has definitely become a popular recipe for me. My husband had to bring treats to a leaders meeting for his church, and when I asked what I should make for him to bring, this recipe came up again.

I do like trying new recipes, but it's hard to say no when someone wants something you've made in the past. Needless to say, he didn't come home with any leftovers, so I'm thankful that I didn't send the whole pan, but instead chose to set aside four pieces for us to enjoy afterward. (I cut the cake and sent a generous, large plateful to the meeting.) We're going to have the last two pieces tonight...Mmmmm. :-)