Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hallelujah Party

Instead of celebrating Halloween this year, we decided to attend a Hallelujah Party at local church so the kids could still dress up - something they love to do. I asked them if they missed trick or treating this year and they both gave me a resounding "no". Josiah said he was glad he didn't have to walk and he would much rather play the fun games. I was happy I didn't have to walk, too, because I had sprained my little toe really bad the day before. Was really happy with how Christ-centered the evening was. Thank you, New Song Church! Hailey wanted to be dressed as a princess of course.
Josiah wanted to be a soldier (shocker, I know). This time he was a Marine who was landing on Iwo Jima (famous island battle in WWII for those who might not be up on WWII history). 

Both kids got their faces painted. I loved Josiah's choice, a cross on each cheek. Earlier that day at Lego Club, he and his friend arranged all the tables into the shape of a cross. I thought that was so cute.

They had a youth band who did a skit, then they played music and let everyone dance who wanted to. It was cute watching my kids rock out. I love Christian rock, too. 

Tomorrow, we'll go to our church's Harvest Party, a much more mellow, but meaningful event. So glad we decided to make new traditions this year and that my kids like these better than the old ones. 

Have a Blessed Day everyone!


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Jackie's Homemade Healthy Hot Chocolate (Cocoa) Recipe

You in the mood for a cup of delicious, rich hot chocolate that is guilt-free and actually healthy for you? The marshmallow is homemade, too. You could easily make this dairy-free, just use straight water instead of milk or oat milk. I used unrefined sugar in this recipe. I haven't bought hot chocolate for years, with the exception of when we were camping as a special treat. I'm so excited to be able to have hot chocolate in the house again. It is so easy to make! I choose not to have a microwave in our home, so these are stove top instructions. Very easy and a lot healthier for you.

Homemade Healthy Hot Chocolate (Cocoa) Recipe:
1/3 to 1/2 cup of sucanat (unrefined sugar) OR 1/4 cup of Slim Sweet (an all natural low glycemic sugar from the Lo Ho fruit). Can adjust sweetness to taste.
1/3 to 1/2 cup cocoa powder (more if you like it darker)
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup water
4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. In a medium sauce pan, stir water, natural sugar (sucanat or Slim Sweet), cocoa, vanilla and salt. Stir, bringing to a boil. This will not take very long.

2. Slowly pour in milk (I always use raw). Stir until smooth and hot but not boiling. 

3. Divide into 4 cups. How easy was that? Add a homemade marshmallow if desired. 

For pre-mixed hot chocolate:
Mix the following ingredients together and store in a Mason jar or air tight container: 
2 cup sucanat
 2 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp salt
(This pre-mix makes 20 servings)

Just add vanilla and milk or water and follow instructions above. You could use *powdered milk in this mix, but it is not at all healthy for you, so to me it is worth the little bit of extra time it takes to heat the fresh milk. For a dairy-free option, you could substitute with oat milk.

So, sit back and relax and enjoy a cup of guilt-free cocoa as the days get colder. Happy Fall!

*According to Nourishing Traditions:
Not only is powdered milk devoid of all enzyme content (just like any pasteurized milk), commerical dehydration methods oxidize cholesterol in powdered milk, making it harmful to the arteries. High temp drying also creates large quantities of cross-linked proteins and nitrate compounds, which are potent carcinogens as well as free glutamic acid which is toxic to the nervous system. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Time to Honor

Last weekend was my step mom's 50th birthday. My sis and SIL and I got together to throw her a birthday party. We decided to honor her by reading Proverbs 31 over her in front of many of her friends and family. We chose a frog theme because her life's slogan is "Fully Rely on God". She is an avid speed walker and this verse has sustained her through many tough races. Stacie and her friend, Kim made these cupcakes, I got to help a little too. It was fun!

Diana came into our lives during an extremely difficult time. Without her unconditional love, godly example and encouragement, I shudder to think of where I would have ended up. I think she truly saved my twin sister and I from the disastrous brink we were teetering on. She had the extremely difficult task of raising two teen daughters, scarred from a divorce. It wasn't easy and we didn't make it easy on her. She gave up so much to marry my dad and help raise us. I'll never forget her sacrifice. 

Diana is devoted to her presently 9 grandchildren, loving each of them equally. The adore her in return.

Here are just a few of the guests.

My SIL, sis and I put together a framed scrapbooked collage of pictures of Diana with all her grandchildren. I think she really liked it. It was fun to put together and brought back many memories.

So Diana, happy birthday to an awesome mom, wife and grandma! Blood is not what makes family, it is relationships. Thank you for your love for us all. 

BTW, Can't believe you're half way to 100!

Love and Blessings,

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pumpkin Cider Beef Stew Recipe- Served in a Pumpkin

I haven't had this much fun with a recipe in a long time! Earlier this week, it was our table's turn to cook for our MOPS group. I chose to do a recipe out of the cookbook our group is selling and I thought it would taste good with pumpkin, so I decided to serve Cider Beef Stew in a pumpkin. It was a hit! I know this sounds like a really strange recipe, but the flavors blend amazingly well. I actually used a leftover pot roast and oven roasted veggies, which made this recipe very simple. However, I'll go ahead and give you the basic stew recipe with just a few of my own variations/additions.

Cider Beef Stew Recipe:
3 Tbl whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 lb beef stew meat (bite sized)
2 T olive oil
1 c apple cider
2 cups water
1 Tbl apple cider vinegar
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 lg. carrots, sliced
2 ribs celery, sliced
2 potatoes, cubed
1 onion, chopped or wedged

In bowl, mix together flour, salt and pepper. Coat meat with this mixture and brown in oil in a stew/soup pot. Add cider, water, vinegar, thyme, garlic and bay leaf. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until meat is tender. Add veggies, simmer and cover for another 45 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

To serve in Pumpkin:

Select a pumpkin that will fit in your oven, but big enough to hold a stew. Cut top open, at a slant going towards the stem (this will prevent the lid from falling in as it cooks). Scrape out pumpkin "guts". Put pumpkin (with lid on) onto a cookie sheet (I used a stoneware bar pan). Cook at 350 for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, keepin an eye on it towards the end. You can't over-cook it or the sides will collapse and then it obviously won't hold the stew. When you are able to scrape the insides, you know it is done enough. Take pumpkin out of oven. Scrape desired amount of pumpkin off the sides and then pour the stew into the pumpkin. Mix the scraped pumpkin and the stew together. Serve.

It's easy, tasty and festive all at the same time. Enjoy!
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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Introducing Layla, My Newest Niece/Rassmussen's Pumpkin Patch

We finally got to see my newest niece, Layla, last weekend. She is a month old and absolutely adorable. She is Michael's youngest sister's baby. The kids were thrilled to meet their newest cousin. They both wanted to hold her. I'm hoping she'll end up with red hair, since her mom has gorgeous auburn hair. Time will tell!

Isn't this the picture of preciousness?

Michael acts like he doesn't like babies, but this picture proves he isn't as much of a grumpy old man as he wants everyone to think he his, LOL. My SIL is looking on. You done good, April!

My MIL took the kids and I to Rassmussen's Pumpkin Patch. I've heard about this place, but had never had the opportunity to go. So glad we had enough time. It was something else. All the displays, including the corn maze were free! This year's theme was "Mysteries". I liked it because it wasn't a bunch of scary stuff. This first scene is the game "Clue". They use gourds and pumpkins for all the heads. 

I thought this was clever.

Sherlock Holmes

Amelia EarhartCharlie Brown and The Great Pumpkin

Hailey, my MIL, Kay, and Josiah playin' around on the old-time tractor.

Corn maze. They had a fun "Where's Waldo" theme going on. I loved that it wasn't scary and just plain old fun. 

The corn maze ended in the pumpkin patch. My MIL treated each of the kids to a pumpkin. Hailey is staking her claim.

Kay and Hailey picking out their pumpkins.

Hope you all are getting some great pumpkins at your local pumpkin patch this year!

God Bless,

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Today, I had a such an amazing victory with my son, Josiah. I have to share it with you all. My sister told me I should blog about it, so I decided to take her advice. Besides, I want my son to see this someday and know how God's hand was working in his life even at such a tender age. 

This last month as been one of extreme testing. He's been working the system, if you know what I mean. As a parent, you think your doing good, being consistent, but then you get tired and let a couple of things go (without even realizing) and before you know it, you've got an all out war on your hands. We finally got a handle on it a couple of weeks ago. Things have been much better since, but I could tell he has been obeying simply because he doesn't want to get in trouble. I've been reading a book called, "Growing Kid's God's Way" and it is giving me a fresh perspective on parenting. I think I was actually trying too hard, doing and saying too much. Trying to tackle too many virtues and character issues at once. This month, we are working on lying. We picked a verse (Proverbs 12:22) and put in on the fridge. It will stay there all month for us to refer back to it. The idea is that it takes a month to kick a habit, and we're hoping that he will learn this virtue through and through by the end of the month. 

Anyway, back to today. I was having him do his chores and we've been working on "First-Time Obedience" a principle in Growing Kid's God's Way. This is something I thought I was doing, but upon further self-examination, I realized I was still giving him too many chances because I was hoping he'd be successful. Since I've been working on this with both my kids, things have been going smoother, although there has been more conflict. Well today, I told him to clean his room. He kept getting distracted and I caught him playing with his Legos. He lied to me and told me he was just pushing them off to the side to clean his room. I told him I'd been standing there and don't lie to me. I told him he couldn't play with Legos for the rest of the day. Of course, here comes the freak out moment. I just shut the door to his room and walked away. He was in his room saying how horrible he was and on and on. I decided to just ignore it and started praying that God would give me the words to say to him when it was time to talk about it. 

I started doing the dishes. Here comes Josiah and I'm braced for what is to come, fully ready to discipline him some more if he starts getting disrespectful. He comes up to me and says "I don't care how many codes you give me or what I have to do as punishment". I made the mistake of interrupting at that point because I thought he was getting disrespectful with me. So I told him, "Them's fightin' words, don't threaten me because you'll be in your room the rest of the day". I basically told him I wasn't going to put up with anymore attitude. He had a really confused look on his face and then very seriously repeated himself, but then added, "I'm going to take my punishment like a man."  Huh? O.K. This is where the Holy Spirit stopped me in my tracks and prompted me to start asking questions. 

I asked Josiah what he meant by that, and he said he wanted Jesus to come into his heart. I told him Jesus was already there because I had witnessed him ask Jesus into his heart. He told me that he would take whatever punishment I would give him like a man for all the bad things he had done and all the bad things he might do in the future. Oh my, can anyone say, "teachable moment?!!" I was amazed that even at his young age (7) he was able to understand that his sin had to be paid for. I was able to explain to him that he didn't have to take that punishment, that Jesus already did that for him on the cross, for his past, present and future sins. All he needs to do is repent when he knows he has sinned and try not to do those things again. Yes, there would be consequences and yes he needs to take those consequences like a man, however, he didn't have to pay for those sins himself. We hugged and cried together. He was literally crying out of happiness.

The rest of the day I saw a transformation in him that I've never seen before. He was obeying me to please God, not out of fear of punishment or even to please me. I could see the difference and it was incredible and startling all at once. Josiah was so kind the rest of the day, not only to me, but to his sister and to others when we ran errands. He was opening doors for people, having good manners, OBEYING! It was wonderful. While he was making lunch, he asked me, "Mom, I bet you're wondering where that other boy is, huh?" Doesn't that just say it all?!!! I don't know how long this will last, but God KNEW how much I needed this encouragement. I know the Holy Spirit is working in Josiah's life and it encourages me to pray for him. I'm ashamed to admit that I don't pray for my kids the way I know I should. This shows me that God honors even those little SOS prayers that we send up when we don't know what else to do. He is so good!

If you are struggling with parenting issues right now, I sure hope this encourages you. I know that parenting is like a roller coaster. It feels like I'm mostly in the valleys, but man, being on the mountain top, even for a moment is sometimes all we need to regroup, keep focused and keep going. 

God Bless,

Monday, October 18, 2010

Baker Heritage Museum/Chinese Cemetery Homeschool Field Trip

 I had the pleasure of coordinating a field trip to the Baker Heritage Museum. We've had one field trip a week for the last three weeks! Trying to get it all in before the weather turns bad. It has been so fun. I think field trips are the best way to learn. This is a picture of most of us hangin' out by a big granite boulder in front of the museum.

Before this was a museum, it used to house an indoor Olympic sized pool that was fed and partially heated by a natural hot spring. During WWII, the building was used as a factory supporting the war effort and the pool was filled in. When the war was done, the building was abandoned. The wooden wagon in front of the stage coach was once a horse drawn "school bus". 

This is a mobile dentist's chair. It would travel around with it's owner to serve minors and loggers in their camps.

Here is the youngest member of our expedition, little Boaz, and my sweet friend, Dorene. Loved getting to hold him during the field trip. I got to hold him until Hailey managed to slip somehow and cut her lip on a glass display case. It bled a lot, but she was fine. 

My favorite part of the museum is the amazing rock collection that was donated by two sisters who were rock hounds of yesteryear. There were 4 rooms of rocks, minerals and fossils. This room is full of rocks made up of florescent minerals that glow under black lights. It is seriously cool!   

The myth of the Blue Bucket Mine is what started the gold rush in Baker County. Here is a recreation of the "scene".

After going to the museum and having a delightful picnic in the park next door, I decided to take my tour guides advice and find the Chinese Immigrant Cemetery. So glad I did! This kind of stuff seriously floats my boat. I found the cemetery where 67 Chinese immigrants were buried at one time. All but one grave had been exhumed, the bones purified and sent back to China for final burial. I would love to know why there is only one grave left. I wonder if they couldn't find his family? Very interesting stuff.

There were so many depressions among the sagebrush where the bodies had been exhumed. There were paths you could walk all around them.

The little rock house is a prayer house. There were four Hershey's kisses sitting on the window ledge. Hopefully you can read the sign.

I have many more pictures, but tried to keep it to the best ones. 

God Bless,

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Final Garden Harvest

Well, Jack Frost came to visit us this week. We've been so lucky to have such nice fall weather, enabling us to enjoy our garden awhile longer. But Monday night it all came to a sudden end. We figured it would frost so we threw a tarp over the tomatoes to keep them from getting ruined. Yesterday, I had the kids help me strip the tomatoes, cucumber vines and all the pepper plants. They enjoyed getting to tear up mama's garden after hearing me holler at them all summer to be careful of the plants!

I still have a lot of carrots in the ground, which I will leave for awhile longer. The variety of seed I bought grew very short carrots. Going to look for a longer heirloom variety next year. Any ideas?

Here are some heirloom tomatoes. They were absolutely huge. I put a cherry tomato by it for perspective. I've got lots of diced tomatoes in my freezer and more to come.

In addition to this wagon load of mostly green tomatoes, I also got a big box. I leave my green tomatoes in a cardboard box with newspaper over it and let them slowly ripen. Last year, I had tomatoes into December!

Here are some of the peppers that we harvested. Some are heirloom, some are not. The big peppers are called "Big Berthas". None of them had a chance to change color. I'll dice these up in my food processor and freeze them for soups and casseroles.

Our 35 pickling cucumber plants produced at least 150 lbs of cukes! We gave away a lot, plus let some grow bigger. These are a very sweet cukes to slice up and eat.

Here are our pathetic French melons (can't remember the official name). We also planted watermelon this year. We decided no melons from now on as our climate is not conducive to growing them. 

We sure learned a lot this year. Will do many things differently next year. Now I'm trying to sweet talk my hubby into building me some kind of green house so I can grow lettuce in the winter and get an early spring start on my tomatoes and peppers. I'm also busy collecting seeds for the varieties I want to keep. I'm letting them dry completely, then putting them in brown lunch bags. Hope I'm doing it right and they don't mold! Can't wait to do this all again next year! I'm officially hooked on this whole gardening thing. There is something really satisfying about just going out to the garden to get your fresh veggies for meals during the summer. Absolutely love it!

God Bless,

Monday, October 11, 2010

Officially Fall

We are having a blast decorating for fall this year. I've never really decorated for fall until the last couple of years when we started to get convicted of celebrating Halloween. We decided to celebrate fall and the harvest instead, so I've been on a mission the last couple of years. I've been finding cute, classy, fall decorations at yard sales very little money. I think I'm maxed out on fall decorations! God is so good. 

I found these leaf garlands at a yard sale.

This is my favorite basket ever! It is a Styrofoam pumpkin. I've filled it with fake fruit and leaves.

More leaves in my basket.

I made this arrangement at MOPS last year. I love it! It is now the centerpiece to my dining room table. Perfect size!

These "sugar coated" pumpkins were a yard sale find. I'd like to pick up a few more eventually. 
I got this wreathe for $25 cents! Perfect for our new porch.
I love this alternative to celebrating Halloween. Last year we started becoming convicted. We tried to make some compromises, but we knew this year, we needed to completely change the way were were celebrating. This is our first year of doing absolutely no trick or treating. We are going to go to the Fairmont Fair at AWANAS, so we can still dress up, play games and get lots of candy, most of which we give away. Our church is also having a Harvest Potluck, so we won't be in want of fun things to do with the family. We feel good about our decision and believe our choice lines up with scripture. 
Thanks to all of you for praying for my son and I. God is good and is honoring those prayers. Things have really smoothed out the last couple of weeks. So much so, that I felt confident to take my sister's son, Marcus (10) who has a very similar personality to Josiah, for the week. I'll be homeschooling them both. I'm praying it'll be another smooth week. 
I enjoyed my sister's company this last weekend. We went on a awesome field trip to Walla Walla, processed tomatoes and apples, made some home cleaning products, cooked up a storm, watched the latest "Emma" and talked way too much as usual. Thanks for an awesome weekend, Stacie!
Hope you are all having a wonderful October and having fun visiting Pumpkin Patches and partaking in all the wonderful family-friendly fall activities out there.

God Bless,


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