Thursday, April 29, 2010

Monkeys and muffins and bears, oh my!

Today is my delightful day at home. Each day throughout the week, there are things that draw me away - Bible study, school volunteering, errands, etc., but Thursdays I protect like a mama bear over her cubs, which is, in fact, what I am! Every other day of the week, I try to stay home as much as possible, but this one is special because the first trip I make is to pick up the kids after school, and there is something wonderful about waking up to a day in the den that makes this mama bear joyful with anticipation.

After checking my email this morning, I wandered over to a blog with which I have recently become acquainted (thanks to a dear friend) and I found a recipe (among many that look delicious!) that grabbed my attention. I will post it here, although it barely makes my twelve items or less requirement. I had slowly rotting (okay, they were just very very soft and turning brown) bananas on my counter so I decided to try Monkey Muffins today. Because I have twelve feet in my house, there are lots of mouths to feed so I can't seem to help myself from quadrupling a recipe, which is what I did here (praying that Mrs. H was trustworthy and her recipe was yummy!). Once I got going, I discovered two things. A) The muffins were great! (yeah!) and B) I had dozens and dozens in my kitchen! (oh my!)

I started to pray - not because I was overwhelmed by a bounty of baked good, but because God was prompting me to use them to bless some people today and I wanted to pray for them all as I prepared their yummies. You can see from my photos the resulting tower of treats. What joy to be able to bring a smile to some families today. Our teachers and pastors and friends will sample the sweetness, but I am the one who is blessed by their faithful service and I am so happy that today, in the quietness of my home, with my two youngest happily playing on the floor, I was able to prepare for them all a small token of the love that our family feels for all of them.

Have you considered that in our rush to fill up our days we might be missing the simple pleasure and the daily blessing of looking outside our hectic selves and ministering to others? Are your days so full of appointments and dates, schedules and plans, that you are missing out on that to which we have been called - loving OTHERS? Jesus said that others will know we are His by our love for one another. Is there room in your date book for "one-another" opportunities? Are you training your children to be always looking for ways to love on people, as Jesus Himself did? Will you join me in pursuing a simpler life that pulls out its day-planner and says, "Today is Yours, Lord, and I have carefully penciled in peace so that You may fill my hours with whatever you choose?" Will you help keep me accountable to this commitment?

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Hebrews 13:15-16

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

In a Jam

There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1

Strawberries were on sale. The weekend was not the best for adding the job of "jamming" but I couldn't resist the price. The other truth at play here is that making jam is one the little things that delights me about being a homemaker. It ranks right up there with baking homemade bread and mopping my floors with lavender scented cleaner! :0)

I know what you are thinking. Jam is not that pricey and readily available at the grocery store. Homemade jam is high in sugar (four cups per batch - yikes!) Who has time for hulling, chopping, canning fruit?! Well, I say you are missing out if you have never tried it. The cooked version is wonderful and keeps on your pantry shelf as long as you would need (of course, at our house, it goes fast, no matter how much I make!) The hot sweet scent of ripe berries fills your kitchen, enticing neighbors and mailmen alike.

This time around, I made freezer jam. When time is short, there is nothing simpler and the sticky sugary goodness is worth the twenty minutes it takes to wash, hull and chop berries, add sugar, boil pectin, and stir it all together into a pink heavenly concoction that will cause your peanut butter jar to swoon!

The kids' eyes get bigger when they step into the kitchen (better yet - let them help!) and see all those scarlet jars full of yumminess. Summer feels closer when one eats a piece of bread with jam running down its sides. Little cheeks beg for kisses when strawberry seeds slide into their dimples and fingers find tongues to get every last morsel.

Enjoy the treats of spring. Delight in the simple pleasures. Slip your cell phone into your apron pocket and pull out the wooden spoons and potato mashers and preserve a little love in those jars! Our days slip by too quickly not to stop and smell the strawberries!

God has given us each day as a precious gift. How blessed we are. Are you, like me, often racing through days in a fog of schedules and demands, forgetting that the things that keep us busy are often the things that distract us from those we love most. Is it worth it to stop, breathe, enjoy the bounty that God richly gives us? Can we use those sweet moments at the sink, at the counter, to talk to our great Provider and thank Him for a moment of peace? Is there a spiritual lesson in strawberry jam? Absolutely. What a sweet simple picture it is of the abundant ways our Father blesses us. Stop with me and taste and see that He is good!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Sweet Leftovers

OK - so I know you are all falling off your chairs now because I am posting two days in a row, but don't be shocked. I am loving our week at home and enjoy sharing it here with you. Today, I wanted to share my great idea (I am quite certain I am not the first to do this, but it is the first time I have done it quite to this extent!)

In spite of the fact that my children did not get baskets full of candy from us on Easter morning, there still seemed to be lots in the house (thanks to loving grandmas!) I had my older boys help me sort the loot. Fruity candy went into the candy jar to go in lunch boxes one piece at a time. All chocolate got unwrapped and tossed into a bowl. Then we chopped and cut it up (even the four inch crispy bunny!) and used the chocolaty pile instead of chocolate chips in our favorite cookie recipe. The results were sweet. Sweet! I also remembered that I had a partial half-gallon of vanilla ice cream (Edy's Slow Churned) in the freezer, so I made four ice cream sandwiches. Those will go with a meal tonight to friends from church who just had a baby. Fun!

It makes me giddy to take something of which I'd rather not have in my house and turn it into
a) a fun project and
b) a tasty treat

Enjoy your day. May it be as sweet as ours!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Caramel Monkey Bread

3 tubes biscuits, each biscuit cut into fourths
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Heat cream, brown sugar, and cinnamon in saucepan over medium heat. Place biscuit pieces in greased bundt pan. Pour heated cream mixture over biscuits. Bake at 400 degrees about 20 to 25 minutes. Immediately invert on a plate to serve.

Yummy, Sticky Goodness

We are thoroughly enjoying our spring vacation here. Ten of our twelve feet get to stay cozy in our warm beds a little longer in the mornings this week (sorry, Dad) and we are delighting in eating breakfast in our pjs and rolling through our days sans schedule. Today we started with a mound of sweet biscuity perfection and I thought I'd share. The original recipe was found in an old issue of Simple and Delicious, but I couldn't find it today so I made this one up. Was it as good as the original? I think here a picture is worth a thousand words (words best left unspoken while our mouths are full!) Mmmmmm!