Friday, April 11, 2014

Inspired On The Road

photo from 
http://apr.org/post/alabama-motorists-getting-new-license-plates-soon

Pete & I recently took a road trip to southern Alabama.  It was our first long road trip in several years and the farther south we traveled, the more spring had progressed!  I enjoyed finding beauty and inspiration all along the way, even on the cars in front of us. As soon as I spotted a license plate with the design pictured above, I knew I had to create a card based on those colors!  

I simply sponged on the ink to make the background, then embossed the image in black.  I love the simple beauty of nature (sunshine, treeswater) and the quote is one of my very favorites.

Of course, this method of sponging on background colors and stamping a bold image in the middle would work for all kinds of cards.  And this is a very quick way to make an awesome card - this card took less than 10 minutes!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Work Of God


Back in August, I shared here that our grandson, Lincoln would soon be born and would require special medical care because he has a heart defect.  Lincoln is eight months old today and we are very thankful that he is doing so well.  He had his first open heart surgery within a few days of his birth and the second surgery was in December.  To look at him, you would never know of the difficulties he's already faced in his young life!  It is a thrill to see him grow and develop his little personality.  He still faces a third surgery (sometime around age 2) and possibly other challenges, but for now he is doing well and we give God our thanks everyday!

When I think about the whole situation, there are many things that are beyond my understanding.  Why was Lincoln born with half of a heart?  How is it possible for surgeons to open up a heart and re-route the flow of blood?  How have our daughter and son-in-law managed to go through this experience with calmness and courage?  Perhaps my biggest question is why do some babies with the same condition not survive?  Sometimes we wonder, but don't like to talk about it, why does God allow tiny babies to suffer and sometimes die?  These are un-answerable questions.  No matter how long I think about them and try to come up with answers, I know that I never will.  

As you do not know the path of the wind,
or how the body is formed in a mother's womb,
so you cannot understand the work of God,
the Maker of all things.
(Ecclesiastes 11:5)

 I cannot explain the great difficulties of life, but I can choose how I deal with them.   A few options:  I can wear out my brain by continuing to fruitlessly search for answers.  I can mourn the tragedies that many people face and let my days be filled with grief.  Or I can simply trust in my God and believe that He knows what He's doing.  

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)


This is the attitude I strive to have each day; a humble, childlike faith in my Father.  The Bible is full of assurances that He loves His children and is at work in their lives.  We can trust Him!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Pesto Sauce



Have you tried pesto sauce?  It is a tasty sauce that I like to use on pasta.  I have also used it as a condiment for chicken, drizzled it over tomato soup, & used it as a sauce for pizza.  Once I spread it on grilled cheese sandwiches, with fresh mozzarella, and that was really good.  I used to buy it pre-made; it can be found next to the jars of spaghetti sauce at the grocery store.  I thought it tasted pretty good, but once I learned that soybean oil is something to stay away from, I quit buying it.  I had looked at recipes to make it myself, but they all called for pine nuts, which seem outrageously expensive to me, so I kind of forgot about it.  

But a year or so ago, I was feeling adventurous in the kitchen and decided to make it with walnuts, instead of pine nuts.  Also, since I didn't have as much basil on hand as the recipe called for, I added some spinach.  It turned out delicious and I've been making it regularly ever since.  It tastes SO much better than the store-bought version!  

This is typically how I make it (depending on what ingredients I have on hand):
  • 1/2 c walnuts
  • 6 c fresh basil/spinach (it doesn't really matter how much of either one)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
Combine all ingredients, except for the oil, in a food processor.  Pulse until coarsely chopped.  With the machine running, add the oil through the feed tube to blend into a rough paste.  


This is a great way to get more green into your diet!  According to this article, basil has numerous antioxidents and has been shown to be anti-microbial (able to fight against bacteria & viruses), anti-inflamatory, and anti-diabetic.   

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April

photo from www.amazon.com


April

The roofs are shining from the rain,
The sparrows tritter as they fly,
And with a windy April grace
The little clouds go by.

Yet the back-yards are bare and brown,
With only one unchanging tree -
I could not be so sure of Spring
Save that it sings in me.

                                  ~Sara Teasdale

Monday, March 17, 2014

Thinking Green

(photo courtesy of wallpaperia.com


Obviously, today a lot of people in the US are "thinking green" today!  Most everyone I know are eagerly waiting for spring to arrive.  (The official first day of spring is this Friday, March 21, according to my calendar.  We'll see what the weather thinks . . . )  We have had snow on the ground where we live, in southern Michigan, since sometime before Christmas I think.  Last week, we had some warmer temperatures that caused some of the snow to melt and yesterday I was pleased to see a tiny little bit of green peeking out through patches of snow!  Who knows, we still may get more snow, but seeing that little glimpse of green gives me hope that spring is on it's way!

Although there is a lot of beauty to be seen in the winter, I am always ready for spring.  It is exciting to see trees and flowers come back to life, after a long dormant winter.  And then there are baby animals.  Everywhere we look, we see signs of new life!  There is a feeling of excitement and energy that comes as the world around us becomes green.  And when Easter arrives, we celebrate the ultimate expression of "life after death" as we reflect on the resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Spring is probably my favorite season because of the hope and renewal that can be experienced on many different levels.

Lately, I've been thinking about how much the color green represents life.  This is clearly seen in the food we eat.  The nutrients found in green vegetables nourish the cells in every part of the body and enable us to enjoy healthy, vibrant, energetic lives.  Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains are often referred to as "living foods".  They have not been bleached, refined, preserved, or chemically enhanced.  If eaten in a raw, or close-to-raw state, these foods will help your body ward off cancer, heart disease, degenerative diseases, obesity, and countless illnesses. In other words, these foods will keep our bodies alive.  This is one of the amazing evidences of God's intelligent design in creation.   Even before God created people, he created food for the purpose of nourishing our bodies!
  
Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the earth
and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. 
They will be yours for food."
(Genesis 1:29)

And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground-
trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.
(Genesis 2:9)

(Side note:  I don't think these verses mean that God only intended for people for people to eat fruits & vegetables.  (See Genesis 9:1-3)





So this is one way that I try to get more of these life-giving nutrients into my my diet - green smoothies.  Have you tried them?  I admit I was skeptical at first at how well they would taste!  But once I tried it, I was pleasantly surprised at how delicious it was.  Believe it or not, you really don't taste the spinach and lettuce.  It just tastes very fresh!  The fresh fruit balances the taste of the greens and gives a natural bit of sweetness.   I drink a green smoothie almost every morning and it keeps me full for hours.  The recipe that I use is from Kimberly Snyder's book Beauty Detox Solution, but there are many others to be found by googling "green smoothies".  

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups chopped spinach
  • 1 cup chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 diced pear
  • 1/2 diced banana
  • 1/2 lemon
Add water, spinach, lettuce, & celery to the blender.  Starting the blender on a low speed, mix until smooth.  Gradually move to higher speeds and add the pear, banana, & lemon.  This makes 1 serving/approximately 24 ounces.

By the way, Happy St Patricks Day!  We will be enjoying the traditional corned beef (home-cured), cabbage, potatoes, and Irish soda bread.  For dessert, we will have a chocolate mint dessert that will be a beautiful, natural shade of green.  Can you guess where the green color will come from?  Here's a hint!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

My Constant Companions

What greater love than the love of a cat.
(Charles Dickens)

Or two cats, in my case!  Meet Meg (on the left, short for "Nutmeg") & Mo (on the right, short for "Molasses").  I'm rarely alone in my house; Mo likes to hang out with me in the kitchen & Meg is an excellent foot-warmer when I'm sitting in "my" chair in the living room.  

Monday, March 10, 2014

Wherever you are . . .

image:  www.picstopin.com


Have you read this quote before?  It was written by Jim Elliot, a missionary who was killed while attempting to evangelize a native tribe in Ecuador in 1956.  I've often pondered this quote since I first came across it several years ago.  I find that it applies in just about every situation!  Examples - doing any kind of housework, conversing with family members or friends, working on craft projects, enjoying a delicious meal, going for a walk.  Or bigger things, like raising kids or teaching the gospel.   The list is endless!  If I give myself entirely to whatever I'm doing in any given moment, I'm going to get more more out of it.  

Are you familiar with the concept of "mindfulness"?  According to wikipedia, it "refers to a psychological quality that involves bringing one's complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis."  This is a practice that has roots in Buddhism and is practiced on many different levels.  But for me, it simply boils down to "pay attention to what you're doing!"

It also reminds me of the scripture found in Ecclesiastes 9:10:  "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it will all your might."

What things come to your mind from reading this quote?