Monday, May 12, 2014

Recent Backyard Visitors


After our long winter, this was a welcome sight!

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This pair of doves show up every evening around 5:30.  These two are the only doves that come and they are always together.

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There's this one blue jay that shows up every couple of days and he doesn't stay around very long.  Blue jays have a bad reputation for badgering smaller birds, but this one seems nice enough.  And he's BLUE, my favorite color!  I loved finding blue jay feathers when I was a little girl.

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This bird is a house finch, which are also very similar to purple finches that sometimes visit our feeders as well.  

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I never get tired of seeing these bright yellow goldfinches at my feeders!  It has been fun watching the coats of the males turn more yellow as spring as progressed.  I really would like to have more of these.  We've put out some nyger seed, which they supposedly prefer, but it hasn't made a difference so far.

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As I opened my curtains one morning last week, I immediately spotted about 5 or 6 of these white-crowned sparrows.  I had not seen them before and didn't know what they were called, so I had to look them up.  They are migratory birds here in Michigan.  I haven't seen any for the past couple of days, so I assume they are on their way north.  I hope they stop here again in the fall when they travel back down south!  I love how their stripes are so bright!
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I've been on the look-out for a rose-breasted grosbeak.  A couple of my neighbors have seen them and I'm hoping one will soon find it's way to my backyard.

Also, a couple from church gave us a hummingbird feeder a few days ago.  Pete hung it this evening, so I'm hoping to attract lots of those this summer too!

All of these pictures were taken through my dining room window.  I can't walk through our dining room without stopping to see what birds might be out there.  I find it to be a pleasant distraction from housework!


Friday, May 2, 2014

Ladies' Day - Random Photos & Thoughts


We had a wonderful Ladies' Day last Saturday at our church.  But I have been debating all week whether or not to share these photos from our ladies' day because they are not quality photos and I wish I had taken more close-up photos of ladies' faces.  Now that I've typed that out, that seems kind of silly!  Plus a few people have wanted to see them, so here they are . . .   


I snapped this photo during our singing.  If I was sitting with you in person and looking at this photo, I would tell you things about each of the ladies sitting at the table in the foreground.  The lady in the wheelchair, Mareva, is I think is close to 90 years old.  She had a stroke a few years ago and lives with her daughter, Karen, who is sitting right next to her.  I'm sure it took some effort for these ladies to be there.  And Mareva's other daughter, Cindy, is sitting across from her.   I am always encouraged when I am around this family!  Then there is sweet Ruth sitting next to Cindy.  Ruth is 88 and has very poor eyesight due to macular degeneration. She is always present for anything going on at the church.  She will be leaving us later this month to move in with her daughter, who lives an hour or so away.  She will be greatly missed.  And then there is Tami, sitting at the end, in blue.  She lives in Indianapolis and was here with her daughter, Wendy.  She & her husband lived in this area many years ago & know a lot of people.  Our church is always blessed when they come for a visit.  Tami is a great encourager and was sweet to help us get everything set up for the day.  You can see many more ladies in the background; there were also some sitting at a table off to the side.  There were 40 ladies there and it was such a blessing to have each one of them with us!  If you look closely, you can see Wendy up there, leading our songs.  Thank you, Wendy, for helping us blend our voices in worship to God!  And thank you to  Heidi, Gracie, & Beth for leading us in prayer.  I feel very blessed to belong to a fellowship of sweet, dedicated sisters! 

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Here is another photo I took while we were singing.  I love these two ladies and I just thought they looked cute together!

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We divided the ladies into two groups to play games and do a craft project.  These ladies are playing a purse game; they were given a list of items and they got points if they had the items in their purses.  I chatted with these ladies on the end for a few minutes.  Do you see the little thing next to the vase of flowers?  That is a turtle!  One of the ladies took it out of her purse and told me that she carries it with her as a reminder of her son, who died a few years ago.  I love hearing stories like that!  We played another game where each person answered a simple question.  It was really nice to learn interesting little things about each other.  Thanks, Wendy, for the fun games!


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This is a photo of some of the ladies making butterfly magnets from pop cans.  Why didn't I take a picture of a finished butterfly?  They were so pretty!  Thank you, Loretta, for coming up with the perfect craft!  And thank you to Wendi  (standing there looking lovely), for using your artistic talents to create a beautiful bulletin board (that I should've taken a picture of)!


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This is the only close-up people photo I took - and it's my daughter & grandson!  Lincoln is nearly nine months old and has had two heart surgeries.  Caitlin has just now been able to start bringing him to church and I was thrilled that they were there for ladies day! 

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You can probably guess from looking at the photos of the food that our theme for the day was butterflies!   Thank you, Pinterest, for giving us ideas for our refreshments!

I gave a lesson entitled Live Like A Butterfly; a lesson about how God can transform each of us from self-centered creatures (like caterpillars) to ladies who spread beauty & God's love to the world around them (like butterflies).  The ladies listened so intently and encouraged me greatly.

All in all, it was a great day and we're looking forward to doing this again next year.  And we've decided we will have a designated photographer! 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Homemade Granola



This is a recipe I wish I would have had when my kids were growing up!  Every week when I bought groceries, I bought at least one box of cereal.  Cereal was often eaten, not just for breakfast, but also as an after-school or bedtime snack.  One of our favorites was Honey Bunches of Oats.  Take a look at the list of ingredients:

Corn, Whole Grain Wheat, Sugar, Whole Grain Rolled Oats, Brown Sugar, Almonds, Rice, Vegetable Oil (Canola Or Sunflower Oil), Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Corn Syrup, Salt, Whey (From Milk), Malted Corn And Barley Syrup, Wildflower Honey, Caramel Color, Cinnamon, Natural And Artificial Flavor, Annatto Extract (Color). Bht Added To Packaging Material To Preserve Product Freshness.

(http://www.postfoods.com/our-brands/honey-bunches-of-oats/with-almonds/)


Thankfully, over the past few years I have learned that most of the ingredients listed here are NOT the ingredients I want to be putting into my body on a regular basis (or at all, really).  But at the time, I thought I was doing a good thing for my kids.  After all, it was cereal . . . a much better choice than candy, right?  Plus, it seemed a healthier cereal than a lot of other cereals found on the grocery store shelves.

Here is a much more nutritious alternative, which I think tastes more delicious and is probably more economical.   This is my version of the granola recipe from the Heavenly Homemakers blog, which is listed on my favorite blogs, to the right.

  • 4 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 3/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil

  1. In a small saucepan, melt coconut oil.  Remove from heat & stir in honey.  
  2. In a large bowl, mix together oats, coconut, & almonds.
  3. Drizzle the oil/honey mixture over the oat mixture.  Stir until well-coated.
  4. Pour mixture onto a large baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper.
  5. Bake at 300 degrees for 35 minutes, stirring after the first 20 minutes.  
  6. After granola has cooled, break apart and store in an air-tight container. 










Friday, April 18, 2014

The Blood Of The Lamb

photo from www.holypal.com

Look, the Lamb of God,
who takes away the sin of the world.
(John 1:29)

He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
(Isaiah 53:7)

For Christ, our Passover lamb,
has been sacrificed.
(1 Corinthians 5:7)

 . . . you were redeemed . . . 
with the precious blood of Christ,
a lamb without blemish or defect.
(1 Peter 1:18-19)

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As this old hymn asks, may I ask also,  "Are you washed in the blood of the lamb?"

Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power,
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you fully trusting in his grace this hour?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Are you walking daily by the Savior's side?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Do you rest each moment in the Crucified?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Lay aside the garments that are stained with sin,
And be washed in the blood of the Lamb?
There's a fountain flowing for the soul unclean,
Oh be washed in the blood of the Lamb!


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Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!
(Revelation 5:12)

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.