Monday, December 10, 2012

C is for cookie

I spent a few hours today mixing up loads of dough. All said and done, we have 17 rolls of our own slice-n-bake cookies ready to bake. We had 18, but cut half of 2 of them to bake this afternoon.

here's the recipe:

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter..softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 tspn vanilla
1/2 tspn baking powder
1/2 tspn salt
3 cups flour

Combine butter and sugar, cream together. Add egg and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients until well combined. Then, add salt and baking powder. Slowly add each cup of flour, incorporating each cup before adding the next. Dough will form into a large ball. At this point, you add whatever you desire to the dough.

Here are some ideas: chocolate chips, chopped nuts, raisins, dried fruit, toffee bits, M&M's, flavor with extract, etc...

If you desire chocolate dough, omit 1/3 cup flour and use 1/3 cup cocoa instead. We like this version with white chocolate chips in it.

*this recipe is a great "dunker" cookie..great with hot chocolate, coffee, milk.. The dough itself isn't very sweet, so it's flavored mostly by what you add into it. If you desire a more moist and sweeter cookie, use only 3/4 cup sugar, and add 1/2 cup brown sugar. This is equally good. We especially like the brown sugar recipe in the cookies with chocolate chips and raisins.

Once the dough is made, divide it into 2 halves. Roll each half into a long tube (approx. 2 inches wide/ 10 inches long). At this point, you could roll the entire log into colored sugar or put stripes down the sides with food coloring (just other ideas). Now, all you have left to do is wrap and store the dough.

I wrapped in plastic wrap, but only because I didn't have any parchment paper, and I'm not going to store them for more than a few days. If you wrap them in parchment paper, the dough could be stored for quite a while, and you could have cookies ready to bake at a moments notice.

When you're ready to bake the cookies, slice and bake them at 350 degrees for 10-13 minutes. Cutting mine approximately 1/3 inch wide, I get an average of 2 dozen from each roll.

If you try this out, let me know what favorite combinations you come up with!

Enjoy! They sure go quickly around here!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

a squeaky Christmas.

i'm sure like many of you, we're busily prepping for Christmas activities. the hurriedness and sometimes chaos of the surrounding events can sometime seem to take foreground stage, causing the month to fly by, leaving us awashed on New Year's shore.
over the years we've tried different approaches to savor the days. different devotions, advent calendars, secret acts of kindness.. all of them were and are good, but i'm one to like new things. and if new things include creativity, thoughts of our Savior, and a bit of whimsy..count me all in.
you've all seen Elf on a Sh*lf.. and while i think it's super cute, i've never been a big fan of the fat red suited guy. sorry, don't hate me. i do, however, love the creative ideas that go along with the little elf dude... how he does silly things at night and helps to count down to the big day.
SO...after poking around the good ole' internet, i found some alternatives.. one of them being a Christmas mouse. the idea i saw had the mouse as a world traveler (which i thought a fun idea for a homeschool unit study.. tucking that idea away for future fun). the world traveler idea didn't touch on Jesus, so it was time to put my own spin on it.
here's what i came up with...
each morning, my boys receive a note from "Felix". each day he reveals something more about himself, and some days he gets a "shipment" with a piece of furniture. he began with his rocking chair..his favorite spot to sit and write. the first note explains that he used to live in a barn, but that it gets very cold during the winter.. he was wondering if he could spend the month in our warm house, asking for a simple box to make his home. he goes on to ponder how Jesus was born in a barn, and how it must have been for Him. each day, Felix asks questions that cause us to reflect and talk about Christ's birth. it's also fun, as the boys look forward to the notes and seeing what furniture has arrived.
here are some picture from the first few days..

Thursday, October 25, 2012

an interruption

here i am interrupted on a few levels.. interrupting my series on journeys... interrupted by illness... which interrupts my schedule and everything i deem important.. and finally, interrupted thoughts.         God-stirrings in the depths of who i am.

upon returning home from our journey of trips, i had the grandest of plans laid out. it was time to find our groove, here at home, with school and holidays creeping around the corner.

fall ushers in a time of bring-it-under-control for me, and that was my desire in all areas.

when sickness hit my husband while we were at the beach, i had full intention of outrunning the dreaded plague. it was not to be so. i was hit hard, and down for the entire first week home.

telling myself the next week would be better, i optimistically pressed on.

then, the plague struck the boys..and we were down for another week.

we somehow snuck in one week of normalcy, accomplishing all that i wanted. we did every bit of scheduled schoolwork, attended co-op, all extra curricula and fun was had. albeit dim in my memory, it was a wonderful week. i ended it thankful and hopeful that this was our normal, that we had experienced the last of craziness in our schedule.

i have lost track now, but it was not but a few days later that my own temperature was soaring, stomach aching.
that was almost two weeks now, and i am only on the cusp of feeling a bit better.

realizing all of this illness could be much worse, and there are many people we hold dear who are experiencing devastating, chronic disease, we are thankful in the midst of our own struggles. we truly have it easy compared to some.

but, i am hit with the fact that my plans are only controlled by the One Who is in control of all.
and i find myself at His feet, asking what He has for this season of rest.

for today, i am overwhelmingly struck by the fact that the longer i know God, the more i realize i don't know much of anything.
 i am just a sojourner, completely dependent on Him. His guiding hand. His wisdom.

and although my human screams frustration, i am certain that He has a purpose and plan for every interruption.

Friday, October 19, 2012

a journey traveled..part two..first impressions

having arrived home from this trip...

there was no need to put the suitcases away, for only one week from that day, we were leaving for Nicaragua. that week was spent in much preparation, of course. preparing physically, spiritually and much as possible. although, in hind-site, there isn't much one can do to prepare one's heart for the impact of a trip like this. but, i did what i could. i packed all necessary clothes, for myself and all 4 boys...perfecting my own version of vacuum sealing, via ziploc bags and my tush. then i tended to every toiletry item..taking stock in bug spray and itch-be-gone. i had it all together and felt very in control.

...surely i cannot be the only one who likes to think that i have some control.. oh, what a faulty mindset it is..

finally, the big day came. we left at sun-crack of dawn, excitedly heading to this land we knew not of.

the boys grew their wings, experiencing their first ever plane rides. they all agreed it was fun and fascinating, but overall, no big deal. it was simply a means to an end. the best part for them was the little boxed meals and sodas.

we arrived mid afternoon, somewhat tired, but anxiously excited about this adventure. our first impressions of this country left us slight head tilted, wondering about the conditions people live in, how desperate they were for earnings. something close to 30 men clamoured to help us load our bags into our rental vehicle. it was difficult to count the luggage, so i left that to the men on our team, and quickly accounted for my children, tucking them safely into the van. the airport, although smallish, was nice, with air condition cool. but when the doors opened, thick heat, mixed with a thin layer of sooty smog, smells of gas fumes and burning garbage hit you square on. as we drove through the town, we saw how the majority of their population lives. within our first hour there, my sensory overload had reached it's overflowed point, and impressed a permanent memory into me so deep that to close my eyes and ponder these things, i can be still be there.

but the thing that kept crowding it's way back to the top of my conscience was how beautiful the people were. in the midst of less-than-little, they were thankful. their smiles broad and their homes open..such a welcoming people.

perhaps there is a beauty in having so little that you are willing to share it all..

Thursday, October 4, 2012

a journey traveled... part 1.

 it's been far too long since i've caught up with you dear folk. my apologies, if you will.
now if i could only find the place to begin this epic tale. a tale of adventure, faith and down right exhaustion it is. thankfully, the exhaustion isn't for naught..for much learning was had along the way. and learning i will take. for when i stop learning, i will have stopped living.

i began this journey, of sorts, nigh end of August. the boys and i loaded into the van and trucked northward, to Ohio, to see some blood-folk. we hadn't seen them in nearly four years, which is just plain neglectful and painful to admit. this gathering was ensued by my sweet Ma-maw's coming birthday. eighty years young, she turned, her joy in our Lord still the same driving force of her life.

we all gathered. some who live there, you'ins from Florida and us'ins from Maryland. a grand group we are, full of mischief for certain, but love pervades. and there's something thick about blood. something that kicks four years goodbye and starts right there, having never stopped. mostly, it reminds me of comfort.

having not seen this folk for so long, there were new little ones all around, and even some new cousin-in-laws to meet. there were darling, ringlet-haired girls and spunky, energy-filled boys..some of them seconds, or first-once-removed? i've never been good at knowing the difference. all of them, my folk, and beautifully knitted by the Master Himself.

'twas a delight to see and wrap my arms around these people. being with them stirs memories so thick, i must slice them to be in the present. four more years of not seeing them, cannot go by again. that's simply all there is to it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


we are home and i am so thankful. the past 24 hours are comparable to sleep walking, your body fully going through each motion but your brain not fully grasping every movement. there's a certain disconnect that i put on, a futile attempt at guarding my heart and mind from unnecessary concern and sadness.

i think my husband said it best this evening..."when i got home, i just wanted to hug our boys... and feel like i'm still in need of a good cry." yes. that's where i am too.

our sweet boy came through the surgery well and the MD's found what they were looking for. we sit in a state of relief and great thankfulness.

we are thankful not only for the success of our boy's surgery, but also that the hospital, and all things that come with it, are not our "normal". we are so grateful, and pray so for the parents and precious children who find themselves there so much. walking through the halls of the cardiac intensive care unit was heart wrenching.

mostly, we walk away with a renewed gratefulness to God and the desire to love even better. i have loved hugging and kissing my boys every day, but i desire to hug and kiss them more. i now find myself not passing them without at least a quick squeeze or kiss on their sweet heads or cheeks. there's just no reason to rush by them.

we also walk away exhausted; physically, spiritually and emotionally. but praising God for His faithfulness and strength! He is worthy of praise! there we could have faced this trial without Him.

now, i head to my own bed, for some much needed physical rest. praying we all rest well.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

heart catheterization

tomorrow, we report to the hospital at 7 AM. the catheterization is scheduled to begin at 8. a heart catheterization, that is.

we knew when we got the initial diagnosis that this surgery was a possibility. however, we had hoped that it wouldn't be necessary.

i am not sure how parents who have chronically ill children, needing multiple surgeries, cope. my heart goes out to them. all i know is that i would do anything to take my child's place, if i could. if i could under-go the catherization and my child be better, this would've been done a long time ago.

and, not that i'm comparing my son's surgery to Jesus' horrific time on the cross. but... it makes me wonder how badly God desired to take Jesus' place...

thankfully, i know something else too.. that God is our rock and fortress, a very present help in time of trouble. we go in tomorrow confident that He is in control of every detail and movement by the Dr's and nurses. He also has a wonderful plan in our sweet boy's life in this midst of this. there are lessons for all us.

with that said, we appreciate your prayers. prayers that the procedure would work, and that our sweet 12 year old would be healed.
thank you friends.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012



this time, fifteen years ago, i was wide-eyed awake, laying in bed, heart and stomach fluttering alike. wondering what tomorrow would hold and looking forward to the biggest thing of all, becoming Mrs.

i tossed and turned that night, excitement stealing my sleep. at one point, i visited my parents and reminisced of years when comfort was found between them. then, back in my own bed, i prayed, thanking God for the one i was to wed the next day.

my beloved, the one who God gave me and made me for.

we were so in love that day and we are so in love now. it is true, what they say, about love growing with time. when God is the center of what we do, He grows us individually as well as together. it is an awesome miracle to watch, this tapestry of God's love and grace. He interweaves us, day by day, no threaded minute missing His hand. and it is a beautiful pattern He's made... and one He's not finished with yet.

and my prayer remains the same.

"that our love would show the beauty of His love. that our lives would be directed by His hand above. and no matter what trials in life we face, we know He'll grant us His abounding grace. and we'll stand in awestruck wonders of His way. as we share the love He's given us on this day."

to the man of my dreams then and now... i love you... happy fifteen

Friday, July 20, 2012

sick, sopping and sweet deals

somewhat dragging, this week has been. not entirely certain why. not that i long for days to sift by any faster than they do, but this week has felt close to wading in wet sand.

we began the week not feeling so, that is. seems a Summer flu came for a visit. though a brief 48 hour stay, it had no mercy. thankfully, it claimed only 1 other victim. at this point, it's fair to say that the rest of the family seems to be in the clear.

once the flu left the house, the rainstorms rolled in. we've had the thrilling roll of thunder for 3 nights straight. the clouds have broken just long enough to squeeze in a couple baseball games, and watching our Little Man play with his team has been such fun. my favorite part is when he throws a great strike and looks over to us on the bleachers, dimples deep, smile large. he doesn't care about the numbers on the scoreboard, he just loves to play baseball.

a not so favorite part of this baseball gig is concession stand duty. i pulled my shift last evening, during the clouds break part of the evening. then, in the 5th inning of the games, the clouds gathered and formed a hurried deluge, sending players and fans alike mad-sprinting to their cars. alas, all of the hot dogs were not sold. but, we did get to close up shop a little early. then we workers made our sprint to our vehicles... to no avail. we were ringing wet when we landed in our seats.

rating at 1 of the most hideous pictures of me ever...
count yourselves as family in that i even shared
we also had the random for-no-apparent-reason power outage. a lot of people have lost power during the recent storms, but not us. we lose power at 5:30 in the morning, right during that really solid last couple of hours of sleep. we sleep with white noise (think fans at small tornado strength), so the sudden silence wakes all 6 of us like a firework at bedside. after a couple of hours of tossing about and children visiting to say they couldn't sleep, we finally relented to the day beginning around 8.

with no electricity and the house warming by the minute, the boys and i headed out and ran some needed errands. i was thrilled to find the rest of their school curriculum at our local discount bookstore, and the boys racked up quite a Summer library, scoring some books for .50. my oldest had The Lord of the Rings on his wish list. he'd priced them on several websites and pondered purchasing them, but decided on patience. it paid off. he was so excited to find the complete box set for only $12! he said they were placed so randomly on the shelf, all by themselves, as if God had displayed them only for him to see. we love kisses from our Savior like these, and i love that my boys are recognizing Him.

after our bookstore success, we headed to the dreaded W*l-m*rt for some needed school supplies and some not so needed sharp crayons. but who doesn't love a new box of crayons?? the boys were ecstatic to get new backpacks! this was a brand new experience for them, being homeschooled. no, these backpacks are not for school, but for our missions trip to Nicaragua!! they each now have a carry-on for the plane and a way to carry their own water around while we're there. the price of these bags was unbeatable with back-to-school sales in full swing.

overall, looking back, it's been a productive and fun week, albeit slow. 

how was yours?

*joining the fun at life rearranged...the crazy and silly and plain ole' mundane of our week shared only in cell phone pictures. grab your phone and join us.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Up the Creek

summertime heat has hit head-on, and we're on a mission to stay cool. we do not own a pool and public ones are not my favorite adventure...watching my children inside a crowded pool makes me nauseous, let alone the scantilly clad women who could care less about my pubescent young sons...yeh, that could be the entire cause of my, they cost money.

luckily, my hubby overheard a couple guys talking about their recent kayaking adventures. we've lived in this area of Maryland for almost 6 years now, and hubby grew up here. however, we had never taken an adventure on the Antietam Creek! with a little asking around and some research on the good 'ole internet, we found that tubing is also done on the creek. nothing against kayaking, but floating on an oversized lifesaver is more our style. our boys are at a perfect age for this fun, summertime, beat-the-heat, kind of fun. and with the creek so close to us, we're able to take a few hours on Daddy's day off, strap the tubes to the van and off we go...floatin' up down the creek without a paddle. (okay, so we got a small 2-person inflatable has paddles. but we don't take it every time :-) )

 an added bonus is that obviously Antietam Creek floats through Antietam Civil War area. we even float beneath Burnside Bridge. our boy's curiosity was perked, and they've been checking out books on the Civil War from our library. there's nothing better than seeing your children interested in something simply because they got to experience part of it somehow. can i get an "amen" mommas??

*linking up with Missional Mama's blog hop on outdoor family fun!

Monday, June 11, 2012

checking in

it's become obvious to me, that the only good thing that may occur whilst my hubby is away, is that i take the extra time spent awake to write and blog more often. though, given a choice between bleary-eyed blogging and sleeping contented next to my husband, i definitely choose the latter.

but, here i am, checking in.
the past couple weeks have been crazy busy .. possibly crazier than normal-crazy. except for a 2-day respite following his return, hubby jumped into one of his busiest seasons yet. all good things, but a lot of good things. in addition, almost every night has held baseball for at least one of our boys, sometimes two playing simultaneously. the regular season is wrapping up though, bringing about a sort of bittersweet "ready for a break" but "not so ready for the end of baseball" feeling. it's been a good season for everyone.

last weekend, our church celebrated it's 15th anniversary. we partied in the only way we know...with tons of homecooked food. one of our farming families even donated a hog, which a huge-cooker-owning-gentleman kindly cooked, losing an entire night's sleep in the process. but, oh my, was it good! the aroma as we left the church on Sunday morning was enough to lure the whole county back for the picnic that afternoon. and, when we arrived back, that's what seemingly had happened! the parking lot was FULL. we had a wonderful afternoon and evening of fun, food and fellowship with our incredible church body. we are so grateful for our brothers and sisters God has surrounded us with!

this past week, our youngest participated in a baseball clinic each morning. he had such a great time, learning some new drills and practicing old skills. this boy of ours breathes baseball. he absolutely loves the game. the best part of this camp though was that Jesus was talked about. coach called it "School's Out, God Loves Baseball Camp". he didn't have to talk about his faith in Jesus Christ, but he did. the coach shared each day, and before and after clinic, a couple coaches and an energetic group of 7 and 8 year old baseball players stopped, and bowed their heads. their prayers were simple, heartfelt thanks for the beauty of the day and the opportunity to play a simple game with bat and ball. but, they were said. and, i couldn't help but think that with all the bad going on in this world; in a little town of Maryland, voices of praise were being lifted up. what a sweet aroma they had to be to God.

this week begins another busy one, this time with our older 3 in basketball day camp. while i will miss them, i am looking forward to making some special memories with my baby boy. we also wrap up our regular season of baseball this week. baseball's not ending entirely for us though! our little man recieved word this weekend that he made the all-star team. and, we're all happy for him as well. now, to gear up for the 2nd half of this season.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

last Thursday

in the excitement of my hubby's arrival home, i failed to post this...
so, my friends, i take you a few days back to my ramblings of last Thursday...

we have the radio playing. currently, the song "Restless" is on, and it's ringing my mantra. i truly do find my complete spiritual rest in God, but this word embodies me physically when my husband is absent.

i could have put my fist through a wall last night this morning. tossing and turning for hours, my final glimpse of the clock read 4:01. that's right, A.M. i almost got up to start my day, except for the sudden weight on my eyelids. so, alas, dreamland was found and the wall was spared.

waking up this morning was.not.easy.

in a sleep-walking state, i've squeaked out the had-to-be-done's for the day. i'd held great hope to stain our outdoor deck this week, but thunderstorm after thunderstorm have rained upon us in the past days (one, partly responsible for my staring at the ceiling last night). so, i take that as a firm "no" from God. i apparently wasn't supposed to stain the deck... at least this week.

God's also showed Himself gracious with a night of rained out baseball.. we don't relish the thought of make up games, but it allowed for at least one unplanned, peaceful night at home.

the past days have not gone as fast as we'd liked, but the finish line is in sight. when my Dave walks through the door it's likely that tears of relief and joy will surface, as well as imminent snoring when i finally wrap myself in his arms.

...certain he's excited as i, especially about the snoring.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

heart poison

i saw it when the sun got too much and i had to open the umbrella, tattered as it is, it still protects.
there, this hive, small and delicate. noone was home, but the occupants were sure to return.
they'd labored there while the folds were closed and i couldn't see them taking up residence.

sometimes my heart is closed like that umbrella and darkness tip toes in,
quietly staking ground, building walls.
and as intricate as those walls become over a shockingly short time, they must be knocked down.
the folds of my heart are no place for something that packs such a stinging poison.

but i have to open my heart up first, asking for the cleansing, and the movement of the wind.
i fool myself into thinking that i'm protecting my heart when i close it to the Spirit.
if my umbrella's outstretched, the wind may take it too far.
i am a slow learner, a stubborn sort.

and the stinging flyer is persistent, back to try again, slipping in through the tattered and torn places.
i must make sure it labors only in vain.

joining in at

Monday, May 21, 2012

put me in coach

with three boys playing on three different teams,
it should come as no shock that we enjoy being at the ball field.
which is a might good thing, 'cause we are there often!
while the schedules are at times difficult to keep up with,
we relish each crack of the bat and that firm sound of ball meets leather.

it helps greatly too that the weather has mostly cooperated,
giving us picture perfection baseball days and nights. 

there's nothing quite like a night at the ball field.
the sun just set, with a slight not-quite-summer-yet nip in the air.
or a day spent in the midday high sun.
either way, watching my most favorite players.
it is invigorating.

all three boys have played their very best, enjoying each game, win or lose.
 excelling and enjoying are the perfect matching pair this season.
and Little Man asks, "can i play baseball for Jesus?"
.. wondering what that looks like ..
we've had some lessons in this during the season... some tougher than others.

each have played something fierce, hitting and pitching and catching.
and when they reach their dugout, they encourage and smile,
no matter the tale on the scoreboard.

and all we've asked is that they do their best,
and share the love of Jesus.
they're each braver than i, 
flat-out asking coaches and teammates alike if they know our Father.
(it is a wonder to watch a coach's reaction to this child's question)

and yes, you can play baseball for Jesus, boys.
everything you do in life, do it all for Him.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

keebler elves

keebler elves make for some pretty sweet friends. i know this, a true fact i'm certain.

my Dave's been away for several days now, serving and sweating in Nicaragua (it's rainy season there and humidity is thick). it's not headline news that my nights without him find me restless, it's always been this way. those close to me know that i stay up until wee hours of night morning, in an attempt to bring on tired enough to sleep.

for some reason, the first night without him is always the worst.

so, on that first night, i sat in my living room, reading and facebooking. it was a little after 10:00 when the first text came. one of my dear friends, checking on me. we texted for a few minutes, the conversation somehow leading to how i needed some chocolate cake.. because every woman knows that chocolate cake is helpful in any desperate moment. my friend almost had me up and baking before i got the text telling me that perhaps there were keebler elves in my driveway...

..these 2 special ladies, who I'm certain are going to love this picture so :-) , showed up on my doorstep with cake! and, even better, they kept me company that first night, talking and laughing 'til very early the next morning.

i went to bed no later than i would have. tired, but with my heart ..and tummy.. full. so thankful for these 2 ladies, and many others. i am so blessed to have such sweet friends!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Beautiful Spring

To call these days beautiful is an understatement, at best. Upper 70's, low 80's, sunny, with a slight breeze. If I could order a forecast, it would be this, year around.

We've found every excuse in the book to take our tasks outside. School work and reading seem much more accomplish-able when accomplished on the deck.

In between subjects, we watch the "fluffy stuff" float through the air. We're not certain what it is (though I could probably look it up).  It shows up every year about this time, floating by, and landing in our side yard. Once landed, it's reminiscent of small patches of snow and glistens brightly in the sun's path. We haven't found the source of the "fluffy stuff". We just know that it lands here, in our yard, every year, like clock work...and it's sort of magical.

When school work is completed, we spend as much time as possible outdoors still. Playing and practicing baseball, of course. We're only at the fields almost every night of the week. What else would we do during the day?? :-)

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