Roots Run Deep

Last weekend, the Huz and I took off for Western PA to enjoy some time with my grandma. The nickname, Grambo, was lovingly put into use by some of my cousins (she could do anything!), who have since dropped the usage. However, I have continued to refer to her as Grambo to this day and therefore she will be known as Grambo for the rest of this entry.

I have been going to Western PA for visits all my life. For most of said life I’ve lived in southwestern Ohio, so the trip is familiar and as comfortable as putting on pj bottoms when you get home from work.

So when we hopped in the car and it had already been raining, I decided it would be best for me to drive this regular route. On the Ohio side, the roads are great. We usually take 71 up to Columbus and shoot around the loop to catch 70 over through Wheeling. Once you get on the other side of Wheeling, though, the roads take a turn for the…well…for the Pennsylvania.

But let’s go back a few miles. We were somewhere between Columbus and Cambridge when I suddenly realized that I had left my jeans back at The House. We were halfway through our trek and couldn’t turn around now, so we began looking for the nearest Old Navy on our way. Yes, we were going to stop for some jeans. I can’t spend an entire weekend in my work khakis. Yuck!

We’ve always driven passed the Cabela’s exit so I had no idea what was up there. Wonderfully, there was an Old Navy, an Applebees, and had I lost my will-power, a Bath and Body Works. I stayed strong though and we continued on our way.

Pennsylvania roads are some of my favorites. They are wildly unpredictable in the twists and turns and the construction patterns. Also, the on and off ramps are crrrrazy short. The Huz was not amused by them in the least. Once we got there, all was well and we enjoyed the weekend of going to church, having lunch with Grambo and Uncle Bull at the new Chinese buffet (sadly, Super Panda is no longer in service), pizza for dinner and then a leisurely Monday morning before we had to start our trip back.

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Flowers coming up in Grambo’s garden!

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I asked Grambo if she had a hairdryer and this is what she gave me. I’m pretty sure that my mother used it when she still lived at home.

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Tracks

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Always have to stop by Mister Roger’s Park when in town.

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This morning I went back to visit the church I was attending before I got married and moved out of the area. There was a special baptism service for 11 people! Yeah! It was beautiful! A couple of them were kids that I had worked with in the children’s programs – very special to me. A few others were dear friends or the kids of dear friends. It was such a great service and after a whole winter of failed attempts to get back for a visit, it was much needed to see those faces that were such a big part of my life for so long.  I’m so glad that I don’t live TOO far away for the occasional visit.

Baptism is such a beautiful event. I was all teary-eyed while it was going on. I love watching people take that step of obedience and the picture of salvation it is – identifying fully with Jesus in his death, burial, and resurrection.

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Our crocuses are in full bloom!!!!  They are gorgeous! And a couple days ago, I saw a little fleck of yellow behind them and the mini-daffies are blooming now too. I’m just decided that they are mini’s because they are so much shorter than any other daffodils I’ve ever seen…it is better to say that they were meant to be that way and living up to their full potential than say that they are sorely understated.

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The mini-daffodils. No joke, I’m pretty sure the crocuses are taller than these babies.

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Crocuses are just about my favorite spring flower…they are the first to bloom and remind me that Winter never lasts forever.

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Yep, I rock a pink flamingo in my garden thanks to my nieces and nephew…it’s the only pink I’m willing to have. And there is a mate for it. 😀

I bought an axe a few weeks ago in preparation of trying to dig/whack out some stumps and roots from the garden beds. The Huz keeps telling me that it’s not long enough to be an axe, but I told him it’s all about proportions – it’s smaller because I’m smaller. Yeah!

I also bought some summer bulbs to add to the perennials I already have going. Last year, there ended up a crazy amount of pink and purple…it was too much. This year, I’m going for more…or less rather…or more…or something. I don’t really have a plan for the garden bed…plus I have these awful stumps that are strewn through the beds. They make me so frustrated that I want to just toss a bunch of seeds on the dirt and be done with it.

I did manage to pull myself together a bit to pull out one of the boxwoods and replace it with a forsythia. I might regret saying this in a few years, but I have no problem with it going all wild and crazy where I plopped it. At least that way, it will cover the stump that’s right in front of it. :/ You have no idea…

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Such a pretty little forsythia…so much potential, such a bright future!

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The boxwood that lost…

And all of this just proves to me the old adage that

Roots Run Deep.

Freebie Printable: April Bible Verse Calendar

ESV Apr 16

To continue in the Bible Verse calendar, here are downloads for the month of April in three versions, ESV, KJV, and NIV.

This month’s theme centers around Easter! One of my favorite times of the year – the new life springing forth from the ground and all around us reminds me of our Savior rising from the grave. Such hope!

ESV Apr 24

Instructions:

  1. Download the .pdf file below.
  2. Print onto white 8.5 x 11 card-stock (other colors might be ok, but you’ll have to test that out yourself).
  3. Cut along the dotted lines then sort into numeric order.
  4. Prop up on a little stand, or keep in a drawer and swap out on the fridge. Or buy a recipe box with a ridge in the top for easy reading.
  5. Keep in a prominent place where the members of the household will easily see it. The kitchen table is good, if you have breakfast there.
  6. Discuss verse(s) with family and encourage reading the surrounding verses for context and meditation throughout the day.

Download:

April ESV (pdf)
April KJV (pdf)
April NIV (pdf)

Bible In a Year Plan April  (doc)

Enjoy! Oh, and subscribe to this blog to the right if you’d like notifications of new posts and the next of these printables. I promise not to overwhelm your inbox. 🙂

Smoky Weeknight Chili – BHG Recipe

I subscribed to the Better Homes & Gardens magazine. It brings me so much joy when it shows up in the mailbox each month. If you follow them elsewhere (Facebook, Instagram), then you’ll find even more inspiration. I thought that I would challenge myself this year with making one of the recipes that comes each month in the magazine. I…decided to do this starting last week, so I hadn’t made anything from the January or February editions. So, here you are, the Smoky Weeknight Chili, featured on page 101 of the BHG February edition. (I’m going to have to do something hunting for the January magazine…I can’t seem to find it anywhere…)

Now I’ve never made chili before. This looked like a fairly straightforward recipe, so I figured it would be a good one to start with. Plus, there is cocoa powder, and when you grow up in Cincinnati, you know that cocoa powder can make the chili. This recipe makes 4 servings of 1 1/2 cups each. I also added ground beef, because I cannot serve a meal to the Huz without meat…and I prefer meat in my chili as well.

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Prep Time: 10 mins (unless you’re like me and prep while you cook)
Cook Time: 35 mins

Ingredients

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium green sweet pepper, chopped (3/4 cup)
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1 15-16 oz can chickpeas (Garbanzo), rinsed and drained
1 15-16 oz can great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
2 tbsp chili powder (more or less for taste)
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 14 1/2 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
*1 lb ground beef, browned and drained
1 tbsp packed brown sugar
1 tbsp dark unsweetened cocoa powder
*1 tsp cinnamon (optional for more of the Cincinnati variety)

Directions

1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add sweet pepper and onion. For great tip on how to cut bell peppers, which I did not do, click here. Cook and stir 4-5 minutes, or until tender. This took a bit longer for me, maybe 10 minutes. I think I had my heat turned down though.

2. Add beans and chili powder. Cook and stir 2 minutes.

3. Stir in tomato sauce, undrained tomatoes, ground beef, brown sugar, and cocoa powder and cinnamon, if desired. Bring to boiling and reduce heat. Cover and simmer 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Serving style: Optional toppings of sour cream, green onions, and chili powder. I shredded a bar of my Tillamook cheddar cheese and we used that as topping. It was so yummy!

Health details available (sans ground beef) at the original recipe link above. I revised the recipe format a little. They had steps 1-3 all compiled into one step, and that makes too much reading through while I’m cooking, so I separated it for you.

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did! Have any chili recipes that YOU love? Care to share them?

Freebie Printable: March Bible Verse Calendar

ESV Mar 11

To continue in the Bible Verse calendar, here are downloads for the month of March in three versions, ESV, KJV, and NIV.

I had fun with the color scheme for this month. The cherry blossoms reminded me of Japan, lasting only a couple weeks at the most. And of course, there is the obligatory shamrocks throughout the month.

ESV Mar 18

Instructions:

  1. Download the .pdf file below.
  2. Print onto white 8.5 x 11 card-stock (other colors might be ok, but you’ll have to test that out yourself).
  3. Cut along the dotted lines then sort into numeric order.
  4. Prop up on a little stand, or keep in a drawer and swap out on the fridge. Or buy a recipe box with a ridge in the top for easy reading.
  5. Keep in a prominent place where the members of the household will easily see it. The kitchen table is good, if you have breakfast there.
  6. Discuss verse(s) with family and encourage reading the surrounding verses for context and meditation throughout the day.

Download:

March ESV (pdf)
March KJV (pdf)
March NIV (pdf)

Bible In a Year Plan March  (doc)

Enjoy! Oh, and subscribe to this blog to the right if you’d like notifications of new posts and the next of these printables. I promise not to overwhelm your inbox. 🙂

Freebie Printable: February Bible Verse Calendar

Feb 03 ESV

To continue in the Bible Verse calendar, here are downloads for the month of February in three versions, ESV, KJV, and NIV.

As you can imagine, this month’s theme is love and the verses are full of great verses on the love of God and showing love to others. I hope they are an inspiration to you in the following weeks. FYI, the black and white headshots are of Presidents Lincoln and Washington on their respective birthdays.
Feb 22 ESV

Instructions:

  1. Download the .pdf file below.
  2. Print onto white 8.5 x 11 card-stock (other colors might be ok, but you’ll have to test that out yourself).
  3. Cut along the dotted lines then sort into numeric order.
  4. Prop up on a little stand, or keep in a drawer and swap out on the fridge. Or buy a recipe box with a ridge in the top for easy reading.
  5. Keep in a prominent place where the members of the household will easily see it. The kitchen table is good, if you have breakfast there.
  6. Discuss verse(s) with family and encourage reading the surrounding verses for context and meditation throughout the day.

Download:

February ESV (pdf)
February KJV (pdf)
February NIV (pdf)

Bible in a Year Reading Plan February (doc)

Enjoy! Oh, and subscribe to this blog to the right if you’d like notifications of new posts and the next of these printables. I promise not to overwhelm your inbox. 🙂

Winter Recipes

There are a couple things I learned to love only when I had them while living abroad. One is a persimmon and another is daikon. I can’t abide red radishes. Never have been able to stomach them. I don’t know if the Japanese white radish is more mild, but it is definitely one of my favorite things. I snatched up a couple when I saw them on sale at my local Kroger (yowzas! how international!) and decided I need to do something with them.

Here’s the scoop on daikon.

The word daikon is Japanese for “Large root.” They look kind of like a big white carrot about 10-14 inches long. The flesh is crisp and juicy, with a mild, peppery flavor slightly hotter than a red radish, particularly near the bottom. Daikon is used raw, cooked and pickled. Peak season: Fall-winter, available year-round. Health highlights: Low in calories, fat and sodium. No cholesterol. Excellent source of vitamin C. contains enzymes such as diastase that may aid digestion. Goes with: Herbs, spices and flavors: cilantro, dry sherry, garlic, ginger, rice vinegar, scallions, sesame oil, soy sauce. Foods: Apples, beef, carrots, mushrooms, napa cabbage, onions, oranges, parsley, pork, rice, shellfish, snow peas. Info from “Fresh Produce Guide.”

We froze a lot of the leftover ham from Christmas, so I pulled out some of it and decided to make some soup!

Chunky Ham and Cheese Soup

Ingredients

IMG_20140104_1555562 cups water
2 cups peeled and diced potatoes (Idaho or russet)
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced daikon (or chopped celery)
1/4 chopped green onions
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup cooked ham, cubed
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Directions

1. In a large saucepan, mix the water, potatoes, carrots, daikon, onions, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. You should probably leave the pan uncovered. I thought there might be a mistake, so I put the cover on it. When I was about to do step#4, I realized that my soup was going to be too watery, so I ladled some of it out. With the pan uncovered during this step, the water will evaporate out of the pan and leave you with the right amount of broth.

2. Mix the ham into the vegetable mixture. When I cubed the leftover ham, I included some of the bits of fat. It just adds the right kind of flavor to the broth while the vegetables are stewing, but you can prep it as you wish. I left the soup on the heat while I worked step #3.

IMG_20140111_144702_652_13. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the flour until smooth. Slowly pour in the milk. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir 2 minutes, or until thickened. stir in the Cheddar cheese until melted. This is the first time I’ve made a cheesey soup and I was amazed at how it turned out. Trust me, I would not have thought to add flour. The key is to watch it fairly constantly. You should work on this step once you have the veggies and ham done. I’ve been using Tillamook cheese recently and I love the flavor, consistency, and that it comes from cows not given artificial growth hormones. I have yet to cut myself while shredding it, so that’s always a plus.

4. Mix the cheese mixture with the rest of the soup and serve. Makes 8 servings.

This soup was a big hit with the Huz. We have some more ham leftover, so I might have to make another batch before the end of the month. We had a massive cold snap (like the rest of northern USA and Canada) and the soup warmed us right up!

Amish White Bread

Sometimes even the smell of bread baking in a house can warm up the place. During the -10*F weather we had earlier this week, that was just what I needed. I’ve become disenchanted with white bread bought in a store. I recently watched a video about this compound called azodicarbonamide. It’s a compound used to bleach flour in the US. It’s also found in foamed plastics…like yoga mats. Yum! It’s banned in Europe and Australia and has been thought to increase propensity for asthma.

Check it out in your favorite breads’ ingredient lists – even the ones that say whole wheat bread. The only ones I’ve found so far that don’t have this compound in it are potato bread and Nature’s Own butter buns. So I decided to make my own, take control of what we are putting in our bodies.

Ingredients – for 1 loaf

IMG_20131229_212511_007_21 cup warm water
1/3 cup white sugar
1 pack active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
3/4 tsp salt
2 tbl vegatable oil
3 cups flour

Ingredients – for 2 loaves

2 cups warm water
2/3 white sugar
2 packs active dry yeast (4 1/2 tsp)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
6 cups flour

Directions

1. In a large bowl, dissolve sugar in warm water. Stir in the yeast. Depending on how old your yeast is, you might try to proof it first before mixing in the rest of the ingredients. Proofing is where you let the yeast foam up a bit, about 2 minutes. If it doesn’t, then the yeast might be too old. For fresh packets of yeast, go right ahead with the recipe. It’s best to use the yeast as quick as possible.

2. Mix salt and oil into yeast mixture. Add flour one cup at a time. I hand mix the flour at first and then use a dough hook with my mixer when it gets too hard to mix myself. Let the mixer go for a while, until the dough is balled up around the hook. It might still be a little sticky.

3. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Dough should be smooth and not sticky. Place in a well-oiled bowl, and turn dough to coat. Rub butter on the inside of a bowl that’s bigger than the doughball. Roll the dough around enough to coat the whole thing with butter. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and set in a warm place to rise for one hour. The doughball should be twice its original side.

4. Punch dough down. Knead for a few minutes, divide in half (if making two loaves). Shape into loaves, please into a well-oiled 9×5 in loaf pan(s). Allow to rise for 30 mins or until 1 in above pans. I asked my mom if there was a a secret to getting the bread smooth on the top and she suggested using a rolling pin to roll out the dough, getting rid of all the air bubbles. Then, roll up the dough, one end to the other, tucking in the edges as you go. When you get to the end, press the seam into the rest of the dough and set it into the pan, seam-side down. Rub the top of the dough with butter.

5. Bake at 350*F for 30 minutes. I have a stoneware loaf pan and it makes the bread so nice and brown all around. And the bread never sticks to the pan, I would highly recommend using one.

7 Months Married- Things I’m Learning

1. Married life is such a blessing. I’m glad I waited for it. I’m glad I went for it too!

2. If you don’t do it, then it won’t get done. My hubby is tremendously helpful, but between the two of us, if we don’t do a chore, it doesn’t happen. Mom will not come to the house overnight and fill the sugar bowl for us. Those knives sitting in the sink will not clean themselves and go back in the holder.

3. If I was prone to laziness before the wedding, it doesn’t change much after the wedding.

4. Having someone else around shows you how many of your activities are exercises in futility.

5. We are each other’s spiritual encourager – we’re still working out the whole “spiritual leader” bit, but right now, encouragement is what is called for.

6.  Division of chores doesn’t have to be assigned by gender, but sometimes it’s for the best.

7.  Status checks are great. It’s always a good idea to know where each other is standing in the relationship and make adjustments accordingly.

8.  It’s ok not to tackle all projects at once. One, it costs too much money. Two, there aren’t enough hours in the day. Three, most projects can wait.

9.  If you do something the other likes more then there’s a good chance they’ll reciprocate when it’s something you like more. Car shows for a pro tennis match is an even trade. 🙂

10. Generosity is something that is not optional. It isn’t just about money; it is the unnamed fruit of the Spirit.

11. Cooking can actually be fun! I’ve always been a baker, but I’m really enjoying the cooking-side of the kitchen. I’m very grateful for a husband who is willing to try anything I make…even if just once.

12. Some TV shows are best shared. But be careful of introducing LOST to your husband’s repertoire…it will cause serial runs of the show for days. How my friends and I managed to wait for a week between episodes is beyond me!

13. Remembering is important. Remembering successes, fun times, bad times, mistakes, etc…that’s a good thing. Dwelling on them and not moving forward is not.

and 14. (because it’s 2014!) Cleanliness may not be next to godliness, but it sure is a good idea!

Time to clean up all this Christmas stuff!!

What all did you learn this last year? I know there is more to this list than just 14, but it’s all I could think of right now.