Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Potato Fest 2006

Rebecca has had Potato Fest all this month. As usual, I am sneaking in just under the wire with my recipe and tips!

Our family loves potatoes. The kids (and husband) like nothing better than mashed potatoes and would probably eat them every single night for supper. Unfortunately for them, they don't get to do that!

My husband is a master potato masher. He calls them "smashed" potatoes. They are smooth and creamy and very good. I didn't realize just how good they are until I had mashed potatoes elsewhere; they were dry and had lumps in them. His are very smooth. A special treat around here is to put ranch dressing in as he mashes the potatoes.

A tip for mashed potatoes for a large crowd? Buy a drywall mud mixer attachment and put it on the end of a drill. Turn the drill on and in less than a minute a large pot of potatoes will be mixed. It takes the fear out of doing mashed potatoes for a large group!

On to a recipe:

My family also loves fries. I have done oven fries for years and we always enjoy them. On Sunday, I served them with gravy and roast beef and that was quite popular - they don't usually get gravy with their fries!

I know this is a common recipe but in case someone hasn't seen it before, here you go.

Slice potatoes into wedges. You can peel them or not, depending on your preference. Toss them with some oil (a tablespoon or two). Oil the pan (I keep some older cookie sheets on hand for potatoes, fish fries, tuna melts, etc so that I don't wreck my newer pans) so the fries don't stick. Bake at 425 for about 10-15 minutes. Turn the wedges over and bake for another 10 minutes or so, until the outside is crispy and the inside is soft. Serve with ketchup, gravy, salt & vinegar or anything else you desire!

This is a fast Friday night supper or can be used at any time. The camp I work at in the summer always has one meal during the week with potato wedges and they are popular with the campers.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Overwhelmed

Life is proceeding at its usual pace although I wish said pace would just turn it down a notch or two.

Last weekend, we spent two days in the city at a Bible quizzing tournament. This is our first year doing it and it was great. My older two are involved and they won rookie awards (2nd & 4th) for points. We were pretty excited about that!
Another positive note - yeah, Apple! My ipod, which was new last spring, had a battery that was not lasting anywhere near the time it should. I contacted Apple, they sent a box with a little courier sticker on it, I gave it to the courier and just over a week and a half later, I received the box back with a new ipod in it! How's that for service! That's the best response we have ever had from any large (and possibly, small) company.

I'm trying to be a responsible homeschool mother and keep up with our school work. Really, all I want to do is to scrapbook and read my library books. But, no, schoolwork is important so we're working hard on that. With four children working this year, it doesn't leave a lot of free time during the day. And during the free time, my family would like to eat, live in a clean house and have clean laundry. Imagine that!

I have two or three scrapbooking projects on the go, one of which has to be done by the end of next week. We have lots of church activities, including a mini-retreat for ladies tonight & tomorrow. And we're going away in a week to our denomination's national convention and I haven't finished planning our activities for that week yet either!

I'm trying not to be overwhelmed but to just take each day as it comes and not waste parts of those days in non-essential activities (bloglines comes to mind!). Some days, a nap and a book (not necessarily in that order) are essential activities but they also need to be short.

I am reminded regularly, which is a good thing, to preach the gospel to myself daily. Let's pray that we will all be able to do that and that Christ will be glorified through our lives.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sunday Hymn - Grace Greater than All Our Sin

I just finished reading A Garden to Keep by Jamie Langston Turner. It's one of my favourite books and I hadn't read it for a while. This hymn popped into my mind after finishing the book, which is a beautiful example of grace.

Grace Greater than All Our Sin

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled.
Refrain
Grace, grace,
God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,
Threaten the soul with infinite loss;
Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,
Points to the refuge, the mighty cross.
Refrain

Dark is the stain that we cannot hide.
What can we do to wash it away?
Look! There is flowing a crimson tide,
Brighter than snow you may be today.
Refrain

Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see His face,
Will you this moment His grace receive?
Refrain

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Do you need a new camera?

Carolyn, at Solo Femininity, posted a link to a new camera - one that will make you appear slimmer!

Check this out.

Would you buy one?

And also, can anyone what happens when you use the trackback thingie? I don't know what to do with it.

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Updates

**Updated to change Kara's links which she nicely posted in the comments.**

I just updated my sidebar again with more books. I also just noticed that the link for my husband's blog wasn't working - poor guy. I checked and it was a typo that I changed so now everyone can go and check his great blog.

I am amazed by those people who post everyday or several times a day. I was amazed by them before I started blogging and I'm even more amazed now. It seems like the days just fly by and I have to constantly be choosing what to do. It's never a choice between having nothing to do and blogging or scrapbooking or school work. It's always a choice between a lot of good things. So the blogging doesn't happen all that often. Neither does the scrapbooking, although I did get quite a bit accomplished on Friday evening and last night. I will post some pictures one of these days.

In an online discussion, I posted a list of the podcasts and mp3 sources that I enjoy. I think I'll post that here as well. As Terry said in a recent post, there's so much good audio to listen to that there's not a choice between good and bad but between better & best.

Here's my list of recommendations. I'm sure there are more!


Podcasts:
- Capitol Hill Baptist Church (Mark Dever) - for both messages on podcasts and interviews with 9 Marks Ministries (those are mp3s)
- Sovereign Grace churches - most of them have podcasts. I like Covenant Life - They have separate series sometimes, in addition to the podcasts, and they are free, for the most part. They sell messages from their conferences (for reasonable prices) through the Sovereign Grace Ministries Store.
- Mars Hill Church (Mark Driscoll) - Somewhat controversial - you may disagree with what Mark Driscoll says but you will always have an opinion. I appreciate the Word-centeredness and am not generally bothered by his style. But everyone's different so if you are bothered by it ....
- Revive Our Hearts (Nancy Leigh DeMoss) - 15 minute segments which is nice sometimes
- Tim Challies has started a podcast. I haven't listened to the first interview with Mark Dever yet but plan to soon.
- Alistair Begg - Truth for Life - I don't currently subscribe to this podcast but I do enjoy his preaching.
- For children - Kara's audiobooks (for current books). I haven't listened to many of these but I should get the girls going on them more. She has Our Island Story and Heidi, plus others. For the completed books, please listen here.

MP3s
My dh recently discovered the MacLaurin Institute and their mp3s. He's listened to a few and they are excellent. Ravi Zacharias, Peter Kreeft and others. He particularly liked the series by Vishal Mangalwadi.
Desiring God- They have made all of John Piper's messages available. The latest from the Desiring God conference is available for free. Also, there are historical biographies by John Piper that my dh has enjoyed (they are on my list to listen to).

There are many more but those are the main ones I listen to. I'm currently trying to get through a series of messages and workshops from the Worship God '06 conference put on by Sovereign Grace. I listened to a workshop last night by Bob Kauflin on worship teams and rehearsals/arranging music. It was excellent and a very good reminder to this piano player!

Sunday Hymn - Be Thou My Vision

This was the first hymn that popped into my mind this morning and I've been humming it ever since. As Lynne mentions in her recent post, the phrase "teaching from a place of rest" has been discussed lately and I've been thinking about it quite a bit. Jumping off from what Lynne said, I think that this hymn is a perfect one to help keep us in that place of rest.

Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Quotes

I picked up Norms and Nobility, by David Hicks, this morning. I was looking for some specific information. I didn't find exactly what I was looking for but I did read the last quarter of the book or so and was struck again by his view of education. I underlined several quotes and thought I would post them here. They are more for me but I hope that they encourage and challenge someone else as well.

Starting at ch. 10:

(p. 127) "Cardinal Newman's description of liberal education remains, to this day, unimpeachable: that which teaches the student 'to see things as they are, to go right to the point, to disentangle a skein of thought, to detect what is sophistical, and to discard what is irrelevant. It prepares him to fill any post with credit, and to master any subject with facility.'"

This is becoming more and more important in our world. How many "careers" will the average person have now, according to the prognosticators? Definitely more than one. Training our children to be able to do one job will not prepare them for life. Teaching them to think and to be humble will prepare them for any position. It also teaches them wisdom and discernment in knowing what to choose as the possibilities seem endless sometimes.

(p. 127) "Before he is 18, no one has time to do more than a few things well; therefore better to teach a few subjects thoroughly than to force a child to be a mediocrity in many subjects, destroying his standards, obscuring the nature of mastery, and concealing the measure of his ignorance."

(p. 129) "Only the careless and unskilled teacher answers questions before they are asked. The teacher's chief task is to provoke the question, not to answer it; to cultivate in his students an active curiosity, not to inundate them in factual information."

Ouch. Although I would like to know more about how to accomplish this.

(p. 129) "What students can most hope to learn from a good teacher is how to approach a new subject with the aim of mastering it."

(p. 129) "Much learning is misspent because it is not placed within a thoughtfully structured pattern."

This is something I would love to discuss with other teachers.

(p. 143) "The study of algebra naturally depends upon the student's mastery of arithmetic, and it is grounded on one fundamental assumption: that an understanding of mathematical principles and of the reasoning behind each step in the solution of problems is infinitely more important than the ability to assign correct answers to problems."

(p. 143) "The study of mathematics, the ancients believed, reinforces the mind's power of concentration, memory, and logical process."

(p. 144) "[The discipline of mathematics] is a habit of mind subjugating the young person's natural inclination toward intellectual sloth and self-centeredness; it teaches him to delight in making the scholarly discoveries that usually attend an organized search. It stands as a mighty bulwark against the heretical and preposterous notion that there can be sound learning with concentration, memory, and logical process. The modern attempt to introduce mathematics in a school environment that plays down these three powers of mind not only seems to validate the criticism of mathematics as a useless mental discipline, but it subverts the scholarly habits essential to a student's enjoyment and success in the study of numbers. Where these habits are ignored, an early flowering can only be bought at the price of shallow roots."

I found this section on mathematics fascinating. It was also reassuring that we are on the right track - that requiring a higher standard is worth it and getting through the grumpy "why do I have to do this?" is something to be desired. I plan to share these quotes with my 14 year old son - maybe understanding "why" will help with accomplishing the task, even when it's hard.

Those are most of my quotes. I will be mulling them over this week - I hope it's given some of you something to think about.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Alberta Fall Pictures

It's a beautiful time of year around here. We don't get the brilliant oranges and reds that the Eastern provinces have but we still have lovely colours. My husband and daughter took some pictures recently that I thought some of you might enjoy seeing.




My daughter, 7, took the picture above so it's a little crooked. But the colours are beautiful and the fence line is almost straight!

If you look closely at the picture below, you can almost see the mountains in the background. We can see the Rockies on a clear day and from high ground here, even though we are almost two hours' drive.

A Good and Bad Day for Birds



We had a hairy woodpecker on our garage today. My son took these pictures.


We also saw a grouse on our walk through a trail near our house. We were able to see it fairly well. We have seen them out of town but not this close to town.

And my son's zebra finch, Siegfried, died today. We're not really sure why other than he was two years old and maybe that was just his life span. It's a little sad. We are currently petless but since we've been looking at kittens at a friend's, we'll have to see what happens!

Mmmm..... Pumpkin Pie

There's nothing like a good turkey feast, time with family, a nap, a good walk in the crisp autumn air and then coming home to another piece of pumpkin pie!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday Hymn - Now Thank We All Our God

Now Thank We All Our God

Now thank we all our God,
with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done,
in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms
has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love,
and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God
through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts
and bless├Ęd peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace,
and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills,
in this world and the next!

All praise and thanks to God
the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns
with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God,
Whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now,
and shall be evermore.

I generally think of this hymn as a hymn for Thanksgiving. But I found as I read the background on it, that it is actually a hymn of thanksgiving. Here's what Cyber-Hymnal says:
Martin Rinkart, a Lu­ther­an min­is­ter, was in
Eil­en­burg, Sax­o­ny, dur­ing the Thir­ty Years’ War.
The walled ci­ty of Eil­en­burg saw a stea­dy stream of
re­fu­gees pour through its gates. The Swed­ish ar­my
sur­round­ed the ci­ty, and fa­mine and plague were
ramp­ant. Eight hund­red homes were de­stroyed, and the peo­ple
be­gan to per­ish. There was a tre­men­dous strain on the
pas­tors who had to con­duct do­zens of fun­er­als
dai­ly. Fi­nal­ly, the pas­tors, too, suc­cumbed, and
Rink­art was the on­ly one left—doing 50 fun­er­als a day. When
the Swedes de­mand­ed a huge ran­som, Rink­art left the
safe­ty of the walls to plead for mer­cy. The Swed­ish
com­mand­er, im­pressed by his faith and cour­age, low­ered
his de­mands. Soon af­ter­ward, the Thir­ty Years’ War
end­ed, and Rinkart wrote this hymn for a grand cel­e­bra­tion
ser­vice. It is a test­a­ment to his faith that, af­ter such
mis­e­ry, he was able to write a hymn of abid­ing trust and
gra­ti­tude to­ward God.
That puts a different perspective on my life and reasons why I should be thankful to God for salvation!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Odds & Ends

otherwise known as Bits and Pieces of Life.

I'm feeling a little random right now. So I'm not quite sure what will come out here.

I'm listening to my ipod on shuffle. Right now, "Jesus, Lover of My Soul (It's All about You)" as sung by Dave Fellingham is on. I got this album called "Worship Together" on itunes because it has Stuart Townend's music, which I really like. I don't know much about Dave Fellingham other than what I hear on this album, but what I do know is that he is English. How do I know? "Alpha and Omega" comes out as "Alpher and Omeger". Omega isn't as obvious but Alpha sticks out every time and cracks me up. Which is not so good considering it's a quiet, worshipful song.

I finished The Thirteenth Tale tonight. I resisted picking it up for the last two nights but today after lunch, I started it and took a "little" time later to read it completely. It's a well-written, good story but it's dark. I think the theme is redemption but it's one that isn't so obvious.

Wednesdays are nice days around here. I don't have to go anywhere and we usually get a solid day's work in, as well as leaving me time to do other work. The younger girls & I made 3 apple pies this morning and the crust for the pumpkin pies for the weekend. Two apple pies went in our freezer and the third in a friend's because she was kind enough to give me foil pie plates when all three stores in town were out of the right size.

We have some serious cleaning to do for the weekend and I just realized that I'll be gone to the city all day Friday. Well, I guess we'll get started tomorrow. Family is coming Saturday and Sunday so that will be a nice treat. I need to make buns for the weekend too but I'll probably do them on Saturday so they'll be fresh.

I realized tonight that I forgot to make bread today and we won't have any for breakfast. I decided to make a quick batch of English Muffin Loaf. I just remembered it was rising as I went through the kitchen and smelt that wonderful yeasty smell so I turned on the oven. Thankfully, it doesn't take long to bake.

My mom gave me this recipe years ago. I have no idea where it's from but we like it. It's especially good toasted - it holds the heat for a long time so peanut butter melts at just the right rate!

This is a quick recipe to make too, which is an added bonus, especially when I don't remember to start it until after 8 pm.

English Muffin Loaf

5-6 c. flour
2 pkg (Tablespoons) yeast
1 T. sugar
2 t. salt
1/4 t. baking soda
2 c. milk
1/2 c. water
3 T. cornmeal

Combine 3 cups flour with yeast, sugar, salt and soda. Heat milk & water until very warm. Add liquid to dry mixture and beat well. (Note: I mix the yeast with the liquid first and let it soften; I get better results that way but your yeast may be just fine.) Stir in enough additional flour to make a stiff batter. Divide into two and spoon into loaf pans greased and sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover & let rise about 45 minutes. Bake 25 minutes at 425. Remove from pans immediately.

I spent about 45 minutes on Algebra tonight. Word problems involving rate of speed. After a bit of help from a friend, I'm figuring it out and hopefully my son will be even more successful tomorrow. This is my first time through Algebra since highschool so I find it really helps to work the problems ahead of him. That way when he has problems, I know what to look for; it doesn't take me fifteen minutes to figure it out. Well, not most of the time, anyway. Generally, I like it but I didn't like word problems in highschool and I still don't like them! When someone else points out how to do them, I can see it immediately. But not always before.

The reassuring part is that this is my oldest, the guinea pig. As the next three go through it, I should actually know what we're doing. :-)

I should maybe mention for my American readers that the reason family is coming this weekend and we're having buns and pies is that this weekend is the Canadian Thanksgiving. We like it.

Happy October!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Choices, Choices

On the way to bed last night, I had to choose a book to read.

At first I picked up The Thirteenth Tale but then rethought that. How exciting would it be?

I decided on A Naturalist Buys an Old Farm. Somehow it seemed a little more conducive to sleep, especially on a Monday night.