Monday, November 20, 2017

Classic Thanksgiving Recipes

If you are like me, today you are looking at the calendar, figuring out menus, and making your grocery shopping list. We have four different meals this holiday weekend. I want to start early so that I don't hit the frantic button.

The great thing about Thanksgiving is that the menu is so easy. There is no debate in Ed's family or mine that turkey is on the menu. We might do a broccoli salad instead of green beans, sweet potatoes instead of mashed white potatoes, and the dessert options are endless. But the turkey, filling, and cranberry salad are non-optional.

I dug back through the archives and found these classic Thanksgiving recipes. They are classics because most came from my mom and I've made them countless times.

Easy Roast Turkey

Curry Turkey Rub


Green Bean Supreme

Sweet Potato Casserole

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes - with more make-ahead ideas

Bulgar Rolls

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Torte

20 Favorite Pumpkin Recipes

16 Ways to Use Leftover Turkey

What are you eating this week?

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Giveaway - Fragrant Whiffs of Joy

I need the reminder. I need to be told that some day I'll look back at the mundane acts of service that fill my days and know that that it was worth it. 

I just finished reading a book that reminded me of just that. 

Every month Dorcas Smucker write a column for the local newspaper in Oregon. Every couple years, Dorcas compiles these essays into a book. Her newest book is entitled Fragrant Whiffs of Joy. I love Dorcas' combination of humor, honesty, and insight. She shares every-day stories of a busy life with six children flying out the nest. She tells of the ordinary duties of every mom of laundry and endless food prep, but intertwines wisdom that had me turning the page for the next chapter. 

Sometime I laughed out loud such as when Dorcas admitted that she is only pretending to be a perfect minister's wife or the story of the maintenance man or of hacking the computer printer.

Sometimes I nodded such as when Dorcas remembered her sons' escapades and wondered "Why couldn't God have made me know back then what I know now? Wouldn't I have freaked out a bit less?" 

She helped me understand why older mothers say those annoying words to exhausted young moms, "Enjoy them while they're little. They grow up so fast." And reminded me that "when I wait to try it until I'm fully prepared, and make a choice between perfect or nothing, I'll most likely end up with nothing."

Dorcas writes about sisterhood, storytelling, and sickness. The topics of adoption, fabric stashes, winter depression, and letter writing find their way into her tales.

Fragrant Whiffs of Joy gave me encouragement in my mothering journey that can be summed up in the last paragraph of the book. "There are no guarantees or easy answers, only love, hard work and the grace of God." 

Dorcas sent me three copies of her book: one to read and review, one to give away to a blog reader, and one to share with someone who is going through a hard time. I'm going to let you all help me choose the recipients for these two books.

For this giveaway, instead of giving your own name, share the name of someone who would be encouraged by Fragrant Whiffs of Joy. It doesn't have to be someone who is facing a giant problem, just someone you want to bless. You don't even have to say why you'd like to give them the book; just give a first name. Also give your email address so I can contact you for the mailing address. 

The giveaway will be open for one week and is open to US mailing addresses. I'll use to choose two names to receive a copy.

Want a book now? Order from Dorcas Smucker at 31148 Substation Drive, Harrisburg, OR 97446. Books are $12 each plus $2 postage. Checks or PayPal accepted. ( Also available on Amazon. You can also check out Dorcas' blog.

(This post contains affiliate links.)

Friday, November 10, 2017

Six Months And a Thank You

Today marks six months.

Six months since the worst day of my life.

A day that began with watching Ed heave over a bucket yet again.

A day when I drove Ed to the lab for bloodwork, hoping to find some kind of answers for his intense headaches.

A day that included a CAT scan and the radiologist saying, "I see a mass and need to do a MRI immediately."

A day when Ed buried his head in the pillow and appeared barely coherent when responding to my questions. (Ed remembers almost nothing about this day; I tell him I have enough memory for both of us.)

A day when I answered the telephone and heard our doctor explain the MRI results. "A brain tumor. Probably cancer. Very serious. Appointment with a neurosurgeon as soon as possible."

Telling Ed about the doctor's call. Not knowing if he even understood or was aware of what I was saying.

Gathering our children together and telling them that Dad has a tumor, maybe cancer.

Our eight-year-old asking, "Is cancer something that you just get sick from or something that you die from?"

Calling both our families.

The children gathering around the bed, placing their hands on Ed, and praying for their dad.

Lying beside Ed reading a Psalm aloud. Feeling intensely, overwhelmingly alone.

The last six months have been full of hard things. Ed's brain surgery. The confirmation of the glioblastoma diagnosis. Chemo. Radiation. Strict diet changes. But not as hard as that first day.

There may be even worse days in the future. A quick perusal of the news shows that there are many people who are grieving tremendous losses. Pain, grief, loss, death - all part of living in a world that has chosen to reject God and been cursed with sin. "For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now." (Romans 8:22)

In the last week, three friends with brain tumors - an eleven-year-old boy, a twenty-five-year-old beloved teacher, and a friend of my parents -  were told that there is nothing more that can medically be done to halt their cancer. We grieve with them. It hurts to know that, without a miracle, our family too may face that reality some day.

We are entering a season of thankfulness. It can be hard to be thankful when facing pain and grief. But I look back on the past six months with thankfulness for you.

We have been so supported by your prayers. You have prayed for us when I have felt too weak to pray. Because of you, we have felt God carry us through these months. Because of your prayers, we have had months full of joy. You've sent us Scriptures that were a drink of cold water on the days when I couldn't pour myself a glass. You've shared your stories of God's faithfulness on your worse days.

You've given us hope. A hope because of Jesus.

Thank you. And if your prayer list can hold more names, please pray for Ambrose, Jess, Mark, and their families.
"Fear thou not; for I AM with thee: be not dismayed; for I AM thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness." Isaiah 41:10 (A Scripture shared at Ed's anointing service.)

Saturday, November 4, 2017

12 More Picture Books to Celebrate Fall and Thanksgiving

I love reading seasonal books with my children. I shared some fall books several years ago but have discovered many more favorites since then. Here are twelve books featuring apples, pumpkins, and Thanksgiving.

Applesauce Season by Eden Ross Lipson, illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein
A charming book about a three-generation urban family and their fall tradition of making applesauce. This is one of my all-time favorites.

One Green Apple by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Ted Lewin
A young Muslim immigrate joins her class on a field trip to an apple orchard. The illustrations take you to a sunny fall day and the story reminds us of the power of shared laughter.

A Song for Lena by Hilary Horder Hippely, illustrated by Leslie Baker
Grandma is making apple strudel and humming a tune, just like she learned as a girl in Hungary. She tells the story of strudel, a beggar man, and generosity. Includes a recipe for Grandma's Apple Strudel.

Apples to Oregon by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter
An exaggerated tale, loosely based on a true story of how the first fruit trees came to Oregon. The fun pictures will make any child smile.

Meeting Trees by Scott Russell Sanders Illustrated by Robert Hynes
On a walk through the woods a dad teaches his son about trees. Detailed illustrations will teach you about trees too.

Leaf Trouble by Jonathan Emmett, illustrated by Caroline Jayne Church
The leaves are falling! Pip Squirrel to the rescue – until his mother explained. I love the creative illustrations in this celebrations of fall.

Sharing the Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Jill McElmurry
Everyone is getting the Thanksgiving meal ready. Lilting rhymes and warm paintings made this a favorite over Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Is Here written and illustrated by Diane Goode
Fun water-color illustrations will have your child looking through these pages slowly to catch the whole story of a thanksgiving at Grandpa and Grandma's.

Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving by Laurie Halse Anderson, illustrated by Matt Faulkner
Funny and informative, this book shares the history of the Thanksgiving holiday and the determined woman who helped make this a federal holiday.

Sophie's Squash by Pat Zietolow Miller, illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf
Sophie's parents buy a squash at the market for supper, but Sophie chose the squash to be her friend. This book was a favorite of my two-year old last year and I nearly had it memorized.

Winter is Coming by Tony Johnston, Illustrated by Jim LaMarche
A girl watches each month of autumn from her perch in her tree house as the woodland creatures prepare for winter. Gorgeous illustrations are the highlight of this book.

Crow Call by Lois Lowry, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
Liz's father is just home from the war and they set off on a cold fall day to go crow hunting. Lovely illustrations depict the Pennsylvania farmland. Based on the author's experience as a girl.

Ahhh...just looking over this list gives me so many warm, fuzzy memories that I want to make an immediate trip to the library.

For more books, visit my first fall picture book list.

(This post contains affiliate links.)

Monday, October 30, 2017

Who Is Your Father?

"How's Ed doing?" I'm asked the question often. And what should I say?

Do I say he is doing fine?

But GBM is not something that you just recover from and go on your merry way. Not without a miracle. But Ed is feeling great. His latest blood work shows that all his labs are within the normal range. Ed has been tired recently, but he has also been coming home, gulping down supper, and spending his evenings working in his home business in the basement. With those long work hours he has an excuse to feel tired.

But I think most valuable of all is that we truly have a peace about the future. We know that our lives are in God's hands. We can wake up each morning, do what we are called to do for the day, and not worry about the future.

A few weeks ago we had a visitor to our church who shared the morning message. (Many of you may know Timo Miller from Nicaragua.) He gave a very simple but clear message from Matthew 6.

Most of us can quote the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6. "Our Father which art in heaven. Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, They will be done, in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread..."

Several times during the message Timo asked, "Who is your Father? Is He trustworthy?"

So simple, yet so powerful. God will give us daily bread - everything I need - so why do I worry about tomorrow? When I truly claim God as my Father and understand His character, His power, His dependability, His love - I have peace.

The last few weeks have been busy. We bought a new van (a story for another day). My twelve-year-old son took part, for the first time, in the great Pennsylvania sport of deer hunting and brought home his first white-tail. (Yes, that also means he is fully recovered from his lawn mower accident.)

We have also had some not-so-good things these last weeks. We mourn to learn of a friend's diagnosis of glioblastoma. Several other friends have had serious illnesses and long hospital stays.

On the minor but still not fun category - our youngest daughter contracted a terrible rash. She had huge blisters around her mouth and covering a large portion of her legs. I suspected hand-foot-and-mouth disease since I knew she had been exposed, but this rash looked so unlike the typical rash that I took her to the doctor. Two doctors examined her and said they had never saw a rash like hers. We still don't know what she had, but thankfully she recovered quickly.

I love living in a place with the beauty of October. Maybe I enjoyed it more this year because we don't take even a day for granted.

We also had some fun events the last weeks. Here are a few photo highlights.

 One afternoon we went with a few friends to a pumpkin farm that has activities for children.

Such as slides...

And huge trampolines.

I took the older children on the corn maze, 

While the younger ones enjoyed the corn bin.

 What is more beautiful than the brilliant blue skies of October?

My whole family spent a weekend camping together. 

As always, food is a highlight of camping.

Saturday brunch was fritatta made in dutch ovens and coffee cake.

The barn was the site of lots of game playing.

Grilling chicken for more fabulous eating.

 Corn hole tournament.

Making music.

Sunday morning pancakes.

But the highlight for me was the service Sunday morning.

We sat around a circle and sang together. The men shared some insights from Scripture and then we joined together in prayer for my brother who is serving God in Iraq.

October, with all its beauty, only gives a glimpse of our Heavenly Father who pours out the blessing of grace and peace.

Who is your Father?

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Bookmarks: Picture Books on the Middle East

I think a well-written picture book is the perfect way to show my children how others live - all without a passport or airline ticket. 

I shared a list of picture books about refugees a few months ago, but since my brother is serving refugees in the Middle East right now, we have been looking for books on both refugees and the Middle East. Here is a few of our favorites.

Sami and the Time of the Troubles by Florence Parry Heide and Judith Heidi Gillilard, illustrated by Ted Lewin
For children like Sami, most of their lives have been spent hiding in dark basements in fear of the violence in the streets. Rich paintings show life in war-torn Beirut, Lebanon and the hope that someday the troubles will end.

Snow in Jerusalem by Deborah da Costa, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright
Two boys in Jerusalem's Old City care for a white stray cat. Living in separate quarters, the white cat helps the boys cross boundaries and form a friendship. Lovely water-color illustrations take you on a trip through Jerusalem's streets.

Lost and Found Cat: The True Story of Kunkush's Incredible Journey by Doug Kuntz and Amy Shrodes, illustrated by Sue Cornelison
Another cat story - but this one is true. Sura risks everything to take her children safety. With their beloved cat, they travel across the Iraq mountains and across the sea to Greece. When they become separated from their cat they expect to ever see him again.

The Day of Ahmed's Secret by Florence Parry Heide and Judith Heide Gilliland, illustrated by Ted Lewin
Follow Ahmed through the city of Cairo as he travels on his donkey cart to deliver fuel bottles. Cario, Egypt is actually part of Africa but I placed it on this Middle East book list because of the similarities of culture.

SteppingStones: A Refugee Family's Journey by Margriet Ruurs, artwork by Nizar Ali Badr
An incredible book sharing the plight of a young girl fleeing her home. The highlight is the artwork by a Syrian artist who uses sea-washed stones to illustrate the story. A reminder of the experience of thousands of people who are searching for safety for their families.

Do you have any recommendations of picture books that depict either refugees or the Middle East?

(This post contains affiliate links. Clicking through the link to Amazon and making a purchase supports this site with no extra cost to you.)


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