Saturday, March 26, 2011

While it's still March...

... I wanted to show the cute St. Patrick's Day tag that my friend J. made for me last year. Last year, I displayed this on my ribbon board. This year, I have it on my hutch. Here is the front of the tag:
I love the saying on this tag!
And here is the reverse side:
The little vellum pocket contains little green paper shamrocks.

And just for fun, here is something else that happened unexpectedly in March:
Yes, my Christmas cactus is blooming! Very encouraging in the midst of all the cold and snow that still surrounds us up here.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Philippians 4:8

I have been thinking for some time about the practice of meditating on Scripture. When I wrote out these thoughts, we had just started the book Loving God with All Your Mind in our ladies' Sunday School class, and the first verse we dealt with was Philippians 4:8. I spent some time meditating on that verse to help with my understanding of the lessons. At the time, I started typing out my thoughts, with the idea of sharing them here on my blog. That post never got finished. I came across it today in my "blog posts in progress" folder, then easily located the rest of my notes so I could finish typing them out. The fact that I found my notes so quickly is, to me, a good indication that I am meant to share them here. So, here goes:

The word translated “think” in Philippians 4:8 is the Greek LOGIZOMAI. In this verse, according to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, this verb means “make these things the subjects of your careful consideration”, or “carefully reflect on them.”

J. Dwight Pentecost explains, “The word translated ‘think’ really means
to meditate’ -- to dwell on, to give continuous attention to, to mull over, to be occupied with, to continually focus attention upon.”

As Elizabeth George reminds us in the book Loving God with All Your Mind, meditating on Scripture involves asking questions about its meaning. She suggests, "For instance, think about how each of the 8 'virtues' fits into the meaning of Philippians 4:8. Why is each one important? Which one is your favorite and why? Which virtue do you admire more when you see it in someone else’s life? Take a minute to answer any or all of these questions... or ask and answer your own questions. The most important thing in meditating on Scripture is to think -- to ponder -- on the verse."

I decided to do just that. My first thought was that this verse is a list of the sorts of things God wants me to think about. Each one of the virtues is important, it seems to me, because the Holy Spirit moved Paul to include each one in the list. As I thought further on this list, I thought about how each of the virtues are true of Christ.
* He is truth.
* He cannot lie.
* He is just.
* He is pure.
* He is “altogether lovely.”
* He is worth talking about to others.
* He is possessed of every virtue.
* He is worthy to be praised.

So then, it seems to me that thinking on all of these things and making them a part of our lives will help to make us “more like the Master.”
Also, if we look down to verse 9, we see that as we think on these things, and apply what we learn, the God of peace will be with us. That’s certainly a huge incentive!

Next, I took a list of questions I have, one designed to use when meditating upon Scripture. I have put my answers to the questions in italics.

* What does it say?
1. Summarize: The sorts of things God wants us to meditate on.

2. Paraphrase: "To sum up, my fellow Christians, think seriously about these things: things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, excellent, praiseworthy."

3. Ask questions:

Who wrote it? Paul

Speaking to whom: the believers in the church at Philippi

What are the major ideas? The verse enumerates the sorts of things God wants believers to be thinking on.

When was this written? 60 A.D.

Why was this written? To encourage the Philippian believers, a group of people especially dear to Paul's heart

4. Look for patterns; repeated words or phrases -- The phrase "whatsoever things" is repeated six times and the word things is used seven times. Again, this is a list of things which Paul is instructing these believers to think upon.

5. Look for cross-references. For the word "true" the cross reference given is Ephesians 4:25 -- "Wherefore, putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor." For the word "honest" the cross reference is 2 Corinthians 8:21 -- "Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men." For the word "just", the cross reference is Deuteronomy 16:20 -- "That which is altogether just shalt thou follow...". For the word "pure", the cross reference given is James 3:17, which tells us that the wisdom which is from above is pure. For the word "lovely", the cross reference is 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, those marvelous verses that tell us how Christian love ought to manifest itself in our lives.

* What does it mean?

1. What does the passage teach me about God? That He wants me to think on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, excellent, and praiseworthy.

2. What does this passage teach me about man? That man doesn't naturally think this way, but that this is possible with God's help.

3. Are there promises to claim? If I think on these good things and make them a reality in my life, the God of peace will be with me.

4. Are there any commands to obey? Think on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, excellent, and praiseworthy.

5. Are there examples to follow? Paul's example in thinking on these good things and in living them out. Verse 9 says believers are to do the things which they have learned, and received, and heard, and seen in his own life.

6. Are there any sins to avoid? If we are to think on these good things, then it stands to reason that we should not think on things that are their opposite. That is, we should not think on things that are untrue, dishonest, unjust, impure, ugly, of ill repute, etc.

Next in my Scripture meditation exercises comes this one:
Record your responses to the Word of God
* What should I do? How does this truth apply to my life? I need to obey this command and think on these worthy things.

* In view of this truth, what changes need to be made in my life? I must actively think on what is true about God and His Word-- and not on things that are displeasing to Him, including "what if" and "if only" thoughts.

* What practical steps can I take to apply this truth to my life?
• Pray and ask God to help me think only on things that are pleasing to Him.
• Spend time studying the character of God as revealed in His Word.
• Memorize verses which emphasize important truths about God.
• Turn to God's Word (and to Him in prayer) when tempted to think about things that do not please Him.

* You may want to write out your response in the form of a prayer.
"Lord, I thank You that Your Word is so clear as to how You want Your children to live. Help me to think only on the things that please You, and to place the truths of Your Word above my all-too-human thoughts and feelings. Help me to grow ever closer to You, so that my thinking becomes more and more pleasing to You. Amen."

I hope that these meditations are helpful to someone else today!

Ham & Cheese Stromboli ~ a delightful change of pace!

(Photo by Taste of Home)
A couple of weeks ago I spotted this recipe in an older issue of Country Woman. We love calzone at our house, and this Ham & Cheese Stromboli recipe sounded so good to me. The combination of ingredients -- including ham, cheese, and mustard -- sounded like a nice change from our usual Italian-flavored calzone. Not that the Italian flavors aren't wonderful; just sometimes one likes a change. This was it!

I used what I had on hand: chopped ham rather than sliced; pepperoni rather than summer sausage; shredded cheddar rather than sliced. Also, I spread the dough with the mustard rather than spreading the mustard over the ham, which would work fine with sliced ham, but not with chopped. I used a deli-style spicy brown mustard. I used my own recipe for calzone dough so I could make the dough in the bread machine; so easy! And I made two smaller strombolis out of this rather than one large one. I did not braid the loaf as in the Taste of Home recipe, but simply rolled it up as described in the dough recipe below. This combination of flavors was delicious and I would definitely make it again.

I am including my recipe for calzone dough here for those who would like to try it. I got the recipe from my good friend Marilyn, and it's a great one.


1 cup warm water
1 Tblsp. olive oil
1 Tblsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 cups flour
1-1/2 tsp. dry yeast

Filling ingredients of your choice -- shredded cheese, cooked ground beef or ham, pepperoni, cooked vegetables, etc.
Beaten egg, if desired
Cornmeal for sprinkling baking sheet

Place ingredients in bread machine* in order suggested by manufacturer. Run the dough cycle; turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Roll out and add filling to within 1/2 inch of edges. Roll up, seal, and brush with beaten egg if desired. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Let rise 15 minutes before baking. Bake at 375º for 25-30 minutes.

Makes 1 large calzone -- about 4 to 6 servings. (Or make 2 smaller ones.)

*(If you don’t have a bread machine, use 3 1/4 to 3 3/4 cups flour and 1 Tblsp. or 1 packet yeast. In a bowl, combine 2 1/4 cups flour, yeast, sugar, olive oil, and salt. Stir in water. Mix until a soft dough forms. Add remeaining flour if needed. Turne out onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth, about 4 minutes. Roll out, fill, let rise, and bake as described above.)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tasty Pork Ribs: a fabulous crockpot recipe

(Photo by Taste Of Home)

This past Sunday, Mr. T and I tried a new recipe for ribs made in the crockpot. We nearly always take something in the crockpot for our potluck lunch at church. Usually, when I make crockpot ribs, I simply put the southern style ribs in the crockpot, sprinkle with smoky mesquite or Montreal steak seasoning, cover the pot and cook the ribs on low for 6-7 hours. Then I drain off the liquid which has accumulated and pour barbecue sauce over the ribs and cook for another 30-60 minutes. This works well and is so easy and delicious.

But I had spotted this recipe for Tasty Pork Ribs in an older Taste of Home magazine, and it looked easy too. Mr. T volunteered to put it together. We used the southern style ribs which our supermarket most often has on sale. Because we had a lot of ribs and only a 5-qt. crockpot, we cut each rib into 3 or 4 pieces, thinking that would make them easier to eat at a potluck as well.

Before serving the ribs, I did notice that a lot of liquid had accumulated, so I poured off the majority of it. The sauce stayed on the ribs and looked appetizing. We got rave reviews from everyone who tasted these!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Party at Prairie Flower Farm!

Prairie Flower Farm is having another party! Linda is celebrating her vacation with all of her readers. The giveaway item is a surprise, but Linda guarantees you will like it. All you have to do is stop in at Prairie Flower Farm and leave a comment, before Wednesday at noon, to get in on the party. Your comment should tell Linda what you'd enjoy doing if you could spend a day at Prairie Flower Farm. If you tell others about the party via your blog or some other way, and let Linda know you did so, you get a second entry into the drawing.

Wouldn't you like to spend a day at Prairie Flower Farm? I know I would! Head on over and get in on the party!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Marinated Veggie Salad

(Photo by Taste of Home)
This was originally posted back in March, but I thought it would be a good one to link to for Gooseberry Patch's Recipe Roundup -- which is Cookout Favorites this week. Enjoy!

I tried a new salad recipe this weekend, and thought I would pass it along. We always enjoy marinated salads, and this one was no exception. I had come across the recipe in an older Country Woman magazine, and thought it looked simple and easy. I made this on Saturday night to take to our church potluck on Sunday. Here's the link: Marinated Veggie Salad.

I used homemade Italian dressing, but any Italian dressing you like would work just fine. The only change I made was to omit the chopped red onion. We just don't care for raw onion in recipes, although we use cooked onions all the time. Another time, I might add some dry minced onion or some additional onion powder to the salad dressing before mixing the salad.

This salad went over very well at the potluck. Delicious and very easy!

Want to check out more good cookout recipes? See below:

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

... And late for the carnival, too.

The cookie carnival, that is.

This monthly event takes place over at Tami's Kitchen Table , and it is my intention to take part in the carnival each time it comes around. However, this time -- even though I decided right away which of the two recipes to try, and even bought the necessary ingredients -- I just didn't get around to trying the recipe in time. It was well into March by the time I tried it.

I liked everything about this recipe except the name, so I changed it. And I also (partly inadvertently) changed a couple of things in the recipe too, so I am going to share the recipe with my changes. These will remind you of the classic lemon bars (or squares), but instead of being lemon, they are cranberry! The citrus-cranberry flavor is just excellent.

Cranberry Citrus Bars

2 1/4 cups flour
2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1 Tblsp. finely shredded lime peel
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup butter

4 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 ounces cranberry juice concentrate, thawed
1/4 cup flour
1 Tblsp. lime juice
1 tsp. pure orange extract

Garnish: Additional confectioner's sugar
Additional finely shredded lime peel (optional)

Prepare a 13x9-inch pan by lining it with foil (letting the ends of foil extend over sides of pan) and spraying the foil with cooking spray.

Heat oven to 350º. In a large bowl, mix the 2 1/4 cups flour, the 2/3 cup confectioners sugar, the lime peel, and the salt. Place the butter in a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup; heat at High for 30 to 45 seconds or until very well softened. Stir this into the dry ingredients until crumbs form. Be sure the butter is thoroughly mixed in. Press the mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.

Meanwhile, beat together all of the Filling ingredients in a large bowl until very well blended. Pour the filling evenly over the hot crust. Bake another 20-30 minutes or until filling is set. Cool in pan on wire rack.

When cool, use foil "handles" to remove the entire baked dessert from the pan. Place it on a cutting board and cut into small squares -- these are rich. Sprinkle with additional confectioners' sugar (and lime peel, if desired) before serving.

My review: These are delicious, though sort of an odd color -- think the juice of a red grapefruit, maybe. But the flavor is wonderful and an interesting change from lemon bars. I couldn't tell for sure how well they went over at the potluck I took them to -- all I can say for sure is that about half of them were gone, and that no one asked me for the recipe. (So who knows, maybe they were taken by kids attracted by the pink color, and then thrown away after one bite.) I also noticed that the confectioners' sugar on top sank into the filling rather quickly and I had to add more before taking them to the potluck. I actually intended to add more before dessert time, but forgot to take the additional sugar and sieve with me.

If you are interested in taking part in Cookie Carnivals, here's how it works: you sign up with Tami at the link below. When she has chosen the cookie recipes for the coming month, she emails you with links to the recipes. Participants usually choose one of the recipes (but it's okay to do both), make the cookies, and write up a blog post about it. Then they email the link to that post, along with a picture of their cookies, to Tami, and she posts them all in the Cookie Carnival. It's a lot of fun, so if you'd like to get in on the Cookie Carnival, check it out:
Join the Cookie Carnival!

And hopefully next month I won't be late!


Wow, I am so late posting these pictures of my February ribbon board. I cannot believe how fast February went by. The first week of March went pretty fast, too. However, I did want to share these pictures with you all.

Here is my February ribbon board for this year.

A closeup of the felt heart made by my friend J.

She found her inspiration for this craft here.

About halfway down the board you can also see a lovely "friends" Valentine tag which J. also gave me a year or two ago.

And this is a February tag which I made last year. It's on my hutch this year. Here's the front:

It's my daughter and her grandfather skating together a dozen years ago.

And here's the back:

Love that cute hot cocoa sticker on the little tag.

And here is last year's February board:

Did you notice the many vintage valentines on my ribbon board? It's a small collection but I'm gradually adding to it.

Now, to get out the St. Patrick's day items...