Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Light shining in a dark place

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father, which is in heaven."
(Matthew 5:16)

Last night I woke up for one of those inevitable nighttime treks that those of us in a certain age bracket end up making. After I was back in bed and had the light turned out, I saw a mysterious glowing light in a corner of the room. A tiny light, a very small greenish light, blinking at regular intervals. Suddenly I knew what it must be. Earlier, while vacuuming, I had noticed an insect in that corner of the room, right next to my granddaughter's sewing box. At the time I thought I would come back and put it outside or vacuum it up, but I forgot about it. And now I knew what kind of bug it was: It was a firefly (or lightning bug, if you prefer that designation)! We always called them fireflies when I was growing up, and to me that's just a prettier name.

This morning I put him outside, his little light still glowing. I'm not sure how he'll do. But I was thinking about how he was letting his light shine in the midst of a dark and somewhat fearful situation. His element, surely, is outdoors in the air. I don't know how he got inside, but he had gotten in somehow and couldn't find his way out. He had positioned himself close to the sewing box -- perhaps he felt hidden there -- but his light continued to glow. This little incident made a sort of picture for me. As Christians, sometimes we too are in dark and fearful situations. We are out of our element and have no idea at all how God is going to make a way of escape for us. But we draw close to Him and trust Him, continuing to let our light shine as we wait to see what He will do. He is in the situation with us and He will bring us safely through it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Three-Cheese Enchiladas ~ great southwestern flavor!

(Photo by Taste of Home)
This old favorite recipe is from a 1990 magazine -- Country Woman, I believe: Three Cheese Enchiladas. This is a great meatless recipe with super southwestern flavor. It uses pretty basic ingredients and is very adaptable. One could use any color of sweet peppers (or any combination), for example, or even the frozen diced green peppers. I often use shredded cheddar only (because I always have that on hand), but a Mexican-blend cheese is also very good.

I like to serve this with Spanish rice on the side. The easiest and (for me) most reliable way to do this is by using the Vigo yellow rice mix. Great flavor and so simple to make. It complements any Mexican-style dish.

A salad of some sort is a must, too. I like cooling fruit salads with southwestern flavors. The easiest is just to arrange a mix of canned and/or fresh or frozen fruit on a platter -- sliced pineapple or peaches, or pineapple chunks, sliced or mandarin oranges, any kind of berries -- and drizzle with either a poppy seed or a raspberry vinaigrette dressing.

Another possibility is a coleslaw with complementary flavors. I tried this last night: a bag of coleslaw mix with a dressing made of 1/2 cup ranch dressing, 1/2 tsp. cumin, 2 tsp. lime juice, salt to taste and enough milk to make the consistency better for combining. Also sprinkled in about 1/4 cup shredded cheddar. This was very good!

Hope your family enjoys these recipes if you try them!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A fun meal for the grandkids!

(Photo by Taste of Home)

Recently three of our young grandchildren -- ages 3, 5, and 7 -- were here for supper and the evening while their parents enjoyed a date night. Usually I don't get too fancy with meals for them -- pizza, maybe -- but this time I decided to try something else I thought they would enjoy. In a Simple & Delicious magazine I found the recipe for Bacon Provolone Chicken Sandwiches. I had some bacon I needed to use up, so this was perfect. I left out the onion, feeling that the kids would not care for that -- and I don't enjoy raw onions myself.

The same page in the magazine featured these Banana Split Fruit Salads as a side dish and I thought they would be fun for the kids also.
(Photo by Taste of Home)
(I used unsweetened frozen raspberries, thawed, for the garnish, since I won't pay the price for fresh ones. It worked out fine.) And I left off the nuts, too. I decided to cook some frozen French fries to fill out the meal. The kids loved those too; in fact, my grandson told me I needed to rename them "Grammy's Homemade French Fries" ( a title I'm somewhat uncomfortable with!).

This fueled them up for a fun evening with Grampa. Here's some of what they did:

Julia has fun with a borrowed scooter.

Sam learns to drive the lawn mower. His passengers look as if they are enjoying the ride!
I apologize for the blurriness of this photo. They were in motion, of course, but they sure weren't moving very fast!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Building Our Homes Together

I thought I would take just a minute to share about something wonderful that is happening over at Prairie Flower Farm . Linda has instituted a feature/blog hop called Building Our Homes Together. It happens every Wednesday. Ladies are invited to share relevant posts from their own blogs -- anything that has to do with building our homes: devotions, Bible study, prayer, frugality, recipes, gardening, blessing our husbands and children in various ways, homemaking, cleaning, decluttering, decorating, etc. etc. I know that many of you are posting things like this every day.

Here is the direct link to this Wednesday's posts: Building Our Homes Together. (Be sure not to miss Linda's fun idea of keeping treats on hand just for her hubby!) If you would like to get in on this helpful and encouraging feature, head on over and link up. You have through next Tuesday to do so, and then of course on Wednesday there will be a new one. If you have some older posts on your blog that others would find helpful, you can just link to those as I've been doing. Here is my most recent one, which many of my readers have already seen, but newer readers may not have: Building a Prayer Journal. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Another rhubarb treat!

(Photo by Taste of Home)
I clipped this recipe years ago -- Rhubarb Almond Pastry -- and had not tried it. It's from a 1993 Country Woman magazine!

We liked these pastry squares a lot. They would be good for breakfast or a coffee break as well as for dessert. I especially liked the way the filling turned out and that it didn't have to be precooked. The tapioca thickened it just right. I ran out of rhubarb so filled in with a chopped apple and a few frozen blueberries.

I do need to note that the recipe you will find on the Taste of Home site has a couple of errors in it. The last ingredient listed for the pastry should be milk, not butter. And the recipe I have calls for 1 Tablespoon baking powder, while the one on the site calls for 4 Tblsp. I can't believe that's correct.

Hope you enjoy this recipe if you try it!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Another rhubarb dessert

(Photo from Taste of Home)
Mmm-mm, we love rhubarb treats in the springtime! I tried this recipe a couple of weeks ago and we really enjoyed it: Rhubarb Icebox Dessert. The only thing I did differently was to leave off the vanilla pudding layer. I'm sure it would have added a lovely flavor and texture dimension, but I had no vanilla instant pudding on hand and no time to make up a substitute. So I just skipped it and sprinkled the reserved graham cracker crumbs on top of the marshmallow cream layer instead. It was wonderful! I have now put some vanilla instant pudding in the pantry so I can try this recipe again.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Robin's egg blue

We knew there were birds building a nest in one of the eaves of our garage, but only found out last weekend for sure that they are robins. The mother robin has been sitting on the eggs since then. Mr. T and our granddaughters set up a stepladder while the mother was off the nest temporarily and got the great pictures of the beautiful robins' eggs.

One of my granddaughters got this photo of the mother bird from quite a distance. She (the mother robin) is a bit skittish.

And one more picture of the eggs.

The large white object to the right is a large old-fashioned Christmas tree bulb. (We have these strung under the eaves of our garage.)

Monday, June 06, 2011

Rhubarb Cheesecake Dessert

(Photo from Taste of Home)
Yesterday I tried a new recipe for our potluck lunch at church: Rhubarb Cheesecake Dessert.

For a change, I didn't do anything different to the recipe when preparing it. Usually, I make some changes even when I make a recipe for the first time. But I made this just as written. It went over very, very well. I must have had a half dozen requests for the recipe, and will get those out to the people who asked ASAP (in case any of them happen to be reading this). I will definitely be making this dessert again!

Friday, June 03, 2011

Crab Quiche with Hollandaise

(Photo from Taste of Home)
Last night I tried a new recipe for supper: Crab Quiche with Hollandaise. I have made crabmeat quiches before and we always enjoy the flavors. But this is probably the most flavorful crab quiche recipe I have ever tried and will probably be the one I use from now on. It contains frozen asparagus stir-fry blend, one of our favorite frozen vegetable mixtures. (I usually buy the Great Value brand.)

I did make a couple of changes. I used about half the amount of cheese and I used imitation crab, about 4 ounces, instead of canned crab. Also, I used a packet of hollandaise sauce mix rather than making homemade hollandaise sauce as specified in the recipe.

If you're looking for a good quiche recipe, give this a try. If your family enjoys seafood quiches, I predict you will enjoy this as much as we did!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Lovely lady's slipper flowers

Last weekend Mr. T got some wonderful photos of our pink lady's slipper flowers. I thought it would be of interest to share not only the pictures, but also what my Wildflowers of North America book (by Robert Lemmon and Charles Johnson) has to say about them:

"Pink Lady's Slipper, Pink Moccasin, Stemless Lady's Slipper, Two-Leaved Lady's Slipper, Squirrel Shoes, Noah's Ark, Whip-poor-will shoe -- all these common names and probably more are applied to this woodland plant. It is perhaps the most common, widespread and at the same time the crankiest member of its genus. To illustrate:

"You may find it flowering in May and June from Newfoundland through New England and on to North Carolina. From this general line it extends west to Tennessee, into the Mississippi River region and Manitoba. Bogland, damp woods and dry rocky ones -- all are acceptable homes for it. And yet it is notoriously difficult to transplant successfully into some new spot which seems to be perfectly suited to its needs. It may appear there by itself, probably by means of stray seeds, and become well established. But that is another mystifying story.

"This baffling, unpredictable Orchid rarely grows in close colonies. You may find several plants within a square yard, but as a rule they are more widely scattered. It is almost as though they resented crowding."

Who knew they had so many common names? I was only familiar with the first two. Some of the names surely are whimsical.

I can also vouch for the fact that these plants are unpredictable. When we moved here, we had large groups of lady's slippers in our woods. Over time, the groups seemed to get smaller and move around from place to place in the woods. We tried transplanting a couple of them to the wildflower garden, where they thrived for a few years and then disappeared.

This year, they are in a slightly different place still -- in fact, at the edge of the woods quite close to the road. Some are light pink, some are dark pink.

Some are solitary, some are in small groups, like this one of four.

Mr. T counted some 40 lady's slippers just in this area alone!

Do pink lady's slippers grow in your area?

Wednesday, June 01, 2011


When I was growing up, my parents had some pretty lilac bushes and so when we established our own home, Mr. T and I wanted to plant some, too. We ended up transplanting some from my parents' summer place, where there was a huge hedge of lilacs near an old stone foundation. For years, our lilacs did not bloom; then, a few years ago, one or two blossoms appeared. Each year we see more and more flowers, and the bushes themselves are spreading, too.

I think it is so fascinating how lilacs are so often found beside old cellar holes and crumbling foundations. Even out in the woods, lilac bushes can be found blooming in such surroundings. People planted them by their houses and now, even though the houses and outbuildings have long since disappeared, the lilacs continue to bloom. Writers have written eloquently about this:

"Lilacs are in bloom now ... They bloom in almost every dooryard. In fact they bloom where there is no longer a dooryard. Often only a stone chimney may be left where a house once stood.

"Who lived here? ... Did they build the vanished house for future generations? If so, why was the place abandoned? Lovingly it could have been rebuilt on the same site, for the ancient stone foundation is here. Never mind, the secret belongs to the long ago, and we must not disturb it. It is permissible to gather a few lilacs in memory of those who planted them."
~ Gladys Taber, The Stillmeadow Road

And Still the Lilacs Bloom

'Twas not by chance the lilac fair
Became New Hampshire's flower,
For it was hardy like the folks
Who grew it by their bower.

The farms were passed from sire to son
Who loved this land and nation;
And lilacs were a part of home
To every generation.

Years passed, until the farmhouse old
Fell slowly in decay,
Yet lilacs by the rotting walls
Still bloomed along the way.

The ones who planted yonder bush
Are now within their tombs,
But still beside the cellar hole
The purple lilac blooms.

As though in tender memory
Of those they would recall
Each year the fragrant lilacs bloom
Beside the garden wall.

No fairer tribute to the dead
Can we in love display
In cemeteries through the land
Upon Memorial Day.

Though gnarled and twisted by the storm
As generations toil;
Forever may the lilacs bloom
O'er dear New Hampshire soil.
~ Wilfred Tatham, Musings by a Mountain Trail

I love our lilacs and hope they will continue blooming and thriving for many years to come. They are such sweet old-fashioned flowers!

A few more wildflowers

Here are just a few more wildflowers.

Bunchberry -- these flowers will soon disappear and a cluster of berries will take their place.

Lily of the valley -- I love these for their scriptural significance. These are not technically a wildflower, as they were transplanted by Carrie from one of my mother's flower gardens many years ago. But they have spread, over the years, to all corners of the wildflower garden. Their scent is simply delicious.

Bugle weed -- also called simply bugle. These plants were given to Carrie by a friend, Mrs. C, many years ago. To my knowledge they have only started blooming in the past year or so.

A closer look at the bugle weed. Isn't it pretty?