Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Merry Christmas, y'all!
We're enjoying a visit from my folks right now and I'll be offline for the next week and a half or so.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

You know your parents live in a small town when...
your six-year-old mails a picture to them, misspelling their name, and only putting the town and state - no address or ZIP code - and it gets there anyway.
Thankful Thursday
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. (Psalm 19:1-3)

I thank God for silky long underwear and long flannel nightgowns.

I thank God for the gas stove in the bathroom.

I thank God for the cold weather and for the snow we had yesterday!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

I finally decorated for Advent! I don't know why I never got around to it until just now, when it will only be up for such a short time. :-(

Christmassy stuff

My eldest and I went shopping yesterday, and we noticed that already certain Christmas items are being replace by Valentine's Day items in the stores. Now this makes sense from the marketing standpoint - the sooner you get things out on the shelves the more stuff people will buy. You know how it is. If you buy your Halloween candy right after Labor Day, you're sure to eat it all up long before Halloween and then you have to buy more, so the store ends up selling you twice as much as if they waited until the week of Halloween to set out those giant bins of treats. And so, on the day after Christmas, all the ornaments and decorations will be drastically reduced and within another day or two the aisles will be filled with candy hearts.

What always surprises me, though, is the number of houses that don't have their lights turned on after Christmas Eve, and all the poor discarded Christmas trees on the curb awaiting trash pick up just a day or two later. When I was growing up, practically everybody put up their trees and lights a week or two before Christmas, and took them down after New Year's.

Sunday evening, we decorated our church for Christmas - poinsettas in the sanctuary, luminarias leading up to the front doors, wreaths on the doors, a tree in the parish hall which all the children decorated, and lights in all the shrubbery and trees in the courtyard - and then yesterday, Mike bought our tree, which is sitting in a bucket of water on the carport waiting to be brought in on Friday. Today, the kids started making red and green paper chains and white paper angels to decorate the house with, and tomorrow or the next day, I'll put our evergreen wreath on the front door and hang greenery around the front room, bring out the Nativity scene and all the candles, and Mike will hang the lights on the house.

Our church has two Christmas Eve services, one at 5:30 to which we'll take the kids, and one at 11:00. We're thinking about going to the 11:00 service - just Mike and me. I suppose it will depend on how tired we are, because we will all be going to the Christmas morning service at 10:00. This is really exciting to me. I only remember being in church on Christmas morning one other time in my life - back in 1994 when Christmas happened to fall on Sunday.

Yesterday when Mike went out to buy the tree, Mosey, who stayed home with me, kept running around the house shouting, "We're getting a Christmas tree!" She does this every year. She always sounds like she thinks that since we do not yet have a tree, we will therefore not have one at all.

I asked Elai and Mosey what they thought of the way we celebrated Advent and Christmas last year, and so far this year. "It doesn't feel like Christmas yet." "It feels like we're just waiting for Christmas to come and it'll never get here!" I told them that I think that's how Advent is supposed to feel.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Thankful Thursday
Praise ye the LORD. Praise the LORD, O my soul. While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being... The LORD shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the LORD. (from Psalm 146)

1. I'm extremely thankful for getting to worship two times at Steve Wilkins' church last Sunday, and for the after-worship supper/hymn sing. In the evening service, Pastor Wilkins preached on the importance of the Church calendar, stressing that how we mark time will shape us - and we will mark the passage of time one way or another. If we don't live by the Church's year, then we'll live by the State's.

2. Last Thursday, I meant to post in this spot that I was thankful for opportunities to grow in patience, opportunities to grow in kindness, and opportunities to grow in gentleness. You see, I was having a difficult time getting all the sewing done, even with all the help from my daughter and our guest. I didn't finish everything for the ball that I had meant to, but in spite of that, everyone had something nice to wear. I did get the ball gown for my eldest finished, though we didn't have time to sew in the twenty-odd hooks and eyes that were supposed to close the thing up, so I just sewed her up in it. It worked fine and we have pictures. Maybe I'll post some later, after the shell-shock wears off. The ball was great fun and I'm thankful for everything surrounding it - the people we met, the excitement of the whole event including all the last-minute sewing, the music... Oh, did I mention that I danced with Steve Wilkins?

3. Tomorrow we have to take Miss Kelly M. back home. No, I'm not thankful for that, but I am thankful for the time she's been able to visit with us, I'm thankful for her friendship and her example of ladylike behavior to my daughters (and to myself - who am I kidding?), and that while we're in Oklahoma, we'll get to attend the graduation of our other "Kelly-friend," Miss Kelly G, who is graduating from Oklahoma University this Saturday.

And a bonus thankful thing - in light of all the recent activity, I'm thankful that we will still have a whole week of Advent left after we get home from Oklahoma, and that we'll have twelve days of Christmas after that!

Monday, December 6, 2004

Fermenting grains
(for food, not drink - we're not that Reformed!)

Alexandra asked about "sponging bread" in the post below. Making a bread sponge before baking is the really old fashioned way to do it. It's the way Ma made bread in the Little House on the Prairie books, and I always just assumed it was something you did if you didn't have any yeast, but it turns out that it actually increases the bread's nutrition. Let me explain. To make a bread sponge, you put flour and milk or buttermilk into a bowl , and let it soak overnight, or at least 12 hours. The next day, you mix into the sponge the rest of the ingredients (yeast, salt, honey, butter, etc.) and begin kneading in the rest of the flour, then let it rise another two hours or so before shaping and baking.

Whole grains have phytic acid in the bran layer, the part that gets stripped off in order to make white flour or white rice, which combines with various minerals and makes them difficult to absorb. They also have enzyme inhibitors which are built-in preservatives, keeping the grain from decomposing as long as it is kept dry. Soaking grains for seven hours or longer in water along with milk, yogurt, or yeast, neutralizes both the phytic acid and the enzyme inhibitors, which means that the good healthy whole grains you eat don't cause you to be deficient in minerals, plus it allows the grain to begin producing beneficial enzymes which "increases the amounts of vitamins in the grain, especially B vitamins (Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon, p. 453)."

I usually have to eat lots of protein for breakfast since carbs tend to make me need a nap, but Kelly has been making porridge for breakfast almost every morning and I'm finding that a bowl of porridge is very filling and I don't have blood sugar trouble with it. Porridge is just oatmeal that's been soaked overnight in warm water plus a little milk or yogurt, then soaked overnight. In the morning, you just add some more water or milk, and cook it for a few minutes. We've been sweetening it with sorghum, which is delicious and much better for you than brown sugar.

Update on the Christmas Ball preparations:
I have officially reached the panic stage.

Thursday, December 2, 2004

Multi-purpose blog post
First of all, thanks for the birthday wishes! I had a wonderful day - it's always my favorite when my birthday falls on Thanksgiving. There were 20 family members at my mom's for lots of yummy food, and we celebrated two birthdays besides mine. On Friday afternoon, my sister took me to her beauty shop for some psycho-therapy - that is, a shampoo, moisturizing treatment for my hair, scalp massage, and a manicure - and that evening we watched the local high school football team win their play-off, which will send them to the state championship game tomorrow night. On our way home on Saturday, we picked up a friend who will be visiting with us for the next three weeks, and that's been a real pleasure. Miss Kelly M. is so cheerful and helpful and she knows tons about good nutrition and has been teaching me some cooking techniques that make food better for you, like sponging bread before baking it and soaking oats overnight before cooking them for breakfast. We are still sewing for the ball and I'm getting pretty close to the panic stage, so if you happen to remember us before the Lord it would not be unappreciated. Special thanks go to Alexandra for her Thanksgiving comments below, which brings me to today.

Thankful Thursday
1. For a safe trip to Arkansas and back
2. For Kelly M. who has been such a pleasure to have around
3. For my 13 year old son who takes the four youngest children outside every morning for fun and excercise