Monday, May 31

Baby bed

This morning, I was cleaning up from breakfast, and Alex kept coming in and saying, "Say Holly's prayers!"

I didn't think much of it, because Holly was there with me in the kitchen. But after Alex coming in and saying this five more times, I finally went into the bedroom to see what he was talking about.

He made the toy doll a bed, named it Holly, and had said her prayers.

Holly went and was patting the baby's face. They're both such doting parents. I thought it was so sweet that Alex had said the baby's prayers. :)

Saturday, May 29

Spiritual Gifts

This is a plum tree at my Mom's house. These plums are still green, yet they're already an astonishing blue color. Last year they amazed me when they were ripe, because they were the most gorgeous blue-purple, the kind that the camera can't even capture properly because it's almost ultraviolet.

Last week at a friend's house, we got into a discussion about Tongues. You know, Speaking in Tongues and all that stuff. It's sad that various Christian denominations abuse the whole Tongues thing and ignore the other spiritual gifts.

We listened to a tape series years and years ago about spiritual gifts, and how they're not what you always think. It's stuck in my mind because it impacted me so much back then.

Ex 31: 1-11 Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts— to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship.

Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given skill to all the craftsmen to make everything I have commanded you: the Tent of Meeting, the ark of the Testimony with the atonement cover on it, and all the other furnishings of the tent— the table and its articles, the pure gold lampstand and all its accessories, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, the basin with its stand— and also the woven garments, both the sacred garments for Aaron the priest and the garments for his sons when they serve as priests, and the anointing oil and fragrant incense for the Holy Place. They are to make them just as I commanded you.”

Note that first paragraph. Working in gold, silver and bronze, and woodworking, were all spiritual gifts straight from the Holy Spirit. And they're just as important as Tongues, Prophecy, Teaching and all the rest.

So, when somebody has a gift for, say, sewing, and other has a gift in architecture, and another is skilled in mathematics, aren't those all spiritual gifts, too?

Yet I never seem to hear teaching that talks about that.

In the Exodus passage, God had specially equipped and trained those men so they could make the Ark of the Covenant, the Tent of Meeting, and all the instruments and clothes that the priests needed. God seems to train us in the exact skills that we're going to need later on down the road. And the awesomest thing of all is when we use them to bring the glory back to Him.

Wouldn't it be cool if there were revival meetings where, instead of speaking in tongues, people were giving displays of the things they were talented in and praising God for it?

Friday, May 28


I was making pancakes today for breakfast. I had fed Alex and Ryan, and gotten Holly out of her high chair. Then I turned around and saw this.

She had gotten up at the table, grabbed her brother's fork, and was eating his remaining pancake slices.

"Hi Mom," she says, all proud of herself. I managed to get her looking fussy, but it's only because she's in the middle of chewing.

Holly: I've seen them stick food on these things somehow ... maybe if I stick the fork into the pancake with main force ...

She did eat most of Alex's leftover pancake, but eventually resorted to her hands. Using the fork was so cute, though!

Tuesday, May 25

A gray hairstreak

While at Grandma's a while back, I happened to spot a small, fast-moving butterfly on her flowers. After much fruitless snapping of the shutter, I managed to score this picture. Those butterflies move FAST.

I looked it up, and it's called a Gray Hairstreak. Isn't it just the cutest? When I took the picture, it was rubbing its wings together in opposite directions, so it looked like it was rocking. One wing goes up, the other goes down, etc.

And here's Alex, all serious business, riding his car.

Sunday, May 23

Plants and books

My little hollyhocks are almost two inches tall now!

Now, if I could just keep small children from picking them. Alex likes to pick my peppermint and smell the leaves, but he can't tell the difference between the mint and the hollyhocks.

In other news, a friend loaned me her copy of the latest Diana Wynne Jones book. It's called Enchanted Glass.

Enchanted Glass

It's a really neat story about a college guy who inherits his grandfather's mansion and estate, as well as a whole bunch of magical responsibility. But he doesn't remember anything his grandfather taught him.

At the same time, a kid shows up at his door, being chased by strange creatures that are eerily like the Angels from Dr. Who. The kid and the guy both wear glasses, and when they wear them, the world is normal. But when they take off their glasses, they find that they can see the world as it really is, like people who have disguised themselves by magic, and creatures that are really magical.

The characters are much more likeable than in the last book she released, House of Many Ways. I just loved following the man and the kid around, and the minor characters are oddball and quirky. Enchanted Glass is Diana Wynne Jones at her best.

Saturday, May 22

Adventures outside

The munchkins got up from their naps yesterday and I went outside with them. It was breezy and warm, and they can bounce off the walls much better there.

Alex located a snail.

It was stuck to one of my pots, of course. I put it down and let it poke its head out.

The munchkins tired of it and went and ran around. Holly is walking very well now.

She had picked a dandelion and happily played with it for a long time before picking it to pieces.

Then we went back to check on the snail and it was gone. I showed Alex how to track a snail by its silver trail, and we located it two feet away, sliming into a crevice under the sidewalk.

Such a lovely day to play outside in the sun. :-)

Thursday, May 20

Strawberry bounty

Four years ago, my brother and sister and law got married a month before my husband and I got married. My Dad planted a ton of strawberries that year, so us young couples would have homegrown strawberries to pick and eat.

Well, one variety of strawberry plant produced from the first year on. The plants produced little tiny strawberries that tasted good, but were kind of a pain to pick. There were another variety of plants that grew great big leaves, but produced no strawberries at all.

But now, in their fourth year, those giant plants have started bearing fruit. And boy howdy, they're producing it like crazy!

A whole cookie sheet loaded up with strawberries, all ready to be frozen and made into smoothies.

And that's aside from the four cups of strawberries I cut up and doused with sugar to eat with shortcake.

Mmmmmm ... totally yummerful.

Tuesday, May 18

Kids love Farmville

The munchkins just love Farmville, that one game on Facebook.

Here's Alex, planting crops, or plowing up all of my carefully laid-out paths.

Even Holly gets in on the action.

Here she is, dancing to the Farmville music.

Monday, May 17

Rainy day

Tis raining today, because our weird weather can't make up its mind. Yesterday it was almost 90.

It's not raining very hard, as you can see, just a light sprinkle to cool things off.

Here's a shot of Alex and his twin cousins eating their first-ever corndogs.

They were a big hit.

Sunday, May 16

More gardening

I went out to water my plants the other morning, and this is what I found.


The snail trail goes into the pot, slimed the one sprout, and then leaves the same way. The snail didn't even eat the sprout! It just mauled it to pieces!

I suppose I should be thankful that it was only the one sprout. But still. Wanton destruction!

Also, I have an alien seedling.

What is this?

I'm going to let it grow and see what it turns into. Maybe it's a bean.

Saturday, May 15

Holly's first birthday

Yesterday was Holly's first birthday.

I made her cupcakes, since they're nice and portable, and just the right size for a baby.

She's such a big girl! She has no idea that she's a baby. She thinks she's the same age as Alex and should do all the same things he does.

Like play outside.

Alex loves picking flowers, but red flowers and a red shirt does not for good contrast make.

Remember Alex's first birthday?

yum yum

Yeah, that's why we did cupcakes this time. :-)

Wednesday, May 12

An excess of cute

Cute follows.

That is your cute for the day. Have a great one!

Tuesday, May 11

The story of bread

I'm making bread today, so I figured I'd show you how it's done.

I'm using a Bosch mixer, which looks like this. (Only not this clean anymore.)
Bosch Universal Kitchen Machine

But you can also make this with a Sunbeam mixer, which looks like this.
Sunbeam 2591 350-Watt MixMaster with Stainless Steel Bowl, Black

I'm using the Betty Crocker Rich Egg Bread recipe, which is thus:

3 to 3 1/4 cups all-purpose or bread flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 package regular or quick active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 cup very warm water (120° to 130°)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large egg

Except I'm making a double batch. Prepare yourself. Also I'm changing the directions up a bit, because it makes bread faster. And when it comes to bread, which already takes all day, any shortcuts are good.

Take your warm water and mix together your sugar and your yeast. Let it sit and come to life like the monster it is.

Toss all the other ingredients into the mixer, but don't mix them up until your yeast has sat for at least five minutes.

Check the yeast. Yikes!

Pot pot, stop stop! I dump it hurriedly into my mixer before it can escape the cup, and turn it on. It makes a nice floury soup.

Now dump in the rest of the flour fairly slowly. Or if you're impatient and know your recipe, dump the whole shebang in there and watch your mixer go crazy.

Now we're getting somewhere.

Still kind of gooey, though. See how it's all stuck to the sides? Keep adding flour!

Better. See how it's starting to form a ball, and it's taken the dough off the sides of the bowl? But it's still sticking to the dough hooks pretty well, plus it's wrapped around the center spindle. I like it to rip all the dough off the spindle and make a nice ball. More flour! About half a cup should do it.

There we go. I've taken the dough hook out. This is after it's been kneading for a while, and I've stood there and held down the mixer to keep it from walking off the counter, or destroying the crock pot beside it. See how the dough is now a nice ball? At this point you're supposed to take the dough out, put it in a greased bowl, turn it to grease all sides, cover and let rise for an hour. But I'm lazy, so I just leave it in the mixing bowl and put the lid on.

After an hour ...

It's escaping! Quick, poke it!

If you poke the dough, and the hole doesn't close up again after a few seconds, then it's done rising. Gather it up into a ball and slap it onto some greased wax paper.

Like so. Put another sheet of greased wax paper on top of that, mash it down flat, and roll it out with a rolling pin.

Then roll it up like you're making cinnamon rolls.

Pinch the seam to seal it, then fold up the ends and pinch those to seal them. My seal job wasn't very good. It makes big holes in the bread later.

Toss it into the glass baking pan of your choice (greased, of course), and cover it up to let it rise again.

This is why baking bread takes so long, because you have to let it rise twice. Be glad it's not French bread, because you have to punch it down and let it rise even more often.

Anyway, after an hour or so ...'s starting to lift the wax paper off the dish. Time to crank up the oven to 350 and bake it for 20-30 minutes, depending on your oven and how dark you like your bread.

Tada! A gorgeous fat golden-brown loaf! I like them in the 9x9 pan because I get long, skinny pieces of bread, perfect for sandwiches.


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