Sunday, August 31, 2008

Reminding Myself, It is time for Silence

"Not to be able to stop thinking is a dreadful affliction, but we don't realize this because almost everyone is suffering from it, so it is considered normal. This incessant mental noise prevents you from finding that realm of inner stillness that is inseparable from Being."
~Eckhart Tolle~

Amish Pumpkin Rolls

One of my favorite things about fall time is all the pumpkin goodies to make. One of our families favorites is this recipe for Amish Pumpkin Rolls.
I make them slightly different than the recipe. I add the sugar to the milk and butter when I heat it up, and I add the warm milk mixture to the yeast and let it proof a bit then add the pumpkin and the eggs, but I am sure following the recipe would work.
I double the recipe, always do since they go so fast. I used all unbleached flour. Didn't have bread flour.
So here the recipe..... enjoy

Amish Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
Pamela J Jacoby
1/3 cup milk
2 tbsp. butter
1/2 cup canned pumpkin or mashed cooked pumpkin
2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg, beaten
1 package dry yeast ( 1 Tablespoon)
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup bread flour
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tbsp. melted butter
Caramel frosting (recipe follows)In small saucepan, heat milk and 2 tbsp.butter just until warm (120-130degrees) and butter is almost melted, stirring constantly.
In large mixer bowl, combine pumpkin, sugar and salt. Add milk mixture and beat with electric mixer until well mixed. Beat in egg and yeast. In separate mixing bowl, combine flours. Add half of flour mixture to pumpkin mixture. Beat mixture on low speed 5 minutes, scraping sides of bowl frequently. Add remaining flour and mix thoroughly (dough will be very soft).
Turn into lightly greased bowl, then grease surface of dough lightly.
Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch dough down.
Turn onto floured surface.
Knead a few turns to form a smooth dough, sprinkling with enough additional flour to make dough easy to handle.
On lightly floured surface, roll dough into 12x10 inch rectangle.
In small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.
Brush surface of dough with melted butter.
Sprinkle with brown sugar mixture. Beginning with long side of dough, roll up jellyroll style.
Pinch seam to seal. With sharp knife, cut roll into 12 1- inch slices.
Place rolls, cut side up, in greased 9 inch square baking pan.
Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, 30 to 45 minutes.
Bake rolls at 350 degrees about 20 minutes or until golden.
Flip the pan over to remove the rolls and place on waxed paper-lined wire rack. Cool 10 to 15 minutes. You end up frosting the bottom side of the rolls.
Drizzle with Caramel frosting. Makes 12 rolls
CARAMEL FROSTING
1/4 cup (4 tbsp.)butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tbsp. milk
1/4 tsp. vanilla
Dash salt
1/2 to 3/4 cup sifted confectioners' sugar.
In small saucepan, heat butter until melted. Stir in brown sugar and milk.Stir in brown sugar and milk. Cook over medium low heat 1 minute. Transfer to small mixer bowl and cool mixture. Stir in vanilla, salt, and confectioners' sugar. Beat with electric mixer until well blended. If necessary, add more confectioners' sugar for desired consistency.

pictures are from a post with this recipe last year.
rising dough
ready to bake after the last rising
just baked
now frosted and ready to eat

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In The Stillness of the morning, a ramble



It's not quite full light yet, the sun is just coming up over the horizion. Its the time of the morning where it almost looks like a rainy day, there is a grayness before the golden sun arrives for this new day. Already Emery is at work cutting down a tree that is dead. He will come in for breakfast in an hour or so. There are toys scattered all over my living room. It seems strange but good. It has been so many years since toys hid under the couch and on top of tables, or stuck between the cushions.
Mei-Ling is still sleeping. She played hard yesterday. I feel a bit greedy this morning, wishing Steven and Priscilla lived just down the road too, so I could see Elizabeth as much as I see Mei-Ling. I can so easily imagine tea parties with two wee girls sitting about the table with extra chairs for stuffed teddy bears and dolls. Grammie serving tea and tiny cakes all decorated with pink frosting. I hope for many many grandchildren, wondering if I have told my children enough times that a person never regrets having children, but often regrets not having more of them. I have that regret. I wish we had had a dozen children. After Melanie was born, I listened to all the rhetoric from family and had my tubes tied, I knew instantly it was a mistake. A miracle happened and I was able to have a reversal at no cost to us at all. But, there were no more babies born to us, just several miscarriages. I kept praying and having faith up until I was late in my 40's. For a while, while hoping and praying for more babies, I kept count of the times I had heard women complain about being pregnant again. How could they complain !
God heard my prayers though, just not in the way I had planned. We adopted Steven and his brother. What a blessing Steven is to us. His brother was a wounded child, unreachable.
And now, babies in my life, second generation. The fun without the work ! Blessings beyond what I could have ever imagined. My grandmothers uncle had 22 children. All well loved. I have never counted his grandchildren. But I am sure it was many.

The sun is up now so time to head out to the barn. The goats are waiting for their breakfast.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Tiny Piano Player


Miss Mei-Ling had fun discovering the piano today.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Almost An Entire Day of No Blogging


Imagine, me going almost the whole day without blogging ! But, there is a good reason and her name happens to be Mei-Ling. Grammie and Grampie are babysitting for the weekend so Melanie and Casi can attend a convention in Dallas. This little one is now like a monkey and has discovered the joy of climbing, so Grammie is getting a work out keeping up with this wee one. The play pen is coming out tomorrow ! I forgot how much discovery takes place once they get walking and climbing. Its really exciting to watch her explore and figure things out.
We are having a great time, but I will confess that when Mei-Ling took a nap this afternoon, I too took a bit of a snooze on the sofa. I had intended to read but my eyes grew too heavy to stay open. My new GVS catalog arrived today and I never even got a chance to look at it. That is a sure sign of being busy. My little side kick and I did go out together and do some food shopping. She was as good as gold the entire time and I was good, I didn't buy her everything she pointed at ! Funny though, the things you forget about after your family is grown. I had to make trip to the little girls room while we were shopping and I had to plot and plan just how to do this with a baby on my hip : ) It did come back to me...how to accomplish such a task but it sure had been a long time since I had to do that sort of thing.
Several times during the day, she would point to Melanie and Casi's picture on the wall and blow them a kiss, it was so sweet. And starting around 4 in the afternoon she would walk all over the house calling "Gramp-ba" looking for Emery.
I was thinking today, I am so glad that blogging and such were not around when I was raising my children. What a temptation they would have been for me. It would be hard to get things done with this thing begging to be looked at and attended to.
I am tired and bed is calling to me. Tomorrow will be another busy day.
Been watching the weather, wondering where this latest hurricane is going to make landfall. There is talk that we might even get tropical storm conditions way up here.

I am sure she is saying, "I can run now Grammie, can you catch me"
In a flash, she was up on the coffee table, which at first I thought, "wow, that is an accomplishment", but then she stood up and started to walk across it, and then it was,
"oh my, she could walk off it!"

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Joy In A Child's Day








I see her mothers smile in her big grin and her aunties love of order in this wee one. I see her fathers hands in the way she holds hers. I see magic in the way she pretends as she plays and joy in the way she lavishes kisses on her dolls and feel pure joy when she reaches up for me to give me a kiss. Being a grandmother is so much more than I ever imagined. It is watching beauty unfold once again in the life of a child. It is seeing the connection of your own children in the face of the new generation. It is a blessing so far beyond words. All because of love !

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An Ordinary Morning









I stood in the milk barn, watching and listening to Cinnamon munch on her grain. My mind on a million things. Today I need to sew on some shopping bags I am making, dust the furniture, strip the bed in the guest room, do some baking, maybe cut out a new skirt and on and on the mental list of "to do's" plays out in my thoughts, when just out of the corner of my eye, I see on the milk house floor what looks like a few strands of gold Christmas tinsel. First thought, how in the world did that get there ? Then I realize it is a tiny ray of sunshine coming through a loose board and casting the most perfect golden glow on a few strands of hay laying on the floor. What beauty ! I am in awe at such a sight. My mind is quieted by this tiny miracle of spun gold laying on the barn floor. My eyes gaze out into the pasture through the gate and before me, two male cardinals chasing on another, dots of red fluttering from branch to branch. A female cardinal looks on, perhaps she is amused. Sun beams casting a coat of gold on grass and leaves.
I see the wisteria is in bloom again, fooled by all the rain and cooler temperatures that perhaps its springtime. Eggplant in bloom again too. Morning Glories reaching the sky by way of anything that will let them climb. I used to love these purple flowers but now see them as a weed, a misplaced flower that tries hard to strangle anything it can, just to reach up to the sun. They will take over in a matter of days.
Rose bushes birthing new leaves and blooms too. Pecans growing big in the trees, reminding me of the delight in eating a piece of warm pecan pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream melting on top. It is the beginning of a new season. Berries, their variety unknown to me as yet, ripening in the sun. Tiny purple orbs, dotted with some tiny infestation. A new kitten has appeared from somewhere, enjoying the cat food I put out for our kittens. A shy untamed little visitor, but hunger over-rides her fear and she lets me pet her for a second as she eats with a ravenous appetite. It is an ordinary morning, filled with a holy splendor.
After being outside, even the way the sun shines through the guest room window, seems profoundly beautiful to me.


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A Little Humor to Start The Day

A bit funny, but also a bit of truth perhaps. Gas is about $3.39 here a gallon, so its gone down quite a bit. For so long Amish have been made fun of for their old fashioned ways, but seems like right now, they are the ones that seem the most insulated from the present state of the economy !

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

For The Beauty of The Earth

Sometimes, what I feel in my heart best expressed in a hymn or a text or a poem. This afternoon as the sun shone through the thickening clouds, casting a large ray down onto the earth, this old, well loved hymn came to mind.
For The Beauty of The Earth
by Folliott S. Pierpoint, 1864
For the beauty of the earth,
For the glory of the skies;
For the love which from our birth,
Over and around us lies;
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise.
For the wonder of each hour,
Of the day and of the night;
Hill and vale and tree and flow'r,
Sun and moon, and stars of light;
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise.
For the joy of ear and eye,
For the heart and mind's delight;
For the mystic harmony,
Linking sense to sound and sight;
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise.
For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child;
Friends on Earth and friends above,
For all gentle thoughts and mild;
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise.
For Thy church that evermore,
Lifteth holy hands above;
Off'ring up on ev'ry shore,
Her pure sacrifice of love;
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise.
For the martyrsÕ crown of light,
For Thy prophetsÕ eagle eye,
For Thy bold confessorsÕ might,
For the lips of infancy.
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise.
For Thy virginsÕ robes of snow,
For Thy maiden mother mild,
For Thyself, with hearts aglow,
Jesu, Victim undefiled.
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise.
For Thyself, best Gift Divine,
To the world so freely given,
For that great, great love of Thine,
Peace on earth and joy in heaven.
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise.
Amen.

An Example

A while back National Geographic had an article on Bhutan.... Bhutan's Enlightened Experiment
You can read the full text at that link. After reading it, I had some serious questions about how we as a modern world compare morally and ethically, to say 150 years ago. By looking at the transition Bhutan is going through, we might get an idea. Yes, we have gained so much in regards to medical advancement, and technology, but wow, are we are stressed out people now. The changes in society have many people counting the cost of the decay in morals that have come with it.
The tiny isolated country, once shut off from much of the rest of the world is gradually changing to a more modern country, but with a cost. I am going to quote a bit from the article...
"Bhutan’s traditionalists, however, see a darker force at play: the invasion by a materialistic global monoculture that is eroding their values. The government has banned channels deemed harmful, including MTV, Fashion TV, and a sports channel that featured violent wrestling spectacles. Sonam Tshewang, a junior-high teacher in Thimphu, believes something vital has already been lost. “Some kids have become so Westernized that they’ve forgotten their own cultural identity,” he says. One girl in his class even changed her name to Britney.
The identity crisis runs deeper than a name change. A cocktail of social pressures is fueling new problems. Youth unemployment is running at about 30 percent in Thimphu, as rural high-school graduates flock to town dreaming of civil-service jobs that fail to materialize. Gangs with names like Virus and Bacteria have formed. Violent crime is still rare, but theft—once absent in a country with few locked doors—is becoming more common, as people covet their neighbors’ mobile phones and CD players.
Drug addiction is also on the rise. Near the entrance to Destiny Club, one of Thimphu’s handful of new discos, three young revelers discuss the virtues of “pig’s food,” a potent variety of marijuana, abundant in the Bhutanese countryside, that is used traditionally as an appetite enhancer for livestock. “Do kids in America also get addicted?” asks the trio’s leader, a 23-year-old with reddened eyes. Thimphu’s drug scene might seem tame by international standards, but this can hardly be the kind of happiness the king envisioned. Ugyen Dorji, a former addict who founded Bhutan’s first drug-rehabilitation center three years ago with the help of the Youth Development Fund, says it reflects “the anxieties of a society in transition.”


What is it that we the western world has given to these people ? Greed, drugs and a bunch of new problems, that we deal with daily. Sure they have better schools and medical care, the life expectancy has gone up, but why is it that it had to come with such a price ?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Enough photos Grammie !

Mei-Ling evidently had enough of Grammie and her camera...her solution, just put the lens cap on !

A Little Princess



Mei-Ling had fun playing and dancing in her little princess dress today. A Goodwill thrift store find. Grammie and Grandpa were more than happy to baby sit so Melanie and Casi could have a date night to celebrate their anniversary.

Happy Anniversary Melanie & Casimir


Happy Anniversary to Melanie and Casi.....you two have dealt with more in your first two years of marriage than most do in a life time.... ( between Melanie and Mei-Ling there have been nearly 20 hospital stays in the past 24 months !)
Your love, strong and so full of a deep joy.
Wishing you many many more love filled years.
Cutting the cake two years ago today
wedding rings....(their wedding rings have their last name written in Thai on them)

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Monday, August 25, 2008

My Biggest Problem in Life

Most of my readers know that I tend to think a lot. I want to figure out all that I can in life and at times its much like driving circles in a round about. The plain and simple truth to most of my wonderings has to do with spiritual things. I want to get it right, only "right" has a few shades of gray in it, if you measure it against modern thought, oh old thought too, but right now with the way information is spread so quickly, its all around us.
Here is my truth....If I decide to take the Bible literally, which I believe you should, then I really will live a very old fashioned, peculiar life compared to 99% of the population around me. That is hard, no one wants to be peculiar. If I decide to live with the mindset that "oh the Bible is not all that literal and much of it was written for that time period and blah blah blah", then I can pick and choose and be exactly what is comfortable for me. I don't have to do anything I don't really want to, because I can excuse what I don't like away by saying, "that was then and this is now".
Sort of develop a comfy religious experience. I can look at this religion and that religion and pick what I like from them and say to myself, "well, God is in everything". Pretty soon I am not sure if I am coming or going. Pretty soon, it all seems made of shades of gray.
Now please, this is my thinking, my personal experience so don't think I am trying to push my thinking off on you. Not my intention.
Taking the Bible literally for me, means things like, Ephesians 5:11 "Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible".
To me, that sort of rules out lots of television, most of it really and many books. And accepting sin as just another approach to life. Reading the police report would even be out !
Then there is always this one and I hate this one, my own self just hates these verses, rebellion I suppose. Taken as literal, meant for everyone, and thinking about how it was practiced continually until after the pilgrims, it just doesn't fit in with our modern thinking, especially the part about women being under a man. Women carried on this practice in church until the 1950's. It just makes you so different ! Of course I am talking about 1 Cor 11 and the headcovering bit. I have yet to see all men with shaved heads, if covering refers only to the hair.
Frankly, I just would rather excuse these verses as out of date, not for us, etc. So much easier. I did it for years and remember all the looks and questions and comments about "oh how quaint".
But I also remember it was a reminder to me, to think more about my actions and even think about what I was thinking. It kinda kept me in line.
Then I thought about something. Here I have been admiring the brain activity of Buddhist monks, thinking about the better immune systems of devotees of Tai Chi and wow, guess what, those monks with the good brain activity, well think about the lives of these lama's that were tested. Not exactly mainstream. Living in caves or monasteries, no job, no money, no bills, no family, not a care in the world except getting the next meal from generous people, which is not all that hard since everyone wants to do good for a monk. These fella's get to pray all day long and meditate. I suspect if my life was a total life of prayer and meditation on God's wonders, my brain activity would be a bit different than it is today. These fella's dress pretty different too, against the tide of the modern world. The tai chi thing, well if we take time to work hard, physically I mean and live a life of prayer and compassion, I suspect our immune systems would be a lot better. So there is a way, most of us just don't choose it. If I really walked with God, followed the teachings of Jesus, prayed, lived as He taught, not worried about things, not worried about tomorrow, meditated on God's goodness, had real peace in my heart. Felt more love for others, had compassion for the unlovable, etc, then I suspect I would be filled with an unspeakable joy and calmness. The reason there is the saying, "Christians are the only people that shoot their wounded" is simply because we don't live with the mind of Christ ! We simply do not surrender everything ! I sure don't. I don't want to give up the things I enjoy or the things that make me blend in with society. I want to know what people are talking about, and not be naive. I like to be well rounded and yet God really wants us to be single minded after Him. I don't want to look different and stand out. I want to be thought of as thinker. I want to know about the latest theories and philosophies. I want to fit in to some extent. Here it is for me, laid out in a couple words..... I WANT !!! The main part of that.... " I"

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday in Pictures








Evening chores always gives us some sort of daily renewal for why we live as we do. The way the sun shines on the bark of the old cottonwood, the way the shadows stretch out so long, the way the chickens rush about their bug hunting, and the way the soil looks as we prepare it for fall planting. The way the birds sing all around us and the way the air smells and the breeze blows ever so gently. Sundays, when we spend the entire day together, it feels like an extra blessing to have such a simple life.
The rush of modern life is just not a part of our day. Lamps are now lit, the quiet is beautiful. Its time for books and hand holding, glancing at each other with 30 years of love. It's nice.

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Breakfast Casserole

Here is a favorite breakfast casserole that I make for special occasions. Today I decided that I need to make it just to celebrate how good life is ! And to use up some of our many eggs : )
Breakfast Casserole
serves 8-10
This savory casserole is a winner when you are having guests for breakfast or celebrating a birthday.
1 bunch green onions
1 large green pepper
4 Tablespoons butter
1 lb breakfast sausage (non-meat sausage works fine)
1 pint whole tomatoes (optional)
12-18 eggs
1/2 cup cream
salt and pepper to taste

wash and mince green onions and green pepper.
melt butter in a large flameproof casserole dish or heavy-bottom frying pan.
Fry peppers and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
Add sausage and break up with a spoon. Halfway through, add the onions, stir and
continue cooking until meat is browned and onions are soft.
Add tomatoes and break up with the back of a spoon. Lower heat and cook uncovered
for 15 minutes to evaporate some of the liquid. Stir frequently.
Preheat oven to 400 F
In a large bowl, beat eggs, cream, salt and pepper.
Pour eggs into the meat and pepper mixture, stir and bake until set and top is golden brown,
about 30-40 minutes. Serve immediately.

This recipe comes from "Homestead Cooking, A Sampler of Recipes from Homestead Heritage
Eating What You Grow "

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I Wish....



This morning I woke wishing it was fall time already. Yes, I know that I had that post not long ago about rushing the seasons, but here I am eating my own words. I am weary of summer heat, weary of having the house shut up tight, wearing of thinking of quick suppers that don't heat up the kitchen. Weary of sweating while doing chores and then on there is the longing for...sweaters, wool socks pulled up to the knee under heavy flannel skirts. For cozy fires in the stove each morning with the kettle on top singing away. For the smell of clean crisp air, dancing with leaves. For the colors that decorate my living room, so bright and bold, yet soothing.
For tucked away crafts, too hot to work on in summer, that once again make an appearance in the cool afternoons. For the excitement of the first cold morning when the floor shocks you for the chillness of if and the rush it creates in getting the fire going. For thoughts of wool hats and new socks to be knit, not just for pleasure, but for warmth and comfort. For new apples, crisp and juicy. For the color of pumpkins and the taste too, of pumpkin pie. I am anxious for the kind of day that begs you to stay outside....just a little bit longer. To watch birds fly over in migration and to see critters getting thick coats. Oh yes, I wish it were autumn already !
pictures from Homestead Heritage Craft Fair the weekend of Thanksgiving

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Mei-Ling visits Grammie and Grandpa





Melanie and Casi had to run an errand so we had the privilege of watching Mei-Ling for a couple hours. What a joy she is to have visit. She played with her puzzles for over an hour, then played with her doll and finally climbed up into her favorite chair to "read". She jibber jabbers as she turns each page, just as if she was reading each one.
Lots of big kisses and lots of hugs made the evening so special.