Saturday, July 31, 2010

Beautiful Chicken Feet

"How beautiful... are the feet of those who bring good news!" Isaiah 52: 7

Here are pictures of the children in Africa with their Bibles!

If you want to read more about who these children are, you read the Hope Children's Center blog that Cornerstone has. The latest is about the summer team that went over and among other things, delivered these Bibles.
If you are new to my blog or to blog reading in general and want to read all my African/Chicken Bible posts, then click on the right side where it says "Here, chickie, chickie" and everything I've written about it will be pulled up onto the page.

Friday, July 30, 2010

36 Random Things

1. God called me to his family at a young age. I am so thankful He did. 

2. I really love my husband, Bill. We have similar personalities and that makes me happy. 

3. I taught him how to kiss. He's a good student! 

4. I think my 3 kids are cute, talented, smart, funny, brilliant. I know they are just normal, but to me they are amazing. I couldn't be more blessed. 

5. I like using freshly sharpened wood pencils. 

6. I can play the piano, trumpet, flute, french horn, violin and cello. I would really like to play the guitar. 

7. My favorite color is probably orange but I love most every color except purple. And I think brown is the perfect neutral. 

8. I just discovered chocolate covered espresso beans about a year ago and my life has never been the same. 

9. I love kids books. Even when my kids have "outgrown" them, I will still buy them and read them.

10. Hymns of old bring a lump to my throat. I often cannot sing them fully because I'm overcome with the significance of the words. 

11. I'm a little compulsive, obsessive. 

12. I'm a good party planner. I am not a good party game player. I usually mess up the game so that it is pointless to continue it. 

13. I  had a subscription to Martha Stewart Living magazine for over 10 years and loved it. Thanks, Mom. 

14. I love the blankets my grandma has made for me over the years. We call them great-grandma blankets and they make us feel loved and are the coziest. 

15. I love little hands. I love watching my children's hands grow and get bigger. Think of all the possibilities that those hands have. 

16. I place my full trust in the verse "Our God is in the heavens and He does as He pleases." He has been faithful to me through the many trials of my life: losing my dad at an early age, infertility for 3 years between Audrey and Ben, miscarriage between Ben and Luke, losing a best friend. He does things and allows things for His glory and I find comfort in that. There is no other answer. 

17. The truth is essential to me. 

18. The triangle is my favorite shape. I don't collect triangles nor decorate with them. I just like them. 

19. Bill and I have remodeled 1 house and built 2 new houses. If I could, I would build a house in every architectural style. 

20. I cry at Cornerstone productions. The sheer wonderfulness and talent of it all just leaves me speechless. 

21. Okay, I cry at most everything. 

22. I don't think big picture naturally. I am glad for those that do and that influence my life.

23. 23 is my favorite number.

24. I ran the Des Moines Dam to Dam 2 years ago and passed out afterwards from dehydration. They had to poke my arm over 7 times to get an IV started. 

25. Prayer and God's Word- I need them more.

26. I would like to narrate children's books someday. If I can't, I'll just read them to my kids and grandkids.

27. I was a cheerleader in high school. 

28. I love to organize. I have Tupperware storage in all rooms of my house. 

29. I am now glad of the way God made me. It’s very freeing.

30. I wish there were fonts for when you want to whisper, or talk southern, or sing opera-style. 

31. I love a good broom.  I have been known to buy them for family and friends; I feel that strongly about them.

32. I just had crème brulee for the first time and my life will never be the same.

33. For the most part, I am item specific and brand loyal. And when I like something, people hear about it.

34. I am a very vivid dreamer. I can read words in books in my dreams and once screamed so loud I scared Bill. 

35.  My primary love language is gifts.

36. I like lists. 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Early Music

So I'm guessing that most of you are fans of music of some sort. And you "like" classical style music, but just don't know where to start. How about at the beginning?
I found this album on Amazon and since it was free decided to download it. It is called The Very Best of Naxos Early Music. It is comprised of several selections of early (think pre 1600's) music, vocal and instrumental. If you are somewhat intrigued by the music in Robin Hood type movies, etc. you will want this album (though it's not that much the same). Also, if you are studying early history, this is great music to accompany the stories of King Arthur.
I found it enjoyable to listen to in my mp3 all the way through with the exception of one piece, but that could have been because the kids were clamoring about and I just couldn't handle it all.
Naxos is a recording label and has very good music at very affordable prices. if you don't know where to start, you can start with Naxos.

If you want to know more about what instruments can possibly make those kinds of sounds, then go check out Musica Antiqua's website. They are a group from Iowa State. The older bearded man, Carl Bleyle, was one of my music history professors.

But do get the album. It's free. If you don't like it, then you aren't out anything. If you do, great!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Where did the chicken go when he crossed the road?

To Tuscany to take a bath in olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and rosemary!

The other day I thawed out one of the chickens to prepare for supper. I felt it was time. I had a recipe all picked out and ready to go, except for one thing- to cut apart a whole chicken!

Here's what you need:
1. Get a really good sharp sturdy knife. Like the one Grandpa used to use with a worn hickory handle. Make sure it is sharp. I know a guy who will sharpen my knives for me. I traded him an old bike for a lifetime of knife sharpening!
2. A fairly large cutting board. You don't want chicken just laying about. Also a couple of plates or platters to hold whatever.
3. Betty. You need Betty. Betty Crocker! Turn to page 279 and follow the instructions for cutting apart a whole chicken.
4. A sense of humor. You are attempting to do what your grandma used to do all the time and here you are all squeamish.
5. Oh, and you may want to have the phone close by to call your mom or grandma or me for help.

You are going to have to cut through some bones. You are going to have to grab the thigh and pull it back to find the joint and try not to pull the entire thigh bone out leaving the meat attached to the body. (not that I've done that) You are going to have to pop the breastbone out and cut around it. You are going to sweat, cry and holler for your husband to get in the kitchen and help you. 
Once you're done dunk that bird in whatever marinade you like. Then fire up the grill or the oven and cook 'er up. Yum! 
Shelli's chickens, by the way, are very good and very big and meaty. You will want to get one next year!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Monday, July 19, 2010

Lord of the Lice

So, I didn't plan on writing again about the whole lice issue. It's been at least a week and I've been silent on here. That's because lice are persistent little buggars and until you cannot see one tiny speck of their eggs (nits) anywhere on your child's head, you are not in the clear. Seriously.
Somehow I was missing this point. I was lead to believe that if I used the special shampoo as directed, then applied the gel as directed before combing through the hair, as directed, the lice would be RID of. Yes, well perhaps the first indicator that this was going to be a long haul was finding many live lice still after the said killing shampoo immediately, 1 day later, 2 days later and still 10 days later. Or the fact that the box didn't say you must pick out every single tiny stubborn nit or they can hatch and lay up to 8 eggs themselves a day- but they weren't supposed to hatch. The gel was supposed to kill them.
So here's the dealio. If lice enter your household by whatever manner, you will be bound to your home, your child's head, your washing machine and your vacuum cleaner until they are gone. You must wash all of the infected person's clothes and bedding in hot water and dry on hot temperature. You must sack up in plastic bags all stuffed animals and non-washable items and store away (preferably someplace hot like the garage in the summertime) for two weeks. Take their comforter to the dry cleaners and tell them about the lice. Back to the bedding: you should wash it every day. EVERY DAY!!!

Now, let's get to the hair. Boys- easy- shave 'em. Not my preferred look for them but it takes care of the issue pretty quick. (The boys didn't have it, though, thankfully.) Girl- easy- shave 'em. Hah! Okay, you could if all parties agreed, but since that is highly unlikely, follow along.
1. Call your mom. Most likely, you or a sibling had it growing up so she knows all about it and is a sympathetic ear. It's part of mom-hood and someone should tell you about it before you decide to have babies.
2. Call your sisters and tell them. They need to know. They have stories and then they'll quarantine all the nieces and nephews until you wave a white flag.
3. Go to Sally's Beauty Supply or whatever beauty supply place you live near. Buy some tea tree oil shampoo, plastic cape, shower caps and a lice/nit comb. Make sure it has metal teeth- NOT PLASTIC!
4. Go to your local grocery store and buy some real mayonnaise (not miracle whip) and some vinegar.

When you get home comb through girly girl's hair with a fine toothed comb to smooth out. If you happen to catch any live lice in the teeth of the comb, wipe them into a paper towel or toilet paper and put in a sandwich baggie. They can hop around pretty quickly and don't squish to death very easily, so you want to trap them. Then start with the mayonnaise and coat thickly every single strand and bit of hair with mayo. Truly. Barabara at Sally's says the cholesterol kills them (lice having heart attacks- funny!). Who knows? But the mayo traps them and suffocates them. Leave this on for a good while. We left it on overnight for Audrey. That's why you need the shower cap. In the morning, rinse the hair with vinegar. The vinegar is breaking down the shell of the nits so basically they die. Rinse it really well with vinegar. Believe me, you do not want to do this more than once, so don't hold back. Rinse everything out as best as you can with water. Then start with the tea tree shampoo. This shampoo has some sort of essences that the lice do not like, so they are repelled by it. I had Audrey wash her hair with the shampoo two times but she still smelled a little salad-y when I was combing through her hair.
Now grab that lice comb with the metal teeth. It is VERY FINE. If there are any tangles whatsoever in the hair, you will have tears galore, so make sure again, you can comb through it easily before you start. Start at the base of the neck and near the ears. Lice hid and lay their super-glued eggs near the scalp. In small sections comb through all the hair, removing anything from the comb with paper towels and pinning aside gone through hair. If you see any nits, remove them with the comb, your fingernail or even snipping it out with scissors (but not too many snips). Hopefully you will not see any live ones. If you do, bag 'em. Wet hair is easier to comb through, dry hair is easier to see the nits. Once you are done, have them shampoo up again. Check everyday, removing any nits you see. I combed through quite a bit with the nit comb since it pulled them out very well and also dug up any live ones. If you do see live ones, you are going to have to check on it a bit longer.

Sorry to bore you with the details, but this has been my last week. Consumed by lice. But God again is teaching me things through it. Like the chance for Audrey and I to be together. Sure, we wouldn't choose this as our all time favorite thing to do, but it still has put us together and has given us the chance to practice patience and long-suffering with each other. Plus we watched some fun movies, like The Music Man. (You need to be prepared with some entertainment for them as combing through her hair took at least 2 hours every time.) And also, I am VERY THANKFUL for a washer and dryer. I ran that thing night and day. Anything you kid touches with her hair has the chance to become infected and then spread to another family member. So you should wash it. You may seriously contemplate locking them in their room and sliding toast under the door for meals until the whole ordeal is over with!

I know the treatment is weird. And you may not want potato salad for a while. But the other alternative is harsh chemicals. I tried that and it didn't work and the little plastic comb that came didn't work either. I felt a little scammed. Maybe it will work for you. It isn't the end of the world, like in my previous post, I thought it was.
The end will be when the ants and fruit flies completely take over the house. (I do not know what is the deal with the pests this summer!)

My mom found the mayo/vinegar combo at this site and it helped the most.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Heads Up Comedian

Dear God,
Ha ha, you are so funny! I was just getting ready to do up my daughter's hair for a special date night with her and her dad and me, when I discover what had been itching her scalp for the last couple of weeks. Well, as you know, I ended up not doing up her hair because I thought that might make matters worse. Then, of course, you had it all planned out that the very subject we were taking her out to talk with her about was indirectly related to what was happening in her hair. Oh, you're good.
You see, I'm very willing to remain ignorant and scared of certain parts of life. I like being comfortable. I mean, your word says that we have to be tested and stretched and have trials to become the right person and I think that's great. For the other person. But when it comes to me, did you forget that my eew factor is very low and I don't like dealing with stuff that will expose a weakness in me and I'd rather just get out of whatever situation I'm in as fast as possible?
What's that? Oh, that declaration I made many years ago about being willing to go wherever you lead me? Yeah,  I remember. I still mean it. I just didn't think it meant combing through my daughter's hair one inch at a time until 2 in the morning. This is a small thing in your eyes? Mine, too. Get it? Ha ha!
Alright, I'm done. I surrender. I was scared of lice. I was scared that I'd never be able to correctly identify what they looked like. No problem, there. I was pretty sure that was maybe the grossest thing on earth I'd have to deal with, besides the occasional mouse, or kid poop or throw-up and butchering chickens. Well, we've blasted through that, haven't we? (But please, don't throw in mice just for kicks anytime soon.) I was certain that perhaps this would be the one thing that would hinder me from reaching out to others for the sake of your Word, for their eternal security. Can we say "Oh ye of little faith!"?
I'm thankful for your timing, for your leading me through this "trial". For breaking through that barrier I had set up in my pristine world. For my mom, who answered my phone call. For my sister, who helped me. For the chance for Audrey and I to learn what being compassionate looks like (thanks Alex and Danny). For Audrey to say, that she sees Your hand in all things. (Way to one up your mom!) For Corrie Ten Boom. (read a snippet of her story here)
I rejoice that you don't want me to lack anything and you'll do whatever is necessary for me to be complete. "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-3
I'm glad that though the timing of how you arrange events challenges any good comic routine, you do not toy with me mercilessly. Simply, you are God. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord." Isaiah 55:8

And now I get the feeling that you have planned for me to go camping, in a tent, with a sleeping bags, with a campfire and all that stuff. Great. Someone direct me to the nearest camping store, please.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I would never

Today is my girl's birthday. (July 7) I've been trying to hold it off as long as I can. I've plugged my ears and yelled "LALALALA!" I've tried to flat out deny it, buying a gift only at the last minute. I've postponed her party. And I may or may not have had a little fit about it! But it cannot be stopped. She's 12!
I will try to write the rest of this, however long it's going to be, without crying. She would like that.
12 is not the end of the world, of course, and I'm actually glad she's 12. I used to say, "Great, Audrey's doing this." or "Oh man, here we go." about something so minute like teething or walking, etc. And then I learned to appreciate all those changes. And that outlook changed everything. If I never wanted her to grow up, then I would never get to hear her play her trumpet or improvise on the piano. I would never get to read all of her short stories or hear her sing her little songs. I would never be able to have great conversations with her about most anything- books, movies, friends, God, food, blogs, music, computer help, fashion, etc. And I would never get to see her sweet smile grow more and more every day. (Ok, that last sentence caused a little wetness in my eyes, but no actual tears yet.)
I love you, Audrey! Happy Birthday!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Flag Cake

Is this what is meant by the phrase "have your cake and eat it too"? Probably not. However, if you are having a little Independence Day get together and you want to bring a home run dessert, then this might be it for you!
I made this Flag Cake last year for a family reunion and it was a hit! The basic recipe is a cake baked in a large sheet pan and decorated with frosting and berries. Make it from a box, if you want. But if you really want them comin' back for more, make this recipe I got from Ina Garten's (The Barefoot Contessa *gush*) cookbook  Family Style. There's still time for you to gather all the ingredients and make it!

For cake:
2 1/4 sticks butter, softened
3 c. sugar
6 eggs
1 c. sour cream, room temp.
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 c. all purpose flour
1/3 c. cornstarch
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. baking soda

For icing:
4 sticks butter, room temp.
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, room temp.
1 lb. confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

For assembling:
2 half-pints blueberries
3 half-pints raspberries
But I'd buy extra so you have enough once you pick through them.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. butter and flour 18x12x1 1/2 inch sheet pan.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. On medium speed, add eggs, 2 at a time, then add the sour cream and vanilla. Scrape down the sides and stir until smooth. Sift together flour, cornstarch, salt and baking soda in a bowl. with the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until just combined. Pour into the prepared pan. Smooth the top with a spatula. Bake 20-30 minutes until toothpick pulls out clean. Cool to room temperature.
For the icing, combine the butter, cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer until smooth.
Spread 3/4 fourths of icing on the top of the cooled cake. Outline the flag on the top of the cake with a toothpick. Decorate like a flag. Use a large star tip on a pastry bag to create the white lines. Pipe stars in blueberries. Serves 20-24

This cake is easy to make and tastes like a pound cake. The cream cheese frosting is, well, great! It isn't too sweet so the berries don't have to compete. The hardest part is making the flag come out all even. In her picture it shows 4 double rows of raspberries and perfectly placed stars on the blueberries. I suppose that is because she's done it a million times and had a food stylist helping her. My picture is of my first attempt. No matter, my uncle still had his share! :)