31 December 2012

Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013

Another year has come  . . .and gone . .. and now another year lies before us, untouched, new, just waiting to be explored. The adventure, the mundane, the good times, the bad times, lessons to learn and experience to teach . . . all not yet done. Ah, the freshness of the start of a new year; the newness, tabula rassa - now I just need some chalk for that slate. :)

2012 was a fairly good year. We had a very busy year with a lot travel . . . . we drove to Florida and back in May, and then to South Dakota and back via Wyoming in October. My brother Thomas got married to an amazing woman (Leigh-Ann). Butterfly turned 3, Little Man turned 2 and Flower turned 1. Mike went on a few short TDY's and we all survived unscathed. We had several wonderful visits with family - both Mike's parents and my Dad, at their homes and ours.

Butterfly started preschool and loves it. She has really become a little girl and is no longer a toddler. She has grown quite a bit in stature and has really lost that "toddler" look. She loves to dance to the classical music we often have playing in the home and has a new found love of animals. Little Man started talking up a storm and though shy around people he doesn't know, will talk your ear off once he's comfortable around you. He is our little Jumping Bean and loves to jump and jump and run and run. He still raises his eyebrows over everything and you can see his mind working things out. He has a new found love of cars, and of course he loves trains. Everything is trains, trains, trains.  Flower learned to scoot, and then learned to walk, and then learned to climb. She says "please" and "thank you" on a regular basis (she learned from her siblings, although she's much more polite than them - she's a fast learner!) She adores her older sister and brother and is often seen emulating them, both good and bad. It's so amazing how much they learn in the first few years of life! Now she's all over the place and loves to talk in her little toddler babble.

We still have our feline Galileo (that, in and of itself, is quite miraculous!) and we have a new addition to our family: Boots, or as the kids call him, Boots Kitty.

It was a very busy year - there were a lot (A LOT) of days where I felt like I just didn't stop moving all day, from the time I got up until I lay back down to sleep at night, which was usually pretty early. I did get a few projects completed: the garage got a good, thorough cleaning and organizing while Mike was TDY in August (and about a week after he returned, it was back to its' previous state . . .), I finished Butterfly and Little Man's Shutterfly First Year photo albums, finished "2010 Year in Review" and am almost finished with "2012 Year in Review". We also has a pretty good garden this summer, although we mostly got lots of beautiful flowers and not much produce. Hopefully 2013 will have a better crop.

I started going to Jazzercise several times a week, and I really love it! I've even lost a few pounds, although I am NOT /trying to lose weight at all. Mike really, really loves that I'm going to Jazzercise and enjoys watching me skip and dance around the house while I take care of things at home.

We left Desert Springs Church over the summer and started attending the chapel on base. I think that was the best decision we made this year. We don't have anything against DSC, but felt the Lord leading us to attend the base chapel. Going to the service at the chapel feels like coming home, for both Mike and I. Everyone welcomes us like family every week and there is so much love there. We have also been growing so much more that we were at DSC. We are actually back in a Navigator's Bible Study, just like we were in Oklahoma. I really love that! I have never been in another Bible Study that teaches you to get into God's Word like the Nav studies. Beth Moore comes pretty close though. We miss our friends at DSC, but we do keep up with them via FB and such, so it's not like we never see them.

This year was also a year for goodbyes and hellos. My dear friend Sierra PCS'd in May and that was a hard goodbye. Some new friends PCS'd in over the summer though and they have been wonderful ladies to get to know: Whitney and Liz. I look forward to getting to know them better and to good times in the coming year. I know there will be a lot of goodbyes this year as well: several friends are PCSing from KAFB . .. I wonder who the new year will bring to KAFB . . .

So with that, I'll wrap it up. I bid you a fond farewell 2012 . . . . and I look forward to what you have to bring, 2013.
~~ Tegan

26 December 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

We had a really nice, quiet Christmas at home this year. We didn't have anyone over for dinner and didn't get invited anywhere, so it was just us - very cozy.

Mike and I ended up wrapping the gifts on Christmas Eve and putting them under the tree. We did leave a few out - I bought a kitchen from a friend who was PCSing for a great deal and also got a baby stroller and a baby crib at yard sales over the summer, so those didn't get wrapped. Mike and I also decided to open the pots and pans set and set it up on the kitchen set, which was a nice touch, I thought.

Something we did this year, we didn't wrap the small presents in the stockings and we set the stockings out on the table to open at breakfast. I really liked that a lot. The kids got some new kids glasses since we are pretty much done with sippys for Butterfly and Little Man.

Butterfly and Little Man have a fairly good understand about Christmas I think. We have told them several times that it is Jesus' birthday and they know that we give gifts in honor of Jesus being the greatest gift to us. They were pretty excited to see all the presents but showed very good restraint when we told them to wait for us before they opened anything up. Butterfly now understands about opening presents, but Flower was quite confused.

After the presents were opened, they took turns playing with other siblings' gifts, which I thought was really amusing. Little Man loved pushing the doll around in the stroller, and Butterfly loved playing the dinosaurs and Flower really got into the kitchen stuff.

I made mincemeat pies on Christmas Eve and I warmed those up and served them with sausage and apple cider for breakfast. I thought they tasted pretty good, although they didn't look like what I expected them to turn out like at all. Butterfly ate hers, but Little Man and Flower didn't eat theirs. Mike thought they were too cinnomon-y for his taste (he's not one for ginger or cinnamon or rich foods . . .).  We opened stockings while we were at the table, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The kids each got a book and a bird sticker book, besides the aforementioned cups, and some Hershey's kisses. Mike got a DVD cartoon and some mint chocolate.

After we ate breakfast, we sat together on the couch and Mike read from Matt 1 &2, the story of the baby Jesus come to earth, God in the form of a tiny infant. That just boggles my mind . . . especially now that I've had children.

We had leftover Italian sausage soup for lunch, and lots of chocolate. After lunch we skyped with Dad and my brother Thomas, and his wife Leigh-Ann. We also got to see my sister-in-law Sarah and my step-sister Brittney. It was a great conversation and so wonderful to see them. I love this kind of technology!

For dinner, I roasted a duck, a first for me. I hadn't planned on having duck originally when I did the menu for Christmas. I was going to roast a small turkey or chicken with vegetables, but next to the turkeys at the commissary there was a section in the bin for ducks. So I made an impulse decision, not something I normally do, and purchased the duck. I've had duck before, but never cooked one myself. I felt up the challenge and I was not disappointed! It was delicious! I roasted it with butternut squash and rosemary and then served it with green beans, cranberry sauce and watergate. We definitely had quite the little Christmas feast!

After dinner, it was bath time and then on to bed! It was a wonderful Christmas Day! I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas Day as well!

December recap

I haven't been writing very much on my blog lately . .. I've been pretty consumed when I'm on the computer about finishing up my "2012 Year in Review" book on Shutterfly. I have no idea when I'll actually buy it after it's done, but you can be bet it will be at least 50% off! I didn't start the book until October, and that is not a good idea! I'm almost finished putting all the pics on pages (I prefer to do it myself as opposed to letting them do it and I'm still a bit of a perfectionist, although I'm working on that) and now I'll just have to go back and fill in all the words and edit it. That will take a while. Maybe by Valentines Day?

Anyway, Mike was TDY for most of December, which wasn't too bad. I had some really good days (surprisingly great actually) and some really bad days. The bad days are usually when the kids are constantly misbehaving . .. this TDY was really hard for the kids, Butterfly particularly. We had a few nights where Little Man woke up an hour or two after going to sleep just crying out "Daddy!" - very heartbreaking. And Butterfly had a major meltdown three days in a row. Since her last meltdown was months ago and the one before that months before that, you can see how this is not the norm. But we got through it. Some friends offered to watch the kids twice so I could run to the commissary childless (what a blessing!) and I even got to sit in a coffee shop for an hour and a half and write some notes out to friends (what a blessing!).

I usually do my grocery shopping while Mike is at work so that we all have more time to spend with him when he is home, as opposed to using Mike as a babysitter and flitting off to do something by myself (not saying that doesn't happen, but I try to not plan it like that), so that means I often take all three kids to the commissary. By myself. And yes, the oldest is three years old. She's actually becoming quite the helper at the commissary. She really likes to put the items in the cart and she puts them very neatly and precisely away (just like her Mama!). Anyway, it's quite a workout pushing a cart full of groceries plus two toddlers. Since Butterfly likes to help out, I don't wear Flower much at the commissary anymore.

I serve on the PWOC Board as the Prayer Coordinator, and we had our Board Christmas Party while Mike was gone. It was really, really fun. We did a white elephant gift exchange, which was hilarious. I got a beautiful candle melt holder thing with a fall leaf design on it. I have it sitting on my kitchen window sill in front of the sink.

Our PWOC Christmas event was really memorable - it was a lot of fun too! Our theme was Eph 2:8 "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—".

We had some friends from Tinker take the kids and I out to lunch as they drove though Albuquerque on their way to Arizona for a dude ranch Christmas. It was so great to see Ch Kraig and Jennifer and their girls, who are so grown up now, Kayla and Sierra!

Butterfly had a Christmas party at her school, Kids Express, which was really neat. It was kind of interesting trying to continuously corral Little Man and Flower during the festivities, but I think overall it was a really good time. Butterfly really loves going to school. Mike and I have decided to continue to have her in preschool next year and enroll Little Man as well. He loves to be there when I drop Butterfly off. He actually just goes and does whatever the other kids are doing - which is free play, like he belongs there.

I actually haven't had the usual holiday stress this year. I got my Christmas cards out pretty early - which I haven't done in years - and got all my decorations up the day after Thanksgiving, a first. Ever. My Dad was visiting though, so he was playing the kids while I decorated, which was a huge help.

I started buying the kids Christmas presents at yard sales and on Kirtland Swap during the summer, and my Dad bought the rest when he was visiting, so I didn't have to go out and do much shopping. I bought Mike's present online on Black Friday (an ice cream maker, a nice one, since the cheap one I bought him for our anniversary didn't last, sadly). So this year there was not a lot of anxiety about getting everything done - it was really nice to feel on top of things for a change.

Other than that, it has been a pretty quiet December. The Directorate Christmas Party was hosted while Mike was TDY and I didn't want to go by myself, so that was skipped this year. I did some baking starting a few days before Christmas. The plan, originally, was to bake a plate of cookies for all the families on our circle, but after the third time I ran out of ingredients [and time], and not having enough to fill the plates with goodies, I abandoned that idea. Maybe next year. Or for Valentines Day. Or just for no reason I'll make them cookies.

I did do a few new recipes this year: egg nog cupcakes with egg nog icing and mincemeat pie. They were very yummy! I'll have more on the other foods I made in the post on Christmas Day.

24 December 2012

Afternoon Tea

This afternoon, on Christmas Eve, I had the pleasure of going to afternoon tea at the St. James Tea House here in Albuquerque. I was invited by my friend Guylaine and it was just a heavenly retreat for the soul. 

The St. James Tea House is an English Tea House that serves traditional afternoon tea, complete with a three-tiered tray of exquisite foods to tempt the palate and complimented by various teas. The  ambiance takes you back to the mid-nineteenth century to a place where drinking tea is not only a special event, but is met with tradition, elegance, etiquette and courtesy. 

 The menu at St. James changes every month, and this month, being the special month that holds Christmas so near and dear to the heart, the menu was a Charles Dicken's event for the taste buds. We were served Traditional Beef Wellington, Ebeneezer's Cheddar Chutney on a Pate Brisee Star, The Crachit's Roasted Vegetables with Sherry, and Fezziwig's Fidget Pie, and the traditional tea sandwich: Walnut Cream Cheese on Cinnamon Raisin Bread, all of which was served with Indian Assam Traditional Black Tea.

For the breads, we were served Cranberry Bundt, a traditional Cream Scone, and Cranberry Curd with Clotted Cream. The tea, which perfectly complimented the light and delectable breads was Sparkling Sugar Plum Scented Black Tea. 

For dessert, we were in for a real treat: Tiny Tim's Sticky Toffee Puddings, Marley's Chocolate, Raspberry Rugelach, and Christmas Present Honey Spice Trifle. Our dessert tea was Cranberry Blush Scented Green Tea. 

The food overall was just incredible. The pastries were light and puffy, the vegetables rich and savory, the breads were amazing and the clotted cream and Cranberry Curd was so amazing. The Curd and Creams weren't too sweet and perfectly balanced the breads. My taste buds were just in heaven!
My favorite part of the whole experience, which I absolutely loved, was the solidarity and quietness of the whole experience. It is true we live in an extremely busy world. Even though I don't work and I try not to have too many things vying for my time and attention, as far as outside-the-home duties go, the fact is that I have very little quiet and relaxing time. I have three children three years old and younger, so quiet is not very commonplace in my life. Not that in this stage, there should be a lot of quiet. I want my children to be children and not feel like they have to be seen and not heard. I don't agree with that philosophical mind-set and never have. 

That being said, I do crave quiet from time to time. And it's hard to find in our society. I have actually started avoiding the usual restaurants that have sprung up in chains across the country (Chili's for example) because they are so loud, it's hard to hear Mike (or anyone else) across the table. I'm soft spoken and I just can't compete with that kind of din and racket that come from tables placed close together to get more people seated and the meal being rushed to get more people turned over.

The St. James Tea Room was the exact opposite of that. We were seated at a quiet table and there are curtains drawn between the tables to invite a warm, cozy and intimate ambiance that welcomes quiet conversation with the competition of the neighboring tables. The seating area was truly a place to welcome conversation. Guylaine invited four other ladies besides myself, two of whom I had never met and one whom I hadn't had a chance to get to know very well. The ambiance of this cozy nook was perfect for getting to know the ladies and we reminisced stories of romance, talked of literature, shared personal stories and generally got to know my fellow [wo]man. 

I didn't realize how much I needed such a respite for my soul, and it was wonderful. I can truly and honestly say that I loved every minute, from the time I walked through the arch leading through the garden to when I exited. I can't wait to take Mike - he would love it! I am so incredibly thankful to Guylaine for thinking of me, and inviting me - it was such a generous blessing, a Christmas blessing.

09 December 2012

Newfound mobility

I mentioned in a recent post that Flower had taken her first steps.

She did indeed take her first steps, and then refused to try to walk any more for about two more weeks. I guess she didn't like it at first!

About a week ago it's like the walking clicked over night. She literally stood up and started walking everywhere. She has hardly scooted since! She's so excited about her walking too - it's so cute. She still has that new walk wobble and just wobble-walks from furniture piece to furniture piece or wall to wall. She often latches on to Mike or I's pants legs and hitches a ride.

She is really loving walking now - she loves to try to keep up with Butterfly and Little Man. I'm not sure they are so thrilled about it at the time being, especially when she comes up to them to give them hugs or play with their toys.

Butterfly has learned the art of distraction though and will often bring Flower a toy to play with when Flower tries to take the toy that Butterfly is playing with. It works most of the time.

Potty training

Potty training has begun again here in our little house. It's Little Man's turn!

He's been quite ready to potty train for some time now, I've just been rather lazy. Yes, I am a lazy Mom. So I decided that we are finally going to do it!

We had our first day this past Friday and he did quite well. He went potty on the potty. We were on a little schedule of things and it was going fairly well.

The last time of this particular day in which I was very tired because Flower had a really rough night, I sent Little Man to the potty (inside the bathroom - I can't leave the potty out in the open because Flower likes to play in it - not good) while I was in the kitchen cleaning or something. (I might have been cooking, I can't remember.)

Anyway, Little Man yells to me that he did it and he was so excited. I go in and he has peed in the potty - except he left his underwear on. I didn't tell him to pull down his big boy when he sat on the potty, so he didn't do it. I just completely assumed that he knew to do that!

So now when Little Man goes potty, I make sure to tell him, every time, to pull down his big boy underwear.

Yesterday he did very well and went potty several times on the potty. I am getting excited about the possibility of only having one child in diapers! It's so exciting! Two children who can go to the bathroom by themselves! Now I just need to work on being consistent . . . .

Family pics

We had family pictures taken by a friend about a month or so ago, back when the leaves were still pretty colors on the trees, and I realized today that I haven't posted any! So here you go. :)

Butterfly, Flower and Little Man (he was so serious and refused to smile when the camera was in front of him, when it wasn't, he was all smiles)

My incredibly sexy and handsome husband - I still can't believe he's my husband sometimes! The love of my life!

Have to have the quintessential "kissing" picture - I love these - they're just so fun! Well, any excuse to kiss my husband is fun!

Mommy, the Hero

Apparently I have been dubbed Mommy, the Hero, by my wonderful husband this morning.

Flower is still sleeping in our bed part of the night (we're in a period of transition, and she still nurses at night). I have to use that as a preface.

Flower has this new sleeping thing where she likes to roll around a lot and swing her legs in weird, perpendicular angles, (hence the transitioning to her bed). So last night she was doing this, and was apparently awake and having a grand time doing it, according to Mike, and she rolled right off the bed.

But, she didn't hit the floor.

Because I caught her.

Before she hit the floor. I went from a state of deep sleep to catching my daughter after she rolled off the bed.

I vaguely remembered it, but by morning I had convinced myself that it was a dream. I asked Mike about it in the morning at breakfast and he saw the whole thing. Including Flower giggling and cooing "ooh, ahh" after I caught her. (I hope that doesn't mean she's going to try it again!) And then I went back to sleep after moving Flower to the middle of the bed, between Mike and I.

I was pretty shocked that I did that. I mean, I was fast asleep. And that kind of thing has to happen pretty fast, right? Yay for maternal instincts, right?

Have this kind of thing ever happened to you? How are your maternal instincts? Do you listen to them every time, sometimes or just ignore them? (I mean, when you're awake, that is.)

What Christians Want to Know

A few weeks ago we had a guest speaker at the Chapel on base (where we are now attending regularly) and he gave a great message. I found my notes from his sermon this morning in my purse and something he said really spoke to me.

The guest speaker is active duty and is part of the Special Forces squadron here on Kirtland (i.e. - he's a layman, not clergy/paid). He's a flyer, so he explained that has to rely on a flight manual for his job. He explained how the flight manual is his instruction booklet for everything that is part of his job, down to the tiniest detail. In the flight manual there are bold faced type that he is required to memorize in the event of an emergency when he wouldn't have time to consult the flight manual.

In the Christian life, he said that the Bible is our flight manual - an instruction booklet for life, down to the tiniest detail. The bold faced type are verses that we memorize, that we can pull out of our memory any time that we need them - in a bad situation (emergency), when we need immediate comfort of the Holy Spirit's promises, or verses that remind us of God's love and faithfulness to us.

The Bible is so full of so many wonderful verses, but if you are just starting out in memorizing God's Word, it can be a bit intimidating. Here is a link to a blog post from What Christians Want to Know blog with some wonderful verses, arranged by topic, if you are looking for inspiration.

How can a young man keep his way pure?
    By living according to your word.
10 I seek you with all my heart;
    do not let me stray from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart
    that I might not sin against you.
-Psalm 119:9-11

18 November 2012

Other news

Flower took her first steps this past week! And hasn't taken more than one step on her own since then.

We have decided that Flower really likes to know that she can do something before she'll do it. She'll cautiously try something once, maybe twice, but if she doesn't feel comfortable doing it, she won't do it again until she knows she can do it.

So Flower is 15 months old now. I'm thinking she'll be walking regularly by the time she is 16 months old. Give or take a week. Or two.

She is doing really well on eating solid food. She now insists on "big girl" rice cakes over mummums. She actually replaced a mummum with a rice cake that was on the table. Pretty clever.

Butterfly is doing very well in school. She loves to see how things work and is very interested in the mechanics of things. She also has quite the imagination! She will play with her ponies or her baby doll or her butterfly pillow for hours. She is quite the gentle mommy. Butterfly is also a huge helper! At the commissary she gently put everything I handed her into the cart in its' proper place. I didn't even have to tell her to do that! She likes to have things neat and orderly (like her Mama!).

Little Man is definitely all boy! He loves to talk too and will talk your ear off if you give him the chance. And his newest thing is saying "What?!" in a very concerned way, with eyebrows furrowed, when you tell him something. It's pretty funny. He is definitely all about removing his clothes and running around the house or pushing the little shopping cart around. Today he had his cars inside the bus inside the shopping cart and was telling us all about this as he pushed the cart around the living room.

In more other news, I rearranged the house again. I decided that I was tired of having toys all over the entire downstairs, so I moved all the dining room furniture to the front of the living room by the window and moved all the toys and the kids' bookcase into the dining room. So now we have a "playroom". It really changes the feel of the spacing of the house. Mike and I like it so far except for one little thing. Everything for all the meals has to be carried all the way across the house at each meal time and after when I clean up. I'm going to invest in a tray. Eventually.

I like to set the table properly and put all the food on the middle of the table and have people serve themselves at meals (well, one of us serves the kids). It is extra work, but I really love the homey feel to it. Plus the food stays hotter that way. So you can imagine all the carrying involved at mealtimes to do that. A small price to pay I think though.

Have to go, but really quickly, Mike has decided in a career move! He is really excited about it and I am really excited about it and there are AF programs that he qualifies for out there. Lord willing he'll be able to get into one of them. :)

Life lately

I haven't felt much like writing lately, and when I have, I have been completely indisposed to writing. For example, I'll think of something I want to write about right before I fall asleep at night and through the course of the night, the thought completely leaves my head. ::sigh::

The Election has come and gone. I voted for Romney via absentee ballot. Honestly though, I would have been surprised no matter who won. So I'll just continue to pray for Pres Obama throughout the next four years. The Lord revealed to me several months ago that there are really only two things that I can concerning our countries political leaders. Pray and vote. And that's pretty much it.

So if you have been following my blog for a number of years, you may remember one or two (or more) politically oriented posts, including some that may have been a bit strong worded. I realized that really it's just pointless and it gets me worked up for no reason. There isn't anything I can do short of pray and vote. So why write about it? I sincerely doubt that I will sway someone's opinion of candidate or views by my writing. And it really does stir up dissension, which isn't right for a Christian to do. And since I claim myself to be a Christian, I decided to do my best to keep my mouth shut this election year.

I did mess up a few times on FB and I deeply regret that. (I posted various articles a few times). So I am trying very hard to not write politically oriented things.

The Bible is pretty clear that the Lord sets up kings and nations and deposes them. I know that He has this country in His hands. I just hope that we, as a nation, repent before it is too late.

In OTHER news, well, I guess I'll just write other news in a new post that isn't tainted by election things. 

14 November 2012

Photo Card

His Grace Alone Religious
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08 November 2012

Will a 'silent exodus' from medicine worsen doctor shortage? - amednews.com

Will a 'silent exodus' from medicine worsen doctor shortage? - amednews.com

Obamacare's doctor depression | doctors, care, obamacare - Opinion - The Orange County Register

Obamacare's doctor depression | doctors, care, obamacare - Opinion - The Orange County Register

It's Pumpkin Time!

A few weeks the kids and I went to Galloping Grace Pumpkin Patch sponsored by Galloping Grace Youth Ranch, which is a ministry to inner city youth in Rio Rancho and Albuquerque.

We have been every year that we have lived here and we love it (and not just the kids). This year we weren't able to make it on a weekend day because either someone was sick, or we were out of town. I really wanted to take the kids, so even though we really missed Mike being apart of the fun, we headed out to the pumpkin patch.

The kids gravitated towards the animals almost immediately. They had goats, miniature horses, rabbits, chickens, and cows.

Butterfly was really excited about petting the miniature horses (that's my girl!).
 They had the usual corn maze (the kids didn't want to do that) and the hay maze, which we did, but the kids got scared about half way through, so it wasn't too fun after that.

They had some really cool blow-up horses to ride, but the kids weren't interested in that. They had a really cool tunnel slide built into a hill and the kids had a lot of fun climbing the hill and sliding down the slide.

It was a pretty chilly, autumn day, so we were all dressed extra warm for the cold snap that had moved into the region the night before. Our fingers were pretty cold by the end of our time there.

I decided to let the kids each pick out a pumpkin on the grounds that they had to be able to pick it up and carry it. In the picture below, Butterfly is kissing a pumpkin (she's really into giving kisses right now). Little Man is carefully examining a pumpkin.

The kids picked out really cute, small little pumpkins - in the pic above Little Man and Butterfly are carrying their pumpkins on the way out to the van.

It was a really fun time. It would have been even better if Mike could have been with us, but it just wasn't possible this year. Hopefully next year! :)

Butternut Squash Soup

A few weeks ago I made Butternut Squash Soup for the first time and it was so incredibly good! Like, where have you been all my life Butternut Squash?? kind of good. I must admit that I don't remember eating a winter squash until a few years ago when some friends invited us over for dinner and they served spaghetti squash as a side dish. That dinner inspired me to dive into the world of winter squash, but I hadn't worked up the nerve to make a dish with Butternut Squash yet. It's kind of an intimidating vegetable. . .

Well, I finally worked up the nerve to get a Butternut Squash (I got one from the Grower's Market) and found a recipe from a website that I turn to quite often when I need a good recipe, Naturally Ella, and got to it. 

I found Butternut Squash surprisingly easy to cut up and prepare - not much harder than a summer squash like zucchini. A very pleasant surprise. You can peel the skin right off with a veggie peeler! (You can't do that with acorn squash.)

 So here is the recipe, courtesy Naturally Ella.com, with some slight deviation on my part.

2 tbsp olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper
Onion, chopped
garlic, minced
2 tsp each: rosemary, thyme, oregano
Butternut Squash, cubed
3-4 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream

Peel the butternut squash and cut into cubes, about an inch in size (see above picture). I used an entire butternut squash. Toss with 1 tbsp olive oil, add salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and bake in a 375*F oven until softened, about 20-30 minutes. (This would be a great side dish, in and of itself).

Heat remaining olive oil in a skillet and saute onion until soft. Add garlic, rosemary, thyme and oregano. Stir in butternut squash. Add 3 cups broth and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer 10 minutes, then remove from heat.

NaturallyElla's directions say here to use an immersion blender or a regular blender to smooth out the soup. I don't have either one of those (at least not a blender big enough to use for this), so I used my electric mixer. If you use the electric mixer, prepare to make a huge mess and get little tiny burn spots all over your arms and face. Not really a good idea. I think a food processor would work here as well.

Anyway, the point here is do blend until the soup is smooth. Add extra broth as needed. Then return the soup to heat and warm. Add cream, then serve.

Or put in a jar for later. :) (That's what I did because I was making quite a few recipes at the same time, so we ate it the next day, and it was amazing!)

How to Save Fresh Pumpkin for Later!

I love pumpkin pie. And pumpkin bread. And pumpkin muffins. Mmmm . . . I plan on making some pumpkin soup this fall for the first time too - can't wait for that!

With that being said, I really prefer fresh pumpkin to canned pumpkin. There's just something about picking out a pumpkin and then preparing it so you can put it into whatever dish you want. There's something about skipping that middle step that involves a factory . . . It's even better if you can grow your own pumpkin. That failed for me this year, so I did the next best thing, I went to the Grower's Market here in Albuquerque.

 First, you cut up your pumpkin (very carefully, so you don't slice off any fingers). Remove the seeds (you can save them to bake later). Cut into pieces like so, above. Place in a baking dish with about an inch of water.  Then you bake it in a 350*F oven for 60 - 75 minutes. It's done when you can pierce the pumpkin easily with a fork, and it's nice and soft.
Then remove the pumpkin flesh from the skin and put into a big bowl, see the picture below.
 This is what the pumpkin looks like before you blend it. Of course, if you have a food processor, that is where that piece of kitchen equipment would come in really handy. If you're like me, though, and don't have a food processor, just get out the old electric mixer and plug 'er in.
Start mixing! You have to stop pretty often to scrape the sides of the bowl so that all the gooey, yummy pumpkin pulp gets mixed. I start on low speed and work my way up to high speed. You have mix for at least five minutes.
Once your pumpkin is blended until smooth (there won't be any more strings or lumps and it will be a little more orange). I scoop about 2 1/2 - 3 cups into a freezer quart size ziplock bag. Lay the bag flat in the freezer. After it is frozen, you can store it up right for several months.

Just thaw in the fridge or warm water when you're ready to make a delicious pumpkin dish!

Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden

From the opening sentences of Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden, you are drawn into the world of Lydia Pallas, and her world is in Boston in the 1800’s. I love a good historical fiction novel, and this is a great historical fiction novel! The novel is about a Greek immigrant who was orphaned at a young age and has extraordinary talent for languages (she speaks half a dozen!).

Camden pulls you into the world of Boston in the late 1800’s, and draws from issues that were current events at the time (trying to shut down the sale of opium in children’s medicine) and uses actual places (the Navy Shipyard and other places around Boston) to make her novel feel so real – and it does.  Besides the wonderfully written details of historical and regional nature, Camden uses a touch of romance and the intrigue of a good thriller to keep the pages turning, and they turned really quickly for me! It was really hard to put her book down. The deeper you got into the book, the more drawn you were into the lives of the characters (Lydia and the mysterious Alexander Banebridge) and the story.

I would highly recommend this novel to anyone who loves a good historical fiction book and/or loves a good thriller, especially if like a touch of romance thrown in. You’re sure to be enthralled with Against the Tide as I was!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Bethany Publishing Company book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Orange-Cranberry Pancakes

It has been a while since I linked up with Premeditated Leftovers (or posted a recipe!), and I have a few minutes to blog while the kids are playing nicely (yes!). I've even finished the morning chores and then some - and all before 0900! (Yes!)

The Hearth and Soul Bloghop is a blog hop where bloggers can share various recipes (Yes!). (I like saying Yes! today - it's a Yes! kind of day!) The purpose of the bloghop is not only to share recipes, but recipes that are close to your heart - recipes that warm body and soul on a cold, autumn day or recipes that bring back memories of a favorite person in your childhood who cheered you with a delicious meal made with love (and good food).

With that being said, my recipe today is Orange-Cranberry Pancakes, an autumn special. There are several foods, to me, that just shout "I'm an autumn food! Eat me, and it's like you're participating in this special, wonderful season!" Autumn is one of my favorite seasons - I love the weather, it's not hot, but it's not cold yet and the fall rains (if you don't live in the southwest) start coming in from the north, ushering in all the seasonal changes; I love the colors the trees turn, the brilliant golds, luxurious reds, soothing yellows and oranges; I love the food of the season - pumpkins, squash, cranberries, cinnamon, turkey; I love the big holiday of the season - Thanksgiving - a special time to gather with the people in your life that you love and cherish and celebrate all that you are thankful for; and, of course, I love that Mike and I got married in the autumn - a glorious Oklahoma October day. Wonderful memories, just wonderful! (Yes! Okay, I just had to throw that in there.)

So anyway, my recipe, right, back to the food part - Orange-Cranberry Pancakes. It's a wonderful combination of all things fall for the taste buds! Yummy!

1 1/2 cups flour (I use whole wheat)
3 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 - 1 1/2 cups orange juice
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup cranberries (I used frozen)

Mix dry ingredients. Make a well for the egg, add egg and beat. Add butter and orange juice. Mix well with a spoon. Add in cranberries.

Heat skillet or grill on medium-high. Spray with cooking spray (I use olive oil in a spray bottle - you wouldn't believe how much money you save doing that!). When a drop of water sizzles on the skillet/grill, add pancake batter. I make smaller pancakes, so I use a 1/4 cup measuring cup.  Heat a few minutes. These pancakes will not bubble like regular pancakes, and they take a little longer to cook. When golden brown on the bottom side, flip and cook until done.

Serve with honey or syrup. Enjoy!

Feel free to come back and leave me a comment letting me know how you liked them! :)

07 November 2012

PWOC Prayer Devotional

Today I had the honor of giving a prayer devotional at PWOC. A friend who lives thousands of miles away asked me for a copy, so I told her I would put it on my blog.

Just a reminder that International Prayer for the Persecuted Church is this Sunday, 11 Nov. 

If you were at the devotional this morning, you may notice some things missing, that is because I ended up putting some things into the devotion as the Holy Spirit led. :) Anyway, without further ado, here you go:

Prayer Devotional 7 Nov 2012

As I was thinking about how to present this devotional during the past few weeks, the Lord kept placing 1 Thes 5:17 in my mind “Pray continually” and not just that, but also the verses surrounding it – “be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

What does that look like? How do you do that?

I’d like to start by briefly reviewing the ACTS model of prayer:

A – Adoration
C – Confession
T – Thanksgiving
S – Supplication

Just a brief run through of definitions :
Adoration is the act of paying honor; worship. Praise  focuses on who God is; it is an acknowledgement of His holiness, works, benefits, excellence and an admiration of His attributes. Worship is our reverence for God. “Therefore I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations; I will sing praises to your name.” 2 Sam 22:50 “I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.” Ps9:2
Confession is acknowledgement or disclosure of sin. It is admitting that we have done wrong and asking forgiveness. “We all sin and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23)
Thanksgiving is the act of giving thanks or grateful acknowledgement of benefits. Thanksgiving  focuses on what God has done in our lives. “ I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation.” & “You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you.” Ps 118:21, 28
Supplication is humble entreaty or petition. I really like the use of humble in that statement.  While we can boldly approach the throne of grace (Heb 4:16), we should not be demanding this or that of God, but ask God out of meekness. “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” John 16:24

Things to thank God for when we pray:
That we have received the word of God and it is at work in us (1 Thes 2:13).
For other Christians (Col 1:3, 2 Tim 1:3).
When we pray asking for anything, we should always ask with a thankful heart (Phil 4:6) – when we ask in thankfulness, the Lord tells us that He will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

What does it meant to pray constantly?
The short answer: pray all the time. When you’re driving, when you’re cleaning, when you’re getting dressed,  when you’re taking care of the kids, when you are cooking, when you are working, even when you are making love to your husband (did I just say that?! Yes, but that’s another devotion for another time).

Okay, so that is praying constantly, but HOW do we do that?
For me, I sort of have a running conversation with the Lord in my head. Invite Him into every area of my life – He wants us to do that. Psalm 121:8 says he knows our coming and going both now and forevermore. The Lord has given us, as believers, the Holy Spirit, who abides, or lives, in us, (2 Tim 1:14, 1 Cor 2:12) and not only that, but intercedes for us when we don’t even know what to pray. I am so grateful for that – there have been times in my life when I have been in such emotional pain or intensity that I couldn’t even muster the words to echo the sentiment in my soul – times when all I could pray was “Oh God” and cry. The Holy Spirit searches our hearts and intercedes for us, according to God’s will. (Rom 8:26-27). Eph 6:18 says that we can pray in the Spirit on all occasions and will all kinds of requests. And then with this in mind, we should pray for other Christians.

Paul set an example to us when we constantly remembered his fellow believers and workers in Christ (Rom 1:9-10). Not only did he remember his fellow believers in prayer, but he prayed with joy for them because of their partnership in their gospel (Philippians 1:4-5). In a broader scope, the early church that is talked about in the book of Acts constantly joined together in prayer for each other, before Pentecost and after (Acts 1:14, 2:42). Pentecost is the when the Holy Spirit was given to men, after the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Paul also prayed the work of Christ that was being done by his fellow workers for the faith, a labor which was prompted by the love of Christ and for their endurance that was inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thes 1:3).

With that note, I want to seg-way into praying for other believers. The National Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church is coming up on this Sunday. I want to give you some information about the persecuted church in our world and how we can pray for those who diligently uphold the faith,  even to the point of being martyred.

There are over 50 restricted nations in the world. By restricted, I mean, they do not have the freedom to meet together as believers and pray and worship Christ.

Here are some statistics for you:
1.       The Pew Forum estimates that Christians face persecution in over 130 countries, presenting 2/3 of all nations
2.       The Germany-based International Society for Human Rights, a secular organization, estimates that 80 percent of all acts of religious discrimination in the world are directed against Christians.
3.       Some 150,000 Christians are killed for their faith each year, according to both the Catholic relief agency Aid to the Church in Need and the evangelical group Open Doors.
4.      In Nigeria in 2011, the Muslim extremist group Boko Haram killed 510 Christians and destroyed more than 350 churches using guns, gasoline bombs, and even machetes

5.        163,000 Christians die every year for their faith. Half of all the Christians who have ever died for their faith did so in this century alone, some 35 million! 15,000,000 of these were Orthodox or Catholic Christians who died under the Soviet regime between 1917 and 1980, primarily in prison camps.

6.        The top ten persecuting countries are: Burma/Myanmar, China, Egypt, Iran, Laos, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan (2 million since 1985), Vietnam.

What can we do?
Pray – pray, pray, pray – more than 300,000 churches in over 100 countries are going to participate in International Prayer for the Persecuted Church day (it’s this Sunday, 11 Nov)
Pray specifically that (a) God would be glorified, (b) the great commission would be completed (which will, of course, initially increase persecution), pray particularly Peter’s prayer for boldness in the face of persecution (Acts 4:29), (c) that Jesus would come, (d) that the Holy Spirit would first purify and then comfort his church (Rev. 6:10-11).
Write letters, for example to Christians who are currently imprisoned – you can visit  prisoneralart.com to write to prisoners around the world
Symbolic suffering – make a personal sacrifice or inconvenience to help you remember your brothers and sisters in the throes of suffering
Stay informed – for example you can visit persecution.com for updates on the persecuted church. They have a free periodical that they put out called “Voice of the Martyrs”
Give to relief efforts

We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thes 1:3

And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe. 1 Thes 2:13

 God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you 10 in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you. Rom 1:9-10

 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Eph 6:18

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, Col 1:3

 I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. 2 Tim 1:3

 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:6-7

Eph 6:18 cross reference:
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. Rom 8:26-27
In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, Phil 1:4-5

 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. Acts 1:14

Acts 1:14 cross reference:
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Acts 4:42

When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. Acts 4:24

Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. 2 Tim 1:14

We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 1 Cor 2:12

1,2,3. http://www.ucanews.com/2012/09/12/persecution-kills-150000-christians-every-year/
5, 6. http://markmoore.org/resources/essays/acts/persecution.pdf