Wednesday, April 28, 2010

At the risk of making you green with envy...
At the risk of having people show up at my door for food tomorrow night...
At the risk of causing you to abandon your diet...

Please make time to enjoy these seasonal delights. 
You MUST make it a priority, because your time is limited. 
For the next month, eat these foods until you can't stand to have another bite,
because it will be another year before you get to partake again.

Wishing these came from my own patch rather than the grocery store:

Now this is REAL strawberry shortcake:

Strawberry Shortcake
mix together:
2 c. flour
3/4 t. salt
1 T. baking powder
3 T. sugar
then add and cut in with pastry blender:
1/2 c. margarine
make a hole and add:
1 egg
1/2 c. milk

Sir with fork until just blended. (Really, don't stir too much.) Drop onto cookie sheet.
Bake for 12 minutes at 450 degrees, until they are golden brown.

To serve:  Crumble shortcake into a bowl, pour mashed/sugared strawberries over the top, then pour on milk (whole is yummiest) or half & half.  Prepare to experience pure delight. 

--> Ellyn thinks strawberry shortcake can be a dietary staple because 4 food groups are represented:  bread, fruit, dairy, and sugar.  So does my mother, who taught my family and I to eat this three times a day during strawberry season.  Thanks for raising me right, Mom.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Family Breakfast

Breakfast is my favorite meal to make.  I'll make breakfast food for any meal, but I especially love breakfast food for an easy supper.  For the past couple of years we have had family breakfast together on school/work mornings.  We have fruit smoothies every morning. I also make lots of muffins, lots and lots of eggs, and The Pioneer Woman's cinnamon rolls on Fridays--they freeze very well.
I love having the family gathered around the table for a meal, however breakfast is a little more rushed than supper time. I especially appreciate that we've had breakfast together during busy seasons-- this spring we are having supper sitting in bleachers and lawn chairs more than we are having supper around our table.  Sometimes I hate the mess it makes...I'm not that excited about having another meal to clean up every day.  I am trusting that our family sees rewards from this time we spend together--that the time I invest in the kitchen is going to do more than just feed their tummies!

Here is the recipe for the family's favorite breakfast (except PW cinnamon rolls):

Brunch Breakfast Pizza -- found in Quick Cooking about 10 years ago
 1 tube crescent rolls -- press into a greased 9x13 pan
1 lb. browned sausage or 1-2 cups diced ham -- sprinkle over the crust
beat together and pour over the above:
4 eggs
2 T. milk
sprinkle with 1 c. shredded co-jack cheese
Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

for bigger families like mine:
I buy crescent rolls in a "25% more" can, use the next size bigger cake pan, use 7 eggs and 1/4 c. milk

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Spring Beauty

This is such a beautiful time of year.  The beauty of spring causes me to pause and gaze out my windows and to linger in my yard to soak it up.  The trees are blooming in central Iowa and the lavender icing on the redbud branches takes my breath away. 
Of all this beauty, there is nothing that cheers my soul like daffodils.  Since I was a little girl, I have loved daffodils.  The vase on my table is like a bouquet of sunshine.  They call out HOPE!  I have always thought that the shape of their bloom looks like a trumpet or a sort-of mouth... it looks like something that sound could come out of.  I can't help but wonder what daffodils will be like in Heaven.  I know that Heaven will be an amazing place, and that I won't be disappointed with anything as I sit in the presence of Christ. I know that there will be surprises there--so, it would really trip my trigger if daffodils could burst into song and shout for joy! 

Isaiah 49: 13
"Shout for joy, O Heavens; rejoice, O Earth; burst into song, O mountains!"

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Four Years Ago...

Four years ago today, April 15, 2006, my dear youngest brother, Jason, died. 
He was twelve years younger than me. 
He left a hole in our family that can't be filled -- we've just learned how to continue on...
feeling maimed, injured and vulnerable to pain.
But also feeling happy again, because
my family is pretty good at finding sunshine in life.

He loved people and life. He had friends of all ages.
He was wild, dangerous, playful and free-spirited.
Yes, those are real guns.
Jason is on the right.
Look closely in the car...there's a huge dog named Snuf that rode around with them
in this tiny car that day.
His friend Josh (in the middle) drove this car home to Missouri from Montana!

He was young--only 26, and the baby of my family. 
The baby of the family isn't supposed to be the first to go. 

He died with our cousin, Tanner, in a house fire.  Tanner was 23.
They were good friends, cousins, neighbors, and looked almost like twins.

Neither of them was married, which somehow made them
"belong" more to all of us.
Tanner & Jason

We didn't get to say goodbye to them.

I was haunted for weeks,
because I couldn't remember the exact last time I had seen him and what we'd talked about.
(I did remember our last phone call earlier that week about my new mandolin.)
Thankfully, my sister-in-law, Julie reminded me of the time:
a wonderful evening with a bonfire and him playing with the dogs and kids.

Tanner's mom and my mom always put something in the newspaper for their birthdays
and on the anniversary of their death. 
This year it will say:
"Words cannot express how much you're loved and missed."

We buried them beside each other in the cemetery just a couple of miles
from their homes.  The same one I have gone to so many times to bury
relatives and deliver flowers to graves.
They are surrounded by our relatives who've "gone on before."

Favorite thoughts and memories of Jason:

He was the world's greatest uncle to 3 nephews and 3 nieces.
He always had one of them on his lap.
He took them hunting and fishing,
and slept in tents with them.
He bought them Mtn. Dew and Snickers for breakfast,
because uncles can do that!

He loved nature and this Earth.
He had the biggest smile.
He was a hugger.
He called his hair color orange.
His eyes matched my eyes--
we always said we could swap one eye with each other
and no one would notice.

He called me on the phone as often or more than I called him.
(LOVE that about my brothers!)

Favorite pictures
Jason with Brandon and Ellyn:

Jason with my nephew Austin and brother Steve:

Jason with my niece Jessie and Meggan:
(we found this on his camera after he died)

Jason with Ryan:
I've always loved guys in tuxes, especially these 3:
The last picture I took of Jason:

He loved life and lived it to its fullest.
He was kind.
He was fun.

I miss him.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What would you ask for?

I recently read the passage in I Kings, where Solomon takes over as king, following his father, King David, who had grown old.  In a dream, the Lord says to Solomon, "Ask for anything you want me to give you."  Solomon chose wisdom.  God was so pleased with Solomon's choice, that he offers to give him wealth, long life, and honor, in addition to wisdom.

In Luke 18, a blind beggar shouted out to Jesus, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" But those who went before Jesus told him to be quiet.  He just shouted even more! Jesus heard him and stopped and asked, "What do you want me to do for you?" He said, "Lord I want to see."  Jesus healed him immediately, and the beggar followed Jesus, praising God.

If God said, "Ask for anything you want me to give you" or "What do you want me to do for you?" 
what would you say?

Thursday, April 8, 2010


This is the busiest time of year for every family I know.
We are all coming to life after a very long winter--doesn't it feel good!

We have four kids in 4 sports and a really full calendar.  Besides the spring sports, we still have dance, driver's education, church activities, band concerts, piano lessons.  When I enter events in my Blackberry phone, I keep getting this message:

We rely on others to help us get our kids to all their practices, etc. while we drive to a different meet, game, or practice.  Thank you to our friends and neighbors for sharing the driving!

This week we have the first track meets, the first concession stand duty, the first soccer game, the first softball practices, prom and the progressive supper that we are helping to host, our church art show, plus the activities we've already been doing this school year.   Life is full and busy and the weird thing is-- I get more accomplished on weeks like this than I did this winter when I sat around in sweat pants half the day with nothing going on.  Such is life!

However, we can't do anything else, because there's no more room to write anything on the calendar:
*color coded by kid  : )

Monday, April 5, 2010

I love my small town...

I have often told Byron that this little town of Huxley is all the "town" I can handle, since I grew up loving every moment of living in the country. I was surrounded by gravel roads, cow pastures, and fishing ponds. I rode horses with friends for fun, and as I got older I drove the old 4x4 ford truck on the back roads to get to friend's houses. I may or may not have had my driver's license yet.

I have learned to love "town" life with sidewalks, neighbors, and the school and park nearby; something I didn't have growing up. I love the size of our town and the people who live here, and I have no desire to move anywhere else.  I will admit that living between Ames and Des Moines gives me the best of both worlds.

Last week my son Ryan and I got to reap some benefits of our small town life, and the wonderful people who live in towns like ours.

Here is the story...

Ryan is homeschooled, but goes to band at the public school in the next town east.  Some days he rides the bus home after band, which requires changing busses midway through the trip. (Our district has schools in 3 neighboring towns.)  Since the weather was super warm last week, he asked to walk home from the location where he would normally change busses--the high school in our town.  He was hoping to get home a little sooner, rather than ride around town with multiple stops. I said yes and sent him with a note for the bus driver. 

Ryan got off the bus at the high school and headed home on foot, with his clarinet case and band folder/music in hand.  It was a very windy day. Before he'd made it one block, he dropped his folder and the band music became airborne.  As he attempted to gather up all the sheet music that was blowing in the wind, a senior boy who is a friend of our family drove by and witnessed the scene.  Devin pulled over in his car and said, "Dude, you want a ride."  Ryan grabbed all his stuff and got in the car, then Devin dropped him at our house. 

Ryan called me to give me a report, because I was gone to a nearby "big" town with Meggan buying sports equipment for three of the kid's sports this spring, including the shin guards for Ryan's practice that would start in 2 hours.  He was pretty charged emotionally and I could hear the stress in his voice. He told me the terrible story of his music blowing everywhere...right when school was letting out, and that he hadn't made it home with his band lesson book.  Being the sympathetic mother that I am, I ordered him to get on his bike and ride back up to the "scene of the incident" and find the lesson book.  He then screamed into the phone, "Mom, you don't understaaaand! It is sooo windy! My book blew away!" He was dangerously close to a melt down.

I wasn't sure what to do.  I really wanted him to find his band lesson book, but I felt terrible for him. And I wasn't there to help.  I decided to call Devin for an accurate report on the wind conditions and his assessment of whether or not there was any hope of Ryan finding the book.  Devin offered to check his car for the book and then drive back up to the "scene" and look. I was so grateful!  He called me back within a few minutes to say that the book was nowhere to be found.  I called the bus barn and they checked the bus he had been on--still no band book.

Meanwhile, I raced through sporting goods store, raced through the grocery store, raced home and got Ryan into his soccer gear and raced out the door to take him to his first practice.  We couldn't believe our eyes: his band lesson book was on our front door step!  His name was written on the cover, so someone who knew us had found it. We were very happy!  Throughout the weekend, we wondered if we would ever know who the kind person was who delivered Ryan's book.

This Monday morning, my ninth grade daughter sent me a text from school.  One of her classmates, who lives a couple of blocks away from us, asked her if Ryan found his band book on our steps.  While she walked home from school, she had found it and happened to know where we live. 

I love this small town-- a town where people will go out of their way to help others.

We even had someone offer to bring Ryan home after soccer practice (it was in another small town nearby), which helped me out on a very hectic afternoon/evening.

Just call me a small town girl. : )