14 August 2009

*sigh*

It's been awhile. I've missed this blog ~ but I would have otherwise missed much more... This summer has been an unexpected smile. The weather has been quite cordial, reminding me of what I loved of the season when I was [much, much] younger. The days of heat and humidity seemed to be held together only by one hand...sent fleeing at my first inclination toward irritation. And so, as a backdrop to my children's merriment, I have enjoyed the loveliest of fairweather seasons to grace my home in a long, long time.

School doors have opened and I have been busy there. Very, very soon I will meet my new family of twenty or so. I am excited and I hope they will be too. Yesterday at a staff meeting, we were asked to write letters to ourselves from the perspective of a parent. I share it with apology for the spontaneity with which it was written. But more importantly, I share it as a recorded commitment to the young ones who, I know, will have a positive impact on our world someday...

Dear Mrs. Green,

This year I hope you will teach my child as if she were your own. All of the expectations you have for your own children are important for mine as well. I want my child to develop the traits of empathy and self-control, the willingness to take risks and accept the learning that comes from making mistakes, and an appreciation of the world around her. I hope that my child will see you, too, as a learner so that she will realize that learning is a journey without endpoints. Some of the most critical life lessons will occur in your classroom this year. You have an important role in my child's life and it is my prayer that you value that unceasingly. Know that I am sending my best, and I thank you in advance for doing the same. xoxo
And so we begin...

19 July 2009

Here in America

I remember visiting with Rich Mullins years ago as a teen. His advice, written on a note I've kept tucked away somewhere, was simply,
"Be God's."
I love this.

03 July 2009

My Country 'Tis of Thee

Beyond any political persuasion, I am a patriot. The Star Spangled Banner never fails to tug at my heartstrings. Fireworks, barbeque, parades, red white and blue, Old Glory, family and friends, freedom, lemonade and apple pie, corn on the cob, laughter... These I love as a part of my 4th of July celebrations.

Sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.


Some time ago I read a book by Cokie Roberts. I think you might enjoy it... Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation is a testament to the heroines who helped clear the American path. It is astounding, their efforts. (And to think I complain about the heat!) I offer a prayer of gratitude for the blessings I so richly enjoy today.

May you have a healthy, happy, and safe Independence Day.

02 July 2009

Remember When

I am in love...and I want you to see why. Today my sister and I took a drive downtown.


We spent the day with the kids at "The Castle" (and to a three year-old, it truly is).

We are so blessed to be surrounded by such beauty and history, and to be able to share these with the young people we adore.

It was nice to journey back to a time when the weapons of war were a bit less frightening,
and to visit with old friends at the mercantile.

Mr. Samuel Langhorn Clemens even sat for a picture. His friends know him as Mark Twain.
We took a respite in the House Lounge. Thomas Hart Benton's murals are breathtaking. A plaque outside the entrance states, "He painted the Missouri that was familiar to him, convinced that therein lay the reality of the average Missourian."
I suppose that's why we felt so at home.

We then dropped by to visit with another old friend in the office of the Speaker of the House. Beautiful...the office and the friendly faces.
Wishing you many hometown blessings as you prepare to celebrate in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Angel Mother

“A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine dessert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.” ~Washington Irving
Happy Birthday, Mom.
I love you.

29 June 2009

English Lovely

Tonight I said farewell to the last last two finches in the porch nest. So soon they grew to look like miniatures of their parents! Just this morning mom and dad were visiting the nest. Then, this evening as I watered the flowers, I startled the younger ones and they flew away. It was time. Bye, bye birdies...

I have fallen in love all over again with a blog on my 'eye candy' list. Maybe it's the English countryside...or the farm...or the comforts of her home... Whatever the reason, today I am addicted. Won't you visit Bertie Meadows and see for yourself?
Ready to book a flight? Me, too.

Also of note is a new novel I just purchased. My local library is hosting a meet-the-author event in October and I'm reading the current book club selection, The Night Birds, by Thomas Maltman. I've only just begun, but I'm becoming addicted to it as well. I love the historical setting and sense of adventure. You can sneak a peek, too. Just click on the title. Until then...

Sleep tight.

23 June 2009

South of the Border...Ole!

I did it! I received a compliment from my husband about last night's supper. This is a rare treat. (He can't help it...he's honest.) I made another of my "cooking club" meals and this is one that I created! I can't wait for you to try it! The recipe below is designed for six 8"x8" pans. The next time I prepare it for freezing, I'll assemble it in three 9"x13" pans instead...OR you could also divide the ingredients by one-third for a single, 9x13 family-size meal.

Mexican Stuffed Pasta Shells
(again, this recipe is the large-batch version and the instructions are for a plan-ahead-stick-it-in-the-freezer-or-give-it-to-a-friend-in-need type of meal)

90 jumbo pasta shells,
(about 3 boxes)
6 medium onions
6 lbs. lean ground beef
3 Tbsp. chili powder
1 lb. cream cheese,
room temperature
4.5 cups taco sauce
6 cups Colby Jack cheese,
shredded (4 oz.)
3 cups corn chips
six 8" square pans
(or three 9"x13" pans)
12 small zipper bags
(or 6 small bags if using three pans)

Prepare: Cook ground beef and onion. Drain. Cook pasta shells and drain. Package 1 cup of shredded cheese in small zipper bag. Package 1/2 cup corn chips in another small zipper bag.
Assemble: Reheat beef. Stir in chili powder, cream cheese, and 1/3 of the taco sauce. Heat until cream cheese is melted. Spray pans with non-stick spray. Fill each pasta shell with about 2 tablespoons of meat mixture and place in pan. Pour 2/3 of taco sauce over filled shells. Cover with foil. Add one bag of cheese and one bag of chips and store meal kit in a gallon-size freezer bag.
Serve: Thaw. Bake covered at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese and chips. Bake uncovered for 10 additional minutes. Garnish with green onion and sour cream. Enjoy!
Hint: If freezing this dinner, you may wish to add additional taco, enchilada, or tomato sauce over the dish to completely cover noodles. This should prevent the noodles from drying out.
And for dessert...

These Farmstand Candles from Wal Mart are, in a word, delicious! I'm in love with the Sugared Pears and Fresh Picked Apples. And the timeworn look of the canisters reminds me of yesterdays at Grandma's house in the country.

On another note...
Recently my family journeyed to Eureka Springs, Arkansas. The scenery was beautiful. If you go, you must stop by Wilson & Wilson Folkart Co. The owner, Ms. Blakeley Wilson, is a ray of sunshine! She is a self-taught artist who paints in-shop. Her folk art pieces are amazing! (Click on the link, visit "shop online" and read About the Artist.) Here are a few sweet treats I picked up during my visit... The watering can will hold a glass vase or jar so you can enjoy fresh flowers anytime. And the polka dot, large wooden mug...I can't wait to fill it with sweet surprises for my classroom visitors!

And this sweet pillow made from old quilts and scrap fabric reminds me that there really is
no place like home.

Happiness

After an enjoyable, l-e-n-g-t-h-y spring, summer has ARRIVED in the midwest. Today's heat index is 110 degrees, and to step outside is to step into a sweltering sauna of humid air. It takes my breath away at the mention of it! Summer is my least favorite season for this reason...I abhor sweat, mosquitoes, followed by even more sweat and mosquitoes. And yet I have titled this post 'Happiness'. I am turning over a new leaf, or at least trying. I'm going to sit in the air conditioning and dream of fall (and winter and, yes, snow!), all while appreciating the joys that even I can find during summertime.
First ~ Very soon the little guests in my flower basket will soar to new heights and leave my front porch for good. I have enjoyed getting to know them. I have tried often to photograph them before they go, but as there were six in the nest, it has been very difficult to capture them distinctly with the camera. The little birds continue to huddle together and I cannot be certain that all of them remain. I am sure, though, that there are at least three sweet house finches growing and preparing to grace my yard with their presence. I will miss visiting them everyday.

Second ~ I love a good thunderstorm... the sounds, the lightning across the sky, the smell of the coming rain. Just last week my daughter called me outdoors to see the sun. It was my favorite time of day...dusk...and I couldn't imagine there was any sun left to see. While she saw the rays etched against the coming night, I saw the clouds bringing the anticipated storm. Both encouraged a smile.

Next ~ For all of my married life I have been quite hopeless in the kitchen. I have yet to find my niche there. Recently some great friends and I gathered for 'cooking club', also known as 'freezer cooking'. The goal is to prepare meals and have them ready in the freezer when needed. (Can you sense my excitement?) We each chose two recipes, and made and assembled enough of each for six families. It was my first foray into this type of sorority and honestly, I'm questioning whether or not the meals are sizeable enough to feed my family. (An 8x8 pan doesn't hold much...especially not in this household.) But I love, love, love the idea of sharing recipes and good times AND having some meals prepared ahead of time (so I don't have to ponder... What in the world am I going to cook tonight?) Here is a tasty recipe for you. Make ahead and freeze if you'd like! Multiply it and share with your neighbor in need. *Smile*

Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 medium onion, chopped
3 Tbsp. garlic
1 Tbsp. oil
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
28 ounces crushed tomatoes
1 cup corn
1 can (14 oz.) kidney beans,
rinsed and drained
4 ounces green chopped green chilis
1 can (14 oz.) black beans,
rinsed and drained
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
2 or 3 boneless, skinless checken breasts,
cooked and cubed
1 can chicken broth
1 can water

(Note: You may wish to reduce the amount of cilantro added unless you like a strong cilantro flavor to your dishes.)

Saute onion and garlic in oil. Add everything else (chili powder, Italian seasoning, tomatoes, corn, beans, chilis, cilantro, chicken, broth and water) and stir. [If freezing, place these ingredients into a one-gallon freezer bag. Save chicken broth and water for use during reheating... Add to thawed soup mixture.] Bring to a boil and simmer for 15-25 minutes. Ladle into serving bowls and garnish with avacado, grated Colby Jack cheese, chopped green onion or crushed tortilla chips if desired. Enjoy!

Finally ~



"The Amen of nature is always a flower."
-Oliver Wendell Holmes

13 June 2009

Welcome to the World

I confess. I've been keeping a secret! For the past three days (or so) baby finches have snuggled soundly in their nest on my porch. I noticed them quite by accident. As I lowered the planter to water the flowers (and not drown the eggs), I became frighteningly aware that something was in the nest. Upon closer inspection, it was apparent that this something was baby birds. I had expected to see small birds, beaks open, eagerly awaiting lunch. (My experience with newborns is limited to human beings.) I worried that something was wrong... They were little pink things with no feathers and the biggest, unopened, eyes. (I think the phrase, "a face that only a mother could love" originated with this species...but what adorable creatures they become!) And so, I am waiting for my new friends to grow a bit more before I take their picture and share it with you. Interestingly, like all good fathers, the male finch is attentive to the female during nesting, and he helps to care for the young before they fledge.

As I continue to watch this family of finches interact and as Father's Day approaches, I am especially grateful to my husband. His steadfast love and encouragement of our children is priceless. My prayer for you is that your children are likewise blessed.

"Father! - to God himself we cannot give a holier name."
~William Wordsworth

10 June 2009

Gratitude

I so appreciate your sweet comments about my new adventures in blogging. Thank you, too, for your thoughts regarding my template and banner efforts. It's exciting to learn what you can do with a free download of Paint.Net and a cache of random, public domain, clip art images! I am also enjoying playing with my digital camera again. I turn the dials (with no clear direction) and sometimes get lucky enough to snap a photo worth posting. Each layer used to create the header is a symbolic representation of someone special to me, or of a cherished memory. While you see an artistic banner ~ I see a childhood, a mother and father, a spring garden with grandparents...and I can even hear a bit of piano music playing from years ago. (Yes, the imagery is even there for that as well.) I hope you, too, find a way to capture all that you love, so that someday when these pass from your presence or simply fade away, some small memory will linger...and bring a smile to your heart.

09 June 2009

Return

Sickness has been the pervasive theme in our household for nearly a week. I suppose that's one advantage of having a summer break...the sickleave used is simply that of your own time. The ability to sleep in, with no one to whom I must report, has been a gift. And so now I return...

...to a house that really needs some tender-loving, germ-fighting care. I am also wondering about 'my' birds. As of a two days ago, six eggs remained in the nest. I have not been able to return for an update. Tomorrow. Surely tomorrow I will see six young finches-?

...and to mothering my children with more efficiency than I've been able to elicit recently, compliments of the flu. Tonight I slipped outdoors to watch some of my favorite people in the world chase fireflies. It was a rainy day here which made their dark silhouettes dance stark before trees of the truest emerald ...all of which played on a curtain of a dark and hazy, thundering sky.

And that reminds me of a story. When Lightning Comes in a Jar

If you have not met Patricia Polacco, I hope you will become acquainted. She is the author and illustrator of the most incredible stories for children (both young and old), and they originate from her own experiences and memories. Just click on the links for a visit! And speaking of the weather, check out Thunder Cake while you're there. Enjoy!

03 June 2009


This morning as I began to prune geraniums, a small house finch abruptly flew from a hanging planter on the porch. I quickly learned the reason why.

Worried about upsetting the nest (whose parentage was anxiously twittering across the yard), I left certain spoiled blooms intact.

In order to see birds it is necessary to become part of the silence.

- Robert Lynd

Upon closer inspection you might notice the faintest horizontal crack forming midway across the centermost egg in the clutch. I wonder what tomorrow will bring...?


31 May 2009

Heartland

Today was rather warm and although I am inclined to complain about this (and the gathering mosquitoes), I'll instead count my blessings... The morning began with a prayer, Matthew 6:33: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
Then came my favorite drink...

Fortunately, those who have never enjoyed the infinite fruits of Central Dairy don't know what they're missing. For those who have, but have moved away...well, you're longing for it still. (Click on the link to visit the dairy. What a treat!) As for me, I know what "fresh as a Missouri morning" really means.
Church today was a blessing...It had escaped me that today was Pentecost Sunday (see Acts 2) and minister Harland did a fabulous job of reminding us of the birthday of the church. And doesn't a good sermon always work up an appetite?

Check out this month's edition of Missouri Life magazine!
And even though I prepare for bed as my chores remain but works in progress, I am thankful to live in the Heartland...so much that I prolonged my late night trip to the store in order to detour and snap this picture for you.

Missouri Waltz
~J. R. Shannon

Hush-a-bye, ma baby, slumbertime is comin' soon;
Rest yo' head upon my breast while Mommy hums a tune;
The sandman is callin' where shadows are fallin',
While the soft breezes sigh as in days long gone by.

Way down in Missouri where I heard this melody,
When I was a little child upon my Mommy's knee;
The old folks were hummin'; their banjos were strummin';
So sweet and low.

Strum, strum, strum, strum, strum,
Seems I hear those banjos playin' once again,
Hum, hum, hum, hum, hum,
That same old plaintive strain.

Hear that mournful melody,
It just haunts you the whole day long,
And you wander in dreams back to Dixie, it seems,
When you hear that old time song.

Hush-a-bye ma baby, go to sleep on Mommy's knee,
Journey back to Dixieland in dreams again with me;
It seems like your Mommy is there once again,
And the old folks were strummin' that same old refrain.

Way down in Missouri where I learned this lullaby,
When the stars were blinkin' and the moon was climbin' high,
Seems I hear voices low, as in days long ago,
Singin' hush-a-bye.

29 May 2009

Missing Appalachia

It's been awhile since I left the
mountains. It was only a brief encounter,
but I left behind a piece (or two or three) of my heart. It beats with a
longing until I return...
"History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail
of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of
former days." -Winston Churchill

27 May 2009

I love an old house...a really old house--say, 225 years old or so. Someday I'll build my 'old' house and have been looking at the plans of McKie Roth. I am not a purist, though. To me, a strict adherance to a particular period makes a statement. I like making statements (believe me, I do), but in my home, I want to tell a story...The layers of years added by a family create the history that blankets us in remembrances.

Most recently I've taken comfort in the simpler days of my childhood, and those of my mother and grandmothers. Perhaps this is why I feel so welcome at Aunt Ruthie's Sugar Pie Farmhouse. It truly is down-home goodness with a scent of warm pie.


25 May 2009

"Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13
Remembering my father, Carl J. Sanders,
on Memorial Day.
1941 - 2008
This was the one verse highlighted in his small black Bible, given to him by the United States Navy during his service.
USS Franklin D. Roosevelt, Cuban Missile Crisis.

27 April 2009

Once upon a time--
My father was a giant…and I, a small child whose hand was easily lost in his.
When I was a little girl, my father was a king…and I was his princess.
He was a character…a jovial man who played yo-yo, the fiddle, and enjoyed water fights. I was the little one who laughed.
Years ago my father was a chef. His chili warmed the cold evenings of winter. I remember this still.
When I was young, my father was a carpenter. He created treasures with his hands from blocks of wood. These gifts are with
me even today.
A long time ago, my father was a teacher. I learned important things from him, like buying just one pair of shoes is never en
ough.
As a child my father was invincible, but as I grew older, I knew that someday I would have to say good-bye.
But once upon a time, my father was a giant and I was his child, and nothing will ever take that away.

22 April 2009

"Our days are numbered. One of the primary goals in our lives should be to prepare for our last day. The legacy we leave is not just in our possessions but in the quality of our lives. What preparations should we be making now? The greatest waste in all of our earth, which cannot be recycled or reclaimed, is our waste of the time God has given us each day."
-Billy Graham

20 April 2009

She had a curious sense of her own roots
twined about the old house.
-Alice Tisdale Hobart

I found this quote on a blog, My Messy, Thrilling Life. Brin is living a Freeman House dream. I want to as well.

01 January 2009

OUT through the fields and the woods
And over the walls I have wended;
I have climbed the hills of view
And looked at the world, and descended;
I have come by the highway home,
And lo, it is ended.

The leaves are all dead on the ground,
Save those that the oak is keeping
To ravel them one by one
And let them go scraping and creeping
Out over the crusted snow,
When others are sleeping.

And the dead leaves lie huddled and still,
No longer blown hither and thither;
The last lone aster is gone;
The flowers of the witch-hazel wither;
The heart is still aching to seek,
But the feet question ‘Whither?’

Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
To yield with a grace to reason,

And bow and accept the end
Of a love or a season?


-Robert Frost