Sunday, November 30, 2008

the pine... like a fine wine


Today, we took in the tradition, as did many others, of going into a field and cutting down a tree to bring into our home and decorate for the sake of Christmas. After scouring the field to make sure that we hadn't missed the perfect tree, we debated between what might have been appeared to be 5 of the exact same tree.

We saw a couple perusing the various pines. They would examine the tree. They would grab the trunk and give it a sturdy shake. They would lean in, grasp a branch and smell.

I wonder if they are wine aficionados too...

I wonder if they know something we don't...

In order to be "the tree" it must be
1)tall enough (and as previous years have taught, not too tall)
2) full enough, but not too full... there has to be room for our many ornaments to hang nicely
3) good shape, even sided cone shape
4) little to no dead branches

Once decided, Noah and Daddy set to work to bring that tree down. Our saw was pretty dull. Noah was so excited about helping to cut down the tree that he quickly volunteered to run back to the front of the farm to get another saw. We waited patiently...

... for a little while...

... then not so patiently...


video

(sorry you'll have to tilt your head)


(note to self, don't turn the camera while taking video)


I have memories of covering every inch of the tree farm when I was a kid, to find the tree that was just right. So, what makes the tree "THE TREE" for you? Do you go to a lot for your tree or are you a "u" cutter?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Winter to Spring

I found this in a box under my bed. I've got pictures of the windows somewhere, but will have to share them with you who haven't seen them another time.

June 16, 1996 was the Dedication and Receiving of Ann Dedrick Memorial Windows. The designer read the following at the morning service:

When Reverend Johnson called to see if I would be interested in designing the windows, he described the project as a set of sanctuarydoors which were to be a memorial to Ann Dedrick.... I first drove up to Horseheads from Connecticut in late October of last year. I had never been to this part of New York before and as I drove North and then West on Route 17, I was struck by the spectacular beauty of the hills and the valleys. Distant vistas alternated with close-to- the-road splashed of color from shrubs and wildflowers. There were still lovely fall colors but many leaves had fallen and you could definitely sense the change of the seasons and the approach of November.

I met with Alan Dedrick and Reverend Johnson here at the church and I learned about Ann Dedrick. I learned that Ann loved nature and the out-of-doors; easily understandable having just witnessed the beauty on my drive in. Church designers often think in terms of symbols and I believe it was at this point that the symbolism of seasonal changes in nature, part of God's creation, seemed an appropriate symbol for the seasons of Ann's life - and that what first appears to be the dying of winter is, in fact, the fertile ground from which life springs anew.

Psalm 121 then came into my mind. Over time I explored the possibility of other psalms and prayers but Psalm 121 seemed the best expression of a life live in faith and the knowledge that the soul "shall be preserved." The psalm begins "I will lift mine eyes unto the hills, whence cometh my help" and ends with the verse: "The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth and even forevermore." ...

...winter to me represents the first of seasons; the time when the earth rests and is replenished by the snow....


These words seem to be almost even prophetic, as I look at my life now. We can never know, as we are in the midst of life, the impact our actions will have. So I pray to God for wisdom, knowing that what I do may impact generations.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving Prayer

God, thank you for your grace and peace.

thank you that have chosen me, even before you made the world, you chose me to love and chose me to be made holy by your love.

thank you for your sovereign plan, that you chose me to be your adopted child.

thank you that in your kindness, you purchased my freedom and forgave my sins.

thank you that you shower me with your wisdom and understanding, and your loving kindness.

thank you for letting me in on the secret

thank you that, because of Jesus, I HAVE received your inheritance.

thank you for the Holy Spirit, your guarantee of everything promised.



I am doing a bible study that encouraged listing all the spiritual blessings we have in Christ as listed in Ephesians 1:1-14. I realized, those words speak to me (and every believer) to see how the Creator feels about me.

2 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. 4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. 6 So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. 7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. 8 He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

9 God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure. 10 And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. 11 Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.

12 God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God. 13 And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. 14 The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.


In Matthew 11, Jesus says to "take on (his) yoke...let (him) teach you because (he) is humble and gentle at heart ..." I want him to teach me, to change my heart. sooooo... what is getting in the way?

It is really so much of myself. I can list of a myriad of things that would interrupt my faith, but the root of them all is my selfishness.

When I can start seeing myself as the possessor of all of these spiritual blessings, then I will / am beginning to see the fruit of Jesus' teaching. And it is nothing that I am doing or not doing, it is simply receiving.

I have already received his inheritance.

I'm usually too proud to realize that I could be like the prodigal, squandering the gifts of my father, after I begged to receive that inheritance before the due time. But it is true.

God has given me his grace and salvation and I have taken it for granted.

and still, the moment I am ready to come into his household, he runs to me and embraces me, and celebrates.

I have so much to be thankful for.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Always more fun to share with everyone

Noah, our oldest, celebrated his first birthday with 50+ of our closest friends, and acquaintances, as they all tried to find a small corner to stand in our not quite big enough living room. I have a hard time choosing who to include when we have a party, and at that time I was in the mentality of "invite everyone" and assumed that not EVERYONE would come. I have been coming to terms with the need to change this tendency, more than anything else for practical reasons... well, that and the fact that no one year old is really in such desperate need that they should receive over 50 birthday presents. My apologies if you never got a thank you note....

So we are learning to have smaller and more intimate parties. But for some reason, birthdays tend to be celebrated over about a 10 day period. Not planned, but it just happens. With Maggy and Noah's birthday's being only 10 days apart, they will just need to learn to share... not a problem!

Here is a collection of photos from some of the celebrations:

video

Starting with Maggy's birthday, October 29th. Our daughter enjoyed blueberry pancakes for breakfast and a dinner of apples, hotdogs and Grandpa Dedrick's chocolate cookies. What 1 year old wouldn't totally love that?!

Then a benchmark, that is something of a sign of our times: the new perspective gained by riding in a forward facing car seat! She is less likely to zonk out for the necessary naps when we are "on the go" but I love seeing the smiles in my review mirror!

The following weekend was Halloween, which certainly does seem to be a party in and of itself.

Noah's "friends" party at Out of This World Pizza and Play was November 1st. It is one of our new favorite places to go. The kids can run around for hours, and seemingly, never tire of the activities (inflatable obstical courses, 3 story play structure, rock wall, scooters, etc) ... despite the impressive lack of electronic stimulus. The highlight of this get together was PJ and Aunt Cathe driving the 2 hours from Grande Ronde, Oregon to be at the party. What a gift! Noah and PJ always have such great fun together.

The following weekend, we were blessed to have Grandma and Grandpa come and stay at our house for a night! Waking up on the 9th, Noah's actual birthday, the kids enjoyed Italian Sodas for breakfast with baked French Toast. After church, we met Grandma and Grandpa Vertner back at Out of This World, with a few of the cousins for a family celebration.
My wonderful and talented friend Dori made more beautiful cakes in honor of our kids, and this angel in honor of our angel, Maggy. She also crafted a grass covered tree house for Noah, since he's become such a fan of the Mary Pope Osborne "Magic Tree House" book series. I am always floored at the beauty and complexity of her creations... and how she manages to get them transported so flawlessly!

I haven't specifically established a birthday tradition, but it is hard not to keep the celebration going on and on. Although, I am getting better about finding ways to do it with out spending a fortune. It is so tempting to turn a birthday into an excuse for a materialistic fiasco, which will only establish the wrong heart in our kids. My children have been such a blessing to me and my husband, they bring us such joy and, in a way, teach us and cause us closer to where God is calling us.


Do you have traditions for your children's birthdays? Share, please.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Expirencing Technical Difficulties

Hello my beloved readers....

Thanks for checking in on the house of homer.... my personal laptop is currently experiencing some technical difficulties, thus making my normal blog-banter a little more challenging. I hope to return in the next day or two with something fun and exciting, or at least entertaining for you to read or look at.

Thank you


*** This is not a real emergency, if it were a real emergency, this message would be followed by whoops, screams, screeching and general mayhem. I'm so glad we don't have to see that!*****

Monday, November 17, 2008

Fallish Feast for the girls

Last Friday night I hosted a girls night and it was the perfect excuse to put out a spread.

The Fallish Feast:


Appetizers
Strawberry Daiquiris:

A dozen ice cubes
2 cups whole frozen strawberries
1/4 cup limade concentrate
1/3 cup spiced rum

Blend and enjoy

White Wines - "3 blind moose chardonnay 2006" and "Sutter Home Muscato 2007"

Cheese Plate

Rosemary and Olive Oil Triscuits
Sliced Tilamook Medium Cheddar & Vintage Sharp White Cheddar
Bon Appetite Cheese Ball

2-8oz packages of Cream Cheese softened
6 green onions, chopped
1 tbs McCormicks "Bon Apettite" Seasoning
1 tsp dry mustard
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
1/4 cup dry sweet cranberries
Combine cream cheese, onions, Bon Apettite and mustard with hand mixer. Use spatula to form ball in bowl. Lay out a sheet of saran wrap or wax paper, lay out almonds and cranberries in even layer on wrap. Place ball on top and roll cheese to coat. Can be formed into a ball or a log. Refridgerate for at least 3 hours before serving.

Dinner
Salad

Baby greens, sliced grape tomatoes, candied walnuts, gorgonzola cheese, served with Wishbones Raspberry Hazelnut Vinegrette.
Candied Walnuts

2 cups whole walnuts, 2 tbs butter, 2 tbs brown sugar, toss in fry pan over medium high heat for 5 minutes until blended. Dried on baking stone

Apple Butternut Squash Soup - from Cornell Dining (thank you DAD)

1/4 cup butter (or oil)
1 medium onion, diced
2 tsp curry powder
1 butternut squash
1 Granny Smith Apple
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 cups water
3 cups fresh apple cider

Sautee onions in butter and curry powder. Peel, deseed and chunk squash and apple and add to onions. Add enough water to cover, boil for 30 minutes or until tender. Puree with immersion blender. Return to pot, add apple cider. Heat and serve. Garnish with Candied Walnuts if you like.

Cranberry Chicken
2 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken
1/4 Cup butter
1 medium onion julienned
1/2 cup sugar
1 bag fresh cranberries, pick through to remove flawed and spoiled berries

Arrange chicken in baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook onions in butter until soft and starting to brown. Add sugar and cranberries. Cook over medium-high heat until sauce begins to gel. Pour over chicken. Cook at 400 degrees until done - about 30-45 minutes.

Desert

Hazelnut Pumpkin Cheesecake
(adapted from Cooking Pleasures Magazine - Nov 2006 Pumpkin-Praline Cheesecake)

Cook 2 small pie pumpkins, and puree pulp (2-3 cup yield) / 1 can Libby's Pumpkin. Can be done in advance and refrigerated.

Crust
2 cups crushed Vanilla Wafer cookies
1 cup chopped and toasted hazelnuts
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
Combine ingredients and press into the bottom of buttered spring form pan. Cook at 350 degrees for 10 minute. Cool on rack

Cheesecake

3-8 oz packages cream cheese, softened
2-3 cups pureed pumpkin.
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
4 eggs

Wrap bottom of spring form pan with heavy duty foil. Heat oven to 300 degrees. Either process ingredients in food processor or use mixer. Blend cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Add pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg and blend thoroughly. Add two eggs at a time and blend till combined. Pour over cooled crust. Place spring form pan in shallow baking dish and fill pan with enough hot water to cover the bottom half of the cheesecake pan. Bake 60-75 minutes until edges are puffed and top is dry to the touch. Center will move slightly but not ripple. Remove cake from water bath, remove foil. Cook on wire rack for 1 hour.

Topping
1/2 cup packed brown sugar.
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted hazelnuts

Heat brown sugar and cream in small saucepan over medium heat until dissolved, stirring constantly lead. Reduce heat to medium low. Simmer 5 minutes or until thick. Remove from heat, stir in nuts. Pour over cheesecake. Move Cheesecake to refrigerator for 6-8 hours or overnight.
Pumpkin Pie Lattes at home

8 oz fresh brewed coffee
2 tbs Toriani Pumpkin Pie syrup (or 4 pumps)
1/4 cup steamed milk (milk heated in shallow sauce pan, stirring while heated until just barely boiling)

If you get a chance to try out any of these recipes, I'd love to hear how it turns out for you. The soup felt a little bit like a risk, but was a very pleasant surprise.

My soup will be linked at But I Had a Tiara's Soups on Saturday, go here and see the other soups listed, including JC's Pumpkin Chili!


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans' Day

Generally Veterans Day has meant for me a day off of work or school, and it has always been, as long as I can recall, my brother's birthday. (Happy Birthday Bob)

The Lord has set on my heart to meditate on our observed holiday. We are so quick to take for granted the freedoms to which we are entitled as Americans. And how easily we forget the price that has been paid time and time again to establish and maintain those freedoms.

To those who have served, thank you. Know that your willing hearts and sacrifices make a difference on this earth and in eternity.

Jesus said

I command you to love each other in the same way that I love you. And here is how to measure it--the greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends.
John 15:12&13

God bless our soldiers and veterans, not just today but every day. Protect them and draw them nearer to you.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Lazy for a mom of 4

I really feel like I'm having a lazy morning.



I had a sick daughter who needed me 4 times throughout the night last night, so as I started to wake up I made a decision to sleep that extra 20 minutes, which would inevitably mean that I stay in my PJs until an opportune time for a shower, generally around 10 or 11. I'm OK with that. I am actually enjoying it today.

It's just that since school started for us, sometime between the end of August and beginning of October, I have been making a concentrated effort to have structured schedules and to-do lists and sticking to them. If you don't know me, you should realize that this is very contrary to my nature. Never the less, it is something that I desire to become disciplined about.

With all four kids working their way through the same virus over the last 10 days, we have spent more time than normal doing lazy activities.

I thought I might share with you how lazy is defined for a Mom with 4 little kids.

  • Wake, throw on a sweatshirt and fresh deodorant.
  • Greet my boys and husband, just as husband's car pool arrives in the drive way - rush him to get out the door, banana and vitamin water in hand.
  • Empty the clean dishwasher
  • Make a quick batch of pancakes (from a mix, no time for scratch these days), a small bowl of instant oatmeal (from scratch mix made a few days earlier), two cups of herbal tea for the kids with sore throats and a cup of French Press coffee for myself.
  • Administer various medicine and home remedies in hopes of kicking the bug sooner than later (Dear GOD we have to be done with this soon, right?!)
  • Camp out for a episode or two of Gargoyles season 1 DVD with the kids
  • Game of 10,000 (dice game) with Noah
  • Get Maggy down for a nap
  • Cuddle with Hannah
  • Load the sinkful of dirty dishes in the dishwasher
  • Run upstairs to resupply a binkie and sooth Maggy back to sleep, convinced that she didn't really nap.
  • Go to Facebook profile and update status as "Sarah is having a lazy morning."

I guess "lazy" means something different to me than it used to.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Clean your windows

My sweet friend, Pauline, sent me this in an email today:

Sometimes things aren't what they appear to be.

A young couple moves into a new neighborhood.
The next morning, while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees the neighbor hang up the wash outside.

'That laundry is not very clean, she said, she doesn't know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs another laundry soap."

The husband looked on, but remained silent. Every time her neighbor would hang out the wash, the young woman would make the same comment.

About a month later, the woman was surprised to see a nice clean wash onthe line and said to her husband, 'Look! she has learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this?

Her husband said, 'I got up early this morning and washed the windows.

And so it is with life: What we see while watching others, depends on the purity of the window through which we look.

I wonder if today I will be pedaling laundry soap or cleaning my windows...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Not as funny for you

My apologies to all viewed the previous video, maybe you just had to be there.

Youthful One was correct, the PT cruiser's rear wiper was broken and running, but only wiping the trunk below the window and not the window at all.

And yes Dad, I did take that video while driving :-o... but its no worse than using a cell phone while driving. I still had my eyes on the road, it was just through the camera display screen AND I was still holding the wheel.

(ok, now I feel guilty, I won't take any more video while driving. Especially knowing it doesn't really show what I was trying to show anyway!)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Ever have one of those days?

I saw this driving down the road yesterday and just had to grab my camera...


video



I could come up with so many metaphors for this, but mostly just found it funny.

Ham-N-Clam Chowder - Soups on Saturday

I took two recipes and combined them for this hearty and rich Clam Chowder.

The Betty Crocker "New Cookbook" provides a very basic "New England Clam Chowder recipe. This recipe called for Bacon, which I substituted with Ham. Through our CSA farm share this summer, Vicki from Sungold Farm provided a delicious Potato and Leak Soup. The two are paired deliciously!


1/2 stick butter
3 leeks, thinly sliced (rinse in tub of cold water to remove dirt between the layers)
1 medium or large onion, chopped
1 small banana pepper minced
1 cup diced cooked ham
2 small (6 oz) cans of minced clams (reserve clam broth)
6 - 8 red potatoes, thinly sliced (no need to peel)
4 cups chicken broth (or enough to barely cover potatoes)
1 cup heavy cream
salt to taste
fresh ground black pepper to taste

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat then add onions, leeks and banana pepper. Cook, stirring, until onions are limp and just slightly brown. Add Ham, Clams and clam broth. Add sliced potatoes to saucepan then pour in enough chicken broth to just barely cover the potatoes. Continue cooking over medium heat until potatoes are tender. Using a potato masher, mash and stir potatoes until desired consistency is reached. As you mash the potatoes and the soup thickens, turn down heat and stir frequently with a large spoon to prevent scorching on the bottom. Add one cup of heavy cream (or more if you desire) and salt and black pepper to taste. Cook 15 minutes more over low heat, stirring frequently, then remove from heat and serve

I really have to give most of the credit to Vicki on this recipe... I just added the meat. For more soup recipes, go to But I had a Tiara's Soup's on Saturday.