Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Baking corn muffins in cast iron pans

My husband loves his cast iron pans! He's already got a collection of them, but every time he goes to a thrift store, he looks for more. He bought cactus and corn on the cob muffin pans for under $5 at our local Goodwill. It was quite the bargain.

I cleaned them up and "seasoned" them, which means I rubbed vegetable oil on them and let them bake in a hot oven for about an hour or so. Then, I let them cool before I made corn muffins.

So, what are the benefits of using cast iron? It cooks your food evenly; it virtually lasts forever; and, it's healthier for you. Over time, non-stick pans lose their coating, which goes into your food. We are planning to remove our non-stick cook ware and replace it with more cast iron and stainless steel pots and pans in the near future.

The muffins that I made came out so well in our new cast iron muffin pans. We ate a few of them up last night with our meal, and we'll be eating them again tonight! They came out really light and crispy around the edges. I got the following recipe from Camp Ironwood's cookbook called, Come and Dine.

Cornbread Muffins

3/4 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup melted margarine

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine the dry ingredients thoroughly. Add all moist ingredients at once; mix just until moistened with large lumps gone. Grease pan(s) or use paper cupcake liners. (If you're using cast iron, spray it with canola oil cooking spray.) Bake muffins for 10-15 minutes, until set and golden. Yield: 12 muffins

Monday, June 29, 2009

Teen Singspirations

We enjoy our teen singspirations very much! We have them several times during the year. We divide the teens by having some singspirations just for the jr. high and others for the high school. Teen parents get involved by hosting them in their homes. They provide a meal, then we share testimonies and sing praises to God.

Last night, Q and I hosted a jr. high singspiration in our small condo. We had quite the crew--12 of them plus our intern, all trying to squeeze into our living room. We ate pizza, chips and cake (all super foods for very hungry teenagers!). Quentin had each of them pick a song to sing and he asked for testimonies between songs. He ended our time together with an encouragement from God's Word. This is always a neat time for fellowship, as well as a good time to honor and praise God with our voices.

When I was a teen, our church would host these after an evening service. Sometimes, we had them church-wide. I've even heard of town-wide "hymn-sings." Isn't that awesome? Do any of you participate in things like this?

One of my favorite passages about singing is found in Psalm 104:33-34:

"I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord."

Isn't it true that when we sing of the Lord, we fill our minds with thoughts of Him? So, go ahead--sing away! It doesn't matter how good of a voice you have. God's Word  says to "make a joyful noise." Sing a hymn, a verse or your favorite Sunday School song. Do some extra singing during your family devotions, before a meal, or while you clean. The key is to just praise God with your voice.

He's waiting to listen....

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Vitamin and Medicine storage

My closest friends and family will tell you that I love organization. I thought for the longest time that I could be on the show, Clean Sweep--not as the one that needs help (although I do have clutter problems now and then), but to help those people clean things out! It's one of those things that I like doing to relax or need a break from more tedious tasks.

For a while I was getting a little annoyed by our vitamin and medicine box. We keep this in a cupboard in the kitchen so that we can take these when we eat. You see, Q and I have vitamins from the same company, so they look so much alike from the top. I'd lift one out and find out that it wasn't mine, but his. I'd do this a few times until I found my own. Then, it hit me--why not label the tops of the bottles to save time? I used a black permanent marker and wrote our initials on the lids. I've been doing this for a few months now, and it's been great! There are some medicines that Q takes that are diabetes-related. Most of the time, I don't have prescription meds, but when I do, I label those as well.

How do you organize your supply of vitamins and medications? I would love to hear your ideas. I love organization at its best! 

Saturday, June 27, 2009

My Garden: Taking a look at the progress...

After dinner last night, Q and I made a visit to our garden at the Steele's home.

We were amazed at how well all of the vegetables are doing. It was so encouraging! We are thankful to Sam and Creta for helping us learn how to garden. Q and Sam get together every once in a while to weed and tend to the plants.

My tomato plants are so much bigger than they were a few weeks ago. Hooray!

While we were there, we decided to take home some rhubarb. I was amazed at how big they really are close up! I'll be doing some thing with it this coming week and I can't wait!

We also took home some radishes and lettuce. We spent some time washing everything. Q cut up the rhubarb into small chunks so that they're ready for cooking.

Roses surround the Steele's property. Before we left, they showed us all the varieties and colors that they have. Before we knew it, they were cutting some for us to take home. Q is the flower arranger in our home, so he found one of our wedding reception vases and arranged these gorgeous roses inside. Aren't they awesome?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Elizabeth's new skirt

The last time I watched Elizabeth I was given a piece of fabric to make her and her doll matching skirts. The fabric was a long pillow case (used for a body pillow) that her mom didn't need anymore. I was happy to finish this for Elizabeth today.

She was so excited when I said it was time for her and her doll to try on the skirts! I used Simplicity pattern 9854 as a guide, then added pockets and ribbon to embellish them.

I had her twirl with her doll and this is the picture I got. Isn't she adorable?

I told her she could put things in her pockets. She started off by putting toy cars in, but those were taking too much space. I then gave her pennies and buttons. She placed them in her pockets and made sure her baby doll had some in hers.

The doll skirt was so fun to make. I made it exactly like Elizabeth's except that I didn't make a casing for the elastic. I just stitched it on the inside of the top of the skirt.

With a bit of time left before she was picked up today, I made this doll pillow using the same fabric. I had a Tempurpedic cushion sample and the size was perfect for this. Elizabeth's baby doll will now be comfortable for bed time. ;)

Sewing is so rewarding when you see the recipient enjoying what you made. What have you made lately for someone special in your life?

Peanut Butter Playdough

I took care of 2-year-old Elizabeth for two days this week in my home. We did lots of fun activities--including play dough!

She helped me make these ducks and I made the water waves beneath them.

I showed her how to flatten the dough and how to use the animal cookie cutters. She loved it! After a while, I saw her put a piece of it in her mouth and I told her that was not good. So, I decided to make peanut butter play dough for some extra fun. Not only does it work well with little hands, but it's edible, too.

After she watched me make the dough, we put it on the table and had a blast with it! Here's the recipe for you to try. I used the Wal-mart brand of  powdered milk. It is not as fine in texture like other brands. Although it turned out well, another brand of milk will mix in better.

Peanut Butter Play dough (from COOKS.COM)

1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup powdered milk
3 tablespoons honey

Mix all ingredients together. Form play dough into shapes. After you play with it, eat it! You can store left overs in a ziplock bag. There is no need for refrigeration.

After I told her she could eat some, she kept nibbling at it as we played. I had some, too, and it tastes like peanut butter cookie dough. Yum! (Oh--and it's better for you since it has honey in it and doesn't have any raw eggs!) 

Have fun playing with the kids in your life!:)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

My Garden: the wildflower update

The wildflower seeds that we planted are growing more and more all the time. We've had a mixture of rain and sun lately--so wonderful for growing plants.

I can't wait to see what happens with these flowers. Right now they are nothing but green stems and lots of leaves.

I wanted to show you these growing plants, but the real reason for this post is to show you something else that's been lurking around my garden...

I have seen this same squirrel a few times hanging around our place. When I had the tomato plants in the pots, I caught him digging dirt in one of them! This picture of him rubbing his belly on the fence is just too funny! I'm glad that the tomato plants are in our friend's garden, but I still have to be careful. I don't want him getting into my beautiful strawberry plant. Yikes!

Paper dolls and more...

A while back, I signed up to receive e-mails from Dover Publishing. They offer lots of educational products at an affordable price! The best part is that these e-mails have links to their free samples page. Look at what I recently printed on my computer....

I now have full-color John F. Kennedy and Jackie paper dolls--with one outfit! I can order the book if I want to, but I'm happy with this sample. I'd love to have a collection of paper dolls for the young guests that sometimes visit our home. I used to play with them when I was a little girl. I had such fond memories and some wonderful imaginative play.

I also printed off these antique food label prints. I would like to mat and frame these to add to my small collection of these that I have in my dining room. Since we're moving soon, I will hold off on this project for now. I can't wait to use them in my new kitchen and perhaps dining room (where ever that may be!). I already collect tins and have those in my kitchen. I just love anything and everything antique!

On their freebies page, you can also print off coloring sheets and activities for kids. Check it out and see if this is something that you can use to keep your kids busy--and also learning--this summer!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I was featured!

I knew it was going to happen soon.

You want to know what it is?

Well, I was featured for the third time in All You Magazine! I sent in a tip a few months back and they liked it. They told me in an e-mail that it would be featured in their July issue. I signed up to be a "reality checker" a couple years ago, so I get e-mails every now and then that ask several questions. I answer whatever I can and see if it will get published.

My tip and picture are on page 21. The article is called, "Slash your grocery bills in half." I wrote about how I make mixes and staples in my kitchen to save money.

This is the cover of the issue which is available now for purchase at your nearest Wal-mart! What I enjoy about the magazine is that it has tips for lots of areas of your life. From recipes, to saving money, to health and beauty, this magazine has it all!  And it's cheap, too! Even if you use only a couple of the coupons inside, you'll probably pay for the cost of it--and maybe more. Sign up to be a reality checker and you'll also get a surprise package in the mail around Christmas time. 

I've been thinking about writing a post about things we've been doing to save money, and I will definitely write my tip that I gave All You Magazine. Be on the lookout....

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bacon and Cheese Waffles

Don't these waffles look scrumptious? After returning from camp, I decided to make a batch of these because they are quick and easy to make. They are great for any meal--we had ours for dinner with maple syrup drizzled on them. They are also very filling and a super idea for guests. The recipe comes from Taste of Home's Fast Fixes with Mixes Cookbook. 

Bacon and Cheese Waffles

1 egg
1 cup milk
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
1 tablespoon butter, melted
2 cups pancake or biscuit/baking mix
6-8 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

In a medium bowl, beat egg; add milk, sour cream and butter. Stir in pancake mix; mix well. Fold in bacon and cheese. Bake in a preheated waffle iron according to manufacturer's directions until golden brown. Yield: 12 waffles (4-inch square). My round waffle maker is bigger than this, so this batter made 5 large waffles.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Car and Motorcycle Show

Our church held its second annual Car and Motorcycle Show on Father's Day. After the evening service, everyone enjoyed eating hot dogs and ice cream sandwiches. Several cars and motorcycles were on display for all to see.

This 1970 Pontiac is a beauty! It has been shown in another car show in our area.

I love this red Impala, which belongs to Mr. Fowler, our school's band teacher.

But--I must say that this 1930 Ford truck was my absolute favorite! Gary Gerrard's grand kids loved riding in the back as he drove it around the parking lot. He says that there are only a few in the world like this one that are fully restored.

A couple of the kids got involved, too. One boy brought in a soapbox car, while E.J. displayed his mini bike. A few got to sit on it to see how it feels, but only one got to actually ride it around the parking lot. Okay, Pastor--this one's for you:

Yes, our very own pastor just had to ride the mini bike. We all had a good laugh, including E.J., (he's on the left wearing the plaid shirt) as we watched Pastor Redlin ride around the parking lot. It was a great way to end our car show.

What special thing does your church do on Father's Day? I would love to hear your ideas!:)

Baby Bottle Campaign

Each year at Mother's Day, we start a baby bottle campaign for a wonderful ministry called the Alpha Center. They help pregnant women with counseling and baby supplies. They promote life and not pro-choice! I had looked into volunteering at the Alpha Center last fall, but all they needed at the time were nurses. Maybe someday I can be more of a part of the pro-life movement!

The center gives our church dozens of baby bottles to be filled with loose change. Any individual or family picks one up on Mother's Day and returns it on Father's Day. Ours is not filled yet, but they will accept this bottle any time of the year. It's encouraging to me that the money collected will go towards saving lives. We want these babies born and their mothers to love and care for them.

Do any of you have a ministry you support such as this one? If not, perhaps this post has encouraged you to look into doing something like this in your church. Get involved today!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Our week at Treasure Mountain Bible Camp

Quentin and I had a great time at jr. camp this last week. We took 14 kids up with us on Monday to Treasure Mountain Bible Camp. Our speaker for the week was Pastor Ward Smith from Grace Baptist Church in Parker, CO. We were thoroughly blessed to have this man of God speak to us two times each day. He gave salvation messages, as well as encouraged the kids in their daily Christian walk.

Out of the 14 kids we took to camp, only two of them were girls. So, I was given three girls from a couple other churches. From left to right my girls were: Jacquie, Isabel, Stephanie, Tiffany, and Daniella. We had fun cleaning our cabin and adding something creative to it each day. On Tuesday, we pinned our towels together and had them draped from one end to the other in our "tepee" cabin. On Wednesday, we left a note and a piece of gum for the inspector. On Thursday, we made up a scavenger hunt. At the end of it, there were a couple pieces of candy. We didn't win on any of the days, but the girls did an awesome job! 

Each morning before breakfast, the kids and counselors walked up a hill to have "God and I" time. We all spread out along this field to pray and read our Bibles. If we got done early, we worked on memorizing verses for team competition. The teams were blue and red, and the blue team came out victorious at the end of the week. Besides Bible memory, the teams earned points for taking sermon notes and during the big game competitions.

Here's Pastor J with some of our guys at the lake. On Wednesday, the kids enjoyed water games during their activity time. They got to go on canoes, kayaks and a super fast water slide!

Some of the other activities included wacky sports, soccer, horseback riding, and fishing. Q and I got to take a few kids fishing on Thursday. Here he is with a girl named Courtney. She was one of a few first-time campers who were so fun to be with. Everything about camp was so new and exciting for them.

Right before we left for home, I got my girls together to take this picture. Our tepee was called, "Rippling Waters." I enjoyed getting to know each girl during the week. Before bed each day, we had cabin devotions. I loved hearing from them how God was working in their hearts. I will be writing to Danyella, Stephanie and Jacquie, as they live in other towns. It was a fun week, but most importantly, one that was successful from an eternal perspective. Several kids accepted the Lord as Savior, and others made great decisions for God.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

We're going to camp!

Quentin and I will be heading out tomorrow morning for camp. We're taking a group of jr. campers to Treasure Mountain Bible Camp. It's about five hours from here, and it is so beautiful up there. Please pray for safety as we travel as well as during the week. Pray also for the preaching times that the Lord would work in hearts. I'll be back at the end of the week to show you all pictures.

Until then, browse around my site and the other blogs I've listed. Have a great week and I'll see ya later!:)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

GPS Search

We had another fun teen activity tonight! It's called GPS Search. The teens are divided into teams and they are to go out and search for coordinates that will lead them to different places. 

My team was all girls, except for our driver, Mr. Wells. A ladies ensemble from West Coast Baptist College was with us, so two of them joined our team. My husband gave each team a set of coordinates to start off with and then we were off!

There were six places we had to go to and it took us two hours! All of the places were parks and we had to search high and low for the next set of coordinates. We walked and walked some more, until we found...

...a Cool Whip container at each location! Inside lay the next set of coordinates.

At our final destination, we had a picnic. We ate burgers or brats, chips, grapes and apple croissants for dessert--yum!

Before we left, the West Coast ladies sang a special for us. Then, their leader gave a devotional. He compared our searching for the next clue in our GPS search to following God's will. God leads us each step of the way. 

I'm sure the teens in your youth group would love this just like our teens did. I think this would make an awesome family activity, too! 

Friday, June 12, 2009

How to make flour tortillas!

I've been wanting to make my own flour tortillas for a long time now, but didn't think I had enough time (plus I was a bit intimidated by the whole thing, really!). I thought it would take me a half day to make these, but they didn't. It took me about an hour from start to finish to make a dozen large tortillas. This recipe comes from our friend, Gloria, who did a lesson on making these at a ladies fellowship a couple years ago! I can't believe that I've had this recipe that long without trying these myself. So, finally...here goes...

Flour Tortillas 

6 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup coconut oil or butter flavored shortening
2 cups hot water (as hot as you can stand to touch)

Step 1: Mix together, BY HAND, all dry ingredients.

Step 2: Add water and mix by hand.

Step 3: Knead dough until it is nice and smooth.
Step 4: Form the tistales (small fat disk-shaped dough pieces approximately 3/4" thick and 3 inches in diameter).

Step 5: Roll the tistales into 8-inch circles. (I'm not sure how big mine were, as I experimented with different amounts of dough to roll out.) You'll want to make sure that you roll it out as thin as possible!

Step 6: Place on a hot cast iron griddle (comal). You will not need to grease the pan. (I learned this the hard way when I put my first one on there and it came out so greasy.--yikes!!) Turn tortilla until done (about 30-45 seconds on each side).

Step 7: Enjoy your warm homemade tortillas! I used ground turkey to make our soft tacos. Another lady in my church gave me a recipe for making your own taco seasoning mix. Q and I both enjoyed this new seasoning. Try it out for yourself!

Taco Seasoning Mix (makes 2 cups)

Mix together with a fork the following ingredients:

3/4 cup dried, minced onion
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 tablespoons salt
1/4 cup chile powder
1 tablespoon oregano
1 teaspoon marjoram (optional)
2 tablespoons dried red pepper (optional)
2 teaspoons dried, minced garlic
2 tablespoons cumin
2 tablespoons paprika

Add 2 to 3 tablespoons mix and 1/2 cup water to 1 lb ground beef or turkey. Simmer until thickened.

Vacation Bible School: Day 4

We finished our VBS week last night. These last couple years, we have ended on Thursday night because of the drop in attendance on Friday nights. 

After my opening time with songs, Miss Bessie taught the kids their last verse. It was II Timothy 4:7b which says, "I have kept the faith." She played a review game where she moved around three cups on a desk and the kids had to guess where the package of fruit snacks was. They could only guess if they said the verse correctly. The memory verse reviews all week came from resource cards from Child Evangelism Fellowship. They were such a big help in adding to the "Cross Training" program for preschoolers.

Mrs. Richardson finished her lesson series on the Bible story of Paul, the missionary. She talked to them about the time he was thrown into prison for telling others about the Lord.

For our game time, we did a "mini olympics." The program ran an extra half hour last night, so we decided to fill some of that extra time with games. This crab walk soccer game was hilarious as they had to kick the ball walking on their hands and feet! We also did relays and had a shot put competition.

Our missionary story was on the life of Darlene Diebler Rose, missionary to New Guinea. What stood out to me in the story was the fact that she began memorizing Scripture verses as a child. When she was thrown into prison, God's Word was an encouragement to her because she had hidden God's Word in her heart. I made these small memory verse booklets to go along with this story. On the front cover I wrote, "I will hide God's Word in my heart." I printed each verse on a different page in this booklet. I drew pictures next to each verse for them to color.

Mrs. Richardson gave them an animal farm picture to color. Then, they put foam animal stickers on the picture. They enjoyed having two crafts to do on this extra special night!

After craft time, I placed the "mini racers" on the FINISH line on the wall mural. We sang a couple songs, then Sir Teddy came out. He had on a gold medal and asked the kids if they wanted one. With the help of our assistant pastor, we were able to down load the Olympic theme music for our awards ceremony. I had the kids go up to the front and we gave them gold medals as the music played. We bought these from Oriental Trading Company, if you're interested. It was so much fun and they loved this treat we had planned for them. It was an awesome way to end an exciting week!