Monday, April 28, 2008

Laurel's Chicken Pot Pie

P-Dub is giving away a KitchenAid stand mixer today, my friends. Oh how I yearn to win! To enter, you just have to post a recipe. The winner will be chosen by a random number generator, but since she might use some of the recipes on her cooking blog in the future, I figured I'd give her my best.

So here it is - my chicken pot pie recipe. Never typed out before today!

Laurel's Chicken Pot Pie - makes two pies

Pot Pie Filling
4-6 split chicken breasts, depending on your taste/budget
1/2 c butter
Medium Onion
Milk (optional)
2/3 c flour
1 t salt
1 t pepper
1-2 pounds frozen vegetables (I usually use corn and peas or mixed veggies)

Start by boiling the split chicken breasts in enough water to just cover them. Once they're cooked and have cooled enough to bone, clean those bones and cut or pull the meat into bite-sized pieces. Set aside the chicken meat.

If you want to use some milk in your pot pie (and I strongly suggest you do, unless you have allergies!) take 3 cups or so of broth from boiling the chicken. Add however much milk you need to make 5 cups. The proportions here are very fluid... use all broth if you want, add water if you want, or do it my way. Just be sure you have 5 cups of wet stuff ready to go.

Get a small bowl and measure 2/3 c of flour into it. Add 1 t salt and 1 t pepper. Set aside.
Chop the onion into a small dice. You guessed it! Set it aside also.

Now melt the 1/2 c butter in a medium stock pot. Add the onion and saute until slightly translucent.
Add the flour mixture and stir while cooking for one minute.
Slowly add in the 5 cups of liquid, whisking if needed. Then cook, stirring constantly, until the gravy starts to boil and thicken. Boil for about a minute, still stirring.

Turn off the heat and stir in your vegetables.
Then cover the filling, preheat the oven to 350' and prepare your pastry.

Double Pie Crust - make twice
Mis together:
2 2/3 c All-purpose flour
1 t salt
Cut in with pastry cutter:
1 c butter
Sprinkle in 7-8 T cold water (1T at a time) while fluffing with fork.
(You're looking for the pastry to start clearing the sides of the bowl)
Divide into two balls. Roll out one ball for bottom crust, fill pie, then roll out the other ball of dough for the top.

Finish edges and slit crust as you wish.

Place pies on a cookie sheet and bake for 30-45 minutes, until crust is golden. For a “crust guard,” I cut a nice big piece of tin foil, cover the pie, and cut out the middle. I take off the guard when I think there's about 15 minutes of bake time remaining.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

At Shaw Nature Reserve - Part 3

We were witness to many of the glories of the handiwork of our Lord!

A nice view near the beginning of our walk -

We believe these are bluebells of some kind. Anyway, they look like blue bells.

Except when there's a clump that's varicolored -

More lovely flowers -

At Shaw Nature Reserve - Part 2

Ellie is becoming a young lady, isn't she? I think one of the reasons she enjoys hanging out with GracieT is that she's light enough to carry around - unlike her own baby brother!

The stepping stones were a big hit.

I carried Stephen in a wrap most of the way, but caught this sweet shot when Jonathan was carrying him -

This picture is too funny. You must click on it to get the full effect.

They have a wonderful newer area that I think the kids could explore for hours. The girls loved the tables and chairs.

Our Afternoon at Shaw Nature Reserve - Part 1

As I mentioned in my late night/early morning post, we spent yesterday afternoon at Shaw Nature Reserve in Gray Summit. It was our first visit, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Especially fun was the fact that we went with other families from our chapel, and enjoyed fellowship as well as a gorgeous view of God's creation.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the day. "Few" is relative to the fact that we took 132 pictures of our time there!

You just might see this one again on our next Christmas card -

Here are our Blessings with the Treasures of our dear friends Alan & Sue.

No, we don't generally encourage our girls to hold hands with boys, but this was too sweet a moment to not capture.

Aren't they sweet? GracieT turned one last week!

Katie enjoyed the dandelions.

What a Hike!

We had a wonderful afternoon with some of our Believer's Bible Chapel family at Shaw Nature Reserve. I'd like to post a few favorites individually later, but for now, here's a slideshow!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Big Boy

He's loving being outside! This shot is from Friday 25

Mom could make a gourmet meal...

out of just cornbread and beans...

We work to give faith hands and feet, and pray we'll give it wings.

Name the artist and song that inspired the text for this post!

Friday, April 18, 2008

More quakin'

I find it amusing that the one at 4.30 am wakes me up, but I miss the one at 10.14am. It was a 4.6'er. I guess you know now that our house is busier at 10.15 than at 4.30!

There was also a 2.5'er at 10.15.

Do you like my quake lingo?

I know very little about earthquakes, and would tend to assume that these other quakes are aftershocks. However, I find it interesting that on the USGS page for the region, they are each listed individually.

Did you feel it??

We just experienced our first earthquake. About 25 minutes after we felt it, we found confirmation it was not our imagination - a 5.4 near West Salem, IL (around 130 miles away). At this distance, what we felt was pretty mild, but quite the rush since it was our first.

Praying folks are safe!

Update - They've changed the info and are now saying it was a 5.2 (and was centered 7 miles underground). It was felt as far as 900 miles away.

Also - there was another, smaller quake in the same area at 6.55. It was a 2.6.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Have I ever told you...


Spring is so very good for my soul, my body, my home, my family. Spring is such a wonderful gift.

The following quote has really been affecting the manner in which spring is good for us this year:

"Have nothing in your house

that you do not know to be useful,

or believe to be beautiful."

Designer William Morris (1880)

I'm working on making this true in our home. I have such a long way to go, but have been captivated, and I pray, changed, by this thought. Useful or beautiful. That's all.

Here's one of my first projects, in the dining room...The thing not of beauty (and too big to truly be useful in our small space) is the toy shelf. The baby is beautiful, and we've opted to keep him. Besides, in a couple of years, he'll be useful, as well.

In the second ("after") picture, the dining room is obviously not finished. But I'm amazed at how much more I like it without the toy shelf! The toy shelf is now out in the garage, holding most of the tubs of toys. We're going to rotate them in three at a time, until such time as we have more space.

I am planning to make some sort of curtain for the understairs space, as it is still needed for storage, which is useful. But it's not beautiful - yet!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Due Process

I generally do not write much about current events, but I have a growing sense of outrage that I am not seeing reflected elsewhere. Maybe folks aren't thinking about this situation at all, or maybe they're thinking about it from a different perspective than me, but I simply cannot refrain from blogging about it any longer.

On Thursday, April 3rd, Texas police invaded a community inhabited by members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints outside of El Dorado, Texas. The warrant issued named two people, and stemmed from a call from a girl claiming to be a 16 year old married to a 50 year old man, living on the ranch and suffering abuse from her husband. Obviously, since girls under 17 are not allowed to marry in Texas (without parental permission), the girl's claimed age and the fact that she said she had an 8 mo. old baby were additional red flags.

Since April 3rd, 419 children have been removed from the compound. While mothers present at the time of the raid have apparently been allowed to go with the children (not necessarily with their own children, as they are being "housed" in multiple locations), mothers who were away from the ranch at the time of the raid have not been allowed to join their children. While exposing children to a polygamous lifestyle has never been legally determined to be abusive to children, according to the Desert News, the Utah AG has stated that "officials appear to be preparing to make a case that polygamy is inherently an abusive situation for children."

So, in preparation for making a case that a behavior is abusive, and without grounds that any specific children have been abused in any current legal context, over 400 children have been removed from their homes and families.

Am I the only one appalled by this??????????

I am in no way saying that folks should be allowed to break the law without consequences. Polygamy is illegal, and those who are breaking the law should be investigated properly and brought to a lawful trial. Rape and sexual abuse are illegal, and those who are breaking the law should be investigated properly and brought to a lawful trial.

There are so many things about this situation that disturb me.

Among them...

The "16 year old girl" who called in the reports of abuse has not been located.
The man listed on the original warrant has been questioned in Arizona and not been arrested, apparently because he has a sound alibi... he's been living in Arizona, not on the Texas ranch.
The women and children in state custody have had their cell phones confiscated (after some of them had talked with reporters about their situation...), while mothers who have returned to the ranch since the raid have not been allowed to see their children.

To my knowledge, none of these mothers have been arrested or charged with crimes.
To my knowledge, none of the men still at the ranch have been arrested or charged with crimes.
And yet, 419 children have been removed from their homes and families and placed in state custody!!

There are general allegations of misconduct and wrongdoing by a group of people, but not evidence to issue arrest warrants for specific law breakers.

What has happened to due process??

Even if you think that accused polygamists have forfeited their constitutional rights to the proper workings of the law, this situation should cause you alarm.

Does mainstream Christendom in America, which seems to be taking all this very quietly (and, I suspect, thinking "it's about time they did something about those polygamists") not realize how this type of infringement on constitutional rights and this disregard for due process propagates itself?

It does not seem that folks are thinking about how small a jump it is from this situation to the following -

Today, in ABCTown, MidwestUSA, the homes of the members of the XYZBibleChurch were raided and #children taken into protective custody. According to reports referenced in the warrants, the XYZBibleChurch condones corporal punishment. While corporal punishment has not been defined by local laws as inherently abusive, officials are preparing to make a case that any corporal punishment, is, in fact, child abuse.

No, I am not a conspiracy nut. But I'm paying attention, and I'm seeing that constitutional rights are being eroded. And just because they are currently targetting folks whose beliefs do not line up with mine and whose practices may not be legal, does not mean that those folks have forfeited their constitutional rights!!

Due process, folks, that's what I'm talking about.

Would it have been reasonable to respond to the accusing phone calls by launching an undercover investigation?
Would it have taken some time?
Would it have been more work?
Would it have been a huge step to insuring that folks' constitutional rights were honored?
Would 419 children be removed from their homes and families rightthisminute without any of their parents actually being charged with specific wrongdoing?
I doubt it.


What do you think?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Counting Points

I've been reluctant to post about my weight loss efforts. I'd prefer to wait until I've lost 20-30 pounds and then tell you all about it!

But I realized tonight that what I'm doing is truly helping me to change my eating habits in ways that I think and pray will be long term. So I'm going to spill the beans.

Over a month ago, my dear dear friend started going to Weight Watchers. Now, I have never been drawn to WW, but I've also never taken the time to learn much about it. As S. was explaining to me how the system works, I started getting excited... but cautiously. It sounded like a well thought out, reasonable system that I could make work for me.

We don't have money in the budget for weekly meetings and such, and so S. is my WW's group and my source for goodies (thank you, dear!). I check in with her each week after I weigh in (at my chiropractor's office, because she has a decent scale), and she calls me after her meeting each week. We share each other's frustrations and cheer each other on. And we're even getting going on the whole exercise business (which, if you know me, you know that's not my favorite thing!).

So here is what's going on with my eating...

There's a formula by which you figure out how many points you should eat each day. The goal is to eat all your points each day. You also get 35 weekly splurge points.

Now, one of the things that I haven't like about my perception of WW's is their push toward low-fat everything. Buy low-fat yogurt, sour-cream, cookies, etc, etc. I'm studiously avoiding my soapbox, so I'll just say that I think it is MUCH healthier for people to eat REAL food in Moderation.

The neat thing that I've discovered as I've jumped into this is that I can eat the way I believe is healthiest and still use the WW system to learn moderation. That's my stumbling point, you see.... moderation. I can restrict myself completely from "bad" foods. It's practicing moderation with which I have trouble. The thing is, I believe that there are actually very few foods that are truly bad. The key is to eat in moderation and with variety and balance. But that moderation thing tends to escape me.

So, I love the way that the points system, coupled with the commitment to write down everything I eat each day (something that's always horrified me) is that I am learning to eat intentionally. I can eat whatever I want. I'm learning to make conscious choices about what I want to eat and when. And I don't feel like I'm on a diet.

Here's what happened tonight that made me realize I'm actually changing the way I think about eating. I opted to fix frozen pizza because I was feeling tired and uninspired. I figured out the points and realized I should only have two pieces. Honestly, this worried me. I thought I would still be starving! I made sure we had celery (it's free!) and no-sugar-added applesauce (almost free), and enjoyed my two pieces of pizza. And guess what?? I was satisfied! It's been an hour and a half and I still feel satisfied! That's the kind of "ah-ha!" experience that changes my thought patterns.

And so there you have it... I'm counting points and loving it!

If you're interested in learning more, give me a holler.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Long Overdue Project

Seven years ago this summer, not long after the arrival of our sweet Kate, I started her baby quilt. It didn't take me that long to piece, but as is my unfortunate tendency, I took ages to quilt it.

Over a year ago, I finally finished quilting it - yay me! But I couldn't find the fabric for the binding... until sometime last fall. And today, I finally was inspired to get the binding sewn on!

So many months of procrastinating, it took me all of one naptime to get the binding cut, the quilt trimmed up, and the binding sewn on so that I can finish it by hand. I loved this tweaked continuous binding method I tried for the first time today.

I took some close up pictures of the quilting, but I'm going to wait to post them until I get the binding finished. Here's the front (with the binding waiting to be folded over and handsewn on the other side):

And the back:


We played a fun game of Upwords with the kids the other night. Thought I'd post pictures so you know the older children are still around.

Create In Me

My wonderful Mama sent me this video of a song by one of our favorite artists, Margaret Becker. Some prayers always get a Yes!

Friday, April 04, 2008


I haven't posted a thoughtful post in ages because I've been deeply struggling with some stuff spiritually. The Lord is working through stuff with me, as He is ever faithful to do...

In the little book The Practice of the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence says at one point that God will "not allow such a person {one who is surrendering to God} to suffer through trials for very long, but will give him a way of escape that he might endure." Several weeks ago when I read this, it truly raise my hackles. We had just been discussing with some friends, in a completely different context, the fact that, when you look at the Bible, it is obvious that God is not in the habit of keeping His people from trials, or of making things "easy." Trials are how we are grown.

James 1.2-4 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

One ray that helped illuminate these seemingly contradictory ideas is Perspective. God's view of "very long" and my view of "very long" are worlds apart. He sees from outside time, and this space of time that is my life is a speck on the time line. From here in the midst of my speck, 11 years is a "very long" time. But in light of eternity, in light of His eternal plan for me and those around me, it is as a day...

The ray of Perspective also applies to the depth of our trials and their bearable-ness. What is crushing to me in my own strength (or lack thereof!) is an easy yoke to Him. And again, in light of eternity, everything changes...

Romans 8.16-18 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

The chapel memory verse for this week is from Matthew 26.29, where Christ says, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will."

Any "cup" that I have to drink could not compare to the sacrifice that Christ made for me when He took my sins upon Himself and paid the price for my sin at Calvary. I wouldn't even begin to compare the struggles I encounter with what He has bore for me. At the same time, I have so much to learn from Christ's response to His upcoming trial.

I think Christ's fervent prayer here indicates that it really is okay for us to ask for deliverance from our trials. The key is remembering that last phrase, "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." Not just remembering it, but having a true heart's surrender to His will.

I have this nasty habit of trying to contemplate the drinking of every "cup" that lies in wait for me over the next forty years. But I don't yet have grace to deal with tomorrow. He gives grace to help in time of need. So when His will is for me to drink a bitter cup, it's vital that I accept His grace in that time of need, drink the cup, grow and learn, let Him use it to make me more like Christ, and keep on running the race that is set before me. And trust that His grace will always be there for me when I call.

Elizabeth Elliot wrote, "I had been praying for something I wanted very badly. It seemed a good thing to have, a thing that would make life even more pleasant than it is, and would not in any way hinder my work. God did not give it to me. Why? I do not know all of his reasons, of course. The God who orchestrates the universe has a good many things to consider that have not occurred to me, and it is well that I leave them to Him. But one thing I do understand: He offers me holiness at the price of relinquishing my own will.

Take my will and make it Thine, it shall be no longer mine.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The news is not so bad as you thought...

I've heard it... I've likely even repeated it. You probably have also.
"50% of American marriages end in divorce."

I found out yesterday that figure is based on the fact that the number of new divorces each year is about half the number of new marriages.
What about couples like Mayme and Clarence Vail? They've been married 83 years, and this type of "analysis" completely fails to take into account their marriage longevity, or that of those who have been married any significant length of time.

Of all Americans who have ever been married, one third have been divorced. That is still a sad figure, in my opinion. But it's not nearly as dismal as one half!

From the FRC Action Update:
One of the common myths about marriage in America is that "50% of all marriages end in divorce." But that figure is derived not from long-term analysis but from the fact that the raw number of new divorces each year is roughly 50% of the raw number of new marriages. These numbers are distorted by the fact that people with successful marriages usually marry only once, while people with failed marriages have often married and divorced multiple times. Fortunately, new data from pollster George Barna included a more meaningful statistic. Of all Americans who have ever married, only one-third have ever been divorced. This two-to-one ratio of marital success should encourage young people who may actually fear the "50-50" marriage myth. Another misconception is that a person's religion and values have nothing to do with marital success. Barna found that the percentage of people who have been divorced after marrying is lower among Catholics, evangelicals, and conservatives than it is among non-Christians and liberals. That's not to mention the fact that more born-again Christians (84%) have been married in the first place than atheists and agnostics (65%). For those just embarking on the adventure of marriage, be encouraged--your chances of making it "until death do you part" may be better than you've been told.

Here's another article with more details about the recent research.