Weathering the Storm

IMG_5509

I was pretty excited the other day to hear we were going to get to the 40s this week. Little did I know what the 40s would do to the great amount of snow we had laying around. Add in some rain to that mix and you really have a water event.IMG_5506

Once again, our river is nearly as high as it was last fall! This time it is complete with ice blocking the flow of the river, ice floes in the bottom field and ducks floating blissfully on that same field.

Yesterday my husband spent time digging “canals” crisscrossing our yard in an attempt to get the water away from the house. He spent time doing that and plugging in a sump pump to keep the water out of our basement. I will have to say that Iowa weather is never boring. Personally I am ready for boredom when it comes to weather.

I also had forgotten the mud that would accompany such a fast melt. This is not your basic mud….this is boot-sucking mud. You have to walk very carefully in this mud. If you don’t you will find yourself with a very wet muddy sock and your boot stuck where your foot used to be. It is probably an incredible workout program.

Most of the schools around here are only running their buses on the hard surface roads. I totally get that as our short stretch of mud gravel road is not really negotiable anymore. I will have to say that it does keep things interesting.

With all this water around I am reminded of a verse that says, “When you go through the deep water.” Isaiah 43:2. I am struck by the fact that is says WHEN not IF. It also promises that we will not be swept under. I find that to be a great comfort in every circumstance.

IMG_5508And so I watch the waters rise, I hear the wind howl as the rain changes between snow and rain; as if it cannot decide which season it is, and I slip and slide over a yard of mud, ice and running water.

I hear of communities in Iowa, South Dakota and Nebraska that have taken huge hits with water damage. Dams and bridges washed away, homes flooded with basements collapsing and entire businesses gone. It makes our flooding look fairly minor. There is definitely perspective to all things.

So much of life is perspective. It is good to take a step back and realize we are not alone. In the storms, in the high waters, in the mud and ice….we are not forgotten. We are not in control and for that I am eternally grateful.

May your weekend find you safe and warm. May you keep your head above water and may you find blessing in the floods of life.

 

Sometimes you just need to bow your head,
say a prayer and weather the storm.

Unknown

 

 

White Chip Chocolate Chip Cookies

20190219_103200487623842.jpg

Kate’s Awesome Cookies

Years ago my niece shared some amazing cookies with our family. When asked; she willingly gave the recipe. They quickly became a family favorite and I decided I should probably make them again as it had been a long time since I had.

The beginning of this week saw us in the middle of a snowstorm and it seemed a perfect day to bake….so I did!  I usually don’t bake much anymore unless the kids are coming home or company is coming. I have found; when it is just my husband and me, we don’t need that much sweet stuff around.

I was feeling kind of “bakey” (I know it isn’t a word but it should be). I think that feeling was due to the cold weather and the snow. I pulled out the recipe from my niece and found I had all the ingredients on hand. That was a good thing as we were not going to be driving anywhere with the snow flying like it was.

I am going to share the recipe with all of you because it is just to good not too.

Kate’s Awesome Cookies

1 Cup butter flavored Crisco
3/4 Cup white sugar
3/4 Cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 Teaspoons vanilla
2 1/4 Cups flour
1 Teaspoon baking soda
1 Teaspoon salt
1 Bag white chocolate chips (2 cups)

Cream Crisco and sugars
Add the eggs, vanilla, soda, and salt.
Fold in white chocolate chips
Bake at 350º for 8-10 minutes.

Do Not Overbake!
Note: I usually take them out and let them sit just a bit
on the hot cookie sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
These freeze beautifully (If you have any leftover to freeze!)

I had to kind of grin when I typed the line “Do Not Overbake”. I should probably heed that with more things in my life…only translate to Do Not Overthink…..Do Not Second Guess and so on and so on.

I have a great habit of second guessing myself on decisions made. My husband does not understand this….is this perhaps a woman thing or just a me thing? For some reason it can be hard to let past choices go. I am working on that and hopefully making progress!

I have a friend named Brenda H. who made a great observation. She asked a group of us women if we trusted in God or if we trusted God. What a difference one word makes in a sentence! Perhaps trusting Him would make a world of difference in the second guessing category?

May the weekend find you confident in your choices. May you realize that no matter what, God still loves you and there will always be people who will stand behind you…..and may we all learn to trust.

And the next time you find yourself second guessing yourself just say, “Do Not Overbake”! I am going to do the same.

Feed your faith and starve your doubts.
– Kenneth E. Hagin Sr

Faith talks in the language of God.
Doubt talks in the language of man.
– E.W. Kenyon

 

 

 

Life Is Like Shoveling Snow

20190212_155148.jpg

Due to snowfalls the last couple days I am, once again, at my winter task of scooping trails to the chicken coop. I also scoop a trail to the little open front shed where the girls like to sit in the sun and take their dust baths.

I can tell I am not getting any younger by the way my back feels while I am scooping! I am also realizing that you might scoop a path once, but that doesn’t mean it is going to stay open.

I scooped those same trails yesterday morning….then it snowed some more. I scooped those paths last night and then it snowed and blew some more. Soooo….this morning I was once again scooping those same trails.

As I was scooping, it occurred to me that this scooping of trails is much like relationships and life. It takes a lot time and a lot of work to keep the pathways open and free of snow/junk. There is a satisfaction in knowing that the work does have it’s rewards….on both counts…snow removal and relationships.

While scooping I looked behind me and realized that my path was not always staying cleared. The “walls” of my path crumbled in places, clods of snow ended up in the middle of my trail and sometimes the scoopful of snow I tossed to the side ended up blowing right back where it came from. Yes…..so much like life.

I decided it was okay to not have a spotless path. I have a feeling that sometimes the “snow clods” in our way help build a little character. I also discovered that once that trail is cleared, you still need to walk carefully.

Yesterday after clearing a way; I fearlessly walked back down that trail to bring feed to the girls. On the way, my foot found a patch of ice hidden under a fluffy layer of snow. I did not face plant or smack to the ground. I did, however, slide gracefully (as gracefully as a 61 year old, overweight woman can slide) to the ground.

There I lay in a snowbank….after assessing if I had damaged anything (I had not) I had to grin. I was grateful my bucket only contained feed and not water! Thinking back I should have probably gone ahead and made a snow angel but the thought did not occur to me at the time.

The main thought that occurred to me was that at my next physical; how was I going to answer the question about falling in the last 3 months? (At a certain age they start to ask you that question!) Do I qualify a “sliding somewhat gracefully to the ground” as falling? Hmmmm, not sure on that one.

I pray you find blessing in the week ahead. I pray you find fulfillment in shoveling and building relationships with family, friends and God. The work is not always easy, there will be pain, you will either slide or smack to the ground at times…but the end result is worth it. It may not be perfect …..but that is okay too. May you find joy in the process.

 

Snow shoveling……
it’s challenging but not impossible.
You have all the skills and the tools you need.
You know you’ll have to work hard,
but in most cases,
heart permitting,
you know you’ll get the job done.
Tom Terez

 

 

Sorting The Bits and Pieces

20190201_182607.jpg

I peered into my craft/laundry room today (mainly because I needed to wash some clothing) and decided I needed to start cleaning. This room has been sadly neglected the last while and the craft side was overrun with stuff.

It was hard to know where to start because there was just so much stuff! I decided to try find my counter back….I knew this project was going to take more than one day…..and I was right.

My paper stash was overflowing and that seemed like a great place to start. I had been in the habit of saving every little scrap of card stock because I just might need that small scrap for a card or project.

Today was the day to get a bit vicious with that paper stash. I took my basket and sorted by color and finally got it under control. I decided the small bits and pieces were going to go into a box for future crafts with the grandkids. My grandson seems to enjoy creating things and it might be fun seeing what he will create with that box of stuff.

That box of card stock with it’s bits and pieces and so much color just screams of potential. It is so much like the start of a new day….you just have no idea what the day will turn out to be anymore than I know what wonders will come out of that box.

I love the idea that there is potential…even in those scraps. I love the thought that the “scraps” of our lives can be used to make something beautiful and unique. That box of paper reminds me that we are indeed masterpieces in the making.

May this weekend find you putting together the “scraps” of your life. May those bits and pieces turn into a thing of beauty and blessing. We may not see how those bits can turn into something amazing…but I am assured that they can.

 

In crafting
there are no mistakes….
just unique creations.
Unknown

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD
Jeremiah 29:11a
New International Version

 

Preparing For The Polar Vortex

received_2301572026531620.jpeg

We should have known the weather man wasn’t lying about the coming polar vortex. Yesterday we saw two birds vying for the right to eat the corn off the squirrel feeder….the woodpecker won this round.

I guess the birds know when to prepare for the coming journey into the deep freeze that is an Iowa winter. My husband and I took our cue from their preparations and also spent time yesterday preparing the chicken coop.

My husband rigged up a heat lamp that the girls could roost under at night and he then fluffed the chipped wood bedding on the floor. I made sure they had plenty of water and feed. 20190129_114028.jpg

This morning, when I went to see if they wanted to go out on this bitter day I noticed they had already laid a few eggs. I figured I had better take them along to the house with me.

Once I picked a couple of them up; I found I was already to late…..the below zero temps had already frozen a couple of them.

I have a feeling that I will either be baking or serving scrambled eggs for a meal in the next few days!

I have decided that I will also need to gather eggs a few times during the day tomorrow and the next day as they tell us our highs will be -12º tomorrow.  They also assure us this will be record setting. I don’t know about you…but that is one record I really don’t feel the need to break!

I kind of have to laugh when I go into the chicken coop during this type of weather….the girls have a distinct grumble to their “talking”. I don’t think they are too pleased with the cold wind and they aren’t pleased with being locked in either.

I try to tell them it is for their own good but I don’t think they believe me or they don’t understand. Even if they do believe me or understand…they are still pretty miffed about it all.

I have a feeling I am the same way with life. So many times I know things are happening because they are good for me but I really don’t want to believe it…. and I really don’t want to take the time to understand it. It is so much easier to just be a little ticked about it all.

If this week finds you in a situation that you know is for your good but you aren’t happy about it….take a deep breath, step back and give it some time. I find that after a bit I am either okay with it or at least over the “grumbly” phase.

May you also stay warm…wherever you are! And if it is bitter cold…may you have made preparations in advance like those very smart birds.

The past is behind:
learn from it.
The future is ahead:
prepare for it.
The present is here:
live it!
Thomas S. Monson

Cold Days and Warm Food

20190121_121932.jpg

This past weekend our weather has changed.  I am not totally sure it was for the better! There were winter storm advisories but that kind of bombed out for us and I was good with only getting a small amount of snow.

The weather guys were right on their prediction of  cold temperatures. Sunday saw us in the sub zero range with a wicked wind chill to go with it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look to change any time soon. (This always makes my husband wonder why our ancestors settled here!)20190121_112554.jpg

Today just seemed to be the kind of day where a good pot of chili soup needed to be simmering on the stove. The only problem with that is my husband is not in favor of chili soup.

Chili soup was kind of out of the question for him for a meal; so I also went with one of his favorite cold weather foods…..Balken Brei. I made him a loaf pan of it last week when I heard the weather was going to nose-dive temperature wise.

I am NOT a fan of Balken Brei but I do like how it smells. For those of you who have no idea what this “delicacy” is I will try explain. When you render the lard from a pig you end up with these crunchy little bits called cracklings.

You take those cracklings and fry them out till they are a crisp golden brown and kind of dry.  At this stage you can go ahead and make Balken Brei or you can freeze your cracklings till ready to use.

For the brave among you I am going to give you the recipe so you can try this Dutch treat for yourself.

Balken Brei
1 Pound Cracklings
Water
Salt and Pepper to taste
White Flour
Allspice to taste

Put the cracklings in a sauce pan.
Cover, till just covered, with water.
Add about 1 tsp. sald and 1/2 tsp pepper.
Bring to a boil then let simmer till most of the water has been absorbed by the cracklings.
Remove from heat and add flour. You will keep adding flour
till the mixture is very stiff and hard to stir.
Add Allspice to taste…start with about 5 teaspoons.
You may have to use your hands to mix at this point.
Put mixture in loaf pan lined with wax paper and press in firmly.
Cover and put in fridge to cool.
Once it is cool and firm you can slice into thin slices.

To prepare:
Cut into thing slices and fry in pan in melted butter.
Fry till golden crisp.
Serve with syrup.
My husbands favorite is Dark Karo syrup.

Some people use buckwheat flour. Some people add other meat to this recipe. My husband prefers the basic one so that is what I go with. It think he likes it this way because that is what he grew up with.

I am pretty sure this is NOT a heart healthy recipe. For years my sons have called this “fried fat”. I am also not sure what cracklings really are! If they were fat they would have melted? If anyone knows please let me know.

Being of Dutch background, I often wonder if our Dutch ancestors were just so tight thrifty that they did not let anything go to waste…not even cracklings! I also wonder if there is any other use for them….other than feeding the girls…..

And now…..I really want to know….what is your favorite cold weather food? When those temps dip close to zero and the snow flies (assuming you live where this happens) What is your go to food for comfort? If you have a favorite recipe please feel free to leave it in the comments or link to it if you have already posted it on your blog.

Have a great week doing things for those you love…..and if you live where it is cold….stay warm and make a family favorite!

Cooking is like love
It should be entered into with abandon
or not at all
Harriet Van Horne