Friday, September 28, 2012

Pumpkin Granola Cookies

Another new (to me) pumpkin recipe and another great find from the cookbook Around Grandma's Table, that I spoke of several weeks ago.These cookies may be on the "good-for-you" category but my children loved them. They would be the perfect lunch box treat.

Pumpkin Granola Cookies
from Around Grandma's Table (with my comments!)

2 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cup quick oats
1 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup mashed pumpkin
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped nuts, optional

Cream butter and sugars in large bowl; add egg and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Add  flour, oats, coconut, wheat germ, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and pumpkin. Beat well. Stir in raisins and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet. Flatten with spatula and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Do not stack cookies together until completely cool.

This recipe is rather adaptable. If you don't have an ingredient, feel free to substitute. I have used ground flax seed instead of wheat germ, sunflower seeds instead of nuts, and mini chocolate chips instead of raisins. Think about what tastes good in granola and be creative. The pumpkin makes these moist and yummy.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Review - Guiding the House

Do you need encouragement in organizing your home?

Am I the only one frantically waving my hand? Organization appears a goal that I will never fully meet.

Recently I had the privilege of reviewing Guiding the House, A Homemaker's Organizer of Days and Duties by Dianna Overholt. Designed as a tool to give a busy homemaker a place to record the practical details of her home, Guiding the House contains six tabbed sections and over a 180 pages of charts, forms, and inspiration.

Though I've never met Dianna Overholt, I feel like I know her from the pages of Keepers At Home magazine. Every issue, I flip through the pages to find Dianna's organization articles. Not only is Dianna full of practical advice but she humorously shares her own failures (like the mushroom found growing in her bathroom!) I was thrilled to hear that Dianna was designing an organizer for homemakers. At the beginning of each section of Guiding the House, Dianna shares encouragement and practical ideas.

I have a three-ring binder that has served as my homemaker binder for years. But it has become stuffed with all sorts of everything and is no longer useful. How refreshing to find a beautiful, well-designed planner all ready to fill out.

Though many of the pages in Guiding the House are specific (garden planning sheets, clothing inventory  menu planning, freezer inventory,  cleaning charts, etc) many of the pages are designed to be flexible. Dianna gives suggestions on how to use the pages but allows you to adapt them to work for you.

I even love the dandelion theme of the book, which reminds me to cheerfully serve where God has placed me.

Guiding the House also includes monthly and weekly pages dated for 2013 to be used as a planner or family diary.

Guiding the House is 10.5 by 8.5. The cost is $16.95 plus $4 shipping.

Dianna  is giving a $3 discount for orders placed before October 15th. Email her at

Guiding the House is also available from Amazon,  Living Waters in Canada, and Christian Light Publications. But you'll have to purchase from Dianna directly for the special discount.

Thanks, Dianna for allowing me to review your lovely organizer and introduce it to other homemakers!

Now if only there was an organizer that could clean out my freezer...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pumpkin Pudding

This is a fun sweet treat to use my abundant squash supply.

Pumpkin Pudding
from Around Grandma's Table

2 cups cooked pumpkin 
3 cups milk, divided
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
2 eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp vanilla

Heat pumpkin, 2 cups milk, and sugar together in pan on stove. Beat eggs and flour with remaining milk; add cinnamon, slat, and ginger. Add to hot pumpkin and stir over medium heat until thickened. Cool slightly and add vanilla. Serve warm or cold.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Pumpkin Pancakes

This was a new recipe I adapted from Taste of Home that I tried this week which my family loved. Next time I'm going to serve them with apple pie filling!

Just a note: on any of the recipes that call for pumpkin puree, you can use canned pumpkin or any kind of winter squash such as butternut. Here is directions on how to cook a pumpkin and make puree.

Pumpkin Pancakes

2 cup flour (I used half whole wheat)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
2 T oil
2 T honey

Mix dry ingredients in one bowl and milk, pumpkin, egg, oil, and honey in another bowl. Combine all ingredients together just until moistened. Fry on hot griddle. Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Garden Success

Too often I dwell on our garden failures. We've had a few of those this year. The onions choked by crab grass. The blight that conquered the tomatoes. The vines that bore no grapes. The corn blown down by a storm. The ground hog who chomped our sweet potato vines.

But much of our garden prospered. I had peppers and green beans to give away. Our berries were abundant.

You have heard often about our prolific zucchini. I wish I would have kept track of how much zucchini we hauled in from those few plants.

I don't want this to be a comparison game if your garden did not do well. I know many have suffered drought this summer. But I thought I had to do a little counting of blessings.

We have never grown such nice watermelon. Not only were the fruit huge, but they were sweet and delicious. The worse thing about these watermelon is that I was winded by the time I had one carried in to the house!

Today we cut the last one. We are going to miss this taste of summer sunshine.

Our winter squash have been equally successful. I told someone yesterday that we had ten squash on our porch. My daughter corrected me by saying there was fourteen! And that is after giving some away. And we haven't even brought all of them in from the garden!

Can you guess that next you'll be reading lots of recipes using pumpkin or winter squash?

If you like such info, the watermelon seed is Ali Baba from Baker Creek. The winter squash seeds are Red Kuri from Baker Creek, Mini Green Hubbard from Stokes, Ultra HP from Stokes, and Green and White Cushaw seeds from my sister-in-law.

What are you thanking the Lord for in your garden this year?

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Perfectionist Trap - Part 4

We've talked about perfectionism, what it is, and how it traps us. If you missed it, read Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3

But what do we do once we recognize that we are responding to life from the trap of perfectionism? How do we learn to create more realistic goals?

Sometimes I have actually written down everything I wish I could accomplish. Then with bold strokes I mark out all but two or three tasks, giving myself permission to put off some jobs until another day. Somehow the process of writing out the jobs helps my whirling mind know that I haven't forgotten those tasks; I have just chosen to do the job another day. Will my children mind if I put off dusting for a day, or if the cookie jar is empty, if I stop to snuggle on the couch and read them a story?

My husband helps me tremendously in setting proper priorities. I'm learning to say “Sure!” when he asks if we can invite someone over instead of saying “But the house isn't clean, I haven't dusted in weeks, and I don't have any food!” Much to my surprise, I have found that we can eat popcorn in a dusty house and still enjoy good fellowship.

I'll probably always enjoy setting a table with freshly starched napkins and pretty china. It is a pleasure to prepare a meal with special niceties to show a friend how much she means to me. But when the choice comes between the bondage of my perfectionism and joy of serving others, I hope I never hesitate in my decision.

Now I want to hear from you! How have you combated perfectionism?

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Perfectionist Trap - Part 3

I have enjoyed your comments and learning that I'm not the only one who struggles with this! If you haven't already, you can read Part 1 and Part 2.

Rejecting the trap of perfectionism does not mean that I give up my pursuit of excellence. Colossians 3:23 says “Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” Laziness and self-centeredness are both sins.

What it does mean is that I will drop the notion that I can do it all.
  • I will stop making perfection an idol in my heart.
  • I will build a spirit of humility that will seek to serve God and others, not myself.
  • I will appreciate the gifts God has given another woman without feeling frustration because those gifts are not mine. Each of us has a special role in the body of Christ.
  • I will see all I do as worship to God.
Service is a daily, hourly act of worship to God if I am doing it for Him and not for my ego. I don't need to wait until the ceiling fan is dusted and the spices alphabetized to please God through my worship.

God has given me all the time, energy, and resources to accomplish what He has called me to do. When God allows interruptions, such as illness, a new baby, a lonely neighbor, or a broken vacuum cleaner, He has a plan for my time, a plan better than the one I made.

Next time when I'm in a whirl to get more done in less time, maybe I need to ask God to calm my heart long enough to ask myself a few questions.
  • Is my time my own, or does it belong to God?
  • Are my homemaking goals designed to make me feel good, or are they for the purpose of blessing those God has placed in my life?
  • Am I more concerned that my sister-in-Christ is impressed with my homemaking skills, or is encouraged in her walk with the Lord?
  • Is there any pride lurking in my heart that needs to be confessed?
After honestly answering these questions, will I avoid the trap of perfectionism? Maybe. But becoming aware of the trap of perfectionism is only the first step. I will need to adjust my goals and plans to God's plan for my time. For me, that is not a one-time event but a daily struggle to relinquish my goals for more realistic ones. 

Next time, we'll look at some more practical tips.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Perfectionist Trap - Part 2

What is perfectionism? 

A friend defined perfectionism as a constant search to fulfill an impossibly high standard. Often my impossible standard is a compilation of every good homemaker I've encountered in my entire life, either in person, books, or imagination. I compare the area another woman excels in with my area of weakness. I can't make pie crust like my mother-in-law. I didn't finish my spring cleaning like my neighbor. I can't think of fun children's projects like my friend does with her children. Instead of appreciating the strengths of other women, I beat myself up for not being the best of the best. No wonder I become discouraged!

Slowly, I have become aware of the trap of perfectionism.

  • Perfectionism ensnares me when I compare myself with other homemakers (real or imagined).

  • Perfectionism encourages me to procrastinate when I don't have the time, energy, or resources to do it “right."

  • Perfectionism discourages me from training my children to help because they can never reach my standards.

  • Perfectionism causes me to reject help from others because accepting help would expose my failure.

  • Perfectionism draws my attention to what is undone, not to what I have accomplished.

  • Perfectionism brings mental and physical exhaustion when I force myself to work toward impossible goals.

  • Perfectionism creates irritation when people, weather, or circumstances hinder my plans.

  • Perfectionism destroys the joy I find in serving my family because I'm not serving out of my love for Christ.

  • Perfectionism paralyzes me when I consider a daily job not worth the effort because I'll have to wash those same dishes and pick up the toys again tomorrow.

  • Perfectionism discourages me from showing hospitality, and I lose an opportunity to allow another woman to be refreshed by seeing my imperfection.

  • Perfectionism destroys my relationship with my sisters-in-Christ. When I compare myself with others, I am either proud of my success or defeated by my failure, and neither promotes unity or love.

  • Perfectionism often reveals pride. I am more concerned about what others think of me than what God thinks. The Bible says that pride is bondage. Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain.” (Psalm 73:6)

    We've defined perfectionism. Maybe we have even discovered it in our own life. Next, we'll look at what to do about it.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Perfectionist Trap - Part 1

Do you ever become frustrated because you can't accomplish everything you wish you could?

I have. Too many times to count.

This frustration often shows up when we are expecting guests. As the hour of their arrival looms nearer, the optimistic goal I had envisioned of a spotless home and lovely meal begins to crumble. Suddenly, I'm transformed into a drill sergeant barking orders to my children. “Clean up your toys. Put your shoes away. Get your clothes changed. They'll be here in an hour!”

Even if I somehow manage to make my home presentable before guests arrive, my heart is not. I can put on a smile for my guests, but my children knowI knowI am not a rested, joy-filled person.

I have learned, or maybe am still learning, that sometimes less than perfect is good enough. 

I don't consider myself a true perfectionist; in some areas of life, I'm rather relaxed. But at times, pride shows its ugly face, and I put myself and my family under unnecessary pressure. It may be those times that guests are coming or maybe when I decide to make all my food from scratch. It is not wrong to want my home to look nice for guests or to cook nutritious food, but God says, “The fear of man bringeth a snare”. (Proverbs 29:25) When my goal is to impress others, I've fallen into the trap of perfectionism.

Next, we will look at what is perfectionism.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Freedom Ranger Wrap Up

The Freedom Ranger chickens were ten weeks old this week. They continued to be healthy and alert. They had grown enough that they were a little crowded in their pen, especially when they see us walk out in the morning and all crowd to the one end in anticipation of their feed. I wish we could have left them free range, but we were worried about predators. At least in this pen, we could move them to fresh grass several times a day.

This week was B-Day. And here is where I prove what a sissy homesteader we are.

To butcher our chickens, we loaded them up in crates and took them to a neighboring farm. A couple hours later I picked up beautifully cleaned chickens packed in ice. Maybe someday we will attempt to butcher our own chickens, but at our stage of life, spending two dollars a bird to have someone else do the work is money well spent!

This was our first time to try the Freedom Ranger breed - thanks to an offer from Freedom Ranger Hatchery to try out their chicks. While they gave us free chicks, all the opinions written here are my own.

If you want a comparison - here is the post telling about our chicken raising experience with Cornish Cross last year.

Last year we raised 21 Cornish Cross chickens for eight weeks. Our cost were almost identical to raising 23 Freedom Rangers for ten weeks. (We started out with 26 chicks and three died the first few weeks.)

The biggest difference was size. While at eight weeks the Cornish Cross averaged 5.5 pound, the Freedom Rangers were slower growing. Even at ten weeks the average size was almost four pound, 3.9 pound to be exact. Maybe we should have allowed them to grow longer before butchering, or since we are still newbies, maybe we should have done something different in our feeding to gain greater size.

But I expected a size difference. If you have ever raised Cornish Cross you know that about all they do is hang their heads in the feed trough and eat. The Freedom Rangers ate heartily when we poured feed in the trough but they also nibbled at grass, watched the cat walk across the yard, and in general appeared to be interested in life around them. More than once, when I was filling their water, they pushed against the wire and escaped, capering around the yard before we could capture them again.

Our average cost per chicken was $8.58. This includes feed and butchering. The average price per pound was $2.20. Since I know that local free range chickens often sell for $12.00, I was pleased with our results.

Now for taste. I have heard often that Freedom Rangers taste better. I popped a chicken in my dutch oven, surrounded it with potatoes, onions, garlic, and carrots and threw on some seasonings. A few hours later, the house smelled wonderful.

I really don't know if Freedom Rangers taste better than Cornish Cross. I'd have to do a side-by-side comparison. But recently I had brought some chicken at the store to hold us over until these were ready to butcher. Ed took one bite of our own chicken this week and said there was no comparison to store chicken meat. The chicken was so tender and flavorful with no red streaks along the bone.

The fulfillment of raising your own food make all the frustration worthwhile!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Pesto Pizza

Pizza is a weekly event at our house. It is a fun way to enjoy whatever is in season in our garden.

 This week I whirled together some fresh pesto. (The leftovers went into ice cube trays and into the freezer to mimic this pizza in the winter.)

With the pesto spread on a crust with some sliced tomatoes, sweet yellow peppers, and mozarella cheese...

This was a pizza with memories to make you drool.

I didn't even mind that our children took one look at the green stuff and wouldn't try it. That meant more for Ed and me!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Off the Shelf - August

Another month past already? Here are the favorites off our our book shelf or from the library this month.

Children's Picture Books

The House of 12 Bunnies - Caroline Stills
My youngest children poured over this book. Sort of an "I Spy" for the littlest ones.

A Loon Alone- Pamela Love
A sweet story of a lost loon chick.

Red Wolf Country - Jonathan London
Lovely book about the red wolves and their world.

Mouse Was Mad - Linda Urban
Cute pictures and fun story about an angry mouse.

Chapter Books

The Wheel on the School - Meindert DeJong
My children loved following the adventures as these lively Dutch children searched for a wheel to place on their school roof to attract storks to their town.

Jared's Island - Marguerite de Angeli
Shipwreck, pirate treasure, camping with the Indians - this book has all the adventure a boy (or girl) can ask. I love the way De Angeli combines a good story with a historical time period and was surprised to find one of her books I had never read. We all enjoyed this one.

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm -  Kate Douglas Wiggin
A book we enjoyed on audio from Books Should Be Free

The Bible in the Wall
A true story of a man who did everything possible to flee from the Word of God. Set in the Swiss Alps in the 1800s.

Adult Books

The Checklist Manifesto - Atul Gawande
A book about how a surgeon applied aviator's checklists to improve his practice? Occasionally I'll pick up a book completely out of my usual genre - like this one. And enjoy it! Though I suspect if I ever need surgery, I'll be one of those annoying patients who think they can tell the surgeon how it is done just because I read one book on the topic!

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