Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Reformation Day

Today, 495 years ago, a man posted a notice on a church door.

 In those days when you disagreed with something, you wrote it out, and posted it on the church. ( Kind of like today's bulletin boards.) He posted 95 things that he disagreed with the church about. Little did he know what kind of a thing he would start by doing that.....The Reformation.

The Reformation affects all evangelical, Bible-believing churches. If not for the grace of God and the courage of Martin Luther (and many others), we would not be where we are today.

So our church remembers this day, October 31st, as Reformation Day. A day to remember, be thankful, and have fun.

Right after church was over last Sunday, a few of us descended to a park, with yummy food of course.

This was my contribution...Harvest Stew in the slow cooker.

We had all sorts of German/Harvest type foods....Pumpkin Soup, Salads, Sausages, cheeses, pretzels.....

And every year someone brings Worms. The Diet of Worms to be precise. (In 1521 at the Diet of Worms, or the formal assembly in Worms, Germany, Luther stood by his beliefs about the church and challenged the authority of the Pope.)

After eating, one of the young men read a bit about Luther.

We love to sing, and someone found a fun song about the Reformation put to a familiar tune. Some of the adults serenaded us.

Then it was time for the games.

First off, Pin the Thesis to the Door at Wittenberg.

And yes, those are the 95 thesis' in teeny tiny print.

My Sweetie was the designated spinner.

We used little sticky tabs with each child's name on it, My Sweetie pointed them in the right direction, and they tried to stick their sticky-note as close to the center as they could.

Another game was Toss the Coins Into the Coffer.

"When the coin in the coffer rings, 
a soul from purgatory springs."
~John Tetzel

John Tetzel was a Dominican preacher who sold indulgences like crazy, and even went as far as to sell indulgences on sins that had not yet been committed. Many of Luther's items on the thesis dealt with this.

Tossing a gold coin in....

Hmmmm, those gold coins look like they were enjoyed by Nutsy.

Half the fun was watching others play the games.

The next game up was an egg toss. This wasn't a game that had anything to do with the Reformation; but was sure fun to watch because out of the 36 eggs that my friend brought? 6 of them were raw.


Nobody got hit badly though.

Onto the last game, Keep the Bible From the Monk.

These rolls of paper were meant to be Bibles, which in the 16th century were kept out of the hands of the common people by the church.

And here is the Monk....

The kids picked up a Bible from one end of the area, and tried to get past the Monk, who was trying to tag them.


Pretty people watching the games.

After the games some people played baseball....

....and volleyball too.

Sweet fellowship.....

....with good friends.

So today, we are remembering God's providence, and his Sovereign power that we trust in. And how he used regular, ordinary men to further His kingdom.

Happy Reformation Day!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Beloved Books - Sugar Creek Gang

If you take one look inside my house you will see that books are my weakness. We now have 14 bookcases spread throughout the house holding over 1500 treasures. And not just hard-copy books, but also books on CD. So if you are like me and are looking for a good book for your children to listen to, check out the Sugar Creek Gang Books from Beloved Books.


What It Is:

The author of these books, Paul Hutchens, was a graduate of Moody Bible Institute. After graduating, he was ordained a baptist minister and led revival meetings around the States. He had to cut short his ministry years after being diagnosed with tuberculosis, but then began to write Christian adventure stories for boys and girls in 1939. He ended up writing 36 of these books that have been enjoyed by children for generations.

 The story follows Bill Collins and his friends, who make up The Sugar Creek Gang. There is Poetry, his best friend, who always seems to have a poem to recite. Circus is the one who is the most athletic of the group and can always be found climbing a tree or pole. Dragonfly is so nicknamed because he is the observant one; who sees things going on in the background. Then there is Big Jim, the leader of the gang who is the oldest and has lots of outdoor experience from his years in boy scouts. The smallest member is Little Jim, who is also the youngest and is described as the good Christian.

These five boys find adventure (as boys usually do), and through their times together they learn, laugh, and help one another. The gospel and Biblical truths are always a part of the stories, and good character and morals is encouraged.

What You Get:

I received volume 1 in the series. This 12 CD set includes the following books:

The Swamp Robber
The Killer Bear
The Winter Rescue
The Lost Campers
Chicago Adventure
The Secret Hideout

Each volume is $54.95. You could also purchase all 6 volumes for $279.70, saving $50. I also have a special coupon code to get 20% off your entire purchase - just type in JoyfulHeartsFaces-20.

The narrator, Paul Ramseyer, actually recorded these books for radio. His style of reading is unique. He isn't just reading the book to you; it really feels like he is actually Bill Collins, who is telling you all about the adventures he has had. There are breaks where music cuts in for a few seconds; it was probably where they would have had commercial breaks, and were usually good stopping places on the CD.


How We Used This and What We Thought:

We are a CD listening family, so this fit perfectly for us. It is very cozy for us in the afternoon when school is done, to listen to a book on CD. We bring out some quiet toys, Bookworm knits, Mr. Lego draws, and we all enjoy some tea or hot chocolate while we listen. These books took you back to a time when there were one-room schoolhouses, chores to do in the barn, and the days before television. But what I liked most? The gospel was clearly presented. You saw the sin of Circus's alcoholic dad but then how God changed his heart and worked evil for good. Throughout the story Bill Collins sees how sin corrupts the world, but that through Jesus, we can have eternal life.

Bookworm had actually read a couple of the books but really enjoyed listening to them again. She also didn't mind that the main characters were boys; in fact all three of my girls really enjoyed the stories. And even Nutsy was able to sit and listen to the captivating stories. I know that my children will enjoy hours of listening time with these CD's, and I like that there are 6 more volumes to purchase. Christmas is coming soon......

Check out what my fellow Crew members thought about this CD set by clicking below. And check out other fun products from Beloved Books!


Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, for my honest and humble review. All opinions are mine.

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That it is really dark now in the mornings. I biked with my Sweetie 4 times last week, and each morning it seemed darker. Aside from that I am loving the exercise I am getting.

What I'm reading: I started reading a new book to the kids last week; The Voyages of Doctor Doolittle by Hugh Lofting. They are really enjoying it and I love getting back into reading regularly to them.

What we're learning: This week we have a Fall break with our co-op; this is giving all the kids time to prepare their presentations for history which they'll give in early November. We are also getting a head start with our 4H presentations which are due in February...Mr. Lego is doing his on meat goats, Bookworm will do something about rabbits, and Dasher is still undecided.

What I'm watching: The Giants win the World Series last night. It was an exciting last game and we all piled into our room upstairs to watch it.

What's cooking: This week I am making Gyros in the crock pot one night, Black Bean and Corn Quesadillas another, and Beef Bok Choy Hot Pot this weekend. Bookworm has been making bread lately and want to try to make sandwich wheat bread this week.

What I'm creating: I have 3 more reviews to write and then I am done for the year! I do enjoy writing, but I'm looking forward to a break.

What I'm praying: Today I am praying for those people I know that need employment; that the Lord would continue to supply their needs and give them wisdom.

What I'm planning: I am madly planning our poultry is challenging to plan out a project that you don't know much about, but don't I do that all the time in homeschooling? So far I think I have the whole first meeting figured out, where we'll be learning all about the parts of a bird.

What we did this last weekend: We did some work around the house on Saturday; I cleaned some of the cabinet fronts in our kitchen, and cleaned the stove and microwave. Fun, fun, fun. Yesterday we went to church and Sunday school, then a few of us went to a nearby park for our Reformation Day party.

What I'm looking forward to: We are visiting with friends later today, and then it looks like we'll be having a quiet week this week. With the dark mornings I am also looking forward to switching our clocks backwards an hour this weekend.

A picture to share:

~ A gaggle of children at our Reformation Day party yesterday....

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Sauce

It's that time of year again, when all of the tomatoes from the summer need to be used up. Here is California that happens in October; for the rest of the nation it might be a bit earlier so you might have to save this recipe for next year. But I am always on the look out for ways to preserve that home-grown tomato deliciousness and love how this turned out.

I was inspired by Spring Warren's book The Quarter Acre Farm, and her description of how she roasted and preserved her tomatoes.

First, the tomatoes.

I found "seconds" tomatoes at a nearby can tell they are the leftovers below by their bruises.

I wash, core and quarter them.

The other ingredient I took photos of was garlic...I used about 10 cloves. I didn't mince them, just left them whole.

I also chopped up an eggplant, roughly chopped up a couple of onions, and then added 5 cut carrots. The sweetness of the carrots is there to counteract against the acidity of the tomatoes. (At this point I was in cooking mode and forgot to take photos.)

It all went into my large roasting pan.

This lovely mixture went into the oven which had been preheated to 475 degrees.

After a half hour, I gave it a stir.

It looked like this:

Another half hour and another stir...


....and once more.

And I must say that my house smelled divine.

After about 2 1/2 hours it looked like glop, which is what Spring Warren said was the desired result. At this point, I turned off the oven and let it sit in the pan overnight.

The next morning, I got out the rest of my ingredients.

Olive oil, and fresh basil.

Into each batch in my blender went some of the tomato mixture, a handful of basil, a tablespoon or so of olive oil, and about 3/4 cup water.

I was going for a pretty saucy mixture, so I blended until I saw this.

At this point you can make it what you want. For a more runny sauce you would add more water, for a thicker sauce not as much.

It was pretty thick stuff...this smelled so good I almost boiled up some pasta right then just to sample some.

I made enough to fill 6 pint-sized jars.

These went into the freezer.

There was about a half a cup of it that wouldn't fit, so we heated it up and dipped crackers in it. It actually reminded me of bruschetta, which made me think that I could have just pulsed the blender and made it either a chunky pasta sauce or a dip for crackers or french bread. Yum.

And that's what I love about this recipe...the medley of things you could make from it. It is all up to the imagination and inspiration of the cook.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Sauce


10 pounds ripe tomatoes, washed and quartered
1 eggplant, sliced and roughly chopped
2 large onions, roughly chopped
5 carrots, cut into 2 or 3 pieces
10 cloves of peeled garlic
Olive oil
Fresh basil


Prepare vegetables while oven preheats to 475 degrees. Place into a large roasting pan and put in oven. Check and stir every half hour, until mixture is very soft and soggy. (This will take 2-4 hours.) Turn off oven and leave mixture inside overnight or for 8 hours. Place 2-3 cups of tomato mixture, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 cup fresh basil, and 3/4 to 1 cup water in blender. Blend until desired consistency. Freeze in jars, Ziploc bags, or eat for dinner that night with Italian Sausage and pasta. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Flashback Friday - North Carolina Trip Part 2

Besides tasting real southern food, the only other thing I absolutely had to do while in NC was to see and touch the Atlantic Ocean.

The lay of the land is very different there; the beach in South Carolina was actually closer than the ones in North Carolina, what with the outer banks and all. So we headed south, through South Carolina, and to Charleston.

We drove through the French Quarter and by all the old houses. The southern mansions were incredibly beautiful and made me think of things I had seen in history books.

Food was on my mind, so we ate at Jestine's.

 On our plates? Flounder and Grits, Fried Okra, Hush Puppies, Fried Chicken, Cornbread, and Sweet Tea. (And now I know why so many people rave about Sweet Tea.)

We drove out of the city, towards the east, and to Folly Beach.

Not the most picturesque day, but pretty in its own way.

A strange thing for our children....looking at the ocean and facing east....

Even though it was a bit chilly (but strangely humid), the kids played in the waves.

I would have liked to have taken a swim, but I did stick my feet in the water, which really seemed like it was the temperature of bath water. So strange to someone from the Pacific!

Our dear friends and us.

In a perfect world I would have the east coast ocean temperature and seashells, and the west coast rocks and crags, that give such beautiful views.

Looking down this street near the beach made me feel like I was in another world.

On the long drive back, we stopped at the restaurant our family had heard about but never been to....THE  CRACKER BARREL.

 After 5 days of heavy southern food, I was craving a salad. And wouldn't you know it, my lovely chicken salad that I ordered came with fried bits of chicken. There is no way around it, fried food is an integral part of southern eating.

We had such a fun time there....those of you who are Cracker Barrel fans will see the triangular golf-ball-pin games on the table that we played with while waiting for our food.

 On a side note: we decided to buy a few jars of real maple syrup from Cracker Barrel to bring home as gifts. We wisely packed the bottles inside Ziploc bags in our suitcase for the journey home. When we got home we opened it up to find a note from the airport security, that they had gone through our suitcase and completely taken everything out, and put it back again....apparently seeing 7 glass bottles inside plastic bags on the x-ray machine puts up red flags.

Our next adventure in NC? Heading north, and to Mt. Airy.

And if any of you are Andy Griffith fans, you'll recognize that city. It was Andy Griffith's hometown, and the place where Mayberry from the Andy Griffith Show was based on.

We could tell we were in the right spot because right when we turned off the main road and into the town we saw this:

Yup, the squad car. (without the two way radio and machine guns, of course.)

You could go for Andy Griffith tours in the squad car, and the guy will take you all over Mt. Airy, showing you the sights.

But first, lunch.

At the Snappy Lunch.

My cute little babies, eating Snappy Lunch's famous pork chop sandwiches.

Then we started walking around and saw.....

"Maude, Al, if those hamburgers are ruined, I won't be responsible!"

"Hey to Goober!" (Nothing lays on his chest)

 "Watch your foot, I'm gonna rock forward."

"Sarah, get me Juanita down at the Diner."

And Foley's Market, Fred's Radio Repair, and the Mayberry Hotel too.

Then we all saw this....

...and we went inside.

The courthouse, with the jail cells, and the infamous water crock that Otis spiked during one of his stays over a long weekend.

 Prisoners in the Mayberry Jail.

And there was Barney Fife himself, with his feet up and everything.

In the middle of town was this statue, from the opening scene of every Andy Griffith Show.

On the drive up to Mt. Airy we had been reading a tour book, and found out that the Siamese twins were buried right near this area.

I have no idea why we did this, but we went to the cemetery and found their gravestone.

I guess that is what homeschoolers do when they travel.

Back to Charlotte, NC and to our friends house, for a few more precious day of fellowship with them.

All the kids.....

And just so you can how much they have grown in 6 years, here is a photo we took last summer when our friends visited.

We made lots of fun memories on our trip to North Carolina, and I hope you enjoyed reading my Friday Flashback.