Thursday, July 19

Post the One Hundredth! Plus, More Owl Corner and Some Good Cookin'

Well, it's taken almost two years and many unposted entries, but I've finally made it to one hundred entries!  Hard to believe.  Also hard to believe is that I'll have been at this for two years on July 25!  Time really passes quickly anymore.  I can't tell you how many times my husband and I have expressed disbelief about being married eight years, or living in Ohio for four years, or this or that--just because it doesn't feel like that long!  Some things change; some things stay the same.  But above it all, it's been a mostly happy journey, and that's what matters.  Thanks for being a reader over the past two years!  I appreciate it! 

This Week's Owl Corner
This week we feature the Barn Owl in our Owl corner.  Aptly named, the Barn Owl is usually found in and around barns, and are a wonderful addition to life on the farm.  Barn Owls are great hunters and excel at keeping the rodent population under control, usually successfully hunting in total darkness.  They are known to hunt small mammals, including mice, voles, and shrews. They are able to sneak up on prey in the dark because their wings make almost no noise while flying, due to unique feathers and larger-than-normal wings in proportion to their body size.  This species of owl is middle-of-the-road in size, measuring between 1'and 1'-6" in height and a wing span of 3'-4" to 4' in length.  It has a distinctive heart-shaped white area on its face, which is found on no other owls.

Information taken from The Cincinnati Zoo website and

Chicken rice casserole with dill French bread
Delicious Casserole
While up in Michigan last week, my mom fixed a delicious casserole of chicken and wild rice.  She found it in a Betty Crocker cookbook, and made some adjustments.  To see the recipe, click this link: Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole.  It's good and extremely hardy--a perfect meal for winter--but also good in the summer too.  I would like to make it again and see how it freezes.

Breadmaking 101
Well, maybe this should be "Breadmaking 100".  I know I'm a bit late to the bread machine craze, but I finally have the bread machine that I've wanted for quite a while.  I have had fun with it the past few days!  I've made yeast doughs by hand before, for pizza crusts and rolls and such, but have never had the time to experiment with bread making, so this is almost as fun for me, and without all of the elbow grease!  I chose a Cuisinart breadmaker, on sale at Elder-Beerman here in the mall, over a month ago.  With everything that has happened over the last month, the machine has been sitting in its box in our living room, sad and unused, until this past Sunday, when I was finally able to pull it out, wash the insides, and experiment!  After a trip to the grocery store to get some fresh yeast and bread flour, I was ready to try out my machine.  My first attempt at bread was a dill French bread loaf.  It turned out good, and so next I tried the plain ol' white bread loaf.  That turned out good too!  So tonight, I decided that because we were having lasagna, I was going to make a recipe for garlic cheese knot dough, to try out the dough-only function.  The function worked great, but took an hour and a half.  The recipe itself was just eh, so when I make them again I'll tweak it a bit.  I baked up half and froze the other half (the recipe makes a dozen).  I also decided that, since the dill French bread was three days old and beginning to go stale, I would make what was left into croutons for hubby's lunch salads.  Here is the simple recipe for the croutons I made:

6 slices of day-old bread, cut into cubes
4 tbsp. butter, melted
Garlic powder, salt, basil, oregano, and Parmesan cheese, to taste (start small and add as needed-I added the flavors, then dipped a piece of bread in the butter to taste it, adjusting as necessary)

Here are the instructions.  Are you ready?  Here we go!
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  
Cut bread into cubes.  Put the cubed bread into a medium-sized bowl.  
Such cute little cubes!
Mix the butter and seasonings until smooth in a small bowl, then pour into the bowl with bread cubes.  Toss bread cubes and butter mix to coat evenly.

Spread the bread cubes in a single row on a baking sheet lined with parchment.  
Bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes or so, checking and stirring the bread every 15 minutes, until the bread is crunchy and golden brown.  Yum!
Delicious on salad, but I think I could sit and eat the whole pan by themselves.  You can play around with the ingredients in the butter mix, and you could sub olive oil for the butter, if you wanted.  So easy and tasty!  Makes a great snack, too!

Milestones are great.  They can show an accomplishment, or progress, or an end to a lot of hard work.  I love milestones--they give me something to look forward to and work hard to accomplish.  Milestones are a great time to give God the glory and praise for all He has done, because we accomplish nothing on our own, but only by God's grace.  The Bible is full of Scripture that tell us to rejoice in the Lord (Philippians 4:4-"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!"), so why not give Him praise and glory for all things, big and small?  I will praise the Lord for this milestone, and everything else in my life, both good and bad.  Will you?

Thursday, July 12

Independence Day Celebrations!

What Fun We've Been Having
Hello!  It's been a little while since I've been on here.  We've had a lot going on over the past few weeks!  We were affected by the storm that moved across the eastern US on June 29, resulting in no access to the Internet or any news for several days.  Praise the Lord, though, that we didn't lose power during one of the hottest weeks of the year, though!  We watched the storm come through, and it was unlike anything we'd ever seen.  After the storm, we drove through town to see how everyone else fared, and it was an astonishing scene of destruction.  Massive trees were uprooted and homes damaged, windows were blown out and shattered, debris in the streets, and about 90% of the city was without power.  While everyone has their power back, there is still a lot of cleaning up being done.  I didn't have to go in to work last week--the town where I work didn't have power until last Wednesday night, and I'd requested Thursday off to go up to Michigan to visit family (more about that in a moment).  To sum it up, I ended up with a surprise week of vacation thanks to the storms!  I needed it, but it's been really hard to get the motivation to be back at work this week as a result.  I wish I had more pictures, but these will do for now:
Overturned shed in the yard next to my work.
Wide view of the house across from where I work.  The arrow on the left shows the bottom half of what's left of a pine tree that was about the same height as the one next to it; the arrow on the right shows half of a tree that was destroyed.
A closer picture of the destroyed tree.
Everything in town had pretty much come to a stand-still for the Fourth of July celebrations, and even though the fireworks happened as scheduled here, we opted to stay in and out of the intense heat.  Besides, we knew we were going to see the granddaddy of all fireworks shows up in Bay City, Michigan.  Every year, since before I was born, the city has held a three-day fireworks festival for Independence Day, and this year was the 50th anniversary of the festival.  They had promised that it would be the biggest show ever, and it truly was.  We left Thursday and stayed with my mom, as we always do.  I showed my mom how to make the scented gels, and we made a dozen together, creating new scents and having a good time.
The next day, my mom, stepdad, husband and I all traveled an hour and a half north to a beach on Lake Huron.  It had been years since I'd been up that way, and I had forgotten how beautiful of a drive it was.  We took food with us and once we arrived at the beach, we had ourselves a nice picnic, with grilled hot dogs, all kinds of chips, a delicious broccoli cole slaw, and fresh watermelon.  We spent several hours there, until the beach began to get too crowded for our liking and we began to get a little crispy.  We headed back to meet my sister and her husband for dinner at a favorite Mongolian barbecue restaurant, and we all had a good time together.
Saturday was the big day!  Lunch with my dad, a little shopping with my sister and brother-in-law, and the fireworks festival!!  My hubby and I left a little early to go to a few shops downtown (there are some really great little boutiques in Bay City), and several antiques stores, as well.  I have to credit my love of antiques and historic architecture to growing up in Bay City, because it has a good amount of both!  It's changed since I left almost fifteen years ago, but it still has some great gems.  I found a small cast iron cauldron at an antiques shop just before lunch, and plan to give it a new coat of paint and use it for a little flower pot on our table on the patio.  It's super-cute.  I'll post pictures later.  Then it was time to meet for lunch, and we ate at a little Italian restaurant and chatted.  Afterward, we went to St. Laurent Brothers, the chocolate/candy store that's been there since 1903.  I have always loved going there, and since I no longer live there, it's always a treat to be able to stop in.  I sampled an almond confection that was great--and I don't really even like almonds!--they had coated whole almonds in dark chocolate, then coated it in cocoa powder, and it was delicious!  We did some errands with my sis and b-i-l, and then had dinner.  Then, finally time for the fireworks!  We met my sister and b-i-l at the park downtown, and after waiting for a few hours, it was time for the fireworks to begin!  They shot off 50,000 shells in a fifty-minute show choreographed to music.  It was AWESOME!!  They usually have a great show every year, but this was above and beyond what we expected.  We were all impressed.  To see pro photos and a video of the entire show, click this link to the Bay City Times July 7.  You won't be sorry...unless you're sorry you missed it!  I took video, too, but the videos are way too big to load onto here and even YouTube, so I'll just post a few photos for your enjoyment:
Whew!  This is a long post!

And now...onto the Owl Corner!

Photo from
This week's little guy is called an Elf Owl.  He's called such because he's so tiny.  He's actually the smallest owl in North America, and one of the smallest in the world.  The size of a common sparrow, the elf owl has a call that sounds like a yapping poodle.  Its main habitat area is the southwestern US and parts of Mexico, and eats mostly bugs and beetles.  During breeding season, the male owl is known to sing throughout the night (what a way to woo!), and when the female lays eggs, they usually nest inside old woodpecker holes and saguaro cacti.  The female usually lays 2-4 eggs.  These owls are on the endangered species list.

Photo from, and information from and

And finally
...the next post will be post #100!  I'll have to come up with something good to talk about.  Until then, adios!

Today, Christians are under attack more than ever in this country.  While this is not the first time a nation has rebelled against the commandments of God, I think that we are approaching some really serious consequences for our rebellion.  I have to believe that we have been under the protection of God for a long time, but probably not much longer.  We as Christians are called to be modern-day prophets and evangelists in a world that doesn't want to hear a much-needed message of love and hope. The prophet Ezekiel experienced a world much like the one in which we live today: "He said: “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have been in revolt against Me to this very day.  The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says.’ And whether they listen or fail to listen —for they are a rebellious house —they will know that a prophet has been among them. And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious house. You must speak My words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious." (Ezekiel 2:2-7)  Sounds an awful lot like what we are still called to do today!