Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Amish Bread: a favorite of many (bread machine recipe)

Some may laugh and say amish bread should not be made in an electric bread machine... But do not judge me until you have tried this delicious recipe!
Amish Bread

2 3/4 cups bread flour
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
18 tablespoons warm water

1. Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine
in the order recommended by the manufacturer.
Select White Bread cycle; press Start.
2. When the dough has raised once and second cycle
of kneading begins, turn machine off.
Reset by pressing Start once again.
This gives the dough two full raising cycles
before the final raising cycle prior to baking


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Pops of Blue

The color blue is soft
and soothing
all throughout our Cottage.

My love affair with Blue
White has outlasted many seasons and trends.

For one reason,  it is so crisp, elegant, refined and timeless. 
 I am amazed at how all of  it will match any color decor
and virtually any style: 

Old World,
City Sleek,
Country Home, 
Elegant Traditional,
it works!!

We hope others will become inspired
by these looks... 
 starring blue and white.  
I encourage you to  find
your own favorite shades
colors for decorating.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Naming the Gifts

"In naming that which is right before me,
 that which I’d otherwise miss,
the invisible becomes visible.”

 –Ann Voskamp, 1000 Gifts

Sometimes in the quiet moments of reflection, I find that I have grown weary, and have almost  lost may hope without realizing it. At these times, the elements of life have crispified my heart, burning & overwhelming the inner me.  Likewise, I realize that I have not spent enough time replenishing myself in the living waters of Truth, and seeking shelter in the refuge of my Father.

Just today, the Perfect Magnificence of God was revealed to me through my sweet little herb plant, and I was reminded that our God restores-- brings life out of -- that which seems barren, and gives me hope through the beauty of His creation in my everyday life.

 I looked at my weary plant the other day and thought, "Oh,  you have nothing left to give, you are so burned and brown and nearly dead,"  but after some rain, a little sprout pushed through the deadness and was fragrant and luscious.  It filled up my heart with His Presence, helping me see His care and love for a discarded little herb...... and  how much more for us?  All of His Goodness flooded my heart, I was filled with awe,  as one of my favorite scriptures came to mind and made me smile with gratitude.

As a gardener and amateur Herbalist, I am always so comforted by John Chapter 15,  "The True Vine," maybe because it was one of the first ways God broke through the indifferent, self absorbed blind person I had become years ago.  Instead of being like the old person I was, I must have the heart of a gardener. 

Even while God is able to do all things and He is more than willing- He requires that we ourselves tend our inner garden (heart) as well; so that when we do choose to spend time with Him.  It’s not always in saying.... "Father, if you have a really large pair of sheers handy, take this situation away because  it’s overwhelming and I cannot see through it."  Instead, we would understand and accept that  it would be a rich experience in which He could rest with us in our sanctuary as we minister to Him, serve Him... and not be frustrated and bewildered with what is referred to as  a 'Martha heart' (which I well know because I had and sometimes still do have one).

I have thought about my little herb, and believe that there are relatable ways we can tend our garden (heart) to help us to be fragrant and luscious on behalf of the Lord, revealing His splendor and glory. The following are just some scriptural anchors that may help in tending your own garden (heart).

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. John 7:38

Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Matthew 6:26

Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. John 15:2

Not everyone relates to plants, but this is where God met me in my time of my worst need for repentance, knowing that I would appreciate more than ever a visual representation of the seemingly dead herb being brought back to life. I was once dead in sin,  and He brought me back to life. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Summer's Fleeting Season

Fresh Produce...  Campfires, Fireflies, Cool Blue Swimming Pools... Summer is here, but we realized it's fleeting season will melt into Autumn as quickly as our Ice Cream melts in the Cone. 

So for now, we cherish every moment of this glorious season.  We stay up later, watching children zipping around the yard, diving, jumping, doing their best to outwit the twinkling little insects and capture them, for just a moment, in jars.   Later, they hold them up to the sky and let them go.

Firefly season in Pennsylvania is fleeting. For just a few months our weather is perfect and our yards glow.   Our days are warm and our nights are clear and cooler.  And here at the Cottage, we revel in our picnics, pool time, fun and fireflies. Because the wonder of it ends all too soon.

We can only hold it for a moment. We need to make the most of it.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Teaching Math... the Fun Way!

Add the Candy drops
1. count the ones above the pencil
2. Count the ones below the pencil
3 Add the two sums together
4.  Celebrate by eating the candy!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

On Growing Your Own Food

Thousands of home gardeners around the USA are demonstrating that they can grow an amazing amount of healthy and delicious vegetable bounty in their own backyards

The best reason to grow your own vegetables is because it is healthier:  the gardener controls what goes on and in the crop, plus convenience doesn't get any easier than walking 15 feet from the garden to the kitchen.

Plants, seeds, soil enhancements, and gardening tools are inexpensive and minimal compared to always buying everything at the Supermarket

I love how I am able to walk outside with a basket and scissors,
then come inside and create beautiful arrangements
any time I like.

A  fair share of crops can also be grown on decks, balconies or window boxes. There's even upside down tomato plant grower so small spaces can take advantage of every square inch. 

Adding Color to the yard or home could not be easier

Monday, August 5, 2013

Peace- How Perfect?

Have you mothers out there noticed that we frequently do not get enough sleep?  I seem to be doing “just one more thing” before I fall into bed every evening, although we retire to bed MUCH earlier than any of our friends.  But many nights, I do not get a good night’s sleep.  Last week, Kimba vomited in his bed, so I moved him into ours as I stripped the sheets and threw them into the washer, praying a word of thanks that I DID stay up 15 minutes longer to fold the clothes in the dryer, & throw the wet clothes in the dryer from the washer. And so my LORD provided an empty washing machine into which I could throw those foul smelling sheets.  Papa was out of town for training for his job, so I was on my own.  When I finished spraying Lysol on Kimba's bed, I scooted into our bedroom just in time to hear more gurgling and another round of upchucking in MY bed…YUK.  So I put Kimba  on the couch (with two thick towels under his upper body-flinally getting wise), and stripped my bed, threw the mess into the washer, poured in the Tide, flipped the switch, and hurried back to our bedroom to spray the bed, wipe it down, and put fresh sheets on it. 
Do I have to tell you that when I laid down beside my sick boy a few minutes later, I was praying for strength, patience, and peace?  I often ask the Father to grant me physical energy to get through the next day, and for HIM to somehow multiply my rest during the night.  And He always sustains me!   Even in the past, when I have had to work a 12 hour shift at night, and I didn't get a minute’s nap the day before, He gives me strength to make it through. 
Sometimes other factors drain my energy, such as the tribulations of daily living that the apostle John spoke of in John 16:33 (my devotional reading for today).   “These things I have spoken unto you, that IN ME you might have Peace.  In the world you will have Tribulation, but be of good cheer, for I have Overcome the world.”   I love the Words of Jesus Christ.  They truly are alive and powerful today!  I often pray for perfect Peace, the kind that is inexplicable.  The kind that comes in the midst of vomiting and flat tires, burnt dinner and pre-cancerous skin patches.  Jesus gives us His Perfect peace.  No other kind of Peace is even worth pursuing.  Remember, He is the Prince of Peace!  We are Overcomers when we bring Jesus into our hearts and Lives.  All we have to do is Believe in HIM, and Trust HIM as our LORD and Savior!    My prayer today is that the Lord Jesus Christ will give me His Peace, and fill me with His all-sustaining rest!
The peaceful waters at Nimmo, Arkansas

Thursday, August 1, 2013

All Abloom at Blue Willow

In the garden of Blue Willow Cottage lies a rich harvest of creativity.

Our gentle riot of flowers and herbs yield charming watercolor-like dishes and sumptuous potpourris for later in the year. 

Our Garden is the very center of the wheel of our summer life!.  We love mixing flowers, herbs, and vegetables together in the garden.  Some flowers are meant for fresh bouquets, others are destined to be dried for wreaths, gift embellishing, or for potpourri.


 I love to research ancient lore and symbolism behind each plant and herb we choose to plant.  

We have little pocket gardens along the rocky ledge in the alley at the side of our cottage home. 

Serving Colorful meals using things grown
in my own backyard
makes me happy.
We enjoy creating new omelets recipes, casseroles, and flavorful meals using our harvest from the garden.