Snow Men

Most years there's at least one great snowman photo. One of my own men is missing in this photo, off working at McDonald's on his Saturday morning.
I especially like the 'do' on this year's snowman - sporty short.

I can't believe My Middle son is as tall as his dad --- almost a tiny bit taller!
And BTW, My Youngest is the only one of my brood that has gotten away with wearing just a hoodie ("But it's a warm one, Mom!!") to play out in the snow. But notice that Middle Son has gotten past it and has dressed himself warmly. Ah!


My Luve

Hey, Wonderful Husband!

O my Luve's like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve's like the melodie
That’s sweetly play'd in tune.

Thanks for the beautiful tiny roses ...

As fair art thou, my bonnie lad,
So deep in luve am I:
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry.

... on our 27th Valentine's day! I was only 17 on our first - you were almost 20.

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun:
I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.


True Love

Passing by an elderly friend, I placed my hand on her bent back and glanced back to give her a quick greeting. I thought she was just leaning over the table at which her husband was seated, speaking quietly with him. Startled, she glanced up to return my smile ---
then she went back to tying her husband's shoe.
And I'm still thinking about that.

This particular elder has been present in my life since I was very young. She taught my youth group Sunday school class. Typical teen, I didn't hear very much of what she said in that class, since I was absolutely absorbed in studying everyone else. But I did hear enough to register that this was a Godly woman, well-versed in the scriptures. She never yelled at us, even when we richly deserved it, and always seemed to be softly chuckling instead, just a little bit. I didn't get to enjoy her company during my baby-bearing years, but was so happy to see her when we started attending the same church about twelve years ago. She proved to be the very same person - a consistency which I appreciate more and more - kind and wise, unafraid and full of faith, bold and gentle at the same time. As an adult actually listening to her teach, I am amazed at her deep and wide understanding of God's word. Knowing her now (and then) as a Church Mother, I've benefitted from her timely words and forgiving nature. I know no one is perfect, but truly, she's a long-time example to me of a Great Woman of Faith.

But nothing I've seen, heard or received from her stands above that speaking glimpse of her as she bent to tie her husband's shoe. Aha! True Love! Not the Valentine Day kind of sticky-sweet emotion, nor a hot flash of desire ... but His example followed as Servant.

Most of us women have been in the uncomfortable position of incapacity - NEEDFUL of personal care that we were unable to provide for ourselves, right? Just childbirth will put you there - an epidural will take you there very quickly. Numb from the waist down? You're gonna need some help with that. In dealing with long term illness, I've found myself in that unenviable, needful spot more times than I can count, in which I've had to ask for help opening a jar, lifting a gallon of milk, getting my socks on; simply standing was a challenge in the not-so-long-ago past.
It's humbling.
It's pride-crushing.
Quickly you find out who loves you when you need help tying your own shoe in the midst of a crowd of people who are moving along at a pace you cannot keep. And it's offered, even before you can ask. Sometimes even before you realize the need, it's being met! This kind of special love, Servant Love, is one of the true gems you might discover in the darkness of illness. Not that you would wish yourself there, but it's to be found nowhere else. A precious treasure, never taken for granted, something to be marveled over again and again.

On Valentine's Day, I can know that this woman's husband has the opportunity to enjoy a rare and extravagant gift. She's giving him the gift of True Love in the simple acts of service - like tying his shoe. Her love and devotion was obvious to all in that pinpoint-peephole lesson, taking less than 2 seconds, fortifying my resolutions to press forward, in True Love - serving those to whom I've given myself and those who've been given to me.
As I've been loved.
No matter what. In every circumstance.



Lucky Dumplings

Recently, I was invited to visit in the home of a new, lovely friend. A true homemaker, she made a wonderful lunch --- chicken and dumplings, green beans, cranberry fluffy-something divine, and even a coffee cake dessert! Have you ever? I mean who serves all of that for lunch?! That's a full on holiday dinner! And so, I stuffed myself right to the point of illness.
The rare and wonderful gift of hospitality must be properly appreciated, after all!

Of course, I've always been a chicken and dumpling fan. Who isn't? I've not made the real kind - the authentic mixemuprollemout kind. Biscuit dumplings, yes, ready-made mix dumplings and even tortilla dumplings, yes. But nothing can compare to the real thing - the kind my mother-in-law always made. The kind my friend made for lunch. Even knowing my culinary limitations, I still asked for the recipe. The result wasn't quite as wonderful as hers, but it was still really good!
And just in case you are longing for some dumplings to romp about in your own kitchen, here's the recipe she gave to me. She warned me though, "It took me a few times to get this right..."
I must've gotten lucky.
That means you might, too.

(recipe conversation style)
Boil a whole fryer chicken. When it's cooked thoroughly, remove chicken, shred pieces to return later, and reserve the broth. (OR --- use about 6 cups of canned broth)
Bring the broth to boil in a larger pan on stove top. While heating, mix the dumpling dough.

Cut 1 tablespoon of shortening into a mix of 1 c. flour and 1 teaspoon salt. Into that crumbly mixture stir an egg and 1/3 c. of the warm broth. The dough will be sticky! Sprinkle the dough, board, pin and hands with flour. Roll and cut.

Drop by twos or threes into the boiling broth, stirring after every few additions.
Simmer 20 minutes. Thicken to preference with corn starch.
Return the chicken pieces to the dumplings and broth.



I never used coupons --- in all of my 23 years of shopping for groceries for our family. I just bought the cheapest stuff I could that would still satisfy our needs, and sometimes our wants. Couponing friends told me stories, quasi-legends, of cartloads of goods for $13.29, or some other outrageously small amount. After listening to Dave Ramsey and catching the vision for getting out of debt, I endured a coupon class at my local library.

Truly, I felt like an idiot! These women (NO men) spoke a language all their own. I could catch a few repeating phrases like "stacking", "bricks", and "inserts" but had no clue what they meant. I squinted as I taxed my brain and annoyed my seat neighbors by whispering questions since they already seemed to understand! At home, I puzzled over a few coupon websites that gave the tedious direction with enough detail for my frazzled brain to begin to get a glimmer of understanding. I started buying Sunday newspapers, two a week, and using the online coupon match-ups while making out my weekly grocery lists.

Five months or so later ... I finally get it! And every week I leave the store spending less and getting more (and better quality) than ever before. In fact, this week, I got these things for FREE!
Every week free stuff makes its way into my cart and onto my shelves --- how much fun is that! Check out Stockpiling Moms 101 Series for their weekly coupon match-ups - what a help they've been!


Dish Partner

A little bit of last summer is still holding on!

I only buy red begonias with green leaves. The way the colors pop against each other makes them one of my favorite choices. And they practically grow into a bush over the course of the summer! This one sat out the 2010 growing season next to the dish birdfeeder in front of the house. Even birds need atmosphere, yes?

Right before the first frost, I broke it all off and brought it in brighten the winter months while I wash dishes. I know myself well enough to predict its certain death if it wasn't placed near a water source. Every now and then, especially during this especially white winter we've been having, I lean over to get a nose-ful of that greenish, warm loaminess.

My houseplants always die a long and lingering dry death! Terrible neglect. But I think this one might make it all the way to spring!

(Do I need to talk about all the water spatters on the window, which I didn't wipe before taking the picture? I didn't think so...)