Savoring Sprinkle

The anticipation of waiting for the birth of a grandchild is a feeling that never gets old.

We are a blended family and we have 15 grandchildren between us so far ~ 14 of which are living here on this Earth and one we will meet in heaven some day.  We have twice as many boys as girls. M. and I have been in each others lives long enough to have welcomed 11 of these precious souls together.  It is still a thrill to welcome a new life.

It is interesting to see the changes in accessories and technology since I had babies.  For one, I never had an actual photo of any of my children while they were growing inside my womb.

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Side note: Ultra Sound was a fairly new option to determine the gender when I started having children. There was no need for me to have one when I was pregnant with my first baby.  I saw my second child, because it was offered, but I was clueless what I was looking at.  The nurse would say, “Here is a hand, here is a foot.”  I would look very hard, but it was nearly impossible for me to see. With my third child I miscarried his twin during my pregnancy.  When they showed me my son’s image on the screen to reassure me everything was okay, I could clearly see him and knew before they confirmed it that he was a boy.

One of my bonus daughters had a “sprinkle” recently.  In case you are new to this term, a sprinkle is just like a shower, but the gifts are not usually too large because you already have most of the big-ticket items from previous children.  In fact, there really isn’t much point unless you have a lot of children and really need new clothes or accessories for the newest member of the family.  Otherwise it is a nice opportunity to gather with family and friends to celebrate this exciting time of life.

 

Soft onesies, cuddly swaddling blankets, adorable outfits, and a lot of interesting small ticket items like a “Windi the gas passer” (check it out here if you are curious) were given as gifts.  Giggles and “aaah’s” were heard as each gift was opened.

 

The refreshments were light and these cute cookies were as delicious as they are adorable! Yes, she is having a boy in about 6 weeks!

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I am looking forward to meeting you in a few weeks baby Sam!!

Thursday Twist

Yes, these are petunia’s surrounded by poinsettia’s sitting in my backyard.  The red color of the poinsettia’s added such warmth to my home that I hated to move them outside.  It did get a little awkward when guests came over and commented especially now that Easter is approaching.

I removed them from their sturdier containers, but did not have the heart to throw them out.  They are so healthy and full of life.   It is also getting too warm for the petunia’s and they are not happy anymore.

The large pot will soon be moved into storage and replaced by either flowers that do well in the hot, humid south or raised containers to grow some fresh vegetables.  Goodbye winter!

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All Things New

We all have someone in our lives who is in need of healing whether it be physical, emotional or spiritual. It’s hard to watch someone we love suffer with an addiction, a disease or the consequences of a poor decision.  Perhaps this loved one has blamed God for their suffering and has turned away from their faith.  They no longer trust or believe or they feel betrayed because of their pain.  Maybe they still believe, but can’t let go of the desire to control their life, even though their life, as well as those they love, is falling apart.

They are so caught in the eye of the storm, the center of the hurricane they can’t see the ripples.

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Their spouse and children find themself at the epicenter of each and every earthquake and feel the effects the worst.

The ripple extends and reaches other loved ones – parents, siblings, and friends whose world is now trembling too. Some decide to withdraw because they feel numb, frustrated or maybe disgusted, while others decide to ride out the waves although uncertain of the result.

At first, it is not always easy to see the greater good that may come from suffering.  Job—a man who underwent immense suffering—reminds us that we may never know the reason why we suffer. Job did not understand why God had allowed the things He did, but he knew God was good and therefore continued to trust in Him.

There is a poignant scene in the movie “The Passion of the Christ” that stands out to me. The bloodied, broken Jesus fell under the weight of the cross he was carrying.  There are flashbacks of the early days of her son falling as a toddler while his mother, Mary, rushes to him frantically whispering, “I’m here!”

The words “I’m here!” is put into action when our loved ones are suffering.  We push the pause button in our own lives. We give them our love and our time. (“I’m here!”) We take over duties and hope that this makes things easier. (“I’m here!”) We talk to them, encourage them, and love them even more. (“I’m here!”) We try to be brave even though we are scared to death. We assume new roles, and wish we didn’t have to. (I’m here!) We are their voice in prayer when they can longer find the desire or the words to pray themselves. (“I’m here!”) We cry in private, we pray without ceasing even though we can’t understand why God doesn’t just heal the situation – just make it go away – just let life be normal again.

Sometimes it is hard for us to trust.

Later, an eyewitness to the crucifixion (the apostle John), included this telling detail in his account: During the ordeal, Mary was standing “by the torture stake of Jesus.” Nothing could prevent that loyal, loving mother from standing by her son to the very last. We, like Mary, stand by our loved ones.

The final shot of that scene (when Mary gets to Jesus after his fall) is we see the image of her son – disfigured and swollen. He looks her in the eye and stammers, “See, Mother, I make all things new.”

These words give hope.  The bloody mangled body of Jesus who suffered unimaginable pain and suffering was made new again. Our own lives were made new again by the ultimate sacrifice of our savior.

These words give hope that our loved ones will emerge with a determination to make a fresh start and the courage to face their trials. A desire to maintain this new life, this new resurrection.  That their lives will be a reflection of the words of Jesus in that movie “I make all things new.”

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

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Timing

As soon as we arrived home I called our insurance company, researched car collision centers, and began the two and a half week wait for my car to be repaired.  I soon discovered these inconveniences were insignificant.

“What just happened?” I asked with a puzzled expression as I heard a “whump” and then the sound of metal dragging on the roadway as I fought for control of the car. “You hit a deer! exclaimed my husband.

What might have been

About a month ago around 7:30 on a dark Friday evening I was driving my husband and myself home from a relaxing dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. We were enjoying a pleasant conversation and were in no particular hurry to get home. We live near a lake and were approaching a bridge when out of nowhere a deer appeared.  The first and last thing I saw in that moment was its face in front of the headlight on the passenger side. After the impact, we were able to pull over to the side of the road and so did the car behind us. As we got out to assess the damage and comprehend what had just happened, a young man in his early twenties approached us.  He was on his way home and saw what had happened and wanted to make sure we were okay.  I could not help but notice how pleasant, reassuring, and kind spoken he was as he shined his flashlight at the damage on the car.  Once he realized we were okay he got back in his car and continued his drive home.

 

A day or two later the realization of just how lucky we were became visible in my mind. If the deer had been say eight or twelve more inches across the road the results of the impact would have been much worse.  Just eight or twelve more inches and my husband could have been injured since that is the side of the car that received the damage.  The impact of the hit might have thrown the deer up onto our windshield or into the path of other cars.

I also began to reflect on the effect it could have had on that kind young man. What if we had not been the car in front of him?  That deer would have probably been full body in front of his car in its quest to cross the road, and the results might have been devastating. That young man could have suffered grievous injury, or even death.

As I look at the big picture, we sustained minimal damage in a situation that could have ended in tragedy.  I have replayed the timing of those moments before and after the impact in my mind.  Perhaps God used us to be placed in the path of that deer, allowing us to take the hit because He still has plans for that young man.  I offer thanks to our Heavenly Father for the “what might have been” that was avoided.

When I was in my twenties, I felt somewhat invincible and I can only imagine that young man does as well.  He probably never gave the incident a second thought.  Probably never considered the “what might have been” if another car had not been in front of his that evening. I wish I could tell him I think God has big plans for him.

Beef Bone Broth Recipe

The weather has turned colder this week so I was thinking about how to use some of my bone broth so vegetable soup came to my mind. I had a request for the bone broth recipe I wrote about in a recent post.  I used several sources to create my own recipe so here it is.  I hope you enjoy it!

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  • 4 pounds beef bones, preferably a mix of marrow bones and bones with a little meat on them such as ox tail, short ribs, or knuckle bones, (cut in half by a butcher)
  • 2 medium unpeeled carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium leek, end trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 1 garlic head, excess skins removed, top chopped off to expose the cloves, cut in half
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 Tablespoons black peppercorns (you can also add some fresh thyme or dried mushrooms, even 2 Tablespoons of tomato paste)
  • 1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
  • Water (I use filtered, but it probably wouldn’t matter that much)

Special equipment: 6-quart (or larger) stockpot or a large slow cooker

  1. Blanch – cover the bones with cold water, bring to a boil, and let them cook at an aggressive simmer for 20 minutes before draining and roasting.
  2. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place beef bones, carrots, leek, onion, and garlic on a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes. Then take out of the oven, toss the contents of the pan and continue to roast until deeply browned, about 20 more minutes.   Place any crisped brown bits on the bottom of the pan (loosen them with a little water and a metal spatula) and pour into the stockpot or slow cooker for added flavor.
  3. Place roasted bones and vegetables into your pot. Add celery, bay leaves, peppercorns, and vinegar. Make sure you added the browned bits from the roasting. Add just enough water to cover the bones and vegetables. You don’t want them to float.
  4. Cover the pot and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to a very low simmer and cook with lid slightly ajar, skimming foam and excess fat occasionally. (I rarely have to do this because I blanch the bones first.)
  5. Simmer for at least 8 hours but I have done it for up to 2 – 3 days. I do not cut it off at night if it is on the stove top. The longer it simmers, the better your broth will taste. If you use the crock-pot, I start it on high until it begins to simmer, and then reduce the setting to low and leave it alone. (Because the bones used are thick and hardy, they have a lot of flavor to offer up. This is in contrast to the bones in chicken stock, which are smaller and thinner and could disintegrate after a few hours and won’t add much flavor.)
  6. You can add more water if necessary to ensure bones and vegetables are fully submerged.
  7. Once you have determined you think the broth is complete, cool it as quickly and efficiently as possible. First, remove the bones with a slotted spoon and/or tongs. Strain the stock into a large bowl (this will remove the vegetables and any small pieces of meat or bones left from the beef bones). I usually add some ice to help the broth lose heat more rapidly. (The ice does not dilute the broth if you roasted the bones and simmered them for a very long time.) Then scoop the broth into mason jars to freeze. (If you used bones that created a lot of fat, I usually pour it in my fat separator to maximize the broth in my mason jars. It is okay to leave it you want the additional fat.)
  8. You know you simmered it long enough if the texture is gelatinous. If not, it is still delicious!
  9. I usually add a little Himalayan salt or sea salt to bring out the flavors.

My favorite method is using a large stockpot. Each time, the broth has been gelatinous and flavorful. (Once the gelatinous broth is heated it melts to make a smooth broth.) I especially love to use the broth in vegetable soup, to cook rice, and just about anything else I need a broth.  This is a photo of the bone broth in my vegetable soup recipe I am cooking this afternoon. It gives it a rich and hearty flavor.  Look below the photo for general tips in making the bone broth.

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General Tips:

  1. Try to use several types of beef bones. Grass fed beef is better, but not necessary for a delicious flavor.
  2. Don’t skip the blanching step. It removes any impurities (nasty bits) from the bones. If you are using the right bones, there will be some nasty bits. I usually have to skim off scum or foam at this stage.
  3. ALWAYS ROAST THE BONES. This browns and caramelizes them and this results in better flavor. This is really the most important step. I cook mine up to 40 minutes total and even longer sometimes taking them to the edge of “too done.”
  4. Do not skip the vinegar step; it draws the minerals out of the bone.
  5. Make sure to deglaze your roasting pan with hot water and get all of the brown bits, pour this liquid into the pot and then add additional water to cover the bones and vegetables. See * in the next step.
  6. Use a large enough container to cook your broth. When you *add just enough water to cover the bones and vegetables. You don’t want them to float. Too much liquid will result in a watered down taste.
  7. Make sure you simmer it long enough. I have read some people simmer no less than 12 hours and no longer than 72 hours.  I cooked mine for 60 hours.
  8. Don’t let the hot broth cool slowly.

If you use a crock-pot the water doesn’t evaporate as quickly as with a stockpot. So be careful not to add too much. Make sure the lid is weighted down and that simmering can’t move the lid around or you will have water everywhere.

 

Bone Broth

The very idea of putting snail, head cheese, liver, tongue, or blood sausage in my mouth is something that repulses me beyond words.  They may taste absolutely delicious, but I will never know and it is based solely on the name. Bone broth is borderline. Kind of grosses me out, but kind of doesn’t.

Always up for a challenge in the kitchen, I decided to make some beef bone broth. Chicken bone broth was not a contender because it tends to remind me of when I stayed home sick with a fever from school as a child. My mom would open a can of chicken and rice soup and serve it with saltine crackers to help me feel better. Sweet memories of mom, but not of the soup.

I found a few recipes online and I took a little something from each and made it one recipe for myself.  M. and I took a nice drive to the country to purchase some grass-fed, grass finished beef bones from our favorite farm.  We also bought organic vegetables. I followed the directions and boiled the bones for about 20 minutes before roasting them. This is one of two trays of the beef bones roasting with the vegetables.

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I then put everything into my crock pot, added filtered water, and let it simmer on low.

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Sixty hours later – yes 60 hours – I removed the lid, drained the liquid, threw out the veggies and bones, and skimmed out any fat.  I poured the broth into glass jars – about 12 pints – and put most of them in my freezer.  I took one to school for a mid morning snack at my desk and it was just as delicious as I had hoped.

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I have since added this broth to other recipes such as my homemade vegetable soup or to use as flavoring rice or potatoes.  My favorite way is heated in a bowl or a cup. This was very good and I will be making it again.   

By the way, oxtail was an ingredient in this recipe. Trying it was out of my comfort zone, but happy to say it was absolutely delicious.  Although it was not enough to convince me to try snail, head cheese, liver, tongue, or (gag) blood sausage.

 

Open Book Blog Hop -February 12th — Stevie Turner, Indie Author.

This week we have to write about the most irritating aspect of Valentine’s Day: In my opinion, Valentine’s Day is perpetuated by the greetings card industry for their own profit (remember when they tried to flog cards for ‘Grandparent’s Day’ which never took off?). Valentine’s cards start arriving in the shops every year around the […]

via Open Book Blog Hop -February 12th — Stevie Turner, Indie Author.