Monday, April 19, 2010

A Scripture Memorization Tool

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." Colossians 3:16
(One of the ways I used to try and memorize on a regular basis.)

The only way I know to begin to obey this verse and the many others like it is to hide God's word in my heart. So that is what I try to do, though there are often gaps of time where I don't, until now, by God's grace.

Throughout high school I memorized chapters of Scripture, but once I memorize something I want to be able to recall it with out too much effort. I tried and failed, and in the last two years I have come to a grinding halt except for a couple short starts. The end of February I was reading a Scripture Memory Fellowship (once Bible Memory Association) newsletter and saw a short paragraph that gave a website to help you review Scripture. (I don't know why we even got the newsletter, but I am thankful we got it.) It is called I could go into detail explaining it, but instead I want you to check it out. Try out the demo, read the last couple posts on the blog, and learn how it works. All of these things are on their home page.

2 Negative things:
1. You need regular access to the Internet, if you want to use memverse regularly.
2. You need to be able to type fairly quickly or else be patient. Typing is how you "say" the verses.

Some positive things:
1. You never have to wonder, "Is it time to review that passage again?"
2. The website is being improved and updated. It recently passed it's one year mark.
3. It charts your memory work.
4. You can use any translation you want.
I could go on, but I really want you to check it out. :)

I have been learning new verses as well as reviewing them as needed on memverse for the last 7 or 8 weeks. I plan to continue this way of memorizing until I am unable to. Obeying is still a work in process. I don't think there's a website to help that. Only yielding to God.

Have you ever met someone who taught and admonished you in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs? I've only met one person, who's does it fairly consistently.

I would love to hear if this becomes a regular part of your life. If you need any technical help, I am willing to help you as far as I am able. If you think 'adding' the verses takes way too long, like I once did, look carefully. They do have some shortcuts if your observant. Email or talk to me if you have questions. Please ignore this paragraph (except for the first sentence) if you're technologically savvy.

I thank God for bringing this across my path, and trust Him to help me to be faithful in memorizing as I continue to use this tool.

P.S. Why was I relieved to find a 'dearth of Cd's'? So I could read my book in peace and quiet. I have a biographical book review that I want to write. Hopefully, I can get it done in the next couple of days.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Norms and Nobility Ch 1 Pt IV

Scattered Thoughts
"Could the activity of thinking as such, the habit it examining whatever happens to come to pass or to attract attention, regardless of the results and specific content, could this activity be among the conditions that make men abstain from evil-doing or even actually 'condition' them against it?" Hannah Arendt (1978)
Platoists would answer this question with a yes.
This section of Norms and Nobility gives one insights into a weakness of Classical education based on one of its foundational underpinnings. There is no way to educate so that one's religious philosophies don't influence the goals of the school and education. The ancients realized the need for virtue, but they didn't have an understanding of God and His plan. Their major philosophical argument was whether virtue was contained in man at birth and contaminated by society (philosophers) or if man had to be taught to be virtuous (rhetoricians). The Bible says that Man is made in the image of God and God pronounced His creation good (Gen 1-2), then the Fall happened and man had an immediately well developed 'sin nature'. Is there still good in man apart from God? Can virtue be taught?
The ancient philosophers believed that if you want man to be virtuous you have to teach him to think correctly, appreciate beauty, and be logical. Plato emphatically states that "'no man knowingly chooses evil'." He felt that a logical man would realize that "evil behavior will sooner or later bring pain and destruction." I have enough personal experience (from reading and from my own sin nature and my children's ) with evil behavior to realize that this is not so. Cain killed Abel in anger and jealousy of God's acceptance of his sacrifice. Many times the logical part of our brain decides that any pain or destruction to ourselves is worth the satisfaction of seeing somebody else get what we think they deserve. We think we are too smart to get caught. ( Yes, I am a big and experienced sinner-behaving non-virtuously). The fear of bad consequences is not enough to hold us back from evil. Apart from Christ I can do no good thing. Even all my righteousness is as filthy rags (Is 64:6). The only thing that restrains my behavior is my love of God and my desire to serve Him. There is nothing in my thinking skills that stops me from cheating on my taxes or lying to stay out of trouble, it is the indwelling Holy Spirit and my knowledge of the Word of God (Psalm 119:11)that constrains me - usually.
Even Aristotle realized that men "fancy they are philosophers, and that this will make them good. But they are really just like people who listen attentively to what their doctor has to say and do not obey one of his prescriptions. There is about as much chance of those who study philosophy in this way gaining health of soul as of such people getting well and strong of body."
I do applaud the ancients for appreciating the value of virtue. This is something that is often totally lost in our society and schools. It certainly is no longer a centerpiece of education because we no longer have a consensus of whose virtues and values should be taught. We have replaced the arguments of the rhetoricians and philosophers with the god of science. Until we place the God of the Universe in His rightful place we will never be able to educate our children to be truly virtuous.
This leads me to more educational questions in my mind. I think that logic is a gift from God and needs to be taught, as well as history, literature, and science. We need to raise up children that know how to think Biblically. The exact system or method is only useful as far as it allows for Biblical thoughts and conversations.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Some Family Funnies

Yesterday as we started our long pilgrimage to Amish country, JoAn started sifting through the front of the van. She was relieved to find a real dearth of CDs to listen to. She commented, "We didn't bring any music or anything to listen to."
From the back seat Thomas piped up, " You brought me!" Yep, we got to listen to him for most of the day.
Story 2
My Uncle in Canada had a bone scan on Friday. It involved injecting a lot of radioactive isotopes. They were warned about airport security. They weren't planning on flying so they didn't give it another thought. Today, they were driving down to ND to fill up their gas tank (American gas is less expensive.) As they were crossing the boarder their usually friendly boarder guards suddenly were in a state of 'red alert'. Apparently, he had set off the radioactive sensors from inside the car. He had to prove to them that he wasn't a terrorist. My uncle is an almost 70 white haired 'old guy'. :) Fortunately, they got it worked out and they could continue on their way. Glad they let him back into Canada.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sewing Extravaganza!

We had a wonderful day with some friends who are wonderful seamstresses. We went over for a day of extended sewing. We packed our food along so we wouldn't have to stop and fix food. I was the chief supervisor as I don't sew. I did rip out seams, turn things right side out and pulled elastic through. You know, the hard tasks.

We brought along the fabric and a couple patterns. We decided that we (this is an editorial 'we') would make 4 dresses and a jumper. This was an ambitious plan, especially as we didn't start until 11 AM. We were also short of fabric so we had to send the two oldest girls back to the fabric store to see if they could find matching material.

Three of the dresses were to be peasant dresses. We also threw a bit of a monkey wrench in the plan when we said that we wanted pockets in the dresses. Not hard to do, they just take time. We measured and remeasured Michelle. Our friends are much shorter than the Mango clan, and I think they were slightly amazed at how long everything needed to be. It takes extra material for sure! Michelle is still growing and so we also wanted/needed hems that could be let down later.

The two older girls and their Mom are quite the team. Christi cut everything out and got it organized. The girls each took their responsibilities. All the seams were serge finished. They worked, cut, and sewed. It was fun to watch it all come together.

Part of the day was to teach our girls how to sew more efficiently. JoAn took her turn at the sewing machine. They had 3 sewing machines and 2 sergers going. There was also the cutting and the ironing as well. And me, ripping out the mistakes in the corner. I really didn't have much to do. We stayed and worked and the last dress was finished just before 10 PM.

Here is Michelle in one of the peasant dresses.

JoAn in her new jumper.

Michelle in her new church dress. It is nice that all the dresses really do fit both girls.
Our friends do sewing to help support their family. They have 11 children. If you would like to see some of their other things they have sewn, click and check out their etsy site.

Read Further

Brandy at also has some excellent comments on this section in Norms and Nobility.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Norms & Nobility Pt. 2 - Some Thoughts on Education.

This blog is part of a discussion that Cindy at Dominion Family started. The book is called 'Norms & Nobility' by David V. Hicks.
Chapter 1 pt. III
This section is about the reason for education. The question is "Can virtue be taught?" Plato defined virtue as "the knowledge of good,the love of beauty, the vision of greatness, and the passion for excellence." I think that this definition leaves out the worship and service of the Divine. As I read through these ancient philosophers, I see their attempt to reach God, through human efforts. They hold out the hero stories as efforts to push their students to greatness, but I don't believe that virtue can be successfully taught apart from faith.
Samuel Johnson (1958) is quoted by Hicks as writing re education, "the first requisite is the religious and moral knowledge of right and wrong, the next is an acquaintance with the history of mankind, and with those examples which may be said to embody truth, and prove by events the reasonableness of opinions, Prudence and justice are virtues and excellence of all times and places;"
Hicks sees that education today has "the 'knowledge of external nature' standing in judgment over 'religious and moral knowledge'. " This section of the book discusses the conflict of preparation for a practical life skill rather than developing the soul and character. We need to be careful to avoid presenting the goal of education as being the life of financial success, pleasure, and entertainment. Hicks says, "preparing students for work rather than for leisure, for the factory rather than parlor, the school itself came to resemble the factory... losing its intimate and moral character." When we teach utility as our primary function, we do lose sight of doing the right things above our selfish interests, doing right in service to God and man. We need to challenge our students to choose to do things that fulfil the biblical mandates rather than seeking their own amusements. The god of amusement is clearly something that has been a part of our culture for a long time. Today, even our elderly have bought into this mentality. Many simply can't wait to reach retirement so they can travel and soak up the winter sun. They have forgotten the biblical mandate of the older women teaching the younger women. (Titus 2) Unfortunately, many of the older women don't have marriages that are reflective of God's plan; maybe it is better if they don't teach the younger women. They feel the need to rule their husbands. Proverbs 31 does not describe their lives. Virtue needs to be something that we constantly work on. As Hick says' " Virtue... is not a parlor game, but a perpetual activity."

These thoughts were brought to life this past Saturday at a presentation by a elderly christian. This gentleman was talking about making inner city youth aware of educational opportunities. His primary point of deciding for education for these jobs is how much they pay. There was no thought for service to God and man. Money was the be all, end all. There was no challenge to godliness. It was rather sad. It is easy to fall into this trap, even as Christian moms. We and our children fall into the trap of utility. How many times have we heard our children say, " Mom will I ever use this in real life? Why do I need to know this? " I thank Mr. Hicks for giving me good answers to this question. I like the thought he quotes by Plotinus, "Be always at work carving your own statue."

I do appreciate Hicks reminder that seeking after virtue and righteousness does "not imply a belief in the perfectibility of man," and "we tend to look upon virtue as what under a specific set of circumstances can be achieved, rather than as what ought to be achieved under all circumstances." We need to raise our standards for our students. We need to seek after godly character and right thinking rather than just occupational competence.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Children's Biography Series

I have already written at length about our favorite children's biographies - Landmark Books. But there are others out there as well. Here is a sampling. (Of course, I will end up comparing everything to the Landmark Series.)

Discovery Book Biographies are a HUGE set. They have biographies for many, many people. They are simple and well done. I would say they are written for the child who is just starting with chapter books. Basically, late first, second, or third grade. They are not too long to be read-alouds to kindergartners.
The spine looks like this and the company that publishes them is Gerrard. One does frequently find them with dust jackets still, however my children are hard on the jackets so mine disappear. Thomas and T-Bob loved this series and went through our biography shelves and pulled them and read them all. They gained a really good grasp of history from this and of the many characters in it.

These books have pictures on almost every set of pages. They are more than picture books, but do have enough pictures to really draw in the younger reader. You used to be able to find this series all the time at used book sales, but they are definitely becoming rarer. Grab them if you see them and still have younger readers.

This is the classic look of the series about the Childhoods of Famous Americans. This is very collectible in the orange cover, however it has been reprinted in paperback. The paperbacks can be bought new or found at used book sales. They are dark blue with red and white writing on the covers.

The old ones have the silhouette illustrations. I would classify these as biographical fiction. They are good stories, but they are not as historically accurate as Landmark or even the Discovery series. They are good reads though. I can still remember reading them as a child.

The Signature Series was written to compete with Landmark Books - they don't. They do have some very good authors, but they are fictionalized 'biographies'. They are written as stories with characters that interact with the title character.

They are also written on a slightly lower reading level. My DH likes to pick up Landmarks and read them to learn, he would have no interest in these. These are good stories. They have quite a few more pictures than Landmark. There is also a companion series to the Signature Biographies and those are the 'You Were There' Series. This is a fictionalized account of different events in history. The ones I like are the ones about the major battles of WWII. They give a good sense of the location, history and characters of those battles. T-Bob has really enjoyed those.

They do have some different biographies from Landmark. If it is a person I don't have too many biographies of and the author writes well, I don't mind having them on my shelf. They have reprinted a couple of these titles in a Weekly Reader style binding.

Ronald Syme is an author who writes about the different explorers. His writing level is just a shade above the Discovery Series. Sometimes it is hard to find biographies of these men, and it is nice to find a good author that the children enjoy reading.
I must confess something here. I am a bibliophile. It is almost an addiction. There is no 12 step program for this 'disease' - mostly because we don't want one. I have a 3,500+ volume children's library. Yes, I have read almost every book we own. Believe it or not, I am selective about what we have on our shelves. I will post another time about the paradigm shift in the writing of children's books that occurred in the last 40-50 years. Maybe someday I will give a pictorial post of the beautiful library that my DH built for our family. However, we are once again doing a serious amount of double shelving. So many books, So little space.
Let me know if you are looking for a specific book on a particular topic. I may have a title to suggest to you. If you know me locally, I may have one to loan you.
(Did I mention that my maiden name was 'Reader'? That's the truth!)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Job of a Vine Dresser

These are our neighbor's grape vines. He said we could take care of them since they were growing wild! We are looking forward to having grapes this fall.

This is the second year we have done grapes. They are very prolific but you don't want growth, you want grapes. First, you clear out the competition, weeds ,grass and maybe even a few trees.

Then you call in your friend, Brook' and Ulysses' dad, who has a vineyard, to come and help you. Together you trim of all the unwanted growth with good sharp clippers. Leave your main trunk with the four new side shoots (trim off the old ones). Off the side shoots, leave small branches with 1-3 buds on it to produce fruit.

When you are done, you should have 30-40 healthy buds per vine. It may seem cruel, but it is necessary.
The vines that are left are trained on the wires so that they have external support. Grapes are unable to support themselves. It looks bare, but by the end of the summer we should have nice looking vines, and even more important - Grapes. Vines need to be dressed or pruned every year.
All done.
Mr. Boots wearing Crocs.
John 15:1-5
1. I am the true vine and my Father is the vinedresser.
2. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it might bear more fruit.
3. You are clean already because of the word that I have spoken to you.
4. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
5. I am the vine, and you are the branches. He who abides in me and I in Him, bears much fruit; For without Me you can do nothing.
The Lord is the master vine dresser!
~Mr. Boots

Why Study History?

"Why do we need to study history?" Inquiring minds want to know. I have been giving this a lot of thought lately. I was talking to one of my Amish friend's daughter, Rachel, recently. She is 12 and I asked her what she knew about history. She said that she hadn't studied it yet in school. They don't get any history in school until 7th and 8th grade. They do study some American history and some world geography then. I was surprised. Her mother commented that they had an 'old wives' tale' that if the children study too much history they are more likely to leave the Amish. I asked another Amish friend about it, who is a more progressive type of Amish -she was even homeschooled, and she disagreed with that statement. She did know that those who studied their Bibles frequently left the Amish. An interesting insight from a born again Amish woman.
So what role does or should the study of History play in our everyday lives?

While these ideas were fomenting around in my brain, I started reading a blog post over at regarding the book 'Norms and Nobility' by David Hicks. I actually had the book on my shelf. It was given to us by our friend Andy Kern. The best part of Cindy's blog posts (at the above blog) are the discussion in the comments. Mr. Hicks writes about what is true 'Classical Education'. It is a very meaty book and definitely not a lite read. However, I am finding it worthwhile to work through with the help and encouragement of Cindy. The basic subtitle of the discussion would be 'Classical Education, and how Charlotte Mason got it right'. I have always felt that an education following Charlotte Mason's principles resulted in a classical education. As our school has grown and the teacher matured over the years, I have adopted more and more of Charlotte's ideas in our schooling. I still have a ways to go though. It is a process, not an event. Fortunately, although I have graduated one student, I still have five others, including one in kindergarten to keep working through these things with.
Education helps us to see ourselves.

David Hicks defines classical education as 'the cultivation of the human spirit to teach the young to know the good, to serve it above self, to reproduce it, and to recognize that in knowledge lies this responsibility.' Classical Education is not just Latin and Greek pasted on to a contemporary education. Hicks identifies a classical education as being an education that is created to bring out the best in man, the hero that serves the greater good above self. Our education today is utilitarian. Know these facts and be able to pass this test so you can get a job. There is very little interaction with ideas, and no screen of morals/scripture to run them through to see if our assessment is correct. Very few people today know scripture well enough to judge whether an idea or activity is righteous, if it would glorify God. We are so confused because of this and get caught up in many things and ideas we should not. We don't have the logic skills to even work through a problem to see what is really at stake. We have lost our moral framework and no longer have the belief that we do what is right, no matter what the cost and instead we worry about how it will make us or somebody else feel. 'There is nothing new under the sun' according to Solomon in Ecclesiastes. If we had a knowledge and understanding of history we would be able to identify the fallacies presented to us and reject them, because we have learned of them before and know how they work out.

I would like to 'borrow' a quote from one of the commenters at the Dominion Family blog. It is taken from a speech by David McCullough on history. He said, "The late Daniel Boorstin, who was a very good historian and librarian of Congress, said that 'trying to plan for the future without a sense of the past is like trying to plant cut flowers. We're raising a lot of cut flowers and trying to plant them.' "
As parents and home educators we need to not just raise/train functional adults, but to think through what is required to raise up straight arrows for the Lord's service. Children that understand that their primary purpose is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. Who know the past and see what may be required of them in their generation. Ones who realize that living a long life is not the ultimate goal. People who in the midst of this confused generation, know the truth and do the right.
Other blogs you might find interesting on the same topic...
PS In my experience, the Amish no longer teach the history and biblical foundation of their Anabaptist heritage. It has been lost to what is now merely a cultural exercise in legalism. The highest importance is to not do anything different from their Amish neighbors, or break some 'church' rule. It is true that the ones who read the Bible and discover a real biblical faith do end up leaving. In failing to teach the Bible and history they have lost their roots and major so much on the minors that they have little left, other than nice families.
It is all about external appearances.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The BARF diet: Our Compost Puppy

This post is requested information from some friends. Incidentally, BARF stands for 'Bones And Raw Food'. The Barf diet is a whole raw food diet for dogs.

Dallas the dog is our compost puppy. We try and eat a traditional diet as a family and so it made sense that we would do the same thing for our dog. Dogs in the wild do not eat cooked food and they do not eat grains. They eat meat, fruits and veggies, usually a little on the spoiled/fermented side and obviously raw. We have friends with a dog that is a mighty hunter. Duchess catches all kinds of groundhogs, rabbits and even drags home deer quarters. She semi buries them and leaves them to sit in the sun for days before she eats them. Sounds gross to us too, but you never met a healthier dog. Even now, in her dotage, she still brings home a stray ground hog as a treat. Grains cause arthritis and cancer in dogs. Dogs that are switched to the BARF diet get more agile and younger acting. Their joints calm down.

Dallas is an outside dog. He is outside in all kinds of weather. He slept outside all winter long and was healthy and is thriving. So what do we feed him? We feed him anything that would ordinarily go inside our compost bucket (Except grapes, which we are told are not good for dogs, and large chunks of onions). He gets rotten apples, and apple cores, sweet potatoes, broccoli stems, cabbage leaves, leftover salad, anything in the produce line that doesn't get used up by the people. He also gets any cheese that gets moldy, sour milk, a couple eggs and some meat. The meat he gets are the wing tips off the chicken, offal, chicken necks, any fat I trim off a roast and any part of my steer that we don't particularly like (tongue, sweetbreads, etc). I also take any old meat out of my Amish friends freezers that they can't sell, and don't want.

He doesn't get meat every day. He probably gets it on average 3-4 times per week. He does get a couple eggs most days. We have been known to stick a variety of liquids (milk, gravy, tea, water) over his food. He will eat most anything. In the winter we did add extra fat to his bowl (usually coconut oil, or beef fat) to make sure he got enough calories and stayed warm. He is thriving! His coat is shiny, he has more energy than we can run off and he is good tempered. He always has a bone or two available to him. His teeth never need brushing as they are pearly white. He doesn't have doggy breath or pass gas either. Life is good.

He is getting tired of cabbage though. We try and make sure he gets plenty of veggies and not just fruit.
I think we about break even or do a little better cost wise than if we bought dog food. He is eating our compost scraps, the meat parts that we don't want, and he is always healthy! (No vet bills) We no longer have chipmunks and mice running around the foundation of our house either. We do try and give him a clove of garlic every day as this keeps fleas away and minimizes worms. We still have to give him heartworm pills monthly, as I don't know any natural remedies for them.
There are other websites about the BARF diet on the web. Check them out. Don't confuse the BARF diet with the BRAT diet. It won't help your pup, unless he has diarrhea. LOL

Monday, April 5, 2010

How to make Spelt Bread

Spelt Bread

2 T yeast

1/2 cup lukewarm water

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1 cup honey/maple syrup/molasses

1 cup olive oil/melted lard

4 tsp salt

6 cup lukewarm water

spelt flour

Yields 8 loaves.

Directions and illustrations below. The original recipe (which will be in italics throughout this post) never did give a specific quantity for the flour. For the sweetener and oil, you can use what you have. I wouldn't use all molasses though, unless your family really likes it. For a while I used lard, rather than olive oil, but olive oil is quicker.

I have made bread for our family off and on for as long as I can remember. For the last year or so I have been making the majority of our bread. I haven't perfected any one recipe, but have used this Spelt Bread recipe for a while. I got it out of a Keeper's at Home magazine. I lost that issue, but thankfully I remembered the recipe.

Up until about two years ago we didn't grind grain, though I wanted to try it and see if it really did improve the flavor of the bread. (It does.) One of Mom's patients gave us a hand grinder. At first all of us kids were excited about grinding berries, but the excitement quickly wore off. We still wanted to grind our own flour, so we kids pooled our money and bought a grinder attachment for our Champion juicer. It was, and is, great not having to grind by hand anymore.

Proof the yeast in 1/2 cup of lukewarm water and 1-2 T of honey. In another bowl combine the vinegar, oil, honey, water, and salt. Stir in the proofed yeast. Add enough flour to make a pancake like batter. Let it sit for 45minutes-1hour or until it begins to bubble.
Sometimes I let the sponge sit for the allotted time, but usually longer. If I plan ahead I'll start making the bread the night before and let the sponge sit over night. This gives it a slight sourdough taste, that I don't notice. When I do this, the bread seems to be less crumbly, a common problem with spelt.
Here is the sponge after sitting all night. Stir in the flour until it is to stiff to stir. Pour it out and knead it 8-10 minutes, adding flour as needed. I have started adding the salt at this point instead of at the beginning, because I read that it gives your dough a shine. If I have enough flour ground I'll add it in until the dough is to stiff to stir and then dump it onto the table to knead it, adding flour as needed. I use some white spelt in addition to the freshly ground whole spelt, to make the bread a little lighter. For variation I've added 2 c. rye flour or 1c. sesame seeds. I add the sesame seeds into the "pancake batter". They are unnoticeable in the final product. I recently read that it is not good to over knead spelt. I usually knead it,until the dough no longer sticks to my hands and forms a nice ball.

Let the dough rise 2-5 hours. I punch down a couple times throughout this time. I rarely let it rise longer than two hours, just because I want to get the project done.

Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and form into loaves. Let rise 1/2 an hour. I usually make a 1/2 or 3/4 recipe, because we don't eat a lot of bread. Whatever size I make I use the dough to make 3/4 the amount they give. Otherwise the loaves are tiny. For example: if I make a 1/2 recipe I only make 3 loaves. Sometimes I'll combine my labor and make pizza crusts while I'm at it. This bread dough makes O.K. pizza crusts. My brothers prefer it when I make pizza crust with a pizza crust recipe. I wonder why :) ?

It is important to let the dough rise no more than 1/2 an hour. It will finish rising in the oven. If you let the dough rise to it's full height, it will sink in the oven. If you wonder why I prick the bread it is because if you don't the crust will be wrinkly. (I did test this one out myself.)

Bake the loaves @ 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. Remove from the pans and let cool.
I usually let the bread bake for 40 minutes, otherwise, I find that it is still doughy in the middle. Also, I put a small dish of water in the oven to create steam. Our restaurant friend told us it helps the yeast work better. I haven't tested this, but have taken her word for it.
I enjoy the process of bread baking, but the end result is the best. This recipe may sound like it takes a long time. It does take a long time, but not the baker's time. I don't spend more than an hour in the kitchen working on this from start to finish.
You can freeze this bread. If you plan to eat it within the week it is best to store it in the refrigerator. It tastes best the first day, but if you toast it in the following days, it is still yummy.
I know that some of our readers bake bread, specifically spelt bread. We'd enjoy it if you left your recipe in the comments or emailed it to us. I'll give it a try, maybe we'll like it better than this recipe.
P.S. Food for thought. Baking bread makes me think of when my Savior said, "I am the Bread of life." It puzzles me, but makes for some interesting meditation.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter at the Farmhouse

Daffodils are my favorite flower. Unfortunately, Dallas loves them too - as an appetizer!
We had a wonderful day together. Easter is such a blessed holiday to come together to celebrate God's goodness to us. Because of His Resurrection we can have our salvation. Praise God that Christ did not stay dead, but arose. We serve a living God!

It was such a beautifully warm day that we didn't need sweaters. The sun was shining.

The birds were singing and the squirrels were chattering.

The children were semi-cooperative as I took their photos. Mr. Boots even put his tie back on after he had removed it to relax.

The little nieces had their Easter bonnets and pretty dresses on. They were not too excited about posing. Reagan is saying just about everything now. She just turned 2. Sadie is 9 months.

Michelle enjoyed having baby duty.

We served buffet style. We were blessed to have Our friends the Morrises join us for dinner. All told there were 25 people present. Mom made two lamb roasts and some corned beef. I think everything was gluten and dairy free except for the desserts. It was delicious and I never would have noticed unless I had specifically thought about it for some special guest's needs. I forgot to put out the devilled eggs for dinner. I guess we'll be eating a lot of egg salad this week. I did serve them with the dessert. A few disappeared then. I guess my brain is taking a spring break even if I am not.

We had to set up three tables for all the guests. We set up two in the dining room and one in the living room. We use the window seats for bench seating at the tables. It works well. There are some benefits to an old farmhouse.

After dinner the children went out to the back field and played more SPUD. I guess that is the game of choice right now. The computer games were used. Mostly Star Wars stuff. People left early to go home and get their naps. Some board games came out. A few naps were taken here and a few books read. It was a good day!
PS We did miss Todd and Miriam as they are still in the Philippines for another week. Please keep them in your prayers. They are trying to finalize their housing decision.