Monday, January 30, 2017

Cyrano de Bergerac at the Plate


Yesterday afternoon Abigail had softball practice with her select team, Rage.  They had just arrived on the field and Abigail was going to play catch with another player.  She stopped to tighten her pony tail but her throwing partner wasn’t paying attention and threw the ball at Abigail's nose! 

Abigail has a fractured nose and is now sporting 2 black eyes. It happened at the beginning of practice and when her nose stopped bleeding she finished out the two hour practice.

So how did my Cyrano de Bergerac do in her first high school game of the season? Well, after putting on her helmet (a lesson learned yesterday), she hit a double, went on to third on a passed ball. She scored on a bunt for the go ahead run. CHANT Chargers went on to beat Celina High School 12-5! Coach didn't let her catch tonight, she and her fractured nose hung out in right field.  It was a great start to this year's high school season! 

as long as my breath is in me,
    and the spirit of God is in my nostrils,
my lips will not speak falsehood,
    and my tongue will not utter deceit.
Job 27:3-4

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Homemade Salsa

Next weekend we are heading to Lubbock Christian University to see Caleb and the one thing he asked us to bring him was home made salsa.  I haven't bought a jar of salsa in about six years because we prefer to make our own.  

Abigail got the recipe below in her Tabitha class at church.  While the 3rd-6th graders were learning lessons on hospitality they learned a few great recipe they can share with others.  This is one of our favorites.  

When possible I use fresh tomatoes, but in a pinch you can use canned tomatoes like I did today.   

I blended up a couple of batches of red salsa and a few batches of green salsa.  

Salsa Recipe
1  28oz. can whole tomatoes (do not drain)
3  fresh jalapenos, no seeds, unless you want in HOT
1/2 white onion, diced
1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro
1 Table. cumin
2 tea. garlic salt
1 tea. salt
3 table. lime juice

Throw all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth.  This recipe make about 1 quart fresh salsa!  To make green salsa I substituted (1) 28oz. can of whole tamatillos (drain about 1/2 of the extra liquid). 

The salsa can be stored in the refrigerator to keep fresh. But if you don't want to take up the room in the refrigerator you can water bath process it for 15 minutes.  If you are canning make sure you have sanitized your jars and lids.  Also due to the acidity of this recipe, wipe down the rims of the jar with vinegar before sealing.  Store salsa in the refrigerator after opening a jar. 

My beloved has gone down to his garden,
    to the beds of spices,
to browse in the gardens
Song of Solomon 6:2

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Beef and Broccoli with Bell Peppers

Our little family blog started as a way to keep in contact with our extended family who all live out of state.  Later it became a great way to recall so many great memories and a tool to remind the kids of various adventures.  The next phase was the blog allowed my kiddo at college to readily be able to check up on us when he had a spare moment.  It made those phone calls home more productive because he could share in our week. 

The blog has also been a tool for me to share some of my Bible Bowl resources with other coaches and has been review of kid friendly things to do in Dallas.  The stats page shows that our little blog gets around 900 views per month and I know we don't have that many relatives! 

More recently I've been posting about our canning and I've begun having requests to publish specific recipes, go figure!  Recently I had a request for a way to can various meal ready recipes and spcifically a beef, broccoli and bell peppers.  

Beef and Broccoli with Bell Peppers
4 lb. skirt steak, sliced
1 head broccoli, cut into florets
1 onion, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
1 yellow pepper, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
2 cups grated carrots
1 c. reduced-sodium soy sauce
3 cups beef broth
4 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
6 tbsp. brown sugar
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
2 tbsp. Sriracha sauce
1 tbsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Your first task will be to cook your skirt steak.  I cooked mine in my Instant Pot with ½ cup of beef broth on high pressure for 12 minutes.

Next, get to chopping and slicing your vegetables!  

While the pressure in the Instant Pot comes down, whisk together soy sauce, beef broth, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, Sriracha and red pepper flakes in a stock pot. 

When your beef is fully cooked add it to your sterilized jars slightly under ½ full.  This will be about 1 pound of beef.  Next begin layering in your vegetables.  I packed in my carrots, onions, bell peppers, and finished off with my broccoli.  Go ahead and pack them in tight because they will cook down in the canning process. 

Next fill the jars with the sauce you have heated in your stock pot.   Do not fill it all the way with liquid.  I left almost two inches without liquid because when the vegetables cook down they will create more liquid. 

Wipe the rims of your jars with vinegar and seal with lids and rims.  Process the quarts in a pressure canner at 10 pounds of pressure for 90 minutes. 

I had a little bit of my beef, broccoli and red peppers left over so I mixed up some saffron rice for lunch.  Serve it with some of our homemade Sweet Asian Chili Sauce and some sesame seeds!  

O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
Psalm 34:8

Friday, January 27, 2017

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

One of the first foods I ever canned was spaghetti sauce.  Jon love Italian food, every kind of Italian food!  The main ingredient to any good Italian dish is the sauce.  So of course, I try to keep plenty of homemade sauce on hand! 


Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
3lbs hamburger meat
2lbs pork sausage
5 cloves of garlic minced
1 onion diced
1 green pepper diced
6 Tablespoons Italian Seasoning
2 teaspoons black pepper 

To be added to jars later
1 teaspoon canning salt (per quart jar) 
2 6oz cans of tomato paste
3 33oz boxes of tomato sauce


In a skillet (or two) brown hamburger and sausage, add the additional ingredients to the skillet. Don't worry about cooking it down all the way, the mixture will continue cooking during the canning process.  Drain fat from the meat.  

Spoon mixture into sterilized quart jars, just under half full.  This will be about one pound of cooked meat. Next add one tablespoon of tomato paste to each jar and a teaspoon of canning salt.  You can use table salt.  The biggest reason to use canning salt is because it doesn't turn cloudy in the canning process, but because this is a tomato based (not a clear) sauce, table salt would work fine. 

The last step is to finish filling the quart jars with tomato sauce.  The boxed sauce is easier to pour and doesn't have that metal tin can taste.  Be sure to use a plastic spoon to stir in the sauce and remove air bubbles.  The meat will have a lot of holes for air pockets to form, so stir thoroughly.  Fill the jars leaving 1" head space. 

Wipe the rims of the jar with vinegar and seal with sterilized caps and rims.  Process the quarts for 1 hour and 15 minutes at 10 pounds pressure in pressure canner.

I made two batches of this recipe and it yielded 10 quarts of sauce. These will be great over angel hair pasta, or ravioli, or lasagna, or tortellini . . .

He gives food to every creature. His love endures forever. Psalm 136:25

DMA Teen Class


Time for another amazing teen art class at the Dallas Museum of Art.  Today's class was Conserve and Collect.  The teens were able to explore the Conservation Gallery to learn more about the unique problem-solving skills conservationists use to protect art for future generations.

In the gallery lab the youth were given painting samples and had to mix colors to match and touch up art work.   They also worked with foils to simulate the gold leafing on the ornate picture frames. 

Abigail and her friend Tessa enjoyed the class together while Ms. Beth and I toured a small portion of the museum.  

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Fantastic Friendships

So like I was saying in the last post, despite being at the Federal Reserve this morning and then headin to noon Mass, followed by an afternoon of shopping our day still wasn't over.

Tonight the girls had Yearbook Staff meeting. The girls have sold their advertising and are beginning to lay out the pages for the 2016-2017 PEACH Yearbook.  It will have pages dedicated to our field trips, Trail Life, Girl Scouts, American Heritage Girls, Speaker's Club (Jr. Toastmasters), Running Club, Teen Events, Park Pals and other PEACH sponsored groups. 

Gracie's mom Robin captured these adorable pictures of Abigail, Gracie and Hannah goofing off after their meeting! I love these three together, several times over last school year they faced the unfounded accusations of 'the mean girl(s)'.  These three had the option of returning the unkind attacks or turning the other cheek.  I'm so proud that they took the high road.  They choose not to gossip, they choose to walk away from the 'drama queens' and permitted no one else around them to gossip.  As difficult at it was to go through, the girls were proven honest and truthful.  I'm so proud of them! 

Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, But those who deal faithfully are His delight.
Proverbs 12:22

Retail Therapy

When we took off this morning for our field trip to the Federal Reserve (see posts below) we met up with our friends the Baileys.  Following the educational portion of our morning, the Baileys headed over to the church with us to observe Mass. 

With all of that enlightment of the inner workings of the country's monetary system, and our observation of the application of worship with in the Catholic church we decided it was now time to goof off.  

We began the afternoon with a late lunch at Shake Shack in downtown Dallas.  I highly recommend it, in fact there is a new location opening up in Legacy Park near us that we will be frequenting!  

Next we took off to Highland Park for a little retail therapy.  Ok, who am I kidding, we can't afford the stores there.  Or maybe we could if we taped the shredded $4,000 we recieved from the Federal Reserve back together.   Anyway we enjoyed a great afternoon wandering through the Jimmy Choo, Chanel, Draper James and others.  Infact, Ella and Abigail took a photo at Draper James and they were featured on the stores Twitter feed the next day!

We also made sure we checked out the first Rustic Cuff store to open in Dallas.  It opened up earlier this week and we know how our Oklahoma friends love the artsy collection of jewelry, so we had to check it out!  It was a great day with sweet friends, and when the next post pops up you will see we still weren't done with our day! 

Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:20-21

Denominational Doctrines: Part 1

As part of our studies at home, Jon and I have compared the doctrines of ten religious groups with the teachings of the Scriptures using Stafford North's Handbook on Church Doctrines

Jon first taught a class at the Owasso Congregation to the older high school group and college kids to give them an understanding of the belief system of their peers. 

Later we would go through the study with Caleb and now with Abigail.  The first religion we looked at was the Catholic Church because so many other denominations stem from that religion.  

While we were downtown today we were able to attend mass at the Cathedral Santuario de la Virgen de Guadalupe.  It is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas, Texas. The structure dates from the late 19th century and is located in the Arts District of downtown Dallas, Texas.

The building is magnificent and you get a real sense of the reverence the parishioners have for Christ.  The most striking difference was that no one had a Bible, or that scripture wasn't cited so that it could be verified as Truth.  But having studied their beliefs, we had an understanding that the Catholic church puts as much value on papal writings as divine scripture because they believe the Pope to be ordained by God making his teachings infallible.  

It was fascinating to observe.  I'm thankful that the curtain was torn and we no longer have to go through man to reach God.  I look forward to learning about other religions and comparing them to the example of the Lord's body that we have in the book of Acts. 

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. Revelation 22:18-19

Touring the Federal Reserve in Dallas

We were given the opportunity to tour the Federal Reserve or the Fed in Dallas.  The kids learned in a classroom setting about the central banking system of the United States. 

The Fed in Dallas is the central monetary distribution center for the 11th District. In the past we've tour the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing several times but this was our first time to tour the Fed. 

The tour included interactive exhibits about: The 11th District;  Founding the Fed;  Supervising Banks;  Historical Currency;  Structure;  Moving Money;  Debating a National Bank;  Monetary Policy; and The Regional Economy.  

At the end of the tour our docent gave each of the youth $4,000 in discarded, shredded money. 

raise your voice for understanding,
if you seek it like silver
    and search for it as for hidden treasures,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
    and find the knowledge of God.
Proverbs 2:3-5

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

High Tech Benefits Texas Bible Bowl

April 2nd is rapidly approaching for our Texas Bible Bowl competition in Bandera, Texas.  Recently the TBB asked if I would write up an article for the Christian News of South Texas.  

Most of the article centers around the congregations participating in TBB in south Texas, but for the photos I had some of my McDermott class help out.  Below is a link to the article or you can continue reading. 


High-tech Benefits Texas Bible Bowler

PLANO – Technology has invaded every part of our life, so why not the Bible class? In fact, today’s tech-savvy generation has seen a major upgrade in Bible bowl preparations from the old-school black and white IBM Selectric-typed study guides.

This year Texas Bible Bowl (TBB) will take place March 31-April 2 at Bandina Christian Youth Camp over the entire book of Acts. High school participants compete not only for trophies, but also for scholarships via Lubbock Christian University. However, the goal of TBB, far beyond trophies, can be found in Acts 8:35: “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this scripture, he told him the good news about Jesus.”

Congregations like those in Corpus Christi, and San Antonio’s Lackland Terrace, West Bexar County and Northwest are discovering the benefits of sharing online learning aids. “It’s not much different from the flannel graphs and flip charts that were once used in Bible classes; it’s just now we can share our resources instantly via electronic devices,” said Nicholas Schroeder, President Pro Tem for TBB.

This competition originated with the help of the Marble Falls church of Christ after the dissolution of the annual National Bible Bowl competitions on our Christian college campuses. Formed in 2010, TBB recently outgrew its testing facilities in Marble Falls and began meeting at Bandina Christian Youth Camp in 2016.

“With the support of Lubbock Christian University and individuals, we have seen increased interest in Texas Bible Bowl, and we felt a need to make study aids readily available for our coaches,” said Schroeder. Congregations can now find one-word lists, suggested study tips, highlighted texts, and sample questions for studying the book of Acts.

An online study guide allows congregations to download and print classroom material, but that is not the only benefit technology has brought to the Bible class setting. Cathy Spain, coordinator of Northwest church of Christ, uses the online flash card website called Cram to bring digital games into the classroom. Students can also use Cram for further at-home study, and students can log into Cram and compete with each other.

Bible bowl coaches are also using similar sites like Kahoot! and Quizlet to bring electronic reinforcement games into their classrooms. In preparation for the upcoming competition, coaches like San Pedro’s youth minister, Bryon Curry, can download practice tests from Google documents that have been uploaded by coaches in Waco. “The ability for coaches to share the work makes it easier to get more congregations involved,” said Spain.

Congregations are also finding the addition of technology in the Bible class setting is increasing participation in TBB. Interactive quizzes on programs like Cram and Quizlet allow the youth to study the book of Acts on their laptops, tablets and phones.

Texas Bible Bowl follows the same curriculum schedule as LTC so congregations can easily prepare for both at the same time. Congregations interested in participating may visit the website at http://www.texasbiblebowl.org. 

The article closes with: [Lisa Kirkwood, TBB board member, also describes herself as an OC graduate, busy home schooling mom of three, Bible Bowl coach, and wife. She lives in Plano and blogs at texaskirkwoods.blogspot.com.] This makes me smile, because in private email exchanges between the TBB I joked that I might as well put those OC journalism classes to work.  And to see my little blog linked to the article!  Boy will they be surprised when they expect to see some Christian blogger and all the get is lil ol' me and my grandparent posts and canning recipes! 

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. I Thessalonians 4:11-12

LTC Teaching Challenge

My girl has been working on her Teaching Challenge for Leadership Training for Christ.  The program is designed to help young people find their talents in serving in the Lord's body.  The Teaching Challenge pairs up young people with Bible class teachers where they learn to interact, direct and teach young people. 

Tonight I snuck a peak in the Toddler class where Abigail was teaching her last class. It was very touching to see my girl singing Bible class songs with these sweet babies. 

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Deuteronomy 4:9

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Canning Cream of Mushroom Soup without Cream

Recently I posted about canning cream of chicken soup minus the cream part.  Mainly because Jon doesn't tolerate milk products.   Today I set out to can homemade cream of mushroom soup. 

Step one, was to dice up one pound of mushrooms.  I used white button mushrooms.  Next, I diced up one half or a white onion and three cloves of garlic.   I sauteed the onions and garlic in about a tablespoon of olive oil until tender. 

Working with one and a half quarts of beef broth, I ran the sauteed vegetables, beef broth and diced mushrooms through my blender in small batches and added them to my stock pot. To the mixture I added 3 teaspoons of lemon juice.

I heated up the mixture in my stock pot on a medium-high heat.  Upon bringing the soup to a boil and then reduce to a medium heat.  Mix 1 cup of cold or room temperature beef stock with 3/4 cup of Clear-Jel. Slowly add the Clear-Jel mixture to the beef-mushroom soup, stir about a minute.  Being careful that soup does not scorch, turn the heat down if  need to avoid scorching.  

Ladle hot soup into hot sterilized jars, remove bubbles, wipe jar rims with a paper towel dampened with white vinegar. Place hot lids on and tighten rings finger tip tight. Place hot jars of soup into pressure canner. Put lid on canner and vent canner for a full 10 minutes after it has a steady stream of steam coming out the steam hole. Then put on the weight and process for 75 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.

As for the taste, despite the darker non-'white/creamy' look, it does taste like a creamy beef gravy.  These will be tasty in my green bean casserole or over a cubed steak.  And the best part is Jon can enjoy some of his favorite creamy recipes minus the cream! 

Cost (not including jars):  
$1/Mushrooms (on sale)
Clear-Jel ($1.25)
Onion / Garlic ($0.50)
Total cost $2.75 = $0.31 per half pint

This recipe yields approximately 9 half pint jars. 

Nutrition comparison for 10 ounces
Calories in Campbell’s Soup = 225
Calories in homemade = 200 (most from bone broth & oil)
Sodium in Campbell's = 2,175 mg

Sodium in homemade = 475mg

Ingredients
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb mushrooms, whole or sliced
1 1/2 qt beef broth canned or homemade
1 Tsp canning salt (added to each pint jar) 
3/4 cup Clear-Jel
1 cup beef broth (to mix with Clear-Jel)
3 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp minced garlic
½ onion diced 

For he satisfies the thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things.
Psalm 107:9

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Texas Bible Bowl Practice

My Bible Bowlers are making great stride in their studies of the book of Acts.  We are a little over half way through Luke's second book.
After my lesson the kids took a practice test and then we moved on to games.  It's a great group but teaching 3rd though 11th graders can be challenging.  With the practice tests it provides more challenge to the older kids and the games are a good lesson reinforcement for the younger students. 

Several years ago Jon and I used to teach the Texas Bible Bowl class and the LTC Bible Bowl class.  Both classes cover the same book of the Bible, however LTC uses the NIV and Texas Bible Bowl uses the ESV.  The stories and teachings are of course very similar but for testing purposes can vary.  For example, the ESV uses the phrase Solomon's Portico while the NIV reads Solomon's Colonnade.  

It's subtle differences but it makes it difficult to use either set of material for both classes.  The latest NIV version has even more variations than the former 1984 version. It would be great if LTC would move over to the ESV, it would make class preparation much easier! 


The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. 
And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. Acts 5:12


Saturday, January 21, 2017

Game Board Carrying Bag

Each year I create game boards for my Bible Bowl class to use in review games.  This make a great way to review our Bible lessons.  However, I don't have a regular classroom for my class so I have to transport my games back and forth to class each week. 

The only problem with this is that they are 24"x36" foam board games, a little awkward to carry.  I knew it wouldn't take much to create a custom carry bag, so with less than two yards of fabric I went to work.  

Taking two side panels 26"x 40", I created a draw string close complete with a side pocket for game pieces. Now I can transport my Paul Down the Wall, Jeopardy, and Zapped games back and forth to class. 

Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust your commands.  Psalm 119:66

Friday, January 20, 2017

Homeschool Teens Whirlyball Game Day


Our PEACH teens got together this afternoon for a day filled with fun.  They met up at local gaming center to play a little Whirlyball.  Fourteen kids split up into teams to compete.  With each game they would regroup into new teams.  

Following Whirlyball they played a couple of games of laser tag.  Our PEACH sponsor for today brought in prizes for top score and most accurate shot.  The kids had a great time and the parents hung out and visited. 

It made for a great day of bonding and fun. The kids were starting to leave before I remembered to get a group shot, so a few are missing from the picture. 


Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless–like chasing the wind. “Fools fold their idle hands, leading them to ruin.” And yet, “Better to have one handful with quietness than two handfuls with hard work and chasing the wind.”  Ecclesiastes 4:4-6 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

For the Technically Challenged

Our PEACH homeschool group is moving right along with the first year of Tech Club.  The kid have written code for 3-D printing.  They have looked at raspberry pi programing and now they are working on the HTML code for their individual websites. 

Abigail's website went public last week, but she is continuing to learn how to add user friendly features to the site. 

The kids have a great IT dad that is walking them through the programing process.  The youth bring their laptops to class and then finish the assignments at home.  

The image on left is a screen shot of Abigail's website and images on the right are snapshots or tonight's class.  When she gets a little further on her site, I'll add the link to my blog so the grandparents can 'ooh & aah' 

“Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.”  Proverbs 9:9

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Canning Cream of Chicken Soup

Sometime after Jon turned forty-ish he became lactose intolerant.  Meaning the boy who grew up having ice cream could no longer stomach milk products!  

It's been a bit of a learning curve to modify meals for him, because almost everything he loves has butter, cheese and cream!  

As kids growing up in the '70s and '80s we both grew up on wonderful creamy casseroles, including his favorite cream of mushroom soup.  I've been doing some research to figure out how to make homemade 'cream of' soup without using cream! 

The next obstacle was can it be canned so that I can go to my pantry pull out a jar and finish a recipe.  

Step one, was to heat up seven cups of chicken broth.  I used some of the chicken bone broth that I had canned earlier.  Because the broth has such a rich chicken flavor, better than the store bought variety, I didn't add any cubed chicken to the stock.  But you could cube up chicken if you choose. 

Bring the broth to a boil and then reduce to a medium heat.  Mix 1 cup of cold or room temperature stock with 3/4 cup of Clear-Jel. Slowly add the Clear-Jel mixture to the chicken stock, stir about a minute.  Being careful that soup does not scorch, turn the heat down if  need to avoid scorching.  

Ladle hot soup into hot sterilized jars, remove bubbles, wipe jar rims with a paper towel dampened with white vinegar. Place hot lids on and tighten rings finger tip tight. Place hot jars of soup into pressure canner. Put lid on canner and vent canner for a full 10 minutes after it has a steady stream of steam coming out the steam hole. Then put on the weight and process for 75 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.

As for the taste, despite the darker non-'white/creamy' look, it does taste like a creamy chicken gravy.  I love adding a jar to my potato soup, or chicken and noodles, or chicken and rice casserole or chicken pot pie, or  . . . 


For lunch today I used one of these along with a quart of bone broth, diced onions, shredded chicken and noodles to make chicken noodle soup! Doesn't it look yummy! 


He gives food to every creature. His love endures forever.

Psalm 136:25

Canning Mandarin Oranges

We were at it again, breaking out the canner and a few bags of fresh fruit.  All three kids love clementines.  I buy the single serve packages of Dole Mandarin Oranges virtually every week.  So when I saw 3 pound bags of clementines for $2, I picked up three bags.  

The girls went to work peeling the fruit and removing as much of the pith (white skin) as possible.  I sterilized pint and jelly jars.  The process is incredibly simple, first you pack the fruit into the jars.  

Next cover the fruit with a light syrup of 5 cups of water and 2 cups of sugar.  Heat the syrup to dissolve the sugar and ladle over the fruit.  Fill the jars, leaving about a half inch head space.  Use a plastic tool to remove any air bubbles. 

Wipe the rims of the jars with a wet paper towel and add warm lids & ring and fingertip tighten. You don’t even need a canner for citrus they can be processed in a water bath in a large stock pot.  Process in a water bath at a full rolling boil for 10 minutes for all sizes of jars.

Now, for the price comparison, my canning 9lbs of Halos yielded 192 ounces of oranges at a cost of $6 vs. $26.16 for the store bought option!  AND, mine has no additives just oranges, pure cane sugar and water! 

And in case you were wondering, Mandarins are a class of oranges that are flatter on both ends, have a mild flavor and are very easy to peel. Tangerines and clementines are mandarins. Clementines are the smallest member of the mandarin family and are seedless. 


Honor the LORD from your wealth And from the first of all your produce;
Proverbs 3:9

Monday, January 16, 2017

Books vs. Movies




Time for the girl's next speech for the Jr. Toastmasters group.  This speech was to focus on intentional gestures and expressions.  Abigail chose to write a piece on the difference in Books vs. Movies, moreover the differences in the people who prefer on genre over another.  The girl loves movies but she is also an avid reader.  I'm fairly confident she would prefer to read a story over watch the movie, but sometimes the movie can offer a quick takeaway on a story and spark interest in reading the original work. 

I'm probably Abigail's toughest critic and this wasn't my favorite speech, but I do love that she writes her own material, I never hear it until she presents it in club.  I love that she is confident in speaking in front of groups and is able to organize her thoughts in written form.  Hopefully it is a skill that will serve her well in life. She does make me smile! 

“Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt,
that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” Colossians 4:6 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Care Package for my College Kid

Caleb has been busy this week with the rush activities for the incoming members of his club.  They've had activities every evening this week and are finishing off with a camping trip this weekend.  When I talked to Caleb he was already hoarse.

The girls and I loaded up a care package with cough drops, hot tea, vitamin C, Jell-O and some Campbell's Chicken Noodle soup.  The goodies should arrive in Lubbock on Monday after his long weekend and hopefully he can recoup and be ready to focus on his classes! 

I'm not sure how Caleb keeps up with everything between club, tutoring others, working in the Bible office, student senate, Ambassadors, Honor's program and his classes!  I get tired just thinking about all the stuff he's involved in, but he seems to enjoy every minute.   

I think if I was taking hermeneutics, homiletics, missions and Greek II my brain would be toast and I wouldn't be able to do anything else but study.  But somehow he manages all of it and still keeps his name on the Dean's List!  I'm kind of proud of that boy! 

Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you,
 even as your soul is getting along well.  3 John 1:2

Thursday, January 12, 2017

It's a Jungle Out There



In January and February the Dallas Zoo offers Penguin Days which are discounted admission days.  They are designed to encourage patrons to visit during colder weather.  We took advantage of the discounted pricing today and were able to enjoy beautiful seventy-two degree weather!

We met up at the zoo with the Hunts and the McAdams for a pseudo McDermott Homeschooler event! Hopefully next time our other families can join in on the fun.  With the beautiful weather all of the animals were out and playful.  The only exception was the Koala who was sound asleep, but they are known to sleep for twenty-two hours per day. 

The kids had a great time playing with the animals.  I think feeding the birds was their  favorite. At one point Noah started getting tired of walking so Abigail hoisted him up on her back and he was good to go. Both of them enjoyed hanging out. 

A righteous man has regard for the life of his animal, But even the compassion of the wicked is cruel. Proverbs 12:10

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Blueberry Pie Filling



One of the staple desserts at the holidays was my Grandmother’s Cheesecake. She always made two; one cherry and one blueberry.  The blueberry was my favorite!  When Jon and I were first married we hosted Thanksgiving dinner at our new home.  I tried to mimic all the family favorite recipes including cheesecake.  

I had no idea all the steps involved in making a homemade cheesecake.  I used cream cheese and cooked in a water bath and a dozen tedious steps.  The whole time I just kept thinking, ‘I can’t see my Grandmother going to this much work!’   

On Thanksgiving Day when I served my masterpiece, it tasted nothing like Grandmother’s home made goodness.  My little Grandmother giggled and confessed that she never made her cheesecakes from scratch; she always used a boxed Jell-O No-Bake Cheesecake Dessert

Blueberry cheesecake is still one of my favorite desserts.  The blueberry goodness is my favorite part regardless of whether it is served over the homemade variety or the boxed mix I grew up with.  So when I saw blueberries on sale at my local grocery store my first thoughts jumped to pie filling! 

Blueberry Pie Filling
10 cups of fresh or frozen blueberries
2 2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup Instant Clear-Jel powder 
4 cups of warm water
¼ cup lemon juice
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Remove stems from blueberries and rinse berries in cool water. Drain well. If using frozen blueberries, do not rinse.

In an 8 quart pan, whisk together the sugar and Clear-Jel until very well combined. Clear-Jel is similar to starch, however it thickens better at high temperatures like canning better than starch.

Add the warm water to the sugar mixture all at once. Using a spoon, stir gently to blend the water into the dry ingredients. Do not use a whisk, as it will cause the pie filling to contain air bubbles.

Over low heat, stirring gently, gradually heat the mixture until it is warm, the Clear-Jel is completely dissolved and the mixture turns translucent, 1 to 2 minutes. Do not allow the filing to boil or it will contain air bubbles. Stir in the lemon just and butter until well blended. Gently fold in the blueberries and heat 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat.

Spoon the pie filling into hot sterilized jars, use a plastic knife to remove air bubbles, and leaving ½ inch head space. Wipe the jar rims and threads with a clean, damp cloth. Cover with hot lids and apply screw rings. Process both pints and quart jars for 30 minutes in a water bath.  

Makes about 6 pint jars or 3 quart jars.

Now all I need is cheesecake. . . or a spoon!  This would be great as an ice cream topper or served over pancakes! 

 But in the fifth year you may eat of its fruit, to increase its yield for you: I am the Lord your God.

Leviticus 19:25

Monday, January 9, 2017

Serving Smiles

I must say that doing volunteer work is a lot more fun when you're hanging out with friends!  Plus the work goes much faster.  The Baileys and the Doans joined our Metro Relief family today.  

I put Gracie and Abigail to work checking in the guests and completing paper work.  Meanwhile, Ella, Tessa and Frankie worked behind the scenes dating and sorting foods.  Frankie was put in charge of packaging up  cookies, I'm thinking that's like putting the fox guarding the hen house.  

Ms. Robin and I worked in Intake, offering needed services to our guests. We finished up the day serving 44 families in three hours.  

If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother  Deuteronomy 15:7

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Baby Time

Today's class was a little younger than my usual Bible Bowl crew! Abigail and I are in the rotation for nursery duty once a month and it's wonderful.  

The little sweeties that come in are the babies of some of the little momma's in my ladies Bible study group.  It was fun to play and read with these precious babies and then switch gears for my Bible Bowl kids afterwards!  Both groups are highly motivated by snacks, but so is their teacher! 

Start children off on the way they should go,

    and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
Proverbs 22:6

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Christmas is Over

Christmas vacation has come to an end and it's time for Caleb to head back to Lubbock.  The girls loaded him up with cookies and treats.  I'm pretty sure there was 'cash' hand shake between the boy and his Dad.
He loaded up his Jeep with clean clothes, books for the new semesters, and a few groceries. 

It's been great to have him home.  He was able to secure his summer internship at a congregation in the Houston area.  He finished up his paperwork for the travel abroad study in the Fall.  And in his spare time he served the hungry, taught Bible Bowl, changed his oil, repaired the dish washer, visited three sets of grandparents, hung out with friends, and put a great big smile on his mom's face! 

Take delight in the Lord,

    and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4

Friday, January 6, 2017

Thriving in the Snow


On the first Monday of the month our church family heads to McKinney to pass out fresh fruits and vegetables, even if it's snowing!   Today was the coldest day we've been outside serving.  Earlier in the morning when I saw the freezing temperatures and the impending snow I worried about us having enough volunteers today.   But my church family  proved me wrong.  Every volunteer that signed up came out today and even some that hadn't signed up came out just in case they were needed.  

Over our two hours at the park we were able to serve one hundred and forty individuals!  It snowed the whole time we were there but we stayed warm!  One of our volunteers brought hand warmers for everyone.  Another volunteer brought hot chocolate for everyone.  Another volunteer pulled his SUV up and kept it running and warm for us to warm up inside.  It was a great day serving! 

There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land. Deuteronomy 15:11

Spelling Competition

Our PEACH friends began preparing for the National Spelling Bee.  In competition today the home schooled kids completed for the top spot to compete in the district competition.  

PEACH had 14 spellers, and the competition was tight! After 16 rounds, Cathryn was declared the champion after she spelled "interminableness" correctly. James was the runner-up. This is the second year in a row that these two have been champion and runner-up of the PEACH Spelling Bee. 

Cathryn will proceed to the Collin County Spelling Bee that will take place on February 1st, 6 P.M. at the Heritage High School Auditorium in Frisco. 

Abigail and I went to support our church families/Bible Bowl/homeschooling friends the Hunts and the Sears.  Both families competed today and Ms. Hunt organized the event.  Great job ladies! 

Ezra came up from Babylon. He was a teacher well versed in the Law of Moses, which the Lord, the God of Israel, had given. The king had granted him everything he asked, for the hand of the Lord his God was on him. Ezra 7:6

Thursday, January 5, 2017

My Boys

One of the blessing of having the boy home from college is that he's here to hang out with Jon.  I know Jon's missed 'projecting' with his boy.  Today the two of them took on the water pump in our dishwasher. 

The dishwasher had stopped getting the dishes clean, in fact the soap pod wasn't even dissolving.  The guys did a little research and after eliminating the heating element they set about replacing the water pump. 

These two have taken on plumbing, electrical, flooring, and all kinds of home improvement projects.  Between the library and the Internet I think they could manage any project.  They are kindred spirits in their desire to learn new things. Not every project works out exactly as planned but in the end, they've acquired new skills and knowledge. 

Lazy hands make for poverty,
    but diligent hands bring wealth.
He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son,
    but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.
Proverbs 10:4-5

Savory BBQ Sauce

When we were at the fair with the Gungans we sampled various barbecue sauces and found that our favorite was a a Worcestershire sauce base. So I added barbecue sauce to my to do list.

After making chili, I had tomato sauce left over.  Next I had celery, onions and garlic left over from my ham stock; which provided the necessary ingredients for that barbecue sauce! 

I love putting the recipe on our little blog, it makes it so much easier to find next time.  

Sauté: 
6 cloves of garlic
1 chopped onion
2 heads of celery, chopped
In 2 sticks of butter 

Add sautéed vegetable to stock pot along with: 
8 cups tomato sauce
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons chili powder 
2 Tablespoons beef bullion granules
7 cups water
4 bay leaves
1 ½ cups Worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons paprika
¾ tsp. black pepper

Simmer about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and strain. Fill hot sauce into sterilized, hot jars, leaving ½ inch headspace and remove air bubbles. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel; apply two-piece metal canning lids to fingertip tightness. Process in a boiling water bath, making sure the jars are completely covered with water.  Bring water to boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium and process pints for 35 minutes. (Quarts would be processed for 50 minutes).

This recipe yielded 9 pints of savory goodness. 

Others, of the sons of the priests, prepared the mixing of the spices
I Chronicles 9:30