Monthly Archives: August 2013

School House Rock

“I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens.  What a heavy burden God has laid on mankind!”  Ecclesiastes 1:13

We have survived our first week of school! (And yes, I have read the above verse in context – it seemed so apropos for us right now!)  And we want to share our first-week experience with you.

Guy is taking 7 hours this semester.  He is in Old Testament 1, New Testament 1, and Spiritual Formation 1.  Here’s his stack of books:

Guy's Books

Guy’s Books

Jessi is taking 7 1/2 hours this semester (believe it or not).  She is in Class Guitar 1, Chapel Orchestra, Music Theory 1, Early Western Civilization Seminar, Southwestern Singers, and The Wife of the Equipping Minister.  Here’s her stack of books:

Jessi's Books

Jessi’s Books

Book for Wife of the Equipping Minister

Book for Wife of the Equipping Minister

Grand total for books this semester?  $750.00 !!!!!!!!!!  We’re still reeling from the sticker shock.  The books I had to buy for Theory was the most expensive factor, $440.00 for 3 books.  However, we are supposed to be able to use these books for all 4 courses over the course of the next 2 years.

Jessi has been hard at work at the Southwestern Grill for a month now.  She has been enjoying the opportunity to work in food service and learn more about working in a commercial kitchen environment.  She was quite surprised today to get an actual tip!  One of the cooks is taking a 2-week vacation starting Monday, and will be turning over the salad and sandwich bar to Jessi during that time.  We’re glad for that vote of confidence.

Jessi has also been interviewing for a second on-campus job, working for Campus Security.  Due to the hours the Grill is open and Jessi’s class schedule, she can only get a maximum of 21 hours per week.  This Security position would be afternoons/evenings, allowing her to get more hours in.  She had a second interview today, and should find out if she got a position on Tuesday or Wednesday next week.

I don’t think we’ve shared the word of Guy’s final grade in Greek.  We are proud to announce that he ended the semester with a 93%!  This has helped to bolster his confidence in his ability to handle college classes after a 15-or-so year hiatus from higher education.

Prayer requests:

*  Finances.  We have managed to purchase the books we need, but need to come up with the money to start paying our tuition for the semester.  Also still working to get all our bills caught up.

*  The Car.  We had a little incident involving driving onto a median while the folks were here, and now we’re hearing a lot of grinding with the brakes on that side.  We realize that this will mandate the car going into the shop for repairs (and the lovely expenses involved therein).  Please pray that we can find a quality mechanic who is very cheap!  Also, just needing to do general maintenance (oil change, etc.).

*  Job hunt(s).  Jessi’s interview, as discussed above.  Also, Guy is realizing that the job at Bass Pro is going to have to be replaced with something much closer to home.  With the wear and tear on the car – plus the 45-minute commute – and uncertain hours, he’s pretty much just working for the gas.  He has been applying for work at the Seminary, but they are taking their time in scheduling interviews (each departmental manager).  He’s also looking some for positions in the community that would be much closer than where he is now.

*  Good time management.  With both of us working, we need to be able to wisely use our time not only for studying, but also for opportunities for ministry, fun, building relationships, plus keeping up with meals, housework, laundry, and sleep!

*  Spiritual growth.  We are realizing more and more that we have a long ways to go in our spiritual development.  We are going to be stretched mightily while here, and God is already working in some very tangible ways in our lives.

*  Encouragement.  We are enjoying meeting new people here and starting to build relationships.  BUT – we would love to also hear from you!  Many of you who read this blog are from back home.  Please leave us some comments.  We sometimes wonder if we’ve been forgotten.  Your encouragement helps keep us going.

*  Opportunity to come home.  We very much desire to come home for a visit during the Christmas holidays (probably closer to New Year’s Day due to Guy’s working a retail job).  This will mean having some money saved for gas, food, etc. and being able to coordinate time off from our jobs.  Please pray with us that this will come to pass.

*  Discernment.  Guy has been talking more about a sense of direction for ministry – namely, feeling called more towards single adult or youth ministry.  Please pray that opportunities in church and at school will open up for us to get involved in these areas, and that God will continue to reveal His calling on our lives and ministry vocation.

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From the Kitchen – Giant Toffee-Chocolate Chip Cookies

 – Recipe taken from the Betty Crocker Cookie Book

After making several pies, I decided I wanted to bake some cookies for a while.  I kept drooling over cookies at the store, but stopped myself from buying any.  I just needed to make some!  These are wonderful cookies, crispy, yet with gooey chocolate from the chocolate chips.  I didn’t find any almond brickle bits at the store, but did find a bag of Heath toffee bits (same area as the chocolate chips).  They taste just as good!

IMG_0043[1]   IMG_0044[1]

Giant Toffee – Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup butter or margerine, softened

1/2 cup shortening

1/4 cup honey

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 package (12 ounces) miniature semisweet chocolate chips (2 cups)

1 package (7 1/2 ounces) almond brickle chips (1 cup)

*  Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Beat brown sugar, butter, shortening, honey and egg in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with spoon.  Stir in flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Stir in chocolate chips and brickle chips.

*  Drop dough by level 1/4 cupfuls (or regular spoonfuls for a “normal” sized cookie) about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 12-14 minutes or until edges are golden brown (centers will be soft).  Cool 3 to 4 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

Yield: I think I got about 5-6 dozen by dropping by regular spoonfuls.  If you do the 1/4 cupfuls, the recipe says it will make about 1 1/2 dozen.

ENJOY!

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Yee Haw!

Howdy from Texas!  We’ve had a wonderful time with family here, but our time is drawing to a close.  They will be headed home in the morning, and while we’ll miss them, things are about to become very busy!  Classes start up Thursday for the Fall semester, and we’re busy with orientations to the seminary and to the music department.  Guy’s taking 7 credit hours, while I’ll be taking 8.

I know that I bombarded you with pictures last post, but I want to add a few more. 🙂  These are from our trip to the Fort Worth Stockyards on Saturday.  We looked in the Visitor’s Center, some of the local shops, and watched both the daily cattle drive and the gun show.  Here’s the cattle drive for you!

Cattle Drive

Cattle Drive

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The gun show was rather humorous.  The guy who was the deputy wanted to be the marshal, so he held the marshal at gunpoint, demanding his pistol, his badge, and his hat.  He thought he was pretty cool – until 2 bank robbers came out and stated that they were going to kill him.  He convinced the marshal to take back his weapon, hat and badge, and the marshal ended up killing the two robbers.  It was chock-full of humor and idiocy, but very clean.  Here’s a picture of the deputy for your amusement:

Deputy

Deputy

On our way back to our car, we walked by an old stagecoach.  For a fee, you can even ride in it around the block!  Rainey wanted to pet the horse closer to her, and the horse turned its head to nuzzle her for a moment.  It was cute!

Old-fashioned stagecoach

Old-fashioned stagecoach

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We will miss being with family.  But we’ve had a great time and enjoyed showing them our corner of the world.  Now it will be easier for them to understand when we refer to certain places.  And we’re hoping to come home sometime during the Christmas break.

 

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Just Visiting

“Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you.  After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children.  So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well.  If I love you more, will you love me less?” 2 Corinthians 12:14-15

Us!

Us!

Guy with his parents and my mom

Guy with his parents and my mom

We are so glad to have family here with us!  They came down on Tuesday, August 13 and will head back home on Tuesday, August 20.  Guy’s parents came down, bringing Rainey with them, so it’s been a nice reunion for all of us.  We have stayed busy the last week leading up to their visit, cooking and cleaning and just generally trying to prepare for their visit.  The house has looked so nice, that I finally got around to taking all those pictures of the house I promised a couple of months ago, so here’s a photo view of our apartment:

Living Room

Living Room

Living Room

Living Room

Kitchen

Kitchen

Kitchen

Kitchen

Bedroom

Bedroom

Bedroom

Bedroom

Computer room

Computer room

Bathroom

Bathroom

We’ve been fairly busy, what with them here.  We’ve given them the grand campus tour, looked in a couple of grocery stores, and eaten out a couple of times (big party-er, I know!).  Then we had a wonderful time in Dallas yesterday, going to tour the George W. Bush Presidential Library.  Here’s a couple of pictures I took while there:

Twisted metal from the Twin Towers - thought to be a point of impact from the planes

Twisted metal from the Twin Towers – thought to be a point of impact from the planes

Inside the "Oval Office"

Inside the “Oval Office”

Inside the "Oval Office"

Inside the “Oval Office”

Presidential Seal in the "Oval Office"

Presidential Seal in the “Oval Office”

Bronze Statues of both President Bushes

Bronze Statues of both President Bushes

Rainey and the Bushes

Rainey and the Bushes

We also did a drive-by tour of Dealey Plaza while we were in Dallas, but didn’t stop and get out – we were too hungry!  After a nice steak dinner at Texas Land and Cattle, we headed back to our apartment.  This month is busy for celebrations for our family: Rainey (my mom) and Nancy (Guy’s mom) both have birthdays, and Nancy and Guy (my Guy’s dad) have their anniversary!  We gave both Rainey and Nancy a birthday card and a t-shirt we purchased from Mardel’s Christian Bookstore.  We’re glad to find one of those stores down here, since we became rather familiar with the one back in Springfield.

Tomorrow, we plan to visit the Fort Worth Stockyards.  We especially want to be there in time to catch one of the cattle drives that they do twice daily.  There’s also a bunch of shops in the area to explore, plus a couple of good restaurants, a cupcake shop, and who-knows-what-else we’ll find to poke our noses into.  I’ll blog about that later.

Prayer Requests:

*  Continued good visit with family, and safe travels for them as they return home on Tuesday

*  Upcoming interview for Jessi on Monday

*  Better and closer job for Guy

*  Classes start at the end of this next week

*  Financial improvement and stability

*  Courage to uphold convictions and flesh them out – clarity with this too

*  Guidance for future plans

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From the Kitchen – Italian-Baked Chicken

What with family here, plus working, I’m stretched a little with trying to make good meals that will appeal to hopefully everyone this week.  I was looking for a chicken recipe that would be fairly quick and easy, since I changed my mind about barbecuing chicken.  I found this in a one-pot cookbook and decided to give it a try.  It’s on the menu for Friday, along with a copycat cheddar bay biscuit recipe I found on Pinterest (a very good/bad website – I lose track of time here!) and mashed sweet potatoes with butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar.

Italian-Baked Chicken

Italian-Baked Chicken

Red Potatoes and Artichoke Hearts

Red Potatoes and Artichoke Hearts

Italian-Baked Chicken

4 teaspoons salt-packed capers (if you have capers in brine, you don’t need to soak them – just rinse and drain well)

6-8 small red boiling potatoes, quartered

1 9-oz package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed

3 large garlic cloves, chopped

3/4 teaspoon dried rosemary

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves

1/2 cup white wine

*  Heat the oven to 375* F.  Cover the capers with water in a small dish and soak for 15 minutes.  Drain.

*  Scatter the potatoes and artichokes over the bottom of a flameproof roasting pan.  Chop the garlic and rosemary together; divide in half.  Sprinkle half of the garlic mixture over the potatoes and artichokes.  Sprinkle with the salt and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper; toss to coat.  Drizzle with 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil and the lemon juice; toss again.

*  Top with the chicken, skin side up, in a single layer.  Chop the remaining garlic mixture with the capers and sprinkle over the chicken; rub into the skin.  Sprinkle with the remaining 1 Tablespoon oil.  Pour in the wine along the side of the pan.

*  Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink in the thickest portion when cut with a knife.  Remove the chicken, potatoes, and artichokes to a platter and place the roaster over medium-high heat.  Boil the cooking juices until reduced by half, 3-4 minutes.  Pour over the chicken and serve.

Baked Sweet Potatoes Mashed With Butter, Brown Sugar, and Cinnamon

Baked Sweet Potatoes Mashed With Butter, Brown Sugar, and Cinnamon

Copycat Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Copycat Cheddar Bay Biscuits

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From the Kitchen – Amish White Bread

This is a wonderful bread with a great crumb, suitable for sandwiches and toast (if it lasts that long!).  We’ve even been enjoying it plain or with a quick smear of margarine.

Amish White Bread

Amish White Bread

Fresh loaf

Fresh loaf

 

Amish White Bread

2 cups warm water

2/3 cup white sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/4 cup oil

6 cups bread flour

1.  In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar in warm water, then add the yeast.

2.  When yeast is proofed, mix in salt and oil.

3.  Mix in flour one cup at a time.

4.  Knead dough adding more flour if necessary.

5.  Place in a well oiled bowl and turn dough to coat.

6.  Cover with a damp cloth.

7.  Allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

8.  Punch dough down.

9.  Knead for a few minutes and divide in half.

10.  Shape into loaves, and place into oiled pans.

11.  Allow to rise until dough has risen 1 inch above the pans.

12.  Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes.

Close-up of yeasty goodness!

Close-up of yeasty goodness!

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Hard Work, Work

“May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children.  May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us- yes, establish the work of our hands.”  Psalm 90:16-17

Jessi is working!  I had interviewed last week for a job in the grill at the seminary, and was offered the position.  I did paperwork with HR on Monday, and started work all bright and bleary-eyed at 6 AM on Tuesday.  I worked Tuesday through Friday (today) from 6 AM to 2 PM.  They have me splitting my time between the serving line and the kitchen, where I’m helping prep for sandwich condiments and the salad bar, plus baking rolls and buns, dependent on the day’s menu.  I’m getting to be a pretty good breakfast short-order cook, if I do say so myself.  The job is fun, and I’m enjoying it.  Now if I can just get my body to adjust to early morning hours…

Guy finished Greek today!  He took his final this morning, and feels pretty good about it.  He checked before class, and was sitting at 91%.  The 2 worst quiz scores will be dropped, which will raise that score before the final.  He should find out his final grade next week.

We are scurrying around down here.  Guy’s parents and my mom will be coming down for a week-long visit starting Tuesday.  We’re busy cleaning house, and I’m cooking up a storm in preparation for their visit.  We’re hoping to make a trip to Dallas while they’re here, to visit the George Bush Library and to see the area where Kennedy was shot.  We’re also planning to visit the Stockyards area and let them take in the daily cattle drive.

Guy has decided that he needs to find a different job.  He’s having to drive almost an hour one way, his hours are sporadic and unpredictable in regards to the number of hours per week, and they have a habit of not training part-time employees on things such as the cash registers, which means he cannot really sell anything.  He’s spending his entire shift picking up stuff that’s been discarded and restocking it.  He’s submitting applications to businesses that are much closer to home, and has several in to positions on  campus.  Please be in prayer for him as he resumes the search.

Prayer Requests:

*  Praise – Jessi’s job!

*  Praise – Guy’s class done

*  Pray for safe travel and a good visit with family as they visit us next week

*  Wisdom with choosing which classes to take/drop for both Guy and Jessi

*  Financial stresses

*  New job for Guy

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From the Kitchen – Fresh Blackberry Pie

I bought some blackberries a couple of weeks ago.  While normally just a fan of seedless blackberry jam on toast and English muffins, I had a craving for something with blackberries.  I found a recipe for blackberry pie in my copy of the Better Home and Gardens Cookbook and made it.  It was delicious!  How delicious?  Let’s just say that Guy and I ate half on the first night, decided that if we shared some with our neighbors (as we had originally planned to do) there wouldn’t be enough left over for us so didn’t, and finished it within the next 2 days.  Yeah, we were stingy, but it was that good.  This is one of the recipes I plan to make while family is here.

Fresh blackberry pie!

Fresh blackberry pie!

Blackberry Pie

1 recipe Pastry for Single Crust Pie (follows)

5 cups fresh or frozen blackberries

3/4 to 1 cup sugar

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Butter

1.  Preheat oven to 375* F.  Prepare and roll out Pastry for Single Crust Pie.  Line a 9-inch pie plate with a pastry circle.

2.  In a large bowl prepare the pie filling, first combining sugar, flour and cinnamon.  Stir in the blackberries, adding the almond extract after the berries.  Gently toss the berries until coated.  (If using frozen fruit, let mixture stand for 45 minutes or until fruit is partially thawed but still icy.)

3.  Transfer berry mixture to the pastry-lined pie plate.  Dot top of pie filling with small bits of butter.  Trim bottom pastry to edge of pie plate.  Re-roll scraps and cut into strips.  Weave these across top of pie, using a little bit of water on your finger to wet bottom crust slightly and pressing strips down on top to adhere.  Trim strips around edge of plate and crimp with the tines of a fork.

4.  If desired, brush top pastry strips with milk and sprinkle with additional sugar.  To prevent overbrowning, cover edge of pie with foil.  Bake for 25 minutes (or 50 minutes for frozen fruit).  Remove foil.  Bake pie for 25 to 30 minutes more or until filling is bubbly and pastry is golden.  Cool on a wire rack.

Closer look at lattice crust

Closer look at lattice crust

Pastry for Single Crust Pie

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup shortening (such as Crisco)

4 to 5 tablespoons cold water

1.  In a medium bowl stir together flour and salt.  Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening until pieces are pea size.

2.  Sprinkle the 4 tablespoons of water over the flour mixture.  Using a spoon, mix until all flour is moistened and is coming together into a ball.  If it is too dry, add the other tablespoon of water.  You may have to finish this step with your hands (which is truly the best mixing tool we have).

3.  On a lightly floured surface, use your hands to slightly flatten pastry.  Roll pastry from center to edges into a circle about 12 inches in diameter.

4.  Transfer pastry to your pie plate, being sure to fit it to the pan.  Trim the pastry around the edges of the pie plate, and there you go!

NOTE: I find that I generally have enough dough left over from this recipe to re-roll and then cut into strips to lattice the pie, or place in a smaller dish (such as a small Pyrex bowl) that can hold filling from your main pie, especially such as custard or pumpkin pies that always seem to have too much filling for the pie shell.

Happy eating!

Slice of pie

Slice of pie

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On Disappointment

“The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”  Deuteronomy 31:8

Isn’t it wonderful that God placed promises for us in His Word?  Even when we feel that He is nowhere near us, He never leaves.  For this reason, we are to not fear our circumstances and should be encouraged to continue in how we sense the Lord leading our lives, even if it seems that everything is falling apart around us.

Last week was a low point for me (Jessi).  The job interview that I was sure would be a breeze and find me employed came… and went.  I received the party line of “we do hold onto applications for a year” and no callback from the manager that seemed over-eager to hire me the week before.  I was devastated.  I cried, I moped, and I had the pity party that had probably been brewing under my determination to paint a rosy picture on being down here with little income, no friends, and a lot of financial stress.  I was, to be blunt towards myself, a mess.

But as I started pulling myself back out of the dumps, I found myself being encouraged.  Guy was wonderful, letting me cry and vent my frustration, and then participating in some long talks about what we’re going through, how we’re feeling, our expectations, etc.  I had the opportunity to call my mom and have a really long conversation with her.  Then, through conversation with the pastor’s wife of the Methodist church I’ve been filling in as pianist for, she is encouraging me to write a book!  No, it’s not about the perils of moving to attend seminary.  Rather, the book would be about the need for bringing back craft-based fellowship and mentoring opportunities in the church.

Now firmly out of the dumps and back on my feet, I was surprised today to find an email asking me to come for an interview at the Seminary.  I interviewed this afternoon, and will be hearing back by this weekend – hopefully with a job offer!

Guy is still plugging away at Greek, and is counting down the days to the end of the semester – August 9.  They’ve got 3 more chapters to go, and the Final.  The last time he checked he was sitting at a 92%, which I’m thrilled about, especially since this is a foreign language course that combines 2 semesters’ worth of material into 2 months.

Guy is hard at work at Bass Pro, but we’re wondering if we’re going to have problems with hours.  The first 3 weeks he worked 17 hours per week, but this week was only given 11 hours.  Considering the distance to work (approximately a 45-minute drive), with the cost of fuel and wear-and-tear on the car, we’re starting to wonder if he needs to see about a different job closer to home.  He’s also looking into the possibility of trying to go full-time at Bass Pro.  He does have some applications pending at the seminary, which would really be the most attractive option.

We’re having to weigh options regarding class schedules/options due to the finances.  Guy’s planning to drop from his original intention of 13 hours in the Fall to 6, and I’m looking at around somewhere between 9 and 12, since one 3-hour class is free to student wives.  Hopefully we’ll be able to work on scholarship applications (and get awarded some) that will help us for upcoming semesters.

We are continuing preparations towards family coming mid-August.  We keep arranging things in the house, are trying to clean often, and I keep fiddling with my menu plans!  Next week will be a lot of cooking as I try to get some of the preparation out of the way: making sauce for the enchiladas and spaghetti sauce for the lasagna, plus assembling the lasagna.  These items can freeze well, so I plan to take advantage of that!

Prayer Requests:

*  A job for Jessi and more work hours/different job for Guy

*  Endurance for Guy as he finishes classes

*  Financial stresses to lessen

*  Fortitude to carry out convictions

*  Safe travel for family and a good visit

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