Photo Challenge Finale (days 6 and 7), Snow, and This Week’s Plans

Whew! Busy, busy times. Between a full-on weekend last weekend (often not to bed until 11 or so), getting sick for the good part of last week, and a few other things that needed to be done, I decided to take a break. I’m sure I needed it, but in many ways I always hate taking breaks because it’s often really hard to get started again.

However, this time it hasn’t been that bad to get back in the groove. Yes, I did miss posting the last two posts of the photo challenge, even though I did take pictures each of those days. I finally have time today to get this post up—yay!

Day 6:

Birthday deserts

I even got a chocolate cake in the end—wished on me by a cousin, and given to me by a friend!

It was my birthday! I spent the whole day playing in the kitchen baking different things (pavlova, sugar-free pavlova, and sweet rolls), which was really fun. That evening, several friends came over to help us eat the turkey that had been butchered for the occasion. We had a great time.

Day 7:

Cook-out 01

The boys decided to burn a pile of sticks we had out in the paddock, and someone suggested a cookout for Saturday lunch. So that’s what we did. They got one of Mom’s cast iron skillets, fitted a long pole to the handle, and settled it in the middle of the coals after the fire had burned down. They then proceeded to roast precooked sausages. It was a delicious meal, finished off with a few marshmallows!

Cook-out 02

Cook-out 03

After lunch, most of us headed out to the ocean. Ross, one of the friends who had come Friday, was staying with us for the weekend and we wanted to show him around a bit. Since we were going to be near water, the boys inevitably wanted to bring their boats along. They had a great time for a little while—until it simply got too cold to be on the water any longer!

Boating 01

Boating 02

Boating 03

Boating 04

The two little boys got cold first. They ended up sharing a towel for a bit, until the older one was offered a quick boat ride. Then the youngest sat on my lap in an effort to warm up a little while we waited for the older boys to get ready to leave.

Boating 05

Flowers

Someone had the brilliant idea of giving me a few of the early daffodils right before we left the ocean—I loved it! And it was fun to be able to use my new vase for the first time, too. Lovely spot of color for my desk, especially these last few days as a winter storm has finally brought a little moisture to our part of the country.

And now today, a week later:

We got a little rain the last part of this week, and both yesterday morning and this morning we actually had a little snow on the ground! That doesn’t happen very often, because we’re only 50 meters or so above sea level—we do have a range of hills between us and the sea, but even so we generally only get rain. This morning on the way to church I got to take a couple pictures of the gorgeous hills and mountains surrounding us. There’s nothing like a touch of snow to make everything look bigger and even more beautiful than before!

Snow! 01

Kaikoura mountain range

Snow! 02

Taken as we crossed a river north of us—these are some of the hills between us and the sea.

Since it was snowy and very frosty (so much so, in fact, that early this morning we couldn’t get any of the van doors open—they were frozen shut!), we set off for church half an hour early. There’s a fairly high range of hills between us and church, and we’ve slipped a bit before on black ice, so Dad wanted to take it slow. Praise the Lord, we got through safely with plenty of time left, so we headed out to the ocean for a five-minute stretch break before going back into town for church.

Ocean

It’s been a gorgeous day, and the sun just set about half an hour ago behind the trees and hills to the west. It was one of those golden sunsets, the kind that you have to just stop and take in for a moment or two. God is so good to us!

Plans:

I posted a “planning” post two weeks ago, and although I would have done a new one last weekend, that didn’t work out due to more worthwhile activities. This past week ended up having plenty to keep me occupied with anyway, even without goals to meet, and I learned some valuable lessons through that. Even though it was a more difficult week, God has shown Himself faithful in innumerable ways and I think I’ve learned to rest even more on His guidance. It’s tough at times, but I know He holds the future and in that I can find complete peace. After all, “…the LORD thy God, He it is that doth go with thee; He will not fail thee, nor forsake thee” (see Deuteronomy 31:6). What a promise!

For the most part, this week will probably be pretty normal, although next weekend is going to be busy. Lord willing, we’ll be attending a conference, so along with all the “normal” weekend stuff, that’ll be added in somewhere too. That means wonderful but FULL days! Even so, I’m looking forward to it. 🙂

To-do list from two weeks ago:

  1. Schedule reviews through the 31st
  2. Read The Destiny of a Galaxy
  3. Watch the DVD Fly Away Home (can’t watch this on my computer, so I’ll have to borrow Mom’s sometime)
  4. Read up/do practice tests for getting my learner’s driver license (nope, but I’m hoping to focus on that this week)
  5. Sign up for another affiliate program
  6. Work through the website to-do list
  7. Do some baking Friday!

This week’s to-do list:

  1. Write reviews of The Destiny of a GalaxySacred AllegoriesCapyboppy, and begin one for Coffee Cake Days (we’ve actaully almost run out of reviews, and I’ve read these lately so I ought to get the reviews written so I can post them!)
  2. Finish watching Ben-Hur and review
  3. Watch Fly Away Home
  4. Read Manuscript for Murder
  5. Upload reviews for the week
  6. Get this week’s newsletter out on time
  7. Study and practice for driving test

Overall, I’ve had a great couple weeks. I hope you have, too! Keep your eyes on Jesus this coming week and glorify His name!

Bicycles and Siblings (Photo Challenge day 3)

Today, several of my brothers went to a friend’s birthday party. This afternoon while they waited to go pick the boys up again, my two youngest brothers were outside playing so I got to snap a few pictures of them. I love looking back at pictures like this—moments in time. Even if they aren’t the best quality, they’re things that “will never be quite the same again” (to quote one of my favorite songs, We Have This Moment).

Let's go!

It's noisy out here....

These guys are growing up so fast. It’s so fun to watch them grow up, but sad, too. It’s sad that soon they’ll be too old to ask for a goodnight hug and kiss from me—nothing melts a big sister’s heart more than that! These guys are so precious.

Future mechanic?

Future mechanic? He’s trying to figure out why there’s a string in an odd place in the back.

You know, as I think of how fast the years have gone past since these guys were such little things, I’m amazed at how much I’ve grown as well in my faith. How much more Jesus means to me than He did back then.

Wanting out

THIS is why our windows don’t stay clean! And it’s also why it’s worth it to have dirty windows.

Please?

She wants out to play with her big brothers!

Road's too small

I found one my size!

Let's do this together!

Practicing for the real thing.

Just as we children love each other, God loves us. And just as they were waiting to leave to pick up our brothers, we’re all waiting for Jesus to come back.

Keep on keeping on while you wait. Don’t pause in the race to rest. I was listening to Pilgrim’s Progress today on my walk, and came across the place where the three men—Simple, Sloth, and Presumption—lay sleeping, and how they wouldn’t listen to Christian’s concern for them….don’t sleep in your Christian life! Keep on seeking Jesus, and walk the walk He’s laid out for you.

Toys! (Photo Challenge day 2)

Little sister came out to my room this morning as everyone else was doing school. She doesn’t do it often these days—it’s currently winter, and although the weather belies that fact, it is chilly outside most of the time so she doesn’t have many chances to escape the house. However, today it was warm enough to have the doors open and out she came!

Toys 01

She doesn’t say much, but today she announced something similar to “Toys!” and proceeded to dump the contents of the cardboard box I use as a toybox on the floor. Usually she asks me to get it out for her, and generally only pulls a few things out before rediscovering the books and forgetting about the other animals and blocks. However, she played for forty-five minutes or so, both discussing the different books with me and playing with the animals. She seemed to enjoy herself.

Toys 02

And as I watched her from time to time, examining the nuances of the different books or playing with the different animals, I had to think how we really ought to be like that, too—appreciating the beauties of the world around us, even if it just comes from a common toybox. Being content with what we have, with what we’ve been promised in Christ. Not wishing to have any more now than our King wishes us to have right now (see the section on Passion and Patience in Pilgrim’s Progress).

Job 12:7-10 is a beautiful passage on the subject: “But ask now the beasts [or the little children?], and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this? In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.

He cares for us! Isn’t that just wonderful?

Walnut Day

Last Saturday, I had just gotten back from my walk and picked up a pen to do some more review editing when my phone rang. It was Dad, asking if I could come with him and the boys to show them where the walnut trees were that my boss had offered to us. Sure! So I grabbed my camera, and soon we were on the way. My only job was to show them the trees, which meant I had enough time to take a few pictures of the workers. (Don’t worry; I did pick up my share of nuts when we went to another friend’s place to get some more!)

Walnut Day 01

While we were waiting to leave, this funny little girl found a ball. She would throw it, then look at me with a huge grin and run to grab and throw it again!

Walnut Day 02

Walnut Day 03

Older brother and youngest brother teamed up for a while, but soon my youngest brother realized picking up walnuts is boring, so he went off to play by himself while most of the rest of us worked.

Walnut Day 04

Little sister was very diligent!

Walnut Day 05

Walnut Day 06

Walnut Day 07

She did stop working to examine some gum tree bark after a while, though.

Walnut Day 08

Little brother climbed the tree!

Walnut Day 09

Walnut Day 10

A tiny portion of the crop.

Walnut Day 11

Walnut Day 12

The sunset last Saturday evening was gorgeous!

You know, while walnut gathering did disrupt my plans for last Saturday, I wouldn’t really have anything different. We had a great time as a family, and we’ll be very thankful for the nuts this winter. We’ve made some good memories. God is so good to us!

The Mystery Object: Can You Help?

One evening this week, my ten year old brother was searching through my sixteen year old brother’s things, trying to find a lost wallet. I don’t know if he ended up finding the wallet or not, but he did discover something fascinating—an old metal thing, with the name “Nat” inscribed on the outside, and a tiny picture of a man on the inside. It is about 15 mm in diameter, so pretty tiny!

Mystery Object 01

There is nothing on the outside edge that would have made it possible to put on a necklace (no little loops or anything), and it wasn’t made to snap onto clothing as a button—we tried that out, and it didn’t work.

Mystery Object 02

I asked my brothers how they had found it, and the older brother said he had seen something shiny in the garden while he was cultivating, and picked it up. It was covered in dirt, so he soaked it in water and then cleaned it off. Afterward, he put it in with his other odds and ends, and forgot about it.

Then our younger brother was looking for his wallet, and found it—and seeing that it was made up of two different pieces, tried to open it! After prying it apart, this is what he found. In an attempt to find out who the man was, the boys popped his picture out to see if there were words underneath, but there were none—and in the process of putting it back in, some of the picture flaked off. They decided we ought to take a photograph of it before it gets any worse!

Mystery Object 03

Have you seen anything like this before? Do you know what it could be? None of us can figure any more out than what has already been stated.


In other news, I’m working on writing a guest post for my cousin Kendra Stamy at A Proverbs 31 Wife. So far, the task has proven challenging, but I’m enjoying it. Lots of interesting thoughts coming out about books and why we read what we read. Praying that I’ll be able to encourage someone through this opportunity! I’ll share the link on here once the post is published.

Also, I’ve been working on memorizing Psalm 67 the last two weeks. So far, so good—almost through the chapter now. I did get a little stuck on verse four, but I think I’m getting it. Just need to remember that verses three and five are exactly the same, and get six and seven down pat yet. I’m getting there!

Memorising Psalm 67:4

I decided to put the verse on my computer desktop until I get it memorized, so I won’t forget to practice it.

I also need to get this month’s newsletter written and sent. AFTER the guest post is written! I need to send out the last giveaway prize today—just heard back from the last winner this morning—and then that job will be done. 🙂 There are a couple other emails related to the giveaway that need replies yet, but they’ll be taken care of soon.

And along with all of that, I’m trying to ignore the insistent summons from a recent fascinating story, The Destiny of a Few by Sarah Holman, to finish reading it. Hey, I just got on Amazon to get a link for you, and I see that the Kindle version is currently free! Get it now if you can! I’m about halfway through the book, and thoroughly enjoying the adventure, even though I don’t completely agree with some of the views put forward in the book. If I can hold out until my work for today is done, then I can indulge in reading. I think.

Hope you’re having a great day, and if you have any ideas about what this mystery object is, my brothers and I would be glad to hear your thoughts.

The Three Little Monkeys and the Big Bad Bull (Video) | Khemists in the Kitchen, Episode 5

Or in other words, season finale! Although we weren’t planning to have a season at all, and we probably aren’t going to do this again.

This particular movie was fun to make. As a family, we children had been kicking around the idea of doing a twist on the traditional Three Little Pigs story, but we hadn’t been able to figure out exactly what we should do or how we should go about it. But since I wanted a nice wrap-up to these recipe videos, and since everyone wanted to make another family movie (it’s becoming a tradition around here), we decided we’d give this a go.

The Three Little Monkeys and the Big Bad Bull video

It took a lot of work, much more than any of us ever imagined at first, but I think it’s ended up worth it. They still enjoy watching it, which means it can’t be too bad!

As my brothers and I were planning the movie—figuring out which part each of us would play, deciding on the final plot, etc, one thing I wanted was to make sure we were all in it somewhere. With eight children in the family, that has the potential to be difficult to do! However, we all have an appearance somewhere, and even little sister managed to get in—she was playing on the floor for 2-3 seconds in one scene.

This is by no means a professional movie, but I hope you enjoy it at least as much as we did creating it and watching it together!

There is a short recipe in the video, showing you how to make ants on a log if you didn’t already know:

Take prewashed slices of celery, liberally spread with peanut butter, and put raisins on top for the “ants”. This makes a quick, easy, yet deliciously healthy snack!

Have you ever been an actor in a video? If not, have you ever wanted to?

–Esther

(Depending on your answer, I have an idea for another post about how we make movies and some things we’ve learned along the way!)

The Rock Stands Forever

When I got home from work today, I found out that a friend of the family who had been planning to come spend the day with us tomorrow came today instead, and brought a friend along with him. It was great to meet her, and nice to catch up with him a little.

Ocean02

The muddy color in the ocean to the top right is where a river (obviously very silty right now!) is joining the ocean.

After talking for a while this afternoon, most of the family went out to the local beach. We’ve had quite a bit of hot weather lately, so it was nice to relax and wade a little in the beautiful cool Pacific!

Ocean03

We were on the beach for 15 minutes or so, and then headed up the steep, winding hill to the lookout over the bay. This is a favorite spot for us; we’ve taken quite a few different visitors up there. It never seems to get old, though.

Ocean04

While we stood at the railing, enjoying the breeze, the sunshine, and the beauty around us, our new friend commented that these rocks have been there for a long, long time—even longer than she or I have been alive. Pondering that fact, looking at the intricately carved cliff face, reminded me of God.

“His Word lasts forever, too,” I commented as I studied the deep greens of the native bush in front of us.

Ocean01

We might come past and look at it, maybe even dig a little into it to figure out why it looks the way it does. Generations come and go, and yet His Word is always there. Unchanged, unmoved, solid as rock.

“Lots of little faces have come and stared at this rock, just like we are now,” my new friend mused. “Then they go away, but the rock stays there. And more little faces will come and look at it again.”

Through everything—storm, wind, hail, earthquake, beating sun—the rock stands.

Ocean05

Soon it was time to move on. My cousin, who was also with us, wanted to explore a track he had found there—that we had no idea was in the area, even though we’ve explored that particular beach many different times. It was a fun walk; we did a good portion of it in an hour and a half.

Ocean06

A container ship we spotted from the lookout on the track.

On the way down, the boys all went at their own speeds, most getting to the beach and changed before we got back.

Ocean08

I stopped to “smell the roses” for a bit. Except I think I forgot to actually smell them in my attempt to get a good picture.

Ocean07

All in all, it’s been a gorgeous day! God’s creation is so beautiful . . . hearing the twitters and tweets of birds singing in the native bush, the crash and roll of the waves hitting the beach, the sucking knocking sound of rocks rolling in the receding wave, the indescribable blue blue of the ocean, the beautiful piney scent as we drove under pine trees, and so many other sights and sounds and flavors that I can’t even describe. God is good. God is so, so good.

And the really amazing part? Despite all this beautiful creation, that He can enjoy every single day of every single year, He chooses to love us—who scorn His very Gift all too often.

Challenge: What is one thing you can see from where you are right now that shows His beautiful loving care? That shouts that He is in control?

Favorite Family Dessert: Fruit Ripple Recipe (Video) | Khemists in the Kitchen, Episode 4

When was the last time you had something really fruity that gave you a melt-in-the-mouth experience? Something that was actually healthy to boot? Fruit ripple is the epitome of that, and our family loves this dessert on the rare days when my brother decides to give it to us!

Fruit Ripple Recipe

Originally, this recipe came from an Usborne children’s cookbook. Mom got it out of the library for me back when I was 9 or 10, and I loved it so much that I ended up buying my own copy, even though $15 seemed like a huge amount of money at the time! Our version is changed enough, though, that we think it’s probably okay to share.

Fruit Ripple Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of fruit (he used equal amounts of frozen bananas, plum halves, peaches, and black currants—we usually use whatever’s on hand at the time)
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • ¼ cup sugar, honey or a combination (we use a squirt or two of liquid Stevia)

Directions:
Pour fruit into a blender (may be easier to do in a food processor). Add the greek yogurt (may make the process a little easier if this goes in first). Add sweetener, and blend well—should end up with something resembling a very thick smoothie.

Whip the cream, adding a bit of sweetener there as well. Whip it to a good amount of thickness. (Maybe a little thicker than in the video—our cream wasn’t obeying!) Pour into a serving bowl, and then carefully fold the fruit mixture in with the cream.

Store in the fridge to set a little more, until you’re ready to eat it. We put it in the freezer most of the time, and usually it isn’t a problem—except when we forget about it, and then it turns into something like ice cream.

Ever had a dessert similar to fruit ripple before? What is your favorite kind of an easy-to-make dessert?

How to Make Eggnog (Recipe Video) | Khemists in the Kitchen, Episode 3

There’s a bit of a story behind this one…my brother came up with the idea for sharing how to make eggnog one day, but for several days we couldn’t make it because I was working. Finally, we were able to do it—but due to poor planning, and acting-as-you-go, the first take turned out pretty terrible. (I laughed while videoing at one stage! Bad, bad videographer!)

For a while, he was okay with the result, but then decided it should be better if we were going to share it with anyone. Below is the second version, much better than the first.

Be warned: The first 4 min, 40 sec is slightly gross, so if you have a weak stomach I suggest you skip it. It’s not bad, but it does contain rotten eggs and other like disgusting stuff. Bear in mind that the first half is and was supposed to be a spoof, and you should be okay.

Eggnog Recipe (the good kind):

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg (as fresh as possible—we use our own eggs, preferably laid that day)
  • pour in milk up to the 1 cup mark on your blender
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • a few drops of vanilla extract
  • a couple (slight) shakes of nutmeg

Directions:
Add together in blender, and blend well. Pour into glasses and enjoy!

We make this occasionally now that the boys have discovered how simple it is to make and how yummy it tastes! Usually, we replace the sugar with stevia, because that’s better for us. However, sugar works well too.

Have you had eggnog before? What was your impression of the drink?

Our Favorite Snacks (Recipe Video) | Khemists in the Kitchen, Episode 2

Hello, again! Today, I’d like to share our family’s two most favorite snacks. These are eaten a lot around here—as in, almost everyone has one kind or the other each day.

Our Favorite Snacks Recipe (Video)

The nice thing about these is that they’re simple enough that with a little supervision, my six-year-old brother can make them himself! He thought he’d like to show you how to do it, too.

First, he shows how to make Cheese Bread.

Ingredients:

  • A piece of toast (can be untoasted—works either way)
  • Mayonnaise
  • Slice of cheese
  • Optional: Prepared mustard

Directions:
Take a piece of toast, spread on a thin layer of mayonnaise, lay a slice of cheese on top, and grill for a minute or two until the cheese has melted. Optionally serve it with prepared mustard—some of us like it that way, and others don’t.

Then, he shows how to make Cinnamon Toast.

Ingredients:

  • A piece of toast (can be untoasted—works either way)
  • Butter
  • Cinnamon sugar (we usually mix ¼ part cinnamon with ¾ parts sugar)

Directions:
Take a piece of toast, spread on a layer of butter (thickness depends on preference), sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top, and grill for a minute or two until the butter has melted.

These two are super-easy, but very yummy! Sometimes, instead of putting cheese on the cheese bread, we’ll slice fresh tomatoes onto the mayonnaise and sprinkle some salt and pepper on top. That, too, is a delicious, easy snack!

Over to you: Do you usually have a mid-afternoon snack? What are some of your favorite snacks?