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Thursday, April 30, 2020

"The Prairie Spring Waltz" - Southern Raised

Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And ’tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.

The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure:—
But the least motion which they made
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.

- William Wadsworth, excerpt from "Lines Written In Early Spring"

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Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Chocolate Chip Cookies

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

In a medium bowl, mix together:

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
In a large bowl, mix together:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
1 12-oz bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips (sometimes I add more than this :-))
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375F.

Mix the "wet" ingredients together until everything is moistened, then add in the flour. Mix everything together until well-combined (I've only done this by hand with a big fork, but I suppose you could use one of those big mixers if you don't like mixing stuff by hand. I can't promise the results will be the same though!)

Drop by level tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 375 for 9-11 minutes.

Thanks to Elisabeth M. of Texas


The sugar has not been reduced in this recipe, so feel free to make adjustments if you wish.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Good Reads for Bad Times

This has been a rough year. My own family has been through a lot - in addition to the coronavirus stuff and the lock-down. Sometimes I find I need to read things that are more uplifting and encouraging for awhile and avoid anything that is too dramatic, too intense or too morbid. Here are a few books (and some poems) that can be helpful for those times.

For family reading:

The Sugar Creek Gang books by Paul Hutchins.

These books are Christian fiction geared towards kids. We recommend the books prior to the 1990's editions because they made some changes in the books later that weren't great. (Why update a good thing?) Plus the older books give a look into how people used to live in mid-western rural American farm country. There are lots of details of life that are now forgotten or little known.

The stories follow the adventures of the Sugar Creek Gang - a group of boys who live in rural Indiana. The adventures are varied and interesting from catching crooks to going on vacations in the north woods, visiting a missionary in Cuba, snowstorms, and visiting Chicago. They include a lot of roaming around in the woods, learning to be responsible, doing their chores faithfully, learning people relationship skills, and working towards the goal of seeing various people become real, born again Christians. There is also an emphasis on growing in the Christian walk throughout the books. There is a lot of humor as well as some difficult lessons. These books are bit exciting for some kids, but enjoyable for the adults reading them out loud as well. I always like the parents of Bill Collins (the storyteller character) in these stories because they seem like people I would like to have for friends of my own. :-) There are some books that deal with some more sensitive subjects - the destructive aspects of alcohol consumption and the use of bad language are repeating themes that I recall, but some other things are addressed as well.

Here's a website about the series.
For the older editions I recommend looking on AbeBooks and Ebay. Possibly Amazon as well.

The Grandma's Attic books by Arleta Richardson.

These are Christian fiction based on true stories. These stories take place in Michigan back in the old days and follow the adventures of Mable O'Dell from her childhood into adulthood, marriage, and motherhood. The first books in the series have stand alone chapters - each one being a separate story with the biblical lesson given from "Grandma" (Mable herself). These books are fun and there is a lot of humor from the real life stories and events. Some stories are also more serious or heartwarming. Part way through the series the format changes to each book being a continuous story with a plot. These later books follow Mable through her later education and teaching years and then into marriage and motherhood.

These books can be enjoyed by adults and children alike. I took the first book and read some of the stories to my mom when she was staying in the rehad hospital and memory care facility in the last weeks of her life because the stories were interesting and only one short chapter long, so she could follow them. She really seemed to enjoy them a lot. :-) (She had read them to us when we were younger.) My husband also read some of them out loud to me during our pre-marriage months when I was sick and not able to do much. :-)

These books will probably also have to be purchased second hand either online or locally.

The Jungle Doctor books by Paul White

These books are Christian fiction based on true stories. These stories take you back to British East Africa to a hospital in Tanganyika (now Tanzania) and follow the adventures of a missionary doctor and his African assistants. (There is an English nurse - called a "sister" - as well, but she doesn't figure as much in the stories.) These books give a great insight into the thinking of the African people in that place and time. There is drama, humor, and a lot of encouragement and adventure. The biblical lessons are very clear. The books can be enjoyed by children and adults and the books do not have to be read in order, although there is an order to them. (A more recent publication of these books has them out of order, which was a puzzle to me.)

Note: Some difficult subjects are sometimes dealt with. Also there are medical situations that may be a bit much for squeamish people. :-) There are also Bible quotes that are translated from the local African language back into English or perhaps come from the RSV. Look them up in your King James Version if you would like.

These books are sometimes available on Amazon, but can also be purchased second hand online. I do not know if the more recently published editions have been altered.

And here are a few fiction stories that are just fun or sweet without being Christian.

The Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

I doubt that I need to say much about these to explain them because they are so well known, but these books follow the adventures of the Ingalls family as they moved around in the United States frontier in the early days. They are fiction based on a true story and, while they have a fair bit of struggle, they are also inspiring for learning to live through hardships and survive.


For adults and young adults:

Then I will recommend two fiction books by Grace S. Richmond. These books were written years ago and have a winsome vintage quality that I personally find to be gentle and enjoyable.

Strawberry Acres - [Spoiler Alert] Follows the adventures of a family of four young adult orphans and their uncle as they shift from city life to country life. This book has it's humor and a little romance, but I think it is also good to encourage you to get out and dig in the dirt and grow things, which is a good way to cheer up in and of itself. :-) It's also a good reminder to make the best of a difficult situation and not assume that something that looks bad can't be turned to something useful.

A Court of Inquiry - This book follows four adults through their relationships with various young ladies in a country boardinghouse. It initially presents various types of young women for the consideration of the reader. Then later it shows where these various young women end up as married women. It is a humorous commentary on human nature - especially young female human nature. Obviously it is from a by-gone era, but it still has its charms and is applicable to modern young women in some ways. :-) This book has an element of romance as well, but it is not exactly the main story.

These books can be enjoyed by young people as well as adults. They have been reprinted and are for sale on Amazon (or at least one is), or you can find them free in various ebook formats or to read online at gutenberg.org

Strawberry Acres
A Court of Inquiry


Last but not least, I recommend the poems of Annie Johnson Flint for encouragement and edification in the truth of the Lord. These poems have been a great help to me during various dark times of my own life. Miss Flint experienced some very difficult things in her own life, and God helped her to pass on the comfort and courage He gave her to us in the form of poetry.

The Poem of Annie Johnson Flint

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Evening Song - There's Room At the Cross for You

Revelation 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. 

Matthew 11:28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. 

John 3:14-17 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Letters to My Friend - Strength In Trials

I have written another letter, this one again about my mother. I hope it is a help to you. I apologize that I didn't get this up on Sunday. This past weekend was a difficult one for a couple of reasons.

Dear Friend,

Well, here we are in the midst of the COVID 19 crisis. Regardless of your opinion on the subject, it's impossible to deny that there is a crisis in many countries because of it. I've seen so many things - good, bad, and indifferent - written and posted about it. People encouraging others in many ways. Churches stepping up and doing things new and strange to them, but which obviously needed to be done because...well, here we are, and God is forcing us to do them. People lamenting the loneliness, the stress, the cabin fever (as we call it in some parts). People trying hard to follow guidelines, people half-heartedly obeying the rules, and people cavalierly doing as they jolly well please. People sick and some dying. Questions, questions, questions. Very few answers that seem to be absolutely unquestionable truth. So much to say. So much to complain about. Some with much to do. Some with nothing to do. All can pray, if we will. And we can read God's word.

So many things I could write about. But something is pressing upon my mind that at first might seem unrelated.

Continue Reading.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Just for Fun - Mostly Useless Trivia about the 50 States

1. Alabama - The Confederate flag was designed and first flown in Alabama in 1861.

2.  Alaska - 17 of the 20 highest peaks in the United States are located in Alaska.

3. Arizona - The original London Bridge was shipped stone-by-stone and reconstructed in Lake Havasu City.

4. Arkansas - Pine Bluff is known as the world center of archery bow production.

5. California - One out of every eight United States residents lives in California.

6. Colorado - The United States federal government owns more than 1/3 of the land in Colorado.

Continue Reading.


Painting by T. C. Steele

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Evening Song - God's So Good

Psalm 52:1 Why boastest thou thyself in mischief, O mighty man? the goodness of God endureth continually. 

Psalm 145:9 The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works. 

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Thursday, April 16, 2020

Just for Fun - "Simon's Cat - Double Trouble"

This is a relatively accurate representation of cats learning to live in the same house. :-)

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Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Lil Hunsaker's White Beans

Lil Hunsaker's White Beans

From my dad, Steve Van Nattan who spent years tuning pianos. He got some great food from his customers sometimes: "I found this exceptional bean soup at a customer's home in Tubac, Arizona."

  • White Northern beans or lima beans (In the words of Country Bevins, "Them greezy Michigan beans")
  • Red Onion
  • Garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • Lemon Juice
  • Salt and Pepper  
  • Cilantro
  • Parsley

Cook the beans as you usually would. For a clear soup broth, cook beans and drain before adding water, onion, garlic, oil, lemon, and salt. If you drain off the first water, save it for later use since it is full of food value. For a clear broth, clear beef broth could be used to add flavor. After the top six ingredients are cooked and ready to eat, shred the cilantro and parsley into the soup and serve.

For the chili lovers, red pepper could be shaken on, or a few drops of Tabasco added. Habanero in moderation would also add a real special touch to this dish.

A garnish of the cilantro, parsley, as well as green onion tops could be served in a side dish to be added at the table.

Editor's Note: Cilantro is already growing in the southern parts of the US at this time of year. In areas with more winter it won't be long before you can plant it. Fresh cilantro is one of my favorite herbs. :-)

Sunday, April 12, 2020

The Heart's Center - A Poem

As we remember and rejoice in the great victory Jesus Christ won over sin and death and hell, let us consider the response that this astonishing fact should call forth in us in our daily lives.

The Heart's Center 
by Albert Midlane

Think well of Christ, beloved saint,
That worthy, precious One,
Who fills the Father's heart, as there
He sits upon the throne.
Deem moments wasted, when the mind
Is fixed on aught beside;
He claims thy heart--with nothing less
Will He be satisfied.

Continue Reading.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Evening Song - Jesus Paid It All

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 

Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. 

Hebrews 7:24-25 But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

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Thursday, April 9, 2020

Visiting the Michigan Woods In Spring

Trillium photo property of "Plants Amaze Me."

Michigan is my home state and it is the state my mother considered her home state in the U.S, although she was born in Tanzania, East Africa. Western Michigan, where we lived at various times, is a beautiful place. This blog offers some occasional walks in the woods there. Enjoy!

Aman Park in Ottawa County, Michigan - May 7 2019

Dowagiac Woods April 8 2019

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Crock Pot Ruben Sandwich Filling

I had this years and years ago and it was really good. With more healthy versions of some of these ingredients available today, it would be possible to make this with organic ingredients or something similar. Also, this would probably be really good served with a savory version of Irish Soda Bread.

Ruben Sandwiches

1 Cup Thousand  Island salad dressing
1 Cup Sauer Kraut
1  12 ounce can corned beef (drained)
10 ounces grated Swiss cheese (or cheese of your choice)
Cook on high or medium in a crock pot 2 hours or more.
Serve on rye bread or potatoes (mashed, baked or boiled).

-- Thanks to Denise of South Dakota

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Guest Post: Truth or Fact?

Today I am sharing a short, but cheering, thought related to the power of the resurrection and the Lord's ability to change facts with His truth. This item is posted at The Home Maker's Corner. It is written by my brother, Dan, and used with his permission.

Truth or Fact?

Are these two things mutual? Immutable in their connectivity? From a humanistic perspective, we would ascertain that they are indeed always linked. From that humanist perspective we therefore tend to stray quickly into the realm of unbelief.

Here is an example of Truth not being equitable to "fact" which I would like you to ponder on.

Continue Reading Here.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Evening Song - From Every Stormy Wind that Blows

At this time when people are perhaps praying more than usual, and as we deal with being parted from our usual fellowship in many places, this song seems especially comforting.

Hebrews 4:14-16 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. 

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From ev'ry stormy wind that blows,
from ev'ry swelling tide of woes,
there is a calm, a sure retreat;
'tis found beneath the mercy seat.

There is a place where Jesus sheds
the oil of gladness on our heads,
a place than all besides more sweet;
it is the blood-stained mercy seat.

There is a spot where spirits blend,
where friend holds fellowship with friend,
tho' sundered far; by faith they meet
around the common mercy seat.

Ah, whither could we flee for aid,
when tempted, desolate, dismayed,
or how the hosts of hell defeat,
had suff'ring saints no mercy seat?

There, there on eagle wings we soar,
and time and sense seem all no more,
and heav'n comes down our souls to greet,
and glory crowns the mercy seat.