Monday, March 31, 2014

I believe there may be a law of Nature that states that whenever you have a serious banana bread craving, you will not have any super-ripe bananas, and any bananas to be found in the grocery store will be in shades of green varying from grass green to pea green and not one will be even remotely brown-speckled. So you will buy them under-ripe and set them on your counter, and then just as they are about to turn nice and ripe and spotty, your husband will eat them with peanut butter because you have been so focused on baking banana bread that you haven’t stocked the house with anything to eat for lunch. Cruel, cruel Nature. ~ Emily Vikre,
I just had to copy and paste this quote in an email to the preacher this morning, for he is this very husband who scopes out and eats the bananas that have been especially hidden away for the banana bread purpose. Excellent man that he is, he just can not stand to see food go "bad".

I have not been able to convince him that there is no such thing as a bad banana, unless it is a green one.

A few minutes later, noting four perfect banana-bread bananas in the fruit basket, I asked him if he had already eaten his daily breakfast banana today. He answered in the affirmative, and that was the end of the conversation, but I should have been listening for his unspoken, "And I can't wait to eat that banana bread that you are going to bake with the rest of them!"

But I wasn't. If I had been listening to his yearnings, I could have saved him a profound disappointment.  Instead, I was focused on Emily Vikre's recipe for Espresso Banana Bread, and I proceeded to smash up those last four perfectly spotted nanners. I changed up the recipe a bit, since I didn't have espresso granules, and because I thought 1/4 cup of sugar was just waaay too little sugar for banana bread. I used instant coffee and doubled the sugar, then subbed the sour cream with kefir. And I added 1/2 cup of chocolate chips, because. (Do I need a reason to add chocolate??) AND, since I was too impatient to wait two hours for a loaf of bread to come out of the oven and cool, too, I made muffins instead.

The muffins turned out beautifully: nicely risen, a little bit cakey, and perfectly sweet and moist, with that wonderful heaven-made taste combination of chocolate and banana.  But the instant coffee didn't cut it.  There is not one trace of coffee flavor in those muffins!

Now, the preacher absolutely hates anything to do with coffee -- the smell, the taste, and most especially the resulting poisonous breath of the one who has consumed it. (That would be me. He doesn't get close enough to anyone else to smell their breath.) So when the muffins were cooling nicely on the rack and Pastor J. came in to the kitchen to "test" the finished product (as if he doesn't know what banana muffins taste like), I felt I ought to warn him that it contained coffee. 

And that is how I discovered a no-fail method for keeping the preacher out of the baked goods or anything else that comes out of the kitchen:  "Oh Honey, I added a bit of coffee to that."

To be fair, I did assure him that he would not be able to taste it, not one tiny little bit. 

But the word "coffee" did it. The poor man was so disappointed.  I did try to convince him that those muffins were really good anyway, but he wasn't buying it.

And so there were enough of them to take a half dozen to our piano teacher this afternoon.

Who ever heard of a Swede not liking coffee??

Oh.  And the green-bananas-when-you-have-a-banana-bread-craving problem is easily solved.  See Jillee's quick banana ripening method.  It works!


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Who would think, from this photo taken today, that April is just three days away??  Things are not always what they seem. :)
The younger girls enjoyed a nice walk/plod through the snow this afternoon with their dad. 
I should have gone along, too, but I was plodding thru curriculum ideas for next year's homeschool co-op. That was as taxing on my brain as this walk was for their bodies! I am cringing at the idea of Betz taking on biology or chemistry. Not that she couldn't handle it. Betz is my kid who likes to have all her ducks in a row: goals, checklists, records, map of high school plans made out, transcript. Eeek! I'll do my best to help you, Betsy. 
Pray for me.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Would you respect your pastor if he lived the way you do?

Remember them which have the rule over you, 
who have spoken unto you the word of God: 
whose faith follow, 
considering the end of their conversation.
Hebrews 11:7

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

I keep hearing griping about more cold weather, and where's spring, and we're so sick of snow... But really, when did spring ever come in March in central Mn?  Today looks like this. Again. Of course. What do we expect in mid March?

Not a blade of grass or a piece of asphalt in site. And a LOT more white stuff on the way. So we are making the best of it!

Unfortunately for us, we aren't the only ones with this great idea, but we don't own the pool. In the old days we probably would have left when the half naked guy got in, or we might have avoided a rather public pool in the first place. (We're at the single motel in town. It's $5! per person to use the pool, which is why we've never done this before, and also one of the reasons I am not in the water. When I was a kid, it cost 25¢ to go swimming, and that was so cheap that we could go every day. Am I  that old??)

So as I was saying, we prefer modesty, but of course you can't impose your personal standards on the public. And this has become a problem recently because of our inconsistency. Sigh. It would be really easy to convince ourselves that God doesn't care what we wear or what we see, but there's that Bible that tells us differently. And really, we're better off doing things his way.  After all, who loves us more than Jesus Christ does? No one. 

It should be really easy to resolve this...

Sunday, March 16, 2014

We have not had a whole lot of creativity going on for some time. Suddenly this afternoon a creativity bomb went off in my house, and wow! What fun!
Emily made a bendy family:
I don't know WHERE she ever got the idea to have the mom and dad kissing...*wink*

Betz got out the oil pastels and artified her own Phineas and Ferb and Isabella. Whoever they are. I know, they are from a cartoon. And I hope it's okay, because my kids watch it, but I've never even seen it. (Tell me if it isn't.)

Amy bought a Spirograph this afternoon, something to entertain her Other Johnson kids with. I had one of those things when I was about ten years old! 
And my own creative contribution to this creative Sunday was the pot of beautiful roasted veggies we enjoyed for dinner today. I love colorful food! And was it ever delicious! Chop up root veggies, toss with olive oil, sprinkle on some rosemary and coarse sea salt, roast at 375 til done. Put under broiler for a minute or two for a bit more color. Oh, and add a few pieces of sausage, too. :)  God's so good to give us stuff like this and not make us eat out all the time. lol. All that restaurant food tastes the same. But no, I wouldn't turn down an invitation to go out and get a night off from the kitchen. :)
Not my photo.  My veggies had bright pink beet juice all over them. :)

The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season.
Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing. 
Psalm 145:15,16

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Regarding Emily being the hands-on kid, here's a case in point:  
Em saw this on Pinterest and thought we needed to try it.  Right now.  A candle is made from a Cutie peel.  I was a bit concerned the olive oil in the "cup" would catch fire, so it was not allowed to burn long.  Fire experiments are very stressful in my house, since we have one daughter who is certain the entire place will burn down when we light matches.  Hence the metal baking sheet, and the adult-only lighting of the Cutie "wick".  This would have been neat if we had done it at night and turned out the lights.  I'm pretty sure the fire would glow thru the skin.

So.  That was fun.  What's next?

Saturday, March 8, 2014

I miss blogging. The other day I was reading old entries, and I am really thankful to have those memories written down somewhere. Because if I don't write them down, and sometimes even if I do, I don't remember anything.  Like this morning.  My dear husband told me this morning that he loves me more today than ever before.  I said something sweet back to him, but already I don't remember what it was... I think a brain-eating virus got me, and it is at work in there...  So all the memorable things that have happened in the past year or two, the ones I never recorded here -- they're gone.  I am going to have to keep Betz around forever to be my brain.  She remembers everything.

The above photo is not Minnesota. Minnesota looks like this:
But it's okay, we're expecting above freezing temps all this coming week. We are excited to see the beginning of the melt. Maybe by July we will be able to plant the garden! That other photo is California. The girls and I went to see my parents for a few days. I cherish these times with them, late in their lives, when they are both still healthy and active. Wish we could be there a lot more.  Especially in the winter. *grin*

Where does one begin (or continue) when one has neglected her blog and virtual friends for months on end?  With a summary:

Alison, my favorite daughter, is still at Culver's and is now store trainer and prep cook. She has some 20 violin students. She wants to buy a car, or at least have unlimited use of one of ours. :) Life does get complicated when four or five people all have to be somewhere at the same time.

Amy spends more time with her "kids" than she does at home. She is constantly Instagram-ing herself with various combinations of children. Like this:
I've heard this referred to as being "selfie-ish", but at least Amy shares her selfies with other faces. She will be done with school this semester, and then she plans to spend even more time with her kids. She'll add hours as a mom's helper with her three families and more hours as PCA to her sweet little apraxia girl. And spend even less time at home. :(  Good thing we're going to family camp this summer so I can get her for a week. Amy's my favorite, too. Wait. Who am I kidding? We never see our kids at family camp!

Betsy has probably changed the most. She's my favorite. While our homeschool co-op has been a huge challenge for her, Betz has risen to the occasion and met that challenge! She has grown in confidence and maturity. She expects a lot out of herself. She is a good, analytical thinker. And she has made herself indispensable at our local nursing home, serving coffee, delivering mail, leather crafting with the residents, decorating, doing paperwork, etc. Betz is in line for the activities director's job but, sadly for her, she can't be put on the payroll for a couple of years yet.

And Emily. Emily is currently taking piano lessons and doing super duper. I think she has caught up with me now. Ever the hands-on kid, Em always has a project or a book or a pile of papers or a ball of yarn with crochet hook or a bowl of batter somewhere.  (We need a craft room.) Today we have a messy pile of Popsicle sticks and glue and such, for the construction of a doll house and some mini Adirondack chairs. The other day it was a bendy doll.  Tonight it was donuts. This girl won't be lacking for how-to knowledge! My other favorite, Em has a special place in my heart.

So. Can you tell who takes all the photos around here with her iPod?  Yes, it's Amy. This is why it's hard to blog any more.  I had to have her email all these photos to me. Perhaps I'll get my own old-fangled camera out and re-inspire myself to write again.

The man of the house is still a crazy cyclist, riding on studded tires in the icy cold and loving it. He is faithfully plugging away at our little church plant.  We were thrilled to add our first member last summer, and now we are about to add two more. Praise God!! It's a slow work, but by the grace of God and by his leading, it will be a permanent one! May marks our third year. The girls have been so good about being the only young people at church, and I know they would LOVE to have like-minded friends to fellowship with. But God knows what they need, at this time and always. He knows the value of being able to confidently stand alone, and he knows the value of us trusting Jesus Christ intimately when he's the only (and dearest) friend we have. These are things I desire our girls would come to know, though it may require time and hindsight to see it clearly.

The Pastor here did a temp job for a few months at a local wire harness factory. It was his worst job ever, but he did it. Without complaining. And he got up very early in the frigid cold and walked home sometimes, and tolerated cursing and vile conversation and brainless, druggie co-workers, and double standards, and then he found out he couldn't afford to be offered a permanent position with the company! To accept their health care plan would have meant he'd be working for $4.10 per hour. Truth. Ridiculous truth! Now the man is hoping to help his brother haul cars. He has his self-promoting sales proposal all ready to present to his new partner, and if Brother agrees to the deal we'll be praising and thanking God for the blessing.

Me, I'm actually doing a pretty good job, I think, teaching my 3rd and 4th graders at co-op. My comfort zone expanded a teeny bit. It has been a totally stretching experience for me, a very good thing for me at age 50. Oh, 50. Everything changed when I turned 50. I am not liking the "new" old person I see in the mirror, but soon enough I'll have a new body and everything will be okay. (And I won't be vain any more, so it won't even matter! If that isn't the ultimate irony.) God is good.

Behold, I shew you a mystery;
We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump:
for the trumpet shall sound,
and the dead shall be raised incorruptible,
and we shall be changed.
1 Corinthians 15:51,52

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