Friday, February 28, 2014

Christmas in February

No - we are not reliving our Navy days.
We once celebrated Christmas and Easter within days of each other in March
because hubby was gone for Christmas and we both love the Christmas holiday.

I mentioned yesterday that hubby's work had taken us to Pigeon Forge, TN.
It really is a tourist trap.
Though the lights and activity draw me less and less, I still love to travel.
The good part about the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area is the variety of lodging options.
Enter ... The Inn at Christmas Village

Entrance complete with doormen.
Since both hubby and I love Christmas and its decorations,
when I found a Christmas-themed hotel
that was more reasonably priced than many of the normal places we stay,
I just thought I had to take a chance.

It was a great choice.
Christmas decorations EVERYWHERE.
Comfortable beds.
And a continental breakfast to beat all others ...
made to order omelets,
hot breakfast items such as potatoes, bacon, sausage, fresh carved ham,
even a cheese platter!
Definitely nice for our diet limitations.

Enjoy the tour.

 Plenty of greenery in the room - and a Christmas tree lit up.

A Glockenspiel strikes the hour
and plays carols.

A different seasonal display on each floor by the elevator.
Enjoy the scene while listening to Christmas music as played on an old disc music box.

Thursday, February 27, 2014


Hubby's job frequently takes him away for training.
This week was no exception.
At his former job, training was often in Atlanta, GA.
The new job typically takes him to Raleigh, NC.
But, this week took us to Pigeon Forge, TN.

Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg ...
A tourist trap to beat all others ...
or as we now call it ... a modern vanity fair!

When we first got married,
this would have been paradise to me ...
mini golf on every corner ...
souvenir shops galore ...
fancy dining ...

but yesterday as I walked around town,
there was emptiness in it all ...
an emptiness I was pleased to feel.

While there is still room to grow more,
I am thankful that God has worked to change my focus.
I am thankful for His patient work in my life
and thankful for the changes that are yet to come!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Serious Matter

Proverbs 22:15 
Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; 
but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

On Friday, the forum was a reminder to take the Bible literally -
to think Biblically -
to not play with sin especially in the area of pride.

The reminder fits well with today's verse.
I am not a parent,
but from the outside,
it seems that many parents are fearful to address foolishness.

It is easy to call it by other names -
childishness, immaturity, playfulness ...

God calls it foolishness
and gives the plan to follow.

The question then ...
Will you heed it?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Breathing Deeply

Though Autumn is my favorite season,
Spring has to be a close second.

The warm air that draws me outside.
The signs of new life all around.
The end of the dead looking trees and grass.
The babies at the local sheep farm.

Of course that also brings work,
but to me it is enjoyable work.
The physical labor,
the fresh air,
the pleasure of looking at a neat yard or productive garden.

we spent the afternoon trimming 2 of our 3 Bradford pear trees.
It was a blessing to have the help of friends
along with a second truck with a trailer to haul limbs.
It was 4 trips to the dump to get rid of all of the branches.

From this:

 To this:

I spent an hour cleaning up the small branches and twigs that were left behind -
Only about 4 trash cans full.
I also weeded around the front flower bed.

I turned the garden for the first time.
I usually turn it about 3 times before I plant.

the last pear tree will be trimmed Saturday,
and the garden will be started next week.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Fresh as a Daisy

In my efforts to remove some toxins from my daily routine,
deodorant was the first to be overhauled.
I have given two different recipes on the site
and actually have made a third as well.

I loved the first recipe
it worked great,
but it irritated my skin.

The second caused irritation as well 
and did not work as well.

The third caused no irritation,
but was weak - 
no sense of confidence with this product.

Recently I read that I could use straight tea tree oil.
Well, wouldn't that be easy!

Both hubby and I have used it for a week now,
and ...
it is our favorite yet.
Easy to use.
No mess.
VERY effective.
(I did an 18 hour test including yard work and still smelled good)

So -
if you are interested in the easy recipe.
Just head to Wally World and pick up some Tea Tree in the vitamin aisle.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Friday Forum: Pride

So here is the thought, or question:

Is all pride bad?

The Bible would seem to suggest it.


what about
pride in a job well done,
pride in your children...
You know ... "I am SO proud of you."

What do you think?

Is it a matter of semantics?
Should we just change the wording?

Is "good" pride just a pleasure in good work?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Look What Was In My Mailbox

More happy dances at Trailer 2!

The seed packets came today -
we had spring like temps today.

Now if it just dries out a bit ... we can have some action in the garden!

I am thankful for the promise of spring
and the therapeutic nature of my garden.
I am thankful for the healthy food that the garden affords.
I am thankful for a plot of land that has had a year to rest.
I am thankful for some tips to keep the bugs away - 
I am trying to grow borage this year as a natural repellent.
I am thankful for the physical exercise that the garden gives me.
I am thankful for the sun that I will enjoy.
I am thankful for the together time that it provides with hubby.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

To Train

Proverbs 22:6 
Train up a child in the way he should go: 
and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

to train:

to develop or form the habits, thoughts, or behavior of by discipline and instruction: 

to make proficient by instruction and practice

to make fit by proper exercise, diet, practice, etc.

to catechize

During these days of the winter Olympics,
it is easy to see the value of good training.
Oh, the sacrifice for one event,
for one year,
for even one second.

There is such dedication in the world-class athlete.
It is easy to lose that focus in training a child,
and yet, what a necessity it is.

Thoughts, actions, dress, words, character, 
health, helpfulness, discipline ...
the endless list of things that must be trained.

It is not "the path of least resistance"
but rather "the road less traveled by."

It is work.
But the reward is more than just a gold medal and a moment in the spotlight.
Don't lose heart, dear mother or father.
It is work that counts for eternity.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Look Up

Psalm 121:1-2
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, 
from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the LORD, 
which made heaven and earth.

How can you not be encouraged by a verse like that!

Monday, February 17, 2014

12 Years of Donuts

It is February 17th and in grand Bickish tradition,
we celebrate Donut Day.
We began our day with cinnamon donuts that I had tucked away in the freezer from a Christmas gift.
We also enjoyed a cup of Teeccino - my coffee substitute.
I also made a half of a recipe of our favorite protein smoothie to hold hubby over until snack time.
It is always special to remember our first date, now 12 years ago.
The donuts aren't near as special as they were at that little Italian bakery,
but the remembrance is just as sweet!

Life continues to teach us many things.
On Friday, after taking hubby his valentine lunch,
we went to a 7-11 for a coffee.
Just a decaf coffee with some amaretto cream.
It sure was good.

I was very moody on Friday night.
And then on Saturday,
exhaustion and more tears when I awoke.
I felt "glutened"!
But I had cooked all of our meals,
and there are very few "oopsies" at home anymore.
It must have been the creamer, right?

Alas, the creamer was gluten free.
The coffee?
Does coffee have gluten?
No, coffee is gluten free,
but I have since found out that there is a protein in coffee 
that many gluten sensitive people react to just like gluten.
I think that I am past the reaction now.
Maybe another detox brew this morning for good measure.

This weeks menu plan:
Monday:  Deer Tenderloin
Tuesday:  Clam Chowder
Wednesday:  Vegetable Frittata
Thursday:  Creamy Vegetable Beef Soup
Friday:  Balsamic Chicken
Saturday:  Roast Beef Au Jus / Chili
Sunday:  Hoppin John

Friday, February 14, 2014

Friday Forum: To Celebrate or Not to Celebrate

It's Valentine's Day!
I think that it is my favorite holiday.
It celebrates love.
It falls in the week between the anniversary of the day I met my hubby and the anniversary of our first date.

The valentines were sent off to the quickly growing "little" people in my life.

I really do not care about receiving a valentine or a gift.
I simply want to express my love to my darling and to have time with him.
I actually cringe to think of the hiked up prices on flowers,
or the need to find a place for another stuffed animal.

I married a sweetie who is thoughtful and practical.
Hubby bought me two 1 gallon sprayers for my garden.
Can you see me do a happy dance?
No more crawling around with a cleaning spray bottle.
One sprayer for homemade weed spray.
One sprayer for "bad bunny" spray (hot sauce and water)

I took hubby a special valentine lunch at work.
Heart shaped hot pockets ...

Tossed salad with heart shaped carrots ...
peanut butter cookies.

Special chicken dinner tonight.

Hubby snuck me a Valentine.
We typically choose them in the card aisle ... exchange them ... and then put them back.
(I also cringe at the cost of greeting cards)

Do you celebrate the day?
or is it a just a Hallmark Holiday that you choose to ignore?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Fresh and Clean

I am thankful that the weather predicted finally arrived ... 
a wonderful, clean, fresh blanket of snow.
It is absolutely beautiful.  

I am also thankful that in the sleet and freezing rain,
we did not lose power last night.

I am also thankful that in our new home,
our heat actually cycles ...
which means that I am not heating the outdoors as much as we used to.

I am thankful that hubby got to come home early yesterday
and had today off as well.
I also have the afternoon off from teaching lessons.

I am thankful to be able to stay put while we wait for the sun to clear the roads.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Anticipation II

I can't help but be tickled by our anticipation of a winter storm.
Weekly, my family in the north deals with snow in large quantities - 
Can you say "lake effect snows?"

The snow did not materialize yesterday,
but it has started again in the last 1/2 hour.
The forecast says up to 11 inches.
I will believe it when I see it :)
And if we have 11 inches,
I think that I will have to build a snow man!
and I think that you can imagine what I will be thankful for tomorrow on Thankful Thursday.

I am glad that they make the storms into events though,
we just don't have the trucks and road treatment to make travel safe.


Proverbs 22:3 
A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: 
but the simple pass on, and are punished.

"A prudent wife is from the Lord."
Whenever I see the word "prudent," I sit up and take notice.
I want to learn how to be prudent.

Today's Proverb is one of those verses.
A prudent person anticipates trouble and then AVOIDS it.
I think that most women can predict results in a situation - 
the prudence comes from doing the right thing after discerning trouble ahead.
The Proverb says that the prudent will hide ...
... not just stand to the side as a bystander ...
... not on the outside so as to get away when the trouble starts ...

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Odd Year

Only 4 days until the target garden date ...
and I am watching the snow fall :)

At our new home,
the garden plot is in a lot of shade still,
so the target date was moved to March 1 anyway.

I am watching the snow fall
and using an online planning tool to plan my garden.
Then it is time to order the seeds!

after the fun of thinking about spring ...
I need to clean cupboards and the freezer.


Perfection is not attainable,
but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.
- Vince Lombardi

Keep striving today!

Monday, February 10, 2014


Well, the "baking blitz" from Saturday went off without a hitch.
I started mixing batter at 10:45.
The first batch went in the oven at 11:30.
The last batch came out about 2:00.
They were delivered by 3:00.
Then I prepped myself for the wedding and duties there.
I was thankful for a loaner muffin tin so that I could have 2 dozen in the over,
while another 2 were being prepared.
I was thankful that none of the muffins burned.
I was also thankful that God saw fit to have us sit at a table with a teenage celiac.
As we talked about the muffins, her ears perked up at the mention of gluten free cornmeal;
and I was able to assure her that they were indeed gluten free - 
she promptly returned to the buffet to sample one for herself.

155 corn muffins
I think that the favorite recipe of the week was Coriander-Crusted Salmon.
I think it may just be the sentimentality and reminder of our 4 years in Seattle where Salmon is a staple,
but it was a good recipe as well!

Coriander-Crusted Salmon

3 Tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
6 salmon fillets, thawed and patted dry
2 Tbsp olive oil

Rub fish with spices.
Cook three-four minutes per side in oiled skillet over Med-High heat.

This week's menu plan:
Monday: Ham
Tuesday: Minnestrone
Wednesday: Quinoa Salad
Thursday:  Ginger-Orange Pork
Friday: Garlic Chicken with cumin roasted sweet potatoes and carrots
(Don't Forget it is Valentine's Day)
Saturday: Ginger Orange Pork Wraps

Church Dinner this coming week:
I think that in the spirit of Valentine's Day,
chocolate covered strawberries sound good ...
... and an attempt at caramel covered berries for the non-chocolate eaters!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Baking Blitz

I mentioned earlier in the week that we are attending a wedding tonight.
It is in a beautiful college chapel,
and I am imagining with a 6:00 pm start time that it will be candlelight.

I did not mention that I am baking for the reception dinner.
144 + corn muffins!
Since we have food allergies,
I am making them gluten and dairy free.
But, if you know anything about gluten free baking,
it is typically best to serve it fresh ...
so they will all be made today.

The dry ingredients have been ready since Wednesday.
- 7 double batches -

Time to add the wet and get baking!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Friday Forum: Life Verse

This is an odd topic for me.
My "life" verse seems to change with the seasons of life.
Does that happen for you as well?

One of my longtime favorites has been ...

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.

Recently, I find myself leaning on these verses ...

Luke 1:37 
For with God nothing shall be impossible.

Jeremiah 32:17 
Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth 
by thy great power and stretched out arm, 
and there is nothing too hard for thee:

How about you?
Do you have a favorite verse?
Feel free to share.
Your verse may encourage me too,
or another reader for that matter!

99 cent sticker from Walmart on some scrap wood hung with ribbon -
a good reminder in one of the guest rooms

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Awake with the Sun

Don't you just love the feeling in the summer
when you wake with the sun instead of an alarm clock.
You feel energized, rested, and ready to start the day.
  It is hard to start the day on the right foot during the winter months.
Enter my Thursday Thanks ...

 As I continue to look for natural ways to lessen stress on my body,
I was led to a new alarm clock.
It is bizarre looking,
but it has definitely reduced stress
and increased productivity.
A dim light comes on 30 minutes before wake time
and gradually brightens like a sunrise.
Of course, if you are like me,
though your body may be waking internally,
I need the chirping birds to wake me completely on schedule.
Peaceful mornings ...
extra energy ...
We have successfully backed wake-up time from 5:30 to 4:30 on most days.

I am so thankful for natural healing and strength.
For the longer mornings,
and for the dimming light and "frogs" that also put me to sleep at night.
God has been gracious to give us new information regularly to help improve our health.
Hubby's dark circles are gone,
and I am waking up and starting my day on time.

I am also thankful for a wedding this weekend.
Our dear friend Sam is getting married and we are so excited for Him.
God's plan for a mate included a childhood friend,
but he had to wait 30 years past their first acquaintance for God's perfect timing.

After the success of the last church gift,
the church wanted to give another monetary gift in a unique and memorable way.
The result:

Framed origami money ...

Our pastor's wife folded all of the bills,
and I organized the final product.
I just love the heart shapes, (notice that some denominations have a pink hue)

but the shirt and tie is really unique.

The background includes the couple's names,
wedding date,
and a verse to commemorate the wedding date
2/8 ... Psalm 2:8.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

What's In A Name?

Proverbs 22:1 
A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches,
and loving favour rather than silver and gold.
What are you working for?
Is it riches?
Is it notoriety?
Is it fame?
Do you spend too much time seeking another dollar for the budget?
Are you dissatisfied with what God has provided?
 The writer of Proverbs reminds me of my priorities.
He reminds of the value of a good reputation.
How are you regarded?
What is the reaction when your name is mentioned?\
Do you neglect others to save a dollar?
Do you shy from ministry because it might cost to much?
How do you get a good name?
Follow the Lord and His Word.
Live the life that He desires for you.
Nothing can "stick" to you if you are doing right.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Repeated Actions

We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence, therefore,
is not an act but a habit."

Still thinking about righteous consistency ...
I think that this could also define character.
It must become who I am, what defines me.
What is my character?
What do people see consistently in my words, actions, and thoughts?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Meal with the "Wow" Factor

It was an absolutely gorgeous day today in NC.
It began with rain, 
but then ...
clear skies,
and warm temps.
I opened the house completely and aired the trailer out.
I washed a car.
I walked with a friend.
Just a beautiful day.
Hard to believe that they are predicting freezing rain and snow again
for the coming weekend.

The menu plan presented many delights last week.
We were pleasantly surprised by the Turkey Sweet Potato Chili,
but it was the Chicken Piccata that had the real "Wow" factor.
We enjoy the splurge of the capers - delicious!
I cooked brussels sprouts for the first time this week
and lima beans for the second time (they are becoming a favorite).

Chicken Piccata

6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/4 c cornstarch
4 Tbsp butter, divided
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 c chicken broth
Juice of 2 lemons
1/4 c capers, rinsed
2 Tbsp chopped parsley

Season chicken with salt and pepper.
Dredge chicken in cornstarch.
Melt 2 Tbsp of butter and oil in skillet over med-high heat.
Add chicken; cook until browned. (about 3 min per side) 
Remove chicken.
Add broth, juice, and capers to same pan.
Bring to boil.
Return chicken to skillet, simmer until cooked through (about 5 more minutes).
Transfer chicken to plate.
Whisk 2 Tbsp butter into sauce and heat.
Pour sauce over chicken.

This weeks menu plan:
Monday: Pork Fried Rice
Tuesday: Coriander Crusted Salmon
Wednesday: Cheesy Stuffed Potatoes
Thursday: Cabbage Rolls
Friday: Skillet Flank Steak