What joy the gospel gives me. I can approach the throne of God with confidence, not because I've done a good job at my spiritual duties, but because I'm clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. ~ C.J. Mahaney

Monday Morning Musings

We have a very busy week according to my day planner.

Tonya has a lucky streak going.  She won the granola! 


Praying your week is a smile-bringer!


Here's The Scoop

I've had quite a few people request instructions for how I make my granola.  My version has sort of evolved over the years.  I use a base of old-fashioned oats, add every raw nut and seed I can get my hands on, then finish it off after baking with a boat load of dried fruit. The amounts truly are flexible and you can substitute what you like or have on hand and leave out what you don't, whatever strikes your fancy.  This crunchy goodness is so delicious with a little milk or sprinkled over yogurt. 

This "recipe" makes a whole lot, so adjust down if you don't need very much.  Just warning you.   I give about half a batch away each time, so I like to make a lot.  I promise you can't mess this up unless you just bake it too long and it burns or something.  I'm going to tell you exactly how I did my last batch, so listen carefully, hear??  The ingredients are all in bold italics because I'm too lazy tired to type them all again at the end.

Into my big, ol' roasting pan I dumped a whole box of raw oatmeal.  (I buy the hearty old-fashioned variety, not the wimpy quick cooking flakes.)  To this I added 1 cup each of pecans, cashews, sunflower seeds, chopped almonds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds.  I would have added sesame seeds if I had them.  I used a cup measure just to simplify writing these instructions.  I can assure you I never measure the seeds or fruit.

OK, this part is really important, so listen up.  I use extra virgin coconut oil and honey.  This is what makes the granola taste so great.  I buy the coconut oil from Amazon because that is where I can get the best price.  As you can see I don't play games when I order coconut oil.  I get the big 54 ounce tubs of this stuff.  It's great.  It has the most delicious flavor! I highly recommend it.  For sweetener, I use honey.  I use grocery store honey rather than local raw honey for this only because it is going to be heated for a while in the oven anyway. 

Yes, that is honey dripping all over my counter while I stopped to take a photo.  That 1 cup measure is half filled with coconut oil and half filled with honey.  I dumped that over the seeds and oats in the pan.

Next I added 2 teaspoons of vanilla and five twists of the sea salt grinder.  Yes, I counted the twists just for you, friends.  (Use just a few shakes of the shaker if you don't use a grinder.)

OK, I popped that in a slow oven...around 300 degrees...for 15 minutes.  I set the timer so I wouldn't forget it.  I stirred it when the timer went off and did that again about three times.  (Truth be told,  I turned the oven off after the first stir, put the sweater on the dog, and went for a walk.  I stirred it when I got back home, turned the oven back on, and baked it another 15 minutes or so.)  I shoot for 45 minutes to an hour in the oven.  I don't like it too toasted or brown.

Next comes the fruit.

Here are the fruits that went in this batch: 1 cup of each of  dried apricots, raisins, dried cranberries, chopped dates, and coconut.  I put those in after the baking is done.  Scissors work great for cutting up the apricots, by the way.

Stir it up and put into tightly sealed containers.

Hey, I tell you what.  If you read this far, you deserve a treat.  Leave a comment here or on Facebook and I'll enter you to win a big ol' bag of my famous granola.  Here is how I'm going to do it, though.  Just put "Yum!" for your comment if you want me to enter your name.  That's all.  Don't write anything else if you want to be entered.  I want to see how many people read to the end.


 Got it?? 

I'll draw a name on Sunday night.  Yay, Tonya!!  You win again!
Good night my dear, sweet, crunchy bloggity friends.


Soft Pretzels

I'll never forget the first time I tasted a soft pretzel.  It was when I was about 10 years old, at the mall in Dayton, Ohio, at a little store front called Hot Sam.  Goodness, was it delicious!  I was an instant fan.  Since then I've occasionally treated myself and the children to an Aunt Annie's soft pretzel at the mall near us, though doing so can really take a bite out of my wallet.

It's been a while since I made soft pretzels from scratch.  The first time I made them, Ryan was little and he loved to help me in the kitchen.  After that, he would beg me to make these.

Well, now I have another kitchen helper and we pretty much find something fun to create after school each day.  Yesterday we mixed up this super simple recipe for pretzel dough, killed time for an hour or so, then rolled and baked them.  Wow.  I can't even begin to tell you how delicious they were.  You're just going to have to try them yourself.

First, you mix water, yeast, and a little sugar in a small bowl.

When that gets all foamy, you add it to the flour and other ingredients.
Mix well.

You put your trusty kitchen helper on kneading that all till smooth.  
Then cover and let rise till double.

After the dough has risen, mix 1/2 cup baking soda with 4 cups hot water.

Divide dough into 12 balls.
Roll each into a rope and twist into a pretzel shape.

Dunk in the soda water.

Sprinkle with kosher salt.  Bake at 450 for 8 minutes. 

Ours turned out rather like pretzel buns because we didn't get our ropes long enough.  Still, they were fabulous.  We brushed them with melted butter, but next time I think I'll dunk them so they're even more buttery.  I like mine dipped in mustard, because that's the way I ate my very first one, oh so many years ago.  This time, I saved half and sprinkled it with cinnamon sugar.  Delicious!

Have a beautiful day!


Sound Bites


When we arrived in China, the first thing our guide told us was this: "I have spoken to the orphanage director about your boy.  She told me he is very talkative and very active."

Can't say we weren't forewarned.

Yes, Caleb likes to talk.  And not only does he love to talk, he loves to make noise, boy sounds, if you will.  Airplane sounds.  Truck sounds.  Gun sounds.  Animal sounds.  Oh, and he sings and carries a really great tune.  On any given morning, I am awakened by one of the aforementioned sounds or a lively little tune, belted forth with great enthusiasm. 

We've never struggled to communicate with Caleb.  Most people would assume that the inability to communicate is the most difficult part of adopting an older child.  In most cases, I would agree.  Holly was also five years old when she came home.  We worked painfully to communicate with our shy, quiet little girl for many months.  Not with Caleb.  Even when he was speaking only Chinese, he managed to make his needs known and to understand our directives and explanations.  He never became frustrated or melted down.  Charades became an animated game we played, as we threw in a little Chinese for his benefit and he attempted a little English to help us along. 

Now he's made the switch to English.  Oh, it's broken English for sure.  He leaves out little words like am, is, are, was, and were.  He's holding on to a couple of Chinese words, mostly because Maggie enjoys using them.  We have some great conversations.  Often they revolve around a discussion of bad guys vs. good guys.  But that is a whole other post.

Enjoy a few sound bites from a day with Caleb.


"Maggie happy now Caleb here.  Maggie sad Caleb not here.  Now Maggie happy!!" 

He's convinced Maggie suffered a pitiful, gloomy existence before he came home.  He has no idea that she played happily by herself or with Holly in her former life. 

"I get bigger.  I drive car.  I drive fast.  Mama car slow.  I bu like it slow.  I like it fast car!!"  

I see it as my duty to warn you that you have a little less than ten years before you need to get off the road. 

"Mama, paylay me?  I wan paylay you."

He would like me to stop what I'm doing and play.  After all, I wanted a little boy!

"I bu like it agagators.  I bu like it crocodiles.  I bu like it lions.  I bu like it all bad guys.  I bu like it snakes...."

He just looks like a tough guy.  It's all an act.  If I needed to hide something, I could put it in a room, shut the door, and tell him there was a bad guy in there.  Not that I would actually do that, mind you. 

"I like it Jonfun.  He fun guy."

Pretty much self-explanatory.

"Ky-O seepy?  Ky-O seepy all time.  I bu like it Ky-O seepy."

He loves Kyle, but hates it when Kyle naps at our house because then he has to be quiet.

"Mama, I hungry.  I like it boonana.  OK I have boonana?" 

Seriously, how could I resist this face?

We "like it" Caleb.


And the Winner is....

I get so excited when it gets close to time for drawing a winner in my give-aways.  I can't ever decide..."Should I draw early in the day?  Or, should I wait until later in case someone wants to enter who hasn't seen the give-away post?" 

Then I want to make the drawing as fair as possible.  I've used names on paper before.  I've also used a random number generator.  Both should be really fair, right?  Something about a random number generator just seems less fair to me.  I mean, let's say there are thirty entries.  Why does it seem as though number one and number thirty have a lot less chance of being drawn than one of the numbers in the middle?  I don't know.  That's just the way my brain works.

So I made up little paper entries for each person.  There were a total of 26 entries this time.  As I wrote each name, I couldn't help thinking happy thoughts about that person winning...."Joy is home on furlough!  I could save by shipping to Florida and not China.  I hope she wins!"  "Leann is a new bride.  This is her first fall in her own home.  I hope she wins!"  "Ellen faithfully enters every drawing and hasn't won yet.  She and I go way back to our first babies.  Hope she wins!"  "Diane smiles and keeps plugging on through adversity.  She should win."  "Tonya ministers with her family in Botswana.  It would be fun to ship her something from the States.  I'd love to see her win."

Bottom line, I wish everyone who entered could win.  Maybe I should just cut it it up into 26 little pieces and give each of you a scrap! 

So here we go.

Names into the basket....

...lovely assistant pauses her reading to reach in and draw a name....


Tonya, you win!!

I had no idea when I wrote that yesterday that her name would actually be drawn this morning!  I've known Tonya for quite a while.  Before she moved, we used to be neighbors and attended the same church.  She is also an adoptive mom and has nearly as many young 'uns as I do.  So this little piece of stitchery will be warming her table in Botswana with a little South Carolina love, and I couldn't be happier! 

Gosh, I wonder what time it is in Botswana anyway....  

Here is a link to Tonya and Scott's blog.  You can go check out what their family is doing in Botswana to share the love of Christ with the people there.  

Have a fabulous holiday weekend.  Be sure to share it with someone you love!