Just Picking Cotton

My family had a unique opportunity to visit a cotton farm yesterday. My husband is a member of a antique tractor club. As part of the club, we were invited to the farm to pick cotton by hand and then watch a demonstration of both an antique and modern-day cotton picker machines. The day also included a hay ride and yummy lunch.

I really enjoyed a bit of testimony given by the farm’s owner. I hope he can forgive me if I don’t remember his words exactly. He gathered everyone around a hay wagon and said he had something he wanted to say. He told us how he was admiring God’s creation of nature as he saw the cotton field in full bloom. He said the Lord revealed to him how a cotton plant could portray the Gospel. The white cotton bloom represents purity of Christ. The bloom then turns purple which reminded him of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The bloom then dies just as Christ did on the cross for our sins. The resulting cotton boll bursts forth just as Christ did from his grave during the Resurrection. It was a blessing to have been there to be a part of this time with this gentleman speaking from his heart.

The highlight of the day was my family getting to experience cotton picking by hand. I’ve grown up hearing so many stories about my relatives working in cotton fields. My memories of their stories was that it was tedious and painful work. Just last weekend, I went to visit my great uncle who talked about having to pick the remains of the cotton in the field. He had to save for quite some time just to buy a bicycle. While I did enjoy picking the cotton, I can very easily see how one wouldn’t want to have to do it for any length of time. However, for the short time we did it today, it was fun.

I’m thankful that my children (and I) got the chance to experience this harvest that so many of our ancestors had also participated in. I’m also thankful for the older members of the tractor club that took the time to explain the process to us and tell us stories of their memories of cotton picking. In this world of electronic gadgets and constant connectivity, it was nice to get away for just a day and enjoy life with my family. Although I may grumble from time to time about the tractor, I think it’s wonderful that my children get exposed to so many things from days gone by that they would miss if their head was buried in an electronic device all day long. I encourage you to do the same with your children. Find a local festival and spend time together teaching them about everything you can think of that is good. Unfortunately, children grow up too fast. Take time to make it count!

A Bit of History

Farmer Boy and I had the privilege of attending the 2014 Historic Haints and Saints Cemetery Tour presented by Crawford W. Long Museum on Friday night. It is a history tour that featured the stories of about six different people that were buried in nearby Woodbine Cemetery. The cast featured several well-known people from the area, including Representative Tommy Benton.

I was a little concerned that Farmer Boy might be still a little too young to appreciate it, but I was happy to see he enjoyed going. His favorites were the portrayal of Gustavus James Nash Wilson by Representative Benton and James Mauldin by John Jackson. He was particularly interested in the Mauldin story as it was a story of a Confederate veteran that participated in the Battle of Gettysburg. Mr. Jackson is an engaging storyteller.

It was a great time to spend with my son. I’m always trying to find things to do individually with each child. Since this had history and just enough of an air of mystery and scariness to keep him interested, it was a good choice. I highly suggest that you check this tour out next time it’s presented. It was great to learn more about local history.

Book Review: “In This House We Will Giggle” by Courtney DeFeo

This is a Christian-based book that details twelve different virtues to teach to children. I had been thinking of implementing a similar study after listening to a podcast. I like that the virtues are intended to studied on a monthly basis so as to spend enough time to go into depth on the subject, but not belabor the point. The idea behind the book is that if we make it fun and memorable, the prescribed virtue that one is trying to teach will be remembered better. The following virtues are the ones covered in the book:

1. Joy – When the Reality of Life Meets a Heart of Gladness
2. Love – Letting Concern for Others Guide Our Behavior
3. Forgiveness – Discover the Freedom That Comes Only Through Grace
4. Faith – Planting Seeds of Trust for a Lifetime of Spiritual Growth
5. Patience – Some Things are Worth the Wait
6. Perseverance – Pressing On Through Life’s Challenges
7. Respect – Words and Actions That Honor Others
8. Responsibility – Working Hard and Taking Ownership
9. Service – Meeting Needs with Our Hands, Feet, and Hearts
10. Humility – Giving God and Others Center Stage
11. Gratitude – So Many Reasons to Be Thankful
12. Genorosity – Join in the Adventure of Giving

Wow, what a list! All of these are virtues that I wholeheartedly want to impart to my children. As a matter of fact, I think adults could use to continue studying and practicing them as well.

I loved the frankness of the author in the introduction. I related and feel a lot of moms can too. Each virtue has a section that discusses it and also provides catch phrases for use during the month to reinforce it. There are also lists of suggestions such as letting siblings leave notes in each other’s backpack to teach them to love one another. Peppered throughout the book are sixty different ways to “bring out the giggles” which are silly activities that are loosely related to the virtue and are intended to make learning fun. From there, each chapter is set in the following manner:

1. Memory verse from the Bible
2. Virtue definition
3. A passage to read from The Jesus Storybook Bible (Bible references are provided as well)
4. A list of discussion questions
5. An example prayer
6. Activity (including a supply list and directions)
7. Additional discussion questions
8. Optional activities

This is a wonderful book for families. I love that it is based upon the Bible, and I also love the real-life examples the author gives which make the book very relevant and relatable. I also think the book would scale easily to children of different ages. Although some of the “bring on the giggles” parts might be too juvenile for my oldest, I think it will be a welcomed time of silliness and family bonding. This book is a very good way of deliberately and methodically making sure that they “catch” these all-important virtues as a child. I can’t wait to go all the way through it with my family!

Book Review: “flour + water pasta” by Thomas McNaughton

“flour + water” is a book detailing both the basics of pasta-making along with recipes for sophisticated pasta dishes. It is written by the chef and co-owner of a restaurant by the same name. After reading this book, I would love to visit the restaurant the next time I visit San Francisco.

For a long time now, I have wanted to learn to make my own pasta. I received a pasta machine as a wedding present years ago and haven’t used it often because I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. A whole new world of possibilities have been opened with this book. This book contains details on how to make many different pasta shapes using basic dough recipes. The step-by-step instructions with numerous accompanying pictures are great!

The first part of the book covers how to make and cook pasta. The second half of the book lists recipes that are separated according to the seasons. The gorgeous pictures deliver portrayals of vibrant colors you would expect from each season. For instance, the Stradette with Leeks and Fava Beans on page 208 captures that intense green associated with the new growth of spring.

Other features of the book cover the backgrounds of the author and other chefs, a source page, and ingredient highlights. I was particularly interested in the section that talked about how Parmigiano Reggiano was produced. I also noticed that the matte pages will be easy to read while cooking because you won’t have to struggle with a glare on the page. I am excited to try many of the recipes, starting with Asparagus Caramelle with Brown Butter and Meyer Lemon!

I received this book for free from BloggingforBook.org’s Blogger Program in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review.

Book Review: “Sugar Rush” by Johnny Iuzzini

Sugar Rush by Johnny Iuzzini is a spectacular feast for the eyes. This book is filled with gorgeous step-by-step pictures that seem to make even complicated desserts accessible to the average baker. At 350 pages, this hardback book is substantial and covers many topics. There are many recipes that look simply scrumptious. The contents include:
1) Custards and Creamy Desserts
2) Eggs and Meringue
3) Caramel
4) Cakes, Cupcakes, Brownies, and Muffins
5) Cookies, Tea Cakes, and Biscuits
6) Tarts, Cobblers, and Crisps
7) Yeast Doughs
8) Glazes, Frostings, Fillings, and Sauces
9) Building a Balanced Dessert

You won’t find diet-friendly desserts here. Instead, you’ll find decadent desserts that you’d expect from such a famous professional chef. Most of the ingredients can be found in a standard grocery store.

My favorite part of this book (a close second is of course the pictures) is all of the tips that are peppered throughout the book. Iuzzini covers even the most basic instructions, including how to measure dry ingredients. He then also instructs on how to make macarons bye providing tips such as “Once the macarons are piped, they need to dry out and form a crust so they will have a crunchy yet soft texture when you bite into them. Don’t skip this step.” I had no clue. I can’t wait to make so many of these recipes. I’d recommend this to anyone who loves desserts!

I received this book for free from BloggingforBook.org’s Blogger Program in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review.

Book Review: “Let Us All Eat Cake” by Catherine Ruehle

I can’t express how excited I am about this book! My mother has developed an allergy to gluten in the past few years. Finding good-tasting substitutes has proven to be quite a challenge. I have found one recipe that I make whenever the rest of us eat “real” cake. While it tastes good, it’s just not “real” cake. This book offers tons of new recipes that she can share in eating with us.

The book is nicely divided into types of cakes in the chapters as follows:
Chapter 1 – Breakfast, Snack & Coffee Cakes
Chapter 2- Layer Cakes
Chapter 3 – Cupcakes Filled & Frosted
Chapter 4 – Plated Slices & Little Cakes
Chapter 5 – Decorated Special-Occassion Cakes
Chapter 6 – Essential Frostings, Filling & Glazes
Chapter 7 – Tips, Tricks & Decorating Techniques
As you can see, there is a lot of variety of desserts covered in this book. It even contains a Pink Princess Cake and Camo Cake that would be great for kids.

The ingredients used seem accessible to most people. Most of them are ones you have in your pantry already. The author even includes a few pages with sources in case you’re having trouble finding them. She also informs you on each recipe that uses special equipment. Choices are also presented for certain ingredients to offer some flexibility (e.g. unsalted butter vs. non hydrogenated vegetable shortening).

The book contains lots of gorgeous pictures. I love to eat with my eyes in a cookbook, so this doesn’t disappoint. Even my young daughter can’t wait to try the recipes after looking through the book. Most recipes in this book have at least one picture.

I can’t wait to bake my way through this book and share them with my mom! I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in gluten-free baking.

I received this book for free from BloggingforBook.org’s Blogger Program in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review.

Biblical help for problems with sibling rivalry

My children are somewhat close in age, and I have a lot of problems with jealousy and sibling rivalry between them. They are great kids that love each other, but really need guidance to help them treat each other more kindly at all times. Quite honestly, the same scriptures can be applied to adults as well. Sadly, I’ve tried several secular suggestions on how to keep the peace between them, but I haven’t really approached them with Biblical references on why they need to treat each other more kindly. That changes today. I ran across several blog posts regarding this topic on the website Frugal Fun for Boys. I have compiled notes that I plan to use in our family devotions from this website that I’m sharing below. I have tried to quote the website wherever I could. Please note that all ideas were directly derived from Frugal Fun for Boys. (I wish to give credit where it is due.) I simply made these notes for my use and changed the Bible references to KJV. I hope this is of some help to you if you have similar issues.

Frugal Fun for Boys

* 1 Corinthians 10:13 – “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
* God won’t let you be temped with more than you can handle
* Romans 12:14 – “Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.”
* Romans 12:19-21 – “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”
* instructs us to treat our enemies with kindness
* you shouldn’t try to get revenge, let the Lord deal them
* don’t stoop to their level if they’re being bad
* Colossians 3:12-13 – “12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”
* forgive others when they do wrong to you because Christ has forgiven you
* Proverbs 19:11 – “11 The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.”
* it’s a blessing to be able to get over someone doing you wrong

No rudeness
* Proverbs 12:18 “There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.”
* saying mean things (symptom of uncontrolled tongue) is like stabbing someone with a sword; but kindness heals people
* If you have said something rude to one of your siblings, you need to add words or actions of healing by speaking kindly or doing something to serve that sibling.
* if you fuss after they spill something, you have to heal that hurt (perhaps by offering to help them clean it up)
* “Satan would love for us to believe that those sassy comments we want to say will make us feel better, but it’s a lie. The tongue of the wise truly does bring healing!” – frugalfun4boys.com

Dealing with Anger
* Romans 12:17-21 – “17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”
* don’t repay evil
* try to live peaceably
* don’t try to get revenge
* overcome bad with good

* Kindness cup – take turns doing something good and leaving the cup behind so that it can be passed on
* The Bible says that it is not enough to simply “stop being rude” or “ignore the other person.”
* “The cycle of fighting won’t stop until someone starts actively choosing to be kind and put others first.” – frugalfun4boys.com
* “We are His children. He made us His children, not so that we could go our own way, but so that we could reflect His character. When we ask our children to love each other in light of the love that God has shown for us, life makes sense! Our requests are rooted in the truth.” – frugalfun4boys.com
* Examples:“I know that what they did was not kind and that you are hurt. But God showed His kindness to us in that while we were yet sinners, He died for us (Romans 5:8). I know it’s really hard, but God will help you to respond with love if you ask Him to.”
* “I know they have been a pest today. But it would be great if you would reflect God’s character by reading him some books anyway. Think of it as serving the Lord.”
* “We need to speak with kind words because God always speaks with words that are good. He created us to be like Him.”
* Does the person I’m playing with not enjoy loud games? Then I should put him first and not play that way. Is everyone in the car tired of my singing? Then I should stop singing, not exercise my right to sing when I want.
* How were you showing kindness in this situation?
* How did your actions helped things to be more peaceful. (Maybe they didn’t?)
* When you were _________ (running off with your sibling’s toy/ “copying” everything your brother said/playing rough with your sister’s baby doll), what was more important to you than loving your sibling? (Could be having fun, getting a laugh from others, having control over others)
* Proverb 16:7 – “7 When a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.”
* try to do nice and as God would have you to do, he can help you to have peace

No tattling/whining
* more acceptable to say, “Mom, I’m concerned that Owen might break my toy that he is playing with,” rather than to whine, “Mo-om! Owen has my toy AGAIN!”- frugalfun4boys.com

* James 4:4 – “…know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”
* don’t act as the world says to act, act as God says to act
* many desires (want of things, controlling others, selfishness) are very worldly, not Godly
* James 4:6-7 – “6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
* don’t be proud, but humble because God will give you grace
* let God take over your life and he will chase away the devil

Craft – make a kindness cup together

Bible verses to memorize:
* Romans 12:14 – “Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.”
* Romans 12:19 – “…avenge not yourselves…Vengeance is mine…”
* Romans 12:21 – “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”
* Colossians 3:13 – “…even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”
* Proverbs 12:18 – “…but the tongue of the wise is health.”
* Romans 5:8 – “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
* James 4:7 – “…Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

Movie Review: “Moms’ Night Out”

Ok, so I’ve waited way to long to see this movie. It was hilarious, and I loved it! I didn’t even know Provident Films was associated with it. (I’ve loved everything I’ve seen them associated with.)

I highly recommend this movie to all other moms who feel crazy and overwhelmed most of the time. One scene in the movie was very enlightening. It made the point that God didn’t make any mistakes in making me the mother of my kids. I need to seek His guidance to allow myself to just be me and try to be the best mom I can be. Sometimes I get too caught up in wanting to do things perfectly and wanting to be “all put together” to the point that it destroys the joy and humor that I should have in all the mess-ups and chaos that is real life. I really am trying to work on being less stressed and learning to roll with the punches when things don’t go the way I think they should. I’ve been blessed beyond measure and need to be ever-mindful of that.

A great party find – free bike cupcake toppers

Recently, I hosted a party for Farmer Boy. He’s obsessed with riding his bike right now. When I asked him what kind of cake he wanted me to make, he started to tell me all about this elaborate cake, complete with a cake carved into the shape of a bicycle. I told him I wasn’t able to make that on short notice (or maybe ever with my skill level), but told him I could somehow incorporate the bike theme into his requested vanilla cake with chocolate icing.

I was really happy to have found these free (yay!) cupcake toppers online. They turned out great. His favorite was the “This is how I roll” one and asked for it by name. Everyone at the party seemed to think they were cute too. Thanks to R&O for saving the day for this mama!


Book Review: “Bend Your Brain” by The Minds Behind Marbles: The Brain Store

I absolutely love this book! I have always been drawn to brain teasers and puzzles, and this book definitely delivers quality content. I also like that they offer snippets of information regarding how the brain works related to the puzzle at hand. The book is divided into sections and offers puzzles of increasing difficulty. I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys a mental challenge!

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.