Link-Ups, My 'Farm'

Scrumptious Blueberry Cobbler

Whenever we have family and friend gatherings, one of my most requested dishes is my blueberry cobbler. The kids and I are having very special guests for dinner tonight and I’m making this dish for our dessert. So, I thought I would share my recipe with you all. I have adapted this from The Pioneer Woman’s Blackberry Cobbler recipe.

  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) butter, melted (as a sidenote, you will NOT find margarine in my house – we always use butter)
  • 1 1/4 cups plus 2+ tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup half & half (you can substitute milk, if you prefer)
  • 2 cups fresh (or frozen) blueberries (if you’re local to Lafayette, you should check out the Prelock Blueberry Farm. This is where I get mine from and they’re quite possibly the BEST blueberries out there!)
Preheat the oven to 350.
Grease a 3-quart baking dish with butter.
Place the stick of butter in a microwave-safe dish. Heat in 30-45 second increments until melted.
In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, salt, baking powder, and 1 cup of the sugar.
Whisk the half & half into the dry ingredients.
Whisk in the melted butter.
Rinse the blueberries and pat them dry. (If you’re working with frozen blueberries, it’s likely you’ve already done this step prior to freezing them.)
Pour the batter into the baking dish. Sprinkle the blueberries evenly over the top of the batter.
Evenly sprinkle 1/4 cup of sugar over the blueberries.
Bake for 1 hour, or until golden brown and bubbly. When 10 minutes of the baking time remain, evenly sprinkle the remaining 2+ tablespoons of sugar over the top (use your best guesstimate, sometimes I use more, sometimes just the 2 tablespoons).
When you’re done, you’re left with baked blueberry deliciousness that will keep ’em coming back for more!
Kids/Parenting, My 'Farm'

It’s ALIVE!!!!

This post was originally published on April 25, 2014…

Ok, y’all need to get comfy…I’m about to tell you a most interesting story…got your coffee, water, tea, or soda ready? Are you snuggled in with a cozy blanket? Ok, here we go…

Tonight Elijah had baseball practice. Emma and I dropped him off at the ball field and went to Sam’s Club. I’m watching my time, in order to get back to get him around 7:30. We get him picked up, and head home about 8:15. This is where it gets good.
For those of you who haven’t been to my house, the master bathroom window overlooks the back of my yard and my neighbor’s back yard. I walked in my bathroom and happened to look out. In the distance, I saw one of our chickens…the kicker is, it looked like it was on the OTHER side of the fence (in my neighbor’s back yard).
So, I stroll outside to investigate. Sure enough, the chicken was frantically pacing along the fence line, trying to determine how it got itself into this predicament and how to get itself out. I could see the worry in her face, as she could see her friends, but couldn’t get to them. I can only imagine what was going through her little chicken brain.
I gather the kids and head over to the neighbor’s to try to corral this chicken and return it to our coop. A few of my chickens will allow me to pick them up; this was not one of them. I know in my mind that this is not going to be an easy task. With each step I take, I’m rehearsing the kabillion ways this could go.
The kids and I get to the same side of the fence as the chicken, and I’m trying to slowly approach her, in the hopes that she *might* allow me to just pick her up and toss her over the fence. She sees me coming and scurries in the opposite direction.
I ask Emma to hold the gate open, thinking if I can slowly walk alongside her, with the fence on the other side of her, we might be able to just walk her right out of the yard. Naturally, she ends up in a corner, not at all interested in my plan.
After this dance goes on for about 10 minutes, Emma finally yells to Elijah for him to hold the gate and she can help me. See, she and I have done this trick before when we’re trying to get the chickens in their run. Elijah begins to hold the gate, but not before a 5 minute dissertation from Emma on how it should be done.
A couple of times, the chicken gets within arms reach of me. I’m able to grasp out for her, but she’s very elusive and escapes my advances. At this point, I’m beginning to feel a little Jerry McGuire-ish, in saying to her, “Help me help you. Listen up chicken, I know you want to be with your other little chicken friends, but you gotta work with me here.”
Clearly, I did not have all my wits about me…trying to reason and rationalize with a chicken. Not one of my finer moments.
At this point, both kids end up at the gate to the yard and we’re all very discouraged. I begin brainstorming other ideas to attempt to save this hen from it’s fate of being separated from her sisters, when all of a sudden, the kids begin screaming, “HERE COME THEIR DOGS! MOMMA, THEIR DOGS ARE COMING!!”
Having lost a few of my chickens to the neighbor’s dogs in the past, we KNOW that they will attack the chicken in a heartbeat.
At first the kids were able to distract the dogs by having them come to them. But as soon as one of the dogs catches a whiff of the chicken, he’s gone! In an instant, the dog was at the chicken, grabbing it by its neck and dragging it through the yard.
I immediately heard wailing from Emma and Elijah because they LOVE these chickens. I tried to stop the dog, but had no luck. Pretty soon, the chicken was laying in the yard in a heap. My adrenaline was slowly beginning to decline, and I was now faced with the task of calming the kids down and explaining to them that the chicken somehow made it to the other side of the fence, and that this result was a very real possibility.
Emma and I began walking what felt like a trail of death back to the house; Elijah was already there. They were both in hysterics.
I was taking the time to explain to them that this is what happens, and that our dogs are pretty much the exception to the rule that dogs like to play with and kill chickens. I was mid-sentence when Elijah shouts so loudly that I’m sure people in the next county could hear him, “IT’S ALIVE!!!! OH MOMMA, IT’S ALIVE!!! LOOK!!!”
I turn to look and as sure as I’m sitting here now, that chicken got up, shrugged her wings, and walked away from a pile of feathers that I just knew would be the final resting place of that poor girl.
I quickly tell Emma to run to the house and ask the neighbors not to let the dogs out; that the chicken is alive and we’re going to try to get it.
I make my way back over to the other side of the fence, and again, we are playing this little cat-and-mouse game in which the chicken gets just close enough for me to catch it…if I took a nose-dive…and then runs off.
Have I mentioned HOW FAST chickens are when they are running?!?!? (Obviously not fast enough to outrun a boxer, though!)
By a stroke of sheer luck, I catch the chicken and, quite literally, toss the darn thing over the fence.
At this point, I’m ready for a stiff drink! All of this excitement is more than I can handle!
I begin walking back to the yard, after a successful search-and-rescue mission, and Elijah says, “It’s a miracle! I just knew that God would save that chicken!!”
Oh to have the faith of a child again…
Stay tuned for further antics from my chickens! (Even though the blog says 13 chickens, I actually have 8 chickens, and 11 pullets, which are like female teenage chickens…and they’re not even as much trouble as the grown ones!!!)
I’m gonna go fix that drink now…enjoy your evening/day/afternoon, whatever time it is when you’re reading this.
His Word, Kids/Parenting, My 'Farm', Soul Relationships

Imperfect Pumpkins & An Imperfect Me

Today’s post is from October 20, 2013.

My kids and me at the pumpkin patch and corn maze in October 2014
My kids and me at the pumpkin patch and corn maze in October 2014

I took a trip to the corn maze and pumpkin patch yesterday. It’s funny how you can be looking at a map or a visual guide and still feel like you don’t KNOW where you are or where you’re going. I guess it’s like that with life sometimes. You can have a general awareness of where you are, but the details are fuzzy.

While we were there, we walked around the pumpkin patch. We saw pumpkins of all shapes and sizes and colors. There were small, hard, white pumpkins that, while they were aesthetically pleasing, would only be useful for decoration; you couldn’t carve them into a jack-o-lantern. There were gourds that were also beautiful to look at, with their varying colors. Some were all orange, some were orange and green, some were yellow; but the one characteristic they all shared were the bumps on the outside. Some had few, while others had many.

When we made it to the bigger pumpkins, you know the ones you search for to carve; there were rows upon rows of these magnificent creations. As we walked through the vast array of pumpkins, we found some that were perfectly orange. Some were more round than others. Some were tall and skinny, while others were short and fat. Some were flat on one side. Some were even rotting. Some were dirty from sitting in the mud from the recent rain. Some were clean, as though someone had walked along and brushed the dried mud off of them. Despite the fact that we were not planning to buy a pumpkin, it was still enjoyable to look at and compare the many sizes and shapes of the pumpkins available.

I sit now and think about how I can feel like a pumpkin. Waiting, while everyone walks around you and the other pumpkins near you, in search of their ‘perfect’ pumpkin. Waiting, for someone to come along and scoop you up and say, “You are just right for me.” Waiting, for someone to come along and say to you, “You are worthy of being on display at my house.” Waiting, for someone to recognize all of the wonderful qualities you have to offer. Waiting, for someone to choose you. Waiting, for just the right person, that one person, who knows all of your bumps and discolorations and misshapen features, and still chooses you. Chooses you to love. Chooses you to share their bumps and misshapen features with. Chooses you to trust. Chooses you to dream their dreams with.

I’m so glad that I have a Creator who doesn’t view just my exterior. Who doesn’t look at my bumps and bruises and scars and see them as the world sees them. He sees my scars as beautiful. He views my flaws and sees a work-in-progress. He sees what no one else can. You see, when I look at a pumpkin, I can smell the aroma of roasting pumpkin seeds. I can recall from years past, the crisp, salty flavor of that first bite into the seeds. I can even go back to a time, so long ago, that I was in elementary school at Mulberry, roasting pumpkin seeds in my first grade class.

In 1 Samuel 16:7, the Lord says to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” This came after the Lord rejected Saul as king and a new king was sought. The Lord had sent Samuel to Jesse, from whose lineage a new king would be chosen. Verse 6 reads, “When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.’” See, Eliab was the oldest of Jesse’s sons, and so Samuel assumed the eldest was to be the new king. However, as verse 7 tells us, the Lord sees our hearts and there was something in Eliab’s heart that made him unsuitable to be king.

I am drawn to Psalm 139:13-14, which reads, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” These verses remind me that I am exactly how God has made me. Granted, I’ve exercised free will several times in my life, so where I am in my life has also been influenced by my choices. But, God made me the perfect combination of my mom and my dad. He made me, flaws and all, so that through my free will and my circumstances, I would bring Him the glory.

See, that’s what we are all here for. To bring God the glory. From every situation. In every circumstance. In good times and in bad. Because it’s not about us anyway. So, on this day, I choose to give God the glory. For creating me in such a way that He knew He would get the glory from my life.

His Word, My 'Farm', Series, Soul Relationships

Apples & God

I’m in the process of moving old content to this new space…so I’m going to be posting some repeats…here’s the first of many. I hope you enjoy this. It was originally published on September 24, 2013.

I recently discovered that an apple tree in my backyard produces the most ah-mazing apples! They are the perfect combination of tart and sweet and produce the perfect crunch when you bite into them. The kids and I spent quite a while basking in yesterday’s glorious, skin-warming sun picking these little red treasures.

While they went onto ride bikes on the road surrounded by this year’s corn and soybean crops, I pondered long and hard about the many options for my apples. I grabbed a large bowl, my peeler, a knife and the basket of apples. I took my place on the front porch, with the long shadows of the house and the trees surrounding me and set about peeling the splendid riches God provided.

As I was peeling these apples, I couldn’t help but contemplate that this is how God means for us to be. He wants to peel away our tough exterior – the protective coating – the shell we use to try to keep all things at bay. He strives to shave away this covering so that we can be transparent – vulnerable – exposed so that we can be a witness to others around us.

Apples & God

As I was cutting out the bad spots in the apples, I realized this is how God prepares us too. He turns us all around, looks us over, and removes the ‘bad spots’ – things like selfishness, greed, laziness, pride, envy. He desires for us to grasp that we are more than our exterior – by what the world judges us.

Once my work with the apple was complete, I was left with a misshapen, grouted, ‘holey’ apple on the outside. It looked ANYTHING but perfect…you know, perfect like the ones you see in the stores – all perfectly apple shaped, perfectly polished and perfectly shiny – on display to be chosen as the best looking, sweet, crisp, perfect treat. But one bite into this deformed beauty would have your taste buds dancing!

It began to dawn on me that that is how we Christians can be made to feel – that we have to have it all together – we have to be perfectly smooth, impeccably glossy; perfect in our outward appearance. But what God glorifies in – – – what He lives, and loves, for, is allowing us to be bruised, broken, misshapen, and vulnerable on the outside, so that, when He peels back our dirty exterior, prods out our bad spots like pride and vanity, we can be cut into to be used in a recipe for something greater – something we may know nothing of…we are just trusting in the Master Baker. So when we have fulfilled our purpose, we don’t see ourselves as the beginning product – the ugly apple – we only see and experience ourselves as the beautiful finished product – an ingredient in God’s recipe for delicious apple crisp – tart and sweet at the same time.

Because life is full of moments that are tart and biting, ones that make us pucker up. But it’s also filled to the dish’s edge with sweet moments – those we know we should savor. And it’s the combination of these moments – the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ – that make us a creation of the Creator’s…a reason to cling to His goodness and rejoice in every acidic and sugary sweet flash in time.

Kids/Parenting, My 'Farm', Random, Series

Day 9 – Join

I have to say that this writing challenge has truly challenged me in some really great ways. I’ve stretched myself to a place I’ve not been before. To a place where I’m forcing myself to write just for the sake of writing.

The prompt for day 9 is: Join.

It catches me by surprise this morning when I step outside that fall has joined us. As I make the trek to the chicken coop, I traipse through damp leaves that have fallen softly from the trees.

I feel the cool, crisp air tenderly touch my cheeks, and as I exhale, I can see my warm breath.

Where has the year gone that fall has made it’s arrival so silently? Like a thief in the night steals, summer has been snatched from our grasp.

And just as the days and the years quickly tick by, the fall of my children’s lives joins me.

How one day, I open the door to my life and it shocks my system to find I have a 9-year old and a 7-year old. She has less than 2 years left in her elementary school days.

Less than 2 years and she will join the ranks of middle-schoolers where life takes on a new level of complexity.

And him…my baby…is not a baby any more. He has joined the thousands of boys that have gone before him into the land of no more hugs and kisses for their mamas.

Oh dear, sweet children…how can I slow time down? How can I learn to join you in this moment?

Help me to appreciate the cool, crisp air of the fall now; before the cold, sharp air of the winter blasts me in the face and chills me to the bone. Because it will be here all too soon.