Monday, December 7, 2015

Just In Time...


     I bounded behind a bush as fast as I could. My heart raced. We hadn't expected them so soon. The slow moving car stopped in front of the house, the squeaky brakes making me cringe.
     I glanced over at Mike. He was crouched behind a fallen tree by our house, looking over at me with a sharp eye and putting a finger to his lips. I nodded back. I carefully scanned the area for Willy, but couldn't find where he had gone. Apparently Mike could see him; he seemed to be motioning in another direction to someone else.
     The car engine turned off. A long, aching silence fell everywhere around me.
     I slowly rubbed my hands together, then turned them into fists, placing them in front of my mouth and breathing hot air on them. I thrust my hands deep down in my coat pockets, longing for the gloves I left on the front porch. The bone-chilling air sneaked it's way through my coat and slid down my spine. My numbing toes complained to the soggy socks inside my thin boots, and my shoulders began to shake.
     A car door shut, then another soon after. I tried to find Mike's face through the bare branches again. He nodded. It was time --- the moment we had been working for. I swallowed hard as I searched on the frozen ground for the cords. I found one end. But where was the other?
     I could hear their voices now, and the crunchy steps of boots approaching, closer and closer. I had to find it. I gave a panicked look over at Mike, lifting up the one end of the extension cord. "Only one," I mouthed.
     All Mike did was motion to me with his clenched hands to plug the two cords together. He must have not understood. I wasn't ready! You can't mess this up now, Jill, I thought to myself. Not after all we've gone through.
     Desperately, I turned around in my crouched position, searching and feeling for the other end, my hands now shaking. My heart beat in my chest like a bass drum, the pounding working its way up into my ears, faster and faster every step closer they took to the house.
     Then --- there it was! The cord was hidden underneath some dead leaves that had been piled up under the bush in the fall. I snatched up the other end, making sure it was dry, then spun around toward Mike.
     Mike's face lit up with fearful excitement, frantically mouthing the word, "Now! Now!"
     I took a deep breath, then --- plugged the two cords together.
     I turned my head away for a second at the giant flash of light. Squinting back up at the house, relief flooded through me. We did it! We actually did it!
     I glanced back over at Mike. I smiled. He nodded.
     The three of us leaped out of hiding. "Merry Christmas!" we shouted in unison. Mom and Dad gasped while jumping back in surprise as we rushed to meet them by the sidewalk. They stared at us for a moment, dumbfounded, then back up at the fully lighted house.
     "What? How...? You all... did all this?!" Mom exclaimed, gazing up in disbelief at our house.
     "In just three hours?" Dad marveled, a grin spreading across his face.
     We all nodded happily. "An hour for each of us, I guess," Mike responded with an unerasable smile.
     "Do you like it okay?" our little brother, Willy asked with wide eyes.
     "Like it okay?" Mom began.
     "...We like it a bunch!" Dad finished as he grabbed up Willy, whirling him around once. "This is great, guys! We should leave you all home alone more often!" Dad chuckled and wrapped his arm around my shoulders. "I bet you made sure these boys did it just right, hmm, Jill?"
     "It was actually Mike's idea," I said. "We had been planning it for quite a while. He told us what to do mostly."
     "And I did almost all the lights on the poles all by myself!" Willy announced, jumping up and down and trying to point at the same time.
     "Well," said Mike, raising an eyebrow, "he had a little help." Everyone laughed, and Dad ruffled Willy's hair.
     As we all started up the porch steps, Mom and Dad kept complimenting how wonderfully everything looked. I snatched up my gloves off the porch swing, and dreamed of thawing out my frozen toes by the fire as I opened the door for everyone.
     I could hardly wait until they got inside --- Mom and Dad hadn't seen anything yet.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Just ENJOY it!

Well, folks, it's that time of year again. I'm not sure HOW it already got to be this time of year again. But it's here, nevertheless. And you know what? I'm --- so --- EXCITED! I like Thanksgiving and Christmas time so much!

The only thing about it is that it sometimes seems to go by so fast, you don't always get to do all the things you wanted to do, and then you have this feeling of disappointment as the new year rolls around. I think that probably has happened to all of us at some point.

Though, I suppose we all have to face the fact that we most likely won't get to do EVERY single little thing that we want to do during the holidays; unless decorating, baking, and watching Christmas movies is ALL you do. But --- I don't know if you've noticed --- it's really hard to do that. Other things in life just get in the way sometimes, and there's not too much we can do about it.

BUT what we CAN do is just decide to have a great time at Thanksgiving and Christmastime no matter what we got done or didn't have enough time to do. In fact, my mom and I were planning on making a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving dinner this year, but it just got too late, so we didn't end up getting around to it. I was somewhat disappointed at first that we didn't get to make one, but then I thought, "Am I going to let a little thing like this ruin Thanksgiving for me?" I sure didn't want it to. So you know what --- I just decided to have a GREAT TIME this Thanksgiving and thank God for everything he's given me, no matter what's on our table or what we do. As in the words of Jacques Paganel, I am just going to...
Besides, a lot of that extra stuff we do on Thanksgiving and Christmas isn't always what they're really about. It's about being thankful to God for all we have; it's about Jesus being willing to be born into this world so that he could one day die in our place. That's what it's all about.

I very much encourage you to just enjoy this season, too. No matter what other things you have time for or don't, never forget to make time to just ENJOY this wonderfully exciting time of year and thank our gracious Creator for all the blessings he gives to us!

Now go, get off the computer. 

Spend time with your family this Thanksgiving. ENJOY IT!

Have a very HAPPY THANKSGIVING, everyone!

~Faith :)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Beauty of Fall

Ahh... Fall time. :)

The time of year when we rake up leaves, go on hayrides, visit the local pumpkin patch, take scenic walks, and slurp up pumpkin spice lattes (well, some of us do anyway. I've actually never had a pumpkin spice latte in my life... Come to think of it, I've never had any kind of latte before... I'm not a coffee person.)

Well, last week, the weather was so nice and the scenery was just gorgeous where I live, so I took our camera outside with me and took bunches of pictures around our yard and of the fields that surround us. I thought I'd share a portion of them with you, since sharing all of them at the moment might take you an hour to scroll through (Okay, perhaps my exaggeration has gone a bit too far.). But anyways, here they are. I hope you enjoy. :)

Our neighbors plant winter rye this time of year in the fields around us, which gives them a cheery green look, even during bitter cold fall or winter days (unless the snow covers them).

 Our marigolds don't cease to bloom. :)


And, oh! The mountain views! I like it! :D

I hope you enjoyed these pictures! God's Creation truly is amazing. Of course, it's hard to capture the true beauty of the scenery with just a camera. I encourage you to take the time, even just a minute or two, to look out the window, sit on your porch, or take a drive to the park or through the countryside, and just enjoy and soak in the magnificent scenery the Creator has painted for us!

I wish you and your family a wonderful Fall season! :)


Saturday, November 7, 2015

Chicken & Rice Recipe

Hello there! :)
I'm honored to have you here and am excited to be able to share some recipes, craft projects and ideas, thoughts on God's Word, and other things I like here with you!

I thought for my first post I would share a favorite recipe of mine that I like making for my family with you all. :)

Chicken & Rice


- 40 oz bag of chicken breast tenderloins
- 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2-3 tablespoons of Italian dressing & marinade
- 1 teaspoon of honey mustard dressing
- Salt & Pepper (optional; it may already be seasoned enough, you can judge for yourself)

- 4 cups of instant brown rice
- 2 tablespoons of chicken granulated bouillon
- 3 cups of warm water

Broccoli (optional)
- Two 2.6 oz bags of frozen broccoli florets
- A few shakes of salt
- 1 1/3 cups - 1 1/2 cups of water

(With pictures, for your convenience and viewing pleasure :) )

First, defrost the chicken breast in the microwave.

If you leave your chicken in the bag to defrost, make sure the bag is opened some.

While the chicken defrosts, you can prepare your skillet for the chicken. I use a  PRESTO® Foldaway electric skillet. Put the olive oil, Italian dressing & marinade, and honey mustard dressing in the pan and mix around, then spread the ingredients out evenly in the bottom of the skillet.  

As you do this, you may have a younger sibling who will look over into the skillet and wrinkle their nose in disgust at how it looks, but don't worry, they won't think that for long.

When the chicken breasts are done defrosting, rinse them off with warm water and place them in the skillet. Turn the skillet on in between 200 and 250 degrees.

I like to rub the chicken around in the dressing in the pan to get all that good stuff on it. :) Also, if you'd like, you can sprikle a little salt and pepper over the chicken.

Then put the lid on and let it cook for 3 or 4 minutes, and then turn the chicken breasts over. Put the lid back on and leave it to cook for around 5 more minutes. It should be about done. If you find it cooking too much, you can always turn the temperature down.

I sometimes find it easier to use a fork to turn over the chicken than a spatula; Just make sure not to scratch the bottom of your pan.

Tip if you use a PRESTO® Foldaway electric skillet or another type of skillet with a pour spout/spoon rest: The lid doesn't come over this spout and leaves an opening for heat to escape even when the lid is on. To help this dilemma, you can improvise by putting a piece of tin foil over the hole to keep all the heat in when you need it to.

By now, your younger sibling is probably glancing over your shoulder asking repeatedly when supper will be ready. Don't worry, that's normal. You can tell them that it will probably be about 10-15 more minutes.

You can cut one of the chicken breasts open to make sure it's done. It should look all white with no pink in it. (Maybe that's obvious... maybe not in some restaurants. Oh wait, that's steak. ;) ) 

When the chicken is cooked through, leave the lid on and turn the teperature to warm while you go prepare the rice. (You can also make the rice while the chicken is cooking, too.)

Pour your instant brown rice, chicken granulated bouillon, and warm water into a dish. I cook it in the microwave for 5 minutes, take it out to stir, then put it back in the microwave for 3 1/2 more minutes. This may vary with different microwaves, though. If you have a microwave that tends to heat up quicker, try a cook time less than this and just keep your nose on the watch to make sure it doesn't cook up too much. You could also follow the microwave directions on the box, too, but sometimes they're not always accurate either.

When the rice is done, pour it into the skillet with the chicken and mix around.

Now, you could just leave your dish like this and let you and your family dig in, OR (despite your younger sibling's protests) you could hold back your hunger for just a few more minutes and add broccoli to it to give your chicken and rice dish a healthy and colorful touch. 

If you so desire the latter, then take your two 2.6 oz bags of frozen broccoli florets and pour them into a dish and rinse off the broccoli with warm water a couple of times. Add 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 cups of water in the bottom of the dish, sprinkle a little salt on top, and pop it into the microwave for about 5 minutes. (Again, the cook time may vary with different microwaves.)

I'm sure by now the delicious aroma from the kitchen has traveled to the rest of your family's noses, and you're having to barricade the kitchen doorway to keep them out, but never fear, 'tis almost done!

After the broccoli is cooked, just pour it into the skillet with the chicken and rice and mix it around. You can also serve the broccoli on the side and not mix it in with the chicken and rice if you'd rather.

And there you have it! You may now remove the barricades from the door, sprinkle a little cheese on top if you wish, and let the feasting begin!
This dish is pretty easy to make, and it's a delicious and nutritious meal. I like that!
I hope you enjoy and like it, too! :)

If you try this recipe, please leave a comment and let me know how it turned out for you.
Happy cooking!