Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Keith's Christmas Letter

(Keith and I take turns writing our Christmas letter. He weaseled out of it last year so this year was definitely his turn.) 

2011, I believe, is a prime number…or not?

This is a question of importance when living with the “wife of my youth.”  She loves odd numbers (me) and prime numbers (also me, currently 53).  Growing old with her is fun and “silver” suits her well.  Her blog is the best way to see what is happening in our world of Vikdom and living Up North. 

You can also find Vikdom on THE Facebook: Most of the family actively lives on the net.  Lani is not eligible yet, but I think she finds somehow to communicate via siblings. 

You will not find this prime number on said source…its invasive and promotes way too much self-esteem or something like that. I will use the US Postal service until its demise! I do have a cool I-phone on which I am fast advancing the rungs of perfection in Angry Birds.  Call me anytime. I love the sound of the human voice and you don’t have to use funny symbols on the keyboard 8>).

There once was a time without phones, radios, TV’s, computers, cars, or electricity. My, oh my, how busy we are. Let’s slow down!  (Insert collective groan from the girls. "Dad, you're starting to preach.") It’s my #1 frustration as a pastor of a wonderful church. The more we have, the more the more takes over.  I want my kids to learn a life of simplicity and service to others.  Busy is too easy to do.

This was the year of my style of vacation: a beach, a book and no agenda. Ontonagon, Michigan is a wonderful place to slow down.  Most of the girls were there and we enjoyed board games, beach time, hiking the woods, sleeping like hibernating bears, hot dogs roasted on the beach, and coffee at a local cafĂ©. Eight days went too fast, but don’t busy days as well?

Twitter style story lines for the girls:

Christina - nursing school, helps with youth group, traveled to Honduras, Boston, NY, works at a marina, great young lady                    

Kiah - nursing school, helped with young adult summer outreach, ran first marathon, barista, bought a Daewoo?! Luvlygal                                 

Erica - tech school, gone to camp all summer, barista, bought first car (black, stick, sporty) sees the good in folks                 

Anna -  gone for 6 months at camp & boarding school, quick wit and laugh, stretching her world, beauty, no beast        

Amy - finally in high school, wants to drive, knows Everybody! Took over Anna’s room (has to give it back)  lil’ lady                

Lani - most girls (believe me) are sloppy, not this one, loves to find bargains at thrift stores w/ Mom, glowing gal

(All daughters available for marriage, though two will have to be on layaway, so take your pick all qualified cute and employable guys. Dentists, auto mechanics, and plumbers have an advantage in dowry contracts.) 

Andrew and Rachel continue to become their own family and a great asset to Village Creek Bible Camp.  Rachel graduates from UW LaCrosse in May. We get to see them for Christmas!  (And yes, we’re excited) 

It is our hearts desire for you to know the One who was born a baby, died a lamb, raised a Savior and sits as King: Jesus Christ, the Lord!  Joy to you, in Him, this coming year. 
For the family,  

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Chai High

Smelled good in our house tonight. 

My friend Tina, who runs the awesome Bed and Breakast that I blogged about here, graciously shared her homemade Chai Tea recipe. I didn't know what half the ingredients were so shopping today was an education.

Family reactions varied.
Erica, as she poured another cup: This is the best Chai ever!!
Kiah:  You should lighten it up with two percent milk.
Keith: Does someone want mine? I don't really like Chai. 

If you feel adventurous and want a special occasion treat, try this. Your family and friends will be amazed. If you like Chai tea, you'll like this. If you don't like Chai tea, you'll like this. (Unless you're my husband.) 

I bought the bulk spices at a health food store.

Chai Tea

2-in. piece of fresh ginger, cut into thin rounds        
2 cinnamon sticks
2 t. black peppercorns (who knew?)
12 whole cloves
10 cardamom pods
2 anise stars
½ t. whole allspice
6 c. cold water
6 bags of black tea (preferably Darjeeling)
3 c. whole milk
½ c. half and half
½ c. (packed) golden brown sugar
½ c. honey 

(The blue pitcher contains milk. Our milk comes in plastic bags.) 

Fresh ginger root 
(smells nice when sliced)

Cardamon pods

Anise stars
(Smells like black licorice)

Combine first 7 ingredients in medium saucepan.  Using mallet or back of large spoon, lightly crush or bruise spices.  

Add 6 cups of water; bring to boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover pan, and simmer gently 10 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Add tea bags and steep 5 minutes.  (in case you can't tell, those are floating tea bags in the pot.)

Discard tea bags. Add milk, half and half, sugar, and honey.  Bring tea just to simmer over high heat, whisking until sugar dissolves.  Strain Chai into teapot and serve hot.                               

Mmm, mmn, good!!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

What Next?

You may remember my husband used to be a Wii little man

The good news is he no longer spends countless hours playing Wii golf. 

The bad news is he's now addicted to Angry Birds. I suppose one shouldn't knock it until they've tried it but anything with the word, "angry" in the title doesn't sound relaxing.

(Angry Birds is a video game that Apple's app store has sold over 12 millions copies of)

We got a good laugh out of this picture Christina found. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday Mugs - Holiday Treats - Housing Project

A friend invited the girls and I over to make Gingerbread houses. There's two things I don't like about making them: The mess and the EXCESS of sugar. When my friend offered to do it at her house, I jumped on the offer. I'm not stupid. The mess would be at her house.:)

This was our first time making real gingerbread. We usually use graham crackers which is in some ways easier but doesn't taste as good and isn't as versatile. I blogged about our last houses here.

We had a great time, had a sugar hangover, and Lani's house lasted two days at home before being totally devoured.

Gingerbread has to be cut right after it comes out of the oven as it hardens quickly.

Making another batch of gingerbread

Assembling the house is a two-person job


Amy's Masterpiece

The light brown things are gingerbread men-shaped marshmallows

Lani has a different style
(The white item on the protruding toothpick is a surveillance camera)

I made the snowman


 Tasty scraps

We're still friends even after we messed up her kitchen.

Love her wheat bran shingles. 



High Sugar

But lots of FUN!!

I'm linking up today with Heather at Oswald Cuties.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Making Peace With Gray

At forty-six, I became alarmed at the increasing number of gray strands taking up residence in my hair.

Keith said he didn’t mind. Said he likes my hair long. I said he could have long or he could have gray, but I didn’t want long and gray. 

He chose long and I chose not gray.

To his surprise, he actually liked the way it looked dyed.

Every few months for five years, much like a computer Paint program, a hairdresser magically erased any gray hairs that had the audacity to appear on my aging head.

I also have problems with thinning hair. Though somewhat mystified why hair grows on my chin where I don’t want it, but doesn’t grow on the top of my head where I do want it, I searched online for solutions.

Suggested options ran the gamut. I considered Rogaine for women, but was afraid with my luck and propensity to grow chin hairs that I’d soon have a full goatee.

Remembering the strong unpleasant smell of hair dye and how it tingles the scalp, I began to wonder if hair dye had contributed to the problem.

I googled negative effects of hair dye. Some websites said hair dye isn’t good for people. Ammonia and other strong chemicals can cause problems.

I considered going off the bottle but it’s hard to resist the urge to blast emerging gray hairs with ammonia-laced hair dye.

Many women my age dye their hair, so any person brave enough not to not dye, automatically looks older. Going natural requires the emotional fortitude to go around with a horizontal Cruella DeVille haircut while the color grows out.

Keith protested. Said he liked my hair dyed.

I’m not sure how God decides who gets what. I mean how come I got thin hair and chin hairs and Jane Seymour didn't. Although she’s had four husbands and I’ve only had one, so maybe looking beautiful at age 60 isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

I digress.

Tired of trying to fight the tide, I took the plunge (excuse the mixed metaphors) and quit using hair dye.

And the strangest thing happened. Once I got over the shock of seeing gray again, especially in the front, it doesn’t look that bad. Other than the bottom half is brown-red and the top is faded dark brown marbled with gray. 

Now that it’s growing out, I kind of like the not-so-dark-anymore hair interspersed with growing regiments of gray hair better than the not-quite-right shade I’ve sported the last few years.

Keith says he likes the growing out hair.

I’m not sure what the current ratio of brown to gray is but I know in time gray will stage a coup and take over completely. I wish I could pick what color gray hair I’ll get. (I could dye it a pretty shade of gray, but that would put me right back where I started from.)

This is not a judgment on people who dye their hair. I know why women use hair dye. I understand the desire to look younger. I've seen it tastefully done. I'm just saying that I don't want to do it any more. 

People panic at the sight of their gray hairs, thinking that means they’re old. Maybe if we let them appear gradually, as God intended, they wouldn’t be so hard to get used to.

Does gray hair mean old? I’ve known people in their twenties to get gray hairs and people in their seventies to not have any. Old is when you ask for a stepstool for your 30th birthday. When you sit on the shore instead of swimming. When you stop sledding or climbing trees. When you show up a half hour early for something to make sure you won’t be late. When the main topic of your conversations are your illnesses and injuries. When the number of things you won’t do because you might fall increases. Those things make you old, not gray hair.

So if you see me for the first time in awhile, I haven't aged alot, it just means that I'm finally looking my age (Keith is too for that matter but this is my story, not his) and it's time to change my five-year-old About Me picture.  

Saturday, December 3, 2011