Friday, July 29, 2011

Bourton-on-the-Water, Lower Slaughter

'The Venice of the Cotswolds'

Staying at a B&B in Cirencester, it wasn't very far to drive to Bourton-on-the-Water and the Slaughters (Upper and Lower). The hostess at our B&B pronounced Bourton-on-the-Water in the prettiest, lilting manner. I'll never forget it. I'm sure I once saw her in a Miss Marple movie!

Another postcard-perfect Cotswold village

Bourton-on-the-Water, like all the Cotswold villages, glows with the beauty of golden limestone buildings. The river Windrush flows through the village and can be crossed by beautiful limestone bridges. (Even newly-contructed buildings are made with the same type of limestone and will soon look like they've been there for years.) Even in March, the village was busy, but nothing compared to the crowds we would have encountered later in the spring or summer.

ducks on the river

Just beyond the bridge was a little bakery.
I think I'll always prefer a Cadbury Dairy Milk Hazelnut bar to any pastry.

Mrs. Mallard

It was near Bourton-on-the-Water where we missed our second sign post (the one that would have kept us on the public footpath) and ended up in a pasture that was not part of the walk.

Just up the road at Lower Slaughter

 The mill at Lower Slaughter
(the name referring to a slough, or wet land, not violence)

My summer home in Lower Slaughter
Just beyond that gate are the German Shepherds.


Have a great weekend, everyone!


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Creation and Subcreation

After granddaughter Lydia left yesterday, I walked into the kitchen to find this on the kitchen counter.

'Dear Sir,' I said - 'Although now long estranged,
Man is not wholly lost nor wholly changed.
Dis-graced he may be, yet is not de-throned.
and keeps the rags of lordship once he owned:
Man, Sub-creator, the refracted Light
through whom is splintered from a single White
to many hues, and endlessly combined
in living shapes that move from mind to mind.
Though all the crannies of the world we filled
with Elves and Goblins, though we dared to build
Gods and their houses out of dark and light,
and sowed the seed of dragons - 'twas our right
(used or misused). That right has not decayed:
we make still by the law in which we're made.'
- J.R.R. Tolkien

'One could say of a story or a chapter that it is just marks on paper. One could support this conclusion by minute study of the chemical and spectrographic properties of the object in question, buttressed by so many footnotes that it began to look like a proof. But no matter how impressive, this analysis will never be accepted as complete by anyone who has read the words and found inspiration or a message worth receiving there.

'Now contrast the story with a piece of paper on which ink has been spilled. That object IS reducible to marks on paper. The difference between the two is precisely the action of a creator. As a result of the absence or presence of such action, one object is an accident, the other an artifact. If we insist on treating the artifact as an accident, if we refuse to recognize any distinction between accidents and artifacts as even potentially valid because we have denied the possibility of a creator, we will never be able to understand the story.

'So we see that one who does not believe in creators (and hence in artifacts) is forced to be a reductionist, to treat and understand the story as if it were only an accidental and hence arbitrary inkblot. If our worldview precludes the possibility of a Creator, it must therefore preclude creators as well. And this is exactly the approach that secular thought is perforce committed to by its nature.

'The story has a real, nonarbitrary meaning that goes beyond its physical properties because the act of creation ties it to something bigger than it is - the author...

'So Tolkien is saying that human beings themselves are like the story, not the inkblot. Human beings are creatures who can write irreducible stories (either on paper or in the medium of their lives) because they derive their own irreducibility from the Creator. In Tolkien's language, they make because they are made.'

-Mere Humanity

' For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.' - Romans 1:19

'For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.'   - John 3:16-17

'Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him. - John 3:36


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fresh Peach Pie - Recipe

Peach Pie (Warm!) and Vanilla Ice Cream

Last week I threatened to make a peach pie. Remember? Well, my neighbor called me today to ask if she could borrow my pastry blender. She was going to bake a peach pie. So, I took the pastry blender to her, got a nice cup of coffee and a good visit in exchange, along with the inspiration to come home and bake a pie with those peaches that were sitting on my kitchen counter!

Fresh Peach Pie - Recipe (with butter crust)

Recipe for two-crust 10" pie:
2 c. flour
1 t. salt
2/3 c. soft (but not melted) butter
1/3 c. cold water

Using a pastry blender, hand blend flour, salt, and butter until it's very fine and crumbly. Sprinkle cold water throughout, using a fork to fluff and mix. Be careful to not overmix. Mold into a large ball and wrap in plastic wrap until you're ready to put the crust into the 10" pie plate.

I used 14 small peaches, but the recipe originally called for 11 peaches. Skin peaches, take out pit, and slice peaches into a bowl. Sprinkle in 1/2 c. sugar (original recipe called for 1 1/4 c. sugar, but that seemed like an awful lot). Mix in 1 t. lemon juice and 1/4-1/2 t. cinnamon.

Cover rolling pin with a rolling pin stocking to make it easier to roll crust. Divide dough ball in two and roll out bottom crust on a floured surface. Move to pie plate.

Pour filling into pie plate.

Roll out top crust and place on top of peaches in pie plate. Cut vents into the top crust. Cut excess crust from pie and crimp the edges.

Cover edges with strips of aluminum foil and place pie in 425 degree oven.
Bake for 40 minutes.
Remove aluminum foil and bake another 13-14 minutes.

Remove pie to rack to cool..

Right. Those are apples. My taste buds didn't know the difference!
I had to try out that little plastic press that I had found at the thrift store (for 25 cents).

Cut pie, add vanilla ice cream.

Thanks to Bethany, I will never again make a pie crust with shortening. Butter is so much better and doesn't make the pie stick to the pie plate after all (contrary to an old Danish myth).

Adjustment:  I actually used 3 c. flour and 1 c. butter and 1 1/2 t. salt to make the crust so that I would have plenty of leftover crust to put on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with cinnamon (and sugar, if you want) and bake about 10 minutes. Nice extra treat!

This post is linked to: Making the World Cuter Mondays and Something I Whipped Up Monday and  Motivate Me Monday and Making Monday Marvelous and Made from Scratch Tuesday and Delectable Tuesday and Anything Related Tuesday and Take a Look Tuesday and Tasty Tuesday  and Tasty Tuesday and  Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays  and Wandering Wednesday and What's Cookin' Wednesday and We Did it Wednesday and Thrilling Thursday and Lisa's Gluten-Free Blog and Favorite Things Friday and I'm Lovin' it Friday and It's a Hodgepodge Friday  and Fat Camp Friday and Fun With Food Friday

Warm, fresh peach pie!!
Nothing better.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Peach Handcrafted Soap

'Just Peachy' Handcrafted Soap

The next best thing to a slice of warm peach pie is this lightly-scented, but definitely peachy, soap for the shower or bath. It is one of the most delicious fragrances!

Made with quality oils, peach fragrance oil, and an all-natural colorant, Just Peachy is sure to please. Wonderful lather and scent! Like the fragrance that hits you when you've just bitten into a fresh peach!

Ingredients: Coconut oil, Olive oil, Soybean oil, Palm oil, Corn oil, Fragrance oil, All-natural botanicals, Distilled water, Sodium hydroxide

Note: Each soap is approximately 4 oz.

Price per bar: $4.50

Shipping within the U.S. only. 

To view and/or order any of my handcrafted soaps, click on the Soap'n'Such link below.

Be sure to see my 'Buy Five - Get One Free' offer! :-)


Friday, July 22, 2011

Henry & Wallace & Grommit


We interrupt today's post to bring you this latest giggle:

His mama writes, 'Henry laughs as he watches "Wallace & Gromit : A Close Shave;" the scene wherein the porridge machine malfunctions & covers Wallace in mush. this is the third viewing of this scene in a row; the first time, he was belly-laughing the entire time. he's not even eleven months old; HOW DOES HE KNOW THIS IS FUNNY?!?!?!'


Haying in NW Wisconsin in July

July Sky

Have a great weekend, everyone!


Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Technology Trap

Just last week I was watching an old episode of Connections with James Burke. He was talking about the technology trap that we humans have set for ourselves. The Northeast Blackout of 1965 is a good example of what happens when we, who have become dependent upon technology, suddenly experience a snag. Wikipedia article, 'Over 30 million people and 80,000 square miles were left without electricity for up to 12 hours.'

On Tuesday evening, we saw by the radar map on, that we were under a tornado warning and that at least a severe thunderstorm was headed our way. We took the dogs to the basement, then waited out the storm there. A couple unwanted box elder trees, along with lots of little branches and leaves were strewn about the yard, there was a torrential downpour, and then about 7:30 the power suddenly went out.

All quiet.

No computer.
No printer.
No scanner.
No TV.
No radio.
No lights.
No fan.
No refrigerator.
No freezer.
No microwave.
No washer.
No dryer.
No AC.
No flushing toilets. (We have our own well and the water pump runs on electricity of course).

The storm eventually passed (the electricity was still out) and we went back upstairs, lit the oil lamps, opened the windows so the hot breeze could come in, and waited until it was time to go to bed. It was so deathly silent that I couldn't get to sleep. At 1:30 I moved to a different bedroom. I petted the cats. I waited for morning.

At 2:30 a light flashed across the wall of the upstairs bedroom where I was lying. I heard the low, soft  growl of a diesel engine. Someone was turning around in our driveway. I figured the linemen were out working on our transformer.

For the next hour, Glen Campbell was in my brain whining, 'I am a Lineman for the County.' I tried to figure out why he was a lineman for the county and not for the electric company. I guessed that 'electric company' had too many syllables.

At 3:30 AM, there was suddenly light and air conditioning! We got up, closed the windows. and waited for the house to cool off. It was wonderful!

That power outage was only 8 hours, and most of them were during the night.

As appealing as it is to wear long, black dresses and stockings (and bonnets) on a sweltering summer day, I've decided not to become Amish after all. Then again, the technology they have to worry about is a faulty hitch on their buggy.

The power outage was a good time to reflect upon this 'technology trap' that James Burke was talking about. It's true. We are so dependent upon technology and never expect to have to do without it.

I don't know how long the people of Joplin, MO were without power, but imagine if the power went out next week and we didn't know when it would return. Do we know how to survive? What are some things we need to learn to do? What are some things we need to keep on hand for emergencies? I was glad I'd just filled a two-liter bottle with water, for the first thing that happens when we have a power outage is that I get thirsty.

If we're so smart, why have we set this trap for ourselves?

Technology is wonderful, but can we survive without it?

What do you think?

P.S. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that our youngest son can't survive without Facebook or texting, let alone electricity! Just sayin.' He might say that his mother can't survive without blogging. Then again, I suspect he's not even aware of the fact that I have a blog.

P.S. Please tell Glen Campbell to get out of my brain. ♫


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Glory of God

'God's great design in all His works is the manifestation of His own glory. Any aim less than this would be unworthy of Himself.

But how shall the glory of God be manifested to such fallen creatures as we are? Man's eye is not single in its focus; he always has a side glance toward his own honor, has too high an estimate of his own powers, and so is not qualified to behold the glory of the Lord. It is clear, then, that self must stand out of the way, that there may be room for God to be exalted. And this is the reason why He often brings His people into straits and difficulties, that, being made conscious of their own folly and weakness, they may be fitted to behold the majesty of God when He comes to work their deliverance.' (Read more...)

From Truth for Life Daily


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake Recipe

I would hate to have to admit how many times in my adult life I've started and then stopped counting calories. So over the course of many years, I've had little notebooks with the first several (or first few, or maybe just one) page(s) filled with a food journal...until the inevitable occurred- I got sick and tired of it. The 'sick and tired of it' phase seems to come sooner and sooner as I get older.

Well, for the past several months (mostly during the long Wisconsin winter) I've not done that. No little notebook. No jotting down what I eat. No obsession with calories. I am no longer a slave to the food journal. I've gained freedom at last...

...and five additional pounds to go with it.

How did this happen???

As they say in Weight Watchers, so others tell me, it had to do with portion control.

Take this strawberry shortcake, for example. I made delicious shortcakes, picked those wee little succulent strawberries, warm from the garden, and made a scrumptious dessert. I wanted to make sure I wouldn't get too full from supper to have my dessert, so yes, I ate my dessert first. I mean, it WAS the first strawberry shortcake I've had in years. And every bite was an amazing treat to my tastebuds! Amazing!

Because I didn't have any milk in the house, but had Half'n'Half, I used that in the recipe instead.

When I had finished eating my dessert, I decided, just for fun, to add up all the calories in the ingredients that went into making it, then dividing by 6 (for that's what I had eaten.) My daughter once told me to never look at the calorie content after eating something, cuz it's just depressing. I should have taken her advice.

It was almost 400 calories for that one piece of dessert! FOUR HUNDRED. Was it worth it? Well, maybe, yeah, but I decided that next time I'll wait until I have skim milk in the house AND I'll make 10 biscuits with the amount of dough, rather than only 6. That will take the calories down to 277 per serving. Isn't that better!

Of course one could always just eat the strawberries, which hardly have any calories at all, but at least once per summer, I'm going to eat a real shortcake with its delicious crunchy exterior and tender interior, where the juice from the strawberries soaks into the biscuit...

I can do without the whipped cream, but to serve company, I might have made whipped cream also.

Strawberry Shortcake Recipe:

(Makes 10, reluctantly)

1 Qt. fresh, ripe strawberries
1/4 c. sugar

2 1/4 c. flour
2 T. sugar
1/3 c. shortening
1 egg
2/3 c. skim milk (or maybe whole milk)

Wash and remove stems from strawberries, and slice. Mix in the 1/4 c. sugar. (Don't even bother to talk to me about fake sugar.) Set aside while baking biscuits.

Mix flour and sugar. Cut in shortening (a necessary ingredient, but did you know that it has 120 calories PER TABLESPOON???) until crumbs are very fine.  Make a well in the center of the crumbs and pour in 1 beaten egg mixed with 2/3 c. skim milk. Mix with a fork just until mixed. Don't overmix. It will make the biscuit tough.

Divide into 10 equal parts and drop onto a greased cookie sheet.

Bake at 425 degrees F. (220 C.) for 12 minutes (in my oven.) I'd suggest checking them after 10 minutes. The outside should be firm to the touch and crisp with golden peaks. Let cool a couple minutes on pans, then remove to a plate, split open the biscuit, and fill with sliced strawberries. Spoon additional berries on top.

You'll thank me.

Nutrition: 1 serving, includes the strawberries: 277 calories
I know there are antioxidants in the strawberries, so the biscuit is mostly a delicious strawberry holder.

The biscuits are a lot like scones

Even the memory of it...sigh!

And tonight there's a basket of ripe peaches on my kitchen counter.
Now I'm thinking about warm, homemade peach pie.  
Just one little piece...

P.S. Happy Birthday, Son #1



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