Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Puritan Prayer

I approach thee with encouragements derived from thy character,
for I am not left to feel after thee
 in the darkness of my nature,
nor to worship thee as the unknown God.
I cannot find find out thy perfections,
but I know thou art good,
ready to forgive, plenteous in mercy.
Thou hast displayed thy wisdom, power,
and goodness in all thy works,
and hast revealed thy will in the Scripture of truth.
Thou has caused it to be preserved, translated,
published, multiplied,
so that all men may possess it and find thee in it.
Here I see thy greatness and thy grace,
thy pity and thy rectitude,
thy mercy and thy truth,
thy being and men's hearts;
Through it thou hast magnified thy name,
and favoured mankind with the gospel.
Have mercy on me, for I have ungratefully received thy benefits,
 little improved my privileges,
made light of spiritual things,
disregarded thy messages, contended with examples of the good,
rebukes of conscience, admonitions of friends,
leadings of providence.
I deserve that they kingdom be taken away from me.
 Lord, I confess  my sin with a feeling, lamentation,
a broken heart,
a contrite spirit, self-abhorrence,
self-condemnation, self-despair.
Give me relief by Jesus my hope, faith in his name of Saviour,
forgiveness by his blood,
strength by his presence,
holiness by his Spirit:  And let me love thee with all my heart.--The Valley of Vision

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Eating Grapes in Heaven

In the Wallowas spring comes late. I know this and yet every year hope but not spring is eternal within me.  There are many signs spring is lurking; yet, in my heart I know that more than likely it will pass and suddenly...summer.
One of the many signs that gives me a slight hope spring may be upon us is the Golden and Bald eagles, who gather together in a field--like a clatch of old gossiping women--fighting over a still glistening cow afterbirth. I've seen 6 to 8 of those magnificent birds at any one time there.
And on the prairie buttercups have been out for weeks, struggling to stay abloom despite the blasts of freezing winds and spitting snow showers.
The fact that the first batch of newly dropped calves here at Full Circle Ranch have been branded and are ready to go out on spring pasture tells me that a new season must be on its way. But you wouldn't know it by the temperatures here.
And then there's the fact that I meet myself coming and going. (That's always a sign of the season too.) I am too busy and it is a tired worn out excuse, I know. This spring is no different, except the added responsibility of teaching a literature class for the local Christian School Coop. In addition to that (and many other things) each Tuesday I take care of Christi's two youngest children so she also can teach at the Coop. It is a day I cherish and the reason I've suddenly shaken my writing lethargy to repeat a Bellaism (Isabella, my 5 year old granddaughter) uttered yesterday.
She informed me that if Mimi (my mother) died, it would be okay because:
She would go to heaven and eat grapes with God and drink the best wine.
If this is true, I believe my mother will be sorely disappointed...she does not drink wine, under any circumstances...
Now that I've conquered the white (as we writers say), did I ever tell you about the time in France when I had to climb over the wall of our 5 star Chateau in order to get back to our room for the night? NO?! Well, stay tuned...

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Ghost of Christmas Past

The aroma of steaming hot Chai floats out of my new "Olaf" Christmas mug, filling the kitchen with a warm and cozy feeling of all things winter. I lovingly grasp the handle of this handmade mug remembering its giver—Henry—my Secret Santa for Christmas 2010—now already just a memory. Having long been a fan of our own Wallowa County Ted Juve's famous pottery (Olaf), whose earthy creations depicts familiar county landscapes in his unique, fanciful way, I finally decided to ASK for it this Christmas rather than GIVE it again.  "Ask and you shall receive", I always say, as evidenced by the cherished mugs pictured! (Olaf Pottery is as much a part of Wallowa County as its mountains!)
Intermingled with the exotic tea spices in them are the smells of a hunk of left over prime rib in the crock pot, expertly prepared by Chef Zachary on the Traeger Bar B Q and smoker for our dinner Christmas day. I am hopeful it will soon become the stock for a very lovely French Onion soup, though at the moment its looking a little pale. Still, its smokey odor mingles with the spiced Chai, creating an exotic blend of smells and hunger pains.

Ahhhhhhhh, Life is good, I am thinking.

There is no sound in my house now except the one that comes from my new Nikon touch screen camera (a Christmas gift from Rahn), as I deftly click away trying to capture Christmas Past for this blog-- thus bringing to mind the chaos and din of only a few days ago.

Although I am sad the holiday has so quickly come and gone, I am still deliciously savoring (along with the Chai) the day ahead of me. This is the first day in a long time when I will finally be able to sit down in front of my computer to write with abandon and without guilt. I'm feeling so good, I may stay in my PJ's all day, doing just that!
Yet, thoughts of the past week still linger like the discarded pile of Christmas stockings before me, and I find it hard to believe just a few days ago our home looked like a hurricane went through it; and in a way, I guess it did! For the first time in a long time we had all four children, their spouses' and kids together here for the holidays.
 As you can see, the Christmas carnage lay strewn about like Santa-Gone-Wild. Never mind! The chaos only added to the contentment and satisfaction of knowing this mess was made by a growing and now very BIG family--one thoroughly human and yet divine. (At least, in the eyes of this beholder!) No doubt about it, Wallowa County is the place to be to feel the ultimate in Christmassy and close; and we did. Even my mother joined the happy throng this year.

Now my thoughts turn to 2011, approaching faster than a freight train. What will it bring for the Hostetter family? What goals and dreams are on the horizon—what trials? Where will we all be next Christmas; and better yet, will there be another little family member in the making?

But wait! What am I doing?? I just remembered I don't have to think today!
And so, I let out a long sigh and go back to simply being here in the moment, enjoying another sip of my Chai tea. I am realizing tomorrow will be soon enough to get back to reality.
And so it will!

~the end~

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Manifesto 2010

Welcome to the Hostetter Thanksgiving Manifesto 2010
I couldn't resist using this wonderful photo taken by friend *Jessica of Zac's beautiful family to illustrate the Thanksgiving Manifesto for 2010! (To see even more great photos be sure to jump over to that darling pinkpeppers girl blog.  You'll just love all their super posts http://www.pinkpeppers.com/)
And here's the line up of foods, decorations and activities for this year, hot off the press:
Food and Stuff
Appetizers-Marilyn and Rebecca Jo
*Organic Turkey (duh!)surrounded with roasted baby beets, Brussels sprouts and baby carrots-Becky
*Grannie Rices' Cornbread that'll Knock the Stuffin' Outta Ya!-Becky
Tart Cranberry Salad-Christi
*John Cope's Baked Corn Supreme-Becky
Marvelously Mashed Potatoes-Becky
Candied Sweet Potatoes-Marilyn
*Best-Ever Batter Bread-Christi
*Chocolate Truffle Pie-Christi
*Aunt Edna's Pumpkin Pie-Christi
Apple Cranberry Crumb Pie-Christi

The Recipes
Grannie Rices' Cornbread that'll Knock the Stuffin' out of Ya
5 C corn bread crumbled
2 eggs beaten
3/4 C onion
1/4 tsp salt and pepper
1 lb. sausage links
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 C chopped celery
 1 C. pecans1 cube bouillon 2/3 C water

Directions: Melt butter and saute onions and celery, set aside in a small bowl. Saute sausage. In a large bowl add salt, pepper and poultry seasoning to breads and then add eggs. Next, add the sauteed vegetables. Dissolve bouillon in 2/3 C hot water and add to stuffing mix. Mix sausage and pecans in and you are ready to stuff that bird.
*The Best Batter Bread
1 pkg yeast (2 T)-don't need to soak first if using Saf Yeast
1/2 C water
1 c warm milk
1/2 C butter (melted in milk)
1/4 C sugar
2 t salt
3 eggs
5 1/2-6 c flour
Directions: in bowl dissolve yeast, add milk, butter, sugar,salt and eggs. Add three cups flour, beat til smooth. Add enough to the rest of flour to make soft dough.  Cover and let rise for an hour(this dough does not need kneading) until doubled. Spoon into greased tube pan and let rise again.  Bake 400 for 25-30 minutes.
*Chocolate Truffle Pie
Crust-1 1/2 C flour
2 T sugar
1/2 t salt
1 stick cold butter, cut in small pieces
1-3 T ice-cold water
Filling-12 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped, or 1 bag bittersweet chocolate chips
1 stick butter, cut into small pieces
3 large eggs
3/4 C heavy cream
1/2 C sugar
2 t vanilla extract
1/2 t salt
Whipped Cream
1. Crust-In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Add water, 1 T at a time, pulsing until dough begins to come together.  On a lightly floured surface, shape dough into a 1 in thick disk. wrap in plastic and refrig at least 30 minutes or up to 3 days.
2. Heat oven to 350*
3. On a lightly floured surface, roll disk into a 13-in round.  Transfer to a 9 in pie plate, easing onto bottom and sides of the plate.  
4. Prick bottom of dough all over with a fork.  Refrig 15 minutes. Line dough with nonstick foil or parchment paper; fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until crust is firm, about 15 mins.  Remove foil and pie weights, return to oven and bake until crust is golden brown, 15 6o 20 mins more.  Let cool completely.
5. Filling-In a 2 qt heavy saucepan, melt chocolate and butter over medium-low heat, stirring, until smooth.  remove from heat and let cool for five minutes.
6. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, sugar, vanilla and salt.  Add the chocolate mixture, whisking until fully incorporated.  Scrape into cooled crust and bake until filling is puffed and set but the center still trembles slightly, 30 to 35 mins.  Let cool completely (filling will set as pie cools).  serve with whipped cream, if desired.
The "Plugs"
*Carrie Gerber's Organic chickens, turkeys, pork in Elgin, Oregon are wonderful!
*Thanks to Mick McDonald for her wonderful batter bread recipe.  With 5 small children she's the queen of easy yet, delicious!
*John Cope's Dried Corn Company,Farm Stand Foods LLC, PO Box 445,Hanover,PA. 17331.  This company is located in the heart of the Pensylvania Dutch Country and named after its owner, John Cope.  My late brother was an executive with John Cope, before forming his own company. This wonderful recipe is a staple at all our holiday feasts. Every year Mike made sure I had a case sent to me. One year, I shared it with my UPS driver, who now orders it on her own!
I especially love Baked Corn Supreme at Thanksgiving; I actually feel it's the closest we get to "being there" on that first Thanksgiving where the native's contribution to that feast was really dried corn!
*Hope Blooms Florals, Enterprise, OR
*Triple Toe Touch Photography (see Jessica Buck's Facebook page!)

The Table

                                          I recently found these lovely April Cornell bird motif napkins at a fraction
                                                        of the cost at good old T J Maxx!

*Hope Blooms Floral.  This little Enterprise
Company always finds the unique and unusual in her arrangements!
We also used these at Anna's baby shower--double duty!
I LOVE my feathered quail friends.  So did Boyfriend, who tried to "kill" them last year. So, I had to trudge back to Simply Sandy's and buy more for this season! These will get scattered between the fresh flower arrangements on a gold table cloth.

I've had these darling beaded acorn napkin rings for ages! 
It was, once again, a Simply Sandy find!  They go perfect with the napkins too.

Naturally, bird's nest name tags for the table!
Scored at "Let us Feather Your Nest" in Pendleton, Oregon.
The Activities

"Settlers of Catan"-award winning German board game and Hostetter addiction. (Played ad-nauseam during Anna and Henry's courtship!)
"Bang!"-A new top rated Italian board game, straight out of a Clint Eastwood "Spaghetti Western".  Its been dubbed highly addictive.  (We'll let you know after we've gotten a few rounds under our belt.)

Movie-"The Castle", a family favorite Australian-made comedy that accentuates the theme that a man's home, however humble,is his castle! (Disclaimer-bad language)

*Homemade Snow Globes by Martha Stewart
*How to Make a Snow Globe
Create a Winter Wonderland in a Jar
The shimmering magic of snowfall is always transfixing, whether it's outside your window or inside this classic toy. Homemade globes let you create a wintry scene straight out of your own imagination.
Almost any jar works for this project: Baby-food, pimiento, and olive jars are good choices. Look for plastic or ceramic figurines (metal ones are prone to rust) at flea markets and hobby or model-railroad shops. Synthetic evergreen tips are available at many floral-supply stores. You will also need oil-based enamel paint, sandpaper, epoxy, distilled water, glitter, and glycerin (available at drugstores).
Add Distilled Water and Glitter
If the jar lids are not in seasonal colors already, paint them with oil-based enamel paint. Sand the inside of the lid until the surface is rough. With clear-drying epoxy, adhere the figurine to the inside of the lid, and let the epoxy dry.
Fill the jar almost to the top with distilled water; add a pinch of glitter and a dash of glycerin to keep the glitter from falling too quickly. Don't add too much, or the glitter will stick to the bottom of the jar when it's flipped. Screw on the lid tightly, being careful not to dislodge the figurine. Turn the jar over and back again -- and let it snow.
Sledding, weather permitting
Colored Hand Turkeys

Happy Thanksgiving! From all of us, to all of you!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Words Fitly Spoken

Today I ordered four new books from Amazon.com. They were “The Secret Life of France”, by Lucy Wadham (I gave away my copy to a friend I met while in France, and I wanted another on hand.), “The Secret of the Seven Pillars” by Daniel A. Biddle, P.H.D., “Stepping Heavenward”, by Elizabeth Prentiss and “Laddie” by Gene Stratton Porter.
Yes sir, it’s a red letter day when I get to order books. I love hitting the ye olde 1 click button Amazon offers and seeing the words “this item has been placed in your cart”. I love the day the books arrive and I get to hear the sound of the knife slicing through the packing tape to open the box. And BEST OF ALL, I love the time when I can draw the bath, sink in--ear deep in bubbles--to start a new adventure in my life. I can travel anywhere in the world right from my bathtub. Ahhhhhhhh, Calgon, take me away.
By the way, have I ever told you about my great and long love affair with books? It started at a very tender age, I must say. I was never much of a school student (true story, don’t tell my kids, I have ‘em fooled!!); but for whatever reason, I was a strong reader. Often, my elementary school teacher would call on me (hand and arm stretched to the ceiling and wiggling vigorously) to read something aloud, which gave me great pride. I discovered I had a talent and was actually good at something in school, even though the rest of my formal education passed in a jumbled,  fuzzy haze.
I did not love school, but I loved reading so much, I would regularly go up to my bedroom on the third floor of our semi-detached Lancaster County, Pennsylvania home to practice reading out loud the same book--over and over and over. I worked on inflection, enthusiasm and diction as I read happily away.
The book of choice that became worn out due to my repetitious readings? Ferdinand the Bull, by Munro Leaf. And you know what? It’s still one of my all-time favorite children’s stories. (Little did I know, at the time, the strong Pacifistic themes presented within those child-like innocent pages. But never mind that! Learning to DISCERN and understand themes came later, much later.)

Through the years my passion and fervor for reading has only increased. And, thankfully, I am better at understanding themes and the author’s purpose for writing a particular book nowadays. I don’t remember who suggested it or why, but I do remember being encouraged by some sage person to reach for the classics. This further fueled my desire to understand the underlying themes of the author. I became enthralled with reading these tomes and other good stuff from the written page. I am still on that quest and I long ago realized I would not have time to read all the quality literature, let alone the junk. So, I better not waste my time on trash.
As the years passed, and I became a young married woman and mom, I was lead to a very special book by my old college roommate and now cousin-in- law, Susan Peterson Barley. This one book helped me to begin the journey of discernment when reading quality literature to my children, and it helped me to instill a love of learning in them. Reading aloud was a daily ritual during our homeschool years and I believe it drew us closer and made us more cohesive as a family. Our shared interests in great books were the glue.

Not surprising, today I still come back to that book time and time again called Honey for a Child’s Heart, by Gladys Hunt, now in its 5th edition in paperback. It’s a volume that every Christian mother should have on her shelf. Between its pages I discovered books like Granfa Grig Had a Pig (note to self, buy that again for my grandchildren), Across Five Aprils, The Bronze Bow, The Secret Garden, The Borrowers, Charlotte’s Web, Adam of the Road and the list goes on and on...
Hunt taught me a zillion things but especially that: “words fitly spoken, characters memorable, a theme to challenge the heart—this is what we want for children.” And, it’s still what I want for my children and  grandchildren.
So, if you’re in need of a little reading inspiration-- young or old--just jump onto Amazon, type in “Honey for A Child’s Heart” and hit ye olde 1 click button as soon as possible! You won’t be sorry—promise!

My daughter, Christi, carrying on the legacy of homeschooling and the love of great books. 
 Here, she's pictured with Merideth.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Les Fleuers

Though we've been home more than a month now, our memories of France are still fresh.  And none more so than les fleurs Francais! In every nook and cranny we encountered in the country of France there are flowers--beautiful and copious quantities of flowers.  They spill over windowsills, rock walls and terraces.  They wind their way up balconies and trellises and just about anywhere they can get a foot hold.  They grow up against old stone barns, Roman ruins, in cracks and crevices and are in pots of every color, shape and size.  They even adorn entrances of the most primitive latrines, are by garbage cans and are found in all manner of every out of  the way corner you can imagine. 
It is not by accident--all this beauty,  but rather a philosophy that permeates French culture.    According to *Lucy Wadham in her book "The Secret Life of France" the two most important ideals to the French people are pleasure/beauty and knowledge.  This, she says, is pursued more fervently than Truth or Duty.
Whether true or not, it certainly has had its effect on presentation and appearances in this fascinating country.  We never encountered one shop or cafe that wasn't simply exquisite.  Below, in amateur photo form, is just a small sampling of the beauty we have observed in our travels through Southwest France and Provence.
*Disclaimer:   While Wadham's book certainly gave a fascinating view of French life and thought, and helped validate what we saw and experienced,  I would not be able to recommend it due to its sexual content.

Loved their intertwining of fruits and vegetables in planters--here, Swiss Chard.

The French  art of window dressing--a
feast for the eyes! (You'd love it Lindsey!)

The French seem to find a wonderful balance
and playfulness of airiness, texture and lightness with colors--though hard
to capture on film.
 I saw so many wonderful containers I wanted to take home!

Notice the fresh flowers on our morning breakfast tray at
La Bonne Etape in Provence
Even amongst a coliseum's ruins a beautiful little cafe emerges in Orange!
A beautifully knotted bouquet of dried lavender adorns an entry
An all glass refrigerator showcases artfully
arranged foods at a  hotel where we stayed. 
Notice the rows of fromage blanc in darling small glass cups above!
A typical small grocery stand.
Fields and fields of sunflowers dot the Provence countryside.

Colorful French cafes--a dime a dozen!

A manicured terrace down to the water at Chateau de Losse (16th century) in Southwest France.
Driving through a small Southwestern village under a canopy of papery flowers
 that adorned everything during a special festival.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Day in the Life of Clara Bae Knecht or Oh Baby!

It's hard to believe that just a little over a week ago on a sunny and gorgeous Saturday morning a phone call came that changed our lives--again.
"Hi Mom," my youngest child, Anna, said. "I'm calling to ask if you can give me a recipe."
For the past few days she was in a flurry of cooking freezer meals, getting ready for the birth of her first child. Of course, I was more than happy to give her the recipe. After we finished that she said--ever so nonchalantly-- "Oh, by the way. I think I'm in labor. My contractions are about 10 minutes apart."
"What??!!" I pretty much yelled into the phone!! "Well, then I'm coming up there--right away!"

(Luckily, the night before Anna called saying she might be close, despite being two weeks out from her due date. I had my bags all packed ready to help during this first home birth experience.)
"Okay Mom, that would be great.  And would you mind bringing some extra pots and pans, just in case." 
At this point I asked where Henry was and could he get those pots and pans?  Not that I minded, but I didn't want her counting on me, considering I had a three hour drive to get there!  (It turns out Henry was at his folk's house helping them with a dry wall project.  I know Anna and I'm sure she minimized the whole thing.  Therefore, I suggested she might want to let him know he should come  home...like...NOW.  
In pretty short order (I admit, I was speeding) I arrived in Moscow, Idaho to a very tranquil and peaceful apartment where the two had everything all but in place (including those pots and pans) and ready to go.
Anna was having some pretty stiff contractions but she was handling it quite well.  I wasn't sure how I would feel watching my youngest child labor for her own child, but seeing the two of them so quiet and loving together gave me confidence I could do this if they could, I thought.
Well, that was a little naive on my part because at one point during the long night I had to leave the apartment.  It wasn't that the midwives weren't doing a good job--they were truly incredible--but Anna had plateaued at about 8 centimeters dilation and didn't seem to be progressing. Plus, she was experiencing extreme back labor. At that point, one of the midwives came into the kitchen to mix up a mild cocktail for Anna, which I really thought should have been for me!!
And still no change in her progress!
I never knew how hard it would be to sit back and let others make the decisions.  As a mom, I wanted to tell everyone it's time to go to the hospital.  As a mother-in-law, I knew it wasn't my place to intrude into their marriage and decisions.  So, I left and on my long walk I called my prayer partner, my dear and wise husband.  He prayed with me and gave me the perspective I very much needed.  After I hung up, I soon realized this was a matter of faith and I honestly felt a peace about the whole thing.  (It's amazing what prayer will do.)

Not long after, Anna did make progress, thanks to two wonderful midwives who knew what they were doing and who showed a huge sensitivity on how to help her.  In short order, she was able to start pushing.  And in just 25 minutes a new little baby  had come into the world--not crying but looking all around.  We were all pretty shocked when we found out they had a little girl, since Anna had convinced herself (and everyone else) sometime ago this was going to be a boy! Henry got to hold her soon after she debuted at exactly 11 PM.  (Everyone was hoping for a 10-10-10 baby, but I'm not sure Anna was willing to hold up the show at that point!!)

I got to spend an entire week in the Knecht home with a darling little girl named Clara Bae Knecht, who weighed in at 5 pounds 15 1/2 ounces and was 19 inches long.  I love both her names but especially her middle name.  Our daughter was named Bae Yun Mee in Korea and it means "Forever Beautiful".  We kept Bae as Anna's middle name and now Clara has it as her middle name as well.
This little doll has lots of hair--brown Henry hair--Anna's almond eyes and both her parent's sweet, laid back dispositions.  It doesn't appear that she has Anna's skin coloring, at least not yet. She rarely gets put in the bassinet and sleeps with them in what the midwives call "Kangaroo care" (on their tummy or close in bed).  
I am not sure what was more a blessing--helping to care for my daughter and that sweet babe for a week or experiencing a home that seems to exemplify unity, quiet and peacefulness.  In fact, their midwife (a pastor's wife), shared with me that any time she has couples in the church delivering with her she assures them that during transition anything said does not go back to the Elders! 

However, in the case of Henry and Anna she knew it wasn't necessary to say that.  And she was right.  All the way through their labor and delivery there was never anything but love and kindness displayed. (I remember transition and I can assure you, I wasn't nearly so nice!) 
Being there with them during the labor and the week following I had the privilege to watch them in action. Their home is a true reflection of Christ-like love and it was and is a joy for this proud mum to watch their wonderful little daughter grow up in that loving environment.
Now if I can only get them to move a little closer!

Friday, October 8, 2010

And the Winners Are!

Wow!  Thanks for the wonderful response to my free give away and for all of you who joined my blog.  You've inspired me to continue on and to deliver even better writing and better photos portraying this wonderful covenant life with its many facets and layers.  (Just so you know, in the months ahead I plan to do even more promos, so be sure to check back often.)
The give away is officially over and many of you will be receiving your freebies soon.  (Please give me some time to get it all packaged up and to work around a new grandbaby coming any day.  However, I will get it out as quickly as possible.)  If you haven't emailed me your address, please do so soon.
In the meantime, upcoming blogs will feature more of my French journals along with photos  (for those of you who asked), paired with some terrifically easy French recipes--perfect for the Fall season.
Happy weekend, mon ami!