Tag Archive | Autumn

Time for a Time Out

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When my kids were little, when I felt overwhelmed and pressured I would go into the bathroom and lock the door, just to be alone. As they pounded on the door, demanding to know why I was taking SO LONG, I would offer the excuse, “Mommy just has an upset tummy …” (small totally understandable white lie, right?).

It’s been a lot of years since then but the need to be alone once in a while persists. But the bathroom as a location for a personal retreat just doesn’t cut it anymore. ūüôā

Even though I am legitimately a people person, “alone” is where I do my best thinking, praying, reflecting, producing, and reprogramming. And boy, did I need it this month! So earlier this week I took myself on a little personal retreat (thank you to my husband and daughter who were so gracious to get along just fine without me for a few days!).

We have access to a condo at Mt. Hood, Oregon, a three-hour drive from our home. It was me, my computer, a few books and magazines, and a knitting project for my soon-to-be-born granddaughter. Long walks in the woods. A trip to the snow. Three days with no appointments with anyone other than God. It was glorious.

This was the path to the river, right outside my doorstep:

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I sure don’t have these moments on a daily basis! The refreshment to the soul is priceless. I took smooth stones from the river, wrote my kids’ names on them with Sharpie marker, and brought them home to keep in a dish on my desk for little prayer reminders and a memento of my retreat.

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I drove a half-hour to the Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood where I parked myself at what was obviously an anointed desk near the window (See top picture above; I can’t believe I caught this image with just my phone!) to work and look out at the snow. I took work with me because part of my purpose was to FOCUS … and to get some traction on a few editing projects I was struggling to stay on top of at home. It was SO MUCH MORE PLEASANT in this inspiring environment!

 

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It was surprising to me, how productive I was, and yet how refreshed and re-invigorated, on my little “working personal retreat.” I did the things “I” wanted to do. Not having the TV on (as it often is in my house when the family is around) was peace to my nerves. Spending some time in prayer, talking with God about my family, my work, and some friends who are going through hard times. Listening to classical music and working on a knitting project or perusing cooking magazines and planning my holiday baking and menus. Swimming laps in the cold air at the end of each day, in a heated pool with steam rising into the dark autumn sky. Wow, I actually liked spending time with … me!

The last day of my retreat I received an email in my inbox from a friend whose blog that day just happened to be why we need personal retreats from time to time!¬† It’s well-worth a read. And, if prayer is what you want to focus on, on your own retreat, my friend Cynthia Bezek has written a book called Come Away with Me that will help you do it. She has certainly been an inspiration to me in that department.

I am home again and back to reality, feeling on top of things and much refreshed. I think I’m much better for my little “time out,” and I hope my family agrees!

 

 

 

 

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Why So Thankful, Charlie Brown?

The morning after.

(Thanksgiving, I mean.)

Coffee with eggnog. Yesterday’s cinnamon rolls followed by warmed-up apple pie (a nutritious breakfast). Add to it pancakes made of fried leftover mashed potatoes, bacon, and maque choux (Don’t worry about trying to pronounce it. It’s a Cajun dish made with corn and fresh tomatoes… it’s delicious!). With a little fried turkey topped with cranberry sauce on the side.¬† Num!

But that’s not what I’m mostly thankful for.

We watched the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special this morning, too. As they’re walking along, Charlie Brown’s little sister Sally says, “What’s Thanksgiving got to do with us?¬† What do WE have to be thankful for?”

Let me answer your question, Sally.

We are thankful for ABUNDANCE. For FREEDOM. For being able to live in a country that was founded on a fundamental FAITH in the power and enduring truths of God (even though we’ve not done the greatest job of sticking to them!). We will never know how many ways that foundation has permeated our daily lives and influenced the freedoms and abundant blessings we enjoy (… that is, until we lose them!).

On a personal level, I am thankful for a FAMILY who loves God and each other and loves being TOGETHER. Who love to LAUGH and have FUN¬† and enjoy LIFE and FOOD(!) together.¬† I am thankful for God’s PROVISION and PRESENCE in our lives. I am thankful for SATISFYING WORK that I love and wonderful FRIENDS to do life together with. I am thankful for JOY and PEACE and FAITH and HOPE that passes understanding, and always keeps me looking UP.

What has Thanksgiving got to do with US? A chance to pause and reflect on what’s important. What counts. What lasts. And Where it all comes from.

And give Thanks.

What are you thankful for?

DIY “St_rb_cks” Pumpkin Scones

Just great.  The sun did not come out ONCE yesterday in the Pacific Northwest. At least, not in my corner of it, anyway.

Fall is certainly upon us.

To console myself in the absence of sunshine, my thoughts turn to … food. (They don’t call it “comfort food” for nothing.)

Top of my list in the autumn?¬† Pumpkin Scones.¬† Mmmm…

But in these current economic times, who can afford to hit Starbucks every morning?¬† Not me.¬† So, here’s the next best (even better!) thing:¬† DIY ( Do It Yourself)!

If my family doesn’t gobble them up first, I store¬† ’em in the freezer in individual ziploc bags and pop them in the microwave (briefly) when I want a warm one with a cup of¬† coffee.

Maybe it’s not quite as comforting as a warm summer day.¬† But equally satisfying in its own way.

If you try them, let me know what you think.¬† Hope you like ’em!

DIY PUMPKIN SCONE RECIPE

6-12  scones (depending on how you cut them)

Scones

  • 2¬†cups all-purpose flour
  • 7¬†tablespoons sugar
  • 1¬†tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2¬†teaspoon salt
  • 1/2¬†teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2¬†teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4¬†teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4¬†teaspoon ground ginger
  • 6¬†tablespoons cold¬†butter
  • 1/2¬†cup canned pumpkin
  • 3¬†tablespoons half-and-half
  • 1¬†large egg

Powdered Sugar Glaze

  • 1¬†cup powdered sugar
  • 1¬†tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 2¬†tablespoons whole milk

Spiced Glaze

  • 1¬†cup powdered sugar
  • 3¬†tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 2¬†tablespoons whole milk
  • 1/4¬†teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8¬†teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1¬†pinch ginger
  • 1¬†pinch ground cloves

TO MAKE THE SCONES:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or spray with non-stick spray.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices in a large bowl. Cut butter into the dry ingredients until mixture is crumbly and no chunks of butter are obvious. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, half and half, and egg. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Form the dough into a ball.
  4. Pat out dough onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a 1-inch thick rectangle (about 9 inches long and 3 inches wide). Use a large knife or a pizza cutter to slice the dough twice through the width, making three equal portions. Cut those three slices diagonally so that you have 6 triangular slices of dough. Place on prepared baking sheet. (Note: I cut them in half again and make 12.¬† Otherwise they’re HUGE!)
  5. Bake for 12-14 minute or until scones begin to turn light brown. Place on wire rack to cool.
  6. TO MAKE THE PLAIN GLAZE:.
  7. Mix the powdered sugar and 2 tbsp milk together until smooth.
  8. When scones are cool, use a brush to paint plain glaze over the top of each scone.
  9. AS THAT WHITE GLAZE FIRMS UP, MAKE THE SPICED ICING:.
  10. Combine the ingredient for the spiced icing together. Drizzle this thicker icing over each scone and allow the icing to dry before serving (at least 1 hour). A squirt bottle works great for this, or you can drizzle with a whisk.  (Note: I put the icing in a small, plastic ziploc bag and cut the teeniest tip off with scissors, and use it as a decorator bag. I think that works best.)