Sunday, October 31, 2010

Butternut Squash Cake recipe

I submitted this recipe to The Leader for the annual recipe contest this year - I haven't heard back, so I guess once again I will not be a finalist.  I don't know if I will torture myself like this again next year.

Anyway.. this is a great recipe to use up some of those butternut squash for something other than autumn porch decorations!  It is incredibly easy to make, and is delicious, if I do say so myself!  It is such a pretty reddish-orange color - just perfect for fall! 


2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
4 eggs
2 cup flour
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp baking soda
1 cup vegetable oil (I used ½ cup unsweetened applesauce and ½ cup oil to reduce fat)

2 cup butternut squash

Cook and mash the butternut squash - I cut it up and microwave it if I am in a hurry, otherwise you can bake it - the results have been the same both ways (you can also use frozen). Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Pour into greased and floured 9x13 pan. Bake 350 for 45-50 minutes. Allow to cool before frosting.


8 oz cream cheese (I used 1/3 reduced fat and it was fine), room temperature
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 lb (2 cups) powder sugar (I cut this to 1 cup powder sugar and it was fine, just thinner)

Mix together cream cheese, butter and vanilla until creamy. Add the sugar ¼ cup at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Enough to frost top of cake generously.

I am going to try making this in a bundt cake pan this week, and making a thinner icing and just doing a glaze for a change.  We'll see how that turns out!

Sunday, Sunday....

I love Sundays, though I tend to not get much rest!  My deer hunters showed up about 1:30 a.m., so it was a groggy crew that drove off to Bloomsdale Baptist Church this morning.  Excellent sermon from Pastor Erik Bird - he examined the historical background of The Reformation, then discussed the Five Solas - Sola Scriptura, Solas Christos, Solo Gratia, Sola Fide, Sola Deo Gloria (scripture alone, Christ alone, grace alone, faith alone, God's glory alone - don't flame me if my latin is innaccurate!). 

He then challenged us - Are we drifting from the solas of the Reformation?  Are we so familiar with our Bibles that we KNOW what they say, that we can confront false, man-made doctrine - or are we blown this way and that on the doctrines of "personal experience".  Is the God we worship the true God of the Bible, or one we have made up?

Pet peeve alert - when a Christian (or anyone else!) says, when confronted with the God of scripture, "Well, MY God would never do that!"  Your God?  Your God is probably a small "g" god if you get to define him. 

Anyway, moving right along...tonight is the Fall Festival at Faith Baptist Church.  Joe is dressing up as Indiana Jones, Henry is a Power Ranger.  I am the mom carrying plates of cookies for the cake walk (I didn't have any cake pans, the cookies will be fine!) and following them around.  My hunters will be watching NASCAR and maybe wandering down to their stands on our property.  Ben sighted a large buck near the tree fort a few weeks ago. 

Planning out the rest of my week, trying to finish ONE MORE book to add to my list for October - which will be posted tomorrow sometime!

Have a glorious Sabbath, and Reformation Day, everyone!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Laying about kind of weekend

I almost never have a "lazy" weekend - usually we have projects going on - if nothing else, there is always big housecleaning to do! But this weekend the big guys are deer hunting and the littles and I are just enjoying ourselves. Yesterday we went to the Missouri Botanical Gardens on a homeschool field trip with 50 of our closest friends. Last night we ate White Castles for dinner (regrets, regrets!). Then we all curled up on comforters on the floor and watched movies. I finally got up and went to bed about midnight, they slept in the living room all night.

Today - more movies, I am going to switch out the closets, play on the internet, put together our menu for next month, plan my week...bake some cookies for the Fall Festival at Faith Baptist Church tomorrow night, prepare ourselves for worship at Bloomsdale Baptist Church in the morning..and pray for the guys to get a couple of deer! Our freezer is bare, we need to re-stock!

This morning the furnace kicked on - that just added to the whole "cozy at home" feeling. Looking forward to the rest of the day here in the forest!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Why I Read What I Read

I feel like when you publish a list of what you read, you are almost publishing your soul. I read a lot (okay, a WHOLE lot!). I read for education and for information - but mainly, I read for entertainment. Hence the long lists of murder mysteries. Now, acknowledging that I read murder mysteries and other fiction (not all of which is "Christian") does open me up to comments about whether or not a professing Christian should read fiction at all. There are some who say you shouldn't. There are others who think that their reading, ie, thought life (and what they watch on tv, etc.) has no bearing on their walk with the Lord.

I am going to disagree with both points. I think it is okay to participate in secular reading, based on my own convictions of the Holy Spirit. And I do believe that the Spirit convicts on these things. Case in point - I used to read what I call "gory murder mysteries" - Kate Scarpetta, Alex Cross, etc. The sex and violence were graphic. I didn't think anything of it - it is just fiction, right? About ten years ago, I was reading an Alex Cross mystery, and suddenly it just hit me - why would I put these images into my mind? I mean, why at all? There was nothing edifying about this book. There was nothing even fun - it was a bloody, gory murder. Since then, I have put them aside. I have done the same with "historical romances" that include graphic sex as part of the story - even if the characters are married. To me, it was basically soft-core porn. Some of it has been hard - I really LOVED the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. And it was really easy to make this decision not to read any more....once the series was over. And it takes years for her to publish a book.

Then the next episode came out. In defense, I will note that her books are exceptionally well-written, and the characters of Clare and Jamie can really suck you into their world. But....the books are sexually graphic. So, I got on the list for it at the library. No one would know but me and the librarians, right? And they won't tell. It was a long wait for it. And then I got the email that it was on hold for me. Planned my day around driving to the library (about 20 miles) to get it. And I....called the library and told them to give it to the next person. I couldn't do it.

Now, this is not a condemnation on anyone who does read Diana Gabaldon, or any of the other books I've mentioned. Each of us has to deal with that as individuals. There are certainly those who would say that I am stepping over a line by reading Agatha Raisin and Hamish Macbeth mysteries. I can couch that by saying the murders are generally glossed over, and the focus is on the detective story, and they are usually funny (being set in small English villages). Or that I should not read anything where there is some profanity. Well, maybe. But right now I can enjoy a good story and my mind doesn't stay focused on an occassional cuss word. If I pick up a new author and find the book filled with profanity, then I will put it back. Generally that kind of writing won't hold my interest, anyway.

If you look at my lists, you'll see that I read a lot of family/homeschooling books, some years a lot about food, a lot of cozy mysteries, and quite a bit of "light" theology. I try to take time to spend in the Bible each day, I read a lot of Christian magazines, homeschool magazines and devotionals as well. And of course, I do read The Leader every week (gotta know what my neighbors are up to!).

So, this has probably gone way past the point where your eyes have glazed over, but if you have stuck it out this long, thank you and your comments are appreciated!

Reading logs - July - September

I have not been too keen on keeping the blog updated! Another of the problems with my Facebook addiction, I guess! But I wanted to get this posted, and later today I am going to try to post on why I have given up Facebook (probably not forever, but definitely for now) and why I read what I read.


45. Arctic Homestead – 5 – Norma Cobb and Charles W. Sasser – the story of young family with 5 children who settle in Alaska in the mid-70s. Great story of courage, family love, adventure and faith. Much, much, much better than I was expecting. Highly recommend.

46. Death of a Cad: A Hamish Macbeth Mystery – 4.5 – M.C. Beaton – 2nd in the series – really enjoy these murder mysteries. Light, but more in the tradition of Agatha Christie than some of the newer ones – ie, there is no “catch” – no recipes, or knitting or tea as a theme.

47. Too Many Crooks Spoil the Broth – 2.5 – Tamar Myers – yuck. Mennonite woman running a bed and breakfast with her slutty sister. Characters may be quirky, but they are not funny/charming/endearing. Only even had 3 or 4 recipes. I question a mystery that when whodunit is revealed there are either so many coincidences or it is so convoluted that I can’t really understand it. In a political espionage thriller, maybe. In this? It should all fit together pretty easily. Will not bother with the rest of the series.

48. Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death – 4.5 – M.C. Beaton – a nice bounce back! I liked this much more than I expected! Agatha is in her early 50s and is a self-made woman. She is also rude, thoughtless, driven. She has always dreamed of owning a cottage in the Cotswolds (England) and she sells her London firm, takes an early retirement and heads to a small village to fit in. She is a complete “fish out of water” – and finds herself caught up in a murder mystery. I have heard other people say they don’t like this series because Agatha is so abrasive, but I am holding out hope for her – and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I may even like her better than Hamish Macbeth.

49. Brokeness: The Heart God Revives – 3.5 – Nancy Leigh DeMoss – part of the Revive Our Hearts series. Pretty good, I don’t think I was focused enough to really get the full impact of it. It will be re-read.

50. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd – 5 – Agatha Christie – wow! This was definitely one of the best whodunits I have ever read – I admit that I had a few moments when I thought I knew who the murderer was, but it was always, “Nah, it couldn’t be.” But it was……If you never read any other Christie, read this one.

51. Agatha Raisin and the Vicious Vet – 4.75 – M.C. Beaton – even better than the first – I love unlovable Agatha!

52. The Prophet of Yonwood: The Third Book of Ember – 4 – Jeanne DuPrau – a “prequel” to City of Ember – tells what is going on in the world that leads to the building of Ember. Actually pretty thought provoking. In the small town of Yonwood, a woman has a stroke and sees a fiery vision. A self-appointed disciple declares her a prophet, and begins telling the citizens what they have to do to protect themselves from coming disaster, “interpreting” garbled phrases from the prophet. The god that they establish and try to serve is a good example of the idolatry of legalism. Also shows the folly of creating a god (“My god would never do that, etc.”) instead of serving the true God.

53. Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener – 4 – M.C. Beaton not quite as good as the first two, but still a fun, quick mystery.

54. Lottie Moon: Giving Her All for China (Christian Heroes: Then and Now series) – 4 – Janet and Geoff Benge – very good junior bio – went into a lot of detail about how the Southern Baptist International Mission Board was formed, and how it (didn’t) work – missionaries committed to serve for life, unless their health was completely broken. No furloughs. Besides her battles with the Convention, her incredible work and sacrifice for the people of China is a wonderful story.

55. Agatha Raisin and the Walkers of Dembley – 4 – Still good enough to read in 24 hours! These are just such fun mysteries – I love Agatha – she has a terrible personality, and always gets herself into situations because of her ego.

56. Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage – 4.25 – Parts of this were laugh-out-loud funny. Another 24 hour read. I love Agatha, I just really do.


57. Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist – 3.75 – not as good as the others. I like stories where she is in the village, in this she is in North Cyprus, with new characters. Just don’t care for them. And, she is on the re-bound and gets herself into a mess with another man. Blech. Oh well, there are plenty more in the series!

58. Agatha Raisin and the Wellspring of Death – 3.5 – this one wasn’t too great, either. Still love Agatha. Got herself into another mess with another man. Don’t care for that. I still love her, flaws and all.

59. Agatha Raisin and the Wizard of Evesham – 4 – much better.

60. Agatha Raisin and the Witch of Wyckhadden – 4 – Agatha gets herself into too many problems with men, as far as I am concerned. But still, a pretty good mystery.

61. Agatha Raisin and the Fairies of Fryfram – 4

62. Agatha Raisin and the Love From Hell – 4.25

63. Agatha Raisin and the Day the Floods Came – 4.25

64. Agatha Raisin and the Case of the Curious Curate – 4

65. Agatha Raisin and the Haunted House – 4

66. Season of Change: Parenting Your Middle Schooler with Passion and Purpose – 3 – Rebecca Ingram Powell – pretty disappointing. Author spoke about her struggles in middle school (personally, I think that anyone who doesn’t shudder when they hear the words “7th grade” is in denial) and the hints and tips for raising a middle schooler. I thought that since it was prominently featured in a homeschooling magazine, that it would be about homeschooling a middle schooler, but it wasn’t at all. Just a lot of parenting tips. She writes a column for Lifeway’s “ParentLife” magazine, and that is what it reminded me of – a compilation of magazine articles. I will hang on to it, and re-read it again sometime, give it a second chance.

67. The Deadly Dance: An Agatha Raisin Mystery – 3 – Agatha starts her own detective agency – this is my least favorite so far – a lot of coincidences needed to keep the mystery going, and too many plot lines. Next one will be better!

68. What Is a Healthy Church? – 4 – Mark Dever – part of the 9Marks series. A good read for this time in my life, looking at the marks of a healthy church, what a church is and isn’t.

69. The Perfect Paragon: An Agatha Raisin Mystery – 4 – much better. The new characters in her detective agency are starting to gel.

70. Love, Lies, Liquor: An Agatha Raisin Mystery – 4.25 – now we are getting somewhere. Agatha is finally starting to show some backbone about the men in her life.


71. Kissing Christmas Goodbye: An Agatha Raisin Mystery – 4.25

72. The Holiness of God – 4.5 – RC Sproul – this was excellent – got very deep into the concepts of justice and mercy, and God’s sovereign right to do as He pleases with His creation. Led to much deep thought.

73. The Diamond of Darkhold: Book 4 in The City of Ember series – 4 – DuPrau – enjoyed this. The only book in the series I didn’t really care for was #3. In this one Lina and Doon go back to Ember to see if there are any supplies they can salvage for the people of Sparks. What they find there changes the world.

74. The Story of the Trapp Family Singers – 4.5 – Maria Trapp – nothing like I expected – the story of Maria and The Sound of Music. Their story is NOT like the movie – or very little anyway. She was a nun who came to be the governess, and they were married, but they were married in 1927 – long before Hitler invaded Austria. They were already performing when they left Austria, no sneaking out during the music festival. That was really only the first 1/3 of the book, the rest is their lives when they came to the United States. Very devout Catholic family, whose all-encompassing goal in life is to do whatever is God’s will. Great story, much more religious than I expected.

75. The Double Comfort Safari Club – 4 – Alexander McCall Smith – the further adventures of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency.

76. A Spoonful of Poison: An Agatha Raisin Mystery – 4 – M.C. Beaton – okay, sort of convoluted.

77. There Goes the Bride: An Agatha Raisin Mystery – 4.5 – M.C. Beaton – Auugghhh! The last Agatha! The new one comes out in October, but after that….nothing for a year. I am moving back to the Hamish MacBeth series (I think there are about 28) for the duration, and she also writes an Edwardian mystery series under the pen name Marion Chesney, so I will check that out as well. But this one ended so good…..I like to put one down and within 15 minutes pick up the next one. My life seems so empty….

78. This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection – 4.25 – Carol Burnett – just a series of anecdotes about her life in showbiz. Very simple and interesting. She sounds like a fun lady.

79. Death of an Outsider: A Hamish Macbeth Mystery – 4.25 – M.C. Beaton – these are probably technically superior to Agatha Raisin, but I still like her better.