Up In The Air So Blue {...the things my preacher can do, in no time flat...}

I mentioned it this afternoon.  That's all I did, was mention it.

I mentioned the fact that it'd be fun to have a wooden-seat swing, down there under the silver maple.

This evening, right before dinner, The Preacher went out to his workshop.  I heard the noise of the power saw and something else.  In less than an hour, this is what I was called outside to see:

And then this may have happened:

I was all, like, "Hey kid.  Get off my swing."  (not really)

How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
River and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside--

Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown--
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down! 

A Bit of Digital Flower Pressing {...not all Displayed Treasures are analog...}

...so I created the above image in under 30 minutes, after The Preacher and I spent a perfect evening shooting wildflowers in Cades Cove.  Well.  We shot wildflowers, and I also included a few weeds - because I love dandelions when they reach their fluffy and even spent stage.  

I am having so much fun preparing for my FREE online mini-intensive, "Displayed Treasures - Analog 'Pinning' as Art and Lifestyle".  Yes, the idea is to set some limits on our screen time, and the screen time our children are given.  

But for all the technology lovers {like me}, let me take a moment to reassure you that though we will spend some time with beautiful "analog pinning" ideas...

...there will also be a bit of digital delight thrown in, just for fun.  

Hey, if it will get us all outside, I am all in, aren't you?

I'm excited to tell you that I am working on a screencast, intended to teach you how to easily put together a wildflower {or seashell, or tree leaf, or tree, or animal, vegetable, or mineral} mini-poster, much like what you see above.  

Just something fun you can create, to save and re-live a little bit of the feeling of those moments when all your senses were engaged.  Your kids - the ones old enough to be using the computer - can follow along and learn as well.

Stay tuned right here for the official launch date.  Announcements will be forthcoming...

I Re-stocked Most Items in the Shop {...just in time for Mother's Day...}

Thank you so much for your support, when you gift-give. It means this world to me, as well as all artists...

"We Don't Need Church Bells..." {...of children and church life...}

One thing I have always been aware of, is the profound affect church life has on children.  

In the best of ways.

I grew up in a tiny Presbyterian church full of people with gray hair who pulled gum out of my ears, and the same Sunday School Teacher every. single. Sunday.  No one rotated out there - the pastor's wife faithfully taught a range of ages, all at the same time, every Sunday for my entire childhood.  

It was radically life-altering stuff for a troubled little girl who would herself grow up to become a preacher's wife.

There is something sweet that happens - all quiet and hidden - when parents decide to commit to one local church, and go and grow there together.  Continuity is important.  There is a sweetness that only comes with creating continuity - whether you have children or your nest has emptied.  Week-in, week-out, month-in, month-out, year-in, year-out...

...memories are built no other way.

Lives are built no other way.  

The smallest things go a long way in a child's sense of stability - something as "simple" as church services, having the same four teachers in Sunday School, who rotate week by week all year long, and the same person making the pre-church-service announcements.  

I won't go so far as to say that your church life is THE most important constant in your child's life.  But I will go so far as to say that your church life easily ranks in the top five Things Your Child Can Depend On - ranking right up there with their trusty blankie, their parents' unconditional love, a consistent bedtime, and teeth brushing.

Meet Eryn...

She has the most incredible birth story you will ever encounter - but that is another post for another day.

Eryn's momma's name is Vickie, and I got her permission to share a little short something she shared online with our church ladies group.  Here is the cute, cute story, in her own words:

Eryn and I were in Fountain City today, on our way home from school when she heard the bells chime at one of the churches on Broadway. She immediately wanted to know what it was...I didn't realize she had never heard church bells before. I explained that a long time ago that's the way the church let the community know that services were about to begin, or sometimes the church would double as a school and they were used like the bell at her school. So she pipes up and says, "We don't need bells at our church. We have Mrs. Sheila and she doesn't need a bell. She just says (in her best Mrs. Sheila voice) 'Hellooo, Harvest Church!' and we all know we better sit down."

Who needs bells when a familiar friend is always there to let you know it is time to get started worshipping the Lord?

Take your kids to church.  Be consistent.  Let your one life testify of God's great worth, and of His great love for His bride.  And if you want to be really bold, in the words of Eugene Peterson "Go to the nearest small church and commit yourself to being there for 6 months."

Warning: You'll want to stay forever. And God just might be really, really good with that idea.

More than ever before, there's the lie that's gone viral: the lie that says it doesn't matter. Every storybook read, every bath, every song matters. All the work it takes to dress, feed, and take them to church every Sunday...it matters more than ever, momma and daddy. 

It matters precisely because too many so-called "important people" live like church is unimportant.  It matters precisely because the devil is working overtime to tell us it doesn't.

One-Pot Sprouted Grain No Knead Bread {...so, so good...}

I am so excited to share a recipe I've developed with you.  This is my riff on the famous Jaque Pepin's One Pan Bread Recipe.  Only my recipe uses half sprouted grain flour...and that's the extent of my "development" of the recipe.

But that is enough of a tweak to make this one mine-all-mine.

You don't have to completely spend more than necessary on King Arthur's Organic Sprouted Whole Wheat Flour , but it does make this recipe a little easier to digest - however still not recommended for those with Celiac disease.

Here is what sprouted wheat flour looks like:

It is darker and a tiny bit coarser than all purpose unbleached.  Still, it is very soft and easy to work with.

You toss 4 cups (2 of regular all purpose, 2 of sprouted wheat flour) in a hard anodized, 3-quart nonstick saucepan {...you read that right...a saucepan...}
and whisk in 1 heaping teaspoon of yeast, and a teaspoon of salt - do not use coarse or Kosher salt for this recipe.

...add 2 1/2 - 3 cups of filtered water...

Combine with a wooden spoon until all is incorporated.

Then...put a lid on it.

I'm so sorry to annoy you with pictures of every little step - I got carried away with the moody, luscious light in my kitchen today.

Let it sit for about an hour-and-a-half to two hours.  Your sprouted wheat flour needs a little more time to do its first rise than regular all purpose flour would need.

Here is what it looks like, about 2 hours later:

You're going to stick that wooden spoon into it one more time, and "stir it down".  It will deflate.

Next, you stick it in the fridge for hours and hours, or even overnight.  {...not even lying to you...I would never...}

So I've made it a frivolous goal to have a pretty refrigerator interior, when I can.  My nest is empty now, and I am entitled to some pointless frivolity.  When your nest empties, you will be entitled, too.

This.  makes.  me.  happy.

After hours and hours or even after overnight, your bread dough will look like this:

Put it straight {...forthwith...immediately...instantly...} into a preheated 450 degree oven, and bake it for 35-40 minutes.  Start checking it at the 30 minute mark, because mine browned quickly after that.

See how it beautifully pulled away from the sides of the hard anodized, non stick, 3-quart saucepan?  I was a proud Mimi...so proud of this little loaf of goodness...

Try this recipe.  I promise, it will get you baking your own bread again.

{...and thanks in advance for pinning...I am so grateful to each of you...}

Of Little Girls and Art

This is one of my grand-girls...she is imitating her artist-daddy, Jonathan Howe.  (He always paints in a hat - to nail down his colors and values.)

And since I believe this little girl is perfectly-perfect-in-every-way (in spite of the fact that she is sometimes quite a handful), I am thinking her parents may want to save and frame her masterpieces.  They may be worth a fortune in a few years.

It's happened before.

I can't help but feel great satisfaction, as I too am an artist.  This girl's momma - my daughter Sarah - much preferred seeing how far she could spit a watermelon seed, playing her guitar, and working with drills and saws and hammers.  I am absolutely certain that girls can do anything they want to do, anything God calls them to do, therefore far be it from me to have ever made Sarah stop spitting or put down her hammer and pick up a paintbrush.

Well, I may have tried to make her stop spitting.

But I do so love this picture of her daughter.  I contributed exactly one-quarter of her DNA, see.

In closing, I have always adored this poem, because it makes me think of this little girl's momma....

THERE was a little girl,
And she had a little curl
  Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good
She was very, very good,        5
  And when she was bad she was horrid (not really...maybe sometimes.)
One day she went upstairs,
When her parents, unawares,
  In the kitchen were occupied with meals,
And she stood upon her head        10
In her little trundle-bed,
  And then began hooraying with her heels.
Her mother heard the noise,
And she thought it was the boys
  A-playing at a combat in the attic;        15
But when she climbed the stair,
And found Jemima (Sarah) there,
  She took and she did spank her most emphatic.

In Other News {...Superman is feeling much better, thank you for asking...}

I feel I may as well tell you...

...two weeks ago, on PopPop's birthday, Superman had to be rushed to the ER where he promptly received 8 stitches down the side of his hand, right at the pinky finger.  I thought every single one of us, my oldest boy Josiah included, were going to faint on the spot.  It felt like a big deal.

And never...never...never buy one of these:

I realize I may hear from some of you, telling me how much you have loved your kiddie-puller, but I won't be moved.

Those things, up there, are the devil.  Maybe not that exact brand - but in general, regardless of brand, our whole family now carries special hatred for them.

And Superman and Batgirl (my grand-daughter Aidyn loves to say she is "batgul".) really hate them.

But Batgirl survived the ordeal with just a few scrapes.  Superman was injured.  Just in case anyone was worried about Superman, here is a little slice-of-life just this evening ("This just in!")

Superman was smack-dab in the middle of giving me a devilishly handsome wink, as I snapped the above picture.

Superman is busy watching...well...Superman.  (Not even lying.)  He is resting well, and our good friend Dr. Doug will be removing his stitches come Easter Sunday.