Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Ice Skating and the Benefits of Going Outside

This year has been a beautiful one for ice skating around here. Both the Lakes and the River froze over and had lovely ice before we really got snow. I had other things scheduled the day that some of my family went skating on the lake but they said it was just gorgeous - you could see down a long ways through the ice. I do know that looked very pretty when I dropped Aaron off. 

 Though I haven't gone on the lake I did have fun going a couple of times on the river so far and I hope to go often this winter.

Aaron, Megan and I went skating one night with lanterns and flashlights. It was fun.
 Though I have long loved spending time outside (I love camping, gardening, biking, walking, skating, canoeing, etc.) it is easy to get busy and not get out very much. That can happen especially easily in the Winter when it is cold out there too!

  When COVID 19 regulations hit we were required to be outside if we wanted to see others outside our family so the social butterfly in me made that a priority. I have enjoyed many a walk with friends when normally we probably would have sat inside. We had church services outside and more. I really enjoyed all that time outside and I have learned to dress better for the weather so that I didn't get too cold. It has been fun.

  Being outside is also very good for our health. So if you are at all concerned about getting sick or just like to live a healthier life - why don't you try to spend more time outside.

  Here are some ways that being outside can help you....

-More oxygen and cleaner lungs. Outside air almost always has higher levels of oxygen which will help clean out our lungs. With our world being concerned about a sickness that attacks the lungs - I recommend spending time outside to counteract that.

-Higher Brain Function. All that oxygen that we get outside is super helpful for our brain! Breathing in the fresh air helps your brain to work so much better.

-More Vitamin D. We get Vitamin D from sun exposure which happens outside. This helps with brain function and helps us to have a much stronger immune system.

-Lower Blood Pressure and Heart rate. Every cell in your body needs oxygen to function. More oxygen being available helps your heart to relax which then lowers your blood pressure.

-Reduces Stress. It has been found that spending time in nature reduces stress. Taking a walk outside helps the brain produce endorphins which are neurotransmitters responsible for regulating mood. 

-It is good for your digestive system. When you have a better flow of oxygen in your body it helps you to digest food more effectively. This will especially be nice if you are trying to lost weight.

-It strengthens your immune system. When we increase the amount of oxygen it helps our white blood cells to function properly so they can kill bacteria and germs.

-It helps you heal faster. When cells get more oxygen they can work better which causes you to heal faster.

Here are some ways that I have been spending more time outside...

  • Going on walks pretty much every day and sometime more with friends and family. It is a lovely way to visit and improve your health at the same time.
  • Embrace jobs like shoveling, gardening, getting in wood, etc. that prompt you to spend time outside.
  • Sometimes (especially if it isn't super cold) we will take a book or Ken even takes computer work outside.
  • I try to do some of my exercises at least 3 times a week outside.
  • Biking - even in the snow.
  • Ice skating.
Do you get outside much? What do you like to do out there?

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Enjoying the Simple Things...

   Winter is such a lovely time to slow down a little bit and to really just enjoy being home. It can be easy to get caught up in the bustle of preparing for Christmas but I hope you are able to truly enjoy each moment and each person that you are spending time with. Here are some of the simple things that I am enjoying....

  • Fires in our fireplace.
  • Stocking that we made last year with real rabbit fur and our names done in cross-stitch. 
  • The glow of Christmas lights.
  • Card-making.
  • Watching Megan paint and crochet.
  • Ice Skating on the river.
  • Writing letters and thinking fondly of those that I am writing to.
  • A simple supper with Ken while the kids were at youth group. Enjoying some fancy cheese and crackers that I was given for my birthday (a great gift by the way - fun and different and consumable!).
  • Candles - I love my homemade beeswax candles and other non-scented ones. I need to remember to light them more often.
  • Walks in the starlight.

  • Drinking tea with family and friends.
  • The reading of books that make me think and grow.
  • Prayer - by myself and with others. It gives me such strength and peace.
  • The making of music. I love to sit down and play the piano or pull out my violin. I love to sing with Megan while we work. I enjoy hearing Aaron play his guitar and sing and I welcome any other music that comes up in our home as well.
  • Fresh bread.
  • Phones calls from friends.
What simple things are you enjoying right now? 

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Family Cooking Competition

   Mid November my sister Anna and her family came up North from the cities to visit with all the family up here. We had a wonderful time with them here and on Saturday evening we planned a cooking contest.

   There were 14 contestants divided into 5 teams. Each team had to cook enough food for 6 people (to feed the 30 that we would have for supper that night (all the family members in town at the time). We could use flour (white or wholewheat), sugar, honey, oil (olive, peanut and coconut), salt, pepper and all my herbs, spices and flavorings as desired but we each could only use $10 to buy the rest of the ingredients from the store. We were also allowed to buy eggs from my mom for 10 cents each and a chunk of cabbage for 50 cents. We went to the parking lot where people could shop at Dollar Tree and/or Marketplace (a local grocery store).  We have some food allergies in our group so no one was allowed to use Dairy, Corn, Peas, Tree Nuts or Shellfish. Many of the men that were not participating were working on wood so that meant that we had babies and toddlers to help us out for some of our shopping and cooking. :-) We picked Megan up from work at 4 pm and then it was time to begin. Supper had to be ready and nicely presented by 6:30 pm. As the contest began we drew for which cooking station we would get.
The team that I was on also had my nephew Gregory and Aaron. My nephew Theo (3 years old) was also on our team and helped primarily with the shopping. Gregory was in charge of the main dish, Aaron was in charge of a beverage and I took on the veggies and dessert though Aaron ended up doing the cake decorating as well. We got the center island station which included the oven, an electric skillet and a knock-off instapot. 

The next team I will introduce was my sister Anna (and sweet babe), Thomas and Mara. The station that they got was this side counter as well as a little counter on the left side of the stove. They got to use the left half of the stove-top, a small crock-pot and perhaps a waffle iron (which they didn't use).

The other half of the stovetop was used by Molly, Keren and Beatrice. They also got a waffle iron/griddle and the grill. They also had baby Lilly as an extra help. :-)

The 4th station was in my office where Martha, Megan and Heidi were at work. They had an electric skillet, a waffle iron and a griddle (they didn't use the griddle and actually gave it to the next team as that team was missing an item that they were supposed to have - it was forgotten). I believe that Netta (age 3) joined them for shopping.

The fifth station was in my laundry room where I had set up a table and they had the top of the washer and dryer to work on as well and a utility sink to use. I thought it was a kind of neat station but I guess it was a little lonely and the dryer wasn't super level for having a pan full of hot oil. They had an electric frying pan, a roaster pan and a griddle to use. This was our only team of two consisting of MollyBea and Margaret. Buirlen (3) and Beaulah (1) tried to help at times with this team.
 Many that had not worked on the cooking got signed up for judging. We were judged on:
  • Being ready on time
  • Staying within budget (everybody did though we did allow one team to have a small egg for 7 cents instead of the 10 that had been planned. They had cut it very close.)
  • Presentation- how it looked.
  • Cleanliness of area (we had to clean and wash up dishes as we went along.
  • Fullness of the menu
  • Kid Friendliness
  • Healthfulness
  • Taste
Here is Gregory finishing up a creamy sausage pasta dish. It was yummy!

The schedule wasn't too rushed. There was time for a little fun chit chat at times. All the teams were allowed to use the microwave if desired. They just had to limit their time to 5 minutes and then go to the back of the line if there was one.

Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures at the time everybody had things set out prettily for presentation but here they are a little later...
This was our team's meal: Creamy Sausage Pasta (make with oat milk because of the need to be dairy free), Roasted Veggies, Raspberry, Lemon Slushy and Lemon Rasberry Layer Cake.

MollyBea and Margaret made Pot Stickers (with sauce), Chinese Fried Noodles and Crepes with Strawberry Sauce.
Anna, Mara and Thomas made Chicken and Pepper Fajitas with fresh tortillas (at least I think that is what they were) with fresh Pico Di Gallo and Sopapillas with honey sauce.
Keren, Molly and Beatrice made Chicken Curry, Chapatis and Raspberry Crepes.
Martha, Heidi and Megan made Egg Rolls and Waffle Brownies.

All of the food was quite delicious, everybody kept a pretty clean area, got done on time and stayed within budget. The meal was quite a success. We also made oodles of dirty dishes! We did work on them as we went and when Mom arrived she was fulltime dishwasher for a while and then after the meal she did many more dishes. 
The judges took a while to consider and come to a conclusion. But finally they were ready to announce. We were standing ready to hear the results.
The panel of judges and the videographer making announcements.

They declared our team the winner. I think it was largely because we had a drink too (which none of the rest did) which put us over the top. The Mexican food came in second and then I don't remember after that. Win or lose it was a fun evening and we ended up having a delicious supper!

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Giving Thanks - Even When it is Hard

A Group of Swans that Ken and I enjoyed watching a couple weeks ago.

   I had wanted to write a post on Thank-fulness last week since we were celebrating Thanksgiving. I didn't get it done then but I decided I should write it now anyway. Thankfulness is not something that we just do at Thanksgiving - it is an important thing for a Christian to do every day. 

  I know this has been a hard year for many people and our family is among those that are having challenging times. COVID has affected pretty much everybody whether it be through simply dealing with the regulations, actually dealing with sickness, dealing with depression that seems to be a by-product of the regulations for many people, dealing with job loss from the shutdown or whatever it may be. Then on top of the COVID stuff we often face many other challenges in life. Sometimes all those things begin to weigh a little heavily on you and it doesn't feel so easy to notice all the things you have to be thankful for.


Thankfulness changes our outlook on life and when we are in the middle of hard times a lot of time our outlook could use a little changing. And very honestly - God simply deserves our thanks. Even during hard times there are so many, many things He gives us, does for us and we know that He has even better things prepared for us if we love and serve Him. 

 Here are some verses that really encourage me to be thankful....

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7 
It is easy for us to get anxious about things but instead of doing that if we can just spend time in prayer that is full of Thanksgiving - God is going to fill us with peace. Who wouldn't rather be full of peace instead of being anxious?

"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name." 1 Peter 4:12-16
I think rejoicing is often filled with thanksgiving. At least it should be. :-)

"And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful." Colossians 3:15
Peace is what we need in the midst of hard times!

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
This verse nearly always causes me to think of the story the Corrie TenBoom tells in the book "The Hiding Place" when she and her sister Betsie were in a German prison camp during WW2. Their situation was horrible but Betsie took this verse completely to heart and thanked God amidst other things for the crowding and the fleas. That seemed a bit much to Corrie but she went along with it at Betsie's persuasion. After a time it became obvious that God had a reason for placing them there. The guards stayed away because of the fleas and it gave them much more opportunity to share Jesus with others (the many that were crowded around them).

 God can work all things out for our good. We need to trust Him and give thanks! 

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Bible Games Review

We have recently had the pleasure of reviewing some games sent to us from 
Bible Games Central. I had told you about this website in a post in April and about all the fun game ideas they have available for free. They still do have all that and I totally encourage you visiting it to see how you can make learning about the Bible more fun with your kids or students. But now they also have some games that you can buy and use. So we were given the opportunity to test 3 of them out. 

We were sent Bible Bingo, Bible Memory Game and Parable Parade
My niece and nephew that were both just 3 (though Netta had a birthday yesterday so she was nearly 4) were up to visit so I decided to get their help in reviewing the games. The games are designed for ages 6 and up (on all 3 games that I got) and I think that would work best but the game of Bingo was fun for all of us- even those younger. My niece Heidi played with us too.

 It helps acquaint the players with the names of the books of the Bible and from what section (Law, History, Poetry, Letters from Paul, etc) they are from. There are pictures to go along with each book and that is a good memory tool too. The book of John has a world with hearts around it, Psalms has a harp and so forth. 

You can have up to 24 players for this game so it would work great for even a large class at church. I am looking forward to using it there as something that is easy to have ready for class, fun for the kids and helps with some learning as well.

Margaret, Netta, Heidi and I (Theo was there some but it was really above his game playing level) also played Parable Parade. I really thought this one was quite fun. It is fairly simple but yet has different elements to it that make it interesting. The goal is to collect sets of parables. There are four pictures from each parable that "tell" the story. There is also a card that actually has a summary of each parable (there are 12 in the game) on one side and the explanation of the parable on the back. This is a really fun way to play a game and learn about parables at the same time.

Watch out when playing - there is a "Whoopsie" card that you may draw which will cause you to lose some cards and end your turn. It reminds me slightly of playing "Sorry" because of that.

The Bible Memory Game was tested out by Megan, Ephraim and Mathias today. This deck of cards includes 2 cards for each book of the Bible. You can play one huge memory game (that I think would take quite some time) or you can pull out sections to work with. Or you can be creative like Megan and Ephraim and basically play "Go Fish" with Books of the Bible Cards while your 2 year old brother/cousin plays with more of the cards. The pictures are fun and colorful and again you get acquainted with the names of the books of the Bible and are reminded of a story that is in them when looking at the pictures.
I am excited to have all of these as tools to use while teaching Bible classes at church or playing with kids in my home. If you are looking for a meaningful gift for some children in your life or like me you teach classes at church and enjoy having something fun and easy to do with the kids I would recommend checking these games out. You can find them at Bible Games Central.

Bible Games Central also has some free game ideas specifically for Christmas: Christmas Trivia and more Christmas Games. So if you are looking for something fun to do with your family over the Holidays be sure to check them out.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Montana Backpacking Trip

In August our family was blessed to be able to go on a 12 day trip to Montana. We fit all 7 of us (Mara and Thomas traveled with us too) in our mini van and hitched a trailer full of stuff on behind and headed out.
The day before we left I had gotten stung by a bee/wasp (I am not sure) when I went up to check on the garden. It just very randomly flew up and stung me in the eyelid. My eye quite quickly swelled up and I looked rather weird. So that is how my trip began. :-)
We ended up staying 2 nights at hotels on the way out. We never had enough beds for all of us and our boys are not very good about sleeping in the same bed. Both nights there was a lot of drama and silliness as things got figured out. Here Aaron has put pillows all the way down the middle of the queen bed but then I think he still ended up sleeping on the floor because Jonathan didn't promise that he wouldn't touch him during the night.

 Our first major stop was Big Sky, Montana. Aaron loves Mountain biking and has dreamed of actually doing it in the mountains. We were able to bring his bike along and he was able to go for a day at Big Sky Ski and Mountain Biking Resort. He very much enjoyed it and wore himself out. After getting there we were rather nervous that he didn't have knee and elbow pads as pretty much everybody else was wearing them but he made it through the day without to much damage. We did get him a set for his birthday however so now he is ready for next time.

While Aaron biked, Ken and Jonathan climbed a mountain. They had a fun time and Jonathan got to do some filming too so that was fun.

I got to chauffeur people to their destinations. Thomas had a phone interview for a job to do so he went off to do that while the girls and I then took the van to be checked out since it had started making a funny noise. I found some super nice and helpful guys at both the Napa Auto Parts Store and the Napa Auto Mechanic in Big Sky. We didn't figure out the problem at the time but they at least ruled out a lot of things that could be bad. We were able to get it fixed (I don't remember now what it was) when returning home and it was something fairly simple.  
The girls, Thomas and I ate a picnic lunch at the Resort.
That night we went and stayed in Missoula - there we saw the Lady of the Rockies.

We had 4 guys on our trip that were 6 feet, 6' 1", 6' 4" and 6' 5". Things felt a little tight at some points but we made it! :-)
From Missoula we went to the Bitterroot Mountains to go back packing. We went on the Chaffin Creek Trail. We were only a few miles from Idaho (a place I have never been) but we didn't manage to go there as it would have meant driving over a pass and we were short on time and the van didn't sound so good.
Jonathan was our videographer as we went along. He carried his pack and his camera and filming equipment.
Thomas was giving instructions on making sure your backpack is properly adjusted. Mara still struggles with her health but she was still able to enjoy the backpacking trip and we were really thankful for that.
Megan was a pretty energetic backpacker. We were able to borrow her Nana's pack for her to use and it worked great.
Aaron tends to be the leader of the pack.
Ken is the trip planner and keeps us updated on how far we have gone and how far we have left to go.

I used my dad's old pack again (that he used in Alaska back in the 60's/70's). I like it and find it pretty comfortable.

Studying the signs before we took off.

The hike started through a lovely wooded area.

There were some good sized trees.
These two generally led the way. We were a little concerned about snakes which Megan is very afraid of (though it has gotten much less extreme since our trip down south) so I wanted to make sure that she was not the first person to go down the trail.
We sat on the rocks and had some lunch.

Jonathan tried to catch it all on video. Not that it will all get used as he does a ton of editing but he wants to make sure and have plenty of content.
Mara and Thomas the tree huggers.

Much of the trail was along side the rushing creek. It wasn't always right next to it but you could usually hear it.
Aaron always enjoys getting a little climbing in.
Enjoying the views!

Aaron and Jonathan ended up making it to the waterfall first. We had to cross over it. It was a beautiful spot and the place we ended up camping by. 

Resting after we arrived.
Aaron (with some helpers) put together a nice firepit for our stay. We were hiking in State Forest area so you can camp where ever which is kind of nice. You just want to leave no trace.
For supper that evening we made a quick meal with Ramen with dried purslane in it and fried peppers and sausage. When you are camping pretty much everything you cook tastes delicious.
Our camping area. There were many big slabs of rock.

The next day after breakfast and a little "church" service we ended up dividing into 3 groups to do different activities. Thomas, Jonathan and Aaron decided to cross back over the waterfall and climb to the top of the mountain on that side, Mara and I decided to continue forward up the trail to Hart Lake and Ken and Megan decided to stay around camp and rest up and play games.
Mara and I enjoyed much beautiful scenery and a really great visit. It was great to get to spend that time with her.

As is our normal when out in the wild we noticed and appreciated the Flora and Fauna. 
Heart Lake. 

A rushing river.
Ken and Megan playing Suicide Spades.

When we got back we all went down by the river/waterfall and looked up to see if we could spot the boys. We did and then we watched them come down.
Beautiful Fireweed and the view down the valley.
I have a very lovely lens on my camera so I can zoom in a long way. So I got this picture of the boys up on the side of the mountain.
The lovely Mara.

That evening Megan and I decided to create a game out of sticks, rocks, pinecones, moss and bark. Everybody played it with us. We struggled a little with the rules so the idea isn't quite ready to sell. :-)

Ken, Jonathan and I went down the next morning to catch the sunrise. It was a beautiful time to be out.
Jonathan did some filming and time lapse photography.

I loved going to this place each morning to spend some time in God's word, sing some songs of praise and worship and pray. There is something special about being able to enjoy such amazing beauty while visiting with the One who made it.

On Monday we divided up again according to interests. Aaron, Megan and I wanted to do some actual climbing so we went up a different way than Aaron had gone the day before. Ken and Jonathan hiked up the trail and Mara and Thomas went off another direction.

Here are a bunch of pictures from Aaron, Megan and my climb...
Aaron doesn't think it is necessary to chose easy routes and we did a lot of scrambling. I had my big camera with me which made me a little nervous that I would bang it on rocks but I figured out a way to keep it tighter to my chest but to still allow use of it and that was good.
We brought water and snacks a little first aid stuff and a rope. We used all of it. :-) (The band-aids were to patch up Aaron's knee - he had torn it up a little Mt. Biking and it started bleeding again.)

I love these two adventurers!
The twisted old trees were really cool!

We were often right on the edge of large drop offs. It was exciting.

Up that valley is where Heart Lake is.

Aaron had to do some waiting on us at times. I believe that at this spot we rather argued about whether we could climb it or not but he talked us into it. We made it - both up and down! Down for us girls was with the help of a rope.
Aaron waiting while Megan works on getting up.
This was the spot that Megan and I ended up giving up (we had gotten grit in our eyes and the way was quite challenging). Aaron made it to the top and we sat and waited for him.
We ended up going a different way down. It is fun to explore as many areas as you can.
I found a shower!!

This was a cute little pool in the woods.
Suppertime - Thomas had brought an MRE and we all enjoyed watching him unpack it. 
We had Mountain House  (I think!) backpacking food that evening. Spaghetti and Beef Stroganoff. It was yummy!
Ken and Jonathan enjoying their supper.

Tuesday it was time to pack up....

and hit the trail...

The hike down is always easier (at least I think so).

Here is a neat video that Jonathan made of our trip: 

Then we were off to meet up with Ken's mom and siblings near Glacier National Park.


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