Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Find The Meaning Of Your Name

I was reading today in the Bible, Genesis, chapter 21 about the birth of Isaac. I was reminded of the meaning of the name 'Isaac' because we have a grandson with that name. The name 'Isaac' means 'laughter'.

   Before our grandson was born, I felt like he was going to bring laughter to the family. And he does! On a continual basis, he always does something new, something we never thought of before. Like the time we were listening to a message at a Good Friday service. My grandson is a great speller, and can take a word and tell you how it is spelled. The pastor was explaining that Judas was going to betray Jesus with a kiss. Well, that was all that my grandson had to hear for he could figure out how to spell the word 'kiss'. So, while we were listening to this message, a little voice a couple of inches away proudly announced, 'Kiss. K-I-S-S'. He was practicing his spelling out loud, during a message!

   What does your name mean? Some names are hard to find the meanings of. Others are obvious. Heather is a flower in Ireland. Pearl is a precious gem. Hazel is a color. But some have more hidden meanings.

   Many of our names, and names of our children, come right from the Bible. Any name that has an -el ending has a connotation of God in the name. For example, Michael means 'like unto God' or 'like God'. Samuel means 'Asked of God'. Daniel, I believe, means 'God is judge'.

   Some modern definitions of names could be far from the meaning. Some of these people who research names probably couldn't find the meaning of the name, so they attached some nice adjective to it. The name 'Rebecca' means captivating from the original Hebrew. According to the Urban Dictionary though, this name has its origin from the daughter of a goddess of beauty. It meant 'Shining Star'. Of course we know the Bible came before Greek or Roman mythology, so the more correct meaning origin of the name Rebecca would be captivating, or tie knot.

   You want to be careful in choosing names for your children. I have heard of names like Silence and Truth. I have to wonder if Silence was named in faith after the parents had a couple of children already!

   If you have a really bad last name, I believe you can go to court and have it changed. Sometimes, our last names give us trouble too. Bullies take advantage of names that rhyme with bad words, or that have similar letters to something stupid or degrading. It doesn't take much for kids to take a name, twist it around, add a few letters, and rename the kid they are bullying!

   Do a search on the Internet and find some accurate sources of the origins of your names. It might be quite interesting to find out where your name came from, and what it meant.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

New and Unusual Family Activity - Hunting for The Dropped Pecans

   I am boring when it comes to playing games with my family. When my older girls were little, I played 'Huckle, Buckle Bean Stalk' with them. I hid the homemade bean bag and when the girls came back into the room, if they got near the hidden bean bag, I would say to them that they are getting warm. When they were really close, I would say 'hot'. This activity went on for a little while in our home.

   Then there was the game my husband played with all the kids. All the lights would be turned out and he would hide somewhere in the house. The kids would look all around the house and then when they found him, he would chase after them in the dark. It's a wonder that no one ever got hurt playing this game! But the kids remember this one fondly.

   Well, while we were on vacation in Georgia, we visited a place in Georgia called, Dahlonega. It is a quaint little town with a lot of History. Lots of people came here to dig for gold, or should I say, 'panning' for gold. But there were people here searching for something else.

   At first, it looked like people were looking for money, or maybe even something they had lost that needed to be found immediately. They were all inside this park. Then we were walking down the sidewalk and there was a man looking for something. It looked like the same thing. My husband had to ask.

   The man explained that he was looking for pecans. There were a lot of pecan trees on that street, so we decided to also hunt for pecans. It was a good way to spend our time while we waited for dinner time to come around.

Here's a good way to spend time while waiting for dinner!

Hunting for pecans can be fun and educational.
Just think, if we could have collected enough pecans, I would be able to make a pecan pie!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Homemade Chocolate Pudding Pie

You can buy it at a store, or, you can make it at home. It is not really that difficult to make. If you want to make it with an already made pie crust, you can do that as well.

Homemade Chocolate Pudding Pie

1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers (you can crush them using a rolling pin, or you can put them in a blender/food processor and grind them)
4 Tablespoons melted butter

Pie Filling:
2 cups milk
2 egg yolks
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar (I use coconut, but organic cane is good too)
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla

whipping cream
stevia, xylitol, or powdered sugar
chocolate sprinkles (optional)

  To make the crust, combine the melted butter with the graham cracker crumbs and pat into a pie plate (9" pie plate is good). Bake at 350 degrees for about 5 minutes or so. Make sure crust doesn't burn. Remove from oven and let cool.
  Make the pie filling by combining the pie filling ingredients in a blender or by using a mixer. Heat on medium or medium high, being careful to not let mixture get too hot too fast. When it comes to a boil, let it boil for a minute and then remove from heat.
  Pour the mixture into the prepared pie shell. Place in refrigerator and in the mean time, whip the whipping cream until it forms stiff peaks. (Stiff peaks look like a mountain that stands up when you pull the beater out of the cream). Add the sweetener of your choice and mix well. Place mixture on top of pie filling and add sprinkles if desired.

Here are some sources for some of the ingredients if you are looking for a good brand:

Amazon has this at a good price
I use this *all* the time!
I try to find coconut sugar for $5 a pound or less
I like the fact that this is made in America

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Making Christmas Traditions

   What do you think? Do you think having Christmas traditions is important? Some have simple traditions while others may have more elaborate traditions. It really doesn't matter because it is the meaning behind the tradition that counts.

   Some of our traditions are simple. When I was little, we celebrated Christmas Eve at my grandparents house, then of course, Christmas morning came at our house, and we celebrated there as well. My other set of grandparents came over in the afternoon. But when I got older, we moved away and we only celebrated Christmas with my parents and brother.

  We had a strange, but neat tradition also, when we were small. My grandparents belonged to a club called the 'Turner's Club' which must have been a club where adults go to dinner once a month and had dancing. I had never been to this club, but what they did every year was to invite the children or grandchildren to sit on Santa's lap, not to ask for presents, but to thank Santa for the presents he supposedly brought. We would thank Santa, and they would give us this stocking filled with strange items like fruits and a few small toys. In my selfish mind, I was thinking of how much better it would have been if they gave us an actual toy instead of fruit and small toys! That is how an unregenerate mind works at the age of 7 or 8! But it is a memory I will never forget, even if I missed the point of it back then.

    When I was 14, my dad decided to start a tradition of seeing the lights in a certain neighborhood in our city. Over 40 years later, my family still carries this tradition even though my dad has not been with us for 29 years.

   Some of the other traditions we adopted are; baking gingerbread cookies and cinnamon bread, and giving them out to the neighbors (which has been challenging since no one ever seems to be home), having some kind of Christmas party with our friends, having a surprise Christmas dinner with presents from Saint Nicholas, formerly of Turkey, going to see a lighted house every year a couple of miles away, and going to the live Nativity every year at a nearby church (My dad also started that one when I was a teenager).

  One other new tradition that I think is really helpful to the needy and also educational for children is to look forward to the Samaritan's Purse catalog, and go through it and find gifts to order for people in poorer countries. Some of these items help them to become sustainable so they can survive and live on their own. They even have toys for children in there to order for the children who live in these countries. The Christmas shoeboxes are the best though for kids. With this ministry, you can get a shoebox, or even a dozen, and fill them up with toys and necessary items for these children, and then take them to a drop off place. The boxes could end up in Uganda or Bolivia, or anywhere they are designated to go. They even have a tracking service so you can track your box and see where it goes. There are stories on Youtube showing children as they open their boxes and the blessings they receive from their gifts in the shoeboxes.

  There are homeless shelters around town which would gladly receive a nice dinner or gifts of clothing for people to wear on interviews. Lots of children will be blessed by small toys like balloons or frisbies. One day I would like to be a Saint Nicholas formerly of Turkey gift giver to children.

   Now that we are grandparents, we start Christmas on Christmas Eve morning with our children and grandchildren. This has been recent for about the last 5 years or so. We still celebrate Christmas Eve at my mom's house, just like we did at my grandparent's house years ago. On Christmas Day, we visit the other side of the family and exchange gifts there. Then we come home and play with our new toys!

   This year, we started what we hope will be a new tradition. We participated as a church in the annual Christmas parade. We also used it as an evangelistic opportunity. It was very cool.

   What are some of the traditions that you share with your family? What are some of the old traditions you share and what are some new ones that have recently been added?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Today I Made Tomato Powder - A Long Desired Item To Have

   Years ago, when I was little, a truck used to come through our neighborhood, and what the truck drivers sold was Charles Chips Potato Chips. Of course, we would get them. I loved the barbecued flavor potato chips.

    When I got older, I would try to replicate the things I liked as a kid. But how do you make the flavoring that goes on barbecue potato chips? The only barbecue flavoring I am familiar with are the liquid barbecue sauces. Putting barbecue sauce on potato chips doesn't even sound appetizing to me though.

   I was able to replicate many things, but making the barbecue flavoring that goes on potato chips was a mystery to me. That is, until I learned how to make tomato powder.

   Months ago, I found some web sites that help me understand how to make tomato powder. The step was so easy I don't know how I could have missed it.

   All you do is to take a couple of tomatoes, put them in a slow cooker or Crock Pot and turn it on high for about an hour, or until the skins start splitting. Then turn off the slow cooker (I don't remove the tomatoes until they cool off.). When they are cooled, peel the tomato skins off. I use the tomato pulp for making tomato sauce. We eat a lot of pasta and the sauce goes quickly. But take the skins and either dehydrate them or put them in an oven, turn it on the lowest temperature and leave it on for about an hour or two. Take them out and see if they are dried. If so, they can be ground. It is hard to grind just a small amount of skins, so I would take the skins and put them in a clean jar if there is just a little amount of skins. Do this often and you will get enough skins to make a decent amount of tomato powder.

  Also, when I take the skins off, I place them on a glass, ovenproof plate to dry on. You can let them air dry, but if the air has too much moisture, mold could grow on the skins.

   Here is something I am going to try:

Spicy Tomato Powder

Handful of dried tomato skins
a few pieces of dried hot pepper

Grind both the tomato skins and the dried pepper. Use the powder on baked chicken, fish, meatloaf, roasted potatoes, etc. Sprinkle on salad to spice up a salad.

I have not tried this yet, but I think it would turn out really nice.

Here is a web site that has a recipe for making tomato powder using a dehydrator http://homejoys.blogspot.com/2013/10/how-to-make-tomato-powder.html

The recipes for making tomato powder on this site uses the whole tomato, not just the skins. There are also recipes for tomato sauce and tomato paste by adding water to the powder.

Here is the slow cooker I use. I like it because it is small, and it also has different temperature settings (low, high, or keep warm). I have two other slow cookers like this but they don't have any temperature settings available.

  They actually still sell the food dehydrator that I have. I bought mine many years ago and it still works fine. Amazon has several to choose from and I have heard good reports of Excalibur dehydrators, although they are more expensive than the others.
 You can use an oven for drying tomatoes, but keep in mind that the lowest temperature on most ovens is 170 degrees. 150 degrees is ideal, but ovens do not go that low on their temperature, so check your food often if you are trying to dry them in the oven.