Mary and Martha and Me

When I Was a Turkey

Several years ago our family tried a Thanksgiving experiment.

Instead of buying our Thanksgiving dinner, we only priced it and sent the amount to a mission.

We then asked God to give us a meal from His own hand that we could see was especially from Him. In our minds, it had to be cost-free, although this wasn’t a demand—we simply decided to see what He would do about our commitment. We were willing to take whatever He gave….

I know, I know, God gives us the strength, intellect, and grace to be able to earn the money, drive to the store, and so forth.

But we learned something from letting go of it like this: He can also sovereignly give us the actual food itself, just because we are waiting upon Him. This caused us to be thankful toward God as Jehovah Jireh (our provider), rather than wondering what in the world He has to do with our celebration.

The experiment became a kind of tradition for a few years. Each year was different; it was not always turkey and stuffing. We had chicken, duck, venison, and my favorite, the smoked turkey that appeared one day while we were gone.

Meat was always the test for me because I did not consider the free things from our garden as “too hard” for God.

See what I mean?

I needed this.

Everything about cooking Thanksgiving dinner this way was a big adventure. We had to improvise, learning as we went. We felt, indeed we were, exactly like pioneers.

We pretended Good-Old-Days, but they were, in reality, very good days.

We certainly were excited about all sorts of food and I think we ate better. The meat often was not processed. We had honey instead of sugar. And we were so thankful. We couldn’t help it—it just flowed from all that was happening.

Another unexpected result came of the experiment.

We questioned the entire “Thanksgiving Tradition”.

  • Sweet potatoes did not have to be candied, did they?
  • Whipped topping didn’t have to be fatty.
  • Crab applesauce was as good as cranberry.
  • The chestnuts off of our tree were excellent in stuffing.
  • Squash pie tasted just like pumpkin.

We learned to take our local blessings, instead of exotic imported foods, and spread them out into a feast that gave glory to the God Who provides for His own.

And more blessings! 

In our excitement, we also forgot to be harried. I, at least, emerged on the other side of the wall that separates us from gently rejoicing in God. He seemed so near. (Philippians 4:4-7)

Most of the United States was celebrating a day that, when it was established, in purpose and practice, was truly Christian. Thanksgiving has no questionable past. It has traditionally had no worldly festivities attached to it. It is simply a day set aside for our Christian nation, by its Christian leaders, to give thanks to God for all His blessings.

go-your-way-eat-the-fat-and-drink-the-sweet-and-send-portions-unto-them-for-whom-nothing-is-prepared-for-this-day-is-holy-unto-our-lord-nehemiah-8-10-1Into that quiet beauty, I had often inserted the bustle of a worldly attitude.

Suddenly, His delightful indulgence was leading me away from my prideful ideas about meal preparation. How humbling it was to be learning at His feet, and yet, how glorious.

It doesn’t matter if you use the recipes you will find, on this site, for “your dinner”, or even if you go to someone else’s house for it. It doesn’t matter if you buy or raise the ingredients. But do learn to spend time before God. And truly thank Him. Every day.


Katharine is a retired home educating mom who writes about all things “woman”, from a Godly viewpoint, here on this site, and at The Conquering Mom.  Her writing appeared in several magazines for 15 years, and she is currently working on several books. She loves to write, speak, teach, cook, garden, spoil her hennies, and watch old movies with popcorn.

Don’t Can in the Fall?

Some of the best canning I know of happens in the fall.

I love canning quick breads to use for fancy fun, such as those delicate get-togethers where our mothers used to wear white gloves and hats, where the napkins are real and the butter is whipped and the goodies are all made from scratch.

And the tea is hot, not iced, and there is no coffee.

I love to make pumpkin bread and can it for later use. It keeps for months on the shelf, in a jar, in a pantry, without preservatives. And it tastes great, even six months later.

What I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE about this bread is:

  1. The bread is round, and therefore somehow nicer for those la-dee-da gatherings or for when you just want to feel better about … things. 🙂
  2. The bread is over-the-top moist.
  3. The bread is super easy to slice thin and straight if you pull it out of the jar slightly and use the rim of the jar as a cutting guide.
  4. The bread makes an amazing and welcome gift.

The trick? Just follow these instructions and have fun.

You will need:

  • A good recipe for pumpkin bread. (Mine follows.)
  • All the ingredients for the recipe.
  • Six or seven straight-sided, wide-mouth, one-pint canning jars.
  • Lids and screw bands for the jars.
  • A pan of hot water for the lids.
  • Fork or lid lifter.
  • Canning funnel.
  • Sharp, non-serrated knife.
  • A sturdy, flat pan with a rim, such as a pizza pan or jelly roll pan.
  • One damp cloth.
  • One totally dry, thick towel.
  • Plenty of pot-holders or oven mitts.
  • An oven.

You will NOT need:

  • Nuts
  • Raisins
  • Any other such lumpy things in the recipe, no matter how much you may love them in your bread, if you want it to keep a long time. If you want it for tomorrow, lumps are fine.


1, Collect your stuff. Set oven for 350 degrees.

Jars like these.
Jars like these.

2. Make the batter. (Recipe follows instructions.)

Batter is ready.
Batter is ready.

3. Load the jars about half full, or a bit more.

Use funnel for neatness. Neatness counts.
Use funnel for neatness. Neatness counts.

4. Place loaded jars on sturdy pan and very carefully set in oven for about 15 minutes or until done. Use toothpick test for doneness.

Ready to bake.
Ready to bake.

5. While bread bakes, prepare lids: Boil water and place lids in it, then remove from heat. Do not boil water with lids in the water. Have screw bands, mitts, and both towels ready.

Ready to can the bread.
Ready to can the bread.

6. Remove one jar from oven individually, and set on dry towel. Quickly trim bread that has risen beyond top of jar with sharp knife. Quickly wipe rim free of crumbs and grease with damp towel and add lid and screw band.

Risen too tall. Trim.
Risen too tall. Trim.
Hide trimmings in your tummy!
Hide trimmings in your tummy!

7. Repeat with each jar, individually. Jars should seal almost immediately.



Sift together into large bowl:

3 1/3 cups plain flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
3 cups sugar

Quickly add, and stir in only until dry ingredients are moistened:

4 eggs
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
1 cup melted butter
2/3 cup water

Proceed with instructions above to can pumpkin bread.

IMPORTANT!: Do not add nuts or raisins or any other chunks, if you want this bread to keep a long time. Chunks will not become hot enough to be sterile, in this situation. If you want to use these immediately, chunks are fine!

We are going to love fall this year!

Much later: It loosens easily and slices breezily. Mmm!
Much later: It loosens easily and slices breezily. Mmm!

(This post listed on “My Hot Kitchen” . Lots there to drool over…)


Katharine is a retired home educating mom who writes about all things “woman”, from a Godly viewpoint, here on this site, and at The Conquering Mom.  Her writing appeared in several magazines for 15 years, and she is currently working on several books. She loves to write, speak, teach, cook, garden, spoil her hennies, and watch old movies with popcorn.

Our Thanksgiving Habit

One thing we do every year, almost as a habit, is smoke a turkey for Thanksgiving. A huge turkey.

I’ve posted about it before, but this year we will make two of them, and I got photos for ya! So here goes:

1. Thaw, trim, and rinse turkey.

Rinsed 23 lb. Turkey
Rinsed 23 lb. Turkey

2. Pour charcoal into fuel portion of smoker.

Enough charcoal for 12 hours.
Enough charcoal for 12 hours.

3. Set into bottom of smoker.

Charcoal in place
Charcoal in place

4. Do whatever you do to light charcoal.

Light charcoal
Light charcoal

5.  Once charcoal is very hot and turning white, add grill, to sterilized it.

Burning off the grill
Burning off the grill

6. Once all flame dies down, carefully remove grill and insert empty water pan in place over (not on) charcoals, and replace grill over water pan. Carefully fill with about 1 1/4 gallons of water.

Water pan in place over charcoal and under grill
Water pan in place over charcoal and under grill

7. Place turkey on grill.

Turkey on grill in smoker
Turkey on grill in smoker

8. Close smoker and go to bed.

Good night!
Good night!

9. Do not check progress by opening smoker!

In the morning, you will have a lovely smoked turkey. The meat should be tender and pink like ham. The joints should be loose or separating. The skin should be crackling in places and dark from smoke. Mmm! Look here!

Any questions? Ask in the comments, below, and I’ll be happy to answer quickly!

Have fun!

Edit to add: Our smoker is nearly burned out. 😦 Worst part is that we canNOT find another like it. Smaller ones do not work. Electric too expensive. The company that made our smoker just does not make them anymore. Help! 😉


Guesting Today!

Often when people ask me what I “do”, and I tell them I’m a writer, I feel a bit sorry for them because that information catches them so unprepared. Mercy, it’s awkward! It’s almost like when I used to answer that I was a home-school mom.

Oh, I’ve tried other titles: Retired educator is my favorite, for the “respect reaction” from inquirers, although one time I experimented with self-employed and had slightly wicked fun with the questions that ensued then, too.

Anyway, when I say I’m a writer, after they get over the initial shock, the reaction is usually delight and attraction.

It works on the days when you don’t want any complications in your path.

Today I guest post on the Arkansas Women Bloggers site, an honor I do not take lightly, because this remarkable promotional group takes women writers seriously (if they also blog about it.) It’s been fun to watch it grow and watch its founder succeed.

Although both of my sites have a “blog” element to them, and certainly did begin as Weblogs, I use them equally as traditional Websites, or even as archive sites, for connecting with home-educating women, and with women who find themselves unprepared for—or or even overwhelmed by—the sometimes uncomfortable or heartbreaking demands life has made on them.

There are hundreds of essays available via the search window right on this page, and also here, written to help, inspire, or delight women.

And there are several more, over at the Arkansas Women Bloggers site, including one written especially for today. I think you’ll love the delightfully charming photos of several of my ancestors.

Run on over there and enjoy it, Sisters, because I wrote it just for you.

From BLAH to BOOM! The 3 Ways to Jazz Up a Down Day

You feel it coming.

You remember the last time you sensed a blah day approaching, you ignored it, and boy was THAT a huge goof! Nothing got done. The whole day fell off the face of the earth….

Next time you’ll capture that day! Right? You’ll notice the rival advance and you’ll counter-attack! Right? Just wait! You’ll be so aware nothing will get by. You’ll push back until…umm…?


Actually, you will.

And here’s how:

First, learn to recognize the symptoms of a blah-attack.

If you don’t up periscope, you’ll find yourself already blah, beyond rescue, too late for intervention, so pay attention! Here are the warning signs:

  1. You feel bored/depressed/tired/hungry/or something nerve-wracking and indescribable; usually you deal with it by moping and wonder if you might be depressed.
  2. The kids squabble/rebel/dawdle/over-eat/or something you simply cannot figure out. It is out of character and growing out of control.
  3. Often the weather is lowering/glowering/hot/humid/or something almost unidentifiable, and often chalked up simply to “the heat” or “spring fever”.
  4. Perhaps someone was up too late last night, had too much sugar a few hours ago, visited naughty friends yesterday, or played a lot of digital games. Maybe you, maybe them who knows? But if you consider, that package with the m’s all over it, on the top shelf, is emptying fast, and come to think of it, you cannot find your tablet. Yep.

What to do! What to do!

These are ideas, only . We did these things and they helped. You are welcome to totally copy me and see how it goes.

You are also welcome to say, “She’s nuts! But I know what would work in my house!” I get that.

Because I’d probably feel the same about your post, if you came up with bizarre stuff like this. Read on…

  1. Intervene fast: When you get that crawly feeling under your skin, or that lead weight in your heart, make your plan, hydrate, grit your teeth, and go! Your home is worth it.
  2. Realize the whole blah thing is overtaking, or will overtake, the whole family, in spirit, soul, and body.
  3. Treat the body first. Children are mostly about the body. They get that. It’s like Jesus multiplying the bread and fish and then laying some heavy stuff on people afterward.
  4. Immediately after you get their attention, have a wise, soul-stirring, reviving maxim, message or motto at the ready. Something to clear the air, sharpen the brain, and stir the heart. Or all three.
  5. Follow up with Scripture, Christian music, or just go to your room and pray.

What happens next is important.

  1. Immediately you plan to do this, you will feel reluctant. As soon as you overcome your own reluctance, the kids will feel reluctant. Expect it and push past it with patience. It’s normal. Just go, and keep going.
  2. Once you get everyone on board, it still possibly can slip away from you. So stay wary.
  3. Not long into your plan, you will realize the current trouble is licked and you are well into a great crop of life-long victories, from which you can probably reap someday. Yes!

What does it look like?

Jazz up a down day from BLAH to BOOM!Here are examples of how I’ve dealt with our blah days. See if you can recognize the three parts (spirit, soul, and body)! And let me know if you get the giggles or want me to adopt you. ;)

  1. My favorite blah-beater of all time: I’d often combine body, soul, and spirit in one activity by getting the kids to grab their tambourines and wood blocks and join me in marching all around the interior of the house and singing, “He is the King of Kings! He is the Lord of Lords! His name is Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! O-o-oh He is the King!”
  2. Sometimes the most fun solution: I’d start a rubber band war. Seriously. I am very competitive and they knew to keep rubber bands withing easy reach. We’d chase each other awhile, then I’d put a stop to it and say, “Time to pick up!” They knew the importance of a time to pick up rubber bands, because the cat would get sick all over the house if it ate any. Yeah, I know. I was desperate. Then sometimes as the giggles  continued, I’d remind them that Scripture says laughter does good, like a medicine, and ask them if they didn’t feel the difference.
  3. Desperate measures, here: Sometimes, I’d institute quiet time. I’d make them lie down for a half-hour “nap”. They had to keep eyes shut the whole time, and lie still. If a nap ensued, fine; if not, fine. But if eyes or mouths opened during the time period, it started over. Often I reminded about not enough sleep making people grouchy or the importance of proper rest or whatever. Often I played Christian music during this time.
  4. After-lengthy-tennis-lessons slump: (free from a fellow home school mom!) we usually had ice cream to help us cool and quiet down, plus plenty of water. We’d then chat about what went well, socially, during tennis, and what did not, and what to do about it.
  5. One more (and I have plenty left, so ask!): Sometimes I’d make our lunch time a picnic. (Cool story here, by the way.) Walking to the picnic site, refueling, enjoying the beauty of the Creation, playing find-it games, and yes, discussing how amazing stuff is, like grass, clouds, etc., and how glad we were God has it all under control—all these things revived us.

Why not try it yourself? Spring or Fall are the perfect times for it! (Both for the blahs, and for revival!) And share with us how it goes for you! Cannot wait to see you smile!

Momentum – Ten Ways to Find It!

Glass marbles
Glass marbles*

I remember studying momentum in 7th grade. Who knew I’d need it someday?

That science teacher was great about showing fun examples to his bored students. For instance, when he wanted to illustrate some principle about sound waves, he picked up a yardstick and invited a student to come up to the front of the class and lean over.

Of course, it looked lots like he was about to get a good whacking.

Instead, our teacher merely whacked the table directly next to his volunteer. We all laughed. Then he explained the principle, which I do not remember. The example, yes; the purpose? Not so much. Sorry.

However, the momentum lesson, I remember.

The teacher showed a small cloth bag and asked us to guess what was in it. Of course, that was fun in itself, but then he dumped out the contents to let us see what we never expected: about 40 marble spilled out all over his desk and across the floor to all points in the room.

Lovely diversion.

Marbles ricochet, fit into small places, and are hard to see.

Hard to catch.

So we had our fun time chasing the things down and then came the lesson, which I also, for some reason, remember:

Once you get something moving, it wants to keep on moving, and if you add gravity, it just goes faster. That’s why it’s easier to go to bed after a hard day.

And it’s harder to get up before a hard day.

Today will be hard for me. Lots and lots to do. Mostly laundry awaits me, but there’s that meeting tonight, to which I must take some sort of soup and grated cheese, plus an inspirational talk. Added to that is a perfectly soggy outdoors, making wet firewood, wet trip to the chickens, and wet cat food with which to deal. (Oh, we’re happy as can be about having some rain, but it makes a wet world before it runs off.)

Sometimes, I just need some way to dump out the marble bag of my life and get it going. So this is what I do.

  1. Make a list. This only helps if you use it, but just as gravity pulling downward can add momentum, so will moving down that list.
  2. Start with a favorite task. One I love is sweeping the front porch. For you it might be cooking or wiping a mirror, but doing a fun thing first is just like dumping out that marble bag. You get things rolling with a smile.
  3. Add something “for show”.  There is nothing like making the bed or exchanging jammies for real clothes to make your eyes tell you “you are  on a roll, Girl!” whether it’s exactly true or not.
  4. Schedule a down time. Promise yourself a cup of tea or something, at 10:00, and make it stick. This will make you work harder as the hour nears, and also make you happier when it arrives. Besides, everyone on earth but you gets a break at ten, right?
  5. Change scenarios. Work indoors awhile. Work outdoors awhile. Do only one bathroom, then switch to something different before doing the next.
  6. Brainstorm ways to save labor. You own labor-saving devices, right? Think! Drop the burner bowls from your stove into that load in the dishwasher before you hit them with the steel wool. Try fluffing bed pillows in the dryer for a moment or two. Grate the cheese with the salad maker. Clean debris from a drawer or the oven or the sliding door track while you have the vacuum out for the carpet.
  7. Turn your housework time into spa time. Why not apply a mud treatment to your face and then attack some chore using the timer for both purposes? Why not do plunge moves while vacuuming? Try moving vigorously through your housework routines, thinking of extra ways to move, such as on tip-toe, or balancing on one leg. Ironing or phone time is great for adding leg exercises. Wear ankle or wrist weights while you work.
  8. Speed it up. Race the clock. Play fast music. Do two things at once. Or three. Go fast. Get that cardio rate moving right along.
  9. Avoid distractions. In our science demonstration, some of the marbles stopped cold when they slipped under tight places. I’m not sure we ever found all of them. You know Internet, TV, texting, phoning, reading the mail, etc., are what can stop us cold, sometimes. Delay gratification! You are older than two years, after all. Don’t lose your marbles over these things.
  10. Do it again, tomorrow. You will gradually get better and better at this momentum thing. You will eventually learn to time baking a pie with taking a shower or to make fewer trips to each room by planning ahead. You will one day have so much done you won’t believe it.

And the momentum that comes from THAT will take you places you never dreamed.

You go, Gal! And if you know any more such hints, SHARE!


* (Photo credit: asirap)

For the Rest of Your Life…

And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. Matthew 6:10

I used to feel a little guilty pulling that one out. I mean, there are plenty of Christians who pull Bible verses out of context, just to get what they want! Don’t need more of them!

But isn’t it true that quite often, we moms just would love a nap? Yep. And when Mr. Sandman is beating you around the head and shoulders with his sandbag, Bible verses about rest just seem so true!

So, pull, I would. I remember the first time I realized Jesus was telling his men to take a nap. Arrgh! I never wanted to be part of any Bible story more than that one. Well, unless it was walking on water . . .

But even that would definitely have to be after a nap!

Then one day I realized something about that verse. I realized it is a command . . . and OH, MY! did it work on my sense of self-worth!

The way the story goes, Jesus called his men aside and told them to rest because they’d not even had time to eat.

Yet the questions always come: How!  And will they let you?

Can you relate?! I certainly can!

Those hectic days when everything piles on top of everything else are exactly when we need to remember the command is to back off.  Of course, we cannot leave little ones unsupervised while we take a nap, but it is possible to slip into a restful mode and feel How to Get an Amazing Rest from a Crazy Busy Daythe refreshing that can get us through ’til the end of the work day.

Here’s what I learned:

  1. R is for RETREAT. No one will take you seriously if you keep on puttering in the kitchen or shuffling papers. If you don’t quit, you will never get there! Find an easy chair or couch or even a bed and make it look like you mean business.
  2. E is for ENJOY. No fair feeling guilty! Besides, a guilt trip is not restful. Tell yourself you need this and so do they. Smile and close your eyes. Sip a favorite drink. Get to another place in your imagination, if only for a few minutes.
  3. S is for SET A TIMER. Your appointment with rest is important. Make it a good fifteen minutes and make it inviolable time, too. Turn the phone off, give interrupters that blank look, and hush anyone who forgets this is your set time. The timer also assures you won’t over-do it.
  4. T is for THANKFUL. Tell your heart this is a God thing. Every minute is worth cherishing. That lovely feeling of having rested will take you through the rest of the day and even prolong the rest of your life. This is so good; love it for what it is worth.

It may not seem do-able, but you can do it.

Even taking a few moments out, just closing a door for one or two minutes, can make a difference in how we perceive things and how we respond.

It’s a command . . . Okay to obey!