Under Angel Wings


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day~ January 20, 2009

Today Barack Obama was sworn in as President of the United States by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, Jr.  Despite both of them baubling their lines during the oath of office, the entire day went off flawlessly.

President and Mrs. Bush were cordial and welcoming to the Obamas at every turn, even demonstrating their warm welcome by embracing them on several occasions, which historically is rare. It almost seemed that a relationship had developed between the two men, the current and future leader of the free world. By all accounts President Bush went out of his way to help insure in the last month that Mr. Obama and his staff would be fully prepared to take the reins of office on this day.

President Obama's speech was inspiring and lays the foundation for the future. I'm hoping and praying that the president will continue to move toward the center politically where he has his best chance of truly uniting this country, and therefore influencing the world community as well. We Americans desperately need to lay aside the bitter partisanship of the last few years and learn to work together once again. I'm sure everyone agrees on that, the only question is, will President Obama be able to achieve it? I truly hope and pray so. I know that Senator John McCain for one will be there to work with him.

Much has been made of President Obama being the first "African-American" president. Yes, this is true, and this is a day that we can all be proud of! Barack Obama's presidency brings Abraham Lincoln's presidency full circle in an interesting kind of way. For that we can all celebrate.

However, I look forward to the day when we can all just be "American." When we don't feel the need to attach the names of other countries to the name of our country when describing ourselves. I look forward to the day when the color of our skin won't even be mentioned when describing someone. That is when the issue of race will finally be laid to rest.

President and Mrs. Bush are returning to Texas today. While everyone may not have agreed with the decisions that the president made in the last eight years, I respect him because I know he truly tried his best to serve the interests of all Americans. He is a man of deep faith, courage and convictions. He served eight years in the White House, and came out the other side without having lost his soul to the opinion polls.

His presidency was dealt a huge blow on September 11, 2001. As President Bush himself has said, eventually everyone else was able to return to their former lives after that day, but him. He spent the lion share of his time devoted to protecting this country from further attack. He was successful in that endeavor, and I and most Americans will be forever grateful. Well done, true and faithful servant. May God bless, and the angels protect, both of our presidents!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

S'Mores Indoors!

A few days ago my great-niece Elizabeth came over to visit after school. We had a nice fire going in the fireplace, so we decided to make S'Mores.

My sister, Jan (Elizabeth's grandmother), and I have fond memories of making S'Mores from our childhood. Our mom, Mary, started a tradition that has lasted for decades in our family. Our family farm extends down to the river where we have had many happy hot dog roasts on the sandbar over several generations. All we needed to do there was build a fire, cut a stick off a bush and we were ready to roast and toast. In the wintertime, Jan and I would put our marshmallow on a fork and toast them over the electric burner on the stove. At my house, we toast them over the fire in the fireplace!

We don't know why or how it happened, perhaps it was born of necessity one day when she didn't have all of the ingredients, but mom always made S'Mores with Ritz crackers instead of graham crackers. Now, before you run screaming from the room at the very thought of S'Mores without graham crackers, consider how good a golden, flaky, lightly salted Ritz could be with a piece of melting chocolate and a warm, toasted marshmallow. Oh yes!! This you just have to try. Friends who have tried our S'Mores over the years were quickly converted to "our" way, so it will probably work for you as well. The combination of the lightly salted not-so-sweet cracker with the chocolate is unbeatable!!
                                                               The important ingredients
Lay out the crackers, marshmallows and chocolate pieces on a sturdy plate. Have a lot of napkins close by as well! I selected Hershey's milk chocolate bars for the sake of tradition, but whatever your favorite kind of chocolate is will do. I did not pick a thick candy bar because I've found that the pieces are too thick to melt and too hard to bite into. The thinner piece will melt as soon as the hot marshmallow is placed on top of it which makes it better.
Elizabeth tried out the long fork and learned to hold the marshmallows over the hot coals instead of the flames.
Watch them very carefully so they do not get burned, which is not healthy for us to eat.
Just perfect, Lizzie!! Hot, puffy, and lightly toasted.
Lay those marshmallows on the chocolate, put on the top cracker, and take a bite of your S'More. I asked Lizzie if she had ever tasted anything more wonderful in her life, and she said, "Oh, wonderful world!"
What fun, what fun. Thanks, Mom, for the memories!

Note: Did you notice a little Christmas tree on the fireplace bench behind Elizabeth? That is my angel ornament tree, the last little bit of Christmas decorations left up in our home. I can't bear to take it all down at once, so I leave the little tree up for awhile in January!

Friday, January 9, 2009

New Year's Joy, or Prayers Answered

Somewhere out there (on the internet) I found this image of an explosion of colors in stained glass. I love bright, vivid, colors so I was immediately attracted to it. It seems to perfectly represent the joy I feel in my heart today!

Someone who has a very close relationship with the Lord advised me a couple of months ago to be very specific in my prayers. So, instead of continuing to pray to God as I had for months that he please help my son find a job, around Thanksgiving time I began to pray specifically that God help my son find a good job before Christmas. 

This was a leap of faith, and I didn't even let myself think about how I would feel if it failed to happen. December was a busy time getting ready to celebrate Christmas, and I continued to pray the same prayer. Then, I called my daughter on the Monday before Christmas and asked her what she had been up to that day as she prepared to drive home the next day, and pick up her brother at the airport on the way.

She said she had just been to a job interview! I was totally amazed and excited, as her dad and I had been feeling for a long time that she was ready for the next step up in her career. After telling me about the new company, she said that they wanted to interview her again.

Both of my children arrived home on Tuesday and we enjoyed our pre-Christmas festivities. Occasionally I would wonder how our daughter had been so blessed as to be approached for an interview when she hadn't even been looking for a new job, especially in this time frame, right before Christmas.

On Christmas Eve we attended the midnight candlelight service, and on Christmas morning we opened our stockings by the fireplace and our gifts under the tree in the living room. I was just completely enjoying my family, not thinking about the prayers, or the time frame.

When the gifts were all opened, my son commented that since his gift for me had not arrived yet, he wanted to share something special with me. Then, he announced that on the way out the door to the airport he had received a call offering him a job, a good job for him! Just before Christmas. We were all so unbelievably thankful and happy! Actually I was stunned, as well, in a really good way. :D

This week our son began work at his new job, and our daughter had her third job interview with the new company last night. She was offered the job! She is ready for the challenge of helping found a new company. And it all started right before Christmas.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


We three kings of Orient are,
Bearing gifts we traverse afar
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star...

Oh, star of wonder, star of might,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect Light.

Today around the world many people are celebrating Epiphany, the day the three kings arrived at the stable bearing gifts for the baby Jesus. It is always celebrated on January 6th, the 12th day of Christmas.

In fact, in some countries presents are not given on Christmas Day, but at Epiphany instead. The three Magi, or Wise Men, brought gifts of gold, to represent Jesus' Kingship in Heaven; franincense recognized his Divine nature since we use incense to bless things and when we pray; and myrhh which foretold Jesus' death as man.

Epiphany means 'an appearance or showing.' Jesus was shown to the world, as a King, when the Magi found Him in Bethlehem. They represent the whole world looking for Jesus.

Years later, Jesus was shown to be the Son of God at His baptism at the river Jordan. When his cousin, John the Baptist, baptised him in the river, the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, appeared over his head. God's voice was heard to proclaim, "This is My Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."

Jesus was also shown to be Divine, God Himself, when He changed water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana. That was His first miracle!

More ideas to help celebrate Epiphany can be found at Domestic-Church.com
Search 'Exploring Epiphany.'

Monday, January 5, 2009

New Year's Dove Cookies

                                                                  Lemon Butter Cookies

On Saturday I had a meeting at my house, so I decided to bake some cookies I have been wanting to try. The recipe shows the cookies cut in dove shapes with a tiny heart cut out. I didn't have a dove cookie cutter or a heart that small, so a couple of weeks ago I went to a site online, Shop Bakers Nook, and ordered them. The tiny heart came in a set of three Wilton Heart Fondant Cut-Outs.  Here is the recipe:

Lemon Butter Cookies
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened (regular butter is fine)
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. grated lemon peel (at least 4 lemons)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 large egg plus yolks of 2 large eggs
2  1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Egg Wash:
yolk of 1 large egg beaten with 2 tsp. cold water

Coarse (crystal) sugar or granulated sugar

                                                             The important ingredients

Soften the butter in the microwave for 15 seconds or so. Do not let it melt completely, because
you will want to cool down the dough before you roll it out.
Grate the lemons and scrape it off the grater. There must be an easier way to do this! :D
I grated four lemons and only ended up with 1 Tbsp. So...when life gives you lemons, make lemonade!
I squeezed in about 1 Tbsp. of lemon juice to add some more lemon flavor!
Now you have the butter, sugar, grated lemon peel and some juice, the salt, and one large egg plus the yolks of two large eggs. Mix until pale and fluffy.
Add in the flour, and then I just mix it by hand.
This is only a single recipe so it will not require much stirring.
Flour your hands and divide the dough into four balls. Wrap with plastic wrap and put them into the fridge for at least 2 hours, or until dough is firm. If you want to speed things up and start rolling out cookies, put them into the freezer for 15 minutes, then transfer to the fridge. Only take one ball out at a time so that the others stay chilled. Pie and cookie dough roll out much easier when chilled.
This is what you will need for the second part: waxed paper, rolling pin, flour, an egg, and the cookie cutters.
Put down a piece of waxed paper (I use a plastic mat underneath to protect my counters), and lightly flour the paper and the rolling pin. Take one ball out of the fridge and gently roll out. As you roll, go around the edges with the left thumb and keep pushing in the edges so the dough remains round and not cracked. Continue to lightly flour the rolling pin so the dough does not stick to it.

Roll out the dough until it is approx. 1/4 inch thick. For this recipe I like a fairly thin dough, so you'll have a light, crisp cookie. Now take your dove cookie cutter and start to cut them out!  Important Tip: Dip the cutter in flour each time before cutting. Press down, then as you gently lift the cutter away, tap down very lightly on the left tail, wing and then head with your finger to help loosen it from the cutter so they won't tear off. Then cut out each tiny heart!
Before lifting off the cookies onto the tray, it is helpful to slide the tray under the waxed paper and set the tray in the freezer for just a few minutes. Then take out the tray and carefully lift off each cookie, gently popping out the heart. Line them up on the cookie tray.
Save all the scraps, and re-roll, combining with the new rolls coming out of the fridge. When you get down to the end of the dough, use the last scrap!! :D

If you would like to brush the cookies with the egg wash, do it now. It will give the cookies a bit of a golden color. If you want to skip that part like I did, and have whiter doves, just sprinkle some sugar on each cookie. I could not find the coarse, crystal sugar in our town, but granulated works just as well! The egg wash might be used to help hold the crystal sugar on the cookie.

I also took a toothpick and poked a small "eye" in each cookie and they really look like doves. The recipe made four trays full, almost four dozen, rolled thin. Bake 10~13 minutes or so at 350 degrees, watching very carefully! You want a crisp cookie, just barely tinged light golden around the edges.

Voila! I had plenty for my meeting and to take to church yesterday for coffee hour, and they disappeared so quickly. Yum! Happy New Year, family and friends.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Holiday Visitors

                                                                  Sylvia and Georgina

Part of the fun of the holidays is the special visitors that come by to visit. On Christmas Eve my honorary brother John (my sister, Jan, and I grew up on neighboring farms with John and his brother, Tom) came with his daughter Celia, her husband, Joey, and their baby daughter, Georgina. They live in New York City, and we had waited all year to meet the new baby! What fun it was to meet her, get some hugs, and show her our two puppies and our gingerbread man tree on the patio. Georgina reminds me so much of her mother, Celia, at that age, who was born just a few days after my daughter, Olivia. We'll have more of John and his family later, I'm sure!

                                                             Olivia, Sylvia, and Katie

The other very important people who dropped by to visit that day were Katie and her fiance, Vinson. Katie and Olivia have been best friends since second grade! Katie is a Stanford graduate, a medical school graduate, and is just about to finish her residency. She has accepted a position as an anesthesiologist in a city about an hour away from our home town. We are SO proud of her achievements. Katie and Liv grew up in each other's houses, so it was like welcoming home a second daughter. And it was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate Liv's birthday together!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Guide for a Happy Home

Always be honest

Count your blessings
PSALMS 34:1~3

Bear each other's burdens

Forgive and forget
MICAH 7:18

Be kind and tenderhearted

Comfort one another

Keep your promises

Be supportive of one another
ACTS 20:35

Be true to each other

Look after each other

Treat each other
Like you treat your friends

    but most importantly

deeply from the heart
1 Peter 1:22

"Home Rules" by Carole Taylor
Thank you to Edward Dullard of Kilkenny, Ireland, for permission to use his image.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year, 2009!

"The Lord bless you
  and keep you;

the Lord make his face
   shine upon you
  and be gracious to you;

the Lord turn his face toward you
   and give you peace."

Numbers 6:24~26