Saturday, January 31, 2009

... more pictures from my week

"May all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness. May all those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, 'the LORD is great!'" PSALM 40:16
It's been cold and snowy up north here in Belmont all week long. Each day, we got about 2" of fresh snow. I took some short drives around our neighborhood, as well as a drive out to Grand Haven (on Monday) and saw some beautiful sights. These horses over at Krupp Farms were very interested to come and see me, thinking perhaps I had a special treat for them. I don't know enough about horses to even begin to bring them the right thing!

I never get tired of Grand Haven! I hope some time I'll go out there on just the right day and get the photographs I really want ...
Mr. Jones took this picture of me shoveling the driveway from the upstairs front window ~ don't worry ~ he does most of shoveling around here.
Just a few blocks from us up on Samrick there is the quaintest house, small barn, and even a few horses ~ except they are fenced off and I couldn't get very close to them.
I think horses are some of the most beautiful creatures God has created ...

I found this beautiful farm off from 7 mile ... I love the fences ~ and what a great barn!
I've had fun taking pictures this week and I've made a bunch of cards as well ... just trying to hang in there until spring ...
"Shout joyful praises to God all the earth! Sing about the glory of His name! Tell the world how glorious He is! Say to God, 'How awesome are your deeds.'" PSALM 66:1

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Mmmm ... a quick and delicious dinner!

I readily admit I am not a good cook. I just don't have that special sense for it! But if I have a good recipe, I can deliver a good dinner!
Last week, Mr. Jones picked up some frozen haddock fillets, four packages of them ~ on sale of course. Since I LOVE fish, I decided to thumb through my cookbooks and see if I could find a decent recipe to try. I found a simple-looking recipe in my Betty Crocker Cookbook called, Pecan-Crusted Fish Fillets. I hope it's okay with Betty if I share the recipe with you ... it's really easy and very tasty!

Pecan-Crusted Fish Fillets (serves 4)
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk

1 pound fish: sole, orange roughy, walleye pike or
other delicate fish fillets, about 1/2 inch thick
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1. Mix pecans, bread crumbs and lemon peel in shallow bowl. Beat egg and milk with wire whisk or fork in another shallow bowl.
2. Cut fish into small serving pieces. Sprinkle both sides of fish with salt and pepper. Coat fish with egg mixture, then coat well with pecan mixture, pressing slightly into fish.
3. Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add fish. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook 6 to 10 minutes, turning once carefully, until fish flakes easily with fork and is brown.

Tonight was the second time I used this recipe. Last week when I tried it, we didn't have any fresh lemon to grate. However, I think the lemon part is completely optional and I actually prefer it without. Mr. Jones disagrees and said it was much more tasty tonight WITH the lemon.

I started fixing dinner tonight at 4:15 and at 5:15 we sat down to eat. I served the fish on top of a heaping mound of brown rice, lemon wedges on the side, as well as some veggies and fruit. Not at all fussy, but a very enjoyable meal!

Monday, January 26, 2009

my arctic Grand Haven afternoon ...

I drove over to Grand Haven this afternoon especially to photograph my almost-favorite lighthouse encased in ice ...

The first time I ever laid eyes on the lighthouse at Grand Haven was January of 1972. The weather had been much different that year ~ much warmer ~ and only a touch of snow. I was a freshman at what was then Baptist College and a few friends drove out to the lake, walked to the end of the pier, and went inside to shield ourselves from the wind. Yes! You used to be able to get inside the outer structure! We stayed inside for more than an hour and when we opened the door we found that the wind had picked up, a blizzard was upon us, and waves were crashing right over the pier ... we couldn't walk back!
We actually walked back on the ice-covered catwalk (the catwalk used to have a floor to it, but the flooring was removed years ago), climbed the high fence at the end, and made it safely home. Oh the folly of youth! I have loved this place ever since!
Last February when I spent an afternoon in Muskegon taking pictures of the lighthouses there, the temperature was in the low 20's. I remember thinking how completely invigorating and exhilerating it was to be outside that day! This morning in Grand Rapids, however, the air temperature was -4 degrees. Look how far out the ice is on Lake Michigan! I couldn't see water at all!

Good thing I dressed in lots of layers because the air was SO frigid ... a sharp, cutting, take-your-breath-away, icy, piercing, penetrating, numbing, teeth-chattering kind of COLD! There was so much ice on the walkways, I really didn't walk very far today on the pier.
The sky was very grey and overcast all afternoon. I was hoping the sun would break through at some point; the photographs would be more interesting that way, but it was not to be! The wind was pretty brisk, but at least there was no snow falling.
I went around the Ferrysburg side and took North Shore Drive to the end to get this view. I have only been on the north pier one other time in my life, more than 15 years ago ...!
It was getting pretty late in the afternoon when I took these pictures. I was going to stay until the sun set, but with the sky so dark with clouds, I wasn't very hopeful of seeing anything worth photographing; besides the fact that it didn't look safe to be out there in the dark!
I'm thankful I got to do this today. I've been wanting to for several weeks, but we've had so much snowfall and quite a few bad storms. I don't like driving distances in that stuff. I was actually blown right off the highway into a deep snowy ditch between Grand Rapids and Grand Haven that same winter (but a different day) of 1972 ... I wasn't the driver, but it was pretty scary! We hitchhiked all the way back to town ~ the only time in my life I have ever been that stupid! Well, enough reminiscing.
I'm always looking through Scripture trying to find more "light" verses. I like this one very much from Isaiah the prophet: "Feed the hungry and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as day." (Isaiah 58:10). A pretty poignant description ... I want my life to shine like that ...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

wonderful, happy news!

"You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!" PSALM 139:13
It was unusual to have our phone ring last night at 9:45 p.m., and I thought perhaps something newsworthy had happened ... and I was right! Adam and Emily called to announce they are expecting a baby ... perhaps at the end of August ... or maybe not until September. What happy news!

What will this baby be?! Grandchild #10! If they have a girl, we will have six granddaughters to four grandsons! If they have a boy, everything will be even. But of course, this is their very first little one and so it is especially special to them, and it will be very precious to us as well.
So, remember when I was wondering WHOSE picture would fill the little bugle photo-ornament (the empty one underneath the tree) on our miniature family tree? Lord willing, it will be this beautiful child, born to Emily and Adam ~ congratulations you two! We couldn't be happier for you. :)

Friday, January 23, 2009

a cozy winter night ...

fireplace glowing warm with light
photographs of the grandchildren
enraptured with heavenly music on the stereo
wonderful endless beautiful books with places to explore
wrapped in a thick blanket
on a cozy winter night ...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Bitter cold but beautiful ...

"The steps of the godly are directed by the Lord. He delights in every detail of their lives." Psalm 37:23
I was in Rockford this morning for my yearly physical, and since the sun was making a very unusual but spectacular appearance, the sky amazingly clear and blue, I took a brief hike up the boardwalk just north of the Rockford dam ...
From all of the footprints I could see, it was evident a lot of folk had been walking this trail recently ... but not when I was there this morning. No one was in sight! It was so peaceful and quiet ...
I don't want to wish this time away ~ what if this is my last winter to be alive on the earth? It's true ~ I spend a lot more time inside than outside (and I don't like it!), I complain about the cold, I feel confined and a bit claustrophobic ... but I do appreciate the amazing beauty God creates in these winter months. It helped to see the sun today! Just thought I'd share these pictures ...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Dreaming ... and praying ...

I've been rather drawn to my photos from Padre Island these past few freezing weeks up here in the North country, so I've done some editing of them and I even made a few cards ...

This passage of Scripture is from Psalm 90: "Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives ... let us see your miracles again; let our children see your glory at work." (verses 14 and 16)

What a wonderful prayer ... for contentment in God's unending love, to sing for the joy of all He is, to share that with our children. Nothing can match that kind of happiness.

We've been really really COLD in Michigan for awhile now ... and more cold is moving in ... I think from Minnesota!

Our outdoor thermometer registered ZERO at about 9:30 a.m. The sun was out, the shadows were gorgeous ... but I did not go outside to take pictures! Mr. Jones shot these with his very nice camera from inside the house. The sunshine was coming through the doorwall in the front room, and Thomas K. and I were sprawled out on the floor basking in it.
"Praise the LORD; praise God our Savior. For each day He carries us in His arms." Psalm 68.19 I would rather be on Padre Island ... or anywhere else on this planet that was sunny and warm. But on this day, frigid as it is, God still carries me safely in His arms.
I'm using the above picture as the background on my computer for the next little while. Well, there is nothing wrong with dreaming! "Both day and night belong to You; You made the starlight and the sun. You set the boundaries of the earth, and you made both summer and winter." Psalm 74:16-17

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Some pretty winter pictures

Yesterday, my camera and I went for a little drive. It's been cold and snowy with very gray skies in West Michigan for a long time. In December, we only received 5% of our possible sunshine! Usually, I don't mind this so much ... it's kind of like living in a black and white world; and I really like black and white! But I'm beginning to kind of miss the sun. Today, I sat at my computer for over an hour editing my October pictures from Padre Island with the pounding waves, brilliant blue sky, the sandy seashore ... and dreamed of being there.
I really should have taken a hike yesterday, instead of a drive, but there was a fresh layer of snow so I drove up to Krupp Farms to see if the horses were outside and if they would pose pretty for me ... but they were not outside ~ smart horses ... it's really really cold!
I took a brief walk, but all of this is private property and I didn't want to be obnoxious.
I also drove down West River Drive until it turns into Cannonsburg and ended up over at Townsend Park. I can't remember the last time I was there.
When my boys were young, this is where we used to go frog hunting ... naturally NOT during the winter ...
The sun came out for the briefest moment to sparkle on the little creek ...
My feet were so numb from the cold, I didn't stay outside for very long. I thought perhaps all you folk in hot and sunny Texas were perhaps missing the beauty of the snow ... so I've posted these pictures just for you! Say "hi" to the sun for me, OK?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I knew this would happen ...

I finally began the completely UNinspiring task of UNdecorating our house today! In most year's past, this is what I accomplish every New Year's Day. And then after everything is all put away, I watch The Sound of Music ... because it's a great story ... and the scenery is breathtaking (I've always wanted to go to Austria!), Julie Andrews's voice is beautiful ... and Christopher Plumber's eyes ... whew! But this year, Mr. Jones and I were at a New Year's Eve party and didn't return home until almost two o'clock in the morning ~ AND our little grandchildren were still in town visiting again on January 2 ... I certainly didn't want to take all the pretty things down until the children had gone!
When I decorated our living room Christmas tree, I could NOT find my Willow Tree nativity ornament anywhere ... I looked and looked! I love this ornament, not only because it is beautiful and goes perfectly with our tree, but because it was given to me by my dear friend, Judi, who I worked with for years and years! I was really annoyed because not only was I missing this ornament, but I couldn't find my two beautiful angels that were given to me by another dear friend, Janice Marie! WHERE COULD THEY BE?!!
It turns out that both missing treasures were together UNDERNEATH a bag of pine cones in a discarded popcorn tin I was using for storage. I remember now that I put the pine cones there when I was tearing stuff down last year and plopped these two special gifts with them ... but neglected to label this tin. I took one peek in this tin weeks ago, saw the bag of pine cones, decided NOT to use them on the tree this year and never lifted up the bag to discover what lay underneath. I knew this would happen! I knew I would find these beautiful gifts when I was UNdecorating ... sigh. I really really wanted these displayed this year.

I made some small progress this afternoon. I took apart our small family tree and put all of the dining room decorations away. And I hauled all of the boxes out from under the stairway and brought them upstairs to the living room where TOMORROW I intend to UNdecorate everything else ... a laborious activity, but it must be done! I have already watched The Sound of Music ... a few nights ago with Mr. Jones ... I know this was completely out of the natural order of things, but I did it anyway.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

72 days ...

Would you like to see and hear about the last night and day we had with the Pahman grandchildren?

Thursday evening, we girls decided we needed to paint our nails ... but first we had to trim them.

Emma was SO excited to paint my nails! We used a clear nail polish that had pink sparkly glitter in it. "This is just like what Aunt Emily does, isn't it Grandma? She does girls' hair and nails and makes them pretty. That's her job!" so said my Emma Joy.
Emma painted my fingernails first; then I did hers ~ and then we did each others' toenails! They were very sparkly when we finished.
I got out the Christmas present I bought for Grandpa Jones (!!) and read the stories with each of the kids separately so that they could wind up the little train themselves and see it go around the tracks!
Matthew was especially delighted ...
... and needed his tongue to help wind the little engine up!

Emma and I played with the ABC blocks. We made all kinds of short words, sounding out the letters together, and then Emma stacked them all up and made this tower.
Matthew was a little bit pouty while waiting his turn ...
... but when I asked him to smile for the camera, he did a pretty nice job even though he was still feeling pouty on the inside!
We did our whole play-doh routine again because it really is a lot of fun ... AND it is something all three children can have fun doing together. A lot of times around here, one of the kiddos will want to play in the playroom downstairs (with me) while another one wants to play in the family room (with me) and the other wants to read books (with me) ... so it ends up that one or the other of them is somewhat unhappy since I can't do all three things at one time with them.
I have plenty of equipment to go around to all three children with play-doh ... but they still have to share and wait their turn if they want to use the play-doh factory or another toy I only have one of ... but that's OK because learning to take turns and trying to wait patiently is part of growing up!

Matthew spent some fun time with Grandpa in the family room while Emma and Christopher and I built with LEGOS in the playroom.
Emma was very proud of the model she designed ... and she decided that the one I made was especially for her!
We also read a bunch of books together. Believe it or not, reading to three children can be stressful. I think it's because there are THREE children instead of just one or two. With two children, you can comfortably sit on a couch with one on each side of you and read while they both look at the pictures. But you can't do that with three children because someone always has to NOT sit right next to grandma ... and that's a problem!
So a few of our reading times took place at the dining room table where I could walk around with the book, read a page and then show the pictures to each of them separately ...
... not ideal, but we made it work for us! I love reading books to little kids, asking them lots of questions after each page, seeing if they will know how the story ends, or just showing them a picture and have them tell me the story without the words!
I knew that this was my last day to see the children for awhile. I didn't mention it to them, though, because I just wanted them to play like every other day. But I was very aware that time was running out ... I wanted to make the most of every single minute ...
And then before I knew it, Jesse and Di were here to pick up the children!
Emma was sad to leave her Grandma Jones ... and well, sad is quite an inadequate word to describe my feelings. Jesse tried to comfort her. And I showed her the calendar in the kitchen and counted out the days (72) until we would be leaving to drive down to Texas to see everyone again.
Christopher was pretty undaunted ... he is always on the move, ready for the next activity ...
We reluctantly helped load the kids into their SUV, gave innumerable hugs and kisses, cried, and waved good-bye as they drove down the driveway ... until we couldn't see them anymore. They were planning to sleep the night at Di's folks and then begin their trip back to Texas early this morning.

Ten weeks from now, Grandpa Jones and I will be packing and getting ready to head south. My eyes haven't been dry much today and I have such an ache inside. It's really difficult to have all nine of our grandchildren live so far away and have months go by without being a part of their lives ... but I'm trying to make the best of the situation and do what I can to be a faithful grandma to all of these beautiful children.