Thursday, April 30, 2009

Chocolate-y Good!

I have a weakness for chocolate. I love it. I crave it. I EAT it. And even though I lost 20 pounds last year and have kept all 20 pounds OFF ... I NEED chocolate! About a year ago, Mr. Jones found a really good recipe on the internet for something called a "double chocolate chip breakfast cookie." A breakfast cookie?! I thought he was joking ... but if you know anything at all about Mr. Jones, you would know that he really really likes desserts ... AND isn't at all above eating a piece of pie for breakfast! What's extra nice about this recipe is that it does have some really healthy ingredients in it ... honest!
Double Chocolate Breakfast Cookies ~ Makes 36 servings
Prep time: 25 minutes

In a large mixing bowl, cream together ~
1/2 Cup of olive oil
1 Cup brown sugar
1 Egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of almond extract (optional)
1/4 Cup PLUS 2 tablespoons of skim milk

In a separate bowl, mix ~
1-1/2 Cups of whole grain flour

1/2 Cup of wheat bran
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 Cup unsweetened cocoa
1 Cup dark chocolate chips
1 Cup chopped walnuts

D I R E C T I O N S:
(1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Have greased cookie sheet ready.
(2) Cream together oil, brown sugar, egg, extracts and milk
(3) Blend in the rest of the ingredients except the chocolate chips and nuts
(4) Add chocolate chips and nuts last
(5) Drop generous teaspoons full about 2 inches apart on the prepared greased cookie sheet.
(6) Bake at 350 degrees for about 9.5 minutes ... not longer than 10!

Cool on a wire rack and then store in an air-tight container, with wax paper separating each layer of cookies (to prevent them all sticking together)

T I P S :
(1) This cookie dough is kind of sticky/gooey/icky/thick ... but as the cookies bake, they do spread out, so don't place them too closely together on the tray ... and remember to GREASE each tray.
(2) DO NOT OVERBAKE these cookies! Our recipe calls for 10-12 minutes, but I take them out at about 9.5 minutes. If I bake them longer, they tend to be too dry. Remove them right away from the cookie tray. They will appear to be very soft and almost NOT done ... but they are! They firm up as they cool.
(3) You can find wheat bran in most grocery stores in the regular baking aisle ... but if you can't find it, be sure to ask a worker for help.
(4) These are especially delicious when fresh out of the oven ... mmm ... warm, with a half glass of milk. But I actually have one every morning after breakfast with the remainder of the milk from my cereal bowl.
N U T R I E N T S :
Protein 2g
Carbohydrate, by difference 14 g
Total dietary fiber 2g
Calcium 15 mg
Iron 1 mg
Cholesterol 0 mg
Fatty acids, total saturated 1g
Total sugars 3g

These cookies have been great for me ~ I limit myself to TWO per day ~ they satisfy my craving for chocolate, plus they have the added fibre benefit which keeps my somewhat delicate digestive system very regular! We have tried this recipe out with the Rauch and the Jones grandchildren. They liked them and ate them right up, not even realizing these cookies were somewhat healthy to eat! Try it, I think you will like it!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

wonder ...

I never trod a rock so bare
unblessed by verdure-brightened sod
but some small flower, half hidden there,
exhaled the fragrant breath of God.
Author Unknown

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Team play ...

Today was the last Tuesday morning for women's Bible study at Calvary Church. Mr. Jones and I volunteer as helpers with the children each Tuesday morning, and today was the very last Tuesday until Fall! Since Mr. Jones is incredibly comfortable and helpful with tiny babies, he helps out in the infant nursery. Infants just are not my favorite age group! I am much more comfortable with 3's, 4's, 5's etc. Last Fall when the new term began, I was partnered with two other ladies to form a team of helpers for the 3's. Miss Heidi was the leader, and Miss Char and I helped out wherever needed. We also were fortunate enough to have Steffanie (high school age) to help us every week too. Together, the four of us played with and taught about 13-15 three-year-olds each week. We have come to love these children dearly ... and my "grandmother heart" was happy.
The first hour each Tuesday morning is playtime. We have a great selection of toys at church for the children. Here is Grace and Jessy building Duplo towers. They were very excited to have their pictures taken.
And Shaelyn, Peyton, Sophia, Lauren and Jessy helped Miss Heidi build a little playroom out of our ABC foam puzzles this morning.
Our story was about Jonah today and we had such a fun time telling it and acting it all out for the children. They got to be part of the story. Miss Char and Steff constructed this pretend boat on the floor with 13 little seats, one for each child. We assigned Steff to be Jonah, even though she is a girl, and the kids got to row the boat out in the middle of the huge ocean. Miss Heidi flashed the overhead lights for lightning and made a terrible storm with the boat going up and down enormous waves! We had the children yelling, "Help us! Help us!" I'm explaining how sick everyone got on the boat ...
And then Jonah (Steff) told people that the storm was his fault because he was running away from God! So everyone (all the children) helped to pitch Jonah overboard! And the storm immediately stopped!
Here is Jonah sinking in the water with the big fish (the tunnel) coming to swallow her/him up! We talked about what it was like to be in the belly of that fish (cold and dark and wet and stinky ~ with no food or toys or mom or dad or anything!) and I asked the children if they knew how long Jonah stayed inside the fish? Grace raised her hand and said with confidence: "Jonah was inside that fish for 33 days AND 33 nights!" Well, she had the 3 correct anyway! There was much else we taught with this little story about how much God loves us and how impossible it is to run away from Him. We had a great time together this morning!
This is Lilly. She is usually the first one to class each Tuesday morning and she helps me set up our room. She and her mom baked little gifts of banana bread (delicious!) to thank us for taking care of the children. I think I'm going to have to get busy and make a special card to send to Lilly's house this week to tell her how yummy that bread was!
"See how very much our heavenly Father loves us,
for He allows us to be called His children,
and we really are!"
I John 3:1

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Exquisite beauty ...

Today was the first day I ventured outside of the house since Sunday ... I've been down with a nasty head cold! But the sun was shining today, and April was one week away from being ripped from my calendar ~ and that meant there were only a few more days left to see the Foremost's Butterflies are Blooming exhibit over at Frederik Meijer Gardens! I had a wonderful three hours there and took tons of photos too. I wanted to show you just a few tonight, just so that you could share my joy in seeing these delightful little creatures God so amazingly designed.

"Let everyone in the world fear the LORD, and let everyone stand in awe of him. For when he spoke, the world began! It appeared at his command." Psalm 33:8-9 Leopard Lacewing2 Leopard lacewings landed together on this boy's shirt!
Julia Longwing
Tiger Longwing
Atlas Moth
Tree Nymph
Zebra Longwing

Aren't they something?! I have always admired people who could paint a great landscape or sketch the exact likeness of a person, or do a fabulous architectural rendering ... but I actually KNOW the Person who created all of this! Wow. :)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Daffodils and springtime ...

We've had kind of a leisurely week here at the Jones Junction. After a great time of morning worship at church, we enjoyed a wonderful Easter dinner over at our friends, Tom and Judy, last Sunday. Our volunteer schedule thankfully resumed on Tuesday, and it was a joy to see everyone again after being away for awhile. There is really nothing "newsy" to report ... just thought I'd check in and say "hi" to anyone out there who checks on us here in West Michigan.
We've been home from Texas now for two weeks and it's STILL difficult to find Spring! Last year when we arrived home (at almost the very same time on the calendar), the trees were all in bloom and tulips were beginning to poke their heads up all over our neighborhood. Perhaps Spring was early last year?
I've been "working" in the yard the past several days ... but it's really more like PLAY. Mr. Jones and I have filled many large waste bins with fallen branches, pruned bushes, and tons of leaves. We have our usual abundance of daffodils, though, and they are really the only color to be seen anywhere around! Yesterday, it actually reached 70 degrees under clear blue skies! That is all due to come to a rather abrupt halt ... tonight ~ with rain and falling temperatures. None of that will bother the daffodils, though. They are tough and very resilient ... and I am very thankful for them!

"As long as the earth remains,
there will be springtime and harvest,
cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night."
Genesis 8:22

Monday, April 13, 2009

Death and life ...

Easter is my favorite time of year. I love it even more than Christmas. The contrast between death and life is so evident everywhere I look ~ new and perfect leaves (beautifully GREEN) peaking through a forest carpeted in old brown dead foliage ... RED berries hanging on bare gray trees! Spring is finally here ... and in a few weeks, it might even be warm in Michigan!
Love crucified arose!
The risen One in splendor
Jehovah's sole defender
has won the victory
Love crucified arose!
And the grave became a place of hope
for the heart that sin and sorrow broke
is beating once again.
(Chorus to Love Crucified Arose by Michael Card)
"God is so rich in mercy,
and he loved us so very much,
that even while we were dead because of our sins,
he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead."
Ephesians 2:4

Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Lord, is risen from the dead! He is risen indeed!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Beautiful birthday boy ...

It's been almost three weeks since we've seen Matthew, and we've only just been home from Texas a few days. El Paso was our first destination this spring trip, and it seems already very long ago ...
I've posted just a few pictures of him from our day in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Actually, these particular pictures are from the CD's Jesse and Diana burned for us ... pictures THEY had taken from this day. I looked through the pictures I took of that day, but didn't like mine as much as I liked these ...
Matthew is usually a very contented little child. He plays well, is very active, and has a great imagination. I love to watch him engage in conversations with everyone and everything around him. He had a great time playing at the playground at the small zoo in Alamagordo.
Matthew also enjoys a good hug and is especially sweet to cuddle with ...
Matthew is engaging this turtle in a very very long conversation ... about something ... we never did figure out quite what!
You are a beautiful boy, Matthew John! We send you Happy Birthday greetings. We hope you like the gifts we chose especially for you ~ and even though you are 1600 miles away, you are very close to our hearts today.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Trip statistics and other thoughts ...

"Love all of God's creation, the whole and every grain of sand in it. Love every leaf, every ray of God's light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love." Feodor Dostoevski: The Brothers Karamazov
The mountains of New Mexico
White Sands National Monument
Padre Island, Texas Gulf Shore
The River Walk, San Antonio, Texas
Near Comfort, Texas
At a park in Bernham, Texas
Outside the Blue Bell ice cream factory
Bernham, Texas
"You know my every thought when far away. You chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest ... if I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me."
Psalm 139:2b-3 and verse 9
We have been far away and now we are home. I'm giving thanks to the Lord that He was with us every mile of our drive, through major cities, across the Mighty Mississippi, alongside mountains, in and out of little podunk towns, to and from seeing all of our loved ones. God was very good to us all along the way. Would you like to hear some statistics about our trip?

Total miles: 4,837
Total states: On the way down from Michigan: Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and then back into Texas. On the way home: Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and then home!
Hours in our van: 80+
Pictures taken: 3,287 total (1,926 by me and 1,361 by Grandpa Jones). We also have 4 CD's that were burned from pictures Jes and Di took, as well as ones Sabrina took. That's a LOT of photographs!
Favorite Hotel: The Drury Inn. We stayed at one in Pacific, Missouri as well as two nights while in San Antonio. They are decorated nicely and are clean. They have a wonderful hot breakfast buffet every morning, as well as a "happy hour" from 5:30 to 7:00 every night where there is abundant food and drink, all included in your night's stay! But we also liked the Comfort Inns and Suites ~ we stayed in several along the way.
Favorite Restaurant: It's difficult for me to choose between Cracker Barrell, I-Hop or Applebee's. All of them have nice menus with great senior (!) deals ... and I mustn't forget CHILI'S too! While we traveled, we breakfasted at the hotel, ate fast food for lunch, and then tried to eat a healthier meal for dinner. In many places, we found the serving sizes so huge we could actually split a meal and still be very full.
Favorite Families: Well, let me see ... the Pahman's, the Rauch's, and the Jones' x 2! Quickly browsing through our thousands of photographs, I have great pictures, cherished memories of wonderful times with everyone. I have a lot of editing to do and then I'll publish some beautiful family pictures ...

Monday, April 6, 2009

Saturday at Adam and Emily's ...

I never got the opportunity to tell you what we did over at Adam and Emily's on Saturday. We were just too tired by the end of the day to fire up the computer and upload pictures ... and we didn't really take that many pictures. In fact, Grandpa Jones never took his camera out of the van the entire time we were in Chaska ~ something about there being no grandchildren around to take pictures of! Come September all of that will change over in Chaska, and I imagine Grandpa Jones will take tons of photos then.

In the morning, Emily and I ran some errands together. I wanted her to help me pick out a hair extension (long story) and match the color to my hair ... so we did that. I have to read up about how to use it ~ there is an on-line site I can check out to see some styles, etc. and I'll do that once I get rested up from this very long trip. Emily also needed to go to a bead shop and purchase some beads for a gift she was making for a friend. We came back home and had lunch with "the boys", relaxed a bit, and then we all drove over to Eden Prairie Mall to walk around for awhile. We would have preferred to hike around Chaska and see some stuff outside, but it was too cold and windy to enjoy the outdoors Saturday. Emily and I went into Jamboree and looked at baby clothes for quite awhile ... we actually managed to get out of the store without a single purchase! They had some great sales going on, but since we don't know yet if #10 is going to be a boy or a girl, we decided to wait until we find out first.
For dinner, Emily mentioned a Korean restaurant she really enjoys ... so we drove over and ate dinner Korean style. Emily properly uses chopsticks and ate her entire meal that way. Adam is pretty good with chopsticks too. I gave it a try, but gave up! I ordered the best chicken fried rice I have ever eaten in my life. Mr. Jones also ordered the chicken fried rice, and between the two of us, we had so much of our dinners left over we are eating it tonight here at home. It's only 3:45 in the afternoon and I am counting the minutes until 5:00 when I can legitimately say it is time for dinner! Yum!
And since Sunday was Emily's birthday, she opened up the presents we had brought for her ~ and then we had fun looking through the Baby Names book for quite a little while. Meanings of names are so interesting. But my favorite book we got for her was "Love Letters for My Baby." I think Emily liked it too!
We had fun getting better acquainted with Pixie Cat. She is really a sweet little animal. Emily is feeding her some yogurt in this picture. Pixie wasn't too sure about Grandpa Jones and I. She kind of made herself scarce throughout our visit. Oh, and Emily did a very nice job trimming my hair Saturday night too. After being away and on the road for nearly 3 weeks, we were really too exhausted to do any high-energy types of activities Saturday. We've decided that in the future, we're going to take side trips to Minneapolis and not include it in our very long treks to and from Texas. Adam and Emily are coming home to Grand Rapids near the end of June for a baby shower one of Emily's aunts (I think) are planning for her. Sabrina and her family will be home at the same time ... how nice for all of them, after such a long separation, to be able to be together! We are looking forward to it.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

We're home!

This was the view from Adam and Emily's kitchen to their back deck at about 6:30 this morning. Snow!
We left Chaska around 8:00 a.m. after breakfast and our goodbyes to Adam and Emily. We were hoping to drive out of the snow and have a nice smooth ride back to Michigan ...
It's not a real long drive from Chaska to the Wisconsin State line and by the time we reached it, the snow had stopped coming down ... it had changed to a light rain.
Throughout the entire drive through Wisconsin it was mostly windy, cold, and now and again we would drive through a mix of rain and snow, but nothing terribly hazardous.
We drove through quite a variety of weather today, EXCEPT clear skies just weren't in the bargain. The grey skies kind of added to my gloomy thoughts of our spring trip being over ...
By the time we hit the Chicago area, we ran into very heavy rain that lasted all the way to the Michigan border. And once in Michigan, the rain changed over to snow and we even saw cars in the ditches on both sides of the highway. So we slowed way down and just took it easy. About a half hour from our house, the highway was completely dry for the first time all day! We arrived safely home at just about 9:30 this evening. We've unloaded our mobile suitcase (the van) and that's all we are doing for now! I'll post some pictures of our yesterday with Adam and Emily hopefully tomorrow.

It's Emily's birthday!

Last year, early on in my retirement, I was cleaning some drawers and closets in one of our spare rooms and stumbled upon this photograph of Adam's Emily. I don't know when it was taken, except perhaps before one of the many homecomings or proms they went to during their high school years ~
Isn't she lovely?

I was so struck by the beauty of this picture, I couldn't just put it in a pile of photos to be stashed somewhere in a drawer around here. I looked throughout the house and found a frame, and now this picture is appropriately displayed. Adam must have had another copy of it to have left this one behind when he moved out.

Today is Emily's birthday. We wish her the very happiest year yet. She and Adam are expecting their first baby in September. We bought her a couple of books we thought she might enjoy about becoming a mother. We have just left their house the morning of Emily's birthday, having come for a brief visit on the last leg of our spring trip to Texas ... Minneapolis not being at all near Texas, but straight up I-35 from Austin, kind of on our way home! We don't see Adam or Emily often enough so it was nice to be with them this weekend! Happy Birthday, Emily!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Our very favorite son-in-law ...

We want to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY today to Andrew. In this huge blended family of ours, he is our favorite son-in-law ... we don't even try to hide the fact that he is the most special one!
We love Andrew because he loves our Sabrina and lovingly leads his family in the ways of God. He faithfully serves them as he wholeheartedly follows Christ.
Andrew is very fun to be with. He likes to have a good time. He is very people-oriented, loves to meet new folk, is friendly and engaging with all kinds of people ... and well, he is just impossible not to like!
Andrew has been part of our family now for almost six years. It's hard to remember when we didn't know him. He was actually born in Austria and his for-real name is Andreas ... I won't tell you his middle name because it's just too foreign to be really appreciated, but when we want to tease him, we do use it occasionally ...
This picture of Andrew captures his personality ... it is evident he has deep affection for Grandpa Jones ... and we love him too! Happy birthday, Andrew!