Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Getting lost and found

A few weeks ago, a friend and I took our kids for a hike. We'd both been to the area before and felt we knew it well enough - we were trying to pay attention to the trail codes and everything. Somehow, though, we got off track. I'm still not sure where exactly we went wrong, but it was bad. We had been scrambling over fallen trees and large rocks, coaxing the little ones along and sliding down steep slopes. We didn't think we'd be gone long, so we left our water bottles in the cars, and every one of us was tired and soaked in sweat.

When we finally came to a place where I thought we'd be getting back on track, a rather grumpy woman came out to inform us we were trespassing on private property, we were nowhere near where we wanted to be, and the only way to get back was to go right back down to the dangerous and tiresome scrambling we had just fought our way out of.

I don't think I was the only one who wanted to cry.

By God's mercy, I decided to get my phone out, checked where we were on google maps, and set a course for where we wanted to be. It took a while, everyone was tired, hungry and hot, but we made it through (without actual tears, which was amazing, I tell you).

The interesting thing I learned, though, is how I didn't actually realize how lost I was until our cheerless messenger let us know how off course we really were. If she hadn't of informed us of this brutal truth, we probably would have continued on, hopefully thinking we were just around the bend from where we wanted to be. However, once I realized how bad the situation was, I turned to the map that would show me the way. It wasn't an easy route out, but we had confidence that we were headed in the right direction.

It made me think how often I can be tempted to bumble along in life, never realizing how a couple of foolish decisions or a failure to pay attention can lead me down a path that leads to nowhere. Sometimes, while we're haplessly wandering, Providence will send a warning our way - someone or something that reveals our true situation. No one likes to hear they're lost, but until they accept that they are in pretty bad shape, they have no hope of charting a new course. Likewise, unless someone tells me I've wronged them, or shows me where I've neglected my responsibilities, or is prepared to confront me with my sin, it's unlikely that I would the need to fix what I didn't know was broken.

I would recommend a caveat, though. We are to speak in love, out of a desire to restore, rather than condemn or punish. When this woman came to drive us off her property, she seemed more offended that we disturbed her, and less concerned that we were lost. (Threatening 2 women and 10 kids with a couple of attack dogs didn't help.) As believers, however, we should be more concerned with our brother or sister's good than with "setting them straight".

Has there been a time when you had to deliver or receive the "hard message"? How did it go? 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Cheery Cherry Lemon Cake

I first made this for Anna's first birthday, and it's been a fixture ever since. It's best while the cherries are in season - like now!

  1. Preheat your oven to 375F. Grease a lasagna-sized baking dish.
  2. Coarsely chop 1 1/2 cups pitted sweet cherries and pat dry. In a separate bowl, combine 2 1/2 cups flour, 2 1/2 tsp baking powder, 2 1/2 tsp baking soda, and 1/2 tsp salt.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat 3/4 cup soft butter on high for 30 seconds. Add 1 3/4 cup sugar and 1 1/2 tsp vanilla and beat until fluffy. Add 3 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add dry, flour mixture and 1 1/4 cup milk alternately to beaten mixture. Stir 2 tsp shredded lemon peel. Pour batter into pan, then sprinkle the chopped cherries on top. (They will sink, mind.)
  4. Bake for 30-35 min and cool completely. Cut into pieces and add a dollop of some cream cheese frosting to each piece and top with a cherry.
  5. To make the cream cheese frosting, combine an 8 oz package of cream cheese, 2/3 cup butter, 2 tbsp. lemon juice. Beat well, then add up to 3 cups of sifted powdered sugar and beat well.
I never got a chance to take a picture - it went pretty fast, but Taste of Home has the recipe, as well, along with this photo:

Truly, this photo doesn't do it justice - it looks much better in the flesh (and on my plate)!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Halfway Through our Summer of Fun

Well, it's shaping up to be a pretty busy summer. We are being sure to work on our Summer o' Fun list, though! We've...
...had water gun fights
...gone to Summer Blast
...visited the Kutztown Festival

...completed our library's reading challenge
...visited Fort McHenry
...gone fruit picking
 ...went to play mini golf
...made some tie dye t shirts
...and there's more to come! In the coming weeks, we've got plans for the beach, Six Flags Great Adventure, a backyard campout complete with games, etc. We may not get to everything on our list, but so far, I think we're doing a pretty good job of keeping fun an important element of a very busy season.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Some lovely links

Prioritizing the mending pile - I never really thought about this, but it's really just another kind of organizing. I like organizing!

Life expectancy a century ago - just a really interesting article...

For the homeschoolers - this encouragement came along at just the right time for me.

Decorating a rented house - there are some great ideas here!

Takin' the toys! - we haven't gotten to this point, but there is something rather attractive in the idea...

Racial profiling - I was appalled. Then, I wondered how I would have behaved...

Monday, July 22, 2013

Peach season!

It's been about 3 years since I've posted my recipe for Crock Pot Peach Jam, and interestingly, it proves to be one of my most looked at posts (according in a google search). Since the peach season is wonderfully upon us, I thought it would be helpful to repost:
Fresh Peach Jam

(from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook)

You'll need:

About 2 pounds slightly underripe peaches (7 to 8 large)

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

One 1.75 or 2 ounce box powdered pectin (optional)

3 to 4 cups sugar, to taste

1. Peel the peaches by dipping them into a pan of boiling water to loosen the skin, then immediately cool them by holding under cold water. The skins will slip off. Remove the pits. In a large bowl, coarsely crush by hand with a potato masher or pulse a few times in a food processor; you'll have about 5 cups of pulp. combine the peaches and lemon juice in the slow cooker; sprinkle with the pectin, if using (I didn't bother). Let stand for 20 to 30 minutes.

2. Stir in the sugar. Cover and cook on LOW for 2 1/2 hours, stirring twice.

3. Remove the lid, turn the cooker to HIGH, and cook 2 to 3 hours longer, until the jam achieves the desired consistency. Ladle the warm jam in to clean glass jars & let stand until cool.

To sterilize your jars, either run the jars and lids through the dishwasher or wash in hot, soapy water and heat in a coolish oven (about 300F) for 10 min.
Mine is in the crock pot as I write. However, I've got loads more peaches to deal with, thanks to a half bushel purchase yesterday. So, here are a few other peach-y (ba dum bum) ideas:

Friday, July 19, 2013

Some completed projects

Small amounts of yarn and quick projects is where I'm at, at the moment...
The Rikke Hat is currently in process. The Mochi Plus by Crystal Palace is a lovely, soft variegated that's going to looks so good on my head. When it's cold enough, that is.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Intouchables

I heard of this French movie a few months ago, surfing through trailers. As soon as I saw the trailer, I started keeping an eye out for the DVD. Just last week, Toby found it at the library.
The Intouchables is this fabulous story of a wealthy quadriplegic and his thoroughly unqualified and street-rough care-giver. Though not billed as a comedy, we laughed all the way through, mainly at the larger-than-life ex-con carer (Omar Sy). The rich invalid guy was familiar - we'd seen him in the French version of Harlan Coben's Tell No One, which was also excellent.
Though I always love stories of unlikely friends, I will confess that the language is a bit rough in places (though it doesn't seem so bad when it's in French!). If you're put off by having to read subtitles, you may not have the patience to keep with it, either. It's not long before you forget that you're reading, though, and the fact that it's based on a true story (which we didn't realize at first) is a bonus.
So if you're looking for something a little bit different, see if you can get it at your local library. We may not be Siskel and Ebert, but Toby and Kelly give it two thumbs up!

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Baltimore Museum of Industry

We'd heard great things, over the years, of the Baltimore Museum of Industry, and we figured we should probably make use of these great facilities while we are still able to. Can we say, "field trip"?
It's a well-appointed joint, with all sorts of interesting displays. The grocers, cannery, workshop, apothecary, printers, tailors and more are all represented in different rooms with all the assorted items associated with the trade. Different printing presses, medicinal jars and workshop tools are all on display. 
 For those who don't know much of Baltimore's history, it's instructive; for those born and bred here, it's a celebration of local ingenuity and progress. It was incredible to see how many industrial processes got there start here in Baltimore!
The only downer was how little there "progress" there was toward making the museum "child-friendly". Most rooms had a little green box with a couple of booklets, puzzles or some Duplo inside, but that's all there was for the kids to engage with. My kids were so much more interested in the displays, which were all set up as if the workers stepped out for lunch but would resume work shortly - meaning, there were tools and cans and jars and just stuff left out for authenticity. What kid, well-behaved or no, would rather look at a picture than touch the real thing? Not mine, that's for sure.

So, while I would definitely recommend paying a visit the sometime, it might be worth waiting until your kids are in the preteen years - or so young that they're still confined to a stroller.  Maybe by the time they're old enough, the museum curators will have made some more child-friendly adjustments.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The next (uncomfortable) adventure

It's been more than 5 years, now, since my husband has started exploring whether he might be called to pastoral ministry. I still remember the morning God got his attention through Ecclesiastes 3:11:

 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.
Over these last 5 years, God has provided opportunities for Toby to preach, lead a care group, serve in children's ministry and various other capacities, and even work a 4-day week to spend one day each week at church, serving on the leadership team.
Earlier this year, Toby was invited to apply to the Sovereign Grace Pastor's College in Louisville, Kentucky. His application, complete with recommendations for our pastors, was accepted last month.
And now, it's time for the next step on this crazy adventure.
This September, we'll be packing up the clan, renting out the house, and heading southwest. It's going to be difficult to say good-bye to friends, neighbors, and family, but we are in faith for all God has called us to.
Interestingly enough, we don't know what that is yet. We are excited by the prospect of being involved in a church plant, but we're not totally sure where that will be. There are, currently, no fixed plans after June.
Through all of this, we have seen and continue to see God's guidance and provision for us. Though we are "going, not knowing", we know the One whom we serve and that is enough for us. We would covet your prayers, however:
  • that we would find a family to rent our home (we have already organized a home to rent in KY)
  • that all the moving details would come together
  • to coin a phrase, to "make new friends and keep the old"
  • for the kids to adjust to new...everything
  • for Toby's step back into full-time study, after more than 15 years of the working world
  • for a church to serve at the end of college
  • for wise financial stewardship during a year of no income
 In all these things, we are trusting God and His faithfulness. In all these things, too, we are out of our comfort zone. Yet, Hebrews 13:12-14 encourages each of us:

So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.  Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured.  For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.

While it would be easy and pleasant for us to continue to carry on as always, we feel that Jesus is calling us to step outside the safety of the camp and join Him in what He is doing. We know that we are safest where He is, wherever that might be, and we're excited to be involved in His kingdom-building mission.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Orchid Cowl

A simple pattern with lovely soft yarn.
 It makes the knitting such a pleasure, as does the knowledge that you're using up just a little more yarn in your closet.
Details on my ravelry page.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Location, location, location

After I hung up a load of laundry outside, I noticed a wren flitting around with nesting material in his beak. I assumed he was building a nest in our canoe. Again.
 When I pulled the laundry off the line, I realized my mistake as soon as I put my hand in the peg bag...
 That poor bird must have worked awfully hard to stuff all that material into my peg bag in just one afternoon!
Thankfully, there were no eggs, but I still think the local house wren population needs a better realtor.

Friday, July 5, 2013


Well, it took him nearly 7 years, but Noah finally managed to loose some teeth!
Because it's Noah and he doesn't tend to do the conventional thing, he lost two at the same time.
Okay, so he lost one and then I pulled the other wiggly one out. I did have permission, though.
He's the only Gayner kid to have received a dollar bill for his teeth, much to the indignation of his sisters - evidently the Tooth Fairy pays delayed tooth loss with interest.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Wet Weather Fun

A couple weeks ago, friends asked us to join them for a picnic and swimming trip. Unfortunately, it rained on our parade, but these friends of ours are smart - they had a backup plan. What do you do with a dozen or so kids that were hoping to spend time swimming? You take them to the mall for a scavenger hunt, of course!
3 moms with a combined total of 16 children split up into 4 teams and wandered all over our local mall looking for the mall map...
...having pictures taken with an employee (fairly rubbish pictures, but whatever)...
...saluting in front of the Yankee Candle store...
...and collecting various other items like employment applications, tissue paper, and strangers' signatures. It was so fun - for the kids and for the moms. I think the highlight for us parents, though, was the opportunity to publicly embarrass our children by providing the winning team with a victory dance. Who could pass that up?

Monday, July 1, 2013


Anna had her ninth birthday yesterday. Of course, this is where I join the ranks of countless parents in saying how quick it's gone and how I can't believe she's growing up so quickly...but that's boring. So, let me share with you nine things about Anna, for her ninth birthday:
  1. She's an excellent musician, with a great ear and a natural affinity. She's coming along well with her piano playing, and has expressed an interest in the saxophone and the viola!
  2. She is incredibly friendly. Anywhere this girl goes, she makes an instant friend.
  3. She's really protective. She really personifies the idea that one can torture one's own family, but pity the outsider who gives it a try.
  4. When asked which special people she would like to spend time with, her extended family - grandparents, cousins, etc - are usually the top of the list.
  5. She's got an amazing imagination. Pretend games are the main diet of play in our house, and it's usually Anna who's at the center of organizing some elaborate plot for everyone to act out.
  6. She will probably grow up to at least experiment with being a vegetarian. I know of no children who get as excited as she about salad!
  7. She can be very compassionate. When Dan swallowed a marble a while ago, she was in tears thinking that he might have been hurt. (It passed without incident)
  8. She's energetic. After being awake at some ungodly hour, she had enough energy that I found it necessary to have her run up and down the road for a while!
  9. She can be forgiving. In decorating her cake yesterday, I got distracted and instead of putting a "9" on her cake, I got half way through a "5" before I realized what I was doing. I quickly tried to make it into a "9", but it ended up being more of a "6". Before I fixed it (I really did!), she looked at it, cocked her head and said, "Thank you?"
Happy Birthday, my sweet girl.