Thursday, December 30, 2010

My top secret Cinnamon, Cranberry Bread recipe…

I must begin with a disclaimer.

I think I’ve only followed a recipe exactly once in my life.

I made Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon EXACTLY.

You can read about that here.

So, because of my easy going cooking style you will have to put up with a little “inexactness” in this recipe….because you see, I invented this one years ago out of my own head, and well, there you go…I’m more creative than exact.


Elizabeth’s Cranberry Cinnamon Bread

First, “proof” the yeast.

This means make sure the yeast is active before you ruin the whole batch of bread,

and instead of bread, end up baking a cranberry, cinnamon brick.

In a small bowl combine:

2/3 C. very warm tap water

1 1/2 Tablespoons dry yeast granules

1 teaspoon sugar

Stir and let rest until foamy like this:


The rest of this recipe is easiest if you have a Kitchen Aid mixer or another brand of  heavy duty mixer with a dough hook. If you don’t have a mixer with a dough hook, you are going to have to do it the old fashioned way, with your muscles.  I had the standard Kitchen Aid 325watt for 13 or so years and just got my Kitchen Aid Pro 575watt a couple of months ago.  Let me tell you,  more power and a much bigger bowl capacity made a HUGE  difference when making this recipe for two large loaves of bread.


In your mixer bowl combine:

2 cups warm water or milk

1 beaten egg

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoon salt

3 teaspoons cinnamon

Add the yeast mixture

Mix on low until combined.

Turn off the mixer and add 4 cups all purpose flour, unbleached flour, or Better for Bread flour and approximately 1 cup of dried cranberries and mix on low until well blended.


When all the above is well blended, turn off the mixer and add 3 more cups of flour and knead on about level 2 speed until the dough pulls completely away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball on the dough hook.  You may need to add even more flour a bit at a time.  So, this recipe takes about 7 or 8 cups flour total.


When the dough is well kneaded place it in a greased bowl and cover with greased plastic wrap or a clean, damp towel and let rise until double in size in a warm place.


When the dough has doubled in size, form into two loaves and place in two large greased loaf pans.  Cover and let rise in warm place until about double in size.

Preheat oven to 350 and bake for 45 minutes to an hour until bread is golden brown and makes a hollow sound when you tap the top.

When the bread is done, remove from pans onto cooling rack, and brush tops with butter.


*options- add chopped walnuts and/or fresh orange zest when you add the cranberries

I often add both and it is delish!

I always make about 3 batches, (6 loaves of bread),  and wrap it up well and freeze it, then take it out as needed over the holidays and give some to family and friends.

I hope you try this and let me know how it turns out and how you like it. 

I do ask that you don’t publish this recipe without permission…after all, it is TOP SECRET!


Try it toasted and spread with orange marmalade…my favorite!




May you be richly blessed with God’s grace, peace, and love in 2011!


Tidy Mom I'm Lovin It Fridays

The best bread ever…


My homemade cranberry cinnamon bread, toasted,

with a generous smear of orange marmalade

and a hot cup of coffee.

Now THAT’s a simple pleasure.

If you’re all real nice,


for the first time ever,

I’ll share the recipe!


Still following,


Project Simple Pleasures2

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2011-“Year of Preparation” (and hope!)



Traditionally, as the old year winds down I find myself asking God for a scripture or something He wants to be the theme and focus for the coming year.  When I did this a couple of weeks ago I heard Him drop into my heart the words, “Year of Preparation”.  It came with no explanation.  Preparation for what?  I asked Him to confirm in some way if this was really His voice and His direction for 2011.

Sunday my son-in-law preached at our church.  This was his last message to our church after 12 years as our assistant pastor.  Next Sunday we honor him and our daughter and celebrate as we send them and a launch team from our church to plant their own church in  southeast Portland.  The thread woven throughout his message was preparation.

This was the confirmation to me that I really had heard from God.  Since then I have been looking up scriptures having to do with preparation and praying for insight into what God is saying.  I really want to understand what a year of preparation looks like to me personally.  I keep returning to a passage of scripture that has “bothered” me ever since I read it some months ago. 

Ezekiel 43:8 NLT
”They put their idol altars right next to mine with only a wall between them and me.”

God is lamenting that in the temple of that day there is worship for Him taking place, and separated only by a thin wall, a room where idol worship is taking place.  As I read the words, I sense the heartache of God…the heartache of a Lover having to hear His beloved with another man in the room next door.

Ezekiel 6:9 NLT

”… how hurt I am by their unfaithful hearts and lustful eyes that long for their idols.”

I realize that I am that wayward lover all too often.  I worship God, but Self is worshipped in the room right next door.  So, for me, this “Year of Preparation” has to begin with the first commandment that I have no other God’s before or besides Him.  It has to begin with me, with the temple of my heart being a place prepared for Him and Him alone.  My inner sanctuary has some walls that need to come down, some idols that need kicked out once and for all. 

The words of an old chorus and the cry of my heart:

Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary

Pure and holy, tried and true

With thanksgiving

I’ll be a living sanctuary

for You

Lastly, the Lord has also been dropping into my mind and heart the word Hope.  I see it everywhere lately.  Without the hope of His help, if I had to tackle the task of facing my own waywardness, my lack of ability to keep even this first and most basic commandment to have no other God’s but Him, I would faint, lose heart, give up. 

2 Corinthians 5:5-6 (Amplified Bible)

“Now He Who has fashioned us [preparing and making us fit] for this very thing is God, Who also has given us the [Holy] Spirit as a guarantee [of the fulfillment of His promise].

So then, we are always full of good and hopeful and confident courage…”

God has given me the hope of His help.  He who made me will help to prepare me and make me fit to be His sanctuary…His alone.


Still following,


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The week in between…

Youngest daughter flew back to her little basement apartment home in Kansas City, Missouri.  The house is quiet with just the Hubs and I here.  It’s foggy gray outside, and I hear the rain on the roof over my head.  The Christmas decorations are all put back into their plastic bins in the garage.  The tree, quite dried out and missing many of its needles, is out on the deck, waiting for the Boy Scouts to come and dispose of it for a small fund-raising fee.  The walls of the house seem a bit bare and stark and this wee little house seems a bit bigger with all of the holiday hooplah stashed away for another year.  Once Christmas evening rolls around I am usually already looking forward to decluttering and getting my heart and home ready for the New Year.  In my heart, in my home, on my calendar and journal pages, fresh, clean, empty space, waiting, waiting, waiting, for the future and hope God has promised me.

I count my years by Christmases come and gone, more than by my birthdays.  I remember last Christmas, and the many, many changes and unknowns we were facing.  I look back on this year so filled with the faithfulness of God and I am  so very grateful.  He has been, always will be, the Rock beneath my feet that cannot be shaken.

Before we completely close the book on 2010 and open the fresh clean pages of 2011, I thought I would share some photos of this year’s Christmas dinner table.  It was simple, but I think it was simply beautiful.








Still following,


All Things Heart and Home

Sunday, December 26, 2010



“The blessing of Jehovah -- it maketh rich, And He addeth no grief with it.”
While rather “old fashion-y” sounding, I love Young’s Literal Translation of Proverbs 10:22.  (Spell check isn’t liking “maketh” or “addeth”.)
Every year Christmas morning at our house starts with my husband reading a blessing that he has written for our children, and now our grandchildren.  Each year the blessing is different…whatever God has laid on his heart for the coming new year.  This then, is the first gift our children receive on Christmas, their father’s blessing.
This year while Papa was reading the blessing, youngest granddaughter got distracted by a blessing of another kind.
While she’s not even two and doesn’t know better,  I too am all too easily distracted with the kind of blessings that wear out or break or need washed and ironed or polished, while my Papa God is trying to bless me with blessings that have no grief or sorrow added with them.
“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.” Ephesians 1:3 N.L.T.
I love all the physical blessings of this season, the decorations, the fabulous food and even the gifts.  BUT, with the decorations comes the putting it all away, with the rich food comes the extra pounds and the then necessary dieting and exercise, and with the gifts comes the reality that even receiving your dream gift, the thing you’ve wanted for oh so long, isn’t what makes you truly happy or content.
 my dream present from the Hubs
It’s the spiritual blessings, knowing God and His love,  faith in Who He is,  trust in His care,  peace that guards your heart and mind, having a reason and purpose for living, seeing Him working in and through you and your descendants…these are the kind of blessings that “maketh” rich and “addeth” no grief with it.
my continuing gratitude list #823-838
-youngest daughter home for Christmas
-a day when my oldest daughter and granddaughter got to “hang out” at my house
-our annual Christmas gathering with the Hubs side of the family and the car ride there and back all together
-my Hubs being all tender and caring towards his mama
-a fun evening at oldest daughter’s “dipping pretzels”
-a dear friend received a wonderful “no cancer” report
-Christmas Eve finger foods, games, and ending with pjs in bed watching “A Christmas Carol”
-the Hubs annual Christmas blessing (with middle daughter listening in from South Carolina)
-family and friends and Skype and phone calls from the ones far away
-more than enough
-my youngest brother, home from Africa, getting to be with Mama and his girls and granddaughter this Christmas
-all of us going to see Mama on Christmas, and her feeling good that day
-all of us crowding into one vehicle to go look at Christmas lights, and singing carols with youngest granddaughter on the way
-the Sunday after Christmas service and God’s confirmation to me that 2011 is the
“Year of Preparation”
-a young man from our church in a serious car accident, but not seriously injured
-learning to let go and let God
Gratefully yours,
joining the gratitude gatherers here~

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry, Merry, Merry Christmas…


It’s almost Christmas Eve.

I won’t be posting the next couple of days but I wanted to tell you that my prayer for you is that you will all have the merriest Christmas ever!  I pray that you and yours will be overwhelmed at the reality of God’s great love for you.

For those of you going through a difficult season I pray that the peace of God will rule your mind and heart,  that in your spirit you would sense His strength and that beneath your feet you would feel the Solid Rock that cannot be shaken by any circumstance. 

Merry Christmas!


A wee bonnie lass…

Here is youngest granddaughter in her Stewart tartan pjs.

Her Grandpa Stewart, now in heaven, would have been so proud!


Every year, our family has a Christmas tradition that the little ones help dip pretzels in melted almond bark…some in vanilla and some in chocolate.  Before we had grandbabies we would have some of the kids from church over to help.  Then the two oldest grandbabies came along and it was their turn to join in the tradition.  With them in South Carolina this Christmas, it was youngest granddaughter’s turn.







Lovin’ the season, but most of all the Reason!


Wednesday, December 22, 2010



Anticipation, longing, waiting, excitement…those were the emotions of the Christmases of my childhood.  Back then a big thick Christmas catalog came from Sears, Montgomery Wards or J.C. Penneys and us kids would have such fun looking, dreaming, longing.  Toys, gifts, and candy were not common and ordinary, but were rare and precious.  They were a luxury seen at our house only on holidays. 

On Christmas Eve we hung Daddy’s big woolen work socks.  I remember going to bed and tossing and turning, my tummy so full of butterflies that I nearly felt sick with excitement.

Before dawn we would wake up, to find that “Santa” had filled our stocking with an orange in the toe, some nuts, and a few candies.  Under the tree would be little trinket gifts that us seven kids had bought for each other with our pennies, nickels and dimes at the little variety store up the street.  My big gift from Mama and Daddy might be a doll or some toy dishes.  I remember best the year it was a fancy, lace trimmed nightie and matching robe that Mama had sewn for me.

I am sad that today we have so much excess that we, that our children, no longer know what it is to long for, to wish for, to anticipate, to be happy and excited with a simple woolen sock filled with fruit, nuts, and a few candies.  We have forgotten what it means to wait with our stomach full of butterflies.  We are so overly full, we have forgotten how wonderful something is when you are actually hungry.

It is three days before Christmas.  I find myself full of longing, hoping, wishing, anticipating.  Once again I have been pouring over pages, my fingers caressing the thing I want, the present I am hoping to receive.  He is an expert at building the suspense, at making me long for it until I think I’ll burst, and then just when I don’t think I can stand it anymore, He comes. He reveals Himself in the Word, or in the worship, in the meeting of the congregation, or in my quiet place alone with Him.  He understands that to taste something and see that it is oh so good there must first be a hunger.  I’m hungry for some Living Bread this Christmas.


Still following,



Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Four days and counting…


We drove baby granddaughter by some houses in our neighborhood that go all out with the Christmas lights.  I love that when I snapped this shot I happened to catch a little of the bluehour sky and also how the lights are reflected in the mud puddle.

Today I head to the mall to finish up buying the last two gifts on my list.  Tonight we have our annual Christmas gathering with the Hub’s side of the family.  I have the best sister-in-law in the world…with my mama sick she did my Christmas baking for me and baked a Rubbermaid tote full of Christmas goodies for our family!  She is one of the most giving people I know.

Youngest daughter is home from Missouri. Yay!  I miss my South Carolina daughter, son-in-law and grandbabies so much it hurts.  This is our very first Christmas without them here.

What are you doing today with only four days left ‘til Christmas?

I would love for you to comment and tell me!


Still following,


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Mama’s gift…

Mama never was one who expressed her feelings easily.  She showed us her love by doing-by hours and hours stooped over the sewing machine, or in the kitchen making loaves of bread and dozens of cookies.

She didn’t show us her faith easily either.  She took us to church, I saw her read her Bible in bed at night, we prayed together before meals, but she wasn’t what I would call a passionate Jesus follower.  As I grew older, this caused a hurt in my heart.  Sometimes you just need to know your mama is in your corner storming heaven’s gate in prayer on your behalf. 

When Mama, now 85, fell and broke her hip on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, it caused a snowball of other medical complications resulting in three hospitalizations.  She was finally able to return to her little apartment in assisted living with a lot of extra assistance from the staff there.  One evening my brother, my sister, and I asked her what she wanted us to do if she got sick again.  She expressed the desire to go on hospice, to be cared for by hospice nurses in her little apartment there, no more hospitalizations, no more heroic lifesaving measures.  She said she wanted to go home to be with Jesus, and she wanted us kids to let her go.  After much discussion, lots of tears and hugs, my mama prayed over us.  She thanked God for all of her blessings.  She boldly asked Him that every one of her descendants would know Him, that not one would be lost.  She prayed a blessing over us. She prayed boldly, beautifully, passionately.  I left her little room that night my heart at peace.  God, and Mama, had given me a great gift.

continuing to count His gifts…


-my Mama’s prayer

-God’s sweet presence

-Christmas shopping and Thai food with the Hubs

-a sunny December day and a wonderful walk




-an afternoon with youngest granddaughter


-phone calls and skype visits with my other grandbabies

-a sweet Saturday

-baking cinnamon cranberry bread


-pre-Christmas house cleaning done!

-listening to Christmas carols

-the Hubs in his home office studying for Sunday, listening to worship music

-a late afternoon walk

-gathering holly and greens for the house

-Truelife Church kid’s Christmas presentation

-sweet cards and gifts from our Truelife Church family


Gratefully yours,


join the gratitude gatherers here~

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

Santa, is that you?

Here’s my oldest granddaughter and only grandson with Santa.

They are currently living in South Carolina.

Oh I miss them!


Here is my cutie pie youngest granddaughter with Santa this morning.

She lives here in Portland.

Looks like Santa just broke the news to her that she’s on the naughty list this year.

Come on Santa, give the girl a break!


Does anyone but me think that South Carolina Santa and

Portland, Oregon Santa look strangely similar?




Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Honoring Who He is this Christmas…

It’s my takeoff on a Jesse Tree for advent.


I call it a Jesse’s Branch derived from this verse about Jesus from the prophet Isaiah…
Jesse's Branch- Isaiah 11:1-4
Each day of the month of December we add one of the homemade tags with one of His titles printed on one side, and the scripture reference where the verse is found printed on the other.  A little pack of spiral bound note cards has each passage written out.


Here are the 25 Names/Titles of Jesus I chose with the scripture reference.

Jesus -Matthew 1:21
Savior-1 John 4:14
Son of God- Luke 1:32-35
Son of Man-Matthew 18:11
Redeemer-Job 19:25
King of Kings -1 Timothy 6:14-15
Lord of Lords-1 Timothy 6:14-15
Bread of Heaven-John 6:51
I Am-Exodus 3:14
Alpha and Omega-Revelation 1:8
The Word- John 1:1
The Way, The Truth, The Life- John 14:6
Lamb of God- John 1:29
The Door- John 10:7-10
Good Shepherd-John 10:11
The Deliverer-Romans 11:26
Friend-John 15:15
My Beloved-Song of Solomon 7:10
Bridegroom-Isaiah 62:5
Faithful Witness- Revelation 1:5-6
My Righteousness-1 Corinthians 1:30
Wisdom of God-1 Corinthians 1:30
Lion of Judah- Revelation 5:5



This is one simple way to keep our focus on the Reason for the Season.


Honoring His Great Name this Christmas,


this week’s Simple Pleasure…

an advent idea to honor the name of Jesus!

All Things Heart and Home

Tidy Mom I'm Lovin It Fridays