Saturday, March 31, 2012


There is a challenge at Gypsy Mama each Friday to write about her chosen topic for five minutes.  You are not allowed to correct grammar and you are encouraged to just let the thoughts flow.

Here are my thoughts...

Gift...that is the word I am to talk about for 5 minutes.

The first thing that pops to mind is good gift givers.  Bloodhound and his mother, who passed away a few years ago, are and were wonderful gift givers.  They put a lot of thought into their purchases and they remember what their loved ones have said in recent days, weeks or months, to know what is the best gift to give.

And then there are the gifts of time...those can be better than any store bought gift.

This led me to thinking about the gifts of forgiveness.  In families we offer a lot of material presents during the holidays or on a birthday, but more often than not this is the place where the gift of forgiveness is the greatest gift of all.

Why do we sometimes stumble when we should offer this gesture of kindness and love?  What gets in our way?  Who does it hurt the most when we refuse to forgive?  Many of us who struggle with this the most call ourselves Christians.  That would be Christ followers.  And he certainly called for forgiveness.  How do you create a habit of forgiving?  How do we teach our children to forgive?

I find it is very easy to forgive most things.  I can forgive, forget and move on.  But the really big hurts I hold on to, make plans to prevent them from every happening again, and distance myself in some way from the loved one who inflicted the pain.  Not exactly the formula suggested by the Bible.

I am almost certain that this kind of forgiveness leads to division and not unity, within a family.  And it tells me that I think I can control getting hurt.

Bottom line for me:  I must offer the gift of forgiveness because I know it is best for me, and more importantly, because my faith as a Christian requires it.  If I want to love and offer love in its purest form I have to risk getting hurt again, and then demonstrating my ability to be forgiving all over again.

This story of forgiveness is humbling and makes my inability to forgive seem small, prideful, and embarrassing.

Corrie ten Boom and Forgiveness
March 31, 2012

In 1939 Corrie ten Boom was 47 years old and lived with her widowed 82 year old father and elder sister Betsie in Haarlem, in The Netherlands.  Neither sister had ever married.  Her father had a little watchmakers shop. It was the year the war came to Holland and with it much evil. The night the first bombs fell, Corrie had a dream. About a strange old farm wagon pulled by black horses across the city square. In it she saw herself, her father and Betsie amongst friends and other family members many of whom she recognised. They couldn’t get off the wagon as it slowly was dragged across the square. But they didn’t want to go and the wagon was taken them far far away...that dream proved to be prophetic.
It took 5 days until Holland surrendered. Initially business boomed but the streetscape changed as more and more German soldiers arrived and life became more and more controlled and frightening. A year into the invasion attacks on Jews became frequent. And the Ten Booms had friends and employees that were Jewish. Corrie’s brother was the first to work with the Underground.  People began to vanish.

Slowly the family began helping Jewish people to escape. They created a hideout in their own home. In early 1944 the inevitable happened. Corrie, Betsie their father (now 87), their brother Willem and his wife, their sister Nollie and her husband, her nephew Peter and many others were arrested and transported by bus out of Haarlem and to the Hague.  Within10 days of the arrest her father died. Later they were taken by train to a concentration camp in the Dutch town of Vught.  And several months later, in September 1944 by train to Ravensbruck. And this is where my story begins.

I will leave to your imagination the atrocities that Corrie and her sister suffered. I want to tell you a story. A story that touched my heart so much that it cleansed me of feelings I had harboured for years.
On arrival at Ravensbruck the women were marched to the processing centre for new arrivals. Here they had to pile all of their belongings in the centre of the room and then strip naked and also add their clothes to the pile. Naked they had to walk under bright lights and past the scrutiny of a dozen guards towards the shower room. Using her ingenuity Corrie managed to take her sister into the shower room before undressing and in this way she managed to hide her bible, a bottle of vitamin pills inside a sweater which later her sister would wear. By this stage Betsie was emaciated and quite ill. The bible became Corries only comfort and daily she would read from it to herself and to the other women. Thus in that evil hell hole, Corrie’s faith blossomed. And all the time she watched her sister get sicker and die an agonising death but never once wavering in her faith.

And then a miracle occurred. One day... for apparently no reason...Corrie was taken aside and given a card that said the one word RELEASED.  She was released out of that death-trap New Years day in 1945. And Corrie’s life as an evangelist began shortly after the war ended. She travelled all over the place talking about God’s love. And about forgiveness.

Corrie’s story:

“It was at a church service in Munich that I saw him, the former SS man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing centre at Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. And suddenly it was all there – the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie’s pain- blanched face.

He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. “How grateful I am for your message Fräulein”, he said “To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!”

His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.  Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more?

Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him.

I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your Forgiveness.
As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.

And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies He gives, along with the command, the love itself.”

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How Coffee Became My Friend

I was looking through pictures recently and I was reminded of what life was like when my first born was a baby.  He spent most of his days doing one of three things.  

1. Screaming
2. Sucking ferociously on a bottle.
3. Projectile vomiting the formula.

At this point the process would repeat.

Although I had never been a coffee drinker, within a few months of his arrival it was my means of survival.  

There were a few techniques that would bring peace.

If you ran the vacuum cleaner he would instantly hush and many times drift off to sleep.  The best combination of events involved placing him in his swing and then running the vacuum until he drifted off.  These weren't the fancy swings with batteries or cords, that you can buy now.  Rather, these had a crank.  A very loud and horribly nerve rattling crank.  Some very sadistic toy maker had created this swing and my son would only sleep if it was kept in constant motion.  

The other sure fire way to bring peace to your ear drums and ultimately your nervous system, was to take him for a swim.  Thankfully, we were living on an island in Florida and I was able to make this happen fairly frequently.

Suffice it to say that I had the cleanest carpet in our apartment complex, consumed vast amounts of coffee, and spent a lot of time in chlorinated water with prune like fingers and toes.  

And then he  grew up...

And I am proud and thankful to be his mother.  

I'll be even prouder when the mother curse - "I hope you have one just like you," comes to pass.  I'll make coffee deliveries to his house, and then drive home to sleep peacefully in my warm and comfy bed.  And when I see his tired blood shot eyes I'll hug him and say, "Just be grateful that your swing has batterie!"

This post is linked here: Mama Kat's Losin It


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Pink Party

Have you ever attended a pink party before?  In case you haven't, let me paint a picture for you.  Imagine a card table set for a tea part, and then load a large yard sprayer with Pepto Bismol.  After applying a generous coat to the table, the food, and the guests you will have the perfect pink party.

My youngest daughter was full of glee when she heard that we were planning one, for her.  And we made sure that the table lived up to her expectations with these flowers, that were in a pink tinted water and milk solution.

On the day of this party I set out to make pink pound cake and faux Lofthouse cookies.  And then tragedy struck - my Kitchen Aid mixer croaked.  We ran to the store and she chose pink cupcakes and these pink and white iced animal crackers.

Her older sister was so resourceful in finding these flowers...

And then her guest arrived with the pink carnations and Pinkalicious (the doll) made a guest appearance.  Tea was pink tinted Sprite.  All in was a great evening and her friend left asking for a blue party, at her house.  I am looking forward to seeing what her mother serves in the way of blue food!

This post is shared here: Home School Creations

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

My Garden Buddy

Do you see him?

Is he a friend or foe?

Guess below.

Savannah McQueen is the author of Hammock Tracks which includes Savannah's Savory Bites - dedicated to recipes and cooking with simple ingredients, Hammock Track Tales - a photographic journal of our life on the hammock, and Hammock Home School - includes editorials, book reviews, and educational link posts.  You can follow Savannah on Twitter and Facebook.

The Garden at the End of March

This week and next will be the peak of the Amaryllis season, in our yard.  

The iris are bursting open with their deep purple blooms.

This Bengal Tiger Cana Lily is one of my favorite plants.  I looked all over to find one and I anxiously await its yellow and orange striped blooms.  They should be here within a couple weeks.

And finally my squash and cucumber garden is in.  

Yellow Squash...

My wee kids planted seven watermelon plants that they grew from seeds.

The watermelon were planted in large mounds of dirty straw from the rabbit house.  This is Blackbird (named by our littlest girl) a Silver Fox Rabbit that will be giving birth to her first litter next week.

At first glance you might not recognize this bloom, but next winter it will be holly berries.  I happened to notice these small slightly fragrant flowers because I followed the sound of the bee buzz.

Also fragrant right now are the Satsuma blooms.  Notice the wee orange in the background of the picture?

What is blooming in your yard?

This post is linked here:


Monday, March 26, 2012

Schools Out

Have you ever come in from work, turned on a sprinkler, changed into your swimsuit and cooled off in the water?

Have you ever finished your day and decided that you would really feel relaxed if you grabbed your BB gun and plinked fiddler crabs off the edge of the marsh with your spaniel to retrieve them?

Or when was the last day you relaxed by creating a pulley system with a large oak branch to elevate a pallet ten feet off the ground...for no specific reason, other than you could?

Every day when I say school is out, I am amazed at how my children pass the hours.  I am the great inventors think like a child?  Are they the ones that end their day by burning holes in leaves with a magnifying glass...and then the great idea strikes?

Whether I end my day with a book or a television show, the main goal is to finish.  I don't think my kids set out with a sprinkler in their hand planning to finish anything.

I have concluded that one of the main differences of childhood and adulthood is that children play for the sake of play, with no end in sight.  Maybe this is why they cannot ever put up their "toys" when they are finished.  What do you think?

This post is linked here:

 Celebrating Family

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The garden - Week 3

It is amazing to me how much of the yard that was without obvious life last week, is now covered in buds.  The peach was only sticks and seven days later it is flocked with many tiny pink buds.

Only one has burst open...

This wisteria had the most amazing growth.  There wasn't a single bud on this vine a week ago.  Nothing!  Now it has past this stage and sprouted full branches and small flower bunches.

The Cherokee rose had one bloom one week, and now it is blanketed with white blossoms.  In a few weeks it will be all green and finished with blooms until next spring.

The amaryllis is about to release its trumpet like color.

My favorite growth this week was the Satsuma...I get chills considering all of the citrus this plant should produce in the fall.

So what does week three bring in your garden?

Upcoming this week on Savannah's Savory Bites - "How to cook with the basics" - Join us Thursday in the Hammock Tracks Family Forum as we discuss cooking without canned soups and prepared foods.


Savannah McQueen is the author of Hammock Tracks which includes Savannah's Savory Bites - dedicated to recipes and cooking with simple ingredients, Hammock Track Tales - a photographic journal of our life on the hammock, and Hammock Home School - includes editorials, book reviews, and educational link posts.  You can follow Savannah on Twitter and Facebook.

This post is linked here:


Monday, March 19, 2012

6 Roses to Meals Eaten Out

If you missed other posts in the "6 Roses" series, you can read them here.

The nutshell version is this - If you were to give six roses to things that are a part of _______, which ones would you choose.  The first post were things in my kitchen I would offer roses and then I followed up with roses to technology.

This week I am offering roses to meals I've eaten out at restaurants.

1.  Drago's - This is a restaurant in New Orleans that is known for its charbroiled oysters.  In an effort to create this post I looked them up on line.  When this oyster dish appeared on the screen my taste buds started to water.  This dish is so amazing that after having them for our appetizer and eating our entree we ordered another dish of charbroiled oysters, as our dessert.  If you are in New Orleans find Drago's and indulge.  I know I will!

2.  Ali Baba - After arriving in New York we were starved. My sister, oldest daughter and I set out  in search of dinner.  We happened upon Ali Baba and it was a wonderful restaurant with perfect Turkish food.  We enjoyed it so much that before returning home we visited again.  I had my first cup of Turkish coffee, while visiting and I have to say that it was quite an experience.  I am a black coffee drinker and I couldn't dump enough sugar in this cup of joe.

3.  Semolina's - This pasta institution in New Orleans is divine.  If you like pasta, cheese and all things creamy you will adore this restaurant.  It became a family tradition to go here on Mother's Day, and this holiday has never been the same for me, since we left New Orleans.

4.  Francy Q's - There is sushi and there is good sushi.  Fancy Q's on St Simons Island, has mouth- watering-I-know-I-can-shove-another-piece-in-my-mouth sushi.  If you are ever visiting this Georgia Isle, look them up in the village.  You won't be sorry and it will make your sun soaked skin experience all that much more worth while.

5.  Tujaques - This restaurant serves six courses and the menu only offers four entrees, but everything is cooked to perfection.  What I love most here though is dessert.  They have a bourbon bread pudding that is velvety and rich.  I don't even like bread pudding and I contemplated licking the inside of my ramekin, in order to get the last drop of the bourbon sauce.  When I return to New Orleans and I've eaten my oysters at Drago's, entree at Semolina's the next stop will be Tujaques for dessert.

6.  Iquana Cafe - This really isn't much of a restaurant.  It is an outdoor cafe in Key West that is known for it's bar as much as anything else.  But it was here that Bloodhound and I spent a vacation together, before children.  We were in the keys enjoying crystal clear water, warm sun on our skin (which I like but my freckled hide does not) and we didn't feel the need to call and check on our children, as they didn't exist.  Do I need to say more? 

What are your favorite restaurants? Which ones would you like to give a rose to, and why?

Savannah McQueen is the author of Hammock Tracks which includes Savannah's Savory Bites - dedicated to recipes and cooking with simple ingredients, Hammock Track Tales - a photographic journal of our life on the hammock, and Hammock Home School - includes editorials, book reviews, and educational link posts.  You can follow Savannah on Twitter and Facebook.  Upcoming this week on Savannah's Savory Bites - "How to cook with the basics" - Join us Thursday in the Hammock Tracks Family Forum as we discuss cooking without canned soups and prepared foods.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Which is my favorite?

My right arm, also known as my oldest daughter, has decorated her room and left her mark in a most unusual way.  Everything she loves and has experienced is featured on her bedroom walls, in a collage like manner.

I thought this was my favorite wall...

But then there is this one.

Every square inch is covered...

And she has the most eclectic tastes and vastly different combinations.  These are her soccer medals suspended over Christmas ornaments that her Great Grandmother made.

Her planes, flags, cartoons, and boyfriend adorn this corner.

The ceilings sports planes, parachuters and more posters.

And this wall is really nice, too...

Our trip to New York a year ago is tacked up here, along with more soccer, Hello Kitty, and planes with a few more American flags interspersed in between.  

Not everyone can display military aircraft on a flowered scrap of fabric and make it look good!

This deer skin was from an injured fawn that she tried to save.  This is truly one of my favorite areas in her room, as it reminds me of when she was about eight years old.

And of area dedicated to super heroes  I have to love that!

So which is my favorite?  I don't know.

But I do know that she has a knack for making a room unique and stylish, and I don't even want to think of her moving out.

What do you suggest I do to keep her here?

This post is linked to Mama Kat's Losin it and Suburban Life Journal.

Savannah McQueen is the author of Hammock Tracks which includes Savannah's Savory Bites - dedicated to recipes and cooking with simple ingredients, Hammock Track Tales - a photographic journal of our life on the hammock, and Hammock Home School - includes editorials, book reviews, and educational link posts.  You can follow Savannah on Twitter and Facebook.
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