Saturday, November 27, 2010

Mom's Tweaking Again

If I say that I'm a "tweaker", does that tell you what decade I went to highschool?

Seriously, though, a lot of times I just can't seem to leave well-enough alone. My daughter, Sarah, says I'm a bit perfectionistic. I say, "A bit? Ya think?"

I've just been hopping around so many absolutely beautiful blogs lately, mine has begun to seem...well...dated. And a little frumpy. And maybe hokey.

And then that little voice in the back of my mind says, "Be content with such things as you have..."

Sigh. So, I'm trying to not compare all these beautiful, sleek and sophisticated blogs I'm visiting to my wanna-be site. I did, however click over to favorite everything-you-need-to-know-about-tweaking-your-blog site and discovered how to put tabs on my blog .

Click on image to visit the site!

I think I like. Do you like?

I may not have the sleekest blog on the block. That's OK.

Lord, help me to be satisfied with what I do have!

Baking Soda Biscuits...hmmmm

I make biscuits frequently -- probably twice or three times a week. When I get up too late to do a yeast bread or don't have the two dozen eggs necessary to do an "eggy breakfast" for my plebes, we have biscuits.

I should be a pro.


So, this morning I didn't get up till 7 -- lazy bum, I know. What's for breakfast? Hmm. We had a couple of kids sleep over, and I thought it'd be a nice treat for them to have biscuits with peanut butter and jam. Sounds yummy, eh?

I didn't check to make sure I had baking powder before I mixed all the other ingredients up.

Well, I'd been wanting to try an experiment using only baking soda in place of baking powder. Baking powder here is a little spendy, and I can't find any that doesn't contain aluminum sulfate. Today would be my Day of Experimental Biscuits. I figured I'd add a little vinegar to the mix so that the baking soda would poof. They did poof nicely. Actually they were quite pretty.

The first bite told me that they had turned out passable.

Halfway through the second bite, I changed my mind.

I won't say that the experiment was a total flop. The ducks are very happy. I guess they don't mind the incredibly acrid, bitter, salty taste these beautiful works of art leave in your mouth for about an hour.

My oldest son said they weren't that bad. He's sixteen. If he can get his teeth into it and swallow, he's happy.

One of the twins wanted to gift some to the milkman when he came by. I nearly tackled him as he tried to walk out of the kitchen with them.

They really were that bad. I Googled "How to Make Baking Powder". Here's the CORRECT way to do it:
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
Mix well and use
Makes 1 tablespoon of baking powder.
Now I know. ;^)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pumpkin Invasion

I'm multi-tasking usual. With internet slightly faster than Morse Code, I try to have several things going on at once, so that I don't get too frustrated with the fact that this really neat blog I want to read still hasn't finished loading.

Right now I have four sites loading, I'm baking a pumpkin pie, simmering chili, unloading photos from my camera and writing a blog post. Not bad for a Thursday afternoon!

So, the timer on my pie beeped. I looked over to see who was in the kitchen so they could slap the thing to silence it and noticed that I have a lot of pumpkin on my counter. Pumpkin in various stages. I had to take a photo. Yes, I'm a camera addict.
In the far back, on the left over there, is the last of my super-cheap-what-a-deal pumpkins waiting its turn in the oven. On the right is the next-to-last pumpkin, which just came out of the oven as the last two pumpkin pies went in. Right in front, sitting on my trusty-rusty deep freeze, are the first of the pies to come out. They are the reason my stomach is rumbling right now...just a sec. I'll take a picture...

Isn't it purty?!

So, while I sit on my duff and wait for timers to beep and pages to load, my faithful slave, er, I mean daughter is busily doing my job...

The chili is now ready to serve and the first cooked pumpkin looks like this...

So...I'm thankful.

Thought I'd forgotten, didn't you?! I'm only mostly out of touch. I do manage to remember things like Daylight Savings Time, Thanksgiving and Fourth of July. Thank you, Facebook!

Thank you, Lord, for another beautiful day.

Thank you, Lord,
for my family.

Thank you, Lord,
for my amazing husband who, amazingly enough, has put up with me for nearly 19 years and still loves me dearly!

Thank you, Lord,
that all of my children have put You first in their lives and that I'll be seeing them forever in heaven -- even if they move to Europe in this life. For instance. Not that any of them would ever do that. Right? Sarah?

Thank you, Lord,
for all our friends and adopted family here in Mexico. For Chuy, who stopped in for a glass of water and ended up hanging out all morning and staying for lunch (which is pretty normal for us!) and is now learning all about the Thanksgiving tradition of "pay de calabaza de holowin" (that would be "pumpkin pie").

Give thanks to the Lord for He is good...para siempre es su misericordia...His mercy endures forever!!!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Metal Mouths

The twins are very excited about their new braces.

Actually, they are a little less excited now than they were when they left the house on the way to the orthodontist. Braces seemed really cool until they experienced the metal-on-lip feeling that all of us old-timers remember so well. Ugh. My teeth ache with the memory.

The idea of not having vampire fangs is still very appealing to them, but reality has set in and they are now understanding what I meant when I told them that it will be a long process and not much fun.

I must say that I'm very glad we're able to get the braces taken care of. A couple of years ago, when I realized that these poor kids had inherited my dental issues, I began to pray that somehow God would provide a way to fix their teeth. God answered my prayer!!! One of our supporters gifted us the full amount necessary to do braces for both boys. WaHOO!!! Granted, the cost here is significantly less than it would be in the US, but the amount, about $900 each, was still much higher than we could ever have afforded. Just one more instance where I get to see God take care of our needs (and our wants, too, from time to time!!!).

Dios siempre es fiel!!!
God is always faithful!!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wordless Wednesday -- The MKs Dream

It's the simple things in life which make my 16 year old son smile.

Missionaries to Mexico, we cross the border to the US and where do the kids want to go?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Tackle it Tuesday -- Butter is Better

The cows have come home for the winter and we once again are getting fresh milk every morning. Caleb and Jessee took off at 5:30 a.m. to go help milk our friend Ramon's cows, so I figured I should get busy skimming off the cream from yesterday's milk.

That done, my cream jar (a one-liter yogurt container) was now full. Time to make butter.Tackle it Tuesday!

I do hate to buy butter. First of all, it's expensive...and I'm a cheapskate.

Secondly, I can't buy unsalted butter here. It's not that I don't like salt in my butter -- oh no! I like salt. A lot. There's some conspiracy, though, about iodized salt here. It's all they have. Even the butter "sin sal" has flouridated (is that a word?) salt in it. I don't know about you, but I have issues with flouride. When we were little, didn't the dentist always tell us to make sure we didn't swallow the flouride? So, why are they putting it in our salt?

Anyway, enough of that soapbox. On to the task at hand...

Pictures being worth as much as they are, I've included a ton. This is a SUPER EASY process -- made easier if you own a Kitchenaid, but very doable even if you only have a hand mixer.

I start with raw milk, strain it, add a tablespoon or 2 of peroxide and let it set for a day in the fridge so the cream will come to the top. Skim off the cream, store it in a "cream jar" in the fridge. You'll need about 4 cups of cream to make about 1 1/2 cups of butter.

Ready? Let's do it. Start to finish, this took me an hour with no kids (or husband) underfoot. You can stop in the middle, so don't worry if you don't have an uninterrupted hour. (Who has an uninterrupted hour during daylight hours?)

Put the cream in the mixer bowl and add a bit of PLAIN salt (imported from the States). Today I put in about 1/8 tsp. I'd rather have it a bit bland than overdo the salt. Attach your wire whisk and turn on the mixer. I bring my Kitchenaid up to power level 6. At this point, you can watch if you want to, but it's going to be a while, so you might want to go do something write a blog post.

After a few minutes, your cream will start to expand...keep whipping!

At about 7 minutes, you'll have a wonderful, fluffy whipped cream. Keep whipping!
At about 10 minutes, the cream will start to reduce and get thicker. You're getting closer. Keep whipping!
At this point, as clumps begin to form, the liquid may splash a bit.
Why on earth did Blogger rotate this photo? No idea.Here's my solution...
Keep whipping, you're almost there!!!

When the lumps separate, turn off your mixer and get out your trusty wooden spoon.

Push all the lumps together into one ball and then strain off the buttermilk.

WARNING!: This Photo Was Posed!!! Don't try to pour the buttermilk off with one hand while balancing the strainer over a Mason jar and taking a picture with the other hand. Using two hands I still managed to make a mess.

Put your lump of butter back in your mixer bowl, grab your wooden spoon again and let's smoosh. Smoosh out all the excess buttermilk by pressing the butter against the side of the bowl and then pour it off. Pour yourself a glass of drinking water.
Pour about a half a cup or so of water over the butter and repeat the smooshing process. Dump off the expressed water. Then do that again.
And again.
The goal here is to remove all the excess buttermilk which has been trapped in air pockets inside the butter. That residue will cause the butter to spoil over time. Of course, in our family the butter doesn't last that long, so I'm not overly picky. Two rinses is usually enough for me. If I'm planning to freeze it for later use, though, I'm a little more careful.Your butter is now finished. Press it into a bowl or container lined with plastic wrap -- or a butter crock, if you happen to have one -- and stick it in the fridge.
Honey's comment this morning, "Hey! The butter doesn't have that weird aftertaste today. What's different?"

My answer: It's homemade.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

At the Top of the Hill

I refuse to say that I'm "over the hill". I prefer to say that I have reached the summit...and I'm just gonna hang out here for a while! I celebrated my 40th birthday in October. My original plan for this memorable day in my life was to invite the neighborhood and have a big fiesta. However, we got home from our fall furlough only a couple of days before and it was still really hot and humid and the house was a mess and I was fighting off a, Sarah and I each made a cheesecake, we invited our friends Braulio and Pily over to hang out for the day and the day passed quietly.

Note to self: Peanut butter cheesecake and mocha cheesecake are amazing. Both of them. Better not to make them both for the same party or you'll gain 5 pounds.

My special gift from Doug and the kids was this critter:
My grain mill!
And of course, if I got one of those, I need one of these:
A 50 pound bag of wheat!
And with both of those, I made this:
Whole wheat flour!
And then I made banana bread, but I didn't take a picture of it because we ate it too quickly! But it was really yummy!!!

Funny note: The sound of the grain mill grinding grain while clamped to the kitchen counter is almost exactly the sound of a 5.7 earthquake hitting the house. (Voice of experience.)

Happy birthday to meeeeeee!

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Little Bit of Shakin' Goin' On!

I'm back in bloggy land and getting back to posting. We were on furlough to the States for a month and then without internet for a while when we got home, but I'm still here!!! You can't get rid of me so easily!!!

It's late and I'm not going to post much. I just wanted to share what we've been dealing with this past week. We live only a few hundred feet from the ocean, so generally our "alarms" revolve around hurricanes and tropical storms. I never thought we would be concerned about earthquakes and tsunamis!
Our biggest tremor so far was a 6.8 which happened last Thursday. We were in the middle of a spelling lesson when the fan began swinging and the pillars groaned. Five seconds or so later, all the dishes began to rattle and the tools in the shop clanged. I now know how quickly my family can get out the door when they have to (and I reminded them of that on Sunday morning, too!!!).

We stood outside on the patio watching the van rock back and forth and the telephone poles sway for a good, solid minute. Our pool began to slosh and splash, and I found myself thinking that maybe "uphill from the house" is a bad place for a swimming pool.

So, we've been a bit shaken, but we are not beaten! This has been a great opening to be able to talk to our neighbors about our faith and about the God in whom we trust!

I'll post more soon... :^) Meanwhile, keep us in your prayers!!!

Getting to Know...Me!

Welcome to my weblog: Beautiful Feet

My name is Rebecca, and I'm so glad that you've stopped in for a visit! I started blogging in 2006 as a way to stay connected with friends and family in the U.S., and I've been tripping about in Bloggy Land ever since, learning as I go along...usually by trial and error. My daughter said it best:
"Life is like a mathematical equation. You spend all the time figuring out the answer to the problem only to discover that you plugged in the wrong values and miscopied the original problem to begin with!"
By God's grace I'm improving daily...I hope!!!

Here at Beautiful Feet, I try to keep my readers updated on our life as missionaries in Mexico. Grandma really loves that, since I'm lousy at sending photos and worse at writing letters. I've promised the kids that I won't post anything too embarrassing, and they do hold me to that. Four of our six kids have blogs of their own, so I'm aware of the possibility of retribution if I should happen to break that promise. The boys are less than faithful posters, but Sarah updates her blog regularly. Go check her site out if you have a minute. You won't be disappointed!

You'll find a bit of a hodge-podge of information here. I've made all the internal links (things you can click on to take you to other pages) green, and they should open in a new window, so as to not interrupt your reading. That's the plan, at least."Life in Mexico" is probably my biggest post category, but that's so all-encompassing. Our life includes homeschooling, working with the local church, hosting mission teams and reaching out to the families who live around us, to name just a few topics.

As THE MOM, I generally spend a large portion of my day in the kitchen, so I'm finding that more and more of my posts revolve around food and frugality in the kitchen. I'm OK with that -- I do love to eat, and I'm cheap. What a combo!!!

I just noticed, too, how many photos of cheesecake I have. Hmmm...there could be a reason for that.

In addition to food for the body, though, I like to include a little soul food. My husband, Doug, and I have been teaching parenting classes in our village for a couple of years now, and I've been sharing some of the principles here from time to time. In a perfect world, I'd share a lesson every week. News Flash: This world is not perfect. So, I post irregularly, but with much gusto!!!

That's me -- nutshell version (a big a coconut). You can find me on Facebook at Doug N Rebecca Coult or you can email me at WhatBeautifulFeetYouHave AT gmail DOT com. You can also click over to our Ministry Scrapbook Blog to see more photos of our village and our neighbors.

By the way, if you leave a comment with a link to your blog, I'll click over and "reciprocate". We all like comments, don't we?!

Have a blessed day, and thanks again for dropping by!!!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Family Exercise

On Saturday night, it rained hard and we awakened Sunday morning to puddles, mud and cloudy skies. It was a perfect morning for a bike ride!

We rode down to the beach with two main objectives. The first was to pray for people as we passed them and as we saw and talked to people along the way and at the beach. So often we go about our day without even thinking about praying for the people around us. The idea this morning was to spend some time in specific, focused prayer for the people we passed.

For myself, it was really good exercise. Not just the bike ride, which was good physical exercise, but the prayer was very good spiritual exercise. I used to be in the habit of praying for people spontaneously, but I have fallen out of that habit. I found myself able to really spend some quality time with God as I began to talk to Him about the people around me – instead of just praying about my personal struggles and trials and shortcomings, which I definitely do!!!

The other objective for the bike ride was to connect with some of our neighbors we hadn’t talked to in a while. It’s crazy that we can live within 3 or 4 blocks of people and almost never talk to them!

How can we be that busy? Well, my answer is that I’m really not that busy. I’m just comfy. It’s a little time-consuming and sometimes a little awkward to stop in for a visit. The weather is hot and the bugs are fierce, I should be washing laundry or making dinner or writing that update letter or any other of a dozen things which are pressing, but not of any eternal value.

Why do I get so caught up in the “tyranny of the urgent”? I would venture to guess that the enemy would rather me be busy-busy with household stuff so that I didn’t have time to stop in and encourage my neighbor whose father just passed away. It would be better, in the enemy’s eyes, if my house was spotless and ready for company than if I was at my elderly neighbor’s house cleaning for her.

So, our family bike ride was a success – at least for me! God used the time to really speak to my heart and to remind me what is of lasting importance.

The little kids got to swim in the ocean, too, so they were happy! I think this could become a family tradition – Church on the Beach!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Feeding Time at the Zoo

Had to share this...

I tried to post it on Facebook, but couldn't get the animation to work, so I'm posting it here. Adorable? Want one??? :^)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Parenting 101: The Golden Rule

"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?"

And Jesus said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets."
-- Matthew 22:37-40

This week’s parenting focus is how we should treat others – and why.

The “how” is generally the easy part. I mean, really. We know how we want our kids to act: be nice, share, say the magic word, don’t hit/pinch/bite/scream/yell/flush your brother’s Legos down the toilet. The “how” is easy.

“Don't act out of selfish ambition or be conceited. Instead, humbly think of others as being better than yourselves. Don't be concerned only about your own interests, but also be concerned about the interests of others.” -- Philippians 2:3-4

But WHY???
• Because Dad and Mom said so? Well, that’s a good start, but what if Dad and Mom aren’t around? Do I still have to? What if they didn’t exactly say so?
• Because the Bible tells me to? That’s good, too, but it’s a little abstract for most kids. Plus, isn’t the Bible more than just the 10 commandments?
• Because I’m going to be punished if I don’t? What if I don’t get caught?

A child who is taught to behave correctly, but is never taught why they should behave correctly, becomes a moral puppet – and they’ll have no backbone. They will be at the mercy of the one who holds the strings.

A child who is taught to think correctly will become morally strong and free to make his or her own choices.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6

So, the trick is to train our children to think correctly. How do we do that? First of all, we need to model right behavior. It’s hard to teach your children to be honest with you when you tell lies in front of them.

Second of all, we need to have on our minds the reason behind our desire for their right behavior.

Let me explain that better.

I need to know why it’s important for my child to not lie/hit/steal/scream/run out into the middle of the street. If I don’t know, how can I explain it to him?

Does that mean that I always need to answer every “WHY?” my son comes up with? Absolutely not! Especially if he’s four! You could go on forever about where salt comes from! :^) It means that I train my kids to think things through. One day, they'll arrive at their own moral conclusions because they've been trained to think about the outcome of their actions -- not just whether a specific action is permissible! I pray that I've trained them so their conclusions are Godly.

You know one interesting way this principle helped me in my parenting? I used to say NO a lot. I like being in charge of things, and I really enjoy things being “in order”. When I began to apply the principle of moral training to my kids (who were then 5 and under), I realized that I didn’t have a good reason for a lot of the things I did or said. I eased up. I did get firmer on the important things, but I eased up a lot on the more “fun” stuff.

“Mom, can we eat on the back porch?” No. Why? ‘Cause I’d have to move all the food out there, and it’s all set up here. Lame reason. If I have to actually think through and explain my reasons, I’m more likely to be reasonable!

“Mom, can we eat in the living room?” No. Why? Because the carpet is new and white and this is a rental. Valid reason. Let’s eat on the back porch!!!

Do you think giving your kids a moral reason for not fighting/being selfish/stealing/whining or whatever would cause a change in their behavior? Are you willing to give it a try? Let me know what happens!!! (Be sure it probably won’t change overnight, but you might be surprised!!!)