Monday, December 23, 2013

Pacific Beauty

We spent last weekend with lots and lots of family! I officially started my full week OFF and it has been lovely. I am not checking my work email for the whole time I am off so there is absolutely no stress at all!

We had a lovely visit with my family where we enjoyed amazing food courtesy of my mother. We don't do gifts for anyone but the children so the big Christmas meal is her gift to all of us. This is her roast pork seared and ready to enter the oven:

She made a vermouth sauce that went over the top once it was served. Wow. So good!

To go along with it, she made a salad and a scalloped potato and turnip dish that is baked with cream and Parmesan cheese. That is one of my favorite dishes! 

This was one of the desserts - a Pumpkin Gingerbread Triffle that had chopped, sugared, crystallized ginger on top. This is what it looked like:

If you like gingerbread and you like pumpkin - you will LOVE this. :) We did! It disappeared quickly and was loved by everyone--even the picky eaters!

On the way to my husband's sister's house, we made a stop to enjoy the coastline outside Pacifica, CA. It was stunningly clear and beautiful.

I had not seen the ocean for some time and wow, was it wonderful to sit and smell the fresh air and take in the expanse of the ocean. I love how tiny I feel in the midst of all that water in front of me yet I know my Savior loved me enough to go to the cross for me. In this season of celebrating His advent, I feel it is important to remember that He went on to accomplish something we never could--our salvation.

It is funny that the moment my children get access to the sand they take off for the water! We were there long enough for my youngest to get her shoes wet enough that she couldn't put them back on. :+) Nothing like the ocean!

We met up with the other side of the family and had a lovely second Thanksgiving/Christmas get together. It was such a nice day! All the grands got together for a photo. It is hard to believe that just a few years ago we all had little ones. Time keeps marching on!

In my husband's family, my sister-in-law has contributed all the boys save one, and we have contributed all the girls. We think they are all a pretty amazing bunch. :+)

I want to take a moment to wish you the very best of Christmases with your families. Enjoy this time with your children, friends. It goes awfully fast!

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 13, 2013

This week in history, life, and faith...

We are studying the ancient Assyrians in co-op. They were such a fascinating warlike people that did a lot of conquering and killing. However, they did create some pretty amazing art and much of their history directly intersects with Israel's history. You can find some neat up close and person art/history/geography lessons about them on Khan Academy and I link to a few videos below. I highly recommend you watch them!

If any of my readers read the Bible (and I am guessing quite a few of you do!) this will be of interest to you.

Ashurbanipal Hunting Lions, gypsum hall relief from the North Palace, Nineveh.

Yes, THAT Nineveh - you know, the one Jonah tried to avoid. This photo struck me as simply astonishing:

This is an artist's view of what ancient Nineveh would have looked like. That is what Jonah would have walked into--where God sent him to preach against their sin. It gives you a better idea of why he chose the whale. God sometimes asks us to do hard things, doesn't He?

The second Assyrian art I wanted to share was this:

I have seen one of these up close and they are intimidating. These were in the entrance of the throne room of the Assyrian King. The videos are brief, but give so much good information. I loved that they talked about the fact that they (in addition to the whole room) would have been painted to look like this:

These winged lion/bull/kings are over ten feet tall. If you ever get a chance to see one - go do it!

The history of Assyria and Israel is a sad and shocking one:

In 722 BC, the Assyrians conquered Israel. The Assyrians were aggressive and effective; the history of their dominance over the Middle East is a history of constant warfare. In order to assure that conquered territories would remain pacified, the Assyrians would force many of the native inhabitants to relocate to other parts of their empire. They almost always chose the upper and more powerful classes, for they had no reason to fear the general mass of a population. They would then send Assyrians to relocate in the conquered territory.

When they conquered Israel, they forced the ten tribes to scatter throughout their empire. For all practical purposes, you might consider this a proto-Diaspora ("diaspora"="scattering"), except that these Israelites disappear from history permanently; they are called "the ten lost tribes of Israel." (Source)

So here is one of the more fascinating twists in history for you!

Assyrians turn into Samaritans...

24 The king of Assyria brought men from Babylon and from Cuthah and from Avva and from Hamath and Sepharvaim, and settled them in the cities of Samaria in place of the sons of Israel. So they possessed Samaria and lived in its cities. 25 At the beginning of their living there, they did not fear the Lord; therefore the Lord sent lions among them which killed some of them. 26 So they spoke to the king of Assyria, saying, “The nations whom you have carried away into exile in the cities of Samaria do not know the custom of the god of the land; so he has sent lions among them, and behold, they kill them because they do not know the custom of the god of the land.”

27 Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, “Take there one of the priests whom you carried away into exile and let him go and live there; and let him teach them the custom of the god of the land.” 28 So one of the priests whom they had carried away into exile from Samaria came and lived at Bethel, and taught them how they should fear the Lord.

29 But every nation still made gods of its own and put them in the houses of the high places which the people of Samaria had made, every nation in their cities in which they lived.
(II Kings 17:24-29)

Isn't that interesting? So now you know why the Samaritans had such a messy faith and why the "pure" Jewish leaders disliked them so much.

I love the study of the ancients, but I really love it when it intersects with my faith in some way. These were real people - people that walked away from the God of the universe - and they were lost forever.

We have this time, right now, to know our Lord! As Romans 5:8 so beautifully states, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

I don't want to be an Israelite lost forever. What a terrible terrible fate.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Cranberry Orange Bread!

Who doesn't like recipes around Christmas! Here is mine to share. 
This is one of our family favorites and doesn't get put away until the last of the cranberries are out of the store. It is just delicious!

Cranberry Orange Bread

4 C white flour
2 C sugar
3 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
1/2 C butter, soft, but not melted
2 eggs
grated rind of a whole orange
11/2 C orange juice
3 C chopped cranberries (or a regular 12 ounce bag)

Preheat oven to 350. Combine the dry ingredients and cut in the butter. Add the egg, orange juice, orange rind, and stir until moist. Fold in cranberries and pour into two greased loaf pans. Bake for 45 minutes to one hour, depending on the thickness of your bread and the length of the pan. I have shorter bread pans so they tend to take longer. Let it cool for 20 minutes before removing from pan and cutting. Enjoy!