Welcome to Plaid Eggnog!

Welcome to Plaid Eggnog!

Mar 30, 2010

Ode to rubber boots (by Julie)

Spring has come to Hudson Bay about 2 months early this year. Already, we have temperatures above freezing, and the snow is nearly gone. The parkas are being put away, along with the heavy mittens and boots that keep you warm into the -30s.

All you need to prepare for an afternoon outside these days is a spring jacket - and one other thing, to fight the huge puddles and mud from the quick snow melt. It's something known as wellies, galoshes or gumboots, depending on where you're from. (There I am modeling some in the photo, taken Xmas 03 on the east coast.)

This time of year reminds me of a great poem I learned as a child:

Galoshes (by Rhoda W. Bacmeister)

Susie's galoshes
Make splishes and sploshes
And slooshes and sloshes
As Susie steps slowly
Along in the slush.

Any Susies out there? ;-)

Mar 29, 2010

Reflection for Holy Week - Busyness & Priorities

"Chronic busyness is a symptom of messed-up priorities."

This is the beginning of a very thought-provoking reflection, very timely for the beginning of Holy Week. It's from a blog I follow, called Sabbath Walk.

Check it out by clicking on the phrase above - and have a prayerful, blessed Holy Week.


March 22 & 23 Devos - remixed

For some reason, there were errors in the files for the devos from March 22 & 23. We've reposted them now - the files are larger, but they work. You can find them under the post for March 22-24, by clicking on the devotional links.

Mar 21, 2010

Good Advice on Money

The Bible is a treasure-trove of wisdom on that controversial subject of money. Besides being one of those things we're not supposed to talk about in polite company, money can be described in the same way that men and women sometimes describe each other, out of frustration: Money...you can't live with it, and you can't live without it!

Here are a few gems from the famous teacher Paul, in the book of 1st Timothy (The Message translation). There's something for everyone...and isn't it funny how we can see ourselves in both of these categories at once?

For those who don't have much money:
"A devout life does bring wealth, but it's the rich simplicity of being yourself before God. Since we entered the world penniless and will leave it penniless, if we have bread on the table and shoes on our feet, that's enough."

For those who have enough money to meet basic needs and more:
"Tell those rich in this world's wealth to quit being so full of themselves and so obsessed with money, which is here today and gone tomorrow. Tell them to go after God, who piles on all the riches we could ever manage - to do good, to be rich in helping others, to be extravagantly generous. If they do that, they'll build a treasury that will last, gaining life that is truly life."

March 22-24 Radio Devotionals

Here are the radio devos for Mon-Wed of this week. If you've had trouble with the March 23 file, it's now usable - although it's a larger file this time.

March 22 - 1 Kings 13:33-34 - The journey toward ordination as a priest/minister

March 23 - 1 Kings 17:1-7 - Not the best, but blessed...enough

March 24 - 1 Kings 17:7-16 - Trusting God in hard times

Mar 15, 2010

Making our own post cards

At the end of February, we took a brief get-away to North Dakota. We stayed in a city called Minot - rhymes with "Why Not." (Really, it does!) Minot is our closest US destination, at 630 km / 400 miles due south of Hudson Bay. Yes, I know you're probably thinking that's a long way to go...and it is. But after spending most of our lives living only an hour from the border, like most Canadians, taking trips to the USA is kind of in our blood. Not to mention the cross-border shopping...
Anyway, off we went, and we had a great time browsing (and buying) in our favourite shops, like Barnes & Noble, Target, and Bath & Body Works. We also fit in a dinner at quirky Space Aliens, where both menu items and décor are out-of-this-world with their martian themes.

A favourite spot to stop in Minot is the Scandinavian Heritage Park, which pays homage to the many Scandinavians who settled in North Dakota just about 100 years ago. Replicas of famous buildings and statues of historical figures represent the culture of all five Scandinavian countries: Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Iceland and Finland. We stayed only a short time, as the snow was deep and Minot was experiencing a cold snap. But we took some photos first, of course. :-)

When we came home, we used these photos to try our hand at making a post card on the computer, using PhotoShop Elements. It was surprisingly easy, using instructions we found in a photography magazine. If you would like to know how to make a post card, too, drop us a line and we'll post the instructions.

March 15 & 16 Radio Devotionals

Here are our radio devos for March 15 & 16:

1 Kings 11:1-13 Solomon and the ladies

1 Kings 11:29-39 Cost of failing to follow God

Mar 13, 2010

Peanut Butter Waffles

By Julie

Yesterday was our weekly Sabbath, and we decided to treat ourselves to a special breakfast - peanut butter waffles.

It was the first time we'd tried this recipe and it was excellent!  (Thank you to my mum for sending it to us).

Here's Steve, our waffle expert, getting everything ready for another batch.

We made the recipe with the amount of peanut butter specified, and the waffles smelled strongly nutty.

Gryffin loves peanut butter, so he was VERY interested in these waffles! Although he did get a couple of small nibbles, he wasn't always successful in his begging. He looks just a little bit miffed about his waffle-less status in the photo below...

Despite the strong aroma, the waffles' peanut butter flavour was actually quite mild. If you would prefer to have a strong peanut butter flavour, increase the ingredient amount accordingly. We also tried adding chocolate chips at the end of the batch, and that made for very decadent waffles - think Reese's Pieces!

Here's the recipe:

First, mix together the dry ingredients:
1 1/4 cup (300 ml) flour
2 tsp (10 ml) baking powder
1/4 tsp (1-2 ml) salt

Then, in a separate bowl, mix together:
1/2 cup (125 ml) peanut butter
1/4 cup (50 ml) honey
2 eggs
1 1/4 cup (300 ml) milk
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla

When everything has been mixed, add chocolate or peanut butter chips to taste (optional).

Gradually mix the wet ingredients into the dry ones. Then spoon the batter onto a hot wafflemaker and wait for your delicious waffles to cook! Serve with nutella (or other chocolate spread) or a mild, sweet syrup (such as corn - real maple syrup's delicate flavour would likely not pair well with the peanut butter).

Mar 12, 2010

Gryffin Goes to the Circus

Finally my two humans are letting me, Gryffin the Welsh Terrier, at the blog. So today it's a Dog-Blog.

I roll my eyes whenever I hear that "you can't teach an old dog a new trick." Not that I'm an old dog. 7 and a half seems prime-of-life to me!

My new trick for the past few weeks has been learning to jump through a hula-hoop. Now I have big plans, like getting a shiny performance uniform, and taking my show on the road. Oh the possibilities - a circus act! busking for treats! Dazzling all those people whose dogs have barely mastered "shake a paw" and so much more!

Hmm, what if they lit the hoop on fire?? Oh the possibilities!

CFMQ Radio Devotionals - Mar 11 & 12

Julie and Steve continue all month with the radio devotionals on CFMQ in Hudson Bay. But since the broadcasts only reach about 30 km from town, here they are for the farther-flung friends:

Thursday March 11 (Julie) - 1 Kg 8:23-53

Friday March 12 (Julie) - 1 Kg 10:6-9

Mar 11, 2010

Murder and Munchies

Do you like mysteries? I love detective novels, and one of our stops in London, England in 2008 simply had to be the Sherlock Holmes museum. From the photo taken there, can you tell that I had a good time?

One of my favourite mystery series is by Joanne Fluke. Each story stars Hannah Swensen, a 30-something bakery owner in small-town Minnesota. You can find the full menu of all Hannah’s adventures at Joanne Fluke’s website, aptly named http://www.murdershebaked.com/.

These books are a delicious, light read, in more ways than one. Besides concocting mysteries in each book, Ms. Fluke serves up Minnesota's cultural flavour. I really appreciate this taste of Minnesota, since it’s where my bro & sis-in-law Chris & Steph, and beautiful nieces Aimée (3) & Olivia (7 months), live. And as a bonus, the books are stuffed with scrummy recipes. The only downside is that reading them gives you the nibbles!

In the book I just devoured, Apple Turnover Murder, there was a recipe for chocolate sugar cookies. I was intrigued – and hungry! Sugar cookies are one of my faves, but I’d never heard of the chocolate variety. Naturally, I had to sample them – and they’re absolutely delectable. Here’s the recipe, including metric translation for friends outside North America:

Chocolate Sugar Cookies (click here for image) 

Preheat oven to 325 F (160 C), rack in the middle position.

2 cups (450 g) melted butter
4 one-ounce (115 g) squares semi-sweet chocolate
2 cups (500 ml) powdered (aka icing) sugar
1 cup (250 ml) white sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp (10 ml) vanilla
1 tsp (5 ml) orange zest
1 tsp (5 ml) baking soda
1 tsp (5 ml) cream of tartar
1 tsp (5 ml) salt
4 ¼ cups (1000 ml) flour
½ cup (125 ml) white sugar in a small bowl (for later)

Melt the butter and chocolate in a saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, or in the microwave in a quart / litre measuring cup for 3 minutes. Once the butter and chocolate are melted, stir them smooth, transfer them to a large mixing bowl, and add the powdered and white sugars. Stir thoroughly and set the mixture aside to cool.

When the mixture is cool enough so it won’t cook the eggs, add the eggs, one at a time, stirring after each addition. Then mix in the vanilla, orange zest, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt. Mix it all up together.

Add flour in half-cup increments, mixing after each addition. You don’t have to be precise – just divide your flour into roughly 4 parts.

Once the dough has been thoroughly mixed, roll one-inch dough balls with your fingers. Dip the balls in the bowl of white sugar and roll them around until they’re coated.

Place the dough balls on a greased cookie sheet, 12 dough balls to a standard-size sheet. Flatten the balls a bit with your palm, so they won’t roll off the sheet on the way to the oven.

Bake cookies at 325 for 10-15 minutes (12 will likely do it). Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes, then remove cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Makes 7-8 dozen cookies. Recipe can be cut in half - that’s what I did.

Mar 9, 2010

Hockey and the Canadian Identity

SP: After my post last week, declaring my not-so-visible minority status as hockey-apathetic (or even hockey-antagonistic?) and some great and thoughtful replies in the comments (thank you!) comes this interesting item of a preacher interacting with a journalist just before the gold-medal game, exploring identity and spirituality issues related to hockey.

It reminds me of the NHL lockout year (2005 I think), when I organized for our middle-school youth group a Table Hockey tournament for those poor souls going through hockey withdrawl. Gave a talk too, during tournament intermission, about how Jesus went to the penalty box for you.

March 9th & 10th Radio Devotionals

Click on the links below to download our March 9th & 10th devotionals:

March 9th (Steve's birthday!) - 1 Kings 6:37-7:2 - Too Much on Me (by Steve)

March 10th - 1 Kings 8:1-11 - You Get What You Pray For (by Julie)

Are these devotionals interesting or helpful to you? We'd love to know what you think! :-)

Mar 6, 2010

There's a Zombie on my lawn

Our blog has been on the serious side lately, so let us lighten things up...by telling you about our new computer game addiction! ;-) It's called Plants vs. Zombies.

Before you think we've lost our minds, let us explain...the game is decidedly NOT one of those violent, bloody ones, despite the involvement of zombies. Instead, you protect your house by fending off a variety of cartoon zombies (football players, zamboni drivers, bobsledders, etc.). With what weapons, you might ask? Why, plants like sunflowers that bop in time to the music, of course, and pea-shooters that clobber the undead with - you guessed it! - peas (either fresh or frozen). And all with an over-the-top cuteness factor. (And a serious addiction factor too!)

At the end of 50 adventure levels, you're treated to a music video called "There's a zombie on my lawn" which gets into your head just a little less stickily than "Achy Breaky Heart" did in years past. The song is sung by one of the smiling sunflowers, standing on a stage on your now-protected lawn, playing to a crowd of happy-as-they-get zombies. You can get a sneak-peak on the website, by clicking on Videos / Music Video.

Then there are all the puzzles that you unlock by being successful in the adventure levels. Who could forget wall-nut zombie bowling, or beghouled? If you love puns, you'll love this game!

We haven't found a game in years that amused, absorbed or made us laugh as much as this one does. And it only cost us $20 US, when we picked it up on our recent trip to North Dakota. You can also buy it online. Why not try a free download and let us know how you like it?

Mar 4, 2010

March 4th Radio Devotional

Here's our radio devotional for March 4th, by Julie. We've tried a smaller file format, so the download should be a lot faster now.

Click on the following link to download the audio file:  1st Kings 3:5-15 Solomon asks God for wisdom

Mar 3, 2010

Do real Canadians play hockey - or go curling?

Julie throws her hat into the ring(s), regarding the hockey vs. curling debate.

It seems to me that hockey doesn't fit the Canadian character. I don't mean the backyard, homegrown, friendly pond hockey of the game's origins. I mean hockey as it has become today - professionalized to the point that even small fry hockey players are required to pay exorbitant participation fees and travel hundreds of kilometres in competition, just to be part of a local team.

We Canadians are known worldwide as polite, deferential, socially caring and inclusive people.  (That's the positive side - the negative side is that we're also reserved to the point of creating false impressions, as well as being passive and having an inferiority complex. But that's another post and I digress...) This description of the Canadian identity is a stereotype, granted, and it doesn't necessarily apply to every Canadian on an individual basis. But it's easy to see the truth in it, when we look at our culture as a whole. 

What sport better fits us, then? Hockey or curling? Let's see how each jives with the four aspects of our national character, mentioned above. (Cue Jeopardy music here.)

1. Polite - curling is not violent or loud; hockey is both - and involves way too much Stompin' Tom music, in my opinion...but I was regaled with it as a child in my grandfather's truck, so perhaps I'm overreacting ;-)

2. Deferential - curling includes an orderly taking of turns, one at a time, with no clobbering of opponents; hockey involves outright competition to even have a go at the puck, let alone a shot at the goal, with checking and fights an accepted part of the game for most players

3. Socially caring - curling does not demand high registration fees, require much special equipment or demand extensive travel , so most can afford to play; hockey is so expensive for the players and travel so time-consuming for the parents that it is becoming an exclusive hobby as well as a stress-filled near-career for children

4. Inclusive - curling is a sport that people can play from childhood into middle and even old age, such that grandparents, parents and children could conceivably play successfully on the same team; hockey is very difficult to play safely as age advances, and age groups must be divided up to make it fair

It seems to me that curling wins this competition, and without anyone even having to go to the penalty box.

Canada did indeed take gold in both men's and women's hockey. But I think an equally laudable accomplishment is our teams' successes in curling. Our women brought home silver, while the (undefeated) men got gold. Now, there is something we can be proud of (although modestly, of course) as "real" Canadians.

March 3rd Radio Devotional

Here's our radio devotional for March 3rd, this time by Julie.

Click on the following link to download the audio file:  What is success? 1st Kings 2:1-4 by Julie

Mar 2, 2010

Steve Rants About Hockey

I (Steve) did not watch a single minute of Canada’s gold-medal-winning hockey game on Sunday. Nor did Julie. We are apparently part of a small minority. News reports today say 26.5 million Canadians watched at least part of the game. Out of a population of just under 34 million.

One reason I didn’t watch is that I no longer like hockey. Oh, I’ll go watch a parishioner play at the local rink a couple times a year. But on tv? Or spend $$ for a ticket? No thanks.

I was a big fan as a child. I still have a Canucks jersey in the closet, and many of my old hockey cards. And a table hockey game.

But I long ago tired of the violence in hockey. Epitomized in this quote: “You might spear a guy in the face, fight a guy, elbow a guy, slash a guy or just make a clean bodycheck... if they don’t know what I’m going to do, I hold the trump card.” So said Chris Pronger (Sports Illustrated, Dec 9, 2009 p.110), one of Canada’s Olympians. One of our representatives, one of our best players at “our game.”

Because nothing says “Canadian” like a sport that tolerates intentional attempts to injure...?

Backyard shinny on a frozen pond? That says ‘Canadian’ to me. And street hockey. But the game has become so organized, so rink-based. And the violence and anger constantly shocks me, with stories of parents fighting while their 15/16 year old kids play. Not so ‘Canadian’ I think.

Others have said (most recently Don Cherry, but you can ignore him) that if Canada had won 20 gold, but missed it in men’s (and women’s?) hockey, the Games would have been a failure. That’s how much the sport is “our game.”

Clearly I am out of step with the culture and country I live in. So tell me: Where should I live instead? For my fellow Canadians, it’s a chance to tell me “where to go,” a verbal high-sticking if you like. For international friends, make the case for why I should be in another part of the world.

Mar 1, 2010

March 2nd Radio Devotional

Here's our radio devotional for March 2nd: March 2 - God defies expectations

Steve and Julie's Radio Devotionals

As part of our membership in the Hudson Bay Ministerial Association (which includes ministers and priests in this area), we get to go on local radio twice per year. For these sessions, we've been working our way through the Old Testament, and we're on air with 5-minute devotionals from the adventures of the kings of Israel, in the book of 1st Kings, for the month of March. This is unfortunately a very little-known book, but it's one of our favourites. The stories read like a Hollywood adventure!

We'll be posting all the devotionals from this month, so check back every weekday for a new one. If you find them interesting, let us know, and we can post some from previous times on air.

To download the audio file, click on the link below. It will take a few minutes to load, so you may want to open another window and do something else while you wait. We hope you like these little thoughts for the day! :-)

Click on the link to listen to the devotional: 1st Kings 1 Devotional - Shaping Our Children