Tuesday, April 29, 2014

"The Keeper of the Spring"


~*~
Once there was an elderly, quiet forest dweller who lived high above an Austrian village along the eastern slopes of the Alps. Many years ago, the town council had hired this old gentleman as Keeper of the Spring to maintain purity of the pools of water in the mountain crevices. The overflow from these pools ran down the mountainside and fed the lovely spring which flowed through the town. 
With faithful, silent regularity, the Keeper of the Spring patrolled the hills, removed the leaves and branches from the pools, and wiped away silt that would otherwise choke and contaminate the fresh flow of water. By and by, the village became a popular attraction for vacationers. Graceful swans floated along the crystal-clear spring, the mill wheels of various businesses located near the water turned day and night, farmlands were naturally irrigated, and the view from restaurants sparkled.

Years passed. One evening the town council met for its semiannual meeting. As the council members reviewed the budget, one man's eye caught the salary paid the obscure Keeper of the Spring. "Who is this old man?" he asked indignantly. "Why do we keep paying him year after year? No one ever sees him. For all we know, this man does us no good. He isn't necessary any longer!" By a unanimous vote, the council dispensed with the old man's services.

For several weeks nothing changed. But by early autumn, the trees began to shed their leaves. Small branches snapped off and fell into the pools, hindering the rushing flow of sparkling water. One afternoon, someone noticed a slight yellowish-brown tint in the spring. A few days later, the water had darkened even more. Within a week, a slimy film covered sections of the water along the banks, and a foul odor emanated from the spring. The mill wheels moved slowly; some finally ground to a halt. Businesses located near the water closed. The swans migrated to fresher waters far away, and tourists no longer visited the town. Eventually, the clammy fingers of disease and sickness reached deeply into the village.

Quickly, the embarrassed council called a special meeting. Realizing their gross error in judgment, they rehired the old Keeper of the Spring, and within a few weeks, the veritable river of life began to clear up. The wheels started to turn, and new life returned to the hamlet in the Alps.

~Story by Peter Marshall

~*~ 
In this story, the shortsighted town council enjoyed the beauty of the spring but underestimated the importance of guarding its source. We can make that same mistake in our lives. We need to consistently evaluate the purity of our hearts in prayer, asking God to reveal the little things that contaminate us.
Are there leaves of anger, twigs of resentment, or silt of unforgiveness clogging your spring of living water? Just as little by little the stream became clogged and contaminated by debris, so our spirits can become obstructed by the *small sins* of day-to-day living. Let's keep that water clean and flowing!


"Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me."

Psalm 51:10

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Oatmeal Cream Pies // Recipe


* Oatmeal cream pies... ahhhhh... such a delightful snack! *

Here's a simple recipe for these soft and chewy oatmeal cookies with cream cheese filling for those of you who want to make them homemade!

Ingredients:

For the Cookies:
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup dark brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon unsulfured molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

For the Filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tablespoons powdered sugar

Directions:

1). Make the Cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place racks in upper-third and lower-third levels of oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
2). In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon; set aside.
3). Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and molasses on high speed until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla; beat until combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition.
4). Reduce the mixer speed to low, add the flour mixture and beat until just combined. With a rubber spatula, stir in the oats. Drop the dough in 2-tablespoonful mounds 2-inches apart onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake until the cookies are set at the edges and slightly soft in the middle, approx 12 to 14 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.


5). Make the Filling: Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
6). Assemble the Cream Pies: Spread the filling on the flat side of half of the cookies. Sandwich them with the remaining cookies. Store cookies in an airtight container with wax paper or parchment paper between layers.



Enjoy!


"And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, 
it is the gift of God."
Ecclesiastes 3:13  

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Buckeye Brownies // Recipe

So I am thinking on starting a new tradition here on my blog. Perhaps something called Snack Saturdays? I'm not sure exactly, but I want to post a recipe every Saturday (if I am able).

Today, I am posting a recipe for one of my favorite types of brownies - Buckeye Brownies! You may or may not have heard of them, but they are certainly delicious and if you are a brownie fan like me, you'll definitely want to try them out!


For this recipe, I am focusing mainly on the top and middle layers of the brownie. The bottom layer is just your basic brownie mixture. You can use a box of fudge brownie mix or make the brownie mix of your choice. 

Let's get started!
...
How to make the brownies:

Ingredients:

1 box fudge brownie mix
2 cups powdered sugar
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
6 TB butter, softened
1 cup milk chocolate chips


1). So for starters, you'll want to grease a 9x13 pan, then make and bake brownie mix according to box directions (or your own brownie mix instructions). After removing them from the oven, let cool.

2). In a bowl add your powdered sugar, ½ cup butter and peanut butter. Mix well. Spread with fingers over the brownies and pat down (it has a consistency similar to that of playdough).

3). Melt together chocolate chips and the 6 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally. Spread over top the brownies. Refrigerate so the chocolate has time to harden, then serve.
...
It's that simple! And the brownies are just delectable! I'm sure you'll be making these brownies dozens of times!


Until next week's recipe!

Blessings!

Cryslyn

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Claddagh Ring



The Claddagh Ring gets its name from the Irish phrase "An Cladch" which means "flat stony shore".  The design of this ring originated from a small village on the stony coasts of Ireland.

The Legend of the Claddagh

There are a variety of legends behind this ring, although no one really knows the accurate story. 
The legend that is most likely the closest to the historical truth would be that of the tale of a man named Richard Joyce, a member of the Joyce clan and a native of Galway.
The legend goes something like this: Richard Joyce, a silversmith from Galway circa 1700, is said to have invented the Claddagh design as we know it. Legend has it that Joyce left his town to work in the West Indies, intending to marry his love when he returned. However, his ship was captured and enslaved by Algerian Corsairs around 1675. In Algiers, with his new master, he was trained in his craft. When William III became king, he demanded the Moors release all British prisoners. As a result, Richard Joyce was set free. The goldsmith had such a great amount of respect for Richard Joyce that he offered Joyce his daughter and half his wealth if Joyce stayed, but he denied his offer and returned home to marry his love who awaited his return. During his time with the Moors he forged a ring as a symbol of his love for her. Upon his return he presented her with the ring and they were married.

.....
And then there is another story that tells of a Prince who fell in love with a common maid. To convince her father his feelings were genuine and he had no intentions of "using" the girl, he designed a ring with hands representing friendship, a crown representing loyalty, and a heart representing love. He proposed to the maid with this ring, and after the father heard the explanation of the symbolism of the ring, he gave his blessing.

I personally like the last story best, but as previously stated, no one really knows the real story of the ring because it has been too loaded with myth to precisely identify the true origin.


This ring really fascinates me for several different reasons. First of all, I have maintained an interest for the heritage of Ireland for some time now and am intrigued with the Emerald Isle and the people who inhabit the island.

This ring also has a very interesting meaning to it depending on how you wear it.

On the band are two hands clasping a heart, which are usually usually surmounted by a crown. This is said to symbolize love (the heart), friendship (the hands), and loyalty (the crown).
- Traditionally, if the ring is on the right hand with the heart facing outward and away from the body, this indicates that the person wearing the ring is not in any serious relationship, and may in fact be single and looking for a relationship: "their heart is open."
- When worn on the right hand but with the heart facing inward toward the body, this indicates the person wearing the ring is in a relationship, or that "someone has captured their heart".
- A Claddagh worn on the left hand ring finger facing outward away from the body generally indicates that the wearer is engaged.
- When the ring is on the left hand ring finger and facing inward toward the body, it generally means that the person wearing the ring is married.

This ring is usually given as a gift to a friend or loved one, although I'll admit that the one I own I ended up purchasing for myself. (yes, I was too impatient to wait... ;) but the ring really appealed to me and to be honest, I never would have expected to have been given one by a friend or an admirer. And the ring was just too lovely to not buy it. *grin*  But maybe you'd like to receive it as a gift, having the ring as a symbolism of love, friendship, and loyalty. :)


"Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness."
Proverbs 8:18

Monday, April 14, 2014

Back to Winter . . .


To my surprise, I awoke this morning to find a winter wonderland outside of my bedroom window. If you live anywhere near me in Wisconsin, you'd know that the past few days here have been very temperate and vernal. We have had mild, tepid weather and have even experienced this year's first few thunderstorms. The weather has been warm enough for knee-length skirts and t-shirts and yet today I stepped outdoors to find a frigid, wintry wonderland before my eyes.
Although I am slightly tired of the cold and snow... I have to admit that the scenery today was stunning. The pictures don't do it justice, but seriously, it was breathtaking. Nearly everything was covered in snow -- sparkling, effervescent flurries all aglow with wonder.


Living next to a creek, I can always find a picturesque scene to capture with my camera (but yet again, pictures can't do it justice).





My presumption is that the snow won't last much longer than a week (we're still expecting more flurries)... well, at least I'm hoping that the snow won't last that long. Until it melts, I will just keep warm indoors and enjoy the Narnian winter window view from inside. ;)
This will give me time to relax and finish reading Jane Eyre - a novel that takes a lot of time to complete and a lot of intentness to ensue the plot. So I shall brew myself a hot cup of tea and resign to my room for some afternoon reading.

Farewell for now my lovely readers, and enjoy the weather!

 
"For he saith to the snow, Be thou on the earth;"
Job 37:6

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Scripture Cake with Maple Frosting // Recipe!


This afternoon I decided to try a new dessert from my "to-make" recipe pile. Today I decided on Scripture Cake.

Here is a little history on Scripture cake:

Scripture cake, (made and eaten at Christmas, Easter and Weddings), is also known variously around the Christian world as “Bible Cake,” “Scriptural Cake” or “Old Testament Cake". It was extremely popular in both Britain and America in the latter part of the nineteenth century. The cake was often used as a way to teach young girls to bake and learn Bible verses.

Today Scripture Cake recipes often turn up in local Church Newsletters and Magazines, some of these recipes have been ‘floating’ around for over 200 years, every so often one is plucked from obscurity, out of an old magazine edition. It is then re-printed and becomes popular once more.

From experience, I have found this recipe to be quite tasty and has become a top favorite on my cake list.

For those of you who would like the recipe, here it is!

Scripture Cake Recipe

½ cup butter (Judges 5:25)
2 cups flour (1 Kings 4:22)
¼ teaspoon salt (Leviticus 2:13)
1 cup figs (1 Samuel 30:12)
1-1/2 cups sugar (Jeremiah 6:20)
2 teaspoons baking powder (Luke 13:21)
½ cup water (Genesis 24:11)
1 cup raisins (1 Samuel 30:12)
3 eggs, separated (Isaiah 10:14)
¼ teaspoon each – cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves (1 Kings 10:10)
1 tablespoon honey (Proverbs 24:13)
¾ cup almonds (Genesis 43:11)

Blend butter, sugar, spices, and salt. Add beaten egg yolks. Sift in baking powder and flour then add the water and honey. Chop fruit and nuts and add to mixture. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Pour batter into 2 rounded cake pans (or desired pan) and bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees.
(the original recipe says to cook for an hour, but I have discovered that 30 minutes does the job perfectly - cooking longer than that may cause it to burn)


The cake after removed from the oven.
(I made two of these)


{The completed cake}

I decided to frost both cakes and top with chopped walnut pieces ( I prefer my cake to have a little delectable sweetness, but you can do what you like. ;)
I used maple frosting for this and I found that the taste of both cake and frosting blended well together.

If you'd like to try with the frosting, here is the recipe:

Maple Frosting Recipe

1 cup sugar (I used turbinado sugar, but if you like a smoother consistency you may want to use regular sugar)
¼ butter
¼ cream cheese
½ maple syrup

Melt butter on low heat and then mix in with sugar and cream cheese. Blend with a mixer on low then add the maple syrup and mix for approximately 3 minutes. 


For this recipe, I substituted walnuts for the almonds. (I have found that walnuts provide a softer texture and go well with the raisins). But again, you are free to do as you please. :)

I hope you all enjoy the recipe!


God Bless! 
And have a lovely weekend everyone!

Cryslyn


"O taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!" 
Psalm 34:8

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

For Those of You Who are Waiting . . .




Ladies, if there is one thing we all have in common it is that we all have the desire to be loved. 
It is in our God-given nature. 
We desire to have that sort of relationship we see in all the movies... the romance we read about in books... the kind of affection we see in our parents' relationship...
We want to experience those "awww-ing" moments for ourselves: to have a gentleman hold the door open for us, to be sent a bouquet of flowers when we are sick, to receive flattering compliments and sentimental love notes, to have someone to hold hands with... and that's just to name a few.
We all have our perfect "love story" planned out. I'm sure you have all imagined the day your Prince Charming will come to sweep you off your feet... The day he proposes... The long-awaited wedding day, in all it's awe and splendor... The day you can finally experience having a family of your own - fulfilling your purpose on this earth as a nurturing wife and mother... 
We've all wanted this at some point or other, and some of us dream about those moments daily. It is a normal desire for women, but often times we let those dreams overtake us. We are dreaming about that future so often that we don't take the time to enjoy today: the days of being a single woman.
Paul emphasizes this subject in 1 Corinthians. He states, "The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband."

Now, this is not saying that you can't please the Lord when you are married. That is a completely different subject. But, it is true that when we are single we have more time to focus on God and not so much on romance. 
We need to take advantage of our single years and make the most of it. We need to focus more on pursuing a relationship with our Heavenly Father more than pursuing a relationship with a man. Yes, it is perfectly fine to have a relationship with a man. But he needs to be the right kind of man. He needs to possess all the godly attributes we learn about in the Bible: that spiritual attractiveness that is sure to bring lasting fulfillment. 
If our minds are constantly focused on finding a man, we will be vulnerable and pick the wrong one. We'll let our naivety overcome our better judgement because we'll feel so wonderful being pursued by a man - whether he is a godly man or not.

I have never dated before, but I am completely okay with that. I don't want to go through relationship after relationship with the wrong guy. I have had several guys interested in me, but they weren't Christians. The attention was wonderful, yes, but there was no godly meaning behind it. It is flattering to have a guy (Christian or not) giving you all his attention, but don't be so naive to let his words win your heart. What kind of man is he if not a godly man? What can he offer you as a husband and as a father to your children? He may be handsome and funny and say all the right words to make you feel like a princess... but how much of that will really matter in a long-term relationship? Does he desire you for your heart, or for your body?

These are all important questions to consider. We need to maintain good judgement when it comes to picking out our future husbands. We need to turn to Scripture and decide whether this man has the qualities we really want in a husband or not. We don't want to be taken advantage of. We want to be pursued by the right man and loved with an unconditional and spiritual love. 
A good quote that I have found states that: "True manhood does not seek to compromise a woman's purity, true manhood stands up to heroically protect it."

And we as women need to be the kind of person we expect in our future husbands. We need to have admirable, holy traits that a man would find attractive in us.




So stay patient, friends. Wait for the right man. Don't go after the first one who catches your attention. Get to know his desires, his goals, and most importantly... what's in his heart... how is his relationship with Christ?

 
Blessings to you all,
 
 

"Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life."

Proverbs 4:23