27 March 2013

Bible Study for Busy Mamas: A Review

Dear Lissy,

Today I'm reviewing a book that is set to release in just a week, Thirty Days of Bible Study for Busy Mamas: Colossians 3 by Mrs. Pam Forster.  I received the book from Doorposts publishing just this week, but I had the privilege of going through the study last fall on the Doorposts blog.  It will also be available as a PDF e-book at the time of release.

My criteria. . .

I approached this book from the standpoint of a busy homeschooling mom who loves inductive Bible study.  I've been studying the Bible inductively for nearly 20 years, both independently and using study guides.  I've never considered the possibility of being able to study the Bible with less than a 45 minutes per day commitment.  I also love and support a number of moms with preschoolers who desperately want to be in the Word, but don't regularly have an uninterrupted hour to devote to Bible study.  I knew Pam Forster to be a thorough student of the Word based on her prior publications, but could she manage the depth and breadth of an inductive Bible study in just minutes a day?

My impressions. . .

The product
  • Thirty Days of Bible Study shipped fast and clean, crossing the country from Oregon to New England in just 2 days without a scratch or bend.
  • This slim book is beautifully made, Bible-sized (5-1/2 x 8-1/2"), and lays open flat from day one.
  • This is not a write-in workbook, which I likedI get frustrated with study books that have random blank spaces for answers and prefer to use my own notebook or computer.
  • The PDF version is very well done and easy to use.
The layout
  •  I liked that each day is a separate chapter with a clear title, so it's easy to look back and locate information just by scanning the table of contents.
  • Each day has a mini assignment along with a clear, step-by-step explanation.  Mamas could feasibly break the five to ten minute assignment into one or two minute sessions throughout the day. 
  • I found it particularly valuable that any time the assignment is something new or potentially unfamiliar,  the new skill is taught as part of the assignment.  
  • This format has six days of study with one day of "catch up" or an optional assignment. I liked the option.  I used the catch up day twice during the study, and did the optional assignment the other two times.
 The content
  •  Mrs. Forster chose to limit the size of the study by limiting its scope to a single chapter, Colossians 3.   Initially I was concerned about that choice because a single chapter of an epistle can't stand alone.  One of the first assignments, however, is to read the entire book of Colossians to understand the context.  She also gives four optional assignments that cover the whole book rather than just the single chapter.
  • The reader/student is taken through a thorough inductive study of this chapter during the course of the first 28 days.  The last two days are devoted to well thought out personal application questions.
  • While Pam offers abundant hints and helps along the way, there is no "answer key" for this book. This is typical of inductive study guides, and appropriate for its intended audience, but I would love to see a Leader/Teacher guide published in the future.. 
  • I appreciated the four Appendices which offer additional help on tools for study, how to mark your Bible, what to do with your children while you study, and how to continue studying after finishing the book.
  • Like many of my readers, I have a conviction regarding the Greek TR manuscriptsMrs. Forster doesn't share those convictions, but only one day of the study is affected.  On "Day 24: Different Translations", I chose to compare the KJV with the Third Millennium Bible, which is also based solely on the TR.  Both Bible versions are available on the website recommended in the book for this assignment.  She also makes frequent references to and recommendations of modern translations that do not affect the study in any way for those using only translations based on the TR.
 My recommendation. . .

Like other Doorpost material I've used, this book is extremely well done in both form and content.  I found the print book slightly easier to use than the PDF version, but if cost is a factor, the PDF is well done and will not detract from the study in any way.  I had just completed an inductive study of Colossians when I began this study last fall, making an easy basis for comparison.  I believe I received nearly identical content on this chapter from both studies, but the assignment on Day 29 helped me make much better applications for my parenting than I had on my own.  This book accomplished its stated purpose as well as providing an excellent resource for anyone who wishes to learn inductive study on a small scale before undertaking a whole book.  Thank you, Mrs. Forster, for another excellent product!

I received a free advance copy of this book in paperback format from Doorposts in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to give a positive review, and all opinions expressed are my own.

To order Thirty Days of Bible Study for Busy Mamas:  Colossians 3, or to download a PDF preview,  click here.

I hope there are many more of these books to follow in the years to come.  We'll start through them once you're in your teens -- I can't wait!


18 March 2013

Join Me for Morning Quiet Time!

Would you like to join me for eight weeks of morning devotions?

  • Daily scripture portion of 5-10 verses from the book of Luke
  • SOAP your reading.
  • Share a little or a lot from your own soap on a secret facebook group with a small group of ladies studying the same passage.  Our group has a max enrollment of 12.
  • Share prayer requests and personal goals and uphold others in their needs and goals.
***This is not a teaching study.  As a believer, you are under the authority and teaching of your own local church and pastor. This study only provides a reading plan and accountability. ***

  1. If you're interested, request to be added to our facebook group, Good Morning NH.  The group is "closed" until all members are added, and then the status is changed to "secret".  If your request is denied, it is because our group is full.
  2. Head over to Good Morning Girls to enroll.  Good Morning NH is already registered with GMG since I am one of their trained group moderators.
  3. Subscribe to Good Morning Girls via e-mail or reader to get the links to the SOAP notebook and reading plan.
I look forward to studying God's Word alongside you for the next couple of months,

14 March 2013

Elmbrook Farm Apple Pie

Dear Lissy,

At Elmbrook Farm, apple pie is eaten at room temperature with a  cuppa coffee.  For breakfast.  Or coffee break at 10 am after the milking's done and Fred drops by.  Or maybe after supper when the kitchen's cleaned up and you're watching Jeopardy.  It's an all-purpose food, a symbol of a hard but simple life.

My mom and Grammy in the dining room at Elmbrook Farm.   


Elmbrook Farm pie isn't like, say, Kansas pie.  Our pie is flat, like a turnover, and baked in a stoneware dish or a shallow tin pie plate.  The crust is plain and flaky, a simple amalgam of flour, short, and water.  Three or four Northern Spy or Cortland apples, barely sweetened, and a pat of butter complete the recipe.  My gram served it with a dollop of ice cream, Dad and I prefer sharp cheese.

Elmbrook Farm Apple Pie
makes one dish-sized pie

3-4 medium Northern Spy or Cortland apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
Up to 1/3 cup sugar (taste the apple)
1 tsp. cinnamon 
2 tsp. butter
2 cups white flour
3/4 tsp. salt
2/3 cup shortening or lard
6-7 Tbsp cold water
In a medium mixing bowl, mix the flour and salt with a fork.  Cut in the 2/3 cup short with a tuna cutter or just the side of the fork until mixture is crumbly.  Drizzle in the iced water, tossing with the fork until every bit is moistened and clings together.  Form into two balls, one slightly larger.  Roll the larger ball on a square of floured parchment and line the plate or shallow tin. Layer the apples in no more than 2 slices deep, leaving a 1"rim around the edge of the crust.  Mix the sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle over the apples.  Dot with butter.  Roll out the second crust.  Moisten the edge of the bottom crust with water, and place top crust on.  Press together and flute using thumb and forefinger of right hand and pointer of left hand.  Run the pie crust under a drizzle of cold water from the faucet, spinning and tipping to get the top wet.  Cut vents with the tip of a paring knife.  Place in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes, and finish in a 350 degree oven until apples are soft when the tip of the knife is inserted through a vent, about 15 minutes more.  Cool and serve.

I miss the days of visiting the farm, but perhaps we'll make the trek back this spring.  I'd like you to have memories of walking the fields and playing in the hay mow, too.

Pie crusts and promises,

07 March 2013

Scrap Quilting, Part 3: Choosing and Stashing Fabric

Dear Lissy,

I've got a pan of Pioneer Woman apple dumplings in the oven, and just a few minutes to drop you a letter on how I choose and stash fabric.

I follow these guidelines to make quilts that visually appeal to me.

The Wolfrom color tool is invaluable for a scrap quilter.

  • I always use the Ives color wheel, not the traditional red-yellow-blue wheel.  If you're using a computer program, make sure the color picks are based on the Ives wheel.  Whole books have been written about the merits of the Ives wheel, and you can find an enormous amount online.
  • I use the same background fabric for every block. Prints must be very subtle tone-on-tone. When background fabrics are varied, the quilt is too busy for my taste.
  • I only stash fabrics that are tone-on-tone or analagous colors.  
  • I rarely sash between blocks, preferring the secondary patterns that emerge when blocks are placed side-by-side.
  • I prefer a pieced border, especially if it completes a pattern.  
  • I prefer plain, unbleached muslin to back a quilt.
  • I always bind with a geometric print (stripes, checks, plaid).

My quilt guidelines free me to buy fabric wisely.  I shop clearance sales in local quilt shops and online, allowing me the best bang for the buck.

  • For "stashing" I buy fabrics that match tones on the Ives color tool.
  • I buy no more than a fat quarter of fabric unless I know it will be used for binding.  I buy a yard of stripes, plaids, and checks for bindings.
  • I don't stash background fabric.
  • I buy unbleached muslin in large quantities with a half off coupon.  My main requirement is that it have an even thread count around 70 threads per inch both warp and weft.  
  • I try to buy at least three values of the same color (light, medium, and dark) because I know I like to use them together for "glow" in my quilt.
  • I only buy fabric with a dyed design.  Painted designs are too difficult to hand quilt.
  • Once I know I'm going to be making a quilt with a particular colorway, I put out the word to quilting friends who happily hand over their scraps.  I can utilize much smaller pieces because I don't have to rotary cut.

Our apple dumplings are done, and by some weird alchemy crescent rolls and Mountain Dew have become a delicious dessert that tastes homemade from scratch.

Sew in Love,

06 March 2013

Queso Blanco Dip (No Processed Cheeses!)

Dear Lissy,
I had my first encounter with authentic Mexican Food in South Carolina.  My shiny new roommates treated me to a birthday dinner of enchiladas at a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant off campus.  We ordered a pot of queso to accompany the overflowing basket of free tortilla chips, and I was pretty sure nothing that tasty had ever crossed my lips before.  I lived and traveled in the South for the next 6 years, and began to take the ubiquitous pot of queso for granted.  Then we moved back to New England, and I haven't had a decent bowl since.
Up here, it's not uncommon for a wad of plasticy velveeta and a jar of canned salsa to be microwaved into a lava-like consistency and offered up as queso dip.  That. is. not. queso.  I began testing recipes, all promising my precious queso dip on my own stovetop.  Nope.  Not even close.  About a year ago I encountered enchiladas blanco, and the sauce reminded me of queso.  When this recipe appeared, I was pretty sure I was on to something good.  After making it once, I'm convinced this is the closest I'm going to come with ingredients available in a New Hampshire Super Wal-Mart.

Queso Blanco Dip
Adapted from Miguel's Restuarants, San Diego
Makes 3-1/2 cups
I'm giving directions here to season this as either a classic jalapeno dip, or a smoky, less-hot version we prefer.
2 cups whipping cream ( 475 g )
1 cup sour cream ( 254 g )
1 tsp chicken base (24 g )
2 tbsp. clarified butter (28.25 g )
1 tbsp. flour (20 g )
1 jalapeno, minced (30 g ) or 1 (4 oz.) can chopped green chiles (113 g)
1 tbsp juice from bottled jalapenos ( 30 g ) or up to 1 tsp. chipotle chile powder
4 oz shredded Colby-Jack cheese (113 g )  Pre-shredded cheese will not melt properly.  Hand grate from a block of CoJack cheese.

Heat whipping cream in 2 cup Pyrex measure in the microwave for 1 min, 30 seconds or just under a boil.   When the cream is ready to boil, whisk in sour cream. After sour cream dissolves, stir in chicken base and jalapeno juice (or 1/2 tsp. chipotle pepper) and set aside.

While cream is heating: Make a roux by warming butter in a saucepan over medium heat, adding flour, and mixing with a wire whip until mixture starts to turn pale gold.  This dip has a thin consistency.  If you're looking for a thicker dipping consistency, use Wondra flour or a scant 2 Tbsp. flour.

Add cream mixture, whisking until roux is incorporated and mixture is at a simmer. Remove from heat; stir in minced jalapeno or green chiles and grated cheese. Taste queso for spiciness, and adjust if necessary.  Serve with chicken, fish, french fries, or just tortilla chips.

 Love ya hot thang,

P.S.  Daddy just came home for lunch and scarfed down the rest of the bowl. . .guess it passes inspection!