Sunday, October 31, 2010

Chocolate Swirl Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Here's another grain-free experiment that turned out soooo yummy! It's a perfect fall treat!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9x13 pan.

2 c. almond meal
4 tbsp. raw sugar
1/2 c. butter, melted
2 tsp cocoa powder
Mix above ingredients together and press into bottom of pan with a fork.

1 8 oz. block cream cheese or yogurt cheese, softened
1/2 c. plain kefir or yogurt
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
4 eggs
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
couple dashes cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. semisweet chocolate
Blend together all filling ingredients except chocolate until mixed. Set aside 1 c. pumpkin mixture and pour rest of filling into pan. Melt chocolate on double boiler on stove. Stir the remaining 1 c. pumpkin filling into the melted chocolate. Drop dollops of chocolate mixture onto pumpkin mixture in the pan and swirl with a butter knife. Bake 40-50 minutes or until bars are set but still jiggle slightly. Cool and serve. Can top with whipped cream if desired.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Cute Factor

Does covering something ugly with something cute rid it of it's inherent ugliness? No. Like a new slipcover on a ratty old couch, even if it's outer covering is adorable and sweet, underneath, it's still a run down, ratty old couch.

There was a time when we used to take our kids trick-or-treating and participated in all the cute Halloween stuff. However, does making it cute rid the day of it's inherent evil? Truly, it IS "just another day." It's not a Biblical religious holiday, so it is a day that is just as common as any other. So what does it matter if we dress up in adorable (sometimes) costumes, and go door to door, begging treats from our friends and neighbors? What harm is there in that?

On the surface, it is's cute and fun, just like the new slipcover. But the reasons behind WHY these traditions started are not cute or fun at all. It's still the same old nasty couch underneath. Is it really okay for our children to be groomed to accept these things as normal and fun and okay? As a society, I think we're blurring the lines of right and wrong for our kids; we're sending mixed messages. What could Halloween mean to a young, pre-teen girl dabbling in witchcraft for fun? As a kid, I know myself and most of my friends participated in something like that at some point, and usually it revolved around something having to do with Halloween. I want my children to know what dangers lie lurking beyond these seemingly harmless spells and chants and where the traditions of this day come from, so they aren't duped into thinking it's all just harmless fun. Beyond a certain point, it's not just fun and games anymore. And for the struggling teen girl (or boy), what if in a few years down the road, it does turn into something more? Does she know it's just another day, like any other?

Some people have been unknowingly led to believe that this is a holy day. There is a difference between what the Bible considers holy compared to what some churches and denominations consider holy. Holy means set-apart; October 31st is not a day that is set-apart for the Lord anywhere in the Bible. Some faiths have deemed it to be a holy day for their religion. I guess the concern there would be whether or not you're content to follow the teachings of a church if they're creating (or in the case of Halloween/All Saints Day/All Hallow's Eve/Day of the Dead/Hallow mass/Fall solstice, re-creating) their own holy days without precedence from the Bible.

There is no harm in having a dress-up party. For most people, that is why they love is fun to dress up and get together with friends and be silly. There is just no reason why it is good for us to do it in association with these cultic celebrations and there are plenty of reasons why it can be harmful. Let's become set-apart from these things. Do a fund-raiser costume party or do it just because. Just let it be completely unassociated with cultic rituals. Those who have come out of the Wiccan religion cannot understand why people, especially those who claim to be Christian, would want anything to do with these pagan celebrations. Here are a couple short videos that teach us more about the cultic practices that are what we now call Halloween.

A little more info on the original cultic practices that are behind Halloween.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Seasons Change

I'm am just in one of those seasons of life right now where I am just content. Things are good.

I feel blessings in every aspect of my life, even the challenging parts. I'm content with family, faith, friends, and material blessings. For once, I don't feel the need to add "or the lack of" and it's not that we have anything more than we had in any point in the fact, we've got less at the moment. Sometimes I get to feeling that I'm too content and am not growing enough, but this time, for now, it's a good place to be.

Despite the contentedness, I'm still learning new things about God's greatness and still growing, but yet somehow I feel free from all the trappings of the world, religion and everything else that seems to ensnare us at times. Despite hardships we've been facing lately, I just have this peace that everything is okay. Maybe it's the fruit of working out all the kinks in the things I've struggled with for so long...maybe it's just a season God's going to allow me to rest in for a while. In the past, whenever things go well I just have this fear of what might be coming next, but that fear is not there for the first time. It's still work...we work hard every day to learn, we work hard at our relationships, we work hard to bless others. Maybe that's what it is! Life is it's fullest when we're able to work at the things that truly matter. Thank you, God, for freeing me to be able to do that!

Knowing the way to get somewhere is entirely different than being on the journey to get there. And we must take joy in the journey, but the journey itself is pointless unless the destination is worth arriving at! "For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another." Rom 14:17-19

Seasons change, life brings it's ups and downs, and for today, I'm just enjoying the ride and soaking it all in. If this is the peace that we're's wonderful and I'll take it! I love this place. I hope you are are every bit as blessed wherever you are today!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Adventures in Geocaching

One of our new fun activities is geocaching. Well, we've actually been doing it for a while but the kids were never very excited about it until recently. I think part of it has to do with the cool Garmin my sister has that they had a ton of fun using on our last adventure!

Geocaching is great because it gets you outside exploring areas you might not otherwise go. It's educational, too! You learn how to navigate and investigate your surroundings and there's a reward at the end. And don't forget the most important's FUN! You can learn more about it at the Geocaching website. It's fun to do when you travel to new places, too!

We just had a couple extra hours the other day so went on a quick walk on an easy local trail to find us a cache. It was such a beautiful, autumn day! I love fall!

The Galligator Trail

The boys found the first Geocache!

Love the Mountains!


Beautiful scenery, beautiful weather, beautiful times!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Our Little Home Away From Home

So a few months ago we were blessed enough to attain another project...a little fixer-upper camper just the perfect size for us! We've been tent campers for many years now, but having a tent in Montana often limits where it's safe to camp because we're surrounded by grizzly country. When we had the opportunity to get this little gem, we jumped on it! We invested a little money in new tires and the materials for new cushions, cleaned it up a bit, and got things working. Now, I'm not a sewer AT ALL. So, the cushion upholstering turned out to be quite the adventure! I'm so glad they're done (seemed like it took forever!) and every minute of making them was a trial for me, the most unexperienced seamstress ever. I didn't even take a home-ec class in high school, for goodness sakes! At least they turned out useable enough for us...many mistakes and all!

We cannot wait to head up into the mountains into our new (to us) little home away from home! The kids were begging to just sleep in it really is the simple things that bring the most happiness, isn't it?!

See my handiwork? (I will not show you a close-up in an attempt to camouflage the crooked stitching and goofy looking corners! LOL!)

Our little home away from home...we'll see you on the mountain!