Wednesday, September 28, 2016

What's for Dinner?

So, this is just to kind of keep track of a new recipe I tried/adapted and want to keep handy for another time!

I am not ashamed to admit that

I love my slow cooker! 

So, any time I find something super easy and delicious for my slow cooker, I am going to write it down.  And when the whole fam eats it without complaint, it is definitely a keeper. 

This is a version of Rice and Beans which will offend purists, but which is delicious nonetheless.  If it offends you too much, you could think of a new title for it and just put it in a different category in your head!

The original recipe is here: Ranchers Beans

And here is my adaptation, made according to what I had in the house last night:

1 pound lean ground beef (preferably already browned and waiting in the freezer!)

1/2 pound spicy pork sausage (I used chorizo. Could be browned with the ground beef and fresh onion and garlic if you have more time.)

1/2 Tbsp. onion powder

1 Tbsp. chopped garlic

1 large can (30 oz.) pinto beans, rinsed and drained

1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes

1/2 cup ketchup

1/2 cup barbecue sauce

2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. chili powder

Put all ingredients in slow cooker and cook on high for 1 hour, then switch to low for 3 hours.  (I actually cooked it on high for 4 hours but that was because I am paranoid about the chorizo getting cooked and then I was out of the house.)

Serve over rice.

A note on rice: I love the Fit & Active instant brown rice from Aldi.  It's got the healthy aspects of brown rice without the long cook time.  Win - win.

I do not by any means set myself up as a slow cooker expert.  I break the "rules" all the time.  But I think that's one of the best things about slow cookers: they don't care about rules.  They are rebels.  Rebels with a cause: delicious, easy dinners.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Books: 2016: Update

In January of this year, I gathered ten books and set a goal to read all ten before year's end. 


Here we are, half way through the year already, so how far have I gotten?

A Praying Life by Paul Miller was a little bit of a cheat because I had begun it months before the start of my reading challenge, but I did finish it!  So cross off one!

Meanwhile, I read the first two books of Game of Thrones and got stuck half-way through the third.  It got more and more gruesome and I have a weak stomach.  I don't think I'll be watching the mini-series for that reason - it's one thing to read about it, another thing to see it! - although I am interested to watch a little bit and see how the makers imagined the characters and their world.  Anyway, cross off another!

I read A Chance to Die by Elisabeth Elliot.  It is the story of Amy Carmichael, missionary to India, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!  Amy was wonderful, but still human; an amazing example of a life given over to the Lord's will, not without struggle both physically and spiritually, but truly surrendered to Him.  I am generally not a fan of Elisabeth Elliot (*shock*gasp*) but this was a lovely read: challenging, encouraging, uplifting, inspiring.  Cross off number three!

Just today, I finished reading 7 Women and the Secret of Their Greatness by Eric Metaxas.  It contains brief biographies of seven women (hence the title!), putting them into historical context and illuminating the incredible impact each one had on her time and on ours, and how her faith impacted her actions and attitudes. Most are well-known: Joan of Arc, Susanna Wesley, Corrie Ten Boom, Rosa Parks, and Mother Teresa.  Hannah More I had heard of but knew almost nothing about, and Saint Maria of Paris was completely unknown to me before this.  Each biography is well-crafted and enjoyable.  I am certain there is much more to know about each of these women, but Metaxas has managed to give us a fair glimpse into the life and faith of each of these remarkable women.  He ends his Acknowledgements page with Soli Deo Gloria and I think that is how these women would want it.  Cross off number four!

And that is the list so far!

Four down and six to go!

To be fair, I have taken detours into a few other books, including Thrones and Dominations by Dorothy Sayers and Jill Paton Walsh - a fast and very enjoyable read! - which picks up where Busman's Honeymoon left off, with Lord Peter Wimsey and his wife, Harriet Vane, moving into their newly renovated London home, and, of course, getting mixed up in a murder investigation.  

Any others have been unremarkable enough that I can't think of them at the moment. 

I have started Far from the Madding Crowd and hope to make more progress when I need a break from packing up Will for college, and hunting and gathering school supplies for everyone else!

So, that's me.  What have you been reading?  Share in the comments below!









Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Colorado Trip, part 3: Family Reunion

Finally, we got the the main purpose of our trip out west: the Copeland Family Reunion.

This reunion included the descendants of my great-grandparents, Bernard and Margaret Copeland. Bernard and Margaret raised six children on a bustling farm in Idana, Kansas.  From Bernard and Margaret has grown a mighty crowd!  I don't remember how many there are at the moment - children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren - but as you'll see from the photo at the bottom, there are a lot, and that wasn't even all of them!  

(Dad?  What's the number?  Dad is our family historian!)


We had a number of family photos and artifacts on display, including Grandma Margaret's wedding dress, which she stitched herself.  Beautiful, amazing work!


We had a number of activities available each day, including hiking.  (This was Colorado, after all.)  Someone found a family-friendly hike - small beans compared to what John and Will did later in the summer!  

The picture above is a favorite of mine - Will helping Evie to navigate the path when she was tired of riding on his back.



One evening, Dad gave a presentation about our family's history - what an amazing feeling to know so much about where we're from, to have roots in such a rootless world!

I don't mean to say, of course, that we find our worth or any ultimate value out of knowing who our great-great grandfather was and where he lived!  But it is good to know where we came from, and makes us appreciate God's working throughout many generations to bring us to our current place in the world. 


A couple of nights, we had talent shows - we're a talented bunch! - and here, Katie and Sean were singing some American folk songs such as Grandpa Bernard and Grandma Margaret may have known.  Always lovely to get to hear them sing!


This is one of Dad's first cousins, Kathy, thanking another first cousin, Beth, for all she did to bring about this family reunion.  Beth did a TON of work and really made it happen.  Thanks, Beth!


Here's the whole gang.  We are divided by family groups, each color representing one of the original siblings.  Our branch - Wilbur's descendants - are in red.  

It was a wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime moment and we are so thankful we could be there! 

From there, we headed back to Pennsylvania and a week at family camp.  That trip back east was longer than usual because the a/c went out on the van we were borrowing.  Kansas in July can be...a tad warm.  Scorching, in fact.  John kept checking his phone - 98* one place, 101* the next, cooling off to 99* in the next place.  Thankfully, the kids were too wilted (and dehydrated?) to complain!

But we made it.  And the family that swelters together, stays together.  

That's a saying, right?

Well, whatever.  We made it and now we have war-stories to tell and that certainly counts for something.

We are thankful for safety all the way there and back, for family near and far, and for a Godly heritage.  God is good.

Colorado, part 2

I'm not even going to bother apologizing for not writing since September!  What else do you expect from me by now?!

I'm just going to pick up where I left off...in Colorado.

The day after we went to Hanging Rock, we went to the Royal Gorge.


Many of us walked across the bridge, facing a deep-seated and life-long fear of heights.  This wasn't made any better by the fact that if you looked down, you could see between boards, down the dizzying distance to the river below!

Will decided to face his fear and just go.  Sam dealt with his fear the way he deals with most of life, by talking all the way.  My dad - who has long wanted to walk across this bridge - took his time and enjoyed it all, placing his trust in engineering.  And figuring that if the bridge had held up all this time, the odds were in our favor for it lasting through our visit.


It did.

These two crazy kids took a zip-line across the gorge!  Nothing but a canvas sling between them and a thousand foot plunge!  

(That number is merely symbolic.  I don't remember how far down it really is.)


When we were all back on the visitor's center side of the gorge, we took this family photo.

Don't we look gorge-ous?

You didn't think I could resist THAT, did you?


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Colorado Trip, part 1

This summer, we took a trip to Colorado for a big Copeland family reunion.

Before meeting up with the larger Copeland clan, we met my parents and siblings and their families for a couple of days of sightseeing and hanging out.

The day we were in Colorado Springs was rather disappointing as the mountains were completely obscured by fog!

Standing in front of our hotel, Mom pointed up and said, "Pike's Peak is right there!" But all we could see was a wall of gray!


We headed to Garden of the Gods anyway to see what we could see.  It is less impressive without the mountains for backdrop!


We visited Hanging Rock which did not require a long-distance view.


Here are my kids with their cousins, one of whom was very amused by pretending to fall backwards off the rocks.



We had fun climbing the rocks and pretending to hold up the Hanging Rock.

Mostly because we were all together, and that's fun even without a gorgeous mountain view!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Sierra Nevadas

Some of you know that John and Will went on a backpacking trip to the Sierra Nevadas a few weeks ago.  It was, apparently, one of the hardest and most exhilarating experiences of their lives.



I can't provide much detail on exactly where any of this is and John and Will are both gone at the moment, but you can just admire the beautiful scenery.




The sun can be pretty intense, especially for a couple of pasty white boys.


God's amazing creation!

They came home with many stories, of both fun and pain.  And at the very least, they could say they had done it, they had endured, and survived.

I, for one, am very thankful for the survival part! I tried not to, but couldn't help imagining all the things that could go wrong on a trip like this with precipitous heights and crumbling mountain faces.  But the Lord kept them safe and brought them home!

As for whether or not they'll ever go again, Will says a definite, "No!"  John knows that Micah will want to go in a year or two so he hasn't said absolutely not, but perhaps it's too soon to contemplate going again!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

September

Hello again!

I was thinking the other day about why my blog lies abandoned for such long periods of time.  It certainly is not because we're not doing anything!  I identified a couple of common reasons, though:

1.  I am too lazy to download the pictures on my camera and who wants to hear about something fun we've done without a few pictures?

2.  We're busy but we're not doing anything that is really "blog-worthy" - whatever that means.

3.  At the end of a long day when I finally have a minute to sit down, the last thing I want to do is to craft an entertaining/amusing/thought-provoking/inspiring/whatever post.  I use up a lot of words in a day and even I run out of words at some point!  I don't need the pressure of that demanding little cursor blinking at me from the top of an empty page!

And so I don't write.

And then pretty soon I look and see that it has been four months since I last posted.

I know it's not like anything seriously depends on my writing my blog, but I like to think that it helps us to stay in touch with those we love, plus it lets me flex my writing muscles!  And since I don't scrapbook anymore, this is a good place to keep track of the kids as they grow.  

Grow up. And up. And up.  And then leave me!  Alone and desolate!  

I may be having the mommy version of senioritis.  My baby, my first baby, the most beautiful baby in the world (declared so by my grandmother and she would know), is a senior in high school!


Almost as hard to believe: Micah is in 10th, Johanna is in 8th, and Sam is in 4th.

***
I wrote all that several days ago.  As so often happens, I start in on something and then get called away by one thing or another and there it sits, abandoned, waiting for my return!

Well, I'm going to post this before I get called away again!

The above picture is from the first day of school.  Amazing how relaxed and even happy they were this time - so different from two years ago!  Praise the Lord!

And just to be sure Miss Evie doesn't get left out...