Tuesday, November 29, 2011


It's recipe week here at Living Day By Day In God's Grace. Rather appropriate since I started my Christmas baking this week. Over the next few weeks I'll be sharing some simple recipes for sweet Christmas treats. I thought I'd start out with one that brings back memories from my childhood.

Snowballs were always fun to make as a kid because I could take a meal time staple that I wasn't particularly fond of...a potato...and turn it into a sweet, chocolaty candy treat. A little weird, I know but easy to do!

I have a vivid teenage memory of formulating a plan to snag one (or more) of these out of the cupboard while my mom was out the room. I went into stealth mode. Silently I carried the chair over to the fridge, balanced precariously on it and extended my reach with the help of a ruler. I patiently maneuvered the snowball container closer to the edge of the shelf and finally met with success as I was able to tip it over the edge and catch it with my free hand.

The taste of dark chocolate was mine. My mouth watered. I pulled off the lid and let out a shriek of alarm! Mom came running in to find me staring in dismay into the depths of the container. The entire contents was overtaken by a furry blue and black mass of mold!  Eeewwww! So much for stealth mode!

I speak from experience when I tell you to store these in the fridge!


Icing sugar
Semi sweet baker's chocolate
Coconut and/or sprinkles and/or chopped nuts

Boil one medium potato and mash it - don't add milk or butter - just mash the potato
Use a mixer to beat in 1 cup icing sugar
Add 2 tsp. vanilla
Beat in enough icing sugar (1/2 cup at a time) to make a soft dough
Roll a bit of dough between your palms to shape into balls and place these on wax paper.
Let them set for two or three hours.
Melt semi sweet baker's chocolate.
Place rolled snowball on fork held over the chocolate pot.
Spoon chocolate over snowball, then use a knife to slide the snowball onto the waxed paper.
Sprinkle with the topping of your choice.

Hints and tips:
I used a potato that was about 3 1/2 inches (9 cm) long and 3 inches (7.5) cm wide
It took 5 1/4 cups of icing sugar to work up the soft dough
I used 8 squares of chocolate
I got 62 snowballs from this mixture

I hope to do further experimentation later in the week with cherry flavoured fillings and mint flavoured fillings and will post updates on how these work out.

Post your Christmas childhood memories by clicking "comments" below.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Avoid Life - Be Busy

A few weeks ago I shared some of my thoughts on busyness. It prevents us from spending time with God, breaks down our relationships and hinders our spiritual growth.

If we know this is a side effect of leading hectic lives, why do we do it? Why can’t we say no? Why do we schedule every minute of our work week and every minute of our weekend so we hardly have time to eat, sleep and breathe, let alone rest, relax and rejuvenate?

Busyness becomes an excuse. We use it as an avoidance tactic. We hide behind busyness so we don’t have to face truth or circumstances in our lives that make us uncomfortable. Perhaps as a short term coping mechanism busyness is effective. But if it’s used on a long term basis it becomes damaging.

If we’re too busy we don’t give ourselves time we need to reflect on problems in our lives. We don’t have time to address outstanding issues and to heal our emotional or psychological wounds.

I think women are masters at using busyness as a tool.  Here are a few examples you might recognize:
  • After a separation a women intentionally schedules all her free time so she doesn’t have to think about her broken relationship.
  • A single woman pours herself into work and fitness so she doesn’t feel the empty, loneliness of the house around her.
  • Someone else spends evenings and weekends with friends and takes night courses to avoid giving in to self-damaging behaviour when she’s home by herself.
  • A single mom becomes a “super volunteer” with parent/teacher associations and school functions to fill the void of losing her husband.
  • When her youngest child moves out of the house a mother spends all her free time volunteering for the church so she doesn’t hear the silence of the “empty nest”.
This fall I had an unusually busy travel schedule for work. While I didn’t intentionally plan it, the busyness allowed me to avoid thinking about my step-mother’s breast cancer diagnosis.  As long as work consumed my time I didn’t think about the inevitable chemotherapy treatments. I lost my mother to cancer when I was fifteen and I remember how the chemo affected her.  The thought of my step-mother going through that absolutely horrified me.

Sooner or later we all have to slow down and deal with reality. It’s not healthy to stay too busy. It’s not healthy to run away or pretend our problems don’t exist. The only way to deal with them is to face them, admit we have no control over the situation and ask for help if we need it.

Sometimes this means getting professional coaching or counseling. It could be as simple as taking some quiet time to work things through in your own mind. Perhaps it’s something we haven’t taken to God in prayer. We need to pour out our worries to Him and spend time in silent reflection listening to the Holy Spirit whispering to us while we feel God’s peace wrap around us, soothing and warm as an electric blanket.

None of these things are possible if we persist as hamsters on the wheel of life. Are you busy today because you’re avoiding a circumstance in your life? Do you need to make time in your schedule for quiet reflection? Is it time to take steps to resolve the problem once and for all? Don’t wait any longer, start today.

Share your thoughts by clicking on "comments" below.

Friday, November 11, 2011


What does Remembrance Day mean to you? For me it’s a time of reflection, of struggling to understand the world’s history of war and conflict, of grappling to reconcile the loss of life going on every day with the peaceful, free world I step into every morning.

How do you remember? How do we remember and honour a life changing event that started 97 years ago; a time when most of us weren’t even alive?

I’ll be honest. I wrestle with the idea of war. I’m the stereotypical “Pollyanna”. If “why can’t we all just get along” was a motto it would be airbrushed in bold Arial font on my forehead! I hate conflict. I don’t understand war. And I hate the thought of people dying in the cold dark night, alone in knee deep mud with the sounds of heavy artillery booming next to them while bombs fall like rain from the sky!

On the other hand I’m deeply grateful to live in Canada.
Canada - a country where our children can play in the streets free from the threat of suicide bombers.
Canada - a country that is ruled by democracy and freedom of speech.
Canada - a country that doesn’t live under the regime of threats, terror and tyranny.
Canada – a country with religious and cultural freedom.

Would this Canada be possible today without the battles that took place in World War I and World War II and the ongoing battles in the Middle East? Can those of us who enjoy our freedom simply sit back and declare the loss of life justifiable? Or do we live with an inner tension, the dissonance of knowledge; the knowledge that our country is free today because other people gave their lives for that freedom?

Recently I’ve been listening to a summary of the life of Sir Winston Churchill. Here was a man who lived to see both World Wars and played a very active leadership role in each. Churchill understood the danger of apathy. His set of moral values simply would not allow him to stand back and watch while citizens in other countries lived under the grips of tyranny. He understood tyranny is about power and needs to be stopped. For this understanding he was quite frequently labeled a “war monger” – someone who loved war, but in fact Churchill seemed to viscerally grasp the fact that if tyranny isn’t stopped all of humanity suffers.

So we live in freedom and war rages on; struggles and conflicts within ourselves and battles in countries an ocean away. Freedom is not to be taken lightly. It comes at a high price – the lives of our brave men and women, the peace of mind of their families, the minds of the soldiers who return doomed to wrestle with nightmares and post traumatic stress for the rest of their lives.

These men and women believe freedom is worth the price. Let’s not take their sacrifices for granted.

Lest We Forget

Visit Terry Kelly’s Youtube link, “A Pittance of Time”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kX_3y3u5Uo

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pumpkin Cookies With Brown Sugar Candy Icing

Scott's Parable Christian Bookstore in Red Deer makes the BEST pumpkin cookies with brown sugar, caramel icing on them. It's a perfect rest stop during the drive back and forth between Edmonton and Calgary. A drive I've been doing about once a month. 

Red Deer lies smack dab at the half way point of the 3 1/2 hour drive. As you walk in you're greeted by the spicy aroma of freshly made cookies drifting suggestively from the small cafe in the back of the store. It's really hard to resist the temptation of a cookie (or two) and a cup of tea for the remainder of the drive.

After many samples (strictly for scientific taste analysis) I decided these tasty sensations should be reproducible in my own kitchen. The recipes that follow are the result of my Sunday afternoon experiment.

1/2 cup butter
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup mashed pumpkin (just the pumpkin puree, not the pie filling)
2 cups flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. ginger
1 cup chopped pecans

Cream butter and sugar together and beat in eggs. Mix in vanilla and pumpkin. Add the rest of the dry ingredients including the nuts and mix together well. Grease a cookie sheet and drop the dough by tablespoons onto the pan. Bake at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Once these are cooled mix up the icing. (Do not make the icing ahead of time as it hardens quickly)

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup butter
Mix these ingredients in a pot on the stove and bring to a bubbling boil. Stir constantly and boil for 2 1/2 minutes. Remove from stove, add 1 tsp. vanilla and 1 cup icing sugar. The icing will be runny at this point - this is normal.

Beat with a hand mixer until icing takes on a thicker spreading consistency (it will take a while, keep beating it). You can either dip the cookies into the icing or use a spoon to ice them. If the icing thickens too quickly add a little cream to it to thin it out again.

Hint: This icing is good as a caramel fudge, too. Double the recipe and pour the remainder into small pan. Cut into squares and...YUM!