Category Archives: Family News

Chocolate-on-the-Face Mousse…Guaranteed to Please

chocolate-on-the-faceWhen our kids were little, we had a secret password. Whenever someone knocked on our bedroom door, Alan would call out, “What’s the password?” If the child answered, “Chocolate on the face,” Alan would tell them they could come in, on the theory that any kid with chocolate on his (or her) face probably belonged to us.enjoying-chocolate-mousse                     Now we’re on to our next generation of chocolate lovers! baby-eating-chocolate-mousseI know I should be passing along healthy recipes for  things that are super nutritious, but given that last Tuesday was Valentine’s Day and today is Alan and my 44th anniversary, I thought it might not be too off side to share my favorite recipe for chocolate mousse, which is actually fairly healthy as far as desserts go, not to mention so elegant that people think it’s difficult to make (although it’s not, at least not the way I do it), and so delicious that kids will definitely end up with chocolate on their faces!

creamy-chocolate-mousseChocolate-on-the-Face Mousse

Boil 1/4 cup white sugar in 1/2 cup water until sugar has dissolved into syrup

Add 18 oz. chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate, but dark works well too),
1 stick of butter
, and a pinch of salt. Heat and stir until completely melted and smooth. Remove from heat.

Beat 4 eggs (yes, I use the whites and the yolks) with an electric mixer until frothy, then add  1 cup heavy whipping cream and whip until soft peaks form.

Slowly add the hot chocolate syrup in a small stream to the whipped mixture, continuing to whip everything together until it’s of one gloriously frothy, consistent texture. Immediately spoon into individual serving dishes and chill thoroughly. You can garnish with more whipping cream and shaved chocolate or fruit, but it’s pretty yummy just by itself! Also, this can be divided into 6-8 servings, depending on how much room you think people will have for dessert.

Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.
(Psalm 145:16, speaking of God)

Merry Christmas!

alan-and-kathi-in-africaWill you forgive me for writing you a Christmas greeting online?summer-reunionI’ll try to make it relatively short and sweet (with lots of photos)!christmas-card-depicting-jesus-in-mangerI haven’t attempted sending Christmas cards for several yearschristmas-card-home-in-snowbut still love receiving cards, e-cards,refrigerator-full-of-photos-and-drawings and joyful photos and drawings—which go right up on our refrigerator.refrigerator-full-of-photos-and-drawings-2016Thank you to each dear person who has blessed our family in this way!tahquamenon-fallsAlan and I have had a memorably happy year
despite the fact that he’s working harder than ever.srping-bouquet-on-tableWe love living in Grand Rapids! eiffel-towerOf course, we also love touring with our kids, medical-meeting-in-hawaiimedical meetings in Hawaii,the-devils-pool-victoria-fallshanging out at the top of Victoria Falls, etc! mink-on-our-dockWe have no plans to retire any time soon, our-snowy-drivewayeven if does get pretty snowy around here, magnolia-blossomsand we’re acutely aware that every new day is a gift from God.couple-searching-for-christmas-treeConcerning Aaron’s family, Carlie pointed out off-to-school-oh-4-boysthat they are suddenly at a crucial new threshold with everyone out of diapers, speaking clearly and totally mobile. gingerbread-house-and-eager-eaters They’re having lots of fun adventures in California,canoe-trip-down-rogue-river although they’ve been very faithful about returning to visit, little-boy-in-canoeand we enjoyed a memorable canoe trip with them last fall. mike-and-grace-at-partnach-gorge-germanyMike’s family is living in Italy now, family-in-europewhere Christmas is foggy and neither white nor bright little-boy-with-ice-cream-cone-in-venice-italybut life is beautiful anyway.
family-playing-of-stand-up-paddleboard-supThey came home to visit us here at “Tanglewood Cottage” last summerfun-in-the-rvand then went on a U.P. road trip “in the RB” (aka/recreational vehicle)mackinac-island-waiting-for-the-ferry with “Papa and Nana.” playing-with-grand-son-at-the-big-boy-marquette-miSuper fun!three-sistersJon and Gerlinde welcomed their third daughter into their home last summer, riding-on-a-merry-go-roundand Nana and Grandpa (different families have different designations for us) beautiful-babywere able to visit during that most happy occasion! manito-park-spokane-waThey’ll be in Germany this Christmas with Gerlinde’s family. young-family-near-harbor-springs-miDaniel’s family lives here in GR, so we are blessed by getting to see thembaby-watching-youtube-dude-perfectnearly every week and watch while Samuel grows up right before our eyes.little-boy-walking-through-autumn-leavesWhat a special joy it is to have them living close by!
young-family-with-babyBrianna is expecting Baby #2 in April. I can hardly wait!

guys-having-fun-togetherStephen is home for the holidays between semesters at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, where he is working on a PhD in music history. He also plays part-time at a local church.  Joel decided to drop his graduate studies to take a position as assistant editor with Kregel Publishers here in GR. I can’t tell you how much fun it’s been having him back at home! He adds a dimension to life that I’d forgotten how much I missed until he came home again. “The more the merrier” and the more the emotionally richer too, I think!hiking-along-dead-river-falls-mi     Life for me is happiest when lived in community with other loved ones.sunshine-on-river-abstract In fact, I can’t imagine anything better than graduating to heaven one day, where I will share a “mansion” (abiding place) with all those who have become God’s children by faith in Jesus. I am hoping and praying I’ll see you all there!  boy-playing-in-water-in-sunshine                 Meanwhile, Merry Christmas! May you have a splendid 2017!

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:1-3)

A Triply Blessed Thanksgiving

family-celebrating-grand-sons-birthdayDid you have a happy Thanksgiving Day? boy-with-a-balloonOurs was really special. basket-ball-birthday-cakeFor one thing, Thanksgiving Day
coincided with our grandson Samuel’s second birthday.
taking-a-selfieSamuel was a little micro-preemie born at 27.5 weeks with translucent skin and looking so fragile it was hard to imagine he could survive,
although by God’s grace he did, and look at him now! baby-dedication Last Sunday Dan and Brianna dedicated Samuel to the Lord.  blowing-out-birthday-candlesSunday was also Daniel’s thirty-first birthday,
so we’ve had one super happy week!little-boy-playing-with-a-balloonToday Sammy is a happy, healthy, bouncy little boy who is madly in love with all things ball! and lights up our lives with his laughter and joyful presence. birthday-celebrationLast night we joined Brianna’s family in celebrating Samuel’s second birthday. expectant-momI am so thankful for his life and health, and we’re delighted to be looking forward to Daniel and Brianna’s second baby, due to arrive next April!

family-funAlso, our son Stephen didn’t think he could make it home (from New York) because he was over his head with work. However, Wednesday night I heard his voice in the rainy twilight just about the time Alan was due to arrive home for dinner. WOW! What a treat to have him surprise us with a visit! child-stacking-blocksTonight, we’re having our GR kids over for a thanksgiving dinner of goose, and tomorrow we’re going to Plymouth to share in a Thanksgiving dinner with my daughter Kathy’s family, so this Thanksgiving seems like a celebration of firecrackers going off pop, pop, pop! children-playing-with-balloonsNot long ago, someone mentioned to me feeling like a failure because they didn’t feel very loved.mother-and-sonIt occurred to me that success isn’t in being loved, it’s in loving others. God doesn’t say “Be loved,” He says, “Love” and defines success as loving God with all our hearts and loving our neighbors. couple-enjoying-autumnGod is the source of all genuine love, and as C.S. Lewis wrote in The Four Loves: “When we see the face of God we shall know that we have always known it. He has been a party to, has made, sustained, and moved moment by moment within, all our earthly experiences of innocent love. All that was true love in them was, even on earth, far more His than ours, and ours only because [it was] His.” child-opening-birthday-presentsThank you, Father, for loving us. Help us to experience your love for us, be overwhelmed by love, and able to love others as a result.  stacking-blocksMy prayer for you is what Paul asked for the Ephesians: “That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”

Grilled Veggies

grilling-veggiesBefore it gets too cold for grilling, I want to put in a plug for throwing some veggies on your grill along with any meat you might be planning for dinner.roasted-corn-in-husksThe first veggie I started routinely grilling was corn on the cob,
which is nicely insulated by the husks corn-roasted-and-peeling-cornso it retains excellent moisture, color, and flavor.

grilling-zucchini-and-egg-plantThis summer I’ve gotten more and more adventuresome, however, and now I grill eggplant, potatoes, zucchini, summer squash, carrots portobello mushrooms, onions (only turn once), asparagus, Brussels sprouts…you name it! If it can be sliced into pieces too large to fall between the grate (keep asparagus cross-wise) and won’t disintegrate (green tomatoes work, but not the mouth-watering, juicy red ones), they turn out great!summer-squash-on-grill I usually dress the veggies with a little flavored olive oil or Italian dressing and sprinkle some spices on top, and so far we’ve been fans of everything, although Alan’s personal favorite is summer squash, which he says tastes sweet.bowl-of-grilled-veggies-and-potoatoesIf you try it, let me know what you think, and if you’ve found some other veggies that I haven’t thought of yet, please let me know, will you? My theory is that every extra vegetable is one less empty carb on our plates!   🙂

“God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us; Selah. That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations” (Psalm 67:1-2).

Asian Stir Fry (Stephen’s “Best Effort”)

asian-stir-fryMaking Asian cuisine is a true art form, and my son Stephen has mastered it way better than I have. In fact, his dishes rival any I’ve eaten at P.F. Chang’s or anywhere else. Much of the secret is in the sauce (which Stephen always makes from scratch), but if you don’t have several hours to prep, there are some excellent commercial sauces, and never underestimate the value of sesame oil and soy sauce in a pinch.

I’ve learned a lot from watching Stephen, and I notice that he: #1. Makes the sauce first (often marinating the meat in part of it for a few hours), #2 Chops all the veggies, #3. Starts the stir fry in a hot wok with sesame oil by cooking the meat until done. He totally removes the meat at that point and then #4. Begins stir-frying all the vegetables, starting with the most dense and gradually adding those that require less cooking to become tender, which is how his vegetables end up cooked to perfection and still colorful. Last of all, he #5. Adds the meat back in, just to reheat it, along with any seeds or nuts. This way everything is hot but has great texture.

You’ve probably been to Asian restaurants where you can pick your own meat, vegetables and nuts, and sauces. If you’ve not added any Asian dishes to your home cuisine yet, here are a few of the most commonly used options to get you started:

Meats: beef, chicken, pork, shrimp, tofu

Vegetables: pea pods, onions, garlic, carrots, green onions, mushrooms, peppers, bok choy, bean sprouts, broccoli, Chinese cabbage, string beans, asparagus,  miniature corn on the cobs, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts (last three found canned in Asian section of stores)

Nuts: cashews, almonds, peanuts, sesame seeds, poppy seeds

Spices: ginger root (peeled and sliced very thin), basil, lemongrass, garlic, cloves, tumeric, cinnamon, cilantro, hot chilies, cumin, coriander, curry 

Sauces: Hoisin, soy, plum, curry, peanut, brown, coconut, oyster, fish, etc.  (I buy prepared sauces from the store, although I sometimes add a can of coconut milk or a few tablespoons of peanut butter because I love the peanut and coconut taste points.)

The real joy in making stir-fries for yourself is that you can develop recipes from scratch that will often mimic your favorite restaurant meals for a fraction of the cost. Also, if you’re trying to lose (or maintain) weight, you can skip the rice or other starches without depriving yourself of fantastic flavor. And, once you’ve experimented for a while, you might get to the point where you actually prefer your own cooking! I’m not that good yet when it comes to Asian cuisine, but I’d take Stephen’s “best effort” (so named from an old family joke) over P.F. Chang’s any day!  (Ya, but what about the Great Wall of Chocolate???  Well…I’m on a diet!)

All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast. Better is little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble therewith” Proverbs 15:15-16).

Bend Over Peaches and Bend Over Friendships

Riding the Fruit Loop ExpressHave you ever eaten “bend over” peaches?Peaches on peach tree I don’t even know what their real name is or what variety they are,Green Bluff WA but while visiting Jon and Linda in Spokane, Washington,Waiting for the Fruit Loop Express. Green Bluff WAwe went to Beck’s Harvest House in Green Bluff to pick peaches, Country Store at Beck's Harvest Houseand the guide told us they had Red Havens, White Havens, Country Market at Beck's Harvest Houseand “bend over” peaches. PIcking PeachesWe ended up getting a mix of all three types.Little Girl helping make peach piesThe Red Havens and White Havens make perfect pies, but for sheer yumminessMaking pies with Grandmaif you’re going to eat them fresh, my vote goes to the bend over peaches.

Peaches in sunshineBend over peaches are the sweetest and best. They melt in your mouth and can only be eaten outside or over a sink, because the juice runs down your arms, and if you don’t bend over, your clothes inevitably get stained!

Girl blowing dandelion seedsSince coming home, I’ve been thinking about
how our sweetest and best relationships also require bending over. Family hugsWe reach out, but we also need to bend over…sometimes backward.
(Jon and Gerlinde’s family really bent over backwards to make us feel loved!)Grandpa blowing on dandelionIn order to truly express love to others, we meet them where they are, and almost none of us are exactly the same height—physically or spiritually! Right? Girl blowing dandelionTo know someone well, it takes the exercise of all our senses
(physically and spiritually) to engage with them:  Little girl looking at rosesTo see them clearly, Children loving their new baby sisterto express love through touch, Playing with baby's toes to hear them and have fun with them, Lady smelling rosesto experience their fragrance, Empathyand empathize with their pains…Little girl feeding sheepand that usually includes bending over to get closer! Mother helping daughter with readingI wonder how many times I’ve failed to bend over backward
to express love in my friendships. Playing in peas at Beck's Harvest HouseI wonder how many times I’ve gotten “stained” because I didn’t even understand that I should bend, or because I was too proud or inflexible to be willing to bend.Little girl playing in dried peas I wonder how much I miss of the Lord by not humbly reveling in his goodness, bending my heart to Him and my will to His. He is the best and sweetest friend!Little girl at drinking fountain “O taste and see that the Lord is good:
blessed is the man that trusteth in him” (Psalm 34:8).

Introducing our Newest Little Miracle from Heaven: Marie

Grandma holds MarieWednesday, I wrote about Miracles from Heaven, but I believe there are miracles happening around us every day if we just stop to think about it. One of those miracles is our fifteenth grandchild, who made her appearance early this month, and this morning I wanted to share just a little bit about her.

Riding the Merry-Go-Round in Spokane WAMarie made her appearance later than anticipated, so I’d already arrived at Jon and Linda’s home, giving me some very special bonding time with their two girls. Making peach pieWe’d taken a motor home trip with them last summer, so Biggest Sister was already excited to see me, but it took Almost Big Sister a bit of time to take me in. Choosing items from a menuFunny how positive you can feel about being accepted as an appropriate mother substitute when it comes time for bathroom toiletries, isn’t it?!  🙂Meeting Baby SisterAt any rate, we had a wonderful time anticipating the arrival,
and meeting little Marie was such a blessing and joy! Newborn sleepingShe’s as pretty as a picture and as sweet as sugar. In the parking lotJonathan brought us over for a first precious visit at the hospital,
and since it was the day before Mama and Marie could really come home, Choosing Donuts with Dadhe then sponsored a birth day party for us, complete with donuts,Birthday Donut one with a candle on top! Watching Doctor check babyWhat a miracle each new child is, don’t you think? Holding Baby sisterWe could never create a baby, and yet, without even knowing how,
babies grow within the womb and come to birth.Back to Sleep It never ceases to amaze me and fill my heart with joy. Life is such a gift! Daddy's girlsWith every child, I think God is saying, “I love you! I love this child.”Taking turns holding new baby“Love this child with me, will you?” Praise God for children!Mother and Newborn BabyLo, children are an heritage of the Lord:
and the fruit of the womb is his reward
” (Psalm 127:3).