Christmas recipes from the farm…

I often get asked if Canada is very different from the US or Colorado where I grew up.

This can be a loaded question depending on who wants to know right! There are so many subtle differences that I have grown to understand and love over the years. One of the interesting differences are the church pot lucks or evening events.

Now I know many of you are from the city, maybe you attend a church that hasn’t had a “pot luck” in about a hundred years! But out here in the “field” the “pot luck” is alive and well and I would say at our church exceptionally well. I love that about here. Some would say its old school but really its community, its love. Whether it’s a wedding shower, graduation or just the usual goodies after church for “lunch” its good. It characterizes our church and many in our denomination across the country.

This recipe is SO Canadian and I thought I would pass it along as you would find this at any decent church pot luck, band concert, graduation, wedding… Well you get the point!

This particular recipe is from the Farmer’s grandmother. She always made them at Christmas time and even sent them to Ecuador one year when the family gathered there. What did I tell you, Canadians are passionate about these little “squares” as they so fondly referrer to them!

So from our family to yours maybe you just might want to have a little ethnic food on the table at your next Christmas party! And a couple more favorites for a family night or party!

Virginia’s Heavenly Nanaimo Bars

Bottom Layer

Butter or Margarine ½ c.
Sugar ½ C.
Cocoa 10 Tbsp.
Eggs, beaten 2
Graham Cracker Crumbs 3 ½ C.
Fine coconut 1 ½ C.
Chopped Walnuts 1 C.

Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler or heavy saucepan. Add beaten egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut and nuts. Press firmly into ungreased 9×13 pan.

Second Layer

Butter or Margarine 1 C.
Cream 6 Tbsp.
Vanilla Custard Powder (Bird’s eye) 4 Tbsp.
Icing sugar 4 C.

Cream butter, milk, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light in color and fluffy. Spread over bottom layer.

Third Layer

Semisweet chocolate chips 1 1/3C. OR 8 square’s semi-sweet chocolate
Butter or Margarine 4 Tbsp.

Melt chips or Chocolate squares and butter over low heat. Cool. When cool but still runny, spread over second layer.

Chill in the fridge. Store in the fridge or cut into squares and freeze.

Pecan Crusted Artichoke and cheese dip
Thank you Christina (My college friend and great cook! For this AMAZING recipe)

4 Tbsp butter divided
1 med. Onion finely chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
1- 10 oz pkg frozen chopped spinach, well drained
1- 13 3/4 oz can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1- 8oz package cream cheese softened cut into ½” cubes
½ cup hellmans real mayo
¾ cup sargento or whatever shredded Parmesan cheese
2 cups 4 cheese country casserole blend I just use whatever blend I can find in the already shredded bags.

2/3 cup chopped pecans
½ cup herb seasoning bag stuffing

Melt 3 Tbsp butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook three min. Add spinach and cook 3 min. Stirring frequently. Remove from heat, add artichoke hearts and next four ingredients to spinach mixture, stir until well blended. Transfer to a greased 1 ½ qt. Casserole. (I use a nice bowl even but it has to be oven proof.) Melt remaining 1 Tbsp butter in small skillet add pecans and stuffing and toss until blended and browned a bit. Set aside. Bake cheese mixture at 350 for 20 min stir. Top with pecan mixture and bake for 15 more min or until just browned. Serve with French bread, crackers, veggies or whatever is yummy! ☺

Grammy Jenell’s lemon loaf

1/3 c melted shortening
1 c. white sugar
2 eggs

Sift and add:
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

1/2 c. milk
1 Tbsp. lemon peel
1Tbsp. lemon juice (my addition)

3Tbsp poppy seeds (I had a bunch to use up! this is optional)

Bake in a slow oven 325 degrees for 70 minutes. Then take 3 tablespoons lemon juice and 1/4 c. sugar. Mix and spread over the loaf and let set for 10 minutes before taking out of pan. (I poke holes into the top of the loaf with a toothpick)

For an added Christmas flare I added a bag of fresh cranberries. It looks SO pretty when its baked up. Good enough to give as a special Christmas gift.

I wish I could give each of you one to enjoy with your friends and family they are just so pretty all packaged up!

One more favorite this season…. A friend got me onto Davidstea. It is a fun shop where you can pause for a moment to smell, taste and be transported to fireside cups of tea with your favorite people! The girls and I recently had a fun half hour and came away with Sleigh Ride! What a beautiful, naturally sweet Christmas tea. If you come across some your day may just be a little more merrier!


Merry Christmas,



The “Main Things”

Today at my church’s mom’s group, we had one of our pastors give us a pep talk and boy let me tell you, God had the message on an arrow straight to my heart!  His theme was, focusing on the main things.  As a mother of young ones, sometimes I feel like I’m always a day late and a dollar short in the cleaning, meal preparing, busy work tasks of making a home.  I have been feeling really defeated lately, frustrated at why can’t I get it all done, just sort of grumpy about it all most of the time.  But God had encouragement for me in Pastor C’s message today and it was this, “by whose standards are you living? By what expectations are you measuring your “success” as a homemaker?”  My pastor reminded us that God clearly lays out some priorities for us in scripture and here are the top two: Loving Him, Loving others as ourselves (Husband first, then children, then the family of God, then those who are lost).  Nowhere in this list do we find “Martha Stewart house pristinely clean at all times” or “perfectly fit body outfitted in the latest clothes and hairstyle”.  Those priorities come from our culture, not from Him.  And yet it hit me this morning as I was listening to the message, these are things that most often have me feeling inadequate and defeated.  I tell my children, “just a minute” about 100 times a day as I scurry around to clean a house that never gets fully clean.  It’s like shoveling snow while it’s still snowing!  Pastor C assured us that this doesn’t mean we neglect the tasks of cleaning and taking care of ourselves, what it means is that we don’t push the more important things aside to accomplish them.  He also encouraged us in the way we greet our husbands when they come home.  He asked us if we barrage our men with complaints about how hard the day was and all we didn’t get done and need help with or if we focus on loving and welcoming him home first and simply asking for help instead of playing the poor me card to earn his sympathy.  Ouch!  Boy do I do this more than I’d like to admit.  As I was thinking about it today, it’s like I feel the need to paint a sad story of my day in order to excuse the fact that I didn’t get everything done according to MY list.  When really, Travis knows what I’m facing, he knows that we are in a weary season of our lives and that I can’t be super woman.  But I think what it is is that I WANT to be, so badly!  My own desire to be perfect at everything puts me in a grouchy, complaining, defeated mood and it’s just sin, plain and simple.  When I am focusing on the “main” things, as pastor C put it, those other things will be seen with the right perspective.

Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”

My children won’t remember how clean the house was or wasn’t, but they will remember the time I spend with them, doing things together, laughing, enjoying them, reading the Word together and praying.  But if I’m not careful they will also remember a mama who’s constantly stressing about all she has to accomplish and how she made them feel like they were always in the way of those accomplishments.  So what’s the balance?  Well, here’s a list of what I think homemaking is and isn’t.  I don’t claim to have it all figured out, but these are what ring true at the moment:

  1. Homemaking IS creating a place of refuge and peace for our families, which I think includes a certain level of cleanliness and organization.  Homemaking IS NOT, a perfectly clean and organized home at all times at the expense of lost quality time with the very family we are trying to create a refuge for.
  2. Homemaking IS living by right priorities with our time and energy, which can mean limiting or eliminating those things that threaten to take the tops spots.  Homemaking IS NOT holding ourselves to impossible standards or comparing ourselves to other moms who are gifted differently.
  3. Homemaking IS filling up our tanks with time with Jesus and His Word, praying throughout the day for His strength and perspective which will overflow into our families.  Homemaking IS NOT trying to do it on our own strength.  Our standards and priorities never work like His do and we can do nothing well on an empty tank.
  4. Homemaking IS preparing healthy, tasty food for our families.  Homemaking IS NOT nightly gourmet meals.  Gourmet chefery never makes an appearance on God’s priority list, only on the food network’s.
  5. Homemaking IS refueling ourselves with retreats of rest and joyful activities (the most important being time with the Lord).  Homemaking IS NOT feeling entitled to selfish pursuits or allowing ourselves to be completely derailed by laziness and selfish hobbies.
  6.  Homemaking IS having a plan.  Homemaking IS NOT feeling completely defeated when daily life doesn’t go according to it.  God’s plans are always better than ours, even when they make us feel uncomfortable.
  7. Homemaking IS including the whole family in cleaning and the work that needs to be done, expecting that perfection will not happen, but pride in contributing will.  Homemaking IS NOT feeling like you have to do it all without asking for help.  Everyone can do something , don’t play the poor martyr by doing it all.
  8. Homemaking IS practicing hospitality.  Homemaking IS NOT needing a clean home before you do it.  Be a Mary and not a Martha as the saying goes.

What is God teaching you about focusing on the “main things”?  What things would you add to this list?  Sisters, we need each other!  Not the perfect façade we may want others to see, but the real us that knows fancy words and appearances will never get us to the good stuff of true sisterhood.

A Cup of Cold Water

Image courtesy of


What does it mean to receive a Cup of Cold Water? Scripture says you will not miss out on a thing. It was a beautiful summer evening when my girls and I unexpectedly “dropped by” the home of a young mom we hadn’t seen in a long time. As the door opened there she was with her huge smile beckoning us to come in exclaiming her joy that we “dropped by”. We engaged in a half hour of catching up, exchanging photos and laughter. Tears were shed when we left. Our cups were full.….as we were greeted and received into her home.
On our drive home the girls and I reminisced….her little boy ran around the house without a diaper, her house was in a bit of disarray, she even offered us a hotdog to eat . It was so freeing to be in a non-perfect atmosphere! It was a touching and warm visit. We realized we received such a blessing through the words that were exchanged. “Dropping in” filled our cups….let your cup be filled this week……”drop in” on someone you have been thinking about.

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