Field Stone Cottage Blog

Friday, July 31, 2009

Rhubarb Walnut Muffins

Rhubarb season is winding down but I had enough to make these tasty muffins today. What a treat!

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped rhubarb
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Combine dry ingredients. In another bowl, thoroughly mix wet ingredients. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients mixing only until moistened. Fold in rhubarb and walnuts. Spoon into greased muffin tin.

Combine 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup chopped walnuts and 1 tsp. cinnamon for topping. Sprinkle over muffins. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 325 degrees. Makes 12 muffins.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Sky View

Emily and I were busy doing various tasks and hadn't been paying much attention to the weather before Charlie asked to go for a walk about 4:30 this afternoon. We walked about three blocks away from the cottage when we heard the lifeguards at the beach calling everyone out of the water because of a tornado watch. Turning to go home, we saw this view of the sky over the Little League field that's between the beach and the cottage.

I was reminded that shortly after we moved to Illinois 13 years ago, we decided that the panoramic views of the sky, especially before a storm, almost make up for the flat landscape that took some getting used to.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Late Afternoon Walk

Andy and Charlie and I took a walk late this afternoon and came upon this Great White Egret at the outlet to Crystal Lake. I guess he was fishing for his supper. Isn't he a handsome fellow?

Further info: I was about six to eight feet away from the egret and a chain link fence around the park separated us. The photo was obtained by putting the lens of my camera in the space between the "chain links" and using the telephoto.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday's Hymn: When I Survey The Wondrous Cross

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God:
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.

See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down:
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Isaac Watts, 1707, text of 1709
Tune: Hamburg L. M., Arr. from a Gregorian chant by Lowell Mason, 1824

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Fanny Crosby Biography

I recently finished reading Her Heart Can See: The Life and Hymns of Fanny J. Crosby written by Edith L. Blumhofer, a professor of history at Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL. I thoroughly enjoyed the book! Biographies and history are two of my favorite kinds of books to read and this was a combination of the best of them. The book is well-written and well-researched. It is as much a history of American Protestantism in the 19th century as it is a recounting of the life of American's most prolific hymn writer. Her Heart Can See portrays Fanny Crosby in a completely unsentimental manner and effectively places her in the context of her times and the influences on her thinking and her work. Ms. Blumhofer begins by exploring Fanny Crosby's Puritan background but, in the course of the book, the reader becomes familiar with the social, political and religious climate of the times and the changes it underwent over Ms. Crosby's long lifespan of almost 95 years. The reader is particularly introduced to the other major figures of Protestant evangelicalism who effected Fanny Crosby's work. In addition, the author develops an understanding of how her blindness influenced the life that Fanny Crosby led, especially because of the long period of time she spent at the New York Institution for the Blind, first as a student and later as a teacher.

Many of Fanny J. Crosby's hymns were written for use in revival meetings and the new (at the time) Sunday schools. They were intended to convey the gospel in song, a simple statement of the message of salvation in Jesus Christ and the joy experienced through it, to be sung to a "catchy" tune and thus more easily remembered. Some have been dismissive of her simple hymns and many of those hymns have been forgotten but many, maybe even many of the now forgotten ones, have achieved their purpose in bringing the gospel message to those to whom it was needed, even those to whom it was not new. As Edith Blumhofer says of Fanny J. Crosby, "She sang of faith in an age of doubt, and millions grasped for certainty by joining her song." In that sense, Fanny Crosby's hymns are as relevant and needed today as they were in her time.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sunday's Hymn: Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Wretched

Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity joined with pow'r:
He is able,
He is able,
He is able,
He is willing; doubt no more.

Come, ye needy, come and welcome,
God's free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Ev'ry grace that brings you nigh,
Without money,
Without money,
Without money,
Come to Jesus Christ and buy.

Come, ye weary, heavy laden,
Bruised and broken by the fall;
If you tarry till you're better,
You will never come at all:
Not the righteous,
Not the righteous,
Not the righteous,
Sinners Jesus came to call.

Let not conscience make you linger,
Nor of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness he requireth
Is to feel your need of him;
This he gives you,
This he gives you,
This he gives you;
'Tis the Spirit's rising beam.

Lo! th'incarnate God, ascended,
Pleads the merit of his blood;
Venture on him, venture wholly,
Let no other trust intrude:
None but Jesus,
None but Jesus,
None but Jesus
Can do helpless sinners good.

Joseph Hart, 1759, alt.
Tune: Caersalem, Robert Edwards, 1837

Friday, July 17, 2009

Just One More Stop

The last place that we promised ourselves we could visit on the way home from Oregon was just a little ways down the road from the Black Hills. In fact, its only about an hour. We'd sort of peeked at the Badlands the last time we came through South Dakota but this time we decided that we needed to have a really good look...and so we did! And it was well worth it!

The Badlands is an area of arid prairie land where the soil is composed largely of clay with massive sedimentary rock formations which are exposed because of excessive amounts of erosion over time. That sounds so scientific and really doesn't prepare a person for the surrealistic look of the landscape. Sometimes it made me think of moonscapes, sometimes sand castles, and sometimes ruins of some ancient civilization.

Dogs are not allowed to walk on the landscape or even the trails there...only on the pavement. That's in part because of the fragile ground. But Charlie was still able to enjoy the scenery from the window!
The other reason dogs are not allowed off the pavement in the Badlands is because the wildlife, especially the bighorn sheep, are spooked by them. We'd never seen bighorn sheep this close up before!
There was also buffalo and antelope in the Badlands, just like in the Black Hills, but I've shown you them before. The other animal that is particularly prevalent in the Badlands is prairie dogs. In fact, there is a prairie dog city there!

Many wildflowers dot the prairie grasses of the Badlands but I never expected to see cactus there! Actual, spiny, prickly cactus! And it was even in bloom!

We used up every bit of extra time we had for the trip home in the Badlands and there was still more we could have explored. Next time. Or maybe we'll have to make it a destination of its own. What awesome aspects of God's creation we were treated to there!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

On the Way Home

There were two places we wanted to visit on our way home from Oregon. The first was the Black Hills area of South Dakota. We've visited there before but find that area so interesting that we couldn't resist seeing it again. The problem with the Black Hills is that there is so much to see! It could easily be the focus of a week's vacation! So we narrowed it down and spent several hours seeing our favorite parts.

The Black Hills is an area of majestic rocky mountain peaks with lots of trees separated from the actual Rocky Mountains and surrounded by grassy plains. Here's an overview sort of picture to give you a general idea of the area.
First, we set off for Needles Highway which is named for this particular rock formation.
But there are many other interesting views to be had.

And of course, there is this sight to behold.
Then we visited Custer State Park which is largely a wildlife refuge. This antelope was most cooperative in allowing us to get his photo.
As were these buffalo.
And then it was time to leave the Black Hills. Real life beckoned and there was one more place to visit on the way home.

Good-Bye Oregon

Well, at least for this trip. And as Willow mentioned in a comment on one of my previous posts, no trip to Oregon is complete, at least for us, without a stop in "the Gorge" to enjoy the falls. That's the Columbia River Gorge in the area east of Portland where there are rocky cliffs on each side of the river which cause some very strong winds to blow down through. The Oregon side of these steep cliffs is graced with a series of spectacular falls, the largest and most well-known of which is Multnomah Falls. We stopped on our way east, homeward-bound back to Illinois.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sunday's Hymn: All The Way My Saviour Leads Me

All the way my Saviour leads me—
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt his tender mercy
Who through life has been my Guide?
Heav'nly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in him to dwell—
For I know, whate'er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.

All the way my Saviour leads me,
Cheers each winding path I tread,
Gives me grace for ev'ry trial,
Feeds me with the living Bread.
Though my weary steps may falter,
And my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the rock before me,
Lo, a spring of joy I see!

All the way my Saviour leads me—
O the fullness of his love!
Perfect rest to me is promised
In my Father's house above:
When my spirit, clothed, immortal,
Wings its flight to realms of day,
This my song through endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way!

Fanny J. Crosby, 1820-1915
Tune: All The Way, Robert Lowry, 1826-1899

Friday, July 10, 2009

Oregon...Part II

Since the real purpose of our recent trip to Portland, Oregon was to attend the wedding of our nephew, David, and his new wife, Julie, and to spend time with family members, we really didn't do a lot of sight seeing...and my pictures reflect our priorities! First, here's one of the happy couple. (Actually, this one was taken by Emily but I like it better than any of mine.)

But here's one that does give you an overview of the city of Portland. The river that the bridge in this picture crosses, the one separating the east side of Portland from the west, is the Willamette. (Just so you are in the know, "Willamette" is pronounced with the accent on the middle syllable rather than the last.) The Willamette runs north into the Columbia River near north Portland which is where my sister, Mary, lives. This picture was taken about a block away from her house.

Remember I told you in a recent post about the climate of western Oregon and how it enables things to grow like you wouldn't believe? Well, one of the many flowers that grow prolifically there is the rose. In fact, Portland is called the City of Roses and there is a lovely rose garden there in Washington Park. We didn't make it to the Rose Garden this time but still, June is the peak of rose season and roses are in almost everyone's garden...roses of every color.

Before we leave Portland, I want to tell you, friends, about a wonderful little breakfast/lunch cafe in north Portland that we discovered with my sister, Mary, and her husband, Jim. Andy and I (Emily was staying with her cousins at their homes) along with Mary and Jim were so busy just relaxing and refreshing ourselves from the hectic pace of the wedding festivities that I forgot to even take a picture! Take my word for it, it was fun! The food was great, the tea and coffee were truly outstanding, and it was incredibly entertaining for us conservative mid-westerners! And they have a blog!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Blueberry Picnic Cake

Here's a tasty summertime dessert that I discovered while we were in Oregon. In fact, my sister, Mary, made it! And its really good! I made it yesterday for prayer meeting and people there seemed to like it too so I am sharing it with my bloggy friends.

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, softened
Grated rind of one lemon
1/2 tsp. allspice
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups milk
2 cups blueberries

Mix flour and sugar in a large bowl; cut in butter until crumbly. Reserve 1 cup of this mixture for topping. Add lemon rind, allspice, baking powder and salt to remaining mixture. Mix egg yolks into milk and add to dry ingredients beating until smooth. Beat egg whites until stiff. Fold gently into batter. Pour into greased and floured 9 X 13 inch pan. Scatter blueberries and reserved crumb mixture over the top. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes or until golder brown. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Introduction to Oregon

Today I am taking you to Oregon, my friends. Oregon is a state of contrasts. Eastern Oregon is dry, sagebrush kind of country where the wind blows and its hot in the summer but snow accumulates in the winter. Western Oregon is lush, wet, green country where anything and everything grows (except sagebrush and dryland plants). The climate is mild and accumulating snow in the winter is not the norm. Eight months of rain, mostly misty, light rain, is the normal winter weather pattern there. The reason the rain doesn't make it over to Eastern Oregon is the Cascade Mountains of which Mt. Hood is the most famous member. The mountains stop the clouds and cause them to drop their moisture on the western part of the state.

Here is the Columbia River which marks the border between Washington and Oregon as we arrive in Eastern Oregon. Note the predominance of brown in the landscape.
This is the Columbia River in the Portland area. We were actually on the Washington side, in Camas, for this shot but you can see Mt. Hood in this one even though its top is obscured by those clouds. And there's the green in the landscape.

Here we are in Astoria, Oregon, almost at the mouth of the Columbia River as it flows into the Pacific Ocean. Lots of green here too.

One last bit of info for today on the Columbia River. There is lots of major shipping on it up to Portland and it all has to pass over the very hazardous bar at the mouth of the river. There is a very interesting museum in Astoria that chronicles the maritime history of the area. It incorporates the light ship that used to mark the entrance to the mouth of the Columbia in the not too distant past. (Andy remembers it from his growing up years.) I highly recommend the museum should you visit Astoria. Here's a picture of the light ship.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Nebraska Attractions

One of the great things about road trips (at least, to me) is stopping at little, out of the way places of local interest rather than the major tourist attractions. We found Nebraska to have a few of those. First, there was the prairie sod house behind a barn with this cut-out in front of it. We found it irresistible. So did Emily and Charlie.

Then there was the highest point in Nebraska. That one involved a side trip that cost us an extra couple of hours but we thought it was worth it.
Nebraska's highest point is actually in the southwest corner of the state near its borders with Colorado and Wyoming so there really is some elevation there, as you can see. Supposedly, on a clear day, you can see the Rockies. We couldn't. But we were rewarded for our drive out the gravel roads between the fields by the views of rich farm land, a herd of buffalo and some beautiful wild flowers.

Catching Up

June is not a good month to be away from home. At least, not if you live in Chicagoland! It is just cool enough and has enough precipitation for the weeds to proliferate like crazy! Weeding and taming back even some of the "good" plants is my last catch-up chore around the cottage. But I'm getting there! I've been disciplining myself to weed at least an hour a day this week. Considering that its only Tuesday, I am making progress. But I surely wouldn't mind if I had to call off weeding on account of rain tomorrow. I need to squeeze in some extra reading this week too! Reading got seriously neglected in the fun of visiting with family...a choice I'd make all over again...but I have my book discussion group on Friday and about 150 more pages to go. And then there is organizing my pictures. And blogging. I guess weeding is not my last catch-up chore! I need more than 24 hours in my day!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

We're Still Recovering...

from our recent trip to Oregon but, oh, we did have a terrific time! The wedding was lovely. Time with family was great fun. And we did some sightseeing in the Portland area as well as on the road trip out and back. I'll be sharing some photos over the next week or so but right now I am busy with 4th of July festivities. We just got back from the Crystal Lake parade and I need to get in some food preparation before we head back down to the lake for the fireworks. I hope you are having some fun celebrating the Birthday of America this weekend!

Sunday's Hymn: Mighty God, While Angels Bless Thee

Mighty God, while angels bless thee,
May a mortal sing thy name?
Lord of men as well as angels,
Thou art every creature's theme.

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

Lord of every land and nation,
Ancient of eternal days,
Sounded through the wide creation
Be thy just and lawful praise.

For the grandeur of thy nature,
Grand beyond the seraph's thought;
For created works of power,
Works with skill and kindness wrought.

But thy rich, thy free redemption,
Dark through brightness all along,
Thought is poor, and poor expression,
Who dare sing that awful song?

Brightness of the Father's glory,
Shall thy praise unuttered lie?
Fly, my tongue, such guilty silence,
Sing the Lord who came to die:

From the highest throne in glory,
To the cross of deepest woe,
All to ransom guilty captives,
Flow my praise, for ever flow.

Robert Robinson, 1774
St. 1, line 2, alt.
Tune: Alleluia, Albert Lowe, 1868