Monthly Archives: August 2008


As I was picking grapes this week, I had to laugh at myself. I would have a handful, yet still try to pick just one more. Of course as I did, I would drop some because my hands were already full.

The line of a poem that I had learned at college kept going through my mind, “…into hands already full…”.

I finally found the poem and discovered some interesting insight into its author, Margaret Snell Nicholson.

Ms. Nicholson suffered from four incurable diseases and was an invalid, bound to her bed in pain for more than 35 years. Yet her spirit and her faith were triumphant. She learned many spiritual lessons in the midst of her pain and used those lessons to write some of the most beautiful and deeply moving Christian poetry every written.

Here’s the poem I remembered:


One by one He took them from me,
All the things I valued most,
Until I was empty-handed;
Every glittering toy was lost.

And I walked earth’s highways, grieving.
In my rags and poverty.
Till I heard His voice inviting,
“Lift your empty hands to Me!”

So I held my hands toward heaven,
And He filled them with a store
Of His own transcendent riches,
Till they could contain no more.

And at last I comprehended
With my stupid mind and dull,
That God COULD not pour His riches
Into hands already full!

-Martha Snell Nicholson

Chewy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

We are enjoying a wonderful weekend with family at my parents home on the prairie.

One of my favorite parts of the weekend is the dessert bar. Each of us brings a dessert (or two or three) to share.

After each meal we check it out and enjoy each others offerings!

This time I tried a new recipe. I think it was a hit!

Chewy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars


Combine 1 cup flour, 1/3 cup brown sugar, and 3 Tablespoons baking cocoa.

Cut in 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter until crumbly. Press into a greased 9 x 13 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 14-16 minutes.

Mix 2 eggs, 1/2 cup corn syrup, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter, and 1/4 teaspoon salt until smooth. Fold in 1/2 cup flaked coconut and 1/2 cup chocolate chips.

Pour over crust and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden.

Peanut butter and chocolate again! What a great way to honor Mom!

Roses and Thistles

“Where you tend a rose, my lad, a thistle cannot grow.” ~Frances Hodgson Burnett.

Christmas in September?!

I have a unique family. A large, loving, fun, creative and very unique family.

A few years my mom realized that with the size of the family and the distance we have to travel, having Christmas in the winter was no longer feasible. We just didn’t fit in the house and often the weather kept some of us from attending.

So my parents decreed that we would have Christmas when everyone could travel and when it was warm enough so that we could spill out into the yard in tents.

So we now have Christmas over Labor Day weekend.

People look at you oddly when you tell them. But one gets used to odd looks when you’re a member of my family. We enjoy each other and like to keep our livers healthy by laughing.

Every year we act out the Christmas story on the lawn complete with animal costumes and a camp fire where the shepherds can hang out.

We exchange Christmas presents in the shade of the oak trees while swatting mosquitoes and nursing sunburns we acquired while tubing down the West Fork River with the kiddos.

And we eat! Everyone brings a meal and desserts to make it easy to feed this multitude. We have lots of chocolate and lots of fresh salsa! (Interesting combination?! Hey, I said we were unique!)

And the laughter! Meal times stretch out as we sit around swapping stories and sharing laughter.

(Did I tell you we eat in the garage? My parents set up a buffet line out of planks and saw horses to serve from and picnic tables to eat on. We are in the shade and away from the bugs!)

As you can tell, I can’t wait for our Christmas in September celebration to get started! I’ve learned long ago, it’s the people you want to share it with that makes Christmas, not the time of year.

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Wild Grape Jam

“Hey, Mom! We found these really cool berries that were hanging in bunches. I thought they were elderberries at first, but they aren’t. What are they?”

Those words changed the course of my afternoon! As I looked at their buckets I was surprised to see that they were full of wild grapes! Big bunches of wild grapes!

We grabbed more buckets and went to explore. I have never seen wild grapes so plentiful! My daughters and I spent over an hour on the edge of the gravel road cutting wild grape bunches off the vines growing wild on the bushes in the ditch.
Then we spent another hour plucking the grapes from the stems while watching old Andy Griffith Shows and laughing. Finally they were ready to be washed well and cooked to make juice.

We sealed the jars with flats and rings and put them in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

When it was all said and done, we ended up with 9 pints of wild grape jam, 2 hours of talk time with my daughters, and memories that will last longer than the jam!

Now that was an afternoon well-spent!