Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Gentle Joy Homemaker- Top 10 Posts For 2014

Sorry about the previous post that was empty... we had an issue with it, but I think it is fixed now...

What a year!  Gentle Joy Homemaker has just passed its 1 year mark.  Out of 84 posts for the year, here are the top 10.......

The apple butter cinnamon rolls post was THE top post for the year....
Apple Butter Cinnamon Rolls    

   Dehydrating Foods Part 1

 Is It Really Just Innocent Fun?

Dehydrating Foods Part 2

Easy Way To Start and Grow Sweet Potatoes

My Energy Has Increased Because of Doing This...

Basic Homemade Bread Recipe

Buttery Chocolate Chip Cookies

My Garage Sale Prayer List

Strange Recipes From Old Cookbooks

Thank you for reviewing a great year with me.  :)

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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Buttery Crescent Rolls - So Good!

    We love to make crescent rolls and they are a great addition to special meals. We also like to make them to have with soup meals. I have experimented and we like them even better.  :)  

 These are actually not difficult - you just need to remember to prepare them early enough.  This is a triple batch.

The yeast, warm milk (heat till warm, not too hot) and sugar are mixed in a large bowl - I use one of the largest Tupperware bowls - put the lid on. Let it sit for about 30 minutes, then add the other ingredients and mix well. Put the cover back on (I find it works well to spray cooking spray on the inside of the lid so the dough doesn't stick to it). Let sit for at least 2 hours, but could also sit overnight.

After it has risen enough, get a ball of dough and roll it out into a circle on a floured surface. We have done these small... like the final circle is only about 6".... or like we did them here and the circle is about 11"-12" in diameter. 
 Spread a generous amount of butter over the surface.

The original recipe did not call for adding the butter on top like this, but it makes the rolls much nicer.  You can leave the butter off if you prefer.
 This is our new addition.... sprinkle with powdered sugar at this point.
 It is surprising how much this little bit of powdered sugar adds to the specialness of these rolls.... and you can add even more if you prefer.
 Cut all the way across - like a pie.... we have used a knife, a pizza cutter and other utensils and this part can be a bit messy as the edges like to curl up. This year, I tried a pancake turner and just pressed it to cut, moved it and cut again, without sliding it.... that worked quite well.

Then start at the big end of the triangle and roll it up loosely... don't roll it tightly. The loose rolling allows it to raise inside and makes for a lighter roll. Push the ends inward a bit, to form a crescent.
 Put them on a greased cookie and let them rise.... they can even set like this for several hours and will be fine... but they can be ready to bake in an hour or so, depending on the warmth of your kitchen and other factors.
 Let them raise... if you bake them too soon, they will taste okay, but they will taste much better if allowed to raise long enough... then they will be light and oh, so good. :)
 You can tell that they have risen enough to be touching, which is quite different than the picture above where there was a lot of room between rolls.

Mmmmmm, here they are, lightly crisp on the outside, and soft and light inside.

Ours do not all look the same, as you can tell.... the kids like to help with these and I love it... I usually make 3 batches at a time, so I like not having to do it all by myself. :)

You can tell it is bit flaky and crispy... the texture is quite nice.

This recipe was given to me about 25 years ago by an elderly friend... at least the original recipe was. I have tweaked it a bit into what it is today.... and it has just gotten better and better. 

 The texture inside is so soft and 
flavorful... the buttery taste is great and if you use the powdered sugar, there is also just a hint of sweetness. Sometimes I also add cinnamon... or apple butter... or other goodies. :)


                                     Buttery Crescent Rolls

       1 package of yeast
       1 cup warm milk
       1/2 cup sugar           Mix all three ingredients. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes.

       2 beaten eggs
       1 tsp. salt
       4 cups flour
       1/2 cup melted butter       Add all of these to the above mixture.  Stir well. Cover.                         
 Let stand on counter for at least 2 hours or overnight. Do not refrigerate.

          After at least 2 hours, or overnight, spoon out a large ball and roll it into a circle, about 9" in diameter. Spread butter all over the circle, then sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired. Cut into triangles. (Cut the circle like you would a pie). Roll each triangle into crescents, starting with the large end.... push the ends in to form a crescent shape. Set on a greased cookie sheet with sides. (You don't want butter to melt off into the oven and start a fire.)  Cover with waxed paper and let rise... they are fine to leave this way all day.... or just until they have raised enough. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack. Enjoy. :)
   Recipe makes about 24 rolls.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Super Easy Homemade Truffles

It's the time of year to make homemade goodies. We haven't made nearly as many as usual due to the extreme busyness of this year, but last year I made truffles for the first time... and this year, I made them again and learned more... and they turned out better. I figure I will get better each year. :)

The dough was pretty easy to make... I mixed it up and then put it into the refrigerator for a couple of days. One evening when the guys were gone and my girls and my mom were making Christmas cookies, I made the truffles. Actually, I took the dough out of the fridge a few hours before I made these.  I forgot to get a picture until this was all of the dough I had left. :(  This is a Corelle cereal bowl and it was heaped up full.

I rolled the dough into balls and then rolled them in some coating.... cocoa, crushed candy canes, mini chocolate chips, Heath toffee chips ..... or I left them plain like the two shown above.... and then I dipped them in melted almond bark. Lots of choices.

These are rolled in crushed candy canes and they tasted REALLY good. One thing I did note; however, is that when these were stored in a tin, they became sticky. I will be working to solve that problem before the next time.
These are truffles that were rolled in just plain cocoa.

Truffle Dough:
1-8 oz package cream cheese, soft
3 c. pwd sugar, sifted
3 c. semi sweet choc chips,melted
1 1/2 tsp vanilla.

Cream cream cheese and sugar until smooth, add the rest and stir until no streaks remain. Chill for 1 hour, then form into balls and coat or dip. Put on waxed paper or parchment paper to set, then store in sealed containers.

These were dipped in melted white almond bark. Then I sprinkled colored  sugar on the tops before the coating hardened.

I found that the truffles I planned to dip were better when made a little smaller... otherwise we had some pretty large truffles. :)

These were rolled in Heath bar and milk chocolate pieces. Yum, they were really good. :) After these were packed into the metal tin for a day, these also became sticky.

More of the dipped truffles with colored red sugar.

 The picture below shows more dipped chocolates... some with blue sprinkles.... and also some Ritz crackers that were dipped in the chocolate.

Then, I made some peanut butter mix and made balls and dipped those.... then sprinkled the Heath toffee and milk chocolate bits on top... these were the favorite for some of us. :)

The mixture was :
1/2 c butter, melted
1 1/4 c graham cracker crumbs
3/4 c peanut butter
1 c powdered sugar
   Mix all of these together. Chill, then form into balls. Dip in melted chocolate. Cool/dry on wax paper or parchment paper. Store between wax paper in a metal tin or other container.

These were not hard to make and changing the decorations made it much more interesting on the plate. If I had more time, I would have also changed things more.... maybe put mint flavoring in the truffle dough or the chocolate coating of some,  tuck a cherry inside the  truffle dough, top with coconut, etc, etc.  There are many possibilities.

The crackers were dipped because we had melted chocolate left and we ran out of truffles or peanut butter mixture balls..... and the crackers tasted great and also looked festive.

We haven't done much holiday cooking this year, but this project was pretty popular with the family.

Thank you for visiting.

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

When An Emergency Strikes....

Recently, we had an emergency happen....  with my dad.... in another state. He was to have a cardiac catherization and a stent placed due to an expected blockage in the heart, so my kids and I packed up and traveled to help, leaving my husband at home to keep going to work. We didn't know how long we would be gone, but we left on Monday morning and expected to travel home on Thursday of the same week, if all went as expected....  Just a simple "emergency".

When an emergency happens, we drop everything and tend to it... it is an emergency after all and it takes precedence over everything else. We all have things happen - a sick child, a spouse with cancer, a car accident, a newly discovered unpaid bill, and more. Emergencies get our attention... and they should. We don't like them and we are really glad when they are over, but we deal with them.

 What happens when the emergency doesn't go away as easily as we had hoped? We still deal with it. My dad's possible blockage and stent turned into a much bigger deal and required a quadruple bypass, a new valve and an aneurysm fix. The short story is that he had to be transported several hours away by ambulance to a bigger hospital. Thankfully, this is near our home, which made things a bit easier. Surgery was done and recovery is happening slowly, but steadily.

 My mom has seizures and needs care and has lived with us for the last month now, so there is much to be aware of and do. She is also getting rehab therapy to help her to be able to do more on her own as we hope Mom and Dad will be able to return to their home at some point and still live alone. There are lots of changes needed first... especially as Dad has cared for Mom for so long. I think she is more capable than previously thought and the therapist is doing a wonderful job of helping Mom to increase her balance and exercise muscles that usually don't get much use. Mom is working on this and it is great to see her grow in this way.

Is it easy? No, it isn't, but I continue to be amazed by the grace God has given each of us to deal with it. We have spent between 5-12 hours a day at the hospital or rehab place, not counting travel time. The kids take their schoolwork and work wherever they are. This is one of the beauties of homeschooling... it can be taken on the road and continued. I have been so pleased with the way my kids have carried on - they have been such a blessing and they help Grandma and Grandpa in so many ways. Dad has been in 2 hospitals and has been moved to a rehabilitation facility.

Now, that Dad is in a rehab facility, my oldest daughter (Wholesome Joy) takes music books and plays on the baby grand piano there. My dad loves to hear it and others enjoy it as well... sometimes residents stop to watch and listen while she plays and many comment on the beauty of her music. One lady often asks if she will be playing music again soon. It has been an opportunity for ministry... one that we hadn't planned. :)  My daughter LOVES playing on the beautiful baby grand piano and when she used our piano again, she said she realized she has gotten spoiled on the big beautiful one. The sound is sure rich and so nice........ but we enjoy her playing here also.

My husband has also been a huge blessing in all of this... and spent a couple of nights at the hospital with my dad when things were especially difficult. The thought crossed my mind to wonder how many men would willingly give up sleep and comfort to minister 2 nights in the hospital, to their father in law.  :) My husband still goes at about 6 or 6:30am each day to the rehab place to see Dad and read scripture to him and just listen... or talk with him and they have precious fellowship. He also goes either alone or with one or more of our sons in the evening to spend time with Dad. He has also held me when I cried with exhaustion and stress - he has been a blessing. I go with most of my kids and my mom 2 - 3 times a day and we have been there several hours a day. The last few days, my trips were reduced to one trip a day as my fatigue level has grown so high and I need to actively work on the adrenal issues again.

Meals are rushed and not too well planned, usually, as we have been spending most of our days away from home. Some friends from church have brought meals to our home, which was a huge blessing and allowed me to nap and not worry about supper. God is showing Himself faithful in sustaining all of us. Still, the weariness has grown... and continues to grow. I look back and realize that this "emergency" started 4 weeks ago... and it isn't over yet. I also realize that God is faithful and He will give all the strength and grace to continue this for as long as needed... and I am thankful.

We have all been especially thankful that Dad is still with us... the surgeon said that without the surgery, Dad only had days to live... the aneurysm was very severe. The night before the heart catherization, he was out putting chains(it was hard work) on his John Deere garden tractor in preparation for snow... and he told me that he had been quite dizzy afterwards and had to lean on the wall to recover.... we didn't know about the aneurysm at that time - what a blessing that God preserved his life.

Dad has had a rough time... there is nothing easy about this recovery... and yet, he is doing it day by day. He keeps saying that he appreciates our visits so much and that family is good therapy for him. We have had family come to visit from different states also... and after one such visit, a nurse asked Dad if his family was overwhelming him... if it was too much for him. He said, "My family is therapy for me and I don't want to hear another word about it!!" We all laughed about that.

By the way, in case any of you reading this think I am just listing reasons to be sorry for myself, that is not at all what I hope to portray in this post. Rather, I am realizing more and more that when we listen to God and follow His leading, even when it isn't our choice, He blesses.... and blesses abundantly. God is helping all of us to grow in denying ourselves more, in being considerate of others, of working together in difficult times and more. I find myself very thankful for what God is doing in Dad's life.... and in the lives of the rest of us. :) Thank you so much for visiting... and a special thank you to all who have prayed for us... or will be. We have certainly felt God carrying us through a very hard time.

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

What About Your Marriage?

I have been burdened for the last few years to pray about marriages. The marriages of our church elders, of Christian leaders in the public focus and more. Every year I feel more and more burdened.
Marriage is under attack from many directions.... there are those who want to change the meaning of marriage... there are those who want to destroy marriage... there are those who want to encourage living together without marriage... and then there are those everyday stresses on marriages.

When I talked with my children the other day, I encouraged them to pray for married people in our church... or our neighborhood, family, friends, etc. No, not because we know or suspect there is a "problem", but because every marriage faces stresses. Some of those stresses may be busyness, fatigue, money worries, expectations, illness - serious or minor, child training issues, work schedules, extended family issues, and more. Maybe it is insecurity in the relationship, maybe addictions are hardening hearts or a wandering eye is being fed. Maybe there is a lack of contentment with things... or the spouse. Maybe there is nothing "big", maybe there are just lots of little irritations from everyday life - laundry, meals, dishes, cleaning the bathroom, and more. Whatever there might be, there ARE stresses that affect us and those stresses can also affect marriages.

How can we help that? We live in this world and there will be stresses. Christian are not immune to being affected.  So what can we do?

I have been greatly saddened to hear of several marriages that are being torn apart just recently. I am praying for reconciliation and I hope God grants that, but realistically... some of the people involved have already "moved on". They are "done". God can still soften their hearts and convict of sin... and I will pray, but I don't want to wait until the breakdown happens.... and ask God to "fix" it.  Maybe we should pray even before the breakdown of the marriage happens.

Though there may be other things we can do, in this post, my focus is prayer.  We can PRAY.  We can pray for God's protection around our own marriage and the marriages of others. We can pray for strength in difficulties. We can ask God to lead us in the way we should go, to alert us to any areas that are not pleasing to Him, and more. We can thank God for marriage... and for the marriages around us. What a blessing to see marriages... and especially marriages that last. We can ask God to bind husband and wife together, knitting their hearts together and helping them to remain committed.
We can be careful to be thankful for our spouse... and be thankful to God for His work in our marriage. The way we pray for our own marriage, is also a way we can pray for others.

It is easy to look around and see that everyone else has a perfect marriage..... but we are all sinners married to sinners and there are no perfect marriages. May we renew our commitment to live for the Lord in all things... even in marriage... and may we pray the same for others. Let's hold each other up in this way. The world is working hard to tear marriages apart... let's not sit back and wait for it to happen.  I hope you will be praying for marriages of those around you. I know I will.

 Thank you ... and I hope you have a great week. :)

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