Saturday, August 8, 2020

Birdfeeder Battles

(I just found this unpublished note from September 2016.  I'm hitting "Publish" now...)

I recently acquired some bird feeders. Before investing too much I waited to see if the birds would come. They did.

So I bought a more durable feeder and some more expensive seed that would attract colourful birds and songbirds.

Enter The Squirrel.

I spent a good portion of yesterday morning warring with The Squirrel.

He hung down from the branch and are my sunflower seeds.
I went out and yelled at him.
He left.
I went inside.

The Squirrel hung down from the same branch eating seeds from the same feeder.
I went out and yelled at him.
He left.
I went inside.

The next time I looked out the window, the feeder had its top removed and The Squirrel was shamelessly eating seeds directly out of the now-wide opening.
I went out, took the feeder down, and brought it inside. I would win this battle.

A few minutes later? The Squirrel was hanging on the other feeder (which was also now topless), shamelessly eating sunflower seeds.
More yelling.
I took that feeder down as well.

I had to figure something out.

After a trip to Home Depot, I had some 'S' hooks. I attempted to rig my feeders so that they were hanging from the tree branches, with enough lead that The Squirrel could not reach it.
I was too short.
One ladder later, I was still too short.

I needed reinforcements.

Moments later I had my youngest up in the tree, much higher than I'd want him to go any other day. He put the pieces of twine over the branches for me. I suspended two feeders with 'S' hooks and went back inside to watch.

The Squirrel attempted re-entry with no success.

I decided to count that as a win for me.


Later that morning I went to the backyard to check on my garden. I stopped short when I saw my second Dollar Store feeder on THE GROUND, The Squirrel flaunting his mid-morning snack in my face. I chased him away and surveyed the damage. One crack, but the feeder was salvageable. The seeds, on the other hand, were not. Many of the sunflower seeds were split open already. My bird friends would not appreciate those being scooped back into the feeder.

I fixed the feeder with some twine, hung it from another 'S'-hooked rope and retreated to a rear-facing window to stealthily watch.

The Squirrel scampered around to no avail. He could not reach it.


A day later, The Squirrel is still munching on his felled loot, but has not reached the feeders again.

BONUS: This morning I saw a bright goldfinch feeding in the front. We have a cardinal couple that is enjoying our seeds as well. Now that The Squirrel has been bested (at least for now) we're finally able to sit back and enjoy our bird-friends!

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Vanilla Bean Scones

Vanilla Bean Scones

Because it's fun to bake with friends even from far away...
Open up your favourite video conferencing tool and make a date to hang out and bake with your favourite people!

Materials needed:
3 baking sheets (at least 1 with sides)
at least 1 cooling rack
parchment paper or silicone baking mats
pastry blender
rolling pin
various measuring cups
large flat knife
large mixing bowl
medium mixing bowl


2 vanilla beans (or 2 tsp vanilla)
3/4 cup heavy cream

3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cups granulated sugar
5 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
1 egg

1 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla)
1/2 cup whole milk
3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

1) Split 2 vanilla beans down the middle lengthwise. Scrape out all the caviar inside and stir caviar into cream along with the pods; set aside for 15 minutes. (If no vanilla beans, simply add vanilla to cream and set aside.)

2) Sift together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt into large mixing bowl. Incorporate the butter into the dry ingredients using a pastry blender or your fingertips until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Remove pods from the cream (if you were using them) and mix cream mixture with the egg, then add it to the flour mixture; stir gently with a fork just until it just comes together. The mixture should resemble biscuit dough.

3) Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and press it together, forming a rough rectangle. (Mixture will still be slightly crumbly.) Use a rolling pin to roll into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. Cut the rectangle into 12 squares. Then slice each square in half diagonally, to form two triangles.

4) Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone liner and bake until cooked through, but not yet golden, about 15-18 minutes. Edges/corners should just be starting to show colour. Cool for 15 minutes.

5) Mix glaze ingredients together with a whisk in medium mixing bowl. Dip cooled scones into glaze to coat them entirely, then transfer to a cooling rack to dry and harden.  (I usually put a cookie sheet underneath to catch the drips.)

They are best once totally hardened, which takes at least 30 minutes. Good luck getting your family to wait that long.

Makes 24 large scones.  Scones can also be cut in half, before going on baking sheet, to make mini scones. Reduce cooking time if you do that.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Sunday Morning in Isolation - Do Not Fear

(I'm publishing this ahead of time for those who want to print it and use it for their Sunday morning Family Worship.)

It has been said that there are 365 verses in the Bible that say “Do not fear”. My research indicates that’s not entirely true, but the idea is certainly pervasive throughout Scripture.

Take a few moments to dig through your Bible to find verses where God is telling people not to fear. (If you are having a hard time, I’ve listed a few below.)

As you read through these verses, consider the following:

What was the person afraid of in each of the scriptures that you come across?

What was God’s response/promise to that fear?

1 Samuel 12:20 
2 Kings 6:15-17 
Daniel 10:12, 19 
Deuteronomy 20:8 
Matthew 10:26, 28 
Matthew 10:31 
Luke 5:8-10

Are you worried or anxious or nervous or fearful about anything right now? 

Whether you find a passage in Scripture that speaks to your specific situation or not, rest assured that God has not forgotten or abandoned you.  In John 14:27 Jesus tells his disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Watch this video, which so beautifully puts into perspective God’s character, and his loving promises (found in Psalm 23) to be with us through everything, in the midst of our uncertainty.

Take some time to pray, confessing your fears to God and then letting go of them into His very capable hands. Pray for those who do not yet know Jesus as their Saviour, that they may be introduced to the Prince of Peace and find rest from their worries. Ask God to help you be an effective witness of what it looks like to trust God with everything.

Finally, worship with us as we sing these two songs!

Whom Shall I Fear

You Never Let Go

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Sunday Morning in Quarantine

As COVID-19 wreaks havoc on our world right now, Christians are sitting at home, trying to commune with other Christians as they worship and learn together virtually. Our church is "meeting" to pray together at 10:00 am, our usual meeting time on Sunday mornings.

I wanted to give my kids a more directed and meaningful way to pray and meditate on God's word, so I wrote up the following direction for them to walk through.  Please feel free to join us as we do this on Sunday morning from our own homes.

Sunday Morning Prayer and Personal Reflection


For this world – That this world may see the Truth of who God is and be obedient to His call on their lives; that everyone may experience healing – not just in body, but in spirit.

For our country – That our government officials would turn their hearts to God and make decisions for our nation that will both protect us and help us follow God more closely; that the Christian citizens of this country and the rest of the world would stand for God’s Truth.

For our region – That the citizens of this region would experience a revival; that they would hunger for God and His Word; that as our witness directs more hearts to God, it would make a difference in the lives of all, whether rich, employed, stay-at-home, unemployed, sober, addicted, homeless, Christian, atheist, sick, or well.

For our church – That we would seek God with all our hearts, setting aside our personal goals and desires that do not align with His good and perfect will; that we would feel a connection to each other while we are physically apart; that we would be able to spur one another on towards good deeds, encouraging each other.

For ourselves – That we would draw closer to God individually, both today and each day this week; that we would spend time seeking for His will in our lives rather than pursuing our own desires; that our hearts and its desires would be transformed as we renew our minds by spending time praying, reading His word, and worshiping Him, both in song and in deed.

Personal Reflection

Jesus told the Pharisees, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

How do you struggle with either of these commandments? (Look at how you tend to sin; it may indicate which is more of a struggle for you.)

When you look at lists of sins throughout the Bible, are there any that you see yourself struggling with more lately? (Feel free to spend some time looking through the various places in the Bible that God talks about specific sins.)

How does God tell you, through his word, that you can overcome that sin struggle? (Spend time looking for God’s encouraging words in the Bible.)

What steps will you take this week to love God and others more dearly?

Finish your personal reflection with a song of love to our Great God.  Choose your own, or sing this one with us.