William Wallace

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William Wallace was born around the year 1270 and grew up to be a Scottish landowner. During the his childhood, Alexander the third was reining. Alexander’s granddaughter preceded him but after her death there was no heir. Edward of England was suggested but the people of Scotland chose John Balliol. John left his throne and Edward became king of Scotland and England. The people still viewed John as king and did not want to be governed by the English.

When he was not yet thirty years old he led an army against the English. He burned the city of Lanmark and killed the sheriff while doing so. He met in battle with the English near Stirling. Even though he was outnumbered he still won the battle of Stirling Bridge. When he went back to Scotland he was knighted and named the Guardian of the Kingdom.

A few months later Edward tried to attack the Scots. The Scots followed them to try to break them in their weak points. Edward’s army found out and fought with them and won. Edward was then crowned king in the year 1304. Wallace did escaped from the battle.

Unfortunately, a Scottish knight who was loyal to Edward betrayed Wallace. William was convicted of treason in Westminster Hall. He was executed in an absolutely horrible way. It was terribly painful and he was cut into pieces and each part was hung throughout Scotland as a warning to the other Scots. I have heard two different accounts of what William said as he was being executed. The first was that William yelled “freedom” right before he died. The second was that William was singing Psalms to the Lord. I certainly hope for the latter.

William Wallace will always be remembered as a martyr and a hero.

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Marco Polo

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Marco Polo was actually born into a family of travelers. He inherited the love for travel from his father (Niccilo Polo) and his uncle (Maffeo Polo).  He was probably born in Venice where he lived with his aunt and uncle. His mother had died and his father and uncle were believed to be dead as well.

His father and uncle were not dead. What had happened was when they were traveling they had been captured. They were saved by Kublai Khan’s army and convinced to return to China. They were treated very well and Kublai Khan was very interested in their lifestyle. He requested that they send a message to the Pope and ask for 100 monks and holy oils. He wanted the monks to teach his people. They agreed to do as he asked.

Marco was fifteen years old when he first met his father. Marco went on the journey back to China with his father and uncle to take the things the Khan had asked for. Marco was fascinated with China and he immediately began writing about it. They were all treated like royalty and given whatever they wanted. Marco was most surprised by the paper money and the coal. The money was surprising because they thought money should be gold or silver. The coal he was also fascinated by and he described it as “stones that burn like logs”.  The Khan quite liked Marco and asked him to be his Privy Council in the year 1277.

He spent 17 years in China and learned four languages. They all decided to return to Venice in fear of a new Khan. They asked Kublai Khan to leave and he refused but later allowed them to leave with a princess on her way to marry a Persian prince. They did not easily fit in when they got back and had a hard time speaking Italian. Marco became a galley ship captain during a war. He eventually married and had four daughters. He never returned to China but encouraged others to travel.

Marco’s book, Travels of Marco Polo was not really accepted as true. It even was given the nickname ” The Million Lies”. Marco said that it was all true and he had not even written half of what he saw. Marco fell ill in the year 1323 and died in 1324. His book influenced many travelers. Most notably his book was found in Christopher Columbus’ ship.

Saint Francis of Assisi

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The Franciscan order of monks was founded by Saint Francis. Saint Francis was born in the year 1182 to a wealthy family. This was right after the first two crusades.  He had a very carefree manner throughout his lifetime.

He eventually joined the military and during his time there he was taken as a prisoner. Many people believe this is where he was converted to Christ. He managed to go back home but still had a very carefree character. This is one reason we cannot be sure he was converted during his imprisonment.

A year later Francis became very ill. And, when he rejoined the army in 1204 he had a vision that led him to return to Assisi and learn more about Christianity. He spent a lot of time alone asking God for wisdom and direction. His family was unhappy with his decision but Francis renounced his father and continued on. He preached repentance to many people. His followers were called the Franciscan monks.

Francis was known for his love of nature. It is said that he even would preach to the birds. Today we have veterinarians that work in places called Saint Francis of Assisi. They would have named their storefronts this for their similar love to animals that Saint Francis had.

Saint Francis a few years before his death claimed that he had wounds like Christ did on his hands. He also became blind in the year 1224. In the year 1226 he died singing Psalms 142.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake

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Have you ever gotten dessert from a bakery and wished you could have just one of their recipes for yourself? Well, you are in luck because this baker is willing to share just one of her recipes. I have been asked to share recipes in the past and I have decided to share just one. A baker can’t give all her secrets away can she?

This cheesecake is my favorite. With its crunchy Oreo crust, creamy chocolate peanut butter center, rich chocolate ganache, fresh whipped cream, and peanut butter cups it just doesn’t get any better. Try it for yourself and you will see just what I mean! You won’t be able to resist it.

So, now to begin making this cheesecake take:

• 12 Oreo cookies

• 3 Tablespoons butter

Begin by greasing a 8″ circle pan and line on the bottom with parchment paper. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and meanwhile crush your cookies. Add the cookies to the butter and press the mixture on the bottom of your greased pan. Keep the crust in the freezer while preparing the cheesecake.

For the Cheesecake:

• 3 8oz Sticks of cream cheese (softened)

• 1 Cup granulated sugar

• 5 eggs (room temperature)

• 1 Tablespoon vanilla

• 1/2 Cup sour cream (room temperature)

• 3/4 Cup peanut butter

• 1 Cup melted chocolate (dark, milk, or semi-sweet is fine)

• 12″ cake pan

• Boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Beat your cream cheese till smooth then gradually add sugar while beating. Add eggs one at a time then add vanilla. Add the sour cream, peanut butter, and chocolate last. Pour the batter into the crust and tap a few times to remove air bubbles. Place the cheesecake pan into the 12″ pan and pour boiling water into the 12″ pan till the water is about half-way up the cheesecake pan. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes then turn heat down to 325 degrees and bake for an hour. Shut off the oven and let sit for at least 4 hours or until cool. Chill cheesecake until cold and meanwhile work on toppings.

For the Toppings:

• 1/2 Cup heavy cream

• 1 Cup chocolate chips (dark, milk, or semi-sweet is fine)

•3/4 Cup heavy cream

• 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar

• 4 Reese’s peanut butter cups

Start by bringing the 1/2 cup of cream to a simmer then whisk in chocolate chips till mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool (this is your ganache). Whip your 3/4 cup cream and sprinkle in the sugar slowly then whip till stiff peaks are made. Cut your peanut butter cups in half each.

To Assemble:

Place your cheesecake pan in warm water for a few minutes.  Then run a knife around the edge of the pan (dried off from the water of course). Invert onto a paper lined board then flip onto a cake board right side up. Pour your cooled (but not cold) ganache on top and let drip slightly down the side. Pipe whipped cream into eight rosettes and place your peanut butter cup halves onto each.  Let chill for about an hour and slice with a warm knife when serving.

Enjoy

 

A Snow Storm

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A few years ago I was in a very scary situation. Even though we can die at any time most of us do not expect it to happen any time soon. It was a real eye opener that people can die at any age. It makes you think of everything wrong you ever did. I praise God that even though I did all of those horrible things I can be comforted in the fact that I would be living with him if I had died.

It started when I went to my sewing lesson like every other Thursday. We had just finished the lesson and it started to snow very heavily. The driveway was packed with snow and we could hear trees cracking and falling. The roads where I lived had trees hanging over them everywhere. When we finally got out of the driveway we realized that it was a mistake to try. Trees were falling all down the roads. They were very big trees and at this point any one could hit our car. This was horrifying and I really began to think that I might not get through it if one tree fell.

We ran from the car to the nearest home. We had never met these people but it turned out we had a mutual friend and we actually had been wanting to meet. The gentleman helped pull our vehicle out and actually drove us home that night. The ride back was also scary and I can still remember it perfectly. At one point we were stuck on a phone line. I did not know what that would do so I was terrified that it would electrocute me. And, there were many more falling trees to worry about.

In the end we did get home safety. I am so thankful to God for his mercy in the situation. I could have been hurt or even died and He got me home without even a scratch.

My Goal as a Violinist

9b70ccf5372895dbfdcd9cdedff29b32.jpgThis past December I gave myself the goal of playing my Violin in church services. I have always been nervous about playing in front of other people so this was pretty big. I was asked to play in two services. One on Christmas Eve and one on Christmas day. Obviously, I played only Christmas carols. This should make it easier but I actually prefer playing things people do not already know. Because they know the melody they will know when I make a mistake.

So, what steps did I take to make sure that my goal was completed successfully? Well, I practiced a lot. The week of the performances I probably practiced two hours total a day. This was especially difficult because lately when I play my violin so long I have terrible pain in my left arm. I still struggle with it but it seems that if I am relaxed and seated it doesn’t bother me. I was very glad to not have any pain during my performances.

Did this work well and lead to success? Yes, I think I did very well considering I have only been playing for about two and a half years. I played my music fairly in tune and when I did not I was drowned out by the piano and my teacher.

I would say that I did have some failure. During the carol Silent Night the lights where almost completely off. This resulted in me not being able to read my music well and some wrong notes were definitely played.

In my history course I have been learning about the crusaders. If I were to compare my goal, success, and failure, to theirs there is really nothing specific that is similar. But, when I think about it the determination to do better is where I can relate. The crusaders were very determined and it took eight crusades before it died down. Unlike the crusaders I do not want my determination to end but similar to them I had a goal and achieved it. I did have failure but like them I plan to press on and get better.

Knights and Chivalry

medieval-battleA knight has been known as a couple of different things. First a knight could be considered an honored person. And second the title could be his rank in society.

In a bit more detail a person could have been given the title of a knight (by a king or monarch) because they did something heroic. This is the common view of a knight and is correct .  This type of knight is the most popular and is often used in stories where a young brave man saves a princess from a beast and earns the title of knight. Sometimes even a man on horseback with armor was considered a knight.

Another way they could have gotten the title was when it was a title of their rank. A knight was part of the feudal system hierarchy. He was also required to serve in the king’s army. When they had time off they would enjoy hunts and tournaments.

Knights were very heroic people. They strove for chivalry which included faith, hope, charity, justice, strength, moderation, and loyalty. Chivalry was like the code knights were to keep. They vowed to be courteous to  women, be loyal to their king, serve God always, and defend the weak.

Knights were viewed and given their title in different ways but in all of these cases they were still brave men.