Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Jesse Tree

This year I made a Jesse Tree to celebrate the Christmas season, starting on Dec. 1st. We all enjoyed spending some quiet moments reading our devotionals that started in Genesis and ended with the birth of Jesus. During this busy time of the year, it was nice to take the time to focus on the true reason for Christmas.

Next, I'm looking at making ornaments to change my Jesse tree into a Jesus tree for the 40 days of lent.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


I don't know why I haven't been able to publish my post until now. I've been trying to publish the post below since I wrote it. Now if only I could find the camera cord to Sim's camera, you would see what else I have been busy creating since Nov. 12.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

What I've Been Up to!

I've been busy... So many projects to do with the holidays coming. I've crocheted a jumper for Naomi, I now just need to find a matching shirt. I've sewed her a jumper, I'll try to take pictures of her in her dress tomorrow before church, and I've made some Thanksgiving art...Every day has a pocket that we fill with an index card on which we write what we are thankful for. We've done variations of this before, but I'll be able to take this piece out year after year and reread what others have written. Naomi's "translated" skribbles...Simeon's 8 year old writing...what Rich and I hold dear. It's nice to give thanks as a family. I've also made a couple of pairs of slippers, but I decided to take pictures too late tonight, and they really look much nicer on the "models". Will try to post more pics tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Homeschool Room

I thought I would share pics of our homeschool room. I think its my favorite room in the house. Forgive the messiness, we are in here quite a bit, its hard to keep this room pristine!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Authentically Me!

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately: thinking about why I do the things I do, why I react certain ways in certain situations, why I think certain thoughts about myself, why I feel emotions at different times.

I'm realizing more and more that my self worth, my self image, who I think I am, is based on such fleeting things. I allow superficial comments, instances and perceptions to shape and mold who I am, rather than looking at God's word, and finding the truth. God created me! God doesn't make junk! Does that make me perfect, absolutely not, but maybe I should be fixing my eyes on the truth, rather than what goes on around me.

Recently,I started to study Priscilla Shirer's Resolution for Women. In the chapter called "Intelligent Design" she says,

" I've often based my self-worth on some second-rate, inconsequential detail or assumption- like the way I looked, or the clique I fit into, or the way I measured up to a culturally set standard- to determine the type of woman I should be, to dictate the kinds of things I spent most of my time thinking about and and majoring on."

My friend, Denise, in her new blog,, writes:

" So, I'm going to attempt to live a bolder life and do and try things that I might just fail miserably at. But I will have tried. I will have pushed myself out of myself and maybe just learned that I'm ok even if I'm not perfect. Because, really, if I ever attained this warped idea of perfection (which is mostly about physical temporary things I can't ever find lasting contentment in), then who would be able to relate to me anyway? When I see a gorgeous, talented woman, I'm more likely to run the other way rather than befriend her. There are probably a lot of lonely gorgeous, talented women who could really use a friend! Maybe if I can get over all of this insecurity nonsense, then I'll actually be able to BE a friend, one who befriends out of love and not self-obsessed fear."

That is so ME! Both these ladies have described what I have been thinking lately. I can't tell you how often I experience fear and anxiety about what people are going to think of me. I mean, I know I'm a people pleaser, but this is crazy. Often, its not even about pleasing people, but about what people are going to think of me. Oh my word!

For as long as I can remember, I have had people make comments about my physical body. I struggle people. I struggle with my weight. Some of it is emotional eating. Some of it is lack of exercise, and some of it is some hormonal imbalance. It hurts and stinks. But I think I have let people's comments on my body affect how I am inside too. Just to give you an idea of things that have been said that have shaped me:

In elementary school, I wrote a speech about wanting to be a gymnast or be in a circus, not sure which, a friend had told her mom, and then reported back to me that her mom said I was not skinny enough to do that profession.

In elementary school, I was dancing around in the cloak room, and two girls, friends, told me that my bum jiggled when I danced.

In grade 4, my pediatrician, told my mother I was overweight, and needed to exercise more, I got my first exercise video.

In middle school, we went on vacation with family, we went to buy a bathing suit, and I tried on a two piece, my aunt and uncle chuckled at my belly protruding....needless to say I bought a one piece.

In high school, I was asked how it felt to be, " fat like you are."

In college, a guy friend told me he preferred to date skinny girls.

As a grown and married woman, I had an Uncle use me as an example as to why a woman shouldn't be a firefighter. " Would she be able to carry her, down the stairs."

CUTTING WORDS! I let these words decide what I should and shouldn't do. I decided that I wasn't very good at sports. I decided that I didn't like to dance. To this day, I will only dance in the privacy of my own home.

I get nervous about about meeting people and what they will think? I get nervous about seeing people I haven't seen in a long time. Why? Because I had lost a bunch of weight, met these people, and now have gained some/half the weight back. What will they think?

I've avoided pictures like the plague, not even wanting to look at myself, for fear of disappointment and anxiety over how I look.

There are times when I consider NOT going to see people or getting together with people because of my self consciousness.

BUT I'm realizing that I am so much more than my weight and my insecurities. I always knew that, but now I'm beginning to act on that. I don't want to limit myself anymore. I want to live this life God has given me and enjoy it. I want pictures to document my time with my kids. I want to laugh and dance around! I want to enjoy my family and the people I'm with, regardless of what they think of me. Perhaps even finding the confidence to call them out on any future insensitive comments.

I want my life to be based and built on more than what other people think or say of me. I am so much more than that. I want to believe that who I am and what I look like, is more important than what magazines and tv and other people have to say about who I am and what I look like.

I'm choosing to believe that God made me good. That God has made me special and for a specific purpose. I'm choosing to believe Jeremiah 1:5

1. God formed me
2. God consecrated me
3. God appointed me

" Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations. "

Lest you think I've only ever received negative comments, I haven't. I'd like to thank my aquatics activities instructor in college, who encouraged me and spoke truth to me, when I doubted myself. I have a husband who has known me at my skinniest and at my heaviest and has always told me I was beautiful and special.

I'm resolving to be ME! In all my talents, gifts, faults and vices. I'm resolving to try my best, to step outside of the box I've built around myself, letting God give me glimpses of who He has made me to be, as I stop looking at the inconsequential, and superficial values I've been trying to attain.

I'm resolving to be AUTHENTICALLY ME!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Scrape the Plate Good!

So, I've been reading Priscilla Shirer's book The Resolution for Women. In it, she describes how over a delicious chocolate cake, and some awesome girl talk, she realized that she was not living her life to God's fullest. She was discontent, and rushing through, not savoring each moment like she was the chocolate cake she was partaking. I so can identify with her.

Today, during the live simulcast, she was joined by 2 other women and all mentionned LOVING chocolate. Her cousin was touted as being the queen of chocolate ( or something to that effect) and so I said that I would use my blog to post my favorite chocolate recipe, and hopefully, some of the women will join me in sharing their favorite chocolate treats!

It's hard to live lives of contentment. Let's remind ourselves to savor our lives, both the good and the not so good, as we do some of our favorite treats! Without Further Ado:

1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup of cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup water
6 Tablespoons oil
1 Tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Mix all ingredients until well combined. Pour into an 8x8 greased pan. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.

* For frosting chocolate cakes, you could go with a chocolate frosting, but my favorite is cream cheese frosting and my family's favorite is peanut butter frosting.

Oh, and just because I'm in the mood and I had typed this up for my sister today, here is another chocolate recipe!

2 T salted butter
6oz semisweet chocolate chips (1 c)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs separated
2 T sugar
1/2 c heavy cream

1. Make a double boiler by setting a metal bowl on top of a medium saucepan filled with a couple inches of water. Add the butter to the bowl and then set the heat to low. When the butter has melted, add the chocolate chips. When the chips are melted, add the vanilla. Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in the egg yolks.

2. In separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they form softpeaks. Stir egg whites into the chocolate mixture.

3. In another medium bowl, combine sugar with the cream, and then whip the cream until stiff. Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate.

* Mousse will be quite soft at this point, but will definitely set up to a chilled pudding consistency after its been in the fridge for a while.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hopefully back in business!

Well, after the last repairs, my computer would only stay on for 20 minutes, so hopefully, this last repair will be a success.

The past two weeks without the computer have been good. I can still check my e-mail, facebook, etc. with my itouch, but I do love a full screen.

Anyway, school is going well and we are halfway through our third week. I am loving My Father's World curriculum. I love the book basket recommendations, the activities and the flexibility we have.

I'm at a loss of what to post right now, but stay tuned. I have a few ideas floating in my head. I'm looking forward to hopefully posting more regularly.

Friday, August 19, 2011

What we've been up to.

It has been crazy around here. Naomi has hit the terrible 3's, and has kept me on my toes. We have had water poured on the laptop, i-pod flushed down the toilet and the cordless phone throne into the pool, as well as deliberately pulling down her pants and peeing on her bed. I don't know what has gotten into her, other than finally processing and maybe voicing some displeasure at our recent move, coupled with some developmental changes and a new sense of independence and individuality. Whatever it is, we are hoping that this phase is a short one, and we can get back to enjoying our spunky little princess without the fear of destruction and extra laundry. On the flip side, Naomi has me laughing with some of her expressions. Pretty please with a cherry on top being one of them, but my favorite is her cupping my face in her hands and telling me that I am the best mom in the whole wide world. Melt my heart! I'm also enjoying her participation in school. While I haven't received her curriculum, I've improvised, and she is enjoying her A is for apple week, as well as practising her French.

Simeon started school earlier this week. I finally received all of his curriculum and he begged to start the next day. What a nice change from the complaining and begging at times to go to public school. Our first few days have been nice, intensive,but enjoyable. I am still "learning" the curriculum I've chosen, but am happy with the flow, content and skills being taught. Simeon has been so thoughtful lately, it has really made being around him an extra pleasure. I'm so thankful for these glimpses of what a kind, generous and helpful man he is becoming. How can I not melt when receiving a picture that states his love for me?

Trisha has been busy with work and being an extra in a movie. She seems to be enjoying it. Wednesday is the day she is moving into her dorm on campus. She is really looking forward to that. Tomorrow, we are having a last hurrah party for her and her friends. Speaking of which, I need to get baking!

Finally, Rich and I have been busy around the house. Last weekend, my mil took the kids overnight, and it was nice to spend some quality time together. We watched a movie on Saturday night (My Date With Drew- an off beat documentary about a guy who gave himself 30 days and a small budget to get a date with Drew Barrymore), had a nice breakfast on Saturday morning, followed by a very productive blueberry picking session. 13 cups in an hour. I just love the wild blueberries. It was nice to then run some errands without worrying about a child not wanting to follow, nor having to buckle and unbuckle out of car seats. We were very glad to see them afterwards though. It was a little weird to not have either of the little ones with us.

As for me, well, home school is something I am passionate about, but the first few weeks always drain me, as I look to find balance and some kind of routine that works for all of us.

God has been speaking to me frequently, in the small ordinary moments, which just makes him feel that much closer and involved in my life. This morning, I was asking God about some things I've been thinking about. Some things I've been reevaluating and questioning, wondering if I was following His will for my life or not. I just was so thankful for his answers. I love when I ask God a question, and then, whether it be in the bible or in a devotional he answers. In this case, the answer came as a confirmation from Oswald Chamber's My Utmost for His Highest the date being Aug. 19th. It was nice to read that introspection and self consciousness is not a sin, but rather a tool that can lead us closer to Jesus as we turn to Him, for His wisdom and discernment. I am so thankful for a God who wants to be involved in the intimate details and situations in my life!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

What I'm learning...

It's funny, how God has been teaching me through the land. I have been researching how to prune and take care of the blackberry bushes and apple tree we have on our land. Here are some of my thoughts.

Pruning helps to cause a tree or bush to be more fruitful, more effective at what it does. When pruning, we take away branches or canes that suck life out of the plant,and cause it to bear little or mediocre fruit. Pruning causes the plant to channel its energy more effectively into the parts that will bear fruit. God does the same thing. He may remove things in our lives,things that are in and of themselves not bad, but that may hinder our ability to bear fruit for the kingdom. Things that left untouched, may cause disease or attract pestilence. Pruning in our lives is always for our own good.

As I was in the process of cleaning out/pruning our blackberry patch yesterday, I was attacked by the thorns on the bush. Blackberries are VICIOUS! I was wondering if I could make a parallel between the brutality of the blackberry bushes and my spiritual life, and it wasn't long before it came to me. So many times, I lash back at God as He prunes. He's simply trying to make me better, but I get all angry and bristly with Him. It's like the blackberry bushes. As I pull on the dead canes, to make room for the new ones, as I attempt to trim and make them more productive, they scratch and tear and prick. It doesn't stop me from my task, but doesn't make it pleasant. I wonder if God ever wishes we would simply let him prune without lashing out in frustration or sadness? It certainly would make it more pleasant for Him and for us, if we let Him work without getting all bristly and thorny.

Finally, as I was sitting, attempting to do my devotions this morning, I listened to Naomi, almost three yelling at Simeon, " Me do, I do it, I can do it!" I was reminded off how often, when God is trying to teach me something I have that same toddler attitude. I want to do it by myself. I don't think I need anyone else's help, direction or guidance. I was once again challenged, to watch my attitude when someone approaches me, trying to teach me something.

I am just so thankful for a God who cares about me, and will meet me in the mundane everyday tasks, to teach me about Him and about myself!

Saturday, July 30, 2011


As we were driving around our new stomping grounds yesterday, Rich turned the van around and pulled over to the side of the road. I wondered what he was up to, until he came back to the car with a handful of blueberries. He boasted of bushes loaded with wild blueberries.

This morning, with the kids in tow, we went picking. In under an hour we picked 10 cups of blueberries and left plenty on the bushes. I'm thrilled to not have to go to the blueberry farm this year. Instead, we got our berries free.

We do have blueberries on our own land, but they are in a very wet and boggy area. After talking this morning, I think, we are going to try to move the bushes to a drier,sunnier area, and see if they will produce more berries for us. If not, we'll buy bushes and have our own blueberry patch.

I'm again, so thankful for how God provides. How He knows what thrills us, and indulges us with so many of His blessings. I mean, He doesn't always give us what we want, but other times, He goes above and beyond our wildest dreams.

I was reminded of times with my grandparents this morning too. Traipsing through the woods berry picking with them, at their cottage. I can do this in my backyard...CRAZY!

I think the best part of the trip, was when Simeon stated he could see himself berry picking with his kids in 20/30 years from now! Be still my heart! My son is enjoying and planning on continuing the legacy of berry picking. Oh, how I hope that I can partake in berry picking with my son and grandchildren!

Even as I write this, I realize, that I also hope that my son, and grandchildren will share in a spiritual legacy. My prayer is that the love for God, His word, His ways is also passed down through the generations. That they would expeience the love of God's bounty, not only physically, but also spiritually.

Thank you Jesus, for the blessings of berry picking!

Friday, July 29, 2011


I was reading Oswald Chamber's My Utmost for His Highest, yesterday. What struck me is that God is more interested in the process than the end results, where as I am more interested in results than in the process. I've been reading Ann Voskamp's blog . I'm fascinated by her relationship with God and her willingness to partake in every moment of the here and now. She has inspired me, and with Oswald Chamber's promptings as well, it is what I am asking God to help me do. I'm asking that He help me to live fully in the moment. To be aware of Him throughout the "ordinariness" of my day. I want to enjoy the process, rather than missing the gifts of now, for the hopes of tomorrow. We'll see how I do.

Today's blessings:

I'm looking forward to a woman's craft night in a couple of weeks. A lady I met in my home school group has invited me to partake in this bimonthly get-together of crafts and chit chat. I'm hoping to make connections in my new town. The neat thing is that most of the women are also homeschooling moms, so I'm also hoping that a few of the women have boys the same age as Simeon. I'd love for him to develop some closer relationships.

I'm just amazed at how this move has brought some opportunities my way, things I've been hoping and praying for, but didn't know whether or not God would allow. I'm looking forward to seeing more of the treasures He has prepared for me.

Finally, years ago, I had perfected my kettle corn recipe. It's not something I made often, but it was a nice, inexpensive summer time treat. The problem came when we changed our old stove for a glass top stove. I could no longer make my kettle corn. Well, the house we bought had a propane stove. I've been looking forward to trying my hand at kettle corn again. I finally indulged this afternoon while the children were resting. I figured it would be a nice treat for snack time. The verdict is that the kettle corn is just as good as I remember it. If I had a camera, and we hadn't eaten it all up, I would take a picture for you. Maybe next time I make some I will. Following is the recipe, if you want to try your hand at it.

Kettle Corn

1/2 c. popcorn kernels
1/4 c. canola/corn/vegetable oil
1/4 c. sugar
3/4 t. salt

Heat your oil in a pot over medium heat. As you are heating, place 3 kernel's of corn in your oil. You'll know that your oil is ready to go when all three kernel's pop. Pour your popcorn in the pot, and then top it with the sugar and salt. Put the cover on and shake. I shake for 20 seconds right on the burner, and then off the burner for 5 seconds, until the popping has slowed significantly. After the popcorn is done, I transfer it to a bowl, so that the sugar coating does not burn. Let it cool and toss to break apart the popcorn and enjoy! It's a quick, sweet and salty treat, that reminds me of the fair.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Move...

Rich and I have finally done what we have talked about for the past 11 years. We bought our first home. What a blessing it has been. We had all kinds of things we were hoping for, and honestly, for a while, I was not sure that we were going to be able to buy a house. What with the financial restrictions we put on ourselves ( the bank would have loaned us far more than we felt comfortable with). Living in New England comes with a price, especially when close to major metropolitan areas, but God has blessed us abundantly.

On July 16Th, we moved to our little homestead. It's a 4 bedroom 1 1/2 bathroom house on 1.57 acres of land, agricultural land. Rich and I are thrilled with being able to expand our tiny garden. We are looking at getting apple trees, raspberry bushes, strawberry plants, high blueberry bushes rhubarb and more. Some of the bonuses we have found since moving is that we have a walnut tree, that we will be able to harvest, or at least try to harvest. We also have some blackberry bushes on the perimeter of the property.

It has been so exciting and exhilarating to spend time outside with the kids, working on our land. The people who sold us the land had planted some tomato and pepper plants. We had told them that they were more than welcome to the fruit, since they planted them. ( They live across the street) I also had told them, that I really didn't have the time or energy this year to work in the garden. I've been trying to get the inside of the house settled and ready for the upcoming home school year. ( as a side note, I now have a home school room that I'm thrilled about.) Anyway, I felt so bad at how awful the garden looked that I took the kids into the garden and we did some weeding. It took a lot less than I expected to restore some order, and it was so fun to do with the kids.

Some of the highlights of the past week:

1. Introducing the kids to caterpillars and to the joys of those furry little creatures. Naomi was much bolder than Simeon, but preferred holding the caterpillar only if she had a garden glove on. She did however enjoy petting it. Simeon on the other hand, wouldn't try holding it without a glove and barely managed to pet it. Ah, the beauty of caterpillars.

2. Picking blackberries from our own bushes. Blackberries are just coming into season here. I noticed yesterday evening that there were a few berries that were ready to pick. In all, we probably picked about 10 berries, but Naomi LOVED it! Simeon doesn't like blackberries, and Rich doesn't really care for them. It was so funny and exciting to hear Naomi say that she wanted to go blackberry picking today.

3. Understanding a little more about what God does and why. I've been researching how to care for the lone apple tree and the blackberry bushes we have on our property. I have been reading a ton about pruning. It's interesting to me,that in order to get more fruit and better quality fruit, one has to prune the tree/bush. Lately, God has been prompting me to give something up, and well I have been a little resistant, without really knowing why, its just not something I've wanted to give up. Yet, here I am realizing, that He wants to prune that area, so that I can be more productive and efficient. Never thought I'd learn more about Jesus by buying a house, but I have and I'm just so thankful for His grace amidst the chaos and ordinariness of my days.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Negligent and Inconsistent

I have been negligent and inconsistent with this blog, and for that I apologize. Things here are going well. Naomi and Simeon are keeping me on my toes. Simeon has recently finished 2nd grade and is enjoying a freer schedule. We are continuing reading and science throughout most of the summer. He has also discovered a love for basketball this spring. Its been fun shooting some hoops with him. Naomi is one verbal little spunk ball. She has an answer for everything, and we are working on what is appropriate or not. Trisha is getting ready to graduate from high school and is looking at starting University in the fall. Where did the time go? She was in 2nd grade herself when Rich and I first married.
Rich is busy at work. The big news however is that we put an offer in on a house. We are waiting to hear from the sellers to see if they accept our offer. We are hopeful and yet trying to keep ourselves from getting too excited. There are still home inspections to pass before this is written in stone.
I will try to update a little more frequently. Maybe I can use some of my nervous energy by keeping the blog up...then again, there is some decluttering to do, in case we do move!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Strawberry and Chocolate Stuffed French Toast

I wanted breakfast for supper and wanted to be inspired. I saw a recipe with this title, read it and then made it my own with what I had at home. Verdict? YUMMY!

8 slices sandwich bread ( I used whole grain)
3 large eggs
1 C of milk ( I could have used 1/2 a cup and it would have been sufficient)
4 T cream cheese
4 T semi sweet chocolate chips
8 oz strawberries, sliced ( I only had 5, but 8 would have been better.)
powdered sugar for sprinkling

Spread 1 T of cream cheese on 4 slices of bread, then sprinkle each of the 4 slices with 1 T of chocolate chips. Place enough strawberry slices to cover the slice of bread. Place the 4 remaining slices of bread on top to form sandwich. Combine milk and eggs. Preheat skillet. Dip each sandwich into the egg mixture until sufficiently coated. ( If you like your french toast soggy, use the full cup of milk and soak the sandwich until saturated.) Cook 3-4 minutes on each side. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Devour!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

So Proud!

I'm so proud of Simeon. Today he did a cumulative test on all we have learned in Botany over the past year and he did pretty good. Considering he is in 2nd grade, getting 74% on a test that included information from last Spring is GREAT! Way to go Sim! We are looking forward to finishing second grade studying space/astronomy for science!

I'm also proud because today, he learned to tie his shoes. I've been pretty easy going about it, but it has been bothering Rich, AND Simeon is almost 8. He took up the initiative on his own today and he now knows how to tie them on his own. He just has to practice to get it down pat, and figure out how to tie the laces tightly.

My little Haitian munchkin is turning in to a young man. Time goes way to quickly!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What Is My Word?

A fellow blogger,Wendy, posted a word that was going to be her focus for the coming year. I liked the idea, and have been thinking of what my word could be. There are two words that I have been thinking on. I'll share one of them for today's blog, and the other one in a different post.

Consistent: always acting or behaving in the same way; continue to happen or develop in the same way

Here are ways I hope to live up to the word consistent:

In my marriage: I want to make a point of spending time with Rich doing things we enjoy together. Too often, once the kids go to bed, I get on the computer and before I know it, its bedtime. I'd like to remedy that by being more consistent in engaging in mutually interesting activities, puzzles, music, games, TV show we both enjoy, etc

In my exercise:I'm a great starter, but not so good at following through. I want to be more consistent, and part of that is making attainable goals for myself and not being all or nothing. I'd like to get 30 minutes of cardio and 20 minutes of weight training at least 4 times a week, preferably 6.

In my spiritual life: Again, I'd like to make sure that my bible is being read and that I'm spending time in prayer everyday. I seem to do okay during the week, but weekends, when I think I'd have more time, but it is often the weekend, where my consistency fails me. I have also committed to Beth Moore's Scripture Memory team this year. The goal is to memorize 24 Scriptures in 12 months. So far so good, but I want to continue to be consistent over the next year. It doesn't take much to throw me off my game, and I need to make sure that this area of my life is a priority or else everything else falls apart. I SO need Jesus.

In My Home: Keep up with the laundry, the dishes and the overall care of the home. I tend to start a cleaning routine and do well for a couple of weeks and then fizzle out. It doesn't take much to distract me and get me thinking of something else. I'd like to be more consistent in the overall care of my home.

In My Parenting: This is a big one. I have great ideas, start them, and then fall short of completing them. I'd like to make sure I'm engaging my kids more regularly, outside of regular parenting and home school. I'd like to play outside more often, have more dance parties, bake more with them, do more crafts and art activities. I want to do more out of the ordinary things with them, making special memories all year long, rather than simply during the holidays.I also want to be more consistent in my discipline, in remaining calm and uninvolved emotionally, so that my yelling decreases and my effectiveness increases.

With Myself: I'd like to do more of what I enjoy. Take a baking/cooking class or two, finish a book series I've started, buy clothes that make me feel good, plan more girls nights out, develop more friendships. Too often, I give my all in other areas of my life, and then have nothing left, and feel drained.

There you go! One of the two words I'd like to focus 2011 on.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Baking Report and Snowstorm traditions

I am so excited and thrilled with the progress of my sourdough. Yesterday, my starter was bubbling away, completely happy with growing. Tonight, will mark the beginning of the fourth day of my starter. I can't wait until this weekend. I think the first baked good I will make is sourdoughwaffles. They sound intriguing to me and my children love waffles. I've also been pouring through my recipe book, looking for sourdough bread recipes. Oooo, I can't wait!

In other baking news, I'm making another loaf of my rye raisin bread. It was a hit, and we loved it, so I have some dough proofing as I type.

Yesterday, I also made some dark whole wheat rolls. They were so yummy and sweet. The crust was soft however, and Rich and I are quite partial to a crusty, french dough style crust on our rolls. The solution is easy, I will bake the rolls at a higher temperature, for less time, with a steam bath. I can't wait to try it again. I froze have the dough already shaped, so those yummy rolls are but a few hours away on any given night of the week.

Finally a question. Today, snow is being dumped on our heads. School has been cancelled and the outdoors is a beautiful white. Years ago, on such a snowy morning, I decided to make some cinnamon buns. Once they were made, I waded through the snow to my neighbors homes and brought them homemade cinnamon buns. It has become a tradition that I enjoy and look forward to. I was thinking of forgoing the tradition this year, but just writing about it has convinced me to head towards the kitchen. A snowstorm is just not the same without the smell of homemade cinnamon buns.

Do you have snowstorm traditions? Anything you plan on doing when it snows. I'd love hear about your snowy days.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sourdough Starter

Before Naomi came home, I was making sourdough bread regularly. A friend had given me some starter, and I was doing fairly well at keeping it going. A precious baby girl changed all of that. I have been itching to get back to baking with sourdough, but I don't want to spend the money on buying the starter.
I've always been one to enjoy some playing and experimenting in the kitchen,and so yesterday I set out to make my own sourdough starter. I'm hoping it will work. I had tried before, but that batch was an epic fail. I'm hoping that the detailed chapter in the King Arthur's Whole Grain Baking will make all the difference.I'll try to chronicle my progress with the starter.

Yesterday I baked my first loaf of Raisin Rye Bread. It was delicious fresh, but I was tickled pink with the toast it made this morning. The first time I had Raisin Rye Bread was 2 years ago at an Inn Rich and I had visited. It was so good, but I just hadn't found a recipe for it. I'm so glad that I found this recipe. We will be eating more of this bread in the near future. I'll try to post pictures of my next loaf and entice you all with beauty of this loaf.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Scones and the Next Michael Jackson

We celebrated Rich's homecoming this morning with drop scones. My aunt gave this recipe to my Mom when we were little, and we have all been enjoying this little clouds of fluff ever since. They are best right out of the oven, with a bit of butter and homemade jam. Our favorites are homemade raspberry and blueberry.

2 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
1/4 C. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
pinch salt
1/2 C. butter or margarine
1 scant cup of milk

Cut butter into first 4 ingredients,until coarse crumbs are formed. Add milk. Mix until just moist. Drop on ungreased pan by Tablespoonfuls. Bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Now for the next Michael! Simeon just LOVES to dance. During his recital last year, the dance company performed a Michael Jackson medley and he just loved it. He has been obsessed with the music and dancing of Michael Jackson ever since. The only rule I have is that there is to be no crotch grabbing. The spotlight of Christmas this year is that Trisha bought him the Wii Michael Jackson game. Since Naomi had a pic spotlighted on the blog yesterday, I figured I'd give you all a glimpse of the next Michael.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Forgot the pictures...

Last night I started a 2 day process pizza dough. The dough is SO yummy. I was all set to post pictures of my beautiful pizzas, but the ranks were hungry, and my mother in law was invited for supper and we were all so excited about Rich coming home...and pictures.

Posting what I'm cooking/baking on my blog has been inspirational though. The problem is trying to keep eating healthy AND keep baking. I was hoping to make something special for Rich's homecoming in the morning, but I don't have all the ingredients to the fancier recipes. I'll have to settle for some type of muffin, or maybe some scones with my homemade jam. Whatever the baked good is, I'll try to get pictures up.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these pics of little miss and her Christmas crafts. I was more intentional about doing some crafty things with her around Christmas and she absolutely LOVES it. Everytime my mother in law comes over she shows off her work. I guess crafts are a hit with her. So without further ado:

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tea Time

My friend, Ruthe,came over for tea today. It was so nice to get to see her again, as our lives have both gotten busy, and we have neglected getting together. What goes better with company and tea? Something SWEET! So I tried another recipe from my Whole Grain Baking book. This time, I made Crumb Coffeecake. One word: YUM! It was absolutely delicious. While the recipe did include both some unbleached all-purpose flour and some bread flour, the majority of the flour was Whole Wheat, both of the pastry variety and of the white wheat variety. It was delicious, my friend had no clue it was whole grain until I told her, and it was a hit with the kids. Lest you think I would indulge in the rest of those goodies all by myself, I'll have you know I didn't keep all of the cake. Ruthe went home with some for her family and I brought my in-laws some of the goodies. Definitely a make again recipe. I think Rich is looking forward to tasting some of this after he gets home tomorrow night.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Banana-Oat Pancakes

My cookbooks arrived yesterday. I ordered Whole Grain Baking by the King Arthur Flour Company, as well as Once a Month Cooking: Family Favorites. Both Cookbooks look great, but I haven't made anything out of the Once a Month Cooking yet.More on that in later posts.
After Rich left yesterday, and the kids were put to bed, I started pouring through the Whole Grain Baking. My, oh my! I can't wait to try some of these yummy recipes and play around with healthier whole grains for the family. This morning was my first try. Please forgive the blurry pictures. I guess I need to work on my picture taking skills. Overall, Naomi and I liked the pancakes. Simeon said he didn't like the texture of the pancakes. He described them as mushy, but I found them moist. He is a hard one to please when it comes to food textures though.

Yield: 10 pancakes

3 small(9.5 ounces)bananas, mashed
2 T ( 1 oz) unsalted butter, melted
1 T lemon juice
1 T sugar
2 eggs
1 C ( 3 1/4 oz) oat flour (used a coffee grinder to grind old fashioned rolled oats)
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground nutmeg

Stir together the mashed bananas, butter, lemon juice, and sugar in a medium bowl. Beat in the eggs.

I guess this is where I realize that I don't read instructions too well. Though the recipe states to mix the rest of the dry ingredients with the oat flour, I went ahead and added it to the wet ingredients. Ha!

Whisk together the oat flour, baking soda, salt and spices in a small bowl.

Form a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Stir the batter just until the dry ingredients are thoroughly moistened. Check to be sure the batter is thin enough for your pancakes: you may need to add a touch of milk or water. Let the batter sit for 10 minutes before using.

Heat a nonstick griddle if you have one, or a heavy skillet, preferably cast iron. If your surface is not nonstick, brush it lightly with vegetable oil. when the surface of your pan is hot enough that a drop of water sputters across it, give the pan a quick swipe with a paper towel to remove excess oil, and spoon the batter onto the hot surface, 1/4 c at a time. Let the pancakes cook on the first side until bubbles begin to form around the edges of the cakes, 3-4 minutes. you may need to adjust the heat up or down to get the pancakes to cook through without scorching the surface or being too pale. When the cakes are just beginning to set,

flip them and let them finish cooking on the second side, until they're golden brown on both sides, about 1 1/2 minutes more. Serve the pancakes immediately, or keep them warm in a 200F oven.

For two pancakes, this recipe packs in 18g of whole grains, 6 grams of protein and 3g of fiber. Not bad if you ask me! Yummy too!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Culinary Adventures

I love to bake and cook. I have been in a rut for the past TOO LONG. I miss making menus and buying from organized grocery lists, knowing exactly what to cook, and yet, I have had no motivation. This balancing game of housework, child rearing, homeschooling, trying to exercise, and keeping up with my relationship with Jesus is just too much! BUT, I have felt the passion and desire rekindling, and so I've enjoyed some experimenting in the past few weeks. I've often thought to take pictures of the process, but it hasn't happened. Hopefully it will soon. I'm actually considering taking some cooking classes that I have found close by. They are kind of pricy, but oh, the thought of perfecting my baguettes and the thought of learning how to make sumptuous homemade pasta is SO alluring. In the meantime, I'll share some of what I've been up to, and will try to get some pictures up the next time I bake. One of the things I've been doing is cooking with more whole grains. I'm actually waiting for a whole grain baking book, and I hope it comes in the next few days. Who am I kidding? I hope it comes today, so that I can revel in it while Rich is gone to Philly for work this week. There's nothing like pouring over a cookbook.

Okay, I've made:
Orange Cranberry Muffins
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins
Applesauce Banana Muffins
Homemade Potstickers
Banana Blueberry Bran Muffins

All were YUM! All had mostly healthy ingredients, and my kids ate them. Yeah!