Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Wedding Bells Were Ringing

This past weekend was filled with wedding festivities. My dear cousin Ashley got married and Layla and Julius were both in the wedding. They did a good job walking down the isle and being quiet during the ceremony. Later, Layla really tore it up on the dance floor! There were many times she was the only one out there. Julius danced too and tried his hand at the "Cupid's Shuffle." He did pretty good if you ask me!

Layla asked at the reception if Ashley had a baby in her belly now that she was married. Kids are so literal! We have had to have many talks about the order of marriage and childbirth.

Overall, we had a great time. It was wonderful seeing our relatives from out of town. The kids had a blast playing with their cousins and the wedding was beautiful. Ashley was a gorgeous bride! Congratulations Ashley and Gary! We wish you the happiest and best of marriages!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

There's No Crying in Baseball

Well, my friends, this week marked the beginning of letting Gunnar cry himself to sleep. For the past six months, Gunnar and I have enjoyed a peaceful agreement that I rock him to sleep and he stays asleep when I lay him down. That's the deal. Well, about two weeks ago, Gunnar became a little shaky on his end of the deal. By the beginning of this week I was rocking him and laying him down several times before successfully getting him to nap. So I had no choice.

I always hate this transition. I don't like to hear babies cry. Not even stranger babies in the grocery store, let alone my own flesh and blood. It gets me all in a panic. But I also know that a few tough days of sticking it out will result in much smoother nap and bedtimes. So yesterday we let the crying begin!

I use a technique suggested by my BFF from high school. Some brilliant guy coined the technique, but I can't for the life of me remember his name(sorry brilliant guy). I just know that you lay your baby down and reassure him that you love him and it is "nigh-nigh" time. You leave the room and check the clock. You do everything possible to distract yourself the next five minutes. Do not even think of re-entering that room until five minutes have past.

If after 5 minutes your little lovely is still hollering, then go back, rub his belly and reassure him that you love him. Leave the room and check the clock. Now you get really busy distracting yourself because 10 minutes feels like an eternity if your baby cakes is screaming. Most babes give up and fall asleep during this time, but if yours are especially stubborn, like mine, you may need to repeat and stay out of the room for 15 minutes. If needed, repeat for 20 minutes.

So my nerves are a little rattled from the screams and cries of the past two days, but improvements are being made. Gunnar is a touch spoiled and a mama's boy, so he's heart broken that his mama is making him fall asleep all by himself! Poor kiddo.

For you stellar parents out there who never got into the habit of rocking your baby to sleep, I congratulate you on your will power. I'm a softy when it comes to sleeping babes, plus it can be quite peaceful escaping to the nursery to sit down for a few minutes and rock in my nice rocking chair with a cozy bundle in my arms! So I enjoyed my fun while it lasted, and now it is time to toughen up.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

First Tooth

Gunnar had his first tooth make it's grand appearance on Friday night. Yippee? Not really. Teeth are the enemy of the nursing mother! Layla's first tooth came at 10 months old, Julius' at 7 months old and Gunnar's at 6 months old. At this rate, the sixth child will be born with a tooth!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Oatmeal Bread

For those who have not entered the world of homemade bread making, here's a great recipe to get started with. It comes from a wonderful food blog, the Homesick Texan. Take a peek over at her blog for some "delish" recipes and some southern hospitality.

This bread is great for beginners because it requires no kneading and seems pretty fail proof. It makes two nice size loaves, so plan on sharing one if your household is small. It tastes great fresh from the oven and makes fabulous toast with a little butter and a smear of jam. It think you are going to like it!

Old Fashioned Oatmeal Bread

from Homesick Texan

2 cups of boiling milk
1 cup of oats, rolled or steel cut (not instant)
2 teaspoons of salt
1 egg
1/2 cup of honey
4 tablespoons of shortening
5-5 1/2 cups of flour
2 packets of yeast
1/2 cup of warm water

1. Add oatmeal to hot milk and let stand for two hours.
2. Dissolve yeast in warm water.
3. Mix yeast and other ingredients with oatmeal (start with five cups of flour and add more a little bit at a time until dough is smooth).
4. Form into loaves, and either fill two loaf pans or place in balls on a parchment-paper lined sheet.
5. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about an hour).
6. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes.

Notes from the Homesick Texan: While I usually balk at shortening, I wanted to be true to the recipe so I used Spectrum Organic Shortening. I also kneaded the bread, but as I mentioned—that isn't necessary. To make the bread pretty, you can brush the loaves with a milk wash (1 T of milk and 1 T of water) and then sprinkle oats over the top.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Peaches and Cream Pie

In an effort to use all of my peaches before they rotted, I decided to give this recipe a try. Anything with "peaches and cream" in the title sounds glorious and this baby lived up to all of our expectations. It was easy enough that Layla and Julius could help assemble it. They were so proud of themselves.

Go ahead and make it. You know you want to!

Peaches and Cream Pie

from Recipe Zaar

1¼ hours | 15 min prep


  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
  2. Place 3 cups fresh peaches into pie pastry.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix 1 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, and salt.
  4. Add eggs and sour cream.
  5. Blend well.
  6. Spoon mixture over peaches.
  7. In a separate bowl, combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup flour, and 1/4 cup butter until mixture resembles coarse meal.
  8. A pastry blender works well, but a fork will also work.
  9. Sprinkle meal mixture evenly over pie.
  10. Bake 60 minutes or until golden.

Nice and Flaky Single Pie Crust Recipe

1/2 cup cold butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. ice cold water

Mix together flour, sugar and salt. Cut in butter with pastry cutter, two knives or just your fingers until resembles crumbly meal. Drizzle ice water and mix together until forms dough. Shape into disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes or more. Roll out to fit your pie pan or just use your fingers to press dough into pie pan.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Just One of Those Days

Wednesday was just a "one of those days" kind of day. It started the night before when Nate and I headed to bed at a ridiculously late hour. So needless to say I started the morning out already in the hole. I was short and impatient with the kids, which does not make them anymore obedient(can I get an amen!). So they continued to be testy in response to my lovely attitude. Then when getting dressed, Layla pointed out her rash covered arms. After some time viewing Web MD slide shows of children's rashes and comparing them to her arms, I concluded she might have chicken pox. Oh great!

Talking with Nate on his lunch hour, I fought back tears. I was frustrated and overwhelmed. I hadn't had school time with the kids. I had pots of peeled tomatoes waiting to be made into chili and spaghetti sauce, and peaches lining the counters collecting an obnoxious amount of fruit flies. I was tired of trying to keep Layla away from Julius and Gunnar until we could figure out her mystery rash. The house was a mess and we had a 4:00 appointment with a realtor followed by an evening Bible study at church.

We cancelled the 4:00 appointment. I called a few ladies from church to let them know about Layla and that I wouldn't be attending. With many pleas to the Lord for help and patience I hobbled my way through school time, dinner, story time and bedtime. Just before heading to bed I decided to fold the clothes in the dryer. I opened the dryer door to discover ink all over. Oh boy, what a bedtime surprise.

As I took my shower that night I remembered my neighbor who just lost his wife and immediately my day took a new perspective. Compared to his recent days, my day was wonderful. I got to be home with my kids, teach them, preserve healthy and affordable food for my family, and learn a few things about rashes, hives, bug bites, etc. on Web MD. So what if Layla did end up with the chicken pox and so what if she spread it to the other kids. My children are alive and healthy, rashes and all.

It turns out Layla does not have chicken pox. Her mysterious rash disappeared by today. The tomatoes and peaches are all preserved and in the freezer. We successfully completed our first week of homeschooling, Nate cleaned the ink out of the dryer with nail polish remover, and hairspray is taking out some of the ink from our clothes. All that fussing, pouting, worrying and whining was all for nothing.

A few verses that I will be concentrating on next time I have "one of those days":

"Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ"
2 Corinthians 10:5

"He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint."
Isaiah 40: 29-31

"Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is thy faithfulness."
Lamentations 3:22, 23

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Best Granola

At the request of "Aunt Tonnie" here's a granola recipe that you will gladly ditch your four-dollars-a-box cereal for.

The Best Granola Recipe

6 cups of rolled or steel cut oats
3 cups of nuts (your choice, we like sliced almonds)
1 cup of wheat bran
1 cup flax seed meal
2 cups coconut
2 Tbsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
1 cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp. water
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with foil or parchment paper. In your biggest bowl mix together oats, nuts, wheat bran, flax seed meal, coconut and cinnamon. In a sauce pan combine remaining ingredients. Cook over medium heat until all ingredients are melted and mixed together. Remove from heat. Pour liquid mixture over dry ingredients. Mix until all of oat mixture is wet. Spread over cookie sheets. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and stir granola well. Return to oven for another 10 minutes or more. Just be careful not to burn. Allow granola to cool. Store in an airtight container for a few weeks. Don't worry, it won't last that long!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

New Habits in the Kitchen

The other day my mom and I were discussing the various things that we could cook, bake or make ourselves to save money and benefit from better nutrition. My mom was saying that she always used to make popovers instead of buying dinner rolls. She remarked that she was upset that she had gotten out of the habit and intended to start making them again this weekend.

I felt the same way the other day when I made a batch of pita bread. For some reason I had built up the process in my mind that it was going to be tough and tedious to make them. When I finished, I thought "that was easy" and made a commitment to make them more often.

There are many challenges we face today, regarding food and nutrition. Society tells us that we shouldn't spend more than 15 minutes ever in the kitchen. We are told that cooking and baking is hard and that you need all kinds of fancy equipment and special ingredients to make anything of value. We are told that it is easier, cheaper and better to buy our meals already prepared for us. We are told that we are too busy to take the time to prepare things ourselves. I know this because I believed these things for quite some time. Only did changes in circumstances and information lead me to change.

The truth is that it is valuable to spend time in the kitchen. You can prepare wonderful food with very little equipment and very basic ingredients. Preparing your own food saves you money and saves your health by limiting your intake of processed foods. Your time in the kitchen is beneficial to your health, your family and your wallet.

So here's the challenge. Find just one item in your diet that you normally buy and make it yourself. Just pick one for now. You can always add another in time once you have formed a new habit with the first one. A few possibilities could be bread, jam, salsa, pancakes, soup or broth. Mine for now is pita bread. You can make it yours too if you want. It's easy peasy, great tasting and sure beats the store-bought ones. You know, the kind with a long list of unpronounceable ingredients.

So here's the recipe from one of my favorite food blogs. Go ahead and give it a try. I think you'll be happy you did:)

Great Homemade Pitas

from Under the High Chair

1 tablespoon yeast
1 ¼ cup warm water

1 teaspoon salt
3- 3 ½ cups flour

Dissolve yeast in water for about 5 minutes in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add salt and 1 ½ cups flour and with the dough hook, beat to make a batter. Add additional flour until a rough, shaggy mass is formed. Knead 8 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. Add more flour if it is too sticky. *You can mix these ingredients in a bowl and knead the dough by hand if you don't have a stand mixer*

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into six pieces for large pitas or ten for smaller. I make all sorts of sizes to suit different snacks and meals. Form dough into balls, then flatten with a rolling pin into ¼ inch thick discs. Try and keep an even thickness as this is what helps them ‘puff’.

Let rest on the floured surface 30-40 minutes until slightly puffed.

Preheat oven to 425F.
With a large spatula, flip the rounds of dough upside down on to a b
aking sheet. Bake 10-15 minutes until light golden. Stick around for the first five minutes of baking when the pitas perform their magic and puff up from flat pancakes to proud, four inch high pitas.

These store for up to two days well wrapped or frozen for three weeks.

Stuff with your favorite ingredients. Ours is hummus. You can find it here. Enjoy! Let me know how your new habits are going!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Christian Mind

I just finished reading Harry Blamires' book, The Christian Mind. Very interesting, especially considering it was published in 1963. The book challenges Christians to evaluate whether they think about things in a Christian context or if they unknowingly think of things in a humanistic, worldly context. I was very convicted by this as I recognized areas of my thinking that was very humanistic and not Christian, especially in areas that I would consider not related to church. I found his postscript very interesting, especially considering this was written 46 years ago. I will share a few excerpts:

"No one can think deeply about the issue investigated in this book without sensing the possible approach of a crisis in Western civilization of a kind that is not being publicly anticipated. For, nuclear disaster apart, increasing mass-education, alongside increasing material well-being and accelerating pursuit of it, is going to make secularism consciously and articulately secularist. And this turn will challenge Christians to be more consciously and articulately Christian. The question is, will the Christians of the next fifty years, over and against strengthened secularism, deepen and clarify their Christian commitment in a withdrawn cultivation of personal morality and spirituality, thereby achieving the kind of uneasy co-existence of Church and State? Or will the Christian of the next fifty years deepen and clarify their Christian commitment at the intellectual and social levels too, meeting and challenging not only secularism's assault on personal morality and life of the soul, but also secularism's truncated and perverted view of the meaning of life and the purpose of social order?"

"This is a worrying matter; for the present climate of opinion makes it impossible to avoid taking these steps without opening oneself to charges of "bigotry", "dogmatism", "doctrinaire intolerance", and without incurring that most crushing of all contemporary smears - that one is being "holier-than-thou". It is scarcely surprising that we have taken many steps already towards withdrawn and departmentalized Christian spirituality severed from contemporary culture by the drugged inoperancy of the Christian mind. We shall take more such steps, under the influence of that habit of settling down quietly, if sometimes uncomfortably, with social corruptions and intellectual perversions which cannot be touched or condemned because good men and fellow-Christians are involved running or promulgating them, or because the political party which we support as a bulwark against tyranny and materialism has instructed us that these things are all right."

"The time has come at which Christians must take the initiative in order to avoid being outmaneuvered. What is demanded of us by the voice of the Church, if properly understood, is likewise dictated by tactical and prudential considerations. In short, it is better to define, establish, and nourish a Christian mind in freedom now, as a positive last effort to bring light and hope to our culture and our civilization, than to have to try and gather together the miserable fragments of Christian consciousness after triumphant secularism has finally bulldozed its way through the Church, as a body of thinking men and women."

So I challenge you to think about all areas of your life, especially those areas that don't seem that important, and evaluate whether you are thinking about them with a true Christian mind or in terms that the world has defined for you.