Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Traditions

Often people ask me if we have any Christmas Traditions.  My answer is usually, "Not really."  Then I start to tell the simple things we have done for the past 10-13 years...in fact these are our Christmas traditions.  Our children confirm these are traditions when they say when are we going to do...or are we going to do...like we did last year?

So, what are our traditions?

-Sister shopping trip.  My older sister and I take a day the first week of December and go Christmas shopping.   Most of the shopping gets done on this day.  We start early and end late.  It is a great time.
-Cutting down our Christmas tree.  As a little girl we would always go as a family and cut down our Christmas tree.  This has carried over into our married life.  The first weekend in December my entire family goes to a tree farm to get our trees. 
-Christmas chains.  The kids make paper chains to count down to Christmas (one link per day).  Each day they rip a chain off.
-Christmas puzzle countdown.  A dollar store puzzle broken down into 25 small stockings makes a great "advent calendar."  Each day the kids dump out the pieces and add it to their puzzle.  On Christmas morning they will add the last pieces to see the completed puzzle.  I wasn't thrilled with my choices this year.  I always love to get a winter scene or Christmas themed puzzle, but the best I could do for a dollar was toy story.  Oh, well!
-Making Christmas cookies.  Even Dad helps.  We try very hard to pick a night for all of to make cookies together.  More get made during the days leading up to Christmas, but it is a special time for us all to make cookies together.  I usually end up rolling and cutting while Dad and the kids decorate...they are much more artist than I and they cookies always come out great.
-Movie/Present wrapping night. I guess not truly a tradition because we don't do it every year.  I try my hardest to find a time when hubby and I can watch a Christmas movie and wrap presents together.  It is fun and a big help to me.  This year we watched "It's Wonderful Life" while we wrapped. 
-Christmas Music.  We listen to Christmas Music/CDs from Thanksgiving to Christmas.  Some of our favorites:  Christmas Carol, Harold the King, Christmas Sing-Along, Handel's Messiah, knvbc.com Revival Radio.
-Candlelight Christmas Eve dinner.  Who would have thought this would be my son's favorite?  Christmas day is full of visiting.  We wanted to choose a  time to have some quiet family time.  We chose Christmas Eve for this time.   Before our grandparents passed away we would sometimes visit them on Christmas Eve, but we always set aside time to have a quiet, candle lit dinner together.  Even when the kids came we kept this tradition.  We have added a few things like each person choosing a part of the meal and a birthday cake/dessert for Jesus.  We put candles in the cake with a little nativity scene and sing Happy Birthday.
-Christmas themed devotions/family Bible time.  My favorite Christmas book is The Christmas Story According to Luke.  I love the illustrations.  It is completely KJB scripture.  We always read the Christmas Story on Christmas morning.  I love this book because it illustrates what is being read.  It is great for pre-readers. This year I found a book at CBD.com that had a poster with stickers.  We have been using this in some of our morning devotions this week.
-Reading the Christmas story on Christmas morning.  (see above)
-Christmas breakfast.  Not much traditional about this except Sausage loaf.  My mom always made sausage loaf (kind of like breakfast sausage meatloaf) around Christmas time.  We usually have this as part of our breakfast.
-Christmas Day Visiting.  Our Christmas day is a busy one.  We start out opening gifts at home with the kids.  Then around 11:00 or 11:30 we head off to my husbands parent's for dinner and exchanging gifts.  We stay for a few hours then head over to my mom and dad's for a gift exchange desserts and light snacks.  It is a full day, but I love it.  I am very thankful we are close to both of our families for Christmas.   It would be hard not to see everyone on Christmas day. 
-The last and most important. Using Christmas as an opportunity.  Christmas is definitely a great time to point  lost people to Christ.  I like to use it as an opportunity in our home to point the kids to Christ.  To really emphasize what Jesus' birth truly meant for mankind.  In a practical way it is an opportunity to teach the children about giving.  How to give, how to receive, and manners.  I always tell the kids we are going to their grandmas, to give them their gifts.  Maybe they will have something for them and maybe they won't, but we are going to give to them.

I would love to hear your traditions or any ideas you may have.  I have learned that some traditions we purposefully make, but others just happen.  I think I like the ones that just happen best.

Have very Merry Christmas!!! Di

Friday, November 18, 2011

Oat Flour Corn Bread

I modified my regular cornbread recipe to make this.  It came out pretty good.  A little "oatmeally."  That didn't bother me...especially since I am not really supposed to have corn.  It was a good low fat, healthier version of cornbread. I cut the recipe in half and it made a small square pan (6x6ish).

Oat flour Corn Bread

1/4 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup oat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 TBL. unsweetened apple sauce
1/4 cup milk (I used almond milk)
1 TBL. water
1 egg

Beat egg.  Add milk, water, and apple sauce.  Mix in dry ingredients.  Stir well.  Bake in a greased pan at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

Note: 8 WW points whole recipe.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Get a Melissa & Doug 25% Off Coupon When You Take the North "Poll"

Melissa & Doug want you to tell them which of their educational toys you think is the best! Just click on the image below to place your vote in the North "Poll!" You'll Get a Melissa & Doug 25% Off Coupon** to use at MelissaAndDoug.com just for voting!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cottage Cheese Waffles

Growing up we never had sugar or white flour.  My mom strictly followed a hypoglycemic diet.  She was very creative and had some great tried and true recipes.  One recipe I always enjoyed was Cottage Cheese Pancakes. (She always made them as waffles).  These are and have been a life saver for me.  I have even used them to make grilled cheese.  The following is the original recipe.  My modified recipe is below.

Cottage Cheese Pancakes (Waffles)--Original recipe

6 eggs
1 1/2 c. cottage cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c. flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder

Blend all ingredients in a blender until very smooth.  The batter will be thin.  Pour onto a hot greased skillet.  For waffles, pour onto a preheated waffle iron.  These waffles steam for a long time.  When the steam slows down, gently lift the lid to check them.

Modified Version:

Cottage Cheese Waffles--low grain/no wheat

8 eggs
1 1/2 c. cottage cheese
1/4 c. Almond meal
1/4 c. Fresh ground oat flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder

Blend all ingredients in a blender until very smooth.  The batter will be thin.  Pour onto a preheated waffle iron. 

Some notes about Cottage Cheese Waffles:  The batter is thin.  The texture is not like a wheat flour waffle.  It is moist and will not be fluffy when finished cooking.  I omit the salt as cottage cheese is salty enough.  Top with natural jam, apple sauce, berries or just plain butter.  To make these completely "grain free" use almond meal to replace all of the flour (you must add the extra eggs found in my modified recipe).

I love foods you can make ahead and put in the freezer.  I am definitely a "freezer fanatic."  This morning I made a double batch.  WD and I each had some. I put the rest in freezer bags to use on other days.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Low Fat, Natural Sugar Granola

Eating a low sugar breakfast is always a challenge for me.   I like eggs, but not every morning.   Yogurt and smoothies get boring.  Making things ahead is such a help.  I like to be able to "grab" something in the morning.  Making a big breakfast takes too much time.  Over the weekend I made a triple batch of waffles and a large batch of breakfast burritos for the kids and hubby.  My plan was to prepare some food for me, but I ran out of time.  I took a few minutes before school to make a few things.  One was a low fat, natural sugar granola.

I combined a low fat granola recipe I had found a few years ago with a formula I found for Basic Granola (see http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/diy-recipe/diy-recipe-basic-granola-formula-011984).

Granola

1 cup pitted, chopped dates
2 ripe bananas, peeled and diced
1/3 cup hot water
1 TBL. vanilla extract
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cup each buckwheat groats, steel cut oats, sliced almonds, old fashioned oats
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 250.  In a blender, combine dates, water, vanilla and bananas.  Blend until smooth. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Pour banana mixture over dry ingredients.  Stir well.   Spread into 2 10 x15 baking pans in a single layer.    Bake until desired texture, stirring every 15-20 minutes. (usually about 2 hours).   When cool you can add dry fruit or additional nuts.

Note:  I turned the heat down to 175 after about an hour.  Then I cooked it for maybe another 1/2 hour.  Then I turned the oven off and left the granola in the oven for several hours to finish.

This is definitely not a "low carb" cereal.  It is however a very healthy substitute to most breakfast cereals out there.  Check out http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/diy-recipe/diy-recipe-basic-granola-formula-011984 for more "dry ingredient" ideas.  Enjoy!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Young Boy's Devotional Book

Since my son has been able to read, we have been having him read passages in the Bible each day.   I have tried different things.   In the beginning I marked a different verse for him to read each day.  Then as his reading progressed, I would give him longer portions.  Typically, I would make a daily reading schedule for him.  Using this method, he read through all four gospels and Proverbs.  This is a method that worked fairly well. 

There are pros and cons to this method.  It is good for him to simply get in the habit of reading the word of God each day.  At the same time, I want to encourage him to be retaining and applying what is appropriate for his reading/age level.  What I wanted for him was a devotional guide.  A book that would give him some scriptures to read along with some questions that corresponded with the passage. I didn't want a read this verse now here is a story to go along with it (like a Keys for Kids--which is a  good devotional book to do as a family in my opinion).  I wanted something that would challenge him to look more closely at the passage he read.  Something that would be a guide to how to read the Bible and retain what you read.

The other thing I wanted in a devotional guide was strictly King James material.  I am a King James Bible believer.  I don't want my children reading scriptures that are not from the KJB.  King James only material for children is very hard to find.   Our local Christian book store is very small.  I never really have found much there.  I don't like ordering things from on-line book stores for the kids becaus you never know what you are going to get. 

So what was my solution?  Make one. I thought since I know what I want for a devotional guide for my son, why not make one?  I finished my first section last week.  I am planning on writing each section on a young man in the Bible.  The first section is on Samuel.  It is time consuming, but serves a two fold purpose.  I have to study to write the guide (extra scripture study time for me) and a more purposeful devotion time for my son.   This is a trial.  We will be starting this Monday.   I am excited.  I wish I had had something like this when I first started reading my Bible daily.  (I probably could benefit from this now).

I would love to hear how others encourage their children's personal Bible reading/devotional time.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Back on track...I think

One of the reasons I started this blog was to keep track of my diet and recipes.  My nutritionist had put me on a "no grain/no sugar" diet due to my hypoglycemia.  I did well for about 3-4 months and was feeling well.  Then vacation hit.  For the past 2 months I have been eating poorly.  My body was telling me "you need to stop," but it was very hard to break the cycle.  What could I do?   Go back on my diet.  That is what to do.  Really, diet is how we eat.  It shouldn't be something I switch back and forth on.  I need to ultimately change me eating habits and stick with that forever.  Forever???  Never have any kind of grains forever????  I don't think I can do that realistically. 

I have decided to add some whole grains to my diet.  Not at every meal.  Maybe only one per day or less.  I have had brown rice and whole wheat pizza crust (which was surprisingly very yummy).  My mother-in-law also bought me some crackers that are gluten free/wheat free.  They are not grain free, but the only grain in them is rice.  I am going to use those as a treat.  We will see how it goes.  The best gauge for me is how I feel. 

I do not have a sensitivity (that I am aware of) to grains.  The whole point of my diet is to maintain an even sugar level.  I believe I can do this and still introduce some whole grains into my diet.  I will do my best to post the recipes I try and my progress. I am anxious to try buckwheat/steel cut oat granola and 100% buck wheat pancakes. 

The conclusion:  Eat right.  This is the only body I have.  I can't be useful to the Lord or my family if I don't take care of it.  It is the Lord's temple.  He doesn't want it full of junk, sluggish and unhealthy.  He can give me the strength to stay on track. 

"The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him."--Ps 28:7

Thursday, September 22, 2011

"My son, give me thine heart..."

"My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways."--Pr 23:26

I want my children's hearts.  I want them to confide in me.  I want them to know that I will always be there for their every need.  I want them to know that I will always give them a "listening ear."  I want a relationship where, as one seasoned mom put it, I "mesh" in their lives.  I want our home to be a place where they want to be.   I want to say, "My son, my daughter, give me your heart" and have them say, "Mom, you already have it."

That sounds so simple, but requires unselfishness on my part.  It requires my stopping to listen to...and try to follow...the huge explanation about some crazy invention that will never work in a million years.  Maybe it means that I have to skip my daily nap to have a birthday party for "baby" who is 100 years old because she has a birthday everyday.  If I want their heart, I have to show them that I want it. 

This is not to say my life needs to revolve around them or that I can only do what they want.  There must be a balance.  I definitely can improve on the giving of myself more.

The second part of the verse is hard.  Can I say, "Look what I am doing. Do it like this."  Do I want my children to have a devotional/prayer time like mine?  How about my testimony and witness?  What about my care, concern, compassion for others?  Should they be as "thoughtful" as I am?  That is scary!!!  Do I want them to speak to their siblings the way I speak to them or their dad?  Would I be happy if they obeyed me the way I obey the Lord or submit the way I do?  What if they had my work ethic or organizational skills?  My christian service? 

I am purposing in my heart to meditate daily on this verse for a while.   As a mom would you consider doing the same?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

School's In

Monday began our 2011-2012 school year.  This is a year of firsts for us.  LE's first year of school, my first time teaching 2 at the same time, first time using My Father's World curriculum (http://www.mfwbooks.com/) and Apologia Science (http://www.apologia.com/store/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=1).  Well, we really haven't started Apologia.  My Father's World (MFW) is a combination of History/Geography, Science, and Bible.  The plan use MFW and Apologia.  MFW is quite a bit more involved than I expected so for now I am going put Apologia on hold. 

Our first day was a little shaky.  At the end of the day I was thinking, "How am I going to teach two kids who need one on one attention?"  Day two went much better.  I am trying not to stress about how long things are taking.  I am hopeful as we move further into the year and become more familiar with the new curriculum our time will  be used more efficiently.   I will keep you "posted."

Monday, August 15, 2011

W.E.W-Part...Finished!!!!

Well, for the most part we are finished.  We built all the storage furniture. Today my little sister and I assembled some cubbies and brought up all my craft stuff from our family room.  Tonight my hubby hung the wall shelf.  I cleaned out/off my desk.  It is great!!!  It is so nice to have "a place for everything and everything in its place."  Unfortunately, rooms like this are always changing, but at least we are starting off right.

The following picture is the finished half of the room.  All of the shelving houses toys, games, craft/sewing supplies, books, and school stuff.  It is tucked away in the area where the closet used to be.  I like it because it is not the first thing you see when you enter the room.


Our wall shelf will be where we keep most of our "toy library" (see W.E.W-Part 7).  The shelf has decorative braces.  It came out really nice.  The plastic boxes look kind of junky.  I hope to replace them with basket and canvas bins.  You can see some of our old book cases in the photo below.  These will be removed and I will be putting my grandfather's rocker in their place.


I am still working on my office/workspace.  My plan is to replace the folding table with a small desk with a file drawer.  It is a little tricky because I need to put my printer/copier on it and my sewing machine.  I am thinking it would be great to somehow attach a drop leaf to the end to give me more room for sewing.  We will see what happens with that.  For now, I will keep this how it is.  I don't want to rush and do something and then hate it.


I am so excited about this room.  It is inspiring me to tackle other rooms in the house.  We have been in our home for 10 years.  It really is time to do some updating.  Nothing major, just painting and cleaning out. 

With special thanks...My husband is a very special man.  Growing up, my dad did everything.  There wasn't anything he couldn't fix or build or do. When I was a teenager I worried that I would marry someone who couldn't do anything.  Who didn't know how to fix things or didn't want too.  God has blessed me with a husband who like my dad can do anything.  There isn't anything he can't build or fix.  I love him so much and appreciate all the long hours he put into our playroom.  I love you, baby!!!!



Friday, August 12, 2011

W.E.W-Part 7

I guess my weekend project is turning into a week-plus project.  That is okay.  Last night some of the shelving went up.  I was a little disappointed in Ikea's "white" bookshelves.  They are not white, but cream.   Due to the long trip back to return them and the lack of other options, we decided to keep them and deal with the mis-matched color.  It is very overwhelming to start the process of organization.  I will have to take it little by little.  Right now most of the "stuff" is in plastic containers.  I would like to replace most of those with baskets, decorative boxes or containers.  One by one I will do that. 

Today, I will do my best to assemble the second book shelf.  Then I will beging putting things away.  I found a great article (the link follwos) about organizing your kid's things. ( http://organizedhome.com/get-organized/tips-organize-kids-rooms )   I love the "Toy Library."  That has been one of my plans with this whole "Play Room Makeover."  Our kids have too many things to take care of.  That leads to them making a mess and not appreciating what they have.  My goal is to put most of their things in storage and let them have a few things out.  They can swap things out, but they can only have a set number of things out at one time. 

On that note, I was thinking this morning.  This whole week they have had duplo blocks to play with and not much else.  WD is 9, so he doesn't play with duplo blocks much.  You know what?  They have had the best time with those blocks.  They did play outside and we did go out some.  They played other things, but mostly their toys have been limited to the blocks and what they have in their rooms.  What does this prove?  Less is more. 

This is the beginning of our new shelving.  More to come.



Thursday, August 11, 2011

WE.W-Part 6

The kids and I started painting yesterday.  I finished up today.  It is finished!!!!!! Yay!!!!!   Tonight, Lord willing the shelving will go up and some furninture will be assembled.  Tomorrow will be the big organizing day.  I probably won't be able to get it all the way I want in one day, but I should be able to make it useable for LE's birthday party on Saturday.  We will see. 

A few more pictures...



It is hard to see in the picture, but we painted a very pale blue.  The finished product:

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

W.E.W part 5--Primed and Sprayed

Last night while the kids and I were at VBS, hubby sprayed the ceiling in the playroom and primed the walls.  When I got home I moved all the junk either to the center of the room or out in the hall.  Very overwhelming!!!!  We have way too much stuff.  I am hoping in the next few weeks to "weed out" what we don't need. Today, I finished taping the trim, sanded a few spots and wiped down the walls.  It is now ready to paint.  We are heading out soon for a doctor's appointment for LE.  Then we will come home and paint.  Lord willing, we will have the painting finished today.  I can't wait. 

A couple of pics.  It is hard to tell what they are of because everything is white. 



Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Weekend Warriors-Part3(and 4)

The wall is down and the last coat of spackle is finished.  Sunday and Monday were sanding and spackling days.  That means waiting days.  You can't do much while waiting for spackle to dry.  While the kids and I were at VBS last night hubby did the last coat of spackle, patched the rug and started patching the trim.  Tonight, he will finish sanding and prime.  Lord willing, he will spray the ceiling.  If all goes well the kids and I can paint tomorrow.  LE has a dr. appointment at 11, so that might interfere a little.  We will see.  My plan is to have all the work done by Thursday night.  Then Friday we can concentrate on putting the room back together.  We will see how it goes.  School starts in a few weeks.  It will be so nice to have a little more order.  Little by little I am working on cleaning out, re-organizing, and making things simple.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Weekend Warriors-Part 2 "And the Walls Came Tumbling Down"

Actually, they came tearing down...with a crowbar.  Progress is a little slow due to having to wait 24 hours for the spackle to dry.  Today hubby took down the rest of the wall, patched the sheetrock, and taped and spackled.   It is coming along.  LE's birthday is Saturday.  My hope is that it will be all done before then. 





Friday, August 5, 2011

Weekend Warriors-Part 1

Well, it will probably turn out to be "Week Warriors."  My wonderful, handyman hubby and I (well, mostly hubby) are remodeling our playroom this weekend.  The biggest project is tearing out the existing closet which will be replaced by a free-standing storage cabinet, book shelves and wall shelves.  Tonight, hubby pulled off the sheet rock and removed some boards.  I taped plastic to the walls to keep the dust off all of our junk (we have a lot of it) and mask off the walls for when we spray the ceilings.

Here are a few pictures.  Again, I don't claim to be a photographer.  I don't know what I did to make them so blurry.  I hope the rest will come out a little better. 





Monday, August 1, 2011

A walk with the kids

It has been a great summer thus far.  It is going by too quickly, but it has been great!!!!  Usually by now I am saying, "We need to start school.  The kids are running out of things to do. I miss the schedule and routine."  This year has been different.   Last summer I was struggling with some health issues.  Thank the Lord many of those issue has significantly improved.  I feel much better and have been able to take the kids different places...even go for walks.  Today we went to a local biking/walking path along a river for about a 3 mile walk.  WD rode his bike while LE and I walked.  LE was pretty worn out half way through, but she kept going with some encouraging a short piggy back ride from mom.  When we were almost to the van, we took a break and found a nice spot by the river to soak our feet.  LE decided she wanted to soak more than her feet.  She practically sat in the water.  It was so nice just sitting there enjoyed God's creation and each other. 
 And they started out running.

Soaking our weary piggies.  


Still dry...soon sitting in the water.

LE had fun covering her feet with mud.  WD didn't even want to take his shoes off.  He eventually came around and got in the water.
"Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward."--Ps 127:3


Sunday, July 31, 2011

All aboard

We home school.  Our school year usually runs from mid-August, early-September to the beginning of May.  We have a nice long Summer vacation.  It is great!!!!  At times though, the kids get bored.  We can't always walk to the park or take a trip to the library or have people over to play.  I am busy trying to get the house in order so I can't always stop and play. So, it is my job to come up with stuff to keep them busy during those, "I have nothing to do..." days. 

Enter: Cardboard boxes.  I had been saving (much to my husband's chagrin) different sized carbboard boxes from Aldi and BJ's for one of those "I don't have anything to do..." days.  We finally had a day when we were home and it wasn't raining, so I sent the kids outside to make a cardboard box creation. 

Here is what they came up with:

A train...heading west.  This isn't the best photo (I am not a great photographer), but they took all the boxes and lined them up to make a train.  It had an engine complete with steering wheel and smoke stack:

There was a livestock car with horses, a sleeper car, and a caboose.  Tickets cost $.02.  They headed out for a long trip to Texas.  I recieved a letter via Pony Express stating they arrived safely.  
Unfortunately, the train had a wreck and will have to be put in this week's recycling.  No injuries were sustained.  Simple and free.  They had a great time and it kept them busy most of the morning.  It doesn't take much.  Kids don't need a steady diet of movies, T.V., new toys and electronic gadgets, and  video games.  They just need some boxes and a little imagination.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Almond Flour Pancakes

1 1/2c. Almond Flour
1/2c. Almond milk
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
5 eggs

Blend all ingredients in your blender.  Heat griddle over medium heat. Pour batter onto heated, greased griddle.  Once tiny, little bubbles form around the edges of the pancake, it is ready to flip.

Top with butter and natural jam or fresh berries.

My New Van

Well, as my husband says, "Our new, used van."  The Lord has blessed us with a 1994 Dodge Caravan.  It is in very good condition, has only 87,000 miles on it, and we know the previous owners and they took very good care of it. (And it is blue.  My favorite color)  On top of that the price was right.  The Lord worked it out for us to purchase this van.  I don't want to bore you with all the details, but we believe He provided this van for us.  We have been in need of a vehicle for some time now.  I really wanted a minivan, but that wasn't in our budget.  God is so good!!! 

Often, I look around our home...I sometimes say my decorating style is the "Thrift Store Style."  Not because we got everything from a thrift store, but because it looks like a thrift store.  I would say about 90% of everything in our house was given to us. Some matches...some doesn't.   We have purchased very few things.  Anyway, I look around our home and I start to get discontent.  I look at others homes and they have new furniture and everything matches.  I start to become discontent.  I guess the Bible is right..."comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise."-II Cor 10:12.  Then I stop.  I think about what the Lord has provided.  I think about each room and how for the most part each room has been furnished with what has been provided.  God has provided for us.  He is faithful.  How can I complain about what He has provided.

I begin to think about stuff.  Do I want perfectly matching furniture and co-ordinating accents?  Yes.  In the grand scheme of things does it matter?  What is the eternal value of matching furniture and co-ordinating accents?  Nothing.  What is the eternal value of things?  Nothing.  Why am I discontent?  Because I take my eyes off of God's provision, God's purpose and focus it on things...things that I don't have, but someone else does. Things that don't really matter. 

What does this have to do with "My New Van"?  I am not sure.  No, just kidding.  It is that I look at my new van and I think how good God is.  At times I am so discontent.  All I care about is stuff.  Then God goes and blesses me with something I want. I wanted a van.  He shows me that He cares about me and wants to give me what I want.  It may not be a 2011 Grand Caravan, but it is God meeting a need and in the mean time satisfying a want.  He could have provided us with a 4 door sedan and still met our need. BUT He didn't. He met our need and my want.  He truly cares about what I want inspite of my complaing spirit.  The Lord is providing, blessing me with wants, and teaching me to be content with Him and His provision and teaching me that stuff doesn't really matter. 

Ps 90:14 "O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days."

Ps 16:11 "Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore."

Php 4:19 "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."

Monday, July 25, 2011

Basic Quiche recipe

I love quiche.  My kids love quiche.  Even before I was "grain free" I would make a crustless quiche.  I am lazy and don't enjoy making pie crust.  Eating a low carb diet, I find I have significantly increased my fat intake.  To reduce some of the fat this recipe uses part cottage cheese.  I am not a huge cottage cheese fan, but you really can't tell it is in there. 

Basic Quiche

1c.  Low fat Cottage Cheese
6-8 eggs (whole or part egg whites)
2-3 cups shredded cheese, preferrably sharp cheddar
2 cups or so sauted or fresh veggies (you can add some bacon if you like or maybe ham)
Seasonings of you choice.  I use salt, pepper, garlic powder, cayenne

Beat eggs.  Stir in cheeses and veggies.  Pour in a greased 8x8 pan.  Bake at 375 for about 40 minutes.

This is so easy to adjust.  Add more cottage cheese, reduce shredded cheese.  Add some sour cream for part of the cottage cheese.  This is a base.  You can decrease the eggs and add more cheese.  You can even add more veggies.  Make a breakfast quiche by leaving out the veggies, pouring egg mixture into a pie plate and putting sausage on the top in a fan pattern.  The kids love it.  I don't think you can mess this up.  Enjoy!

Almond Flour Tortillas

I love mexican food.  Eating a "no grain" diet makes it nearly impossible to eat mexican food.  Flour tortillas are totally out.  I tried "Garbanzo bean flour tortillas." Not for me.  Maybe with salsa, but not as a quesadilla.  I think I am more of an almond meal kind of person.  These tortillas really come out like a crepe, but they work for wraps or quesadillas.  So far, they are the best substitute I can find.  Now if I could just find a corn substitute...

Almond Flour Tortillas

2 eggs
1/4 almond flour (maybe more if it isn't thick enough)
1-3 tsp water

Mix all ingredients in a blender to create a smooth batter.  (I use my magic bullet).  Spray a griddle or skillet with olive oil (I use butter) and place over medium heat.  Once the skillet is well heated, pour the batter on to the skillet. To create tortillas, swirl the pan a little to spread the batter.  Do this quickly because the cook fast.  Let the batter cook untouched until it is set on the bottom, then carefully flip and cook the other side. 

I double or triple the recipe as this doesn't make very many. 

Campmeeting

The past few weeks have been crazy.  I haven't had time to write or enough brain power to put complete thoughts together.  The second week in July our church had its 25th Camp meeting.  We had a great time with special music and guest preachers.  In all there were 24 messages preached by the various guest preachers.  I missed some due to working in the nursery and with our younger children.  

The theme the Lord was impressing on me during these meetings was to simplify.  Get back to a simple focus.  Make the time to spend "at Jesus' feet" as Mary did in Luke 10.  I remember our associate pastor preaching a message several years ago called "The Martha Syndrome."   I am suffering from that.  I am much too busy.  We have too many things that occupy my time.  My goal is to simplify.  It needs to start with being, "Mary for a while."  Sitting at the Lord's feet and allowing Him to show me what my plan needs to be for the day.  That sounds so simple, yet I struggle with just sitting there.  I am always thinking about the next thing. Always ready to get up and go.  The solution:  training my flesh to sit...to be still...to listen to the "still small voice."

"Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth."-Ps 46:10

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."- Mt. 11:28-30

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Family

The mother-in-law jokes out there are countless.  I have never heard father-in-law or sibling-in-law jokes.  Poor mother-in-laws.  It is scary because someday...I don't even want to think about this...I will be a mother-in-law.  I don't have any jokes to tell about my in-laws. 

I come from a very close famiy.  My mom and dad, brother and his family and sisters are all christians and attend the same church as I do. When people ask about my famiy I am delighted to tell them that we are all saved and in church together. We see each other 3 times a week at church and I am probably at my parent's house once a week or more.  Does it get better than that?

Yes, actually it does.  I could "copy and paste" the previous paragraph to describe my husband's family.  We are VERY BLESSED to have both of our families in church with us.  Not only are my in-laws all in church with us, we have a good relationship.  We come from different backgrounds, maybe don't see "eye to eye" on everything, have different ways of doing things, eat different things (them:  antipasto, prosciuto wrapped melon, eggplant, anchovie spagetti...my mother-in-law is Italian; me: meat and potatoes), have different opinions about some things.  BUT our relationship is not strained. 

I enjoy getting together with my husband's family.  Not everyone can say that.  Just yesterday my sisters-in-law and I went for a walk.  Maybe they just felt bad and let me tag along on their sister outing, but I enjoyed myself.  There are many ladies who can't say that.  Many ladies dread getting together with the in-laws.  Maybe my sisters-in-law feel that way about me.  Maybe I am sitting here thinking how wonderful we get along and they are sitting there thinking let's get this over with.  :)  Either way I am thankful they put up with me because I enjoy them.  I try hard not to be an annoying in-law or one who it always giving their opinion and telling how to do things the right way.  I don't do very well with that, but I try. 

What is the point of this post?  Thanking God that he gave me a family.  A family that loves each other and still talks to each other and has a good time together.  Thanking God that he gave the same to my husband and because of that I can have both.  We are blessed!!!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Grain-Free Granola Bars

I spent a good part of Saturday cooking.  Being on any kind of special diet or healthy diet, really, requires preparation.  Most healthy foods are not "convenience" foods.  There are some healthy "convenience" foods, but I am sure I can make many much cheaper. 

Granola bars are a great quick snack.  Most store bought granola bars are full of sugar.  I came across this recipe (from http://thewholekitchen.wordpress.com/) and thought I would give it a try.  I made some adjustments to suit my diet and my laziness (not toasting the nuts) and it came out pretty good.   I processed my "chopped nuts" too much and came out with more of a nut flour with a few chunks.  This is actually a great discovery for me because I have been "afraid" to make my own almond meal.  The texture of my granola bars was more of a soft bar cookie. 

Because of needing to be low sugar I cut back the 1/2 cup dried fruit to 1/4 cup.  Next time I make this I will try to cut back the dates as well and maybe add a little more water or maybe something like applesauce. 

Grain Free Granola Bars

1 1/3 cup coarsely chopped nuts
2/3 cup natural peanut butter
3 oz. dates, chopped roughly
1/2  tsp. salt
3-4 T water
1/2 cup chopped dried fruit
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
wax/parchment papper

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coarsely chop the nuts in a food processor (chop the almonds separately from the rest of the nuts, as they are much harder than the others). Place the coconut and chopped fruit, and chopped nuts in a mixing bowl, stir together and set aside. Schoop the peanut butter, chopped dates and water into a small sauce pan and heat the mixture on a low burner, stirring as you go. As the peanut butter warms, it may seize up a bit – add a touch more water. You just want the mixture to be warm, not hot, so that you can stir the mixture together.
  2. Pour the peanut butter mixture on top of the nuts, and use a stiff spatula to fold the mixture together until all the ingredients are coated in peanut butter. Line the sheet pan with parchment, then dump the sticky mixture onto the parchment. Cover with another sheet of wax paper and press into an even layer about 1/2″ thick. Remove the top layer of wax paper.  Place the bars into the oven, and bake for 20-25 minutes to set the bars, then chill in the fridge for a couple of hours before cutting. Store the finished bars in a storage container in the fridge, with waxed paper between layers.
I will be using this recipe in the future.  I think it is a good base for bars and cookies.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Being Ready

"My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up." -Ps 5:3

My prayer times is lacking...almost non-existent.  It is work and takes time and I am lazy.  Oh, I pray at meal time and at little times throughout the day, but rarely do I take time to just pray and pour out my heart to my Saviour and ask for His direction. 

Yesterday, the Lord reminded me how much I need to be in prayer and having an actual relationship with him.  I was put in an unexpected situation and was at loss for words.  It wasn't a bad situation.  Simply a situation where I needed my words to be directed by the Holy Spirit.  If I had been taking the time in my personal Bible time to truly fellowship with the Lord and plead for His direction, I may have been prepared and not felt like I blundered everything.

A relationship with someone requires communication.  Many times in our human relationships we get frustrated because "They just aren't listening!"  To have a true relationship with God we need to communicate.  Not just hear what He has to say from His Word, but talk to Him.  Reading the Bible is important, but it is not communicating.  We/I cannot have a relationship with someone who I don't take the time to talk to.  There will be no fellowship there, no intimate relationship built.    In turn, I will have no direction for the day.  I will be doing things through me and my wisdom and have no idea what God wants me to do.

Mrs. Lee Marshall said one time (I am paraphrasing) what we get from God in our devotions we can give to our chilldren.  That works not only for our children but for everyone around us.  If I am comuning with my Lord, He will give me what I need.  When a situation arises I will have His words and direction.  I know this.  I just need to apply it to my life.  Through the next several days I need to evaluate my prayer/devotional time and come up with a plan and some goals to make it better. 

"Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.  Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee."--Ps. 51:10-13

Monday, June 27, 2011

Dedication

Some friends of our, Dan and Patty pastor a church in Massachusetts (well, Dan does).  They are church planters in a very small community.  For the past 5 years they have been meeting in a local elementary school.  Recently, God blessed them with a new building.  The past 10 days have been a whirlwind for them and their church members.  They bought an older church building which needed much cosmetic updates.  New paint, lighting, a baby grand piano, flowers and they were ready for their dedication services.

We had the opportunity to go up and help.  We arrived Saturday around 3:45...a little later than expected as Dave's street ministry ran late.  After a brief visit, Patty and her sister were off to the store.  Dave, the kids and I went over to the church to help in any way we could.  Setting up tables and chairs, dusting, vacuuming, washing, organizing the nursery, many other things.  The church was ready for the next morning services.  Praise the Lord!!!

At 8:00ish we headed back to the house.  After supper, food preparations were finished for the next day's "meals on the grounds."  Patty's sister and part of her family were up to help.  They did most of the food preparations.  They could run a catering business!  They were very efficient and everything looked wonderful.  I headed to bed about 12:45a.m.  They were still working.  I don't know how they do it. 

We woke up to eggs, pancakes, baon, toast, homemade apple and grape juice and coffee.  What a way to start the day!!!  Thank you Cathy, Amanda, Chris, and Scott!!! 

The services were a tremendous blessing. Bro. Dan Sousa was the guest preacher.  Dave, the kids and I had the priviledge to sing 4 times in different combinations.  Thank you Lord for your guidance in choosing songs and the ability to sing! 

We left Dan and Patty's home around 9:00 p.m.  It had been a long tiresome day.  A good day.  A day to look at and see how the Lord has blessed two people, their family, and a small congregation.  A day we were able to be part of in a small way.  May God continue to bless Chester Baptist Church http://www.chesterbaptistchurch.org/.

It is funny.  I wasn't around when my home church was meeting in the YMCA or when they converted a grange hall into a church.  It must have been a lot like what we experienced this past weekend.  Now we have a new building that seats probably 400ish people.  We have come along way.  "What hath God wrought!"  God is faithful.  We have to follow him.  Not get ahead or lag behind, but follow and He will do the work.  Personally, that is something I need to get a grasp on.  Doing His will and pleasure. Not trying to force my way, but patiently follow. 

"The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way."--Ps 37:23

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A day at the park

What better way to spend a sunny, summer day than at a shady park with the kids, my sister-in-law and 16 month old nephew (I miss that age)?!?   The park was great!!!  Two playgrounds, a little "bird zoo" area, a nature center, frog pond, walking trails all for $4.  You can't beat that.  The kids didn't want to leave.  We will definitely try to make it there again this summer. 

As a last minute surprise we stopped to see Daddy at work at the hospital.  LE took a little coaxing because she wanted to go back to the playground.  It was nice to see where Dad works in Clinical Engineering (even though as WD put it, "You need some ladies working there.  They would clean it up."  LOL).  WD and LE enjoyed ice cream while Dad finished his lunch.  Not only did we get to see Daddy, we saw Grandpa.  Grandpa gave us the tour of all of the secret places that visitors don't usually get to go.  Daddy has only been there a year, but maybe someday he will be sneaking us through the kitchen, ER and into the boiler room. 

On the way home we stopped at the Salvation Army...not much to speak of.  Then JoAnn's to buy fabric for some cullottes I am making.  (That will be another post.  Hopefully the don't come out awful.  I have visions of burlap sacks...ugh!)  Three weary bodies left JoAnn's and headed home.  Surprisingly both kids made it home without falling asleep.  Once home, LE played on the slip and slide.  WD said it was too hot and wanted to play inside.   We ended our day...at 7:45...with grilled chicken and corn on the cob, Bible time, singing practice, and a few chapters of Brighty of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Birthday Out

My birthday is June 2.  I am not one for parties.  I hate opening presents in front of people.  I hate having "Happy Birthday" sung to me while I sit there with everyone staring at me.  I hate blowing out the candles.  So, I usually do everything I can not to have a party.  My birthday is also at a very busy time of year.  I don't want to add anything else to my schedule or anyone else's. 

This year my husband asked me what I would like to do on my birthday.  I told him I would love to go out for the day.  Maybe get a manicure, go shopping or something.  The only thing is I wouldn't want to go and leave the house a mess or have anything else to do. Just a relaxing day.  I also would love to just go out to dinner with him and the kids.

Well, yesterday my wonderful man took me out to a beautiful park for the day.  The Lord blessed us with a warm, sunny day.  It was perfect. We sat by the pond relaxing and talking.    We walked the nature trails, saw a snapping turtle and simply enjoyed being together. 

On the way back Dave decided we should stop home so he could change his shirt before we went out to dinner with the kids (who were with Auntie all day--Thank you!!!).  We walked into the house and I smelled laundry detergent. Hmmm...that is weird.  I hadn't done laundry.   When I got upstairs, there were clothes hanging on the clothes racks. I thought, "When in the world did he get that laundry done?"  Then I looked.  Could it be a perfectly clean house.  How in the world did that happen?  My mom, sisters, mom-in-law, sisters-in-law, and neices!!!!  I was soooo surprised (and embarrassed my house was such a disaster).  What a blessing!!!! 

It was just a perfect day.  After the shock, we picked up the kids and headed out for dinner.  Steak and Lobster tails...an Outback special.  It was delicious. 

What a day!!!!  It is very overwhelming.  It is hard to list all of the blessings of the day in a few short paragraphs.  To sum it up..."Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation..." --Ps 68:19 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Taco Quiche

I made this quiche for a girl's night at a friend's house.  Because of needing to be grain free, I modified two recipes to make this one.  It came out pretty well. Next time I might add a salsa layer to the top.  One of the recipes called for chopped lettuce as a topping which might be a nice addition as well.

1 lb. ground beef
1 packet taco seasoning
1/2 cup chopped onions
6 or 7 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
3-4 cups shredded cheddar cheese (I shredded about 16 oz of cheddar cheese)

Toppings:
3/4 cup chopped tomato
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
1/4 cup chopped green onions
2 cups shredded mexican blend cheese
1/4 cup of olives.

Preheat oven to 375. Grease casserole dish.  Brown ground beef with onions.  Drain. Add taco seasoning. Prepare according to package directions.

In a large bowl beat the eggs well.  Add sour cream, beat well.  Stir in taco seasoned meat and cheese. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.  Cool for 10 minutes.  Spread sour cream over the top.  Sprinkle with tomato, onion, green pepper, olives and cheese.  Serve immediately.

Where does the time go?

My little girl, LE, is growing so fast.  On Sunday she told me she needed to make a homemade dessert for a Kid's choir party at church.  We spent yesterday afternoon making chocolate chip cookies.  It seems like it wasn't too long ago that baking with her was a bit of a test of my patience.  Now, at 5, she is very interested in getting out all of the ingredients, measuring, even scooping the dough onto the pan.  (We have this great cookie scoop that a friend gave me http://www.kitchencollection.com/Temp_Products.cfm?sku=01094782  works very well for small hands. With help from mom of course) Not only is she interested, she does a great job! 

Yesterday, was a hectic day for us...dentist appointments (a cavity...ugh), bottle and can recycling, baking, cooking, cleaning.  Trying to get it all done before mom going out at night and kids camping out with dad in the backyard.  Inspite of the craziness, it is nice to have that one small spot in the day making a memory with my little girl.  It is my prayer that those little "spots" in the day will be something she keeps in her heart for the rest of her life and helps make her the lady I desire her to become.  That she will be able to look back and say, "I remember when me and mom used to..."  I know I will.

"Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward."-Ps 127:3

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Grain Free Granola

Actually, it is just a bunch of nuts and fruit, but when you haven't had cold cereal in almost 3 month it is a very satisfying treat.  I added fresh blueberries to mine. 

Ingredients:

1 1/2-2 cups sliced almonds
1 1/2-2 cups chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups or so unsweetened shredded coconut
Dried fruit to taste (fresh fruit or frozen berries are a nice addition to each serving)
Mix all together in an airtight container or bag.  Store in the fridge.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Crawling with homeschoolers

On Monday WD (my son) and I met some friends at the park.  I was sitting talking to my friend about homeschooling curriculum and such.  I looked up and there was a lady looking at me smiling.  She said, "Homeschoolers?"  I said, "Yes."  Thus starting a conversation about homeschooling, homeschool groups (she started one which has about 28 homeschoolers) and curriculum. A little while later we took a walk around the pond which was full of tadpoles...can't wait to go back in a couple weeks to see all the frogs.  Anyway, there were two boys fishing.  My friend said, "I bet they are homeschooled."  She asked one of the boys where he went to school and he informed us he was homeschooled.  WD and his friends had a great time watching the boys fish (using a dead frog and live dragon flies...yuck, definitely a job for dad or grandpa).  It is so exciting to find others not in your "circle of friends" who homeschool. 

Homeschooling is a wonderful opportunity.  It is a lot of work.  Some days are frustrating.  Some days there is no time to do anything but school.  Dishes, laundry, projects, (dust LOL!) pile up.  You stand there looking at the house and saying, "What I am I doing?  I can't do it all?"  Then you remember that you only have your kids for 18 years give or take a few.  You remember that they probably won't remember the things that were not done, but they will remember the things that were done.  The time spent working with them, teaching them not just accademics, but life skills, the scriptures, character.  When discouraged and overwhelmed, we must step back and look at the big picture. What will the kids remember-the dusty woodwork and unfinished projects or the time spent laying under a tree outside reading Charlotte's Web?  Investing ourselves in our children (meshing as I heard one mom say) is what they will remember.  It is what makes them who they are.  

"And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." Deuteronomy 6:7
"And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." Deuteronomy 11:19

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Our Verse

"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee." -Isaiah 26:3  What better way to start a blog than to share my favorite verse. 

About 15 years ago I was dating my husband.  I was about 17 and very nervous about our relationship as I was so young.  One day the Lord brought this verse to mind.  Amazingly, the next letter I received from "my man" had the very same verse signed to it.  I hadn't shared what the Lord gave me with him.  It was just like the Lord was saying, "Trust me.  It will all be okay."  Since then, it has been "Our Verse."

God has used this verse in our lives so many times I can't even tell you.  Keeping our focus on Him is a not an easy task.  Daily life takes our mind off of our Lord, but His promise is still true.  If we keep our heart and mind "stayed" on Him, He in return will give His "perfect peace."  Life has many "bumps in the road" but God is faithful!