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!