Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Homemade Granola Bars

I just made this recipe for chewy, healthyish granola bars today for the first time. I had a recipe I was going to try that made crunchy bars, but thought my picky little one might try chewy before crunchy. This looked really simple and, yipee, it was! Of course when you make it with a 4 year old it takes FOREVER, but hopefully she missed some of the frustration in my voice. Or at least can forgive me for it, poor baby.

Our 1 cup of extras included coconut, peanuts, flax seed, chocolate chips, cherries and sunflower seeds. They were super sweet, maybe because of the chocolate chips, although there weren't very many. Well worth trying again. I can only imagine they are much cheaper then store bought. Meanwhile, I have a few snacks in the freezer.

School Days

All my school plans changed at the end of summer when we borrowed Rod and Staff's preschool workbooks. I've kind of struggled with them, they aren't exactly the fun experience I envisioned and so much more rigid in their learning style.

But every time I whine to God (not suggested by the way :), He shows me all the good that is in them and the wisdom of my husband for choosing them. Very quickly, using the books showed me that my daughter does not like to obey or do a good job unless she has decided something is worth doing and fits in her definition of fun. Right away, God showed me how not meek and quiet I am when I do not immediately get the results I expect when I ask for them. Hmm, sound like a family trait?

I also found myself very thankful on many occasions that I can open the book and help her work on it, no planning required. I'm pregnant and I don't have the energy I'd always like to have. But I don't have any quilt for not getting around to school time because it is easy.

Now I'm trying to also include #2 daughter because she needs to learn and because my husband said I need to work with her. Got to be honest, right? Yesterday was the first day I tried and, whew, its hard. Today was even harder. My brain really likes to concentrate on one thing at a time, but little ones want to do things at the same time as their bigger siblings. Meek and quiet, meek and quiet, long suffering and not easily provoked... who is homeschooling for again?

I would like to post what we are doing throughout the week, but we shall see what actually happens, k?

Friday, October 08, 2010

Impromptu Tea Party

On a really crazy day, I think the day before Yom Kippur or something, #1 Daughter wanted a tea party. I was really stressed, making food and getting ready for a sabbath, but didn't want to do my usual "no, not right now."

So I did my best to stall.

I gave her stuff to make invites, and baked cookies.

I had her clean the tea set, and took out the garbage.

She put a table cloth on the coffee table, and I put dishes away.

She set out the dishes and party favors, and I did laundry.

We both worked on cookies and tea throughout the whole process.

Finally, we were ready!

The whole set up. Don't you like our table cloth?!

Harvest cookies, apple slices and passion fruit tea... use what you have on hand, right?

Everything was a bit damp, but all was eaten. Even #2 drank tea!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Rosh Hashanah Food

I have never really been on the ball for any of the festivals, but was really excited this year for Rosh Hashanah. At the very least, I had a meal plan way ahead of time for some fun food. Then I looked at the calendar. It was a night we were supposed to be at my in laws, AND I had agreed to watch my friend's 4 year old daughter during dinner time. Oh, and I had a mom and kids bible study for 2 hours in the morning and swimming lessons after nap time. So, in laws were invited to our house and we did it all anyway. Whew, what a day.

I did my best to prep as much as I could the day before. I have The Children's Jewish Holiday Kitchen cookbook, but had never used it. I found a recipe in it for the main dish, side and dessert: Orange Chicken, Carrot Tsimmes and Baked Apples. The best thing about this book is that it breaks each recipe into what the kids can do and what the adult needs to do.

To make the Carrot Zimmies for example, they had me boil the carrots and let them cool. Then, #1 was able to cut them up! How fun is that? And they were a great texture too, not as soggy as I expected. She also got to measure and put in orange juice, pineapple, sugar, water and prunes. This was like candy folks.

The Carrot Tsimmes
I got this table cloth while in New York and absolutely love it. I'm not much of a woven cornucopia or turkey decorated table kinda girl. And I found cloth napkins to match, 7 of them, at a garage sale for $2! That never happens to me!

My Favorite decided to get back into the swing of baking (yipee!) and made these amazing soft pretzels. They were the hit of the night, for sure. We also made baked apples, and both girls got to put in the butter, sugar, cinnamon and cover it with orange juice. The leftovers, mixed with oatmeal, made the best breakfast ever.

All in all, it was memorable and delicious, at least for me. Even if the chicken took WAY too long to get done!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

My little tortillas

We make corn tortillas quite often. It is easy to have the supplies on hand (masa mix, salt and water) and they are easy to mix. With the tortilla press I have from my time in Mexico, they are easy to press and cook. #1 daughter has been helping me for at least 2 years, and really, other then reading and measuring, she could do everything: mixing, making balls, using the press, getting them off. I will do the cooking for quite some time, but you get the point. Now we have added #2 daughter to the mix and it is an adventure!

#1 Daughter rolling the individual balls. All that playdough practice is so helpful!

#2 Daughter setting them in the press. She is very particular about doing this, and is quite good.

I could use some work on being more gentle and kind and encouraging in the kitchen, but despite my failings, I do love working with my girls.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Quote - CCEF

I'm watching the Christian Counseling Education Foundation's (CCEF) YouTube channel. A quote I liked today, from David Powlison:

It is hard to love. Love is patient. Patience means other people are doing things you don't like. Love is kind, and kind means you are doing things constructive while they are doing things you don't like. And that is simply hard. If it were easy the bible would not have had to be written and Jesus would not have had to come, live and die...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Crafts... been too long

I have been horrible about doing crafty things with my girls, really since #2 was born (2 years ago!). I don't know that I am "back" but we're getting a good dose this week while Daddy is away.

I had a stack of egg cartons and went to The Crafty Crow to find some inspiration. This post was the winner, with two crafts being made. One we did together, the other I am doing myself. So relaxing... well, the one I am doing myself at least. Definitely need to work on not getting stressed by mess, yikes!

Our apples:

These are so much cuter then I expected!
My sunflowers:

Obviously a work in progress

Thinking I wanted a fun bowl to put the apples in, I went looking on Kids Craft Weekly and found this. I chose 3 different greens going for a natural look... but got an army hat instead. So, #1 went and got some fall colored tissue paper, and I cut out three different leaf shapes for the top layer. It will probably take 10 years to dry, but every 30 sec she said, "We love to paint, don't we? Isn't this fun?!" Yeah, more to come, how can a mama resist that enthusiasm?

Maple, oak and ginko leaves... very, very wet!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010


I just read Raising Homemakers post titled "Mothers of Mercy." It was all about first time obidience and how we need to remember that often, we don't FEEL like doing what God wants, but we do it because He asked. And that we then need to extend the same mercy to our children and understand when they don't FEEL like doing it, and help them find the heart of matter. Read it, it was well done.

Anyway, I needed it. I don't extend much mercy, and really, wasn't sure how. Being harsh and demanding, a line I walk too often, way too often, isn't right. But saying "Oh, I understand, I feel the same sometimes. Go do what you want." doesn't work either. This was a nice, seemingly biblical middle ground I can work with.

Then I read Romans 6 this morning, and this section caught my eye:

"But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations." Romans 6:17-19

Lord, help me remeber my children are young, inexperienced humans and help me extend to them mercy. I am quick to extend it to myself throughout the day, more often then is right, may I learn to do for myself and them what is right in YOUR eyes.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Uses for branches... how fun!

My Favorite is cutting down a tree that, unfortunatly, had to be cut. So with all the branches in our yard, I wanted to see what was out there for crafts with branches. Will I do any? I don't know, but they all are so fun!

This is the picture that started all the madness. I have wanted curtains in my front room for 4 years now. But nothing I find fits the style I haven't figured out yet :) I love this. Hopefully we can make some of the branches work! Just google "tree branch curtain rod," it is posted everywhere, although I first saw it on Threadbanger's Decor it yourself, from Apartment Therapy. (threadbanger is a sewing video show, inspirational for DIY clothes, but not modest anything)

I thought this would be great for fall decor, maybe even the Shabbat table. I can see it full of found objects, acorns, fall leaves, pine cones, rocks.

Google "Childhood magic, tree branch tea set" and then make sure to hit the cached button, as the site is gone now.
Do the same for "Childhood magic, tree branch blocks"

A series of pictures using fallen branches/trees (the last picture is little boys w/o clothes, but they blurred anything unmentionable)

These Martha Stewart ideas are a bit out of my league for the moment, but I love the tables and even the wall.

These wall hooks are great fun too.

Wooden buttons anyone?

Thanks for indulging my day dreaming!

Friday, June 04, 2010

Number 3

We just found out we're expecting number 3! No official dates or anything, but I'm guessing around February. Yea!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Respect Your Husband

This is more for me then you, but maybe it will spark some good thoughts or future studies. These are the notes from my last Moms' Bible Study (not lead by me) where we talked about respecting our husbands. I didn't want to lose the info, but don't really want a piece of paper sitting around either.

It started with reading Ephesians 5:22-33 (I'll skip the parts to husbands, but go read it if you need to!):

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit) in everything to their husbands...However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

The leader used four books in her preparations for this study. These are not recommendations, just a list of what she read.
  1. The Bible (I do recommend this one)
  2. For Women Only, Shaunti Feldhahn
  3. The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands, Dr. Laura
  4. Love & Respect, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs (many said this was not well written, including the leader. They did say the video series is much better)
She then used an achronym she found in someone's book/writings. CHAIRS. These will be very basic notes, throwing in what little I wrote down, and what I remember.

C - CONQUEST: Appreciate his desire for adventure and a project
  • Mom's talked about how their sons turn everything into a project "This is my blanket project" said a 2 year old boy.
  • The leader has 3 grown son's. She shared that her husband gave her this advice when they were raising them: "Never interfere in their fights with one another." Unless there is blood, he did add that. We are talking physical fights, not just verbal ones. Send them outside, but don't stop them, that is how they deal with each other. She said telling them to leave the house often stopped the fight, and minutes later, the boys were just fine. No grudges, just brothers.
H - HIERARCHY: Appreciate his desire to protect and provide
  • One book suggested signing letters "with all my respect" rather then "love." The leaders husband whole heartedly agreed.
  • Don't criticize him in public, instead find ways to build him up
  • Many women commented that they feel really fake saying things like "Our towels are so soft because I have a great husband who fixes the washer." The leader said do it anyway, they like it :)
  • NEVER ACT LIKE HE IS ONE OF YOUR CHILDREN. DON'T JOKE ABOUT IT, DON'T THINK IT, DON'T TREAT HIM LIKE ONE. How demeaning! It is something we women do, and probably one of the most degrading things we could do to the role as husband.
A - AUTHORITY: Appreciate his desire to serve and to lead
  • She asked us "Who is the boss?" and reminded us to remember the answer
  • When in need of his help, consider asking "Would you be willing to...?" rather then ordering, or expecting him to do your bidding.
  • No pouting or crying when you don't get "your way"
  • Defer to him. Let him make decisions and let him know you would like him to do so, that you will be behind his choice
  • Be gracious if he makes the wrong choice, because he will sometimes
  • Respect his dreams - don't bash them down out of your own fears, your own sense of practicality or any other reason. They are often only dreams or thoughts, not commands. And if they are something he really wants to do, we need to get on board, not undermine what God is doing in him.
I - INSIGHT: Appreciate his desire to analyze and counsel
  • Don't make fun of what he says
  • Remember it was Eve who was deceived, we need to be aware of where we are potentially being deceived now.
  • Who is the spiritual leader? She said they have had many women come to them (pastor and wife) complaining that their husband isn't the spiritual leader of their family. Her husband would then ask, "Is he coming to church? Is he good with the kids? and so on... well, looks like he's doing a fine job" Women: "But he doesn't do family devotionals with us or pray with me every day!" Pastor: "Can you show me where it says he is to do those things in the bible?"
R - RELATIONSHIP: Appreciate his desire for shoulder to shoulder relationship
  • Go sit and watch him in the garage, or wherever he is working
  • Be quiet, don't talk
  • Say encouraging things when appropriate
S - *****LITY: Appreciate his desire for _________ intimacy
  • The devil will do everything to get you together before marriage, and everything to keep you apart after it
  • He is tempted in ways you won't understand
  • Many women use this as a power over their husbands, or don't realize its importance to them. She asked us, "How would you feel if he didn't talk to you for 3 days? How about 3 weeks? How about 3 months? Think about that"
ALWAYS ASSUME THE BEST... and you will find it easier to show respect.

He is our number 1 important relationship ladies (after God of course), let's make sure we are doing everything to let him know we respect him. This world, this society, teaches women and shows women doing anything but respecting their husbands. I pray to be growing away from that every day.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Homeschool - Score!

I got invited to go with another homeschooling mom to a local used curriculum sale. I was just going mostly for the ride, there wasn't anything I was necessarily looking for. I also get a little overwhelmed by mass garage sale type events, even garage sales make me a little nervous. I took $28 and some change with me. Here is what I came home with, yikes! So fun!

Books for the kiddos: $2.50

Manipulative/art/music: $5.00

Our oldest is just now noticing the clock. I got this one for 50 cents. I like the 5, 10, 15... markers, but didn't realize you can't just place the hands, you have to go around the clock just like a real one. The geoboards and oil pastels are totally from my childhood. And the music is because "bible" songs were NOT a part of my childhood!

Just for me: $1.00

I'm really fascinated by real people of the faith, I don't know any of their history. They are not adult reading :)


(sorry, couldn't get it to rotate) I've been waiting for Proverbs for Parenting for a long while on Paper Back Swap, so I was thrilled with this one. I already had Power of a Praying Wife, figured this would be a nice addition. I had never heard of the wife book from Doorposts, but I like their stuff. And after nap time today, the tag line "Help Despite the Hassles, for Mothers of young children" seemed um, necessary.

Curriculum: $15
The Animals science book was suggested by one of the gals I went with. The Pearables Character Building was suggested by Hadassah of Gypsy Soul, so I thought I'd try it out! And the Five in a Row are my favorite find. I wasn't planning on buying these, although I liked their preschool book. My oldest just doesn't seem interested in anything very strongly. But when I saw the first for $5, and my friend found the other for $20 and the owner dropped to $5, I was in. They are $35 each brand new.

Free: the price of being there when no one wants to load everything back up
Not pictured: A xyron laminator. Hope I can make it work and I like it! Price was perfect though.

Grand Total: $30.25

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Peace in the midst

This will be mostly random thoughts.

God has been bringing my husband and I to the thought of simplicity over and over these last few weeks/months. It looks different for the two of us, his thoughts often more work oriented, mine more home life oriented, but those two worlds collide often.

I suppose, really, the pull towards the peace of simplicity is something that has been there since we had our first daugther, almost 4 years ago. That isn't so long ago that I don't remember the chaos, the stress, and the sense of panic I always had while working, or going to school. Being a wife, mother and homemaker is not easy, harder then anything I ever imagined. Yet, it has a sense of peace that I can't quite put into words.

Domestic Felicity, an amazingly encouraging blog, caught a bit of what I feel in this post:

Ladies, we don't have to be overwhelmingly busy in order to be hardworking wives and mothers. On the contrary, I believe it would be counter-productive. Again, if we opted to stay home in order (among other things) not to be frazzled and to have peace of mind, which is so much more conductive to happy and smoothly flowing family life, and yet we frantically attempt to erase every trace of relaxation from our days, what have we accomplished?

A couple of generations ago, the modern pace of life which has now become the norm would have been seen for what it really is – crazy. Restless. Unhealthy for families, for little children. We should be proud, not ashamed, of keeping an island of peacefulness in the midst of the world's rush, rush, rushing to nowhere. It's important to set a gentle, quiet rhythm to our days, to take a look at what already is on our plate – and if you have at least one little child at home, I'm estimating that in most cases it's more than enough – before we accept additional responsibilities, try to achieve perfection, or in any way turn our days into a hazy blur of ticking things off a to-do list.

The fact is, a day at home with your little one(s) will most likely be full and busy whether or not you try to make it so. We don't have to try and cram more into our day in order to be continuously occupied. It usually happens on its own!

Once, my husband said he would rather have dinner late then a wife in a puddle of tears when he gets home. No doubt! But that freed me a little to look at what was happening every day, to relax a little, and to desire to schedule my days better so maybe he could have both dinner on time and a peaceful wife. God has done an amazing work, at least internally (hope it shows outside!) for me in this area.

I have learned that although I am fairly slow in getting things done, that if I feel overwhelmed, trying to do more and do it faster doesn't always work. When I feel a rather stressful day start to take a hold, I find myself pulling back. Mentally, I think "one thing at a time." Spiritually, I have to ask for God to help me order my thoughts, my day, my emotions.

Being a mom is relaxing. Not the relaxing I did before being a mom, sleeping in for hours, not cleaning the house when I didn't want to, reading a book in one day, for example. But slowing down to watch sisters play together, taking time to fold laundry, curling up with a book and a warm little girl, even pondering the millions of mistakes I made and asking God to help me start over the next day while I finish the dishes at night.

I'm on God's time. That can be difficult, for sure. But when I feel overwhelmed, I can turn to Him and He will show me how to simplify, to relax, to regroup and find that peace again. May I grow quickly in this area so I can express the growing understanding of His peace to my girls.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Whole Chicken

I haven't cooked a whole chicken before, but today is the day. My Favorite found this recipe for me, and I have it all set up to go in the oven. I didn't have celery for the mire poix, but added garlic pieces and mushrooms (as some of the commentors tried). I don't have any white wine, which everyone says is a must, so we'll see if I ask My Favorite to pick some up on the way home or not. I also didn't have a big enough cast iron pan. We love cast iron, and I use it almost exclusively. But one of the commenters used a roasting pan so I'll have to go with that. I'm nervous! Isn't that silly?! I just so hate to mess up, and especially food.

That is a lot of "didn't have" so we shall see.

Here's a picture of it raw... ew. May it look much better when it is done!

RESULTS: There's no picture because we devoured it. So good! Seriously, really good. And the potatoes, carrots, onions, and mushrooms... unbelievable folks. This is a keeper for sure.

I did put garlic under the skin, and forgot that I brined it prior to finding the recipe, so that may have contributed. I have my first attempt at stock bubbling behind me, and all the extra chicken waiting to be shredded and tucked into the freezer.

Ultimate proof of its goodness: my youngest ate it. She actually let meat touch her lips and asked for more. She eats nothing, so that was a nice gift from God for us.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Skirt wearing adventures

We went to our congregation this morning, ate and then hopped in the car. Most Shabbat afternoons we spend driving, since our congregation is about 30 minutes from home and last long enough to be into nap time. So we drive, and the girls sleep.

But today, they woke up at the beach. How fun! My Favorite decided I would like that, and of course I did! I was totally not ready for a beach trip, no sunscreen or snacks or beach clothes, or jackets. But I appreciated his spur of the momentness and got over myself. It was a beautiful day, we found a jacket for our youngest in the car, and then I realized how windy it was.

I am still working on being a skirt wearer. I am much more comfortable in them then pants. But wind? Hmm, you have to plan the right skirt for windy weather. I've learned that the hard way (praise God, no one was around me for that moment!) And what I was wearing to church today was far from wind proof!

God gave me a great idea though. I grabbed an extra hair rubber band I had seen in the diaper bag, took a corner of my skirt up in like a ponytail, and wrapped the band around it. tadah! Wind proofed skirt. Thanks Abba for not letting that rubber band get lost, we had a great, unembarrasing day!

Monday, May 03, 2010

Mi Mexico

The spring before we got married, I went to Ensenada, Mexico for 2 1/2 months. I just realized, as I wrote that, that 6 years ago today I would have been there. I turned on some worship music I got while down there, and I'm just riding the waves God is sending my way. There is something that happens when I hear Spanish worship. I don't know if it takes me back to that time, a time where I had to rely on God in a way I'd never known before, or that I have to concentrate on the words so hard, or if there is just a different... spirit? to it?

I need to rely on Him like that again. I just have so much here! When you are trusting Him to keep you physically safe, to help you find words to communicate, to have enough food, to have enough gas to eat and wash in warm water, and you don't always know how any of that is going to happen, wow. I just don't have words.

But He put me here, in this abundant life, and I am so thankful for all we have. I don't want to complain about that, for sure! I know I have to be able to rely on that raw faith here too. I think I just rely on myself too much.

I would almost, in this moment, give anything to go back there, even for a very short time. It wouldn't be the same place, the same people, the same me. A part of me longs for it though, I think a part of me is still there.

I'm reading through my journal of that time, amazing how you can immediatly go back to a place and time through words.

May 4, 2004

I spent yesterday, the hottest day yet, throwing up. My body is sore. But it gave me a lot of time to think. We are so rich here! Even here.

As I was whining about being hot, Angela described Bilga's house*. Bilga was sleeping literally drenched in sweat. Her mom, Martina was sitting in a chair with the baby in as little clothing as possible. Angela said it was unbearably hot. Some of these houses don't even have windows!

*Bilga was a 3 year old absolutely beautiful girl who lived with her mother and baby sister, while her father lived "al otro lado" (the other side) in the US. I believe their house was actually one built by the ministry I was with, so it was a million times better then the makeshift ones others lived in. But miserable in the heat. Oh, whiney American guera (pronounced "wear-a", means white girl)!

May I learn to lean on my King, mi Rey, as I did then in such an uncertain environment, while dwelling in this amazingly abundant home and family.

A song by Danilo Montero. I tried to translate it, but there are some phrases I can't quite figure out. And it has been 4 years since I used my Spanish much, never have been fluent.

Él es el Rey infinito en Poder, Él es el rey de los cielos
sere para Él siervo fiel, pues mi vida compro con su amor
Él es el Rey lo confiesa mi ser, Él es el rey de los siglos
mi vida la rindo a sus pies, Él es Rey sobre mi corazon

Él es el Rey, Él es el Rey, Él es el Rey de mi vida
Él es el Rey, Él es el Rey reina con autoridad
su reino eterno es, su trono el cielo es
Él es el Rey ke viene a su pueblo a llevar

He is the king, infinite in power, He is the king of the heavens,
I was His faithful servant, my life bought by His love
He is the King my being confesses, He is the king of the centuries
My life I yeild at His feet, He is the King over my heart

He is the King, He is the King, He is the king of my life
He is the King, He is the King, He reins with authority
His rein is eternal, His throne is in the heavens
He is the King who comes...(couldn't translate this to make sense).

Yeah, find the spanish. The English just looses something vital.

Saturday, May 01, 2010


Our oldest daughter has been pretending to ride horses for a few weeks. Then today, we went and watched my niece in her first fair experience as a horse rider, so the horse interest has amped a bit. Even if it just lasts a short while, I wanted to learn something now that we've "noticed" horses. If she is like her mama, or many little girls out there, this will probably not be the only time she's a little horse crazy!

I googled for preschool horse lapbook, and this blog started my thinking. I still haven't figured out if lapbooks are a waste of time period, a waste of time for a 3 1/2 year old, or simply not something this girl is interested in. But for now, I'll keep trying every once in a while, since I have always liked cutting and pasting things together to look nice. So some, or all, of this may totally bomb. The books I have on hold she'll love, simply because they are books!

Some components I printed out:
Horse diagram
Facial markings (probably too difficult, but handwriting practice anyway)
Horse gaits (probably too difficult, but hopefully I can find something on youtube to make it more real)

Just for Fun
Make your own word search (I used the words: horse, hoof, tail, mane, ride, saddle, mare, foal, pony)

We'll start all this as soon as enough books show up at the library.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Vision Forum deal

I'm not getting anything from this, but I thought it was a good deal. I love Vision Forum's resources! I have, well, a lot. But I wouldn't mind having more! Even the books for the girls help me learn about family life, parenting, God. Anyway, wanted to share, since it is only offered for 5 days. Got any birthdays coming up? Homeschooling resources? Fathers day? There is stuff here for everyone!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Homemade Bread

I've tried making bread a few times. It usually tastes good, but doesn't always work texture wise. And I go through spurts of making it and not. I've even made challah a few times under my mother-in-law's watchful eye. Then I go home and... well, the results are different!

All to say, I think I want to try again. So today I'm testing the recipe I saw on Large Family Mothering that she calls "fast, easy and delicious!". It is supposed to be quick, with whole wheat and white flour. I'm sure it won't be quick the first time, nothing ever is, but if it works, I'll keep trying and get faster, right?

Here we go!

Hmm, so I decided to use my stand mixer since I have one, even though she didn't use one. Note to self: when using a recipe from a Large family site, you might want to remember your equipment isn't large family size. The 30 minute rise time allowed me to dig dough out of parts of the mixer that aren't supposed to connect with the food, oops! I had to put the dough in a different bowl for that rise, the original one was very much not big enough.

The dough was giving off heat. I suppose that is from all the yeast, but it was strange to feel. It rose almost immediately, I could have watched it move if I hadn't had flour and dough on every counter, container and part of me.

It rolled out easy, and looks kinda like hers does after it cooks, so we'll see! Waiting on the 2nd rise...

Here it is right after being rolled. Looks good!

Here is what the table around it looks like, just for kicks. Flour, parchment paper container (I never quite understand "lightly oiled"), kids cup from lunch, rolling pin, pink plastic crown hair clip, and plastic bags from making a parachute with Grandpa.

It is in the oven now. I didn't realize there was no time limit on the recipe, and then remembered that was one thing I most dislike about making bread. How long do you cook it? "till it is golden brown" great. That usually means looks great on top, doughy inside. I've used the temperature method too, and that works better, but I don't remember the temp fully cooked bread should be. Oh, we'll see!

Here it is after about 30 minutes. I took this picture so I could have proof of how nice it looked before I chopped one loaf in half to see if it was finished. I know, very unprofessional. But I figured to sacrifice one loaf was fine in attempts to still have time to put the other back in to cook. Turns out, looks great! Off to wake up the girls and try it.

It was perfect! That's never happened, ever. Delicious, fully cooked, and at least one of the girls likes it. Um, yeah, I think I could have halved it, and still split it in half and made two normal sized loafs, but we have some in the freezer so that's actually kinda nice. Worth a try ladies, especially if you don't have a lot of time. I started during nap time and it was done before they got up!
(yeah, they did stick together, but oh well!)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Homeschooling - current thoughts for next year

I've been more diligent about doing "school time" with my girls this last year (okay, just daughter #1 with a tiny tagalong). More diligent, but not as great as I would like. So here is my organizing of my thoughts for the upcoming year:

Hooked on Phonics - Kindergarten
Other literacy games here and there
Daily reading together (their level and chapter books)

Math (number recognition and writing)
Unifix cubes
Math games
Calendar time

Creating books together

Biblical Festivals
Holidays (ex. St. Patricks, St Nicks origional story)
Bible stories

Signing Time (I get them from library or MIL)
Spanish - reading books from the library, learning songs together

Random skills
Cutting book (Kumon)
Pasting book (Kumon)

Wow! That seems totally too much for a 4 year old doesn't it? Well, its not all of it every day, and it is a whole year.

Reading: The Hooked on Phonics was given to us by my lovely mom-in-law, so we are just taking that really slowly, trying not to push it. #1 is huge on reading and words, and she can sound out so much. I know when it clicks, she will be unstoppable with the reading. I don't know where she got that...

Writing/Math/Cutting/Pasting: I love the Kumon books. I pull them apart and put them in sheet protectors in a binder so we can do them again and again. The cutting book we have, I copy and then she cuts the copy. They are just simple and fun. I've purchased them at Target, a used/new bookstore, and then at Costco.

Writing: I got the Handwriting without Tears book in January and I copy the pages for her to do. We do one here and there. She had all of a sudden started writing letters even though I had never taught her, so we figured, good time to start refining that! I'm not terribly impressed with it, but I like it and it seems to help, if only just helping me actually work on it with her!

Bible: The bible studies from Doorposts are what I'm really excited about. I just ordered them tonight. I felt really uncomfortable all year that I wasn't getting enough bible in, and feeling a sense of panic as to how to teach something I've just been learning myself. I have this intense passion for the book of Proverbs, and couldn't find a study anywhere. Then all of a sudden (thanks Abba!), I came across their Hidden Treasures study! I have also really been feeling at a loss as to how to guide my girls in responding to life with a biblical outlook. Enter "For Instructions in Righteousness"! God is good to me, so good.

I also have frustrated myself for the last 3 1/2 years by remembering there is a festival or holiday coming... but only the day before. Enough is enough! I just printed out monthly calendars from this month to June 2011 and wrote all the important dates in it. I hope to use that calendar during my lesson planning so I don't forget things. At least it is another attempt, right?

Language: This is something I'm just thinking about sticking in here and there. Like I said, #1 loves words and reading. A while back, she brought me The Magic School Bus: Human Body. Those are pretty detailed books. And she sat through it, crazy girl. The thing is, she brought me the Spanish version. She sat through a hard book IN SPANISH. She didn't understand a thing, but she didn't care. I was struggling, and I "speak" Spanish. Whew. It made me think it might be good to have some other languages in the mix, just to see what happens.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Price List Part 3: Other peoples grocery experiences

This is a very disjointed series, but I like to organize things!

I've been following a new series of posts by 4 different moms. It is called 4 Moms, 35 kids. This last week they all posted their ideas on grocery budgets and I loved their ideas and their completely different takes on the same topic. Go check them out!

Life in a Shoe - where I found out about the posts. I appreciated the reminder to get a basic price for an item that I'm willing to spend, and to buy in season produce. (although organic produce doesn't seem to change much in our area, guessing Safeway is not buying things local :)

Smockity Frocks - they don't have a specific grocery budget even though they feed 10 people. That's already helping me get over my desire to know an exact amount and stick to it.

The Common Room - I think this post was an answer to my prayer this morning. Kit Cat is VERY picky, and we don't like it. But it is hard to make... ah, lets fix that, allow a strong willed 1 1/2 year old to not eat because she won't eat anything but cheese and fruit. Won't even let it touch her lips. This post helped me to emotionally get behind my husbands sound advice of "When the cheese runs out, don't get anymore." A few favorite quotes:

we think too much about our favorites, about what we like instead of what we need, about what we 'feel like having' instead of what we have in our hands or what is in season, and we want what we want when we want it and feel sorry for ourselves when we can't have it.

Being a picky eater displays a certain self centeredness, a focus on self and bodily comforts that I think hampers maturity as well as the ability to be content.

Raising Olives - As hospitality is something I would like to improve at, I especially noticed her practice of not including hospitality meals in the food budget. That way she feels free to get whatever she needs and not worry as much about the cost. This also instilled in me to try again to plan out breakfasts and lunches.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Fish Tacos

Hows that for an image to go with fish tacos?!

A few weeks ago, my husband walked out to the garage to find something. He had just purchased a spelunker type head flashlight like the picture above, and was wearing that, which was making me giggle. So he walks back in, looks straight at me (which means I am completely blinded, hehehe!) and says, "The freezer is defrosted." I was having a bit of a hard time taking him seriously, with all the giggles and whatnot, so I thought he was joking... no such luck.

The biggest problem was the fish we had in there, it was already soft although not completely defrosted. Mother-in-law to the rescue, we canned all the white fish up the next day. Pew!

Anyway, so tonight I am trying the fish taco recipe from Newlyweds blog, one I haven't ever read before. But she came up when I typed in "fish tacos with lemon." More specifically, she calls it Fish Tacos with Lemon Butter Sauce... num! So tonight, I'm trying to recreate what she had, with canned white fish. We shall see!

UPDATE: Note to self, don't write blog post while waiting for white wine to reduce. She meant caramelized onions right?

RESULTS: Turned out great! Really easy, especially with the canned fish. I probably won't make the sauce again, as my wonderful husband didn't even remember it, but it was fine. Fish tacos now have a regular place on the meal plan.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Reworked Chicken n Dumplings recipe

My husband loves Chicken n Dumplings. We had it at a friends house one night, and he spoke so highly of it, I had to get the recipe from her. The thing is, she used a combo of a recipe for chicken pot pie filling and a recipe for dumplings from, I think, Joy of Cooking. So when it got to my kitchen, it was already piece meal. Since that time, I have changed it to whole wheat and dairy free. I also use a triple batch of white sauce from my More-with-Less cookbook because the other recipe didn't seem to be enough liquid. Every time I make it, I have to do all the math in my head (yes, I know, most of it is easy, but still!), keep all the books and recipe cards out, and remember what I've tried and what works and what doesn't.

What doesn't: sweetened soy milk in white sauce. We're going for savory chicken soup here folks. Also, all whole wheat dumplings take a ridiculously long time to cook and are a little brick like.

Here is the recipe, in More-with-Less formatting because I like it. Italics are my commentary, if you want to copy and print, delete those parts :)

Whole Wheat, Dairy Free Chicken n Dumplings

Melt in heavy saucepan
6 T margarine
Blend in cooking and stirring until bubbly
6 T whole wheat flour
3/4 t. salt (okay, that is tripling the recipe, just dump some in)
Using wire whisk to prevent lumps, stir in
3 c chicken stock
Cook just until smooth and thickened. Stir in
2 c cut up cooked chicken
1 10 oz frozen peas and carrots (I use safeway's organic mixed veggies: carrots, peas, corn)

In a new bowl place
3/4 c whole wheat flour
3/4 c white flour
2 t. baking powder
3/4 t. salt
3 T shortening
Cut shortening in until mix resembles fine crumbs. Stir in
3/4 c soy milk (I often have to add more)
Drop dough by spoonfuls onto hot meat or veggies (meaning do not drop it into just liquid where it will hit the bottom of the pan). Makes about 8-10 dumplings. Cook uncovered for 10 min. Cover and cook ...

...a lot longer then the 10 minutes it calls for. I think the whole wheat makes it take a lot longer. I'm assuming the dumplings cook from the bottom up, so I watch and as soon as the top doesn't look doughy, I check one with a fork. I've never had the inside be uncooked when the top looks done, but I'm paranoid that way. I will try to track it next time I make it because I keep totally underestimating how long it will take to finish. This is an easy to make recipe, but very time intensive. And very nummy. Even my dad, who is pure meat and potatoes, took a second helping of this.

Monday, March 08, 2010

The Husband Factor

I've been a follower of the Messiah for close to 10 years now. I have been a wife for 5 1/2 years. I have been a stay at home wife/mother for just over 3 1/2.

I don't feel like I really started concentrating on my walk with God until I got married, at least not in the same way. I don't really feel like I concentrated on my wife role until after I stopped working outside the home. Incidentally, that was the same time I became a mother, so that kinda rolled into one HUGE learning curve. God is good though, as He didn't throw me into cooking meals until almost exactly a year after working on the combined wife/mother role. I could only take a little at a time.

Unfortunately, I've kicked and screamed through almost all of it. Except getting married and awaiting my babies, that is.

Not that I have a handle on it by any means, it is just habit now to work on those areas. God has given me so many areas of healing. I'm getting better at my day not going my way. Isn't that a funny thing to think might happen?! I manage to get food on the table at every meal without too much stress. I almost welcome washing dishes, its just part of my day. I am in the trenches still on how I respond to my children.

All this to say, the husband factor is what God is putting before me these days. I've been working on me, and what a wife does. Sure, you can't do that without concentrating on what a husband is, to some extent. Yet, everywhere I turn these days, I find myself learning more about how to care for him specifically, or growing in a desire to understand what he deals with on a day to day basis.

Husband's and fathers, men in general, are not held in high regard in this country. Most of the older women I am around, believers or not, don't treat their husbands with a whole lot of respect and/or submission. I see a lot more "i'm right" and fear of not being cared for the way they want to be. I find myself responding to situations with my husband with a contempt or disgust I don't actually feel. That I never agree with. I think it is learned. He is amazing and deserves better!

Here are some answers and blessings God has given me lately. I am hungry for more. I love this man and I want to support him and love him and uphold him as a man. As a man defined by God, not as my upbringing or culture defines him.

The Power of a Praying Wife, Stormy Omartin: I'm reading through this book. I feel like I need to mention that I have this nagging feeling as I read it, that I can't put my finger on. But I'm praying for my husband specifically more often, and actually considering what he is dealing with each day, so I am thankful. I appreciate the different topics to consider while praying. For example: His fatherhood, His integrity, His faith, His wife. Yeah, that last one is a tough one!

"My husband hunted, so I hunted. My husband listened to Country music, so I listened to Country music." - An amazingly Godly woman from our congregation. She carried her husband through cancer into the arms of God before I knew her. The honor and respect she still exudes for him is contagious and something I desire to learn from. She did start listening to different music after he passed, but there is no disgust in her tone as she speaks of doing what he loved rather then what she did.

"Don't point out his mistakes, just fill in the gap" - This was quoted on Fearlessly Feminine from a list in another resource. I love the perspective this gave me. How can I fill in the gap, whether or not there is an actual mistake in that area? How can I support my husband better each day? I think this applies to many relationships actually. Less complaining, more helpful action.

"If it would help your husband for you to fix the screen door or the faucet because he is busy doing something else, that is feminine... you were created to be your husbands helper so doing things to help him is feminine." - Victoria Botkin. This is in the context of masculine/feminine roles. This is from the first session in her Evenings with Victoria Botkin mentoring sessions, that started last Monday. If you haven't signed up, go do it and get in on the next 8 weeks. Here is a small quote from the description: "How does a wife help her husband be the man Christ wants him to be? How can she inspire him to love her? How can she discover the forgotten joys of being the helper God designed her to be?"

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Price List Part 2: Our store options

In our area, we have Safeway, Walmart, a natural food and two local stores. And Grocery Outlet, but you never know what they will have.

Walmart carries very few organic items, and most organic produce is packaged in plastic. They have organic regular and soy milk, but no other organic dairy. They have one brand of organic peanut butter and it is spendy and little. I do get select-a-size paper towels, deoderant, and kitty litter there.

The natural food store sometimes has good produce prices, usually has local produce, and all their other items are very expensive. Sometimes you have no other choice though. They were the first place I found an organic soy butter... two days before finding it much cheaper elsewhere! Oh well! They have it in a pinch.

One local store is out of the question. We only go there when we can't go somewhere else. They do carry some organic dairy, but no organic produce. I do find that they often have mark down stickers on their dairy items, more then I've ever seen anywhere else. Could be because they are TOO EXPENSIVE and things don't move quickly.

The other local store is bilingual, catering to our Hispanic community, and has the most alternative, health foods in the area. They have very little organic produce, and it is expensive (bananas: $1.19/lb!). They have the widest selection of Bob's Red Mill products, even in bulk. They have soy cheeses (yuck), butter (not organic), kombucha, kiefer, many milk alternatives, and much more. They even have many foriegn foods, with many packages not being in English or Spanish. Basically, if it is a normal food, they have it (cheerios). If it is an alternative/organic/ natural food, they have it (tahini paste and organic kombucha). If you are Russian, well, they might have it, but I can't read the packages.

Safeway is where we currently do most of our regular shopping. Spinach, apples, bananas, tofu, orange juice whole wheat pasta, spaghetti sauce, milk/soy milk, crackers, pretzles, whole wheat bread, frozen berries, frozen veggies and yogurt.

We also can go 1/2 hour away and have a Costco, Fred Meyer (or Freda Meyer as some 3 year olds say), local co-op and Trader Joe's. Can you see why I get overwhelmed? We really do have a lot of options, which is a blessing and a confusion.

Costco has a ton of organic options now. We get our chicken and hamburger there, as well as frozen corn, peanut butter, chicken stock and (not organic) bagels. Oh, and disposable diapers. And too much else.

Fred Meyer has a lot of alternative/natural/organic items. We don't go there a lot, but I did find a good organic soy pudding for a treat now and then. This no dairy thing is tricky to figure out.

We have been members of the co-op in the past. It is awkward because you have to have your card, and we never seem to. And there is no family membership, so only my husband is a member. They have great bulk foods, and we've often purchased dried fruits, flours, cereals and nuts there. They typically have traditional festival foods or items like matzah and Shabbat candles, as the seasons go.

We went to Trader Joe's for the first time today. Wow. I'd heard they had good prices, but they really do. How they fit so much in such a small space, I don't know. And how can they offer such low prices when other places can't? Safeway is in trouble!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Thrift and me

I am more cheap then I am frugal. I don't like to spend money, which can be good and bad. I desire to be more frugal though.

I also get stressed out by looking for a good deal or searching around in used stores for the things I want. I don't have time to go to them over and over in hopes of finding something I wanted. I also don't want to fall into the thrift store trap of "Oh, but it is so inexpensive!" and buying things we don't need. But I'm getting better at trying there first.

When we recently decided we needed to get Big Sister some new puzzles because she is in a puzzle phase, I was pleased that my first thought was Goodwill! So we went. And then we realized we needed some shoes for her as she's all of a sudden grown and her shoes hurt. So for just under $14 we got a pair of boots, a pair of sneakers and 4 puzzles!

We've done 2 of the puzzles and they have all their pieces, plus two extra from a puzzle we didn't buy. Extra is better then not enough!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Price List Restart, Part 1: Our food preferences

Every time I read about people's price lists/books, I want one. And I've tried many times. But I get overwhelmed and put too much in them. At least I think that's the problem.

But I need to come up with something. Our food spending is high, and I would like to see what I can do about that. My husband's opinion on budgeting is that as long as we tithe, pay our bills, and stay in the black, he doesn't really care about the rest. But I would like to do my best within that perspective as possible, as I appreciate how hard he works, and I want to learn to stretch his income.

I was just getting into my groove with shopping and monthly menu plans when we realized that dairy is causing our oldest to be constantly congested, with drainage and swallowing even while she sleeps. So now we are going dairy free (except Kitten Cat, as she only eats dairy!). So now I need to think this all through again. As I am long winded, I'll do it in parts for anyone who happens to read it.

Our Preferences

The newest preference is of course dairy free. While it isn't too difficult to change in my cooking, kids eat a lot of cheese, and I'm struggling to figure out what to make for lunch. And dairy alternatives are fairly spendy. Worth it though!

We are Torah observant. That means we observe the Levitical laws as much as we can. We offer our thanks to God by obeying His commandments even with what we eat. So no pork or pork products, including gelatin. And no shellfish, although that really didn't make it onto our meal plan before either :) And there is no kosher meat around here, although sometimes we can find kosher marshmallows!

We prefer organic whenever possible. We just rediscovered the Dirty Dozen list, and are evaluating our purchases based on that. Because organic is expensive. At least in the moment that is. Every time I try to talk myself out of getting organic, I get horrified by the thought of poisons in my children's food. Life is tough enough not to also eat things not made for our body.

We like whole foods, real foods. So no high fructose corn syrup, no fake food colors (Red 40, etc), no or limited processed and empty foods. And we try to include as many whole grains as possible.

The whole genetically modified issue is just on my radar, I haven't got a hold of that yet.

Whew, now that's processed on some level.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Looking back: The Sabbath Journey

My husband and I are in our 3rd year of our Messianic walk. We have been believers in the Messiah for many more years (coming up on 10 for me), but became increasingly Torah observant when our oldest was 3 months old.

I just started to read the blog Fearlessly Feminine and this post about Shabbat got me thinking about how we got where we are today. In it she says:

I have heard countless testimonies of individuals coming to the realization that they should be keeping the Sabbath as the first step in their journey to becoming messianic.

How true! I think a main reason for that is although most believers claim the 10 commandments are applicable to the general Christian, most only practice 9, leaving the Sabbath as something undefined. Sure, there is church on Sunday... but why? And those of us who just can't leave it well enough alone start looking for answers.

Looking back over my life, the Sabbath/Shabbat had a hold of me long before I was even a follower of the Creator. It started when I spent a lot of time with my best friend and her family growing up. They are Mormons, and although I have a lot of issues with that religion, the Sabbath was an important day to them. It was Sunday, sure, but I knew they did no shopping and no homework and it was a day set aside for God, His people, and family. That exposure bugged me as a Sunday Christian where, other than attending church service, there was nothing different about the day. Even "Christian" bookstores were open. (don't get me started on how a bookstore can become a Christian :)

Early in my Christian walk, I read Nehemiah. He was passionate about keeping the Sabbath holy, angry at its neglect by the people. I've never been able to get away from the nag of that passion; I desire to have it as boldly as he did:

"... All kinds of goods were being brought to Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. So I warned [them] against selling food on that day. The Tyrians living there were importing fish and all kinds of merchandise and selling them on the Sabbath to the people of Judah in Jerusalem.

I rebuked the nobles of Judah and said to them: "What is this evil you are doing—profaning the Sabbath day? Didn't your ancestors do the same, so that our God brought all this disaster on us and on this city? And now you are rekindling [His] anger against Israel by profaning the Sabbath!" When shadows began to fall on the gates of Jerusalem just before the Sabbath, I gave orders that the gates be closed and not opened until after the Sabbath. I posted some of my men at the gates, so that no goods could enter during the Sabbath day...Then I instructed the Levites to purify themselves and guard the gates in order to keep the Sabbath day holy." Nehemiah 13:15-22

And finally, as a Pregnancy Center employee, God gave me Seventh Day Adventist friends. My client was a sweet woman who obviously loved God. Her husband was a kind man who would not, NOT, give up on me observing the 7th day Sabbath! We had conversations over 2 years, spilling out from work into conversations between him and my husband. Sabbath conversations are hard enough, but these were all in Spanish! God was working at me anyway He could, even through a severe language barrier.

After a year in a Torah Club homestudy, thinking everyone was nuts (but really wonderful people) we started Torah Club 4: The Good News of Messiah. In the first or 2nd week, both our eyes were opened. Suddenly, everything made sense. That Friday night, my wonderful husband looked at me and said, “Well I don’t know what we can or can’t do on Shabbat, but going to the Congregation we can’t go wrong.” And we’ve never gone back.