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Wife to Adam, mommy to Alexa & Adlee Grace, Christ follower, owner at NewSpring Church, lover of Clemson football, and all things monogrammed. Looking for ways to simplify, serve, and teach my girls what life is all about.

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Pumpkins

Now that Halloween is over and Alexa has acquiesced to allow me to cook a pumpkin instead of just carve it, I am looking forward to pumpkin baking.  We still have a few weeks left in November so it must at least be acceptable until the month is over right?  One of my dear friend generously gave me her pumpkins when she was done with them, as the carved pumpkins at our house were long gone due to mold.  Pinterest had some great idea for keeping mold away, but they also meant ruining them for cooking so I opted out on those as well.

We began the roasting process last night...it is going to take a good while as I mentioned, they are large pumpkins and my oven will only hold about 1/2 pumpkin per session.  I know my hubby, who loves all things pumpkin, will be more than thrilled to taste all the dishes I come up with.

Stay tuned...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

1000 words

I wanted to do a quick post to share these pictures of Alexa.  Mainly because I can't believe how grown up she seems.  Goodness, where did my chubby cheeked, pudgy belly, roly-poly thighs girl go?  It doesn't make ANY sense, but here we are with a sophisticated, well dressed, beautiful girl on our hands.  I am so proud of who she is becoming and I wouldn't trade her for the world.  Just look at that sweet smile, I have a feeling we are headed for trouble when she is old enough to date...a VERY LONG TIME from now!  

Just one small comment on the straight hair.  First, Alexa prefers her hair straight, and for a long time I have refused to comply with her requests for straight hair...her step-mom Lori has straightened it on occasion as did a friend of ours, but I have held my ground.  Then when she came home from her friend's house on Sunday with straight hair I promised if she got up early Monday I would straighten it for her so she could wear it to school that way.  Second, her hair is SOOO curly that each of these pictures are taken moments after I straightened it, and should you see her any more than 15 minutes later you would understand what I'm talking about, so it requires us to re-straighten it each and every morning.  On Monday I made sure she knew that I wasn't going to do this on a daily basis, but her hair is much less messy when it is straight, so we've been 5 days with straight hair now with no signs of stopping.  Fine that's more than one small comment, but just thought I'd throw it in for good measure.  I do love her curly hair, but it is a beast to deal with, so for now, straight it is.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Am I being chased?

When asked about running, this is my typical response...for a long time this was the only reason I found running acceptable.  After all, who would run for fun?  There are many other torturous activities that I would much rather partake in before I don running shoes and step outside.  I ran track in high school, but I really think it was out of boredom more than anything, and even then it wasn't fun.

Last week during dinner and coffee with the girls somehow the subject of running was broached, and I immediately shared my thoughts on running.  I don't.  Have you seen the picture on someone's car like 26.2 (marathon) or 13.1 (half-marathon)...mine was always likely to be 0.0 (if running, call the cops I'm being chased).  NO. DESIRE.  They all discussed how one race or another would be so fun, a mud run, a color run, and how much fun it would be to run as a group.  My resolve was firm.  I do not run.

Then the strangest thing happened.  I'm not sure if I fell and bumped my head, or what, but Friday CJ and I started discussing a run Saturday morning.  As previously stated I am NOT a morning person.  So the fact that I would even consider rising early on a Saturday let alone run is cause enough for a CT scan.  We made a date to run Saturday, 3 participants, and then it began to happen.  Friday night CJ realized she didn't have the necessary shoes to run so she dropped out and then Saturday when I arrived at the agreed upon location my other running buddy wasn't there.  I had a choice, I could go home and snuggle back in beside Adam, or I could suck it up and run.

I chose RUN!  And run I did, for the majority of 2.5 miles.

I must say, I felt rather accomplished when I got home, especially when you consider it was 36 degrees on Saturday at 8am.  I guess the endorphins  were a little too strong because later that day I convinced Adam to get up at 8am the following day for another run.  Even with the extra hour of sleep, neither of us were excited when the alarm went off, but we got up anyway.  It was 30 degrees that morning, and I'm fairly certain each car that passed us was thinking exactly what I used to think when I passed those poor unfortunate souls on icy mornings, "what are those idiots doing? It's 30 degrees outside!"  Oh well, run we did.

3 miles later we were back in our apartment and that sense of accomplishment came flooding back.  Is it possible?  Am I becoming a runner?  We should probably give it a week or 2 before making any rash decisions, but the possibility is there.  I might be signing up for some fun and interesting runs after all!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Back40Life

If you know me personally then you might be aware that my sister and her husband started their own business several years ago with the desire to leave the hustle and bustle of the corporate world behind.  It was at that time Back40Life was born.  Over the years the business has grown, changed, and blessed their family (of 5 now) to live a very different lifestyle from most people.  One I am not ashamed to admit I have looked upon with slightly green eyes at times.  Not because I think it is easy by any stretch, but because of the extreme closeness it allows them.

Last year when we unveiled our plans to relocate to Indianapolis to be part of Resonate Church we knew things would be greatly different than they were in South Carolina.  One of the greatest changes for us was going from being a 2 income family down to 1.  It was an adjustment, and something we struggled with at times because on paper our budget didn't work at all.  We were doing our best, and if nothing else we were committed to it.  The idea had been thrown around quite a few times that potentially we could do some work for Jodi and Brad, but that was really as far as it went.  At times they thought we were disinterested, and others we thought the same of them.  When we finally all started talking (why is communicating so complicated?) we realized we were all interested in the same thing.  So after lots of thinking, praying, calculating, and talking;  we came up with a plan.

In April we made a trip to South Carolina to pick up a cutter, ok mostly to see my sweet niece who refused to be on time and made her grand entrance the day we were leaving to come home.  Thus began our journey into the world of being partially self-employed, turning our tiny apartment into a work space, and at times working half the night because ultimately the buck stops here.  There have been bumps along the way, and no doubt we haven't seen the last of them, but I think we have both really enjoyed the freedom and flexibility it has given us. It has also been wonderful to work alongside my sister and see what it feels like to walk in her shoes a little.

We are beyond thankful for the business Jesus allows us to see on a daily basis as people buy our products. I have learned to be thankful for each and every order that comes in, even the smaller ones that at times have made me turn my nose up.  I am learning what it means to be a small business owner instead of always acting like an employee.  I have learned a lot in the 6 months we've been on this journey, and know the learning will only continue the further down this path we travel.

You can find out products on our website or our Etsy store.  Thanks for checking out what we have to offer!

Writing

I started this blog several years ago to keep a journal of sorts to look back on when Alexa got older.  Now that I've picked up writing again, it has morphed slightly into a combination of recipes, rants, reviews, and ramblings about my family.  Well, the ramblings and rants are about my family, I don't usually critique them in public or cook them.  At times I struggle to come up with topics to write on, as lots of what goes on in my mind is either boring or much too weird to share on any social media.  All of this to say, if you visit my blog one day and find me talking about cracks in the sidewalk, just bear with me...I'll eventually get it together and come up with something worth reading.  Truth be told, that might not be true either, but stick with me and maybe I'll give you something to laugh about.  After all, who couldn't use a good laugh?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Unprocessed: Granola


I have to admit, I've never been a huge fan of granola.  I know that might seem odd because it can be truly delicious, but my typical experience has been one of two things: 
  1. I loved it and could eat my weight in it, but the fat content was so high I would've been mourning the expansion of my waistline at the same time.
  2. It was dry and gross...no thank you!
So a few weeks ago when Adam started perusing cereal boxes at Trader Joe's I had to take a 2nd look.  Their granola was not only high in fat (as most are) it was also pretty expensive for a bunch of ingredients I have on hand a good portion of the time.  I was sold, it was time for an experiment.  I gathered my supplies (shown above) and got to work.  I will confess, I'm not always super great at measuring, but I did my best to come up with a recipe that is quite delicious.  I did a little research first and found a similar one at 100 Days of Real Food as Lisa does a great job of feeding her family of 4 unprocessed food.  I took her version and changed it to fit my personal style.

One of the great things about this recipe is the simplicity of it.  You grab a handful of ingredients, throw them together, and end up with something that is delicious!  I'm a big fan of throwing different things together, but I'm sure my husband and daughter would attest to the fact that they are not always delicious.  You can't win all the time right? 

This is my 2nd batch of granola, so I'm gonna say it's a hit.  I have used it each morning as a crunchy addition to my greek yogurt with honey.  It takes an already delicious breakfast to the next level of wonderfulness when you mix creamy, slightly sweet yogurt with the crunch of this goodness.  YUM!  Now, I have to be honest I'm not sure exactly where this falls in the realm of  clean eating because I don't do a good job of following rules.  What I do know is the ingredients in this recipe are all natural and organic.  That's good enough for me. 

Here's the skinny on this treat.  Mix together your dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, add honey mixture and stir until well coated.  Spread on a piece of parchment paper.  Mine makes about a 3/4" layer on a large baking sheet.  Bake for 1 hour at 250 degrees.  I let mine bake a little bit longer this time and the edges got a little too brown.  To be honest I like burnt stuff, so I liked it, but I think I've eaten the majority of the slightly dark parts.  When you finish let it cool completely, it will harden as it cools.  Then crumble and store in a ziploc bag in the pantry.  It most likely won't last more than a week if it makes it that far.  So far that's been my experience!  

Ingredients:4 cups rolled oats
  • 1.5 cups unsweetened coconut (I promise even if you don't like coconut if you buy this kind you will change your mind)
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup millet (small grain used in bird seed, quite delicious and can be used in place of rice in other recipes)
  • 1/4 cup flax seeds
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (it's fall after all)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Mix first 9 ingredients in a large bowl.  Warm butter & honey in a sauce pan until butter is melted, stir to combine.  Remove from heat and add vanilla and almond extract.  Pour over dry ingredients and mix until well coated.  Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper, spread granola on parchment paper to form an even layer.  Bake at 250 for 1 hour.

What ingredients would you add/change to make this granola something your family will gobble up?




Friday, October 19, 2012

Character

One of my many goals as a parent is to do everything in my power to make sure Alexa becomes a well rounded, contributing member of society, and the person Jesus wants her to be.  At times I struggle with finding balance in this.  I want her to have a fun life, and have and do fun things...but in the end I know that won't always be possible.

Since Adam and I got married just over a year ago, we made the commitment that we wanted to get out of debt and over the past year we have paid off quite a bit of it.  Almost $13k actually.  And while I view this as a great accomplishment, the sad fact is, we weren't consistently being diligent.  A very sad fact, indeed, when I see how far we have to go.  As part of this endeavor we enlisted Alexa's help...no she doesn't sell lemonade on the side of the road to pay bills, and we don't steal her birthday money (ok occasionally when I'm low on cash, but I pay her back!).  I want to pass along a great legacy to my children and grandchildren, and part of the way we're going to do this is by teaching them about money from an early age.

I am fortunate that my parents have always been good with money, and have done a great job of managing it over the years.  Unfortunately for me, it wasn't something they really discussed with us as kids, so when I was out on my own I felt lost at times.  Debt is so easy to get into, and nowhere as easy to get out of so it is a horrible trap too many Americans fall (and by fall I mean willingly walk) into.  Most of them permanently because they believe the lie that this is normal.  I was one of these unsuspecting people who fell jumped with both feet into the trap.  How did this happen?  I never witnessed my dad use anything but cash, and my mom has a credit card, but she is not the monthly minimum kind of girl.  It happened because well quite honestly I'm stupid at times, and because I have no sense of delayed gratification.

One of the ways we share this with her is by discussing our debt freedom plan, and telling her the steps we are taking to get there.  It means we don't go out to eat often ever, and we don't buy all of the things we might have before when we go to the grocery store.  It means if we go to Target to pick up something we need we aren't going to look for a toy while we're there.  On top of these things Alexa also understands that the payoff is big time.  Our goal of debt freedom will be celebrated with a BIG vacation.  Most likely 2 big vacations...a fun one for the family, and a getaway for mommy and daddy!  Come on, what child doesn't want to go on a big vacation???  This is something we remind her of when her consumer mindset takes over (I mean who would've thought that was possible at 6??) to help her keep our goals in site.

We believe God is going to bless these efforts and honestly already has.  It wasn't until we established our first budget and lived by it for a few weeks that the opportunity to partner with my sister and her husband at Back40Life became a reality.  God took our single income family and multiplied it with the blink of an eye.  There have been other blessings along the way, and somehow the money just seems to go further.  Amazing how that happens when you handle money God's way right?

I want to record the remaining steps of our journey here each month with an update on our finances so we have a record to look back on, and see how Jesus has poured out his faithfulness upon us.  We feel this is building not only our character, but our daughter's as well, and that alone is worth it.  When she is my age and possibly married with children, I hope she will be able to look back at the life we lived and be proud of it.  That she will feel like we paved the way for her to have a successful future.  I have no doubt there will be moments along the way where she doesn't see it, but if she appreciates it later that's just fine too.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Cows & Pumpkins

Between our budget and eating better I have made a discovery.  Eating clean, whole, organic food can get rather expensive.  Especially if you make the leap to the high end products like meat and cheese.  I don't have too much trouble finding produce at a decent price, but paying $6.50 a pound for ground beef is a little more than our budget and my stomach can handle.  As a result I've started looking for other options for buying such items.  I am sad to admit I haven't found a fabulous source yet, but in my search this week we did find some other neat things!

Tuesday I got off work early after an all day staff retreat, so we drove to a farm a few miles from our house. When we got to the store we found out they were in the middle of milking.  Alexa was so excited to see the cows in action!  Granted, she did think it was pretty smelly.  Interestingly enough, I remember going to the dairy when I was little, so it is rather comforting to me.  We grabbed some raw milk and some cheese when milking was over and headed home.


The cow pictured was not fond of the experience...she kicked the suction cups off of her and busted out of the milking parlor...according to the farmer, she doesn't like people.  Oops!

Today we visited 2 other farms on the East side of the city.  Tuttles is an apple orchard and pumpkin patch, and as you can see there were plenty to choose from!  I was a bit sad this year that we didn't get to go to Nivens, we've been every year since 2007, but it is a bit of a drive these days.  I was more than excited when Deborah mentioned Tuttles.  We also went to the Apple Family Farm, but we didn't get any pictures there.  I'm toying with the idea of buying a cow share from them...we'll see how that goes.

Alexa trying to decide on the perfect pumpkin for her




The whole fam


Alexa and Annabeth seeing how they measure up.  

All in all our week made me realize how much more I want to live on a farm.  I love the idea of our kids growing up in a more natural environment & learning to live off the land.  I'm not sure how long it will be before we get there, but someday it will happen!  Goodness, never thought I'd say something like that!


Friday, October 12, 2012

Keep it simple

With the busyness of life these days it has become increasingly important to Adam and me that our life become as simple as possible.  This isn't always possible as we are involved in so many different things.  Take yesterday for example, Alexa's school sent home a paper for the PTO meeting that was LAST NIGHT!  I actually found out the night before when an automated call came through, and later also received an email.  Who gives 1 day notice for that type of thing?  This morning when she brought the note from school to me she informed me the class with the highest attendance got an ice cream party.  Great, now I feel guilty for not going.  Do you think if I buy her ice cream it will make it all better?  Fat chance!

A simple life.  Sounds lovely to me.  And so simple.  But if you walked into Alexa's room right now, you would see anything but simple!  Her room is not very large, and her furniture takes up a good portion...but on top of that, she has more toys, books, and papers (I'm raising a pack rat, she wants to keep every scrap she cuts and every piece of something she finds) than one child house should be allowed.  And the stuffed animals OH MY!  I swear they take over her bed at night and I'm honestly not sure how she sleeps with them beside, behind, under, and on top of her!

It seems like every year around her birthday and Christmas we clean out and give away, and yet with each event it seems the pile has grown to even greater proportions.  After reading some different blogs we decided this year would be different.  For Christmas she will receive 4 gifts from us, and they will fall into the following categories:
  1. Something she wants
  2. Something she needs
  3. Something she wears
  4. Something she reads
Obviously it is easy for us to control what happens at our house, but that's not the only place she receives gifts, and let's be honest, as her mom I don't want to give her practical gifts and gifts of necessity while everyone else gets to give her fun stuff.  So, I decided to write a letter to our family and ask them to partner with us on this venture.  After all, there is so much more to Christmas than presents.  Now that we are 9 hours away we cherish the time we spend in SC more than ever and see that time as a gift.  And of course without the gift of Jesus we wouldn't have anything to celebrate.  I am so thankful my Savior came to earth all those years ago knowing he would die on a cross for my sins.


You might notice in the letter I only listed 3 options instead of 4...this was by design!  The whole point is to cut down on the number of toys she receives.  If I gave the fun option to everyone, they would choose fun, and once again I would be stuck with practical and necessary.  NO THANK YOU!  I accept that this is probably an flaw on my part, and that I should probably work on it, but if the whole point of this exercise is to help control what she receives I have to limit it in some form...admitting you have a problem is the first step, right?

I would love to hear your thoughts on our letter.  It will be interesting to see how this first year goes, but our plan is to continue this for the years ahead.  That doesn't mean there will never be an exception, but certainly at this point in our journey this is the best way.  Are you looking for simplicity in your life?  What have you found that works for your family?  Please come and share with us!

Monday, October 8, 2012

The BEST is yet to come!

It is hard for me to believe that this time last year I was waiting to marry the man of my dreams.  Nervous about timing, rain, and everything else a bride can think of, and excited out of my mind that the day we dreamed about and planned for was finally here.  On one hand it doesn't seem like it's possible that an entire year has passed, and on the other so much has changed it seems our wedding is a distant memory.


I can honestly say that day was a dream come true for me.  Every girl dreams of that day for so long, and at times not only do we put more effort into the wedding than the marriage, but I also think we can put it on a pedestal so high our greatest efforts to reach it fall short.  That was not the case for us.  I think back on that day often, and thank Jesus for bringing this wonderful man into my life and Alexa's life.  I couldn't have asked for more.  I see Ephesians 3:20 come to life more and more each day in our marriage, and the words in my head do not come close to doing justice to how I feel.


This year has brought some crazy changes our way, and what seemed like huge leaps of faith at the time.  No doubt onlookers still see them that way, but when they become every day life it goes from crossing a canyon to stepping stones.  I have joked that with a step of faith as large as moving 500 miles from our home and family, nowhere to live, and no jobs, I could only imagine what our next step of faith would look like! God is so gracious to provide for us each day, and I pray we never take it for granted.

I am looking forward to the leaps or steps the future holds, and pray Jesus will prepare the way each day so we will know the way when we happen upon them.  I've been told the first year of marriage is the hardest, and if that is true all I can say is the best is yet to come!

To my dear sweet husband, I love you so much and there is no one else I would want to walk this journey with.  Thank you for standing by my side every day, even when I'm irrational, crazy, and make dumb decisions.  Thank you for leading our family each and every day toward the next step God has planned for us.  Thank you for working diligently to reach our goals.  Thank you for loving me and our daughter.  It means more to me than you'll ever know.  If we've come this far in a year, I can't wait to see what the next year holds for us!


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I forgot

I started writing this blog in 2007 just prior to Alexa's first birthday, and in 2009 just a few weeks after she turned 3 I called it quits.  I recently came back, for a number of reasons, but now that I'm back it has me wondering why I left in the first place, and why I ever started.  This week I went back and read some of the blogs I posted between 2007 and 2009.  And now I remember.

If you met Alexa today you would probably take her for an independent, extremely smart, and sassy 6 year old who loves being girly, kindergarten, and asking as many questions as she can possibly think of at one time.  I want to remember that.  When I have other children and can't keep them straight, I want to be able to look back at my blog and recall funny times we shared.  When I'm a grandmother who loves stuffing her grandchildren full of candy and spoiling them rotten prior to sending them home, I want to be able to tell them stories about their parents.  I remember every time she did something funny thinking 'I'll always remember that', but the truth is, I can't.  So that's part of why I write.

If you didn't know her then, I highly recommend taking a trip down memory lane with me, not because I'm a fabulous writer, but because my child is hysterical!  If nothing else, I will keep this up for the memories.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Another Year

At this time 6 years ago I was laying in a hospital bed, completely worn out from the days activities, holding my dear, sweet, 7lb 1oz baby girl in my arms.  I have never been so amazed, exhausted, and thankful as I was that day.  Here we are 6 years later and that thankfulness does not stop.  Alexa is truly a blessing in our lives, and although she is sassy, independent, and too much like me at times, I love her more than words could even describe.  I thank Jesus for her daily, and pray I allow him to teach me to be a better mother.  Happy birthday Alexa Lynn, mommy & daddy love you so much!

just minutes old
1st taste of cake
2 years old
she tried to eat the fondant princess on her cake
How a year changes things!
She still loves to put icing all over her face & not eat the cake
My birthday princess with her Barbie cake

News!

Big news!  HUGE NEWS!  Super duper exciting news...well, at least if you're me.  As you know about 6 months ago we took the leap to grinding our own wheat and making our own bread.  I admit, while I love baking and cooking, I've never done so much of it in my life.  At times it seems overwhelming, and even impossible when I look at my busy schedule, but somehow every week I make it happen.  I'm sure there are little elves and fairies that help right?  Well, in the form of my wonderful husband and sweet daughter of course!  Um...I hope Adam doesn't think I was calling him an elf.  I guess it's a good test to see if he reads my blog. ;)

Oh back to my news!  So one of the major components of grinding your own wheat, ok the only component other than the wheat berries, is your grain mill.  When my dear sister brought me this idea through Sue of The Bread Beckers we were operating on one income, and to be quite frank a $260 grain mill was NOT in the budget.  I did some research, looked on ebay, craigslist; but at the end of the day unless it was free it just wasn't going to happen.  Then one of the many blessings of being newlyweds came into play.  We were given a lot of wonderful gifts for our wedding, but we decided our best bet was to return a good many things for store credit and repurchase them based on need and space.  When you move 500 miles and downsize from a 3 bedroom 2 bath 1350 sqft house to a 2 bedroom 1 bath 850 sqft apartment, it really changes your priorities.

I seriously have a problem with getting sidetracked...

We found a grain mill and bought it with store credit.  Now, let me say there is nothing wrong with my grain mill, but it isn't as nice as the lovely mill I really want.  It gets the job done, but it is a little cumbersome and it also makes it a little more difficult to not make a mess.  Stop shaking your head, baking does not have to be messy.

The amazing people at WonderMill offer a challenge to food bloggers, try their product, post a few recipes, and see what you think of the wonderful world of freshly milled wheat.  I by no means consider myself a true blogger, let's face it, no one is begging to advertise on my site, but I thought I'd give it a shot.  As of Thursday you are looking at the newest blogger for The Grain Mill Wagon!  I can't tell you how exciting this is for me, my sweet new mill is already on a UPS truck somewhere being mistreated and lonely on its way to me.  **sigh** Oh how I can't wait to grind my wheat, grain, beans, corn in my new mill.  I feel incredibly blessed to have this opportunity, and can't wait to share the outcome with all of you!

If you blog, like to cook, and have any interest in grinding your own wheat, I would highly recommend checking out this challenge.  It's a great way to get your hands on this amazing product (trust me, I've seen it in action) without the huge commitment the price-tag brings.  I hope you will check back often for the recipes I create using my new mill and check out The Grain Mill Wagon as there are already hundreds of great recipes there to inspire great homemade meals for your family!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Confession

So remember yesterday when I was talking about getting up early and how great it was gonna be...well, in my mind while writing said post I thought to myself, 'tomorrow I'll get up and write a quick blog post on how great our morning was and show my progress success in early rising'.  Yeah, that didn't happen!  The alarm went off at 5, and I politely threw it across the room. Then when Alexa's alarm went off at 6:30, she came bounding into our room and crawled right into snuggle with me.  How can you argue with that?  Honestly I'm not sure what time we actually did get up, but the morning was still good, just not AS productive as it would've been at 5.  We were out the door on time, with lunches made, and my hair is straight...all in all a good morning.  Come to think of it, my body might've been rejecting the idea of exercising at 5, which I was tossing around in my brain the night before.  Clearly it sabotaged me!  I suppose we will try it again tomorrow, after all Jesus isn't finished with me yet!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Changing

If you have known me for any amount of time, you know I am NOT a morning person and that is putting it lightly.  For the most part I cling to my bed each morning desperately hoping for a few more minutes of snugly warmth under the covers.  And on more than one occasion I have granted myself this wish to the detriment of my morning routine.  The snooze button is my mortal enemy and typically my 5 minutes turns into more like 45 and then I hit scramble mode instead.  Enter last night...

Each week we meet with our leadership group for Resonate and during that time we discuss wins and opps for our most recent Sunday, upcoming events, and receive a challenge from our pastor. One of our topics of conversation last night was how busy we are & the feeling that we can't balance it all.

After the meeting was over, Davey (aforementioned pastor) and Adam were talking about productivity and other things and mention was made to getting up earlier being the key.  Davey posed that we think other times are more productive, but if we will get up early we might be surprised.  Of course I'm thinking at 5am the ONLY productive thing is sleep!

Now, I have to admit, I am probably more than a little skeptical, mainly because I feel like I've tried this before an it has NEVER worked!  Then again...have I really?  So, on our way home we decided it was worth a shot.  I mean we had nothing to lose but sleep, and if all else fails we can always return to our snooze button way of life.

Today was our trial run, and to be honest I felt rather productive.  I was able to help Adam with vinyl before I got ready for work, and even threw in a load of clothes.  I imagine tomorrow morning will be a little more difficult when it comes to the actual getting up part, but we shall do our best.  I'll keep you posted as our trial goes on, and hope to report news of becoming a chipper morning person (don't hold your breath).  What do you feel is your most productive time of day?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Busy...

In each season of our life, I have thought "how busy are we?" and "when will this slow down"...and for some reason I believe it when I tell myself "the next season won't be this bad...".  YEAH RIGHT!  Adam and I are staring down our 1 year wedding anniversary and all I can say is man, we're still busy.  Last year at this time, I was planning a wedding, being a single mom, working full time, and going to school full time.  That's definitely a busy season.  Now, I'm married, with a kindergartner, still working full time, and helping plant a church.  Yep, still busy.  Does your life feel this way too?  What do you do to keep a grasp on things during these busy times?

While this season (and every season) is busy in it's own right, I am thankful for the journey we are on.  I'm still full swing in baking, and have some new recipes I want to try.  Maybe I'll get around to that later today, and maybe I won't.  Either way, stay tuned for an update.  And don't forget to take time to stop and consider the beauty of God's creation around you each day in your busyness!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Pop-tarts

Yesterday I made pop-tarts ok fine toaster pastries?  Now seriously which one of you actually refers to the wal-mart brand as toaster pastries?  That's what I thought, as I was saying I made pop-tarts yesterday.  I had the sweetest little helper!  She loves being in the kitchen with me, and I love encouraging her appreciation for cooking and baking.  And how stinkin cute is she in that apron?!

First we mixed our dough...just a little tip, it is extremely greasy at first (with 8tbsp of butter who is surprised?) but if you continue to knead it will come together nicely.




roll the dough between 2 layers of parchment paper.


























Use a pizza cutter or something similar to cut your dough into roughly 2x4 rectangles and move them to a baking sheet lined with parchment.


Spoon filling onto each rectangle and cover with another crimping the edges together





One satisfied little girl taking her snack on the road!



For the filling Alexa requested plums, but they were not ripe so we opted for nectarines instead.  I have to admit I wasn't optimistic as the filling was rather tart even after we added some honey & sugar, but when Alexa tasted the final product she liked it.  I simply sliced the nectarines, added a little butter, honey & sugar and cooked them down on the stove for a little over an hour.  I started this the day before while I was baking bread, muffins, and tortillas.  It was great to just pull it out of the fridge when it was time to fill the pop-tarts.

Pop-tart recipe:
  • 3 cups freshly milled flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
  • seedless jam or other filling
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.
  2. In a large bowl, place the flour and salt, and whisk to combine well. Add the melted butter, honey, vanilla and milk, and mix to combine. The dough will be thick and a bit greasy. Knead the dough until it is smooth. It should hold together well.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a large sheet of unbleached parchment paper, and cover with another sheet of parchment. Roll into a rectangle about 1/8 inch thick (the thickness of a nickel). With a pastry cutter or sharp knife, slice into 2-inch-by-4-inch rectangles. Gather, reroll and cut the scraps into rectangles.
  4. Spread about 1 tablespoon of filling on top of half of the rectangles in an even layer, stopping about 1/4 inch from the edges. Cover each with another rectangle, and press along the edges to seal.
  5. Transfer the tarts carefully to the prepared baking sheets and bake, rotating once, until very lightly golden brown all over, and a bit darker around the edges (about 16 minutes).
  6. Allow to cool completely on the baking sheet. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 to 4 days. They can be toasted before serving, just like the original.
  7. Freeze leftovers. Defrost in the toaster oven.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Adventures at the Zoo!

Today we went to the zoo!  Thanks Matt & Deborah for inviting us!  We had such a good time.


feeding the birds



petting a shark


Mr. Tiger came to say hello!


riding the carousel on a polar bear


PENGUINS!


Baby elephant

Take me out to the ball game!

Saturday night Alexa and I got to go to an Indian's game with our family that lives in Indy, and it was such a great treat! When we entered the ballpark Alexa spotted Rowdie so we ran over to grab a hug and a picture.

During the game we cheered for the Indians, ate popcorn & cotton candy, and visited with Matt, Deborah & Annabeth.  Even though we missed Adam tremendously it was a great night.  On one of the many outings Alexa took during the game with Aunt Deborah, she came back with a foam finger.  She thoroughly enjoyed waving it everywhere.  As we approached the end of the game she asked Uncle Matt to take her down to see if she could get a ball.  The players are really good about throwing them into the stands at the end of each inning.  They made one attempt, but none of the players were close to where they were standing, Alexa was not discouraged.  When the 2nd out came the next time around, she and Matt marched down again. 

 Now, as a mom you always want your child to be the one who is picked out by whomever might have the ball (or whatever coveted item is at stake) but you also must realize there are 20 other kids who are hoping for the same thing.  Alexa was smaller than most of the kids down there, and she also wasn't brandishing a glove.  She and Matt both waved, and Matt pointed to her.  I saw the catcher look at her, look at Matt and point to her before throwing Matt the ball.  She was SOOOOO excited, and I thought my heart would burst I was so happy for her.  I wish Adam could've been there to experience it with her!  Thanks Uncle Matt & Aunt Deborah for taking us to the ballgame, it made Saturday night much more fun even though we were missing daddy!  We are so thankful to have family in Indiana, it has made this transition so much easier as we started a new life here!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Baking: Day 1

So I promised some new recipes this weekend...and that truly was my intention, until I realized that none of those are my regular repertoire.  Ok fine, that was obvious as I said they were new recipes.  Anyway, I had to make sure I got my regular baking done while incorporating the new ones along the way.
Since we began this journey of milling our own wheat I have done my best to make all of the products we typically use from scratch.  This has proven to be challenging.   For the most part I am really good about making muffins each week, and in the beginning that was a good step.  Then Alexa started kindergarten.  I quickly realized two things: 1. I didn't want her eating lunch at school for health and budgetary reasons, and 2. muffins weren't going to cut it.

For the first 3 weeks of school she has mostly taken sandwiches and without complaint, but I want her to have variety...enter the tortilla!  Now, I will confess this is not my first try at tortillas...I've actually tried them twice corn & flour...neither of them were worth eating!  To be honest they were downright GROSS.  I would not be defeated, I love mexican food far too much to go the rest of my life without eating it.  I found a new recipe from the Bread Beckers; I get a good many of my recipes from them as everything is made with freshly milled wheat, it takes some of the guess work out of it.

One of the recommendations the Bread Beckers make is using everything in your kitchen to the fullest, so today I took that advice and used my bread machine to mix up the tortilla dough.  It made that part of the process super easy, just dump, set and go.  30 minutes later I came back to a lovely ball of dough.  I let my dough rest for a few minutes while I put some loaves of bread in the oven to proof and then I began the process of rolling out the tortillas.  **Side note, in a perfect world I would have a tortilla press, and a maid, and millions of dollars, but since it isn't a perfect world I will roll my tortillas by hand for now.  I'm also aware that the tortilla press is about the only thing on that list that I'm likely to have in any world.


Take your dough and separate into golf ball sized portions.


On a lightly floured surface flatten one ball at a time


Now roll into something resembling a circle. (*confession, I read in another recipe you can use a plate and parchment paper to make these into perfect circles and that was my original plan, but then I realized they will taste just as good (or bad) regardless of their shape, so I opted for the easy way out. 




Place each tortilla on a heated skillet for approximately 1 minute on each side.


Don't the look beautiful and delicious?


Quesadillas anyone?  BTW Alexa approved completely!

I also made 2 loaves of bread and muffins today, but the rest of my grand plans have been postponed until tomorrow.  One of the many benefits to a long holiday weekend!  Hope you are doing something fun with yours!

Tortilla Recipe
2 1/2 cups freshly milled flour (I used a mix of hard red, hard white, spelt, barley, and a few beans...not exactly Ezekiel mix, but close to it)
1 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp lecithin
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda

Throw all ingredients in a bread maker (on dough or pasta cycle) and allow to knead for approximately 30 minutes.  You may want to check after 15 minutes to be sure you have enough flour to make the mixture smooth.  Allow to rest upon completion.  Break into golf ball sized portions, roll out one at a time.  Transfer to griddle and cook for 1 min on each side.  Store in a storage bag in the fridge until ready to use.