About Me

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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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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.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Thankful

Over the past week our life has been anything but normal.  We got a call last Friday that Adam's stepdad had been hospitalized.  We weren't sure how serious it was until Saturday morning when he was moved to ICU.  Being 8 hours away makes this type of situation that much harder.  We jumped in the car and raced (as quickly as possible without getting pulled over) to his mother's side.  Adam spent the next 72 hours at the hospital, and during that time we made the decision that Alexa and I would return to Indianapolis on Monday.

I was a single mom for about 4 years before Adam and I got married and I recall those times being difficult at best.  When things were bad there was no back-up, and when things were good there was no one to stand back and share it with.  I can't begin to explain how thankful I am that 2.5 years ago Adam made the decision to pursue me.

That brings us back to the present...I have been away from my husband for 6 days now and I miss him terribly.  I don't sleep as well when he isn't here and while I love spending time with Alexa, it just isn't the same without him.  He definitely made our family complete.

I want to thank the mothers who do this every day; single moms, moms with traveling husbands, and most importantly military moms.  There is a finite amount of time that I will be without Adam and this time it is 10 days, we will be reunited in SC on Wednesday.  For some military wives they spend months at a time away from their husband, and life carries on at home in his absence.  They don't know for sure when he will be home, and sometimes he never comes home.  I can't begin to imagine what that feels like, and I pray I never will.  To all the wives and mothers who sacrifice on a daily basis, thank you, from the bottom of my heart, thank you!