Friday, January 30, 2009

The Girl Needs Something to Do!

The other day, this is how I found a few of my Willow Tree things:

The handiwork of Cloe. A free decorating service, perhaps?
After school, it seems like I'm always busy trying to get supper ready and completing final touches of cleaning before Cody gets home from work. I don't like to have Cloe just plop in front of the tv, but sometimes it's hard to keep her occupied.
She is becoming more and more interested in helping in the kitchen, so yesterday, I got everything ready and told her jump in! One of our favorite quick breads is Cranberry Orange Bread. It is so citrusy, tart, fresh and yummy! She had a blast mixing this up and was so proud of herself when the beautiful bread came popping out of the oven!
Here's the recipe--it's obviously kid friendly too!


Cranberry Orange Bread

2 c. flour
1 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 c. shortening
3/4 c. orange juice (we like the extra pulpy kind)
1 tsp. orange rind, grated
1 egg
1 c. fresh cranberries (chopped)

Stir dry ingredients together and mix in softened shortening. Combine orange juice, rind, and egg. Mix together enough to moisten, carefully add cranberries. Bake in lightly greased loaf pans at 350 degrees until slightly golden brown and toothpick comes out clean. (1 hour for a large loaf and 30-40 minutes for small loaves.)

Enjoy!

Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Braid

For some reason, yesterday I was so hungry for a warm, cheesy, bready, comforting meal. I didn't have things on hand to make pizza or Stromboli, but I did happen to have a surplus of broccoli, cherry tomatoes, and chicken--already cooked and shredded. I googled all of those ingredients with "bread" behind it and came up with this idea. I had to tweak it a lot--it had a full cup of mayo in it which makes me sort of sqeamish...mayo falls in the line of ketchup and mustard...just not our favorites! It was made with Pillsbury crescent dough, too, which I also have some weird resentment toward...I guess too many Pampered Chef recipes as a newly wed.
So, here's the recipe completely "Londa style". I don't know if that's a good thing or not, but we all loved this!

Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Braid

  • 2 cups cooked chicken, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups lightly steamed broccoli
  • 1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup light mayonnaise (next time I think I'll try light cream cheese)
  • 1/2 cup Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1 recipe of honey wheat bread dough (listed below)
Combine chicken, broccoli, mayonnaise, cheeses, tomatoes, onion powder, garlic powder, thyme, and dill. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours to let flavors meld. (They resemble a Ranch dressing flavor.)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Roll dough into a very large rectangle.

Spoon the chicken mixture down the center of the rectangle.

Use a sharp knife to cut 1 inch strips on a diagonal outward from the filling to the edge of the dough on both sides, making sure you have an equal number of strips on each side. Begin and take one strip from each side and pull them over the filling. Continue until all strips are folded over. It should look braided. Form into a wreath on a cookie sheet. Brush the top with olive oil.

Bake for 25 minutes, until golden. Let rest for 10 minutes before cutting to serve.

Yield: 1 braid

Honey & Wheat Bread Dough:
1 c. warm water
1 tsp. salt
2 T. honey
1 egg
2 c. flour
1 1/3 c. whole wheat flour
2 tsp. active dry yeast

Put all ingredients in bread maker and set to dough setting. Stop machine right before it does it's final kneading (about 3 minutes from the end). This way is all raised and ready to roll.


My trusty old bread machine which is quickly turning into an antique--but it does the job well!
I love it for making bread dough!


My lovely dough rolling assistant. She put the final touches on the rectangle.


Loaded and ready to "braid".


This part may sound or look tricky, but it was amazingly easy.
If I can do it, anyone can!


Brushed with olive oil and ready to bake!



Golden brown and ready to serve!
(Sorry, my baking sheet is looking a little too well "loved"!)
Yum!
Do you like my fine china?
Some nights just call for easy clean-up!


*

Thursday, January 29, 2009

I never, ever get tired of seeing my little people peer out the window. I love how observant they are and how little things excite them like seeing snow on the grill, the neighbor's dog out for a potty break, the bunny tracks in the snow, our garden filled with snow. Their commentary on the world around them just cracks me up and makes my day! I am going to miss this view and the sounds of these comical boys so much...please time, freeze!


I'll also never get tired of seeing the little bloopers...poor skinny little Carson! He needs a pair of suspenders! Oh to be so skinny that the pants would just fall off...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Just a little update...

Caitlin: She did great in surgery--so great in fact they couldn't do anything! The first diagnosis of endophyloma (? didn't show up in the dictionary, so I don't know if this is the right term) was completely wrong. The cyst on her ovary had corrected itself by disappearing and they didn't touch her ovary! Yeah!!! She will need to see a g.i. doctor when she heals a little to try and figure out the pain in her side...something to do with an irritated bowel maybe. So much better than losing an ovary! I think this could definitely be a God thing!
Me: Not that you need to know or care, but I have stinkin' strep throat so bad that it was spreading to my joints causing tons of pain in my hips and body aches. I.hate.strep.throat! This is my yearly bout of it...enough already! The kids just have mild cases. Thankfully we are all taking it easy today. I am washing all blankets, sheets, and towels in hot, hot water and pitching all toothbrushes. Tomorrow will be a big scrub down, clear out the germs day, hopefully!

Stay well!

There's another name written down in glory...

and it's CHELSEA!!!
Last night at our Drake Bible Study, Cody was able to talk to Chelsea about trusting Christ as her Savior. It was so cool to hear how she had made a decision that she did believe in God and knew she wanted her life to count for Him more than for herself, but she had a few questions. Cody walked her through all of her questions. She was just beaming when we left...I love how God works in people's minds to give them understanding right in front of you!
Her demeanor and speech just radiate of someone who loves God and wants to please Him with her life! She feels really strongly that she needs to join Willow Creek because she heard Pastor Mike talk about it...so cool!


Here are my two favorite girls! Sisters--found and saved by a gracious loving Savior!
*Caitlin is in surgery right now to remove a mass and one of her ovaries. Please pray for her! I had planned to be there with her for the day and have been up most of the night with a horrible sore throat, fever, body aches...augh! I know God always has a purpose in all situations...pray that Caitlin will come through great and that I won't be too frustrated hanging out with my ginormous tonsils and not being able to love on her!
I almost called some of my insomnia friends about 3:30 this morning, but my voice is too garbled to understand, so I guess you lucked out! :)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Greek Baked Ziti

I'm not sure what's gotten into me, but I am turning into one adventurous momma in the kitchen! To me, cinnamon and nutmeg just don't belong in a meaty pasta dish, and we usually don't love white sauces. But when Cody said he would eat this if I tried it, this recipe had to happen! Guess what! Everyone loved it!
Here's another great recipe courtesy of RR...of course, I had to tweak it a little bit, you'll see!

Greek Baked Ziti

  • Salt
  • 1 pound ziti
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 pound ground lamb (I used ground turkey...can't you hear the sweet baa-baa, don't be heartless)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped or grated
  • 2 to 3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed and chopped
  • 2 pinches ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon (about 1/3 palmful) allspice
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 15-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups milk (I used low-fat milk and it worked great!)
  • A few grates fresh nutmeg
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano, divided
  • 2 pitas, toasted or 1 1/2 cups pita chips (I used gourmet pretzel chips...)
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Place a large pot of water over high heat to cook the pasta. When the water is boiling, add some salt and drop the pasta. Cook to al dente according to package directions. Drain the pasta and reserve.
Step
Place a medium pot over medium-high heat with 2 turns of the pan of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons. Add the ground lamb to the pot and cook until golden brown, 5-6 minutes.
Step
Add the onion, garlic, carrot, thyme, cinnamon and allspice to the pot, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the veggies are tender, 4-5 minutes.
Add the can of tomatoes to the pot and gently break them up with a potato masher or back of a wooden spoon. Simmer the sauce until lightly thickened, 4-5 minutes.
Step
While the sauce is working, place another medium pot over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons butter. When the butter is melted, sprinkle in the flour and cook for about 1 minute. Whisk the milk and nutmeg into the butter-flour mixture, and season with salt and pepper. Simmer until thickened, 3-4 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in 1/2 cup of the grated cheese (about 2 handfuls, just eyeball it) into the sauce.
In the bowl of a food processor, crush up the toasted pita or pita chips to make coarse breadcrumbs. (You can also do make the breadcrumbs in a large plastic food bag using a rolling pin or frying pan to smash them up.) Transfer the crumbs to a small bowl and toss with the remaining cheese and parsley. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and add it to the breadcrumb-cheese mixture.

The critics' responses:
Oh wow! Can we have this every night for supper?
(She says that to all meals she really likes!)
Mmmmm....have to keep my eyes closed to it's dreamy goodness....


Mmm....mmmm....good!! I like this!!!


This obviously makes enough to feed a small army!
The leftovers tasted even better!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday Seven

Today's Sunday Seven is going to be a catch-up of our weekend! It's been GREAT! We all were getting a bit of cabin fever by the time Friday night rolled around, so we headed off to the mall for a fun filled night!The first stop was at Gymboree for a quick check of the clearance bins...BINGO! All the waiting for a find of an amazing winter sale finally happened! The recipient of all the deals: Cloe! Lucky girl! The original total of the clothes would have been $154...on sale, final price was $29! This included a $60 Red Velvet Christmas dress for $6! I'm so thankful that God provides for our clothing "needs" above and beyond what I could ever imagine! The unfortunate part: as I was digging for deals, the kids suddenly thought it was riotous to yell, "FIRE! FIRE!" Not.cool.to.this.momma!
I'm really thankful for Chick Fil-A! Silly as it sounds, they are such a great restaurant and so generous to give out meals! The boys enjoyed their free birthday meals!
Next we headed off to Creative Kidstuff for a Carnival! I love this toy store! The kids had a blast getting their hands painted, making adorable paper bag hats, walking the cake walk, playing relay games, and getting super cool goodie bags! I'm so thankful for their generosity! Those goodie bags have provided us with hours of entertainment!
Our night probably should have ended here, but no...we kept going! The boys had been promised a trip to Build-a-Bear for their birthday, so we jumped into more excitement! Two monkeys...Boo-boo and Billy joined our family. Carson had come up with Billy for his monkey's name, but when we got in the store, he wanted to change it to....Lightbulb. Thankfully he went back to Billy before the certificates were printed, although Lightbulb would have been funny.

Waiting to stuff!


Some serious grooming going on.

Evidently putting together Birth Certificates is causing my brain some pain!?!


Pretty painted hands!


My little sweetie-pie, Clainey!

Carson's turtle!

Check out the hunk in line for cookies!

A sweet treat to end the night! Thanks to Jason @ Remax!
Everyone left the mall with big, tired happy grins! Although sometimes I miss my "babies", I love the fun times we have on family outings now that they're little on-the-go people! I wish I had a small tape recorder to catch all the funny little limericks that come out of their mouths, too!

Saturday was a rare day--mostly spent away from Cody and the kids but really nice, too! We have a small group of ladies at Willow doing a "pilot" of a Bible Study called "Apples of Gold". Half of the time is spent in the kitchen watching, learning, helping prepare an entire meal; the other half is an awesome Bible Study. The group is being led by two mentoring ladies in our church. I was just there as a "cheerleader" for the mentors and for any help needed. It was great!!! I'm really thankful for the willingness of these two "older" ladies to teach younger generations about Christ and share wisdom from their lives with us!


Here are the recipes the girls tried out on Saturday. Everything turned out really yummy!

Cream Cheese Potato Soup
1 large bag frozen hash brown potatoes
1 T. chicken base
1 8oz. pkg. 1/3 less fat cream cheese (cut into small cubes)
1 qt. whole milk
4 T. flour
bacon bits
chopped green onions

Place potatoes in Dutch oven, add just enough water to cover potatoes. Bring to a boil. Add chicken base and cream cheese. Mix until cheese in melted. Add milk. Mix flour with a small amount of milk. Stir into soup quickly to thicken. Top with onions and bacon bits. may be served in bread bowls.

*Dill weed can be added to soup as it's thickening.


Four Bean Chile
1 1/2 lb. lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 15 oz. can cannellini beans
1 16 oz. can Bush's medium chili beans
1 15 1/2 oz. kidney beans
1 15 oz. can Bush's seasoned black beans
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 28 oz. can Rotel diced tomatoes / chiles
1 envelope Lipton's onion soup mix
1 t. cumin
32 oz. can tomato soup

Brown meat in Dutch oven. Drain kidney beans and cannelloni beans. Add all ingredients to meat. Bring to boil and simmer until thickened. Top with cheddar cheese when served.

Perfect Cornbread Muffins
1 c. flour
1/4 c. sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 c. oil
1 c. cornmeal
2 eggs
1 c. milk

Sift flour with sugar, baking powder, and salt; stir in cornmeal. Add eggs, milk, and shortening. Beat with electric mixer until just smooth. (Do not overbeat.) Spoon into greased or lined muffin pan, filling 2/3 full. Bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
Serve with honey butter!

Apple Bars
2 1/2 c. flour
1 c. shortening
1 T. sugar
1 tsp. salt

Cut shortening into flour mixture.

1 egg yolk
milk (put egg yolk in measuring cup and fill to 2/3 c. full with milk)

Add milk/egg yolk mixture to flour mixture. Mix gently--don't overwork. Roll out 1/2 of dough. Put in small jelly roll pan.

8-10 apples, sliced
1 c. sugar
1 T. cinnamon
1 or 2 T. flour

Spread apple slices, sugar, cinnamon, and flour over bottom crust. Roll out other half of dough and place on top. Pinch edges of crust together. Cut small slits in top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until crust is golden and apples are done. Frost with glaze: 3/4 c. powdered sugar, 2 T. butter, 1/2 tsp. vanilla, small amounts of mix...stir until right consistency.

There you have it! All the recipes for a very nice meal!

The last part of my day was a little visit to...
Calli had given me a coupon for a free haircut at the Institute! It was a little time consuming, but the hair cut is really well done. I happen to have super thick, unruly curly hair (a.k.a. nappy!) ...this stylist got it tamed down! Yeah! I am so thankful for the connection I made, too! God has been giving me extra boldness in talking about Christ without shame or nervousness...two hours and forty-five minutes provided a nice amount of time to keep weaving it in! I'm really praying I'll be able to build a friendship with Heather. I invited her to Willow Creek and to our Drake Bible Study--it would be great for her!!!
Today was a great day, too! I am continually thankful for Willow Creek, but today I'm especially thankful for the other pastor's wives. They are the best cheerleaders, encouragers, prayer supporters, sympathizers, friends...they've got my back and I'm sooooooo thankful! (in case you're reading...I love you girls!)
Well, that's all for this Sunday Seven! This week looks to be a busy one...maybe I'll pray hard for another snow day!

Friday, January 23, 2009

What's wrong with me?

Whew! I cannot seem to kick whatever is going on in my head this week! I thought I was getting an ear infection, then a sinus infection, then maybe just a bad cold...who knows! Yesterday was a little better, so this morning I headed off to the chiro with great plans of stopping at the mall on the way home. I had the car all ready with the stroller, a few returns, a bag of snacks, small toys...no such luck. After the chiro appt. that feeling of being run over by a truck set in again, so we headed home.

Sorry for the lack of activity here this week! No exciting recipes to share--although the kids did eat asparugus and sliced tomatoes like they were going out of style last night! I may have a whole new world of recipes to explore! Well, I'm off to take more vitamin C and enjoy a nice hot cup of tea!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I can't believe I made this!

Yesterday Rachael Ray made this on her show. It looked really good and sounded like the perfect comfort food. (Which I need--I think I'm getting a sinus infection, ugh!) I went against my strong obsession to not use ketchup and mustard...it turned out so yummy! Cody said he liked it better than any homemade mac and cheese that I've tried, and the kids loved it, too!

Cheeseburger Chili Mac and Cheese


  • 2 tablespoons EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground sirloin
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup ketchup (I only had 1/3 c. left in the bottle)
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard (I only had two little packets from Maid-rite)
  • 1 to 2 cups beef stock (depending on how liquid-y you want it)
  • 1 pound whole wheat elbow macaroni
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp yellow cheddar (the sharper the better!)
Yields: 4 servings
Preheat broiler. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat for the pasta.
Step
Place a medium pot over medium-high heat with 2 turns of the pan of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons. Add the meat to the pan and cook until golden brown, 5-6 minutes.
Step
Add the onion and chili powder to the pan, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the onion is tender, 4-5 minutes. Add the ketchup, mustard and beef stock to the pot, bring up to a bubble and simmer until slightly thickened, 4-5 minutes.
While the chili is working, salt the boiling water and drop the pasta in. Cook to al dente according to package directions then drain thoroughly and return it to the pot.
Step
Add the chili to the pot with the pasta and give everything a good toss. Transfer to a casserole dish and top with the shredded cheese. Place the casserole under the broiler to melt and brown the cheese. Serve with a simple salad alongside.

Yum-o! :)

Live Blogging!

Here are some thoughts on the inauguration as it's happening (read from bottom up)...

**Alright, it's over...time to get back to my real life...puzzles and blocks today!
*Did you see all the trash left on the Mall between the Capitol and Washington Monument--there's some serious pride in our country.
*Ahhhh...Stars and Stripes Forever...good finale!
*BEAUTIFUL: Star-Spangled Banner...made me proud to be an American again...guess it doesn't take much! We are blessed: freedom!
*Noooooo....as we head back to our churches, temples, mosques...wherever we seek your will...we know you will not leave us alone...we'll sit under our own fig tree...say amen, and amen, and amen...wowza, so many things wrong with this benediction according to God's Word that was taken out of context a bazillion times...
*We sure like to have long prayers at these festivities!
*He, he...one of the commentators just whispered and his mike caught it...he was saying, "We're all starting to pick up on that..." Hmmm....what are we picking up on...
*Why is this weird poem cracking me up so much? I.think.it.is.the.very.metered.speech.pattern...
*It's amazing that we live in a country where most deny God, take Him out of as much as they can, yet we beg God in speeches for grace upon us...interesting. EVERYTHING will bring glory to God! No one can help but acknowledge His control on our country! I love it!
*Very nice "we will kick your butt" statement to any listening meanies...
*HOPE...please, oh please, don't place all your hope in this man. Man will fail us, but GOD never will...He cannot faint, nor grow weary. Only HE can give grace to our country... It's not bad to pray for this President, though! Please do!
*Did you see the little school girl sleeping on the pew in front of her at the church in Philadelphia? Everyone around her started cheering at the end of the oath--poor thing got startled awake.
*That was one quick Oath of Office for such a big job. Things I would have added: Do you solemnly swear to stay faithful to your wife because we all hate those scandals? Do you solemnly swear to be honest--all the time? Could you also read your Bible everyday...
*Why are photographers in huge black coats and stocking caps...do they think that makes them invisible? It looks funny; they're like tucked in around the dignitaries. Oh, I didn't see your large camera at all.
*Itzhak Pearlman and other instrumentalists on "Tis a Gift to be Simple" by Aaron Copland: MY FAVORITE!!! Awesome!
*Aretha Franklin...awesome hat! Maybe could have worked on My Country 'Tis of Thee a wee bit more...I'm just saying...
*Rick Warren's prayer--not too bad. THANK YOU for giving GLORY to GOD! This is God's story...all of history is God's story. He had some pretty good things in that prayer. Of course, who wouldn't want to preach...
*As the former presidents were introduced, the boys applauded each one. So sweet! You could see the years of aging on each Presidents' face. I can't imagine the stress of leading a country! I love George Bush as he hobbled along with a cane and patted each soldier saying, "Thank you, Soldier!" I loved Barbara's big pearl/gold rimmed earrings. I think those were hot back in the day...thanks for hanging in there Barbara!
*Marine band--I could listen all day!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday Seven

Today was another amazing day at Willow Creek! I think I can easily come up with a Sunday Seven on "The Creek"! (I guess that's the new hot way of saying things that deal with our church...just trying to stay current...)
1. This is a no-brainer: I love the music guy! I'm really thankful for the passion God has placed in Cody's heart to play and lead music that brings us together to worship!
2. I'm really thankful for the faithful, joyful musicians, sound guys, and power point peeps that we have who come super early to practice and prepare for the service...nice job gang!
3. Who couldn't be thankful for a beautiful, shiny grand piano! It's housed in an amazing facility that no one could have imagined less than ten years ago. What an amazing gift God provided through a wild journey!
4. I'm so thankful for awesome, caring friends at Willow Creek who continuously give encouragement, shopping advice, mom tips, and great recipes (especially for coconut cake!!!). These friends continuously pray for me and challenge me with ways to be more like Christ! I love them!
5. I'm thankful for all the amazing testimonies we are hearing from new believers and new members. The grace of God is so amazing and it's awesome to hear how He is drawing and has drawn people to salvation!
6. There are two categories of people in church that typically are associated together in a thankfulness list: college kids and old people. I think we have the best of the best! I love our college kids and their passion to learn, grow, and share Christ with others. I love our old people for being so passionate about praying for these kids and for being so supportive and encouraging about the ministry!
7. I'm thankful that nearly 22% of my life has been spent with people from Willow Creek! I would be completely content to make it 100% of the rest of my life! God has blessed us and continues to bless us beyond measure with this body of believers who are striving toward glorifying God!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

Thanks to Martha for this awesome Pizza Dough Recipe from January's Everyday Food Magazine. We love it! (Don't let it scare you...this is super easy dough to work with!)
Making pizza is one activity our kids totally get into in the kitchen. They love to pat our their dough and arrange their own toppings. I think we're going to make these again tomorrow since we have a nice long day at home. This dough provides an awesome warm, homey smell as it bakes! Come on over...

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups warm (115 degrees) water
  • 2 packets ( ounce each) active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for bowl
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for kneading
  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour (spooned and leveled)

Directions

  1. Place water in a large bowl; sprinkle with yeast. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Brush another large bowl with oil.
  2. In bowl with yeast, whisk sugar, oil, and salt. Stir in flours with a wooden spoon until a sticky dough forms. Transfer to oiled bowl; brush top of dough with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; let stand in a warm spot until dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  3. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface. With floured hands, knead until smooth, about 15 seconds; divide into two balls.
  4. Divide each ball of dough into 4 pieces. Using your hands, stretch each piece into a 5-inch disk (if dough becomes too elastic to work with, let it rest a few minutes).
  5. Top with favorite pizza toppings. (The Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook has an awesome recipe for homemade pizza sauce.)
  6. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes or until crust is golden and cheese is bubbly.

This week we said good-bye to a faithful old friend: Nikon Coolpix 2500. The old girl served us faithfully for almost six years! It was time to move on, though. The swivel lense was neat and all, but the pictures just weren't cutting it. Some nostalgic camera guy from California bought this one on Ebay...


And Cody surprised me with this one for Christmas:
We've moved up to the Nikon Coolpix s610. What does all the mean...I've not the foggiest, but I do think it's capturing much better pictures. Like this one:Kissing Cousins! Carson totally has a special place in his heart for this little girl. She is the only cousin he will pray for...thankfully the other two cover the rest of the cousins in their prayers!

Free Suave!

Don't forget to click HERE today and request a coupons for a free Sauve product. Even if it's not your normal brand, pick it up and donate it to the HOPE Ministries Shelter!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Saturday's Special in the Kitchen

On Saturday, Cody had a Sound Clinic at church the entire day, so I tried to come up with some things for the kids that would cover all the basics: nutrition, fun, and something to tire them out! We started out with a good healthy breakfast of Oatmeal Cinnamon Waffles.


Here's the set-up. Please try not to be jealous of my stellar Hello Kitty Waffle Maker. I know, they're all the rage. Who would want nice big Belgium Waffles when you could have miniature Hello Kitty Characters in four designs...awesome! Actually, our old waffle maker died, and this beauty happened to be on clearance at Target for $4.98. Cloe about wet her pants with excitement when I put it in the cart!
Oatmeal Cinnamon Waffles
1 3/4 c. whole-wheat flour
1 T. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1 3/4 c. skim milk
1/2 c. butter, melted (this seemed like a lot, next time I'll substitute ground flax seed for some of it)
2 c. old-fashioned oatmeal
2 T. each cinnamon and packed brown sugar
about 2 tsp. vegetable oil for greasing the griddle

Preheat waffle iron to medium-high. (or just hot on little Kitty) In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. In a medium, mix eggs, milk, and butter together, then add to flour mixture and stir just until combined (batter will be a little lumpy). Add oats, cinnamon, and sugar and mix just until combined.
Using a pastry brush, coat grids of waffle iron with oil. Pour batter into center of griddle and close iron. Bake until golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. (or when little Kitty's light goes off) Use a fork to lift waffle off grids and serve immediately.
*I happened to be out of maple syrup, so the kids enjoyed topping the waffles with a little honey.


Next we headed outside to tackle the snow! I shoveled the driveway while the kids had all sorts of fun! (Yes, I know...the 90's were calling and they said I looked smokin'! I was trying not to smush the hair while wearing the poofiest coat ever made...in 1993. I was just embracing my inner 90's self.)
McClain just couldn't keep his hat on straight but seemed to love the crooked view of it all.

Cloe wanted to be buried in the snow--I prefer the beach for this sort of activity!
All in all, it turned out to be a pretty nice day! It was wonderful to have Cody get home, too!

Shhh....the sneaky mom is back!

Last winter, it seemed that the cold weather made me want to fix every kind of soup out there. This year, the cold weather is making us all hungry for pasta! Cloe's favorite meal is spaghetti and meatballs, so I decided to pack in some extra nutrition. It worked--everyone loved and no one guessed that anything was different! Shhh....please don't tell them! This recipe is adapted from Deceptively Delicious.


Spaghetti and Sneaky Meatballs
Meatballs:
2 slices of whole wheat bread (cut into tiny cubes)
1/3 c. sweet potato puree (watch Target for frozen organic baby food--clearance $.24 for 8)
1/4. c. skim milk
2 T. grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 pound lean ground turkey (watch Target--they clearance this a lot for $.99)
Put bread cubes in a large bowl. Add the egg, sweet potato puree, milk, cheese, salt and pepper and let soak until the bread is very soft. Stir to break up the bread, add the ground turkey, and mix until smooth. Form into mini-meatballs 1/2 to 1 inch in diameter.

Sauce:
1 large can crushed tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 small onion
1/2 c. finely shredded carrots
1 c. chicken broth
1 T. basil or Italian seasonings
salt and pepper to taste

Saute garlic and onions in a small amount of olive oil. Add tomatoes, carrots, broth, and seasonings. Bring to just boiling. Drop in meatballs and let simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Serve over whole wheat thin spaghetti.
*Next time, I will pre-cook the meatballs instead of just dropping them in the sauce. Some of them fell apart. Not a big deal, but I like to know they are cooked completely without just guessing, too.

Ho-ho-ho-hosanna! It's Ho-ho bars!


The other day, Caitlin asked if she could come over and help me make some sweet treats for Bible Study. Of course! I love help in the kitchen! We had a lot of fun making these Ho-ho bars! They are just as good as the real thing--even better with a cup of coffee! By the way, these are in no way healthy or good for you at all; they just taste awesome!

Ho-Ho Bars
1/2 c. butter
1 c. water
2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1/3 c. cocoa, heaping
1 tsp. soda
2 eggs
1/2 c. buttermilk

Filling:
1 c. sugar
1 c. Crisco
1/2 c. milk
1 T. water
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. powdered sugar, set aside

Frosting:
1 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. chocolate chips
6 T. milk
6 T. butter

Cake: Mix dry ingredients; add water, eggs, melted butter, and buttermilk. Mix well. Bake in a jelly roll pan at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool.

Filling: Beat ingredients for five minutes. Add the two cups of powdered sugar. Spread over cooled bars.

Frosting: Boil sugar, margarine, and milk for 1 minute. Add the chocolate chips. Beat until thick. Spread over filling on bars. Cool.

Enjoy!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday Seven

Oh, goodness! It's been forever since I've posted a recipe! We have had a couple of really great things that I promise to post as soon as I can. I love.love.love my new camera but haven't quite figured out how to load them on to the computer...I feel like a grandma! Soon...I promise!
This week was a really, really great week! I thought it was going to be a very calm, quiet week of organizing closets and working at home, but it turned into a wild week of gallivanting around! (Please don't try to imagine me gallivanting...)
Here we go!
*I am so thankful that my sister lives so close! We had a great morning at the Science Center together with the kids! It's pretty cool that God has given us children that can be playmates and buddies considering we are not close in age (she's much, much older...she loves that too!).
*I am also thankful for God's provision of *bargains* at the mall! I knew we had been there too often this week when I held up a pair of pants for Cloe and McClain sweetly said, "Those are just beautiful!!!" He got quite a bit of attention from the people around me for that little quip!
*Snow! Yes, I am thankful for the snow! It looks beautiful and somehow tricks my mind into happier winter thoughts! The kids and I had a great time shoveling on Saturday. Cody had to be gone all day, so we all bundled up and enjoyed time in the white stuff! (I use the terms "we shoveled" pretty lightly...I'm certain they were working against me for part of the time! Good workout!)
*I am so thankful for the baptisms we had at church this morning! It was awesome to see four adults profess their faith in Christ and follow in obedience of baptism! So exciting!
*Caitlin! I think she's already made this list a few times! This morning Cody had the opportunity to baptize her. I am so thankful for Cody's heart to see people come to Christ! It was awesome to see him get to reap a blessing by doing his first baptism! AND, Caitlin's dad and sister, who had never been to our church, came to see her baptized! This was a total answer to prayer and huge blessing for Caitlin and us! They also came to our house for lunch and stayed most of the afternoon talking! God is definitely at work in this family! Her dad said he would love to try out the Willow Creek Cafe in Wednesday...bring it on! Please pray!!!!
(So that was three things, ok?)
*Lastly, I am really thankful that my mom and dad are coming down this week to help with MOPS and stay with our kids during a retreat Cody and I have. My mom always does one random, unmentioned cleaning thing for me...last time she completely scoured my microwave...the time before that she scrubbed down the kitchen floor...dusted the mini-blinds. It's always a secret, though. She doesn't broadcast it...just a nice surprise for me to find! (Please don't think my house is a dirty pit, now...I try hard!)
Hope you all have a great week too! Again, apologies for the picture-less, recipe-less blog...I'll kick in gear soon!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Emails

For the last forty weeks, I have been receiving a weekly email entitled: Your Pregnancy, Week 1... then more emails obviously through 40. I was really relieved to see week 40 come. Finally, the end to these strange out-of-place emails. The "baby" had been born.
I wasn't for sure if someone had played a joke on me by signing me up for these emails or if someone thought we should be pregnant again...or if God was trying to tell us something.
Well, to my surprise, a new email came today: Your Baby, Week 1. Awesome. How long will these continue...my boys are 106 weeks old. Hmmm....

Thursday, January 8, 2009

I realize I've been somewhat of a blogging bore as of late, but I thought today would be different. I thought today had something really exciting in store. I thought K-mart's double coupon sale was just going to make my week. I thought coupons were good things. I thought the clerk would smile and take all the items and coupons I had just laboriously spent over an hour getting all detailed and organized in the cart. I thought I would smile, hand her a small amount of cash, say thank you and return to my real life with bags full of great deals.
Well, it didn't nearly happen like that at all. It was pretty bad. Fine print rules...only available in store as the cash register (because who doesn't check out the rules of shopping at customer service before beginning?). It has caused a small headache to turn into a large knock-me-out one.
Sorry blogging friends. Maybe tomorrow creativity and excitement will return to the sneaky mommy. Hope to see you soon!
(And please don't shop at K-mart. They're on my D list today!)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sunday Seven

Ringing in 2009 has made me reflect on how much I have to be thankful for. 2008 came in rather discouraging: our pastor had just left, Carson's asthma was raging, I was having migraines almost daily, my plate seemed to be overflowing with tasks and responsibilities. God has certainly proved Himself faithful to me over and over. He certainly deserves ALL the glory for where we are as we start 2009.
*I'm so thankful that we have a great new pastor and wife. Today's message was awesome--listen to it here. It was on worrying--1 Peter 5:5-7. I especially loved the small part on pride where Pastor Mike highlighted that we need to be content with the lot that God has given us in life and be responsible to live that "lot" out in a way that reflects all the glory to God. It's not that I'm ungrateful for where God has placed me--I LOVE IT, but sometimes I am irresponsible with the ministry opportunities God puts right in front of me. Sometimes I think I should wait for a more "glamorous" or "appreciated" ministry...It's not earthly rewards or recognition I should be seeking, but rather His Glory! I have realized that I will never be an important eye doctor, a wowing recording artist, a professional chef, a renowned teacher, or even a clerk at GAP...I know, silly dreams right? God has made me a MOM with three little hearts to impact. Some days it seems mundane and other days it's overwhelming, but this is the place God has put me. I so desire to do a better job of impacting my children to want to live for Christ.
*I cannot thank God enough for the awesome steering team we have for MOPS. It feels like a huge burden has been lifted off my shoulders with so many moms stepping up to take on new or more responsibilities. It's so humbling to be a part of a ministry with moms who continually knock my socks off with their generosity of time and work--all while being knee-deep with toddlerhood.
*I'm really, really, really, really thankful that Liz is in charge of Ladies Bible Study...got it!?!
*I am so thankful that Carson seems to be outgrowing his asthma. We haven't had to do a treatment in almost two months--that would be a record! The little guy is actually gaining weight and starting to catch up in height with McClain. The steroids from the treatments were possibly stunting his growth. We're praying for a year of good breathing. Then we'll see how much bigger McClain is!
*I'm thankful for a great friend (named Lydia!) who found a great new chiropractor in town who has helped me so much with my horrible migraines and some weird issues in my hand and arm. It's wonderful to have a head that feels wonderful everyday...almost! I'm also thankful for the door it has opened to invite this guy to church. Pray that God will work in his heart!
*I'm thankful for a year that is starting with a fresh optimistic outlook on all the areas that God is at work in my own life, my family, and at Willow Creek!

Now for a couple of lighthearted items I'm thankful for:
*I'm thankful that Carson and McClain are ok after eating an almost brand new bottle of children's chewable vitamins the day after Christmas. They were pretty proud of themselves for sharing so well! I'm a big fan of the Poison Control Hotline. Super nice, helpful people--hope you never have to call them!
*I'm thankful for some awesome little home upgrades we are currently in the process of setting up--pictures to come!

Friday, January 2, 2009

No time to blog this morning...we've decided to try out ALL of our new toys...at once!
Just thought you'd enjoy knowing we kicked off being three years old with Carson shoving a tortilla chip up his nose. Of course, it had sharp edges and cut up the inside of his nose. He enjoyed having a neosporin coated cotton ball shoved up his nose. BOYS...so gross sometimes!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy Birthday Little Men!
I can't believe how quickly these three years have gone,
but it's hard to imagine life without you two little miracles!
We pray that God will open your eyes to see that Christ
is the only remedy and that you will accept Him as your Savior and
serve Him with your lives!
You've brought us lots of smiles and laughs already,
as well as a few tears and sleepless nights!
We love you so much and can't wait to see where these little
feet will take you this year!
(hopefully, it's too the potty, the library, the zoo...not off the top of the swing, the side of the couch, into the street...)