Thursday, December 29, 2011

Yummies admit it, your NY resolution really IS to lose 15lbs. And eat a little healthier. Let me help you out. Here are a few fabulous recipes that either have been staples in our house, or are new ones that will NOW be staples in our house!!

Harvest Muffins (easily made gf or regular - just use regular flour if you're not gf)

This recipe comes from Wheat-Free, Gluten-Free Cookbook for Kids and Busy Adults by Connie Sarros.

I was beYOND impressed when I made these. Even gluten-free (definitely use your xanthan gum, though, if your gf flour mix doesn't already contain it) they were light, fluffy, and perfect. I was like, shazzam. So was Levi.

1c chopped pitted dates (use wet scissors for the easiest chopping)
1/2 c raisins (I got sick of chopping dates so increased the amount of raisins and decreased the dates)
3/4c water
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2c brown sugar
1/2c unsweetened applesauce
1/4c orange juice
1/4c olive oil
2t vanilla
1 1/2 t almond extract (I didn't have any)
1/2c chopped nuts (I omitted this)
2c g-free flour mixture (my fave is Bob's Red Mill all-purpose gluten-free mix)
1/4t salt
2t baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 t cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350, spray muffin tins (I brushed them with olive oil, turns out fine)
2. Put the dates and raisins in a large saucepan. Add the water, bring to a boil on the stove, boil till the water is absorbed (~4min). Remove from heat and let mixture cool.
3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a fork till frothy. Stir in the brown sugar, applesauce, OJ, olive oil, vanilla, and almond extract.
4. Stir in the dates and raisins, stir in the nuts.
5. Add the flour mixture, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon, and stir with a rubber spatula just until the ingredients are blended (over-stirring makes for dense muffins with weird peaks).
6. Spoon the batter into the muffins tins to about 2/3 full.
7. Bake for about 15 minutes or till a toothpick comes out clean. Let sit for about 10min before removing from pans.

Tuscan Soup

from The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast by Kristen Feola

Okay, if I make something like spaghetti, Levi's like meh about it. When I make this soup, he's on it like bark on a tree. Go figure.

1T olive oil
1c diced onion
1c diced carrot
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 c vegetable broth (I really like Better Than Bouillon, it's a really hearty flavor that rivals beef broth)
1c dry lentils, sorted and rinsed
1 (15oz) can cannellini beans (or garbanzos, or whatever)
1 (14.5oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 (10oz) pkg frozen spinach, unthawed
1/2T dried rosemary
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste

Saute onions and carrots in olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, until onions are translucent. Stir in garlic and cook for about 30 seconds more. Add remaining ingredients, heat to boiling, then reduce heat and simmer for about 20-25 min with tilted lid.

Tastes great with brown rice added in. I like to serve this with a Greek salad, hummus, and pita chips.

And finally...

Chicken Nicoise

from the good ol' Betty Crocker cookbook

1 1/4 c dry white whine or chicken broth
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2c frozen small whole onions (not terribly important if you don't have them)
1T Italian seasoning
1 or 2 bell peppers, sliced
6 Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
2c hot cooked rice

1. In a 10in skillet, heat 1/4c of the wine to boiling. Cook chicken in wine about 5 min, turning once, until outside of chicken is white.
2. Add garlic, onions, seasoning, bell peppers, olives, and remaining one cup of wine to skillet. Heat to boiling, boil 5 min.
3. Reduce heat to medium, cook 10-15 min until chicken is cooked thru. Serve on rice.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Be Well in 2012

Sorry I've been such a blogging slacker. Sometimes that's just the way it is.

I'm sitting here trying to be deathly quiet because I'm waiting for a little boy to go to sleep. I can hear him thumping around his bed and making quiet noises to himself, which is fine with me...but yesterday, instead of going to sleep after his little quiet playtime, he escalated into a full-out assault against his nap. I can probably count on one hand the number of times he's really come unglued that way, but when it happens, it just feels awful.

I never wanted to run a tip-toe household, and when he was a little baby that worked. I could vacuum around him, sing at the top of my lungs, and nearly land a plane while he blissfully slept. It's not like I plant myself on the couch now and wait for him to get up, but I do move around the house in stealth mode.

So many things I never thought I'd do or say. But actually, there are many things people told me I'd do that I said I'd never do, and I still haven't done them. But they'll come up. Normal ebb and flow, choosing battles and making decisions.

Speaking of's that list of New Year's resolutions coming?

I've decided not to make any resolutions this year; but I have decided one thing...

I want to BE resolute. Own my decisions. Let my yes be yes and my no be no.

This past year I've become more and more this way. Not do things because they should be done, because other people want me to do them. It's come with needing the structure that's inherent with having a little one in the house, with looking well to the ways of my household, with being the gatekeeper of all that begs entrance: what we watch, what we hear, what we do, what we eat.

I want us to be well. Overall. Be mindful, simple, and careful. The world can carry us away with what it has to offer - things we can't afford, that suck our time, that sing our souls to complacent sleep.

A couple months ago, in my little notebook I started a list with four categories, entitled "Be Well in 2012." Catchy, I know. (Hey man, I can write decently, but creativity is NOT my suit.) They apply more to general household things, not parenting or marriage specifically. Anyway, here goes:


*Make God's Word a priority (as in, digging into it, continue being involved in Bible studies, work on memorizing it, etc). Here are some CD's I'd really like to get to sow those little seeds into Levi's heart as well.
*Actively try to apply Scripture to every circumstance
*Continue to make quiet time a priority (a basic rule I've applied is, as soon as Levi goes down for that first nap of the day, it's time for my quiet time with the Lord. No matter what.)


Just keep up with all the little changes I've made over the past few years that are better for the overall environment, as well as the little environment that is our home.

*Line dry as much as possible. (You ought to see my basement. It's like passing thru a jungle when I have three loads hanging in every possible spot.)
*Detox every room as much as possible (as in, switch out products to ones that are 100% natural or homemade)
*No hoarding! Make a semi-monthly habit of recycling items, dropping them off at the mission, etc. When it doubt, throw it out...or at least give it away...
*Maintain a steady cleaning schedule (this has been the #1 thing this past year that has helped me keep my soup in a group!)


*Eat as vegetarian as possible. It's cheaper overall and keeps me creative.
*No compromise on food/ingredients (in our home, that is. Whatever anyone else feeds us, we gladly and gratefully receive!). That means all organic and/or pastured meat, as much local fare as possible, and non-GMO. Yes, we spend more money on food overall, but we figure we'll either spend it now on healthier food, or later in health care costs. It's going out the door either way.
*Cut back on - not eliminate, let's face it... - refined sugars and grains, and find yummy sugar alternatives.
Seriously consider cod liver oil* (Done!! Started taking it a couple weeks ago and already see a difference in our skin!)
Research coconut oil* (done! We use it in cooking, on our skin, on Levi's diaper rashes...)

* is a good resource if interested in looking them up


*Make exercise a priority in our family. I'll admit, this is way harder than when my time was almost entirely my own. Exercise has been redefined for me: several climbs up the stairs with an excited toddler who just learned to scale them...pushing a stroller or pulling him in a sled...having a dance party. But just keep moving!
*Continue to rise early. I just get more done and am more focused for the day when I get up, make the bed, and throw in a load of laundry before Levi gets up (and he's a very early riser!!!).
*Overall, we want to raise Levi (and anyone else who happens to come along, should the Lord see fit!) in a home characterized by having good habits. We'll gladly drop everything to read him a book or play, but we'll also gladly leave him to play alone so we can get something done. We want him to have fun and play, but also want him to see that work (in any form) is a gift and a blessing, and a very important part of life.

What do you resolve for this coming year? How do you want your life or household to look different, or how would you like to "tweak" it? Or do you just want to lose 15lbs and call it good? ;)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

No title

The other day I read a story about an Australian couple, pregnant with twins, who had decided to "selectively reduce" one of the twins because he had a heart defect that would have required multiple surgeries to correct. Well, evidently the procedure didn't exactly go as planned and BOTH babies died. They were 32 weeks. Thirty-two. Weeks. I'm still sitting here puzzled, wondering if anyone else is wondering: at what point did the choice become a tragedy?

But that's not what I'm going to write about.

Every morning I get up somewhere between 5 and 6, and make the bed as soon as my feet hit the floor. If nothing else is accomplished in my day, at least the bedroom started out in some fashion of order. I turn on the radio and half-listen to a rather mundane super-early morning program called "Haven Today" on Moody Radio.

Tuesdays are change-the-sheets days. So I get up, strip the sheets and put clean ones on before I even head to the bathroom. So this morning I do my Tuesday morning routine, flip on Haven Today...and there's a man who is being interviewed who apparently just wrote a book called "Heaven is for Real." Since I caught the middle of the program, I don't know exactly what happened, but evidently this guy's son had something horrible happen at the age of three, and it sounds like he was in some sort of coma or was clinically dead. And after the boy was revived, he started talking about....things his parents had never taught him about heaven. And Jesus. And God. It came out in snippets. He'd be playing in his room, and he'd run out to his parents to blurt out something he had seen, or that Jesus had said to him, during his "time" in heaven.

Now I have to cut out here and say that I'm very skeptical about so-called "near death experiences" where people claim to see light and walk through tunnels. It's not that I don't believe them, it's just...I don't was kind of trendy for a while to make such a claim. Among other things. But Moody is very sound and choosy in the material they present on their station. I know they wouldn't just put a quack on there who claims to have seen God in a drug-induced haze.

Anyway. So I was kind of intrigued listening to this man talk about his son and the things he had seen. I was enjoying a program that I normally find to be kind of lame.

And then the program host said, "...and then he met a certain little girl. Tell us about that."

I'm going to have a hard time writing this.

One evening, the boy blurted out, "I have another sister." And he ran back to his room.

The man's wife stopped cold - what did he say?? They had never told him about a miscarriage they had had years before, at around two months gestation. The parents followed him into his room, telling him you don't just say something like that to your mom and then leave the room.

"I have another sister. She looks a lot like Cassie (their other child)." And he went on to describe how she looked, how tall she was, and things she had said to him. She was so excited to see someone from her family.

"But she already has a family there, because He adopted her," the little boy told his dad.

You mean Jesus adopted her?, his father clarified...

"No. His Dad did."

God adopted his tiny sister into his family of children - that I love to imagine at times - playing around His throne.

I had started to lose it when he started the story about "I have another sister." By this point, I was face-down and sobbing on my bed.

I still miss Levi's sister. I know Glory Baby was a "she" and most anyone who's lost a baby before you even have a chance to wrap your mind around it will tell you they know the baby's gender in their heart. It's not like I think about it all the time or dwell on it or anything like that. It's just that at this time of year - the week that it all started to unravel - the loss is just that much more apparent. I love my little boy to pieces. But I loved that baby too. And I find myself just weighted with uncharacteristic sorrow - but then I look at the calendar and think, "Is it already that time again?"

I feel stupid that I still grieve one loss, one early-pregnancy miscarriage, when so many other people have lost so much more. But grief is grief, no matter what he wears when he waltzes into your home unbidden and unwelcome. Whether it's the death of a child, a relationship, a leaves a wound that eventually heals but is still blaringly obvious to the one who bears it.

After sobbing again on my basement floor (surrounded by laundry, mind you),I went for a walk this afternoon just to do anything to shake the fog that insisted on following me all the livelong day. I began thanking the Lord for anything I could think for which to be thankful. And then I began, instead of dwelling on my loss, to pray for an armload of people I know right now who would give anything to have a child. Who would give anything to be pushing a bundled-up little boy in an over-sized jogger on a cold afternoon. People I know and love who never thought Grief would show up at their door and muscle his way in. Who never once imagined that this was a road they'd have to walk.

So you know who you are. I prayed for you today. I prayed you'd be comforted to know that your child is adopted by the Creator Himself. I prayed the desire of your heart would be answered and your womb would open to receive and nurture life. I prayed for you by name.

And I came home feeling revived. We ARE loved by a mighty God.