Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Taking another break

Hi all,

I know I promised some sourdough today, but I have to admit I'm a little overwhelmed.

Class is still busy and my pain level is escalating...I've been taking a lot pain medicine at night after Evie goes to bed.  It's about the only way for me to get to sleep. 

Therefore, until I get class done, I think I'll take a little break.  Not long, but at least the rest of the week. 

So as Tigger would say, Ta Ta for Now!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Mom Monday

Ever wonder what happens when your husband is out of town and you don't have to work the next day??

SLUMBER PARTY with Mommy!!  And a few crumbs in the bed when Daddy gets home....

Happy Birthday, Mommy!

Happy Birthday to the most wonderful Mom and Grammy, ever!!  We would be lost without you...

Love you, Mommy!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

9 Months!!

I'm moving my thoughtful thursday post this week to friday, because today Evie is 9 months old!!

I can't believe how fast she is growing...the time goes so quickly. 

She is so strong, she is already pulling up.  Wow!

Yes, after I shot this picture I took Elizabeth's little table out. 

I personally cannot resist kissing her chubby cheeks every time I see her.  Adorable!!

Crawling is right around the corner and the cat is already on the run.

She loves her baby food, and we haven't found anything she doesn't like yet.  Right now she is eating butternut squash, summer squash, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, peaches, apples, bananas, chicken, and beef.

She's very much a mommy's girl, and I doubt she will wean anytime soon, which is fine with me. Of course some things are more interesting than nursing...

A sweetheart almost all the time, though she does have her moments, Evie has a loving disposition and is fiercly loyal.

A few of the people she loves dearly!!
 You couldn't ask for a more wonderful baby!  Love you, Evie!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

On the way to granola town- Tomato Sauce!!

A while ago, Mark and I embarked on a new adventure- Tomato Sauce. 

Neither of us had ever made tomato sauce, but we didn't let that stop us.  After reading 20 or more posts we came up with our own system.  Hope you enjoy!

The first thing we did was buy our tomatoes.  I know, buy...but the truth is we didn't plant tomatoes in the garden this year.  BIG OVERSIGHT. 

However, we were able to get tomatoes at a very reasonable price at the farmer's market.  What we bought were the ripest tomatoes that needed to be used ASAP.  Perfect for canning.

From there we washed our new tomatoes, cut any bad spots off, and cored them.  No, we didn't remove the skin or pulp.  I figure that there are probably some good things in both that we might lose by getting rid of them at this step, plus I saw a bunch of variance in this step.


We pureed our tomatoes and placed into our stock pot.

Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, and let it cook. The foam will die down...but keep cooking.

In all it took around 2 hours, but I like my sauce a little more watery than others. I did reduce my liquid by half though. Once we were close to my desired consistency, I used my immersion blender to puree the sauce even more.  I LOVE IT.  Get one if you don't have one.  It's fantastic.  Though side note, if you don't have one you can use a blender.

Finally, I strained my final product.  This removed any seeds or leftover skin that didn't cook and puree.

You're left with a super healthy and fresh product!!  We simply froze ours in freezer bags, as we will use these within the year.

The final tally- .44 cents a "can" of sauce.  This is a good 30 cents cheaper per can from my local knock off brand tomato sauce from the grocery store. 

So not only are we cheaper than the grocery store, but we are using local products that are pesticide free, picked and used at freshness, and is HEALTHIER!!  No sodium, as my family has to watch that in particular.  If you don't have to, I would recommend adding some salt if you like during the cooking process, but even then you are likely to add less than the canned goods.

Now it is a little late to help many now, but that said, bookmark and get ready for next summer.  Watch out, Tomatoes!!

Next up on my road to granola- sourdough bread.


So the long weekend, complete with lots of traveling and followed by catching up on school work, has set me back.

Therefore, I bring you Mom Tuesday!


I came home from teaching tonight to find...

Pirate Elizabeth!

Don't be fooled by her sweet smile.  Apparently her ring shoots fire...

Yeah, that's my kid.  The curly red head that apparently has the ability to fling fire.

Just wait until she gets her Spiderman pjs...none of us are safe then. ;)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Taking a week off

Hi all!  This next week is a big one for us.  

Traveling to middle TN for Thanksgiving, cooking a LOT, and then traveling back home.

All while trying to keep up our work and with the girls.  So...

I'm taking the week off from blogging.  It's just easier that way.  

I'll be back though.  Complete I'm sure with holiday pics and lots of fun stories.  Best to you all, and 

Happy Thanksgiving in advance!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday

Last week was one of those "I'm so busy this week, I can't even think" type week.  So I didn't get to write up or publish my thoughts from BSF.

However, I think it is a good thing.  Because last week I had a much needed break, in more ways than one.

Let me explain...

Every so often they ask each class if they are willing to help with the children's program.  I, of course, was interested to see what the girls were doing while I was in discussion.  So secretly I hoped that I would get assigned to one of their rooms.

Lucky me, I got to be with the infants.  Two other ladies from my group and the two teachers were there.  Counting Evie, we each had a baby to ourselves.  

While I did play with more babies than just Evie, it was still so much fun to play with her one on one.  She listened to the story they told (with big pictures of the scene they were describing) and then shook maracas to Jesus Loves Me.  

The whole time her little face was lit up with excitement.  

In those moments, I was able to relax and enjoy myself.  No worries, about all the things I needed to do...just me, my baby, and my God.  

Probably one of the best moments of my life.  

To top it off, I got to enjoy fellowship with four other wonderful ladies.  How rewarding to share our experiences as moms and Christians.  We talked about silly things, work, sadness, and triumph.  I know I have made some great friends for the future.

The morning culminated with rocking Evie to sleep and just holding her while she napped.  What a joy!  

That day reminded me of so much I had forgotten in my rush to get my work done:

to enjoy my kids, because it goes much to quickly,

to set aside time for just me, them, and God, 

because our relationship with God is what really matters and I am so grateful to Him for everything,

but especially for my miracle babies!

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!- Psalm 107:1

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

It's Ok, Wednesday

So I totally stole borrowed this idea from Amber, who got the idea from Glamour magazine. They had a section called Hey, It’s Okay and listed a bunch of things to be okay about. I'm joining in, even though it's not Tuesday, because it's ok!

It's ok...

-that my husband things I'm crazy, because I did totally hear our 8 month old say "hey, kitty, kitty".

I'm mean it wasn't clear like that, but she did say it, even if I haven't heard it again.  I swear!

It's ok...

-to be totally uncool with the whole new Duggar baby.  I'll be honest, I would never tell anyone that they can't have whatever number of kids they want, I mean it's none of my business.

But come on...whose really raising those kids??  It's the older ones!  They even admit they couldn't do it without the help of their older ones.  If that is the case, I see an issue.

Plus after so many pregnancies, risk to mommy and babies go up.  That would terrify me, especially given what happened the last time to them.  But then again, not my business...

It's ok...

-to have gotten out my Christmas stuff early.  Yes, I know I'm crazy!  It's not even Thanksgiving, but truth be told I have a LOT of stuff to put out. It takes time...more time than I have for one weekend.

So I'm spreading it out, especially since the next few weeks we are celebrating/traveling each weekend.  Yikes!

Oh and we are totally saving the Christmas tree until after Thanksgiving.  I do have some standards. ;)

It's ok...

-that I'm totally out of the loop when it comes to most tv shows  and entertainment news.  We don't have cable.

I know, your crazy bells are ringing again.  I mean, Christmas early and now no cable...

But in truth we like it that way.  We watch a lot of netflix (I don't live under a rock yet) and hulu.

The only show I really love right now, Parks and Rec.  It makes me sad that it doesn't have a lot of viewers...it's hilarious!

It's ok...

- that I let Elizabeth watch the Nightmare before Christmas.  Yes, it's scary for kids...but she LOVES it.

Plus before you start thinking I'm a horrible mom, she can say Shakespearean perfectly because of it and she's three!

It's ok...

-to be striving to eat better and live greener (in other words, more granola), but still love a Coke.

Sorry folks, I may eat pastured eggs, local grass fed beef, free range local chicken, local or homegrown produce, make my own bread, laundry detergent, & baby food...but I want a good coke every now and again.

They can over process it all they want...it's still delicious and one habit I have yet to break. ;)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thank you, Mommy!

Ever since I became a mom, I realized what my Mommy went through to get me here.

Birthdays now are more about Mom to me.  Technically speaking, I should get her a gift. ;)

So big thank you to my Mommy!!  She's always been the best mom, and I can't thank her enough for all that she has done. 

My mom, sister, and I with Baby Evie the day of her birth.

Thanks for giving me life, Mommy.  I love you!!

On my way to granola town- Birthday Edition

So each week I write about something I'm doing different in our life that might fall under the category of granola.  Most of it is changes to our food, as we want to incorporate better quality, local, healthier, and in most cases cheaper food options.

But this week is different.


Today is my birthday. 

Not just any birthday mind you, but one of THE birthdays.  Yes, today is the end of an era for me.  Today I am officially no longer a twenty-something.

So in honor of the day of my birth, I'm going to make some granola wishes I hope to fulfill in the future.  Here goes!

1. I want to master sourdough bread.  I've already taken the first step and made my first starter.  Most people keep theirs for years and even name them.  We named it LG- for little girl- that one is all Elizabeth, don't ask. 

Wish me luck!  I hear that it's not easy.

2. Mark and I both want to start roasting our own coffee beans. 

I'll go ahead and say it, we're coffee snobs.  We dislike the over-processed stuff they stock on the shelves.  We're even purist on the ways to brew...it only makes sense that we would continue on our road of "snobbery" to roasting our own beans.  Twenty four hours after a roast is suppose to be the best time to brew.

Anyway, I digress.  We're on our way here too.  Our Christmas gift to each other is green beans and a roaster. Yay!

3. I want to get my crocheting back underway.  I MISS IT.  With class it has been crazy busy here, so no crocheting for me. 

Plus I want to get the Etsy store open. I'm only two months behind. ;)

4. My sewing/embroidery machine is growing cobwebs.  I would like to finish some projects and work up some more things for the Etsy store....if it ever opens.

5. Chickens.  Simply put I want some...and maybe a turkey.  Definitely a cow too...maybe I ought to add fence to that list.

6. I want to learn to smock.  My mom started teaching me, and I stopped after awhile.  But I remember all the cute dresses she made me, and I would love to do that for my girls.

7. Next year I want to can and freeze a lot more food.  I'd like to remove almost all our dependence on store bought canned food, if possible.

8. I hope to perfect my bread making skills.  Right now I'm making our loaf bread and hamburger buns.  It's good, but a little tweaking is needed to make it even better.

I think that's enough wishes for now....though looking back, it looks a little more like a to do list. I guess I better get busy. :)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mom Monday

I was evangelized this weekend.

Don't know what I mean? The dictionary gives two great definitions:

1. Convert or seek to convert (someone) to Christianity.
2. Preach the Christian gospel.

I bet you are wondering what happened.  I mean, my faith hasn't been hidden on this blog, so who on earth would try to convert me or preach at me?  Plus why is this on Mom Monday?

I'll explain.

When we came home from church yesterday I started on lunch.  While I was getting drinks for everyone, Elizabeth turned around in her chair and started talking to me from the dining room.

"Mommy, I want to tell you the truth."

Oh no, I thought.  She's destroyed something. 

Ack!  I just got out a bunch of Christmas boxes...she's been into them...it's probably my Jim Shore angel. 

Oh no no no...please not my angel.

"You see mommy, the word is the truth and it comes from God.  When the star came, a little baby was born named Jesus and he's God."


"Mommy, I just want to tell you the truth...about Jesus the baby."

My head stops reeling and I finally grasped that my little girl is starting to understand our basic theology at THREE! 

"Aw, thank you baby.  You know that is why we celebrate Christmas...it's baby Jesus' birthday"

"I know."

Of course you do, my little theologian.

From a super proud mommy:  Good Job, Elizabeth!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Prayers Requested

Tomorrow morning, Mark's uncle will be undergoing surgery for lung cancer. He's a special person to us and is a Vietnam Vet, who served his country bravely.

We'd really appreciate your prayers for him and his wife, who we love so much.

Thank you!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wordless Wednesday- End of Fall

I rarely get good pics of the girls and I...usually because I  am yelling at the one of them to get them to smile or look at the camera, which leaves me with my mouth open. 

But with fall slowly coming to a close, I thought this picture appropriate.

*edit- apparently blogger or I didn't publish this right.  Hence the wrong day.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

On the Road to Granola Town- Teething Biscuits

Evie has been teething since she turned six months old.  So you can imagine how much she gnaws on everything!

Finally I decided that I needed to help her out, so I went looking for teething biscuit recipes.

Lots of them have whole eggs or lots of sugar in the recipe...which for an older baby (over a year) is fine, but not for my little one (just turned 8 months).

But after lots of searching I found a recipe here.  I liked it for several reasons:

1) Simple and not a lot of fuss.

2) No egg whites- she's not old enough for egg whites yet.

3) No granulated sugar- instead an all natural sugar that actually has nutrients in it! 
 (That is if you use REAL maple syrup.  Don't buy the other stuff, it's just corn syrup with maple flavoring.  So just sugar and no nutrients...)

4)It used applesauce rather than bananas.
Bananas tend to constipate children, and Evie isn't a big fan.  Plus we make our own applesauce, so easy on us.

After finding the recipe, I decided it was time to try.

First I got all my ingredients together.

Then just mix it up.

Roll it out and cut into circles.

Poke holes in the center and widen with your finger.  If you want a wide hole for your baby, make it really wide.  The dough will shrink up when baking.  Evie is still little, so I left them small.  Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 300 degrees until brown.

Let them dry out on your counter over night.  That way they are nice and tough.  Yes, tough!  These are to gnaw on, so you want them to be like a bone or rock. 

Store and enjoy whenever baby wants or up to two weeks.

Oh, and after your baby has slobbered awhile on these, it will get a little messy...but as my mom told me, a messy baby is a happy baby!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mom Monday

Not one to stifle creativity, I usually let Elizabeth create her own projects...

Which is why we have...

Glitter Cat and...

Picasso Witch! 

Let's hope that creativity transfers into millions or at least a few nice wall hangings for Mommy.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Eight Months!

Little Miss Evie turned eight months old on Tuesday.

I know every parent says this, but it's so hard to believe!

She is such a cute, happy baby.

All smiles except when she is fighting sleep.

She loves her baby food and recently started with puffs for a finger food and homemade teething biscuits, which mommies are worth the time!!

However, she is very much a mommy's girl. Even though she can drink from a sippy cup, she prefers her breast milk straight from the tap.

In fact, she makes the cutest little piggy noises when she nurses. (sorry Evie, you'll just have to forgive me for that one)

She is starting to talk! Yes, she says mom-mom for me and da-da for Mark. She also makes a mmm noise when she wants milk. Earlier today she has started to say bye-bye when people wave at her, so cute.

Her most recent trick is waving bye! My little smartie!!

She is also ready to crawl. Yes, she can get on all fours and rock. So crawling is right around the corner.  She loves playing with her sister, and smiles the biggest when she is around.

All in all such a sweet baby! I just wish it went a little slower.

Love you, Evie!

Saturday, November 5, 2011


So this week has been particularly hard.  In fact, I usually do this on Thursday and didn't get to it.  Why?

Single parent.

Behind in my class prep.
Housework piling up.

Pain level not going down.

Exhaustion, primarily from pain taking over.

Then I headed to BSF. Now what I heard didn't fix the bad...but it helped. More importantly it is still helping.

On their first missionary trip, Paul and Barnabus reach Lystra. At first they meet with success.  But then confusion sets in, and finally hatred & cruelty.

The mob focus in on Paul, only to stone him.

By God's grace Paul survives and even more miraculous, he gets up and goes back into the city that just stoned him.

His strength is undeniably heaven sent and his faith inspiring.

The next day, Paul travels to Derbe. There he converts many and meets no persecution.

How rewarding after he struggled so much to share his faith.  It reminded me that we all meet opposition in this life.

It might be big or small, but we all meet it at one time.  How we approach that opposition or circumstance really shows us how rooted in our faith we are...because when we belong to Christ we know we are His responsibility.

He keeps us close in all of life's ups and downs.  

He provides comfort and love.

In our darkest hours, He is there with us.

And you never know...tomorrow might be our Derbe. For no matter the circumstance, God gives us rest and respite between trials.

Until then, don't be discourage, because persecution and hardships are a guarantee from life, but so is Christ's love and faith in us!

For as Paul tells us in Philippians 1:6, "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus".

Single parent

Ok, so the reason I haven't posted until now...

Single parent this week.

All I can say is yikes! I was good except the addition of teaching. That was the straw that tipped this camel's back.

With all the grading, test making, and lecture prep most all of my free time is taken up by class. And it never stops! College kids are needy, and request a lot of stuff...

I mean a lot.

I now understand why some professors seem so strict.

But I digress. I called in reinforcements one night. Thank goodness for my parents! I am blessed to have them!

Now I'm playing catch up and trying to get far ahead on my classes. That way when single parenting strikes again...and it will sooner than I think...I'll be prepared.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

On the road to granola town- Making Yogurt

**Apparently, Blogger posted this and then when I edited it, didn't post it again.  Sorry for the repost and multiple posts today**

So I promised after my first granola post, that I would post on yogurt next...but my love of all things pumpkin over rid yogurt.

But now as promised, here is my adventure in making yogurt!

Like a good computer savvy person, I found a tutorial here for my yogurt adventure.

First I made sure I had a nice clean crockpot and then added my milk (1 half gallon).

We regularly drink non-homogenized whole milk, so that wasn't hard for us.  We switched when I decided I was tired of paying a lot of money for a product that was over processed at the grocery store.  That's when I found a local farm and we started our journeying into local fresh foods, with the least amount of processing.

Now not everyone has access to good milk, and for those of you that want to do this without non-homogenized milk you can do it!  Non-homogenized just works a little better.  The big thing is you don't want to use ultra-pasteurized milk it won't work up right.  Also if you want a lower fat content you can use lower fat milks, but from what I have read, it doesn't work up as well.

Next, I added my thermometer and turned it on low.

The next part is to wait...and wait.  You need the yogurt to get up to 180 degrees, slowly. If you scald the milk it won't work right.  But you can make that into ricotta cheese, so no waste if it happens.

Now my crock pot is pretty old, so when it got close, I added a towel over the top to insulate it.  That helped it get up to temperature a little easier.  Otherwise it takes a lot longer than necessary for me.

Under normal circumstances it will probably take around 2.5 hours.

Once it got up to 180, I made sure it sat at 180 for thirty minutes (gives you a slightly thicker product).  I did this by turning off the crock pot, but leaving my towel on.

After the thirty minutes, I took my towel off and took my insert out of the canister.  I skim the "skin" off the top too.  This is some of the fat from the milk that solidifies.  I don't like the texture it creates, so I skim it off.

I let that sit and cool down to 115 degrees.  You want to shoot for 110-120 degree before you add your yogurt starter.  That is the optimal temperature for the cultures.

Once you get to that range, take 1/2 cup of yogurt starter (just regular plain yogurt with active live cultures- I like Stoneyfield) and mix with the warm milk.  Then add that slurry to the crock pot .

Once you mix it, recover and wrap again in your towel. Place in the oven with the light on, but don't turn the oven on. You just want to maintain the temperature for 4-8 hours.  That's so your cultures can do their stuff.

I do this at night, so the next morning I awoke to this:

Yum! (the yellow color is a little extreme on the iPhone, but that is some of the fat that separated)

After refrigeration for a couple of hours, it's ready! 

Stir it with preserves, syrup, applesauce, or granola.  Great for breakfast, cheaper (I get double the amount for the price of the expensive stuff and I use great milk!), and HEALTHY!!

One side note though, while thick, real yogurt doesn't look like most of the stuff you get from the grocery store.  To make that thicker, they add gelatin.  If you prefer this you can add gelatin.  I would recommend a natural gelatin from animal, rather than synthetic...a little more healthy.  

Also this yogurt can be used to make your own cream cheese!!  So even better.

Just don't forget to save some of you product to use as your next starter, so you don't have to buy more.

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