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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

They need YOU, not Moses

I read a profound blog post on(in)courage, on of my favorite blogs that I read daily, and I think it will forever change my life....
my outlook....
It was called "Why Weren't You Moses?". In a nutshell, the author, Angie Smith was reading a book about St. Francis of Assisi called Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim's Tale by Ian Morgan Cron. In this post, she eloquently related something simple, yet something so profound: God made us the way we are, to minister to those he has put around us JUST AS WE ARE --- WHO WE ARE RIGHT NOW.
He doesn't need us to change to do the job we are called to do right now. He needs us to depend on Him.

Which means: My church, my friends, my family ---- they need me.

NOT someone I hope to be someday.
Not someone I compare myself to.
Not just anybody.
Not anybody else. JUST ME.

HE put me THERE, in that position I feel so inadequate to fulfill. In fact, if he would have wanted someone else to live in my shoes, they would be.


This means I don't need to compare myself to someone else. Not my best friend, my pastor's wife, or even my husband. I don't need to worry about what I don't have, or feel I have been equipped for, or that someone else could do it better than I can.  It also means I don't have to have the most verses memorized, work in children's choir or sing on the worship team if he didn't call me to do it. I don't have to know all the journeys of Paul, or all the Beatitudes in order to serve where I am called. That stuff fills me with pride anyway, and he has to smack me down when that happens. (I don't really have to worry about my pride in the memorization arena. My mind seems to have found the delete button and has started eliminating important information on a regular basis. However, I can still remember all the lyrics to every song from the Mary Poppins movie, as well as a host of other 60's and 70's hits. I guess my brain thinks that is priority information. I don't agree. Remembering where I laid my keys down would be much higher on the totem pole in my estimation. But apparently even though it is my brain, I don't get to choose what it remembers at this stage in life. My theory is that the hard drive space is all filled up, so it has to dump stuff in order to remember new information. Unfortunately, I don't control what it remembers and what it forgets. Where was I anyway??)

I just have to do what he tells me to, and be the best ME I can be. 


Me. With all my quirky-ness.

Me. With all my insecurities. 

Me. Without fear or judgement of others.

Me. Warts and All.

ME. Just ME.

Using all I have been given, all I am right this blasted minute to bring all He is to MY little world, while bringing Him all the glory.


I hope this stays with me forever. If you want to read the whole post, please go to and read the post for August 30. She says it way better than I do. I know you'll be blessed. 


Monday, August 22, 2011

content with what I have

I have so much stuff. Coming home from a trip always brings that to the forefront. We have to unload into the house, and put everything away. Thats when I realize how much stuff we have. And I am not satisfied. I want the latest gadget, and everything I can afford to make my life easier. The trouble is, there is always something else I think I need. But I am realizing that nothing can give me the contentment that I have in Christ. And the more I have, the more I have to maintain.

We had a friend in Michigan who used to say: "the price of ownership is maintenance." And I am so bogged down right now with maintaining, that I never have time to do the 'fun stuff.' I don't want to make a mess doing something I like, because I will have to clean it up. And cleaning that up on top of all the other things I have to clean up and maintain adds more than I am willing to do. And I have so many things to choose from. Paper crafts, sewing, cooking, writing and other things, that my mind is too cluttered to think of what to do, much less make the mess it requires to do it.

And this is not even considering the time and energy it requires to maintain all this stuff. I don't want to have people over because I will have to shove all this excess somewhere, or actually find a spot for it and put it away. And I am so tired because I have to maintain so much that I cannot even imagine having new people in my house. And that is not right. We are created for relationships, and I feel I have a real gift for hospitality. But I can't use my gift when there is so much stuff that people can't get in the door.

So what can I do? Repent. Thats the only solution. What does it mean to repent? Literally it means to turn around. If you find yourself going in the wrong direction, just turn around, ask forgiveness, and begin going in the right direction.

I have been so convicted and convinced that this is right, that I think it is going to be easy.

First, I need to purge and donate.

God keeps providing me with places to donate that which I no longer wish to maintain. My clothes, shoes, purses and wearables are going to church. Things that I like the fabric but maybe not the style, if I can, I will repurpose, or recreate into something I like.

Pantry items that are shelf stable will also go to the food pantry at church. There are so many people who can't afford food right now, and I can afford extra. Why do I stockpile food when the Bible clearly states: "give us THIS DAY our daily bread?" A week's worth is what we need. We have 6 people living in our home, but enough food for an army. I need to share when I go to Costco and get 3-6-12 in a pack. I will never miss it, and those who need it will appreciate it.

Books are going to the hospital for their library. Homeschool stuff to the 'fire closet' for those who have had an emergency or cannot afford good books.

Kitchen and misc household items will probably go to Goodwill. Or wherever God leads. But I cannot continue like this. It is driving me crazy not to have room for things. Or time for reading, writing, or playing games with my kids without feeling like I am robbing from my 'free time' for myself.

Second, I need to discipline myself not to buy.

The key to this lies in being satisfied in Him. I have known for a long time that when I feel sad, I shop. I am like the girl in the movie "confessions of a shopaholic", except my need is not for designer stuff, its just for something pretty, something new to me, and something that fills the void. But it never works. It just creates something for me to have to clean around, clean up or put away. God has been so faithful in this. He has been clearly showing me what it is ok to buy, and what I need to leave behind in the store for someone else. Yes, I said leave behind for someone else. Thats what I am learning: if I buy it, the person who needs it cannot have it. Even if there are 19 of the items on the shelf. If it is not for me, I need to leave it there.

Also, What I have is enough. Too much, even. I cannot play with my kids, make cards for other people, and even enjoy life when it is this cluttered.

God is preparing me for something. I have no idea what it is, but maybe we will be able to travel spend more time on the road when we do not have all this junk in our lives. Maybe that's not it at all. Maybe it is just to have time to let myself have fun instead of feeling like I need to work all the time. I don't know. But I do know I am excited to do this.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Yummy Gluten-Free Oatmeal Choco-Chip Pancakes Again

Today is Fatterday. This is the one day of the week that Alicia, our oldest daughter, who on every other day carefully watches what she eats, eats whatever she likes. So Saturday, in our family has become Fatterday. Usually we go out to breakfast on Fatterday, but since Faith and I are now gluten-free, it limits our menu selection, and we cannot enjoy pancakes out anymore. So I found this recipe and tried it out on the 'fam' and everyone liked them as well as the whole wheat ones I used to make, so this has become our Fatterday staple. This is basically the same recipe as the other one, just used all oat flour and veggie oil instead. AND, there are pictures this time!! Here is the recipe again:

Oat Based Pancakes
1 ½ cups oat flour
2 eggs
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp baking pdr
¼ Cup oil
¼ tsp salt
2T sugar
1 ½ cups milk
½ tsp xanthan gum
¼ tsp vanilla
Mix the dry ingredients and then add the wet ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Batter will be a bit lumpy, and very thick. You can add a little milk if you want to have a bit thinner pancake. Drop onto a hot griddle and if you would like, you can sprinkle chocolate chips on the top before you flip them. They will not act like a regular pancake (bubbling around the edges) so you need to watch them. When they are golden brown on the bottom, flip them over, and press them down gently. You may have to flip them again to get them done in the center. This makes about 12- 4" pancakes. We don't even use syrup on them!

 We think they are just about perfect. Only bad thing is that I have to cook them instead of getting to go out to breakfast. But I think it is a fair trade. We have been to the Original Pancake House since they have gluten-free pancakes, but honestly, these are much better. And we don't have to spend the big bucks they charge for their food if I make them at home. If you have a vitamix, even better, since you can just use regular oatmeal and grind it into a fine flour yourself. YUM!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

O Canada Again

We are now in Ohio, but I thought I would share some of what we did while we were visiting our northern neighbors.

If you've never been north of the border, you should go. Canada is beautiful, although I must confess that it does look an awful lot like the northern part of our country. Of course, to judge all of the beautiful land that is Canada by the postage stamp sized portion that we saw would not be right. But we did enjoy our visit, and recon that if the rest of Canada is anything like the part that we saw, we could happily live there.

It is said that 90% of the population of Canada live within 100 miles of the border. I think that must be true, since the Niagara area employs many people due to the tourism of the area. It was a good thing many Canadians call that area home and work there, because there were plenty of tourists there to keep them busy. We really enjoyed meeting and interacting with so many kind, helpful people, and would like to say a huge "thank you" to everyone who helped make our time up north such fun.

We had 4 great days there, and here are some of the highlights.

Day 1 started out with a great bike ride from our campground, the beautiful Windmill Point, to the Peace Bridge. Windmill Point was not the closest campground to Niagara, but it was so beautiful, that we were very happy to be there. It was an easy 7 mile ride, and then we turned around and did the 7 miles back. Most of that is right up next to the Niagara River, and it is a gorgeous ride. No commercial buildings, just lovely private homes with a trail practically in their back yards. The trail was paved and mostly flat, going through several parks and a beach area as well as a cute neighborhood that was on road (no trail) but we didn't see any cars so I think it must be very lightly traveled. I didn't take any photos, and I am really sad about that, but I have my memories, and they are most important to me anyway, so there you go. Then we went to the lake at the campground and dinked around there for the rest of the day and enjoyed a campfire that evening. A perfect day.

Day 2 we went to Fort Erie.
 It was a short distance from the campground, and it was so cool. This location was a pivotal point in the War of 1812, and they have rebuilt the fort much as it would have been then. They had costumed guides as docents, and they told us the history and background of the importance of the Fort in Canadian as well as American history.

It was the perfect homeschool field trip: we all learned so much that it made us want to learn more, AND we had fun at the same time. Who could ask for anything more?

We ate dinner at a local diner, called "Greenacres". The food wasn't great, but it was an adventure, and it wasn't bad either. We found our way back to the campground and turned in early so we could rest up for the next day.

Tomorrow (or whenever I get around to it), I will tell you about the rest of our time in the great country to our north: the great country of C-eh?-N-eh?-D-eh? Did you get that? C-A-N-A-D-A!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

O Canada!!

We have been on the road in our motorhome, affectionately named T.J. now for 10 days.

We named it TJ because my nephew Brad, upon seeing it for the first time proclaimed that it was the Taj Mahal, and it was nicer than his house! It isn't the Taj Mahal, but it is nice. And it has air conditioning, and I am camping, but not sleeping on the ground. After all, I am a city girl with a country heart. I don't do sleeping on the ground and this is my idea of "roughing it". Navy Showers in T.J. or showers in a public restroom are about as close to a wilderness experience as I will ever come. Not to say that I don't enjoy the great outdoors. I love to bike, hike and enjoy nature. Just not from a tent. Or a pop-up camper. Been there, done that. And I did love it at the time. But at this stage in my life, this is the only way I want to go. Unless we are going to a lovely Bed and Breakfast. Without the kids. Then I will go by car and enjoy the ride since my hubby doesn't say anything unless spoken to, or he needs me to read him the directions. It's usually a nice ride with me chatting away and him occasionally nodding or commenting politely just so I know he is still listening.

But I digress. This post is supposed to be about our last 10 days. So here goes.

We left our steamy south Florida home on July 6, headed for Savannah, Ga. to tour SCAD with our oldest daughter, Alicia who is going to school there in the fall. It is a beautiful campus, and we are so excited for her to begin her new life there. However, we did not get to enjoy Savannah, because Little Faith had been eaten alive by mosquitoes at a July 4th fireworks party and ended up with an allergic reaction so bad she looked like she had chicken pox and hives all over her arms, and she couldn't be in the heat or it would break out worse and itch like crazy. And if you've ever been to Savannah in July, you know that there is one thing they have no absence of: Heat. So she and her brothers ended up staying in T.J. while Hubby and I toured SCAD with Alicia. I didn't worry, though 'cause the campground had wi-fi and they all have technology tools, so it was all good. Or so I thought. I texted my sons in the afternoon to find out how Faith was doing, only to get a message back saying she was fine, but the internet was down. All day. I smiled to myself, thinking that they needed to "unplug" anyway, and when we arrived back at the park, I spoke to the manager about the situation. Indeed, they had been having trouble with it, but didn't know the extent reached our area and she would call Comcast, but that they had been out fixing the transponder in the front area earlier that day, and gee, she wished she had known 'cause she would have had him check our area when he was here and it would be a week or so before they would be out again. So No Internet. I really didn't mind, but they did! I assured them that the next campground would have it. I mean, what are the chances? We left there on July 9 to our next destination.

In NC, a lovely campground for 1 night. No internet.

In southern PA, an interesting campground for 1 night, and "no honey, we don't have cable or internet here. They won't let us. Only for the long-termers". No internet.

So, we checked with Windmill Point Campground in Niagara, Canada, our next destination for 4 nights. Internet was important, because we would not have phone service internationally, so in case someone needed to reach us, email was a good option. And usually we use one of our cell phones as our rolling wi-fi hotspot. Not the fastest internet, but internet none the less but since we would have no cell service, that was not an option.  Yes, they assured me they have internet.

But I failed to ask the all important question: DOES IT WORK

When we arrived, we had trouble logging on. So I went to the office, asking if you need a password or something. I got an interesting story. Apparently they had a storm about a month ago in which their wireless antenna was struck by lightning. For some reason, that affected the wi-fi. No kidding. So now they have limited wi-fi at best, none at worst. Honestly, what are the chances?!? I told the kids that I think Somebody is trying to tell them something. It has become a huge joke. Now they are wondering if the internet is working at my sister's house in Ohio, which will be our home for the next few weeks. I told them that their Uncle Bill couldn't live without the internet. I hope I wasn't lying. It would be funny.....

Not really. I think they would string me up by my toes if that happened. Actually, if it did, Dad and Uncle Bill would fix it. Cause they are the ones that can't do without it for very long. 

So a funny thing happened on the way to Canada....we have decided that it must be us. We are just jinxing all the internets everywhere. So watch out when you read this. Yours might be next! I really don't believe in all that, just fun to say. 

I was going to write about Canada, and the beauty that is here, but I think I will save that for the next post. And I promise you no more internet glitches.....he he he he......

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Happy Birthday, Alicia!!

Most people know that I am the mother of 5 wonderful children. And that their ages range from 28 to 10. And that there are 3 girls and 2 boys, and the boys are in the middle, flanked by 2 older sisters and 1 younger, thank God. Cause if they were at the beginning, there would be no girls. And that the reason the girl at the end is a girl is because God loves me and knew that we needed more estrogen, not testosterone in this household. And that I don't think I could have lived through another boy. Especially since the pregnancy was a total shock. I tell everybody that 'she was the best surprise I ever got.' My 50th birthday party was a close 2nd, but that is another story. Today's post is about birthdays. And children. And the wonder of it all.

Alicia, my first born turned 28 today. She is a joy, and such a wonderful young woman, and is leaving me in September to pursue a degree in art at SCAD. I am both excited and depressed, so filled with mixed emotions for her. I don't know what I am going to do without her, yet I so can't wait to see her blossom. It has been a long road for her, but she is ready and I am so excited for her to shine and use the talents God has given her.

This is our 4th family birthday this year: Sarah is April, Josiah in May, Sam in June and now Alicia in July. My hubby is August, and then the summer of birthdays is over! Whew! Anyway, since Alicia is going to school at SCAD, she has been pining away for an iMac. So the boys and Faith and I went together and got her a gift card for the Apple store. She was so excited, and wanted to go right to the store and get it. I tried to talk her out of it, since we will be leaving for vacation soon, so she could wait till we get back, but she really wanted to go. So we all got in the car and went.

When we got to the store, the guy who sold me the gift card happened to be working, so he was helping us. My hubby asked me which one I had been looking at, and told the guy to get that one out too!!! I had been pining for the MacBook pro, but really didn't plan to buy it for several reasons.

1. because of the expense. I could get a PC for way less money, and it would do everything I need, and more.
2. because my hubby is a PC man. And I feel like I am abandoning him, since he and Faith are now the only one without Macs. And Faith wants one so bad she can hardly stand it.
3. I just hate to spend that much money on myself, on something I really don't need. Even though every time I turned my computer on, after 10 minutes it would just shut off. I mean, off. No warning, No beep, just off. In the middle of something. ARGGGG!

So I needed to do something, even though I wasn't sure what. So the kids were pulling for a Mac, trying to convince me that it was so much easier, and that I could do it, but I was scared. Could I learn to use something new? What would I do if I messed something up? So I was just going to wait and see what God brought. And look what happened.

 God showed up and honestly, I think I am going to do fine. I am on it now, and I do think I am going to fall in love with it. In fact, I think I already am.

As for Alicia, she was excited to get her new 21" iMac. But I think she was more excited for me than she was for herself!!

Thats just the kind of girl she is. I can't take any credit. Its just the way she is. And I am so thankful for her and who she is becoming. She is amazing. And I love her so much.

Thank you, Alicia for the incredible woman you have become. I am so proud of you. And thank you God, for all you have done and are doing in her. You are showing me so much of who you are as I learn to love and care for your blessings I call my children. I am so blessed. Today was an amazing reminder of that. And I am so thankful.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

We Made It!!

I had no doubts, but we made it! And no one fainted from a lack of food at lunch! I really don't think anyone really missed it either. Except perhaps, Faith, who watched the clock all afternoon, reminding me how many hours until dinner :) Our One meal for One Child was a piece of cake. Not cake, since we were not eating. Perhaps that was not the best metaphor. Anyway, it was easy.

I promised the kids a big breakfast, and an early delicious dinner. And I don't think they were disappointed. For breakfast we had scrambled eggs with green onions, shallots, and cheese with gluten-free chocolate chip pancakes. I was a bit worried about the pancakes, wondering if everyone would like them, since they were gluten-free, but they were amazing, and the kids didn't even use syrup. They were that good. I wish I had taken photos, but you will just have to take my word for it. They were amazing. I adapted a recipe that I found in a great cookbook, so the recipe that follows at the end of this post is an original!
For dinner, with the help of my great kids, we made Arroz Con Pollo (chicken with yellow rice). It was absolutely amazing. I think it was the best I ever had. I know it was the best I ever made. I used brown rice, so it was healthier that using white rice. I also used carrots, so it had hopefully had a little more vitamins, too. Here's how we did it:

We used a whole organic chicken, 2 Tbsp olive oil,  1 1/2 cups brown rice, a can of organic diced tomatoes, 2 carrots, one onion, 6 cloves of garlic, 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, 3-4 saffron threads, 3 Cups hot water and 1 Tbsp  organic chicken flavor Better than Boullion and some chopped cilantro.

First, I cut up the chicken. I my oldest son was grossed out when I was cutting it up, and so I didn't figure you all would want to see that! Then I browned the outside of the chicken it the olive oil in my wonderful
All-Clad high sided saute pan I got at HomeGoods for way cheap. Then I removed the chicken from the pan, and added the onion, rough chopped garlic, and rice. We sauteed them for a few minutes, then added the tomatoes, after draining off a little of the juice.

Next we added the water, saffron, cumin, paprika and Broth.

Now the carrots and cilantro.

Then we added the chicken back to the pan, covered, and turned the heat down to simmer and waited while the house smelled so delicious for 40 minutes. 
At the end of the time, I took off the lid and turned up the heat a little so the last of the juiciness could evaporate and the rice could fluff up. That took about 5 to 10 minutes.

It was the best meal we've had in a long time.

I served it with black beans, homemade salsa, and a salad. It was worth skipping a meal for!
Here's the recipe:

Arroz Con Pollo

1 Chicken, cut up
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, cut into chunks
6 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
2 carrots, sliced
1 can chopped tomatoes, slightly drained
1 1/2 cup brown rice
1 Tbsp chicken flavor Better than Boullion
3 Cups hot water

Brown the chicken in the olive oil over medium heat in a high side saute pan, about 10 minutes. Remove chicken, lower heat and add onions and garlic. Saute for a few minutes, then add rice. Saute for a few minutes more, then add the rest of the ingredients except chicken and bring to a boil. Lower heat and put the chicken back on the top. Nestle it snuggly in the pan, and put the lid on. Simmer for 40 minutes, checking periodically so it does not burn on the bottom. After 40 minutes, check rice and liquid level. If it seems too juicy, leave the lid off and simmer for a few more minutes until liquid is absorbed. Serve immediately, and ENJOY!!
And here is the pancake recipe:
Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Pancakes

2 eggs
3/4 cups oat flour (rolled oats that I ground up in the Vitamix)
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup olive oil (I think you could butter or a different oil if you would like)
1 Tbsp PLUS 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp honey
1 1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 cup vanilla
1 cup mini chocolate chips (you could use regular choc. chips, or chop them up a bit)

Mix the dry ingredients except the choc. chips, and then add all the wet ingredients and mix well. Add chocolate chips. Heat a buttered or oiled griddle or, in my case, cast iron skillet, until a drop of water 'dances' on the surface. Drop by big spoonfuls or ice creme scooper onto hot griddle. Cook over medium heat until browned on one side, then flip and cook on that side until done. Makes about 10 delicious 4" pancakes.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

One Meal for One Child

This past Sunday, our Pastor challenged us with a sermon based on Luke 12:32-34, calling it simply, "I'm Rich!" It was a message that was nothing new, but somehow, God used very familiar scripture to illuminate my sin once again. We live in the richest nation the world has ever known. Yet we hoard our resources like no one else. Why? For me, it is because I am selfish and in love with stuff...this world stuff. I use stuff to placate my loneliness, pain and feeling sorry for myself. So I buy myself something and justify that I 'need' it for something, or that since it is on sale, or inexpensive that it is somehow ok for me to have it. Or that I am going to use it for someone else. But God has been teaching me that it is not ok, and that I do not need more stuff. In fact, if I buy something I don't need, someone else who does need it may not be able to get one. And that when I do need something, he will provide it. I do understand that our Father gives good gifts to his children, but I am learning that good gifts are not what I suppose they are. Good gifts are sometimes physical gifts, but the ones I really want are the ones like he really wants to give: Spiritual gifts that I cannot be ready to recieve until I am empty of my self and my desires for anything other than Him.

All that to say, that our Pastor without knowing it, spoke straight from the Heart of God to my heart Sunday. Basically, he said, in a nutshell to offer all you are and all you have, giving as you have been blessed. I loved the way he explained the verse that says, "where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." He said that  your heart will follow your treasure, not the other way around. So we need to store up our treasures in heaven because that is where our heart is.

At the end of the message, he quoted something from "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan. It was something that had hit me square in the heart when I read Crazy Love last month. He said that people are always saying that if God is such a loving God, why doesn't he do something about the hunger in the world? Then he said that God is probably weeping and looking down saying, "yeah! why don't you do something? You have the world's riches at your disposal. Why don't you do something?"

As we were driving home, I asked the Fam: "what are some practical things we can do to 'do something?'" What can our little family (which isn't so little) do when there are so many needs? Then God struck us with an idea: One meal for One child. We could sacrifice one meal a week to support a hungry child through the One Child program at our church. (want to know about One Child? click Here.)  So we are going to skip lunch on Wednesday and give that money to feed and clothe 'one of the least of these'. I got to thinking about this and realized that we eat about 90 meals a month. Most of the world eats less than 30. And our meals are not cheap. We eat good, healthy, mostly organic food. I figure we spend on average, for the 6 of us who all eat like adults, (not including breakfast, which is a cheap meal at about $10.00 unless we eat out, then all bets are off) about $30.00 a meal, especially when we eat out. And we eat out alot. Now for most people, that is a huge amount of money, I know. But that is not the point. The point is what we can do. We decided that our Wednesday lunch could support One Child at $30.00. Thats 4 children that we can support per month! or we could sponsor a national pastor for $100 and still have enough by adding only $10 to support one child.
Then I was thinking: What if everyone embraces this concept? What if every Christ follower in every church would give up one meal a week to support hungry people around the world? We could really do something about hunger. I know some people have medical issues, and other reasons they cannot go without a meal. Some people don't have enough themselves. I am not talking about them. I am talking about people like me, who have more than enough being willing to sacrifice one meal for the One who sacrificed it all for us? Because like he said, "if you do it unto the least of these, you do it unto Me."

The kids were worried about being hungry, but I assured you that we will eat a late breakfast, then have an early dinner, and no snacks in between. I let them know that a little hunger wouldn't kill them and that it was good to know what other children must feel all the time. And that the little hunger pains would be nothing compared to what Jesus suffered for us.

Tomorrow will be our first Family Fast.  One meal for One Child. Could you do the same? Or maybe One Fivebucks for One Child. Or maybe you, like me might not need that new gizmo or book or whatever. Will you join us? What will you sacrifice? How will you make a difference? There are lots of great organizations that would be worthy of your contributions. and World Vision are two of my favorites. Whatever God leads you to do, do it with joy, as unto Him!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Back to Daily Life

Well, today is Monday and that means Laundry Day. I always do my laundry on Monday, and my goal is to get the entire lot of it done and put away. HA! That never happens. Usually it is Tuesday or Wednesday before it makes it to the closets and drawers, if it makes it at all. I always have high hopes of getting some craft time, but unfortunately it never seems to happen the way I'd hoped. Tonight was no exception, but since I haven't posted some of the fun things Faith and I have done recently, I thought I would share some goodies we loved doing.

So today, I am sharing our first attempt at Gluten Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.
We have recently discovered that Faith and I are both gluten intolerant. So that has sent me on a search for delicious gluten free recipes. This one for Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies was a home run with everyone, including my non-gluten free family. That says alot!

For our ingredients, we used old fashioned rolled oats. We ran some in the Vitamix, and ground it into flour using the Dry container. I love my viatmix!!
(Don't have one? check out for my friend Lea Ann's website to get yours!!)
We also used Xanthan Gum, which gives the dough stickyness, like gluten would. Then Yoghurt, butter, baking soda, vanilla, sucanat(which is dehydrated sugar cane), baking powder, salt, grain sweetened mini chocolate chips, and raisins, since we like them in our oatmeal cookies. You could add nuts, but we didn't this time. I think I will try it next time, though.
First, you creme the butter and sugar, then add the other ingredients. Lastly, stir in the chocolate chips and raisins.

Then, drop them in blobs (technical term here) on your silpat or parchment paper.

I used a medium sized cookie scoop to make uniform cookies. I have to make uniform sized cookies, or else somebody gets upset 'cause they got the little one, and somebody else got a bigger one.

So here are the uniform cookies. The dough was delicious. Would have liked to put some in a little ice creme. But then I decided it would be better to bake them and put ice creme in between and make a sandwich.

Heres the happy first plate. Yummy!

They disappeared way too fast. Next time I will make a double batch! And next time will be really soon!

Notice the Peets Coffee mug? Got that on the last California trip. So sad that all we have her is Fivebucks.

Those beautiful little fingers are dipping in a mug of milk, not coffee. Yes, you can use a Peets mug for milk. Especially when Peets coffee is not available.

Yum Yum. The beautiful face that goes with the fingers.
The cookies disappeared way faster than the time it took to make them!

Heres the actual recipe:
1/4 lb. (1/2 cup or 1 stick) butter
1/2 cup sucanat or firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbsp. plain yoghurt
1 cup oat flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 cup+ :) chocolate chips (more, more, more!)
1/2 cup raisins (if desired)

Preheat oven to 350 degreees.
Creme butter and sugar together, then add eggs and mix until lighter and thicker. Add all other ingredients except the chips and raisins. Beat until thick and creamy. Stir in chips and raisins, and drop onto the cookie sheet. Baie for 8 to 9 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on the cookie sheet for a minute or two, then remove to a rack and let cool completely. Makes about 30 yummy cookies.

The Girl Creative

Keeping It Simple

Friday, June 24, 2011


Well, my honey and I just returned from a 3 night getaway celebrating our 29th anniversary. It was so much fun, and so relaxing to just do nothing for a few days.
  We escaped to Miami, actually to the Mayfair Hotel in Coconut Grove. Most of our time was spent wandering around the streets of the Grove, shopping in the quirky little shops and eating. I think we went from one meal to thinking about the next. There are so many great restaurants in Miami that we did not even scratch the surface (or the flat-top). But undaunted by that fact, we gave it a valliant effort. We checked out Urban Spoon's recomendations, and off we went. I won't bore you with all the delicious tidbits, but here are the best meals we had:
For Breakfast: The Grove Spot
We both chose the Kiwi Sampler. It came with 1 Egg, (we chose to have it poached light), homefries, which were flecked with BOTH bacon AND prociutto, as well as sauteed onion and tomato, toast, and an authentic English banger (sausage). All for only $7. I also had the yoghurt and fresh fruit which was a massive bowl that I think I could have gone for a swim in. The yoghurt was a little thin, but tasty just the same. And, how sad for us that, according to the waiter the chef felt like giving us 2 poached eggs instead of one! Lucky us! (I can imagine why two eggs, since you are going to the trouble to boil the water, add the vinegar and mess with poaching, might as well do 4 instead of just 2. Why bother with all that fuss for just two eggs?)

For Lunch: Gardeners Market
What a great little market! Fresh bread, cheese, wine, deli, and a huge salad bar. 4 different kinds of soup. (The carrot bisque was divine!) I had a hard time choosing, but my hubby knew exactly what to order. I eventually decided on the salad bar, fruit and the soup. Don got the Capri sub, on a whole wheat baguette. It had pesto, prociutto, buffalo mozzarella, and thick heirloom tomatoes. Delicious!

For Dinner: It was a toss up between Two Chefs and Georges in the Grove
The reason it was a toss up was because Georges had better appetizers and their dessert was just as good as Two Chefs, but the Meatloaf at Two Chefs won over the lamb shank at Georges. We had Roasted beet with goat cheese at both places, and Georges was better. More beets, better roasting, and better dressing, which gave the whole dish another layer of flavor of buttery deliciousness.  Two Chefs crusted and deep-fried the goat cheese, which was totally unnecessary, and a bit disgusting. Made it taste greasy and flat.
We also had the Buffalo Caprese salad at Georges, and other than a couple of the tomato wedges being a little mealy, it was fantastic.
For our entree at Georges, we chose the 3 hour braised lamb shank with white beans. It was seasoned with Garam Masala, which gave it a gingery clove flavor. A little sweetness, but good. It was served with white beans, which for me did nothing to add to or take away from the shank. They were just there. I think a risotto might have been nice instead, but what flavor? Maybe thats why they chose the beans. At Two Chefs I had the Coc au Vin, which was good, but not great. It was served with Potato Croquettes, and they were yummy, but I could only eat one, since they were deep fried and I was saving my fat quota for the dessert.
Don had the Meatloaf served with Horseradish mashed potatoes and prociutto wrapped roasted asparagus. And I thought I should save my fat quota! His was the winning meal of all, because the meatloaf and potatoes were the most delicious things we ate the whole week. Besides dessert, of course. The meatloaf was extrordinary, and I am going to crave that for the rest of my life. I hope they serve that in heaven. And I hope I have 2 tummys. It was that good.
Dessert was equally as good at both restaurants. Two chefs: chocolate souffle, with creme anglais AND chocolate ganache. Don told me that he didn't think you were supposed to eat the creme and the chocolate ganache with a spoon. How else were you supposed to eat it? Perhaps you were suppose to turn it up and drink it? I could have, you know. But I settled for the spoon. I tried to spoon it over my souffle, but the spoon had a mind of its own and kept diverting itself directly into my mouth. Eventually I had to put the spoon down....I had reached my fat quota for the decade. I did decide right then and there that I was going to have to teach Faith how to make the perfect souffle. After I learn how to make them. I cant wait to get started. My fat quota will be getting a workout. So will my muscles, since I dont want to wear the quota around my waist!
Georges had a great Creme Brulee. Little tiny portion, too....NOT! It was served in one of those side dish containers that was twice, maybe three times the size of a ramekin that it is usually served in.That lent itself to hold Lots of nicely browned sugar on top. It was enough for 4 people. Which was nice, since we ate with Dons brother and his wife who live down south. Which made the meal even more delightful.

But now we are back to reality, and I have lots of posts of projects to put up in the next few days. Hopefully I will get to it soon. In the mean time, stop drooling and go visit one of these fine places. Or find your own and let me know about it! Enable my food addiction!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Yummy Meatballs!

I am always amazed how fast the day goes by. Where does the time go?? I have such grand ideas every day, and every day I run out of time before run out of "to do's". Today, I had grand ideas of crafting, sewing and cooking a wonderful meal. But, as usual, life got in the way. The meal I planned was a slow cooked meal, and as the afternoon dwindled away, I knew that was not going to happ

en. So, plan B was what worked, and it was delicious, I must say. Faith was my lovely assistant, and if you do not have one of those, (a lovely assistant) you really should get yourself one. They are wonderful to have, and I think everyone should have at least two. I myself have 5. That way, if one is busy, there is always someone to help me out.
But I digress. I want to share our Lebanese Meatballs. I got the recipe from the Whole Paycheck's (otherwise known as Whole Foods). I love that store! But I usally spend way more there than anywhere else. But I do use their coupons, so I save money, too. Last time I shopped there, to buy the meat for this meal, I saved $37 by printing coupons off their website. I felt like one of those 'extreme couponers'! I won't mention that I spent $400.00! But I digress again.
Back to the Meatballs. They were supposed to be Kababs, but I could only find one of our skewers, and it was starting to rain, so the grill was out of the question, so I pan fried them in my wonderful cast iron skillets. Which is something else everyone should have. I don't know what I did before I got them last summer from my sister. But I digress yet again. I do that alot.
Anyhoo, here's what we did:
Lebanese Meatballs
(I did not think they were very lebanese tasting, but they were good!)
You will need: Ground Beef (I used grass fed, but any kind will do), an onion, parsley, allspice, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper and olive oil.

First, we grated the onion into the ground beef. I used 2 lbs of meat and 1 med. onion.

Then, we added 4 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley,  1 tsp. allspice and cinnamon, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, 3/4 tsp. salt, and about 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper.

The you do the fun part: mixing it all together. We started with the spatula on the left, but quickly realized that the hands would be far more fun. And we had to make meatballs by hand anyway, so we dove in. As we were mushing it all together, Faith said, "we should put some cheese in the middle". I had some feta, so I cut it into cubes and wrapped the meat around it. They were especially delicious! Great idea!

Then I sauteed them in olive oil. I know, you are not supposed to overheat olive oil, but I just can't help myself. I love the flavor, and really can't substitute anything for that wonderful flavor.  (note the beautiful 6 burner gas stove. I got it when we remodeled the kitchen last year. The top is gas, the oven is electric. I love it!)
Here's the final product. The ones on the left are the ones with the feta. The others are plain. Everyone agreed the feta ones were the best. Next time I will make them all with the cheese. We served them with a salad and sugar snap peas.  Delicious!! 
Even though my craft and sewing projects still sit undone, I got to spend some fun time in the kitchen with my little Faith, and make a delicious meal for my family. And I feel blessed!
 To get the full recipe, here's the link:
Happy Wednesday everyone!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New Beginnings

Today is the beginning of a new Era. I am changing this blog for the better, to include the antics and capers of homeschooling with my darling 10 year old daughter, Faith. I decided to do this for several reasons: My boys have started CollegePlus, a study-at-home-for-the-CLEP-test-and-earn-college-credit program so they don't need as much attention from me. Also, Faith is so into the same messes that I am into, that I thought it would be amazing to teach her writing and journaling through this. Additionally, I am at the age that I forget the little joys, so I wanted to chronicle and share them. This is going to be an educational experience for me as well, since my computer knowledge consists of turning it on and asking my kids how to do something. However I am determined to learn how to attach pictures and do links, and really make this something to smile about. According to the study skills course that my boys are taking for the CollegePlus, I need to learn some new skills and challenge my 50 year old brain so it will make new nuro-connectors and help my memory. Yeah, right. I'm afraid I will just end up frustrated, but since I have someone counting on me, and my hope is not in my ability but in His, I persevere!
It is a great creative outlet, and I am sure that the joy of sharing the gifts God has given will be worth it. Hope you like it!