Tuesday, July 31, 2012

a weekend in pictures

Here are pictures of our fun as promised!  Enjoy...

reading with grandma before bed - the last night with a pacifier

her new highly desired watch!

patting a HUGE horse - the man was 6' 4" if that helps!

waiting for her turn to ride the pony

so much fun riding on her first pony ride

entertaining two uncles with some head stands

making pizza with a birthday gift

a reading blanket at her birthday - complete with puppy dogs and puppy stories

the food table!

more food!

patting Ruby the real dog who joined our party

Moriah's pink strawberry birthday cake

trying to get 3 little ones looking in the same direction is a difficult task

a close up of the table with birthday flowers and puppies

more food, flowers, and puppies

drinks and balls with bubbles in the background for playing at the park

Monday, July 30, 2012

thanks changes my perspective

I really agree that giving thanks and seeing the Lord's work in so many little ways can work to change my perspective.  I tend to be an all or nothing sort, so when something is going on that's all I'm often thinking about as I prepare, and then when it's over I tend to be sad that it passed so quickly.  Reflecting on those sweet times with a thankful heart helps me to cherish God's good gifts, and give Him glory.  We're coming off of a weekend with family as we celebrated my little girl's birthday a few days early... you'll probably notice lots of remembrances listed below :)

791. hospitality in sharing our home
792. cleaning to welcome
793. space for guests, even when it's not much space I'm so thankful they'll come
794. my mom who thinks of details, like cereal for my husband (this may have made the list before!)
795. my brother who made the trip
796. computer help
797. a day trip to the Kentucky Horse Park
798. the wonderful span of God's creation
799. horses that are strong and graceful
800. a pony that gave rides
801. my brave little girl who was happy to ride
802. a generous brother who shared his recent door prize from work and bought our tickets
803. ice cream from Graeter's, even more special when shared with our company from out of town
804. swimming with happy little girls
805. Moriah floating with a lifejacket on inside a baby float - so silly!
806. my flexible schedule
807. more family making the trip, to celebrate Moriah's birthday with us
808. two uncles helping with a head stand, so happy to play
809. gifts shared so generously
810. organization
811. cooking for family
812. having some out to eat time
813. really good hamburgers
814. a birthday party!
815. pink strawberry cake, just as Moriah requested
816. special friends coming to celebrate
817. a dog as the guest of honor for a puppy birthday party
818. time to play as a family, Scattegories was the game of choice
819. laughing together
820. story telling
821. worshipping together
822. visiting one who longed for the Lord's presence even after his 95th birthday
823. finding out that only a couple of days later our church member is now with God who comforts
824. grandmotherly helping hands
825. a sweet weekend that leaves me a bit teary
826. dishes washed and dried before I even knew I hadn't gotten to them yet
827. fresh flowers that bring so much cheer - yellow sunflowers, orange Gerber daisies, and pink zinnias to be precise
828. moments to sing over my big girl as she calms to sleep
829. a pacifier traded for a pillow
830. praying with faith in the Lord who hears

*tomorrow I'll plan on a picture update to go with many of these, tonight I'm off to bed!

Monday, July 23, 2012

why give thanks?

After reading this today in
Ann Voskamp's post on A Holy Experience blog, I really wanted to share it... Her words clearly and concisely explain the reason I give thanks as a Christian.  I hope they direct your mind to the Lord to whom all thanks are given as I share so many of His graces to me.  
"There is no real thankfulness unless it is to Someone and thankfulness only helps your life because who you are thanking is the One who is all your Help."

766. energy and health to care for my home
767. cleaning that makes our world feel a bit fresher
768. a little helper who gladly joins me
769. more produce, in SUCH abundance
770. a freezer full of food to save for winter
771. trying new recipes
772. summer salads, crisp and refreshing
773. vacation days
774. an extended visit with family
775. the excited anticipation Moriah has leading up to her 2nd birthday
776. a pillow traded for pacifiers, we hope the plan works!
777. friends to share with
778. rejoicing with others
779. an ice cream "pot luck"
780. baking and cooking on a Sunday afternoon
781. magic erasers that renew my walls
782. learning as I listen to those who've walked this way before me, moms and wives 
783. a produce auction
784. the Amish horse and buggy which delighted Moriah and I both
785. an ever helpful mother (my mom, I mean)
786. summer coursework completed for Matt, more family time for us
787. forgiveness shared
788. a meeting without conflict when it seemed to be brewing (I'm reminded not to "borrow trouble")
789. the Lord showing me my sin while showing me His work in Christ, bringing much grace to turn from my sin and cling to Him, far more exceeding joy
790. two excited uncles

Saturday, July 21, 2012

what we're eating!

I totally forgot my meal plan post last week, so I'll let this be a catch-up with last week's and this week's plan...

last week first:
Saturday -
leftover taco filling from the Pinterest inspired taco casserole
(we had plenty of the bean/beef mixture left so I froze it to use for a second meal)

Sunday -
Pinterest inspired chicken breasts, zucchini, corn on the cob
(I baked the corn, husks and all for 30 min at about 350 degrees, it was SO easy and the corn was delicious - I'll prepare it this way again for sure!)

Monday -
leftover red beans and rice with edamame
(also from the freezer's leftovers of last week's creation while Matt was at a church meeting, so it worked out well, Moriah and I love the "crispy edamame" recipe though I realized we were eating lots from the bean "family" - oh well!)

Tuesday -
breakfast for dinner: Pampered Chef ham and vegetable egg strata, fruit and yogurt parfaits
(a friend shared the strata recipe with us after a small group pot-luck contribution she brought - it's yummy including asparagus and English muffins and is topped with hollandaise sauce, I left out the ham)

Wednesday -

Thursday -
I was having a hurried night and knew my original plans wouldn't work, so I picked up a deli chicken salad crossiant sandwich for us to split with a summer veggie salad - thankful Matt's up for quick things like this!

Friday -
shrimp and grits, cornbread muffins
(this was an ambitious recipe for me, though I needed something to use the rest of the andouille sausage I bought for red beans and rice, when I searched allrecipes.com I thought I'd give it a try and prepared it during naptime so I could have plenty of time for chopping, and washing a few dishes!)

next week:

Saturday -
Dutch baby breakfast for dinner, eggs, bacon

Sunday -
frozen pizza

Monday -
middle eastern vegetable salad from The Barefoot Contessa

(we're going to our small group pot-luck tonight, so this will be our contribution)

I enjoyed this as leftovers while I worked, and got the recipe!
Tuesday -
BLT sandwiches, corn couscous from Martha Stewart

this was also a former lunch at work!
I'm thankful for good leftovers to sample
Wednesday -
veggie sandwiches, leftover corn couscous
(my mom and brother will arrive tonight staying through the weekend, he's headed toward a vegan lifestyle so I try to be as thoughtful of that as I can be though he still eats eggs and doesn't get really upset about small concessions!)

Thursday -
nacho bar with black beans, avocado, cheese, Rotel tomatoes, olives

Friday -
lemon chicken bake, with roasted potatoes and green beans, frozen rolls, country blueberry dessert
(Matt's mom and brother will also arrive, so I needed something that would feed a big crowd, I plan to double the lemon chicken bake!)

after discovering this on Pinterest, I've made it a handful of times while entertaining
we LOVE it as have our friends!
I can't remember if my in-laws enjoy blueberries as much as my mom and brother do, hopefully so!
Saturday -
eat out/carry out after Moriah's birthday party
(we're having a late afternoon/evening party with some finger foods - pinwheels, cheese and crackers, fruit kabobs, and strawberry birthday cake - but no dinner, and I know we won't be up for cooking afterwards so we'll pick something up)

Sunday -
breakfast burritos with yogurt parfaits

*I also made these other things, or have the ingredients on hand for lunches or supplementary side dishes as needed with company...
- Gretchen's muffins
- homemade yogurt
- homemade granola* recipe to come soon!
- broccoli slaw salad* recipe to come soon!
- sweet potato fries
- Northern bean and rice salad
- macaroni and cheese - from a box :)

Friday, July 20, 2012

nanny notes mid-July

This was a short week for me at work, as my little friends were off for vacation mid-week.  While they were here early in the week, we had plenty of fun like this:

Monday -
Mr. S. attended his last day of "summer camp" while the girls and I enjoyed a morning of Baby/Toddler story time at the public library nearest our home.  I've found that each library and librarian has a different version of story time which keeps things interesting.  On Monday, the librarian read one board book to the little ones then took song requests and shared a few finger plays during our 30 minutes together.  Moriah and Miss M.K. both like the lap song "A Bouncy Mouse" and "The Grand Old Duke of York" (which is new to me, in the last few months!).  Here are the fun words to "A Bouncy Mouse" in case you'd like to sing and bounce with your little one, they'll love it :)

Holding your little one on your lap bounce throughout the rhyme, with an extra big bounce at each asterisk... have fun!

"Boing, boing, squeak*!
Boing, boing, squeak*!
A bouncy mouse
Is in the house
He's been there for a week,
He bounces in the kitchen (lean left),
He bounces in the den (lean right),
He bounces in the living room,
Oh there he goes again*!"

playing in the water is bliss for my sweet girl!

Tuesday -
On Tuesday morning we tried a new-to-us sprayground at the Creekside Park within the new Parklands being developed.  It's in a very nice, new area of town that I'd never seen in Louisville!  I've discovered Louisville has all sorts of newer suburbs popping up, that we don't even realize.  This sprayground offered all sorts of fun for the little ones.  Since it's still very much under construction we really enjoyed watching the tractors, dump trucks, and excavators at work!  The sprayground was busy, but Mr. S. and Moriah had their fair share of fun running in and out of the water, though Miss. M.K. at just over 1 year doesn't seem too fond of the spraygrounds yet.  As a new park, there was also a very modern looking playground with new and different equipment than we've played on before which offered added entertainment.  On our way back from the hot morning of fun we picked up a free Wendy's frosty (with a coupon from Moriah's completed summer reading program at the library) to share.  Frosty's are HUGE now, and Mr. S. and Moriah both really enjoyed the small bowls of such a "special treat" after their rest time!

usually just a gentle helping hand :)
Wednesday -
Mr. S. left town early in the morning for a flight with his dad, so the girls and I were alone again for a quieter day.  I took them both with me to a rural produce auction where we met a couple from our church who were happy to show us around and help me bid!  We left after about an hour, due to the mid-day heat as the auction was outside, the girls were hot and restless in the stroller (and in our arms), and we all needed lunch.  I'm excited to see if they found any good produce for us on Sunday at church and really enjoyed the fun of an unconventional outing.  Moriah was thrilled to see an Amish horse up close as we left and walked to area where they rest while the Amish men sell and bid on their produce.

This was the week at work.  Moriah and I enjoyed another sprayground and park with friends yesterday, and spent today grocery shopping and birthday party shopping as well.  I'm not sure what fun the weekend holds, though I know we're headed to the DMV to renew our driver's licenses, hoping that they'll be quick with a toddler in tow :)  Enjoy the weekend with your little ones!

If you'd like any fun ideas for indoor fun on a hot day, check out my guest blog here for a friend with a few of our favorite creative play ideas for little ones...
Ordinary Parent

Monday, July 16, 2012

one thousand gifts continued

732. a bit of quiet in the middle of a day with little ones
733. library story times
734. dressing like cows for free supper
735. an abundant harvest shared... this week our church members generously gave us 12 ears of corn, quite a few zucchini, summer squash, 2 onions, 4 cucumbers, and 3 green peppers
736. time for cooking and preserving the abudance

the zucchini bread was unbaked, a zucchini casserole, zucchini tots,
vegetables to be frozen for sandwiches, and corn on the cob
737. sharing with others
738. babysitting swaps with a dear friend, and a date night for us
739. encouragement in the Lord in all seasons, He is near
740. reading something a bit different and learning from it
741. rocking with my big girl who just wasn't feeling so well
742. rain
743. summer flowers still blooming in our pots
744. a little time off coming soon
745. free laundry while I work
746. time alone to plan and prepare, my husband blesses me with his care
747. finding really helpful bargains on lovely, modest, simple clothes - I could build my wardrobe from Land's End (especially now that I discovered the Sear's Outlet store in town!)
748. Matt's bike repaired, a hobby continued for him
749. another tea party here with Moriah's friends

this was a tea with plenty of sweet treats!
750. encouragement from our congregation as Matt leads others to remain faithful to all of Scripture, in our local church association
751. sharing ideas with others
752. early bedtimes to ward off allergies coming with weather changes
753. helping Matt in preaching preparations with a bit of organization
754. Matt's God centered vision for our life ten years from now, articulated in a recent paper for class
755. fresh summer foods
756. Moriah's growing vocabulary, this weekend Daddy taught her about "surgery" as she plays doctor with a toy knife from her kitchen... oh my!
757. neighborliness, sharing nutmeg for zucchini bread
758. library books
759. a good dentist visit with an onlooking little girl who was mesmerized
760. sticker rewards as a potty training boost, all the motivation she needed!
761. a little girl who LOVES pink toes

she also likes to notice the toes of strangers in public restrooms :)
762. a huge hug from my sweet helper while I was scrubbing the tub, her affection made the job much more pleasant
763. Believers who read their Bibles and believe the Word to be true and "plain"
764. Matt's example to me of growing faith as he seeks the Lord and is taught by Him
765. sandbox play time

Friday, July 13, 2012

Nanny Life - July week 2

This week we've had lots of fun, I've worked Tuesday through Friday... here are the highlights:

Tuesday -
While Miss MK enjoyed her morning nap Mr. S. and Moriah made slime with me!  They played with it  on trays at the kitchen table for about an hour - seriously amazing response :)
We also took a mid-day trip to the nearby park.  Mr. S. and Moriah set up a "store" under the play equipment and took turns selling mulch to one another.  Miss MK and Moriah also both enjoyed the swings today.

slime looks runny here, but it really firmed up as they played

Wednesday -
Mr. S. was off to a summer day camp today so the girls and I played at our apartment in the morning.
Next we were off to try a free Gymboree Play and Learn class.  While Moriah gets a "deer in the headlights" look in the midst of such a sensory overload she had fun playing after awhile.  I felt like the class was very age appropriate and well taught while staying totally fun for kids who didn't even realize all they were being exposed to.  I wish the Open Gym times were a bit less expensive ($10 per child, per session is a lot), but we may try to enroll in a class during a snowy winter month while Mr. S. is in school.  The girls would love it I'm sure.  (Gymboree Play and Learn centers offer one free class to everyone, just go online to find a location near you and sign up for the most age appropriate class)
We picked Mr. S. up from school during our normal afternoon nap time and made the commute out to their house.  The girls had later than normal naps which made the afternoon fly by!

Thursday -
The morning started with John Deere toy Gator rides for Mr. S. and Moriah... she couldn't have been more excited!  We also played outside during Miss MK's morning nap.

she LOVES rides from him on the Gator and you'd think he was a teenage boy picking up his girlfriend in a Corvette :)

Then we were all off to the library, what I thought was a bird show (I'd discussed hawks, owls, etc.) was not at all (I still don't know what I read that had me so confused).  Instead, we enjoyed seeing all sorts of exotic and nocturnal animals.  It wasn't exactly aimed at such little ones, but they watched 30 minutes of the show before we snuck out.  I'd prefer to leave early than mid-melt down with three little ones, hopefully the librarians understood!  We also hit the jack pot with all sorts of books that we haven't borrowed before and some old favorites too.

Friday -
We took a trip just down the street to the local fire station and had a fun morning visit with a fireman who showed us around.  Mr. S. LOVED it and enjoyed learning about and seeing the tools firemen use, including their thermal imaging camera, ax, flashlights, and huge hose.  We were able to see their "cubbies" with boots, uniforms, and helmets ready to go.  Mr. S. also climbed into the fire trucks for a closer look though Moriah was too uncertain to be that brave today!  Their home is in a growing suburb that's still pretty "country" so the fire station doesn't really ever seem too busy and I think the firemen were glad to have visitors to entertain.  They sent us home with fire safety booklets, crayons, tatoos, frisbees, pencil pouches, and best of all water bottles :)  It was a great and easy outing!

notice Moriah's holding his hand with a bit of uncertainty about it all!

As a little follow up to our visit we made this Five Little Firemen craft with their handprints when we went back to the house.  It's a cute keepsake sort of craft although the little ones weren't nearly as interested in it as they were in playing fireman!

This afternoon we went "down town" to the small city square to visit a local toy store.  We have fun browsing but don't often buy during these visits and it's nice to have a close afternoon outing sometimes  just to break up those after nap hours, especially if naps were non-existent or cut short for one reason or another.  The little ones I love seem to cope better when we're out and about in those times than when we're home and melt downs are quicker to come by.  The toy store is under new ownership which has brought in many new products for sale, but has also brought new employees who are much less friendly and don't seem to understand a visit just to play quite as much.  We don't visit nearly as frequently these days as a result.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Notes as a Nanny background

I'm planning to start chronicling a bit about my days working as a nanny.  I care for two little ones, Mr. S. who will be 4 in September, and Miss M.K. who just turned 1 in May.  Moriah has had the great pleasure of life for the last year and a half as a younger "sister" to Mr. S. before his real sister's arrival, the middle child of the three friends, and oftentimes now as the older "sister to Miss M.K. when S. is away at pre-school.  Of course, she's also an only child when she's home until the Lord's plans allow for another baby here :)  So we've been tremendously blessed by this season of life as I feel like I have a dream job during this time when our family needed some income from me, though Matt and I both wanted me to care for Moriah... we have the best of both worlds in that sense.  Moriah really LOVES her friends and won't know what to do someday if she's really an only child to a stay at home mom (post-Seminary).

*For those who aren't friends in person I have a background in teaching as I graduated from Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Missouri with my Bachelor's in Elementary Education and Early Childhood.  I taught kindergarten in Kansas City, Missouri first as a long term substitute for one semester after college, and then as a full time classroom teacher the following year.  When we moved to Louisville, I grabbed the first job that came my way, although teaching 3rd graders was out of my league I quickly realized :)  The next year I was able to go back to kindergarten which was a blessing.  Our daughter was born the next August so I didn't return to the classroom, but worked in a daycare during the first few months of her life as she was just down the hall.  While that wasn't a bad situation, it wasn't ideal in lots of ways.  The Lord's plans were perfect when He led me to nannying and I've been here since! *

I'm just hoping to share these days so that I can remember in the future what activities went well, and duplicate them as needed.  Most of my ideas come from Pinterest these days, though I sometimes tweak them to fit the ages of these little ones or the limitations we may have.  I also have the opportunity to get out of the house very frequently for fun outings with the kids.  I typically care for the kids in their home, though there are occasions when they come to our apartment to play (we live 30 minutes away from the family, but in the city which is sometimes a more logical starting point for our outings).  Lastly, there are a lot of resources at my disposal as far as good toys, craft supplies, and finances that the family makes available to me.  By no means would Moriah experience all of these things if I weren't working in this situation.  Therefore, don't think that you should be doing all of this as a stay-at-home mom yourself.  If days as a stay-at-home mom looked like this, my house would be a wreck (my cleaning is minimal as I work), my husband would be hungry (I don't do any meal prep for the family apart from lunches and cooking projects), and my kids would think the world revolved around their "fun" :)  That's not reality we all know, so these days are heavy on the side of kid focused and I realize that, just wanted to be sure you did too!

I'll list our weekly fun as a re-cap at the end of each week, with links and some pictures.  Enjoy!

Monday, July 9, 2012

thanks with my whole heart

701. today's Psalm, chapter 9, full of sweet Truth
702. tea parties with stuffed friends
703. buttons and beans - two recently fun play times for Moriah
704. swimming as a family in the Seminary pool
705. a break from hot, hot days
706. air conditioning which makes it much more comfortable
707. deacons who care for the church in all sorts of ways
708. my husband who is willing to do hard things that are right
708. God's grace at work in a difficult conversation
708. peaches shared with us, "the best in the world" we were told, and I believe it!
709. sunbathing in moderation for my red head, freckled skin
710. time to prepare and plan in advance
711. almost 2 years with our sweet and healthy little girl
712. planning a birthday party to celebrate
713. 4th of July at the zoo as a family, so hot but not too busy

can you see the bald eagles down below?  fitting for a 4th of July zoo outing!

714. God who sustains us even in the midst of hard circumstances
715. a hope for all things redeemed one day, "Every word of God proves true"
716. memorizing Scripture with a little one
717. a fun project for Mr. S. in the works
718. another year with my husband, looking forward to God's plans for his 27th year
719. finances provided
720. new recipes that we enjoy
721. "please mama" in a sweet voice as we practice asking politely
722. God's gift of new life in the form of two little babies I visited this weekend
723. the amazing span of creation, and a zoo certainly can't contain it all
724. the joy of water fun for little ones

her shocked but thrilled face!

725. embroidery work, so peaceful in a quiet house as Moriah sleeps
726. making gifts for others when they seem just right
727. learning something new, a t-shirt quilt is coming together here
728. rejoicing that to "have it all" is only to submit to the Lord and find freedom is His perfect plans, even when as a woman the world doesn't understand
729. God's strength allowing me to weigh my words and speak more slowly, may He continue this good work
730. small growth in our little church, through the words and prayers of a faithful 90 year old friend
731. the first face painting

so happy to show off the tiny flower on her cheek

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Matt's birthday feast

I'm SO very thankful for my dear husband Matt.  The Lord has blessed me richly in him, and in God's work through our marriage.  His life is a true testimony of the Lord's goodness and grace.  Matt is a loving and kind husband and father, who is wonderfully patient with my shortcomings and flaws,  yet full of godly encouragement to me as I fight sin.  The Lord has been especially gracious to us this year as He has brought about astonishing healing and comfort during a lengthy trial due to extreme anxiety.  I'm especially grateful for Matt, his growth in the Lord, and his continued faith and perseverance as we look back on this trial rejoicing in God's goodness.  I'm also looking forward to all the Lord has in store for us in the upcoming year as Matt will complete his Master's of Divinity at Southern Seminary next May 2013, and begin pursuing the Lord's plans for our future life in pastoral ministry, Lord willing.  I am honored to be Matt's wife, and hoped this little birthday dinner would be full of enjoyments for him!

Matt asked for fish which we hadn't had in quite awhile, so I chose to make him a salmon favorite...

Pecan Crusted Salmon
3 TBSP Dijon mustard
3 TBSP butter, melted
5 tsp honey
1/2 c cracker crumbs (like Ritz)
1/2 c chopped pecans
6 (4oz) filets salmon
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Mix mustard, butter, and honey
In another bowl mix cracker crumbs and pecans
Season salmon filets with salt and pepper
Squeeze lemons over salmon to season as well
Place salmon on lightly greased baking sheet
Brush with honey mustard mixture, then cover with pecan and cracker crumbs
Bake salmon for 10 min per inch of thickness at 400 degrees

*I only make 2 salmon filets at a time, using the small frozen salmon that comes frozen in individually sealed bags at ALDI so I adjust quantities of other ingredients accordingly, just estimating.  This is the original recipe without those modifications

We also enjoyed these yummy sweet potato fries which we all love, my friend Carrie shared her recipe
with me...

Sweet Potato Fries
3 small-medium sweet potatoes
1 1/2 TBSP olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp salt

Peel potatoes and cut into "fries" (if you need to work in advance the fries can be covered in a bowl of water and stored in the refrigerator until you're ready to finish preparing them)
Mix remaining seasoning ingredients together and toss with sweet potato fries in a large bowl
Arrange fries in a single layer on a baking sheet
Bake fries at 450 degrees for 30 minutes, turning once in the middle

*You can experiment a bit on the oven temperature, especially if you're trying to cook your fries with another part of your meal at the same time (I often need to cook them at about 425 degrees instead), some ovens may tend to be hot and the fries will burn faster than you might expect, just keep your eye on them!  I've also used dried rosemary from time to time when my fresh rosemary plant isn't producing quickly enough

Matt LOVES this pasta salad and asks for it year round!  I think it's most fitting in the summer, which is also when we have plenty of fresh basil growing.  You might have seen this circulating on Pinterest, though we've been enjoying it for a few years since it was published in Better Homes and Gardens.

Avocado Basil Pasta Salad

Finally, everyone needs a birthday cake :)  Matt told me he had nice memories of his grandma making strawberry cake for his birthday every year.  I decided to make a strawberry cake as well and got the recipe from my friend Carrie again.  She's a great source for yummy inspiration!  This makes a big cake which we were happy to share with our community group!  I think it's also going to become our go-to birthday cake as Moriah insisted the pink cake was hers, in a month it will be.

Strawberry Cake
1 box white cake mix
small box strawberry JELLO (not pudding)
3/4 c oil
1/2 c thawed strawberries (the kind that are frozen and sweetened, with their juice)
3 TBSP flour
1/2 c water
4 eggs

Beat all ingredients (except strawberries) for 2 minutes.  Add drained strawberries and beat an additional 1 minute.  Pour batter into 2 (8 or 9") round cake pans.  (I greased and floured them first.)  Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.  Let cakes cool completely BEFORE icing and stacking together, the icing seems especially quick to melt with even a bit of warmth left in the cakes and you'll end up with a mess!)

Strawberry Icing
1 stick butter, softened (not melted)
1/4 tsp salt
1 lb powdered sugar
1/2 c thawed strawberries, drained (you can also supplement with some fresh in the icing)

Cream butter, sugar and salt.  (If your mixture is like mine and doesn't start to cream as you'd expect add milk in tiny amounts and it will quickly "come together".)  Add strawberries.  Beat until smooth and spreadable.  Refrigerate icing until ready to use.  Garnish cake with fresh strawberries as desired.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

meal plans July 6-13

I was highly inspired by Pinterest this week as I planned our meals.  I tried to mix new things in with some simple recipes using things we already had on hand.  This is the plan...

Friday -
taco casserole (a "one dish wonder" as I warn Matt so that he's not disappointed by a lack of sides), fruit

Saturday -
baked lemon chicken with green beans and potatoes, rolls, brownies
(we're delivering half of this to a family with a new baby)

Sunday -
pressed sandwiches, fruit
(I only bought the salami and provolone to simplify it a bit for our budget)

Monday -
spaghetti with oven broccoli
(we haven't eaten spaghetti in a few weeks though it's been on our meal plans, things have been rearranged at the last minute for one reason or another, and spaghetti is the first meal to go, maybe it's just not the most appealing on a hot summer day to me)

Tuesday -

Wednesday -
pecan crusted salmon, crispy edamame, and rice
(I hope to add the pecan crusted salmon recipe soon!)

Thursday -
red beans and rice, cornbread muffins
(we've never had this, but Pinterest made it look really good, hopefully it won't be too spicy!)

Friday -
breakfast for dinner - maybe another Dutch baby, or regular pancakes, we'll see

Friday, July 6, 2012

recipes for you!

Here are a few recipes that you may enjoy from some of my recent meal plans... they're some of our taste tested favorites.

First, "Gretchen's Muffins" as I call them, because they came first from a friend Gretchen who delivered them to lots of friends with babies (and to us when Moriah arrived)... the oatmeal is helpful for nursing moms and these are a great snack for anyone, nursing or not :)  They quickly became Matt's favorite muffin and have been for a couple of years now.  This is a really versitile recipe, and about the only one that I ever feel comfortable "tweaking", it's quite forgiving and we've never had a bad batch... enjoy!

1/2 c sugar (most often I use 1/4 c sugar + 1/4 c crushed pineapple with juice)
1/2 c butter (most often I use 1/4 c butter + 1/4 c applesauce)
3 bananas, mashed
2 eggs
1/2 c honey or brown sugar (honey's great, but it uses up our treasured local honey quickly so we often stick with brown sugar)
1 1/2 c flour (a combination of white/wheat works well)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 c oatmeal (I've norma quick oats as originally suggested, and old fashioned when I was out of the quick)

optional add-ins:
raisins, chocolate chips, nuts, coconut or shredded carrots (or a combo

Mix all ingredients (I use a hand mixer to make sure all are thoroughly combined).
Bake at 375 degrees for 15-18 minutes
*I usually get about 18 muffins per batch

Eat Better America's Country Blueberry Dessert

normally I'd take a picture before we ate, but I forgot this time

I've served this quite a few times in various situations, even some real "country" ones to our rural church members and once to Wendell Berry himself.  We've enjoyed a few visits with him as he lives in a neighboring rural town to the one Matt pastors in, he'd gladly host you as well if you write him a letter (he doesn't e-mail) requesting a visit and the nature of it.  Wait for a hand-written reply and enjoy time with a real sage, you'll leave with LOTS to think about.  All have given good reviews for this easy treat... that even doubles as my breakfast sometimes (topped with homemade yogurt!)

1 c flour
3/4 c sugar
3/4 c milk
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 TBSP butter, melted
16 oz blueberries, frozen (I usually only use the 12oz bag from ALDI)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grease an 8" square pan
Combine all ingredients, adding melted butter last.
Pour into pan, and top with blueberries.
Bake 1 hour, stand 15 minutes.
Serve with whipped cream for an extra special treat!

Look for more recipes from the yummy birthday dinner Matt and I enjoyed this week, coming soon!

Monday, July 2, 2012

give thanks to the Lord

681. walking with a stroller of little ladies
682. laundry from a little girl, I don't tire of folding tiny things :)
683. a day camp for a busy boy, and a quiet day for girls
684. my husband who stands for Truth while showing so much integrity of character
685. keeping up with friends
686. invitations from friends for little ones to play
687. a BBQ with friends in the summer
688. company and catching up, even when Papa John's is the main course in a dinner party with friends
689. a great blue heron flying away from the stream
690. a turtle trudging through the grass
691. tiny chirps from newly hatched birds outside our door
692. "last night" Moriah's new expression of time for anything done in the past... if you didn't know that she applies it to most everything you'd think we'd been really busy and up late :)
693. Moriah and Matt relaxing together (though she's never seemed up for it with me!)
694. the sweet affection of little friends
695. conviction that leads to action
696. faithful teaching even if skipping some parts would be "easier"
697. sweet saints who remember Moriah's upcoming birthday even as she's living her 90th year
698. faces returning to church after roads leading else where for a long time
699. learning the stories of those we worship with
700. wise counsel from miles away easily communicated with technology (sometimes it's good)