Monday, February 28, 2011

Soup, Stew, and Farm Fresh Eggs

Today was a busy day, but a good one. In spite of not much sleep last night and waking up with a stuffy nose, it was a productive day.

I got out early to get groceries for the week. Monday morning is the best time of the week to shop. There are no crowds, and the shelves are stocked, so I can get what I need and get out, or take my time..... :) Today I took a little extra time because I did not bring any kids along.

I got home and unloaded the groceries, got a stew going in the crock pot for supper, and made tomato soup for lunch.

After clean up, we decided to take a ride. Monday is hubby's day off, so it's nice to get out together when we can. Doesn't always happen, but even just a ride in the car together is a good 'get-away'.

Well, we went on an egg hunt. No, nothing to do with Easter. :) A lady in the church had mentioned to me that she gets her eggs from an Amish family not too far from us. I LOVE farm fresh eggs! And I like to know where my food is coming from. We drove for quite a while and turned around twice before we found the right home. But we found it. And now that we know where it is, we know a quicker way to get there.

We brought home 5 dozen fresh (likely organic) eggs! YUM! Isn't that a pretty sight? I'm pretty excited. Should last us about a week and a half.... hopefully. :)

Today was exciting for another reason too.... I got a new computer! My very own computer! Our desktop has given us almost 5 good years. It has been on it's way 'out' for about a year. And it is with a joyful heart that I say, "goodbye old computer!"

Since supper was bubbling away in the crock pot, I had time to relax and start up my new toy. Didn't get too far, though with a couple of curious girls hanging around. So, I decided to make a dessert for after supper, since I didn't have anything else to do.

I had a bunch of apples in the fridge that I needed to use up, so the girls helped me put together some apple crisp.
They love to help. I am a little territorial about my kitchen, but I am learning to let them be a part of things. And it makes my heart smile when they actually want to help, and they do a good job. Jules helped turn the crank to peel and slice the apples, and Emma cut them and put them in the dish.

Supper was awesome. I love stew. This happened to be a venison stew, because my hubby is handy with a butcher's knife. He didn't get a deer this past year, but he cut one up for someone else, and they gave us some of the meat.

 And dessert was fabulous. A perfect ending to a pretty good day. Well, aside from the laundry that is waiting to be folded...

**visit my recipe page for these recipes!!**

Saturday, February 26, 2011

New Shoes

My babies have exceptionally chunky feet. It is very hard to find shoes to fit. Ethan has been walking for about 2 months, and I still hadn't gotten him any shoes. Just putting socks on his feet didn't work because 1. we have wood floors and 2. he likes to pull them off and chew on them.

I wanted to get him a pair of the Robeez shoes, they're like leather slippers. But I really didn't want to spend $30 on a pair of baby shoes. I have a hard time spending $30 on my own shoes! I got on Ebay to see what they had, and I found some through a company called Mini-shoes for only $10! and they had a HUGE selection to choose from.

I love them because they are easy to slip on, they are very flexible, and they stay on his feet! And he's got a little bit of room to grow into them too, so they'll fit him for a while. :)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Picture Post

I found this while I was washing the dishes, which put me out of dish service for the day.

helpers! :)

watching Signing Time together 

handsome man

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Caramel Brownies

Yesterday I had a hankering for something chewy and sweet. I wanted blondies! you know, caramel brownies!

Last week I had searched the internet for a recipe for gluten free blondies, but I didn't find anything that looked just right. So, I used a normal wheat flour recipe and just switched it out for gluten free flour. The results? Crispy, chewy, buttery, caramel-y, heaven! Ok, these aren't sugar-free, so you might not want to make them all the time... but they sure are good! :)

No, there won't be a hole in yours after it bakes,
 only if you have an inquisitive 4 year old who likes
to put her fingers in everything.

Gluten Free Blondies
1/4 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 T milk (coconut or almond)
1 teas vanilla
1 cup gluten free flour
1 teas baking powder
1/2 teas salt
1/4 teas xanthan gum
*Optional:  add 1/2 cup of nuts or coconut

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and stir in brown sugar, egg, milk and vanilla. Combine dry ingredients in small bowl, add to sugar mixture and stir to comibine. Pour batter into a greased 8x8 pan and bake at 350 for 25 min. Let it cool before cutting (if you can wait!)

They won't last long!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Kids in the Cupboard and 'Meatballs'

Here is one of my kids favorite snacks. It's easy to throw together, and super yummy! I found the recipe on the back of our brown rice cereal box.

Crispy Rice Balls
1/2 cup natural peanut butter (chunky or creamy)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (pecans are especially tastey in these, but it really doesn't matter..)
1/2 teas. vanilla
1/2 teas. cinnamon
2 cups crispy brown rice cereal

Combine the first four ingredients in a medium size mixing bowl. Add cereal and stir to combine. You could put this into a 9x13 pan and chill. I like to make individual balls using my handy dandy cookie scoop. Put the balls onto a cookie sheet and chill in the refrigerator until firm. I usually get 2 dozen balls, give or take a few..... ;)
Julianna calls them 'meatballs'. LOL.

And a picture of my 14 month old munchkin, just 'cause he's too cute :)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Say Mmmenu planning!

Menu planning. You either do or you don't. I do, and it has saved me countless hours of stressing over the dreaded question, "what's for dinner?", not to mention money in the grocery store!

I started by sitting down once a week, usually on Sunday afternoon when it was quiet (Monday is grocery day), with a sheet of paper and a pencil. I listed the days of the week, and under each one B, L, and D. It could take me anywhere from 20 min to 2 hours to finish the list. I dreaded menu planning, it was such an arduous task.

I always saved my menu, and after some time I had quite a collection of ideas, which made the planning easier. But I got tired of doing it every single week. So, I started planning monthly, which is not as hard as it sounds!

I had kind of gotten into a routine with certain days of the week. Monday had to be quick and easy becuse it is my husband's day off, and if we went somewhere for the day I needed to have a plan for a quick supper whenever we returned home. Wednesday is always pasta to kind of break up the week. And Friday is another easy night, usually pizza or soup.

So, I printed off a calendar page with blocks big enough for me to write in. Under each day of the week I wrote the basic main 'meat'.

Monday - Burger
Tuesday - chicken
Wednesday - pasta
Thursday - beef (maybe venison, or pork)
Friday - Pizza (or soup)

And the weekends I take 'off'. Well, not really, because people still need to eat, but I don't usually do any major cooking. Leftovers, or whatever can be thrown together for an easy meal.

Now, I could look at Monday, and all I needed to do was to choose 4 (or 5) main dishes that could be made with burger (ie: shepherd's pie, meatballs, meatloaf....) And the same with the rest of it. On occasion I will have a meal with no meat. It was more managable for me to think through this way, not so overwhelming as figuring out 21 different meals each week.

Breakfasts I usually keep relatively the same. During the week we'll have hot cereal (quinoa for this gluten free home), eggs (we eat a lot of eggs), muffins, cold cereal, and either pancakes or french toast. The night before I decide what I'm doing for breakfast, so I do any prep before bed (mixing dry ingredients for muffins or pancakes).

Lunch is either leftovers or sandwiches, maybe burgers or tomato soup.

Now, I need to mention something else that has been SO helpful in this menu planning business.

Say Mmm is a free menu planning resource. All you need to do is sign up for a free account and start planning! Say Mmm keeps a list of your meals on file (that you've entered), gives you meal planning ideas, and access to recipes from other Say Mmm users!

You can easily build your grocery list as you are planning, and organize your own recipes. And they have a mobile site so you can easily view your lists while you are out!

They also have a Say Mmm Plus program, which offers extra features such as price tracking, calorie counting, and even more recipe ideas. You can try Say Mmm Plus free for two weeks, and if you like it, it only costs $3 a month!

So there's my take on menu planning. :) Maybe it will give you some ideas if you struggle in this area. It can be done!

Happy Menu Planning!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Personal Reflections and a Book Review

About a month ago, I was feeling so very overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with responsibilities, kids, things 'to do'. Life. I had to stop. So I did.

I cried out to God, expressing my frustrations and helplessness to continue on. I could not do any more. And that was the problem. Doing. Too much. I had brought it on myself. Projects, things I had to do, things I wanted to do, clean up, cook this, someone needs that, wash this, clean this again..

I stopped. Took a step back. Time for re-evaluation. What was absolutely necessary? What did the Bible say?

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." ~ Matthew 6:33

There is only one thing that we need to do. Seek the Lord. When we give Him our time, commit our ways to Him, He will establish our steps. One. at. a. time.

I was getting ready for bed one night, and I remembered this book. I had picked it up at a garage sale about four years ago. I thought it would be a good read. It was exactly what I needed.

In Seasons of a Woman's Life, Lois Evans (yes, Tony Evan's wife) uses the book of Esther to demonstrate how God works in different seasons of our life. Each season prepares us for the next.

God is always working. And everyone's life journey is different. But at some point we all go through the seasons of life. Seed-planting, growth, and harvest.

In the season of seed-planting, we respond to God's call with our commitment to Him. This is the building of our personal relationship with Him.

During the season of growth, He teaches us obedience, the importance of service. This is the time of preparation. Preparation for His perfect plan for our lives. We might not always understand the things He does. It's more than likely not going to be easy. But we can rest assured that He is always in control and has our good in mind.

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end."  ~ Jeremiah 29:11

Finally, we get to experience the season of harvest. All the time of preparation is come to fruition. We learn contentment. We learn to be obedient to God's direction in our lives, even if it means stepping out of our comfort zone. And we get to see God's blessings as His plan for our life unfolds.

It is comforting to know that nothing surprises God. He's got it all figured out. It's not my job to worry about tomorrow. It's all about today's priorities. If I do nothing else today, what must be done so that I am fulfilling God's call on my life? For me right now, it's being a godly wife for my husband, being a godly example and teacher for my kids, and taking care of my home. Everything else can wait. There will be time later for things I want to do. But if I don't have my priorities in order right now, life will always seem chaotic, and I will miss out on the Lord's blessings.

Although I look with anticiaption towards the future, what the Lord's plans may be for my life, it is not for me to know. So, I will enjoy each and every day. I will try to see God's blessings and be thankful, even in the ugly stuff. Because God is always good. 

Today, I choose to let Him direct my steps. One at a time, every minute of every hour. Because life changes so fast. I'm glad to let Him be in control.

"I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." ~ John 15:5

In whatever season of life you may be in, I encourage you to read this book. You will be encouraged and challenged as you learn how the Lord is working in your life, and how to respond with gratitude and contentment.

(I was not asked or paid to write this..)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Yummy Creativity

Having succeeded at making a gluten free pie crust the other day got me excited about making pie. This time I made a cookie crumb crust using gluten free gingersnaps. I sliced some bananas over the bottom. I put a layer of peanut butter pudding over the bananas. Then I topped it with a layer of chocolate pudding! It was divine! Visit my recipe page for the pudding and crust recipes to make this pie! (*note - I only used 1/2 batch of each pudding for one pie, but you can totally make a full recipe if you want, I'm sure it won't go to waste!)

Today I sat down with the girls and they stuffed their pillows! I don't know what's so hilarious about stuffing a pillow, but Jules was giggling the whole time! She's such a silly girl... :)

Good Night!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

I like the idea of Valentine's Day. A day to remember those we love and show them in some way. The commercialism that it has become, not so much. Kind of ruins it really. My husband is a Valentine's rebel. :)

Love doesn't (shouldn't!) need to be bought. This morning my husband did the dishes for me, as I had errands to run in town. That's the kind of  romance I like - genuine appreciation.

So, I did some Valentine's day baking! (another great way to show someone you love them!) Emma helped me. Amy at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free posted this recipe I thought it was cute, so I gave it a try. (I used honey in place of agave, and used my own brown rice flour blend.) They're not super sweet, more like a peanut butter shortbread, but I thought they were really good. Emma liked the jam. Hubby wasn't thrilled. (More for me!!)

My husband isn't into chocolate or cake. So, I made a pie. Raspberry, yum! :)
I have never found a gluten free pie crust recipe that I liked. I didn't like the idea of putting xanthan gum in it. I had tried that before and thought it just made the crust tough. So, I ended up using my regular pie crust recipe, added an egg to hold it together a little, and then added enough water to make it all stick together. It came out really good. It made me happy. :)

So don't forget to always show someone that you genuinely appreciate them. It'll go a long way, and say more than a diamond bracelet ever could.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My not-so-green thumb

Last summer I planted a small garden. It was a round garden about 4 feet by 4 feet. I planted carrots, lettuce, chamomile, and chives. I did say small. Well, time went by. The lettuce sprouted. The carrots sprouted. The chamomile sprouted. And the chives were transplanted, so they were growing well.

At the end of the summer we had a little bit of lettuce. I dug up the carrots. They were ok, only had a small handful. The chamomile did not look like chamomile. I don't know what happened to it... And the chives were still alive, so I thought I'd transplant them to a small pot and put them in my sunny window so I could have fresh chives during the winter.

Well, they seemed to be doing alright for a while. Then they started to get dry, so I watered them. But not often enough. Pretty soon, all I had was a pretty pot with crunchy, brown wisps sticking out of the dirt. So I trimmed the whole thing down, hoping that the chives might sprout up again. But to no avail. I killed it. :(

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Gluten Free Crepes

Monday is usually grocery day for me. I was meandering through the aisles, checking out the produce... and what did I see? Strawberries! Apparently, it is strawberry season in California. :) I am still looking at over 2 feet of snow outside my window. Seeing those strawberries gave me a glimmer of hope that someday winter will end, and I will be picking my own strawberries - in about 5 months. Agh! I can't wait that long for fresh strawberries! So, I picked out a container of plump, juicy, red berries. They looked great, and I couldn't wait to figure out what to do with them.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Pudding du Chocolat

I love pudding. Rich, creamy, chocolate pudding. My mom used to make us pudding as an after school snack.

But right now I am trying to avoid sugar. White, processed, refined sugar. I spent a couple of weeks overindulging in the stuff, and my body finally had enough. I felt like ... crap. No more sugar.

I love making recipes healthier, and once you know the basic healthier substitutes, it's really easy to figure out. There are natural sweeteners. I'm not talking about chemically altered, 0 calorie, tastes like real sugar, sweeteners. I mean God given, natural sweeteners. Honey and real maple syrup are what I use the most. And if you can get local honey that's great! (more on honey in another post..) I love it.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Mission Finally Accomplished!

I have been wanting to clean out the kids' toys since Christmas! Toys are the most useless, money waster there are - in my own honest opinion. Give a kid a wooden spoon, a steel pot, and a couple of blocks and they'll play forever! Ok, not all toys are bad, but it sure gets old picking them up everyday, knowing that they're not even getting played with!

Today, I had a mission. I was going to conquer toy mountain that has been growing in our living room corner since Christmas! And I WON! hahaha! Take that, TOYS!

I started by dumping everything out in the middle of our living room floor. The girls were not allowed to touch anything unless they were going to throw it away or put it in a box. (They went to find something else to do....)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Something to Think About Sunday

Pslam 113:1-4 ~ "Praise ye the Lord, Praise, O ye servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord. Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and forevermore.
From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the Lord's name is to be praised.
The Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens."

Saturday, February 5, 2011

It's getting chili in here!

Nothing warms the body and soul better than a spicy-sweet bowl of chili! I was never a chili fan growing up. I didn't like the chunks of peppers and onions, the kidney beans wierded me out, and it was usually too spicy for my tastes.

But then, I had my grandmother's chili. It was slightly sweet, not too much spice, a little salty, meaty, beany, yummy! I was hooked! Bring on the chili! :)

Chili is a wonderfully hearty and frugal meal, and naturally gluten free! Serve it over some brown rice with a nice green salad on the side, and you've got a quick, no fuss meal that will fill you up and warm your soul. It is easy to make a huge batch of chili, then you can make this ahead of time, and freeze the extra. I suggest freezing it in appropriate size glass canning jars, small for single servings, or large for family sized. Just be sure to leave a good inch or more of space at the top of your jar, or you'll have a chili bomb ticking in your freezer!

I like to make my own baked beans for this recipe.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Sew Frustrating

          So, a little bit about me: I absolutely love to cook and bake. I love to knit, I only just learned a year ago, and have been addicted ever since! I also like to sew. Notice I didn't say love - because sewing involves technology (the machine) and I do not have good luck when it comes to technical difficulties. I never have an uneventful sewing session. Sewing can cause lots of frustration for me, but I really do like to make things that way.
          Yesterday, I did not have many responsibilities for my housekeeping routine, so I thought it would be fun to make a couple little pillows with the girls. Something simple and straightforward, low stress.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


          Well, every blog starts somewhere, so here we go! My name is Karen. I am a pastor's wife and mom to three wonderful children. Our family lives with gluten intolerance (except my husband, but between you and me, he's just in denial..) We are a missionary family to the United States. Yes, maybe that seems odd to you, but here's a quick fact: we do not live in a God-fearing nation, or maybe you knew that? There are millions of people right in our backyard who need to know the love of God.
          One thing that the Lord has put on my heart lately is how fleeting life is. I'm starting this blog because I want to remember the days. I want to look back and see what we've been through, and remember the blessings.
          Life is seasonal. Not just in years, but how the Lord works in us, changing us to be more like Him, teaching us more of His ways, allowing us to know Him more deeply, intimately.
          I am excited to see what the Lord has in store for us this year. I hope you will join me as I strive to fulfill my high calling as wife and mother. I'm learning as I go, I promise I do not have all the answers! We'll learn together. ;)
  Ecclesiastes 3:1 ~ To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.