He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young
. {Isaiah 40:11}

28 February 2011

today is monday.

i was looking at some recent pictures and
i've come to a conclusion about myself...
 i sent CJ in to find some pants...
okay, this is just ridiculous!
then i caught my kids researching ways to get their mommy to do the housework
sadly, it didn't help and Hubs got the brunt of the kids' frustration
sorry, babes. 
i fear i have driven poor CJ to drinking...
whoops again.
{and yes, please notice the unbuttoned pants. oh geez.}

25 February 2011

Other People's Genius {Organize}

oh, what the dollar store has to offer! DIY Ideas

okay, seriously, you know your house is a bit small when even this idea isn't possible!
thankfully, i can store this brilliance here for another day another home
pure genius, Love of Family & Home

have excess pallets laying around? who doesn't, right?
ana white is a smarty pants!

Make It and Love It? i think i will, thank you
{cardboard storage on the cheap. that's how I roll}

make it cute using tatertots & jello's ideas

 those piles of kiddy books aren't going to organize themselves!
try this from Helping Little Hands

24 February 2011

{Butternut Squash Soup}

If you like butternut squash, this is a great soup! It tastes roasted squash with herbs and it was a wonderful fresh flavor for a cold winter day. 
Butternut Squash Soup
What You'll Need:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped fine
3 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-1/2-inch chunks
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 sprigs thyme
Pinch nutmeg
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper

What To Do:
Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the squash, broth, thyme, and nutmeg. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until the squash is tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove the thyme sprigs and puree the soup in batches in a blender (or food processor.. or immersion blender) until smooth.
Return the pureed soup to the pot. Stir in the cream. Bring to a brief simmer, then remove from the heat. If the soup seems too thick, thin it out with additional broth or water. Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving. Sprinkle individual servings with more nutmeg, if desired.

23 February 2011

a little bit of me... Part I

As I've mentioned to many of my local friends lately, I have been reading through a book called "The Mission of Motherhood" by Sally Clarkson. I can safely say that this book, along with a few others I have read over the past few months, have been eye openers for me. I have wanted to share my heart with you all for a while now, I can't explain why, other than this blog has often been where I have come to "release"... so now, for a little more of me...
About a year or so ago, Sweet Hubs and I discussed homeschooling our kids. I don't say that lightly. The reality is that Hubs is a product of the public school system and I attended a private Christian school for 13 years. Both of us have seen the products of homeschooling and, aside from one family I know well, we have been scared by its results. At first I thought we were terrible people because we thought everyone who came out of a homeschooling environment was... well... nerdy, lacking-social skills, awkward, uncomfortable, know-it-alls. {Rough, I know!} After reading what other mom's have to say about their home school experiences, though, I have seen that the stigma is most definitely a prevalent one and, though it has been known to be the case, that it doesn't have to be.

So again, after reading some of the books I have been reading, I have no doubt in my mind that that's what we'll be doing.

Are we running from the world and all it's evils? Yup. Kinda.
I worked in the local public schools as a substitute teacher and the word I heard misued the most was "tolerance". I have come to HATE that word. I did a couple of long term substitution in our town's elementary school, the one my children would attend if we let them. There was not an ounce of absolute truth to be found. The books were clean and new. The artwork was updated and impressive. The students were well behaved, for the most part. But the attitude of the staff was rude and selfish and so, so lost. I confirmed that I had nothing in common with most of the people who would be assigned to teach my children in their most impressionable years. They demanded respect and good behavior with no reasoning. Why respect others if they weren't created in God's image and if their heavenly Abba didn't love them? Why hold to any truths if everyone else's completely opposing truth was just as valid? I was so bogged down by the weight of how lost that school was that I determined there was no chance my children would attend that school and I explained that to Hubs right away. Despite the many programs for children with special needs, the wonderful test scores, and the well kept building, I was disgusted.
So what about the local Christian school I attended?
Well, for one, it's costly. I have full confidence in the staff and their ability to teach my children the truth's of God's word. I also feel the strong conviction that the best place for my childrens' education is my own home.
And what do I think I can offer to my kids?
My job... my personal interest... my long term goals... my concerns... are all for the children that the Lord placed into our care. As a mom, I already have the personal interest in my kids. It comes naturally. The desire to see them succeed in all areas of life was built into me when they were conceived. By the standards of compassion, love, concern, and expectations, I am more than qualified. I'm actually qualified by academic standards too since 1. I made it through four years of college and 2. those four years of college were spend getting a degree in elementary education {NOT that either of those are required to homeschool but I figured it would quiet the "nay-sayers"}.
I also have the time. I am currently a house-wife and a stay-at-home-mom. I know what I signed myself up for when I had CJ and Mak, and I know what I'm signing up for as Little Petey is growing in me {and kicking the desk I'm up against as we speak!}.
I have no intention of knowing what the Lord's plan is for you or any other family. Maybe you are unable to stay at home for financial reasons. Maybe you prefer the challenge of a career over full-time-mommyhood. I am speaking only to our family and what I know the Lord is calling us to.

Am I scared? 
Beyond belief. I know that to home school well, I will have to make many sacrifices of my personal time. I will be on call and accessible to my children ALL. THE. TIME! As a woman who was created with a very strong independent streak, I am curious as to how this will work out.
I will have to be purposeful in my planning. I will have lesson plans, yes, but to be affective, I can't just throw a coloring sheet at my kids and think I've done my job. I'll have to organize. I want to be the kind of teacher that lets my kids get their hands dirty and try new things and apply what they're learning in all areas of life. Yeah... no small task, indeed.
I'm also excited! I was raised in a home where I was allowed to travel a good bit. My dad traveled to visit members of his huge-normous family and often took me with him. I went on a few business trips with him too and was able to visit several factories and see how things are made and things are done. I've learned to love the processes of how things we use in daily life get to be what they are. I want my kids to see and experience those same things and that goes not only for tangible "stuff" but also for history.
One of the biggest things I learned from my teaching experience in schools is that the best way to learn something is by teaching it. You cannot be an affective teacher if you don't know your stuff. You have to study, learn and not just recite facts but understand the processes. I look forward to learning along with my kids and exploring things from the grand perspective that God created everything and God's perfect plan is in everything.

...and what about the risk of raising "nerds"?
As for the number one concern of everyone I know... I'm coming to the conclusion that socialization is a matter of how much work you put into it. I am currently surrounded by a group of women who love to get together with each other. Most of our kids are close in age so that means we tend to get together a lot. We are also a part of our local Community Bible Study which does not skimp on Biblical education for children. There are a handful of moms I talk with often who are already home schooling and several others who are starting to talk about it when their kids are of age. I am confident that the opportunities for my kids to hang with other kids their age will be plentiful. But I have also begun to realize that socialization with people of other ages, older and younger, is incredibly important. Through homeschooling I will have the freedom to use some of our time to interact with people of all ages. I am thrilled with the idea of getting my kids to practice their reading by reading to younger kids at church or in local schools or heck, with each other! I love the idea that I can bring my kids into a nursing home and have them interact with the elderly who not only crave attention from others but desperately need to be loved because they're so quickly forgotten. Together we can be the hands and feet of Christ by serving at the local soup kitchen. They can learn so much just by interacting with others! And even further reaching, I will have the rare opportunities to teach them about God's beauty and creativity by showing them his creation on walks in the woods around our home and even road trips to all kinds of places.
These are opportunities that may be accessible when children are in school systems but are far more difficult because you're working around other peoples' schedules.

I am realizing that I have just as much of a chance of raising adjusted, well-rounded, God serving children who have hearts for the Lord and His love for others as I do of having a self-serving, ignorant, and socially awkward child. It all depends on me.

22 February 2011

Magic Binding Blanket

I found this idea from Fabric. Family. Fun., loved the idea of being simple... gave it a shot... first one took about an hour and a half, total... second one, about thirty minutes.
Well worth the effort!
Especially if you procrastinate like me and wait till a few minutes before going to a baby shower to whip one up. Whoops!

18 February 2011

{Gnocchi with Peas and Prosciutto} & {Apple Crumble}

My little sister... okay, she's actually twenty, but still... offered to make us dinner the other night. Now what kind of sister would I be if I didn't let her?!
She didn't disappoint! 
Not only did she cook a recipe I would have never thought to try but she made dessert too and it was all dee-licious!

 Gnocchi with Peas and Prosciutto
{Cook This, Not that! }
What You'll Need:
2 T butter
1/2 bunch (about 10 spears) asparagus, woody ends removed, chopped into 1" pieces
1 c frozen peas
3 oz prosciutto, sliced into thin strips
1 c low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste
12 oz packaged gnocchi
parmesan for grating

What To Do:
Heat half the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the asparagus and saute for two to three minutes, then stir in the peas, prosciutto and stock. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the asparagus is tender and the peas are soft. Season with salt and black pepper. Keep warm.
Cook the gnocchi in  large pot of boiling water until the float to the top, no more than 5 minutes. Drain and add to the skillet with the veggies along with the other tablespoon of butter. Cook together for 1 minutes to that the sauce and gnocchi have time ti mingle. Serve with freshly grated parmesan.

And then...
Apple Cumble
{Cook This, Not That!}
What You'll Need:
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into wedges
1/2 c apple juice
4 T brown sugar
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
1 c rolled oats
pinch salt
2 T chilled butter cut into small pieces
1/4 c chopped almonds {optional}
whipped cream or creme fraiche{optional}

What To Do:
Preheat the oven to 400. Combine the apples, apple juice, 2 T brown sugar, 1/8 t cinnamon, and 1/8 t nutmeg in a large mixing bowl. 
In a separate bowl, combine the oats with the remaining 2 T brown sugar, 1/8 t cinnamon, and 1/8 t nutmeg, plus a good pinch of salt. Add the butter and work the mixture with your fingertips until it comes together in moist clumps. Add the almonds, if using them, and work them in as well.
Divide the apples among 4 ramekins and top with the oatmeal-almond mixture. Bake in the middle rack of the oven for about 25 minutes, until the apples are hot and bubbling and the crumble has begun to brown. (If the topping isn't significantly browned, you can turn on the broiler for the last minute of cooking.) Let cool for a few minutes. If desired, serve with a generous dollop of whipped cream of creme fraiche.

"Tsanks", Ree!

17 February 2011

Yes, Lord. I hear you...

I've feel as though I've been hit over the head a few times over the past weeks.
I don't know if you've ever experienced God in this way, but sometimes it seems like He has set His mind on teaching me a lesson and, when He does, every aspect of my life circles around that lesson.
I  read "Created to Be His Help Meet" by Debi Pearl about a year ago {a somewhat controversial book for some} and out of all the good stuff, the meat, Debi shared, one quote stuck with me... "joy begins with thankfulness". The idea that, when I get into a rut of complaints, selfishness, and downright whining, I can just "appreciate my way out of it" was intriguing.
I know that often wallowing in my own self-pity can be satisfying... for a while. I also know that allowing myself to indulge in my own anxiety and anger is an awfully silly way to waste my time...my life...and that allowing myself to bathe in my own discontentment makes me an idol of my own creation and I miss out on the gifts the Lord has waiting for me {Jonah 2:8}.
I also have been reading about a book titled "One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are" by Ann Voskamp. I heard about it from Lindsay on Passionate Homemaking's blog. Lindsey seemed deeply moved by this book and the title, alone, sounded like something I could benefit from.
Yes, I have a cozy little home that stays warm in the winter, cool in the summer. Yes, I've been given two beautiful, healthy children who make me smile daily. Yes, my husband is a hard worker who goes above and beyond to care for me and our children. Yes! I have an easy comfortable life that is blessed by all I need and so much more... and yet... I complain about the small and silly. The constant flow of crumbs under the table. The piles of laundry that I have no interest in folding. The expectation of my husband and children to cook, clean, and keep the house running along with everything else I promised I'd do five years ago in front of family and friends.

So I bought the book.

I must admit... the writing style is a little more poetic than I like and yet each chapter has spoken to me.
I mean DEEPLY.
I know that the Lord places things in our lives at just the right moment.
Jerry Falwell Sr. used to say "God never puts more ON you than he puts IN you to bear it up". I always liked that saying and sometimes, when it counts, I manage to hear those words echo in my mind.
This book... this story of Ann's life was just what I needed and I didn't even know I needed it. I wish I could share with you every word that God has been speaking gently to my heart through this book but there's just too much. The over-arching message, though, is that we must learn and practice being thankful for each and every gift that God has given us. The definition of "gift" may not always be what we expect. It may be small and simple. It may be an ugly-beautiful thing. It may be a painful gift... but we must be willing to accept any and all gifts from the Lord to truly understand who He is and what His love looks like in our lives.
We must trust Him completely. Our inability to do so is like raising your arms for nourishment for God but keeping your hands balled in fists. You can't have it both ways. You can't half accept what He has to offer and reject the parts that don't feel good. That goes for the silly things like crumbs under the table and the crippling, painful things like the death of a child.
This book has, in the past week, taught me to slow down, take note of what is and what should be important in my life and look for God in everything.
Ann started her whole journey by creating a list of one-thousand things she was thankful for. Most of what she wrote seemed so silly to me and didn't make much sense... "22. Mail in the mailbox... 24. Old men looking for words just so."  {pg 48} As I read through her story, though, they started to make sense and as I started my own list I realized how silly my gifts sounded and yet that seemed to be the point. God is in the silly, mundane details of our lives. He's in the soap bubbles in the dish water. He's in the small, smudgy hand-prints on the kitchen window. It's our hearts that have to practice thanksgiving to see the blessing in those things.
{So anyway... yes, I think the book is good and yes, I recommend it.}
But as I said, the lesson that I have been learning isn't just in the books... it seems that God is showing me in all aspects of my life that I am missing thankfulness. I am far too prideful to be of any use to God outside of His grace.
Maybe that's the lesson I'm learning.
In the weekly Bible study I attend we have been going through the prophets of the Old Testament. Recently it was Jonah.
I've heard this story a million times. That may be an accurate number since I was born and raised in the church.
Jonah: He runs from God's call to go to Ninevah and tell them to start behaving or God's gonna get'um. He ends up on a boat heading in the wrong direction. God sends a storm. Jonah goes over the edge of the boat. Get's swallowed by a big fish. {You may be picturing Veggie Tales or Pinocchio by now...} Stays there for three days. Gets puked out onto the shore. Goes to Ninevah. The people repent. Jonah's done his job. The end.

Um... yeah...

That may have been what I've read over the past twenty-plus years of my life but this time... this time it was different. The passage I've read a thousand times over was new to me. The detail. The great God in the small and silly.
First, God called Jonah to be a messenger to some seriously nasty people. Nahum three says that people were literally stumbling over the dead bodies in the streets.


And yes, Jonah does run. He runs in the complete opposite direction. He was told to go northwest by land and, instead, he headed southeast by water. He actually thought he could run from God. And yet God, in His infinite mercy, was patient with Jonah. Numbers 14:18 says that "the Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression..." Granted, God's means of "gentle patience" with Jonah involved a tempest and a giant fish, which many believe to be a shark.
Not in my book.
BUT, rather than allowing Jonah to hit the water and drown in the waves, He saved him.
Despite him.
Whether or not it took the whole three days for Jonah to realize his need for repentance, I don't know.
I can just picture Jonah, all squished into the belly of a fish who was only slightly larger than him, wondering how he was going to get out, if at all, and then... after taking a stab at paralyzing fear, panic, and complaint... he submits in prayer.
And yes, it's then he's puked out onto the shore.
And it's then that he agrees to obey.

A dear friend recently told me that he has a habit of overdoing it and he's the type of guy who requires being hit in the head with a two-by-four before he sees his need to stop. listen. and change. 
Praise God that He doesn't use the "fishy-treatment" on us! 

So Jonah goes.

And he gives the warning to the mean and nasty Ninevites and passes on the message, from God, that they will encounter complete and total destruction if they don't repent and change their ways.
And what happens?
Immediately, the people "believed God" {Jonah 3:5}. They immediately changed. The heard the warning and they repented. And "when God saw what they did, how they turned from heir evil way, [He] relented of the disaster that He had said He would do to them...".
Did you catch that?
"God SAW what they did. He SAW how they turned from their evil way"...

They not only repented... they acted.
They stopped what they were doing.
They turned and changed.
And God spared them... those mean and nasty people.
It would seem most natural for Jonah to rejoice in the miraculous change he saw in the Ninevites. And yet... he pouted! He became angry with God for showing mercy on those mean and nasty people!
Jonah 4:5 says that Jonah actually went out of the city, made a cozy spot for himself, and sat back to watch the destruction of the city from a safe distance away!
He looked forward to the power of God being displayed in front of him in big, booming, fire-falling-from-heaven kind of ways. Yet, just as in I Kings 19, God wasn't in the fire and the mighty wind. God was in the whisper. In the story of Jonah, God power wasn't displayed through the destruction of an entire nation.

God power was in His grace.
His mercy.
His repentance.

How true is it of me to pout when God's justice isn't carried out the way I want. Even in my own home I hide under my super-spiritual-wifeness and warn and wait for the destruction of my husband's bad habits.
Am I alone in this?
Am I the only one who is deeply offended by my husband's momentary inconsideration and takes it upon myself to "set him straight" as if I'm any better? I wish I could say that I've never waited for God to deal quickly and "justly" with those I am hurt by. AND YET... I pray for mercy on myself and show minimal thankfulness when it's shown to me time and time again. I don't take stock, often enough, of how I pray for justice on others and try to keep God's mercy for myself.
Where's the justice in that?!
That line of thinking should cause me to shudder  because it means that I do not love those people.
Not truly.


If I follow that to it's conclusion I can't help but ask if I am loving my husband when I sit back and wait for God to deal with him and his bad moments.
As a believer, born and raised, I often forget how ugly my little child heart was before He saved me. While I was still in the acts of my sinful, mean and nasty heart... there, in that mess... God saved me.
Why is that so difficult to remember?
Why am I so quick to not only take note of other's sins but brand them into my mind so that when they fall I can quickly recall their past offenses as a record against them?

So how does this all connect?

Simply this... I have failed to see God in others.
I have failed to recognize Him in all things and all people.
I have failed to see Him in the "good" and the "bad".
I have been enthusiastic in complaining about things that I interpret as "bad", "unfair", "wrong", or "unjust".
I have been willing to take the good from God in any and all things but have been quick to pull back my eager arms and clench my fists when something ugly comes along.
And because of that, I miss out on who God is and in my refusal to trust Him completely.

I saw myself in Jonah much more than I'd like to admit.
I take my only solace in this... He's not done with me yet and, though my dark heart doesn't deserve a minute of His time or an ounce of His mercy... He gives it generously.

16 February 2011

Cornish Hens {Date Night In}

Hubs and I stayed in for Vday, as usual, and enjoyed another date-night-in...

 Butterflied Cornish Hens with Sage Butter
{courtesy of Sunny Anderson}

  Matchstick Potatoes
{Barefoot in Paris by Ina Garten with a "Krystle Twist"} 
What You'll Need:
Peanut or Canola Oil
2 large oval Idaho potatoes, peeled
Sea salt or Kosher salt
Minced fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)
Truffle flavored oil {I added this, not necessary but SO yummy!}

What To Do:
Ina says: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour at least 1 inch of oil into a deep pot and heat it to 350 degrees.  
What I did: Skipped the oven altogether. Used  my deep fry pot with canola oil and set it on 350. 

Ina says: Slice potatoes into thin matchsticks (1/8 inch thick) with a vegetable slicer or mandolin.
What I did: Used my mandolin to make super thing slices and then a chef's knife to cut those thing chips into slices. 
Drop them into a bowl of cold water as you cut.

Drain the potatoes and dry them thoroughly with paper towels. Drop the potatoes in batches into the hot oil and cook for 3 to five minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the pot with a wire basket skimmer or slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Place on baking sheet, sprinkle with salt, and keep warm in the oven while you cook the rest of the potatoes {again, I skipped the oven and kept the finished potatoes on the counter because the process didn't take long enough to justify the oven, for me}. 

What Ina says: Sprinkle with parsley, if desired, serve hot.
What I did:  Put all my potatoes into a bowl and drizzled about 1/2 tsp of truffle oil over the potatoes and tossed to coat. 
These were TOO good!

Chocolate and Raspberry Panini Sandwiches
{Stonewall Kitchen Favorites}
What You'll Need:
8 round slices baguette (about 1/4 inch thick) or your favorite bread
2 T unsalted butter, softened
4 heaping T dark chocolate chips or about 2 oz chopped chocolate
1/2 c fresh or frozen and thawed raspberries
What To Do:
Preheat a panini press or indoor grill on high heat. 
Place the baguette slices on a plate and spread a thin layer of butter on each. Turn 4 slices over and divide the chocolate evenly amon the 4 nonbuttered sides. Divide the raspberries over the chocolate and top the remaining slices of bread, butter side-up. Place the sandwiches in the panin press and cook for 2 minutes or until the bread is golden and the chocolate has melted. 
Service immediately.

On another note... 
Hubs surprised me with his creative side and made, you read that right... MADE me a present. It's our anniversary date!
...and I {LOVE} it!
He also took CJ out to buy me a  little something to keep the whole family happy...
...seriously, this purchase was good for everyone! 

What a smart man!

15 February 2011

Sweet Hand-Sewn Elephant

I found this pattern at Bustle & Sew and had to try it.
Normally and project I want to work on takes me into the kitchen or into our office to use the table or sewing machine but with this I was able to just sit on the couch while watching TV with Hubs once the kids were in bed.
I really need to find more projects like that!
{For the gray, I used fleece that I had on hand. Whatever you do needs to be non-fraying. I did the patterned fabric for the ear piece in cotton because I didn't mind a little decorative fray but will most likely put some fray check on it.}

14 February 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!!

I know, I know. I usually don't celebrate this day but this year I figured "what the hey?"
Hope you find a little love today
... meanwhile I'll be cooking dinner for a late night "date-in" with Sweet Hubs.
oo la la

Oh yeah... and to all my dear friends who hate this holiday or just think it's silly... 
This is for you! 

10 February 2011

Take a Trip...

Today I'm sending you over to Passionate Homemaking.
I read her post on 12 Ways to Love Your Hubby Without Saying a Word and it stuck with me.
It's the simple things that count.
Love it!
Have a beautiful weekend! 

Phil Wickham - Beautiful

I've been thinking about my little "ode to Andrew Peterson" I'd shared last week. I realized that, though music is an incredibly large piece of my life, it's not something I've purposely shared with you. Not only do I enjoy just having it on in the background to set the mood, or to dance with my kids in the living room, but I believe it's an incredibly amazing platform to share ideas, feelings, truths... in a way that's easy to relate to. That being said, I wanted to share a couple other songs I've grown to love over the past few months for their simple truths... Enjoy! 

Phil Wickham "Beautiful"
I heard this song for the first time on the radio a few weeks ago. I was in my car, alone, driving home from the store and my self-absorbtion was really striking me. It's amazing how quickly we can become complacent and forget our true purpose as believers. This song was exactly what I needed to hear... 

Matthew West "My Own Little World"

09 February 2011

{Cheddar Corn Chowder}

Cheddar Corn Chowder
{A tiny alteration of Ina Garten} 

What You'll Need:
8 ounces bacon, chopped
1/4 c good olive oil
3 c chopped yellow onions {about 3 medium}
2 T ulsalted butter
1/4 c flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 t black pepper
6 cups chicken stock {little over 2 cans}
3 c medium diced white boiling potatoes
5 c corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1 c half-n-half
4 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
{If you look up the recipe directly from Ina you'll see that I halved most of the ingredients. Even halved, this recipe makes A LOT of soup!}

What To Do:
In a large stockpot, over medium-high heat, cook the bacon and olive oil until the bacon is crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and butter to the fat, and cook for 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent. 
Stir in the flour, salt, pepper and cook for 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and potatoes, bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. If using fresh corn, cut the kernels off the cob and blanch them for 3 minutes in boiling salted water. Drain. (If using frozen corn you can skip this step.) Add the corn to the soup, then add the half-n-half and cheddar. Cook for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot with a garnish of bacon.

08 February 2011

Impromptu Valentines

A story...
Mom took Miss Mak out for an "Oma Outing" this morning leaving CJ and I to fend for ourselves.
We read a couple of books, watched some Sesame Street and then did a little of this...
This is the first time these paints have been pulled out since we bought them for his birthday and it got messy fast.
Once the paint dried I was faced with the question of what to do with these little beauties.
Throwing them away just didn't seem right.
How is that giving due credit to the hard work of my little man?
Then... I had an idea.
Well... to be honest... I then remembered an idea I had seen a few days earlier at Sun Scholars...
Yes! The perfect way to pay homage to sweet boy's hard work AND share the love for Valentine's Day! A thing of beauty!

I must say, I LOVED doing this! It was really quick and since quick = near instant gratification. What's not to love?

07 February 2011

Baby Food {finger foods}

This is not an exhaustive list but rather a few ideas that get us out of the rut of chunks of home canned fruits and veggies...
Baby's Acorn Squash & Apple Bake
What You'll Need:
1 acorn squash
2 or 3 Macintosh apples
pinch of cinnamon

What To Do:
1. Peel and dice apples
2. Cut acorn or butternut squash in half, scoop out seeds
3. Place halves face UP in a pan and add with an inch of water to the pan
4. Place diced apples in the squash “holes” where the seeds were
Sprinkle with cinnamon if desired
5. Pour water over the apples so that there is water in the squash holes – cover pan with tinfoil
6. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes or until the “shell/skin” puckers and halves feel soft. {It took ours a little longer than 40 minutes.}
7. If you're serving as finger foods, you can peel the skins off once they cool and dice the "meat" into small pieces. If you'd prefer to puree it, scoop squash “meat” and apples out of the shell and puree in a food mill, food processor, or blender.

 Fruit Dutch Baby
I love the note tagged to this recipe on the Wholesome Baby Food site...

The only difficult thing about making this is trying to remember DO NOT grab the frying pan out of the oven unless you are wearing oven mits! {I have done this way too many times and leave a pot holder on the handle at all times once it's out of the oven as a reminder!!}

What You'll Need:
1/3 cup butter or margarine
2 medium apples (or try a 1/2 cup peaches, thinly sliced or 1 thinly sliced banana)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 Tablespoons sugar
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup flour

What To Do:
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Put butter into a 3 to 4 quart frying pan and place in oven to melt. While butter is melting, prepare fruits
Remove the pan from the oven and add cinnamon and sugar to the melted butter. Stir in the sliced fruit.
Put pan back into oven for about 3 minutes
 Put the eggs and milk into a blender and blend at high speed for about 1 minute.
Set the blender to low speed and slowly add the flour until well blended.
Remove the pan from oven and pour the egg batter over the butter and fruit.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the pancake is raised and golden brown. The pancake will start off tall in the pan and quickly "fall" as it cools. This is totally normal!
Cut in wedges and dust with powdered sugar.
Serve immediately

This recipe makes enough for 2 adults and 2 very hungry apple loving children.  If you want to make this bigger, then add 1/2 of an apple, 1 Tablespoon sugar, 1 egg, 1/4 cup of milk, 1/4 cup of flour and a little more butter & cinnamon for each additional serving.

Broccoli Nuggets 
What You'll Need:

1 16-oz Package frozen broccoli, cooked, drained, and chopped {I use a potato mashed... you can use a food processor too}
1 cup Seasoned bread crumbs 
1 ½ cups Shredded cheddar cheese
3 Large eggs or 5 egg yolks

What To Do:
Pre-Heat oven to 375
Lightly coat a baking sheet with olive oil or cover with parchment paper and set aside.
Combine all remaining ingredients and mix well. *Add seasonings if you like - garlic powder, pepper, extra basil & oregano for example. Add a fruit or veggie puree to substitute for the eggs if desired.
Shape mixture into nuggets or fun shapes such as squares or squigglies etc..and place on baking tray. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, turn nuggets over after 15 minutes.
Serve warm - Chop or mash these broccoli nuggets if your baby isn't able to handle bigger finger foods.

 Black Bean & Sweet Potato Hash
What You'll Need:
1 large onion, chopped
3 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
1 sweet red pepper, chopped (optional)
4 cups peeled, cubed sweet potatoes (1/2 inch cubes)
2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed or 4 cups dried black beans that have been cooked

What To Do:
In large skillet, saute onion and thyme in oil until onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Add red pepper and sweet potatoes; saute until potatoes begin to soften, about 8 minutes. Stir in beans and cook until potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with pepper.
Serve with Baby Omlettes or as a great finger food "meal" full of protein and iron. Recipe Adapted from the American Dry Bean Board

There are more great recipes on the Wholesome Baby Food site


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