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}

30 June 2011

From "Encouragement for Today": 

"Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom." James 3:13 (NIV)

What seems small in your world? That place where your vision is grand but your reality isn't. Your influence? Your opportunity? Your business? Your ability to give? Your ministry?
Look at that small place and tell me what you see.
Now, might I be so bold as to slip a little note into your world to tell you what I see?
I see the strings of a gift that when appreciated will spill forth as wisdom and understanding you can't get any other way. I see the possibility of James 3:13 churning to break free in your life, "deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom."
I see the place from which humility is birthed. That glorious rare quality that doesn't take too much credit. That knows real success is laced with upward glances, bent knees and whispered praises to the One. The only One.
He who gives.
And He who withholds. Not out of spite, not out of ignorance, not out of deafness, and certainly not out of comparisons where others are found to be more deserving.
No. He withholds out of protection. With more urgent restraint than we'll ever possess, He presses back the big to protect the workings of the small.
The small we should not despise.
The quiet nurturing taking place, the unfolding, the stir beneath where none can see.
Soon, a fork in the soul's path must be chosen. One way to haughtiness. One way to humility.
If that soul has never tasted small, it will detest the humble pallet. And crave big, only big, until it is so full of big that being big inflates and distorts and eventually bursts. All things haughty will eventually be made microscopic.
But for the soul that has tasted small, humility becomes their richest fare. The taste that fits. The thing most desired to be consumed. All things humble will eventually be made great.
Oh the beautiful gift of small.
The delight of knowing what small really is.
Small isn't a belittling of one's calling nor an indication of one's future.
It's a place. A grand unnoticed place. A place to be protected and remembered. A place that keeps all things big in good and right perspective.
Small isn't what keeps us from that grand vision.
Small is what keeps us for that grand vision.
Dear Lord, help me to embrace the small today. I want to see with Your eyes what You have planned for me today. Give me the ability to understand the beautiful gift of small. Thank You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
But for the soul that has tasted small, humility becomes their richest fare. When have you tasted small? Record how it felt in the moment. Then record how you feel about it now. What have you learned? How have you grown?
What seems small in my world? That place where my vision is grand but my reality isn't. My influence? Opportunity? Business? Blog? Ministry? Small isn't a belittling of my calling nor an indication of my future.
Power Verses:
Matthew 19:26, "Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'" (NIV)
Psalm 37:11, "But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace." (NIV)

© 2011 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105

29 June 2011

{Coffee Ice Cream}

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a winner!!!
This recipe is by far my favorite ice cream recipe of the summer!
I realize there's a lot more summer to go but I can say with   99.9% certainty that nothing can trump it! {If you'd like to offer suggestions for contenders, I'm open to try!}
This beauty can be found at The Kitchn. I didn't try the chocolate sauce this time around, I don't think it needed it, but I'll probably give it a shot next time.

For the ice cream
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
4 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
Pinch salt
1 cup strong brewed coffee (or more to taste, depending on strength) {I made mine D.A.R.K.}

For the ice cream, heat milk and heavy cream in a sauce pot over medium heat until just scalded.
Meanwhile beat the egg yolks, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer (you can also use a hand mixer). Slowly add scalded milk mixture until well combined.
Pour the milk mixture back into the sauce pot. Cook over medium-low heat until it thickens and coats the back of the spoon, about 12 - 15 minutes (stirring occasionally at first, then constantly towards the end, watching carefully to make sure the eggs don't scramble).
Remove the ice cream mixture from the heat and stir in the coffee. Allow to cool to room temperature, then freeze according to your ice cream maker's instructions.

For the chocolate sauce:
2 squares unsweetened chocolate squares (preferably Baker's)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/3 cup milk
1 cup sugar
Pinch of salt

For the chocolate sauce, melt chocolate and butter in a small saucepan over low to medium-low heat. Add milk and sugar and cook, stirring frequently, until completely melted.

I should warn you that I am planning to try another version of coffee ice cream soon from Simply Recipes that uses whole coffee beans for its flavor. I'll keep you posted on the outcome. In the meantime, you're in good hands!

28 June 2011

Bean's New Look

The first time I saw these I thought they were silly, unnecessary, and, quite frankly, an excessive excuse to sew.
But then it happened.
While waiting in the deli line one day with my three babies {Bean was only a week old, mind you} a less than perfect stranger began talking to my kids as the older two happily shared a slice of cheese. This is completely normal, especially for those in their golden years. However, this dear soul then proceeded to pick up a piece of cheese that Miss Mak had dropped on the floor, handed it back to her to eat {so gross}, stroked Miss Mak's cheek, and then rubbed CJ's hair and TOLD me, not asked, TOLD me to pull the blanket off Bean so she could see her. Despite my shock and fury, I managed to kindly tell her "No thanks, she's sleeping".
I immediately knew that I would be whipping up one of these for Bean.
... And don't think I haven't considered making veils for the older two. {I suddenly find myself thinking that MJ wasn't so crazy with Blanket.}

I found this super simple tutorial from Cluck, Cluck, Sew...
and with some fabric from my stash, this is what I ended up with.

WARNING: The person who reaches into this cover without parental consent will be pulling back a nub for an arm. 
{I'm just sayin'}

27 June 2011

{Summer Salads}

There are few things as good as all the fresh fruits and veggies you can grow and buy {inexpensively} during the warm summer months. Hubs loves grabbing ripened tomatos or green peppers off the vine and eating them like apples.  I'm a cucumber and summer squash fan myself. However you like them, there's plenty of ways to enjoy your fresh pick'ns. These are a couple of our favorites.
First Up...
Garden Veggie Mix
This salad tastes like summer to me and it's can't be better than when you can pull the veggies for it straight out of your garden! 
Depending on how many mouths your feeding, cut up two large tomatoes and one cucumber. Mix with just enough Italian style salad dressing to coat but not drown the veggies, chill for an hour and serve.

Fruit Salad
Nothing fancy about it. We just happen to have a few favorite items in our fruit salads... cantaloupe, honey dew melon, watermelon, and halved grapes. Sometimes, when feeling frisky, we add in blueberries, strawberries {only when I know it will be eaten quickly, I don't like how strawberries get soggy}, small chunk pineapple, nectarines, pears, and apples.

What about you? Any simple salad mixes that scream summer to your family?

Happy Monday!

OH! And by the way, Bean is doing great! We brought her to the hospital last week because she was running a low grade fever. She had several tests done and they all came back negative so we're assuming it's just a cold she got from CJ. Thank you for all your prayers! They may have done more for my peace of mind then for Bean and for that, I can't thank you enough.

23 June 2011

Things I Thought on the Way to the ER

Yesterday morning, The Bean woke me up to eat around 1. I noticed she was a bit stuffy but nothing crazy. Miss Mak had boogies that was attributed to the minor acid reflux she had as a tiny one so I didn't think much of it. Until...
4:00 a.m. I woke to her cry and when I picked her up she felt hot. The A/C was running in our room and she had a microfiber blanket over her so I knew she could be just warm to the touch but a thermometer confirmed that my six week old was running a low grade fever of 100.4.

As always, I immediately flipped on our light and pulled out my personal medical reference guide "How to Raise  a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor" by Dr. Robert Mendelsohn where I remembered reading that

"if your child is less than two months of age, and his temperature exceeds 100 degrees, call your doctor. The fever may be a symptom of an infection that is prenatal in origin or related to the delivery of the baby. Fevers in newborn infants are so uncommon that simple prudence and your peace of mind make a visit to the doctor worthwhile, even though it may prove to be unnecessary." 

Wait! The Robert S. Mendelsohn, M.D., who says that fevers in kids over the 2 month mark can reach 106 before you need to put a call in to the doctor, says that our Bean, with her 100.4 temperature, should cause some action. You bet I began to get nervous. So I called the pediatrician who said it was reason to worry and to head to the hospital, woke Hubs to tell him I was taking her, got dressed in the nearest sweats, headed to the bathroom to brush my hair, and had the beginnings of a meltdown as I looked in the mirror and thought of the millions of things that could be wrong with our little love and concluded that they would all result in death. 
Ask anyone who knows me well, I'm not a nervous person. I tend to keep my cool in high pressure situations. Not this time.
Thankfully, Hubs and I made an agreement years ago that only one of us was allowed to panic at a time. When he has a rough time with something, it's my job to remain calm, be rational, and get the job done. This was a day he needed to take care of me.
I'm not sure why it didn't occur to me sooner, and I'm not sure what it says of my feelings of obligation as a mother, but I concluded that I needed Hubs to go to the hospital with me. I couldn't go into that kind of uncertainty alone. So we called my sister-in-law and she came and stayed with Mak and CJ while we headed to the hospital.
That 30 minute drive gave me plenty of time to think. 
Not necessarily a good thing. Not necessarily a bad thing.

Here's a little of my inner monologue...
- God is in control and knows exactly where we are and what's going on with Bean. 
- He knows, and even planned, the outcome of all this. 
- The nearby children's hospital is the best around. 
- CJ has a cold. Maybe it's that. 
- CJ is never playing near Caden again. 
- Caden Joy is not mine. She is a gift. She is on loan. God can give and take away and still be good. 
- It's time to put my money where my mouth is. I often tell people who are struggling that God knows my situation and has the  best in store for me. Now I have to apply it to my own worry. 
- Does this mean cancelling vacation?
- What is the Lord trying to teach me right now.
- I wish I was driving this car.
- I don't know if I remember how to get to the hospital.
- Is she still breathing back there?
- Was that a hiccup or did she spit-up? Or throw up? What does that mean?
- Her diaper smelt like garlic yesterday. Does that mean something?
- I ate those cookies yesterday which means she got it when I nursed her. Did that do it?
- Did I just overdress her?
- I need to get that blanket off her now. I'm probably making her too hot.
- Lord, please don't take her from me.
- She's so small. So frail. So helpless.
- I now have a better appreciation of what perfection is because I now understand some of the imperfections of the human body.
- Stupid Adam and Eve!
- I love my family of five...

and on and on and on...
I realized that though my kiddos may drive me bonkers sometimes and I may contemplate selling them to the gypsies, if you threaten my babies in any way, you will lose and if there is any serious threat to their health, I will fear the worst, no matter how irrationally, and may just fall apart a little.

{Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream}

Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream
This recipe is of my favorite ice cream recipes I've tried so far this summer...
Below is my adaptation of recipes I found at Yum-O-Rama and basically all other blueberry ice cream recipes out there.
The end result was smooth, creamy, rich, and thick.
I'll be making this again!

What You'll Need:
1 - 1 1/2 c blueberries, fresh or frozen 
1/2 c half & half
2/3 c sugar
1 egg

1 T lemon juice
1 "block" of spreadable cream cheese, softened
1 c whipping cream

What To Do:
In a medium bowl, using a potato masher, or heavy spoon, crush the blueberries until about half of them are broken but some whole berries remain. Set aside.

In a small bowl, beat together sugar and egg. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat the half and half over medium-low heat until tiny bubbles start to form. Temper the egg mixture by adding a couple tablespoons of the hot cream to the egg, and mixing until incorporated. Slowly add the remaining hot cream and mix until uniform.

Return the mixture to the small saucepan, and heat over medium-low heat until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Add the lemon juice and crushed berries to the mixture and still until incorporated. Transfer to refrigerator for an hour to cool. {If you're in a rush, you can pour this mixture into a 9x13 baking dish and stick it in the freezer until it's chilled.}

Once cooled, beat the softened cream cheese in a food mixer until fluffy. Mix in cooled custard mixture. Mix in whipping cream. (Mixture will be lumpy.)

Pour mixture into ice cream machine.  Process according to machine manufacturer instructions. Transfer to a suitable ice cream tub, and freeze overnight... AFTER you take a heaping spoonful for taste testing of course!


21 June 2011

Green Smoothies

Miss Mak won't eat her greens.
She loves most fruit, dairy, fish, and poultry but won't touch veggies
...until now!
I can't remember where I first heard the idea of sneaking spinach into smoothies but I thought I'd give it a try.
We put over one and a half cups into each batch and can't taste it at all!

I guess you could say this is my "new favorite" and I HIGHLY recommend you throwing a fist-full of greens into your next morning breakfast smoothie, especially if your little ones don't like their veggies either.

Our current favorites...

Strawberry Orange
1 cup Stonyfields Whole Milk French Vanilla Yogurt
1 cup of fresh strawberries {frozen will work}
1 heaping tablespoon of orange juice frozen concentrate
1/2 cup of milk
1 1/2 cups fresh, raw, organic spinach

Apple and Banana
1 banana broken up into pieces
1/2 an apple, with skins on
1 cup fresh or frozen grapes
1 cup Stonyfields Whole Milk French Vanilla Yogurt
1 1/2 cups fresh, raw, organic spinach
1/2 cup milk

I've heard about Jessica Seinfeld's cook Deceptively Delicious which is about sneaking veggies and other healthy stuff into stuff your kids will eat. Do you have it? Have you tried it? Do you have any thoughts on it?

20 June 2011

Beach Towel Beach Bag

We're off to the beach today. The first time in ... um...uh...  
Obviously WAY too long!
This will be the kids' first time seeing the ocean.
I imagine that my sweet, timid CJ is going to be petrified.
At least he can go in style, right!
 I started with one beach towel {from Target for $5.99} that was 30" x 60". I washed it {optional} which shrunk it down to 28" x 56" and then cut it in half so that I had two 28" x 28" squares which meant that with one towel I could end up with two bags. {Two beach bags for $3 each!}
I then folded the squares in half "inside-out" and pinned the edges to keep the fabric from shifting as I drew a deep U-shape. I then stitched the open side of the bag and bottom to create a giant pocket and before removing the pins, I cut the deep U-shape out. I saved the fabric for a little later.
For CJ, I opened the bag, matched the handles and stitched across the top to create one shoulder strap.
For Mak, whose body is about as long as this bag, I hemmed the ends of the handles and tied them in a knot to create a shorter bag. {I can always untie and stitch them later.}
I could have stopped here but the fabric unraveled more than I liked so I rolled the edges.On the first bag, I rolled it only once but ended up with lots of visible frayed ends. With the second, I double rolled the edges and ended up with a MUCH cleaner, thicker edge.
Since my kids keep water bottles with them at all times I wanted a pocket on the outside so they could have easy access to their drinks quickly. For this, I used that U-shaped piece I cut out earlier. I simply cut the shape into a rectangle, hemmed all four sides and stitched it to one side of each bag.
And that's it! 

Stay cool!

{Homemade Nutella... he hem... Hazelnut Spread}

Good Morning. Afternoon? ... Evening?
{well, that should about cover it}
To be honest, I've never been a huge lover of Nutella hazelnut spread. When I was in France I had it on crepes made on a street cart on streets Paris and those were acceptable. 
Okay, they were actually delicious! 
Beyond that experience though, I don't really enjoy the stuff. I can't tell you why. Sorry. 
So why am I posting this, you ask? 
Because I have kids. And they like it. And I'm running low on ideas for feeding them.
That's all.
{To be fair to this recipe, it's tastes just like the original. It melts in your mouth. So yes, it's good.}
This is for you Tori...
I found this recipe and adapted it from Smitten Kitchen. I changed it up a tiny bit because I didn't have peanuts but I did have hazelnuts. {Go figure.} I'm pretty sure this would be amazing with peanuts though. 

What You'll Need:
2 cups of hazelnuts {purchased at Whole Foods}
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 c powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt or more to taste
4 T coconut oil

What To Do:
Set your oven to 350. Spread the hazelnuts out on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes until the skins begin to crack. Let the nuts cool a little. 
Remove as much of the bitter skin as you are able. I had great success with rubbing handfuls of nuts between my hands.
In a food processor, blend the nuts for 5 minutes until they liquify...
 not there yet... 
still not there... 
You'll actually hear it sound like liquid is sloshing around in there though it will look just like creamy peanut butter. 
Now, add in the cocoa, sugar, salt and 2 tablespoons of oil. Add more as needed to get the consistency you'd like. I ended up using closer to 4 tablespoons for mine. 
Ta Da! 

OH! I meant to add that this was a comparison trial. I also made the recipe found on the Tasty Kitchen's Blog on The Pioneer Woman
I don't know if I did something terribly wrong but this is what I got...
It looked like coffee grounds and tastes ... um... not good. 
So, that's that.

17 June 2011

Catching Up

Life in these parts has been grand!
We've had hot days.

We've had cold days.

It's a veritable smorgasbord of weather around here!
We lost a tree in our front yard. NOT a product of the tornadic winds from a couple weeks back. No, this bad boy lost a big limb the day after as gentle breezes blew.
Hubs says our tree finally gave into the peer pressure.
As for the kiddos...
It has become more and more clear that CJ is a boy through and through.

He is a huge fan of all the equipment that has been in our yard lately.
He and Hubs have been taking daily strolls to walk around the equipment parked here at night to kick the tires a little.
Maybe that's why he and Opa are such great buddies these days.
Opa is always doing something with equipment.

or maybe it has something to do with Opa teaching him how to pee in the garden.
Now CJ pees on everything.
I wish I was kidding.
Thanks, Dad.

Mak is walking like it's her job! I've always known she was my kid but she even rushes around like I do.
And she shakes her little booty as she goes {I'm hoping that's not a trait she got from me} but, either way, I LOVE IT!
She is a girly girl! It's hard to believe she's mine!
 She loves jewely, chocolate, and shoes!

 Mak has to be the most fun 17 month old I've ever met! She makes us laugh all the time!
And then there's Bean...  

Bean slept for 6 whole hours the other night! I cannot tell you the excitement this brings me!

Mak and CJ didn't sleep through the night until they were four-ish months old. Bean is five weeks today!
Good heavens! Five weeks already!
I feel like she's so big already!
... and NO, I am NOT ready for another. We may be a crazy but we're not THAT crazy!
Plus, Hubs says we're done.
We'll see about that.


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