My Fab Fam

My Fab Fam
Photo by Thousand Hills Photography. Click on photo to visit their site.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Re-reading the Past

Last night I got on here to finish up a post I started yesterday morning and I found myself just reading back through some old posts. I loved seeing the pix of the girls from two years ago, reading about the fun things they've done, and even reading about our struggles.


Some of the posts had me in stitches. Others had me in tears. Real life here.



The last post I read (and it was the last simply because I HAD to go through some papers, or I probably would have kept reliving the past until my eyes fell asleep) was about standing, just getting up in Jesus and standing victorious over the enemy, "...and after you have done everything, to stand."



I loved it so much, I'm re-posting now.


(A few flash-back pictures for you too.)


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Rise and Shine and Give God the Glory, Glory

We sing this song a lot at our house.  Early mornings, as we all now know, are a little rough around here.  However, if I remember, I still push this song out of my mouth in the mornings, and before I know it, it's coming from my heart too.

Big girl sings along, but baby girl usually just watches us with a very serious look on her face, like she is above singing children's songs.  Above singing any songs.  Above learning anything by rote.  Above learning anything new.  In short, she just doesn't seem eager to learn, so I wonder if she's learning anything at all.  But then I get these glimpses of intellect that amaze me and I realize she is a little sponge.  She may not be trying to learn anything new, but her mind is absorbing the watery world around her because she is immersed in it and that is what sponges do.

So, today I took a nap with the girls.  We all slept for two hours.  The girls woke up first and came to my room to ask me when I was getting up.  I said, "In a minute," then I woke with a start.  Yes, in that order.  I thought it was morning and I had over-slept and I looked over in the bed to find that my man was already gone!  Impossible!  I would have heard him.  Heart beats slowed:  it's not morning.  But then, OH!  It's afternoon!  And how long did I sleep?  How late in the afternoon?!  Grabbed the phone.  4 o'clock.  We went down at 2.  Okay.  It's not as bad as I thought.  Have they been up long?  No, they just got up, they said.  Okay, I've not been an awful, negligent mommy.

But waking up in this whirlwind of adrenaline exhausted me.  I laid the phone down and relaxed back on the pillow for a minute.  I told the girls to potty in order to buy myself a few minutes to let my heart resume its normal pace.

And then Satan began.  Why doesn't he give me ten minutes of peace before he starts his attacks?  The guilty thoughts started, popping up in rapid succession.  No, not succession.  Popping up before the previous one had a chance to sit down...

I shouldn't have taken a nap...now what I am I going to fix for supper...I don't have anything that cooks quickly...the house is a mess...I should have done laundry...I have all those flowers to plant...why am I always so tired...the joy of the Lord is my strength...but I'm legitimately tired...I haven't had quiet time today...ugh...I should have gotten up earlier this morning to have my quiet time...at least then I could justify a nap...my man would probably like a nap...I hope he doesn't walk in right now and find me in bed at 4 o'clock...I've gotta get up...I need quiet time...I need to have an attitude of gratitude...I need counseling...

...would you all just SIT DOWN!!!!!!!

I started praying.  And, as I started praying, I realized, once again, that Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor.  As He was working me through my guilt list, I heard baby girl "reading" books in the hallway.  Even with her complete lack of interest in any organized learning activities, she still has an excellent imagination.  She will sit down with books and make up pretty amazing stories.

I knew from the bits and pieces I was hearing she was looking at a butterfly book that had been laying in the hallway all day, along with various other articles.  Then I heard, "The butterfly flaps its wings and gives God the glory, glory, glory.  Rise and Shine..."

And I was grateful.  Grateful that something good had been absorbed by her spongy little brain.  Grateful for God's reassurance that something good had come from me.  Grateful to God for using baby girl to unwittingly remind me to rise and shine and give God the glory.  And I rose.  Those thoughts sat down and I stood up.

Me.  Standing.  That is nothing short of a miracle.  In this overwhelming situation we find ourselves in, called life, we stand.  And every time we do, we are to give God the glory for getting us on our feet and holding us upright.  Apart from Him we can do nothing.  But THROUGH Him we can do all things!  And we stand.

And I was reminded of Beth Moore's blog I had just read earlier today...

I pray you are standing strong with the Shield of Faith in one hand and the Sword of the Spirit in the other.  Isaiah 7:9b (NIV) has been on my radar often lately:
If you do not stand firm in your faith,
you will not stand at all.
Then, Romans 14:4 right on top of it:  To his own master he stands or falls.  And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
Amen to that.
And this phrase out of Ephesians 6:13 – STAND YOUR GROUND.
Keeping our faith in the driver’s seat of our faithfulness, Christ’s own Spirit breathing through us, we CAN do this in His great Name. May He make Himself so obvious to us today. Then may He make Himself so obvious to someone else through us today.
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Spinach Salad and Soul Food

Today I am babysitting a friend's twins. After breakfast, dipe changes, playtime, and bottles, they are both asleep.

Eleven hours later
...and that is all I was able to type before one woke up. Hmmm. How does a momma of twins do it?!

So, what I started to say way back in the wee hours of this morning was this:

I made a salad last night that was so very good, but I seriously only make this dressing like once every 5 years because, well, it's bacon grease. Yeah. And the Mr's cholesterol isn't exactly a care-free matter, nor will mine be if we eat this salad all the time.

Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing

Basically, my version is, you fry up the bacon (I scramble it all at once for quicker cooking), crumble the bacon, boil some eggs, and slice some mushrooms. Toss all that yumminess in a bowl with spinach, then add the dressing and toss to coat.

Dressing:
In a small pot, combine:
3 T. bacon grease
3 T. red wine vinegar (I will add more next time; I like more taste twang.)
1 t. sugar
1/2 t. Dijon mustard
salt
pepper
Whisk together.

For those of you who have read my earlier posts this week and know that Tuesday night's sup was supposed to be "left-over French onion soup," well, it was. I just made salad to go with it.

And, while we are on the subject of food, let's talk soul food. Not like "Saul Good" soul food, Louisiana cookin' soul food, thought that's good too, but soul food, like food for the spirit soul food, Bread of Life soul food.

Here's what I was feeding my soul this morning:



I have hardly begun it and I love it. If you're looking for a good book, I suggest this one. Go feed yo-self, girlfriend!

Monday, October 20, 2014

On the Menu

Reality check.

So, I realize that my blog has become all about food lately, and let's just state the obvious: food is a priority in my life. We have to eat to live and I want to eat as healthy as I can, and I want my family to eat as healthy as we can. But I've come to realize from several convos I've had with friends and family lately that there is a perception out there that I am cooking wholesome, healthy meals, like every night. In this case, perception is NOT reality.

Let me try to paint a real picture: I am a walking contradiction, sometimes freaking out over my food and sometimes throwing my hands up in defeat as I pull in a drive-thru and sometimes just saying, "I don't even care," as I buy chocolate donuts. I want to eat food the way God created it, unaltered and without additives but...life is busy and sometimes whole foods just take too long...whole foods are expensive unless you grow and make them all yourself and then that's time consuming...I've tasted some of the empty calories and they taste so, so good, i.e. Entenmann's chocolate donuts. I do the best I can, but I am far from eating clean 100% of the time.

I don't freak out over real sugar or real fat (butter, clean oils), because they are natural products, but I do have to watch them because the Mr's cholesterol is on the verge of being high. However, I do try to avoid MSG, preservatives, saturated fats, GMO's, artificial colors and flavors, and any other weird ingredients. Does that mean we never eat them? No. A very big, loud no. But I try to cook clean for supper and weekend meals. Breakfast and lunch is just whatever I can do with a semi-clear conscience. We do eat out some. And we can pretty much be relied upon for having pizza once every week or two.

Honestly, on weekdays we do well to get breakfast in bellies before getting to school, and most of it is eaten in the car on the way. It's usually a Kashi bar or Nature's Path version of a Pop-tart. I try to make my own granola, granola bars, and bread to use for toast, but that only happens maybe half the time. Lunch is usually a mix of any of the following: fruit (fresh or dried), some type of veggie (cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks, etc.), nuts, cheese, hummus, Sunbutter, and crackers (I prefer rice crackers, but will use others that don't have weird ingredients).

I know from all the convos I have with you all out there that I am super blessed to have a family that will eat left-overs. The Mr doesn't love them more than once, but even he can be persuaded to eat the same meal up to three times if I can find a way to vary it just a little each time. So, when I tell you all on here about the fun foods I might be making, don't think it happens every day. N to the O. I am notorious for fixing a meal that can be eaten for at least two or three days. Sometimes, if it's a recipe the Mr doesn't love, the girls and I will eat it for lunch. But the point is, momma ain't cooking every night. Noooo. Here's a quick glance at some weekly menus.

Last week's menu...

Monday:
cooked pot of black beans to use in Monday's supper:  Spicy Spaghetti Squash (recipe here)

Tuesday:
left-over Spicy Spaghetti Squash

Wednesday:
More of Monday's black beans with cheese and sour cream and roasted sweet potato fries

Thursday:
A friend gave us some ribs and salad; I re-heated Wednesday's sweet potato fries to go with, and I made black bean brownies with the last of the beans. My man does not eat those.

Friday:
We ordered pizza.

Saturday:
Spaghetti (a box and a jar) and re-heated frozen rolls


On the menu for this week...

Sunday:
We were all sick and stayed home from church so I got to fix breakfast, which almost never happens. We had homemade pancakes (recipe below) and scrambled eggs for breakfast,
Sonic BLT's for lunch, and
Jamaican pork tenderloin for sup (recipe found here)

Monday:
The girls are home sick from school, so we are eating the left-over pork for lunch, and for sup:  French Onion Soup (recipe found here)

Here's the plan for the rest of the week...

Tuesday:
left-over French Onion Soup

Wednesday:
Veggie Omelettes (just eggs, milk, veggies, cheddar) and toast

Thursday:
Chicken enchiladas (I was going to make Sunday, but didn't have everything I needed; so, I'm making them later this week. Recipe found here.)

Friday:
left-over Chicken enchiladas or something fast (...because it's Friday and who cooks on Friday? Maybe I'll have a date night with the Mr.)

Saturday:
Veggie soup (just throwing things in a pot)

Sunday:
Left-over veggie soup

See? It really isn't that exciting in my kitchen. I do love to cook. I do try to cook healthy. But I'm not cooking every night of the week. And we do love our pizza. Oh! And Entenmann's chocolate donuts. I know, I know, loaded with nasty stuff. Let's not talk about it; I'm not willing to give those things up. Yet.

I thank God for the garden goodies frozen in my garage freezer, for organic farmers who make up for my incompetence as a gardener, for conscientious food suppliers like Kashi, Cascadian Farms, and Nature's Path, for the times I get to make clean meals, and for the way whole foods taste and fill us up. But I also thank Him for the empty-calorie-tastiness of Entenmann's chocolate donuts. In heaven, they will be good for us.

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Attitude of Gratitude, because it's been a year since I actually listed things at the end of a post. Wow. A year.

#291. Fall weather
292. windows open
293. bread rising
294. time with a friend
295. time at home
296. my girls home with me today
297. an amazingly patient man
298. items checked off my to-do list
299. scones I didn't have to make, and
300. Just this, our chalkboard door getting filled up with verses baby girl is learning in preK, one for every letter of the alphabet. And that is a door at the bottom of the door, drawn by baby girl herself.




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Homemade pancakes:

1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
3 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 T. sugar
1 1/2 c. milk (or add until you get the consistency you desire)
1 egg
3 T. butter, melted

Mix all. Let rest a minute while skillet heats. Cook in a buttered iron skillet over med-low heat. Serve with real maple syrup.




Sunday, October 19, 2014

Chicken Enchiladas (Sauce, Salsa, and Tortillas)

So, I'm about to make chicken enchiladas with some left-over roasted chicken and I got on here, my blog, to look up the recipe I always use to make the sauce and lo! The recipe is not on my blog! I'm happy to report I had bookmarked it in my browser. Whew! So, I'm copying it below so I don't have to sweat it again next time I need it. =)

Easy Enchilada Sauce

2 T. veg oil
2 T. flour
2 T. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, or to taste
2 c. water
1 (8 oz) can tomato paste
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. salt

Heat the oil, flour, and chili powder together in a small pot. Allow to cook for about a minute. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a slow simmer. Stir well to combine and dissolve tomato paste in water. Allow to cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

I double the batch and freeze into the portion size needed to make my enchiladas. One time making sauce for about four batches of enchiladas. Boom!

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As for the enchiladas...

Make Jami Nato's whole wheat flour tortillas (found below).
Make salsa (my recipe is below) or use a jar of your fave.
Pour a thin layer of salsa on the bottom of a 9x13 pan.
Fill tortillas with chicken, salsa, and cheese.
Lay filled and rolled tortillas side by side in the pan.
Cover with enchilada sauce and more cheese.
Bake 15-20 mins at 375 degrees.
Devour.

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Jami Nato's Whole Wheat Flour Tortillas:

Ingredients
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup oil (such as grape seed oil, canola oil)
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons boiling water

Directions

1. In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, and salt. Using your hands, work the oil into the flour mixture until evenly distributed. Pour in hot water and continue to mix with your hands until mixture comes together, ¼ cup at a time, adding additional hot water as needed. Knead the mixture in the bowl or on the countertop by hand until smooth. The dough should be damp, soft and relaxed. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rest at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour. 

2. Divide the dough into 10 golf ball size pieces, about 1 ¼-inch. Roll each piece into a lightly floured surface into a 6-inch round using a rolling pin.

3. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Cook a rolled tortilla in hot skillet until the bubbles begin to appear on the surface, then flip tortilla to opposite side and cook until golden brown spots start to appear on bottom. Immediately transfer cooked tortilla to tortilla server or a baking sheet and cover with a tea towel. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Serve hot.

These can be stored in the frig for about a week or the freezer for much longer. Again, I usually double the batch and freeze some.

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And here are some salsa ideas...

My sister-in-law came up with this one. Everyone in my family makes it a little differently. Play with the ratios til you come up with just the right taste for you.

1 can of stewed tomatoes
drop of garlic juice
about a teaspoon of sugar
splash of vinegar
a couple of tablespoons pickled jalapenos
salt and pepper to taste
Blend in blender to preferred consistency.

If I have fresh ingredients, I prefer them. This is my fave quick salsa:

1 can stewed tomatoes
2-3 garlic cloves
about 1/4 of a small onion
a LOT of cilantro =)
cayenne, or any pepper of your choice
sugar
salt
pepper

Blend...then practice self-restraint:  try not to eat the whole batch by yourself.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Black Beans...WHAT??

I made brownies. Black bean brownies. Again. Only this time I can not taste the black beans - at all! For reals. I know some of you skeptics won't believe me, but really. My eldest claimed she could taste them but I think it's because she knew they were in there. A friend that tried them said she couldn't taste them at all. The only problem with these brownies is I didn't grind my coffee long enough; so, the texture isn't smooth but has a little grit to it. I know, not so awesome - but the flavor is! And I'm getting fiber and Omega-3's while satisfying my never-ending chocolate craving. Win-win!

So, here's what I used:

approx 1 1/2 c. black beans (I used some of the cooked beans I had left-over from the spicy spaghetti squash.)
2 T. flax seed
3 eggs
1/2 c. oil
1/2 c. cocoa
1 c. raw sugar
1 T. coffee (Be sure it's finely ground!)
1 T. vanilla extract
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
approx 1/2 c. mini choc chips
approx 1/2 c. white choc. chips

I mixed all the dry ingredients in the Ninja. Then poured all the wet ingredients in and mixed until smooth. Poured in muffin tin and baked about 25 mins (or less) at 350 degrees.

Uh, one more thing: I WILL use muffin liners next time.