Friday, March 29, 2013

Throwing lunch together

Y'all...right after I posted about Janet's Planet, my family...all but me...had a really rough virus.  I don't think our family has ever experienced my husband, my oldest son, and my daughter all sick on the same night.  Our littlest son had it the day before.  So I had a couple of days of almost no sleep and the kind of clean up that no mom ever wishes on anyone.  Needless to say, that weekend was pretty much wiped out and starting last Monday, little guy started not feeling well again and ran a fever for almost 3 days.  He hasn't been sleeping well, either. 

Eating has been in survival mode.  I haven't even been able to do my major grocery trip during these two weeks (I try to do one big trip every two weeks and stock up).  I had a quick run through with all three kids and wasn't able to even get our normal produce.  PB and J's, ham sandwiches, cereal, and me trying to throw together meals with the things I had in the pantry is how it's been.  BUT...I have been using our soy-free peanut butter, our nitrate and nitrite free ham, our "Simply Truth" chicken, and I even made a whole wheat, homemade chicken pot pie crust the other day...I'm just going to call it "rustic" and leave it at that.  It was edible.  I think Joe and I were so hungry, we didn't complain and just polished it off over the course of a few days.  The kids had to be practically forced to take a bite.  I have added a few things that were not as good for us, and trip to KFC to satisfy my chicken craving (I know...not good), but I think given the circumstances we've done fairly well. 

Yesterday I was trying to come up with something new to do with some chicken I had thawed.  I thought, "Hey, I'll use those wonton wrappers I have left over!"  I made my chicken, cut up and cooked in a pan with some olive oil, onion, and garlic.  Then I added some sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese and stirred it all up in a bowl.  Filling ready, I started putting my wonton wrappers in my mini muffin pan.  Well, towards the end of the stack, I noticed some lovely white mold.  Yay.  Lunch plans destroyed.  Now what was I going to do with this filling?!  I racked my brain to try and think of something.  I thought...tacos.  Just do tacos.  We were lacking an essential taco element...tortillas.  So I bust out my handy recipe book that I knew had a whole wheat, homemade tortilla recipe in it that I used when I was in Thailand.  It was a little work, and it did involve Crisco, but the overall result was tasty!  If you want a Crisco free recipe, here is a link to my blog post about healthy eating...complete with a link to 100 Days of Real Food's whole wheat tortilla recipe.  I love 100 Days' recipes, but I don't always have some of the equipment they use...I have a hand mixer and a blender so I have to get creative on these "fancy" recipes (lol).  Here is the recipe I used:
Homemade Tortillas
2 cups flour (I used King Arthur's white wheat)
3 tbsp shortening (this is where the Crisco comes in)
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup water (add it last)

Mix first three ingredients together.  Make and indentation about the size of an egg and put water in.  Work in gradually (I did it with my hands).  After this, I tried to pinch off about a small handful of the dough and roll it as best I could into a ball.  Then put it on a floured surface and rolled it out as thin as I could.  Cook about 1 min. in a pan per side.  No oil.

I think I made about 6 or 7 with this recipe.  One looked just like a real tortilla.  The others were a little thick.  I think the thinner you can get it, the better.  But all of them were tasty and hearty.  I put our leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge and we reheated them the next day and finished them off.

If you're interested in my original wonton idea, here is the link to that.  Those things are SO good, easy, and you can basically adapt it to whatever you like. 

Happy eating!
And a blessed Easter to all of you!  We will be celebrating the risen Jesus that day!  God bless~

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Exploring Microgravity with Janet's Planet...and giveaway!!

*And the winner is....Amy!!  Congratulations!*

Janet's Planet “Exploring Microgravity” winner of a Regional Emmy Award, a Gracie Allen Award and a STEMFlorida Award, is a 37-minute exploration of gravity and microgravity. Not only is it fun to watch, it's highly educational and geared towards elementary school age kids!
By focusing on science, technology, engineering, art and math, Janet's Planet travels at the "speed of thought" and is designed to fuel S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics). Gravity’s phenomena and effects are explained and the audience gets to meet Galileo, Newton and Cavendish and find out how they built on the ideas of scientists before them and formed a shared picture of how the universe works! You’ll also get a chance to see Janet onboard the Zero G plane experiencing microgravity!
Also, for any teachers out there, Exploring Microgravity is supported with integrated curriculum and teachers are provided with a lesson plan designed to integrate with Common Core standards, based on a curriculum endorsed by NASA and Space Florida.

I popped in my copy of this educational video this afternoon and honestly...I thought it was great!  As a homeschooling Mom, I'm always looking for new and creative ways to present information to my little ones.  Now, I will say that my oldest is only 6, so parts of this were a little over her head.  But as I was watching, my 4 year old came over, sat on the couch, and started watching it with me.  It was entertaining, had some humor, and the information was presented in an interesting, understandable way.  Throughout the video, Janet would go back and review the information.  She also had kids explain what they understood about the information.  I really enjoyed the real-life footage of an experiment that some astronauts did while they were on the moon as well as Janet's experience on the Zero G plane.  Even though my kids were a little young for this, I found that I learned something new.  By the end of the video I could totally understand what microgravity was and could explain it.  I think this video would be perfect for upper elementary through high school.  Be sure to stop by and check out the Janet's Planet site. I briefly scanned it and it looks informative, interactive, and fun : ).

If you'd like to have a copy of this video, please come by and comment!  Tell me what your favorite subject in school was.  Mine was Social Studies : ).  We'll announce the winner on Sunday night!

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Monday, March 18, 2013

Chocolate Cake Love

My baby turned one on Saturday. I'm not sure how I feel about this. I was thinking the other day how challenging that first baby year can be. So I'm kind of thankful that we're passing from that phase to a new one. But my baby is one. I'm afraid I'm not quite ready to stop thinking of him as a baby.
Here's the birthday cake!  I had a lot of fun making it.  I did a forest/woodland animals theme and it was so much fun to see all the great ideas on Pinterest.  I came up with the cake design myself, but I decided to make a new whole wheat chocolate cake recipe from 100 Days of Real Food blog.  I think I posted a link to the recipe not too long ago, but I thought I'd go ahead and type it out for you guys.  Y'all..I wasn't sure how good it would be...but this was GOOD!  Everyone liked it.  I must put out a disclaimer, though....I didn't use a healthy icing.  I still used my Wilton's buttercream recipe...just because I've done it so many times and I knew it was good.  I just didn't have the energy to try two new recipes.  I don't know if that affected the goodness of the cake...because I really think the cake would've been good regardless.  I also didn't use organic sugar for the cake or icing.  Here's the recipe:

Whole-wheat Chocolate Cake
Serves: 14-16 generous servings (we had a lot of cake!)
Recipe adapted from Williams Sonoma
1 cup whole wheat flour (I used the King Arthur's white wheat)
1 cup all purpose white flour (or can sub whole-wheat flour), organic recommended (I used the regular white flour)
1/2 cup unsweetened "dark" cocoa powder (I just used the Hershey's cocoa)
4 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 cup sugar, organic recommended
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups water
2 eggs, organic recommended (I used some straight from the farm! Yay!)
2/3 cup oil (I used coconut oil)
2 tablespoons vanilla (I don't know if this is a typo or not, but my little bottle of real vanilla would've all been gone if I used this much!  I just used 1 tablespoon : ).  Two seemed like a lot!)
butter for greasing pans (I used a little crisco and then sprinked with flour/cocoa powder)

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Generously grease two 9-inch round cake pans (I did two different sized pans) or other sized baking dish. 
2.  In a large bowl whisk together dry ingredients including flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
3.  Make a well (hole) in the middle of the dry ingredients and drop in the water, eggs, oil, and vanilla.  Mix by hand with whisk until well blended.
4.  Distribute batter evenly into the two cake pans and bake for 18-20 mins or until a toothpick inserted into center comes clean.  Let cool before adding frosting.
 If you don't take my word for it...just look at this little guy!  : )  He loved his cake. 
I just had to throw a pic of these in, too.  They were a huge hit and SO easy to do!  I saw this on Pinterest, too.  They are called "acorns" and are basically a mini vanilla wafer and a hershey kiss put together with a little icing.  Then I put a little dot of icing on the top.  These are definitely not soy free!  So as you can tell I sort of messed up on my eating over the weekend and the scales showed this morning.  Plus I've felt kind of yucky since I've been eating some junk.  It's actually good to see my body responding in bad way because I know why...and I'm motivated to go back to the way we were eating.  But...I still had fun celebrating and fellowshipping with family.  Hope you enjoy the recipe!
God bless~

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Seth's smiles

I really think I have the smiliest baby.
 When he sees the camera he actually stops, poses, and smiles....almost every time : ).
 Today is my smiley boy's first birthday.
 We're so thankful for the life of this little guy!
Happy birthday, Seth!  We love you!!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Reviewer's bookshelf: Shattered by Dani Pettrey

*I received this book for free from Bethany House publishers to give an unbiased review*

"Shattered" is book 2 in the Alaskan Courage series by Dani Pettrey.  The book begins with the murder of competitive snow boarder, Karli.  Reef McKenna is covered in Karli's blood, but claims that he did not kill her.  In a small Alaskan town, the case seems open and shut...Reef is put in jail and charged with murder.  But his sister, Piper, is convinced that Reef is innocent and she's going to prove it...even if she's the only one who believes him. 
Landon Grainger, close friend to the McKenna family, is the deputy in charge of the case.  He knows he has to put personal feelings aside to discover the truth.  His past makes this almost impossible.  His love for the McKenna of the members in particular...and his trust issues cause him to second guess everything.  When he learns that Piper is going to do her own investigating, and possibly cause problems with the case, Landon decides to team up with her to find the truth. 
We are then taken on a whirlwind journey filled with danger, excitement, and growing romantic feelings between different members of the McKenna family and those who are working with them to prove Reef's innocence.

This is the first book I've read by Dani Pettrey.  After starting with book 2 of the series, I think it would've really helped if I would've read book 1.  Even though I was able to put together the majority of the background information, there were definitely some events that had occurred in book 1 that would've helped.  That said, I really enjoyed this book!  There were moments when Piper's persistence and defiance of Landon's professional advice started to get on my nerves a little...because there were obvious danger issues...but gradually I started to like her more and more and by the end I was rooting for her. 
One thing I loved about the story was that it was suspenseful without being creepy or too psychological.  I've read a few books in the Christian fiction genre that are like that and honestly I finished feeling nervous about turning out the lights at night!  This was not one of those types of books, but it had enough suspense to keep my pulse speeding up and the pages turning. 
Another aspect of the story I really liked was that the ending was not what I expected.  You were figuring out the clues right along with the McKennas and their friends, but here and there you'd get the perspective of the "bad guy"...but it didn't give anything away.  It's kind of disappointing when there too much given away throughout the story and by the end you have it all figured out.  Some of the loose ends didn't feel resolved though.  Such as *spoiler warning* Rick Masterson's full role in Karli's life and why he paid for all of her physical therapy.  And what was the deal with Jake?  The book kept referring to him as a "good tracker" and his being so secretive about himself...but there was nothing really revealed about him.  I guess that's an opening to another book?  I just wanted a little more resolution there.  *spoiler over* : ) 
The fact that the characters had their issues and seemed more realistic was also something I liked about this book.  They were flawed...they made mistakes.  Some of them turned to God for help with their struggles...others in the story totally rejected God.  It was believeable that someone would respond that way to different circumstances and not everything was tied up nice and neat in the story.  I was hopeful that we could read about their lives changing in future books.  There's definitely some possibilities...spiritually and romantically : ).
Dani Pettrey is definitely a contemporary Christian fiction author that I'd like to check out more!
Happy reading!

Monday, March 11, 2013

My Go-To Granola Recipe

There are so many options for granola out there.  Basically all you have to do is Google it or go to your favorite recipe site and there you go.  To save myself from wading through all of that, I am just going to stick with my favorite granola recipe. 

A little background.  Isn't it funny how God does stuff in your past that can really affect the present?  Years ago while I was in Thailand my dear friend, Melody, was really into health, healthy eating, and was sharing all that she was learning with us.  We all started making some big changes.  We all got juicers, started juicing, cut caffeine, and...started making granola.  : )  Among other things.  I think it was honestly the healthiest I've ever been.  I was exercising, going to the gym, drinking pretty much only water, etc.  I lost about 40 lbs over the course of a year or two and felt great.  Good times.  Now I want to get back to those good times.  My family aren't huge granola fans, but I think this would be a good snack and something we can put on our yogurt or something like that. 

This recipe is also one that you can adjust to how you or your family likes it.  I don't add ALL of these ingredients, but I add the ones that we like.  But you can add them all if you want to.  I think I'm also going to try cooking mine on parchment paper this time...just to avoid having it potentially stick to the pan.

3 cups oats
2 1/8 oz sesame seeds (I'm not sure why it's this amount...maybe that's how big the package is?)
1 pkg. salted sunflower seeds
sliced almonds
1/2 cup coconut (optional)
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup dates

1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl
2. Put honey and next 5 ingredients in another bowl
3. Pour honey mix over oat mix--stir
4. Spread onto pan.
5. Cook at 325 for 20 min (may need to flip granola over mid-way)
6. Add raisins after cooking.

It really is delicious and after chatting with some friends at our weekly homeschooling group this morning about it...I think I'll make it this week!  : )  I also really want to make Pioneer Woman's Strawberry Bars.  They are SO good and make great snacks.  If I use the healthier versions of some of the ingredients, it'll be soy-free and a little better for us.  Yum!

I'll be doing another giveaway soon so stay tuned!
~God bless~

Friday, March 8, 2013

Early birthday gift

One of the things I know I got from my mom is our inability to keep gifts a secret.  I know if we HAD to, we could, but we both just get so excited it's really hard to hold it in.  Thankfully, I don't mind getting birthday gifts about 4 months early : ).  And thankfully my husband doesn't mind getting early Christmas/birthday gifts. Pretty much every year I've ordered something or got something for him before Christmas I end up giving it to him early because I just can't wait to show it to him! : )

With that said, yesterday I was at my parent's house visiting and my mom told me she had my birthday present.  She gave me the option of waiting or I could just get it now.  Well, you know how this story is going to go.  I absolutely LOVED what I saw when I opened the box!

This isn't the best camera wouldn't take a good picture of it, so I had to get one with my phone.  It's a necklace on a copper chain, with three different "charms" on it.  One is a pendant with a small map of Thailand inside.  The other is a key (a real key) with the words "road trip" engraved on it.  The last is a small leather journal..with real paper pages in it.  My mom wrote me a sweet note in there and I plan to put each of the kids' thumbprints inside.  Each charm fits me perfectly! 
Thailand: I used to live in Thailand as a missionary for almost 4 years.  My friends who still live there, the country, the Thai people all still have a very special place in my heart.  I hope one day our family can go for a visit so they can see this beautiful place!
road trip:  Joe and I LOVE to go on road trips!  It's one of the things we've enjoyed doing since we were dating...even if it's just a short trip. It's a great opportunity to talk, have fellowship, and get out of town for a while.
journal:  I love to write.  I have been a journal writer for MANY years....and I have piles of filled up journals to prove it.  I've also attempted to write some fiction of my own.  I've completed one story and have started another...but haven't really regained my momentum since I got pregnant with Seth.  I hope that one day I can pick it back up.  It's definitely something I enjoy.

Caroline Sandlin is the artist who made the necklace.   Here is a blog post I found that shows some of her jewelry.  Her website is .  If you're a GA native and live close to Macon, the annual Mulberry Street Craft Show will be coming up on March 23rd and Caroline will have a booth there.

If you're interested in other Cherry Blossom events, here is a link to the daily schedule.  There are lots of fun (and free!) things to do.


Friday, March 1, 2013

The Little House That and giveaway! *winner announced!*

*Thanks for reading and commenting!  My Isaac helped me draw the name today...and the winner is....Melody!*
We love those fun little veggies!  For our family, Veggietales movies are a source of entertainment for the whole family, especially the kids.  Not only do they have fun little ways of communicating how to act towards others, but they do it in such a way that also communicates what God's Word says.  "The Little House That Stood," the newest release from the creators of VeggieTales, is no exception.  Here is a little synopsis of the story:

When the Three Little Pigs roll into Cabbageville looking to build some new houses, they meet one builder with a plan and two without a clue! Larry builds with hay, Mr. Lunt with bricks, but only Bob builds his houses on a firm foundation - following the wise plans from the Master Builder's Handbook! Will the Little Piggies make the right choices when it comes to building their houses - and their lives - on solid ground? Find out in this parable that shows kids when they follow God's blueprints, then can stand strong when the storms come!
Also included in the dvd is a silly song from Larry and "The Good Egg of Gooseville," a retelling of the classic Humpty Dumpty story...with a veggie twist : ).  And now for the trailer...

Honestly, my favorite story on the dvd was The Little House That Stood.  I thought the story had a solid Biblical message, as Scripture was quoted in the actual story, not just at the end.  I also loved the way that the story of the Three Little Pigs was woven together with the parable in the Bible about a house having a strong foundation and not a foundation of sand.  Several aspects were presented in a creative way, like the "wolf" being the "Wolf River" that flooded the town.  I especially loved the Three Little Pigs...their personalities and actions were updated to reflect the current trends (one drank a coffee, the accents were cute, etc), which the kids didn't necessarily pick up on, but I thought it was funny.

The kids, however, expressed that their favorite story was "The Good Egg of Gooseville," which I thought was interesting.  This story rhymed the whole time, just like a Mother Goose rhyme would, which apparently the kids really enjoyed.  I didn't find it quite as entertaining as The Little House That Stood, but it still had a good message.  

I also checked out the bonus features on the dvd, which included a discussion guide.  I thought this was a great way to follow up with the kids about what truths from God's Word are being taught through the movie.  Let's just say that my kiddos paid attention to the first question or two, but after that their interest was in other things.  Good try, though.  For older kids this might be a good feature.  There were other bonus features that might be more little kid the sing-alongs.

Would you like a copy of "The Little House That Stood?"  Just send a comment on this blog post telling why you like VeggieTales and you'll be put in a drawing to receive a free copy of your own!  We'll draw names on Sunday.  Also include your email address so that I can get in touch with you to send you a copy.  Hope you have a great weekend and hope to see lots of comments!  God bless!

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."