Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Things I'm Loving Right Now

Happy Tuesday! Where in the world did Monday go? I feel like life is crazy right now! Anyone else feel that way? Oh, you do, too? Good. I'm glad I'm not the only one.

Instead of focusing on the crazy, insane, overwhelming, busy-ness of my life right now, I thought I would tell you a few things I'm absolutely loving right now. Much more fun! So, here's the list:

1. Rice Milk - My favorite milk substitute so far! I love the consistency. It is not thick like soy milk. I also love that it's not sweet. It actually tastes good in my cereal. I've also used it in a few recipes and haven't noticed a difference. Yay, rice milk!
2. SunButter - Oh.My.Goodness. I love peanut butter. Absolutely love it. I thought I would not be able to live without it. Then, I met SunButter. Wow! This stuff is so yummy, and I can eat it just like peanut butter, but it is nut free! If you like sunflower seeds, you will love SunButter. I fully intend to try some recipes using SunButter instead of peanut butter this week. I'll get back to you on that.

3. Homemade Bread - A few weeks ago, I decided to start making our bread instead of buying it. I make the dough in the bread machine; let the dough rise in the loaf pan; and then, bake it in the oven. It is so simple, and it tastes SO good! Not to mention it makes the house smell wonderful. It is also nice because I can make it without milk (or using rice milk). I'm sure I won't be able to keep making it every week, but I plan to make it often because it is just so yummy.

4. Sonic Happy Hour - It takes a lot of self-control for me NOT to go to Sonic every day during Happy Hour. Considering there are 11, yes 11, Sonics within 5 miles of my house, temptation is everywhere! I don't typically drink much other than water, but lately, I've been hooked on Sonic...vanilla Diet Dr. Peppers, Cherry Limeades, Peach Teas, the choices are endless! And where else can you get a drink for under a dollar??? So, while I try not to go every day, I do enjoy my occasional Sonic drink...and it is divine!

5. Arbonne's Tinted Moisturizer - This stuff is perfect for busy people! Who has time to put on lots of makeup, but who likes to walk out of the house with absolutely no makeup on? The solution...tinted moisturizer! It is a moisturizer and foundation all-in-one, and it also has SPF 15, which is great. This stuff is perfect to slap on as you rush out the door. It provides healthy moisture, great color and coverage, and sun protection. In my opinion...perfect! I may never wear real makeup again.

When my life is crazy, it's so nice to find pleasure in a few simple things. They help keep me sane...for the most part. What are you guys loving right now? Anything I need to add to my life? Let me know and enjoy your week!

NOTE:  None of the above mentioned items are paid advertisements. None of the associated companies even know I exist. I am simply sharing a few things I love. Thank you and have a nice day.

Friday, March 25, 2011

PW's Sweet Cinnamon Scones

This has been yet another busy week in the Stoltzfus home. Will ran a fever all day yesterday after getting his shots on Wednesday. He didn't run a fever last time, so I was hopeful that this time would be the same. It wasn't. Thankfully, it only lasted one day, and today, my baby is back! Yesterday, we both spent the entire day cuddling on the couch. I did actually change out of my pj's around 2:00. Other than that, it was just cuddling. So, today, I'm trying to get caught up on things that did not get done yesterday. I might catch up sometime next year. We'll see.

Anyway, I wanted to post a recipe today, but I wanted it to be something I could post quickly. So, I'm posting someone else's recipe that I made this week (prior to the whole NO dairy at all revelation).

Tuesday, I made the Pioneer Woman's Sweet Cinnamon Scones. I love cinnamon chips and get really excited when I find new recipes that use them. So, when I came across this recipe last week, I knew I had to try it.

Instead of posting the step-by-step pictures for this recipe, I'll just post the link and let you admire the Pioneer Woman's photos. They are MUCH better than mine would be anyway! Below, I have noted a few small changes I made to the recipe...mostly out of convenience, but I'll explain the reasoning behind my substitutions/changes. Also, I made a half batch, and they turned out great!

The Pioneer Woman's Sweet Cinnamon Scones

  • 3 cups All-purpose Flour
  • ⅓ cups Sugar
  • 5 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • ½ teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 sticks (1 Cup) Unsalted Butter
  • ¾ cups Heavy Cream (I used skim milk instead of heavy cream (sinful, I know!). I'm sure they are much better with heavy cream, but I only had skim milk in my fridge, so that's what I used, and they turned out fine)
  • 1 whole Egg (Since I halved the recipe, I only used an egg white)
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 cup Cinnamon Chips

(I did not put the topping on my scones. If I were serving them for dessert or a snack, I probably would, but it seemed like too much sugar for breakfast. We did spread a little bit of butter on top, and it was great!)
  • ½ cups Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1-½ teaspoon Heavy Cream
Here is a picture of my final product:

Mine may not be as pretty as PW's, but they sure were tasty! Enjoy your Friday and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A New Challenge

This morning, Will had his 4 month well child check-up. He won't technically be 4 months for another week, but our appointment was we went.

I always look forward to the check-ups, so I can see how long he is, how much he weighs, and all of that fun stuff. I always dread the appointments because I know he has to get shots. Even though I know it is what's best for him, it is still hard for me to stand there, holding down his arms, so they can poke him with needles. He did great at his 2 month check-up and seems to be doing fine now, so hopefully things will continue to go so smoothly.

He weighed 12 lbs 8 oz., which was actually a little smaller than I was guessing. He had dropped from the 25% to the 10%, but the doctor didn't seem concerned. He was 24 1/2 inches long, taking him from the 25% in length to the 50%. The bottom line son is long and skinny. If you have seen many of his relatives, this probably does not surprise you.

We are still dealing with some cradle cap and some very dry skin, but the doctor made some recommendations that will hopefully be very helpful.  His development seems to be right on track, and he can start solids whenever I feel like he's ready. Overall, he's a very healthy little boy, which is always nice to hear.

There was a bit of bad news for me. The pediatrician noticed Will had a rash. She said it looked like a rash caused by a dairy or nut allergy and said I need to cut ALL dairy and nuts out of my diet. I have to admit...I was devastated. I've been trying to eliminate most dairy products, and that has been hard enough. But now I have to give up nuts, too??? I can't even begin to explain how much peanut butter I eat! I also learned that it's not enough just to cut out the dairy products themselves. I need to cut out anything that contains dairy, as well.

Yes, I was sad. I was thinking of all the things I could not eat. Then, after talking with a friend, I came to my senses. I had just been told I had a very healthy little boy. I could have been told something MUCH worse than: You can't eat dairy or nuts.

So, I have taken a new approach to this whole situation. I am actually kind of excited about it. I am looking at it as a challenge. How can I take the foods we normally eat and adapt them to be dairy and nut free? I have been researching products and looking up recipes all morning, and I am getting more and more excited by the minute. I will make this work! I've even found a few substitutes for peanut butter and sun butter (made from sunflower seeds). I can't wait to try them.

The good news is, Will should eventually outgrow these allergies sometime between 12 and 18 months. I could also choose to stop breastfeeding, but I would like to continue until he's at least 6 months old and hopefully longer. Until then, though, we will adjust to our new way of life, and we will be grateful that we are all happy and healthy...even if we're nut and dairy free.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Behymer Family

Today, I would like to introduce you to the Behymer family...Jeffery, Daysha, Lyndon, and Denton. I would like to share just a small portion of their "story" with you because it has been such a blessing to me. I know it will bless you, too! Like I said, this is just a small bit of what God has done in their lives. If you would like to learn more about them, their sweet family, and "the rest of the story" (thank you, Paul Harvey), then you should check out their blog, here.

Before I get into their story, I should start at the very beginning...a very good place to start (sorry, not sure what's with me today). Anyway, the beginning. The only member of the Behymer family I really know is Daysha. I've known her for a very long time...since I was just a little girl. Daysha is a few years older than me, and she probably doesn't even know this, but I always wanted to be just like her. She was fun, beautiful, hilarious, and she was a cheerleader!!! I knew I couldn't go wrong if I could be just like Daysha.

As we both got older, I still wanted to be like her, but I realized there was an even more important aspect of her life that I hadn't even taken into consideration. She loved God and sought after Him with her whole heart. She served Him with her life, and even though I knew she wasn't perfect, I could tell she wanted to glorify God through all she said and did. One year when I was in high school, she was one of my leaders at a Disciple Now. I'm not sure if she even remembers that weekend, but it made a huge impact on me. It was so refreshing to see someone older than me, who had been through the college years, and was now a real live "grown up," continuing to be faithful and still seeking what God wanted for her life. I also remember that she was dating Jeffery at this time, and she just knew he was the one God had for her. Listening to her talk about Jeffery and their relationship made me desire a godly man and a godly relationship just like they had.

Well, she was right. Jeffery was the man God had for her. They were married in 2004, and now God has blessed them with 2 beautiful little boys. This is the part of their story I would like to share.

I know I won't have all the details (sorry, Daysha), but I will have the most important parts, I promise.

Their first little boy, Lyndon, was born in 2008 at just 33 weeks gestation. He weighed 4.7 lbs. They spent 10 days in the NICU before getting to bring home their precious baby boy. During this time, they were overwhelmed by the goodness and faithfulness of God. Little Lyndon is now a strong, healthy 2 (almost 3) year old.

That brings us to baby Denton. Denton is almost 4 weeks old. He was born February 24 at just 29 weeks gestation. I can't imagine what must have been going through Daysha's mind when she realized she was going to have another little guy so much earlier than expected. I know I would have been terrified. I might have even been a little bit angry. I'm sure she experienced several emotions that no one ever saw, but through everything, she trusted God and believed He would remain faithful.

Well, Denton was a little over 3 lbs. when he was born, and now he is over 4 lbs! He is making progress every day, and just this week, he has reached some very significant milestones.

I'm sure Daysha and Jeffery have had their moments. I'm sure their emotions, thoughts, and feelings have been all over the place. But one thing has never wavered and that has been their trust in the Lord. I read Daysha's updates on Denton, and they are filled with praise and thanksgiving. Each day she is reminding others that "God is so Good" and "How Great is Our God." Her facebook wall has been filled with the support of prayers and encouragement from family and friends, but I know she is encouraging them just as much or more.

I have looked up to her since I was a little girl, and I think I look up to her even more now. I admire the godly wife, mother, and woman that she is. I love the positive outlook she has through the good times and the bad. I admire and find encouragement in her constant faithfulness.

I asked her permission to write this blog for 3 reasons:

1. Please pray for this family! God has been faithful to them, but there are still difficult days ahead. Pray for little Denton, that he would continue to grow stronger each and every day, that he would mature and develop the way he needs to, so he can go home to be with his family soon. Pray for Lyndon, this has to be hard on a little boy, but he is doing great! Pray that he will continue doing well even though his world is totally out of order right now. And definitely pray for Jeffery and Daysha, pray they will have the strength, energy, patience, and wisdom they need throughout all of this. Pray that God would restore them each day, giving them just what they need, just when they need it.

2. I wanted to write this as a reminder to be thankful for the good times and the bad times. Sometimes without the bad times, we couldn't have the best times! I'm sure Daysha and Jeffery would go through everything all over again to have their precious boys in their lives.

3. Most of all, I wanted to spread the message Daysha's been sending all along...God is So Good! We serve such a faithful God. Sometimes He works in ways we do not understand, but He is always faithful. I know this family believes in God's faithfulness and gives Him the praise and glory for all He's done in their lives. I love stories that remind me of what a great God I serve, and I thought you might too.

Like I said, details have been left out, but the important stuff has been said. Here is the link to their blog again, in case you want to check it out: Behymer Business

Friday, March 18, 2011

March Madness

It is that time of year again! To be honest, I wasn't all that excited about March Madness this year. As a Sooner fan, I haven't had much to cheer about in college basketball the past couple of seasons. Thank goodness my husband is a Kansas fan, and I can claim them by marriage. Plus, with the Thunder playing so well, college basketball has kind of been replaced in my life. However, once the games started yesterday, so did the excitement!

I watched WAY too much basketball yesterday and will continue to do so until the tournament is over. I don't know what it is about March Madness, but it doesn't matter who's playing, even if it's two teams I've never heard of or paid attention to, it just makes me want to watch. You can feel the excitement through your TV screen. Every game has the potential of being a close game. And I can't get enough of those buzzer beaters!

Then, of course, there's the brackets. Oh the brackets. I have filled out a March Madness bracket as long as I can remember. Sometimes it was just for fun with my family, sometimes it was for an office "pool," and Theron and I have filled out brackets to compete against each other since we've been dating (all in good fun, of course). This year was no different. We filled out our brackets, and the winner gets to choose where we eat dinner on our next date night. I know it's still early on, but I'm thinking Pachinko Parlor, :). Did I mention I'm currently winning? Not that it's really a big deal. But I am winning. By 4 games. But really, it's no big deal .

Maybe it's the athlete in me, but I can't watch these games without getting emotional. I don't personally know anyone who's playing. I really don't even care about any of the teams who are playing. I just can't help myself. When I watch the games, my heart races, my adrenaline starts pumping, and I get so excited or so disappointed, depending on the outcome of the game.

And the championship game? Don't even get me started on the championship game. I probably get more nervous than the people actually playing. I'm not really sure why I get so emotionally involved. It just happens. I'm the same way for any major sporting event (the Super Bowl, the Olympics, you get the picture). I almost always end up crying. I know...I'm crazy. I just can't help myself. When the game is over, and the champion is crowned, it just seems like it has to be one of the best moments in a person's life. Sure, it makes more sense if you're actually the one playing the game, but a girl can live vicariously, right? I see the excitement of the winning team (or individual), and I just can't contain myself. I think of how hard they've worked and how rewarded they must feel. And then I cry. It's really pathetic, but I don't see myself changing any time soon.

So, even though I wasn't too excited about March Madness this has consumed me once again. What about you? Do you love March Madness? Could you care less? How's your bracket doing? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Enjoy the Madness!!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Little Known Facts about Me, Fact #2

I decided it was time to share another little known fact about me. Fact #2:  I had imaginary friends.

Yes, it's true. I had imaginary friends.

When I say I had imaginary friends, I don't mean for a day, or a week, or even a month. We're talking years... with an "s"! I couldn't even tell you how old I was when my "friends" came into existence. I'm guessing I was 2 or 3, but I would have to ask my parents to know for sure. I do know they stuck around until I was in the first or second grade (in other words, WAY too long).

They were 2 boys (brothers actually), and their names were Rubby and Bossy Donsil. Sadly, I can still remember exactly what they looked like. Rubby and Bossy were around all the time. We played together, they hung out with my family, they were pretty much anywhere and everywhere I wanted them to of the many benefits of imaginary friends.

I would like to think this meant I was a creative child. I'm afraid it means I was a weird child. Whatever it means, I blame my parents. They are the ones who waited almost 7 years to have another child, leaving me with only imaginary people to play with. I'm sure if I would have had a sibling to play with I never would have created Rubby and Bossy. I'm positive. Really. Maybe.

I'm not really sure what life would've been like without them, though. It was like they were a part of our family. I think there were several reasons I liked them so much:

1. I made them up, so they had to do whatever I wanted them to. Sure, one of them was named Bossy, but I think I might have heard that name somewhere before they came along.

2. I could have them over or send them away any time. I didn't even have to ask permission. They were just there...instant friends. When I didn't want to play with them anymore, I didn't have to hurt their feelings or wait for their parents to come get them, I could just make them go away.

3. I could blame things on them. I don't really think I did this very often, but I'm pretty sure I at least tried it a few times.

4. They thought I was fun and hilarious and awesome. Who doesn't love that?

Maybe I was the weird kid. Maybe I'm still a little bit weird (probably not). I don't really care, though. When I think about Rubby and Bossy Donsil, it always makes me laugh. It really is a huge memory from my childhood, and weird or not, I'm glad it exists.

So, tell me I'm not weird. Did you have an imaginary friend/friends? What were their names? What did you like about them? Please tell me I wasn't the only one.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Family Visits

It has been a few days since I posted, but it's been for a very good reason. Several very good reasons, actually. We've had family in town!

Theron's parents stopped through Oklahoma City on a vacation they were taking to the Mississippi/Louisiana area. They came in on Thursday afternoon and stayed with us Thursday night. One of his brothers and his sister live in Shawnee, so they were able to come over for dinner, which was so much fun. It had been awhile since Theron's parents had seen Will, so while I know they were very happy to see us, they were SO excited to see him (can't say I blame them!). We had such a good time catching up, and I loved watching them play with Will. I'm sure he enjoyed having people other than mom and dad to play with for a change! They left Friday morning, and even though it was a short visit, it was a great one.

Then, my parents and sister came up on Saturday and stayed with us Saturday and Sunday night. I always love seeing my family, but I think it is so much more fun now that Will is here. Like I said, I just love to watch them play with him. You can just see the indescribable amount of love they have for he's the best thing that's ever happened in their whole lives (again, I can't blame them!). We hung out at the house, spent some time at the mall, and just enjoyed each other's company. With the exception of a small crossbow incident (always an adventure when my dad's around), it was a really great weekend!

Family visits are not always easy. I have to clean the house, buy extra groceries, plan all the meals, and make plenty of extra desserts (of course!). Our schedule gets thrown off, we might have to change some plans here and there, and our routine is totally out of whack. Despite all of this, I would have our families over every day if I could!

I have the most incredible family. My parents, my sister, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins...all of them! Of course, we have our problems, our arguments and disagreements. We get on each other's nerves; we frustrate each other; and we have our bad moments just like every other family I've ever seen. However, I don't have more fun with or feel more loved by any other people in the whole entire world.

I know it is a huge blessing to be born into a family you love so much (and who loves you so much more), but it is another thing to marry into a family that you absolutely love and adore. It has to be rare to have both. That's why I know I am doubly blessed. Not only is the family I was born into amazing, my "other" family is amazing, too! I am constantly grateful for Theron's family and the way they have welcomed me with open arms from the very beginning.

If I sound like I'm getting all sappy, it's because I am. After my parents left yesterday, the house just felt empty. All of our guests were gone, and it was just us again. I felt so sad that everyone was gone.

You may not have the best relationship with your family, and that's ok. Unfortunately, many people are born into families they wish they were never a part of. I wish everyone could have great parents, wonderful siblings, and amazing grandparents, but I know that is not always the way it works out. However, I don't think people have to be related by blood or even by marriage to be a "family." Again, I know I have been so blessed. My hope is that I can take all the love I have received and use it to be "family" to those around me. I hope I constantly offer the love and support I have been given my whole life to those who have never received it.

So, be thankful for your family today...or be family to someone else today. Either way, I think you will be blessed!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Stuffed Poblano Peppers

So...the past couple of days have been pretty busy. We had family in town yesterday and more family coming tomorrow, so I haven't had much time to get on here. I know you are all very disappointed.

Since I'm short on time, I thought I would share a quick recipe and wish everyone a happy Friday!

Stuffed Poblano Peppers

For the Peppers:

2 Poblano Peppers

Cut the peppers in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds and the insides of each pepper. Place them skin side up on a baking sheet. Put them under the broiler for 5-7 minutes. Then flip them over and put them back under the broiler for another 5-7 minutes.

For the Filling:

1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 packet taco seasoning
1/4 - 1/2 cup salsa

Cook ground beef and onion in a skillet until beef is cooked through and onions are translucent. Add taco seasoning to beef mixture. Stir in salsa.

Once you have cooked the peppers, stuff each half with the filling mixture. Top with cheese and put back under the broiler until cheese is melted.

These are really fast and easy to make, but they are SO good. Just in case you are wondering, these are not too spicy at all. Just the right amount of heat in my opinion.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Have You Seen Your Face Today?

Today, I am writing about something that actually happened on Monday. It took me a few days to recover, so I am just now able to talk about it. I will thank you in advance for being sensitive to my wounded ego.

It started like any other Monday morning. I was up around 5:30 to feed Will. I put him back to bed and started on our recurring Monday breakfast - bacon, eggs, and toast. We seriously eat this every Monday. There's no real reason behind it...that's just the way it is.

Anyway, I got the breakfast cooked and on the table complete with the butter, jam, and of course, our coffee. I sat down, turned on Mike and Mike in the Morning, and sipped my coffee as I waited on Theron to come join me.

My loving husband sits down, we pray, and dig into our food. After a few bites, Theron stares at me for a minute, laughs, and says, "Have you seen your face today?"  I immediately start trying to wipe off butter, jam, crumbs, drool, and anything else that could possibly be on my face.

He keeps laughing and says, "No, your eyes are all black...did you forget to take your makeup off?"  I started laughing and went to check myself out in the microwave (it's as good a place as any, right?). There they were in all their glory. Black, smeared, streaky raccoon eyes. At this point, both of us were laughing so hard we couldn't stop. We both somehow managed to finish our breakfast, and Theron left for work.

After he left, I started thinking about what he'd said, and what had happened, and I laughed all over again. *Side Note: I'm glad there are no cameras in my house watching my every move because I would look like an idiot...a lot.* After thinking about it, though, this whole scenario taught me a few lessons:

1. Wash your face before you go to bed. It really is important. Not only is it better for your skin, it is also better for your pride the next morning.

2. Laugh at yourself. I could've let what Theron said hurt my feelings. I could've been over-dramatic and made a big deal out of it and started our morning with a fight or in a bad mood. Instead, I laughed, and I felt like it started my day off just right.

3. Laugh at your spouse. If Theron hadn't laughed at me, it would've been just another ordinary morning. Who knows, I might have gone out to check the mail or to take the trash out like that.  Thank goodness my husband laughed at me.

4. Take time to have special moments with the people you love. I love our breakfasts together. LOVE them. I wouldn't trade them for anything. This is something we've done since we got married, but I really appreciate them now that Will is here. While we eat breakfast, Will is still asleep, and it's a nice time for just the two of us. Sure, I could sleep later. I could let Theron grab a granola bar on his way out the door. But then I would miss this special time we have together, and to me, it's just not worth it.

So what's the moral of this story? Make fun of your spouse or some other special person in your life today! I'm sure they'll thank you for it (probably).

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pizza Dough

I don't know about you, but I love pizza! I honestly could eat it every day without getting tired of it. I think the great thing about pizza is that there are SO many different combinations and varieties. Once you have a good dough recipe, you can top it however you would like, and you can eat pizza every day (or as often as you'd like)!

This is my favorite pizza dough recipe. It is very simple, and it can be used not only for pizza, but also to make calzones, breadsticks, stromboli...the list goes on and on! My family eats pizza about once a week. We have cut back a little bit lately since I can't eat cheese; however, I have made some cheeseless pizzas and calzones, and they really weren't as bad as I expected them to be. I would still prefer to have cheese, though. Hopefully we'll be past this non-dairy phase very soon!

Here's the recipe. Make pizza sometime this week!

Pizza Dough

1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp. rapid rise yeast (about half a packet)
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 T. extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 c. flour (I like to use 1 c. all-purpose flour and 1/2 c. whole wheat flour)
1/2 tsp. salt

Pour the warm water in a small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast on top, and let it do its magic!
*Sidenote:  I'm frequently amazed by little things...yeast is one of them*

Add the sugar and olive oil.

Whisk it all together, so it looks something like this.

Now for the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine the flour(s) and salt. In the picture, you will notice I have added more than flour and salt. Thanks to a great tip from my wonderful sister-in-law, I occasionally add a little bit of Italian Seasoning, Garlic Salt, and Crushed Red Pepper. You could add all of this or none of this...simply your choice. The dough is good either way, but the herbs and spices give it a little something extra!

Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients. Then, pour in the wet ingredients.

Stir everything together until it forms a ball. If the mixture is too dry, add a little more water. If the mixture is too wet and sticky, add a little more flour.

If you are planning to use the dough right away, let it sit in a warm place to rise for a few minutes before you use it. You can also wrap the dough in plastic wrap or put it in a freezer bag and freeze it to use later. It is always nice to have extra dough ready and waiting in the freezer!

Then you can roll the dough out to use it for pizza. You can break it into smaller portions to use for calzones. You can cut it into strips and sprinkle it with cheese to make breadsticks. Use your imagination...the possibilities are endless!

Some of our favorite pizza varieties include:
BBQ Chicken
Pesto Chicken
Tomato Basil
Sausage, Onion, and Peppers
Jalepeno Cheeseburger
and of course, good ol' Pepperoni

I found a recipe just this week that I can't wait to try...Black Bean Pizza! I'll let you know how that one turns out.

This is a great recipe to have because it gives you so many options. Have fun, be creative, and enjoy!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sucking the Snot Out

Will has a stuffy nose. He has had one for quite awhile now, and it just won't go away! He's not fever, no other symptoms...just a stuffy nose. Unfortunately, babies can't blow their noses. Believe me...I've tried. I will hold the tissue up to Will's nose and say, "Will, blow," but apparently that means nothing to him.  So, I've spent a lot of time lately sucking the snot out.

I bought a cute little kit with some saline drops and a small nasal aspirator (which I refer to as "the sucky thing"). I squirt one drop in each nostril, then do my best to suck all the snot out with the sucky thing. Will hates this. HATES it! He kicks and screams and moves his head away, and I feel like a horrible person for trying to suck the snot out of his nose. Every time I do it, I tell him..."I'm only doing this because I love you. I know you hate it, but it's going to make you feel better."

Yesterday, in the high school Sunday School class Theron and I teach, we were talking about dealing with difficult times in our lives. The lesson was about placing our hope in Christ and in our salvation through him. As we discussed how we deal with the difficult times in our lives, we started talking about why God allows us to go through these difficult times in the first place.

Suddenly, sucking the snot out of Will's nose popped into my mind. It only could have been a thought from God! It made so much sense, though. I suck the snot out of Will's nose because I know what is best for him. He doesn't like it. It probably hurts, it's irritating, and it's just no fun at all. Will kicks and screams and fights me the whole way, but in the end, he can breathe! I get the snot cleared out, and he feels so much better. His breathing is better, he can eat better, sleep better, and so on.

Sometimes, God has to suck the snot out of our lives. He allows us to go through difficult times because He knows what's best for us. We may not like it. It might hurt. It might be irritating. It might be no fun at all. We probably kick and scream and fight Him the whole way. However, we're only looking at what's going on right then (the snot sucking), and we can't always see the end result (the clear nose). We may not see the end result for a long time, and we may never fully understand it. In the end, though, God knows what's best for us, and He knows exactly what we need. Allowing us to experience pain, suffering, turmoil, and all sorts of difficult times, helps to strengthen our faith. Romans 5:3-4 (NIV) tells us...we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  

Having our snot sucked out may not be fun, but we have to trust it is what's best. Oh, the lessons you can learn from a 3-month-old.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Home Manager

Rather than Stay-At-Home Mom, I like to think of myself as Home Manager. You see, this is my job, and if I don't view it that way, things get ugly. I've already mentioned the struggles I had at first...not showering (always a struggle), not wearing "real" clothes, and really, not doing anything productive or beneficial for my family. This was my role as "stay-at-home mom."

When I could clearly see this was not working...for anyone...I decided to give myself a promotion. This is one of the many perks of my job - instant promotions any time I want. So, I promoted myself to Home Manager. Doesn't it just sound much more official and important? I knew with my new title, I had to take my job more seriously.

After being promoted to Home Manager, things quickly turned around. I was in charge of running our home the most efficient and effective way possible. Don't get me wrong. Theron is  most definitely the leader of our household. I wouldn't want it any other way. I view him as more of the CEO of our home.  He is the true leader, but he entrusts me to carry out the day-to-day operations of our family.

So what does the job of Home Manager look like?

First, like any successful operation, we have specific goals and objectives in mind. We have spiritual goals, financial goals, family goals, and life goals. Of course, there are short-term and long-term goals within each of these areas. Then, there are obviously the daily and weekly tasks that must be done, such as making sure my family is fed, making sure the house is clean, and in general, just making sure our basic needs are met. Our daily and weekly needs obviously come first, but I am always keeping our short-term and long-term goals in mind as I carry out our daily tasks.

Also, like any other business, we operate on a schedule. I gave you a picture of what our schedule looks like a few days ago. Unfortunately, this is a 7-11 type 24 hours a day. Like I mentioned the other day, I do not see my schedule as restrictive, but liberating. When I follow my schedule, my day runs more smoothly, things get done, and I am able to help meet the goals of our family. I like to have my daily "to-do" list meshed with my every day schedule, so I can see when I will be able to do the things I need to get done. Otherwise, I am VERY good at wasting time. VERY good. This also keeps me from using the excuse "I just didn't have time today." I make time for the things that need to get done or that are important to me. No time for my quiet time? I make time. No time to exercise? I make time. I put them on my schedule, so I know there is time to accomplish them during the day.

Of course, there are good days and bad. Things don't always go the way I plan. I wish they did...but they don't. I am constantly trying to stay go with the flow, but this is always a challenge. I am learning to do what I can with what I have and to realize that as much as I would like to control everything, I just can't.

I may not get everything on my schedule accomplished. I might waste a little time here and there (can we say Facebook?). But, I can do my very best to meet my family's needs and to make sure they know they are loved every single day.  If that is accomplished, I know I am doing a great job as Home Manager. I need to see who I can talk to about getting a raise, :)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Brownies

I have NOT been good about posting recipes. I'm hoping to get better. The thing that I struggle with is the pictures. I have plenty of recipes to share, but what fun are recipes with no pictures? I am working on it.

On to the brownies.

These brownies (blondies?), whatever you choose to call them, are amazing! They are my old standby when I need a quick dessert to take somewhere. They are very quick and easy to make, but they are soooo good.

I got this recipe from a cookbook called "The Pastors Wives Cookbook." It is a compilation of recipes from pastors' wives all over the country. Who knows how to make better food than a pastor's wife, right? It is a great cookbook with tons of yummy recipes, but this one is my absolute favorite!

Here is what you will need:

Flour, Sugar, Brown Sugar, Baking Powder, Salt, Eggs, Vanilla, Butter, Peanut Butter, and Chocolate Chips

Cream the butter and peanut butter

They should end up looking something like this.

Mix in the sugars

Then, mix in the eggs, one at a time.

Once all the eggs have been mixed in, it should look something like this.

Stir in your flour, baking powder, and salt.

Followed by the chocolate chips and vanilla.

Once it is all mixed together, spread it evenly in a greased 9 in. X 13 in. pan (or casserole dish).

To finish them off, just put them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. They should be lightly browned and set in the middle when they are done. However, they will set up after they cool (sort of like a cookie), so it is best to under bake a little, rather than over bake. 

And...I didn't take a picture of the finished product. I told you I wasn't good with the whole picture thing. Anyway, I'm sure you can imagine what they look like. Beautiful! Delicious! Right?

They are best when they are warm and the chocolate is still nice and gooey! Store them in an airtight container, and they will last for days. Well, they could last for days, but they never make it that long at our house.

What are you waiting for? Go make these! Now! You won't be disappointed.

Here is the full recipe:

1 cup peanut butter
2/3 cup butter or margarine
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
4 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp. vanilla

Beat peanut butter and butter until blended. Gradually add sugars and beat until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time; then add flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in chocolate chips and vanilla. Spread in greased 9 in. x 13 in. pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until edges are browned and the middle is set. Cool in pan, then cut in squares.

NOTE: This recipe can easily be halved and baked in an 8 inch or 9 inch square pan, just reduce the cooking time by about 10-15 minutes.

Glorious Hot Water

I took a shower this morning...with HOT water! Some of you may not find this all that exciting and wonderful, but can I tell you, it was glorious!

You see, we have had issues with our hot water heater for the past 2 weeks. At first, it seemed like no big deal. We didn't have hot water one morning, so Theron checked out the hot water heater. The pilot light had gone out. No biggie. He successfully re-lit the pilot light. Problem solved. Or not.

The water got warm, but it still wasn't getting hot. So, we turned the temperature up a bit, thinking we might need to do this to get the water hot at first. Then, we could eventually turn it back down. It worked! Or not.

We would go a couple of days with warm to hot water, then a day with COLD water. The pilot light would not stay lit, and this whole process was getting a little annoying.

For those of you who know me well, you know I really don't like taking showers. I don't mind them every once in awhile. I realize they are a necessity; however, I'm just not a huge fan. So, at first, this seemed ok. It was the perfect excuse not to shower. But, since I couldn't avoid showers altogether, I had to take warm showers, and yes, even cold showers (we're talking take-your-breath-away cold), and I knew something had to be done!

Theron agreed. Unlike me, he showers daily. Sometimes more than once. I don't get it. Anyway, he was getting really tired of warm showers and VERY tired of cold showers, so he decided it was time to call the plumber.

Well, the plumber came yesterday, and it turns out, the hot water heater was leaking. The leak was then putting out the pilot light. While we were hoping only a small part would need to be replaced, we ended up needing to replace the tank itself. I didn't care. I'm not a huge fan of spending large sums of money, especially on things like hot water heaters (think of all the clothes, shoes, fill in the blank I could buy with that money)! In this case, I would've paid just about anything to have hot water again.

The plumber replaced the tank and did an outstanding job! He was very friendly and worked quickly and efficiently. He's lucky I didn't give him a giant hug before he left, but I restrained myself.

This morning, I could not wait to shower! I kept thinking of that hot water. I was NOT disappointed. I didn't even rush through my shower like I normally do. I took my time and enjoyed every drop of that hot water. I enjoyed the steam that filled up the bathroom. It was honestly the best shower I've had in a very long time.

If you're like me, it's so easy to take little things like hot water for granted. This was a nice a reminder that I enjoy little "luxuries" every day that I never even give a second thought. Today, I will thank God for hot water in my home, along with all of the other little blessings He allows me to experience every day. And maybe...just maybe, this has taught me to enjoy my showers. Then again...maybe not.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

My 3 Month Old!

Thanks for all of your comments yesterday! I really appreciated each and every one of them. I was a little concerned that a few of you might be worried about my current mental state. So, just to reassure everyone...I'm fine, :). I fully recovered after that horrible night, otherwise, I don't think I could've ever shared that story.

Anyway, today I only want to stick to happy, positive, uplifiting things! My baby boy is 3 months old today! Actually, he is exactly 13 weeks, but since there was no February 30, we are counting it as his 3 month birthday, too.

I can't believe how quickly 3 months has flown by! Everyone has told me...enjoy every moment because it goes by so fast. At first I would just nod and smile, but man were they right! It seems like just yesterday I was bringing my sweet boy home from the hospital. My how he has changed!

He is growing steadily. At his 2 month check up he was 22 inches long and weighed 9 lbs. 15 oz., but I know he has grown so much since then. He has his 4 month check up at the end of this month, and I can't wait to see how much he has "officially" grown.  Most of his 0-3 month clothes are getting too small, so he is mostly wearing 3 month or 3-6 month outfits. I get a little sad every time I have to pack away an outfit that is too small. However, I also get excited each time we get out his new, big boy outfits he hasn't worn yet.

The past month has been full of big changes. He is becoming stronger and more alert every day. He mastered the art of rolling from tummy to back and is SO close to rolling from back to tummy. He has also become quite the talker and loves to lay in his play gym and talk to his "friends." Although he is still very serious, I love it when he gives me one of his sweet smiles, and we've even had a few little giggles here and there.

He eats about every 3 hours during the day, and with the exception of the past couple weeks, he sleeps really well at night. On a side note, we have been letting him cry it out when he wakes up in the middle of the night, and there has been less crying every night. I'm thinking we'll see no crying very soon!

I love my boy more than words can express. I tell him every day that he is the best baby I know and the cutest baby I've ever seen. His smiles can melt my heart, and I could snuggle with him all day long. It is such a blessing to be a mommy, and I really am trying to enjoy every moment. I am beginning to understand that it really does go by way too fast!

So, in honor of my boy's 3 month birthday, here are some pictures for your viewing pleasure!