Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Faith Like a Mustard Seed

"For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you." Matthew 17:20

I sometimes feel like my faith is so very small.  God has been doing awesome things for our family, yet I still have times of worry and doubt.  Even when I do have faith, it seems like it is only as big as a mustard seed.

This week we have yet another amazing story to tell of how God is providing for our family! 

Tad and I have been a little worried about our debt to the hospital, since we still owed over $4000 for Vera's birth and we will be adding probably around $6000 to that debt for Mango's birth in February.  I have been praying and trusting (in my small faith) that God would provide what we need to pay each hospital bill as it comes.

Today Tad tried to pay the monthly hospital bill online, but there was an error.  He called the hospital to ask about it.  They told him that our bill is $0 - and that it has been PAID with just a notation of "charity."  We still have no idea exactly what happened, other than that we serve a God who owns "the cattle on a thousand hills" (Psalm 50:10)!

In our mustard-seed-sized-faith, we had been praying for each monthly bill, but God took our faith and moved a mountain!

Praise Him!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dark Hot Chocolate

I'm crazy about hot chocolate when it's cold outside, but lately, since I've been trying to consume less sugar, I can't bring myself to use the little packets anymore (as good as they may taste)!  I am also crazy about dark chocolate, so I came up with this recipe to appease my hot chocolate craving.
via


Dark Hot Chocolate

1 2/3 cup milk
1 1/2 Tbsp. good quality cocoa powder (I used unsweetened Trader Joe's brand)
1 1/2 Tbsp. sucanat (you could use refined sugar)
1 oz. dark chocolate, chopped (at least 70%-80%)
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

In a small saucepan, heat milk slowly over low-to-medium heat.  Add cocoa powder, sucanat, and chopped dark chocolate.  Stir until combined and until the chocolate has melted.  (At this point, I like to froth it with my Ikea frother, but this is optional.)  When it reaches your desired temperature (be careful not to scorch it!), pour into a mug.  Add vanilla extract and stir.

Serves one. (You can mix up more of the cocoa powder/sucanat blend using a 1:1 ratio.  Just add 3 Tbsp. of your mix for each cup of hot chocolate!)

Enjoy!

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Christmas Freebies

I've encountered some great Christmas freebies lately, and I wanted to share them with you!

Advent Guide from the Village Church - download the PDF here

Women of Faith Advent devotional: A Family Advent - download the PDF here

free Christmas album from Folk Angel - use code "WORSHIPGOD" here to download

more free Christmas music at NoiseTrade (there are at least 10 Christmas albums on the homepage, all free to download) - click here to browse

I don't know how long any of these freebies will be available, so make sure you get the ones you want soon!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Weekend with Family

We were very blessed this weekend to be able to see both sides of our family!  We spent Thanksgiving Day with Tad's side of the family, and loved getting to see many people we hadn't seen in a while.  My camera was packed in my suitcase, so I don't actually have any pictures from our time with them.  But we enjoyed wonderful food, as well as good conversation and an invigorating walk after our meal.

We spent Friday and part of Saturday with my family and with my brother Phillip's college roommate, Caleb.  We had a great time with them as well!  Here are some pictures.
our family
Caleb & Vera (she LOVED listening to him play the piano!)
Mom, Nicholas, Phillip, & Caleb
Mom (Mimi) with Vera
placecards (they say "God loves you" in Chinese)
Vera entertained us during the meal with her funny faces

Dad (Pops) with Vera
Hope each of you had a great Thanksgiving weekend as well!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Link Love


Homemaking
-Cultural Cliches (great read, especially for young women)
-Seven Strategies for Having More Productive Days (applicable to all of us!)
-Don't Forget the Hospitality in Your Holiday Entertaining (a reminder we all need)

Health/Cooking
-Adapting Your Favorite Recipes to Increase Nutrition (a good one to bookmark for easy reference later)
-How to Bake with Coconut Oil (I need to work on this! This article was helpful)
-Buying Real Food from a Mainstream Supermarket (also very helpful)

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving

"I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify Him with thanksgiving." Psalm 69:30

"Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise! For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods." Psalm 95:1-3

"Know that the LORD, He is God! It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him; bless His name! For the LORD is good; His steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations." Psalm 100:3-5

Have a wonderful day celebrating God's goodness to you!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Week Twenty-Eight


We're entering the third trimester!

I feel like I have lots of news to share this week!  At my appointment on Monday, they determined that Baby Mango is head down and that the placenta is exactly where it should be. Thanks for praying!  They estimated that she weighs about 2 lbs. 7 oz. right now.  Her legs are measuring long, so we think she is going to be a tall girl!  Everything looks great with all her organs and her heartbeat. She was tightly curled up for most of the ultrasound, so we know she is quite content and comfortable right now.  She likes to kick me in the ribs a lot, but I don't mind, since I love knowing she is alright.

We are blessed beyond measure with this new little life... who could be here in 12 weeks!  Wow!

Week twenty-eight with Vera.

Escape-Proof Pajamas

I'm over at She {hearts} It today reviewing and giving away a pair of Escapeejays - escape-proof pajamas!

Read the review and enter the giveaway here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How Great Is Our God

Some of you have no doubt seen this video already, since it's not new. But for those of you who haven't yet, I thought I would share! I never get tired of watching it, personally!

Skip to minute 7:30 if you don't want to watch the whole thing. The last seven minutes are worth your time!

Containers

Vera's current obsession is with containers!  She loves to open containers, see what's inside, put things in, and take things out of them.  She loves this glass jar in particular. It's very sturdy, so even though she's dropped it lots, it hasn't broken. It's filled with extra laundry scoops, which she is fascinated by.  



It's wonderful when something so simple can keep her entertained for so long!

Friday, November 18, 2011

This Week on She {hearts} It

In case you missed it, there has been a lot going on at She {hearts} It this week!
Drea is giving away a Big Berkey Water Filtration System ($260 ARV).

Drea is also giving away a one year subscription to Zenfolio's (photo storage & client proofing) premium package ($100 ARV).

Tara is giving away a deluxe set of reusable snack bags, sandwich wraps, and cloth napkins from the Living Lady (plus there is a coupon code in the post!).

And, finally, Elisabeth is sharing how to make green Christmas tags!

Head on over to She {hearts} It today!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Week Twenty-Seven

I am getting so excited about meeting our baby girl!  I get really teary-eyed thinking about having a newborn snuggling on my chest again.  I guess I'm just a little sentimental about how quickly Vera has become a toddler! 

I have felt really good this week... nothing to complain about!  I'm eating a LOT (real food) and you can totally tell with how much bigger my belly is this week.  :)  I don't mind, since her health is important and I want to make sure I'm eating enough good foods to nourish her.

Like I mentioned last week, please keep praying that my placenta is no longer low-lying but has instead moved into its proper position. We'll find out Monday!

Week twenty-seven with Vera.

Glass Balls

I hope my mom won't mind me sharing this.  She wrote this and posted it on her blog a while ago, but I think it's too important to be buried in those archives!  I actually shared this with my Bible study girls last night, and it really resonated with all of us at our particular seasons of life.  Hope that it can minister to you as well!

GLASS BALLS

We are all busy people and our lives are filled to the brim with many activities and responsibilities. We are like a performer juggling many balls. We juggle our family, our friends, our household chores, our community and church commitments. We juggle our personal health/fitness and our hobbies & interests. Everything that we are responsible for is like a "ball" that we are trying to keep up in the air.

Some balls are rubber. Cleaning my bathroom is a rubber ball. It will "bounce back" (still be there tomorrow and the next day...) if I drop it (don't attend to it today). Glass balls are the people in our lives. They won't usually bounce if we drop them. They are more likely to get nicked, cracked or even shattered if we don't keep them in the air.

My family members are glass balls to me. I want to be available to meet their needs and even to meet their desires. I don't want this busy season of my life to be so filled with the tyranny of the urgent that I don't spend time with the ones I love most. May God give me discernment and a servant's heart so I can always keep my glass balls high in the air.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Daily Chore Schedule

Do you have a daily chore schedule in your house? Not for the kids, but for you!  I tried one out last week and really liked it, so I modified it to better fit our house/family.
click image to download from original site

I found the cute printable chore chart here.

Here's what my schedule looks like right now (but I may continue to tweak it as time goes by).

Daily
dishes / wipe down countertops & stove / sweep kitchen / make bed / pick up & put away / laundry

Monday
take out all the trash / put trash can around front
KITCHEN
sweep / mop / wipe down all surfaces / clean out fridge / clean microwave / dust / clean windows / declutter / clear off table / organize cabinets / mop floor
DINING ROOM
declutter / wipe down surfaces / dust / vacuum

Tuesday
LIVING ROOM
declutter / put away toys / dust / decorate as needed / vacuum
OFFICE
put away toys / straighten desk / declutter / organize / vacuum

Wednesday
MASTER BEDROOM
wash sheets / declutter / straighten / clean off dressers / put away clothes & shoes / vacuum

Thursday
BATHROOMS (2)
clean sink & mirror / dust / wipe down walls, trim, & baseboard / pick up toys / declutter / wash towels and rugs / clean toilet / clean tub / sweep floor / mop floor

Friday
NURSERY
straighten clothes / wash crib sheets / pick up & put away / straighten changing table / store out of season and outgrown clothes / vacuum

Weekend
Off :)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Provision

God has been providing for our family in some incredible ways lately! 

We didn't have hot water for eighteen days due to a leaky pipe under our house, but God provided a friend at church who came over and fixed it for us on Saturday!  We are grateful.

Another friend brought us a deer on Saturday!  Tad and I spent Saturday evening cutting it up and putting it in the freezer.  What provision!  Have any venison recipes to share with us?

I could list SO many more ways the Lord is taking care of us right now!  We have been blessed with unexpected monetary gifts as well as other specific items that we have prayed for.  We serve a faithful God!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Week Twenty-Six

Sorry... didn't feel like taking this picture yesterday.

Things have been going well this week.  I'm feeling Mango move a lot more and I think she is going to be active like Vera.  Mango is around nine inches long this week and weighs about two pounds!  Her eyelids are opening this week as well, which is exciting.  She can also hear better now due to increases in her ear development.

I'm definitely growing a lot to give her more room.  I think I'm going to have to give up my regular jeans soon.  My belly button has totally popped out, which is a lot earlier than last time.  Vera loves comparing her belly button with mine!

I have been sleeping less at night and getting up earlier in the mornings to get things done, since I feel more productive then.  Sometimes I crash in the afternoons and take a nap when Vera does, but overall I am feeling less tired.

Week twenty-six with Vera.

Fluffy

I love how cute & fluffy my baby's bottom looks in cloth diapers. It's just one of the many perks of cloth diapering. :)

On She {hearts} It today, I posted a review of a new diaper I tried called Smartipants.  I loooove them!  Go read why I'm thinking about buying all Smartipants diapers for the new baby!

P.S. I'm also giving one away!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The WonderMill!

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I have a WonderMill grain mill now!  I wrote a full review on it on She {hearts} It today, and I'd love it if you would check it out!


Read my WonderMill review here.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Whole-Wheat Waffles with Apple Topping

I recently started using a WonderMill grain mill (another post on that coming tomorrow!), and I love being able to have freshly ground whole-wheat flour whenever I want!  I made these waffles last week (and again yesterday) and we all really enjoyed them.  They are hearty and filling, and the apple topping adds a delightful natural sweetness that eliminates the need for sugary syrup on top. 

Whole-Wheat Waffles

2 large eggs
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 3/4 cups milk
1/2 cup oil (I used 1/4 cup oil and 1/4 cup applesauce)
1 Tbsp. sugar (I used 1 Tbsp. sucanat)
4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

Heat up your waffle iron.  In a mixing bowl, beat eggs with a whisk until fluffy.  Beat in the remaining ingredients just until smooth (do not over mix).

Spray waffle iron with non-stick spray (or brush with oil) before making each waffle (this is especially important if you replace some of the oil with applesauce).  Pour batter into waffle iron, close lid, and let cook until steaming stops (around 5 minutes, depending on your iron).

Remove waffle, and if not serving immediately, place in a basket lined with a tea towel and cover with another towel.

Serve topped with a little butter, a generous scoop of apple topping (recipe below), some roughly chopped nuts (optional; we like pecans), and a drizzle of pure maple syrup (optional; Tad uses it, but Vera and I don't)!

This recipe made 10 waffles (our iron makes two square-shaped waffles). If you are making round waffles, it would probably make about 6.

Apple Topping

4 apples, cored & peeled, and sliced thin (I have used Gala and Honeycrisp, but tart apples are fine too)
enough water to prevent scorching
1/2 tsp. cinnamon, to taste
up to 1/4 cup honey, to taste (I didn't use any since my apples were so naturally sweet, but I would probably use it with tart apples)

In a saucepan, combine apples and water and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat to low, then simmer until apples are tender (about 5 minutes).  Remove from heat and drain.  Stir in cinnamon and honey (if needed, and not for children under 2).

Serve over waffles or pancakes.  Serves 4-6.

Enjoy!

Like this recipe? Follow me so you never miss a new recipe post!
For more of our family's favorite recipes, click here.

Linked to:
Tasty Tuesday
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday
Tuesdays at the Table
Tuesday Night Supper Club
Tatertots & Jello
Passionately Artistic
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Monday, November 7, 2011

Occupied

As you can probably tell from the silence on the blog last week/weekend, I have been pretty busy!

Thought I'd share some of the things I've been doing in the last week:
-baking bread (I've been grinding my own wheat!)
-trying new recipes (I think I've tried six+ new recipes in the last week)
-baking ahead for Thanksgiving and Christmas (I have Angel Rolls, sweet potato casserole, and several batches of cookie dough in the freezer)
-making Christmas gifts (I made 20 gifts for $0 last week... will post about that soon!)
-cleaning (I'm on a "Clean ALL the things!" spree lately)
-playing with Vera (she makes me laugh... and I love spending time with her)
-reading (currently I'm trying to finish One Thousand Gifts, which I began months ago)
-recording God's blessings to our family (I started a journal for this purpose!)

I'll try to keep the posts coming this week, but if I miss a day, it's probably because I'm doing one (or all) of the above!

Weaned

Over the weekend, Vera nursed for the last time.  I am so thankful for the wonderful nursing relationship we had over the last fourteen-and-a-half months!  It's really amazing to think that I personally nursed Vera every single day for her whole first year of life and then some. 

I think because I am pregnant my milk supply dwindled, encouraging her to wean at this time.  But I don't think she minds, since she is a great eater and enjoys a wide variety of solid foods.  The weaning process has been very gradual, and while I cried a lot about it (since I knew it was coming) about a month ago, I am at peace now knowing that the timing is right.

We still cuddle at night in the rocking chair in her room while Daddy reads a Bible story. 

I will always treasure the memories of nursing my precious firstborn!

Read more about my breastfeeding journey here.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Do the Next Thing

“Many a questioning, many a fear,
Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.

Moment my moment, let down from Heaven,
Time, opportunity, guidance, are given.
Fear not tomorrows, Child of the King,
Trust them with Jesus, ‘DO THE NEXT THING.’
Do it immediately; do it with prayer;
Do it reliantly, casting all care;
Do it with reverence, tracing His Hand
Who placed it before thee with earnest command.
Stayed on Omnipotence, safe ’neath His wing,
Leave all resultings, ‘DO THE NEXT THING.’”
–author unknown

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Week Twenty-Five


Yesterday was busy and I forgot to do this post!  I had an appointment with my midwife today and we got to hear Mango's heartbeat again.  She's doing great and so am I!  My weight gain is on track and my iron levels are fine.  Next appointment they'll do another ultrasound to check the position of the placenta, since early on it was kind of low.  Praying that it has moved to where it needs to be!

I'm feeling much more energetic now and I am getting really excited for Mango's birth.

Praising God for a healthy pregnancy! I don't take it for granted.

Week twenty-five with Vera.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Not a Waste

In our ladies Bible study last night, we spent some time talking about the story of Mary anointing Jesus' feet with perfume, and how others (even the disciples!) thought that what she was doing was a waste.  Many times in our lives we make choices that to others (even other Christians!), seem like we are wasting our time. 

As I clean up Cheerios and smashed bananas off the kitchen floor while singing "Praise Him, Praise Him, all ye little children..." to Vera, I have to remind myself: I am not wasting my life!

I came across a blog post I wrote in the fall of 2006 (long before this blog started), and I thought I'd re-post it here. 

The Best Use of a Life

John 12:1-8: "Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at the table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, 'Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?' He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, 'Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.'"

What was the best use of Mary's jar of perfume? As the disciples looked on, Mary broke the vessel and poured the costly perfume on Jesus' feet. Judas Iscariot criticized Mary, asking, "Why this waste?" The onlookers could not understand an important truth: Jesus was worth it. They underestimated the worth of Jesus and questioned why Mary would sacrifice something so valuable.

She could have held tightly to her valuable perfume, which quite probably, was her dowry...her savings...her security for the future. But Mary knew that by giving all to Jesus she gained something eternal. She gave Him everything she had, and she knew that her future was secure in Him.

Mary knew that there was no better use for her jar of perfume than to break it and pour it on Jesus' feet.

What is the best use for your life? Sometimes we hold too tightly and cling too selfishly to our lives. We seem to think that by refusing to surrender to Jesus' lordship, we can control our future.
We must realize that the best use of a life is complete brokenness at Jesus' feet.

As others see our lives, they may ask the question, "Why this waste?" To others, we may appear to be wasting our lives in service to Jesus.

But the truth is this: Brokenness is the very best use of a life.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

GiGi's Sweet Potato Casserole


DSC_2971
With Thanksgiving just three weeks away, I wanted to share one of my family's favorite Thanksgiving recipes!  I shared this last year when I guest-posted on U-Create Foods, but I wanted to have it here on my blog as well.

Like many of you, I have recipes that have been passed on to me from friends and family members.  One of my favorite recipes is my GiGi's Sweet Potato Casserole!  I can remember always having it at her house for Thanksgiving, and it is how I learned to like sweet potatoes.  This recipe is easy, classic, and completely melt-in-your-mouth fantastic.  (Notice I did not say it was healthy.  There's a reason I only make this once a year!)

GiGi's Sweet Potato Casserole

Casserole:
1 large can of sweet potatoes, drained
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 stick melted butter
2 beaten eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1/2 cup milk

Topping:
1/2 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 stick softened (not melted) butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a ceramic pie dish or another serving dish.

Empty drained sweet potatoes into a large bowl.  Mash with a fork, then add sugar, brown sugar, salt, melted butter, eggs, vanilla, and milk.  Using a wooden spoon, stir well to combine.  Pour mixture into greased pie dish.
DSC_2947 
In a smaller bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar, and pecans.  Use a fork to cut in the softened butter until a course crumb mixture forms.
DSC_2951
Sprinkle topping over the casserole.
DSC_2967
Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes (time varies depending on size/depth of dish).  You'll know it is done when the edges are golden and the center is still slightly "jiggly."  (It will continue to cook once you remove it from oven.)
DSC_2971
I usually prepare this ahead of time and reheat it on Thanksgiving Day.

I often make a little one to stash in the freezer for Christmas!  (My husband doesn't care for sweet potatoes, so I get to enjoy this myself!)
DSC_2968

Enjoy!

Like this recipe? Follow me so you never miss a new recipe post!
For more of our family's favorite recipes, click here.

Linked to:
Tasty Tuesday
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday
Tuesdays at the Table
Tuesday Night Supper Club
Tatertots & Jello
Passionately Artistic
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Family Resemblance

My mom emailed me some family photos yesterday so we could compare them with how Vera looks now!  Here's one from when I was about Vera's age:

And here's another one of my parents and me:

Isn't this one sweet? It is my mom with her brother and parents. 

Do you see any family resemblance in any of these?

Okay, Mom C. -- it's your turn to send us some photos of Tad at this age! :) haha!
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