Cleaning House: A Virtual Book Club!

I am excited to be participating with some other bloggers and book lovers in a virtual book club this month! When I first saw Steph’s post about doing a virtual book club, I was intrigued. This winter we made some winter fun with a once-a-month book club that turned out to be even more fun that I imagined! Since this book was conveniently sitting on the shelf at my library, I decided to snatch it up and join in, and I am so glad that I did!

When I read about the book: Cleaning House: a Mom’s 12 Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement by Kay Wills Wyma, I had two reactions….

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Our Christmas Treats Pt. 2

I am choosing to consider this post as early posting for next year. :)I actually just made this treat again, they were such a hit at Christmas. (And when I finally get all these holiday foods posted, I can have them ready as a collection for the coming November, right?

cookie dough truffles

cookie dough truffles

I saw this recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles at ChocolateCoveredKatie.com. They were a part of her “secret ingredient” series (meaning, they have beans instead of a flour/egg/oil base). They looked so good, I had to try them! I made them for our family Christmas get together, and didn’t tell anyone about the chickpea base until afterward. They were a huge hit! 🙂

My Tweaks on Katie’s “Cookie Dough Truffles”:

* I doubled (at least doubled, maybe more) the oats

* I reduced the sugar a little bit, because I added in a few chocolate chips

* I added a heaping tablespoon of cocoa powder

* I melted Enjoy Life chocolate chips (with a couple tbs of coconut oil), and after I had let the truffles sit in the freezer for a to harden, I drizzled the melted chocolate all over them, and then refroze them

As I was making the “dough” I kept tasting it until I felt like you couldn’t taste the beans. Since this was special party food, I didn’t want it to taste “healthy,” if you know what I mean? I plan on working on a sugar-free version soon… maybe using dates and stevia. Stay tuned!

I used up the leftover melted chocolate, by tossing in some peanuts and shredded coconut into the pot, and then dropped on wax paper to harden in the freezer. (These never photograph well, but they are very popular around here!)

045These treats will be our Valentine’s Day treat tomorrow! They are very quick to make, and made of things I often have on hand already. Let me know if you try them!

 

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Sweetness, To Go

Right now, my girls, my little princesses, are at their first dance with their first prince: Daddy! 🙂 Is he a true hero, or what!? They are at the Father-Daughter Valentine dance at The Dance Center, where both girls study ballet.

girls and daddy for danceLittlest Princess is gluten-free like me, and whenever an event comes up, or even an outing as simple as kids’ church on Sunday, it takes a little planning ahead for her to not feel left out. Instead of having her bring her own food to this most special event, I contacted the organizers and offered to make some GF options for the food table, so that Molly could just enjoy the party food with everyone else.

Since it was a Valentine’s Day dance, I wanted to do hearts and pink. Of course!

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Because life is crazy these days, I wanted to go simple. I opted for this recipe for sugar cookies using Pamela’s Baking Mix. I made them vanilla instead of maple, and I did make the cream cheese frosting. MMMmmmm!!

014I also made some Bob’s Red Mill GF chocolate cake mix into cupcakes and used up the rest of the frosting on those. I can’t wait to hear all about it, and see the iphone pics! Memories in the making!

sisters for dance

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Stuffed Bread- Allergy Free!

I am finally getting to my recipe posts of what we ate over the holidays! I actually had to make this recipe again this weekend in order to get a picture of the final product- it was all eaten too quickly the last time!

I have tried a few different doughs/pizza crusts to make an allergy-free version, but none of them were very tasty. I would most often opt to just eat something else, and make regular for everyone else. But not anymore!

dough all rolled out on parchment

dough all rolled out on parchment

I often use Bob’s Red Mill pizza crust mix for making pizza. Then I found this tweak that makes it less sticky, and more roll-able. I divided the dough in half, and rolled out both sections in between piece of parchment paper. I brush the inside with a little garlic butter, and then begin layering rows of salami, ham and turkey, and provolone cheese (uncured, unsmoked meat.. we believe in paying more so that even our treats are healthier).

073Then I use the parchment on the bottom to help me roll up the dough. (this is a little touchy… it IS gluten-free dough after all!)

074I bake the rolled dough on a piece of parchment paper at 350 until the outside turns golden. Usually around 25-30 minutes, depending on your oven. (I often cut them in half after 25 minutes, to see if the inside is cooked through, or still slightly dough-y)

Slice into pieces about 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick, and enjoy!

008This picture is of the remake so I could take a photo. I only had salami left to use up, so it is missing the other meats!

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A Retreat

My husband and I are not very good at taking time away together. For starters, we are both homebodies, and after that, we like really using our free time to be spent together as a family. However, we know the importance of cultivating our friendship and romance, even if we are slow to remember at times! This weekend we were gifted with a chance to go away for one night, while a close friend kept our kids. Despite the cold weather, I really wanted to see the ocean, and feel the wind blowing the winter cobwebs out of my head. I wanted to hear the crashing waves, and see a horizon I couldn’t fit into a camera lens.

011We went to the Owls Head Lighthouse in Rockland. It was a nice little hike out to the lighthouse itself, with lovely spots to stop and take in the view.

012The sound of the waves and the wind (with no city noise) was such music to my ears.

014Deep droughts of the cold, crisp air, with the sun actually feeling warm in between gusts of wind… I need to get out to the ocean more often, even in winter!

spring at owls headI think I’ll be on a mission to get all of us out to explore some more lighthouses this winter! 🙂

rich at owls headI bet I can talk him into it! 🙂 (See how he carries my camera bag for me? Such a gentleman!)

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Adoption Update!

Two months in a row with MAJOR adoption news! After the first 2 years of hearing nothing, this is very exciting!

wisly head shot ja 2013Wisly (we will be changing his name to Wesley) was 2 1/2 when first met him. (On paper anyway… they don’t actually keep birth records in Haiti, so it’s a made up age and birth date). He is now 5. If we didn’t know God’s timing is perfect we would be mourning the loss of those critical years. But we have been privileged to see a reason in our wait, which is not often the case, and so we keep trusting in the One who is truly in control. (It’s not the Haitian government).

Our latest news is that our dossier (paperwork) has finally cleared IBESR (social services) and is ready to head to COURT! We also heard we may not have to appear in person before the judge (a huge money saver with the cost of travel these days!)

wisly school uiformWhen we knew we were getting close to this point three weeks ago, we started praying about the $2120 we would need to send to finish the paperwork process in Haiti. As of today, thanks to generous church family, we are praying for only $816. Small gifts of on-hand cash and larger checks all add up to make such a difference!

We are so close. We could be counting on one hand, the months left until our little guy is finally with us. We will have crossed the 3 year mark when that happens.

If you’d like be a part of this special little guy’s story, you can donate any amount on our fundraiser page via paypal. (Or buy our CD!) 🙂 We still have travel costs, and follow up homestudy visits coming up as well. We are so blown away when we realize how far in this process we have come (over $20K in fees and travel). It has been a faith building and humbling experience, and we could not have done it without our family, and community, both local and virtual!

I’ll finish this update with the song my heart is singing this weekend, for those who haven’t seen it. This is my “Haiti Song.”

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Winter is Here- Checking in!

Winter is in full swing here. We’ve been a little light on the snowfall once again this year, but we thankfully have enough snow right now to cover the brown. And cold enough temps to make our little homemade “rink” freeze over at last. I am craving some time out of the city, to chase some landscape beauty, but for now I am trying to make sure I continue to chase the beauty I have right here. (I just uploaded 111 photos to my laptop. I haven’t blogged in a month, but I’ve been getting out a tiny bit with the camera at least! haha!)

008The changing colors of the sky are the only colors to be found around here at this time of year!

This is a good winter for me. My preparations in the fall have definitely been worth it. While there are still plenty of cold months to develop some cabin fever, I am enjoying my choice to get outside, and breathe in the cold, fresh air. Bundling up with my knee high socks, my handmade hat, and snow pants… I’ll do what it takes to be warm, so I will continue to get out there!

091I’ve been running more than half of my treadmill time, and really feeling the difference in my mental health for this time of year! Keeping up my vitamin D, and my B vitamins. I’ve had some fun stuff in the works to brighten the long dark days, too! I’ll be sharing more on that this week!

We had a long round of the flu beginning on 12/26… so we had a very slow launch into the new year. Now that our schooling and my teaching is back into routine, I am hoping to reclaim my writing and blogging and cooking and photography time!

How is your winter going? Keeping your vitamin D levels up?!

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What I’m baking for the holidays…

Suddenly, despite the overwhelming to do list, I got excited about preparing some special foods for the holidays. But not just special foods. I was excited knowing that I could make allergy-free and pretty healthy versions of favorites that would still feel like a treat for my family. First up, banana bread!

One of the things I liked about the Spunky Coconut’s original recipe, was that it was for 2 loaves. Because one loaf of banana bread NEVER lasts long enough… and while I’ve already got everything out, it’s just as fast as making one. (And with it already doubled, if I end up having conversations with 3 kids, my husband online and taking a phone call, I don’t mess up the doubling part in my head!)

My tweaks:

Instead of coconut sugar (expensive and still sugar, so I don’t buy it) I use 1/3 cup of honey, and then add 5-6 of the mini-scoop of my stevia extract. I also used melted butter instead of coconut oil (because I ran out).

We don’t miss all that sugar in regular banana bread at all. And it’s so moist and flavorful, it’s a huge hit with people who don’t usually eat gluten/corn free!

I have a couple new cookie recipes I’m hoping to try this weekend… not your usual sugar cookies! 🙂

What are you making for the holidays??

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A Christmas Song for You

I am so excited to share our new Christmas song with you today!

I wrote this song after being to Haiti a few times rocked my view of the world, and of Christmas. I hope you enjoy this song, with Christmas blessings from my family to yours!

(You will hear my girls singing on this one! My talented husband plays all the instruments except the piano and synth which were played by me. He is amazing. Period.)

Merry Christmas!

P.S. We had GOOD adoption news this week! (If you are new around here, we have been in the process of adopting from Haiti for 2 1/2 years) We have received presidential dispensation, which means our next step will be court. Wisly should be home next summer! (Or sooner, with some more miracles)

Sales of this song will go to our adoption fund. You can read more about that here.

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Unto us a Sweet and Spunky Little Girl was born…

I can’t believe it is already 8 years ago today, that we were blessed with our Molly Elisabeth! She was even more of a premie than her sister, being nearly 5 weeks early, due to my blood pressure, and early signs of eclampsia. She was 4 lbs and 11 oz, another little doll-sized baby.

Once again, we knew we had ideal older siblings in our family. When we brought Molly home from the hospital, Phoebe just loved to hold her. One day she looked up at me, precious 3 yr old holding her new sister in her lap, and said “This is my baby, Mom. You can get another one.”  It didn’t matter that Molly couldn’t play with her yet, they were chums right away.

Molly is a wonderful mix of sweet and spunk. One minute she was a princess…

And the next, she was digging through her big brother’s dresser for a different costume:

Although, (typical of the third child) I don’t  have quite as many photos of her, I had started blogging, and we had fun today going back through old posts. Here are some of our favorites:

Age 3:

“Where is my remembalizer? Get it? I call it ‘remembalizer’ so I remember it!” (she was speaking of her nebulizer which she had to use 7 times in 3 days that week.)

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Age 3:

After overhearing a fight between her brother and sister, Molly decided to try it out on me. Molly: “YOU NOT MY BOSS MAMA, YOU NOT MY BOSS!!!”Me: “Yes I am. I’m your boss.”Molly: “Oh.”

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Age 4:

“Mom, maybe you should do laundry EVERY day… that way I will always have underwear in my drawer.”

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Age 3:

I was doing Molly’s hair, and Phoebe was snuggling with Rich across the room. Molly yelled out “Hurry, Mom! Phoebe is taking all of Daddy’s love!

She has always been very articulate. Molly is the one who got my high-speed/high-volume talking. But she doesn’t over-much care what people think. (Not like me). I tell her that I hope she stays that way, but it would be nice if she sometimes cared what I think. She cares about keeping up with the big kids (insisted on starting schoolwork much younger than I did the other kids).

chums!

One of the sweetest things about Molly is that she a true giver. Few things make her happier than planning surprises or preparing gifts for others. She put her own pennies into the adoption fund on multiple occasions. She has spent hours poring over the World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse Christmas catalogs, planning a gift. And sometimes, mid-year with no birthdays or holidays, she has said “I just reeeeeally need to give some gifts to people!” so she has spent her own money buying things for each family member “just because.”

"it's a music note!"

Molly, I so enjoy seeing your sugar-and-spice self growing up! Your generous heart, your boldness, and intense love for your family and friends shines brightly. We are so glad that God surprised us with you! Thankful to have you in my life!

Love,

Mom

 

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