Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Winter Garden.....

This year I am trying a small experiment by growing a few winter hardy varieties in the bed at the front of the house. Right now I only have a few cabbages and lettuce varieties, just to see how they do.  So far we have had very mild winter temps, but last night the thermometer actually dipped into the low teens.

I wasn't sure what I would find this am when I slipped out right after sunrise... And I was very pleased to see how well these cabbage and lettuce look!

What do you think?

I have to say I am loving how pretty  the cabbages look, and think next winter I will plant an entire row in the front bed along with lettuce and spinach.

Home made sauerkraut anyone?? YUM!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Easy-Peasy Gluten Free Black Bean Chocolate Cake

This past weekend we celebrated several birthdays!  Yay for birthdays!

Saturday we celebrated my friend's oldest daughter's sweet 16! We had a blast at her home grilling hot dogs, making s'mores around the fire, and eating too much cake!  Us moms got a chance to sit down and chit chat, which was sorely needed. The men did manly things like catering to their inner pyro.

Sunday we had a family gathering at our house to celebrate both Little Miss Helpful's birthday and my mother's birthday.

It was nice having our family here to celebrate and enjoy the day with us.  And LMH really loved her presents, which were all artsy supplies!  No.. she really did love them!  She is easy peasy to keep happy. :)

I wanted to make a cake that was a bit healthier, and I have several friends in the Gluten Free circle rave about Black Bean Chocolate Cake.  So I decided to give it a go! 

A quick Google search landed me on A Hippie With a Minivan and her recipe for Black Bean Chocolate Cake. 

At first I was a bit skeptical, because I have never made a cake without flour before.  But this cake turned out so moist and definitely chocolatety!   Plus it filled the house with the most amazing chocolate cake aroma ever!  

When it was done I kept it simple with just a small dusting of powdered sugar, topped with some frozen strawberries and blueberries. (Fresh berries would of been better, but I only had frozen on hand).  No overly sugary frosting needed for this cake!   

When my mom tried it, she loved it and even said it was better than normal chocolate cake.

I tweaked the recipe a bit.   I used regular granulated sugar, because that is all I had on hand.  I want to play around with the recipe to try to make this with raw honey instead of sugar.

And I mixed everything together in the blender.   This made it really quick and easy and cut down on the amount of dirty dishes!   I ended up making 3 cakes in a very short amount of time.  :)

Little Miss Sunshine and Little Miss Helpful love making the cake for Grandma!

Here is the recipe with the steps I took.

Easy-Peasy Black Bean Chocolate Cake

1- 15 oz can black beans drained and rinsed or 2 cups cooked black beans, drained and rinsed*

5 large eggs

1 Tblspn vanilla extract

3/4 cup granulated sugar

6 Tblspns butter - softened at room temperature

1/2 tspn salt
6 Tblspns Cocoa Powder (I used Nestle Toll House Cocoa)

1/2 tspn baking soda

1 tspn baking powder 

1 Tblspn water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.   

Grease a 9" circular pan or a 8x8" square pan.  Grease with shortening or coconut oil, and dust lightly with cocoa powder.

 In a blender - Add black beans, 3 eggs, vanilla extract, sugar, butter, and salt.  Blend on the highest setting (liquify setting on my blender)  until the beans are liquified and all items are mixed well. This took about 45 seconds to a minute in my blender.

To the blender - Add remaining two eggs, Cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and water.   Blend on the "blend" or "mix" setting until all ingredients are incorporated and mixed well.

Pour cake batter from the blender into the cake pan.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes.   Start doing the toothpick poke test for doneness at 35 minutes and adjust the cook time accordingly.  Cake is done when the top is rounded and you can insert a toothpick into the center and it comes out clean and dry.

Remove from the oven and let cool on a cooling rack.  Remove from cake pan, cut into serving size slices.  Put a slice on a dessert plate, dust lightly with powdered sugar.  

Top with your favorite berries and fresh home made whipped cream. 

Serve and enjoy with love and gratitude for another blessed day with your family and friends.

* 1 cup dried black beans equals about 2 cups after soaking and cooking.

This recipe originally found at A Hippie with a Minivan. and tweaked a bit by me. Please stop by her blog and tell her hello!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Open letter to my mom....

I know I am naive. I wear heart on my sleeve and I am too trusting.

Even with my age, as many times as I have been hurt, used, abused, and tossed aside.....  I still trust and hope.  I trust too much and let down my boundaries.

I know how I try to act and treat others.... and I just assume others will do the same towards me.

So of course my boundaries are over run. I am hurt.  I cry a bit. I give  it to God.  I go on.

It hurts. But God gives me grace.

But it is especially hard though when it is your own family who over-runs boundaries and disrespects.  It is most hurtful when the one who should be there the most to help and protect you, condones,validates, and participates in the behavior.

It is heart wrenching when it is your mother.  The one who instincts tell me is the one I can trust no matter what.... and then time and time again has proven that I can't.


Once again... I hoped.  I wanted to believe the best.  I let my guard  down.  I tried to make your birthday a special day. I did the best I could do with what I had. 

And once again boundaries were disrespected, values were mocked, trust was broken, and hearts were hurt.

The most common definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.

And that is what I have been doing. Time and time again.... you have proven that you have no respect for my family or myself.  But I still want to believe that you will so I try again.  And again  I  get hurt.   I have been living in insanity.

I can't do this any longer.

So now my boundaries are back up.  I still love you. But my boundaries are up thicker and stronger.

My family comes first.  My husband deserves respect.  My kids deserve respect. I deserve respect.  Our house is our home. It deserves respect.   My boundaries are up to protect my family and my home.

I love you.  I am keeping the door for a relationship open.  But I now realize you will probably never have the ability to foster a healthy relationship with me or return my love.   I now understand that you have no respect for boundaries or our beliefs.   I am not judging you.  I am just observing your fruit that you have produced over and over again.

For the safety of my family I have to keep my boundaries strong.  And until your behavior and your "fruit" changes our relationship will stay distant.     We can no longer help you how you ask us to... because we no longer will enable you and your behavior.

I still hold hope that one day things can change.  But until then I give you to God.  I  still pray for you, and I will still love you. 

Happy birthday Mom.

Love me.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Getting my House in Order - Kicking Butt in the Kitchen

Last week I posted about how I had just let things go in my home, and I was starting to get them back in order.

This week I have decided to focus on the kitchen.

Although there are other areas in my house that are probably even more messy, the kitchen is the one that affects the rest of the house the most. When the kitchen gets cluttered and messy, it is harder to keep the rest of the house in order too. When the kitchen stays in disarray it is really hard to get other areas in the home back to where they need to be.

And most of all, a messy kitchen shows lack of pride in the home. I really am proud of my home. I love my new home. I am so thankful to God for what He has blessed us with.

So high it's time I rolled up my pant legs, clean my kitchen and show my pride.

This is how my kitchen looked Tuesday mid-morning. Looking at this picture, it probably doesn't look that bad. There are dirtier kitchens in America (have you seen Hoarders?), but this is messy to me!!

This picture was taken after I started working on the kitchen. I had just cleaned out the mound of dishes from the sink, stuck them in the dishwasher, and cleaned the junk mail off the ledge (hey some progress). Then I remembered to take a snapshot. I still had a lot of work to do!

I also had a lot of work to do in the fridge.

My laziness in the kitchen has resulted in a rather bare and messy fridge. Don't worry we didn't starve.... we have not eaten very well either. But on the up side, an empty fridge is easier to clean! This didn't take more than 30 minutes.

I spent every spare moment I had all day Tuesday and Wednesday cleaning, and organizing the kitchen, adding a few personal touches when I could.

Wednesday I made a big pot of chili to use up the ground meat in the fridge and clean out the pantry. After the chili was done, the stove top got a good scrubbing.

After taking 15, 20, or 30 minutes here and there when I could I finally could feel good about my kitchen. This is how it looked at bedtime Wednesday night. I still have some more work to do. But my kitchen definitely looks much better, and only in two days!

It's amazing what a little elbow grease and some prayer can accomplish.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Happy March 1st Day!

Today was a beautiful day! It was hard to believe that it was only March 1st and still technically winter. This year we are having even warmer than usual temps in the winter months, and February ended with very mild weather, leading March in like a gentle lamb.

With this weather, I wonder if March is going to do an opposite of its usual, by coming in like a lamb and roaring out like a lion. So I am determined to enjoy each day we can outside.

Today was the perfect day for the kids to:

Look for signs of honey bees among the clover

Look for snails in the water.

Play tag with the dog, running the full length of the park.

Pick a log and sit to rest.

Discover the first Daffodils of Spring

(Little Miss Daredevil may or may not of picked them when I wasn't looking.)

(But evidence strongly suggests that she did.)

Today was the perfect day for mom to:

Sit, enjoy the view, laugh with the girls, snap pictures, and work on a knitting project.

Who knows how many days like today we will have in March? But I am so glad we got to enjoy this one.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The good. The bad. The ugly. I'm here again.

The good: I was blessed with a new home with more room and a school room.

The bad: I never got back into a good cleaning routine or set a realistic schedule.

The ugly: My house is cluttered, not clean, and I'm feeling overwhelmed.

Yep, it's pretty ugly.

A year or so ago I had to tell myself that "I'm not SuperWoman" to remind myself that I really can not do it all. I had to remember that I could only do so much, with the time and resources I have been gifted, with the grace that God gives me each and every day. And I had to learn to say no to things that really don't fit in with the priorities and purposes I lived by.

But I honestly think that I am now using the "I'm Not SuperWoman" as an excuse and a cop out to not do the things I don't really want to do, and giving myself the go ahead to spend my time doing things I would rather be doing.

I'm going to be honest. I don't like house cleaning. I don't like dishes. I don't like laundry. It was fun just after we moved into our new home, as we were settling in, and setting up house. But the newness wore off and it got "old".

The daily upkeep of maintaining a home is monotonous, and I don't do well with monotonous tasks. I feel like I am trapped in a rut when I am not doing something creative and spontaneous.

But the fact is, I have been blessed with a home, I am the housewife of the family, and I do need to take care the house to the best of my ability.

The good truth is, is that God did not bless me with this house for it to become a burden and a drudgery. And He didn't give me the desire to nurture my creativity only for it to be squashed in the monotony of housework. There is a way to take care of the home within the confines of a routine and still be able to balance it with spontaneity and creativity.

In all the upheaval moving created, I have some how lost realization of this, and it's time I got it back.

It's time I put my big mamma panties back on and took care of business. I need a butt kick. My house needs an even bigger butt kick. And I'm going to bring one.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Catching up

It's been almost a year since I updated my blog and posted anything really of merit. But now is the time to dust off my keyboard, and get back to blogging. I have put it off for too long because A) I've been busy. and B) I really haven't felt that I have anything to say that anyone would really want to read. But I don't care if anyone reads this or not. Blogging will be my way of stretching myself.

Since my last real update alot has happened and a lot has changed in our lives. If you are one of my personal FB friends... the following will be old news. So just skip over this since you already know it all... :)

We moved twice in 3 months, first in May 2011 to a temporary country house, and then again in August to our new home. It was hard moving twice, but the end result was more than worth it. God opened the doors for us to move out of our cramped two bedroom mobile home, and opened doors again for us to purchase a beautiful 3 bedroom home.

Our new home is in the city, but right next to a park. We have a big open field right behind our home, so it does not feel like we are boxed in with neighbors. We are within walking distance from 2 grocery stores, with 2 more grocery stores only 2 miles away. The library too is within walking distance and we are only 5 miles from church. The location is perfect for us!

We now have 3 bedrooms, and an extra room that we have turned into a homeschooling/study room. I love having all this space! But I have to admit... I have not gotten into a good routine yet to keep it clean consistently.

We had a nice lull for a little while after moving in. But 3 weeks after we moved in, life got kicked into high gear again when we resumed homeschooling, joined 4H, and prepared for holidays, and dealt with life in general.

And we started to slowly turn our backyard into a small urban farm by digging garden beds and adding chickens. We currently have a small zoo of 4 hens, 1 rabbit, 1 cat, 1 dog, and incubating 35 eggs due to hatch in 2 weeks. In the back yard we have 2 large and 2 small garden beds dug. We have also started clearing out garden beds in the front yard. All outdoor projects are currently on hold until we get this drizzly weather cleared out.

I am so thankful for our "new" home. It's hard to believe we have already lived here 6 months. In some ways it still feels like we just moved in. But in some ways I have already forgotten life before this home.

I look forward to sharing my adventures and life here with you, as we continue working hard making this house even more our home.

I also look forward to connecting with you all again!