Saturday, February 26, 2011

the battle of the cornbreads

Sometimes I feel like I am in such a surreal passage of life.  I can still hardly believe I am a mom.  And that I have 3 boys.  And that they are not-so-little anymore!  Today Miles asks me to sew him a yellow tablecloth so he can take it to California when he turns 25.  Jack places his cowboy vest on my sewing machine to sew a pocket in for all his adventures.  Baby Jude holds entire conversations with his brothers, with phrases like “not weally.”  How did we get here so fast?  

We’re coming up on birthday season in our home.  I always try to have another year covered in their scrapbook before their birthday (just one page per year, that’s not too much to ask, right?)  Wellllll, I haven’t even started Jude’s yet…  But, I look back at these pages and can barely remember the days that seemed so long that blended into nights that faded into weeks of colicky babies and sleep deprivation and singing a lot of “I need thee every hour” and wondering when, or if it would ever end...     

I have always been so thankful for older moms in my life who take the time to tell me to hold each day close, treasure every moment.  My mom reminds me to look into their eyes and smile at them as much as I can.  Another mom calls me on a snow day and at the end of our conversation says "enjoy your boys today!"  Which, spins me into wondering what it’s like for her, with her oldest in college, 2 high schoolers and 1 middle schooler, and thinking that season seems so far away...

But, it’s almost been 8 years.  Another 8 and he'll be driving (yikes!)  Pretty soon he WILL be 25, moving to California with his yellow tablecloth packed… (Sigh...)

Today, Andy is working on the house.  I am here.  Home with my boys.  And my heart is so full.  Treasuring these moments.  Piecing together samples for lunch, which is the fancy way to say leftovers 'round here.  Studying the way his foot dangles from his chair, smiling at him who cannot sit still and the imagination that goes with that and thanking God for how far he has come - I never would have imagined…
So... I haven’t been the best at returning calls or e-mails or really much of anything (stop by our house, and you will see…) The boys had 3 snow days this week, which has been a wonderful gift.  Making fresh tracks on a hill that calls our names.  

Collecting the moments one by one, I guess that’s how the future’s done.  

One thing we did do this week was settle on our favorite cornbread recipe, so that's "somebling" (which still makes me smile to hear Jack say :)

We have had quite the battle of the cornbreads over here, trying to land on our favorite gluten-free cornbread recipe.  Turns out it's pretty close to the "world's best cornbread," which we liked but thought it was too sweet.  So here is the adapted, gluten-free version.

world's best gluten-free cornbread (but I'm always open for suggestions :)
This makes a lot, so I made half this amount, and bake it in a 9" square pan.
1/2 c. sugar (I use sucanat)
1/4 c. softened butter
4 eggs
1/4 c. honey
1 1/3 c. milk
2 1/3 c. GF flour (I use an all-purpose brown rice/potato/tapioca flour mix)
1 1/2 T. baking powder
1/2 c. cornmeal
1 t. salt
1 t. guar gum
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cream sugar and butter. Add in eggs, honey and milk and mix well.  Mix together flour, baking powder, corn meal, guar gum and salt. Mix dry ingredients with wet ingredients carefully. Do not overmix. Batter will be lumpy.  Pour batter in greased 11×14-inch baking pan. Bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown.

Monday, February 21, 2011

homemade dishwasher detergent

I am now using this recipe and completely pleased with it.
The below is still a cheaper alternative to powdered detergent that works well. 
But if you are wanting to stay away from  borax because of this, consider trying the recipe on the link above. 

dishwasher detergent
1 c. borax (or baking soda, according to this)
1 c. washing soda
1/2 c. citric acid
1/2 c. kosher salt
Use 1 rounded tablespoon per load.  
BE SURE to fill the rinse aid compartment with white distilled vinegar. 

The boys came down with fevers Friday, all 3 at the same time, which is unusual.  (Hence, making my own dishwasher detergent when I ran out was much easier than taking 3 sick kids to the store.)
This made for a much quieter weekend than we had planned, 
cuddling indoors (and apparently snarling, although in my mind I was smiling here),

Folor Planning and Lowe's catalog shopping by Miles,

remodeling houses of our own while dad was over working on the real thing,

connect 4 countless times,

legos, legos, and more legos,

And when the last fever was gone, and the boys realized they had spent 2 whole days cooped up with each other with very little squabbling, yesterday made up for it...  
So, last night we went on a much-needed escape to a Scottish restaurant, as T-Pa says, called Mc Donald’s to introduce our boys to the Shamrock Shake.  

Shamrock shake, boys.  Boys, shamrock shake.
(the chocolate shake was for the brazilian who doesn't appreciate the nostalgia of the shamrock shake yet :)

They hit it off just fine. 

Jude informed us, as he was slurping up the last little bit of his shake, that 
there is a lion roaring in there at me. 
(Although it sounds much cuter when it is said with no R's, but rather "woawing")

Are Shamrock shakes gluten-free?  I googled all over the place for this, called 2 McDonald's, and after no one was sure, I decided someone needed to try it out.  So yes, I believe they are.  (I would know by now if they weren't.)  But 99% of the enjoyment of the shamrock shake is the experience, the memories, and the spring that's a-comin'...

Friday, February 18, 2011

our favorite chicken

Spring was in the air today.  And you know it's been a cold winter when 49 degrees seems like a heat wave!  A little boy was tugging on my arm most of the afternoon not to miss it.  So, taxes, relocation stuff, and Nehemiah set aside, and out the door we went...

With tea in hand, I could barely believe this was the same ground we explored a week ago here.   

I stop, drink it in.
I have been in such a rush this week.
In such a darn hurry.  I have gotten weighed down by the tyranny of the urgent: scrambling to find the "perfect" house for a couple moving here, hungry mouths to feed, laundry, dishes, bedtime routines, house renovation plans, banking, taxes...all good things.  All needing done.  But my mind was pulled into a state of emergency, being less about savoring the moment and more about getting on with the next thing...   
The words I read this morning came to life as we walked:

There is mystery and glory in every now.
And this is the only way to slow now down, 
to slow time down: it’s only when I fully enter into now, 
that the weight of being fully here can slow time down.

Stress isn’t a situation. Stress is a state of mind.

Stress deceives: Life is not an emergency. 
- Ann Voskamp

Life is not an emergency.  
It is a gift.  
So, I do what I know, to fight feeling with feeling (another thing Ann taught me).  
Abandon stress, and give thanks.

Thanks for the melted snow, for the hope of spring, for the warmth and joy and sustaining us this winter... 
for glimpses of did these guys ever get their name anyway?  they are FAR from pansy to survive the winter freeze only to be unburied looking like this...

for garage sale finds and pots waiting for new life...

for my first attempt at winter sowing, which was actually all done for me so far.  
here's to hoping I don't mess it up Hanni :) ...

for a "warm" day to grill up some chicken with Victa's special spices...

for these moments when the family is all gathered back together again...

for our life group, which finds yummy GF recipes like this to share...
VIcta's Grilled Chicken Rub
(a.k.a. the best grilled chicken...ever!)
1/3 c. coarse salt
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. paprika
2 T. pepper
2 T. oregano
2 T. thyme
cayenne pepper to taste
Blend spices.  Rub chicken with walnut oil (or olive oil) and cover with the spice rub concoction.  Refrigerate overnight (or atleast 5 hours).  Grill and enjoy :)
We grill one pack of legs and one pack of thighs.  If we have leftovers, the next day we make chicken tostadas.  

Baked Risotto
I have made risotto before on the stove, and it seemed super tedious.  But this recipe was so creamy, delicious, and easy!
I substituted 1/4 c. red wine for the 1/4 c. white wine, which gave it a fun lavender color.

My New Favorite Winter Salad
lettuce (romaine or spinach)
celery leaves (rather than throw them away, I put them in salad)
sunflower seeds
dried cranberries
bleu cheese dressing 
(or crumbled bleu cheese and poppyseed dressing)

and, for being here on valentine's day with this guy...

Monday, February 14, 2011

'i heart you' pancakes

What better way to kick off the day than with some gluten-free pancakes, which I just realized I've never shared with you before.  This is one of those recipes we made gluten-free long before we had to...Just because when we first tried them, we were hooked.  

gluten-free pancakes
1 c. GF flour (see below)
2 T. ground flax meal
1 T. sugar
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 beaten egg
3/4 c. milk
2 T. oil

Stir together flour, flax, sugar, baking powder and salt.  In another mixing bowl, mix well the eggs, milk and oil.  Add egg mixture to dry mixture; stir well.  
Pour onto hot griddle or greased pan.  Cook over medium heat 2 minutes or until slightly brown and flip.  

GF Flour Mix:
4 c. brown rice flour
1 1/3 c. potato starch
2/3 c. tapioca starch

I made them heart-shaped, because I just have a whole lotta love for these guys...  

I heart my Miles-man.  I love his toothless grin, and that he didn’t even mind that the tooth fairy didn’t come until Friday after he lost his tooth on Monday.  My heart floods with gratitude for how far he has come.  I can’t get enough of him belting out “Not to us, but to your name be the glory.”  I am refreshed by his spirit, his courage, his faith. 

I heart my Jack-son.  I love his chicklet teeth, and that ornery grin of his.  I love that he was the one who finally wrote a note to me and laid it on me while I was asleep that said: mom, can the tooth fary please com?  I smile at how he hums “La Vie en Rose.”  I learn so much from his love for life, his sense of adventure, and I love when he lets me see that soft heart under there. 

I heart my Ju-ju.  I love his rosy cheeks, and his chunky toes.  I love how imaginative he is, and how I never know what his feet or hands have turned into when I get him up from a nap.  My heart melts when he crawls into my lap for cuddles.  I never want that baby chuckle to go away, nor the way his pudgy hand fits in mine. 

(by the way, I found him saying "giddy-up horsey" in his crib like this.  funny, it looked like just a quilt to me, but to him, that's montana the horse right there :)

And this guy.  Oh man, I heart him.  I love his olive eyes, and the way they search mine.  My heart still skips a beat in that moment at the end of the day when he walks through the door and says “hello gorgeous.”  I love how he pursues my heart.
You turn me into somebody loved.

With all this love, we are so blessed to share it tonight with those in our community who have no structure from the storm, no house to keep them warm.  Those who are at the mercy of others for their meals and shelter.  And I couldn't imagine anywhere more special to be with my family, so full of love, than reaching out to those in need.  

The only reason I would hesitate to say anything is for fear of how this could be perceived.  I have nothing to boast about in this - it's one meal.  But one we feel so blessed to be a part of providing.

Have a wonderful valentine's day, sharing the love, people!


Thursday, February 10, 2011

baked oatmeal...a taste of florida

I have spent way too many winters wishing them away, anxious for birds singing and green sprouting and longer days and warmer sun and flowers blooming.  This year I was determined to be different.  And it has.  We have enjoyed our winter sledding, cuddling indoors, stocking up at the grocery to feed our army when weather reports forecast blizzards, the surprise of snow days, and simplifying the day. 
But it’s February, and this warm-blooded mama starts to get a little stir-crazy... 

So, today I was washing dishes, thinking about the last 5 years I have gone to stay with my friend Jules in Florida and all the fun we had (and last year adding Brooke to the mix :)  And how this is the time I really look forward to that Florida escape, feeling like I need it.  I won’t go too far with this, because I do believe breaks are so helpful in helping a mom regain perspective.  But this year, we’re renovating a home.  
I am seeking the beauty here.  And I will freeze my buns off searching if I have to!  

Because washing the dishes yesterday, the sun called me outside like it was 80 degree West Palm Beach sky, so we ventured.  And we learned trekking through snow up to our knees, as cumbersome as it can be to make those fresh tracks, the first steps are the hardest to make.  I looked back at how far we’d come and felt the burn in my lungs and the sting on our cheeks and glanced over at the boy so eager to venture with me and all I could do is fall down in the deep deep snow and laugh.  Because it really wasn’t that far, just took lots of energy and gumption.  But from then on out, it was just following in the tracks left behind.  We’re covering new territory, this loving where we’re at.  Seeking the beauty in the right here, right now.  I’m determined.  I’m preaching it to myself a lot.  And I’m starting to see tracks…

Because do you know what I heard today?
Birds singing.  Chirping away in 10 degree weather like it’s spring.  
Didn’t they get the memo that it’s freezing cold out there?  
Or is there really always reason to sing like it’s spring…

Nothing here below is profane
for those who know how to see.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

We don't have to change what we see.
Only the way we see.
Ann Voskamp

And, I might not have the Florida sun and fun and tangerine tree... but this is a taste of Florida for me.  We make this regularly 'round here, thanks to Jules!

baked oatmeal
1/2 c. melted butter
3/4 c. brown sugar (I use 1/2 c. sucanat)
2 beaten eggs
3 c. quick oats (I use GF oats)
1 c. milk
1 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
2 t. baking powder
Mix everything and pour into 8" greased square pan. Bake at 350 for 20-30 min.  Serve with fresh berries and milk.