Saturday, October 18, 2014

Oven Mitts

I have a very sweet and thoughtful husband.
And I'm going to shout it from the rooftops.

Today, I asked him to pick up four things at Kroger on his way home from running a few errands. Now I know that he'll usually get everything on my list, but I also know that my man doesn't stick to the list (not unlike his wife, who makes a list of the 10 things and buys $100 worth of groceries)....anyway, it's always interesting to see what he comes home with. Today's extra spoils included GF pretzels and cookies and OVEN MITTS! That dear man.
A few weeks ago, we had discussed needing new oven mitts because I'd burned my hand through one of our old ones. Not acceptable. Except that I speedily forgot the incident and kept using the same old bad one because I guess our others are in storage or something.

But good Emery hadn't forgotten his poor wifey. No, no. He came home with Blue Willow print oven mitts and a matching tea towel, and some day when we have a house they'll coordinate in a lovely way with our china. Sweet man.

It's a delightful thing to be married to such a man.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Random Box

It's a little hard for me to get used to it just being barely light at 7:30 in the morning. I'm missing early sunshine from central time, but on the other hand - my children sleep much later....and I would sleep much later, but my neck thinks it's excessive of me to want to sleep 12 hours, so up I must be.
{There's your run-on for the day.}
What I really ought to have said is that I'm thankful our basement apartment HAS windows, and I can be aware of the outside conditions somewhat - even if the sunlight doesn't come shining in brightly, I'm thankful for windows!

I have bad news. I made those molasses cookies yesterday, minus the ginger because I was out....and Emery didn't even like them. I should probably take that other post down. But I like them because they're so healthy, even if they happen to taste a little healthy.
Last week, somebody made the mistake of posting a picture of cookie cake on facebook, and this pregnant woman almost rushed out to Kroger to find one for herself, but I used a little self-control and made a GF version at home that my family could enjoy too. It was tasty, but alas, it tasted healthy. Of course, I didn't put any icing on, but I missed that certain chemical taste you get in the store-bought ones. Ironically, mine also tasted like whole-wheat, which of course it was not.
In other grocery store blunders, last week I was thinking about buying some bagels and thought, "oh, theses have a lot of carbs." So I didn't buy them and what do you think I put in the buggy next? Doughnuts. Are you kidding me? I was trying to think healthy thoughts and BAM! Krispie Kreme wins the fight. I'll also have you know that the aforementioned brand is the only one I'll patronize that incorrectly uses Ks where Cs ought to be. Because that is an aggravation in my life, especially when it's an educational facility and the name is something like "Kozy Kiddie Korner". Ugh.
(Sorry if you have a business named that. I just made it up.)

Now that those stories are out of the way. I'm glad to report that it's the middle of October. We're going Pumpkin Patching tomorrow. I had hot chocolate yesterday. And we made paper pumpkins that turned out uber cute. I'm glad to meet my fall-crafting quota and move on with life.
Enjoying September and October partially means getting prepared for Christmas. I even went shopping BY MYSELF last Saturday, and it's extremely gratifying to have a few happy Christmases wrapped and tucked away. A bonus feature of buying on the early side is that I have no memory, and Christmas will be just as surprising to me as to those opening the gifts. Score for the win.

Speaking of Wins, Shout out to Ole Miss for having a great season thus far. Hattie can't really understand why the Targets in GA don't sell Ole Miss gear like they ought.

Oh, I also wanted to give an update about my essential oil usage. It's been nearly a year since I bought a set from Plant Therapy off of Amazon, and I've been very happy with my purchase. Granted, I go through phases when I don't use them much, but lately they've been getting a lot of use in terms of peppermint to keep spiders and crickets at bay, and tea tree oil for bug bites, and "Germ Fighter" - which is the same formula as Thieves -for diffusing and hopefully cleansing the air around here of any lingering germs, and Eucalyptus for muscle aches and to keep the sinuses open.
I haven't used as many of the blended oils as I thought I might, but overall, I couldn't be happier.

And cue baby waking up.
Hugs. Happy Humpday.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A month Here. and Sycamore Bakes: Molasses Cookies

It's a monthiversary for us…one whole month of living in Georgia. The very first month of living in Georgia for Emery, Hattie, and Adele, and a whole month on top of the years spent growing up here for me. In high school, I was itchy to travel and maybe be a missionary. I was swept away with the romance of foreign places and mostly of not living in the suburbs. As I matured, I still kept the funny notion of looking down my nose at folks who stayed here, and I was glad I wasn't. But as most things come full-circle, here we are, and I AM GLAD. Besides I've got a mission field in my home, and a captive audience to preach to, and there IS romance in motherhood - if you get your perspective on the right way.
Besides those things, our little basement home here comes with the opportunity for this first-trimester tired mama to nap when Adele does (because Hattie goes to sew and keep our auntie company). And I only have two rooms and a bathroom to try to keep neat. And I'm getting pretty good at backing up the kind of steep driveway and not hitting the trees on either side…ahem, let's say rather that I haven't hit the trees yet. 

So, I'm glad to be here - even if I do sound PollyAnna-ish, I'm glad for that too, because how much better to count one's blessings and be glad for them to than to mope over your lot in life!

Want to know something else that makes me glad? Molasses cookies. I know, everyone is all about pumpkin spice everything these days, but when fall finally does turn that corner and the leaves are spiraling around you in the crisp air, that's when molasses cookies sound the most appealing. Maybe with some hot apple cider and a wood fire crackling, can't beat it!

Molasses Cookies
Gluten free, dairy free, egg free, refined sugar free….Guilt FREE!

2 3/4 cup GF flour blend*
1tsp baking soda
1tsp cinnamon
1/4tsp cloves
1/4tsp ginger
1/4tsp nutmeg
1/4tsp seal salt

1/2cup coconut oil
1/2cup mashed banana (one large)
3/4cup molasses
3tbsp coconut milk - or milk of your choice
2tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well. Place on greased baking sheet, and bake for 9 minutes.

--I really can't remember if these were "drop"style cookies or roll 'em into a ball and mash a little on the pan. Just go with the consistency of the batter for whichever is easiest. Also, make sure your banana is well mashed or pureed. You don't want banana chunks when you're eating the cookies.

*Gluten Free Flour Blend:
               2cups brown rice flour
               2/3 cup potato starch
               1/3 cup tapioca starch
               1tsp xanthan gum, unless otherwise noted in recipe.

This is the blend I always use. You're welcome to try your own favorite blend in place of this one, probably it would work just as well. I stick with this one because I don't have the time or mental energy to complicate my baking by using a blend that takes sooo many types of flours: almond flour, coconut flour, bean flours, amaranth, quinoa, etc etc etc. I've got to keep it simple!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Sycamore Bakes: Emery's Favorite Apple Pie

There have been a few times in our marriage - maybe half a dozen or less - when I've made something and Emery has looked at me and said, "This is the best (fill in the blank) that I've ever eaten." And that statement makes me want to jump up and down and smile so hard my face might burst. It's not that he isn't easy to please, but to get such an accolade, it's tremendous.

My poor brain can't remember whether or not he said that about this pie, but I do know that at the top of the recipe, it says, "Emery's New Favorite Pie". That's a glad heading.

Apple Pie
Apple pie is such a cozy, comforting food. Rich with nostalgia. And delightful as can be.

Filling: 6 medium Granny Smith apples; peeled, cored, and sliced
            1/2 cup sugar (coconut sugar is my preference)
            2tbsp GF flour blend
            1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
            1/4 tsp nutmeg
            1tsp lemon zest      ->I used lime juice in place of the lemon zest and juice - worked fine
            1tbsp lemon juice
            1/4tsp salt

Crumble: 1 cup GF flour blend
                1/3 cup oats
                2/3 cup coconut sugar
                2tsp cinnamon
                1/4tsp nutmeg
                1/2cup solid coconut oil

Preheat oven to 400F.
Mix filling ingredients and set aside. (I think it's important to let those apples "juice" while you're getting everything else together, so don't be in too much of a hurry.)
Mix crumble ingredients. Make sure the coconut oil gets chopped up into fine pieces and is thoroughly incorporated.
Pour apples into deep-dish pie plate. Spread crumble topping over apples evenly.
Bake 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and set a piece of foil over the top of the pie to prevent burning. Bake 30 more minutes.

(I needed to bake ours closer to 45 more minutes. Depends on the heat of your oven, ours ran hot, usually.)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sycamore Bakes: "Baked Oatmeal"

I was admonished yesterday that I ought to start an easy gluten free blog….this is due to the fact that I promptly skip over any and all GF recipes that start with 5+ flours. I can't handle that. I CAN handle using my standard rice flour, potato starch, and tapioca blend, even if it's not the very healthiest of healthy blends. True story: I don't care. I get decent results, and I don't have to spend a fortune, and it doesn't make my family feel ill (read- it's not wheat, and that's good enough for me).
But, I also don't feel like I can manage to keep up decently with another blog. Hello, I can't keep up decently with this one. Thus, "Sycamore Bakes" a new (and exciting!) recipe series. Brought to you without pictures because I'm not a food blogger, and don't have time for photography, BUT the recipes are coming straight from my tried and true family recipes binder. I have largely gathered them from all over the internet, and promptly changed 'em, of course. I don't have the original sources and here's my official shout out to YOU, if any of the recipes in this series are actually yours. Thanks.
So there.

With out further Ado.

Baked Oatmeal
This is a hearty winter morning yummy. Easy to make ahead and reheat for a few days until you can eat it all. Makes a 13x9 Full.

6 cups old fashioned oats
2 cups warm water
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 cup melted coconut oil or butter

8 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup molasses, not blackstrap
2tsp vanilla
2tsp baking soda
1tbsp cinnamon
1tsp sea salt

1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins

The original recipes says you ought to soak the first four ingredient at least 24hrs (to make 'em more digestible). I prefer the texture if the oats are only soaking as long as it takes to get the other ingredients together. Do what floats your boat. If you do let it soak overnight, don't put it in the fridge. Live active cultures are the point.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 13x9. Combine eggs, molasses, vanilla, baking soda, cinnamon, & salt in a medium bowl. Then stir that into the oats mixture with a wooden spoon (if you've soaked them, metal can kill some of your organisms). Mix well. Add in raisins and walnuts, if desired. I've actually never desired both, but the raisins are yummy, and I often don't add either. Cranberries would be extra nice. Pour into your prepared dish and bake 30-35 minutes.

Serve with butter, maple syrup, and/ or cinnamon. We like it with whipped cream too, if you're feeling extravagant.

Happy Tuesday. Happy Baking. I'm making this pronto. (And if you're wondering, I don't have any molasses and I'm going to use maple syrup in its place, and we don't do buttermilk anymore, I might sub a little coconut milk for moisture. I might not even have old fashioned oats, it's not breaking any laws to use rolled - I hope!)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Amazing Things

First off, the amazing thing about this post is NOT that I'm actually posting something on this neglected blog…I mean, it kind of is surprising, but not amazing.

Now then, real-time amazing thing number one: we live in Georgia! Hallelu!
I didn't really expect us to move back to Georgia in all the years we've been away. We wanted generally to be nearer to family, and we thought that maybe Huntsville might do the job, but the Lord had other plans and we are joyfully right down the street from my parents! We're talking about family night dinners, people more than willing to babysit, visits from friends that we used only see a few times a year that are now only 20 minutes away. This is a very good thing.

Real-time amazing thing number two: The girls' adopted grandmother and our midwife, "Mamsie" felt of our little bitty bitty baby yesterday. I'm only seven weeks along, and we could feel the baby's teeny arms and legs - this baby is still too small to be able to hear the heartbeat on a dopplar, but we could feel that he/she is THERE. Wow. Wow. WOW. Amazing.

And I guess you've realized it by now, but we'll have baby number three in early May - Lord willing. Funny thing: my due date this time is exactly the same as my due date with Hattie. She thinks she's getting a baby for her birthday - and she very well might. Hattie is convinced it's boy (and she was aggravated with her little cousin for saying she'd have a brother. "Elliott says it's a brother, but I say it's a boy.") But boy or girl, she still tells this little one good morning and good night every day - sweet as she can be, and I think Adele is starting to get some inkling that we're not just talking about her when we talk about the baby. She's going to be in for a culture shock, that one.

So there you have it. Amazing things from me to you.

PS one more amazing thing: PICTURES from our beach trip a couple of weeks ago.

Come to the beach, put your feet in a bucket of water, because it's way better than getting near the ocean.

This look. One of so many.

Fishing with Daddy, a big deal and short lived.

Matching souvenir shirts. :)

Monday, September 1, 2014

P-P-P-Packing AND S-S-Stickers

I've been packing for ages. Well, sort of since June - because I get excited about possibilities. But we're finally getting down to the wire. 

It's a mental challenge. I'm packing for storage. For an apartment. For what stays near the front of storage. For a weekend trip. For a week-long trip. For leftover days in between. And as ardently as I try, usually what happens when I divvy up the suitcases like this is that ALL of the suitcases are required for every night. {Which is, of course, no help at all…except that what you need IS there in spite of having to dig through 15lbs of clothes to get to it.}

I tell you one thing though, for so much of my household to be boxed up - it seems like the house is just as strewn with toys and junk as ever. 
But I know the cause of this. Stickers. My children love them, and I forget that I hate them. I lose my mind when I see free or nearly free stickers (ahem Dollar Tree, 400 for $1!), and all I can think is that the girls will love these, and then one day later when all the stickers are stuck all over the floor and all  the in between pieces of sticker pages are stuck to my foot, I cringe and say, "Whatever stickers are still on still on the floor by the time I count to ten are getting thrown away." And Hattie picks up the mostly whole sheets, conveniently leaving for me all the ones stuck to the carpet after I've gotten to ten, and then I think, "Stickers! Arg!"But they were my fault in the first place, because I lost my mind when I saw them. 

Moreover, stickers are not even something that one has to weigh the pros and cons of before having children. So there. I'm a mother with a sometime absent brain, but I do have the cutest children on the face of the earth….and I guess it's a pretty good trade. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

A Friday

We have a Mellow Mushroom lunch date today. And the problem I'm facing is whether to eat a snack now or languish with my hunger pangs until 11:30{...but of course it would probably closer to noon before the food arrives, so that settles it. I'm going to eat now, or soon.}

Emery used to say that he wouldn't mind eating eggs everyday, to which I would usually reply, "Ugh, Eggs every day? No way!" Well, I've made him eggs every morning this week, and he hasn't grown tired of them, and I have chosen not to participate in the egg eating every morning.

This morning was a jubilant one in our home. Case-in-point: I was not woken up by anyone during the night. I actually slept so hard that I couldn't remember if I'd gotten up or not, and I had to count the stash of pacis on my bedside table to verify that it was the same number as when I'd gone to bed. After having rested so well, I found myself ready to greet the day at 5:45 (instead of being bleary eyed at 6:10). AND Hattie woke up dry for the third morning in a row!!! Hallelujah!!!!
It can't help but be a good day with a start like that, right?!?

I'd also like you to know that Adele is proficient at saying hallelujah, and it's awfully cute.

Happy Friday, the weekend is drawing near! Praise the LORD!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Of goals.

I'm not much of a goal setter. Never have been.
When people would ask what my New Year's Resolutions were, I would falter because I never made any.

Thankfully, things change. Children help change things for sure. And since becoming a mother, my non-exsistant goals morphed into things like: GET THIS BABY WEANED, GO ON A DATE, SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT.
…all of which would eventually happen, but I wanted to work towards them.

In the last week, I've been setting real, everyday goals.
Goals that I could only start to achieve because the baby has been weaned and sleeps in her own bed all night.

I'm purposing to get up at 6am with Emery, make him breakfast, and have quiet time before the girls wake up.

And to cultivate a merry heart & atmosphere for our home.

I'm excited about these things.
But I confess, I too easily compare myself to others, and just this morning I saw on moneysaving that she's purposing to get up at 4:30 everyday to write a book and run and stuff…and I got a little bummed out at my measly little goal. BUT, she's in a different stage of life altogether, and I have to do what works best for my family - not what looks best on paper.

You can pray for me that as we move from our nice three bedroom house to a teeny one bedroom apartment, that I'll have the courage to keep making Emery breakfast at the risk of waking the girls - whose beds will be right there in the living room/kitchen area.

P.S. Sorry that updating my blog with any semblance of regularity has not been one of my goals lately!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Good morning, beautiful

It's a gorgeous, dewy morning here in central Mississippi.
I love how the morning sun filters through the leaves of our birch tree.

We've had more than a week of travels, and I think, after almost a week of recuperation, we're getting back to normal-ish.
That is, if normal-ish means that your toddler forgot how to control her bladder whilst on the road, and it seems like you're back to square one with potty training. And if normal-ish means working on day-time weaning Adele, which she isn't so thrilled about and woke up nearly every hour to try to compensate.
But my kitchen is clean. The laundry was finished yesterday.
These are good things.

It's funny how things change. I've always appreciated nice landscaping, and when I watched that house-hunters international, I would be shocked at how the driveways in Ireland were paved right up to the house. No bushes or anything. Well, in the last week, I've found myself praising a potential house because there was, "no fussy landscaping". It's a season of life. I don't have time to prune and weed and   mulch flower beds. I count myself a success if I can remember to put the potted plants in the rain and sunshine sometimes…the ones that aren't dead already. It's just the way it is. Maybe when my children are a little bigger I'll be able to appreciate landscaping again. Who knows?

Happy Friday, friends.