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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Instant Coffee

I keep instant coffee in my pantry. Perhaps it's adding insult to injury to tell you it's decaf, too. But as I'm the only {occasional} coffee drinker in our home, sometimes it's too much to get the coffee pot out and sometimes the full caffeine of regular beans makes me all kind of jittery and sweaty and keeps me from sleeping at night -- even when the cup of joe was had at 8am. It's not always worth it.

But the real reason for the instant coffee is nostalgia.

My Granny and Grandaddy are the only people I have ever known who would drink instant coffee quite happily and regularly. The aroma shouts breakfasts at their house - perhaps accompanied with poptarts or doughnuts (we always felt like we were eating well at their house, always the best snacks like sugar wafers and little cups of Blue Bell ice cream). Instant coffee to go along with rounds of Skip-Bo or less often Rummikub or Trianamos, and perhaps a bite size 3 Musketeer midway through the game.
Grandaddy always said Granny would beat him again. He liked to tease from the underdog position, and then would all of the sudden win the game while you weren't looking. Not always, of course, for Skip-bo was one of those games that didn't require any skill and it was just a matter of how the cards fell out. We all stood just as good a chance at winning as the most experienced players, and play we did.

Jolly games around their kitchen table make up a large part of my memories at my grandparent's home. And instant coffee is how it smells.

{I might add that they have recently gotten a Keurig, and are not drinking instant anymore. I don't know what to do with this information, and am choosing to ignore it for all intents and purposes. }


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

{Sycamore Bakes} Honey Oat Bread and a fresh smoothie

The last few weeks (months, maybe), I've had a craving for some hearty brown bread. The girls and I read Heidi in early January, and since then some nice whole-grain, dark bread has been on my mind. I really haven't felt like even attempting to make bread for several weeks {baby-induced exhaustion!}, but yesterday we found a recipe that seemed to fit the bill and piled into the kitchen. I say, "piled" because the effort took place with a baby on my hip and children on chairs trying to each get plenty of opportunity to add ingredients and stir. All the while the constant phrase, "what am I supposed to do next" running through my foggy mind.
It wasn't pretty, but we did it. I couldn't even find my loaf pan - almost laughable, I tell you.

Our recipe for Gluten Free Honey Oat Bread came from Yammie's Gluten Freedom. I so appreciate the people out there who develop great recipes, because I haven't got time for all that!

Gluten-free Honey Oat Bread 

3 1/3 cups oat flour (or 4 cups of gluten-free oats plus more for the top)
2 scant tablespoons yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup corn starch (or tapioca flour)
1/2 cup rice flour (white or sweet white rice flour. Brown rice would probably work to but I haven't tried that yet)
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
4 eggs

If you're using whole oats, blend them in the food processor until they're pretty fine (as fine as you can get them). Meanwhile combine the yeast and water and let sit for a few minutes. Add the oil, honey, starch, flour, xanthan gum, and oats and beat until combined. Add the salt, cinnamon, and eggs. Beat for a few minutes until fluffy. Pour into a well greased 10 inch loaf pan and allow to rise for about 45 minutes until doubled. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350ºF. Sprinkle the top of the risen loaf with some more oats and cut a few slits in the top with a serrated knife. Bake for about 45 minutes. Allow to cool before cutting.
I love using oat flour because, hello- economical! I also used brown rice flour and was short of honey so I used molasses for the majority of the sweetener.

Ours turned out great. Hearty and wholesome tasting, although perhaps a smidge too sweet. Next time I might add a little more salt to the dough.


I've also had an idea for a smoothie growing in my mind lately. I haven't been on a smoothie kick, and so didn't have too many ingredients to choose from...but gathering what was on hand, it turned out very nice with a bit of a zing! :)
We put a few handfuls of spinach in the blender along with a little hunk of fresh, peeled ginger, and some cilantro leaves - along with a little lemon juice and some coconut milk to blend thoroughly. Then we dumped some frozen blueberries and maple syrup. Blend till smooth.

I get weary of the fruit & veg smoothies, and I really like the heightened flavor with ginger and cilantro.
I especially like getting spinach into Adele who isn't inclined to eat it, ever.


On a side note, dear Emery hung curtains in our room this weekend, and they look so nice. It feels like we have a cozy, luxurious room now. Love it! Thanks to Susanna for alerting me to the sale at Target on curtain panels! <3

Saturday, February 20, 2016

A rare moment.

Emery just walked out the door with all three children. They're headed to the hardwork store (the hardware store, that is). Of course, he at first said he'd just go by himself and I volunteered him a clingy baby - who was making it impossible to chop an onion - and then the cascades of "I want to go!" And now they are gone.

I am by myself.

Whoa. Is this the twilight zone?
(doo-doo-doo-doo)

What should I do?
Eat chocolate? Take a bath? Paint my toenails? -- that's a good one! I've been trying to get my toes painted for MONTHS. Why is it so hard? (because of the people, of course).

Maybe I'll just savor the silence.
I could wash the dishes, but where's the fun in that?

Perhaps if I had more moments like this, I'd be a more rested, productive mama. But I'd rather take my silent moments at night time and soak up some sleep! That sleep thing is the main reason I'm not over-zealous nor over-productive.

Last night was even less sleep filled than usual. I lay there thinking and thinking. The homeschoolers are performing a play next month, "Ants'Hillvania". It's thoroughly cute, and we mothers - aka Costume Mistresses -had been trying to think up a good way to make a flower petal headdress for our little flowers.
So last night, I just thought and thought about how to make these headdresses, and by this morning I was certain that I knew how to do it and WANTED to get.it.done. I went off to Michael's this morning for the deco mesh and ribbon (and a few extras in the buggy because I had ideas). The flower petals are cute and fluffy -- but kind of itchy, I'm really not sure how well it'll fly. But I did it, regardless of whether they get used or not. And then those "extras" turned into my first deco mesh wreath and door monogram -- whoop! whoop!

I am not super crafty. But I do like to add beauty (on a budget), and to make some little details of this house myself enamors me all the more to this home of ours. 


 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Impulsive

I used to be a "planner."
You might say I'm a recovering planner. Life felt secure if I knew what was going on and when and for how long and what would be next. Which is pretty similar to saying, I felt calm and confident if I was in control. And God has had some things to teach me about who is really piloting the ship, especially in the last ten years.
So while it's been frustrating and agonizing to let go of those reins, it has also been very freeing to simply trust the Lord to take care of you.
He loves his children! He's going to take care of them!

Anyway, my former self would have had things planned. And my current self, oh boy, I fly by the seat of my pants, as it were. Perhaps it's due to that survival mode I've been talking about recently, but we just take things as they come and run with them.

{I KNOW I ought to plan more, and I have been working on getting things a little more organized, like in the meal planning department...but other areas are free and easy....}

Yesterday, we started potty training Adele. Yes, doing this was one of my New Year's goals, but I didn't expect to start before her birthday. She went on the potty before her bath, and we've just ran with it, setting the potty timer and having a little container of potty prizes. Adele is doing great, really and truly, and it's been more encouraging than discouraging, but I still can't believe we're doing this right now. My brain felt like complete sludge yesterday. I was SO tired. I do feel better today, but I know one thing, if I had been "planning" to start her on the potty, I wouldn't have. "Nope, not today. No way on earth I can train her today," I would have said - and probably not gotten around to it for several more weeks.

It's not just potty training. It's play-dates or inviting dinner guests -- I usually don't have anything scheduled until the day of. And I don't mind life this way. I do love having someone scheduled to come over, and having time for more thorough clean-up (my house needs us to have guests every so often!), but those are much more rare events.

I'm thankful God has been working on me. I'm thankful to be okay with 'holding on loosely' and to enjoy the spontaneity that characterizes our life.
I love this life.

PS: today Hattie was playing "birthday party" in which she didn't receive the kind of cake she wanted (blueberry instead of peppermint), and then she went to lament this in her room, quite loudly. When she came out all blotchy-faced, she said she was just crying for pretend, and everything was really alright.
I think she'll do pretty well in the upcoming play{Ants'Hillvania}. She's got the drama.
PPS: My hands are so dry, if I had any sanding to do, I wouldn't need sand paper. Come on Spring.



Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Snowed in

I'm sure there are some people snowed in now. We aren't included, thankfully. It would be pandemonium in this part of the country if anything in the realm of needing snow-plows occurred. We are not prepared for that kind of event!

But we are delighted to have gotten to witness a few flurries today. You wouldn't know it by looking out now, but we did watch the snow fall for a few minutes, and as per tradition, we made our hot chocolate.  :)

Adele still has some residual chocolate on her forehead. I never cease to be amazed at how she gets food on her forehead. You would think it would be altogether too far from her mouth, but no.


-----

I've been thinking about balance and survival mode a good bit in recent weeks. I have a negative connotation associated with survival mode...because I'm a perfectionist in some regards, and expect too much of myself. But I've decided to embrace survival mode. I AM HAPPY TO BE SURVIVING. I can get the basics taken care of at home, and I can't handle adding anything else in right now. Someday all my littles won't be under five years old. Someday I'll be sleeping like a regular person rather than a mombie, but not today.
I am not going to feel like I'm failing because things are being left undone at the end of the day.
I am not going to stress over toys in the floor.
I AM going to enjoy spending time with my children. These days are too fleeting to spend them beating myself up (or comparing myself to other moms who seem to have their act blissfully together).
These days are a gift.
Thank you, Lord, for my messy house and happy, healthy children.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

9 months...

So, Elijah up and turned 9 months old a few days ago. {How is this even possible?!?} And pretty much from that point on, he decided it was time to tackle table food. So he's been trying little bits of most everything with very few sour faces or gagging issues like he used to...these are exciting changes for our little man!
I think the solid food staying in his tummy longer has helped his sleeping at night, too. He'd gotten pretty used to waking up way too often to nurse, maybe he really was hungry.

Emery's working late tonight. When night time roles around and daddy's not home, my only response is "let's go to bed!" Of course, I don't say that out loud, for such would invoke wailing and gnashing of teeth, but I'll quietly clean up the dinner things, give baths, brush teeth, and then an "okay! time for bed"..... it's 7pm....I'm not mentioning it. (Hattie often likes to know whether it's 8pm or not so she'll know whether she's going to bed on time, but she didn't ask and I didn't tell.)

It was about 75 degrees here on Tuesday, and we were outside loving it, but the problem is that once the weather decides to be normal winter temperatures (anything under 60), it feels so much coooolder after that one warm day. Boo. I think I'd rather be well adjusted to the season than enjoy one blissful day and be all the more cold afterward.