Archives for December 2012

Giveaway: ‘Seeing the Everyday’ & ‘When Motherhood Feels Too Hard’

John has been hard at work installing a new floor in my kitchen, and it’s such a huge improvement over my ancient vinyl that I can barely tear my eyes off it.  Here you can see just the first few boards laid out. I’m so excited.  Silly as it sounds, I literally dreamed about it last night.   I’ll tell and show you more when we get closer to done.

For now, though, I have a double giveaway for you. The first is a copy of a neat new magazine called Seeing the Everyday. Each issue contains photos and essays encouraging folks to see the beauty in ordinary life. Just lovely stuff.

The second giveaway is a book written by Kelly Crawford of Generation Cedar, a blog that I always find encouraging. Her book is equally encouraging and offers devotions, advice and renewal For When Motherhood Feels Too Hard.  Kelly is an experienced Christian momma with lots of good stuff to say, and I found this book to be very worth the read.

I’ll be giving away these two items to one lucky reader on Friday.  To enter the drawing to win both the magazine and the book, just comment below and tell me either how you’ve been encouraged or how you like to encourage other moms when they get bogged down in the hard parts of mothering.  I look forward to hearing your wisdom!

Sunday: Kings and Queens

Lemon Cream Cheese Pancakes (GF)


My friend Hannah Hagerty from Cultivating Home shared this wonderful gluten free recipe on facebook the other day.

 

Lemon Cream Cheese Pancakes (gluten free recipe)

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Yield: Serves 6-8 people

Lemon Cream Cheese Pancakes (gluten free recipe)

Ingredients

    Wet Ingredients
  • 1 brick cream cheese (8 ounces)
  • 1 c.sugar
  • 1 c. yogurt
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 4 T. coconut oil (melted)
  • 1/2 c. lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 c. milk
  • Dry Ingredients
  • 2 t. baking soda
  • 2 T. baking powder
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2 c. brown rice flour
  • 1 c. tapioca or potato starch

Instructions

  1. Turn on your electric skillet to heat up to about 375 degrees. I like to butter my skillet to get a nice brown crunch on the pancakes, but cooking spray works fine too.
  2. Begin by creaming together cream cheese, sugar, yogurt, and egg yolks. Set aside egg whites to add later.
  3. To the cream cheese mixture add coconut oil (melted), lemon juice, and milk. Stir together.
  4. In a separate bowl combine all dry ingredients.
  5. When flour mixture is evenly combined, combine with cream cheese mixture in the larger bowl, stirring til just combined.
  6. Finally, beat egg whites till soft peaks and fold into mixture.
  7. Fry pancakes, serving them hot with butter and syrup as they come off the skillet. Enjoy!
  8. For more affordable recipes, check out Mary's cookbook Family Feasts for $75 a Week
http://owlhaven.net/2012/12/28/lemon-cream-cheese-pancakes-gluten-free-recipe/

 

 

 

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Our Christmas


Here are some pictures from our Christmas, in no particular order. You might notice an Ipad in a picture or two, featuring my sister Sophie. She’s currently doing medical mission work in Africa, and was able to Skype in to our celebration. Not as good as having her here, but much better than not seeing her at all. I’m afraid we might have given her motion sickness carrying her all around the room, trying to bring her into the midst of the party. We had a really good past few days. I hope you did too! (As usual, you can click on each photo to see it in a larger size.)

All that’s left is the waiting

Born is the King

This is such a fun video!

Stuffed French Toast Strata (Christmas breakfast recipe)

I’m bringing this recipe forward from 2006 for folks who may not have seen it yet.  We still make it on Christmas Eve morning every year!


Here’s our traditional Christmas breakfast. I love that we can make it the night before and just stick it in the oven in the morning! It can be made egg-free, by adding a little more milk instead of the eggs. If you need it to be gluten free, just cube up a loaf of gluten-free bread instead of french bread.

Stuffed French Toast Strata (Christmas breakfast recipe)

Stuffed French Toast Strata (Christmas breakfast recipe)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of French bread
  • 8 ounce package cream cheese, cubed
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Cut French bread loaf into cubes (about 12 cups bread cubes). Grease a 13x9 inch baking pan. In the prepared pan place half of the bread cubes. Top with the cream cheese cubes and then the remaining bread cubes.
  2. Whisk together eggs, milk, melted butter, maple syrup and cinnamon until well combined. Pour the egg mixture evenly over bread and cheese cubes. Using a spatula, slightly press layers down to moisten.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 to 24 hours. Remove plastic wrap and bake in a 325 degree oven for 40-45 minutes or until the center appears to be set and the eggs are golden. Let stand for 10 minutes. Makes 6-8 servings.
  4. Note: If you'd like to make this with blueberries, just sprinkle a cup or two of berries on top of the cubed cream cheese and serve with blueberry syrup.
    For more affordable recipes, check out Mary's cookbook Family Feasts for $75 a Week
http://owlhaven.net/2012/12/19/great-christmas-breakfast-stuffed-french-toast-strata/

 

Here’s a video of me making this recipe for ParentsTV a few years back.  Begin around 2:30 to jump straight to the recipe tutorial.

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Preparing for the big day

I might be scarce over the next few days as I enjoy vacation with my family and do some last minute things. But I wanted to share a few things with you.

First of all, the winner of ‘The Sparkle Box‘ is commenter #22, Robin. Send me your address, and we’ll see if we can get that book to you before Christmas!

Next, I saw this lovely fruit arrangement and am wondering if possibly the girls and I could pull it off for at least one of our family gatherings. Isn’t it great??

 

Another project that I’ll be trying over the next few days is this lovely gluten free chocolate cake. Think there’s any chance I could sub coconut oil instead of butter so it would work for my dairy-free sisters? I’ll give it a shot.

 

And finally, I have to share a favorite Christmas song with you. Wonderful, beautiful truth.

“Baby Boy”

If you told me all about your sorrows
I’d tell you about a cure
If you told me you can’t fight the battle
There’s a Baby Boy who won the war
The war was won by a Baby Boy

Alleluia, we can sing it
Alleluia, Heaven’s ringing
Alleluia!
Endless hope and relentless joy started with a Baby Boy

Oh, before that silent night
No Savior and no Jesus Christ
The world cried out so desperately
And the Baby Boy was the reply,
Yes, Heaven’s reply was a baby boy

Alleluia, we can sing it
Alleluia, Heaven’s ringing
Alleluia!
Endless hope and relentless joy started with a Baby Boy

See, the King is coming down
And He’s here without a crown
The Baby Boy without a bed
Giving life back to the dead
And hear the angels shout it out
As the people come and bow.
Unexpected majesty
Alleluia, what a King

Alleluia, we can sing it
Alleluia, Heaven’s ringing
Alleluia!
Endless hope and relentless joy started with a Baby Boy

Alleluia, we can sing it!
Alleluia, yeah, Heaven’s ringing!
Alleluia!
Endless hope and relentless joy started with a Baby Boy

Moments to treasure

;

We’ve had such good, precious moments this weekend.

Sunday morning my heart swelled watching three of our sons help with choruses at church, one on drums and two on guitar. My 14 year old still feels a little awkward up on stage–for all his obsession with the guitar he’s more comfortable behind the scenes. But all three of them truly love music– they’re the type who grab their instruments and play at odd times of the day, just for fun. Music and faith are so important to me– to see that love in the boys too is just the best.

Sunday afternoon all the kids (with grandbabies in tow) came to our house for a meal and a few gifts.  Erika and Israel are spending Christmas with his family this year, so we had the perfect excuse to do some of our celebrating early.

As always, I treasured the time with all our kids here under our roof, older and younger interacting, babies looking around and trying to figure out all the hubbbub. I just couldn’t look at everyone’s faces enough. There are times when some of the adult kids are busy and can’t come to our weekend dinners. I understand that and truly have peace with it. But, when everyone is here, I breathe out and in with an added sense of thanksgiving.

 

Sunday evening was the Christmas program at church.  Our teens mostly had supporting/ helping roles. Since our youngest two are now 8 and 10, their parts were bigger than they’d ever had been before. They did a great job– knew when to come in and go out, enjoyed working together with their friends.

When the tiny kids came out to sing Away in a Manger, complete with rocking-baby and look-up-in-the sky hand motions, I realized it was probably the first year since 1992 or so that we had no one in the tiny-kiddo class.  Our kids are growing. It gave me a little pang, but mostly I felt content. God must be giving me peace about all this growing and changing.  Years ago I thought I’d never be a mom who felt ‘done’ with babies.  But the grandbabies are filling that ‘baby’ space in my heart these days, and when they’re not around, my gangly 8 year old still crawls into my arms. I really am so very content with this stage.

Monday morning I was at Erika and Israel’s house bright and early to drive them to the airport.  They still had a dab of gathering to do, so of course I scooped up little Ranger for a snuggle. I told them only half jokingly that he was actually the reason I’d agreed to drive them to the airport. 🙂 At one point we were snuggled cheek to cheek, with him facing out on my lap so I wasn’t quite able to see his face. Erika came into the room and laughed. She said he had the most smug little contented smile as he sat with his cheek against mine.

“Babies know when people adore them,” I said with a laugh.  And again, that feeling of blessing, rich and warm, wrapped me like a blanket.

Not every moment is good, or easy. This evening John and I got the youngest 6 together for a game of Phase Ten. Cordiality from 14 year olds (we have 3) sometimes feels like a pie-in-the-sky dream. They didn’t want to play games with mom and dad and little sisters. Many unhappy words were mixed in with the game play, lots of stern reminders. And yet we persevered and jollied them up, John and I– me biting back frustration, and John smiling steadily with iron behind his grin. Somehow by the end there were real grins and real laughter, and even the grumpiest ended up feeling cherished, I think.  And that time too, by God’s grace, was anointed with blessing.

Between all the precious golden bits of my life, there are so many hard ones, times full of worry and concern, stress and anxiety. Some days the hard overwhelms me. But when I remember to hold onto the good times, to remember my Savior, and to really see all He has given us, my heart settles back down, gets back to that place of gratitude where balance is so much easier to find.

Never would I say my life is perfect. But oh, we are so blessed.

~~~~
PS– Wanna help a widow raise her children with dignity? Check out the awesome new sponsorship program just launched by Bring Love In.

Giveaway: The Sparkle Box

Sad happenings like the school shooting on Friday can often leave you feeling like there just isn’t enough good in this hard old world.  The book I got in the mail today encouraged me by offering a way to inspire ourselves and our children to spread some light in this world.  The Sparkle Box shows how giving to others is a way we can give Jesus a gift this Christmas.  At a time when many children’s minds are buzzing over gifts that they hope to receive, this book truly has heart-changing potential.

Our little girls enjoyed hearing this story, and especially loved that the storybook comes with a sparkle box of its own.  Once you read the story to your child, you can set the sparkle box under the Christmas tree and work with your kids on spreading light in the world!

To enter to win a copy, comment below and share an idea or two that would bless someone else this Christmas.  For an additional entry,  ‘like’ The Sparkle Box  and/or Owlhaven on facebook.  I’ll be closing this giveaway on Wednesday, so comment away!  Let’s talk about ways we can be lights in a dark world.