Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Can You Say "Waffles?"

In an effort to find something different than cereal for Olivia’s breakfast, I thought I might try making waffles. Frozen waffles just don’t sit right with me. I can never get them toasted or heated just right. Plus I think they taste like the cardboard box in which they live.

I have tried several batter recipes – from plain pancake-type batter to completely all-wheat flour, and I’ve finally tweaked one enough to be really satisfied with it.

Maybe you can try it, too. If you do, let me know what you think.

Whole Grain Waffles

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup oats (quick-cooking or old-fashioned work equally well – I used old-fashioned)
2 Tablespoons baking powder
2 Tablespoons sugar (I used Splenda)
3 cups milk (I used 1%)
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
2 eggs, lightly beaten (1 egg or egg substitute would probably suffice)

Optional: 1 ½ - 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (if using frozen, thaw and drain well)

Heat waffle iron. Spray lightly with non-stick cooking spray.

Mix together dry ingredients (first five ingredients) in a large bowl.

In another bowl, mix together wet ingredients (balance of ingredients).

Add wet mixture to dry mixture.

Stir until large lumps are moistened. Do not overmix.

Pour waffle batter into center of waffle iron. I have a Belgian-style waffle iron and used a ladle to pour the batter into the center of the well. My ladle holds about ½ cup, and I used a heaping amount.

If you are using blueberries, sprinkle them across the top of the batter before closing the lid. If not, just go ahead and close.

Close the lid and bake 3 to 5 minutes, or until steam no longer escapes from the edge of the waffle iron. Serve immediately.

If you are preparing waffles to freeze for future use, let them cool completely before storing in zipper freezer bags.

To reheat, simply put them in a toaster oven or reheat in the microwave. I usually heat mine in the microwave for about 45 seconds to 1 minute.

This recipe makes 7 Belgian-size waffles.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Changes Can Be Good, Right?

I’m nervous.

Today marks the beginning of a new era for me. I am uncertain what the days ahead hold, and I don’t know how to respond to the changes.

Do I continue on with my days as normal?

Do I look for new tasks to busy myself?

Do I seek outside distractions?

What, you may ask, could cause such disruption in my normal routine?

I will tell you.

After nearly twelve years of being alone daily as a stay-at-home-mom, my dear husband Steve is coming home to work.

Actually, last week was his first official week with no office in town, but he was away for a few days at a sales meeting, so that really didn’t count.

Am I justified in being nervous? I don’t know. I will admit, however, this event has forced me to do some soul-searching.

I am concerned that I have taken for granted the blessing of being home daily. I have done all that needs to be done, but have I gone over and above what is expected? I must honestly confess I have not.

At first when Olivia was very young and in lower school grades, I was busy at home, school and church. But as she has gotten older the requests for volunteers have lessened, and I have found myself not as challenged with activities. Nor have I looked for more opportunities. That’s where I have fallen.

Just like with money, I believe the Lord expects us to be good stewards of our time. In that area, I have failed him many times.

But thanks be to God, He gives us new opportunities each and every day -- hence the title of my blog, which is based on Lamentations 3:22,23:
Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
It’s never too late to begin again.

So today I intend to go forth and be productive. I want to be a good steward of my time, first for my Lord and also for my husband.

I will keep you posted on how things progress.

Meal Plan

We are still eating little-to-no meat. I had intended to bake a chicken yesterday, however, due to some changes in our weekly schedule, that meal has been pushed to another day this week.

Monday – Pecan crusted tilapia, slaw, steamed broccoli, rice pilaf

Tuesday – Baked or rotisserie chicken, parsley potatoes, green beans

Wednesday – Leftover bean soup, cornbread, salad

Thursday – Spinach lasagna, salad

Friday – Out

Saturday & Sunday – May possibly be out of town, so no plan at this time

I intend to do some “freeze-ahead” cooking this week. On my list of things is waffles, spaghetti sauce and calzones. My goal is to share with you my waffle recipe.

Have a great week!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Great Expectations

After nearly two-and-one-half years of searching, we are now attending a church where we feel we can not only grow spiritually through the teaching of the Word, but also through serving. The clincher is that it is a large church. A very large church.

It is intimidating, to say the least, to walk into such a place and feel secure. It would be quite easy to get lost in the crowd. But that’s not what we’re longing for. We want and need a place to serve, and we need acceptance and relationships. The only way any of those things is going to happen is if we step out on a limb.

I made my plunge last night, and I can’t tell you how excited I am!

I registered for a community care group geared specifically toward women. The initial gathering of all who registered was last night. Since registering, I prayed that God would hand-pick the women with whom I would be joined.

Mornings are my time of choice for meeting. Since my family is gone during the day, this is the time that least affects them.

Can you believe there were only ten women who wanted to meet during the day?

Can you believe all ten women are in a geographic area that is relatively convenient for all to travel?

Can you believe that after being together for just a short while, it felt as if we had been friends for a long time?

Isn’t that just how God works?

What’s even more amazing is that this is not a group that someone would say logically goes together. The age range is from mid-20’s to late 60’s. Some are married. Some are single. Some have young children. Some have grandchildren. Some are trying to have children. Some work. Some don’t.

As I was leaving and thanking God for such a beautiful experience, I was reminded of this scripture in Romans 12:4-8:
Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
Each woman in the group has different gifts and needs. I am convinced that each woman has a gift that will meet the need of another. God truly answered the prayer I prayed.

He’s just good that way.

I can’t wait to see how God is going to work in this gathering. We will meet weekly for seven weeks. If we so desire we can continue on together.

It’s an exciting time for sure. I can’t remember the last time I felt so much positive anticipation and expectation. It’s a welcome feeling.

My prayer for you today is that something in your own life gives you the same feeling. And if it's not there already, then I pray God will place something there for you.

Thanks for visiting!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Heartache For Haiti

My heart hurts for the people of Haiti. I feel helpless when I see images on television and in the newspaper. Every survivor of this natural disaster has undoubtedly been affected in some tragic way.

But you know, what’s strange is that my faith in Americans as a whole is being restored a bit.

I am thankful for once that all our attention is not focused on healthcare reform and economic crises.

I am thankful that we are looking for ways to help others instead of focusing on our own problems.

I am thankful the pot is being stirred, and we are paying attention.

I am thankful we still have the ability to show compassion.

I am thankful we are doing something that has eternal value.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

James 1:27

So for today and in the days following I will pray for the people of Haiti and for those who are ministering to their physical, emotional and spiritual needs. I will pray for their healing. And I will pray for those who don’t know the love of Christ to see it displayed in a mighty way.

Menu Plan

Steve is leaving to go out of town Tuesday and will not return until Thursday evening. So I am off the hook for major meals three nights in a row. I will miss him, but I appreciate an opportunity to be free from the kitchen for a few nights. You will notice I intend to incorporate some meat back into our diet with chicken for Sunday’s meal.

Monday – Spaghetti with marinara sauce, salad, bread

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday – Raid the refrigerator for leftovers

Friday – Veggie Pizza

Saturday – Bean soup, cornbread

Sunday – Roast chicken, parsley potatoes, green beans, bread

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, January 15, 2010

I'll try anything once ...

... as long as it doesn’t potentially cause pain or death. No one ever accused me of being a daredevil. But I do love the challenge of trying to create something I might otherwise be required to buy.

Do you like granola? My family does. We enjoy it as cereal, snack bars and in trail mix.

I recently became aware that people actually make their own granola. Since it is a bit pricey at the store, I thought I would try making it myself. Most recipes I found called for baking the granola in a slow oven, but I also found a recipe using a slow cooker. That caught my attention, so I decided to try it.

I’ll tell you how to make it, and then I’ll share our review.

Slow Cooker Granola

5 cups old-fashioned (rolled) oats
¼ cup butter or oil
½ cup honey
1 Tablespoon ground flaxseed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup dried fruit
¼ cup unsweetened coconut

Assemble your ingredients.

Pour in the oats, oil, honey, flaxseed, cinnamon and almonds. Mix well.

Vent the lid slightly using a small object. I used a metal skewer. This prevents moisture from building up inside the slow cooker and causing mushy granola.

Turn the slow cooker on high, and cook for 3-4 hours, stirring often to prevent burning. (I set a timer to stir every 15 minutes.)

Add your fruit and coconut about 30 minutes toward the end of the cooking time.

When the granola is toasty enough for your standards, pour it out to cool. Store in an airtight container. Since this is my first time making it, I don't know how long it will keep. We'll probably eat it before that will be a concern.


This is a versatile recipe. You can substitute the fruit and nuts. I used dried cranberries and raisins. Ground flaxseed isn’t necessary. I thought I had some from a previous bread recipe, but I didn’t. I don’t know that it would make that much of a difference in taste or texture.

Everything I read indicated the proportions of oil and honey called for would make this more of a cereal-type granola. If you want clumpy granola, you need to at least double the oil and honey, which I did. Maybe I did something wrong, but my granola still turned out like cereal.

The slow cooker I used cooks hotter than the other two I own, so I ended up cooking my granola longer than was necessary. The result was that it was toastier (but not burned) than I would have liked. Next time I'll watch the color more than I'll watch the clock.

However, the granola tasted good and had a good crunch. My family thought it was good, too. And if my sometimes picky husband ate it for breakfast, it can’t be too bad.

Is this an economical recipe? For me, yes. Because I cook from scratch, I keep a well-stocked pantry. So I had all the ingredients on-hand. If you had to go buy all the ingredients just to make the granola, I think you’d be better off just buying it.

The good thing is, if you choose to buy all the ingredients, you can easily find them at discount grocery stores. The flaxseed may be a bit more difficult to find, but I think I have seen it at Wal-Mart. And I buy honey at Big Lots, Aldi or Save-A-Lot. It costs much less than at the regular grocery for the same size bottle.

If you try it, let me know what you think.

Thanks for visiting! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Song To Share

A couple of days ago, while going through some CD's, I came across one I hadn't listened to for a while. I am so happy I chose to play it as background music while I worked in the house.

The following song is the last selection on Fernando Ortega's CD "Breaking Of The Dawn." It is called "Jesus, King Of Angels" and is a prayer that is all-encompassing. I found it to be such a comfort, and I hope you do, as well.

Jesus, King Of Angels

Jesus, King of angels, heaven's light,
Shine Your face upon this house tonight.
Let no evil come into my dreams;
Light of heaven, keep me in Your peace.

Remind me how You made dark spirits flee,
And spoke Your power to the raging sea.
And spoke Your mercy to a sinful man;
Remind me, Jesus, this is what I am.

The universe is vast beyond the stars,
But You are mindful when the sparrow falls,
And mindful of the anxious thoughts
That find me, surround me, and bind me . . . .

With all my heart I love You, Sovereign Lord.
Tomorrow, let me love You even more.
And rise to speak the goodness of Your name
Until I close my eyes and sleep again.

The universe is vast beyond the stars,
But You are mindful when the sparrow falls,
And mindful of the anxious thoughts
That find me, surround me, and bind me . . . .

Jesus, King of angels, heaven's light,
Hold my hand and keep me through this night.
Words and music by Fernando Ortega

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I'm A Princess!

While organizing and sorting some wrapping supplies yesterday, I came across this little bag:

Someone gave Olivia a gift in this bag several years ago, and it’s still in my stash. Maybe that’s because every time I see it, I am reminded of something special.

I am a child of The King.

As a little girl (even as a grown woman) I loved tales of princesses. They were always beautiful outside and in. They were loved by the majority of people. Some, like Snow White, were princesses from a young age and met obstacles on the course to their true love. Others, like Cinderella, encountered trouble before meeting their true love and becoming a princess.

But me? I am a princess because I said “Yes” to the King. He pursued me. He laid down His life for me. He offered His hand, and I took it.

Now my responsibility is to serve and honor Him.

How can I do that? Did you happen to read my entry from yesterday? It goes along quite well with this thought. I must practice three things: justice, mercy and humility. All three are admirable traits in royalty. Isn’t it what you envision when you think of a king, queen, prince or princess?

So for now, I think I’ll just leave the little bag with all the others. It’s nice to be reminded of something special about myself once in a while. It causes me hold my head a little higher, square my shoulders and puts a little spring in my step.

And you? If you’ve taken His hand, you can hold your head high, too. You’re a princess just like me.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Recap of Last Week, Menu Plan Monday & Thought For Today

We did it! We were able to go one week without meat! For dinner, that is. My dear husband “forgot” a couple of days and had grilled chicken (either in sandwich or salad form) a couple of days.

Here’s a recap and review of what we ate:

Monday – The spinach lasagna went over well. There was enough left over for another full meal.

Tuesday – Big thumbs down to the “Sweet and Spicy Stuffed Peppers” recipe. We ate it, but we didn’t enjoy it. And we won’t be doing it again.

Wednesday – We flip-flopped Wednesday and Thursday, so we had salmon croquettes. Instead of spinach and orzo, we had green beans and steamed corn. Salmon croquettes are always a big hit.

Thursday – The bean and cheese burritos were good. I tried my hand at making refried beans from scratch using some frozen leftover pinto beans. I also tried making the tortillas from scratch using a recipe I found here. Tortillas, like biscuits, are something you must make repeatedly in order to get them “right.” I cooked mine a bit too long, and they were chewy. Still they were edible. The Mexican rice would have been great if not made with brown rice. We are still having to adapt to that texture.

Friday – It was so cold and yucky that we stayed in Friday night and ate the leftover spinach lasagna. I added a salad and bread.

Saturday – We also flip-flopped the Saturday and Sunday menus. The veggie pizza was good. I made the crust with half whole-wheat flour.

Sunday – We enjoyed the crockpot black bean chili. If you’re interested in trying it, the recipe is here.

All in all, I think we had a successful week, excluding the stuffed peppers. We are going to try another week of meatless meals.

Here is the plan:

Monday – Pecan crusted tilapia (recipe here), steamed broccoli, rice pilaf

Tuesday – Baked macaroni and cheese, cooked carrots, mustard greens

Wednesday (New Recipe Night) – Rapini (broccoli rabe) with orzo and sun-dried tomatoes, salad, bread

Thursday – Baked red beans and rice, slaw

Friday – Out

Saturday – Corn chowder, cornbread, salad

Sunday – Whole Wheat Veggie Calzones, Salad

Thought For The Day

Part of my reading this morning included this verse:
He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8
This was God’s response to Micah’s question whether sacrifices and burnt offerings were sufficient for covering sin.

Doesn’t it sound simple?

After I read this and finished my morning meditation, I was feeling equipped to face the day. I was excited to share with you the words I found. But lo and behold, I let an incident trip me, and in my response to it I failed horribly. I won’t go into details, but suffice it to say it was as if I had never seen the words from Micah before in my life let alone just a few minutes prior.

I was so utterly disappointed with myself, that I decided not to share with you. I felt hypocritical and ugly. How could I offer hope and inspiration if I can’t even put into practice the things I share?

But as some time passed, the words from Micah kept going over and over in my mind. Sure, it would have been better if I had responded well to the incident. But I didn’t. Now I needed to repent of my behavior (act justly), forgive for the behavior of others (love mercy) and then I could be back on the correct path (walk humbly with your God).

So I will say this. The thoughts I offer to you are not sermons. They are things I am learning. Maybe, just maybe, if I’m transparent you can glean something from them, too.

Thank you for visiting today. I hope your day is filled with blessings.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Have You Ever Been Humbled?

I had something in mind for today, but after reading a fellow blogger's post, I thought what she had to say was much more important. Please take the time to read Jana's story at The Meanest Mom.

The Meanest Mom

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you have a great Friday!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Changes, Changes

I told you earlier in the week how we are trying to go a week without meat. Trying to eat healthier is the reason, but it’s not the catalyst.

In November I had a physical, the first one I’ve had in years. Needless to say I was terrified at what I would learn. The doctor I chose was recommended by a friend. She must be good – it took six months to get a “new patient” appointment.

Everything went surprisingly well. Two negatives were my blood pressure was “high-normal,” and my total cholesterol was five points above normal. Just five points? I was elated!

Doctor asked me to lose eight pounds by the next time I see her at the beginning of March. She said that should help take care of the blood pressure issue.

But the cholesterol issue is a different story. Exercise alone or even combined with smaller portions is not enough to change that. I must change “what” I eat. More whole grains. More fruits and leafy green vegetables. That’s okay. I love those things.

So I decided maybe I could cook with whole wheat flour. Mixed half and half with white flour, it’s not that different. But used alone, let me tell you, it’s an acquired taste.

School was canceled this morning due to snow. I thought I would be a “good” mom and make something nice and warm for breakfast. Waffles sounded tasty.

Remembering a recipe I recently saw for whole wheat waffles, I decided to give it a try. Crystal at Money Saving Mom uses whole wheat flour in many of her recipes (and she even grinds her own wheat). I used her recipe, which you can find here.

The waffles were amazingly light. Olivia liked them and said she would eat them if I froze some to have on hand for a quick breakfast. All in all, they were good. Not like regular waffles, but good. I was pleasantly surprised.

Maybe it was the butter and syrup.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


I know you have tossed a pebble into a body of water, whether it be a puddle, pond or a lake. The ripples start at the point of impact and move outward to the boundaries of the water. It’s interesting to see how far they travel.

And I know you have heard of the term “ripple effect.” Webster’s defines it as:

A spreading, pervasive, and usually unintentional effect or influence.

Webster’s uses industry as its example. How familiar is that in today’s world? A business shuts down. People lose jobs. Families have no money to spend on wants and sometimes needs. Their personal lives suffer. The local economy is impacted negatively. And on and on it goes.

The way I respond to any given situation also has a ripple effect. It can be negative or positive. If someone spills or breaks something here at home, what good is scolding or complaining? It makes me feel bad, and it makes the person who had the accident feel bad. Then they (or all of us) may scold the dog. We may do a less-than-adequate job on a task at-hand. We may be argumentative with each other the remainder of the day. The spill or break is not undone, and everyone feels terrible.

(Have you ever heard the saying, “If Mama’s not happy, nobody’s happy?”)

Lord, please forgive me, for worse than anything, my witness for You is now tarnished.

If I respond in a positive manner in the same situation, the mood of the house may change for the good. “Hey, Mom didn’t get upset about the broken/spilled whatever!” No one feels bad or hurt at me. Pleasant words are exchanged. Peace is maintained. And maybe, just maybe, the joy monitor in the house jumps just a bit.

In James 1:19-20, we read:

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

I am in awe of people who hear something and take time to respond. What Godly examples they are.

Yesterday I spoke of some personal goals for 2010. One I did not mention was that I want to live each day as if it is my last. I don’t want to take part in brave and daring activities or “boldly go where no man has gone before.”

My hope and prayer is simply that I can lie down to sleep each night in peace and with no regrets from the day.

Lord, please remind me to listen first and speak later. Remind me, Lord, that my anger is not what you desire. Please let my words and actions have ripples that are positive and far-reaching … for Your Glory.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Resolutions & Goals

I learned many years ago not to make New Year’s resolutions. Why set myself up for failure? A resolution seems more like a promise. A goal is something at which to aim.

At the beginning of 2009, I set the goal of reading through the Bible using a daily reading plan. I fell off the wagon a few times, but each time I jumped back on. When 2009 came to an end last week, I had almost reached my goal, lacking only the minor prophets of the Old Testament (beginning with Amos) and the book of Revelation beginning with chapter four. I am thrilled I made it that far and intend to finish in straight shots of reading.

This year I intend to read through again, but this time I will try a chronological reading plan. I found a printable plan here. Hopefully I will remain consistent in my daily reading and will make it through by year’s end.

Another goal I have for myself is to make at least one freezer meal or ingredient per week (for use at another time). I can do this by doubling a recipe when I am preparing dinner, or I can put something on to cook in the morning (like brown rice or beans). This past fall I learned by way of a near-catastrophe just how handy prepared-ahead foods can be.

One day I went to the deep freeze to retrieve something and discovered with horror that the freezer door had not closed completely on my last visit. My best guess was that it had been open about two days. Nothing had thawed completely, but most everything was on its way to being thawed.

After crying, panicking and calling my mother for support, I decided the best thing I could do was to cook all the meat that had begun to thaw. All day long I cooked. I browned ground beef. I sliced round steak into strips and browned it. I boiled chicken breasts and chopped them up. I cooked a whole turkey (and gave one away to a dear family). All of this I packaged into quart bags (about 2 cups of meat per each bag for our family of three). I even saved the broth from the cooked chicken.

I can’t tell you how much of a blessing that catastrophe turned out to be. There have been many days since that I have been able to throw together a quick meal with one of the already-prepared meats. You can throw frozen cooked meat directly into a pan with other ingredients. It’s a great time-saver.

So now I intend to make a habit of having foods or ingredients prepared ahead of time. Why didn’t I do this when I was a working mom?

There are many other goals I have for myself that I will share in days ahead.

How about you? Do you have goals for the new year? Do you care to share? I’d love to hear them. Maybe you have something in mind that would be a good idea for me, too.

Thanks for stopping in today. It’s been a great joy to share time with you.


By the way, the spinach lasagna I made for dinner last night was a big hit. I made the sauce from scratch and had enough left over for two additional meals. (This week’s goal met already – woo hoo!) I bagged it in quart-size bags and put it in the deep freeze.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy New Year

Hi friends! Here in north central Kentucky it is sunny and cold (currently 18°F). We are enjoying our last day of freedom from the alarm clock, as school begins tomorrow. It has been so nice to not be enslaved by that dreadful thing for the past two weeks.

If you have read along with me in the past, I apologize for my long absence. If you are joining me for the first time, welcome. I hope anyone who visits will find a reason to return.

My goal for this blog is for it to be a gathering place – a place where you feel as if you’ve had a nice visit with someone. I want to share thoughts and ideas about spiritual issues, crafts, cooking, frugality, family – anything. And I want you to feel free to comment and add your own ideas to the mix.

At this point the only thing I intend to post on a regular basis is my Monday meal plan. As time progresses, I may add other regular posts, but for now we’ll just ride the wave.

In an attempt to try to eat healthier, my family and I are going to eliminate meat from our diet for one week. Originally we were going to try one month, but that seemed a bit daunting to the cook (a/k/a me). Since fish has great health values, we are going to include it, and we are going to keep dairy. (I just read that the term for this type of eating is called "flexitarian.")

I found a vegetarian cookbook at a discount store that has some very interesting recipes. I also have been researching ideas online. People can be quite creative.

Here is my meal plan for this week:

Monday – Spinach Lasagna, salad, bread machine rolls (made with ½ whole wheat flour)

Tuesday – Sweet and spicy stuffed peppers (crockpot recipe), steamed broccoli, fruit salad

Wednesday – Bean and cheese burritos, Mexican rice

Thursday – Salmon croquettes (amazing recipe here), orzo, sauteed spinach w/garlic and balsamic vinegar

Friday – Out

Saturday – Black bean chili, homemade tortilla chips

Sunday – Veggie pizza

I will keep you informed of the homefront reviews.

Thanks for stopping by! Have a blessed day!