Thursday, February 27, 2014

Dark Chocolate Cake

Combine dry ingredients:

2 C flour (sometimes I use whole wheat, its good the first day, dry after that)
1 3/4 C sugar
1 C cocoa
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt

Stir, then add wet ingredients:

1/2 C oil
3 eggs
1 1/3 C water

If you have a mixer let it beat for about 2 minutes.  If you don't, use a whisk and beat it hard as long as your arm holds out :).  If you don't you'll end up with cooked egg bits throughout.  Don't ask me how I know...

Bake in greased pans at 350 degrees about 30 minutes.  If you are doing cupcakes try 15-20 minutes.

My middle-aged faith Crisis

I thank my faith crisis for making me search, making me hunger to seek out light and truth.

 It brought me to Jesus, to learning his teachings and letting go of the things he despised.

It cost me a few friendships, but it opened the door to many richer and more sincere ones.

My faith crisis helped me to like myself, to see my true heart and to embrace THIS mortal life instead of numbing myself while waiting for the next.

I'm grateful to be alive in this messy brutal world and I feel honored to be engaging with weak, struggling people.  There is such beauty in weakness and imperfection.  I'm so grateful my eyes have been opened.

My first instinct when this "crisis" began was to run.  Run from all things related to faith.  I had a lot of anger and pain to discover.  I am thankful for the change, but it could have had a high cost if I hadn't been encouraged to have patience and go through it rather than under or around.

Art by Carl Bloch.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Just Keep Washing

As I mentioned in yesterday's post about living life, not waiting around is the key.  Living each moment authentically, on purpose and towards accomplishing what you are proud of really help (at least me) to be happy.

So how does one do that in a less than ideal living situation?  As the stay at home parent in our family I have found what works the best for me.  And like the movie line "just keep swimming" I find that I need to "just keep washing."

6 people take in a lot of food and dirty a lot of clothes (and house if we're gonna go there).  It is outside my realm of possibility to wait until I have my laundry facilities in the "right" spot to wash our clothes.  I cannot simply stop cooking or cleaning up afterwards because my kitchen is disassembled.  Some people are able to do some version of that if someone else is doing the remodeling and/or it is being done while they live somewhere else.  Oh, I have spent my fair share of time envying those people, but life got better when I stopped.

First of all I must remember that remodeling houses is MY DREAM.  But the thing about dreams is they take the every day dirty work to make happen.  My husband's dirty work is with the power tools and sawdust and mine is mostly with the laundry and dishes.

To be clear I've done whatever remodeling I could take part in.  I love it!  But on a day to day basis while Casey works his day job making a living to support us and to save for the next project, I do my day job keeping life going for all of us.  I'm writing this post to share how I get past the OvErWhelMed part of living in a remodeling project.  I narrow in my focus.  If I can't figure out what to focus on in the chaos I just repeat this mantra:  DISHES and LAUNDRY.  When those are done I can move on to other things, but this is my mantra that keeps life afloat and us ready and energized to keep doing the work that we love.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Living Life

When I share with people how often we have moved and why, I usually get a lot of encouragement that its a great idea.  I find that very few people want themselves to live in a half constructed, sometimes torn apart home, though.  As we have continued to have this opportunity in spite of our attempt to have a new home last, I've learned a few things about what makes it work.

Before I really realized this was going to be a common theme for us I looked at each "project" as a hurdle to get past so life could really start going.  Just like I thought life would start when I could date, or when I got married, or when I graduated college, etc., it was easy to fall into that trap with the places we lived.

Examples are:

When we just have a garage running errands in the winter will be so much better.
When I have a bigger kitchen I'll be able to cook better meals.
When we have nicer carpet it will make more sense to clean on a regular basis.

It took lots of life experiences to learn this is and would never be the case.  Life is RIGHT NOW.  But I think the living situation that finally brought it home is when we moved into a very small townhouse with one bathroom, all of our stuff in boxes, and still many remodeling projects to do to be able to sell it when the temporary time we needed it was up.  There was 6 of us and we knew from the moment we squeezed our stuff in that it was only to be temporary.

I spent more than a few days in denial after we moved in.  I couldn't get to the washing machine through the piled up boxes and bins.  I couldn't walk through the kitchen.  Would we eat out for a few months?  That sounded nice, but after only a few days with six people wearing clothes every day no laundry was NOT going to work.  Eventually I walked away from the computer I was hiding behind and started unpacking and clearing my path.  A load of laundry got started.

A few months later Thanksgiving approached.  It just so happened that we were removing the current kitchen cafeteria tile to replace it with an updated vinyl flooring.  But I bought my turkey and everything else and I tip toed along that sticky subfloor to cook and assemble a lovely turkey meal for my family.  That moment that we enjoyed a festive holiday tradition surrounded by boxes I realized I couldn't keep waiting for life to begin to live it.  And I was proud that I hadn't.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Hummus Guide

After a few tries to get used to it, I've fallen in love with hummus.  I love it on my salads, with the dressing drizzled over.  What really made me love it was eating the Chicken Hummus Spinach power bowl at Panera.  I think its a "secret" menu item now but I tried it because it was so high in protein, 25 grams if I remember right.  If I get the notion (and a food processor) I'd like to try some of these varieties at home.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Today's Thoughts

I've been serially listening to this song in my car while running errands and I finally realized today why a certain set of lyrics kept pounding at my heart whenever I heard it.  I have this kind of relationship not with a specific person but a certain situation.  And say what you will about white rappers, sometimes Eminem just gets me ;).

I can't tell you what it really is
I can only tell you what it feels like
And right now
its a steel knife in my windpipe

I can't breathe
But I still fight when I can fight
As long as the wrong feels right
It's like I'm in flight

P.S. Video probably only appropriate for adults

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Dreadlocks Inpsiration photos

I'm liking my platinum blonde locks for now, but I love the look of really long dreads.  I have no idea if I could pull it off, or if my neck and head are strong enough to carry any weight around since I've had short hair for much of my life.

Anyway, I was discussing it with a friend today so I thought I'd gather some of my favorite inspiration photos:

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Parenting Days

So a lot of days for the stay at home parent are just check a mark in the box for survival, am I right?  I fall into bed glad that I get to be falling in bed (I've had enough late nights with newborns to know that's a privilege).

But now and then you get a win.  And hopefully enough every now and again to get you through to the next.  Yesterday I got one!  I had a 5:30 pm pediatric dentist appointment for all four of the kids at once!  We got there, we got through it and:

4 kids with no cavities!

Yep, that's a huge win in my book.  Close to a positive parent/teacher conference for ability to get you through another 6 months :).  Even more financially exciting, he doesn't predict orthodontic work for any of the kids, yet.  And I know that's a big YET, but since my oldest is eleven it's looking hopeful that we'll be free of that expense for at least some of the kids.  That is such a sigh of relief after days of fretting over the money pit.  Our heater is going out and we're just really itching to get some tile on the sub floors that are bare.  Because there is so much square footage even doing the work alone, the materials are SO expensive.  But I think we're ready to take a big breath and tackle the next big project.

Monday, February 3, 2014

10 Favorite Barn Photos

Carver county Quilt barn
I LOVE barns.  I think they are one of the most beautiful things ever :).  When traveling I get a little giddy when I see one.  Since I saw several cool pictures this week I thought I'd put together a collection of my favorites here:
Country Spring by Barbara Brown

Hillside Acres farm

Red Barn and pear blossoms
rural North Carolina

barn and storm clouds passing

Barn in the Misty Morning
Pioneer Peak barn, Alaska

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Valentine's Chalkboard decor

I told you I was gathering here is what I came up with on my little chalkboard wall in my kitchen around my pantry door.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Bobi's White Bread

As you may have noticed I realized I haven't shared any of my basic, everyday recipes here.  And then I thought why?  I've been too busy seeking out and trying to provide novelty when that isn't really the stuff our homes are made of.  At least mine isn't.  And the smell of homemade bread is one of the joys in our household, so I'll get on with it!

1/2 C very warm water
2 T yeast

(combine in mixing bowl and let sit)

Combine 1 1/2 C milk
3 T real butter
3 T sugar
2 t salt

in a glass 2 C measuring cup and stick in the microwave for a minute or two on high.  The butter doesn't need to melt completely but the whole mixture needs to be quite warm.

Then pour about 4 C flour over the yeast and water puff in the mixing bowl.  Then pour the warm milk mixture over that flour.  Dig a big spoon in (my mixer died...this is where you'd start it if you had one) and stir together the sticky dough.  It's gonna now need a cup or two of flour kneaded in to get the dough less sticky.  Yep, just drop the spoon and get your hands in there and pull and turn and stretch that dough.  Punch it if you must!  It's kinda fun :).  Then grease the bowl and turn the dough over once to get the whole ball greased.  Cover the bowl with a cloth and let it sit and rise for an hour.

When the time is up, punch down the risen dough and divide it into two balls.  Grease your bread pans and shape your dough into a loaf and stick them in their pans.  Cover the pans to let rise another 45 minutes.  Towards the end of the rising time start your oven preheating to 350.  When it is hot, stick those loaves in and let them bake 30 minutes.