Friday, July 31, 2009

Party Pesto

Every almost-5 year old wants pesto for their birthday party, right?

Did I also mention that he wants green beans (made by Nana), asparagus soup (simmered by Mama), and real blueberry ice cream (turned by Aunt Shell).

Nothing can be store bought. It has to be homemade.

Oh yea, and Kalamata olives.

It's his birthday. His wish is my command.

Party Pesto

2 cups of fresh basil leaves, washed, and hopefully from your garden
2-4 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 toasted pine nuts
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup (or less) olive oil

Pulverize basil in a blender or VitaMix.

Add garlic (which can be grown in your garden--start it in the fall),
salt, pine nuts and cheese. Blend well. Add olive oil slowly while the blender is running, to form a thick paste. Done. Easy.

As a paste, this basil treat is great on bread, crackers, and chicken.

To turn the pesto into a sauce for pasta, bring a 1/2 cup of chicken broth to a boil. Add one cup of pesto slowly to the hot liquid, while continually whisking the mixture until desired thickness is achieved.

You might want to add more Parmesan to your pasta.


A Satisfied Soul

Satisfied can be described as reaching the bottom of a three year old's inquisitive and persistent desire to know “why?” Satisfied is not having to start another book because you are enjoying the one you are reading. Satisfied is climbing into bed at night knowing that you checked off most everything on your to-do list. Satisfied is being able to stop eating before you are uncomfortably full. Satisfied is not looking at the clock as you are chatting with a friend. Satisfied is being in the present moment and nowhere else. Satisfied is a Grande, decaf, no whip, whole milk mocha at the right temperature to start off a long car ride.

But is this what God means by us being satisfied?

Let me give you a personal example. Granted these decisions were based upon prayer, yet I still had ulterior motives.

I thought getting married would make me satisfied.
I just became more aware of my selfishness.

Then, we tried moving out West.
I missed my family and struggled with my job.
After that, I took up skiing.
Snowboarding is cooler.

I still wasn’t satisfied, so I began praying that we would become missionaries.
We moved to Asia.
I worked in a basement.
Every day I cried to come back to the USA, to Indiana of all places.

Once we got to Indiana, we felt we needed a dog for entertainment.
Next came the house.
But we desired a deck.
I still wanted more, so we planted great landscaping.

Hmmm . . . if I could stay at home and have kids, then life would be perfect.
Now I have kids, and I began a new business shortly afterward.
We needed a swing set.
I’d like to lose that pregnancy weight.
Then I could play with the kids more effectively.

Yet, in the back of my head I’m also thinking about moving West again and becoming a missionary.
(Don't worry Mom, Dad, MIL and FIL we don't foresee this on the near or a couple of year horizon.)

Isn’t that where I first started all of this?

A satisfied soul is not wishing you were someone else, somewhere else, owning something else, craving whatever you don’t have, and longing for someone’s hair, body, clothes, house, husband, child, parents, or job.

But is this what God means by being satisfied?

Paul gives us a bit of insight into satisfaction in Philippians 4: 11-13.

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Paul states that he has learned to be content. This word learned (orμανθάνω, manthano) means to learn by use or practice.

Paul had to practice contentment. This would seem to imply that contentment doesn’t come naturally to us humans. It must be practiced.

The word used in Philippians 4:11 for content is αὐτάρκης [autarkes /ow·tar·kace/], meaning strong enough or possessing enough to need no aid or support; independent of external circumstances, or contented with one’s lot, with one’s means, though the slenderest. The opposite of content is needy, poor, helpless or little in quantity.

It seems obvious that we need to learn to be content when we are hungry and suffering. BUT Paul even states that we need to be content or satisfied when we live in prosperity and when we have abundance.

Contentment is a struggle in all aspects of life.

Practice makes perfect. Practice contentment. Ouch. OK.

P.S. I was having a bit of writer's block today, and pulled out something from my computer that I wrote a few years ago for my church's women's retreat. Hope you enjoyed it.

P.S. #2 OK, I'll try and be content that I didn't win the Mini Dell computer today. There is always tomorrow, though.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I'm Not Perfect

Sometimes it is helpful, comforting, and to be honest, rewarding when you know that someone isn't perfect. For example, I feel better knowing that Hottie Hubby has a hard time resisting chocolate. This human frailty in him makes my mistakes less magnified.

I know, it's sick and twisted.

Jordan Rubin, author of the Maker's Diet, has a big bowl of ice cream once a year. That comforts me when I have ice cream once a week.

But before I further tell you that I am not perfect . . .

Let me introduce Elias. His mom is pretty granola. Elias was born naturally, like his sister. But this time, the doctor wasn't even present to catch him!

Babies have a lot to teach us.

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk,
so that by it you may grow up in your salvation
1 Peter 2:2

It was pretty fun to capture Elias with Willow, who will actually be making a new debut soon (thanks Dad!).

This was my first opportunity to try and capture the nuances of a baby.

And it was like candy for me to hold this precious bundle. Memories flooded my head, and thankfully not my chest! (Breathe Hottie Hubby . . . the baby bug hasn't hit me yet.)

OK back to my topic.

If you live with me, are related to me, or even see me driving, you KNOW that I am not perfect.

However, I know that our lifestyle can be intimidating to people. This explains why no one ever has us over for dinner. They think they have to go buy a cow and slaughter it themselves, grow some healthy bacteria, bake fresh bread, and deliver manna for our meal. But what they forget is that . . .

I am not perfect.

Next to the question, "How do you have time to do what you do?" people ask, "What is your one vice?" They want to feel good about themselves, too. See!!!! I am not so demented.

Well, today's not perfect post isn't a habitual regression into my old ways, but an exception. After meeting Elias for the first time, the Granola children were expressing some discomfort in their bellies. Not being near the "city," we did the best we could, at the time, and in the time frame I had to make a decision.

We ate real fast food.

My mother-in-law was going to alert the media. She couldn't remember the last time she sat with me in a fast food restaurant.

People often worry that their children won't behave in a nice restaurant. I have never worried about this. I worry about how my children will behave in a fast food joint. We don't frequent them enough for them to know the behavior "code."

Mr. Smackdown left his manners at home. I did not teach him to lick his plate, ummm I mean paper bag.

I repeat, I am not responsible for this behavior. (Drinking out of the milk carton and licking the plate all come from Hottie Hubby.)

Mr. Me-Too used his fingers a little too much.

I sincerely hope his hands were relatively clean.

No, we didn't wash our hands before we ate. Come on . . . truth be told, you don't wash your hands before you eat out at a fast food restaurant. Don't get germ-a-phobic on me. I'm just not afraid to admit it. We wash our hands a home, but sometimes when we are out . . . it just doesn't happen, unless we have been somewhere grimy with lots of kids.

Mr. Smiley drank from a straw for the first time . . . at a fast food restaurant.

Do you realize how hard I have been working on this at home?

Look how pleased he is with himself.

So that has been our day. Random.

And for those of you who were worried about our carpeting . . . we finally got a vacuum. I'm working on a giveaway. Keep saying your prayers! Oreck here we come!

Wordless Wednesday--My 3 Boys . . . Again

I just couldn't resist sharing more pictures from this past weekend's photo shoot of approximately 133 pictures.

Did I mention that only 4 pictures turned out?

Only 4 where the three boys are relatively happy, somewhat smiling, and looking at the camera.

It is hard to control all of that energy.

Visit 5 Minutes for Mom to view other Wordless Wednesday photographs.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Favorite Kid Photo: McKLinky Blog Hop

OK . . . so I did a little photo editing.

This moment was captured this past weekend, trying to get the perfect picture of the three boys for their grandma's (Mama) birthday.

MckLinky Blog Hop

Monday, July 27, 2009

Tot School 7

Tot School last week consisted mostly of the heavy realities of life. However, sandwiched between goodbyes said to special friends and a final farewell to my cousin, there were bright moments.

For starters, the most anticipated piece of candy was acquired once gymnastics was over. I am not sure if they enjoy gymnastics because it is fun or because it is the ONLY time I allow them to have candy.

(No, Mr. Me-Too isn't auditioning for a role as Rudolph. He is proudly showing off his sucker.)

After gymnastics, we hung out with our dear friends at the local wood park who recently felt God's call to relocate closer to family and (I suspect) eventually start a church. While the kids played, the two moms enjoyed venti Starbucks. (Hey, we aren't going to get to hang out nearly as much!)

We got out the wood Handwriting Without Tears letters, and constructed the letter B. Yes, we are moving on . . . and still NO ANTS! I feel slightly ripped off.

After making various letters, I allowed them to have some creative play time. Mr. Me-Too was very excited to make a rainbow.

Taking Carisa's idea, we are making fuzzy letter books. We didn't have much luck with the pipe cleaners, so we are going to use string. Mr. Me-Too is working on his fine motor skills and string proved to be easier for his precious thick and strong hands.

Since the wood letters were still out, the boys made Mat Man. I love the multi-faceted uses of the wood letters. With Mat Man they make a face, give him body parts, and change his body shapes (i.e. a square, oval, triangle, etc.).

Pattern blocks really stretch Mr. Me-Too. It is a bit detailed for him, and requires concentration to line the block up with the pattern.

Eventually they had free play with the pattern blocks and had to come up with their own designs.

Mr. Smackdown wanted to keep playing with pattern blocks, but Mr. Me-Too got bored. So he stacked up some library books and became engrossed in the pictures.

While I was getting dinner made one night, the boys were QUITE restless. So I made gumball machines, and they filled the machine with "gumballs."

They worked a lot on sharing and learning to be gentle when Mr. Smiley wants to join in on the fun. This is going to take some work. Mr. Smiley grabs their toys, mainly because he doesn't know that there is a word and concept called SHARING!

The boys also separated ALL of the cubes, much to my chagrin. We did discover that we are missing one orange cube. I wonder what piece of furniture it is under?

After a long and hard day being at my cousin's funeral, we lounged around outside and played Husker Du. I think that the original game is much sturdier. But it was fun to see the same pictures. Mr. Smackdown was out to win. Mr. Me-Too was happy to not knock over other pieces and click the game pieces back into place.

For other creative Tot School ideas, visit:

Tot School

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tent Upgrade

My cousin, Zach, died this week.

Today we buried him.

I don't believe that I have ever struggled to comprehend and grasp such a truth as this. Realizing that Zach is dead is harder for me to visualize and process than geometry. For those of you who know me, especially Hottie Hubby and my high school geometry teacher, then you will understand the severity of my inability or rather, desire, to process this new paradigm in my family's life.

I have always taken it for granted that Zach would always be at family functions. He always entered the doorway with a musky, "Hey," as one eyebrow was sightly raised and the corner of his lip turned upward. I could expect to hear, "Where have you been? Email me." Even more recently, whenever I had my "Mommy Time" at Starbucks, I would expect to have him ring the doorbell of my Facebook account to chat. Nine times out of ten, those chats led to God.

And that is where Zach's final conversation ended, as will ours.

It does seem a little crazy to me that a 21 year old relative would die. He was my cousin. Car crashes, such as his, happen only in the newspapers and on the 6'o'clock news, not to my Zach. But this terrible accident did enter into the story of my family's life. And though we may hate it, it is an event that will forever shape us, mold our character, and influence the judgements we make when we are driving.

The pastor at Zach's funeral pitched an excellent image of our adventure on earth.

Backpacking. My favorite kind of vacation.

This image is actually played out in the Old Testament during The Feast of Tabernacles, also known as the Feast of Booths (See Leviticus 23:33-43).

To an individual who loves to hike, view nature on foot, live with little possessions, and camp, backpacking is the greatest vacation.

Time is taken to plan the route, dehydrate the food, streamline the contents of your pack, and give birth to the holiday. The first night in God's creation is magical. Your tent emanates its unique scent of smoke, sweat, and the previous rain's leftover moldy smell. Your Therma Rest is reasonably comfortable and you are grateful that your mummy bag creates a cocoon around your aching and tired body.

After the third night (or maybe the 5th), you are annoyed by the rustic nature of your tent. There isn't enough room for you, your children, and the dog who hates the sound of coyotes. The luxuries of home are all too appealing (heaven?). Your tent feels like a thin eggshell from an unhealthy chicken. You are slightly sleep deprived from waking up every few hours to massage your numb arm. You know that it is possible to get good sleep and not wonder if your abode will weather the storm. Something inside of you nudges you that you weren't made just for tent camping.

It is these very things that God wanted to remind the Israelites of when He instituted the forever statute the Israelites would celebrate by living in booths or tents for several days every harvest. This temporary shelter or tent was to remind them of the time when God led them out of Egypt and was their covering.

Our body is that tent. Our body doesn't always keep out the sin. Our body doesn't keep out the cancer. Our body doesn't keep out the sunburn. Our body doesn't keep out the gossip. Our body is hardly a shelter. Our body is a tent. A temporary dwelling. A vehicle by which we learn about God and choose to hike beside Him.

Zach was done with his tent. I don't have to like it that he traded in his Coleman tent for God's Mountain Hardwear tent. But it is a fact. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).

Because, you see, when it is time for the trip to be over and the tent put back into its stuff sack, all that matters is Jesus. Did He go on the trip, too?

I loved Zach. I will always treasure my memories of him. I loved his honesty and vulnerability. I loved his ability to love and his passion to protect. I knew that his tent didn't always function the best. His tent had holes that frustrated him. And to be honest, he wasn't perfect. But neither am I.

However, as Zach's pastor so bluntly stated, when it came down to it last Sunday afternoon, all that mattered was Jesus. Zach camped with Jesus. That doesn't make him perfect. But Jesus makes our tent perfect.

Yup. Zach took a major upgrade on his tent. I've got my reservation in for the latest and greatest tent designed by Jesus. Do you?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Lacto-Fermented Coniferous Apple Wheat Graham Cracker Pie (Yogurt Pineapple Pie)

Sometimes I wonder if our transition into whole foods would have been easier if I had known about Sue Gregg.

I have previously described our journey into granola-dom that began with Jordan Rubin's book, The Maker's Diet, and was later strengthened by the Nourishing Traditions cookbook authored by Sally Fallon. Although these were both fabulous books, the radical changes they proposed, even though they were necessary in our family life, were slightly overwhelming.

At the time we began our journey we only had a newborn Mr. Smackdown, so kid pleasing food wasn't a priority. Restoring my health and following what we felt God had impressed upon us was our main objective. I experimented with lots of fermented foods, raw vegetables, green smoothies, and supplements.

But now that I have three sets of delicate taste buds to feed nutritious food to, taste has certainly become a priority.

And that is what I love about the Sue Gregg cookbooks. Sue and her husband, Rich, have skillfully blended taste, whole foods nutrition, and economy into each recipe. The cookbooks are a primer down the rabbit hole of a healthy, whole foods, and potentially organic lifestyle. My impression of Sue and Rich Gregg is that they earnestly want you to experiment with their recipes before you purchase their cookbooks. I think that says a lot about their heart, goals, and ministry.

This past weekend, Mr. Smackdown and I took the opportunity to make one of the many free recipes found on The Sue Gregg website. The eager taste testers were a missionary couple (the wife being one of my dearest friends) who came for dinner. Having lived overseas for some time, I felt that they would be the perfect subjects in my attempt to sneak a healthy dessert into the meal, to really test whether the recipe was a viable alternative to traditional desserts. Additionally, I wanted to know if the recipe was kid friendly in production and taste.

We experimented with this Yogurt Pie recipe in our granola laboratory and you can, too!

Yogurt Pie

A light, low fat dessert and so easy to make!
Your anti-health food eaters will not guess that it is made from yogurt.

AMOUNT: 8" Square Bake Pan (Serves 9)

1. Make graham cracker crust by blending together:

1 cup graham cracker crumbs, about 1 packet
of 6 crackers (whole grain such as Mi-Del or
New Morning brand available in health food stores.
I found them at Kroger.
Additionally, you can pulverize the cracker in a Vita Mix or blender.)

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter (unsalted preferred)
2 tablespoons Sucanat, or Rapadura (preferred)
or brown sugar or sugar

2. Pat crumbs into bottom of 8" square bake pan and chill in freezer for 10-12 minutes.

3. Drain thoroughly, reserving juice: 8 oz. can crushed pineapple, unsweetened
(I forgot to buy a can of pineapple, but we just so happened to have a fresh pineapple. I cored, cut, and strained the fruit to obtain 1/3 cup of pineapple juice.)

And, of course, Mr. Smackdown made sure to put the remnants in the compost bucket!

4. Blend together in order given and let stand 5 minutes to soften:
Drained pineapple juice (about 1/3 cup)
2 envelopes (4 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin

5. To dissolve gelatin bring juice-gelatin mixture to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with wire whisk; remove from heat and blend in thoroughly:
1/4 cup honey

6. Blend together well in mixing bowl with wire whisk:
3 cups plain yogurt
(whole, pasteurized, non-homogenized preferred)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
reserved crushed pineapple (about 3/4 cup from can)
dissolved gelatin and honey
1/2 cup medium shred coconut, unsweetened, optional
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract, optional
(add with coconut)

7. Pour onto graham cracker crust and chill in refrigerator until set.

8. To serve, score into servings and garnish each, if desired with:
1/2 fresh strawberry, optional
2 half-slices kiwi fruit, optional

The experiment was a success. One of our friends, who hails from a faraway land, ate an entire bowl of the yogurt pie and remarked on how good it was. (I'm not even sure he knew it was actually healthy.)

And Mr. Smackdown's opinion. . . "Let's make it again!"

Please check out more of Sue Gregg's recipes, learn about her family's journey into whole foods, and peruse their selection of cookbooks.

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