Monthly Archives: June 2013

Recipe For Bread Maker Honey Oat Bread

The first time I tried making bread it was wonderful. I had two delicious loaves of bread, to show for the effort. It just was not very practical to do, to feed our growing family.  It was time-consuming and messy.

Then this last Christmas Rusty bought me a bread machine. In the time since I have made cinnamon bread, garlic bread, pumpkin bread, banana bread, honey oat bread, and many more. I really  enjoy making all this bread as wonderful treats for friends and family or as our daily staple loaf.

Today, I want to share my honey oat bread. It was modified from Oster’s manual, for my bread machine, and their recipe for Honey Wheat Bread.

This will make a 1.5 lb loaf of bread.

I recommend using the wheat setting on your bread machine, if you have such a setting.

All the ingredients, except the water.

All the ingredients, except the water.

You will need:

1 1/4 cup water (and an additional 1/4 set to the side)

1/4 cup honey

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon salt

3 1/2 cups bread flour

1 cup old-fashioned oats

3 tablespoons wheat  bran cereal

2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Measure and add the liquid ingredients and the butter to the pan.

Measure and add the dry ingredients, excluding the yeast for the moment.

Use your finger to form a small well in your dry ingredients. You will want to be careful that your yeast does not come into contact with any of the liquid ingredients, until after you start your machine.

Carefully snap your pan into the bread machine. (That is if it was not already there.)

Select your wheat setting, then choose loaf size (1.5 lb,) and choose color of crust.

Once your settings are where you want them press start.

As your machine is kneading the bread keep an eye on it. Be sure to push any dough that is starting to creep over the edge back down.

After the first rest period, if the dough ball looks rather dry sprinkle a little water over it. Stop. Let the water mix in. Repeat until the ball is smooth.

If the dough ball appears sticky, sprinkle just a little flour over the top and that should solve that.

Either way, what you want is a nice smooth dough ball. (Sometimes though I have settled for close enough.)

When the  timer is done use a wooden or rubber spatula and a hot mitt to help you remove your loaf from the pan. Let sit on wire rack to cool. If you can’t wait grab a cutting board and bread knife. Enjoy!

The final product, honey oat bread.

The final product, honey oat bread.

How I Came Around to Homeschooling

Sometimes it feels like I had a little birdie chirping in my ear about homeschooling, long before I had any children. At first, I was extremely resistant to the idea. It was for other people, strange weirdos, but not for me.  It was for parents who were highly educated themselves, not just anyone could do it. Really, how could a child ever socialize enough if the only people he or she saw were family members? I surely did not have  THAT much patience for educating and raising my future children.

This gives me a chuckle and I thought was appropriate here.  (source: Alpha Omega Publications Homeschool Division from a Pinterest link they found.)

This gives me a chuckle and I thought was right here.
(Source: Alpha Omega Publications Homeschool Division via a Pinterest link they found.)

One day the ‘buts’ and the ‘well maybes’ started to creep into my thoughts. But my mother’s cousin homeschooled, and her kids were always well-mannered and polite. Well maybe the flexibility to set your own schedule and take vacations when you want, not based on a particular school calendar wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe  if she is doing it then it isn’t as weird as I thought, but then again her family is pretty odd. (Looking back I have to say ‘her’ family was no stranger than mine is now.)

I was still had plenty of reservations. I was sure with more than two kids I would need the break, especially since my husband travels for work. What about my patience, could I be that patient day in and day out? I was convinced, I would never be able to write an adequate enough curriculum on my own.

Then one day it happened. I was sitting down with my two oldest at the kitchen table. They wanted to continue to color, but they were starting to get bored with what was in front of them. So I created a coloring sheet for them. They loved it! I was excited that I was able to work with them so simply, and still teach them new concepts in a way that entertained.  I ran down the stairs to the basement excited to tell my husband, that I thought it was even a possibility for me.

Chloe working on one of her homemade worksheets.

Chloe working on one of her homemade worksheets.

Upon opening up on Facebook, that I was considering this, I had expected much criticism. Instead, I received lots of encouragement and probably some of the best advice I have been given regarding this decision. I was told to research, research, and research some more.

So that is what I did. I continued to teach the girls during the day. During nap time and bed time, I would scour the internet for blogs, resources, local groups, and any other resource I could think of.

I learned that there are many curriculum choices available, for the homeschooling parent. I also started to see that there are about as many ways to homeschool as there are parents doing it. I also took the time to learn about the laws in my state. I went to a homeschool conference. I met some amazing families, heard some amazing people speak. Received some encouragement that convinced me beyond a shadow of a doubt not only could I do this but that this was the road God was calling me down.

 

The conference I went to in the spring.

The conference I went to in the spring.

One of the biggest things I took from the conference: none of these parents felt they were exceptionally patient. They each had their own struggles. There will be tough days, but the rewards seem to out weigh any of the drawbacks. I also learned that, while homeschooling is within the reach of every parent, it is just not the right fit for everyone, and that is okay. This is my story of how I came around to homeschooling.

The Mother Your Children Need

 

I have a confession. As much as I enjoy reading, everything from books to blogs, sometimes if I over saturate myself with what everyone else is thinking and/ or doing, I feel inadequate as a mother. I get to thinking how nice it must be to be able to watch the sun rise each morning and blog with a cup of coffee in hand. Or how I should get up before dawn and pray for my little ones.

If my reading material of choice at the moment is parenting related I start to second guess my own instincts. I worry that I am not doing enough to teach them about God or his love. I worry that we don’t have enough play time or perhaps that we have too much free play time. I worry that their skills are not as far all as a friend’s child.

Chloe's family portrait.

Chloe’s family portrait.

I can weigh my days down with worry, yet that worry will not get me anywhere. Worry will not give me more hours in my day to accomplish more. You can see in Luke 12:25 where Jesus says, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” I can try all the latest tips and tricks for stream lining my day according to all the so called experts, but they may still fail and I shouldn’t feel guilty about that, nor should you.

We need to remember as we look around the world, that God did not create us all the same. We were each created with different abilities, desires, and tolerance levels. So just because ‘Mary’ can make homemade meals every night, homeschool her children, and keep a perfectly tidy house doesn’t mean you can or should have to. Maybe you work outside the home, spend 95% of your time at home playing with your kids, and have quick meals, that is alright too.

There are a multitude of ways to be a good mother. You don’t need to conform to any one else’s idea of what makes a good mother. Just remember to trust your gut instincts and to love them. It also wouldn’t hurt to look to the creator as to what he would have you do, and then you will be the mother your children need.

 

At Maybury Farms with my two oldest girls last summer.

At Maybury Farm with my two oldest girls last summer.

 

You Need to Choose

Last week, I spoke of some of the things that Rusty and I have come through in our marriage. Many of the  things I spoke of would be show stoppers  for many of the couples we know.  I can say that through it all I have learned a little about what makes a marriage work.

You need to choose

In our time together, I have learned that marriages are not built on warm fuzzy feelings. Some days I wake up and I find it difficult to conjure up feelings of adoration and affection for my husband, but I  still choose him. (Don’t get me wrong sometimes I am a bear to live with too.) Feelings ebb and flow with time. There will be seasons in marriage where one of you might be struggling with depression, anger, or even a case of the blahs. Love your spouse through it. (I am not advocating the tolerance of abuse, if you are in a dangerous situation seek help. Look for a shelter in your area, talk to the police, call a hotline, just do something.) If you are the one struggling, remember not to make a permanent decision based on a temporary emotion. If you are struggling over the long haul with feelings of anger or depression talk to your doctor about counseling, and maybe even drugs if need be.

Marriages are not built upon sex. Yes, lack of sex can strain a marriage, especially if it seems one of you is constantly rejecting the other person. Although, there are times sex will not be in the cards. If that is the case then there are other ways to find intimacy. You can hug, kiss, hold hands, and many other things (that I don’t feel comfortable going on about here.) The point though, is there are options. You don’t have to let a marriage fall apart because you are not able, for a time, to have sex. You can choose to  find what works for you, as a couple, and find more ways to build intimacy.

Marriages are not even built upon spending everyday together. I can testify to that. I suspect of the last (almost) ten years Rusty and I have spent half of that together, if we are lucky.  How have we made it work?

1. Playing games together online. (You know the ones where you can take a turn at your leisure.)

2. writing letters (email or handwritten)

3. texts and phone calls

4. video calls

5. care packages

6. using the internet to buy and ship presents for special occasions

7. And many more ideas that we have tried over the years.

The point is we made the choice to make a connection, so when we have come back together we have common ground to work from.

So what are marriages built upon then? In a word, choice. You need to choose to put another person’s needs above your own (and trust they are doing the same.) You need to choose grace and forgiveness, because we all mess up. We all have sinned, and lead a less than stellar life.  It should also be noted, we need to choose not to make our spouses the center of our world, they can not fill our every need.

you need to choose

That leads me to my final point. Jesus is the only one who can ever fill all of our needs. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says it best when it says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” Yes this is passage that is often used at weddings but only God can ALWAYS do each of those things. The best the rest of us can hope for is to become a little more like him each day.

 

***What are some other things you have had to choose in your marriage, that I either didn’t mention here or didn’t think of? Also what thoughts come to mind when you consider 1 Corinthians 13:4-7?***

Warm Chewy Crunchy Granola

Recently I have taken to making more of the things we enjoy from scratch. I have been making everything from bread, to macaroni and cheese, to soup, to laundry soap, and more. Each week I would like to take a day a focus on sharing a recipe. This week I am sharing my recipe for  granola.

Everything I will be sharing will have a simplified way of doing things and my way which usually involves a couple more steps. When I do it with a couple more steps it is most often to try to bring my ingredients down to the most simple version. We like to know what is in our food here. That is not to say we don’t enjoy our guilty pleasures, we do, in fact we enjoyed the dollar menu at McDonalds today. Anyway even with my additional steps, I still don’t want my recipes to be too complex. I am a mother to three little girls.

Recently in my quest to make more of the things we enjoy I stumbled across a recipe for granola. (You can find the original recipe  at The MOM 100 BlogI couldn’t wait to try it. It appeared to be a simple enough recipe, the only drawback was that it had things listed in the ingredients that we do not care for here. So with some adjustments to make it my own, I gave it a shot. Sure enough I had stumbled onto a winner. Granted this winner still needed some work before we could say it was just right, tweaking and such, but a winner nonetheless. So here you have it my version of warm chewy crunchy granola:

The Before

Warm Chewy Crunchy Granola

  • 1⁄3 cup honey
  • 1⁄4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1⁄3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 cups old-fashioned oats (not quick-cooking)
  • 2 cups mixed chopped dried fruit (for example raisins) (optional)
  • Parchment Paper (or if you don’t have any, nonstick spray)
  1. Preheat oven to 275.
  2. Combine your honey, maple syrup, egg whites, vegetable oil, vanilla extract and ground cinnamon in a small bowl.
  3.  In a separate large bowl add your oats.
  4.  Pour half of your honey/ maple syrup mixture over the oats. Stir well. It should be somewhat clumpy at this point.
  5. Place parchment paper on your pan. Pour your oat mixture evenly across your pan. Bake for 30 minutes.
  6. If you are adding dried fruit now would be the item to add it to your honey mixture.
  7. After your thirty minutes is up, pull your pan out of the oven, and lightly stir.
  8. Pour the remainder of the honey/ maple syrup mixture on your oats at this time. Lightly stir again to be sure you thoroughly coated your oats.
  9. Bake again for 40 minutes. (If you used nonstick spray I recommend you stir once half way through.)
  10. When you pull the pan out let it cool for 5-10 minutes. If you can avoid stealing a bunch at this point I would recommend it as it is VERY hot. Use the parchment paper to lift the granola off the pan. This does two things it will help you 1: break up the granola and 2: pore it into your storage container.
The After

Granola

This can safely store in an airtight container for a couple weeks. Although I don’t think it has ever lasted that long in my house, simply because it is yummy for : cereal, snacking, or pairing with yogurt. 🙂 Enjoy.   ***If this is something you think you might enjoy or do enjoy please free to share it. And if this is something you want to try, please pin for later use.***

Creative K  Kids

Why I Homeschool My Children

Why I Homeschool My Children

Chloe and Paige finding out what happens when you mix vinegar and baking soda.

I am relatively new to the world of homeschooling, and I invite you to follow me on this journey. Come discover pitfalls as I do, and celebrate milestones with me as we reach them. I will not only talk specifics of our journey, but try to provide encouragement for your journey, whether or not you homeschool, because every parent is a teacher for their child.

I want to note that I am not against the public schools or any sort of school for that matter. Rusty and I have made the choice to homeschool our girls and that is our choice. It is right for us, that does not mean it is the right choice for everyone.

Here are my reasons why I homeschool my children:

1.  It provides me with the best opportunities for discipleship.

2. I can customize lessons to work with them at the level they are at, for each subject.

3. Excellent student to teacher ratio. 🙂

4. More family time.

5. More flexibility on when our family can take vacations.

6. They get to spend their days socializing with people of all ages and backgrounds.

7. I will be able to allow them to help direct the course of their education.

8. My husband would say we are homeschooling so that we can have the smartest babies, ever! 😉

9. My kids are loving the learning process currently, and I want to encourage that love daily. (I see too many kids who enter the school system, and then develop bitter feelings about learning.)

…and last but not least

10. I feel God calling me to do this!

The First Ten Years

Sara's Senior Prom

2001 (age 17)

This December Rusty and I will have finished the first ten years of our marriage. This September I will turn 30. So it is very easy for me to say that I was just a young girl when I got married. Although I was really a young semi-innocent girl.

Only semi innocent because at the tender age of 19 (the age in which he proposed to me) we had already started having sex. In high school while Rusty and I were dating, I had become pregnant. From the time I found out until well after I had miscarried I heard rumors and all sorts of mean spirited gossip.

At nineteen I was holding down a job. I had moved out of my parent’s house and in with a roommate. I had said goodbye to Rusty as he left for Navy boot camp. While he was away I experienced the pain of separation. I even had to sit down with police at one point a recount a painful experience involving unwelcome sexual contact (rape) only to be told later they would not be pursuing the matter because essentially I didn’t say the actual word no and this would just become a he said/ she said matter. (Honestly I don’t remember exactly what the police told me any more, I just remember how disappointed I was in the justice system at the time.)

 

 

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Our wedding 2003

By the time our wedding rolled around I just remember being very stressed. In my *infinite* wisdom I planned our wedding the week of my college finals. Our wedding like so many others had it’s hiccups but in the end it was a lovely affair and I had so much hope for our future. Despite all that I had already seen, the reason why I declare I was still even semi-innocent was I couldn’t even have imagined in my wildest dreams what our future would hold.

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Christmas 2004, while I was undergoing chemotherapy

Not even a year into our marriage I began a battle with cancer. Despite being in the Navy he did a stint as an Individual Augmentee working with the Army. (The emotions you experience when they are deployed with a ship are different than when they are on the ground. Or at least they were for me.) We have seen several deployments. Infidelity even found its way into our marriage for a bit. I was diagnosed with menopause secondary to chemotherapy. I have experienced two more miscarriages, one of which landed me in an ER. We have even experienced the Navy downsizing and let Rusty go mid career.

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Daddy and two of his girls 2011

At times in our marriage I have lost my faith in God. I have always come back though. Rusty and I have come back together. We have worked through our trials. We are closer to the Lord now, than we have ever been. We are closer to one another. We are parents to three smart, beautiful, and funny little girls.

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Easter 2013

So approaching the big 3-0 and the first 10 years of my marriage, I feel as if I have grown in ways I couldn’t even have imagined. The road is winding, but the Lord has always drawn me back to him, and even closer than I was before I wandered off the time before. When I have emerged from the different struggles I have faced, I find I have a new empathy for those who are still struggling with the things I have been through.

***What are some struggles that you have walked through that have helped you to grow closer to the Lord? Or perhaps you are struggling now and could use some prayer. Just leave as much or as little information about your situation as you feel comfortable sharing and I will be happy to pray with you.***

 

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Books and Summer Breaks

Today begins summer break for many school age children. In an effort to celebrate summer, many of the libraries around here kicking off their summer reading programs. One library has a carnival type atmosphere to celebrate today. Our local library is actually hosting musicians on their front lawn, for you to come out and listen to.

When nap time in this house is over, I plan on taking the kids out to sign them up for their first summer reading program. Granted this does mean Mommy will do most the reading. It is very important to me though to expose them to the world of books, and not just rely on the television and the computer for entertainment.

I suspect that my efforts to expose them to books is paying off. Chloe and Paige both will bring me stacks of books to read together.206465_10150228112135605_5566159_n

Chloe as a toddler with a book from our home library.

As an avid reader myself, I can only hope that filling our home with books, and filling their childhood with memories of summer reading programs, will impart to them a lifelong love of reading.

***What sort of things do you do to share books with your children and perhaps even pass on a love of reading? (Do you read to them? Do you enroll them in summer reading programs? Do they see you reading? Etc…) ***