Thursday, November 29, 2012

~Baked Pumpkin French Toast


 Baked Pumpkin French Toast
Yes, that is a pool of half and half..



I found this amazing baked french toast recipe over at smittenkitchen a few weeks ago and we already made it twice and loved it. It is super tasty and doesn't call for hoighty-toighty things. It can be made the night before and cooked for Brunch or made in the morning and then it is ready to pop in the oven at suppertime. It is slightly putzy but worth every bite. Makes me want to buy her cookbook. Cookbook found here!

We were blessed with a gift of so many pumpkins this year that I am trying to come up with creative ways to use them. We have had pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, pumpkin fries, and pumpkin stew. It was time to tackle another adaptation!

I took this amazing recipe and adjusted it for us to use pumpkin puree with the basic ingredients and method she used over at smittenkitchen. I tweaked a few things and it turned out beautifully. Please don't judge it (or me!) based on the pictures. I try, but I don't have the talent or the camera my sister has and this was a heartfelt attempt to capture the pumpkiney goodness.

 Baked Pumpkin French Toast
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon allspice
8-16 slices sandwich bread (if using homemade it will be less slices)
1-1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
1 cups skim milk

2 cups pumpkin puree
9 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon maple flavoring (over by the extracts)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Mix the spices and sugar together and leave in a small bowl.  Place the sliced bread on cookie sheets in a single layer. Spread each slice of bread with butter, then sprinkle each slice with some of the sugar-spice mixture. Pretend like your making cinnamon toast! Toast the trays of bread in the oven. When they are lightly browned, 6 or 7 minutes, take out of the oven and set aside to cool a bit. It smells so good right now! Lower the oven temp to 375 degrees. 

Butter your 9 x 13 pan and then shingle layer your toasts in the pan. Try to make them kinda even. End with a half slice at the end of the row.

Whisk the rest of the ingredients together. The pumpkin makes it a slightly heavy custard. Feel free to sprinkle a little bit of nutmeg and ginger in the wet mix. Pour as evenly as possible over the toasts. Let sit for at least 15 minutes (or overnight) so all that pumpkin goodness seeps into the bread. {Just a quick Minnesota pronunciation lesson my friend M would appreciate... Minnesotans say Toast like Toe-st. Felt like I needed to get that out because I have typed Toe-st so many times. :) }

Sprinkle with remaining sugar spice mixture and bake for around 30 minutes. You want it to be a little bit puffed up and solid. You don't want any liquid floating in the pan. Cut and serve with maple syrup, use the real stuff if you can because it is SO MUCH BETTER and you need less.


Sugar n' spice toasts.


Shingled toasts covered in pumpkin custard and spiced sugar.


We served it with maple syrup and a drizzle (wink) of half and half.



Nummy. Easy. Serve with fruit and it is a done deal meal.

:) Enjoy!

Always Blessed,

Gretchen :)








Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I Should Like To Travel

I encourage you to check out my sister's beautiful photos over at as seen through my eyes.


 as seen through my eyes     


I should like to travel down this path
and see what it could be.
I might find the Crow cawing as loud as can be
or the Cardinal claiming his space so bossily.
Perhaps I would find tracks shaped like reindeer hooves to
nowhere
or somewhere
and I may be persuaded to follow.
Search them out in the cold, crisp air 
that bites my breath as it pulls out of me.
I would like to hear the crunch of the snow
echo down this wedding lane
and perhaps pretend I am a 
princess...
because I am a child at heart
and Jesus is my King.



Always Blessed,
Gretchen :)



The Greed Sideswipe

Petunia last year opening her first present. I can't even remember what it was. :(


Tonight The Hubs and I went Christmas shopping. We were alone without kids! Almost like a date! I was feeling so at peace with our decision to have a much simpler Christmas this year. We have committed to a 4 present rule. (I'll be writing on that later so in a way this is a backwards post. The second part of the story is being told first!)

That being said we are only buying each of the kids 4 presents. There are strict rules involved for my benefit. Simple rules that I need to keep from spending far too much.

You see, I love to give. 
I love to see faces shine up with that smile that says they love what you gave them. 
I enjoy when people get excited over the gift that says I listened to them. I know what they like. 
I love to give.

Now here is the problem. As good intentioned as gifting can be that sneaky greed can sideswipe you. I mean hit you like a brick when you realize you have somehow managed to completely forget your Christmas budget. Here we are, armed with our list and good intentions and with the first pretty, pink, princess toy we see I fall apart and lose all my wherewithal. 

I'll just place it in the cart... it is on clearance! I can decide before we checkout if I really want to get it. I make a nice, cozy section for the gift I don't 'intend' to buy because I'm just thinking about it.

Next it is the cool flashlights for their stockings. They are headlamps! Just like we used when we went camping with Auntie Rosie! But do we need those? We aren't camping in December.... but the are awesome. The kidlets would have so much fun.

Then the book section. I think it draws me like a magnet. I don't feel the pull but I end up browsing the books and I am able to justify JustOneMore because they are books. And I love books. Books are educational. Books are timeless. Books are classic.

And that is when it hit me while standing in the store. I had fallen prey to the greed in me. I wanted to give.. this and this and this.... even to the detriment of our well being. An empty checkbook is no one's friend.


The LORD says:

Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”    Luke 12:15
I know this! That is why I am trying to teach my children the value of simple and well thought out spending! Why do I lose my courage so fast?


But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.   Matthew 6:20-21
 This is a fairly clear command. We don't need the stuff and yet I somehow get stuck on this thought that they are missing something.


  Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.    Psalm 37:4
They are missing nothing. He gives what we need, what we will need, AND what we desire. In His Time.
 
So now, back to the cart full of stuff we didn't intend to buy. Well some of it is going back. We don't need it. They don't need it. I don't want to pick up those little pieces when that such and such toy breaks 5 hours after it is opened. I don't want to find it lying under a pile of dirty laundry under Prince Ray's bed.... in June. 


I will take seriously every item we buy. Is it good quality? Is it something that shows honor to God? Will this toy or book build up my child and help him grow?


These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.  Deuteronomy 6:6-9
 Every gift I give. Every good work I act upon. Every penny I spend speaks volumes to my kids. I teach in all I DO as much as in all that I say.



How do plan to spend your hard earned funds this Christmas season?


Always Blessed,

Gretchen :)



New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide

New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.



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Monday, November 26, 2012

Goin' Crunchy Cold Remedy Tea

As part of my journey to force us enter us into a more healthful and food conscious family I have begun snooping around the Crunchy Blogs. 


Slang Dictionary


crunchy definition

  1. mod.
    [of someone] loving nature, plants, and animals. (The type of person who lives on granola.) :  He's such a crunchy guy, always saving whales and trees.
Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions by Richard A. Spears.Fourth Edition.
Copyright 2007. Published by McGraw Hill.
Cite This Source

Now I have not ever been a save the whales! sorta gal. I preferred to think more on the lines of  save the children! and then not really do anything about either. Just keeping it all honest here. I didn't even recycle up until about three years ago! 

However, the LORD teaches us new everyday and I have had a whole year of eye opening lessons on being respectful to our earth, on eating more whole foods, on learning to make it or make do without it, and on healing using the plants and resources he gave us! Perhaps I'm goin' a little bit crunchy?

Christians, I think, as a whole were turned away from natural remedies many ( and I many) years ago and became scared to use them thinking them too closely related to things we avoid at all costs, like witchcraft. Home remedies became looked down upon because they were not what we thought was good enough or scientific enough. It could be perhaps we have accustomed our minds to thinking we needed a doctor's note and a box from the drugstore to make us feel better. Sometimes, yes, we absolutely need medical attention. Sometimes, we need that headache relief. But not always.

The LORD though has provided us all kinds of natural remedies to soothe sore throats and ease coughs. To shorten the lifespan of a cold. To help us heal. I do not claim to know a lot but I know what we've tried and my kids have never been healthier. We have had less colds, flu, and all around yuckies since we began to eat better. My son that has asthma has had much fewer attacks since I began making my own cleaning supplies.  Just seems to me we could benefit from trying some at home remedies before automatically reaching for that overpriced colorful box of.... whatever.

My Princess Petunia came down with a fairly bad cold while cutting her two year molars. She is 2 and a half and small so she can't take anything for a cold from one of those aforementioned colorful boxes so we tried a recipe my neighbor brought over. We have affectionately started calling it a terribly original name: Sick Tea. I know! Sometimes the creative muse is on a mini vacation without me. Probably someplace warm...


This is Ginger in its raw form. Just peel with a paring knife and slice into small matchsticks.

Slice up the lemon. (Please wash it first in the event there are chemicals on it.)
This is a Minnesota Honey not too far from us.


Layer in lemon, ginger, and honey until the jar is full. This is a 1/2 pint jelly jar.


Looks a bit like this when done.

Add a couple of spoonfuls to a cup of hot water or tea.
This is my green tea steeping with two scoops of honey base.

Sick Tea
1/2 fresh lemon
2 Tablespoons fresh ginger (has to fresh)
honey (local if possible, raw is the best)

Possible add ins:
Cayenne to clear sinuses, 
Garlic for it's antibacterial and anti-viral properties,  
or an Echinaea tincture or syrup.

It isn't a cure all but it sure helped my munchkin to feel better. I also benefited by shortening a cold I felt coming on by taking some extra rest and drinking our sick tea three times a day when I started to feel yucky.

Going to go make myself another cup of tea, I'm feeling a bit peaky... :)


Always Blessed, 
Gretchen :)


Although my neighbor gave me the original recipe I have been using I found similar versions here and here.


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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Beauty Acting Like the Beast

Tonight I had one those motherhood moments that you never forget. Not a warm, gushy, I-Love-My-Kid-So-Much-I-Will-Cherish-This-Forever moment. Not the feeling that overtakes you when your child acts like the amazing offspring you are training them to be. Not even the mom moment that makes you upset but in a 'aw shucks' kind of way. Like 'Aw shucks, it is okay that you put beautiful flower stickers all over your kitchen chair to make it pretty. Let's scrape them off.' Nope.

No, tonight I had an I-Want-To-Hide-Under-A-Rock Moment. I had an I-Am-Seeing-Red and I wanted to run away. From the grocery store. And leave you there.

Now I am the mother of five. I have had my share of crying babies in the grocery store. I have even had a child strip naked after he ran away from me and my lumbering then-pregnant belly. I found him distracted in the cereal aisle over by the 'toy in the box' cereals. I even once left an entire cart full of groceries by the dismayed bag boy and apologized, while dragging my red faced, screaming toddler out of the building and holding the wailing baby he had just smashed in the head with a can of green beans. No stitches needed, just a huge goose egg. At any rate, I have been embarrassed before. But, tonight I could not leave the store. Nor could I leave my groceries. I needed them for tomorrow!

My very beautiful Princess Petunia is two and a half. She has been strong-willed and a Mighty Presence  ever since we walked in the front door with her. I have wondered if it is because she is the youngest and she felt from the beginning that she would be vying for attention. She is smart as a whip, energetic, and very loving. However, she has been and is a force to be reckoned with when she has her mind set on something. How one, tiny, little person can be so obstinate is beyond my comprehension. I am already beginning to look into different ways to start working on an obedient heart because it is going to be where we locks horns. (Perhaps the apple falls too close to this tree?)

The rumblings of a battle begin upon us entering the store. We live in a small town so this is a small town grocer. There are 12 aisles and the traditional produce section, meat section, dairy, and frozen foods U shape on the borders. I have a plan based upon my List. We have fellowship meal the last Sunday of the month at church and I am plum out of what I need. So my List is specific. I tell the two kidlets with me, Sir Bean and Princess Petunia, that we are on a Mission to find our goods and vacate the building. Sir Bean really likes a Mission, just like Spy Kids. Petunia is unimpressed and throws her mittens on the ground. 

After a discussion on the merits of leaving our mittens in our pockets we move on to find some red potatoes. She has agreed to walk next to the cart, until she sees the apples. And she is off! The theme song for the old show Speedracer starts on a loop in my head. 


Go Speedracer! Go Speedracer! Go Speedracer, Goooo!

No! Not the apples. We put all the apples back. One by One.

On to the coffee aisle. Not for fellowship, but a definite need in my world. Sir Bean is searching for hidden cameras while Petunia decides she is not entering the coffee aisle. She would like to go down the cereal aisle. (What is it with the cereal aisle?) She stomps her feet. She plants herself. I make like I am leaving to go without her. She is unfazed.  I move out of her line of sight but can still see her, arms crossed, pouty faced. All 21 pounds of her is ready to do anything to get what she wants. The Battle officially begins.

I pick her up and she begins to flail. Arms swinging and legs kicking. She almost swings right into a nice man who starts laughing and asks nicely "Bad day, huh?" I apologize and with a yes flung over my shoulder I scamper down to the cart and my Super Spy, Sir Bean. He takes one look at Petunia and with his six year old enthusiasm says "MOM! How about the Dunkin' Donuts coffee!?" He is anxious to get us out. I attempt to wrestle my naughty left hooking daughter into her cart seat whilst she screams at the top of her very loud lungs. (Seriously, do grocery stores have crazy good acoustics on purpose?) I have to physically bend her knee to place her in the cart and then buckle her. She then, still screaming mind you, turns herself sideways in the seat and kicks her legs at me over the push handle.

Who is this child? Did I somehow give my very lifeblood for this child that is manhandling me over the push handle and won't listen to me. Oh how angry I became. I saw red. Really. Hot faced, shamefully warm, sweaty anger. I restrained and tried to pray but over the screaming I could only half smile at the dairy case manager and mumble another 'I'm sorry.' as I searched for the whipping cream.

Sir Bean and I managed to get through the List with his amazing Super Spy glasses. I only had to fend off 20 different people coming by to just peek down the aisle at the screaming, sobbing baby and frazzled mother. 
Yes, she is tired! Yep, she is hungry! No, she doesn't need a snack. >:/
Yes, She is a bit high strung. Oh me? Yes, I am a bit high strung. 
Yes, the secret invisible Spy Kid is mine. Umm, No, he is just hiding behind your cart. No,he doesn't want your Milky Ways, he just wants to see if they might make their way to the List

They even opened up a whole new checkout lane for us! Wow, talk about service. ;o)

When I got home it occurred to me after a visit with my sister that I was more infuriated with my inability to control her then I was with her. 
            I mean, she embarrassed me!
                       She didn't listen to me!
                                  She was rude and hateful!
                                       She made me look like I wasn't doing my job well!
                                                                           My beauty was acting like a beast!
                                                                           But was I acting like a beast?
                                   Was I demanding too much from her?
                   Was I letting what others thought get to me?
            Was I more focused on getting my
           job done then giving grace and a hug to my little one?
Was my pride in my mom abilities on the chopping
block just because my kid had a temper tantrum?

Yes, she was wrong. But she was hungry. And tired. And acting like a two year old.
I was so caught up in what she was doing to me I missed an opportunity to show her some grace and love. I am ashamed. Sinful Pride comes in so many forms.

We came home and made a pie and some Crockpot Potatoes for the fellowship meal. She doesn't hate me anymore. :} I love her more. And props to Sir Bean, because he acted appropriately. I must be doing something right.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. ~ Galatians 6:9

Always Blessed, 




Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

 What we remember.
The First Thanksgiving  Jennie A. Brownscombe      




 What it probably looked a bit more like.

Thanksgiving  Hongnian Zhang


 What our family Thanksgiving feels like.

Freedom From Want  Norman Rockwell

What it actually looks like, only bigger.


Thanksgiving  Dinner Colette

 My favorite part.

Thanksgiving  Doris Lee

 What I am most Thankful for.


Jesus Painting  Akiane Kramarik


Have a Blessed Day. Give Thanks!


And he commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass; and he took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples to the multitudes.

Matthew 14:19

 

Always Blessed,

Gretchen :)






31 Thankful Fors



Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God,
    and keep the vows you made to the Most High.

Psalm 50:14



Looks like we are commanded to be thankful and keep our promises made to our LORD. 

Here are my 31 thankful fors....
  • I am thankful for my children.

  • I am thankful they are healthy, vibrant, clever children that cause all kinds of disturbances and messes in my type A world.

  • I am so thankful I get to homeschool some of my children. 

  • I am grateful the LORD has grown my relationships with my children since I began homeschooling and even through the hard days we are glad we can educate at home. 

  • Thank you LORD Jesus for providing me the courage to say yes and the materials needed for homeschooling.   

  • Thank you LORD for our home. It is too small, the paint is peeling, the windows leak, the basement floods, and the garage is listing a bit to the west but, It is ours. We have made memories here and we have made a life here. It is warm and protects us and although I don't say it often enough, I am thankful for this messy house.

  • I am thankful for our vehicles. Both are actually drivable and that makes my life so much more pleasant,

  • I am so grateful for my husband's job. He works so hard for us and we are blessed because he can support our family and allow me to be home.

  • I am thankful for our luxuries, like internet access and cable tv. They are not necessary but they are so very nice to have.

  • I am thankful for my church family because they are living and breathing God's command to love one another. They are family in all sense of the word.

  • I'm blessed to be given such wonderful friends in which to pray   with and fellowship alongside.  Thank you.

  • Thank you for Your Word LORD. It is my manual for life. I am still amazed at the way You speak to me through it.

  • Thank you for chocolate, coffee, and ice cream.

  • Thank you LORD for providing me the motivation, funding, and knowledge to move our family to a more whole foods diet.

  • Thank you for intrducing me to modesty, LORD. My heart is changing and it is because I finally see I am worthy of respect and love.

  • Thanks for letting the skirt wearing thing be almost painless. :)

  • Thanks for opening doors that should be opened and closing doors we should not be entering into.

  • I'm grateful that you spoke of law tempered with love.

  • I'm blessed to having good health. Thank you LORD.

  • Thanks for the joint pain, it will keep me humble and asking for help.  It will allow me to enjoy every moment that is painfree  with true thankfulness.

  • Thank you for the change of seasons! What a wonderful Creator that He sought to give us beauty so different and yet so divine in each of our changing seasons. 

  • Lord God, Thank you for the Great Outdoors. Thank you for the creatures that crawl, walk, run, slither, swim, gallop, trot, and fly.

  • Thank you for camping.

  • Thank you for my parents and the faith they instilled in me. 

  • Thank you for never letting us 'feel poor' growing up. Help me to teach that to my own children.

  • Thanks for books. For reading. For all forms of the written word which can be used for the enriching of the soul.

  • Thank you for snow days!

  • I'm thankful for my sister and brothers. They are my closest friends.

  • Thank you Lord God for my wonderful husband.

  • I'm blessed that you put us on the same path together and that we can share the burdens and joys found on this journey called marriage.

  • Thank you Lord, For bringing The Hubs and I closer together even though we are for a time living far, far apart. 

 

 So they removed the stone. Jesus looked up and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me."

John 11:41

         

Thank you Lord for hearing me.

Always Blessed,

Gretchen :)  

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Rest In the Lord~ This Is The Air I Breathe


Tonight we had some worship time while making supper. I was struck again by how powerful music can be. How music can stir the emotions and cause the heart to shiver. Poetry set to a simple melody has the power to bring a busy mom to stop and rest in the LORD for a few moments.
 
I find worship breaks during my everyday life can really rejuvenate this mama. I can have 4 or 5 minutes of concentrated prayer. Singing in my shower voice really loudly in my kitchen may not be attractive to my neighbors but it IS a joyful noise unto the LORD!
  • Woke up on the wrong side of the bed?
  • Homeschool morning is not going as planned?
  • Kids are fighting?
  • Fight with your husband?
  • Bad news from your best friend?
  • Having a 'one of those days' kind of day? Month? Year?
Take a moment and rest in the LORD. Meditate on the words in your favorite worship songs. Use those words to springboard prayer in your life. Start a mini study by looking up the song and finding out if there is a relevant verse that inspired the song. Use the music as a tool to increase your time with the Lord!

In Psalms we are encouraged to rest in the darkest of times.
 
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside still waters.
Psalm 23:2 

Jesus commands us to take His example and learn from it.
 
 29 Take the yoke[a] I give you. Put it on your shoulders and learn from me. I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest. 
Matthew 11:29
 Footnotes: 
Matthew 11:29 yoke: Yokes were put on the necks of animals, so that they could pull a plow or wagon. A yoke was a symbol of obedience and hard work.

 Jesus also encouraged rest in his disciples. Should we not also take a few minutes to rest in Him?


31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
Mark 6:31

I pray that today you find a few moments for some quiet (or Shower Singing Loud!) worship time to rest and rejuvenate in your LORD Jesus!


This Is the Air I Breathe



This is the air I breathe
This is the air I breathe
Your holy presence living in me

This is my daily bread
This is my daily bread
Your very word spoken to me

And I, I'm desperate for you
And I, I'm I'm lost without you



This is the air I breathe
This is the air I breathe
Your holy presence living in me

This is my daily bread
This is my daily bread
Your very word spoken to me

And I, I'm desperate for you
And I, I'm I'm lost without you

And I, I'm desperate for you,
And I, I'm lost without you,

I'm lost without you,

I'm so lost without you.

I'm so lost without you.

I'm so lost without you,

This is the air I breathe
This is the air I breathe
Your holy presence living in me

This is my daily bread
This is my daily bread
Your very word spoken to me

And I, I'm desperate for you
And I, I'm lost without you.

Always Blessed,

Gretchen :)