Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Recipe Tuesday

It has been a crazy couple of days. My sister got married this past Friday and all the hoopla that traditionally accompanies weddings, accompanied this one too. Parties, rehearsals, confusion, dancing, laughing, family get togethers, last minute deadlines and of course getting sick. I haven't had a voice for five days. Only today as I was yelling at my 4-year old (because of a very embarrassing scene she created at ballet lessons) did my 5-year old say, "Mommy, you sound like you again."

So while I recover from partying, sickness and just plain busyness I am making some warm, yummy banana bread - recipe courtesy of Betty Crocker and in honor of a wonderfully kind and beautiful lady that I'm privileged to know. Denise, this one's for you!

Banana Bread

1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas
1/2 buttermilk
1 t vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 cup chopped nuts, if desired

Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pan will be in center of oven. Heat to 350 degrees. Grease bottoms of two load pans with shortening.
Mix sugar and butter in large bowl. Stir in eggs until well blended. Stir in bananas, buttermilk and vanilla; beat until smooth. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt just until moistened. Stir in nuts. Divide batter evenly between pans.
Bake loaves about 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pans on wire rack.


P.S. I made the Beef Stew last week and it was actually really good. Very easy to make since all you do is throw everything in a pan and bake for hours.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


In an effort to get more organized, I have written out a master "To Do List" for the upcoming weeks. I really enjoy the scheduling of all the events I feel a need to squeeze into my already busy days. However, I'm not as successful when it comes to implementing them.

One of the things that I put on my "To Do List" is to make (from scratch, of course) gourmet dinners for my family at least once a week. My definition of gourmet = not a frozen meal, not a reheated meal, nothing I'm able to microwave, whenever possible stay away from pasta unless I have time to make the sauce myself, etc.

This notion sprung into my head as I was cleaning out a drawer in my kitchen. This particular drawer holds all of my recipes and cookbooks - most of which I hardly ever use. I flipped through a Betty Crocker cookbook that I believe we received as a wedding gift six and a half years ago. The only recipe I have used from that book is a pie crust recipe. How sad is that! So I'm channeling Julie and Julia and I will attempt to make something once a week (I'm not crazy enough to try it every night).

On the off chance you would like to play along with me, here is tonights recipe:

Beef Stew

1 pound beef stew meat, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium onion, cut into eights
1 package (8 ounces)baby carrots
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can condensed beef broth
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1/3 cup flour
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 t salt
1 t sugar
1 t dried marjoram leaves
1/4 t pepper
12 potatoes, cut into fourths
2 cups slices mushrooms

Heat oven to 375

Mix all ingredients except potatoes and mushrooms in ovenproof 4-quart Dutch oven. Cover and bake 2 hours, stirring once.

Stir in potatoes and mushrooms, Cover and bake 1 hour 30 minutes or until beef or vegetables are tender.

Good luck!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

It's Like I'm Falling In Love

Music moves me. Certain songs cause my heart to overflow with gratitude and joy. Especially songs that reflect on how much God loves us. I've noticed that as I get older, these songs tend to leave me with teary eyes and emotions I can't quite put into words. One of my newest favorite songs (it changes weekly) is Jason Gray's song More like I'm falling in love. You can listen to it here.

There is just something so true and honest about the message in his song. Love is one of the strongest emotions we are able to experience. It brings to our minds past memories, smells, tastes, sounds and visions. Love is very powerful. What makes us fall in love with someone or something? What keeps us in love? Aside from the initial rush of feelings, love is a choice. I have chosen (by way of researching, learning, feeling and trusting) to believe in God. It's very easy for me to believe in Jesus but it's even easier because I have fallen in love with Him. The same is true of my husband and my kids. No matter what happens in life, I'm committed to them because I love them.

We need to achieve the same "in love" feeling when it comes to dreaming up and writing out our characters. The lyrics in Jason Gray's song are not only true when it comes to believing in Christ - they are also true of our writing. Here are a few of my observations:

1. "I need more than a truth to believe, I need a truth that lives, moves, and breathes, To sweep me off my feet..." We need more than characters that move along our story. We need to believe that what our hero/heroine is facing is important and relateable on a personal level. Readers want to be swept off their feet with compassion and likability for our characters.

2. "More like losing my heart, than giving my allegiance..." If I spend $14.99 on a book I feel like I have a certain responsibility to the characters I read about...It's my job to love them, to cheer them on, to hope for their success and happiness. And yet sometimes I'm so disappointed in the characters that the entire book falls apart for me. Just choosing to buy the book guarantees my allegiance to the main characters. But I want more from them. I want to lose my heart to them also.

3. "In more than a name, a faith, a creed. Falling in love with Jesus brought the change in me..." I love books that focus on real life questions and issues that believers and nonbelievers face. But the decision to change, to believe, to place ones hope in something is not due to policies and procedures. People change because they have fallen in love with Jesus and what He is able to do for our lives this side of heaven. He is the highest motivator. Readers won't believe anything you write about your characters unless you are able to make the connection from words to feelings.

What makes you fall in love with the characters you read about? What are your writing tips that get readers hooked on your characters?

Thursday, September 9, 2010


I mentioned in one of my earlier posts that I was looking forward to having some down time to write, now that two of my children are in school three hours a day. Well, let me just say - that statement was completely naive and perhaps a bit wishful on my part.

Since my kids started school I haven't had any time to write. Most days, I barely get home before I have to turn around and pick them up again. Sprinkle in a little ballet, T-ball practice, Bible study groups, errands, gymboree and homework time and I feel like I'm living in my car.

My kids seem to have adjusted nicely. They enjoy school and are not at all bothered by the earlier start to our days or the time we spend in the afternoon doing "homework".

I am not adjusting as well. I am struggling with the constant "go" of our new schedule and truth be told, I miss my kids. I know they are where they're "supposed" to be. I know they're learning new things and being taught by qualified teachers. And I know that they have fun and are making new friends. But I still feel as if there is just something not quite right about taking my kids to school. I hate not being with them all the time and I hate even more that I don't know how every second of their day is being spent. That sounds a little crazy, even to me. My husband would call it controlling. I call it involved parenting.

I can't help but notice that homeschooling seems to be a growing trend. Everywhere I turn, I meet a new family that has chosen to homeschool their children. I admit that I am somewhat envious of these families. Since I love to plan and organize, learn, teach and most importantly be with my children, I am very drawn to the idea of homeschooling. However, I also have many misgivings about my desire to homeschool. Am I qualified? Am I organized enough? Will I be able to stay on task? Will there be huge gaping holes in their education if I were to teach them? Would people look at us like we were crazy? Am I smart enough and capable enough? I'm not sure about any of these answers. But what I do know is this: Even though my kids are in traditional school and even though it is going along perfectly fine, my kids are learning and growing - I can't shake the desire to pursue homeschooling.

So for now I will do what I do with most things that confuse me...I'll keep praying about it. And we'll keep adjusting.

Do you homeschool your children? Do you know of families that have chosen this method of schooling? What are your thoughts about homeschooled children?