Friday, December 7, 2012
If you haven’t already figured as much from reading this blog that we are a Bible-reading (and believing) house, then now you will discover such news! My husband and I both grew up in Christian homes and our faith is the most important thing in our lives . We make all of our decisions in life based upon what we feel God is calling us to do, what would please Him, what will bring Him the most glory, and we believe in the Bible and treat it as a firm foundation for our lives. While we each have our own “come to Jesus moments” in our lives, the lessons, songs, and illustrations (flannel graph anyone??) that we learned in our childhoods have been foundational in how we view the world.
Now that we are parents, our goal is to provide our children with the an understanding and comprehension of the Bible. We believe that knowledge of the Bible will help inform our children about the life that we lead and the choices we make, the God we serve, as well as give them a context as to how to sort through the many questions that they will encounter throughout their lives.
I have a Masters in Theology so picking through the foundational Bible stories and deciding where we should start has been an exciting task for me. I am naturally inclined to teaching, illustrations, and I truly love to do it. I know at first that teaching children, especially toddlers can be daunting, but I have found a few good tactics that have really helped us to teach Chip biblical truths and stories.
A good place to start are picture Bibles. My mom got Chip this book for his birthday last year, and I was kind of doubting that he’d be ready for it. But the pictures are fantastic! He loves to look at the animals, people, and nature settings in the book.
The colors are vibrant and the illustrations are great. On top of that, it’s a board book which, of course, is the only reason that this has been around for a year. The stories are only a few sentences long and the author does a good job condensing these stories down to a few key points. My First Read and Learn Bible can be purchased on Amazon, but I think that my mom found it at T.J. Max for an even better deal. What I really love about this Bible are the stories that the author chose to include:
The Story of Creation
The Story of Noah
The Story of Moses
David and Goliath
Daniel and the Lions
Jesus is Born
The Shepherds and the Wise Men
Jesus Does God’s Work
Jesus and the Little Children
I feel like these stories are key stories in both the Old and the New Testament and provide good conversation starters for things that inevitably your toddler will hear you discuss. For example, when Chip fell and had to have his tooth out earlier this fall, we talked at length about how Jesus would heal him and we learned about Jesus healing the blind man. Now, when someone is sick or hurt and we pray for them, Chip always points to his eyes in reference to this story. However, you will notice that a key story, the Crucifixion, is not mentioned. Sort of a big one, eh? But, I do think that this Bible serves the purpose of introducing Jesus and the narrative of Scripture to little ones, and then from there we can get a Bible which tells a more complete narrative.
We just purchased this Bible for Chip for Christmas. I have only skimmed through it, so I can’t speak too much to the stories it covers. However, it is a lot bigger than his first Bible, and the stories are more in depth. We feel really excited about this Bible as I know that Chip will recognize the stories from his first Bible, as well as learn new ones.
The colors, again, are vibrant and the illustrations are fabulous. This, however, is not a board book so until we can play nicely with books, it will remain on the highest shelf and only be used with supervision. The Jesus Calling Bible storybook is part of a series of books written by Sarah Young. She has devotionals for adults, kids and teens as well as children. We bought ours on Amazon, but I am sure that your local Barnes and Noble has it too.
One thing that has really helped me in getting things to stick into Chips mind are to pick out images, themes, or parts of a story that he is already familiar with. So, for example, when teaching him the Birth of Jesus this year, I built upon what he already knew. Since he has already been introduced to Jesus, that was a logical place to start. We taught him last year that Jesus lived in his heart, and so he knows who He is already. Below are a few aspects of the Christmas story that we were able to relate to things that Chip knows of in his day to day life:
Daddy: Chip not only knows who a “daddy” is, but can say the word, so we explained that God is Jesus’ Daddy. So now when we ask who God is, we get a resounding “DADA!” out of him.
Mama: Same thing here. We built on the concept of Mommy and taught Chip that Mary is Jesus’ Mommy. By pointing to Mary in these Bible stories, Chip has since been able to pick her out in a life-size nativity.
Choo-choo: I so wish there were trains in Bible stories. Ha! Chip is obsessed with trains so that would really make teaching these stories easier. However, instead, we explained that because they didn’t have trains, Mary had to ride into Bethlehem on a donkey. This was an important thing for me, as I want him to remember the donkeys for later conversations about Jesus riding into town on a donkey before He is crucified. Later in life, I hope that Chip learns to pick up on this symbolism in the Bible but in other literature as well. In addition, we can then point out donkeys and recall these stories when we visit petting zoos etc.
Animals: Chip loves animals and can make most animal sounds. So pointing out these animals that are in the story (lambs, cows, etc.) has helped Chip engage in the story more than if we left out their presence. We also discuss how crazy it is that they baby Jesus was born next to animals! My hope is that this will lay a foundation to later discuss how humble the birth of Jesus was.
These are a few things that we have found to be helpful. However, we are still learning! What are some practices that you have done to help your toddler learn about the Bible? Please share so we can learn from one another!
Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post. The authors, illustrators, or publishers of these titles have no idea who I am. In addition, I will not receive any money or gold stars if you purchase these books from the links above.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
I’m a firm believer in starting the morning with protein. I’ve been known to shed a tear over the need, and sight, of bacon. In fact, just the other day, I spotted some blueberry maple bacon at Whole Foods and lost it. My two year old looked alarmed and said “weird”. Fair enough child, fair enough.
You can put bacon in these, all veggies, cheese, beans…anything you want! I did scrambled eggs with spinach, avocados, chicken sausage, black beans, and cheese. They re-heat so very easily, just three minutes in the microwave oven. Perfect for a quick breakfast on your way out the door, or just because you have a toddler who wakes up too early and you stayed up too late watching a TV show on Netflix acting like you are twenty-one again.
Fill ‘er up. Roll ‘er up. Wrap ‘er up.
I am assuming these can stay in the fridge for quite some time, but I honestly don’t know because ours were gone in about a week. Enjoy!
DIY Frozen Breakfast Burritos
Yield: 10-12 burritos, depending on amount of tortillas you use
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
This recipe was inspired by Frozen Burritos on Tracy's blog, Shutterbean. I used her technique only made them into Breakfast Burritos instead!
Your choice here! Below is the list and ratio of what I used, but be creative and make your own stellar combinations!
1 dozen eggs (approximately one per burritos)
1 cup spinach, chopped
1 can black beans
2-4 avocados, depending on how much you want in each one
1-2 cups of shredded cheese (your choice of blend)
1 package large flour tortillas
tin foil, cut into large enough pieces to wrap each burrito successfully
Gallon bags if you think that your burritos will not be eaten in a quick period of time
Sour cream (optional) for placing on top after you heat it up.
Scramble eggs according to your liking. I chopped up the spinach and put them into the eggs to fool my toddler. :) (It worked!) Once eggs are cooked, set aside. Cook sausage or meat of choice according to your liking, and set aside. Open all other ingredients and set them out so that it's easy for you to grab a small amount and place them in each burrito.
Wet a thin kitchen towel and ring out so that it's still damp, but not dripping wet. Wrap the damp towel around all of the tortillas at once and microwave on high for 1 minute. This allows the tortillas to be folder easier and prevents breaking. Unwrap towel and begin your assembly line! Don't put too much in each burrito, or you will have too much filling and your burrito will break. Fold up that baby like you've seen them do so many times at chipotle, being careful to fold in the sides and then wrap up the burrito in a piece of tin foil. Mark each burrito with the date so you are aware of when you made them, place in plastic bag, and place in freezer.
To heat up these burritos: Remove form tin foil and heat on high for 3 minutes. Done! Add sour cream if you feel so inclined!
Thursday, November 22, 2012
We are all wired so very differently. I see this in the fundamental differences as my husband and I squeeze toothpaste onto our brushes. He pushes from the end and I just squeeze in the middle. Some of us are planners, type-A’s who really and truly like structure, who enjoy a good agenda, and don’t enjoy steering off the course. Some of us are coffee people, while others still, prefer tea.
Me? I’m a bacon gal. I enjoy a good, rich cup of coffee with a splash of milk, but not stirred. I’d rather the milk find it’s own way in the dark liquid roast. I appreciate a beautiful feast and when things are prepared with love, care, and a unique twist, I will absolutely, most definitely cry. My parents tell me that when I was little I threw tantrums and that period of time lasted for about a year. This week as I was reading a book on discipline to figure out a bit more about how my own child’s actions give me insight into how he is wired and it’s said that the most sensitive children are the ones to throw tantrums. As an adult, I see that this is probably true. There are times that I see an injustice, a picture of love, or a beautiful meal and in seconds I’m in tears-still sometimes the only way I know how to process something of great magnitude.
And so, I’ve learned to implement a few rituals in my life which help me mull things over and process them in a way other than an overflow of emotions. Although these change with the seasons, my rituals of late include sipping a glass of wine, Adele, yoga, Mumford and Sons, a long run, cooking, and, of course, a hot cup of coffee.
My husband and I, we are wired so very differently. Beautifully different as we fit like puzzle pieces in many regards. He’s not an emotional processor, but a decisive man who is committed to his decisions and the integrity of them. He doesn’t waiver, but thoughtfully and silently prays and thinks things over until he’s confident enough to announce his thoughts. While I’m still processing through the first page the ink I’ve scribbled on my heart, he’s waiting patiently at the end. Most of the time, we end up on the same page, and when we don’t, we wait and talk some more until we get there. But most of the time, as long as I’ve taken the time to process, and he to think and pray, we find one another there.
Risotto is a dish that takes awhile. There is a process of constant stirring, adding and stirring some more. Albeit the need to process, this one is more of a hands off version. There is less time spent during the cooking and more time spent on the preparing and enjoying. Because the process isn’t just in the cooking, each step plays and equal role.
Bacon Herbed Risotto
Yield: serves 6
1½ tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 yellow onion, chipped
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1 pound bacon ( I used Applewood smoked bacon but your favorite kind will do perfectly)
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
¾ tsp. salt
2 cups white rice (medium grain rice is recommended. I didn't have that, so I just used a long grain rice)
1 cup dry white wine
2 oz. grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
2 tbsp. minced fresh chives
Ground black pepper to taste
Place 1/1/2 tablespoons butter into a large skillet over medium heat. As butter begins to melt, place onions in with the butter and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent. Once the onions are translucent, remove form the heat and skillet, place them on a plate to cool and set aside.
Using the same skillet without removing any of the grease from the onions, begin to cook the bacon according to your liking. I enjoy my bacon cooked all the way through but not crispy. To this end, I cook the bacon over medium to low heat about 3-4 minutes on each side. Once bacon is done, remove from heat and set on a plate to cool. Once bacon is completely cooled, chop into small pieces (or larger) according to what size bacon pieces you'd like in your risotto.
Use a large saucepan and bring the chicken broth and water to a simmer. This may take a few minutes, but better to wait for it using medium to low heat than to use high heat. Once it's simmering, leave it on low, high enough to continue to simmer but low enough to not allow it to boil.
Add 2 tablespoons butter to a large, heavy bottomed sauce pan or dutch oven and place over medium-high heat. Once melted, add the rice and stir constantly, allowing the rice to cook and the edges become translucent. This process will not take long, only about 3-4 minutes. Add the wine, and continue to cook until the wine is fully absorbed, approximately another 5 minutes. Slowly stir 5 cups of hot broth and water mixture, and switch to medium-low heat. Continue to simmer, stirring only twice, until liquid has been absorbed into the rice and the rice is fully cooked. This will take only about 15-20 minutes.
Once cooked, stir in 3/4 more cups of the hot broth and water mixture and stir gently until the risotto becomes creamy. Add more mixture if you feel as though you'd like the consistency to be thinner. Stir in the parmesan cheese. Remove form heat, cover and allow it to sit for 5 minutes.
While risotto is resting, get the bacon, onions, lemon and herbs ready. After the 5 minutes is up, stir in the remaining ingredients so they are equally incorporated. At this point, again feel free to loosen up the risotto a bit more by added more of the broth and water mixture.
Serve warm and enjoy!
Friday, November 2, 2012
Hey y’all! I’m so excited about today’s post. My sweet sister-in-law, Mariel, has a fabulous paelo food blog and she so kindly agreed to share a recipe with you all today! Mariel is from Ecuador, and this is one of her childhood recipes. No, it’s not paleo, but she has tons of delicious cave-man foods on her site, Amazing Paleo-check it out! Her recipes have been featured on Bodybuilding.com and she also is an amazing fitness expert. If you have any questions at all, don’t hesitate to ask. She loves to help and you won’t get any bad advice. Seriously, y’all. My legs are toner because of this woman.
Mariel is one of the sweetest, kindest, and most determined people I know. She has a huge heart and her kind spirit is contagious. I am so grateful that she married my husband’s brother, and I feel so blessed that we will be friends for life.
I had the pleasure of having some of this traditional Ecuadorian cake when I visited Mariel last time. It’s DELICIOUS…the perfect amount of sweet, and I’d recommend trying it alongside a cup of coffee. Enjoy my friends!
Bonnie and I met 3 years ago during a family dinner at our in-laws. It was my first time meeting my husband’s entire family (my husband and I had just started dating at the time and he took me to his parent’s house for some quality family time).
Bonnie and Cy were visiting the family in Idaho for a few days. I think it was wintertime, since I recall wearing a red scarf with a matching red hat.
During dinner, I kept thinking the Lewis family was wonderful…they were all so nice and so very entertaining. By entertaining, I mean hilarious and crazy. They had great memories to share and were amazing storytellers, keeping everyone at the dinner table laughing and interested. The conversation took a million different routes; everyone participated and shared little stories about their most recent adventures.
I vividly remember what was served for dinner…a wonderful Teriyaki Chicken with sautéed vegetables and white rice. So incredibly yummy! Can you guess who helped prepare it? Yes, the lovely Bonnie (along with Rachel, our other sister-in-law who is a great cook as well).
Ever since that first day of meeting Bonnie, I’ve admired her. One can instantly tell her love and passion for the Lord, and her natural kindness to those around her. She is so good with people, bringing nothing other than a positive attitude and love to the table. Isn’t that wonderful? Another great quality of her is her writing skills.
She has been a total source of inspiration to me in that area. I’ve always admired her love for sharing her life experiences and recipes. Bonnie started her blog back in 2008 and since then, she has greatly succeeded at sharing her story with the world. She shares her everyday occurrences, her successes and scares, and her love for food and family.
I have to thank her for bringing so much joy to me through her words. I am sure thousands of other would agree with me on this one. Here is to you Bon and to many more years of blogging success!
It is a huge an honor for me to be a guest on this blog. Hope you all enjoy this Ecuadorian inspired recipe!
Torta de Maqueno (Tradition Ecuadorian Plantain Cake)
Tools You’ll Need:
- 9x13 in baking dish
- Mixer/mixing bowl
- Wooden Spoon
- 6 medium plantains (very ripe)
- 3 eggs (separate yolks from egg whites)
- ½ cup raw honey
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 oz. melted butter
- 8 oz. finely grated Queso Fresco (no salt added)
- Zest of ½ lime
- Non-stick spray
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Spray your baking dish with non-stick spray.
3. Place egg whites in your mixing bowl and mix them thoroughly until they become like white foam (using fresh eggs and a dash of salt can help reach the desired consistency better and faster). Set aside.
4. Place plantains in your mixing bowl and smash them with your fork until you get a paste-like consistency.
5. Add brown sugar and melted butter to your plantain paste, mix for about 3 minutes.
6. Add yolks, cinnamon, vanilla extract and mix thoroughly.
7. Add in the finely grated Queso Fresco and combine.
8. Add white foam (egg white mixture) to the rest of your ingredients; incorporate using a wooden spoon.
9. Pour mixture in baking dish and bake for about 40 minutes.
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Thirteen point one. That’s how many miles I ran yesterday with my husband in a local half marathon. As my feet pounded on that pavement, one foot in front of the other, I realized that there is no point in counting down the miles that are left as I hit each marker. Because until you are at mile 8, the number of miles left is daunting. So you have to take it one step at a time. One breath in and another out. You have to learn to settle in and enjoy the ride.
I’ve been a runner since high school and although it may have been my motivation at one point, numbers on the scale is not what gets me to clock seven, eight, or nine miles. Running, like the Good Word, sets you free. It is designed to let us tune into our natural instincts, set our feet on the ground beneath us, and allow ourselves to go forward. Fast. Slow. Paced. But going forward none the less. And as my husband and I took one step after another this weekend, I was reminded of the reason that I run. I run because it reminds me to take life in the same way I conquer the long distances; one step at a time, remembering to breathe, and that when I get to those hills-I keep my eyes only a few feet in front of me.
Our training is over, but like a true runner at heart, I can hardly wait to get in my Vibrams again and go for a long run. I know my body needs at least one day of rest (according to the advice from the pros, maybe even a week…or two) but rest is not something that I am necessarily good at. Chip still naps and I am so grateful because it’s a few hours each day that I’ve had to learn the art of resting. It’s a discipline that I’ve really had to teach myself over the past two years and I’ve gone from being a person that got little to no sleep and hardly did anything for fun, to a person who needs to rest and recharge in order to preserve my sanity.
My times of rest aren’t necessarily times of sleep, but of exploring and doing things that are life giving and cultivate joy. And on one of these moments of rest, I made a shake. My feet had just finished pounding the pavement on yet another long run, and I wanted something sweet, yet life giving. So chocolate, although desired, would not rejuvenate my body. But it was nature’s candy (dates!) that did the trick.
And those dates turned out to be a good choice on many levels. The sweetness they provide matches perfectly with the coconut milk and fall spices of this smoothie. It’s a genuine sweetness that’s not contrived, altered, or fake. It’s a natural and free flavor in which I’m reminded that we all are at our best when we are ourselves. And after doing a bit of researching about the food that I was consuming (and feeding my family), I found a quality about dates that reinforced my discipline to rest.
You see, the date tree takes it’s time before it produces any fruit. Anywhere from four to eight years in fact. It grows, strengthens, and waits until the timing is just perfect before it shows it’s sweetness to the world. It’s patient, and even goes through four stages of ripeness each with their own unique qualities, both good and bad. At what stage they are picked depends on who is eating it, of course. And after they begin producing fruit, they will continue to do so for the next ten years.
And while I’m absolutely not waiting four to eight years until I run again, I am remembering that there is something to be said about gaining strength and taking time to rest. Because when I do, my next run is always stronger. My feet remain one in front of the other, but the power behind them is that much greater. I run with a new excitement, and my stamina not only in the moment, but in the months of training ahead is much, much greater. I am stronger. I am rested. I am free. And the success of each race is just that much sweeter.
Date Nut Smoothie
Yield: 2 smoothies
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk, or any nut milk will do
5 (or more) dates, pitted (The number of dates you put in here will determine how sweet your smoothie is,)
1/2-1 teaspoon nutmeg (depends on how much spice you want)
1/2-1 teaspoon cinnamon (again, depends on how much spice you want)
4-6 ice cubs
Pit the dates by making a small but downy he middle and removing the seed. Place all ingredients in the blender, with the milk on the bottom and the ice on the top and blend according to manufacturer's instructions. If you have a frozen banana that will work as well. My blender is a BlendTex blender so the date were not chunky. If your blender is not as powerful, just simply chop the dates up into small pieces before putting them in the blender. Enjoy!
Monday, July 23, 2012
My parents just celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary, which also means their 42nd year visiting a sweet beach city. They have never missed a summer, and I have not either. It’s our family and our dear family friends that attend year after year. It’s the same people, dedicated to early mornings filled with the aroma of coffee and breakfast. Dedicated to packing up the car, rubbing on the sunscreen, and heading out to the sandy shore. It’s a small town that hasn’t changed too much over the years; the same coffee shops, flower stands, and pizza joints are things we look forward to each summer.
It’s the smell of summer. In the morning where the fog hasn’t lifted and even the sea gulls seem to step a bit quieter, the waves crash with a bit of hesitance because the tide is still so far out. The expanse of the beach is huge at the early morning hours and our goal is to find one thing: sand dollars. It’s the currency of our vacation, and while we search the shores, we feel so very small again; a feeling that I know is an essential part of my worldview. It’s still at that hour. As I step on that beach each day during our vacation I breathe deeply in and count my blessings. There’s something magical about this place. All debts are forgiven at the beach.
On this particular morning we pulled up to our beach home and I could smell the delicious breakfast that was being prepared inside. We quickly set the table, distributed the coffee, and sat down together. Meals together. With no television. No electronic devices. No newspapers. Just us. Friends. Family. Loved ones. Our gestures and conversations are filled with years and years of stories and memories. There is a trust that is deep, a love that is tangible, and as we each dig into our dishes, we are reminded of the goodness of food, the deliciousness of friendships, and how good it feels to be stuffed to the brim with both.
We dove into an egg dish prepared by making scrambled eggs the way we enjoy. We added cheese, spinach, zucchini, and sausage. And then we placed all of it, plus a bit of extra cheese into a puff pastry and baked it accordingly. It’s such a wonder and totally refreshing that the eggs don’t overcook when wrapped up in the pastry goodness. A reminder of the necessity of having close friends and families to keep you warm and wrapped up, while allowing you to be yourself. It’s a bit crispy on the outside and the eggs are cooked perfectly on the inside. The cheese holds it together and separates in that gooey, delicious way that you only see on commercials with that perfect grilled cheese.
We talked, we laughed and we made the plans for the day. Under the table are bare feet and little speckles of sand that we dragged in from the beach. We cleaned up, and the kids of the group, which are the kids of our parents, decided we would go on a run. And we ran. Up highway 101, onto a trail which gives the most breathtaking view of the ocean I have ever seen. There were hills that were hard, but my husband led the way, and our friend Andy picked up the rear with the girls in the middle. And we made it. We fought through the hills, we stopped and took in the scenery, we ran on the beach, and we grew tired. But we also were invigorated. We were together, and we were fueled by the history we all have, the future we all hold together, and the food inside our bellies.
My cup runneth over.
Country Breakfast Pot Pie
Yield: 6-8 servings
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 25 mintes
Total Time: 50 minutes
9-11 eggs (The number of eggs will be determined by the number of other ingredients you put into your eggs. We made two, one with only vegetables in which we used 8 eggs and one with vegetables and sausage in which we used 11 eggs)
Many other ingredients of your choosing. How much of these ingredients you put in here is totally your choice! Some options are:
summer squash or other seasonal vegetables
any additional seasonings
1 package pillsbury crescent rolls
1 tablespoon butter
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 11 x 13 baking dish and set aside.
Place all eggs into a large bowl, and whisk until egg yolks and whites are combined. Using a large skillet, heat butter over medium heat until completely melted. Add eggs to skillet and let sit for three or four minutes. Nothing will happen immediately, but as the eggs get a bit thicker, begin to stir in order to make a scramble. Add ingredients one by one until the various ingredients are cooked completely. Note: if you are using onions, brown the onions with the butter before adding any eggs.
While the eggs are cooking, pul out one package of pillsbury crescent rolls and lay them out in a star shape, by separating the triangles by the perforated edges and placing all the flat edges in the center and the pointed edges outwards into a star formation into a 11 x 13 baking dish. Remove the eggs from the heat, and place into the middle of the star formation, Take the pointed edges of the star formation and fold them over the center of the eggs, covering all sides of the eggs so that they do not spill out.
Bake for 25 minutes, checking after 15 and then every five minutes later. The dough should be golden brown on top yet cooked all the way through. Serve and enjoy!