A Potpourri Post

Well, Christmas is over, the snow is melted, there’s mud galore…I’m wondering how everyone’s Christmas was…and what you’re doing on this “day after”…

We hosted the family gathering this year, which was a real treat. Our home is small, but everyone was game. I printed off several copies of three different Christmas carols, wondering if I’d have the gumption to hand them out and suggest singing–kind of an old-fashioned activity at a Christmas gathering in 2008! And there were some deer-in-the-headlight expressions. However, when we all hit three different notes while singing “Sleigh Ride“…precisely at this part: “…at the fireplace while we watch the chestnuts pop. Pop! Pop! Pop!” the whole room full of would be carolers simultaneously burst into gut-busting, eye-burning hilarity. I think we’ll always remember the comic relief of that moment, especially when my four year old triggered another round by innocently asking, “What’s so funny?”

I have to share another funny with you…when preparing the Christmas turkey, I decided to put my “anatomy training” of poultry to the test. Remember my posting back in the fall about our farming neighbors showing us how to butcher turkeys and chickens? Well, my store-bought bird in hand, I set out to rinse its insides and feeling around the inner cavity guess what I unearthed? A hefty length of esophagus that should not have been there! Ugh!! Sometimes methinks a person can know too much!

Today has been a day of enjoying leftovers, good books and testing out all the Christmas gifts.

I have a couple of book recommendations for you all. These books stand out to me as some of my favorites of 2008:

As much as I enjoyed and learned from the above books, I’m sure I’ll blog more about them soon.

So what did you do today? Did you have time to pick up a good book? What was it, if you don’t mind my asking?

Christmas Ponderings

christmaspic1Merry Christmas all!

I hope you have a blessed day surrounded by the ones you love and filled with His love. I pray that you swell with joy and contentment at what He’s given you, which will outlast anything that came out from under a Christmas tree–I guarantee it!

And if you have the time and want something more to read by yours truly, I’ve posted at Writer…Interrupted today. Here’s an excerpt of  my Christmas Ponderings post:

But, I reflected on how “interrupted” Christmas has become in the couple thousand years since Mary became the mother of Jesus in that humble stable. When the “glory of the Lord shone round about” and even Herod knew something momentous had taken place.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the thrill of Christmas shopping, pulling favorite ornaments out of storage, singing along to “Sleigh Ride“and “White Christmas“…but every year there is a wistful part of me that wishes the glitzy side of Christmas was more complementary of the One we’re celebrating. Our humble Savior easily becomes a forgotten detail when the tinsel and house lights are at the top of the to-do list.

So visit over there today to see what I’m hoping to do to keep Christ in Christmas, both in my heart and in the hearts of my little ones…

Have yourselves a wonderful day!

(Yep, those are my three sweeties in this year’s Christmas picture!)

Sister Love

There’s nothing like the classic Bing Crosby movie, White Christmas for nudging the ‘sisterly lovins’ at our house (“Sisters, sisters…there were never ever better sisters”). Unless you’re watching, City of the Bees, that is. We were, watching City of the Bees, and towards the end of the 28 minute Moody Science video my youngest became quite squirrelly. Picture our whole family lounging in the master bedroom (where our only TV is located), five people on a queen sized bed with lots of pillows–that’s ten legs by the way–and when one of them is in squirm mode, it can feel like 25!

So my four year old lays half across me, her feet in eight year old’s face, and what does eight year old do? She lightly grabs four year old’s feet. Four year old pulls them back, giggling. “Don’t tickle, please don’t tickle!”

“I’m not going to tickle you,” eight year old murmered, “Lay still and I’ll rub your feet for you.”

Collective “ahhhh” anyone? Smile. That’s the two of them in the picture, by the way. Two buds if I ever saw any. Earlier during the movie, we all had our choice in an after supper dessert of mini candy bars, and of COURSE, four year old’s was gone in a lick and no splits, so she started mooching around, hinting, wanting a bite of someone else’s treat. My bar was history as well–guess she gets her hurry up and eat mentality from me–eleven year old was still disgruntled about a couple of skittles filched by littlest sis earlier in the day. But before youngest could ask, eight year old sat up from her stomach-lounge at the end of the bed and waved her candy bar in the air saying, “Anybody want a bite?”

Youngest practically hurled her little body to the end of the bed, mouth open like a starved birdie. Eight year old was like–“Hang on a minute, don’t take a huge bite now!” But after a teensy bite, eight year old told little sis to go ahead and take a bigger bite.

I love it.

And by the way, bees are pretty fascinating critters too.

How’s the love at your house these days? ‘Tis the season you know. The greatest gift of all originated from a Godly love we can’t fathom, a sacrifice we don’t deserve, and an eternal future so bright if we only believe.

May His love fill you to overflowing, and may it eclipse all the other things so quick to overshadow the reason we celebrate this Christmas. No matter what you’re going through, we have much to be thankful for.

Wishing you and yours a blessed Christmas!

Blender Breakfasts Using Healthy Whole Grains

This morning we had “Blender Waffles” made with uncooked long grain brown rice. How neat is that? If you’re like me, you didn’t know you could do such a thing without grinding your brown rice into rice flour first. Don’t have a grain mill? Got a tough blender? Read on.

One of my homeschool mom friends gave me an early Christmas present: Sue Gregg’s Breakfasts…with Blender Batter Baking Allergy Alternatives cookbook. Now I’ve always known that baking bread with whole grains that you’ve milled into flour yourself was best for my family, but this cookbook explains why in detail. Ever wonder why your typical white flour at the store is “enriched”? Because white flour doesn’t have all the life-sustaining nutrients that whole wheat flour has. So they’ve enriched it with iron and three synthetic B-vitamins, but that doesn’t nearly replace the more than 30 nutrients nor the fiber that’s been lost. The calcium content of whole grains, for instance, is four times that of white flour.

This cookbook doesn’t stop at explaining the various kinds of grains and which ones are more easily digested by allergy sufferers…Spelt, Kamut, Hard Red Winter and Spring Wheats, Hard White Wheat, Whole Wheat Pastry Flour, Corn, Oats, Brown Rice, Barley, Rye, Millet, Triticale, Buckwheat, Sorghum, Quinoa, Amaranth, Teff, and Wild Rice…it also goes into how to make homemade yogurt, your own cereals, blender batters, how to store your grains, where to find these grains, shopping lists, plus nutritional info on fruits, eggs, milks, nuts, etc. And a ton of nutritious tasty-sounding breakfast recipes.

This is a cooking textbook! A must have for any serious homemaker.

I devoured this book in two late night reading sessions–it’s that eye-opening! But the light really went on when I came to the section on “Whole Grain Blender Magic!”. Wow. You don’t need a grain mill if you have a good quality blender! To test your blender, throw some ice cubes in it and see if it will crush them. I didn’t think my blender was that great–after all, it’s 15 years old and smells hot every time I use it, but my good ole Osterizer came through for me for these waffles! Worked great.

Sue Gregg not only gives specific blender recipes, she tells you how to adapt the process to your favorite recipes. Now you can’t make yeast breads, cookie doughs or biscuits in your blender, because blender recipes rely on more liquids than you need for those things. But for waffles, pancakes, muffins, coffee cakes, crepes, and corn breads, you’ve got it made!

Now I’m assuming you agree with me that using whole grains is 100% better nutritionally. But get this. The author explains how soaking your grains (which is what you do when you use the blender recipes) for 7 hours or overnight allows the enzymes to break up the phytates in the fibers, allowing your body to get the maximum absorption of all the goodies in your whole grain foods. And talk about convenient. It took me less than five minutes last night to throw some buttermilk, vanilla, olive oil and long grain brown rice in the blender. After blending those for three minutes on high, I followed Sue’s directions on letting it sit in the belnder all night at room temperature. Then this morning we simply added the remaining ingredients, and poured the batter onto my steaming waffle iron…and the waffles were out-of-this-world!!! We all loved them.

To buy the Breakfasts cookbook, go here.

For a free whole foods cooking lesson with Sue, including pictures and recipes, follow this link. Hope you enjoy the blender waffles/pancakes as much as we have!

P.S. Brown Rice is gluten-free, so these pancakes/waffles are gluten-free! At the above link, Sue gives the recipe, but she recommends different combinations of grains. To use her recipe with brown rice only, substitute 1 cup raw brown rice…