Saturday, April 25, 2009

Endless Gifts.....

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Col 3:15

My personal giving of thanks
A choosing to be aware
and grateful for the myriad of gifts given

glistening fresh eggs

dandelion gifts from little boys

bigger boys who love to create

little rain boots for industrious tiny feet

happy daffodils perched on my above my kitchen sink

in addition:
a husband who leads his family with such grace
spring rains and rumbles of thunder
a dozen reasons to seek the Lord
His faithfulness in being found

Are you being blessed by the purposeful finding of His endless gifts given to you? I'd love to have you join with me in giving thanks and praising God from Whom all good gifts flow.

filled with thankfulness,

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Grilled Pizzas, No-cook Spaghetti Sauce and Italian Seasoning Mix!

One of our favorite warm weather treats here is Grilled Pizza (aka "gorilla pizza"~ named by our younger boys).

My cooking style is definitely not gourmet, but I do love healthy, cost-effective meals that are family-pleasers. This one, according to the resounding cheers that are heard when the menu is announced, is a winner on all counts.

So, without further adieu, not one, not two, but three recipes for you! Remember, I am currently cooking for 12 (two children have grown up and left), so you may need to adjust these accordingly. Or, you might want to leave them in the quantity posted and freeze for a later meal~ your choice!

Grilled Pizzas

5 1/2 cup warm water
3 Tbsp. yeast
6ish cups freshly ground hard white wheat
1/2 cup honey
2 Tbsp. sea salt
3/4 cup olive oil
additional flour

Combine warm water, yeast and about 6 cups of the freshly ground whole wheat flour in Bosch mixer bowl. Mix until combined then turn off mixer, place lid on top and allow to "sponge" for 15 min. Add salt, olive oil and honey then, one cup at a time, add additional flour only until the dough "cleans the sides of the mixer." Allow to knead for 8 minutes on the second speed.

Once the dough is done kneading I place it in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap so it won't dry out.

I like to preheat our grill until it reaches about 350 degrees. Then I pull off an apple sized piece of dough, shape it into a small pizza crust (about 6" wide) and plop it on the grill.

The first time I tried this, I was convinced that the dough would fall through the grill or stick, so I used a non-stick spray on the grill first. Please don't try this... I'm fortunate to have hair still! Trust me, it really isn't necessary.

After placing the dough on the grill, I close the lid and let the pizza crusts cook for a few minutes without topping them.

Once they are lightly browned on the bottom, I flip them

and then add the toppings of choice. Tonight we went very simple, with spaghetti/pizza sauce (recipe below), mozzarella cheese, and pepperoni.

When the garden is producing well, I love to add fresh sliced tomatoes, green peppers and all sorts of other goodies. The really thick veggies can be pre-cooked directly on the grill before placing them on the pizzas. Fresh, homemade goat's cheese is a super-yummy treat as well. When we have lots of milk in the spring from our little Nubian dairy goat herd, I love to include fresh mozzarella cheese~ such a great treat!

Once I have topped the pizzas, I again close the lid on the grill and allow them to cook for a few minutes, just until the bottoms begin to brown. At that point I transfer them to the top rack of the grill to continue to bake and start a new batch of pizzas on the lower grill.

If you want to pre-cook some pizza crusts for a later meal, it works best to cook them most of the way, lightly browned on one side and not quite starting to brown on the other, then freeze with no toppings. When you are ready to cook them, simply pull them out of the freezer, let them defrost partially, then top the browned side and cook on the grill until done. Delish!
Yield: 25 6"-8" grilled pizzas! Yummy!

Up next: the recipe I promised you for "no-cook" (really! and it's quite good!) pizza or spaghetti sauce. This is a staple for us. I keep it in the freezer, frozen in quart zipper freezer bags. I use it for pizzas, for pizza stromboni, for spaghetti and meatballs, etc. It freezes really well, is super-quick to make and tastes great too!

No-Cook Pizza or Spaghetti Sauce

4 lb. 4 1/2 oz. can crushed tomatoes (think Sams size!)
4 tsp. garlic, crushed (for me, that is a minimum~ I love garlic!)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. honey
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning (recipe following)

OK, this one's tough. Mix and freeze. I usually multiply it and use four or five of the large Sams size cans of crushed tomatoes at a time. Once it is mixed I ladel it into quart sized freezer zipper-type bags and freeze. Be sure to tell the children who might carry the bags to the freezer to lay them flat to freeze!

Italian Seasoning

1/3 cup Oregano, dried and crushed
1/3 cup basil, dried and crushed
2 Tbsp rosemary
1/4 cup thyme
1/4 cup sage
1/4 cup marjoram

Mix and store in an airtight container. Yield: about 1 1/4 cup.

Hope you enjoy these as much as we do~ feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions, etc. I'll do my best to answer!


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Refrigerator Scrabble....

We have had so much fun with this today....

I had an old Scrabble game that was given to us. We are not big Scrabble players, so I originally planned to use the letters on scrapbook pages; then I had the fun idea of putting magnetic tape pieces on the back and putting them on the fridge!

The little boys have had so much fun spelling words. Now if I had given them a piece of paper and asked them to spell..... that would not have been nearly as enjoyable!

I believe that the next time I am at the thrift store I will search for another Scrabble so we can add letters.


Praising Him.... I can't help it

When you have a minute, watch this. My heart, too, longs to praise Him.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tuesdays Unwrapped

Ok.... I am all over this one~ check out chatting at the sky ~ Tuesdays unwrapped. A glimpse of the day, rejoicing in the ordinary. Love this~ I need to slow down. My days are typically run at breakneck speed and I love being forced to slow down and appreciate all that has been given me.

So, here's today's pic~ delicious whole wheat bread dough ready to be shaped and go into the pans to rise. Thank You Lord that, as good as homemade bread is, You are the Bread of Life~ all my heart really needs.

One thing...

But the Lord answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things;
but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her." Luke 10:41,42

Cease striving and know that I am God;
Psalm 46:10

The lists that I love to keep and check off are good. They help keep me on track and I find a sense of delight in completing items on the list and marking them done.

For true fulfillment though, only one thing is needful. Time with my precious Savior. As the demands on my time and concerns on my heart mount, I find myself seeking my Lord~ meditating on the Word memorized and hidden in my heart, grabbing my Bible and feasting on His Word in small times that I can set aside for Him during my day.

"Mom! Mom! Hey guys, where's Mom?" "Look on the back porch in the sun. She's there reading her Bible." I don't read God's Word or memorize it to gain any "points" or impress anyone. I read, memorize and meditate because I am desperate for Him, passionately in love with Him and I am very aware of my shortcomings and how much I need Him to be the wife and mother that He calls me to be.

As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God.
Psalm 42:1

I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.
Job 23:12

Seeking Him with you.....

Monday, April 20, 2009

Enjoying life here...

Spring is shyly and quite reluctantly making an appearance here in the Midwest. I believe that the Red Bud trees are a full month later in blooming than last year. We are thoroughly enjoying the color and warmer temperatures though, late or no.

Look! Sweet little violets!

We are all taking deep breaths of rainy, spring-freshened green-growing-things air and laughing together outdoors.

It just doesn't get much better than this.

The boys and I took a stroll through our little wooded area this afternoon and had fun laughing and playing with the May Apples that are abundant there. Here's Josiah....

And Josh as well~ laughing and having fun together.

In other news on the home front, we have added another driver-in-training.

And I thought I had an idea of what it meant to intercede before!

Miss Susie is growing and growing....

Abbie is such a good "mommy" to her little squirrel.

and, get this, I almost caught a picture of her yawning! OK, so it's a little blurry, but it is super difficult to be ready to snap a photo of a baby squirrel yawning!

Well, that yawn sums it up for me as well. I'm off to bed. Tomorrow will begin early here.

Blessings to all!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The latest from our home...

Hooray for spring!! After what seemed like weeks and weeks of dreary, colder-than-normal weather, the sun made an appearance today! Yay!

Pansies are my absolute favorite spring treat~ their bewiskered faces smiling at me each time I glance out the front door make me smile as well.

I thought I'd fill you in on some of the fun we've been having around here of late. In a family of our size, birthdays are a regular occurance. This past weekend, in addition to celebrating Easter, we were blessed to celebrate not one, but two birthdays! To top off the fun, our oldest son Nate was unexpectedly able to come home from Fort Drum, NY for a visit!

First, on Saturday, miss Hannah turned 17!

We like to focus on blessing the birthday person on their day, but do not like to promote greed, so birthdays are usually celebrated with family, including grandparents, if they are in town. Of course, with a dozen children plus grandparents, we have quite a merry gathering without having large groups of children other than our own over! We try to choose gifts that are more in the category of "tools" rather than "toys," and, as a result, even our boys are excited to receive clothing for their birthday, along with a fun item or two.

For the younger boys, toys that require some building skills or imagination are especially appreciated and tend to be longer-lived than remote-controlled plastic 'junk.' For instance, Legos, Duplo, Playmobile (some sets aren't as appropiate as others), art supplies, Wedgits, and, when age-appropiate, real tools (like hammers, saws, drill-bits, etc) are very popular.

This year, the younger children each made a special birthday card for Hannah, and Nate purchased a very pretty necklace for her. In the past she has requested sewing supplies and patterns and piano music from her grandparents and Tom and I, but this year she chose some pretty things from the Victorian Trading Company. We are blessed to have an outlet here in Kansas City.

This celebration was extra fun as Nate had two friends from out of town visiting.... Ally and Emily. We all laughed and had a great time!

Then on Easter Sunday, after spending the morning in the Urgent Care Center of our local children's hospital with Timmy (he had a terrible asthma attack, but is doing great now), we were able to celebrate Gabriel's birthday! He is now 14, and significantly taller than me. (I just love having so many big boys around the house!)

For his birthday, Tom and I and my parents added some money to what Gabe had saved and helped him purchase a used, refurbished computer! He is really enjoying using it to learn computer animation. We do require it to be used primarially as a tool (only once homework and other responsibilites are completed each day), and do not allow it to be used as a 'toy' very often. In addition, he does not have internet access.

Nate purchased an Easter lilly for me at church on Sunday, even though I was at the hospital with Timmy~ I do like having older boys!

Here he is, proving that you can be 'manly' and hold a lilly too!

And here we are together....

Truly it is such a delight having grown up children who love the Lord and desire to serve Him. My heart is full.

Finally, introducing,........ Abbie's pet squirrel, Miss Susie!

Abbie found her abandoned in our woods almost three weeks ago now when I was visiting my parents in Arizona. Once she determined that the babies really were abandoned, she became 'mommy' to three babies. Unfortunately, two died, but this one has done great and is thriving under her care.

Is that not an adorable face? Soon we will move Miss Susie to her outdoor home and hopefully we can help her make the transition to living in the wild.

Right after I took this picture, Miss Susie yawned~ and I missed it! If you have never seen a baby squirrel yawn, you have really missed something cute!

Hope you are enjoying your family and the spring weather as well.
Rejoicing in His goodness to me,

Monday, April 13, 2009

Free teacup notecards!

Look at these lovely blue and white teacup note cards!

Go to Alice Cantrell's blog "A Number of Things" to download this beautiful freebie! I'll bet you know someone who would be blessed to receive a handwritten note of appreciation or encouragement from you on this delightful stationary. It is such an unexpected treat to receive a real handwritten letter, don't you think?


Sunday, April 12, 2009

How Deep the Father's Love for us...

Ok... for me, three posts in one day is a lot, but I simply couldn't resist one last post. If you have a few minutes, watch and be blessed.

How Deep the Father's Love for us~

And finally, my very favorite Easter hymn...

O Sacred Head, Now Wounded... the lyrics for this hymn resonate very, very deeply within me.

Jesus Christ You are My Life

He is Risen!

"But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared.
And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb,

but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing;
and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, "Why do you seek the living One among the dead?
"He is not here, but He has risen. (Luke 24: 1-6)

He is risen indeed!!!!!

I am celebrating Easter (we like to call it Resurrection Sunday) here at home this year as I awoke to several sick children. Poor little guys! Tom and the healthy children will be able to attend church though.

Nate has been here this weekend on an impromptu visit~ we are having a wonderful time. My heart is full with all of the blessings given me~ foremost being eternal life and the blessings of a personal relationship with my precious Savior.

Rejoice in His gift to you, my friends!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A seed starting tutorial- part 2

Here's part two of my little tutorial on starting seedlings... If you missed part one, you can find it here.

Transplanting seedlings:
  1. Check your plastic wrap covered containers daily~ it's so fun to look for the green of new life there! The plastic does a great job of keeping the moisture in, but if the seeds take more than a few days to sprout, you will need to lift the plastic and mist the containers to keep the soil damp.
  2. Once you see the little seedlings begin to sprout, call your children so they can see too and do a happy dance!
  3. When the seedlings develop their first "true" leaves, it will be time to transplant them to divided 6-pack or 8-pack containers so they can each have their own little "home" to grow in. I re-use these containers from year to year and here again, friends save these for me. It is important to disinfect them before reusing them by soaking in a bleach water solution

These little rose seedlings are ready for transplanting. Yep, rose seedlings! I purchased the seeds from Park Seed and had great success with them. I am not sure how they will preform in the garden here (we have very hot humid summers here, so many roses don't do well without a lot of coddling, which I simply don't have time for), but for pennies a plant, they should be a fun experiment!

I like to use a popsicle stick to gently loosen the soil around each seedling and then remove it, being careful to retain as many of the roots as possible.

I like to place an inch or so of seed starting mix in the bottom of each six-pack.....

then I place the new seedling in and fill in around it with seed starting mix, gently firming the soil. Most plants should be planted at the same depth that they were growing when you removed them. One exception would be tomatoes... I always pinch off the lower leaves and bury them up to the lowest remaining leaves. New roots will grow along the buried stem, giving you a very healthy and bushy tomato plant.

Here are my little rose seedlings in their new home.

I give them a gentle dose of water and then place them back under the lights on my seed starting shelves to continue growing until the weather is more settled here.

About one or two weeks before our frost-free date I will begin "hardening them off," by taking them outside to a sheltered area for several hours a day, gradually increasing the time that they are outside until it is time to transplant them to the garden.

This really is not difficult to do~ is super-fun to do either by yourself or even more delightful with children and can save you a tremendous amount of money as well. Hope this was helpful for you. Please feel free to post a "comment" below if you have any additional questions or comments. I'd love to hear what you think!