The Valentine’s Day Incident and Herbed Rolls

I was trying to be the “good” babysitter, even though I wasn’t really babysitting.  I had just made a fresh batch of chocolate cupcakes, and, since we were going to watch a movie while Mom and Dad watched theirs (Valentine’s date), I thought I would be fun and let my siblings have cupcakes in the basement.

But I had this feeling of apprehension as I put some cupcakes on a plate.  They were chocolate…but hey, we had eaten other desserts in the basement without incident.  What difference would cupcakes be? Still.

I even made Meiling and Noah use forks.  Just to be safe.  Little did I know…

I had unwrapped Meiling’s cupcake and given it to her on a plate, and was working on prepping Noah’s, when suddenly their was a commotion.

Lucy had a cupcake – a chocolate one, at that – in her mouth.  Drake was doing his best to prevent her from eating it, while holding her.

I hastily set down Noah’s cupcake and grabbed the cupcake top (she wasn’t lucky enough to grab the whole thing) out of her mouth.  I squeezed as much frosting out of her “beard” as I could, then let her go.

“Take her upstairs!” I said to Drake, as I protected the cupcake-laden area of the floor.  Of course the cupcake had landed frosting-side down.  I sent Noah upstairs for a bowl (also, the frosting-side-down had landed right in the middle of the toy cars and road rug that were all over the floor) to put the dirty cars in.

And then we started laughing.  And laughing.

“Well,” I said to Drake, “At least her breath smells better now!”

There was just something so funny about the whole business.  I had to go interrupt Mom and Dad.  And, laughing, tell them the whole thing.

Lucy had hopped up on Meiling’s lap, since Meiling was sitting on a low chair, and snatched the cupcake right off the plate.

The little stinker.

Lucy didn’t ingest enough chocolate to make her sick, and we got the ensuing mess cleaned up quickly and got our movie rolling shortly.


Recently I picked up The Joy of Gluten-Free Sugar-Free Baking at the library.  I was really thrilled, since it uses all sorts of nut and seed flours.  I tried one of their roll recipes, and they turned out wonderfully!  Their waffle recipe was AWESOME, also.  I am hoping to try another recipe before I return the book, and before the week is out.


My rolls






Meal Planning

Today I did our meal plan for the month of November. 

(I know you are think “Aren’t you a little late?  It’s the eighth.”  I would have to say yes.  But, hey, better late than never.)

I love having a meal plan.  It takes the hard work out of making dinner.  When Mom asks me what we should make for dinner, I don’t have to come up with something.  I can just say, “I have to go look on the fridge.”

It makes it so much easier.  Less of the thought process involved.

I am also especially excited because all the recipes for this month, except for four, are new.

We have a need to keep our dinners simpler, and I have been somewhat failing in that regard.

I made some slow cooker chili this past month, and LOVED how easy it was.

So I wanted to make some more slow cooker meals.

But this can be a little difficult, since so many recipes call for unhealthy ingredients.

I decided to search for Paleo crock pot recipes.  And that turned up so many results.  I can’t wait to try them.

Not all of them are fancy.  Some are rather “ho-hum.”  But that’s O.K.

Some look AMAZING.  I am particularly excited about those.  😛

I am going to be using our crock pot often this month.  And I am looking forward to it.


Until the next post,


P.S.  I am looking forward to making some chocolate truffles tomorrow.  Not that a container full of the Twix bars aren’t enough.  That recipe, though, left half a can of coconut milk in the fridge, and I need to use it.

P.P.S.  I am really enjoying the Twix bars.  Just in case you were wondering.  Not like there was any doubt. 🙂

Of Thankfulness and a Few Photos

Today is a lovely day.  It is not too cold, and I have finally warmed up.  I was cold most of the morning.  I need to switch to my winter clothes, and stop attempting to wear short-sleeved shirts, even if I do put a sweater over them.  ‘Cause I get cold.  But most of my winter clothes are thick, warm sweaters.  That makes it a bit hard to make a transition. 


That was NOT what I was planning to post about.  And I am sure that you didn’t exactly want to know about that.  But it just came.  Hmmm.

I have started listening to Christmas music already.  Not all Christmas music.  Just a few of my favorite songs.  And they are not the traditional songs.  Some non-traditional songs.

And they make me think.  They make me think about what I have.  My family.  My home.  Our lovely property. 

Really, just my life in general. 

I am so happy with my life.  I love it.  I am so glad this is where I am, right here, right now.

I am so glad that God has given my brothers and sisters, so I can influence them, and they can influence me.  It has been so fun growing up with them.  I love the late-night talks Drake and I have, talking about anything and everything.

I love being able to see where I am now, and look back and see where I’ve been.  Of course I don’t have a lot to look back on since I am only 17, but I look forward to the compounding memories, and to being able to look back and trace God’s providence through it all.

I love my life.  I feel like I have it the best that I could.

But I don’t love it in a way that I never want it to change.  I don’t want to push pause and stay here forever.

I love where I am.  But I am looking forward to what He has in store for me. 


Now here are a few pictures that I  have taken over the last few days.  This one is from German night (last week’s country).  The dinner did turn out FANTASTICALLY and we will have to make that again.



Making the spaetzle – I didn’t take that many pictures.  Confession:  I stressed.  So I didn’t take that many.

It turns out that spaetzle expand to about three or four times their original size when they hit the boiling water.  These in the picture, once cooked, where quite large.  We started cutting them smaller, and then Mom came to help us cut, and she cut them into the tiniest little bits.  They were the size all the spaetzle should have been.. Thanks, Mom!

I mentioned before that we made applesauce.  The first batch made 12 quarts and 3 pints.  We were able to get a second bushel of apples and that made 17 quarts and 1 pint.  I think we could use a few more quarts, but if we don’t, it’s not that big of a deal. 


Meiling running the strainer.  You insert the apples slices (skin, core, and all) in on side, and it separates it into applesauce and skin/seeds.  We usually run the skin/seeds through again just to make sure we get all the good stuff.  I love this thing!

Lucy was waiting for Meiling (or anyone, really) to drop something.  🙂  She’s just so cute!


Noah cutting apples


Daddy put noise cancelling headphones on Meiling (the mixer makes a bit of noise that can get a bit monotonous).  Meiling was such a great helper and worked the machine almost the whole time for the first batch of apples!


The canner and the pot of applesauce


Warm applesauce – this is AMAZING with a sprinkle of cinnamon

Dublin Coddle

Well, it is now officially September.  I am so enjoying the cooler weather.  We have had the windows open off and on the past few days, and it has even been a little chilly at nights.  When Mom and I were running errands on Saturday, I actually needed a jacket!  It was so fun to have to get my jean jacket out again!  I love fall.  It is one of my three favorite seasons (the other two are Spring and Winter), and is currently top on my list (although that could change in about 36.1 seconds.  You never know).

Well, with the onset of September, this is always a time of getting back into school.  Just something about the cooler weather and shortening days makes me want to get back to my books.

This year I am doing some unit studies with Meiling and Noah on different countries.  We just started this Monday, and I am having so much fun with both of them.  For each of the countries we are going to make a somewhat traditional dish.  It may be a dinner, it may be a dessert.  Disclaimer:  I am not making the meals very traditional.  Most of the dishes will probably be only semi-traditional.

Are you really that surprised?  I organize some unit studies, and they include food.  Amazing, I know.

This week we are learning about Ireland.  After perusing through some recipes, I found this recipe for Dublin Coddle.  It looked pretty simple and I thought everyone would like it (it has bacon).  I did make a few changes to it, and I also seasoned my own meat to use instead of the sausages, since I didn’t know when we would be able to find some.

Everyone liked it!  It was a bit too salty, but not too terribly salty that it couldn’t be eaten.  Next time I will decrease the salt in the “sausages.”

Here is my version of Dublin Coddle.

Dublin Coddle

2 lbs.  Bangers (or ground pork, seasoned, like in this recipe – just decrease the salt by about half!)
12 oz. bacon, cut into one-inch pieces
2 onions, halved and sliced fairly thick
3 cloves of garlic, minced
5 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and sliced (about the same thickness you sliced the onions)
1 to 1 1/2 c. of water or broth (I used the water since my meat was too salty)

1.  If using ground pork, mix it with the spices and form into small sausage shapes.

2.  Take the sausages (or your mini sausages) and fry them on medium heat in a Dutch oven or similar pan until brown on all sides.  Remove from pan, and cut sausages into four or five pieces (your mini sausages should be cut into halves or thirds depending on their size.  Just eyeball it).  Pour off the fat from the pan.

3.  Next, fry the bacon just until it begins to get crispy.  Remove the bacon to a bowl, and pour off all but about 2 tsps. of the fat.

4.  Add the onions and sauté until just starting to soften.  Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Remove onions/garlic from the pan and place on the pan.

5.  Now, according to the original recipe you are supposed to layer the stuff in like this:  first potatoes, then onions, bacon, sausage, potatoes, onions, bacon, sausage, and ending with potatoes.  After I got it all layered in my pot and added the water, I wasn’t sure if the potatoes would cook properly, since they weren’t covered with water.  So I stirred mine, trying to push the potatoes toward the bottom of the pot.  So I say:  just put everything in the pot, pour in the water, and stir gently.  If you try it the other way, let me know if it works.

6.  Simmer, covered, for about and hour, or until the potatoes are tender.  Serve warm.



Noah getting started on the “sausages”


Meiling waiting for a job 🙂






Noah forming the “sausages”


The little sausages


The finished coddle

In the Kitchen

Today Mom and the boys had many places to go.  Meiling and I stayed home.  After a few games this morning, we decided to cook up some yum in the kitchen.

When I received this book for my birthday, I wanted to try the soda recipe.  Today we made the Blueberry Lemon Soda.  It was very easy, although we won’t know how it turned out for a few days.  The soda needs to sit for a few days to carbonate.

After you make the syrup, there is a blueberry mixture left over.  The author suggests that you don’t throw it away, but make jam or a pie with it.  We decided to do the latter.  I pulled out my blueberry pie recipe, and we followed it as closely as we could.  The pie was pretty good.  Dad didn’t like it as much as the last time I made it, but it was still yummy.

For dinner, I am making Pioneer Woman’s Tequila Lime Chicken and her Mexican Rice, with beans and salad on the side.  Everything turned out wonderfully.  The rice was a bit spicy, though, and a little undercooked.  Still good, and definitely edible.  🙂

While I made dinner, Meiling set up a restaurant and was serving food.  She made a dish for her patrons she titles “mish-mash,” and looks like noodles. Hmm.  Not sure I want to try it.


The berry/sugar/water mixture, ready to cook – when I set this on the stove, Meiling looked at it and declared, ”That looks like chili powder!”


My little helper


The blueberry lemon syrup, ready to be made into soda


Meiling, with the syrup and soda in the foreground


For the pies, I needed to grate a green apple and squeeze all the juice out of it.  I put a little bit of sugar in it, heated it gently on the stove to melt the sugar,  and gave it to Meiling.  (When I put the juice on the stove , she informed me I was taming the sugar.)


She said it was good, but a little sour.


The pie filling


Mexican rice!


Lucy, doing what she does best – being cute!


Meiling taking orders at her restaurant


Her table


Serving her imaginary customers


Yes, that is mish-mash


The chef in the kitchen


My dinner with Mom’s margarita


Note the black diamonds on the chicken.  The recipe says to do that, but I only accomplished it on one side of one piece of chicken (out of 8 pieces of chicken).


Dad’s much prettier plate (his chicken doesn’t have the black diamonds, though).

I’m Back!

This week was pretty relaxing.  I know I didn’t post a whole lot, but that wasn’t exactly because I was busy.  I could have made the time.  I’m not sure why I didn’t.

Today Mom picked up a bunch of plants at the produce stand – they were $5 a flat.  She purchased some peppers – cayenne, pablanos, and bell – tomatoes, and a bunch of herbs.  Lavender, orange mint, some Greek basil, rosemary, Mexican tarragon, French tarragon, and thyme, to name a few.  I love thyme.  I just buried my nose into it and inhaled.  We were able to plant the peppers and the herbs in our raised beds.  I had a few more basil plants that I had started that needed to be planted, and between them and all the other herbs I planted, I feel “herb rich.”  It’s quite a delightful feeling.  A treasure chest full of flavor.

I also made some lemonade.  I love lemonade.  We had some at Pastor’s party, and it made me want to make some.  Well, it really made me want to drink some.  Which means I have to make some first.  And I did have quite a bit at the party.  But, as has already been stated, I love lemonade.

Yesterday I was able to remill some soap that we had had sitting around for awhile.  I grated the bars of soap up, put them in a pot with a few tablespoons of milk, and put that over low heat until it melted.  Once it was nice and sticky (and looking rather akin to mashed bananas), Meiling and I added some essential oils (grapefruit, lemon, and orange) and some oatmeal.  We had an old mini muffin tin, and I poured the soap gloop into that.  I put it in the freezer for a little bit, removed them from the tin, and then relocated it into the fridge for a little longer.  They should be ready to use now.

I saved some of the grated soap and combined it with some dried chamomile flower heads, oatmeal, and lavender and geranium essential oils.  I tied this little mixture up into a square of cloth with a piece of yarn.  It is my little face scrub.  I moisten it up and rub it all over my face.  It works quite well.


The supplies for my face scrubby – yarn, cloth, and a soap-based filling


Right before tying it up


All finished!


The kittens – aren’t they cute!  The one on top is my favorite.  They are wild, so we only got to hold one once.




The herbs


Aren’t they so pretty?

I’m Blessed

This past Saturday we helped a family in our church move.  I think this is my third church move to participate in (not counting our own).  I love it.  There is something very special about how our church comes together to help the family move.

I’ll give you a run down of what the day looked like so you get a picture of how this all worked.  The family we helped was moving from about 1 1/2 hours away to about 10 minutes away.  The first team of people started loading the truck at the old house at around 8 or 8:30 a.m.  Team 2 started arriving at the new house at 12:00.  The truck didn’t come until one, so after completing a few quick jobs we all had a great time visiting.  Not long after the truck arrived, the parade of boxes and furniture began.  The men, boys, and some of the young ladies were unloading the truck while the ladies and the rest of the young ladies started unpacking boxes or doing other odd jobs.  It went something like this:  the kitchen chairs were brought in, so a few ladies started wiping them down (moving is a great time to clean out and clean up).  When the table came in, one lady assembled it while another wiped it down, all the while having a conversation about farming.  In the meantime someone else is putting the food in the fridge with a few other young ladies, and the box parade is continuing.  As more furniture is being brought in, a few of us head to the master bedroom to start putting the bed together.  There are a few more boxes to be unloaded in the kitchen, so that gets taken care of.  Then someone hands me some clothes, so I take that over to the closet, where a few ladies are now sorting the clothes.  (They have this really nice large master bedroom closet, so that everyone’s clothes could fit in one closet.  Isn’t that convenient?)  When all was said and done, we out of there by 3:00.  There were still more boxes for them to unload, but the furniture was there and the kitchen was set up, and the house was starting to look like a home.

All this to say that I love watching our church in action.  This not only happens when somebody is moving, but when there is a new baby, or someone is ill.  Everyone pulls together to help.  They have become more family than friends.  It shows me one of the many ways in which I am so blessed by this wonderful, loving group of people that God placed me in.  We did this for them, and they did it for us, and, when the need arises, we will do it for them, and they will do it for us.  It is so wonderful knowing that.  To me, it is a great picture of how the church works.  I love all of you so much!

Have you ever been able to see the church in action?  Have you ever been blessed this way?


Last week Meiling, Noah, and I did some baking.  We made graham crackers from one of my favorite cookbooks, Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It by Karen Solomon.  They turned out very well – I think they tasted pretty similar to graham crackers you get at the store.  Well, that could be taken in a bad way.  They had  an identifiable graham cracker taste.

After the graham crackers, I made Cranberry Walnut Scones with some help from Noah.  They turned out quite well.  We had them at a friends’ house about four years ago, and they gave us the recipe.  I think I had only made them once before.  They are very good, even with the dried cranberries.  I am not a big fan of dried fruit in baked goods, but I don’t made the cranberries at all!


One of my little helpers


Ready to cut in the butter


Graham cracker dough


Time to bake!


Mmmm…of course it has to eaten off of a blue transferware plate!