Dusk is falling.  It’s one of those snowy dusks, which translates into everything just turning blue.  It’s really pretty.  Especially when viewed while drinking a dairy-free o.k.-sugar mocha.  Yes, I have FINALLY cracked the code and found out how to make a (see above).  Maybe I’ll tell you sometime.

Now I am (should be making) dinner.  And I should be posting about our lovely Thanksgiving (and my first 5k!) and our Winter trip to Branson (we got snowed in), but instead I feel like just posting what’s up.

Today I gave Lucy a shave.  May seem like an odd thing to do, what with the cold weather and all, but she was in desperate need.  So I gave her a good shave.  She still isn’t talking to me.  And by that I mean that when I call her, she doesn’t come, since I called her when we were cutting her hair, and she resents that.  Or thinks that I still have the clippers hidden somewhere.

I also baked a pumpkin that I had, cause it needed to be cooked so it didn’t rot.  Last time I cooked a pumpkin, Lucy helped herself to some, and it turns out she LOVES pumpkin.  And I found out that pumpkin is good for dogs.  So this time around I gave her some.  She wants more.  But man was she begging while I was working on it.  Those little puppy eyes.  Oh-so-cute!

So now I am cleaning up the kitchen and prepping dinner (fish).  And rocking out to music.  Everything’s better when done to music.

And my mocha’s cold now.  Oh well.  Still tastes good.

Off to dance and cook,

Frost. Ice. Books.

The theme for yesterday’s 6 Lenses photo was favorite book.  So I took a large stack of books and all the necessary extras out to the-trees-in-the-pasture-across-the-road to take a picture.

Now the distance from the gate to the trees seems quite long when you are hauling a wagon containing 2 bags stuffed with books, a thermos of tea (for the pictures, not to drink), a camera bag, a quilt, and a teacup, with the other hand holding the camera.  Also, the tall grass covered with ice didn’t aid my journey.

Basically, after hauling out there and back, I was tired.  And cold.

So when I was done, I went inside and started a pot of coffee.

Then I went back outside with just my camera and macro lens to take a few pictures before I went in to have my mocha.


These past few days have been normal, or as close to normal as my life ever comes.  Just the norms.  School.  Chores.  Dinners.  Nothing all that exciting.

Something a bit more exciting is that the first part of my midwifery correspondence course came last week in the mail.  Mom and I ordered the first group of books that I need for it on Saturday, and I started it today.  I can’t wait for my books to arrive (the earliest I can expect them is the 18th).  Oh, I am SO looking forward to reading and learning!

I am not currently planning any desserts this week – but I am hoping that we will be able to pick up another of my favorite chocolate bars (Lindt 90%).  I finished the one I had today.  It was really good.  And now I want more.

I am planning a few new dinners for later this week, from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.  We’ll see if they make it on here.  I haven’t been posting that many savory things lately – mostly just the sweets.  🙂

Oh.  I just remembered.  I will be making Mom some coffee chocolate chip coconut milk ice cream this week, and I will hopefully make Dad some chocolate peanut butter frozen yogurt.  I also owe my brother Noah a chocolate cake.  (For Christmas, I let both of my brothers choose any recipe they wanted, and I would make it for them.  Noah requested a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.  Drake wanted Brazilian Black Beans.  I think I am going to make Drake’s when I come off this diet, so I can eat it.  I really like Brazilian Black Beans.)  But I probably won’t make his chocolate cake until next week.  (I need to add all three of these things to my schedule.)

Well, that’s all for now, folks!

And now, a few pictures.  (You can never tell beforehand how long this section is going to be.)


The frozen grass I was trying to plow through




I should have tried to get this shot horizontally, but I guess I forgot.  Plus, this blade of grass was very close to the ground.  And normally I am not very close to the ground.  This made photographing it rather difficult.






Hate these things.  Vehemently.  I was VERY careful to walk AROUND them.


This is the photo I posted on 6 Lenses yesterday.  Couldn’t decide if I liked the vertical one…


…or the horizontal one better.  What do you think?


(Said with an accent) A spot of tea!


Throwing out the tea




Ice is SO FUN to photograph.  It has all the benefits of photographing water, except it stays much more still.  The only downside is that it is cold out.  Freezing cold.


There is a slight focusing difference between these two photos.  Which one do you like better: 1…


…or 2?












Grain-Free Chocolate Cupcakes

I should be blogging about our recent lovely trip to Branson.  We had a great time – seeing several shows and just hanging out (and we bought POP-TARTS!  I LOVE Pop-Tarts!).


(Isn’t it interesting what a big difference that one little word makes?)

I cooked a lot of food this afternoon.  French Onion Soup.  Chicken Marsala. And Grain-Free Chocolate Cupcakes.

I have recently gotten several Paleo cookbooks from the library and have had fun perusing them.  When I saw a recipe for Avocado Mocha Frosting in The Food Lovers Make It Paleo, I decided I needed to make it (as well as something the put the frosting on).

So I made the frosting, as well as their chocolate cupcakes.  I am SO HAPPY with how they turned out.  Mom thought they were a bit dense, and Drake wasn’t a big fan of the frosting, but I liked them.  I will probably make a different frosting next time, as the coffee flavor isn’t that strong.  It also tastes like the avocado pudding, so to me it tastes like pudding.  I’ll try a butter-based frosting next time (I think).  Or something slightly different.

But I love them.  And I would recommend the recipe.






Reformation Day Faire 2012

Last weekend was the Reformation Day Faire in Peoria, IL.  This was our second year, and it was very nice.  I especially enjoyed the dance that was on Saturday evening.

This year we rented a motor home, and stayed in that.  It was quite interesting.  Definitely very squishy.  It made for more comfortable traveling, I would have to say.  We also brought Lucy with.  Apparently she got out once while we were at the conference and ran around the church were it was held.  Mom had to chase her around and catch her.  I missed all this, and appeared right after she was caught.  Lucy really liked the motor home.  She was looking for it after we got home.

To give a brief synopsis:

Thursday Dad picked up the motor home and we packed it (this is also the day that I did these self portraits).

Friday we drove up to the Faire.  On the way, Dad surprised us with a copy of “The Avengers.”  I was so excited I started screaming.  😀  We watched that on the way up.  We made it there on Friday in time to hear one speaker.  The concert by the Wintons was that evening.

Saturday there were some talks in the morning, followed by the town square.  The boffer war was at 4:30, and dinner was at 5:30.  The dance was started at 7:30.

We stayed for church on Sunday morning, and left shortly after the fellowship meal.

And that’s that.

Here are some of the photos I took.  I didn’t take all that many during the conference, but I did take a bunch on the way home.  Why shooting through a dirty windshield while flying down a highway at 60 mph is fun I’m not quite sure, but it is.  🙂

Oh, and we also got to see the Wintons perform again!  I have the photos to prove it.  😛 I think this makes a total of 4 concerts in 8 days – 1 two Fridays ago, another the following Saturday, and then one this past Friday, and another this past Saturday.  I think we can definitely be called groupies.  🙂


Getting packed on Thursday evening – Meiling being funny


Friday – Lucy being her normal absolutely adorable self!


My silly brother.  Just got to love him.


Content passengers


Relaxin’, and my view, in a way


I worked on this post on the way up


Lovely view


[Does this need a caption?]


Meiling playing and looking out the window






Hey, look!  It’s the Wintons!


Meiling enjoying the concert


Saturday – walking to the park




An impromptu portrait session with two friends, Lily (pictured) and Josh (a fellow photographer) – see my Josh’s much better photographs here (and check out some of his other photos – he has some absolutely amazing ones of the Faire!).






My friend Bethany  😀


Sunday – on the way home, taking only too many pictures.  🙂


Lu, sitting on my lap


Self-portrait – these were so fun!


Now doesn’t this look like I was standing all calm and serene on the edge of this pasture, instead of flying down the highway?


“So away we go, down that forever road.”


The cards I was using to play Solitaire before I hopped up front with Dad


“Life is a highway…


…I want to drive it all night long.”




Crossing the river


“…makes me want to take a back road.”


Hi again!


Lucy’s here!


I love roads.  Oh, you could tell?  I wonder how you figured that out!


I love the greens in this one


This little blue car was so cute!


I couldn’t believe it, but at the gas station we stopped at, they actually had A DARK CHOCOLATE MOCHA!!!!  I haven’t seen one of these since we went to Branson, and I have looked at several gas stations.  I am so glad I finally found one.  😛


Meiling using her drink for a microphone




Bein’ silly

Water Kefir

When I first tried water kefir at a friend’s home a few months ago, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it.  I wanted to make it myself.  I currently can’t have much dairy, which includes dairy kefir and yogurt.  Water kefir would be a lacot-fermented drink that I could have!  Although I have made and enjoyed a lacto-fermented berry drink (based on the Raspberry Drink in Nourishing Traditions), it is slightly time consuming, especially if you want to have some all the time.  Now water kefir wouldn’t be quite as time consuming, and it doesn’t use nearly as many ingredients (it just has water, Sucanat, and the water kefir grains).

So when, this past Sunday, a friend of mine gave me some water kefir grains, I was so excited!  I couldn’t wait to start some water kefir.

So on Monday I started a quart of water kefir.  I sat it on the top of the fridge to ferment (this is a nice warm spot, great for such activities).  After a day, I strained out the kefir grains and put some frozen mixed berries in the kefir for a second fermentation (this adds some more color and flavor).  After another day (or was it 12 hours?  I forget), it was ready.  The next batch I made I let ferment for two days before doing a second fermentation with berries for 24 hours.

I am quite pleased with the kefir.  I have only tried the first batch, but I like it.  It actually doesn’t taste like a whole lot.  It smells fairly strong, but the smell is (surprisingly) not an accurate representation of the taste.   I have not tried the kefir that I fermented for two days (three, if you count the second fermentation), since I am still working on drinking my first batch.  I will be trying it in a few days, though.

So I have done a total of two batches of kefir.  I started with about a quarter cup of kefir grains (probably since they weren’t packed together, they filled a half-pint jar halfway).  Now I have a pint jar more than halfway filled with kefir grains.  I discovered this the other day when I was straining my second batch.  It really looked like I had more grains than I started with, but when I poured them in the jar, you could really tell how much they had grown!  I knew they would grow, but I was quite surprised with how fast they grew.  I currently have my little grains resting in the fridge, since I have plenty of kefir right now.  I will probably make some more tomorrow.


See the line about halfway up the jar?  Everything below that is kefir grains.

Right now it is pouring rain outside.  It has been raining off and on all day today.  Currently, the sky has dropped 2 inches of rain on us.  I am so happy.  It’s been so dry this summer that we are glad for any rain that we get.  Hang on a minute.  We were just upgraded from a tornado watch to a tornado warning.  I and my laptop are going to relocate downstairs.

Now we are downstairs.  Everything looks pretty calm outside, but we’ll se how crazy things get.

So I have been enjoying the rain today.

In the past few weeks, I have been cooking all kinds of things:  Chocolate-dipped coconut macaroons, coconut milk ice cream, Arnold Palmer (half lemonade and half sweet tea, a drink that I was introduced to up at my aunt’s home), lots of dinners, and plenty of soups.  Oh, and on Tuesday I made grain-free chocolate muffins with chocolate frosting.  The cupcake part wasn’t all that good.  But the frosting.  Oh, the frosting.  It was basically melted butter and melted chocolate chips.  How much better does it get?  Maybe if I made it mocha?  🙂

I know I haven’t posted about any of the food I have been making.  Mostly because I have been busy.  And because I haven’t taken pictures of any of it.  But I will try to post more often now.  I should have time and plenty of food!  (Tomorrow Meiling and I may make some strawberry coconut milk ice cream, as strawberry is her favorite flavor.  She has to continue feeling better, though.  She’s getting over a bit of a stomach bug.)

Watching for tornadoes,


P.S.  We are no longer under a tornado warning.  Just thought you would like to know.

Primal Coffee, Three Ways

After I made the chocolate coconut milk ice cream, I had about 2/3 c. of coconut milk left over.  Thick, creamy coconut milk.  It would be perfect for coffee.  I put it in a little jar in the fridge with that intent.

Two days ago my mom took my brothers into town for their plumbing class.  Meiling and I had to do some baking for the men’s meeting later.  That coconut milk in the fridge was also calling my name.  So I decided to make some coffee.

I pulled out our coffee pot and started the coffee.  Although we do have a coffee pot, we don’t use it that often since no one in our family drinks coffee regularly.  My parents don’t drink coffee, and we have the coffee pot for when we have company.  I decided to use it because I didn’t want to use the instant.  I made the smallest amount on the pot.

I don’t quite know what made me make a large cup of hot coffee on a hot summer day, but I did.  I put most of the coconut milk in it, as well as some coconut sugar.  It was quite yummy, and didn’t taste like coconut.  Meiling also liked it.  I shared it with her, and she also told me later that she was taking sips when I was not looking.


My coffee

When I was cleaning up after lunch from the baking as well as the coffee (I had made a grand mess), there was still a little coconut milk and cold coffee left.  Now for something that I hadn’t tried before – iced coffee!

I stirred the coffee right into the jar that had the coconut milk in it.  Then in went some coconut sugar, and after that, ice. I didn’t quite make it sweet enough, and it didn’t help that all the sugar just settled to the bottom.  It was good in spite of that, though!


Iced coffee



Now I still had about a cup of coffee left.  All the extra coconut milk was gone, too.  I still had the other can, but I couldn’t justify opening it, especially since there would be a lot left over.  So tonight, after doing some thinking, I decided to make more iced coffee, since it was in the fridge.  Instead of using straight coconut milk, I took some of the coconut milk ice cream I made the other day, melted it, and poured that into the coffee.  I still had to whisk in some coconut sugar, since it wasn’t quite sweet enough.  I plopped some not-melted ice cream into it.  It was pretty yummy, too!


Melting the ice cream






Me and my coffee – you can’t really tell, but I am trying out Cowgirl Dirt’s Lip Tint, the color Secretariat.  I really like it!

So there you have it – Primal coffee three ways!

Branson Vacation–Days 5 and 6

On Monday we rented a boat and went on the lake.  We mostly did tubing and swimming off the boat, but we also did some driving around.

It was fun.  All three of us older children got sunburned.  My burns are feeling better, for the most part.  As soon as we arrived home on Tuesday, I grabbed the jug of white vinegar and commenced splashing my various burned limbs (actually all of them) with it (excluding my head).  I did this outside, so I wouldn’t have a mess to clean up.  I then went back inside, saw my dad, and threw my arms apart.

“Want a vinegar hug?” I asked.

It turned out he didn’t.  I’m not all that surprised. 🙂

So back to Monday and boating.  Drake and I were the first two to go tubing.  As we were out there waiting for the boat to get going, I was imploring my brother not to flip the tube (I was getting my usual jitters).

“Don’t flip this thing or I will disown you and never speak to you again!”  I informed him in a panicked voice.

He responded, “How do you disown somebody?”

He’s probably pretty used to this.

And he didn’t flip the tube.  In fact, he did all he could not to flip the thing, even when I was unknowingly working against him.  And here I was next to him, screaming so loud that when we were done, he said he couldn’t hear out of his right ear (the one I was closest to).  What a great brother.

(By the way, I like screaming while riding on various things.  It’s rather fun.  I’m not sure why.)

I enjoyed the boating.

When we got back to the condo we had dinner, and several of us still felt the rocking motion during dinner.

The next day we headed home.  On the way home we stopped at a gas station, and that’s when I spotted and purchased the dark chocolate mocha.  It was gooooood. 🙂

So that was our vacation, in a nutshell.  It was wonderful!


Sunday evening – playing “Dicecapades”


Daddy and Meiling drawing


Some of the dice


Monday – on the boat




Noah and Meiling


Meiling and Daddy driving the boat – Meiling loves to do this




Noah tubing


Dad hot doggin’


Meiling relaxing (she wanted to take a nap and told me that she should have brought her blankie)




My lens cap






Dad and Drake jumping together








Mom tubing


The view I had of Drake for quite a bit of the day


Drake doing the pencil




Mom found this soda at Kroger not too long ago and was saving it for some special time.  It was good!




Dad jumping




Tuesday, on the way home – my amazing dark chocolate mocha!

Things Have Been a Little Quiet Around Here…

I haven’t been posting here as much as usual!  That’s not because there is any lack of things to post about – quite to the the contrary.  The comparative quiet is because of the many things that have been happening.  When it rains, it pours.

On Monday we had an open house birthday party for a young lady at our church.  For the party I baked two chocolate cakes (one small pan and one 9” x 13” pan) and a mocha cake.  Have you ever had mocha cake?  It was yummy.  I frosted the mocha cake with mocha frosting (what else, right?).  Mmmmm…

Tuesday was spent cleaning up and relaxing.  I made a Chinese dinner (a total of 97 dumplings!).  Right after dinner I came down with the cold that my brothers have both had.  Right after dinner.  I felt fine all day, and as I was sitting there, my throat started to hurt.  I took my elderberry syrup and Echinacea tincture and drank some ginger tea, but by the time I went to bed my throat hurt quite a bit.  I can’t believe how fast it came on!

I had a doctor’s appointment on Wednesday morning, and as soon as I got home from that I went to bed and spent the majority of the day in bed.  Something interesting that happened – Mom called while I was home (she was at the food pantry) to let me know that some of our pastor’s family was coming by to pick up some things for our pastor’s graduation party this weekend (he’s a Dr. now!).  They were planning to get to our home around 11:00 a.m.  Well, at five till, I heard a rumble of a car coming down our gravel road.  I was surprised that they would be here already.  I looked out my window to see a blue fifteen passenger van with a white stripe drive by.  It wasn’t them – it was somebody who was lost.  This wouldn’t be all that interesting, except for the fact that our pastor’s family has a white fifteen passenger with a blue stripe.  I got a giggle out of that.

Today I worked on making some unleavened bread, a project that my dad assigned to me.  I’m still sick, so I did quite a bit of resting.  Today my brother Noah fell asleep eating lunch.  This is not normal, since he is 14.  Meiling came in my room while I was resting and told me he was asleep.  I came out a little worried, but after some shaking he woke up and proved to be fine.  Just tired.  We all had some quite time this afternoon.

Tomorrow I have to bake 4 apple pies for Pastor’s party.  Saturday is Pastor’s party, as well as two other graduation parties.  It will be a busy day.   I hope to be well by then. Lord willing I will post some photos next week.

Also, since I will not be home for most of Saturday, I will probably not post the giveaway winner until Monday.  We’ll see how it goes.  If you haven’t entered yet, go here to enter the giveaway!

Until next time,


Yesterday I turned seventeen.  It’s rather hard to believe that I am seventeen.  I don’t feel quite as grown-up as I used to think I would when I was seventeen (or when I was sixteen, for that matter).  I remember wanting to be “grown-up.”  Now that I am seventeen, I’m realizing that it really isn’t all that grown-up.  Growing up has impressed me with a feeling, though, of everything not being the same way forever.  I am beginning to realize that the time I have here in my father’s house is probably limited, and even if it isn’t, I won’t have this time to speak into my siblings’ lives the way I do now.  We will always be friends, but someday I may be living in a home of my own or they will be living in a home of their own, and it won’t always be like it is today.  So to all you younger ladies out there who just can’t wait to grow up:  don’t try to push growing up.  I know this is hard, because there are times that I can’t wait to be more grown-up.  But remember – what you have today won’t be the same tomorrow.  Your little siblings grow up and things change.  Use the time and opportunities that He has given you today wisely, and don’t yearn after tomorrow – don’t worry, it will come.

So yesterday was my birthday.  Daddy was planning on taking the day off, but he was having a problem at work, and we were not sure whether he would be able to take the day off.  Thankfully he only had to work until ten or so, and was able to have the rest of the day off.  After lunch and opening gifts, we went to downtown St. Charles to walk around and go to antique stores.  It was fun, even though we didn’t find anything.  St. Charles has many cute little stores, and it is fun to go down there and look around.  After that, we stopped and got some cookies at Grandma’s Cookies (a cute little bakery on Main Street) and got some drinks at Starbucks (you know it – MOCHA!).  Mom made me chicken and potato bake for dinner – delicious and pretty simple.  After dinner we watched a few episodes of Cake Boss, which is a show about an Italian family-owned bakery in New Jersey.  It was a wonderful day!


In the window of an antique shop – old meets new


I like the railroad track.  Unfortunately, that dumpster was in the way.  It was a little big for me to move, so I had to have it in the picture. 🙂





In an antique store


A pretty quilt



See anything that doesn’t quite belong?  Tell me!




This little mouse was sitting outside of Starbucks.  Dad gave him a little piece of his cookie.  We tried to warn them – if you give a mouse a cookie…


What was left of the cookies




Lens cap


On the way home

Mocha Brownies

It was Friday, somewhere about 6:00 p.m.  I was in the kitchen washing dishes, dinner being ready.  And that’s when it hit me.

I need Mocha Brownies.

Right now.

I know the difference between want and need, but I NEEDED Mocha Brownies.  Since dinner was ready, I pulled out The Pioneer Woman Cooks which I am borrowing from a friend, and whipped up a batch of her Mocha Brownies.  It was pretty simple and didn’t take too long.  I wasn’t too impressed with the brownie part, which I had over baked slightly (I am also a bit of a chocolate snob, so I am a little spoiled).  But the frosting.  Oh, the frosting.  It. Was. Good.  Rich, mocha-y, and delicious, I will definitely make it again.  I only got photos when I was making the frosting and baking the brownies, so no pictures of the finished brownies.  I was going to take a picture today when I ate the last one, but it was a rather dried up, sorry looking brownie (it still tasted pretty good).


The absolutely amazing mocha frosting




…and cooling