Friday, April 27, 2012

Announcing the winner of BLOOM!

And the winner is...........


I will get the book to you soon Charlotte! Thank you to everyone who left comments.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Homemade graham crakers

I found a recipe online the other day for homemade graham crackers, and I just had to try it. If you know me at all, you know that I love to make as many things from scratch as possible. So of course, this was no exception.

The recipe is pretty simple, when you are looking at how much time you need to make it, just remember that you have to let the dough sit in the fridge for an hour before you roll it and bake it. I would say it took me about 1 1/2-2 hours to make them (excluding the hour of fridge time.)

For ingredients, you need:

12 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
2 eggs
3 cups whole-wheat flour (the original recipe called for 1/2 all purpose and 1/2 whole wheat, but they turned out just fine with all whole wheat.)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Cinnamon and sugar for sprinkling on top
Beat butter, honey and sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs and mix.
Add flours, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt and mix to combine.
Refrigerate dough for one hour (or longer).
Heat oven to 350ยบ.
On a well-floured counter, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness.(If you go any thicker, your crackers will seem more like cookies after they are baked). The rolling out part gets difficult. If your dough is like mine it is still super soft and sticks to EVERYTHING. What I found that works best is to put a little pile of flour on the counter, then make a ball out of some dough. Place the ball in the center of the flour, and then sprinkle more flour on top so the rolling pin won't stick. If that sounds crazy complicated, just look at the pictures below :) 
Cut out crackers with cookie cutters and transfer them to cookie sheets.    (I used a spatula. It really helped and kept them from falling apart.)
 Grease your cookie sheet well, or use parchment paper. (I just use parchment paper. They NEVER stick and it's easy to clean up. I use parchment paper to bake most of my cookies. It makes a big difference.)
Using a pastry brush dipped in water, lightly brush the tops of the crackers. Using a fork, poke holes in the crackers. (I was worried when I poked the holes that I poked too many. Don't worry, the holes barley show up.) Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the tops of the crackers.
Bake for 10-15 minutes. Transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool. The longer these sit, the more cracker-like they become, so they're best eaten after about 30 minutes, if you can wait that long.

Now let me just say, mine came out tasting a little more like cookies then crackers, I think this was for a few reasons. First of all, I don't think I rolled them out quite thin enough. Second, I baked one batch for 10 minutes and one for 15. The ones that were baked for 15 were a little bit harder and tasted much more like crackers. The ones that baked for 10 were just like cookies. I need to experiment a little more to see if I can get the right cracker feel. 

Original recipie here.

I hope you enjoy! let me know if you make them!


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bloom. My new favorite book (and a giveaway!)

Bloom. I am going to do my best at describing in words how amazing this book is. But let's just get something straight. My words will never compare to those written in this book. This book does not just hold words on a page. It holds raw emotion on a page.  When I read it, I feel like I am there with Kelle, crying tears beside her when it's hard, and smiling when the day is good. The book is a memoir of Nella (her daughter's) first year of life. It goes with her through shock and surprises, disappointments and fears, good days and bad days. One of my favorite things about the book is how big of an emphasis she places on friends and family. Because I know well, that when you have people there for you, backing you up, life is a whole lot sweeter.
I was very pleasantly surprised to open the book and find full color photographs on every page. Since I have been following Kelle's blog for over a year now, I already knew how wonderful of a photographer she is, but to see those paired raw emotion is just incredible. the book is beyond encouraging, especially for moms. If you don't happent to win the giveaway, I would say go out and buy it NOW anyways! It's money WELL spent.

I also got the GREAT pleasure of Skyping with Mrs. Hampton herself today! I can not tell you how excited I was to talk with her. (I got the great chance because I pre-oreded 10 books. ) She is just one of the most delightful ladies I know. I was really nervous before she called me. I was worried that it would be awkward, and I was wondering why I had ordered 10 books for this. But let me tell you, every single penny I spent on those books were worth it. Every single one. From the moment she called me there was not one bit of silence! We talked about our lives, close friends, how the book has changed our lives, and what it's like to be in the "spotlight". I felt like I was talking with a long lost friend! And she shared quite a few things with me that really touch me. Like a saying she has hanging on her girl's wall : If you are confident, then you are beautiful. So true. I will treasure each moment we spent talking. Such wisdom and inspiration!

Now onto the fun part! As I said before, the purpose of this blog is not to attract more readers, nor is it to give away endless stuff, but I do like to do the occasional giveaway, especially when I have the means. So here you go. This is my favorite book and now it can be yours (hardcover) for free! Just simply leave a comment on this post, and I will use to pick a winner tomorrow! Then I will message you and ship it off to you right away.

This giveaway closes on April 26th, 2012 at 10:00 Pm EST.


Mommy for 10 days

I got the incredible chance to be a mom for ten days the last two weeks. I kept 4 children (ages 7, 5, 4, and 2) while their parents traveled out of the country to Europe. Let me just say, I think a quote I read today fits the last 10 days very properly; "There are a lot of ups and downs in motherhood. More ups then downs, thank heaven. " I can not tell you how much I enjoyed my time with the children. They are wonderful kids and we had many, many good times together. But don't get me wrong, it was HARD work. I learned a lot about selflessness. And when mother's say they are exhausted, they really mean it. God blessed me with finding this blog post, right as I was in the midst of one of the hardest days. I also learned that though sometimes I scoot by through a normal day without spending time with God, there is no possible way I can make it through the day as a mother without first spending time with God. One morning I got distracted and didn't do bible study until after noon. Big mistake.

I can tell you that I much better understand now God emptying us so that He can fill us with Himself. Each day I would get up and just not know where to start. There was laundry, and dishes and things to clean and places to go. And oh, kids that maybe I should check on every once in a while? ;) But God would equip me with exactly what I needed. He gave me wisdom when I had to decide how to deal with a toddler biting his sister on the back He gave me grace when I raised my voice just because I was tired of all the noise. He gave me patience as I learned that walking out the door with four children takes a whole lot longer then just walking out the door with yourself. He gave me peace while I needed it. I can not tell you how thankful I am to have my God, by my side, every single step of the day. And to you atheist mother out there- I don't know how you survive the day!

I did learn a three things:
1. Laundry, is never ending.
2. Dishes are never ending.
3. Your life will revolve around poop.

(Now that last one may seem a bit weird and exaggerated, but trust me. In one night I had the dog poop on the floor two times, three kids step in the poop and spread it around the house, one toddler poop in his pants, then in the potty for the first time. Then dump his poop on the floor. Then I have to get up in the middle of dinner twice to wipe bottoms. Then change a few more dirty pull ups, and oh, bed time. Do you believe the third point now?)

Let me just explain something. I think God has given me a really strange gift. I LOVE doing laundry. And Dishes. I will admit there were times this week I didn't feel like doing them, but 90% of the time I love both. I would MUCH rather be doing laundry and dishes all day then school work. But school is where God has me right now, so I will have a cheerful heart (or try to) and excitingly await the day when dishes and laundry are my everyday routine.:)

Between all of this learning, we did actually go places :) We went thrift store shopping, picnicking, into DC for the cherry blossom festival and parade, to my church, Target, grocery shopping and much more. Here a few pictures to just give you a glimpse of our time spent together. I already miss every bit of these kids (including getting woken up by 4 jumping kids).

And in the spirit of my blog name, I just want to post a few of the moments I remember,

My joys of motherhood for 10 days:
1. Little hands grippin mine
2. Brown curls
3. Snap crackle pop treats
4. eating yogurt with our fingers
5. sunny days
6. A snuggly dog
7. cones covered in sprinkles
8. Friendly Apple store staff
9. Little glasses to drink from
10.Playing in the hose

The biggest event hat happened while I was there, actually happened the day the parents left. I was chasing after the dog, which had run into the street, and I quickly set me phone down on the porch so I could grab her. Well, little did I know that the ledge I had set it on was sloped, and crash/crack goes my iphone screen. God gave me amazing peace, I just set an appointment up for the Apple Store the next day and got it fixed. I had a little trouble with setting up my phone, and ended up spending 2 hours in there pushing two strollers back and forth from the front of the store to the back, while trying to figure things out. I can not thank the Apple store enough for helping me keep the kids entertained, by making faces at them and offering to help. Apple Store Staff of Richmond, VA, YOU ROCK!

Over all, I am looking forward to the day God blesses me with the chance to be a mother. But at the same time, I am very happy to be an 18 year old girl, who does not get woken up at 6am by 4 jumping kids :)

Making Motzerella sticks. Queso cut in strips, then coated in egg and Panko, and fried in coconut oil.

Little helpers :)

Sunny day at the park

I kind of forgot spoons for our pinic lunch. So I just decided we would have a little fun and eat yogurt with our fingers. (It actually wasn't that messy... you should try it sometime :)

Twirly dresses

A restaurant for dinner. (Basically I typed up a menu of all the leftovers, and they got to choose :)

In DC with my best friend and

At my favoirte museum again the Hirshorn.

When I take kids to DC and we play on the lawn, I just laugh inwardly to myself. How many kids get this chance?

Yup, it's pretty broken :)

Ice Cream adventures

I love these two cuties. 

And this is the beautiful family! I just love them all so much!