Saturday, June 6, 2009

Weekend Fun!




We took the girls to and Indian museum and an old school house museum yesterday. We all had a really great time...and learned a few things, too! Today, we went and picked blackberries and blueberries. YUM! (Yes, the blackberry cobbler is in the oven even as my fingers type.) And, aren't you so blessed to see a picture of it, too?! Wish you were all here to enjoy it with us!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Daddy/Daughter Day

Ok, this is my first attempt at blogging so bear with me.
Today Kristen is attending the Extraordinary Women's conference to become even more perfect. That means that the girls and I have the day together, so here is what we did today:

After the usual wake-up/good morning snuggles, they decided that they wanted chocolate cake for breakfast. Since we did not have any cake, it meant we got to make one. Now we had some success at Christmas making a cake, but today we did not have any sucanat, so the whole thing would have to be made with either honey or Agave Nectar, or both. We opted to go with one round and one square layer in order to make a heart shape. They then begged for icing, which I made with the little bit of powdered sugar we had. It was not near enough sugar, so I tried a trick I saw on Food Network. You put regular sugar in the food processor and in a minute you have powdered sugar. Sounds easy, but the small black N decker model obviously does not have the power to do this as we had "crunchy" icing as Libby called it. Then they wanted sprinkles, when I said "no" Libby said, "but it is what I have always longed for," and how to say no to that? After we were done "decorating" the cake, the girls decided to save it to surprise Mommy when she got home.
So we had eggs for breakfast. Here is the cake:



Next we played for a bit and then headed out to "town." We stopped by the Fort Walton Beach Free Zoo (aka Petland) and played with a Daschund puppy that retailed for like $1200, so I made sure Clara did not break it.


Libby is not in the pictures bacasue she stood on the bench the whole time convinced this viscious beast would bite her.

Then we read books in Books-A-Million and then headed to TGIFridays for lunch. We had a coupon for $8 off our meal, so guess what our bill was? $7.99..oh yeah...beat the system. I just opted not to eat until I got home, but the girls enjoyed their lunch.

Libby enjoyed so much that she ate the eniter bowl of pasta, a cup of Chocolate Milk, Mandarin Oranges, adn the patty of Clara's Hamburger. She is laying on the floor with a Tummy Ache (oops).

Now we are home again, awaiting Kristen's return so we can try this cake. I think I'll let them have the first bite. It's been a great day.

Brandon




Friday, April 17, 2009

Spring, so far


































We've had a busy and blessed Spring...so far! Here are a few pictures of our recent events. I ran in my first 5K, and had a blast. (Let's remember that TIME is not important...rather, focus on the fact that the verb RUN is part of my life!) The girls had a great time celebrating Easter! (I think they especially loved their handmade Easter baskets. I had a great time making them! I am forever grateful to the precious Mrs. Dot that taught me how to make the baskets and supplied everything I needed for a precious gift to my girls!) We got to all go to Camp Victory for Horsemanship Day and learn all about horses. Afterward, we stopped by the strawberry patch to pick strawberries and indulge in strawberry shortcake. Hope that you are having a great Spring, too!!


(So, the pictures are a bit out of order...but, since I've now been on here way too long...I just have to let them be as they may. One day, maybe I'll figure blogging out...and actually remember what I've figured out so as to be able to apply it!)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies made with Succanat


Brandon and I have recently become big fans of Cooks Illustrated. A few friends highly recommended CI because they teach how to cook. On their website (which does require a membership fee), information abounds on recipe testing and product reviews, and they have lots of illustrations and how-to videos. (You can sign up for a 2 week trial membership, and of course, their books are wonderful resources as well.) We really appreciate the fact that they have tested so many recipes and techniques in order to deliver the best methods and recipes...ensuring less wasted time and money on our part. That is always a good thing!
Today, we decided to use their recipe for The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie. We adapted it just slightly because we use freshly ground whole wheat flour and succanat. If there seems to be some tedious steps involved, it is because CI found the steps necessary to deliver the perfect result, and trust me people, it is well worth it! (Ghirardelli's 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips was recommended by CI product reviews. That is what we used.) We were quite thrilled with our results...this being our first try making cookies with fresh whole wheat flour and succanat. Without further ado, I give you:


Brandon and Kristen's Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
(adapted from Cooks Illustrated)


2 1/4 c. whole wheat flour (soft white, freshly ground)

1/2 tsp. baking soda

14 TBSP butter (1 3/4 sticks)

1 whole egg

1 egg yolk

1 c. succanat

1 tsp. kosher salt

2 tsp. vanilla

1 3/4 c. chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Combine flour and baking soda. Set aside.

3. Melt 10 TBSP butter in 10 inch skillet over medium heat. Swirl the pan constantly for about 1-3 min. until the butter turns slightly brown and has a nutty smell. Using a stainless steel skillet will allow you see the butter turn in color.

4. Pour browned butter into a heat-proof bowl and add the remaining 4 TBSP butter. Stir until the remaining butter is melted. Add succanat, vanilla, and salt. Whisk together. Then, add egg and egg yolk. Whisk together for 30 sec. Let mixture sit for 3 min. Stir for 30 sec. Let mixture sit for 3 min. Stir for 30 sec. Let mixture sit for 3 min. (Don't skimp on this step.)

5. Combine flour mixture and butter/sugar mixture. Stir for 1 min.

6. Fold in chocolate chips and let cookie dough to set-up for 2 min. (The fresh whole wheat flour needs this time to completely hydrate.)

7. On a parchment lined baking sheet, use an ice-cream scoop to place 6 big scoops of cookie dough onto the baking sheet, leaving plenty of room for the dough to spread.

8. Bake for 5 min. Rotate baking sheet. Bake for 4 more min. (If your cookies don't seem done, add another minute.)

9. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for one minute before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.





Tuesday, April 7, 2009

On Hearing

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children
are walking in the truth."
3 John 4


There are many things I hear from my children. I love to hear them laugh, especially when it's that laugh from deep within their belly. I love to hear them sing. I love to hear them play. I love to hear them use their manners. I love to hear them say, "I love you." I love to hear their success when they are proud of their accomplishments. I love to just hear them. (Most of the time!) But, as much as I love hearing all these things, there will be no greater joy than hearing that my children walk with Jesus.

Monday, April 6, 2009

My New, Other, Blog

In an effort to make my life even more complicated, I have started a new blog. I mean, I'm so good at updating this one that I just felt had to get another one going. No...really, I just needed a seperate space to write about my healthy living (rather my hopes for healthy living) ponderings. So much of my head is taken up with food choices, daily exercising (on a good day), struggling with my weight, etc. that I feel like all those thoughts just need their own place. It will be nice to put them somewhere neat and compact...where they're okay to be themselves. So, if you're inclined, come and see what that is all about. And, if you know someone who struggles along with me, I would love for them to do just that in blogosphere...send them on over to my new blog.

I will still be posting (hopefully more often) here regarding our family's journey through life. What a great journey it is!!

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Rainout, Camp-in, and Geocaching





































A week ago:

The weather proved to be a bit too much for our campout. However, in spite of the rain and hail...yes, hail...we still managed to have a great time with our family and friends. I never planned on sleeping outside when there was a perfectly wonderful bed and availible bathroom so close by, but the dads and 6 year olds braved the rain, thunder and lightning until 2:00am. That's when the hail started, and I'm pretty sure they would've stayed out there had we (the insiders) not been intent on the kids coming inside.



There were lots of fun moments of target practice with bows and arrows, 4-wheel rides, swinging on the rope swing, playing with the bunnies, chickens, and cat, cooking on the campfire, eating, raking leaves, and our first geocaching adventure.

Maybe one day I'll actually get the pics uploaded! :-)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Food Fight

Today, as I was driving home from the YMCA, I saw a lady whom I haven't seen in a couple of years. In 2007, I met her as I was once again beginning to battle with my weight. She was a source of encouragement to me because she had recently lost a great deal of weight, and we shared the same faith in Christ. However, my heart sank as I saw her drive past today. From just the quick glance I got, I knew instantly that she has gained a significant about of her weight back. I tried to reason that this must be a case of mistaken identity...as I am still replaying the scene and wishing this were true, but I am far too familiar with the truth of this situation.

There is a fight going on for so many of us. It has nothing to do with the size that we are or a number that we weigh. It has everything to do with a real and actual battle against a very essential thing in this life.... FOOD. I've spent a good deal of the last two years focusing on losing weight and keeping my eye on the scale and my clothing size. These things represented success or failure to me. If I was succeeding in my health, my weight was dropping and so was the size of my clothing. However, these things are truly just temporary. They are seemingly fleeting, always coming and going!

Now, more than ever, I realize that the fight is on. Christ wants all of me, and for this, I must fight. Maybe you know what I mean, and you too, have to fight this food fight. Perhaps, you're where I've been and still think this is all about calories in vs. calories out. Can I tell you that Jesus is way more concerned about you than that? So, when you've done all your dieting, counted all your calories, worked out everyday of the week, and tried everything to boost your metabolism, the food will still be there. And so will Christ! He is beckoning to be your (and mine) stronghold in place of all else. This is the reality that I know: this food fight is really a heart fight. (Disclaimer: For those of you who struggle, you know exactly what I mean. For those of you who are blessed with a great metabolism, I hope that you are good stewards of your bodies and that you are pressing on in the fight for your heart...in whatever areas you struggle with.)

I hope that I don't quit for good in this battle, and I am so thankful that Jesus is my strength to push through moments of weakness with food and exercise. When I fail, I am thankful that He is there to love on me and remind me that this is about so much more than a food fight. He is after my heart. Yours too.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Weirdos

It has been too long. Too long since I last wrote to you, my precious blogger friends. So, settle in, and get ready for my rambling randomness.

First off, we have all had a wonderful year, so far! It was hard getting back into the swing of things, and we've had a few minor fevers, coughs, etc. But, we've pressed on. Libby is doing well in homeschool and her other programs. She is loving her Upward Cheerleading season, and I am having a blast coaching her team! Clara is talking more and more all the time. She loves to color and play with her baby dolls...neither of which her older sister really took to. It's so neat how God makes everyone so unique!

Brandon and I have been focusing on good health this January...haven't you? We typically do this throughout our year...or at least try to! It was this time 2 years ago that we both began to work diligently to shed many unhealthy pounds. We praise God for the success He's given us. While it has been a wonderful journey of weightloss, we are becoming convinced more than ever about it being a journey of health. Last September, I began researching aspartame and its side effects. It didn't take much for me to realize the fact that I was poisoning myself and my family by eating all of the sugar free foods we'd come to love and even rely on. We were already well aware of the effects that food dyes have on our children and their eczema. Naturally, a thought process began to really roll. What is in our food? What is it doing to us? The very same week, God used a friend to help lead us to some resources to find answers to those questions. Some other friends had already been influencing us in this direction...we just didn't know it at the time because we weren't ready, I guess. Much thanks to you all!

So, now, I almost feel like officially announcing we are "weirdos" because that's typically how we humans tend to feel towards others we don't "get". Maybe that's just me...and now, I've confessed to you all that I think you're weird if you're not like me...and that whole comment above about God making us all unique really has no value... umm..., yeah, it does... We're just uniquely weird, maybe? Anyway, without further ado...we are weird now because: we are grinding our own wheat (making our own flour), drinking raw milk, trying to use unrefined ingredients in our cooking, etc. We can no longer grocery shop without thinking about where our food comes from and what's in it. Also, while in the grocery store, I can't help but think about how the majority of people eat food that's really not even food at all. (That's another blog, another day.) We have stepped into this new world of how we view, buy, cook and consume food. Yes, we do hope that we have good health and all that, but it's really something different for us right now. We just want to eat real food...perhaps...dare I say, the way that God made it? (And, yes, we're still pork eaters and no, we're not raw food foodies, either.) Please, all you fellow weirdos...accept my apology if my calling you weird is offensive...just accept your weirdness, people!! Good weird.

In other aspects of life, we've both been diligent in our exercise routines and have been using our YMCA membership regularly. I love to attend group fitness classes and am currently working on a Couch to 5K program. I hope to be able to run 2-3 miles without stopping soon. Brandon gets his runs in and works out on the machines as well. Also, we are excited to see God growing our church! So much of the growth is in our young married department...lots of young couples, their sweet children, and lots of babies on the way. So, our preschool is experiencing a full feeling that we hope is here to stay with more on the way! For Brandon, this means lots to do...lots of volunteer positions to fill. He is also busy working on starting Children's Church which means even more volunteers to find. We know that the Lord already has the workers because this is His work. Will you pray for those workers...that they will be obedient to His calling them? We covet your prayers.

Now, you've been officially updated. Be on the lookout for most posts pertaining to the topics of the weirdos.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Happiest Season of All!

The past few weeks have just been wonderful! We had a blessed Christmas celebration with our family. Everyone was well, and it was such a peaceful time. It was one of my favorite holiday seasons so far! On Christmas Eve, the Hutchinson side of the family gathered at our home for sharing gifts, dinner and birthday cake for Jesus. We all attended the Christmas Eve Candlelight service, which is tradition for us...especially since Brandon has a part in the service each year. After the service, we were able to hang out at the Live Nativity of a little bit.

Christmas morning, we enjoyed reading "What God Wants for Christmas" and opening presents. Libby was ecstatic to get a cupcake maker. Clara was thrilled with her jumbo tin of playdough and accessories. We headed over to Milton around lunch time and had a big family Christmas dinner with more of our family. It was a great day!

The day after Christmas, we left for North Alabama to spend some time with the Brasell side of the family. We were able to spend several days there and truly enjoyed our trip! I turned another year older while we where there and had a great birthday. (I love that I get to be with my family on my birthday most years! Didn't like a holiday time birthday so much when I was younger because I didn't get to see my friends.) On our way back home, we stopped to try out ice skating. (Not fun. I think a child should have a better grasp of balance before trying to ice skate...or at least know how to skate in general, maybe?) We did have a great time hanging out at the mall where the ice skating rink was, and Libby thinks ice skating was fun. That's all that matters, right?!?

We spent New Year's being lazy around here and trying to get back to some kind of normal...whatever that is! It is definetly hard getting back into a routine, and we were all a bit sad to say goodbye to Christmas 2008. It was the most Hap Happiest Season of All!


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