Wednesday, March 27, 2013

kindness umbrella (art project)




This was an art project we worked on today. 
 
Kind words shield people's hearts from life's storms.
 
The kids told me kind and unkind words and I wrote as fast as I could. 
 
 
{Unkind}
 
you're a crybaby
 
you always stink
 
you're not amazing
 
you don't drive well
 
you cry too much
 
don't touch me
 
you're very mean to my mom
 
you're not organized
 
you don't let me say a word
 
your doll is not cute
 
you never give me a backrub
 
your food tastes gross
 
i don't like what you're wearing
 
i don't like your snack
 
you're a horrible cook
 
you're dumb
 
hurry up
 
it's mine
 
you're freaking stupid
 
you're fat
 
your bed is so messy
 
i don't like the smell of your gum
 
{these rolled off quickly}
 
 
 
{kindness}
 
i'll make your bed
 
i love you
 
you're smart
 
your life has meaning
 
you're good
 
you look nice today
 
you're good
 
you're generous
 
you're so cool
 
you have excellent handwriting
 
you're good at lots of things
 
God cares about you. 
 
i'll have you come over to my house
 
come here
 
you're good at doing things
 
i like you
 
you're sweet
 
i care about you
 
i will try to protect you
 
i love you
 
i will love you forever.
 
 
 
I want to choose the kind words.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

gosh is not a swear word: when truth is uncomfortable

Mom, did you hear [local radio station] isn't carrying Dave Ramsey's program anymore?

Yeah, I did.  Dad asked about it and I read the email reply; they said they received a lot of complaints about the program.  I don't know why, but they did.

*pause*

Well. . . I have a complaint about Dave. . . he uses God's name in vain a lot.

Um. . . he does?  (have never heard this phenomenon)  Can you tell me what he says?

Oh, yeah.  He says. . . G-E-E.  And G-O-S-H. spelling out the offending words

Well, saying gee and gosh - that's not swearing.  Or taking God's name in vain.  I guess we don't like you to say gee cuz it sounds like geez which can sound like Jesus and could get you in the habit of saying that. But gee and gosh aren't really swearing, they're just idle words.  Like, there's nothing wrong with gee all by itself.

Right, like A-B-C-D-E-F-G.

Well, sure.

Mostly Dave says it when somebody gets into debit really fast.

Yep, and that was all during breakfast. 

Isn't this the stuff of parenthood?  I know that too soon, he will tire of seeking my thoughts on every subject under the sun.  He will be happy to develop his own opinions independent of us and right now is a massive window of opportunity to shape his direction with truth.

I find it tempting to avoid truth when dialoguing with my kids;  at their ages, it seems simpler, easier, quicker to just dismiss undesirable behavior with blanket statements, like drinking is wrong or saying gosh is swearing. 

But that would be at least, misleading; at worst, dishonesty.

And children are so much smarter than we give them credit for.  It won't take them long to find holes in faulty logic, and the consequences for glibly mislabeling issues seem staggering. 

As a child of God, my final authority is continually the Word of God.  God speaks to every issue under the sun;  He has answers and He cares about my life, my little people, our home, our desire to raise our kids to honor Him.  Pointing my kids to Him is wiser than pointing them toward us and rules for well-behaved children.

I want a lot more out for my kids than good behavior.

In fact I am quite okay with struggling through bad behavior if we can get to the deeper needs of their hearts and raise kids who want to walk with God.  After all, He is the God of the man who falls seven times and picks himself back up. 

Daniel and I are fallible, broken, weak;  we will disappoint our children.

Friends we admire deeply are human, frail, not meant to be placed on pedestals for our kids to follow.

The church, children of a gracious Father, includes the honest, the hypocritical, the struggling and the strong; humans will disappoint, too, flawed by their very nature.

The only constant, the only unchanging that we can point our children to is God, accessible to us because of the Man, Christ Jesus.

Wading through the issues to find the truth is messy, uncomfortable, and it takes a long time. When the discussions are tangled I hope it's okay to say. . . I don't know, let's ask God to show us. 

I respect people who don't pretend to know all the whys and I hope my children will see through my weakness to the strength of a God Who cannot lie.

As a child, I thought smoking looked so cool, and it was the cool thing to do, with Marlboro Man on billboards and a beautiful blond Virginia Slims girl in every magazine.   I'm not going to lie, I pretended my little dum-dum sucker was a cigarette on more than one occasion.  Why?  Well, definitely not because my parents smoked, because they didn't.  It is impossible to totally shield a child from culture and the newest trends.  Children are intrinsic copy-cats; they need to be walked through these stages.  How wise my parents were to reason with us through these issues;  they didn't shrink from calling sin sin, but they didn't say it was sin if it wasn't.  Smoking isn't a sin, it just isn't wise.  It's poor for your health and destroys your lungs.  Amazingly, culture caught up with mom and dad, and interestingly, smoking is quite un-cool now. 

All that glitters is not gold, but it is foolish to deny the appearance of glitter. 

Denying the obvious

racing motorcycles on a two lane highway looks thrilling to a boy

the shortest shorts look prettier to a young girl craving approval and acceptance

school is grueling

work is boring sometimes

marriage is hard

Christians fail

bad things happen to good people

is setting my kids up to find that I lied.

I don't drink.  But I don't believe that the Bible forbids drinking and we don't teach our kids that.  They hear a pretty steady diet of the destructive consequences of alcohol from their paramedic dad and they know that God says not to be drunk.  Adding to the voice of biblical wisdom advising against drinking is the foolishness of being controlled by a substance that often causes harm to others. 

But saying drinking is unwise is a lot different than saying drinking is a sin. Adding to what God says might seem easy while my kids are 6 and 8 but it will quickly become alienating and harmful as they get older and find out what God really says.

I'd rather get to the root issues of wisdom, self control and not wasting one's life than camp on thou shalt not drink. 

Or thou shalt not say gosh.

Rather I want to point them to what God really says:

[Jesus said] you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. {Matthew 12:36}

People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! {James 3:7-10}

Let your speech always be with grace {Colossians 4:6}

And in contrast, the instructions He gives:  They are not just idle words for you—they are your life. {Deuteronomy 32:47}

Monday, March 25, 2013

#mondayquotes

There is nothing more ugly than an orthodoxy without understanding or without compassion.
 
 
and this,
 
 
. . .Christianity is not romantic; it is realistic. Christianity is realistic because it says that if there is no truth, there is also no hope; and there can be no truth is there is no adequate base.  It is prepared to face the consequences of pbeing proved false and say with Paul: If you find the body of Christ, the discussion is finished, let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die.  It leaves absolutely no room for a romantic answer.
 
The God Who is There, Francis Schaeffer

Sunday, March 24, 2013

ten reasons i am leaving my children for two weeks: here we come south africa

Daniel and I leave in four weeks to go to South Africa with a team of eight people from our church, serving the least of these at the Restoring Hope Village.

Three million + orphans in SA.  That is a staggering number.  Our tiny offering of time and love to give is a drop in an endless sea of need, but we want to start there, giving our little bit. 

This has been a matter of prayer and in the works for some time and we are so excited to go and follow God's leading. 

The trip was overwhelmingly and promptly funded, confirming that money is rarely an issue if God calls you to do something.  We're so thankful for the people who gave so freely. {you know who you are}

Below are my notes from sharing with our church family the reasons we each chose to go. 



I love top ten lists; some of you know that Daniel even used a top ten list to ask me to marry him.  There are so many reasons I want to go to South Africa, but I decided to put them in my favorite top ten format. 

So here they are.

1.  Thankful for the hope of eternal life that my salvation brings; wanting to share hope, knowing that only Christ brings hope for the pain life brings.  I accepted Christ as a child and knew the talk, walked the walk, but our son's death changed everything I believed into something more real.  You can't just be here, then gone, and that's the end, with just this little shell left of you.  There has to be something more.  There has to be eternity;  because if not, where does your soul go,  the part of you that's you?  Everything I believed about God became startling and clear and real to me.  Eternity = hope.  I want to share that.

2.  I know what hopelessness feels like.  It's crushing, it's demotivating, it's dark, dark, dark.

3.  I know what it means to be given the gift of hope.  That gift- that so many of you have given to us. . . is priceless.

4.  I want to honor and follow my husband's leadership. It can be a little scary to be married to a man who walks with God.  You kinda never know what he's going to do.  Daniel told me over a year ago that he was going to go on a mission trip, and I was like. .  . oooookaaaay!  When Louis and Amber came, during their presentation, Daniel leaned over to me and said, this is it, I'm going there!  I was really happy for him but then I started thinking. . . what if God tells him something big while he's there, like adopt or move to Africa. . .   maybe I should go so that I could know what my future might look like!  But I also want to go just to share in this experience with him, rather than haave him explain it to me when we get home.

5.  I want to say yes to God.  I'm blessed by so many people in our church who say yes to God and lead by example, and I want to be that.  I just don't want to start saying no to Him:  I want to say yes.

6.  I want to listen to wise counsel.  When we first started talking about me going too, we sought counsel from people that we were sure would advise me to stay home with our children.  Our parents floored us by enthusiastically supporting the idea and tripping over themselves to watch the kids during our absence; no, don't go wasn't what we heard.  I then went to my beautiful Mrs. A. . .sure that she would tell me to stay home and take care of my children.  Instead she pointed out that they would be fine, following God was more important than following safety, marriage priority > children priority and she also made me aware of point # 7.

7.  I want to teach three little white kids that the world is bigger than smalltown, USA.  And they are so excited and supportive of us going.  They want to go.  I hope they will eventually.  We aren't fans of children running family direction, but we wouldn't go if they weren't okay with it.  They're okay.  They care about these little people without any mom or dad.

8.  Because there's no substitute for human touch and compassion; $$ can't hug.  Just that.

9.  Seeking a wider perspective of the work God is doing globally. We don't have the corner on ministry here.  I know that zooming out can bring clarity to our vision and I'm so excited to see what God is doing in another part of the world.

10.  Because the world will know we are Christians by our love for one another.  And I think that extends to loving the least of these.




And then there's the many who are called to be faithful at home;  Africa isn't in your future, but lots and lots of endless laundry and Sunday School teaching and feeding hungry neighbor kids and being there when people need you and sharing hope with your coworkers and employees and the list goes on and on. . .

You are important, you are needed, we are not all that and a bag of chips because we're going a little farther than across the street. 

My sister writes about staying home when others go.  Read it, she's awesome.  That's her quote below.


This is my life, Lord,
Help me not to wish it away,
Waste it away
Or, not taste the joy of the people around me.
Lord, help me to be a joyful giver of Me.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Homemade Tortillas, Pt. 2

I'm afraid I spoke too soon on the idea of homemade tortillas.

When will I learn not to judge????

*public apology for thinking homemade tortillas indicated too much time on your hands*

Today I made these spinach tortillas for lunch, start to finish- probably 15 minutes. 




*melt in your mouth deeee-lish*


I started with Taste of Home's master recipe, but I have changed it since, so I am listing the ingredients below:

Homemade Tortillas Basic Recipe

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
3 tablespoons oil

Mix ingredients, knead a little, let rest, divide into 8 pieces, roll out into 8 or 9 inch circles. Place on hot electric skillet for about .  .  . oooh dear. . .  I didn't time it.  Just a little bit.  Like 45 seconds?  If your bubbles are turning brown, that's too long.  Flip.  30 - 45 more seconds  and you're done. 

I loooove Mission Tortillas and all the great flavors they have so I decided to attempt a spinach version today. 

I put the 3/4 cup water in the blender and threw in a huge handful of spinach.  When it was all vibrant green spinach water :)  I took it out and made sure it measured 3/4 c. liquid still and then proceeded with the rest of the recipe.

Eli ate his with cheddar cheese; the rest of us made tacos with beef, avacodoes, tomatoes, lettuce peppers & sour cream. 

Seriously good eating.

**Note that Stephanie pointed out:  tortillas can be stored in the freezer.  (Although ours aren't making it that far.)


Thursday, March 21, 2013

march madness

In celebration of the beginning of  NCAA craziness, we made some caramel corn and painstakingly filled our brackets out,  with our decision-making relying heavily on people we liked in certain geographical areas.

[You know what they say, the sports nuts don't win these, the novices do.  Last year Cambria won our family bracket challenge.  I'm not sure what that says about us, but it is what it is.]

In the spirit of being random, we chose one game to watch, Mizzou & Colorado State, and it was a nailbiter since JD and I both had Missouri winning.  They lost. Oh well. 

Fun times with my boy. 



Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Homemade Tortillas

People that make their own tortillas are probably a bit weird and fanatical. . .

Unless the person is me,

and I don't like to think that I'm weird, only that I didn't have time to run to the store.

Weird or out-of-time, whichever you choose to believe,

these are actually pretty tasty and crazy easy to make.

I was inspired by Panchero's, where Deeann and I took the girls after an Easter dress shopping marathon.  The guys at Panchero's make those huge tortillas look so incredibly simple to make- just wad, smash, throw on skillet, flip, done!

I don't have a tortilla press, just a rolling pin, but it's super easy regardless.

I followed this recipe  from Taste of Home.  I didn't fry in oil, though, just cooked them two at a time on my large nonstick pancake skillet.

One recipe made enough for a 9 x 13 pan of enchiladas.



And speaking of enchiladas:

We did have a real win the other night with these!


I found these Spinach Black Bean Enchiladas on Pinterest. 

*Small break for some unsolicited Pinterest recipe advice*  (or, how to avoid ending up on a Pinterest fail blog)

Like many recipes online or in magazines, I have found that if you don't like the ingredients separately you aren't going to like them together in a recipe. 

Which is why I don't bother trying recipes with say, olives, or orange marmalade, or tuna, or eggplant. 

If it looks too hard to make, it probably is.

If it's way out of your budget range, just skip it.   Quinoa is $10 for a tiny bag that looks like it might feed Eli breakfast in my town.  We don't make stuff with quinoa.  It's just not worth it, as crazy exciting as the fad may be. That way, you won't end up like Daniel, who once threw away many, many millet-swiss cheese mock burgers. ( It's a long story.)

Anyway, back to the enchiladas.

I was really skeptical since the sauce was homemade, but these far exceeded my expectations. The kids loved it, Daniel hoarded the leftovers to take to work, and I thought they were super fresh tasting, which is my current highest food compliment.

Try 'em out. :)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

salt & pencil sharpeners

Just in case your day included passionate discussions of music The Ants Go Marching Two by Two
(do you think verse two is about tying the shoe?  do you think mom?  do you remember? are you sure?)

navigating disappointing cancellations
the catch 22 about playing in a MFD vs. Special Olympics game while on duty means that. . . you might not show up to the game  *super let-down oldest son*

schoolwork
no, Cambria, you may not use your cash register calculator to help you with subtraction

bible studies
three cheers for some sanity

lunch
and I fed them Cheetos on the side today.  Can you believe it? how the mighty fall

Sequence, States & Capitals x 2
(and I lost both times)

laundry that got folded, then flooded by a bathtub tidal wave
why, why do I fold laundry? tell me again

in case you cleaned your dining room floor once. . . then twice. . .

. . . in case you gave a toddler two baths today

. . .in case you successfully removed three screws and rescued a mangled orange crayon from the pencil sharpener

. . .in case you narrowly missed getting pencil sharpener grease on your new-to-you-jeans- from the Buckle via Goodwill

. . .in case while the pencil sharpener debacle unfolded, the salt shaker got emptied on the chair. (and floor)




. . . then take a breath and enjoy these two great reads.

I loved each one. 

In Defense of the iPhone Mom


Brave Moms Raise Brave Kids

Monday, March 18, 2013

#mondayquotes

I tiptoed into the library today while the kids were at choir and finished this beautiful little book. . .

It's not often that I borrow a book, read it, and then want to buy it and read it again in another month.  This is one of those. 

While finishing Anne Lindbergh's book today, I was struck once again with how applicable her words are to my own overwhelmed life. . .  I dug in my bag for a pen and the only paper I could find, an envelope, and scribbled.

Here's what stood out to me:



The interrelatedness of the world links us constantly with more people than our hearts can hold. . .
 
. . .My life cannot implement in action the demands of all the people to whom my heart responds.

. . .Because we cannot deal with the complexity of the present we often override it and live in a simplified dream of the future.  Because we cannot solve our own problems right here at home, we talk about problems out there in the world. . .
 
. . .Can one make the future a substitute for the present?  And what guarantee have we that the future will be any better if we neglect the present?  Can one solve world problems when one is unable to solve one's own?
 
. . .Have we been successful, working at the periphery of the circle and not at the center?
Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Gift from the Sea, page 116, 117

Thursday, March 14, 2013

fires we didn't start

could write about how i'm archiving all of the grief posts onto one page

could write about homemade tortillas

could write about . . .all kinds of things that i'm not really thinking about.

there's such a fine line hanging out there once you choose to dump your life out in front of people

choose honesty

choose real

choose the heartbreaking joy of not faking

there's this line that can be crossed.

it's called the oversharing line.

not everyone needs to know that Hayley had a bad day.

it's unnecessary.

it drags people down.

it's the reason I don't update my status with a Motrin mention when I have a headache.

so hopefully I'm not oversharing when I say that sometimes. . . in the middle of a very blessed life

and beautiful children

and an incredible man to love me, I still have really bad days.




sometimes life gets complicated

and decisions have two sides

and truth is grey

and you're not sure if the answers are what you need.

sometimes the fires we have to put out weren't ones that we started.

sometimes



you know. 



so when it was one of those days 

and I heard this song tonight. . . it stopped me in my i'm right this time, he's wrong tracks.

I had to pass it on because I cannot be the only person in the world who has days when fighting for your marriage is hard.

love isn't something you fall into.

it's learned.

we have the very best Teacher.

and we learn to love. . . because He first loved us.





I need the fear of a love that's lost
I need to stop trying to count the cost
I need to fight on the losing side
And always hold true
I will always stay with you

Til we know the pain of a broken heart
We can't walk through the fires we didn't start
Just hold on to the way it is tonight
And learn to love through the darkness and the light
I'm on your side

I had the fortune of a second chance
I know the reason why we all should dance
I've seen the end and all you have to do
Is always hold true
I will always stay with you

Til we know the pain of a broken heart
We won't walk through the fires we didn't start
Just hold on to the way it is tonight
We can learn to love through the darkness and the light
I'm on your side

Always hold true
I will always stay with you

Til we know the broken heart
We can't walk through the fires we didn't start
Just hold on to the way it is tonight
And learn to love through the darkness and the light
Oh, learn to love


{Needtobreathe, Learn to Love, from the album The Reckoning}




Wednesday, March 13, 2013

eli = joyful destruction

Sweet boy.
 
You love to sharpen pens in the electric pencil sharpener.
 
You like to pull my earrings out.
 
You love to climb, climb all the way on top of desks.  And game cupboards.  And dressers.
 
You like to open programs that cause serious problems for computers, all with a few pecks of your chubby fingers.
 
You like to open doors, bathroom doors. Nothing is safe from your inquisitive toddler self.
 
You love to unroll toilet paper with astonishing speed and grace.
 
You like to say oh, mannn. . . just like your daddy.
 
You love boots that are too big for you, enthusiastic clomping, joyful destruction, that's you, my son.


 
Oh such joy you bring.  Such a weary happiness.
 
I love your kisses, blown with sticky fingers.
 
I love hearing your feet trot across the floor.
 
I love hearing you say mamamama.
 
I love your whole little self.
 
 
 
You empty me out and fill me up at the very same time and I am so grateful to God for you, my son.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

the artisan bread post

I know, I've been heavy on the food posts lately (get it?) 

I promise. . . I'll slow them down. . .

but this whole artisan bread thing is too good not to share.

It is so so easy.

I checked out the exhaustive how-to-do-it book at the library over Christmas vacation and found the instructions to be intimidating, even though I feel quite adept at kitchen-ese. It is so much easier than the book, blog, and website show.  That's the motivation for sharing this post with my usual less than stellar photography; an attempt to convince you that you really can have bread in five minutes a day.


You start with a container that is not airtight.  (Apparently this stalls the yeast action or something.)  Think ice cream bucket, jar with loose lid, bowl with large plate on top. 

Mix, in the jar,

3 cups warm water

1 tablespoon yeast

1 tablespoon salt

6  1/2 cups white flour.

Stir until moist.  It is very wet and sticky dough. Don't knead, don't worry, don't fret.

Let your jar sit on the counter for 2 hours.  Then cover it with your loose cover/lid, and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.  This is enough dough for 4 round loaves

That's it!

When you are ready for hot fresh bread, sprinkle a little flour on the counter, using floured hands, grab a 1/4 portion of your dough,  (should be about softball sized) and smooth it the best you can, quickly.  It will be sticky.  That's okay.  Set on your floured counter or cutting board.



If you have used your dough up, like I did when I was taking these pictures, mix up some more in your jar.  You don't have to wash it.  The leftover bits of dough add to the artisan quality.



Allow to rise for 20 minutes.  When your timer buzzes, then put a pizza stone in your oven and begin preheating the oven and stone to 450.  Set timer again for 20 minutes.

At the end of 20 minutes, slash the top of your loaf two or three times to create  stripes or  a criss cross pattern.  Using a wide knife, spatula, or just your hands, slide loaf onto pizza stone.  (You may sprinkle flour or cornmeal on stone at this point to create texture for the bottom of your loaf.) Be quick about it, you want the oven to stay hot.

Then- (this is the only complicated part.  bear with me.)  slide a shallow broiler pan under your baking bread rack, quickly pour about 2 cups of hot water into the pan.  Shut the oven as fast as you can.  This process is to create steam, which in turn will make an unbelievably crisp-yet-chewy-yet-crunchy crust. 

Bake for about 30 minutes. 

You know it's done when it looks nice and crusty brown.



That's it! 

Notice that there is not a bit of fat added to this dough. 

That justifies the olive oil dipping plate you can make to go with the steaming bread and you can pretend you're in Italy or France or some country with amazing bread.  (Really, America?  White sliced bread?  That's the best we can do?)

olive oil + italian seasoning + little garlic + little fresh ground salt & pepper  = who needs butter?



lunch yesterday; build your own sandwiches.  we had 4 grape tomatoes left at the end.  ;) 

oh I just remembered. . . I was going to post homemade tortillas. . .

okay, there might be a few more food posts. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

cookin' at home: (easy bread edition)



The other day when our Chinese feast came to a grand total of $24,I found myself wondering once again. . . why do I cook?  Twenty four dollars isn't that much and even though we didn't have any conversation  (because a violent sci-fi was distracting everyone on the humongo big screen)

I wonder again

is this cookin' at home thing worth it?

It is, it is, it is.

Here are just a couple reasons why:

Home is a safe place.

It is a great time to gather the family together in one place and catch up. 

The dinner table is one of the very best places to learn manners

prayer

patience

please and thank you

pleasant conversation

You have the ability to teach children a balanced diet, something that is sadly lacking in our society.

And even though our Chinese was de.lish and only cost $24, that was for lunch.  *math time* $168 per week is a bit steep.  For lunches.  For anything.  That's well over our whole weekly grocery expenses. 

So. . . it is cheaper. . . to eat at home.  That's another good reason.

Way back last fall I had a huge frustration meeting with my grocery budget and my slush funds [ha ha]  and facebook.  I got a ton of sympathy but a lot more advice on how to stretch the ol' grocery budget.

I didn't grow up stretching much.  If we wanted it. . . well. . . we pretty much went to Wal-Mart and bought it.  :)  We didn't take a yearly vacation (camping is not a vacation) but we didn't view life through budget lenses, either.  If you wanted to have a big party, well, you had a big party, and if you wanted to order pizza for your big party, you ordered pizza for your big party (and we'll have a side of wings with that). 

My background is hardworking crazy fun loving family life, emphasis on fun.  This thought process contributed to a definite carelessness toward finances on my part; we clashed a lot over money issues during the early years of our marriage.

What I didn't realize about budgeting [or, telling your dollars where to go] was the fact that it would revolutionize our finance arguments.  At one time we fought over money issues constantly. After we began drawing up a monthly budget, calculating what there was to spend and the places the money had to go, needed to go and the places we wanted it to go, those frustrating misunderstandings just plain ceased. 

Of course, we still argue.  [You knew that.]  But we both look back at that point five-ish years ago as the place our money arguments really disintegrated.

So we tell our grocery dollars where to go. We tell them to go buy groceries.  Ha ha.

The only problem is that it is so stinkin expensive to buy fresh things, to eat healthy, to feed your children balanced meals and not spend hours cooking either. 

One of the best tips I received via my facebook plea was to serve breads  at a meal.  Initially we all react a little to serving carbs, but breads can be healthy and the important thing is to be serving well rounded meals.

As I started incorporating breads and more side dishes my grocery $$ have practically stood up and saluted.  In other words, they are actually buying more food.

So I thought I'd give you some of our very favorite bread selections.  Hopefully your grocery budget will stand up and salute you too.
I took the Carbonara away.  You would cry, too. It's yummy.




This is a batter bread that does not require kneading.  It's very easy, and usually called Idiot Bread but we think that's a nasty name and after a lot of discussion the kids came up with Anybody Bread. (Since anybody can make it.)

Buttery, herb-y, parmesan-y, the perfect accompaniment to a lighter meal such as a broth-based soup or a chef salad.  We make it almost once a week, usually serving it cut like breadsticks with some marinara sauce on the side.

Anybody Bread

serve with tossed chef's salad, carbonara, spaghetti squash & marinara, any italian soup

2 c. warm water
1 T. yeast
1 T. sugar
1 t. salt
1 c. whole wheat flour
3 c. white flour
1 stick butter, melted
garlic powder
italian seasoning
parmesan cheese

Soften yeast and sugar in warm water. Add salt and flour and beat well. Spread into a lightly greased 9 x 13 pan and cover loosely. Let rise for 1 hour, then pour melted butter over the top, sprinkle with the seasonings and bake at 400 for 30 - 35 minutes.

It's the bomb!


Anybody Bread
 
 
And who doesn't love a good cornbread?
 
I know I blogged this at one time, but I'm going to put it in here again.  It's just so yummy.  We make this about once a week, too.  It's perfect crumbled for a cornbread salad, it's good with soup, chili or any meal that just needs a lil extra "somethin'. "
 
Sweet Cream Cornbread
 
serve with chili, corn chowder, chicken taco salad
 
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/3 cup oil
1 cup half and half

Mix dry ingredients; add wet ingredients, stirring just until moistened. Pour into greased, round 9" pan. Bake 18 - 20 minutes at 400.
 
*For every day, I replace the 1/2 & 1/2 with skim milk and the white flour with w/w.  I also use a stoneware round pan.
 
While we're on the subject of cornbread,  just in case you aren't aware of the South's great secret-with-a-boring-name, you may want to try baked corn.  My very first introduction to this was from my very Southern friend, Jodi. It sounded a bit weird to my small midwestern mind, but I tried it out and life has never been the same. ha ha ha.  Imagine a very rich, dense corn bread that almost has a custard like crumb. 
 
(Really I want to be a food writer when I grow up.)
 
 
Baked Corn
 
serve with taco salad, roast beef sandwiches, anything spicy that needs some sweet balance
 
1 box Jiffy cornbread mix
1 egg
1/4 c. butter
1 cup sour cream
1 can creamed corn
1 can whole corn, undrained
 
Mix all ingredients together, pour into greased 9 x 9 pan and bake @ 350 for about 30 minutes. 
 
*I usually double this, and bake it in the crock pot for 4 hours on low, convenient for Sunday dinner.
 
 
 
There's just no way to make biscuits healthy unless you look at it this way: you're caring for your mental health. 
 
And there's really no better warm fuzzy comfort food.
 
Here's my favorite dinner biscuit recipe, similar to the ones Red Lobster serves;  I usually mix up all the ingredients except the milk and store in the fridge until I'm ready to bake them.
 
Red Lobster Copycat Biscuits
 
serve with seafood (tilapia & steamed broccoli) or chicken wild rice soup. or anything that needs a cheesy biscuit.  :)
 
2 cups flour
1/2 t. garlic salt
4 1/2 t. baking powder
2 T. sugar
1/2 c. shortening
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 t. italian seasoning
1 cup milk
 
Drop by large spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet.  (You should have enough for 12 biscuits.) Bake at 400 for 12-15 minutes.  Brush with garlic butter and serve immediately. 
 
 
And our newest craze,
 
 
This bread is great dipped in a little olive oil, salt, pepper & parmesan. I have been keeping the dough in an apothecary style jar ($7 at Walmart) and it's worked fine.  The recipe directions can seem a bit intimidating, but it's really quite easy. It's truly a five minute project to make a loaf of bread using this method, and there's great artisanal texture and holes and crustiness.  It's fun.