Saturday, July 21, 2012

Low Country Shrimp Boil

     We had some great friends over for dinner last night. We hadn't seen them in a while and it was so glad to catch up! I love cooking and entertaining in my home and love to serve them this way :). Lance got me Paula Deen's Southern Cooking Bible a couple months ago and I have been eyeing a recipe in it since. It is her Low Country Shrimp Boil. Lance can be pretty picky about his food so I love when we have people over and I can try out recipes he may not normally eat.

Crab boil seasoning (such as Zatarian's or Old Bay)
12 small Red Potatoes
6 pieces (4in long) smoked sausage (e.g. andouille)
6 ears corn
3 lb large shrimp with shells

1. Fill  a LARGE pot with enough water to cover all the ingredients (I used 7 qts). Add 2 tsp crab boil seasoning for every quart of water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
2. Add the potatoes and sausage to the boiling water and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes. Add the corn and cook for 10 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook for 3 minutes. You do no want to overcook the shrimp!
3. Drain and serve with plenty of butter and good bread.
4. Prepare to be blown away!

     This was SO easy and SO good! I couldn't believe how quickly it came together! You need a humongous pot to cook it in, but that's the only pot you need for the meal. We have a hard time finding fresh sea food here so I just used a frozen deveined easy peel shrimp I got at walmart and it worked great, but I'm sure it would be even better if you have access to fresh shrimp. I served this with some great everything italian loaf and a salad I made but forgot to put out. The recipe says it feeds 6 but that is six big appetites because there was four of us (plus a Brody) eating it and there is a TON left over! This is a great entertaining meal because it has such and awesome, laid back, summertime feel to it. So go right now and make it today; you will be so glad you did!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I hate it when this happens!

This is an amazing tip y'all. It's unbelievable how it works; check it out....

My boys LOVE bananas! We go through quite a few in a week. Lance likes them green and gross and Brody likes them yellow. This week we had a couple that didn't get eaten and I have been waiting for them to turn that perfect color of brown. Well today was the day. I got my recipe out and started whipping it out. I got to "mix in 2 eggs," so I get my eggs out and bam. I only have one left. Crap. Brody has just started his nap so I know we're stuck her for a couple hours. So I turn to google and there it is. What to substitute an egg for. You mix 1 Tbs corn starch in 3 tbs water and add it to the mix. I was extremely skeptical as I waited for the bread to cook. Take a look!

It worked! The bread was great! It had a crispier top than I normal have, but I also tried a new recipe this time so I'm not sure if that wasn't part of it as well. I hate it when I have my mind all made up to make something and realize I'm missing an ingredient (or several). I love little tips like this that make it work. The tip does not recommend substituting any more than 2 eggs, and I would be hesitant to use it instead of any eggs, but works good when you're in a jam like this. Hope y'all can use it some time!

Oh and here's the recipe I used this time. I've been looking for "the banana bread" recipe, so please share if you have a great one!

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten (or one plus the substitute in my case)
2 1/3 cups mashed overripe bananas 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

Blessings Friends!

Dish Soap Mania

I have been searching for fun, educational activities to do with Brody. It is so stinkin' hot here right now our time outside is limited to just a about thirty minutes in the morning and another short outside time in the evening. My poor boy. Y'all this kid would LIVE outside if I let them. At the end of our thirty minutes he's all red cheeked and sweaty but still gets so upset when I have to carry him inside.
So, most of our play/learning time is sequestered indoors. There's only so many times you can walk from one end of the house to the other, read the same book 385734530 times in a day and through the same ball at the same wall. Enter, dish soap mania. This was SO easy. We took ours outside for a tester, but you could easily do this inside as well (hello found a way to get the toddler to clean the floor. I'm just kidding. But really...).

All you do is squirt some dish soap into your food processor, add a bit of water and voila! Dish soap mania! See how foamy that is! That is only from a 1/4 cup soap and water (a little more soap than water)!

I sat Brody on the counter while I mixed it up and he loved watching the white foam appear out of nowhere. we then loaded up the bowl (sans blade), a cookie sheet, a ladle and a shovel and headed outside. Brody loved stirring it, sticking his hands in it, and watching it blow across the concreted when he dumped it out of the ladle. You can squish your fingers and toes in it, blow bubbles in it And hey, if they eat it (like my child did), it's just soap, no harm done.

You could easily add food coloring to this for some added fun. I would recommend taking the colored stuff outside though because it would be a little more difficult to clean up, and I'm all about easy. The foam lated about twenty minutes, and you could easily go whip up another batch if your kiddos are still interested in it. So go try this and have some Dish Soap Mania Fun!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Love All

    Jesus, friend of sinners, we have strayed so far away
We cut down people in your name but the sword was never ours to swingJesus, friend of sinners, the truth's become so hard to seeThe world is on their way to You but they're tripping over meAlways looking around but never looking up I'm so double mindedA plank eyed saint with dirty hands and a heart divided

Jesus, friend of sinners, the one who's writing in the sand
Made the righteous turn away and the stones fall from their handsHelp us to remember we are all the least of theseLet the memory of Your mercy bring Your people to their knees

Nobody knows what we're for only what we're against when we judge the wounded What if we put down our signs crossed over the lines and loved like You didOh Jesus, friend of sinnersOpen our eyes to world at the end of our pointing fingers Let our hearts be led by mercyHelp us reach with open hearts and open doorsOh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours*
This week is Vacation Bible School in our church. Lance and I are helping with the middle school class like we've done the past several years. I really enjoy getting to work with the kids, they've got such great personalities and it's great to spend the time getting to know them on their owns, rather than when they're intermixed with highschoolers.
     One thing I've really been blown away by this year though more than any of the others is how intense the "cliques" are and the amount of judging already going on at this age. One of the great things about our church is we have kids here from every walk and class of life. We are given the perfect opportunity to show Christ's love for all people. However, it's so sad to see how early these kids are looking down on others because they aren't wearing the right clothes, don't have enough money, or just aren't "cool" enough. Already this week I have heard one girl say, "oh my gosh, that is the exact same shirt she had on yesterday." And another tell her friend, part of her own group, "what are you wearing, your clothes don't even match."
     It is so heartbreaking to hear such harsh judgmental words flying around children at such an influential age. Especially with the girls. So much of our self value, esteem and respect are developed during the middle school years. so much of our self worth is determined based on others opinions of us. Yes I know, it is up to us to decide weather or not we are going to let those comments mold our minds or if we are just going to brush that off. But this is middle school people. That kind of brave wisdom only comes with time and intense encouragement from our parents. The sad thing is a lot of these kids don't have parents there to tell them not to listen to the harsh words, to remind them they are beautifully and wonderfully made, that they are worth it.
     What we can do is be that encouragement for them. Love the unlovable, love the broken, love the desperate, love the scared. Just love. It is amazing what a little love can do for someone. Especially love that is basked in Christ. While I hope I would never voice cruel statements, I am guilty of having judgmental thoughts. Of being drawn to people who look like me, the ones who fit in with my lifestyle. I have a dear friend who is also sponsoring this week and she is so good at loving all. She is such an encouragement and reminder to love and helps break my thoughts of judgement.
     My heart has really been burdened this week with love. I think about what cruel words have been said to me and how still carry them around five, ten, fifteen years later. I never want that to happen to another. So I'm making a conscience decision to love. The other thing I'm vowing to do is teach this to Brody. As much impact as negative comments can have on young people, positive ones can have so much more. Because remember, "I was that lost cause, I was the out cast. But you died for sinners just like me, a grateful leper at your fight."*

*Lyrics from Casting Crown's "Jesus Friend of Sinners" 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Thievery Plain and Simple

     One of my dear friends blogs over at Life With Lucas and she does a great weekly post called "Wednesday Love" where she shares her favorite things with you. I am totally stealing her idea (hope that's ok, Audra), so go check out the brilliance. :) Like right now. Go, I'll wait :).
     Welcome back! A vital part of my morning (or late morning, or afternoon, or late afternoon, or...) is my cup of coffee. I love coffee y'all. Like really love it, and drink about 4-5 cups a day. These cups are not usually back to back, and have enough time lapse between that a pot of coffee would need to be remade in order to ensure optimal sippage. Don Don Don....Insert the Keurig!

    My mother-in-law got me this for Christmas last year and I love this baby. Hot, steamy cup of deliciousness in under a minute. There are so many different flavors to choose from, you'll never get tired of "the same ol', same ol'." My current favorite is Island Coconut, it's the perfect summer coffee. They not only have coffee, but tons of teas to choose from, and hot chocolate too. I will say the one hot chocolate we've tried I wasn't a huge fan of, but I don't really care for any type of instant hot chocolate. It's just too watery for me.
     On the model I have you have three different size choices. For coffee I always go with the biggest (which is coffee mug sized) and it never tastes weak. I like my hot tea really strong, so I choose the middle setting for it, and it works perfect. You can also adjust temperature on it, and set a timer to turn the Keurig on and off. It takes less than a minute to brew a cup of coffee, but it takes 3-4 minutes to "warm up" when you first turn it on. I set mine to turn on at 5:15 so it's all ready on and warmed up by the time I'm ready for a cup of coffee.
     I will say it can get expensive. Yes, it cost more than coffee from a plain old pot, but sometimes you gotta pay for convenience. You can also get a reusable K-cup that you just fill up with your favorite ground coffee each time. Voila, money saved :).
     This is by far one of my favorite gifts I have received, and use it every single day. Keep that old pot around though when you are making coffee for a houseful though, it is more time consuming and much more expensive to make a single cup for everyone one at a time.

Have a blessed Wednesday y'all. This is the day the Lord has made! Rejoice! Be Glad! (Psalm 118:24)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Separation Anxiety

     Ok mommas, tell me we're not the only ones going through this. Brody has got some MAJOR separation anxiety. I cannot leave him with out epic meltdowns ensuing. Brody stays at home everyday, even when I was working full time. Family comes over to watch him on the days I work. Since I have to leave so early, he is almost always asleep when I leave for work. Knowing that Brody would be limited in his interaction with other kids, Lance and I decided to start putting him in the nursery in church at 8 weeks so he would be used to the nursery, used  to being left, and have opportunities to play with other kids his age.
     However, this has not helped us any. I take Brody to nursery and you can see his little heart breaking as I walk out of the room saying, "it's ok Brody, momma loves you. I'll be back soon." About 82.6% of the time we see the number assigned to Brody for quick identification pop up on the big screens at the front of the auditorium. I hurriedly scramble past other parents knowing they know exactly why I'm running out of there as, what I think is inconspicuous but is probably clumsy and obvious, quickly as possible. I walk into nursery, pick him up, and bam. Life is good. Mom's here I can play, but don't you dare leave again woman.
     Separation anxiety reared its ugly head once again tonight. We are having VBS this week at church and Lance and I are helping with the Middle School kids. One of our friends teenage kids took Brody to class and he did great, peaked in on him as I'm going into the auditorium and see he is happily playing in a spectacular blue toy boat. I think "Yea! He's got it! This is going to be late." But, no. About 30 minutes later a worker comes and gets me and says, "We can't get him to stop crying we've tried everything."
     So, Brody and I go back into class and my sweet baby boy is as happy as can be. Now, you see this would be just fine and dandy if Brody had taken more after his laid back, life is good father and less after his 5 second attention span, on to the next thing, way too loud momma. A few minutes into being in class he's running around babbling happily and looking for balls. I scoop Brody up and we boogy on out of class. Where he runs around the halls happily looking at one thing then another. We are very fortunate to have a couple we are close to that Brody is very comfortable around and she found us outside and took Brody for a walk while I went back into class.
     I'm just at a total loss at what to do y'all. Lance thinks we should just try sneaking out so he doesn't get so upset in the first place, but from what I've seen that just makes matters worse. We try sending comfort items with him. That doesn't usually seem to help either. I really want Brody to be well adjusted and able to interact with other toddlers and not be attached to my hip 24/7. While a small part of me secretly likes that someone loves me THAT MUCH, that they cannot bear a second away from me. I know for Brody, it's best if he is able to have some time away from us. So please, if anyone has ANY tips, advice, been theres or feel for yas...pleas Please PLEASE send them my way.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Greatest Commandment

"Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment."
Matthew 22:36-38

     This week in Sunday school we were talking about sacrifice as a Christian. We turned to the ultimate example of sacrifice, the crucifixion. Anytime I have thought of the crucifixion before, I think of all Jesus did for me. What it meant for my life. What he was offering me through his sacrifice. My husband (who is like really amazing y'all), brought up an aspect of the cross I had never thought of. Jesus was acting out the greatest commandment. While we were on his minds on the cross, the main reason he was there, was because that's what God had asked of Him. 
     We see Christ asking in the garden, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me.; yet not my will, but yours be done." (Luke 22:42) Jesus is asking if there is any other way for the Father's will to be accomplished that he spare him the cross. However, because Jesus loves the Father so much; with all his heart, soul and mind, He trusts, and follows God's perfect plan. Jesus is The Great Example for us, and the love He demonstrates for the father is just further example for us. 

"And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments"
Matthew 22:39-40

     Love God, Love People. It's what it all boils down to. Time and time again throughout the Gospels we see Christ example of loving people. Even up to the end on the cross. We see Christ crying out for his fallen brothers and sister. "Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing." ( Luke 22:34) We see Christ reaching out to the theft who confesses Him. "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 22:43). 
     If Christ can forgive, and love the very people that just nailed him to the cross; if he can cry out for convicted criminals. If he can love us, how can we not love the lady who cut us off in traffic this morning? How can we not forgive the guy who screwed up our mocha frappe skinny joe?
    This is an area I struggle with daily. Sure, it seems like an easy concept, but when you make it personal, that's when the sacrifice sets in. I find myself saying. "Ok, I can forgive that mouthy doctor, but her, no way, not happening. You don't even KNOW what she's done to me." But who am I to say who is worth my love and forgives. If I were to look to Christ more. Follow his perfect example. Totally surrender and love my God with ALL my heart ALL my soul and ALL my mind, how could I NOT. After all, he loves and forgives me daily. 

Banana's Foster Banana Bread

Hey y'all! Hope you're having a fantastic weekend! I got a little creative in the recipe department this weekend and here's what I came up with.
My brother-in-law loves banana's foster, so I will occasionally try to come up with variations to the classic dessert. This one happen to come in the form of banana bread

2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 mashed bananas
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
almost a half a teaspoon rum extract
1 pkg caramel bits, reserve a couple handfuls to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 325, grease loaf pan and set aside
Blend together eggs, buttermilk, oil, vanilla and rum extract and bananas.
Sift together sugar, flour, baking soda and salt. Add to banana mixture and mix well
Coat caramel pieces in flour and add to mixture
Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for 1 hr and 10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

The Verdict:
I liked this bread very well but there were a couple problems. First, I'm a dingbat and new as soon as it happened that I goofed. I forgot to coat the caramels with flour before adding so needless to say, my bread had bit of a mushy caramel bottom with no caramels in the middle. Also, I think that this recipe could have used a little more rum extract in it. Next time I plan on increasing the amount to closer to 3/4 teaspoon rum extract and take the vanilla down to around 3/4 teaspoon as well.
For the most part this bread was pretty good and pan on trying to perfect it :). If any of you have any tips to make this more banana's foster esque,  I'd love to hear them!

Have a blessed Sunday!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Rain, Rain, Come and Stay!

We live in Oklahoma, and it is a great place to live. We have wide open country, farms, good manners and sweet tea. We also have hot summers. I'm not talking a little warm, I'm talking asphalt melting, sweat pouring, air so thick you can't breath hot. And along with the hot comes droughts long enough to make us worry. For as many storms as we have in the spring, they are very far and few between in the summer. It is starting to get to that point that we have many friends who are farmers that are beginning to get concerned with the lack of rain.We've even had it on our prayer requests at church the past couple of weeks.
Well folks, today it rained! It was cloudy when we woke up but we've learned not to get our hopes up that easily. Brody and I headed out to meet his "aunt" for breakfast while the big boys went fishing. When we left our favorite breakfast place, the heavens had opened and down poured the deliciously sweet rain! We had planned on going swimming after breakfast but were not too disappointed with the change in plans. It has been so hot here that Brody has not been able to play outside as much as he would like, so when we got home, we did a little playin' in the rain. :) Eh, we had our swimsuits on already, right?
So, thank you Lord for the rain, and the fun time we had playing in it! Rain is in the forecast for the next two days, so our fingers are crossed. This was Brody's first time playing in the rain and I really think he enjoyed it! So, here are some cute rainy day fun pictures to "brighten" your day!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

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I'm Back! And fun on the Fourth!

Hello there! I've been absent for a bit while we've had some major life changes going on. I have cut back from working full time, and now only work two days a week. This was a major answer to prayers for us. I have always dreamed of being able to stay at home full time and raise babies. That has never been a financial option for us though. We've made some financial tweaks, and thanks to the flexibility of my job, I now get to be at home more! It is such a blessing to be able to spend so much time with Brody! We are definitely learning to budget better, looking for ways to save money, and having lots of fun and adventures!
Speaking of fun, yesterday was the fourth of July! I hope everyone had a great time celebrating our independence and the blessing that it is to live in a free country! Yesterday was a little bit crazy for us, but hey, it wouldn't be our life with out a little crazy huh? I woke up early to run with some very dear friends, and hit a milestone! I ran four miles for the first time! Whoo hoo! Then came home to start the fun fourth festivities! We started with a patriotic breakfast for me and Brody (Lance isn't a breakfast eater). Thank you Pinterest for the yummy idea! It's just toast, strawberry jelly, bananas and blueberries! Brody loved it!
I was on call for the OR on the fourth and got called in not long after we had breakfast. I worked for about five hours while Lance and Brody played at home. I then came straight home to cook for our evening plans. Every year we go to a close family friends house for a fish fry, swimming, wiffle ball game and fireworks show. I took cheesy corn casserole by request and made some yummy dessert kabobs that I forgot to get a picture of. Fail. They were so cute though! I dipped marshmallows in red and blue candy melts, then added strawberries, and red and blue marbled vanilla cake that I cut into star shapes with a cookie cutter.
 We had so much fun at the party! The family lives on a ranch and have horses, cows and lots of land. Brody loves roaming around there property looking at animals and playing on the tractors! I didn't get any pictures of the afternoon because we were too busy roaming. :) We then settled in for some fire works and I managed to get a shot of my boys enjoying the show.

We didn't get home until almost eleven and little man was so tired, he slept until 8:30 this morning! Score!
Have a blessed day y'all! See you soon!