When it snows, make ice cream!

PicMonkey CollageIn Indiana, we have literally been snowed-in the house for going on 3- to 4-days and keeping four children entertained is always at the top of my priority list, even on the best of days!  As something new to try, we chose to make snow ice cream since we had over a foot of it on the ground and the result… A WHOLE LOTTA FUN!

If you do an internet search for a snow ice cream recipe, you’ll get a few variations but we choose to use what seemed to be a common recipe as well as what we hand on-hand in the house:

1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup sugar (or a little less as we thought it had a bit too much)
4 cups of fresh snow

Stir together the first 3 ingredients and then add in the snow and stir, stir, stir some more to mix it all. Serve immediately before the snow starts melting!  You will never get a “compact” ice cream but it will still be loose like snow.  The kids added strawberry syrup and sprinkles too it and was completely amazed that they were eating snow that tasted so yummy!

Pizza Calzone

Do you ever find one of those recipes and you think to yourself, “why haven’t I ever made that”?  I came across Pizza Calzones the other day while spending hours time on Pinterest and found this recipe for calzones here and just knew that I had to make these.  I knew I had bread dough in the freezer and so pulled those out to thaw/rise and used that instead of traditional pizza dough.  I won’t repeat the recipe as you can go to the site to see that but it’s definitely worth a try.

I made two — a plain ol’ cheese one for the kiddos and then a sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms (sauteed first), and cheese for the second one (pictured).  After we wrapped them, I then spread melted butter on the top of them and sprinkled Italian seasoning, which really gave the crust a nice flavoring.

What I really liked about this recipe is that BOTH were completely gone after dinner, and I realized next time, I’ll need to make three of these — 2 cheese and 1 meat, as my 4 kiddos demolished the first cheese one.  The second thing I liked is that one of my boys had a blast helping me in the kitchen with these by rolling out the dough, spreading the fillings and making the braid with the strips as the gal in the original recipe did.

Look at this yummy goodness…

DSCN0272

Go. Bake.

When did this happen?

Do you ever have those moments in your life when you are doing something and you think “how in the world did I get HERE”?  Here at this exact moment in your life when you have four kids and your putting one on the bus in the early morning, hoping and praying he has a good day and listens well.   Or when you are walking back to your house, looking at your neighbors well-kept yards and flowers, with a little pep in your step, so that you can go wake up the brother and sisters to get them going for the day only to do it all over again and put them on another bus and praying for them as the big orange rectangle takes them away.  And you think to yourself, how did I get HERE, at this exact moment, with four kiddos, a cat, a dog and a house in the suberb?

Mom

It’s these kind of days that when you are in the thick of it, you just want them to be over, for the weekend to hurry up and get here so that you can grab an extra hour of sleep before you start the day filled with soccer games, football games, a birthday party squeezed in and then dinner.  When three kiddos all yelling “mom!!!” and fighting each other or needing a band-aid and a kiss, or upset about what a friend said to hurt their feelings, that make you want to lock yourself in the laundry room to give a good cry (true story) before you come back out to face them all again.

mom2

It’s the kind of days when your neighbor’s daughter who is 22, comes home to visit, from where she moved after college to Kansas, and you think, I remember when we had those parents over for a cookout and she stood in our garage singing Brittany Spears when she was 10!  It’s when you look at her and think it’s gone, in the blink of the eye, all those years are gone and HERE is where you are.  Moving through life, taking all these little daily moments for granted and HERE is where life has brought you.  To the days where the kiddos still need you to talk openly and excitedly about their first crush on a girl in their class, to want you to still kiss their boo-boos away and who still need a 3rd drink of water before falling to sleep.  It’s HERE where you fall into bed at night utterly exhausted from the day, thinking that you would love to look at the new magazine that came in the mail today but you are just too tired.  It’s HERE where God has put you exactly where you supposed to be at this exact moment in your life, no matter how many times you think that you can’t do one more day by yourself while the hubby is at work, no matter how many tears are shed thinking that you are failing as a mother and the feeling guilty over the yelling that just happened, God has his hand tucked safely in yours and is watching over you.  He’s got this.  He’s got this.

Knitting for Charity

I finished this baby/toddler blanket last night to go to a local orphan or to another country on a mission trip through our church — my first charity knitting project! Before I turn it in to our church, I plan to pray over it for the wee one receiving this blanket to know they are loved.

This was such a simple way to show my kids how to have compassion for others in this world.  It took me 5 weeks of on/off again knitting in the evenings and they would ask several times who it was for or if I knew who it would go to. From these questions, I was able to have conversations with them about showing and expressing love to those they may not even know or ever meet.

Image

Pattern can be found here:  http://www.lionbrand.com/patterns/90371AD.html.  The design on this one is just really hard to see but there are “rows” in which they alternate and almost looked raised. It would look better with a solid color of yarn but I was able to use up yarn I had in my stash for this.  Super easy pattern!

How To Serve Others

For many years, I served in the children’s ministry because in having four children of my own, I “knew” children — it was something I could do easily.  However, as time went on, because again, I DO have four children of my own, I came to resent the Sundays where I knew I had to go in and serve in the nursery or classroom.  My church “time” was and still is, time where I can connect with God, get rejuvenated for the week ahead and have some quiet time understanding God’s word.  When I served in the nursery or classroom, this rejuvenation was being stripped of me.

I turned in my notice to the church and let them know that this was no longer for me at this stage of my life as my “heart” just wasn’t in it anymore.  And then I did nothing.  I didn’t serve.  But as God instructs us in the bible, we are to serve others and that nagging sensation came back in which I knew I wanted to do “something” to help others.

What does the bible say about serving others?

Acts 20:35:  In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Proverbs 11:25:  Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.

1 Peter 4:10:  As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.

My family belongs to a “big” church and by “big”, we’re talking about 3,000 attendees to our main location each Sunday.  This does not include two off-site locations that are growing at leaps and bounds as well.  So as you can imagine with a big church, there are many families or persons in need when times arise — both good and bad.  Surgeries, birth of a baby, death of a spouse, etc.  In these times, the church likes to help out in easing the burden of fixing meals and they have a team of women that they reach out to fix a meal when a need arises.  I found a way to serve. This is something that I usually do about twice a month on average and it’s something that I can do from the comfort of my home — cook.  It takes usually less than 30 minutes to drive to the home, drop the meal off and offer a few words of encouragement or simply introduce myself and see if there’s anything else they need.  Better yet, I usually take one of my children with me so that they too can have compassion for other people instilled in them by watching me serve as their example.

I know that for some of you reading this blog entry, you don’t have a church home and maybe have no interest in doing so, but you don’t have to in order to serve others.  I had a good friend who has three children and was horribly sick over this past Thanksgiving holiday.  A neighbor and I split up a Thanksgiving menu, went in together on a turkey, and then both our families carried a full meal down to their home so that they could still enjoy the holiday without the stress and my friend could stay in the comfort of her bed knowing that her family was still enjoying a meal and time spent together. I was already cooking for my family and so cooking the additional food wasn’t an extra burden — it took very little extra time but yet  the gesture went so far!  And again, our children were so excited about being able to care for someone in need, that we all agreed that we would seek out another family in need of a Thanksgiving meal this coming holiday.

I believe that there are so many opportunities to serve others in our daily lives with just small gestures of kindness.  Cooking for me, is a simple act.  For others, it may be going to a nursing home and spending time or simply mowing the lawn of the older person that lives next to you.  LOOK for things to do and you’ll be amazed at how both you and the person you are serving are blessed!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgic

braceletGrandma’s Bracelet

The definition of nostalgic is a bittersweet longing for things, persons, or situations of the past or the condition of being homesick; homesickness.  This bracelet was my grandmother’s and when she passed away, I was able to keep it.  It has a charm for each of her four sons, as well as her grandchildren.  The second to the right charm, the head, that’s me.

And oh how I miss my grandmother horribly.  I remember running down the alley to her home when I was a kid.  Spending countless hours sitting around her kitchen table as she cooked.  She was a second mom to me.  I can still remember to this day, how she smelled.  She passed away 6-1/2 years ago while I was pregnant with my daughter, Isabella.  And I think she passed away and passed on to Isabella her personality — she’s fiesty and sassy, just like my grandmother was.  There are certain days I want to scream and then there are certain days, I smile, seeing this trait in my daughter.

How about S’More?!

Caden_FireI went to a girl scout leader meeting about a month ago and they had a S’More Bar (best thing ever!) in lieu of desserts and I was in awe — what a great idea!  They also had a take-home handout which listed all the different types of s’mores that you can make and so below are all those yummy combinations but unfortunately, I cannot take credit for creating these — although I hope to take the credit for trying all of them this summer!

I had never even imagined anything outside of the good ol’ backyard fire s’more but sure enough, ready for the challenge, I made a few that night at the meeting and OMGoodness, were they good!  If you are like our family and are willing to fire up the logs in the backyard just for the purpose of making s’mores (this is Caden in the picture, our lover in the family of all things S’More) or, if you have a camping trip planned this summer, make sure to bring along a few more goodies than normal!

Do these not sound absolutely delicious!?

Elvis S’More
Graham Crackers, Toasted Marshmallow, Banana Slices & Peanut Butter

Cinnamon Toast S’More
Cinnamon Graham Crackers, Toasted Marshmallow & White Chocolate

Mint Chocolate S’More
Chocolate Wafers, Toasted Marshmallow and a Peppermint Patty

Caramel Apple S’More
Cinnamon Graham Crackers, Toasted Marshmallow, Apple Slices & a Caramel-Filled Chocolate

Nutty Banana S’More
Graham Crackers, Toasted Marshmallow, Reese’s Cup & Sliced Banana

Strawberry & Chocolate S’More
Graham Crackers, Toasted Marshmallow, Dark Chocolate & Strawberry Slices

Cinnamon & Caramel S’More
Cinnamon Graham Crackers, Toasted Marshmallow, Caramel-Filled Chocolate

Padding Bear S’More
Graham Crackers, Toasted Marshmallow, Orange Marmalade & Dark Chocolate

Strawberries & Coconut S’More
Graham Crackers, Toasted Marshmallow, Strawberries & White Chocolate

PB&J S’More
Graham Crackers, Strawberry Toasted Marshmallow, Peanut Butter & Strawberries