Sunday, September 30, 2012

The laundry shelves

I had been having some moments of regret lately.  Wishing that we would have waited to start listening to God and start following him.  There were a few things I would have liked to have done before I committing to changing my lifestyle and spending habits.  I am mean really, no shopping in NEW YORK?!! That just seemed ridiculous!! And what about my house???  Particularly my laundry room, it is the one room in the house that we really haven't touched and it needs help! I had big plans for it: a very pinteresty, clean, and organized room, with coordinating baskets and containers. So much for that. :/  
I am so glad we decided to share what God is doing in our lives on our blog because it is an extra little piece of accountability, it would have been really easy for me to say, let's just do the laundry room like we had planned, then we will we will change, God didn't really mean to include that in our new lifestyle.  BUT it turns out he did, he wants to include everything, not just what I feel like giving and on the days I feel like giving.  AND just like always, his plan is better than mine, more creative, more unique, more fun, all round better!  I honestly didn't even miss shopping in New York.  Granted it would have been nice to come home with a few fun fashions but it would have meant hours spent in and out of stores trying on clothes, while my husband waited for me, wanting to be doing something else, anything else.  It definitely would have changed the trip and the trip was perfect, so no regrets there.
AND the laundry room is going to be better than I ever expected! We have a new plan for the laundry room which will use all recycled, repurposed and reused items. I am excited! We just finished the shelves, so here is a sneak peak of what is to come in the room.  The shelves are a great testimony to me of how, if we are faithful and obedient, God will provide.  We had already bought all new shelving for the laundry room but hadn't gotten around to putting it up.  So when we started making these changes, we didn't feel right about keeping them and decided to return them. One morning when I was coming home from a run, I saw the city workers were tearing up the bridge next to our house.  I asked them what they were doing with all the wooden planks and if I could have them (I knew Colin could turn them into something awesome!). They said sure.  So Colin ran down and loaded them up.  And      WA-LA - we now have new shelves!!!!!

In my original vision I was going to have all matching very cool metal storage containers but instead I went through the house, re-organized things, designated new purposes for old things (Colin's fishing creel now holds the socks that lost their mates), and painted a few things, and I now have an organized, eclectic laundry storage system. It works great and it was free!

I love the metal plate and screws (that he just had laying around in the shed!) that he used to secure them together.
 At first the hardware seemed way to bulky for my taste, but now it has grown on me and I feel like it totally complements the look.
Now I need ideas for the ugly electric cabinet to the left? Any suggestions on what we can do to cover/hide it? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think! 

The best part about the shelves is that they are also a part of history in Wyoming.  We have walked over that bridge countless times, it is one of our favorite areas of town and we can see it from our kitchen window.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Our favorite Breakfast

I love that fall is here, the mornings are cool, the colors are brilliant, and it feels like the world is slowing down to soak it all in before cold dark winter.  This weather makes me just want to have slow, cozy mornings, enjoying my family, the sunlight (it always so much more rich in the fall), and warm yummy breakfasts.  This is our, well, Hudson and mine (colin would probably appreciate an egg or sausage thrown in) favorite breakfast recipe, it is so versatile and easy to make and always hits the spot!  We usually make some variation of the recipe, depending on what fruit is in season or in the freezer, on Sundays and then eat it for a few days (another reason why it's my favorite).  Here is a pic of Hudson and his pony helping with breakfast.

Here is the general recipe with some of my notes - it is so easy to substitute and add to:

5 -7 large fruits -we use pears, peaches, nectarines, apples
1.5 cup frozen blueberries (our favorite) or other berries or 1/2 cup dried fruit (apples & currents are a great combo)

1-2 cups oatmeal - depending on how much fruit you have, I'm always trying to have more fruit and less grains. Today we used 1 cup oat meal and one cup soaked Buckwheat
1 tbls. ground flax
1-2 tbls. maple syrup or honey more depending on how sweet you like it.
1-2 tbls. spoons spices - I always use cinnamon and either nutmeg, cloves, or cardamon 
1 tbls,. butter 
Other potential additions - shredded coconut, chopped nuts, hemp seeds, ??? the possibilities are endless

Spray bottom of glass baking dish, preferably one that has a lid. Cut fruit and put in bottom of dish.  Either mix all other ingredients in separate bowl and spread on top.  Or, if you are like me and like to skip steps, sprinkle all ingredients on top of the fruit and stir it together, it's ok to mix the fruit in.

Bake at 360 for about 40 minutes.  About half way through the baking pull dish out and stir, make sure to incorporate the juicy bubbly fruit on the bottom throughout whole dish. Bake a little longer and enjoy with milk, almond milk, or yogurt (it tastes like dessert when you eat it with greek yogurt!).

It is totally worth it to make a big batch and have left overs, it is seriously as easy as cereal, just pull from fridge and add milk!
That's my kind of cereal box. I know this picture is kind of gross, but you get eh idea.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The BIG Apple

Colin and I just snuck away on our first vacation sans Hudson!  It was pretty wonderful.  I had a lot of anxiety leading up to the trip, not just leaving my boy but dropping him off in an airport (Steve and Cindy picked him up on our lay-over in Minneapolis) and flying thousands of miles away.  It ended up being way easier than I thought it would be.  On day three I was actually feeling guilty that I didn't miss him more! Here is a quick re-cap of our time in the big city!
For those of you who didn't know BACKSTREETS back (alright), and I have the evidence to prove it.  We started our trip off with a very lazy morning, no roosters or children waking us before 6, which was AMAZING!!! We loved every minute of just lounging around.  After a late breakfast of banana crepes we headed to the CITY.  We ended up just walking around taking in the sights, sounds and cultural, fashion, linguistic and culinary diversity of the city.  City living is definitely different.  We saw some of the iconic sights -Grand Central Station (AMAZING) Empire State building, New York Public Library (beautiful) Bryant Park and Times Square (over stimulating). We finished the evening off with drinks on a rooftop while being serenaded by the one and only-ies - Nick, Brian, Howie, Kevin and A.J. (I did have to google those, I don't really know their names).   So this is city living - A free BackStreet Boy concert at Bryant park!   Don't believe me? - Look closely at the picture above, courtesy of Natalie's roommate, Stacy, we weren't quite as aggressive as her in getting center stage position. But we still enjoyed the show.  They sort of ended up being the theme song of the weekend, their songs are still as catchy as they were 20 years ago (Yes, they were kicking off their 20 year reunion tour!) but their dance moves aren't quite as cool.  They seemed a little too old to be rocking the boy band moves, which made me feel like I was probably too old to rock them as well.

The next day we did a bike tour of the city, lovely Lili joined the fun!
After a perfect day of bike touring, we headed to the New York Red Bulls game, tickets curtesy of Colin's old intern, who left the Land Trust for the Red Bulls.
Some sister love - cause really that is what the weekend was all about!
We had another very relaxing Sunday morning with Natalie and her roommates, and then headed off to walk the high line and eat of course. I am actually surprised that Colin didn't take more pictures of the food...It was amazing. So much good food, so little time.
Natalie and Chris on the high line.
 It was so fun to get to see and share in Natalie and Chris's lives! Big City living sure is living!  We ate about 6 meals a day, we were so enthralled by the culinary diversity! Thai, Japanese, Italian, Mexican all on one block!!! We have to drive 200+ miles for just a taste of ethnicity!
Monday night we hit up BROADWAY!!!! No pictures in the theater...ops we had to sneak one! We went to Phantom of the Opera - what a treat to see the longest running show on broadway in a beautiful theater and have a night on the town.  I probably should have thought more about which show to see, we were ready for some serious singing and dancing.  There was plenty of singing but  not too much dancing. I was sort of hoping for a few new dance moves to bring to Sheridan.
Our last two days we pretty much crammed in every tourist attraction possible. The trip to the Statue of Liberty might not have been that fun for Colin.  He had several one way conversations as I was very busy doing some professional development -  ease dropping on every Spanish conversation I could hear. So refreshing to hear real Spanish instead of first year students butchering the language (j.k. students- i love you and you're not butchering it, you're practicing until you get it right!)
 Freedom tower from a distance, 9/11 memorial at its base. 
After that we walked through the city, tasting our way to mid-town where we caught a taxi and headed out to get our boy!
 Hudson had the time of his life, it appears he did not miss us at all and is actually hoping we go on more vacations without him...
 Grandpas and Grandmas and Great Grandmas are so much more fun than Moms!!!
 Thank you so much for an amazing week Natatlie and Chris, you are great hosts and tour guides! And THANK YOU Betzler clan for loving our boy while we were away!

Saturday, September 08, 2012

How to make oat flour + gluten free blueberry muffins

As you may have noticed I haven't been posting many recipes lately. I really haven't been baking much lately for a variety of reasons, mainly because it has been so darn hot and because I have been doing this gluten free business and good gluten free baking has eluded me.  Most of what I have made hasn't turned out that good :/
BUT I am now that fall is now in the air and the mornings are crisp and cool.  I have been longing for something hot and delicious fresh from the oven. That plus a friend of ours gave us an enormous box of pears and I had to puree about half of them because we couldn't eat them fast enough. I have been thinking about all the ways I could substitute pear puree for oil and sugar in some goodies.  So it was time to get baking.

I decided to start by making some homemade oat flour.  I had done this before a few years ago and remembered loving how it tasted...but it was a lot of work, so I throw that 5 lb. bag of oat groats in the freezer and forgot about them. Until this morning.

How to make your own oat flour -

1 - Place your oats in a blender, about 1-2 cups at a time
2. Blend until fine flour like texture
3. Sift - (I hate this part, it's messy. next time I may skip it and see what happens)

4. Re-blend the pieces that didn't sift
5. Enjoy

It looks like about one cup of oat groats = a little over a 1/2 cup of flour.  Apparently, you can make flour with any kind of oats, (groats, steel cut, rolled, etc.)  I used oat groats because I have a surplus of them and it is hard to use them for other things because they take so darn long to cook. You can click on this link to read about the different kinds of Oats and why some are better than others for flour!

So it is actually quite easy to make your own oat flour, however it is quite messy and takes awhile.

Gluten free (and almost sugar free) Blueberry Muffins-
1 cup All purpose flour blend with Xanthan Gum (we used Gifts of Nature)
1/2 cup oat flour
2 tbls. oil
1/2 cup almond milk
2 eggs
1.5 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup pear puree
1/4 tsp. salt
About a cup of frozen blueberries

1-2 tbls. raw sugar or honey (after tasting the batter I didn't think it was quite sweet enough, I didn't measure exactly but I added about tbls, of sugar)

Mix everything together in a bowl until just combined. Heat oven to 350, grease muffin sheets and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.  ENJOY!

So the result was amazing. BUT the jury is still out as to whether or not making your own is worth it.  It is significantly cheaper than store bought, but it is messy (I'm a clean kitchen person!) and time consuming...
homemade oat flour

or playing with this guy...

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Some sweet stuff

It has been over a month since we stared making these changes.  Even though it hasn't been that long, it has been enlightening, convicting, and to be honest, hard!  Not buying stuff, it sounds so simple and it is, but it is the awareness and convictions that are hard.  I am realizing how much we truly have. I honestly want for nothing...except the latest trends (I have 25 pairs of shoes, but I don't have those cute new shoes!)  We have so many things that I am always trying to find organized, cute ways to store I can have room for more stuff?? HONESTLY! It's crazy.  I never would have thought I was materialistic. In fact, I always thought we were pretty minimalistic but honestly stuff rules our lives. This month with the shift from "what can we buy" to "how can we give/save" completely opened my eyes to how much time I spend thinking about stuff or pursuing stuff.  Whether, it is shopping or pinning, watching tv or reading a magazine, so much of life is about stuff.  AND ultimately, that is not what we want our life to be about (which is hard cause we still like stuff :/).  BUT at the end of our time we want to be able to answer that we were faithful in the little things (Luke 16:10) And right now God is showing us that the little things matter.  Little things like chocolate and coffee.  Ultimately, we want our life to be about loving people well and right now that means making different financial and consumption choices.

So the realization of my selfishness, my addiction to stuff, my (gulp) love for stuff has been hard. But the freedom in realizing that it doesn't have to be that way and the shift to, "do I really need that or can I put my money somewhere else?" has been FREEING and life-giving and SOOOOO worth it. So this month out of our "not buying savings" we are donating to  Partners in Health, I would describe them as a radical non-profit organization with an attitude - they believe health care is a human right!- (WHAT? - right?!)  so they provide healthcare to the world's poor. Here is their mission, it rocks:

At its root, our mission is both medical and moral. It is based on solidarity, rather than charity alone. When a person in Peru, or Siberia, or rural Haiti falls ill, PIH uses all of the means at our disposal to make them well—from pressuring drug manufacturers, to lobbying policy makers, to providing medical care and social services.Whatever it takes. Just as we would do if a member of our own family—or we ourselves—were ill. 

If you haven't read Mountains Beyond Mountains you should.  It is a great book about Paul Farmer, one of the founders of PIH and his life.  Is is so convicting, it might take you 4 years to starting taking action on your convictions, like it has for me.  I promise that after reading you will be convinced that you can do more.

Here is a little sweetness to end on:
Who needs chocolate when you can have caramelized pears?
These are seriously so delicious (they taste way better than they look).  The first day we ate them on pancakes, and now Hudson and I have been eating them with a little bit of greek yogurt, he likes it as much as he likes ice cream. Which makes me think how good they would be on ice cream.
Make these. Now. Make a lot of them and eat them all week.
4 pears
2 bananas
3 Tbls. sugar in the raw

1. Cut pears lengthwise; remove cores.  Place sugar on a plate, press the cut side of each pear and one side of bananas in sugar.2. Heat a large pan over medium heat. Place pears and banana sugar side down in pan Cook until beginning to brown, 7 to 8 minutes.3. Add about 2 tbls of water. Cover; simmer until pears are tender, 5 - 10 minutes (depending on ripeness), add more water if you need.  Once pears are soft remove lid and cook until you have the desired texture of fruit and amount of liquid. 

 Can't waste a bite.
 So good you will want to sing about it.