The Dead Green Thumb

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From My God’s Garden

I come from a long line of gardeners – my Mom, my Dad, my Nan, even my brother can grow unending bounties of things.  Flowers, cucumbers, pumpkins, blueberries, tomatoes, roses, the lists of things they manage to grow in abundance seems a mile long.  

It goes beyond just having a “green thumb”, I think their insides are completely green – heck if you close enough, I bet even their pee is green!  (Also, you’re peeing green you should see someone about it…that’s not normal)

They love it and can often be heard saying silly things like, “it’s so relaxing” and “all you have to do is water it”, as if all that growing just magically happens.

It doesn’t, just so you know.  It totally does NOT just happen and green thumbs are NOT genetic.  Wanna guess how I know?

Because I KILL EVERYTHING.

It’s a stinkin’ good thing I manage to keep these kids alive because when it comes to plants, their entrance into my life is their life sentence.  With the exception of the cactus I was given 6 years ago, who thrives on neglect I have never, not once kept another house plant alive.

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Proof of my neglect and His success

If you were to look at the outside of our house you may think I was totally full of the BS since I have two absolutely flourishing & beautiful rose bushes out there.  However, I am not the only reason they are doing so well is because they’re in God’s space – He gets the credit not me.  I don’t even prune them regularly – or until they’re taking up so much sidewalk people might complain.

Part of the problem is that I hate, hate getting dirt under my finger nails.  I don’t mind bread dough, cinnamon & sugar or even ground beef on my hands but dirt makes me cringe.  And before you start telling me I can wear gloves, they don’t work.  That sneaky stuff gets in there & it’s almost instantly gritty – YUCK!

The other part of the problem is I get so busy I forget about them, in particular to water them.  Oh, I’ll think about it as I walk out the door, land a sweet tuck jump or hit the shower and put it in the ol’ “gotta get it done” portion of my memory bank.  It has a secret backdoor that any & all things non-essential seem to slip right through, never to be seen again.

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I used to get upset about it.  I used to feel like a failure and worry that my garden loving girls were going to grow up deprived, void of all talent & skills necessary to earn the name “green thumb”, and I alone, would be responsible for breaking the generational gardener’s chain.

Then I discovered something.  These two little creatures, under the watchful eye & patient teachings of my parents are actually fantastic little gardeners – with fully developed “Green Thumbs”.

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Yesterday after work I was escorted outside to see their garden and I was blow away.  The pumpkins Audrey had started from seed in our kitchen window, the watermelon plants & Bethany’s beans are all doing fantastic! (Thanks Mom & Dad for helping care for them too!)  

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Little watermelon

I love watching the pride on their face as they show me their “babies”.  I love seeing how gentle they are, how happy it makes them and how clean my hands get to remain.  

Thanks to some pretty special people I will happily proclaim my thumbs black (from dark chocolate creations of course) and my fridge full of wonderful, home grown goodness!

5 Bad Behaviours – Social Media Style

You know what’s annoying?  Bad manners.  Bad manners are seriously, annoying.  

Actually, let’s be real – they aren’t just annoying they’re infuriating.  Depending on the extend of their “manner deficiency” some people make me wanna punch them – in their face.  Except that, that’s not nice, and it’s kinda bad manners, and I have children to set an example for…so I don’t.

In the past 10 or so years, the introduction of regular social media interaction has taken our lives and how we interact with people by storm.

We can connect, share & engage with each other in ways that didn’t exist before.  Our computers, tablets, & cell phones allow our “voices” to be heard without ever opening our mouths.  Those screens give us a false sense of security to say, share & post things we wouldn’t in “real life”. In short – manners grow wings and fly right, straight out the window!

You see, that security we feel is false.  The things we say, the pictures we post & the actions we have are still shaping the world’s view of us, but now in a more dangerous and cloaked way.

The Internet is like Las Vegas

 

The internet is like Las Vegas – “What happens online, stays online”.  

Which means, nothing you say, nothing you do, nothing you see online will ever really go away.  It is there forever and your lack of manners now, may potentially be spoiling your future.

Employers will Google you, check your Facebook, search your Twitter and if you’re not careful, they may find things that cost you the job.  The same can be said for the people you’re going to date, the in-laws you hope to have (“Sir…may I marry your daughter?”, “Sure Son, right after you explain this picture from 2011…what is that in your hand & who are all those girls?”) and one day even your children’s opinion of you (they will look you up, I promise!).

So, what do you do?  How do you avoid destroying your future?

You pull out some manners, install a little common sense and make better choices.

To help you out, here are the top 5 WORST Social Media Bad Behaviours.  Avoid these things at all costs in an effort to not only preserve your future but to not annoy the living daylights out of your family & friends.

  1. Tasteless Photos: Do not EVER share photos of naked or nearly naked people (you or anyone else) or of doing anything illegal.  Avoid sharing photos of heavy partying (eg. the “Spring Break” photos…), alcohol consumption, the morning after etc. 

    Why: They make you look irresponsible, dangerous, carefree and sometimes down right pervy.   Also, it’s not just family & friends watching your social media.  If you’re involved in illegal activity (STOP IT NOW) the police, FBI and special agencies are watching too.

  2. Complaining: constantly.  Everyone has bad days, & it’s totally OK to share that once in a while.  After all, if you had a really rough day you’d share it with your girlfriends.  However, don’t make every update, post, comment negative, and/or a paragraph long of “oh woe is me”.

    Why: It’s annoying.  Sometimes life is hard but seriously, it doesn’t suck ALL of the time.  At least it shouldn’t, if it does then you need to seriously look at how to change it!  People would stop being your friend in real life if you complained like that all the time & they will “unfriend/unfollow” you on social media too.  Sympathy is not and endless stream, it will run dry!

  3. Bragging: While the polar opposite of complaining, bragging is just about as bad.  Again, share your happy news, give people a chance to celebrate with you – and then stop.  Be especially cautious to not rub other’s faces in whatever it that is making you so happy, particularly if they are struggling in the same area. 

    Why: This is often unintentional but overly sharing great news can make someone feel inferior and you look conceited.  We all run the risk of this in real life too, so just be careful.  Share it but don’t rub it. 

  4. Selfie-ing: The occasional “Hey I got new glasses” or “I lost 25lbs!” is totally acceptable.  However, flooding my Instagram feed with 31 pictures of you with a weird sucked-in-cheeks-kissy-face-lips pose stating “Random no make up #unfilterd” is SO not cool.  In fact it’s lame, I can see your eyeliner & do you really have that halo glow around your head all the time?

    Why: I can’t necessarily say that an overload of selfies is going to cost you a job, but I can say for certainty it can cost you a whole lot respect & friends.  You look conceited, or like you’re fishing for complements and it’s stupid.  You wouldn’t walk up to a group of your friends, flip your hair, pout your lips and sadly say “I’m feeling positively disgusting today” *dramatic pause*, would you?  Probably not, so don’t do it online.  I have unfollowed many who seem to have selfie-itis.  

  5. Over Sharing: I do NOT need to know the color of your daughter’s poop, the smell of your husband’s shoes or the way you do your “personal grooming”.  I don’t want see a photo of your inner thigh gap, the nasty mole on your back or snot running down your toddler’s face.  Don’t detail the struggles in your marriage, things that will embarrass your children later or how you really feel about Aunt Ida.

    Why: Really?  I have to explain it? Ok.  It’s like this – nobody wants to know & most people don’t care. It also falls under disaster waiting to happen. It appears that you don’t have good discression and that makes an employer nervous.
     
    Would you sit in a job interview and show the guy how your butt now has the “smile crease” thanks to all those squats?  Probably not (and if you would, then we can’t be friends) but if you put it out there, he may find it. Besides, cousin Cody let Aunt Ida use his Facebook this morning and you’re now seriously screwed out of your Christmas duck socks.  It’s also often kinda gross, so please – just don’t.

  6. Fishing: I know I said 5 but I just couldn’t leave this one out.  It may be a little redundant but it is seriously one of the most annoying.  DON’T USE SOCIAL MEDIA to fish for complements.  Don’t fish for complements in real life.  It’s lame, makes you look so insecure, and weak.  We all have our insecurities but we need to be careful how we let them control us.  Just like you shouldn’t brag don’t berate yourself either – you are worth WAY more than the horrible things you say to yourself.  
    And, if you’re really having a rough day why not try something new – tell the truth.   If you can’t find anything positive to say to yourself, don’t post a stupid selfie, maybe admit that you need a few words of affirmation and see what happens.

There are more, I could go on but I won’t.  

Instead, I’d love to know what social media bad habits totally drive you cra-ZY? 

Exciting Announcement #1 (Hint: There’s FREE STUFF!)

Brownie Bites

3 years ago Baking Life Healthy launched.  My passion for baking, for real ingredients and for good food turned into a business and overnight I was bombarded with customers.  It was amazing, it was fun and it was more than I’d ever thought possible.

It was also poorly planned, I was unorganized, I didn’t take a look at my pricing well and before I knew it I was drowning.  I loved the business, I loved the customers & I loved being able to sell people food they could have confidence in (where they could read & recognize every. single. ingredient). What I didn’t love was how tired I was, how my family was suffering and how I could see no way of making it better, of streamlining what I was doing while still maintaining the quality.

So, with a sad heart, just over a year after it began, Baking Life Healthy came to a close.  I had sad customers, I had my own sad heart but I also knew it wasn’t over yet.  

I’ve continued to bake these past few years, feeding my family and often times anyone close enough to take a “treat bag” home with them.  Corey’s employees & friends have sampled many a trial day recipe and I’ve kept at it.  

My passions have evolved over the years, long gone are the days of lethargy and poor eating choices.  I’ve really come to love being active, exercise, nutrition and living life healthy and I’ve taken that passion into my kitchen.  Those passions have allowed me to be a better wife, a better mother and hopefully a better friend.  I can channel my stress, build my energy and feed our bodies in ways I feel good about.

They have also begun taking me on a few new journeys, and I’m getting pretty excited to share them with you!  While I’m not quite ready to share all the info just yet (working on it, I promise I’m workin’ on it!) I do want to share this one because I can.

Ok, and because I’m super pumped, I’ve worked really hard and it’s finally here.  And I suck at keeping non-secret type things a secret because who needs to keep a secret if it isn’t a secret?  That’s like hiking (!) to the top of a mountain and refusing to checkout the amazing view – it doesn’t make sense…and it’s lame.

So, in an effort to not be lame (-er than I can be sometimes, like when I dance) and in response to the many, many requests I received here it is:

I’ve written an e-cookbook!!!!  In particular I took the most popular Baking Life Healthy recipes – mini pizza pretzels, whole wheat bread, brownie bites & graham cracker minis, to name a few, along with some others family favourites, did some perfecting (read: we ate/gave away a lotta stuff), took some photos & voila – Baking Life Healthy: The Secrets Behind the Business e-cookbook!

Well, almost a cookbook.  We are in the finishing stages of editing & reviewing the finer details, all the stuff I need to do before I feel like it’s A-OK to go but it’s almost here.  

In the meantime, I’ve put together something wicked awesome (do people say wicked awesome any more?  probably they don’t but that’s ok, I’m not 20 any more, who cares what people say) to share with you – for FREE!

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I’m giving away a FREE Sneak Peek package which includes – 4 of our most popular recipes from the business & the book, 1 bonus never published recipe, a coupon code & more!  It’s all because I love you, and I want to say thank you.

To all those who supported the business locally, to those who encouraged me online, to the ones who were sad when we closed & asked for recipes, to those who have read our blog, done our recipes & showed us incredible love through so very much – thank you!

Please enjoy these.  There’s no obligation to purchase the full e-cookbook when it officially launches in a few weeks (though I hope, sincerely that you do, because it’s great!), these are straight from my heart, my kitchen to you & to yours.

Thank you again and Happy BAKING

ps. If/when you do make something please share a photo on social media with us!  Use the hashtag #OFSBakes, and/or tag us and we’ll see it.  The whole point of getting a good recipe is taking it on an adventure & making it your own.  I can’t wait to see what you’re going to do with them!

Dirty Little Secrets

Silly Stones

You know what I have?  Secrets.  “Dirty little secrets” that I rarely if ever let anyone see. The things I keep hidden from the outside world, the thoughts I never say (shocker – she does have a filter), the things I try not to let you see and the habits I work to hide.   

Until today.

In an effort to live my life as authentically as possible (which I’ve always tried to do with sincerity & honesty) I’ve decided it’s time to share the things that make me, me.  The quirky, silly, annoying & sometimes even embarrassing parts that make up the whole of me. 

Why?  I guess to encourage others that we’re not alone in our idiosyncrasies.   Social media has made perfection easy to fake and I don’t wanna fake it.  I want to be the true, faulted human God has created me to be, because it’s in acknowledging my failings I can work to be better (or embrace them completely).  

So, deep breath here we go!

DLS #1 – My Kitchen looks like something exploded: when I bake.  No kidding, I do my best to avoid having anyone see what my kitchen looks like when I bake.  Back when Baking Life Healthy was running, I’d keep the front blinds drawn so that customers coming to the door for warm baked goods couldn’t see the catastrophe behind me.

In general it’s a pretty clean place, especially now that we are living in a constant state of Gluten Watch but when it’s time for the magic to happen, all bets are off.  Flour flies, dishes are everywhere and there are always multiple items being constructed & experimented with at the same time.  I mean, if I’m gonna have a mess to clean up anyways, I might as well make it worth the while right?Sweat

DLS #2 – I sweat, uncontrollably: when I workout.  It’s seriously disgusting and there’s not a thing I can do about it.  I’ve got fancy workout gear, I keep the house as cool as possible, I use towels & I drink copious amounts of water.  The only thing I won’t do is reduce the intensity because, dude – if your heart’s not thundering, what’s the point?!

Now I wear deodorant (see DLS#3) but let’s be real that stuff is only meant for under your arms.  I’m pretty sure applying it to my forehead would go against manufacturer’s instructions.  That and I’m guessing nobody’s tested what happens with the aluminum sinking into your brain….(I have no idea if it does, but I wonder)

DLS #3 – If I could afford it I would TOTALLY get Botox: in my armpits! I know, I know weird right?  But not really.  You see I sweat, A LOT and it’s really gross.  I have tried all different antiperspirants/deodorants and while some work better than others, I’ve yet to find one that really does the job.  And I haven’t found ANY that help when I work out (see DLS #2).

It’s not just the sweat either, it’s the smell.  Sweat itself doesn’t smell, but the warm, moist environment is a prime location for bacteria to grow which equates to bacteria stink &  me a nasty, smelly mess.  The other problem is that I really don’t love the idea of putting aluminum on my skin, in my armpits near any breast tissue I may have (HA!), but natural deodorants are completely ineffective.  To date armpit Botox is coming up as a safe alternative to antiperspirants/deodorants.  Since it’s gonna be years before I’ll be able to afford the treatment, I have time to wait and see if it stays that way.  

DLS #4 – Sometimes I go the bathroom not to use it but to: get my children’s attention.  Sadly, this is not a joke.  There have been days when nobody is listening, nothing is getting done and I am getting hoarse from yelling (see DLS #5).  Instead of completely losing my mind or moving out, I just head straight for the nearest toilet.  Within seconds of the “click” from the light switch both my girls are meandering in there.  Then we have a meaningful conversation as I sit on the toilet, lid closed.  It’s stupid that it works, but trust me it works.

(WARNING: Should you begin to employ this method of parenting I strongly suggest you stop hiding in there to eat the chocolate you don’t want to share with them.  IF they find you with it, you’ll never EVER pee alone again.)

DLS #5 – I’m a yeller: and a cryer.  I truly hate this part of me, and it’s something I’m working really, really hard to change.  I hate that my frustration amps up my volume 25 fold in 5.2 seconds.  I hate that post hollering I end up in tears because I didn’t like to holler and I loath that there are times I hear my girls mimic that tone back to me.  

I, like everyone else am a work in progress, and I can truly say it’s getting better.  But, in an effort to be transparent it’s not as better as it could be.  I don’t yell when other people are around (unless they have really, really pushed mama’s buttons) so there’s no reason I need to do when it’s the 3 most precious people in my life.

So there you have it, just a few of the things that I’ve worked so hard to keep hidden way down deep.  I hope my being transparent with you has made you feel better or even laugh a little at my expense.  

What Dirty Little Secret are you hiding from the “real world”?

 

The PAC

Ashley &  I'm terrified to be here

You know what scares me? (Other than Sleeping Beauty…) The PAC, the PAC scares me.

Not our PAC in particular but the whole idea of “The PAC”.  I mean, say it “The PAC” – it totally feels like it should be followed by “DUN, DUN, DUN”.   Every time I hear it, my brain automatically jumps to the image of a pack of hungry wolves and I get all sweaty & stuff.  Any thought I had about attending a function shoots out the window and I quickly begin planning my escape route (eg. the truthful but well timed excuse) (which is often actually legitimate but also extremely convenient).

Now I realize that this is absolutely ridiculous.  I do.  My logical brain can completely understand and comprehend that this is down right absurd.  However, the other part of my brain, the one where my super insecure self lives, knows nothing of logic.   It’s where my self-conscious voice takes root, where the whispers of my faults & failings come from and it’s often the one that grows the loudest.

I’ve spent a lot of time lately working on my fears.  Really, and sincerely trying to face head on the things I’m afraid of in hopes of one day achieving self confidence, actually achieving confidence in anything at all would be nice.  In the midst of all of those things resides The PAC or rather The PAC meetings.

My rational self sees the good of The PAC (seriously guys, DUN, DUN, DUN) the things they do at the school, in particular the things The PAC board members do at our school are amazing.  They organize events, work on hot lunch, spend time there before and after school.  And while yes, they’re supporting their kids they are also supporting everyone else’s kids – my kids.

I am thankful for those things, for those hours, for that heart.  I have on occasion even interacted with one of them, in person or online and they’ve been pleasant, sweet and helpful.  Apart, they all seem like stand up women and I take my hat off to them.

So what’s my problem?

My problem is the idea of them all together.  Some how it takes me back to my high school days, and the “In-Crowd” mentality.  Just thinking about it I quickly start slipping back into my old self.  The one who hid behind books, had 42 pens, 6 different post-it notes and was completely incapable of making eye contact.  I hear whispers of “What if they don’t like me?”, “What if I sound stupid?”, “I don’t have anything of value to add” and ultimately “I’m not important enough to go – I don’t belong”.

That entire scene plays out in my living room as I read the monthly newsletter & see The PAC meeting on the calendar.

On paper screen it looks absolutely ridiculous – and yet it’s true.  It is how I feel and I am going to learn to make a change.

The school year is almost out but I am seriously going to work on these issues over the summer.  I’m not exactly sure how I plan to do that yet, but I’m going to try.  I need to get over my fear of The PAC and get involved there.  Those meetings contain important information, those people are of great value and I need to be up to date on what’s happening too.  I may even try to get involved in hot lunch, so that a day can come where Audrey will be safe to receive hot lunch too.

Am I alone in this?  Anyone else have issues with the idea of The PAC or other social group settings?  Any tips or advice for this nervous ninny?  I’ll take whatever you’ve got to offer – leave a comment (or if they’re not working because there is a glitch I can’t seem to fix!), then comment on the Facebook status (HERE) sharing this post.  I need you, and ALL you have to say & share!

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal “Comfort” Cookies – The Recipe

There’s nothing better on a cold, rainy afternoon than a warm, gooey chocolate chip oatmeal, a cozy blanket & a cup of tea.  I don’t know exactly what it is, but this magical combination seems to soothe any bad mood and almost instantly takes me back to being a little girl.

Over my married life I have experimented with many, many chocolate chip oatmeal cookie recipes.  I’ve tried Company’s Coming, Martha Stewart, Food.com, magazine recipes and about a dozen others in between.  They were mostly good recipes (except for the one that I accidentally tripled the baking soda…it was the polar opposite of good) but none of them were quite right.  

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Corey is a cookie “monster” (much like he’s an ice-cream connoisseur) and I was desperate to find the recipe that would be it, the one.  I wanted it to be perfect (because striving for perfection, while illusive and unattainable will always me happy) and I was determined it had to be possible. 

So I did what I always do – I played.   A little from this recipe, a little from that, throw things in here and something else there, scribbling down the changes on an old envelope as I went.  

It took a little time but a few years ago it happened, I finally achieved the cookie that gave Corey “the face”.  You know “The Face”, I bet you even make it but just in case you don’t it looks something like this…

They walk into your kitchen and take a HUGE breath, “Mmmmm something smells good” (which is code for GIVE ME A COOKIE), you hand over a warm from the oven cookie and wait – there’s a slow bite, the eyes close 3/4 of the way as they chew and a little smile starts to creep up the sides of their mouth – it’s THE FACE.  Then 3 seconds later they swallow, devour the rest of the cookie and try to be stealth as they steel 3 more.

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These cookies elicited that exact reaction and have been a hit ever since.  They were in the top 5 most popular items at Baking Life Healthy when we were in business and are still the most requested food from any guest coming to visit. 

This recipe is simple, it’s versatile (but only if you need to change it, I’d say they’re perfect as they are) and it’s delicious.  So from our house to yours, I hope you makes these and enjoy a warm bite Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Comfort!

If you make any of our recipes we’d LOVE to see them! Send us a photo of your creation on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook using the hashtag #ofsbakes

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Comfort Cookies
A warm chocolate chip oatmeal cookie that offers the comforts of home with the memories of childhood.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 Cup Butter, softened to room temperature
  2. 1 1/4 Cups Brown Sugar
  3. 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
  4. 2 Eggs
  5. 2 TBSP Coconut Milk* (can sub other milk of choice)
  6. 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  7. 1 tsp Baking Soda
  8. 1/2 tsp Salt
  9. 1/2 - 1 tsp Cinnamon (I never really measure, just shake away)
  10. 1 Cup All Purpose Flour (preferably unbleached)
  11. 3/4 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
  12. 2 Cups Quick Oats
  13. 1/2 Cup Rolled Oats
  14. 1 Cup Milk Chocolate Chips
  15. 1 Cup Dark Chocolate Chips
Instructions
  1. Pre-Heat Oven to 375°F
  2. In a large bowl or using a mixer beat together butter & both sugars until fluffy & light in color
  3. Beat in eggs one at a time until incorporated, then add vanilla and milk
  4. Add baking soda, salt & cinnamon to mixer and allow to mix briefly
  5. Gradually add in both flours and mix until combined
  6. Add oats, turn on mixer for a few seconds then add chocolate chips and allow to mix until well combined
  7. Place mixture in the fridge for approx 10 minutes to chill
  8. Measure out cookies onto cookie sheets leaving approx 2" between each cookie (we make smaller cookies at about 2 teaspoons each in size and get just over 60 cookies)
  9. Bake for 9-13 minutes until lightly golden brown. For perfectly chewy cookies remove when centers look slightly damp but NOT gooey
  10. Let cool on pan for 5 minutes then transfer to cooling rack
  11. Store well in an airtight container or in the freezer
Notes
  1. * We use the coconut milk found in the refrigerator section NOT the canned milk
  2. Rolled oats give a chewier cookie while quick oats give a fluffier one. Feel free to use what you have and adjust it according to your preference.
  3. Can sub 1/2 a cup of the chocolate chips for raisins if desired.
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Finding Grace in Small Things #18

Sometimes, choosing to focus on the grace in my days is hard.  Sometimes, I’m don’t want to look for that grace because it takes work, and wallowing in self pity is easier.  Other times, like the past few weeks the hard keeps building pressure and I find myself desperately clinging to each of the tiny bits of grace I can find.

We are currently dealing with more health struggles for our Audrey, causing us great concern and cancelled weekend plans.  There also some big changes pending in our future and friends/family who have their own hard going on that affect us.  It’s all stuff that can weigh me down but today in an effort to keep my eyes on grace I don’t want to write a post, spewing it all out.    

Instead, here is my grace:

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Family & Fish – Corey’s Dad dropped us off some beautiful fresh, ocean caught cod & halibut this past week.  It was so kind of him, but it was in whole and, as non-fish eaters we had no idea what to do with it.  My Dad re-arranged his evening plans to run over and help Corey cut & package it all.  The kids were thrilled to have an evening with Papa & I was thrilled to not have to touch that sliminess myself have the help!

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 Girls Days – Due to all that’s happening with Audrey’s health our spring break plans were all cancelled.  She wasn’t well enough to travel, and on the day that we’d planned to spend out exploring with my mom she wasn’t even well enough to leave the house.  Instead, my Mom came over to hang out with us.  

A day that had started out disappointing because plans had changed again, turned into a wonderful day.  We cuddled, watched movies, laughed, colored and tried on my wedding dress.  It was exactly what we needed!

 

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Silk Tie-dyed Easter Eggs: I saw this tutorial a few years ago over on MommyKnows and vowed one day we’d do it.  This year we did, and they turned out beautiful!  We ate the last one this week and I was a little sad to see them go.  We will definitely be going this again next year – thanks Kim!

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This love: I can’t put into words how much I love the way these two love each other.  They can fight (and play) with the best of ’em but when someone’s not feeling well, has had a bad day or is just down, the other one is right there to “fix it”. 

 

Grace 18 -5

 

Old Spice Advertising:  Their commercials/ads are ridiculous, lame and yet somehow completely genius.  I actually let out a snort & almost spat out my tea in the drugstore when I saw this.  Everyone could stand to believe a little more in their “Smellfs”…ya know?  Also, “I’m on a horse”

Here’s to grace, God’s beautiful Grace hidden all through every day life.

Grace in Small Things is a social network created by Schmutzie to wage a war against imbitterment!  Check out my first post here.

 

Dads Put Down your Shotgun & Hold Out Your Hand

Walk with me Daddy

Over the years, on this journey of raising daughters we’ve done a lot of learning.  Starting with “everything you thought you knew, you didn’t” and ending with…HA, I’m funny, like learning ever ends!  We’ve had best laid plans go straight to hell and have had to learn to adjust to surprises along the way.  Many of the things we thought we’d do – we haven’t, the things we thought would work – didn’t and things we thought were ridiculous – worked like magic.

By far, one of the most powerful discoveries we’ve made is that we aren’t actually responsible for the actions of our children. You can’t make them eat their peas (seriously, you can jam those suckers in there but they can spew them out just as fast!), you can give consequences for bad behaviour but you can’t stop it.  You can teach them the difference between wrong & right but you can’t make them do the right thing.  You can love them completely but you can’t protect them from everything.  Trust me, you can try until you feel like you might physically die but you can’t stop all of the hurt, all of the time.

God has given us these precious children with a responsibility to guide, educate, love & encourage them as they are becoming the people He wants them to be.  We are shaping their futures with who we are and we need to do it so carefully. 

As mothers of daughters we know the power of our words.  We’ve been warned to keep negative self talk silenced because it will become our daughters’ inner voice.  We don’t let them hear us call ourselves ugly or pick at our “fat”, we do our best to shelter them from our worst so they can become their best.

The thing is, I don’t feel like fathers are given the same message.  You can buy DADD shirts – “Dads against Daughters Dating”, sideways comments of “oh, she’s not going to date until she’s 30″, or “no daughter of mine’s gonna date” easily slip from their lips and the jokes of dads wielding shotguns are endless. 

It’s all done in fun, in that twisted way that guys use to show a female that they love her but it’s destructive.   The message that our daughters get is completely the opposite of what they need.  These words tell them men are bad, & dating is wrong.

The reality is our girls will one day become women, ones who will want a partner, want children, want someone to spend their lives with and deep down we want them for them.  They deserve to be loved, cherished, respected, protected and guided by their mate, but if we don’t tell them that who will?  

In a world where female sexuality is being exploited our girls need more love, guidance and support from their fathers than ever.  They need to be shown that their worth extends past the size of their clothes, or their willingness to take them off.  As they learn from us that being confident and self sufficient is strong, they also need to learn that asking for help, leaning into someone else’s strength doesn’t make them weak.

Dads, right now you are the man in her life.  You are her world, the strongest, smartest, funniest man she’s ever known and she adores you.  Take this time, while she’s wrapping her self tighter around your finger to wrap yourself even tighter around her heart.  

Instead of telling her tales of how your going to pull out your shot gun the first time a boy comes over, tell a different story.  Tell her how you can’t wait to meet him, to talk with this boy who’s caught her eye.  Remind her that you expect great things from him and she should too, if he’d like the gift of dating your little girl.

Rather than being against her dating, be involved in her selection.  As she grows teach her, her value in the world and what it feels like to be special to a man.  Open her door, pull out her chair, complement her, laugh with her, dry her tears and encourage her heart.  Tell her how you know that the right man for her will respect her, will listen when she’s talking and will look in her eyes when he speaks.  

She may have to wait to a certain age to be allowed to date, but remind her that in those years leading up to “dating” she has the opportunity to get to know these boys truly.  Invite them into your home, let them be her friends and become theirs.   Those boys who are friends may never become her dates but they will become your eyes and her guardians.  If they do become her date, you’ll be so glad to have taken those years to get to know the men they’re becoming.

Dads these sweet creatures that you call your little girl need you, in a way so much bigger than kissing “boo-boos” and killing spiders.  They need your help to determine their future, and shape their hearts, it’s serious business and I’m begging you to treat it that way.

So, next time your little girl says to you “Daddy, Aaron at school is sooooo cute, I have a HUGE crush on him” bite back the urge to crack a joke, bury that cringe deep inside and hug your girl.  Put down that shotgun, stretch out your hand and say, “Oh honey that’s great, I can’t wait to meet him.”

Gluten Free Animal Crackers Recipe

I’ve always done a lot of baking, a lot of cooking, spending hours in my kitchen.  It’s my happy place, it’s my “thing” and it’s what keeps my family happy.   I love the challenge of trying new recipes and experimenting with new ingredients.  There’s always been such victory in the successes and even some laughter in the flops (because there’s always gonna be flops).

Learning to adjust to gluten free cooking has taken the baking time to a whole new level.  Instead of a few hours in my kitchen, I’m spending full days.  There have been many great successes, more than the failures but man, have there been some failures!  (One day I’ll share them all – then we can laugh, and duck the flying bagel “pucks” together!)

This last week I’ve had 4 really excellent and exciting successes:
– Gluten Free Raspberry Scones
– Gluten Free Animal Crackers
– Gluten Free Oat Spiced Muffins
– Gluten Free Fudgy Brownies!

Gluten Free Animal Cracker Recipe

Gluten Free Animal Cracker Recipe

 

They’re not just recipes that turned out, but ones that I created that turned out and I’m pretty thrilled to share them with you!  Not all of the things I try turn out so when they do, when all the reading, trying & studying finally pays off I get a little worked up.  Think happy dance in the kitchen, complete with clapping worked up!

This kind of excitement leads to me taking many photos and sharing them on Instagram & Facebook, because…well I want to share them with you all.  That and because if I posted them all over my actual walls that would be weird.

Anyways, this sharing has lead to requests for recipes, and I’m more than happy to oblige.

Tonight I’m starting with the Gluten Free Animal Crackers.  These delicious little critters turned out so yummy, light, buttery and crispy.  The girls love them and they’re great for school snacks.   They work great as written, but with chocolate they’re even better!  I also think crushed up they’d make an excellent cheesecake crust. 

If you try them please let me know.  Leave a comment, send us an email, or share on social media – just please make sure you use the hashtag #OFSBakes so I can find them!

Gluten Free Animal Crackers
Butter, light & crisp these little crackers taste exactly like animal crackers should!
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Ingredients
  1. 1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
  2. 3 TBSP Honey
  3. 3/4 Cup Butter, softened
  4. 1/2 tsp Salt
  5. 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  6. 1 tsp Vanilla
  7. 1 1/2 Cups of Gluten Free All Purpose flour (I used our GF Light Blend)
  8. 1 Cup Oat Flour (make sure it's wheat free!)
Instructions
  1. Cream together sugar, honey & butter until light & fluffy.
  2. Add vanilla
  3. Sift together both flours, salt & baking soda and add to the mixture
  4. Once your mixture has come together into a dough, tip out onto plastic wrap, shape into a disk and place in the fridge for an hour or the freezer for 15 minutes.
  5. Divide into quarters and roll out between parchment paper, then cut into desired shapes.
  6. NOTE: I found that placing the rolled/cut pieces back in the freezer for 2 minutes made transferring the shapes to the cookie sheet easier.
  7. Transfer to parchment lined cookie sheets, they don't expand much so they can be place close together
  8. Bake for 9-12 minutes or until the edges are lightly golden brown. BE CAREFUL these will go from golden to really dark very quickly. Keep an eye on them.
  9. Remove from baking sheet, let cool a few minutes and enjoy
  10. Store in an air tight container
  11. These are delicious on their own but can be topped with chocolate for added decadence!
Our Family Stone http://www.ourfamilystone.org/

 

Finding Grace in Small Things – The Musical Edition

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I truly believe there is nothing in life that can’t be soothed, celebrated or healed by music.  Crying babies, potty trained toddlers, celebrating graduates & googly eyed newlyweds all find exactly what they need to say, to feel in the lyrics of a song.  The melodies have the ability to lift our spirits, push us through cleaning the toilets (oh ya they do!) and allow us the tears we’ve held in for so long.

Songs, and the people who write them also give us permission to feel what we feel, to give us hope when all seems lost and to say the words we couldn’t manage to say. 

For me, this past week in particular that music has helped me shift my focus & my attitude.  I have felt His grace, His sweet, beautiful grace in each of these songs this week and I hope you will too…

5. The Sun is Rising: Britt Nicole

I love my early mornings.  I’m up each day, long before the sun comes up, sweating like it’s the Sahara desert.  My workouts have me facing one of our big living room windows, giving me the great pleasure of seeing the beauty in those first few rays of light.  There are rainy days, gloomy dreary days, and clear bright ones but one thing never changes – the darkness slowly fades and light, of all colors and illuminations always comes.

4. Life is a Highway: Rascal Flatts

No joke, this song is the one that put our girls to sleep as infants.  No soothing lullabies would work when the “witching hour” would come and Bethany would scream from 7-8pm.  However, crank this tune and she’d be down and out for the count within 5 minutes.  2 years later it worked wonders on Audrey and to this day I can’t help but feel peace and joy when I hear the tune.

3. We Believe: Newsboys

We believe, without a shadow of a doubt or a moment of hesitation – we believe!

2. God’s Not Dead: Newsboys

Again, we believe.  Two years ago, in the midst of another really trying time for us I woke up from a deep sleep in the middle of the night, sat straight up in bed and began belting out “God’s not dead He’s surely alive…”.  Thankfully Corey slept right through (it’s a man thing) but I was impacted deeply – my God was reminding me He was roaring on our behalf.  I began playing the song over and over, and it quickly became one of the girls’ favourites.  They still one a regular basis belt it out along with me.

Yesterday I put it on while we worked away on some chores and when it finished I turned to Bethany and said, “Hey B, did you know?  God’s Not Dead!”, “Ya, I know.”  “How do you know?” I asked – “Because Mom, I’m alive, He made me.  How could He be dead?!”

 

1. Not for a Moment: Meredith Andrews

Not for a moment, not a single moment on this journey of our lives has God walked away from us.  Whether you choose to know Him and talk with His is up to you, but I promise, not any where you go will you be alone.  I know I’m not, and even in all that is dark I have the sweet, beautiful reassurance that He hasn’t left me.  Not even once…not for a moment.

 

Grace in Small Things is a social network created by Schmutzie to wage a war against imbitterment!  Check out my first post here.