Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Hope for Haiti and For Me

It has been two weeks since the ground began to shake in Haiti.  My family and I have watched the pictures flood our TV set,  death and destruction that I have trouble comprehending.  We have read first hand accounts of people who were on the ground when it happened, we have made and help collect donations, we have followed the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief reports as they have worked in the capital, we watched the telethons, we have had conversations about what is  happening with the orphans and we have prayed and prayed.  Throughout each day, there have been many times and moments, when God has turned my attention once again back to this nation and it's people.  A nation and a people that I did not know much about until disaster struck.  My heart aches.  My eyes continue to well with tears at strange moments.  At times I admit it has become too much.  Too many visuals, too many broken lives, too many children without parents and too much darkness.  But today I read a story and then another and another that rang with true hope.

My friend Leeann, was scheduled to leave on mission trip to Haiti for five months in early February.  The airlines have just announced that all commercial flights are on hold until at least February 18th but God has a plan and He was already putting it into motion before the earth began to shake.  I read LeeAnn's blog this morning.  It was great to be reminded that God is always working.  God is always working everywhere and we can trust Him.  He is working here for His people in Haiti and He is working in Haiti for His people here.  His all encompassing love astounds me again and again.  It is wonderful to read about the way that He has been stirring in Leeann's heart and prompting her to obedience.  It is marvelous to read about her love for children that she has not yet met.  It was a great way to start my morning.  I would encourage you to start following her journey as she attempts to live out in Haiti what she has learned about Christ.

While I was on Leeann's blog I decided to read some blogs of the people that she is going to be with at Mission of Hope.  One of those blogs is Embracing Hope written by Diana Wiebe.  She is working as a teacher for the children of a couple of families who felt God's call to help with an orphanage and a hospital at the Mission of Hope for Haiti.  She has been there since the fall of 2008.  Her blog is not only encouraging but awe inspiring.  Leeann will be working with Diana and assisting her in teaching the children.  As I read her post called The Loveliest Sound, I was flooded with my own praise for my God that continues to overwhelm me with the way that He shows himself through His people.  I want to encourage you to read this post about some of the Haitian people's response to the circumstances.  It was a good reminder for me.

So there it was after days of feeling the heaviness of this sea of despair I was reminded to fix my eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:8).  God has not abandoned Haiti or it's people.  God is right there in the thick of it and His light is throwing back the darkness.

This morning was also a reminder that I need to be vigilant in the plan that He has for me.  There are people that He is calling to Haiti like LeeAnn, Diana and others.  And maybe He is starting to work in my heart to go but He already has me going places for Him today.  Right here, in my home with my kids, with my husband, with my neighbours, with my friends and with the people that I meet as I live my life in Milton.   Today,  He will set in my path and in yours,  lives that need to hear about and see His true hope in action.  Today, we will all have an opportunity to exalt His Name by the way we treat those around us.   Think about it, today is full of astonishing possibilities.  Lives that you know could be changed today.   I was overwhelmed just thinking about it.  I wanted to get going but these are tasks that cannot even begin to be accomplished without Him.  So I started my day today with Psalm 25:3-5 as my prayer.

Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths;
guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.

May this be my prayer and my praise everyday.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Free Recipe Friday - Homemade Pizza with Whole Wheat & Multi-Grain Crust

We have started a new tradition in our house.  We have declared Friday night homemade pizza and movie night.  We make the pizza together and everyone gets to pick their own toppings. This allows for some healthier choices than store bought pizza and homemade is a better choice for the budget.  

Whole Wheat and Multi-Grain Pizza Dough

1 teaspoon honey
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups multi-grain flour
In a large bowl or in the bowl of your heavy duty mixer, dissolve the honey in warm water. Sprinkle yeast over the top, and let stand for about 10 minutes, until foamy.

Stir the olive oil into the yeast mixture, then mix in the whole wheat flour and the multi-grain flour until dough starts to come together. If you don't have a large mixer, tip dough out onto a surface floured with more multi-grain flour, and knead until all of the flour has been absorbed, and the ball of dough becomes smooth, about 10 minutes. If you have a mixer put in your dough hook and knead on speed 2 for 9-10 minutes.  Once finished place dough in an oiled bowl, and turn to coat the surface. Cover loosely with a towel, and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes to an hour.

When the dough is doubled, tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and divide into 2 pieces for 2 thin crusts, or leave whole to make one thick crust. Form into a tight ball(s). Let rise for another 45 minutes, until doubled.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Roll a ball of dough with a rolling pin until it will not stretch any further. Mine stretches to cover an oiled cookie sheet.  I am able to make two large cookie baking sheet pizzas out of this recipe. 

I pre-bake my crusts for about 5 minutes before I put any pizza sauce or toppings on it.

Once you have your pizzas dressed as you would like them Bake for 10 minutes ( for 2 thin pizzas or 15 minutes (for 1 thick crust) in the preheated oven, or until the crust is crisp and golden at the edges, and cheese is melted on the top.
Note:  We have been trying to cut the salt and sugar in our diet and so I make the following homemade pizza sauce.

Healthy Pizza Sauce

1 can of Tomato Paste (5.5 fl oz with no salt added)
2 teaspoons of minced dried onion flakes
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
1 teaspoon of dried basil
1 tablespoon of ground flax seed (great source of Omega-3)
1 tablespoon of parmesan cheese

approx 1/8 - 1/4 cup warm water (you add until desired consistency for sauce)

In a bowl add all ingredients except water.  Mix well.  Then add water until you reach your desired consistency.  We like ours a bit thick but this recipe makes enough pizza sauce for our two baking sheet size pizza crusts from above.

Note #2:  Since we have been trying to make healthy changes to our diet.  I have been cutting up fresh baby spinach and putting it on top of the sauce BEFORE I put the cheese on.  The kids have not complained yet!  They get to choose what they would like on their pizza but I intentionally put out more veggies than meat and I have only been offering ham the last couple of weeks.  Every little bit helps!  Enjoy!

Friday, 15 January 2010

Free Recipe Friday - For the Birds!

Just before Christmas, little Miss Trinity Joy came to me worried about her bird friends in our backyard and how they would find food with it covered in snow.  So we decided to make them a fun little treat of edible garland.

All you need for this one is:
Bird Seed
Peanut Butter
An orange
An apple
String or yarn
a cookie cutter

Trinity cut shapes out of bread with our cookie cutter, coated the shapes with peanut butter and then pressed them in a bowl of bird seed until they were covered.  Then I sliced the orange and the apple into thick slices and she strung our yarn through the shapes and slices.  This is super activity for young kids because they can do quite a bit themselves.  We then took our garland and hung it in our backyard and waited for our feather friends to find it. 

Tip:  As Trinity made the bird seed shapes I stuck them in the freezer.  They are easier to string if they are a little hard.

This garland works best in cold weather.  We did have a little problem a week after we hung our garland because the weather warmed up and it rained really hard on Christmas.  It soaked our bread and made it too heavy and the shapes fell off the string but our dogs liked the treat so at least someone was happy.  The good news is that these are really easy to make so it is no problem to make another garland if unexpected rain hits your area when you should have snow!


Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Lists, Lists and More lists!

So I have a confession to make.  I love lists.  I REALLY love lists.  I love things to do lists, grocery lists, home school lists, book lists, chore lists, travel lists and scheduling lists.  But what I love even more than my lists is crossing things off my list.  I have been known to put my morning cup of coffee on my list just so that I can cross it off!  Lists keep me organized...well semi-organized anyway.  I like lists because they give me a sense of direction of what needs to be done.  I like to cross things off my lists because it gives me a sense of accomplishment.  One of the things that I love about my Mac is that I can colour code our schedules and my lists on my ical.  For a list junkie like me, this is the ultimate.

In thinking about this new year, I was thinking about getting reorganized,  especially organizing my everyday chores and home schooling.  So I thought I would share some sites that have given me inspiration, some of the things that work for me and the things that I am hoping to redesign, rework and renew.   Some of my checklists and charts I have designed on my computer and some I have gotten from others on the net.  So over the next few posts I will try to share a few of them.

One of the largest and hardest jobs that I have is grocery shopping and meal prep.  I plan all of lunches and my dinners a week at a time.  I usually make my grocery list and my meal plan for the week at the same time.  For over year now I have used the pre-printed grocery list that I found on Donna Young's website.  She has a great site with lots of great lists but this link will take you to a few of her different grocery lists and a meal planner menu.  I post her grocery list on my fridge so if we run out of something then I can easily add it while I am thinking about it.

Donna Young's Grocery List

Another great grocery list can be found at the website The Ultimatest Grocery List  the great thing about this site is that they also post a vegetarian grocery list which would be really helpful for those who don't like meat.

Some good meal planning sites with meal planning lists can be found at:
Organized home

I made up my own Weekly Meal Planner that is customized for our family.  In this house everyone gets their own breakfast in the morning so I really just need to plan lunches and dinners.  I have tried plans that allow you to plan up to a month at a time but because of scheduling this doesn't work for me.  When I planning for the week I also look at our calender to see what we have on each day. This lets me know if I have a lot of time, a little time or no time to cook.  I have a list at the side where I can remind myself of things I need or any other notes.  At the bottom of each day I where I can circle if the meal is in our freezer and if I need to defrost it.  This works for me so I don't forget.  Unfortunately, I still have not been able to figure out how to get this PDF file on my blog so that you could easily download it. The photo is the best I could do but if you would like a copy I would happy to send it to you.  Or feel free to let this one inspire you to create your own that will work for your family.

Remember to check back this Friday for my free recipe!  Have a great week!

Friday, 8 January 2010

Free Recipe Friday - Herb & Parmesean Cheese Whole Wheat Bread

I got something very exciting for Christmas.  It was a heavy duty mixer and I am in love  (Thanks mom and dad!).  I have always wanted to make our own bread and so since Christmas, I have been trying out different recipes on our family.  I have to say my first couple of attempts were not the best.  We actually could have used the loafs as weapons because they we so hard but they were not much use as bread!   Since then I have learned that yeast has an expiry date (who knew?!?) so make sure you check yours before you use it.   I  also learned that whole wheat bread likes warm but not hot places to rise.  So now that I have figured all that out, I thought I would share what I have learned with you.  As I often do I tried this bread recipe out last night on our worship team.  There where lots of good comments as soon as people walked in the door as the bread had just come out of the oven and it made our house smell great!  It was still warm when we served it with some homemade soups. 

I highly recommend sharing this bread with others.  We do this every week and then we all study scripture together.  Honestly, even though there are lots of people in our house and at times it can get a bit crazy I love that we share a meal together.  Hospitality doesn't have to be fancy or perfect.  You don't have to Martha.  The point is spending time and sharing your life with others.  So I challenge you to make a date with some friends this week.  Have them over, don't spend your time in the kitchen making a gourmet meal, spend it with them and share about your life.  You may be surprised at the wonderful and spiritually important conversations that you have.  

Herb & Parmesan Cheese Whole Wheat Bread

1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/3 cup of honey
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 Tablespoon of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon fresh parsley
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese
2 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour or multigrain flour
2 1/2 cups of white flour
2 1/2 cups of warm water
1 1/2 Tablespoons of instant (quick rise) yeast

1 cup additional whole wheat flour,  to add as needed
extra Parmesan cheese and herbs for top of bread

Place the first 13 ingredients into your heavy duty mixer in the order listed.  Knead with your dough hook.  My machine recommends on speed 2.  Quickly add the additional flour in until the dough pulls away from the sides of the dough.  Knead for 9 minutes.  Remove your dough out of your mixer bowl and divide into two loaves.  Oil 2 loaf pans and then place your dough in each pan to rise.  Let rise about 40-45 minutes or until they double in size.  I place plastic wrap over each of my loaf pans and put them under the light that is over my stove.  My mom says you can place them in your oven and turn on your oven light.  Any warm (but not hot) place will do. 

When your bread has finished rising, turn oven on to 350 degrees.  Add additional Parmesan cheese and herbs on the top of each loaf.   Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the tops of your bread are brown and sound hollow when tapped.  Remove from pans and let cool completely before storing.  Since there are no preservatives in this bread you will probably need to eat it the same day or the next day.  It doesn't last long in my house so I never have to worry.  It freezes well if you want to make it ahead.

Notes: In making this recipe I have used both whole wheat flour and a multigrain bread flour.  This picture of the herb bread has the multigrain flour.  The loaf is also a little small as I did not divide them evenly and we ate the large one before I could get a photo!   The first photo is just plain whole wheat bread which is also very yummy.  If you would like to make just plain whole wheat bread then omit the parmesan cheese, herbs and garlic.  If you don't have honey you can use sugar and I used fresh herbs but if you don't have any I am sure that you can use dried.

Enjoy!  Check back next week as I introduce some new posts!

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Happy New Year!

It is hard to believe it is really 2010 and another decade has come and gone.  I will be getting myself organized and begin my regular posts this week with Free Recipe Friday and Monday I will announce what other themes or days I will be posting.  For those of you that read this blog regularly thanks so much and I am looking forward to seeing what God has in store for 2010.