Betwixt and Between

I was asked to read the book Between God and Green: How Evangelicals are Cultivating a Middle Ground on Climate Change by Katharine K. Wilkinson for an article for Moms Clean Air Force. I jumped at the chance because a book written by someone that encourages Christians to get involved in caring for the planet is something I want to read for myself. Although not currently part of an evangelical church, I grew up in them and went to a very outspokenly conservative University. Although my parents did not raise me to be an environmentalist, my mother was a Biologist and certainly taught me to be amazed by the world around me. I’ve always been one of those people in awe of Nature and the power therein. Science makes me giddy and my poor students that have had to listen to talk for any length of time can certainly vouch for a more than appropriate infatuation with the water cycle.

In college, I was introduced to  a wonderful group of Biologists within the department who cared about the environment. My Ecology professor, Dr. Korstad,  instilled a sense of responsibility for Creation in my heart and since then, I’ve held the opinion that as a Christian, it’s our job to take the best care of the planet, the environment and all of Creation as we have been charged with responsibility in Genesis.

Over the years, I’ve realized that of all the lessons taught in Sunday School, Creation Care tends to fall to the bottom. And when bringing up the topic with others, regardless of denominational affiliation, it would seem that the emphasis on missions, appropriate hymns and scriptural interpretation wins out over responsibility to Creation. It’s frustrating for me have felt so in sync with some pretty serious evangelicals while in college on this topic only to move home and not be able to find much connection.

I started out reading the book in total awe that I know the people Dr. Wilkinson mentions! Dr. Korstad teaches summer courses at Au Sable Institute! As the book progressed, I found myself wanting to actually have lunch with Dr. Wilkinson and find out how she stays involved. For me, this book encouraged me to continue to be myself… a Christian concerned about Creation Care.

For the rest of my post on Moms Clean Air Force visit their site!

 

After Seven Years

When Matt and I got married, we moved in my furniture… a Pier 1 set I’d had since 7th grade. Matt has hated it since day one. At one point, I thought it would be a good idea to revamp the furniture, so I purchased 10 cans of spray paint and got to work turning the white wicker dressers into brown wicker. Turns out wicker is terribly difficult to spray paint and I’m fairly certain half the neighborhood was high from all the paint fumes. I made an upholstered headboard and we called it a day.

Over the course of the last year, we’ve talking about finding new furniture for our room. I wanted a simple farmhouse style bedroom set. I’ve looked at several Amish builders and in furniture stores, but I just didn’t want to pay their prices. Along the road, I discovered Ana White’s plans and Matt felt like he was up to the task.

Thanks to Pinterest, we picked out a plan we wanted and started looking for new bedding. Then, for Christmas, Matt’s parents took us to an Amish mattress builder and we picked out a fantastic pillow-top mattress… King size. Plans changed once again and I had to purchase all new bedding, but man alive is it nice to have elbow room in bed, even when both kiddos join us for the night.

The project took about 3 weeks time to complete, although once we got down to business (big shout out to the in-laws for helping keep an eye on the kiddos!) we finished all the paint and staining in about 24 hours. I made the decorator pillows, both from patterns. The flower pillow pattern can be found here. It took me almost 3 hours to make… however, very worth it!

The dresser was in the basement of this house when we moved in as part of a 3-piece set used to store my grandmother’s fabrics and sewing nick knacks. We had painted it 2 years ago when we moved in, so the only work left was to sand it roughly and wipe stain over it. All the woodwork did get 2 full coats of polyurethane to protect it.

We got the wood for the headboard from our brother-in-law’s sawmill and it is poplar wood. Both Matt and I are so pleased with how it worked out! The headboard is h-e-a-v-y! We had to ask a friend to come and help Matt carry it up from the basement and bolt it into place on the bed frame as we discovered how wimpy my upper body strength still is 🙂

So here we are… all grown up with actual furniture to prove it. I still need to come up with window treatments and paint the heat registers this spring… and eventually, I hope to figure out how to reupholster a vintage armchair in the corner of the room. The more projects we do, the more we fall in love with diy projects. When Matt and I got married, he didn’t own any tools or posses any building skills beyond putting together pre-fab bookcases. It’s been exciting to watch him learn and grow in talent and confidence in these seven years of marriage.

In the last 4 years, we haven’t really made a huge effort to celebrate our marriage on it’s birthday. So this year, we made up for it with a project that we love and are proud of. And a night away in a Castle. It is amazing what a full night’s sleep can do! The gorgeous furniture and Celtic music playing everywhere reminded us of our honeymoon and it was just the perfect way to celebrate our life together; what it has become and what is in store for the future!

Work in Progress Wednesday

It’s been a while since I posted about my quilting projects. I’ve kind of abandoned my sewing in the last few weeks because Matt and I tackled a project (which I will share later!) and I started Spring Cleaning in this house. I meant to get the cleaning done prior to Easter, but that’s not happening if I want it done right. And I do.

Anyway, I asked a friend’s mother to help me plan a baby quilt and while there, she asked me if I had a quarter inch foot for my sewing machine. Not only did I not have said foot, I did not have an understanding as to why I would need it. Just so you know… I do now. It took me days to piece together the first 15 blocks because I just couldn’t get the seaming right, but once I got my new foot, I whipped through 37 blocks in an afternoon! Amazing what such a seemingly small tool can do!

So here I am… working on putting together the last of the 82 squares. I’d like to finish it soon so I can start laying out the quilt and putting it together. Babies don’t always care how much sewing you have to get done in anticipation of their arrival!

I’m linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced today!  What are you working on this week?

The breakfast experiment

Last week, I sought the wisdom of Facebook and asked with other mothers were feeding their kids in the morning. Breakfast is most definitely my least favorite meal and as a result, Sylvi is the only one who actually eats it most days. Periodically, I’ll get in a breakfast-y mood and start making baked goods or couscous… but it never lasts. Anyway, this week it suddenly hit me that since I’m not a big breakfast eater, I tend to just spend my morning handing out snacks to the kids.

My kids love their carbs (like their mama, of course) and so our snacks are often some form of a cracker or another. The more I thought about it, I realized that when I snack on carbs, not only am I hungry about 10 minutes later, I feel crummy and grouchy because I’m hungry again. But, you see… I can communicate this because I’m an adult and I fully understand my hunger cues. My three and half year old? Not so much. So I’ve committed to making a breakfast daily that incorporates protein in an attempt to see how things go and if it makes any impact our days for the next two weeks.

So here we are on day #3 and I had planned to make cinnamon rolls and eggs, but forgot to start the dough last night. We woke up to find that a leprechaun left us green snot for our holiday. Boo. Anyway, I decided on waffles and since there was a left over sweet potato in the fridge, I made this recipe. I have no idea where the original recipe came from, but my notes have lines all over it, as I adapted it significantly. I just have no self control when it comes to making my own creative mark on a meal, I guess.  Even with the addition of the sweet potato, these waffles are your typical golden color, but they are sweet and fluffy.  Sylvi ate two entire waffles and a piece of bacon!

Orange Sweet Potato Waffles

  • 1 sweet potato, mashed (about 1 cup)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 melted butter
  • 1/2 Tbsp. orange extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Mix the sweet potato, eggs, brown sugar, butter, orange extract and salt together. I find that a hand mixer is very helpful since the sweet potato makes the batter very thick. Sift together the baking powder and flour and alternate adding it and the milk until all ingredients are incorporated. Put a scoop of the batter into each well of your heated waffle iron and cook until golden brown.

To make these waffles even more tasty, melt 2 Tablespoons of butter with 1/2 cup pure maple syrup and the zest of one orange in a small pan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for two minutes, whisking constantly. Then pour the syrup over your warm waffles and listen your family sing your praises! 😉

Creamy Feta Dip

I woke up at 6am today and checked out the window to realize I couldn’t see to even the end of my back yard through the dense fog.  It’s continued all day and all I really want to do is curl up with a book in bed. I should probably start the supper prep soon, but I’m going to push it until the last moment, I think. I was doing so well with meal preparations, too! Planning is the key to us eating well and sometimes, benefits others, too! Yesterday, I made food for a family since the mother is on strict bed rest.  Sloppy joes, sweet potato fries and creamy feta dip.

The feta dip is the reason for this post. I’d been buying a glorious Greek yogurt and feta dip at the grocery until we realized Sylvi liked it and she was having an allergic reaction every time she ate it. And I’m sorry… there is almost nothing worse than having to deny your child food due to an allergy.  Especially when you love it too.  Of course, after looking at the ingredients on the container, I kind of felt I wasn’t going to miss anything… until I remembered how much I really, really liked it.

Thus far, I’ve tried this recipe with sweet potato fries, veggies and crackers. Amazing. Also amazing on a hummus and cucumber sandwich. Or just from a spoon. Ahem. To prove the taste factor, my friend told me that her teenaged son ate half of the dip himself. In my experience, if a teenage boy inhales your food, you may as well stop cooking… you’ve reached your pinnacle.

Creamy Feta Dip

  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese
  • 1/2 Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp. Greek seasoning

Soften the cream cheese until it easily mashes with a spoon…. I typically warm it in the microwave so it’s really soft. Then, place all the ingredients in a food processor and whir until smooth and blended.  You’ll have little bit of Feta still, but it’s primarily smooth.  At this point, test for taste. You may want more seasoning or to thin it out a bit with some milk. I keep mine in the fridge (and it does firm up, by the way) in a glass jar.  I can’t tell you how long it lasts for… I eat it too fast.  But I can tell you this is a staple in our home and it’s something I can safely feed my kids without worry!

Honey Orange Granola and Bars

I think that if you had read my earlier Facebook post, you’d have gotten the idea that my day was going very smoothly. I had high hopes for today, despite being very tired. In the end, my husband walked in the door tonight and didn’t bother to ask what was for supper. Instead he commented on my tired, puffy eyes and asked how soon I wanted to lay down. We wouldn’t have starved for at the very least we could have eaten granola bars for supper.

The amount of money I spend each month on granola bars is laughable. Shameful, even. But I tell you, for whatever reason, despite trying dozens of recipes and even finding a few that I loved, my children would not eat my homemade creations. Now I will admit that Liam still turned his picky 3 and a half year old nose up at these, but he’s been in a foul mood all day.  Sylvi couldn’t shove hers in her mouth fast enough. What’s more, the husband gave these guys a firm stamp of approval.

I made a quick batch of granola first.

  • 2 cups of gluten free oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. melted butter
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. orange extract
  • orange zest (optional)

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.  Melt the butter and mix in the honey, orange extract and any zest you choose to add. Mix together the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and a pinch of salt.  Then, pour the honey mixture over the top and toss through the oats.  Line a baking sheet with foil and dump your granola out on it.  Spread the granola out and cook for 10 minutes.  Stir the granola well and cook for an additional 10 minutes.  Recipe makes just over 2 cups of granola, which is the perfect amount for the bars.

Once the granola cooled… and I got my hands out of the pan… seriously.  I couldn’t stop eating the little granola clumps!  Honey and orange with the oats is amazing! Anyway, once the granola cooled, I made it into bars.

  • 1 recipe of granola
  • 2 cups puffed rice cereal
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup mix-ins (chocolate chips, cranberries, raisins, peanuts, etc.)

Mix together the granola and rice cereal.  You can reuse the foil from making the granola, but this is very important: grease the foil before you put the granola mixture on it.  I know there’s butter in the recipe, but it still sticks like the dickens and that’s just not pretty. 🙂  Then, melt the butter in a small pan with the brown sugar and honey.  Bring it to a boil and stir constantly.  The mixture will become caramel colored and bubble constantly, remove it from the heat and very quickly stir it into the dry ingredients. Press the granola into the prepared pan.  My bars were about 10 inches square, so I just molded it so that they were fairly even across the top.  Then, press your toppings into the granola and set aside for 20 minutes while the caramel hardens.

These granola bars and crispy and chewy and just the right amount of sweet.  Store them wrapped tightly for 2 weeks.