Thursday, November 16, 2017

Corn Chowder (dairy free)

 
 Oh fall, I love you.   Really, I do!  In fact, I am having a hard time focusing on this blog post because it just got all dark and overcast and all I want to do is curl up in a ball and go read a book.  Or sleep.  Either one would be nice.   Does anyone else have this problem, or is just me?  I am such a sucker for freshly fallen leaves and my favorite Starbucks latte!

Also, fall makes comfort food sound so appealing.  Comfort food is not usually my go-to choice for eating.  Give me tacos or pasta any day!  Also, having a dairy allergy kind of limits a lot of those comfort food choices.   Sad, huh?  However, one of my favorite soups. . . a recipe from my sweet friend is easily adapted to make it dairy free and it still tastes delicious!

Also, it has bacon.

I mean, dairy free and bacon.

You don't even need to know what it is.  It has bacon in it.  That's enough.

This Corn Chowder is my favorite.  Food also brings great memories. 

My friend and I had our first kids 2 weeks apart.  It was the best thing.  We both decided to stay home with those cute babies of ours.  We joked that some day our kiddos would get married and talked about random craziness.  We also loved getting together for play dates. . . which are way fun when babies aren't old enough to fight with each other!  One day, she made me lunch with her dinner leftovers and it was amazing.  This soup. It provided dinner for her family and a sweet meal with a great friend. 

See great memories. 

This corn chowder is so great, because I can eat it.  The plain almond milk doesn't even change the flavor so the whole family can eat it.  This is a big deal when half your family can't eat dairy. 
 So, first things first, cook up some bacon pieces.  I won't tell if you double the bacon.  It'll be our little secret. 
 Take out some of the bacon and set it aside on a paper towel, so you can sprinkle with bacon before serving.  Add some chopped celery and onions into the bacon and all that beautiful bacon grease. 

  Add in the corn, dairy free butter, and broth.  Give it a little swirl and add the carrots and potatoes. Keep cooking for about 15 minutes.  While that's going, mix some water and flour together into a paste like consistency.  Add it to your almond milk and stir. Keep cooking for 3o minutes or until you are ready to feed your family.
 Kids make great helpers for this kind of meal.  Stirring is fun, I tell them.  Also, don't sweatshirts scream comfort food? 
 Cheese and bacon make great toppers.  There's no such thing as too much bacon. 
Ready to add this to your meal plan?   Also, if you really aren't all about dairy free and you can handle dairy (so jealous right now), just substitute non dairy for their real, milk and cream alternatives.  Easy Peazy!

Also, this recipe is not gluten free. . . since you are adding flour into the milk as a thickener.

Corn Chowder
adapted from allrecipes.com

Ingredients:
1 package of bacon (or two. . . I won't tell)
2 celery sticks, chopped
1 large onion, diced
2 TBSP dairy free butter
salt & pepper to taste
1 can creamed corn
1 can whole kernel corn (I used fresh corn that I froze over the summer)
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups plain almond milk
6 cups small potatoes, cubed
2 carrots, chopped
2 TBS flour

Directions:
Fry bacon in pan until almost done.  Take some out for sprinkling on top.
Add onions and celery and saute until lightly browned.   Add corn, butter, and broth.
Add carrots and potatoes.  Continue cooking for about 15 minutes.  Mix flour and a little bit of water together to make a paste.  Add milk and flour paste into the soup.  If your soup is still not even thick enough, feel free to make some more paste and add it t little by little to your soup until you get the desired thickness. 

Keep simmering for about 30 minutes or until you are ready to serve.  Top with cheese and bacon.

Happy Cooking! 

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

on gratitude.



The alarm goes off and I frantically try to find my phone to turn it off.  Another day of wrangling the kids to and from school, keeping the house in order, and checking things off my daily to-do list has begun. Today, there is a lot on the list.  I'm not entirely sure I will get it all done (anybody have some extra hours they can send me? ha ha!) The days can seem so overwhelming and discouraging at times.  The never ending laundry, grocery shopping (I'm pretty sure I'm raising a heard of elephants some times instead of two boys!), household chores that I never seem to have time for, projects I want to finish (and some that I want to start).  Then, add in commitments and volunteering and the occasional discipline problem or sick kid.  It is so easy to just loose that joy when we look at the list and wonder just how we are going to tackle it all or even get a breath in. 

One of my favorite verses says, "Be joyful always , pray continually, Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."  

It brings so much encouragement to think that in the midst of folding towels and doing dishes I can find joy.  I can find things to be thankful for.  Some days are more difficult than others.  I mean, some days are just bad.  Once I start looking for things to be thankful for. . . even on days where I have to reach way down deep, my attitude shifts.  That desire to complain, whine, or even quit goes away.  It is almost instantaneously replaced with joy.  Suddenly doing dishes and folding clothes just doesn't seem that terrible.

As I raise my boys, I want them to learn to be thankful.  I want them to grow into men who find love God and find joy in the small things.  I want them to be more than just polite boys who say their pleases and thank yous.  I want them to seers who are thankful for the easy things as well as the hard, seemingly insignificant things.

A few years ago, I decided to make a Gratitude tree.  I found an old vase, stuck some play dough at the bottom, and thrown a branch in.  It was huge.  It wasn't the prettiest thing, but my oldest, who was probably in kindergarten made everyone who came to visit write something they were thankful for.  He wanted to see others participate in our new tradition.

A few years have passed and I am honestly not even sure I did it last year.  I don't know.  But, I was looking for inexpensive fall centerpiece for our dining room table.  My first and second ideas didn't pan out.  So, I brought back the gratitude tree. They boys were so excited!  As soon as they saw it they wanted to start writing.   Watching the boys think of things they are thankful for was inspiring.

Ethan's first tag was that he was thankful for Armadillos.  While that seems a bit odd, we had been to the zoo the evening before and they were incredibly active.  He said they reminded him of giant caterpillars.  He was watching.  He was thankful.

Weston was so excited he wanted to write two down.  He thought and thought and finally came up with paint.  He loves creating and painting is one of his favorite things!  He also came up with food that he can eat (when you have food allergies. . . food often is just not that exciting).

This year I cleaned out a can (I HAD to make something with pumpkin to be able to use the can), and let it dry overnight.  I wrapped with with some jute and tied a bow around it.  Then, I went out to the backyard and clipped a few leaf-less branches off some of our trees and stuck them in the can.  Super easy and it didn't cost me anything because I had all the stuff.

Then, I found some paper in my paper stash and stamped some gratitude words down and tied some bakers twine around to make the tags.  Super easy.

It's so easy that you can do it, too.  It's never to late to start keeping track of things you are thankful for!  

Friday, November 03, 2017

3 Things I'm loving

It's Friday and let's be honest.  I am ready for the weekend.  We survived Halloween week and now, I need a nice long 3 day weekend.  The boys are home and are wrapping up their afternoon chores.  The sky is partly sunny with overcast clouds coming in.  I am fighting every urge to warm up a cup of chai tea and curl up on the couch in a blanket.  But, first this blog post. 

I thought that I would share 3 things that I am loving today for a few reasons. 
1.  I just wanted to be able to write. 
2.  I'm not in the mood to tell you how I did something.  My brain is tired. 
3.  Because it's Friday and the seasons are officially changing here and my heart is happy (tired. . . but happy!)

 I've done this a few times way back when.  But, one of my favorite podcasters always asks the people she has on what are three things they are loving right now.  I just love that because it doesn't have to be a product or anything.  It shows a persons heartbeat.  So, here are my three things for today. 

1.  Holidays.  Guys, let's be honest.  It's all sort of annoying when Thanksgiving gets skipped over, but seriously, for me it's the whole season.  The food, the sounds, the twinkling lights, the smells, the time with family.  EVERY SINGLE Thing!  I saw two ladies walk around Target the other day whining about Christmas stuff being up the day after Halloween.  Complainers are my least favorite thing.  I walked around them, just enjoying the sights and sounds. . . and drinking my latte.

2.  Starbucks Red Cups and Gingerbread Lattes.
I wait all year for this.  Gingerbread lattes are probably my favorite latte of all.   They are basically Christmas in a cup and it's wonderful.  This year's red cup is super cute.  I can't wait to go out for coffee with friends just so I can have another cup of this heavenly drink! 

3.  The book Wonder.  It's been on our reading bucket list for a while now and we decided to put all our other reading on hold so we can get this book done before we go see the movie.  I'm only a few chapters in and so far I have laughed and cried. It is so beautifully written.  Ethan is chasing me through it (we are both reading it, but sharing the book), and we are getting to talk about it.  I have a feeling this book is not going to take us long to read!  Ethan and I are going to celebrate it by going and seeing the movie later this month.  You should read it too.  It's a good one! 

And those are three things I am loving lately.  What are you loving right now?  SHare in the comments, over on Facebook or Instagram.  I'd love to hear!  Maybe your current love will encourage someone else?  Who knows.

Enjoy your weekend!  I'm going to go make a chai latte, watch a movie, and maybe make something pumpkin-y.  Because it's fall and the weekend.  


Wednesday, November 01, 2017

What's For Dinner {Sept 2017 edition}

This summer I went and drooled over the cookbook section at Barnes and Noble.  There are sooo many good recipes out there hidden in these books. . . and there are so many of them!  Before, I even consider taking the plunge and buying one I always check them out at the library first.  I need to read them. I need to study them.  I need to ask myself will I make more than just one recipe from this book?  So, at the end of the summer, I had quite the stack of cookbooks waiting for me at our local library.  It was like Christmas.  But not.  I had to return these babies eventually!

I'm kind of afraid to post the recipes we tried out because you might run away screaming. But, hear me out.  I've made mention that my youngest son and I deal with dairy allergies and then he also has a soy allergy.  This is so frustrating when you just want to eat some good food.  I also know that sometimes bread is not my friend.  So, after some serious talks with my husband we decided to try out some paleo and Whole 30 recipes.  These recipes are guaranteed to be dairy free and grain free and a lot of them look so amazing!  We aren't at the point where we will switch completely to these diets, but I think there is a lot to gain from them, their recipes, and living a healthy lifestyle.  I am a huge believer in everything in moderation and that food is meant to be enjoyed and savored.  And guys, these recipes were so tasty!  I wouldn't be sharing them with you if they weren't. 

So, without further ado. . . here are the recipes we tried out in September.

1.  Mediterranean Bison Burgers. 
This recipe was one of my favorites.  Jon thought it was so-so, only because of the mayonnaise. . . that he doesn't do.   Bison is always really tasty and the grilled green onions were amazing!  You definitely need to make a salad or some potatoes for the side because you will be hungry an hour later.  But, this one was a keeper! 

2.  Asian Sesame Chicken Salad
 This was our absolute favorite recipe of October.  It made a huge batch and I still am thinking about adding it to our menu for this month.   Plus, using coconut aminos is a great way to get rid of the soy factor and it tastes just like soy sauce!  I really liked this recipe because it made a lot of salad and we just poured the dressing on separately so we could have leftovers the next night.  Leftovers and dinner time soccer practices are my friend!  This is a whole 30 recipe and unlike most Asian sesame salads, there was no sugar to be found in this recipe (that's why it's whole 30). 

3.  Italian Sub Salad

I've had this recipe on my want to make list for almost forever!  I finally made it and it was pretty much amazing.  I've never really been disappointed with Smitten Kitchen recipes.  Deb Perelman has always been one of my favorite food bloggers because shes so stinking simple and she is so real.  I think that this recipe is going to join some other favorite salad recipes that I bring to parties.  It's that good!   It also tastes like an Italian sub without the bread! I added provolone to Jon and Ethan's salads, but otherwise kept it dairy free.  I also made this recipe on a super hot day so heating up the kitchen sounded horrible!  This was the perfect summer-time dinner!

4.  Dump Ranch
So. . .this isn't really a dinner recipe.  But, it is so amazing!  I love ranch.  I MISS ranch.   Carrots and ranch, Pizza and ranch, BBQ chicken salad with ranch, buffalo chicken with ranch.  This recipe is life changing if you are on a non dairy diet.  It's super easy.  Doesn't even taste like coconut and it takes less than 5 minutes to make!  I have been making this so many times that I keep light flavored olive oil in the pantry so I always  have it. 

  I also made an amazing twice baked potatoes recipe from the whole 30 cookbook and they were amazing.  I can't find the recipe anywhere, so you might have to go buy the book or check it out at your local library. 

For those who are curious of the cookbooks I checked out and enjoyed here's a list with amazon links:

Against all Grain - I made a few of these recipes earlier in the summer and they were really good.  She has a lot of recipes on her blog, too! 

Whole 30 Cookbook - this is the actual cookbook that came out and not the guide to how to do the whole 30.  The recipes we tried were amazing!

Nom Nom Paleo was super fun to read.  I didn't get a chance to make anything from it before sending it back.  But super cute and fun. 

Well, that's it!  I hope this inspired you and you didn't run away thinking I've lost all my marbles!  Don't worry, we haven't given up carbs completely!  Just eating in moderation. 

What are you cooking up this month?








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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

word.

 
She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.
Proverbs 31:15

This verse stops me in my tracks every time I read it.  It tugs my heart and reminds me so much about my worth on days where there is so much doubt and shame. 

If you have been around my blog for a few years, you might know that one of my favorite passages of the Bible is Proverbs 31.  For those of you newer to this little writing space of mine, it's a small little chapter at the end of Proverbs with wise advice from a mom to her son of what he should look for in a wife.  Many of these attributes seem impossible to attain and so for many, it they easily get tossed aside because it's often the opposite of what society tells us feminism should be or they feel like it's an impossible standard so why even bother.  

Being a mom and a wife is hard.  Heck, being a woman is hard.  We work hard doing all the things to help our homes run smoothly.  There are 24 hours a day and some of that we are sleeping (I hope!).  I don't even have a job and I can't get everything I want to accomplish done in a day.  I can't imagine a working mom's stress level.  Then, on top of that, we throw the added fears of judgement and our self image into the mix and really, we are a mess! Social media doesn't even help us!  In the last week, I have seen stories come across my feed that shame women for fixing lunches for their spouse, for a pile of diapers that need to be tossed, and dust on the furniture!  We feel inadequate, unworthy, tired, dirty, and frazzled.  We always feel like we should be doing more.  So, really quick, let's talk.

My best friend has a sweet job working in the jewelry/fancy handbag industry, so I figured I would ask her what is so great about a ruby.  While I knew some of the things she told me, I was surprised by one of them.  First of all, Rubies are rare.  They are a lot harder to find than any other gem.  Not to mention, you can't find that color red that rubies have in any other gemstone.  They are also incredibly beautiful.  I was always a little jealous of my sister for having a ruby for a birthstone. . . it was so much prettier than my yellow topaz!  They are also almost as strong as a diamond.   So, let's see:  A ruby is a rare, beautiful and strong gemstone that makes them very valuable. 

Now, let's put that into the context of you.

YOU are worth more than rubies.

There is nobody on earth exactly like you.  You have your own physical markings that make you who you are.  You have your own giftings and likes and dislikes and that makes you unique.  It would be a really boring world if everyone looked and did the exact same things as you or me.

YOU are beautiful!

You may not feel like it today.  You may not even have showered in a couple of days and still have spit up on your shirt from yesterday. Your hair may be in a messy bun for the 7th day in a row.  You may feel tired and worn down from just being so busy or  possibly life is just rough right now.  You may be frustrated because your body is not fitting your clothes the way they used to.  But remember, you were created in God's image and you are beautiful!

YOU are strong. 

You may not feel like it right now, but you can do this.  You can do whatever God has put in front of you right now.  Thankfully, when we feel weak, God does amazing things through us. There are so many verses that God gives us to remind us that our strength comes from Him.

Exodus 15:2  The Lord is my strength and my song. . . 

Joshua 1:9 Be strong and courageous.  Do not be frightened. . . for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. 

2 Samuel 22:33 God is my strength and power, and He makes my way perfect. 

Doesn't that make you feel strong?

So today, as you go about your daily business, fight those feelings of shame and inadequacy with God's Word.  Hide it in your heart and be encouraged.  Insert your name in the verse and make it your mantra today: is more precious than rubies. Send a note or text message to a friend and encourage them. . . they may need to hear some encouraging words today.













 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Connection Time!

 I kind of took a two week vacation because things were just a tad bit insane around here.  I promise I didn't forget about you and this space.  There are definitely periods of time where life just gets busy and we just run with it.  I am sure most of you can probably relate.  I also really wanted to take the time to catch up with all of you.  I realized that I hadn't posted a connection time post since before school started. . . and we just finished our first quarter!  Crazy. 

I feel like I am typing and going quite quickly today because I just stopped by our favorite coffee shop that just took over one of the drive thru spots super close to my house. . . and the kids school.  I'm also trying to grill chicken for tonight's chicken bistro salad and manage homework and chores.  Soccer is in an hour and half and I am totally not ready!  But that's okay.  I bought that Barilla Pronto pasta and it is a game changer on days like today.  So, I apologize ahead of time if I sound a little discombobulated. 

I also joined in the Nester's My Cozy Fall Home challenge, so I posted this picture earlier  last week for the Cozy Chair in my house.  It's really one of my favorite places to curl up in and read a good book.  I also used to sit in this chair when Ethan would have late night coughing fits.  I would sit there and hold him until the cough medicine sort of took effect.  Also, I feel like you should know that at the time I took this picture, it was the only clean, uncluttered area in my whole house.  It's just the reality of things.  And part of getting my house ready for fall includes a deep cleaning that i've slowly been working on. 

I mentioned earlier that we are about half way into soccer season.  Last week was the first week, I really felt cold. . . it was an 8am game, but I felt cold and that's all that matters.  Ethan's team also won their first game and so excitement was insane!  We are trying out a new league this year and there are some seriously serious teams out there.  Ethan is having a blast and enjoying his team mates, which makes it so much more fun to watch. 

We had our school carnival a few weeks ago and I made so many signs that my eyeballs were rolling backwards.  Not really.  But there were quite a few of them and it took all week to do!  HEre's just one of the many signs.  Ignore the fact that my toes were in desperate need of some polish (that has since been fixed!). 

And, my Fiddle Leaf Fig.  It seems to be doing quite well in the front room.  I am loving this plant and just the simple addition of this plant by the window makes it a little bit homier.   So far it's lived 2 months.  Crossing my fingers are at least 2 more.  We shall see! 

Now, let's work on the connection time.  Go grab something to drink and let's get started. 

Outside my window the leaves might just be changing colors.  I'm not sure if it's wishful thinking or not, but I could have sworn I saw some yellow on the tree.  Also, it's overcast. . . I think.  I am pretty sure it is, but we've had a lot of smoke from up North and so it's kind of hard to tell.

I am thinking
a lot.  About so many things.  But right now, I am trying to decide what my next blog post will be.   Any votes?

From the kitchen
Tonight, I am making Bistro Chicken SaladOther than that, things are pretty quiet until the end of the week.  But, lots of things pumpkin are on the horizon.

I am wearing  jeans and a button up shirt.  I got to speak to some moms this morning and I havent' had time to change. 

I am creating
some top secret things right now.  But they involve the sewing machine! 

I am going
to soccer practice tonight and then absolutely now where.  But, I think heading out to see a sweet friend's new baby is in the forecast for the week!  I need a baby fix! 

I am reading
absolutely nothing right now.  I plan on fixing that this week, though. 

I am hoping
for rain. We need it so bad and I really just want a gloomy, wet fall day.  Is that weird?

I am hearing the tv.  Other than that is oddly quiet around here.  I think my kids are tuckered out!

Around the House
it's a mess.  But, I finally bought some pumpkins and am officially declaring it fall in our house.  Fall is definitely one o my favorite times of the year!

One of my favorite things. . . honestly, this week it has been the quiet.  But, every now and then Weston has been sneaking into bed with us in the middle of the night and it's just the sweetest thing.  He doesn't stay for long, but he gets this huge sleepy smile when he snuggles in next to us.  I will miss that phase!

A few plans for the week
top secret projects, cleaning the house, and some pumpkin cookies.

What I am listening to 
I've been listening to this album on Amazon Music called Joeseph and Sara Tracy.  They have redone some famous old hymns and I just cannot get enough of it! 

Now, it's your turn!  Grab your coffee and let's connect! You don't have to do them all! I can't wait to hear from you! You can even private message me if you don't want to make it public. 

Outside my window
I am thinking
From the kitchen
I am wearing
I am creating
I am going
I am reading
I am hoping
I am hearing
Around the House
One of my favorite things
A few plans for the week
What I am listening to

Friday, September 29, 2017

Ethan turns 9! {A Mad Scientist Party}

 We have officially entered into Ethan's final year in the single digits.  I can honestly say that it has been an amazing 9 years of watching him grow into his own person.  He had a really hard time deciding on a theme until we looked at this one.  Ohhh, the excitement!  He wanted one last themed party (because this mom is getting tired!) and he wanted to go out with a bang.  I by bang, I mean make things explode!

This party was a lot of fun to put together and actually really simple because most of the experiments use things that are laying around the house.  I bought some fun artwork and got to work on designing his invitation and started pinning ideas from other people's science parties. . . thanks Pinterest!  We stocked up on glue and pencils during back to school sales, which saved us a lot of money. 

 We had the party in the early evening so we could set up outside.  We ended up with some great weather this year and the shade made it so nice in the backyard.  Also, the triple digits took a break for the party, so that was so nice.  We ordered a bunch of pizza from Dominos to feed these hungry 9 year olds.  I thought they would eat more, but they were having so much fun, they only ate a little!  Crazy boys!  We also had rice krispy treat molecules,  sugar cookies, jello and candy.  Ethan wanted ice cream sandwiches for dessert. . . so easy!





 The set up outside was fun.  I had coloring sheet, safety glasses, glow sticks, pencils, and crayons. We had corn hole set up for the kids to play while Ethan's friends arrived.  The kids invented a new game called "full contact corn hole" because 9 year old boys. 
While they ate pizza, they made their name tags by putting their finger prints in the box and writing their name in the rectangle.  Then, we safety pinned them to their shirts to make them official scientists. 
We also did some science mad libs.  (BTW, read pussy - as in Puss-y. . . it looks way bad when you don't know).  And again.  9 year old boys (and a girl. .  who threw in some fart and poopy comments just as much as the boys!). 




 Can I just say Dry Ice is amazing!  We put it in the punch and did a few experiments with it.  Oh, the excitement!  The Punch was just Blue Hawaiian Punch, Pineapple Juice, and 7-Up.  The kids drank it like it was the most magical thing in the whole world! 
 We kicked off the experiments with Diet Coke and Mentos.  The looks on their faces says it all.  I mean, how cool is exploding diet coke? 
 More Dry Ice.  We put it in a big bowl of water and talked about the states of matter.  (Shh. . . these third and fourth graders may have learned something. . . insert evil cackle here).   Then we put some dawn in it and watched it bubble.  This was kind of mind blowing for them. 
 Then, we made flubber with some glue, water, and borax.  I know that some people are super scared of the stuff, but there really isnt anything to be scared of. . . unless you eat it or sniff it like one would do to get high.  I talk about it here in this post.  Flubber is super easy because you pour some glue in a container, and then add some water with borax already mixed in.  Then it gets stirred for a bit. . . the reaction is instant. Once it's solid and slimy, you just knead it together and it cleans up itself.  It's really amazing.  We let them pick their own colors.
 The next activity involved more candy.  Really, I am sure these parents hated me once they got home.  They made molecules out of gum drops, marshmallows, and toothpicks using these printables.  Again. . . they may have learned something (oops!).  These two are showing off their salt molecules.

I had a paper bag for each kid that had all they could put their stuff inside.  That made it easy for them when they went home and it also helped us go from one activity to another. 


 The last activity we did was Elephant Toothpaste and that was also a lot of fun and possibly mind blowing.  It's amazing what some dish soap, water, and yeast will do! 
 These kids were so much fun!  I am so thankful Ethan has made some great friends.  And this party was so much fun!  We finished it off with ice cream sandwiches, presents and basketball.  By the end of the night everyone was a hot, sweaty mess, but we had so much fun!
As the kids left, we sent them off with a bottle of glue and the directions to make no-fail slime (the contact solution kind).

So, this party was so much fun to do.  The boys are still talking about it! Now to start looking up ideas for Weston's birthday. 

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