Friday, January 31, 2014

Be Like Little Children

There are days when no matter how good they may be, they are long.  Nights you just wish everyone would hurry and be asleep so you could have 15 minutes of quiet.  As I was putting my kids to bed, it was one of those nights. Stories seemed to never end with the constant questions and side talk, bedtime was just dragging on.  With lights out we prayed, I sang and it was time for them to be sleeping, yet they had so many stories they wanted to tell me.  I had spent the entire day with them, and yet they still had things to share.

"Remember, Mommy, at the play when the man sat on the cupcake?"

"Yes I remember," I thought–it was only a few hours ago.

They were so filled with awe and wonder and excitement.  I, on the other hand, was tired and ready to sleep.  I said, "Okay we're going to play the quiet game," thinking this will get them to be super quiet and they'll fall asleep, no more stories.  My littlest, with her head on my lap, started whispering everything to me.  I said, "Honey you're gonna loose the quiet game and not get a prize in the morning. You have to be quiet."  She tilts her head with those big innocent eyes and says, "But I am being quiet. I'm talking in my quiet voice."  I had to laugh. I pushed back her uneven cut bangs and looked into those big smiling eyes and decided I could listen to a few more stories in her quiet voice.

I was reminded how Jesus said,  "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Mathew 19:14)  and "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Mathew 18:3) 
I thought about how though I was with my children the entire day they still longed for more time with me.  They want my company, to be in my presence, to talk and laugh and be held.  We are supposed to be like these little children, seeking God, desiring God's presence, wanting to just lay with our head in our dear Heavenly Father's lap and keep whispering into the night.  
As our children grow they start to desire less time in our presence and think they know more, they can do it on their own.  How often do we act like rebellious teenagers toward God, doing it our own way, instead of like little children?

My prayer is to be more like my kids in this,  to follow my Heavenly Father around all through the day and into the night, praying without ceasing, desiring him and his presence. I hope you will make that your prayer too. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Yummy Gluten Free Chocolate Ice Cream Cake

My family has been gluten free for a couple years now and we've seen huge health improvements. We steer clear of conventional cakes and treats.  I usually experiment in the kitchen trying to come up with the best gluten free/ semi healthy versions of  the treats my family once ate.

We have a standard gluten free chocolate cake that we use for most birthdays.  It's extremely versatile.  For my dear Hubby's birthday we made our chocolate cake and turned it into an ice cream cake. It was a big hit! Everyone begged for it for their birthdays.

Chocolate Cake Recipe:

2 c.         gluten free oat flour (you can blend up oats in your food processor to make flour)
3/4 c.      organic coco powder or caoca powder
1 1/2 t.    baking soda
1 1/2 t.    baking powder
1 t.          Redmond Real salt
1 t.         zanthan gum
1 1/2 c.  honey
2            organic eggs
1 c.       organic or raw milk (coconut milk works great too)
1/2 c.    oil (coconut or olive oil are the only ones I use)
2 t.       vanilla extract
1 t.       almond extract
1 c.      boiling water

Preheat oven 350.  Grease two 8' round cake pans or one rectangular pan. Stir up all dry ingredients.  In a large stand mixer add in all wet ingredients except the boiling water.  Stir until well combined. Then add in boiling water.  The mixture will be very runny.  Pour it into the pans and cook for 35 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out dry. 

To make the ice cream cake first make the two round chocolate cakes.  Cover them and put in the freezer for a couple hours.  Cut around the outside of the cakes to get off the outer "crust", use these extras to crumble up for the top of the cake. Cut one of the rounds through the center to make a third round.  Layer ice cream and cake.  We used Alden's Organic Chocolate Chocolate Chip and Alden's Organic Vanilla Bean.   Then top it with home made whipping cream.  I buy organic whipping cream and whip it on high with a small amount of honey until it is stiff.  Then cover the entire cake with whipping cream.  Take the crumbs and crumble them on the top and sides of the cake. We also toasted some gluten free oats in the oven and melted chocolate over them, let cool and crumbled them on the cake and pressed some into the sides. I decorated it with some melted caramel.  Then put it back in the freezer covered.  Took it out 5 minutes prior to serving, and everyone enjoyed! 

Hope you get a chance to try this cake.  It's better than any store bought ice cream cake I've ever tasted, and a bit healthier.  All real ingredients and gluten free.  Can't beat that!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Good Gifts II: Making Doll House Furniture

As we made the doll house for my littlest I began wanting to make some furniture for the rooms.  I'd seen her play with her little dolls for months with no furniture, and although she never said a word about it, I saw.  I saw what things she didn't have and I knew the addition would bring many hours of joy and imaginative play.

I imagine the Heavenly Father watching us in the same way.  I imagine him seeing all our needs and wants, even the ones we never offer up in prayer, and many times he then gives us those gifts in little ways to remind us of his love and that he sees us. Just the other day this happened for me. For years I've made popcorn on the stove with a kettle, we don't use a microwave at all, and so making popcorn was sometimes a chore.  With all the oil splatters and having to stand at the stove the entire time I didn't enjoy making popcorn for family movie nights.  Then a friend of mine surprised me with an air popper.  It was a wonderful gesture from her and it made me think of my Heavenly Father seeing my needs.  Little needs, like the carrot peeler, the new dishes, the hand me down kids clothes at just the right time. God sees our needs and he gives us good gifts.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17

So I began making doll house furniture.  For the table and chairs I bought short and tall wooden spools (approx $3), one package of little squares ($1.49), and one package of rectangular Woodsies ($2.47) from Hobby Lobby. I used two of the rectangular Woodsies for the table, glued together with wood glue and clamped over night to dry.  I then painted and added the spools for the table legs.  The chairs were the short spools and the small squares.  It turned out to be the a very nice dinning room set.  I finished it off with a package of plates and silverware for a couple dollars at Hobby Lobby that my older daughter decorated with paint.

I also made a bed for the parents.  I used the left over cubes from putting the roof together as the bed legs or supports.  I then used extra floor samples and cut them to look like a a head board.  I glued them together and let dry.  Then I made a little mattress, like you would a small pillow, and then added pillows and a blanket.  It took about 15 minutes start to finish to make the parents bed.

After making these and other odds and ends the doll house was ready.  What joy I felt to watch my kids playing and excited about the new doll house and new furniture.  My husband and I had spent very little money on this gift, but we gave of our time and got creative to give our sweet girl a very happy 4th birthday.  We wanted to give her a good gift.  Doesn't our Heavenly Father wish to give us good gifts too, are we not his dear sweet little children.

What surprise good gifts has God given you lately to show you that he's watching, and he cares?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Good Gifts: Making a Doll House

We of course what to give good gifts to our children.  What loving parent doesn't?  With Christmas followed by multiple birthdays in my home the subject of gifts was constantly on my mind.  What could I give my children that they would really enjoy, really love, really treasure.  All these thoughts led me to recall the scripture about how our Heavenly Father desires to give us good gifts too.  His greatest gift of course is the Holy Spirit living with in us, leading us, guiding us and helping us as we venture through times of blessings and times of trouble.  Another scripture tells us that EVERY good and perfect gift comes from the father above.  I look around and see my kids and my husband and they are by far the best gifts I have from God. They bring me great joy, even on the days when I want to scream and pull out all my hair, they still bring me joy.

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Luke 11:11-13

As my littlest turned four I wanted to give her a good gift.  She had a collection of fairies and Dora dolls and ponies and daily played "doll house" but the dolls didn't fit in her little pink doll house, and they couldn't stand up and each day as I watched her play the desire to give her a good gift grew more within.  I looked on line for hours trying to find the perfect house at the perfect price, and as much I as I wanted to give her an amazing doll house they all had 3 digit price tags attached.  Lets be practical, we spend tons of money every month on our special allergy diets, and there is no way we could afford or even justify spending over 100 dollars on a doll house.  So like any determined Momma, I decided we'd make it!

We took an old cube shelf from Target that usually costs about 30.00 and turned it into a fairy, pony and Dora dream land. It delighted our little girl when she unveiled it on the morning of her birthday.

We then purchased two pieces of wood from Home Depot.  One was for the roof, it was a sheet of thin, untreated pressed wood.  It cost 9.89 and they cut it (for free) to the sizes we needed. We used two 24x12 pieces to make the roof.  The extra pieces from that wood we used to make two yards on the sides of the house. One for the playground and one for the horses.  We then bought a piece of backing board, usually used as the back of an entertainment center.  The cube shelves usually have some cardboard backs but not enough for the entire thing.  That piece of wood cost 5.95 and again they cut it to size, 36x24.  We nailed that to the back using tiny finishing nails. Before nailing the roof together we painted it white to match the house.  We also bought some little cubes from Hobby Lobby to nail the thin roof pieces into.  If you look at the roof you can see a little cube.  We used 2 for support. Flooring was free samples from Menards that we then cut and glued in place.  We used felt flooring for two rooms.  The yard has green turf samples from Menards and a lovely white picket fence that cost a little over 2.00 from Hobby Lobby. Then we had to make furniture for the lovely little house.  I'll show you that later.  

What kind of gifts have you made for your little ones?
As you make good gifts for your kids remember that the Heavenly Father wishes to give you good gifts too. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Grain Free Birthday Parties

We just celebrated 3 birthdays in our family.  Back in the days, before we knew about the kiddos food allergies, we made amazing bright red fire trucks, and bright pink castles cakes with all kinds of candy decorations. Now things are a little less colorful but still very flavorful!

We recently tried out some paleo recipes for all our birthday parties.  I hope you will enjoy them and make some yourself.

All I wanted for my birthday was cheesecake, so I found a paleo one.  The recipe was from Amazing Paleo. Although it did taste very yummy, it had more of a key lime pie flavor to it than a cheesecake flavor.  I was craving the real thing, so a few days later we did another grain free cheesecake for a my daughter's birthday, it was wonderful!!!  It is not true paleo as it has dairy in it, but it's still grain free and luscious.  It was from Heavenly Homemakers. I used honey instead of maple syrup, and I put it in a cake pan instead of cupcake papers, but I must say it was SO GOOD, melt in your mouth, want to eat the entire cake good!  We also made the Decadent Fudgy Brownies from The Nourishing Home.  Again I altered the recipe by using honey instead of the sugars it called for.  It was very good, a big hit with the kids especially.

Talk about partying multiple cakes in a short amount of time, but my favorite was the main dish. We made a wonderful cauliflower pizza for the birthday party.  We actually made 5 of them!  We loosely followed a recipe from How Sweet It Is.  She has great pictures and step by step instructions on her site.   I only used mozzarella cheese, salt, oregano, garlic, egg and cauliflower in the crust.  We toasted the cauliflower for 15 minutes at 400 degrees prior to mixing it with the egg and spices. I do not microwave anything, it takes all the nutrition out of your food and makes it worthless to eat.  We garnished it with spinach, zucchini, beef, and cheese.  We had one plain cheese for some of the kids.  We then made a second kind with no cheese, for a dairy free friend. The egg held it together and it worked out great.  They all turned out wonderfully.  I will say if you're using a glass pan be sure to grease it first. 

I hope for your next party or even for dinner some night you can try out some of these wonderful recipes.  Let us know where you find your favorite grain free recipes.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Gluten Free

My family is full of food allergies or sensitivities.  They show up in rashes, upset stomachs and behavior changes.  I'm not talking little behavior changes, I'm talking all out uncontrollable, unreasonable behavior changes.  My husband and I didn't have a doctor helping us out with this, they mainly prescribed creams and medicines.  When we told them we were going to try some other things they basically said good luck with that and expected us to be right back, but we didn't end up going back to them for years.

It started by going to a class a local chiropractor was having about our foods and what's in them, and how they effect our bodies.  We went home and literally cleared out our kitchen. The first thing we got rid of refined sugars, dyes, hydrogenated oils and processed foods. That's one way to empty your cupboards in a heartbeat. Yet with just those things we saw huge improvements.  My oldest daughter suffered from serious asthma, ending in many hospitalizations.  She could finally sleep laying down, and get off of 3 asthma medications just by eliminating sugars, dyes and hydrogenated oils. Then we began doing elimination diets and got rid of gluten, rice, beans and some vegetables and fruits.  My youngest follows Dr. Finegold's diet which helps her with both allergies, asthma and the huge behavior changes.  My middle child is the one that's sensitive to rice, beans of all kinds, gluten and peanuts his horrible eczema that looked like burns on his bottom and legs completely went away.

So what do we eat? We eat good fresh fruits and veggies, meats, and everything else we make from scratch.  We use honey instead of sugar in all our recipes.  We use some gluten free oat flour, some millet and some almond flour when baking cakes, pancakes or muffins. If it's a birthday or Christmas we might splurge and use India Tree natural food dyes.  I regularly have a whole chicken cooking and then the bones boiling so that we can consume good bone broth and I make soups often in the winter months.  I don't feel like my family is limited in their eating choices, but it's still tricky at times.

Lets face it eating healthy and navigating food allergies is difficult in our society. Every corner has a fast food giant that has absolutely nothing we can eat.  I always have to think ahead and have snacks packed like hard boiled eggs, carrots apples or another veggie choice.  We can't stop at the local drive thru or even many local stores to fill our tummy tanks and thus have to be home when it's close to feeding time. There are days that I feel I'm really a kitchen companion and not a homemaking, homeschooling mama. There are days that appointments run long and snacks run out and I have to run through a store in search of something we can actually consume.  It always amazes me in the massive grocery stores filled with candies, chips and pop with isles and isles of food, I can only find a handful of things that are okay and not produce. Yet when I see the changes in their health for the better it's all worth the eliminations.

What diet do you follow? GAPS, Cellular Healing, Paleo, Dr. Finegold's KP diet, or some other one? Have you seen your family benefit in amazing ways. Share with us. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

What Really Matters

Here I am living in a tiny 2 bedroom apartment with my husband and our three children.  Toys can't be contained in the small room the kids share.  Homeschooling happens on the couch or the table or the floor and the only organization is that each kid has their own plastic tub of books to bring to me during their special time. I'm constantly in the kitchen trying to make make food my kids can actually eat, and even when they can eat it, doesn't mean they will.  I look around and I see clutter, chaos and a lot of things I wish I had.

I wish I had peace and quiet, a day alone with no noise and no one following me to the bathroom.
I wish we had more room to fit all the amazing things they love to play with.
I wish we had a yard to run and play and get out our energy, especially after being stuck in such close quarters during the long COLD winter. Which really means I wish we had a house.
I wish we could eat all the grains we wanted. 
I could go on and on, lets face it we all could.  There's always something more we want, or desire.  During these times of wishing for more I have to step back and remember what really matters.

I'm grateful to God that he blessed me with these 3 miracles after being told I'd never get to full-term and after the heartache of miscarrying three precious children. I'm grateful for laughter and the creativity that freely flows through my home. I'm grateful to have kids that, though they have food allergies, and though shopping can be a nightmare, and cooking take hours, they are healthy and happy and strong.  I'm grateful for a good husband and the ability to stay home with my kids and teach them, see them grow and change and watch them flourish into the people God made them to be. I'm grateful to have a roof over my head, and realize that many people lack even that.

When I stop and think I see that I have so much to be thankful for.  God is good, and I am truly blessed, that's what really matters.

"Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord." Psalm 107:43 

"Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,  for his steadfast love endures forever!"
Psalm 118:1