Recipe: Blueberry Oat Cake

Blueberries. Yum!

While the kids were away at the movies with my in-laws on Saturday, I had a few hours to bake…all by myself. 😉 I love having my kids help with cooking and baking, but some days I really love to just make some things without having to stop 100 times.

I whipped up a Blueberry Oat Cake for this morning’s breakfast….and for me to have a yummy snack, while I waited for the kids to return. It was a simple recipe, but it also has 2 cups of blueberries, which makes it extra delicious.

Blueberry Oat Cake

2 eggs

2 cups buttermilk

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup oil

2 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups quick oats

2 cups blueberries

1 cup walnuts (optional)

Powdered Sugar

Beat eggs, buttermilk, brown sugar and oil until mixed well. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add to egg mixture and beat on low (or by hand) for 2 minutes. Fold in oats, blueberries and nuts.

Pour into greased and floured tube/bundt pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until knife/toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in the pan, then turn onto a plate.

After it cools, you can dust on some powdered sugar to make it look pretty. 🙂 You could also make a little lemon glaze or a plain powdered sugar glaze to drizzle over it.

Enjoy!

Honey Pizza Dough


There is just something about homemade pizza that makes it so much yummier than frozen. We have been using frozen pizza or the Aldi Take & Bake pizzas for our pizza nights lately. I have just not been motivated to make our dough. This week, though, I had a taste for homemade, so we are back at it!

I LOVE this recipe for honey pizza dough. I don’t remember where I pulled it from, but it is the only one I have been using for a few years now. I think the honey in it gives it a unique sweetness! 

Honey Pizza Dough

1/2 cup warm water

2 TBSP yeast

5 cups bread flour

1 1/2 cups cool water (i use room temp)

2 tsp salt

1/4 cup olive oil

2 TBSP honey

Mix yeast into warm water in a largw bowl. Let sit about 10 minutes or until bubbly. Add in cool water, salt, oul and honey. Then add in flour and combine well. 


Dump onto lightly floured surface and hand knead for about 7 minutes. Place jnto a grease bowl, cover and let rise for 30 minutes. 



*I cover with a warm wet towel, like how I cover my bread dough. The humidity creates seems to always be perfect for rising. And I have cute tea towels to use that my in-laws brought back from Australia for me. 🙂

Punch down the dough and divide into the sizes you want (several smalll to make individual pizzas or two larger for big pizzas). Shape into balls and cover to rise. Once doubled, roll out the balls to use for your pizzas!

We did two large pizzas. My helpers did the sauce and cheese. Addy made a pepperoni smiley. Lily made one with a ham heart. 




We baked ours at 450 degrees for about 20 minutes. Yum!

Consistency….

I mentioned at the beginning of the month that my word for this year is CONSISTENCY. This is my first year to pick a word and really focus on it. This word, though, has been hanging around for several months.

At the end of last Summer, I was really starting to feel overwhelmed. We had just come off of a crazy tax filing debacle (thankfully, it all worked out…just a huge lesson in patience!). We were in the middle of schooling year round for 2016. I was trying to plan for a trip to the Creation Museum and Ark we took in September – our first family vacation. My husband was starting up another semester of Bible school online. And after a nice Summer break, AWANA (kids’ Bible program) was about to start up again on Sunday nights, and I was a group leader for the 3 & 4-year-old kids. All of it was exciting…except the tax filing…but I was just feeling too busy.

I also taught the 2-year-old Sunday school class at church every week at 9:00AM (which actually means we were there around 8:30 every Sunday… and every other Sunday my husband works, so it was just me and five kids rushing to get there by 8:30). I had been really enjoying teaching the kids, but felt a little burnt out with it. Didn’t really feel like I was doing my best or giving 100% at it. On top of that, I was ramping up to be on the steering committee for the mom group at church, as well as continue to meet twice a month with my mentor from our Titus 2 program.

My husband had made a comment about me doing too many things. He didn’t mean anything by it, but I took it to heart. I started thinking maybe I was doing too much, and maybe that’s why I wasn’t really enjoying too much of it anymore. I started thinking about how hectic it was trying to get lesson plans done and how we had been winging it the past few months because I just didn’t have quiet time to set aside and work on them each week. I started thinking about how busy Sundays had become and how challenging it was to finish teaching and then gather my own kids and find my husband and get everyone home in time for naps before coming back in the evenings for AWANA. After talking with my mentor about the busyness, she had me write down all the things I was committed to in a given week. Every group, class, study, whatever. After writing it all down, I couldn’t really see how homeschool fit in there at all. There was something almost every single day! She then had me write down the things I needed to be doing or be a part of and the things I could let go of and let someone else do.

After a lot of praying, worrying about other people’s perceptions 🙂 , and talking with my husband…I decided to let go of some things. I UN-committed to be an AWANA leader – hardest thing to do! One of my dear friends is the director, and I felt awful for having committed and then backing out. I gave her a ridiculously huge explanation, and she was so gracious and understanding my reasons. I then emailed our Sunday School director to let her know I needed to move to only teaching every other week; God was so awesome in filling that position just a few weeks later with a friend of mine. We now rotate every other week with teaching, and it goes so smoothly!

Things changed with my Titus 2 mentor, and she now goes to another church. She and I both discontinued going to the Titus 2 program, but we are continuing our mentoring. It has worked out beautifully, and she is such an encouragement.

As I let go of things and said “no” more to things, I could see where I was able to be more consistent in the activities that God was directing me to be involved in. Homeschool become a much bigger priority (as it should), and I started using Sunday nights as my planning time, while the kids were in AWANA. If Arthur is working, I just lug all my books to church and plan in our little cafe area. If he is off, I stay home and he takes the kids (he is a sub for the older kid groups). I feel so much more prepared and able to be consistent on Monday mornings with getting our lessons started by 9:00.

So, before I chose the word CONSISTENCY for this year, God was already moving me in that direction back in August. I am very thankful He patiently waited for me to get it through my thick skull that I can’t volunteer for everything just because there is an opening. I just can’t. It isn’t fair to my family or to the position I am filling.

I have noticed myself saying “no” a lot more since the start of the January. I was asked to fill a really awesome homeschool co-op director position for this coming Fall, and I just had to turn it down. I knew right away that it would be too much for me, with Ethan not really schooling yet and having four older kids that are.

I am able to be more consistent with our meals because I have more time to plan and execute the menu. We are able to do a 4-day school week, with a flex day for errands or library visits or whatever. If we were still doing all those other things, I probably wouldn’t enjoy our school time as much because I would still be overwhelmed. And with my husband in school, I work to make sure he doesn’t feel like there is anything he needs to do around the house, so he can focus on his readings and writing his papers.

Consistency is very important. Boundaries and limits are, too. Knowing where to draw the boundary or where to set the limit is key. Prayer and Bible reading are the biggest keys in all of this.

I write all of this to share that God is so wonderfully patient. And His desire is for us to know Him and follow Him. Without prayer and Bible reading, though, I am unable to know or follow Him because I won’t know anything about Him or what He has to say. Really studying what I am reading and not just reading to check off my to-do list is something that is new for me, too. I tend to rush my Bible reading/study in the morning, completely forgetting what I’ve read just 10 minutes later. I am learning to take my time, read and reread the passage and pray over it. That helps me a lot with understanding and applying the truth in the passage.

So, this post wasn’t really a well planned post. Just some thoughts in my head about how God has been working me to be consistent in specific areas of my life even before I decided to pick a word for this year. And that the only way I would have come to this conclusion and really focused on this word and these areas is through prayer and Bible reading/studying. He is changing me, and I can see/feel it. I pray my husband and kids can see it, too.

I also pray that I continue to let Him change me.

 

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.”

Psalm 37:4-5

Menu Plan

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Almost forgot to post this for the week! This will carry us through to the 31st, when I will shop again (though I may need to run out for bananas and avocados before then). Lots of simple but filling dinners planned, which will make for a lot of yummy leftovers for lunches! Love when that happens!

Breakfast

Eggs x 3

Cereal x 3

Oatmeal (cooked on stove top with toppings added in)

Baked Oatmeal x 2

Energy Balls and yogurt

Granola bars and fruit

Lunch

Leftovers x 5

Ham Sandwiches 2

PB&J x 3

Snacky

Dinner

Family Dinner at Relative’s House

Frozen Pizza

Chicken Rice Casserole, Applesauce, Bread

Broccoli Cheese Soup, Rolls, raw veggies

Turkey Brats, Chips, Salad

Bacon Mac and Cheese, raw veggies, applesauce

Creamy Potato Soup, biscuits, salad

BBQ Meatballs, Brown Rice, Salad

Homemade Pizza (Yum!)

Scrambled Eggs and Toast

Snacks To Make:

Apples and Honey or PB

Frozen Banana Bites (banana chunks dipped in chocolate and then frozen)

Snack Mix (recipe to come soon)

 

Recipe: Baking Powder Biscuits

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We love bread. Can’t say it is the healthiest food to love, but we do. We especially love homemade breads. They are just so dang tasty. I prefer yeast rolls with dinners, but I don’t always have the time to make them for soup nights. As a runner-up, baking powder biscuits are super yummy. And if you make enough, you can enjoy them the next day for breakfast with butter and jam or as biscuits and gravy (my fave!).

I had been using a recipe from an old cookbook for biscuits, which were okay, but they seemed kind of dry, even with increasing the milk to make them drop biscuits. This newer-to-me recipe results in the perfect wet/dry ratio and consistency. I really like this one much better. I tweaked it just slightly to suit us, and I roll and cut out the biscuits instead of doing drop biscuits. That helps to keep their shape better.

Baking Powder Biscuits

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 TBSP baking powder

1 tsp salt

6 tsp cold butter

1.5 cups milk

Combine flour, baking powder and salt together. Cut in butter (in chunks), until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in milk until completely moistened. Dump onto floured surface and press/roll out to about 1/2 inch thickness. Cut whatever diameter you want for biscuits (I just use the ring from my canning supplies…perfectly big biscuit size!). Place on slightly greased cookie sheet and bake at 450 degrees for about 12 minutes (maybe a little more or less, depending on your oven).

I think this recipe makes about 12 or more biscuits (judging by the picture above), but now I can’t remember if I doubled it last time and ended up with 24 or even more than that. Regardless, it makes a lot. 🙂 And these biscuits are a great pair with a bowl of soup!

Enjoy!!

Recipe: Cranberry-Lemon Crumb Muffins

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I discovered a blog with many yummy baking recipes. After trying this recipe of her for Cranberry-Lemon Crumb Muffins, I am determined to go back and try more!

I love cranberries and I love lemon, so to have them together in a muffin was delicious. I did not tweak her recipe at all! These are perfect, to me, as they are. So, if you still have some cranberries in your fridge or freezer from all the holiday parties, this is the best way to use them.

 

Here is her recipe:

Cranberry-Lemon Crumb Muffins

  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, warmed to room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.; line a 12- cup muffin pan with paper cups.
  2. In a small bowl, blend together the sugar and the lemon peel. Set aside 1/2 cup.
  3. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon-sugar and 1/4 cup flour. With a fork, cut in 2 tablespoons of cold butter until the mixture is crumbly.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together 2 cups flour, the remaining 1/2 cup lemon-sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, butter, egg, and vanilla.
  6. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour. Stir until just combined. Fold in the cranberries.
  7. Use a cookie scoop or spoon to divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with the reserved crumb mixture. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the tops spring back when lightly touched.

After you have made these and loved them, check out her blog for more yummy goodness! I don’t know that she is actively blogging anymore, but it is still worth checking out!

Happy Weekend!!

Laundry Help

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A lot of moms see laundry as the never-ending, dreaded task that overwhelms and irritates. I, actually, don’t mind laundry. I love the smells associated with it, the end results, and the fact that laundry helps me know if certain children of mine are remembering to change their underpants regularly. 😉

While laundry is not a dreaded task for me, I totally get how annoying it can be. It is always there; if there are people living in your home, there is always laundry. Even the moment you have emptied the laundry baskets…someone has dirtied something. After struggling for a long time with keeping up with the dirty clothes, I have found some ways to stay ahead of the dirty game:

1.Don’t schedule one day for laundry.

Now, I know a lot of people swear by designating one day to do laundry. I used to do all laundry on Mondays – from the time we got married until about my third child. Every Monday, laundry was done. But, the thing that got me was when someone was sick…on a Monday. It would throw off my entire week. If I was feeling lousy or the kids had a stomach bug, Mondays were ruined. I would not get all the loads done I had planned, and then the whole rest of the week I was playing catch up, while more dirty clothes were piling up! I just couldn’t do it.

So, I started doing a load a day. Mondays are still pretty heavy laundry days, when I do 3-4 loads, but the rest of the week I do about a load a day. Even if it is a small, quick cycle load of towels, I do it. Why? Because if I wait and try to throw 7+ towels in with my Monday loads, I start to feel overwhelmed again. Here’s how a typical week of laundry loads goes…

Monday – 3 to 4 loads of clothing (darks, colors, lights, and undies/socks/undershirts)

Tuesday – kids’ bed sheets, usually two loads because that is five beds of sheets. And sometimes, if I need to wash someone’s comforter, it is another load or two.

Wednesday – my bedding. Sometimes just a load of my sheets and pillowcases, sometimes I do a second load of our machine-washable comforter (our best investment…a king-size comforter that can be washed at home and fits in the washer)

Thursday – usually all towels (bath, hand, kitchen) and washcloths. Sometimes a load of darks, if we have left the house a lot and the kids need jeans.

Friday – catch up on any growing piles – colors, underwear, etc.

Saturday – When I wash the kids’ comforters on the same day, it is usually a Saturday and it is five loads (one for each comforter). BUT, I don’t wash their comforters regularly, so Saturdays are usually just random laundry load days.

Sunday – No wash. At all. Too much going on with church in the morning and evening; I learned to steer clear of doing laundry on Sundays.

2. Follow through on a load or it will take over.

Seriously, how many times do we start a load in the washer and forget it? We have to run out for something or we start some kind of cleaning project and forget all about the clothes in the washer. Then it is 6:00PM, and we remember the load that has been sitting in there for 8 hours. Ugh! That has happened a few more times than I like here. So, once I start a load of laundry, I make a note (sometimes mental, but most times literally a note on a paper where I can see it) to check on it in 35 minutes, the average time for a regular load in our washer. Keeping track of the laundry load helps me remember to get it into the dryer, so I can start the next load or just to keep it from smelling yucky after sitting in a damp, enclosed washer drum all day.

The other part to the follow through is once it is washed and dried, I have to put the clean clothes in a basket and bring the basket to where I am. I can’t just put it back in the basket and leave it on top of the washer or dryer. I have to bring it with me in order to get it folded and put away. That whole “out of sight, out of mind” thing comes into play here. If I see the basket in the living room with me, I am likely to fold it and get it out of there because clutter annoys me…and a basket of unfolded clothes is clutter, to me. I will fold it, divvy up the kids’ clothing and send them away with their items to put in their drawers. Which leads me to my next point….

3. Laundry isn’t just for Mom.

I love serving my family. Honestly. It brings me such joy. BUT, I did not wear the 35 pairs of underwear in the wash…so I will expect the wearers to put their own items away (with the exception of my husband – he works hard away from home every day, so I don’t expect him to come home and do more work that I could have simply done when I put my own clothes away). Sometimes I ask my kids to help me fold the laundry, if I am crunched for time. Usually, though, I just expect them to take their pile of clean clothing and put it (properly) in their drawers and closets. This took a little practice to get going. I had a few kids that would take the whole stack of clothes (shirts, pants, undies, sock, dresses, etc) and just stuff them all into the same drawer. No good! I had to take them up to their rooms and show them how to correctly sort and put away their items…and then made it very clear that I expected this each time and would follow-up randomly to make sure they did it. Sometimes I actually remember to follow-up and make sure, other times I completely forget – but they don’t know that! 🙂

My expectations for my kids and laundry are:

  • they must get all dirty items into the large hamper in their bathroom. I have explained that wearing a t-shirt for 3 hours while just sitting and reading does not create a dirty item. They also understand that jeans may be worn more than one day, unless they went on a hike or were rolling around on the floor in a public place.
  • whomever puts clothing into the hamper and notices it is full is responsible to move the full hamper into my bathroom, so I can see it needs to be sorted and prepared to wash (I have 4 baskets in my bathroom for sorting clothes before I even get to the laundry room. It is super efficient for me.). If it is overflowing and no one brings it to my bathroom, I simply discipline the person with the clothing on top. Simple. 😉
  • they can help fold if they want (sometimes a few do want to), but only if they are going to actually FOLD and not just wad things up and stack them.
  • they must take their clean clothing and put it into the correct places in their rooms or they will be out of clothing to wear very quickly.

4.Not eveything on our bodies is dirty every day.

This might sound gross to some of you. Believe me, we are uber-hygienic and very wary of germs and dirtiness. BUT, we have had to lay some ground rules for what constitutes a dirty clothing item with the kids. If they wear jeans out of the house and go somewhere that they will be on the floor (library, church, etc), that item will go in the hamper at the end of the day. Shirts worn to AWANA go in the hamper because our children have this uncanny way of sweating with the slightest bit of physical activity at church. Pants and shirts worn at home on a boring school day can be worn a second day. If the kids were running around like maniacs in the basement, I will probably tell them to throw their shirt in the hamper. Pajamas get worn two nights before we wash them, unless someone has an accident or spills food on them during breakfast (ahem, Ethan!). Jeans can be worn 3 or 4 days around the house before we need to wash them.

I don’t know how you all feel about the dirtiness of clothes, but I think our clothes are a lot less dirty than we think on regular days at home. It is such a waste of water and energy to wash not-really-dirty clothing. AND it saves on how many items you actually need to have for each of your children (that is a whole other post, though, that I plan to write….decluttering the kids’ drawers). If we can really evaluate the clean versus dirty items at the end of the day, we might save ourselves some irritation by not having as much in the hamper. Socks and underwear are the exception – those get changed at least once a day. We have a few with very stinky feet, so sometimes a change in the middle of the day (when they have been sweating) is necessary. And we also have a few that have an accident – possibly when being tickled by a sibling – and need to change underwear. No names, though. 😉 But, seriously, clothes are usually durable enough and clean enough to go more than a day on the body before needing to be washed.

(Another exception may be the puberty stage. I suspect my boys will need to wash shirts more often when they reach that age; they sweat getting up from the couch now, so I assume the sweat and body odor will be enough to wash their clothes more frequently in the coming years! My girls haven’t been affected by this stage much, but I plan to be careful to avoid any embarrassing B.O. issues.)

There you have it – my super fabulous efficient way to get laundry done and not be overwhelmed by it. I cannot guarantee these things will work for you, but I know they work for us. And if you struggle with laundry (or just simply hate it), try these suggestions and see if maybe they’ll work for your family too!

Do you have a laundry system? Or do you just wing it each week??

What’s your biggest challenge with laundry? Do you have any tips to help other moms stay on top of it?