Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Recital Time

I'm so blessed to be able to maintain a small (but, elite, I would say LOL) violin studio.  I've been teaching for more than a decade now, and it's endlessly entertaining and instructive.  I love watching my students grow and do things they didn't think were possible.  I don't know if any of my students will go on to be professional musicians themselves, but I hope that some continue on with it through their whole lives, and that they all have a lifelong appreciation for music.  Twice a year I have a recital for my students and they get an opportunity to show off their hard work to proud parents, friends, and other family (and a proud teacher as well).

My end-of-year recital was in June this year, and we heard pieces ranging from Twinkle to a Vivaldi concerto

Monday, August 26, 2013

Recipe Share - Lentil Soup (Vegetarian or Not!)

This recipe is from my sister-in-law, who's a connoisseur of healthy recipes and living.  I modified it a bit, because I didn't have the pork sausage, and it tasted fantastic, so you can make this dish meatless, or if you'd like to, you can skip the yellow squash and add one pound of pork sausage instead.  If you can't get any yellow squash, just do two zucchinis.  I was surprised that the kids actually really loved this recipe. Pair it with an easy-peasy drop biscuit, and you've got a healthy, filling, and super cheap meal.  It's not particularily pretty, so I wouldn't serve it for company, but it's a perfect busy weekday dinner.

Lentil Soup
1 zucchini
1 yellow summer squash
7 c chicken broth (use homemade, if you have it)
1 1/2 c dried lentils
1 1/2 c chopped roasted red peppers
4 1/2 tsp molasses
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp pepper
dash each of dried thyme, basil, and oregano

Pour broth and lentils into a large pot.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 25 minutes or until lentils are almost tender.  Meanwhile, chop zucchini and squash into large pieces and sautee them in a small amount of olive oil, until almost tender. Stir zucchini, squash, roasted red peppers, molasses, red wine vinegar, and spices into lentils.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Serves 12

Friday, August 23, 2013

Recipe Share - Whole Wheat Maple Cashew Sesame Cookies

Necessity is the mother of invention!  Today I was low on all-purpose flour (an all-too common occurrence in this home because I still haven’t gotten on buying my 25lb flour bins for my pantry), but I had a bag full of whole wheat flour that had been open for the better part of a month without any use.  Whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour are definitely not interchangeable, though, so I was relieved to see an easy Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe printed on the back of the bag.  But, I’m sans choco chips.  And, to be honest, I’m not really a fan of the brown stuff in kids’ snacks.  I have messy eaters who have a napkin/washcloth phobia.  So, using that recipe as a base, I created what I think is an improvement all-around.

Whole Wheat Maple Cashew Sesame Cookies
3/4 cup granulated sugar
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp maple flavoring
1 egg
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup chopped cashews
2 tbsp sesame seeds 

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.  In large bowl, cream sugars, butter, vanilla, maple flavoring, and egg.  Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt.  Stir in cashews and sesame seeds.
2. On ungreased cookie sheet, drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart.
3. Bake 8-10 minutes or until light brown (centers will be soft).  Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks.

Makes approximately 4 ½ dozen.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Fat Girl Running

A horrible title, no?  But it's true.  I don't like to think of myself as the "f" word.  But I can't hide from it any longer.  I've struggled with body image issues (imagined or real) since puberty.  I come from a long generation of self-loathing women.  It's no good, and it doesn't square with the contentment I know that I'm supposed to find with my Lord.  This summer, something finally clicked.  The Lord doesn't care if I'm slender or conventionally attractive.  But He does expect me to take some care of this earthly body that he gifted me with, and to show some discipline in that arena.  It's truly, truly not about my weight anymore.  You know how I know that?  Because I haven't lost a pound since starting my exercise regimen almost three months ago.  And yet, I'm still at it - FatGirlRunning.  Because it's not about what I see in the mirror.  It's about what I feel inside (and I don't mean that in a mushy-gushy New Age way, I mean literally, how I feel physically stronger).  And I can do things I never dreamed of doing a mere six months ago, like run for 20 minutes without stopping or run for 8 miles in a week.  I'm both proud of and utterly humbled by this experience.  I'm proud because I've finally stuck with something, even though I'm not getting the results I feel I "deserve" (am I the only one who has to constantly dial back her expectations because they bring little but frustration and heartache?).  And I'm humbled because I truly did not do it on my own.  I wouldn't have had the strength.  Plain and simple.  It was His doing.  And he's started a work in me that he will see to completion.  I don't know yet what that completion will look like.  Maybe someday I'll lose the excess weight.  Maybe not.  That's blessedly besides the point anymore.  My vow to the Lord, with the world as my witness, is that I will not allow my lack of discipline and my self-indulgence to obstruct His work any longer.

Myself and my "little" brothers on our recent trip to Hawaii, at the top of the Diamond Head climb.

Recipe Share - Jelly Doughnut Muffins

In an attempt to put mind over matter over here, I’m pretending that it’s Fall.  And fall means yummy things baking in the oven.  The recipe has proven to be a tried and true favorite.  I’ve mucked it up, shorted and “longed” things, and still it turns out nummy every time.  It’s great for breakfast (am I the only one who cannot seem to make cereal last on my shelves from one Costco run to the next?), or as an afterschool snack.  Best of all, it showcases ingredients that most of us keep stocked in our pantry (that’s big for me, because I often do my baking on a whim, and it’s no fun to have to skip a great recipe because you don’t have the ingredients on hand).  If you are privileged enough to have access to homemade preserves and jams, like I do thanks to my mother-in-law, then this recipe is a must-try.

Jelly Doughnut Muffins
2 c flour
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
3/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 c sugar
1/2 c vegetable oil
1 egg lightly beaten
1 c milk
Jam (any flavor will do – plum, cherry, and pineapple/apricot are faves here)

¼  butter, melted
1/3 c sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

1. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon.  In a smaller bowl, combine sugar, egg, oil and milk.  Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.

2. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups half full; place 1 tsp jam on top.  Cover jam with enough batter to fill cups three-fourths full.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

3. Place melted butter in a small bowl; combine the sugar and cinnamon in another bowl.  Immediately after removing muffins from the oven, dip tops in butter, then in cinnamon-sugar.  Serve warm.

Makes 1 dozen

Friday, August 16, 2013

Colin Turns 6

Six year old boys are funny.  At least Colin is.  He was insistent that he didn't want a big birthday party and that he didn't want any themed decorations.  He wanted things to be green and he wanted a green cake with a smiley face on it.  So, withstanding my attempts to "glam" it up, that's exactly what he wound up with.  He was a happy camper because his party day was hot enough that they could swim all day in Nana & Papa's pool.  Summer birthday's are so easy-peasy when you have access to a free pool.  Happy 6th birthday, buddy!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

My Kindergarten Graduate

Something about kindergarten graduation just gets me.  I think its because kindergarten (at least at our elementary school) is a transitional year.  It's half-day, so I still had him home with me for lunch and naps.  And it was a good year - he grew academically by leaps and bounds!  I volunteered monthly in his classroom and got to know his classmates and his teacher.  So I was a bit emotional by the time the end of May rolled around.  After 14 years of having children, it's hard to come to terms with the idea that the tail end of my brood is really starting to grow up...

Colin and his kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Winslow

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Cecily Turns 4

Oops, I originally titled the post Cecily Turns 5!  Indeed it seems like she's years beyond her age, because she's so very grown up.  As opposed to Elle, who has a baby face, Cecily looks like a miniature adult.  And she's also a bit of a character as well.  Happy (late, since it happened in May) 4th birthday to my little Emerald!

She insisted on a My Little Pony Party

We celebrated with a backyard barbeque with family, including cousin Landon

Pinata time - only a butterfly would do, despite the fact that Mom tried to steer her towards a pony one in keeping with the theme.  Ah well...