Tuesday, February 24, 2015

10 months and walking...

Caroline is walking, and she is getting into everything. I repeat everything.

I had been waiting for her to grow into this adorable dress gifted to me by a friend. I tried it on her today and it finally fits! I now want to go buy her all new clothes from baby Gap. Ha, I'll keep dreaming. It must be the weather- but I am in the mood to buy new everything. Furniture, clothes, baby clothes, bedroom bedding... and the list goes on. Have you ever went make-believe shopping? It's great fun! Add everything you ever wanted to your online shopping cart and then don't buy anything. It's a good way to get shopping out of your system for the day.

Here are her 10 month photos...







She found out how to get off her seat and 
then it was over. 


Hope

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Visit

I just came back from visiting my sister, Charity, in Indiana for a week. I hadn't been to visit her since she moved there in 2012, so it was high time I did. It was so nice to see her home so I can visualize things when she talks to me on the phone.

Here are photos from our week. Of course, there are none of us together. Not sure how that happened. I guess we were focused on our children.

 I'll start with a mini home tour. Her home is quite charming.






I just had to do a mini shoot of Caleb Paul. 
They just don't come any cuter than this.







I was amazed how well these two played together.
They had their spats, but overall did really well.

Miss you guys already!
 Hope

Friday, February 6, 2015

Pancakes

I'm blogging in the afternoon while my baby naps. Dreams do come true. I usually have too much housework to do. I could be cleaning out closets and drawers- but who wants to do that?

I like pancakes. Good, fluffy, pancakes made from scratch. I had an old faithful pancake recipe and my sister begged me to try this one. This recipe is now my new favorite.  

Don't turn away when you see it has beaten egg whites. Mind over matter, it doesn't take long to beat two egg whites.


 Fluffy and ready for a shower of maple syrup.

Pancakes 

2 cups + 2 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs, separated
Milk, place 2 egg yolks in a measuring pitcher and fill up to 2 cups
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 egg whites, beaten

Mix together dry ingredients. 
Stir in milk, eggs and melted butter.
In a separate bowl, beat egg whites and then fold into batter.

Fry on a hot griddle until done.

Enjoy!
Hope

Sunday, February 1, 2015

a Ladies Tea

Yesterday I was in charge of a ladies tea for our church. We are hosting the BMA, Ministerial Enrichment Weekend here in Virginia.

Here are a few photos from the event. It was all a blur to me since I had been fighting the flu since Thursday. After I came home I jumped into a tub full of hot water and then crawled in bed. I texted Joshua to come and take my temperature- since I felt like I was burning up. The thermometer read 104 so we spent the next couple hours applying cold rags to my forehead. Thankfully it dropped after that and I was able to sleep. I hope and pray that I didn't pass this awful bug on to any of these dear ladies.


There were around 130 ladies.

We did buffet style due to the number of ladies.

The danties.

 
The Menu

Finger Sandwiches
 Chicken Salad with cranberries and pecans
Cucumber with a dill yogurt spread
 Radish with lemon butter

 Drop Scones
 Blueberry
Cinnamon Chip
with clotted cream

Chocolate cups filled with berries in a light syrup and fresh mint

Assorted tea cookies

Tea's
British Breakfast
Peach Black tea
Mint Medley 
 

Blessings,
Hope

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Ten Tips to a cleaner fridge

I recently had a friend tell me that I should write a blog post on how I keep my refrigerator so organized and clean. She said it inspired her to see that it was even possible.

This post is just for you, my friend.

I never forsaw a blog post about this- but if I can help you on your refrigerator journey, I am happy to share the little bit I do to keep my fridge organized and clean.

This is a picture of my refrigerator today, and I did not clean it out for this photo.



Ten Tips

1. Buy less. If you have a full and messy fridge, you are buying too much food. I think this where discount grocery stores get you in trouble. You buy hickory, honey and spicy BBQ sauce because it's .99. You just need one kind, find a brand you like and stick with ONE bottle. Same way with salad dressings, and many other condiments. Keep it simple.

2. Adding new items. You can try news things- but just one at a time. See how fast it gets eaten and if it should become a weekly staple. I recently added hummus and love it for afternoon snacks- but the week it doesn't get eaten, off the list it goes.

3. Use inventory. Make a meal based on what you have in your fridge. Remember that trying new recipes often means more ingredients in your fridge you wouldn't usually use.

4. Don't fix too much food. Learn how to cook enough food for one meal plus one container of leftovers. Leftovers get you in trouble. They take up space and in most cases get thrown out to the dog after they mold. Just eliminate this step by feeding it to the dog first. I am not promoting waste- but if you know its not going to get eaten, simply feed it to your dog or chickens. This saves you washing a slimy, stinky dish.

5. Be a smart shopper. Think, what is on the agenda for the week? If you have a busy week and have plans that involve food, don't buy that whole gallon of milk, buy a half gallon.

6. Categorize your drawers and shelves. I have a cheese & meat drawer and a vegetable drawer. Before I go grocery shopping I peek in the drawers to make sure we have what we need.

7. Know your fridge. Learn to know what you use on a weekly bases. This is very important.

8. Wipe. Hmmm... we all know how to do this. If a jar pulls up slowly due to goo or pickle juice, get out your dish cloth and wipe away. If you spill something, wipe it up right away. I will often take my dish cloth and wipe off the shelves and fridge doors. This only takes a minute and is well worth your time. It's called fridge maintenance.

9. Keep a grocery list. This not only keeps your fridge from having duplicates but it also keeps you sane while shopping. Who wants to guess what they need while grocery shopping. If you don't have a list you end up buying more than you needed.

10. Organize once a week. Had a busy week? Your fridge looks a mess? Grab a soapy cloth and open your fridge door. Start by taking out items that need to be thrown away and then organize what you want to keep, wiping shelves and drawers as you go. Having a clean fridge is about equal to getting a facial- it just gives you that extra lift.

Blessings,
Hope

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Kombucha

I wrote this blog post for the Daughters of Promise magazine and wanted to share it here in case any of you had questions.

I was first introduced to kombucha from a guy I worked with. He kindly gave me a scoby and a list of instructions on how to make it. I remember reading the list over and over making sure I did every step just right so I wouldn't kill my prized scoby. The first months of kombucha brewing were rough. It either tasted like bad sweet tea or vinegar. But then, one day, I hit it just right, and my life hasn't been the same since. It was smooth, fizzy, and a little sweet. I poured it over a glass of ice and the fizz rose along with my confidence. We now drink kombucha in place of sweet tea with our meals. 

Brewed kombucha ready to drink.

Kombucha is a bit like friendship bread, the mother 'scoby' grows with each brew and can be peeled off to share with friends. 

The world wide web is filled with many ways to brew kombucha. You just have to start and find which way works best for you. I do not claim to be an expert on the matter, but I will share with you the way that works best for me.

Here is my recipe. 

Kombucha

1 scoby
1 gallon Lipton tea bag or 8 tea bags
1 1/2 cups regular sugar
ice cubes
1 1/2 cups starter tea, saved from previous brew
1 gallon pitcher

1 gallon glass jar 
plastic funnel
snap cap bottles
 
Two kombucha no no's; 1. Never use metal utensils. 2. Don't wash kombucha equipment or your hands with anti-bacterial soap. It can harm your kombucha.
 
To start you will need a scoby. A scoby is the living home for the bacteria and yeast that ferments your tea. You can purchase one online or buy raw kombucha and grow one yourself. Just pour a cup or so in the jar and cover with a loose cloth, then set it in a dark place for a week or so until a scoby forms on the top.

 This is what a healthy scoby looks like.

Okay now that you have your 'scoby' it really is a simple process. It's just like brewing sweet tea! I do know if you do not brew your tea well, it does make a difference on how your kombucha tastes. Bad tea, bad kombucha.

Here is how I brew my tea.

Boil water in 1.5 qt. saucepan, then remove it from the heat and add one gallon size Lipton tea bag. Push the bag down to make sure its covered in water, cover and let it steep for 10-15 minutes. I like my tea strong. 

Scoop 1 1/2 cups of sugar into pitcher and add three handfuls of ice cubes on top. Then pour your steeped tea over the ice. I have found pouring tea over ice makes better tea. Stir well until sugar is dissolved. Then fill up the pitcher with warm water so you don't have to wait until your tea is room temperature. This may seem like a lot of sugar but the sugar is what ferments and by the time it's done brewing the sugar sweetness reduces. The longer you brew your tea the more the sugar minimizes.

Pour your brewed tea into your glass jar and place your scoby on top. Cover your jar with a cloth and place in a dark place. When fruit flies are in season cover tightly with a rubber band. Since you have no starter tea the first batch will take 5-7 days. A regular brew with starter tea takes 3 days. On the fifth day start tasting it to see how it's coming. It will start to lighten in color. I can't write how its supposed to taste. That is something you will learn with time. Some folks like it strong and more vinegar like, I like it smooth with only a teeny tiny bite at the end.


 Brewed and ready for bottling.

Now that your Kombucha is brewed it's time for bottling. If you want fizz you need to have a bottle that seals well. I love these snap cap bottles I purchased from my mother-in-laws kitchen store, The Kitchen Kupboard. 



With a funnel add 1/2 tsp. sugar to your bottles. This helps feed the yeast so carbonation can be made. This is called the second fermentation. Some folks flavor theirs with fruit on the second ferment. The fruit has natural sugar so you won't need to put any sugar in it. I like plain kombucha the best but if you want to flavor yours, the sky is the limit. Remember to save 1 1/2 cups of starter tea for your next brew. Brew your next batch while you are bottling your previous batch. I have tried letting my starter tea set with my scoby a couple of days until I brewed the next batch and it does not work. The starter tea becomes too strong and makes your next batch taste like vinegar.


You can use a funnel to fill your bottles or if you have a beverage 
dispenser the spigot saves you of a lot of mess. 

Return your bottles back to a dark shelf and let set two more days. After two days they are ready to open and drink. Be sure to open them over the sink in case it spews over. If you havent drank your bottled kombucha within a week you may need to burp your bottles. I had a bottle explode and it was a sticky mess!

Pour over ice and enjoy.

So what are the health benefits of kombucha? I'll give you the short version. It adds good bacteria to your system, which helps keep things running smoothly and regular. It is a great replacement for those who drink soft drinks. It has fizz just like soda and is healthy to boot. It's also known to help with weight loss, joint care, cancer prevention, and it gives you energy. As for a personal testimony, my skin is clearer than it has been in years.

If you are tired of kombucha brewing you can take breaks of up to 6 weeks,  by simply allowing the kombucha to brew in a batch of fresh sugar tea and starter tea for that length of time. Of course, don't use that tea for starter tea. You will need to start with fresh tea just like you did to get started.

Whew, I thought I said kombucha brewing was easy. It is, but there is an art to brewing it with lots of fizz. If your's doesn't turn out the first time, keep brewing! It took me months to master it and some brews still turn out differently for me.


Happy Brewing!

Hope



Thursday, January 22, 2015

Faith's Birthday Brunch

Today was my oldest sister, Faith's, birthday so I threw a brunch in her honor. She deserves much more- but a brunch will have to do.




 Sausage, mushroom and swiss egg roll.

 Suetta's delicious dessert.

 
 

Happy Birthday!
Hope