Monday, June 28, 2010

Monday Menu ~ Nut Butter

***This is a re-post at the request of a friend.  I made this last night, and she called while I was making it.  She insisted on the recipe...and I insist you must try this!  I love, love, love it...still.  A piece of raisin bread with nut butter will be my breakfast everyday on vacation...except for the day when I am at Blueberry Hill eating my Danish yeast waffle with peach pie filling and coconut syrup.  My heart flutters at the mere mention of this waffle.  It's about the best thing you can imagine on your taste buds.  But I'm getting carried away again...back to the nut butter!!!!!

Okay, this is a bit of an odd ball recipe. You may read this and think you'll save the trouble and just buy yourself a jar of peanut butter. But, please, let me tell you that this is such a very yummy nut spread. We love this, and eat in on a whole variety of things. One thing in particular has become one of my new favorite foods. It was the last thing I ate before I ran my 5K. If that's not a testimonial, I don't know what is! This recipe came off another blog I read, MckMama, but I've tweaked some things and left some things out...what I usually do to a recipe.

This makes a huge amount, so although it's a bit of a mess to make, it will be worth your time and last you a long while. I would say this recipe took me about an hour from start to finish. And the amounts are somewhat random: not a recipe that is dependant on exactness! So have fun making this your own in whatever way suits your family!

if you are one to look closely at a picture, you'll notice tahini paste...I left this out...

Nut Butter

1 jar (28 oz.) peanut butter (I use Kirkland organic creamy)
1 big (80 oz.) tub of Adam's Crunchy peanut butter
About 1/2 of a 26 oz. jar of almond butter
1/2 cup-ish honey
3/4 cup-ish Nutella
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup raw almonds
1 cup pecans
1 cup walnuts
1 cup cashews

Put the sunflower seeds, almonds and nuts into a food processor, blender, or nut chopper (in small enough batches for your machine to handle it). Chop until they are fine, fine, fine, but not to the point of turning into a paste.

In a large bowl, combine the peanut butters, almond butter, honey, Nutella, and ground nuts. Mix very well. I use my hand mixer to easily get it all incorporated together.

Spoon the mixture back into the empty peanut butter jars and other random jars, store in the refrigerator.

This is such a great blast of protein and lots of the good kind of fats. We love to eat it on regular sandwiches, pancakes, french toast...whatever. But our very favorite way is on a piece of toasted raisin bread. You have to trust me. It is new favorite breakfast!

The most affordable way to make this is to stock up at Costco...peanut butters, almond butter, Nutella, and most nuts are a great buy at Costco.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Crackled But Not Shattered

Sometimes rocks come flying out of nowhere and leave you all dinged up.  What happened physically this evening to our sliding glass door is a lot like I feel on my insides.

Brad was just finishing mowing.  Took one more pass around the patio to clean up the scattered grass clippings and wham-o!!  Two rocks that were totally unseen came shooting out from under the mower, hit two spots on the slider, and the crazy crackling began.  The crackling, which sounds like rain on a tin roof, went on for about two hours.  Actually a peaceful sound, but left behind a mess of a door. 

This happened to us 4 years and 23 days ago.  Same door.  We looked up our invoice for the repair to remember who came to fix it.  The ouch to our finances is significant.  Doggone it.  Talk about crummy timing.

While we were waiting for the replacement glass last time, people actually thought it was pretty when they saw it.  Even the glass man said that people pay a lot of money to have that type of glass installed.  Too each his own, right?!

I've had some dings like this to my insides recently.  Something comes flying out of nowhere, totally unseen, hits sharply, and the crackling begins.  My "rocks" have been in the form of dishonesty and criticism.  Totally unexpected, from sources you should not have to brace yourself from.  But people are just plain imperfect, no way around that.  And my imperfection I'm sure has thrown my share of rocks in some way or another.  Friends will disappoint us, even cause hurt from time to time.  It confuses me, perplexes me, hurts me, and angers me. 

But I know a great Glass Man.  Only He can reglaze my heart with a new pane of tempered glass.  Glass that may crackle, but doesn't shatter.  Sometimes... most times... okay, every time, I wish He would just deflect the rocks and not let them strike.  I'm sure He deflects more than I'll ever know.  And I do know that I learn so much about His grace and restoration every time. 

So even though this is crummy timing (is it ever good timing??), I know that it is such a great reminder to me that things may crackle us, but they do not have to shatter us.  

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Today is the first day of summer break for us.  Already, this time is brimming with opportunities. 

A huge opportunity was dropped in Alex's lap.  With Debbie off to D.C. last week, she needed a willing father to drive her car out for her.  She is a blessed girl to have a father who is always very willing to do what he can to help his family.  So he left early this morning for a drive across the country to deliver the car.  And guess who's sitting in the passenger seat?  Yep, Alex.  On less than a day's notice, he happily climbed into that little Accord to drive many, many miles with his grandpa.  What a fabulous time for them to take a road trip!  I'm sure there are some great conversations going on, and lots of life lessons will be gently gained by this trip.  One great thing about Alex and his grandpa...this man knows how to have a genuine relationship.  He likes Alex.  He's interested in what Alex has to say.  He knows he has a lot to offer, but he also knows that Alex has a lot to offer.  He lets things be gained by relationship, not by telling.  We are thankful for this time they have together.  They plan to arrive in D.C. on Saturday, and Alex will fly home Tuesday, just in time to leave again on Wednesday.  Busy boy, but can you imagine a better way to be busy?  I can't wait to hear all his stories!

My girls are both taking the opportunity to clean out their closets and drawers.  Oh, my.  The volume of "stuff" that is coming out is incredible.  They have both grown so much this year.  And you'd think, having girls that are three years apart, that we'd be able to pass a lot of Brenna's things to Beth.  Nope.  Not working out that way.  They are too close in size.  They are too different in taste.  Shopping with them today was an exercise in patience and endurance.

After we took care of them, it was my opportunity to try to find a new swimsuit.  Ugh.  Ugh.  Ugh.  I just cannot say that enough.  I found one that I am satisfied with how it fits, but it sure is ugly.  I found more than one that was very cute, but when I put it on: ugh.  So I don't know which way to go.  Ugly or Ugh.  Maybe I'm delusional and they both are Ugh.  In which case I can dump the ugly and just have the ugh.  I don't know.  I brought home ugly to have Brad give me his opinion.  

And then, driving home, I had the opportunity for some much-needed humor when the topic of my kids future came up.  I was telling the girls that I couldn't believe they were now 7th and 4th graders.  One thing led to another and I was telling them how exciting it will be to watch what they pursue in their life, and how excited I am for their future.  ((Long ago, Brenna had told me that the things she will look for in her future husband is that he loves Jesus and is a good driver, because the whole idea of driving seems a bit intimidating to her, so she's not sure she wants to ever drive.  So her husband is going to have to drive her everywhere.  That was probably when she was 10.))  Today,  she was describing how she saw her future, her children, her job as a nurse, etc.  I said, "Well, I sure hope there is a husband in that picture."  "Oh, yes, he'll be the one driving me around!"  Call her Miss Daisy, but that girl is sticking with her plan!

I laughed, but then quickly gained control and sucked my tummy back in when the picture of me in the 3-way dressing room mirror flashed through my mind.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day

I could go so many directions with this.  I could be very thoughtful and mushy-gushy about Brad.  I really could.  And it would all be deserved. 

I could be introspective about fathers and my experience with a physical father, the confusion, hurt and difficulties that has come with that relationship. 

And I could then talk about how only through my relationship with my heavenly Father have I been able to come to peace with all that.

But, in a nutshell, I just did all that.  That, in all its conciseness, is where my thoughts are on Father's Day.  I am so in love with the father of my children.  And I am so blessed that my children have him.  And I will leave it all at that.

And I will take a hard right with the steering wheel and share pictures of our fun weekend!

My niece and her family were in town this weekend, and we had a fun time Saturday night playing with Hunter, Connor, and Kaylee.  I got some great baby-snuggling time, which I looooovvvveeeed.  And at some point shortly after this picture was taken, a giant fingerprint smear appeared on the lens of our camera.  We did not know it was there until we looked at all the pictures.  So, from here on out, the pictures have a funny haze on them.  Bummer.

The boys were quite smitten with Brenna!

Here you go, Connor!  I promised you a picture of Pooh Bear!

Ben, Stephanie, Hunter, Connor and Kaylee

Thanks for the was so great to see each of you!

And then it was Father's Day...

Brad and his girls

This is when we were still dry and warm.

We got cheap bleacher seats for this game, thinking we would spend much of the game wandering around Safeco and checking things out.  We were the top row of our section...beautiful view, I think.  But I forgot my glasses so my "view" was even hazier than this picture.

This was the power strip right behind our seats.  We told the kids that the red button was what controlled the opening and closing of the roof.  Only one bought that story, though.

This was the scene in the bullpen minutes before the game started.  Pep-talk?  Prayer?  It's working, boys...keep it up! (And, for the record, I think it was prayer.  They talked for a bit, took their hats off, put their heads down...good men.)

Then, we struck gold!  Our too-close-to-just-be-friends friends made a last-minute trip up to the game this morning, texted us that they were there with empty seats all around them, and we got to advance up to some sweet seats, with a clear view of the jumbo-tron for my replay-viewing pleasure!

So our kids got to sit with their friends, and we got to sit with our friends, and it was just an extra fun time because of it!  Great to be with you for a little appetizer of some great times just ahead!

And then we headed back to the train...I didn't mention that we got soaked walking from the train to Safeco.  Drenched.  It's the middle of June, and my 3 layers, including a turtleneck, were not quite enough.  It's the middle of June.  53 degrees when we arrived at Safeco.  Crazy.  So the warm train after the game felt great.  So great that Brad let his exhaustion take over.  (Despite the lady with a loud voice telling her friend her magic formula for teaching her dog not to bark.  And the cheap rate she found for

Anyway, then out to dinner and home...exhausted and happy.  So glad to have this amazing man to honor on this day!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Things I Meant To Blog About in June

This will, once again, be a post filled with randomness.  Lots of fun things or funny things have happened so far in June, and each I could make its own post.  But life has been getting in the way of that, so I'm condensing it into this.

Brenna and Julia's science experiment presentation:

Simply a lovely picture of Beth and a very happy Edgar:

Alex had some friends over to celebrate his birthday, and I didn't have any candles for the cake.  I thought it wasn't a big deal, not thinking he would care if he blew out candles.  Plus, have you ever thought about how gross it is that people blow all over food you are about to eat?  What other food would you ever let someone do that to and still enjoy it?  And of all things, why would we defile cake in that way??!!  No thank you for the invisible particles of spittle and who knows what germs all over the cake I am about to eat.  Anyway, the boys insisted Alex had to have a candle.  So I improvised and lit the propane lighter thingy that we use to start the barbecue:

And this is what Alex requested for his birthday dinner: clam chowder in a bread bowl.  I do think it was the best clam chowder I have ever made.  And I also think it's reflective of our "Spring" weather, that hot soup and bread sounded so good!

And this was a great moment, too:  Beth said something to Alex and I noticed that she raised her left eyebrow when she said it.  (The same one I am so skilled at raising!)  I said, "Beth!  I had no idea you could raise your eyebrow!"  And she said, "Well, Mommy, I would never do it to you!!"  This, I'm sure, comes from the fact that she only sees that look when she's crossed the line and I'm giving her the "You have crossed the line and you better not make one more move in that direction, missy!".  So apparently, this is a look that you just don't give your mother:

And then she got pretty tickled with herself when she realized how funny she was:


And, back to Alex's birthday, this was the dessert we had:


This, my friends, is the S'More Brownie.  My, oh, my.  Scrumptious!  You must try it:  just mix up your favorite brownie mix for an 8x8 pan.  Spread half the batter in the pan.  Top with whole graham crackers, however many it takes to cover.  Then top the graham crackers with whole Hershey bars (I think I used three or four).  Then top the Hershey bars with 16 large marshmallows, turned on their sides.  Now pour the remaining brownie batter over the marshmallows and bake.  The marshmallows get all toasted like you've roasted them over a fire.  They are powerfully rich and powerfully good!  And Alex was quite impressed.

And just look at how big these three are growing!  This is what the end of 9th, 6th, and 3rd grade looks like in our house.  Yes, there are three years between those two girls.  Yes, Beth is tall for her age.  Yes, she knows that.  She hears it a lot.  She told someone recently that she was kinda tired of hearing people say that.  Can't blame her one bit.  See the picture on the wall just over Brenna's head?  I swear that seems like last year to me.

And here are two of Beth's close friends, Maddy and Grace, at their final choir concert early this month.  Terrible picture, terrible lighting, but sweetest girls and great friends.  Third grade has been so great.

And finally there was Brenna's final band concert of the year!  This concert represented the last music event of this school year, in a year that was loaded with music events for our family.  Their music is a delight to us, and we are so proud to be an audience for our kids!

And now we are down to having only 1.5 days left in the school year!  I turned in all the Passport certificates today, turned in all my reimbursement receipts, and feel like a big boulder has been lifted off of me!  Love the feeling of wrapping up big projects and checking them off the list.

Brenna was so tired yesterday...she was actually moved to tears.  "I'm just overwhelmed and I just want to be done with the year and let my brain relax!"  She's that way.  She puts in so much of herself and works so hard in school.  She's just done.  Yeah, I get that.  We are all ready for our brains to relax, huh?!

I finally finished "The Help" and I cannot recommend it enough!  It is so good.  It is so going to be a movie one day.  You must read it.  A great book for summer...and summer's coming!

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Road to D.C.

Goodbyes are so hard.  I do not like them at all.  I'm not mature about them at all.  I know all the encouraging, "right" things to say to someone else, but when it's me I just plain don't like them. 

This weekend I had to say goodbye to one of my very favorite friends.  It's not a final goodbye by any means, but we are shifting, again, into a long-distance relationship.

Debbie and I met way back in the 3rd grade (Beth's age!!).  When we first met, as I recall, it wasn't love at first sight.  But we became friends and stayed that way, driving each other crazy at some points, drifting at some points, but always coming back to the center, to the friendship.  Her mom and my mom became good friends, close prayer partners.  And Debbie and I continued to grow closer over the years, ultimately she became my sister.

She was with me when each of my 3 babies was born.  She was the photographer, cheerleader, encourager, the comic relief.  And as I became a mom, she became a wonderful auntie.

And, now, a bittersweet answer to prayer has turned her path towards Washington D.C.  She has an exciting, adventurous job awaiting her.  And she is an exciting, adventurous gal, so it's a great fit.

Two weeks ago, Brad began the job of putting down a tile floor in her master bath, getting the place all fit to be a rental for a season.  This weekend, we went back for Brad to finish the floor and me to help pack and load her Pod. 

Here are the floor shots:

day two

day three. who is that cute tile guy?

the final product ~ nicely done, Brad!

And, bless her heart, Debbie has never met a bag, a trinket, a shirt, a letter, or anything that she has not become emotionally attached to.  Not a hoarder, but certainly a hang-on-to-it-er.  So I led her through the steps of saying goodbye to her 8th grade "Ciao" bag that looked every day its age.  We worked ourselves silly, and it was a joy to give her that parting gift.  We laughed a lot.  We cried a lot.

Here are the packing shots:

this is the empty pod, when we arrived in the morning

Deb explaining to Mary why she "needed" to keep something

an example of something she "needs" to keep

the pod when we left: it has since been re-shuffled and added to

The goodbyes:

Deb & Alex

This is what two exhausted gals look like when they've been crying and hugging goodbye

GREAT stuff ahead for Debbie, I'm sure of it.  Just the next chapter coming up.  But I sure hate those goodbyes.  Even though I know it's a "See ya soon".

Friday, June 11, 2010

It Feels Like Space Mountain All Over Again

Friday evening, thank you so much for coming. 

I am wiped out on this lovely Friday evening when the sun has finally emerged.  Beyond tired.  Sleepy tired and fatigued tired and brain tired.  Just wiped out.  Have I mentioned I am tired?  This "school winding down" thing is not feeling at all like a winding down.  All the "lasts" are pulling us in too many directions right now.  Last concerts.  Last projects.  Last events that make me feeling like high-fiving the checking off of the event rather than the achievement.  We've all been there.  Maybe you are there now with me.  And as one thing winds down, another is winding up.  I feel like I have too many balls in the air, and I am just a thread away from dropping them all. 

My sweet husband took the kids out to dinner and I stayed home just to have a couple hours of a quiet house.  I haven't had a quiet house in...too long.  And it felt so good that I was going to doze off and take a nap.  And then the phone rang and someone wants me to participate in some sort of consumer survey...ugh.

Now that I'm sitting still, I realize that this week has felt exactly like the Space Mountain ride that my family convinced me I would LOVE, and they were oh-so wrong.  This crazy ride whips you through something (I don't know what because it's pitch-black dark) while all these "stars" go blurring by at a dizzying speed.  And then you get whipped from one side to the other, snapped back to center, only to be whipped back in another direction.  I hated it.  I could not see my children to know if they were okay (although they rode it 4 times before convincing me to join them).  I was afraid to even scream, for fear that something other than a scream would come flying out of my mouth.  If that ride had lasted even 20 more seconds, there would have been an ugly scene.  I came off pasty white and moving very slowly.  I had to sit still on a bench for more that an hour after that ride just to convince my stomach that the cruelty was over.  Yep, I was one of "those" that you notice, give a glance of pity, and then take a wide path around them in case anything projectile is about to happen. 

So that's me right now.  I'm finally sitting still, convincing my mind that it can be still.  I don't need to think about tomorrow right now.  I don't need to think about Monday right now.  I certainly don't need to worry about the fact that vacation is creeping up on me and I feel incredibly, overwhelmingly unprepared.  I just want to go there.  Show up and just have fun.  Kind of like my kids get to do, I guess.  But so much to do between now and then, and nothing of it needs to be done tonight.  Tonight I will just be still and enjoy that I stepped off the ride, even if only for the night. 

And it's all good stuff that's bringing the craziness right now.  I'm thankful, truly thankful, for that.  I'm happy that my life is filled with kids that make this time of year crazy.  I'm happy that this job has worked out in a way that brings me great joy.  Thankful, thankful, thankful.  Thankful that I have a son that just cracks me up with his movie version of Romeo and Juliet that features the cast of Star Wars.  Thankful that all 3 kids fill my ears and heart with their music.  I'm thankful for my kids' happy social lives that keep my taxi-van in motion.  Thankful to have friends that I love so deeply it physically hurts my heart to say goodbye.  I'm thankful that there is no trauma or tough situation that is making our life crazy.  I fully embrace that I am blessed beyond measure to have this type of craziness right now.  I would have it no other way.

I'm going to bed early tonight.  I'm getting up early in the morning and having another crazy day.  A day that will be very tiring in a different sort of way.  More on that later.  I don't want to go there during this still moment.

And this picture reminds me of something very important:  super heroes are for Disneyland.  They are for cartoonists to draw and animators to bring to life.  They are a character to pose with at Disneyland.  I love Mrs. Incredible, I dearly love her.  But I am not her.  I'm just me.  And I'm perfectly content with that.  And perfectly content to check out of the busyness for this evening and just be still.

And just for kicks, look at what the last two years has done to Alex:

Now that's incredible!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Mother & Daughter Meet Mrs. Wilson & Seraphina

What a weekend!!  I had the pleasure of accompanying Beth on a weekend trip to a horse and pony farm with her Girl Scout troop.

I had to choose to put my big girl pants on and go have a fun time, because camping is not typically something I'm really eager to do.  But it was important to have this special time with Beth, and it ended up being everything I knew it would be, in terms of no sleep and gross germy-creeping-me-out things.  Like no running water.  And port-a-potties as the sorry excuse for a toilet.  Shudder.  But it exceeded what I thought it would be in terms of great memories with Beth. 

Here is a glimpse of the memories made:

this is the "covered wagon" ~ our accommodations for the night

inside the covered wagon.  the sleeper in the blue sleeping bag snored loudly enough to keep any threats far away from our wagon.  little to no sleeping went on in here for me.

how many Girl Scouts does it take to get Maddy on the rock??

ah...finally ready to pose!

of course, there was  food to eat...

...and crafts to make...

...and s'mores to make...

...and s'mores to eat

(have you tried a s'more with a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup in place of the Hershey Bar??  it's my specialty.  it will rock your world)

There were classes to take...

...snuggles to sneak...

and then:

finally, the horses to ride!!

Here is Beth on her horse, Mrs. Wilson.

Beth said, "I love that horse.  We really connected."

She is a very sweet girl.  Mr. Wilson must treat her well.

And here I am aboard Seraphina.

Seraphina was insisting on a little snack before we hit the trail and protesting my effort to tell her no.  I was wondering what I'd gotten myself into.  She was actually a very good girl to me.  She knew what to do even when I didn't.  I sang to her during the entire lesson in the arena.  "Seraphina, Seraphina, loves to ride in the arena.  Seraphina, Seraphina, you're a good girl, Seraphina!"

Come to think of it, maybe this brief revolt was her expression of, "PLEASE LET IT STOP!"

Then, we hit the trail for a beautiful, long ride through the woods.  I loved every part of it.  There was one part of me that didn't love it, but I'm sure that part will be as good as new in a few days.  Owie, Owie, Seraphina!

Our sweet girls got us back safely.  It was sad to say goodbye. 


But it was sure nice to meet these sweet girls, and to spend the weekend with my sweet girl!