A Cloud Of Insecurity

A cloud of insecurity raining over my head calling me Eeyore from Winning The Pooh. Head hung low, shaking my head from side to side trying to escape what this cloud is dropping upon me.

Is life hard, kind of, but not where it was the past three years. Or maybe that’s it…maybe that’s where it all comes from. These past three years of heavy downpour, torrential downpour finally gaining suns first bright beams. A flower bud popping through the surface as if the rain has finally let up. The clouds stay low from the evening dew but still the sun shines through.

Eor

I had to post this picture as it depicts really well the gloomy rain cloud with sun shining all around.

These past 26 days have been a miracle. Truly a miracle. This has been my long awaited miracle for our family but why am I struggling to shake the weight from my shoulders? Why can’t I seem to pull myself from the covers in the morning that rest upon me allowing me to escape for a few hours. The sound of pessimism begins to fill my mind with things that do-not-matter.

I’ve prayed, fasted, yearned, pleaded and cried out to God on my face many times and God finally looked down upon me and showed His glory; He choose to lift my rain cloud and bless my family eternally. Though this miracle has eternal ramifications, our worldly hope and despair still press upon us leaving me feeling conquered but with Hope. Let me say that again, the hope of God with the weight of the worldly sin still pressed strongly upon me. God is present though we live in a sinful world. God doesn’t necessarily take circumstances away but shines through the circumstances producing a humble heart ready to glorify God no matter the pain. We long for God the most, in the midst of our “shattered dreams.”

Doubt. Fear. Insecurity. Rage. Pride. Anxiety. These all still reign in my head. How do I release the struggle of my flesh when I finally received this long awaited miracle after three long years of seeking God’s face?  I’m beginning to understand, though 26 days later, that this rain cloud following me around is a rain cloud of repair. Repairing my soul, my trust and my hope. Putting the pieces back together of insecurity and doubt. Forcing me to go that extra step saying “God, I still trust You. Though my three years of misery are coming to an end, I will still trust in the next three years ahead!” These are the new giants in my life, I need to accept them for they will make me stronger still.

I’ve prayed only a few times in life that the Lord do whatever it takes to bring my long awaited miracle. The fear and dread of praying that also plagued me. “Do you know what you could be asking for?” “Do you know what Job went through?” “Do you really want to release that question and battle the consequences? Boy you think you got it bad now, well that prayer will make it get 10x’s worse.” These are question I had to face when I finally got to the end of myself pleading with the Lord. Fine, take it all as long as you fulfill Your promise.

I will be honest, I was scared to death but more scared to not pray it. At that particular point in my life, I knew I had no option but to pray this prayer and earnestly await the response. Was the response easy, by no means, but was God glorified through it, absolutely. What Satan intends for evil, God turns around and turns to good. God be glorified!

The battle raged and is still raging, though I feel the presence of not only the Holy Spirit but the Angels surrounding my family with their swords fighting the unseen battle. I feel it and can truly sense the deep dark battle fighting for my life. I know it’s there and it is a continual reminder that God is faithful! God is who He says He is. Though my life may pass me by, I cling to the Father up above as that is the only thing that satisfies and fulfills my soul. Nothing else matters!

My husband and I have both come to the end result that nothing matters. Say it with me “nothing matters.” What a release from bondage and security to truly believe nothing else matters. The King of the universe has conquered evil and reigns on high. Amen. My rain cloud is simply that, a rain cloud. It wont last forever, it sees sunny days and gloomy days and both are okay. God is growing me in the midst of what I call life. Life is anything and everything of what I ever had pictured the past 28 years of my life and I am thankful. Though it may be utterly painful at times, those are the times I see God move and bring me closer to Him.

These next 26 days will be an adventure. I use that word because past circumstances do not simply disappear. They can diminish and eventually the fire will be put out, but through knowing Christ and experiencing our shattered dreams that bring us closer to Him, we still have to go through the trenches while we live in this sinful world. Putting the pieces back together as when Humpty Dumpty fell to the ground and shattered to a million pieces. Who is the one that could perfectly heal Humpty? Christ. And that is right where we need to be; a malleable heart seeking the face of God.

When we begin to scratch the surface of who God is even in the midst of our shattered dreams, we can hold our rain cloud high to the sky and know God is there with us and wants the best for us. We can learn more about ourselves and more about who Christ has made us to be in Him.

I love my family, love my friends, long for fellowship, long to know Christ more and to share Him with the world on a very honest level. But most of all, most of all, I yearn for heaven. I never yearned for heaven as I do now. Not in a way that I’m hating life and suicidal, but in a way that I hate the evil of this world and want to share Christ with everyone and head to heaven holding hands with my family and enter into the real world. The world without pain, tears and sorrow. The world I can share peacefully with my family and truly know and understand what it means to experience unconditional love. A love so pure that even with my own family I have the tiniest glimpse in comparison to heaven. I can’t fathom a love so pure. Having a family is the closest I can get to feeling this accomplishment on this side of heaven.

So friends, my shattered dreams may appear shattered but in all reality they are perfection. God’s perfection. He turns ashes into beauty, literally beauty and I am blessed. Things I never thought could happen in a million years literally has already happened in my 26 days of a miracle. Praise God for His Son and praise God for His faithfulness.

Zucchini Oat Bread

 Zucchini Oat Bread

Fall in love with your favorite breads for Autumn. This bread will be added to your list of favorites if it’s not already on there.

Homemade, moist and tasty. You can’t get much better than that.

If you are a bread lover such as myself, you will absolutely fall in love all over again. A warm slice with some butter spread on top makes this a wonderful breakfast or snack!

I must say I made this when my garden was producing zucchini quite well. All of a sudden a month quickly passes by and I realized my garden had been forgotten and despised. I have dreaded the garden as of lately. Overgrown and messy makes me promptly avoid this section of our yard. Unfortunately my despise and hatred is only making it look worse.

Due to my distaste of our garden as of lately, I have had no more zucchini grow, it must sense my hatred for it right now and my utter lack of care. My watermelon got eaten by some animal and we have yet to try any watermelon this season. My beans are overgrown so much so that they taste rubbery and my tomatoes have split due to the rain. What a mess. This is what makes me walk away. Oh the cycle I have created.

Enough of my rant, zucchini producing or not, there’s a store right around the corner which will allow my continual making of this bread; no garden needed. :)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of shredded zucchini
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 cups flour (Or whole wheat flour)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp of baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

Use a food processor to shred the zucchini.

IMG_6088

In a stand mixer combine eggs, oil, vanilla, sugar and cinnamon. Mix very well.

Add in dry mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until combined.

Fold in the zucchini with a spatula.

Grease 2 bread pans and split the mixture between the two.

Bake at 375 for 40-50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. All ovens are different. My oven is on the cooler side and everything takes longer. So start with the least amount of time and use the toothpick check to conquer the right time. :) 
IMG_6490

Allow to cool for ten minutes or so. Cut a slice and smother with butter! Enjoy!

Quick Homemade Croutons

Quick Homemade Croutons 

IMG_6055

My husband grew up eating homemade croutons all the time. So when I purchased croutons awhile ago, he refused to eat them. I used to think he was crazy until he made them one evening and I was forever sold.

Than, just the other night we had my family over for dinner and everyone wanted them as soon as Michael mentioned it. He made them yet again and we all ate them as is and loved them, as well as topping our salad with this delicious crunch.

They are super easy and taste really good with my homemade english muffin bread (see below).

Goodridence to store bought croutons. Hello homemade goodness! Your guests will be impressed!

Ingredients:

Turn oven to broil or 550 degrees. Cut bread into medium chunks and place on a foil lined baking sheet.

Drizzle with EVOO, garlic salt and sea salt all to taste!

IMG_6051

Place in the oven and broil 2-3 minutes or until lightly browned. Toss croutons to toast the bottom of them as well! An additional 1-2 minutes.

IMG_6053
These croutons are perfectly crunchy without busting a tooth and are healthier than the 50 ingredient croutons in the store AND taste phenomenal.

If you do not have an impressive salad for dinner guests, please make these as a perfect distraction. You will get compliments on these easy little suckers.

Moutwatering Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Mouthwater Pulled Pork Sandwiches

The weekend started promptly with my sister and her beautiful family coming to visit. We had not only the best time and memories spent, but we also enjoyed wonderful food including these pulled pork sandwiches. They were mouthwatering goodness!

While they were here we enjoyed wonderful conversations and time well spent with one another. Times like these make me appreciate family and what it stands for. Family is so crucial and simple gatherings recreate those deep, lasting impressions not only on my heart, but on our children as well.

IMG_6318-400x300

We hung out at the very back to consume as much shade as possible (or shall I say, enjoy the port-a-potties). Just kidding…kinda!

IMG_6285-400x300Trace sat up in a tree enjoying the music without any distractions ahead of him. He really enjoyed this experience and I was thankful to be able to participate in this one-hit-wonder with them! :) You know, kids and their first concert experience. What a blessing that they enjoyed the atmosphere and Christian fellowship. 

IMG_6305-e1409694552461-300x400After being there all day in the high heat, I had planned ahead to come home to pulled pork in the crock pot. I thought this would be genius as I know we all would be hungry upon our arrival home and would need something delicious and available very promptly. 

This was the perfect meal to come home to and a perfect meal to feed 8 people. :)  

So lets get into it….

Ingredients:

  • 1- 4 lb boneless pork shoulder
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 28 ounce (3 1/2 cups) Barbecue sauce, separated
  • 2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp garlic salt
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • Coleslaw
  • Ciabatta Rolls

Sprinkle the bottom of your crock pot with chicken broth, one onion and minced garlic.

Next, rub garlic salt, paprika, chili powder and cumin on the pork shoulder. Place in slow cooker.

Top with second onion and dump 2 1/2 cups barbecue sauce upon everything. Cover and cook on low heat for 6-8 hours (or high 4-6 hours).

When the pork is cooked remove from slow cooker reserving sauce. Add in 1/2-1 cup additional barbecue sauce and 1 tbsp white vinegar and stir well. Strain sauce to rid of any excess fat.

Meanwhile, pull pork apart with a fork and add to strained sauce. Mix together and top on a toasted Ciabatta roll with coleslaw.

pulled pork

Such a simple meal and so wonderfully delicious! Nothing beats a pulled pork sandwich.

This is for all you meat lovers out there! :)

Chocolate Chip Snickerdoodle Blondies

Chocolate Chip Snickerdoodle Blondies 

DESSERTS!!!

It seriously must be “that” time of the month for me. And yes, I did just say that! :) I am craving, pinning and gaining weight all over looking at pictures of what I want to make to satisfy my “fat foodie” days.

The gloomy aspect outside isn’t helping with my dessert cravings either. Typically when it’s warm outside I have less cravings, but the colder it gets and the quicker winter approaches, I have my extra 5 pounds stored up for winter to help keep me warm. :)

Part of the weight gain comes from these amazing Snickerdoodle Blondies. They are incredibly moist and utterly satisfying for those days you simply need something sweet. Take the pan to the couch and enjoy every bite if that will make you feel better! :)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cups butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 2 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×13 baking dish. Set aside.

In a stand mixer, beat butter on medium speed until light and fluffy (1-2 minutes).

Chocolate Chip Snickerdoodle Blondies

Add in both sugars and beat another 2-3 minutes. (Scrap sides as needed)

Chocolate Chip Snickerdoodle Blondies 1

Add in eggs and vanilla and cream together.

Scrap sides of the bowl and add in all dry ingredients. Mix just until combined.

Chocolate Chip Snickerdoodle Blondies 3

Fold in chocolate chips.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl make the cinnamon mixture.

Chocolate Chip Snickerdoodle Blondies 5

Place 3/4 of the dough into the bottom of the pan (reserving the rest) and sprinkle with 3/4 the cinnamon mixture.

Chocolate Chip Snickerdoodle Blondies 6

Drop remainder of the dough into little chunks evenly across the top.

Sprinkle with remainder of the cinnamon mixture.

Chocolate Chip Snickerdoodle Blondies 7

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Be prepared to be wowwed and devour.

Chocolate Chip Snickerdoodle Blondies 8

We have enjoyed this cookie bar for breakfast with a cup of coffee. Super yummy if you are a pastry lover and a coffee lover.

Lentil Stew

Lentil Stew

Lentil Stew

When I woke up this morning there was a cold wind whistle, yes Autumn is near. We came from a super hot 90 degree weekend and wound up in the 60’s today. Gloomy days are perfect cozy days. I woke up to snuggle on the couch with my blanket and work on my bible study and read for awhile. And of course I had my cup o’ coffee and it was absolutely glorious.

Opting for a warm soup and fresh bread for dinner, I put my crock pot to work; lentil stew.

I took Cooper to the park this morning to get his wiggles released before nap time. Upon our return home, the house smelt of something so yummy waiting to be eaten this evening. I love walking into a house that smells of yummy food or fresh baked goods. There is something so delightful in that.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup navy beans
  • 1 1/2 cup lentils
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp thyme
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp minced garlic

Clean your beans and lentils thoroughly before placing in the crock pot

Combine all ingredients together and give a good stir.

Let simmer for 8 hours.

Lentil Stew 1

Serve with Garlic Buttered Bread and toast.

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bars

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Peanut Bars

Browned Butter chocolate chip cookie bars

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease and 8×8 bake dish.

In a saucepan over med-low heat, melt butter and brown sugar until sugar is completely melted.

Browned Butter chocolate chip cookie bars 2

Once the mixture is completely melted, add in the peanut butter and melt thoroughly.

Browned Butter chocolate chip cookie bars 3

In a stand mixer combine all dry ingredients and pour liquid into dry ingredients.

Browned Butter chocolate chip cookie bars 4

Mix just until dough comes together.

Browned Butter chocolate chip cookie bars 5

Press mixture into greased pan and bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Browned Butter chocolate chip cookie bars 1

Allow to cool before cutting. Enjoy with a cup of milk and maybe a scoop of ice cream! :)

Cinnamon Nut Oatmeal

Cinnamon Nut Oatmeal

Often we eat eggs for breakfast but on the days where my son eats very little, I try and spice up the calorie intake for him with protein and nuts. A good hearty breakfast is important for our bodies. We often do not start our days off in a correct manner with a well-rounded breakfast. I’ve noticed on days such as today when we are rushing out the door and all I eat is a granola bar for breakfast, I tend to get a migraine a couple of hours later. I have trained my body to eat a healthy breakfast and when it doesn’t receive this, my body simply gets mad at me and puts me down with a migraine. Literally putting me down. :( This sad state needs to end and it all began because of a lack of nutrients for breakfast. It’s important to eat breakfast even if you aren’t a “morning” person. You can train yourself to eat good food and not a lot of it to stay healthier.

Enough of my bossy mom instincts telling you as if you are my child, to eat your breakfast. You all know I love you deeply right?

Anyway, as of lately my son has been into watching the movie Cars. He hates TV otherwise. So our morning routine begins with him snuggling on the couch watching cars while I prepare breakfast. This has been a great way to feed him and actually get him to consume calories as well as him allowing my to snuggle my sweet baby. I’m not sure if it’s the distraction from watching the movie or the comfort of sitting on the couch all snuggled up rather then at the table. In either case, he has his whole life to sit at the table and I will take every opportunity to stuff his body full of calories since it’s almost impossible to keep the pounds on this little rascal.

Today’s breakfast of choice: Cinnamon Nut Oatmeal

IMG_6847

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp dried cranberries
  • 2 tbsp pecans, almond, walnuts
  • 1/4 cup milk

Prepare oats according to package instructions.

In a small bowl add oatmeal and sprinkle with cinnamon. Mix together. 
IMG_6845

Top with brown sugar, cranberries and nuts.

Drizzle with Milk.

IMG_6848

Devour and feel satisfied.

Lets Talk Fly Larvae

Seriously, have any of you heard of FLY LARVAE before? I have had no concept of fly larvae– until today that is. But I do deeply wish I was still naive and had no concept of what I am about to share with all of you.

So take my hand as we travel this dark road together.

First, lets start by talking about the nasty outbreaks around MY home. Yes, I have purposely failed to mention this prior to now as I did not want to be perceived as a dirty, grungy ol’ housewife. To my knowledge, our house is pretty clean. I feel I do the best to keep a good deep clean on a weekly basis.

Mopping, bathrooms, vacuuming daily, dusting, sweeping, laundry, folding clothes etc. But it’s the little 2 year old whose sleeping in the next room right now that may not help keep things ever so clean. The crumbs here, the crumbs there. Spilt milk here, dried oatmeal there. Okay so I try my darnedest to keep the house spotless even with him running around and do not always have 100% success.

With that in mind, I arrived home one afternoon and was greeted by these nasty creatures directly outside of our door. Hundreds covering the ground and “welcome” mat. I freaked out and jumped over them to get inside and quickly slam the door behind me. “Ew ew ew” I screamed as Cooper was hoping up and down as if I was the latest and greatest mom ever and screaming right along with me “ew ew ew.”

Immediately I call our pest control company (who by the way is ECO friendly for the little ones). About an hour later I creep my way outside to toss a dirty diaper and hundreds, seriously hundreds had covered our entire green garbage can. Deeply appalled by the lack of green showing, I rush back in the house skipping and hoping over what could be the worlds nastiest unknown creature and begin to spring clean my house. Literally deep cleaning! It was as if the dried oatmeal-spilt milk scenario began to haunt me and make me feel like a failure of a mother for missing the crumbs on the dark floor that blend in so well. The crumbs brought upon this “maggot” crisis and now I just failed my one duty as a housewife.

My worst case secnario moment played rapidly through my brain and I began to envision these creatures taking over my home and sleeping in bed with us and hiding in our food. Crunch!

Blow_fly_larvae

Okay so yay for my nightmare not coming true but only in my head. And yay for them remaining outside….for the moment (apart from the 5 I found on our carpet and wood floor).

Anyway, lets not get distracted here…

Unbeknownst to me, these creatures were seen previously this week at another neighbors house in their garage. Our pest guy proceeded to tell me he’s never seen so many of these creatures before, until now. Lucky me!

What causes them and what are they you may ask? The are fly larvae (it must be mating season).

Did you even know such a thing existed because I sure as heck didn’t. He said the front door made absolutely no sense to him but the garbage can definitely answered some questions. Flies love garbage. They hatched their nasty little eggs and he tried to calm my soul by saying most of them do not make it out alive. Well they sure did make it far enough to our door before they all died off. Which is not so calming!

Let me share a little something with you. They have the GROSSEST bodies and mouths ever. They have no head, it’s an open hole that squirms and flops around. It is so disgusting and quite frankly, I did not want to deal with this situation.

Have I turned your stomach yet? I hope so because honestly, this was not an experience I wanted to partake in on my own. So I hope you are having fun on this journey with me :)

Okay one last horrific picture and than I’m done, I promise!

fly_lifecycle

Isn’t it pretty?

Tell me, just what would you do if you found hundreds of these on your wood floor or carpet? Okay, now tell me what you would do coming home to hundreds of them at your front door to greet you??

It’s definitely not a pleasant picture and I still squirm even sharing this information with you.

I hope you all enjoyed my story and come back again tomorrow for another juicy, squirmy conversation on the popping sound they make when you squish them. ;)

Okay we wont get into that, I promise the grossness is done…. for now anyway ;)

Sleep tight my friends, don’t let the bed bugs bite!

How To Keep Your Herbs Crisp

How To Keep Your Herbs Crisp

It may seem obvious to some of you and not so obvious to the rest.

After growing my garden and running into the problem of an overgrown, wretched view of a garden, I knew I had to come up with a way of storing my produce better. I say “wretched” because it really was and still is. It’s totally overgrown and I did nothing to help in this manner. Not because I didn’t care, but because I’m NEW to gardening. It’s a lot of work and they are finicky little things. If you don’t treat them right, they wont treat you right. I would rather have it overgrown than not producing at all!

Some people have the gift of gardening and I envy these people.

Anyway, after much thought and limp celery, I found my solution. It’s pretty simple ya’ll. The best way to keep your herbs and vegetables crisp is to keep them stored in the fridge in some water. Almost as if you create a beautiful bouquet of flowers with your produce.

IMG_6261

Pick your produce of choice…

Herbs

And place in a cold cup of water. Store in the refrigerator.

herb

Viola- they stay crisp!

Just remember, nobody likes limp celery. As soon as you notice the limp begin, immediately salvage your produce by soaking the stalks in a cup of water. They will liven and brighten and crisp right back up.

Solution-Solved