Monday, October 28, 2013

Farmhouse Bread

I've been thinking about making bread lately. Again.
I've thought about making bread a lot over the past handful of years. This time, though, I actually made bread.
There's nothing like homemade bread!
Fresh. Wholesome. Nutritious. Simple.
Oh, and don't forget that tantalizing smell that seeps out of the oven when you bake it. That, right there, is enough reason to bake bread!
I admit. The only downside to this bread is that it does not have a lot of whole grains in it, my usual preference. However, if you use my favorite, Ultragrain all-purpose flour, you will be sure to gain nutrition!
Farmhouse Bread
Adapted from Bran Appetit
I originally saw this recipe on "Crumbs and Chaos".
Yield: 2 loaves
1/3 cup HONEY
1/4 cup CANOLA OIL
1 Tablespoon SALT
4 1/2 teaspoons ACTIVE DRY YEAST
2 1/4 cup WARM WATER
3 cups (Ultragrain) ALL PURPOSE FLOUR
1 Tablespoon OLIVE OIL
In a large bowl, mix bread flour, honey, canola oil, salt, and yeast.
Add warm water and mix until combined.
Add 1 cup of all-purpose flour at a time until the dough is mixed well and forms.
Knead by hand or with a dough hook for about 5 minutes, until smooth.
Coat the inside of a large bowl with the olive oil and place the dough inside. Cover the bowl with a dish towel and set aside to rise, somewhere warm, for about an hour or until the dough doubles in size.
Grease two 9x5 loaf pans. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions. Shape into loaves and place in the pans.
Cover the pans loosely with the dish towel again and let rise for another hour.
Preheat oven to 375. Bake for 35-45 minutes, depending on your oven, til golden brown. Watch carefully.
Let the bread cool inside the pans for 5 to 10 minutes. Then remove to a wire rack for complete cooling before slicing.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Benefit of Writing Your Prayers

Sometimes when I quiet my heart to pray, the moment doesn't feel very quiet. Thoughts race through my mind. New tasks pop up, waiting to be added to my "To Do" list. Emotions flood my being. It can be very difficult to feel quiet.
My thoughts can wander: "Dear Lord, I need... to get the laundry done... No, wait. I do need to get the laundry done, but that is not what I am praying about. I need a touch from YOU, Lord!" 
One thing that can be helpful during prayer time is to write down my prayers. By writing down my prayer, it helps me focus more. I am forced to channel my thoughts and emotions better. 
You can create a spiritual journal just for the purpose of writing down your prayers, Scriptures, and other things God teaches you or you could simply use your daily planner, a blank sheet of paper, or even type an email to yourself. Whatever works! The point is to get you writing, thinking, praying, and pouring your heart out to God in a more efficient matter.
Give ear to my words, O Lord.
Consider my meditation.
Psalm 5:1

Monday, October 21, 2013

Banana Banana Bread

Autumn is such a wonderful time to bake! It was quite dreary and rainy here today, lending itself to be one of those cozy, fall days you appreciate as you wear your favorite sweater, drink some tea or coffee, and do some baking!
I made some banana bread today, and it was nothing but delicious! I have tried several banana bread recipes over the years and have had a low-success rate. This recipe, though, is a keeper!
I really believe the eggs in the recipe add great texture, and the generous amount of bananas make the bread oh-so-very yummy.
I like to blend in my bananas, because I do not like chunks of banana in my baked goods.

Banana Banana Bread
original recipe on
printable version

2 cups all-purpose flour (I use my favorite flour)
1 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 1/3 cups mashed overripe bananas

Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt.
In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar.
*I used my Kitchen Aid mixer, starting with the creaming of the butter and sugar and beyond.

Beat in eggs and mashed bananas, until well-mixed.
Mix in flour mixture, until moistened and mixed together.
Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes, until you insert a toothpick in the center, and it comes out clean. (My oven cooks fast, so mine was done in 55 minutes. Know your oven and watch it carefully.)

Let bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then turn it out onto a wire rack.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Lay Aside Every Weight

Run with Endurance2

Imagine a runner carrying many bags.

Heartache. Grief. Unbelief. Addiction. Bad Company. Poor Choices. Lost Hope.

The runner is bogged down, unable to run. He is barely able to lift his feet. His back and shoulders hurt. His gaze is fixed upon the bags, as he is continually trying to fix them. Maybe, just maybe, if he keeps arranging them they will fall into place, and he can run well. Maybe if he holds the bags in a better fashion, he will be able to run faster.

No. He can't run well. In fact he can hardly run at all. The only solution is for him to get rid of the bags.

Oh, but the bags…

Some of them are dear to him.
Some of them he has nurtured.
Some of them have been around a long time.

Nonetheless, the runner comes to the grave conclusion that he definitely must get rid of the bags.

After a long pause, he continues to run and starts to unload the bags.
Bags fall. Tears fall.

As the bags are unloading, however, he starts to feel lighter... happier... more able to run the race. After unloading a few bags, he is now motivated to get rid of the rest. He empties the bags with a quicker pace and a joyful disposition.

"Although it be painful, it is also joyful to get rid of these bags
that I have carried for so long.
Now I can run my race with endurance".

We are like the runner. We carry many bags. Only you know what is written on those bags. Only you know how attached you are to those bags and how they have affected and are affecting you.

If we are to run our race for Jesus with endurance, we must get rid of the bags. We must get rid of the weights that burden us.

Hebrews 12:1 – "Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us..."

Merriam-Webster defines endurance this way:

  • the ability to do something difficult for a long time
  • the ability to deal with pain or suffering that continues for a long time
  • the quality of continuing for a long time.

Are you able to continue with Jesus wholeheartedly for your whole life?
Are you able to walk the difficult path He calls you to walk?

Lay aside the weights and sin and run with endurance.

1. Give your weights to Jesus. Continue to pray and ask God for healing and grace. God is able to comfort us and strengthen us. He is the only One who can reach the depths of our heart and fill us with His Holy Spirit,

2. Make practical steps to get rid of weights. If there are things you can do to get rid of baggage in your life, do it. Ask God for wisdom. Ask friends for advice. Figure out what you need to do to move forward in God. Recently, I decided to take a sabbatical from my personal Facebook page because it causes me a lot of pain right now. It was not an easy decision because I like the social interaction, but it is the best decision for now.

3. Surround yourself with a company of people who encourage you to live rightly. We need the community and support of others to give us strength and remind us that we have people cheering for us!

Get rid of the weights you are carrying
and run the race with endurance!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Zone Cleaning: Tackle the House Together!

Last year we started zone cleaning. It has been a huge blessing! Since we started zone cleaning, I have run across other people who also use this system to keep their home more orderly.
With zone cleaning, people in the house are assigned zones to maintain. In our home, the children have a zone that they monitor throughout the week. Daily, usually in the morning, they are required to do a quick pick-up, shaking of rugs, and sometimes a sweep, depending on the zone. Weekly, usually on Friday or Saturday, they do a more thorough cleaning which involves dusting, sweeping, and vacuuming.
Since zone cleaning requires regular attention, it helps keep our home in better order daily. Even if there are messes and projects to tackle, the general atmosphere of our home feels clean and manageable.
Zone cleaning helps your children to gain responsibility as they learn to watch over an area of the home themselves. They also learn the importance of work and see the reward of keeping their area clean.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the state of your home and/or just want to get your children more involved in the upkeep of your home, try zone cleaning!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Simple, Savory Spaghetti Sauce


A good friend of mine gave me this recipe. It is simple to make and delicious to eat.

Printable Recipe

1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 15 oz. cans tom sauce
3/4 t oregano
1 t basil
1 bay leaf
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
2 t sugar, optional

Saute 1 lb. ground beef with onion and garlic until beef is fully cooked. Drain.

Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for about a half hour or longer if you want to mingle the flavors more.

Remove bay leaf and serve over pasta.

*This recipe serves about four people. I actually used one and a half times the recipe, and it fed our family of six, without leftovers.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Moving Beyond Grief and Pain

Zachary on climbing wall

Life is a beautiful blessing.
God made a beautiful world.
God had beautiful intentions.

However, in the midst of beauty, therein lies great pain.


Grief and pain are deeply felt. They are intense emotions of the soul. They have the ability to consume us, keep us in darkness, and paralyze us.

How do we move beyond grief and pain and experience fullness of life, as God intends?

Accept the imperfect world. Accept that circumstances will not be as we hope.

Remember that we live amongst fallen people. People, unfortunately, will continue to hurt us – sometimes unintentionally, yet even then, it hurts.

Remind ourselves that God is our healer and can HEAL our hurts. He can mend broken hearts and bind up our wounds.

Look to God for hope. God does not leave us hopeless. He has good things planned for us. He wants us to have joy.

Think like Paul. “Forget those things which are behind and reach forward to those things which are ahead”. Phil. 3:13

In the midst of pain and suffering, we can seek God and find His goodness.

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Psalm 27:13