Saturday, December 25

Christmas Letter


It’s time for the De Jong’s not so annual Christmas letter. Christmas 07 we were newly married- what was the point. Christmas 08 I thought –“The only thing that changed is that we both have jobs now.” Christmas 09- I made Christmas cards. Some of them got passed out. A few got mailed. Most have made it into the recycle bin over the last 12 months.  
Christmas 2010- A lot has changed. January through April passed without much ado though Justin and I both celebrated birthdays. May brought Tulip Time. Below is a picture of me riding a bike in the parade with the school (Peoria Christian).  I also helped serve lunches at the food booth.
        In June my mom came out to visit and Jonathan was born on the 13th. He weighed in at 8lbs 5oz and 20in of perfection.  We also took a trip to Chicago. Justin and Nathan Blunck went to the Cubs game while Jonathan and I spent time with my cousin Christina.
            In July we spent a week at Brooke’s Lake with my family, the Van Zanens, the Jensens, and Uncle Dave.  We had a great time relaxing and playing. It was also fun to introduce Jonathan to many of my aunts, uncles, and cousins as well as have them share in caring for him while I relaxed. When we got back to Pella, Jonathan was baptized. Peter and Heather visited in August between weddings before Dordt was back in session and spent a little more time with us. I also returned to teaching part time in August. I am really enjoying it and Jonathan enjoys playing with Jozana Carter and her family while I am busy.  September was spent adjusting to our new life during the school year. Justin also began a new season as a Cadet counselor. 
         November  started with Justin bringing Gunner home. He’d been wanting a hunting dog for a while and finally found the right one. Now I have the challenge of teaching him the house rules! Daniel (below with Jonathan), Peter, and Heather visited during their Thanksgiving holiday. We really enjoyed having them and joined in teasing my parents that they need to come to the Midwest for holidays now since so manyof us live here.  We also spent much of Thursday and Friday with Justin’s family hanging out and playing games. We are privileged to live near his family and enjoy eating Sunday dinner with them most weeks.  In December we (I) am trying to figure out life with a baby and a puppy and freezing weather!  We are eagerly anticipating Christmas and look forward to each day and the changes God brings us.
 We thank you for your prayers and support. We especially covet our prayers that God will give Justin and I wisdom as we seek to love and obey our wonderful God and teach Jonathan to do the same.
Justin, Rachel, and Jonathan De Jong

Sorry that the pictures didn't copy too. I'll try to post them soon.



Friday, December 24

Days of the Week

Recently I have been thinking about what I can do to aid Little J's cognative development in the upcoming years. I know little about early childhood development or education and though many of the things that I have been thinking about are not things that I can do yet with Little J since he is only six months old, I hate being ilprepared. In the past I have read some of the information on 1+1+1 = 1 and talked with a freind of mine who is an early childhood specialist and Kindergaten teacher turned SaH mom. 

While preparing to retire for the night, this song was working its way around my head.

The Days of the Week- to the tune of This is the Day

These are the days, these are the days
of the week God made, of the week God made
Sunday we worship, Monday we work
Tuesday and Wednesday too
Thursday and Friday
Saturday is the very last day
Then start again with Sunday and rest.
These are the days, these are the days
Of the week God made.

If you have any ideas or changes that would make it better drop me a comment or a line. I'm constantly making up little ditties to help me remember things. They got me through high school and college exams. Now I make them up for my students- especially Latin declensions. It makes memorizing more fun.

Monday, November 15

A blessing, not a burden

Philippians 4:6-9 (New International Version)

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Today I wanted to share a friend's post.  Prayer for Purity  and my response which follows

Amen. I think and pray about this all the time. I love and enjoy my son. Being a parent is hard, and though I would not say it is a burden, it does place a lot of weight on your shoulders. I commented to some of my friends the other night- Maybe it is just because I am a parent now but I am constantly analyzing the world around me- Christian an secular- and I find the lack of love and adherence to God's truth astounding. Even in the church so often we accept the world's message. Our local Christian high chose to perform High School Musical. Their performance was good the choice was not. As Christians we should strive for excellence in both performance AND material. "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." The thing that really has me is the message that you need to follow your heart. NO the heart is wicked and deceitful beyond all things! We need to follow God's truth and that alone.
Thanks for the encouragement Joelle!
PS I was disappointed in Glee too- "If girls just put out things like this wouldn't happen."

Today I am thankful that I can cast all my cares on the Lord. That I can pray to him and that I don;t have to worry. 

Thursday, November 4

The Reformation's impact on America

When I was in seventh or Eighth grade Mr. Eames said that without the reformation there would be no United States of America. I really didn't think about it then. I listened, took notes, and studied. Since what he declared seemed logical and since the evidence of his argument surrounded me, I tucked the information away and went on with school and middle school drama (of which there was plenty).

On Sunday evening our pastor preached a Reformation day sermon: Solus Christus. Though the sermon did not follow the outline, it was excellent.

It also made me feel very thankful for the Christ-centered and classical education I had growing up, particularly in middle and high school. Thank you Mom and Dad for your devotion of Christ- centered education, for your hard work to pay for tuition for all four of us, and for your encouragement and support during our years of study. Thank you to all my teachers who worked diligently and seemingly endlessly. Thank you even more for the determination to teach in a godly and Christ-centered way. As a teacher I know that it is difficult to intentionally to do continually.
Thank you to both my teachers and my parents who saw the necessity to teach me, my brothers, and my peers to think critically and to evaluate all of life through God's truth. As I look and listen to those around me, I appreciate that this ability is largely a lost skill even though it is foundational for living in a way that impacts the world (or at least those around me) for the Kingdom.

Sunday, October 31

Dutch Potatoes -ie Stamppot

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs potatoes
  • 2 onions chopped or diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 lb kale or spinach roughly chopped 
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch ground pepper
  • 1 lb smoked sausage or ring balogna
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • brown gravy
Directions:

  1. Peel and dice potatoes and onions.
  2. Clean, trim and slice kale. (omit if using spinach)
  3. Add the potatoes, onion, kale, a bay leaf, a pinch of salt and just enough water to cover all in a 3 qrt pan.
  4. Cover and boil gently for about 25 minutes. (Add the spinach for the last 5 minutes.)
  5. Meanwhile steam the smoked sausage for the same amount of time and slice or skin and add to the potato mixture.
  6. Remove the bay leaf, drain the vegetables, (and meat), and mash them.
  7. Add milk and butter.
  8. Stir in the hot, sliced smoked sausage, add salt and pepper to taste and serve.
  9. Serve with brown gravy.

Tuesday, October 19

Never- fail biscuits (aluminum free too)

 My DH and I love biscuits, especially with sausage gravy. However, I refuse to buy him poison-in-a-tube often know as Pillsbury (or store brand knock-offs). At first, my biscuits were hardly passable, particularly when made with whole wheat. Then I discovered this recipe. I modified it to fit my standards. It is WONDERFUL! Never-fail.


• 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour - or any flour combo you have.
• 3/4 teaspoons cream of tartar - this and extra baking soda eliminates the need for baking powder
• 3/ 4 teaspoon baking soda
• pinch of salt
• 3 oz. cold butter, diced (6 tablespoons)
• 1 c kefir or buttermilk- This is vital!

Combine and sift the dry ingredients. Cut in the butter.  Add the kefir 3/4 cup first and the rest as needed (not dry but not too wet to spread out either) and mix until the mixture just comes together. If needed, dump it onto a well- floured counter and kneed gently and knead on a floured board just enough to bring the dough together.

It is vital that you mix/knead gently and no more than is necessary or you will develop the gluten in the flour and make the biscuits tough. Good biscuits are as much a function of technique as ingredients.

Form a flat mass with the dough and cut out biscuits with a biscuit cutter. Press straight down, down spin the cutter.  Don't make them too high or the outside could become over browned by the time the inside is cooked.

Place them on parchment paper lined or oiled sheet tray and then into a preheated 400-degree oven.

Take them out when golden brown.


* Last night I made Bubble-up Pizza (casserole) I made these biscuits (they were a bit wet), poured them into my 9x13 pan and pre-baked them. Then I added my sauce, beef and cheese and finished baking it. it turned out better than I remember Bubble-up Pizza!

Saturday, October 16

Thursday, October 14

Warm Chocolate soother

This morning was pretty chilly. it didn't help that we left one of our windows open. It wasn't too chilly, just enough that you wanted to snuggle up in a blanket with a warm beverage.

Today, as most days, my breakfast was in shifts. of course, some of you consider a piece of toast with peanut butter and jam to be breakfast. I don't. I think of it as part of a breakfast. As forementioned, this mornign was a perfect morning for hot chocolate. But, that is not a decent breakfast. First of all becauseof the sugar. Second because of the other ingredients and third because it lacks the protein and fat that I need to make it to lunch.
I was pondering what to do when I remembered the warm vanilla soother from Laura at Heavenly Homemakers and that she had mentioned that she had a chocolate version too.
As claimed, it tastes like what you would imagine to be a warm liquid brownie.
















Warm Chocolate Soother
3 cups whole milk
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup real maple syrup
3 T. sucanat
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 T. arrowroot powder or corn starch
1 Tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a medium saucepan, whisk together milk, egg yolks, maple syrup, sucanat, cocoa and arrowroot powder.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly (I use a whisk) until mixture begins to thicken.  Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla.  Stir until creamy.  Pour into mugs and serve warm.

Saturday, October 9

Banana cake

I modified this a bit to make it more of a snack or breakfast cake but will include the original instructions in parenthesis so you know how it was intended for a dessert cake.

2 1/2 c flour - i always use whole wheat - white whole wheat worked really well. -none knew
1 c sugar (1 2/3 c)
1 1/4 t baking soda
1 1/4 t baking powder [1t soda + 2t cream of tarter = 1 T baking  powder]
1 t salt

2/3 c butter or coconut oil - NEVER USE MARGARINE OR SHORTENING!!
1/3 c butter milk or kefir
3 mashed over ripe bananas or 1 1/4 c

1/3 c buttermilk or kefir- yes another
1/2 c or 2 large unbeaten eggs or 3 medium
Optional 2/3 c copped nuts or chocolate chips

*Preheat oven to 350
1. Mix first 5 ingredients.
2. Add next e and beat vigorously for 2 minutes in mixer
3. Add remander or milk and eggs. Beat for 2 more minutes.
4. Fold in add-ins if you choose
5. Bake for 18-20 minutes using 2 9" rounds, 11x16 or cupcakes/ muffins.

Dessert cake may be frosted with icing (suggested in my book) or chocolate frosting (my idea).

Zucchini bread

Zucchini bread
3 c flour
2 c sugar
1 c oil
4 large eggs
1 t cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
1/2 t cloves
1 t baking soda
1/2 t baking poweder (1 sprinkle soda and 2 sprinkes of cream of tarter)
2T vanilla
2 C finely grated Zucchini

Mix in order and bake at 325 for an hour or less time if you do it in muffin tins or bars. Then use the tooth pick test and good sense.

Wednesday, October 6

Busy Busy

Tasty bread. Don't they look beautiful!

Shredded zucchini- only one. I have about 10-15 cups left that I need to freeze.

Dehydrated bananas since they were on sale. 29c/lb. Making chips for snacks.






Baked a spaghetti squash. 

Made this lasagna with it using our normal but replacing lasagna noodles with squash.
Home made hasbrowns. Grated rinsed and boiled these nest time I'll try bake and grate.

 These were tasty! We have baked taters in the fridge waiting to make more hashbrowns.

Dehydrated cherry tomatoes. They worked well in my tomato soup to absorb extra liquid.

Learned that crumbling cheese is less labor intensive than shredding.
I also learned that you use a bit more this way and it is LOUD.


Dried tomatoes ready to store.

Basket of snacks- zucchini bread and granola- ready to freeze.

Frozen banana read to thaw for banana bread. Got too ripe before I could dry it.

Banana pancakes. Great with peanut butter!

Breakfast pockets for on the go Hubby.
 I'll try to update with recipes tomorrow.
Hat for my little J to keep his ears warm. Going to try one with ear flaps.

Wednesday, September 15

BLT Pasta

YUM!!

This is not my picture. My dish was different. It did not have croutons or lettuce, spinach, endive, or other such things.





Here is what I put in mine:

Brown rice pasta (gluten free)
cherry tomatoes
zucchini 1/2 a medium
bacon
bread crumbs
peppers (banana and jalapeno)
Parmesan cheese

First slice the tomatoes in half, roughly chop the peppers, and cut the zucchini into  slices and them each slice into quarters or sixths. place them on a nonstick pan and broil them. Watch them so they don't burn.

Next start the pasta. If you are using spagetti squash you can omit this.

Fry the bacon and set aside. Chop once cool.

Get the veggies out of  the oven. (I think that red onion might be good in this too.)

Fry the bread crumbs in the bacon grease.

Drain the pasta.

Add all ingredients together and toss. Don't forget the Parmesan. If  you didn't use spicy peppers add black pepper or red pepper flakes.

Enjoy!

Monday, September 13

Diaper stink

For a few weeks now my DH has been commenting on the stinkiness of our diaper pail and our diapers when they are soaked. Sometimes this has been a bit unavoidable, for instance- smelly poops. Most of the time the issue is urea. It has been growing stronger and stronger. Our prefolds would smell but our pockets would reak! I've been reading and reading about what the issue may be.

Part of the problem is that I'm never near the washing machine to check to see if all the detergent has rinsed out by the final rinse. IF it isn't we have detergent buildup and that is a horrid problem.
I thought that bleaching them might help, but bleach can be very damaging to diapers- especially to the synthetic fabrics. Since I highly value my PUL I don't want to damage it. Also, since I have one new diaper, two new covers, and several borrowed items, I don't want to take the risk. 

Enter oxygen bleach. I'm sure that you've heard the wonders of Oxy Clean. That was not going to work for us because of the additives. So, Sun Oxygen Cleaner was the one to try. I found it at Walmart.

Combined with an extra rinse, I was anxious to discover if Sun would do the trick. (The sun does prerform miricles on cotton diapers but I had bigger problems this time.) I took the diapers out of the dryer, and ... they still smelled like nothing, which is a good sign.

The test took place last night through this morning. (I forgot to wash the pail liners so we continued to have a smelly diaper pail.) I brought the baby to bed with me at 6:30 am. (I feel entitled to sleep in on mornings when he as wakened both  himself and me more than 2 times between the time that I go to bed and my DH starts his day. Last night we were up 4 times during that time span.) No urea smell yet. Hope begins to rise. Usually after all night in a pocket I can already smell the urea. After playing in bed from 7:30 till 8 we jumped out of bed and sauntered over to the dresser, almost no smell! Hardly a whiff! Hurray! What a way to start the day!

Sun Oxygen Cleaner

Thursday, September 9

Exercise during pregnancy

There are several reasons to exercise while pregnant. This may be one of my favorites. This is 4 weeks before Little J was born.

In addition to riding my bike, I walked, swam, participated in my 3/4 PE class (playing capture the flag at 8+ months pregnant is not very comfortable), stretched, and did yoga.

Saturday, August 28

Cooing

videoI've had buckets of fun watching little J grow. He is changing a lot. He is now starting to nap more regularly and is more rested. Our happy baby is even less fussy than before.  This video is a bit old. and a bit short as my batteries died while i was recording.  He coos more now and seems to be trying to hit some of his toys. Hopeful we'll post another video soon- maybe on facebook.

Self-Centered Wills

"Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. " Psalm 51:5
"Mama said there'd be days like this." The Shirelles

We've had a strange week- just about every day we've gone somewhere or someone has visited. Usually that is wonderful. However THIS week we (I) are trying to get little J down for naps more consistently so that he gets the sleep he needs, I get time to work on things undisturbed, and so that he'll nap while I'm at school.

Today, little J does not want to sleep on his own. Usually he goes down for a nap quite happily. Not today he wants to sleep on me and only on me. Granted, I can't blame him, we've been starting a routine and schedule in the last week or so but this week has been awful for that. Given the opportunity and a bit of assistance (finding and replacing his pacifier after he has dropped it or flung it across his crib unintentionally)he little guy will sleep for 2-3 hours but this week we have had to leave several times about half an hour after starting a nap  or not been home to nap.

The poor baby is being difficult- he's upset - for which I can't blame him, and being obstenant- sinful yet who isn;t when cranky, failing to communicate, and not getting what is desired.

I often say that little J is nearly a perfect baby, he's one of the happiest and most easy going babies I've met, but God has not failed to show me that he is still a son of Adam and still has a sinful nature- total depravity in it's "innocent" form.  

* Most of this post was written 8/21.

Friday, August 13

Finally starting again!

There are a lot of things that I said I'd start doing again after we got back from vacation (after Little J was 8 weeks old). I stopped doing a lot of things once I realized how much work a newborn is.  I have also had a lot of company in the past few weeks which makes somethings (baking)  easier and somethings (cleaning) harder.

So, I have once again started yogurt. I had some frozen fruit up to add to it, put it went back in the freezer  when making fajitas last night because we needed the space in the fridge.

I once again have sun tea.

I am making kefir juice today (if the water kefir is still good).

I have bread but need to make buns and begin to soak things again.

Cloth diapering has been going really well. I do need a few  more wipes though because I run out of the nice ones first and fleece is to thick. I use those as liners.

I have been keeping up with the kitchen for the most part- harder with company sometimes but they an also help.

We dehydrated carrots to make carrot chips and because it has been so hot that I wasn't willing to heat up my house to can them. (We have daily been having heat indexes of 105*. 

I have a next on the dehydrate list- halved cherry tomatoes from my tiny garden.

I have a stack of cooking magazines that I need to do something with. I'm not sure yet what.

I need to pull out my housekeeping binder, look at my cleaning shedule, and see if it is practical.

I also need to start putting Little J down for naps so that he doesn't get over tiered on some days and sleep and fuss the entire next day (he never sleeps for very long those days. However, he is starting to nap in his crib, rather than on me or in his bouncy seat. So we are making progress.

I need to start running and swimming again. Though I am almost down to my goal weight.

I need to start pumping so Little J has something to eat when I am at school.

My "need to"s still out weigh my accomplishments, but Little J is happy (overall), healthy, and growing well; and I am not only sane but enjoying most of life. If only it weren't so warm to we could get out more! Now I see why people with babies get little done and believe that maternity leave should be longer than 6 weeks even if it is unpaid! 6 weeks is ridiculously short considering what baby and mom need!

Thursday, June 24

More Pictures

Here are a few more pictures:

Grandma and our  Dear Son J-.

Mommy and J after naked time. 

Then we have our first cloth diaper and our second or third, we went through the first three really quickly- the jelly roll works best so far for us.

Our first tub bath and the after bath towel. J was a bit upset when I accidentally dipped his face in the water. He was fine after we dried off but I was worried all that evening and into the next day.  Hormones grr.

That is all for now. I didn't get pictures of our first walk in the Moby or in the ring sling, I'll have some later. J and  I are headed off to Des Moines to go furniture shopping with some  of my friends. Our first adventure! Hopefully he sleeps in the car!






Tuesday, June 22

Picture Update



First walk in the stroller.

















First time we had naked time.

More to come later.

Sunday, June 6

Pretzels

I've now tried making pretzels twice, well three times really. It went much better the last time I did it.
I discovered the key to boiling pretzels!! This is a bigger deal than you think. If boiling does not go well, it makes the entire experience frustrating. The water gets nasty. It is really hot.  The pretzels fall apart. They don't cooperate in general. They start to look bad and get water logged.

Boiling is the key to a chewy outside and soft inside, which my DH says is one of the most important pretzel components. The secret: boiling is not the key, water at boiling temperature is. The boil needs to be amazingly gentle. It can't disturb the waterlogged developing crust. You also have to leave the pretzels in long enough that they begin to form a crust. In the picture here, the water is boiling far too rapidly. In my final batch it hardly bubbled. At all, as a result, when I finished, the water was still clear and all of the pretzels turned out well. In the batch boiled in this water, only 3 turned out well, they went down hill very quickly after that.
I got the recipe from Laura at Heavenly Homemakers. She doesn't boil hers. I think that this makes them taste like bread, not pretzels.

I also decide how many to make by how easy it is to cut the dough. He recipe gave me 16. (I did 16 because I could half the dough each time. )I liked the size of a pretzels.

Between batches I froze the pretzels and then let them thaw in order to keep them from rising.
I also rolled mine out to 24-26 inches before shaping.  Getting ready to start. I also laid out all my supplies and greased my pans.

Sewing Project- Baby Blanket

I finally finished my baby blanket and soft rattle. I've been working on them for a while. Neither one was really difficult, I just didn't get around to the different stages for a while.
The cube I actaullay did in one sitting with the exception of closing it. I wanted to put something in it that would cause a rattling sound so I left it open. I finally figured out what to put in it last night. I used  film canister with a few pennies. It was small enough that it was well cusioned and larege enough that it makes a clear "change" sound.  Fun fun.
The blanket has just a flat back that is the same as the edge on the front. It also has a layer of batting in it. (I got a large box of  stuffing and batting for free on a garage sale - YES!) My DH really likes it. He says that he is a little jealous of Baby.  He has plenty of fleece new sews and quilts, but this is the softest one in the entire house. Plus, the raised bumps make it fun to feel.

Tuesday, June 1

June Baby Picture, drawing

We made it into June. I posted the May belly picture below for comparison. In case you didn't notice. This shirt is now failing to fit properly. No longer can it meet my pants. We continue to thank the Lord that things are still going wonderfully. I can feel that Baby is bigger and less comfortable. There is a lot more generalized pressure on me now. Sleeping is getting harder and harder to do, but since school is out, I can take naps. I am not feeling sleep deprived, but do drop very tired into bed at 9:00 p.m. sharp.

We are also taking votes about Baby. The entry categories are below. If you leave a comment we will enter you into the running. I don't plan on reading entries before allowing them to post.

1: Gender
2: Date
3: Weight
4: Length
5: Time (+/- 3 hours)

Deep dish pizza

I did a lot of baking this holiday weekend.  We made deep dish pizza for the first time, soft pretzels (totally SAD), and Chocolate Chocolate Chip Somethings. The pizza was a great hit. The pretzels were hit and miss. The CCC Somethings were alright. First the pizza. I will tell you about the other two another time.

 My wonderful DH and I LOVE deep dish pizza. Golden nearly fried edges, thick sauce, stringy cheese,  and plenty of toppings. When we make a pizza for the two of us, there should be leftovers because a few pieces are that filling. We've tried a couple different things. I even contemplated stealing a deep dish pan from a local pizzeria because I finally found one in a store an hour and a half from home and it was too pricey for me buy. (I decided that would not be Christ- like behavior.)

We usually bake our pizza on a stone and that is one of the things that does work really well. Getting pizza out of a stone casserole dish was not something that I was willing to try. Our pizza stone is very used and a wet dough will still stick to it occasionally. The casserole dish is not so ... broken in.
Finally, after wracking my brain, I was inspired to try a spring form pan. I had my doubts. Oil seems to have the amazing capacity to work its way out of anything {time to make a prediction- will it contain everything or no?}.  But we'd give it a go.

We (I) did not go into to this attempt willy-nilly. I have been studying and researching deep dish for a while. I also have worked at a pizzeria and have unveiled a few tricks of the trade. (Unfortunately the pan is one.)  Another is an very long cool double rise. We didn't have that much time, nor do I have a walk in cooler (or refrigerator space) to refrigerate a spring-form pan on a level surface on a regular basis. So we have to make due.

I did use my regular pizza dough recipe, with a few changes. I used half and half white whole wheat. I wanted it to turn out and simply put, white flour is more lenient. I also refrained from soaking the dough. Hopefully through trial I can bring back soaking and whole wheat and still have a fantastic deep dish product.

Step 1 I made the dough. Step 2- left in on the counter to rise till double(ish) then I put it in the fridge. If I had started the dough in the morning or even before lunch I could have let the dough rise in the fridge entirely. I will likely make this alternation next time (just one alteration at a time for scientific purposes). We didn't start dough till 3:00 so I didn't want to risk the slow rise.

Step 3- oil pan and roll out dough. I rolled the dough out till it was just bigger than the pan then gently placed the dough in the pan. I continued to press it out until there was a little lip . Step 4- leave the dough on the counter and go to church. (Picture below is when we got back just before pre-baking. You can see that it did leak.)

Step 5- put the stone in the oven and preheat both to 450 degrees. Step 6- prebake the crust for 5 minutes or so. I did this because Baking in my oven is slower than in a pizzaria oven. I didn't want to loose all the beautiful rise by piling on the toppings to and unsupportable weight. (As previously stated we like lots of toppings.) Step 6 take crust out and top quickly before popping it back in.
Step 7- I did take the pizza out when it was almost done. i decided to take off the edge of the pan to let the exterior crust brown. I learned to be careful to make sure that the crust is not stuck to the edge or you will start to rip open the pizza. Step 8- put the pizza back till the cheese begins to become golden (or other cues).

Step 9- take out pizza. If you can wait it is best to let it sit for a couple minutes so that when you cut it the toppings and cheese cut. This allows them to stay on top of the pizza rather than to be caught up with the cutter and be forced into the new cut.

Step 10- Serve with pizza sprinkles and Parmesan cheese and delight in your homemade deep dish.

Wednesday, May 26

Ranch Dressing

Ever since I first tried Ranch dressing years ago, I've been hooked. For a while I was ashamed of myself, silly I know, but I was already aware that normal Ranch was not exactly a healthy or health building food. I've tried to avoid it, but yum.

My second choice has been Western. That cannot be much if any better since the first ingredient is high fructose corn syrup which I've been trying to eliminate from my diet.

I've been having a similar struggle with Mayo. I'm a big mayo fan. (This is relevant.)

Most people don't know it, but I'm a bit lazy. Unless I find the difficult way intriguing and I have that much time and energy, I'm doing it the easy way.

So I found this place I love called Penzey's Spices. (They have arrowroot powder among other things.) Not everything there is totally great [like the soup bases :( ] but most of it is wonderful. While there I got taco seasoning and :D buttermilk ranch dressing mix. Yeah! But still, it calls for mayo.

This past week, I finally got around to making my own mayo. I was intrigued when I heard about it and fascinated when I saw a video blog which I would link to but I lost it.  Eggs have also become readily available as it is nearly June. That was a big factor.  It was easy if you remember to you the mixer not the food processor. Our food processor makes it impossible to add things while running and that is way to time consuming! Note- I've not tried my mayo plain yet.

I have tried the Ranch. Since the dressing is liquidy, I need to add more mayo. That I can do. It is not the same thing as Hidden Valley, but it is Ranch. :D. Yeah!! I'll attach a picture when I load pictures next.

Vitamins

I am rather skeptical about vitamins, especially multivitamins. This is particulalty true about convention a multivitamins. I've always wondered if there was really any merit to them or if I was just buying expensive urine. After doing a little research i decided that with my synthetic vitamins that was likely what I was getting. Plus, the idea of adding vitamins to my body without the proper ballance of vitamins needed to metabolize them was not appealing.

In November I started taking New Life prenatals. They are small green round bale looking pills. I loved that they were easy to swallow. Not a strong point for me. However, I was supposed to take nine of them a day. I only took four. I don't really think that they were worth the price.

I have also been interested in trying New Chapter as they have had good reviews. However, since I have had good experience with Shaklee and have had recommendations from a few of my friends and relatives, I decided to try their vitamins. I also found out that they are also all non-synthetic before ordering.

I ordered them on Saturday. They arrived on Wednesday. Sweet. I was pleasantly surprised to see of that the multi (vita-lea with iron) is green. I was not so happy with the size of the pill. It is enormous. Well, maybe it is the same as the Walmart One a Day knockoffs. BUT, one enormous pill is only half of the serving. I'm supposed to take two.

We'll have to see. So far, I'm happier with Shaklee.

Tuesday, May 4

May Baby Belly

I'm thinking that this will be the second to last monthly belly picture- only June to go! I don't think that we are going to do any mid-month pictures.

Also, I'm happy to announce that I finally found a dresser. I'm very happy with it. It is just about perfect. I do need to replaced the draw pulls because the originals are missing a few parts.

That was pretty exciting. I've already done a load of baby clothes and need to put together my diapering basket, get my birth plan written, and figure out what needs to go in our bedroom for Baby before Baby comes. (An lift the co-sleeper.) Below you can see the dresser and a reminder of our nursery. In this picture you may notice that I have adjusted the curtain to its most open position. 
Also - I need to give a shout out to Justin and especially Luke who helped me retrieve the dresser and bring it inside. Thanks!

Sunday, May 2

Food Pyramid

As a teacher, especially one that teaches science to two classes of students at different grade levels and as a person who is passionate about real food, I really struggle with how to teach health and nutrition. Our curriculum uses the USDA approved guidelines which are wrong.

I seek to teach from and with a strong Christian perspective in all my classes. I have quite a few students whose families have slowly started food conversions but don't always have access to quality information. However, most of my students eat SAD.

(In case you are wondering how real food and christian perspective connect,  God create food for us to eat that is healthy for us. He create food for animals to eat that is healthy for them. When we stop trusting him and decide to re-engeneer things oursleves, taking away the God given healthy way of dooing things, how can anything but something inferior result? We sin against God saying that we are smarter than He is.  We sin against God saying that we can create better than He can. We sin against God by denying his creation the life God intended for them and denying them to express the characteristics he gave them.  If history and science teach us anything, it is that the more we try to control things apart from God, the worse things get. )

I have a lot of leeway, but no matter what I teach in health and nutrition, I'm just not sure. The more I learn the more I lean towards the truth, especially with my older students. I figure, if they do go home and talk about science/ health class, at least I have opened a door to the truth, at the worst, I get reprimanded for not teaching the curriculum.

Here is a great post about a REAL FOOD pyramid.

God's real food gives me a reason to be passionate about food.

Tuesday, April 13

Sourdough Waffels

About three weeks ago I traded for a sourdough starter. I've been wanting to try sourdough pizzadough and waffels. I'f fed the starter on Saturdays. I've kept it in the fridge other than that. I was worried that it wouldn;t work, and the pizza dough didn't. Then again, I didn't really use a recipe.

Don't get me wrong, I liked the pizza dough. It was just really flat. The DH didn't like that. So we disagree, that means I'll do my homework, find a recipe and try again in a while.

The WAFFLES oh the waffles. They did turn out. I did follow the recipe and it was amazing. They were definitely still whole wheat and needed fruit and maybe even whipped cream. OOHH! That'd be good.  (By the way, the obsession with food is NOT pregnancy related. I just have an excuse to be more verbal about it.)
The recipe is form King Arthur Flour. It is truly amazing. The batter DOES start to bubble when you put the eggs in. It is amazing. I was afraid that string it to combine, which I needed to do aggressively, would be a problem, but it continued to bubble through the second waffle. The batter only made two Belgian waffles, but they were perfect. Here is the link

Sunday, April 4

April Baby Belly

Is it just me or do I look like I have a volleyball hidden under my shirt? For comparison sake. Last month's pic is the one with the pink shirt. (It took me a while to see the difference too.)

Saturday, April 3

Baby and Musings.

We've made it another month. Unfortunately this one promises to be a long long. For Justin things are "Warp speed ahead". Which means he is putting in 18 hour days and I am at home or school becoming deprived of my honey. However, I knew this was part of marrying him and am glad that it only happens twice a year. Plus, he is generally home when or before I am in the winter which is very enjoyable.

We are praying that God continues to bless us through April as He has shown me that He is truely to be trusted with my care and is truely loving as He has provided for us time and again in unexpected ways. He continually guards our health and safety. Baby continues to do well and we just got our test results back that we are not anemic and not currently diabetic. These are not a surprise, but do reassure my Dr. and the many others who seem to believe that something horrid is about to happen. I choose to believe that instead God is faithful. He made me to made and have Baby and He made Baby to live here till Heis ready for something else. Also, He had promised both to bless us and not give us more than we can bear, so whatever else, we are in His hands and have nothing to fear. (Thank you also Lord for blessing me with an attitude that is not uptight and that does not need to be in control!)

However, as yet we have no new baby belly picture. (I'll try to put one in above or in a separate post.) We are due for one it is April. Our loving photographer is MIA. We do however have nursery pictures. You can really see the subtle stripes of our walls in some of these. Sorry for the bad quality. Also, I need to reapply a few of our dots, but many of them remain.


We are hoping to get a dresser to put against the wall with the door.  Right now I have the small three drawer tower there. I may want to put it into the corner where the bouncy set it. We intend to use it as a changing table as well. I also need to get my diaper stuff set up. I need to do a bit more shopping in DSM first. I've also decided that I'm not so sure if the bookcase will work but I do want a couple of shelves  on the wall. Just small ones. Maybe I'll make a few floating ones. I do still intend to make some wall art that has a frog, turtle, duck and butterfly on it. I may do these on

square canvases and put them together somewhere. Where, I have not decided. I also like the current tend of name art, but we can't do that until Baby is born since we won't know until then what we are calling Baby. I do have some prototypes but they are top secret, sorry. 
Below you can see that someone (not me) was very anxious to put together my birthday present/ baby gift. (Thanks Mom and Dad/ Grandma and Grandpa H.) It arrived two nights before busy season did. (He really likes it too by the way. He says that it is very user friendly- folds and adjusts easily.)
We are starting to get very excited but at this point content with waiting two more months (about) to meet Baby. Justin did tell Baby the night he put the stroller together, "You just stay right where you are until Daddy is done pulling smoke." (For those of you who do not live in the corn belt this means applying and/or orchestrating the application of anhydrous ammonia, a chemical in the gaseous state knifed (squirted into the ground through knife like tubes) when the soil is at a temperature (not too warm nor too cold) and state (not too muddy) that the nitrogen in the compound will stay in the ground in an state that is available to the corn as it grows. At least, that is my current understanding of it. I will have to see if that is accurate. (There are still many things that I am learning about farming.)

This having been said, please pray for the safely of the farmers and the other ag sector workers as NH3 is a chemical that needs to be handled with great care and can cause serious damage if a person is exposed to it (the damage being proportionate to the amount of exposure) and as there are many more slow-moving vehicles on the road even during dark o'clock.

Happy Easter! He is risen! Hallelujah! (It is already Sunday in most of the world.)