Saturday, December 29

Just Kidding ... a good article

I do have another post or two. Here's an interesting article on the Health and Wealth movement in the evangelical church, by CBS. Minnesota Mom posted this, and that's where I found it. Thanks, Heidi!!

For the last time ...

Maybe ... I'm posting for the last time this year, 2007. It's been a good year for me. I liked it. Overall, I have to say that I approve of 2007.

Had a lovely, lovely time at Christmas. Visited my mom, John's mom, NASA, my mom again, my dad, and Dale and Jenni. I made out like a bandit, but not quite as much as my kids. I think it's possible that my husband loves me and spoiled me completely rotten. Possible, and even probable. He's such a good man. I really do love him to death. And he looks great in jeans, too. But that's none of your business, thank you very much. (And yes, mom, I really do like his facial hair. So there!)

I hate to jinx myself, but it looks like we just might all make it to church tomorrow. As of now, we're planning on it. We'll see.

Lyndsey is driving to her parents' this evening, and then she's going to come see me in the next few days!! I think. Lyndsey is kind of notorious for not making it to my house when she says she wants to visit, mainly because she's really busy and stuff comes up. I get that. But there's a much better chance of her showing up here if she's in Houston than if she's in New Orleans, like normal. Yay!!!

Now I'm off to the shower, and then I'll watch some news and fall asleep on the couch in front of the fire. I actually have no intention of seeing any of the news before I'm asleep. I'm just saying.

Monday, December 24

It's Almost Here ...


Yeah, I know Christmas is tomorrow, but I won't be here. I'll be at my mom's house, having gallons of coffee, opening millions of presents, and gaining ten pounds by eating cinnamon rolls, lasagna, bread, salad, toffee, pie, more coffee, some candy, probably some more pie, and did I mention the coffee? We leave to see her this evening.

Then tomorrow, after the lasagna, etc, we head to my mother-in-law's house, and start all over with the food, except it'll be a traditional supper, with turkey and stuff. I don't really like turkey, or ham, so I'm a loser at the holidays, but it'll be nice to have some tomorrow.

I hope everyone has a wonderful time with friends and family, and please remember to take a moment to thank God for His wonderful Gift to all of us; it's better than anything we could find in a stocking or open Christmas morning.

In His name, and again, Merry Christmas!!!! God bless!!!

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria. And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Saturday, December 22

Cinnamon Rolls

These babies are gooood. Cinnamon rolls are one of my favorite things (along with raindrops on roses and warm woolen mittens) for breakfast, but we never have them, because I can't get past the part where they're so bad for you that just reading the recipe makes you gain 4 pounds. So, I'm not claiming this recipe is good for you, per se, but it's a lot less bad for you than most. This is really modified from Ree's recipe, which I'll link to at the bottom of the post.

I made these with the kids last week, and the recipe is so big that I just baked the last pan this morning. I made about 6 pans from this. Here's the great part: I used whole wheat pastry flour (also sold as white whole wheat flour, scroll down to the fifth bag), but you can't tell!! This flour is amazing because the nutritional content is the same as whole wheat flour, but it's made from a softer wheat berry, so the texture and color are lighter. It's light and fluffy and you can use it in place of white flour in every recipe except when you're making a roux or breading something to fry it. Trust me on those two. It's my best friend in the whole world.

I use whole wheat in everything else, but was a little nervous to use it in something like cinnamon rolls. It turned out great! John saw me grinning as I watched him try them, and he said in a terrified tone, 'Oh, no! You didn't do anything bad to these, like use whole wheat flour, did you?' I said, 'Honey, I wouldn't do something like that to you. Have no fear.' (And then I gloated to myself, because he had no idea!! Woohoo!!)

So make this less-bad recipe, and your family will love you and worship at your feet and give you no peace until you make another batch.

Cinnamon Rolls
modified by Brea

1 quart low fat milk
1 cup canola oil
3 cups sugar, divided
4 1/2 t yeast (2 packets)
10 cups white whole wheat flour, divided
1 heaping t baking powder
1 scant t baking soda
1 heaping T salt
cinnamon, and lots of it!
1 c butter, melted with 1 1/2 c canola oil
glaze, recipe follows

Scald milk, 1 c canola oil, and 1 c sugar (scalding, for any cooking newbies, is always what you do with milk. Do not ever boil milk, unless specifically instructed. Scalding is heating something through to just before the point of boiling, then removing from the heat). Remove from heat, and let sit for an hour, until it's lukewarm. Stir in yeast, and let it bloom.

Add 8 cups flour, stir together, cover, and let rise for at least an hour. Add powder, soda, salt, and one more cup flour, and mix. (Ree says you can refrigerate the dough at this point for a day or two, but I haven't tried that yet. I'm fat too impatient to have dough just hanging out in my fridge, not being cooked or eaten.)

Sprinkle your rolling surface generously with some of the remaining flour, and take half the dough and make a rough rectangle. Then roll the dough kind of thin, keeping a rectangular shape. It should increase in both width and length as you roll it. Now drizzle half of the melted butter/oil mix. Sprinkle on one cup of sugar. Make sure it's fairly evenly distributed, and then load on the cinnamon. Don't be shy, people. It's cinnamon we're talking here. It's sooo good!! At this point, you could also add a cup of well-chopped pecans. In fact, I recommend it, because it adds so much to the recipe. Roll your rectangle towards you, keeping a tight circle, and pincha seam to keep it shut. Lots of goo will probably come out at this point. This is a messy recipe. Deal with it. :) It's worth it, trust me!!

Spray your 9-inch cake tins very lightly with non-stick spray, and start cutting your dough into 3/4 inch thick slices and putting them into your buttered pans. I was able to fit 7-8 in each pan, and again, this is a very messy process. Deal, and move on.

Repeat with the remaining half of the dough. You should have 6-7 pans (9-inch cake pans) of cinnamon rolls. At this point, you have a few options. One, you let them rise on the counter for 20-30 minutes, and bake at 400 until a very light golden brown. Remove, and glaze, then eat yourself into a stupor.

Your second option, if you're like me and have a maddeningly small oven, is to let three pans rise, and bake those three (or four. Whatever.). Cover the rest with foil, and put them in the fridge and let them hang out, chatting with your eggs and celery and whatnot, for up to three days. Then take them out, uncover, let them sit on the counter while your oven heats up, and then bake at 400 until very light golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Option three is more long term. After you slice the rolls and put them in the pan, cover with heavy-duty foil or two layers of regular foil, and put them in the fridge. Don't try to stack them until they're frozen. Put them in the fridge the night before you want to eat them (12-24 hours before cooking), and then let them hang out on the counter while your oven heats. Cook same as above.

Ree says you can cook, ice, and then freeze them, but again, I haven't tried that, so I can't vouch for it. But she does seem to know what she's talking about, so I would trust her if I were you. Even if she doesn't add pecans to her cinnamon rolls.

Maple Frosting
by Ree

1 bag powdered sugar
2 t maple flavoring
1/2 c milk
1/4 c melted butter
1/4 c coffee
generous pinch of salt

Mix is all up with a whisk in a big bowl. It should be thick but pourable. Generously drizzle over the warm rolls.

I didn't use this recipe, because I can't find maple flavoring. I was cranky. So I just made a glaze with powdered sugar, orange extract, and milk. It was awesome.

These rolls are amazing and not too sweet by themselves, and (dare I say it??) almost healthy without the glaze. I actually only glazed two pans, one that we took to a neighbor, and we've just been eating the rest plain for breakfast. And for our after-nap snack. And maybe for a snack for moi after the kids go to bed. Maybe.

So go forth! Make rolls! Enjoy!! And please, please, please don't ever tell John that thing I told you about the whole wheat. He wouldn't like them nearly as much as he does. :)

Tuesday, December 18

Lions and Tigers and Bears ...

OH MY!! I am getting something completely wonderful for Christmas. Something I've wanted for such a long time. No, it's not a baby. Not yet, anyway. :)

I'm getting a new camera!!!! A really, really nice new camera. We're still deciding between two ... so if you have any wonderful, brilliant, or otherwise helpful insight, please lay it on me!! :)

Choice one

Choice two

I want choice one, but I'm not entirely sure why. And these probably aren't the exact packages we're looking at, it's just the first ones that came up on my amazon search. I'm leaving all that stuff up to John, because he is wonderful and intelligent and I'm really not technologically savvy. At all. It's one of the many reasons I married that handsome man!!


Oops. I've got supper on the stove. Hope it isn't burning ...

Sunday, December 16

Oy. Again.

I was really looking forward to going to church this morning. I mean, really, really looking forward to it. I love our church, and we've missed the last two weeks due to John's back and the kids being sick. I had most of our clothes picked out and ready last night, I went to sleep early so I would be well rested, and I even had the diaper bag by the door ready to go (complete with diapers, wipes, and sticker books for the big kids).

Then Evie threw up last night. A lot. John got up with her, changed her sheets, and gave her a bath because she was a mess. She seemed fine this morning, and had breakfast with no problems, so we decided to skip Sunday School and just go to service. Yay!!

Then I went to kiss David and possibly eat him a little because he's so durned cute, and I noticed that he smelled a little funny. Then I remembered that all the kids had baths last night, and realized that he shouldn't smell funny. I went up to his bed, and sure enough, he had also thrown up at some point during the night. One kids get sick, and is fine the next morning, and you can write it off as maybe something just didn't agree with her tummy. Two get sick? When we all ate the same things the day before? Can't really write that one off.

So I'm here with the invalids (who seem to be doing just fine), and John and Sam are at church. David is asleep, and Evie are going to work on her closet, which looks like something exploded in it. We'll just relax and hope for the best, but you know? I don't feel so hot either. I'm praying it's in my head, but we'll see.

We watched one of our favorite movies last night, the old Adventures of Robin Hood with Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland. Such a great movie! The kids just love it. Tonight, we're going to watch White Christmas with Bing Crosby, and this one has to be one of my favorite movies of all time. I remember watching it every year when I was little. John doesn't like it. Obviously, this makes him a little stoopid, because no reasonable person doesn't like White Christmas. Seriously.

On the up side, I'm out of my funk, and my fingers seem to be healed from all the hot glue burning (ok, maybe I'm milking that one a little). Lyndsey and I talked for a while yesterday, and we're trying a few new things with out housework this week, so it'll be fun to see how we each do with that. Other than that, I don't know much new. Please pray for us, that we would just all get well!! I have no desire to be sick over Christmas ... we've already got enough drama as it is!! :)

Thursday, December 13

An Open Letter To My Mother

Dear Mom:

I love you so very much. You are a fantastic mom, and a great grandmother. I would not be the person I am today, in so many little ways, without all the wonderful things you have taught to me and shared with me. Thank you for everything you have done, and for putting up with me through some of the more difficult years of my life. You gave me my love for music of all kinds, and taught me how to be kind and graceful under pressure (ok, I'm still working on that one ...), and showed me the many wonders of Rogers and Hammerstein musicals. I think you're just great!

But please don't ever give my children a gift that requires a hot glue gun again. My fingertips are burning, and the kids are just desperate for me to leave the glue gun low enough so they can sneak off with it, plug it in, and hot glue everything within sight to each other. Let's just stick to slightly less destructive things, like glitter, or homemade silly putty, or rubber cement, or good old-fashioned tempura paint, ok?

You loving and grateful (with this one exception) daughter,


Sorry I haven't posted in a while; I've been in a funk. I think hormones and weather are contributing, but it's other things, too. My diet hasn't been great. I haven't been sleeping as well as I should (stupid book on Greece!). I haven't felt motivated to make bread in like two weeks; this may sound strange, but it just makes my heart happy to bake and it really lifts my spirit.

And a very sad thing happened last Saturday. Mr McCormick, the sweetest and most wonderful older man in our church, passed away. He was 88, and in mostly good health, but he had a stroke and was gone before he got to the hospital. We had been getting to know him better over the last few months, because we had started taking him a meal once a week. He lived by himself, so we would take food and then stay for a while and visit. He was crazy about the kids, and they just loved him to death. He was in the Army Air Corps in WWII, and Sam especially loved to hear him talk about his experiences.

The kids have had some experience with death, like when John's grandfather passed away a few months back. But they weren't very close to him, so this is somewhat new territory for them. When we told Sam and Evie, they were very sad, and then asked, 'Why?' They've not asked us that before, and I just tried ot be honest with them. I said, 'You know guys, we were so lucky to know Mr McCormick. God blessed us so much by allowing us to be in his life. He loved y'all, and he loved the other kids at the church, but most of all, he loved God. He was such a wonderful, wise man of God, and he always talked to us about how much God had blessed him, and he loved to sing hymns. And God decided that it was time for Mr McCormick to go home, so God probably said, 'Ray, you are one of my sons and I love you, and it's time for you to come Home and be with Me. Come on Home, Ray!' And so Mr McCormick is with God in Heaven now.'

They were very accepting of that. And then they wanted to know how he was going to get to Heaven. Such is any conversation with 4- and 5-year-olds.

So that's my funk. I think I'm getting closer to coming out. Our Christmas tree is up, and simply but wonderfully decorated. Except for the bottom foot and a half, where the baby keeps sneaking up and taking down the candy canes and trying to eat them. He's got it hard, I tell you. :) Hopefully, I'll be up for posting something more interesting in a few days.

Wednesday, December 5

I love this feeling

I'm done with my Christmas shopping!!!! Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!

We all went down to San Marcos (hello, outlet mall!) on Monday; we left around 11 and got home just after 6:00. It was a surprisingly good day. Yesterday, the kids and I went to Austin to finish up the shopping; we left around 10 and got home about 4:30. The kids were amazing both days, I loved being with them (well, if we're being honest, I loved being with them about 93.5% of the time), and I even managed to do a lot of shopping for them while they were with me. Yay again!!

The only things I have left are a few things for John, and one of our two Angel Tree kids. (This is a wonderful ministry, celebrating their 25th year this year. Check them out. If your church doesn't do this, this is something wonderful for you to look in to for next Christmas. A real blessing.) Anywhoooo, we chose two kids this year, and we've completed the gifts for one. The ladies in the church have a wrapping party for all the gifts in a week, and I'm excited about that.

I had my book club Christmas party Sunday, which was amazing, and my sides hurt from laughing so much, and my cheeks were sore from smiling so much. It's a good feeling. I'll write more about it later.

I was just lamenting yesterday afternoon to Kristie how I was kind of bummed that we don't have a tree up yet, because we usually have one up by the first of December. We've had a lot going on, though, between having the family out for Thanksgiving, people over after that, John hurting his back, the cold we've all had for like two weeks now, and John's car getting hit. Then that wonderful, sweet, and incredibly attractive man surprised me when he got home last night ... He bought me a tree!! He and Sam were going to go cut one like they did last year, but we've just had too much going on. So today, I'll dig out all the Christmas stuff, tonight John and I will set up the tree, and tomorrow, we'll decorate the tree. It's a tradition that we both love. I'll make cocoa, we'll play Christmas music, John and the kids put all the decorations on the tree, and I'll either string popcorn or wrap presents. Or maybe both, because I am the world's best multi-tasker. Not really, but I can pretend, right?? :)

We also got some good new about the car yesterday. The insurance company is going to total it, and they're giving us more than we were hoping for. Way more than we were expecting. We're actually going to end up getting almost as much as we paid for it, and that was two and a half years and 50,000 miles ago. Yet another yay!!

Now, I'm off to make some breakfast, and then do school. And laundry. And make bread. And clean Evie's room. And find Christmas stuff. And try to clean my kitchen. And floor. And take a nap. And play with the world's cutest baby. And mix up some new tea. And start getting ready for some very special company this weekend.

Why am I still sitting here?? I have so much to do!! Maybe I'll just have one more cup of coffee first ...