Monday, April 29, 2013

Shepherd's Pie

I grew up less than three hours away from where we live now. 

At least if you make the trip minus small children it's less than three hours. 

Anyway, for the most part, the food is about the same. And why wouldn't it be? But there is one dish I had never heard of until we moved up here. Shepherd's pie. Ever heard of it? I had it at church and fell in love; we've been eating it ever since. I made it for my parents and mom requested the recipe. 

Now my mom is good. She doesn't need this recipe because I explained the whole thing to her. (Maybe that means I'm good?)  But I just realized I had never posted it. So here's this delicious Kentucky meal! 

1 lb. hamburger meat
salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, steak seasoning
1/2 package mushrooms
1 cup corn, frozen or canned (oh, you can use mixed veggies here; it's just not my preference)
2 cans cream of mushroom soup (or the equivalent: I use this recipe)
2 cups mashed potatoes
1-2 cups cheddar cheese

Brown meat with my normal meat seasonings (you know: salt, pepper, etc)

Then I whipped up a double batch of the cream of soup. 

Slice your mushrooms.

Add mushrooms to pan and cook for three minutes. 

Pour corn into pan. 

Then pour in your cream of soup.

Yup! Used Dexter to mash my potatoes! :) 

Pour meat mixture into baking dish. 

Top with seasoned mashed potatoes. 

Pour desired amount of cheese on top. Now I believe the best part of any meal is the cheese so my desired amount is a little larger. And cheese is expensive. Gotta work on that!

I cleaned my oven so I put the baking dish on a cookie sheet. Keep that oven pretty! Bake at 400 until cheese is browned and filling is bubbly. 

And if you don't leave yours in the oven and forget it's there your cheese won't pull away from the sides of the pan like this. But it's yummy either way. 

Comfort food at its finest! 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Friday Favorites

Another Friday! Anybody else feel like these weeks click by quickly?

I've found two links this week that I want to share. The first from Inspired to Action talks about motherhood as a discipline. I like the way she is so intentional about preparing for different situations. And the next article from GraceLaced talks about motherhood as an art. Totally different faces of the same coin and I loved them both!

And your pictures...

My mom bought this book for Micah and he loves it. The illustrations are my favorite! 

I found this idea on Pinterest. You write down different things that happen through the year and then read them all on New Year's Eve. That should be an interesting way to remember the year! 

I bought several music theory books. We were just starting theory when my teacher moved away (in elementary school!). I've already found the information very helpful and this should definitely keep me busy! I love to keep learning! 

Someone was just waking up from his nap. He's adorable. 

And speaking of adorable...check out that baby! Love his crazy hair! 

A two-year-old! 

And a three-year-old! 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Ambassadors in Training

I once read an article about how parents teach peer pressure to their small children with their words. "Would you want Johnny to see you acting like that?" "What would Susie think if she saw you do that?" Then those children grow up and all they care about is what Johnny or Susie thinks of them. The article then suggested that we teach our children to care about what Jesus thinks. "It makes Jesus happy when you are nice to your brother." "Jesus likes it when you obey." 

I've been incorporating similar phrases into my praise of Micah and it's carried over to other things. Often I'll explain to him that we behave certain ways because we represent Jesus. Because we want others to see Jesus when they look at us. Why does it matter?  I want him to grow up looking at his own life through a Biblical perspective, not worrying about what a friend thinks. 

photo courtesy of Stuart Miles/

"Now then we are ambassadors for Christ..." 2 Corinthians 5:20.  We do represent Jesus in everything we do. Micah's smart; he'll notice quickly if I'm telling him one thing and doing something different myself.  So I have to remind myself, "I'm representing Jesus."

 If an unsaved person were tied to my arm (think Apostle Paul and his Roman guards) would they be won to Christ by my behavior? By my behavior when someone cuts me off on the road? By my behavior when it's thirty minutes until naptime? By my behavior when my husband is working late? Could my testimony as a Christian be doing more harm than good to the name of Christ? 

Not only could I be doing harm to unbelievers who might be watching me, I might also be doing harm to my own children. I want to teach them by word and example so I have to train myself first.  So my reminder to myself- as I pick out my clothes, as I choose my words, as I focus my days- is that I'm an ambassador. Jesus left me here to show Him to others. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Micah's 3rd Birthday

"Somewhere safe."  It was the basis of my most distinct and most impossible feeling of intensive care. I wanted to yank out all the wires and tubes, snatch my baby up, and run far far away. Somewhere he was safe and healthy. Where all I needed to do was rock him and whisper sing to him during the night.  Where all he needed was food and snuggling, not Iv's, dialysis, or blood transfusions. 

Instead all I could do was wait. And pray. And wait and pray some more. Time there functions differently than in real life. It was startling to realize that life for everyone we knew was continuing as normal because life had paused inside that hospital. Things I had never considered consumed my world.  Would the ammonia counts stay down? Would he come out of his coma? 

 Every beautiful spring day still reminds me of those weeks in the hospital.  The sun shone. The birds sang. The window in Micah's room in the B-Pod overlooked the Ronald McDonald house where we had a room. We didn't stay there much. We spent nights in Micah's room listening to machines beep and tube-feeding formula, talking to nurses and watching Micah sleep. The night pace is much slower. I learned to read all the machines Micah was hooked up to; it almost caused me to have a heart attack when he started having arrythmias and we were the only ones in his room. 

The pace of the nicu may not be soothing to a mama's heart but somehow God uses it to heal small bodies. I used to sit in the rocker beside his bed and cuddle him, determined to figure out how to do whatever was necessary to help him stay healthy. Place NG tubes, mix formula, count leucine. I didn't care what we had to do as long as we got to do it.  

And we have gotten to do it. Today he turns three. That piece of my heart in little boy form. My miracle that I almost didn't have.  He grins as I kiss his face and runs up behind me for a hug. He rests his head on my shoulder before I tuck him into bed and my heart skips a beat capturing the moment. Thankfully, he's had few complications from IVA. Yes, there have been plenty of doctor's appointments, trips to the ER, visits to Cincinnati, and clock-driven gtube feeds.  But God has blessed him with amazing health. And I wouldn't give back anything I've learned for a smoother experience.  Instead I thank God every day that he's still here. 

Happy Birthday, Micah! 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Crash Potatoes

Potatoes are so yummy! Starchy. Cheesy. 

Potatoes should definitely be cheesy.

 Crispy. Yum...Unless it's mashed potatoes. Then please, hold the crisp. 

These potatoes are some of our favorites now. I've seen them many different places and everybody says, "I found these on the internet." So somewhere is an unidentified genius! 

I use red potatoes but you could use any kind of small potato. 

6 small potatoes, scrubbed
salt, pepper, garlic powder, basil
parmesan cheese

(My not measuring problem is growing instead of shrinking. Sorry!)

Boil potatoes until tender. This is why you want small ones. Otherwise you'll be here a long time! And start with cold water! 

Spread baking sheet with oil. 

Place potatoes on baking sheet equally spaced out from one another. 

Using forks in this pattern, smash potatoes. Or for pity's sake, buy a potato masher. They can't be that much, right?? 

Liberally add salt, pepper, garlic, and basil. Sprinkle more oil over the top. It already looks good! 

Sprinkle desired amount of parmesan cheese over the top. Desired amount = a lot! 

Bake at 400 for twenty minutes. Or if you get impatient burn on the broiler and brown that cheese. But the bottoms get crisper with the longer baking method. 

Yum, yes! They're good with everything! And they are best hot. Hot food always reminds me of that episode of the Cosby show where Cliff imitates Theo at the pizza place...yeah? You've not seen it? Nobody else has either. It's my favorite tv show. You should really watch it.

And eat potatoes. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Day Late

Yes, it's Saturday.

No, I didn't post yesterday. The hubs and I watched a movie last night instead.

I'll try to be extra awesome to make up for it.

First- two articles.  Number one: post on being a mama.
Number two: Doctor Mom on her fifth baby.

Dexter is the newest addition to our kitchen. Can we say "EXCITED"??? He works awesome. And he's pretty. I mean, handsome. 

 Yes, Micah's in a booster now. *wipes tear* But to his great delight this has meant a lot of trips with Dad because his seat just lifts out of the car now. 

The university my husband works out has a Faculty Staff Appreciation Dinner every April. We attended that this past week and had a great time. Top picture is obviously with the hubs. And then my best friend. Yeah, she's pretty cool.

We're totally crazy around here. We tried this out last night. It could have been better! 

 But that adorableness....amazing! And I could post four times as many pictures because I really do take that many. But who has time for that??

Happy Sunday...tomorrow, of course! 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Homemaking Dreams

My boys and I go on a walk almost every morning we are home from April to about October. It's gorgeous out and it helps deplete some of that almost-three-year-old-energy. We walk down our road, around the corner, and back to a cemetery. (We've lived by cemeteries since we've been married. Glad I'm not superstitious.) On the way back to the cemetery we pass a gorgeous old white house. I love houses, especially old ones, and I've always been intrigued by this one. 

This week an older woman was there when we went by. She stopped us so that she could look at Kevin- who was sound asleep in the baby wrap- and we started talking about the house. She said that at one point it was a bed and breakfast. Now I've always loved the idea of a bed and breakfast; I think it would be thrilling to own one someday. When we got back home I was daydreaming about creating a beautiful space for others to relax and recharge and cooking them delicious food. And I realized something.

I already do that. 

People go to a bed and breakfast for a home away from home. You are essentially a homemaker for other people on a short basis. Now with a business you are recognized as a business owner. You get rewards and accolades (and some bad reviews).  But in essence it would be the same thing I am doing now with my family.

Photo Courtesy of Matt Banks/ 

I may not have paying customers but there's nobody in the world that I love like my family. It might not bring in income but hopefully it will show results in our children's lives for years to come. I get to live my dream every day and I want to approach my work with the same enthusiasm that I was picturing pouring into a bed and breakfast. Make it beautiful, comfortable, comforting. 

Of course there is much more to it than the simple work. There's no intrinsic value of homemaking above anything else. We could have someone else cook, clean, change diapers, run errands, do laundry, etc. The spiritual aspect of homemaking is what elevates it to God's call on my life. Homemaking is nothing unless my husband and children are pointed to Christ by my work. Unless they serve Him more because I'm here.

The goal is that my presence in my home frees up my husband's time and energy to complete his work and serve at church. My presence in our home allows me the opportunity to teach and train our children. My management should save my husband's money so that we have more to give to church and missions. Our home should be a place where my family can recharge and be pointed to Jesus. 

If we have an atmosphere in our home that points to Jesus I will have to set it. That means my most important priority is my relationship with God. To properly serve God at home I must draw close to Him every day. I am nothing without Jesus and I cannot fulfill my purpose without Jesus. 

This means that the relationships in my home are more important than task lists. Being a cheerful wife is more important than ironed shirts. Consistent discipline of my children is more important than daily chores. Creating memories and managing our home atmosphere is more important than grocery shopping and running errands. Teaching toddlers is more important than doing laundry. Obviously, I believe those other things are important. We love a clean house to live in, clean clothes to wear. We have to cook and go grocery shopping. But I have to remember that those are just means to an end to what I'm really trying to accomplish. 

So when I get discouraged I'm going to remember my bed and breakfast dream. And then I'm going to remember that I'm living it right now. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Mexican Braid

Are you getting tired of my Pinspiration yet? I was originally going to make a enchilada casserole but sometimes Justin's not crazy about the texture of tortillas baked in a sauce. So we made it into a braid! So yummy! We did manage to save some for lunch the next day but only because we really, really tried! 

Make some pizza dough! You're actually going to see a VERY similar recipe is you go to that link. 

1 lb. ground meat
1 1/2 cups black beans
1 tbsp. taco seasoning
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup enchilada sauce
2 cups cheddar cheese
1 egg, beaten, with 1 tbsp. water
garlic powder and parsley

Spread half of the pizza dough into a sheet pan. 

Brown your meat and drain off grease. Add taco seasoning and 1/2 cup water. Cook until water has evaporated. Add beans, salsa, and enchilada sauce. Cook for another five minutes.

Spread filling down the center of dough.

Cut the dough on either side of filling into strips. Top filling with cheese!

 Criss-cross dough strips over filling, alternately sides to make a pretty "braid."

Combine beaten egg and water. Brush in a thin layer over the dough. Sprinkle with garlic powder and parsley. Bake at 400 for 15-18  minutes or until top of dough is browned and crispy.

Doesn't that look delicious? It was amazing!! Go enjoy!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Friday Favorites

Picture overload today, people! Apparently I took tons of pictures the past week and a half! And I love them all! 

And....drum roll please....Happy Birthday to my mom! I'd tell you how old she is but she might kill me. You wouldn't believe me anyway! 

 First time on a big boy swing. He loved it! And only fell off once :) 

Now I knew we had enough baby clothes for three or four babies. I didn't know we had enough baby clothes for fifteen babies! When I went through Kevin's clothes, I sorted out enough for us to keep and I'm taking all of these to my cousin who is having her first boy. I'm so glad she needs them! 

Kevin loved the park! 

Veggie Tales after naptime!

Kevin does NOT like baby food. Mixing it into his cereal did not trick him either. 

There's so much cuteness I don't know what to do with myself! Enjoy your weekend!