Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Virtual Running Date No. 56: Pancakes for now and later

Hello Crushers!

This past weekend was an easy one for running. I just did two miles, but it felt great! Steve did 7 and rocked it. It's nice that the weather is warming up, but it is not nice that those little swarms of midges are back. So. Gross.

Don't worry, I didn't take a picture. Eeeeeew.

If this were a running date, I'd tell you how I may have gone a little overboard with planting this year...

This shot did not include my rosemary, basil, tomato, rhubarb, raspberry and pepper plants.
Or the plants that Steve is growing from seed. 
So, yeah. There's that. Fortunately, Ellie had a great time sitting outside in her little sun shade playing while Mama and Dada got a little dirty.

If this were a running date, I'd tell you that I'm sorry for the frost warning we had on Tuesday. I just have trouble waiting to plant after Memorial Day. Ugh!

If this were a running date, I'd tell you that I've had a craving for pancakes for several weeks now, but Pancake King Steve hasn't made them yet. Oh, until Sunday night...

If this were a running date, I'd confess that I gave up waiting and made myself (and Ellie and my sister) some tropical pancakes on Friday morning. Steve, honey, if you're reading this, I'm really sorry!

If this were a running date, I'd also tell you that you can freeze pancakes for later. That means Ellie and I have pancakes for any day we want without having to make a mess as often! Yippee!

Hungry?
Tropical Pancakes
Ingredients:
1 cup flour
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 tsp coconut extract
1 Tbsp vegetable oil for coating the pan

Toppings: we used bananas, strawberries and pineapple chunks

Directions:
In a bowl, whisk all ingredients together except the oil for the pan and the toppings. Yes, yes, you can do the dry and wet ingredients separately, but why make another dish dirty? Make sure all the large lumps are gone, but a few small ones are OK. I suggest using a bowl with a spout to make pouring easier.

Heat a large skillet or griddle to medium and dampen a folded paper towel with some oil. Using a pair of tongs or VERY CAREFULLY using your fingers, carefully rub the skillet with oil. I did not use grapeseed oil from Wildtree for this because it's green and I didn't want to risk green pancakes.

Pour 2-3 tablespoons of batter out for each pancake. No need to measure unless you really want to, but it's pretty easy to eye-ball. Cook until the wet surface of the pancakes have some bubbles that have burst. Flip carefully (trust me) and cook until the underside is lightly browned. This takes about a minute or a bit more. Repeat until you have a stack of pancakes.

Serve with toppings and enjoy!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Faith-Filled Friday: I'm here.

Hello Crushers!

Today's Faith-Filled Friday comes to you thanks to Steve and Ellie. Ellie is at the age where she wants to explore things on her own and doesn't always need me nearby. It is funny to see how she flips almost every toy or book or whatever is in her hands upside down. This is especially "charming" when it's a plate of food or cup of water. Regardless of the mess it makes, you can see her learning about texture, weight, size, colors, and yes, gravity.

There are times where she may be flipping a toy over and over, but she stops and looks for me as if to say, "Hey Mama, look how neat this is!" She's just checking in although growing her independence.

Then there are the moments when she either realizes that I'm not right there at her side or when stranger danger kicks in, and she cries out looking for me or Steve. That's what inspired this post.

On Thursday night, Steve and I were cleaning up dinner dishes while Ellie was in the middle of our living room. We could see her looking at books and testing out her ability to scoot backwards. All of a sudden, she cried out in distress. I don't know if it was because she was stuck or just weirded out by her new-found mobility (heaven help us). Steve responded by saying, "It's OK. I'm here."

It made me think of how many times I've said these four little words. Those two tiny sentences make such a difference to her whether it's the middle of the night or while she's playing or being held by a friend of ours that we don't see often. I'm here, sweet girl.

All of these things shows that she is learning about her world around her. It is heartwarming to know that while she explores, she still needs us. She has along way to go before she is truly independent. It is also wonderful to know that when she is upset, our presence comforts her like some parental superpower.
And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. - Matthew 28:20 
God assures us of this same thing. He truly has that superpower. He's here with us. He came to Earth once as a man. He lived among us, died for us, and rose again for us. He's with us in spirit. He's waiting for us in Heaven. What a comforting thought!

Can't you hear him? "It's OK. I'm here."

Wouldn't it be great if we stopped what we were doing during good moments to check in with God as if to say "Hey, look how neat this is! Thanks for creating such a beautiful world." Wouldn't it be great to turn to God first in those other moments when we feel lost or afraid? He'll always answer.

"It's OK. I'm here."

Please join me in checking in with God more often. It's OK. He's there.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Faith-Filled Friday: Just a little late, but full of love and cake

Hello Crushers!

Sorry that this is actually Monday and not Friday for the weekly devotional post. I stayed up late on Thursday to finish reading the chapters I needed to for our small group Bible study. One section of the book inspired this post.

We hosted it at our house this time around and it was my turn to make dessert. I made Sandra Lee's Strawberry Margarita Bars, and I even took a picture! However, something happened and it got deleted and we ate the whole pan. So, you'll just have to go to the link and check it out. I also made sour cream pound cake with a twist. That recipe is below.

Anyway, back to the Bible class...

Our wedding ceremony was very "lovey". We had hymns and Bible passages that all had to do with love. There's nothing wrong with this. I just look back and think, "Huh, I do love an event with a theme, don't I?" Geesh. 

One of our selected Bible readings was the classic 1 Cor 13 - the Love chapter. (verses 4-8a, 13 below)


Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. 
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
You hear this over and over at weddings, and sometimes it gets old. I'm so glad we read this Bible commentary book about marriage and family now because it gave me a new way to look at this verse. Quite frankly, it also made me laugh. The author said how this isn't just love as a feeling, but this is love in action.

Steve and I are action people if nothing else. Time how long we sit still...

Love does things. This is love in motion. Love in action! I think that marriages or any close relationships work because you don't just feel love; you put love in the little things you do for each other. It's in the notes and pictures I stick in Steve's lunch box. It's in the way he vacuums for me. It's in the way that he stayed home with Ellie so I could run 10 miles. It's in the way I make sure there are bagels in the house for him. It's all these little things that show each other that we care.

How great would it be if we could treat each other, not just in our close relationships, but in all encounters with love? I'm not saying we should accept bad behavior or anything like that. We can control how we act and respond toward others, though. We can show love. We can do love.

Join me?

Another thing we can do is make pound cake -

Pound Cake
Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter
3 eggs
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
Berries or chocolate sauce for topping

Directions:
 Preheat the oven to 325 F. Allow butter, eggs and yogurt to stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes (unless it's a really hot day, then use your best judgement). Grease and lightly flour a loaf pan.

In your mixing bowl, beat butter until smooth and then add the sugar until it's light and fluffy. Add in vanilla and almond extracts (you could skip the vanilla and do lemon or other citrus too). Add in the eggs one at a time so they don't go splat everywhere. Add in the yogurt. You'll probably need to scrape the bowl. Add all the dry ingredients. Pour the batter in the prepared pan.

Bake for 60-75 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. The crust will be a golden brown. Cool on a rack for for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Then let it completely cool. Serve with chocolate sauce, berries, ice cream or all three!

Virtual Running Date No. 55: Switching gears!

Hello Crushers!

If this was a running date, I'd have to tell you that I did not run this weekend. Instead, I skipped the opportunity to be on a team with friends for the Color Run (which was totally OK to skip) and gave blood instead (warning - photo of arm with tubes taped to it - no blood or needles though).
Be a hero! Donate blood if you can!
We worked on our house and garden this weekend so we could have a lovely Mother's Day with our moms. My yard is dandelion free for the moment. Woohoo!

If this was a running date, I would tell you that Steve and Ellie gave me my gift on Saturday night instead of Sunday. Going back in time, Steve has been working on this project from Ellie for over a month. One day, he was really frustrated because something wasn't working, but he couldn't tell me. I sat him down and said, "I appreciate all of the love, time, and energy that you are putting into this gift, but just so you know, I would have been really happy with a new cutting board."

Little did I know that he had already bought me a cutting board after I couldn't shut up about the one that I used at my cooking class back in January. HA!

Anyway, he (and Ellie), took tons of photos from my phone, his phone, our cameras and even some from my sister and mom and made me a slide show with music from our engagement pictures through Ellie's first year. I laughed, I cried (especially at the photos of my grandparents who have passed away at our wedding and then with Ellie), I "oohed" and "aahed". It was so thoughtful, and I'm so glad to have these years captured all in one place! I think we might have to continue this tradition, but add more of Steve to the photos, too!

If this was a running date, I'd be able to tell you my idea for Steve for Father's Day, which is also his birthday, but since he sometimes reads this blog to catch up, I can't tell you. Also, sorry for the run-on sentence.

If this was a running date, I'd tell you that I got to spend time with my mom and my mother-in-law this weekend. What a fantastic bunch of ladies! My sister had her first Mother's Day and my brother and his wife and kids were in town, too. All the little cousins had fun playing together and Ellie took her first assisted steps this weekend. AH!

My brother, sister, mom and I - Mother's Day 2015.
If this was a running date, I'd also tell you that my nephew, Patrick, had his first race last week. There is a local running series where they live in Peoria that does weekly kids' races. You show up, pay a small fee (I think they said it was $2), let the kiddos run a quarter mile with a race bib, and then they get a ribbon. Patrick was SO excited! My mini-runner!

If this was a running date, I would tell you how our house is switching gears. Now that my half marathon is over, it is Steve's turn to train. He signed up for a full marathon taking place in September. As a teacher, he will have a good chunk of summer away from work so he can do some heavier training before the school year starts in again. By then, he should be tapering his miles anyway. So excited for him!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A Sad, and Probably Salty, Good Bye

Hello Crushers,
I'm sorry to spread the news that one of my favorite regular features from NPR is going away. The Salt's feature on crazy sandwiches and other I-can't-believe-that's-food items is done. "Sandwich Monday" will no longer be there to tempt or traumatize us.

That's all.

Sniffle...

In other news, I think I'm going to attempt Strawberry Shortcake Bars for our Friday Bible Study group.

In other, other news, I think our Friday Bible Study group needs a name. Suggestions?

Monday, May 4, 2015

Virtual Running Date No. 54: Door County Half Marathon

Hello Crushers!
I am back home safe and sound after a lovely weekend in Door County! Door County is one of the many options for people when you hear them refer to "Up North". My usual Up North is closer to Minocqua, Wisconsin, but Door County is also very lovely! Plus, it has Peninsula State Park where this race was.

This race had it all!
Beautiful weather? Check!
Closed course so you don't have to worry about cars? Check!
Hills? Check! (grumble grumble)
Pirates at the Mile 5 water station? Check! (They had Gator-aaaayde)
Awesome running friends that you meet just because they have your same pace and you will probably never see again your whole life but are so glad they found you and you got to encourage each other? Check!

Gorgeous day, excellent volunteers, cool race shirts and medals and more. Seriously, go run this race.

Don't forget to do some hill training though. Your quads will thank you.

Here are a few photos from the race:
Pre-race hugs
I finished!
(Yes, I know I am wearing a finisher shirt from another race. Whatever.)
 
Celebratory ice cream! Ellie kept trying to steal some of Steve's, so we let her have some.
We now have a tiny ice cream monster. 

My race goal time was 2:30. I made it - by 1 second!
Hope you all enjoyed the weekend! Time to go unpack and do some wash!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Faith-filled Friday: Flowers

Hello Crushers!

The first tulip in our yard has bloomed. It makes my heart so happy! Today's Faith-filled Friday is going to be short and sweet.

Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. - Luke 12:27-31
Last night was a devastating episode of Grey's Anatomy. I won't go into the details in case you haven't seen it yet. However, if you know anything about Shonda Rhimes' shows, you know that she will kill off characters as fast as Julian Fellows (Downton Abbey) or the guy who wrote Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin. If none of those names mean anything to you, let's just say they knock off characters in a blink.

Anyway, I did not get to see the episode, but I did read the recap and it made me so mad. Was I sad about the characters? Yes, but I was more annoyed with how real it was. Unless the writer/director was trying to make a statement, I enjoy my TV to make me laugh or wondering whodunit. I watch enough news, thank you. I've had enough family members have difficulty with the medical field red tape. I don't need to watch it destroy a great character.

I don't need TV to make me worry. I can handle that all on my own.

The passage I picked for today is a great reminder for me. When I tend to worry, which happens more than I'd like to admit, I have to think of the flowers. They just grow. They have sunshine and water and they just grow. Yes, you can add fertilizer and such, but in almost any climate, you can find flowers. Cacti have them in the dessert. Tropical flowers can be found in an abundance near the equator. Even in snowy climates, spring pops up like my tulips.

God takes care of them. He takes even greater care of us. Let's not forget his great care, focus on his great blessings and worry less.

He knows we watch enough crap on TV. Heh.

Prayer request: My cousin's wife, Mari, has no more options left for her cancer treatment. Jim, my cousin, has set up home hospice care for her. Please ask for strength and peace for everyone involved. Thank you.