Friday, August 31, 2012

Ok Summer, You Can Stick Around a Little Longer

As we were driving home from my doctor's appointment yesterday I was reminiscing about my days of summer camp and my great love for the Cherry Garcia Peace Pop.
My mind automatically wonders to sweet concoctions after I've had to weigh in and hear about how big I am, or the size of my feet, or that I'm not my doctor's biggest patient.  And that there's actually a woman bigger than me, AND she's Filipino.  Seriously, it's worse than a weight watchers meeting!  I just laugh it off most days.
So when I got home the only thing I could think about was busting out the ice-cream maker!  Luckily it takes time to make, and I was too full to splurge so I'll enjoy it more once my senses come back to me and I'm not so emotionally hung up on the words of my doctor who's a 1/3 of my size.
And while I didn't have dark cherries I did have the next best thing to making up an ice-cream euphoria of my own.  Strawberries.  
Now I just need a name worthy of this mix.  It's time to Name that Ice-Cream.  Any suggestions?

In the meantime, here's the recipe.

The Base:
1 can full fat coconut milk
1/2 cups non dairy milk (I used Vanilla Almond Breeze this go around)
1/2 cup agave
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 TBS. coconut oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. xanthan gum

The Mix-Ins:
about 20 strawberries
2 tsp. raw sugar
a hand of dark chocolate chips
splash of coconut oil

Start by preheating your oven to 300.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Quarter your strawberries and place on pan and sprinkle with 2 tsp. raw sugar.  Bake for 25 minutes on center rack.  Then turn off the heat and then allow the berries to cool completely.
*side note:  I used frozen berries and it worked almost just fine.  I had to transfer cookie sheets half way through since they were releasing so much juice, and I didn't want it to burn to the pan and create a mess.  And I roasted them for about 10-15 minutes longer.  Also, save the juice, it's delicious in Perrier! 
While they're roasting you can mix your base together in a blender and then chill, since it takes 2-3 hours to firm up in the freezer.
Once your base has chilled, follow manufacturer's instructions on ice-cream maker a blend away.  While this is happening melt your chocolate with a splash of coconut oil.  The coconut oil will help it to melt as well as harden back up once you place it in your ice-cream mix to give you ribbons of dark chocolate chunks. Once it's melted set it aside to allow it to cool off a bit.  About 3/4 of the way through your blending of your base mix, add your strawberries.  In the last few minutes slowly pour in chocolate at different increments to allow it to blend throughout your mixture.  Once it's all done, scoop back into your freezer safe container and allow it to chill for 2-3 more hours until firm or overnight.  
While I am excited for Fall to be here in all of it's glory and pumpkinness, I'll be patient just a little while longer with a bowl of this in hand and spoon in mouth!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

1 Month Left

Or more or less...

With this little guy who really knows?  I mean he's already done everything in his own accord and decides to make us wait until he's good and ready.  So we'll just wait and be patient until he decides he's ready to enter this world.  But we sure are ready for him.  Almost! =)
We've been working hard at getting all of his clothes separated and washed, and Jordan's been vacating his office so Desmond can have a room.  We still have lots to do, but with each new day we can't wait till he's here with us.  I know it will probably come quickly and we'll wonder how it happened so fast and then the next thing you know we'll be sending him off to college.
Ok ok, maybe I'm getting a little ahead of myself but I'm realizing more and more how precious life and time are and how we just need to slow down and enjoy.  And slowing down I am.  I feel so lethargic these days.  No longer can I speed walk through the mall, or lift big things, and go for hours.  I tucker out pretty fast and I hate it.  I'm ready to have my old energy back.  But will it ever come?  That is the question.  I know life is about to become drastically different and things will never really be the same.  But it's ok.  We're ready to embrace a new normal.

Pumpkin Spice is so Very Nice & I've Used it Twice

I absolutely love Fall!  Last year we were getting ready to move here to the Philippines and by the time we got here at the end of October, Christmas had already been in full swing for months.  I felt like I missed an entire Season.  Maybe that's why I've been so anxious to bust out all of my orange and brown decorations, and start cooking with some pumpkin!  Jordan said I should at least hold off until September, but I just couldn't wait any longer.  I've been trying to get some meals prepared and ready so I have to do less cooking in our near future with the arrival of Desmond, but I couldn't help but deviate from my plan a little with that little can starring at me every time I opened the cupboard door.
It was time to make some delicious Fall treats.  And there were a few things I was craving...
I looked around on the web and compared a few recipes, ultimately settling on adapting this one.
Pumpkin Walnut Biscotti

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups spelt flour
3/4 cup raw sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 heaping tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Enger-G Egg Replacer Eggs
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Sift together flours, sugar, spices, baking powder and salt.  In a separate bowl, mix your "eggs" together.  Then add in your pumpkin puree, oil, and vanilla to "egg" mixture.  Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until everything is well combined.  You might even need to get your hands in there to mix all of the dough up.  Now pour in your walnuts, and mix evenly into dough.

Shape and flatten dough to about 10 inches by 5 inches and 1/2 inch thick rectangle.  Don't worry about perfection here. It will be pretty no matter what.  Place dough onto prepared baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.  Then turn oven down to 325 and remove pan to slice your dough into biscotti pieces.  Once cut, turn on one side and bake for 10 minutes.  Then turn to other side and bake another 5-10 minutes.  This will "dry" it out a bit more and give you that nice biscotti crunch! Store in a glass container.
Coffees perfect match!

But as I said.  I had a few things I was craving.  Next up, these bad boys:
Aren't these doughnuts the cutest little things!?  I bought a doughnut pan last year and still had yet to use it.  I think these made for the perfect christening of my still new pan.  It was only right to bake these as they were the very doughnuts that led me to the purchase.  Angela at Oh She Glows never comes up with a bad recipe.  I have loved everything I've made of hers.
You can find the recipe on her blog here.  Be sure to browse around and check out more of her creations. won't be disappointed.
And that's not the end to my Fall cooking.  I actually have another recipe for you, but I'll save it for another day.  Don't want to get too carried away, there's plenty of the Season to be enjoyed this year.  I only have to wait two more days until I can start decorating!  YAY!
What are some of your favorite Fall treats and eats?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Week 35 - Celebrating Desmond

For my Birthday, Jordan let me pick out a new outfit to wear to my upcoming baby shower.  Of course I went with a maxi dress and found the prettiest crocheted top to go with it.  Desmond and I were ready to party!
A big thanks to Jessica (Can you believe we're due just days apart? This is her second, and as you can see we're quite oppositely shaped anyway.) and Kelly for organizing our little gathering!
Everyone pitched in to put together a lovely array of beverages and food.
The hummus was my favorite!  YUMMY!
We played a few games, but I won't embarrass the girls with those pictures...and I opened my gifts.
I loved the idea they came up with of helping to build Desmond's library.  So many fun books.
And tiny shoes have to be one of the cutest things!
I'm grateful to all of the ladies for their love and support as we welcome our Baby Boy into our family!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Week 34 -- Preparations for the Big Race

Almost missed it, but here we are:
We are really getting towards the end!  I can hardly believe it.  But this week was a good one.  All of my fears of childbirth and labor have somewhat subsided and turned more to awe and amazement and excitement.  A good friend of mine who recently became a Mom herself, recommended I watch the documentary The Business of Being Born.  I'm not here to get into arguments, I just found it to be really enlightening and it helped put a lot of things into perspective for me.  But more than anything, it made the whole process look beautiful.  Maybe I'm weird, but I'm kind of looking forward to going through it all now.
And yes that means that I'm going to go into this thing with a positive mindset and no drugs.  (Unless absolutely necessary)  We were actually made to do this whole thing, and I wanna experience it all.  I really would have thought you were a crazy person to suggest that before, but my opinions have definitely changed.  And actually I used to think the same thing about running.  And that's what I'm comparing all of this too.  When people would tell me that running a marathon was the hardest thing they had ever done, I thought why in the world would you want to do it then!?  I never made it to marathon level, but 13.1 was all I needed to know why they would do it.  I remember my first race and how nervous and anxious I was.  I wasn't very nice to the people around me and I just wanted to get the whole thing done.  But they all remained patient with me.  And cheered me on along the way.  And with every glimpse of them throughout the race I knew I could do it.  Until I thought I couldn't anymore.  I wanted to quit.  I wanted to just walk away and say I gave it my best and be done.  But I buried those thoughts and kept going.  When I rounded the corner to the end, a surge of energy and emotions came over me.  I gave every last thing I had in me to finish that race.  And when I finally crossed the finish line, a joy I had never experienced before came over me.  I had done it!
I was hooked after that point.  Sometimes we need that kind pain to know what this life is really all about.  We experience it at different points in our lives and at different levels, but once you've gone through it, perspectives change and a certain knowledge of who God is and your place in this world become a little more real.  It takes you beyond just a normal feeling.  And we should fight with all that we have to remember those moments.  Remember to know how to get through it the next time. Remember when discontentment begins to creep into our lives.  Remember when we begin to wander.  To remember that we were made for so much more.  To experience so much more.  To know that there is someone so much bigger than us that should be at the center of it all.  And to just rest in Him.
 After all, He knows us best.  Right down to every hair on our head.  And though sometimes we don't know how much we can handle and bare...if we learn to see the beauty in what He has for each of us, it will make the whole experience that much more sweeter.  Even through the pain.    

Sunday, August 12, 2012

I-Scream. U-Scream.

This week I turned 29.  It's shocking really.  I can't believe I'm almost 30!  When did that happen?  
I don't mind that I'm getting older.  It's just weird.  I wonder all of the time how I grew up so fast.  When did I become an adult?  I'm married.  Jordan and I have a life together.  And now we're creating a family of our own.  It's just...weird.  Don't get me wrong though--I love our life!  I feel so blessed to have all that I do and to celebrate another year.
As I said before, because of all of the rain our plans changed for the week as much of the city experienced a lot of flooding.  We were thinking about following through with what we had intended for the day because Jordan didn't want me to be disappointed on my Birthday, but when I went to go get ready, all I could picture was us on top of our car screaming for help and having to be rescued by a helicopter.  Oh that would be a memorable Birthday all right, but not one I really wanted to live out.  So we just played it safe and stayed in-doors.  I've loved every minute of our time together.  It's been refreshing to just sit and talk and discuss life and take it easy for a few days.  Having the day open up also gave me the opportunity to bake myself a cake and to churn up some homemade ice-cream.  
It definitely did not disappoint.  I've been meaning to make some homemade ice-cream for quite some time now.  I keep putting the ice-cream maker bowl in the freezer and then taking it out because I run out of room.  Luckily it was there and begging to be used.  I searched a few recipes and found this one and then adapted it to what I had on hand and what our tastebuds were craving.
Mocha Chocolate Chip Ice-Cream

1 can full fat coconut milk
1 1/2 cups soy milk
1/2 cup agave
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 TBS. coconut oil
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. xanthan gum
1 1/2 TBS. Instant Coffee
2 TBS. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

Chocolate chunks to add in later

Blend everything together except for the chocolate chunks.  Once well combined, chill in the freezer for 2-3 hours.  When ice-cream is chilled, run it through an ice-cream maker according to machine instructions.  In the last 5 minutes of churning, add in chocolate chunks.  Place back in the freezer for at least 1-2 hours to firm up.  (Though this could be different depending on where you live.  It's hot here, so my ice-cream needed time to firm back up.)
Now it's all ready to serve!  I-Scream.  U-Scream.  We all- Scream for Ice-Cream!
But what's ice-cream without cake?  Once of my favorite cakes of all time has to be pound cake!  I've never had a pound cake as good as my Nanny made it.  She was quite the expert.  And trying to make cakes vegan and delicious has proven to be a bit challenging at times.  It's so important to get the ingredients right and not over mix them or your cake will turn into a spongy mess.  Not good.  So I looked through my cookbooks and found one that looked to be promising and got to work.
I've never been disappointed with anything out of Veganomicon.  The only changes I made was adding more vanilla and almond extract in place of the citrus extracts, and came up with the most flavorful poundcake I've ever made.  It was perfect!  It had all of the essence of a pound cake without the loads of eggs and butter than are laden throughout a normal recipe.  

It was a pretty chill day and I enjoyed with the man I love.  Guess it was best to keep it simple cause next year we're going all out!  Here's to my last year in the 20s!  Cheers!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Train Up a Child

I love that I have this man by my side to raise our children with.  He is such a man of character and I know that with God's help he will be such an incredible father figure for our children to look up to and learn from.
We're pretty simple folk and don't require much to enjoy ourselves.  So just taking some time off to regroup and recommit ourselves while having some fun in the process was just what we needed for this week.  It's been raining, raining, raining which has kept us inside and away from our plans, but we're just enjoying being together.  
As we went over our tentative schedule for the week, Jordan shared with me how he just wanted to spend the mornings reading Scripture together and praying.  He chose a week long study on Parenting through the YouVersion Bible App and I'm so glad he did.  It's opened up a lot of great discussion for us, and the first day could not have paired better than with what I'm reading on my own in the Proverbs Plan through the same App.  Here's what these verses had to say:

Deuteronomy 6:6-9

New Living Translation (NLT)
And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Proverbs 1:1-7

New Living Translation (NLT)

The Purpose of Proverbs

These are the proverbs of Solomon, David’s son, king of Israel.
Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline,
    to help them understand the insights of the wise.
Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives,
    to help them do what is right, just, and fair.
These proverbs will give insight to the simple,
    knowledge and discernment to the young.
Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser.
    Let those with understanding receive guidance
by exploring the meaning in these proverbs and parables,
    the words of the wise and their riddles.
Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge,
    but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

The best thing we can do as Desmond's parents is to pass on the truth we've been given.  To instruct him and train him in wisdom, and that wisdom begins with God.  I love how it says to repeat it again and again.  We discussed and wondered how we began to make since of Scripture and how it just seemed to be there in our hearts and minds, and we both equated it to Awana and Youth Group.  We both had parents who saw that same value and grew up in stellar churches and are so thankful for that influence in our lives.  So thankful for the people who took the time to cultivate a spiritual foundation in our lives for us to grow and bloom.  Habits come out of repetition and that begins early on.  To live a disciplined life.  One that is not centered on self, but first God and then others.  We want to be speaking of these things constantly in our home.  That there be evidence of it everywhere.  To write it on our walls, so it's written in our hearts.

I've said before that I'm so excited to begin family traditions and with these verses in mind I have some places to start.  And thanks to again...Pinterest, I've got some fun and creative ideas to get us going.  Here are some projects I'm looking forward to doing to help us:
 Making something like this sign to incorporate Scripture in our lives to live and practice out.
A little Daily/Yearly Calendar to remember to just enjoy each day and all of the little things.
And for making the Holidays more special.  To remember what life is all about to give back much gratitude, having things like this Thankful Tree.

This is what we're committing to.  It's just as much for us as it is for Desmond.  I love how everything works together for teaching and training.  We're excited to grow in wisdom as we grow with Desmond.  

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Staycation 2012

This week the Mr. and I are taking a staycation.  We've planned out lots of things we've wanted to do, but never have time for and we're excited for what the week continues to bring our way.  It's also become kind of a forced staycation as much of Manila is being flooded right now, which makes this a not so fun time.  We haven't really been affected by what's happening around us, but we know many who have.  The area where we live is higher ground, and our apartment is also higher up so we're not dealing with all of the flooding issues ourselves.  We're just waiting and praying for the rains to stop and the water to go down.  Some of the missionaries we work with had a pretty sleepless night as they made preparations for the rising waters, and they now have water in their homes.  We also have several church members who have become stranded in their homes in waist deep water since yesterday.  Your prayers are much appreciated.  Just waiting to know what to do next and how we might be able to help.  Waiting for things to subside.  Waiting for the sun to come out...

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Perfect Dress

So I cheated and took my pictures a day early.  But I can guarantee not much has changed since yesterday.
Now I'm not one to know much about fashion, nor do I even pretend to know what's hot from season to season.  But what I have discovered in the past few years is the importance of feeling comfortable in your own skin, and clothing is a big part of that.  
I've always been a curvy woman and I've learned to embrace it.  And while I still have to keep myself in check from time to time I've been really happy to have put in the effort over the past few years to find a healthier me!  Gaining weight throughout my pregnancy has been something that just comes with the territory.  I've touched on it a lot.  I know.  But it's just so much of my story.  But today I want to focus on the positive.  And that is the ultimate pregnancy article of clothing, that isn't even maternity clothing at all!
I absolutely love this dress.  I've loved it since the day I got it.  It's so easy and so comfortable.  I've been waiting to wear it at some point in my pregnancy when you could actually see my bump, and the day finally came.  Since we've been helping out at a new church plant all summer we hadn't been to the church we originally started at since Easter.  Seeing people after that many months while being pregnant could be a traumatic experience.  It would be quite obvious to everyone that you have in fact been gaining weight.  I wanted to feel good about myself and I knew this would be the perfect dress for the occasion.  
I realize I probably sound quite vain right now...but I know there are other women (and probably men--though not dealing with pregnancy issues of course) who know what I'm talking about it.  Who doesn't like to feel good about themselves?  I really believe it's important to take care of the bodies we've been given through a healthy eating lifestyle and regular exercise.  I don't pretend to be an expert or perfect by any means, but it's something I try to keep a healthy balance in.
The way clothes feel on me has changed over the course of my pregnancy.  I was even a bit shocked the other day when I looked back at the early weeks when I thought I was big.  I'm pretty ready to be back to those days.  They're looking pretty good right about now.  HAHA.  But it's all worth it.  Becoming a Mom has to be one of the coolest experiences.  There's still some time left, and then that moment of finally seeing this life that's been growing inside of me!  I can't wait! 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Counting My Blessings!

Such happy news came today!  We will be the proud parents of a cloth diapered child thanks to the kind folks over at!!  (As well as any future children to come.)
They have a program set up for missionaries as a practical way to share their support through the giving of free diapers!  And we were approved!  How cool is that!?
I'm so grateful to our friends Bill and Anna, who had their little guy over a year ago while they were in South Korea, for telling us about such a wonderful opportunity.
We feel pretty strongly about cloth diapering and want to be good stewards of our time, money, and family and feel like this is a wonderful way to do it.  I don't have anything against other people and the decisions they make, this is just what we feel will work for us and I could not be more thrilled.  Who knew diapers could make you so happy?

In other news.  I also picked out some fabric for Desmond's room for some curtains!  YAY!  Things are starting to move along.  Here's a little preview of what I picked up:
Good report at the doctor today.  I'm still steadily progressing along.  Can't believe it's already August.  This month has some exciting things in store for us!  It just might be our last full month as a couple.  We're getting ready for you Desmond.  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Hungry Man Meals

Remember when I said I've been an emotional wreck and I have the best husband in the world who loves me despite it??  Well I felt like I had some making up to do.  And the best way to a man's heart is through his stomach right!?
That would be the result of a recipe I found on Pinterest.  A recipe for copy-cat Chick-fil-A Sandwiches.
Before we moved here Jordan stocked up on all of the sauces he could get his hands on through our many stops at Chick-fil-A.  He's been waiting to use them, not wanting to let a single packet go to waste or be spoiled on something undeserving.  And then I came across the recipe, and he couldn't wait to try it.  To see if it held up to all the glory that is his favorite chicken sandwich.  We followed each step (minus the fact that I only had seeded buns) and the creation was assembled in sheer perfection.  He was in heaven.  Maybe it's because it's been more than 7 months since he had the sandwich, but he said it was a magnificent substitute.  We've all had to give up things living in a foreign country, but I was pretty pleased to know I could pull this recipe out when Jordan needed an extra pick me up and a taste of home.

But the spoiling wasn't done yet.  Currently it's rainy season here in the Philippines.  As typhoons rip across the ocean, we've seen quite the downpour and felt some pretty dramatic winds.  Today was a day for canceling classes and hunkering down inside to avoid the chaos we currently find ourselves in.  It was quite reminiscent of a snow day back home and I welcomed the company as Jordan worked from home.  I figured a special lunch was in store, so I got busy in the kitchen and made quite possibly the best pizza I have ever made in my life!  I kid you not.
I can't lay claim to everything that makes up this pizza.  The crust was from a pizza magazine we picked up a while back and I just followed their recipe for a deep dish pizza crust, but varied the assemblage of it.

When my dough was ready I preheated my oven at 500 for 25 minutes with the pizza stone on the bottom rack.  I then rolled out my dough to over-lap my cast iron skillet and set it in place.  I layed down mozzarella on Jordan's side and some vegan mozzarella on my side.  Packed in a generous helping of spinach leaves, and then dotted his side with pepperoni.  Next I rolled out a thin circle of dough to lay on top of our toppings to protect it from being over saturated by the sauce.  I pinched the edges together with my former dough and poked some holes in it to allow steam to pass through.  Then rolled the edges over and down.  And lastly came the sauce.  We laid it on thick.  I turned the oven down to 450 and it was time to go in.  I placed the skillet directly on the stone and baked it for 35 minutes.

Man was it tough to wait for it to cool down.  It smelled so intoxicating!  We were both ready for lunch!  We hit the couch and popped in some Lost as the perfect side dish to chowin down on pizza.
The perfect spinach pie!  I'm usually a "give me all the vegetables you can" kind of gal, but when we experienced Giordano's (twice) in Chicago...I came to love the simplicity of this dish.  Just spinach, cheese, sauce, and crust!  YUM!
So here's the recipes I did tweak:

Quick Stir Chunky Tomato Sauce : (adapted from here)
2 cans crushed tomatoes
1 jar tomato paste
1/4 cup vegan parmesan
2 TBS. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. oregano
a handful of fresh basil, shredded
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 TBS. minced garlic

In a medium bowl, stir all ingredients until well incorporated.

Vegan Mozzarella : (adapted from here)
1/2 cup soft tofu
1/2 cup soy milk
1 package soft tofu
1/2 TBS. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp rice vinegar
4 tsp agar powder

Place 1/2 cup tofu + soy milk in food processor and blend until rich and creamy.  Next add the rest of your ingredients except for the agar and blend for several minutes, scrapping down the sides, until well blended and smooth.  Place the contents in a medium saucepan and stir in the agar powder and let sit for 5 minutes.  Bring to a slow boil over medium heat, stirring often.  Cook on stovetop for about 5 minutes.  Pour into a baking dish and set in the refrigerator to firm up.  At least 1 hour.

That pizza never stood a chance.  We killed it.  I can't wait to have the leftovers tomorrow.  I guess I should admit this one was just as much for me as it was for him...

What's your favorite style of pizza?