Monday, December 31, 2012

::this week::

We found out that the little baby growing in my belly is a BOY!  Noah had been telling us that for a few weeks, and it is going to be so great for him to have a little brother to play with.  God had actually told Jeremy that it was a boy 2 weeks ago, and gave us a name for him, but more on that later when we share the name.

praising:  this sweet little life growing inside of me.  health for both of us.  the fact that my pregnancy has been really easy and enjoyable for the last several weeks.  God's faithfulness, mercy, grace.  His holiness.  how he pursues and speaks to me.  what a great year 2012 was for our family.

praying:  for the needs of others.  for our city, nation, and world.

thankful for:  the holidays... some great time with family... getting to watch Noah LOVE playing with his cousins... traditions... good food... Jeremy off of work for a week and lots of extra time with him... a date night... grandparents nearby who serve us by babysitting... all of the sweet and thoughtful gifts from others... having a baby around again, they really do help me to slow down and enjoy each moment... the sweet and gentle way that Noah plays with and cares for the new baby I'm watching, he has matured so much since a year ago and I was watching Hayden at 3 months.

reading: Jeremiah, 2 Kings, Momentum

cooking:  sesame salad dressing, steak, curried veggie dipsesame noodles, chocolate fondue with fruit, white chicken chili with jalapeno cheese cornbread, chocolate chip banana oat muffins, corn pudding, mac and cheese, BBQ and buffalo chicken pizza, cilantro pesto pasta, ham and bean soup, slow cooker hot dogs, lots of smoothies (my craving of the week)

creating:  pondering some projects for myself, now that all of my holiday gifts are done

doing:  started to watch a new kiddo who is currently two and a half months old.  still searching for a new to us car. celebrating J's sister's birthday.  hosting a low key pot-luck and board game New Year's Eve with friends.  breakfast with a sweet couple who pour into us and are co-laborers in the harvest.  coffee with a couple of friends.

reflecting:  on 2012.  2013.  the concept of spiritual inheritance... what I've received, what I'm passing on.  a lifestyle of gratitude and giving thanks in all circumstances.

Chocolate Chip Banana Oat Muffins

I made these banana oat muffins. The few changes I made were to;

-used 1 whole egg instead of 2 egg whites
-doubled the recipe and used 3/4 c whole wheat flour and 3/4 c all purpose flour
-switch chocolate chips for the pecans

These are a good, healthy breakfast muffin, but don't expect an overly sweet/ heavy dessert muffin.  All 3 of us liked these, I like them best heated up with the chocolate melted and gooey.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

19 weeks

Here is what is going on with our little tomato this week according to;

Your baby's sensory development is exploding! Her brain is designating specialized areas for smell, taste, hearing, vision, and touch. Some research suggests that she may be able to hear your voice now, so don't be shy about reading aloud, talking to her, or singing a happy tune if the mood strikes you.
Your baby weighs about 8 1/2 ounces and measures 6 inches, head to bottom — about the size of a large heirloom tomato. Her arms and legs are in the right proportions to each other and the rest of her body now. Her kidneys continue to make urine and the hair on her scalp is sprouting. A waxy protective coating called the vernix caseosa is forming on her skin to prevent it from pickling in the amniotic fluid.

Think you're big now? You'll start growing even faster in the weeks to come. As a result, you may notice some achiness in your lower abdomen or even an occasional brief, stabbing pain on one or both sides — especially when you shift position or at the end of an active day. Most likely, this is round ligament pain. The ligaments that support your uterus are stretching to accommodate its increasing weight. This is nothing to be alarmed about, but call your practitioner if the pain continues even when you're resting or becomes severe.

As for me, I'm doing well.  We get to find out the gender tomorrow and are super excited.  We have our boy and girl names picked out and are just waiting to see what we are having.  I've been feeling good and feeling lots of movement from the baby.  I'm still not overly excited about sweets, or heavy foods with lots of oil and butter.  Lately I've been wanting a lot of meat, fruits, veggies, and orange juice.  Still jogging and lifting weights and not having any pregnancy symptoms other than a growing belly and moving baby.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

handmade Christmas gifts

Here are some of the Christmas presents I made this year...

I took a free box of old ornaments from the curb, and a little scrap fabric from a friend's stash and turned them into these...

scrap fabric ornaments

I used more scrap fabric to make a few adult and kid sized headbands

and some key chain wristlets

a key chain chapstick holder

some sweetheart and initial necklaces

some photo cubes/ paper weights 

and some interchangeable doll blocks

May your Christmas be merry and Christ centered!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

18 weeks

Here is what is going on with our bell pepper this week according to;

Head to rump, your baby is about 5 1/2 inches long (about the length of a bell pepper) and he weighs almost 7 ounces. He's busy flexing his arms and legs — movements that you'll start noticing more and more in the weeks ahead. His blood vessels are visible through his thin skin, and his ears are now in their final position, although they're still standing out from his head a bit. A protective covering of myelin is beginning to form around his nerves, a process that will continue for a year after he's born. If you're having a girl, her uterus and fallopian tubes are formed and in place. If you're having a boy, his genitals are noticeable now, but he may hide them from you during an ultrasound.
Your cardiovascular system is undergoing dramatic changes, and during this trimester your blood pressure will probably be lower than usual. Don't spring up too fast from a lying or sitting position or you might feel a little dizzy.Hungry? An increase in appetite is pretty common about now. Make it count by choosing meals and snacks that are rich in nutrients instead of empty calories (chips, French fries, candy, and other sweets). Bigger, more comfortable clothes are a must now as your appetite and waistline grow.
From now on, when you do lie down, it's best to lie on your side — or at least partly tilted to one side. (When you lie flat on your back, your uterus can compress a major vein, leading to decreased blood return to your heart.) Try placing a pillow behind you or under your hip or upper leg for comfort.
If you haven't already had a second-trimester ultrasound, you'll probably have one soon. This painless procedure helps your practitioner check how your baby's growing, screen for certain birth defects, check the placenta and umbilical cord, determine whether the due date you're working with is accurate, and see how many babies you're carrying. During the exam, you might see your baby moving around or sucking his thumb. Bring your partner along, and be sure to ask for a printout for your baby's first photo album!

As for me, doing well.  Still feeling good.  Able to eat anything I want for the most part without feeling nauseous afterward.  Exercising regularly (with slightly less strength/ intensity/ endurance than normal).  I've only gained 5 pounds, but it feels like a lot more right now.  Nothing really fits me well right now, my regular clothes are getting too tight, but my maternity clothes from last time are still a little too big and loose.  I'm just in a weird in between stage.

This week was the first time I started feeling this baby move and confidently knowing it was the baby and not my tummy rumbling.  Jeremy was even able to feel some flutters one evening after I ate a piece of cake and loaded our little one up on some sugar.

I think we have our boy and girl names picked out now, so now we just have to wait a week and a day until the appointment and we find out the gender.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

::this week::

praising:  God... His goodness, faithfulness, presence, guidance, Spirit...

praying:  for the needs/ requests of others.

reading:  1 Kings, Isaiah, 1000 Gifts

thankful for:  beautiful weather.  the laughs and smiles of the sweet little ones I get to watch.  Jesus... Christmas... redemption, salvation, freedom, and victory through Him.

cooking:  spinach balls, slow cooker ratatouille, baked oatmeal, sausage and cheddar breakfast casserole, pumpkin gingersnap cookies, toffee cookiessesame noodles, hummus, tabbouleh, rosemary curry spiced nuts, chocolate fondue with fruit, green bean casserole, pumpkin pasta, cranberry sauce, macaroni and cheese, black bean rice and corn casserole, braised coconut chickpeas with spinach, green smoothiesBBQ chicken quesedillaslentil salad, no bake peanut butter oat cookiescurry dip with a veggie tray

creating:  the finishing touches on a few Christmas presents

doing:  purchasing and delivering groceries to three of our neighbors as a Christmas giving opportunity for our community group.  community group Christmas party.  my mom comes in town for a little less than a week.  Jeremy's brother, his wife, and their two kids come in town, so we'll be busy doing lots of fun family stuff.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter No-Bake Cookies

I made these chocolate peanut butter no bake cookies for my mom's upcoming visit (because she doesn't eat eggs, and therefore most desserts are off limits for her).  There taste really good, are easy, and have a little nutrition thanks to the oats.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Bastion Ministries December Newsletter

You can view our December newsletter here.  Please let me know if you'd like to be added to our mailing list, or change the format via which you receive it (us mail vs email).

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dirty Rice

Dirty Rice

This is my attempt at a classic New Orleans dish.  My version is healthier, and eliminates the chicken livers found in the traditional version (because they gross me out!).  

-4 c brown rice, cooked according to package directions, but using chicken broth instead of water
-4.5 cups chicken broth (see above, to cook rice)
-1 Tbsp olive oil
-1 lb bulk turkey sausage
-1/2 bell pepper (red or green), diced
-2 stalks celery, diced
-1 onion, diced
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-2 Tbsp dried parsley (if I had fresh on hand I would have used that though)
-2 tsp dried thyme
-1/4 tsp cayenne
-salt and pepper to taste
-3 green scallions, thinly sliced

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Cook sausage, breaking up with spoon, until no longer pink.  Add bell pepper, celery, and onion.  Continue cooking and stirring until vegetables are tender, 5-10 minutes.  Add  garlic, cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Add parsley, thyme, cayenne, and rice.  Reduce heat to low, stirring to combine.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.  Top with scallions and serve.

17 weeks

Here is what is going on with our little turnip this week according to;

Your baby's skeleton is changing from soft cartilage to bone, and the umbilical cord — her lifeline to the placenta — is growing stronger and thicker. Your baby weighs 5 ounces now (about as much as a turnip), and she's around 5 inches long from head to bottom. She can move her joints, and her sweat glands are starting to develop.

You may also notice your eyes becoming drier. Using over-the-counter lubricating drops may help. If your contact lenses become uncomfortable, try wearing them for shorter stretches of time. If you still have discomfort, switch to glasses until after you give birth.Starting to feel a bit off balance? As your belly grows, your center of gravity changes, so you may begin to occasionally feel a little unsteady on your feet. Try to avoid situations with a high risk of falling. Wear low-heeled shoes to reduce your risk of taking a tumble; trauma to your abdomen could be dangerous for you and your baby. You'll also want to be sure to buckle up when you're in a car — keep the lap portion of the seat belt under your belly, drawn snugly across your hips, and also use the shoulder harness, which should fit snugly between your breasts.
Many women report that their dream life shifts into high gear during pregnancy. Interestingly, during the second and third trimesters, you spend less sleep time in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the cycle in which most dreams occur. Why, then, all those frequent and vivid dream memories?  It's probably at least in part because you may be interrupting a dream-filled cycle when you wake up to pee, cope with heartburn, leg cramps, restless legs, or a backache, or to shift to a more comfortable position. Waking up during REM sleep makes you more likely to remember your dreams.

As for me, I'm doing well.  The nausea is almost completely gone now.  My belly is continuing to grow.  This week a stranger asked me if I knew what I was having.  I was so shocked, because I still don't think I look pregnant (just bloated), so I think that was a risky  assumption and question on her part.  I was so caught off guard it took me a minute to process before I could answer her.  I guess I'm looking more pregnant than I think.

I'm eating pretty much anything I want these days, with no real cravings, although sushi and sausage always sound great to me.  I'm still lifting weights, walking several miles most days, and jogging 1-2 miles 2 days a week.  I am determined to keep my strength and endurance up better than I did last pregnancy, and not gain as much weight either... so far so good!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sesame Kale

Sesame Kale

I had a bunch of kale left after making zuppa toscana this week, and wanted to try something new.  I was thinking along the lines of one of my favorite veggie dishes, warm sesame slaw,but with a few changes.  There actually aren't sesame seeds in the picture because I was shocked to find that I had run out, but I included them in the recipe because that's how I would serve this in the future.

-2 bunches kale, washed trimmed and chopped
-1 inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 Tbsp peanut or canola oil
-1 Tbsp sesame oil
-1 Tbsp rice vinegar
-1 Tbsp soy sauce
-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
-1 Tbsp sesame seeds

Heat peanut or canola oil in large pan over medium heat.  Add ginger, garlic, and kale, stirring constantly.  While kale is cooking, whisk together sesame oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and red pepper flakes.  Once kale begins to wilt, stir in sauce.  Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until kale is cooked to your liking.  Toss with sesame seeds and serve immediately.

Monster Cookies

I made these monster cookies to send with Jeremy to work.  The only change that I made was to use old fashioned oats instead of quick oats because that's what I had on hand.  I was surprised that there wasn't any flour in these cookies, only oats, making them more healthy than most cookies.  I thought these were good, but not amazing.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

::this week::

praising:  some additional provision for our ministry, including a used/ new to us laptop that will arrive this month... and all of this, coming from people we've never met... such a cool God thing!

praying:  for a reasonably priced/ good condition car that will meet our needs... that we can pay cash for.  for additional provision for Bastion, as we haven't quite raised what we need to live off of yet.  for friends.

reading:  John, Joel, Isaiah, 1 Kings, 1000 Gifts

thankful for:  some really great wiser/ older/ more spiritually mature people who invest in us.  we had a great time on the Northshore last weekend with two families who do so.  I was blown away by some admonishment/ truth the ladies shared with me.  we have always been blessed with really great mentors in our lives.

cooking:  Chinese Char Siu, Chinese green beans, corn pudding, maque choux, dirty rice, zuppa toscana, cilantro pesto pasta, BBQ chicken and buffalo chicken pizzagreen smoothies, steak, sesame kale

creating:  Christmas presents

doing:  hosting community group.  a walk date with a friend.  having a sweet couple over for dinner.  hopefully some sort of car shopping as our rental car is gone as of Monday.

inspired by:  Isiah 38... the Lord told Hezekiah that his life was over, Hezekiah cried out to the Lord, and the Lord added 15 years to His life.  prayer matters.  it changes outcomes.  it's powerful.  am I crying out to the Lord for all I should be?  for the pains, hurt, oppression of those around me?  for my family?  my church?  for this city?  the country?  the world?

pondering:  John.  particularly John 11:4  But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.”  and the numerous other "so that's" in the book of John.  Lazarus died SO THAT God would receive glory.  most of the other "so that's" in this book are along the lines of "so that" they would believe, have faith, have hope, have joy, remember.  something seemingly "bad" happened, so that the good would come from it.  but the original thing wasn't even bad... lazarus may have died, but then he was raised.  pondering what my "so that's" are, and seeking to change my perspective on them.  being challenged by what is being revealed to me, by my selfishness, lack of perspective, lack of the big picture.   

Monday, December 10, 2012

Cilantro Pesto Pasta

Cilantro Pesto Pasta

For a long time I've been wanting to try Rachael Ray's cilantro pesto pasta.  I used her recipe as a starting point, but reduced the oil, omitted the pasta water, changed the nuts, and added spinach for extra nutrition.  This was unique, and good, something I would make again, but not quite a home run in my opinion.  It's got a kick to it, so if you don't like heat, reduce the red pepper flakes to 1/8 tsp.  The recipe as is made enough for 1 box of pasta (for my taste), but I doubled it to have some extra to freeze for a quick dinner in a pinch.

-1 bunch cilantro, washed, leaves picked off
-1 c spinach leaves
-1/4 c walnuts
-1/8 c olive oil
-2 cloves garlic
-1 inch piece ginger, peeled
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
-juice of 1/2 lime

Puree all ingredients in food processor and toss with warm pasta of your choice.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

16 weeks

Here is what is going on with our little avocado this week according to;

Get ready for a growth spurt. In the next few weeks, your baby will double his weight and add inches to his length. Right now, he's about the size of an avocado: 4 1/2 inches long (head to rump) and 3 1/2 ounces. His legs are much more developed, his head is more erect than it has been, and his eyes have moved closer to the front of his head. His ears are close to their final position, too. The patterning of his scalp has begun, though his locks aren't recognizable yet. He's even started growing toenails. And there's a lot happening inside as well. For example, his heart is now pumping about 25 quarts of blood each day, and this amount will continue to increase as your baby continues to develop.

The top of your uterus is about halfway between your pubic bone and your navel, and the round ligaments that support it are thickening and stretching as it grows. You're probably feeling a whole lot better as you settle into pregnancy, too. Less nausea, fewer mood swings, and "glowing" skin contribute to an overall sense of well-being.

Soon you'll experience one of the most wonderful moments of pregnancy — feeling your baby move. While some women notice "quickening" as early as 16 weeks, many don't feel their baby move until about 18 weeks or more. (And if this is your first baby, don't be too impatient — you may not be aware of your baby's movements until 20 weeks or so.) The earliest movements may feel like little flutters, gas bubbles, or even like popcorn popping. Over the following weeks they'll grow stronger and you'll be able to feel them much more frequently.

As for me, not much new.  Still feeling good, a tiny bit of nausea here and there, but hardly worth mentioning.

I had my first appointment with my new doc this week, and I LOVE her!  Baby's heartbeat is good and strong.  We go Dec. 28 to find out the gender.

I've started gaining weight now and am not happy about it.  Why can't I just skip this whole stage and go straight from flat belly to basketball belly without all the awkwardness in between?

Thai Chicken Pizza

Thai Chicken Pizza

We both really loved this pizza.  I don't think it's one that I could eat every week, but it's a really fun change from our typical faves.  I made this entirely from ingredients that I had on hand, and would do it a little differently if I was planning in advance.  I think I'd also add sliced red bell pepper with the toppings before the pizza is cooked, and add some bean sprouts to the top upon removing it from the oven.  I think crumbled tofu  could easily be used instead of chicken, and zucchini, broccoli, mango, shredded cabbage, or pineapple could join the topping list.

-whole wheat pizza dough (refrigerated, or my favorite homemade dough)
-peanut sauce (see recipe below)
-1 c cooked chicken
-1/4 c Thai sweet chili sauce
-1 c part-skim mozzarella cheese
-sprinkling of red pepper flakes
-1 carrot, shredded
-garlic powder for sprinkling
-3 scallions, sliced
-fresh cilantro, chopped
-3 Tbsp peanuts, chopped

Top the unbaked crust with the peanut sauce.  Cover with the cheese.  Combine the chicken and sweet chili sauce, and sprinkle over the cheese.  Sprinkle entire pizza with red pepper flakes.  Top with shredded carrot, and then a sprinkle of garlic powder.  Bake at 425 for 20 minutes, or until the crust is crispy.  Top with scallions, cilantro, and peanuts, serve.

Peanut Sauce
-3 Tbsp peanut butter
-1 Tbsp rice vinegar
-1 Tbsp soy sauce
-1 Tbsp water
-1 Tbsp honey
-1 clove garlic
-1 tsp sesame oil
-1 tsp sriarcha sauce
-1/4 tsp ground ginger

Combine all ingredients in blender or food processor and mix until combined.

::this week::

praising:  the return of my perspective... joy... peace... hope... trust.  some more promised provision for our ministry... still so humbled and blown away by all of it!  some cool healings, freedom, and ministry opportunities for J over the last week, and the faithfulness of our Lord through them!

praying:  for boldness, obedience, opportunities to love others in action and in Truth, and that I'd make the most of each of these opportunities.

reading:  1 Kings, Isaiah, 1000 Gifts, cookbooks

thankful for:  my husband, he is beyond an amazing leader for our family, he challenges and encourages me daily to seek and live for Jesus, by both his example, and gentle words.  a new to us/ used dryer so I can return to laundry duty.  a healthy doctor's appointment for me and baby M #2.  the weather.  trips to the park.  my job and these sweet kiddos, their different personalities, and the way they play together.  my new doctor, I am very happy with her personality, philosophy, and outlook... wish I would have had her the first time around!  a more than reasonable compensation promise for our car from the insurance company.

cooking:  lemon bars, dark chocolate drizzled salted caramel popcorn, BBQ chicken and Thai chicken pizzas, buffalo chicken enchiladas, pulled BBQ pork with homemade BBQ sauce,  ham and bean soup, hummus, slow cooker vegetable pavlavacinnamon roll cake, Thai tilapia curry

creating:  more Christmas presents

inspired by:  Isaiah 32:20 the Lord will greatly bless his people.  Wherever they plant seed, bountiful crops will spring up.  So encouraged to know that even when I am not seeing the fruit of the seeds that I sow, that a bountiful harvest is coming!

Isaiah 30:15b "Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved"  {rest}

Isaiah 30:18b For the Lord is a faithful God.  Blessed are those who wait for his help.  {wait}

doing:  doctor's appointment for baby M #2.  making and distributing neighbor gifts.  family zoo trip.  trip to the Northshore to have breakfast with some guys (and their wives) who have been investing in Jeremy, he has been so blessed with so many great spiritual fathers!  a date with my hubby.

Noah:  now that I don't do monthly posts on Noah I feel compelled to give random updates...last week I took Noah for his 2 year well appointment and the doctor noticed some breathing trouble. we are waiting for his cold to clear up and keeping an eye on it in case it could be asthma.  He is quite the picky eater these days.  right now his foods of choice are apples, popcorn, any type of cereal/ granola/ protein bar, yellow cheese (NOT white!), applesauce in packets, crackers, pretzels, and pb&j... everything else including pizza, bananas, pasta and all other kid friendly foods has pretty much been abandoned, even his once beloved guacamole.  he is starting to learn his colors.  he can say the whole alphabet, minus L and one other letter that he skips.  he can recognize/ read W's, O's, B's, and S's.  he isn't really interested in practicing numbers or counting right now.  he is just as energetic and fearless as ever, finding new avenues for mischief in our house (including climbing up on the back of a chair and adjusting the thermostat... sometimes as high as 80 degrees.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Slow Cooker Vegetable Pavlava

Slow Cooker Vegetable Pavlava

I've been making this recipe for Chicken Pavlava (Aftrican Peanut Stew) for a while now and it has become a family favorite.  Anticipating my mom's visit next month, I wanted to come up with a vegetarian version, because I knew she'd love the flavors just like we do.  I also wanted to try it in the slow cooker, because I don't like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen when I have guests in town.  I am so happy with the way this turned out.  I just used the vegetables that I had on hand, whether they are authentic or not to African cooking. I think black beans could also be interchangeable with the chickpeas here.

-2 c vegetable broth
-1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes (with their juices)
-1/2 c peanut butter
-1/4 tsp cayenne
-2 Tbsp brown sugar
-1 tsp ground ginger
-1 tsp dried thyme
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1 tsp sesame oil
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 onion, diced
-2-3 colored bell peppers, cut into large chunks
-1 (29 oz) can chickpeas, drained
-2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
-3 carrots, diced
-1 lb baby spinach

Combine all ingredients, except spinach, in a greased slow cooker.  Cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 6-8 hours, stirring every hour to help distribute the peanut butter and ensure that all of the potatoes get submerged.  Stir in spinach until it wilts.  Serve immediately over brown rice.

Dark Chocolate Drizzled Salted Caramel Popcorn

I made this Dark Chocolate Drizzled Salted Caramel Popcorn for our neighbor gifts for this year.  Before I had (and watched others') kids I always made a bunch of different types of cookies to distribute. In recent years, that has seemed like too much to handle, so last year I made peppermint bark and I chose this popcorn this year for all the neighbors.  I really liked the way that it turned out and I would definitely make it again.