Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Wholesome Winter Squash Muffins

I received my new mixer for Christmas last weekend (we celebrated early with my parents)!  It was a difficult task deciding which recipe to whip up first.  I glanced around the kitchen and noticed I hadn't used the squash sitting on my counter.  I decided to make a version of my own squash muffins.  I was pretty pleased with the results (especially since it was my first time baking a squash :). 

3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 cup cooked, mashed winter squash (I used buttercup squash)
1/2 cup butter softened
2 eggs beaten
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

Put it all together:
1. In a large bowl combine the first six ingredients; mix well. 
2. In another bowl combine the rest of the ingredients.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients; mix until just moistened.
3. Stir in the chocolate chips.
4. Fill paper-lined muffin cups 2/3 full.  Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

Enjoy with a large glass of milk!

How to Spend a Snow Day?

This year marks my third year working as a teacher.  In those three years we have never had a snow day...and now we have had two snow days in the last two days!  On Monday morning I felt like a giddy child when I saw Minneapolis Public Schools (our school corresponds to their closings) on the wcco school closings website.  I could hardly go back to sleep.  One idea after another kept popping into my head about how I was going to spend the dayI've been thankful for these past two days at home.  I feel refreshed and ready to go back to school.  Here are a few things I enjoyed while being snowed in...
                                                  extended time reading and journaling

baking muffins with my new Kitchenaid (recipe to come :) )!
writing Christmas cards to my kindergartners
How do you like to spend a snow day?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Thai Basil Chicken (Pad Krapow)

After a trip to United Noodle Sunday we decided to try to make one of Jemimah's favorite Thai dishes, Pad Krapow.  It was fairly easy and very delicious!
Here's what you'll need for Pad Krapow (serves 4):
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion (you are suppose to use shallots but we prefer yellow onion)
2/3 lb. Chinese long beans, chopped in 1 inch lengths
1 lb. ground chicken or turkey (we used turkey)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 teaspoons sugar
6 cloves garlic
1 bunch of Thai basil (leaves only)
1 diced green pepper
serve with:
fried eggs (1 per person)
lime wedges
Here's how to cook it:
1. Heat the oil in a wok on high, add the garlic, green pepper and onions and stir-fry for 30 seconds.
2. Add the beans, stir-fry until cooked but still crunchy (3-4 minutes).
3. Add the turkey (or chicken) to the wok and brown, break up the meat into small pieces. 
4. Add fish sauce and sugar.  Taste to see if more sugar should be added.
5. Add the soy sauce.
5. Reduce heat to medium-low and add the basil leaves until wilted.
6. Serve with rice and lime wedges.  Top with a fried egg.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

welcome december!

December has made her entrance with ten degree days and blustery blizzards.  We finally were forced to unpack all of our winter wear.  Even though I have done my fair share of complaining while enduring Minnesota winters, I have to admit, it is quite beautiful.  

A few things I love about winter:
1. snuggling up with Josh (and a good book)
2. hot chocolate
3. slippers
4. Christmas crafts with the kindergartners
5. baking 
6. fresh, white snow
7. fireplaces (I don't have one but I love sitting by them :)
8. knitting
9. lighting candles
10. winter walks

Here are a couple of family pictures my sister Justine took over Thanksgiving break...   
Happy December Friends!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Advent Project (almost) Complete

Hello!  I hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving.  I had a wonderful weekend of conversations over coffee, lazy mornings by the fireplace, mom's good cooking, scrabble with dad, and sewing with my sister.  I have so much to be thankful for!  I decided to make this advent calendar inspired from Sew Mama Sew.

I say almost complete because we still have to fill the pockets.  Josh, Jemimah and I are all adding something special.  Josh will be putting Scripture or hymns in each pocket and Jemimah and I are adding small surprises (still thinking of these things :).  My hope is that the advent calendar will  help us to slow down and reflect daily on Jesus during this busy season.  Well, I'm off to find a place for the calendar before bed.  Good night friends!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

We Celebrated!

Last weekend was full of happy occassions.  First off, on Friday, we celebrated my sister-in-law Britta's Birthday.  We all went out for Italian at Biaggi's in Maple Grove. 

It was great to see everyone; I also got to meet my sister's boyfriend (Zach) for the first time :).

Saturday, my other sister-in-law, Beth, got engaged!
Sunday, we celebrated Josh's great grandparent's 65th anniversary! 
 A weekend full of joyous celebrations!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Inspired by Advent Calendars

I love advent calendars!  Growing up I had the Avon Mouse Calendar (now called the vintage Avon Mouse Calendar :).  Josh had this one too!  I looked forward to moving the little mouse closer to Christmas each day.  Years have passed since then.  I think it is time to have an advent calendar in our home.  I have been inspired by all of the beautiful advent calendars; I have decided to attempt to make my own.  I have less than 10 days to finish!  First, I have to decide what kind to create...

There are so many lovely advent calendars!  I'm leaning towards a sewn look this year.  I haven't had the time to sew lately but Thanksgiving at mom and dad's will allow for some sweet sister sewing time :).  I'll keep you updated on my progress.  I'm off to buy fabric!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

looking forward to a special gift...

Mom and dad have offered to get me a Kitchenaid Stand Mixer for Christmas!  My mom has had her Kitchenaid mixer for decades.  I hear they are very durable and make baking a breeze.  While Christmas is still many weeks away I have some deciding to do...which color do I choose?  There are so many delightful colors from Empire Red, Yellow, Aqua Sky, Pear....so many options!  There is also classic white but I am leaning toward the color pistachio.  It is lovely and has a vintage feel to it.  Now I will be dreaming of the first recipe to mix up; any suggestions :) ?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

First Snow Granola

After the beautiful first snow fall I was inspired to bake.  There is just something about baking something warm and delicious when it is cold outside. Granola sounded like a good choice.  Here's how to make First Snow Granola:

2 cups regular rolled oats
1/2 cup macadamia nuts
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
*1/2 cup raw honey
2 tablespoons cooking oil
*You could use regular honey instead of raw (I just had this raw honey left over from the Blueberry Festival in Ely, MN).  I would recommend the raw honey though.  It has a little more texture to it and I love the flavor.

Let's Get Started:
1. In a large bowl combine the oats and nuts.  Stir together the honey and oil; stir into the oat mixture.  Spread evenly into a greased 15x10x1 inch baking pan.  Bake in a 300 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until lightly browned.  Stir granola after 20 minutes.  Add dried cranberries right after you take it out of the oven.
2. Spread on a large piece of foil to cool.  Break into clumps.  After cooled add the white chocolate chips.  Store in an airtight container for up to one week (or freeze for up to two months). 

Enjoy with yogurt!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

hello snow.

I awoke this morning to Josh opening the shades.  I was wondering why he was bothering to let the sun shine into our room so early (truthfully not that early, 8:00ish).  That's when I opened my eyes to the glorious snow covered city right outside my window.  Wow was the first word out of my mouth.  Josh and I just stayed under the covers for awhile and watched the snow falling silently.

  After a hot cup of coffee I took these pictures of the snow-covered things:

Josh had a smile on his face while shoveling the first snow of  the season.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sailing through the Work Week

"A ship in the harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are built for."
                                           -William Shedd

Hello friends.  Happy Tuesday to you.  Our principal shared this Shedd quote with our staff on Monday morning.  He lead us in a devotion about living counter-cultural lives.  I so often want to stay in the "harbor"; don't you?  If I am honest with myself I want to live a safe, cozy existence free from pain, stress, or trials of any sort.  I want my life to be easy.  The Bible speaks of a different kind of life. 

Romans 12:2 says:
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Jesus says in Matthew 10:39:
Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 

So, how do these verses apply to me practically day in and day out?  First, I have to remember that God tells me my life will not be easy; in fact, He says I should be joyful when I meet "trials of various kinds" (James 1:2).  Trials produce steadfastness.  Let's take a look at how these verses fleshed themselves out today:

The alarm went off at 6:00, 6:10, and finally 6:20  I was about to grumble about how tired I was and how I didn't want to go to work when I thought of Monday's devotion.  I had to do a bit of "self talk".  I had to tell myself that even though school is sometimes (most of the time) challenging it is worth it.  Jesus will be my help, my strength, and my song.  And then after being at school for one hour and the kids are poking me in my lower back saying "teacher! teacher!" instead of raising their hands patiently at their desks I have to do some more "self talk" about Jesus loving these children and I should too (even when they are not obedient).

  When I'm not doing well at the whole self-talk business I'm thankful for a husband who will spoon feed me the gospel, and for the friends and co-workers who encourage me with God's good news.  So cheer up brothers and sisters!  If you are facing trials praise Him; if you are joyfully content praise Him.  I will leave you with the verse I am teaching the kindergartners this week:

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
                                                     -1 Thessalonians 5:18

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Friday To-Dos

Friday was a records day for Hope Academy; a time to work on report cards.  I had all of my report cards done (well, all except 3) before-hand; so Friday was a sort of "free day" for me.  Sometimes I like to fill free days with to-dos. 

Here was my list for this Friday:
1. spend time with Josh (he took a day off too)
2. get a haircut
3. put away laundry
4. bake something delicious
5. sew something...anything
6. write poetry
7. read
8. clean the house

 Here's the list of what actually happened Friday:
1. got a haircut
2. ate left over white chicken chili from Thursday
3. took a nap with Josh
4. went to Ikea
5. went out for dinner
6. drank tea while clothes sat in laundry baskets around my room.

So even though I did not sew or bake or do other creative things.  I spent time with my husband, I ventured outside the list, and I had a lovely unproductive day. 

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Saturday School

I went to school this Saturday; that's right, I taught on a Saturday!  Two Saturdays a year families join their children to spend a half day at Hope in their child's classroom.  It was a fun day.  The kids were really looking forward to it; each day we would count down on the calendar the number of days left before "Saturday School". 
After school Angela Swan (first grade teacher) and I headed to the park with some of our students and families for a family photo shoot. 

"W" Family

"H" Family
"P" Family

"M" Family
This was my last family to take photos of so I took my time :)
What beautiful families!  I love my job :)