Saturday, April 30, 2011
Infertility is a part of our family. Our family of two. We talk about it like we talk about the weather. Sometimes so much that we are so sick of having to talk about it. It’s become our familiar friend. Month after month we’re reminded that something we long for just wasn’t meant to be. And we wait. We are getting good at waiting. It has always been a battle of the mind. Fighting against the thoughts that it creep in muddling our sanity. It must be our fault. I must have done something to be this way. Maybe if I do this, we’ll get pregnant and we won’t have to walk this road anymore. It has become a cyclical road: hope followed by the silent reminder that things are not as we hoped.
This week was National Infertility Awareness Week. I just didn’t feel like I could let it go by without posting something. Our journey has been recorded through words on the page. Emotional words, words filled with sadness, but mostly words filled with hope and faith. Because we’ve learned we are not that different from you. And we want you to know that you are not that different than we are, even if you have children.
Resolve: The National Infertility Network is encouraging people to participate in Bust An Infertility Myth Challenge. Because of all the women who have bolstered beside me and pointed me to hope I wanted to participate. To let you know that you are not alone and to thank you for helping me feel incredibly loved.
Infertility is a funny thing really. Women and men have battled infertility for centuries. The Bible tells us so. Ninety years of barrenness Sarah waited. I’ve waited 2. Seems silly really. But somehow that doesn’t always change the hurt inside. Did you know that 1 in 8 couples suffers from infertility? In our 2 years I’ve met 8 couples that are walking this road.
Do you know someone who’s battling infertility? If you do, they need you to remind them, God is good. So many think if we don’t get what we want when we want it then God must not be good. If I’ve learned anything through the waiting it’s that my God is INCREDIBLY good.
God being good is not equated with getting what we want. Seeing infertility as good might sound a little sideways; you may want to stop reading. Please don’t. Infertility isn’t good in and of itself. It’s a product of the fall. But through this waiting I’m learning more about who He is. And for that, I’m grateful. How we view adversity can affect our entire being.
You may not believe in my God. You may not call Him by name. He may not be your best friend. But He’s mine. Creator of the Universe, Jehovah Jireh (Provider), all-powerful, all-sufficient, loving. He’s my God. And in this trial the words of the Book of Life have become my strength.
In the tears, when no one can truly feel my emotions. He can.
When I feel alone, my soul finds comfort. He’s always with me.
If I ask why, he whispers in my ear. My ways are not your ways.
When my heart cries, Are you there? He answers, Always.
If I ask how long Lord? He gently answers, I’ll carry you.
I’m thankful He takes me in His arms. He wraps me in His love. He promises me that He will never leave me or forsake me. He bottles my tears in His book and gently wipes them away. He is familiar with my pain. He has waited. He has hurt. He has wanted. He has asked for the cup to be taken from Him. He’s good. All the time.
And because of Him, I can walk through the fire and not be burned. I can hope that He will hear my cries and answer me. And I can be content because His best is better than anything I can imagine. It hurts. It is painful. It is a battle. There are days I have questioned His goodness. There have been plenty of times I’ve acted like a 2 year old, spitting angry, stomping my feet in imperfect selfishness. And I’ve felt empty every time.
But I’m always brought back to the truth. He’s good. There is no evil in Him. I am not being punished and neither are you.
We are being made holy by way of life’s trials. And He’s been there. And He’s with us. And by the road of infertility, or cancer, or MS, or by any adversity, we’ll be made to be women who Hope with great faith and are Content in Him. We’ll have great joy even in the midst. That’s a strong woman. I want to be a strong woman.
Believe He’s good.
It changes everything.
I promise because He promised me.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Although I have only gotten started with this app/website I’m sure it will help me strategize and better prepare for grocery shopping. With the ability to make lists for certain stores, view coupons, and find out what favorites need restocking, I’m certain this is going to save me some time. It’s always a bit time consuming to set these things up, but after the hard work, it’s certain to reap big in time savings and energy.
Monday, April 25, 2011
This post is all about face. Actually it’s about make-up, but that goes on your face! I’ve never been one to be incredibly loyal to a brand of makeup. I feel like I’ve been there done that with so many different brands always on the lookout for that one that will do everything and not make me feel like I’m wearing makeup. I especially don’t want it to rub off. Can you say embarrassing?
In the past I’ve worn Clinique, Mary Kay, L’Oreal, Sonia Kashuk, Neutrogena, Covergirl, Maybelline you name it, I’ve probably tried it. From my list you can also probably tell that I’m cheap. Most of those brands I can grab at Target and use a coupon for extra savings. But I’m always disappointed. Not only are the shades sometimes off, but the coverage isn’t that great. It always looks like I have make-up on and if it doesn’t it certainly feels like it. I figured it was time to clean out my make-up bag.
By the way I love this bag by Vera Bradley. It’s awesome for make-up and travel!
I’ve had some extra money saved up, so I decided that investing in good make-up was a worthwhile use of my money. When I had the makeover done they used a Mineral make-up by Jane Iredale. Though spendy, I loved the look and feel of the Mineral make-up. So instead of spending even more on Jane Iredale, I went for Bare Escentuals. My mother-in-law wears it and swears by it. And just let me tell you she looks AMAZING!
So I cleaned out my make-up bag, moseyed into Bare Escentuals, had them find the right colors, and then I headed to Nordstrom. Online. Why? Because they had a fun BONUS when you spent a certain amount online with bag, blush, and brush. I also bought a pair of shoes so my order would ship free, saving me $$, and promptly returned the shoes. :)
Here’s my makeup stash now:
I can’t tell you how much I love it. Bring on summer because this make-up is weightless and it doesn’t rub off. Even better.
What’s your favorite make-up?
Friday, April 22, 2011
Year after year the hubby and I keep trying to make tiny, small steps to being greener. As you may have noticed from our last post, we don’t do everything green. In fact, so much of what we do isn’t green. But that being said, we’re trying, small steps at a time.
The area we’ve tried to green/healthify the most has been our pantry. Again, if you look at our snacks you might be shaking your head, she’s crazy. But as far as snacks go, we let just about anything in our house. They’re treats/snacks. Not our main meals. Ways we tried to go greener/healthier:
-we drink almost exclusively Organic milk
-we try to consume organic chicken and grass fed beef (as our budget will allow)
-we go vegetarian at least once if not twice a week
-I try to make many of our breads, treats, etc. at home (less processed)
-joining a CSA for locally grown vegetables and fruits
-Organic and most often cage free eggs
-utilizing the bulk bins for staples (less packaging)
-using glass storage containers instead of plastic (less bpa exposure/~$30 from Costco)
-using water bottles instead of bottles of water (we need new ones, suggestions?)
-using our own bags when at all possible
I know we have a ways to go and we can always do things better but some things are a little harder in an apartment and to be honest as much as I want to be greener, most often the thought behind it is that it’s better for our health or cheaper. If we had a house and we did any remodeling, I really would spend the money to utilize greener elements. I would love to have solar panels, a rain barrel, and our own garden when the time comes.
I’m curious what you at your house do to be greener? What are your favorite products? Have you overhauled your beauty/health regime with products that are better for your skin, overhauled your food choices, or went green with cleaning supplies?
Last year we joined our first CSA and we liked so many things about it. Not everything mind you but we enjoyed the experience enough to join another one this year. We joined Driftless Organics on a recommendation from our friends and we are very excited. Now we are looking into a Beef CSA. Has anyone done that?
Here’s to being greener, getting healthier, and saving some money along the way!
Happy Earth Day (and Good Friday)!
On Wednesday I hit up double coupon day at Rainbow. If you haven’t visited a Rainbow lately please do. I also proceeded to have my heart beat half out of my chest that maybe I did something wrong when I pulled up to the checkout, cart full of boxes, and proceeded to have to cashier do two check outs for me just so I could double 10 coupons. Yup. I was that person. Good thing she was super quick and the grocery wasn’t crowded.
But I did almost loose my cookies. I’m not sure why, I was just saving money, but it just seemed too good to be true. I can understand slightly why those coupon ladies are so crazy. I’m not going there. But I am going to try and I just might find myself at the grocery on double coupon day again, on a Wednesday, not a Saturday. We all know to avoid the grocery on a Saturday, right?
I don’t want to become that crazy person that always posts her great deals. But darn it, I’m excited over how much I saved! Hopefully this might help you too:)
4 12-packs of Coke 4@ $1.99 each
(Coke, CF Dt. Coke, Mr. Pibb, and Orange)
3 Bananas $.58
3 Kraft Dressings $3.84 (coupon $1/2)
6 Boxes of Ronzoni Pasta $6 (coupon $1/2)
4 Frozen Juice Conentrates $4 (coupon $1/4)
(we drink a lot of juice and these don’t take up space)
1/2 Gallon of Chocolate Milk $1.25
Doubled the above coupons. I had 3 coupons for the pasta which means I got 6 boxes of pasta for FREE!
8 boxes of Crackers 8 @ $1.99 each
(2 Cheeze-it, 2 Toasteds, 1 Club, 3 Townhouse) (3 $1 off coupons)
Sour Cream $1 ($1 off coupon)
Eggland’s Best Brown Organic Cage Free Eggs $3.09 (.75 off coupon)
Eggland’s Best White Eggs $2.69 ($.50 off coupon)
Johnsonville Breakfast Sausage links and patties 2 @ $3.00 each ($2 coupon)
That’s a lot of crackers I know. But hopefully we won’t have to buy them for a whole year. That sounds good to me. Spent $36.87 and I saved 60% ($54.22)
Then I headed to Walmart for some board games. There are Hasbro coupons out right now for $2 and $3 off popular games. I’ve been wanting to gather more games for when kiddos come to play so this was the perfect opportunity. They had Operation and Candy Land for $5 each.
Candy Land $5
Best part, they came with mail in vouchers for Free Tombstone Pizza up to $7. So not only did I pay basically $2.50/game but I will get 2 free pizzas for up to $14. Not bad at all.
If you are looking for coupons, I find so many at Target.com, by searching google, from the Sunday Newspaper, and from Brand sites. Organic coupons can be found on the retailers website. I buy our Organic Valley milk ALWAYS with a $1 coupon. Amazing.
Just a little work and you are saving money. Hopefully I can keep this up.
What are your favorite coupon sites?
Thursday, April 21, 2011
In three days it will be Easter Sunday.
We’ve been trying to prepare for this. To not let the day go past or the days leading up to it be forgotten. We’ve been praying God would help us to see what a glorious day this is. The day that our Savior took on all of our sin, bore it on the cross, and rose again victorious over Satan and Hell for our sake.
We’ve been using this book: Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross by Nancy Guthrie and this site to walk through the days leading up to the Crucifixion. Easter is a time to rejoice; there IS victory in the cross but also a time to reflect, ponder, imagine what the Lord went through to reconcile us to the Father. The blood, the sweat, the honest and humble petitioning of the Father to take the cup, knowing all the while that He was placed on the Earth for this moment.
Every morning when I pray or am reading my Bible I want to remember, to count it as an honor, that I can petition the Father directly. That the Spirit of God lives within me. That Jesus has torn the curtain in half. We have access to God because of Christ. And it was not free.
I want to remember my Savior as He was when He took all my sin upon His shoulders. I never want to take it for granted. And I will. I’m a sinner. But I pray earnestly that I wouldn’t and you wouldn’t. The greatest gift we’ve ever been given was on Calvary.
Do you know Him? He knows you. Your name, your past, your failures. Everything. And He longs to know you more, to reconcile you to the Father, giving you a new heart and a new hope. He is Yahweh. God almighty. Savior. Friend. And our only hope.
Calvary. What a place. What a Sacrifice. What a gift.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
In an attempt to try and lower our grocery bill a bit, I’ve gotten back into couponing. Don’t worry I won’t turn Extreme! A few months back we started to get a Sunday paper again and not wanting that cost to go to waste, I diligently cut coupons.
If you know me, you know that I strive to try and put fewer and fewer processed foods on our table. I figure in the long run it’s just better for us to eat food the way God made it and the fewer ingredients the better. But there are exceptions for everything. My hubby, well he has an love for Cheeze-its, crackers, fruit snacks, and soda. As much as I try to make our meals have fewer ingredients, our snacks are the opposite. What does cereal have to do with this?
Well, we’ve been eating more of it because of couponing. Cereal gets so cheap it’s not even funny. That being said, cereal is for the most part more nutritious for the hubs than Toaster Strudels and bagels, his breakfasts of choice. And so much more CONVEINANT!
That brings me to the deal. At RAINBOW FOODS this week General Mills cereals (Cheerios, Kix, Golden Grahams, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Honey Nut Cheerios, Trix, & Multi Grain Cheerios) are $1.99 a piece when you buy 6 AND you get 2 coupons for FREE gallons of milk. Quite the deal. But it gets better, they’ll give you $3 when you buy 6 boxes. Additionally there are coupons out for almost all of these kinds for between $.55-$.75 off/box. Just google them. I am certain about the Cheerios, Kix, and Trix. Target has them on their website and they are MANUFACTURER COUPONS, meaning you can use them at Rainbow.
Here’s the breakdown.
Buy 6 @ $1.99 a piece = $11.94
Minus $3 for buying 6 = -3.00
2 $.55 and 2 $.75 = -2.60
Total after coupons $6.34
If you have more coupons you get more off. If you purchase this deal with an additional $14 purchase on other things like Ronzoni Pasta ($.50 after coupon) you can double your coupons. Up to 10 coupons this Saturday can be doubled.
If you double the above 4 coupons you pay $3.74 for 6 boxes of cereal and 2 coupons for FREE milk! What a deal!
I definitely would have taken advantage, but we have 7 boxes of cereal in the pantry. Oops!
Friday, April 15, 2011
Back four and half years ago I had one goal in the kitchen when we got married. I desperately wanted to master yeast bread. I had visions of going back in time, living off the land, using the resources of good, wholesome ingredients to create yummy, delicious and nutritious food, like homemade bread. I think I was trying to summon my inner Laura Ingalls. But what did I know. Lo and behold, four years later yeast breads are some of my favorite things to make, hence it’s own tag (BREAD).
Yeast is daunting. It shouldn’t be. It’s not that hard and you do not need a bread maker to make yummy bread. I have a post coming on my tips for making yeast work for you. You to can conquer yeast if you so desire. I hope you will try, there is no comparison to the taste of homemade versions and store bought bread. Homemade is so much better it just takes a little patience and time.
This week I was lucky enough to have my blog friend Jackie visiting. I had her over for dinner with her friend Emily, whom I’ve met a couple of times and love, and what else to do but woo them with homemade bread. Seriously this is one of my favorites and for all you recipe followers out there…I didn’t follow this to a T and it still turned out so delicious. I’ll note my changes below. It was the perfect accompaniment to our yummy Cheese Manicotti and spinach salad, especially when served with the leftover herb oil. Bread and oil, yes please!
Herbed Focaccia Bread
5 cups unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. instant yeast
6 tbsp. olive oil
2 cups water, at room temperature
¼ to ½ cup herb oil (recipe below)
Stir together the flour, salt and yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the oil and water and mix on low speed with the paddle attachment until the ingredients form a wet, sticky ball. Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for 5-7 minutes, or as long as it takes to create a smooth, sticky dough. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. (You may need to add additional flour to firm up the dough enough to clear the sides of the bowl, but the dough should still be quite soft and sticky.) I didn’t need any additional flour.
Sprinkle enough flour on the counter to make a bed about 6 inches square. Using a scraper or spatula dipped in water (I used my hands), transfer the sticky dough to the bed of flour and dust liberally with flour, patting the dough into a rectangle. Wait 5 minutes for the dough to relax.
Coat your hands with flour and stretch the dough from each end to twice its size. Fold it, letter style, over itself to return it to a rectangular shape. Mist the top of the dough with spray oil (I used olive oil Pam), again dust with flour and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
Let rest for 30 minutes. Stretch and fold the dough again; mist with spray oil, dust with flour and cover. After 30 minutes, repeat this one more time. (Now is a good time to make the herb oil)
Allow the covered dough to ferment on the counter for 1 hour. It should swell but not necessarily double in size.
Line a 17×12” sheet pan with
baking parchment (I DID NOT line my paper and was fine b/c you put oil down) and proceed with the shaping and panning (instructions below).
This is where I really deviated from the plan. I didn’t read through the recipe first so I didn’t have the time to proof the dough overnight (basically that stops the rising process) and I didn’t have time for it to sit for 3 hours on the counter after it proofed in the fridge. Instead I had 2 hours until dinner time so I just left it covered on the counter, said a prayer, and went on with my day. I resumed with the recipe as follows below with the shaping instructions.
Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough overnight (or for up to 3 days). Remove the pan from the refrigerator 3 hours before baking.
Drizzle additional herb oil over the surface and dimple it in. (I used half and then served the bread with the other half..YUM
!) (You can use all of it if you want; the dough will absorb it even though it looks like a lot.) This should allow you to fill the pan completely with the dough a thickness of about ½-inch.
Again, cover the pan with plastic and proof the dough at room temperature for 3 hours, or until the dough doubles in size, rising to a thickness of nearly 1-inch.
Preheat the oven to 500° with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
Place the pan in the oven. Lower the oven setting to 450° and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees and continue baking the focaccia for 5-10 minutes, or until it begins to turn a light golden brown. The internal temperature of the dough should register 200° (measured in the center).
Remove the pan from the oven and immediately transfer the focaccia out of the pan onto a cooling rack. (I left it in and let it cool. ONLY because I tested it and I was able to lift it up. Taking it off the pan is probably a good idea) If the parchment is stuck on the bottom, carefully remove it by lifting the corner of the focaccia and peeling it off the bottom with a gentle tug.
Allow the focaccia to cool for at least 20 minutes before slicing and serving. I CUT it RIGHT away…who can resist!
Drizzle ¼ cup of olive oil over the paper and spread it with your hands or a brush to cover the entire surface. Lightly oil your hands and using a plastic or metal pastry scraper, lift the dough off the counter and transfer it to the sheet pan, maintaining the rectangular shape as much as possible.
Spoon half of the herb oil over the dough. Use your fingertips to dimple the dough and spread it simultaneously. Do not use the flat of your hands – only the fingertips – to avoid tearing or ripping the dough. Try to keep the thickness as uniform as possible across the surface. Dimpling allows you to de-gas only part of the dough while preserving gas in the non-dimpled sections. If the dough becomes too springy, let it rest for about 15 minutes and then continue dimpling. Don’t worry if you are unable to fill the pan 100 percent, especially the corners. As the dough relaxes and proofs, it will spread out naturally. Use more herb oil as needed to ensure that the entire surface is coated in oil.
Warm ½ cup olive oil over low heat in a small saucepan. Add about 4 tsp. of dried herbs, such as basil, parsley, oregano, thyme, rosemary, or sage. Add about ¾ tsp. of kosher salt, ¼ tsp. black pepper, and 1-2 finely minced cloves garlic. You may also add paprika, ground cayenne pepper, fennel seeds or onion powder to taste. Allow to remain on low heat for about 1-1 ½ hours to allow the oil to become infused with the flavors.
Store any leftover herb oil in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Over a month ago I found myself drooling while gazing at my computer screen. It was an onslaught of cinnamon sugar. Cinnamon toast is a favorite of mine and this bread looked even better than plain old cinnamon toast. So my fingers quickly moved the mouse over the star button on my google reader page. Then Annie from Annie’s Eats made it a few weeks later. Seeing it a second time with the same reaction and I knew I needed to make it soon. So I did. Did it live up to the picture?
It’s definitely a showstopper bread. It’s as beautiful in person as it is in the pictures. And it’s yummy too. The only thing I would change is that I would omit the nutmeg. I’m not sure why I even tried it. A few years ago I made cinnamon rolls with some nutmeg and ever since I keep it out. I’m sure if I would have omitted it we would have loved it even more. That being said, it’s even more delicious the days after you make it. Which is great if you are like us and can’t finish the loaf in one sitting! Do NOT be intimidated it looks harder than it really is. Trust me.
Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread
Yield: one 9 x 5″ loaf
For the dough:
2¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
¼ cup granulated sugar
2¼ tsp. instant yeast
½ tsp. salt
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/3 cup whole milk
¼ cup water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
For the filling:
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
To make the dough, combine the flour, sugar, yeast and salt in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Combine the butter and milk in a small saucepan and heat just until the butter is melted. Set aside and let cool briefly, until the mixture registers 115-125˚ F on an instant-read thermometer. Add the milk mixture, water, vanilla and eggs to the mixer bowl. Mix on low speed until a cohesive dough forms. Continue to knead until smooth and elastic, adding additional flour as needed 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough clears the sides of the bowl and is tacky but not sticky. Knead about 3-5 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat, and cover.
Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
While the dough rises, add the butter to a small saucepan and melt until browned. Set aside. Combine the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small bowl and mix well.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and gently deflate.
Roll into a ball, cover with a clean towel and let rest for 5 minutes.
Roll the dough out into an approximately 12 x 20-inch rectangle.
Brush the dough with the browned butter. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the dough in an even layer.
Lightly grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Slice the dough vertically into 6 even strips. Stack the strips on top of each other and again cut again into 6 equal slices.
Stack all the squares on top of each other and set into the prepared loaf pan. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place, 30-45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Transfer the loaf to the oven and bake 30-35 minutes, until the top is golden brown. (If the top seems to be browning too quickly, cover loosely with foil at the end of baking.) Remove from the oven and let rest in the pan 20-30 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen and carefully turn the loaf out, transferring to a serving plate. Serve warm.