A few days ago I accidentally made hot fudge. Want to know how? It goes like this…
My son J demanded wanted no bake cookies. I thought that was a good idea because I love them too.
Out came the recipe and I began making them. Butter, sugar, cocoa…oh and almond milk. But then it looked strangely soupy. Oh no I added 1 cup of almond milk instead of 1/2 cup. I didn’t want it to go to waste so…
I added double the amount of butter, sugar and cocoa. Let it boil for 1 minute as usual. Then poured it into a glass measuring cup. It was about 2 cups so I poured out half back in the pan and made the cookies like normal.
Except now I realise that I had a double recipe’s worth of milk and varying degrees of the others. The butter, sugar and cocoa were at the same level but the peanut butter and oats were still at the half-batch amount.
No wonder they looked like pancakes. Oh well. They still tasted fine.
What to do with the rest of the liquid? Well it certainly looked like chocolate syrup. I wondered what would happen when I froze it.
So I poured it into a cake pan and popped it in the freezer. I forgot about it until the next day when I brought home a pint of frozen custard.
When I pulled off the plastic wrap from the cake pan, the chocolate sauce had all the appearance of “hot” fudge.
I put it on my frozen custard and it was divine. A bit heavy on the butter but totally delicious.
Accidental Hot Fudge
1/4 cup butter (can sub non-dairy butter)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup almond milk (or other dairy or non-dairy milk)
2 Tablespoons cocoa
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Mix all ingredients together in a small saucepan as the butter melts. Boil for 1 minute.
Pour into a metal cakepan to cool. Cover with plastic wrap (press it to the surface of the syrup) and freeze overnight.
Spoon or drizzle hot or cold over your favorite dairy or non-dairy ice cream/frozen yogurt/custard 😊
$1.24. Yeah. Cheap. If I divided the chocolate sauce and my pint of chocolate frozen custard into 4 servings it would only be $1.31 a serving. Even for 1 cup servings it would be $2.62. That’s about a dollar cheaper than the ones I order ready made.
Look at that fierce beast. I love the mix of emotion going on here. There’s annoyance and a bit of anger but you can tell she still loves me 🙂
Stella proved to be an adept hunter this spring. She caught and killed 2 mice in just a few days.
I’m a bit embarrassed to admit we had mice. Stella, on the other hand couldn’t have been happier with the situation. She watched the furnace vent in the kitchen for hours until the moment arrived…to pounce!
I missed her catching the first one but found her beside it in J’s room one morning. The second one I saw her catch and watched her play with it. It was very entertaining to watch. Wish I would have recorded it.
We haven’t had any trouble with mice since. Perhaps word has gotten around about our furry and feirce huntress. Thanks Stella!
We have had an insane amount of rain lately. At times one of my old poems comes to mind as it did today. So I wanted to share it. It is truly from yesteryear…written over a decade ago in my teen years. I did alter it slightly for clarity.
This poem is about storms, mysteries and my relationship with my Heavenly Father.
Last Tuesday and Wednesday I finally did something about my yogurt conundrum. I’ve been wanting some good non-dairy yogurt that isn’t saturated with sugar like the storebought kind.
I’ve been putting it off because I thought it would be hard to make my own. I was wrong. It totally wasn’t hard. Long process, yes. But not hard.
Why coconut yogurt? Some of you may know I can’t have a lot of dairy products. Currently everything is out except butter and cheese and just a few other things…like my beloved frozen custard that I would probably die without.
Anyway. The process began when I saw my local natural food store had this yogurt starter for sale. It was $10 for a pack of 4 probiotic starter packets. Oy. I went back and forth about buying it.
Finally I did because I figured once I made some yogurt I could use part of that as a starter and hopefully never have to buy more starters.
For the recipe, I used this one from Dawn @smallfootprintfamily and got an idea of a time frame for the crockpot from this post by Trisha @funkyfoodallergies.
From start to finish, this took about 16 hours. That seems absurd, but let me break it down. It heated up from 4-7pm. From 7-11pm it cooled down. I added the stuff and then it fermented overnight from 11pm-9amish. Very little hands on time.
And yes, that is a meat thermometer.
In retrospect, I believe I added a bit too much gelatin. I calculated that I would need 1.75 packages to make a quart of yogurt. But I got distracted while pouring it in because I was talking with my husband. I’m thinking this was the reason it turned out so thick.
But does it taste good? Is the price worth it?
To me, the answer is yes and yes. The flavor and texture is something to get used to. As directed, I used full fat coconut milk. It was hard to get used to the unsweetened plain flavor, but with the addition of vanilla and frozen strawberries..yes. Very good.
And the price?
I calculated I made about 35 oz. (After it was whisked to a fluffy texture.) The price came out to $7.71. That’s 22¢ per oz and 88¢ for 4 oz. The last time I bought coconut yogurt at Wal-Mart, it was $1.58 for a 4 oz container. And that stuff was sugared to the moon and back. And rather on the thin side to boot. Currently none of the stores in my area carry any cartons larger than 4 oz so I can make no comparison there.
So yes, pretty easy to make. Tastes good with flavorings added and cheaper than storebought. There is a bit of investment initially, but I think its worth it. Per batch the price is right. I’m calling this one a triple win 🙂
Happy Caturday! I realize I haven’t properly introduced the 5th member of our family. This is our cat Stella. Really she’s my cat but we all love her. Even my husband who says he dislikes cats.
We adopted Stella 3/11/2015 from a local pet store. She was transferred there from the animal shelter. Stella was labeled as a domestic short hair mixed breed and 3 years old. That makes her 5 years old today.
My husband says he doesn’t like cats. But he loves me. And I love cats. Thus Stella. She adds joy to my life. She is a sweet companion and so understanding and patient with the kids.
I knew she was the cat for us when she stuck her little paw out of her cage and batted playfully at my son. J giggled and I fell in love with this sweet little ball of fur. Our Stella.
This post is an edit of the one I wrote March 23, 2015.
Oh boy. You’re writing about that?! You bet. I spent a lot of time figuring out my thoughts on this topic. And originally I had a lot to say, but I realized that the direction that I was taking wasn’t what God wanted me to write. So over a period of time I have written and re-written this post.
“What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are we not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.” 1 Corinthians 5:12-13a (NIV)
I have chosen to address this post to a Christian audience. This is mainly because my viewpoint comes from a Biblically based Christian standpoint and it doesn’t seem fair to subject unbelievers to that. Throughout this post, I will share some scripture and my thoughts on why a Christian must abstain from reading this specific brand of literature.
I began this post because I needed to figure out the whys of what I believed about this book. I didn’t agree with those believers who thought that reading Fifty Shades was ok. So I looked at things objectively. I did a lot of research. I also spent a good bit of time seeking understanding in this matter so that I could respond with care.
I wanted to know, really know why I shouldn’t read these books which had become so popular. And I also wondered why they were so popular. Aside from the obvious “it’s about sex”.
I see this genre as a response to fill a problem that many women face. I think that this is much of the reason why the Fifty Shades of Grey literature gained so much popularity.
A Few Reasons for Popularity
1) I see that this book is geared towards women, especially moms who might wish to escape from a sometimes busy and demanding life. There is no harm in a novel, but the morality of the content is also important.
2) Women want to be seen as desirable. One of the major themes in the Twilight books and Fifty Shades is that a woman is pursued, wooed and made to feel desirable. Which is something that I would say we all want as women. Again, nothing wrong with that. But God created that desire to be met in courtship and marriage. He created and wanted that exclusivity that existed between husband and wife from the very beginning with Adam and Eve.
Talking About Judgement
Is it my place to be judgemental? Yes and no. If it wasn’t my place, then I wouldn’t have felt the prompting to write this. However, I am not of the school of thought which says, “Slather on that judgement!”. Judgement should be made and delivered with a great amount of prayer, thought and wisdom.Thus it is important to remember the words Jesus spoke.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1 (NIV)
Don’t judge? For this passage, I dug out my commentary and took a gander at the insight offered there.
“Before presuming to help others, one must undergo some self-discipline and yield to the discipline of the Lord (Ps. 51:10-13).” -Moody Bible Commentary (2014)
And oh yeah, that happened. The Lord very much worked on my own heart as I began to write this post.
The Flesh and the Spirit
I’ve been reading in Romans chapter 8 where Paul talks about the flesh and the spirit. How they battle for control in the believer’s life. We have to choose everyday which we will serve. Who we will serve. It is not an easy task. I myself have difficulty keeping that balanced mindset.
“Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of the sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:5-6 (NIV)
Be Selective About Your Reads
I could easily choose to pick up Fifty Shades and read it. Give in to the voice that says it is ok.
But I’ve heard that gentle voice, that quiet but firm word of caution saying, “Stay away”. And I know I must stay far away from temptation because the Holy Spirit is there to guide me. To help and protect me. My mind, my spiritual health is valued by God. And He wants me to value it too.
Just like what you feed your body determines your overall health. Your skin can show if you’ve been eating your fruits and veggies. Found that one out lately. Your mind, your actions, emotions and thoughts can show you what you have been reading, watching, dwelling on. Even things that you have viewed or read long ago can come up again. Which is why it is so important to be on your guard.
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV)
There was a time in my life when I was not as guarded as I should have been when it came to my choice in literature. I learned a very valuable lesson from that and now I am very careful to avoid what is not wholesome. Am I perfect? No. But I do know firsthand that choosing what is unwholesome can haunt, can trouble and linger.
Ultimately, I do not believe that reading these books or watching the movies are compatible with a life that is devoted to following after God. I can find no scripture that would support that stance.
In conclusion, I have to ask: is it a sin to read this Fifty Shades series? To watch the movies? Everything I’ve read in the Bible and what I know about the series points to a yes. Fifty Shades of Grey is not compatible with the believer’s life. Much caution is needed here. Think twice about reading this book, about watching the movies and listen intently to the Holy Spirit’s prompting.
Last fall, we took an exciting family road trip to Cincinnati for our family vacation. It was our first-ever road trip as a family of 4. Our children were ages 3 and 6 months.
This (long) post is a culmination of what I learned from our 4 family vacations when my kids were 3 and under.
To be honest, ever since we had kids, when my husband says he wants us to go on a vacation I get a slight headache as I think of alllll the things I must do in preparation for this exciting excursion.
As a mother, it is my job to smooth everything out. To ensure the comfort and nourishment of my family. Thus, I pack the snacks, bring all the items associated with comfort, hygiene, ect. It is my job to keep things flowing while we are away having adventures.
A does this too but his primary responsibility was driving so sometimes he was rather tired at the end of a traveling day. I don’t blame him…he often got the task of corralling our young son on top of that so yeah. Totally understand.
We had been on vacation with a baby before. J was 3 months old when we took our first family vacation. Between that and the other 2 challenging road trips we had, I felt more comfortable in my preparation.
Vacation #2…was when J was 1 1/2. We traveled over 2,000 miles. Half of it in a tour bus. Do not recommend a trip like that with small children btw. Vacation #3 was a total of 1,500 miles. You can read a bit about that vacation from this post.
Here are some items that I found to be indispensable on our trip. Following the lists I will share some travel tips.
Note: My daughter was exclusively breastfed at this time, and had just started solids. Let me say that compared to our vacation with my formula-fed son, this made things way easier. J was exclusively formula fed as a baby. More on my comparison on breastfeeding vs. formula here.
Alright on to the list.
Toddler + Baby On the Road: Must-Take Items
Food (Things We Actually Ate)
several cases of water bottles
diced peach cups in 100% juice
whole wheat tortillas
baby food in jars or pouches, if your baby is eating solids. I kept bibs, spoons and baby food in a clear plastic shoebox.
**Fiber is very important! Lots of sitting in the car can really affect kids systems. I brought a few cans of black olives (and a can opener) and some baby carrots for J. But I forgot about the baby! I should have brought canned prunes!
chocolate milk (small bottles)
juice boxes (partial pack in the cooler)
half gallon of milk
Single servings of drinks were great. I often emptied them into a sippy cup for J. Or with juice, I mixed it half and half with water. We do this at home as well, to cut down on sugar.
For the cooler, we packed all of our ice packs, then when we got to our hotel, we put everything into the hotel mini-fridge. Stocked the cooler with ice before we left and froze the ice packs if we could.
Keep in mind, if you are nursing that you will need a heaping ton of water/beverages for yourself. Also if your baby is drinking formula, you will need extra bottled water as well.
Helpful Non-Food Items
extra sippy cup(s)
plastic utensils (we ended up just needing spoons)
Toys that interest baby. This will depend on age and the types of toys they love most at home. EricCarleand Lamaze toys are brands we’ve loved
Toys that the toddler likes. We bought 1 or 2 toys from different places we went. J got a dinosaur grabber toy that he absolutely loved. Fun things that are durable and interesting are good. Toy cars, little figurines (big enough & safe, such as dinosaurs), small books.
Linens and Extra Clothes:
Baby and toddler sweaters, if its that “in between” temperature/ season where you are going.
Extra pairs of shoes (because toddlers love puddles)
This has multiple uses: 1) prop baby’s head for a diaper change in the car. 2) use for impromptu picnic. 3) use as sun shade in the car (edge of the blanket in a partially open window, then roll it up and shut the blanket in).
Hats for anyone that likes to wear hats, for sun protection in the heat. The baby wore a hat when we were spending a lot of time outdoors.
Other Miscellaneous Necessities:
Half a box of diapers, kept in the bag. Stock the diaper bag with diapers so you don’t need to opwn it right away. For us, this was more than enough diapers for a week.
As many wipes as you think you need. We took a few packs.
A baby carrier was indispensable for us. It saves stroller space, keeps the baby happy too. Switch it up with your significant other, if you can so your back doesn’t go into spasms. Also, put some wipes in a ziplock and put this and a few diapers into the zipper pouch of your baby carrier, if it has one. Saves you from lugging a diaper bag, in some instances anyway.
A kids safety harness. We have this one. I frowned on using one initially but realized that in some instances (like near open water) it did prevent a bigger mishap and give us added peace of mind.
Any small pillows or comfort items for the kids.
A pack and play for the baby to sleep in if you think you’ll need it. Honestly we didn’t bring one this time and just did co-sleeping. Which works for us at home as well. It depends on your preferences and storage space.
As for the actual traveling…yes, there will probably be hiccups. Our baby girl cried a lot because she hated not being held and confined to the car seat. Our son sometimes got worked into a frenzy too. We took breaks for bathroom, small walks/exercise and nursing.
A few pics from our vacation last October⤵⤵⤵
It helps to schedule downtime. An impromptu picnic, a trip to a local park. A place to get away from the noise and unwind. Those two things are some real examples and ended up being some of my favorite memories from our vacation.
If you can, schedule your hotel reservations ahead. This helps if you are staying in the same general area for a few days or so. We did this on our vacation and it made things so much easier. There is nothing quite as stressful as waiting around late at night while you try to find a suitable hotel room. Plan ahead and you will thank yourself for it. If you go with one particular hotel line you may be able to get a sizable discount after a certain number of days. I think we had 4 days paid and 1 day free.
Also, if you’re not keen on going out to eat a lot consider eating in. We did not eat out at all when we were on vacation. And by eat out, I mean at a sit-down restraunt, inside.
We got take out from places like Panara Bread and Bob Evans. Usually we just ordered online and my husband picked it up while I stayed at the hotel with the kids.
Routine is good too. Not too much, but enough to keep everyone steady. We liked to go out in the morning after breakfast, then in the afternoon as soon as our hotel room was ready we checked in and chilled out for a bit. Then we got supper, watched tv and maybe ventured out sometime around the supper hour.
One thing I wish we would have done was rented a stroller or cart at some of the places we went. Because the toddler will get tired of walking and want to be carried. And chances are the baby carrier may hurt your back at some point. A stroller would have been welcome relief, even if we didn’t use it the whole time.
That covers a lot of what I learned about traveling with small people. I think that each time I get just a little bit calmer about the whole process. It gets easier the more you do it 🙂
Growing up, there weren’t many family cookouts that felt complete without my Mom’s broccoli cauliflower salad or her calico beans. Just thinking about them brings me back to my Grandma’s house. All of my senses are enveloped and anchored when I enter Grandma’s kitchen.
Memories, comfort and love have always surrounded me there. We all loved seeing Grandma (still do!) but we especially appreciated all the food she and everyone else made for us.
After I was married, I made the transition to cooking a lot more. I had to find my niche. See what recipes work for my family. And even now, its a process.
I’ve recently learned that I can make calico beans in my crock pot. I found an awesome recipe by The Crockin’ Girls that I adapted a bit. It tastes different than my Mom’s recipe. She uses more beans and cooks hers in the oven. It’s thicker that way and richer in flavor. Soooo good!
So yeah it does taste different. But still yummy 🙂 My husband wolfed down his when I first tried the recipe. I said, “I didn’t know you liked calico beans so much!” To which he replied, “It’s the sauce babe. It’s so good!” Suffice to say, he stuffed himself. And L loved it too. She didn’t eat a lot but this is the only way I can get her to eat beans.
Crockpot Calico Beans
Makes 8+ servings.
1 lb ground beef
1/2 lb bacon
1 can lima beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup ketchup
2 cans pork and beans
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped onion
3 Tablespoons white vinegar
1 pinch s & p
Dice bacon & cook till barely done. Add to crock pot.
Drain bacon grease & cook ground beef. (Optional: cook the onions with the beef.)
Drain fat and add beef to crock pot. Add remaining ingredients.
Cook on low 1 hour, high 3+ hours. **Edit: I realize now it makes more sense to cook for 4+ hours on high, if you are not cooking the onions with the ground beef.
Note: If you cook the beef and onion together, you can cook the calico beans for 4 hours on low. This method would bring the flavor up a notch. I seem to forget every time but either way it works out!
I calculated that it cost me $9.26 to make this recipe. But it makes a lot. Like 2 quarts. So (8) 1 cup servings at $1.15 each.
Recipe adapted from “Calico Beans”, by The Crockin’ Girls.
I just noticed that yesterday, exactly 200 years ago, a man by the name of Henry David Thoreau was born.
Which is interesting, because I just finished reading a book about him. And then I started reading Walking again a few nights ago. And I wondered…
Who was he? What was he about?
He was a poet. A naturalist (he had an intense love and respect of nature), transcendentalist and abolitionist.
If you want to learn more about transcendentalism, I recommend checking out dictionary.com, as well as this article.
Friends and fellow transcendentalists included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Amos Bronson Alcott and Louisa May Alcott (father and daughter), and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Amongst these folks his work was accepted.
But Thoreau was not always understood by his fellow man. Those who lived in his hometown of Concord, Massachusetts saw him as a loafer, didn’t think he contributed much to society.
Which was fair enough. Because although he was a Harvard grad, he didn’t have any specific employment or job title. Although he did have some work as surveyor and handyman for a time.
But that wasn’t his passion. He loved to study nature. In Walking (published after his death)his level of detail and study of the natural world is amazing. But passion and paycheck don’t always intersect.
Enter Emerson. Emerson was a close friend who helped Thoreau further his dreams. He was the one who provided the land on which Thoreau built his famous Walden cabin. Here he could write and dream without fear or impediment.
I am so intrigued by the life he lived here. He built a little house (only 10’x15′!) and for 2 years he had this experiment where he lived such a simple and minimalistic life. He farmed and lived off of the land. He studied nature and walked for hours each day. Man that sounds so relaxing!
His book Walden (also called Life In The Woods) covers this time period.
The remainder of his life he spent exploring parts of Maine and Canada and recording his thoughts. He saw himself as a “reporter in nature” and thought it his responsibility to observe and record what he could.
He is also well-known for his anti-government essay entitled Civil Disobedience. This essay was sparked by the night he spent in jail for refusing to pay a poll tax. The theme is peaceful protest against blindly following unfair governmental laws and regulations. This particular work is part of the inspiration behind a few of the advocates for peace that we know today, such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.
“In literature it is only the wild that attracts us. Dullness is but another name for tameness. It is the uncivilized free and wild thinking in Hamlet and the Iliad, in all the scriptures and mythologies, not learned in the schools, that delights us.”
-from Walking, by Henry David Thoreau
The abolition of slavery was likewise important to Thoreau. He wrote the essay “Slavery In Massachusetts” and the speech “A Plea For Capt. John Brown” both in defense of abolishing slavery, one of the evils of his day.
For a man obsessed with all things nature, he was surprisingly humanitarian.
I picture Thoreau as a bit of an oddball. No wife and kids, no real job, writing about things and issues that didn’t gain acceptance till after his death on May 6th, 1862.
He was different, but he didn’t let that stop him. His differences defined him. Like many authors, his works didn’t become popular until after his death.
He was a quiet, simple man who knew what he believed and stood by it. That quiet, odd man from Massachusetts.