Living, Learning & Loving La Vida Nueva

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Life Update....

I can hardly believe that our long awaited family vacation is coming to a close.  Ryan left last night; Brad, Hannah and Lacy left this morning.  Tomorrow morning, we all drive out to head home.  It has been a week to cherish, that is for sure - our first family vacation since 2004.  That means this is the first vacation Maggie, Jonathan, Kyle, Caleb and Hannah have ever spent with us.  It is also the first true vacation Jonathan and I have spent together since our honeymoon.  We haven't driven down our mountain to do much of anything and have daily enjoyed gazing out the windows at the autumn leaves, hanging out in the hot tub, playing games, eating yummy food and roasting s'mores on the outdoor fireplace.  Having twelve people all together in one big house is always a riot!

Our only family adventure to pick apples....Only apple picking was closed so we just bought some other people had picked.

Our interview with AIM went well last weekend and we are looking forward to more correspondence with them.  We were encouraged to hear their thoughts regarding us.  We did find out, however, that in order to be placed with AIM, I will have to take a number of online Bible courses.  While I am excited about learning more biblically through these classes, that leaves us with some decisions to make regarding our family and finances.  I am not sure how I'm going to manage juggling my daily routine along with GA coordinating and nine Bible courses. Working at my most diligent pace, I expect it will take me at least a year to finish all nine courses.  I am not discouraged because I truly believe that this time we are spending here is greatly beneficial to our marriage, walk with the Lord, investment in Kyle's life and learning to be his parents.  Remaining stateside for another year or more, however, leaves us in a difficult situation financially.  Please pray with us as we navigate the situation the Lord has us in.

Mothering Kyle is a greater joy than I ever imagined.  It is hard to trust God to take care of him when I can't see how it's all going to work out.  I am thankful he doesn't have to worry about any of the burdens of this world yet.  I will happily carry them for him.  He seems blissfully happy and worry-free, don't you think?

Pure love.


Thursday, October 20, 2011


Just so you don't think that this whole blog revolves around my cooking, sewing and mothering, I thought I'd post a little about my feelings regarding Kenya.  We have contacted Africa Inland Mission and have filled out preliminary applications.  This weekend we have our first interview with a couple in the Atlanta area.  We are looking forward to meeting this couple we've been in contact with for weeks now.

I am thrilled and terrified all at once.  Thrilled because I am so ready to know what the Lord has in store for us.  Thrilled because I believe so strongly in the ministry of training national pastors to do the work of the ministry in their own tribes and speaking their heart languages.  Giddy because I see how excited my dear husband is at this prospect.  Excited because I see it as a challenge.  Yet, I'm terrified because it seems so unknown.  Scared because it is so far away.  Nervous because the culture and way of life is so vastly different from my own.  Apprehensive because I don't want to go through the whole process of joining an organization only to be turned down again.

At times I sit and rock my baby and think about what life would be like raising our children on the savanna.  I wonder about what kind of creepy crawling critters Kyle could come running into my house with if he has Africa for a backyard.  Would he like living there?  Would he ever know any different?

Will you pray with us that God would swing these doors wide open?  Ask that He would allow us to to be accepted by AIM.  Pray that God will calm my fears and increase my joy as I think and dream of moving to Kenya.  Call on the Lord on our behalf that He would answer our prayers and lead us to serve Him at Moffat Bible College in Kijabe, Kenya.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Adorable Aprons

There is a giant hole in my domestic capabilities where sewing should go.  Having a mother who can sew with her eyes closed and one hand tied behind her back makes me even more ashamed to say that I know very, very little on the subject.  I am able, with much concentration, to sew a wobbly straight seam.  If I push the pedal too hard, I inevitably get way off course.  If the thread comes loose, I can't re-thread the machine, despite my mama's many attempts to demonstrate it for me.  Looking at a sewing machine, to me, is like sitting in an airplane cockpit.  All the lights and buttons mean absolutely nothing to me.  For these reasons, I have always avoided sewing like a plague.

Maybe it's because I no longer want to have a gaping hole in my homemaker proficiency or possibly because I don't have anything better to do (wait, that can't be it because I have so much on my mind I have to make lists to remind me to read my lists) but, I feel like learning to sew.  Learning to sew.  Not just knowing how to push the pedal.  Learning how to sit down and create a work of art with fabric and thread.  Mainly my motivation is that I want to know how to make itsy-bitsy baby clothes for all my itsy-bitsy babies.  But, I also want to know how to make cute little crafts like this one.......

(Apron I made for sweet SIL to go in her first kitchen)

I saw the pattern for these aprons on this blog I follow loosely (mostly because I like to look at her photos).   Intrigued by the simplicity of the idea, I decided I'd make one for my kitchen soap.  What's the best thing about sewing with a seasoned seamstress?  Fabric scraps are free to whomever can make good use of them.  I dug through my mama's stash and found a fabric which would look good in my (wallpapered, ugh) kitchen.  Have you noticed that wallpaper?  I hate it.  It terribly constricts my home decorating juices from flowing freely.  I have a whole kitchen beautification plan in the storage closet of my mind for when I finally get a place of my own.... Although, I'm not counting on one this side of glory.  Nevertheless, above mentioned and detested wallpaper came with the apartment deal, so I live it with it.

Where was I?

....I found a piece of fabric I liked for my kitchen.  In the process, I found one which I thought someone very dear to me would like, too.  Thinking it might put a smile on her face,  I got busy to work making hers first.

Once completed, I packed it up and shipped it off to my favorite (and only) mother in law.

I am a proud seamstress.

I can hardly refer to myself as a seamstress, but I'll take this moment to bask in the wonder of those words together in a sentence. 


Now I want to make an apron for everyone I know.  Don't be disappointed if you think you fall into the "everyone I know" category (which really means anyone I would leave my baby with, ask to clean my toilets, or call if I had a flat [I had one the other day and it was not fun]) and don't receive one.  Maybe you'll get one for your birthday.  Or Christmas.  Or maybe I'll make a couple more and run out of seamstress steam.

(For my sewing instructor)


We interrupt your reading to bring you this announcement:

Kyle is still cute.

Can we say, "Johnny Jump Up fail?"

Back to working on mine, complete with lap dog assistance.

I'm still running with my enthusiasm, and I'm going to make another....


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Lunch in the Mess Hall

This past weekend my extended family enjoyed our annual themed reunion.  We're weird; we know it and claim it.  Personally, I love it and delight in the uniqueness of our tradition!

The theme this year was Boot Camp and we did everything military you can think of:  food, costumes, games, activities, obstacle course, face painting and crafts to name a few.

(In case you didn't believe me about the costumes....)

On Saturday afternoon, we enjoyed a picnic lunch outside eating roasted torpedos (hotdogs), battlechips.... You get the picture.  Kyle had a grand time eating his lunch on an old quilt in the grass.

Every time I give him a bite, I open my mouth, too.  I know I do it, but can't stop unless I concentrate really hard, which I obviously wasn't when Jonathan snapped this photo.


What is that mush he's eating?

Bananas, pears, plums, peaches, green beans, squash, carrots and sweet potatoes.


Well, I bagged his fruits and veggies in separate baggies for the trip up there, but the cubes melted and mingled so...... I figured...... What can it hurt? I mixed them all together and he didn't seem to mind a bit.

He loves food, much like his daddy.... And Mama.  And we love him, in case you haven't noticed.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Maple Carrot Cupcakes

I made this recipe for the first time not long after Jonathan and I were married.  My mom, oldest brother, youngest sister and dear friend all came to visit us while we were still living in Illinois.  They were our first house guests and we so enjoyed their stay!  Hope they did, too, despite the smoke filled apartment we lived in.  That's funny, we still live in a smoke filled apartment..... Ugh.  Anyways.....

(This photo was taken while Brad and Jono golfed, but you already know what they look like....)

 Needing something sweet to top off a delicious dinner, I found this recipe nestled in the back of the cookbook my grandmother gave me before our wedding.  It caught my eye because it sounded so fall-ish and I love fall.  Did you know that?  Speaking of that cookbook, Best of Country Cooking, it boasts a recipe from my lovely Grandmama and I want to give it a try.  The only reason I haven't already made it is because it makes a lot.  Since, in my house, there are only two of us "people food" eaters, as Caleb calls it (I guess Kyle doesn't count as a person yet in his mind), I tend to look for recipes which make four to six servings.  But, I've decided that I can make it for my whole family and certainly there are plenty of mouths to feed over there.  So, be on the look out for her famous lasagna.  Anyways, these cupcakes ought to go in the "must try" section of your recipe card box.  Jot it down and enjoy!

So, roll up your sleeves, open your kitchen window, light your favorite candle and get started.

Into my blue bowl go the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  Give those a good whirl around and set them aside.

All the dry components, many thanks to my favorite store, Aldi.

The wet ingredients go into a separate bowl and get a good whisk.  Then, gently combine the powders and liquid together. 

Grating carrots is hard work.  A great arm workout, no doubt.  Well, right arm work out.  One of the many times I've wished I was ambidextrous.  After this bout with my wimpy flat grater, I will be investing in one of those nifty box graters.  While I have carrot pieces all over my kitchen, I still managed to grate three cups of those orange shreds.  Ouch.

Figuring I'd make some yummy baby food for my yummy baby, I bagged the carrot stubs because I didn't want to end up with stubs for fingers.

Fold the carrots into the batter and spoon into greased or paper lined tins.  I found these fabulously fall liners at Hobby Lobby the other day for cheap and have been so excited to use them.

Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350* until a tooth pick (or match stick, as that's all I had) comes out clean.  Let them cool before icing.

Maple Carrot Cupcakes:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, combine first six ingredients.


4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 cups grated carrots (about 6 medium)

In another bowl, beat eggs, oil and syrup.  Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.  Fold in carrots.  Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire rack.  

Ice cooled cupcakes with frosting, sprinkle with nuts if desired (and who in their right mind doesn't desire?)

Yield: 1 1/2 - 2 dozen

"Icing, you say?"  Yes, icing.  And a wonderfully sweet, creamy, rich and thick icing at that.  This recipe makes a lot.  I ended up going back over nearly all the cupcakes with more icing so I could use it all up and not be forced to eat some off the spoon...... So, yeah, I just had a lick.  And Jonathan, too.  Of course, we couldn't leave Kyle out.

Wonderfully sweet, creamy, rich and thick icing:

8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup maple syrup
chopped nuts

See here they are softening in the sun on my window sill because I forgot to set them out ahead of time.

Beat until smooth.  After I buy a box grater, I'm going to save up for a hand-held mixer.  My upper arm has had way too much of a work out for one day.

Lather those babies up and sprinkle with chopped nuts.  My chopped nuts turned out being a botched batch of candied pecans I made the other day.  I have finally found a recipe which comes out great every time, but these weren't them - perfect for cupcake topping, though, as they were already toasted in butter and brown sugar.  No, this recipe is not low-cal.  No, I do not believe in doing anything low-cal.

Somewhere in there I whipped up this banana bread....... Give it a try, too, why don't ya?

Back to baby cuteness.....


Monday, October 10, 2011

Crinkle Cookies

Realizing I didn't have any chocolate in the house (a tragedy which must soon be rectified), I turned to this favorite cookie for an afternoon snack.  Ginger Crinkles are something I remember from throughout my childhood (not that it has been that long ago), especially around Christmas.  I realize we aren't exactly on Christmas' doorstep just yet, but I am excited about this cooler weather, I wanted something to remind me that it is, in fact, on its way.

Since my mama already beat me to blogging this recipe, I won't bother to type out the specifics.  I will, however, share a few photos with you to get you lickin' your chops and convince you to get in the kitchen and make these!

Mix together wet ingredients in your most fall-ish bowl.  This one I purchased yesterday at Dollar General and it makes my heart oh so happy to use it.

Pause to adore your best kitchen help.

Next, mix together dry ingredients.  When those are done mingling, you can add them to the liquid.

Roll little dough balls in sugar and line 'em up to go in the oven, which you preheated to 350 degrees.

...Kitchen help eventually lost interest in his feet, so he went to play with Dad instead...

Wait ten minutos while cookies bake and they'll be perfectly crinkled when they come out, begging you to eat one.  So, eat one....

Or two....

Happy baking!