Monday, December 24, 2012

Good Year: The Holiday Letter 2012

It’s late-December and we’re nearly done with Advent (the Christian season of waiting and anticipating the birth of baby Jesus). Normally, I’ve got the Christmas cards in the mail by December 2…and am emptying my mailbox with two hands, in order to corral the overflow of returned greetings by December 10…but this year?  Well, this is the Christmas letter, that almost never was.

But I’m juuuuuust narcissistic enough to feel the need to share my life story each year, so please….bear with me!  ;)  And I hope I hear back from you, as well.  Because despite the constant Facebook posts, blog reading, Linked In updating, twitter feeds, Instagram rolls, and texts…it’s nice to see the photos, read the personal notes, and hear a bit, of your story in return…feeling that heavy cardstock in my hand and wiping the glitter remnants on my face (everyone needs a little sparkle!) are just a bonus!

So….where to begin? 

In July I started a small business (and by “small,” I mean there’s one employee and she’s me!) called Just One Bite, where I produce single serving, microwavable cake and brownie mixes that are mostly gluten-free and void of preservatives.  I started by selling them at farmers markets…but that’s a hard crowd to woo, especially in semi-rural Belton.  So I turned to selling mostly online ( and with the help of friend, who has a growing-in-readership blog and was nice enough to mention me in a couple of posts…I’m actually doing okay!  Of course, when I say “okay” I mean, I’m-actually-making-enough-to-pay-for-the-ingredients, kind of okay!! So, I won’t be quitting my day-job any time soon…but for now, it’s exciting, creative, and fun! 

And speaking of my day job…this has been a good year for me!  Beginning Easter Sunday, I served for four months as a Sabbatical Interim Minister at Countryside Christian Church in Mission, Kansas, and led them through a time of healing and hope.  While it wasn’t always easy, it was enriching and I’m thankful for the opportunity to serve and love and be invited to take part in the spiritual lives of others.  And then, less than a month ago, I was called as the Minister of Discernment (little bit Interim Minister, little bit Senior Minister, little bit Wilderness Guide!) for Cherokee Christian Church in Prairie Village, Kansas.  Having just started, we’re still in the “honeymoon phase”…but I trust, as I lead them in a process of discerning what God is calling them to be and do in the world…that it will be quite a journey!!  And again, I am just so grateful for the chance to do the work I have been called to, with God's people, who are willing to do the hard work, as well!

Brett is still serving faithfully at Raymore Christian Church, here on the Missouri side of things…and he just celebrated FIVE years as their Senior Minister!  This is the longest we’ve ever been in one place, since being married…so it feels like quite a milestone for both of us!  Every now and then, I get ancey-pants, but that goes away when I look at how much work we are putting into our house – and yes, the proverbial “we” may be used here, as overseeing projects, is a VERY stressful job!!  New floors are going down (slowly but surely) as I type this, and refreshed baseboards and a new coat of paint already have the place feeling new again.  Brett is still into sweepstaking, we both served as Docents at the Kansas City Zoo this year, and we really enjoyed a trip to Colorado Springs this past summer. (In fact, we’re dreaming of a little retirement cottage in Manitou Springs, where Brett can become a Pikes Peak train conductor and I can open a little boutique!  Because if there’s one thing Manitou needs more of…it’s boutiques!!)

Brett’s family has had a rough year.  His parents, Dwayne and Glenda, have been in the hospital with one thing or another, 14 times in 12 months, between the two of them!  Neither has had the opportunity to work much, given all of the troubles, but are still employed by WalMart, there in Mason City, Iowa.  They love their church where they are both very active and when the weather is a bit warmer, continue to nurture the garden oasis that is their front yard.  Scott, Emily and the kids are still in Milwaukee and lead the kind of life you’d imagine with two growing, active, and energetic children!  We look forward to seeing the whole family this coming summer, when we gather in Bemidji for a week of outdoor fun (a trip that Brett won, through sweepstaking!).

My family is doing well!  Mom is healthy and cancer free, still working at Bolivar HS as a Biology and Anatomy teacher...and Dad is counting down the days ‘till he can sell his pottery full time and get out from behind the computer and daily grind of the dreaded “office job” once and for all.  He joined me at a local Holiday Craft Fair to sell some of his pottery, with the goal of selling one piece…and ended up selling at least half of what he came with…so there’s certainly a market for his work and his vision…now he just needs to find the time to create!  If you’d like to see some of his work, you can find his blog at

Otherwise, all is well!  And we hope this letter finds things as well, if not better, for you!

As always, you are welcome to our home at any time (just give me an hour or two warning…not that the house isn’t spotless ALL the time…but…..)!  Merry Christmas and may you know more love and laughter in the new year, than you know what to do with!!!

Peace and joy and love to you,

t, b, wyatt, abby, and shuffles

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Joy: An Advent Thought

In eight short days, Jesus will come into the real world.  Not under a beautifully lit manger scene with new hay and a warm bath to welcome him.  But to a dingy barn, with the smell of lanolin and poop to welcome his new nose, while a servant-class young mother and a manual laborer of a father will wrestle with first-time parenthood.  That baby will preach and no one will listen, love and will be chastised.  That baby will speak when others are silent, act when it is not in his best self-interest, and will pray when there are no other words.  That baby will shelter the dead and will comfort the heart-sick, will cry out for the victims, and will weep when any of us are broken.  Is it possible that this is our joy?  Must our joy come from the least of these?  The most broken of these? 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Day 3-10: Sometimes We're Called To Be Starters

So, you know that "25 Day Photo Challenge" I boisterously decided was a good idea in the middle of Advent? 

Here's what I know for sure....

Day 3: Gifts 

Seriously?  On day three?!!!  Who made this list?

Day 4: Tradition

We have no Elf on a Shelf.  We don't go caroling.  We find the mall, sigh inducing.  And unless eating Puppy Chow and watching Hallmark movies can be considered tradition....

Day 5: Santa


Day 6: Stockings

I was going to post a photo of the new tights I bought, which go with this smokin' hot red skirt I found for $9....but that just seemed weird.  And possibly not the "stockings" that the list was referring to.

Day 7: Snow

Um.  Up until today, we have reached 60* or higher since last February.

Day 8: Tree

Now our tree.  That's a beauty.  Photos later, perhaps.

Day 9: Treats

Again.  I would refer you to the Puppy Chow mentioned earlier.  But apparently, we're calling that "tradition" now.

Day 10: Joy

I could say something about joy....but I need to "save" whatever word I can muster, for this coming Sunday's sermon.  (Though let the record state...despite the fairly dismal showing of this list...I know great and abiding joy this time of year.  In ways that I don't sense, during other times of the year. And though I don't have photographic evidence of this abiding joy, it is is real in nearly tangible ways...and it carries me from one winter to the next.)

So.  I'm out.  I should have known better.  Some of us are called to be starters.  And I'm afraid that's me. 

For MM: The Rest of the Story

There are a few things that shouldn't be hanging out in the world, alone. 

Like fried bread...without the cheese.
Or Burt...without Ernie.
Salt and no pepper.
Ketchup without its mustard.

And it was clearly an oversight, to not include the shepherd.  With the sheep. 

So here's the whole set... together at last.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Peace: An Advent Thought

It’s bigger than us, you know.  Peace. 

But it begins with us. 

It begins when we breath in the breath of God and cease the hand waving and the frenzied checklist of expectations and instead, extend our hands in an embrace and trade our checklists, our itemized "my-language," for dialogue grounded in hope, so that it becomes "other-language." 

Peace begins when we can recognize that we have “enough.”  Enough food, enough stuff, enough love, enough faith and in turn, respond when we encounter those who do not know what it means to have enough. 

Peace begins when we recognize the value of another…the value of God’s creation, made in the image of God…and respond with fewer frowns and eye rolls or snapped fingers or harsh words and instead with compassion and encouragement and love as we work – as we have been called to – as instruments of peace.

It's certainly easier said than done...maybe even especially during this time of year.  When breathing in the breath of God reminds us of how tight our chest is, how heavy the heart can be, and how high our shoulders have ascended. 

And so I pray this day, that peace might be yours...that it might fill the heart in ways that are consuming, so that you might share it with another, in ways that are life-giving.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Day 2: Decorations

I'm a day or two late, because despite the longer-than-normal time between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, I'm just now starting to get the actual decorations put out and around the house.  We go a little Christmas-Crazy when it comes to decorations. 

I'm probably making up for my parents, who last put up a tree, in '02. 

It's hard to choose just one here are a few of my favorites, but by no means, is it exhaustive.

I wish you could see how long this snowman's arms are!
They make me smile each and every time I walk
by them!  And...he's sparkly and handsome.  He's
like the Brad Pitt of snowpeople. And he's all mine!

This is the sheep-half of the "and the shepherds kept watch over
their sheep" duo.  As made and finished by my husband, Brett. 
We were living in the armpit of Texas at the time, purely
miserable, and frighteningly poor...and we'd given each other a
limit of $10 for Christmas gifts that year.  I think I
bought him a flashlight.  But he made me this nativity
set out of scrap wood that he'd found in the backyard when
we'd moved sits at the fireplace and each year,
no matter where we're at in our relationship or how distressed
I am, I remember that moment and how grateful
I am that he's my husband.

I never knew my Grandfather - my Mother's dad - but
the story goes that when my Grandma and my Grandfather
bought their first television, he insisted on having this
duck-lamp to go on top of the t.v. (apparently, this was a
trend) or it was "no sale."  So each year, The Duck gets
dressed up with a bow and a Santa hat...
and even though I don't have
any idea who my Grandfather was or what his laugh sounded
like or how he smelled or what he was passionate about...
I feel a little connected to him - and my Grandma - each
time I see that duck (who now, lives next to our television).

These can you not smile, when you see these guys!
We've had them for years, and I guess I used to always figure
if we ever had a kid, we'd hide them around the house
"Elf on a Shelf" style...but now they just sit there and beckon
joy with their sweet smiles and lazy, swinging legs.  Much
like, I suppose, how I'd like to beckon the holidays.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Hope: An Advent Thought


It's such an easy word to say.

"I hope Santa can find me!"
"I hope I get a car!" 
"I hope I get asked to the prom." 
"I hope I don't get caught." 
"I hope I can find a job." 
"I hope you'll love me even when it's not easy." 
"I hope she doesn't die before I get the chance to say goodbye."
"I hope we have macaroni and cheese."
"I hope we can pay for it."
"I hope you know how much I love you."
"I hope..."

I say it a dozen times a day. So much so, that maybe it loses its meaning? 

But during this season of Advent, that word...hope...takes on a different, special, nearly tangible meaning.  It's as if it might sprout wings any minute and show the world how to fly.  It bids us to take deep breaths and yearn for the unexpected.  It calls us to Emmanuel - God With Us - and in that calling, expects us to be the embodiment of the holy, for another.  It ceases our weeping and gives us pause in our pain, so that we might touch wonder, if only for a brief second.


It's a big task.  A hefty word.  A delicate scent.  An overwhelming gift.

I hope you sense it this day....

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Day 1: Light

Doing This: Since I've Got Nothing Else To Do

So, Pinterest has beckoned and I've decided to do this...

Yeah.  Yeah.  It's a challenge from 2011, but I've never been super hip.  So let's call this "typical" and move on.

I think it might be fun and give me a little something to do.  Otherwise.  Just bored to tears over here.  Tears, I tell ya.

Excuse me while I go change my shirt.  It seems I have broken out into a cold Advent sweat....

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Warning: Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread

I had a big day planned. You know the type where you feel important and busy and like you've got a handle on everything. 

I dressed in my finest "I own life" outfit, spent a little more time than usual on my hair and makeup, redid my neglected nail polish, gathered the days needs and headed out to my car....only to turn the ignition and hear the tell-tell click of a dead car. 

I no longer feel important or busy or like I've got a handle on ANYTHING.  Lesson learned universe.  Lesson freakin' learned.

And the thing that sort of burns my hide is....I was warned. I got my oil changed yesterday and the technician had to jump start my car in order to pull it out of the garage. 

"Oh that's a fluke," I say.  I own life.

"But this indicates to me that you need a new battery, ma'am." I'm too busy.

"My car won't do that again," I trust.  I'm important.

It sort of serves me right.

So, just know.  You've been warned.  Here's a nearly perfect, can't-tell-it's-gluten-free, Gluten Free Pumpkin and Walnut Bread.  Do with that information, what you will.

What you'll need:

2 Cups gluten-free all-purpose baking flour; I use a special order mix called Carol's All Purpose Pastry Blend but you can always make your own and I really like this little tutorial if you're new to that sort of thing.
1/2 Cup almond meal or almond flour
1/4 Cup rice flour*
1 Teaspoon baking soda
1/4 Teaspoon salt
4 Large eggs
2-2 1/2 Cups pumpkin puree; *a can of Libby's pumpkin puree is 2 cups and if you use Libby's (or any canned pumpkin) do not add the rice flour...if you make your own puree, you can get away with a little more pumpkin in your bread, but because it's inevitably a little more "wet," you'll want to add the rice flour.
3/4 Cup sugar
1/3 Cup canola oil
1 Teaspoon vanilla
1/2-3/4 Cup chopped walnuts; I always tend to go heavy on the nuts (ba-dum-ching).

What to do:
Combine the flour, baking soda, salt and set aside. In your stand mixer, (or it you're old school, with the ol' beater hand mixer) whisk the eggs, pumpkin, sugar, oil and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Add walnuts and fold in.

Fill two loaf pans coated with cooking spray, evenly. Sprinkle the tops with a little brown sugar if you like a little crunch (I love the crunch, which you don't really get otherwise, with gluten free baking). Bake at 350° for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans. And enjoy.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Needing The Silence: Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie Spiced Cake

Today is Monday...and for most people, that means returning to the grindstone, Facebook status updates that are summed up by a resounding "ugh," and larger than normal pots of coffee.  For me, it means silence. Sweet, blessed silence.

I'm an introvert.  I'm the kind of introvert that has risked a bladder infection (or two) rather than make my way to the bathroom, because I know a dozen or so church ladies are hanging out in the hallway. 

Small talk is the silent killer.

Which reminds me of one of my favorite jokes: How many introverts does it take to change a light bulb?  None.  Having the light on, just invites people to come into the room to visit. (Been there!)

But of course, in my line of work, I can turn the extrovert on when I need to.  And my Father and I did just that on Saturday when we participated in a local craft fair...he, selling his Sleeping Village Pottery creations... and I, selling my Just One Bite bits!

It was exciting...affirming...exhausting... and though neither of us will be paying off the house any time soon with what we made in sales...we DID make back the entrance fee.  So.  There's that.  (You know, aim for the stars, I always say.)

And as a thank you to those who came out (as if ANY of you might ever find this blog?!) and a better-late-than-never kick off to pumpkin season, here's Just One Bite's Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie Spiced Cake, for one!

What you'll need:
2 Tablespoons almond flour (also known as almond meal)
1 Tablespoon rice flour (white or brown)
1/4 Teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 Teaspoon allspice
1 Teaspoon brown sugar
1/4 Teaspoon baking powder
dash of salt
3 teaspoons water
2 teaspoons oil (coconut or veggie)
2 Teaspoons pumpkin puree (or sour cream)
dash of vanilla

What to do:
Ideally, you mix the dry stuff together first, then add the wet ingredients.  But I'm not expecting someone that is making a cake in the microwave, to care too much about ideals.  So just mix it all together.  Then pop it in the microwave for about a minute.  Microwaves vary, so I'd keep an eye on it...but other than that...just enjoy! 

And take a bit of silence when you can....

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Little Preachy: Bathsheba

On Sunday, I'll be supply preaching for this little church up North.

Normally, when I supply preach, I prepare a fairly innocuous know, wherein I'll mention repeatedly, the words love, peace, and hope.  I'll speak to Jesus' command to serve and be served and at the end of the morning, I'll pray... pray that each might be surprised by God, emboldened by God , and filled by God that week.  I do this, mostly because (generally), I don't know the congregation -- I don't know their story or their joys or their sorrows or their I figure it never hurts to hear that God is present and that God loves you.  But I also do this, because it's an easy message to bring.  Let's face's a rare day, when someone gets up and walks out, because you said, "no matter what, God loves you."

But, I thought maybe I'd mix it up a bit.  So, this Sunday, I'll be preaching from 2 Samuel 11:1-15.  I'll give you a moment to look it up.   

By Ernst Fuchs; I am struck deeply,
by David's tear as he kisses Bathsheba.

I figure if you can't talk about lust, adultery, sex, manipulation, corruption, trickery, pregnancy, and murder from the pulpit....what CAN you talk about?  Amiright?  

Besides.  The "love of God" is getting boring.  

(Please, oh please, note the sarcasm.)

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Athlete: In Training

Every now and then, my Mother will get it in her head, that she'd like to compete in some sort of sporting event... and believing me to be an athlete, she will often drag me along.

A few days ago, she announced that she'd like to do a "team triathlon" with my Aunt, who would round out our trusty trio.

My Aunt has a pool, so it made sense that she would and could, take care of the swimming portion of our triathlon.  So that left running and cycling up for grabs.  The conversation, via text, went something like this:

Mom: Do you want to run or bike?
Me: I really like to sit.  I'm choosing the bike.
Mom: Do you know how long each leg is?

Well, do you?  I do.  And it's not pretty.  The swimming leg, is one mile.  We figured it out, and my Aunt will have to swim the length of her pool, 97 times.  I say, good luck with that.  The running portion is a 10k... my Mother has done a few 5k's in her life and I think she can probably handle this with ease, given some training and time. The cycling... well, the cycling is TWENTY FIVE miles.  So...

Today, I pulled my bike out for the first time in seven years. 

I rode one mile.

In seven minutes.

And very nearly threw up.

This should go well.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A New Venture: Just One Bite

So, "way back when," I mentioned that I had a new idea that didn't involve pumpkin but promised to require loads of sugar and moderate amounts of freaking out. 

The freak out stage is nearly complete... and the sugar is here to stay.  I give you my latest venture:

Tonight I take my product to the greater public...starting with the Belton Farmers Market. Yep.  I'm hittin' the big time. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Dry Bones: Blueberry Pie Filling

I'm serving a church right now, that's about to suck me dry.  I mean really, bone chillingly, joint achingly, dry.

There's a saying, that travels around pretty frequently with us church-y types, that laughingly says: "The church would be perfect, if it weren't for the people."

Up until these past few months... such a statement always made me sort-a sad, in that "what a shame that some poor soul came up with that sentence, no doubt, as a result of their circumstances" sort of way.  But now I get it.

The people...
...are tiresome.
...and angry.
...and hateful.
...and passive aggressive.
...and manipulative.
...and sick.
...and needy.
...and whiny.
...and they don't wear white until after Memorial Day.  (Which means, by the way, that I was not to be trusted for the first two my white pants and all, on *gasp* May 3rd.)

And I drag my dry bones home...waiting for the next ball to drop...knowing that THIS is why clergy have a disproportionately high percentage of heart attacks. 

Then I sink into my lounge chair, eating several servings of ice cream...okay, so maybe THIS is why clergy have a disproportionately high percentage of heart satiate my aching soul and I wonder why I can go months without serving the church -- longing, gut wrenching months -- but when I get the chance, when I get the call... hurts.

And then I remind myself that...

the people...
...are human.

And these humans, especially in this particular church... have the decked stacked against them.

Yet despite that stacked deck and their distaste for white capris even when the thermometer reads 91*...God's Spirit emerges...albeit, sometimes, begrudgingly or hesitantly or slowly... and you find...

Though some are tiresome... there are those who will lift them up.
Though some are angry... there are those with a good word.
Though some are hateful... there are those who offer forgiveness.
Though some are passive aggressive... there are those who will call them on it.
Though some are manipulative... there are those who are not.
Though some are sick... there are those who will visit them.
Though some are needy... there are those who will provide.
Though some are whiny... there are those who will sing.

And I suppose, if I were to be honest, it would be just as appropriate to say, "the church would be perfect, if it weren't for the clergy."

...who is so very human.  Bones and all.

I trust this moment of humanness will pass for this church... and it will not be so hard, so lonesome, so aching.  But I also trust that the humanness will remain for this church... and a world will be reminded that even dry bones can dance.

And when that day comes, I will need something besides all that ice cream I'm eating... so, I made Blueberry Pie Filling.

What you'll need:

10 Cups blueberries, washed
½ Cup water
1 ½ Cups sugar
6 Tablespoons cornstarch
5 Tablespoons bottled lemon juice
2 Quart sized canning jars

Wash the blueberries and set aside. Sterilize 2, one quart jars along with the lids in boiling water or in a dishwasher run without soap.

In a large stockpot bring the water, sugar, corn starch and lemon juice to a boil.  Pour in the blueberries and bring the mixture back to a boil, stirring continuously for about 5 minutes while the berries release their juices and the mixture thickens, becoming blue and glossy.

Set a funnel over a quart jar and ladle in the blueberry mixture, leaving a 1″ headspace. Repeat with second quart jar. Place the sterilized lids on the jar and seal them with the rims, only tightening the ring as much as you can with two fingers.

Place the jars in a pot of boiling water standing upright. Make sure the water covers the tops of the jars. Boil for 30 minutes, starting the timer when the water has returned to a boil.

Remove jars and place in a cool, dry place on a kitchen towel. Allow to cool overnight. Store jars for the long term in a cool, dry place until using.


I had fully planned to store and save this pie filling...for that rainy day or for when bones were once again alive...but unfortunately, the lids didn't seal and the jars overflowed.  So for now, they sit in my fridge...waiting.  Waiting for white pants and soothed souls...

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Soothing: Pumpkin Frozen Yogurt

We're all adults here, right? I mean, if I whispered the acronym "OBGYN" in your ear, you wouldn't giggle and turn red in the face? You wouldn't snort coffee out of your nose and politely excuse yourself to "teh-hee" in private?

Well, if you can handle it, carry on. But seriously, if you absolutely can't read through those five letters without snickering... and trust me, I'd'll want to kindly turn to the next blog.

Because today, I had my wellness exam with my... well, you know.

Mind you, the last time I had the lovely experience of visiting my friendly acronym, it was 2007. So, I was a little overdue. And since I only shave my legs every five years or so, it seemed to coincide perfectly. (I think I've mentioned it before... but it bears repeating. Brett is a lucky, lucky dude.)

Which is where we run into troubles. Shaving my legs.

Apparently, I pulled out a razor that had been sitting in my drawer since 1983 and decided it was the best possible tool to tackle the job at hand.

Running low on body wash - aka. shaving cream for the lazy sorts - I decided to use my face wash. I know... that doesn't seem quite right... but when you buy your face wash from Sam's Club, and literally have a GALLON of it sitting under your sink... you feel as if you can use it freely and unabashedly.

I was all lathered up and getting ready to start the taming process...when my leg started to tingle a bit.

Ignore it, Trish. That just means "it's working." Huh? What? Yeah. Both "huh?" AND "what?" would have been good questions to ask at the time. Carry on...

The next series of events, went something like this: Leg one done.... peek out of the shower... see I have exactly 15 minutes to finish, get dressed and head out the door... frantically get second leg done... hop out of shower... admonish self for hopping... realize I have nothing more than a washcloth to dry off with... make note to curse husband and his towel stealing ways... grab for the bottt............................... YEEEEOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!

So. You know the tracks that Tonka Trucks make in a sand box? Well, that's pretty much what the inside of my thighs look like... and the backs of my legs... and my bikini line.... and my underarms......

As it turns out, my face wash was 18% Salicylic Acid. Yep. Did. Not. Know. That. Coupled with a somewhat suspect razor, time constraints, and shall we say, tender skin.... well. It just didn't end well. Any attempt to impress by new doctor with my stunning good looks and impeccable grooming techniques... failed miserably.

And if you thought I couldn't make the tie between my OBGYN visit and fro-yo.... you were mistaken. Well, that.... and there's a chance that you don't know me at all.

Because we all need something soothing at the end of the day.... here's Pumpkin Frozen Yogurt. Which tastes like Pumpkin Cheesecake. Which can't be a bad thing when you decide to get gussied up for your OBGYN and end up instead, lighting the lower half of your body on fire. And which I hope you enjoy.

What you'll need for Pumpkin Frozen Yogurt:
4 Cups homemade yogurt
1 Cup pumpkin puree
1/3 Cup plus one teaspoon maple syrup
1/3 Cup plus one tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 Teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 Cup toasted pecans (I go heavy on the nuts. No comments, please.)

In case you wonder how to toast a pecan... heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread chopped pecans over a foil lined baking sheet. Bake pecans for 3 minutes. Give 'em a stir. Bake for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, or until the pecans begin to give off a sweet scent. Really watch them though...they tend get excited and burn themselves. Allow to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients (minus the pecans) and mix well. Use a whisk to break up the lumps in the mixture that come because of the homemade texture of the yogurt. Pour the soupy mixture into a prepared ice cream maker and give it a whirl for 30-40 minutes. At the conclusion of the cycle, thrown in the toasted pecans and let it go for another spin or two. Freeze for at least 3-4 hours prior to serving.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Famous: Depp vs. Thirdstory(ies)

So several years ago... when Pirates of the Caribbean wasn't an overworked, money making franchise, and simply one single, awesome movie... Brett and I and a whole gaggle of youth from the church we served, went to a red carpet event for the flick.  We hadn't actually intended to be at the red carpet... we really just wanted to go to Disney Land...but sometimes, Brett's incessant need to be as UNinformed as possible, has a few benefits.  Like showing up to meet Mickey Mouse, and instead, meeting Johnny Depp.  Yep.  You read that correctly.  I met Johnny Depp.

Other "stars" were there too... Danny Bonaduce, Teri Hatcher, Rachel Hunter, Jane Seymour, Lea Thompson, John Stamos... Brett's favorite, Kenny G... and the man who's inspired a thousand memes... David Hasselhoff.  And of course, Keira Knightly is just as beautiful in person as she is in movies.  Orlando Bloom is pretty beautiful too. 

But the clouds parted when Johnny came toward us and stopped, not even two steps from where we stood.   Quivering with excitement behind the burlap rope meant to separate the famous and the not famous, while holding my husbands hand, I jumped up and down, and yelled as loud as humanly possible, "Oh my gosh Johnny!!  I love you!  I love you so much!!"

Then I composed myself, gracefully readjusted my Mickey Mouse ears, and gave a little shout out to God for the husband who loves me...despite me.

And today... I'd like to share a similar sentiment about a friend... who's walking her own little red carpet as we speak: she has been nominated for a Homie.  A what?  Yeah.  A Homie (via Apartment Therapy).

I know.  It's overwhelming for her as well. 

Maybe not Johnny Depp overwhelming... but we can't all have that sultry, bad boy look that makes a gal swoon.

But I'd like to see her win.  Mainly for the big bucks she'll make.  Fifty big ones in the ol' pocket.  But also because sometimes you write and you write... and really, you write for yourself... but I don't know of a single person, who doesn't like to know that what they've written, has mattered (yes... that would be the preacher in me, talking).  So let her know that it's mattered.  That the hours in front of the computer, the countless photos that have been taken and uploaded, the rewrites and the spell checks, the heartfelt words... that they all mattered.  Or at the very least, made you smile or think or gave you an idea....

You can vote for her blog here or here, after checking it out of course, here.

"Oh my gosh ThirdStory(ies)!!  I love you! I love you so much!!"

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Seriously: Pumpkin Yogurt

For reals.  I made yogurt.  In my crockpot.  Like the pilgrims did.

It's sort of ridiculous... but I blame it on my Mother.  Like any good, grown woman, I still like to blame her for a number of things...

But Christmas shopping for my Mother, is like going to the dentist... the only way to get to the dentist though, is to trek barefoot through the Everglades, sidestepping alligators and predatory birds, and subsisting on nothing more than swamp water and mud.  And then once you finally make it to the dentist... despite all the anticipation and anxiety and remorse you feel for not flossing regularly... your dentist tells you that he was kidding and doesn't really have time for the procedure he scheduled you for......

Which is to say... it's tough. In fact, I'm still sort-a recovering from it, even one month later.

Thing is... she is not a woman of many wants... but she is a woman, who makes her own yogurt.

So THIS Christmas...well, let's just say, I thought I'd struck gold.  I was going to buy her an Automatic Yogurt Maker from Williams Sonoma.  I'll give you a moment to ooohhh and ahhhhh. (Photo credited to Williams Sonoma.)

I read every review, searched every crevice of the Internet, checked out the Consumer Reports, talked it over with my husband... and at the end of the day, decided that this yogurt maker would make a VERY nice gift. 

For me.

Because let's face it... any appliance that has only one, single use... is not for my Mother.  She got rid of her couch several years ago, and replaced it with a treadmill, 'cause the couch was "just sitting there." 

So... it sort of got me thinking about making my own yogurt.  I won't get into the specifics, but I've been quite ill, off and on, since before Thanksgiving, and for a bit, I was subsisting on Greek Yogurt and blueberries... and figured it can't be THAT hard to make, right?  Right!

What you'll need (for the yogurt portion of the recipe):

8 Cups milk (I used skim!, organic)
1/2 Cup yogurt (From the store... apparently, you only have to do this once, and from here on out, you can use your own "starter." I used Organic Yogurt, but you don't have to copy me for evvvverything.  Go ahead.  Be you're own person.  Use Yoplait, you crazy cat!)

Um. Yeah, that's it.  Put the milk in the crockpot and heat it on low for 2 1/2 hours.  Unplug the crockpot but leave the cover on, and let it sit for 3 hours.  When 3 hours have passed, scoop out 2 cups of the warmish milk and put it in a bowl. Whisk in 1/2 cup of store-bought live/active culture yogurt. Then dump it all back into the crockpot. Stir to combine.

Put the lid back on your crockpot. Keep it unplugged and wrap a heavy bath or beach towel all the way around the crockpot for insulation. Go to bed or let it sit for 8 hours.

This is my crockpot, ready for a day at the beach:

(Silly crockpot.  Doesn't know it's January.)

The next day, you can let it rest in a coffee filter to thicken up a bit (I didn't do this, as I seriously lack patience when it comes to food)... but that's it.

So.... I took it up a notch and as the purveyor of things pumpkin and decided to make pumpkin yogurt.

What you'll need (to make it pumpkin-y):

1/2 Cup pumpkin puree
1 Teaspoon sugar or maple syrup (optional...the maple granola makes up for the sugar need)
1 Teaspoon cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg and allspice
1/4 Cup granola
1 Cup homemade yogurt (like the pilgrims did)

Mix it all together...

So, that settles it.  Mom is getting pumpkin yogurt every Christmas, from here on out. 

Always good to plan ahead.