These are so rich and horribly delicious, I can only justify making them once a year. This is a plan-ahead recipe as it has to cool and chill twice. I've made it with freshly milled spelt flour instead of all-purpose and rapadura instead of sugar in the cake layer and my family didn't notice the difference. It could be because they're already used to the taste and texture of those ingredients, but it can be done. :)
Mint Fudge Brownies
1 C flour
1 C sugar
1/2 C butter, softened
1 1/2 C (16 oz.) chocolate syrup
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 13x9x2-in. pan. In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, butter, eggs, & syrup; beat until smooth. Pour into prepared pan, bake 25-30 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched. Cool completely in pan. Spread mint cream center on cake; cover & chill. Pour chocolate topping over chilled dessert. Cover. Chill at least 1 hour before serving.
Mint Cream Center
2 C powdered sugar
1/2 C butter
1 Tablespoon water
3/4 teaspoon mint extract
3 drops green food color (Which I DON'T do. No artificial substances in my food, thankyouverymuch.)
In a small bowl, combine all ingredients; beat until smooth.
6 Tablespoons butter
1 C chocolate chips
In a small saucepan over very low heat, melt butter & chocolate chips. Remove from heat. Stir until smooth.
When I was trimming some dead branches off my blueberry bush, I thought they might make a fun, trees-in-the-snow, wintery type of decoration. Then I saw a twitter post by MamaRissa where she decorated branches with snowflakes in a mason jar. Perfect! I learned how to cut snowflakes, stuffed some batting down a jar, and adorned the old, dead blueberry stems. I thought about going with a colored ribbon, but liked the monotoned simplicity. You can't see from the picture, but the ribbon has glittery white snowflakes on it. I'm taking this to a party as a hostess gift. So fun, cheap, and easy!
Random.org has chosen a winner for my Coconut Oil Giveaway! It was comment number seventeen who is none other than my old friend, Camille over at Amidst The Peace and Chaos! Congrats!!! Camille, if you can email me your address, I'll send it out stat. :) Thanks to all who participated in my first giveaway. That was fun! I hope to do many more giveaways, promoting products I use to aid in the health and well-being of our family and that can be enjoyed by you and yours.
Do you realize how great it is to enter a contest on a blog? Well, in case you don't, let me tell you. First of all, if you are reading a blog, you probably like their content. If you like their content, chances are, you'll like their giveaways. Also, odds are way more in your favor to win, as most blog contests don't have thousands of entries like other giveaways. And... it's just fun! My friend Rissa is giving away a very groovy DVD/CD combo by Chicks n' Chickens! I absolutely love the idea of exercising while wearing my babe! Mommies have to multitask, even when it comes to working out our bodies. Baby is happy. Mommy is happy. It’s a win-win! I also love playing mood-nourishing music throughout the house all day. It just enhances the home atmosphere. Well done, Chicks & Chickens! Thanks for encouraging a holistically healthy lifestyle for parents and babies alike! So go to Mamarissa and enter! Now! Because it ends Saturday, November 14th, 2009. Even if you don't have a baby, it'd be a great Christmas present for that mama you know and love. :) Also, don't forget to enter my giveaway to win a 32-oz. bottle of organic, raw virgin coconut oil. A $37 value! It ends Monday, November 16th, 2009 so hurry!
Excessive spurts of giddiness have been popping up from my insides (ew?) about doing my very fist giveaway. Maybe it's because I get to partner with a company recommended by Jordan Rubin of "The Maker's Diet" that I've been happily buying from for over three years. I am proud to announce that riddlelove and Tropical Traditions are giving away a 32-ounce jar of Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil!
I personally buy their virgin oil (raw, with a slight coconut taste) for smoothies and other raw foods. It is also the only thing I feel that doesn't break my skin out and it seems to eliminate my son's eczema without stinging his skin. I use their expeller-pressed coconut oil (no coconut flavor) to make amazing breads, cakes, and other baked goods. And, because it's a very stable oil and can be stored at room temperature for a long time, I buy it by the gallon.
This contest begins Monday, November 9th at 11:00 am PST and ends Monday, November 16th at 9:00 am PST. Make sure you leave a comment at the end of this post for each entry (IE: "I subscribed to Tropical Tradition's newsletter.")
Let the fun begin! I will go to Random.org to pick a winner on November 16th at 9PM PST. S/he will have 48 hours to respond, if not I will pick another winner. TROPICAL TRADITIONS HAS A REFERRAL PROGRAM SO IF YOU ARE GOING TO PURCHASE FROM THEM, PLEASE READ THIS: TROPICAL TRADITIONS IS OFFERING FREE SHIPPING FOR MONDAY, NOVEMBER 9TH ONLY!
If you place an order with them as a first-time customer, please select “Referred by a friend” and in the box that says “How did you hear of us?” enter my sponsor ID number: 5684226 By telling Tropical Traditions that I referred you, you will receive a complimentary copyof the book Virgin Coconut Oil: How it has changed people’s lives and how it can change yours! by Brian and Marianita Shilhavy with your first order! This book is filled with testimonies and research showing how healthy coconut oil is, and it also includes over 85 recipes showing how one can incorporate coconut into their diet.
Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product. Have fun and enjoy!
Have you noticed a growing number of people who love the idea of buying some land with other families and then living off of it? I have.
~ it's more than just a coincidence?
~ the simplistic lifestyle was a means of paying off debts and regaining financial freedom?
~ health problems ceased due to a holistic lifestyle that included daily sunshine and exercise by tending to the farm & consuming all fresh, organic, seasonal, local food?
~ it didn't look like a commune, but an actual healthy, working, community?
~ it was a bunch of normal people able to interact with society?
~ we slowly came back to being a nation of mostly farmers instead of mostly consumers?
~ people put their desires to plan, and their plan to action?
Happily, I haven't stuck to the "blogging at least once a week" plan. I'm happy about this because it means a breakthrough in that my actions are according to my priorities. Does that even make sense? I mean, instead of crumbling to the smaller desire of establishing a consistently-updated blog, I kept attention on the bigger priorities. Victory! Currently, the "bigger priority" has been leaving room for understanding revelation.
It's been a season of much learning, and I don't know about you, but for me, after revelation hits, time is needed to really digest and absorb the new findings and then eventually it trickles down to daily application. What are these revelations, you ask? Well, it's still being digested and absorbed. Soon it will trickle into this blog, but for now, I want to make sure to take enough time to digest and absorb it properly. Random post? Maybe. It's an attempt to explain the reason for a temporarily quiet blog. :)
Making my own pumpkin spice latte has been on my mind. A lot. I love them, but can't afford them. And I wanted to find a way to make them with natural, unharmful ingredients, anyway. Making pumpkin bread with the pancake squash last night sparked an idea. What if I put the spices I use in pumpkin bread into my coffee? So this morning, I pinched and sprinkled some cinnamon, ginger, ground cloves, allspice, and nutmeg, added about a teaspoon of maple syrup (The real kind, people. It has to be the real kind.) annnd... a couple teaspoons of cream(mmm). It was tasty-licious! But it was missing the pumpkin taste. Go figure. Next time, after I process the pumpkins in the garden, I'll whisk about 1 teaspoon of the purée in there and let you know how it turns out. ;)
I was planning on blogging during my carved-out free time last Thursday. It was a pretty uneventful day (at first), but I wanted to write, anyway. It was going to be about enjoying those slow days instead of slipping into a stupor, hoping writing that would wake me up out of mine. After clipping some basil and flowers from the garden, the kids and I bumbled back into the house to find a scented soy beads candle burner that had somehow re-ignited itself into a HUGE flame. There was a cup of water sitting nearby. I knew not throw water on burning grease, but I figured it'd be okay on wax and I had to act fast for fear the flame would reach the tablecloth that I thankfully folded away from the candle before lighting it. I tossed the water and WHOOSH! The fire shot up to the ceiling, spreading out in a horrible fan of flames. I shouted at the kids to get out of the house! and ran my baby out to the front yard away from the house as she screamed. I sprinted over to my husband in our 5th-wheal studio and screeched, "Fire in the kitchen!" Then, running into the house to make sure none of the kids went back in, I expected to see the whole kitchen lit up in flames. But it wasn't. There was no fire. Just the sound of the fire alarm and my kids wailing in terror outside. My neighbor rushed over because she saw the flame from my window and came to see what was going on. I told her what happened, but that there was no more fire and the house was fine. I rushed to help Jeremy comfort the kids. We walked them back inside to show them it was safe as they clung to our sides, whimpering.
I immediately felt like I was just given an opportunity. I needed to stop and wait to find out what it was, because I was still pretty rattled. Then I felt the answer. I told my kids that what was at first bad and scary turned out to be so good. We're not to get caught up in the fear of this situation, but to realize how protected we were. No one was hurt, and the house remained unharmed except for a little blackening on the ceiling (that we'll soon paint over). It's good to talk about our feelings, but to always remember the ending of this story. We were completely protected, and there is no reason to play the what-if game. This isn't a bad story that we'll shudder about every time we look back on it, but it's a story of miraculous protection, and we praise Jesus every time we think of it!
It feels so good that the power of fear has been broken off of my own life, and I long for my kids to grow up without that evil power stifling them. I've recently been feeling the importance of identifying generational strongholds and destroying them, just as my parents did with so many issues for my brother and I. It feels like what Gandolf in "Lord of the Rings" did when standing against that demon thing that was trying to get Frodo, and he yelled, "You will not pass!" That's what that moment felt like to me. I was yelling at that spirit of fear, "You will not pass!" This isn't going to get through to another generation. We have been redeemed, and with me standing in agreement with my Savior... It. Will. Not. The end.
Here's the other one. I just love the effect these mini sunflowers
have against the white pickett fence! I need to stick some in a vase
and add it to our growing fall centerpiece. Ahh, the air is crisp and
breezy and it finally feels like autumn. Happiness...
While wandering through the sales ads, I saw there were some organic soy fall candles on sale at Bed, Bath, and Beyond and my heart skipped a beat! Wahoo! I decided to buy the all-natural sent, "candy corn" (note the sarcasm). It smells delicious. When it was time to dispose of the extra wax, I couldn't bring myself to just toss it in the trash. There was some scrap paper neatly sitting on the kids' desk (meaning it was scattered all over the floor), and I remembered the stashes of egg cartons we were saving for when the chickensstarted laying (we're up to eight a day now!), and quickly made fire starters out of it all. Not just any fire starters. OrganicCandy Corn-scented fire starters. Now all we need is some cold weather and a couple chords of wood and our wood burning stove will be in business!
And a special thank you to my sweet babies who constructed this lovely autumn centerpiece out of things gathered from the backyard. The centerpiece is being added to daily. I wonder what our table will look like come Thanksgiving?
I have become quite the pro of cross-polinating squashes. Last year, I crossed zucchini and butternut and we decided to name it "zucchernut." Outside of it's straingly intriguing appearance, it proved useless.
This year, I was careful to plant one squash at a time, but a sneaky pumpkin seed snuck in through the compost and disguised itself nicely in the yellow squash patch. I was so frustrated! What was I going to
do with these mutants?! When I saw them sitting there in the corner of my kitchen counter (if I had a dunce cap, I would have put it on them) next to my long-awaited Vitamix, I thought I'd look through the Vitamix cookbook to see if I could find any squash recipes, and low and behold, there was a zucchini pancake recipe! So I chopped them up, ommitted the sugar, and tada! My mutants found their destiny! They made delicious pancakes! And they have a great shelf life, a lot longer than the summer squash, but you can chop it up, skin and all, which is a lot easier than processing pumpkins. I hereby name them... The pancake squash.
It's been a little over two years since I first plunged my hands in the fertile Northern Californian soil, but I feel like I just started gardening. I'm by no means a master gardener (I hope to be someday), but I do my homework. I hope all you gardeners out there, especially the ones in zone 9, consider my garden journal entries a kind of garden club where we can share ideas, tips and stories together.
Let's go on a little stroll through my garden. It currently consists of seven raised beds, a white picket fence, and a garden gate with thornless roses creeping up the arbor that shades the gate. I'd love to take credit for all this, but besides the abandoned, overgrown beds, the garden was this gorgeous when we moved in as renters. You'll have to use your imagination for the entry because I couldn't capture a satisfactory photo of it.
Here is bed 1. This was taken August 8. We've got about 8 pumpkins so far.
Bed 2 is a currently a gourd bed. We planted decorative gourds and crafters gourds. My plan is to make bowls, serving ladles, and birdhouses out of them with my children. Depending on how they turn out, they could make sweet gifts. I got this idea from P. Allen Smith. (I've wanted to do this for a while.) This was also taken early August....
.. and here are some cutie little gourditas that we've got growing now.
Bed 3. I just seeded it yesterday with celery and heirloom Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach Seeds. Anticipating the sprouts is so much fun! There are tomatoes finishing their summer run up at the top and at the bottom are canteloupes who decided to show up late in the season...
They are small, but soooo goood.
Bed 4. For some reason, I love this bed. I think it's the way the light hits it. I've had the hardest time growing anything in there due to mimosa runners and once free-roaming chickens deciding it looked like a great salad bar, but I keep weeding, fertilizing, and planting. Right now, it has Danver's half-long carrots, Dolla Rossa Lettuce, Dutch cabbage, and I just planted kale in the places where the chickens had there way in it (they are now happily free-ranging in a large chicken run constructed by my handy husband).
Bed 5: The corn is obviously done, and we're getting the last of the Contender Bush Beans, which are really tasty. I'll be replanting this bed in a few days.
Bed 6. This is my second favorite bed. Parsley, anyone? That's what's growing to the left. The open patch has cilantro seeds hopefully germinating, then there are some tomatoes finishing up, some basil behind the tomatoes, and more cilantro seeds to the far right.
Bed 7. Lots of happy little kale and cabbage sprouts!
That's my garden for now. I love how gardens are always changing, growing and yielding little nourishing treats with the seasons. It doesn't get more fresh and local than the backyard. :)
"Mommy, what's your favorite color?"
"Well baby, I don't really have one. I love all of them, especially when they're tastefully arranged together."
"Mommy, what's your favorite sea creature?"
"I don't know, baby. I really like dolphins and whales. And I love how some sea creatures help one another. That's called 'symbiosis.'"
"Mommy, what's your favorite favorite dinner?"
"Mmmm. I love dinners. It depends on what I'm feeling like. Today, I think... raw Thai food sounds delicious, with that tasty Thai tea, something with lots of ginger and garlic, and for dessert, raw peach cobbler. Raw food sounds good to me today. Wait, where are you going, baby? I'm still answering your question..."
My kids really want me to land on some favorites here. It just makes things easier to categorize and digest, I think. I love blogs that are about one thing. I can find some great raw recipes at one blog, some inspirational mothering literature at another, tips on gardening in zone 9 at yet another, home orchards, backyard chicken flocks, home schooling, baking, cooking, organics, spiritual growth... But I just can't get myself to land on a blog emphasis. I love a myriad of arts and activities and want to talk about them all. At the same time, my favorite quote-turned-motto, "do few things and do them well" doesn't sit well with all this interest, does it? But wait a minute. Yes it does! I have decided my blog shall be about... Homemaking! Being a keeper of the home! Homesteading! It all means the same thing to me. And that's what this here blog will be all about. Ahhh. That feels good. Now if only I could satisfy my poor kids' desire to categorize my favorite favorites. And by the way, my 7-year-old has determined that white is my favorite color because it has all of the colors in it. :)
walked around at four-years-old, holding Jesus’s hand and really felt her hand in His.
’s aunt practiced cutting hair on and ended up with a boy ‘do which confused all her 5-year-old soccer teammates as to whether she was in to Rainbow Bright or He Man.
dreamt about being in the Olympics after watching them in 1984. First, she was going into running. Then swimming. Then gymnastics. Then, she settled for a silver medal for the hurdles in the Girl Scout Brownie Olympics.
loved singing, dancing, and acting with CTAP, her church's children's performing arts group.
couldn’t hold it in any longer and farted as she went into a back bend and had to continue to walk in that position across the mat while everyone (including the teacher) in dance class laughed in hysterics.
went to school at Orangethorpe Elementary in Room 25 for 4th grade and then became “one of those home schooled kids” for six years.
had a mom who wanted to encourage her daughter’s writing and set up a meeting where Ken Gire read one of her short stories and was elated when Ken told her it was a good story although it was unbelievable.
wanted to become amish, but settled with raising three hens since the city ofGarden Grove wouldn’t let her have a cow.
was that shy, quiet girl who shook and made strange noises and shared her testimony when Carl Tuttle asked her to come up at a Wednesday night renewal meeting.
attended SCC for her Junior year and participated in all the extra curricular activities she could get her hands on, including finally landing a lead role in a play!
took her acting talent on the road and aquired such esteemed rolls as various characters at Disneyland and an extra in two movies that were so lame, they will not be mentioned.
dated three guys before she surprisingly found her husband in a friend.
became a woman who:
was married at nineteen and lived happily in a cozy, 500 square foot studio with her husband while they both went to college and worked full-time.
couldn’t wait to be a mother and has since given birth to four beautiful babes.
had a personal revival in 2006 and hasn’t been the same since.
felt very guilty for breaking her parents’ hearts but moved away attempting to listen to what she felt the Lord told her to do.
had a year of trial in 2007.
misses her husband when he travels but supports him entirely.
wants to love her heavenly Father in everything she does.
likes to take care of the world God created as a thankful steward.