Archive | November, 2010

Italian Lasagna for 2

10 Nov

Ingredients for the best lasagna!

As the wife of a man whose favorite food is Italian I am always trying to master a new dish.  His favorite is spaghetti but this homemade lasagna ranks a close second.  Hands down it is the best I’ve ever had even if I did make it. 😉   It is also fairly simple but does take a little while.  I would allow 1.5 hours from when you enter the kitchen to when you place it on the dining room table.  (That should give you plenty of time to chase a baby, prepare a salad, clean up the kitchen, exercise, etc.) 

Remove the casings from 2 Italian sausage links and crumble in a small skillet. Add 1/4 c. choped onion and 1 garlic clove minced. Cook over medium until meat is no longer pink.

Add 1 can (14.5oz) of undrained diced tomatoes, 1/4 c. tomato paste OR ketchup, 3/4 t. sugar, 1/2 t. basil, 1/4 t. salt, 1/8 t. crushed red pepper flakes, and 1/8 t. pepper

Cook 4 lasagna noodles according to package directions and drain.

Combine 1 beaten egg, 3/4 c. cottage cheese (or ricotta), and 1 T. parsley.

In a loaf pan spread 1/3 c. red sauce.  Trim noodles to fit the dish.  Layer 1/3 of the noodle pieces, top with 1/3 of the remaining sauce, 1/3 cottage cheese and 3 T. mozzarella cheese.  Repeat these layers twice.

Bake at 375 covered for 30 minutes.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Let stand 15 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

Intentional Prayers

8 Nov

Sweet girls who love studying the book of Mark with me!

How many times have you taken down prayer requests during Bible Study or when friends ask you to pray for something but then failed to pray for them?  Do you find yourself scrambling to keep track of a prayer list?   I have been given the awesome privelege and responsibility of teaching at my church.  Each Sunday night I am blessed to spend my evening opening up the Word with a group of middle school girls.  I don’t just want to teach them a bunch of facts about God.  Rather I desire that God would radically transform their lives!  One way that I have seen God radically transform lives is through prayer.  After a couple of weeks teaching these girls I realized that I really didn’t know exactly what they needed me to be praying for them about.  I don’t just want to pray God bless Suzy to have a good day.  Instead I want to pray specifically for her in the areas where she is struggling that God would act in a mighty way in her life.  At the end of our bible study each week I hand each girl a 3X5 index card.  Then I ask her to write down three different prayer requests on the same card.  Most of them usually write down their name as well. 

  1. Spiritual: For the first one I ask her to tell me how I can best be praying for her spiritual life.  Oftentimes this relates to our lesson.  For example maybe she is mad at God, struggling to make time reading her Bible, doubting God’s goodness, confused about what to believe, etc. 
  2. Personal: Then I ask each girl to write down a personal request for herself.  (Anything that isn’t spiritual.)  These would include things like praying for a girl’s relationship with her parents, that she would stop cussing, her brother would stop being mean to her, etc.
  3. Others: Lastly I have the girls write down anything else going on in their life that they want me to pray for.  Things like grandparents, or friend requests go here. 

More sweet ladies

Having the girls write down specific requests not only helps me to pray better for them but also allows me to write more poignant Bible Studies for them.  (If you didn’t know writing Bible Studies for teenage girls is what I love to do!)  We have spent this semester going through a study on the Gospel of Mark that I have written but tonight took a break to talk about spending time with God.  Almost every girl had written  down within the past couple of weeks that she was having trouble reading her bible or praying.  I don’t know that I would have realized this had I not asked them to write down specific prayer requests regarding areas where they were struggling. 

This could also easily be adapted as you pray for your family members and friends.  I have literally handed friends of mine 3X5 index cards and asked them to write down what I could pray for them about.  Sometimes when I am on the phone with a family member or friend I grab an index card and jot down requests.  Index cards work great for me.  I usually keep them in my kitchen as I cook dinner, wash dishes, clean, bake, etc.  At other times I take them on walks with me.  They are small enough that I can place them in my purse and go through them as I am waiting somewhere.

Why I love the Bulk Herb Store

7 Nov

Ever since my mom introduced me to the wonder of Celestial Seasonings hot herb tea I was hooked.  I remember pouring myself a cup of tea, adding a sugar cube, and thinking I was so cool.  Well not much has changed I guess.  I think I would fit in well in England because it seems like every afternoon I am making a cup of tea and sitting down for a couple of minutes to relax.  My love for tea continues to grow over the years.  Perhaps it is because of all of the fond memories that I have that involve tea.  I enjoyed tea at home occasionally growing up but it was when I went to college that I really became hooked.  In college I frequently shared a cup of tea with a friend in my dorm room after a long day.  It was a great time for us to unwind and just minister to one another as we talked.  Now I am blessed to be able to have a cup of tea with my sweet husband often.  What could be better than that?  (I was actually the one to introduce him to tea.  I’m really glad he likes it!)  If you are ever in my area please let me know.  I would love to have you over for tea. 

If you are an avid tea drinker like myself then you must try some loose leaf tea!  You may never be able to drink tea made in a bag again!  The difference in taste is hard to explain you will just have to try it.  Loose leaf tea is much cheaper than purchasing a box of tea bags and so much better.   Where in the world do you buy tea?  Some natural food stores sell loose tea but they are quite expensive.  Instead I buy all of our loose tea from the Bulk Herb Store.  I have been buying tea from them for probably five years at least.  I know I was in college the first time I ordered tea from them because my friends thought I was crazy!  Their prices are amazing and I have not found one tea or herb that I was unhappy with.  The store also ships insanely fast!  They sell herbs in bulk which you can use to make your own tea blends, tinctures, additions to cooking, etc.  So far I have only made my own blend of Mama Tea but hope to come up with more in the future.  I plan on making our own Emerson Blend knock off of Tazo’s Passion Tea (Brandon’s favorite).  They also sell books, videos, and other resources.

The following are some of tea blends that we have enjoyed in our home which were purchased from the Bulk Herb Store:

  • Christmas Tea
  • Creamy Pumpkin Pie Tea-absolutely amazing with a splash of Pumpkin Spice cream.  Starbucks has nothing compared to this!
  • Frosty Kandy Kane Tea
  • Red Raspberry Brew-wonderful tea for women to drink.  Helps alleviate symptoms from an unwanted friend who appears monthly.
  • Rise and Shine Tea
  • Red Roobios-my favorite!

Today we also tried adding a teaspoon of Daily Boost Herba-Smoothie Mix to our smoothies.  It is like adding a scoop of vitamins to your morning smoothie.  (I have found smoothies to be a great way to sneak nutrition into Brandon’s diet.)  This blend increases alertness and energy.  Who couldn’t use a little more of that!  They also sell blends to help relieve stress/anxiety and to increase circulation. 

What are some of your favorites from the Bulk Herb store?

How to Feed a Baby

6 Nov

Eljah enjoying some chicken at 10.5 months

Are you a new mom completely overwhelmed at the idea of beginning solids?  Have you walked down the baby food row at your local grocery confused at where to begin or have you nearly had heart failure when you picked up a tiny little jar and saw the price.  The other day I decided to buy Eli a jar or two of baby food but I nearly had a heartattack when I saw the prices!  Even with a great coupon baby food costs at least .50 a jar with organic baby food costing closer to .79 a jar!  No way!  I bought one jar and headed back home encouraged in my pursuit of making baby food. 

The good news is that for the first six months your baby only needs breastmilk or formula as it provides all of the nutrients that your baby needs.  Talk with your pediatrician but most agree that it is safe to start solids when your baby is six months old.  I think it is also a good idea to probably wait until they can sit up by themselves.  I’ll never forget the first couple of times we fed Elijah food.  Honestly it was pretty disappointing because he couldn’t have cared less.  Some babies do not appear very interested in food until closer to their first birthday. 

Elijah working on some self-feeding

At almost 11 months old Elijah eats a couple of times a day but still is not super interested.  In the past month I have really noticed an increase in his interest level.  We pretty much keep Elijah’s meals to fruits and vegetables with a little meat thrown in.  At this point he has eaten almost every vegetable (except broccoli) and a good variety of fruits (not including any type of berry).  I do make the majority of Elijah’s baby food.  We do purchase a couple of jars per month to keep on hand but try to read the labels and purchase food without additional fillers such as flours, preservatives, or other chemicals.  If the idea of making your own baby food still has you scared look for some already food that has already been made into a puree in the regular section of your grocery.  Ex: pumpkin or applesauce.  Most of the time they do not have additional ingredients and would be great to feed to your baby.  Whenever I open a can of pumpkin I usually pull out a tablespoon or so to give to Eli that day.  (He loves pumpkin.)

I like to make a batch of baby food up about every other week or every week. 

  1. Select my fruit, vegetable, or combination.  Then I would cook the food by lightly steaming or baking in the oven.
  2. Next I either use a blender to puree the ingredients or use the KidCo Baby Food Mill.  At about $12 this pays for itself very quickly.  Basically to use the mill you just insert the cooked food in one hand and turn the crank at the top.   Pureed baby food is ready in a matter of seconds.

KidCo Food Mill

I like to make a bunch at once.  I take the baby food and place it in an ice-cube tray.  You could also make little plops (like you would when making cookies) on a cookie sheet.  After they are frozen I simply place them in a plastic bag with the date.  You may want to also include what the food is as it can be quite hard to tell the difference between frozen squash, carrots, and pumpkin. 

We purchased the Tommy Tippee 4-pack food pots (BPA FREE) and they have been great.  (Don’t worry Eli’s are blue and green not pink!)  🙂  Each morning I decide what Elijah will be eating that day say for example it was pumpkin.  I just pull out an ice-cube of pumpkin out of my bag in the freezer and place it in one of these pots.  If I leave it out on the counter it will have melted enough by lunch time.  These are nice and small and easily hold one large ice-cube.  We also sometimes take them along with us in our diaper bag. 

Munchkin Fresh Food Feeder

One of my favorite baby feeding utensils is the Munchkin Fresh Food Feeder.   It is so convenient and very affordable ($5-6 for 2).  You just add food and your baby can chomp away to his heart’s content.  Sometimes we also feed Eli a frozen ice cube of food in this.  He can slober all over it for a while and seems to really enjoy it! 

Eli enjoying the Munchkin Feeder

Honestly feeding puree baby foods has never been something that I really enjoy.  Now that Elijah can easily pick things up we have started giving him tiny pieces of cut up food.  We also try to encourage him to feed himself with a spoon.  For that we really like the Sassy Less Mess Training Spoon.  If you look closely you at the picture you will see that there are guards on BOTH ends of the spoon so that Elijah does not choke himself on the spoon.  So far he is doing pretty good with it. 

Sassy Less Mess Training Spoon - Sassy  - Babies"R"Us

We haven’t been able to find a suction cup bowl or plate that Elijah can’t pick up.  He is one strong little boy!  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  Right now we just plan on giving him a bath after he eats! 🙂 

That’s about it so far on my experience feeding a baby.  After Elijah’s birthday we plan on introducing some more foods so stay tuned for more ideas this December.  I’m sure there will be some actual recipes as I work on making some healthy toddler snacks next year. 🙂

Leaves Crunch: October at the Emerson Home

4 Nov

Trunk or Treat 2010

Wow we thought September was busy for us and then October came around!  It sure has been a crazy month but it has been full of fun as you can see.  We all dressed up and took part in our church’s Trunk or Treat on Sunday night which was lots of fun.  This was a first for both Brandon and I.  Eli had a great time walking around and seeing all the people.  He sure loves people! 

Elijah at the WoolFest-it's sad to say but he was scared of the goats

At the beginning of the month I was blessed to spend time with my family/friends at the Wool Fest.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with it the Wool Fest is a big festival in Falmouth, Ky near where I grew up.  25,000 people come to it annually making it quite a big deal.  We walked around looking at all the exhibits and purchased a small gift for Brandon for Christmas.  We also spent some time helping (kind of) at the petting zoo.  Elijah enjoyed watching the animals but whenever one got too close he would get scared and wimper.

Katelyn (my sister) with Elijah and Anna (Anna is my cousin-isn't she cute)

It was really fun to watch Elijah and Anna interact at the Wool Fest.  How neat that they will get to grow up together having someone so close to their age for the holidays!  I never had a cousin close in age and always thought it would have been such fun.  This month has been unusual in that I have been able to spend a lot of time with my family.  Thanks in part to the dentist-I went home to go to the dentist twice and my family has lunch at our home when they go to the orthodontist. 

We bundled up and enjoyed some of the festivities in downtown Frankfort one afternoon to celebrate the World Equestrian Games coming to town.

The cold weather didn't stop us from taking a brisk walk around the neighborhood

We have continued to enjoy long walks to the library, around the zoo, and in downtown Frankfort where we attended a celebration for the WEG being in town. 

Old youth group buddies and two of our sweet youth workers at Sarah's shower.

I attended a shower for a childhood friend who is getting married next month.  It was great catching up with many of the sweet girls who were a part of my own youth group growing up.  We also were blessed to invite our youth group from church into our home which was so fun.  Part of our desire as a family is to use our home as a place of ministry to others in our life. 

I have continued to enjoy being mommy to my little side kick who is growing so very fast and so much fun to take on all of my many adventures!  He can crawl so fast and is cruising like crazy.  Any day now I think he is going to let go of the coffee table and take off! 

We were so blessed to be able to buy a new roof for our house!

Our house got a new look as we were able to get a new roof this month.  I am so thankful that we have it but so glad that I am done getting bids and dealing with contractors.  Doesn’t it look great?  We are planning on painting the shutters soon any color suggestions? 

I was also blessed to be able to spend some good time with my dear friend Sarah Burton and my sister Rebekah who both stayed with us this month.  We love having guests in our home so please plan to come visit! 

Lots of schoolwork-reading books and writing papers has taken up a good amount of my time this month.  I also have greatly enjoyed tutoring a girl for both the ACT and SAT this past month.  (I worked as tutor for 6 years prior to getting married.)  I have also been sewing some gifts, cooking more new dishes, enjoying time with friends, reading, and experimenting with different bread recipes (more of that to come soon). 

Precious what else is there to say?

October Reading Recommendations:

  • Family Driven Faith-by Voddie Bauchaum-this will make you evaluate the manner in which your family and your church is teaching your child about Christ.  A must read for any parent.
  • Skin Deep: natural remedies for healthy skin and hair by Margaret Dinsdale.  This book was so good I found myself hesitant to give it back to the library after having it for over a month.  Not only does it describe various herbs but it provides fun and easy do it yourself recipes to try at home.  This is a book that I would recommend to add to your list of books to purchase.  It was great!

What have been some of your favorite memories of October?

Why You Should Wear Your Baby and Reviews

2 Nov

Elijah and I enjoying the Wool Fest in an Ergo Carrier

Do you find yourself finding trouble to get everything done each day?  Are you frustrated by how much your baby seems to need to be held?  If so then I would greatly encourage you to check out Babywearing.  What in the world is babywearing?  Well it is simply wearing or carrying your baby or toddler using a cloth carrier.  If you start looking around when you are out I bet you will find someone wearing their baby.  I am convinced that wearing Elijah often makes us both happier, less frazzled, and more peaceful.  Right now in the short minute or two that it took to type the few sentences following this Elijah has fallen asleep on my back.  Babywearing allows me the joy of holding Elijah close while at the same time freeing up my hands to be doing something else.  I have everything in this carrier from cooking dinner, cleaning, homework, to actually teaching a Girl’s Bible Study.  🙂

There are many baby carriers on the market.  Just start doing a couple of google searches and you may quickly find yourself overwhelmed.  You can actually wear your baby using a piece of cloth or even a tablecloth.  (Brandon is horrified at the idea of our tablecloth going from table to Eli but I don’t see why.)  Babywearing is more of a skill to be learned.  It is probably the easiest to learn from a friend but there are also numerous YouTube videos out there to help you.

My Aunt Christy and cousin Anna trying it out

I first started out babywearing on my little brothers and sisters.  I don’t remember the first one that I wore around but I do have some vivid memories of carrying Rebekah-from Black Friday shopping with Mom to long walks up and down our driveway.  Another great thing about babywearing is that it isn’t just for Moms-everyone can be involved! 

Hiking Pinnacle Mountain with Grandpa Steve

If you are looking to purchase a babycarrier I would first start asking around to see which types your friends have enjoyed.  Also check to see if there is a natural momma type of store which would have some carriers that you could try on.  If you live near Lexington Mother Nurture store is a wonderful resource.  They helped me try on a couple of different carriers with Elijah which was great!  My two favorite carriers of all time would have to be the Ergo Carrier pictured above and the Moby. 

My first baby carriers were an Infantino Snuggli and an Infantino Sling.  I liked the sling a lot for the first couple weeks until it was recalled.  The Snuggli pictured below worked great until Eli was about 13 pounds and then started to hurt my shoulders so I began researching other carriers.   

The Infantino Snuggli-worked great until 13 pounds.

 

Brandon sporting our sling-NOTE THIS HAS BEEN RECALLED DO NOT USE IF YOU HAVE IT!

After the above sling was recalled and the Snuggli carrier began hurting my shoulders after a while I began researching other baby carriers.  Then I found the Moby!  Although it may look rather different it is the most comfortable thing ever.  I wish I had skipped the Snugli and Sling and just bought a Moby!   This carrier was amazing for getting Eli to sleep when he was little.  For the first couple months Eli was pretty fussy in the evenings so this was wonderful!  The only down side is that it can be a bit warm so I did not wear it much this summer.   I have heard that they even sell these at Target now.  If you are looking for a great baby shower gift I would consider buying a Moby for someone.  For a small baby the Moby is my favorite.
 
When the baby starts to get a little bigger I recommend the Ergo carrier.  Although they do make a newborn insert for it I have not tried it.  (We purchased it when Elijah was 5 months old).  It is ergonomically designed to feel wonderful even after a couple of hours!  I find myself wearing Eli for at least a couple of hours each day and this is what I frequently turn to.  It is fast to put on compared to the Moby.  Elijah absolutely loves it!  Whenever I head out without it I definitely regret it! 
For more information check out:

LLBean Frame Carrier that was given to us-wonderful for hiking or long walks.