Monthly Archives: March 2013

Kid Inspired Design

It took me a while to get to this place where I realized that every square inch of our [comparatively] small house is valuable and we should base our design choices on what’s going to make life easy and awesome in the present [words to live by]. With that in mind, I took the art easel out of Lucy’s room and replaced it with a dress up station. With the addition of her little brother / partner in art, we relegated our crafting to the dining room table so the easel really only served to be the makeshift rocket / flying car. It hasn’t been missed and it’s only a little trek away in the playroom.

It’s important to me that the kids’ living spaces reflect who they are and what they’re in to. I had all these ideas before we had kids about how I wasn’t going to let Lucy get caught up in all the fairy tale stuff and I would help her to be a super balanced kid. [Did I mention she used the easel rocket ship to carry her babies to the grocery store all while flying away from the scary monster who mysteriously follows her for the sheer enjoyment of the chase!?]. She’s balanced, alright. She’s got this. I shouldn’t worry about molding her play time, but instead worry about surrounding her with an environment that’s going to spark her imagination. I shouldn’t worry about all the pink and purple engulfing her, instead I need to focus on what’s inside her. Giving her a room that’s going to encourage awesome free play. Letting her have that time to play independently. Being ready when she wants to give me insight into her awesome mind.

So that led me to create ‘Lucy’s Super Awesome Imagination Dress Up Creation Station’. [hehe] We are super lucky that Lucy is the youngest of four girl cousins and inherited a TON of awesome princess, ballerina, and fairy costumes as her cousins outgrew them. So many that they weren’t fitting so great in the cloth box they’d been living in. [We also found some cheap costumes in the Marshall’s clearance area and Target after Halloween.]

kid inspired design [dress up imagination station]

The whole project cost us about $42 but I feel confident that all of the things we invested in are organizational pieces that will be useful long after Lucy outgrows her dress up phase. I did have to spend a little mental energy getting over the picture pinterest perfect idea I had in my head of what Lucy’s room should look like. And fight the desire that I should hold out for some amazing [but probably expensive] child-size vintage wardrobe would find it’s way to me. Here’s the break down:

Garment Rack: $19.99
Plastic Hangers: $2.40
Metal Skirt Hangers: $8
6 Storage Bins: $6
Mirror: $6

kid inspired design [dress up imagination station]

And it works with her rainbowy, carousely, vibrant, colorful thing she’s got going on in her room.

kid inspired design [dress up imagination station]

I think the mirror was her favorite part. I wasn’t really surprised because she’s that kid in dance class who can’t take her eyes off herself. Chuck pointed out that she can use the mirror to work on her dance moves, so hopefully her vanity will not be impaired. The look on her face when she came in her room to see her “pecial urprize” will stay with me for a while. Worth it.

kid inspired design [dress up imagination station]

“Lucy, how much do you love it?”
“Thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis much.”

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Homemade Hot Cocoa

I’m going to be honest: yesterday, when the snow started falling on our Spring Break, I may have been a bit of a grumpelstiltskin. And then the idea of bundling up the children to play in it did not elicit sweeter thoughts. But I did it. Because that’s totally a thing you do, right?! Kids are supposed to play in the snow. And, of course, it was totally a great time. And these kids of mine are totally hilarious. I think we can all agree that the moral of that story is “Don’t be a grumppopotamus, Beth.”

vegan hot cocoa | hey, beth baker!

It also gave me a chance to whip up some homemade hot cocoa and feed the kids marshmallows for dinner [Well, that wasn’t really on purpose… wooooooo Spring Break. Gettin’ cray.].

vegan hot cocoa | hey, beth baker!

I mean who could say no to these sweet, patiently-waiting-for-hot-cocoa faces? Not this girl. For more instagram peeks, feel free to follow along.

vegan hot cocoa | hey, beth baker!

Homemade Hot Cocoa
2 1/2 cups almond milk
3/4 cup soy creamer or dairy-free coffee creamer [or your favorite creamer, half and half, or whole milk if you don’t need to go vegan]
1/4 – 1/2 cups brown sugar [depending on how sweet you like it, or if you’re adding whipped cream] I like 5 tablespoons, but who’s counting.
splash of vanilla extract
1/2 cup non-alkaline cocoa
2 pinches of salt

Put it all together in your favorite sauce pan and whisk it while you heat it up. On a medium high heat it will take 3 to 5 minutes to warm it up. Don’t scald your milk. Top with whipped cream or marshmallows [or both] and then sprinkle a little more cocoa on top to make your friends think you’re a fancy pants.

vegan hot cocoa | hey, beth baker!

So we ended a great day 15 minutes outside with delicious cups of allergen-friendly cocoa.

snow1

90 seconds. If you were wondering how long it took Landon outside to get a bloody lip. Didn’t stop this tough guy, though.

snow2

Lucy is obsessed with snow angels. OBsessed.

snow3

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Kale & Sweet Potato Burritos

My husband says I should include a toodles alert with this recipe. But that makes me blush. They may leave you a little gassy. Vegetables do that sometimes. Power through it and your taste buds will thank you.

p.s. this is my 100th post! Can you believe it!? I’ve been over-sharing for six months and 100 posts and instead of sharing something super thoughtful, I bring you a recipe that requires a toodles warning. Sigh.

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Kale & Sweet Potato Burritos
Serves 4 to 6

4 medium sweet potatoes, cubed
1 bunch kale, removed from stem and chopped roughly
Cumin, chipotle chili, paprika, salt, pepper
Olive or coconut oil

Whole wheat tortillas
Feta [or your favorite] cheese
Guacamole

This recipe is a simple one. Easy to throw together and minimal hands on work. Preheat your oven to 425F. Throw your chopped and cubed veggies together with olive or coconut oil and all your seasonings. Roast in the oven for about 15 minutes for the kale [until it wilts and darkens just a little] and the sweet potatoes for 30 minutes or so until they’re fork tender.

The last few minutes while you’re roasting your veggies throw your tortillas in the oven to warm them.

To assemble them spread guacamole on half of the tortilla and top with veggies and cheese. Roll it up and enjoy!

These were a big success for everyone. Lucy did a great job of eating hers rolled up and Landon enjoyed picking up the veggies.

p.p.s sometimes we throw some onions on the roasting pan too. And sometimes we add black beans before we roll.

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BLKC: [Inititation]

blkc : initiation

There’s this moment when you’re sitting in the doctor’s office after your kid has received their diagnosis for allergies or asthma when the doctor sends a nurse in and they give you a mini-emergency response course for the steps to take if need arises. And I remember very clearly the doctor explaining, even though it was two years ago, that the instructions the nurse was going to give were not an “if this happens” but a “when this happens” kind of thing because the allergies our kids were facing would, inevitably, lead to a crisis at some point in their lives. So we learned about epi-pens, how long to wait before dialing 911, and what to do first in an emergency. And every six months or so, when I take the kids in, I get a similar lesson- which beyond being informative, helps you maintain the diligence needed to be an allergy & asthma mama.

And yesterday, I got to test out my training when Landon joined the Blue Lips Kids Club [totally a made up club]. He’s been battling a little cold and congestion for a few days so he’s been a bit off his game as far as energetic eighteen-month-olds go. When he got up from his nap, the first thing he wanted to do was grab a snack. Everyone’s quiet time/ nap time ended at the same moment [it seemed] so we were tangled up in a bit of chaos. Landon was situated at the table when there was a knock on the door, so I went to answer it. As I reached the door, I heard this awful, intense scream. I turned around to see Landon red-faced and drooling. I ran over to him and asked Lucy what he put in his mouth, trying to figure out how he’d reached something he was allergic to. She said he didn’t have anything and gaily pranced away [yes, really]. Landon began trying to put his whole hand inside his mouth and was scratching his tongue. I tried to pick him up and his body was rigid and he was arching his back. I started rubbing and beating on his back to help him make those coughs more productive.

Thankfully, mercifully, we keep his nebulizer set up all the time so after I frantically gathered his medicine, we were able to start a breathing treatment. He was extremely upset [of course] and about a minute into the treatment his lips began to turn blue. His body was still rigid and he began to tremble and sweat. I knew the medicine would help so I pressed on, counting the seconds in my head until I would grab an epi-pen. But thankfully, and once again mercifully, I could feel him begin to relax in my arms and take in bigger breaths of medicine. His lips returned to pink and he began to try to suck his thumb [I’ve never been so thankful to see that!].

The trembling didn’t go away for a while so we had him checked out that night. The nurse told me over and over that my response was perfect, which made me laugh a little. It’s only through the grace of God that I was able to get medicine into him so quickly, and that his response to the medicine was so immediate. The doctor told us coughing had caused his airways, which are constantly constricted because he’s an asthmatic, to become blocked by some mucus that he couldn’t work out [There was a metaphor about how if an adult’s airway is the size of a garden hose, a kid’s is the size of a straw and an asthmatic kids is the size of a coffee stirrer.]

Today he seems recovered. Well, beyond the double ear infection he’s also fighting right now. My poor sweet boy. It wasn’t until later that night that I realized that in the week prior to this [his first] attack I’d had a number of people [seemingly] randomly ask to pray for the kids. They prayed healing over them, but I realize now that some part of that was for future healing. There are no coincidences. Wow. So, if you would, pray for my little guy. A cold stinks but when you have asthma a cold can be dangerous. And maybe pray for me too. I’m trying not to be on falcon allergy mama priority alert 24/7. To trust my children to God.

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Granola Oatmeal Cookies

My mom makes these oatmeal cookies that are… amazing. They’re pretty healthy as far as cookies go and they’re super tasty. So of course I wanted to recreate them so the kids could enjoy them. I thought it would be pretty easy, too. Six batches later, here we are my friends.

Mimi’s Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup flour
1 cup oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup brown sugar
2 large egg whites
2 tablespoons safflower oil
2 tablespoons peanut butter [or apple butter]
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 375F. Mix the brown sugar, egg whites, oil, peanut butter, and vanilla in a large bowl. Mix the flour, oats, cinnamon, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet. Combine and drop spoonfuls onto parchment. Bake for 9-11 minutes.

*If you use peanut butter the cookies won’t “fall” as much as apple butter so if you’re looking for a flat cookie you’ll have to use a spoon or fork to press it down a bit.

The problem I kept running into when I tried to make these cookies vegan [to accomodate our food allergies] was a weird chewy texture for the oats. Less than ideal. And then yesterday while I was strolling through Big Lots [seriously, you guys… they are a gem for allergen-free foods!] I saw this Enjoy Life Double Chocolate Crunch Granola and knew my life would never be the same. No seriously. I need to go back and buy everything on the shelf.

granola oatmeal cookies [gf,v] | hey, beth baker!

The granola worked perfectly into the cookies and created the oatmeal texture I’ve been dreaming of. Here we go:

granola oatmeal cookies [gf,v] | hey, beth baker!

[Vegan] Granola Oatmeal Cookies
Makes about two dozen small cookies

1 1/2 cups chocolate chip granola
1 cup oat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

2 small sweet potatoes, cooked
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup apple butter
1/2 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon molasses [unsulphured]
1/4 cup almond butter [if you’re nut-free switch this out for a mashed banana or more coconut oil]

Preheat oven to 375F. Combine the granola, flour, baking soda, and salt. Using a stand or hand mixer, blend the still-warm sweet potato with the coconut oil until there are no more chunks of oil. Add in the brown sugar, apple butter, vanilla, molasses, and almond butter and mix until smooth. Add the dry ingredients to the mixer and mix until just combined.

granola oatmeal cookies [gf,v] | hey, beth baker!

You could also add either 1/2 tablespoon of cinnamon or 1/4 cup of chocolate chips [I recommend Enjoy Life Mega Chunks. They will change your chocolate chip world] as some tasty mix-ins. If you’re into that kind of thing. Do it now.

Drop onto parchment using your 1 1/2 tablespoon cookie scoop and bake on your baking stone for 9-11 minutes.

granola oatmeal cookies [gf,v] | hey, beth baker!

granola oatmeal cookies [gf,v] | hey, beth baker!

Love Is A Decision

So I have a confession to make [Oh my gosh, I’m always confessing something]. I love Christian Fiction novels. They may sometimes get a little contrived or cheesy, but I just can’t help it. There’s nothing worse [for me] then picking up a book from the library and getting invested in the characters only to turn the page and get smacked in the face with some raucous reading [I’ve always been quick to blush]. So, I like them. And I think Chuck would rather me read them than the alternatively safe Young Adult Fiction. The poor guy is all vampired out, I’m afraid.

Recently, I was reading through a series by Karen Kingsbury and something one of the main characters said really resonated with me: Love Is a decision. It’s true in our marriages, our families, our friendships, even our jobs. It’s just truth. We’re called to it. We’re defined by it. We can aspire to it. Love gives us strength and courage. Strength when this season of life pulls you a little lower than you’d like. Courage when despair rises up or justice needs to be sought.

love is a decision | hey, beth baker!

Love means choosing to put the hard, frustrating things behind you and focus on the affirming, positive ones. Love is a decision to be happy where you are, with what you have. Love is steadfast. It’s permanent and imminent. Love.

“And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” [1 Cor 13:2-3,7-8a]

love is a decision | hey, beth baker!

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The Story Of Us [The Beginning]

the story of us

“Well” he sighed, “I think that just about does it.” Heartache laid thick in the air and altogether it had been an emotional day.

“I don’t think I can do this guys! What was I thinking coming so far away?” My mom hugged me tight and showed me grace and strength that can only be grown over thirty years of motherhood. “You can do this. You’re supposed to do this. And it’s going to be fine…” Her reassurances were interrupted by the ring of my cellphone.

“Hey Beth, I just wanted to invite you to a birthday party for one of our friends tonight.” Nervously, I gathered the details and finished the call. Was it really that easy? That my needs would be so easily provided for? I looked over at my parents who seemed to gather some peace from the perfectly-timed call. I looked at their faces, loving and supportive, and couldn’t help but wonder how we’d gotten to this place. How we had come back full circle to such a close relationship after it seemed ours had been damaged beyond repair. I said a quick, silent prayer and thanked God for His healing.

When I’d finished my freshman year of college three years ago, I couldn’t believe going home for the summer meant traveling north to Upstate New York. Home had become a fluid place as my father’s job relocated him once again. I thought of how I’d chosen a school so far away from everything. Somewhere in the mountains, six hours away. I thought of how I’d filled my time so completely with art and soccer. How I’d gotten scholarships for both. Those scholarships told me I could do it on my own. I could work at things I wanted, work hard, and my work would be rewarded. But it was lonely without the closeness of my family.

And I smiled. New York had brought us back. The hours spent shoveling snow and hiking through its waterfalls and gorges had brought us to a new place. A place of love and trust: our new adult relationship. And it was glorious… So why had I decided to come so far away?

I remembered sitting on my bed with my mom’s arms wrapped around me the night before we left. “Is this where you believe God is leading you?” “Yes. There are parts of me that don’t want to go, but there aren’t any parts that feel like I shouldn’t go.” She smiled and hugged me tighter. “Well, I think that’s your answer. You have to trust that if God is bringing you to this place He is going to provide for you.”

And here we were. The last piece of furniture had been put together and there was nothing left to do but say goodbye. These two people who had spent a lifetime showing me what love was would be driving the thirteen hours back to their home and I would be here, in the middle of the country, on my own. We said our goodbyes and wiped away tears. Their smiles told me I was ready for this, but I’m pretty sure that was only in response to the fear they saw in my eyes. Well, fear and a little bit of nervous excitement.

Alone in my new space. Living on my own, well, with barely-less-than-stranger roommates. There was nothing left to do but get ready for the party and steel my nerves. I dressed and spent the rest of my time trying to straighten my long, unruly hair. I thought of my dad and the Arabic genes he’d passed on that gave me this thick, wiry mane. “See”, I told myself, “they’re still here.”

I found the address easy enough, and sent up a silent prayer of thanks for a wide space to pull my Jeep into. At least I wouldn’t have to practice my parallel parking tonight. I sat there in my car, working myself up to being more extroverted than my personality naturally fell when my phone rang. “Hey Beth, I know it’s your first night in town and some of us are going to welcome thing on campus if you want to join us.” I made a mental note of where to meet this new friend and hung up the phone with more confidence. As I walked towards the house I was greeted my two smiling faces. You’re not alone, my child. I am with you always. Like the flowers of the fields, your needs will be met in Me. His promise fluttered across my heart.

Introductions were made and the three of us returned to the party. “Oh my gosh, it’s him!” My heart screamed. I recognized the guy instantly. Our online journals had crossed paths when I joined an online group for Christian students before I came. “Wait” I thought, “Does this mean we’ll have to tell people we met online!? Oh my gosh, how embarrassing.” We passed through the house to a deck where the rest of the party-goers were already gathered and I sat beside this guy who was both familiar and mysterious.

“So,” I tried to open the conversation, “you spent your summer in Alaska. That sounds awesome. How was it?” “Good.” he replied. Um…okay. Not what I was expecting from the articulate writer who I’d come to know by reading his online journal entries. My mind flashed back to the night, still in New York, when I’d called my best friend Jessica.

“Oh my gosh, I’ve been sitting here crying for, like, an hour reading this guy’s journal.” She giggled at me a little, I’d always been the more dramatic one in our relationship. “Why are you doing that!?” she asked and I could hear the smile still lingering on her face. It was 2 a.m. and she was manning the phones of a women’s shelter back “home” in the town we grew up in. I told her about the guy. All that he had shared and how it had woven its way into my heart. “I just can’t stop reading” I told her. “Something about him is… Gah! I don’t know!” We spent some more time recounting what was happening on our favorite tv shows until our call was interrupted by a call to her line. Those calls were always a humble reminder of how sheltered we were.

I tried not to stare at the blond-haired, blue-eyed guy. Jessica and I only called him by his online moniker “anewpunk”. A thought ran across my mind, “I’ve honestly never seen someone so handsome in real life. And I’m talking to him. Well, sort of.” The conversation seemed hard. Was he trying to act cool? Did he not have anything to say to me? I continued on, “So, what kinds of things did you do there?” “I worked in a lumberyard. I drove a forklift.” “Me too! Well I work in a factory. But I drive a forklift, too.” The more we talked, the more he ever so slowly began to open up.

I glanced down at my watch and realized it was nearly time to leave if I was going to make it to the campus event. I said goodbye to the new friends made and walked back towards my car, feeling like a sliver of my heart had been left behind. Inside the safety of my Jeep, I immediately called my best friend. “I MET HIM! I MET ANEWPUNK.” “And, what was he like?” “He was… gorgeous! And kind of shy and awkward, which surprised me. But, and I know this is crazy… I feel connected to him. I feel like I’m supposed to be here. And I was supposed to meet him. I think this is the beginning of our story… and that kind of scares me.”

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[Whole Grain] Spelt Mountain Bread

When we first had Landon tested for allergens, his skin test only showed an allergy to eggs. And I agreed with that considering ingesting even the faintest amount of egg sent him into a vomitting frenzy. But here we are nine months later and I can count on one hand the number of “normal” dirty diapers the kid has had. [Why am I including this in a food post?!] I asked my allergist to re-test him and she declined [and we found a new allergist]. I asked my pediatrician for advice and he said it was either toddler liquid bowel syndrome or a food allergy. Since the first thing sounded fake [sorry Dr. K (Kidding. I’m sure that’s totally real. And totally awful)] I decided to start an elimination diet to see if I could clear it up. Landon doesn’t care for cheese and drinks almond milk anyway, so I decided gluten would be the first culprit to check.

I eliminated gluten from his diet and he stopped having awful diapers. I food tested him once with some pretzels [I’m not condoning food testing your own kids. It’s a scary business but our pediatrician suggested it.] and he immediately had a rough diaper that caused a rash everywhere the dirties touched. So, moral of the story: I have two wheat-free kids now. Because half of our family can’t have wheat, it made me question why I don’t have a from scratch gluten-free bread recipe that I love.

gluten free mountain bread | hey, beth baker!

I hate to say it but this isn’t the recipe that solved all of my gluten-free bread woes. I made my Mountain Bread recipe like normal but used a Bob’s Red Mill pizza crust mix for the flour and added 1/4 teaspoon of citric acid. I used the pizza crust mix because I was looking for a flour that was high in protein so that it would stretch and trap the gases from the yeast. I used the mix because I’m not a use fan of keeping more than eight or ten different kinds of flours on hand and a lot of bread recipes that I come across call for some rather obscure stuff. Well. The kids liked the bead. It was beyond edible, maybe even close to good. But it wasn’t the kind of recipe that I’d make to impress my gluten-free friends [If you have such a recipe, be a dear and share it in the comments section: don’t forget it has to be vegan.].

gluten free mountain bread | hey, beth baker!

The recipe was wonderfully soft but also a little dense and gummy. [Although I will say it made some superb toast the next day and stayed soft for a couple days.] So while I am going back to the books [and grain bulk bins] in search of the perfect recipe for gluten-free bread, I did find one that is going to work for our little family of four using spelt flour.

It’s probably a little confusing, but because Lucy and Landon are allergic to wheat and not gluten they can eat spelt flour. Spelt is an ancient grain and we’ll call it a cousin to wheat but there are a few differences. First, it’s more soluble [read: easier to digest] and secondly, it’s such a grain of antiquity that our bodies haven’t built up an allergy to it. Here: this explains it pretty well.

Spelt is so delicious. If you want to agree that it’s wheat’s cousin then it will be wheat’s light and hearty cousin that everybody loves from the first moment they meet. And really, more people should try it. NPR told me one-third of Americans are trying to give gluten the cold shoulder but I think those without obvious gluten aversions [celiac, diagnosed or not] should try to diversify their grains instead of giving them up. Whole grains are good; mixing it up is good.

So, this recipe was also based off my original Mountain Bread recipe.

spelt mountain bread | hey, beth baker!

Mountain Bread [with vegan adaptations]
Makes 1 loaf

starter:
3/8 cup warm water
1/2 tablespoon active dry yeast
a pinch of sugar

bread:
3/4 cup warm milk [almond milk]
1 1/2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter [earth balance vegan spread]
1 1/2 tablespoons honey [agave]
2 1/2 – 3 cups spelt flour
1/2 tablespoon salt

[If you want your bread to be light and airy make sure you’re measuring the flour by scooping it into the measuring cup with a spoon.]

Start off by mixing the warm water [about 100F, but I don’t usually use a thermometer], yeast, and sugar. Let it sit for about 10 minutes.

spelt mountain bread | hey, beth baker!

While this is resting, heat up the milk and butter. After the starter has rested, add the milk and butter, honey, flour, and salt. Mix until JUST coherently blended and cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. Let it rise for 30 minutes. [*Listen up: this is important. Spelt isn’t like wheat flour. It’s more of a delicate flower. This is for sure a no-knead bread. Mix it until everything is combined and let it be. The spelt gluten isn’t as tough as wheat gluten so it will become dense if you give it a heavy hand.]

spelt mountain bread | hey, beth baker!

Because it’s chilly here, my bread needed a warm and cozy place to do its rising so I put it on top of my toaster oven and turned the oven on for a couple minutes. Some ovens have ‘proof’ settings or otherwise you could put your rising bread on your oven rack with a bowl of boiling water below. Heat your oven up to the lowest setting it will give you [maybe something like 170F to 200F] and then turn the oven off and leave the rising dough in the oven. If you have a cold or drafty kitchen that should give your bread a leg up.

spelt mountain bread | hey, beth baker!

Punch down the dough and let it rest for 30 more minutes. After 30 minutes transfer the dough to a baking mat or parchment. It is a loose dough but let it rise for another 45 minutes. Now would be a good time to preheat your oven to 375F.

spelt mountain bread | hey, beth baker!

About 20 minutes into the last rise you might realize the dough is spreading too much. I like to pull the sides of the bread back to the top and make it look a bit more like the mountain it was named for [whip it into shape]. You can see where the bread was before I pulled the sides up. After that I sprinkled the top with flour, you know for the snow-capped mountains. It’s not necessary but you could add it and then tell all your friends you made your own artisan bread. ;)

spelt mountain bread | hey, beth baker!

After the final rest, bake the bread for 25-30 minutes. I transfer it to and from the oven with a pizza peel. You should be able to knock on the bread and hear a soft hollow sound when it’s done.

spelt mountain bread | hey, beth baker!

I like to serve ours with some faux honey butter. Put a couple tablespoons of butter in the microwave [not too long] to soften and then stir a teaspoon or so of honey. Somehow having “fresh” honey butter makes it feel like a feast!

spelt mountain bread | hey, beth baker!

I’m not giving up my quest for a hearty, delicious gluten-free, vegan bread. In fact I’m committing to trying out a few more recipes and different flours. And hoping we don’t have too many bread failures before I find “the one”.

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Being A Good Mama On A Bad Day

How to be a good parent on a bad day

Through my later years of college [partly before I was even of legal drinking age] I spent my weekends working various shifts in a beer factory. I drove a forklift and operated heavy machinery like can fillers and bottle labelers. The hours were rough, but I genuinely loved that job. I would come home disgusting and covered with this slimy, gooey substance we affectionately referred to as ‘beer snot’ that formed on the machines when the yeast from the beer spilled onto the line and mixed with soap and hot water. Some days I would spend my entire shift alone with a high powered hose, in a protective suit, cleaning production lines and getting them ready for the next week. It was hard work. And It was great. Looking back now, I realize one reason I loved that job was the thinking time. Earplugs were required and many of the jobs were a solitary affair. That left me alone with my thoughts and, honestly, some much needed time to get some clarity for my I’m-on-the-brink-of-adulthood brain. [Consequently it’s also when I started journaling: super therapeutic.] A lot of facets of that job translate into stay-at-home motherhood: crazy hours, learning new tasks, being responsible for having productive days, and the feeling of always being covered in questionable substances. But there were also a few things that were different: 16 hour work weeks instead of 168, production goals and accomplishments, lunch breaks, training, and obviously being paid.

What’s crazy about that job is that in the three years I worked there I can only count maybe a handful of “bad” days. It was low stress, for sure. And like I said, I loved that job. So the crazy part is that the love I have for this motherhood gig makes the love I felt for my factory worker days seem inconsequential. I don’t think being a stay-at-home mom is the right job or even possible for everyone, but I daily thank God that he has made this possible for me. It’s my dream job. The thing nine-year-old me said I wanted to be when I grew up. But it’s not without bad days. Well, I’ll call them challenging days. And if we’re being totally honest, there aren’t many weeks that go by where it doesn’t feel like one day out of the seven brings more woahs, ohs, and woes than I feel capable of combating.

At the end of a long and rather challenging day last week, I wondered if there was a way to be a good mom on a bad day. I’m all for writing down advice to my future self; using the hindsight from yesterday to help me out tomorrow. So I reflected on some things I do [or want to do] that work to turn a bad day in the right direction.

Start Your Day Off Right
Lately I’ve started reading the Jesus Storybook Bible out loud before we start the day. When everyone is gathered around the table at breakfast we break it open and read a few stories. The kids LOVE it. Like, it’s sort of surprising to me how much they are enjoying it. They’re shouting “More Bible please! Oh, and more cereal.” and it’s making my heart swell. I liked this post on the resources this mama is using for their family worship time [and even ordered a couple things to fill up the Easter baskets].

Pray
Pray for yourself. Patience, strength, endurance, and forgiveness: whatever’s on your heart.
Pray for your kids. Discipline, hearts after His, love.
Pray with your kids. Ask them to pray for you. Show them that you too are a weak sinner in need of God’s grace. There’s a good chance that showing them this sliver of weakness can help you avoid them instead seeing a mom reach her boiling point after keeping things in and having all of your sin spewing out for all to see [In my head there’s totally an image of a monster dragon mama. Don’t be a monster dragon mama].
Pray verses over them and over yourself. You’re not always going to have the words to speak. And sometimes silence is okay; God knows the depths of your heart. But praying God’s word can bring you a super peace. To make this easier you should [I should] make a list of a few verses for such an occasion. I’ve started my list here but I’d love it if you added one of your own in the comments. Let’s encourage one another. Let’s.
Ask other people to pray for you. Shoot your husband an email. Give your own wisdown-bearing mama a call. Send your friends a text. You don’t even have to be too specific, just ask them to pray for you.

Be Honest.
Truth? Sometimes it’s more about the kids interrupting something I want to accomplish that day than them being little boogers. So when I feel myself getting annoyed I need to ask myself [and be honest with myself], “What’s really going on right now?”. Is it just a disobedient child [sometimes] or is it that I have an agenda and they’re muddying it [sigh…sometimes]. Is what I’m doing right now more important than what they’re asking from me with their words or actions? Can I put off scrubbing the kitchen floor to play with them on the living room floor? Do I really need to check facebook…again? Did I keep them out past nap-time or lunchtime? It’s hard, but when I am honest with myself I find that, unfortunately, sometimes I’m at the root of their less-than-desirable behavior. And I’m served a great, big helping of humble pie.

Put On Some Music
Maybe it’s praise music or a station your best friend Pandora hand-picked just for you. Maybe it’s the Breaking Dawn II soundtrack [um, not that I bought that…]. Maybe it’s Mozart and you hold a living room ballet class with your dance-loving daughter. It is amazing how adding music to the madness can bring such calm.

Write A Letter To Your Troublemaker
My lovely Lucy is a passionate, energetic kid. She brings so much laughter and joy to our family. But, since she was barely toddling, she’s had a bit of an alter ego. It’s definitely a small part of who she is, but when Juicy comes out… everybody else better look out. When her alter ego comes to spend an afternoon, one of the things I like to do is sit down and write a letter to Lucy. It helps me to conjure up the cute, funny, and lasting memories and puts the temporary, craze-inducing ones into perspective. Here’s a recent letter:

My Sweet Girl,

Today you walked up to your Daddy and gave him a piece of paper. When he asked you what it was you told him it was an e-mail to all your friends letting them know you were having a birthday party at your house and they should come right over. And we smiled big, gleaming smiles that parents can’t contain when their children fill their hearts with love [when they feel impossibly full already]. But it makes me sad when you hip-check your brother. Siblings are like the built-in best friends God grants you and one of my strongest prayers is that you and Landon would share a long, lasting, love-flled relationship that will draw you both closer to God. I pray that in the times when you need someone by your side, he’ll be there for you. So next time he’s crowding your space at the sandbox, let’s try to say, “Pardon me, brother.” and find a different place to build your moats.

With All My Love,
Mama

So, after giggling through a note like that, it’s easy for me to remember that these are the trials and challenges a three-year-old faces. And I usually try to include what I’m praying for. I want them to know that I’m praying throughout the day and that nothing is too small for the ears of their Father.

Break Your Own Rules
There are a few rules that I am okay breaking on bad days. For example, normally we watch two shows a day. It works for us. I’m not saying more or less is better or worse, I’ll leave that argument to someone else, some other time. But when bad days come we bring all the blankets to the living room floor, pile up pillows aplenty, and pop some kettlecorn. We pick a movie or [usually] a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse DVD they’ve seen thousands of times and just relax. I don’t feel pressure about the craft or activity I had planned for the day. I don’t feel the need to clean the please-nobody-show-up-unannounced bathroom. I just snuggle. And break up popcorn fights. [It’s also a good time to steal away to the dining room table and soak up God’s Word. But only after you get some snuggles in. Those snuggles have some serious healing power.] It’s glorious. These are the same days I’m not worried about laundry. These are the same days where we spend hours [and hours] outside. Sometimes all it takes to break out of a funk is a little change of routine. Speaking of changing up the routine…

Hug It Out
No, I’m serious. When you find a beautiful sharpie drawing all over the living room wall. When there’s a one-sided wrestling match. When little fingers unravel a brand new roll of toilet paper… hug.it.out. It’s hard to remember why you’re mad at someone when you’re showing them some lovin’. Side note: this works really well in marriage, too. Who doesn’t love a good hug!?

Go
I see it most when we’ve been home too many days in a row but sometimes a little change of scenery is all it takes to shake the grumpies out. We are so blessed to live in an area with so many parks and free places for a mid-day escape. It is an incredible cure-all. Sometimes we invite ourselves to a friend’s house and drink their coffee and enjoy their company [thanks, friends]. The simple act of changing our surroundings is enough to turn a bad day good.

But if none of that works pull up some cute pictures and peruse away.

how to be a good parent on a bad day.

how to be a good parent on a bad day

Orange Cranberry Scones

orange cranberry scones [with vegan adaptations] | hey, beth baker!

I hesitate to share this recipe because… it’s amazing. I know that’s sort of selfish but this is my back pocket recipe. The one I pull out when I want to impress people. It doesn’t let me down. It freezes well, it’s easy, and it re-heats well. Best of all, this is one of the few recipes I have that translated well from conventional to vegan. This recipe, my friends, is a gem.

As we’re entering [what I hope to be] the last days of winter, I’ve decided that instead of disparaging the season with my disdain I would embrace the culinary creations winter affords us. Because, after all, there are a few things about winter that I’ll miss when the season passes.

One of my favorite winter flavor combinations is orange cranberry so I adapted our favorite scone recipe to suit it.

orange cranberry scones [with vegan adaptations] | hey, beth baker!

Orange Cranberry Scones [vegan adaptations]
adapted from King Arthur Flour’s Basic Scones
makes 16

3 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup non-fat dry milk [soy milk powder]
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
4 tablespoons cold butter, diced [Earth’s Balance Buttery Sticks]
4 tablespoons shortening
2 large eggs [Ener-g Egg Replacer]
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup orange juice
zest from 2 oranges [you can use less if you don’t love orange zest]
1/4 cup cranberries

1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon milk [almond or soy milk]
Raw sugar, to sprinkle

Preheat oven to 450F.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, dry milk, salt, baking powder, and orange zest. Cut the butter and shortening into the dry ingredients with a fork, until you have small pea-sized crumbles.

orange cranberry scones [with vegan adaptations] | hey, beth baker!

Add the eggs, vanilla, and orange juice [if you juice two oranges and don’t have quite enough you could fill the rest of the way with milk, or replace the orange juice with milk altogether].

orange cranberry scones [with vegan adaptations] | hey, beth baker!

You will have a dry batter but if you fold it together and knead it with your hands it will come together to form a ball. Turn it out on a floured surface and knead until cohesive. Divide into two balls. Press out on parchment into two circles, and then cut into 8 wedges. Separate the wedges to give them at least an inch on all sides. [p.s. you’re looking for a kind of dry biscuit dough, if you’ve ever made those. If it seems way too dry you might have to add a little milk, like a tablespoon at a time. ]

orange cranberry scones [with vegan adaptations] | hey, beth baker!

Put the coconut oil and milk together in a microwave safe dish and heat until the oil is just melted. Brush onto the scones and then sprinkle the sugar on top [if you don’t keep coconut oil handy you could use one beaten egg with one tablespoon of water for an egg wash to give your scones that beautiful golden color].

Bake the scones for 7 minutes on your pre-heated stone. Turn the oven off and leave the scones inside. Leave them in for 10 more minutes.

Best enjoyed warm and with a friend so that you’ll have to exhibit some modicum of restraint.

orange cranberry scones [with vegan adaptations] | hey, beth baker!

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