Category Archives: drinks

gingerbread latte

Remember when I used to blog?  Yeah, sorry it’s been awhile.
I would tell you everything that has happened since I last posted, but it’s almost unbelievable. Not sure I even believe it. Let’s just say it’s been a little slice of crazy…
Monday starts S week at preschool. (Can anyone say Swamped? 🙂
But, there’s always time to give a great big shout out for the little things to love…
for signs and sounds and smells of spring,

for a dry basement, and driving around it on a Saturday morning, 

homemade finger painting on a Sunday afternoon,

the wonder of an ant farm, and me wondering for the first time ever how in the world to keep these ants alive?!

afternoons with friends, and adorable littles, and all the nespressos I want 🙂

the anticipation of dad coming home,

a 65-degree day in February!!!

no better place to clear the mind,

to hear loud and clear:

that You, O God, are strong,
and that You, O Lord, are loving.
~ psalm 62.11-12
filling me in on their day,
flourless chocolate cookies, and dear friends to share them with, 

Calvin and Hobbes before bed (or anytime, really),

quiet evenings with my love,

and homemade gingerbread lattes
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/8 t. ground ginger
1 t. blackstrap molasses

1 t. honey
1 t. pure vanilla extract
1 cup milk of choice {I use a mixture of 1/4 c. almond milk, 3/4 c. regular milk}
1/4 strong coffee {I like mine on the stronger side, so I use 1/3-ish cup}

Mix everything but the coffee together in a small pan and heat. Add hot, strong coffee to milk mixture, once desired temperature is reached. Strain into a mug. You may like it sweeter, so add sugar if needed. Be sure to feel really good that 
you just made this for pennies and Starbucks would have charged you atleast $3.55 for it. 
And add it to your list of “little things” that make a crazy day special 🙂

5 things

I hope you don’t mind if we return to the land of food blog for a bit.  Nothing like 6 inches of snow or boys home sick from school nudges me into the kitchen to try out some new recipes.  ‘Cuz some days digging out the car for a trip to the store feels far more cumbersome than digging in the pantry and pulling together what you’ve got.  

Here’s 5 of my kitchen favorites from the week: 
1.  Diana Krall {Holiday} on Pandora, non-stop.  
{Yes, that is a turkey in a football uniform hanging on the fridge and a Bionicle dancing to Harry Connick Jr…those are some of my favorites too.}

2.  Jalapeño-Goat Cheese-Prosciutto-Cream Cheese Dip…need I say more?  
Ok.  Yes, I do…

Roast 5-7 jalapenos (cut in half, take the seeds out, drizzle with olive oil, roast at 400 for 15 minutes.) Chop them well.
Blend jalapenos with 4 oz. goat cheese, 8 oz. cream cheese (softened).
Place in baking dish.
Top with 2 oz. prosciutto ham, chopped.
Bake at 350 until prosciutto is crisp (15-20 minutes).
Serve with tortilla chips.

3.  Homemade Hot Chocolate 
This is one of those recipes I came across in desperation after promising boys playing in the snow hot chocolate when they came in…only to realize we were out of the powdered mix.  So because I would rather google and make than bundle and scrape…  {Edit: Thanks LKL for pointing out the irony of having prosciutto on hand, but not hot chocolate mix 🙂 Confession: We’re a little obsessed with that dip, and it’s easy to throw together for company, so there’s usually prosciutto in the freezer.}

I used this recipe, but increased cocoa powder to 3/4 cup and used sucanat instead of sugar.  I also made our hot chocolate with half whole milk-half coconut milk, and no one seemed to mind 🙂  
4.  Trail Mix Cookies
*Vegetarian*Gluten Free*Dairy Free*SO Yummy!
½ cup peanut butter 
½ cup almond butter 
{You could use all peanut or all almond butter, or a mixture of what you have}

1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup packed sucanat or brown sugar
½ cup raisins
½ cup oats {I use GF}
¼ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup maple syrup
1 large egg
½ tsp vanilla
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 350⁰F.  Place all of the ingredients together in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Mix on medium speed until the ingredients are well incorporated. Drop generous tablespoons of dough onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes until cookies are set, but still soft.  Remove from the oven and let cool on the cookie sheet.  Makes 2 dozen…which are gone way too fast!!  

Source: (adapted with what we had in the pantry)

Try to snatch a few before all the hungry critters do!

 5.  Not sure what to call this…Stovetop Potpourri?

We’ve been peeling and eating lots of oranges these days, and I’ve been saving the peels in the fridge, then putting them in a pan with water, 2 cinnamon sticks, some whole allspice and cloves.  Set to simmer, and sit back and enjoy the wafting scent of a Winter Wonderland.
6.  Ok, maybe one more…
Because it’s truly the little things that brighten a day. 
The boys have all had colds this week (hence all the oranges…)  Jack literally lost his voice yesterday.  Poor guy, that’s rough for a 7 yr. old!  But, I can’t say I mind all the cuddles and…boy, our house is quiet! 🙂  

Wishing you and yours a lovely weekend, full of your favorites! 
Or, if you’re home caring for sick ones, full of noticing and enjoying the little things…

It is not how much we have, 
but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness. 
~ Charles Spurgeon

homemade pumpkin spice creamer

I remember the first time I read Ann’s words

Today, the moment when I am most repelled by a child’s behavior, 
that is my sign to draw the very closest to that child.

It goes against every parenting grain in my body.  You think when a kid is acting up, they *just* need discipline, not pop.  {Not that we don’t deal with the wrong behavior.  Not that drawing near means buying a special treat – it is often sitting down together with a bug book or a box of legos.  Insert a whole lot of other disclaimers, because this could be way misconstrued.}
But the more I do it, the more I am convinced Ann is onto something.  Entering into their world gives you a platform for talking about heart matters.  
Don’t we want to take advantage of every second we can of that, while we are still welcome?
So, after a big week and a full weekend ahead, I opted to spend the first hour with my boy on a date.  His choice.

 Of course…
Just one hour with the boy who dances to the beat of his own drum, 
who takes the path less traveled,
who over and over draws me outside to take in the beauty in all seasons.
 Just entering his world can do wonders…for the both of us.
Perhaps one of the other best discoveries of the week…

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Creamer!!!

Has anyone else picked up a container of flavored creamer only to scan the ingredients and have no idea how to pronounce them, let alone know what they are?  This may have happened to me more than once…
So, when I saw this recipe, I couldn’t wait to try it.  
Then after making it, it came to me…

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Creamer
(with ingredients you can pronounce 🙂
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup homemade pumpkin spice syrup
Mix well in a container.  Shake before pouring into coffee.

{Preferably in a pink to-go mug on a walk with your middle child, 
letting him lead the way and talk about what he wants to talk about, 
smiling wide when he comes home to tell his dad “That was so much fun!!”}

tropical smoothie

For our school’s out bonfire, we went to roast marshmallows and, lo and behold, not a marshmallow to be found!  I started scouring the kitchen for a substitute – we have roasted foil packets of apple slices with butter, cinnamon, brown sugar and oats over the fire before and those were a hit…but we were out of apples…
The leftover pineapple in the fridge caught my eye, along with the yogurt and orange juice, and a recipe was in the making for a refreshing summer treat. 
Tropical Smoothie
1 cup plain yogurt*
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 of a banana
1 cup fresh-sliced pineapple (or frozen pineapple)
1/4 cup coconut (I use unsweetened coconut powder)
Blend and serve.  
Drink and be refreshed!

*If you like it sweeter, add some honey or the other half of the banana, or substitute sweetened yogurt.
Also, I doubled this for our family, but we are a ravenous bunch.

Not another word was said about a marshmallow…
I love it when being out of something makes way for something even better!


But first, let there be lights!
We are two-light-choices away from being done!  
With ordering the lighting, that is…
We have yet to get drywall, but hey, it is looking alot different than it did 19 weeks ago… But who’s counting?
Our lighting has all come from home depot online (except the dining).
Here they are!

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for!
The dining room light…I’m sure the suspense has been killing you 🙂  
Drum roll please…

From the previous light post, the first 2 turned out to be on back order, and the last two were more than we wanted to spend.  
But we found this beauty, and love her so!
Calhoun Glass Pendant
We just need to decide on pendants that will go over the kitchen counter.

Also, for the boys’ room, I wanted to make something fun like:
Skateboard Pendant in Chrome

Or, I like the style of this pendant, and it’s so versatile:
Cargo Hold Lantern Hanging Lamp
But, it may hang too low, so it may just have to be something more:

TIVED Ceiling spotlight  Max. height: 28
This week we need to finalize door knobs, kitchen cabinet knobs, and tile.
Decisions, decisions, decisions…
By the time we get this house finished, I may be able to walk into Starbucks and actually know what to order in a timely fashion!

Until then, we are working on our affogatos, without an espresso machine, and without being in Italy.  Affogato is an Italian way to enjoy ice cream—it’s literally “drowned” in espresso.  That’s what classy people tell me anyway.

Affogato, Royer-ized
(for those who don’t have an espresso machine)
1. Brew 3 strong cups of coffee in a french press: Steep 1/2 cup freshly ground coffee in 3 cups boiling water for 4 minutes.  
(We’re a little “coffee-snobbish” about this, so we use freshly-home-roasted-coffee-by-Andy, but any good drinking coffee should do.)

2. Scoop up some vanilla ice cream.  (Chocolate would be yum mocha-ey too)
3. Pour strong coffee over ice cream.

4. Voilà!  Affogato!

5. Serve as a delicious treat to impress all your classy friends.  
Maybe just don’t give to 3 boys right before bed, though…Just sayin’ 🙂

Enjoy your long weekend all!

homemade chai

I have the most vivid memory from first grade, when my mom picked me up from school, and we headed up to Rolling Acres mall for the night.  It was a few weeks before Christmas, and we did some shopping.  I can’t recall where we ate or what we bought.  But I remember sitting in the front seat of that brown station wagon, feeling so special and the drive home in the dark like it was yesterday.  Well, one of my most favorite things as a parent is to plan such memories for our kids.  So, today we’ll pick up Miles from school, and head over to Fort Wayne.  We’ll take in the lights along the way, belt out Christmas carols in the car, sit in a coffee shop, drink our hot beverages of choice, make memories. 

Memories don’t need to cost money or be elaborate.  But they ought to be intentional.  It can be as simple as traditions like Friday night pizza or Saturday morning pancakes or Sunday night popcorn or New Year’s Eve fondue.  And, they don’t have to be about food either (although, lots of ours are 🙂  Evenings gathered around for a Bible story and songs.  Scratching backs at bedtime, letting them ask any little question on their mind.  Morning prayers.  Books read on a lap.  Drives around the neighborhood to look at Christmas lights.  People gathered, welcoming, serving, caring. 

Wishing you all a memorable weekend!  
Ours will be spent unplugged 🙂  
Until then, here are some sweet memories from the week past…

Jude getting to hold his “teeny tiny baby”

After-dinner puppet shows with friends for the grown-ups

Decking the halls!


Chai for two during Ju Ju’s afternoon nap 

Homemade Chai
For 2 cups of chai:
Measure out 2 mug-fulls of milk, pour in pan.  Add 2 heaping soup spoon-fulls of loose-leaf black tea (I use Taj Mahal black tea from the Indian grocery store in Ft. Wayne).  Add 2 spoon-fulls of sucanat (or honey or sugar).  Heat over medium-high, stirring.  Add 2 generous pinches of Tea Masala (a chai spice mix from the Indian grocery, that includes cardamom, cinnamon, ginger – I’ve also just used cardamom and cinnamon before).  Heat and stir until the caramel color you will see below.  Strain and enjoy 🙂  

Another way, for larger groups:
Serves 6
Combine 6 cups of water and 6 tea bags, bring to boil, then let steep for 5 minutes.  Take out teabags and add:
2 cups milk
1/2 cup honey
10 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
4 cardamom seeds, crushed (or 1/2 teaspoon of powdered cardamom)
Heat on low (do not let milk boil) for 20 minutes.  Strain and serve.
Source: Ms. Friedbaharaj

wheatgrass smoothies for a monday morning

Well, hello Sunday after a wonderful break, eve before everyone goes their separate ways during the day blues…
What an incredibly relaxing, fun weekend.  We’ve played hard, pounded a lot of nails into wood, made a cardboard computer complete with feathers, countless drawings, decked the halls, laughed with family and friends, journeyed together.  
Wednesday, the bus brought us an agitated boy who was in great need of some time off.  So, I approach tomorrow with a bit of uncertainty.  I hate to see them go.  But I gear myself up to make the moments with them what matters.  
I’ll be fine.  Zumba in the morning.  And our wheatgrass is in need of a good trim, so we’ll begin the day with grass clippings in our smoothies.  Not like dancing and smoothies in the morning is what makes me fine (but it’s fun too look forward to 🙂  
I just keep walking, one foot in front of the other, trusting the guiding hand of our Maker and learning to let these precious little ones do the same.

wheatgrass smoothies
1 cup plain yogurt (or vanilla yogurt, but then you won’t need honey)
1-2 inches clipped wheatgrass
2 T. honey (or to your taste)
1 1/2 cups strawberries, frozen
1 banana (have used frozen before)
Add ingredients in this order to the blender.  Mix until smooth.  Adjust to your liking.

The new Martin’s has wheatgrass!!!  It was 2.99 for a container, but I planted it and we’ve already had 5 rounds of smoothies.  You can use other fruit.  This happens to be our favorite combo, but blueberries, raspberries, peaches all go nicely too.  I’ve found the banana sweetens it so I don’t have to use much honey.  If we ever have more over-ripe bananas than we’re gonna eat (which rarely happens with 3 boys :), I peel them, throw them in a freezer bag, then use them at a later time for this or banana bread.