"Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored." --Titus 2:3-5

Monday, August 3, 2015

Whole Wheat Bread Recipe

For the past several months, I have been making bread for my family. I received a grain mill for Christmas, and it has been a wonderful addition to my kitchen tools! After reviewing several recipes, I've come up with a recipe that, so far, has been working great for us. I'm sharing it on my blog so that I get it written down somewhere other than my brain, and so that whoever else might want it can have it. I've not tried it with regular flour, but I'm sure it would work fine. Some of you are probably wondering, why in the world I'm bothering to make my own bread. Some of you are also wondering how on earth I have time to get it done. First, I'm making bread so I can know what is in it. If you've ever tried to read the ingredients on packaged bread, you've probably noticed that there are far too many ingredients than are necessary to make bread, and half of them you can hardly pronounce and probably have no idea what they are! Second, I try to make bread on my day off from work. I run errands or do chores while it rises. It really doesn't add that much extra time to my day. If I'm not able to do it on my day off, Sunday afternoons work well, too. I can set it to rise while I'm at choir practice. Since the recipe makes 2 loaves, I freeze one to use later in the week. If I make bread on Monday, the loaf lasts until around Thursday or Friday. The second loaf will last until I make more loaves. There are schedule glitches every once in a while, but for the most part it's working well. I've also started making hot dog buns, but that is still a work in progress :)

Whole Wheat Bread (makes 2 loaves)


4-6 cups freshly milled hard white wheat flour

1 heaping Tbsp instant yeast

4 Tbsp melted butter

1/4 cup honey

2 cups warm water (approx 120 degrees F)

2 tsp salt

1 egg


In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, stir together 3 cups of flour and 1 Tbsp yeast until well combined. Add salt to warm water and stir to dissolve completely. Add to mixer egg, honey, and melted butter. Mix well. Slowly add warm water/salt combination and mix well. Switch to dough hook attachment. Add flour 1 cup at a time until dough comes away from sides and climbs hook. You can continue kneading dough in the mixer if you like, but I prefer to do the rest by hand. Remove rings :) Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Knead until dough is smooth and elastic, adding only enough flour to keep dough from sticking to hands and surface (approx 8-10 minutes). Place dough in lightly oiled bowl covered with towel (turn dough in bowl to lightly coat with oil so it doesn't stick to bowl or towel). Set to rise in draft free place until doubled in size (1-2 hours). Turn dough out and divide into 2 equal pieces. Roll each piece into rectangle, being careful to remove all air bubbles. Tightly roll dough into loaves, tucking in ends, and place in well-greased loaf pans. Cover with towel and let rise until doubled again, about an hour. Bake in 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when thumped. Remove from pans and cool on cooling rack. When loaves are completely cooled, you can place in bags. This bread freezes well. I order my bread bags from Amazon. I highly recommend getting a slicing guide to help you if you are using the bread for sandwiches.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Homemade Baby Wipes

Here is the baby wipes recipe that I use:

1/2 roll paper towels (cloth-like towels like Bounty or Viva--don't use the cheap ones!)

2 tbsp unscented castile soap (I use Dr. Bronner's baby mild)

1-2 tbsp sweet almond oil (sometimes I use a combination of sweet almond and castor oil)

2 drops lavender essential oil

1-2 drops tea tree essential oil

1 1/2 cups distilled or boiled (and cooled) water

Stir water, oil, soap, and essential oils together and pour over paper towels. The lavender and tea tree oils will help prevent mold/mildew growth on the paper towels. If you don't want to use paper towels, you can store the solution in a spray bottle and spray a clean cloth before wiping baby's bottom. You could also spray on a paper towel instead of soaking them. You can either store the roll of paper towels upright in a plastic container if you have one that will fit, or you can fold the towels accordion style and store in rectangle container. I use ziploc watermelon containers and can fit 1/4 roll folded in each container. I pour 1/2 the solution in each container. You may have to adjust how you pour the solution to make sure that the towels are evenly saturated. Adjust water amount as needed. If you're storing the paper towel roll upright, after soaking towels, remove the cardboard tube (it will slide out easily if you wait until after you've poured in the solution and the tube is wet).

Here is a picture of the watermelon container that I use. I have two containers, which is perfect for us because I can keep one upstairs and one downstairs.

Mac-n-Cheese Victory!

Ok, I have a confession to make...I love "blue box" mac-n-cheese! I am not particularly fond of homemade mac-n-cheese and have yet to find a recipe that is close to my beloved "blue box," until today! My oldest daughter, Emily, wanted mac-n-cheese for lunch, and to my dismay, we had no boxes in the pantry. I admit that I am trying to feed my children less processed foods, but the mac-n-cheese has not changed much except for occasionally swapping the traditional for an organic variety. The times that I do slave over homemade, my children do not eat it, and I end up frustrated. Well, today, I decided I would try again. They had eaten peanut butter and jelly for dinner last night, and I didn't think it was a good option for lunch today (I feel they might turn into peanut butter and jelly sandwiches one of these days). I cracked open one of my cookbooks and found a lovely recipe for mac-n-cheese. Unfortunately, it called for Gruyere, which I do not have. It was also a very large recipe and suggested a 30 minute baking time which I also did not have. I cut the recipe in half, reconstructed it to fit my needs, and voila!! This is the closest I have come to "blue box" mac-n-cheese, and Emily ate 2 servings! This recipe is yummy and creamy and wonderful (at least Emily and I think so), so I wanted to share it with you in case you would like to try it. I used traditional boxed mac-n-cheese pasta because I have lots of it leftover from my sister. She lives in Africa and when she comes home to visit, she buys lots of boxed mac-n-cheese. She only takes the packets of sauce mix with her and I end up with all the pasta (it cuts down on the weight added to her suitcase). You could use whatever pasta you want. Here we go:

Easy, Creamy Mac-n-Cheese

1/2 pound macaroni

2 cups milk (I recommend whole milk but I used 1 1/2 cups 1% milk and a 1/2 cup half and half because that's what I had)

3 tbsp butter

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups shredded medium cheddar cheese (you could use 1 cup cheddar and 1 cup Gruyere, or whatever you want to use)

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground pepper

pinch to 1/4 tsp nutmeg (you can leave it out if you don't have it...no big deal)

In large pot of salted, boiling water, boil pasta until al dente. In saucepan over medium to medium low heat, melt butter and then whisk in flour. Continue whisking and cooking for 1-2 minutes. Slowly add in milk and bring mixture to a simmer, whisking continuously until sauce has thickened. Off the heat, stir in cheese, salt, pepper, and nutmeg until smooth. Stir in pasta. At this point I fed my girls because I didn't have time to bake the mac-n-cheese. If you want to bake the mixture, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Pour mixture into greased 2 quart casserole dish. Top with sliced fresh tomatoes (2 small). Melt 1 tbsp butter and combine with 1/2 to 3/4 cup bread crumbs. Sprinkle mixture over top of mac-n-cheese and tomatoes. Bake 20-30 minutes until sauce is bubbly and macaroni is browned on the top.

Creamy cheese sauce!

Finished product!

Recipe adapted from "Mac & Cheese" in Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa Family Style


Monday, September 5, 2011

Reflections on Matthew 7:21-23

Matthew 7:21-23 was the passage of Scripture that my pastor preached from yesterday, so I thought I would share a little bit about it. In case you don't have your Bible handy, here is the passage: "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'"

This can be a bit of a haunting passage because there are so many in this world who think they're "okay," but they are very far from God. Some of them, unfortunately, are sitting in the church pews every Sunday! Many others are relying on their church membership to somehow save them. They may not attend church anymore, but they have their name on a piece of paper somewhere, so they think that's enough. Our pastor shared a quote from G. Campbell Morgan, "The blasphemy of the sanctuary is far more awful than the blasphemy of the slum." I agree completely. The people in the church should be the ones shining Christ's light to those around them. The people in the church should be authentic Christians! That in no way means that they are perfect, and I don't believe that's what this passage of Scripture is saying. It does mean, though, that their hearts have been changed by Christ, and they have a relationship with Him. It's not about "religion!" It's about a relationship with Jesus Christ. Americans especially are guilty. We've learned the language and how to "look" like a Christian, doing all sorts of "religious" activities, but it's our hearts that matter to God! It's the same as in the Scripture passage. These people looked like Christians and performed lots of good deeds and even miracles. The problem is that their hearts were far from God.

Am I saying that we shouldn't go to church or do religious activities? Certainly not!! While I know that going to church does not make you a Christian, staying away from the church doesn't necessarily make you a better one. Yes, there are problems with our churches, but that's largely because the church is full of humans! Just because we may be Christians, doesn't mean we're no longer sinners. We are not "sinless," but we should be trying to "sin less." Being Christians, we have the power of the Holy Spirit to help us do just that! Even though our "good deeds" don't save us, they should be the fruit of having a relationship with Christ. They are evidence of our love for God and one way that we shine His light to those around us. People should be able to see something different about us!

So if saying we're a Christian, going to church, or performing religious activities doesn't reveal authentic faith, what does? It's our relationship with Christ! It's our hearts! We need to be developing a closer relationship with Christ everyday. How do we do that? Spiritual disciplines! Our pastor shared a quote from Bill Hull, "The spiritual disciplines are to transformation what calisthenics are to sport." What are some of these disciplines? Here are a few: prayer, Bible study, worship, evangelism (sharing your faith), and service. There are others, but those are some of the basics. Great books on these disciplines are Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald S. Whitney and Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster.

The challenge from our pastor was to consider our lives and see if we find evidences of Christ. If we don't see any evidences of Him in our lives, then maybe we're not truly Christians. If you don't have a love for Christ, if you don't have a passion for the things of God, then you need to realize that you may not be saved. If that's the case, then please (TODAY!) get on your knees and pray! Acknowledge before God that you are a sinner. Thank Him for sending His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross, paying the penalty for your sin. Ask Him to forgive you of all your sin and to come into your heart and change your life. Take this first step and then take time to spend with Him every single day. It can be as simple as reading a passage of Scripture and then praying to God. You can lift up prayers to Him throughout your day! Find a church where you can fellowship with other Christians and learn more about God's Word and how to share your faith with others. If you have any questions about becoming a Christian, feel free to e-mail me or call me(if you have my number). I would love to talk with you!

Friday, September 2, 2011

No More Dryer Sheets!

Alright ladies it's time to try something different! I decided this week to try to get rid of my dryer sheets. Why? Well, for a few reasons. One is that dryer sheets are full of chemicals, including synthetic fragrances, that aren't necessarily good for my family or the environment. Also, they've been known to coat dryer lint trays, and they leave a coating of residue on clothes. A third reason is that it's just fun to try and make something yourself!! Well, I tried this recipe, and it works!! Not just a little bit; it really works! I will say that using the essential oil in the recipe is not incredibly necessary. Your clothes don't really retain any scent other than that of your detergent (unless you're using fragrance free or soap nuts or something). I used 15-18 sprays for a large load of laundry. You'll probably want to cut it back to 10-15 for a regular or smaller load because you might notice a faint smell of vinegar if you don't. So here's the recipe (from crunchybetty.com):

2 cups white vinegar
3 tsp eucalyptus essential oil (I used tea tree because I didn't have eucalyptus, but you could really use anything you want)
spray bottle

Just mix all the ingredients in a spray bottle and shake well! You'll need to shake well before you use it, too, because essential oils will separate from the vinegar. When you put your wet clothes in the dryer, simply spray them with the vinegar mixture and start the dryer. Simple!! Now, when I washed some of my girls' soft blankets (you know those really soft baby blankets) there was some static when I pulled them out of the dryer, but the regular clothes were just fine and static-free. On the rare occasion that my husband does laundry, he uses two dryer sheets/load. Even he didn't notice a difference! Give it a try!

Reflections on a Summer of Change

Wow! I can't believe summer is almost over. This has been one of the busiest summers I've had in a while. Lots of changes for me and my family, but all for the good! I've been thinking this morning about all the things I've done or tried this summer, and I decided to make a list. Some people have "spring cleaning," but my experience has been "summer greening." Here we go:

1. Farmer's Market: I've been going almost weekly all summer, and it's been amazing! I even began buying meat and eggs from there. I probably won't purchase chicken anymore simply because it costs way too much! $12.99/lb for boneless skinless chicken breasts and about $15 for one 3 lb whole chicken!! While I really want to support humane chicken farming, I really can't afford that on my family's budget.

2. Grain Mill: No I haven't purchased my own, but I have been enjoying getting fresh ground flour from the Grain Mill of Wake Forest. I just keep it in the freezer so it doesn't go rancid. Since the flour is composed of the entire wheat berry, the oils are present and can turn within a few days. I've been trying to use whole wheat flour in all of my cooking, but I haven't developed a taste for it in desserts or biscuits yet. For those, I use unbleached all-purpose flour.

3. Sucanat: I've almost completely rid myself of white refined sugar. I say almost because my husband really doesn't like this change. He likes his white sugar so I'm trying to compromise a little.

4. Coconut oil: This wonderful oil has taken over my kitchen and my bathroom! My husband laughs at my use of coconut oil for my skin and hair, but I'm telling you, this stuff is amazing! In cooking, I use refined coconut oil because I don't like for my food to taste of coconuts. It would be okay in desserts, but scrambled eggs and other dishes like red beans and rice don't need to taste of coconut! For myself, I use coconut oil to tame my crazy hair (I have very thick, course, and curly hair so it can take a good bit of oil), and I also use it for my body moisturizer (not on my face). Yesterday I mixed in a drop of lavender essential oil when moisturizing after my shower, and it was quite nice! The lavender scent doesn't stick around all day, but it's calming aroma did stay for a couple of hours.

5. Homemade beauty products: I've been using homemade cleansers on my face for a couple of weeks now, and it's been wonderful! I use an oatmeal-almond scrub in the morning and do oil cleansing at night with a mixture of castor oil and jojoba oil. I also made a lavender-bergamot body spray. My recipes came from crunchybetty.com. Love her blog!!

6. Homemade household products: I've been experimenting the past couple of weeks with several different products. Here's what I've made so far: drain opener, air freshener, dusting spray, and dryer spray (to use instead of dryer sheets, and it works!!). Glass cleaner is next on my list to try.

7. Composting: I made my own compost bin out of a heavy duty plastic trash can. I drilled holes all around it for drainage, and I keep it outside next to our curbside can. We don't have much of a yard, so I don't have an open bin, but so far this has been working just fine. Why spend the money on a fancy bin if you can make your own! This adventure mainly came from necessity. My husband was on a fruit and veggie fast for 2 weeks, and we had a lot of pulp from all the juicing. I couldn't find anyone to give it to, and I didn't want to just throw it away. My dad suggested I compost it myself, so I did :)

8. Growing vegetables: Okay, so I only planted green bell peppers, but I'm really excited because they're actually growing!! I DO NOT have a green thumb, so the fact that I could produce anything is amazing to me (I know it's God who actually produces it, but I'm glad that I haven't prevented it's growth or killed it in the process!).

Well, I think that's it! I might be leaving something out, but my brain isn't fully functioning today. I will tell you that the MOST important change I've made this summer has been sitting down in the mornings to have my quiet time with the Lord. This is something, I'm ashamed to say, has flown by the wayside the past few years. I have been in desperate need to make this a part of my daily routine, but it's been hard to be disciplined in this area. I finally just made the decision to get up at 5:30 in the morning and make my coffee, sit down with my Bible, and just be still for a while. I was reading Discipline by Elisabeth Elliot, and she talked about people that have trouble getting up in the mornings. She basically says to just do it! So I did! I won't say it's easy, but I will say that my day is so much better because of it. We are created to be dependent on God, and when we try to do everything ourselves we can really mess things up. More on that later, because I think I've given you plenty to chew on in this post! I'll be posting some of the recipes I've been using for homemade products soon!!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Why Lilla Rose?

Okay, so last night I signed up to be a Lilla Rose Consultant. Lilla Rose is a company that sells mostly hair accessories and some jewelry. Many of you know that I have a mass of crazy hair on my head, and you usually see me with a brown rubber band trying to keep it out of my face. Well, I have finally found something to control the chaos in a pretty way--Lilla Rose's beautiful Flexi-clip! I have wasted so much money over the years buying clips and barrettes that will not hold my hair! I recently bought a package of 3 large hair clips that I was sure would fit, but now they are used for chip clips. They may not hold my hair, but they keep our chips and birdseed fresh!! I received my Flexi-clip just a few days ago, and I have fallen in love! I ordered a medium size thinking it would hold all of my hair in a ponytail, but I slightly underestimated the volume of hair I possess. However, this clip holds 1/2 my hair beautifully and comfortably! I usually don't wear my hair in a "half up" simply because me and barrettes have not been friends since junior high, but the past couple of days I have enjoyed this style again. I would love for everyone who reads this post to check out my website at: . I'll be receiving my start kit in a few days, and then I'll have some samples of the flexi-clips for you to try. I will be taking orders at my church's Women's Expo on October 1 from 10-3 (Wake Crossroads Baptist Church). I'll have my samples with me as well as the catalog for those who like to see things on paper (I'm one of those people. I love catalogs!). By the way, I will be ordering a large flexi-clip to hold my hair in a ponytail very soon! You don't have to wait until the Expo to order, though. You can contact me anytime or simply order from the website. Don't forget to check out the other items that Lilla Rose sells! I am so in love with this company!