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Preview: Let Joy Resound!

Let Joy Resound!

"O all the earth, sing to the LORD, and make a joyful sound. Lift up your voice aloud to Him; sing psalms! Let joy resound!" ~ Psalm 98:4 ~

Updated: 2017-11-21T10:17:35.663-05:00


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SwagBucks - really works


Have you heard of Swagbucks? I came across it a few months ago and it's a search engine that gives you points (swagbucks) randomly throughout the day when you search. The search engine uses Google and Ask, and I've found what I need using this site. The best part is, you rack up swagbucks that can be redeemed for gift cards and other items - I always go for the gift cards. I've gotten two or three $10 gift cards so far, and depending on how active you are, you can earn faster. Check it out!

I know, I know


It's been two months since I last posted. If you haven't guessed, I'm not blogging very much anymore! Way to state the obvious. I still cook and take pictures, though a little less of both as far as new and creative things go. From a couple VERY busy months at work to having the priority of rest (from work in the evenings) and health during my pregnancy, my blog is at the bottom of the list. I'm sure many of you understand!I'll likely resume my blog a little more to post baby pictures, though at that point, I will either open a separate blog with a password, or add password access to this one.My pregnancy:-> Going very well. I'm 28 weeks, and the baby moves a lot. Ryan has enjoyed feeling the baby move for the last few weeks as well. I'm in the third trimester and can hardly believe it already! I can [safely] give birth in the next 9-14 weeks. I was brave enough to include a picture from 27 weeks, to the right.-> The midwives have been great so far, and I'm thankful for the option of The Midwife Center to give birth our our child in May. So far, so good for remaining low risk to remain out of the hospital.-> Three excellent books that greatly influenced my approach to birth and pregnancy are:- The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth- Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way- Ina May's Guide to Childbirth-> Our intention is to cloth diaper. I am decided on prefolds with covers, and look forward to it. We hope to use a diaper service the first month or so which will help ease us into baby life, cloth diapering, and laundry, especially living in an apartment with communal laundry facilities.-> We are not finding out the gender nor telling a soul a hint of any names, but below is an amazingly clear, cute, adorable ultrasound profile from 21 weeks.-> Thanks to a Webster certfied chiropractor, I found relief from some discomfort related to my pregnancy, and am back to feeling pretty good. Except when I try to roll over or get up off the floor. That won't change anytime soon :).Why do I want to remain out of the hospital to give birth? We believe a birth center is the option for us to achieve a natural birth with little intervention and with the support we need to accomplish natural childbirth. We have many desires for how we'd like the birth to go or not go, and barring a true emergency or risk situation, we don't believe we need all the things the hospital likes to offer (or sometimes, force you into thinking are required). There are risks with each intervention, and when the benefit of the intervention outweighs the risk of not doing it, we'll gladly accept it. We also appreciate the attentive care of the midwives and admire their experience and knowledge of how birth should go.Our life-> Ryan is nearing the end of three years of seminary. Lord willing, he will graduate a few days after our baby is expected to be born. Yep, it's gonna be a full month!-> Our first anniversary is next week. We look forward to a three-night stay at a cozy B&B in Lancaster, PA, when we attend the wedding of one of my dear college friends. It's been an awesome year being married to my best friend.-> Our future after graduation is unknown, except that we hope to be caring for a healthy newborn and continuing to enjoy marriage.-> Here's a recent photo of my very handsome husband[...]

Baby Dreams


I've neglected my blog. I know you are all fine with that and surviving. :)

I've had two baby dreams so far.

A month or so ago, I dreamed we had a boy, blue eyes, light hair and skin (like me) and we were in the car leaving a church. I was holding him up front (!) and he was a pudgy older baby maybe 5 mo, and I reached around to put him in his facing-forward car seat (!) and remember thinking, I hope whoever put him in the seat to come to church had read the instruction manual for the car seat, and I was thinking, I really need do read it myself.

So strange!

Last night, I dreamed that I had a baby girl and had to go away right away for whatever reason for about a week, and I came home to my old neighborhood and a neighbor offered me a piece of pita with hummus on it that I snacked on as I crossed the street to go to my parents old driveway. My mom came out with my baby and handed her to me, and I got a good look at her face: light hair, blue eyes, light skin, and I was so excited to be home and be with her again. She looked to be about 5 months old and not a newborn though I was only gone week, she wasn't pudgy like my son in the other dream. lol.

So far, I've put my kids in danger and neglected them! Thankfully I am not overly concerned that this will flow over into reality.



A couple months ago, a friend at church graciously taught me how to make her whole wheat bread and let me have the recipe. The previous recipe I was using resulted in bread that I wasn't proud of, nor wanted to eat once it was a day old. It was called whole wheat, but wasn't 100% whole wheat. I don't know if it was the recipe or me not working it enough. I do know it wasn't the flour because I used the same whole wheat flour the first time I made this new recipe at home, and it turned out great. For the old recipe, I used my mixer for all of it, but actually enjoy doing it all by hand now, as my friend taught me.
She recommended I do that, particularly to learn how the dough feels and progresses. I should add that my mixer can't really handle 8-9 cups of flour for half the recipe, let alone 15-18 for the full recipe! She works in the last few cups of flour while working it by hand, out of the bowl.
Half the recipe makes two large loaves and one small one, which happens to work with the three loaf pans I have. I have only done this twice at home, but both times, made a cinnamon-sugar loaf with the small one.



(image) Do you all like grapefruit? If so, how do you eat it?

Pink Grapefruit is pretty delicious, though I always sprinkle sugar on it. I cut around the wedges to free them for eating, a habit I got from my Dad. For years, he'd meticulously cut grapefruit halves for the first part of our Christmas breakfast every year (for as long as I can remember). we still have it.

(image) What about you? Leave a comment.

P.S. My mom's mom eats it with salt!

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds


Before today, I don't think I ever ate pumpkin seeds. I knew Ryan liked them so I went on the search for a couple seasoned pumpkin seed recipes. Of course, I couldn't roast them all just plain and with only salt. I had about 4 cpus of seeds, so I used four different seasoning combinations. We liked each of them pretty well.

Plain with butter, olive oil and salt. I used popcorn salt because it's so fine.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds (rosemary, salt).

Spicy Pumpkin Seeds (salt, cayenne pepper)

Lime Toasted Pepitas (surprise, surprise) Actually, these seeds are from the butternut and acorn squashes that I roasted for Velvety Squash Soup for dinner on Saturday. They turned out tasty like the pumpkin seeds. I had a little less than a cup of them.

Pumpkin Puree


Pioneer Woman illustrated how to make your own pumpkin puree, and I couldn't NOT do it since we received a couple pumpkins from the CSA farm.
Strangely, while the pumpkins roasted, they smelled like hay. It must have been the stringies that I couldn't completely remove.
My yield from three pumpkins was 10 cups of puree, which I froze in quart-sized bags, 2 cups in each. I don't know the cost to me of the pumpkins, but 5-6 cans of pumpkin puree would be at least $10.
Coming soon: roasted pumpkin seeds

Coconut Oil


(image) I've been meaning to post about coconut oil all summer and haven't...

We love it. We eat it. We put it on our skin. I've read a lot about it. I plan to use it on our baby's skin for "baby acne".

Robin posted about it recently over at Whole Food Nation and it's a quick summary of its benefits. She has summarized what I've read in many places. Please check it out!

I have always bought the Nutiva brand, though there are many others. I get it from Amazon using the subscribe and save option I mentioned a while back. The key is to get cold-pressed, virgin, organic coconut oil. It should smell like coconuts.

I haven't been around....


Blogging has been the last thing on my mind in the last several weeks since all of my energy has gone to working, sleeping, eating, and incubating our baby. Oh, and keeping my food down.

Our baby??? Wha-? Yep! Due in mid May to two very excited parents-to-be (and some very excited grandparents and aunts and uncles).

To God be the glory!

The Slow Cooker


What are some of your favorite slow cooker recipes? I've been wanting to use mine more, and now is as good a time as any. I haven't used it nearly enough in the last three or so years despite the fact that I love to come home from work and have dinner prep so well progressed already. I thankfully have the option to come home at lunch or any time in the afternoon to start a recipe that doesn't require all day cooking. I really should use it more. Help me!

Now the Lightswitches Work!


At five pm on Thursday, our electricity came back on. We were sooooo happy to have it back (and still are).

Here are some pretty amazing pictures of Hurricane Ike damage.

I still flip the switch anyway


Wind on Sunday night. No power until Friday. That is our story.

The longer version is our area was hit by high winds from Hurricane Ike on Sunday night. As we drove home from the RP Home where Ryan preached, there were branches around and areas without power. Minutes after arriving home, we lost our power. It's been off ever since and the power company says "late Friday" for our area. Around noon on Monday, we moved the food in our fridge and freezer to the church, and it's still there, nice and cold. Some good friends invited us to shower at their place, which we took them up on the last two nights since we don't have hot water. They also invited us to dinner last night and for Thursday. Tonight, there is a meeting and pizza at church.

I've enjoyed going to bed earlier but it would be nice to have light to clean the kitchen and be able to cook or have cold food. I have food at work in my mini fridge, but Ryan has had to scrounge for breakfast. I'm thankful that we haven't lost anything and that it's been cool enough to sleep comfortably at night.

What's funny is I sometimes still turn on light switches or lamps out of habit. Obviously, nothing happens. Who knows how many lights will be on in our apartment when the power comes back.

What's the longest you have ever gone without power?

35 Ways to Save on Groceries


Money Saving Mom linked to this helpful post on MotherLoad which lists 35 ways to save on your grocery budget. It's worth a read -I bet there is something you can implement from the list. Check it out.

I've done many of the things on the list. A few months ago, Ryan and I started using cloth napkins for the two of us instead of paper. We have a good stock of paper napkins, and they will last a long time! The cloth napkins last us a while since we aren't messy eaters - we see no reason to wash them after one or two light uses.

I've been making my own cheese biscuits using whole wheat pastry flour and sometimes half all purpose flour. I use palm oil shortening, and they are so much better than using Bisquick! Earlier this summer, I stopped using canola oil in my own cooking in an effort to reduce our consumption of damaged oils. I haven't made tortilla strips for tortilla soup yet though since doing so, and will need to find a good, flavorless substitute.

There are also many other things I prefer to make myself instead of buying the product or a mix to make the product: salad dressing, pancakes, waffles, bread, guacamole, salsa, spaghetti sauce, cookies, and cakes.

I have yet to cook a whole chicken...I don't know why they scare me!

Talk to me. Are there things on this list you do or other ideas you have?

When to Buy Organic


I've known of some foods that one should try to buy organic, because of how heavily they receive pesticides (raspberries, peanuts/peanut butter). I've known of other foods where it isn't as much of a concern, because there is an outer skin (oranges, bananas). I read a helpful post on Whole Food nation summarizing what types of you should try to buy organic and which are ok being non organic. I summarized the info below but there is additional helpful info in the original post, including why certain foods should be bought organic and how many pesticides are sprayed on the foods (most are 25 or more).

(image) Non organic is ok:
Sweet corn
Sweet peas

Organic is safer:
Beef, Pork and Poultry
Milk, Cheese and Butter
Strawberries, Raspberries and Cherries
Apples and Pears
Spinach and Other Greens
Peaches and Nectarines
Red and Green Bell Peppers

I would like to add that I believe buying local produce when you know how it is grown (like from a CSA) can provide a happy middle ground to the expense of organic and the lack of quality and nutrients of the non organic, conventionally grown items above. Cost is unfortunately prohibitive of our buying more organic.

Are there particular foods you regularly buy organic? There are some for Ryan and I, though I don't think there are any foods we always buy organic. I prefer organic raspberries, for the lack of chemicals and because I have found them to taste immensely better. We have never bought organic meat. By the way, don't be fooled by "all natural" or "100% natural" labels on chicken - there are no established guidelines for what constitutes natural.

Perhaps you should try it


The most common search that sends people to my blog is "Ancho and Coffee Rubbed Filet Mignon with Ancho Mushroom Sauce". It comes up at least weekly (which is pretty common for my low traffic blog).

Have you seen the recipe? It's the first Bobby Flay recipe I ever made, and it is delicious. A special occasion dish. Spicy. Flavorful. The method of cooking the steaks is perfect and superior over the grill, and there are components of the recipe that you can make ahead.

Check it out. Ancho-And-Coffee-Rubbed Filet Mignon with Ancho-Mushroom Sauce



Micah and Asher could go all day with playing frisbee! Throw, fetch, tug, rinse and repeat.

My parents also do agility with each of them, and they can hardly wait to get out on the course to practice! They whine and whine when it's not their turn and see each other getting to do agility.
Practice at dusk in the backyard



We went and are back already. Man, did it go fast. We looked forward to this trip for about seven months and can't believe it's already over! We had a great time with my family. Thankfully, we did not have any flight delays! Here are some photos. Check out the rest here, if you'd like.My husband, the rock thrower.My younger brother Adam, being goofy in the surf. The water wasn't as cold as it normally is.We picked peaches again this year.[...]

The Chocolate Pudding That Wasn't


It was last time though. It was very good. This time? Something went wrong. I took pictures, chronicling my pudding-making extravaganza, expecting to end with a lush, thick display of rich, dark chocolate. Not this time. Not like last time. Fear not, for you can make this successfully, as Catherine did, as I did before, and as Smitten Kitchen originally posted. But because I'm humble and want to capitalize on a teaching situation, I'll show you what happened. The end result was a less-than-thick pudding that tasted wonderfully chocolaty. The consistency was the problem.Starting out, I make my own double broiler. The clothes pin, or something like it, is essential to let the steam out. It's smart to put it at the back of the pan to allow the steam to escape out the back and not up on your wrist.I made a double recipe to use some milk that wasn't going to last much longer, and I used agave nectar in place of the sugar. Not being a pudding expert, I wonder if this did me in right from the beginning. I haven't baked with agave but we like it as a sweetener for coffee, smoothies and yogurt. It gives pure sweetness (as opposed to honey) and is raw and unrefined and doesn't cause your blood sugar to spike. So I tried it with this recipe. Since the cornstarch seems to "make" the pudding, I thought this would be ok. I used up most of the agave I had. I now wish I had saved it for coffee and such. I've since ordered more though, so it's ok.Since I used agave, I added another tablespoon of cornstarch.After an hour (AN HOUR) it had only thickened slightly. The recipe calls for 15-20 minutes. I realized it just wasn't getting hot enough to cook. I finally decided to add the chopped chocolate to see what would happen:The first time I made this pudding, it quickly melted and became smooth and shiny. I finally resorted to straight heat and it started thickening, though a little lumpy. I think during all this I added even more cornstarch (whisked into a little water first to be lump-free; don't dump it straight in). I was so ready to be done with it that I stopped there and put it in dishes.When I tried it after it chilled, it tasted GREAT and with a full chocolate flavor. The only problem was it was set very firm.My mom didn't think the double broiler was actually necessary since there wasn't anything to curdle. Maybe the double broiler cuts down on the lumps though.[...]





Dreams At My House


This week, for three mornings in a row, I had dreams that took place at my old house. Is it because we're going to Oregon tomorrow that it's on my brain? Who knows, especially since this is my old house in Pittsburgh, not the house where my family now lives.

First dream, Saturday:
I was told someone in a purple Camaro was going to be coming after me. I'm on my front porch, locking the door, and there the car is, backed up onto the grass of the neighbors across the street. I go to my car, but there is no time to get in and drive away, so I instead run down the street some, across and back behind a house, down the hill and over the road to another house. I'm being chased. I ask for help and the lady takes me in and shows me a secret area in her house, and I go there. I find a bathroom with a high window behind the door. I hear the person coming in the house. Covering the window are curtains sewn together, and the fabric is the kind used in pro basketball shorts. I had to rip open about four colorful layers of "curtains" to get out the window. I get out (jumping up with no problem whatsoever), and see a hidden cubby area on the roof, despite the fact that this lady took me to her basement. Dreams don't care about details, and there I sat. And woke up.

Second dream, Sunday:
Ryan and I were sitting on my front porch. Two of his sisters were staggered on the stairs in front of us, and there were many people out in the cauldisac, "the circle", playing a game with paddles and a bouncy ball. They were hitting it all over the street, trying to keep the ball up. It came up to us a couple times, and each time, Ryan hit the ball over to his sisters. Becoming annoyed, I complained that I didn't like the game and he couldn't understand why. WHY? Because I never get the ball! I woke up annoyed, looked at my husband with chicken pox scabs on his face and remembered that he's more understanding in real life.

Third dream, Monday:
I remember less of this one even though it was most recent. I was hanging out on the porch, and a kid from church was there, eating dirt from a planter. He was just shoving it in his mouth and loving it. His mom and sister came out of the house. Something was going on in the driveway. Sorry, that's all I have there.

Old Navy $12 Jeans Sale Saturday Only


A friend alerted me to a sale tomorrow at Old Navy! For one day only, in stores and online, select Old Navy Jeans are $12 for men and women. Kids are $7. Click the picture to go to the sale.

Bean Around


What is your experience with cooking dried beans? Have you done it? Do you dread it? Do you like beans? A friend of mine told me the method she uses to cook black beans on Saturdays for her family of 10. Just today, I came across an informative site showing how to cook dried beans, and it's similar to my friend's method: Cooked Beans Primer

I'd like to give it a try, southwestern style, and need to get some beans from the East End Coop (read: great prices and organic). Dried beans are cheaper than canned beans. Please tell me your experience with beans and give any favorite add-ins to them.

Food Allergies?


I stumbled on a blog that has a lot of helpful information for those who have babies with food allergies or intolerances. Take a look if you can relate: My Food Allergic Babe

Get them as a kid, I say!


Note about the poll: Please let me know if you aren't able to view the results. Mine does nothing when I click "view results".
Ryan's ordeal with chicken pox continues. There are 300-400 spots/blisters on his body, and they are not comfortable. Many have told us that getting them as an adult is pretty bad. They're right - getting it as a child is much less in comparison, though it's still a major event for a kid. In honor of this, I have included a new poll at the bottom of this post.

Some things we've done that we believe have been helpful:
- mega doses of Vitamin C (we're talking 20,000+ mg a day)
- recommended increased temporary doses of Vitamin A for tissue repair and reduced chance of scaring
- increased doses of Vitamin D for immune support
- topical ointments, including Aloe Vera gel, Vitamin E, and coconut oil. All have served to relieve the itching and promote healing in various ways.
- Epsom salt baths and Aveeno oatmeal baths. The Epsom salt bath has helped to progress the blisters to scabs (sorry) and the Aveeno has relieved itching, as it claims.
- once we knew the fever was down on its own, ibuprofen was a help for head pain, and he also started taking Benedryl today for itching. It has helped a little.

I've been glad to have the weekend at home and have the worst days fall on the weekend (at least we hope those were the worst days). We've also been grateful to be able to consult with a doctor at church, which has allowed Ryan to be able to stay in the comfort of our home. Ryan has slept poorly at night since Friday and is desirous of a good night's rest. Last night was a lot of discomfort, especially on his back and on his forehead and scalp. Despite all that, he is a great sport and is willing to swallow a lot of pills and rarely complains. I usually have to ask specific questions to find out how he is feeling :).

We see progress though: fever and sore throat have gone for the most part, breakouts have significantly slowed, some have scabbed over and the baths are a relief. We're on Day 5 and hopefully the worst is behind us. I've talked to a couple people in the last couple days about their experience with adult chicken pox, and it has never been fun or easy.

If you happened upon this post while searching for adult chicken pox treatment, feel free to email me if you have any questions. Not that I'm a pro by anymeans, but I've read a good deal this weekend about adult chicken pox (and chicken pox in general) and have been grateful for the info. So far, Ryan's case, though severe according to the doctor, is not out of line with what I've read or learned about this illness in adulthood.

This is a rare post, that fortunately for you and my husband, does NOT contain any photographs.

POLL: (closes at 5pm EST Tuesday)