Monday, 28 February 2011

Breadstick Tutorial and Cheese Dip Recipe

In my Whole Wheat Bread tutorial post I mentioned that I make some fabulous breadsticks. I know you're all dying for me to post a breadstick tutorial to back up that claim, so here you go!

I got this recipe from Epicure actually, but made a few changes to it. I originally used this recipe to make a bread bowl and cheese dip that's amazing, and then one day decided to make it as breadsticks, and was hooked! These go great with spaghetti, lasagna or practically any meal really.

Without further ado, here is the breadstick tutorial (recipe at the end)....

Step 1: In your KitchenAid mixer bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and sugar, and wait a couple minutes for the yeast to bubble.

Step 2: Add in softened (I always just melt it in microwave) butter/margarine, milk, flour, salt and focaccia (optional) spice. Add more or less flour as needed and beat until dough is just slightly sticky to the touch. I prefer this recipe with all white flour, but you could play around with adding in some whole wheat instead if you like.

Note: I love Epicure's focaccia and I use it in this recipe a lot. You could add a herb/garlic spice instead, or pretty much whatever you want. Or you could leave out the spice altogether, and brush on some garlic butter after baking. I've made this recipe with all those variations and I love them all!

Step 3: Spray bowl with Pam, cover and allow dough to rise until doubled, approximately 45 min to 1 hour.

Step 4: Divide into sections - this recipe I usually divide in half, then divide each half into about 12 sections.

Step 5: Roll each section into a breadstick shape by holding it between your palms and rubbing them back and forth - pretend you're on Survivor and trying to start a fire by rubbing sticks together. That won't likely work in real life, but it will make you some nice breadsticks for this recipe.

Of course, if you have kidlets assisting you, you may wind up with different shaped breadsticks! (snails, lollipops, heart, doughnut)

Step 6: Cover and allow to rise until doubled - when I'm in a hurry (decided a little late in the day to start making these) I've skimped on this step and only let it rise 15-20 mins. But 30 - 45 minutes would be best. Ignore the colour on this picture, not sure what happened there - but you get the idea of the rising action.

Step 7: Bake in 375 preheated oven for 15 - 20 minutes, until golden brown.

Step 8: Brush with melted butter and serve warm. Delicious!!

Because this recipe makes a lot of breadsticks, you can slightly underbake one of the pans (if you think of it, if not, it works just fine fully baked too), cool and freeze in a ziplock bag to quickly and easily pull out and reheat in the oven for another dinner. To reheat, I find that if I stick them in the oven thawed and then turn the oven to 350 - they're ready by the time the oven has finished pre-heating. You could halve the recipe, but it's just as easy to make it as is and then you've got enough for 2 meals - I'm all about simplicity baby!

Like I mentioned before, you can also bake this in a round casserole dish (375 for about 25 minutes) to make a fabulous bread bowl to go alongside some cheese dip as a great appetizer dish.

Here's the recipe....

Makes approximately 24 breadsticks
2 tsp yeast
3/4 cup warm water
3 tsp sugar
3 tbsp butter/margarine
1/2 cup milk
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp focaccia (optional)

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and sugar. After the yeast has began to bubble, add in butter, milk, flour, salt and any optional spices. Adjust flower as necessary and knead until dough is smooth and just a tad sticky. Place in buttered bowl, cover and let rise until double. Divide dough into approximately 24 sections. Roll dough rapidly between your hands to shape into breadsticks. Place on two pans, cover and let rise for about an hour. Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes. Or bake in one casserole dish at 375 for 25 minutes to make a bread bowl.

Note: original recipe called for dry milk. If you'd like to go that route, you can substitute 2 tbsp dry milk for the 1/2 cup milk and increase water to 1 1/4 cups (instead of 3/4 cup).

Here's the recipe for the cheese dip....

Cheese Dip
250g package cream cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
1 tsp Epicure Lemon Dilly Dip Mix
1 tsp Epicure Cheese Chive & Bacon Dip Mix
1 tsp Epicure 3 Onion Dip Mix

Mix all ingredients together and bake at 350 for 20 minutes in a casserole dish. You could substitute any comparable spices for a similar effect. Serve with bread bowl.


Thursday, 24 February 2011

Giveaway and Book Review: The Life Ready Woman by Shaunti Feldhahn & Robert Lewis

About the Book: Are you a ‘Doing it all’ or ‘Do what matters’ woman?

Whether a stay at home; or working mom, an airplane-hopping executive, an empty-nester caring for multiple generations or a single juggling high demands of career and personal life, today's fast-paced modern world leaves women gasping for balance. We as modern Christian women want to look to the Bible for guidance on how to manage our lives -- but because the world of women looks so different today than it did when the Bible was written, it is hard to find chapter and verse that seems to apply to our situation today.

Thankfully, God has given us exactly that timeless, unchanging guidance for how to find peace, clarity, and God's best for our lives once we know where to look! The Life Ready Woman: Thriving in a Do-It-All World, reveals a profound biblical roadmap for how each of us can find the abundant life we are longing for, rather than the stressful, torn, how-do-I-balance-it-all life we often feel like we are trying to keep up with today. Actually being a LifeReady Woman means that you are clear about your life, bold in your faith, and able to find God’s best for you, and the end result will be that you not only survive but thrive in our do-it-all world.

God has given every wonderfully unique woman different skills and abilities, different desires, and different temperaments -- and every woman around the planet and through the ages is certainly living in different circumstances. But no matter what a woman’s life looks like, the Bible says that God has an individual mission and plan that He’s carefully designed for each of us. And He wants us to find it. Starting January 2011, The Life Ready Woman and the Life Ready Woman Video Series will help every wonderfully unique woman to thrive as she identifies and courageously pursues God's unique design and callings for her. LifeReady Woman puts you on a roadmap to make decisions that will lead to relief, delight, and fulfillment instead of regret.

My thoughts: Despite my poor first impression due to what I consider to be a boring cover and book title, I really enjoyed this book, found it to be very thought-provoking and would highly recommend it to women in any stage in life.

The first two chapters I found a bit slow and hard to get into, but after that I was definitely hooked.

After the slow introduction, Feldhahn identifies the five issues behind the problems women face today, issues that cause us to live contrary to God's design and purpose for our lives. She then goes on to define biblical manhood and womanhood, drawing on the Biblical accounts of Adam and Jesus, Eve and Mary.

A real man rejects passivity, accepts responsibility, leads courageously, and expects God's greater reward.

A biblical woman embraces God's callings, chooses wisely, lives courageously, and expects God's greater reward.

She goes on to explore biblical marriage and how God's call for men to be loving, servant leaders and women to be respectful helpers (as equals!) brings balance to each gender's sinful tendencies.

She then defines our core callings as human beings made in God's image, our feminine callings as women, and then our personal callings as unique individuals.

Our core callings as humans are to leave and cleave (we are to become mature individuals who achieve deep, lasting companionship in marriage), be fruitful and multiply (we are to raise up and launch a healthy, godly next generation into the world - not limited solely to childbearing/rearing) and we are to subdue and rule (we are to advance God's kingdom purposes beyond the home and into the earth, in ways specific to our gifting).

She says that we need to live from the inside out instead of the outside in. Instead of allowing the world's values, our own desires or even our God-given personality and gifts to dictate our actions and life choices, we need to be purposeful about letting God's core callings decide how we should use our wants, desires and gifts, and how to confront the world's values. We need to keep eternity in mind.

We need to recognize that the world has sold us women a lie - the lie that we can have it all, all at the same time. We can't.

We need to understand the different seasons of our lives (there are 10 in the book ranging from single adult to married with grade-schoolers to glorified saint) and how to make purposeful decisions about our lives during each season, keeping the big picture in mind and always with our core callings at the forefront.

I loved the point that she made that making a choice for something, is also automatically making a choice against something else.

She quotes Pastor Andy Stanley... There is not enough time to get it all done. Somebody is going to feel left out, neglected, or cheated. So the real question is not are you cheating, but who are you cheating? You need to be intentional about the choice.

We need to realize that our choices in one area of our life, at one season of our life, can impact the rest of our lives. And so we need to be intentional about our choices. We need to see where our choices are leading us and make sure we know that's where we want to be going.

This book is definitely meant for personal reflection and prayerful application. I'm definitely going to have to re-read and continue to chew on it for awhile to come.

Highly, highly recommend this book.

Thank you to Stephanie and Amy from Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.

I was also given an extra copy to giveaway on my blog! For the few of you that read to the end of this post, enter (US or Canadian residents only) by commenting - I will pick the winner on Thursday, March 3rd.

In celebration of Shaunti Feldhahn’s Life Ready Woman, MomLife Today is giving away 2 Weekend To Remember Gift Packs and much more! Click here for more details.

Not only, is MomLife Today helping promote Life Ready Woman, but they are thrilled to announce that Shaunti will be joining MomLife Today as a regular contributor!!!

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

A trip to be remembered

OK, for this story you're going to need to know some names and hopefully you can keep all the characters straight!

Hopefully our family you know already - Nathan & Tammy, Emma (9), Sophia (7), Olivia (5) & Jacob (3)

Nathan is the oldest and his parents are Edmer & Betty.
His younger sister lives in Alberta - Deena & Chris, Colter (5), Baret (3) & Hayden (1)
His youngest sister lives in a town close to us - Linsay & Shaun, Taylor (2)

First, a little background. Deena & Chris met and married in Alberta (yes, at bible bridal college). After a couple years they moved back here where Colter was born. I think they were pregnant with Baret when they moved back to Alberta. When they had been dating and newly married, Nathan and I went out to visit them at least once a year, sometimes twice. However, after they moved back, we told them in no uncertain terms that we were never driving all the way out there to visit them - at least not with the horrible passengers we'd managed to acquire in the meantime.

Never say never right?!

Mom & Dad, Shaun & Linsay have gone out to visit them before, and we've always steadfastly maintained our position, despite the wailings and pleadings of our offspring. I'm not sure what made this year different, but we gradually began to consider it. We finally consented to going out this Christmas, with numerous dire warnings to our children that their behaviour during the drive would be the deciding factor on if there were ever to be a repeat of this trip.

Turns out, the kids did fanTASTic on the drive - WAY better than expected.

Turns out that wasn't the problem. But there were problems, oh yes, there were problems.

We planned to drive caravan style. Mom & Dad would drive with Shaun & Linsay and we would lead the pack. We would come "pick them up" bright and early at 5am on the Wednesday after Christmas and book it out West.

*Note - people who do not like to read about other people getting sick, consider yourself warned.

At 4:45am we got a phone call. Linsay had been throwing up all night and they weren't sure what they were going to do. After some discussion it was decided that Nathan's parents would take all their luggage out of Shaun & Lin's vehicle and pack up their own car and head out with us. Shaun & Linsay would follow when they could, hopefully leaving at noon.

So, off we went. Now, I'm a bit of a hypochondriac, especially when it comes to stomach ailments, so by the time we got to Brandon where we stopped for breakfast, I was not feeling so hot. Things appeared to be going in the wrong direction during two bathroom breaks at the restaurant (Tim Horton's of course!), but I convinced myself it was all in my head and we were going to keep going. Worse case scenario, we'd stop in Regina if we had to.

Thankfully, it was just my hypochondria combined with lack of sleep. I napped between Brandon and Regina and every time I woke up I felt a bit better. Whew - bullet dodged. For now.

We filled up gas in Regina, stopped for lunch (Tim's again!) in Moose Jaw and kept on chugging. We stopped in Medicine Hat to fill up again and let the kids run off some steam at the local McDonald's which thankfully had an awesome play place (pictured left). Another 2 short hours (that seemed rather long!) and we were there! We enjoyed a homemade pizza supper and found out that it had been a good thing Shaun & Linsay had not started out with us, because around noon Shaun got sick and Taylor, who had been sick two days previous, got a bit sick again. They were all doing somewhat better by the evening, so they decided they would go to bed real early and try to be on the road by 4am the next morning (Thursday) to get to Alberta in time for our scheduled Christmas dinner (wrenikje and farmer sausage - woohoo!).

Did I mention they live in the middle of nowhere? This was the view out their front yard....

And who is this lovely couple?

Thankfully Shaun, Linsay & Taylor made it safe and sound (and not sick!) and we all had a wonderful Christmas dinner that Thursday, followed by the "program", gifts and we all vacationed happily ever after. Ok, not quite.

Mom & Dad slept in the guest room downstairs. Nathan and I slept in Colter & Baret's room (their bottom bunk is a double) with Jacob on the floor in our room. Shaun & Linsay slept in Hayden's room on a double mattress with Taylor in Hayden's crib. Hayden slept in a play pen in Chris & Deena's room. All the other kids were set up downstairs by the tv for a big cousin sleepover.

During the day Hayden had had some diarrhea, but we chalked it up to teething. Might have been wrong about that one. No sooner had we started getting the kids ready for bed that night then both Colter & Baret started throwing up (they had previously had one episode of "d" as well). Chris & Deena spent the next several hours playing Mexican Train with us, while taking breaks every 15 minutes or so to deal with one or two puking children whose beds had been moved up to the living room, while I stuck my fingers in my ears and tried to convince myself that everything would be fine.

Now, obviously Colter & Baret did not get this from Shaun & Linsay cause they had only been there for a couple hours. So, we had both the Manitoba and the Alberta germs going around full force - we never had a fighting chance.

About every 12 hrs or so, we went down like dominoes.

We had originally been planning to go to Brooks the next day (Friday) and swim at their amazing leisure center, but since it was an hour away, we decided it was too big of a risk. Good thing too because Emma started around noon - not as bad as the boys, only about 5 episodes. We kept all the healthy people playing outside as much as we could - very thankful for the awesome natural toboggan slide courtesy of Chris & Deena's amazing front yard (advantage of living way out in the boonies in hill country). Deena was not feeling fabulous and had diarrhea off and on all day, and yet still managed to be an amazing hostess - in fact, she was a fantastic hostess throughout this whole ordeal, can't imagine anyone doing a better job! I lost track of how many times she disinfected bathrooms (thankfully they had 3 of them!) that week.

Just before bedtime Olivia threw up, and let's just say no one will feel like eating cherry ice cream again any time soon. This was the first time in about 3 years that she had thrown up, so I knew she'd have no idea what was coming. We put her and Emma to bed in the living room and were expecting to be interrupted from Mexican Train numerous times to help Olivia, like Deena & Chris had been the night before. But amazingly, Olivia only had the one incident!

I got very little sleep that night. Every cough or sound Jacob made I thought he was about to get started. Thankfully everything was fine during the night.

Saturday Shaun & Linsay left for the day and night to go visit Shaun's mom and we all stayed home and played outside and recovered from this quick acting bug. Since it had moved from person to person so quickly, and no one had gotten sick in quite a while, we were crossing our fingers and hoping the rest of us would emerge unscathed. Did we not learn in elementary school that crossing your fingers does nothing?!

After a couple of days of this we decided we needed to get out, so we decided to go out for supper in a nearby town. There wasn't much open as it was New Year's Day, but we ate at a local restaurant and headed for home. Thankfully we had not gone too far - we had barely walked in the door when Nathan's mom was running for the washroom. She probably had the worst case yet, with both versions.

I went to bed that night expecting the worst, and hadn't slept a wink when Jacob starting throwing up around 1:30am. He had never been sick in his almost 3 years and he absolutely freaked out. He was screaming and trying to knock away the bucket that I was trying to force under his head and yelling "I don't want to!" in between episodes. Even though we had put a sheet across most of the bedroom floor, he still managed to hit the rug. Deena got up and helped us clean up the room and we bathed Jacob and got him ready for bed. One hour later we were doing it again. Thankfully not as messy this time as Nathan and I tag teamed him and literally forced him to puke in the bucket. Poor guy. By almost 5:30 I had just about convinced myself that he wouldn't be throwing up anymore and was finally ready to get some sleep..... when Sophia walked in our room with her puke bucket and we started all over again. Yup, all kids, sick or not, were sleeping with pails by their beds by this point - good thing!

Sophia probably got it the worst of the kids - I think 9 times. By 7 o'clock I was absolutely exhausted - hadn't slept even a minute all night with a very unrestful sleep the night before. Nathan had been up most of the times as well, but he had been able to sleep in between. So, he took over and I slept from 7 to 10. We had originally been planning to leave today (Sunday), but had already decided the previous day that we would stay an extra day - hoping to go to Brooks, or at the minimum, finish getting over all this sickness.

After lunch we decided we'd all have naps before going tobogganing again. I woke up at 4 and knew my hypochondrianism had become reality. Started with minor diarrhea and I took Peptobismol and Immodium in a futile attempt to ward off the inevitable. By 7pm I was in the washroom experiencing my first ever time of both episodes simultaneously and it was horrid. (hey, I warned you not to read!) Nathan took Jacob to sleep in the living room so I could hopefully get some sleep at night. But he went to bed early cause he could feel it coming on. At midnight he forced himself and an hour later he had to again. After that he was fine. After my own 3 major episodes, it took me awhile to get to sleep as I was quite concerned with making it to the bathroom in time, even though it was directly across the hall. This was bad stuff people. But eventually I feel asleep and all was well.

Nathan's parents left bright and early Monday morning to drive straight home all day. Taylor was up a little early, so Shaun & Linsay left a bit before us. We planned to stop in Regina with them to spend the night at a hotel (with a waterpark!) before heading home Tuesday. They planned to stop and visit friends in Swift Current quickly before joining us later on. They also were expecting it to take a bit longer because they were hauling a work trailer behind their SUV that they had picked up from Shaun's mom's the day before.

We got a phone call as we were eating breakfast (well, Nathan & I weren't eating anything, but the kids were). Their trailer had come unhooked while driving on the highway, had passed them on the highway, crossed the road and landed on a fence! Thankfully no one was hurt and this happened in a town about 45 minutes away, where Chris & Deena go to church. This was the last town Shaun & Lin would pass where they would still know anyone that could help - not a coincidence I'd say! Turned out that the man that Chris called to help them rescue their trailer was the owner of the fence it had landed on! AND he had the equipment and know-how to able to fix the trailer and get them back on their way. Amazing!

Now that they were behind us, they decided not to stop in Swift and were going to head straight to Regina. We were about 45 minutes ahead of them, and getting close to Regina when we got a phone from them. They ran out of gas. Yes, I'm serious. They were going through gas twice as fast due to the trailer they were pulling. They had planned to stop in a small town a bit off the highway to gas up, but as they were passing the service signs there was no sign for gas. They didn't want to risk running out of gas off the highway and were only 19 km from the next major town and the gas light had not come on yet. Surely they would make it. Nope, they ran out of gas 5 km away! It was dark and about -30 outside. So Shaun started walking. After about 1 km a farmer stopped to pick him up and gave him a ride. The farmer said he was on his way to Regina for a hernia surgery. When Lin heard this later she laughed and said there's no way - he was an angel and that was the story the angel came up with . ;) The farmer brought Shaun back to the SUV and they were finally on their way again.

We had driven all the way to Swift Current before stopping for lunch at McDonald's at around 2, which was 3 our time. Yup, McDonald's was the first meal I had after being sick. We had to give the kids a break! Nathan and I both ordered grilled chicken burgers and managed just fine.

Because we ate so late, none of us were hungry when we got to the hotel around 6:30, so Nathan took all the kids swimming (he rocks!) as I just didn't feel well enough for that yet and thankfully they had life jackets, so he could manage all 4. The Regina Travelodge has a really great waterslide area, and we managed to get adjoining rooms with Shaun & Linsay so it worked great!

We let the kids swim till we got the call that Shaun & Lin would be there around 8. They wanted to stop at Canadian Tire to get some stuff for the trailer, so Nathan took Jacob and went with them and brought some pizza back at about 8:45. I watched the girls swim till 8:30 and brought up to quickly shower and get into pj's and be ready to eat when the guys got back.

Taylor had had nothing to eat since noon, so she was really hungry and really tired. Linsay couldn't find milk in the hotel, but a very kind waitress at the restaurant managed to scrounge up some 2% and gave it to her for free - Linsay kinda lost it for this random act of kindness that was so appreciated on this day of all days! The lady must've thought she was nuts crying over free milk ;) Taylor ate about one bite of pizza and decided she needed sleep more. Lin put her to bed in their room while we all ate. Then, while the guys went to pick up our nightsnack from Tim Horton's we got our girls ready for bed in our room, moved a sleeping Taylor's crib into our room and took Jacob with us to their room (he had had 2 naps that day in the car and was not ready to sleep!) to visit and watch tv. When were ready for bed, we brought Taylor back to their room and Jacob to our room and all went to sleep. Perfect set up!

The guys had picked up muffins at Tim's for breakfast the next day (Tuesday), we swam in the morning, had lunch at Chili's and then we were off for home. We booked it all the way, only stopping for a quick bathroom pit stop at a hotel along the highway for Olivia, and got home by 7. Home sweet home!

The kids did amazingly well on the drive.

And, even though THIS was our Christmas reality, despite 14 out of 16 people getting sick,
we still managed to have a fabulous time!
See the guy in the back? That's Shaun and he's hiding a puzzle piece on us (anyone who knows Shaun knows this is very typical!) - and all caught on camera! ;)
It'll be trip to be remembered, that's for sure.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Homemade Whole Wheat Bread Tutorial

I certainly do not claim to be an expert breadmaker. I've been making breadsticks for a long while now (and they're rather delicious if I do say so myself), but I hadn't had much luck with making bread, until now! I have found a no-fail recipe for whole wheat bread that is not dense!! That was the biggest drawback to all the homemade bread recipes I'd tried before, they were too dense.

This is the one and only bread recipe I use (why mess with perfection right?!). I originally found this recipe at but I modified it slightly. (Full recipe at the bottom of this post).

So, with no further ado, here is my breadmaking tutorial.

Step 1: Dissolve yeast in warm water (I just dissolve it in my measuring cup - why dirty more dishes than you have to right?)
Step 2: In your awesome KitchenAid mixer bowl, combine margarine, brown sugar & water (original recipe called for molasses, but I didn't have any so I substituted brown sugar & water as per Google - LOVE Google), honey and salt and mix well.

Step 3: Gradually stir in yeast mixture.

Step 4: Add in flours and let the KitchenAid do all the work for you!!

Step 5: Add in more flour if dough is too sticky. A little sticky is ok (if you add too much flour the bread will be dense and, as we've already discussed, we don't like dense bread around here), but not too sticky.

Step 6: Butter (or Pam) the bowl, cover and let rise until double (about 45 min - 1 hr)

Step 7: Divide dough into 2 parts using a knife (do not rip the dough - don't ask me why, ask Google). I use a ulu knife which is the coolest kitchen utensil ever made - I used it every day (perfect for cutting up food for kids superfast!)

Step 8: Shape dough into loaves by kneading and smoothing into the correct shape.

Step 9: Slam the loaf onto the counter hard, in order to remove any air pockets in the dough. Place in greased pans, cover and let rise for about an hour. This recipe makes 2 loaves, but I always also steal a bit of the dough to bake another small loaf in a flower shaped tube pan. When cut, it makes the cutest flower shaped bread perfect for sandwiches for the girls lunches - they love it! I think I bought them from Everyday Style (home party), but you can also get a set of 3 (heart, star, flower) on Amazon here.

Step 10: Bake at 375 for 35 - 40 mins (it only takes 30 minutes in mine for the regular loaves and 35 for the flower pan loaf)
Step 11: Turn out immediately onto the counter to cool. I like to cool them on it's side so the bottom doesn't get soggy and the top doesn't get flattened.

Step 12: If you can, wait till they're cooled before cutting. But we all know how yummy still warm bread is from the oven, so go ahead and slice a piece off and enjoy slathered with some butter - yummy!Note: If your oven is not busy doing something else, you can preheat it to 170F, then turn it off, and put the dough inside the oven to rise in a nice warm environment - a bit faster than just on the counter as well.

Wholesome Homemade Honey Whole Wheat Bread
Makes 2 loaves
2 1/4 tsp yeast
2 cups water
1/4 cup butter or margarine
2 tbsp molasses (or 1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar + 1/2 tbsp water)
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp salt (I use 1/2 tsp to reduce sodium content and it tastes just fine)
4 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups white flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water. In a large bowl, combine butter, molasses (or brown sugar/water), honey and salt and mix well. Add yeast mixture and then gradually add in flours. Knead until smooth and not sticky. Place in buttered bowl, cover and let rise until double. Divide dough into 2 parts using a knife. Knead and shape into loaves. Slam the dough hard onto the counter to remove any air pockets. Place in greased pans, cover and let rise for about an hour. Bake at 375 for 30 - 35 minutes.


My friend Kathryn has a great post with a lot of bread making tips here.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Olivia's Audiologist Appointment

Olivia had an audiology appointment today.

She's been notoriously bad for saying "What?" constantly when we spoke to her, but we chalked that up to her personality and simply not paying attention, or even selective hearing (all you parents know what I mean!).

And it definitely is still partly that. She is still Olivia after all. But during regular Kindergarten screenings in the fall, some red flags went up. She has problems in the screening on Nov 18 in her right ear only, and on Dec 8 in both ears. We received a notification that she needed to see an audiologist for further screening.

That appointment was today and she failed the screening test. Today's test indicated that she has normal hearing in her left ear (she heard 5 out 5 of the tests) but possible hearing loss in her right ear (she heard only 1 out of the 5 tests) and middle ear problems in both ears. The audiologist indicated that right now what she is likely experiencing is similar to having plugged ears on an airplane - something an adult would complain about, but children are highly unlikely to.

At this point we need to schedule an appointment with her regular doctor for treatment of her middle ear difficulties and wait for a referral to Audiology for a complete hearing test/full audiological evaluation which will likely take a couple of months.

In the meantime, we need to advise her teachers to speak on her "good side" to make things easier for everyone involved. And I certainly need to remember this myself too!

The audiologist suggested that at this point things could go either way and that she could not predict which way they would go. She said that we may be able to simply clear up the middle ear difficulties and things would be fine, or there may be further steps necessary to address the hearing loss.

In each of her tests the results have been progressively worse, though all screenings have taken place during winter (ie cold season) which can impact results as well.

There is some history of hearing loss in Nathan's extended family which is making me less than optimistic about future test results.

However, I am thankful that it is not a more serious problem. Hearing loss is certainly not life threatening, and would be my "loss of choice" if I was forced to choose (I, personally, would rather lose my hearing than my sight, for example).

That being said, we are still praying that her middle ear difficulties will be healed and her hearing completely restored, but that God would be glorified no matter the outcome - and humbly ask for your prayers as well. Thank you.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

A Successful Potty Training Mama's Reward

In my Top 10 Signs You're a Potty Training Mama post I indicated that I was going to reward myself with a purse - and so I did, twice over! The red/maroon one I got for $15 at Ricki's during our annual mother/daughter Christmas shopping trip with my mom and sisters. The other one I got in St. Thomas on our cruise this past week - I love them both!!

And, because of my handy dandy Chameleon purse organizer, changing purses has never been simpler! Now I WANT the purses I buy to be just one big open purse with no organizers, cause I have my own and it works great! I also found a really cool tutorial for a diy purse organizer if you want to custom make your own. Hmmm, I may have to try that :)

And I still want a purple purse. I have a small one, but it's too small, I "need" a bigger one. ;)

Monday, 7 February 2011

Book Review: The Rhythm of Secrets by Patti Lacy

About the book: Since 1955, Sheila Franklin, a talented musician, has perfectly performed the role of devout pastor’s wife, locking away her past as Sheba Alexander and Sylvia Allen. Her carefully constructed façade crumbles with a single phone call from a young Marine named Samuel, the illegitimate son she secretly put up for adoption. Samuel begs Sheila to use her government contacts to get his fiancé, Mali, a Thai prostitute, into America. A dangerous mixture of love and guilt spurs her to help her only child even though it devastates her husband Edward and exposes her questionable past. After a quarrel with Edward, Sheila and Samuel board a C-130 for Thailand and then search Bangkok’s steamy streets for a Madonna-faced prostitute. The two whisk Mali from a brothel but are seized by a warlord who considers Mali his “number one girl.” In a teak “ghost house,” Sheila discovers God’s grace and gains the freedom she needs to find her own identity—Sheila, Sylvia, and Sheba. A framed story, this novel has roots in the bohemian 1940s New Orleans French Quarter and spans three decades, including the turbulent Vietnam era.

My thoughts: As you can tell by the book summary above, this book covers a lot of ground! And yet, Patti Lacy manages to do so effortlessly, keeping you intrigued at each stage and anxiously waiting to see how the rest of the story will unfold.

The characters, particularly Sheila/Sylvia/Sheba, feel very real and their reactions do not seem forced and contrived in any way. Sheila has the most depth to her, which makes sense as this is her story, but the other characters are also fleshed out nicely, enabling you to understand the motive behind their behaviours, and to have compassion for some of them that you wouldn't expect to have.

The book doesn't just cover a lot of ground in the areas of timeline and geography - but also in the good, the bad and the ugly of the Christian faith and life in general. Characters include everyone from nuns (some severely strict, some strict with compassion, and some more empathetic than others); to pastors in the public eye and the all-important image to protect that comes with that; to the compassionate founders of the Moody Bible Institute; to a proud and image conscious aunt covering up years of pain; to ordinary people who can make a difference in someone's life.

Music also plays an integral part in this book - and I love music, so I loved that. :)

To top it all off, this book had unexpected twists and an ending I couldn't predict.

I highly recommend this book!

Thank you to Stephanie and Amy from Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.

Enter the Rhythm of Secrets NOOK eReader Giveaway:
Patti and her publisher, Kregel, are giving away a NOOK prize package worth over $150 to one lucky winner!!!!

Enter the Nook eReader Giveaway and you could win:
* A brand new Nook eReader with Wi-Fi
* $25 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble

To enter, simply click here to enter, then tell 5 or more friends about the contest. Oh, and enter soon! Winner will be announced on February 16th at Patti's Rhythm of Secrets Facebook Party


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