Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Favorite Recipes, Part III

Another family favorite--that our friend Kristin F. introduced us to--is Sweet Potato Casserole.

This recipe is not mine and comes from various sources. Here it is:


3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup melted butter

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup chopped pecans

Combine first 6 ingredients. Pour into a buttered 1½ to 2-quart casserole dish. Mix remaining ingredients together and sprinkle over top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 – 40 minutes, until hot and browned.

Serves 6 – 8.

Since it takes a lot of time and effort to cook and mash the sweet potatoes, I double-batch this recipe and freeze one unbaked dish in the freezer. Then, when needed, I thaw the dish and bake. Walla! Yumminess without the work!

(I make this recipe with almond milk and non-dairy butter. The taste is perfect.)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Favorite Recipes, Part II

This recipe is an absolute favorite, and one I can't seem to keep these muffins in the house. I have worked very hard on this recipe, revamping an old favorite of the recipe that friends give one another (and have to knead every day...). This is a make, bake, and eat-the-same-day recipe.

Since this recipe takes a lot of time and effort, I only ever double-batch it. It is well worth the effort!

Julie's Version of

In a large bowl, mix together:
5-1/3 cups flour
2-2/3 cups sugar
4 teaspoons cinnamon
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 boxes of 5.1 oz. instant pudding (any flavor)*

In another bowl, beat with a whisk:
6 eggs
2 cups applesauce
1-2/3 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla

Mix the liquid ingredients with the dry ingredients just until moist.

OPTIONAL mix-ins:
chopped nuts, dates, cherries, raisins, chocolate chips, etc.

Grease 4 loaf pans and dust them with flour.
Lightly sprinkle the tops of the loaves with cinnamon and sugar.
Bake for 45 minutes - 1 hour at 350 degrees.
Brush softened butter on top of the hot loaves.

Fill muffin tins 2/3 full of batter.
Lightly sprinkle the tops of the loaves with cinnamon and sugar.
Bake for 22-25 minutes at 350 degrees.
Brush softened butter on top of the hot muffins.
Yields about 32 muffins.

*Our family prefers vanilla pudding

Friday, September 26, 2014

Favorite Recipes, Part I

Our family has some favorite recipes that I make quite often. One recipe that the children have asked for daily this week will be the first recipe I'll feature. The recipe is for baked oatmeal.

My friend Kristi R. first introduced my family to baked oatmeal, and we loved it! So, I began researching recipes.

Since I bake for one who is diabetic and a few who cannot have dairy, here's my version of Amish Baked Oatmeal:


2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup Truvia Baking Blend sweetener
¾ cup cinnamon applesauce
1 cup almond milk
3½ cups quick-cooking oats

In mixing bowl, beat eggs. Add the rest of ingredients except oats and mix thoroughly until well combined. Add oats and stir.

Pour equally into 2 greased 8" x 8" baking dishes. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 - 35 minutes.

Cut into bar or square shapes and top with peanut butter, if desired.

(Since my family loves this recipe, I double-batch it and put one batch in the freezer for quick "granola bar" snacks.)

To make this recipe with regular sugar, substitute ½ cup Truvia Baking Blend sweetener for 1 cup of sugar. Also, regular milk can be substituted for almond milk. Another option is to include two very ripe (mashed) bananas to the double batch. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Staying in the Lines

I walked into the kitchen this morning to find Hope teaching her foot how to "stay in the lines".

What a crack-up! These children make me laugh so often! I wish I had documented each time!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Hope gets decorated

While I was away at a meeting, Daddy played a game with Cherish and Hope. He realized Hope's bangs were hanging in her eyes, so he took her to the restroom to fix her hair. He put a ponytail at the top of her head to pull the bangs back. Then, he decided to add two more ponytails--one to each side of her head. He thought she needed one more, so he added one to the back of her head. Four ponytails in all.

Hope decided she needed a barrette. So, daddy put one in.

Cherish, then, began the beautifying process:

Pictures compliments of a very cool daddy.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Andrew's precious heart

This past week Andrew told me over and over again that he will take care of me in my old age. While hugging me one day he said, “Mommy, when you get old and shrink small and I get big, I’ll marry you. I’ll carry you around and take care of you all the time. I will buy you diapers with my own money, get my crib and put you in it. I’ll move the crib next to my bed, and we’ll sleep together. I will always take care of you.”

Then, as I was preparing breakfast one morning, he set the table and told me he was going to begin "taking care of [me] now". Hope said to me: "I, too, take care of you!" Andrew said: "No, Hopie. You grow up, I take care of you AND mommy. I buy you lots of milk to help you keep growing."

Then on Thursday after Derek finished mowing, Andrew went outside to help him with the lawn work. Andrew worked hard! I said, "Andrew, thank you so much for helping Daddy!" Andrew replied back: "Does it make God happy?" I said: "Yes, Buddy!" With that, he smiled and went right back to work.

   This boy blesses our socks off!    

Friday, September 19, 2014

Homeschooling Hope

Starfall is a part of Hope's phonics curriculum, and she loves it!

She gets so involved that I have to make her get off the computer to start the next subject. That says a lot for starfall.com!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Congenital Tracheomalacia

It has a name.

Hope has congenital tracheomalacia, which explains why she sounds like she has croup with each and every cough or cold--regardless of how mild the cough or cold!

Tracheomalacia is very uncommon, and occurs when the trachea cartilage does not harden. The cartilage normally hardens by the age of 18-24 months in children with tracheomalacia.

However, at 5-years-old, Hope still suffers greatly. Her trachea never hardened. Thus, her trachea (cartilage) collapses into her windpipe. Then, when she has a cough or cold, the minimal swelling that normally occurs--which is usually not a problem for most people--cuts off the little bit of air passageway she has. Thus, she struggles greatly with breathing when she has the slightest illness.

There is no cure and there are no surgery options. Thus, we pray that if God would so choose, He would heal her by allowing her trachea to harden.

In the meantime, Hope is quite loopy from being under anesthesia, so I'm going to be snuggling with her today.

Thanks for caring!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Truly. We are well.

Special thanks to all who have noticed my lack of blogging and have called, written, or asked in person if we are well.

We truly are well. We have just been soaking in family time and adjusting to our new fall schedules.

To show how well we actually are, here are some summer pictures as proof J:

Cherish getting her ears pierced:

Cherish at her dance recital:

Celebrating the USA:

Hope, our family cheerleader:

The horn blower:

Playing in the tents I made for the children:

Cooling off:


Spending quality time with loved ones:

Travel buddies:

Hope's first rock climb:

Cousin time:

Playing dress-up:

And, since the last time I posted, Hope had oral surgery (with 12 teeth needing repair):

And she did great!

Hope began ballet and tap classes (missing the first class due to being in quarantine before the surgery). She came out of quarantine and got sick this very day.

And, she's pretty much looked like this ever since:

She wears a mask when she is around people--since she is going back under anesthesia at the children's hospital on Tuesday. (We have found this is much more convenient than keeping Hope in quarantine.)

Andrew started 4-year-old VPK, and here he is waiting in the car-pool line on his first day of school:
 He was so ready to begin; he never even looked back:

In the meantime, I'm homeschooling the girls, and Cherish now knows cursive. Ugh! There are no more "secrets"--she can read anything! *wink*

Oh, and Cherish began taking piano lessons for the first time, began another year of dance (ballet and tap), and helped paint her bedroom:

We also spent the evening at the beach to celebrate the Autumn Moon Festival:

and spent some wonderful times gathered with family and special friends.
What a blessing it is to have such precious people in our lives!

So, as I stated previously:

we are alive, well, and...
blessed beyond measure!

Thanks for caring!