Sunday, January 30, 2011

Soaked Baked Oatmeal

This is a recipe that my dear friend Sarah Kouba at Bread and Honey shared with me and I just had to pass it on. It is always devoured with delight at our gatherings along with tea.

It really can be enjoyed anytime of day, breakfast, a snack or over tea!

2-1/2 c. oats
1-3/4c. buttermilk*
1/2 c. coconut oil
4 eggs
1/2 c.sugar, maple syrup or honey (I use raw honey)
1tsp. baking powder
1/2tsp. salt
2tsp. Cinnamon (I don't use this if using a different fruit ie. strawberries, blueberries etc)
2tsp vanilla
2c. raisins**
2c. chopped apples or pears**
Optional: 2c chopped nuts mixed in or sprinkle on top.

Soak oats and buttermilk covered on the kitchen counter overnight. In the morning, beat oil, sugar and eggs until glossy. Add baking powder, salt, cinnamon and vanilla; beat. Stir in oats, raisins and chopped apples/pears. Pour into 9x13 baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes (Sarah I generally find in needs 25-30 minutes, but 20 is what the original recipe states)

*Sarah's notes!

Instead of buttermilk, use the same quantity of coconut milk plus 1-2 tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. Also, you can use as little as 1/4 cups of honey.

** Rosie's notes!

You can really substitute the raisins/apples for any fruit/nut combo you fancy. I loved it with strawberries and blueberries. Josh wasn't a fan of the texture so I substituted for:

1 cup of dried cranberries
1/2 cup of shredded coconut
1/2 cup of sliced almonds

You can see I have used less fruit etc than the original recipe as a personal preference, but you are welcome to double my quantities if you would like!

Authentic Memories.

This last week we have visited a lot of tourist places and taken many pictures. I love capturing the moment. I try not to pose the kids, just snap quickly. Sometimes it doesn't work out to hot since I am making myself shoot only in manual.

I also noticed other families taking photographs. One mom determined to make all the children sit still and smile. She was getting stressed and so were the kids. This is not an uncommon sight.

You hear it - at the zoo, at the park, at play dates - SMILE!!! SAY CHEESE!!! SIT DOWN, SMILE! LOOK AT THE CAMERA. Families getting more irate as they try to get a picture.

Why are they taking the picture? Why do people take pictures of their family and friends smiling somewhere together?

Because they want to remember the fun they had.

Then I started thinking, are we really having fun? Are we really enjoying our family? Or are we just taking a picture with fake smiles to share on facebook or frame on the wall? Perhaps we are trying to prove to the world 'we had fun! we are awesome and cool!'

I asked myself: When we are together as a family, I am I making to much effort to get a good picture and forgetting to actually enjoy the people I am with?

Is my determination to get a picture actually sabotaging the fun we could be having instead?

This week, I can answer that I think my picture taking was healthy, but in the past in might not have been. Anyway, I left the camera at home for a few days, just in case.

Lets try and make all our photos of authentic, happy moments. Not just posed pictures that were so hard to get and left us exasperated.

When you look back at your photo albums, you'll remember that special moment, the sights, the smells, the laughter, the conversation...

Here are some shots I took, that made my heart filled with joy, because of the joy and beauty of the people in them that was so clear at that moment. They aren't the best photos, but they are authentic memories.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Changing the Standard.

We set way too high expectations for ourselves as mothers.

We believe we should have this supernatural freaky super hero power to daily prepare hearty yet healthy foods, have a clean house, teach the two year old how to quote Shakespeare, sew something, read something intellectual yet practical to our daily lives, have written 10 blogs and then welcome our husbands home with a perky smile by the end of each day (oh and attended a play date or two).

This is unrealistic. Women have always competed on the home front and in child rearing but I believe that the world of Facebook and blogging has added extra pressure to the mom.

Every time she logs onto her computer she is inundated with status's of her friends accomplishments, how so and so's 2 month old counts to 52, how such and such made matching dresses for all 20 of her kids - You get the point.

I start reading blogs and all the women seem perpetually happy with sweet anecdotes. They always have a witty light hearted comeback for every difficult situation and never seem to be tired or frustrated.

As a result I look at my own life and productivity in comparison and have feelings of guilt and inadequacy as a mother and wife. I am trying to be someone who is unattainable.

As with photographs in media of airbrushed supermodels, blogs and Facebook have a habit of 'airbrushing' lives to where you only see the highlights and not the daily struggles that we all have.

It's time to change the standard. God's standard.

Let this years standard be to love. To love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and strength and to love your neighbour as yourself.

This year, come on the journey with me, let God plan your day and activities. Feel the burden taken from your shoulders. When our children look back at the happy times, they won't remember so much all the 'stuff' but they will remember our relationships with God and how it beautifully transformed your love for them.

They will remember to love between you and your husband, as you model the relationship between Christ and His bride, the Church.

You don't have to climb a mountain of tasks each day. Just walk down a path God leads you on at a pace He has set for you.

Take each day slow. Set small goals. Do what you do for God, not because you feel like you need to live up to s standard that you see on social networks or in parenting magazine.

Don't just keep adding stuff to your life to 'keep up with the Jones'. Not making your own laundry detergent, ordering fast food every now and then, not always getting everyone out there PJ's and watching tv, having a good ol' cry doesn't make you below par, it makes you real and human. We are a work in progress, trying each day to be more like Christ. Not that we are perfect from the get go.

Pray about what is a priority in your life. Pray about what gifts and talents God wants you to use in your home to show love and beauty.

Our job is not to be super woman, but to super LOVE the people in our lives.

Living in the future: When did I get old?

Ok, I get it, I am not really old. But when kids already refer to things you thought were new and exciting as 'old fashioned' and you find yourself saying things like 'Oh yes, I went there but it was, hmmm, 18 years ago' - You feel old. So, it got me thinking about all the 'cool' things that are old news now.

When I was a kid
Compact Disks were scary.
We didn't get the point.
A cassette worked just fine and they were cheaper.
Now CD's are old school. What's a cassette? A record, what?
Pass me the iPod.

I'll admit. I still haven't got into the blu-ray thing. It was not that long ago we were buying VHS. I'm still adjusting to DVDs. Give me more time.

I remember schools getting the first computer labs,
Pioneering new territories in education. Most of the class was taken waiting for the computer to turn on.
We used Ask Jeeves, what's Yahoo?
If you were cool, you had a hotmail account.
Does anyone use hotmail anymore?

Video conferencing was this crazy futuristic thing.
The whole webcam thing was amazing.
Now you can skype from your iPhone.
Seriously, that wasn't something that was supposed to be possible while I was alive,
That was 'THE FUTURE', space agey kinda stuff.

Not all cars had seatbelts. Unleaded fuel was green. Electronic cars, again - space age material.

Remember those HUGE Nokia bricks that everyone had with the big antennae?
We actually thought those were small. Phone charms - enough said.

I know I am not the only one who got excited watching 'Aladdin', being amazed at the animation.
Being blown away by the special effects on Jurassic Park.

Back to the internet. Only rich people had that. Do you remember Libby Kennedy arguing with Carl about getting it, but he was resistant it was so expensive! Oh and dial up. I can't believe we actually couldn't use our phones when the internet was on.

And just for fun...

Slap Bracelets
Adidas pants
The Spice Girls
Take That
Boom boxes
Teenage girls talking like the teletubbies

And back to the point:

I am living in an era, in which the things that seemed like they wouldn't happen for hundreds of years until people lived on the moon and drove flying cars are actually happening.

It's just strange. I am beginning to believe that I'll see people frequently transporting like in Star Trek.

And that leads me to another thing... watching old space movies and thinking how old tech the computer equipment looks on the space ships.

Tecnology and trends move so fast. Yet, the awesome thing is, that God is the same, He still loves us and seeks a relationship with us.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Crockpot Roast Beef: The Busy Mom's Lifeline

It's been a busy year. A VERY busy year. Especially the fall. We moved, we had a baby, Josh started a new job, thanksgiving, Christmas... I have been busy, tired and not had much time to cook and still haven't established a routine.

One thing that is important to me, amongst the craziness is to provide my family with healthy meals each day.

Crock pot beef has been my lifeline. It's so easy, it wins you mega mommy points and you can do so much with it. Sure, I enjoy being more creative at meal time, but with change and a new baby, that is going on the shelf and we're in survival mode when it comes to meals.

Here's what I do and it tastes great every time.

1. Buy an enormous pot roast
2. Cover the roast in flour
3. Sear both sides very lightly
4. Put in crock pot
5. Add 2 cups of beef broth, some salt, pepper, garlic, oregano and half a chopped onion
6. Put on low, I normally leave it on the 12 hour setting. Walk away and don't worry about dinner.

There is so much you can do with this, to make it last several meals. Here are some I have come up with so far, that can get you through 2-3 days.

Beef, Gravy, Roast Potatoes, peas, carrots
BBQ Beef, baked potatoes with sour cream, corn
Beef sub sandwiches, mustard, provolone.
Use it for a soup.
Use it for a pie.
Use it in a salad.

In the past, I had avoided the big roasts because they seemed so exspensive, but they are not, because you can make them work through several meals and it saves a lot of time, which is important, because there aren't many minutes in the right now that I am not attending sweet little ones.

REVIEW: Oliver's Labels

How often does a sippy cup get left behind at a play date? A coat at the jump zone? How many tears have been shed over lost luvvies and favorite dolls gone astray?

Oliver's Labels seek to solve this long standing dilemna with their cute, durable name tags which come in a variety of cheerful designs and are made with long lasting adhesive backs to stick to a an array of well loved items.

The folks over at Oliver's Labels were kind enough to send me some sweet labels for the girls to take on a test drive. Their customer service is prompt and friendly. Even though I had requested labels that said 'Esther and Rachel Brown', they were kind enough to make the girls individual labels pointing out that "With two young girls and a baby at home, we just know having two sets of our labels will help keep you organized." They definitely understand the importance of being organized to a mother of three.

For the girls, I picked out the nature design, but there were so many choices: Sports, Sea life, Flowers to name just a few.

I was especially impressed with their allergy labels. They provide labels for allergies against dairy, gluten, eggs, seafood, peanuts and As a parent, something that is always of great concern is the safety of my children. I cannot imagine having the extra worry of a child with severe food allergies. I believe these labels can help put a parents mind somewhat at ease.

So, back to helping kids not loose their stuff! Oliver's Labels have designed and incorporated a nifty little system called 'Found-It'. A 9 digit code is applied to each label. Upon finding an item, the finder can log in to, report the item using the code and you are notified by email.

Oliver's labels acts as an intermediary, so no personal information is ever shared. As their website says, Found-It really is a homing device for your lost item!

Ok, so here in the moment you have been waiting for! The photo's! Here are so pictures of the items with have tagged so far. Aren't they cute? My girls just love them.

So, what else can you use your Oliver's Labels for? Hats? Toys? Baby gear? Lunch Boxes? Back packs? Use your imagination!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using and the Tomoson weekly featured sponsor Favorite Wigs - Shop Name Brand Wigs at Low Prices! Large Wig Selection of Forever Young Wigs, and other Quality Wigs. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Tomoson Product review & giveaway Disclosure.