Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easter Brunch

 Well, happy Easter, friends!! I apologize for this long overdue brunch link up!! In honor of Easter, I thought that I would share one of my favorite crowd-sized breakfast dishes! I first tasted this yummy recipe at my Aunt Jean's house when I was probably around the age of fourteen...I begged her for the recipe (yes, at fourteen) so, she mailed it to me! This is the same wonderful aunt who introduced me to Martha Stewart and gave me my first subscription to MS Living when I was in high school.

Sausage Wild Rice Dish
1 lb Jimmy Dean Sausage
1 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced (I have also used canned mushrooms)
1 medium onion, sliced
1 pkg Uncle Ben's long grain wild rice, original recipe
1/2 Long grained white rice (I actually use the minute rice)

Brown sausage with onion and mushrooms.  Drain.  
Combine Uncle Ben's and White Rice and increase the water amount to 2 C, then cook according to package directions.
Combine meat and rice mixtures in large bowl.

Make the Cream Sauce:
Mix all together and pour over meat/rice mixture:
1/4 C Flour
2 1/2 C chicken broth
1/2 C milk
Oregano, Thyme, Pepper (to taste...I typically use about 1/2 t each)

 whisk the ingredients together.  they will be a little bit lumpy at first.

 Pour over meat/rice mixture and place in greased 9.5 X 13.5" casserole dish.  The mixture will appear soupy.

BAKE at 350* for 30 Minutes.  Sprinkle toasted almonds around the rim before serving (I actually never do, but, it is delicious that way).

This is one of those recipes that one can make ahead and bake the morning needed.  This makes about ten generous servings.

Care to share a favorite brunch recipe with us? Link up!!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sunday Brunch link up postponed

Hello friends! Happy Sunday!  I don't know if you've noticed that the past two Sundays have been missing their usual Sunday Brunch post, I apologize!! The stomach flu has hit our house...not fun! So, while we are on the mend after two weeks of miserable...none of us have felt much like preparing meals, let alone eating them...
Please check back this week.  I plan to open an Easter Brunch link up early on in the week and would love to have you share your recipes!!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

preparing. activities for Easter.

Easter is in less than two weeks.  
I always do something for lent, however this year my life has hardly slowed down enough to get a meal in or a decent night's rest.
I know this has been a busy, emotional season for many of you.  Running running running often leaves one crumbling with little time to process...and, I don't know about you, but I need time to ponder all that is around me, because all too often the people and work and experiences become clutter in my life, and I find myself simply clocking in, rather than being.

This season of our life has been busy.  So busy, that it looks a tornado hit our house...and, sometimes, I feel a little bit like my wearied soul might just look the same.

With Easter just around the corner, I thought it might be nice to share some activities to do by yourself or as a family, as a way to prepare our hearts during this Lenten season.
These activities are all individual stations from an ash wednesday workshop  we hosted a few years ago.  

Carving Soap:
All that's really needed for this activity is a dollar store potato peeler and a bar of soap.  One can use carving tools, however, I think the potato peeler might be a safer tool for little ones.  I also particularly love using a cuticle trimmer to create details in my soap sculpture.


I love to show my kids how a sculpture can be formed from a plain bar of soap...but not without first carving out some chunks...much like parts of our lives, wouldn't you say?

In his beautiful book, Drops like Stars, Rob Bell describes suffering as the process of creating a beautiful sculpture: 

on tour, Rob handed out bars of soap to carve.  
(*original soap image taken from Drops Like Stars by Rob Bell  i added the words and tape)
(*Rob Bell, Drops like Stars)

But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.
Then the word of the Lord came to me. He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel. Jeremiah 18:4-6.

Rock Hunt:
We love hunting for rocks in our house.  The little man started bringing home a pebble from his preschool playground everyday when he was tiny...then kindergarten started and he apologized because his new playground had wood chips, so, he would need to start bringing home wood chips.  We had a special box where he stored his rock collections and he would go and place each little pebble inside of it.  The other day, I pulled out his trundle to find a GIANT landscaping rock in it.  Um what?! I asked him where on earth he found this rock...oh, just the local rec. center.  again, what? I have no idea how he even got it into our car...I had to explain that rock hunts cannot take place on landscaped property.  and I digress.  

Our church in Dallas gave us each a rock to place in our pockets to remind us of Christ's time in the wilderness (Matthew 4) and that we are not alone in our own personal wilderness.  
Our kids love to hunt for a special rock to keep in their pockets during this season...while it may seem like such a simple idea, the whole outing provides for a way to discuss with our kids the symbolism behind each stone.  It is something, as they grow older, that they will remember during their own seasons of wilderness.

Weaving Pot holders
Everyone remembers the fun pot holder looms from childhood.  I loved those things, loved how a pile of stretchy fabric bands became a real live pot holder...even though, at eight or ten or however old I was, I didn't cook, had no need for those silly pot holders...I made them like they were going out of style.  

As an adult, I think this craft is a simple way of seeing and explaining how God works everything together for our good (Romans 8:28).  He takes our story...all of our experiences, our good our horrible...our triumphs and our utter tragedies and he weaves them into a beautiful tapestry.  Because, much like the elastic bands in these potholders , there are parts of us that we aren't proud of...there are things that happen that we wish we could take back (for me, it has been my illness and five thousand moves)...and yet, every piece of us makes us who we are, we would not be the same without it.  Each strand is needed to create each piece and to make it it's unique self.  Weaving a potholder with your kids is a perfect example of life and the beautiful and the horrible things that happen and the parts of our stories that are woven together to make us who we are. 

Also, please check out live fashionABLE, see the stories of these beautiful women weavers who are living examples of a beautiful woven life, and please consider purchasing one of their gorgeous scarves to help support them. (Naturally, I am in love with this one.)

Charcoal drawings
While this is a messy activity to do, especially with small children, it is incredibly symbolic.  One can liken charcoal to ashes, and with these "ashes" (charcoal) we can create a beautiful piece of artwork.  

I like to show that charcoal may have started as something entirely different, but, could not be used to create a beautiful drawing until it was burnt (Job 23:10)

aren't we all burning sticks snatched from the fire?

I'm not really sure what to call this activity.  We did something similar at our church in Dallas, and I loved it.  It's simple, all that's required is a black sharpie and black fabric like a cheap table cloth (or paper, but fabric is best).  Easter is about our Savior coming and dying for our sins, that we might have life (John 3:16-17, Romans 3:23 & 5:18, Isaiah 53, to name a few).  I have a really hard time really letting go of my sins, allowing myself to really give them up to the Lord, mostly because I cannot physically hand them to Him.  I love how I can physically offer up my transgressions with this activity.  Simply write these things down in sharpie on black fabric and they disappear.  (psalm 103:12)

Make a Play list
Lastly, make a play list.  Music moves me, so, to have a play list of songs to listen to during these activities is incredibly symbolic to me.  One of my favorite bloggers, Alison, is married to an equally talented man, who created the most beautiful album of hymns that will move you.  You might want to seriously consider adding this album to your music library.  

I wish you all a restful Easter week, and I hope you get a chance to try out one of these activities.
The theme of all of them is: making room for Christ to come in and work.  In order for the beauty that comes from the transformation to take place, we often must endure the painful sculpting, carving out, weaving, and sometimes a refiner's fire.  In the end we will come forth as gold. (or soap. or a potholder).

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Sunday Brunch: Puff Pastry Pockets

Hey Friends! Well, it's that time of week's the Sunday brunch series! This week's recipe came from an attempt to create a requested lunch box item that I don't necessarily approve of...
hot pockets.
seriously, gross.  I mean, no offense if you like them...I've just really swayed from all things frozen and we are dye free in our find myself trying to find quick alternatives, often.

Anywho, hang in there, b/c these are far from hot fact they need a dreamier more fitting name...I created this little recipe in hopes of freezing them to see how they taste re-heated...but, every single time I make them, they are devoured.  SO, without further adieu I give you:

Puff Pastry Pockets
1 Puff Pastry Sheet (these come 2 per box) cut into six pieces
1 C shredded cheddar cheese (give or take)
4 oz cooked breakfast sausage (I used Jimmy Dean)
6 eggs beaten with a teensy tiny bit of milk
sliced green onions
2 T melted butter.

Preheat oven to 400*.

Cook sausage , add eggs and scramble.  I usually use egg whites in my scrambled eggs, however, for this recipe it is better to have heavier eggs.

Roll out each pastry square.  Place about 1/4 c of scramble in center of dough, top with cheese and a sprinkling of green onions.

Fold up sides and pinch dough together to seal.
Brush melted butter over top and bake for 15 minutes (one can brush with an egg wash as well, which creates a nice golden pastry top, we just like the way the butter flavors the pastry).  Top with a sprinkling of cheese and place back in oven for 1 minute, until melted. Voila!

These are seriously one of the fastest breakfast recipes ever, but, the beauty of these little buttery morsels is, one can add whatever toppings they would like...sausage can be replaced with bacon, cheddar with a little swiss and spinach, or add some mushrooms and tomatoes...
AND you can customize each pocket for each picky little individual at your table.

Have a yummy brunch recipe to share with us? Link up! Be sure and "grab the code" below and paste it into the html of your post so this list will pop up on your post too!
Happy Sunday, friends! xoxo

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Sunday Brunch: French Toast Waffles

Good morning, friends! Is it SERIOUSLY Sunday already?! Wowsas, I find it sad that I have not posted since the last Sunday Brunch Series!! Sorry about that guys!
I am currently away at an athletic event for my kids, so, my contribution to this little link-up series is going to be a little bit more condensed than my usual post...

I do love a good brunch...weekends are my favorite because we can spend more time baking and most importantly, more time eating!! I love to sit and linger over coffee, good food, and good music...many a weekend we find ourselves seated at the farm table, still in our pajamas, eating and conversing long after the morning is over.

This little recipe is incredibly simple, however it is one of our family's faves!! I like it not only for the weekend but for a quick school day recipe, as well! It comes from my go-to cook book, Joy of Cooking

2 eggs
1/2 Cup Milk
dash of salt
1/4 Cup Melted butter
Thick sliced bread trimmed to fit in a waffle iron (our clan prefers sourdough)

In a shallow pie dish beat eggs by hand, add milk + salt and whisk together.
Whisk in melted butter, the butter will clump as it hits cooler ingredients, so be sure to continue stirring while coating bread.
Coat bread slices well on both sides in the batter.  Toast it for one and half to two minutes on waffle iron until bread reaches desired french toasty consistency.
YUMMY in my tummy is all I have to say about that!

Hope your Sunday is fabulous, friends!! Want to share your fave recipe with us today?! Link up!! Make sure to grab the code and insert it into your shared blog post.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sunday Brunch: Donut Muffins

For my first ever SUNDAY BRUNCH LINK UP I thought that I would share my most favorite weekend recipe ever...
Donut Muffins!!! (btw, does the spelling of "donut" bother anyone else? shouldn't it be spelled "doughnut?")

If you've known me for more than a week, you will know of my obsession with Donut Muffins!! We make and eat these every weekend, and sometimes we even make an extra batch to snack on throughout the week.

I love donuts and used to eat them ALL.OF.THE.TIME. however, since I've had to cut soy out of my diet, I've had to find alternatives for my Saturday donut+coffee habit.  I think potato flour would be an awesome alternative for my gluten free friends (however, it's been awhile since I've baked gluten free, so, I would love to hear suggestions).  I first found this recipe here on Paisley Jade and, have since tweaked it a little bit to fit our needs.

DONUT MUFFINS  or  DOUGHNUT MUFFINS (whichever you prefer)

1 3/4 C flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg

1/3 C melted butter
3/4 C sugar
3/4 C milk
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat a 12-hole muffin tin with baking spray (the kind that has flour is the best!) and set aside.

In a medium bowl combine: Flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

In a separate large bowl whisk together melted butter, sugar, milk, and egg.

Add dry ingredients and stir to combine.  Pour into prepared muffin tin and bake for 15-20 minutes until tops are firm.  (**don't be surprised, the muffins tops will appear very light in color)

Very gently turn muffins out onto a cooling rack and immediately dip them in:

10T melted butter

then roll them in a mixture of;

2/3 C + 1/6 C Sugar (I know, I know... a very strange measurement! I always find that I need another half of the 1/3 C measurement we'll call it 1/6 C)
2 1/2 T cinnamon
and devour!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

This song goes out to my blog Valentine: Brooke, From Under His Feathers

Happy Valentine's day, darling friends! I hope your love day is filled with all kinds of goodness...and in honor of love day I am going to introduce you to my valentine this year bc I know you're going to love her!! Blog, meet Brooke! Brooke, meet Blog!

In January I signed up to participate in a fun little valentine blog exchange...I have never done a blog exchange before...I mean I do #happymail with my instagram peeps...but, I have never done a blog exchange before.
I received an email that went a little something like this:
Brooke, meet Sarah
Sarah, meet Brooke
and it listed our blog addresses....the name of Brooke's blog was "From Under His Feathers," naturally I was of my absolute favorite verses, the kind of verse I cling to when I am scared or feel the waters rising and don't think that this time I can make it, comes from psalm 91 and tells me I will find shelter under His feathers.  Being the blog stalker that I am, I immediately hopped onto Brooke's blog...sure enough, she was quoting that verse.  I felt an instant connection and emailed her immediately to tell her how much I thought my usual declare-my-love-of-you-sarah-fashion, I threw myself at her.  That's what I do...when I like you I tell you.  I'm not a smoke blower, folks, I'm just me...and, I sent that immediate email and then...I did not hear back right away.  I thought, oh great, I've gone and done it again, I've probably shared way too much and I've scared another someone off who probably thinks i am a bit on the crazy side.  BUT, Brooke was out of town...
and I left for Alt Summit and the weeks that led up to that were filled to the brim and I didn't have time to think about how I was sure I had chased off a potential blog friend. LOL.  I arrived in SLC for my first day of Alt and we decided to stop at a bakery for a quick lunch...I was feeling a tad bit insecure about being at such an amazing conference, and about my blog...or lack thereof...I was thinking that perhaps it was time to shut the blog down and focus primarily on my art, or better yet, paying the bills and running to and from activities and all 60 million board meetings...and then, I opened my email to find the sweetest letter  that began like this (I hope it's ok that I am posting this Brooke?):

Hey Sarah -

Just wanted to touch base with you now that I am back in town and had the chance to sit down and read your blog a little more. Girl, you should write more! I just read your post about refinement... It sounds like you have a lot to share, and I, for one, would love to hear more. I am struggling with a lot of the same questions and issues. It seems like when you're going through trials (of any kind), we find ourselves caught between this knowing that God is a redeemer and takes the ugly and makes it beautiful and trusting in that, and wanting it to be over already so we can move on with our lives, unable to really savor what it is in the season that he is doing. I honestly REALLY REALLY am having a hard time with that... being in the moment of the trial and feeling it all, savoring the experience of relationship with God, interacting with him as things happen, experiencing his presence all around at all times in the midst of it... finding joy in the day to day life in spite of the suffering. My trials are different than yours, but I find myself in a very similar place, clinging to those same truths (that Gungor song - one of my FAVES), wondering what it's all for, and wanting to know already. 

I don't know why, but, I started crying right there in that bakery.  What an amazing person.  And in the weeks that followed, I discovered more of what an amazing person I was so divinely paired with for the valentine exchange.  If anyone should write, it is Brooke (seriously go check out her blog)...she is honest and open and her posts are refreshingly real...making you realize you are not alone...she has lived this amazingly beautiful story filled with ups and downs and twists and turns...there have been some serious lows...but, it's funny b/c she really does exhibit the person who knows she will come forth as gold...she is the clay at the wheel and she knows this...she's so brave and so beautiful.  I know she will forever be my lifelong friend...
not JUST b/c she loves vintage, or had her first child at 21 like me, or likes the same music (Brooke has dedicated a playlist for you for later on in the post, in real valentine fashion! I still believe that real friends make mixed tapes! hehe), hates to talk on the phone like me, is wordy like me, answers ALL of her survey questions like me (y'all we would've been paired as college dorm mates b/c our answers were practically identical), or most importantly has THE.EXACT.SAME. dream car as I do!! 
no, she is seriously my kindred spirit!! I feel so blessed to have been paired with such a lovely person and I know it was not by chance and I hope to be forever friends with this little lady!! 

Brooke had this awesome idea-r that we should give each other a survey to get to know each other better..the questions I wrote for Brooke to answer weren't nearly as cool as hers were, but, I so enjoyed reading through her answers!!

fave color: GREEN
fave show: GOLD RUSH or Portlandia
fave store: I love World Market, Hobby Lobby or Forever 21!!
the guilty pleasure you spend money on (I am a total homegoods person): My guilty pleasure is shoe and plants... if I get it in my head that I want a certain style or something I will just go get it and struggle with spending the money! I never buy anything full price but popping for something over $20 seems like a lot to me. Plants... when it's Spring I am really bad about splurging on plants... and garden materials.
urban or rural: Somewhere in between - I love the wide open space of rural but still need a little culture. I would say for my sanity I need rural MORE, so, yeah, rural. 
hot or cold: Probably more hot than cold these days.
fave drink in a coffee shop OR how you take your coffee/tea: I am pretty simple gal. I just like coffee with a lot of cream. If I am going to splurge in a coffee shop I might get something fancy as long as it has whipped cream on top and isn't TOO sweet. In the winter time I take my coffee with egg nog in it and love to have egg nog lattes if I get the chance!
dream car (i desperately want a 1970's vw van...not my practical mommy car): HAHA! I totally want a VW van! We almost got one once but then we watched the crash test ratings. One day I think we'll get one but not for hauling kids in. I traveled in one a little in my past life. As far as a dream car now... gosh, I really love oldie Suburbans. We are on our second one as a family but this last one has been a doozie - lots of problems, so I am just happy to have a car with no problems. I do love Subarus... but we just wrecked our Outback... sooooo.... I guess I am out of answers. OH! I would like a VW TDI wagon... (diesel). There. That's it.
fave song...or write a playlist of current faves to dedicate to my readers (mixed tapes are the epitomy of love and vlanetines day!!): Oh man. Being a musician myself I have many many favorite songs. My all time favorite song has got to be In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel. Here's a list of a few favorite songs. I like old music. I probably cannot tell you much about very many modern bands.

In Your Eyes - Peter Gabriel (Secret World Live version)
When we Dance - Sting
Bullet the Blue Sky - U2 (and many others on the Joshua Tree album)
Chicago - Sufjan Stevens
Halocene - Bon Iver
Red Clay Halo - Gillian Welch
Eyes of the World - Grateful Dead
I Can't Make You Love Me - Bonnie Raitt
When the Levee Breaks - Led Zeppelin
Is That Enough - Marvin Gaye 
Use Me - Bill Withers
Don't You Forget About Me - Simple Minds
I Wanna Be Your Lover - Prince
Take it Back - Pink Floyd

I will stop there because the list could go on and on... but hopefully that gives you an idea. I have sooo many interests. I am a musician (singer, guitar player) so I pretty much get stoked over really great music. To make a list of my favorites doesn't even begin to capture my interests. :)

On the day that my valentine package arrived, I nearly hit the floor...I first opened it to find the most adorable (and yummy) candy (sorry, the truffles are not pictured for obvious reasons) 

 and a notebook with the most special note written from Brooke...
 I unwrapped layers of tissue paper and bubble wrap to find THE.MOST.AMAZING. valentine's gift ever!! ohmyword...
 only my closest friends know about my obsession with vintage...and my latest love of vintage jewelry (esp. strung beads)...

 in each little compartment, Brooke had taken the time to write the sweetest little notes containing Bible verses

I really did gasp when I opened my was as if a lifelong friend who knows me inside and out and goes thrifting with me had sent it!! I was SO touched, I felt SUCH love...honestly, I loved this gift to of the best gifts I've ever been given...but, topping all of it, the gift this year was gaining this new friend Brooke and discovering her beautiful blog AND her AHHHMAAAAZING ETSY STORE (seriously, if you love vintage, Brooke is your gal!).  I hope to someday sit and sip our not-so sweet coffees (oh yeah, I take mine almost the same...a teeny bit of sugar) in person!!! 
Happy Valentines Day, Friends! 

"He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart." psalm 91:4