Saturday, May 31, 2014

Pizza Noodle Bake

Saturday, May 31, 2014

I made some changes to this dish from the original recipe as the original seemed really dry. My girls absolutely loved this and ate without complaint. I hope you find this dish as fast and tasty as we did!

10 ounces egg noodles, uncooked
1 1/2 ground beef
2 jars (14oz) or 1 jar (24oz) pizza sauce
2 cups shredded cheddar
1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1 package pepperoni
sliced olives
any other pizza toppings you would put on your pizza

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

Cook noodles according to package directions.

Meanwhile, cook beef in a skillet on medium high heat until no longer pink.

Add pizza sauce and let simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Drain noodles and spread half on the bottom of the pan. Top with half the meat, half the cheddar. Add whatever toppings you like on your pizza. Layer rest of noodles, meat, cheese, toppings, and then  your mozzarella.

Bake, uncovered, for 15 - 20 minutes and serve! (This dish does really well doubling and then freezing for later or to give to a family in need.)

original recipe:

Buttermilk Blueberry Banana Bread

Saturday, May 31, 2014

My oldest LOVES this bread. I was not a fan at first but it seemed to taste much better the second day. It was fast and easy to put together and my kids love it for breakfast! (Or maybe they just like trying to say the name of it really fast without messing up?)

 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
 1 teaspoon baking powder
 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
 1/4 teaspoon salt
 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
 1 cup sugar
 2 large eggs
 1/4 cup buttermilk
 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
 3 ripe bananas, mashed
 1 cup blueberries (I use fresh)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly coat four mini loaf pans with nonstick spray. (I use my Pampered Chef stoneware one.)

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes)

Beat in eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla until well combined.

Beat in bananas until combined.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add this mixture to the other mixture until completely combined.

Add blueberries and gently stir. Scoop into loaf pans and bake for 30-35 minutes (my stones took 40 minutes.) You really need to toothpick test this recipe.

When done, let cool for 15 minutes before inverting the bread onto a wire rack. (You really shouldn't skip this step, I won't divulge how I know this.) 

 original source:
Her photos are prettier!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Mexican Lasagna

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

We discovered a new family favorite tonight! (Okay, to be completely honest, this dish has some zip to it, but not enough to.. throw a stick at??) My oldest, who is 5, didn't like it, however, my two-year old loved it. Give it a try at tell me what you think!

The original recipe called this dish a mac and cheese, but with the way it is layered up I think of it more like a lasagna. I changed one think in the recipe and will probably be playing with this one a lot because it seems to be lacking in moisture, but where moisture lacks, flavor abounds, and it's full of "deslish!"

1 box Mostacolli or Rigatoni Pasta
1 lb pork sausage
1 cup chopped onion
1 jar mild restaurant style salsa
2 packages (8 oz, or one 16 oz) shredded cheese, (I used 1 Mexican and 1 Fiesta)
Tomato wedges, sliced, jalapeno peppers, sour cream
Salsa (on the side)

Lightly spray a 9x13 pan, and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook pasta, drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook sausage and onion until meat is browned and onion is tender (I also added my cut up tomato here and am really glad I did.)
Stir in salsa.
In the prepared 9x13, layer half of the pasta, sausage, and cheese. Repeat with the other halves.
Bake uncovered for 20-30 minutes, or until bubbly.
Let stand for 10 minutes, and serve.
We added the jalapeno peppers after because we know our kids wouldn't eat them. It adds a nice kick!

Here is another meal I hope you enjoy as much as we did! Fast and easy!

Original source:

The Pursuit of God

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

"I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me."
Proverbs 8:17

I was talking to my sister the other day. She had texted and asked me if I had the time to wax her eyebrows. Of course, I will take any excuse to see my sisters so I happily agreed to: A)inflict pain and to B) get to see her.

She was about to leave her house when she said, "I hope you don't mind, I didn't get to shower today yet." As a new mom, this made me grin, because I had to think for a second when it was that I also have showered. My reply, "No problem! Me either!" But what she said next was what got to me, "Taking a shower is like my own little vacation."

Let me tell you all what my shower is like, because they are anything BUT my own little vacation. They usually always begin with my 5 year-old coming in first, to ask if she can have a fruit snack (at 6 A.M.).

"No," I reply.
"But why?" she whines.
"Because it's too early for sugar" I offer in a tired, groggy state.
"Can I have marshmallows?" She wont relent.
"Nooooooooo." I respond again.
"Why noooot?" she groans back.
"Sugar honey, marshmallows are sugar!" I respond as I fish soap out of my newly agitated eye.
"Well, fine! I will have a banana," She suggests.
"You can't, they are gone." I now have felt all the hot steamy air has been sucked from the room and am now grumpy. "Have an apple while you wait, I will come make you breakfast when I am DONE in HERE!" At this point she does something only teenagers are said to do and huffs off to her apple.

After I jump out into the freezing cold bathroom, slam the door, and jump back in to the hot shower, I only begin to think about how I am going to teach thankfulness for an apple that starving African children do not get to eat when my two year old pops in to mimic big sister.

"MAMA! DOING??" As she whips the curtain open, allowing the cold air to consume me.
"Showering," I respond, now frustrated.
"Eat." She kind of asks, kind of states. 
"Yeah, yeah, mommy will make you something when I am out." I respond again.
"Apple like sissy?" She excitedly asks.
"Yeeeees, go have an apple." I just want to shower!

I hear her diaper swish-swash out of the room and think, finally, just finally, I am alone. The door might be open, but so what, I just need to hurry to obviously save my family from an early morning famine. Hear me out here, I am anything but a morning person. I am now in a spot of severe agitation, thankful that my husband at least has my infant under control, and my negative, complaining heart takes off... "He can't even let me take a five minute shower! I can't even..." And it is at that point where I hear a snorting, licking, slurping, wiggle-wiggle of a 50 pound golden doodle trying to jump in to get a good ol' swim while he has a fair shot. "TOBY! OUT! GET OUT! JOHN! GET THE DOG!" Of course, the door was open, why wouldn't the dog take his chance? The wet, long haired, miniature horse goes trampling out, sliding all over the newly soaked floor, leaving behind his wet dog smell and nervous doggy piddles for me to add to my list of "things to do today." Gosh, ya'll, mommy just wants to get the shampoo out of her hair, "I won't even wash my face, just let me..."

"Honey?" a seductive, manly voice comes from the door, setting down a cup of coffee.
"No, John, no. Go. Let me shower. Just go." At this point, I am now bashing my head into the side of the tub over and over.
"But I just wanted to bring you your coffee and (insert slide of a shower curtain here) say good morning to my beautiful bride (insert some sort of attempt to continue in sensuality here)."

This is when we begin to half fight, half talk about considering feeding the starving children in the living room, firmly debating selling the dog, and closing out with yelling about what we are going to do today all at once, before the situation erupts into anything BUT "my own little vacation."

Left alone to try to collect myself, dry off, and regain composure before venturing off to apologize, I wonder, what if we pursued God the way our families pursue moms who simply want to shower? Jerimiah 29:13 says, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." I start to feel guilty. My family seeks me and finds me, no matter where I am, because they trust me to respond, take care of them, and to listen to their concern. They approach me as their care taker to save them from this horrible situation they are faced with. So what if the problem is they simply cannot reach their breakfast, they trust me to hear them and then provide for them. They are relentless in their attempt to sway my decision or at least know why my answer was no.

What if we were in a constant pursuit of God like that? What if we always wanted to communicate with God, know his thoughts, to ask him questions, to visit, no matter what the situation was? God wants us to seek him like that, he says, "Knock, I will answer, seek, you will find!" (Luke 11:9-10) I bet, being that he is way more patient that I am pre-coffee and post a patchy night sleep with an infant, that he strongly wishes people would search for him like that.

You know, the thought of having that "faith like a child" gets to me here, in this stage of motherhood. My toddlers need me now. If I leave the room, I have clearly abandoned them. When I am cooking, I clearly don't notice them unless they are walking on my feet. If I am on the phone, they have something extremely urgent and important to say. Let me say, every day, it gets so exhausting. However, every night, or in the early morning hours of feeding, I think, "Someday, they will be teenagers." That means they won't want to go on every single shopping trip with their lame mom in her lame mom car. They won't care about what is for breakfast because they won't be out of bed until lunch. Chances are, I could possibly die and have it take a few days for them to realize I have gone. 

I wonder, in my own life, if I treat my heavenly father the same way some teenagers treat their parents. "God, I really need this, so if you would kindly send some money," "God, I don't like this situation, change it," "God, I know we haven't talked in a while but..." I often wonder even now, if God gets the best of me, or if he gets me when I have to admit that I cannot do it on my own like I have been trying so hard to do all along. I wonder if God shakes his head when I finally get free time and I choose to search Pinterest for new ways to measure up to the new standard of mommy-hood. Maybe God really just wants me to rest in His perfection instead. To open his word and seek him in the pages. To pray to him about how bad I just want to shower in peace, learn about what respecting my husband really means, or for that persecuted Christian a world away.

Lord, let this be me. Search me and know me, clear out my busy and have me seek you like my kids and husband seek me. God you love us moms in all our glamor and even in our, well, not so glamorous moments. Thank you for your grace and margins. Please help me learn to seek you in all and any circumstances, for any reason. Help me to bask in your approachable love, forgiveness, and refreshing breath of hope and peace in a world filled with chaos. Help me to trust you with my life like my children trust me with theirs. Even more-so, help me to lead them to you, to trust you like that too.

Oh yeah, and Lord:
Please, please, pleeeease, let that rattily old lock on the door work next time I take a shower.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Bad For You Cupcakes

Monday, May 12, 2014

At least that is what I call them because they are bad for you and I can't stop eating them.

But this is what they are really called and where you can find the original recipe. We love them around here, they are easy to whip up, and are extremely tasty. Again, I didn't make this recipe, all the credit goes to this lady, but they are our family favorite, so please go to her blog and send her some love if you like them too!

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • Cookie Dough Frosting:
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened (don't use reduced fat or fat free!)
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
  • 1- 2 c. powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 c. oats
  • 3/4 bag plain mini M&Ms
  • 3/4 cup mini or regular semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350ยบ.
  2. Use a hand or stand mixer to whisk together all of the cupcake ingredients except for the chocolate chips.
  3. Then, stir in the chocolate chips with a spoon or spatula.
  4. Fill each cupcake liner about 2/3 full of batter.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack.
  6. Meanwhile, use a stand mixer dough paddle to beat together the cream cheese, butter, and peanut butter until smooth.
  7. Mix in the brown sugar, flour, vanilla, and oats.
  8. Mix in the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time (1 and 1/2 cups worked out best for me).
  9. Finally add the M&Ms and Chocolate chips, mix well.
  10. Use a large cookie scoop or ice cream scoop to scoop out the cookie dough onto the completely cooled cupcakes.

My Own Positive Abortion Story

Monday, May 12, 2014

(The Way It Should Be)
A few weeks ago I read an article about an abortion counselor who filmed her abortion so others who want abortions would feel more comfortable having one. You can find it:
And many other places if you just "Google" it. 
If you didn't hear about her story or his response, then here is a brief synopsis:
A woman in this related industry got pregnant, then filmed her abortion to show people that abortions are not as big of a problem as they were previously thought to be. They are easy, and even, "cool." The Matt Walsh Blog that responds does a great job at setting things straight for the opinion of the pro-lifer in defense of life. (I personally wanted to give him a high five since the moment I read his blog about the stay at home mom, but this was the cherry, trust me.)
A few days went by and I felt a continual nudge to share my own "positive abortion story." It has never been penned or written, and I have told very few. I was unsure and extremely scared. Sharing bits and pieces of a broken past is scary, tearful, and vulnerable. However, I believe sharing our pain is so essential. Especially in moments like these. 
I was 19, not sure how time went so fast and the last years of my life were a blur. I'm not yet blogging about how I got to this point, but I know that my heart was thirsty for love and affection. I would take it from any possible avenue that I could get it. Being well versed in unhealthy relationships, abuse, and unwise decisions, I ventured out to do life on my own; also called college life. I met a guy who everyone liked. Really popular, energetic, and charismatic. He also suffered from a common problem in the New Age: narcissism. Not the kind where you stare in a body of water until you die, or fly to close to the sun or whatever. But the kind where you feel so low about yourself, you beat others down to a lower standard than you, to build them up, to feel needed. To have control. This narcissism manipulates, abuses, and lies, lacking every form of empathy that exists. The Bible says in 2 Timothy 3: 1-5 that,
"... There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-- having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them."
That was who I was involved with. Loved money, loved women, loved sin. Alcohol was a staple, much like the need for an actual food group and he loved pornography of all kinds. I will stop here because I am not here to bash and slander him. However, please understand where I am coming from when I say manipulation, threats, financial, physical, sexual, and emotional abuse were not below this man.
After years of his abuse, I finally decided I was done. I was getting counseling and accepting that I allowed him in my life.  After a few months without him, I was doing really well. I got off birth control and rededicated my life to Christ. I was striving to let the past rest and live pure from that point forward. This is called secondary virginity and is covered by God's grace. This redemption is so possible! One day, this guy came back to my apartment to "get his stuff." When I let him in, I quickly discovered he came over drunk and I was subjected to the normal routine. When he was done, he went into the "office," watched his porn, and left. I started to panic. I knew instantly that this was going to end badly.

In a few short weeks, I had a positive pregnancy test in my hand.
"Why God? I was changing, I was new! Why would you allow this?"
"I cannot care for a baby. He cannot care for a baby."
When I told him, he told me to, "Take care of it and I will leave a check." If I scheduled an abortion he would finance it, so I did. I walked alone, out the door, to have an abortion at just under 5 or 6 weeks pregnant. No one knew I was expecting yet except the birth father. I climbed in my car and started the trip to Minneapolis to have the procedure. (This clinic is now closed.) The drive began fine, "This is best. This has to be done to protect this kid. What if he abused this child like he did  me? Neglect? I can't monetarily provide. And honestly, I cannot look at this child every day and remember this pain." The whole time I drove I tried to justify "my choice."
Until, out of nowhere, I was hit with emotion. So much that I had to pull the car over and sob. "What am I doing? I am killing my baby. Terminating a LIFE.  I know this as truth and I justify this."
At that point, I did what every prodigal does when backed into a corner. I called home. I remember it clearly to this day. I called and my mom answered. I was a wreck. I said, "Mom, I don't feel good." My mom didn't miss a beat with her response. "You are pregnant. We are coming to get you."
They did. Just days later I was moved back in with my parents. Sharing a room with my younger sister, crying myself to sleep at night. The pain didn't stop because my parents came and got me. The pain of a violated, wasted past, bubbled up like a volcano. My faith was tested. I was full of worry and grief. How was I, without a job, without a home of my own, without a husband, and without anything, going to be a mom? I began to search the internet for an adoptive family. Finding a family did not take long and I quickly made contact with them.
A few weeks later, at my new church, they were doing cardboard testimonies. (If you don't know what they are, search them on Youtube and grab a Kleenex.) I felt God was telling me to let the church know what I was facing. However, I told God no because I knew what judgmental church goers would think. I was one of them. There was no way I was going  up there to say, "Hey! Look at me! Single mom!" But, I did. I went up and flipped my board. My testimony read, "Considered abortion, *Flip* Chose life, Due in May." We got standing, tearful, ovations both services.
After church, a few women grabbed me, prayed with me, and asked if they could help me. What was I having? When was I due? What did I need help with? This was astounding to me. I was ready to be pushed aside as another social case. Instead what I found was a warm embrace, more baby clothes and items than I needed (I literally had to donate stuff), and new friendships that are still alive today.
A few months later, with the support of my friends and family, I chose to keep my daughter and  was giving birth. I remember the emotions even now as the room was packed full of doctors, nurses, and family waiting for this arrival. However, I felt totally, and completely, alone. I remember noise, lots of noise, maybe even a baby cry, but it was muffled, like they all had paper cups over their mouth. Pain, the most pain I have ever been in. A moment that was supposed to bring so much joy, brought nothing but fear. What seemed all at once, they threw a crying, messy baby on me and cut the cord. She screamed. I just stared at her and instantly I knew that I would die for this child. The love of my Savior finally made sense. She didn't have to deserve it, she didn't have to be conceived or born into a perfect situation, but I would give my life for her, my breath, and my future. She was my reason to press forward out of a depression that would have eventually taken my life.
And I asked, "God... Who is ever going to love the both of us now?"
As I stared at that little baby, the room stopped moving, the air fell thin... my throat felt as if there was a Dorito lodged securely at a 90 degree angle, and a voice like thunder boomed in my soul, "I DO." I knew it was God. I knew then that God's grace was in my life to stay. That this little, perfect, beautiful little girl was my gift. I didn't deserve her. She was given to me to realize the love of my maker. The beautiful, sacrificial love of a parent. "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now, I'm found, was blind, but now I see."
As I read these blogs, some encouraging more women to abort (such as and others damning people to hell who have had an abortion, I realized we are all sorely missing the mark. These things stick out to me when it comes to saving lives.
1) We need to be a culture of Christians in a church body who embrace, not shun, single parents. Babies are not the only souls that need saving in these situations. We live in a culture that single parenthood happens and unplanned pregnancy is happening at alarming rates.  Instead of judgmental glances we need to have real, authentic engagement with these women. They are raising or terminating the next generation. Let us remember we are all desperately in need of the Savior. That Jesus came for the sick, not the healthy (Mark 2:17). Jesus says that, "All have sinned and fallen short." (Romans 3:23). It is so important to not become ill with what I call "Pharisee Syndrome." Jesus hung for the gossiper, the liar, the thief, the rapist, the murderer, the abuser, and the people who have sex outside of marriage. The thing we desperately need to remember is that God's grace covers ALL sin. Not just yours, not just mine, but theirs, too. Let us not take the call to love lightly. Don't make a pregnant woman feel alone and like she "has no other choice." The truth is, she does, and it's Jesus.

2) We need to be prodigal parents.  Parents, we grow up. We realize you were right about things. If you are facing this with your child now, or have, don't rub their faults in their face. If my parents would not have come to get me instantly, I would have probably kept driving and have gone through with my appointment. Love doesn't set boundaries that say, "I love you if you do what makes me look like I have been a good parent." Love says, "You screwed up? I am on my way." I understand there is a difference between enabling and loving, that is a different post. These are human lives that hang in the balance. One thing I have come to realize myself is that parents are in a spiritual warfare for their kid's souls. We need to be so vigilant in being there for our kids, in prayer, in setting an example, and in loving.
3) Our culture embraces sexuality. Parents have to stop avoiding it at all costs.  Parents, this is weird, but if your kids are not learning about sex and sexuality from you, they are learning their information from someone else. We need to stop throwing awkward books with big words at our kids and hoping they don't have questions after (if) they finish reading it. We have to stop telling our kids, "Go ask your dad (or mom)." Because when we avoid this topic, chances are, when they start feeling these emotions and the first person of the opposite gender that says, "I know what you feel. Lets go in my room and talk about it," is going to ruin your child forever. Don't treat sex like it is bad. God wants us to have a God-honoring sexual relationship within marriage. Chances are, if you are avoidant of these topics, then you have also been raised in a "hush-hush" setting. Please do your research for their sake! Read Godly-authored books about sex in marriage. "Go ask your dad," has a lot less weight than, "Honey, I am so glad you trusted me enough to ask me. Let's get some ice cream and talk about what God says. I want you to know any time you have questions, especially like this, you do not have to worry about asking me. I was there once too and I am honored to help you figure this out." Then DO IT! Take them for ice cream, explain to them the birds and the bees, healthy boundaries, the difference of healthy and unhealthy relationships, and above all else, BE HONEST. (Some great books for moms and dads to read: Real Marriage by Mark Driscoll, Good Girls Guide to Great Sex by Sheila Wray Gregorie, No More Headaches, Sacred Marriage, Song of Songs, and a few more!) If mom and dad role models are avoiding sex talk with their kids, we will have kids who find their education in porn, music videos, secular worldview, experience, and unfortunately, by being taken advantage of in molestation, rape, and assault. They will not know what God honoring sexuality is unless we tell them.
Lastly) We need to raise our kids with the pure idea that every person is created for purpose. We are not the standard of "good." God is. Parents tend to raise their own children to be successful. In the USA, success means that in this order you: went to youth group, didn't do drugs in high school, won metals, went to a good college, got a high paying job, got married, and then had kids. You can't be just a waiter, you can't have kids outside of marriage, and if you are living in a small house you cannot call yourself "successful." Instead of raising children that will love the Lord in whatever situation, in whatever career, in whatever circumstance, we have raised children who love to strive for earthly pleasure, and whoever else doesn't or can't is "worthless." This thinking makes a single mom "worthless," in addition, so does her baby. The truth is, God made everyone for a purpose and we all have a role to play. The cashier is just as important as the doctor. If I forget to take my trash out on Thursday, by next week the garbage man is my best friend. My point is, who are we to say whose life is worth something and whose life is worthless by how it was conceived (in marriage or not, planned or not, rape or incest). God is the giver of life and he alone should be able to take it. We need to stop raising children with the idea that what we do is more important than who we are (in Christ). 

This year, I did another cardboard testimony. This time, my four year old joined in with me. My card said, "Raped. Scheduled an abortion. *Flip* Chose life, Meet Gracie, She's Four." Gracie stood beside me and her board read, "Fatherless *flip* Being adopted by a dad who loves me." Never underestimate the influence one choice can have.
We need to combat abortion at the root. Nasty pictures of cut up babies might gross people out, but it certainly won't give that baby or that suffering mom vindication. We need to focus instead on creating a community that is healing families and raising children who don't grow up to wanting love from people instead of God. This world will never be perfect until Christ returns to claim his own but we certainly can give value and worth to a hurting soul with no place left to turn. Because honestly, the only positive abortion story, is the one that never had to happened to begin with.
This blog is my story, about what I learned, when "Grace Came To Stay."
Join the fight, check out


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Captain America Hat (Take One)

Sunday, May 4, 2014

I made this hat for my brother. We are all big fans of all things comic books and my girls are currently begging for one (and a Batman hat). After making it with the pattern I had, I wrote my own with changes to make this hat even more fantastic. But let's be real here, nothing gets better than the Avengers, GI Joe, or Batman.

Want one?
Toddler size: $15.00
Adult size: $25.00

The free pattern to make your own is here! (And she does a great job!)

Contact me at !
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