Posted by: Lauren | May 7, 2014

I’ve got a new blog!

Hi there! In case you receive notifications for this blog, I wanted to let you know I am now blogging over at Nestled and Nourished. Hope to see you there!

xoxo

Lauren

Posted by: Lauren | September 3, 2012

bath time and a giveaway

Thank you so much for your sweet comments on the birth story! (I know that was months ago!)

6 months ago, giving Cecelia a bath for the first time was definitely a memory we won’t forget.

At first she didn’t really seem to like it, but then warmed up to the experience. Check out her little fist—I think here she is thinking, “why I oughta.”

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Freshly clean, I wrapped her up in the towel, and we gazed into each other’s eyes, so peaceful and content.

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And then she pooped. All over the towel.

Joe captured it all. This is me cracking up and saying “no way!”

PLEASE, PLEASE don’t judge me for looking like an exhausted cleaning lady. And no I did not bathe my child wearing the dish gloves that are on the counter.

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That towel is amazing by the way. It’s like a giant apron you wear so you just scoop baby up and she’s all wrapped up in it and you stay dry. I think you can find them at Buy Buy Baby (mine was a gift).

The next time I gave her a bath my mom was here when Joe was working. I was not about to do this by myself yet!

IMG_0607Ahh she was so tiny!!!!

Nowadays, Cecelia always LOVES baths. It is so fun to see her splashing, kicking her feet, and chewing on stuff. We all love the whale tub our friends Kody and Katie got for her-it’s still a great size and she is a big baby!

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I really love holding her after her bath, all wrapped up, dewy and fresh.

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(5 months)

And she hasn’t pooped in a towel since!

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(Teeth!)

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(6 months)

To get her clean, I wanted to use products that did not contain harmful chemicals. Several years ago I learned about beauty products and our skin–our skin is our biggest organ and can absorb what we put on it. So since then, I’ve made an effort to go more natural with body and household cleaning products.

For Cecelia we were sent Ava Anderson nontoxic baby products, which I was so excited about!

I absolutely love the baby wash/shampoo. Not only does it do a great job of getting Cece clean, but I know it has nothing harmful in it, it doesn’t irritate her skin, and it smells amazing-not from chemical fragrances—but from lavender and chamomile essential oils. I’ve even tried it on my loofah in the shower because it smells so good! It received the best score of ZERO on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep website (the higher the number, the more harmful the product).

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I was also sent the diaper cream which is amazing as well. Fortunately, Cecelia has never had bad diaper rash, but when her bum gets a little red I put a dab of this cream on there and it is good to go. I have to say, I have tried other natural diaper creams when taking care of other kiddos and they pale in comparison to Ava’s. One kind was really watery-the water was literally squirting out of the tube, and was not a good consistency. The Ava diaper cream is in a tub and has the perfect consistency-not sticky/oily, not watery, you can use a tiny amount and again, it smells amazing and is completely safe.

Lastly, we were able to try the Ava baby lotion. I have to say, I really wasn’t using it on Cecelia because she has crazy soft skin. Then one day it hit me when I ran out of my lotion…why don’t I just use it? No one says only babies can use these products! So, after shaving I applied the lotion to my legs and thus found my favorite lotion. Again, I am weird about consistencies in products-I can’t stand when lotion is greasy or on the opposite spectrum, a weird powdery feeling. This lotion feels perfect, I can use a small amount, smells so good, and once again, it’s all natural.

While these products may cost more than typical drugstore purchases, they last a long time as you can use just a small amount, plus, they are made with safe, organic ingredients.

So with all that to say, here is my first giveaway!

I will be sending one reader their choice of either a bottle of the Ava baby wash or the lotion. However, there are many different Ava products, not just their baby line! But since these are the kind we have tried and loved, that’s what I want to give! So even if you do not have a baby, enter, because you will love these products even for yourself.

Here’s how to enter:

1. REQUIRED: Leave a comment on this post telling me you would like to try the shampoo/body wash or lotion.

2. OPTIONAL: Leave an additional comment for an extra chance to win by visiting www.avabysummer.com and share a product on their page that you would be interested in. You can also click here to find out all all the ingredients in their products or to place an order for yourself or family member.

I will pick a winner by Sunday, September 9th 12:00 CDT using random.org.

Also, if you are interested in trying free products you can host a catalog party. Please email me at lauren(dot)breeden(at)gmail(dot)com if you are interested in that.

**The giveaway has ended. The winner is Ashley R.!**

True Random Number GeneratorMin: Max: Result: 8Powered by RANDOM.ORG

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Note: While I was sent these products free of charge, these opinions are entirely my own. However, the purchase of the body wash or lotion will be from me, because I love ya!

xoxo

Lauren

Posted by: Lauren | July 5, 2012

the birth story

How did 4 months go by so fast? These past several months have been incredible, beautiful and exhausting. I already start to get emotional looking at newborn photos of our baby as she is just growing too fast! I’m writing a lot of details about her birth story as this was one of the best days of my life and I don’t want to forget any of it. I’m including some details that may gross some people out, so feel free to do some skimming.

Let’s go back to the beginning…

On February 15th I noticed around 10:00 a.m. that I might be experiencing contractions. I did have a bit of “bloody show” which led me to believe that perhaps this was it, maybe I really was feeling contractions and could be going into labor. I talked on the phone all throughout the morning and afternoon with my sister (who had just given birth 11 weeks prior) and my mom and excitedly checked in a few times with Joe since he was working. I already had a 39 week appointment scheduled for that afternoon at 3:45, so I thought I’d get some more answers then. Funny enough, I kept going back and forth in my mind, “Should I put the food in the crock pot for dinner or no? What if I am going into labor and it would all go to waste?” (I didn’t put it in.) I spent the afternoon organizing the baby’s things, cleaning all over the house, packing up etc.

Fortunately, Joe got home early and was able to drive me to that appointment because on the way there, I experienced the strongest contraction yet. I saw one of the doctors in my practice who checked me and said I was 4 cm dilated and 95% effaced, and that I can go to the hospital whenever my contractions became more regular or really intense. Well, I think that check certainly helped move things along! I was on the phone with Katie as we got home and when I walked into the house, I couldn’t talk anymore as I was having a really strong contraction. I think that’s what they always tell you, once you can’t talk through them, you’re ready to go. Well I continued to get things ready around the house as I had been earlier that day as well, with contractions coming about every two minutes (I used an app on my phone). Joe showered, vacuumed out the car and got the car seat all ready. As he was vacuuming I said, “We need to go.” I might have gotten a little cranky throughout the contractions-Joe tried to ask me a question and I replied, “Do not talk to me!” ;)

Throughout that whole day, and as I labored at the hospital, I did not want to sit down during contractions, I just wanted to walk and squat. That is why the car rides were not fun or when I first checked in at the hospital and they had me in a bed until they gave me the mobile heart rate monitor. While I was at home I would either walk, get on my knees, or squat during contractions.

Here I am before we left, during a contraction…

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Not during a contraction…

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Twenty weeks before, same shirt :)…

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We checked into Delnor at about 6:00 p.m. Like I said, when they had me lay down and a nurse came into check me, I could not wait to get up and move again. Laying down and sitting during contractions was not how my body wanted to labor. Fortunately that only lasted about twenty minutes. I found out I was about 5 cm dilated and then I paced all throughout my room and gently bounced a few times on the yoga ball. I started to get  lower back pain so Joe would put deep pressure with his fists on my lower back while I leaned over the bed to counter pressure the pain. Not surprisingly, he was an amazing coach.

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After a few hours, and now incredibly intense, long and close together contractions, I was ready to think about an epidural. I paced and quietly sang to Jesus “You are my strength when I am weak…” Which was so very true. My “birth plan” was that I was going to try and move as much as I could throughout labor (fortunately that was exactly what my body wanted to do), and that I would labor as long as I could without an epidural. I also wanted the baby to be placed on my chest and to breastfeed as soon as I could. I had an amazing nurse, Anne, who asked me what my thoughts were as soon as she met me and I told her I wanted to go as long as I could and she was so ready to support me in that, asked if I was an athlete, and encouraged me to think how I would cycling uphill. So once I wanted an epidural, I was a little concerned. I asked her if it would slow things down and she told me not at the rate I was progressing. Apparently the other nurses saw my contractions on the monitor and couldn’t believe they were that strong without pitocin, which made me feel pretty strong and encouraged.

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She had to get an IV of fluids in me before the anesthesiologist could give me the epidural. That wasn’t going in right as my arm bubbled up a little bit and my poor husband who hates needles looked as white as a ghost! Fortunately they got it all taken care of when IV therapy come in (Joe didn’t pass out). Before the anesthesiologist arrived, the nurse told me that doctor needed to check me and see how I had progressed. I knew getting checked would make things even more painful and I did NOT want to get back in that bed, so I asked if she could check me after the epidural, which fortunately she said was fine.

There are a lot of doctors in my practice and I had seen almost all of them. They are all nice and everything, but one doctor Katie and I loved, and she had just delivered my niece in December. I prayed Dr. Mills would be the doctor on call, and God graciously answered that request! I was beyond excited and relieved.

The anesthesiologist arrived and got to work. Apparently my epidural space is really tight so he had a hard time getting it in (but he never seemed concerned or had me concerned). I had never had one before so I had no expectation of how long it would take, but it was really intense sitting on the bed during the contractions, so I would just move my feet back and forth as they hung off the bed, close my eyes, and squeeze Joe’s hand. The doctor was so kind and explained things to me so nicely. When he was done Dr. Mills came in to check me around 10:00 p.m. and that was when she told me I was 8 cm dilated. She broke my water and the next nurse, Katie, took over. She was hilarious and so sweet and encouraging. I couldn’t believe how blessed I was to have the team that I had.

I was feeling so much better and basically told the anesthesiologist that he was my new best friend. My mom, Katie, Malayna and Joe’s dad came in to visit with us (Joe’s mom was in Dallas as his sister had just given birth the week before!). Look at sweet little Malayna sleeping on my mom’s chest! Now it finally felt good to lay down and rest a bit.

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At this point I don’t think I had eaten for about 9 or so hours (I know, I should’ve eaten before going to the hospital, it just wasn’t on my mind, so the last time I ate was lunch). As I laid there I would feel the pain of the contraction, a wave of nausea from a hungry tummy, a little break and I would start to get sleepy before it happened all over again. An epidural does not take all the pain away, but it takes a lot of it–I would say contractions during an epidural are like really bad cramps. The nurse would come in and check me, telling me the baby’s head was really far down that I was at a ten and said once I felt pressure, I could start pushing. Well, I never felt the pressure, I just would feel the pain of the contractions. So she lowered the bottom part of the bed and just let me labor down naturally until I felt the need to push. Well at midnight she came in and checked me again and said she was going to come back in at 12:30 and I would start pushing. I never did end up experiencing that pressure, but she came back in at 12:25 and it was go time!

Pushing was actually my favorite part (remember I had an epidural!) I didn’t feel the pain of the contraction or nausea during pushing, so it was just some moments of using this deep strength, pulling my upper body up like a crunch, holding my breath, pushing hard and then breathing again. My nurse said to think of it like in Pilates, that once I was done pushing I wouldn’t let the baby come back in but to hold it there. Apparently I understood her reference because she was like “Yes! Just like that!” She got out this bar that went above my bed and wrapped a sheet around it, which I would pull with all my upper body strength as I pushed and Joe and the nurse each held one of my legs. After a few times, she said, “Ok stop, I’m calling Dr. Mills.” Dr. Mills came in and another nurse for the baby and I continued like before.  My doctor told me that if she made one little snip, I wouldn’t have a bunch of tears. I told her to do whatever she thought was best, I completely trusted her (and thankfully, I ended up healing very well). Joe was SO encouraging and I was so excited as he told me he could see the baby’s head! It made me push even harder. I pushed off and on for about 25 minutes.

At 12:57 a.m. our sweet Cecelia Ann arrived and her screaming little self was placed on my chest, just as I had hoped. And she was perfect.

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She weighed 8 pounds, 7 ounces, 21 inches long, and got 9/10 on both Apgar tests. Her middle name has been passed down on my mom’s side for five generations now. Cecelia means “Of the Spirit” and Ann means “One of Grace.”

Proud daddy :)

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After lots of skin to skin time and Joe and I oohing and ahhing over her, the nurse helped Cecelia get started with breastfeeding and she actually latched on like a champ.

After our family met her in the wee hours of the night, I was wheeled off to our postpartum room and Cecelia was taken to the nursery to get cleaned up. I was so hot and full of adrenaline and it took me awhile to fall asleep but I eventually dozed. A bit later our baby girl was brought back in to us. The following days were filled with family and friends loving on our girl and sharing in our joy. My heart was so full and I couldn’t believe how blessed we were.

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It would be nice to say that that is how it all went from there, but let’s be real. That’s not life and that is ok. I experienced baby blues for a few days there, breastfeeding troubles, and our perfect little angel of a baby went on to have colic for a couple months. But you know what, I wouldn’t trade any of it and we’ve gotten through all those struggles. God has given me the best, most encouraging husband, precious healthy baby, and supportive family I could ever dream of and He is indeed my strength when I am weak. I had an incredible labor, some big bumps in the road postpartum, but He has gently taught me once again how to rely on Him. I will be sharing more about the past few months soon—Cecelia’s up from her nap!

Posted by: Lauren | February 13, 2012

showered with love

Hi loves :)

Joe and I are so excited to meet our baby girl-my due date is next week! Next Thursday. The 23rd. 10 more days. Seriously? Seriously. How did that time go by?!

14 weeks (BB the size of an avocado) and 33 weeks (a pineapple).

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I think I only used a prop once in my photos to show her size, and that avocado was it! Oh and a blueberry when we first found out I was pregnant. :)

Here I am at 37 weeks, with a tiny preview of the nursery that Joe added on to our little casa (much, much more on that later, it’s almost finished!!).

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I’m feeling pretty good. I could go on and start to complain about the little things, but I’ll just leave it at pretty good. ;)

Before she arrives there is so much I’ve been wanting to share, one of which is how much we were blessed with two baby showers. The first was my friends shower, thrown by my two best friends, Renee and Amelia. It was such an amazing night, I felt so special!

Have you ever heard of a “booty tree?” It was so adorable-by the time everyone got here the branches were filled with booties and socks hanging on them. They were all so cute! I actually asked Renee for the branches to keep as I plan on incorporating them into BB’s garden themed nursery.

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More sweet and yummy details…

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IMG_9616 Three kinds of delicious soup in sourdough bread bowls-perfect for a cold winter night!

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Look at my sweet little niece, Malayna!!! She is so stinking cute! My sissy is such a good mom, I’m so proud of her!

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My besties even got my a delicious red velvet cupcake to celebrate my birthday that was a couple days before. :)

Oh my goodness BB was SO spoiled! Here is just one “opening presents/I can’t believe how cut this is” shot.

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Meals and Renee, I love you so much and can’t thank you enough for throwing us such a BEAUTIFUL shower!

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Then, just a few weeks later, we were blessed again with an amazing family shower thrown by my sissy and mom. Katie just had a baby weeks before, and my mom is as busy as ever, yet they threw us a shower that was so incredibly special-with adorable details and mementos that we will treasure forever. I don’t know how they do it.

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Joe and I have had a mutual love for elephants, so the theme was just perfect. :)

My Aunt Kathy is SO talented and crafty, check out this adorable diaper cake and “diaper baby!”

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My aunt and mom also made chocolate and peanut butter shaped peanuts for favors.

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And my Grandma Stella made a ton of cookies and packaged them up for everyone to take home as well.

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Katie found that adorable elephants “vase” at Target-it’s actually a cookie jar that has a lid, but how cute is it as a vase filled with gorgeous flowers?!

And she made this onesie line that had all kinds of precious elephant outfits and onesies on it.

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My brother-in-law, Sam, (Katie’s husband) took so many great pictures for me, it was so nice to have him do that! He even took food pictures! The shower was at Francesca’s, and the food was amazing!

I loved the salad, filled with all kinds of veggies, topped with bleu cheese and tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette. Do you see that sheet of paper on the side? That was “Wishes for Baby Breeden” that everyone filled out. I can’t tell you how sweet and even hilarious these were. One night Joe and I were cracking up reading some of them. There are phrases like “I hope you learn…” “I hope you respect…” “I hope you aren’t afraid…” I loved that people mixed sweet, sentimental wishes with funny ones as well.

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My awesome sister-in-law, Sara, made 18 homemade birthday cards with her mom, Momma G, and people wrote a card for BB that she will open on that birthday. So for example, BB will open envelope #10 on her tenth birthday. So cool, right?

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More delicious food Sam captured-a creamy farfalle pasta with sausage and peas, and the best tirimisu I’ve ever had.

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My aunt Sharon, who lives in North Carolina, sent this adorable flower car seat cover with such a beautiful letter. I can’t tell you how much it meant to me-I had to have Joe finish reading. I started off strong then…

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And she is a faithful reader of this blog-always commenting on my posts. :) We love you, Aunt Sharon!

Thank you Katie and Mom for pouring out your love on our family and throwing us such a memorable and adorable shower. We love you so much!

I really think Joe and I have been blessed with the most amazing family and friends anyone could ask for. Seriously, our parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, besties, they are so amazing. We can’t take those special people in our lives for granted!

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Before I go have to tell you how grateful I am that God has protected BB and me from getting sick. Viruses have been going around for awhile now, and people have continually lifted us up in prayer, and God has graciously answered them. Before Christmas, a nasty stomach bug was going around both sides of our families, and I was so worried I’d get sick and that selfishly I’d miss out on celebrating Christmas with everyone I love. One night Joe got sick, but fortunately was better by the next day-oh and I even drank out of his water hours before he threw up! But God totally protected BB and me, and has continued to, and I am just so thankful. He gets all the glory.

Well, next time I post I may have a little one snuggled up with me. And if you’re a praying person, I can’t tell you how much we’d appreciate your prayers for the health and safe delivery of BB. Thanks guys. Here’s some big hugs and kisses sent your way….

XOXO

Lauren

“I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my God!” Isaiah 61:10

Posted by: Lauren | November 28, 2011

dinner and baked goods recipes

Thank you all SO MUCH for your sweet comments from my last post. Gives me warm fuzzies. :)

I have several winning recipe links to share with you! Most are for dinner, but I have a few sweet ones as well. I’ve been using Google Documents to create a meal plan each week, which has been great! Meals definitely get changed around, but I love linking the recipes all in one place, making notes of of the groceries I need, or what needs to be taken out of the freezer to defrost, etc. Weekends are always pretty up in the air, so I don’t usually plan those meals.

Here is an example week:

Menu Plan 11.7-11.11
Monday: Turkey Oat Burgers with roasted brussel sprouts
Go to: TRADER JOE’S
Tuesday: Tempeh Tamale Pie
*Need 8 oz pkg tempeh, unsweetened apple sauce
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Butternut squash ravioli soup, bread, salad
*Defrost chicken thighs for tomorrow
Friday: General Tso’s Chicken with brown rice and broccoli

Please excuse some of these horrible pictures!

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala with brown basmati rice and peas

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This dish was fantastic. Changes for next time: I would bump up the spices just a smidge, but it was still totally delicious as is. Also, I didn’t add as much heavy cream, and didn’t miss it.

Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

I don’t have a picture, but Joe and I loved this, as did my sister-in-law and nephew. :) I didn’t have celery, so I just threw in some yellow squash I had to bulk up the veggies. I love how you could easily add in whatever vegetables you have on hand. This is a comforting, healthy, delicious meal-in-one. Changes for next time:I probably wouldn’t add any salt next time as my Worcestershire and tomato sauce already had in.

Turkey Oat Burgers with roasted brussel sprouts

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This is an old picture, but we LOVE these burgers! Tip: my salsa used in the burgers (fire roasted from Trader Joe’s) is sodium-free, so if yours has salt, you will want to cut back on the added salt.

General Tso’s Chicken with brown rice and broccoli

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Yummy recipe, but I would maybe pick this next one instead if you’re wanting some Chinese…

Mongolian Beef with stir fry veggies or broccoli, and brown rice

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This was SO SO GOOD and really easy! I loved the little bit of spicy kick in there. My grocery store had really expensive flank steak for some reason, so I used thin top round steak and it was great. Changes: NONE! I will be making this again. Although, I bet this would also be good with chicken-the sauce was great.

Tips: 1. Don’t overcook your meat. I made a conscious effort not to, and am so glad I didn’t.

2. I love Trader Joe’s frozen brown rice that you can microwave for 3 minutes-makes dinner come together so fast.

3. I roasted a bag of frozen broccoli florets in my toaster/convection oven at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes with a mist of oil, and sprinkle of sea salt and pepper. That’s how I make most of our veggies and we love it.

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Zuppa Tuscana with toasted whole grain artisan bread.

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Comforting Italian soup with kale, potatoes, turkey sausage, and bacon. I liked how it is creamy but not incredibly thick and heavy. Changes: I liked this even more when I added a lot of black pepper.

Scalloped Hasselback Potatoes

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These potatoes are ridiculously good (and very filling!), especially topped with some creamy organic sour cream. And yes, we eat roasted broccoli a lot.

Baked Goods

Pumpkin Donut Holes

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I think I’ve made these three times now for different little parties and such. They are always a huge hit!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Craisin Cookies

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Oatmeal chocolate chip craisin cookies are some of my favorite cookies, so I love that these have pumpkin in them because it makes them healthier-hello, it’s a vegetable! They were so easy to make and deliciously chewy.  Also, I was able to get way more than 3 dozen good sized cookies out of this recipe.

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Whole Wheat Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 4 small(ish) very ripe bananas
  • splash of milk (2 Tbsp)
  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin pans or line with papers.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until thoroughly blended. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Add the vanilla extract and egg to the butter and sugar and beat together on medium speed. Slowly add the flour mixture and beat until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips.

Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups and bake for 15-17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and dry. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for a few minutes before turning out to cool on a cooling rack.

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I love that these are whole wheat yet incredibly moist. 

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I hope you all enjoy these recipes as much as we have!

Psalm 28:7 The Lord is my strength and shield.
      I trust him with all my heart.
   He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.
      I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.

xoxo

Lauren

Posted by: Lauren | November 26, 2011

our little BB

I know, I know, it has been forever. But I’m back with the best yet. Most of the people who read this are family and friends, and have known our exciting news for quite some time now. However, there are some people who don’t know us personally and don’t know that we are expecting a little girl come February! Excited and grateful are understatements.

Breeden Side Profile edited

BB (Baby Breeden) is just over 27 weeks old now. I seriously cannot believe it. Where has the time gone?! Joe and I talk to her and about her all the time and can’t wait to meet our little bambina.

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How we found out:

Back in June, I hadn’t had my period and so I did what I’ve done several times in the past when I was little late: took a pregnancy test. But this time I just did it when Joe wasn’t at home-and saw what I’ve seen before: negative. I don’t think I even remembered to tell Joe until a few days later, which he couldn’t believe I did that! Oops! I had started running again and just figured my body was a little thrown off.

Well, when about another week passed by I took another test, this time with Joe home. It was a Sunday morning, getting ready for church, when after two minutes I peeked over on the sink and saw what I had never seen before: two solid lines.

I burst into tears of joy and disbelief and said over and over, “I can’t believe I’m pregnant! I can’t believe I’m pregnant!” Joe and I hugged and hugged and I reassured my sweet husband that these were happy tears. He then asked, “Does this mean it’s my first Father’s day?” It was in fact Father’s Day, June 19th, 2011. How incredibly awesome.

These were taken that morning:

IMG_7653 Two things: 1. Sorry if a pee stick grosses you out. 2. The date is wrong on the bag, it was the 19th. 

IMG_7648I love Joe’s little smiley face he drew on there. :)

A little more background:

A couple years before we got married, I had amenorrhea for 18 months (I didn’t have a period). I went to see a couple different OB/GYNs to figure out what was up. I had blood tests, a CT scan of my brain to make sure there were no tumors messing with hormones, an ultrasound of my ovaries, but nothing came up. I left the first doctor when she told me I most likely had polycystic ovary syndrome and wrote me a prescription-despite the fact I had zero symptoms of PCOS and my ovaries looked healthy-I never got that prescription filled. I started seeing another doctor who I trusted, but there was still no diagnosis. I was completely healthy, had my usual hearty appetite that I filled, exercised moderately, and was not stressed out, just no period.

One Sunday morning in October of 2008, I heard an incredible message at church about going through tough situations, such as medical problems, and how God can use them in amazing ways, and sometimes He will even heal them. Our pastor encouraged those who were struggling to get prayed for, and with my mom’s encouragement and support, I tearfully headed to a family friend and pastor at our church to receive prayer. I remember he asked Jesus to heal me, and asked that one day I’d be able to have children.

One month later I got my period back, and had it every month regularly—until June of this year, when God answered that second part of that prayer and blessed us with this baby girl.

You guys, I’m not saying, and neither was my pastor, that God will in fact heal everything and fix every single one of our problems. But He is MORE than capable to heal anything and everything, sometimes there is just a bigger purpose to endure. He is a good and gracious God whether He healed me that day or not, but we do thank Him for showing us in a personal way just How incredibly powerful and amazing He is. There are things I struggle with and ask Him to take away to this day, sometimes He does, sometimes He doesn’t. God shows me how to trust in Him, to rely on Him, and to be amazed at His grace-how He forgives, restores, and blesses me even though I don’t deserve it. I am seriously in awe of His grace-the fact that not only does He not give me the punishment I deserve for all the times I don’t do what is right, but how He then blesses me with a relationship with His Son and washes me clean each day and pours out blessings on me.

And it is only by His grace that we are blessed with our BB.

My First and Second Trimesters:

13 weeks and 19 weeks:

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Well, my first trimester was a bit rough like every other pregnant person, but I was really fortunate in that I was not constantly nauseous and throwing up. I actually felt the sickest at night, and only had one puking incident before bed. I kept my saltines on my nightstand and would even have to eat them in the middle of the night to ward off nausea, usually after I got up to go to the bathroom-which happened every night!

I went on a few road trips-two to Michigan and one to Atlanta.

Our first trip was to Holland, MI for a little second anniversary getaway. This was taken 6 days after we found out, so I was feeling fine here.

My second trip to MI wasn’t quite as pleasant-I would get pretty nauseous in the car, and was also at a point where I was SO TIRED! I felt like a big party pooper when I’d leave my cousin’s party to go to bed around 9ish? My sweet sister and I are pregnant at the same time, which has been amazing and so fun, so she understood how I was feeling. Our trip to Atlanta for my other cousin’s wedding was tons of fun, but similarly the car rides weren’t always enjoyable and I was so, so tired, especially at night.

Tips: pack plenty of snacks to prevent that belly from getting even close to empty, and if you’re like me, although fast food may sound delicious, the greasy food really doesn’t help. Stay hydrated!! Try to eat plenty of protein, although I know it is tough to do sometimes. Oh and if I felt sick after eating, a walk really helped so much.

Food Cravings/Aversions

I totally did not feel like myself in the first trimester. I was craving fast food, which I never usually do, and was missing my usual sweet tooth. I know fast food isn’t healthy, but I cut myself some slack. For breakfast I couldn’t possibly stomach eating my usual foods like oatmeal, smoothies, cereal, toast, etc. Instead, I’d eat leftover pizza, pasta, or Chipotle burrito bowls. Sick, right?! I’m telling you, you just don’t feel like yourself at all!

Joe has taken such amazing care of me, not surprisingly. When I was on the couch feeling like garbage, he was so quick to ask me what I needed or go out to the store and get me saltines and ginger ale. He’s the best. And there may have been a few runs to the store for ice cream in my second trimester, specifically, Breyer’s mint chocolate chip.

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Around 18 weeks my sweet tooth reemerged and I’ve definitely felt like my old self for awhile now in my second trimester-hearty appetite, loving everything from fruit, veggies, and salads to cookies and ice cream. I’ve definitely craved oranges (big time for a few weeks early in my second trimester), and cannot wait for them to be perfectly in season this winter. Oh yeah, I also really loved salty food for awhile there-makes sense with the fast food. And I miss raw sushi!

One of my favorite breakfasts that I’ve been eating is a slice of whole grain sprouted toast, with a little reduced sugar strawberry jam, a slice of sharp cheddar or Colby pepper jack cheese , and a cooked egg. I know this picture looks nasty, but I promise, it’s so good! Joe loves this too.

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In case anyone is interested, these are the prenatal vitamins that I take:

IMG_9163Rainbow Light Prenatal Multivitamins. I get them from Amazon using their subscribe and save feature to save even more money. They have never upset my stomach, are made from good ingredients, and have never caused that unpleasant side effect that some iron containing products can cause…it rhymes with schmonstipated. The only con is that the suggested dosage is 2-4 capsules per day. *Obviously, I’m not a health care professional, these are just my opinions.

Exercise

When I first found out I was pregnant I remember googling and asking my nurse practitioner if it was safe to run. Then, when nausea and exhaustion set in, I had absolutely no desire to run! Since I’ve been feeling like my old self for awhile now, I definitely have wanted to run again. I hold back to prevent any problems since I haven’t been doing it for awhile now, unless it’s just a little bit of running chasing around the little guy I nanny for when playing! Long runs will have to wait until BB is with me in the jogger.

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I enjoy walks, especially with Joe to our forest preserve just outside our neighborhood. I also do my pushups now on my knees, and have only picked up dumbbells a few times-only 5 lb ones at that. My back and body feel so much better when I am active though!

This was the morning of Thanksgiving-I was wearing a ton of layers and a puffy vest under that fleece-so it’s not all belly! But the belly is big!

This was the day before Thanksgiving at a shower for my sister-in-law Emily (Joe’s oldest sister). She is also expecting a girl a few weeks before me! Katie is due in two weeks-we’re SO excited! Our little girl is going to be so blessed to have so many cousins her age to play with! And I made my mom get in the pic too because I love her. :)

SO THANKFUL

We are so thankful for this little girl who has already brought us so much joy. I’m so thankful for our families and good friends who already love her so much too-and have spoiled her like crazy! We’re ridiculously blessed.

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BB, your Momma and Daddy can’t wait to meet you, but be sure to stay in there for awhile longer!

“Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him.” Psalm 127:3

xoxo

Lauren

Posted by: Lauren | June 16, 2011

grilling machine

Hi sweet ones! I know my posts are few and far between, I’ll try and work on that. ;)

Joe and I were given a grill by the family I nanny for when they got a new one. Our taste buds have been enlivened and we are totally grateful. Seriously, how do you not grill in the summertime? I mean, we would have grilled food at our family and friends’ houses, but now we have one of our own! So without further ado, I bring you some of our grilled creations, with some vegetarian meals at the end to balance things out.

But first, some of our lilacs from May. Because they’re just so pretty and I miss them.

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—-

Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

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Here we have or All-star grilling champion recipe. Joe declared this (on numerous occasions) “the best chicken I’ve ever had.” The recipe is from Cooking Light, and I really didn’t make any changes, except a 1/4 tsp. of cayenne instead of ground chipotle chile powder because I didn’t have that. Also, I let the rub marinate the chicken for a few hours, because I had the time, but it’s not necessary. Go HERE for the recipe and make it soon!

The cole slaw is a lightened version similar to the broccoli salad (scroll down), in which most of the creaminess comes from plain Greek yogurt. Joe wasn’t a big fan, but I liked it. Half a bag of cole slaw, half a bag of broccoli slaw, Greek yogurt, mayo, white wine vinegar and spoonful of sugar and a few shakes of black pepper.

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I learned a little trick about shrimp-skewer them through two sticks parallel to each other instead of one so it’s easier to flip. These were just marinated with some olive oil, garlic, S&P.

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Have you ever had grilled romaine? I think we liked it! A little mist of oil from the misto, s&p, and splashed with some balsamic when finished grilling.

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This one was kind of boring-the chicken didn’t wow me. BUT, can I just say how much I love grilling corn in the husks? First time we did it we just threw it on, second time, Joe’s parents came over with it soaked in water to steam the inside and prevent the husks from burning as quickly. Second way tasted even better. Don’t know if it was the kind of corn or what, but I think slowly cooking definitely helps. It’s so nice to not have to boil a big pot of water for the corn and not wash the pot either!

I love some cucumbers and onions marinated in sweetened rice wine vinegar. Trader Joe’s sells an already sweetened and seasoned rice wine vinegar, but you could really just use white wine vinegar with some sugar, watered down a bit, salt and pepper, cover and refrigerate, and you’re set.

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We get organic beef from Costco. It’s really not that much more expensive. I usually make burgs with dried minced onions, pepper, a little garlic powder, and sometimes some Worcestershire. Ok, I just learned: don’t add salt! It pulls moisture from the meat! I will not be salting them anymore! Also, it really doesn’t need it, there’s enough flavor as it is. And we always like to grill some sliced onions with the burgers.

The broccoli salad was a lightened version that I went off of from here. Greek yogurt, spoonful of mayo, splash of OJ, and again, that seasoned rice wine vinegar. Mixed dressing in the bowl first, then added two chopped organic broccoli heads, finely chopped red onion, sunflower seeds, craisins, and bacon pieces.

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I didn’t care for this fish recipe from Cooking Light. Called for hailibut, but I couldn’t find that anywhere, so I used salmon from Lake Michigan that Joe helped catch with Sam and his coworker, David. I think the fish itself needed more flavor. I HAVE to get Sam’s recipe for his salmon because it is crazy good! Once I do, it’ll go up here. The salsa got crazy spicy the next day from the half of habanero in there! I tried to eat it for leftovers, my mouth was burning, so I ate like a whole pizza instead. And I like spicy! Those little peps pack a punch!

—-

I’ve been enjoying making different kinds of iced tea since the weather has warmed up. This cup was a mix of raspberry hibiscus, and a mix of tea leaves and dried fruit from Teavana, that my momma got me. I think the mixes were Blueberry Strawberry Lemonade. I brew strong batches of tea, then dilute with water and ice and give it a bit of sweetness with some stevia when the tea is hot.

IMG_7536 I love those aqua glasses from World Market that my friend, Sara, gave me for my bday.

IMG_7280As you can see, I’ve been keeping track of my tea to show you. :) I also mix half green tea and half raspberry hibiscus.

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I’ve also had success with making tofu twice now lately. Gotta go organic so the soy is non-GMO. I also prefer extra firm. Trader Joe’s organic extra firm: $1.99. That’s a cheap protein source.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Drain your block of tofu and wrap with a clean kitchen towel. Place a few heavy books on top to drain out extra water for about 10 minutes. Then cut into bite size pieces, coat in a favorite sauce or marinade, and bake for about 30 (on parchment so it doesn’t stick). The first time I think I baked far longer (50 minutes for the extra firm), second time I used only firm tofu instead of extra firm, and baked for 20 minutes. Both worked.

This was in spicy TJ’s bbq sauce with brown rice, frozen broccoli that I roasted alongside the tofu and fresh, sweet pineapple. So yummy and spicy—Joe approved.

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This next tofu was the firm kind instead of extra firm, organic and sprouted (for easier digestion). This was also from TJ’s and $1.99. I coated the cubed tofu in their Island Soyaki sauce and coated the frozen broccoli in that as well. This was sooo good!!! Baked at 450 on parchment coated baking sheet for 20 minutes.

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Oooh and a couple more things I must share!

My favorite warm-weather breakfast:

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Overnight Oatmeal

  • 1 container Trader Joe’s chocolate yogurt
  • 1/3 cup oats
  • 1/3-1/2 cup milk (depending on how thick or liquidy-I prefer 1/2 cup) I also use unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 Tbsp. chia seeds (estimation)

Stir above ingredients together in a container and refrigerate overnight. In the morning top with peanut butter. It tastes like chocolate peanut butter ice cream! It is SO GOOD!

I also love to eat this out of an almost empty peanut butter jar. Like this giant Costco organic one.

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Or overnight oats made with plain Greek yogurt in an almost empty jelly jar.

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—-

I hope everyone is having a great start to your summer! I can’t believe it’s already the middle of June. I’m excited about celebrating my sissy’s bday on Friday! Love her SO SO MUCH!

We’re so so so thrilled because KATIE IS PREGNANT!!!! She is due December 9th. I can’t wait to meet Baby EE! (His/her nickname right now…by the way, I think it’s a he.)

IMG_7436She’s going to be such a good momma. And look how big my nephew Dominic is! He’s so so adorable! That one isn’t hers-he’s my brother’s. :) Katie and Sam are having their first!

Katie just got back from a trip with all of her college BFFs who I also love and who read my blog. :) She just told me they’ve been bummed about no new posts, so this is a shout out to them! Love you, Brownies!

Joe’s sister Lora is having their second baby in October!! I don’t think I shared that yet! They’re going to have a boy! Woo hoo!!!

We had so much fun when Joe’s other sister, Emily, came to visit in May with our nephew, Sam.

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Madelyn and Sam are SO stinkin cute!

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Also looking forward to celebrating Father’s Day. I am blessed to have two of the best dads in the world. My padre and father-in-law.

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Ok. We are beyond blessed. Our families are incredible. Thank you Lord!

Another verse and commentary from my Daily Bible Verse emails:

Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens. – Psalm 148:13 (NIV)

“This wonderful Psalm tells us that the proper position of the heavens and the earth is in praise. To praise brings us beyond our circumstances and sets us in alignment with our created purpose. Do you feel overwhelmed? Praise the name of the Lord. Do you feel victorious? Praise the name of the Lord. It is praise that deals with the self-absorption of victory and defeat. His name alone is to be exalted.” –Dave Whitehead

xoxo

Lauren

Posted by: Lauren | April 20, 2011

manaus, brazil part dois

So I left off on Wednesday. We visited a pastor’s conference going on at a retreat center out in the country. When we were driving up we saw the dirt road was totally flooded. Funny thing: I never really felt that nervous when driving around in this van that would drive at crazy speeds with cars coming from all directions in the city….yet I got a little nervous when I thought we’d get stuck in the mud. We didn’t. Phew.

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This little baby was so cute! He liked playing with the buttons on my camera. He almost deleted a picture, so then I let him play with the buttons with the camera off. Smart, eh?IMG_6626 IMG_6631 IMG_6637 IMG_6641 IMG_6659 IMG_6661 IMG_6663 IMG_6665

This, my friends, is some of the best fish I’ve ever had. The women who cooked this are incredibly talented, and I guess one (or more) of them cook on the boat too when teams go out on the Amazon. The beans, the rice, oh so good. And that salad in the back was crunchy and fresh and so flavorful.

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We walked down to the boat that teams from the church in Manaus as well as teams from Christ Community Church here in IL go on to serve the people in the villages along the Amazon. It’s so cool what they do on these trips: medical and dental care and sharing Christ’s love and Truth. The boat is actually expanding to include more space like the rooms for delivering babies!

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Here Pastor Djard is telling us about the boat—the one all the way to the left. Oops I didn’t really get shot!

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These are Joe’s artsy photos :)IMG_6680  IMG_6690

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^Translation: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

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CCC family: Our church purchased that speedboat!

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—–

I realize I haven’t really had any pictures from the English Institutes, and that would be because I didn’t really take that many! We were always having conversations, or playing games, making bracelets, or singing songs. But that is where we spent the most amount of our time.

After the retreat, we headed off to Influx, one of the English Institutes where I did take a few pics!

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The bracelets!

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Our teacher, Cris, wrote down the yummy Brazilian food we needed to try. And eventually we did. Oh yes we did. More on that later. Can I also just say how I’m thankful for facebook still keeping us all connected? Cris, if you’re reading this, hi!! We want to come back! :)

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Cory found Little Lizzie outside. Nice pic Joe!

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Ok, so that was Wednesday! I’ll be back with more!

“When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” Matthew 12:13-14

Guys, if you read anything from my blog, read the Truth at the end. Best part.

xoxo

Lauren

Posted by: Lauren | April 19, 2011

manaus, brazil

Oui! (“Hi” in Portuguese—it’s about one of the eight Portuguese words I know…) Once again it’s been so long since I’ve been around this place, so I have much to catch up on. As many of you know, Joe and I went on a one week missions trip with a group from our trip to Brazil, where we have a partner church in Manaus, Igreja Presbiteriana de Manaus. The week was absolutely amazing, and our team was beyond blessed.

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We love them! Joe and me, Thea, Cindy, Mark, Cory, Cindy, and our bro-in-law Brandon. Check out Cindy’s blog because she is living in Brazil for the next 6 months and is one of my favorite people in the world. :)

Amazon River:

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Rio Negro:

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The country is absolutely incredible, the people, even more so. We were so encouraged by our brothers and sisters in Brazil. Their love for Jesus and for people is so real and beautiful! They showered us with hospitality moments after getting off the plane.

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So what was our “mission” for the week? To go into orphanages and schools (mostly private English Institutes, a private school, and universities), to share Christ’s love. To share the Good News! We were able to help students practice English, love on and encourage some kids and adults who need the sweet, healing love of Jesus, and promote an English Camp that the church will be having this summer.

It was one of the best weeks of my life-like being a married disciple in the New Testament or something. :)

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Views of Manaus from our hotel room.IMG_6477

Church Sunday night:

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——-

On Monday we visited a place called “Amar” (Love).This place was started by the wives of some pastors for kids who have rough home and family situations. In Brazil, children go to school for half a day, so these kids can come and receive extra support, care, and love for the other half. They receive nourishment here: physically, spiritually, emotionally, academically and socially.

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Throughout the week, we were able to make hundreds of these Gospel bracelets with students. These bracelets were a way to symbolize and share our faith.

See that little boy’s bracelet up above? The black bead symbolizes sin, which we are all guilty of. The red bead is for the blood of Christ, who died for us to pay the penalty for our sin. The white bead stands for how Christ will wash away our sins and make us clean when we ask Him to. He wipes our slates clean, which I’m so thankful for. The yellow bead is for Heaven, which we are promised when we have a relationship with Jesus Christ, asking Him to forgive us and be Lord of our life. There is no other way to heaven-not good deeds or trying to be a good person. That is the amazing grace of Jesus Christ-we didn’t earn it, it’s all a gift from Him. Finally, the last bead is green, which means we can grow with Jesus. He helps us with the sins we struggle with, and helps us to grow to know Him better, for example by reading His Word and praying, and He helps us to become more like Himself. So, that is the background of our bracelets and an idea of how we explained them. It was so cool when a child or adult in a classroom would speak up in Portuguese, sharing their love for Jesus, or when someone would ask questions about faith. Jesus was working in their hearts and it was a blessing to witness that!

It was amazing how many times we thought we ran out of bracelets, only to keep finding more in different bags and such. It reminded us of how Jesus fed the 5,000 with only 5 small loaves of bread and 2 small fish. He can do anything.

Also, we’re so thankful for our wonderful translators, Ketyb and David (two of Pastor Djard’s kids), who we were able to have with us the entire week. They were also so much fun to be with! Without them, a lot of things we shared wouldn’t have been understood for those who are just beginning to understand English.

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Ketyb (pronounced “Catchabee) and David

Oh! I also can’t forget to tell you about our morning team devotionals and breakfast up on the roof of our hotel every morning. Such a precious time to share, get in the Word, pumped for the day, and pray together.

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—–

Tuesday we went into one of the schools and shared with the older kids about the camp this summer, and the younger kids we sang songs and gave them little stuffed animals. They were so cute!

Little ones brushing their teeth: :)

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——

Tuesday night with our dear friends from the church, planning and talking about the  English Camp.

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Ok, so I think I’m going to go ahead and upload this, but I’ll be back with more from the week!

Thank you for reading!

“For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, ‘Anyone who believes in him will not be disappointed.’” Romans 10:9-11

xoxo

Lauren

Posted by: Lauren | March 7, 2011

slow cooker steel cut oatmeal recipe

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I discovered two different recipes for slow cooker steel cut oats and adapted them to make my own. A couple things to note:

1. If you do not have a digital timer on your slow cooker that changes to “keep warm,” you should make these during the daytime when you will be around to keep an eye on it. That way after 4 hours on low, you can drop it down to the warm setting for another 4 hours. You can reheat in the microwave in the morning.. 

2. If you do have a digital slow cooker, then just set it for low for 4 hours before you got to bed, and it will go to “keep warm” while you are sleeping and you can eat it in the morning.

3. This makes a ton, so you can store in fridge and enjoy throughout the week by reheating with a bit of milk stirred in.

Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oatmeal serves 8. Adapted from here and here

  • 8 cups water
  • 2 cups steel cut oats
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • few shakes cinnamon
  • few glugs of pure vanilla extract (1 Tbsp?)
  • 2/3 cup of your favorite dried fruit (I’ve done combinations of chopped figs and cranberries, or just raisins and added chopped apples in the morning)

Combine ingredients in a slow cooker. Cook on low for 4 hours, and then the warm setting for another 4 hours, that way it will not get crusty or burnt. Top with any of your favorites: banana, chopped apples, nut butters, pure maple syrup, or honey.

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Has anyone tried any slow cooker breakfast recipes they enjoyed? Share the recipe or link in the comments!

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Romans 10:14-15

xoxo

Lauren

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