Garden Fever: March 23 Update

So this is my intro to a new series that I named Garden Fever that I will (most likely) update every week…ish.  (A little confession on the name:  I had really wanted to call the series ‘Hoes in the Garden’, like, really, REALLY wanted to, but somehow it just seemed wrong.)  Anywhoo, in an effort to teach my children about sustainability and to cut down on our grocery bill, we decided to plant our own garden.  I had decided to start out small while we got the hang of things, this being my/our first garden and all.  However, I went a little crazy in the seed aisle at Fleet Farm (the kids may have had something to do with this).  And then I think I planted something like 150 starter plants.  Oops.


The girls filling the cells with dirt.


Seeing as we live in North Dakota, it is necessary to plant ahead (or so I have researched) since we have such a short growing season.  So we bought five grow domes and planted broccoli, cauliflower and tomatoes (LOTS of tomatoes-3 grow domes worth-I had visions of all the sauces, pastes, etc I was going to make with those tomatoes dancing in my head), with plans to plant watermelon when it was closer to transplanting time. (Apparently watermelon don’t transplant well, so you’re only supposed to start them indoors 2-3 weeks before you transplant them, as they are harder to successfully transplant when they are larger.)

My parents were nice enough to let us set up shop, so to speak, in their Sport Court.  We filled up a table perched underneath a nice south-facing window with our soon-to-be-plant babies (fingers crossed).  We misted our plants babies (misting verses direct watering is supposed to be better to prevent disease?), kept them carefully covered (there was one instance when a well-meaning, cleaning relative knocked askew a couple of the covers and I found their beds a little dry the next day-so hopefully this didn’t hurt them), and showered them with love (the secret ingredient in gardening).


Planting is done for the day, and the girls are all smiles!


Our first tomato sprout!!

That was last week, update to today, and they are growing!  Well, some of them are, anyway.


Look at those broccoli babies go!

It kind of makes me want to plant more.  Like bell peppers.  I am trying to hold myself back, but this gardening thing is kind of addicting.  So by my post next week, I may (or may not) have gone ahead and planted peppers.



T wanted to test how much heat our ‘grow lights’ were giving off…








Chocolate Banana Pops

We are all about the Smoothie Pop in our house these days, and recently we have started to branch out and experiment with a few recipes of our own!  We have done a lot of the fruit Smoothie Pop varieties with great success, but my kids (and me) were craving chocolate (thanks for that gene, mom). 🙂

We like to keep things simple (most of us are busy moms, who has time for super-involved recipes), yet healthy.  Plus, the chocolate-banana combination is one of my faves.   Oh, and it was a big hit with the kids, too.


2 cups plain yogurt

1 1/2 bananas (I ate the other half to prevent banana-waste)

1/3 cup cacao (could also use unsweetened cocoa powder, cacao just packs a bit more of a nutritional punch)

1/3 pure maple syrup

DIRECTIONS: Throw everything into a blender.  Blend.  Pour out into smoothie pop molds and freeze upwards of 4 hours.  Eat.


choc pop

Jesus Christ, Redeemer

I received a phone call last week that threw me for a loop.  It reminded me of the person I once was, of a life that I used to lead before committing myself to Christ.  You see, I had applied for a leadership position within an organization, and things came to light from my past.  Things that had happened 12 years ago!! Nothing that I was trying to hide, but not anything that I was necessarily proud of either.  In that moment, I felt that I would never be free of my past.

The devil likes to remind us of our pasts.  He wants us to dwell on our darkest moments.  He wants us to think that our sins are too much for God to handle.  Too big for God?  We know that’s not true.  Yet sometimes when you’re stuck down in the muck and the mire, and your vision of the cross is obscured, you begin to forget.  The devils lies start to seem a little more plausible.

”In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.” Ephesians 1: 7-8

There has to be blood for the forgiveness of sin.  A just God, which our God most definitely is, cannot let sin go unpunished.  There must be atonement.  In the Old Testament, that atonement was made through animal sacrifices.  Part of the ritual of the sacrifice was that the worshiper actually put their hand on the animal prior to the slaughter, to signify their sin passing on to the animal, which then died for that sin.  That is why Jesus is referred to as the Lamb-He substituted Himself on the Cross.  He died once for all to cover any and all sin that had been or would be committed.  He is our Blessed Redeemer-through Him we are saved.

We deserve death.  Yet God doesn’t give us what we deserve; in his infinite compassion, he shows us grace.  As Jo, the lector at Bible Study Fellowship’s First Lutheran class, so eloquently puts it: “Grace is God’s gift to the undeserving.  If you deserved it, it wouldn’t be grace.”

God forgave and forgot our sins as soon as we repented of them.  Jesus Christ redeemed them on the cross.

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12.

There is no sin too big for God to forgive, no past too dark. I won’t lie, that phone call bothered me for a couple of days.  Until God, in His wisdom, led me to understand that God doesn’t love me in spite of my past, He loves me because of it.   I am now more fully able to understand the full measure of God’s grace because of my deep, dark past.  His grace has become more palpable, more real to me now that I recognize the enormity of my sin.  In redeeming my past, he has broken the chains that hold me in bondage, and now calls me to use my past in His service.

“ Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.  When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.  What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!  But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[b] Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 6:19-23.




Do You Eat Organic?

Raining Orange Peels wants to know: Do you eat organic?  Please take the short poll!  (I find this topic fascinating!)  Also, please feel free to expound upon your reason for eating (or not eating) organic in the comments section!!





Cooking with Medjool Dates: 4 Recipes and Reviews

First of all, my apologies.  I know it’s been a bit since my last post.  You see, I just made the switch from stay-at-home-mom-who-works-nights to stay-at-home-mom.  To say that this has been a huge relief is an understatement.  In other news, I have been catching up on sleep (I have gone from previously getting about 3-4 hours a night to a solid 7-my body is in shock!), organizing and re-organizing my house, and spending more quality time with my kids now that I’m not such a sleep zombie.  The following is a post I actually started about a month ago, but due to the aforementioned events am just getting around to posting now.  Hey, life happens.

Up until about 4 to 5 months back here, I was completely oblivious to the existence of dates.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’d heard of dates before, but I’d never eaten one, much less cooked with one.  Since making the switch to a mostly-whole foods lifestyle, I have been actively searching out recipes to make things that I no longer buy from the grocery store.  I end up searching out a lot of snack food recipes, because as anyone with young children knows, they eat A LOT.  So it’s always a good idea to have a plethora of snack options on hand!  And in my search, I kept running across one common ingredient: medjool dates.  I was intrigued (a lot of it had to do with the fact that I had never eaten a date before-don’t judge).  So the next time I ran across them at Costco, I decided to pick up a pack and try out a few new recipes.

For our medjool date experiment, we tried four different recipes: larabar, clif bar, turtle cookies, and date bread.  We had a panel of tough (but fair) reviewers (my kids).  Please see the results of our tasty experiments below.

1.  Coconut Cream Larabar –  Rating: B-

I LOVED this recipe!!  This is a great snack option…the only catch is you have to like coconut, otherwise you won’t like this snack bar!  V, my middle wild-child, could not get enough of this!  T, who is my oldest and also my pickiest eater, wouldn’t hardly try it (something about the texture threw her off).  I didn’t even try giving this to my husband, because he hates coconut.  I know-a man named Coco who can’t stand coconut.  Ironic, no?

This would have rated higher, except I had to deduct a letter grade due to the fact that T and hubster did not like it.  Baby M chowed down on this, but he is not really a good panel judge due to the fact that he likes everything.

v tester

My two trusted taste-testers.

t tester

2. Clif Bar – Rating: A-

This recipe was a winner-even picky T liked it!  It was so easy to make, too.  V and I whipped it up in the blender (have I mentioned how much I like making things in the blender now?) while T was at preschool.  It probably took all of 5 minutes, plus baking time.

The kids all loved it…hubby didn’t even get to try it.

3. Oatmeal Turtle Cookies – Rating: A+

turtle oat

Yum! Don’t those look scrumptious? They smelled and tasted even better!

These were gone in a day! Even my picky hubby, who is the most-resistant to the whole-food lifestyle, liked them!  I didn’t have walnuts on hand as the recipe calls for, so I used almonds instead, and they STILL turned out great!  Rave reviews from all the judges.  Bonus points because they are vegan and gluten-free.

4. Old-Fashioned Date-Nut Bread – Rating: C+

The least favorite of all the judges, including myself.  Don’t get me wrong, I liked it, but it didn’t knock my socks off.  To make it whole-foods, I subbed the brown sugar for honey (equal parts) and used King Arthur 100% white wheat flour.

Bread before and after baking.

Bread before and after baking.

bread after

I hope you all enjoyed our little cooking adventure with medjool dates as much as we did!  Next cooking adventure will most likely be carrot recipes, as I purchased 10 lbs of organic carrots from Costco and am now in the process of making morning glory muffins, carrot cake oatmeal bake, vegetable broth, etc to use up my carrots!

(In related Costco news, they just announced that they are cutting antibiotics from their meat.  As if I didn’t already love them enough for their amazing organic food selection-go Costco!)