Monday, October 31, 2011

Visit from Papa and Granna

Pictures with Papa and Granna:

Papa with Stephen and Maleah (thumb-sucking duo)

Granna and Me




Meghan and Maleah





Family Photo after Church

Family Photo after Church

Last week seemed to be very busy for all of us. We are in full swing with school. Keith and I have other responsibilities outside of home that is with the City of Refuge ministries here. We are trying to read several books recommended either by family or friends or ministers. Every minute is full.

On Thursday night my parents (Papa and Granna) came for a surprise visit. We did not think we were going to be able to see them again until right before the baby came (due Dec. 7th). They stayed the entire weekend.  Yesterday we all went to church together and they actually got to hear Johnny Hunt preach.....and WOW, what a message!

Friday we drove up to Ellijay and bought some apples from the Red Barn. We then drove on up to Blue Ridge and visited Mercier Orchards. Now, that was a neat place. It was a huge place with lots of neat things to look at and buy. We came home with some sparkling apple cider. Yum. Keith and I got lots of ideas for bottling up things that we may try to sell one day. They had all kinds of things. From several flavored syrups to all kinds of jams and jellies to popcorn, tortilla chips, dried apples, pasta, cider, and on and on.

Saturday, Mama and I and all of the children made a trip into to town. My dad stayed here to work on a test he needed to complete. Keith umpired two baseball games! He looked good in his umpiring outfit:).  That night we watched GA beat FLA with a house full of family.

We are being spiritually fed so well here. In so many ways and from so many people. It is encouraging to see a church follow the leadership of their pastor and take on his heart and vision. It has trickled down and we are receiving blessings from it like many others.

Thankful to be right where we are,


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Mexican Corn Muffins

This is a follow-up post to the Black Beans and Rice post that I did a few days ago. We like to make this to round out that meal and keep everyone's stomach fuller for a little longer. It does require more ingredients than plain cornbread, but it is soooo worth it. We make two batches for our family and it is good warmed up the next day.

Mexican Corn Muffins
adapted from the Bread Becker's Recipe Collection

2 cups freshly milled corn meal
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter
1 small can of creamed corn
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 lb. grated sharp cheese
2 slices of jalapeno peppers, diced finely

Mix dry ingredients. Add all other ingredients and mix well. Pour into greased muffin pan. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or until lightly brown on top.

A couple of cooking and preparing tips:

If your family is not crazy about onion, then cut the amount in half and chop real fine. They may not be able to tell it is in there.

Instead of using jalapeno peppers, you can substitute pepper jack for the cheddar cheese. It will give that little bit of heat that makes these so good.

Original recipe called for 1/2 lb. of cheese, but I found this was too much and caused the muffins to be greasy. You may like them with more cheese.

Again, be careful when chopping those jalapenos. The juice from the seeds will set your hands on fire!

Thankful that my husband really likes these,


Friday, October 21, 2011

Did You Know?

Baby hats knitted by our 7 year old, Meghan

No, we are not having twins...we don't know if we are having a boy or a girl, so Meghan knitted one for a boy and one for a girl. That way, whatever the Lord blesses us with, he or she will have a little hat for their prayerfully little head.

Could you imagine having knitted 69 of these for all of your children over a period of forty years? Well, the wife of Feodor Vassilyev is said to have given birth to 69 children from 1725 to 1765. WHAT??

Yes, this is what I read on one of my weekly updates sent out by  I had to do a little research on my own to find out if this was true. According to Wikipedia, this precious Russian woman did in fact have all of these children. It did not give her first name nor how and when she died. What it did say, however, is that she birthed 16 pairs of twins, 7 sets of triplets, and 4 sets of quadruplets. WHAT??

It reminded me of a time when Joshua (our five year old) told me that he wished that we would have 100 children. I laughed and told him this was not humanly possible. The most I had ever heard of was a black woman who had 22 children. This came from one of those 22 who was a sweet lady that we met at the Earth Fare in Augusta, Ga.  Well, who knew.... Now what if he cuts it down to 50. What do I say then? :))

Thankful for our little quiver of seven (soon to be eight!),


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Black Beans and Rice

Several weeks ago I shared with a new friend how we try to have a couple of meatless dishes through the week to help on grocery costs. My husband is fine with this, as long as he feels full when finishing eating. I knew to be able to do that we would need some good protein in the meal. There is nothing cheaper and better (to my knowledge) than dried beans! My new friend gave me a favorite meatless meal that she prepares for her family and so I gave it a try. It is tasty! And, it makes you full. I make enough for two meals and I also add a side of Mexican Corn Muffins (I will share that later) that makes the meal complete.

Black Beans and Rice

2 cups of dried brown rice
1 small bag of dried black beans
32 oz. of chicken broth or 1 tbsp. of chicken base or 1 chicken bouillon cube
2 jalapenos
2 medium tomatoes
1 small onion
chopped cilantro

I like to soak my beans and my rice the night before in good, clean water with a little lemon juice. It makes the rice seem fluffier and almost like white rice. It also helps the beans to cook faster and become easier to digest. The next day (after pouring off the water and lemon juice and giving a quick rinse) I put the beans in the crockpot and let them cook 5-6 hours on low heat. You could do these on the stove and cut the time in less than half if you are in a hurry. To the crockpot I will add the broth or the base or a bouillon cube along with a little salt and pepper. An hour before eating I begin cooking the rice in plenty of water to cover the rice (more than the directions recommend) along with salt for seasoning. I do this because I like for the rice to be fluffy and not sticky. It will take about 45 minutes on a medium to high heat.

About 20 minutes before meal time begin to chop the onion, jalapenos, and tomatoes. Saute the onion and jalapeno for about 5 minutes with a little olive oil or butter and another bouillon cube or little chicken base. Add the tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes. Dip the beans into the veggie mixture and stir. Serve over the rice with a little of the juice that was left in the crockpot and top it with chopped cilantro.

A couple of cooking and preparing tips:

For a less spicy dish, take out the seeds in the jalapenos. If you like it hot, then leave some in. Caution: Wear gloves or something on your fingers or you will be very sorry about 15 minutes later when your hands burn for several hours!

I believe a good cook tastes as she goes. This dish needs good seasoning to make it a success. Add what you need to season it little by little and taste until it is just like you want it. Caution: You may be full by the time your family sits down to eat!

Thankful to feed this family of mine,


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Out of the heart of a young lady...and her new pastor.

It did not take long for the Lord to continue to use a great lesson in giving to show Madison that He is so faithful to give to those who are givers. I believe somehow He will always repay us. Not sure about how He chooses to do it, but if we are aware and looking for it we will see His hand of blessing on our acts of generosity.

I so did not want to take her money several days ago, but felt very impressed to keep it and trust the Lord would provide for her. (You can read the post on Out of the mouth of babes... to catch up on what I am writing about)

This Sunday night we were just hanging out after the church service. Almost everyone was gone and we would surely be run out if we didn't head that way as well when Dr. Johnny Hunt and his wife, Janet, came by to speak to us. He met Madison first. They talked while I spoke to Mrs. Janet. I did not know until they walked away that he had placed something in Madison's hand. She told me today that she thought it was directions to the Mexican restaurant. He had been asking her about her favorite restaurant. After she told him, he began to give her directions. When she looked down to see what it was, she was surprised that he had given her a significant amount that would go above and beyond feeding our family a meal. Of course, she came and gave it to me and told me what he had said.

We had leftovers at home and it was getting late, so we decided to just come home and go out another time. As Keith and I thought about it (and right now we want to make the best decisions when it comes to how we are spending money) we decided that not only would we obey his requests, but wouldn't it be awesome if we gave Madison the rest of it. She is in need of some clothes. She is growing into a young lady. And, isn't it just awesome that God not only used Dr. Hunt to encourage her to give all she had away to me, but He used the same man to give it back?! Wow! We can never outgive God!

Madison got a few tops, two skirts, and a pair of jeans from a consignment in Powder Springs. All of it looked like new. I had to share the story with her and she beamed. But, she did tell me...."I didn't care about the money, mama. I was just excited to get to talk to him! You know, he is kind of famous! And, his wife is pretty...I thought she was going to have gray hair." So funny and so sweet.

Thankful that God proves Himself and we don't have to,


Monday, October 17, 2011

Chattanooga and Aunt Wanda...What more could a kid want?

View of a Tennessee Valley... breathtaking

Thursday afternoon we were able to load up and head to Chattanooga to visit with Keith's sister, Wanda, and her family. We knew when we moved up here that we wanted to take advantage of being close to his family. We have never lived close to them our entire marriage. As a matter of fact, Keith has been away from this area for twenty years. Well, let me just say that there is no one like Aunt Wanda and Uncle Steve. Every time we are with them we are refreshed and encouraged. They live such devoted lives to the Lord and do it all in joy. Joy....something we so desperately need as Christians. While we are with them the kids get undivided attention, Andy Griffith reruns, singing, stories, games, lots of sugar, and fantastic memories. Here are just a few of the pictures from our time together.  Unfortunately we missed getting a shot of Uncle Steve :(

At an apple orchard near Dayton, TN
The sun and wind were brutal.

Kids with Heather (with Maleah) and Hannah (next to Stephen)
Godly and sweet women of God.

Melt in your mouth apple dumplings.
Never had any so good.

Aunt Wanda (in the middle)
She is not that short...being silly:)

God's glory in His creation.

When we leave our time with the Cape family (Wanda and family), we are always reminded that following Jesus is worth it. All the sacrifices, the good times and the bad times. They are living proof and we are very thankful for all of them.

Keith and Nichole

Friday, October 14, 2011

Two peas in a pod

These two are something else! When reading a book, watching some cartoon, or just relaxing on the couch,they each find their thumb and usually the other one's ear. It is a blessing to see how they love each other.

Just thought this picture might bring a smile :))

Thankful for our toddlers,


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Herban Virgin Mojito

Here is a healthy way to get fresh herbs that are full of vitamins and nutrients, high in antioxidants, and has blood purifying qualities into your diet. I got the recipe from the Bulk Herb Store. They send out weekly emails with herbal tips and recipes. They are promoting their soon-to-be DVD release of "Making Babies" (I already know what you are thinking....we don't need help in that area). BUT, it not only addresses help in conceiving, but has lots of information on having a healthy pregnancy and baby. "Basil, an aromatic herb belonging to the mint family, contains many antiviral substances. In traditional Indian medicine, it is used as a remedy for relieving cramps, headaches, fever, cold, indigestion, nausea, and more."  A quote from the Bulk Herb Store Newsletter.

I have now made this drink twice and I enjoy it. Most of the kids really like it, so I have to share. What is really neat about these ingredients is that when we moved here someone already had a mint garden going, so all I have to do is go to my backyard and mint! I am assuming it is organic. I have no clue if it has ever been sprayed with chemicals or what kind of fertilizer has been used.

I didn't tweak this recipe a bit. It is a good one. Give it a try:))

Herban Virgin Mojito

2 limes
1/4 cup basil
1/2 cup mint
2 cups sparkling water
1/4 - 1/2 cup honey or maple syrup

1. Wash limes. Cut one into quarters. Juice the other.
2. Blend lime juice, remaining lime, basil, mint, sparkling water, and honey on high speed for one minute.
3. Strain drink from pulp, add ice and garnish, and enjoy!

Serves two or one mama and several begging children.

Thankful for the fresh mint growing in the yard,

Monday, October 10, 2011

Amicalola Falls, pumpkin patch, apples, morning with daddy

Our family was blessed with a wonderful weekend that began for us on Friday. It was a few days that when you take a look back at them, you know they were a gift. Everyone was well, the weather was beautiful, and it didn't cost us much money!

On Friday we packed a lunch and headed up to Ellijay, Ga. We were hoping to visit some apple orchards. While looking for a good place to picnic, we ended up at the Amicalola State Park. We had an entire grassy area next to a stream all to ourselves! The kids kicked off their shoes after eating and walked on the rocks.

We then made our way up (by van) to the top of the falls and had some great pics. We read it was four hundred and twenty-something steps to get up to that thing! Keith and the older 5 vowed to do it next time while me and the 2 little ones waited at the top.

We then visited a pumpkin patch where we bought a carving pumpkin and several pie-baking pumpkins, including the blue pumpkin! Last year we were able to grow our own heirloom pumpkins. It really made us appreciate them when we bought these.

We did finally make it to the orchard. We chose not to pick our own this time, but bought a few different kinds to bring home with us. We tried out all-natural candied and caramel apples. That was not a great success, although edible, I will have to keep trying. Or maybe not, I have a broken molar now because of it!

Saturday morning, for a couple of hours, Keith took all the kids to the church parking lot. It is HUGE. They were able to ride their bikes and then head over to the HUGE playground. I love being together, but I have to say that for 2 hours baking in the kitchen with the wind blowing gently through the screen door with no interruptions and in complete silence was refreshing. I needed that.

On Sunday we were a part of two great services. It is a lot of work to get everybody to the right place. It is work just getting to your seat! But, I was thinking it is all worth it. People have walked miles to hear the gospel preached. I think I can work up a sweat while walking to Sunday School....cheerfully.

Thankful that it takes two large blankets for our family to picnic,


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Game Day and Buffalo Wings

It has been a while since posting a recipe that is kid-tested and daddy-approved. We have been in North Ga now for almost a month and within the first couple of weeks my husband had already eaten buffalo wings twice from a restaurant in town. As a "snack" after church a few Sunday's ago, he brought home 24 wings for a little over 20 dollars. It did not take long for me to realize that every lovely little wing going down to the belly in less than a minute was almost a whole dollar!! I do have to admit that I said one too many times how maybe this was'nt a good idea. He had gotten the point the first time! So, I determined to make our own (of course this is what you do to save money, especially feeding a family of 9).

Watching my mom make them in the big kitchen at a camp my dad helps maintain, I followed suit and the wings are as delicious (if not more so) as buying them from the local restaurant. It really is very simple, maybe not too terribly good for you to have all of the time. But, a must for game day here at the house!

Boggs Buffalo Wings

3-5 pounds of chicken wings
peanut oil

8 oz. of hot wing sauce (we have used Frank's, there were no preservatives in the bottle we used)
stick of real butter

Make sure your chicken is rinsed and patted completely dry. Moisture on the meat will cause crazy stuff to take place once you put them into the oil.

Heat the oil to 335 degress F. Carefully drop just enough wings that it is not too crowded in your pot. I used one of my old cooking pots the first time and the second time Keith fried them outside in his turkey fryer. That was much easier and it could cook more wings at a time. It will take a good 15-18 minutes of frying to get a crispy, but not dried out, texture.

Spoon the wings out onto a cooling rack and let them drip onto some paper towels underneath. Meanwhile, in another saucepan, melt the butter and then add the sauce. After the wings are finished cooking and cooling a little, toss them into hot sauce mixture and eat 'em up!

A word of caution: These are hot! I put some of our children a few wings to the side and very lightly tossed them with the sauce. You may need to do this for some adults as well :))

A few sidenotes: I put a dash of honey in my own seperate mixture, because I like a slight sweetness to mine. You could definitely try brown sugar, sucanat, or a little molasses for this as well.

A barbeque sauce would make a great alternative to hot wings.

Make a double batch and warm the second half the next day. They were just as good to us and it saved me from being in the kitchen too long the next day!

This is great dipped in homemade ranch dressing, which I will share at another time:)

Enjoy your wings and your family whether you will be watching football today or not,


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Out of the mouths of babes...or the heart of a young lady.

There are so many times that we or I can think of all the negative words, actions, motives, etc...that are taking place within our family unit. Constantly dealing with 9 naturally selfish people can be draining sometimes and difficult as well. It is only by the grace of God that any of us can break away from that nature and truly become unselfish which results in a much better home life.

I did not think that an incident that happened 9:30 last night would prove to be a life-learning lesson for me and one of my children. As I was putting away our food to go into the refrigerator I knocked my beloved olive oil dispenser (that was recently filled to the top) off the counter and onto the floor it crashed. The glass broke into a ton of different pieces and the oil filled the floor and splattered onto the walls. What a mess...had it been one of the children I am afraid I may have gotten angry with them. Since it was me, I just wanted to cry because I really felt like I was being careful and it was an accident. So glad it was me and not them. I wanted to say many things, but decided to keep my mouth shut and begin cleaning. Other than Keith, I was the only one able to clean because of the potential to get cut. By the time I finished, I thought "Oh well, it was just some of my favorite olive oil and my favorite oil dispenser. These are just things. We will replace them one day."

Madison (12) had been washing up some dishes and watching the entire thing. I could have screamed and hollered easily, but thankfully the Lord helped me keep my emotions in check.

Last night, on his way to bed,  Keith found a note at the top of our steps addressed to me and him. This morning he gave it to and told me to read it. The note was from Madison, and inside of it was all the money that she had. She wanted me to know that the Lord had been leading her to give it away and now she had a person to give it to. She asked that I buy some more oil and a new dispenser. You don't know how good it was to see one of your children fulfilling an act that is so pleasing to the Father. Pastor Johnny Hunt is one of the most giving people I know and he is always encouraging us to do the same. He says we are never more like Jesus than when we give. It is catching on and the Holy Spirit is doing a work. How could I give back money (and I so wanted to) to someone that believes this is exactly what God wanted her to do.

We are going to get some more oil and I am going to let her pick out the new dispenser. It will forever be a reminder to me of the generous act and manifestation of the Lord at work in the hearts of our children. Don't give up....for in due season you shall reap.

Thankful for the loving heart of our oldest,

"And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."  Galatians 6:9

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What is Teeccino?

A few months back when I found out that we were expecting again, I knew that I needed to cut back on my coffee intake. I am a lover of a cup of creamy, slightly sweetened coffee. My husband and I actually prefer the taste of Dunkin' Donuts coffee far above Starbucks. I had received an email from a friend citing the deliciously organic's blog that had homemade creamer recipes on there. While looking, I saw this yummy cup of coffee and read where the blogger actually used Teeccino instead of coffee.

I took a little extra time to look up Teeccino and what it consisted of. It was supposedly a noncaffenated alternative to coffee. It is also called Mediterranean Herbal Coffee. The ingredients for the Java are organic carob, organic barley, organic chicor, dates, almonds, chicory, natural coffee flavor, organic figs. Interesting combination, huh?  I wasn't sold on it and certainly didn't want to waste our money on something that was going to get thrown away.

Well, long story short I am in Bread Beckers and I come across small packets of the different varieties of Teeccino. I bring home the mocha and the java packet. I brew it according to package directions in our coffee maker, put in a little cream, a little sucanat with honey and expect the worse. I am delighted to tell you that after the first sip and then many sips I am completely sold on Teeccino. I have stopped drinking coffee, except for an occassional cup (I will always enjoy coffee). I did have slight headaches for a few days, even though I was only consuming about 3/4 of a cup of coffee a day. Those headaches are gone now and so is the guilt that I felt in knowingly consuming something that may be harmful to the unborn baby.

I really do enjoy the taste. Some may not. But, if you are interested in cutting out coffee for whatever reasons, I would recommend that you atleast give it a try.

Another good thing about Teeccino is that I can drink it in the middle of the day, before bedtime, etc... and not have to worry about it affecting me or the baby.

You can order it online, with the Bread Beckers, or your closest Whole Foods store.

Thankful for my cup of strong coffee bite softened with a slight sweetness,


Monday, October 3, 2011

Courageous, Mom and Dad, and the Wade's

On Thursday evening my parents arrived to stay with us over night. My daddy had some meetings in Atlanta and they came a day early to spend some time with us. They brought back my very missed baking pans that I left when moving. They also brought to us some highly anticipated eggs that our chickens (which are now their chickens) had laid. Oh the difference in fresh farm raised eggs. Their is a richness to them and something satisfying to know that you just went and got them from your backyard.

We had a very nice time with them, although it was short. On Friday they took the oldest five of our children to see the movie "Courageous" . Keith and I were able to prescreen it back over the summer and loved it. We decided to stay home with the two little ones and this was a special treat for our other children. They had been waiting eagerly to see this movie and had tried to get details out of us to no avail! We didn't want to ruin one second of any kind of surprise.

When they came home all of them were deeply moved. They talked and talked about it. Of course, they loved the funny parts. They spoke of tears they shed and a little fearfulness during certain parts. We hope to talk with them more about the central theme of the movie this week. For me and Keith it was such a challenge in the area of fatherhood. To rise above the mediocre way of parenting which can consist of just letting the days go by and making very little impact in the lives of the children God has placed in our care. The movie will have you laughing and crying and contemplating how you are doing in relationship to your children and the responsibility you have before God. It is the best of all of them in our opinion. They are excellent about weaving the truth of the gospel throughout the entire movie. When it is said and done, it makes you want to cheer for a job well done for the Glory of God. And, as the children told us, that is exactly what the audience did when the movie ended for them on Friday.

I pray you will make a great effort to go and see this movie. And, please take someone with you. Take your children with you. It may be a little too intense for the little guys. We allowed Joshua, our five year old to go. We also need to pray that God will use this avenue of spreading His powerful message in a miraculous way to touch many lives.

And if the weekend couldn't get better, we were able to have a special family come and stay with us Saturday and go to church with us on Sunday.

All 11 of them!! Soon will be 12!

The Wade's have been a special family to us for quite some time. Jason serves as a deacon at our former church and both are pharmacist's. Sandra Kaye works one day a week and is at home with her family the rest of the week. They have two boys, Justin and Mason, and two girls, Georgia and Olivia. Keith was able to go and enjoy watching Georgia play football while we stayed home and took a picnic lunch to the playground and just hung out together. Precious time.

Thankful for...

my pampered chef stones
my small loaf pans
twenty something little brown eggs
visit with parents
children's excitement over movie
memories made with the Wade's
worshipping together in our new church
great afternoon naps
another day to wake up to God's mercy