Thursday, March 31, 2011

Really Naughty Dark Chocolate Cake

I'm not kidding guys, this recipe is so delicious.  I like to make cupcakes from it but you can do a regular pan, layer, bundt, whatever suits your fancy.  :D  My kids loved it and it's SUPER easy.  This is like Devil's Food Cake and is really soft.  YUMMM...!  Oh, by the way this recipe makes 24 cupcakes.  Another yummy idea is to add chocolate chips into this or sprinkle on top.  

Dark Chocolate Cupcake
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup cold brewed coffee
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the eggs, coffee, milk, oil and vinegar. Mix until smooth, batter will be thin. Pour into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool.
Pick which frosting you would like.  :D

 I wanted cupcakes just because they are easy to handle so just make sure to grease pan and then only cook on 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Allow to cool before frosting. :)

Other Pans
Bake mine in a 10" bundt (cooking time appx. 38-40 min.) or two 9" cake pans (25 min.)

Caleb loved them!!

Hydra Refine® One-Minute Clarifying Mask Review

Click HERE to visit site

Repechage sent me Hydra Refine One Minute Mask. I'm not really one to use a lot of products as I've always had really clear skin.  However, now that I'm in my 30's I'm noticing there is more of a need to use foundation to even out skin tones. Not really expecting much, I thought I'd give the clarifying mask a try on the first night I got it.  You just rub a small amount of the oily skin treatment (It deep cleans, absorbs oil without drying, and exfoliates) on your face and let sit for 1 minute.  By the way, I loved the smell and feel of it. When ready I wiped and dried my face and went on my way.  Here's the cool part.  When I woke up the next morning I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth.  I look up and said out loud "Oh my gosh!"  My husband said "What?!"  thinking something was wrong.  I hadn't seen my skin that clear in a long time. Not talking blemishes.  More like just an even skin tone and my skin just looked really healthy.  I'm not kidding when I say that I was going to go out that day and replenish my foundation supply.  I didn't even need to.  That's how well my skin has looked since using this product.  I'm really, really impressed. The true test was at church where the lighting is really bright.   I always think my make up looks good till I go into the bright bathroom and look in the mirror. Ahh!  Talk about truthful lighting.  Tonight at church I had to go check it out in the bright lighting.  Yep, I was right, this is some good professional skin care.  Anyway, I just had to share!  I love it!  I definitely a fan of this product.

Here are some facts about it:

Hydra Refine® redefines oily skin care with a line of five products that balance your skin’s pH, controlling the production of oil while maintaining facial moisture.  If you’re wondering how it’s possible to fight oil while keeping skin moisturized, the answer lies in the four main ingredients that define Hydra Refine®:
Featured Ingredients:
·         Laminaria Saccharina Seaweed—This unique seaweed helps reduce sebum production and fights the oil oxidation that contributes to the formation of blackheads.  At the same time, it hydrates the skin never leaving you dry or irritated. 
·         Lemongrass—With antiseptic and astringent properties, lemongrass is ideal for treating oily skin, and is a known anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent.
·         Farnesol (Lily of the Valley)—This natural ingredient supplies the skin with protection against acne causing bacteria.
·         Cucumber—Cucumber is widely known as a soothing, cooling and healing agent, but the essential oil of cucumber has even greater benefits.  With vital fatty acids and anti-oxidants, such as Vitamin E and Zinc, cucumber oil protects the skin and aids in healing.  Proteolytic enzymes refine the skin and help keep pores clean and clear.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Tomoson Product review & giveaway Disclosure.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Is ADHD an Illness or a Hurdle?

My Elementary Days
In my other BLOG I was talking with moms on the subject of Aspergers.  The second half I talked about ADHD.  Is it an illness?  What are the positive aspects of it?  I wanted to share it here.

ADHD has been given a lot of negatives and at times it was hard for me to deal with growing up.  But one day I needed to stop and think about the positives.  Yes, I struggled all through school.  Yes, I drove my parents crazy most days.  Yes, I made my parents chase me down the street in front of the neighbors quite often.  Yes, sitting in church was torture for me at times.  Sometimes they had to drag me out while I was kicking and screaming.  At times the pastor would just have to stop preaching because he couldn't be heard over me.  Taking me to the store was sometimes humiliating.  As an adult, these struggles don't always go away, they just change.

Organization is like rocket science to me.  I love going to church and I go three times a week.  BUT I have to keep my hands busy by doodling so I can focus.  When I compare myself to moms that making homemaking and organizing look like a cinch, I want to hang my head in shame.  I tend to go in circles cleaning up because of my focus problems.  I still wear earmuffs when the house gets too loud.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm a very traditional homemaker and LOVE it.  I bake, clean, cook, wash, sew, have babies, homeschool and I love every bit of it.  ADHD I believe helps me keep up with all these things.  Juggling it, albeit not perfectly and some days despairingly, I will work myself to exhaustion making sure it gets done.  Being able to move quickly from one thing to the next without having a perfectionist mentality makes it possible for me to keep up with a busy life and making room for spontaneity.  At times I may go to bed with a spotless house.  Sometimes I may be too embarrassed to answer the door.  But I can promise you this, I go to bed in peace that I give it my all every single day.  I may not have all the clothes washed or dishes may be piling in the sink, but it's probably because I'm out back playing soldiers with my boys or barbies with my girls in their room. If you are looking for a supermom, then you're looking at the wrong gal.  But if you are looking for an example of someone who loves life, loves her family, tries every day to work on her weaknesses, then you've found the right one.  Even though I struggle, I won't give up and just roll over because orderliness is a character quality.

Character Quality Alert

Orderliness vs. Disorganization

Preparing myself and my surroundings so that I will achieve the greatest efficiency. 
1 Corinthians 14:40

Some may call ADHD an illness.  For me it's just been a hurdle.  I truly am blessed. 

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The BEST Whole Wheat Bread Ever!

I've been on a search for the best homemade bread and I FOUND it.  This bread is so unbelievably good.

This bread slices easy and came out beautiful. Extremely delicious.
The name is kind of deceiving because it's not ALL whole wheat but you can certainly make it to be.  I'm in search of a favorite recipe so I am excited to try this one and see how my family reacts to it.  :)  Even though it has two different types of flour on here, I always try to use as much 100% Whole Wheat flour I can.  Today I used about half and half because I was running out of both.  After making this one, this is the winner.  I'm never making another one.  DELICIOUS!  Even better when you brush melted butter over the top of it while it's baking.

Ingredients (Makes 3 loaves)
  • 3 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 5 cups bread flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  1. In a large bowl, mix warm water, yeast, and 1/3 cup honey. Add 5 cups white bread flour, and stir to combine. Let set for 30 minutes, or until big and bubbly.
What dough looks like after step 1

2.  Mix in 3 tablespoons melted butter, 1/3 cup honey, and salt. Stir in 2 cups whole wheat flour. Flour a flat surface and knead with whole wheat flour until not real sticky - just pulling away from the counter, but still sticky to touch. This may take an additional 2 to 4 cups of whole wheat flour. (I didn't need to add anything).  Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the surface of the dough. Cover with a dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled. (Kneading the bread in picture below)

Kneading bread is taking one half of the dough and pulling it up and over into the center and pushing down.

3.   Punch down, and divide into 3 loaves. Place in greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans, and allow to rise until dough has topped the pans by one inch. (Picture below is before I let it rise in loaf pans)

Just before letting it rise a second time in loaf pans.

4.   Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes; do not overbake. Lightly brush the tops of loaves with 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine when done to prevent crust from getting hard. Cool completely

Just out of oven with melted butter brushed over it.
     *** NEW BREAD MAKERS:*** Take 5-8 minutes to knead your bread. It's properly kneaded when it's smooth as a baby's butt.You will know when your bread is done when you insert a thermometer and it reaches 190-200F. If you don't have a thermometer, knock on the bread. If it makes thud noise, it's not done. It should sound hollow. As soon as the bread is done, remove from pan immediately and let it cool on a wire rack. If you leave it in the pan, the steam will make the bread soggy and it'll mold on the bottom.

    Monday, March 28, 2011

    Just One of Those Nights

    By the time I get 6 kids ready for church (about 1 1/2 hours) and myself (which takes all of 15 minutes), drive to church, unload the kids and all the gear, find a row that fits all of us, I sit down in my chair with relief.  Well, last night was one of those nights where it SEEMS like everything is going well till you arrive in the parking lot of the church.  It dawns on me that the girls had loaded in the van without us having to ask.  Which ALSO means I didn't get a chance to check their outfits. Everyone has to go through a mommy check and often I have to send some back to change.

    "No, Kyle.  You can't wear swim shorts to church".  Or "Ivy, spandex shorts and a dress shirt just doesn't count as being dressed up."

    Well, we park the car and I said "Oh, my goodness.  What are the girls wearing?"  I look back and Ashley never changed out of her oversized play dress.  Some cute little outfits might be endearing but this time it just wasn't because of how big it was.  It was obvious I didn't dress her. Did I mention she also had NO shoes on?  

    Charles says "Oh, it's okay.  I can just carry her in."  No way!  I said I'd rather drop them off and take Ashley back home to change.  The problem was that church was about to start.  Sigh.  So while they go inside, I just sit there for a minute to think.  Do I just take her inside looking obviously like mommy didn't get her dressed?  Even though she was bathed, she had already gotten stuff all over her face.  Her hair was a mess.  No shoes.  Oversized clothes.  Sigh again.  

    I look around the van (I have a HUGE van) and see if I spot any clothes someone happen to leave behind. Yes, my kids sometimes load out of the van in their underwear once we get back home.  Seriously, I tell them they can wait till they at least get into their bedroom.  I spot shorts that belong to Caleb.  Hey, that might work. Ashley has a little butt.  But the problem is still no shirt.  I look again and find a dress for Ashley that was just out of the wash!  How the heck did that happen?  Then I realized that recently I told myself I would pack some extra clothes in the van for emergencies. I actually listened and did it!  Whew!  I NEVER do that!  I just never think ahead like that.  Well, this time it came in handy and saved my bacon.  The next problem was shoes.  Ashley yells out "Mom I found shoes!"  Yes!  She must of taken off her shoes before exiting the van after the morning service. I got some wipes and wiped her down, redid her hair.  

    Feeling triumphant and generous I shake the pastor's hand, and also two other usher's.  I couldn't believe I made it and just before it started too.  I went downstairs to drop off Caleb.  Walking back up the stairs to go into service, I look down and notice somehow my blouse had unbuttoned all the way down to my bra.  Gasp.  I had just shaken 3 men's hands (one was the pastor's) while looking like that.  It wasn't a baggy shirt so when it's not buttoned, it just is VERY obvious.  I sat down just in time with a red face.  Gosh.  Even through all that and being embarrassed, I made it. I'm just glad the sermon wasn't about modesty.  That would've been the topper for me.

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    Saturday, March 26, 2011

    Who's the Mouse that Got Mine Pregnant?

    I'm an obvious animal lover.  Slowly over the years I've acquired a little more at a time.  Just to get used to the care of each type.  So the other day I was looking in my son's mice cage and noticed one of the mice sleeping an awful lot. Since the weather has been gorgeous we decided to put them out on a table on the patio a few weeks ago. About 5 days ago my son Ryan yelled and said he saw a 3rd mouse in the cage and it was grey.  What the heck?  By the time I went to check there was no 3rd mouse.  He said over and over that he did in fact see it.  I wonder how long he's been visiting there?  Well, I figured we'd find out soon enough.  I have two female mice.  

    Big tummy

    Today I went to feed the mice and thought one of them had a pretty big tummy. What the heck?  They are both thin.  I look again and notice she is waddling big time when she walks.  LOL!  So I call for the kids and they all come running out to see.  

    Big tummy

    So then I thought I'd better go check online how to care for mice that are about to have little ones.  This one is new for me. I find this article.

    It says when you find out they are pregnant, clean out the cage since you won't be cleaning it for awhile.  I disturbed her nest I'm sure but she was quick to make another one.  I explained to the kids that they can't mess with the mice for awhile and they definitely can't hold the babies till they are at least 3 weeks old.  I also learned that the pregnancy takes 18-21 days.  That's it?  Whoa?  Can you imagine?  "Guess what, Honey, I'm pregnant!  We'd better get a crib next paycheck because he's comin' fast!"  Heh heh.  In fact, this article said that by the time you even notice they are pregnant, most likes the mice are coming any day. Seriously, I want to see this in action.  I've already thought of different ways to put a tiny camera in there to watch.  Darn.  I really need to invest in something like that. Would be fun to put in the chicken house.  

    So I was talking aloud and wondered why the other mice isn't pregnant yet.  Ryan said, "Oh, well the boy mouse just didn't want to commit adultery.  That's why."  Haha.  He said that the male mouse only wanted to "kiss" one mouse and now that's his wife.  Sooo, that works for now.  

    Ivy then told me she was scared for the mouse because she didn't want to see the mouse' tummy open and then have to die.  I said, "Oh, mommy had babies and I didn't die."  Ivy asked "And you were okay? You didn't die?"  Silence.  "No, Ivy.  I didn't die.  I'm still here.  Talking to you. Right now."  She sighed and was relieved.

    Just for memory sake I did a search on my blog to see when Jasmine had her kittens.  We got to watch her birth them.  It was so neat.  Here are 3 blogs with pictures.  :) The bottom post is when the kittens were only a day old or so.

    Friday, March 25, 2011

    100% Whole Wheat Bread

    Really soft & fluffy 100% whole wheat bread. Makes 2 loaves.

    Mix dry ingredients together first before adding liquids since that activates the yeast.  Wait to put it the liquids when you are ready to knead.

    • 4 teaspoons of instant yeast
    • 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk (I buy the HUGE 37lb Morning Moo's from Costco in container)
    • 6 1/4 cups 100% Whole Wheat Flour (look on ingredients and make sure it doesn't say enriched whole wheat.  Needs to be 100%.  King Arthur is my favorite if getting from regular grocery store)
    • 2 1/2 teaspoons of salt
    • 2 cups (16oz) lukewarm water
    • 1/2 cup (4oz) orange juice
    • 1/2 cup melted butter or vegetable oil (Use slightly less if using oil)
    • 6 tablespoons molasses (4 1/2 oz) or maple syrup (4oz) Some use honey.
     I knead the dough for about 5-10 minutes.  Then let it sit covered till it about doubles in size.

    Then I punch it back down (above), split it in two and let rise in 2 loaf pans.  Let it rise to about 1 inch above pans before baking (below). 

    Then cook for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Place foil on top of each loaf for the last 15 minutes of cooking.

    Finished bread.

    Father & Daughter Reunite...& Make a Baby

    273911_First One's On Us: Coupon Code: IMEMFIRST

    This article is incredibly sad and hard for me to believe they are just so blinded in love. I just wonder the mother's reaction to all this? Can you imagine your daughter calling to say "Guess who I found? My dad and we're gonna have a baby!" What is said below is from an an article and copy and pasted.

    It would have been a beautiful reunion story. Last year,Penny Lawrence, 28, set out to find her birth father whom she had never met. From her home in Ireland, she was able to track Garry Ryan, 46, down in Texas. They met, connected ... and then connected a little too much. She's now pregnant with his baby.
    It is beyond disturbing and completely and utterly unfathomable to me that something like this could happen, but they act as if it's the most natural, beautiful thing in the world. They say they're in love and deny that it's incest. Instead they say they are victims of Genetic Sexual Attraction. Lawrence told The Sun:
    We are not committing incest, but are victims of GSA. We’ve never experienced a father-daughter relationship, so we’re just like any other strangers who meet in adulthood.
    Only he's your BIOLOGICAL FATHER. You are not like strangers at all. This attraction may or may not be a real thing, I don't care. Even if you're attracted to someone, YOU DON'T HAVE TO SLEEP WITH THEM. Keep your feelings repressed and move on.
    Ryan told the paper:
    It’s no different than if I met Penny in a bar. I’d have fallen for her as I have now. It doesn't feel like we are doing anything wrong.
    Only it's illegal ... and disgusting.
    I'm sure it's tough to grow up without a father, but it still doesn't excuse or explain such a relationship. Apparently Ryan tried to marry Lawrence's mother when she first found out she was pregnant at 18, but he says her family "disapproved of the relationship and didn't want me around." Sounds like they were smart people.
    If there wasn't a baby involved, I would be more willing to turn a disgusted blind eye to the whole mess, butwhen you bring a child into it, it's just flat-out wrong. They are clearly not mentally stable enough to serve as parents to this child, and I hope someone intervenes to see that they don't.
    Do you think this father and daughter should be allowed to raise their child, who is a result of incest?


    List of Books Ordered

    Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family, AA Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family:
    I'm thinking maybe I should build a library?  I get so many books from publishing companies, authors, and I order some of my own.  When I do buy, I always order from Amazon.  I'm an Amazon LOVER.  I try to tell people that if, say for example, you need encouragement in raising a large family, get a book that'll do that.  I love 20 and Counting for that reason from the Duggars.  Okay, so if she can do it with ALLLLL hers, I can do it with six.  Not only that but the tips and tricks are awesome.  If you love large families but frequently watch TV shows that are anti family or read books that are from a selfish mindset, it can really alter your thinking.  If you don't think that it can, what are commercials for?  Advertise AND convince you why you need what they have.

    Family Feasts for $75 a Week: A Penny-wise Mom Shares Her Recipe for Cutting Hundreds from Your Monthly Food BillFamily Feasts for $75 a Week:
    My biggest struggle lately is I'm not good at saving money in the grocery department.  I STINK at it.  I just make what I want and that's it.  I've been married 12 years but only really been cooking for every single meal in the last 2 years... (I had to stop typing for a minute because I could hear gulping.  My 3 yr old was just under the table with my soda. She's sneaky!  haha)  Anyway, 2 years ago we made much more money and since we are a family of explorers, we ate out a lot.  If we had a huge RV, we'd be on the road all the time.  We love to discover to places to see and eat at.  Things have changed so I've really learned a lot about cooking because I've had to.  However, saving money on buying food isn't my thing. So this another book coming.

    Once-A-Month Cooking Family Favorites: More Great Recipes That Save You Time and Money from the Inventors of the Ultimate Do-Ahead Dinnertime MethodOnce-A-Month Cooking:
    One of my huge curiosities lately have been about Once a Month Cooking.  One time we watched four kids while their parents vacationed for a week.  My friend called me up and said she wanted to make enough dinner meals for a week to send with me.  She froze them and all I had to do was reheat them every night.  My gosh, even after reheating they were delicious!  Of course some things you have to serve fresh still, but the bulk of it can be cooked all at once and then frozen for later. I'm in the kitchen sometimes from 6-7 hours a day and I'd really like to cut that down.  Especially because of the clean up.

    I'm all about studying, learning, looking to improve.  I'm really excited about these coming in.  I've learned to "chew the meat and spit out the bones."  Some times only certain parts of a book work for me but it's still worth it.  :)  Do you have any favorite tips and ideas?  Or books that have really made a difference for you?  I would love to know.

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    Thursday, March 24, 2011

    NEVER Had This Happen

    Two days ago when were eating dinner, Caleb stood up in his high chair even though he was buckled.  He knows how to get out of it.  When I went to sit him back down he got really upset.  You know the cry where they don't take a breath because they are crying so hard?  He wasn't even making noise.  He didn't take a breath for so long that I even left the highchair, went into the kitchen, put something on a plate and by the time I came back out, he still hadn't taken a breath while in that deep cry.  

    All of a sudden he just slumped over in his high chair and face planted in it.  I ran over to him to alert him so I quickly pulled his limp body out.  He came back to with a blue face and lips but was completely calm.  He wasn't even catching his breath from crying so hard.  Just totally calm.  I've NEVER had a kid pass out from crying like that and he almost did it again later on.  That time I blew in his face to make him catch his breath. I held him for a half hour to make sure he was okay after passing out. 

    FREAKED me out.

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