Monday, November 10, 2014

November is Adoption Month!

It's November already.  The temperatures are dropping and thoughts turning to Thanks and pumpkins and turkeys and family get-togethers.  In the midst of this I am reminded to rejoice with those whose families have grown through the process of adoption - children welcomed and loved as sons and daughters.  I couldn't help but think of this as a family in our church celebrated their first "gotcha day" anniversary this past week.  And I am also reminded to pray for those still waiting for families to call their own.  Some of my friends are in the midst of this process and it reminds me even more to be in prayer for these children and families.
Here are some resources for Adoption Month that you may find helpful regardless of whether or not you, or people you know, are adopting.

This sermon by John Piper is a good reminder of our need to trust in "the all-sufficiency of God's future grace"... and I certainly need that reminder!



Ever go to pray and you're not sure what to say?  Not sure how to pray for orphans?  Here is a Foster Care Prayer Guide with a lot of helpful ideas. 

Considering adoption but not sure where to start?  Jillian, an adoptive mama over at Adding a Burden shares eight ways to get the ball rolling.  See her post here.   

A few weeks ago we talked about the idea of a Blessingway and making a baby shower more meaningful.  I found this description of a toddler adoption shower which describes perfectly a gathering that blessed and encouraged.  So cool to read! 

    Adopted For Life by Russell Moore is a great book recommended by an adoptive mama friend.  I appreciate how he explained and fleshed out our adoption by God!

And lastly, if you don't want to be convicted, you probably shouldn't watch this video...



Consider lifting these little ones (and big ones!) up in prayer this month.  Perhaps think about what you can do to make a difference... be His hands and feet?

Sarah


p.s. I love families and children and have since long before David and I were a family.  Since I have lots of thoughts in this area I have decided to write about them from time to time... though I realize it could start the rumor weed growing at a fantastic rate.  If you hear any rumors brewing about what's going on in the Brick house, please realize that they are most likely unfounded and do your part to keep the weeds from spreading.  Thank you! 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Re-thinking the baby shower... why you don't have to be a hippy to want (or give) a blessingway

Baby showers are wonderful.  You get to see the expectant mama, and possibly the newborn little one, and shower them with love, kisses and gifts.  I have had the privilege of helping to plan several of these occasions and it's always a lot of fun.  But no one likes to plan the games (ok, very few people...).
Guessing games.  Candy bars melted in diapers.  Trivia games.  Rarely does someone pipe up excited to plan this portion of the get together (and it doesn't seem that people are necessarily ecstatic to play them either).  I think that showers are great.  Providing for the physical needs of the new family is important and helpful.  Laughing and playing silly games and drinking punch is all well and good too.... but sometimes I wonder if we are missing something in the midst of all the "stuff".  Hopefully the new mom and dad feel blessed by these family members and friends who have come out to offer them gifts and support.  

At the end of the day do they feel encouraged, strengthened, loved?  More ready to meet the challenges and joys of a changing family dynamic and training up a little one in the way he or she should go?  More confident in the plan God has for them?  If we believe this child is a gift, if we believe God has blessed this family, if we believe families are important and parenting is a sacred responsibility and a call from God, how is this reflected in our showering of the parents?  Could a shower be not simply a giving of bibs and blankets but also a giving of wisdom, a giving of praise to God for this gift, a giving of prayers and strength for sleepless nights and cutting teeth and temper tantrums, a giving of memories, a giving of God's word that speaks to each day of our lives?  There is a Navajo tradition that is called a Blessingway, which is described as follows (stay with me - I promise I'll bring this back from the hippy direction it sounds like it's going!):

"A mother's blessing is an intimate party inspired by an ancient Navajo ceremony called a blessing way. The ceremony is held to prepare an expectant mother for her upcoming birth journey -- to shower mom-to-be with love, support and encouragement. The act of birth is seen as a rite of passage for women, and this is meant to help a woman feel mentally, physically and emotionally ready to give birth".the bump



Photo from this Blessingway post

Many of the suggestions out there would make conservative protestants very uncomfortable.  Having the moth wear a flower crown, reciting mantras, painting her belly, and passing along "positive energy" paints a very hippy picture that many would not want to partake in at all.  And I'm not saying you should.  What I am saying is that maybe we need to reconsider the purpose of our baby showers and what message they are conveying.  Are we truly blessing this man and woman as they are on the way to being parents?  Is God recognized as the author of this happy event?  Is His strength sought on behalf of this growing family?

Scripture tells us that God has created this child uniquely (Psalm 139:13-16).  That God is the one who builds families (Psalm 127:1).  The blessing of a child incited praise to God and singing for Mary (Luke 1:46-55), Elizabeth (Luke 1:42-45), Zechariah (Luke 1:68-79), Sarah (Genesis 21:6-7), the friends of Naomi (Ruth 4:14-15), and Hannah (1 Samuel 2:1-10).  Children are a particular blessing from God.  God has given direct instructions about how we are to raise our children.  He is "before all things and in him all things hold together"... so shouldn't we include Him in the holding together of our families?  

So when you're planning the next baby shower maybe just stop and consider how it could be a little bit less... or a little bit more.  A little bit less about the perfect gift.  A little bit less about the perfect party theme.  A little bit more about strong parents.  A little bit more about building up Mom.  A little more about the God who gives all good gifts.  

And if you really want to melt candy bars in someone's diaper, by all means knock yourself out! :) 


p.s. I love families and children and have since long before David and I were a family.  My dream has always been to work in Obstetrics and I hope to fulfill that dream someday!  Since I have lots of thoughts in this area I have decided to write about them from time to time... though I realize it could start the rumor weed growing at a fantastic rate.  If you hear any rumors brewing about what's going on in the Brick house, please realize that they are most likely unfounded and do your part to keep the weeds from spreading.  Thank you!  
   

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Pesto and mozzarella flatbread


Today I have a super easy and delicious flatbread recipe for you!  When I saw this flatbread challenge I immediately thought of doing something with pesto because it just tastes so good to me right now.  Sometimes in the summer I have made a toasted tortilla with tomatoes and basil fresh from the garden (with feta of course :) ... unfortunately I only had one garden cherry tomato left, so it needed a little help, but that was the inspiration for this recipe. 

My husband mentioned that this would be good with some shredded chicken on it too, and if you're looking for a little extra protein or something to up this to a "main dish" I think that would be perfect.  With only four ingredients this is simple to prepare and comes together in a snap.  The flatbread disappeared very quickly in our house and I was sad it was gone in even less time than I took to make it.  I think it will definitely be making an appearance on our menu again in the near future!   

While making this flatbread I learned some very helpful things about dough as well.  I always struggle with rolling out my pizza dough and getting it to stay put on the pan.  A friend told me that part of the problem is probably that I try to roll it out before it is completely warm (you see, I often cheat and use frozen pizza dough that I thaw in the fridge overnight... but I don't always leave it out very long before trying to work with it).  I left this dough out much longer than I usually do and it was definitely room temperature.  It rolled out so much easier!  Note to self - use warm dough.  Also, when I read about the challenge I learned that Rachel rolls out her pizza dough with olive oil instead of flour.  This seemed a little odd to me but I tried it and was pleasantly surprised by how well it worked.  Good idea to remember for next time.

Anyway, here is the recipe.  Let me know what you think! 
Come join the Fabulous Flatbread Challenge at Rachel Cooks sponsored by United Dairy Industry of Michigan — Win prizes! See the flatbread challenge here

Pesto and Mozzarella Flatbread

Ingredients -
Pizza dough of your choice
1 6oz jar pesto
8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
grape, cherry, or roma tomatoes, sliced

Directions - 
Divide dough in half.  Roll each half into a very thin flatbread and place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.    Spread pesto onto flatbreads (you probably won't need the whole jar).  Sprinkle evenly with cheese and arrange tomatoes over top.  Bake at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until desired crispness.  Slice diagonally or into wedges and enjoy!   

Note - This post is not sponsored by anyone.  All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Pumpkin maple ice cream

Fall is here!
One of the things I love about fall is all of the wonderful pumpkin flavors that pop up everywhere.  Pumpkin finds its way into our coffee, our desserts, and our baked goods... and I am more than ok with that :)  One of the restaurants here has a pumpkin milk shake that is delicious, so when I saw recipes for pumpkin ice cream showing up on Pinterest I had to give some a try!



I was not disappointed - this ice cream tastes just like pumpkin pie with surprise maple bits here and there.  It was so good and I'm sad that I only made a half batch!  The maple flavor is very subtle so if you really wanted to accentuate that you might want to add a smidge of maple extract.  Or, you could leave the crumbled cookies out all together if you want to keep it simple.



(Want to make pumpkin ice cream but don't have an ice cream maker?  Check out this recipe from What Megan's Making that you can make from store bought vanilla ice cream) 

Hope you enjoy this yummy fall treat!


Pumpkin Maple Ice Cream

Inspiration taken from blahnikbaker and whatmegansmaking

Ingredients -
1 cup milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
approximately 8 maple sandwich cookies, crushed to desired size

Directions -
Whisk all ingredients except for sandwich cookies until well combined.  Freeze according to your ice cream maker's directions, adding crushed cookies in the last few minutes of mixing.  Serve immediately or allow to harden further in the freezer.  Sprinkle with crushed cookies prior to serving if desired (or drizzle with caramel?!).
Enjoy :)



Monday, October 6, 2014

Peach Cobbler


There is something wonderfully homey about the smell of peaches and cinnamon cooking on the stove!  We had a cold snap here in Michigan and it got me thinking that I had better make peach cobbler before “summer” was over.  It certainly felt like fall but cobbler was delicious none the less.


This recipe is my Mom’s.  I may be slightly biased since I grew up eating it, but I think it’s really good and it comes together pretty easy.  And, like I said, it will make your house smell wonderful while you are making it.  So if you’re looking for something to do with those leftover peaches or you just want a simple dessert, give this cobbler a try.


On a side note - we ate all of the cobbler before I remembered to take a picture of it!  So please pardon these pics of half-assembled cobbler from when I was still living at my parents house :)

Peach Cobbler

My Mom’s recipe

Ingredients - 
1 Tbsp cornstarch
½ cup sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon
4 cups sliced peaches (drained if using canned)
3 Tbsp shortening
1 cup flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ cup milk

Directions - 
Combine first four ingredients and cook on the stove top, stirring occasionally, until peaches are tender and sauce is thick.  While peaches are cooking, combine remaining ingredients into dough.  Pour peach mixture into baking dish and immediately drop dough by spoonfuls over the hot mixture.
Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes.     

Monday, September 29, 2014

Greek salad mix


Greek salad mix is actually a Brick House original!  The idea is certainly not new but the recipe is something I have developed over the years as I tried to replicate a mediterranean wrap I had in college.  The taste is great with the combination of feta and greek dressing... and it is full of veggies.  We like to eat it as a wrap with tortillas and sliced cucumber and I have also recently taken to eating it straight or over greens.  It is easy to put together and keeps well in the fridge.  If you're looking for a simple no-oven meal or something a little different to pack for lunches give this a try and let me know what you think :)



Greek Salad Mix


Ingredients - 
1-2 green peppers, diced
1 can diced tomatoes, drained (even better with fresh!)
1 can black olives, drained and sliced
1 red onion, diced  (or less, to taste)
1 container crumbled feta
Greek style vinaigrette

Directions -  
Combine chopped veggies and feta.  Add viniagrette to taste.  Eat plain or enjoy over flat bread with cucumbers and spinach. 






Sunday, September 21, 2014

Ham and swiss sliders

A friend from work gave me this recipe for sliders and it is wonderful (and ridiculously simple).  We ate them all in about two settings and then the next week my husband wanted to know if there was more.  Unfortunately there wasn't :(   The recipe was so easy I decided to take a batch to a friend who was moving.  Her family loved them too and were equally as sad when they were gone so she asked for the recipe.  Thus, it's getting put up on the blog quicker than most things I make!


The sandwiches are relatively quick to assemble and the sauce is quickly mixed and melted in the microwave.  I was a little skeptical about the sauce ingredients but they really come together perfectly in these sliders.  With the mix of flavors and the gooey cheese they are delicious warm from the oven.  And the other good news is that they were just as delicious when we heated them up for leftovers.  If you try them, let me know what you think!


Ham and Swiss Sliders

Recipe originally from Jessica

Ingredients -
12 hawaiian rolls
ham (or other deli meat)
swiss cheese
1/2 cup melted butter
1 tsp poppy seeds
1 tsp mustard
2 tsp onion flakes
2 tbsp worcestershire
2 tbsp brown sugar

Directions -
Slice hawaiian rolls if not pre-sliced.  Assemble sandwiches with rolls, ham, and swiss.  Place sandwiches in a baking pan (9"x13" was about right for the size rolls I had).  Combine remaining ingredients and pour (while stirring) evenly over sandwiches.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  Enjoy warm from the oven :)