Flower Birthday

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IMG_0528My daughter wanted a simple “FLOWER” theme for her birthday party this year. I found directions for tissue paper flowers and some other fun stuff and had a great time decorating. My absolute favorite thing was our pin the tail game. I drew a basic flower picture and then let my daughter do the coloring. I cut out some bees from yellow paper and we put tape on the back. It worked perfectly and was super personalized!

I found the idea of cutting pool noodles and stringing them as a banner  – it worked great!

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IMG_0524The tissue paper flowers were very easy and were big decorations – very cost effective! I put them together while my daughter played in the backyard. They were a bit time-consuming.

IMG_0409And of course, we had cake. Well, cupcakes. I made basic cupcakes, then used smashed oreos on top. I found flower decorations at michaels and glued them to toothpicks, then stuck a few worms around the base. Super easy.

My Grandparents’ 60th Anniversary

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anniversary penniesLast night we skipped out on Growth Group (for shame!) to head about 30 mins south to have dinner with my family to celebrate my Grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary (actually June 12!) as well as an early Father’s Day. We went to Seasons 52, which is a fun restaurant (on the expensive side): everything is less than 500 calories, there are several dietary restricted menus if you need them, and the food is changed quarterly to match the seasons. It’s really neat!

Anyway, we had a private room at the back – there were 20 or so of us after all. In addition to the three of us, my grandparents and my parents, both my brothers came – one with his wife and 5 month old daughter (who both spent most of the time outside due to screaming), the other solo. Both my uncles and one aunt were there, as well as three of my five cousins. We had a lovely meal – including sushi and flat-bread appetizers and wonderful fish (and other things) as the main course. The fish was so good, in fact, that my daughter decided after eating her pizza that she’d like my salmon – all of it. Well, not all of it. Just the soft, tasty pink part. I could keep the charred part on the top. Our kid ate a whole personal pizza plus about 2/3 of my salmon! Good thing I had my own personal GF sushi appetizer.

Finally they had what they called “indulgences” for dessert – little 1″ x 1″ x 2″ cups of cakes, pies, or cream things. They had a special tiered tray to stack them and put a candle in the top little cup for my grandparents to blow out, so it looked like a fancy glass cake with treats inside. When Ashley the waitress set it down, my grandparents were so distracted by the desserts, they completely forgot about the candle. About ten minutes later I started to smell smoke and looked around and saw smoke curling up from the table. I briefly wondered who took up smoking (a e-cig?) and rejected that idea as soon as it crossed my mind. I found the candle in front of my grandparents and had to remind them to blow it out – they’d completely forgotten, as had everyone else remotely close to them.

Grandad selfie!My grandparents were adamantly against gifts, but I couldn’t help but give them stamped pennies from 1954. I apologized for screwing up the “no gift rule” and my grandad called me a terrible granddaughter (jokingly). They were so happy with the pennies – simple and meaningful. Then – my favorite part of the night! My brother showed my grandfather how to take a selfie with his phone. He was totally fascinated! He took a couple, then my brother showed him how to email them to people. Grandad was so thrilled he could take pictures with himself in them, but my grandmother was like “No. Nope. Nuh-uh.” She’s too proper (I had a former teacher call her “regal”) to be caught up in anything that’s not posed and clean and flattering. After that, we said goodnight and headed home.

What an absolute blessing to get to celebrate this wonderful occasion with my grandparents. I remember celebrating their 50th anniversary, but this has so much more meaning to me now that I have been married 8 years. I am so impressed with their example and their love for each other over so many years. I am impressed with their kindness, humor, charity, and love. And what impresses me perhaps the most is that these two people who are so dear to me are missing Christ from their lives. They live so fully, so wonderfully, and so sacrificially and are wonderful examples (and have been my entire life!), but they have managed to do so by themselves – with no guiding spirit or no church body for fellowship and edification. I pray daily for my family because these people are good, kind people, and they deserve to hear the gospel and benefit from the love, grace and mercy it can bestow on them – the same things they have been giving most of their lives, but not often receiving.

Annual Women’s Tea

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Once again this year I was in charge of the food for the women’s tea, which always happens the day before Mother’s Day. Spoilers if you don’t want to read the whole post – we managed to get the food served, the food tasted good, I needed more help, and I am NEVER doing that again. For the long story, read on…

It all started off on the wrong foot when Easter landed late this year. I tried to start with planning and recruiting earlier than Easter, I really did. It just didn’t happen.

Then, there were people out of town. Or long time helpers who just needed a break this year. Or ladies who wanted to help but had emergencies. There were people who could help, but I simply ran out of time to call after so many nos and just needed to start working or nothing was going to get done.

Lunch!And that’s when it began.

(After planning the menu) I made the molded chocolates by myself. I figured out the shopping. I had a panic attack and called my MIL to take my daughter for a few days. I did the shopping (6 hours in one day). I made the special mayo, cucumber spread, chicken salad. I called for help. I got help with one of the desserts (PRAISE GOD!). I made the mini tarts (Lord, WHY did I choose this dessert?!?) which were not so pretty (but tasted good). I had three – THREE – helpers prepping with me the day before.

One of the broken trays BEFOREThen, the day of, I had 6 helpers (and one hostess who briefly stepped in to help until she needed to go host her table – yay!). I even called my MIL and asked her if she’d help when she brought my daughter home (she often helps my brother-in-law with his catering business). I really think that ten are needed. We ran around like crazy ladies for hours. The hot water needed to be boiled and poured into the dispensers (since the dispensers were slow). Praise God there was no sweet tea to make. We almost ran out of chicken salad. We nearly missed the lunch queue. We couldn’t sit because we needed to plate the desserts. Two dessert tiers fell apart on us. The desserts were late out. It was chaos and we were tired.

But more than that, there was a lack of grace in those attending that made the day really hard. There were not a lot of thank yous for my helpers. There were a lot of exasperated sighs followed by “the hot water isn’t ready yet?” There were frowns and arms crossed when we brought out desserts. There were ladies walking through the kitchen (an off-limit zone during the tea), who back-talked and rolled eyes when asked to walk around. It was a hard day for a whole lot of work.

themeIt was hard to see so many women who I know, many whom I love and many who are “church ladies” acting so – to be blunt – rude. I know that some were church visitors, but many weren’t. I know I snapped at someone once during the morning and felt awful. For me, the tea was a great reminder of how HUMAN church-goers really are. How flawed and self-centered/self-focused we all can get at times, no matter how wonderful or kind the person. It was a good moment for me for self-reflection. I myself recognize those times I fall short of my expectations for myself – fall flat on my face, in fact – and I try my best to improve my conduct the next time. The only thing I can do with those around me is to hope they do the same, and not to judge them for the same faults that I certainly possess.

However, the tea wiped me out. Four days and not enough help really affected my health and just about knocked me out since. Plus, it just didn’t seem fair to my daughter. So, regrettably, I won’t be able to lead the tea again. Besides, I’d rather be hosting a table, where I can invite my mother and grandmother, who are lost and could use the message.

In all this excitement, I did learn a valuable lesson (look! It’s an afternoon special!): Just because I am good at something doesn’t mean I need to do it – even if I am the best candidate for the job.*

*And I am in no way saying that I am the most qualified for doing food for the tea – I just happened to be the only person who would say yes.

Fasting is over!

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It is well with my soulI ended my fast on Maundy Thursday – not the traditional end of Lent, but it was the time that was right for me. I wanted to celebrate a Maunday Thursday dinner with my family and friends, and while cooking and praying about exactly what was okay for me to eat, I clearly felt that continuing to fast over that day would be more about me that about Jesus, so I stopped my fast. (Funny, I walways knew I’d end on Thursday and not on Sunday.)

Overall, my fast went well. I broke the Daniel Fast hugely once by eating meat at a Mission’s Dinner (I felt that it’d be to the detriment of the group to abstain), and there were several other minor rule infractions (which were basically having balsamic dressing on my salads when I went out to eat with people, and occasionally having some preservatives in food like tomatoes or beans, because it was insanity to avoid it in certain situations).

The first few days were hard because I didn’t really know what to eat, but I ended up getting the hang of it pretty quickly. I set up a pinterest board for Daniel Fast food (note, there are a lot of “Daniel Fast recipes” with honey or date sugar – NOT OKAY! It’s no precious foods, which includes honey, so those recipes are totally not okay if you are following the strict fast.). I found that Trader Joes was A-MAZ-ING. I could buy soups, beans, tortillas (and of course the fresh stuff) without any preservatives in it. My favorite things were potatoes coated in olive oil and baked and refried beans layered with bell peppers and tomatoes (simple 7-layer dip) with baked tortillas to make chips. Then I figured out I could make guacamole and I was in heaven. Drinking water was fabulous. When I craved sweet things, I made sorbets in my Vitamix or ate fresh berries. I ate a lot of nuts and peanut butter with apples and bananas. I discovered oatmeal with flaxseed, chia seed and bananas (best power breakfast ever!). I did find that salads did not work at all, which is what I expected to survive off of – I got bored of olive oil and vinegar REAL quick.

I did have a bit of troubles with potlucks, visiting friends, and eating out. I (frankly) showed up late to the potluck so no one would notice me avoiding the food, asked for water at friends houses (and ate nuts and fruit when provided), and when eating out, stuck with fajitas and beans (probably had some preservatives, but best I could do, salads (with oil and vinegar or balsamic – a slight cheat), or “bowl” type food.” While for the most part I did try to adhere to not telling anyone I was fasting, there were a few people I told: 1) my husband (duh), 2) my daughter (who is 4), 3) one of my best friends, who constantly brings me food, and both my parents and in-laws. While I didn’t intend to tell either sets of parents, it was necessary for the amount of meals I spend around them. I decided to fully explain to my daughter as a way of demonstration, and I needed to tell my friend for practical reasons. I later told two other close friends for purposes of discussing fasting and lent.

Overall, there has been a dramatic improvement in my prayer life. This has had a lasting effect (even a month later – noted on 5/13)! I find that when I don’t know what to think or when I have a problem, I defaulted to prayer, rather than practical solutions. Generally, when you are hungry, you eat. But when you are unable to do so for more than a month, you start to think differently. When I replaced the hunger with prayer – every time I felt hungry, I tried to pray instead, I found that I became accustomed to it. In fact, when I injured myself or had other problems that I’d typically solve myself (especially if there was delayed gratification involved), I found it quite easy to be content with prayer, whereas before my fast I’d be impatient or angry.

In general, I’ve felt better overall after. I’ve felt healthier and more aware of things – more at peace, and more whole: aligned in body and spirit. I returned to eating meat, dairy and sugar and within a few days, I felt ill and run down again. I keep telling myself I need to return to at least partially observing the rules of the Daniel Fast (likely it was the no sugar) because I felt so so much better. In fact, one of the lasting effects is that I haven’t been interested in soda, tea, lemonade, etc. The fast effectively killed my desire for flavored beverages, except in extremely small quantities.

I know that I will definitely fast again, and definitely do the Daniel fast as well. It’s been nothing but a blessing and a growing experience for me, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. I do recommend having a few people to talk about it with (or even to do it with you!) because it’s something that it hard to do alone without prayer – not just your prayer, but the prayer of friends covering you.

Moroccan Mint Tea

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As Part of our Missions conference, we decided to have a prayer and tea time. The head of the missions team thought it would be neat to serve a Moroccan tea in three parts, which goes with the saying:

The first glass is as gentle as life,
the second glass is as strong as love,
the third glass is as bitter as death.

In our group, we prayed in three rounds, each time reading a story from the Bible and using that as a jumping point. One problem though… someone needed to actually make the tea! I volunteered as I love to learn new things and I love me some tea. I spent a while looking around the internet for a good recipe. You can find a great one with pictures here, but if you want the recipe I used – for a bigger pot, and the simple steps, I added them below. It was much easier than expected, just took a bit of time

Moroccan Mint Tea

  1. The basic recipe is: 3.5 tbsp gunpowder green tea (4 if you want it stronger), a handful spearmint leaves, 1/4 -1/2 c sugar and 4 c water (what my teapot holds). This is the tea I ordered, and I picked up spearmint at Trader Joes (though you can prob find it elsewhere). If you don’t have a good strainer, I recommend getting one that holds a lot – the gunpowder tea expands a lot. This is a great one for a 4c teapot.
  2. I put the tea in the strainer, poured boiling water in and let it sit for about one minute. I then poured out the water (it cleaned the tea)
  3. I added the mint leaves and sugar (if using sugar). Then poured water over to fill the pot.
  4. Let the tea steep for 10+ minutes.
  5. Pour a cup of tea. Pour it back into the teapot. Repeat 3 times. This makes the pot of tea have a consistent flavor (esp if using sugar).
  6. Remove the tea and mint leaves (optional)
  7. Pour – traditionally at a height to get bubbles in the tea (but I can’t do that with my nervous tremor).

This tea was AMAZING – some of the best tea I’ve had in my life. We had some wonderful time praying and went home quite full of tea. I highly recommend it!

 

Making Macarons

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Not to be confused with Macaroons. Which I also love to make. And eat.

Macarons are French and are cloudy sandwich cookies with a yummy filling. Macaroons are the shredded coconut cookies, sometimes dipped in or drizzles with chocolate.

Not enough dye, too flat, cracked. ICK.

Not enough dye, too flat, cracked. ICK.

Anyway, a few months ago, we did a French tea for church and since I was in charge of the food, I decided we should make macarons. And by we, I mean me. There were appx 180 women at the tea, which meant I needed to make 180+ macarcons correctly (and if you catch on quickly, you’ve realized that since they are sandwich cookies, that really means you need to make twice that many since you need one on each side of the filling). That said, my first several batches were complete and total disasters. I was literally sobbing in the kitchen. But I was determined to get it since they kept getting better and better each time, and I figured I must eventually get it right. My hard work and patience (which I rarely have) paid off, and I became a macaron master! I cranked out those 200 macarons, everyone ate them, they were delicious, and we all went home. (Did I mention macarons are gluten free? Yeah, that was a big motivator for me.)

This is what they should look like!

This is what they should look like!

Fast forward to about two weeks ago: one of my friends from church asked if I would be willing to make and sell the macarons to a friend of hers for an event. Um, sure! So I figured out the basic cost and charge a bit more, then set to baking on Friday. It was almost as hard the second time to get everything right, but the learning curve wasn’t as steep – I just needed to relearn what I had learned the first time. That said, I present to you the tips and tricks of macaron making in case you ever feel the burning need to try it out for yourself.

First off, here is the recipe I used. There are other recipes online, but this was the one that seemed the most authentic, and had the most consistently positive reviews. (It also actually looked do-able).

Here are the things I learned about making macarons based on other reviews:

  1. Weigh the ingredients (not by volume!).
  2. Sift the almond flour and powdered sugar – absolutely necessary.
  3. 30 strokes to mix the flour/sugar is almost exactly right, but sometimes I need a bit more. I counted every time and never went more than 35.
  4. Ice your hand between piping cookie trays (pipe about 30, then ice hand). Your hand warms up, which affects the mix, and will make the cookies come out flat.
  5. Bang cookie tray on counter to flatten cookie/get bubbles out before resting time.

Here are the things I learned myself. (These may vary by oven/region):

  1. I added color in the kitchen aid soon after adding the granualated sugar and allowed the mixer to mix for me. Some people added the color right before hand mixing the flour/powdered sugar. I assumed I wouldn’t mix well enough. There was no problem with me mixing before the soft peaks formed.
  2. I used about 3 squirts of liquid food coloring. It looks very bright (they should), but then you mix in the flour/p. sugar and the color mellows out. (Also if too pale and cooked too long, they turn brown, which is unappetizing.)
  3. Mix them too much and they lose their air and go flat. Ick.
  4. Parchment paper works best. Real Slipat works. Silicon baking sheets  do not work well at all.
  5. Do not pipe cookie onto paper/baking sheet then try to move to cookie tray. Cookies WILL crack. (I tried this as a time saver so I could make more and let them sit. Not a good idea.)
  6. Sometimes the resting time is 20 minutes, sometimes 1 hour. You need to wait until they have the skin on the top – I wait an hour to be sure.
  7. Cooking times vary. Mine took 12 mins at 300 degrees (not 10 at 285)
  8. WAIT until the cookies are cool before removing them from the mat.
  9. PEEL them off the mat – do not use a spatula.

And here are some tips to save you money:

  1. As you crack the eggs, have 2 tupperware containers ready – one for whites and one for yolks. Save the yolks for another recipe. It’s unlikely you will get exactly 100g of egg whites with 3 eggs – you will either have too much or too little, so put the extra in a container to use for the next round.
  2. The first time you try this, use a pre-made filling. It is hard work getting the cookie right; don’t stress yourself with trying to make a filling too! I used Nutella (YUM!) and it’s delicious. You can get 2 jars of Nutella at Costco for $10 and one jar fills almost 100 cookies.
  3. Don’t use pastry bags. WASTE of money. Use ziplock bags. Find a large glass cup, open the bag inside the cup with the zipper turned out. Fill the bag, turn the zipper the correct way, zip the bag. For extra control, use a rubber band on the end. Then cut a hole in the bottom of the bag.
  4. By the same token, do not try to spread the filling with a knife. You will make a mess and need to throw away (or, shoot, eat) that cookie. Put the filling in a ziplock bag and pipe it just like you would the cookie mix.
  5. Sprouts sells almond flour in the bins at the front. It’s very course, but you are sifting the flour anyway, so you’re going to get the big pieces out. This is MUCH cheaper than Bob’s Mill, which is wonderful. The only downside to using Sprouts flour is that it will cause little specks in the cookie (which I personally like – I think they are pretty). Purists won’t like them.

That’s it! Good luck on your Macaron-making adventure!

Gluten and Hair

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So I came to a realization this week. Every time I shower, my head itches like crazy. Since I wash my hair every other day, the itching seems to mellow out the second shower. I *just* realized that the shampoo I have been using most of my life might be causing my head to itch.

To be clear, my head has never itched before – this is a totally new thing which has gotten more noticeable in the last few weeks. After my last shower and sitting down to itch my head, I remembered something my husband mentioned months ago – about how gluten can be found in some shampoos. I had dismissed him at the time, thinking I didn’t really NEED to cut out gluten from my diet (I was never diagnosed), so why would something like shampoo be an issue with me?

Turns out it is. Apparently. Anyway, I did some research and found out that Pantine Pro-V, which I use, is fine for some with gluten, and causes reactions with others (like me). Other shampoos can do the same. I tried my husband’s Herbal Essences, and that gave me the head itch too, so it’s looks like I need to head to Trader Joes for some organic fragrance free shampoo. Who knew I needed to go Gluten-Free with my shampoo?!

Here’s a website I found incredibly helpful when reading about shampoo and gluten: http://www.infobarrel.com/Do_I_Need_Gluten-Free_Shampoo

Church Summer Faire

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hand paintingToday we celebrated the end of summer with our annual church fair at the local park. Usually there is a softball game, a potluck and singing and stories about summer camp, but this year they really amped it up! We had a volleyball game, a pie contest, face painting, a photo booth, 2 bounce houses (one for adults), bocce ball, and more structured games and sharing time (they prepped the people who were going to share so they weren’t so surprised).

quinoa

We arrived about 2 hours after it started because neither of us wanted to play volleyball or softball – that, and I needed some time to make my potluck dish and pie! I had never brought a gluten free dish to a potluck before (remember, I’ve only been gluten free for a few months), so I did some searching on what might be good, and found this quinoa recipe, which I had almost all the ingredients for already – I also added red pepper, which made it even better (except for the fact that I read tablespoons of cumin instead of teaspoons and then needed to run water through my dish several times to filter the cumin out.) The dish came out wonderful, and I will be making it many more times.

I decided to make a pecan pie since that is my favorite. I went back and forth on doing a GF pie, but I am super competitive, and since there was a competition, I decided to do my regular pie. I always make my own crust, which is totally worth it. My friend from college (also former roommate and bridesmaid) taught me a lot about cooking, but she really taught me how to make a good pie crust. So I made my crust from this recipe (but used butter), and I turned to this recipe for the pecan pie filling. My husband usually hates pecan pie because it is too sweet, but if you make it without the corn syrup (like this recipe), it’s wonderful! Unfortunately, it gives it a kind of foamy top (kind of like creme brulee), so it’s not very pretty, but it sure is good!

Pie contestAnyway, we headed to the park. My daughter went into the kids’ bounce house for a bit, then decided to try the adult one. She make probably 15 rounds (it was an obstacle course one) before getting tire and deciding to go back to the kids’ one. Soon after, we were called for dinner – more than 100 people gathered to pray in public for the meal (I LOVE that!) and then there was a huge line for the food. About this time they started judging pies – I think there were 8 or 9 – and mine ended up tying for second (pretty good since it wasn’t that pretty and I forgot to add milk – even if it was only 1 Tbsp of milk). The winner was a chocolate bourbon pecan pie, and it looked beautiful. The pies were devoured after that pretty quickly.

saying graceFrom there we all sat down and sang a few songs, then listened to stories about the missions trips the college and high school students took (to Encinada,and Arizona, respectively, both to troubled kids centers and to help with home/building construction), as well as the experiences of the younger kids at summer camp. It was a lovely day.

 

Food and Gospel with Air and April

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making cupcakesOne of the things that was really interesting was baking with the girls. Most Chinese people have never used an over (and many have never seen one) – they just buy baked goods from the store. Since they had so much fun making the cookies, April asked to make cupcakes as well. It was funny because Air disappeared for a bit, so I let April choose the colors of the frosting, and when she got back, Air decided that she was going to use all the green frosting, and decided that April was going to get all the purple (even though April had chosen both colors). When I asked if they were ready to switch, Air said, “No, I’m good!” and April just tilted her head. Since April is much quieter and more passive, I pressed, “April, do you want to switch?” She looked at me, and stood straighter, and said in a defiant tone, “YES, I do.” Air looked offended and replied, “No, you are happy with that,” and then loudly talked in Mandarin for a moment. I interrupted and cheerfully said, “we need to share – let’s switch!” Air frowned and April had a huge smile. April – as I mentioned before, has a sister, and Air does not. I think Air is very used to getting her way and has not had to really share before. It was an interesting experience for all of us. They decorate their cupcakes very differently too (Air’s are first, April’s are second).

air's cupcakes april's cipcakes

 

The food was another thing that was very different for them. They weren’t used to eating such heavy food, or having so many sweets, or having raw salad for that matter. Most of the food they enjoyed, but a lot of it was new, and some clearly was not a favorite (to put it nicely). They did both enjoy cereal, and told me that they wished they could bring back some milk with them since our milk (2% in our house) tasted so much better than the milk in China.

Our second Sunday, I went out to get donuts – because I figured they needed them at least once. I got a huge box of them (and was very sad I couldn’t have any). We all sat down for breakfast before church, and had a serious discussion that luckily was very lighthearted. Since they were joining us at church, I asked them how much of the sermon they had understood the prior week (“not much” they confessed), and I asked them what they know about Christians, Christianity, and Jesus. Again, they confessed, “Not much.” I asked if they mind if we explained a bit to them before church so that they could understand it a bit better, and they were really excited. The prior Sunday we had explained the basics of the Bible and how to use it and what it meant to us (and given them their own bilingual copy), but this was the important stuff.

We started with sin and how we believed everyone sinned. We explained how in the Old Testament people made sacrifices to try to make up for their sins. We then explained that Jesus was the son of God, sent down as the one perfect and final sacrifice so that if we put our faith and trust in him, we are made clean. We talked about how we were believers and that we try to live like Jesus and we have a personal relationship with God, which involves prayer and forgiveness, and that we use the Bible for guidance. They asked questions and we got into a discussion about the Da Vinci Code, which was great because it brought the Gospel into everyday perspective. It was a wonderful conversation because it was presented in an educational manner but still conveyed the truth without being pushy in any way: Here’s what we believe, and this is how we (and Christians) understand things, and why certain things are important. What was the absolute best part: when we went to church just after, our pastor presented the gospel again, and I could see the girls nodding their heads; I knew they understood what was being said, even if they didn’t believe it. And as much as I love culture-exchange and learning about other places, my ultimate goal is to share the truth, and hosting was a marvelous opportunity. We were incredibly blessed by the time with the girls.

freedom – ask about all govnt posit commun, but people can believe other things – thoughts?

Catching up and making cookies…

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My life has been incredibly hectic for the last few weeks… my daughter’s birthday, family visiting, VBS, VeggieTales event, and now we have visiting Chinese students with us. I keep trying to catch up on posts from way back when, but I decided that what I need to do is just post from now on, then catch up when I can. So here we go, jumping in in the middle, no background. It’ll come in a bit (hopefully next week when I have a bit of time).

Last night there were no plans, so I thought I’d have the girls make cookies. In China, most people don’t own an oven (except the very rich), so they have never baked cookies, a cake, anything. They have no idea how to mix the ingredients, or how the oven works. Since we had some time (and they are going to Disneyland today, which means they can enjoy and share them!), I figured it was the perfect time.

baking cookiesAfter I got dinner started, I called them in the kitchen. My 4-year-old was bouncing off the wall excited. She loves cookies – both making them and eating them. I decided that instead of the girls trying to work on one recipe together, I’d give them 2 different recipies. I opened my Betty Crocker baking book (from 1979!) and found the chocolate chip cookies and the snickerdoodles. I pulled out all the ingrediants and the measuring tools and explained the basics. My daughter kept trying to do the measuring and mixing since she bakes with me all the time, and I needed to remind her that she needed to let the girls have a chance because they had never baked before. It was hard for my daughter to understand that someone older than her had not done something – that she was the more experienced one.

finished with cookiesAfter mixing everything up – very nervously and carefully! – they rolled everything into balls so they could cool while we ate dinner. After dinner, I had them pop the cookie dough balls onto the cookie sheet, set the timer, and we waited. After a few minutes, I showed them how to remove the trays then move the cookies to the cooling racks. It was fun to watch them go through all the steps being very careful as they learned, then growing in confidence and actually enjoying it. (Grown ups learn much faster than preschoolers.) By the end we had nearly 100 cookies, all perfect, and they were very proud of themselves. April turned to me and said, “Cool. I’m so cool!” Yes, yes you are.

cookies!