Thursday, April 29, 2010

The One About the Roller Coaster

Another installment of "Writing Assignments by Cainan"

I would like to try to ride a roller coaster. It would be big. I would go upside down. At the end I would be dizy. Now I am not afrade to ride a rollercoaster.

by Cainan Grove

P.S. I would feel sik.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Healthy Banana Berry Muffins

Once you taste these moist, sweet, delicious breakfast muffins you'll never believe that they are ultra healthy! They have no refined sugars, almost no fat, and they are packed full of fiber and omega 3s. If you are on the Weight Watchers system you'll be happy to know that these muffins are only 1 pt. each! These muffins were a hit with the ladies in my Bible Study and my kids too.

Healthy Banana Berry Muffins

1¼ cups all-purpose flour*
½ cup oat bran
¼ tsp. salt
2½ tbsp. nonfat dry milk powder
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
1½ large bananas
1 egg white
¼ cup honey
1 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
½ cup orange juice
¾ cup fresh blueberries
¾ cup fresh raspberries

Directions: Preheat the oven to 375˚ F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, oat bran, salt, milk powder, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir together with a fork; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mash together the banana and egg white until the mixture is well blended and slightly frothy. Stir in the honey, butter and orange juice, and mix to blend.

Mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Gently fold in the fresh berries with a spatula until evenly incorporated.

Evenly divide the batter between the prepared muffin liners. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Source: Annie's Eats, adapted from Cooking On the Side

*The white flour is the most unhealthy ingredient in these muffins. Next time I may try using whole wheat flour instead. I think they have enough moisture to handle it.

This post linked to Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays and Tuesdays at the Table.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I Am Reading, Really

I am woefully behind in reviewing the books I've read recently. I really have been reading this year, I just haven't taken the time to blog about any of them. So I updated my book reviews today. You can go here to see my reviews of:

Under Orders by Dick Francis

Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry

Past Imperfect by Julian Fellowes

The Shack by William Young

Theodore Roosevelt: Wilderness Warrior by Daniel Brinkley

The Camel Club by David Baldacci

As always you can find my 2010 Reading List and book reviews on my sidebar at the right. I'll try to do a better job of updating it on a regular basis. I am currently reading The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean, the book on which the Nicholas Cage movie "Adaptation" was based. I'll let you know how it is as soon as I'm finished.

What are you reading?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I Love My Dad by Cainan

"I love my Dad all the way to Earth. I love my Dad as wide as the oshinse. I love my Dad as tale as space. I love my Dad frum Earth to Mishugen."

By Cainan April 8, 2010

Monday, April 19, 2010

Manic Monday

Friday, April 16, 2010

My Little Pony and Other Evils

I've started following a blog called What Christians Like. This is the description of the blog from the site itself:

Started on March 21, 2008 as a reaction to the wildly popular blog Stuff White People Like which was created by Christian Lander, Stuff Christians Like is a blog about the funny things we Christians do. And what they just might reveal about our faith.

The site is written by Jonathan Acuff, a preacher’s kid/copywriter who lives in Atlanta with his wife and two kids. Zondervan is publishing the Stuff Christians Like book in April 2010 but you can pre-order it on right now, right here.

Jon has many hilarious insights into Christianity and asks thought provoking questions about how we are really living out our faith. Some of his posts are:

#750: Thinking the church is not wisely spending your tithe.

#704: Fearing your prayer request isn't big enough.

#645: The guy who refuses to scoot to the end of the pew.

Today's post was actually by a guest, Lyndsay Rush. And it is entitled:

#751: Having your life edited by your parents.

(I’ve never met Lyndsay Rush, but I have to confess I am a big fan of her motto, “No cheese left behind.” As a fan of queso, that is a motto I can get on board with. I can also get on board with her tale of having her life edited by her parents, something I’ve said my in-laws were pros at. I hope you dig it. I did.)

I’d like to start this post with a simple, three question test. Please answer honestly.

1. Have you ever been forced to walk out of a movie because your mom thought there were hints of sorcery?

2. Have you ever called your parents from a sleepover to ask permission to play “Girl Talk”?

3. Have you ever listened to Psalty the Singing Songbook on your walkman?

If you answered yes to any of the 3 questions, congratulations, you have had your life edited by your parents. And unfortunately, my childhood is the perfect example of that.

Whether our parents were scolding us for saying that something “sucked,” forcing us to spend copious amounts of time serving Meals on Wheels or telling us to “write a play” or “climb a tree” when we asked to watch TV, not a stone remained unturned when it came to ensuring our lifestyle lined up with biblical standards. (How exactly My Little Pony conflicted with the Bible, I am still not sure).

When it came to all things media-related, our parents tended to go bat-shucks crazy (note my use of parentally approved slang). Television, music and movies were seen as the #1 threat to our holy castle. I recall distinctly our family rule of parent-screenings for any show we wanted to watch. In a ceremony that rivaled that of the presidential inauguration, Mom and Dad would take their seats in front of the television at the appropriate time, turn to the appropriate channel, and take notes while we looked on in dismay, our heads ping-ponging back and forth between Blossom/90201/My So Called Life/The Smurfs/Dinosaurs/Dawson’s Creek and our parent’s beady eyes as they took in every detail and noted its varying levels of inappropriateness. For those of you keeping score at home we lost out on all of the above. It didn’t help that the night of our 90210 screening Donna lost her virginity or that when we screened Dinosaurs, Mom talked for weeks about how disrespectful those dinosaur kids were to their dinosaur parents.

Nary a movie, song or TV show was safe in the Rush household. ‘Twas a dangerous place to be if you were Pee Wee Herman, “Grease” or any secular music not found on the Oldies or Lite radio station.

Our reaction usually started out with obedience–reluctant obedience, yes–but obedience nonetheless. Sure there was your typical “This is SO unfair!” followed promptly by a “You guys are the WORST” and a slamming of a bedroom door. But when we were younger, we didn’t really see the fruits of putting up a fight so we just went with it. Later in life, to our parent’s dismay, there were accidental moments of rebellion. For instance, when I was 11 I yelled “Holy Testicle Tuesday!” at a family BBQ because our dubbed version of “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” didn’t bleep out the word ‘testicle’. (It took me another 6 years thereafter to discover that ‘testicle’ was not, in fact a curse word.) A few years later, we got investigated by AOL because I had inadvertently created a screen name that was slang for an illegal street drug. Finally, as we became teenagers, we entered into the full-blown, “oh no you didn’t”, straight up, dirty-south rebellion years. At this point in my life I was fed up with the strong arm of the Old Testament law constantly hammering down on my life so I responded like any good Christian girl would: by dancing.

That’s right, I danced. My friends and I would go to 16 + dance clubs in downtown Minneapolis under the rouse that we were bowling. Yes, I realize this is the worst cover we could have come up with, but it worked. We would stuff our purses with a change of clothes–black pants and sparkle-y tube tops–and change in the car. When my dad found out what was really going on I don’t know what he was more upset with, the fact that I had been lying or the fact that I wasn’t actually interested in bowling.

I believe this provides a brief but potent glimpse into a parentally-edited, culturally-censored, Biblically-biased childhood. You know what they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, or as my Christian parents would say, ‘what doesn’t kill your flesh (without affecting your soul, which will dwell in eternity in heaven with Jesus), makes you more like Sampson’.

(For more great stuff from Lyndsay, check out her site,

I loved this post because some of it was a commentary of my own life, but, I was waiting for the conclusion. I wanted to say, "So?" Was all the editing good or bad? Are you permanently scarred or happy that you weren't exposed to premarital sex and violent video games when you were 7 years old? Many of the comments after the post answer those questions and you can read them here. Some former "editors" even commented. Did you know there are people who were never allowed to watch Sesame Street because of The Count? Wow!

Personally, looking back I think some of the editing my parents did was pretty ridiculous and some of it was necessary. I didn't need to be going to R rated movies (especially back then when R meant lots of horrible language and plenty of sexual content) or watching 90210 (not that I ever remember wanting to anyway). On the other hand getting in trouble for humming the tune to a beer commercial does seem a little overboard. Even though others in our church and family disagreed with it we were allowed to play card games and swim in our pool (but not the public pool) with the opposite sex. We watched Smurfs and He-Man (I know, shocker) and all kinds of other shows about magic, etc, like The Wizard of Oz and I can't see that it hurt any of us at all. As a matter of fact the things we didn't watch/listen to/participate in didn't hurt us any either.

I don't feel like I missed out on any of the great pop-culture of my day. So what if the only concert I've ever been to was The Beach Boys (in 1995) and I have no idea "Who shot J.R."? I never got to wear short shorts or tank tops either, but I think I still have an ok sense of fashion. At least I did get to go to Prom...mostly because I wore a humongous hoop skirted dress (everybody did, I wasn't that lame) that wouldn't allow the boys within a 3 foot radius of me and we did not have any "popular" music. We had a live orchestra that played big band music. Post prom had the vulgar dancing and rock music. Yeah, I didn't get to go to Post Prom. Having a 10:30 curfew as a senior in high school was frustrating, but once again, I'm no worse off for it.

I never felt the need to rebel from these exacting standards. Granted, my parents weren't the My Little Pony nazis that some people I knew were, but they still seemed to arbitrarily decided what was inappropriate (like Petra) without ever investigating it themselves. Through it all I understood that my parents loved me and wanted to protect me. I never thought they were out to get me and spoil all of my fun, but I did resent the fact that they didn't trust me.

So, what about you? What kind of restrictions did you have growing up? Did you resent them? Do you find that they have affected your adult life for the better or worse? How much do you edit your kids?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Everybody Loves Hugo

LOST April 14 Episode...........

For some reason I can't blog about LOST anymore. I think I've come to a point with the show where it just isn't worth it to speculate anymore. I just want to sit and watch and wait for the explanations to fall into my lap...which I know they won't. I don't have the brainpower left after birthing three children to deal with sideways realities and demons and angels and dead people and dynamite logically anymore (if I ever could).

I still enjoy reading what other, more intelligent and witty, people have to say about each episode though. Here are a couple of great quotes from one of the best LOST recappers on the blog circuit, Rocks in My Dryer:

" is most likely to experience awareness of the sideways reality if one is a) a junkie, a la Charlie, b) near death, a la Desmond, or c) stark raving nuts, a la Libby. This leads me to wonder if some of our other Losties are far too rational and sane (a la Jack) to ever be made aware of the concurrent reality...."


"Also notable in this episode was the appearance of the strange boy in the woods. In a colossal lack of curiosity which is epidemic among characters in this show, Desmond doesn't follow him, despite my shouted instructions to the contrary. For the record, I predict that this strange boy is a grown-up Aaron, a hunch I base entirely on the fact that the actor seems to look like Claire, and perhaps this is by design. (Any other good guesses out there?)"

"Colossal lack of curiosity which is epidemic among characters in this show": NO KIDDING! Maybe they are like me. The just can't care anymore about who every ghost is or where Richard is leading them or who the smoke monster really is/was or why Jack continues to part his hair on the side like a kid out of the 1950s?

I think that may be why Desmond is so blase about everything now. He knows (from flashing forward, back and sideways through various versions of his life) that no matter what he will end up with Penny, the only outcome he ultimately cares about.

Anyway, as always I'm excited to watch each episode and read the theories they produce, but I just can't seem to come up with any of them myself.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Whole Wheat Apple Walnut Bread

As soon as I found this recipe over at Joy the Baker I had to find an excuse to make it. Lucky for me, I hosted my book club last night, which gave me the perfect opportunity to make this delicious bread but not eat the entire loaf myself.

The bread is super moist and sweet with just a little crunch. It has lots of healthy Omega-3s in it from both flax seed and walnuts. It does still contain some butter and brown sugar, but it's now the fatty bread I've ever made...not by a long shot.

Without further ado, Whole Wheat Apple Walnut Bread

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
generous pinch freshly ground nutmeg
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup grated apples
1/2 cup coarsely chopped apples
1 tablespoon flax seeds
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, divided
cinnamon and sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9×5x3-inch loaf pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg.

In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, melted butter and vanilla extract.

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Add the grated apples, chopped apples flax seeds and half of the chopped walnuts. Fold to incorporate thoroughly.

Spoon batter into prepared pan and top with granulated sugar, cinnamon and the rest of the walnuts.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes then invert onto a cooling rack to cool before wrapping.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Manic Monday

Friday, April 9, 2010


This is my 601st post! Can you believe it?

Today I give you two pictures or springtime in Illinois.

I have great memories of climbing around in my grandma's magnolia tree all year long, (and sword fighting with the seed pods from the catalpa tree next to it) but I especially loved it in the spring when it was blooming. No one lives at my grandparent's house anymore but I still had to drive by this weekend and see the tree. It didn't disappoint.

Grandma's Magnolia Tree
Since I've always loved this tree I thought I should plant my own. I did....two years ago. The great thing about magnolia trees is they bloom even before they become mature trees. A little stick of a tree will still get a beautiful flower on it.

My Magnolia Tree
Yeah, not too impressive, but check back in 50 years and it'll look just like Grandma's....I hope. And just to prove that I can grow something beautiful....
OK, who are we kidding? We all know it's all Brian, right? I have nothing to do with anything growing in our yard, I confess.

Wish I could disown the horrible photography too, but alas it's all mine. :(

Thursday, April 8, 2010

It Just Doesn't Make "Census"

Has everyone filled out their census forms and returned them? Have you? Have you?

No, I'm not being paid by the Census Bureau to make this public service announcement, but I wouldn't mind dipping in to a little of that cash cow. Have you noticed how much they have spent on advertising alone?! It's unbelievable.

First there were the ads during the SuperBowl. These humorous ads featured, if not A list stars, at least recognizable faces planning a way to contact and count every person in America. Then there were the more serious, boring ads asking questions like "How will we know where to build new hospitals or where to put new roads if we don't know how many people live there?"

Next I started noticing big banners on all of the courthouses in various counties around here. Then the banners started appearing in other places around town. When I dropped my kids off at school there was a poster on the door encouraging me to take 10 minutes to answer 10 questions that would help us for the next 10 years. The doctor's office, grocery store and movie theatre displayed the same flyers.

Next began the mailing campaign. I got a letter in the mail reminding me that my census form would be coming soon and that I should fill it out and send it back in. Well, duh! Finally I got the long awaited, much talked-about census form and I sat down to fill it out. Since they promised it would only take me 10 minutes to fill out the 10 questions I decided to time myself.

It took me 4 minutes and 9 seconds to fill out the entire form. It was way more than 10 questions because after the initial ten I then had to fill out the information for the 4 other members of my household, but still, it wasn't difficult or time consuming or even aggravating. I didn't need a special pen or even a stamp. I stuffed it in the provided envelope, licked it and threw it back in to the mailbox. So simple.

So why are people not filling them out? Why do we have to spend millions of dollars on advertising to convince people that they really need to do this? And the biggest question of all...

Why doesn't the Census Bureau just get all of this information off of our income tax forms?

I don't get it. I guess communication between government agencies is more than we can ever hope for. So please, just fill out the blasted form and send it back in so that in 2020 they won't have to waste a gazillion dollars convincing us to do it again.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Happily Ever After

Thoughts while I watched:

You'd think a guy like Whidmore could get better help than this Zoe chick. She seems completely incompetent.

Now I know the world is turned upside down. Whidmore and Desmond are buddies!!

And....Charlie and Desmond are together again. Yay!

Maybe not. Whoa! Didn't see that car crash coming. Too weird.

I really wish Charlie had some hair.

Mrs. Whidmore is.....Eloise, of course. (Guessed that one.) And she's still just as mysterious as always.

Kinda figured Daniel was Whidmore's son too. Still love him as much as ever.

Desmond meets Penny on the stairs where he met Jack. Cool!

So now Desmond thinks he's there to undo what Daniel did when he set off the bomb?

Is Desmond's nose going to start bleeding again now?

Oh no, now Desmonds going to "show" everyone why they aren't living their real lives? How many times do these poor people have to be harassed into going back to this island?

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Buttermilk Bread

For our Easter dinner yesterday I contributed devilled eggs (of course) and this homemade bread. It was a new recipe that I found at Confections of a Foodie Bride. She claimed that it was the best wheat sandwich bread around. A little sweet and very soft, not dense. She was right.

We all thought the bread was super delicous. The only problem was that the recipe makes a huge amount of dough. So much that it completely overflowed the loaf pan and hung over the sides in big flaps of dough that ended up burning to a crisp. But, after we cut the flaps off the rest of the bread was wonderful. If I make this bread again I will divide the dough in to two smaller loaf pans instead of shoving all in to one big pan as suggested in the directions.

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Buttermilk Bread

1 1/2 cups rolled oats

1 cup boiling water

1/4 cup water

2 tsp + 2 Tbsp agave (divided)

2 tsp yeast

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (extra light)

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp salt

Set aside 1/4 cup rolled oats. Place the remaining oats into a medium bowl. Cover with boiling water. Mix with spoon and let sit uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Whisk 1 tsp agave with 1/4 cup of warm water in the bowl of your stand mixer and sprinkle yeast on top. Let rest for 5 minutes. Add soaked oats, buttermilk, oil, 2 Tbsp agave, both flours, and salt. With hook attachment, mix on low speed to combine, then increase speed to medium and mix for about 10 minutes. Dough will be wet and cling to hook, but have a satiny finish.

Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Proof in a warm area for 1 hour, the dough will almost double in size.

Place dough onto a floured surface and flatten it with your hands, releasing excess air bubbles. Form dough into a 12 x 6-inch rectangle and position it so that a long side is facing you. Fold the 2 short ends onto the top so they meet in the middle. Starting with the closest end, roll dough away from you into a log. Let loaf rest on its seam for a few minutes.

Transfer loaf to an oiled 10-inch loaf pan, pressing dough into the corners. Mix remaining agave with 1/2 tsp very hot water. Brush over the top of the loaf and sprinkle with the remaining oats. Let sit for 35-45 minutes, until loaf rises just over the top of the pan.

While loaf is proofing, preheat oven to 385. Bake for 1 hour and allow to cool completely before cutting.

This post is linked to Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays and Tuesdays at the Table.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Happy Easter

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter yesterday and enjoyed a nice time with family and friends. For all of you that didn't get an Easter card in the mail from me this weekend (and I only sent out about 15 so there are a lot of you) here is your belated Easter greeting........

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Down on the Farm

Well, we've officially lost our minds. We've invested in livestock. We've started "farming".

For a couple of years now Brian and Ryker have wanted to try raising chickens. We've always decided against it for one reason or another (no good pen, the dog will eat them, too much work, we have no idea how to raise chickens, etc.) but this time I guess the temptation was just too strong.

The kids were all gone for the weekend when Brian and I went in to the local farm store. We saw all those cute little baby chicks and decided it would be the best surprise ever for the kids if they came home and found the little guys all snuggled up in our garage. We finally decided to bite the bullet and buy them when we saw the price, 5o cents. We got seven. So even if we accidentally kill them all off in the first week we'd only be out $3.5o. Why not?

We were right. The kids were thrilled and really surprised. They absolutely love them and they actually argue over who gets to feed them and clean their box and give them their water. We've enjoyed watching them grow over the last week and we are eagerly awaiting our first batch of fresh eggs, due to be layed sometime in August or September.

So far they all seem healthy and happy. They are all eating and drinking and pooping as they should be. We might just keep them all alive after all. And the dog? Well, he could care less that they are around. He doesn't even give them a second glance. Of course they are living in a box right now, that might change when they are running around outside all day. He is a border collie after all, so I'm not sure how long he'll be able to repress is chasing instinct. That remains to be seen.

So, I would like to introduce you to the newest addition to our family. The chicks.....