Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Recipe Tuesday: Banana Bread or Muffins!

When I was younger, my mother made the best banana chocolate chip muffins. So when I moved out, I looked up a recipe and made it.. and they were horrible. So I called my mom paniced, wondering what she'd done to make these wonderful muffins. 

She gave me this "Tsk, Tsk" noise and said "Tasha, use the banana bread recipe and put it in muffin tins." 

Which I immediately did, and came out with perfect muffins. That's what I get for not asking my mom before I made the other batch. 

So here's my moms awesome banana bread recipe. <3 

Banana Bread

½ C margarine
1 C white sugar

Mix well. 

2 eggs
½ C mashed bananas
1 tsp lemon juice
2 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 C choc. Chips or walnuts - optional.

Grease pan. 
Makes 1 loaf if bread, or about 12 muffins. 
375 for 1 hour.

They're honestly perfect. <3

- Natasha

Monday, 24 September 2012

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Biblical Womanhood Sunday: Servanthood

Tonight in church, the topic was servanthood, and more specifically, the attitude of a servant. 

So this of course got me thinking of the women who exemplified a proper servants attitude in my life. 

One woman in my life has been very influential in the past year. The attitudes I have observed in her have in many ways shaped my own attitudes. She has just by being the example of Godly servanthood she is, convicted me enough to change my own attitudes. 

This woman let me live in her house for a month in between school and marriage. And in that month, and in the time since, I have learned a great deal about being a Godly woman from her. 

We'll call this woman Kate. 

Kate home schools her kids, all five of them, and does a fantastic job of it. She serves in the church in multiple areas, and never complains about it. When you ask the women of the church who is their best friend, the person they can turn to when they need to talk, need help, need anything really... they say Kate. Kate is always the woman who stays afterwards to clean up, comes early to help set up, and is always finding a way to help in the meantime. 

When you comment on this to Kate... she tells you you're being silly and that she's not that great at all. 

But her quiet, humble, service has truly stood out to me and struck a chord in my heart. She is always willing to give of herself, whether that's her time, her things, her shoulder, or her ear. 

This same attitude she wears seemingly without effort, is striking, and well worth emulating. 

Thank You Kate for being a Godly woman who convicts me to be a Godly woman in return. 


Saturday, 22 September 2012

SAHM Saturday: Loving your Kids.

Lately I have been struggling a lot with being Sam's step mom. I suddenly have a lot more respect for those fairy tale step moms who fall and mess it up, because it is so easy. 

Because it's not always moments like these: 

Sometimes we definitely have moments like these: 

I find that sometimes I have a very bad attitude when dealing with Sam. Usually this happens when he's tired and argumentative, and I'm tired and cranky.  Which with being 7 months pregnant and him just starting school... happens a lot these days. 

Suddenly all those things that drive me crazy... he seems to do all that much more, and I respond worse and worse to them happening. I get snappy and vindictive, and he pushes more because he's hurt by me being so snappy. 

It's a truly vicious cycle. 

Now, this does not make Sam right. Children are supposed to obey their parents. 

'Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.'
Ephesians 1:6

But parents are supposed to treat their children with love and not entice them to wrath. 

'And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord' 
Ephesians 6:4 

'Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged' 
Colossians 3:21

I have been reflecting this past day about what that means. Don't entice your children to wrath. When I was a kid, I thought this meant my parents could never tell me no. Because it would make me angry. But that's not what this verse means at all. 

It means something much more important, and something much harder than simply giving in to your child's every demand. 

It means learning to keep a proper attitude, even your child is driving you crazy. It means getting to know your child intimately, knowing their hopes and dreams and fears. It means knowing their interests, and making them your interests too, just to spend time with them. It means loving them even you really don't want to. It means knowing when saying no is the right thing to do, and when it's just you being vindictive. It's knowing when to discipline them, and how to do it lovingly and without anger. It's being sensitive to their opinions and feelings when making decisions that impact them. It's treating them with respect as fellow human beings. 

And most of all, it's guiding them towards Christ with your attitude and conduct. Because you, more than anyone else in that childs life, influence them. They watch you, more closely than you can imagine. 

For all those parents out there who struggle with attitude, pray about it! God promises to give the grace for any situation, that includes raising and dealing with your children. I know I certainly will be praying for abundant grace in the next.. oh say... 15 years. :)

PS: Kudos to my husband who pointed this out to me and started this train of thought.


Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Recipe Tuesday: Beef Stew!

Hearty Beef Stew

Caleb hates soups, and this is a favourite of his, as it's packed full of veggies and pretty much everything but broth. 

2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1 inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced (or 1 teaspoon pre-minced)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1 cube beef boullion
5 medium potatoes, diced into 1 inch cubes
3 carrots, sliced or 1/2 lbs mini carrots chopped in half 
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 cup frozen peas
1 can finely diced tomatoes - Optional

I found when I first started looking that many recipes told me to brown the meat before I cooked this in my slow cooker or on my stove. I found this makes the meat tough and hard to process for Sam's little teeth. Instead, I leave the beef as is, dump this all in my slow cooker or in a couple big pots, stir it around some, then cook. Note: You may need more broth, use enough to at least cover your veggies. You can always add more or thicken it later. :)

In a slow cooker, low for 8 hours, or high for about 3. 
On a stove, low for 6, high for 3.

Stir often.

To thicken the gravy after the veggies have cooked, make a slurry using 1 part flour, 2 parts water, and slowly stir into your stew, until it's a consistency you like. 

Please note: Cook times totally depend on your slow cooker and stove. BUT this recipe never suffers from a little longer on the stove on low or a quick microwave, so it's always better to start earlier. I learned this the hard way. 

This is a family favourite, and with such a big batch we always have leftovers for a good long time. This works great for freezing as well, just remember not to thicken your broth until after you freeze and defrost it.

- Natasha

Monday, 17 September 2012


Marriage was the single biggest, and hardest, undertaking I have ever taken on in my life. It was even more so because as I married Josh, I gained Sam as well, making me a wife and mom in one fell swoop. 

Josh and I had talked about marriage for a couple of months before he actually popped the question. Actually, we talked about marriage on our first date, believe it or not. We were both looking for marriage, and honestly, I think it's the only way that we got to where we did in our relationship. There was no wondering about what either one of us wanted. There was just open honesty about our life goals, plans, and hopes. 

We started dating on Sept 21, 2011... I bought my wedding dress Dec 23, 2011, and he proposed January 5, 2012, in the airport after I got off the plane. 

We were married on May 19, 2012. We hadn't even been dating a year. 

So many people thought we were nuts. But Josh and I had known each other for nearly two years before we considered dating. We already knew each other very well. When we started dating, it was to see if we were compatible as a couple, we already knew we were compatible as people.

Adjusting to married life has been a very hard thing for me. I not only got married, but I left behind my home province, my immediate family, moved into my first home with my husband, and became a mom. 

Talk about difficult. 

I understand now why people say the first year of marriage is the hardest. It's totally different being married to someone as opposed to dating them. I know, duh right? But no, this is truly one of those things where you think "It can't be that bad right? The same thing I've always done.. just with someone else too. No biggie." 

Huge biggie. 

Marriage takes all your faults... and magnifies them. A thousand fold. All my stupid little quirks that I don't even notice... drove Josh nuts, and his certainly drove me crazy. 

Learning to talk things out, not just shut up about them was a hard one for me. My family had always dealt with conflict by letting things build up... then yelling and screaming and hurting each other way more than needed rather than talking it out like rational human beings. Turns out that doesn't work so well when your husband simply shuts down when you yell. 

For Josh, learning my limitations was hard. Being patient as I learned to take on all the responsibilities and demands of being a homemaker was hard for him, probably more than I know.

For both of us, it was hard to learn to sleep in the same bed with the other one. You don't think of such things when you say yes... but man, is it HARD to learn to sleep with someone else. Every little strange thing they do wakes you up. 

We both needed to learn how to love the other one in a way they understood. 

And we both needed to learn to take those couple minutes to just... talk. Even if it felt like there was nothing to talk about. Because without those couple minutes of connection, you can feel very alone even if you're living and sleeping with someone else. 

It's a long process... and so totally worth it. I love Josh more today than I ever thought possible, stupid little quirks and all. 

God truly blessed me when I married this amazing man. 
- Natasha

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Occupying your kids: Beyond TV and Wii

Lately I have been personally convicted about how much Sam (That's him up there ^) uses his toys. He has a whole playroom full of cars, train sets, coloring books, various space guns and action figures... PLUS his bedroom full of playdoh, coloring stuff, smaller toys, and board games.

Which almost never get touched. 

Every time we go through his toys, we find toys he's forgotten he even had because he so rarely plays with them. 

Now, I understand that this is just as much, if not more my fault than his. Lately I have been very willing to let him sit down in front of the TV and watch power rangers, or play the Wii, simply because I know he likes it. In the meantime, his little brain is being sucked into TV world and his many toys meant to build creativity and independence are left forgotten. 

I have made it my personal goal to get him away from the TV more.

Right at this moment, Sam is upstairs playing with Play Doh. I can hear him all the way down here. He's singing to himself when he's not having an all out war with his play doh over the shape it will be in. This makes me smile, because he's singing his Johnny phonics songs from school, which is fantastic, because he's been struggling with letter sounds and reading. 

This would not be happening if an hour ago, when Sam woke up, I had not said, "No, you may not play Wii or watch TV this morning." And had not every fifteen minutes from then said "No, you have a thousand things to play with in the house, and it's a nice day out if you want to play outside or at the park. You don't need TV or Wii." 

He's since given up asking, and I feel a sense of accomplishment that I didn't budge. Now, granted, it's only one day. But this proves to me, this one day, that it's possible to keep him occupied not using the TV or Wii and not drive me crazy. Which means it will be possible in days to come to do the same.

Horray for small victories, 

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Learning to balance

When you first take that step from living on your own, in one or two rooms, to living in a house, and in fact running that house, it's a bit of a shock.

Suddenly you have to balance cleaning, cooking, finances, grocery shopping, possibly children, and keep your relationship functional.

In my case this was possibly the hardest part of my transition from being a single student to being a married stay at home wife and mother.

It was a steep learning curve, and I'm still on it, to learn how to balance keeping a house maintained. I tell you in all honesty, I thought it would be easy. Dishes, clean up, cooking, laundry... how hard could it be? People do it all the time.


Very hard.

I went from living in a single room to living in a three story two bedroom town house. I went from having one persons laundry to do... to three, going on four(Elsie's clothes are already pouring into the house). I went from a plate now and then... to having a full load of dishes, twice a day sometimes. I went from eating out when I wanted... to making nearly every meal at home with my own two hands. I went from cleaning one room, to cleaning 6 plus hall ways and closets. And I quickly learned that the whole "Do one room a day" thing?

Complete myth.

One room a day means that the one room you cleaned yesterday stays kind of clean for the next day... then gets dirty again the day after... which means at most in your house you have 2 clean rooms at a time. And it turns out... that sucks to live in.

So here's to learning to balance a home, and that steep learning curve that comes with that first year of stepping out into the real world.

- Natasha

Friday, 7 September 2012

Home Making: A Lost Art?

I'll be the first to admit, I miss the days when instead of being looked on with disdain by all but other house wives... home makers were respected. When it wasn't a bad thing for a young girl to say "I want to stay at home, raise my kids, take care of my house, and love my husband, as I honestly believe God intended me to do."

Now, before that sends half of you off into the stratosphere, let me explain.

Yes, I honestly believe that God intended women to be keeper at home. So many references in the Bible talk about women at home.

Take for example:

Titus 2: 3-5

The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

Emphasis was mine.

Women are fully capable of having flourishing careers in a huge number of areas. But I honestly think that the family unit, and the woman herself, most benefit from having the woman at home. Now, I understand sometimes this isn't possible, for financial or health reasons. But I will also qualify that by saying, that maybe if you can't stay at home... consider cutting back your life style. It's well worth it.


I miss the days when you didn't have to defend that belief. I miss the days when it was... almost expected. I miss the days when a little girl learned to take care of a home and raise children while holding onto her mother's skirt.

I miss the days when the home was not viewed as a cage, but a woman's fortress. Her area where she ruled with a quiet certainty of what needed to be done, and no one knew the workings of it as well as she did, where her husband and children could depend on her to keep it, and with it, them, in good working order.

I honestly think that the art of homemaking... is a dying one. In the right circles you see it making a comeback, but more and more, you see young women turning to careers and putting off families all together to pursue other areas of their lives. And, if... if a young woman dares say she wants to stay at home and raise a family, she's branded a destroyer of women's rights, and is proverbially stoned to death by an onslaught of propaganda from all sides.

She is told that somehow this choice of hers undermines her value as a woman, and that she is wasting her life by frittering it away in the kitchen. That one day she will regret her decision, and that nothing she could do there will be as fulfilling as leaving the home and finding her fulfillment in a career. Not only that but she is told that she demeans woman kind as a whole by making this choice, and that this choice is contributing to a chauvinistic, paternal society where she is no better than a doormat.

What a load of bull-puckey.

A woman's choice is her choice. The fact that she has the choice to stay home is a woman's right. There is no way on earth that somehow her choice to stay home demeans her or anyone else. Staying at home and raising her children, she is a beneficially, working part of society. She is a laundress, maid, babysitter, teacher, chef, expert negotiator, and chauffeur. She works every minute of every day, as hard as she can, often without thanks or acknowledgement from those who benefit most from her labours. At the end of the day, she has created a loving, warm, happy environment that her family can call home. She has raised children who, God willing, are well adjusted, polite, hardworking, human beings who also contribute to society.

How is this any less important than having a career as a business woman? A therapist, a physical trainer, an engineer? Why are these skills held up in high regard when the skills that it takes to make a safe and happy home are devalued?

I honestly don't know, but I plan to teach my daughters the art of home making.

I want to teach them how to care for a home, how to raise children, how to provide food for her family, both in cooking and preserving, how to create an atmosphere of love in everything she does, and most of all, how to honor God with every word from her lips and every move she makes.

Now, please note: My sons will learn to. :P They won't really have much of a choice. But I will teach them what the Bible has to say about male and female roles, and I will teach them that neither role is in any way lower than the other, but rather that they are equal, but different in kind. Because this is true. And I strive always to teach my children the truth.

Still thinking,

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Making Your Own Recipes - Beyond the Index Card

Whose mother didn't have one of those old school index card holders packed full of stained and ripped cards, magazine clip outs, and little pieces of lined paper jammed into every corner? Mine certainly did, and every mom on my block did. You all know the one I'm talking about. The one you pulled down from the top shelf, with the very worn and chocolatey cookie recipe card inside.

When I first started to cook, the idea of deviating from the instructions on those little cards... was a nightmare. A teaspoon to much flour, and I convinced my cookies would be ruined forever. That stew had to have exactly one teaspoon of pepper and no more or it would not be perfect.

Oh how we grow.

Over the last little bit, I have learned to just... go beyond the index card.

My latest experience with this was this recipe:

6 pork chops, 3/4 to 1-inch thick
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 cup vinegar
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon brown sugar or honey
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
dash cayenne, optional

350 for one hour.

First of all, it's a great recipe. I was so tired of shake and bake, you wouldn't believe how much we needed something new. So I go to google and find this recipe. Well, I had to half it first off, because there's three of us, thus, three pork chops. I refuse to make six just because the recipe tells me to. 

I took out the pepper, since Josh and I have both had CRAAZY heart burn lately, and are just not in the mood for even a little spice... and the salt, because there is plenty of that in ketchup, and I'm preggors, and supposed to be watching my salt intake. And that cayenne is not going to make any sort of appearance. 


So now we have taken away a good portion of the ingredients... then I grabbed a bowl I thought looked like a good size, threw some water in it... then dumped a lot of worcestershire sauce, since I think it's delicious, dumped some vinegar in, did a big squirt of ketchup, and a tablespoon of brown sugar. Mixed it up, and dumped it over my pork chops, then put a thinly sliced sweet onion in with it and mixed it up again... and baked it. 

It was possibly the most delicious thing I've ever tasted. It made the whole house smell delicious. 

But how do you put that down to where it makes sense to anyone in a recipe? A dash of this, a squirt of that, don't forget to taste it along the way? I guess it's just one of those things that you have to learn yourself, when to measure and stick with that recipe, and when to ditch it and find your own recipe. Call it a right of passage for budding cooks everywhere. 

Hoping you learn to love the freestyle, 

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Being Pregnant... Sucks... and Is the Greatest Thing Ever... All in One.

So I'm 24 weeks pregnant today, and you wanna know something? It sucks. People say being pregnant is the most wonderful thing a woman could ever experience. And they may even be right. But what people forget to tell you along the way is that being pregnant isn't all cute adorable little kicks and smiles at a moving tummy.

Pregnancy sucks.

Pregnancy is aching backs, and morning sickness that is not confined to the morning, and aching stomach muscles because that little baby is pushing as hard as they can against them. It's having cravings for food, and always being hungry, but never wanting to eat. It's insomnia and heart burn and not being able to walk like a normal person. It's crying over stupid things, and getting to fat for all your clothes, and getting the worst acne you've had since you were 13. It's being exhausted all the time, and the most rank morning breath you'll ever have, no matter how often you brush your teeth. It's peeing a little whenever you laugh, and desperately having to pee every two minutes... only to go to the bathroom and pee about a tablespoon worth of urine. It's hemorrhoids and being constipated for four days at a time. It's taking four pills a night just so you get the right amount of nutrients to support the budding life inside you. It's your feet and ankles swelling so much you can't fit them in your cute shoes anymore.

Pregnancy sucks.


Pregnancy is also pretty freaking awesome too.

Pregnancy is feeling those first little flutters of movement and stopping for fifteen minutes and staring at your stomach, hoping it happens again, because it was the coolest stinking thing you've ever felt. It's having an excuse to eat an extra plate at dinner... and your doctor and family don't judge you. It's getting to get a whole new wardrobe to fit your expanding body. It's people petting your stomach, and letting you butt them in the bathroom line. It's watching your husbands face light up as he sees or feels those kicks you've been feeling for awhile. It's having your other kids ask you every two minutes if the baby is awake because they're so excited to get to know that baby they want to feel every little movement they can. It's overwhelming love you didn't know was possible for that little bean inside you. It's singing and feeling that baby kick on the beat, and    poking your stomach and feeling them poke back.

Yeah, it's pretty awesome.

Well worth it. 


Saturday, 1 September 2012

First Time Canning! ... Without my mom.

Canning is a beautiful thing. It's a way of taking fresh fruit and vegetables, and making sure they get to your families plates instead of overly processed and preservative filled foods found on grocery store shelves. Never mind that it just plain old tastes better, as pretty much everything homemade does. 

If you can't tell, I love canning. I grew up canning. My mom canned, my grandmothers canned, my aunts all can... so it only seemed natural that I would start to can when I had the chance to.

Two problems: This was my first time doing it without my mom, and she is 3000 kilometers away in Regina, SK. ... And problem two? I'm doing it with a friend, one who has never canned before, so now I'm teaching her and struggling without my mom. Fun. 

It was terrifying.

It was 7 hours of hot, tedious work. And 20 litres of tomatoes later we were done, exhausted, and sweaty. 

So worth every moment. 

Nothing is quite as fulfilling as seeing jars of food you prepared and put away for your family with your own two hands. 

My husband, Joshua, is really excited. And my six year old... not so much, but that's okay, because it's delicious food with no preservatives that's getting put on his plate, instead of store bought and filled with preservatives and other gross things. 

10 of these are mine. Aren't they beautiful? 

Have a great day! 

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