Baking and a Baby

Jeremiah is definitely growing and thriving these days. He’s asserting his personality (and will!) all over the place and some days are easier than others around here. For instance, yesterday I took him to get his hair cut and let’s just say it did not go well. He was a slobbery mess before the (very kind) lady even got close to him with the scissors. It was so bad that a second hair dresser came up to us and tried to help- she finally asked us to come back later that day after he had calmed down so they could finish. We did not go back. So, after paying for the hair cut and tipping very well, I have a child that will be wearing a hat for the foreseeable future. Sigh.

(The photo you see below is before the hair cutting fiasco. The next time you see him, he might have a buzz cut.)

There are days where I desperately need to distract Jeremiah, or else neither of us will make it to nap time. Earlier this week, I decided to make some cookies while also trying to capture some fun moments with him. He lasted about 3.5 minutes, but that’s pretty good for him. I used this recipe (although I did not add the wheat germ… Michael would have a BIG problem with me if I put something that healthy in his oatmeal raisin cookies.) I also made half of them oatmeal raisin and half oatmeal chocolate because we are a household divided over our oatmeal cookies.

I found it very fun to measure out everything ahead of time for the purpose of taking photos. I never do this in real life… I’m a very distracted baker normally, but I might actually prefer this new method. I got all the ingredients out of the cabinets in the beginning, measured everything into bowls, and rechecked the recipe before I did any mixing.

Jeremiah, as you might expect, was a big fan of the Kitchen Aid mixer. He particularly enjoyed trying to “catch” the paddle as it went round and round.

Now, this is the part where I am pretty proud of myself. {Although this is not my idea… I saw it on Pintrest, of course.}

The recipe called for 2 sticks of butter, which in my mind, means that it’s going to make way too many cookies for just me and Michael. (Jeremiah won’t eat cookies… he’s strange.) In the past, when I’ve tried adjusting recipes to make smaller quantities, they don’t always work out well. And even though I’m pretty sure I’m doing the math right, there’s something about changing the amount of eggs or trying to use half a stick of butter that just doesn’t work well. So, I decided to make a full recipe and freeze the rest in ice cube trays! Clever, right?!?

I made a full batch of dough, but only baked 12 cookies. Then, I portioned the rest into ice cube trays (I used a small ice cream scoop so the cookies are all the same size.) I popped the trays in the freezer, left them overnight, then put the dough balls in Ziploc bags.

Now, I can just grab a few pieces and bake them when we want some cookies. I’m really excited about this because we love having folks over for dinner, but making dinner and dessert is often too much for me. So now I can just grab them out of the freezer, let them thaw for a bit, and bake as normal. Whee!

I experimented a bit with the amount of time to let them thaw. The first time I left them out until they were completely thawed which took around an hour and a half. Then I baked according to the original recipe. These turned out fine, but I wondered if I could do it quicker. The next time I left them out for about 30 minutes before putting them in the oven. They were still a little frozen, but they did great! I still baked them according to the directions and they were perfect.

It’s nice when things work out like you think they will. That rarely happens around here, so when it does, we celebrate. With cookies.

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Spring is coming

Spring is coming.

And I’m not just talking about the beautiful months of April and May that await us. I’m talking about that time when winter will be forever gone and the true Spring will dawn. The time when sin and sickness will reign no more, and our bodies and minds will be renewed. The time when misunderstandings will cease to exist and only Truth will remain.

Spring is coming.

And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”
Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”
And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”
And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

(Revelation 5:8-14 ESV)

 

Flag Banner {Tutorial}

I have fallen in love with all the flag banners (also called bunting) that I’ve been seeing around the web. I’m sure that I am fairly tardy as I hop up onto this bandwagon, but that is pretty typical for me. No one has ever accused me of being a trend setter.

I made the above banner for a baby shower a few weeks ago, and then decided that I wanted to make one to hang in the play room. There is quite a bit of open wall space in that room that is just crying out to be adorned with colorful triangles.

As I was making this banner, I tried to take some photos along the way so I could share my method. This project took me around an hour, but I was also messing with my camera for part of that time.

Materials you will need:

1) Fabric (I used scraps that I already had, but if you’re buying fabric I would get around 1/4-1/3 of a yard of each print) 2) Rotary cutter, mat, and ruler 3) Double-fold Bias Tape (4 yards) 4) Sewing machine and thread

Start by ironing your fabric (I didn’t actually do this because I always try and cut corners. However, I ended up ironing the triangles after I had cut them, so I should have just done it to begin with.) Then, with the fold of the fabric lined up horizontally, cut strips that are 5″ wide.

(See how wrinkled the fabric is? Whoops!)

After cutting all your strips to be 5″ wide, take one strip and turn it so that the fold is now lined up vertically on the left. You are going to measure 2 3/4″ from the fold. Because I’m using a cutting mat, I just count the 1 inch blocks when I’m measuring. I find using a measuring tape to be a huge hassle.

Next, line up your ruler so that it goes from the top left corner down to the place you marked (with either your finger or a pencil.) Being the corner-cutting-person that I am, I just put my finger on the bottom edge at the place that is 2 3/4″ from the fold. Line your ruler up and cut.

That first cut can be a little tricky, but everything else is pretty easy. Now you are going to count 5 1/2″ along the top edge, put your finger there, and line your ruler up with that point and the bottom. Now cut along the ruler edge.

Now, do the same thing, counting 5 1/2″ inches along bottom edge, line up ruler, and cut. Keep alternating bottom and top edge until you run out of fabric. Depending on the length of the banner you want to make, you’ll need two triangles per foot. So, for a 4 yard length you’ll need about 22-24 triangles.

We’re ready to stitch the triangles together. If you cut them as described above, they will already be in two layers (don’t pull them apart… you want them this way!) The wrong sides should be facing one another. This method leaves you with raw edges, which I kind of like.

With two triangles lined up (wrong sides together), stitch along one edge leaving a 1/8″ seam allowance. You will only be sewing along two of the edges, because the third edge will be tucked inside the bias tape.

When you get close to the point, just pull up your presser foot and swing that triangle around! It’s not necessary to lock your thread and start a new seam. It does help to make sure that the needle is down so that when you twist the triangle around you keep the stitch in place.

When I’m sewing lots of pieces like this, I use the “chain method.” (I’m not sure if that’s really the name or if I just made that up.) Basically, I just feed another triangle under the presser foot as the previous one is finishing up. I make sure there is a little bit of distance, maybe 2-3 stitches, but this saves me time because I don’t have to lock the thread each time I start a new piece. You’ll get a chain of pieces that are all linked together once you are done. Just snip them apart with some scissors.

We’re almost done! The last thing we need to do is sew everything together with the bias tape. There are different types of bias tape and I’ve probably used them all. The type I like the best for this project is the double fold (normal width.) The wide width is easier to work with, but I don’t like the way it looks as much.The single fold that is shown below will work and give you the same look as mine, but it’s more of a pain to work with. Ironing is involved…

For this step, decide how much of a “tail” you want on each end. Then, open up the tape at that point (I usually leave a foot or so) and insert a triangle. Make sure the edge of the triangle is all the way inside the bias tape- it should be at the crease.

Most people will tell you to use pins and put a pin on each corner and one in the middle. But, that seems like a lot of work to me. I actually tried doing it that way on my first banner and it took me way longer to get the pins in the right place than it did to just sew it without pins. So, use pins if you want but I think it’s simpler to do it without.

Helpful hint: if you aren’t using pins, make sure that you get the triangles completely inside the bias tape. I found it easy enough to stop sewing right at the end of one triangle, insert my next one and make sure the stitches caught the triangle in the seam, then arrange the rest of the triangle. These are relatively small pieces with straight edges, so it shouldn’t be too hard to do without pins.

Make sure your seam is pretty close to the edge of the tape, that way you are less likely to have parts of the triangle escape and not get caught in the seam. Continue sewing until you’ve used all your triangles, or you’ve come to the end of your bias tape. Hang the banner up, step back, and admire your craftiness!

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Trust.

A Facebook friend (whom I’ve never actually met in person) wrote this on her wall the other day:

I would never write this story or choose this path of suffering.
But I’m falling in love with a truer Gospel and a more loving Father than I’ve known.

 

 Yes, yes, yes. This completely.

I’ve been listening to Keller a lot lately (big surprise). I have about 150 sermons loaded on my iPod and when I’m driving, cleaning the kitchen, or ironing, I’ll often just hit “shuffle” and let a random sermon play. After you’ve listened to a few Keller sermons, you notice that there are some major themes he hits over and over again. Which is good, because I definitely need to hear them over and over. Two themes have been especially helpful for me to soak in and think about deeply– one is suffering and the other is anxiety.

We just can’t get away from suffering. Whether it’s the loss of a job, a friendship, a loved one, our health, or even a dream, we all encounter suffering. And if you aren’t currently in a season of suffering, it won’t be long until you are. I appreciate how clearly Keller shows that believing rightly about how Jesus suffered helps us as we suffer.

Many pastors preach that we should look to Jesus as our example– be good and, even though you aren’t perfect like Jesus, you can still try to be. But, if you look to Jesus as just an example of how to live, it’s going crush you. Either you realize you can’t live up to the example Jesus set and so you are crushed because you’ve failed; or, (more dangerously, I think) you do pretty well and trust in your obedience to save you. But what about when something terrible happens? If we’ve been striving to earn our own righteousness, we will be tempted to get angry at God– What did I do to deserve this? I’ve always obeyed you! You OWE me! Or, if we haven’t been living “rightly” then we will assume we are being punished.

But the cross shows us that Jesus, though perfectly obedient, still suffered. Our obedience doesn’t earn us our salvation, nor does it keep us safe and protected from suffering. Jesus doesn’t use the carrot or the stick method to elicit obedience from his children… he uses love. We obey because we’ve been utterly captured by the Gospel. Period.

So why do we suffer? I don’t know (and neither does Keller!) but I do know that it isn’t tied to how much I’ve sinned lately. Of course, there are sometimes consequences of my sin and foolishness that I might want to count as suffering, but those are really just the natural outworkings of my selfishness and desire to have my own way. When I say “suffering” I’m talking about the things that are devastating– the loss of a job, sickness, the death of a child. The things that just seem to be outside anyone’s control. But, what I’m realizing is that nothing happens outside God’s control. God is in control. If you call yourself a Christian, then you probably agree with that statement in theory, but it’s not how we live our lives. We don’t live as if God is totally in control.

This brings me to anxiety, a topic that I am intimately acquainted with. While suffering is something that happens to us and we have to endure, anxiety is a reaction that we have control over. We’re told (commanded, actually) not to worry. Keller says something about anxiety that I think about all the time– he says that worrying can actually be traced back to pride. We worry because we think we know how things have to go. We have our plan about how our lives should turn out and when things don’t seem to be going that way, we worry.

Ouch. That one cuts me to the heart everyday.

Something interesting has been happening in my life over the last six months or so. I’ve started to really believe in God’s sovereignty in a way that I haven’t before. It’s hard to explain and I’m sure that I can’t fully express how it happened, but something clicked for me. As my husband and I talk about situations that seem hopeless and we are tempted to despair, something wells up inside me and whispers, “This isn’t outside of God’s will. This, too, will work out for your good.” In a very real way, I know that even the really hard things are for my good. God has me. He made me, he saved me, and he sustains me everyday. Surely he cares about this relatively small thing. Of course he cares about this HUGE thing.

So when my stomach is tied in knots and I feel like I’m walking through a fog because I can’t see how things will ever be good again, I need to remember this. I need to remember that God is for me. Whether I’m suffering because of things outside my control, or I’m tempted to worry because I can’t see how things are going to work out, I know that the answer is to trust. Trust the One that endured infinite suffering to win me. Trust the Plan– the perfect, complete, beautiful plan that is for my good. Trust that one day all the pain and sadness will come untrue and we will no longer see dimly, but we’ll see Him face to face.

Trust.