Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Theme Thursday :: Same Picture, Different Angles

Just a quick pic post from me to participate in Micaela's Theme Thursday photography party.  There's nothing like sneaking into a link-up at the tail end of it...

Last week's challenge was to snap the same picture from different angles.  I'm no photographer, but I had grandiose visions of grabbing my not-a-phone camera and heading out into the world to find a gorgeous photo to call my own.  

It didn't happen.

But I did catch my girls playing Camouflage with some of our animals amidst the glorious soft fibers of our new shag rug....  

Bingo.  Same pic, two different angles.  I'm in the link-up.  Except it was with my phone, so... I still haven't proven myself to be that "legitimate photographer" that I know is inside me just waiting to emerge... 

Just as soon as I learn how to really use my camera.  

And that probably won't happen before the next Theme Thursday, because Thursday is tomorrow...

Don't forget to check out Micaela's photo link-up.  You can get all the details here and can check out all the other "other angle" pictures here :)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Spaghetti Squash Pizza Casserole (THM S)

We've had a surplus of spaghetti squash from our CSA program this year.  My kids enjoy spaghetti squash as a straight-up spaghetti replacement with sauce, cheese, and meatballs.  But you can only do that so many times.  And when I say "you" I mean "I."  After a couple nights of spaghetti squash and meatballs, I was ready for something different.  And the Spaghetti Squash Pizza Casserole was born.  

It became a favorite and we've probably had it four or five times in the last two months.  What can I say, when your family loves something made out of spaghetti squash, you keep making it.  Plus the farm keeps sending up spaghetti squash.  Plus it's healthy.  And tasty.  And did I mention we've been getting lots of spaghetti squash??

Might I humbly suggest that you and your family might like it as much as we do :)

Psst!  This is an easy "recipe" for kids to follow.  Maybe help them with the squash cutting (because that can be pretty intense) and oven use, but other than that, this could be one you let your kids get on the table :)  I'm just sayin... You could conceivably take the night off in the kitchen and still get to eat this yummy dinner :)  

Spaghetti Squash Pizza Casserole

Halve one large or two small spaghetti squash.  Remove and discard the seeds and pulp.

Give each half a few twists (or shakes!) of sea salt and pepper.

Roast upside down on a cookie sheet at 400 degrees for about 1 hour.
(Small squashes may not need as much time)

Allow squash to cool until you're able to handle them.  Flip them over and use a fork to scrape the flesh into spaghetti-like strands.  Set aside.

Spread a thin layer of no-sugar-added tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9"x13" baking dish.
(I used homemade sugar-free sauce.  Because the CSA gave us insane amounts of tomatoes too ;)  Maybe I'll get the recipe for the sauce I made up here soon....  Let me know if it's a priority for you!)

Sprinkle some grated Parmesan over the sauce. 
(fresh shredded, or green shaker can cheese are both fine)

Spread the squash out over the sauce.

Then layer on your favorite pizza toppings. 
(I used green pepper, mushrooms, black olives, and turkey pepperoni.)

Top with shredded mozzarella cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 - 60 minutes, until cheese is melted and browning.

Serve with additional tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese. 
(For those eating a THM S meal, keep tomato sauce to a minimum.)


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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Pumpkin Spice Almonds (a THM S Snack)

I've recently been spending a lot of time at my parents' home while our living room is out of commission due to repairs and improvements.  Each morning the kids and I stay home long enough to say hi to the work crew and make sure they have a full pot of coffee, and then we leave because you just don't try to homeschool around open ceilings , gooey spackle, and wet paint.  Obviously.  And the dust!  Oh. my. goodness.  Construction dust is like nothing I have ever encountered before.

Anyway, to avoid it all and to have a little bit of space for the big kids to work and the little kids to wreck play, we've been hanging at my mom and dad's.  It only took a few days, but I polished off their stash of amazing flavored almonds.  Wasabi and soy almonds?  Oh my!  

To make a short story long, while I was at the grocery store on a mission to replace the almonds I "borrowed" from my parents, I saw pumpkin spiced almonds, and I think I sang, "Come to me, my beauties!"  out loud.  Much to the embarrassment of my children.  

Of course, the pumpkin spice almonds in the grocery store were laden with sugar and corn syrup, but I knew I could create a tasty autumn-inspired snack on my own that would fit quite nicely with the Trim Healthy Mama lifestyle.

They turned out well.  Very well.  

But I think you'll want to try them for yourself to confirm my assessment ;)   

Measure out two cups of roasted, unsalted almonds...

In a small bowl combine erythritol, Sugar Free Brown Sugar (from Gwen's Nest), THM Super Sweet Blend, a dash of sea salt, and pumpkin pie spice.  

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites, cold water, and a dash of vanilla until frothy...

...add the almonds, stir to coat, then added the spice mix, and stir to coat again :)

Spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil.  Bake at 250 degrees for 40 minutes, stirring half way through.  

Allow to cool and harden, then brake the almonds apart and store in an airtight tupperware or ziploc bag.   

Pumpkin Spice Almonds 
(a THM S Snack)


2 cups roasted, unsalted almonds

pinch of sea salt
1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1 1/2 T. egg whites
1/2 T cold water
dash vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 250 degrees and line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.

In a small bowl, combine sweeteners, salt, and pumpkin pie spice.

In a medium-size bowl, beat egg whites, water, and vanilla until frothy.

Add nuts and stir to coat.  Add spice mixture and stir to coat.

Spread almonds on the cookie sheet and bake at 250 degrees for 40 minutes.  Stir half way through.

Remove from oven and allow to cool and harden.  Break almonds apart by hand if necessary.  Store almonds once they are completely cooled.

Or enjoy a handful right away :)

Monday, October 19, 2015

Thoughts on Loving Our Recently Miscarried Baby

Forgive me if my thoughts are muddled... they seemed clear enough in my heart and  head when I started writing... but what I end up writing doesn't always reflect my clarity of thought or conviction of heart...

I recently miscarried a child.  It was only seven days after I took a pregnancy test.  I had spent a few days in shock and a few days allowing my excitement to grow, and then, as quickly as it had begun, it was over.  

How does one process that?  What should I feel?

I struggled for a brief time, wondering what is the appropriate amount of sorrow to feel or exhibit over the loss of a pregnancy that was so short and that hardly anyone knew about. 

And I started to wonder what other people would think.  And soon, their imaginary thoughts became my own... 

You were hardly pregnant for a month, so it's not that traumatic, not like a loss at 12, or 14, or 20 weeks...

This is your second miscarriage so it shouldn't come as a surprise and it's nothing new and you know how to handle it.  You'll move on.

Well, what's one miscarriage when you have five other living children?  

Don't spend too much time grieving, or you'll look like you don't appreciate the blessing of the family that you already have.  

I was truly having a hard time knowing how to grieve for this baby whose existence I barely had time to wrap my head around.  And is it self-indulgent to mourn the loss of a child when I have so many others?  
One of many.  And only a brief physical reality.  Never known, cuddled, or caressed.   Do I harden my heart, repress my grief, and move on?

I thought about putting on my c'est la vie face and "moving on."  

But Love intervened, and He spoke to me through friends -- a friend who encouraged me to mourn instead of ignore, a friend who reminded me of my comforting thoughts to her after her own miscarriage, a friend who shared the prayer which made me appreciate our little one's place in our family, and a friend who wrote about her own experience with suffering and loss...

In a recent blog post, In Defense of Suffering, Annery wrote about baring her vulnerable heart for the sake of a child who deserved unreserved love.  
When we started down the road of fostering, we heard a lot of voices expressing concern for how we would guard our hearts against the possibility of loss...  [Yet] God gives us no promises on any of our children.  I'm not guarding my heart, she deserves it....  I poured love into her with reckless abandon.  I was her mother.  What were the options?  She deserved nothing less than all of me.  This precious child entrusted to our care.   
Love is risky.  Isn't it?  When we choose to bare our hearts and love without holding back, there are no guarantees we will not be hurt.

And yet, isn't that how parents love their children?  Recklessly, without calculation or caution, often at the risk of personal loss or suffering?  Love and sacrifice are intertwined and inseparable when it comes to parenting.  To be given a child and asked to be his or her guardian on the "fast track" to Heaven is not how we typically envision "parenthood" but it's no less significant.  It's parental sacrifice of a different kind.  The sacrifice isn't the daily grind of diapers and dinners, and discipline that we're used to, it's not knowing your child, never holding your child, never celebrating her birthdays with her, not tucking her in and kissing her goodnight, not peeking in on her after she's fallen asleep.  

There is sacrifice in every form of motherhood.  
The children that we conceived and have lost truly were precious ones entrusted to our care.  I am honored and humbled that they have only known two homes - my womb and the Heavenly Kingdom.  That's no small wonder!   It's a distinction that I hope every mother who has lost a baby embraces!  

I believe I learned a new love lesson with this miscarriage -- A guarded heart in the face a miscarriage is a selfish attempt to protect myself from the pain and sorrow of the loss.  A guarded heart is about me and ignores the child, the significance of the life within, the life that was, the unique personhood of a baby... my baby.  I know that our babies are now living out my deepest longing for all my family - a sainted life in the presence of  God the all-loving Father, Christ the King, Mary our tender mother, the ever-praising choirs of angels, and the saints of the Church Triumphant.  When I finally join them and run to my children in Heaven and hold them, I want to greet them knowing that I loved them unreservedly.  I do not want to know the regret of withholding love from them simply because they had never physically been born to me.   

Guarding our hearts against the loss of a miscarriage deprives our babies of dignity and love.  We should allow ourselves to love our miscarried babies recklessly and mourn their loss deeply because they deserve nothing less than the unguarded love we bestow on all our children.  I carried two babies only for a short time, and they were ours.  No less real, no less a Blackstone, no less loved.  

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