Naked Cake { pan - NO mixing bowl...}

I confess.  I'm a cake eater.  And a bread eater.  And I don't make a bit of it with almond or coconut or __________ flour.  I bake with regular unbleached wheat flour.  Or sprouted wheat flour, if I am baking bread.

I have also been diagnosed as hypothyroid - years ago.  I refuse to be tested for food allergies, because I am certain they'd find some!  {...please, no hate mail...}

For me...not for you...for me...I am in a position of needing to be able to eat what is set before me, and to "sanctify it with thanksgiving".  I live my entire life on mission, and I must believe that if I can "eat any deadly thing" as Jesus said, and it not harm me, I have to continue to believe that I can eat what is lovingly prepared and set before me by the body of Christ in any country - third world or first world - and still maintain optimum health.

By faith.

I can't afford to be tested - and I don't just mean money.  The so-called results would so get up in my head, and I need my head to be able to simply trust God.

That's just me.

And so I share with you...with those of you who shamelessly eat their gluten, like this very own recipe for Naked Cake.

When I first saw Naked Cakes hit Pinterest, I was in love.  Do a Pinterest search on Naked Cakes, and behold the beauty that awaits you!  I absolutely had to come up with my own spin...

And did I, ever!

This cake is delicious.  This cake is one-pan.  This cake does not even require a mixing bowl.

Not even lying to you.  I would never.

So gather your ingredients:

You'll need:

a 3 quart hard anodized, non stick saucepan {...and don't even think of trying to use a regular non stick.  Been there, experimented that, and it didn't work...}

2C all purpose unbleached flour
1 TB baking powder
1 tsp salt
11/3C sugar

sift these dry ingredients together, straight into your saucepan (!!)

 Then add:

1/2C butter, softened
1 1/2C vanilla flavored creamer (as in - for your coffee!  I use the all natural kind...)
2 eggs
1/2 tsp pure vanilla (I just added it to my creamer)

Cream all the above together, incorporating it all thoroughly.  I use a simple hand-mixer.  If it seems a bit dry, add milk, a tablespoon at a time.

Pop it straight into a 350 degree oven for 45-55 minutes.  I'd watch it carefully at 30 minutes - the hard anodized pan really aids the baking process.  It's done when a toothpick comes out clean.

Let it cool for 10 minutes.  Run a knife around the edges, to loosen.  Then....turn the whole saucepan upside down over your prettiest cake server:

(just fresh from the oven...)

(plated up...)

(sprinkled with powdered sugar, my favorite homemade jam from my good friend Mary, and garnished with daisies...)

Absolutely easy, absolutely beautiful, absolutely delicious naked.

(the cake, I mean...)

Let It Go {..."your momma isn't to blame", and other thoughts about moms and Mother's Day...}

(my precious momma and daddy, on their 50th wedding anniversary in 2013)

Passing judgement on a parent (in this case of this particular post, your mother) is one of the biggest - if not the biggest - block to your own success and prosperity.

That is a bold statement, but I can back it up.  I can back it up personally, anecdotally, and Biblically.

In this blog post, however, I am going to call on a heavy hitter in the world of small business.  I am going to let her speak to this issue, as part of an ongoing mini-series, heading towards Mother's Day.

If you own a creative small business - if you are a solopreneur, and you haven't yet heard about Marie Forleo...

...well, it's waaaaay past time that someone told you.

Years ago, I heard that she wrote a book called "Make Every Man Want You" but she wrote it as a life-coaching book, and then purposefully let it masquerade as a book dispensing attraction-advice to women.  I was beyond curious.

I bought the Kindle version, two years ago.  And I didn't buy it because I wanted to make every man want me.

I wanted to see how this girl could make a hot topic become her "Trojan Horse" to carry what in fact, was her real message to the masses.  And she was spot-on.

Simply by adding a hot-button title ("Make Every Man Want You") she managed to package a boring product (self development) in such a way as to drive sales and get her core message out to a wider audience.  That book put her on the map.  Brilliant.  Girlfriend is genius.

But it was chapter 7 that made me sit up and take serious note.  Chapter 7 is titled, "Secret 4:  Your Parents Didn't Screw You Up (and Even if They Did...)"

One of Marie Forleo's secrets to success was to stop feeling sorry for herself - in short, to stop trying to re-parent herself.  One of her biggest secrets to her skyrocketing success has been to stop spinning the "I was abused" story.

I quote Marie in her own words:

"We live in a society that is conditioned to blame the state of our lives on what our parents did or didn't do to us growing up.  Either your parents were around too much and controlled you or they weren't around enough and left you with "commitment issues".

One of my biggest breakthroughs, which completely transformed my irresistibility and my ability to have success, was really understanding that my parents didn't screw me up.  Until my mid-twenties, I believed I had a dysfunctional family and a mildly abusive childhood.  I was completely comfortable blaming my own inadequacies and failed relationships on my parents.

I would tell men I dated "poor me" stories about how bad my mother was and how she screwed me up.  I dubbed her a neurotic "clean freak" and held resentment against her for constantly making me pick up after myself.  While I didn't have as many stories about my dad, I nevertheless...silently begrudged him for failing to save me from my mother's mean ways.

What a total crock!

My childhood was neither dysfunctional nor mildly abusive.  The only dysfunction that occurred was in my bratty little mind.  I told those "poor me" stories based on memories I put together as a difficult teenybopper who did not like to be told what to do...

I had no awareness of how challenging it is to be a parent, or the complexities and demands that come along with caring for and raising a family.  Like many children, I was untidy and self absorbed and I needed discipline.  Looking back with my adult eyes, I'm 100 percent certain I did things that drove my parents nuts....The memories of my childhood as dysfunctional are not at all accurate.  They were recorded in my mind by a much younger version of me - during a time I was upset and having temper tantrums.  I had a child's perspective, which, by its very nature, is limited and incomplete.  I "recorded" my mom's parenting as somehow dysfunctional and abusive.  Until I brought awareness to it, I brought that story with me forward in time as though it were true...

If you're holding on to a story that your parents screwed you up, you severely limit what's possible for squash your irresistibility because you are not yet behaving as a full, adult woman.  Instead of being an authentic, unique individual, you're stuck being not like your "bad" parent.  Rather than living an expansive're living life in reaction to your parents.

...All of this drama is eroding your well-being..."

Can you imagine the courage it took for Marie to say all this publicly?  To own the fact that her perspective on her upbringing was warped at best? And then to fix it?  Publicly?  I don't know if Forleo is a church-going woman, but I rarely see that kind of courage, even in God's house.

Marie goes on to acknowledge that, obviously,  some people truly have been abused (I'm talking bruises, broken bones, or sexual abuse).  Even then, Forleo's advice is to forgive and move on.

In short, in all but the most abnormal of home situations, none of us has a reason to spin the story of "abuse".  And if we choose to spin that story, we hurt no one but ourselves.

When I was growing up, I had issues with my mom.  My own mother, today, would acknowledge that some of my issues were legitimate, because she struggled with acute, suicidal depression when I was a child.

But like Marie, one of my biggest breakthroughs was when I decided to stop spinning my "poor me" story.  One day, as a young mother of two identical twin infant daughters, I was alone with my thoughts...which almost never happened, back then.  I was pondering some things that happened in my childhood, and frankly feeling sorry for myself.

The Holy Spirit spoke to me in that moment and said, "Stop.  You will never rise above what you identify with.  You can identify with feeling unloved, or you can identify with the truth."

I can honestly say that I broke free right then and there.  I haven't had a perfect perspective since then - there have been rare hours or days when I try to revert back to spinning a "poor me" perspective - but overall, I released my mother (and my father) and chose to acknowledge that my "take" on my  upbringing was slanted at best...and at worst, I realized how I erroneously felt that it served me to selfishly cast myself as the victim.

But nobody stays "the victim" and succeeds.

Friends, let me put it this way:  if I can honestly say that my upbringing was good, and my mom is amazing, and she did the best she could, and I honor can you.  So can you.  Trust me on this.  In all but the most extreme of circumstances, you can absolutely choose to drop the role of victim.

And Biblically, the road to prosperity is paved with honor.  We simply must choose to honor our parents, if we want to truly thrive.  One thing is for sure:  if you want...if you really, really want your child to one day weigh you in their balances and find you coming up terribly short?  If you want that, then go ahead...weigh your mother or your father in the scales of your finite understanding, play the role of perpetual victim, and bemoan every way they came up short.  Then, by all means, do everything in your power to not be like her/him/them.  (Because after all, that makes it all about you, see....victims are totally comfortable with that, even when they parent.  They are always parenting their inner victim  child, rather than making the hard choice to do what is best for their actual child.)

Go on and tell your spouse all the ways your parents messed up - help him or her "understand" you.  Its the best way I know to guarantee that your children will one day do the same "for you".

A Vitamix Recipe: "Really Easy Grape Juice With Chia Seeds" {, really, really, really easy...}

{brief caveat:  I made this juice using a Vitamix.  I think it would turn out just fine, no matter what kind of blender you use, but I did get great results with our trusty Vitamix.}

Take a bunch of red seedless grapes...well, if you have a Vitamix, they don't even have to be seedless, but the seeds do tend to be bitter.  Toss a couple of clusters in your blender along with 8 ounces of water.

Press play.

I mean, blend it.  Put about a tablespoon of chia seeds in your glass, and pour the blended grapes over that.  Let it sit for just a few minutes, to incorporate those seeds.

Here is what you end up with...and it is so, so good and good for you:

Still juicing my way through this gorgeous book, and each recipe is pretty much more awesome than the last.  One of my best buys this year!

As The Next Generation is Home Educated {...another slice of life...a regular Thursday in this 'hood...}

Remember this?

Beauty really does spring from broken places.

There were some dark days in my 22+ year home educating career.  There were some dark years.  But we also had so, so many days like this:

My iPhone buzzed about ten minutes ago.  This is going on, next door, even as I type.  My daughter Hannah sent me the above little video clip of her going over Timothy's memorization assignment for this week - today, she happens to be including Timothy's cousin (and my very enthusiastic grand-girl) Aidyn Esther.

I die.  I die from pure delight, I resurrect, then I die again.

These moments are what makes having a career in teaching your own children at home so, so worth the cost.

My #UnstyledLifestyle House REALLY DID Get Featured on a Design Blog {...a major design blog...}

 I promised I'd tell you which design blog was going to feature our home.

Then, I forgot to tell it here.  I announced it on Facebook and Instagram, but forgot to announce it right here, where it all began.

{hint:  please consider this your invitation to join me on one or all of my other social media channels.  I would love to see you there!}

So.  Remember this post?  My "Unstyled Lifestyle House Tour For No Real Reason"?

In that blog post, I practically bragged on the fact that I have never-no-never been invited to participate in one of those "Holiday House" virtual house tours at Christmas know...

...the blog hops.

Not once.

And I really didn't {and don't} care.

But as fate would have it, Gabrielle Blair over at Design Mom actually invited me to submit photos of our home for her weekly design feature "Living With Kids - Home Tours".

Apparently the sort of lifestyle we have, living with one of our grandbabies for two years, followed by living right next door to the same grandchild {and we will quite possibly be living two doors down from two of our other grandbabies by the end of this summer!} is fascinating to many folks...

...and I do have to say - I am living a dream I have not earned and do not deserve.  Hashtag blessedforsure.

Back to being invited to share our home on a real, true design blog.  I gotta tell you, the #unstyledlifestyle of that initial, silly blog post, became a "work-my-behind-off-to-style-my-unstyled-lifestyle" project.  A flurry of house cleaning and fresh-flower buying ensued upon learning that our home would actually be featured on - of all places, Design Mom.

Only THE website I have been "fan-girling" for at least two years!

I was over the moon, and still am.

You can find the shots of our home, and my interview here.

Meanwhile, please enjoy the "outtakes"...the shots that didn't make the cut for the feature piece:

Up In The Air So Blue {...the things my preacher can do, in no time flat...}

I mentioned it this afternoon.  That's all I did, was mention it.

I mentioned the fact that it'd be fun to have a wooden-seat swing, down there under the silver maple.

This evening, right before dinner, The Preacher went out to his workshop.  I heard the noise of the power saw and something else.  In less than an hour, this is what I was called outside to see:

And then this may have happened:

I was all, like, "Hey kid.  Get off my swing."  (not really)

How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
River and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside--

Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown--
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down! 

A Bit of Digital Flower Pressing {...not all Displayed Treasures are analog...} I created the above image in under 30 minutes, after The Preacher and I spent a perfect evening shooting wildflowers in Cades Cove.  Well.  We shot wildflowers, and I also included a few weeds - because I love dandelions when they reach their fluffy and even spent stage.  

I am having so much fun preparing for my FREE online mini-intensive, "Displayed Treasures - Analog 'Pinning' as Art and Lifestyle".  Yes, the idea is to set some limits on our screen time, and the screen time our children are given.  

But for all the technology lovers {like me}, let me take a moment to reassure you that though we will spend some time with beautiful "analog pinning" ideas...

...there will also be a bit of digital delight thrown in, just for fun.  

Hey, if it will get us all outside, I am all in, aren't you?

I'm excited to tell you that I am working on a screencast, intended to teach you how to easily put together a wildflower {or seashell, or tree leaf, or tree, or animal, vegetable, or mineral} mini-poster, much like what you see above.  

Just something fun you can create, to save and re-live a little bit of the feeling of those moments when all your senses were engaged.  Your kids - the ones old enough to be using the computer - can follow along and learn as well.

Stay tuned right here for the official launch date.  Announcements will be forthcoming...

I Re-stocked Most Items in the Shop {...just in time for Mother's Day...}

Thank you so much for your support, when you gift-give. It means this world to me, as well as all artists...

"We Don't Need Church Bells..." {...of children and church life...}

One thing I have always been aware of, is the profound affect church life has on children.  

In the best of ways.

I grew up in a tiny Presbyterian church full of people with gray hair who pulled gum out of my ears, and the same Sunday School Teacher every. single. Sunday.  No one rotated out there - the pastor's wife faithfully taught a range of ages, all at the same time, every Sunday for my entire childhood.  

It was radically life-altering stuff for a troubled little girl who would herself grow up to become a preacher's wife.

There is something sweet that happens - all quiet and hidden - when parents decide to commit to one local church, and go and grow there together.  Continuity is important.  There is a sweetness that only comes with creating continuity - whether you have children or your nest has emptied.  Week-in, week-out, month-in, month-out, year-in, year-out...

...memories are built no other way.

Lives are built no other way.  

The smallest things go a long way in a child's sense of stability - something as "simple" as church services, having the same four teachers in Sunday School, who rotate week by week all year long, and the same person making the pre-church-service announcements.  

I won't go so far as to say that your church life is THE most important constant in your child's life.  But I will go so far as to say that your church life easily ranks in the top five Things Your Child Can Depend On - ranking right up there with their trusty blankie, their parents' unconditional love, a consistent bedtime, and teeth brushing.

Meet Eryn...

She has the most incredible birth story you will ever encounter - but that is another post for another day.

Eryn's momma's name is Vickie, and I got her permission to share a little short something she shared online with our church ladies group.  Here is the cute, cute story, in her own words:

Eryn and I were in Fountain City today, on our way home from school when she heard the bells chime at one of the churches on Broadway. She immediately wanted to know what it was...I didn't realize she had never heard church bells before. I explained that a long time ago that's the way the church let the community know that services were about to begin, or sometimes the church would double as a school and they were used like the bell at her school. So she pipes up and says, "We don't need bells at our church. We have Mrs. Sheila and she doesn't need a bell. She just says (in her best Mrs. Sheila voice) 'Hellooo, Harvest Church!' and we all know we better sit down."

Who needs bells when a familiar friend is always there to let you know it is time to get started worshipping the Lord?

Take your kids to church.  Be consistent.  Let your one life testify of God's great worth, and of His great love for His bride.  And if you want to be really bold, in the words of Eugene Peterson "Go to the nearest small church and commit yourself to being there for 6 months."

Warning: You'll want to stay forever. And God just might be really, really good with that idea.

More than ever before, there's the lie that's gone viral: the lie that says it doesn't matter. Every storybook read, every bath, every song matters. All the work it takes to dress, feed, and take them to church every matters more than ever, momma and daddy. 

It matters precisely because too many so-called "important people" live like church is unimportant.  It matters precisely because the devil is working overtime to tell us it doesn't.

One-Pot Sprouted Grain No Knead Bread {, so good...}

I am so excited to share a recipe I've developed with you.  This is my riff on the famous Jaque Pepin's One Pan Bread Recipe.  Only my recipe uses half sprouted grain flour...and that's the extent of my "development" of the recipe.

But that is enough of a tweak to make this one mine-all-mine.

You don't have to completely spend more than necessary on King Arthur's Organic Sprouted Whole Wheat Flour , but it does make this recipe a little easier to digest - however still not recommended for those with Celiac disease.

Here is what sprouted wheat flour looks like:

It is darker and a tiny bit coarser than all purpose unbleached.  Still, it is very soft and easy to work with.

You toss 4 cups (2 of regular all purpose, 2 of sprouted wheat flour) in a hard anodized, 3-quart nonstick saucepan { read that right...a saucepan...}
and whisk in 1 heaping teaspoon of yeast, and a teaspoon of salt - do not use coarse or Kosher salt for this recipe.

...add 2 1/2 - 3 cups of filtered water...

Combine with a wooden spoon until all is incorporated.

Then...put a lid on it.

I'm so sorry to annoy you with pictures of every little step - I got carried away with the moody, luscious light in my kitchen today.

Let it sit for about an hour-and-a-half to two hours.  Your sprouted wheat flour needs a little more time to do its first rise than regular all purpose flour would need.

Here is what it looks like, about 2 hours later:

You're going to stick that wooden spoon into it one more time, and "stir it down".  It will deflate.

Next, you stick it in the fridge for hours and hours, or even overnight.  {...not even lying to you...I would never...}

So I've made it a frivolous goal to have a pretty refrigerator interior, when I can.  My nest is empty now, and I am entitled to some pointless frivolity.  When your nest empties, you will be entitled, too.

This.  makes.  me.  happy.

After hours and hours or even after overnight, your bread dough will look like this:

Put it straight {...forthwith...immediately...instantly...} into a preheated 450 degree oven, and bake it for 35-40 minutes.  Start checking it at the 30 minute mark, because mine browned quickly after that.

See how it beautifully pulled away from the sides of the hard anodized, non stick, 3-quart saucepan?  I was a proud proud of this little loaf of goodness...

Try this recipe.  I promise, it will get you baking your own bread again.

{...and thanks in advance for pinning...I am so grateful to each of you...}

Of Little Girls and Art

This is one of my grand-girls...she is imitating her artist-daddy, Jonathan Howe.  (He always paints in a hat - to nail down his colors and values.)

And since I believe this little girl is perfectly-perfect-in-every-way (in spite of the fact that she is sometimes quite a handful), I am thinking her parents may want to save and frame her masterpieces.  They may be worth a fortune in a few years.

It's happened before.

I can't help but feel great satisfaction, as I too am an artist.  This girl's momma - my daughter Sarah - much preferred seeing how far she could spit a watermelon seed, playing her guitar, and working with drills and saws and hammers.  I am absolutely certain that girls can do anything they want to do, anything God calls them to do, therefore far be it from me to have ever made Sarah stop spitting or put down her hammer and pick up a paintbrush.

Well, I may have tried to make her stop spitting.

But I do so love this picture of her daughter.  I contributed exactly one-quarter of her DNA, see.

In closing, I have always adored this poem, because it makes me think of this little girl's momma....

THERE was a little girl,
And she had a little curl
  Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good
She was very, very good,        5
  And when she was bad she was horrid (not really...maybe sometimes.)
One day she went upstairs,
When her parents, unawares,
  In the kitchen were occupied with meals,
And she stood upon her head        10
In her little trundle-bed,
  And then began hooraying with her heels.
Her mother heard the noise,
And she thought it was the boys
  A-playing at a combat in the attic;        15
But when she climbed the stair,
And found Jemima (Sarah) there,
  She took and she did spank her most emphatic.

In Other News {...Superman is feeling much better, thank you for asking...}

I feel I may as well tell you...

...two weeks ago, on PopPop's birthday, Superman had to be rushed to the ER where he promptly received 8 stitches down the side of his hand, right at the pinky finger.  I thought every single one of us, my oldest boy Josiah included, were going to faint on the spot.  It felt like a big deal.

And never...never...never buy one of these:

I realize I may hear from some of you, telling me how much you have loved your kiddie-puller, but I won't be moved.

Those things, up there, are the devil.  Maybe not that exact brand - but in general, regardless of brand, our whole family now carries special hatred for them.

And Superman and Batgirl (my grand-daughter Aidyn loves to say she is "batgul".) really hate them.

But Batgirl survived the ordeal with just a few scrapes.  Superman was injured.  Just in case anyone was worried about Superman, here is a little slice-of-life just this evening ("This just in!")

Superman was smack-dab in the middle of giving me a devilishly handsome wink, as I snapped the above picture.

Superman is busy watching...well...Superman.  (Not even lying.)  He is resting well, and our good friend Dr. Doug will be removing his stitches come Easter Sunday.