Gluten Free Friday ~ Popsicles, finally!

 Finally!  Finally I’m taking a few moments to post on my blog, which I just realized has lost it’s free template graphics I installed years ago.  Goodbye cute scroll-y flowers in the left side bar. Hello, “Sorry. This person moved or deleted this image.” Didn’t that Photobucket member realize that her free blog template design offered many years ago would become my forever blog design??? Gonna have to finally do a makeover around here, I guess! Finally {tomorrow, maybe?} I hope to post again about all that’s been going on around here from mother’s day half-marathons, to trips to the Cooperstown, NY, to mission trips to the Dominican Republic, and more.

And FINALLY it has hit 90 degrees in these parts. We’ve had a couple of spurts of 70-80 degree sunny days, but for the most part it’s been clouds, and grey skies, and rain, and thunderstorms, and that was only  after what seemed like THE longest winter on the books.  Tomorrow is June for goodness’ sake.  I don’t know if I’ll ever get over the length of winter and the brevity of the sunshine and heat around here, but we’re trying to enjoy it to the fullest while it lasts, and popsicles are a necessary component of the complete summer experience, of course.  Everyone knows that.
 Exactly one week ago today, I was sitting in the bleachers under a blanket, wearing a thermal fleece jacket, gloves, and a scarf while still shivering through one of Kory’s last baseball games of the season. 40 degrees and whipping winds blew the thought of popsicles into the seeming distant future, but today we’re making and enjoying them in 94 degree heat.  It’s wonderful.  Now, if only I could get in an inner tube and float down the Guadelupe or Frio river… ☺
I’ve already posted a few “pop” recipes, but these are new.  They both use coconut milk, and don’t require much extra sweetener due to the bananas.  They are super-healthy, fresh-fruity and delicious.  Here are the recipes inspired by a couple of different smoothies I came across in a Whole Living magazine.

Strawberry Coconut Popsicles

2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries
1 banana
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 tsp lemon juice
1 cup water
dash of stevia or 1 Tbsp honey to sweeten

Blend all ingredients in food processor or blender.  Pour into molds and freeze.  Remove from molds, wrap in wax paper, and store in large Ziploc bags in freezer.

Creamy Mango Popsicles

4 cups fresh or frozen mango
1 cup coconut milk
1 banana
1/2 cup orange juice
dash of stevia or 1 Tbsp honey to sweeten

Follow same blending/freezing/storing directions as above

Hope you are finally able to enjoy some summer fun this weekend wherever you are.  I’m headed out to my picnic table to soak in the sunshine and finally make up for my vitamin D deficiency!

Sweet & Spicy Quinoa Porridge {& Running power}

It’s going to be 80 degrees and sunny here today!  Robert and I went for a run this morning, and then had our tea and breakfast out on the picnic table.  I could smell the lilacs blooming in my neighbor’s yard. Hoping the vitamin D would give me a little burst of health and strength, I lay down on the bench to more fully soak up the beaming sunshine for a while.  I have been feeling pretty terrible this week.  It’s not a cold or a stomach virus, thankfully.  I think it’s just stress and fatigue, but I’ve been in denial about that.  There’s been so much to do and no breaks in between.  All good stuff, too ~ Protocol Night, shopping for groceries and supplies, final small group meetings, baptisms, the senior/graduation church dinner, a class debate and presentations, preparation to teach, assorted appointments, and on top of all of that I thought it would be a good idea to run a local Mother’s Day Half Marathon this Sunday with my friend Betsy.  This meant that I needed to start running more than the usual six miles three times a week.  So, on Wednesday, after a CRAZY Tuesday, I ran 10 miles to get in one last long run.  I think it really did me in.

Usually, running has the opposite effect.  It makes me feel great.  So much so that I don’t like missing my usual running days, but this week I’m pretty sure I overdid it.  There were just too many other high energy activities leading up to that run, and I got pretty depleted, I guess. So, I’ve been trying to take it easy the last couple of days. We’re still planning to run the half-marathon on Sunday at 8am, so pray for strength and stamina if your think of it!

Speaking of the need for strength and running power, this breakfast cereal would be a great pre-race {if you are able to eat before you run, which I am not!}, or post race recovery meal with it’s protein and fruit.  It’s also delicious and healthy any day of the week.  I’ve fallen in love with cardamom in the last couple of years ever since I had the cardamom coffee at The Hampton Chutney Co. in New York City.  Then I discovered that the flagship Whole Foods in Austin, TX can serve cardamom coffee with coconut milk for creamer, which is truly amazing!  Anyway, this porridge has some of my favorite flavors in it, and is adapted from a recipe I found in a Whole Living magazine a while back.

Sweet & Spicy Quinoa Porridge

1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk {or almond milk}
1/4 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp cinnamon
more coconut milk to pour over
honey or stevia to sweeten
fresh fruit to layer
chopped, roasted almonds to top

Bring the quinoa, coconut milk, water, vanilla, salt, and spices to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer covered for 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.  Let rest for a few minutes and then fluff with a fork. Layer quinoa, fruit, nuts, more coconut milk, and honey in a mug or bowl and enjoy!

Catchin’ Up {but not really…}

Don’t know how I ever found time to blog for 40 plus days during Lent, but it was such a good and healing experience for me. Today I’m sitting down catch up here when I really have a million other obligations awaiting. But I can hardly move this morning after the activity level of the past few weeks, so at least I can sit here at the dining room table and tell you what’s been going on around here…

Cooper turned 16! Can hardly believe this.

We celebrated a bit early with friends and a cookout and ice cream cake and basketball. He’s blessed to have such a great group of friends.
The reason we celebrated early was because we had to leave the day after his birthday and drive to Cape Cod for the wedding of Lamar and Tamara. Lamar is a long time member of our church, and Tamara will join him here when they get back from honeymooning. Incredible testimonies of God’s grace in each of their lives made the celebration extra-special.  Robert and I stayed with a DELIGHTFUL retired couple in their beautiful Cape home for the night which was also such a highlight of our time away. We even got in a morning run to the beach, and returned to one of the most amazing homemade breakfasts either of us have ever had!
We made a stop in Providence, RI on our way back to home to have dinner with my old friend from MIDDLE SCHOOL ~ Mike and his wife Leslie.  It is just guaranteed laughter and good times with these two.  Mike will soon be a Colonel in the Air Force, and we were thankful to catch them in our neck of the woods before they head to Colorado Springs for their next assignment.
And then there’s baseball.  Everyday, baseball.  It’s either a baseball practice or a baseball game or washing baseball uniforms {WHITE ONES WITH MAROON EMBELLISHMENTS} or packing lunches or driving to away games or deciding who will use what vehicle to go where, etc.  But, I do love baseball and have been trying to be at as many games as possible.  I will really miss sitting out at a spring baseball games after Kory graduates.  Cooper doesn’t even acknowledge baseball as a sport, so no chance of future games for me after this season!  It will be cross country and basketball from here on out!
Classical Conversations days and weeks have been especially full, too.  We’ve had presentations, and quizzes, and debates…
Noah and Ryan are debating whether or not gun control legislation reduces crime and violence here.

 …and more presentations and End of Year Celebrations.

This is Kayla presenting on the things her class does in Challenge B to a gathering of about 200 Classical Conversations parents and children at our church.

 And though we still have two weeks left of class, our end-of-year Protocol Night was last night.  We’ve been reading bits of Protocol Matters in class and discussing the hows and whys of protocol and etiquette.

Even practiced proper table settings in class…

…and then got dressed up last night to practice all of our appropriate attire and good manners in semi-formal settings.  Coop shopped for some new clothes, got a lesson in ironing, and then got to pose for photos with mom.  He didn’t even mind it that much. ☺

 I have loved tutoring these kids every Tuesday this year!

 With students and parents we had a party of 23 last night for dinner at a historic New England Inn in Essex, CT ~ The Griswold Inn, and then attended a musical at the historic Goodspeed Opera House nearby.
 This is a gorgeous and quintessential New England area ~ near where Long Island Sound and the Connecticut river come together, and I can hardly wait to go back and soak in more of it than we were able to yesterday.  We saw the musical “Good News” which takes place in the 1920’s on a college campus.  So funny and highly entertaining!
Got home about 12:30am last night and am feeling pretty worn out this morning.  Looking at a very full weekend of birthday parties, church meetings, final small group gatherings, baptisms on Sunday afternoon, and a senior dinner at my house on Sunday evening.  Tuesday holds another debate on childhood vaccinations, philosophy presentations, science research papers due, more baseball…

Seems like each day brings more opportunities to be completely dependent on the Lord for strength and sustaining. “Catching up,” I’m learning, is not something I’m going to be able to accomplish at all, really, and certainly not without grace and power from Christ.  Life feels very out of control lately, but it’s really only out of my control.  I’m learning to trust that His control is much better than mine anyway.

Hope to be back here soon!  I even have a couple of recipes I want to post.  We’ll see…