Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Homemade Pizza Recipe and Tutorial

Every Friday afternoon the yeasty smell of homemade dough fills my kitchen. As the aroma travels down our hallway one or more of my children come running to the kitchen. "Can I help make the pizza?," they always ask.

My kids have learned Fridays mean pizza and a video. Sometimes they help me stir the dough or roll out the crust or put the toppings on. Sometimes I do it all myself. Either way we all look forward to our Friday night pizza tradition.

Just in case you'd like to start a pizza tradition of your own, here's my home made pizza crust recipe.

Wheat Pizza Crust Recipe

1 cup warm water
2 tsp yeast or 1 pkg of yeast
1 cup white flour
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup whole wheat flour (or use white if you prefer)

In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over the top of warm water. Yeast should get foamy. That's how you know it's working.

1 jar of Fleishmann's yeast lasts me about 3 months.

Stir in 1 cup of white flour to the yeast mixture. There may be lumps but that's OK. Also add salt and oil. Stir until the oil is well combined with the flour-yeast mixture.

Yeast-flour mixture is about consistency of wet glue.

Add wheat flour to yeast mixture and combine. Depending on the humidity you may need to add more flour. The mixture should be sticky but not look wet. Turn out onto a floured counter and knead until dough is no longer sticky.

Dough ready to knead.

There are a couple of options at this point.

Option A: In a hurry. 

Roll out dough and place on pizza pan. Dough will be pretty thin. Turn oven on at 350* and let dough bake for 5-10 minutes. As the oven heats up the dough will rise slightly. Bake just long enough for the dough to set up but not be fully cooked.

Remove from oven and put toppings on. Turn oven up to 400* and bake until cheese is melted and slightly browned.

Makes 1 thin crust.

Option B: Plenty of time.

Place dough back in bowl. Put the bowl in the oven and let dough rise until doubled. If your kitchen is cold then you may need to heat your oven briefly but don't get it too hot or the dough will bake.

After dough doubles in size, remove from oven and roll out on floured surface. Place on pizza pan and put back in oven. Let double again then bake at 350* for 5-10 minutes. Just until dough is set but not completely cooked.

Remove from oven and put toppings on. Turn oven up to 400* and bake until cheese is melted and slightly browned.
Makes 1 thick crust or 2 thin crusts.

Pizza Sauce Recipe

8 oz can tomato sauce
6 oz can tomato paste
2 tbsp Italian seasoning mix
2 tbsp garlic powder

Combine all ingredients. Spread on pizza crust. Makes enough for 2-3 pizzas depending on how thick you like your sauce.

What toppings do you put on homemade pizza?
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Monday, March 26, 2012

Menu Plan Monday :: March 26, 2012

What are we eating this week?

Chicken and Bean Quesadilla

Ham, Steamed Carrots and Broccoli

Kielbasa Stirfry Rice

BBQ Chicken, Baked Potato, Salad

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

What are you eating this week?

Recent menu plans:

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

What are your passions?

Passions - topics, ideas, or activities that you could participate in or discuss over and over again.

On Day 12 of the 31 Days to Become a Better Writer series at Allume.com, the author challenged readers to write a list of 10 passions and then to share the reasons behind one of those passions.

Here are a few of my passions in no particular order:

  1. Family time.
  2. Traveling with my kids.
  3. Getting fit and healthy.
  4. Organizing my home and home management.
  5. Homeschooling.
  6. Cub Scouts.
  7. Rheumatoid arthritis and Enbrel.
  8. Compassion International.
  9. Children's books and curriculum.
  10. History.
Next time I'll share a little history behind one of my passions.

What are 10 topics or activities that you could do or talk about for hours?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Do the Right Thing, Even When It's Hard

Honesty, integrity, trustworthiness: 3 values I'm trying to instill in my children.

Around our house we lump those values into one big pot called "doing the right thing."

Do the right thing.

"Do the right thing even when you won't be rewarded for it."

"Do the right thing even when you will be laughed at."

"Do the right thing even when it will cost you."

It's easy for me to tell my children those principles. It's difficult for me to model them.

I want to win.

I've entered a contest to become one of 10 bloggers for Wyndham Worldwide's Women on Their Way. The 10 winners will receive 200,000 Wyndham Rewards points, $800, and a Flip camera. They will also write about their travels for the Women on Their Way blog.

To say I want to win this contest is an understatement! It combines 3 of my passions: traveling with my children, writing about our travels, and sharing tips with other moms.

Let me repeat, I WANT TO WIN.

But not that way.

According to Wyndham's official rules, "Each vote may be submitted once each day." It has been brought to my attention that Wyndham's voting system makes it possible to vote more than once a day. You can vote on multiple computers. You can vote on your computer and smart phone. And if you are computer savvy enough, you can figure out a way to vote from one computer as many times a day as you want.

One person, multiple votes a day.

I could bend the rule and say it's unclear what "each vote" means. Is it each computer? Each household? Each person?

I could also say other people are doing it so why shouldn't I? And if there's any doubt that others are voting multiple times, let me assure you, I have been majorly working my social network. My friends are asking their friends who are asking their friends to vote. And I'm still at about #18, despite being in the top 10 in a similar contest last year.

I could justify my social network voting multiple times, but when it comes down to it, I don't want to win that way.

Win with integrity.

I want to win with integrity. I want to be a role model for my kids that when doing the right thing might cost you something you really, really, really want - you still do the right thing.

So I'm asking my friends and family to only vote once a day per person until March 31.

If you've been voting for me multiple times a day, please understand that I appreciate your support! I am very grateful for your help! I do not mean to sound ungrateful or unappreciative!! I know that not all of my friends or family have a problem with this gray ethical area but I ask that you honor one vote per person per day.

Then, if I win, we know it's because I deserved to win, not because we found a loophole in the system.

One day I'll tell my kids the story about how their mom wanted to win a really awesome contest but chose doing the right thing over winning. It wasn't an easy. And it wasn't fair, but no one ever said life would be easy or fair. Hopefully my kids will understand my choice and also choose the painful road of integrity.

Have you ever had to choose doing the right thing over something you really wanted?

Ps. By the way, I'd love it if you voted for me once a day until March 31! Thanks!!

Chocolate Chip Pancakes Recipe and Tutorial

Every Sunday night my husband cooks Chocolate Chip Pancakes for our supper. It's a family tradition inspired by fond memories of HIS dad cooking waffles on Saturday mornings.

This is the recipe he uses, with a little help from our kids.

Chocolate Chip Pancakes

1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 beaten egg
1 c. milk
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
chocolate chips to taste (optional)

Mix together dry ingredients in large bowl. In separate bowl combine egg, milk, and vegetable oil. Slowly pour into dry ingredients using a whisk to combine.

Add about 1/4 cup chocolate chips. Be aware that the chips will sink to the bottom. Also, add more chips after scooping out batter to pour onto the griddle. Adding gradually helps control the amount of chips in each pancake.

Using a 1/2 cup scoop to pour the pancakes on the griddle cuts down on the mess and gives uniform sized pancakes. Maybe not uniformed shaped though.


When the tops of the pancakes are dotted and almost dry it's time to flip them over. By the way, this picture contains chocolate chip free pancakes for Daddy who's not a huge fan of the chips. 

Add your favorite syrup and enjoy!!

Breakfast food for supper. You gotta love it!! Or are we the only ones who do that?


My husband TRIPLES this recipe for our family of 6. Each person eats about 4-6 pancakes. The pancakes in the above picture are sitting on a dinner plate to give you an idea of the size. 

My griddle is a double burner griddle being used on a gas stove. The griddle is from Pampered Chef and pretty expensive but was worth every penny!! My friend, Amanda Towne, is a Pampered Chef consultant and can hook you up with one of these nonstick wonders!!

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Monday, March 19, 2012

Menu Plan Monday :: March 19, 2012

What are we eating this week?

Homemade Pizza, Salad, Pineapples

Chocolate Chip Pancakes, Scrambled Eggs

Leftover Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Lemon Pepper Salmon, Broccoli and Carrots, Rice

Roasted BBQ Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Salad

Taco Bar

Eating Out: Field Trip/ Play date with friends.

What's on your menu?

Recent menu plans:
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Thursday, March 15, 2012


windows down
wind blasting
hair whipping

radio on
music blaring
hands drumming

drink full
moisture beading
lips swallowing

friends beside
laughter exploding
faces smiling

On this warm sunny day in spring, I'm thinking about road trips with college friends. It's been 15 years since I threw a few clothes and a toothbrush in a bag and headed out on a road trip on a whim.

This isn't to say I'd change my life but days like today make me long for a Rte. 44 Vanilla Dr. Pepper, an Abba CD, and two beautiful friends name April and Michelle.

Do you have fond road trip memories from college? Please share!

Help me take a road trip with my kids this year. Vote for me to be a 2012 #wynwomen #travelblogger!  

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Running to Perseverance

She wants to run.
She wants to run a 5k race.
She wants to run a 5k race without stopping.


That would require training.
That would require training early in the morning.
That would require training early in the morning in cold weather.


She hears.
She hears her own voice.
She hears her own voice saying, “When the exercises are hard and you want to quit, you have to push through it and keep going.”


She walks.
She walks daily.
She walks daily in the cold early morning until she can run.


She hopes.
She hopes he learns.
She hopes he learns perseverance.


He watches.
He watches her train.
He watches her train to run.

How are you modeling perseverance? 

Inspired by Day 6: Perspective 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Menu Plan Monday :: March 12, 2012

As spring approaches so does a very busy season for those of us with kids. Busy seasons mean I like to have simple meals with few ingredients that require little thought to prepare.

With that in mind I'm once again changing my menu planning system. Effective this week I'm cooking Roasted Chicken, Pot Roast, and Pizza every Monday, Wednesday, Friday. This will require less thought for cooking and shopping. It will also allow me to use chicken and roast leftovers for Tuesdays and Thursdays - days we are always out of the house.

I'll probably change my system again in a couple of months but this is what works for me for this season.

So, what are we eating this week:

Pot Roast, Mashed Potatoes, 
Garden Salad, Gravy, Homemade Biscuits

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Roast Beef Sandwiches, Garden Salad

Homemade Pepperoni Pizza, Salad and Fruit

Chocolate Chip Pancakes, Scrambled Eggs, Milk

What's on your menu this week?

Recent menu plans:

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Learning Perseverance is Painful

The week's gymnastics lesson over, her children climbed into the gray van and fastened their seat belts. While buckling her 3 year old into his car seat, she glanced toward the backseat and noticed the expression on his face.

The eldest child, an eight year old boy who embodied all the stereotypes of a firstborn, sat with his back ramrod straight, his jaw clenched, and eyes  filled with tears. "Uh-oh," she thought.

Looking into his face, she gently asked, "What's the matter, Sweetheart?"

The tears spilled down his cheeks. "I don't want to do gymnastics any more."

"Really?," she asked, silently praying for wise words to help her hurting firstborn. "Why not?"

"I'm not good at it. The coach said Brother's good at gymnastics. It's not fair," his words tumbled out in a mixture of disappointment and jealousy.

"Well," she responded, "Everyone has something their good at doing. Gymnastics is one of those things for Brother. That doesn't mean you can't be good at gymnastics, too. It just means you have to work harder at it than he does. When the exercises are hard and you want to quit, you have to push through it and keep going. O.K.?"

He nodded and wiped the tears from his eyes. With that her teachable moment ended and she climbed into the driver's seat.

As she drove towards home, she replayed the previous scene in her mind. Her heart ached for her perfectionist firstborn. She understood his desire to do everything well, along with his desire to quit when things got hard. It didn't help matters that Brother, younger by only 20 months, was a natural athlete. She marveled that two brothers could be so different.

Then she wondered, yet again, how would she ever teach her oldest perseverance?

How do you teach your children perseverance?

This post was inspired by Day 5:: First and Third.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Easy Roasted Potatoes and Carrots Recipe

Before cooking.

Easy Roasted Potatoes and Carrots Recipe

4 medium Russet/Idaho/Eastern potatoes
1-2 cups baby carrots
2 medium onions
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. Scrub potatoes clean. Cut potatoes and carrots into large bite-sized chunks. Place in a non-stick roasting pan or on a cookie pan.

2. Clean carrots and add to the potatoes and onions in the pan.

3. Drizzle oil over vegetables. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir to evenly coat veggies with oil and seasonings.

4. Cook in 400* oven for about 30 minutes. Stir vegetables at least once during cooking to brown all sides.

Makes 4-7 servings.

After cooking.

Note: I roast my vegetables on a top rack while roasting a chicken on the lowest rack. The chicken cooks at 350* for about 1.5 hours then I turn up the heat to 400-425* for the remaining 30 minutes. Cooking times and temps are approximate depending on how browned you want the vegetables.

Also, this is a great recipe to involve your kids in the kitchen. Let kids clean the veggies, drizzle on the oil, sprinkle the seasonings, and use their (clean) hands to coat the veggies with the oil.

Happy eating!

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Front Porch Tradition

photo courtesy of Mr. ThinkTank
My eyes scan the photo in search of something I can relate to, of some touch of familiarity. Nothing. I see nothing but a jumble of brightly painted houses almost sitting on top of each other, postage stamp sized front yards, and, in the background, a looming high rise apartment building. Then I notice on the dark blue front steps of the first house an old wooden crate turned on it's end and shoved up against a porch pillar.

Suddenly I no longer see an urban street in New Zealand. Instead, my mind revisits a scene on a dirt road in rural Arkansas. Before me stands a solitary farm house surrounded by green pastures as far as the eye can see. An old wooden swing hangs by two silver chains from the light blue ceiling of the wide front porch.

An upended old wooden crate on an urban front porch. A swaying old wooden swing on a rural farmhouse porch. Both wait for their owners to return and sit, when they will once again be silent participants in an ancient custom that transcends cultures and generations.

Do you sit on your front porch and share the day's end with family or neighbors?

Please help me become the next Wyndham Women on Their Way travel blogger. Just click here. Then click on the "like" next to the green thumb. Just two clicks will help me pursue my goals. Thanks!!

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Writing Tools List. A Magnifying Glass?!

My tools for writing are my experiences as a mom, a black spiral notebook and a blue Bic ink pen, and my ruby red Dell laptop. A cup of hot tea and some form of chocolate also help the writing process, but they are optional.

Inspiration Tool

Probably 80 percent of my writing relates to my role as a mom of four. Sometimes I share stories about the antics of my children, like when Will wanted to sell his little brother. Other times I give a tip I've learned for managing life with children in the house.

Ideas List

Writing ideas often come when I least expect them. Like at bed time when my 8 year old asks for tomorrow to be Opposite Day so he can write only wrong answers on his school work. That's when my small black spiral notebook and blue Bic ink pen come in handy. I just jot down his funny quote in my book and save it for a day I'm looking for something to write about.

Writing Implement

I don't remember the last time I hand wrote anything longer than a shopping list or a brainstorm of blog ideas. Whether I'm writing blog posts, Cub Scout plans, or monthly menus I always use my ruby red Dell laptop.

Today my 1st grader also wrote a list of his favorite writing tools. What does a 7 year old boy use to write? Scissors, colored pencils, pencils, and a magnifying glass.

Magnifying glass?!

Who can understand the workings of the mind of a 7 year old boy? Not me!

What tools do you use to write? 

Please help me become the next Wyndham Women on Their Way travel blogger. Just click here. Then click on the "like" next to the green thumb. Just two clicks will help me pursue my goals. Thanks!!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

31 Days to Become a Better Writer :: Day 1

I was complaining on Facebook about getting out of the habit of writing (blogging) and having writers block.

Then a blub about 31 Days to Become a Better Writer appeared in my news feed. So I thought I'd give it a shot.

The Challenge: 

Write five nondescript sentences.  Look at them again and re-write them to show and not tell what was happening.  Go over them one last time and pump them full of interesting and descriptive words to really drive your point home!

Since it's 10:30 PM and I'd like to go to bed while it's still Tuesday I'm only going to write 3 sentences.


  1. I was sick.
  2. I am busy.
  3. I want to win a contest.

Show, not tell:

  1. My runny nose virus turned into a full blown head cold, complete with coughing and almost no voice.
  2. Each week I take my children to gymnastics lessons, go grocery shopping, run a Cub Scout den meeting, teach my children home school lessons, blog, and maintain a semi-clean house.
  3. Last week I entered a contest to be the next Wyndham Women on their Way travel bloggers.

Pump it Up!:

  1. "Hello," I uttered huskily into the phone. Laughing on the other end, Cindy declared, "With that deep throaty voice you might have a future as a radio DJ!" "You might be right," I answered before my shoulders violently shook with another spasm of coughing.
  2. My weekly calendar is crammed with children's activities and home management tasks. When at home if I'm not guiding my sons through their home school exercises I'm throwing their dirt encrusted blue jeans into my overworked washing machine. Once we complete our at-home work, we jet off to gymnastics lessons, or Cub Scouts, or the grocery store, or our local library.
  3. Taking my first major road trip at three years of age planted a love for travel deep in my heart. That love for travel inspired me to enter the Wyndam Women on their Way travel blogger contest. Getting paid to blog our adventurous family road trips is a dream long in the making!
What do you think? Any suggestions for ways I can improve my writing?

PS. I really did enter the travel contest and would LOVE your vote. Just follow the link and click "like." Thanks!!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Menu Plan Monday :: March 5, 2012

A new month, a new week and a new menu plan! That makes me smile. I love having a plan, even if I don't follow it to the letter. Just knowing it's there makes my life calmer.

What are we eating March 6-11, 2012?

Homemade Chili

Turkey Spaghetti, Salad and Fruit

Homemade Pepperoni Pizza, Salad and Fruit

Chicken Pot Pie leftovers

Chocolate Chip Pancakes, Scrambled Eggs, Milk

What's on your menu this week?

Recent menu plans:

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