Archive | January, 2013

Protein Packed Salads

28 Jan

So now I am 25 weeks preggo.  Woo hoo.  Over halfway done and feeling pretty darn good.  My midwife informed me that I should try eating more protein, so here we go!


When I get hungry it is too easy to lean towards unhealthy snacks to curb my random throughout the day needs.  Instead of heading to the pantry for some chocolate chips or cereal I decided to make a few salads for me to snack on throughout the week.  I can tell you this was an amazing decision that leaves me full and feeling much better that some quicky carb snack would have.

even Soph likes them

even Soph likes them

Make these so you can always have a few delicious and healthy snacks on hand.  They are a great side to any meal and perfect for you folks out there who need a good snack that is good for you!


Southwestern Black Bean Salad


  • 1 15.5 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 9 oz frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 small hass avocado, diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 1 lime, juice of
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp cilantro
  • salt and fresh pepper

Combine beans, corn, tomato, onion, scallion, cilantro, salt and pepper. Mix with lime juice and olive oil. Marinate in the refrigerator 30 minutes. Add avocado before serving.


Southwestern Black Bean Salad

Citrus Quinoa Salad can be found here


Citrus Quinoa Salad

Lentil Salad Recipe:

  • 1 pound green lentils (recommended: Sabarot)
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1 cup halved seedless green grapes
  • 1 cup halved seedless red grapes
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped skinned and toasted hazelnuts
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)


  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 to 2 lemons)
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Salad:


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the lentils and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 18 to 20 minutes. Drain and let cool for 5 minutes. Place lentils and remaining salad ingredients in a large salad bowl.

For the Vinaigrette:

Place the lemon juice in a small bowl. Slowly add the oil, whisking constantly, until combined. Season with salt and pepper, to taste

Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and toss well.


Italian Lentil Salad

Guest Post and a Cute Nephew

25 Jan
Hi! I’m Courtney. I’m Cait’s (favorite) sister and the blogger over at Gluten Free Jesus Freak ( I’m also a full-time pastor and a brand new mom to a dear, dear little 4-month old boy. Life is very full these days!
We welcomed our little guy in September, and as fall turned into winter he developed pretty severe eczema from the dry air and his sensitive skin. The eczema rash was all over – his ankles, torso, arms, and scalp. The poor little guy scratched himself to sleep most nights, when he slept at all. After trying a variety of home remedies (oatmeal baths, Vaseline, lotions, creams, olive oil, fragrance-free detergent, Vitamin E, and on, and on, and on…) that proved unsuccessful, we finally trekked off to the pediatrician who prescribed us an ointment to treat our son’s rashes.
The only catch? Our baby wasn’t supposed to get it in his mouth or eyes.
(Are those of you with kids rolling your eyes yet? Can those of you without kids picture how hard it might be to keep a 2 1/2-month old baby from touching his head and then rubbing his eyes or putting his hands in his mouth? Yeah. Not happening.)
As a result, we’ve become big fans of baby hats in this house. We smear our little guy’s head with the meds and then put a cotton hat on to keep him from rubbing his medicine into his eyes or mouth.
This worked for awhile, but then we faced a dilemma. As he outgrew his newborn hats, it got really tricky to find cotton hats for a baby who isn’t a newborn but isn’t yet a toddler. If they’re too small, they pop right off. If they’re too big, he pulls them down over his eyes and mouth and gets really upset about it.
He had another flare-up this week, and my husband and I tried to figure out what to do. Suddenly, I had an idea.
“I’ll make him a hat!” I said.
My loving husband tried not to roll his eyes. He knows how most of my sewing projects end up. I am a big crafter but not such a great sewer.
“If you think that will work…” he said.
I disappeared into our bedroom and came back with a soft, old, cotton pajama shirt I was planning to take to Goodwill. Yes, it’s a dorky shirt. Don’t judge.
photo 3
I cut off one of the arms along the seam.
Then I tied the top of the sleeve into a knot and rolled up the bottom for a brim. I did the same thing with the other sleeve.
photo 4
Voilá! Two baby hats! For a grand total of $0.00.
photo 5
You can tack down the brim with a few stitches, or leave it rolled up so that it can unroll as your baby grows.
photo 1
It’s super soft because the cotton is so worn, so he doesn’t mind it as much as some of the other hats we’ve tried. Also – is he not the cutest baby in the history of the world?
(A word on baby eczema: We still have to use the prescription ointment from time to time, but we’ve also recently tried another home remedy that has worked wonders. It’s called a “bleach bath,” and though it sounds scary, it’s really simple and safe, not to mention advised by places as reputable as the Mayo Clinic. Follow this link for more info:

Life on the Little Fork

21 Jan

By Jared

Thoreau’s Walden Pond.  Annie Dillard’s Tinker Creek.  Wendell Berry’s Lane’s Landing.  There’s a long and marvelous history of people communicating their love of the outdoors, respect for nature, and the joys of living in wild places, by writing about their specific place – and the adventures offered in the land around us.  While our blog is about more than just that, we deeply enjoy sharing the ways our family has come to love where we live.  It’s our life on the Little Fork.

The Little Fork River is a small, meandering river in far northeast Minnesota.  Its waters take shape somewhere east of our small town, and flow west for a while before absorbing the Rice River, then turning northwest and ultimately spilling into the Rainy River along the Canadian border.  It’s often finicky on our end, relying heavily on gurgling swamps and springs for water level as it gathers the momentum that will carry it into Canada.  It can quickly change depth several feet in either direction depending on recent rainfall or snowmelt.  We’ve swam in chest-deep waters after a downpour in June, and skipped through ankle deep trickles after a dry-spell in July.  It’s our lovely spot on the Little Fork, and it shapes the way we enjoy this place.


Winter brings more stability, though not as much as you may think.  The ice forms at one level, but as the water depth gradually decreases, the ice becomes just a shell, and will sometimes pop and collapse where there’s no support beneath it.  And no amount of cold can keep the springs from doing their thing.  It’s currently -30 degrees on this clear January morning, but I can look over the bank and see fresh water spilling from the ground and sliding its way beneath the ice, ready to make the journey west and north.

We’ve spent the winter observing this river, learning about its moods and behaviors.  I’ve skied a few miles in either direction, noting the springs, soft spots, and beaver dams where the ice might be tricky.  We’ve got a pretty good grasp on the thing now, and can ski, sled, and explore confidently as we enjoy or frigid world.


We woke last Saturday, and after enjoying our family breakfast, we bundled up to go enjoy the last morning of above zero temperatures forecast for several days.  I tied a few ropes together and hooked the sled to my belt.  Cait grabbed the camera and we set off up the river to spend the morning skiing and sledding.


Our oldest child has been on a bit of a Narnia kick lately, so with a stick in her hand and her little sister at her side, she quite quickly decided that she would be the Queen of Narnia, her sister the Dwarf servant, and me, of course, the reindeer charged with dragging the sled around.  Caitlyn, by default, got to be Aslan.


This is how we spent the morning, and by the time we returned home it was time for hot cocoa, a little lunch, and a Saturday afternoon nap.  This is life on the Little Fork.

Super Quick Headband

20 Jan

An easy and quick craft.

Gotta live pintrest, I found this idea there:


Here is Aleah with the headband-


One of the great parts of this headband is that you can make a few out of a single t-shirt and you it doesn’t involve any sewing.



Love her and love that this head band keeps her curly locks out of her pretty face.

Buying Club

17 Jan

Okie Dokie folks.  I am extremely excited about this.  Probably haven’t been this pumped about anything for quite some time.  Are you DYING to know what it is???

Yeah, thought so.  Okay-

Jared and I joined a club called the Joy of Cook that is a “buying club” where you can buy organic and healthy products for as cheap as regular products.  (the website we go to is but you need a username and password sent to you by someone already in the organization)

So here is how it works- Once a month I look through the online catalogue and see what we need.  They have thousands of items for sale.  Some of the categories are frozen, bulk, dairy and refrigerated, grocery and beverages and personal care.

This month I ordered on the 8th and my items drove in a Semi-Truck from Iowa to our little town on the 16th of January.  It was so incredibly convenient and nice to shop online and have all of my random items in one place a week later.

One of the deals with ordering from this type of system is you have to buy a few more packages as you normally would buy from a grocery store.  This is nice because you will not run out of a certain item for a few months, but a bummer if one of the products turns out to be a dud.  This months order has proven to be a huge success with the family.

we are stocked up

we are stocked up

We bought enough organic coffee to last us for most of the winter, bought incredible smelling lavender shower soap, organic pot stickers that we had with sweet brown jasmine rice for lunch yesterday.  Soda from Blue Sky and Hansens that is cheaper than the soda we can get in our local grocery store.

The kids are set on healthy granola bars for the next few months as well as organic quick oats for our oatmeal mornings.  My favorite deal was the yogurt that was so fairly priced I almost started jumping up and down when I realized my good fortune.


I got 6 of these yogurts, $2.60 for 32 ounces.  Holy smoly, you can’t buy regular yogurt, let alone this yogurt, for this price anywhere.  My two friends who were with me bought 4 yogurts off of me so I wouldn’t have to freeze some.

Okay, I am excited and just can’t believe more people don’t want to be a part of this amazing system.  I am pumped about the items and am already planning ahead to my order next month.

If you live in northern MN, I would love to talk to you so you can be apart of these deals.  And if I have this kind of thing in our tiny town then I am sure there is one like it close to where you live.

Christmas Morning

14 Jan

I know we have all moved past Christmas and are now on to bigger and better things like New Year’s Resolutions and getting our houses back BUT I must show you a couple pictures I have looked through since the big day.

This is my absolute favorite- It is of Sophi walking down the stairs on Christmas morning.  I love the excitement on her beautiful face,



Jared’s parent’s drove all the way from Colorado to spend Christmas with us.  We had such a wonderful time with them and got to experience Jared’s mom’s famous carmel rolls that morning.


Jared’s sister sent some double bladed ice skates over from Michigan and Sophi would not take them off all day.  She kept saying, “These are my training skates!”  I am surprised she didn’t break her ankle that day.  And I guess the battery opperated toothbrush (hers and Aleah’s) were a big hit.


I love Christmas morning, it is fun to still feel that excitement myself but even more fun to see it on the faces of my girls.


Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.  Doesn’t it already seem like forever ago?

An Ordinary Night in the Woods

11 Jan

Originally written for publication in the Cook News Herald; Wednesday January 2, 2013; By Jared


A mentor of mine used to say, and I believe he was quoting Scripture in some vague way, “Never treat as ordinary that which has been consecrated to you.”  In other words, if something is special, treat it as such and don’t let it become mundane.

A few weekends ago my good friend and partner in youth ministry, Tom Burnett, led a trip into a remote area off the Echo Trail for a winter retreat in a rustic cabin.  We were joined by Tom’s son and five other young men from Nett Lake, and the eight of us trekked through the snowy woods with headlamps and backpacks until we arrived at the cozy, one-room cabin deep in the forest.

We arrived in the dark on Friday evening, later than conventional dinnertime, so without hesitation Tom started a fire in the wood stove for the duel purpose of warming the taco meat his wife had prepared and to establish the heat source that would sustain us through the night.  Meanwhile, a few of the young adventurers and I wandered our way through an un-trodden trail until we arrived at the sauna, somewhere between the cabin and the lake.  We kindled the fire in the stove and amply stoked it, though it would be a couple of hours before we’d return in our swimsuits.  Our headlamps then guided us to the lakeshore where we stepped out into the soft, snow-lit darkness of the vast ice field; the quiet solitude of the winter forest disturbed only by the conversation of friends.

Reconvening at the cabin, we filled our tortillas with meat from the cast-iron skillet and enjoyed our meal under the glow of lanterns.  Two of the older boys then dug through their backpacks and handed Tom packages of wild game they’d brought to share.  Tacos were followed by strips of delicious venison; and finally, the chocolate chip brownies we’d all been eyeing since arriving.  Our food settled in our stomachs and we collectively settled into the warmth of the small cabin while stories, jokes, and laughter flickered like firelight.

As the evening continued, Tom and I found ourselves in the sauna with the two youngest travelers.  We joyfully dripped sweat from our chins and occasionally slipped outside to flop in the snow or to collect buckets-full for eating and pressing against our faces in the heat.  When the fire waned we waltzed again through the darkness and this time found the cabin floor covered with high school boys sprawled out playing UNO between piles of sleeping bags and pillows.  More stories. More laughter.

Eventually we dowsed the lanterns and spread out among the bunked queen beds and spare mattresses, settling in for the night.  My experience in these sorts of settings is that this twilight time – the time in the darkness before sleep sets in – often fills itself with meaningful conversations and pressing questions from inquisitive young people.  This night was no exception.  As Tom and I lay on our backs we entertained questions about God, eternity, and the stories of our lives in which these questions become relevant.  Sleep captured the youngest first, but gradually the space between words grew longer until we all slumbered and snored until daylight filled the cabin.

The morning was spent wandering the woods, munching down pancakes smothered in tasty venison gravy, and listening for wolves howling across the wooded hills.  When it was time to leave we stuffed our backpacks and swept our way out the door, this time navigating our way by daylight on an oddly mild December morning.

“Don’t treat as ordinary that which has been consecrated to you.”  Perhaps this story would be better had we encountered a pack of ravenous wolves patrolling the lakeshore by moonlight, or been stopped by a slobbering troll beneath the Little Indian Sioux River bridge.  But this was an ordinary night in the woods in an ordinary cabin with ordinary folks.

However, it is precisely these sorts of experiences that are consecrated to us: Nights free from distraction and discord.  Nights where we can get down to the business of doing nothing.  Nights where we fill the spaces between us not with the endless noises that insulate us from one another but with laughter and warmth and thoughts about God.  Don’t treat them as ordinary.

A Reader’s Gymnastics Bar

7 Jan

The gymnastics bar posts are by FAR the most googled and looked at posts we have on this blog.  Quite interesting.  I love that families out there are not settling to spend $500 on a store gymnastics bar but are instead building them.    Way to go!

One such industrious family sent a picture of this gymnastics bar they built for their daughter.  They gave it to her as a Christmas present and as you can guess, it was a huge success.  Look at the gorgeous paint job!  Can you imagine the look on her face as she sees this masterpiece on Christmas morning?


I am so happy that this friendly reader took the time to send this picture, it sure made my day. Thanks!

Ice Globes

5 Jan

You have got to try this one.



Put 5 drops of food coloring into a balloon and fill it up with water.  Tie it up, toss it outside and let mother nature take her course.  In a couple days they will be frozen enough to peel off the ballon outside.  You will be left with a shimmering and colorful ice globe.



Note:  They take longer to freeze completely through than you would think.  Be patient and it will all work out.  I was impatient with one batch of mine and they ended up having a hollowed out look and we put candles inside, but I would rather they be frozen throughout.

Be aware, You’ll want to make about a zillion of these, it’s kind of addicting.