Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A little word of encouragement. For both of us.

Ever have one of those days where you feel like you can't get ANYTHING done? Like the whole world is spinning around you and you are a slug, slowly, laboriously crawling around (that's all slugs do right?)? Like you are failing your kid(s)? Ever have, like, a week of those? A month?
You are not alone!
We all have those times. Sometimes they are just a fleeting thought and sometimes a super-funk you just can't seem to break free from.
Yesterday was a relatively quiet day. I got up, did some yoga, a few extra exercises, drank a bunch of water and had a smoothie. The little guy woke up at some point before the smoothie making (who wakes up a 4 year old unless it's necessary? That's like inviting a horror show). I felt slacky in the cleaning department, like a terrible wife. I'm a stay-at-home mom of ONE 4 year old, why in the world isn't the house always spotless? Why isn't dinner on the table on time every night? Has my husband ever complained? Heck no, that guy is a saint.
Anyway, I cleaned, laundried (that's totally a word right? spell check is telling me no), hung up some more stuff I had layering around waiting to go on the walls since we moved. Cleaned some more, organized. What was my son doing? Watching Minecraft videos on YouTube. For way too long. Why? I just didn't have the energy to do all that stuff AND entertain him/get him involved in helping me. So then more guilt. He complained a few times about a sore throat. I mostly ignored him. There is a good reason though. My kid LIKES medicine. I don't know if he really just loves the flavors or he likes me babying him. I cant pour medicine down his throat every time he asks because usually he is running around the house and yelling "Dob Glib Bab No Fa LA LA LA LA - mom my throat hurts - BOB ziddy bab DOBBLY BENAB!!!" (He loves shouting complete gibberish, no idea why). Which, if it was hurting that bad and he was actually sick, maybe he wouldn't be shouting and running right?
I actually had a plan for dinner. Which was breakfast for dinner but still a plan. I'd start with making the bacon around 4:30 and follow with the biscuits and eggs and such and have it all ready by 5:30 or so.
Husband gets home at 3:15, son wants to work out with husband. Son AGAIN complains about throat and how he NEEDS medicine. Ok fine, go get the flashlight and I will check your throat. WHITE SPOTS. Oh no, he was really sick. There are white spots on his throat. More guilt.
I called my mom and got him in to the doctor (she works at the family doctors office about 35-45 mins away). I grabbed our stuff, made Zane get completely dressed (I have to wear a shirt mom? *GASP*). Husband stops his work out, "Honey do you want me to come?" I'll admit I was surprised. He just got home from work a little bit ago and was in the middle of his workout (he has a very physical job and working out helps him wind down - crazy right?), yet here he was, sacrificing yet again. I couldn't help it, I said yes.
We went to the doctors, Tonsillitis, yuck. Went to the pharmacy, wouldn't you know - ALL the Walgreen's were out of the medicine. All of them. Supplier shortage I guess. The pharmacist actually offered to call around to Fred Meyers (right across the street). They had it, yay! So we headed over. Got the kiddo some non-medicated cough drops, ice cream, a few random things. Hey look, its already 6:30. Picked up a pizza too and a movie. We ate and watched Godzilla and collapsed into bed by 10:00. Late for the hubs since he gets up at 4am.
It all worked out but I still felt horrible. I didn't know my son was actually sick until he pestered me. He spent too long watching the boob tube(people still call it that right?). I did NOT get dinner on the table.
It's lies. Whispered in your ear. Guilt laid on thick. Sometimes Satan uses your OWN voice to disguise himself. I'm not under attack, I say to myself. I just suck at this. I shouldn't have even tried, I just fail at being a wife and a mom. Maybe it wasn't meant for me. I get disheartened and so ashamed. and then He comes, calling to me. Strongly, confidently. "Stop it. I love you "But I don't deserve it" "That's not why I love you" "I failed again though!" "Rest in Me, daughter" "But if I don't make another, better plan, I'll fail tomorrow too!" "And tomorrow I will love you still."
This is how these conversations play out inside me. Then I remember. It doesn't matter what I do. It doesn't matter what I accomplish. It doesn't matter if things aren't perfect. Nothing matters without love. If I don't do it in love, it's just meaningless. Not just love in my motivations but basking in HIS love for me. Knowing that if I don't get everything done just right, He still loves me. I'm not a failure. I'm the one He chose for this job. For this man and for our son. I don't need to fear those days. I don't need to feel guilty. I just need to walk with Him.

Wake up and praise Him. Invite Him into your day. Chat with him while you load the dishwasher or clean toilets. Thank Him for your children while you patiently(or not so patiently) teach them to tie their shoes, read, or how to apply their mascara(if you have a teenage girl that is, if you have a 4 year old boy like me then maybe wait on that). Pray over the food as you prepare it (some of us pray harder over the food). Be OKAY with everything not getting done the way you want it, just let the Lord be the one by your side as you face each day, each task, each moment. Is this easy? Heck no. It's a beautiful thing to lay down your expectations and your hopes and your plans and let the Savior take control. Let His love guide your day. None of this stuff comes instantly, you have to practice. (Practice is not the piano recital, practice is making mistakes, restarting and doing it over and over again until Beethoven flies out under your fingers).

Here are 3 scriptures that I cling to:

1 John 4:18-19: There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.

Matthew 22: 37-39: And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

1 Corinthians 13: If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

I hope this jumbled mess of a post made some semblance of sense. I wrote and erased and wrote and erased and started to scrap the whole thing. In fact I still don't really want to post this. It feels too messy. Too preachy. Too raw. It's unrefined.  I just feel compelled to share. I hope it helps you. I hope you walk away at least a little encouraged.

Much Love,

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Welcome back... self.

After an unnecessarily long hiatus from my blog, I'm back!

We had a manufactured home built, through delays, frustrations and FINALLY moving in, the blog went on the back burner. Time to light a fire under my OWN butt and get it in gear again! I cant promise daily posts but I WILL try to get on here as often as possible and let you know the cool new happenin's at Rayah's House.

I said manufactured home up there didn't I? Otherwise known as a mobile home. Dun dun dunnnnn. *ominous music in the background* I know what that can bring to mind for some of us. Old rickety, cheap and cramped. Run down mobile home parks. three non-working cars on the lawn. Yuck.

Is that us? NO! Here are some pictures of my manufactured home and a little bit about my park. We now live in a fairy tale manufactured home park. Seriously, yes there is space rent. The lowest around. Now, now, I can see your look of disdain. It's one of the nicest kept parks I've seen. There are strict rules but they keep the community beautiful. No dogs. Which was sad because we had wanted one, but ultimately the benefits far outweighed the restrictions. You know what? It's kind of awesome. In our old apartment the neighbor below us had a dog. The poor dog got left alone quite a bit. How do I know? It would back the same repetitive bark over and over and over all day. Guess what? I don't have to wake up to that anymore! They do allow 1, indoor only, cat. So of course we got one. I will introduce her later, I promise!

Since moving in, we have had so much stuff going on it's been unreal. My kitchen is huge, I looooooove cooking and baking in it! I have room to entertain and we have had several dinners with friends and family. Our son has room to play! We have a yard of our own!

I haven't had a chance to go through and take new pictures of everything, so here are some once delivery had commenced and our home was being "planted" in its spot. 

This is our front door, yes there is a new deck. It's redwood and I have Lavender, Heliotrope and Petunias on my steps! ( I can't wait for holiday decorations!)

I love my kitchen. Not only is there tons of counter space. There are TONS of outlets! The bar alone has 3 sets of plugs! The only shortfall is the number of drawers. It's just something I never even thought about. In my apartment I had 6 large drawers and now I'm down to 4 smaller drawers. Of course the junk drawer had to go. Junk has no business being in a Chef's kitchen (not that I am a REAL chef, haha)! The drawer full of parchment paper, saran wrap and foil had to go too. Heck I even got rid of the silverware drawer! Thankfully with all that counter space, I had a solution!

Oh, Mason jars, how I love thee! I left the metal rings on for two reasons. A) I liked the contrast and B) To protect the rim of the jars from chipping as we jammed the silverware in.

I have a pantry now, YAY! Pics of that to come. Today it's just my two favorite spaces.

My bathroom is awesome. The counters are high, which, as a tall lady, I LOVE! Also, double sinks! No more fighting about who is REALLY getting all that toothpaste spray on the mirror (not ME!). Also I love the little nooks under the sinks. They are great for storing all sorts of things. Currently I have extra scentsy bars down there but it's great for storing rolled towels or toilet paper.

Stall shower we two seats (sorry, I think my finger was in front of the flash).

Now I really dont think you need to see my toilet. I can assure you it's just a regular toilet. ABOVE the toilet is the fun part. I have an obsession with clunky, cheap jewelry. Most of it is actually pretty cute but it does NOT fit well into a jewelry box. I made an arty display in the corner above the commode. 

And my most favorite-ist part. My tub. Some day I will have our second child in that tub (more about that kind of stuff later but, YAY for home births).

It's missing something though. 

Ahh that's better. Candles, bubbles, lavender essential oil, a book and a drink. Now you know where I have REALLY been these last few weeks.

PS the move was super easy. Unpacking a breeze. Wanna hear my moving system? 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Salted Caramel Chocolate Coconut Bombs... For lack of a better name

So I have made these cupcakes twice now and every cupcake gets rave reviews. Normally, I try to do my baking more from scratch but since they are already labor intensive, I took a pass on these. They are sooooooo worth it.

Fluffy, soft chocolate cupcake. Chocolate coconut filling. Ermine frosting topped with toasted coconut, melted chocolate and caramel. Ugh, now I'm hungry.
In addition to the Chocolate Cupcake Recipe below, you'll need:
Smucker's Chocolate Coconut Topping
Smucker's Salted Caramel Topping (or caramel of your choice)
Ermine Frosting - DO NOT make ahead and refrigerate. Once chilled, you cant reshape it without killing it.
4-6oz Milk Chocolate Chips
1/2 Cup Toasted Coconut

Chocolate Cupcakes

1 Box Chocolate Cake Mix
1 Small Box Chocolate Pudding Mix
4 Eggs
1 Cup Water
1/3 Cup Coconut Oil (or oil of your choice)

Combine the dry cake mix and pudding mix and then mix in eggs, oil and water until moistened. Mix on medium speed for about 2 minutes. It will be THICK batter. Bake according to package directions. I got 24 cupcakes out of the batch but I like them tall and domed.

 I love tall, domed cupcakes!

While they bake, I'd recommend starting your Ermine Frosting. The milk will need to cool for a bit. Follow the link above for the recipe.

Once the cupcakes are cooled, pop the center out. I prick it with a fork but you can also use a cookie scoop or one of the little tools I have seen around that are specifically for the job. Spoon in the Chocolate Coconut Topping and replace the top you popped.

Tell me that filling doesn't look amazing!

It's time to frost! I prefer to use a 1M tip but due to all the toppings on these cupcakes, you can just use a knife and they will still look divine!

Ermine is super light, fluffy and not super sweet so it's perfect to load with all these fun toppings!

Sprinkle with toasted coconut. (I usually toast mine in a saucepan over the stove on medium).

Melt your chocolate in the microwave on 50% for 30 seconds, stir, repeat until allllllmost melted. Stir it until the remaining chunks are gone. Drizzle the cupcakes. I like to use a butter knife, dip it in chocolate and flick it back and forth. 

Heat the salted caramel until drizzle-able. Drizzle over the cupcakes. If you used regular caramel or would like a little more saltiness, sprinkle lightly with kosher or sea salt. Annnnnnnd DONE! For reference, the first ones are frosted using a knife and the second ones are using the 1M tip. Due to the frosting, you must store them in the fridge!

Knife-frosted and heavier on the chocolate and caramel.

1M tip and a slightly more delicate drizzle.

The sum is greater than all the parts though. Take a big bite!


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Nuts and Seeds Bread

I have been itching to try to make a really rich and hearty bread that isn't too heavy. I think I found it.  This is very delicious bread. Yes, it still has some white flour. It helps keep the consistency light. Man, it's good.

There is so much goodness packed in here...

I wanted something similar in style to Dave's Killer Bread, a local favorite here in the Portland area, but not quite so chewy/gummy. Don't get me wrong, I love Dave's bread. It's awesome. It's also $4-$5 a loaf.

I went to my local Winco and scoured the bulk foods, looking for things to throw in there. Next time, I think I might try some protein powder and nutritional yeast. You could easily play with the flours. I want to try incorporating coconut flour in there too. Just experiment with it!

Enough is enough, here is the recipe.

Nuts and Seeds Bread

  • 3 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2tbsp sugar
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 1/4 tsp ginger (assists in activating the yeast)
  • 2 cups warm buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled so that it is warm to the touch but not hot.
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped almonds
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed
  • 2 tbsp roughly chopped raw sunflower kernels
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds
  1. Mix the ginger, sugar, yeast, and water and set aside for five minutes.
  2. Mix buttermilk, molasses, salt, baking soda in with the yeast mixture.
  3. Add wheat flour and mix until smooth. On an electric mixer it is about 5 minutes on low speed.
  4. Mix in butter until it is totally incorporated into batter.
  5. Now, begin to add the rest of the flour, one cup at a time, keeping mixer on low speed.
  6. When dough pulls from the sides of the bowl, add your additional ingredients and knead until incorporated. Remove it from the mixer to a floured surface and knead about 2 minutes.
  7. Place in greased (I love to use coconut oil) bowl, turn to grease the top, cover and allow to rise for 1 1/2 hours.

  8. Punch down and form into two loaves. Place in greased loaf pans and grease tops.
  9. Cover, and allow to rise for 45 minutes.
  10. Preheat oven to 400F. Bake for 30 minutes, covering tops with foil if they brown too fast.
  11. Remove loaves from oven and brush with melted butter.
  12. Allow to cool in pans for 10 minutes.
  13. Turn out and cool completely on a rack. Cover the loaves if you want soft crusts.    
              Heavily adapted from Restless Chipotle's Honey Buttermilk Bread 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Waterbath Canning, Berry Jam and Vanilla Bean Honey Butter

I remember canning when I was younger. My dad (I love you dad!) would try to can these HUGE batches of foods at once, the kitchen was a disaster, and we all went a little nuts. I understand the appeal, if you are going to go to all that trouble, might as well get it all (or most of it) done at once right? Wrong! Especially when you are first starting out. Water bath canning has a bunch of different steps, they are simple but to be most successful (and complete the steps with your sanity intact) it is best to start with one type of product, get comfortable and THEN move on to a new type.

My husband couldn't wait for toast this morning!

One of my biggest secrets in general for the kitchen came from my mom. She isnt a big cook. She can cook well, it just isnt her "thing" or her passion. Let me tell you one thing though, that lady knows how to get through anything in the kitchen without it ending as a disaster zone. Rule #1 I learned as a child and my absolute GOLDEN RULE: A good cook cleans as they go. It sounds stupid simple. My dad does NOT follow this rule, my mom does. I have seen the difference first hand. Yes, you wash the same amount of dishes but it saves your sanity. Any time I have a break in the process of ANY food I make, everything possible gets cleaned up. I have a small kitchen, when it's dirty doing anything in it is overwhelming. Canning in my small galley kitchen is overwhelming if I dont stay organized. Making bread in my apartment sized kitchen is frightening without cleaning and wiping after each step. You know what the worst thing is though? Going through all the trouble of making a gloriously divine meal and having an hour long clean up afterwards because I just let the dishes pile up instead. GROSS.

Oh man, totally went off track there for a minute. Ok, back to canning.
* Always follow an established recipe. Don't just make up your own. They have specific ratios and instructions for a reason. You want your food to be safe AND delicious (oh yeah and not rot in the jars).
* Use clean, washed jars. Again, use the appropriate size per the recipe. The water bath time is for that specific jar size. Always check the rims of the jars to make sure there are no cracks or chips.
* You CANNOT seal jars using the same seals twice. To make sure I dont reuse the same lids, I write on the lid of the jar once they have sealed. Of course they can be reused just for storing something in the fridge but you cannot ensure a proper seal if you use used lids.
* Rings CAN be reused, just make sure they are washed.
* Tools are your friends! Yes, you can do it without them but for about $6 I got kit with a jar lifter, jar funnel, lid lifter and debubbler/measuring tool. That was just regular price at Walmart.

I always get out all my supplies and lay them out, clean them and set them up.

Large stock pot ( I got mine at Goodwill for a couple bucks) and clean, crack and chip free jars. 

Jar funnel, jar lifter, debubbler/measurer, lid lifter rings and new lids

Heavy 4 qt pot and berries. ( I froze mine because I couldn't use them soon enough after we picked them).

I put my berries in smallish increments in a flat bottom glass bowl and thawed them in the microwave.

Almost there...

Once mostly thawed, mash them up! It's ok if you dont get every little chunk out.

 Always measure your ingredients. This recipe calls for 4 cups of mashed berries.

Mixed Berry Jam Recipe 

Makes about 5 Half Pints (8 oz)
Mix and match your favorite berries such as strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and/or raspberries to create a delightful jam using Ball® RealFruit® Classic Pectin.

You Will Need:

  • 4 cups crushed berries, mix and match your favorites such as strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and/or raspberries
  • 4 ½ Tbsp Ball® RealFruit™ Classic Pectin
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 Ball® or Kerr® Half Pint (8 oz) Quilted Crystal Jelly Jars with lids and bands


  1. PREPARE boiling water canner. Wash jars, lids and bands in hot soapy water. Heat jars and in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set lids and bands aside. 
  2. COMBINE berries in an 8-quart saucepan.
    Gradually stir in pectin.
    Bring mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, over high heat, stirring constantly. 
  3. ADD entire measure of sugar, stirring to dissolve.
    Return mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam, if necessary.
  4. LADLE hot jam into hot jars, one at a time,
    leaving 1/4 inch headspace.
    Wipe rims. Center lids on jars. Apply bands and adjust to fingertip tight.
  5. PLACE filled jars in canner ensuring jars are covered by 1 to 2 inches of water. Place lid on canner. Bring water to gentle, steady boil.
  6. PROCESS jars for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Turn off heat, remove lid and let jars stand for 5 minutes. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lids should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

  There is intense satisfaction in hearing the jars pop as you let them cool. Gotta love a proper seal!

I love to give them as gifts with a fresh loaf of Buttermilk Honey Bread and a jar of Vanilla Bean Honey Butter! It's an easy way to bless a friend or neighbor.

Vanilla Bean Honey Butter

1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup honey
2 tbsp powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste

Beat all ingredients together until combined and fluffy. 

Sorry I don't have good pics of the butter!