Friday, May 24, 2013

banana power cookies

I am obsessed with these cookies. 

Yesterday I made a third batch in four days. 
They're chock-full of grains and seeds and nuts and fruits and the best thing is they're sugar-free! Oh and did I mention they're delicious? And good for you? 
AND you could even eat one for breakfast. Or four. Whatevs.
This recipe is incredibly versatile and the original called for brown sugar which I halved and then ended up substituting honey and they still taste fantastic. They have a slightly muffin-y texture which I personally love. You can add or take away the things you like or don't like and they'll probably still turn out fantastic. I've tried it without sunflower seeds and without walnuts and added almonds and extra raisins. You could add nutmeg and ginger if you wanted to. I've done it with or without the milk powder {it just adds a bit more protein to the cookie}. So versatile. My favourite kind of recipe.

Banana Power Cookies
adapted from Cooking Melangery

2 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. flaked coconut
1 c. oats
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 c. honey
1/3 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 c. golden raisins
1 c. dried cranberries
1 c. walnuts, chopped
2 tbsp. milk powder
4 tbsp. flax seeds
4 tbsp. sunflower seeds

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease two baking sheets. In a bowl, stir together the flour, coconut, oats, baking soda, flax seeds, salt and cinnamon. In a large bowl, cream the honey and butter with a wooden spoon until fluffy. Add the bananas and eggs and beat with a fork until blended. Stir in the flour mixture, about 1/2 c. at a time, then stir in the raisins, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries and walnuts {or whatever you're including in your cookies}. Spoon the dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet(s), spacing the cookies about 2” apart. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on the baking sheet(s) on a wire rack for about 5 minutes. Transfer the cookies to the rack and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Depending on how big you make your cookies, you can get 24-30 cookies out of this recipe.

Monday, May 20, 2013


In my ears
The Oh Hellos - Through the Deep, Dark Valley

I've been listening to this album on repeat. Over and over and over again and I can't get enough of it. Usually my life and my days are so full of noise that I don't have time right away to listen to lyrics {this isn't ideal, but it's my current state of reality} but I enjoy the musical-ness of it. After listening to this album for probably the seventh time in a row, some of the lyrics stuck out and sunk in and I realized that they are likely Christians. Which is pretty cool. I like it when people who love Jesus make great art/music.

Such great music.

And how amazing is this one:

In my heart & in my house
Pizza night

We'd already done one pizza night and it ended up being on Mother's Day with me working pretty hard to make enough pizza from scratch to feed 14 adults. I had a few helpers, but it was a bit lonely and not very much fun although I do enjoy serving people and loving them by feeding them.
Last night, though, we made pizza night a team event and I had tons of cheese graters, veggie choppers, and pizza dough mixers. The music was playing and I took the opportunity to grill one of our interns on his love life. Because I can. Ha!
I looked around at our team enjoying pizza and as I continued to roll out the dough I smiled deeply and felt incredibly satisfied. This is what I want and this is what I envision when I say I love to host people. I love having people in my home and eating together. This is, I think, the ultimate goal of hospitality. Not rushing around doing it all on my own, but the loving each other, the talking and laughing with each other and the eating and preparing together.

On my Kindle
Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist {on sale for $3.99 today!}

This book is delicious and inspiring and hopeful and exciting.
I've been reading it and wanting to shout "YES!" at so many moments, but I don't because there's usually a sleeping baby within earshot.
It's a collection of essays about life and faith and celebrating the two with friends around your table with amazing food. And how we all should do it. Here are a few quotes:

"Life at the table is life at its best to me, and the spiritual significance of what and how we eat, and with whom and where, is new and profound to me every day."

"Get comfortable with people in your home, with the mess and the chaos. Focus on making people comfortable, on creating a space protected from the rush and chaos of daily life, a space full of laughter and safety and soul."

"I want my kids to learn firsthand and up close that different isn't bad, but instead that different is exciting and wonderful and worth taking the time to understand. I want them to see themselves as bit players in a huge, sweeping, beautiful play, not as the main characters in the drama of our living room. I want my kids to taste and smell and experience the biggest possible world, because every bite of it, every taste and texture and flavor is delicious."

So good, right? Ugh. So good.

Oh did I tell you I ate grasshoppers? I was influenced by my own child. We had fried grasshoppers one night but I was putting Blaise down for bed. The next afternoon there were some left over and Jude picked one up and said, "Can I eat it?" and I said, "Sure!" and he seemed hesitant so I encouraged him to try one. He said, "Can I stick my tongue on it?" and I told him that he could and when he licked it, his eyes lit up and he said they tasted salty and then promptly stuck the whole thing in his mouth and went back to eat a few more. Then he handed me one and asked if I would eat one.
People. It's a grasshopper. It's gross looking. I could see the eyes! But I couldn't say that I wasn't willing to try something to Jude when he had just shown me that he was willing to try something new. So I popped one in. It wasn't bad. Kinda like popcorn. I was expecting a spurt or something disgusting. But it was fine. Then I even ate one again so Jamie could get it on camera. Because I'm awesome like that.

Friday, May 17, 2013

8 month letter

Dear Blaise,

Happy 8 months! Time is just flying by and I continue to be surprised by how old you are. Already.
Developmentally you are really taking on the world! In the past 2 months you've conquered sitting, crawling, pulling yourself up, standing on your own for a second {a few times} and I'm pretty sure you'll be cruising in the next week or two.

You are moving on from purees and can now eat mushy, lumpy food. Your current favourites are applesauce and butternut squash and you're not so much a fan of any "cereal" {so far rice and oatmeal} that I've made yet. But you certainly enjoy eating toast and yogurt so we've been doing a bit of that in the morning.
Oh and you like blowing raspberries when I'm trying to feed you. Which is awesome. And messy. And to commemorate your 8 month birthday, you fed yourself for the first time. With what food, you ask? Chapati. You are truly Ugandan. {And the third child. Obvs.}

No teeth yet. But there are two on the top and two on the bottom that are just ready to break through any day now.

I laughed at you a couple weeks ago as you sat on the ground, spotted an ant and started jabbing your finger at it, trying to touch it or grab it until it found the line of the tile and disappeared from your sight.

You are down to two naps a day getting up around 7am and going to bed for the night around 6:30 or 7pm. Nighttime sleep is still disjointed. But whatevs. You will sleep through the night eventually. I'm tired, but honestly? I'm over it. Moving on.

You are now babbling and will say "mah mah mum mum" if upset and sometimes "dah dah dah dah". It's cute. I like to think you are saying "Mum".

You giggle at funny things like me pushing the kiddie table along the ground or slapping the couch or Noah jumping up and down. Your brothers can ALWAYS make you smile.

You love being held by Ugandans. We think you prefer the darker skin colour. I'm not sure if that sounds racist or weird or something, but you adore our house helper {a familiar face}, our friend Uncle James who is an older Ugandan man {you rejected my arms for his!} and our night guard, Ronald. You also really love the two boys {Kevin & Roden} who have been coming here every day to help their mother with the cooking for the students' dinner. They will wave at you and make funny faces and you always stare and eventually smile at them.

Oh Blaise. I could cuddle and kiss you all day long. You are so squishy and cuddly and I just love you from the very depth of my being. You are rough and tumble and adorable and charming. You will tilt your head and smile at me from across the room and my heart melts in a nanosecond.

I am so glad you are a part of our family and I love you more each day.
You are deeply and fantastically loved. Never doubt that for a minute.


Watch Blaise grow!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

10 things that living overseas has taught me

Usually I write my best blog posts when I'm lying in bed. In my head. And then I'm too lazy to write them down on paper. And then I forget them. Sigh.
But I've been reflecting a lot on these past two years and a few things have come to mind that I didn't actually realize until recently.
So here's 10 things that living overseas has taught me:

1. I don't use as many paper products as I used to.
Paper towels and napkins are just more expensive here and it's so much easier to use a dish towel or other hand towel to mop up messes and throw it into the wash instead of using up pricier paper towels. I've also ordered about 24 cloth napkins made out of the traditional fabric here, kikoy. So I'm excited to be able to bring those back with us and use them in Canada. {But I still am using disposable diapers. *gasp* I know. I'm killing the environment. Sigh. I'm doing what I can, folks. I'm doing what I can.}

2. The value of living a slower paced life. 
It took me awhile to adjust to how slow life is and how long it takes to get things done. But I really do love it and enjoy it. It's probably not going to be replicated in Canada, but I am definitely taking this idea back to implement in a way that will work for our life in Canada. I am not for cramming schedules and packing in as many activities and extra curriculars into our lives. My kids will be better off for spending more time as a family and less time running around to every extra activity that will supposedly boost their *insert whathaveyou here*. End Rant.

3. How to drive with less road rage.
It's true. Okay so I didn't really have road rage per se, but I used to get so angry at bad drivers. Now I drive with a couple million of them. So I just laugh. Once I was driving along a straight-away and a guy parked on my side of the road but in the opposite direction pulls out right out in front of me and I slam on the breaks. Then he proceeds to shake his hand at me and give me a bad look and all I can do is laugh at him and shake my hand back. Honestly. Bad drivers. I laugh in the face of bad drivers! Ha ha ha ha! {Lion King quote anyone?}

4. How to give thanks for the hard things.
It's easy to give thanks for the beautiful sunshine and the gorgeous view and the sweet times of family cohesion, but what about sickness and power outages and screaming kids and friends and family who are hurting on the other side of the world? I definitely don't have this one down. But I've grown a lot in this area of my life and I find myself giving thanks

5. A closeness with my husband and kids that I likely would not have had otherwise.
Of course I would have been close with my family if we had stayed in Canada. But doing life through birthdays and holidays and the every days with just us has really been such a precious experience. We've been able to form traditions that are uniquely ours. We've been able to leisurely enjoy Christmas and Easter without frantically zipping around from family to family to family to make sure we see everyone and do everything. And I have loved it. I will treasure these past two years in my heart and memories.

6. Taking a Sabbath doesn't mean going to a church building.
It's no secret that we've not been the most faithful church goers during these last 2 years. But somehow we've found a way to connect with other Jesus followers and be fed from the Word whether it's through listening to sermons or reading books or just through our quiet times. I'm not going to lie, I have missed our church family back in Guelph. A lot. And I am really looking forward to getting back into a church when we go back, but I've learned that it's not the building that's important but the attitude of the heart and the gathering of believers.

7. True community and friendship often require work. Especially if you're living overseas.
For our first year here, I drove 30 minutes each way every Thursday to visit Kelly and her boys. And I would do it all over again. It was worth getting pulled over almost every time I drove to her house. {Not because I'm a bad driver. Just because...well, they like to pull people over and get bribes here.} So yeah. It was work, but it was completely worth it.

8. I don't need very much to live and live well.
I brought over 3 pots and a few pans and a couple good knives. I bought a few other things here. My fridge is a glorified bar fridge. My oven is teeny tiny. I don't have half of what I had in my kitchen in Canada. And I'm perfectly content. You better believe I'll be doing a subsequent purge of the {few} things I have stored back in Canada when we get back. It's refreshing for me and my family when we have less things. Good things, but less things. I am also feeling particularly passionate about seriously purging the amount of toys and books the boys have. The more they have, the more bored and overwhelmed they become. When we purge and organize here, they play more happily.

9. Always make more food than you think you'll need. you never know who's going to show up for dinner.
I already knew it in my heart/head, but I love hosting and feeding people. I really enjoy having people in our house and we've done a LOT of it these past two years. Whether it's visitors from Canada or Ugandan friends or other expats, we've had some good times in this house with others. It's confirmed for me that this is something that I want to continue upon returning to Canada.

10. To yearn for my heavenly home.
When we live in our home culture, it's easy to be comfortable. But when we live in a culture where we don't look like everyone else and we don't speak the language, when we stand out as foreigners, it's uncomfortable. And sometimes just "going back home" isn't what we truly want either. We discover what we should have been cultivating inside ourselves all along; a yearning for heaven. A yearning to be home and be known fully and loved fully. And ultimately that won't be found in Canada or America or Uganda or anywhere else.
This has been a tough lesson for me, and one that I haven't particularly enjoyed, but it's been the most important of them all. And I'm glad.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Make Ya Smile Monday {09}

I missed last week but it's okay. Things are crazy 'round these parts.

So last week a friend posted this video to Facebook and I couldn't help but giggle. And then Noah and Jude watched it with me and now Noah requests it. Of course he's not quite aware of the context, but that's probably for the better. Mother of the Year Award right here, folks.

Hope your Monday is full of smiles!

Thursday, May 9, 2013


I've been doing a lot of processing and ruminating lately. 

I've always yearned for authenticity in friendships. This yearning has often lead to me being someone who is guilty of "the overshare". {Here I am. Know me. Looove me.}

These last two years we've lived with a total of 3 people "outside" of our family although they've all become very much a part of ours. It's been good and sometimes tricky to not have our own space. I look forward to walking into our living room in my pajamas in the mornings. Or having a private conversation with Jamie in our living room. But I will miss having others around to interact with and build those connections with as well as see our boys do the same.

I've become close friends with Kelly during our time in Uganda and we've "done life" together - during weekly play dates and sleepovers and the rare {coveted} time we hang out with no kids. I said to Jamie last night that I am so sad this season of our friendship is over. I'm in mourning. 

I've been reading a book where the author talks about the idea of "being brave" with your friends. And I love that. Because sometimes {most times} honesty and authenticity and vulnerability requires courage and bravery. I can think of at least two friends that I can always count on to be brave and honest with me and those that I can be brave and honest with as well, knowing there's a foundation of love and friendship to rest on when the truth can hurt.

I've missed my friends and my community back in Canada/Guelph and I've experienced some sweet fellowship over skype and emails, but it doesn't compare with the face-to-face conversations I've had here and I had before we moved here.

We're not meant to live alone, isolated, without community. We're meant to live in community. Brushing shoulders with one another. Laughing loudly. Crying together. Making and eating food with each other and in each other's homes. Holding each others' kids and celebrating birthdays together. 

I'm not sure I always embraced community during these last two years, but the times I did, I don't regret. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

may THREE {on the 7th!}

Whoops. Time got away from me and I realized yesterday I hadn't taken my monthly picture of the boys.

Now that Blaise is full-on crawling, these pictures got a whole lot trickier. As if trying to get a good shot of three boys wasn't hard enough, now I have a crawling baby! Honestly.

Noah is super helpful and always letting me know what Blaise is doing when he thinks I'm not paying attention. It's sweet. He's always on "choking alert" patrol.

I've been spending extra time with Jude giving him cuddles and hugs and kisses. He has been a lot sweeter towards Blaise as well. He's still super INYOURFACE with Blaise but he loves giving him hugs and kisses.

How hilarious is this shot of Blaise? "How YOU doin'?" {I'm totally getting my boys to recreate this shot when they're older. Like these people did.}

I'm a Mama to three boys! Every now and then I have to say it out loud to believe it {as if my house wasn't evidence enough!}.

Every month on the third {or thereabouts} I take a picture of my three boys. You can view past months here.

Monday, May 6, 2013

things I'll miss 3.0

Time is moving at a pace that's far too quick for me. I keep being astonished every time I look at the calendar - seven weeks - no SIX weeks left!

We've got a team from Canada here to do some missions work with until the 11th of June and life is full and busy and tiring. The laundry is running, the floors are sandy, toys are everywhere and the evenings are loud.
But life is good and I feel like I'm trying to stay sane and go to bed early all the while soak in as much as I can before we go.

I'll miss the pineapple. The sweet, drippy, cheap pineapple.

I'll miss driving here in Kampala. I know. It's true I complain about it a lot, but I think it's a love-hate relationship. I love how victorious I feel after I've driven somewhere here. I have driven {and driven well, I might add} in Kampala. I have survived the chaos of this city. I can maneuver potholes like a boss. And I have learned how to laugh at bad drivers and foolish moves instead of going all crazy road-rage on them.

I'll miss the beautiful and cheap flowers. I've never had so many fresh flowers in my home. Ever. I'll definitely miss the flowers.

I'll miss our slow, simple life. This I think most of all. Yes, some days I feel like a hermit and I have few friends here and I rarely get out and sometimes I'm seconds away from pulling my hair out of my head, but I know that moving back to Canada is going to change all that. The rest of this year {probably} we'll be doing life at a somewhat frenzied pace. I am going to try my hardest to keep our lives simple and streamlined and filled with things and people that refresh and renew us, but I'm also keeping my expectations realistic {or at least I'm trying to}.

I'll miss our huge yard. And the freedom I feel in just sending my kids outside to play, knowing they can't actually get outside our gate. Oh I'm sure I'll send my kids outside to play as I'm all for kids getting outside and I don't buy into the myth that North American streets are unsafe, scary, traumatizing places. But really? We'll never have a yard like the one we have here. It's awesome.

We'll miss chapatis {local flatbread, similar to a tortilla}, and samosas and pork from street vendors. We'll miss cold rainy mornings,  hot middays and breezy evenings overlooking the city.

We'll miss knowing the owners at a couple different restaurants here and the perks that come with that.

So many more things we'll miss. The process of leaving is only beginning.
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