Friday, December 7, 2018

Five Years

Five years ago this month, when I was pregnant with Jachin and Boaz, we went to Los Angeles on two separate trips for in-utero fetal surgeries to save the boys' lives. 

During these trips, we attended a satellite church of Pacific Baptist Church, which was at that time pastored by Pastor Joe Esposito. A young man, Bruce Mejia, who would go on to become Pastor Espisito's son-in-law, headed up this satellite ministry. My husband and I greatly enjoyed his preaching and were impressed by his Bible knowledge and wisdom, especially considering his age and the fact that he was single. Bro. Mejia immediately recognized my husband and told us he enjoyed listening to his sermons online. In spite of the sad and difficult circumstances that had brought us to L.A., Bro. Mejia made us feel loved and welcome.

Fast-forward a few years. After Pastor Esposito had to retire due to a health crisis, the church was taken over by those who hated our church, and pressured all who listened to our sermons to first step down from their ministries, and then to leave the church all together.

Brother Mejia, who had stayed in touch with us over the years, contacted us at this time, asking my husband for recommendations on where to go to church. It was at this time that FWBC L.A. was founded, headed up by Brother Bruce Mejia. We already knew he could preach, and lead such a satellite ministry. 

The rest, as they say, is history. Lord willing, Bro. Mejia will be ordained, and FWBC L.A. will become an independent church, next August. 

It was a special blessing to me to see Bro. Mejia preach this Wednesday night behind the pulpit of FWBC, almost exactly 5 years to the day of when we first met him, with Boaz sitting in my lap listening intently. The Lord works in mysterious ways, allowing our paths to cross.

While both fetal surgeries were a success and did indeed save the boys' lives twice, little Jachin passed away a few weeks later, presumably due to fatal flaws with his cord and his share of the placenta. Yet God in his mercy was able to use this tragedy to help bring about new life in the form of a strong new church. 

"To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified." 

(Isaiah 61:3)

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Busy Family Menu Planning now available to order!

EEEK!!! I am ***so*** excited!!

I just received the preview copy of my new cookbook, Busy Family Menu Planning. I love it!! It turned out perfect!

If you preorder your copy now, you're guaranteed to receive it by Christmas if you live in the US. For international customers, delivery in time for Christmas is not guaranteed, but chances are good you will get it in time. Pre-order now at

PREORDER BONUS: Everyone who pre-orders their copy between now and December 12th will it get a printable PDF file of the 10 shopping lists to go with the 10 menus. The shopping lists are also included in the book, but having a printable version will make it easier to take to the store, add other items to the list, etc.

The book contains 10 weeks of menus, covering 5 breakfasts, 5 dinners, and 1 dessert each week. The weekly menus and shopping lists are followed by the recipes for that week. Every recipe contains a full-color picture. There is also a section in the back of the book that covers basics and staples that can be homemade or bought ready. I have only included recipes that I can guarantee every member of the family, from a picky toddler to adults with more sophisticate palates, is sure to love. 

In all, there are 138 recipes included. All of them can be interchangeably prepared with regular all-purpose flour, or einkorn flour. Many of the recipes are designed for use with a slow cooker or pressure cooker, but contain alternative instructions if you don't have those appliances. 

More than anything, I am excited to have this cookbook for myself, and to pass down to my own daughters. It combines decades of my recipes into one easy, user-friendly volume. Many of my recipes were scribbled down here and there, not written down at all, or had metric units. Now, they are all easily accessible, and all scaled to 6-8 servings each. 

Planning menus and shopping with a list not only saves time and prevents frustration, it also helps save money as it reduces waste, and improves nutrition since you won't have to fall back on frozen or takeout meals at the last minute. 

Husbands, this is a gift your wife is sure to love, AND you will enjoy yourself all year long as she cooks from it.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

If you give a mom a paint brush...

... she'll want to paint the girls room.

If she paints the girls room, the girls will get ideas about redecorating it completely.

To redecorate, they will need to rearrange all the furniture in the boys and girls bedrooms.

When her friend comes to help paint murals onto the freshly repainted walls, she will tell the mom about cabinet paint kits to remodel the kitchen cabinets.

When the mom goes to buy the cabinet paint, she will stumble across the backsplashes at Home Depot. Seeing the backsplashes will make the mom want to replace the old tile in her kitchen.

After the mom finishes the backsplash and is almost done repainting the kitchen cabinets, she will decide to chisel off some of the old tile left behind the fridge.

If she chisels off the tile, she will discover mold under it. She will call a friend to investigate further, who will find out that the wall has mold inside on both sides of the drywall.

When the mom calls a mold remediation company, they will tell her they have to do air quality testing first.

The air quality testing will come back with astronomically high spore counts, and they will all need to move out of the house.

While they are all moved out of the house, it will be discovered that there is a roof leak, and extensive water damage in the ceilings.

To fix the water damage, they will have to tear most of the house apart and rebuilt it.

When they are done rebuilding the walls and ceilings, they will need to repaint all the rooms.

So mom will go get her paint supplies ready. And if you give a mom a paint brush...

Friday, October 26, 2018

New cookbook coming soon!

Yikes, have you noticed my blogging absence since AUGUST?? Where has the time gone?!

I have been plenty busy with back-to-(home)school, some home improvements that turned out to be much more major than anticipated (isn't that how it always goes??), and - wait for it - a cookbook I am writing and hoping to finish in time for Christmas. 

I have been wanting to do this for years. In fact, once, I was getting close to completion when the laptop I was working on had a fatal hard drive failure, and I had failed to back up my file elsewhere. Duh! That was so demoralizing, I set the project aside for years, but have recently picked it up again. The good news is, the new version is even better than the original was going to be. 

My good friend Karen previewed the menu for Week 1 for me, and did a video about it! Please watch below, and don't miss the special bonus at the end! 

My good friend Amanda also blogged about a different week here. She has a different bonus recipe on her blog to share. 

Click here to sign up for the mailing list and get the Week 1 menu plan complete with all recipes and shopping list as a FREE sign-up bonus. You will be notified as soon as the cookbook is finished and ready to ship.

If you follow the Week 1 menu and would like to do a review, please email it to Please include any links to blog posts or video reviews, if you have any to share. As a small "Thank you!" you will be sent a pdf file of the menu and recipes for Week 2.

I can't wait to have all my best recipes and menus in one place, complete with shopping lists! It will save me much time. I am also happy to have this resource available to my daughters as they approach adulthood. 

So, who else beside me is excited for this cookbook to finally come out??!? 

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Homeschooling Videos

I have released several new homeschool-related videos recently.

If you are not already subscribed to my YouTube channel, please be sure to do so if you don't want to miss any new videos.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Mother Daughter Tea 2018

As in years past, our church hosted a Mother Daughter Tea this past Sunday in honor of Mother's Day.

When we first started hosting these tea parties, I didn't even have any daughters. Now I have four! Peter got to come along because he is still exclusively breastfed, and could not have been left home without me for an entire afternoon. 

 Miriam (11)
 Rebecca (9)

 Anna (7)
 Chloe (1)

Aren't they just gorgeous?? Of course the food was fabulous, too, but it's the people I was with that made it truly special - my own girls, and the dear ladies and their daughters from our church.

I love all of my daughters. They are sweet, beautiful, kind, compassionate, witty, helpful, and just all-around awesome. I am thankful for this special event we get to enjoy together every year.


Reality shot - too precious not to include.

Through the years, our church has grown so much that we have gone from reserving one table at a tea house, to renting out the entire facility on two separate days. Next year, we might even have to split into three groups. 

Happy Mother's Day to all my readers!

(All photo credit to my dear friend, Shari. Thank you!!) 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

2018 Pastor's Wives Retreat

Last year, I was privileged to host a retreat for my fellow pastor's wives. It was both a blessing, as well as an encouragement to me. 

 Five of the seven of us last year

Ironically, the ministry is often a lonely place to serve the Lord, in spite of being surrounded by church members. The pastor and his family share the same hardships we all face in life. These are compounded by challenges that are unique to being in the ministry. Being in the ministry is very much like being a parent - nobody can ever understand the struggles and the blessings until they have been there. As with parenting, the blessings far outweigh the struggles, but it's a wild ride sometimes.

Unlike others, we pastors' wives (PWs) do not have the luxury to share these burdens with our close friends, as most of these friends are also church members. For reasons of privacy, and not wanting to burden them when our role is to serve them, we do not share our struggles with the people we are called to serve, no matter how close we are to them - no more than a parent would share the challenges they face with their children.

Which is why I love my fellow pastors' wives. We understand each other, even without going into details. We can listen, encourage, laugh, and rejoice together. We can open up, let our hair down, and find loving support. 

I could go on, but I don't want to belabor the point. All that to say, I have a desire to be a blessing to my fellow pastors' wives and thereby, indirectly, to their families. One way I do that is by hosting this retreat, which I am hoping to continue to do every year. I started planning this year's retreat the week I got back from the retreat last year - no joke!

Our retreat this year will be from August 16 to 18 near Sedona, AZ. We are staying at a quaint little Bed & Breakfast in beautiful Oak Creek Canyon. Our activities will focus on relaxing in the beautiful outdoors, eating food we didn't cook, as well as some time spent sightseeing and shopping in Sedona, and a visit to a local wildlife park. 

Last year, I asked for anyone who wished to be a blessing to consider sending a note of encouragement/appreciation to one or more of my guests at the retreat, or to send a small gift I could present them with at the retreat. I was humbled by the generosity poured out on my dear fellow PWs. 

This year, two sweet ladies from our church, Amanda and Karen, who have been my brain, heart, and hands for years have graciously offered to take over this aspect of the retreat for me. Seriously, these ladies are miracle workers. They are such hard, motivated, knowledgeable workers that I feel like the biggest sloth compared to them. They started a Facebook group for those who are interested in sending a note and/or gift to the guests at this year's retreat, New IFB Pastor's Wife Appreciation Gift Group

If you would like to send anything, please consider joining their FB group.

If you are not on FB, you could mail them directly at the church at:

ATT: Pastor's Wives Appreciation Gift (Amanda Wright or Karen Rodriguez)
2741 W Southern Ave #14
Tempe, AZ 85282

If you are local, you could also give anything to Amanda or Karen at church.

Finally, they have set up a link to donate directly through PayPal.

Please note: All notes should have the name of who they are intended for. All gifts will be shared equally among the guests (excluding myself), except those specifically made out to a certain of the guests.

The following pastors' wives are confirmed for this year's retreat:

Leslie Berzins of Word of Truth Baptist Church in Prescott Valley, AZ

Robin Boyle of Countryside Baptist Church in Port Washington, OH

Dana Fritts of All Scripture Baptist Church in Knoxville, TN

Joann Jimenez of Verity Baptist Church in Sacramento, CA

Shannon Johnson of  Temple Baptist Church in Jacksonville, NC

Heather Major of Faith Baptist Church in Violet, LA

Cassandra McMurtry of Liberty Baptist Church in Rock Falls, IL

Crystal Perry of Old Path Baptist Church in San Antonio, TX

Holly Robinson of Mountain Baptist Church in  Fairmont, WV

Leslye Romero of Stedfast Baptist Church in Fort Worth, TX

Thank you for helping me be a blessing to these dear ladies. I can't wait to share the pictures and stories from this year's retreat with all of you!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

"To Train Up a Child" negative book review

Michael Pearl is the author of the parenting book, "To Train Up a Child". I have repeatedly been asked to give my thoughts on the book. Here is my review of it.

It is not possible to give a full review of this book without also doing a review of its author. There are just too many weird and creepy things about Michael Pearl to ignore the 'red flags.' Here is my video giving more insight into his personality.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Easter photos

We had a nice Easter. We did the usual: the boys got new swim clothes, the girls got new dresses, the kids hunted for chocolate eggs, and we had a big ham dinner.

The only glitch we had was that I lost John's swim trunks after buying them, and two weeks later now, they have still not been found. Eeek!!!

A sweet lady at church took pictures of all the kids and I - it being Easter Sunday morning, my husband was busy baptizing.

Ugh, I love these people! They are such a joy to look at. 

Peter did not enjoy the photo shoot - poor little guy. He was still super cute.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Giveaway winners drawn and announced

Thank you to all who participated. Congratulations to the winners! Please leave me a comment with your address.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

New Family Photos

These are not technically "new," as they were taken last October and don't even have Peter in them yet. But they are new to me. 

Solomon (16), Isaac (14), John (12)

Miriam (10), Rebecca (8), Anna (6)

Teresa Wittenberger, wife of Paul Wittenberger of Framing the World Productions, took the pictures of the kids without my knowledge to surprise me with for Christmas. Then life with little kids happened, and I just got them this week. 

 Stephen (5), Boaz (3)

Chloe (1)

Aren't they just the cutest??

Here's the whole family and some of my husband and I - the only photos I knew of, as they were our church yearbook photos.

 includes Peter (7 months in utero)

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Recipe for chocolate-chip orange scones (using einkorn)

This recipe is a sweet adaptation of my biscuit recipe. It is for chocolate-chip orange scones, but you can change your mix-ins for different flavors.

Chocolate Chip Orange Scones

yields: 8 large scones
prep time: 10 mins
bake time: 12-15 mins


for the scones:
3 cups all-purpose einkorn flour (works with regular flour, too)
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
zest of 1 orange
1 tsp salt
4 1/2 tbsp (58 g) palm shortening, or cold butter cut into small pieces
3 tbsp (45 g) sour cream
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/8 tsp orange extract - optional
approx. 1 1/4 cup whole milk

for the glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and prepare a large baking sheet.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, stir together the flour, baking powder, sugar, orange zest, salt, shortening/butter, and sour cream until the mixture looks crumbly. Add the chocolate chips and orange extract and stir briefly to incorporate evenly.

3. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly start pouring milk into the mixing bowl until the dough comes together and sticks to the paddle in a large clump. The dough should be damp and tacky to the touch, but not runny. Tip: Allow the dough to rest in the bowl for a minute, then check again to make sure it's not too dry. Einkorn is slow to absorb liquids and fats, and you may find that you need to add more milk to get the right consistency after the dough has had a chance to 'rest.' It is impossible to give an exact amount of milk as that will depend on several factors, such as how tightly you packed the flour, how soft your butter/shortening is, the humidity, etc.

4. Scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a large surface generously covered in flour. Gently roll or pat the dough into a large circle of about 1" thickness. The top of the dough should be sprinkled with enough flour to no longer be tacky when worked with.

5. At this point, to get fluffy, moist scones, it is critical to layer the dough by 'folding and turning.' Simply fold the circle of dough in half, and pat into a circle of 1" thickness a second time. You may need to add more flour under and on top of the dough to keep it from sticking, but be careful not to add more flour than necessary or the scones will become too dry.

6. Repeat the fold and turn, then pat the dough into a circle of 1" thickness a third time. With a large knife, cut the circle into 8 equal size wedges. Place wedges on the baking sheet, being careful not to overcrowd them.

7. Bake about 12-15 mins, until the scones are just starting to turn golden. Move to a cooling rack.

8. While the scones are baking, make the glaze by stirring together the powdered sugar and orange juice concentrate. Drizzle the scones with the orange glaze. Enjoy!

Other flavor options: The possibilities are endless. Here are some suggestions:

Lemon Blueberry: Use 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries in place of the chocolate chips. Replace orange zest with lemon zest. Make glaze from powdered sugar plus lemon juice or lemon extract.

Strawberry: Use 1 cup fresh strawberries, diced, in place of the chocolate chips. Add 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract. Replace orange zest with lemon zest. No glaze necessary.

Maple Pecan: Use 1/2 cup chopped pecans in place of the chocolate chips. Omit orange zest. Add 1/2 tbsp maple or vanilla extract. Make glaze from powdered sugar and maple syrup.

 (To print this recipe, please click on the green "Print" button below. You can highlight sections of this post to delete from the page before printing. If you do not see the green "Print" button, click on the title of this blog post to bring it up in its own window.)

 Here is a video of me making these scones:

If you are new to baking with einkorn, or thinking of making the switch, I highly recommend the Jovial Foods Einkorn cookbook.

 available on Amazon

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Once a Month Meals Spring Sale

Affiliate Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Once a Month Meals. I receive a small compensation for each membership referral completed through one of the hyperlinks below, at no additional cost to the new member. 

For the first time ever, Once a Month Meals is having a Spring Sale, and it's such a great deal I just have to tell you about it!

You may know I am a big fan of freezer cooking. I rely on it to keep my sanity throughout the year, but especially after I have a new baby, I like to have about 6 weeks worth of meals ready to go. That's breakfast, lunch, and dinner for our large family for over 40 days! It sounds daunting, but freezer cooking makes it possible, and Once a Month Meals makes freezer cooking possible. 

Monthly membership is $16/month, yearly membership is $170/year. However, during the Spring Sale, the yearly membership is only $99! Use the discount code ONLYFORYOU99 to take over 40% OFF a Yearly Membership -- a full year of freezer friendly menus, meal plans, recipes, tips and more.

The sale ends Friday, April 13, 2018 at 11:59pm (EST).

OAMM offers 12 different menu types: Traditional, Slow Cooker, Instant Pot, Real Food, Paleo, Keto, Diet, Vegetarian, Gluten Free Dairy Free, Allergen, Mini, and Baby & Toddler.

With a membership, you can pick from any of their over 400 pre-made, fully customizable menus, or you can make your own custom menu from the database of over 6,000 freezer-friendly recipes. You can search the menus and recipes You can also search by a variety of other tags in such as Nut Free, Gluten Free, AIP, Diabetic, GAPS, Vegan, THM, and more!

Once you have found or made your menu, OAMM wll generate your instructions, grocery list, labels, etc. - everything you need to cook and freeze your meals in one day. The mini menus are a perfect way to get into freezer cooking, or if you have lots of little ones and cannot dedicate a full day to cooking.  

Hurry, this sale ends at midnight on Friday! Remember to use the discount code ONLYFORYOU99.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Ancient vs. modern wheat giveaway

Over two years ago, I switched our family away from all modern wheat, and went to using all einkorn flour instead. Even though we had been eating virtually 100% organic food for years by this point, which does not allow the use of GMO products, I did not realize that all wheat since approximately the mid-1800s had been hybridized and cross-bred in a form of crude genetic engineering that farmers have always practiced.

Grasses (grains) are unique in that both parent plants pass down a full set of chromosomes, which then add and 'stack up'. The original grains had 14 DNA strands. By combining two of these, the offspring plant now had 28 genes. When that was cross-bred with a third grain, we arrived at wheat with 42 chromosomes by the middle of the 19th century. Along with this genetic load came a plethora of genetic information, which by some is believed to be behind the wide-spread wheat and gluten intolerance we see today.

Einkorn is one of the original, 14-chromosome grains. Even though it contains a higher percentage of gluten than modern wheat does, the gluten is far less complex, and thus widely tolerated even by those who are gluten sensitive.

In our family, Isaac and Becca were struggling with seasonal asthma, and I would get it during pregnancy. I was also having skin issues from wheat such as itchy rashes on my arms and patches on my scalp. I did not have asthma at all with my most recent pregnancy, and we made it through the allergy season (Jan - March) that had in previous years always triggered severe asthma in both Isaac and Becca with close monitoring, but no incidents requiring a doctor's visit for either of them.

We still eat modern wheat when we go out to eat (like pizza), so it's not like we are 100% purist about it. At home, we use only einkorn. I bake all of our bread, and buy pasta and crackers ready from Jovial Foods. If it is not made with einkorn, I don't bring it into the house. But we are lax about it for eating out since none of us are actually acutely intolerant of modern wheat, it's just a way to preempt future gut and allergy issues.

I learned much of the information about modern wheat from a popular book called "Wheat Belly." It's a highly informative and easy read. I recommend it to anyone who is dealing with digestive issues, food allergies/intolerances, or wants to preempt these. Virtually all libraries have a copy of it, many even as an electronic or audio book. 

Wheat Belly does not promote einkorn, but rather only mentions it in passing. The book advocates for going grain free altogether, a step that I am not willing to take unless there were serious health concerns that demanded we cut out all grain. By eliminating modern wheat (which makes up the lion's share of all grain consumed by the average American), we prevent the digestive issues caused by modern wheat that would eventually force us to go grain-free.

Learning to bake with einkorn was rough. I consider myself an experienced cook/baker, but it took me a good two months before I was turning out bread that could be eaten rather than being good only for breadcrumbs. Einkorn is difficult to work with because the gluten is relatively weak - breads rise beautifully, only to collapse once the baking starts. The Jovial Foods einkorn cookbook is a true gem and sanity saver.

Recipes using no or quick leaven (like baking powder and baking soda) pretty much translate 1:1 for substituting all-purpose flour with einkorn, though ones that contain high amounts of fat (think: pie crusts, biscuits) are still tricky to work with because einkorn is slow to absorb fats. I haven't had much time to share most of my einkorn recipes on the blog, but there are some, such as a video tutorial for making einkorn sourdough, a recipe for biscuits, and a recipe for quick sandwich loaves.

And now for the giveaway: I am giving away

1. a new copy of "Wheat Belly", and

2. a new in the package bread proofing basket set that is used for the sourdough bread mentioned above.

These items will go to two separate people. To enter, simply leave a comment below. In the comment, please specify whether you would like item 1 or item 2, so I know which "hat" to throw your name into. Please do not say "both" just to get your name entered twice ;)

However, if you share this post through social media, you can leave a second comment for a second entry, and pick a different item than in your first comment. If you subscribe to my YouTube channel, you can comment for a third entry.

Entries accepted through midnight on Sunday, April 15th, 2018. Winner will be announced in a follow-up post here in the blog, so please check back.

If you are new to baking with einkorn, or thinking of making the switch, I highly recommend the Jovial Foods Einkorn cookbook.

 available on Amazon