foto friday: spring delight

spring delight

Today, after we returned from a run/walk, we needed a snack. So I laid out corn chips and ham slices, hunted for some salsa in the pantry and we snacked. While I went into the kitchen to get water for us, I looked out the window and thought, “I want to remember this beautiful moment,” and thankfully my iPod was close at hand and I snapped this.

Things I love about this photo:

  • the sunshine
  • the tulips on the table
  • Jackson is so big I can’t believe it
  • Nikon waiting for a morsel to drop
  • yummy homemade salsa from the Howards
  • the things on my window sill
  • the world becoming green again

Other things that made me happy on this lovely spring day:

  • a run/walk even though the world smelled strongly of freshly spread manure
  • spending 65% of the day outside with Jack
  • Vitamin D, baby!
  • a healthy prenatal check up and only gaining a lb. in the last month
  • brats on the grill for dinner
  • S’mores at our first bonfire of 2011

FROTW: chocolate dutch pancake

Last week, I was perusing the latest edition of Everyday Food (a terrific little food magazine with great recipes – so far everything I’ve made from its pages have been winners) and came across a recipe for Chocolate Dutch Baby pancake. Some call it an oven pancake, or a dutch pancake, some call it aggekage or pannenkoeken, but whatever the heck you want to call this amazing breakfast food, its delicious! 🙂

My go-to (not chocolate) dutch pancake recipe is memorized and we have it for breakfast about once every ten days. My favorite part is that it is SO fast and easy to whip up and there’s no standing over the stove/griddle to flip pancakes. They also have plenty of protein in them from the eggs and milk. At our house I have to make two pancakes for us – Kyle eats 3/4 of one, I eat 1/2 of the other and Jack eats almost 1/2 as well! I can only imagine how many will be in the oven when we have a larger family. lol.

This chocolate version is tasty and sweeter than the original recipe, so it really only needs a dusting of powdered sugar and some fresh fruit to complete it. No syrup necessary. 🙂 It would make a lovely dessert for a brunch too.

Chocolate Dutch Baby – From Everyday Food, Issue 82 – May 2011

Serves 2-4

3/4 cup milk
3 large eggs
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sifted unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teas. salt
1/2 teas. vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter
Powdered sugar for dusting
Sliced fresh fruit – we used bananas and strawberries
Whipped cream, if desired

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Put butter in a large cast-iron or ovenproof skillet and pop in the oven to melt while you blend up the pancake batter. In a blender, combine milk, eggs, flour, cocoa powder, salt, vanilla and sugar. Blend until foamy, about 1 minute. (You can also whisk all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl, but it gets puffier if you blend it.) Remove skillet with the melted butter from the oven, pour the batter in and return it to the oven to bake for 18-20 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately with fruit and whipped cream, if desired.

a girls dream

About a month ago, I was asked to speak at the MOMS group I’m a part of at Bethlehem Baptist Church. We were asked to share a testimony of God’s work in our lives, and when I thought about it, I kept coming back to the story God has thus far written in my life…

You can hear the recording of that morning here – I was the first one out of three women that shared. I typed it all up and read it mostly because I didn’t trust my memory and I knew I might cry at a couple points. 🙂 Yes, I’m a crier. As I shared what is most definitely GOD’s story, though sometimes I call it mine…I hoped that it would encourage and bless those who heard it and lift the Lord high.

A Girl’s Dream 

Psalm 139:16 – All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD, and he willgive you the desires of your heart

As a young woman, I had a secret little dream that I never uttered to anyone. Mostly because it wasn’t a special dream or a big dream – it was just a simple dream of a girl. A dream that included marrying someone I had known all my life, finding a place to settle and STAY there, raising our babies near their grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins. A dream of a cute little house in a small town, or maybe a suburb, filled with joy and laughter and a life that brought joy to the Giver of all Good Things. I didn’t grow up near my extended family – my parents were MN transplants when they moved here when I was 2 years old. Family vacations always meant a road trip to FL, MS or TN to see my grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins. We had wonderful friends here in MN that became like family, but there was always that hole without family close by.

After high school, I found myself going off to college in Indiana and that was the beginning of a journey that would, strangely enough, or should I say gracefully enough, brought me back almost to where I started from. 

This adventure of grace took me to six states and a foreign country in the five years before I came “home”. The miles were many. The lessons were precious. And the ends of chapters were often cliffhangers, the story: beautiful.

In junior high, God very clearly called me to be a missionary to Australia. He never made it clear whether this was a life long call or a short term thing, so when He brought that call to pass in 2003, and then very clearly brought me back to the US a year later due to visa issues…I looked toward going back at some point in the near future. But God had other plans…

He dropped me in Orlando, FL when I returned to the US – 2000 miles from my MN home I had left a year prior. From there, I quickly I transitioned into a job at a camp in Washington State, working as a camp cook with a friend I went to college with.

The theme of my song during all this transition and moving across the country and back again was Joshua 1:9:” Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

And He was with me. He hemmed me in before and behind – clearly making my path before me. My Father was so faithfully by my side, leading me with His kindness and bringing me into communities of sweet believers that challenged and renewed my faith. He carried me through the lonely times of living by myself in a tiny 8 x32 foot trailer and starting over finding churches, community and the best place to get groceries. He brought amazing friends into my life that became like family when I was 2000 miles or more from home and my own flesh and blood. He provided all I needed and much more.

During this time, I received my first email from a guy I grew up with in MN named Kyle. We emailed back and forth for about 5 months and then one day in July of 2004, I woke up to the fact that I really, really liked him and I knew, with a settled peace in my heart that could only come from God, that I would marry him someday.

Two years and two months later, after a long-distance relationship and the accrual of many frequent flier miles, I happily became Kyle’s wife. I married a man I’d known since we were 10 year old kids on the playground. Our mom’s are best friends. Our families shared holidays and events. I’d known him for more of my life than not. God heard my simple dream and gave me the desire of my heart.

I moved back to Minnesota just before our wedding and for the past 5 years, we’ve lived in the same small town half an hour north of here. God gave us a beautiful home and in the same breath, an opportunity to use it for the Kingdom when a friend of mine needed a safe place for herself and her four children after her alcoholic husband abandoned them. But that’s a whole nother story of God’s work in our lives.

Today I’m no longer a weary traveler…God has given me the chance to sink some roots down – into a relationship with a wonderful man that daily shows me God’s grace, into a community, a body of believers, into friendships with new friends that have become old friends. I still get the itch to go on adventures, and God has been gracious to allow us to travel, though on a much less frequent basis than in my single years, but now my adventures are in homemaking and child-rearing. Making a game out of staying in the grocery budget and blowing bubbles for a millionth time because of the joy it brings my 18 month old once again.

Today I want to testify to the goodness of God in the land of the living. Sometimes I wonder why me? Who am I, God? Why have you lavished me with blessings and good when others I know and love are going through unspeakable grief and trials that seems to never end?

Recently I read this from Francis Chan in his book Crazy Love and it gave me some perspective.

“Maybe life’s pretty good for you right now. God has given you this good stuff so that you can show the world a person who enjoys blessings, but is still totally obsessed with God. Or maybe life is tough right now, and everything feels like a struggle. God has allowed hard things in your life so you can show the world that your God is great and that knowing Him brings peace and joy, even when life is hard.

To be brutally honest, it doesn’t really matter what place you find yourself in right now. Your part is to bring him glory…the point of your life is to point to Him.”

I’ve chosen to say: Blessed be Your Name in these times of the sun shining down on me, while the worlds “all as it should be”, and I can only pray that seeing His great faithfulness over and over in my life will sustain me should the road become marked with suffering and I find myself in the desert places. He promises that this world will have tribulation, but in the same breath I know He has overcome even the most horrible things of this fallen world. I ask Him humbly for faith to walk through whatever lies ahead in the story He has written for me.

In the end, I only want to point to Him – whether the road is sunshine kissed and flower filled or dark and rife with pain.

A girl dreamed a little dream – a big God who loves that girl made it reality. He is good.

in your easter bonnet with all the frills upon it

when I was about 7, my dance class performed two numbers in our recital. The first was “Easter Parade” and the other was “Lavender Blue” – both archaic songs even in 1989! And for some reason, the lyrics to both have stuck in my head ever since. LOL. So here is our Easter Parade…photos of our family on Easter Sunday. 🙂 Sorry, no bonnets or frills to speak of!

we had a lovely day of celebrating our Risen Savior, starting with Easter songs like “He’s Alive”, “Easter Song” and “Christ is Risen” blasting on the iPod dock while we ate chocolate dutch pancakes. I sang on the worship team for the Easter service at our church and loved every note of it, then we returned to our house to host Easter dinner for both sides of our family. Other than missing my brother Josh and Kyle’s sister Anna, it was a beautiful afternoon of food and family.
Jack got his first Easter basket from Grandma Char and Grandpa Rick and had fun blowing giant bubbles in the beautiful sunshine. I loved that Good Friday and Saturday were both dreary, cool days and on Sunday morning we awoke to the sunshine streaming in the windows. It was as if God was reminding us – the SON has RISEN just as the sun is rising on this beautiful day! 🙂
I am so glad that Christ arose! And the best part is that He still lives and one day will return for His people. Praise His name!

favorite recipe of the week: fish tacos

I can’t remember where we first enjoyed fish tacos, but since we were introduced, we’ve been “hooked”. Not like your typical American beef and cheese taco at all, these are fresh tasting – bursting with bright and tangy flavors. I like to fry my corn tortillas in a little coconut oil to make taco shells too…but that’s just me. 🙂

My fish taco recipe is a hybrid of a couple I found on and merged into my favorite way of preparing them. I usually serve it with mexican rice or corn, depending on how much time I have in the kitchen before dinner. The other thing I love about them is they are super fast to whip up since the fish cooks so quickly. The deep-fried taco shells take more time of course, but you can always sub flour tortillas instead.

Fish Tacos ala’ Johanna

Serves 2

1 lb. of cod or other white fish


¼ cup tequila

¼ cup water

½ cup fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar (turbinado works well)

1 tablespoon chili powder

Marinate fish while preparing the rest of the meal.

White Sauce:

½ cup mayonnaise

½ cup sour cream

1 tablespoon sugar

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon dill

½ teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon cumin

2 tablespoons lime juice or apple cider vinegar


½ head cabbage, shredded

1 carrot shredded

Bunch of cilantro, chopped

Green onions, chopped

Lime wedges

Corn or flour tortillas

Fry or grill fish. You can batter it if you wish, but I never do. Fry corn tortillas into taco shells if desired. Top fish in taco shells with cabbage and carrots, cilantro, green onions and white sauce, squeeze limes on top. Additional accompaniments: queso fresco and tomatoes.


Here is Love

Six years ago, the worship pastor of the church I attended (and loved!) in Warm Beach, WA, introduced me and the rest of our choir to a beautiful hymn called “Here is Love”. We sang it on Easter Sunday – an Easter Sunday that remains one of the most beloved and precious in my memory. My heart was so alive to the beauty of my Jesus that day…and I belted out these poetic and powerful words with all my being.

This year I learned that this song became popular during the Welsh Revival of 1905 and was called the “love song” of the movement. It was originally written in Welsh by William Rees, and later was translated into English.

Yesterday was Good Friday and as I reflected on the death of Jesus, the words of the second verse swelled in my heart and mind as I pictured the vast and gracious tide of God’s mercy flowing from the hands and feet of Christ onto the ground, down the hill of Calvary and out to all the corners of the Earth. Oh, what love! What indescribable grace!

Though we’re not singing this hymn in our service at church tomorrow morning, its ringing in my soul as I recall His glorious resurrection. Here is Love – Christ is Risen!

Here is love, vast as the ocean,
Lovingkindness as the flood,
When the Prince of Life, our Ransom,
Shed for us His precious blood.
Who His love will not remember?
Who can cease to sing His praise?
He can never be forgotten,
Throughout Heav’n’s eternal days.

On the mount of crucifixion,
Fountains opened deep and wide;
Through the floodgates of God’s mercy
Flowed a vast and gracious tide.
Grace and love, like mighty rivers,
Poured incessant from above,
And Heav’n’s peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love.

This video is a cheesy photo slideshow, but the song is what I wanted…Here is Love sung by Matt Redman. I hope it blesses you as it did me. May you know the joy of having your sin forgiven and your eternity secured by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for you. Happy Easter!


this self-portrait thing is a learning experience for me. Last week i cut off my head. This week I cut off my foot. 🙂 Oh well. I promise I will get better – hopefully I will learn some more things about my camera as a result of this fun online photography clinic a photographer friend of mine is organizing!

Today I felt cute. Like a hot mom even. My hair cooperated (very rare these days). My makeup worked. My outfit was fun, stylish and comfortable. I bought new skinny jeans and a kicky pair of blush ballet flats with pale pink flowers over the weekend (weirdly enough, thanks to JCPenneys). A friend gave me the shirt and I already had the belt and jewelry. It was a happy bonus to have it all come together today and feel like I had it going on. 🙂 At the slightly awkward not-really-showing-much but chubby-in-enough-places-my-old-clothes-don’t-quite-fit stage, its really nice to have a day like today.

feelin like a hot mama

remembering grandma

Two years ago today, my wonderful Grandma Alice took her last breath here on earth and entered the presence of her Savior. A lot has changed in the past two years. Jackson joined our family (oh how I wanted her to meet him!), Nate was deployed, we celebrated many birthdays and two Christmases without her, and now another baby will be added to our family. Another baby that won’t get snobble-gobbled by its great-grandma. :sniff:

But I am thankful for every single day I did know her and love her. I am so glad we have pictures and videos and happy memories of the many wonderful times we spent together. And I sure look forward to the day when I will join her in heaven and see my Savior’s face.

Grandma would be so proud of the accomplishments of her children and grandchildren over the past two years. High school graduations, college graduations, marriages, births, new adventures…she would have been so excited for every one of them. I think today I’ll make a mess in the kitchen in her memory – she always encouraged my delight of cooking and baking. And I really need to compile her recipes for the rest of the family – I’ve had them sitting in her recipe box since she died and they were given to me.

I miss you and love you, Grandma. Give Grandpa a hug for me and tell Jesus I can’t wait to see Him.

foto friday: say cheese!

this photo is a little out of focus, but I just love Jack’s hilarious “cheese” face. He has become so talkative, expressive and interactive lately. Daily I hear, “mom, mom, mom, mom!” about something…it usually means he wants something, but sometimes he just wants to say my name over and over because I’ll say, “What, Jack?” and he keeps on with his mantra, “Mom, mom, mom”. One of these days I should get it on video because it really is hilarious.

say "cheese"!


one of my jack boy and I on a lovely spring day. i sure love this kid. Being a mom has been way more amazing and wonderful, and pretty much as challenging as I thought it would be. The thought of having TWO of these little people in our house overwhelms me on occasion, but I know it will work out alright and hopefully my kids will always know that I love. being. their. mommy. my other thought when seeing this photo – gosh I need to do something to my hairs! lol.

the best hugs in the world