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Interview questions: Books, music, clothes, family size, menu planning, desserts, and more!

Ruthster + Moshe's fishie

This past weekend sure went by quickly! Finally, some beautiful sunny weather, and we enjoyed every bit! Kids that get us up early even on weekends means that we really do get to enjoy that early morning sunrise at 5:10am! :) And spending my evenings with Joshua (and usually tag-along Moshe who likes to stay up late!) left no time for finishing this post. Ah, well, this is perfectly good Monday Morning reading material in my opinion. ;)

Ready for 8am morning Bible time w/mommy!

I have more questions to answer! If you want to play along, scroll to the bottom of this post for the rules! :)

These questions are from Tereza:

1. What is your most favorite and least favorite parts about apartement living?

One thing I love about our apartment is that the layout is so efficient! It feels cozy and homey most of the time... unles it's a mess; then it feels small! :) We're surrounded by trees, so it also feels rather private.

I like being on an upper floor because we don't have to use the heat much at all, and the floors stay warm. (This becomes a downside in the summer though!)

We also really enjoy the heated outdoor pool here in the summer. Last year the kids did a lot of swimming, and they already have this year as well! What a life of luxury!! :)

Things I don't like: carpet in the dining room, having to try to keep the kids quiet because of neighbors below us, not having a yard for the kids to play in, and I think that's about it. :) I actually like apartment living a lot better than I thought I would when we first moved here! I think it will be nicer for the kids when we're back in a "real" house of some sort though. :)

2. Do you plan on having any more children and what are your views on letting God plan your family size?

(Read more...)

Cheesecake girl, dinner with Leah, and baby smiles

Ruth (2) wants cheesecake...

Ruth (2) was watching me photograph a slice of cheesecake (recipe not yet posted, as we're still experimenting and testing a new cheesecake pan). She came back with a fork and gave me this mean face when I told her she couldn't have a bite right then! :)

Happy Ruth

She was willing to smile for the camera though! :) Ruth's hair is so pretty down, but must be pulled back at meal times to avoid ending up in her food! :)

Flowers from Leah

On Friday night, we were blessed with a visit from another Seattle-area blogger! Leah (from Leah's Favorite Things) and her husband came for dinner. The kids went crazy over them, and were sad when bedtime came (which was almost right away). Moshe stayed up and gave cute smiles while we all played Taboo! :)

Read more for Moshe sweetness...

The end of a rainy May

What to do when it's rained all week (and the apartment complex runs the sprinklers every night, too)? Play in the puddles! :)

It requires a bath afterwards, and a load of laundry as well, but the children have a lot of fun being allowed to just splash -- and wade -- in the big puddles. We're still waiting on the weather to turn warm and sunny here... and it really better! I will be sad if the sun doesn't shine as much as it did last summer.

I get to cuddle with sweet Moshe while the older children run around outside. Moshe is so sweet and the kids often ask me to turn him towards them so he can watch their tricks! He is a real favorite around here. And no wonder: he's often smiling, always ready to listen, loves to snuggle, and enjoys all the commotion around here. :)

I snapped this photo of Yehoshua "babysitting" for Moshe. Yehoshua ended up fallng alseep there, and I found Moshe just quietly looking at his big brother. :)


I've had the pleasure of getting "interviews" with a few friends! Here are their questions to me, and my answers. See the bottom of this post for the rules if you want to play along! :)

Questions from Elizabeth:

1. What is your "dream home" like? How many rooms, how much land, etc.?

I think some land would be nice (a few acres), for things like a garden, animals, and kids playing outside. As for the home itself, I think I would choose these rooms: living room, eat-in kitchen (WITHOUT CARPET; this is my main concern! haha), 2 bathrooms, 3 bedrooms, and a room for Joshua to use as a library/study/office. I know Joshua has mentioned wanting a nice (dry) unfinished basement for things like ping pong and kids' toys. And since we're talking "dream" home, I may as well add a 2-car garage! :) I wouldn't want a large home to have to clean/care for, but yet it would be nice to be able to practice hospitality more easily, and with a large(r) family, I'm guessing that means ~1500 sq. ft. or more...

This is a hard question for me, though, since I don't foresee actually getting my "dream home" any time soon and the easiest way for me to be content right now is to not daydream. ;) It helps to be reminded of those who have so much less than we do, like our precious sponsored child through Compassion International. It's hard to feel justified in wanting "more" when others have so little.

2. What is your favorite thing about living in WA so far?

Our friends and family here. :) Going to church regularly. Seeing mountains and ocean and the long summer days that aren't too hot to get out and enjoy!

3. What kind of homeschooler do you consider yourself? By which I mean, do you lean more towards unschooling, strictly text books, unit studies, classical education, etc.?

Can I choose "some of everything"? :) And I'm such a novice homeschool mom, seeing as my oldest child is only 6. So far we're doing some text books, but we do a lot of "real life" learning too. :)

4. Have you always enjoyed cooking and kitchen creativity or is this a more recent development? Did you cook a lot growing up?

I didn't cook a lot growing up, but my mom did/does, so I've learned from watching her and asking questions. I could cook when we got married 8 years ago, but it's really been since that time that I have branched out and done lots of cooking and tried lots of new things!

Both Joshua and I enjoy cooking but I do get tired of it. I get interrupted all the time these days, with 4 kids underfoot, so it's not as relaxing as it once was. The good part though is that I've learned a lot of new healthy EASY meals and can still get a home-cooked dinner on the table and spend time nurtuting my children. They are definitely more of a priority than cooking as a hobby right now... :)

5. Where do you see yourself in ten years? Are you content with life as-is or do you have a few dreams and goals?

I try to be content with how my life is right now, but I do have some dreams and goals! I hope in ten years, I am more loving, more Christ-like, kinder, more generous, less selfish, and closer to God. We'll have teenagers by then and I pray we can maintain a sweet closeness as a family.

(Read more...)

Personal stuff, recent photos, and life

Ruth (2)
Ruth (2) intently looking at... something. I can't remember what! :)

Family updates and personal, off-topic posts have been rare here in recent months. One of the main reasons for this has been the huge amount of recipes and cooking-related things I have photos for and plan to write about.

The "food stuff" really never ends, so I've decided each weekend I'll try to have an off-topic post with pictures of the kids, ramblings about my life right now, or just whatever I feel like sharing. Hopefully this will help me strike the balance I want! :)

Folding diapers? ha, ha! :)
Moshe (3 mo.) was asleep on the floor and my boys who were supposed to be folding diapers decided to put Moshe in a cocoon instead! :)

In many ways, life since moving to Washington has been somewhat of a blur. We came to the Seattle area in November, and I think it was chilly, gray and rainy for most of the next 4-5 months! We did have a snowstorm in December, but even that was only exciting for a few days. Eleven days later, the snow was finally cleared from the apartment complex parking lot and Joshua got to drive to work instead of taking the bus!

In the Spring, as the days started growing longer (and I love the longer days here!) the children and I got out on lots of walks, exploring close to a dozen parks on foot within a 2-mile radius of our home. We had a beautiful summer here last year, with so many sunny days! We really had a great summer, and I forgot how long the winter had seemed.

Baby Moshe
Moshe (3 1/2 months old)

Pregnancy, along with lots of nausea and related discomfort, slowed me down as the days became cooler. (And darker. I will probably always think of winter here as DARK.) This past winter seemed so long, so rainy, and so tiring! And our new neighbors (below) started complaining about our footsteps. Oh, boy.


Frequently Asked Questions

I've been answering my email lately. I am, once again, resolving to do better when it comes to email. I only get a few emails each day, thanks to opting out of basically everything possible, so this really should be doable.

Especially if everyone stops asking me the same questions, over and over and over again!

So, I am writing a long over-due FAQ. The questions I get asked regularly, and more. Anything, everything you ever wanted to ask, so that no one ever need email me again!!

Okay, not really. And I would miss hearing from readers if none of you emailed me to say hi! So I won't divulge everything... but here's a start! :)

1. How do I print recipes from your site? What happened to the "printer-friendly" versions?

Right now, the only way to print a text-only recipe from this website is to copy and paste the recipe text into a document on your computer and print that document.

I know it isn't convenient, and I apologize. In the past we had a printer-friendly option, but it also included every single recipe review (and some recipes have dozens of reviews!) and an ad. That feature also posed problems when Google thought I had lots of duplicate content on this site.

So until my wonderful technical support (husband) finishes his Theology degree and has time to do stuff here for me, you'll have to copy and paste. :)

Fluffy Kefir Pancakes, served with homemade apple topping
Fluffy Kefir Pancakes, served with
homemade apple topping

2. My kefir looks funny. My kefir is too runny. My kefir is too thick. My kefir grains disappeared. Heck, my kefir looks, smells, and tastes completely normal but I want to describe it to you and get your permission before I eat it!

Okay, two things.

#1. I am not a kefir expert. Spend 8 hours researching kefir on the internet, buy some grains (not starter), and start making your own kefir. You now know as much as I do about kefir. :)

#2. Whatever it is that you want to drink, you can probably drink it. If you're still unsure, read all the comments on this post and this post.

3. What religion are you?

This is always the hardest question for me to answer! We attend a Messianic congregation. We love Yahweh (the LORD) and His Son Yeshua (Jesus) and seek to obey and serve Him. We've been saved through the atoning sacrifice of Yeshua.

Religion is such a huge topic. Feel free to comment with more specific questions, if you wish.

You can also check out these posts for snippets about our faith:

Special Days -- scroll down for Joshua's comments

Remembering the Sabbath -- tips for Sabbath-keeping and some discussion in the comments

Our "Messianic" wedding -- which was also frugal ;)

Why we don't celebrate Christmas

Challah for 'Erev Shabbat -- I love challah!

Okay, on to a lighter topic. :)

4. Will you help me troubleshoot my homemade bread recipe?

Unfortunately, not unless I had the time to actually experiment with your recipe.

I am very familiar with our favorite 100% whole wheat bread recipe, as I have made it hundreds of times over the past 8 years. If you use that recipe and something's not right, I will gladly listen and offer my ideas as to what went wrong! :)

5. I'm having trouble with my homemade bread. It's hard, or crumbly, or dense, or doughy, or too dark, or not browned enough, or......

Okay, so it could be the yeast is old, the yeast got killed, your house was too cold, the proofing time was too long, the proofing time was too short, you need to add some gluten and other stuff into your whole wheat flour, you didn't knead long enough, you kneaded too long, or you're using a bad recipe!

It could even be that you made perfect bread and then moved to a new location and now homemade bread is one giant disaster!

There is lots of info online, but you're going to have to do some reading, because it could be any one (or more) of dozens of things that are causing your homemade bread to do whatever it's doing. You can search this site for tips on homemade bread. :)

I also recommend the King Arthur's Flour website, which is a wealth of information and recipes. They even have a toll-free baker's hotline, so you can call them to ask what went wrong!

6. How do you eat the kinds of foods you have on your website without gaining weight?

I don't. Actually, it's all about portion control. And we eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies! :)

7. What kind of camera do you use?

I used to use a Konica Minolta. Last year, I got a little Olympus, intending to use it for pictures of the kids. (I got this Olympus on sale for $99 on Like the bread machine, the price on Amazon varies a bit. Watch for a low price!)

Two cameras was too confusing, so I ended up using the Olympus for food photos as well. I just use the auto settings. Some day I'll learn how to really take pictures! :)

8. So how *do* you take food pictures, then?

I divulge my secrets of food photography here. (Ha, ha!)

Any more questions that should be answered here? Ask in a comment below! :)

The birth story of Moshe Paul

Moshe's little feet...
Moshe's little feet

We thank Yahweh for a beautiful, peaceful birth of our little son Moshe exactly 4 weeks ago today!

I seem incapable of writing a short birth story. Although it's been weeks, I remember every detail. Most of those details make it into my story. Some do not. Use your imagination if you wish! ;)

Moshe, 3 weeks old

Friday... the end of another work-filled week. Even though I'm tired, I give a hearty effort to have a productive day and be ready for a restful Sabbath.

This particular Friday, January 22, I am on my feet and busy about the house since our alarm went off at 4:50am. Our youngest child, Ruth, is turning 2 the next day, and Joshua's parents are coming for lunch at our house. Such excitement!

The children and I make a pumpkin sheet cake and a poppyseed chicken and asparagus casserole for tomorrow's birthday meal. We do our usual school work, laundry, cleaning... and everything else. By the time dinner is served and the kitchen cleaned up, I'm exhausted.

"I'm SO glad it's Sabbath!" I remark to Joshua, and he readily agrees. After playing with the kids for a while, we brush their teeth and send them off to bed. They were worn out, falling asleep quickly.

I drink several bottles of water. I must be dehydrated, because these Braxton Hicks contractions are rather strong...

I suddenly realize that I've been up for 14+ hours and haven't sat down, aside from dinnertime, a single time all day. I'm not surprised that my body feels so achey... a warm shower sounds like a good ending to the day.

As I comb my freshly-washed hair, I look at the clock. "Honey, what do you think about just heading to bed right now?"

"Well... it's only 7:15. I don't want to go to bed quite this early... How 'bout I read to you?"

Moshe, 3 weeks old

Joshua and I snuggle close in our bed and he starts reading from The Promise-Plan of God by Walter Kaiser. His reading is interrupted with my questions, and I soak in explanations of systematic theology, covenant theology, and "promise plan".

But my mind is wandering. Another contraction? I really need to go drink some more water.

I go back to giving my full attention to the book, trying to comprehend what Kaiser is saying. Oy. I understand things much more quickly when I'm reading it with my own eyes!

And I'm so tired...


These contractions are noticeable, yet mostly painless. Regular, yet so far apart.

Maybe I am in labor.

And if I am in labor, maybe I will be giving birth in the next couple hours! (Ha, ha. My previous labors have been 7 hours, 3 hours, and 85 minutes long.)

But... I'm probably not in labor.


Moshe, 4 weeks old

"Tammy? Are you awake?" Joshua's voice pulls me from my fuzzy sleepyness.

"Ummm. I think... I fell asleep. Maybe we can read more tomorrow..."

I get up from the bed and head to the kitchen, drinking a bit more water.

Maybe I just need to walk around the house a little, and these silly Braxton Hicks contractions will subside. I wander between the kitchen and living room, tidying random objects and putting away the clean dishes I had washed earlier in the evening. But nothing subsides.

Rats. I am too tired to be in labor right now.

It's 9:30 pm, and Joshua puts aside his book. "Well, I'm going to bed."

It's 9:30 pm, and I'm feeling confident enough to break the news. "Ummm, Honey? I'm sorry, but I think I'm in labor right now."

Joshua's reaction is, of course, excitement! He suggests I call our midwife, and hops in the shower.

I call Charlotte, our midwife, at about 10 pm. My contractions are very regular (3-4 minutes) but not very long and I can still easily talk through them. I'm definitely in labor, but it's all so mild.

Maybe I'm one of those women who can dilate to an "8" without much pain! Wouldn't that be nice! Whee... what an easy labor.

I assure Charlotte that there's no immediate hurry to get here, but that I would like her to come soon since she lives an hour from our house. I convince Joshua to go to bed and get some sleep, telling him I will wake him when I need to.

I putter around... drinking my beloved pregnancy tea... pulling out the box of birth supplies... and getting more and more tired.


Welcome, Baby!

Baby Moshe
Moshe, 10 hours old

Praise Yahweh! We have a sweet little baby boy! Moshe Paul was born at 3:59am on January 23 (Ruth's second birthday). He weighed 7 lbs 14 ounces and he's just the cutest little thing!!

Yehoshua (5) woke up when Moshe was about 45 minutes old, and his first comment upon seeing the new baby was "I missed it AGAIN!" since he also slept through Ruth's birth 2 years ago (and wishes that some day he might be awake when a baby is born at our house!).

Baby Moshe

Eliyahu (4) woke up not long later, and came to the couch where Moshe and I were resting. He asked a couple questions and then, as Joshua wasn't in the room at the time, said "Does Dad know about this??!!" :)

And Ruth (2) ...well, she wishes that her "birthday present" could be carried around like her doll baby! :)

Moshe and Tammy

Moshe Paul was named after Moses and Paul in the Bible. Moshe is pronounced "MOE-shay". And one of these days I'll manage to get a picture when his eyes are open!

My labor with Moshe was longer than my previous two labors, lasting over 8 hours. Very different for me mentally, even though in the end I wouldn't say it was more difficult than my 3-hour labor with Eliyahu. But I'll elaborate on all that when I type up a birth story! :)

I've been resting and enjoying Joshua's immense help with the household and other children, as he's home from work this week. Things are busy, but we're so blessed! :)

Pregnancy update (36+ weeks)

I've posted one other update during this pregnancy, back in November, and time has managed to slip by without any new pictures... until this week! :)

Here is Ruth watching me try to photograph myself, her, and the "baby belly"! :)


A day in our life (focus on cooking!)

Pumpkin Raisin Cookies recipe

I don't have a very good track record when it comes to cooking ahead.

Call it once-a-month or once-a-week, I have had grand failures and then to top it all off, Joshua and I are a little snobby when it comes to our food. (Joshua heard me say that and said "A little?! Face it, sweetie... we're really bad food snobs!")

We generally prefer most of our main dishes prepared right before eating, and most of my crock pot attempts ended with both Joshua and me saying "This could be so much better..."

However... I still wanted to join in with Crystal on her Baking Day/OAMC this week. In retrospect, today was mostly like any other day at our house, except I baked cookies instead of cleaning the bathroom.... so I guess "A day in our life" is more appropriate for a title! :)

Mixes for Homemade Mocha Frappuccino

One of the first things I did this morning was to make up some Mocha Frappuccino mixes. Joshua drinks these in the mornings, and we use unflavored whey protein in the mix to make them a little heartier.

Cooking oatmeal for breakfast

Yehoshua helped me cook a big pot of oatmeal for breakfast. We made about 5 quarts and that will last for several breakfasts. (I re-warm the leftovers in a pan with milk... fast and creamy!) We eat oatmeal for breakfast often, since I haven't been able to keep up with making homemade granola and quality cold cereal is expensive (even at Costco!). :)


Family photos and news :)

Ruth at the window... :)

I haven't posted any personal updates here for quite a while, so I thought I'd share a few recent photos and happenings around our house! :)

My intention has always been to include bits of our life as I have time, but recent months have found me not feeling well and taking more time to relax and sleep!! :) I appreciate everyone's understanding as this blog has frequently had to take the "back burner" as I spend my time on more important things. :)

So for those interested, here are some pictures and family notes... (read more)