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Rollin’ Down the Bayou

I’m enjoying a quiet morning to myself while my family sleeps in. We’re on day 3 of our vacation, and so far we have eaten gumbo, po’ boys, fried crawfish, crawfish au gratin, broiled crawfish, étouffée, crawfish and meat pies, oysters, alligator, and pretty much the entire state of Louisiana. We may swing by Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans on our drive out of here because obviously we haven’t eaten enough. 

There’s a charm to southern Louisiana that I never expected to love. Sure, the mosquitoes are Jurassic Park-sized, and um, alligators, but the people are friendly and obliging. The accents are charming. Everything is so… swampy, but in a gorgeous way.

Louisiana Bayou (8 of 9) Louisiana Bayou (4 of 9)

We’re visiting my cousin and his beautiful wife for the weekend as we travel east for some fun in the sun. Clayton and Angel have been the epitome of hospitality and their beds have pretty much ruined me for life. (Y’all, Tempur-pedic is where it’s AT.) They’ve spoiled the kids outrageously and didn’t even blink an eye as they terrorized their house.

Okay, the kids have been pretty stinking good.

On Saturday, they took us on a swamp tour in the bayou. I think. The guide told us the difference but I was so focused on my kids not falling out the boat or getting their fingers chopped off that I was a little unfocused.

Louisiana Bayou (3 of 9)

See those fingers? It’s a miracle they’re still on there.

We saw turtles, wood ducks, great blue herons, red headed woodpeckers, water chickens, alligators, and other animals I can’t remember. It was gorgeous.

Louisiana Bayou (9 of 9) Louisiana Bayou (6 of 9) Louisiana Bayou (7 of 9)

Gorgeous.

The kids also were treated to a “let’s go to Toys R Us and you can pick out whatever you want” trip. I told you, outrageously and lovingly spoiled. We also learned that when Bluebelle tells us that she wants us to buy fireworks, she doesn’t mean sparklers and kid-appropriate little things. She means, “Hey, let’s buy a show that will rival the professional ones at the Texas Rangers’ Ballpark.” (Being close to the fireworks are apparently quite traumatic.)

I’m just saying, she should be glad I didn’t buy any firecrackers.

Clayton also let them love all over his piano and guitar.  It has further convinced me that it’s time to get one for our house.

Louisiana Bayou (2 of 9) Louisiana Bayou (1 of 9)

 

 

Well, a smaller upright. We don’t have the space for one this size.

If I could adequately convey the feelings of happiness and love I have inside me right now, I would compose a novel. This has been an exhausting weekend for my body and a refreshing weekend for my spirit. It’s so easy to get lonely and lost when you’re alone a lot, and being an introvert, it’s too easy for me to hole up and forget that there’s a life passing me by outside.

There’s a balance to be found, between living life and soaking it up. It’s so good to be with people who push you and draw you out. I forget that I used to be a pretty vibrant and confident person. It’s still in there, somewhere, it’s just taking a little while to make itself known.

Thank you, my dear family, for the weekend I so desperately needed.

Now, on to the beignets!

 

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I try to eat well most of the time. Sometimes I fall off the wagon and drink Cokes, eat too much, and gobble sugar like it’s going out of style, but I try to eat cleanly for the most part.

I’ve been avoiding most carbs and sugar all week, but I thought that we would splurge a little this morning. (Okay, so I had buttermilk in the fridge that was going to go bad otherwise.) This is something the kids really enjoy and I think it’s pretty tasty! I created this recipe this morning based on some other recipes I’ve made in the past. I tweaked my basic buttermilk pancake recipe and this is tasty enough that if you have kids who don’t really like a syrup or anything, they can eat them dry. (I know, crazy thought, but my daughter is one of those kids who eats dry pancakes. I’m pretty close to it too.) If you’re used to eating a pancake mix and Aunt Jemima, this recipe will seem really clean. If you’re super healthy, then this will seem like a splurge. It’s all in the perspective. :)

This is my personal recipe, but feel free to tweak it to make it your own!

French Toast Pancakes

 

{Mostly clean} French Toast Pancakes

1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 t. Baking Powder
1/2 t. Baking Soda
1/2 t. Salt
1 T. Cinnamon (I like lots of cinnamon, plus I think mine’s losing it’s freshness. Use less to start if you’re concerned.)
1 1/2 c. Buttermilk (more or less to desired thickness)
1 egg
2 T. Butter, melted (could substitute coconut oil if desired)
1 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
1/4 c. Brown Sugar, packed (this is what makes it “not clean.” I’m not sure what you’d want to substitute here. Honey, maybe?)

Mostly Clean French Toast Pancakes (1 of 5)

I prefer to use my Pyrex dishes to make pancakes. If you would rather use bowls, that’s cool too. I just like how the large 4 cup Pyrex pours.

Put the dry ingredients (flour, salt, soda, powder, cinnamon) in your larger bowl and stir together. I don’t sift my flour, FYI. In the 2 cup measuring cup I put in my liquids as follows: buttermilk, then egg, butter, and vanilla. I like to lightly mix it up so the yolk from the egg is lightly pre-beaten.

Incorporate the liquids into the dry ingredients.

Mostly Clean French Toast Pancakes (3 of 5)

Stir just until very large lumps disappear. Add brown sugar and stir until all ingredients are incorporated. This is important: DO NOT OVERMIX. Batter should not be runny. If it is, the pancakes will be flat. I usually have teeny tiny dry clumps. That’s okay. If your batter is too thick, add more milk or buttermilk until it’s the consistency you enjoy. Just remember to stir it, not beat it. It’s not a Michael Jackson song.

Pour your batter onto a preheated medium heat skillet. The brown sugar and whole wheat combined will make for a darker pancake. Sugar BURNS. This is important to remember, because I cook these pancakes at a lower temp than I usually do and I let them rest a little longer on the skillet. I also turn them over when they are a little wetter than I do regular pancakes. I find my when my batter starts to look a little less glossy, it’s a good time to flip.

Mostly Clean French Toast Pancakes (4 of 5)

(This is about when I flip.)

This pancake does best on a non-stick surface like this ceramic one. You don’t want to be scraping burnt sugar off your skillet.

This yields enough pancakes for my family of 4. We usually get about 8 or so 6-7 inch pancakes. I tend to get bored and make several big pancakes rather than a lot of little ones. This isn’t a super sweet pancake, but it has a little something to it. It’s also a little dense like French Toast. It tastes so much like it and it’s delicious!

I like to serve it with real butter and 100% pure maple syrup.

Mostly Clean French Toast Pancakes (5 of 5)

Life’s too short for bad syrup.

If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make your own by mixing one tablespoon vinegar per every cup of milk. You can also just try it with regular milk, but you need to pay extra attention to the thickness of the batter if you do that. Whole wheat takes more liquid, but you can just play around until you make it how you want!

Once you learn the basic recipes, you’ll find it’s just as fast to make from scratch meals and you KNOW what you’re putting in your kids’ bodies! For example, if you leave out the cinnamon, brown sugar, and vanilla, (and reduce the buttermilk a little), that’s a basic pancake recipe that I use every single time I make pancakes. If you use regular all-purpose flour, increase it to 1 1/8 to 1 1/4 cup.

If you try this, let me know what you think!

Have a good weekend!

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This world tells you that you can be anything you want to be. The options are limitless. Go. Fight for your cause. Be all that you can be. Don’t let anyone hold you back! We have the freedom to be whoever and whatever we want. We will rally behind you and champion you. Live the dream.

This is a beautiful sentiment.

This world also tells you that once you mess it up, you’ve messed it up for good. That’s the message I get nowadays. The crowd turns into the mob, or the rally turns into the jury, and you’re sitting there on the stand. On this earth, there are few second chances. Public opinion becomes the law for a very, very long time. It can range from mild to firing squad.

So often it’s a virtual firing squad.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the people on the news lately. Gone are the days when facts were reported and opinions were formed behind closed doors, discussed with family and friends. Opinions now are paraded online and it’s hard to determine fact from fiction. We’re also in such a rush to get the news out there first that people are never, ever given the full story. It’s all “developing” and we have people like Nancy Grace or whoever it is giving their opinion based on about 25% of what they’ve heard.

If the world has decided you’re unforgivable, you will live that way your entire life. 

Think about it. The likelihood of the Duggars being back on TV is slim. At the very least, it will never be in a similar capacity. The people involved in the McKinney incident will never live similar lives, and Rachel Dolezal will probably never work with NAACP again. Do you think that I’m only listing the extreme cases? I went to college with the “Twitter emoji guy” that was fired from the Houston Rockets.

He got fired over an emoji. An emoji.

I’m just asking you this: If you made a mistake, would you want it held against you for the rest of your life? Never mind that you’re a good person, or that you love your family, or that you’re kind and funny and you help turtles cross the road and rescue dogs or whatever it might be… you said “X” and you’ll never be able to live that down.

It makes me thankful I’m not in the public eye.

I am thankful for one other thing: forgiveness. While this world chooses what to collectively cheer on and what to collectively condemn, we are given full forgiveness in Jesus Christ.

“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”  Isaiah 43:25

isaiah

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” Ephesians 1:7

There are so many more verses I could share, but the truth is this: God loves us. He loves us, he created us, and there is not a single person in this world that he does not love. Every person is available to seek his forgiveness. Does everyone seek it? No.

There is beauty in this. No matter what the world says about us: that we’ve gone too far, that we’re unlovable, that we’re a nothing and a nobody, that we’re liars and fakes and we don’t belong … We have redemption through the blood of Jesus Christ! We have forgiveness — and someone who says “that’s in the past, I don’t remember it.”

We can’t change the world’s opinions, and we will continue to have our own. (Trust me, I do!) People will behave in a way that makes you shake your head in shame, no matter what you believe. There’s talk of “conservatives” and “liberals” and this world will make you believe you have to be one or the other and the other is bad. There’s fear mongering and shaming and pain beyond belief.

I believe that each one of us are loved, regardless of political and personal affiliation. Regardless of age, gender, race, sexuality, socioeconomic status, intelligence, genetic makeup, etc. This is a message I will never stop preaching and will never stop believing. I believe God so loved the whole world that he sent Jesus Christ to redeem it. That whoever believes in Him will not perish but have life everlasting.

This is a forgiveness that never ends and is not dependent on “good sins” vs “bad sins.” The world tells us that we are irredeemable, but God tells us that’s not true.

You are forgiven, no matter what the world says. You just have to accept it. Don’t believe that anyone is too far gone.

That’s a freedom that I’m living in today and I hope you are too.

“This world has nothing for me,
and this world has everything.
All that I could want and nothing that I need.” -Caedmon’s Call

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