Monday, April 29, 2013

Oven Roasted Corn on the Cob with the Husks

Corn is in season.  Since I was making some baked chicken tenders last night I decided to throw some corn in the oven with it.  I kept the husks on the corn and rinsed them with tap water.  I preheated the oven to 425 degrees and put the corn directly on the oven rack in the middle.  They baked for about 30 minutes and were perfect.  Once done, take the corn out of the oven, peel and remove husks and silks and enjoy.

Perfect Oven Roasted Corn on the Cob

- Preheat oven to 425 degrees
- Rinse corn in husks in water
- Place corn directly on oven rack
- Bake for 25-30 minutes

Quick Dinner Rolls from Scratch

Delicious and Quick Dinner Rolls
I've been making and baking our bread a lot lately.  I have missed the homemade bread and bakeries in Germany.  The traditional bread from Texas grocery stores just isn't cutting it.  Don't get me wrong, there is some good breads out there and sometimes it just seems "easier" to buy it from a store than make it yourself. However, once you start baking your own bread it's hard to go back.

Last week I made some dinner rolls and they were good but it took about 2 hours and 15 minutes for them to rise and bake.  I honestly don't have time for that very often.  It takes some planning.  The most time consuming part of bread making is letting it rise.  Last night I decided to try something new.  I found a 30-minute dinner roll recipe and modified it a little.  I used a combination of organic stone ground wheat flour and organic unbleached white flour.  I also used organic coconut oil instead of vegetable oil.  The end result was delicious! We even had them for breakfast this morning, they are seriously good!  It really took more like 45 minutes total.  I decided to change the name to Quick and Easy Dinner Rolls in just 45 minutes.  This included letting the yeast and dough rise and baking which is not bad for homemade rolls.  Of course I was preparing the rest of our dinner so if you go past the rising times, that's okay.  This recipe uses an egg, which I feared would make it cake-like but they were light, fluffy, and delicious! 

Quick and Easy Dinner Rolls in just 45 minutes
(makes 1 dozen rolls)


1 cup + 2 TB warm water
1/3 cup coconut oil (or you can use vegetable or olive oil)
2 TB active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
3 1/2 cups flour (I used 1.5 cups of organic pastry wheat flour and 2 cups organic unbleached white)


- Preheat oven to 400F. 

- If you have a stand mixer this is quick and easy.  Mix water, oil, yeast, and sugar together in the bowl with an electric mixer until well blended.  If you don't have an electric mixer use a spoon or fork and stir it until well blended.  Let it rest for 15 minutes.  It will rise.  

- Add the salt and egg, mix thoroughly. Gradually add the flour mixing with the dough hook.. If you don't have an electric mixer you can knead the dough by hand for about 6-8 minutes.

- Divide into 12 equal pieces and shape into round balls. Place onto a greased baking sheet and let it rise for 10-15 minutes. Bake for 9-10 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Rendezvous Caye, Belize

View of Rendezvous Caye from the kayak
I have wanted to go to Belize since I was 18 and got certified to scuba dive. The Belize Barrier Reef is the longest reef in the Western Hemisphere and the second longest in the world. My husband and I were tempted to go scuba diving or snorkeling in Belize but really wanted Blue Rock to see the reef as well. So we signed up for an excursion on our cruise ship called Under Water Windows to the Wonders of the Barrier Reef that also went to a private island. Our ship did not dock at the port but rather docked in the middle of the ocean. We took a 45-minute boat ride to the reef, about a 10-minute boat ride from there to the island, and then 40-minute boat ride back to the ship. It was an all day event!

The viewing portion of the tour commenced aboard the Semi-Submersible boat, Educator Too. We spent an hour on the Educator Too, half an hour on the deck and half an hour underwater. Educator Too provided an educational viewing of sea life, adjacent to the Barrier reef both from its deck and its underwater windows. The Barrier Reef is home to 106 different species of coral and 500 species of fish. Educator Too had a top deck and an underwater portion. The boat travelled along the reef so we were able to see the reef without getting into the water. Blue Rock thought it was neat for about the first 10 minutes. Then he wanted to play with this other little boy on the boat while we continued touring the reef.  Our excursion is perfect for someone who would like to see the reefs without getting into the water.  Although at the beach you would probably want to have your swim suit because the perfect 81 degree temperature of the water is worth swimming in.  Although you could easily sit on a beach chair and enjoy the view.

After the underwater tour we went to the private island, Rendezvous Caye, and enjoyed its protected, pristine, placid waters and soft white sandy beach. Rendezvous Caye is the smallest island I have ever seen in person or been too. It is tiny and literally in the middle of nowhere surrounded by water. On the island they sold hamburgers, hot dogs, and fresh coconut juice. Nobody lives on the island so the workers commute via boat everyday. We were provided beach mats and water floats. We could kayak, snorkel, float, and swim in the beautiful water. Blue Rock of course loved it as did we! The three of us swam, played on the beach, and kayaked which was fun. I'd love to go back and visit Belize City and do a few other things in Belize. However, I'm so glad we did something that we could all do as a family. Belize is gorgeous! A place I would love to visit again. This was Blue Rock's first time to kayak and he enjoyed it. We don't got to every country twice but we would certainly visit Belize again.  This was Blue Rock's 21st country to visit. Here are some pictures from beautiful Belize.

On the way to our excursion

Educator Too
Inside the Educator Too, viewing the reef

Some fish who live on the reef

Blue Rock enjoying the coconut

Cute little hut!

Swimming along in Belize

Where our tender boat docked on the island

Family kayaking

Blue Rock enjoying one of the floats

Building a sand castle with another friend he met

Rendezvous Caye from the boat leaving the island, tiny island!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Clear Kayaking and Snorkeling in Cozumel, Mexico

This was my third time to visit Cozumel and my husband's 2nd. We went here together in 2007, when we sailed Carnival Conquest.  This time we sailed Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas, loved the ship! Since we were familiar with the island and we knew Blue Rock liked the kid's area on the ship, we decided we would have a date excursion in Cozumel and them take Blue Rock around after our adult excursion. We decided to go clear kayaking and snorkeling. Kids 8 and under were not allowed on this excursion mainly because a lot of swimming was involved as well as kayaking. From my experience, scuba diving and snorkeling are two of the more enjoyable things to do in Cozumel.  The beaches tend to be pretty rocky so it's better to be in the water than on the shore.  

We are attached parents and we are very guarded about who watches our son.  Thankfully he's at an age where he tells us what he did when he's away from us and we can tell by his mannerisms if something doesn't seem  quite right.  A few things I liked about the kids club on the ship was there are video cameras, the staff is trained in CPR among other things, and he really did have a good time.  There is also always at least two people on staff and more than one kid.  It was a tough decision doing our own thing for part of the day but we figured some people have family to leave their kids with and they are gone a week or more. Since we don't have that option, we decided to take the ship's option of taking an excursion while their awesome kid's staff watched our precious boy. I have to tell you, we did have a lot of fun doing something together like this. After almost 4 years of taking our child with us everywhere we go, it was a nice break. We of course missed him even though we were not gone that long. We probably missed him more than he missed us because of all the fun he was having. :)

Our tour took us by taxi to Playa Uvas, a private beach with a small pool and beach. We started off snorkeling. We snorkeled for about 45 minutes. Our guide led our group all around. Then we went kayaking for about 45 minutes. Our guide took us to see a dolphin show in our awesome clear kayaks. After snorkeling and kayaking we were able to hang out on the beach for as long as we wanted. Two drinks were included, one bottle of water and then anything else we wanted. Fruit plates were also included. We bought two hammock chairs for our patio at home and relaxed a little bit but were ready to get back to Blue Rock and let him see Cozumel.

We paid $69 per person to go kayaking and snorkeling in Cozumel.  You could do something like this cheaper if you don't go with the ship.  We of course were playing it safe on this trip and were not going to take any chances especially leaving our child on a ship while we were doing something else. Honestly, though, I think you would be pretty safe doing your own thing.

Things to do in Cozumel on a cruise excursion: 

- Book through your ship or book online and take a cab to go snorkeling at Playa Uvas.
- Take a taxi to Paradise Beach, which does have more white sand.  The taxi will cost about $5 each way and $2 for a beach chair.  They have fun activities that you can do for $12 a person more.  We met several people on the ship who did this.
- Take a taxi to Chankanaab Park and see dolphins and sea lions.
- Rent a car and drive around the island.  This is what my husband and I did in 2007.  Our sailing trip got cancelled due to weather.
- Take a taxi and go to Discover Mexico Park.
- Visit Stingray Beach.
- Go scuba diving or snorkeling with Diver Down Cozumel.  You can book a your excursion if you're certified or if you just want to learn how.  It's a lot cheaper than booking through the ship. 
- Meet up with one of the excursion companies that is advertising when you get off the ship.  You can go parasailing, fishing, take a tour of the island, see a chocolate factory.  There are so many great things to do.

These are some of my suggested excursions that I would take whether you are on a cruise ship or not.

When we got back to the ship we didn't have as much time as we hoped to take Blue Rock around.  We were hoping to be able to take him to the beach but we feared not making it back to the ship in time since we had to go through customs before boarding.  He really wanted to go to the beach and swim but sadly we didn't have time to take a taxi so he got to see the port area instead. Next time we visit we will take him to the beach, probably Paradise Beach.

Overall we had a wonderful vacation. I'm so glad we bought an underwater camera. When you visit such beautiful pristine waters, it's nice to be able to take some pictures of fish and people. We bought the Nikon Coolpix AW100 from Amazon the week before we left.  It is a great camera and can go underwater to a depth of 33 ft.  I think the picture and movie quality is great for the price of the camera. I'll write a review on it later.

Our family loves traveling and we look forward to seeing more of the world. Blue Rock has now been to 22 countries, not bad for a 3 year old. My husband and I have been to over 30. After seeing all the age limitations on some of the excursions we are going to wait a little while before going on an Alaska cruise. We want to make sure Blue Rock is old enough for all the excursions in Alaska. Caribbean cruises are nice because the beaches are so lovely so kids can have fun playing in the sand and water at any age. Cruising is one of my favorite ways to travel, so easy and for the most part pretty stress free.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Having Tools

This morning at my ladies Bible study, we studied the prophetess Anna.  There is not a whole lot said about this woman in Luke 2, but a lot we can learn from her.  She was married only 7 years before her husband died.  She lived, worked, and prayed in the temple and was 84. One significant thing about her was that she was the first prophet to see and share the news of Jesus.  Another amazing thing was that she didn't remarry.  Rather she devoted her life to God.

One of the questions we discussed today was, how do we handle difficulties and abundance?  Anyone who lives long enough is going to experience unfortunate events and hopefully some joys.  Also, who do we call on when we are in need?

In March I went on a ladies retreat with my church called Pursued.  One thing I loved about it was not only finding the true freedom in Christ and fully realizing that he has forgiven me but also that to fight Satan we need tools.  So when the questions above were asked, my response was that when facing trials, I need to get the tools to handle the situation.

Sometimes something sad or horrible happens and all you can do is try and survive in that moment.  After each of my miscarriages, for example, I thought the world was over.  I felt like God had something against me.  It brought back deep, painful memories of my childhood.  God took my mother when I was a child, and I know that if He wanted to, He could have let her live.  In the same way, if God wanted to, He could have saved my babies and let them come to term and be healthy children.  For some reason this was not His will.  I have really struggled with this over the years.  After my last miscarriage in December I became very angry at God.  This is not something that I had done before.  I guess growing up I felt it was wrong to be mad at Him.  Boy have I grown!  Not only have I realized it is okay to be mad sometimes, God can handle it.  Sometimes I think maybe I was not leaning on Him like I should.  Through my sorrows I have become closer to Him.

I really struggled with jealousy of seeing some of the most "awful" people have an abundance of children.  I would ask God, why?  Why them and not me?  It can really drive you crazy.  I had to first stop comparing myself to others.  This was hard for me.  It seems like our culture teaches us to compare ourselves to others.  To get through this grief I have learned to look at the positives in my life.  I count my blessings.  One of my biggest blessings is my son.  God is good, I had my son in a foreign country without family around.  He is healthy, beautiful, happy, and smart.  Another blessing I have is that I have an amazing husband.  I truly do.  He's not perfect, nobody is, but he is perfect for me.  I am also blessed with wonderful friends and family.

Lastly I learned that I must have my toolbox ready.  To do this I first have to stay connected to others.  This doesn't mean I always have to have every tool but maybe a friend has the tool I need or knows someone who does.  It's funny how when you are already down in the pits there will always be at least one person, sometimes a number of people who say things to you thinking they are being helpful that just bring you down even more.  One day I'll write a post of what not to say to someone who has had a miscarriage.  Thankfully, however, there are some true angel-like people who know just what to say or just how to help when you need it the most.  I encourage you to find the tools you need.  Surround yourself with Christian friends who can help and encourage you.  Read and study the Bible.  It can be comforting knowing that many awesome and godly people in the Bible questioned God from time to time.  Don't stop living and growing, reach out for help.  Anna didn't stop living after her husband died of 7 years.  Rather she blessed many people who came to the temple by devoting her time there, praying and fasting.  In return she got to witness the Messiah.  When things are going smoothly and even if they aren't, I want to encourage you to also reach out and help someone else have the tools they need. When we bless others we in return are blessed. 

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NIV)

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

How to cook broccoli that has flowered

When we got home from vacation everything in my garden was still growing well except my broccoli.  My broccoli had sprouted flowers!  Not sure what to do, I asked my garden community for help.  It turns out that my broccoli probably didn't get enough water.  I was really bummed to not be able to eat our broccoli until someone mentioned that broccoli flowers were edible.  After doing a little research I discovered not only are the broccoli flowers edible but so are broccoli leaves and the stalk.  I decided to cook them and see how it turned out.  It ended up being delicious and tasted just like broccoli, what do you know!  No wasting "ruined" crops around my house!

How to cook broccoli flowers


1 shallot
flowered broccoli, along with leaves, and stalks
other greens if you want, I added kale from my garden
2 Tbs oil, I used organic coconut oil
Salt and pepper to taste


Heat the oil and then add the broccoli flowers, stalk, leaves, and anything else you want.  Saute until cooked to desired doneness adding salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy! 

Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas Review

My family recently took a 7-day cruise out of Galveston and visited Roatan, Honduras; Belize, and Cozumel, Mexico.  I will write separate posts for what we did in each country over the next few days and just talk about the cruise part here.

First I have to say that this was one of my favorite family vacations.  This was my husband and mine's 5th cruise and Blue Rock's 3rd.  This was the first cruise Blue Rock has taken that has left from the U.S.  Not to say the other cruises were not amazing, which they were, but this was just fun.  I think a lot of that has to do with Blue Rock's age.  He is just at a really fun age right now.  This was our first on Royal Caribbean and has now become our favorite cruise line.  Previously we loved Holland America the best.  Royal Caribbean has a fantastic kids program.  They also have lots of fun things to do on the ship.  They had ice shows and you could ice skate.  You could roller blade, Blue Rock went rollerblading for the first time on a cruise ship.  They had a climbing wall, lots of pools, and a miniature golf.  If your child is at least 3 and fully potty trained, they can go to the kids program for free.  If they are under 3 you can pay $8 per hour like other cruise lines.  Blue Rock LOVED the kids program!  We did too.  We started off with letting him go for an hour.  Then by the end of our cruise we felt comfortable enough to let him play there while we went kayaking and snorkeling in Cozumel (he was too young for this excursion).  They also have a neat program where you sign your child up for My Time Dining.  Basically you let your waiters know and they will bring your food out earlier so you can eat dinner as a family and then take your child to the kids area while the adults finish their meal.  It was wonderful, we had a date almost every night.  Also it was neat how the kids recognized each other on the ship and even on the shore excursions.  Blue Rock made lots of great little friends.

A number of people, probably about 7 or 8, asked me if we were going to take Blue Rock with us on our cruise.  I thought it was really strange.  Do that many people have family who can watch their children while they travel?  We don't have family that is able to take Blue Rock for us.  So this was a great way for us to all to have a vacation. If you can take a vacation with your spouse alone, that's great.  However, your child(ren) would have such a great time I think it would be better to just take them with you, especially if you go on a cruise.  They also get to learn about other cultures.  Not only from visiting other countries but from people they meet on the ship.  From other cruisers to the lovely staff who works so hard to help you have a great vacation.

We tried to pick excursions that we would all enjoy.  When we were packing for the trip Blue Rock found his beach ball and a few other beach items.  He was so excited to go to the beach again!  He loved the beach and building sandcastles.  He also liked swimming in the ocean and on the ship. 
This was our first time to stay in an inside cabin.  We booked it two weeks before we left so there wasn't anything else available unless we wanted to pay twice the price for a balcony, no thanks.  The other two cruises we went on we stayed in a suite.  So this was quite an adjustment.  However, I will say, it really wasn't too bad.  The bathroom was smaller, we didn't have a window which was kind of weird, but it was dark and we all slept well at night.  We also didn't spend a lot of time in the room because there's so much to do.

We ended up buying the photography package on board.  It was such a great deal.  For $300 you got all the pictures they took and a CD with copyrights.  I'll have to do a post with some of my favorites.  This was from everyday on the cruise by various photographers with different styles.  Since we hadn't paid for pictures in a few years we decided to buy it.  We got a lot of great ones and then a number of not so great ones.  But overall it was worth it.
We saw some friends from our old church on our ship.  We had lunch with them one day and it was nice catching up.

The day before our cruise we stayed with some friends in the Woodlands.  My husband grew up with the husband and they went to college together.  They are great people and we really enjoyed spending time with them.  Blue Rock loved playing with their kids as well.
Family vacations are so much fun.  We love traveling and hope to always be able to do so.  There are not many 3 year olds who have been to 22 countries.  I think he's finally getting to the age where he's going to remember some of these places.  Blue Rock has talked about the trip quite a bit since we've been back.  My favorite way to travel is cruising.  It is so easy to just unpack once and see lots of pretty places.  Food is already paid for, unless you eat on shore or at a specialty restaurant, which we end up doing a lot of time, but you don't have to.  Overall it's a great value for everything you get.  If we could take one once a year, we would.
Blue Rock hanging out

Blue Rock loved his first ice show!

The ice skaters were amazing

My hubby and I went ice skating but Blue Rock didn't want to. 

Blue Rock did want to try rollerblading. 
Sadly, the skates were two sizes too big!  He did great though!

Our fearless climber!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Easter Cookies a.k.a. Empty Tomb Cookies

For the past few years I have been wanting to make Empty Tomb Cookies also called Resurrection Cookies.  We served them at our Easter lunch on Sunday.  My step-mother didn't like the name Empty Tomb Cookies so we'll just call them Easter Cookies.  Last year we had just moved into our house and we ran out of time.  So this year I wanted to make sure we had time to make these.  They took about 30 minutes to make and put on the cookie sheet for the oven.  I think just about any child would love making these.  My 3 year old loved helping me mix the ingredients and taste various things.  While we were making the cookies, my husband read us the corresponding Bible verses.  I got the original recipe here.  This is going to be a new Easter tradition for our family.  I think this recipe and the corresponding Bible verses really helps a child visualize what happened during the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Empty Tomb Cookies 


1 cup whole pecans, in a plastic baggie
1 wooden mallet or wooden hammer
1 tsp vinegar
3 egg whites
1 pinch salt
1 cup sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees--you MUST do it now. Also, gather a cooking mallet, kitchen mixer, masking tape and Bible.
  2. Read John 19:1-3 ~ Jesus was beaten for our sins; beat the nuts with a cooking mallet; set aside.
  3. Read John 19:28-30 - Jesus drank something like vinegar (gall), sniff the fragrance, dip finger in and taste, too; place the vinegar in a mixing bowl.
  4. Read John 10:10-11 - Egg whites symbolize Jesus' holy, innocent life; add whites to the bowl with the vinegar.
  5. Read Luke 23:27 - the bitter tears of the women; taste a few grains, remember your own sins; add the salt to the bowl.
  6. Read Psalm 34:8 and John 3:16 - Sweet salvation! Taste and see; add to the bowl.
  7. Crank up the mixer and let it go while you read from Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:1-3; let the mixer go for about 12-15 MINUTES; this needs to be VERY stiff!
  8. Read Matthew 27:57-60 - Fold the nuts into the egg-sugar mixture; this symbolizes the rocks in the garden.
  9. Using a scoop or knife & spoon, drop by spoon into mounds (to resemble a rocky tomb); put into the oven and turn it OFF!
  10. Read Matthew 27:65-66 - The tomb is sealed; use two pieces of tape (5-6 inches long) to "seal" the door edges (symbolically).
  11. Read John 16:20 & 22 - Consider these passages, then go to bed!
  12. NEXT MORNING: Read Matthew 28:1-9 - Jesus is risen! Behold--the empty tomb! Unseal the oven door, take out the cookies, break or bite one in half -- it should be hollow inside---empty---just like the Tomb!
  13. He is risen! He is risen indeed! Hallelujah!

    Blue Rock beat the pecans

    Blue Rock tried the vinegar

    Poured the egg whites in the bowl

    Tasted the salt

    Tasted the sugar

    Poured the sugar in the mixing bowl

    Picture of Blue Rock and Daddy

    We watched for about 14 minutes

    We folded in the nuts and then placed them on wax paper

    Right before the oven

    Blue Rock taped the oven closed

    Sunday morning

    The cookies are hollow inside-empty-just like the Tomb!
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