Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Consider The Ravens...

Luke 22:24
"Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them.  And how much more valuable you are than birds."
On the 3rd day that we were at Children's, we were blessed to be moved to the window side of the room.  As I nursed Zion and looked out my window, I had a view of the very tips of some evergreen trees.  On that first day, there were some little birds flitting around the top of the center tree. (Birds have a special little place in my heart, and I love to watch them.)  Anyway, as I noticed the little birds, Luke 22:24 came to my heart!  The Holy Spirit was speaking directly to me at that moment, reminding me that I am much more valuable than the birds to God and He, again, had not abandoned me, and that He would "feed" me during this time of solitude! 
{And boy, let me tell you, did He ever!}
I was sharing this little antidote with my friend Kelley as she stopped by for a visit, and then on her next visit, she brought me this sweet little tree.  She had decorated it with lights and a few meaningful ornaments to brighten my space.
One of the decorations was the bird that is pictured above. She said, "To remind you of God's promise, in case your little birds outside don't return to your tree."
She also put a Nutcracker Soldier on the tree, "to remind you that Zion will be a soldier in God's kingdom."
And the little red gift box {top left of picture}, "to remind you that Jesus is our Gift."
And a little angel to, "to remind you that God is overseeing Zion's care!"
This little tree not only brightened up my little corner, but also brought so much meaning with it!
A true treasure from a treasured friend!
Thanks for stopping by! Know that you are treasured and be refreshed!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Paper Chains...

'Tis the season for all things "countdown"...Advent Calendars, Paper Chains, Ball Dropping...

Well, this year we have a special paper chain countdown of our own:
This is how many antibiotic treatments Zion has left before we get to go home!  Every time a nurse comes in to "hook him up",  you can see a little twinkle in their eye. They are anticipating getting to tear off the next paper chain!  It has seriously brought a delightfulness to the drudgery that can overtake a day in the hospital!
Four rings represents four treatments...which means tomorrow we are out of here!!!  Probably late in the evening, or early Wednesday morning, but we are finally turning the final corner and on our way to the finish line!
Thank you again to all who have been praying, visiting, bringing meals, etc! 
We are forever grateful!!!
Thanks for stopping by!  Be Refreshed!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Christmas Love Is...

This is a repost from last year, but a great reminder as we head off into the holiday season!
{I actually have a version of this framed in my kitchen all season long!}

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime: I’m just another cook.

If I work at a soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home, and give all that I have to charity; but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir's cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child. Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the spouse. Love is kind, though harried and tired. Love does not envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love does not yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way. Love does not give only to those who are able to give in return; but rejoices in giving to those who cannot.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never fails.
Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust, but giving the gift of love will endure.

--Author Unknown

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Happy Anniversay!

Today marks the one week anniversary of our arrival at Children's Hospital with Zion!
{Gotta' keep your sense of humor!}
Honestly...we're a little tired!
Zion is doing very well...he has had 3 negative blood cultures now, so officially does not have an infection!  But - we will still be here another 7 days as he finishes out his course of antibiotics.  The IV team inserted a PICC line into his leg, and he receives his medicine through that every 8 hours.  {It has developed a bit of a hard spot just above the insertion site, so pray that it clears with warm compresses!}
We have discovered and are so grateful for:
Showering Facilities
Laundry Facilities
The Family Resource Room...
{Where you can grab a cup of complimentary coffee or tea and watch some TV or read.}
Friendly Faces
Other Patients - who keep your own situation in perspective!
Friends and loved ones who have brought meals, entertainment, help, and laughter!
Thanks for stopping by!  Be Refreshed!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Zion ~ A Name Revealed....

Ken and I are strong believers in the significance of a name!  Each one of our children has lived up to some aspect of either their first or middle names.  Think about people you know...don't you usually have an association with certain names?

So any time we find we are expecting, we begin the process of trying to discover their name...

When we began to reveal what name we would give our newest addition, we were frequently met with comments like, "Hmmm, that's interesting." Or, "Really, where did you come up with that?"

Well, it all began with this post. 
If you go back, you will find that this time last year was a very difficult time for our family.  I found myself walking in the deepest valley I had yet known.  Daily I was crying out to God to be my comfort, but in the wilderness, I was not able to see Him. (Mind you, he had not left me, only I was too focused on my own pain to really feel His presence.)  In January, God answered a simple prayer of mine that opened a path to see him.
When I originally typed the title to that post, I felt like God impressed upon my heart that we would be having another baby and naming her Jubilee.  Only a month later I found out I was pregnant, but soon lost that baby...(I posted about that here.)
Then a few short weeks after that, I was pregnant again.  I was certain we would be expecting a girl and naming her Jubilee.
Aaahhh...but God's ways are not always our ways...
When our 20 week ultrasound came along, and we had an opportunity to verify the gender of our baby, we discovered that I was actually carrying a boy! Surprise!
And so the pursuit for a name ensued!
Daily Ken would come home and open the name book and throw some names out at me.  After a few weeks of this, I finally decided that the One who created this little being knew his name and I just needed Him to reveal it to me!
God was quick to answer my prayer!
That very day, I sat down to do my daily time in God's word, when I unintentionally turned to Isaiah:51...
"Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord: 
 Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn;
 look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. 
When I called him he was but one, and I blessed him and made him many. 
 The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. 
 Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing."
My heart lept as God's promise of comfort, joy, thanksgiving and the sound of singing jumped off the page at me!
I knew his name would be Zion!
Now to let Ken know! :)
Actually, as the day progressed and I asked the Lord to open Ken's heart to the name, God brought the Days of Elijah song back to me.
These are the days of Elijah
Declaring the word of the Lord,
And these are the days of Your servant Moses
Righteousness being restored

These are the days of great trials
Of famine and darkness and sword
Still we are the voice in the desert crying
Prepare ye the way of the Lord!

Behold He comes, riding on the clouds
Shining like the sun at the trumpet's call
Lift your voice, it's the year of Jubilee
Out of Zion's hill, salvation comes!

I knew it wouldn't take much to "convince" him...God would do the work!
So, what does Zion mean?
It means a sign or omen!
Zion is a sign to me that God has not abandoned me!
He will restore my joy with thankfulness and the sound of singing!
Thanks for stopping by!  Be Refreshed!


Thursday, November 29, 2012


Today's post is really a bit of journaling...
Currently, Zion and I are at our local Children's Hospital while he undergoes treatment for an infection in his kidneys and subsequent infection in his blood. 
Sunday Zion had an especially sleepy day. With having been jaundice from day 2, he has been a bit of a sleepy baby in general, but Sunday was different.  Sunday he didn't seem to want to eat, it was difficult to wake him, and would fall asleep almost the moment he latched on to nurse.
Trying not to be a panicky mom, I ignored some of my instincts and kept moving forward in our day.
By Sunday night, he was whimpering and grunting with each breath, but still was not running a fever.
By 2:00AM was rapidly breathing and felt hot to the touch...upon taking his temperature, it was only registering 99.9...not considered a fever in a newborn.
Both Ken and I felt something wasn't right, but considering the time, and the non - specific symptoms, we decided to wait.
By morning, he was doing better...
I emailed my pediatrician and she called us by phone in the afternoon to go over what we were experiencing.  She advised us to call her no matter what time of night it was if we were to experience anything that we just wanted to run by her.  She also said, "If he does get a fever, take him right in!"
So, the day progressed very well!  He was doing better...until bed time.  We were discussing how much better he was doing compared to the night before, and began changing his diaper.  It was at that point that we realized he was feeling a bit warm, and I took his tempurature on a whim. 
Enough to be considered a fever in a newborn!
We called our pediatrician and she said, take him in!
Because we live so close to our local Children's Hospital and because he had already been seen there for some kidney issues he needed checked after birth, we headed that direction.
In the ER, they decided to run a gammot of tests - CBC, Urine Culture, Spinal Tap!
Preliminary results showed a UTI and we were told we would be staying 7 days in the hospital.  As the next few hours progressed, we discovered that his blood was also infected...this would mean an increased stay to 14 days starting with the first day that we received a negative blood culture.
So, that's where we are!
It's difficult...
Then you listen in on your roommates diagnosis, and you think, "I can do this!"
And God has shown his faithfulness already...through His word and specific answers to my personal prayers, to untold support from friends and family as they lift our family up in prayer, to "the hands of Christ" through friends and family that are delivering meals, offering their support where our other kiddos are concerned, and visiting Zion and I in order to take some of the loneliness away!  And even some exceptional nurses that have taken some personal time just to sit and chat and listen!
I'm still planning on those reveals...just now on "hospital time"!
(Today's post has already taken 3.5 hours to type with the different interruptions that occur in a hospital room.)
Thank you to all who are lifting us up in prayer...and blessing us with your support!
Thanks for stopping by!  Be Refreshed!

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Week of Reveals!!!

Starting with this sweet babe!
Zion Philip Cook
7lbs. 11ozs. - 22in. long
Born: Nov. 16, 2012
It all started with a peaceful, quiet Thursday morning!  I should have known something was up because I suddenly had the urgent "need" to get all of my Christmas shopping ideas organized and on paper.  After sitting down at the kitchen table and writing it all out, I decided I'd better get dressed and get our day rolling!  Only when I stood up, I had a "did I just wet myself" feeling...
With no other symptoms of labor, I called my husband Ken to let him know that I thought, possibly  my water broke and then I proceeded to pace back and forth around the house wondering what to do!  His sound mind came through the other end of the phone, "Why don't you call the midwives and see what they have to say." "Hmmm...that's a good idea," I thought.
As the day progressed, nothing happened and nothing happened...Ken came home from work and we all waited!  We decided to take a trip to the library just to get out of the house. Still nothing...well, maybe a few contractions, but nothing to write home about!
Our midwives checked in with us a few times and around 9:30 we decided we would meet up in an hour and see how I was doing. 
I entered the birth center with irregular contractions and just not feeling well. After checking my vitals, they determined that I was most likely dehydrated and started me on EmergenC.  One of the sweet midwives, Jenny, accommodated our joke regarding being in a fancy hotel on vacation by presenting it to me "Hawaiian style":
After 2 glasses I was feeling better and real labor started moving!
Ken took this picture as I was working through a contraction...the heart shape with my hands was unintentional!
The plan was for a water birth, but after laboring in the tub for a while, my contractions just weren't progressing things along.  Moving from the tub to the bed did the trick, and 3 contractions (about 20mins) later, Zion made his entrance!
2 hours later we were home and soaking in our new addition!


As some of you know, Zion had a bit of a rough start in his first days of life.  More on that later...
Oh, and I'm sure some of you are dying to see a kitchen update...let's just say the view from the couch as I nurse Zion is looking pretty fantastic!

And don't forget...this is your last week to save at CPT Worldwide!!!
Enter COOKS at checkout to receive 15% off your order!
Thanks for stopping by!  Be refreshed!

Monday, October 29, 2012

All Things Fertility {Product Review w/ Discount Code!}

Today I have the privilege of reviewing my absolute favorite company! 
I discovered this amazing company (with amazing prices) through another blog that I frequent, and being that I, or someone I know, could be needing to take a pregnancy test at any given moment, I decided it would be good to stock up!
My first order to CPT took about 10 days to arrive.  It was at this point that I realized I might be pregnant, and as soon as the test arrived in my mailbox, I brought them in and tested.  Unfortunately, that pregnancy ended in miscarriage {I blogged about it here} - but God's timing was perfect...
Kendra at CPT had felt that she had taken a bit too long to get the tests out to me, and so followed up with an email of apology, explaining the circumstances around the delay.  (I want to add that she also had already sent me some additional tests to compensate for my inconvenience!)  I wrote her back and said, "No worries!  It turns out I was indeed pregnant, but it ended in miscarriage."
Honestly,  I wasn't expecting a response.  After all, the big companies that I normally purchase my tests from aren't personally connected to me, so why would this company be any different?
Boy was I wrong!!!
Kendra, the owner of CPT, sent me the most amazing email with words of comfort for my loss, and a personal reminder to "not keep this baby at arms length".  Those 6 little words spoke so deeply to my heart - and they had come from someone I had never met!!!  A very personal touch from a company that believes in sanctity of life and knows a mother's heart!
But what about the product?
Well, not only were the original tests I took able to detect my pregnancy that surely had very little hormones, but a few weeks later I discovered I was pregnant before I would even have been due to start my cycle!
With the circumstances that surrounded my miscarriage, I ended up taking 6 pregnancy tests to confirm this pregnancy!  Because I had ordered them through CPT...cost was not even a thought...I think at the time I paid less than 30 cents per test!
CPT believes in what they sell
 Not only do they offer pregnancy tests, but also ovulation tests, herbal supplements, educational books around the topic of fertility and a personal blog for women to connect!
CPT is graciously extending a discount to Cook's Cottage readers! 
For now through the month of November, if you enter COOKS into the promo code section at checkout, you will receive 15% off your entire order!
You can connect with them by clicking HERE!
Don't just take my word for it ~ go check them out yourself!!!
Thanks for stopping by!  Be Refreshed!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pearls...{My Best Teething Advice}

See that sweet little necklace on Claire?  No, it's not a fashion statement!  It's my best secret for teething pain and drooling!!!
 Papa calls them her pearls!
A little over a year ago, I had a friend who's son was experiencing horrible teething pain.  She spent many sleepless nights with him, and pain relievers were just not doing the trick.  Numerous times I saw her post something to Facebook.  One friend of hers kept posting about Amber Teething Necklaces, and, being that we were just starting to be in the throws of teething issues ourselves, I decided to take the plunge!
Now, let me clarify...I was a TOTAL SCEPTIC!!!  It seemed to me that in 23 years of raising children and never hearing of these beads, that it had to be some sort of new fangled hocus pocus.  Boy was I ever surprised!
I did a bit of research...found some incredible reviews...and even that in some northern European countries, Amber Necklaces are as common place as socks and shoes!
So, I found some on Amazon and at only $15 per necklace, I figured it couldn't hurt!
The results were amazing!  Claire was one of those perpetual droolers!  If you've never experienced this type of baby, let me just say it's not pleasant!  First, their clothing is always soaked and with that constant wetness comes an unpleasant odor!  On top of all of that, she had a rash on her chest that was basically from her saliva "digesting" her skin (as our pediatrician put it).
Within 3 days of putting the necklace on her, the drooling completely stopped!  I mean completely!!!  And the perpetual teething crankiness subsided!  Claire and Mama were both sleeping better!
So, how does it work?  Well, apparently amber has a natural salicylic acid in it that when warmed will absorb into the skin reducing pain and swelling effects. So, you don't want to have this necklace worn on the outside of their contact with skin is essential! The beads are not meant for chewing on!!!
I purchased a necklace that has light yellow beads, but amber varies from light yellow to dark brown.  So, you can actually find necklaces that you may find more appropriate for boys. 

The necklace we purchased has each bead individually knotted, so the risk of baby swallowing the beads in the event of it breaking is eliminated.
We eventually kept the necklace on Claire full-time - night and day!  I was a bit worried about it choking her at nighttime, so I would wind it around her ankle.  After talking to as many mommies I could find with babies wearing these, I discovered that the majority of moms were having the best results with just keeping the necklaces on their babies full time.
Claire is now coming to the end of her teething journey with only 4 teeth left to erupt.  But we will definitely be putting this necklace on baby Zion when he begins his teething journey!
Thanks for stopping by!  Be Refreshed!

Friday, October 19, 2012

All In A Days Work... {you might just find me on YouTube!}

Today was a typical Friday {well with one little incident}...

Co-op in the morning, home for lunch and chores, and back to co-op to do our final bathroom cleaning. {Cleaning the bathrooms at the church is the job that we have been assigned to for the year.  We requested to have all of our cleaning days at the front end of the year instead of them being spread out so that I wouldn't need to think about it after Baby Zion comes!}

So, on our way to clean, we were coming up on a local cemetery.  Familiar flashing lights were approaching ahead of us and I pulled to the right...

The lights belonged to the police escort which would block the traffic for the funeral procession to cross 3 lanes of busy traffic...

Having pulled to the right, my vehicle was essentially blocking the bus lane on the far right.

Noah piped up and asked, "What are the police doing? What's that big car in front?  Whoa, there's a limo!"

As I began to explain to him the reason for all of the different officials and vehicles, I heard honking behind me.  I just sat there...  More honking...  I still sat there...  More honking... {Well, you get the picture.}

Now let me interject here:

Have I ever told you how awkward it can be to drive a large passenger van?  Especially one that has a back up beeper louder than your typical construction equipment?  Well, imagine the thoughts going through my head as the person behind me is honking, and I'm thinking they can't see around me and I already have this uncomfortable feeling about how "in the way" I am in my big van!

So, as I'm sitting there trying to figure out how I could navigate my way out of the way, I get a tap, tap, tap on my window. Rolling down my window I say, "Ummmm...where do you think we're going?"  To which the man replies, "I'm trying to get to that funeral, could you pull out of the way?"  So I say, "Oh, O.K.!"

As best I could, I tried to maneuver back into the non-moving traffic and scoot as close to the car in front of me as possible so that the man could pass behind me.  Only there apparently wasn't enough room...honking pursues... I sat there... More honking... I sat there...growing more uncomfortable by the minute...  Then, tap - tap - tap!!!!

I roll down my window!

"You need to get the _____ out of the way! Can't you back up?"  To which I reply, "Umm, no..." {Duh!  He's in my way...}  So the profanities ensued!  I was called all sorts of names and sworn at up and down.  So, what did I do?  Rolled up my window, locked the doors and looked away!

Back to his van he went...then started honking!!!

Then...tap, tap, tap...

I rolled down my window again, planning on calmly explaining that there was a car in front of me that would also block him.  I even suggested he see if the person in front of me could pull forward or he could back up and go through a parking lot that would take him around the traffic.  But, I don't think he heard a word I said, because he continued with accusations and profanities.  When I began to say that he couldn't speak to me like that, he said, "so you're not going to let me get to my friends funeral?"  To which I said, "Nope!"  and rolled up my window again.

I did hear him say, "That's fine ____!  You're going to be all over YouTube!"

I did get his license plate number before the traffic started moving again.  And the owners of the local shop which I had suggested he drive through were yelling at him and motioning him to go through their parking lot.

Was I shaken a bit?  Absolutely!  And try to hold it together as your 10 year old starts asking questions about why the man was behaving that way.  I simply told him that people act differently when they are experiencing grief.

Later while we were cleaning, Isabelle said, "Well, mom, that guy will get punished for treating you like that...whether here on earth or after he dies."

And you know, it made me think of Jesus on the cross!  He suffered so much more on that day.  Really, my little incident could happen on the streets of larger cities every day!  What were Christ's words, "Forgive them Father for they know not what they do!"

That's the cry of my heart for this man...

Oh, and if you see me on YouTube...comment with a link to this post, K?  :)

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Ballerina Girl...

So, again, I'm taking a Friday and posting something that is on my heart.  I usually save Fridays for a "Fast Tip".  But, once again, my heart is full of words that I need to release...

Thursday is one of my favorite days!  It is usually busy, but always culminates in an afternoon trip to the dance studio where Sarah and Isabelle take ballet.
Last week was "watch" week for Isabelle's class, and I couldn't help but notice this one Mama.  She would instruct her daughter every time she could get eye contact.  Not in the, "your doing great" type of way, but in the "do it better" type of way!  I had to chuckle to myself, thinking, "they're 7 for Heaven's sake!"

Then yesterday another situation arose...this time not as funny!  Before the girls were dismissed, the instructor had given them a "free dance" time.  Twirls, and crawling, and silliness ensued.  As Mama came around the corner, she called to her daughter.  When her little one didn't respond, a more insistent call was made.  This time her daughter came out...but was met by a Mama that completely laid into her..."What were you doing?  Why didn't you come when I called?  You are supposed to be dancing and listening! What were you DOING in there?!"  You could visually see the deflated spirit in this little girl.

Averting my eyes and silently motioning to Isabelle to avert her eyes, we walked away from the scene!

As we pulled out of the parking lot, Isabelle spoke up..."Mama, that little girl wasn't doing anything wrong!"

"I know," I said.  "But sometimes Mamas react to their children like that when they think that how their children behave reflects who they are as parents."

"Mama, last week she was making her do the splits and then pushing her down when she couldn't go all the way!"

It was here that my heart broke!  Not just for the little girl, but for the Mama!  For what ever reason, this Mama is projecting her insecurity onto her daughter.

Know why I can spot it so well?  Because I have been that Mama!  I have walked in the lie that if my children are well behaved and "_____" {fill in the blank - smart, athletic, cute, etc.} then it somehow reflects how terrific of a parent I am!  Only, the results of this thinking can be devastating on the child! 

I can't tell you how many times the words, "Remember, you represent our family!"  have passed my lips as I've dropped my children off somewhere.  (And don't get me wrong - I do believe we need to train our children to be respectful and pleasant, and having high standards is not necessarily bad.)  Only, my heart motive was in the wrong place!

I am thankful that somewhere along the way God showed me that He is the perfect parent, and we still don't represent Him very well!

I am thankful that my children were resilient to a Mama that put on a little too much pressure...though I apologize to the older ones...especially my oldest...that they have had to walk through the consequences of my own insecurities!

My message is to the other Mamas out there that struggle with this! 

Learn to relax - at least a bit!  Childhood is a journey, not a race!  Give them grace and remember...

God is the perfect parent and yet we are not perfect children!
Thanks for stopping by!  Be Refreshed!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

"Get Well" Chicken Soup {Repost w/ recipe}

With cold and sickness season just around the corner, I had a sweet friend looking for this recipe.  I figured it would be a great idea to repost it so that many of you can head off illness in your own homes before it hits!

I can testify that this "soup" works!!!!!  I was better within 1 day of starting it, and fully recovered within 3!!! 

You can easily run out today and buy the ingredients and then freeze it in ice cube trays!

As preventative, our family also takes a daily dose of vitamin C and if we feel something coming on, we start taking Elderberry Syrup ~ that recipe can be found here.

So, without further ado, here's my previous post for Dr. Zinments Chicken Soup!

Some of you may have noticed that I have been missing for a while! That is because, today I am on day 18 of the flu! Not the stomach flu, but the "sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy-head, fever, but can't take NyQuil because I'm pregnant" flu! What started out as what I thought was allergies, turned into a full blown flu! This Mama hasn't been down like this in a LONG time!

So, last Sunday I decided I was feeling well {and not contagious} enough to brave church. While there, a sweet friend of mine, Kelley suggest this "soup" for my congestion. Later she sent me an email with the recipe.

Church completely knocked me out...and I've been up and down since. So today, I braved the local grocery store to pick up the ingredients I would need to make this sworn by concoction!

Oops...garlic not pictured!

I have to say, with a full head of garlic {meaning about 15 cloves}...this thing better work!!! All of my kiddos have come through the house and mentioned, "What is that smell?" Even my neighbor who delivered my mail asked what was cookin'!

Smell? I'm so congested I can't smell a thing! Seriously, not even a hint of garlic or cayenne!

Here's the recipe:

(All writing in green is what Kelley actually sent me...I skipped a few optionals...noted in black!)

{Notice the warning not to eat this like actual soup!}

Dr. Zinment's Chicken Soup

1 quart chicken broth

1 garlic head- about 15 cloves, peeled

5 parsley sprigs, minced (I add half a bunch)

6 cilantro sprigs, minced (I add half a bunch)

1 tsp lemon pepper (better to substitute with fresh squeezed lemon 1/2 - 1 whole)

1 tsp dried basil, crushed, or 1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil

1 tsp curry powder

Optional: hot red pepper flakes (I prefer cayenne pepper) to taste, sliced carrots, a bay leaf or two

{I simply wasn't up to peeling carrots, so I skipped them, no bay leaf and used 1 tsp. of cayenne}

Place all ingredients in a pot without a lid. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 30 minutes. (If the soup is for your own personal use, carefully inhale the fumes during preparation as an additional decongesting treatment.) Remove the solid garlic gloves and herbs and along with a little broth, puree them in a blender or food processor. (I use a Kitchenaid submersion blender right in the cooking pot). Return the puree to the broth and stir. Serve hot.

Dose: Take 2 Tbsp of Dr. Zinment's Chicken Soup at the beginning of a meal, 1-3X a day. (If you feel you want a little more than 2 Tbsp, fine, but do not exceed more than 1/2 C. at a time.)

Caution: This chicken soup is a medicine and is not to be eaten as one would eat a portion of soup. Please follow the dosage instructions.

The above is all straight from the book. Below is how we think it works best...

For me it works best to take it before bed, when I get up the next day, and once at some point mid-day. I do this until all congestion is gone. I normally take about 2 1/2 Tbsp. If you want it stronger you can add some cayenne pepper when you heat it up. We keep it in the fridge until we need it and then only heat up a single serving. We also add in all of the optional ingredients.

{I just finished taking 1/2 cup of this...we'll see how it works!}

Thanks for stopping by! Be Refreshed and Well!!!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Our "Go To" dinner! {Recipe}

PIZZA!'s as easy as pie I suppose!   And for about $1.50 per pizza  you can't beat the price!  I make mine using whole wheat, but you can substitute white flour if you like!
For our family of 10, I make three 15" pizzas...and there are always leftovers!  I can't think of a dinner that gives you more bang for your buck!
Here's the recipe as I make it with substitution options in blue:
Mama Cook's Pizza
3 Cups warm water
1T honey
2T yeast
1/4 cup oil
1 tsp. salt
2T Italian Seasoning
1teas. minced garlic
1/4 cup gluten flour
6-7 cups whole wheat flour
{White all purpose flour can be used in place of the gluten and whole wheat flours will need about 8-9 cups.}
Mix first 4 ingredients and let sit 5 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients and knead for 7-10 minutes. {I use a Bosch mixer - gifted to me by one absolutely generous friend - so I simply mix all of my ingredients together and knead for 5 minutes.}
Divide dough into 3 pieces and roll onto 3 15" greased pizza pans. {I picked up my pans at Business Costco for about $2.00 a piece!}
Let dough rise 10 minutes and bake at 425 for 6 minutes.  Add toppings and return to oven for 12-15 minutes.
Cook Family standard toppings include:
BBQ Chicken and Apple
Cheese {of course}
So basically, when I pull the crusts out of the oven, I spread tomato sauce on them...I usually do not end up seasoning my sauce...with the seasonings in the crust, you can cheat on this step!
Next, I sprinkle some shredded mozzarella cheese on top, add additional toppings {get creative...our favorite pizza was born out of an empty refrigerator} and sprinkle a smidgen more mozzarella {and Parmesan if I have it on hand} on top of that!  Then do a final bake!
There you have it!  Enjoy!!!
Thanks for stopping by!  Be Refreshed!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My sentiments exactly...

Today one of my absolute favorite bloggers posted about having an overfull plate...and how sometimes her blog suffers from it. {You can read about it here!}

I absolutely understand what she is saying!  I LOVE blogs!!!  I love writing one, I love reading them, I love being encouraged, I love getting a little peak into other people's homes, families and lives.

But sometimes, we get busy!  We have children, husbands, schedules...and our best intentions are thwarted.  I always feel like I'm letting my readers down...but while I love my readers...I wouldn't change my "virtual world" for the real world - EVER! 

For me, I "think" in blog posts!  Seriously, my kiddos do or say something and I think, " I should blog about that."  Or, I'll be in my prayer closet {the shower} and God will place an issue on my heart that I know He wants me to write about.  Sometimes I get around to it, and sometimes I don't!  Not because I don't want to...simply because life happens...and I have chosen to live in the role that He has placed before me. 

That is what my purpose for this blog is all encourage you to do the same!  He has placed a path before you...your job is to walk on it, allowing Him to be a "lamp unto your feet."  You may let people who have different expectations of you down, but ultimately you answer to Him!

So, reader, thanks for continuing to check in...hopefully the posts are worth the wait!

Thanks for stopping by!  Be Refreshed!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Where oh Where Has Mama Cook Gone...

Have you been wondering why you haven't heard from me lately?


While we were taking a few days away at the coast, this was happening back home...
When we took out the wall between the dining room and kitchen it left this beautiful space...

Besides it being a major tripping hazard, it left a bit to be desired in the "finished" look department!  We basically had two options, try to patch the existing linoleum flooring and have a transition between the two rooms, or tear up the {5 years new} flooring and have hardwood floors laid. 
The second option was more expensive, but we figured in the long run we would be more satisfied to have a look that flowed.  We hired a fabulous company {shout out to Mario and Creative Hardwood Flooring} and he used his expertise and skill to create a beautiful finished look that we will enjoy for years to come!  {And for what he did, the price was not unreasonable at all...$3000 to tear out old, lay new and refinish all of the hardwoods in our downstairs!}

{Basically, he laid new floor in the kitchen - matching the mixture of Red and White Oak that the floors in the rest of the house are, and then came back a few weeks later to refinish all of them!  He even cut the boards to make shorter planks which is how our original floors were installed 50 years ago!}
Here are a couple more before and after pictures:
Entry before...when we moved in {18 years ago},
 a couple of dogs had lived here that would scratch at the door all day to get out!

Now...not a scratch in sight!  And look at that beautiful wood!
And here's the view of that transition from a different angle...

There are still a few more final projects to complete before the complete remodel is done, but the goal is to have them finished before the baby arrives! {Right honey?}
And, can I just add what an incredible workhorse my husband has been?  With each project I think, "this part has to be the most difficult" only to watch him "jump straight from the frying pan to the fire!"  {Babe, thank you for all of the exhausting work you have done!}

My hubby has photographed different projects along the way, so look for more details to come!

Thanks for stopping by!  Be Refreshed!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Some Quick Updates at The Cottage...

Well, last week was our official first week of Homeschool!  It feels really good to get back into the routine of things and regain some semblance of order.

Stephanie and I are adjusting to "moving" so early in the morning, but as each day passes, it certainly is easier and easier!

The kitchen remodel is coming along beautifully...but we are currently without a sink, so Mama is doing dishes in the bathtub! {I'll post some updates on Wednesday!}

We entered our 3rd trimester with baby #10 and found at my midwives appointment that he is head down...praying he stays that way!

This week Ken and I will celebrate our 21st wedding anniversary!

And finally...

These two began training for an exciting adventure to take place this November!  They are off to Santiago, Chile for a mission trip with our church. 

For Noah, it is his first "out of country" mission trip.  Needless to say, Mama is excited and a bit nervous as well.

For Connor, it is his final mission trip with our church before he embarks on an adventure of a lifetime...The United State Marines!  {Connor is scheduled to "ship out" to boot camp next July!}

So many changes...just like the seasons...

Thanks for stopping by!  Be Refreshed!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes! {Recipe}

Saturday morning around our house is pancake breakfast morning!

Lately I've been craving Cinnamon Rolls, thanks to this lady... whom I've been stalking catching up on! Then last week, while perusing the Internet for shared nursery ideas, I found a recipe for Cinnamon Roll Pancakes by Recipe Girl!

I couldn't resist!!!  Here's my try at Cinnamon Roll Pancakes {with a couple of tweaks, because of course I can't follow a recipe exactly!}

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes
original recipe by Recipe Girl {my tweaks in red}
{This recipe makes 8 4" pancakes...I quadrupled the recipe for my family!}


4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, just melted (not boiling) I melted mine in the microwave
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon - Made a math error while cooking, and added 4 Tablespoons cinnamon instead of 2...still turned out yummy!!!

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick)  butter
2-ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

{Used my standard pancake recipe}
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder -I use 3 teaspoons
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk - I use 3/4 cup milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
Splash of Vanilla


Prepare the cinnamon filling: In a medium bowl, stir together the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Scoop the filling into a quart-sized heavy zip baggie and set it aside {Throw in the refrigerator so it is toothpaste texture when it is time to add to pancakes!}

Prepare the glaze: In a small pan, heat the butter over low heat until melted. Turn off the heat and whisk in the cream cheese until it is almost smooth. Sift the powdered sugar into the pan, stir and add in vanilla extract. Set the pan aside while you make the pancakes.

Prepare the pancake batter: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk in the milk, egg and oil, (and vanilla) just until the batter is moistened (a few small lumps are fine).

Cook the pancakes: Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium-heat and spray with nonstick spray. {Mama Cook uses a nonstick griddle...therefore making 8 pancakes at a time!}  Use an ice cream scoop (or 1/3 cup measuring cup) to add the batter to the pan.  Reduce the heat to medium low.{Honestly, I just put my griddle at 350 and started cooking as normal.}  Snip the corner of your baggie of cinnamon filling and squeeze the filling into the open corner. When your pancake begins to form bubbles, add the filling. Starting at the center of the pancake, squeeze the filling on top of the pancake batter in a swirl (just as you see in a regular cinnamon roll). Cook the pancake 2 to 3 minutes, or until the bubbles begin popping on top of the pancake and it's golden brown on the bottom. Slide a thin, wide metal spatula underneath the pancake and gently but quickly flip it over. Cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes, until the other side is golden as well. When you flip the pancake onto a plate, you will see that the cinnamon filling has created a crater-swirl of cinnamon. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, and repeat with the remaining pancake batter and cinnamon filling. Re-warm the glaze briefly, if needed. Serve pancakes topped with a drizzle of glaze.

Huge Warning! 

DO NOT be tempted to taste the caramelized goodness that the cinnamon swirl filling makes!!!!  You WILL burn yourself!!!  {Not that I did that or anything!}

Oh, and seriously, I stacked four pancakes up for pictures, but two will leave you feeling more full than after Thanksgiving Dinner...I promise!!!

Thanks for stopping by!  Be Refreshed!
{Linking to Make it Yourself Monday!}



Monday, August 20, 2012

Temperatures are Rising...{some follow up questions}

Wow!  What a response I received to my last post!  I am often reluctant to write about controversial topics, but God never releases me from His stirrings, so I post, pray and duck!

I am fully aware, from viewing other courageous bloggers, that the topic of modesty often receives a huge backlash of comments...often downright mean ones!  Thankfully, I have not received anything but honest questions and great encouraging discussion!

With that said, I would like to put some questions out to my readers.  I received two private questions regarding the topic of modesty and I'd love to hear some varied input! {Post your answers in the comments below!}

First question: What if my unbelieving {read not-yet-Christian} husband prefers I dress in a more provocative manner?  Not something I am truly comfortable with, but I do desire to please him...I'm torn! {I would add here, what if your husband is a believer and simply has different, less modest standards than you do?}

Second question: How about us women that are a bit more "endowed" than others?  It seems that finding something fashionable, but still appropriate can be a bigger challenge for us than for our "smaller" counterparts.  Any suggestions?

Great challenging questions!  I would truly love to read your answers!  Here are my responses, but I'm sure there are others out there who have great insight!

Question #1:

Ultimately, if you are a believer in Christ, then you answer to Him first and foremost!  You will stand before His throne and, as His follower, you cannot use your husband as your excuse.  Simply because you are asking the question, tells me that your heart is likely in the right place. {But you are not answering to me!}  If your husband is willing, take him shopping with you.  Have the discussion beforehand about how you are willing to dress a certain way for him in private, but when you are in public, you need to dress differently.  Let him know that you would love his input and ask him to help you pick clothing that you find appropriate but he still finds attractive. 

If he is open, you could even discuss with him your desire to only have his eyes...perhaps he simply hasn't considered that other men would be gazing upon what is only meant for him!

Question #2:

Being that this is an area that I can't empathize with, my only suggestions would be camisoles.  I do know that this option doesn't work for the camisoles can tend to sag down after a bit.  Perhaps simply choosing a "crew style" neckline and then accessorizing with a beautiful necklace would work!  Hopefully my readers have some more input!!!

Thanks in advance to everyone who posts some suggestions!

Thanks for stopping by!  Be Refreshed!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Temperatures are Rising...{A Challenge!}

Dear Inappropriately Dressed {Christian} Woman,

You know who you are!  Your pants are just a little too tight, your shirt just a little too low cut, your heels just a little too high, your skirt reveals just a little too much, your clothing clings in all the right places…and you are being noticed!  You are flattered, thrilled, boosted in your confidence as a woman! Men are distracted and women are either appalled or jealous or both!  Your outward beauty, which one day will fade, is actually your shortcoming!  While you may be turning heads…you are not turning hearts toward The One who, in the end, will be the final judge of your motives!

Dear Sisters in Christ,

I have desired to be this woman!  I have desired to turn heads!  I have desired to hold onto worldly beauty and not cultivated the inner gentle quiet spirit that is true beauty!  My motives have been born of hurt, insecurity, ignorance, peer pressure.  I am no longer this woman!  I am free of the grips of this sin!  I ask that any of you that know me personally would point out an unintentional fashion indiscretion with the promise it will be received with grace and gratitude!

Dear Mother,

Teach your children well!  Teach your boys to avert their eyes, thereby protecting their hearts!  Train your girls that modesty is beautiful and that true beauty points others to Christ! I believe we would do well to point out the motivations of the heart when we do experience an unavoidable “eye full”! Begin when they are young…remembering it’s never too late to start!

Dear Pastor,

Please address this issue!  Women need to hear it!  Do not fear being unpopular or old fashioned! Women and girls need to know that God’s standards are not the world’s standards. Men and boys need tools and understanding to protect themselves from falling to temptation. You are responsible to impart this message to them! Be bold!

I so often hear, “only in America do we sexualize ________”!  Well, welcome to America!  If, in our culture, what you are wearing or not wearing is causing another person to stumble, then you are responsible for your actions!  Of course, I recognize that in certain areas of our country standards are different…but remember these standards are still based on the world and not the fruit of righteousness.  If you are living in another part of the world...the same applies!

The other argument is, “I am not responsible if a man sins when he looks at me.”  And while it may be true that you could be covered from head to toe and some men will still look upon you inappropriately, if you are using this phrase as an excuse to dress however you like, then you are guilty!  You will one day stand before the throne of the living God and be held accountable for the intentions of your heart. {1 Samuel 16:7} 

And if you're still reading, you may even be saying, "Well what is appropriate?"  I think some of the answer to this question is obvious!  But, there are lines that are discretionary, and that is where the heart comes in...your true, honest, heart!  If your intent is to draw eyes toward your appearance and not toward your reflection of Christ then you probably should go change!

My challenge to women is for each of us to welcome at least one other woman to hold us accountable!  Choose a friend, sister, mother, or older woman in the church and encourage them to analyze your attire every time they see you and give them permission to “tell you like it is!”  Pick someone you know will be honest…brutally honest!  Then receive their opinion with grace!

Proverbs 27:17 “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
Proverbs 27:6 “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.”