What joy the gospel gives me. I can approach the throne of God with confidence, not because I've done a good job at my spiritual duties, but because I'm clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. ~ C.J. Mahaney



It's been a while since I made something this simple that tasted as divine as this stromboli.  I'm willing to bet that there is nothing you can buy at any Italian restaurant that is better.  This recipe comes from Nancy St.Clair, Abby's mother-in-love.  The crust is made from frozen bread dough.  Abby likes this so much, she blogged it, too.  So, I'm just gonna send you over to her blog for the super simple recipe.

There really is no limit to what you can stuff into stromboli.  I opted for a ground beef, pepperoni version for our lunch today.  Just brown up the ground beef with some minced onions if you like.

The latest adoption news is that we have received our final Homeland Security approval (I-800, for those interested in the numbers).  A cable has been sent from The National Visa Center to the US Consulate in Guangzhou, China informing them of this approval.  Now we wait through a couple more China steps before we will receive our travel approval.  If everything progresses according to the current timetable averages, we should be on a plane to China by early April.

Check back soon for photos of grandbaby Kyle's nursery.  Abby and I have been busy putting the finishing touches on that.  His due date is four weeks from today!!


John's Easy Yeast Bread


I bake a lot of bread, probably two or three times a week.  Every once in a while I come across a recipe that begs to be tried, like this one for no-knead yeast bread. The secret ingredient to this high-rising loaf is the sour cream, which makes it tender, light, and delicious.


I admit to being somewhat of a rebel.  While the original recipe calls for this to be mixed by hand, I just put all the ingredients in my mixer bowl and use the dough hooks for a few seconds.  Once the dough is mixed, I let it rest for 10 minutes or so, then mix it again for a few seconds.  I do this a couple times before letting it rest for an hour.


At that point, I shape it into loaves and transfer them to the pans for a second rising.  This takes a few hours from start to finish, but actually only a few minutes of hands-on time.  If I start it in the early afternoon, around one or two o'clock, it's ready in time for supper.


The recipe is supposed to yield one giant loaf.  But, I prefer to make several smaller loaves instead.  They are just easier to handle and slice than a larger loaf.  And besides, three small pretty loaves look nicer rising on the counter than just one biggish loaf, right?


I love it buttered and spread with raw honey.  Any left-overs make fabulous French toast the next morning.  But any way you decide to serve it, expect it to disappear quickly!

John's Easy Yeast Bread

  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 2/3 cup cold water
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons yeast
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Mix the boiling water, cold water, sugar and salt in a bowl.  Add the sour cream.  (Now the liquid mixture is the right temperature for the yeast.)  Add the yeast and mix until dissolved.  Now add the flour, mixing by hand until it forms a ball.  Let rest for 10 minutes.  Mix a couple minutes by hand.  Let rest again for 10 minutes.  Repeat one more time.

Let dough rest for one hour.  Shape into one large or three small loaves.  Place in greased pan/s.  Let rise for one hour.  Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.



Grandbaby Bedding


January is trucking right along and before I know it, my grandbaby Kyle is going to be here!!  His due date is February 26th, just over six weeks away!!  Yikes!

Abby and I hit the road a couple weeks ago and found the cutest fabric line (Lollipop, by Sandy Gervais for Moda) for his nursery ensemble.  After purchasing a fabric panel for his wall hanging at the retail fabric shop, we came home and ordered the rest of what we needed online from a discount source to save some serious cash.  Our plan was to buy the fabrics for his crib quilt, bumper pads, tab curtains, diaper bag, and wall hanging.  We fancied these fabrics and didn't even realize the name fit perfectly until after we purchased them.  You see... I will be Lollee and Tom will be Pops.

Lollee and Pops.


We purchased a couple "charm packs" for the quilt.  Charm packs are precut five-inch squares of the whole line, or most of it, 42 squares in each.  Abby liked the idea of just these bright, adorable prints sewn together Granny-square style, for a simple, playful blanket that will grow with him into childhood.  Never one to be interested in sewing before, she enthusiastically agreed to help sew these squares together for her baby's quilt!

The diaper bag is also constructed from the five-inch squares, quilted, and monogramed with Kyle's initials.  The tab curtains are already hanging in his room, which is painted a soft green.  Here is the fabric panel which will become the wall hanging.


Her sisters are working on the most creative artwork for the walls.  Holly has used acrylics and painted "Peek-A-Boo" animals on canvas, while Maggie has been painting fish in watercolors, all coordinating with the themes in the fabrics.  I believe Lacy has a crocheted animal in the works.  Oh, my goodness!  It's all coming together and the big reveal will be a little over a week away, after her baby shower on the 22nd of January.

I have a little over half the quilt hand-stitched.  These cold afternoon and evenings are perfect "quilting by the fire" days, and Bella is obliged to keep me company.

Meanwhile, our little boy Caleb's room is falling into place.  This working on two rooms simultaneously is challenging to my A.D.D. quilter's brain, but I think it will all happen.  His quilt top is pieced and his furniture is painted barn red.  We are on a mad hunt to find the perfect child-sized table.  Be looking for his room pics soon.


Yogurt Streusel Muffins and Happy Adoption News


Happy Weekend!

Here is a delicious recipe you may want to try.  But first, exciting news on the adoption front.  This week we received a vital document in the mail from China.  It's called the Letter Seeking Confirmation from Adopter, commonly referred to in China adoption parlance as the LOA (letter of acceptance).


So, basically, China has reviewed our carefully assembled dossier and has determined that we are a suitable family for our little Beijing boy!  In order to begin the final steps to bring him home, we had to John Hancock and return this document.

The slightly amusing element in this is that there are two check boxes from which to choose:  yes, we want to adopt him.  Or, no, we don't want to adopt him.

Seriously?  After all this?


Just in case you wonder which one we chose, rest assured, we accepted him!

I spent the better part of a day filling out more paperwork, most of which goes to Homeland Security so we can receive our final U.S. approval of the adoption.  They needed a copy of this signed LOA in order to start processing Caleb's American visa!!  I loved filling in his name on all the forms, with us named as his parents.  Pure joy!! 

Of course, his adoption won't be final until we're in China, but it is certainly starting to feel more real now.  It is our prayer that we are on a plane winging our way to China in less than three months.

OK, now on to the muffins.  These gems are just delicious.  When I saw the words 'yogurt' and 'streusel', I knew I had a winner.  You see, I like to make my own yogurt, so there's plenty on hand at any given time.  And really, what doesn't taste great with sweet, buttery, pecan topping....I want to know?

And last but not least, I knew it would be fun to mix them up in my "new" vintage Pyrex bowls, a gift from my generous friends, Roy and Lori.  They have such good taste in gifts!  Thanks, y'all!

First, gather the ingredients for the streusel: melted butter, brown sugar, chopped pecans, and cinnamon.


Put your eager helper right on mixing that up!


Then prepare the dry ingredients and the liquid ingredients in separate bowls.  How convenient to have three adorable bowl to mix everything in.


At this point, mix the wet and dry ingredients, just until it is all moistened.   Load the muffin tins with batter and pile on the streusel topping.  I found that this recipe made very large muffins, so I had to use two extra cups from another pan, for a total of 14 large muffins.  Also, the topping makes a generous plenty, so no need to skimp.


Yogurt Streusel Muffins

  • 2/3 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoon (1/2 stick) butter, melted and cooled
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
Make steusel: In a bowl, mix streusel ingredients and pinch together into large crumbs.  Place bowl in freezer.

Make muffins: Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray muffin tin with Pam, or line with paper cups.  In a bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.  In a large bowl, whisk butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and yogurt.  Stir flour mixture into yogurt mixture until just combined.

Divide batter among muffin cups.  Scatter streusel topping over each cup and press lightly on crumbs to help them adhere to batter.  Bake until tops are golden, 15-17 minutes.  Let cool.

     Best enjoyed with someone you love.

    Stay warm this weekend!