Heart-to-Heart with Diane

Hello and Welcome! Isn't raising a family the greatest!? I know I've got the best job in the world, just being Mom! I love sharing things I've discovered that make being "Mom" better, easier or more fulfilling, and that is what this blog is all about. Welcome!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Mystery Waffles!

Who would suspect that these crispy, light, healthy waffles are made from 100% wholesome brown rice? Doesn't that seem impossible? I thought so!

I discovered that brown rice could be ground in a grain mill and used in place of flour very successfully. Since whole wheat flour makes a rather heavy waffle, it was a fun discovery. Brown rice is one of the most nutritious grains, being high in healthy fiber, magnesium, and B vitamins. It makes a waffle that is white inside and light and airy. What a wonderful way to eat rice!

Wonderful Brown Rice Waffles

Mix in a large mixing bowl:
4 cups brown rice flour (just grind brown rice in your grain mill)
1 1/4 tablespoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons salt
4 eggs
2 3/4 cups milk (or water) --may use dry milk

Put the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. (If using dry milk, add the dry milk powder to the dry ingredients.) Mix well and make a hole in the center of the dry ingredients. Carefully separate the egg whites from the yolks, reserving the whites in a mixing bowl. Make sure that none of the yolk gets in with the egg whites or they won’t beat well. Beat the whites just until soft peaks form that bend over at the tip. Put the yolks in the center of the flour mixture along with the liquid milk (or water). Stir just until mixed. Gently, gently fold the beaten egg whites into the batter so that all the air stays in them—this makes your waffles light and delicious! Cook in a waffle baker until crisp. Serves 4.

Serve with diced mangoes on top for utter delight!

Note: You can buy brown rice in most grocery stores, but in teeny bags! That doesn't work for me. If you would like to purchase a 25 lb. bag of brown rice at good savings, take a look here.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Cure for Despair

Life does bad stuff to us sometimes.

I was thinking about my husband's mysterious illness last year in the spring, exactly at this time. He was hospitalized off and on over the period of a couple of months, while the doctors were baffled as to what was causing his extreme symptoms. At one point, assuming he had bacterial meningitis, they told me he would not live through the night. There were times of fear and times of frustration as they performed yet another blood test, MRI, or spinal tap, getting frightening test results, but without being able to isolate the cause of illness. I often couldn't sleep, often couldn't eat, and wondered if my family could survive such upheaval. Prayer becomes your constant activity, no matter if you are alone in an elevator, or crouching in a closet. And despair is hard to hold off.

After awhile, I discovered an antidote to fear and despair. I know it is so obvious, but it wasn't to me in that circumstance. I discovered almost accidentally, that I could keep my spirits up by focusing on what was right, and mentally counting up all I could think of: 1) I have good supportive children, 2) the sun is shining, 3) a friend came to visit in the hospital and brought oranges which gave me something to eat for breakfast, 4) I can see a blossoming tree out of the hospital room window, 5) I got a good parking spot in the hospital parking lot that morning . . .

After several weeks, my husband was transferred to a specialized hospital, an hour away in a big city. I had not seen all my children for days and he was worsening significantly. I had to stretch very hard to find something to be grateful for. I left my husband for a moment to go to the cafeteria and had to walk through the children's ward of the hospital on my way there. I was flooded with gratitude that my children are healthy!

It was miraculous to me to experience the relief that comes from counting my blessings! And it works whether we are in life threatening circumstances, or just having trouble facing last night's dinner dishes.

Concentrating on the good helps our minds be relieved of all that is not right. Sometimes motherhood can be overwhelming. If you have many children, each one may have needs or issues that seem more than you can handle. There are days when housework, or even just laundry, can swallow you up. The economy and financial difficulties can make the future frighteningly uncertain. A sure relief is to count what is good, what is right, and all the small ways you are blessed. It is so refreshing to the spirit, and helps get the focus off everything that is wrong.

Count your blessings.
Name them one by one.
Count your many blessings—see what God has done!

P.S. My husband was finally diagnosed with Handel's Syndrome--a rare and self-limited disorder in which a virus enters the spinal column and brain and wrecks havoc neurologically, until the body's immune system overtakes it. It has been nearly a year now, and he is totally healed and well, and we are so very grateful for that miracle!

And I am so thankful to have learned so many lessons from that grueling experience, including remembering that the cure for despair lies in being grateful.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ooh-la-la! Josey's Rice Salade





When my husband and I were a young married couple, we were shipped off to Holland to fulfill his college commitment to the US Army ROTC program. We had one little 9 month old baby boy, and a big world of adventure before us. We used every chance we got to travel and saw a lot of Europe, sleeping in the back of our van. Each Sunday that we were away from home, we'd find a church to attend and, often, some kind family would invite us to their home Sunday afternoon. And from these lovely cultural experiences, we made friends and got a taste of authentic European cuisine.

Josey and Pierre live in Paris and have 4 daughters. Josey translates the Ensign magazine from English into French. She also makes a delicious rice salade which I have been craving, and making, for 30 years. You're gonna love it!

This is a filling, full-meal salad. Serve it with strawberries and french bread and you can feel very French!

Josey's Rice Salade
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 cup corn kernels (canned or frozen)
1/4 cup black olives, sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced thinly
2 green onions, sliced thinly or 1/4 cup red onion, diced
3 boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
5 small tomatoes, chopped
5 leaves of Romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces

Make French Dressing (below) right in a large salad bowl. Stir in cooled rice, corn, celery, onions and egg slices. Stir in the lettuce and tomatoes immediately before serving. Serves 4.

French Dressing
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper

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Friday, April 3, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is my birthday!

I was talking to my homeschooling friends today at our co-op school and some of the moms moaned at the mention of birthdays. I remember being a young overwhelmed mom with lots of little ones and a husband who was still learning about how to make me feel loved. I am afraid I cried every year on my birthday for the first decade of marriage!

Thank goodness this life is all a learning process.

And thank goodness for little girls!

Life being a learning process means that we need to be patient with each other. Young husbands tolerate burnt meals and too many toys on the floor while we figure out how to manage raising kids and housekeeping. Young wives endure forgotten birthdays and anniversaries, sometimes feeling their hearts will break, while their husbands slowly dawn awareness that happy home-life revolves around an appreciated woman. Time helps both of these, as we practice on each other and learn how to love and be good to each other. Don't despair, young moms, if you have one of those absent-minded husbands. They eventually learn to remember our birthdays, just as we eventually figure out how to manage our homes and govern our children.

And thank goodness for little girls! . . . because they grow up to copy our consistent modeling. And if our modeling includes celebrating birthdays, showering love on others, demonstrating kindness and sensitivity—it will come back to bless us! Once those little girls grow to even 8 years old, they will start prodding Daddy to buy balloons or flowers or to make a birthday cake. Boys are great too—I love 'em—but many of them have the same awareness deficits as Daddies, and are not always so quick to remember to lavish love on the women in their life. Little girls often delight in planning, card-making, fussing over, decorating and remembering!

This year, being the mother of 3 girls who have schemed and assigned "to-do's" to my boys, I am being spoiled on my birthday . . . and it is so fun! All the forgotten birthdays are dim in my memory. Grown kids who are good are an enormous pay-back for all the intensive years of having young ones when you really put in huge amounts of caretaking with little recognition.

So, here's an advance "Happy Birthday!" from me to every mom who might feel a little neglected on her special day. You are so very important!

And . . . Happy Birthday to me!