Monday, January 28, 2019

Our Baby Has Arrived!

We are thrilled to announce that we have a son! Axton John Maxwell was born at 11:15pm Saturday night, January 26! He weighed in at 7lbs 5oz and was 20inch long. He is charming as can be with dimples, dark hair, deep blue eyes, and long fingers! We are so blessed and grateful! I am doing great and recovering well. Thank you for everyone who was praying for us. The Lord answered our prayers and gave us a healthy little man! His birth  was very traumatic and didn’t go as planned whatsoever! (I will share more in the coming days) But we had amazing teams helping us, both during my 24hr labor at home and then at our final unexpected hospital delivery. It was so perfect how the Lord gave me strength each moment I needed it. My husband was a ROCK and I could not have done it without him either!
Anyways! That is the short story-most of all we are just overjoyed at the arrival of our handsome little man! Thanks again for all your well-wishes and support!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

My Soft Pretzel Recipe!

Finally! My long-promised soft pretzel recipe is here today! This recipe comes straight from the church cookbook of the church that my mom grew up in, out in upstate New York. Soft pretzel making is a big thing in my moms family. Also, the owners of the franchise "Auntie Anne's Pretzels" (Jonas + Anne Beiler) are actually relatives of my moms, so soft pretzels are even in our blood I guess! =)
Soft Pretzels
*1 1/2 cups warm water
*2 tablespoons yeast
*1/4 cup brown sugar
*1/2 teaspoon salt
*4-7 (approx) cups white flour

In bread machine (I use my trusty Bosch which I LOVE and highly recommend btw!) let yeast set with water for several minutes. Add sugar, salt, and part of the flour. Continue adding flour while mixing until sides of the bowl are cleaned. (same way as if you were making bread)
Let dough rise for about 25 minutes. (either in the Bosch bowl or in a glass bowl, as pictured above)
Later added note: if you don't have a bread machine, no worries! You can easily make these by hand in a bowl! Just use the same ingredients + instructions!

Mix together 1 cup cold water and 2 tablespoons baking soda and place in large bowl and set aside.

Roll dough into ropes and form into pretzels. (below)

Dip each pretzel into water/soda mixture and then place on greased baking sheets and sprinkle with pretzel salt. (or some other course salt; I use Kosher salt)

Bake at 500 degrees for 5-7 minutes or until golden brown. Keep an eye on them-they can burn quickly!

Dip in melted butter and serve hot. (for serving, I like to place several paper towels on my plate/serving tray, and then place the buttered pretzels on top of the towels)

Yield: Depends on the size you make them, but I would say this recipe will yield approx 6-8 pretzels.
(No, I didn't use all that butter you see above! =) Just one stick from the pack!)
On the pan, straight out of the oven...
Covered in melted butter and ready for consumption!
Deliciousness!!

Let me know if you try them and how they turn out for you!
 -Chels

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Winter Travels, Highlights, + Holidays

Catching up today with a last post of some highlights from our winter travels and holidays and special times in between! Here are a few favorite memories from November-January.
In early November, John and I flew to upstate NY to visit my grandparents for the weekend. It had never worked out for John to meet them while we were dating, and due to their health they were unable to attend any of the weddings in 2017, so this was John's first time to meet them. It was so special to be able to take this trip back to spend a few days with them. John combined it with a business meeting he had in the area, and it worked out perfectly. We had a lovely weekend attending church with them, playing games, visiting, and sharing family history and memories. I also got to introduce John to a number of additional relatives.

Several of my cousins and their kids came over to spend some time together one morning. So fun to get to catch up and reconnect!
My grandma with one of her thirty-four great-grandchildren!
My grandma can still cook the best meals-my mom came by her kitchen skills very naturally from Grandma!
Dinner time, with most of the food coming from the summer garden harvest.
So thankful for them!
The morning our flight left we woke up to this winter wonderland! So fun to catch the blizzard before we left! (we both LOVE snow!)
Thanksgiving week we spent with the Bontrager side in Iowa. (Thanksgiving Day gathering, above) We drove home on Wednesday to catch our scheduled photoshoot first, and then met up with my parents for a lovely double date at Longhorn. John and I had so many of our dates there at the Longhorn in Coralville, so he wanted to go on another one to that same location since it would be our first time back there since we were married. We asked my parents if they wanted to join us, and had such a grand time with them! 
We had roughly 70 of us gathered at my grandma's house Thanksgiving Day for a fun + lively day.  As usual, Grandma spoiled all of us with her numerous delectable pies. THE BEST.
Thanksgiving weekend we filled with time with friends + family. So good to see these friends again and spend some time together!
Saturday morning brunch.
Lunch out with our dear friends-my former pastor (who married us) and his wife (who was one of my bridesmaids).
Coffee with my sis at my favorite home town coffee joint
Saturday night the snow started coming down!
It was quite the weekend full of pulling vehicles out of ditches and late night escapades that involved chains, tractors, and cold temperatures! It was a Thanksgiving never to be forgotten! 
Sunday morning breakfast with Carson + Carolina at their beautiful cabin home.
Our Sunday Thanksgiving celebration.
The guys' Thanksgiving football game is a yearly tradition-snow or not!
Hanging with the little babies is ALWAYS a fav. Aren't they just the cutest?!
Back home in Leavenworth, a sweet friend from town here, along with my sis-in-law and her girls, hosted an adorable baby shower for me. I was so overwhelmed by everyone's kindness towards my little one-truly such a special time! 
What fun to be pregnant together at the same time!
With my dear grandma, mothers, sisters, and nieces who attended the shower. (minus Cassidy and Elissa, who had to leave early)
Dad + the brothers came down as well, the day of the shower, as they were all on their way to Texas for the Bible Bee. The time together was short but sweet!
Morning tea, cinnamon rolls, and chatting with my mother-in-law. I LOVE having all my inlaws living so close by and getting to spend lots of time together---it definitely helps me not to miss my Iowa family as much!
Kansas City has the best Craigs List deals...and my husband is a master at finding them! He got me this desk (free) and I love having my own permanent work space now, in his office with him. 
Christmas shopping + Starbucks with these dear sisters!
Special family nights with extended family visiting from out of town.
Christmas caroling crew!
My sweet husband totally surprised me with a super fast visit to Iowa to catch the last showing of my church's Live Animal Christmas Show. We were able to successfully shock my entire family. It was also great to see so many of my friends again.
Fun times with these little ones!
My sister hosted a single girls' retreat here in Kansas City and I cooked for them! Such fun! We had them over for dinner the first night.
Hospitality is one of our favorite things to do! In our first year of marriage, we figured out that we hosted over 250 people, from all over the USA, Canada, and overseas! Such a treat for us. 
We stayed home in Kansas for Christmas and had such a wonderful "first married Christmas" together making new memories and starting our own traditions! Christmas Eve was spent with our Maxwell side. There were lots of games, delicious food, thoughtful gifts, and quality family time.
How I love wrapping!
The guys out flying John's drone.
John and I with Lydia-I had her name in the gift exchange and sewed the dress she is wearing.
Three new Maxwells in one year!
Beginning our own Christmas Eve traditions...one of which is sleeping on the living room floor!
Husband cooking breakfast Christmas Day morning-little smokies and omelets!
Christmas Day lunch of French Dip sandwiches.
Games (Battle Line) at John's brother's house, Christmas afternoon.
Dinner out to celebrate our first anniversary!
Special candlelight dinner on December 30th.
We attended some friends' wedding in Kansas City.
Our kombucha production. We love this stuff!
We invited my family down for a two day visit over New Years!
We played lots of games and enjoyed lots of good food and conversation.
Above, Axis + Allies with the guys!
Special time with my mom.
This past fall/winter, I've enjoyed spending one afternoon a week with one of my sisters in law, helping with organizing projects or whatever needs to be done at their various homes. It has been a very fun way to get to know each of them and their families better. Here I am last week, reading stories with a group of nieces/nephews.
John's birthday dinner of hamburgers and sides!
We enjoyed having this little lady and her parents over for dinner one night.
We had part of the family over to celebrate John's 28th birthday. Soft pretzels, snacks, games, and family time made a wonderful evening!
Beautiful snow!
Another special date night!

Have a blessed weekend!
-Chels