Maybe you can get cheese where you live. If you can, be thankful.

If you can't, this article is for you. How do you enjoy the comfort of pizza without mozzerella cheese? Here's some ideas.

1) BBQ pizza - Homemade barbecue sauce, chicken or pork, peppers, and onions combine to make a great pizza that is good without cheese. Of course, if you do have some cheese that's even better. :-)

2) Chicken alfredo pizza - Parmesan cheese is easy to send over from the States because it doesn't have to be refridgerated. If you have parmesan, you can make a lovely alfredo sauce. (Most alfredo sauce recipes call for cream. Since we used milk powder, I just mixed it extra-rich and called it cream.) Add carmelized onions, spinach, and chicken to make a pizza your hubby will ask for again!

3) Cheeseburger pizza - if you have Velveeta cheese, cheese powder, or some other form of non-grateable cheese (is that a word?) you can make a thick white sauce and melt the cheese into it. Drizzle it over a pizza crust with marinara sauce, hamburger and onions.

4) Breadsticks with lots of garlic butter and marinara sauce for dipping are great. You'll feel like you had pizza and never miss the cheese!

5) Mexican Pizza - spread refried beans on the crust, sprinkle with taco meat, onions & peppers. If you have cheese (any kind) you can also add it at this point, but it's good without cheese. After baking, add fresh lettuce and salsa. I also like to drizzle with a little ranch dressing or plain yogurt seasoned with garlic & onion powder. So yummy!


As I am typing these ideas, I'm counting the number of recipes I could share: pizza crust, breadsticks, bbq sauce, alfredo sauce, white sauce, marinara sauce, refried beans. I can't share all of them in one post! Since pizza crust is the common denominator, I'm going to share that one. :-) Please let me know in the comments what other recipes you'd like to see!


Fast and Easy Pizza Crust

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon honey or sugar
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2-3 cups flour
  1. In a large bowl or in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix the water, honey, oil, yeast and salt. Add the flour gradually until a soft dough forms and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. The exact amount of flour will vary so go by the feel of the dough. The dough should be soft and smooth (not leaving a residue on your fingers but not really stiff, either).
  2. Knead the dough for 2-3 minutes (more like 5-6 minutes if kneading by hand).
  3. Let the dough rest, covered, for 10 minutes. Shape the dough into one large or two medium pizzas, spread with sauce and toppings, and bake at 475 or 500 degrees on a lightly greased baking sheet for 8-10 minutes.


One more very random fact - I chose pizza as my theme for this week's post in honor of a childhood friend. Her family's Thanksgiving celebration didn't include turkey or potatoes or cranberry sauce . . . their family tradition was homemade pizza. So if you're wondering what to do this year for Thanksgiving with no turkey, you might give it a try! :-)

Quiet time. We all need it. Some of us feel the need more strongly, or find that we need more of it than others. My husband loves hours of alone time to work on things. I, on the other hand, go crazy without someone to talk to after a while. :-) But we both find that our whole day goes better if we can have 30 minutes (or more) first thing in the morning to quiet our hearts before God, hear from His Word, and mentally/emotionally prepare for the day.

I have read articles or books that encourage parents to get up before their children, even if that means setting the alarm for 4am, so that you have quiet time in the morning. I'd love to, but that just doesn't work for me. When I'm up in the night with a nursing baby or pregnancy insomnia, I have to get what sleep I can - even if it means rising with my toddler at the late morning hour of 6am.

Yes, I said 6 am. Unfortunately, my boys have always been early risers. I suppose it's probably our fault for making sure they're in bed by 8pm every night. But we value those quiet moments in the evening, too! :-) So they're up with the sun - or even before sunrise - and that means Daddy and Mommy don't often have quiet time before there are little people awake and demanding attention.

So what do you do? How do you have the quiet time you need to get your day started right when you have children - especially very young children?

Here are a few ideas that have helped us. Not all of these can (or should) be incorporated at once - there are different ideas for different stages of life, and you need to do what works for your family. But hopefully something here can be helpful to you!

1) Realize that there are seasons . . . Right now I have a 3-month-old baby. He wakes up when he's hungry. Some mornings he wakes up at 5 and then goes back to sleep til 8. Other mornings he wakes up at 6 and doesn't go back to sleep. I have to feed him when he needs to eat. I have to change his diaper when it's messy. But this is a season - I know from experience that he will grow so fast, and very soon he won't need my constant and immediate attention (even if he still thinks he does!).

2) It's good for children to wait and respect your needs too. . . . Obviously I'm not talking about constantly pushing your children away and ignoring valid, urgent needs that they have. Our children need to know that they are a priority to us. But they also need to know that they aren't the center of the universe. And what better way to instill a respect for God's Word than for them to see you put a high value and priority on it in your own life?


3) Make your children stay in bed until you're ready for them to be awake. Right now my 2 year old consistently awakens at 6:30, but he is not allowed to get up until 7am. He has learned to quietly stay in bed, sometimes talking or singing to himself, until it's time to get up. But our little people can't read a clock yet. So how do they know when it's 7am? There are some really nifty alarm clocks you can purchase that change colors at set times, so preschoolers know when it's time to get up. What we did, rather than spend money on a special clock, was hook up the nightlight they already used to a timer such as this one. We set the timer to keep the light on all night and also during their naptime. When the nightlight turns off, they can get out of bed. It works great! It allows me to have a more peaceful morning, and be ready to greet the boys with a smile when they come down the stairs. Gone are the days of being frustrated at interrupted quiet times!

4) Have "blanket time". What we used to do, when our boys were younger, (we started when they were 6 months and 2.5yrs) was to allow them to get out of bed, but then require that they have a quiet time as well. As soon as they got up, I set them each on their own blanket on the floor with a bottle of milk, two books, and a small toy. They were not allowed to get off their blanket until Mommy was done reading her Bible. This was a wonderful respite at that stage of motherhood, and sometimes we did it again in the late afternoon if they needed to settle down from wild play. We also found this to be a wonderful habit when we were in strange places or traveling - it provided security and a quick way to settle down to just pull out their blankets and give them a couple books!

5) Teach them to have devotions too. When I was a child, we had a morning "tea time". All of us were old enough to read, but under age 14 or so. We all woke up with an alarm at the same time and came downstairs immediately for tea. Mom would have the water hot, and we'd all sit around the kitchen table sipping herbal tea while we read our Bibles. I still have really good memories of those mornings - the whole family (except Dad, who left early for work) sitting around the table in cozy early morning stillness. The only sounds were turning pages and sipping tea. I think we tried every flavor of herbal tea we could find in those days! It helped instill the habit of spending some quiet time before starting the days' chores - a habit I'm still thankful for!

6) Be willing to let things wait.  If you get started on your day's to-do list before you take time out with the Lord, you'll find it harder to make that time fit in. I try to make my devotional time the first thing I do every morning, even if it means that breakfast is a bit later, or the children don't get dressed right away.

7) Don't be legalistic about mornings. Personally, I'm a morning person and I think it just starts the day out right to have a few minutes with the Lord before I start my work. But if that's just not working for you, find another time. Can you do it while the toddler naps? Or in the evening? Try to chose a time that you can consistently set aside almost every day.

What are your ideas? How have you managed to keep your "quiet time" quiet? Let us know in the comments!

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Thanksgiving is almost here . . . just over a week away! It can be a challenge to figure out how to celebrate holidays when you live overseas. Is turkey available? Cranberry sauce? Do you know how to make your own stuffing from fresh bread instead of from a Stovetop Stuffing box? And how in the world are you going to make pumpkin pie?

Where we lived in West Africa, we couldn't get pumpkin. Once in a while, we stumbled on some butternut squash which made an okay substitute. But that couldn't be depended on. So I was very thankful for this secret substitute shared by one of my co-workers . . .


That's right, if you have papayas, you can use them in recipes as a substitute for pumpkin. Open the papaya, scoop out the seeds, and cut it into chunks like you would cut a cantalope melon. Boil in a small amount of water until soft, drain well, and mash. This pulp can be used just like pumpkin puree! I have to admit I was pretty skeptical at first, but I tried it and it really does work!

So here's my favorite pumpkin recipe (except for traditional pumpkin pie!). I made this cake using paypaya pretty regularly when we lived overseas!


Pumpkin Chocoate Chip Cake

2c. flour

1 tsp salt

2 tsp soda

1 tsp cinnamon

2c mashed pumpkin (or papaya, or winter squash)

3/4 c. oil

2 c. sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 c. nuts (optional)

1 c. chocolate chips


Sift together dry ingredients. Mix liquid ingredients and blend well. Add to dry ingredients. Mix well, using a mixer if you have one. Then gently stir in nuts & chocolate chips. Pour into a greased and floured 13x9 baking pan. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until done. This is a very moist cake that tastes delicious without frosting! It is also good with cream cheese or chocolate frosting. Or what I often did, when we couldn't get powdered sugar for frosting, is make a chocolate syrup to drizzle over the top when serving. Delicious! This cake also freezes well.


What is the most challenging food for you to make this Thanksgiving? What will you be missing because there is no way to get it or make it in your host country?