November 30, 2011

Isaiah 9:6 printable

November 30, 2011

This is one of my favorite scriptures and what better way to share it and celebrate it than with this printable.  I hope you enjoy!

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If you would like this printable for yourself click on the image – it will open up in a new window.  Then, right click and choose to “save image as…” and save it to your computer.


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Believing Boldly–Tim Tebow

Its no secret that I love college football.  I love the passion of the game and the elite competition that comes with the SEC.  When Tim Tebow made his college football debut with the University of Florida everything within me wanted to not like him simply because he played for Florida.  Hey, were SEC rivals, its just part of it.  But the fact is, he is just so darn likable!

For me it was initially the way he played the game – he had/has the heart of a lion, of a champion.  He was/is a competitor in every since of the word.  It was exciting to see him play and a thrill to hear him talk about the game of college football.  I remember the first time I realized he had scripture written under his eyes in paint, I thought, “oh cool”… but as time went on we learned more and more about his faith.  About how he spent his summers on mission trips with his father and his genuine love for the Lord.  How could you possibly not want someone like this to be successful?

As Tebow has made his entrance into the world of the national football league it seems his faith has been talked about as much as his passing game.  You actually have people asking, “does Tim Tebow’s expression of faith cross the line?”.  The critics have been relentless and the mocking has been like grade school antics.  Detroit Lions players Tulloch and Scheffler mocked Tebow during their game with the Broncos by doing what they have termed “Tebowing”.

Jen Floyd Engel from Fox Sports Exclusive wrote a terrific article called Why the heck do we hate Tim Tebow .  In the article she post the question, “What if Tim Tebow were a Muslim?”  If he were Muslims and was turning toward Mecca to give thanks to Allah – would he be mocked then??  Would people be ridiculing his faith then!?  And if they did, what would happen!?  Well, we know what would happen – the media would come out by the masses criticizing those who were mocking.  She sums up her article by saying “We have become so enamored of politically correct dogma that we protect every minority from even the slightest blush of insensitivity while letting the very institutions that the majority holds dear to be ridiculed. And this defense that Tebow invites such scrutiny with his willingness to publicly live as he privately believes calls into question what exactly it is we value.”

Tebow has handled the critics with grace and humility.  The bottom line is this – he makes people uncomfortable because his belief in our Lord is real and it is visible!  This is what I call Believing BOLDLY!.

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There is no doubt that God has a plan to use this young man in a mighty way.  Tebow has said before (I’m paraphrasing of course), “I am His instrument to be used as he sees fit”.  Friend, God wants to use you too!  He has a plan for all of us.  So I urge you (and I urge myself) live you Christian life with boldness and zeal – let your light shine!

Oh yeah, Go Broncos!


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November 29, 2011

Her First Slice

November 29, 2011

Pizza is one of Colton’s favorite things to eat.  Normally on the weekend we treat him with a couple of slices.  Last week I was super busy with preparing for Colton’s school auction so Friday it was a no-brainer to stop and pick some up for dinner. 

I placed Colton a piece on the table where he normally sits and turned to finish my conversation with Chris.  The next thing we knew this little chick – who has not ever really had anything more than a few bites of crust – was up in his seat chowing down!

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All we could do was crack up … and let her enjoy her first slice of pizza!

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The Great Santa Debate–Re-Publish

Its that time of year again ... yep, everyone is talking about Santa!  So I am biting my lip and deciding to republish this post:

Before having children of my own I never would have imagined that there would be such a great debate over the tale that is Santa! To be honest I never gave Santa much thought until we approached our first Christmas together as a family of three in 2008. We had several people make mention and ask us if we were going “to do” Santa with our children. This question provoked much thought between the two of us and a quick mutual decision not “to do” (doesn’t that sound so weird) Santa. I really did not think it was a big deal until I told a close friend and her response was, “if Colton ruins Christmas for my kid I will be so pissed!” (Friend, if you’re reading know that I love you!!) To be honest with you I was a little taken back and lacked words to respond. For those of you who know me, I know that may come as a shock. Had the conversation taken place now I think I would be better equipped to respond and respond in love.

Now, before you roll your eyes in disbelief or think I am a terrible of mom because I’m taking the “magic” out of Christmas, just give me a couple of moments to explain where I’m coming from. First, let me give you a little background… you may be surprised to hear how different the experiences of Chris and I were:

Growing up I never really remember a time when I thought that Santa Claus was real. My parents never made a big deal about him. I knew that my parents bought the gifts under my tree, and I realized that Santa and his sleigh pulled by flying reindeer was simply a story. Let me also explain that I was not raised in church. Yes, I went to church on occasion and I attended Sunday school for a short stint as a “bus child”, but my family was never active members of any church. With that being said I do not think that I fully understood the true meaning and magnitude of Christmas until I was a teenager when I accepted Christ as my personal Lord and Savior and became an active Christian. Yes, I knew that Christmas was supposed to be the time when baby Jesus was born, but I did not have a true understanding of what that meant.

Surprisingly enough (or maybe not) my husband’s experience was quite a bit different. Chris was raised in church from birth and came to know and accept Christ when he was eight years old. He recalls Santa being a big deal as a young kid. His parents were divorced when he was five and both homes did the Santa routine. Santa came on Christmas Eve dropped and dropped off a special gift for each child. Chris says he really do not remember when this whole routine came to an end (probably when his youngest sister finally realized Santa was not real) and surprisingly enough he says as a child he does not think that he really understood what the ‘real’ meaning of Christmas was. Christmas Eve has always been spent with Chris’ mom’s family. It was there that they sang some Christmas songs and read the Christmas story from the bible, “but for us kids”, Chris says, “It was just something we had to get through to wait to pen presents. We were never really explained in detail of the great importance of it all.”

I recently started a discussion in a Blog Frog community I’m a part of about this very topic and was amazed by the number of moms out there that feel the same way I do. It was actually very encouraging.

Our main reason for not encouraging this myth (other than the fact that it is a myth) is that Santa is invisible and God is unseen by human eyes (invisible) and we did not want there to ever be any question down the road about God being a “story” just like Santa. Yes, granted if your child is raised in a strong Christian home the likely hood of this happening is probably slim, but you never know and secondly, I do not want my son or daughter to ever question anything that I or their father tell them. A lie is a lie regardless as to why.

Christmas has become such a commercial holiday with way too much emphasis on getting and not giving. We were given a savior on Christmas morning over 2000 years ago and in our home I want that to be the focus. In order to help with this Chris and I have decided to make it a tradition to only do 3 gifts for our children and to each year read the Christmas story and explain about the 3 wise men bringing gifts to baby Jesus. I keep hearing over and over about the “magic” of Christmas, but honestly I do not want to focus on the magic, but rather the miracle of what Christmas represents.

Needless to say I am really taken back by parents who would freak out that another child might spill the beans about Santa for their kids. Let’s just take a moment and flip the scenario around. What about a kid who does not have Santa, or maybe even Christmas (Jews for example) at home and they are being told by your child “Santa is coming to my house to bring me gifts for Christmas because I have been a good boy/girl”. What is the difference here between your child and my child? Why is it okay for one and not for the other?

Granted there are no real answers here, but there should not be judgment being slung in either direction. I think a fellow mommy blogger said it best when she said, “Expecting our children to not talk to one another about what they believe is just asking for them to grow up to be adults who cannot listen to one another at all.” Talking to others about what they believe is one thing I want for both of my children as they get older. Whether they are talking about whom they believe to be the best football team or most importantly what they know and believe about Jesus. We are never too young to be a witness for Christ!

So to sum it all up, I in no way think that “doing Santa” is wrong, even for Christians, but we, the Brooks family have just chosen not to. This does not mean we will not read “The Night Before Christmas” or attempt to get our children’s picture taken with Santa and we will make an effort to be sensitive to the wishes of parents who decide to make Santa an active “member” in their Christmas celebration. On Christmas morning we plan on celebrating with a birthday cake for Jesus and join together in singing happy birthday to Him and then we will read the Christmas story and try our best to somewhat explain it to our 2 year old. We want this to be a yearly tradition in our family. Then we will let them open their three gifts from mom and dad.

Update to this post:

December 6, 2010

So I received a lot of buzz about "The Great Santa Debate" blog post. I received this message from a friend and mentor:

Last year our pastor and his wife who have taken the same approach to focusing on the real birth of  Jesus and not the story of Santa had a complete run in with their first child's baptist pre-school. The pre-school was angry with them because their son (who was a first year in pre-school) with honest sincerity kept telling the teacher there is no santa when she was trying to really play it up with the class. The school made the biggest deal about it and was really mad at the parents for their son not playing along. He is so sweet and was just being honest. He didn't understand why they were all trying to "Be good" so santa would bring them presents and "sprinkling reindeer food" out for Santa's reindeer, etc. They ended up just not returning to pre-school after the holiday break because they were osterisized so much over it. It was really a tragedy because she just tried to avoid Santa and the school just made it such a part of their crafts, etc.

This is just sad and absurd on so many levels!


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November 28, 2011

Imagination

November 28, 2011

Colton LOVES his dinosaurs.  His infatuation for dinosaurs has been going on forever.  My mom found these plastic dino’s in the dollar bin at wal-mart and they are one of Colton’s favorite things to play with.  Colton know the name of all of them – Tyrannosaurs Rex being his favorite of course.

A few days ago he ask to get up in my bed with his dinosaurs and so I obliged.  While I was picking up in my room he was talking and playing – it was the cutest thing ever… watching his imagination run wild.  At first he was “covering them up so they would not be cold” and then they played hide-n-seek. 

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He’s such a cutie!  Even if he does close his eyes almost every time I try to take a picture… I really need to learn to use my camera on manual mode!

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auction Idea–Praying Hands

Our school auction is our biggest fundraiser of the year.  This year I really wanted to incorporate some classroom “crafts” to have in the live auction.  While searching the internet I saw so many amazing ideas, but when I ran w this picture I knew I had to do this!

praying hands                                                        Source: Cavalier Pride Auction

Running short on time I knew that doing this and having it framed was not an option.  My first thought was to do a photo book, but then I ran across another great photo collage on Pinterest.

photo collage-10blog                                    Source: Bits of Everything

Bits of Everything is an awesome blog where five different sisters share all their great ideas.  On this particular post one of the sisters shows you how to make a fun photo collage using a black foam board, mod podge, and some of your favorite photos.

Here is what I created:

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I will admit that my first go round was a big flop!  My biggest mistake was that I used Matte mod podge and I used WAAYYYY too much!  The mod podge streaks, but if you use the shiny opposed to the matte you get a much better look without the streaking.  I also used a very small foam brush and I think it would have been easier with a larger brush. 

This project was so simple.  Using a X-acto paper trimmer I cut the pictures to size, in this one I used 4x4 photos.  Then I used permanent double stick tape to secure the pictures down before using the mod podge.  Then I put on a layer of mod podge and let it dry completely.  Finishing up the project I put a legend on the back so parents would know who’s hands were who’s. 

Last minute (the night before the auction) I decided to make a second one using another set of class photos.  This time I put the pictures on a piece of canvas rather than foam board.  The look of pictures was much nicer on canvas, however the double stick tape did not work as well on the canvas as it did on the foam board.  If I were doing it again I think I would try to glue down the pictures with the mod podge first rather than using the tape.

Both of these projects (I did not take a picture of the one on canvas) cost about $10 each to make and raised a couple hundred.  I call that a successful project!


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November 27, 2011

My Little Indian

November 27, 2011

My mother in law is fabulous with the sewing machine … and here is proof!

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Colton got to dress up as an Indian or Pilgrim for his Thanksgiving feast at school.  Deciding on an Indian was a no-brainer for us and my husbands mom made this fabulous Indian costume in one day.  She’s crazy like that… haha.  I may be biased and that is okay because I do have to say that he was the cutest Indian ever!


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My Sticker

Yep, I’m a total dork, but now a dork with a 13.1 sticker!  :)

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November 26, 2011

My Little Guy

November 26, 2011

Yesterday, he was the sweetest little man ever while having his photos taken.  Today, he is a sick little guy.  Please say a prayer for my Colton that he will feel better very soon.

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November 25, 2011

Christmas Photos Sneak Peak

November 25, 2011

Today we had our Christmas pictures taken.  I am blessed to have great friends with great talent!  My girlfriend Christine shot our photos last year for our Christmas card and it was a no-brainer to ask her to do them again.

Colton was more cooperative for these photos than any we have ever done.  He has a total ham!  Here is the proof:

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Could you not just squeeze those cheeks!?  We cannot wait to see the rest!


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November 24, 2011

Drawing

November 24, 2011

Have I mentioned lately that he like dinosaurs???  haha…

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Can you guess what he is doing here?

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He was off playing alone in his playroom and Chris spotted him trying to draw his Spinosaurus.  Just too darn cute!


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November 23, 2011

A Running Fool

November 23, 2011

Up until about two months ago I never ran with music.  I have had running partners who ran consistently with their IPods, but I had no desire to add noise to my workouts.  Once I was left to run solo I thought I would give it a try.  We had an old IPod at the house so Chris uploaded me a playlist and off I went.  It did not take long for me to become hooked.

That old IPod lasted about a month – I fried it by putting it inside my sports bra!  No fear though, my wonderful hubby surprised me with a new one!  I was totally willing to use his and let him get a new one, but he thought differently and bought me the new Nano, in orange none the less!

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I love my new IPod and I especially love the playlist he has made for me.  The running playlist is packed with upbeat praise and worship music.

My last long run before my half marathon was last Saturday.  The weather was perfect and I was shooting for 10 miles, something I had done the previous two Saturdays.  My runs takes place on a beautiful college campus right down from my house.  Around 8 1/2 miles I was on the back stretch of the campus with the most amazing view of the mountains.  For the past hour it had been me and the Lord and my IPod.  My run had gone perfect thus far and when I realized I was going to make it to double digits again the excitement ran through me like lightening.  Ahh… then I started listening to the words of the new song playing:

I love the Lord for He head my voice
And answered my cry for mercy
Because He listened to me
I will call upon Him as long as I live
What shall I render to the Giver of life and who all things are made
What shall I render to the One who paints the oceans blue
Jesus Christ

As if those words are not enough then comes the chorus:

I will lift up a cup of salvation
Call on the Name of the Lord
How do I repay the life that You gave
I'll call on the Name of the Lord
Lift up a cup, You have already poured

At this point all I could think of was how merciful and how great the Lord had been to me.  My hands stretched to the air as I was running offering praise and worship to Him … the GIVER of life.  My surroundings were the last thing on my mind for that brief moment.  Then there is was, a car load of college students!  They drove by with a girl in the back seat hanging out the window fist pumping and yelling at me “yeah!!  yeah!!”.  I could not help, but to crack up!  They must have thought I was a running fool.  To tell you the truth though, I did not care.

Sometimes in our Christian walk others are going to think were foolish.  Maybe it is because we believe in the one true God of the bible or maybe it is because of the way we worship.  Its important for us to remember that we are not of this world.  Scripture reminds us that the Lord has called us to come out of the world (John 15:19) and be separate (II Corinthian 6:17).  It is not always to do, I know for me it is a daily battle.

Friends, I want to encourage you!  Children of God go out and do not be ashamed to give the Lord the praise that he so rightfully deserves!  If you are reading this and you do not have a personal relationship with The Giver of Life I beg of you to find someone who can tell you how to accept Christ in your life, I am also always here to help and give guidance where I can!

Much Love!


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November 22, 2011

Love of Books

November 22, 2011

Colton’s love for books goes back as far as I can remember.  When he was still in the crib, he would wake from his nap and immediately want a book.  He would sit in his crib flipping through his favorite books for as long as I would let him.

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Claire’s love has seemed to come on a little later, but nonetheless she is now an avid book lover!  In perfect toddler style she has her favorites “LaLaLa” as she refers to one of her favorites and “Special” which is a Veggie Tales Book that she loves.

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Seeing these two sit like this next to one another enjoying a good book makes my heart melt!


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Butter Toffee Popcorn

As soon as I saw this recipe I knew I would be making it this winter!  I normally make Almond Bark for friends and delivery guys, but I think this popcorn will make great gifts too.

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Mel from Mel’s Kitchen Café is showing it here in a plastic gift bag with a cute bow or you could also put it in a Chinese take out box!  I love this idea!  If you need a recipe Mel’s Kitchen Café is the place to go.  She has anything and everything you could ever need.  Appetizers, Rice, Pies & Pastries, Snacks, Sauces, Side Dishes, and so much more!

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*Note: you want about 18 cups of popped corn. I’ve found that about 1/4 cup of unpopped kernels yields about 5 1/2 to 6 cups popped corn. While the recipe calls for 3/4 cup unpopped kernels, be sure to only add it a bit at a time in shifts according to your popcorn popper so the kernels don’t burn.

INGREDIENTS:
3/4 cup unpopped popcorn kernels, white or yellow
2 sticks butter
2 1/4 cups light brown sugar
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
2-3 cups roasted, salted peanuts

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Grease two large rimmed baking sheets and set aside.

Pop the popcorn kernels, in shifts if needed to ensure your popcorn popper doesn’t burn the popcorn, and place the popcorn in a large bowl, sifting through to remove the unpopped kernels.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. When melted add the brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil while stirring. Once the mixture starts boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring often, for 3 minutes. The mixture will be slightly thickened. Take the pot off the heat and stir in the vanilla and baking soda. The mixture will bubble so be careful. Pour the caramel over the popcorn and mix slightly. Add the peanuts and mix well but gently (so you don’t break apart the popcorn) until the popcorn is evenly coated and the peanuts are distributed through the mixture.

Turn the popcorn out onto the baking sheets, spreading into an even layer. Bake the popcorn for one hour, stirring and tossing every 20 minutes. Move the bottom tray to the upper rack and vice versa each time you stir. The popcorn will deepen in color and harden a bit as the caramel bakes and sets. Cool the popcorn to room temperature. Store in an airtight container. I’ve found the popcorn will keep, stored tightly, for 1-2 weeks.

Recipe Source: from My Kitchen Café

Pop your popcord and then sift through the popcorn to get all the unpopped kernels out (unless you like to get dental work done!) and put the popped corn in a large bowl.

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In a saucepan, melt the butter

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add the brown sugar, corn syrup and salt.

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As it heats slowly, the sugar will dissolve and the mixture will appear smooth.

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Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for three minutes.

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This is how the mixture should look right when it is removed from the heat after it has simmered for three minutes.

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As you add the soda and vanilla, the mixture will foam a bit so be careful. I don’t want anyone suing me for hot bubble injuries. No offense.

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Pour the caramel over the corn and with two wooden spoons or the like, start mixing. Add the peanuts after mixing for just a bit.

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Mix until the popcorn is well coated.

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Spread onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake and try to let cool before devouring!

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Enjoy!

You can also keep updated on Mel’s great recipes on Facebook – go check her out!


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November 21, 2011

13.1

November 21, 2011

I have so much to say about my first half marathon that I almost do not know where to start.  I guess we can start with this picture.

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My goal was 2:10 and I was really worried that if I did not make it in that amount of time that I would be so upset with myself – because I am so darn competitive!  Well… I have say without reservation that the extra 10 min does not even matter to me now.  It gives me something more to aim for next time.  I will say though that this is my slowest pace ever!

The way I felt yesterday was anything, but ideal for a run like this.  Had I felt this bad on a normal training run I would have cut the run short and headed for the house.  Cutting it short, or even walking for that matter was not an option for me – so I chugged along and crossed that finish line arms pumping.

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I am incredibly grateful to my supportive husband for all he has done to help me achieve this goal.  Without Chris and the help of the Lord I would have never been able to do this.

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Maple Pecan Streusel Pumpkin Bread

Lindsey Bell from Hot Polka Dot is our second (or is it third??) Canadian to be featured during the 30 days of desserts!  She is writing to us from Alberta, Canada.  Lindsey is an artist, she enjoys baking, cooking, writing, art, and of course design.  You can learn more about her and her artsy creations on her blog, Facebook, and of course you can follow her on twitter.  One of her dessert creations is this Maple Pecan Streusel Pumpkin Bread! 

 

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Maple Pecan Streusel Pumpkin Bread

1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 egg
1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled
1/4 cup pecans, chopped

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Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and place a rack in the middle. Butter a 9 inch loaf pan then fit a piece of parchment paper inside the pan with a little overhang to grasp easily. Set it aside.

Whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and pumpkin pie spice in a small bowl.

In a larger bowl mix the pumpkin puree, sugar, maple syrup, egg and oil. Add the dry ingredients and blend until it's just combined.

In a small bowl whisk together the flour, sugar and pumpkin pie spice then cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two knives until it resembles pea sized chunks. Toss it with the chopped pecans.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth out the top with a spatula. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the top.

Bake it for 30 – 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let it cool in the pan for about 5 – 10 minutes before lifting it out using the parchment paper overhang to cool completely on a rack. Slice and enjoy!

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