Saturday, December 29, 2007

Multiple Recipes of the Week

Okay, so I've been very lax about posting my recipes of the week. Here, I try to make up for it! Here are some of my very favorite recipes.

Most of them are from Zonya Foco, who is a Registered Dietitian and has a FABULOUS cookbook called Lickety Split Meals: For Health Conscious People on the Go. I highly recommend this cookbook; everything I have made out of this cookbook has been well embraced by myself and my family - even my 6 and 7 1/2 year old boys!

Oven Baked Lentils and Rice - My 6 year old requested this for his birthday meal this past winter.

Beef and Barley Soup
- We really enjoy our slow-cooker and love the fact that when we've had a busy day and come home, dinner smells so good that my boys can't wait for dinner time. Hooray!

Beef Stroganoff - My Dearest absolutely loathes Beef Stroganoff, but he really enjoys this recipe!

Salmon Burgers - An easy way to get Omega-3 in our diet.

Salmon fillets a la ScrappyMom
Season your salmon with salt, pepper, and lay sliced lemons over, completely covering it. Bake or broil until done. Enjoy with brown rice and vegetables of your choice.

Bon Appetit!!

Friday, December 28, 2007

So Much Easier!

I was trying to create some .jpg and .pdf items for my scrapbooking website and as I was away from home, I couldn't do my usual multi-process solution: Print, scan, save, and then use it as needed.

My brother-in-law, who is very computer-savvy, suggested an Open Source program for a pdf creator. I googled it, asked if what I found was the correct one, downloaded it, and started creating all sorts of .jpgs and .pdfs. So happy!! It's so easy to use and even better yet is that there is no cost! Want to try it? Go here.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!!

Shannonn tagged me before I had a chance!
Perhaps it is because I haven't posted in so long, huh? I'll be back to "schedule" soon.

In the mean time...
Merry Christmas!


For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called,
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6, ESV

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Homemade Tofu

Here's a unique Recipe of the Week - Homemade Tofu!

When we were at my parent's for Thankgiving, my sister wanted to learn how to make tofu and I sat in on the lesson. Little did I know I was as interested and I ended up helping quite a bit, due to my sister's "delicate condition." Quick side note - yes, my sister is pregnant with their first child and boy, is everyone excited! Our boys have been praying for their cousin, aunt and uncle; it touches my heart so.

This recipe is time consuming, but tastes so much better than what you'd find in the stores. Apparently, tofu in it's natural state is very perishable and commercially available tofu tastes plastic-y, according to my parents. I have also wondered what kind of additives and preservatives are in commercially available tofu to make them last on store shelves.

My parents double this recipe when they make tofu, but I don't think most of us have stock pots large enough to accommodate this recipe doubled.

Ingredients & Necessary supplies:
2 1/2 c. dried soybeans
Water
2 T. Epsom salt
Large cotton bag with a narrow opening
Large muslin or poly piece of fabric
Large stock pot
Ladle
Flat paddle-type spatula
Basket with drainage holes

Soak 2 1/2 c. soybeans overnight in about 10 cups of water. Rinse beans and water until clear.

Blend with two times as much cold water as beans. (1 ladle of beans, 2 ladles of cold water)

Pour bean mixture into a large cotton/poly bag. Repeat with remaining soaked beans.

Close the bag (or hold the opening shut) as you extract as much of the liquid as you can out of the cotton bag by squeezing and rubbing the bag. Remove extracted liquid into a large stock pot

Pour warm water into the bag and continue extracting liquid from the bag, then removing extracted liquid into pot.

When all of the liquid is extracted, the soybean remains should be dry and crumbly.

Bring the soybean liquid to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cover and turn heat off for 10 - 15 minutes. No peeking!

Dissolve 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt in 2 cups of water.

Drizzle 2 tablespoons of Epsom water over the surface of the soybean liquid. Stir once using flat-paddle type of spatula. Cover for 10 minutes. The Epsom water and heat will start to separate the soybean curd from the water. When you stir once, you will start to feel some resistance from the curd.

Repeat with all of the Epsom water. The water and soybean curd will start to separate, the water on top will be straw-colored and clear.

Ladle off as much water as you can. Moisten a large muslin or poly cloth, line your basket (we used an organizing basket with "latticed" sides for the excess moisture to escape) with the moistened cloth. Pour tofu into the "mold," then fold excess cloth over the top. Lay a heavy weight that fits onto the surface to drain out the rest of the water. Let sit overnight.

The next morning, invert tofu onto a cutting board, cut into portion sizes. Place tofu into a container and add enough fresh water so that it just floats. If tofu isn't prepared and eaten right away, drain and add fresh cool water every other day to keep fresh. Tofu will keep fresh with this method for 2 to 3 weeks.

Fresh tofu is hard work, I won't deny it, but the taste is so worth it.

Chal muh-guh-sae yo!

Christmas Trivia

Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Both

2. Real tree or Artificial? Artificial

3. When do you put up the tree? After Isaac's birthday

4. When do you take the tree down? Early January

5. Do you like egg nog? Usually just a cup or two per year

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Nothing comes to mind

8. Hardest person to buy for? My Dearest

9. Easiest person to buy for? My kids!

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Have you heard of the Cobbler's children?

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? I know I've gotten a couple of things but can't think of them off the top of my head.

12. Favorite Christmas movie? Charlie Brown Christmas - I think it counts! Plus all of the Home Alone movies.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Early December

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Nope! I keep everything I get!

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Potato Pancakes (latkes) and the cookies!

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Colored

17. Favorite Christmas song? Christmas hymns are my favorite!

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Stay home

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeers? Perhaps if I tried really hard.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Star

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas morning

22 . Most annoying thing about this time of year? Shopping for groceries and trying to find a parking spot

23. Favorite ornament theme or color? The ones my kids have made

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? No tradition, it varies every year.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? Hmmmm... nothing, really.


Want to play along? Just leave me a post telling me.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Words, words, words...

We are spending Thanksgiving with my family. My sister and brother-in-law are coming into town and I am looking forward to it. We are a loud bunch, fond of playing Scum, Dutch Blitz, Speed Scrabble, and Euchre. We like our numbers and words.

Why not make a difference with a love of words? Here, I scored over 600 grains of rice and have a vocab level of .... well, let's not say. Let's just say I wish my score was higher.

Spinach Salad with Apple, Pomegranate, and Celery

This has become one of my favorite salads! I first had it at one of my customer's homes at her scrapbook class. She insisted I try it and I'm glad I did!

Ingredients:

3 c. chopped apple
1 pomegranate worth of seeds
3 ribs of celery, chopped
9 oz baby spinach leaves
1/4 c toasted nuts (optional)
1/2 to 2/3 c. Honey Dijon Dressing*

Honey Dijon Dressing
3/4 c mayo
3/4 c. plain yogurt
1 T sugar
3 T honey
3 T Dijon mustard
2 T vinegar
1/2 c. oil (I used olive)
1 T dried parsley

Blend all ingredients except for oil and parsley in blender.
With blender running, slowly add oil.
Blend in parsley.
Keeps for about 1 week.

To assemble salad:
Combine apple, pomegranate seeds, and celery with 1/2 to 2/3 cup honey dijon dressing.
Just before serving, toss with the spinach leaves. Sprinkle with toasted nuts.

Bon Appetit!!

Yes, this would be the second Recipe of the Week recipes. Enjoy!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Four Things...

Four Things You May or May Not Know About Me


Four jobs I have had in my life:

1. Nanny
2. Waitress
3. Receptionist - ICEE
4. Homeschooling Mom :-)

Movies I Would Watch Over and Over:

1. Pride & Prejudice - BBC Version
2. Lord of the Rings Trilogy
3. Bend it Like Beckham
4. The Italian Job

Four TV Shows that I watch:

1. Chuck
2. Heroes
3. The Office
4. The Unit

Four Places I have been:

1. Korea
2. California (up and down the coast)
3. Nantucket
4. Martha's Vineyard

Four People who E-mail / Call Me Often:

1. My Dearest
2. Brother
3. Sister

Four of My Favorite Foods

1. Mexican
2. Thai
3. Spinach, Pomegranate, and Apple salad
4. Clementine Tangerines, any fruit really.

Four places I would rather be right now:

1. Mackinac Island
2. Chicago
3. A warm beach
4. Anywhere with my family

Things I am looking forward to this year:

1. Thanksgiving and Christmas
2. Moving into our brand new church buildling
3. Regency Ball at my church (1800's style English Ball)
4. Watching my children learn


Want to play? Consider yourself tagged and please let me know you decided to play!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Homeschooling Wish List

I just came across some homeschool humor - a wishlist from homeschoolers to non-homeschoolers. I found this over at Consent for the Governed.


Here are some of my favorites:

1. Please stop asking us if it's legal. If it is — and it is — it's insulting to imply that we're criminals. And if we were criminals, would we admit it?

2. Learn what the words "socialize" and "socialization" mean, and use the one you really mean instead of mixing them up the way you do now. Socializing means hanging out with other people for fun. Socialization means having acquired the skills necessary to do so successfully and pleasantly. If you're talking to me and my kids, that means that we do in fact go outside now and then to visit the other human beings on the planet, and you can safely assume that we've got a decent grasp of both concepts.

10. We didn't go through all the reading, learning, thinking, weighing of options, experimenting, and worrying that goes into homeschooling just to annoy you. Really. This was a deeply personal decision, tailored to the specifics of our family. Stop taking the bare fact of our being homeschoolers as either an affront or a judgment about your own educational decisions.

14. Stop assuming that because the word "school" is right there in homeschool, we must sit around at a desk for six or eight hours every day, just like your kid does. Even if we're into the "school" side of education — and many of us prefer a more organic approach — we can burn through a lot of material a lot more efficiently, because we don't have to gear our lessons to the lowest common denominator.

To see the complete list of 25 wishes, visit here.

Please realize that just because I homeschool doesn't mean that I think that you should. I feel very strongly about every parent's right to educate their child in the matter best suited to that child and family situation. I know that we as parents make decisions based on the best interests of our child(ren). I don't want that right questioned or taken away.

Rear Sensors ... on CARS!

Did you know that if you drive a car with a rear-impact sensor not only will it detect when you are about to hit something or someone, but it will do the complimentary - it also will sound when someone gets too close to you.

I found this out from my neighbor who owns such a car and was sitting at a railroad crossing when the car behind her decided that if they creeped right up to her bumper, the train just might move on the tracks faster and they might be able to cross the tracks quicker. All of a sudden, her sensor starts beeping and she had no idea why! She finally figured it out and scooted forward a bit, but so did the sensor-offending car behind her. Only when the train cleared the tracks and traffic resumed, did it stop.

Okay, since I've been informed I have been on the lookout for these cars - not to harrass them, but only becuase they have a distinguishing characteristic on their bumper. Today, I wasn't paying attention, but my Dearest was.

We were turning off the freeway/expressway/whatever you call the Interstate and into a left turn lane that had quite a few cars in it already. Our van wasn't quite in the lane and had it's right rear end jutting out into the lane next to us. I could clearly see the rear bumper of the car in front of the car in front of us through it's windshield, but they were not inclined to move forward. Since they were not creeping forward, I creeped a bit to get the rest of our van into the lane and not disrupt traffic in the lane next to us. This is when my Dearest noticed that this car in front of us had a rear-sensor. He said, "Hey, they have a sensor in their bumper! If we get closer, they will start beeping and move forward!" We started laughing uproariously at the though and idea. Ethan asked us what we were laughing about and we explained to him about this feature. Isaac then asked, "May we do that, please?"

Recipe of the Week

Okay, Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming! It seems that everyone has something that works for them - ordering Chinese, preparing a prized recipe handed down through the generations or experimenting every year with something different. How about some awesome breakfast recipes?? Dinner is not the only meal, people! These are my absolutely favorite and easy breakfast recipes, unless my Dearest is making his pancakes. That recipe to come next week!


Baked Oatmeal Vegan Style
We are not vegans, but Dearest's sister is and his brother and sis-in-law are vegetarians.

Ingredients:
½ c each brown and white sugar
½ cup oil
3 c Rice Dream
4 c oatmeal
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 chopped apples
dried cranberries
cinnamon

Directions:
  1. Mix all ingredients thoroughly.
  2. Preheat oven 350*. Grease 9x13 pan. Pour in the oatmeal. Bake for 30 minutes.
  3. If you sprinkle cinnamon on top before baking, run the spatula over it so it gets a little wet & won’t burn.
This is very tasty served in a bowl with Rice Dream.



Baked Oatmeal, non-Vegan and non-Vegetarian Style

Ingredients:
~1 c sugar (brown, white or a mix)
2 – 3 eggs
½ cup oil
3 c milk
4 – 5 c oatmeal
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
raisins
cinnamon
a finely chopped apple


Directions
  1. Mix sugar and eggs.
  2. Add oil and milk. Mix thoroughly.
  3. Add oatmeal, salt, and baking powder. Mix thoroughly.
  4. Preheat oven 350*. Grease 9x13 pan. Pour in the oatmeal. Bake for 30 minutes.


Egg Casserole

Ingredients:
potato patties or hash brown potatoes
8 eggs, beaten
1 c. milk
1 lb breakfast meat, cooked
shredded cheese

Directions:
  1. Lightly grease a 9x13 pan. Layer the potatoes in the bottom of the pan (if using patties, a single layer, if using shredded potatoes, about 3/4 inches deep)
  2. Mix eggs and milk. Pour over potatoes.
  3. Scatter breakfast meat and cheese over eggs. Refrigerate overnight.
  4. Preheat oven to 350* and bake about 45 minutes until eggs are set.


Overnight Caramel French Toast

Ingredients:
1 c. brown sugar
1 stick butter
2 T light corn syrup
12 slices bread
6 eggs, beaten
1 ½ c. milk
1 t. vanilla
¼ t. salt

Directions:
  1. Combine brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup in saucepan and bring to a light boil, just until sugar melts and mixture looks like caramel.
  2. Spread mixture evenly into bottom of 9x13 pan.
  3. Place 6 slices of bread on top of syrup. Cover with remaining 6 slices. – You should have 2 layers of bread, each layer with 6 slices.
  4. Blend remaining ingredients and pour over the bread slices evenly.
  5. Cover and refrigerate overnight (about 8 hours)
  6. Place in pre-heated 350* oven for 45 minutes


These recipes was originally posted on Jan 1, 2007.

Bon Appetit!

Monday, November 12, 2007

While We Were Out

My Dearest and I went out this past weekend and spent some time with friends from church, as we do monthly, to play Euchre. Participants bring a snack to share and an "entrance fee," a small gift with our favorite Bible verse taped to it.

This past time, everyone brought some Christmas gift-wrapping supply item (wrapping paper, gift bags, Christmas cards, etc.). We play tournament-style, changing partners after each game. After we finish playing, we tally out points and pick our prize from the entrance fees that were brought. We had a fun time and I even placed 2nd out of 8 players; I usually place in the bottom half. YAY me!

When we got home, we had a fun recap of the evening from my m-i-l. I learn so much about our children every time someone else watches them!

Isaac picked up Gram-Gram's water bottle and proclaimed, "Gram-Gram! You need to stop drinking this water right now! It has total carbs!"

I'm trying to be a better steward of my family's health and improving our eating habits. I have always been a foodie, and have been reading labels and apparently, my boys have picked up on my habit. I have tried to tell them that it's not just the words, but the number accompanying the words. That part hasn't stuck yet.

We rarely eat fast-food, but if we do, our fast-food of choice is Wendy's. Another funny moment was Ethan asking Gram-Gram, "Will you take my to McDonald's?" She responds that there is too much fat in their food. He responds with, "But, Gram-Gram, I need you to drive me there so I can put up my sign in their window that says, 'Stop the Fat!'" The funny thing is that he hasn't been exposed to low-fat food, low-carb diets, or protests. He's a one boy protest.

Recipe of the Week

With the thought of hosting family over the holidays, I thought I'd repost one of my favorite recipes. According to my friend Nikki, this has become one of her friend's favorite recipes as well. This recipe was originally posted on Sept 2, 2006.


From my friend Mary:

Mary's Awesome Pork Dish

Combine:
1/3 c flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper

Use flour mixture to dredge:
2 lbs pork loin, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
Sear pork in skillet, place into ungreased 9x13 pan.

Saute:
2 T. butter
1 c chopped celery or onion (if you don't like onions, celery works well instead)

Add and boil:
1 garlic clove, minced
2 c applesauce
¼ c brown sugar
¼ c soy sauce
¼ c apple juice
½ tsp ground ginger

Pour mixture over pork into 9x13 pan. Bake @ 350* for 1 hour. Serve with garlic mashed potatoes or rice and your choice of veggie.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Drumroll, please!!

Thanks to my random number generator, the winner of my Fall Ya'll Giveaway is Entrant # 39 - Shannon! If I don't hear from her by Tuesday, November 6, I'll choose another winner.

Congratulations, Shannon!!

It's Fall Ya'll!!

***Sticky Post!***
All other posts will appear below this one until the winner has been chosen for my drawing!


The weather is crisp, leaves are gorgeous and Rocks in My Dryer is hosting her Fall Ya'll Giveaway! Her last one was so much fun! I think my counter just recently recovered from my last giveaway. It needs a workout every now and again, don't you think? :-)

Here's what I'm giving away this time:




The winner will receive 2 each of 4 card designs, 8 envelopes, a card holder, and a matching pen!

Fine Print:
To enter my drawing, please leave a comment!
You do not have to have a blog to enter.
Please be sure to leave an email address so I can contact you if you are the winner!
Unfortunately, I can ship to U.S. addresses only.
I will close the comments on Friday, Nov. 2 at 4 pm Eastern and draw a winner using a random number generator.
These cards and holder are made using Close To My Heart products (stamps, inks, and papers) and are copyright by Close To My Heart.

You might be my winner!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Not a Perfect Week

It's Tuesday. The morning after. After Monday Night Football, that is. I picked the wrong team to win last night's game. It seems Favre's arm does work well in the cold. He does play for GB, after all. That's a pretty cold city. Plus they play outdoors, not in a dome. He is also the most experienced QB in the league, as well. I guess I should have taken that into consideration before I picked Denver over GB. I assumed that the altitude would be more of an issue than it was. I guess the game day temp being in the high 60s made up for whatever altitude issues they might have encountered.

Nevertheless, I am in the lead for the week, and I have tied scores and rankings with My Dearest. I still say, Game On!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Go see her!

I met Karen at my moms group last Spring. (The group was previously affiliated with MOPS, but decided to branch out on their own, creating their own independent group.)

Karen is an awesome speaker. She has lots of wisdom and encouragement for mothers, as we are in the trenches on Planet Motherhood. By the way, she is not my Mrs. H, although the initial fits, lol!

She is giving away a copy of her book, "Confessions of an Irritable Mother." Click on the book image to enter for your own copy and tell her you came from my blog!

Forgive me, I don't know how to underline book titles in blogger!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Recipe of the Week: Chicken, Artichoke, and Rice Bake

I think Fall is actually here! We're supposed to dip below the freezing point tonight. That means slow-cookers, casseroles, and comfort-food recipes to come! I tweaked a classic Campbell's soup and rice recipe for this much-loved recipe in our house.


Chicken, Artichoke, and Rice Bake

Combine and turn into a lightly oiled 9x13 pan:
1 - 10 3/4 oz. cream of mushroom soup
1 1/3 c. water
3/4 c. uncooked rice
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 - jar artichokes, drained and chopped

Place 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts on top of rice mixture. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 375* for 45 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

Guten Appetit!

Week 8 Wins!



I don't normally blog about football, but I'm SO. EXCITED. ABOUT. THIS! You know I like football. You know I do picks. THIS. IS. THE. FIRST. TIME. EVER. that I've picked correctly for the whole day, let alone perhaps an entire week's picks. In the last 3 years I've picked, I don't think I've ever picked anywhere near 100%.

I'm not as confident about Monday Night Football. I've picked Denver over Green Bay. I know Brett Favre has been really unstoppable this season, but I think the altitude is going to be an issue for him and the rest of the GB team, although not too much of one as I've picked a fairly low-scoring game with a ten point difference between the two teams. Yes, I call 27-17 a fairly low-scoring game. Have you seen New England's scores this season? They've been averaging over 40 points for each game. Okay, perhaps not an ordinary example. How about Indianapolis? They average over 30 points scored per game. Okay, maybe another extraordinary example. Okay, I've called a moderately exciting football game based on my predicted score. We'll see how it goes.

Fall Ya'll!

Well, I've been pondering this give away thing for a couple of weeks. Do I give something away? Do I just sit this one out? What to do??

Well, I've decided to join the fun again! My giveaway will be posted sometime tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Gym and Ice

The boys have been taking gym classes at our local sports/recreation complex. They have a fun program for children which meets weekly, and we decided it would be a sanity saver to put our children in an organized physical education program. Plus, I thought I'd take the time to ice skate while they were in class. 2 uninterrupted hours of cool, ice skating bliss. After the previous ice skating incident, I was a bit hesitant to get back on the ice, but the uninterrupted time was calling my name!

The first week, I had to prep a scrapbooking workshop so I spent my time cutting paper. The second week I had a dermatologists appointment for a spot of what turned out to be eczema, which I need to treat with a topical cream.

This past week, I did it! I started out finishing some cards, adhering card fronts to card bases that have just been begging me to make them into complete cards. After I finished, Jessica and Lydia, 2 high school aged gals from my homeschool group, compelled me to join them skating. After getting my rental skates and starting to lace them, Andy, the employee who filled out my accident report before, saw me and asked, "Is this such a good idea?" I could see that he just had visions of filling out another report, collecting statements from witnesses, and I could just see him heading back to the office to get the clipboard at the ready, just in case.

I was undaunted and we had a blast. These two gals were so much fun and encouraging about me getting back on the ice. I noticed that Andy was standing out by one of the windows talking to another employee as we were skating. The girls and I had a fun time imagining their conversation and poking fun at my previous ice skating incident.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Car Update

Well, it's been a few months since our car issues started. It has been resolved, I just haven't updated ya'll. Here's the update!

We remembered that one family was selling their Honda Odyssey and we decided that it would be great to have more cargo room, especially since we seem to like this camping thing and we're planning on making it a yearly event. No more Big Mac box on top of the car! :-) Do you know what I'm talking about? Are you too young to remember Big Mac boxes made out of Styrofoam?

Anyhow, we are the owners of a mini-van. It's a 2000 Honda Odyssey EX with a hauling package of some sort. We have had it since sometime in August. The boys love the automatic doors; I admit, I do too, especially when it's raining! I'm not even ashamed to admit I like driving it. :-)

Recipe of the Week: Crab Dip

Nikki replied to my Foodie post and I had forgotten about my Crab Dip recipe! It's time to revive it as the holidays are coming (yikes!!) and this dip is great to take to your holiday gatherings.


Crab Dip

Mix thoroughly:
2 - 8 oz Neufchatel cheese, softened*
1 - 6 oz can crab meat
1/4 c. finely chopped onion
5 dashes Worchestershire sauce
3/4 c. cocktail sauce (or until creamy or to taste)

*Feel free to use regular cream cheese, if you prefer.

Chill at least 1 hour before serving. Serve with textured crackers.

Guten Appetit!

Last Week's Recipe of the Week: Turkey Barley Chili

We have one eater in our family who is particular about certain foods. Actually, I don't think it's the food, it may be the texture of the food. Anyhow, this is one recipe that my particular eater has requested and is enthusiastic to eat! For those with cholesterol issues - did you know that barley is better at lowering cholesterol than oat?


Turkey Barley Chili - modified from Quaker (Chicken Barley Chili)

Brown 20 oz ground, lean turkey in a large pot.

Add:
1 - 14.5 oz can diced tomato, undrained
1 - 16 oz can tomato sauce
1 - 14.5 oz chicken stock
1 1/2 c. pearled barley
4 c. water
1 T chili powder
1 tsp cumin

Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer 15 - 20 minutes.


Add:
1 - 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 - 15 oz can whole kernel corn, undrained

Simmer until barley is tender and beans and corn are warmed through.


Bon Appetit!

A Breath of Fresh Air

Forgive me for not posting this week. Today is my day to post last week's and this week's recipe of the week, along with some tidbits of wisdom I've gathered.

Earlier this week at my Moms group, I dropped my boys off in their classrooms and feigned casual-ness as I asked their teacher how they had been behaving and acting, as they have had days where I'm ready to tear my hair out and send them to the moon. Hopefully, they would act better than they were at home.

Mrs. H stated that she has no problems with the boys and they were kind, patient, well-spoken, and got along with the others in the classroom. I paused a moment and asked if she knew which boys were mine. I told her some of the difficulties I'd encountered during the week and some of the frustrations I've had. She laughed and said, "Look at it this way, your home is like the classroom. That is where your children learn about how to behave in the world and test their limits. If they are testing you at home, but are behaving out in the world, you are doing your job. You just need to stay the course." I felt so encouraged!

Sometimes, when asking for advice from other people because I felt that I was at the end of my rope and I was feeling so discouraged, hopeless, and as if I was all alone on planet Motherhood, I'd receive the trite and usually worse-than-useless, "Oh, honey, just enjoy them because they grow so fast!" I know these people mean well. And looking at how quickly the younger years went, I can appreciate it somewhat. However, when you are in the Motherhood tunnel and you cannot see any glimpse of sunlight, I was in desperate need of some real encouragement.

Mrs. H is a wonderful, godly encourager. May all of you find or have someone in your life like Mrs. H.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Recipe of the Week: Pizza

50 Toes has asked so nicely for the recipe and I thought I'd share it as my first official Recipe of the Week! Thanks to Mandy for sharing her recipe from "that Italian woman in Italy."

Pizza Dough:
Add ingredients in order into a bread machine pan:
  • 1 cup water
  • 15 oz flour
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp yeast
We use the French Dough setting on our bread machine; it runs for 1 hour and 48 minutes. Experiment with what works for your machine or create by hand. This recipe makes enough for 2 - 9x13 pans. You can get 2 - 9x13 pans, plus 1 - 9x9 if you prefer thinner crusts.


Pizza Sauce:
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 16 oz tomato sauce
  • 1 T water
  • 1 T sugar
  • oregano, to taste (we use 3/4 T to 1 T)
  • garlic, to taste (we use about 2 or 3 cloves worth)

Mix all ingredients in a saucepan (use a whisk for smooth sauce with nary a lump of tomato paste). Simmer sauce for 3 - 5 minutes; DO NOT BOIL as it will make the sauce very acidic!

This recipe makes enough for 4 generously-sauced 9x13 pizzas.


Toppings:
We generally use pepperoni, pineapple, and black olives. We also like bacon and black olives. Yes, we really like black olives. If you're with us, yay! If not, let it go and be happy that we're eating your share of black olives in the world. We bake our pizzas at about 400* (My Dearest, is it 400* or 425*? 450*?) for about 25 minutes to 1/2 hour. Go forth and create your own pizza masterpiece!

We have also found that the glass 9x13 pan gives the crust a nice crispness, without making it too crispy. For more fabulous pizza recipes, look through this book. It's the one that started us on our journey towards finding our pizza.

Bon Appetit!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Healthy Tip of the Week

This is one of our family's favorite new things: Greek yogurt! It's like sour cream, but without all of the fat and calories.

Take plain, all natural yogurt, spoon your desired amount into a coffee-filter-lined colander or strainer and refrigerator for at least 8 hours. The whey drips out of the yogurt (watery liquid) and you are left with a thick, creamy, sour cream substitute. I had my Dearest try it. He said, "It's like sour cream, but so much better!"

We use it in place of sour cream for Mexican food and I will be trying it this weekend in a Spinach-Artichoke dip. Details to come!

Are You Ready for Some Football?

It's football season! Yes, it's been football season for 5 weeks, but I'm just getting around to actually blogging about it. For the last 3 years, we have been doing football picks, which started with my Dearest and some of his co-workers. He heard a few guys talking on Fridays sharing what they thought would happen with the up-coming weekend's games, but he rarely heard them talking about it on Mondays so he suggested keeping track.

It started with a simple spreadsheet, then it involved sheets of stats - which team has played when, what the scores were, which teams won where, what their streaks are, etc... It started with adding me to his co-worker pool, then the boys wanted to be involved and "do picks" as we call it. It's a fun way to be involved with my Dearest's enjoyment of the sport.

Now, we all pick at ESPN.com on their Pigskin Pick'em page. If you'd like to see where we stand, go to my Dearest's blog for more details.

I enjoy the sport, I understand the sport, but I'm not entirely obsessed with it. My Dearest can tell you all sorts of facts, stats, and who ran where and who did what... in various years, even!

Game On!! May the best picker win!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

I am a Foodie, Hear Me Roar!

I love to cook. I know, call me crazy. I know most people love to bake, but that is just not my thing. I enjoy baking on occasion when necessary, but I LOVE to cook. I enjoy all things about food.

When I was growing up, I remember my mom tried her best to have us eat healthfully. She was a nurse for umpteen years and was very interested in nutrition. As most Koreans are, my parents are very health conscious. Or maybe it's just my parents and it's not a cultural thing. Anyhow, we rarely had soda or pop, or whichever terminology you use for carbonated and sugary beverages; we had 7-up only if we were sick. My mom only bought whole wheat bread. We had wheat germ on top of our cereal. We rarely had sugary cereal. Wheat germ on top of Cheerios. Shudder. We ate lots of veggies and fruits. We rarely had dessert or baked goods; perhaps that's why I don't enjoy baking as much.

I say my mom tried her best for a couple of reasons. Firstly, when we had to have wheat germ on top of our cereal, my brother and I sneaked outside to dump it into our tomato patch. We had a bumper crop of fabulous tomatoes that year! Yes, my mom knows all about this. We had a bit of a "do-you-remember-when... " session at our last family get together. Secondly, after I moved out, I rebelled and ate what I wanted. Now, things have come full circle.

As it invariably happens, girls usually turn into their mothers. We generally raise our families the way we were raised. There are some things that we very consciously change, but for the most part, we go with what we know.

I have also started a new journey down the path of healthier eating in our family. We are eating whole-wheat products, brown rice instead of white, lots of veggies and fruits, more fish and less red meat, etc. You'll be seeing more food related posts soon.

One of our weekly indulgences is pizza. If you hang out at our house on the weekend, you're very likely to stumble into our pseudo-pizza kitchen. Now, we don't actually have a brick oven or any of that jazz, but we take our pizza making fairly seriously. We measure our flour for our dough and make home-made pizza sauce, the recipe for which I got from my friend Mandy whose family lived in Italy while her father was in the Navy. It's an authentic recipe, as far as I've been told. It's fabulous, in any case!

We have experimented with baking dishes, stones, temperatures, dough and topping ingredients, and length of baking time. It is one of our favorite meals all week, especially one that the boys enjoy.

Here's our pictorial pizza diary. Bon Appetit, or as one of my sons says, "Bun up a diet!"


Here are our ingredients all assembled and ready to be made into pizza.

Measuring flour for the dough - we use both whole wheat and regular white flour.

Adding ingredients to the bread machine pan.

Pizza sauce ingredients.

Readying the toppings.

Dough, ready to be stretched into a crust.

Nicely stretched and ready to be topped.

Oiling our preferred "pizza pans."

Pizza saucing ensues.

Some toppings go under the cheese...

and some go on top of the cheese.

Ready to bake, along with a bulb of garlic.

Removed from their pans and ready to cut and eat!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Starting to Think Pink

Did you know that being a woman is the number one risk factor for breast cancer?

Most women diagnosed with breast cancer have no other known risk factors.

Most women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history of the disease.

I learned these facts from Judy, a speaker from the Karmanos Cancer Institute, who informed us about breast cancer and it's symptoms at a ScrapPink fundraiser last weekend. She was an engaging, fun speaker.

The most important piece of information I came away with was that every woman should be doing monthly breast self exams (BSE) starting at age 20. We cannot rely on our annual visit to our doctor and think he or she will find something if anything is there. If we are doing our BSE monthly, we are more likely to find abnormalities quickly and find the best course of treatment for it, in order to have the greatest chance for survival. We are our best advocate for our health.


Thanks to 50 toes for the heads up on another Pink issue! 5 Minutes for Mom is giving away a pink Dyson! Enter for your chance to win here.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Lack of Sleep

Are you one of those people who can function on very little sleep? I could when I was a teen, of course. I thought I could when I was in my early and mid-20s. Then I became a parent. I realized I need sleep to function and to be a coherent person.

Of course there are those who prefer and dare I say, enjoy, the babbling and blathering people. My Dearest is one of those people who can function fairly well with very little sleep. He enjoys the babbling, blathering, and blithering ones, quite a bit, I think. He humors those people very nicely.

The first thing I noticed when I lost my sanity, forgive me, I mean my sleep was that I could function fairly well, but my mouth and body were pretty much disconnected. I suppose that means that I wasn't really functioning well; I only thought I was.

After we arrived home with our first child, we were so unexpected (that should read, unprepared) for parenthood. We had a basic grasp of the utmost necessities. Change the diaper when wet or dirty, hold and comfort, rock and sway, and perhaps most important of all, feed!

Add the lack of sleep and guess what you have? You would probably have something like this:

Late one night, a young and hungry infant cries and both parents rouse themselves from as deep of a slumber as you can get in about 2 hours. Because the husband is very supportive of his wife and wants to aid in any way possible, he asks if there is anything he can do or get to help his bone-tired nursing wife. Never mind the fact that he's probably just as weary as she is. As she heads to the living room couch, she mumbles over her shoulder, "...baby..." and proceeds down the short hallway. Before she gets to the couch, her husband asks what it was she wanted again. This time, she mumbles again, "...baby..." He looks again and can't find what it is that she could possibly want or need. He asks again and she clearly says, "I want the baby!" He laughs a bit and says something akin to, "The one you're nursing now?"

When the baby is crying and you're soothing him, it helps to actually pick up the baby and comfort him instead of patting the pillow next to you as your spouse takes care of the baby and looks at you funnily. It's also quite embarrassing to wake up mid-pat and realize what's going on.

You'd think that when infancy ends, you'd catch up on sleep and be, well, a bit less of a babbling, blithering, blathering sleep-deprived person, right? Sad to tell you my friends, it doesn't. It especially doesn't if you pretend you're not parents after the children go to sleep and you stay up to watch movies, tv, play Dutch Blitz, Speed Scrabble, or the like. If you engage in behavior like this, then the following scenario is probably very likely to happen.

You dream about a person whose legs from the knees down are covered with chocolate cake and frosting and casually walking through the room while clumps of cake and frosting drop with every step onto your creamy-almond-colored carpeting. You sit up and exclaim, "Oh my goodness! Do you see what's happening?" and your spouse calmly says, "It's only a dream." Perhaps, normally, this would work, but this time it only serves to make the sleeping one exclaim, "Come on, I'll show you!" and you both proceed out of bed and into the hallway where the sleeping one has since woken and realizes that the children's bedroom door is open. Now would be a good time to check on them; you're up anyway, right? You lovingly straighten limbs and covers and head back to bed. As you sit on the edge of your bed, you realize that the person with cake-and-frosting-legs was walking about where your closet is and that was why you got out of bed in the first place. Now, there's no trace of it; it was a dream, after all. You realize your spouse is watching you from the doorway and you sheepishly wave before laying back down.

Not that I know about any of this...

Monday, August 27, 2007

Operator Error

My Dearest took our boys to the bathroom in a restaurant to wash hands before dinner this evening. They discovered the automatic hand-dryer, which required them to put their hands under in order to turn the unit on. After experimenting and quickly mastering it, one boy noticed there was a paper towel dispenser next to it. This was the type where each sheet was folded into the next, kind of like inverted pop-up tissue or moist towelette dispensers. Our son tugged gently on the paper towel and asked my Dearest, "How do you operate this?" He's such a precious boy.

Reverse Teaching

As I reflected on the chaos of last week, God brought this thought to my mind this morning. "Your children are sinful creatures, as are you. However, they aren't Christians yet."

I was immediately humbled and ashamed of my behavior last week. Where are they going to learn about God, His love, mercy, wisdom, and grace if not at home? Yes, I need to teach them to pick up their rooms. It is necessary to teach them about strangers, shoe-tying, and table etiquette. But, it is more necessary that they learn about God. Within the framework of God's commands, everything else should fall into place.

I am learning that I need to deal with my children graciously, gracefully and mercifully while accepting who they are, not what I want them to become or who I think they are. God is working in me as He works in my children.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6, ESV

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Smelly Fingers and Three Things

It has been quite an emotionally charged week. It's been a week (a week, people!) of power struggles, messy children's rooms, and lots of tears (shed by my children and me).

Yesterday, everything fell from the spinning plates that were so delicately balanced in the air. I wanted to send my children to the moon and even still, I wanted to hold them close and love them even more. Motherhood (Parenthood, for those male readers) is a juxtaposition of emotions.

At the end of the day, after I had shed more tears than I can remember in a very long time, my Dearest came to me and said that it was time for prayer. After we prayed with the boys and got them into bed, about 10 minutes later, one of my boys (his identity shall remain protected, but you have a a 50/50 chance to suspect correctly, lol!) came to me and said, "Mom, we need to clean my ears! When I take my fingers out of my ears, they smell!"

After the difficulties of the week, I couldn't help but stifle my laughter and lovingly tell him we would clean his ears, although my Dearest and I were sorely tempted to tell him to not take his fingers out of his ears.


###


Three things in life that, once gone, never come back -
1. Time
2. Words
3. Opportunity

Three things in life that can destroy a person -
1. Anger
2. Pride
3. Unforgiveness (or resentment)

Three things in life that you should never lose -
1. Hope
2. Peace
3. Honesty

Three things in life that are most valuable -
1. Love
2. Family & Friends
3. Kindness

Three things in life that are never certain -
1. Fortune
2. Success
3. Dreams

Three things that make a person -
1. Commitment
2. Sincerity
3. Hard work

Three things that are truly constant -
Father - Son - Holy Spirit

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30, ESV

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Giveaway!

Ya'll know I love a good giveaway, as well as host my own -- run over to Preacher's Wife and enter her giveaway; her giveaway ends tonight at 10 CST!

She is giving away an Effective Parenting DVD kit from Walk Thru the Bible.


By the way, I'm not really southern, but the "ya'll" just jumps out of me sometimes. :-)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

And to think I only have two...

I've been MIA for quite a while and thank you to those who've emailed to check in on me and make sure we're okay. We're okay! We're trying to squeeze in the last of summer and I'm trying not to send my children to the moon! This is now my phrase of choice - "to the moon." It used to be "drop-kick" with a number of football fields.

After reading this, I'm not nearly as frustrated and I've had quite a good laugh.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Sunday Morning Fun

As we were driving to church this morning, my Dearest saw a sign on a hotel marquee:

Special $79
Internet
Breakfast

What does this sign tell you? To my Dearest, who has the ability to make me laugh over just about anything, it means that you call the hotel and request of them information regarding this breakfast. What size is it? How much space do you need to download it? Is it Windows compatible? Does it come with cookies or java? "I've had cookies through the internet, but not breakfast," he says. The fee seems high; is this an annual fee for Internet Breakfast? If I use dial-up, should I download it the night before?

May you be able to find fun in simple things as well. Have a silly day! We all need one now and again. May today be your day.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Follow the Links!

I have been on a quest for an ESV Bible for awhile now. I tried the local stores, but was not able to find any. Perhaps I didn't know where to look or they were out of stock or perhaps shopping with two young boys when you don't know what you're exactly looking for and don't know if they will have any does not work very well.

A couple of nights ago, I was reading My Life on the Gerbil Wheel over at Musing of a Housewife. Very good read, very fun blog - go check it out if you haven't and tell her you came from here.

At the bottom of the post, there was a link to Do the Next Thing, which was also just a phenomenal read, very inspiring during this slump of I-don't-want-to-do-what-I'm-supposed-to-do, otherwise known as laziness or our sinful nature running amok. That keeps popping up again, doesn't it?


“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." Matthew 26:41

There was a link on the side to the ESV blog and on that page, lo and behold, a "Buy an ESV" link. I took a look. Guess what I found?! I found Quality Seconds, Bibles that have are slightly used or damaged that are still in good shape. I bought two, perhaps my Dearest would like one, and they arrived today. Absolutely fabulous condition! Of course, I didn't realize they weren't study Bibles, but I think it'll be okay. I have an ESV Bible! Rejoice with me!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Discrimination

I was at the store a couple of weeks ago with my boys. This particular store has you bag your groceries and you "rent" a shopping cart (put in a quarter, unchain your cart from the cart stand, go shopping, return your cart and retrieve your quarter).

Anyhow, as we were bagging our groceries along the counter, a man dropped his grape tomato basket onto the floor, looked 10 feet down the counter and saw my boys minding their own business. He says to them, "Boys, pick up my tomatoes for me." I just about fell over! I couldn't believe he ordered MY kids around. He obviously didn't know that that is MY job!

I looked at him and said evenly, "If you ask the cashier, I'm sure she'd let you get a fresh basket." (Of course, this is from my own experience of dropping eggs and having them replaced. Oh, and tomato and strawberry containers. Have I mentioned I can be clumsy?) He said, that he didn't mind picking them up and washing them extra well at home. He then said (whiningly), "Can't your boys help me? I have a hard time bending down and getting up."

Sidenote: I think whining is just the most terrible sound. I don't tolerate whining from my boys and I think it's even worse from an older man! It just grates on my eardrums!

I told him that he wasn't allowed to order my boys around and went back to bagging my groceries. He had picked up all of them, except one that was under the counter near us. He approached us and said, "Tell your boys to pick that tomato up for me." Isaac just jumped over and was about to pick it up. I told him to wait a moment and said to the man that he could ask, instead of tell. (I know it sounds like I'm a horrible person, but it also sounds like I'm dealing with an ill-behaved 2 or 3 year old.) He looked at me like he couldn't believe what was happening and said, "Please?" I guess it was all he could muster. Did I mention he had some sort of accent? I looked at my boys and said, "Would one of you boys please help the man with his tomato?" Isaac said he would, gave it to him and they exchanged thank-yous and you're welcomes.

On his way out of the store, he stopped his cart and said to me, "If you were an American, you would have helped me because Americans are helpful." My mouth fell open and it was my turn to look at him like I couldn't believe what was happening.

I didn't want to get into a "How American Are You Debate" so I dealt with the other issue: his rudeness. I told him that I would have been happy to help him, had he asked and been more polite. I also told him that no one orders my children to do other peoples bidding. He dismissed my comments and left the store.

Another man stopped and asked me what that disagreeable man said. I told him what had transpired and he shook his head and said, "That man was causing all sorts of trouble in line!"

As if this was not enough, there was a vagabond-ish person by the cart stand and as we (the three parties with carts previous mentioned) passed, I heard very loudly, "Go get a job!" Guess who said that? Yup, the tomato man. I thought he was speaking to me so I turned around and said loudly, "Excuse me?!" He pointed at the vagabond-ish person and said, "I was talking to him."

The second person told me as I was bringing my cart back to the cart stand, "Ma'am, I told that man exactly what I thought of him."

###

When we were visiting my sister's in-laws, a neighbor-family stopped by one evening and apparently, their younger children have very seldom seen Asians in their lives. When they saw my oldest (the more Asian looking one of my two children), she immediately asked if he was Chinese. My sister and I patiently explained that he is Korean, but also English, German, Lebanese, and various other nationalities. She didn't understand and continued to exclaim that he looked Chinese.

My brother-in-law came up with the best remark (albeit afterwards), "You just don't know what Koreans look like." Not with a mean intent, but factually, she just didn't know. That's one I'll have to remember. (Yes, there is a difference between Asian nationalities.)

###

After pondering all of the above for weeks after they happened, I began to realize something more important. Well, in stages of importance, I suppose.

Firstly, I should have reacted with more of Christ's love toward Tomato Man instead of the hackles rising on my neck and shoulders. Boy, my sinful nature gets in the way!

Secondly, I should not react so emotionally to those who are ill-informed or give in to that knee-jerk reaction, also know as my sinful nature. (That pops up, again, doesn't it?)

Thankfully, and only by the grace of God, He has called me to Himself. That matters more. His people are from EVERY nation, EVERY tribe, EVERY kindred, and EVERY tongue. In the presence of His people, I won't be discriminated against based on what I look like or what my nationality is.


“Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.” - John 1:12-13


"... and with Your blood You purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation." Revelations 5:9

Sunday, July 29, 2007

New Giveaway!

5 Minutes for Mom is giving away a TV. For. Free. Yup, you heard me right! A FREE TV. Not just any ol' TV, but an Insignia® 37" Flat-Panel LCD HDTV, courtesy of Best Buy. Just had to share the news!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Dog Days of Summer Bloggy Giveaway Winner!

First of all, THANK YOU to everyone who commented and left me such ego-boosting comments as to how crafty and creative I am. **Big, deep bow! To my new readers (or just contest entrants) I hope you'll come back and see what's new. To my faithful readers, thanks for being patient this week and just watching my comment numbers go up. :-)

Thank you to Shannon for organizing such a fun week-long giveaway, and the other participants for playing along, to the tune of over 500!!

###


Now, onto the method of picking a winner.... Do you know how hard it is to pick a winner?!

At first, I read through all of the comments and thought I'd pick the wittiest comment. Not so much, as there were WAY too many!

So then, I decided that maybe the winner should have a fun name. Again, WAY too many!

I came up with the least scientific and creative method of all: I called my Dearest and had him pick a number. It may be boring, but at least it wasn't a biased decision - it was completely random!

Congratulations to Aimee! You are the winner of ten hand-made notecards! I've sent you an email so as soon as I have an address to which to send your cards, they'll be mailed! Again, congratulations!!

It's Friday!!

Polls are now closed and I will post a winner by Noon, today! I hope you had as much fun as I did.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Dog Days of Summer Bloggy GiveAway


I'm playing along with Rocks in my Dryer
and her Dog Days of Summer Bloggy Giveaway!

Leave me a comment (with your name!) for an opportunity to win ten 3" x 3" note cards (two of each design)! Did I mention that these are hand-made by yours truly?

This giveaway is open to bloggers, non-bloggers, those in the USA, and Canada. I will be drawing the winner on Friday, July 27.

Fine print: These cards are made using Close To My Heart products (stamps, inks, and papers) and are copyright by Close To My Heart.

My First Give-Away Winner!

Thank you to all of you who entered guesses! We spent $25.66 on our produce.

Congratulations to my first Give-Away Winner: Jen! Her guess of $24.30 was $1.36 from the actual cost.

Below are the cards Jen will receive. Sorry I didn't get these posted on Friday or Saturday like I had previously posted.

Jen, email me at jjpiggins at yahoo dot com and we'll make arrangements for you to receive your cards.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

My First Give-Away!!

Our local farmer’s market is finally open! We wait all year for our favorite place to open. They are open from mid-July until just after Labor Day or mid-September.

We took a quick trip to see what has arrived so far. We saw honeyrock melons, green and red peppers, sweet corn, blueberries, peaches, apples, pears, pineapples, nectarines, bananas, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, garlic, zucchini, summer squash, cabbage, cilantro, and more!

We did more than just look. :-)

We bought:
4 (1 lb) green peppers
4 (1.14 lbs) zucchini
1 Honeyrock melon
5 limes
3 lemons
7 (3 lbs) D’anjou pears
6 (2.5 lbs ) Golden Delicious apples
3 (3 lbs) Spanish onions
1 lb sweet cherries
3 lbs bananas
4 lbs cucumbers
1.5 lbs baby potatoes
2.5 lbs. of red grapes
2 garlic bulbs
1 loaf European wheat bread
1 loaf Hungarian rye bread

For you visual people (I don’t mean that in a mean way, I’m one of you too), here is a picture of my first fruit, vegetable, and grain photo shoot.



Here’s the giveaway part. Guess how much we spent on all of this fresh produce goodness!

Leave me a comment with your best guess by midnight Sunday night (Eastern Daylight Time). Bloggers and non-bloggers are welcome, as are Canadians.

The winner will receive a package of 10 hand-made cards, made by yours truly. I will post a picture on Friday or Saturday. The winner will be drawn on Monday morning.

Tomorrow's the Day!

My first give-away starts tomorrow! Are you excited?? Have you told your friends?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Stay Tuned: Give-Aways Coming!!

I have a couple of give-aways planned! The first one will be posted on Friday, July 20th with the winner drawn on Monday, July 23rd.

The next give-away is in conjunction with Shannon's Dog Days of Summer Bloggy Giveaway. See the fun bright green button on my sidebar!

Run and tell your friends - the more the merrier! Bloggers and non-bloggers are welcome.

Our Most Recent Trip Photos

Zafu!

I found this nifty site that will recommend jeans and bras that will fit you, really! After a short survey it spits out a list of companies and styles that should fit you well. You can find it at Zafu. Here's to better fitting clothes!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Mosquito Relief

It is finally raining here, which means the mosquitoes are going to be out in full force very soon. Our family needs to use some sort of repellent. I, especially, get bitten quite easily. I think I have a mosquito-only-readable sign over my head which reads, "Open Buffet! Please come feast! Open 24/7!"

My Dearest found something that made my camping experience much more tolerable last year - Bite Blocker Extreme. After using it, I only got 3 bites...after 4 days camping and at least one night with heavy rain. I'm starting to look forward to our upcoming camping trip.

Tree Lines

Have you ever noticed that mountains have a tree line? Only so far up the mountain are there trees. The peaks of the mountain are beautiful and from them, you can see for miles. They are also cold and nothing grows there. Similar to our spiritual lives, when we are on the peaks of the mountains we can see our past decisions, what we have learned, and all of the growing we have done. We also don't grow when we're on the peaks. Only when we are in the valleys do we do our growing. It's painful and sometimes we don't understand why we are learning the particular lesson. We certainly don't see the beauty of the peaks. We get stretched and go through our growing pains in the valley. We continue our climb up the mountains with God's guidance and only from up there do we see, reflect, and realize how we have grown; and sometimes we see why. ~Wisdom from my dear friend Carol: prayer-warrior, mother, grandmother, and raccoon-tamer.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Strangers in the Lord

It has been a growing period for our family these last two weeks.

We needed a new fridge and had it delivered on the 4th. I felt badly that the delivery people had to work on Independence Day. When we bought the refrigerator on the 3rd, we thought it wouldn't be delivered until the 5th. Thankfully we bought our fridge from the Sears scratch 'n dent store so we ended up saving about $300.

On the 5th, we were on our way to stay with my sister's in-laws and meet my sister and her husband there. We decided that the almost 5 hour drive would be better broken up and we could all indulge in a little bit of pool-therapy since my sis's in-laws didn't have a swimmable-pond/lake/body of water on their massive property. On the way down, one-half mile from our hotel, on the off-ramp to our hotel, our car stalled, wouldn't restart, and then the radiator's slow leak just let loose. Here we were, sitting on the off-ramp with a sedan-load of various camping gear, snacks, and pillows, not to mention our two boys. My Dearest pushed the car to the nearest gas station while I steered. As we approached a restaurant, a "stranger-in the Lord" named Chad jumped out to help my Dearest push our car to a gas station. (Strangers-in -the-Lord are those who are also Christians, we just don't know them yet. We're just a bit cheeky.) Wouldn't you know, we could see our hotel from the parking lot of the gas station? My Dearest checked into the hotel and we walked our belongings over to the hotel. We didn't know if we were going to really spend the night in the hotel or complete the ride down to my sister's in-laws. My sis's father-in-law drove an hour north to where we were, dropped off his car for us and rode with the towing company to deliver our car to a dealership near his home.

We drove the rest of the way down on the 6th. My sis's in-laws have extensive property with chickens, donkeys, goats, a pond/lake, trails to walk or ride on their go-cart. We sat by their pond/lake cabin and never in my life have I been so happy to do nothing. I kept telling my sis and her m-i-l that I had never been so happy to do nothing. They just laughed at me, but let me ask you: Can you sit and do nothing easily? I know I can't. Being a mom pre-disposes me to always planning, doing, cooking, or calculating something. Anyhow, we didn't know if we were going to have to rent a car, buy a car, or replace our engine to make it back home. Knowing that God is sovereign and has planned everything made it easier to enjoy our time instead of nervously wringing our hands trying to figure out what we should do.

It turns out our car had an after-market remote starter installed (of which we had no knowledge) and the wiring prevented our check-engine light to come on. We ended up with a reconditioned radiator and a bunch of wiring taken out of our car. Plus, it was ready that night. It cost us less than we were expecting, but much more than we had budgeted for, ya know what I mean? ;-)

My Dearest changed the oil before we left on Sunday morning and found metal shavings in the oil. We drove home without any unexpected incidents.

Now that we are home, all of the mechanic-y people from My Dearest's work are recommending that we sell it, scrap it, just get rid of it as quickly as we can since the next incident with the radiator could result in total engine failure.

Car decisions, here we come! We'll keep you posted.

Friday, July 13, 2007

I scream, you scream...

What kind of ice cream flavor are you?? This also happens to be my favorite flavor!

Stay cool out there, ya hear?

You Are A Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Girl

Creative. Expressive. Unique.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Independence Day!!

As we enjoy our day off (which is often filled with food and family), let's not forget the other reason we have the day off today. We celebrate our life and the liberty that we have here in the USA!

For my Canadian readers, Happy Belated Canada Day!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

You the Man

My Dearest and I were talking the other night about some random things like what the boys were doing or what they said when. We were also delving into some deeper topics like what your view on Creation says about your theology (our current Sunday School topic).

During this conversation, he casually mentions that he read an article online about "Ten Things to Say to Your Man." It turns out the article is entitled, "10 Compliments That Wow a Man," but this is beside the point. The point here is that he brings this up so casually I can't help but wonder if he is digging for some compliments. Am I being delinquent or negligent about building him up?? Okay, that's not the point, either. Is there a point? Perhaps this is just rambling. Okay, read on.

He mentions that one of these "Wowing" items is, "Your arms are definitely looking bigger." My jaw dropped and I started to guffaw. Seriously? This is on the list? Then, he reminds me how he woke me up (or maybe I was up, just not quite functional yet) and he asked me if I could tell he had been working out.

Another one was, "Meow." According to my Dearest, this is the one that should be replaced with, "Honey, dinner's on the table" or the even more seductive "We ran out of white flour so I had to use all whole wheat instead."


I feel I must explain just a bit. When my Dearest was in high school, he was training to be a bodybuilder and was very particular about the food that he ate. When he was pursuing a Personal Trainer certification, he became obsessed, or passionate, he would tell you, about the food he ate. To qualify for entry into his mouth and digestive system, his food needed to meet certain criteria: whole grain (not enriched, just plain whole grains), fresh fruits, fresh veggies either raw or lightly steamed, lots of fish, chicken or turkey and the list continues, but I think you get the gist of it.

Along the same lines, we were on a date last month and walking through a bookstore. I was looking for the parenting section and wouldn't you just know it, it's the hardest section to find. Granted, this was a secular bookstore so I wouldn't necessarily expect the parenting section to jump out at me and have bookshelf after bookshelf dedicated to this topic. Or, maybe it's the adage that you can never find what you're looking for. Anyhow, we wandered through the store and came across a huge section, the cookbook section. My Dearest faces me toward the vast section and says, "Now, honey, I don't know where the section for raising girls is, but here's the section for raising boys."

The way to my Dearest's heart (and perhaps my boys' hearts in several years) is definitely through the stomach.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Country manners? I think they're charming.

We spent Saturday in the country. We took a hay ride around our friend's property, saw their 3 varieties of sheep and rams, played Dutch Blitz, ate fabulous picnic food, gabbed, watched a sheep herding demonstration, and learned to English dance.

The dancing was by far my favorite event! Now, I have always said that Asians (meaning mostly that I) don't have rhythm. I guess I was partly wrong. We learned two different dances, neither name can I remember or did I ever know? One was something "maggot" - somewhat similar to Mr. Beveridge's Maggot from Pride and Prejudice. My Dearest and I picked up the steps rather quickly, but I think I owe that to standing next to our friend Hannah and her friend, both of whom already knew how to dance. It was "capital, capital!" "There is nothing we love more than a country dance."

Our friend, Hannah, told us there is a place not too far from us that has English dancing on Tuesday nights, from 7 to 9 or 9:30. Perhaps a sitter is in order for those evenings whilst my Dearest and I go dancin'!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Birthday Update

Today was my birthday. Happy birthday, to me! Melinda might be wondering if I heckled any singers. More of that in a moment.

My dear friend Melinda sent me a birthday card, which I received a day or two ago. On the front were various things that the birthday gal might do when being serenaded with the birthday song. Once was avoid eye-contact and politely smile. Another was sing along with them and replace your name with "Me". My favorite one was heckle the singers! On the inside, she wrote that personally she would go with heckling the singers and wished me a happy birthday.

Getting to and from my birthday dinner is half the fun! We enjoyed seeing the city riding the People Mover around town. It was fun to see the boys see the looming buildings, seeing Canada across the river, and looking at all of the artwork in each station. Not to mention all of the new construction we saw. Can't wait to see how the city changes.

After we got to the restaurant, the Saganaki flames at various tables were more than disturbing to the boys. Then, we ordered a Saganaki, too. After our server flamed our cheese, he set it down on our table, still flaming! The boys were just about beside themselves at this point. The flames died down and my Dearest and I dug in. Ethan was hesitant to try it; Isaac flat out refused. They did end up trying it and lo and behold! They both enjoyed it and had fun looking for more Saganaki flames throughout the restaurant.

We all had too much to eat and enjoyed every bit of it! Dearest and I shared an Athenian Chicken breast stuffed with spinach and wrapped in phyllo dough and a fabulous dish of lamb shanks. As Rachael Ray would say, Yum-o! or Delish! The boys opted for less adventurous-fare and had hamburgers and fries.



As it turned out, we were too full for dessert so we passed on dessert at the restaurant. Dinner ended much later than we expected so we drove home and put boys to bed. My Dearest picked up some cheesecake (my fave!) and mint chocolate chip ice cream (Homemade brand, my fave ice cream ever!). As I was opening birthday gifts, he turns off the lights and there was a lit candle on my cheesecake. He sang to me and I must say, I contemplated heckling him. But, I just couldn't do it.

Book Sale Update

It worked! I ordered all of my wish list books and added one - Biblical Foundations for Manhood and Womanhood. Now, I just have to wait until the books get here!!

Do you remember the commercials for Mervyns? At least I think it was Mervyns. A woman anxiously awaits the store to open and is standing at the front door at 4 am opening and closing her hands saying, "Open, open, open". That's how I feel about waiting for UPS to deliver packages for me.

Lord, please grant me patience. NOW! ;-)

Book Sale!!

50 Toes was kind enough to post about a sale and can I tell you just how excited I am about it?? All of John Piper's books are on sale for $5, but only through the 28th. Today. HURRY over there.

I think these are the books I would like:

Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist
Don't Waste Your Life
Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood:
A Response to Evangelical Feminism
Most of All, Jesus Loves You! (Children's board book)
Building Strong Families
When I Don't Desire God
Battling Unbelief

I skimmed Desiring God, but I think I should read it.

Editor's Note: You know, when I was learning about titles and how they should be underlined in what, second or third grade, I cared. A lot. Now with blogger, I just can't figure out how to underline titles, except if I copy and paste it from somewhere else. The italicized portions elude me as well. Even as I select the text and click on the handy little italicized "i" it won't change. Please forgive me for my titles being so whimsical. I really don't mean for them to be so.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

June Updates...

Here are updates on my To Do List for June.

Homeschooling: We finished school in mid-June! YAY!!! I (and my Dearest and two boys) have all survived our first year of homeschooling! There were times I wondered how this would work, but God is so gracious. Ethan has learned to write cursive, tell time, do fractions, read better, count money and so much more! Isaac didn't have formal school, but we had art, math (counting), and phonics (at the fridge). Now, he's reading!! So excited about all of our successes. At the beginning of the month, I looked at Ethan's tests and figured out that he wasn't really learning anything that he didn't already know, I gave him tests every day instead of school lessons. If he already knows it, why not skip the tediousness of doing worksheets?? LOVE the flexibility of homeschooling!

Graduation parties: Congratulations to all of our friends who have graduated!

Ethan's birthday: Our boy is now seven years old. I can hardly believe that this is the same boy who had hiccups like crazy. In utero. This is the same boy who cried with every minute change of altitude when we held him. We couldn't sit. We had to stand. The same boy who said, "mama" (Mama) and "mama" (apple). We had a small birthday for him on his birthday and then a family party with grandparents and other relatives the Saturday afterwards. His requested menu was chili hot dogs, pasta salad, and carrot cake to eat. This is the first year he hasn't requested strawberries and blueberries. He had fun being with the relatives and opening his gifts.

My birthday is tomorrow (the 28th). This is the first year I will be home for my birthday. The past two years I was in Las Vegas and Salt Lake City for my stamping and scrapbooking company's convention. Convention has been moved to the end of July to better coordinate with the launch of our new catalogs so I will now be home for my birthdays. It's fun to be with my girlfriends for Convention and my birthday, but I'm looking forward to spending it with my boys. We're going out for dinner to one of my favorite Greek restaurants. I can't wait to see Ethan's and Isaac's faces when we have the Saganaki brought to our table and hear "Opa!". It'll be fun.

We usually go to our friends' farm on Independence Day, but this year their Independence Day celebration is on the 30th. They have quite a bit of land, many sheep, two or three border collies, and mulberry trees. We play bocce (on the lawn, not on a court), croquet, volleyball, and horseshoes. The owner does a sheep-herding demonstration using their border collie dogs (think Babe). Last year I took Dance Praise which was super fun and made me feel younger than I actually am.

That is June in a blog post. :-)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Unexpected Emotions

My boys are so different. My oldest is quiet, pensive, and a bit reserved. He doesn’t share his thoughts or emotions readily. My youngest seems to be quite the opposite. Don’t get me wrong, they are still young boys and can wreak havoc with the best of them. However, with the boys’ “base personality,” being what they are, I encountered something today I wasn’t expecting at all.

We went to order some of our curriculum today. We picked up my Dearest from work and went to the curriculum display. After we were done, we dropped off my Dearest back at work and that’s when it happened.

I realized my oldest son was crying as my Dearest got out of the car to go back into the office. He didn’t realize that his dad was going to have to go back to work. The image of big, fat, tears rolling down my son’s cheeks, hearing his sniffling and bravely trying to hold back his whimpers as we left my Dearest at work was enough to make me cry on the way home, too. Call me a sympathetic-crier.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Daydreams and Forests

I daydream about life in the big city (pick one: Chicago, LA, NYC), having chic lunches, going to hotspots in the evenings, closing impressive deals (what kind, who knows), coming home to a place that is immaculate, and being child-free.

I daydream about going back to work. I daydream about going back to school. I daydream about my alter-ego-self in a job doing something meaningful, something with results that are tangible and quantifiable.

The reality is I am in the forest of motherhood. Sometimes, I am entrenched so deeply I cannot see the forest at all. All I see are trees. Everywhere I look. There’s no sky, no sunlight. I feel as though I will be the mother of two boys, ages almost 7 and 5 ½. FOREVER.

Seven years ago, I was pregnant with Ethan. My Dearest and I were living in an apartment. I was soaking my tootsies in the corner of the pool and declared to my Dearest that I could “launch myself over to the adjacent corner using the handrail.” He laughed and said, “Honey, I’m not sure I like any sentence with you and ‘launch’ in it.” In my mind, I still weighed x number of pounds and my belly had grown “a bit.” Did I mention I was fully-clothed, almost due to give birth, and was sitting on the edge of the deep-end? I sure did ‘launch’ myself over to the other side of the handrail, skimmed my bottom along the surface of the pool and was feeling triumphant. Thankfully, no one was near the pool.

That was seven years ago. I have moved through the forest; even though it seems that each and every tree looks identical. God is gracious and merciful. He sees us through every circumstance in our life; He has planned every detail. I know He’s guiding my way through this forest. Without Him, I’d be completely lost.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Personal Policies Meme

I was tagged by 50 Toes for this meme. Here are some of my Personal Policies, "rules" for our family. Actually, these may be more like my quirks and idiosyncrasies. :-) Here we go!

  1. We always buckle up before we drive. My father worked for a car company and did test research on seat belt usage. When I was growing up, we were one of the few families I knew of that buckled up before seat belt usage was regulated in Michigan.
  2. The toilet paper must be in the holder a certain way. Paper over the top!
  3. After watching a movie on DVD, the Special Features are next. I want to see the interviews, how they made the movie, bloopers, and deleted scenes.
  4. We pray before meals and sometimes, snacks, too. The boys take turns praying at breakfast and lunch (and sometimes they both want to pray for the same meal!), my Dearest usually prays for dinner.
  5. We pray together as a family before bedtime, every night, with or without guests at our home. If we have guests, it's in the boys' room, if not the location varies. After praying, we give hugs and kisses. Every. Night. (Okay, there are exceptions - my date night with my Dearest (then, they do the routine with GramGram or whichever Christian gal we have watching them) or if we get home late and the boys have fallen asleep in the car (late, late nights usually) or if I have a party.)
  6. I cannot fall asleep for the night knowing someone is awake. What is going to happen as my children get older??!
  7. All of the clothes on hangers must face the same way - shirts all "face me" when the hanger hook is on the left. (Leftover from my dry-cleaning job when I was 16.) The only exception is my Dearest's clothes. I leave his hanging-method alone.
  8. All shoes come off when you enter our home. Let's face it - I'm Korean enough that we do this. More on this in another post, perhaps another day.
  9. I shower first thing in the morning. If I don't shower first thing in the morning, I feel like nothing gets done.
  10. In my pantry, my goods are arranged by type - all of my tomato products (diced, sauce, paste, etc) are together. All of the beans are together, soups are together, spices, etc. (Leftover from stocking shelves when I was 15.) It does make grocery lists easier to compile when you can see what you actually need.
  11. My scrapbooking cardstock is arranged alphabetically. Nothing else in my home is alphabetically arranged.
  12. I only use my scrapbooking company's products when I scrapbook or make cards. This way I can show everything I make and not worry about promoting other companies products. If I show it, they will most likely buy it.

So there you have it! Of course, this list isn't all inclusive, it's just the tip of the iceberg of what I wanted to share or could come up with spur of the moment. This meme is open to anyone who reads this blog - leave me a comment so I know you're playing along, too. If you don't blog, please leave me a comment with your Policies.