Sunday, September 26, 2010

Spice It Up

Mr. Chins has come to live out his final days in our home. 

While he seems to be doing well, we believe that he still has cancer.  So, we brought him with us, and he is spending his precious time left with us, lounging on my couch, shedding fur all over the spots touched by the sun.  He also enjoys sleeping in Daisy Dog's pillow, when available.  It isn't often available.

Tiny Love has acquired the job of feeding Chins his daily meals. 
Last night, she obviously felt that his dinner needed something extra.
She emptied in the usual fare:

"Hmmm, Rotisserie Chicken and Gravy?  Sound good, but I think it needs a little something..."
She scurried out back to this:

My lovely little thyme plant.
Dinner is served.

Chicken is better with thyme.  I agree.
Chins was not impressed.
I was totally impressed--matching the herb with an appropriate food (well, cat food) and knowing how to strip the leaves off and make it pretty. 
OK, I was also a little grossed out.
If it is true that we eat with our eyes first, Chins must have shut his.
He waited for a less fancy dinner.
"Chicken and gravy, straight up.  No garnish, please."

Friday, September 24, 2010

Roast Chicken Dinner

I made a stellar dinner for the family this week!  Brother was happy, especially since there was a leftover chicken carcass to pick at.  He likes meat for a snack.

Roasted Chicken and Potatoes

1 whole chicken, rinsed and patted dry
6 Yukon Gold Potatoes, quartered

For the Chicken:
2 tsp. paprika
1 1/2 tsp. Garlic Salt
1 tsp. onion powder

For the potatoes:
2 tbs. olive oil
garlic salt, to taste
1 tsp. thyme

Mix all the chicken spices.  Sprinkle over the chicken and rub it in the skin.  Sprinkle some of it in the cavity of the chicken. 
Place in a Ziploc bag and refrigerate for 6-8 hours or overnight. 

Coat the potatoes in olive oil and seasoning.  Pour onto a baking sheet.
Place the marinated chicken on a broiler pan.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Roast the chicken and potatoes in the oven for 30 minutes.  Then turn the heat down to 350 degrees, flip the potatoes around a little, and bake another 45 minutes. 
Let stand for 10 minutes when done baking before cutting.

It was totally pretty and juicy.  But I don't eat meat.  So I made this little vegetarian stove top dinner to have with the salad and bread I served along with the meal:

Garlicky white beans with spinach, tomatoes, and Parmesan.
Everyone left the table full and happy.
Brother left with the carcass. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Brother (aka, Mr. Responsible) got himself an new truck. 
*insert hillbilly accent, because I know you will*

Yes, he's a grown-up now. 
Complete with truck payment and laundry duties.
With Mom and Dad in Canada, brother was on his own to test drive, haggle the salesperson, and sign the agreement to pay, on time, for this beauty.
In the interest of proving to Dad that he got a good deal, Brother would like me to include the following picture:

Some people want to please Daddy with monetary success or fancy degrees.
Our Dad is far more impressed by getting a good deal on a truck with a low odometer reading.
We all define success a different way.

He is proud.
I am proud of him.
Dad will be very proud.
His son is growing up, taking responsibility for his future.
But, inside, he is still the little boy who wanted to wear his boots to school every day, even when they were way too small.


Congratulations, Brother!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Safe Little Sheep

I am struggling. 
Some of my most treasured relationships have been under siege, attacked by the enemies of my soul:


I have felt without an anchor, to hold me in the place I should be.
But, I am held.
And you know what?
I shall not want.

I shall not want for kindness.
For mercy.
For friendship.
For love.
For correction.
For power.
For family.
For protection.
For direction.

Psalm 23

A psalm of David.
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death, [a]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD

You, there.  Fear, condemnation, torment, sadness.  You better watch it.  I brought my Shepherd, and if there is a dark alley around here, you don't want to meet Him in it. 
'Cause I shall not want.
For any good thing.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Setting In

We are settled into our house again, and regular life has commenced.  I still wake up every morning grateful for the home I have been given, feeling more at peace, knowing that my God will not test me beyond what I am He has shown Himself to me time and time again.  But, there is a sadness that is new.  A pain that was dull, covered over by the joy of home.  Now as the newness wears off, the pain is more pronounced. 

I miss Brother.

He is part of the fabric of our family in a different way than he was before. 
You know how you define the eras of your marriage by events?
The years before kids.
When we had Curlyjo.
When we lived on Charles street.
When we had Tiny Love.
During Tiny Love's surgery.
When we moved to our house.
When we lived with Brother.
He is part of our story. 
And right now, I miss his quirky ways, seeing him every day, sharing life with him, watching him grow and mature into a man. 
He comes to see us here, at our home, to have dinner. 
But it is different. 
The landscape has changed.

Brother, I love you so much.  I think you are a fine young man, that you will be a wonderful husband and father someday.  I see through your struggles, your faults, your terrifyingly messy bedroom, and I see a man I can respect.  I see a man who loves his parents and sisters. 
I am blessed to have you as part of my story.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Back from the Abbey

My absence from the blog was viral. 

Curlyjo has been plagued with fever and tummy ache for two days. 

I have been plagued with the sound of the television for two days.

That would be The Sound of Music--again.
"How do you solve a problem like Maria?"
I love that movie, but seriously.  I am over it for now.
What does Curlyjo need when sick and watching enough TV to cause muscle atrophy?

Popcorn, extra salty.  You know, for the electrolytes.
I tried to sneak in some healthy food.

Some people like to exploit sister's illness, watching TV while flipping all over the place and taking over any uneaten snacks.

Thankfully, Curlyjo is on the mend, and Tiny Love has not contracted anything from sister.
And the TV is off.
Ahhhh, I can hear myself think. 
"The hills are alive, with the sound..."
It lingers.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook

To participate in The Simple Woman's Daybook, click here.

FOR TODAY, September 15, 2010

Outside my window...the sun is rising, the fog is lifting, the new day has begun.  Funny, that is exactly what is happening in my heart.

I am thinking...about someone who is very important to me, but also very upset with me.  I am praying that God will heal that relationship, because I don't want to be without it.

I am thankful for...God's grace, deliverance, and assurance in times of trouble.

From the learning rooms...Tiny Love thinks she can't read yet, but can.  I remember this phase with Curlyjo, and the amazing moment when she realized that she could indeed read.

From the kitchen...tonight we are having dinner at the church before Awana.  On the menu:  hamburger horseshoes with fries.  I don't think that is going to work.

I am wearing...workout clothes, as I have already walked the dog and will be going to the gym, come hades or high water.

I am creating...a budget for the Financial Peace University class I am taking.  Ack, I hate this process.

I am get things done today.  Yesterday felt like a total bust.

I am reading...Where the Red Fern Grows to the kids.  I love it!

I am the Lord.

I am hearing...the bell on Chins' collar as he wanders around the house, waiting for the girls to get up.

Around the house...there is animal hair.  I need to vacuum again. 

One of my favorite things...walking Daisy Dog, even though she has to smell every blade of grass and wait until we get REALLY close to home to do her "business."  My neighbors are going to hate me.

A few plans for the rest of the week:  Visiting with a friend and her new baby this afternoon.  I can't wait to hold that sweet baby!  Then Awana starts tonight (so excited!), and we may take a field trip to the apple orchard later this week. 

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...the sweet little reasons I vacuum daily.

Cuddle time for Chins Monroe and Daisy Dog.
My fur babies.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Weekly Menu and a Treat!

Happy Menu Plan Monday Tuesday!  So, I am behind schedule, which seems to be my new schedule. 

This week's menu:

Meal 1:  Tacos (which I made with Morningstar Farms Veggie Crumbles, and no one knew ;)
Meal 2:  Crockpot Turkey Breast, Roasted Vegetables, Brown Rice
Meal 3:  Homemade Pizza
Meal 4:  Lasagna, Bread, Salad
Meal 5:  Eggs, Turkey Bacon, and toast

One night we will eat at church and one night will be leftovers.  Brother will be here for the turkey night and the lasagna, I am sure.  I bet he will be glad he dodged that "veggie crumble" bullet. 

In other news, I had a killer sweet tooth attack today.  I wanted to keep it pretty healthy, so I decided to try No Bake Apple "Cupcakes," an idea I found here.

Sweet tooth remedy:

Pumpkin Butter from our local orchard...bliss.

One apple, halved, topped with Pumpkin Butter and chopped walnuts.
The cupcake thing would have been better executed by a larger apple bottom. 
My apple was a runt.
But, this was just what I was craving!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Out Like a Lamb

Our quaint little town has little carnival every year, the Lions Carnival (hosted by the local Lions Club).  It is a carnival only in the sense that there are games, such as "Dunk-your-pastor-in-the-Dunk-Tank" (fun for kids and adults alike); rides, such as "Mini-Ferris-Wheel-located-just-under-the-power-lines;" and local food, such as a Napoleon-Dynamite-esque selection of  Prairie Farms Ice Cream.  It is cheap, the kids love it, and I get to see pretty much every person in our town. 

We began our Lions Carnival fun with the "parade."  Why the quotes?  The parade is only a parade in the sense that a few otherwise strange looking objects follow each other down the street hurling cheap candy at onlookers while cops follow, watching.  Here, see for yourself.

Parade = Tractors

This is the "Bucking Bronco," a trailer with saddles and a messed up axle that simulates a three-legged pony ride.  As a rule, I never ride anything with a saddle, but peer pressure is a pain--even when you are over thirty.  So, last night I "rode" it.  I stood in the middle, holding on tightly to a terrified five-year-old boy, and still managed to get off of the three minute ride with lower back pain. 
Can you say "old?"

Where is the cop when you need to discuss child restraints?

Hey, aren't they supposed to be at a game?  Watch it boys--the only thing we take more seriously than tractors is football.

"Dude, I know. "
He looks how I felt:  resigned.

Here is how The Husband spent the four minutes of the parade:


Baby Elyse wanted to come along, but like a good mother, Tiny Love arranged for child care before hurling herself into the street for smashed Tootsie Rolls.

Reactions once the fun was over?  (Wow, that was fast.)

"What was that?  Where is the CHOCOLATE?" 
I tried to explain the word "recession." 
Never miss a teachable moment.

Ever the optimist, Curlyjo just looks at the bright side:  Dots

We ended the evening (you know, five minutes after it started) by watching The Husband pose on government property outside "The Million Dollar Courthouse." 
I have been looking for teachable moments with him, too.

Sarcasm aside (no, really?), we had a great time. 
But, like Randy Jackson, "That was just weird for me."

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sweet Potato Oven Fries

Tiny Love said something to me yesterday that all mothers long to hear:

"Mom, your cooking is better than McDonald's." 

Be still, my heart.

What did I make that was cause for such a compliment? 

Better-Than-McDonald's Sweet Potato Oven Fries

1 large sweet potato, sliced (you can do a half moon shape like this or more of a French fry shape)
1 tbs. olive oil
garlic salt (to taste or maybe 1/2 a tsp.)
paprika (to taste or maybe 1 tsp.)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Toss all ingredients in large bowl.  Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.  Bake for about 20 minutes, turning once halfway through the cooking time. 

Ronald has nothing on me.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My Two Fathers

I hesitate sometimes to write about things that are highly personal, deeply held.  But, after meditating upon God's Word and praying through my thoughts, I am going to share.  Because anything that causes an increase in one's understanding of who God the Father is, is a good thing to share.  So, here goes.

I have an amazing earthly father.  This side of heaven, they don't come much more devoted and stable.  Still, as a young girl, I didn't always understand him...he was elusive, complicated, so big in my mind that he seemed inaccessible.  Sometimes when I think of the women out there who have had such difficult and horrible relationships with their unstable, abusive fathers, I feel guilty for having the audacity to need to understand my relationship with my Dad.  But, over the years, I have come to recognize that my relationship with my Dad was paramount to my understanding of my Heavenly Father.  I looked at Dad and thought, "God is like that." 

What a heavy weight we parents bear.  What a terrifying weight.

This morning in my Bible study time, I read this:

"One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard:
that you, O God, are strong,
and that you, O Lord, are loving."
Psalm 62:11-12

All of this time spent trying to wrap my mind around my earthly father and my Heavenly Father, and this simple concept is all I really needed. 

Is he loving?  Yes. 
Is he strong?  Yes. 

Is HE loving?  Perfectly.
Is HE strong?  All-powerful.

It is best to approach Daddies, earthy or Heavenly, with the mind and heart of a child.  Don't pick it apart.  Don't try to understand them perfectly.

Just rest in the strength and love that is God...that is Father.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Man to Man

Chins:  So, I never got to thank you for what you did.
The Husband:  That isn't necessary.
Chins:  Well, I just feel like a little display of gratitude is in order. 

The Husband:  I am not really one of those "cat people."
Chins:  That's OK.  I am totally one of those "people cats."

The Husband:  Maybe this isn't so bad.
Chins:, thanks
The Husband:  Sure.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Crock Pot Mulled Cider

Today was such a lovely day!  The temperature was cool and so much like fall that the kids and I piled into the car and hit the local apple orchard for some cider.  Then we came home to MULL IT while we worked in the yard all day (thanks for everything, Mother-in-Law!).  At the end of a busy fall day, I had hot cider on my pretty little front porch.  Perfect.

Crock Pot Mulled Cider

2 quarts apple cider (our orchard has the BEST)
4 tbs. pure maple syrup (more or less, to taste)
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp. whole cloves
1 tsp. whole allspice
2-3 inch peeling of lemon rind

Pour all ingredients into a small crock pot:

Heat on high for two hours, or on low for four to five hours.
You can put all the spices in cheesecloth and tie it for easy removal, or use a tea ball for the allspice and cloves. 
Or you can throw it all in because you have landscaping to do, and you don't have time to hunt down the tea ball.
Then just fish it out later with a slotted spoon.

The only thing missing is a campfire...and s'mores. 
Okay, two things.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY:  September 2, 2010

Outside my is gray and wet.  Not a good day for dog walking.

I am thinking...about how to keep my dog from peeing in the house while it rains.  I am also thinking about the AWANA meeting that I will be attending tonight, my friend who had a new baby yesterday, and how to celebrate our 13 year wedding anniversary this weekend.

I am thankful for...the last 13 years, even the really difficult ones.

From the learning rooms...we are back to school!  It is going really well, though in true back-to-school fashion, the kids have caught a cold.  Germs do not discriminate between public and home schools.

From the kitchen...tonight I will be serving pasta with bacon and peas, one of my favorite dishes.  The husband will pick out the bacon and avoid the peas. 

I am glasses, so I hope no one comes to the door.

I am creating...a stack of note cards on which I have written all of the verses I need to memorize for AWANA. 

I am the gym, even though I don't want to, especially because I don't want to.  Flexing the old "self-discipline muscle."  If it gets strong enough, maybe it will push away the brownies.

I am reading...Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions by George Barna. 

I am hoping...that fall will set in soon, and that my grocery store will start carrying canned pumpkin soon.  I NEED some pumpkin in my life...pumpkin oatmeal, pumpkin bread, pumpkin yogurt. 

I am hearing...the fridge humming, the dog snoring, my fingers tapping the keys, and my brain chattering.

Around the house...things are so neat and clean :)  I love it.  Yesterday I went to do laundry and didn't have enough for a load.  It was strange.

One of my favorite parents, who will be home exactly two months from today...for good.

A few plans for the rest of the week:  Getting cable TV, which goes against my personal convictions, but not enough to not get DVR.  I am so mainstream.  We will also be cleaning Mom's house for Brother (ewwwww), walking the dog too often to mention, and (hopefully) going out to eat for our anniversary WITHOUT the kids this year (last year we took them with us). 

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

Almost 13 years already? 
Love you, Husband.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

In Memory

In honor of the wonderful friend I lost:

We had this lovely rock engraved to mark the place of her burial. 
It was an inexpensive way to make a memorial to the pet we all loved.
Well, love...

I know, Tiny Love.  Me, too.