Monday, April 28, 2008

Finding Jesus in our front yard...

This weekend was full of fun and strange happenings, so this will be a random post for sure. Maybe, I'll try the list format...

1. Emily came home from school early on Friday with pink eye. It just so happens that she's still home today with pink eye in both eyes. Poor Em...

2. Friday afternoon at work, I looked up from the playground to see 4 deer in the school's front yard. This is a very dense and developed neighborhood; however, this is not the first time that deer have been walking around as if they are right at home. Can you imagine?

3. Saturday, we spent some time cleaning up the yard and house to get ready for a realtor coming by. Our lease is coming to an end and this house is going on the market at the end of the week. While cleaning up the yard, Jason found this in the flower bed: 

I've really tried to see a sign out of this finding but haven't come up with anything profound!

4. Sunday morning, we were moving slowly and didn't make it to church. Instead, we had our first official "home church". I say we did a pretty good job considering the fact that our audience was 7, 4 and 2. We talked about the greatest commandment: love the Lord your God. We sang some songs to God about how much we love Him. We let each one of the kids pick a song to sing. It was fun, although Ben wanted to sing "Baa Baa Black Sheep". (We decided to save that one for later.) Emily picked "John 3:16" and Abby picked "Jesus Loves Me". We then went on to talk about ways that we can show God we love Him and ways that we can show our neighbors love. Please, Lord, help it to sink into those little minds...

5. After "church", we transplanted our tomato plants into pots. This was a fun time for about 30 seconds. Does anyone else dream up family projects and it doesn't always pan out the way you dream? Needless to say, we had to get the bubbles out to distract a certain little someone from dumping dirt all over the deck. We found the perfect sunny spot for the tomatoes only to have to bring them in last night because of a cold front that may bring snow this week!  (It's been in the upper 70's and sunny for the past two weeks.) Today, my heater is back on and it's 47 degrees outside...

Last day as pods

Ooo...this is fun!

Daddy's helpers

The finished product

6. Emily had a makeup piano lesson on Sunday afternoon. I was sitting on the couch during her lesson and looked down to see some white stuff on my pant leg. I uncrossed my arms and there was a green spider on my leg in the midst of weaving a web on my pants! No, I did not scream, but not because I didn't want to. Somehow, I was able to have some control.  Isn't that weird?

7. Tried a new recipe. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Burrito Casserole
8 small (fajita-size) flour tortillas
2 cups refried beans
2 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 small red onion, diced
1-1/2 pounds ground beef
1-1/2 cups store bought salsa (choose your spiciness)
Optional: 1 minced fresh jalapeno pepper
1-1/2 cups cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut 5 of the flour tortillas into strips, about 1/2 inches in width and set aside. Line the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish with the remaining flour tortillas. Spread an even layer of refried beans over the tortillas.  In a large skillet, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and beef to the pan and saute for about 5 minutes; breaking up the meat with a spoon, until it is no longer pink. Pour off and discard any excess liquid, stir in the salsa. Spread meat mixture over the refried beans, sprinkle on optional jalapeno peppers. Top with tortilla strips and sprinkle on cheddar cheese. Bake in oven until cheese has melted, about 10 minutes. Serve with sour cream, chopped tomatoes and chopped avocado on the side.

8. Found these at Michael's and used a 50% off coupon. One for my kids and one for a birthday present for a friend. Total cost for both: $5.00. Awesome!

Have a great week!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Yummy for your tummy...

This is a great pasta salad!  I found it on the website, which I use all the time. I made it yesterday for lunch with a friend and it's very tasty. The only change I made was using small grape tomatoes instead of chopped tomatoes. Can you believe that the yellow peppers at my grocery store this week were $4.99/lb? Thank goodness, I only needed one! 

I would have taken a picture of it, but it disappeared quickly. 

Italian Confetti Pasta Salad
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1-1/2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
2 cups colored rotini pasta
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
1/2 cup sliced black olives

Cook pasta according to package directions. Rinse in cold water and drain. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, vinegar, salt, black pepper and garlic until well blended. Mix in basil. Add pasta, tomatoes, bell peppers and olives; fold gently until mixed. Chill several hours. Stir gently before serving.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Seems a little fishy to me...

We tried a new recipe tonight and it's yummy, so I have to share it with you. 

I'll preface with this: my kids think that they do not like seafood. The reason I say they "think" they don't, is they really haven't tried much. They're first real introduction to seafood included some overcooked shrimp (which wasn't good and very chewey), and so they've just decided they don't like any kind of seafood. So, my evil plan was to cook this new dish and just call it "meat" and when it was met with approval, reveal its true identity. My plan didn't work too well, as the secret got out prior to the "fish" being served.  Oh well, they had to have their token 3 bites and ended up eating more than just those 3!

Lemon Rosemary Salmon
2 lemons, thinly sliced
8 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 salmon fillets, bones & skin removed
course salt to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil, or as needed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Arrange half the lemon slices in a single layer in a baking dish. Layer with 2 sprigs rosemary and top with salmon fillets. Sprinkle salmon with salt, layer with remaining rosemary sprigs and top with remaining lemon slices. Drizzle with olive oil.  Bake 20 minutes in the preheated oven or until fish is easily flaked with a fork.

Of course, the best part of the meal was taking the lemon rinds and making teeth out of them. 
I'll give you 3 guesses who came up with this trick...

Saturday, April 19, 2008

On the Anvil?

I really enjoy reading Max Lucado. I love his insight and appreciate his ability to take what seems to me so hard to express and put it in such beautiful picturesque words. I received this in my email this week and thought it was worth sharing with you. I know some of you, like me, are feeling a little (or alot) like you're on the anvil right now. Take heart...God will use this time for His glory and to strengthen you for His kingdom.

According to, the first definition of anvil is:

a heavy iron block with a smooth face,

frequently of steel,

on which metals, usually heated until soft,

are hammered into desired shapes


Anvil Time

by Max Lucado 

On Gods anvil. Perhaps youve been there.

Melted down. Formless. Undone. Placed on the anvil forreshaping? (A few rough edges too many.) Discipline? (A good father disciplines.) Testing? (Buy why so hard?)

I know. Ive been on it. Its rough. Its a spiritual slump, a famine. The fire goes out. Although the fire may flame for a moment, it soon disappears. We drift downward. Downward into the foggy valley of question, the misty lowland of discouragement. Motivation wanes. Desire is distant. Responsibilities are depressing.

Passion? It slips out the door.

Enthusiasm? Are you kidding?

Anvil time.

It can be caused by a death, a breakup, going broke, going prayerless. The light switch is flipped off and the room darkens. All the thoughtful words of help and hope have all been nicely said. But Im still hurting, wondering..

On the anvil.

Brought face to face with God out of the utter realization that we have nowhere else to go. Jesus in the garden. Peter with a tear-streaked face. David after Bathsheba. Elijah and the still, small voice. Paul, blind in Damascus.

Pound, pound, pound.

I hope youre not on the anvil. (Unless you need to be, and if so, I hope you are.) Anvil time is not to be avoided; its to be experienced. Although the tunnel is dark, it does go through the mountain. Anvil time reminds us of who we are and who God is. We shouldnt try to escape it. To escape it could be to escape God.

God sees our life from beginning to end. He may lead us through a storm at age thirty so we can endure a hurricane at age sixty. An instrument is useful only if its in the right shape. A dull ax or bent screwdriver needs attention, and so do we. A good blacksmith keeps his tools in shape. So does God.

Should God place you on his anvil, be thankful. It means he thinks youre still worth reshaping.

From On the Anvil:

Stories On Being Shaped Into Gods Image

This is a new edition of Maxs first book. 

It contains an updated forward, written by him, as well as thoughtful questions for each chapter.

© (Tyndale House, 1985, 2008) Max Lucado

Friday, April 18, 2008

Boss Lady...

I am so excited about this! 

I just started my own business with an amazing company called Taste of Home Entertaining. TOHE is a Reader's Digest company offering products for entertaining in the home, ranging from decor to serving pieces to dinnerware. The products are beautiful and very reasonably priced. This May, the company is celebrating it's 2-year anniversary and offering an amazing special to celebrate the occasion!  Every customer who purchases $29.96 in products in May and every May hostess will receive the Celebrations Cookbook FREE!  Ladies, this cookbook is amazing!

In Texas, I was with another company and enjoyed it so much.  I love having the flexibility, meeting new ladies, and making some money all in the process!  I changed companies and joined TOHE because I really love the integrity of the company and the awesome products.  In addition, the prices, monthly specials, and hostess rewards are amazing.

I love being my own boss lady!

Click here to view my website where you can see the catalog.
Warning: You will love it! 

Thursday, April 17, 2008

God is good!

It's 76 degrees and sunny are open!

Quick Fix...

It's been one of those weeks.  I'm confident you know what I'm talking about.  Here it is Thursday, and I can't really tell you what I've accomplished this week outside of a couple of loads of laundry. I haven't cooked a meal at home this week, which is very unusual for us, and I'm tired. It's been one of those weeks that it's been pretty easy to fall into "piti-party" mode. The dogs are nuisances, the explosive diapers have been way too many for anyone's liking this week, the car is making some strange noise that I'm sure will not be a cheap fix, our tenant in Texas is not paying the rent, Grandpa has been in the hospital this week, Hubby has come home grouchy and stressed almost every night this week, and as of yesterday afternoon, we now have one down for the count with strep.  Hmm, see how easy it is for me? 

I think that we all have periods of time in our lives that the "piti-party" mode is right there in our reach.  And yet, there are many people who would give their right arm to have a week like I described above.  I'll admit, I haven't spent any time in the Word this week and very little time in prayer.  Hmm...

Benjamin is home today with strep and not feeling well.  It didn't take long to get a smile on his face.  All it took was a quick fix that included some french toast sticks and Danimals.  

Oh, to be 4...

My situations may remain the same, and next week's list of challenges might be even longer.  I wonder if I spent time in the Word and in prayer, would I be able to smile like Ben?  I bet so!

If you're in "piti-party" mode like me, I think the quick fix for our soul has to be to stay committed to the Word and prayer. Although we may feel alone, God's Word promises that we are not.  He is with us in all kinds of weeks. 

Monday, April 14, 2008

The chosen ones...

So, we've reached the next step in our tomato growing process. We now have one sprout in each pod that is the tallest and strongest and had to cut away the weaker ones. 

I wonder what I can cut away in my life this week that makes me weaker and, in turn, grow taller towards the One that gives me life... 

When Daddy's in charge...

We have to pull Abby's hair back when she eats to avoid getting food in her hair that results in tangles that result in a screaming fit when her hair is brushed.  Mommy usually grabs a clip, a bow or headband to pull her hair back from her face.  

But, I think Daddy has a better idea!
What do you think?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The power of positive thinking...

While it's pretty chilly this weekend (20's/30's/40's) and there's a prediction of snow tomorrow (not much), WE WILL NOT BE SHAKEN...spring IS coming! 

This preview from our yard is proof enough for me...

Friday, April 11, 2008

Warning: It's yummy!

I tried a new recipe last night. Everyone grumbled prior to trying it and just knew they wouldn't like it. I love it when I try a new recipe and they think it's going to be gross and EVERYONE ends up liking it. Their bowls were licked clean!  

This is one you can throw together quickly with very few ingredients...

Black Bean Soup
2 cans black beans, drained & rinsed
2 cups fat-free chicken broth
1 can corn
1 cup medium salsa 
(I used mild salsa because of the kids, but you can do as spicy as your taste buds will allow!)
1 tsp ground cumin
(optional toppings: fat-free sour cream and fresh cilantro)

Lightly puree one can of black beans with broth, salsa & cumin in blender. In medium saucepan, combine pureed bean mix with remaining beans and heat through.  (You can also skip the puree-ing if you prefer and just pour it all together in the saucepan.)

Mix up a box of Jiffy and dinner is served!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Confession Time...

Ok, now you know, I'm an American Idol junkie.  I have to say this season is by far the best in regards to talent and personalities. Last night was the "Idol Gives Back", which was a great show to raise money for charities. I have to admit I was extremely impressed with how there seemed to be Christian influence throughout the broadcast. Of course, with any show these days on TV, there was definitely non-Christian influence throughout. 

Bono was one of the stars on the show and if you are familiar with Bono, he is heavily involved in raising money for Africa and helping those afflicted with HIV. Throughout his clips were pictures of crosses. Bono has a powerful message and is very influential. If you aren't familiar with his cause, google him and see what he's about.

I was most impressed, however, with the finale of the show as the remaining contestants came out, accompanied by an awesome gospel choir, singing Darlene Zscheck's "Shout to the Lord". While they substituted "shepherd" for "Jesus", they sang the song in its entirety and I couldn't believe it!  

Click here to see the performance.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Sprouts are growing!

Charting the progress...

So far, we have sprouts in every pod.  We even have a sprout in between the pods where Abby dropped a seed.  So, I think we will have plenty of tomatoes this summer and I will be looking for new tomato recipes!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Spring is in the air!

We had a great weekend and I will blame it on the awesome weather!  Thank you, Lord, for the season of spring that is a breath of fresh air after the cold, cold winter.  

We've had our windows open, we've been outside and to the park, we've even seen some of our neighbors. We were beginning to wonder if anyone really lived in these houses around us...

Here are some pics from our weekend:

Most of the trees are still pretty bare, but if you get close, you can see that the buds are there.  In the kids' terms, the trees have been asleep and are now waking up.  Again, I'm amazed at the wonder of God's creation and I'm so grateful that I can live in such a beautiful place.

Waking up!

The geese were honking...a spring song for sure!

Blue heron...perfect day for fishing.

Bloom where you're planted, right?

I even tried a new recipe this weekend.  We had cupcakes for dinner! (of the meat variety...) I don't know Annalee, but these are Annalee's "meat cupcakes" (Poppin' Fresh Barbecue Cups). I came across the recipe on another blog.  

It was a hit!  Click here for the recipe.
Add a salad or a veggie and you've got dinner!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Where are you planted?

Remember the Veggie Tales seeds we planted last Saturday?

Well, we've watched as our seeds have begun to show some green pushing through the dirt this week. I think it's safe to say they are officially sprouts! The kids have been so excited to watch them and are in competition to see whose are coming up first, the biggest, etc...  

I'm reminded of what a wonder life is and how God's creation is still amazing even today. We can go to our local hardware or grocery store, buy a small packet of seeds that were packaged who knows where, put them in the dirt, add water, the right amount of light, and life begins. And from this life, many will benefit as the plants bear their fruit.

Aren't our lives a little like those seed packets?  I mean, think about it...we're born into this world in all different locations, influenced by this world and a little like the seed packets sitting on the shelf at the store; all different varieties with potential to bear many different fruits. When we allow ourselves to be planted in the Lord, watered by his living water (John 4:14) and led by the Light of the world (John 8:12), we also begin to bear fruit.  

Jesus says in John 15:5, "I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." God is still in the business of creating and giving life. We have the choice to accept the life He gives or choose a life on our own.  I am glad I have chosen to be a part of God's garden and He is my gardener (John 15:1).   

Lord, thank you for your gift of life.  Help me today and every day to continue to choose your ways.  I pray that I will bear much fruit and that you will use me Lord to your glory to further the blooming of your kingdom.   ~Amen.

Pleasing to the taste buds...

This is another family favorite.  Enjoy!

Poppyseed Chicken
3 cups cooked chicken
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 8-oz carton sour cream
1 Tbsp. poppy seeds
1 sleeve Ritz crackers
1/4 cup butter, melted

Combine first 4 ingredients; spoon into a lightly greased baking dish. Combine crushed crackers and butter and sprinkle over chicken mixture. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  

It's a hit with the whole fam and some ask for seconds!

Imitation...the highest form of flattery

This is a re-print of a pondering from our previous website...
Abigail, my 2-year-old, has been in the cute stage of imitation for the past 6 or 7 months.  She loves to copy what she sees others doing or hears others saying, in particular, her brother and sister.  I remember a time when she was about 17-months-old and we were playing with her baby dolls.  As Abby watched me rocking a baby doll, she immediately picked hers up, plopped herself down by me and started rocking hers as well.  It was one of those cute moments when the camera was too far away.  Those few precious minutes with Abby triggered thoughts of my relationship with Jesus.  Just as Abby so quickly and easily imitated me, so should I imitate my Savior.  God created me in His image to be like Him.  Wouldn't imitation of my Heavenly Father be the highest form of flattery for Him and wouldn't it bring me closer to fulfilling the greatest calling on my life?

Lord, I pray that as I go about my day that I seek to imitate You in my daily tasks, my interactions with others, and in caring for and loving my family.  Help me to be more like You and to reflect who You are to those I meet.   ~Amen.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Please pray for Tricia

I hope that you have taken the time to read about Nathan, Tricia and Gwyneth Rose.  Right now, at this very moment, Tricia is in the OR being prepped to receive her double lung transplant.  The surgery should last 7-9 hours.  

You can chart the progress on Nathan's blog: 

Please pray for Tricia, the doctors, Nathan and their family.  Please also pray for the family who has lost a loved one so that Tricia may continue to have life here on this earth with her husband and precious daughter.

Have you discovered this?

Love it!

click here: crazy8 by Gymboree