Saturday, January 31, 2009

Here in the Puddle

I really wish I could boast that I have a sea of forgetfulness. Really- it sounds so nice doesn't it? Just to be able to wash it under the bridge.

Sadly, I don't...

For big things anyway.

Oh, the sea is vast for forgetting things like: Where are my car keys?(a daily trial), Did I turn off the curling iron?, Am I supposed to be somewhere right now?, Do we have Diet Coke?, Do we have dog food?, Is it Brownie Monday?, Do I have to speak in public today (oh Lord, please no!)?, Is there basketball practice?, What did I wear yesterday? (yes, seriously, I have to ask myself that.)

But I find that there is yet another area of my life that I fall amazingly short of Jesus's example. I don't have a sea of forgetfulness; on a GOOD day it's a puddle, on MOST days- well we here in the South we say- EXTREME DROUGHT! Forgiveness is not really my forte- as a matter of fact, it's probably my worst skill- (at least it runs a very close second to singing - oh and meringue- oddly, I'm terrible at making meringue - but don't worry- I'm committed to finding the secret to that little mystery before humidity strikes again.) It' a lofty goal I know- but I'm believing God to make me victorious.

So, in short, I am very thankful today for God's ability to forgive and forget. Mainly because I was in a bad mood today (I'm retaining water and it's been cold out- a deadly mix for me) and probably wasn't as pleasant and Christ-like as I should have been, which means that tomorrow I will have to ask forgiveness from everyone that I spoke to or near today. (Except the dogs- seriously- I don't think it's a coincidence that "dog" is God spelled backwards- they (dogs) are much more forgiving than most of the people I know).

I am praying for a better day tomorrow, but honestly, (and I'm talking RAW HONESTY here) it may take God himself sitting next to me in church to get me out of this little fit- I've just agreed to let my oldest go to Florida for a week this summer with friends and without me- yes it's with the Youth Group- but - HELLO!!!! it's without me. First.Time.Ever. for this child to leave the state without me. I'm just saying- I'm not well.

So- if you're reading. Pray for me. No- better yet, pray for the poor souls that have to deal with me tomorrow- I know not what I do!

Actually, I do know a little about what I do tomorrow (I also know I made a grammatical error -it's all about effect here people)- it's Super Bowl Sunday and I'm cooking some good game food for Coach and our pregnant pals- I'll post the recipes early in case you're so inclined to make a run to the store- had planned on doing it earlier, but I was out in the doghouse with my buddies today!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Trip to Carlsbad

Friday we drove 5 hours down to Carlsbad, stopping at Farley's in Roswell for lunch on the way. It's a great restaurant for kids -- they have an old motorcycle to sit on, some arcade games, and fun alien decor.

We just barely had time to go to the Living Desert State Park before they closed -- the park is open until 5, but they close the gates at 3:30. We slipped in at 3:29! Onyx loved all the cactus (we now know what a Cow's Tongue Prickly Pear Cactus looks like), and Quartz liked the rattlesnakes and night animals. I liked the prairie dogs.

Our cabin at the Carlsbad KOA was better than a motel room (and about the same price), but still pretty small for two rambunctious boys, one cranky baby, and two tired parents! Luckily they had a Wii in the common room where the boys could let off some steam (it was very cold at night, so we couldn't play outside). But it was nice not having to worry about waking up everyone in the hotel at 6am! And they cooked decent BBQ on site that they would deliver to you if you ordered ahead of time, so we didn't have to worry about dinner.

Carlsbad Caverns was very cool. I think that's one of my all-time favorite hikes -- hiking down the natural entrance is like you've gone to another planet. And it was a nice warm 55 degrees in the cave. :-) Onyx got tired at the bottom and didn't want to walk around the big room (he is only 2 1/2), but Quartz and Wes looked at all the stalactites and columns and everything. Quartz's happiest moment was when a stalactite dripped on his head. He said, "I want to see all the cave formations, dad!"

After naps, the boys were ready for more, so I took them to the Playground on the Pecos, which is a great park in the city of Carlsbad. It had a little cave area, an old West town area, and lots of places for climbing and hiding and running around. A very creative and fun park!

Sunday we headed home, and stopped at the Roswell UFO museum. Pretty interesting (great collection of primary sources about UFOs), but kind of boring for little kids that can't read. All in all, it was a fun weekend trip!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday Supper - Edition 7

Well I was totally in the mood for making and eating chocolate chip cookies tonight because it's cold outside, and dark, and really- if I look hard enough for a reason, there's always 50 million good ones to make chocolate chip cookies until....

I read a friend of mine's "25 Things About Me" note on Facebook and she mentioned that she has lost 28 pounds and is in a size 2!

Bummer. (Well- awesome for her because she had to work really hard to get there, and we all know how hard it is to lose a pound much less 28 of them)

Anyhoo- I'm going to have to do this fast so I can sedate myself so I don't end up eating an entire bowl of cookie dough (because really, isn't baking them just a formality? And since I'm trying to simplify life there's really no good reason for baking except for the pesky threat of botulism).

Proudly- dinner was a healthy one, and I'm well within my Weight Watchers points for the day.

Chicken Saltimbocca

4 - 1/4 pound chicken breasts (I buy the Tyson Organic Thin Breasts)
2 slices deli honey ham (cut in half)
2 slices swiss chees (cut in half)
8 large basil leaves (or just sprinkle dried basil if you can't get fresh)
1 large lemon
1 cup reduced sodium chicken broth

Arrange the chicken breasts on a flat surface with the short side facing you. Top each one with a piece of ham and a piece of cheese. Roll up and secure with toothpicks.

Grate 1 tablespoon of zest from the lemon and squeeze 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.

Spray a large non-stick skillet with Pam and set over medium heat. Add the chicken rolls seam side down and cooke until lightly browned, about 2 minutes on each side. Add the broth, lemon zest, and juice. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer covered for about 8 minutes.

Balsamic Glazed Broccoli

2 bunches broccoli, trimmed (or two of the steamer bags of broccoli)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
pinch salt
pinch pepper

Steam broccoli until crisp. Place in a serving bowl and keep warm.

In a small saucepan pour balsamic vinegar over medium heat and cook until it reduces by half. Add butter, sugar, salt, and pepper. Pour over broccoli.

Now - this is the big secret. Make some Uncle Ben's Broccoli Rice Au Gratin and you're ready to go.

If you're a fellow WW person the dinner is 10 points for 1 cup broccoli, 1/3 cup rice, and 1 serving Chicken Saltimbocca.

Happy Sunday! Next week is Super Bowl Sunday- there are big plans in the works for football fare! See you then.

Monday, January 19, 2009


So good news- my dad is having his second kidney transplant sometime in the next 10 hours or so. My mother gave him a kidney six years ago and things went beautifully (except for the part where my very small mother convinced the doctor that she was not affected by the anesthesia and asked him to give her "enough to take down an elephant," and so they did and she was unconscious for three days! Dad was ready to be released and had to wait on her!). So, even though there are risks with this surgery, everyone is much calmer this time around.

I am asking that you pray for him and for the family that lost a family member today- someone somewhere died, but gave his/her organs for donation. Thank you Jesus for the kindness of strangers, and Lord carry them through this time.

It is a rare thing today to be able to say, but my parents are still happily married after 39 years, they are both still living, and both very involved in our lives and the lives and activities of our kids. Thank you Jesus for that. That in itself is a priceless legacy.

But mostly, I am thankful for two very different people who have molded me and made me stronger than I ever thought I could be; they taught me the value of family and not giving up, and they taught me selflessness. My mom is much like a hurricane- you hear her coming long before she gets there, the visit is usually brief and impressively active, and just like that she's out. The woman can get things done- and thank God she can, because the rest of us are a little less efficient.

My Dad? As my youngest says "He's a complicated man." She has no idea what that means, she heard it on TV and knew we'd laugh. He's really not all that complicated- quiet most of the time, an impressive temper that has mellowed with the years, the problem solver of the family, and more loyal than our Labrador.

Top 10 - Memories with my Dad

10. Taking me on the Wabash Cannonball (rollercoaster that went upside down) when I was five. I cried and begged not to go; he said "you're going" and he talked to me the entire time we were in line about not living fearfully. Turns out that one back-fired on him- I loved it and we spent the better part of the day riding that thing.

9. "Daring" me to do a flip off the high dive at the pool. Just as I was about to wimp out - he called me "chicken" while he waited at the bottom- he knew that was the only thing that would make me do it and he wasn't afraid to say it.

8. This phrase: "And don't lie to me- I know what you're thinking, I can tell by looking at your face. You can't fool me" (And the most remarkable thing was he could tell what I was thinking by looking at my face, and I cannot think of a single time I got away with fooling him)

7. 7th grade- I wanted Tretorns, we went to get said Tretorns, he nearly had a stroke in the store because they were $32 (and he wasn't quiet about it). He said "I'm not paying $32 for canvas tennis shoes!" I was mortified and then lectured on the value of a dollar. Two days later, he brought them home, smiled, apologized, and then told me to take care of them.

6. Parachute pants- 1983- I had saved my half of the money, it was a Thursday night, I was going to the skating rink the very next night - so Dad, Mom, Ryan, and I all got in the car drove to the mall and got parachute pants- and neither of them said a word about how ugly they were. The irony of that situation? I wore them to the skating rink, took one lap around the rink, fell and burned a hole in the knee in the first ten minutes I was there. I didn't get a second pair.

5. Talking me out of hysterics before I had to run the 400 in track meets. Every. Single. Time.

4. This phrase: "Your curfew is 11:00 not 11:05"

3. Meeting my date and I on the front porch at 11:05- it happened once. (Okay- maybe twice- I was very hard-headed)

2. This phrase: "Do you want to be 'just average?'" (and when I replied "yes" one time, he said "well too bad, we don't do average here)

1. More conversations on the front porch about boys, acne, clothes, peer pressure, drinking, and sex than I ever wanted, but I needed every single one of them.

Thank you Daddy- it never went unnoticed, even when I was too immature to appreciate all you both did for us.

I know now, and I guess that was the point.

You taught me to be a "future thinker" always looking ahead to the way I wanted things to finish.

This time, I think I got it right.

Love you!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday Supper- Edition 6

What in the world? I mean seriously...we live in Tennessee where 32 degrees is officially cold. Except for this week when it was 9. I mean really- is that necessary?

I am now more certain than ever that I am a misplaced islander- I haven't figured out yet how I ended up in Tennessee, but this week has solidified my belief that this is not my homeland.

Anyway, I went to the store on Tuesday to get everything I needed for the coming weeks so that I wouldn't have to venture out in the cold foraging for food.

I reconciled with the weather and I've made meatloaf, lasagna, chili - you know all the good comfort food. Tonight I planned on Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup - oh this stuff is good, and I had imagined having soup and Toasted French Cheese Sandwiches in front of a fire watching a good girlie movie while it was freezing cold outside.

It's 50 degrees outside. I broke a sweat on the way to church. And we're having Chicken Noodle Soup. I feel like we need to grill fish and have salad and play Jimmy Buffett songs, but I'm sticking to the menu.

Chicken Noodle Soup
1/4 cup butter
3 medium carrots thinly sliced
1 onion, chopped
16 oz baby bella mushrooms
12 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons of thyme (fresh if you've got it, but if it's 9 degrees where you are- just use the ground thyme)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper (I use a whole lot more)
2 cups cooked shredded chicken (I buy the cooked rotisserie chickens and use a whole one- I pour the juice in the broth and put the skin is as well)
2 cups uncooked wide egg noodles

In a large Dutch oven , melt butter over heat and add the carrots, celery, onion, and mushrooms; cooke 6-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender. Add broth, bay leaf, thyme, salt, and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. THEN stir in chicken and noodles; simmer 8-10 minutes more until the noodles are tender. You're done - enjoy.

Toasted French Cheese Sandwiches
1/2 lb. sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp garlic salt
8 slices white bread

In a mixer, blend cheese and butter. Add eggs and garlic salt. Whip until creamy. Spread mixture on a piece of bread, place another slice of bread on top and spread it with cheese mixture also. Sprinkle with paprika. Repeat 3 more times. Bake 10-15 minutes in a 400 degree oven.

*I always double the cheese mixture and make really bubbly sandwiches. You can also mix the cheese and store it in the fridge to make sandwiches on demand. OR you can go ahead and make the sandwiches without cooking them, freeze them, and pull them out when you need them.

Happy Sunday!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Shopping War: Function vs. Fashion

It's 12 degrees here Tennessee...for the geographically challenged that is the SOUTH.

The cold got me to thinking- I will be standing on a track everyday for the next 17 weeks coaching. Because our weather is so dern unpredictable Coach (a connoisseur of outdoor fashion) recommended that I get some footwear that is a bit more practical than my very cute striped rain boots from Target. Cute and waterproof, but not warm.

The temperature today made me think again of my footwear dilemma, so we went shopping.

Tip #1- Shoe shopping is best done alone.
Tip #2- Shoe advice from the male species is generally not sage advice
Tip #3- It is generally good practice not to buy shoes where collapsible dog bowls and dehydrated food are sold.

Enough said?

Oh no.....

Here is what I was planning to buy:

Practical? No probably not. Could I justify it? Of course- one can justify almost any footwear choice if one tries hard enough. Would it be an odd footwear choice with polar fleece yoga pants and fleece jackets? Probably, but we're talking coaches here people...the shoes are really not the issue.

What WE bought:

Oh ain't she a beauty? No- I didn't think so either, but she's so versatile, I mean I can wear her almost anywhere...with mud puddles and straw floors. Denim mini skirt? Nope. Jeans? I think it is a matter of personal taste, but I'm going with....NO. Basically, I can wear these to rainy, cold track meets. Oh yeah, and maybe hiking.

Function beat fashion. (It didn't help my case that the functional outdoor boot was on sale for $55 and the fashionable, versatile, all leather, expertly crafted piece of love I was hoping for was $272 - dern economy)

So, if you find yourself at a track meet in the Middle-Tennessee area this spring and you see a coach whose feet have had a beat down from the ugly stick, be sure to say hello!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Three Kids and a Blanket

What better way to start a blog on a new site than with a cute picture! All three kids lying in the same place, happy, long enough for me to run and get the camera and take a picture. Not a common occurrence . . .

Quartz loves to play with Sapphire. He'll lie down next to her and talk to her in a baby voice, or show her his favorite toys, or snuggle up with his blanket. When it's time for her to do something else, he might say "I need Saph!" I'm not sure why he calls her "Saph" once in a while; no one else does. :-)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Posting Again!

Wow, I have actually found some time to post yet again! This week so far has projected to be a slow one. Mondays are usually pretty busy, but after about 2pm yesterday, my day slowed down. Around 4pm I decided to go a head and do my Friday Reports, and that kept me busy until a little after 5pm.

Yesterday was my day to go pick up the kids (Brian had to ref. football). I dread the drive, because it's kind of out of the way, and traffic is not usually very good either. Yesterday was a little more congested than normal. It was raining, and I hate to say it, but people do not know how to drive in the rain! But, I got there before the daycare closed, and that is all that really matters. Kaitlyn had a good day, because she could not wait to tell me that she did not get in time out all day long. SO, we went to Taco Bell for dinner! She was so excited.

Tyler did something yesterday that was a 1st for me to see. Usually when I get there to pick up the kids, they are all in one room watching a movie, patiently waiting for their parents to get there. Tyler, as soon as he sees me, usually come crawling as fast as he can to me, but not yesterday. Yesterday when he saw me, he pushed himself up with his hands until he was standing, walked a few steps, tripped over another kid, stood back up and walked over to me! I was so excited. Yes, he has been walking for a few weeks now, and even standing up on his own to walk, but usually he tries to get to me as fast as he can - which means crawling! My little boy is growing up!

Because I had the kids all to myself last night, it meant getting all the things done in one night, alone. Usually I am too tired (whether Brian is home or not), to do too much once I get home from work. Our "New Year's Resolution" is to save as much money as we can each month. This means eating more at home. I have been trying to do this as much as possible, with the occassional treat to Taco Bell, when daddy is not going to be home for dinner. So, we picked up Taco Bell, came home, ate dinner, Tyler was so tired he didn't each much of what I gave him (and he also had 2 cerael bars in the car so he was probably full). He went to bed not too long after we got home. He was sweet, I layed him down, covered him up, and he just layed on his back looking up at me with his thumb in him mouth! Those are the moments I cherish. Kaitlyn finished her food and played for a while while I proceeded to put some laundry on, do the dishes, get dinner for tonight ready (Roast and Potatoes!!), and put away some laundry that has been sitting out all weekend. WOW! That's more than I do on a weekend sometimes. I'm trying to be more motivated to get a little bit done every night so come weekend we can try to relax and enjoy!!! We will see how long that lasts......

Well, I better figure out what I need to be doing today. I am feeling a lot better health wise, but I still have some sinus pressure....even in my they feel like they might burst....ugg....

Hope you have a wonderful day!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Bootcamp- Day 1

So, there was no Sunday Supper edition this week because I was preparing for the beginning of bootcamp. Dinner last night was twigs and berries. (Not really, I think we had some sort of chicken, but I can't be absolutely sure)

Let me just tell you this. I have a friend who has given birth to four children and wears a bikini. Her secret? Bootcamp. So guess who went to bootcamp tonight? You got it- silly, naive, and totally unrealistic about her fitness level me.

Here's the problem. I was a state champion athlete. The problem? Well, it's simply this- I honestly believed that if I just looked at the pictures of me running when I was 18 that I would be able to perform like that. Turns out...not so much.

Tonight when I tried to "sprint," and I use that term in its most liberal sense, it sounded like a machine gun went off- every joint from my waist down revolted. I looked like I was having some sort of epileptic fit for a minute. Once the popping joints calmed down I was doing okay.

Amy (sadistic bootcamp instructor) notices that I have a "pretty gait" (Can you believe the things you take as compliments?) So I start feeling all good about myself and that's when it started...

My mind started playing tricks on me. It told me I was 18; that I could shame all those other women; that I still had buns of steel; that I was still the sprinter of old. It lasted for 10 minutes.

Then there were hateful sets of planks and squats and lunges all whilst hooked up to some horrible bungy apparatus for "resistance."

All of this was very reminiscent of the year that Coach and I decided to "run" (again, a very liberal use of the word) the 1/2 marathon WITHOUT TRAINING. Oh yes, we did. Coach, also an accomplished athlete back in the day of high top Reeboks and leg warmers, and I honestly believed we could just "tough out" 13.2 miles.

Well, all I'll tell you is this...ole Coach got the nickname "Firestarter" for the friction he had going between his thighs, and I lost feeling in my feet at mile 8 and alternated between weeping and cackling for the last 3 miles (Coach found it neither amusing nor lovable). But we lived through it, our marriage is so much stronger, blah, blah, blah. And for the bargain price of $189 we got two t-shirts and 2 hours and 47 minutes of fun. (Don't even go there about the time- I can't talk about it!)

Actually, we went straight to the pizza place down the street, drank obscene amounts of Diet Coke, downed a pizza like a couple of wolves, and went home and slept for 13 hours.

Now, I've signed up to do it again, this time with G- he's 12, I think I can take him. If not, I can always trip him.

Anyhoo, back to bootcamp. Did you know that there are muscles in your ears? Me either, but I am very aware of them as well as all the others because they are all screaming for mercy! I mean it, SCREAMING!

So, I'm going to take my polio-stricken self to bed and pray that with the help of Coach and gravity I'll make it out of the bed tomorrow to go deal with 62 hormonal teenagers all day, come home and deal with my two hormonal kids, 2 crazy dogs, and always jolly husband (seriously, he is).

Aaaahhhhh, living the dream.

What does an aneurysm feel like? I might be having one.

Friday, January 9, 2009

So busy and never enough time to post

As I sit here tonight, I ponder all the things that have taken place since my last post. It has been a long time since I have even looked at this thing.

I was taking care of the kids the other night, and as I was rocking Tyler to sleep, I thought about what a good post it would be, if I only had time to write. We are constantly on the go, and hardly ever home long enough to enjoy our time home, and I decided to actually spend some "mommy time" with Tyler. Brian had been sick, and I had to take the kids to school and pick them up. Tyler had been unusually cranky (which cranky is not unusual for him), so I wondered what might be the problem. I realized that Tyler had not seen or even spent time with mommy in at least 6 days, because I was sick with the flu. So, I decided that after dinner, I would give him a bath and just sit and hold him for a while. So, after bathing the kids, I got Tyler dressed in his pjamas, and rocked him for a while. It's been a very long time since I have done that. I just sat and loved him, and thought about the fact that therer will come a point in time when he will no longer allow me to. Mind you, Kaitlyn wouldn't let me hold her long before now, but Tyler is a little bit of a mama's boy. He just layed on my chest while I scratched/rubbed his back, and just took in the moment and tried to make a mental memory. All the way until he fell asleep. He was so prescious just laying there, I didn't want to put him down. We sat there for a few more minutes, then I put him to bed.

As I am recalling this memory, I am also listening to my husband have a conversation with Kaitlyn on why she would hit her friends at school. We have a little bit of a rough week. Kaitlyn has been in time out every day for hitting or kicking her friends. Usually one time would be enough to keep her out of time out for anything for at least a week, but not this week. She also got in trouble yesterday for pulling her dress up, pulling her panties down and shaking her booty in her brother's face at school. Mind you she did it in front of other people too. When her teacher told me about it, she told me she that she told Kaitlyn that it might be o.k. to do that at home, but not at school. I can only imagine the look on my face.....I told her "We do not do that at home." I have NO idea where she got that idea from. I was shocked! Not sure what has gotten into my daughter these days. Usually when I go to pick them up from school (which is usually only once a week), we go by Taco Bell on the way home. The first day I picked them up, we did go. Kaitlyn has asked every day this week to go, but every day I have told her that we only go to Taco Bell on special days, and when she can be good at school and not go in time out. Today I had planned to take her there after school. When her teacher told me she was not good, I ALMOST gave in. I thought about telling her that we would go, but next time she wasn't good, we couldn't go, but I had to stop myself. I had to say "No, I told you it's for treats. You were not good, so you can not have a treat." Let's hope I can stick to this.

Well, this is nothing of a catch up, but I am tired. I am not going to promise that I will keep up with the posts, but I will at least try to post as often as I can.

Until then!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Sunday Supper- Asian Monday Edition

Kon Ni chi Wa friends (that'd be hello in Japanese)! We're rollin Asian style in our casa tonight (or I guess tonight it's our Pagoda). Don't ask about the title- let's just say this- I'm a teacher; I've been on vacation for over two weeks- supper didn't get cooked Sunday because, well I was in mourning and didn't feel up to the task. This teacher is ready for a snow day or May!

But, I redeemed myself a bit tonight and made Mongolian Beef! Just like P.F. Chang's (a little bit better if I do say so myself!) We had rice and steamed broccoli (I'm still trying for that 7 vegetables a day goal- and made it if you count the McDonald's fries) - but for those of you who are in an Asian mood, I'll give you my Benihana recipes too. That way you can have yourself an Asian feast!

Benihana Ginger Salad Dressing

1/2 cup minced onion
1/2 cup peanut oil
1/2 cup rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons minced ginger
2 Tablespoons minced celery
2 Tablespoons ketchup
4 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until all the ginger is pureed. Chill. Serve over iceberg lettuce.

Benihana Japanese Onion Soup
4 cups canned chicken broth
2 cups water
1/2 white onion
1/2 carrot coarsely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 celery stalk coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 can (small) French's French Fried Onions
6 medium mushrooms, thinly sliced
4 green onions, diced (green part only)

Combine the broth and water in a large pan over high heat. Coarsely chop the white onion. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and salt to the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until the onion starts to become translucent.

When the soup has simmered for 10 minutes, strain the vegetables out of the broth and give them to your dogs (if your dogs don't eat them, save them for me- mine will chow down!) Pour the broth back into the pan and keep hot over low heat.

To serve, ladle about 1 cup of broth into a bowl. Drop a few pieces of the french fried onions into the soup, followed by a few slices of mushroom (about 1 mushroom each) and a couple of pinches of diced green onion. When the fried onions sink to the bottom- serve the soup!

Mongolian Beef (adapted from P.F. Chang's)

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
1 Tablespoon chopped garlic
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup dark brown sugar

1 cup vegetable oil
1 pound flank steak
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 bunch green onions (coarsely chop the green part)

Make the sauce by heating 2 teaspoons of oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Don't get the oil too hot or it will spatter! Add ginger and garlic to the pan then add the soy sauce and water. Dissolve the brown sugar in the sauce and then raise the heat to medium- boil the sauce for 2-3 minutes until it thickens. Remove it from heat.

Slice the flank steak against the grain into thin bite-sized slices. Dip the pieces of steak in the cornstarch and dust both sides. Let the meat sit for about 10 minutes. Heat up one cup of oil on meduim heat in a wok or very large skillet. Get the oil hot, but not smoking. Add the beef to the oil and saute for just two minutes- YOU DON'T HAVE TO COOK MEAT ALL THE WAY THROUGH- you'll cook it again in a minute. Stir the meat around a little so it cooks evenly. Remove the meat with a large slotted spoon or spider and set on a plate- don't use paper towels unless you enjoy eating paper towels. Pour out the oil from the pan. Return the meat to the pan and simmer for a couple of minutes. Add the sauce and cook for another minute or two, then add the green onions and cook another minute or two.

Now- you can remove the meat and onions from the pan at this point and make it look pretty when you serve it- but I leave it in the sauce a few minutes to let it soak up the flavor.

Serve it over rice, or eat it straight from the pan. It's good stuff!

Oh- I also have the holy grail of PF Chang's recipes...yes- Chicken Lettuce Wraps. If you want it, let me hear from you! Just comment below!

So, from our Pagoda to yours - Sayonara!

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year- Day 2

Let's see how we did with resolutions today:

Quiet time- yep

Be nice to family- yep (well, mostly yep- we have a pubescent boy- enough said)

Drinking water- kinda (there's water in Diet Coke right?)

35 minutes of exercise- yep (Wii bowling, tennis, and baseball. My Wii age went from 54 to 23 today- I'm counting it)

7 fruits/vegetables- nope


Let me tell you what I discovered today. Coach and I went to grab some dinner at a new place we've been threatening to try- Swanky's Tacos. While the decor was swanky the food was stanky. But- that's okay- you never know until you try.

Anyway, across the way from Swanky Taco was Gigi's Cupcakes. I promised AC we'd go to the cupcake store if she made a 100% on her spelling test. We have three new cupcake stores in the area- we haven't tried a single one yet. So, tonight I went on a cupcake reconnaissance mission. Because I want our cupcake outing to be perfect, I had to make sure I found the best cupcake store. I found it. We're done, and I'm seeking a rehabilitation facility that specializes in cupcake addiction. We bought two ("Texas Milk Chocolate" & "Peanut Butter Cup") and the little cupcake pusher gave us a "Miss Princess" cupcake just to make sure we would come back. All three were diabetic symphonies!

Funny story though- my "Texas Milk Chocolate" cupcake was a 10,000 calorie chunk of chocolate with about 6 inches of chocolate buttercream frosting on top. On the top is a yellow foam star. (NOT EDIBLE- or so I thought) Coach was so caught up in the creamy goodness that was the "Peanut Butter Cup", and because he knows better than to touch my chocolate for fear of pulling back a bloody stump where his arm used to be, he tried to eat the star.

So I say, "Can you eat the star? I thought it was foam."

Coach says, "Yes you can eat it, it's candy."

Me: "Huh, I thought it was foam."

Coach: (swallows the last of the star) "Yeah- I think you were right-I think it was foam, but it had enough icing on it, it still tasted good."

Y'all that's how good this stuff is- even preschool crafting supplies taste good covered in Gigi's cupcake icing!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Tending To the Year

My word what a year it's been here! In our family we have roughly 4-6 weeks of down time before our schedules spiral out of control again until next January.

Anyway, as I sat here today in my pjs and ate untold meatballs, obscene amounts of cheese dip, and shameful numbers of red velvet cupcakes I've also been thinking about the things I'm going to work on this year. Obviously, we're going to recommit to better health habits- but in light of all that has gone on nationally and internationally this year- it just seemed a bit trite to stop there. Because really, when I look at our lives- a few extra pounds around the middle and a pseudo-addiction (ok- a full-blown addiction) to diet coke is not really something that should consume my thoughts- and maybe that's why I keep dragging the same old me into a new year.

As I read Beth Moore's post from last night, she quoted a scripture passage that is so profoundly simple, but also profoundly freeing and I thought I'd share:

"the land you are crossing the Jordan to occupy is one of hills and valleys, a land that drinks water from the rains, a land the Lord your God looks after. He is constantly attentive to it from the beginning to the end of the year."
Deuteronomy 11:11,12

What a comfort to know that He is attentive to my year and my activities even when I am not. (It's also very convicting). So for the next year the things I'm really going to focus on and make sure become a part of the me of 2009 are:

1. Quiet time- every day- no excuses.

2. More service in the community- significantly more. Jesus began and ended his ministry speaking about the poor and helpless- I'm thinking he was trying to make a point there.

3. More laughing with my kids, less correcting.

4. More laughing with my husband, less business.

5. More singing, less crying.

6. More loving, less judging.

7. More praising, less asking.

Happy New Year!
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