Life Allsorts

Tomorrow we celebrate our seventh anniversary! I cannot believe Tuan and I have been married for seven years. Time has flown by and I can honestly say that the days have been nothing but good. Why with every passing year we have become more and more of "one mind and one way of thinking," but not in that creepy Collinsish way! I love to think back on the way God brought us together and used so many twists and turns of providence to bring us to where we are now. Johnny and Aubrey have only added to our joy. Happy Anniversary honey, even though you don't usually read these ramblings!

I was thinking today how much fun our children are. Time passes in a different kind of way once you have children and I forget how far we've come and how much they've changed. At our Christmas party, a friend's baby was crawling around and she was having to chase him and keep him close. I had this sudden epiphany that, "wow! I haven't had to chase a baby or toddler like that in a while--and soon we'll be going right back to where we started!" I've enjoyed every age and struggled with the difficulties of each age, too. However, in the midst of each one I've thought, "this is such a great time! Can it get any better?" Well each new stage brings such joy.

J is three and a half and A will be two in January. They are so much fun and I LOVE the three year old boy I've got right now. He is growing so much in his communication skills and in his memory. He remembers so much and is really beginning to learn some songs--Joy to the World, Deep and Wide, Jingle Bells and Go, Tell it on the Mountain, as well at Thomas' theme song frequently burst forth from his enthusiastic little self.

He and A both are improving in their ability to help around the house--the other day I asked J to pick up all his trains and track and went out of the room. When I came back, he had obeyed--"all the way, without delay!" (that's our expression) I was so proud and thankful to see some fruit of all the hours of prodding and helping him pick up toys.

A, I suppose because she is a girl, is communicating very well and likes affirmation. She usually makes a statement and then tacks on "right?" at the end. For example, she'll say, "Daddy at work, right?" It makes me laugh. Having a big brother to shadow helps her to pick things up quickly. She can tell you about the baby Jesus--a little--and sings "Deep and Wide." She is also so much more emotional--like her momma--and sometimes just needs a cuddle. She is also using "need" instead of "want." When we were at the grandparents for Christmas, they returned a Bible story book that we'd left there. She said, "I need a Bible story!"

I don't post many photos on here because this blog is public, but I do love my children and family so much! Some days are hard and some are easy, but they are all filled with points of grace and I'm so thankful for where God has placed me in His Kingdom.


What would you choose?

We had an amazing sermon yesterday morning and an equally amazing service of lessons and carols last night. If you think Presbyterians are dull and lacking in real joy, you should have been at FPC last night! I feel like being very quiet and still today and letting it all soak in. I'm still swimming in the wonder and the words, but I want them to saturate my being so I can enjoy them for a good long time.

I was thinking about the wondrous night of Christ's birth--things natural and supra-natural occuring. Woudn't it be neat to see and experience all the things that we read about in the Bible? To see the angels and run to the manger. To behold the star--but I think I'd want to experience all that with the knowledge I have now. Surely all those involved had an inkling of what was going on--hello, everyone involved at the stable had seen ANGELS and been spoken to personally by them! I guess that would give you an inkling and then some.

But then I was thinking about what we, as Christians living 2000 years benefit from. We have the gospel accounts of Christ's birth--from so many perspectives. We hold in our hands and have engraved in our hearts the prophecies. Then we are also on this side of the cross--we see the birth of Jesus unfold into his sinless life and death and resurrection on the cross. If that isn't amazing enough, we have the writings of the apostles who--inspired by the Holy Spirit--expound and explain the mysteries to us! Reading in II Corinthians that "God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might have the righteousness of God" surely gives me even more cause for delight and wonder as I ponder the Christmas story. Then there is Revelation which inspires such expectation and longing within for things to come!

Scripture alone is sufficient for why I am actually glad to celebrate Christ's birth in the here and now, but God has also gifted us (here and now) with the gift of 2000 years of saints meditating and writing about Christ's birth. We have access to writings and songs and poems that express what one person alone could not.

So, I suppose, here in 2009, as distracted as I am by the worldly trappings of Christmas, I am thankful to be here and not there. I am thankful to look backwards at that chapter of the Great Redemption Story and to rest in the knowledge that one day I will be present and participating in the grand finale--the return of our King! Even so, come Lord Jesus!

Which would you choose?


The Live Nativity Scene of Covington County

Some years ago, perhaps in the early nineties, a funny thing did occur in my hometown just before Christmas. Now much of it is lost in the telling, but I will relate to you as best I can how things came to pass.

Our county and particularly my town, the county seat, was a place filled with civic pride and possessed a busy and enterprising Chamber of Commerce. This particular year, my daddy was serving as the President of said Chamber and they cooked up a Christmas celebration of great magnitude--to be held on the courthouse square. Our county's courthouse is a beautiful old red brick building. It is bordered on three sides by grassy lawn, while the southern side possesses an unfortunate parking lot. Along the North lawn there is a beautiful evergreen--tall as any tree to grace Rockefeller center (in my mind) and bedecked with large colorful lights for Christmas. Highway Eighty Four runs along this northern side. It comes west from Prentiss and continues East through the downtown and onto Laurel.

This celebration of Christmas coincided with the 100th birthday of our country or city (I don't recollect which) and there was a great to-do happening all around. A cake was set up on the Eastern lawn, there was to be a parade featuring Santa himself, and on the North lawn--Oh, this was the greatest thing--there was to be a Live Nativity Scene. The good folks of Lone Star Baptist church were behind these grand efforts and all their resources were pooled to create a grand scene. There were to be sheep, donkeys, horses, longhorn steer, a black llama, goats--not to mention the requisite characters so vital for a Live Nativity Scene: Mary, Joseph, Shepherds, Wise Men and an Angel--and a large pickup truck.

Pens were set up around the evergreen on the northern lawn and while the county was celebrating it's own birthday on the east, the good deacons of Lone Star Baptist church--already in full nativity costume--were preparing to celebrate a far more important birthday. All of the animals, save the donkey, were secure in their pens, and one of the Wise Men was carefully backing up the cattle trailer which contained the donkey. Backing up with care was a good thing because the lawn was more than a bit muddy from recent rainfall. With just a few more feet to go, they were all shocked by the sudden appearance of a geyser just under the truck--the careful Wise Man had backed over a sprinkler head and knocked the top off releasing a stream of water high in the cold Christmas air.

I have no idea what was said by the Wise Man, but surely he was shocked and for a few seconds at least, he must have lost control of his senses. The pickup jerked quickly back, hitting the pens and knocking more than one over. The longhorn steer and the llama escaped and went running.

My understanding of this story is mostly second and third hand, but my Daddy, with tears in his eyes has more than once related his shock and amazement over what followed. He was on the Eastern Lawn, emceeing the County Birthday Celebration and just as he began to introduce a musical number by Miss Hospitality, he saw a stream of water, heard an engine rev and pens clatter. He looked and a longhorn steer came running from the Live Nativity Scene chased by a shepherd with a lasso. The Shepherd actually lassoed the steer and being no match for a steer, was drug off the lawn and down to highway 84. The shepherd let go, but the steer continued on an Eastward course toward Laurel. Immediately behind the cowboy Shepherd came the Three Wise Men in the pickup truck--in hot pursuit of the steer.

Meanwhile, my mother, sister and I--late as usual--were on our way to the courthouse. We were driving down a neighborhood street and saw several blocks down a Large Black Animal making haste through the town. Was it a dog? A horse? An ostrich? What was that Large Black Animal? We are good, conscientious citizens and hailed a passing patrol car. Of course we happened to pick the only patrol car in town that was delivering Santa to the parade. (We know it was the right Santa because he was riding in the front seat and not the rear).

"There is a Large Black Animal--it ran that way!" we said in what I'm sure was a less stagnant use of words. "Don't worry, M'am" said Santa as he grabbed the Patrolman's rifle, "we'll take care of it." Then they turned their blue lights on and took off after the Large Black Animal which we now know to be the the LLama.

There is no real conclusion to this story. The county ate cake and the parade went off beautifully. I doubt Lone Star Baptist Church ever volunteered to to a Real Live Nativity Scene again, and I don't know if they caught the steer or the Llama. Life's stories rarely give us concrete resolution and this is one of them. However, it has given us many a laugh over the years and I have not been to a Real Live Nativity Scene since.


caution: body parts discussion

So, Aubrey has started using the potty and Johnny is very interested in this. Johnny is basically interested in anything involving peeing, pooping and "weenies." I always had an inkling that we would deal with this topic, but never in such a day-to-day quantity. Here's an example.

Scene: Aubrey just pottied and I'm changing her diaper. Johnny walks up.

J: Aubrey pee-pee in her bootie.
Me: Well Aubrey's pee-pee comes out right here, yours comes out of your weenie.
J: (Confident and enouraging) One day Aubrey, you will have a weenie
Me: No, no, Johnny, Aubrey will never have a weenie. Aubrey is a girl. Girls don't have weenies.
J: (pauses and confidence returns) But all the campers have a weenie!

Johnny has this idea that having that particular type of genitalia is something you aspire to. "One day, when you grow up . . . " He encouraged me with the same sentiment the other day. And soon, I will have two boys. Oh, dear!


Pantry Challenge Parts V and VI

This is probably the last day since we're going to see family tomorrow and I know we're eating out for lunch on Monday. I've had a lot of fun and since there are so many other demands on our budget at this time of the year, I'll still limit the grocery buying and keep purging the pantry.


Polished off the last of the waffle batter with some syrup/butter and bananas. The kids were so excited to have bananas again!

Elevenses: Tuan came home and cooked up an egg concoction with some cheese and thawed out the last two pieces of bread he found in the freezer.

Lunch: Johnny ate Sunflower Nut Butter and Preserves on a corn tortilla. Aubrey and I ate leftover dumplings. They were even better then!

Supper: We totally caved. It was the right thing to do. The kids had tortillas with SNB and Preserves again (they were too ill for words and needed to go to bed). Tuan went and picked up dominos and sundry beverages, then surprised me with a small pint of ice cream. I love that man.

We all slept in--whoo, hoo! For this meal Johnny discovered the leftover Pizza and we all ate that. (Gotta keep it real, right?) They also enjoyed bananas with theirs.

Pre-nap Saturday Fun: I had the ingredients on hand for a Cranberry-Pecan tart and we had that with coffee and milk. I found this tart recipe in my November Better Homes and Gardens and must say it is a winner! I borrowed Emily's round tart pan and the full recipe made enough for the tart pan and a pie pan. This time only made half a recipe and I do recommend being a bit more generous with the cranberries and pecans than the recipe calls for. You can use regular sugar instead of the powdered and brown sugar the recipe calls for and I encourage you all to try it! The tart pastry was so much easier than pie pastry. I've never cared for Pecan pie, but the cranberries are a magical ingredient that cuts some of the richness. Great with Whipped cream!


Pantry Challenge Part IV

We made it through another day! I went to the grocery for shindig supplies and got some juice, milk, bananas, carrots and cheese, but everything else is still coming from the pantry/freezer. Cheese opens up a world of possibilities, I must say.

Breakfast: Homemade Waffles with honey and butter. We felt very festive this morning! Tuan was off to a holiday party without us, so I thought that living well was the best revenge!

Lunch: Lack of bread, solved. PBJ on leftover waffles for the kids and I will not divulge what I ate except to say that I am pregnant and it was there and most of it was nourishing. : )

Supper: Chicken and dumplings! Oh, my. We had a frozen bird. This is one of our favorite foods. The kids had theirs on the side with hoisin sauce for dipping.

I'm going to continue the challenge through the weekend.


Pantry Challenge Part III

So, we made it through today! I have to buy some groceries Thursday or Friday night because we've got a shindig on Monday and I need to cook, but I think I'm going to keep challenging myself with our meals.

Leftover Red Beans and Rice. This would have been supper last night, but things worked out otherwise.

Salmon Croquettes made with a can of salmon, onion, eggs, and saltines. Instant mashed potatoes I'd bought on a pregnancy whim also came in handy!

Whole wheat rotini, canned four-cheese spaghetti sauce, onion, leftover frozen turkey, some bell peppers I'd frozen and a the remnants of some parmesan I had in the fridge. Doesn't it sound so romantic to talk about remnants of parmesan? I also had some cream leftover from Thanksgiving baking that we added to the sauce--it definitely elevated the sauce from pedestrian to yummy! I'll try that trick again!

We ran out of juice today and I really wish we had more produce. That's probably where I'll cave in when I go to the grocery. Nevertheless we're still going strong especially with meat. I have a whole frozen chicken, so I'm thinking some chicken and dumplings for the weekend!


pantry challenge, part II

So, today was a bit of a bust. The electricity went out camp-wide around four-thirty and Tuan ended up taking the kids out to eat with the Vincents while I attended the WIC Christmas party at church.

Breakfast: Oatmeal with butter and honey

Lunch: Leftover red beans and rice

Tomorrow is another day and we're not leaving the house, Lord-willing, so I expect to have a true update.

Ps. A tree fell on our power line. The camp's electrical bill is actually paid up.


Pantry Challenge, Part I

I thought as we went through the week, I would share daily rather than in a chunk. I feel as though we've got it too easy, although not having any cheese or sour cream or things like that available is a challenge for me!

Sunday Lunch
Tuan kept the kids at home while I went to church. He pulled lunch together for us:

Leftover Thanksgiving dressing I'd thrown into the freezer, warmed up with some frozen Turkey leftovers
baked sweet potatoes with butter and spices ( I was so glad to get these potatoes cooked--they'd been giving me the evil eye for some time)
homemade cranberry relish left over thanksgiving

Sunday Supper: we ate at church, a cheat

Monday Breakfast
This was weird. I woke up early and drank some sweet tea and was too hungry to wait, so I ate some dried Mama Noodles. Yes, very weird. They are like Ramen, but a tastier Vietnamese version. Tuan bought a case a few weeks ago, so if we get really desperate there is a stash of Mama Noodles.
Tuan had cooked Mama Noodles and the kids ate oatmeal with honey and cream and we drank coffee.

Monday Lunch
This was a cultural fusion meal. We had some frozen Vietnamese Eggrolls that Tuan fried along with some home fried corn tortilla chips, Vietnamese dipping sauce, hummus (from my last can of chickpeas) and some homemade yogurt cheese, topped with mint and olive oil. So . . . Mexican, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern. I can handle that.

Monday Supper
We haven't eaten it yet, but tonight we are eating Red Beans and Rice made with some dried beans, half a thing of sausage in the freezer, some tired celery (very tired), onions and garlic and some bellpepper I froze this summer. We have a motley assortment of rices so it could be Jasmine, Basmati or Brown depending on the quantity.

Like I said earlier, cheese and sour cream, and fresh produce would be nice, but we'll survive a few more days on this. The fridge is pretty empty, but the freezer and pantry are holding out . . . .


retail therapy recovery

So . . . Tuan went to Colorado for a conference last week and I spent the time of separation traveling around visiting family and engaging in retail therapy--aka Christmas shopping. Well, the traveling, shopping, gas buying and eating out drastically depleted the budget. But oh, the fun we had!

Nevertheless, I am compensating by not grocery shopping until Payday--that's Friday. Milk and eggs are the only allowable purchases, because the kiddos need milk and eggs seem to open up so many more possibilities. Can we make it? Will the pantry and freezer stretch that far? I have to say that I'm up for this pantry challenge, but will definitely be fighting the urge to eat out come Thursday. I'll have to share what we pulled out of the box--if we're successful. If not, this blog post may quietly disappear.


Amateur Science

Did you know that Alton Brown's Good Eats episodes are on You Tube? It's one of our go-to entertainment resources in a TV free household. (We're not convicted or anything, just never got a converter box.)

Anyway, Alton and the Joy of Cooking are kind of the ultimate authorities on Cooking (ha--On Cooking is a culinary school textbook). But seriously, folks, no more parenthesis. I think I use them like Emily of New Moon used italics.

Did I digress? I think so. Last night, we pulled up YouTube and settled in for an episode on--making your own bacon! He made it look so do-able and made a year's worth in one batch. We are inspired and spent some time looking at instructions for building a cold smoker. With a butcher nearby and the fun of jerry-rigging a cold smoker, I think we are going to be making and perhaps even giving some homemade bacon soon!

One thing that appealed to me is that Alton used a nitrite-free recipe. I've been hearing a little bit about how bacon and, yes, lard, can be good for you, but there are concerns about the use of sodium nitrite, aka "pink salt". Thank you so much, Sally Fallon.

I googled sodium nitrite and found that one of it's uses is is to prevent botulism in pork products. That's noble, I mean, who wants botulism? (except in our lips, right? Dang, a parenthesis) The problem seems to be that when it is heated carcinogens can be produced. Then, I read something about ascorbic acid being added to counteract the carcinogens with it's antioxidant powers. So, use the nitrite to prevent botulism but you might get cancer later . . . that's what sounds like a "short-term gain, long term loss" to me.

Anyway, I'm not a scientist and there's an article on Wikipedia if you want more information.

Michael Scott:
"Wikipedia is the best thing ever. Anyone in the world can write anything they want about any subject, so you know you are getting the best possible information."


the real Thanksgiving around here

So many folks thought I had written the previous post . . . seriously? Is my inner domestic tyrant really that obvious to others? I actually do host Thanksgiving, but I'd like to think I'm nicer and more diplomatic!

Our first year of marriage, we at three Thanksgiving dinners--in one day! After that, I decided that we were going to host Thanksgiving and invite both of our families. It's worked out really well and we've done it for five years going on six since. Our first year was in our Mount Olive house way out in the country. We ate outside amongst the leaves on long table cobbled together from other tables and scattered with gourds, pumpkins and leaves. That was one of my most favorite Thanksgivings, ever!

Now, we all celebrate out here. Folks trickle in on Wednesday night and we share supper, breakfast and Thanksgiving dinner. As much time as possible is spent around the fire or out fishing. On Thursday morning, the guys gather 'round the deep fryer and cook a couple of turkeys and whatever else is thrown in the oil. It's fun. It is by no means a Martha Stewart kind of affair, but we have a good time.

I was telling a friend about this and she asked if everyone got along. It never occurred to me that we wouldn't! Growing up, I was blessed with such a good example of how families should be. Both of my parents got along just fine with their in-laws and we spent lots of time with both sides and often they merged on Christmas Eve or whatnot. Tuan and I have been extremely blessed to have good relationships with each other's parents. I love my in-laws as much as my own family, as does Tuan.

In retrospect, it is funny that we host this gathering, but as it has fallen over the years, this has been a practical solution. This year, my paternal grandmother, a paternal cousin, my parents, brother, sister's family, mother's sister and husband, mother's brother and Tuan's parents are all coming. I'm so excited!

Hope your Thanksgiving is lovely and fun!


How to be a (not) Good Hostess

As you all know a fabulous Thanksgiving Dinner does not make itself. I need to ask each of you to help by bringing something to complete the meal. I truly appreciate your offers to assist with the meal preparation.

Now, while I do have quite a sense of humor and joke around all the time, I COULD NOT BE MORE SERIOUS when I am providing you with your Thanksgiving instructions and orders. I am very particular, so please perform your task EXACTLY as I have requested and read your portion very carefully. If I ask you to bring your offering in a container that has a lid, bring your offering in a container WITH A LID, NOT ALUMINUM FOIL! If I ask you to bring a serving spoon for your dish, BRING A SERVING SPOON, NOT A SOUP SPOON! And please do not forget anything.

All food that is to be cooked should already be prepared, bring it hot and ready to serve, warm or room temp. These are your ONLY THREE options. Anything meant to be served cold should, of course, already be cold.

HJB—Dinner wine

The Mike Byron Family
1. Turnips in a casserole with a lid and a serving spoon. Please do not fill the casserole all the way up to the top, it gets too messy. I know this may come as a bit of a surprise to you, but most of us hate turnips so don’t feel like you a have to feed an army.
2. Two half gallons of ice cream, one must be VANILLA, I don’t care what the other one is. No store brands please. I did see an ad this morning for Hagan Daz Peppermint Bark Ice Cream, yum!! (no pressure here, though).
3. Toppings for the ice cream.
4. A case of bottled water, NOT gallons, any brand is ok.

The Bob Byron Family
1. Green beans or asparagus (not both) in a casserole with a lid and a serving spoon. If you are making the green beans, please prepare FOUR pounds, if you are making asparagus please prepare FIVE pounds. It is up to you how you wish to prepare them, no soupy sauces, no cheese (you know how Mike is), a light sprinkling of toasted nuts, or pancetta, or some EVOO would be a nice way to jazz them up.
2. A case of beer of your choice (I have Coors Light and Corona) or a bottle of clos du bois chardonnay (you will have to let me know which you will bring prior to 11/22).

The Lisa Byron Chesterford Family
1. Lisa as a married woman you are now required to contribute at the adult level. You can bring an hors d’ouvres. A few helpful hints/suggestions. Keep it very light, and non-filling, NO COCKTAIL SAUCE, no beans of any kind. I think your best bet would be a platter of fresh veggies and dip. Not a huge platter mind you (i.e., not the plastic platter from the supermarket).

The Michelle Bobble Family
1. Stuffing in a casserole with a serving spoon. Please make the stuffing sans meat.
2. 2.5-3 qts. of mashed squash in a casserole with a lid and serving spoon
3. Proscuitto pin wheel – please stick to the recipe, no need to bring a plate.
4. A pie knife

The June Davis Family
1. 15 LBS of mashed potatoes in a casserole with a serving spoon. Please do not use the over-size blue serving dish you used last year. Because you are making such a large batch you can do one of two things: put half the mash in a regulation size casserole with lid and put the other half in a plastic container and we can just replenish with that or use two regulation size casserole dishes with lids. Only one serving spoon is needed.
2. A bottle of clos du bois chardonnay

The Amy Misto Family (why do I even bother she will never read this)
1. A pumpkin pie in a pie dish (please use my silver palate recipe) no knife needed.
2. An apple pie in a pie dish, you can use your own recipe, no knife needed.

Looking forward to the 28th!!


from awkwardfamilyphotos.com


On the Agenda

I have random things on my mind, so I'm going to share them with the world. After, I'll probably read a blog post by one of those great reformed pastors with PhDs who talk about how blogging is a waste of time unless you have something meaningful to say and you shouldn't even have comment bars or something and how Facebook creates false community and instead you should REALLY be sitting in a coffee house on a plaza, building relationships or something like that. I might feel guilty then, but right now I am very content to be on my couch, while the kids have quiet time, checking Facebook, and blogging instead of driving twenty-five miles into Jackson so I can sit in a coffee house and build relationships while I sip expensive coffee and my children run wild. There. I could stop there.

But I won't.

On pregnancy. The third time around is so different than the first and second. With the previous children, I would have these crazy mood swings where I would cry like a maniac, get so angry I would scream and in general deal with crazy impulses (e.g., "I hate these TV trays. They are in the way. Throwing them out the window would be a great solution.") Then, I was totally unaware of the irrationality of those times. I felt perfectly rational and justified in these hormonal urges.

This time around, I am more cognizant of my irrationality. It's kind of like at the end of A Beautiful Mind where Russell Crowe's character still can see the visions but he knows they aren't real. The worst one so far involved me, anger and a Baptist preacher and I didn't care one bit if I had ruined my witness towards him. ("He's a Christian," I thought, "I don't need to witness to him.") I suppose I should have clarified--mostly under control. Out have gone the pregnancy books (not one peek). I suppose I'm too busy with other things these days.

The biggest difference with this pregnancy compared to the others is the lack of sugar cravings. I've been absolutely unconcerned with sweets. It took three days to eat a milk shake Tuan brought home for me and I never finished it. We've had a small pint of Hagen Daz in the fridge for weeks scarcely touched. While I've not turned them down, what I've really wanted are savory things: cheese, Tacos from Taco Bell, cheese on saltines, grilled cheese, cheeze-its, pimiento cheese, bacon, and meditteranean and asian food.

I didn't grocery shop last week because I wanted to use up what we had. We got pretty close to the bottom of the barrel. The saved money went towards Mistletoe and it left us on Sunday night staring at the pantry, longing for something to eat. I wanted Vietnamese food so badly that had it not been Sunday night at 10:00, I would have sent Tuan for Saigon. Instead, I read our Vietnamese cookbook. I read it Sunday night and Monday morning and after that it was all downhill. I made my meal-plan for the week (all Vietnamese!) and last night we went to the Asian Market on Spillway and to to the I-55 Kroger for all the Ingredients we needed. I'm really looking forward to this week's food. For lunch we had a cabbage salad with pork and veggies with the most "remarkable" (quote, Tuan, a compliment) lime dressing. Kind of a Vietnamese coleslaw. Tonight we are making Banh Xeo--rice flour crepes filled with pork, mushrooms, onions, green onions, then wrapped with mustard greens and dipped into Nuoc Mam--Heaven!

There are five + more dishes to go after that. And, they are all mostly nourishing! Whoo--hoo.

I could blog on and on, but I will end with this: Hello Stalkers Who Don't Comment. I know you're out there--mainly 'cause you tell me you are. That's okay. I stalk blogs, too.

I think it's time for some cheese.


An All-Time Great Bargain Story

This is a slightly newer version of our double stroller and I wanted to share with you all the kind of cool story about how we purchased it.

Aubrey was due January 22nd of 2008. We had all the necessary gear gathered in early January before her birth except for a double stroller. We'd been sort of extra-jubilant and generous that Christmas and money was very, very tight. I'd had this particular Combi stroller picked out for sometime and at a retail price of 200.00 it was a bit beyond our budget. 100.00 beyond to be precise!

For Christmas that year, my mom and grandmother had given us stroller money totaling 100.00. That was absolutely all I had to spend. One January afternoon, I loaded Johnny into the car and we headed down to Magee to Hudson's. All the Hudson's had been carrying a stock of Amazon returns and I thought we might find one there. I even prayed about it on the way down. Johnny and I dug through boxes in the rear of the store and no Combi was to be found. However, I did stumble across this huge box that said, Joovy Twin or something like that. It was a double stroller that retailed for 400.00 and the stock was 75% off. Do the math. It was exactly what I had to spend!

Despite the fact that no one in the store helped me, I drug this huge box and pushed a buggy with Johnny in it to the front of the store (at 36/37 weeks, to be exact). A nice man helped me load it and I drove home with my compromise stroller.

This stroller, however, was no compromise. It was luxe. There were raincovers and sno-bibs and gadgets and gizmos galore--plus it drove like a dream! I wanted to keep it, but there just wasn't enough room in our car and our carseat wasn't compatible. The Combi was still the way to go, so we listed the stroller on ebay, sold it seven days later for 360.00 and after paying the shipping made enough to cover the cost of the stroller and fabric for the nursery!

It was such a cool thing the way that worked out. We were so grateful for the unique way God provided the stroller we needed and then some! He is so, so personal in his provision for us.


epiphany for a dummy

Oh, I almost didn't share this . . . .  

Since the kids are still sharing a room, we're planning to use the third bedroom as a guestroom. It will be decorated in a very girly way and will one day be A's room. While we are waiting for a double bed mattress to magically appear or go on a deep sale, it's a catch-all room for  sewing supplies, linens and I know not what. Sometime ago, I had this brilliant idea to set up J's train tracks on the floor of the closet. That way he could spend some nap-times playing with trains and we could leave it out. Since we've moved, that's the way it's been.

However, as we've been working through the bric-a-brac, I had reached the point where things just needed to be stored and stacked until a mattress magically appears. This afternoon, I was moving things around, stuffing boxes under tables and throwing shower curtains over said tables to conceal the junk. It looked ridiculous. I opened the closet to put something on a shelf and just about smacked myself in the head. "Stupid Hobbit! Why am I not using the closet for all these boxes, crates and pack-n-plays?" 

Out went the train tracks and in went the stuff. The room is much cleaner now and a set of tracks on the floor make far more sense than a jumble of other stuff. I was mentally kicking myself the whole time for not thinking of it sooner and am so embarrassed to even admit it took so long. But it was such a good lesson for me to not get stuck merely because there is a brick wall in my path. 

If there's a metaphorical brick wall in your path, take a moment to see if you can walk around it, climb over it, knock it down, or, gulp, move it. : ) This was so cheesy. I am sorry, but I'm not going to delete this after having written it. So, there.


Moving . . . "aarrugghhem"

I once took a seminar at Summer Conference that Bebo Elkin taught. It was titled "Heros of the Faith" or something like that. Anytime he would mention a "hero" he'd follow the name with a low guttural groan/mutter.  "Jonathan Edwards . . . ." he would say and then you'd hear that "aarugghem." I suppose the meaning was that these are intimidating people. I think I'd follow thoughts of Elisabeth Elliot and Nancy Wilson with that sound!
While I've held onto the true purpose of the seminar, I've also kept that sound effect, too and frequently add it onto my thoughts. Moving deserves an "aarugghem," I think.

We are settling and then unsettling and then settling some more. Having this much space is just marvelous! This is the largest house we've lived in since we got married and while we were content in the Lake House (but for storage), and possibly even dreaded leaving our little home, I have to say that the first or second night here we sat down in the living room and felt this great sigh of peace come over. Comfort and space! What richness! 

There are still things to get used to, but I truly only miss one thing about the old house: windows and light! That aside, I do want to share what I am loving and giving thanks for with the new house.

1. The Attic and Storage Room. We've never had either and it is just amazing. In the old house everything was stored under our bed and in our closet and a closet at Warner and Becky's.  It is a marvelous, marvelous thing to have tools in the storage room and not in the bedroom!

2. Our dishwasher. TL replaced the old one and I was skeptical of this particular model at first, but now that I've learned how to load it--I LOVE IT! It cleans so well, although it is so loud, I'm sure our neighbors wonder what we're doing over here.

3. An updated faucet. The faucet is the accessory of the kitchen and we have a lovely, new one!

4. A deep sink! The Lake House sink was so shallow you could put a fork in it and it was overflowing . . . . Okay, that's not wholly true. It was shallow, however, and this one is delightfully deep. I just want to give a shout out to the fellow who damaged the old sink while trying to remove the faucet--we love our new sink. Thank you so much.

5. Closets and bedrooms and bathrooms, Oh my!

6. A laundry closet that is solely a laundry closet!

7. A covered carport. Unloading groceries is easier as is cleaning out the car and keeping things out of the elements.

8. Neighbors! It's nice knowing someone is next door and having folks to talk to and kids for our kids to play with.

9. We now live in the country. There are woods behind our house and we have a place for a fire. I only thought we lived in the country before. 

10. Our own mailbox. Just 'cause I love to check the mail. 

I think I could go on and on. I love the little Lake House and am so glad that Zack and Kristen are moving into it. I hope their time in it is as wonderful as ours was. But for now, as I get overwhelmed at the things on the "to-do" list and the boxes that keep appearing, I will count my blessings. And, soon, there will be pictures!


only time for a short post

My heart is grateful. All of our appliances are installed and working. The view outside our bedroom window makes me feel like I live in a tree house and the house is falling into order. After the initial flurry of furniture placement and bed-making, I'm working room by room from our closet out--I feel like it's a spiral. An upward spiral. Life is good.

When this poor, lisping, stammering heart
lies silent in the grave
Then in a nobler, sweeter song
I'll sing Thy power to save!


Leg Quarters and What to do with Them

My dad comes from a family of four. By the time I was twelve, all his siblings were married and most had kids. Nearly every weekend most of us gathered at my grandparents house for Sunday "dinner" or Saturday supper. While Sunday was a true dinner of epic southern proportions prepared by a perspiring, busy grandmother and aunts, Saturday nights were the domain of my grandfather (okay, mostly). Many Saturdays, he and my uncles would spend the day fishing and we'd fry quantities of fish that would feed us all with leftovers for the less fortunate in the community. On non-fishing weekends, the meal was almost always grilled leg quarters, baked beans and an assortment of sides. Cold or warm weather, Papaw would stand over the grill, sopping the leg quarters with sauce and visiting with the family who were gathered on the patio. The smell of cheap beer, sprite and bourbon and charcoal take me back there in a heartbeat. 

My grandparents were some of the most hospitable and generous people I know.  My grandmother is still living and I see that quality in her today as well as in my parents. Often, my mom's family would even join the party--how many families can mix in-laws like that, I wonder? 

My grandfather left us many memories that still cause me to chuckle. Once, he was grilling and it was very cold. He started talking about the great head-warmer he'd found in the house. It was my aunt's tube top (hello, eighties). 

So, it is from this legacy, that I share the leg quarter love with you all. I see now that the reason we ate leg quarters all the time was that it was probably the only economical choice for my dad and his brothers--all three had and still have healthy appetites. One of the first times my aunt brought her future husband over, they cooked leg quarters and the family chowed down, as usual. When the meal was done, she leaned back and commented, "I did pretty well tonight, I only ate two pieces of chicken."  "Nancy," he replied, "you really ate four." Now he is in the poultry business and knows his chicken, so although he was absolutely correct and yet perhaps out of line for a first date, she married him anyway. 

Back to the actual cooking. Perhaps you've taken my advice and thunked that huge plastic bag of chicken quarters into your buggy, taken it home  and placed it in the sink. "What have I gotten into?" You may be asking yourself, "It's so yucky and so much skin--gross--and how do I cook it?" No fear. I will not abandon you to poultry paradox. (I'm sure that doesn't make sense, but it was fun to write)

We'll start with a grilling and crockpot marinade. Do this several hours ahead of time.

Assemble your tools:
Grab a good sharp knife or scissors (kitchen or plain), some gallon zipper bags (to store/marinate) and a casserole dish  We usually go ahead and put some soap on the sink so we can clean our hands quickly thereafter. Leave the implements and chicken by the sink while you make the marinade.

The Marinade:
In a food processor, by hand, or in a mini-chopper, mince/puree together: 1 clove of garlic per chicken piece, salt, pepper and sugar (in order of greatest to least). Tuan does this, so I am going to say that the seasonings should be "to taste".  You should not be afraid of the salt and pepper and use less sugar than salt (my husband will never write a cookbook). He says that you want to end up with app. 1 Tbsp of marinade per piece.  This will smell strong--no fear.

Prep and Marinate:
Open up the bag, drain the juice and trim the excess fat/skin off of the chicken piece. Do not remove all the skin! You want to leave the skin that covers the meat, but there is some excess on the sides that should be cut. The skin has some good things in it and does some good things for the chicken. Scissors are great for this. Rub a little marinade all over the front and back of the piece and plop it into your casserole dish. Repeat, repeat, repeat. 

At this point, the smell will be garlicky. If you are pregnant, you may want to delegate this to your spouse. : ) You can put the chicken straight into the fridge or into plastic bags and then into the fridge (we highly recommend this--it contains the odor). Into the fridge go the pieces you plan to cook that day or the next. Into the freezer go the future pieces.

Confession: I've grilled twice in my life. Twice in one week and it was chicken and hot dogs for several hundred each time. So, I am passing this on hearsay as a woman who has not been liberated from the kitchen to the grill and I am okay with that. 

This is what I've pried from Tuan's deep mind. Get your grill hot, but not flaming. Put the leg quarters on and cook them with the lid alternately on and off. You want the grill to stay hot and smoky, and not go out, nor flame up and burn the chicken. This is not one of those quick and speedy things--but, oh, the rewards! At least forty-five minutes on the grill. Move 'em around, flip 'em, just keep opening and closing that lid. 

To check for doneness, examine the joint--no blood, or rawness and check the thick part of a thigh. The meat will be pink-ish even after it's done, but not raw. I guess you could use a thermometer--ha! But that would be too easy. 

The tenderness and yumminess of this chicken is unbelievable. It's a great company meal. The guys can fellowship around the grill while you and your friends watch them work. : ) 

Sunday Chicken in the Crock-Pot:
We made this last weekend and nearly cried when we finished it on Sunday night. It was so good.  Saturday evening around five: Remove a bag of marinated, frozen leg quarters from the freezer and place them in the crockpot. Start off on high heat to get them going. Around two hours later, turn it to low and leave it overnight. Sometime Sunday morning (it was 7:30 for me), add as many cut up potatoes (finger size) as you like, sprinkle with salt, then as many carrots, cut the same length as the potatoes as you can cram on top, with a bit more salt. Pull up one of the pieces and lay it on top, then add just a bit of water to the pot. Leave it, go to worship and come home at lunch to bliss. 

A Cleaner Alternative: 
Some folks don't like dealing with chicken bits in their Sunday dinner. Here is my suggestion: On Sunday morning, pull the chicken from the pot and throw the veggies in. Quickly remove the skin, and if your are feeling especially particular,pull the meat off the bone and throw it back in on top of the veggies. I usually use some tongs and a fork. It leaves less to deal with at lunch and makes it more company friendly.


Q and A

A friend (do you want to remain nameless?) asked for some money-saving tips for feeding a family.

I am so flattered by this, but first must admit that while I am usually frugal with grocery shopping, I make many mistakes and do over-spend. We also eat out too much. Living at a place where others get away to, means that we end up getting-away to Jackson and restaurants, or end up on the road during meal times, thus spending too much money on eating out.

But back to groceries and money-saving tips. These are going to be random and all over the place.

1. Prioritize what's important for your family.  What do you really want to put on your table? Organic milk for the kids and meat for Tuan--that's our thing. We eat meat at nearly every meal. I'm trying to incorporate more and more produce into our meals as well, so that's where our spending priorities are. 

2. Make your own baby-food and look for alternatives to expensive baby foods when you can't make things.

a. unsweetened plain applesauce in a big jar stretches much further than individual servings of applesauce. 

b.For convenience, fruit and vegetable cups from the veggie aisle (GV brand) cost far less than buying the baby food versions.  Do read ingredients though and make sure the peaches aren't floating in sugar or splenda, for example! 

c. I made my own baby cereal. Rolled oats thrown in the clean coffee grinder worked just as well as baby cereal and I only had to buy a box of oatmeal for us and the kids, plus a giant box of oats cost less than a box of baby cereal. 

d. Frozen/fresh vegetables steamed and processed in the food processor, plain yogurt instead of  "'Yo baby"

3. Buy bread at a bakery outlet. At the Sara Lee outlet in Richland, I can get loaves of the multigrain, expensive bread for more than half off. I once got three loaves of the expensive stuff and two packages of English muffins for around five dollars. Keep it in the freezer until you need it.

4. I keep a mental price book in my head of how much things usually cost. Some folks do this in a notebook that they take grocery shopping. I usually shop at kroger and spend less money, but there are a handful of things that are cheaper at Wal-mart and I go there for them. This also helps you know if a sale is really a sale!

5. Don't assume Wal-mart is cheaper. It isn't always!

6. Kroger.com has weekly ads online. When I make time for this, it helps me plan ahead, especially with meat purchases. I also try to hit Kroger in the morning, when the produce is being marked down and/or on Thursday when a lot of things are being marked down. I let the produce mark-downs influence the menu, too.

7. Whenever I'm at a store, I check the clearance area and day-old breads, as well as the fancy cheese/butter area. If something is marked down that we will use, even if not immediately, I'll go ahead and get it. Or, if a high-quality item is marked down to the equivalent of the usual thing I buy, I will stock up. For example, this summer I was at Kroger and organic butter was marked half-off. I bought around eight pounds of it and kept them in the freezer. It cost the same as regular butter, but tasted so much better. That's also where I often find more "indulgent" things, like olives or capers. I bought four two gallon jugs of organic applejuice that was marked down, for example. 

8. Don't be afraid to stock up and freeze stuff. This also means leaving room in the budget for these kinds of purchases. They will pay off in the long run.

9. Shop by unit price rather than package price. For example, Kroger has Boston butt pork roast on sale for .97. It probably won't come in a two pound package, but spending ten dollars on a pork roast that I can divide and freeze pays off later. 

10. I don't usually bother with coupons unless it's something I would have bought anyway. The ones I find are usually for processed food and I come back with all sorts of snack foods I wouldn't have bought otherwise. 

11. Shop the perimeter (dairy, meat, produce) and only duck into the inner aisles for specific things. 

12. Unless the taste is discernable, store brands rock! GV mustard, however is gross.

13. Mix high and low foods to balance things out. One of our meals may involve avocados (I wish every meal did!), but another meal may be egg salad, bread and fruit.

14. Plan menus strategically. For example, if you want to make a snazzy carrot salad, be sure to include carrots on that week's menu again so that you use up the package and don't end up with the same carrots limping around in your fridge two weeks later. Likewise, triage your produce so that the most perishable things get eaten first. (strawberries, bananas, grapes, apples)

15. Buy beans dry, boil a big batch up and freeze what you don't need for later. It is much cheaper to buy dry beans. 

16. Salvage stores. These are great fun and I used to shop at one once a week when we lived in Mt. Olive. If you don't live near one, go in with the intention of buying a lot. This situation is where the mental/written price book comes in. Refried beans and chickpeas for twenty-five cents a can? Absolutely! Canned veggies for .75? nah, not worth it.  I buy only canned, jarred and wrapped things at salvage stores and get some good deals and fun things to try.  This summer, I was at one and found canned salmon for 1.25. I knew that at the grocery it went for around 2.29 a can--that was a substantial savings! I picked up around ten or so cans that day.

17. Cook from scratch when it's worth it. 

18. Go to Sam's with a friend who has a card and shop with a discerning eye. We save so much money buying tea in bulk once or twice a year. The same with a few other things. 

19. Know that some things are worth spending money on. Many processed foods are cheap, but not nutritious. 

I hope this answered your question without seeming super didactic. I drank coffee around eight and am up at 1:30 writing this all out! I'd like to share some menus and recipes with you, but probably should not at this hour, so I'll do that later.! If you have more questions, please ask again!


grocery spending and chicken values

Monday, I took the kids to Kroger armed with a menu plan. When I got into the produce section and found markdowns on all sorts of veggies (including ones I only dream of buying, like orange and yellow bellpeppers), my menu changed a bit. The total bill at checkout was 93.00. ugh. I don't like those high numbers. I began to wonder if it really cost that much to feed our family for a week. 

Some purchases stock the pantry and last more than a week. Others take out a chunk of the budget. Two gallons of organic milk sucked up 11.00. We can't afford many organic things, but we prioritize on organic, whole milk. So that left 82.00.  Coffee and juice and some ground beef for next week reduced the price once more to 66.00 on food. 

This has been in my obssessed pregnant brain all week: how much do our meals cost? I ran the numbers for each meal and because of the produce deals, they were all high fruit, high veggie, ample dairy, low-to-no grain meals.  Over 7 meals this week (including a DiGiorno cop-out) our average cost per meal was 4.84, for a total of 29.57. 

I am ashamed to say we can spend that much on one meal at El Cabrito or Aladdin. There's an intangible benefit to eating out for us (it's our get-away from camp/home), but since Tuan ordered our dining room chairs today, I've felt especially the need to cut back on that and save some money. It's encouraging that we can eat healthy meals for so little. 

Hope this isn't too much information. I love knowing how people save money and what they spend on food. Also, a friend asked us if we really saved money on not eating out. I felt like we did, but wanted some evidence. He felt like shopping for a recipe cost so much money that it was discouraging to shop and why not eat out if a grocery trip costs as much as a meal out?

Keeping a stocked pantry, and having things like spices and oils and vinegars on hand keep individual trips from adding up. Shopping with a menu and entering the store with a flexible attitude seem to help. If I plan a menu full of chicken and carrots, but find beef, broccoli and peppers on sale or markdown, our menu is going to deviate. 

Also, here is a super frugal way to buy chicken--leg quarters. They were .49 a pound and rarely go above .79. They come in five pound-ish bags. A leg quarter is a drum-stick with the thigh attached. You can boil 'em, mash 'em, put 'em in a stew . .  . just kidding about that. However, they cook beautifully in the crockpot, bake wonderfully, stew and make broth and cooked slowly on the grill can't be beat. They're also a great way to feed meat to a crowd. Chicken breasts are expensive and in my opinion they don't taste as good. (Alton Brown wonders why you would even bother with that part of the bird, so I feel a bit validated). So anyway, buy a bag sometime, divide it up and know that when the thigh and leg are attached you can eat two pieces of chicken, but only claim to have eaten one!


Full fridge, an overflowing cup and full plate

I'm so grateful for our life. It definitely has its seasons of busyness and calm. These days the calm seasons seem shorter and fewer, though. (climate change?) In so many ways our cup of blessings is overflowing. Children, home, life, marriage, camp, church--we are so grateful for where God has placed us. 

But right now life is crazy. We are entertaining folks for the next two days, cooking a southern country dinner and a greek meal,  trying to keep the house presentable, going to PT three times a week, Bible Study this am, moving sometime in the next weeks, Tuan's folks are getting married this weekend and every one of us are in the wedding. I feel like Prince Humperdinck--"I'm swamped". Come Monday, much of the craziness will end, but the mess will still be there! Could someone just take my kids on Monday while I sleep? 
[crickets chirping] Didn't think so. : )

At the same time, my fridge is stuffed, bursting. We've cooked a lot lately and have awkward leftovers.  I need to clean it out and we need to eat some things. A full fridge makes me feel like an industrious woman who has planned ahead and at the same time a procratinating over pre-parer of food who didn't quite co-ordinate right.


Bargain Source!

Here is a great new blog that covers Jackson area bargains! The Jackson Frugalista seems like a good place to stop by and visit. I only wish I had more time to bargain shop. Two children in carseats is seriously hindering my "saving". 


More than a Compromise

After a little haggling and looking at manifold tables from pedestal rounds (me), to exotic hardwood slabs (Tuan), we have both decided we like this table! It's from Ballard Designs, but I think Tuan will make it out of hardwood rather than buying it in pine. The pine (according to reviews) is a bit soft and marks up easily.

I really, really love the legs, and how it seats ten. Now I'm not saying I plan to have eight children around the table, but I want to have company to dinner without folks squeezed into awkward corners! I also think the chairs we chose below will go well with it! 

Whoo-hoo! Now we only have to get Tuan well so he can stand up and get to work. : ) 



There is something I feel strongly about, but all around me, people who I know and love are in the opposite pole. Since the opposite pole is more vocal, I have as of late felt just overwhelmed about this issue and desperately want to defend myself and my often-misunderstood position. I don't doubt what I believe at all, because I have seen the results and know that they are good results and truly feel that what I'm standing behind is biblical. 

The reality is that it probably would not be helpful or useful for others or myself for me to argue this right now.  I just need to keep my mouth shut and press on--for right now. Later there will be a time for self-defense and hopefully my heart will be in a humbler, more right place.

Can this be any more abstract? I guess Sonny could have written it! (Love you, Sonny) It does feel good to say this much. 


Nourishing Delight--Bluths watch out.

I love ice cream, especially ice cream with additions like chocolate, nuts, swirls and candy. After reading Nourishing Traditions and The Sugar Blues, however, storebought ice cream and all it's sugar and additives kind of lost its luster.

I can certainly make homemade ice cream, but that involves so much work and expensive ingredients, so I was rather intrigued by this one ingredient ice cream post on Apartment Therapy's the Kitchn. It's basically frozen bananas processed in the food processor and they take on the consistency of soft serve! The reviews on the site were really positive and I wanted to try it out, but I wasn't so sure if plain ice cream without "chunks" would cut it.

I needed a topping/"mixin'" that would complement the ice cream and not wreck all the nutritional benefits of this wonder recipe. The Nourishing Gourmet's Easy, Healthy Guilt-Free Fudge came to mind. It would provide a kick of chocolate and melt in your mouth rather than gunking up the teeth with waxy chocolate bits.

I made the fudge and added some peanuts into it to stretch the recipe. Then in the same Cuisinart bowl, I made the ice cream. Folks, it was amazing! As the bananas processed they took on this creamy, frozen soft-serve texture that was astonishing. What was interesting was that you cannot over-process the bananas, like other foods. We popped the fudge and "ice cream" into the freezer until after supper and enjoyed our nourishing and fabulous treats.

Folks, you gotta try this! I added some vanilla and a little cream to the "ice cream" to help my bananas break up and to modify the banana flavor. The bananas are nothing but good for you and the fudge chunks were healthy and free of additives, white sugar and artificial sweeteners. Tuan's comments were, "dang" and "this fudge is exceptional." The kids just ate it up. Aubrey used a spoon until it gave out, then drank the contents and finally employed her fingers.

A final piece of advice--pre-peel and cut up the bananas before freeezing. I can't imagine anything more bone-numbing than peeling a frozen banana.

Here are some pictures and happy eating! (excuse the sideways photos, we're doing well just to post photos, today!)


dream chairs II

In my search for the chairs below (search terms: chinese, chippendale, faux bamboo, adler, regency--it was a broad search), I began to realize that These chairs were going to be out of my budget unless I hit the mother lode at a thrift store or a faithful reader just gave me some. Hello? Anyone? I didn't think so.

I could afford perhaps two chairs and what good would that do? Searching led to Overstock and Overstock led to restaurant and event suppliers and I discovered the above beauty. The Chiavari chairs come in a variety of finishes, are sturdy because they are rental chairs and need to hold up to wear and tear, they stack seven high and are much less expensive!

I can buy a lot of 10-12 gently used chairs for under 400.00, with washable cushions. I can spend a little more for new ones. This idea is appealing because they seem versatile and having that many would be great for a party where we would have to bring in an extra table. The chair's footprint would be small, so storing extra chairs in our storage room or attic (what a glorious prospect!) would be super practical. Stackable chairs also make mopping easier.

The idea of restaraunt supply chairs is new to me, but I really like it. They are bound to be sturdier than a lot of chairs and in bulk, less expensive. What do you think, reader? Will these capture the idea of the chair without the expense?


Dream Chairs

After much consideration in the realm of dining room chairs, I have fallen in love with this style. It's called Chinese Chippendale and I can hardly contain myself I love 'em so much! Meredith at Like Merchant Ships has a set in black. Hers are actually metal patio furniture that she uses indoors and they look smashing! Please, dear readers, if you stumble across chairs such as these, will you let me know?

UPDATE: a quick Google search has enlightened me in regards to the chairs. First, they were the Golden Girls kitchen chairs! I'm so jealous. Second, they are not cheap when made of wood. Third, Jonathan Adler has a smashing version which I will not price because I know I will never afford Jonathan Adler chairs!

Good morning, my name is Paula and I am a rule-loving, judging first-born ,

I really do love rules and guides and have a hard time with other birth orders that don't--babies, anyone? The Birth Order Book by Dr. Kevin Lehman is great, by the way, and I highly recommend it.

We have several things going on at once around our house and life. I thought I would share them so folks would know how to pray for us.

Tuan's acl surgery is on Tuesday. It will be less invasive than the one on his other leg. This is good for reasons which I'll spare the gory details, but we are very thankful for that. However, the surgery is full anesthesia, and we are uncertain of the recovery time and amount of pain he will be in. He has spent a lot of time caring for me this past month, so I feel greatly in debt to his service and hope I can take care of my patient as cheerfully as he took care of me. Pray for that, too, as all the lifting, shoving and non-verbal child-rearing jobs fall on me.

Tuan's parents are re-marrying! We are very excited about this our entire family is in the wedding party. : ) Johnny is a ring-bearer, Aubrey a flower girl, I am a bridesmaid and Tuan is a groomsman. Please pray that we survive the busy-ness of the wedding celebration and that Tuan is able to maneuver somewhat with a still healing knee. The wedding is a little less than a month after the surgery.

We're moving! In late September or early October. We will still be at Twin Lakes, but will be moving into the duplex that the Nasekos occupy. Tuan will still be recuperating then which will make for an interesting time. I'm pretty sure that the Mighty Men of Maintenance will be able to assist us with much of the move, but there is lots of packing and cleaning and maneuvering to be done before they can step in!

In the same vein, please pray for me as we move. I love this house and know I will like the new one, but I struggle with worry and am concerned about the new house and those issues. This is silly, but I am terribly afraid of prowlers and burglars and the thought of being in a house with windows only on two sides and a downstairs/upstairs is a bit hairy for me. One of the reasons I love our house now is the 360 view and its location within the gates. Sigh . . . life would be much easier if I were only afraid of realtors or whales.

Please pray for Johnny and Aubrey's transition into the new house. Johnny is fearfully and curiously obsessed with snakes right now and he thinks there is a snake upstairs in the duplex! This is good, right? : )

Finally, I have not felt well since Saturday and thought my sleep was just out of whack. I realized last night that is was more than that--I have a full-blown sinus infection that has rendered me absolutely useless. We ran to Wal-mart for Sudafed and Tylenol and those have made a great difference, but I'm not up to snuff and really need to be full of energy in the coming days and weeks. I am blessed with fantastic immunity (as are Tuan and the kids) and never catch anything, but my sinuses and allergies can knock me to the ground.

Thank you for praying! I am learning the joys of seeing my prayers for other fulfilled and am amazed at how God uses the prayers of the saints.


If I Ran the World . . .

1. The use of overhead lights would be severely limited. In their place, lamps would abound. From every table, shelf, cornice and floor, the sweet glow of lamplight would illuminate our darkness and cast us all in a more flattering light.

2. All restaurants that claim to serve mexican, southwestern, or tex-mex foods would serve complimentary chips. That's right; none of this charging for chips business.

3. I would eat Avocados everyday, in manifold ways.

4. Everyone would use their turn signals--especially when changing lanes.


hee hee

Okay, I confess: I laugh at other folk's misspelled words and more so at wrong words. For example, today, someone on Facebook said they were glad to have gotten their shopping done early so that they could avoid all the "crazy folkes". Since "Folkes" is actually a surname, it made me wonder if they had something against the Folkes family.

Then, someone wrote a comment on my status update about how they, too were "defiantly a poor speller." Hmm, just let that one sink in. Good spelling, wrong word.

I know my own use of the English language is typically wonkety, and that gives me the freedom to laugh at others because I know myself. Nevertheless, if you are in a managerial position, you should be able to correctly mate subjects and verbs, use quotations properly and avoid awkward apostrophe use. It's so unimpressive and annoying to see signs in stores that are so full of errors that they communicate something else entirely from their intended purpose--the management's un-grasp of their native language.

Please share your own examples! I'm off to bed and a rousing sing-along of, "I'm glad I am a consular."


Great Doctrinal Import

We are trying to teach Johnny the children's catechism. We've been working on "Who Made You?" for the last two plus years, so you can imagine the hope we have of a future snowball effect--you know, once we get question one down, perhaps the others will just pick up speed. . .

It's mainly getting the form of the answer right, as well as the concept. Tonight, however, Johnny was on a roll. He was sitting on the changing table and said, "God made trees!"

"Good!" I replied, "What else did God make?"

"God made swimming pool!"

"Yes, God made the swimming pool." Let's try another one, I thought to myself.

"Johnny, where is God?" Johnny peered behind the shower curtain and said, "God hiding!"

"No, Johnny, God is not hiding; God is everywhere!"

He thought for a moment and said, "God hiding something."

There ya go.


Penny Wise Platter Carnival. A day late, but a dollar ahead

The Nourishing Gourmet is hosting a carnival of good, nourishing foods that are also thrifty. I'm a day late on posting mine, but thought I'd share it anyway!

Apple Cinnamon rolls begin with the Nourishing Gourmet's whole-wheat, soaked biscuits which you can find here. As we've been trying to eat a more nourishing, healthful diet, I've been frequently using this recipe.
The whole batch is way more than our crew can eat in a day, so I've been pondering some alternative uses for it.

Yesterday, as I was putting the biscuits together, I went ahead and baked half, then set aside the remaining dough. With the addition of Apples, cinnamon, butter and palm sugar, we ended up with a yummy, yummy breakfast that can't possibly be healthy and nourishing (but it is!). Hope you all enjoy it!

Begin by making Fluffy Soaked Biscuits--use balsamic vinegar for the soaking, if you have it. I find that my flour needs more liquid than the recipe calls for, so if the dough isn't a little sticky, add some water. If you want your grains soaked, begin the night before. (The recipe also works fine for the day of.)

Apple Cinnamon Rolls
1/2 batch of Fluffy Soaked Biscuit Dough
1 Organic Granny Smith Apple
2 Tbsp Palm Sugar
generous quantities of cinnamon
2-3 Tbsp Butter

Preheat oven to 400. Allow dough to rest. Finely dice the apple and place it in a bowl with the sugar, and enough cinnamon to make the world a better place. Stir together and set aside.

Roll out the dough into a roundabout rectangle. Dot with 1.5 Tbsp butter, cut up (more or less) and cover with apple mixture.

Roll the dough up and slice into sections.

Place in a baking dish, dot each roll with bits of butter and bake for 10-15 minutes. Check the centermost roll for doneness.

These are so yummy. They have a delicious richness to them and remind me of pecan swirls. I think nuts would also be a fantastic addition. As for cost, I don't have time for the math right now, but would think this is a very inexpensive recipe.