Fantastic January

My heart is glad and full. This January has been fantastic. I feel like we've just coasted through some glorious days and I am so thankful.

The baby is doing well and kicking and rumbling. We'll be thirty three weeks, tomorrow!

J is growing leaps and bounds in his ability to help (he knows how to put his clothes away!), dress himself, keep dry pants and his coloring skills have jumped through the roof! We've also transitioned from "nap time" in the afternoon to "room time." This means he conks out at bed time and we're no longer fighting the "stay in your room"/"stay in your bed" battle.

A is in her own room for the first time! Since she still takes a nap, she stays "up" in her bed for a while after bedtime. Her bed is full of amusements and she feeds her babies, cooks, reads, and sings songs until she goes to sleep. Her two favorite songs right now are "Jingle Bells" and "Life is a Highway." A's voice is a bit hoarse and hearing her sing cracks us up. Only a video or in-person performance would do it justice. Her verbal skills are constantly improving and she passed that portion of her two-year old check up swimmingly.

Some time in the fall, we finally figured out the best time to do devotions with the kids. After pajamas and tooth brushing, they pile on the bed for Bible studies. Tuan is doing such a good job with this and the kids love their Bible stories. We are using The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes. This was mine as a child and it is illustrated very differently from the current edition. All the stories are accompanied by a very realistic painting. I really like it better than the new one. Anyway, the kids were on a David and Goliath kick for a while and J knew the words so well he'd say the story along with Tuan. When they got to the part where it says, "David threw a stone at the giant. It hit him on the head and the great Goliath fell over dead . . . " A would begin hitting herself on the head and promptly fall over.

We've since adopted other favorites. A's is the "Sheep Drop." This is the story of the man who had a hundred sheep and one wandered away and fell down the cliff. He left the ninety nine and went to retrieve the lost sheep. J's favorite is the "Snakes are Biting the People." This is the one where God sends the snakes to bit the people because they have been rebellious and when they repent Moses puts a brass snake on the pole and if they look at the snake, they are healed. Eclectic choices, no? Fortunately, Tuan also picks a story which is keeping us from only learning part of the Bible!

Tuan is now recovered from Peru and working feverishly to get the summer camp website up and running so he can work feverishly on camp! Our life has no normal and is rarely slow and we love it! The summer's theme is Daniel--I am really looking forward to seeing how they pull of the Fiery Furnace and Lion's Den!

I am nesting a bit--okay, a lot! I'm getting plenty of rest and have been indulging in a new obsession--video games. Tuan got me hooked on The Legend of Zelda and although I always vowed I'd have nothing to do with such foolishness, I confess I've nearly beaten the game and am so sad it's over! I've also been cooking and taking more "nourishing steps." We made soaked pizza dough this week and I'm so excited to have breached this intimidating wall!

This is an abrupt way to end a post, but my children have abruptly informed me of their need for intervention. Buenos Dias!


Just Like the Ones Sonic Makes

How many of you, while sitting at Sonic, enjoying onion rings have thought, "Dang. If I could just make these at home my life would be complete and I'd never have to go to Sonic again except for the marvelous ice . . . " Did it just get quiet in here? Me neither. Last night, though, Tuan and I put the kids to bed and had planned a late supper of steak and catching up on the Office. We had steak, mushrooms, blue cheese and wanted something else to go with dinner. "Let's make onion rings!" I said, completely out of the blue. We found this recipe on All Recipes and I cannot tell you how thrilled we were with the results!

The recipe advertised that they were like "that famous drive in" or something like that. You dredge the onion rings in flour, then batter then cracker crumbs. We only had whole wheat flour and crackers, so they were a bit heavier and, well, more "brown" than had we used white flour and perhaps even panko, but they had a marvelous, marvelous texture. I think I'd like to try this with cheese, too. If only we'd had some comeback sauce!

One neat thing we learned is that if you loop them on chopsticks or skewers after they come out of the grease and let them dangle over a bowl, then they drain perfectly and there is no greasy puddling. I don't know if anyone who reads this actually fries food, but her ya go!


bed and bath

I am glad that today is ending. Once we get the energy to trundle the kids upstairs and get them ready for bed, I am looking forward to a nice warm bubble bath, the latest edition of House Beautiful and being enveloped in down thereafter.

I hope tomorrow is a better day!

It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed,
because his compassions fail not.
They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.


better buys for bleak wintry times

If you know me well, you may already know how much I LOVE mexican (ish) food. I adore Vietnamese, but I really love Mexican in all forms and fashions. High, low, authentic or Taco Bell, I'm there. Tuan wryly commented after our first few months of marriage given all the times we ate tacos, that he did not know about my hispanic heritage!

At home we mainly do tacos and nachos. They are never the same, but always so good. On New Year's Eve I made some refried black beans to go on the side or in them and they were so good! Paired with avocado I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. The flavor combination was that sublime.

When I went to the grocery to get taco supplies I had planned to buy lettuce to stuff the tacos, but lettuce was more expensive than avocado! It was a liberating moment--Avocados are flavorful and packed full of good stuff and I love to serve them to our family. If you go to Sam's you can buy five for four dollars, I believe; which is a great deal. I recently learned that you can let them ripen and then keep in the fridge until you need them--another liberating moment because avocados do kind of stress me out when juggling the ripe/overripe issue.

So! Here is the recipe for refried black beans:

1 can black beans or freshly made
sea salt
bacon grease (enough to coat a cast iron skillet--2 strips of bacon will do it and then some)

Rinse your beans and shake/drain as much water as possible. Heat the oil in a cast iron skillet until hot and toss the beans in. Immediate season with salt and cumin (I just do a few shakes). Reduce the heat a wee bit and stir. Let the beans heat through and then mash them a bit. I like the mixture dry but you can add liquid to them to make them more soupy.

Serve with Avocado!

Also, the Barefoot Contessa's guacamole is sublime! Find it here.