Monday, December 30, 2013

10 Exciting and Productive Activities YOU CAN DO While Your Toddler Is On The Potty

It's that time.

My world is currently revolving around a bladder.  Two bladders, to be precise.  Because a pregnant, eight month bladder is functioning at the same level as a training, two year old bladder.

  And let me tell you, two year old bladders can be rather tyrannical.  Much like Marie Antoinette, the possesor of said bladder expects instant obedience and servants that cater to her every whim.  Might I be in the middle of lunch?  I can eat cake AFTER I take her to the potty.

 I dutifully take her highness to the royal comode.  She sits on her throne all of 3.8 seconds and then declares herself finished.

"No, not yet, just sit there a minute longer"  I implore.

 "Done NOW!!"  She screeches while simultaneously pulling the most pathetic face I have yet seen.  And since I'm hungry and anxious to get back to my meal, I give in.

Big mistake.

3 bites into my congealing soup...


"No you don't. I just took you and you couldn't go.  You can wait."

But alas and alack, her red faced distress gets the better of me once more.  I know I smell something.  She probably really does need to go.  If I can only get. one. more. bite. of. soup.
 OK, OK, I give up, let's go do this one more time.  I have to go myself, anyways.
We sprint to the bathroom, which is rather hard on my eight month pregnant bladder.

It's too late.

Which is why I have recorded here for potty training posterity 10 helpful activities you can do whilst your little one is one the potty.  The main purpose is to pass time in hopes that by purest coincidence there might be that one success that will keep you hopping like a trained monkey for the next 3 months until the elusive potty mastery has been achieved.

1. Do jumping jacks while singing the alphabet.  Educational exercise entertains.  Need I say more?

2. Clip her toe nails.  Then, clip your own toe nails.  Oh, the joy of tiny pink clippers!

3. Sing through the Wee Sing Nursery Rhyme Book.  Twice.

4.  Name all the body parts, in Spanish.

5.  Wash the mirror and sink.

6.  Read a gripping picture book in which a fluffy but ditzy chick manages to get itself hopelessly lost within seconds of hatching.  Be warned, there is a graphic scene where the chick, paralyzed with despair is nearly eaten by the know-it-all farmyard collie.  Wait, did I just make that part up?  Oh well, she can't read yet...

7.  Write the prologue to the Great American Novel.

8.  Scrub suspicious yellow stains off the baseboards.

9.  Apply a bit of makeup.

10.  Extol the virtues of the Disney Princesses, particularly the ones that take themselves to the potty.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

My Dad

I was a tomboy  because I wanted to be just like my daddy.  

He was strong and brave, noble and adventurous.  It was from him that I learned not to cry, even if something  hurts.  Soldiers don’t cry.  Firemen don’t cry.  Mountain-men don’t cry.  Heroic Confederate generals don’t cry.  And neither did I.  I trained myself to not let even a hint of pain or surprise show when I bumped my shins on a sharp corner.  It wasn’t because he taught me to do that, I just wanted to be as strong as I thought he was.

I learned from watching him that the only thing more disgraceful than a city slicker was to be a picky eater.  (It wasn’t until years later that I learned he actually was a picky eater!)
He revealed to a blond haired toddler the beauty of thunderstorms.  I have never been afraid of lightening and thunder.   Not when my daddy said it was the voice of God.  He is responsible for the vivid painting in my mind of God reaching into a pirate-style chest and scattering His treasures of snow and ice around the world.

My dad showed me the beauty of God and His ways.  I remember him laying on the couch, early of a Sunday morning, looking up at the sunrise.  “It was just a morning like this when our Savior rose from the grave.  Look at those rejoicing colors!”

Christmas time was special.  I clearly remember the first CD player he brought home (to the consternation of mom, I don’t believe we could actually afford it)  For a long while the only two CD’s we owned were Handel’s Messiah and Time Life’s Collection of Christmas Classics.  Eventually The Nutcracker Suite was added.  On the first cold snap a fire would be lit, chili eaten with gusto and we would sit together and listen to the Christmas classics while dad worked on painting his ceramic Christmas village.  He also made a yearly event of reading John Blanchard’s book:  Immanuel, God With Us.  No one could take history and Scripture and weave them with such fascinating insight so as to make the Bible stories come alive like my dad.  They weren’t stories, they were people.  

His love of history, science, and literature rubbed off on me.  If I wanted to know something about the Navy, Civil War (any war!) Reformation England, Gold Mining in the Yukon, New England Whaling Captains, Firemen, WW2 spies, Calisthenic exercise, the reptiles of Australia, Tornados or Why Texas Stinks, he was my go-to-guy.

It still takes my breath away.  I don’t know what happened.  We lost him.  Long before he died, we lost him.  For a long time I felt that he left us on his own.  And I was angry.  Now I see that he lost himself and could never find his way back, even though he desperately wanted to.  I don’t understand why God found it necessary to take everything away from him, from us.  Why he had to be so completely destroyed.  I know that if it could have been done any other way, God would have done it.  Whatever He does must by definition be best.  If it wasn’t best, He would not be God.  This too, I learned from my father.
It’s been seven years this week.  I miss him so much.  I miss what was and what could have been.  I miss his humor, his outlook, his Christmas village.  I wish he could have enjoyed being a grandfather.  I wish he could have seen his youngest son honored for his service in the Oklahoma National Guard.  His oldest son return home safely from two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I wish he could have kissed his youngest daughter on her wedding day.  Or been side by side with his third son as he dug through the rubble of Plaza Towers Elementary.  My second brother proposed to his future wife in way that would have made dad proud.  Christmas time, a park full of lights and a light encrusted bridge over a pond with Christmas songs in the background.  The moment she said “Yes!” snowflakes started to fall, as if on cue.  Maybe he was there after all…

In memory of Jo-El Kimball October 28th 1958 - December 14th, 2006

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Chicken 'N Rice

Remember my last post when I had an hour to unload the car, fix dinner, eat and head out for karate?

Yeah, I'm, still having nightmares about it...

Not really.

That's 'cuz I had a secret weapon that helped me pull it off.  Some "convenience food"!!!

Here is my recipe:

Go to WalMart.
Place a rotisserie chicken in your cart.
Not the hot one!!!!!
Go around the corner and find the refrigerated case that has yesterday's chilled chickens, these are a dollar cheaper.
Grab a bag of frozen mixed veggies or fresh, washed spinach.
Once home, throw the chicken in a covered dish, heat in oven at 400 for as long as you can get away with. 30 minutes will do it.
Heat 4 cups of water, 2 tbs butter and 1 package of onion soup mix to boiling in a pot.  Add 2 cups of rice and steam on low 15-20 minutes.
Microwave mixed veggies with salt and butter or dump spinach in a bowl and call it "salad".
Stir whatever cheese you might have on hand into the finished rice.
Pull the bird out of the oven and dig in!
Leave enough meat to make a casserole tomorrow!

2nd Day Casserole
Mix the leftover chicken, rice, mixed veggies (or chopped spinach) and a can of cream of chicken soup with 1/2 can of milk.  Can be topped with your choice of cheese, french fried onions, bread crumbs, crushed cheese crackers, crushed potato chips or just left plain.  Bake in a greased and covered dish at 350 for 30-45 minutes. (or a crockpot would do)  Add some biscuits and mashed sweet potatoes and iced tea.

Can also be frozen for the ultimate convenience (move over Stouffer's!) or emergency meal delivery to someone in need.  Don't forget to boil the bones for genu-wine chicken broth!  This bird is giving it's all...

This is comfort food. :-)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Thanksgiving Adventures or I'm a Basket Case!

Happy December 7th, everyone!

It's a beautiful, snowy weekend across Oklahoma.  It's been several years since we've had any snow in my area.  Which means Elle got her first taste of the white stuff yesterday.  Let's just say she was extremely suspicious.  Two whole years of existence and never has the sky belched deceptively pretty, yet treacherously cold and wet stuff before.  What is this world coming to?

Usually snow and ice bring out my inner elf.  But this week I have been the Grinch, deluxe.

Snarling over chocolate- chocolate chip cookies.  Griping through pancake breakfasts.  Breaking down while the beans and my potty training toddler simaltaneously boil over onto the kitchen floor.  I can't rest and I can't actually get anything done either.  It's Thanksgiving burnout limbo.

I had a great time during our Thanksgiving holiday.  I really and truly made the most of every second.  I'm just having to pay back all those madcap moments now.

I spent the first half of last week doing laundry, school, packing and making pumpkin bread.  Wednesday morning found me frantically stuffing suitcases and scrubbing kids.  This is the first year that we all split up during the holiday, which made packing a real challenge.  Events that needed to be packed for included Thanksgiving Day (should we dress nicely or all in red to camoflaouge the cranberry stains?), a professional football game (how cold is it in Cowboys Stadium anyway?), hunting (I'm supposed to wash everything in baking soda, really? And how many weeks has The Great White Hunter had to prepare?  And now I'm supposed to do it THE MORNING THAT WE LEAVE!!!!) a wedding, Sunday morning church, and Christmas Light viewing in the park.

Of course, Wednesday is also the day of my big Glucose Screening of Doom at Dr Silver's office.  It's ironic, I've been avoiding sugar like the plague and now I have to swig 50 grams in 5 minutes, wait an hour then drive 2 hours.  Why do I do this to myself?

Anyways, we made it.  By 1:45 we were packed, fed, washed, loaded, the dishes done and the last load of hunting junk in the dryer.  I gulped my orange soda-esque glucose drink and we made it to the Dr.'s office at the precise moment of my appointment.  A first for me.

I had actually baked a loaf of pumpkin bread and made a homemade (ie: cheap and tacky at the last moment because it never occurred to me to do it ahead of time) card for the good Dr and his staff.  And, I managed to keep Elle's sticky fingers out of it.  Victory!

I had a good visit.  Reindeer looks nice and healthy.  I got some of my burning questions of my chest, such as "What and where is the Chorionic Membrane exactly?"  and "If I had a hysterectomy, not that I expect to, but if I did, is it possible to have an ectopic pregnancy in the future?" and "I'm not anxious, I swear, I'm just extremely well educated about everything that could go catastrophically wrong."  He really deserves the pumpkin bread.   I get to go back every 2 weeks now!

After having my blood drawn I made a bee line to Taco Bell to get some protein, baby!  And then we were off to OKC for fun, fun, fun.

My brother and sister-in-law met me at my mother-in-law's house to take all my kids with them for two days.  Daniel and Samantha rock!!!

The rest of my husband's family gradually gathered so that we could finish packing for our Great Raider's Escapade.  Seriously, my brother-in-law actually bought tickets for all the adults to go to Dallas and watch the Raiders-Cowboys football game on Thanksgiving Day.  And we got to tailgate!  But first we had to get to Dallas.  Before we could do that we had to get our stuff together and we had to all actually be present.  In typical fashion, we did not leave until 3 hours later than our stated ETD.  Which meant we got to Dallas around 1 a m.

The next day was a whirlwind of tailgate partying, waiting in line for port-a-potties with people that had way too much to drink, infiltrating the Dallas Stadium in our Raider's gear, cheering, losing and searching for a place to eat that was open at 9 p m on Thanksgiving Day.  We settled on Denny's.  I ate Tilapia whilst Rob had traditional Turkey and Gravy.  We drank coffee and Rob's family told stories of growing up in the 70's and all the crazy stuff they did.  It was perfect.

Getting out of Dallas the next day proved to be much more difficult than getting in.  The entire city is under perpetual construction and a dearth of helpful highway signs was duly noted.  It took us about two hours, three changes of drivers and three stops for directions before we finally got onto the open road.  Free at last!!!

Once home in OKC, Rob and Cy left for their first father-son hunting trip.  I'm not sure who was more proud, Rob or Cy.  I fervently prayed for their safety the whole weekend.

I took the remnant of my clan to my mother's and we had a great time eating  pizza and playing the silliest game in history, Quelf.

Saturday dawned bright and clear.  But no time to rest, I had a wedding to prepare for.   The bride is a childhood friend of my grandmother.  A sweet lady that I have known my entire life.  She is now nearly 80 and marrying someone she met online.  I wouldn't miss this for the world!  But, what about a gift?  She surely doesn't need towels or silverware.  And to be perfectly frank, by this time of the month, I'm broke.

Never fear, gift baskets are here to save the day!  Back as a newly-wed myself I was given a gift jar recipe book.  The book is long gone (who needs recipe books when you have Pintrest?) but the concept remains as one of my favorite gift ideas.  I googled "soup mixes" and found one of my old fave's Love Soup.  I also found a recipe for a dessert that you microwave in a coffee cup.  I had brought all my ingredients with me, but had neglected to procure a suitable jar and coffee cups for my purposes.

I ran out to the nearest Dollar store, the Family Dollar.  It's nearby the OKC zoo, which is off of Martin Luther King Street, which everyone knows is not in the best part of town.  But I would not be deterred from my mission.  Well, Family Dollar did not have what I need.  After some inquiry I was directed to another store not far away.  Turns out it was located in an even worse part of town, right next door to Mama E's Soul Food.  The sign on the door instructed all who enter to remove their hoods.  Since I was not wearing a hood and I was packing my piece (in my camo purse) I went on in.  There only a few (harmless) ladies in the store and they had exactly what I needed!  I snatched a snowman canister, two red and green holiday mugs, a reindeer tea towel and an adorable snowman salt and pepper shaker set.  It cost me about $7.  Once home I assembled my mixes, lined my $1 basket with the tea towel and set the canister, mugs, salt shaker and handwritten directions in it.  All together it probably cost me $10.  And it looked really cute, if I do say so myself...  I love basket gifts, they are so versatile and you can make it as fancy or as practical as you like.  Instead of baskets you could use a hand decorated paper bag, ziplock or mason jars instead of canisters, tissue paper in place of a tea towel.  There are a million different ways to show someone you are thinking of them without spending a lot of money.  I'll post recipes below, just in case someone is interested.

The wedding was beautiful, I had a blast visiting with all my friends and family that were in attendance.  My childhood friend, Sam was the minister.  It's hard to believe we've all grown up that much!  I raced back to change the kids out of dress clothes into warm, Christmas Light viewing clothes, then drove 40 minutes to my mom's house, than drove an hour to Chickasha.  By this time my entire right leg was aching and my toes were going numb.  My mom was worried it might be a blood clot.  I was more inclined to believe it was siatica or something.  Although, the pain did seem to coming from a place that I knew to have deep vein varicosities.  I managed to ignore the discomfort the best I could and we had a wonderful time, first walking through the lighted park, then riding in a horse drawn carriage.  I caved and had hot cocoa while waiting in line.  It was worth it, but I wonder if it played a part in what happened the next day...

My mom drove us back to Moore because my leg was hurting so much.  I then drove back to my mother in law's and heaved the kids all into bed.  I crashed myself, about 1 a m, the 4th day in a row for me to go to bed after 1 o'clock.

I woke Sunday, knowing there was no way I was going to make it to church.  I was down right surly with the kids.  After 2 cups of coffee, 2 waffles with peanut butter and a dab of jelly and a sliced apple with sliced cheese (not a bad breakfast, usually) everything fell apart.  I have no idea if it was exhuastion combined with a caffeine and sugar overdose or if I really did have a blood clot, but I felt horrid.  My heart stayed around 120 when I was resting, 160 if I was up and trying to get anything done.  I just wanted my mama.  I did manage to get everything packed up (since I had planned to return home to Tulsa later in the day)  but it seemed that trying to load it all into the van was asking for a heart attack.  I just wanted to get to my mom's, so I pushed everyone into the van, said a prayer and set out.  I probably shouldn't have been driving.  As long as I focused on breathing, though, it was alright.  We made it.  And I crashed on my mom's couch for the rest of the day.  By this time I had a fever of 100.8.  I guess we'll never know if I was a.sick, b. dehydrated and overheated, c. O.D'd on coffee and pecan pie, d. actually suffered a life threatening pulmonary embolism or e. a combination of a,b, and c compounded by the fact that I am a little anemic and predisposed to prenatal tachycardia.  Whatever it was, you could stick a fork in me.  I was DONE!  The couch and I became best friends.  We stayed the night with my mom and returned home the next day.

Of course, I can't just "go home".  First I had to pick up my stuff and Cy (who Rob had dropped off at his mom's the night before)  and I had to locate all the missing socks.  And fix lunch.  Once we arrive in Tulsa I had 30 minutes to kill before my chiropractor opened for the afternoon, so we went to Walgreens and got some milk.  And I had my glasses adjusted.  It felt great to have my back and hips adjusted as well, after having spent half my holiday in the car.  Of course, I can't go to town without stopping by the library.  And WalMart.  There was no food in house so we had to pick up a rotisserie chicken at least.

By the time we pulled into our driveway there was exactly an hour to unload, cook dinner, eat and head back out to karate.  Sigh.  This is a situation entirely of my own making.  You'd think I'd learn...

2 hours at karate and we returned at 9:30.  Everyone is starving.  Emergency Popcorn  to the rescue!

Tuesday I struggled with laundry, school, dinner, menu and grocery list.  When Robert came home I headed to the store.  At 7 pm.  Made it back by 10 to unload and put it all away.  Wednesday brought school, piano lessons and church.  Thursday, Friday and Saturday have been zombie days I would rather forget about  The meltdowns have been numerous.  I'm self medicating with Chocolate-Chocolate Chip cookies which isn't doing my heart any favors.  If I can just rest maybe I'll be ready for next week's challenges which include a funeral in OKC, Dr's appointment, Piano Recital, school and Christmas shopping.  If you don't hear from me in a while, you'll know why.

Wow!  I know this was long and rambling.  But it feels so good to get it all out.  Writing is the best therapy.  Thank you all for reading and for your love and support.  God is so good to me!  I don't know how I'm going to make it through the next month, much less once I have my sweet baby boo.  I'll just have to read some of my previous posts I guess, take my own advice.  This really is the most wonderful time of the year.  And I want to live, really and truly live and love every moment of it.

Here are the links for Love Soup Mix  and Chocolate Hedgehog In A Mug.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Perfect Pie Pastry

Sigh.  I absolutely adore aliterations...

Where was I?

Oh, yeah, pie crusts.

For years I loathed the song "Billy Boy".  The one with infamous lyrics: "She can make a cherry pie with a twinkle in her eye..."  Where is that woman, I'd like to give her a shaking!  There is nothing sparkly about lard and flour all over your counter, floors, clothes and eye lashes.  There is no 'easy as pie' when the stupid lump of grease won't hold the flour together and it looks more like the Shroud of Turin than something you would put in your mouth.

But, I don't enjoy eating cake.  And my husband routinely requests pie for his birthday dinner.  And frozen pie crusts break my budget.

After years of frustration and endless forays into countless books, websites and little old lady counseling I finally learned something.

It doesn't take fancy ingredients.  You don't need a bowl of water with ice cubes, vinegar, boiling water or buttermilk.

It doesn't require fancy equipment.  You don't need a marble slab, french rolling pin or a Tupperware plastic pie size measurer thingie.   You don't even need an I Love Lucy apron.  But it is fun to wear...

What you need is:
2 cups regular ol' flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup shortening
6-7 Tbs cold (ish) water

Using a fork, mix the flour and salt together.  I use a fork instead of a pastry blender.  It works better for me.  Measure out 2/3 cup of shortening and mash in with the fork until everything is crumbly.  The more small crumbles of shortening and flour, the flakier the crust.  Evidently, the shortening melts in the oven, leaving a pocket of air, hence the coveted flakes.

HERE IS THE SECRET TO THE WHOLE THING: Turn your faucet to a slow trickle of cold water.  Start measuring into a Tablespoon, slowly pour out of spoon into crust mix while stirring with the fork.  TAKE YOUR TIME!  Mix 1 tablespoon at a time, moistening the dry parts in every corner of the bowl. (I know, round bowls don't have corners.  But you know what I mean)  By the end of 6 Tablspoons, meticulously stirred in, the consistency should be moist, but not soggy.  Rarely is the the 7th Tbs ever need.  I usually regret it if I do add #7.  Gather up all the loose but moist crumbles into a ball and let it sit for a few minutes.  This is a good time to prepare your scrumptious filling.  The sitting time lets all the parts suck in the water.  When you come back to it, it should be perfectly pliable, ready to roll out on a floured counter top with a floured rolling pin.  Bake as directed.

I have frozen lumps of pie dough in ziplock bags before.  It works, but you lose something in the texture if you thaw it in the microwave.  I have heard that you can roll it out and stack between sheets of wax paper in a brand new pizza box and freeze, but I've never had an un-used pizza box on hand to try that with.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Convenience Food

"Feed me with food convenient for me." Proverbs 30:8

Whoa!  Do I have a proof text for fast food?  Just what I've been looking for, hehe...

Okay, here it is in context:
"Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain." Proverbs 30:8-9

I looked up "convenient" in the dictionary.  It comes from a Middle English word that can mean "appropriate, befitting".  The writer is asking for just enough.  Nothing too rich or fancy.  That might cause him to forget that he is daily dependent upon Almighty God.  Too big for his britches, you might say.  But, not too poor, either.  Absolute starvation could cause him to steal out of necessity or other acts of desperation, thus ruining his testimony.

And what about the vanity and lies part?  How often are we guilty of projecting that we are of more consequence than we really are.  A sort of keeping up with the Joneses, if you will.

I find here the simple life advocated in a most winsome way.  " 'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free, 'tis the gift to come down where you ought to be; And when you find yourself in the place just right, 'twill be in the Valley of Love and Delight" -Shaker Hymn

I would like to start a series on Convenience Foods.  Food that is simple, healthy, frugal, delightful.  And ways to make such food truly convenient and doable in today's complicated world.
I will begin with Beans and Rice.
Wait, not just any beans and rice.  Exciting Beans!  Celestial Rice!  Not Your Great-Grandma's Beans and Rice!!  Nourishing and Exotic Beans and Rice from all over the world!!!

Are you excited now?


My family of 6 was in raptures this week with a substantial meal I prepared using 1 cup of rice, 1 pound of beans, 1 1/2 chicken breasts and 1/2 a cup of cheese.  There were a few extras required, (such as 1 can tomato sauce, some spices and some veggies and tortillas) but this is the basis of our Chicken Fajita Fiesta with Spanish Rice, Refried Beans, Restaurant Style Queso and Pico De Gallo.

It was really good.  And filling.  Not only did my dear hubby personally eat 5 fajitas, there was enough left over for lunch the next day!  Move over Taco Bell...  This is real convenience food!

It begins with a really good pot of beans.  I try to fix several pounds of beans every few weeks and freeze them for some fast food.  Here is how I begin:

Mexican Beans

Rinse 1-2 lbs dry pinto beans, put in large pot and cover with water.  Add1/2 tsp baking soda to the soaking water.  (helps cut down on gas)   Either soak overnight or bring to a boil for 2 minutes.  Let sit an hour or more.  Rinse and drain beans.  Place back in pot.  Cover with fresh water plus 2 inches.  Add (here's where it gets fun!)  a few spoonfuls of bacon grease, butter or vegetable oil.  The oil keeps the beans from foaming so much.  Bacon grease is the most flavorful.  You decide!  Chop and add 1 large onion and 3-4 cloves of garlic.  Stir in a generous amount of chili powder and cumin, maybe a tablespoon of each, up to you.  Simmer 1 1/2 hours, salt to taste and continue to simmer until fully cooked, maybe another 30 minutes.  Your house is going to be smelling heavenly by now...
These beans are perfect to eat as is, over rice, added to Taco Soup or Chili or, my favorite...

Refried Beans

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add butter or bacon grease, about 1 tablespoon.  Ladle in several spoonfuls of Mexican Beans, trying to put in more beans than juice, but definitely need some juice.  As it begins to simmer, use a potato masher to mash the beans smooth.  If it's runny, just bring up the heat and let simmer until thick.  Add extra salt, chili powder or cumin to taste.

We had our leftover refried beans today in Grilled, Stuffed Burritos.  Originally, they nestled on our dinner plates next to their BFF:

Spanish Rice

Heat 1/4 c oil in skillet with lid. (don't use the lid just yet)  Stir 1 cup of rice over medium high heat until golden.  Stir in 1 chopped onion, 1/2 a bell pepper, 1 tomato and 2 cloves of garlic.  Let saute about a minute.  Stir in one 8 oz can of tomato sauce, 2 cups water (I use the tomato can to measure) 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp cumin and 1/2 tsp of chili powder.  Place lid and simmer on low for 20 minutes.

Chicken Fajitas

I had 1 1/2 chicken breasts in the freezer.  The first half of the package had been put to noble use in Sick Day Chicken Soup  When partially thawed I sliced into thin pieces, placed them into a plastic container and poured about 1/4 cup lemon juice, dash of worcestershire, dash of liquid smoke, garlic salt and lemon pepper.  Snap on the lid, shake and let marinate a few hours if you have time.  If you don't, just finish thawing in the microwave.  Slice 1 1/2 bell peppers and 1 1/2 onions.  Cook the chicken in a small amount of oil until done, about 8 minutes, add the veggies and cook on high until the onions are slightly carmelized.

You are going to want some Queso and Pico to top things off.

Restraurant Style Queso

Melt a 1/4 cup butter in small saucepan.  Saute 1/4 finely minced onion and clove of garlic.  Stir in 2 Tbs flour and whisk until smooth.  Add 1 cup of chicken broth or 1 cup water plus 1 cube of chicken bouillon.  Stir while boiling until thick and bouillon is dissolved.  Add small amount of milk, maybe 1/4-1/2 a cup.  Don't let it boil now.  Stir in 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar or Velveeta until it's thick and smoothly melted.  You can add minced jalepeno, some canned green chili, Ro-tel tomatoes or chipotle chili powder for a little heat.

Last but not least...

Pico De Gallo

Chop 1 onion, 2 tomatoes and a few jalepeno slices.  Mix in a bowl with chopped cilantro (if you have it, if not it's ok) lemon or lime juice (or vinegar in a pinch) salt and pepper.

Warm tortillas between damp paper or dish towels in microwave 30 seconds.

It may all seem like a lot of work, but if you can spread it out over the course of the day, it's not so bad.  And it sets you up to have a lot of useful leftovers, particularly beans.  Stayed tuned for more beautiful bean footage...

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Fear Thou Not


Today's message was straight from God.  And just what I needed to hear.

It was what every single person in our sanctuary needed to hear.

It's what the visitor who is suffering from cancer needed to hear.

Pastor J C Fulton preached on Fear.

It will take your breath away, then give it back with a bold new song.

Please take 30 minutes to listen to it right here.

I meant to get a post up this week.  Rob was gone on a business trip practically ALL week.  There were a lot of things that I hoped to do with my "extra" time.

Guess what?  I didn't get much of anything done!  Surprise, surprise, surprise...

Oh well.  The important stuff happened: School every day, 3 meals, a few snacks, clean clothes, a couple of movies.
And pumpkin seeds.
We gutted the volunteer pumpkin on our front porch and had a grand time mushing the gooey, stringy seeds around before we toasted them.

It's the simple things that memories are made of.

The post I was going to write would have been entitled "Our Daily Bread".
Jesus encourages us to ask for our daily needs, knowing that our Father will provide all that we need for life and godliness.  Our Creator remembers what we are made of.  Basically, we are walking, talking mud pies.  And we have needs.  He is the self-existent One.  We are the most dependent of creatures.

"Therefore take no thought saying, What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?  ...For your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things." Matt. 6:32

I get so overwhelmed and guilt stricken sometimes.  Feeding and clothing a family is really hard work.  And I can get to feeling pretty inferior.  Other Moms have it more together.  Other Moms dress their children better, feed them better snacks, take them to more fun outings, make sure they have a top notch education, give their children i-pads and cell phones, keep their noses wiped with a better brand kleenex...

It's not hard to have an A-list pity party.  And I am the life of my parties!

But we don't NEED all those things.  Jesus didn't promise an i-pad in every lap.

Last year, when I was at my lowest and barely able to function, I jotted down the top 3 needs that must be met for my family every day.

They are:
1. Everyone must be fed
2. Everyone must be dressed
3. Everyone must be loved on.

That's it!  God has promised to provide all of these needs.  "But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.  Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.  Sufficient unto the day is the (trouble) thereof." Matt. 6:33-34

This was huge in helping me through this week.
 Food, Laundry and Love.
If we ate nothing but beans and rice that's okay.  Everyone gets fed. (to hear my kids tell it that is all we ate, but it's not. I swear!)
If there is only one set of clean clothes in the drawer to put on that day, it's alright.  At least there won't be any streaking. 
If we don't manage to get any school done but to sit and read library books on the couch and watch a few movies together, that's fine.  In fact, for young children, that's perfect!

It's amazing.  When I lower my expectations for myself to the three basic needs, I feel so free.  And when I am trusting, begging for God's help to survive the day, God always provides so much more.  We always wind up having so much fun when I am not stressing over being the perfect mom.  When I allow myself to be human, when I admit that I am actually needy.

There are days when I bring my best game.  And I trip.  There are days when I feel good, but nonetheless recognize my need for God's blessing and wisdom.  And He gives it.  Then, there are the days when I know I have nothing to give.  Not one shred of patience, no strength, barely any love, maybe just one quivering nerve and there's a toddler jumping on it.  That is where God loves to come running and show me it's not by my might, it's His.

His strength is made perfect in my weakness so that I will KNOW it is HIM, NOT ME that is so awesome!

And so, that is how I survived the week.  And last year.  It's how I'm going to make it tomorrow.  And next month.

I'm afraid this is a rather disjointed and confusing post.  I was interrupted several times while writing.  And it really is two separate posts, joined rather awkwardly at the hip.  I have a feeling I won't have a chance to write it this week and it's just begging to be let out.

But then again, I started out with a sermon on Fear.  Maybe this does belong in the same post.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Autmn Aria

Autumn Aria
Mary Hudson

The song descended with dusk.

I could hear it from my kitchen window,

Pulling me through the door,

Out into the crystal cold.

Golden purple notes draw me westward, sunward.

Enchanted trees stand frozen in the stillness,

Their indigo silhouettes thrumming the harmony

Of my autumn aria.

Hickory incense, sacred to the memory of

Winters past brings a chuckle to my throat.

The sound never escapes my lips.

To break the stillness would end the music.

Swiftly my feet carry me

Scuffling leaves in a cadence

All their own. This moment,

This symphony is mine alone.

A discordant rumble rends the night,

The headlights pierce my thoughts with impunity.

The melody is lost forever.

It’s just as well, for I have returned


November 24, 2008

 Dear Sir or Madam,

Thank you so much for sponsoring this contest.  This is my first attempt at poetry since I was at least eleven years old.  I am now twenty-three, a homemaker and mother to two rambunctious boys, with another one on the way.

This poem snuck up on me rather unexpectedly.  I can tell you “write a poem” was not on my mile long to-do list that day.  I rushed outside to throw away a diaper and was arrested by the one-of-a kind, not-to-be-duplicated spell of the evening.  I returned to the house long enough to grab a coat and ask my husband to watch the kids.  

 And then I walked.   

The entire universe became my private retreat and I felt myself renewed with every step.  Suddenly, I was rudely interrupted by an obnoxious truck and the spell was gone.  

 I know I can never regain the moment, but this poem is how I captured the memory.   

And that is why I wrote it.

Sincerely yours, 
                                                       Mary Hudson


*Once again, I was struck by the beauty of an autumn evening while taking out the trash.  This long forgotten contest entry came to mind.   I loved writing it.  But I didn't win.  It seems this was a sham contest with no real "winners", just potential suckers who would be willing to buy an "anthology" with their masterpiece included.  

Oh, well.