Saturday, March 29, 2008

Fresh Mozzarella Penna Pasta

Our daughter made this for us on one of our recent visits. It was really yummy! It's a nice, fresh pasta dish that I think works especially well as we head into spring and (finally!) warmer weather. Roma tomatoes weren't available so she used regular ones, and it was great.

It Coulda' Been Worse is back up and running with Saturday Stirrings so head on over there for some other great recipes!

Fresh Mozzarella Penna Pasta

8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into small cubes
3 medium tomatoes or 5 to 6 Roma tomatoes, peeled and diced
2 avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoons crushed red pepper or to taste
1 (16-ounce) package uncooked penna pasta
Freshly grated parmesan cheese

In a large bowl, toss mozzarella cheese with tomatoes, avocados, garlic, olive oil, basil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and red pepper. Let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and return to pan to keep warm. Add tomato mixture and toss to coat thoroughly. Transfer onto individual serving plates and garnish with parmesan cheese.

Makes 4 servings.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Foodie Heaven

I just finished eating an absolutely amazing pasta dish. Got the recipe from Tigers & Strawberries, one of my favorite foodie blogs. Pasta with Mushrooms & Peas is the latest recipe Barbara posted using the caramelized onions she taught us how to make recently. Only problem is, I ate too much!

I've had really good food all day long. Started with a breakfast quiche made by my good friend Katie. Then for lunch our son dropped off some leftovers from the meal he made for his wife's birthday yesterday. Ravioli with a homemade sauce, vegie stuffed summer squash and really good garlic bread. By which I mean he roasted garlic and then smeared that all over the bread :-)

So this foodie is sublimely happy tonight!

And the goodness doesn't stop because tomorrow is Saturday, which means the recipe exchange hosted by It Coulda' Been Worse. Now I just have to figure out which recipe to share.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Quilting & Food:Two of My Favorite Things

It has been another good Tuesday of sewing with my friends. Lori is whipping right through the second quilt she's making me. My goodness, that girl is fast! Jami just has to do the border and she'll be done with her quilt top. And me. Well, I did 2/3 of the embroidered saying on a small wall quilt. And it's not even a long saying. I'm just slow.

Now in my defense, I did spend part of my time cooking. We can't get together without some munchies, now can we? So we started off with banana chocolate chip muffins and after smelling the beef stew as it simmered all morning, we dug into that for lunch.

With all the cooking over the last five days, I'm thinking tomorrow might be a good day for lighter fare. Just a little break from the kitchen, you know? But then I'll be ready to get back in there and try out some of the recipes I've found on various food blogs. Oh my lands! I had no idea there were so many other foodies out there! As I have time in the evenings, I'm gonna work my way down through the list at This is a task only to be tackled on a full tummy! The photos alone are enough to send a hungry blogger right back into their own kitchen.

Tomorrow will be a day full of paperwork. Not my favorite activity, but a necessary one. Packets to get out to churches, updating hubby's call list, plugging in data from older call lists so we have all that info in one place...with periodic breaks to do housework 'cause just staring at the computer screen for hours is more than I can handle. And inversely, doing housework nonstop isn't the most fun either!

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Culinary Arsonist

Our family, especially hubby, is big on puns and loves to make a play on words. [The youth group even dubbed puns "Ivanisms" in his honor.] So we weren't surprised when he came up with a new descriptive phrase for Daughter: culinary arsonist.

No, this isn't a reference to that unfortunate incident last year when she melted the stove hood and singed the kitchen curtains.

As you may remember, she's a foodie and now works at an upscale restaurant. Her boss loves that Daughter is exceptionally good at selling their weekly specials (generally quite expensive) and asked how she does it. Surprised by the question, Daughter replied, "Why, I just tell them about it!" But don't all the servers tell customers about the specials? Of course. So why is she selling more than the other, more experienced, servers? Simple. She really gets into describing how the food is prepared and her enthusiasm is contagious. She gets people all fired up about the food. Hence, she's a culinary arsonist :-)

There was a lot of cooking and eating going on at our house this weekend. It's what our family does best. On Saturday we finished off a pan of moussaka, big bowl of salad, croissants and a pan of chocolate pudding cake served with Breyers vanilla. Sunday it was maple glazed ham, mashed potatoes, peas, salad and Amish baked apples with homemade whipped cream. And tonight there was one piece of lasagna left in the pan at the end of the meal but everything else was "over" as our Ugandan friends would say.

I'm guessing we weren't alone in our gluttony filled holiday weekend. So what did your family have?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

At our Sunrise Service this morning, Pastor Rob talked about how the Resurrection literally changed the reality of the world. It turned everything upside down and inside out when Jesus conquered death. What an awesome thought!

We have enjoyed having our "kids" home for Easter weekend. These are precious times! The son and DIL left a little while ago, along with Leo, the 8 month-old puppy that weighs 75 lbs. Which was what he was supposed to weigh when he was fully grown. Gonna miss that by a few pounds I think :-)

Daughter is still here but has gone for a walk. Not a bad idea since the sun has made a rare appearance. I love it that the sun is shining on Easter!

So now the house is quiet...oh, wait, the dishwasher is going and it always sounds like a 747 preparing for takeoff, so scratch the quiet part. But you know what I mean. So I'm taking a few moments to catch up on my favorite blogs.

And I might take a little nap. 'Cause I did get up real early this morning...and I ate a big ole meal at lunch...and the sunbeams are warming up my little corner of the living room. So what's a girl to do?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Sunnyside Egg & Sausage Casserole

Another Saturday, another chance to check out some yummy recipes over at Saturday Stirrings hosted by It Coulda Been Worse. This week we're exchanging Easter themed recipes. I'm sharing a great B&B recipe for Easter breakfast that uses up some of those hard boiled eggs your family has colored. Like everything I share, it's quick and easy to put together. And, oh yes, it is oh so yummy!

1 pound hot sausage
6 to 8 hard-boiled eggs
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 1/2 cups grated cheese (sharp)
Slice eggs and place in buttered casserole dish. Cook and drain sausage. Spread over eggs. Spread sour cream over sausage. Combine cheese and breadcrumbs and sprinkle over sour cream. Bake 20 to 30 minutes @ 350 degrees until bubbly. Serves 6.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Traveling With Kids

We've traveled a lot together. Part of that had to do with the job: the nine years we were houseparents, our family had to leave home in order to get a break, and when hubby was the associate pastor overseeing missions trips, we went on a lot of those. And, of course, God has taken us to a few places on our own. One of our greatest joys was having our son join the rest of us in Africa so that we spent five months serving together as a family.

So I've learned a few things about traveling with kids. Not all my attempts to keep them occupied were successful. Some were utter disasters. But I thought it might help to share what did work for those participating in Works-For-Me-Wednesday.

First off, you have to view traveling as an ADVENTURE. If you convey that attitude, you're more than halfway there! Kids pick up on your attitude. If you're dreading the trip, they'll sense that dread and act out. If you keep talking up the trip, and how much fun it will be, then they'll catch that excitement and be in a much happier frame of mind from the outset.

And remember, every child is different. So what worked best for us was to let each child have a backpack for their own stuff. Early on I packed it. As time went on, I contributed but they determined what would be included.

I always put in books. Picture books when they were younger, how-to books for my son as he grew, lots of fiction for both. Drawing supplies always made the cut, too, but we limited it usually to a pad of paper and couple of good drawing pencils. No sense in cluttering up the vehicle with a multitude of small pencils or crayons that just get stepped on and broken or lost. That philosophy also led me to ban anything with lots of little pieces. You have to take along enough stuff when traveling, why add to the volume unnecessarily?

Our son always had some ongoing project and if it was small enough he was allowed to take it along. I think he was about 12 when he found a site online that detailed how to pick locks. He and a buddy created their own lock pick sets and on one trip they took along a bunch of different locks and practiced unlocking them, timing to see who could do it fastest. Some of you are wondering if it was a good idea for us to allow this? Well, all I can say is it's a good skill to have when you've accidentally locked the bathroom door after starting to run the bathwater. And to my knowledge, he's never used the skill in a nefarious manner :-)

We also picked up books-on-tape from the library that the whole family could enjoy. Remember, this was before the ubiquitous portable DVD player. And while I have nothing against those, I still think a book-on-tape is a great travel tool. Our family enjoyed a lot of books together that way.

We played games, of course. And we talked. Many of our best family times have been in the car during a long trip. Especially as the kids got older. We listened to music and learned new songs. We stopped at rest areas as often as needed, and not just for potty stops. Sometimes the kids just needed to get out and stretch their legs, run around a little. Or we'd stop at an outlet mall and walk around window shopping.

Again, it all goes back to our attitude. When I have a good attitude, the trip goes so much better! And that continues to this day. I still love "road trips" with my kids and have been blessed to have a few since they've become adults. So start looking forward to them, enjoy them, and make travel an ADVENTURE!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Remember the IBM Selectric?

Oh. My. Goodness. Today I had to use a *gasp* typewriter to fill out a form. Now I spent three years in typing class and my top speed was over 120 words per minute. During the last two years of high school I was dual enrolled, spending half the day at the vocational school in a secretarial training program. Mom, a 6th grade dropout who spent her life waitressing, gave me no choice. She was determined I be able to do more than waitress -- which I have also done, and it's HARD work! So I took the course and spent several years working as a secretary.

But that was a few years ago.

And I've since gotten used to the ease with which you can make changes on the computer. I could not believe how inept I'd become on the old typewriter keyboard. We'd printed the forms out (from the computer, of course) and added a few extra copies, just in case. Well, needless to say we ended up printing out even MORE copies. In the end it took one and a half hours and six copies before I got it right. Good grief!

How the lofty have fallen! My glory days of winning speed and accuracy contests have long since faded. I had never realized how often I use the backspace key or simply wipe out whole sections and just start over, until today. I'm so ashamed *head hanging low*.

And it makes me realize I'm getting old. We've had a computer since our youngest was a wee thing, so our kids have no history with a typewriter. But I remember what a big deal it was when IBM came out with the Selectric with changeable font balls. My kids can scan and print anything they want. I remember when our vocational school went from the old purple ink hand crank ditto machine to our first Xerox copier. That Xerox was huge, and we couldn't copy photos because the images were unrecognizable. Back in the day, only girls took secretarial training and only boys took shop.

I must say, I like the way things have changed :-)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Amish Baked Apples

NOTE: In yesterday's post I talked about my (dis)ability to sing. Yes, I meant "dis", not "in". It's not that I can't sing (inability), but that I'm so bad (disability). Nuf said.

Time for Saturday Stirrings over at It Coulda Been Worse!

We live in a rural area with a lot of Amish. Boy, can they cook! And this is one of my favorite Amish recipes. The resulting sauce tastes like caramel and there's always extra that I save to top ice cream at other times.

This is melt-in-your-mouth, oh-my-goodness, how-did-I-live-without-this delicious!

And it's quick to put together which is always a plus on busy days when company is coming!

Amish Baked Apples

4 very large or 6 medium size apples
1-1/4 cups brown sugar
scant 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 cups water
2 Tablespoons butter
vanilla ice cream (optional but highly recommended!)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Core and quarter apples [I have an apple peeler/corer so I use that instead.] Place apples in 3-quart buttered baking dish.

Combine brown sugar, flour, and salt in small bowl. Stir in lemon juice and water and pour mixture over apples. Dot with butter, sprinkle with cinnamon (add as much or as little as you want).

Bake uncovered for one hour, basting twice. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Love Is Deaf

My husband has a beautiful voice. I love to hear him sing.

Shortly after we started dating/got engaged, our pastor asked if we'd be willing to sing a duet for special music one Sunday. "No!" "Sure!" We looked at each other.

Me: "I can't sing!"
Him: "Yes you can. I've heard you."
*unladylike snort* "Love isn't blind; it's deaf!"

Several weeks later, driving down the road with the radio on and I start singing along. Future hubby looks over. "Love isn't deaf anymore." *smile*

This experience is one of many relating to my (dis)ability to sing. There was the middle school music teacher who asked me to please find something better to do with his time! Even earlier was the guy working his way through college by giving piano lessons that basically told my mom she was wasting her money in my case.

And then there are the comments by my son:
Age three. He tells me not to try and teach him a new song at bedtime. He'll wait until "Daddy can teach me the right way."
Age five. Out of the blue he declares, "If you were in the choir, they'd fire you."
Age nine. On the way home from church he asks me not to sing when I'm standing next to him in church. I cause him to go off key. He suggests I might want to just lip sync.

But I say to all who would seek to stiffle my voice, Scripture says: "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord."

And now excuse me while I go sing along with Sara Groves as she sings "Painting Pictures in Egypt" which is my current favorite.

Thankful Thursday Thirteen

Not much of Thursday left, but I didn't want to let the chance go by without sharing just a few of the things for which I'm thankful:

The time I was able to spend with my daughter this past week and a half. She came home for a few days over Spring break and then I went back to Indiana with her. Fun times!

The family get-together on Sunday afternoon. I know I mentioned how much fun we had in a previous post, but it bears repeating :-)

The good connections we were able to make with pastors at a church on Sunday evening and at the IFCA Northern Indiana Regional meeting on Tuesday.

A hubby who is funny, helpful, kind, hard-working, godly, loving, giving... I'm blessed with one very special guy!

SUNSHINE! I am always surprised by the difference a little sunshine makes after the long, gray days of winter here in the Midwest.

Finally finishing the monthly reports for our mission AND my curriculum vitae (needed for our VISA application for Argentina). All the fun with my daughter sorta put me behind with the paperwork.

The ladies I've "met" through the Ultimate Blog Party. Haven't been able to visit many blogs yet, but figure I can keep working my way through the list as I do have time :-)

An amazing church family -- they are so encouraging!

My sewing buddies who inspire me, make me laugh, and bless me with their friendship.

Books! I love, love, love to read and so books will always be on my Thankful List :-)

Biblical Ministries Worldwide, the mission helping us get to Argentina. They truly exemplify servant leadership and I heart ALL the folks at the home office.

Shoes that feel comfortable from the very first second I put them on and never rub my ankles: Rebok Princess tennis shoes.

Dark Chocolate. Need I say more?

HULU! I read about this on several blogs and checked it out this evening. Wow, this offers TV shows that are all over the map. From old episodes of The Partridge Family to the first episode of Canterbury's Law that aired just the other night. And they have movies, too.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Not-So-Annual Big Birthday Bash

Around the time my first child was born, I became aware of the trend for really big kid birthday parties. And to be honest, I just couldn't see the point. What two year old is going to remember that 35 people showed up to celebrate his birthday? Yeah, yeah, yeah, you've got it on video and you can show him and say, "Remember when..." But honestly, he will NOT remember it at all.

Besides which, parties are expensive and time consuming to plan. I love to throw a party but EVERY.SINGLE.YEAR?! Not so much.

So hubby and I talked it over and decided most birthdays would be pretty low-key with family and maybe a couple of friends. Except every five years we'd throw a big blow out of a party. Which is great except my kids were born five years apart. So guess who got to throw TWO big parties every five years? Coulda timed that one better.

Anyway, overall it worked out great. And I would highly recommend a similar plan for anyone who's just starting their family.

Now another thing...we never had the money to throw parties at Chuck E. Cheese's or the skating rink or wherever. There's nothing wrong with a good old-fashioned party at home (or the park) with homemade goodies and games. More work, yes. But remember, I only did this every five years! And creativity goes a long way towards having a unique and memorable event.

Their fifth birthday parties I organized myself. For their 10th birthdays, I let the kids decide what kind of party they'd like. My son decided to do a reverse-kidnapping party wherein we "kidnapped" a bunch of his buddies (their moms knew what was going down) early in the morning when they were still in their pjs, and we had sort of a pirate theme going on with the games and food. Our daughter (who is now a communications major in college I might add) wanted a commercial themed party. As in TV commercials. In the invitation we asked every kid to come prepared with a skit advertising their favorite toy, food, whatever. For the game where the kids competed to be the best used car salesman, we picked up a plaid polyester suit at a thrift store along with a cowboy hat for them to wear while following the script from a real-life commercial that everyone had seen for a local dealership.

You get the idea. Brainstorm with the kids and you'll come up with unique, crazy, wonderful ideas. (Our daughter's combined high school open house with a good friend had a Napoleon Dynamite theme and was SO MUCH FUN!)

Both our kids turned 15 overseas. We were visiting Argentina when our son hit fifteen. Daughter celebrated her 15th birthday during our year in Uganda. Big trips = Big expense = No big party. They were totally cool with that. For them, traveling was a huge treat and more than made up for the lack of a party.

But to assuage the guilt I felt anyway (it's a Southern thing; we're big on guilt) I threw surprise parties when they turned 17. And that, my friends, was the end of my birthday party throwing. Done, finished, finito.

Now I throw bridal showers (someday baby showers!) and such :-)

And for more helpful hints on various and sundry topics, skip on over to Rocks In My Dryer for this week's Works For Me Wednesday. Lots of ladies with lots of ideas!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Monday Musings

Yesterday was the least exhausting Sunday we've had in a long time, visiting churches within an hours drive. So that was nice. What was even nicer was having a "family day".

We're at our daughter's for a week, and our son and his wife came down to join us yesterday afternoon. My DIL brought yummy ham and bean soup AND cornbread. Ahhh, life is good :-)

We played games after lunch and laughed so much. First we tried a new game they'd recently bought called "ImaginIFF..." and then a round of "Apples to Apples" which we've played before. I learned that if I were a dance I'd be the "Hokey Pokey". Not quite sure how to take that!

I get most of my news online. We quit getting the newspaper ages ago and unless we're home AND remember to turn the TV on at 6:30 p.m. we don't get the television news either. I find myself drawn to the bizarre, like this article. And did anyone else read about the Stiletto Stampede in Amsterdam last week? Weird!

Our daughter was home over spring break for a few days, and when she had to come back for work, I came with her. She started working in an upscale restaurant a few weeks ago and is still learning the menu. To help out, she's been bringing home two tapas a night 'cause she says it's easier to remember the food when she's seen and tasted it. I'm all for helping her learn! The duck with blueberry and green peppercorn chutney was amazing, as was the pork with strawberries and balsamic reduction. I'm starting to drool just thinking about it.

This is a perfect job for daughter, who is total foodie. She once said that our family spends a lot of time making food, eating food, or talking about it. And she's quite daring about trying new things these days, which is odd considering she was my picky eater when she was little. Our policy was always that the kids had to try everything and we gave them small portions. Our son would eat anything while the daughter was finicky. But I guess consistency in the battle won out, and now she finds food an adventure! She said her dream job would be that of a food/restaurant critic for a big city newspaper. Hopefully her pursuit of a degree in communications will help make that happen. And in the meantime she can enjoy a job where she gets to try interesting food on a regular basis.

Our son and his wife are also foodies. Both of them like to cook and try new things. And the DIL likes to bake and is really good at it. She made me a birthday cake two years ago that was so pretty I didn't want to cut into it. But hey, it was chocolate so I did anyway :-) Mmmmm, chocolate cake with raspberry filling and a chocolate ganache frosting ringed with fresh raspberries. Just a minute while I get a napkin to wipe off the drool.

Yeah, I guess you could say my daughter was absolutely right about us spending a lot of time on the subject of food :-)

I've come a long way, baby! When I got married, the only thing I knew how to cook was Hamburger Helper. Wanting to impress my new husband, I'd go to the library and check out gourmet cookbooks and attempt to actually make some of the recipes. Hubby affectionately remembers that time not as gourmet but "gormee". There were a few occasions when he [gently] suggested we go to Burger King instead. Bless his heart. Well, he survived and so did I, and over the years I've learned enough to successfully navigate my way through most recipes. At least I know enough to NOT tackle certain ones!

The Ultimate Blog Party has been fun! What an interesting and diverse bunch of bloggers :-) With 1054 (last time I checked) participating, this is the biggest group I've been in for a long time. I've been blessed, encouraged, laughed myself silly, and just plain enjoyed reading different ladies share their hearts. And now I'm going to finish this up and go check out some more of their blogs. Hasta la vista!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Easy Tiramisu

Last night we had a little celebration in honor of my BIL's birthday. Sort of last minute planning so I made a simple but very yummy dessert: Tiramisu

I've used a variety of recipes over the years, and it can get pretty complicated. But I found this VERY EASY recipe online yesterday and quite honestly, it's my favorite version so far.

Tiramisu is my family's ABSOLUTELY FAVORITE dessert, bar none. So I'm happy to share this new easy recipe with my interpeeps as part of Saturday Stirrings over at It Coulda Been Worse :-)

Easy Tiramisu

1 lb. low fat cream cheese (you can use regular if you don't mind the calories but DO NOT use fat free; tried that, not pretty)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
20 lady's fingers (a light, oblong Italian cookie with powdered sugar on one side)
OR: pound cake cut into ½ inch thick slices
2-3 Tablespoons cocoa powder to dust
1 ½ to 2 cups of prepared very strong coffee
2 Tablespoons sugar
shavings of dark chocolate to top

Chill whipping cream and bowl.
Mix coffee and sugar and chill.
Whip the whipping cream until it reaches stiff peaks.
Mix cream cheese and sugar in medium bowl until smooth. (Add more sugar as desired.)
Fold in the whipped cream to create the cheese mixture.
Soak lady fingers (or pound cake slices) in coffee for a couple seconds, rotating to coat all sides. Place one layer on bottom of an 8x8-in. pan.
Spread half the cheese mixture on top. Smooth with a spatula or spoon.
Sift half the cocoa powder on surface of layer.
Apply second layer of lady fingers (or pound cake) and remaining cheese.
Sift remaining cocoa powder and top with chocolate shavings.
Cover in plastic wrap and chill until ready to serve.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Let's Have A Party!

I'm so glad you could join me! How exciting to be part of THE ULTIMATE BLOG PARTY hosted by 5 Minutes For Mom. Such fun to surf the interweb for some new buddies :-) As we get ready to move overseas, I can see these connections becoming my life-line at times, when I'm homesick, frustrated with learning a new language, or just in need of some laughs.

On my next birthday I'll hit the half century mark [but not until later in the year; much, much later] and instead of being all settled and matronly like I expected, I've just finished giving away all my furniture and I'm packing up my favorite pillow, about 500 books, my sewing machine and fabric stash and moving to South America.

Oh, and I'll take Hubby along, too. :-) Seriously, for him it's kinda like going home. He grew up in Argentina, living there the first 20 years of his life. He'll be able to slide right back into the language and culture.

Me. Not so much. Two years of college-level Spanish and I can barely speak kindergarten Spanish. But as Hubby is apt to say, I like to talk too much NOT to learn!

Why are we going? 'Cause God said to, that's why! No, He didn't write it down anywhere. But He did make it clear that's His plan for us. we go... hopefully in the next few months. Been getting ready for a while -- like years.

We're an ordinary American couple. We met at college, got married, had 2 kids. Our kids turned out remarkably well, considering all the mistakes we made! :-) And like everyone else, we're muddling along the best we can.

In the course of our almost 29 years of marriage, we've lived in four states and Hubby has held jobs ranging from sales to houseparenting to construction. And all along we've been active in the local church. The past 11 years Hubby's served as a bi-vocational pastor and we also spent one year volunteering with a ministry to orphans in Uganda, East Africa.

We've learned a lot of lessons along the way, primarily that it's not so much what we can do for God, but what God can do through us. We're pretty "puney" in and of ourselves [puney is a good southern word meaning small, weak, insufficient]. So it's a good thing it's all about Him and not about us!

I love to read, quilt, read, eat chocolate, read, spend time with family and friends, read... And I have no literary taste. I'll read just about anything except scifi and romance novels. My greatest cultural hurdle will be minimal access to books. In a language I can read, I mean. Hence the 500 plus books I'm taking with me. And thank the Good Lord for and eBay so I can continue to feed my addiction. I'll probably spend more on postage than on the actual books. But hey, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

I look forward to blogging my experiences of living in another country. Having done this short-term in Africa, I know others are amused by my cultural faux pas and I'm not above poking a little fun at myself. "Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained." (John Powell)

Those Osmonds Can Sing!

While the rest of my family went to a very funny play tonight, I and my migraine stayed home. I kicked back and enjoyed the Osmond's 50th Anniversary special on PBS. Thems some good times. I'd forgotten what amazing harmony they have! It was a little weird seeing all the cotton heads on the stage. Donnie and Marie don't look their age (in my opinion) but the rest sure do. We'll talk more about this tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Balancing the whole parenting adult children dilemma

Shannon over at Rocks In My Dryer is hosting a backwards edition of Works For Me Wednesday, which means we get to ask the questions. Mine has to do with parenting adult children. How do we know what is okay and what is too much?

This is a question I've struggled with since transitioning from just plain Mom to Mom of adult children, one of whom is now married.

I don't want to be the dreaded nosy-bossy-wicked mother-in-law but at the same time, I want to be there when they need/want me. I like to give gifts and am pretty accomplished at sniffing out great deals. But this is where the dilemma comes in: What is okay and what is too much?

Some of you may have already gone through this and can offer some sage advice.

Some of you are on the other end, and can share from the adult child perspective what you think.

ALL ideas and suggestions appreciated!

Monday, March 3, 2008

I Am A Material Girl

Quilting has been my "thing" for a number of years but now it's taking up more of my time. Not just the doing of it, but thinking about it, too. I've started an "idea" book for art quilts with sketches, notes, graphics and pictures... AND I have a binder full of patterns and photos for more traditional quilts. So many quilts, so little time!

Several techniques learned from Simply Quilts on HGTV and Quilting Arts magazine motivated me to try some new things. Success with those projects has just tickled me to no end. I'm especially pleased with my little rooster wall quilt. Although I'm also extremely pleased with progress on the African memory quilts. I just wish I could work faster! But I want to do a good job, so am forcing myself to take it slow.

My obsession with fabric, and the collecting thereof for many years, means I have a sizeable stash with pretty much anything I need. Except with a fabricaholic, you can never have enough, so the stash continues to grow. With a much smaller budget (okay, so there is NO budget for this hobby) I buy less, and I buy smart; clearance racks or coupons pretty much dictate what I get. I find myself looking at what other people are wearing and thinking how I would use it in a quilt (as long as I don't start trying to take the shirt off your back...) But yeah, I am a Material Girl and I live in a Material World.

And now I'm gonna go think about what to do next on my daughter's African memory quilt. It needs something, just not sure what.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Oh Happy Days!

I'm pretty excited because Darling Daughter is coming home for a few days! She's on spring break and was able to get a few days off work. She's driving home tonight after her shift ends.

I've cleared my calendar as much as possible so I can spend LOTS of time with her :-) We don't have anything specific planned; it'll just be great to hang out.

AND the joy doesn't end when she has to go back, 'cause I'm going with her! Hubby will follow on Saturday and we'll spend several days in Indiana. That Tuesday there's an IFCA pastors meeting in Berne and on Wednesday we're going to chapel at Grace College to hear Gracia Burnham speak.

Gracia, you may recall, wrote In The Presence of My Enemies a few years ago. She and her husband, Martin, were missionaries in the Philippines and, while celebrating their anniversary, they were kidnapped and held by terrorists for about a year. Martin was killed when the military mounted a rescue operation. She also wrote To Fly Again: Surviving the Tailspins of Life which I haven't read but want to in the near future.

This week we received an e-mail from good friends in Uganda. Michael and Margaret were on staff at Kasana Children's Center the first six months we were there but left to pioneer a children's ministry in a predominantly Muslim area. Now Michael is training pastors in rural areas of Uganda under the auspices of Veritas College. This beautiful family blessed us so much during our time in Uganda! They often had us over for a meal or visit; Michael and Ivan spent many hours together studying and thinking about how to effectively equip others to teach God's Word; and they were a constant source of encouragement.

Gracia's story. Michael and Margaret's story. We all have a story, but it's really not ours. It's His. What He's doing. What He's accomplishing. And that blesses me.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Honey Mustard Chicken - Yum!

In honor of Saturday Stirrings over at It Coulda' Been Worse, here's a family favorite that's also fairly quick and easy:

Honey Mustard Chicken
1/2 cup liquid honey
1/4 cup dijon mustard
1/2 t. curry powder
2 T. melted butter
4 boneless chicken breasts
bread crumbs to coat
salt and pepper

Combine honey, mustard, curry powder and butter. Coat each piece of chicken with this mixture, then roll in bread crumbs. Salt and pepper to taste. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

Easy to double, triple, whatever, depending on the size of your family. Takes about 5 minutes to put together and 45 minutes to bake, so less than an hour from start to finish.