Saturday, March 27, 2010

Deb Organized Her Desk!

Remember Deb from Just Short of Crazy?

She's the gal who wanted a few tips on organizing her desk.  Well, I took a whole day, shirked my educational responsibilities (**dreamy**) and made some suggestions.

A few days later I received an e-mail and photo of Deb's hard work!

With just a bit of tequila elbow grease Deb's desk went from this:

To this:

The only "out of pocket" expense were the shelves--baskets and bins were sitting around her house.  Deb did mention that she eventually would like co-ordinating containers but is going to have to save up (couldn't we all spend hundreds on leather bins and fabric drawer!).

Way to go Deb!  Thanks for sharing your success with us.  If you want to read the full story, check it out here!

Honey-Pepper Pork Loin

This is a great fancy treat.  Serve it with harvest stuffing in the fall or asparagus and tomatoes in the summer!


    2-3 pound boneless pork loin roast 1/4 c honey 2 T mustard (I like spicy mustard but dijon or regular work great too!) 2T(more or less to taste) crushed black pepper corns  (use MUCH LESS if you don't love pepper) dash of salt 1/2 t thyme 1 T parsley **sometimes I thinly slice garlic and then slip the slivers into tiny holes cut on the top of the roast--only do this if you are a garlic lover!**

Preheat oven to 325

1. Lightly grease a roasting pan and put roast in it.
2. In small dish combine honey and all other ingredients. Mix well.
3. Brush roast with about half of the mixture.
4. Bake for 1 hour
5. Brush on remaining mixture
6. Bake another 30-45 minutes until meat is 160.

Number of Servings: 8

If freezing, make marinade and spread half over loin.  Freeze in freezer bag.  Put rest of marinade in small ziploc and freeze with loin.  Thaw and bake as directed.  Brush with remaining marinade as directed.

Friday, March 26, 2010

ABC Verses

A few weeks ago at MOPs a group of little kindergardeners came in and performed for us their version of the ABCs.  Rather than just doing the traditional song, the kids recited a verse for each letter they'd learned of the alphabet.

I was blown away.  Here were little 5 year olds with more verses memorized than I know!  Momentarily I was convinced I needed to send my children to the school that these kids went to.  But then I remembered that educating my children in the way of the Lord is MY part of my commission.

So, I did some internet searching on ABC verses and found some of my favorites and here is a list I came up with.

M.E. and I both have A memorized!

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23
Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10
Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Matt.11:28
Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Ps:37:4
Encourage one another, while it is still Today. Heb. 3:13
"For I know the plans I have for you", declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
"God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1
"Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away." Matt.24:35
"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except thru Me." John 14:6
Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever. Hebrews 13:8
"Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 1 Cor. 8:1
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." Deuteronomy 6:5
"Make music in your heart to the Lord...always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ." Ephesians 5:19
"No eye has seen, nor ear heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him." 1 Cor 2:9
O, God, you are my God: early will I seek you, for my soul thirsts for you. 
--- Psalm 63:1
"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27
Quench not the spirit; … hold fast what is good. 
--- 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21
"Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him." Psalm 37:7
"Surely, I am with you always." Matthew 28:20
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight." Proverbs 3:5-6
Understanding is a fountain of life to those who have it. Proverbs 16:22
Verily, verily, I say to you, He that 
believes in me has everlasting life.
--- John 6:47
"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." Psalm 27:14
eXcept a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.  John 3:3
Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep.  Psalm 36:5-6
"....Zion, do not let your hands hang limp. The Lord, your God, is with you, he is mighty to save." Zephaniah 3:16, 17
I know that my children might not totally understand what they are memorizing (I feel this way about multiplication tables), but one day they will and these verses of hope, love, and encouragement will be burned on their hearts.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Things I Love--Soup Bar recipe that feeds 15+

So I love, love to entertain. The themes, the grocery shopping, the evites ... it's all very exciting.

One thing I struggle with, however, is what to feed everyone.  Remember how easy it used to be to throw a party when you were a teen?  Pizza, popcorn, chips and pop.  Wa-la!

It's not so easy anymore.  Now you have to think about who's vegan or vegetarian, who's gluten-free, who's sugar free, who has a nut allergy, who is lactose intolerant, and who eats only kosher.  I could go on and on.  Really, I could.

It is no problem to address these food preferences one at a time but what do you do when you need to address them all at once?

Case in point: Pax's dedication on Feb. 14, 2010.

Dietary preferences to be considered:

  • kosher/all organic
  • gluten-free
  • vegetarian/vegan
  • lactose intolerant
  • nut allergies
What I generally like to do for big parties is have some sort of bar: taco bar, baked potato bar, pizza/pasta bar ... but I found those ideas didn't really work this time.

Instead, I had a soup bar!  The premise--everyone fills their bowls with veggies, grains, and/or meats of their choice, pours a delicious vegan broth over it, and tops off the goodness with extra seasonings and cheeses.

The broth recipe easily feeds 15 but I wouldn't hesitate to double or triple it!  On the other hand, if you want this just for a small family, I'd half the recipe.

12 cups vegetable broth
6 cans (14.5 oz each) petite diced organic tomatoes (read the label to make sure they are gluten free)
3-4 t. chili powder
3-4 t. garlic powder (or 4-5 minced cloves)
3/4 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper

Throw everything into a pot.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until the flavors start to blend.

Now the fillers are the sides that people spoon into their bowls prior to putting the broth in.
Here are some fun sides (remember this is enough to feed 15+ people so make less or more as needed)

  • chopped broccoli/cauliflower
  • 4-6 green, red, yellow, or orange peppers--seeded and chopped
  • thawed: corn, peas, carrots
  • 10 oz sliced mushrooms
  • chopped onion (1 large)
  • chopped celery
  • sliced black olives
  • 4 cooked, diced potatoes
  • 4 servings (1 cup uncooked) brown rice, cooked
  • 1 lb. whole grain pasta (I used mini-penne), cooked
  • 2, 14 oz cans drained black beans
  • 2-4 c. cooked, cubed chicken
  • 1/2 lb, thinkly sliced ham
  • 1 pepperoni stick, cubed
  • 1 lb. browned Italian sausage
  • 1 lb crumbled bacon
  • 1 lb. browned hamburger

Once the broth is on, have these extra toppings out for guests to use at their discretion.

  • 2 cups each shredded cheeses: parmesan, mozzarella, swiss, cheddar, pepper jack
  • Chives
  • Sour cream
  • Tabasco sauce
  • Oregano/parsley/basil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Paprika
  • cumin
Set up:
Have a long counter set up in this order:

Serve with:
A large salad or raw veggies in dipping sauce.  I also made a batch of rolls (but this didn't help the gluten-free friends much).  Don't forget dessert (we went with brownies!)

How to make the soup:
One more time.

  1. Get a bowl
  2. Add fillers
  3. Ladle on soup broth
  4. Top with cheese and seasonings.
Sample Soup Combos:

Pizza soup:
onion, peppers, pepperoni, sausage, black olives, pasta and broth.  Top with mozzarella cheese and oregano.

Vegetable soup:
Onion, celery, corn, peas, carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, brown rice and broth. Top with parmesan.

Taco Soup:
Onion, ground beef, black beans, celery, and broth.  Top with cumin and pepper jack cheese.

Overall, this recipe went off without a hitch.  Guests raved.  I loved how easy it was to put together (really, open a bag of frozen corn, put in a bowl. Done).

I'll be using this recipe again and again. I LOVE it!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What I Think About--Keepin' it Real

A few years ago there was a corny little reality show that Matt and I got sucked into watching (and without a doubt, we would have won if we were on it!).

The show was Here Come the Newly Weds.  Basically the premise is to put a bunch of newlyweds together in one house, have them do marriage challenges, and then vote on who gets to stay.  It was pretty comical (especially since the real challenges come when you've been married for seven years and your son falls out of the crib at the same time your daughter pukes up corned beef and you've got to get up early in the morning for a meeting but you still pull together as a team to clean and love and comfort).

Anyhow, one of the couples were Cody and Dawn Freis, pictured below.  They were lovingly nicknamed "Ken and Barbie" by their peers.  Not hard to see why.   Now they aren't exactly my type (I prefer dark hair, green eyes, and smiles that aren't quite so large and toothy) but I think we can, in general, agree that they are a pretty good lookin' pair.  What this picture doesn't show is Dawn's "Barbie" body complete with long legs, thin waist, and big boobs.  Why am I going on and on about the Freis couple?  I have a point; I promise.

During one of the newlywed challenges, the brides had to find 5 things they would change about their appearance and they guys had to determine what their brides would choose (this is pretty dangerous territory).  The other women were not quite as attractive as Dawn and quickly chose their 5 flaws.  But so did Dawn.  In fact, for someone who looked so perfect, Dawn had no problem pointing out her imperfections.  The other women actually made comments that if Dawn had 5 flaws then they were really in trouble.

Don't we do this everyday?  

I can think of five women off the top of my head who always look good and put together, whose kids always behave, who seem to be so happy with their marriages, are confident about themselves, and are in line for the Mother of the Year Award. Do you know these women too?  The women you always compare yourselves to?  The women who, despite never meaning to, reduce your self-esteem to mere rubble just by having their hair and make-up on by 9:00 am?

At times, I feel like I'm the only one who is insecure and trying to gloss over my inadequacies.

Then I saw this.  My friend Molly, who has a black belt in keeping it real--really, she wore a green 1980s sequin prom dress with a white T-shirt and Argyle knee highs to work on St. Patrick's Day, showed me this video last Wednesday night during life group.

I'll admit that upon first seeing Katherine it's kinda hard to watch her.  I mean, here's a former model who is basically my age with serious health issues--troubles walking, missing a part of her brain, vocal problems, paralyzed face ... it's pretty heartbreaking in a world where what's on the outside is what "really" matters (sad but true).

But then you hear her perspective, that she is nothing more than the physical manifestation of what I most people feel.

She can't walk but who can walk and feels totally free?
She feels ugly but who is "normal" and feels beautiful?
She can barely talk but who can talk and feels truly understood?
She can't eat but who eats and is ever fully satisfied?


I needed this reminder that we all feel broken.  Even those moms who unknowingly make me feel like mush struggle too.

So why is it that we can't be real?  

Friday night my husband, Molly and I went to see the movie To Save a Life.  The acting isn't great.  The plot is predictable.  But my husband called it one of the most introspective movies he's ever seen.

The movie is basically about teenagers dying, literally, to be heard.  Everyone is acting in order to be accepted.  I'd like to write this off as teenage drama but adults do this too.  Everyday I want more, "need" more--I'm trying to impress so I'll feel accepted.  I refuse to be weak before others for fear of the scorn, ridicule, or judgement.  Even on this blog I'm dying to know that my thoughts resonate with someone else.  I hope my followers increase.  Do you do this?  Are you still trying to impress the popular kids at school like I am (15 years later!)?

Remember the Velveteen Rabbit and how he learned that nice houses, a smokin' hot body, being a part of the "in-crowd," good paying jobs, designer jeans and Cadillac Escalades love makes him real?  Do we lack love?  Is that why we can't be real?

I'm afraid we will never know love, from others or God, until we open up and are broken and vulnerable.  I believe we are meant to live in community but is it really community when we only celebrate together?  Is there some unwritten rule that our community of friends can only be about good stuff?  Did I miss the memo that we aren't supposed to let others see our weaknesses or know where we fall short?

When did it become okay to not be real? 

The scorn of "realness" is why we amass houses that are too big, eat too much, wear too much make-up, make ourselves too busy, obsess with our weight/looks/hair/boob size/whether or not we were invited to the party...  We are dying for someone to love us and say we are worthy and we will do anything to get it---even forgo our feelings.  We will sacrifice ourselves on the alter of acceptance.

This is not okay.

And that's why I think we have to be real with each other.  We must make it okay to be vulnerable and show our weaknesses because in doing so, we glorify God.  The Bible says that in our weaknesses, He is strong.  How can I show the world His strength if I won't show it my weaknesses?  How do I encourage someone to put their trust in Him when I don't do it?  How will I teach my children that God loves them as they are, for who they are if I don't believe it about myself?

There is something powerful about being real about who we are because if I'm so together that I don't need God or relationships with others than what's the point?!

If you are reading this blog thinking I'm the paragon of the perfect wife, woman, and mother, I hate to disappoint you.  If you were to come to my house you would see everything in order because I'm nuts.  My kids would be obedient.  My husband loving and doting.  But if you looked closer, you might see that the laundry is not done (which is why that door is closed), that the carpet is filled with dog hair (despite vacuuming several times a week), and the kitchen table needs wiped down (which I've given up on until Pax is 2).  If you talked to me you'd know that I'm struggling with some relationships (in-laws--are we legally bound to these people :o)  ?), that I've always battled with my looks (if only I had platinum blond hair and no muffin top!), and I have troubles controlling my mouth when I'm angry.  I'm not perfect.  There are places in my heart and life that I have a hard time surrendering.  I am broken.  But He is faithful to meet me where I fall short.

You know what's amazing about Katherine's story and the end of To Save a Life and even The Velveteen Rabbit?  It's restoration!  At the end these people open up, become vulnerable, and break down.  Their ugly comes through and ironically, that is what makes them beautiful.  That's what makes them inspirational and loved.  They lay it all on the table and say "I hope you still love me" and we do.  We love them MORE!

*Plot Spoiler* At the end To Save a Life the lead character is with his father.  They've had a bad relationship but they are spending time together--putting it back together.  The boy is being redeemed to his father.  And that's what will happen if we can be real.  If I can be real to you, if you can look past my crazies and my faults, if I can just BE, I will be redeemed to my Father.

And that's what I think keepin' it real is all about!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tuesday's Too Clean Tip--The OTHER ROOM bag

Have you ever done this?

You start to clean out your make-up drawer and after emptying the drawer of its contents you find a paper clip. So you leave the bathroom and go to your desk and put the paperclip in the paperclip cup.  Under the paperclip cup you find a reminder to call a friend. So you go get the phone and call your friend.  While you are talking on the phone you pull out your magazines so you can sort and organize them and find a dust bunny (or in my case, a dust sasquatch). So you get the broom and start to sweep.  As you sweep under your couch and out comes a nail file.  You put the broom to the side and walk into the bathroom to put the nail file back into your make-up drawer and on your way you end the phone conversation and hang up the phone.  When you walk into the bathroom, make up junk is all over the counter.  When you survey the rest of your house you find magazines strewn about the couch and a pile of dirt and hair in the middle of the floor.  All this mess because you wanted to find a better spot for your deodorant?  Are you kidding me?

This is the adult version of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie except it happens all to often and isn't quite so cute.

If this happens to you, let me offer you a suggestion.  Get an OTHER ROOM or box.

This can be a fancy fabric number or an old shoe box or plastic shopping sack.  You choose.  But next time you organize something (and remember to organize in small chunks never getting out more in one hour than you can put back in that hour) keep this bag/box by your side.  Whenever you come across something that doesn't belong in the room you're in, put it in the bag/box and later when you have completed your task, you can put the the stuff back in the room where it belongs.

When you clean out the bag, just put the items in the place where they go.  Don't overwhelm yourself organizing that space too.  If the desk is a mess, put the clip in its spot and move on.  Vow to come back to the desk when you have the time and energy to devote to it.

Why is it Tuesday's TOO clean tip?
A lovely follower contacted me to let me know that I was using the wrong TO in Tuesday's Too Clean Tip title.  The follower suggested I needed to use "TO" and is a TO DO list.  This is true.  However, I call this a "TOO CLEAN" tip because it is a "TO DO" but generally these are extra or excessive ideas from a crazy cleaner.  Thus, my play on words.  TOO is correct, just not grammatically :)

Monday, March 22, 2010

WORD family night

WORD Family Night

In this family night (or day) adventure, we are going to explain how the Bible can help us make decisions about life!

Focus Scripture:

Psalm 119:105
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

What to Do:

First, I suggest making a fun meal as a family.  Generally I like to make themed meals.  Since this theme is about the Word, let me suggest Alphabet Food Night!

During alphabet food night, make as many foods as you can using letters of the alphabet.

My suggestion:  Alphabet soup with apples and peanut butter, raw veggies and dip, and bread.  For dessert make a healthier banana split sundae

Apple slices
Celery Sticks
Carrot sticks
Green Pepper slices
French Break
Peanut Butter
Ranch dressing
Soup (Alphabet soup, no less)

For Dessert: Bananas, Strawberries, Yogurt, granola, pineapple chunks, cherries, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream!

Another option would be to pick one letter—say S—and make a meal of only things that start with that letter:
Spaghetti with squash and salad with strawberries for dessert.

Be creative and let your children help out in coming up with the menu.  And let your children help prepare the meal (even little ones will love putting forks on the table or washing produce) and clean up afterwards.

The main activity for the night is an obstacle course. 

Prior to starting family night, find a room and set up an obstacle course using ropes, blankets, furniture, boxes, pillows, etc.  Some ideas are to hop from one pillow to another, go through a blanket tunnel, crawl over a chair, etc.  Make the course appropriate for the age-level.

To do the obstacle course:
  1. Show your children the course with the lights on.
  2. Have your children go through the obstacle course IN THE DARK.  Time them.
  3. Now give your children a flashlight and have them go through the course with the light on.  Time them again.
  4. Discuss which was easier and why.
  5. Explain that God’s Word, the Bible, is like a flashlight because it guides us as we go.  It gives advice, helps us know what to prepare for, encourages us, and helps us not to be afraid.
  6. If your children want to, have them go through the course again just for fun. 

Other Activities:
There are lots of other fun “word” activities you can do, especially with older children.
  • Play Scrabble
  • Do Mad Libs
  • Go on an alphabet scavenger hunt (find one object for each letter of the alphabet).

Memorize the family night verse.
Pray together as a family.

About family night:

In my home, family night is an intentional time of fun and togetherness dedicated to learning about Jesus.  Not your style?  You can omit the Bible verses and discussions and enjoy the food and activities.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

What cookin' at my house this week? OAMC March 2010

My friend Debb is having her first baby soon so I am doing a huge Once a Month Cooking event to stock her freezer (and mine).

Here's what's cookin'!

            In white sauce~
            In red sauce (make as directed in white sauce recipe except pour red sauce over)
Chili-lime rubbed steak+
Asian flank steak*
Italian steak (simply pour bottle of Italian dressing over steak and freeze)
French Dips+
Chili (use recipe on back of seasoning packet)

Cheesey Chicken bundles*
Cranberry Chicken*
Hawaiian Chicken*
Orange Teriyaki Chicken*
Balsamic Chicken Thighs*
Spicy Honey Chicken+
Honey-lime chicken*
Chicken marsala*
Chicken lasagna*
Chicken Penne+

Honey pork chops*
Dijon pork loin*
Penne with sausage and tomatoes*
lasagna (use recipe on back of American Beauty lasagna noodle box)

*From Don't Panic Dinner's in the Freezer and More Don't Panic Dinner's in the Freezer
+From Our Best Bites (use magnifying glass to search for freezer meals or search by meal name, such as "spicy honey chicken."
~Recipe on this blog

Grocery List:

Grnd beef—8#


Flnk stk—8

Pork chops-6

Pork loin—2

Chix brsts--52

It. Sausage—4#
Chik thgs—2 pkgs
3 boxes unsalted butter

½ gallon whole milk

6 oz provolone

32 oz parm

2 bags cheddar cheese shredded

4 bags shred mozza cheese

chive/onion cream cheese (8oz)—4

2-15oz ricotta cheese

4 c. small curd cottage cheese

1 doz eggs

16 oz sour cream
Cream of mush soup—2

3—green chilis

2 large cans red enchilada sauce

2—kidney beans

2—pinto beans

6-14 oz diced tomatoes

3—15 oz tomato sauce

2—8oz tomato paste

1# whole berry cranberry sauce

2—16 oz pineapple slices

2—15 oz mandarin oranges

chicken broth (8 cups)

2 cans beef broth

Manicotti noodles—2

Bread crumbs

2-boxes onion soup mix

3# penne

Am beauty no-cook lasagna noodles--4

3 bags tortillas
Sundried tomatoes

Cider vinegar

Pasta sauce—4 large

2 low sodium soy sauce

white cooking wine

marsala wine

Lime juice

Italian dressing

Catalina Dressing (8oz)



3 heads garlic

2 containers sliced mushrooms

1 bag  yellow onion


fresh ground ginger

4-10 oz froz spinach

6 oz froz OJ


Saran wrap

Aluminum foil

40 quart zip bags

30 8x8 foil pans

gallon freezer bags
6pkg taco seasoning

kosher salt



ground ginger

Please note that these groceries reflect enough feed to make meals for 2 families with 2 adults.  You might need more depending on your family size.  Also, the list is not totally inclusive since I did not include items already in my pantry (like olive oil or flour)

Another great OAMC resource is Once a Month Mom