Thursday, April 28, 2011


My baby is turning 8 in 4 days!!!  Reflecting on this boys' life, the blessing that he is, has brought back all sorts of memories, lessons I thought I learned...One such remembered tonight.

It was Miles' 5th birthday, and we were gonna do it up BIG!  He put together a guest list (and in addition, invited every grocery bagger, librarian, postal worker he came in contact with for weeks...)  He requested a green dragon cake with striped wings, that tasted like a lemon.  The big day came, and we had a living room full of loved ones ready to partay!  Tractor rides given.  
this is jack, age 4 - how cute is he?!
Flower pots painted.  Piñata busted.  Green dragon cake with striped wings that tasted like a lemon devoured.  

The day was a success.

...Or so I thought.  As I was tucking him in that night, I was recounting how much fun it was to celebrate his life.  He sat up, looked at me and said:
But mom, you're my best friend, and you didn't get to color with me all day.

Oh, ouch.
My mind raced through how much I did for him.  How did he think I could fit coloring in with all that I had to prepare?  Did he not see I was 7 months pregnant?  He had no idea how late I was up frosting that dragon cake!  
Didn't matter.  What mattered to him was I was busy.  Too busy to color.  Too busy to be with.

Fast forward 3 years to April 26, 2011.  
Last night, I'm pulling a bed sheet out from underneath a sleeping Jack to sew into a Jedi Knight costume for Miles.  (Can't wait to share pics!)  Somewhere in there, I start to hear...Busy, busy, busy, Martha, Martha, Martha!

Still the same old Martha that needs to die within me.  Not just the Martha Stewart comment I referred to before, but an ancient sister: But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made...Martha, Martha! You worry and fuss about a lot of things.  But there's only one thing you need. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken from her.  Luke 10.40-42

Obi-Wan costume is wrapped.  Birthday banner is sewn and hung.  
After another jarring, yet gentle reminder,
I continue to learn to choose what is better.

Monday, April 25, 2011

oh, happy day!

I'm enjoying this rainy Monday more than I normally enjoy rain, or Mondays.  It feels good to sit down here with yellow tulips flopping every which-way, sipping some indian chai, pulling some great memories off our camera from the weekend,  my heart warmed from slowing time down a bit to enjoy these days, and soak in the moment. 

Saturday morning, we headed to the house to put down some roots.
I am excited to see what this tree blooming is...dogwood?  cherry maybe?
2 boys are rather pleased with the bug/worm selection 
they have found at our old/new house.
How special is a little boy eager to pick new flowers for his momma? 
(except when he thinks they're radishes, and they are really tulip bulbs :)
Looks like the "radishes" survived just fine...

We planted our free "earth day" trees, thinking they would make good Christmas trees in 5 years, wondering what life will be in 5 years...

And, this is what I saw in my side-view mirror,
and I laughed all the way home.

We uncovered some beauties as we dug out the overspill of the dumpster.

Sunday turned out to be just our family, as Andy's sister's family didn't make it.  Our boys get in the mode of having people and going places that they kept asking who was coming.  They were disappointed when I continued to reply no one.  But in the end, I think it was okay...

After another failed morel mushroom hunt, the forager in me went for the dandelions.  This took me back to childhood.  Did you ever do this as a kid?  I remember making "salad" out of weeds (not eat it, just pretend). I keep hearing of the many health benefits of dandelion greens.  
So, I gave it a try.  Rinse them really well.  Saute with some olive oil.  Sprinkle on coarse salt and balsamic vinegar after it is wilted, but still vibrant color.
Turns out it is much better for you than it tastes (well, because I'm not sure it could be worse :)  But that's okay.  I'll take a bitter aftertaste for the sake of nutrition.  These guys are just worth it to me.
Before you fertilize, consider you have a salad right in your front yard!

Thursday, April 21, 2011


and other stuff that makes me smile...
free coffee at starbucks tomorrow, april 22!!!  
just bring in your own travel mug and they will fill it, for earth day.
last year's chives have sprung - don't they just look like they're saying TA DA!
this song Andy sent to me, a friend like him :)
jude singing "head and shoulders, knees and crocs" 
jack sharing his pop rocks with jude (and his reaction to the fizzing in his mouth)
So much more...spontaneous hugs, more cowbell, t-ball starting again, my first traditional passover meal, the 1st week of men working on our house, level floors! 

But the true joy in my heart...
Has nothing to do with circumstance or this world around me, that can seem like a house of cards, how quickly life can change.  If my confidence, my hope, my joy is based on the stuff of this world, how will it not crumble?  
Has everything to do with God's love for us. 
Displayed most powerfully on the cross, the reason we remember Good Friday.  Jesus taking the punishment for our sins, that we may have peace with God, that we may know His fellowship, His favor.  
How much we have to celebrate!

Andy's sister's family is coming for Easter!!!  
I wanted to make pavlova for Easter dinner, but every time I have tried, it has failed miserably. But I love the stuff so much, I could not give up.  So, last night a group was coming over - I decided to try again.  I'm so glad I did!
The key, I believe, is:
1. a kitchen-aid.  (the 1st time I tried was with a hand-held, and after 10+ minutes of beating, my arm fell off)
2. room-temperature eggs. 
3. a good recipe.  

Makes 6 - I doubled for the larger group.
2 large egg whites, room temperature  (KEEP THE YOLKS and make this.  It's so good!!)
8 tablespoons sugar, divided  (one of the few recipes I use white sugar - not powdered, but the finer the crystal, the better)
3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon distilled vinegar

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 275°F. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper. Using glass as aid, trace six 2 1/2-inch circles on parchment, spacing 2 to 3 inches apart; turn parchment over.  Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in large bowl until soft peaks begin to form. With mixer running, gradually add 6 tablespoons sugar. Whisk 2 tablespoons sugar and cornstarch in small bowl. With mixer running, gradually beat sugar-cornstarch mixture into meringue. Continue beating meringue until stiff glossy peaks form. Beat in vinegar. Divide meringue among parchment paper circles, spreading to fill completely (meringues will be about 1 1/2 inches high). Using back of spoon, form slight depression in center of each meringue.  Bake meringues until beige and dry to touch, about 20 minutes. Turn off oven and prop door open slightly with wooden spoon. Let meringues cool in oven until completely dry, about 1 hour. Transfer to rack to cool completely.
DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

Source: Adapted from Bon Appetit.

I topped with whipped coconut milk cream (a little honey added for sweetness) and blueberries.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

introducing the newest addition to our home...

The hunt for the perfect bathroom vanity turned out to be right in front of our eyes!  I checked craigslist daily, had my list of antique shops in surrounding areas ready to tackle, when the name of a place in town came to mind one morning.  I packed up Jude to check it out, and there were THREE we would have been happy with.  This was our favorite, and we got a really good deal!  (I think it's from the 1850's - any appraisers out there know?)  
We will chop off the legs to make it the right height for a vessel sink.  
So, now we are looking for a little something like this on top,

Kraus White Rectangular Ceramic Sink KCV-121 and Ramus Faucet
something like this on the bottom,
Stellar Tile - Bits - 3/4" Hexagon Porcelain Mosaic Tile in White
something like this beside, for trash,

something like this for the knobs,

and maybe a little subway tile on the wall.

I like aspects of this picture: the mirror, the sink, the simplicity, white honeycomb tile paired with white subway tile and dark grout on both.  But it's a bit too stale for me.  Throw in some bright curtains, an old chunky dresser, a creamy color on the walls, and we're in business!  
Really, anything will be an improvement :)

Before I continue our bathroom hunt, I have a birthday boy turning EIGHT in 12 days.  I have a couple of these to make...
Personalized Superhero towel
And, most definately more of these to make...
Jalapeños cut in half, de-seeded, stuffed with goat cheese, topped with prosciutto.  Baked at 350 until it looks like this.  You could substitute cream cheese if you don't like goat cheese.  I never thought I did until I had these. (Thanks Robyn :)  Now I'm hooked! 

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Come support Chris and Evie Jones, heading to Papua New Guinea with New Tribes Mission...6-9 pm.  
I'll be there.  
And so will these...

Friday, April 15, 2011

chicken tortilla soup

But FIRST!!!
Last week, I saw this idea.  The result has been most eye-opening, humbling, freeing, healing.  So, I had to share...
The idea is to make a "sorry box," a box of repentance, where we write or draw things we want to say sorry for.  I told the boys this is just between them and God, but they have chosen to share some.  As I was explaining, one boy lunged for a pen and paper and wrote "I stol a cat" and stuck it in the box.  Now that happened 4 months ago (a stuffed cat from Goodwill :), but that is a burden he has been carrying.  Something he wants to erase, but can't.  So, we confess. We name.  He already knows.  But when we uncover our sin to Him, He covers it over with His grace.  With His forgiveness.  With His love.  Because of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross for us, we can have...get this...peace with God.  
By His wounds, we are healed!

We will keep adding to the box until Easter, when we will throw it away to symbolize it. is. finished.  Our sins are forgiven, and God remembers them no more!

To share this idea with the boys, I spent some time looking up verses to explain this to them.  Here are some that have brought me to tears.  I hope you will take the time to read of His amazing love for you.  

How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart?  Cleanse me from these hidden faults.  Keep me from deliberate sins!  Don't let them control me.  Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin.  Psalm 19.12-13

People who cover their sins will not prosper.  But if they confess and forsake them, they will receive mercy.  Proverbs 28.13

When I refused to confess my sin, I was weak and miserable, and I groaned all day long.  Finally, I confessed all my sins to You and stopped trying to hide them...and You forgave me!  All my guilt is gone!  Psalm 32.3,5

If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just and will forgive us and cleanse us from every wrong.  1 John 1.9

He personally carried away our sins in His own body on the cross so we can be  dead to sin and live for what is right.  You have been healed by His wounds!  1 Peter 2.24

You were dead because of your sins and because of your sinful nature was not yet cut away.  Then God made you alive with Christ.  He forgave all your sins. He canceled the record that contained the charges against us.  He took it and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ's cross.  Colossians 2.13-14

I will forgive their wrongdoings, and I will never again remember their sins.  Hebrews 8.12, Jeremiah 31.34

As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our sins from us.  Psalm 103.12

Lord, if you kept a record of our sins, who could ever survive?
But You offer forgiveness, that we might learn to fear You.  Psalm 130.3-4

But He was pierced for our transgressions, 
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him,
and by His wounds we are healed.  Isiaiah 53.5 

All praise to Him who loves us 
and has freed us from our sins
by shedding His blood for us!  
Revelation 1.5

Because I promised...There are so many variations to this recipe you could do.  Use rotisserie chicken if you don't have to be GF.  I put *another chicken option* below.  Red peppers would be delish.  You could leave out the corn and add another can of black beans.  You can add in corn tortillas cut into strips.  Use what you have, and have fun!
Chicken Tortilla Soup
2 Grilled Split Chicken Breasts (Meat taken off bone and shredded - I did this the night before when we had leftover grilled chicken)
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 cup Diced Onion
1/2 cup Diced Green Bell Pepper
Red Bell Pepper would be amazing too, just didn't have any.
3 cloves Garlic, Minced

2 teaspoons Cumin
1/2 teaspoon Chili Powder
1 teaspoon Salt
1 can (10 Oz.) Rotel Tomatoes And Green Chilies (FYI: I used the Aldi mexican diced tomatoes and the can was 14 oz. :)
32 ounces Chicken Stock
3 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
4 cups Hot Water
1 can (15 Oz.) Black Beans, Drained

1 cup Frozen Corn
1 cup Chopped Cilantro
FOR THE GARNISHES:  Sour Cream, Diced Avocado, Grated Monterey Jack Cheese, Cilantro

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pot over medium high heat. Add onions, green pepper, and minced garlic. Stir and begin cooking, then add cumin and salt. Stir to combine, then add shredded chicken and stir.  Pour in Rotel, chicken stock, tomato paste, water, black beans, and corn. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes, uncovered.  
Add cilantro.  Check seasonings, adding more if needed.  Ladle into bowls, then top with sour cream, diced avocado, grated cheese, more cilantro - whatever you like.

*Another Chicken Option*
2 Whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
Olive Oil
Garlic Powder

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Drizzle olive oil on chicken breasts, then sprinkle a small amount of spice on both sides.  Place chicken breasts on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until chicken is done. Use two forks to shred chicken. 

We enjoyed this for a few lunches this week, along with some grilled corn quesadillas.  By enjoy, I mean yes it's delish.  But, I love my lunches with these little buddies, and find joy in any shortcut to be more here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

spring break in snapshots

Well, I said it wouldn't be tropical or adventurous...But I forgot that travelling with my 4 boys is always an adventure.  And then it got up to 80 degrees!

There is lots I could've captured that I didn't.  I have several sweet moments tucked away in my mind.  Much of our time was taking Jude to see a dr. to treat some food allergies.  It turned out to be a meaningful time with family.  A change of routine is always refreshing to my spirit.

Wonder where he gets his silliness from...

I cannot talk highly enough of Dr. Cheryl.  The Lord has used her to help our family greatly.  Jude has been dealing with diarrhea on and off for several months, is mostly gluten-free, and has had every test our dr. knows (parasites, celiac...), so we decided it was time to take this route.  We are praying his tummy heals - he was allergic to dairy, gluten, brown rice, soy, white sugar, red dye (to name a few...)  She does a method called NAET, involving acupressure to treat him for his specific allergens.  
More info here, if you're interested.

Pal-ing around in between treatments at some of our favorite stops

A pretty great waiting room, I'll say (play fort behind the dr. office)

Yay for cousins :)

The hunt for the perfect bathroom vanity is ON!

lots of time in the car =
lots of rows knit +
a few double-shots on ice with soy and 1 pump classic

It is good to get away.
Partly because it makes home seem so much more special.  
Laying on a blanket outside, staring at budding trees and the sky above.  
Enjoying afternoon hikes and mushroom-hunting.
Loving the fresh scent of hair that's been outside in the sun all day.  
Cuddling up for evening chats on the porch swing with some new Yerba Matte from  Trader Joe's.

Spring Break 2011 brought to you by Android.

Getting away has helped me see the need to process how I want to spend my time in the coming months.  I get a little "Martha Stewart on Red Bull" as Andy likes to call it.  You see my profile.  I like to do it all.  It's all fun to me.  But all of it is too much.  And with tackling this house renovation, something's gotta give.  I am just not sure what.

For a simple time-saver, I grilled double the amount of chicken yesterday and turned the leftovers into a super-fast chicken tortilla soup tonight (recipe this week!)  I'm going to start to cook double of every meal and freeze one for a quick dinner in the coming weeks.  That's a start...

But, tonight I blew all the time I saved on dinner and made homemade nutella.  Walk into our gutted house and see that making nutella probably isn't high on the priorities right now...  
See.  I really do have a problem!

I'm not even going to share the recipe in case you have a problem too.  
Andy also says "You know, they sell that in America now."  But in case you want to try homemade, stop in for some.  Hanging out with friends will always be high on the list :)