Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: Fair week is finally here! We take the rabbits for check in on Wednesday to Cal Expo and then the showmanship competition is Thursday. Friday is the breed show and also the day we will redeem our rides wristbands with the grandparents, (and probably stay until 10pm that night) then Saturday are a few fun rabbit competitions, then Monday is Rabbit Bowl. (Basically Jeopardy for kids with rabbit questions.) Whew!!

What I'm reading:
Please don't ask me that. I am so behind on my list! And it is already the end of May and I still have 4 books to get through plus the two I am trying to finish now.

What I'm listening to:
Bookworm singing a song about the order of the presidents, pages rustling and the bird chirping in the school room.

What we're learning:
We are taking a week off of formal schooling this week...yesterday I was thinking and realized this is the first week we have taken off since Christmas!

What I'm watching:
Last night my Sweetie and I watched Fireproof. It was a very thought provoking movie about marriage that made me think.

What's cooking:
Lots of crock pot meals this week. With going to the fair for 5 days and our last co-op on Wednesday, I need easy already-made meals.

What I'm buying:
I need to run out today and look for a white skirt for Bookworm. The kids have to wear their whites at fair and yesterday we all voted that her skirt is more khaki looking.

What I'm thankful for:
The faithfulness of God. I let Him down every day, but He is and will always be faithful.

What I'm creating:
Pretty pictures. Tonight I am going to edit some senior portraits I took over the weekend for a friend.

What I'm praying:
That this week would go smoothly!

What I'm planning:
To go work out in the garage with an exercise DVD after I finish this post.

What we did this last weekend:
We heard a great sermon yesterday on holiness, then had a few friends over for Donburi and Miso.

What I'm looking forward to:
Our last co-op of the year is Wednesday which will be bittersweet, and then the craziness of fair.

A picture to share:


Strawberry Glazed Pie.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Little Monkeys

Last week we went for a quick walk up to the school near our house. The two youngest in our family are proving to be to crazy, little monkeys. Of course at a school playground there are those tether ball poles which are begging to be climbed.

My monkeys cannot resist them.




In not 10 seconds, Dasher had shimmied up this 15 foot pole.



She even just hung from the chain, the little show-off.


Of course I was giving her my motherly advice; about heads splitting on concrete and body casts...but those generally go ignored.

Nutsy was feeling left out.

"I can do it too, Momma!"



Hmmm, this is harder than Dasher made it look...



"Help me, Momma..."


One of the many rules I have learned from parenting is that if I have to help them up, then I have to help them down, so they don't get any help from me.

But I am their biggest cheerleader.

Getting higher.....



Let's go for another goal....how about touching that tether chain?



Finally got it!

And it's OK that you didn't get to the top little one; you are still a cutie too.


Meanwhile, the other Monkey was swinging her heart out on the high bar.



Then Nutsy, not to be outdone, gave me another heart attack on the rings.


You would think that after 4 of them I would be getting used to this.....

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Slice of Humble Pie

This is a story about something that happened last week to me and how God uses tiny things in every day life to teach us how to be more like him.

Last week I did my monthly shopping. I make out my month long menu, then figure out what things to get at Costco (meat, veggies, paper goods) Winco (grains, non-perishables), Trader Joe's (organic produce, munchies, dairy) and Target/Wal Mart (school supplies, misc. stuff). And lest you think we drink spoiled milk or eat 3 week old apples, I do shop weekly for perishable groceries.

Well I wanted to get Winco and Trader Joe's done on Friday morning so I could meet a friend for coffee in the afternoon. We were doing major speed shopping and so far keeping up. The kids are great helpers (usually)....they get things that I forget, push the cart, try to sneak candy into the cart....all that helpful stuff. We pull up to the checkout with my full cart and I see that I am on track to beat my record of 35 minutes in the store. My helpers pile the stuff on the belt and just as the last item gets on, I notice that the couple ahead of me are stalled. It seems they forgot their debit card. I try not to roll my eyes, but I am totally thinking, "What idiots! You come to the store and are buying even more than me, and you forget your debit card??" So we wait. And wait. While they wait for a manager to come and clear their transaction. And then the lady tries to use her home business check so they have to call another manager for permission. The checkout lady keeps apologizing to me and I am half smiling and saying it is OK, but inside I am starting to boil. Why can't they just pull over and let me speed through?? I am late!! Better yet, I am thinking, don't be a silly fool and forget your debit card! They get permission to use the check, finish everything up and FINALLY it is my turn.

So I walk up to the little shelf and pull out my wallet and open it.....and yup, you guessed it, no debit card! I don't remember this happening to me before (except once when my wallet was stolen) and of course Winco doesn't take credit cards and I don't carry my checkbook. Right then and there I saw my foolish pride and impatience. 30 seconds earlier I would have never thought that I would ever make such a silly mistake like not having my debit card with me, but I tore that wallet apart and no card appeared. So now it is my turn to look silly while people wait behind me for the manager. I joked about it with the checkout lady, (I am sure she was sick of us both) we bagged up our stuff, took the receipt and left it all at customer service. Then headed home for my debit card. So much for a fast shopping morning. I did get everything done in time....we live only 5 minutes from the store and it didn't take that long, but this sure was a good lesson in humility.

Sometimes the Lord does this to me; showing me in such obvious ways how I fail. And how little mercy I can have for others around me. But I am so thankful for these lessons! They grow me. Slowly, ever so slowly it seems sometimes, God is working on me. I have learned to look for the lessons in my trials; sometimes, like that day it is pretty obvious but other days I am not sure where the lesson is and can get pretty upset about not seeing any purpose in my suffering. But we have the promise that He is giving us trials for our good and for His glory.

'And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,
for those who are called
according to his purpose.'
Romans 8:28

Postscript: Where was that debit card?? I had gone to Costco the day before and with the craziness of 2 carts, an insanely busy store and then keeping track of the receipt at the end, I had put my debit card in my pocket. :-)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: Rabbits...... Last week, we realized that Flo was not taking care of her babies well so we actually had to hold her and get her babies out and help them to nurse! (The things I will do for these rabbits....) After a couple days she figured it out but by then she had only 2 babies left. :-( Thelma Lou still has 9, but one was definitely becoming a runt so we adopted it over to Flo and now they are all looking good. These babies are for State Fair in July; we are now at T-minus 10 days for County Fair.

What I'm reading:
Pride and Prejudice and the Iliad. I am actually banning myself from reading other books until I get through these.

What I'm listening to:
The washer and dryer and the kids cleaning their rooms upstairs.

What we're learning: All about Cleopatra and Herod in history, Catechism question #20 and the children have little oral presentations in co-op this week on life in ponds.

What I'm watching: A cloudy sky. This has been a mild Spring for us and I am ready for the summer.

What's cooking:
It is getting warmer so we are eating more salads; this week I am making a yummy Southwest Salad from Everyday Food.

What I'm buying:
Today I need to send away to the county fair for ride wristbands for the kids. The good thing about it being a county fair is that it is a pretty good deal if you buy in advance.

What I'm thankful for:
Technology is amazing. Computers, cell phones, cars...I am thankful for their conveniences.

What I'm creating: I'm trying to create space in my bookshelves for more books I bought at a used book sale this last weekend.

What I'm praying:
That my Christian living would be from my heart and not just seem like checking off boxes.

What I'm planning:
To go do some tattooing. (Did your heart just drop there? Tee-hee!!) Tomorrow we are getting the 6 rabbits that are going to fair tattooed at our friends house. (They have to be tattooed in their ear for fair.)

What we did this last weekend: We got lots of little things done around the house on Saturday, then yesterday after church we had great fellowship at a friends house, then back for evening service.

What I'm looking forward to:
Saturday a bunch of friends are going to get together for food, volleyball and fellowship. I can't wait for a relaxing day!

A picture to share:


Monday, May 10, 2010

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That we are now in fair countdown with T minus 17 days. The kids are all trying to work with their rabbits every day for showmanship, and practice up on their rabbit knowledge for Rabbit Bowl.

What I'm reading:
I am still reading the Iliad and I am also starting up Pride and Prejudice. A friend is reading it and we decided to read it together.

What I'm listening to:
Israel Kamakawiwo'ole sing songs that make me think of warm sandy beaches.

What we're learning:
Sparticus, the first Triumvirate and Julius Caesar in history, Crustaceans in science and the children are researching animals of the plains and prairies for co-op this week.

What I'm watching:
The sun trying to peek through the clouds. My feet in my warm slippers. Sweaters on the kids. Hot tea in a mug next to me. It is May 10 and 55 degrees here!

What's cooking:
Lunch is leftover Balsamic Pasta salad with mozzarella and tomatoes from yesterday, then tonight we are having Pesto Chicken with Linguine. Today turned into a big pasta day. :-)

What I'm buying:
Over the weekend we had a really nice red wine blend from Trader Joe's called Rabbit Ridge. Later today I am off to get a couple more bottles before they are all gone - $4.99 is not a bad price for a bottle.

What I'm thankful for:
The 15 rabbits that were born over the weekend. Flo (the first time mom) gave birth to 9 but 3 died, so she is the proud momma of 6; Thelma Lou was a trooper and had 9 live, big ones.

What I'm creating:
Gingerbread Lattes in the crockpot for a warm treat this morning. A dear friend gave me this book and I can't wait to try out more yummy crockpot recipes.

What I'm praying: That I will be more disciplined in the mornings. If I get going early, the kids do too.

What I'm planning:
Curriculum planning for next year. There is a used homeschooling book sale in my area this Saturday that I am hoping to find some stuff at.

What I'm looking forward to:
The two older children are giving project reports tomorrow night at our 4-H club meeting, we have co-op this week and then we are having Dinner for Six this Friday night.

A picture to share:



~The kids last week at the zoo. You can see the younger ones and their haircuts.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Karra's Tostadas with Jalapeno-Lime Sauce

The Lord has been merciful to bring precious friends into our lives. When we first moved to this area 10 years ago we knew no one. I was in the middle of a difficult pregnancy, we were looking for a church home and we were trying to find our way around a totally new town when we met the G family. They were around our same age, ended up at the same church as us and had little ones the same ages as our own. Over the years we grew closer and closer, so much so that I really understood the verse from Proverbs:

"A man of many companions may come to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."

There is just something about someone who understands what life with little ones is like, who challenges you to study the Bible more, who keeps you accountable and encourages you when you are down. This was what this family was like to us and we will never forget that time. In 2005 they were led by the Lord to move all the way across the country to North Carolina and we have missed them ever since, but are so grateful for that special time we had with them!

Which comes to my recipe.....they are the ones who first served these yummy tostadas to us. I don't know if she made them up or if someone passed the recipe onto her, but every time we have them, (which is often!) I think of the G's and what a blessing they were to us.

What makes this recipe so delish is the sauce. Anytime you combine olive oil, jalapenos, green onions, salt and lime it has got to be good.

First you slice up the jalapenos. One time I just chopped away with my bare hands and then a few minutes later wiped the hair out of my eyes and ZOWIE! That juice stays on your hands and burns through anything you touch so here is how I do it:


You could also use those hospital/kitchen gloves, but I don't stock those in my pantry so I use plastic sandwich baggies. I also don't use the jalapeno seeds in our sauce, but I am sure you could put them in if you wanted the heat.

You also chop up some green onions too. Here are all the goodies:

Squeeze the limes into a bowl. Then, slowly add the olive oil while whisking with a whisk or fork.


It will have a thicker and 'milkier' appearance. Then you add the chopped jalapeno and green onions, minced garlic and salt. I have to taste it at this point to see if it is too oily or too limey; it is up to you and what you like.


And that's the sauce. Now to assemble the tostadas: I have on hand my Easy Refried Beans warm on the stove, a saucepan of warm Spanish Rice, grated cheddar cheese, chopped lettuce and cubed avocado. You can also put out tons of other toppings; shredded chicken or beef, chopped tomatoes, olives....whatever. Our family however, has the way that we do it, which almost never varies, even down to the order of the toppings. This is what we do: first the beans go on, followed by a layer of rice.


Then the cheese, which gets nice and soft from the warm beans and rice. Then the lettuce, followed by the avocados balanced on top.


Now the best part, the sauce. Don't be bashful, pour the stuff on.



One word of warning: have plenty of napkins at the table. When you least expect it, you will find that lovely sauce dripping all the way down to your elbows. And we usually have at least one 'dumping' where the overloaded tostadas either flip in someones hand or break apart. Any way around it, this is a messy meal but so tasty!


The sauce is also a great salad dressing or can be poured over grilled chicken.....so many possibilities. The Tostada recipe is very versatile; you can take out the avocados if you are not a big fan, or add chicken or beef if you want a more hearty meal. Enjoy!


Karra's Tostadas with Jalapeno-Lime sauce



Ingredients:

1/4-1/2 c. lime juice
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 -1 1/2 c. olive oil
1/4 c. chopped green onions
1 jalapeno, chopped (you can only chop 1/2 of one if you don't want so much)
3-4 pinches of salt

Tostadas
refried beans
Spanish rice
chopped lettuce
grated cheddar cheese
1 avocado, chopped
Shredded chicken or beef, sour cream, olives, cilantro, chopped tomatoes.......


Squeeze limes into a bowl. Add olive oil slowly while whisking. Add remaining ingredients to sauce and whisk until fully combined. Assemble Tostadas as desired; giving the sauce a swirl with a fork before serving each person.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Easy Refried Beans

I am planning to post the much awaited Tostada recipe, but before that I wanted to share how I make refried beans. Just recently I made the complete switch from canned to homemade beans after I read the ingredients and found partially hydrogenated soybean oil on the list. I really, really try to stay away from anything that says 'partially hydrogenated', and let me just tell you it is hiding in lots of things in the supermarkets.

I make my beans in the crockpot; 1 part beans to 3 parts water, on high for 5-6 hours. When they are tender enough I chop up a whole onion and saute it with a tablespoon of olive oil on medium low heat for about 10 minutes.


Sometimes I need to add a little water, but it usually takes on a nice color like this:


Then I add my spices - chili powder, cumin, salt and minced garlic. Usually I eyeball it, but for all of you, I measured what I put in. (see recipe below) I mix this lovely stuff into the soft onions,



then turn it on low and cook while I get the beans in a pan.


I choose a wide pan so the beans are easier to smash. I add about 1/2 cup of bean broth (from the crockpot) then mash them up. I use a wooden masher that we have, but in a cinch you can use a canning jar or glass.


If you find the beans seeming a bit dry, just add more bean broth. Once they are mashed to the consistency that you like, you add the onion/spice mixture.


Mix all that together, add more salt to taste if you want, and that's it. Very easy, but so much better for you and so much yummier, refried beans.



Easy Refried Beans



Ingredients:

3 c. dry pinto beans
9 c. water
1 onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c. bean broth

Recipe:

Combine water and beans in crockpot. Cook on high for 5-6 hours or until beans are soft. Drain; reserving bean broth. In small saucepan, saute onion on medium-low heat in olive oil for 10 minutes until tender and brown. Add spices including garlic; turn heat to low and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add a little water if this mixture is too dry. Put drained beans in a large saucepan or pot with bean broth; coarsely mash. Add onion/spice mixture to beans and combine. Heat on low; stirring occasionally. Add salt and more bean broth if needed.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That I really love the sun coming up so early in the mornings now. And I really wish I was a morning person, but I'm not.
What I'm reading:
I'm still working on the Iliad, but I am also reading The Making of A Chef by Michael Ruhlman.
What I'm listening to:
The house is nice and quiet right now. Bookworm is usually up with the sun and drags at least one sister up at that time too.
What we're learning: We are taking a day off from formal schooling today, (one of the beauties of homeschooling) but tomorrow we will get back into Hannibal, the Punic Wars and the Maccabean revolt in history, Shorter Catechism question #18 and pushing to finish those math books before the end of school.
What I'm watching:
The sun shining, and some pretty purple tulips on the dining room table.
What's cooking:
Tonight is leftovers, but later this week I am making Indian Spiced Lentils.
What I'm buying:
We just picked up a vinyl table protector so we can still see the beautiful finish of our table and yet protect it from little, grimy hands.
What I'm thankful for:
My sweet children who bring so many smiles to my face.
What I'm creating: Writing, writing, writing. I have two reviews that I have to get out this week.
What I'm praying:
That the Lord would continue to humble me and make me more like Him.
What I'm planning:
To once again stick the nesting boxes into the rabbit hutch this Wednesday. The babies should come this weekend.
What I'm looking forward to:
Today we will be hanging out with our friends who are visiting from Washington most of the day. The kids are planning a massive water balloon fight, and the Mommas are going to make Chocolate Ganache Brioche. We are also looking forward to co-op this Wednesday as we are starting our final month.
A picture to share:



~My three girls at the park a couple weeks ago, before their haircuts.