Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday Fave Five - July 31st

Fridays are a day to look back over the week and notice the things that make you smile! If you'd like to read about more people's fave five, or link to it yourself, check out Susanne's blog at Living to Tell the Story!So for this week:

1. Camping with the hubby's sisters and friends last weekend - a gorgeous campsite on a lake, fun around the campfire, night stars, waking up to the sound of waves crashing on the shore... Beautiful.

2. It was nice to take a Sunday off of work. I missed being at church... But it was a nice break.

3. Monday at the pool with one of my closest friends and her little girl. Em and Elly came to swim, play, and have lunch - a great girls' day! Lots of giggles and "fishy faces!"

4. Date night on Wednesday - San Pedro Cafe. Yum.

5. A weekend with friends in IL. Cruising around our old town, spending time with friends, stopping at old favorite restaurants, getting to know Lindsey (our friend's fiance)... Just relaxing and enjoying life.

Things I am thankful for today:

1. Sleeping in.
2. Chicago hot dogs. You know - with all the fixings: pickles, relish, peppers, tomato, and celery salt. Love it!
3. Touring around the old town - so many new things!
4. Meeting Mark's parents for dinner - always so good to see them!
5. Eating at Monical's Pizza (I used to work there) - so good! And fun to run into people I used to work with!
6. Playing with Mark's little niece, Avery. So cute!
7. Trivial Pursuit - close game! So fun!
8. Chilling out to great music.
9. Watching our dog in her curiousity with the bunny... Very funny!
10. Feeling content.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

On the Road Again

We're on the road again! This time to Kankakee, IL to visit an old dear friend, and to make a new dear friend! Our buddy, Mark, is getting married! So we're off to meet the fiance... and play in the town where the hubby and I lived when we were first married.

Should be a fun weekend!

Things I am thankful for today:

1. Working from home this morning.
2. Toast with Nutella.
3. The hubby's excitement to see his best friend.
4. An Illinois I-pass - makes the tolls quick and easy!
5. A Delicious dinner cooked by our friend, Mark! Fabulous! (Who knew?!)
6. Lindsey, the fiance, is great!
7. The bunny, Benji, is adorable - I think my hubby has been won over by a bunny!
8. Our dog is such a great little travel companion.
9. Sleeping in the car - makes the ride go faster!
10. A relaxing evening with friends.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Yummy Wednesday - Strawberry Empanadas

You want a sweet and yummy breakfast treat? Want to impress people with a fancy-looking indulgence? Here ya go - Easy Strawberry Empanadas, from (you guessed it) The New Intercourses cookbook by Hopkins and Lockridge... FAB-U-lous!Easy Strawberry Empanadas

6oz cream cheese, room temperature
4 tbsp light brown sugar, divided
2/3 cups coarsely chopped strawberries (fresh or frozen)
1 (8 count) package refrigerated crescent rolls
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Blend the cream cheese and 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar in a bowl. Fold in the strawberries.

Unfold the crescent roll dough into 4 rectangles, smoothing the dough together along the diagonal dotted line. Divide the strawberry mixture among the 4 pieces, spooning onto the bottom half of the rectangle. Fold the dough over and crimp the edges with your fingers or the tines of a fork.

Bake the rolls for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Brush the cooked empanadas with melted butter, and dust with the remaining brown sugar before serving.


Things I am thankful for today:

1. I'm caught up with the blog! Yeah!
2. Going in to work a little later today. So nice.
3. Some good meetings at work today - good ideas, fun people!
4. Getting home early and going out to dinner at San Pedro - our favorite!
5. Coconut scallop pasta - my new favorite at our restaurant. Mmm...
6. Going for a walk when I thought I was too tired. Good idea.
7. Our driveway got sealed today - looks nice!
8. Going out of town tomorrow. Visiting friends in Illinos - so fun!
9. My camera is getting fixed... so there won't be new pictures for a couple of weeks... but it will be MUCH better when it comes back!
10. The sound of crickets - a nice summer evening.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


"When was the last time you star-gazed? One clear summer's evening lie on a big blanket in your backyard with a good bottle of wine or sparkling cider, cheese, biscuits, and fresh fruit. Look up into the night sky. Realize that you've got a friend up there. Star-gazing is one of the oldest human passtimes and there's good reason for it. Gazing at the stars reminds us that there's more than we'll ever realize and that every day is another chance to follow the clues. Find a star to wish upon."
--A Simple Abundance

I love summer night skies! They're one of my favorite summer gifts - along with:
Sandy shores
Goosebumps from a cool breeze after getting out of the water
Blue skies
The smell of rain
Grilling out
More daylight
Sleeping with the windows open
Flowers and songbirds
The scent of sweet peas
Fresh fruit
The sound of kids playing outside
Bare feet

What are some of your favorite summer blessings?

Things I am thankful for today:

1. Sweet peas on my desk - my office smells SO GOOD!
2. Jason and I working on his powerpoint presentation - he's getting there!
3. Going out to lunch with Pastor Penny to Teresa's. Yum-a-roo!
4. Picking up a light dinner and eating at a park. A nice break.
5. Exploring neat neighborhoods in St. Paul.
6. Book group - a small group, but great conversation and lots of giggles.
7. Sushi.
8. Going for a walk when I got home - much needed exercise and time with the hubby!
9. Looking forward to the weekend.
10. Feeling productive.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Simple Woman's Daybook - July 27th

For Today...

Outside my window... cool and cloudy. I hope it warms up soon and the rain stays away!
I am thinking... of things to do with Em and Elly if it rains... We're supposed to go to the pool!
I am thankful... for a weekend away. I needed it. Camping is good for the soul!
From the kitchen... not a whole heckuva lot. We're going out of town again on Thursday, so we're trying not to go grocery shopping... It could be a lean week!
I am wearing... my pjs still. Soon to change into my bathing suit!
I am creating... a work plan for the week. So much to do... so little time!
I am going... to have a lot of fun with my goddaughter, Elly, at the pool today! She apparently isn't a big fan of the water yet, so her mom was hoping another friendly face would help. I can do that!
I am reading... "Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time" by Marcus Borg, and "The God I Never Knew" by Marcus Borg.
I am hoping... for the sun to come out.
I am hearing... quiet...
One of my favorite things... a day at home with no where else I need to be. Perfect.
A few plans for the rest of the week... meetings, book group, youth meetings, dinner at San Pedro... going to Illinois to visit a dear friend - and his new fiance!
Here is picture thought I am sharing... my dog. This was in the car on the way to WI for our camping weekend. I was bored and started playing with the camera - the first picture just makes me laugh! The second one is too cute for words...
Things I am thankful for today:

1. Nice to wake up in my own bed.
2. Lunch of summer sauage, smoked gouda cheese, and triscuits - and good company!
3. Going to the pool with Em and Elly - Elly did great!
4. "Fish face!"
5. Elly ate Bailey's dog food. Ha ha ha.
6. I got to stay home ALL DAY!
7. Bison tacos for dinner - and the hubby made them!
8. Watching the movie, "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas." So beautifully filmed - but be ready with a WHOLE box of Kleenex!
9. Camping gear is finally getting put away.
10. The bug bite itches are finally starting to go away...

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Today is Sunday. I work for a church. I'm at church EVERY Sunday.

I'm still camping!

But I did think about and pray for the worship service back home at 10am this morning. (They had the MN Teen Challenge Choir leading worship today.) Does that make me a dork?

I think so.

Things I am thankful for today:

1. Again, waking up to a beautiful morning.
2. Loving our tent! It's perfect for us.
3. Loving our little Thermarest sleeping mats - so comfy. (Everyone else had those HUGE air mattresses and still complained of back aches... We just smiled.)
4. Easy tear down of our campsite.
5. A nice day for a drive.
6. A long, warm, shower!
7. No ticks!
8. Cuddling up on the couch for some TV.
9. Clean sheets.
10. Setting up the tent in the garage to air out - and the dog wanting to keep going in it!

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Today we woke up at a beautiful campsite at Buckhorn State Park, near Mauston, WI. I always forget how pretty this place is, until we go back! We hike about 3/4 of a mile to the campsite, which is on our own little peninsula, with tall trees, and a little beachy area. Since it's right on the water we get a nice breeze - or a good wind - which keeps the bugs away, and keeps things nice and cool. We have a GREAT view of the sunset. And we can put our tent close to the water and listen to the waves lapping in all night long. I love it.This year's camping crew consisted of the hubby and I, his two sisters and their significant others, another couple, and 5 other girls. A big group, but a fairly low-key group. We sat around the campfire, played games, ate, watched the sunset, ate, told stories, ate, slept, ate... and so on. This year the hubby and I got made fun of and called snobs because we didn't bring brats, burgers, and Doritos for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Instead, we brought a healthy smattering of bagels, cream cheese, and smoked salmon; apples and brie cheese; avocados; chicken mango brats with grilled bell peppers; chicken feta spinach patties with lettuce and tomato in a pita; smores with nutella... Yes, a little different for camp food - but we like 1) the variety, 2) the healthiness, 3) none of it gives me migraines, like brats and Doritos! I'll be a snob if I can keep the migraines away. That's ok by me!

But the best part of the day? Our dog, Bailey, playing frisbee in the water! This is the first trip that she has willingly gone in the water of her own accord - and LIKED it! She kept going in again and again! She'd chase my hubby, fetch her frisbee, and run along the coast kicking in the water. So fun... She is SO NOT a prissy poodle. Ha ha ha.
Things I am thankful for today:

1. Waking up to the sound of waves lapping in. So peaceful.
2. A yummy breakfast. Love smoked salmon and cream cheese.
3. The smell of a campfire.
4. The dog cuddling up for a nap in the tent. So cozy.
5. The mosquitos weren't too bad!
6. Spectacular sunset.
7. Beautiful starry sky.
8. The game "Apples to Apples."
9. Bailey swimming, and swimming, and swimming... She didn't want to stop!
10. The hubby walking me to the outhouse at night... Such a gentleman. Ha ha ha.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday Fave Five - July 24th

On Fridays, I take a moment - along with Susanne at Living To Tell the Story - to look back over the week and be thankful for all the good things in life! Here's five of my favorite things from this week:

1. Dad's birthday was last weekend. The hubby and I had my parents over for a fun festive dinner, complete with decorations, silly prizes, yummy food, and tirimisu with candles on top! A very fun evening to celebrate Dad!
(I love this picture of Dad - it makes me giggle everytime!)
2. On Monday night, the hubby and I decided to try making mussels for dinner with a coconut curry lime broth - Yum-a-roo! We will be doing that again, for sure!3. The game on Facebook that I've been playing all week - your "friends" on Facebook are invited to leave a quick note of one of their favorite memories of you. My friends on Facebooks range from childhood friends, family friends, high school, college, former youth group kids, current youth group kids, and new friends! It's been a really fun look back at some fun memories! I did a post about it here, if you'd like to do the "experiment" too - you'll be surprised at what you, and others, remember!

4. My coffee date with Jill. We were having so much fun talking about all kinds of things that pretty soon the coffee shop was closing... Yikes! So fun.

5. Last night, I got home from work at 8:15pm, and the hubby and I headed to a nearby town to listen to one of our favorite local bands (a Van Morrison cover band). A great end to my work week - sitting outside, great music, kettle corn and the hubby. Life is good.

Things I am thankful for today:

1. Spontaneous nights out.
2. Talking to my sister, Emily, on the phone today.
3. The dog being so cute and cuddly in the car.
4. Driving through beautiful WI.
5. Setting up camp - a beautiful site, and an easy set-up!
6. Chicken, spinach, feta burgers for dinner. Yum.
7. The hubby bought me Baked BBQ Lays. (I NEVER eat chips - yummy!)
8. Bringing comfy, warm, clothes for camping - keeping things simple.
9. A starry sky!
10. No critter invasion at the campsite!

Thursday, July 23, 2009


"It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters in the end."
--Ursula K. LeGuin

This week, I've been part of a fun game on Facebook - a "social experiment." Everyone who is a "friend" of yours on Facebook is supposed to leave a one-sentence comment, reminding you of a memory they have of you. What's cool about it, is that my "friends" on Facebook have known me through so many different points in my journey through life! (For my own journal-keeping, I'm going to record the answers here - you may find them fun to read...)

Lindsay W. (a friend from elementary school in Newark, Ohio - who I haven't seen since I was in 5th grade) - Playing on Kibler Ave, in Newark Ohio. (That was the street I lived on - an old brick road!)

Tracie P. (a friend I met at a Youth Specialities intensive training seminar, 3 or 4 years ago) - When Panera gave us free dessert because they enjoyed listening to our laughter!

Jake E. (one of my current really cool confirmation kids) - When we talked about the really old Bible in Confirmation. (That would be the Book of Kells that I saw on my trip to Ireland last spring.)

Heather L. (a former youth group member from my church in Wautoma, Wisconsin - when I left, she was still a kid. Now she's a beautiful adult!) - When you gave LeeAnn a Mountain Dew. (LeeAnn is her sister - someone you never want to give caffeine to - or you will be forced to face the consequences!)

Sam P. (a close friend during the college years and a bridesmaid in my wedding) - You eating a pickled egg for your birthday (a long story involving a surprise b-day party at a college bar), and raiding the dorm freezers for ice cream to watch Ally McBeal. (Sam and I met up every week, no matter what else was in our schedules, to watch Ally McBeal together - and of course, eat ice cream! I believe it was almost always Ben and Jerrys...)

Emily R. (one of my closest friends, since about 8th grade!) - Block. It was good to have a buddy in Block. Yuck. ("Block" was the Social Studies/English class we were in for Freshman and Sophomore years of high school - it was a little on the advanced side... Sometimes it was the class that was difficult, and sometimes it was the other people in the class - but Em and I kept each other sane!)

Barb B. (a friend I met through my husband and his job - I have only really started to get to know her over the last year or so) - I remember all the times you were sick and never came out with us! Ha! OK, I swear I won't keep mentioning that! You have redeemed yourself since those days! (I suffer from migraines and go in periods of time where they are worse than others - when I was first getting to know Barb, they were bad... I haven't let her down in quite a while, though!)

Morgan B. (I've probably known her the longest! Our parents have been best friends since before we were born! We don't see each other often, but when we do it's still so fun!) - Making forts out of our lawn furniture when you and the family would visit (when we were maybe 4 years old? in Colorado), and Cedar Point (our families both went to the amusement park in Ohio when we were in grade school)!

Kerry A. (my sister-in-law - I've known her about 10 years now!) - Singing Christmas carols in the back of my mom's car coming home from dinner at Amici's in the summertime... (Ha ha ha - that was only a few years ago, and it drove my hubby nuts!)

Veloice H. (that's my Mom. I guess I take that back about Morgan - I've known Mom the longest! Ha ha ha.) - The day you were born---you were screaming and crying and so was I!!----But they were "happy" tears!!!! Too many good memories to list!! (Thanks, Mom!)

Connie M. (my friend, Emily's, Mom - she's always been wonderful to me!) - You have always been a very dear, special friend to Emily and I'm so glad you are part of our family as Elbow's Godmother. (Ha ha ha - "Elbow" is the family nickname for Ellie.)

Melissa E. (one of the Snazzy Ladies of book group, whom I've gotten to know over the last year) - The expression on your face when I explained a certain restaurant to Pat. HILARIOUS! (Ha ha ha - it WAS hilarious! Pat was an older lady in the group... Somehow "Hooter's" Restaurant was mentioned... Pat had no idea what "hooters" referred to. Melissa did a wonderful demonstration! Hil-ar-ious!)

Amanda S. (one of my dearest friends from college, and a bridesmaid in my wedding) - Too many memories. How about, gorilla themed mini-golf in Steiner. You are always so creative. (Ha ha ha - all the staff in our dorm had to come up with mini-golf holes in their rooms for the residents to play. I collected gorillas and had some plants in my room, so I made a jungle-themed hole with a giant gorilla behind the hole... I even had jungle mambo music playing in the background!)

Carol E. (another of the Snazzy Ladies from my book group, and my quilting teacher!) - Your laugh! It brightens any room.

So there you have it - from the moment I was born, to current friends and and in-laws! It's quite the journey, to be sure!

If you'd like to steal this game and use it on your site, feel free! It's fun to see the answers - and if you'd like to remind me of a memory you have, just add it to the comments section - I'd love to know what you remember, too!

Enjoy today - it's one more step in the journey!

Things I am thankful for today:

1. A relaxing morning at home.
2. Getting to stop in and see what the quilting ladies were up to today.
3. Hearing another cool story about how Open Sanctuary at church provided a beautiful experience for two ladies from our congregation.
4. Excitement over Beth's idea and inspiration!
5. Starburst candies.
6. Being inside most of the hot muggy day.
7. Diane's friendship and yummy gift!
8. The hubby being full of surprises!
9. We went to see "The Belfast Cowboys" in Stillwater tonight - so fun! They played many of our favorite Van Morrison songs!
10. Kettle corn. Love it. Even saved some for our drive to WI tomorrow...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Yummy Wednesday - Shrimp Tacos with Tropical Salsa

Another delicious recipe from Holly Clegg's Trim and Terrific cookbook - a refreshing, light, summery dinner! Very colorful and full of all kinds of favors!

Shrimp Tacos with Tropical Salsa
To make the Tacos:

1 yellow or red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 red onion, sliced
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 1/2 lbs medium, peeled shrimp (totally ok to used frozen - just don't overcook them!)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 (11 oz) can Mexi-corn, drained (optional - we always use it!)
8 (6- to 8-inch) flour tortillas
1 cup shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese

In a large skillet coated with nonstick cooking spray, saute the bell pepper, onion, and garlic over medium-high heat for 2 minutes.

Add the shrimp, cumin, chili powder, and tomatoes, cooking until the shrimp are done, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the Mexi-corn.

On each tortilla, divide evenly the shrimp mixture and the cheese, and fold over in half. If desired, heat in the microwave or heat the tortillas before filling. Serve with Tropical Salsa (see recipe below).

To make the Tropical Salsa:

1 (8 oz) can pineapple chunks in own juice, drained
1 (11 oz) can mandarin orange segments, drained
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 green onions (scallions), chopped
1 tbsp diced green chilis
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

Coarsely chop the pineapple and oranges.

In a medium bowl, combine the pineapple, oranges, lemon juice, green onions, green chilis, and cilantro.

Refrigerate until ready to use.

Makes about 8 Shrimp Tacos.

Things I am thankful for today:

1. A beautiful sunny morning to wake up to.
2. Sharing my yummy lunch with Pastor Penny - there's always enough to share!
3. We have two kids confirming this year! The interviews were tonight and the kids did great.
4. Laughing with Carissa about her first driving experience.
5. Having coffee with Jill - so fun to catch up!
6. A clean house when I come home after a LONG day.
7. The dog being SO EXCITED to see me when I got home.
8. Getting a lot of work done today.
9. Ha ha ha - the "Yo Quiero Taco Bell" chihuahua died. I bet my old friend, Sam, is celebrating - that dog gave her nightmares for at least a year!
10. My bed. I'm so excited to go curl up in it. Sweet dreams!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Not Ok

Do you ever have one of those days where something just smacks you upside the head and you just can't shake it?! I'm having one of those days...

In a conversation with a friend today, they asked me if what I read in a recent book was something I believed. I said, "yes." The friend went on to tell me that they found that shocking and unsettling. They believed the book to be heretical and disturbing... and scripturally naive.

I found the book to be liberating and grounded in grace - loving a message of God being too big for us ever to shove into a box or formula... But instead, to live in God's grace, in relationship with God, and to share that grace with those around us.

I've never believed in the judgement of God. Or maybe I just simply choose to live in grace and love, and leave the judging up to God... Either way, I'm ok with seeing my faith and spirituality as between God and I, as a mystery, and as a journey. I don't pretend to have all the answers - and I certainly would never tell someone else that their journey was wrong.

Ugh. Now that THAT is off my chest... I must finish my next heretical book and get ready for book group...

May God meet you where you are at and fill you with grace and love today!

Things I am thankful for today:

1. Notes from my hubby.
2. Ready-made lunches and dinners to take to work.
3. Diane had a good weekend, afterall!
4. Carissa got her driver's permit! Watch out world!
5. A fun game on Facebook where people write their memories of you - so interesting and silly to see what people write.
6. My sister, Emily's, husband was offered a job in Alaska!
7. Talking to my dear friend, Amanda, on the phone today - finally!
8. Going for a walk when I got home tonight, even when I didn't feel like it.
9. Book group. Love them.
10. Lightening storms in the distance - beautiful.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Simple Woman's Daybook - July 20th Edition

For Today...

Outside my window... partly cloudy skies, a cool breeze, birds chirping... Beautiful day!
I am thinking... I might have to do my reading for work at the pool today. It's a serious book, I wonder if I'll be able to concentrate... I guess the only thing to do is try, huh?!
I am thankful... that the dog got her frisbee back. She's easier to exhaust into taking a nap - and she sleeps in again - thank goodness! Ha ha ha.
From the kitchen... I'm not sure yet... But I found a recipe for mussels with a coconut curry lime broth that I'm DYING to try!
I am wearing... pink, orange and yellow stripe pj pants and a lavendar tank top. It drives me nuts when my pjs don't match... Does that make me a little OCD?
I am creating... a camping menu and packing list for this coming weekend. 3 days and 2 nights with the hubby's sisters, their husbands, and their friends... Much preparation is needed!
I am going... have a peanut butter and nutella sandwich for lunch today. I just decided. Ha ha ha.
I am reading... "Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time" by Marcus Borg, and "The Geography of Bliss" by Eric Weiner.
I am hoping... for nice weather this weekend!
I am hearing... quiet... breeze, airplane, far-off lawn mowers, and occasional car...
One of my favorite things... Trader Joe's "Tea Tree Tingle" shower gel. Lovely and refreshing!
A few plans for the rest of the week... meetings, book group, confirmation interviews, coffee with a friend, youth meetings, open sanctuary, camping... a busy, but good, week!
Here is picture thought I am sharing... a Boreal, or Brown-capped, Chickadee, the newest addition to our bird-feeder community! (And no, I did not take this picture. I found it on
Things I am thankful for today:

1. The dog sleeping in!
2. No construction across the street today!
3. Time to read.
4. The hubby coming home early to go to the pool!
5. Making mussels for dinner - a new recipe. Success!
6. The hubby teasing me with, "this is the mussel-caust, we're killing dozens of mussels right here in our kitchen..." I felt like we should have been burning sage and thanking them for their sacrifice... In fact, I did thank them. Ask the hubby.
7. Preservation Hall Jazz Band - we've been listening to them all night. Love it.
8. The hubby bought me fertilizer for my flowers. So nice.
9. Prepping meals for the rest of the week - easy peasy.
10. A wonderful, relaxing night at home. A great start to the week!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Things I am thankful for today, on my Daddy's birthday:
1. My Dad's unconditional love.
2. How much he loves his little girls!
3. Teaching me to love trying new things.
4. Teaching me to laugh a myself and take joy in the little things in life.
5. Challenging me on my faith journey.
6. The dinners he makes on the grill!
7. His love and tenderness towards animals - especially our pets!
8. His hugs.
9. His mischieviousness.
10. His friendship. I love you, Dad!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Dad's Dinner

Today the hubby and I had my parents over to celebrate Dad's birthday - we had a lot of fun with the menu and decorating... Maybe a little overboard for a simple birthday dinner... But it turned out so fun!

Bright, summery flowers!

In pretty little glass jars... On newspaper... Surrounded by little candles...

Even festive "poppers" with a surprise (cheesy) toy AND a party hat inside! Ha ha ha.

For a ribs and corn-on-the-cob dinner - it was a pretty fun set-up!

Ready for a party!

Dad and Mom. So cute.

Ha ha ha. Dad's pretty excited about his tirimisu! Happy birthday, Dad!

Whoa. Bet your glad I didn't put ALL the candles on, huh?!

I had a whistle in my "popper" - we thought it was the perfect accompaniment to the hubby's "Yes, dear" mug. Ha ha ha.
Ahhh... the empty plates of a yummy meal... A fun night!

I love you, Mom and Dad!

Things I am thankful for today:

1. Enjoying a relaxing Saturday morning with the hubby.
2. Coffee.
3. Having fun cooking and decorating with the hubby.
4. A nap on the couch.
5. The little neighbor kids' fascination with our dog. So funny.
6. Speaking of the dog - she got her frisbee back today! So happy!
7. Flowers.
8. The hubby made me a mix CD of my "lounge" music! Yippee!
9. All the thoughtful things my hubby does.
10. Silliness. I like it.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday Fave Five - July 17th

What a great way to celebrate a week! Join me and Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and share five of the great things that you experienced this week, or five things that you are thankful for! If you'd like to join in, go to Living to Tell the Story and link up with Mr. Linky!Here's my five:

1. The hubby and I got to go camping last weekend, for just one night. It was an adventure to be sure! We got rained on (when the forecast said a 10% chance), we had 6 raccoons invade our peaceful night, we woke up to turkeys surrounding the tent and a herd of deer walking through our site! AND on the way back to the car, I slipped and skidded down a gravel path on my knee... Treacherous trip - but so fun! (And I highly recommend smores made with Nutella in place of Hershey bars - Yum-o!)

2. Grilling out on Sunday - the hubby has perfected his smokey ribs! In fact, they were so good that were doing it again tomorrow for my Dad's b-day! Gotta love that!

3. My book group. They're all such fabulous ladies - I always look forward to Tuesday nights! They can make a long day seem short, fill a sad day with comfort, and make even the "snarkiest" of us laugh and be thankful for the day! I hope everyone has a group of friends they enjoy this much!

4. The hubby has been wonderful as I start working longer days - cooking and warming up dinners for me, cleaning up the kitchen, encouraging me to go for walks when I get home, he even got my dessert ready for me last night! Ha ha ha. He's a keeper!

5. Today - I am all caught up on work, everything is done for the week! I can hang out with friends tonight, family tomorrow, and enjoy a picnic on Sunday! It feels good to "close up shop" for the weekend... So nice.

And... the things I am thankful for today:

1. Our landscape crew taking care of our yard... even if they are loud and early!
2. My new windwall jacket from NorthFace - I can't wait for cool autumn walks now! I'm prepared!
3. Fresh flowers in the dining room.
4. My african violets are potted!
5. Fun, silly surprises for Dad's b-day dinner tomorrow!
6. A haircut - just a trim, but it feels so good!
7. Sales. I love sales.
8. Dinner at Em and Jeremy's house. So fun!
9. Making Miss Elly (my goddaughter) giggle.
10. An all around good day. I'm all smiles.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


"I learned early on that setting a table is so much more than just laying down knives and forks. It is creating a setting for food and conversation, setting a mood and an aura that lingers long after what was served and who said what was forgotten."
--Peri Wolfman "When you take extra moments to prepare an attractive table, you're really performing an invocation, welcoming Spirit to be present in recreation and remembrance. Choosing to dine rather than just eat is a small but significant step toward self-nurturance, and one to savor as long as we live...
"Company is coming tonight. Guess who? It would be a quantum leap in abundance consciousness, if, when your authentic self graces your table, she finds generous portions of the love, respect, and welcome she so richly deserves served up on the most beautiful plate you own."
--Simple Abundance I LOVE table settings, creating an atmosphere, a celebration. If I had more money, I would need a whole closet devoted to table linens, seasonal dishes, and napkin rings! Ask my hubby - so true. I drool at over these things in stores... Why? Because I love decorating the table to celebrate the day - any day! Even as simple as lighting a candle while eating a homemade pizza... Sitting down to a meal can be a simple, and lovely event in the day... (I used to watch my hubby shake his head when I would light a candle when we ate at the breakfast bar, or heated up leftovers, sometimes even when we cuddled up on the couch with pizza. Now, he's often the one to beat me to it!)

Ha ha ha - funny story. When my husband and I were first dating, and I would bring him home with me to visit my family, my dad would often plan a nice meal for my first night home. We would arrive at the house in the late afternoon and the table would be set - china dishes, crystal glassware, silver place settings, candles... The table would be set as though it were a holiday - beautiful and welcoming. I knew it was a "welcome home" dinner - a celebration. What I didn't realize is that my hubby was thinking this was normal dinnertime behavior in our house! It took about two years before my hubby made a comment about my family being just like the Cleaver family from "Leave It to Beaver!" I don't think I've ever laughed so hard!

But, I did learn how to make dinner special from my parents... Even when we eat at the kitchen table with paper plates - there is often a candle lit!

Nothing wrong with trying to make a moment beautiful - light a candle at dinner tonight!

I dare you!

Things I am thankful for:

1. The word, "persnickety."
2. Leslie's strawberry bread - yum!
3. Lydia, Bailey, and Meg - scout girls that join me on Thursdays for a "God and Family" program. So fun!
4. Comparing families to pizza - makes us girls giggle.
5. Jason - my one boy scout that meets with me towork on his program, "God and Church." He and I share many laughs, too.
6. Open Sanctuary - a time at our church to spend in quiet meditation and prayer in the candlelit sanctuary... So peaceful.
7. A cool evening for a walk.
8. The last piece of strawberry rhubarb crisp.
9. Plans to relax tomorrow.
10. Plans to see friends tomorrow night!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Yummy Wednesday - Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

"It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so entwined that we cannot think of one without the other."
--M.F.K. Fisher

Since I posted that I made this on Sunday, I have had no less than five people ask for the recipe! Ha ha ha. So... I had another recipe to post today, but here it is: one of my very favoritist desserts from my childhood and growing up! I hereby give to you,
Mom's Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

For the "crisp":
1 cup flour
3/4 cup old fashioned oatmeal (not instant)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp cinnamon

For the fruit filling:
4 cups fruit, sliced - I used 2 cups strawberries and 2 cups rhubarb. You can also make this same recipe with 4 cups peaches, or 4 cups apples.
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla

To make the crisp:
Mix flour, oatmeal, brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon very well. Press 1/2 the mixture into the bottom of a 9 inch pan. Save the other half for topping.

To make the filling:
Place the 4 cups of fruit on top of the first layer of crisp.
Place sugar, water, cornstarch and vanilla in a small pot. Cook over medium heat until the mixture is thick and clear, stirring constantly. (It will begin to boil - keep stirring!)
Pour the thick, clear syrup over the fruit.

Top with the remainder of the crisp mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. (You may want to place a pan underneath - the juices may bubble out a little bit.)

Serve warm with soft vanilla ice cream.... Yum... Enjoy!

Things I am thankful for today:
1. Going in late to work.
2. Getting lots and lots done today.
3. Diane liked my grapes!
4. A cozy office to spend my afternoons in...
5. Candles.
6. A fun mission team meeting - good ideas.
7. Leading the Bible study with a whole other group of ladies - so fun!
8. Taking a walk with the hubby and dog when I got home.
9. Vosges chocolate.
10. Time to relax before bed.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


"The table is a meeting place, a gathering ground, the source of sustenance and nourishment, festivity, safety, and satisfaction."
--Laurie Colwin

"Whether we're single, married, with or without children, we all have to eat dinner. The evening meal should be the highlight of the day. If the day has been peaceful, pleasurable, and profitable, it's time to celebrate. If the day has been difficult and discouraging, it's time for comfort and consolation - blessings by themselves and reason to celebrate. Either way, the celebrating table bids..."
--Simple Abundance

"We need time to defuse, to contemplate. Just as in sleep our brains relax and give us dreams, so at some time in the day we need to disconnect, reconnect, and look around us. We must turn off the TV and the telephone, hunker down in front of our hearths, and leave our briefcases at the office, if for only one night. We must march into the kitchen, en famille or with a friend, and find some easy, heartwarming things to make from scratch, and even if it is but once a week, we must gather at the table, alone or with friends or with lots of friends, or with one friend, and eat a meal together. We know that without food we would die. Without fellowship life is not worth living."
--Laurie Colwin
Often, dinner is my favorite time of day. The hubby and I decided a couple of years ago, that we would do our best to eat dinner together every night... Busy schedules were getting in the way - late nights of work and early bedtimes were making it hard to connect at the end of the day. Since deciding that dinner is a priority, it's become my favorite ritual in our house. We get home from our workdays - often I will have to return to mine, but it's a nice break - we make dinner and talk over our days. We disconnect from the world, reconnect to each other, and feel ready for whatever comes next.

That makes the table (or breakfast bar) a place of celebration. So invite the friends and family, prepare an easy and comforting meal, and celebrate the simplicities of life together! The table is calling...

Things I am thankful for today:

1. Toast with homemade plum jam... Yum.
2. No staff meeting today.
3. Catching up on reading - and finishing "If Grace Is True." I love this book - it really makes you think, with the head AND the heart!
4. Book group - always a fun way to end the day.
5. The book group ladies liked the Ginger Almond Grapes - I was worried!
6. Eating dinner with the hubby.
7. Playing with the dog when I got home tonight - squeaky ball!
8. Less of a headache today. Thank goodness.
9. A new bird at my birdfeeder... I haven't looked it up yet. I'll let you know!
10. Eye cream. Does wonders. Ha ha ha.

Monday, July 13, 2009

A Simple Woman's Daybook - July 13th Edition

For Today...

Outside my window... blue sky and sunny. AND my goldfinches are making a nest in my little maple tree!
I am thinking... it's so nice to have a quiet day to myself. I needed it.
I am thankful... for a good night's sleep! I finally slept a full 8 hours! Woo-hoo!
From the kitchen... chicken and black bean enchiladas tonight! Yum.
I am wearing... my pink nightgown and lavender robe. Ha ha ha. Monday morning - I'm at home. And I love it.
I am creating... a plan of attack for the week. I have to work into the evening every night this week... That makes for LONG days!
I am going... to get my haircut today. I think.
I am reading... "If Grace Is True" by Philip Gulley and James Mulholland, "The Geography of Bliss" by Eric Weiner, and I've started "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert.
I am hoping... I make it through the week. We have some fun plans next weekend - I don't want to be too tired, or worse yet, sick!
I am hearing... the neighbor's AC, birds chattering away, the occasional car go by, and my dog barking in her sleep.
One of my favorite things... the amount of time and energy my hubby will put into cooking fantastic smokey ribs on the grill! He loves the process and the outcome! So fun.
A few plans for the rest of the week... meetings, book group, a funeral for my great aunt, Bible Study, coffee with a friend, Open Sanctuary, dinner with friends, a picnic at our Pastor's House, and hopefully a birthday dinner with my dad!
Here is picture thought I am sharing... our yummy dinner from last night - ooey-gooey smokey ribs and Mom's yummy strawberry-rhubarb crisp!
Things I am thankful for today:

1. Waking up to a cool breeze coming in the windows.
2. A clean house.
3. Leftovers from last night's dinner for lunch.
4. A day of catching up on reading.
5. Real Simple magazine subscription - 1 year for $5 on!
6. The hubby making dinner.
7. The hubby cleaning bathrooms. Thank you, dear.
8. The dog comforting me through headaches yesterday and today.
9. A good cry.
10. My sweet peas are getting ready to bloom!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sacred Home

"After all, it is those who have a deep and real inner life who are best able to deal with the irritating details of outer life."
--Evelyn Underhill

"'The home is a sacred place where you can communicate with the four elements of the universe: earth, water, air and fire,' says writer and kitchen mystic Laura Esquivel, author of the luminous novel Like Water for Chocolate. 'You mix it with your love and emotions to create magic. Through cooking, you raise your spiritual level and balance yourself in a world that is materialistic.' In a world that is frequently out of kilter, the kitchen is as mystical as a monastery..."

So make a divine dinner. "Call everyone to the table. Stop to give thanks. Offer a toast and a thanksgiving for good health, love, companionship, delicious food, and a moment of contentment. A day fully lived, simply abundant."
--Simple Abundance

Today, we went to church and came home to spend the day cleaning the house and slow-cooking some ribs! We're putting away all the gear and stuff that is sitting around after our quick camping trip - and beginning to prepare for another long week...

But as we clean and put away the remnants of a fun weekend, we enjoy the act of cooking a meal together - slow-cooked, smokey ribs on the grill, roasted corn on the cob, brown beans - and my mom's strawberry rhubarb crisp... A great start to a new week! Good food, good company, a good life!

Things I am thankful for today:

1. My pictures did turn out on our quickly fading camera! Here are some of the pictures from camping:
Pink flowers decorate our site!
Get this - we found a site that was calling us! M loves M - perfect for Mike and Megan , huh?
Here's our humble little set-up. Just enough for the hubby, the dog, and me.
Blue skies through the trees. So pretty.
Not quite dinner time... Cards it is! Man... I got nothing!
Mike's latest gear experiment - making a cat food can and a tiny bit of fuel into a stove for camping... Oh dear.
Here it is - working as planned! I'll be...
2. Our dog, Bailey. She offers fun and laughter everyday. Here's a series of her helping the hubby prepare dinner while camping:
Hmmm... Who's nose would that be?
Oh! It's Bailey - wanting in on the food action.
Gee, Dad, how can I help?
Bailey is obsessed with our Nalgene water bottles - I think she stole a lick out of mine just now. I HATE it when she does that!
What a great buddy. We love her. (And no, she is not usually allowed on counters or tables while cooking...)
3. Church - we had some really neat visitors today. I enjoyed chatting with them.
4. Root beer floats at church - that was a nice surprise!
5. I found pretty African violets to pot and put in our bedroom - I'm so excited!
6. Our dinner tonight is going to be fabulous!
7. Benedryl and Burts Bees outdoor ointment - I've got more bug bites than I know what to do with right now!
8. The smell of lavender.
9. The hubby "getting me" when no one else does. (That's why I married him!)
10. A relaxing evening ahead.
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