Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My Birthday!

Today is my birthday, and it’s been a good one!  An hour before the day started, I was at the airport picking my hubby up after his 2 week trip to Haiti, so the day definitely started off well!  It was so good to see him, and to hear his stories, and just to know he was finally home.

He had brought me back a beautiful handmade jewelry set from Haiti for my birthday, which I wore today.  I absolutely love it!  I went for my 2.5 mile run, and met my goal of being under 33 minutes today!  My facebook has exploded all day with so many people wishing me a happy birthday; and when I arrived at work, a good friend of mine had a gift waiting for me of another beautiful jewelry set.  I totally did not expect it, and it made my morning!  My boss also gave me a card.
Once a month we celebrate all of the birthdays for the month at work, and it just so happens that the August celebrations are today. We enjoyed chocolate cake and banana pudding, and some milk.  It was delicious, and a nice change of pace.

Then to end the day, we had Cram Night in youth service-where we cram the room as full as we can (by having the students invite all of their friends).  It started off with pizza, and then service was started by a band called The Rescued.  They led the students to worship with an incredible anointing.  After that, a comedian named Taylor Johnson did a little stand-up act, which was hilarious.  In the end, he led into an altar call where many students came forward for prayer.  What a great night!  I had a wonderful birthday!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

3 Days Worth of Meals

After a week and a half of trying new recipes, and being eager to do great things, my creativity has worn out.  At this point I just want the easy and simple.  And that is exactly what I found!

Sunday, after a lunch of leftovers, I made a Mexican dip from a recipe that I got my a friend at work.  It was so simple to make!  I friend up a pound of ground beef with some onion, and then drained and rinsed it.  I put the ground beef back in the pan and added a large can of cream of mushroom, a can of rotel, and a can of pinto beans.  Once it boiled for about 5 minutes, I took it off the heat and added some shredded cheese and stirred it in.  We had some corn tortillas in the fridge, so I sliced them and fried them up for some yummy hot tortilla chips.  It was a delicious meal, and the boys were excited because they got to eat chips for dinner!

Sunday night we had some chicken breasts that I boiled with some celery and then sliced/shredded.  I put it in the fridge, and saved the broth, too.  Monday night was so simple-I got 2 small packages of chicken flavored egg noodles, and cooked according to the package directions, other than using the broth that I had in place of some of the water.  When it was about 2 minutes from being finished, I added the shredded chicken.  Yum!  Easy and delicious!  After it was finished I realized that I had forgotten to cook a vegetable.  My boys informed me that they could see bits of orange (carrot) and green (beans?) in the noodle mix, so they were sure that counted !

Tonight the plan was taco salad-simple!  Make some taco meat with beans, add lettuce and chips, and it's done.  The plan didn't happen.  I bought ranch style beans instead of kidneys, so I didn't want to use those.  I settled on using my leftover Mexican dip instead-I just stirred it in with the ground beef and taco seasoning.  Then I discovered the salad had turned brown, so I ended up just serving nachos.  I fried corn tortilla chips again, topped with the meat mixture, shredded cheese, and taco sauce.  It was yummy, but I feel bad for not having a vegetable again.

I'll have to make up for that...well, who knows when?  My hubby's flight is tonight, and he will be back! It's been a long 2 weeks, but I survived cooking without having sandwiches for dinner the whole time.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Shepherd's Pie

For tonight's dinner, I wanted to use up the rest of the leftover pork from when I made the San Francisco Pork a few days back.  I was having trouble coming up with ideas for a meal, so I googled something like leftover pulled pork recipes.  It brought me to a message board where someone had asked a similar question.  There were many suggestions, and the one I liked best was Shepherd's Pie.

I did a quick search for Shepherd's Pie recipes, and I found 2 that I based mine on:  the Simply Recipes version, and the For The Love Of Cooking version.  I made mashed potatoes (using the recipe from For The Love of Cooking), and then I started work on the meat.  I fried some onion and garlic in oil, then added the pulled pork.  Once it started heating up, I added some beef base, a little water, the juice from a can of mixed veggies, Worcestershire sauce, and thyme.   After that heated a while, I added the mixed veggies, and then a bit of cornstarch mixed with cold water to help thicken it up.  I then poured it into a pan, added the mashed potatoes to the top, and sprinkled on some chives and shredded cheese, and then popped it in the oven long enough to melt the cheese.  It was very good!  If I ever cook that San Francisco pork again, and have leftovers, this will be my go-to dish!

Hands Down the BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies EVER!

Yes, it is true!  I have located the best ever recipe to chocolate chip cookies!  They are chewy and moist, and very simple to make.  If you like chocolate chip cookies, you MUST try these!  I was checking out the foodgawker website this morning, when my youngest came in and announced that he would like to cook something.  I wasn't immediately thrilled with the idea, to say the least, but then I figured he has been bored all morning, and this would give him something to do.  About that time, I scrolled down the page, and saw a picture of some tasty-looking cookies.  The caption under the picture read. "The fluffiest, chewiest, most amazing chocolate chip cookies I've ever had--all thanks to a very surprising ingredient!"

It had my attention!  I clicked the link and was re-routed to Kelsey's Apple A Day blog, and to the recipe for BEST-EVER Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies.  I called out the ingredients to my son, and he prepared everything on his own, with only a small amount of help from me.  He followed the instructions very closely.  The only change he made was for the bittersweet chocolate chips because we didn't have any.  We had 3/4 c of semi-sweet chocolate chips and the remaining 1/4 c we used milk chocolate chips.  This made the cookies very sweet-but no complaints here!
Recommendations:  TRY THESE!

Here is the recipe for your enjoyment:

Best-Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients: 
3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened 
3/4 c. brown sugar 
1/4 c. granulated sugar 
1 egg 
2 tsp. vanilla extract 
2 c. all purpose flour 
2 tsp. cornstarch 
1 tsp. baking soda 
1/2 tsp. salt 
1 c. bittersweet chocolate chips

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars until fluffy and light in color. Add egg and vanilla and blend in.

3.  Mix in flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Stir in chocolate chunks.

4.  Using a standard-sized cookie scoop or tablespoon, drop dough onto a prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, until barely golden brown around the edges.  (The tops will not brown, but do NOT cook longer than ten minutes.)

5.  Let cool, on the sheet, on a wire rack for five minutes.  Remove from baking sheet and let cool completely.  Try not to eat them all.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Chicken Parmesan

I have to say I was a tiny bit intimidated by the thought of making Chicken Parmesan.  When I order it out, and it comes on the plate at restaurants, it's looks so pretty and well-prepared.  But when trying to come up with 2 weeks worth of recipes, I was looking for a variety of foods that I thought we would all like, and I happened to come across this recipe.  I specifically planned it for a night when I hadn't been at work all day, so I would have time and energy to complete what I thought would be a difficult and time consuming to prepare meal.  Turns out I was completely off base!

I found the recipe at Momma Hen's Kitchen, and followed the recipe pretty closely.  I did use provolone cheese instead of Swiss, since I felt it would be more authentic that way.  I was surprised by the Cajun seasoning on the ingredient list (I used Tony Chachere's), but I decided to trust the recipe, and I am glad I did-delicious!  I served it with salad and garlic bread.  This is a recipe we all enjoyed, and I will definitely make again.  It is something that I would feel comfortable making for my chef husband, as well.

Here is the recipe, as posted on the blog linked above:

Chicken Parmesan

2 cups spaghetti sauce
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1 tsp Cajun seasoning
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 slices Swiss cheese
1 egg
margarine

Heat a few tablespoons of margarine in a pan over medium high heat.  Place egg in a shallow bowl; beat slightly.  Place breadcrumbs, Cajun seasoning, and Parmesan cheese in another shallow bowl.  Dip each chicken breast in the egg, then coat well with breadcrumbs on both sides.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown chicken breasts on each side for 6 minutes, or until cooked through.  Add more margarine to pan as needed.

Place browned chicken breasts in a baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Spoon a few tablespoonfuls of spaghetti sauce over each chicken breast. Top each breast with a Swiss cheese slice.  Bake for 10 - 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted.  Serve remaining sauce over pasta.

Lack of Food Blogs Doesn't Mean I Haven't Been Cooking

...it just means the food I have been cooking I have considered mostly un-bloggable, but I decided to blog it anyhow, just to have a memory of what I made.  Monday night was chicken stir-fry.  It was okay-I made a homemade sweet and sour sauce, but I didn't care much for the sauce itself.

Tuesday I made a grilled chicken-I had placed it in marinade the night before, and then served it with macaroni & cheese and green beans.  It was pretty good.  I used a bottle of Lawry's Herb & Garlic marinade that I found in the kitchen cabinet.

Wednesday night was leftovers-this was planned since as soon as I got home from work, I knew it would be time to immediately leave again to head to church.  I don't think the boys felt too deprived. :)

Last night I made sloppy joes from a recipe, not from the canned stuff.  It had great flavor, but the recipe called for celery.  If I make it again, I will omit them-they had a crunchiness that I didn't care for.  I also made some parmesan roasted potatoes, which were tasty!

Today I made a batch of cookies:  Triple-Threat Rocky Road.  They were yummy, but I made one grave mistake-I didn't cook them long enough, so the inside was still gooey.  I hope to try this recipe again, but not any time soon-it heated up the kitchen way too much for this 100°+ weather.  

So that about does it for my almost unbloggable foods.  Tonight:  Chicken Parmesan-hoping it is blog-worthy!

C2 5K Week 7

Today I started Week 7 of Couch to 5K.  Each running day this week, I will run 2.5 miles.  I started with a nice 5 minute warm-up walk, and then took off running.  After just 1 block, I felt winded and out of breath (this doesn't usually happen until much later) and I contemplated quitting my run and trying again tomorrow.  I woke up this morning laying on my stomach-when I sleep this way, it seems to make my heart beat faster, and I tire more easily for a few hours.  I guess that was the cause of feeling winded so quickly.  Nevertheless, I decided to tough it out, and finish my run.

About half-way through, my left ankle started to hurt, but I determined that I had made it this far, and I was not going to quit.  I am so glad I didn't quit!  I was just as exhausted as my last run when I finished, but my time was 33:41 for 2.5 miles.  That is a 13:30 minute mile, which is a slight improvement even from my run 2 days ago!  I am so proud of myself for pushing through both the tiredness I was feeling, as well as the pain; but being able to beat my time despite that!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hank Aaron and Vision

Yesterday I attended a chapel service.  Roger Lewis of Life Church in North Richland Hills spoke, on having vision.  This is an area where I probably could use help in-I tend to have a hard time seeing what could-be.  I normally see things through current circumstances or situations.

Pastor Lewis’ main scripture reference was Hebrews 12:1-3:  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
After reading the scripture, he talked about Hank Aaron, the homerun king from the 1960’s.  He said that when Hank was in the dugout watching his teammates bat, he would take off his hat and cover his face with it, blocking out everything around him, but looking through the holes in the hat to concentrate on the pitchers moves.  He would look for any minor differences in the pitchers movements to tell what type of pitch was being thrown.  Then when it was time for Hank to bat, he would know what type of pitch was coming at him, and he would be better prepared to swing at the ball.  And it worked-in his 23 seasons of baseball, he hit 755 homeruns.  Hank Aaron had vision, and it made him the best.

Pastor Lewis went on with his lesson by explaining that when you don’t have vision, life can become chaos.  The scripture passage tells us where vision should begin (“let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us”):  God determines our vision, helps us walk through the course of getting to the vision, and helps us to finally achieve it.  In order to follow this vision, though, we have to do several things.

1-“Throw off everything that hinders”.  Throwing off is a violent action by us-don’t expect God to just take our hindrances away-we have to throw them off.  The examples of hindrances he gave were bank accounts, jobs, and anything that could potentially keep us pre-occupied.  He said that hindrances are not necessarily sin or bad things in general-but they become hindrances by the way we allow them to take over our lives.

2-“…and the sin that so easily entangles”.  We need to throw off sin, too.  But, in that process, realize that where you no longer can’t, God can!  Rely on Him.  Deal with the ugliness of sin.  Confess your sin, and then release it (by forgiving yourself).  Isaiah 53:6 says:  We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.  1 John 1:9 tells us:  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

3- “…run with perseverance the race..”  Do it with urgency!  Do it for the long haul-when you get knocked down, get up and do it again!  Think about football players who get knocked down over and over, but yet keep getting up and doing it again and again.  1 Timothy 4:16 says:  Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Think of your race as a contest-it’s not always easy, but you can do it again.  Run the race God has marked for you.  Deal with your hindrances and your sin, and you will keep the vision God has given you.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Calamity and Disaster

Today has been a day of calamity and disaster.  I began the day by praying for my hubby and the people of Haiti, as Hurricane Irene was headed that direction.  Then in the early afternoon, we received word that a 5.8 earthquake had hit near Washington DC, and it was felt from Maine down to Alabama, and as far west as Detroit.  I became glued to news coverage.  I began turning my thoughts and attention towards the negatives of calamity and disaster.  It was as if the weight of the world was on my shoulders, and I couldn't shake it, but yet I kept feeding the negative by continuing to get my fill of news coverage.  Anxiety began to build up in me in a big way.  I allowed the circumstances of what was going on in the world to affect me.  Before it was time for my commute home, I was tense all over.

As I got in the car, I turned on my Hillsong CD to change my attention from the negatives of disaster towards God.  He alone is in control of our world and our lives.  When circumstances in the world come, it is so easy to change our focus off of God and onto the circumstances, but if we allow Him to stay at the center of our attention, He will guide us along on our way.

The Hillsong song "Our God Is Greater" comes to mind.  Part of the chorus is:  "Our God is Greater.  Our God is stronger.  God, You are higher than any other.  Our God is healer, awesome in power."  It continues, "And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?  And if our God is with us, then what could stand against us?"  I thank the Lord for the gentle reminder to keep my attention and focus on Him, even in the midst of calamity and disaster.

6 Minutes and 22 Seconds

So, I decided to quit whining about how slow I run, and do something about it.  Honestly, when I run, I just take off on a nice, leisurely jog.  Almost as if I am running without purpose.  I think I felt like I was doing something good because 1-I was losing weight and 2-I was all sweaty and a bit out of breath when I got back from my runs.  So, there.  That's all I have to do, right?  Just jog a little, and that will get me ready for my 5K?  Not so much!

After Fridays depressing run (2.25 miles - .5 of which was walked) that took me 37:06 to finish-that's a pace of about 16:30 for a mile (slower than most people walk), I decided I MUST be doing something wrong!  I had to take action!

So for my next run, I did everything the same:  2.25 miles (well-no walking this time!), except the last leg of the run-which normally takes in the 5 minute range-I ran as fast as I could, and then sprinted the last 1/2 block.  My time improved up to 35:30, which is a 15.7 minute mile.  Still slow!  But I proved to myself that I could consistently run faster.  I was MUCH hotter after my run, and my heart was racing faster than it has since I started this 6 weeks ago.

For todays run, my goal was to break the 15 minute mile.  I decided to run as fast as I believed my body would allow me to run, and yet still last the duration of the run.  Another 2.25 miles, all running.  After my first loop around taking 5 minutes, I started calculating in my head how long I thought it could take me to complete my run if I maintained my pace.  I figured the best time I could complete my run would be about 30 minutes-which would place me within my goal of breaking a 15 minute mile.

Second loop around and I was starting to wear out!  Could I maintain this speed for the full 2.25 miles?  Third (and longer) loop, I was huffing and puffing!  And onto a straighaway-I had to start talking to myself telling myself that this is possible, and to keep pushing.  Last loop-I was dying!  Why was no one watering their lawns?  I needed to run through some water!  And finally, at long last, my last straighaway-could I do it?  I fixed my eyes on the end of the road and kept telling myself I was going to make it, even though I didn't feel like I could.  I ran what felt like must be the fastest pace possible to run.  I could hear myself breathing so deeply and loudly that if someone saw me they would probably call an ambulance (good thing I run in the wee hours of the morning).

I sprinted the last little bit, and finished in 30:44!  As soon as I finished, I collapsed into my yard.  It felt good to just lay there and not move!  I didn't stay there long-I had to get up and figure out what my pace was.  It was 13.6 minute mile pace!  I exceeded my goal by more than I thought was even possible!  And I shaved 6:22 off of my time from just 5 days earlier!  All because I decided to run with purpose.  Wow-that could preach!  What more could we do for God if we just decided to run with purpose?

I still have a long way to go (no way I can run a 5K huffing and puffing like that-but I've got time to work on that), and have more goals to meet, but today I have learned that I am capable of much more than I thought.  And it feels good!

Where I collapsed (ignore the dead grass-we've had triple digit heat for too long!)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Bits of Encouragement

My phone is quickly wearing out-I am preparing for my upgrade, which will happen on September 1-and that day can't get here quick enough!  As part of preparation for getting rid of the phone, I am going through and deleting old stuff I am done with.  I have a memos app (that remind me of post-its) that I take sermon notes on, write down things I need to remember, and that type of thing.  I have been contemplating what to do with the sermon notes.  Some I have deleted, but others I have re-read and the points have spoken to me, and I hate to get rid of them!  So, here are the words of encouragement and other stuff that I might find helpful in the future, and you may too!

From Youth Camp Night 1, Madu, in a message titled "The Frustration of Freedom":
The enemy wants you to doubt your citizenship with God.  It is a process to get your behavior in line with your citizenship.
It is easier to walk in what is familiar than to walk by faith.

From church June 24, Pastor, in a message titled "Activities that Spiritual People Should be Involved In-Ministry":
Choose sides!  All are called; few are chosen.  Why?  Because they are faithful.

From church in Troy, Joyce, July 31, in a message titled "Cleaning Our Temple":
Praise God in the midst of everything.  Change your mindset to please God.
Just because something is permissible does not make it beneficial. (See 1 Corinthians 6:12)

From Youth, My hubby, August 3, in a sermon titled "Dust in the Wind":
Whatever you try to do apart from God is meaningless.  (Refer to Ecclesiastes 2)
Psalm 90 says we are given 70 years to live, but then it is appointed unto man once to die.  What are you going to do with your 70 years?  What do you do with/for Christ?

A friend posted this quote on facebook one day-I do not know anything about the author:
I refuse to allow apathy, complacency, and laziness to dominate a life that Jesus has so graciously blessed me with!-Perry Noble

From Youth, My hubby, August 10, in a sermon titled "No Man Can Serve 2 Masters":
What is your god?  The things you set your affection on.
The one you feed will grow.  The one you don't feed will die out.

From Youth Sunday School, Susan, August 21, in a message about oppression:
Moses prayed daily for relief from the oppression the Israelites faced.  What if he only prayed once, or for a week, and never again?  They would still be in Egypt.  Pray until you receive your answer!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Two Home Cooked Meals!

I think I am actually getting the hang of this cooking thing!  As long as I pull meat out of the freezer, I am making a meal happen!  For lunch today, I had decided to make a recipe for Slow Cooker San Francisco Chops that I had found online, but when I started preparing it this morning, I realized it would not be ready until dinner time.  There went my idea for having leftovers for dinner!  (Believe it or not after last nights leftovers, the fridge has nearly no leftovers in it!)  So I pulled out a pound of ground beef to thaw.

Lunch ended up being cheeseburgers-I started off using the recipe I found at beefitswhatsfordinner.com, but then I basically scratched that whole concept-instead of oats I used ranch flavored bread crumbs, and then a little bit of this and a little bit of that, until it just felt right!  The oldest (and pickiest!) told me that they tasted as good as dads!  That said-he kept telling me some ingredients that the hubby puts in his burgers, so I guess they would have to taste similar.  For a side dish, the oldest asked for fries.  I suggested potato logs, and he said that sounded good.  I found a recipe for potato logs at copykatchat.com (the recipe from 11-7-06 at 4:23 PM).  He made them mostly by himself, with a few minor seasoning-change suggestions from me.  

Dinner was the San Francisco Chops (which were actually boneless ribs) found at melskitchencafe.com, rice (plain white rice-nothing special), and Corn Salad found at motherthyme.com.  

For the chops (oops-I ended up using boneless ribs-is that a bad thing?), the blogger pleaded for anyone using the recipe to brown the meat before adding it to the slow cooker, and not to eliminate the red pepper.  I decided I would follow those instructions because the blogger was so insistent.  The only thing I changed was to use regular white sugar and a bit of molasses instead of the brown sugar-you guessed it-I couldn't find any!  I HIGHLY recommend this recipe!  Yummy!  The boys both really enjoyed it, and told me they would like me to make it again.

For the corn, I had some leftover corn on the cob that came fresh from the farmers market.  I can't let fresh corn go to waste-it just has too much yummy flavor!  I just had to add a little garlic to the recipe, and since we only had regular white onion at the house, I used that in place of the red onion.  I realize that the flavors are different (and the coloring would be lacking, too) but I figured white onion was better than no onion.  In order to cool it before dinner, I placed it in the freezer to chill quickly.  The verdict:  not so great.  I finished what was on my plate, but scraped the leftovers in the trash.  The boys didn't care for it either.  Oh well-at least the pork was good!

Consequences

One my least favorite things to do as a parent is having to correct my kids when they don't follow rules.  I caught one of the boys up after bed time watching tv last night-breaking 2 rules-up late, and more than the allowed time to watch tv.  I had him turn it off and go to bed.  I went to bed contemplating how to deal with his behavior.  I wanted to just ignore it-pretend like it never happened.  But realistically how is that helping him?  It would only teach him that he is allowed to ignore the rules we have in place because there are no consequences to breaking the rules.  And if there are no consequences to rules, the way that I am preparing him for adulthood is all wrong-he will always have a problem defying authority.  Better learned now than in adulthood.

I went back to the Bible (Proverbs 13:24) to give myself the pep talk:  "Whoever spares the rod hates their child, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them."  Great reminder!  Ignoring the problem is the equivalent of hate for my child-I better not do that!  So correction it is!

If the tv is the culprit, then the tv must go.  I hate taking the tv away, but it must be done-especially on the verge of school starting, and knowing we will have busy schedules.  I pray this is what is right to do, and it corrects the problem permanently.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Crumbles

I had made up in my mind that there would be no cooking tonight-just leftovers.  But as I was digging through the leftover containers, I made a discovery.  The hubby had made some fried pies before he left for Haiti, and had some leftover filling that didn't get used.  Yum!  Peach and blackberry, and they were both still good!  I certainly would hate to see that go to waste!

So I googled a recipe for an oatmeal crumble topping, and found it on cooks.com.  Score!  Very simple too!  If we ever have leftover pie filling again, I will definitely use this!  Too bad there was no ice cream in the freezer!

Fried Pork Chops, Purple Hull Peas, Mashed Potatoes, Fried Okra, And Yes-Even Homemade Gravy

Today I reasoned that if I made a big lunch, dinner could be leftovers.  I knew we had some purple hull peas that we purchased at the farmers market that needed to be used, plus the remaining pork needed to be cooked.  We also had some okra from the garden that needed to be cooked, and a big bag of potatoes-I felt a meal coming together quickly!

I found a recipe for fried pork chops at foodnetwork.com courtesy of Paula Deen.  If Paula Deen made it, I know it must be good!  My changes (and yes, you know I made them!):  we were out of seasoned salt, but we did have Chachere's, so I used it in place of the seasoned salt, and the "house seasoning" in both parts of the recipe.  I used regular milk in place of buttermilk.  They turned out very yummy!  A little on the dark side because my meat thermometer wasn't working quite right-but still very tasty!  I made a gravy using flour and milk when I was done cooking the pork with a bit of the left over pan drippings.  I impressed myself by not even looking up a recipe for this!

I found a recipe for the purple hull peas at a new-to-me website:  cookinglouisiana.com.   I have never cooked these before-in fact, I am not sure if I have ever eaten them before.  They taste similar to black eyed peas, but have a sweeter taste.  Delicious!  I wish I would have purchased more.  My changes:  I used fresh, rather than canned peas.  My ham hock was fully cooked, so as soon as it was boiling, I added the peas.  I left out the green onion, and used dried garlic and parley rather than fresh.

The fried okra recipe I found at allrecipes.com.  Believe it or not, I actually did not change anything about this recipe, other than using more than the okra it called for.  We had about 15 okra pods, so I used them all.  You can't go wrong with a standard okra recipe, and this one was no different.

Homemade mashed potatoes are always delicious, but rarely made because they are time consuming.  I didn't care today.  I found the mashed potato recipe at allrecipes.com.  I followed that recipe pretty closely, but I did also add a ramen chicken flavoring packet at the end when I was adding the milk.

All in all, I thought it was a good meal, and the boys enjoyed it, too.  I am glad there are leftovers so I don't have to cook tonight!

How Exactly Do You Use An Air Compressor?

The older I get, the harder it is for me when my husband is gone for extended periods of time.  He was gone for months for basic training, and over a year when he was deployed to Iraq.  You would think I have the hang of this by now.  Before he left, my mindset was, "I got this!  Two weeks-no problem!"  But, here I am on day 3 of him being gone to Haiti, and I've already had a melt down!  I never realize how much he does for me because I just don't know how.

I already had a frustrating morning dealing with getting the boys stuff for back-to-school (we normally do this together) trying to choose between the needs and the wants (at this point, they just get needs until after another payday).  Grrrr...on the verge of tears, I came back to the house, just in time for Round 2.

The youngest sons bike tire was flat last week, so we purchased a patch for the tube, and the hubby patched it.  Unfortunately, there must be an additional hole somewhere because the tire was flat again this morning.  No problem-he could just use my bike the first week of school-but it too had a flat tire (it hadn't been used over the summer).  The good news is I watched my hubby airing up the bike tire with his air compressor, so I would know what attachment to use and where it was located in the event I needed to use it while he was away.  The bad news was, I couldn't get the attachment onto the hose.  And I felt the pressure-he had to have a bike for the first day of school.  Okay, this time I did have a meltdown.  Why couldn't I just figure out how to use this thing?  In my frustration, I prayed to God to make this work out for me.  As soon as I was done praying, youtube came to mind.  So I went to youtube and searched "air compressor how to".  Amazing!  There was a series of videos on "How To Use an Air Compressor"!  And there was a specific video on "How to Connect An Air Compressor" from a group called Expert Village.  Woo hoo!  This made my day!

Here is the wonderful, quick and simple video that saved my day!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Easy Beef Stroganoff

I almost wasn't going to blog about lunch today, but then I figured I might as well-if nothing else, then at least I can find the recipe later.  It is the Friday before school starts for the boys so we have had a busy morning-sports physical, withdrawal paperwork from the old school, pick up schedule from the new school, and other similar stuff to prepare for Monday.  When I got back to the house, my first thought was the simple-grilled cheese sandwiches.  But, tonight's dinner will be hot dogs at the oldest sons school.  And I did promise myself that I would cook one "real" meal everyday.  Thankfully I had pulled some ground beef out of the freezer last night, but I didn't have any specific recipe in mind.  I checked the cabinet, and no spaghetti sauce, but I found some egg noodles, and remembered when we bought them, we had picked up some sour cream, too, for stroganoff.

After a quick internet search, I found a recipe that didn't use cream of mushroom (it's not a staple at our house) at allrecipes.com.  As usual, I made my own changes based on what we had in the house, and what I felt like improvising.  I left out mushrooms, added garlic, and left everything in the pan together rather than cooking the onion first, and adding it back to the pan later.  It came out pretty good-although I didn't add enough salt.  Both boys liked it, and it is something that I would very possibly make again.  The picture below is from the recipe's website; I didn't take a picture of my finished product.

C2 5K Week 6

Today I began week 6 of Couch to 5K.  I had said that I was going to try something different to improve my speed because I felt like I was running too slowly.  Up until this week, though, I had been following the plan based on the time the instructions said to run and walk for.  I figured I could give it another few weeks running the distance it suggested instead.  Today, the distance was 2.25 miles.  It involved running 1/2 mile, walking 1/4 mile, running 3/4 mile, walking 1/4 mile, and running the last 1/2 mile.

My youngest found out I was running a 5K and wants to join me, so he came along for my run.  Or, maybe I should say I went with him.  Had we been on a track, and not in our neighborhood, he probably would have lapped me at least twice-yet, another reminder about how slowly I run!  It took me 37:06 to complete my run/walk.  Just like my last run-I am so proud of myself for completing what I have done, but I feel so inadequate in the speed that I produce.  I hope I don't embarrass myself when I run this 5K!  I have sooo much more training to do!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Montreal Pork and Strawberry Flan

When my husband booked his flight to Zimbabwe last year, my youngest son seemed upset.  I asked him what was wrong, and he told me that he didn't want to eat leftovers and sandwiches for 2 weeks.  My hubby cooks 99% of the meals at our house.  When he has to work late or can't be here for dinner, my solution is almost always leftovers or sandwiches.  I don't dislike cooking; I just don't like the time that the whole process takes, and due to lack of experience, I am not good at improvising.  Due to my sons statements, when the hubby planned this trip out of town, I determined that I would be very intentional about making sure the boys ate "real" meals at least once a day.  So, for the next couple weeks, I will probably be blogging about food quite a bit since the whole process of cooking is a bit out-of-the-norm for me.

I hadn't even thought about dinner until around noon today, and it was then that I realized all our meat was in the freezer.  I called my son, and had him get the boneless pork chops out of the freezer to thaw.  A few years ago I discovered a very simple and tasty recipe for pork that doesn't involve marinating for hours, so I figured I would make that.  McCormick makes some seasonings under the name Grill Mates, and the particular blend we usually have in the house is the Montreal Steak seasoning.  Their recipe for marinade can be found here.  It only calls for 3 ingredients (Montreal seasoning, olive oil, and soy sauce) which is my kind of recipe, and only needs to marinate for 30 minutes.  One quick call home right as I was leaving work, and the youngest had the pork in marinade, ready for me to grill when I got home.  We also had some corn on the cob (still in the husks) in the fridge, so I cooked that, and added some bread and we had a yummy dinner that we all enjoyed.




Dessert is something rarely eaten at our house.  For one thing, we are normally full after dinner, but it is just another thing to prepare, so it usually is overlooked unless we have guests over, or if we just particularly are in the mood for something specific.  Tonight, however, I was fully aware of the fresh strawberries in the fridge that probably wouldn't last much longer.  As I was searching the internet (again for a quick, simple recipe), I found this blog for a Summer Strawberry Flan.  I scanned the ingredient list, and it looked like I had everything.  I made adjustments, which is completely normal for me-not because I think the finished product will taste better, but usually because I need to substitute something that we don't have in the house.  I used regular sugar since I had never heard of caster sugar (who knows-my hubby will probably tell me there was some here when he gets back-lol), and I didn't have little flan dishes, so I used a pie plate.  Also-no powdered sugar-so we just did without.  I asked the boys what they thought of the final product-they liked it (and went back for seconds), but when I asked if I should make it again or find a new recipe, the oldest said to find a new recipe.  Glad dinner is over and time to relax!  Now I need to plan what to cook for tomorrow!

Mercy Chefs Trip to Haiti

Early this morning I dropped my husband off at the airport for a 2 week trip to Haiti with an organization called Mercy Chefs.  Simply put, Mercy Chefs is a Christian non-profit whose purpose is to provide food in disaster relief situations.  They help both the victims of disasters, as well as relief workers.  My husband has been to Haiti and several countries in Africa with Mercy Chefs over the past couple years.  Each time he comes back, he has such heart-breaking stories.

Due to Haiti's location in the Atlantic, it has been hit by numerous hurricanes and tropical storms.  Back in January of 2010, Haiti was hit by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake, which devasated the already "economically vulnerable" country. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed as a result of the earthquake, and it left at least another 1 million people homeless.  In this article, journalist Eric Farnsworth states, "Even in good times, Haiti is an economic wreck, balancing precariously on the razors edge of calamity."  Still today, Haiti has not recovered from this disaster, and millions live in tent villages.

Mercy Chefs has been helping Haiti since the earthquake in 2010, building a kitchen, training Haitians how to run the kitchen, and teaching them how to produce food products they can sell to encourage economical growth.  My husband is returning to the same kitchen he assisted in organizing, as well as to provide additional assistance as needed in the kitchen and village.  I am so looking forward to hear how this village has progressed since he left there about a year ago.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Speaking Life Into Dead, Dry Bones

Today I attended a chapel service, and Reverend Dale Shorter gave a message from Ezekiel 37.  I’ve heard the story of Ezekiel’s walk through the dry bones before, but Pastor Shorter brought that story alive today in a refreshing way, and spoke words I needed to hear.  (He even brought a skeleton to bring home the point!)  I am so thankful when ministers hear from God, and speak out what He would have them speak, and in turn touches me where my needs are.  Here are some of the things Pastor Shorter had to say.

“Form without life is of no value.” Such were the bones represented in Ezekiel’s case.  The bones had the form of bodies, but yet had no life, so they were of no value.
“There are a lot of people who will settle for having form without having life.”  Think of people who seem to have it all (millions of dollars in the bank), but what they had to compromise for it (marriage or family).
In the pile of bones Ezekiel was looking at, were the bones of what had been young men, men of valor, who had died defending what was theirs.  But now, not even the vultures were interested in the dry bones.  It makes you wonder how a mighty army, such as this, became a pile of dry and dusty bones.  Romans 1:21 says “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”  They no longer had a covering, and sin brought death.  Verse 14 of Ezekiel 37 says to prophecy over the bones by saying “I will make breath come into you…and then you will know I am the Lord.”
With your mouth, you can speak to something that is not just sick, but it is dead, and life will emerge.  God wanted Ezekiel to speak it out, rather than speaking it Himself, and that is something we can do, too.  Pastor Shorter asked, “What gleam in your eye is not there anymore?”  He gave suggestions of a marriage with problems, or a spiritual life that is not where it should be.  No matter the situation, God wants to speak life into your situation, but you have to speak out what He says to speak out.  Speak life.  God wants you to speak to the dry bones to give them life.  God never puts a dream in a person’s life that was meant to die.  Speak over those things, and speak life.

Celebrate or Criticize?

Today is one of those days where I should be celebrating my milestone, but can't work up the enthusiasm because of failure in other areas.

Reasons to celebrate:
1. I made it through 5 weeks of Couch to 5K this morning!
2. This means I ran 20 minutes continuously without walking!  (Which, by the way, is pretty good-when I have run with other plans in the past it has taken me 8 weeks to accomplish this.)

Reasons to criticize:
1. It took me 20 minutes to run 1.1 miles.  That is as slow as slower than some people walk.
2. I had lost 9 pounds, but have gained 4 back because my eating has been out of control.

What this all means:
1. I have finally made a habit of running again, which is a major accomplishment.  I am glad to finally have found motivation.
2. I am pushing myself harder than I have in the past, and as a result I have reached my running goal quicker than in the past!  Yippee!
3. While Couch to 5K has been wonderful in terms of getting me running, now that I can run 20 minutes continuously, it is time for me to search for a way to increase my speed through a different program.
4. I desperately need to get back on track with eating right.

I will allow myself to celebrate, but only with the knowledge that I still have a long way to go.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Team Roping

Tonight after work, I met my husband and we went out to eat.  When we got back to pick up his truck, the team ropers were gathering and getting ready to start practice.  It's been some time since I have watched ropers in action, so we decided to stay and watch for a while.

First, they corralled the the steers.

Then the cowboys lined up.

And then practice began.

I really enjoyed watching, although I had no desire whatsoever to get on a horse. What impressed me most was a 4 year old girl out practicing riding her horse.  She appeared to have complete control over horse and rode him all over the arena.  My camera has no zoom lens so I couldn't get a picture of her.  Amazing!  I was told that when she turns 5 she is going to start barrel racing.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Thankful for Phones

I follow Joyce Meyer Ministries on facebook.  Today she had the following status update:

I remember when I had to park my car and go into a store to make a phone call. Recently I found myself complaining because I had a one-mile stretch of highway without a cell phone signal. How quickly we forget to be thankful for what we have. –Joyce

What a great reminder to me to be thankful for everything at all times, and not to take things for granted!  Psalm 30:12 says "that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.  Lord my God, I will praise you forever."

Thank you Lord for all the blessings you have given me, even when I have neglected to notice or to tell you.  Lord, give me a heart of thankfulness at all times!  Amen.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Farmers Market

I love the Farmer's Market!  Whenever we have a free Saturday, we try to go.  Today was one such rare, free Saturday.





We picked up cherries, blackberries, strawberries, peaches, purple hull peas, and corn.  Can't wait to eat them!

There were a bunch of carved watermelons on display today.  This was my favorite:

We also picked up lunch while there.  I had a Chicago Roast Beef sandwich with peppers and onions and a pasta salad.  The hubby had an Italian Sausage sandwich.  Yum!  Then we shared some Sock It To Me cake for dessert.  Such an enjoyable and delicious day!

Thinking Ahead-What Next?

I've been training for the Matam Project 5K going into my 5th week now.  It has been an incredible motivator for me.  But what about after the run?  Will I still be motivated to run three days a week?  Or will I fall back into the rut of not exercising and gaining weight back?

My sister-in-law ran a "Mud Run" back in the spring, and was telling me a little bit about it yesterday.  Mud runs are a group (I believe of 4) runners that run through an obstacle course that is muddy.  Since I am not really competitive, this really interests me-it is the motivation to train for something that is not all about coming in first place.  It (appears to be) about having fun on your trip to the finish line.  That is my kind of race!  The next one in the area is in April.  I'm thinking I may have to get a team together!


Friday, August 12, 2011

Caricatures

I love caricatures!  At our last Boredom Buster of the summer today, the hubby and I both had one done at the Main Event.  They just make me laugh!



Thursday, August 11, 2011

Did Someone Say Rain?

Shortly after lunch today, one of my co-workers came to my office and told me that rain was on its way!  We are in severe drought right now and I don't know the last time it rained-perhaps a month or two ago.  I suddenly was filled with energy!  I went outside, and the wind was blowing, there were storm clouds overhead, and I could smell the rain!  I was prepared to clock out early just so I could play in the rain when it came.

I believe yesterday was day 40 for 100°+ temperatures.  42 days is the record for the North Texas area.  I checked weather.com, and the current temperature was 97°.  I wonder if the temperature dropped, or if we won't beat the record.  The temperature kept dropping.  The lowest I saw was 79°!  It doesn't even get this cool at night!

Facebook was exploding with friends posting status updates about the weather.  Even pictures were posted:

And then, almost as quickly as it appeared-it all disappeared.  The wind stopped.  The sun came back out.  The beautiful smell of rain vanished, too.  The temperature started rising back toward the triple digit area.  It was such a disappointment!

What Do I Know Of Holy?


Today I have the song "What Do I Know Of Holy?" by Addison Road going through my head.  I keep re-playing it on youtube.

Here is a link for you to view:

The lyrics have a great message:

I made You promises a thousand times
I tried to hear from Heaven
But I talked the whole time
I think I made You too small
I never feared You at all No
If You touched my face would I know You?
Looked into my eyes could I behold You?

(CHORUS)
What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
What do I know? What do I know of Holy?

I guess I thought that I had figured You out
I knew all the stories and I learned to talk about
How You were mighty to save
Those were only empty words on a page
Then I caught a glimpse of who You might be
The slightest hint of You brought me down to my knees

(CHORUS)
What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
What do I know? What do I know of Holy?

(CHORUS 2)
What do I know of Holy?
What do I know of wounds that will heal my shame?
And a God who gave life "its" name?
What do I know of Holy?
Of the One who the angels praise?
All creation knows Your name
On earth and heaven above
What do I know of this love?

(CHORUS)
What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
What do I know? What do I know of Holy?

What do I know of Holy?
What do I know of Holy?


Addison Road is a band that has had their fair share of struggles, and the lyrics to their songs tells stories that give words to help deal with struggles.  Here is a paragraph from the bio on their website:

For all their tests and travails, the members of Addison Road have somehow found themselves in a pretty contented place. It’s as if God has brought them through an arduous mountain climb so they can deliver these “Stories” with genuineness, and remind their listeners that the climb may be difficult, but you can see a lot of good things once you’ve reached the top.