Saturday, February 28, 2009

Menu Monday - on Saturday again :-)

Okay - so I am posting it early again this week. I do my grocery shopping on Saturdays so it is easier to make up my menu then - :-)
DD19 and her boyfriend decided to come home from college this weekend. Both felt they needed a break from their roommates so it is nice to have her home. I'm glad I had some menus planned that are things she likes.

Impossible Enchilada Pie/lettuce/tomato/sour cream
DQ for dessert (half price today and we all can use a treat!)

This was delicious! I should have taken a picture. I picked up an avocado at the store so we topped the pie with some sour cream, diced tomatoes, avocado slices and ripe olives - and had some lettuce on the side. DD17 enjoyed making hers into a 'restaurant' presentation. I made two pies so I can freeze one for a future meal.

Pork Roast and Potatoes in Crock Pot
Cooked apples in another crock pot :-)
Schwan's baguette

BBQ pork sandwiches
Roasted veggies

Tuesday - Girls party for a friend - I'm taking Super Brownies

Turkey and Dressing Casserole
Cranberry Sauce

Soft tacos
Cheesy Rice

Peanut butter sandwich

Homemade pizza

Missions Conference and a treat for me

This week is our Mission Conference at church and last night was seminar night. We had 15 different speakers who talked about their 'missions' or opportunities for us to serve. It was very interesting. The sessions are divided into 5 categories (3 each) such as Global Missions, Local Missions, Evangelism, (don't know what all 5 were). Then they are set up in 5 rooms and 3 time slots. Each person can choose which session they want to attend in each time slot - attending 3 sessions in the evening.

Going into the evening I was only interested in the College Ministry session - mostly because I have daughters that fall into that category and can see there is a need for something to help them stay connected to the church family. Our church is also located within 3 miles of a state university. The church in the past has tried several different ministries reaching out to the students there but nothing has lasted long term. Usually the leaders moved on to somewhere else and the ministry fell to the wayside. The session is wanting to come up with something that the church can sustain. It was a good session and there were several recent college grads who had a lot to input into the discussion. DD19 and her boyfriend attended with me and they had some input - mostly "FOOD" - if you offer home cooked meals you will get them to come :-)

Since DD17 was working in the nursery, I had to stay for the whole evening so I chose the Bethany Christian Services for my second session. It was good - but she should have handed out tissues at the door as we came in. She showed a short video (Everything to Me) to a song written by a man to his birth mother thanking her for making the sacrifice to give him a better life. The video showed a young lady who was pregnant, went into labor, delivered and gave her baby up for adoption. The man's story followed in a second video (Story behind Everything to Me) One of the young ladies in our church within the last month had delivered a beautiful baby that she dearly loved and wanted to keep - but knowing she could not do so financially (unemployed and a student) she gave it to a family through Bethany. So the video really hit home to many of us in the room who have struggled with this young lady in her decision.
The speaker was very interesting, telling about domestic, global and embryo adoptions. They will not consider a couple for adoption unless they are actively involved in a church so that is a comfort to the birth mothers who use their service. Most adoptions today are open adoptions with the birth mother choosing the parents and allowed to see the child at least once a year. The young lady in our church chose a family who will allow her to see the baby 4 times a year and live about 3 hours away.
This morning I found the lyrics to Everything to Me. I love the song!

The third and final session is where I was given a 'treat'. I planned to go to the session on the Chippewa mission trip that the church is planning for this summer. For many years the church has gone to the Lummi Reservation in Washington. The past couple years entire families have gone and it is quite expensive to fly a family of four - so the church has been looking for something within a reasonable driving distance and with a more flexible time frame. So I was just curious about the new location and people. But when I got to that room it was already packed with pre-teens - so I went to my second choice - The Gideons.

One of the men in our church is a member of The Gideons. They are an international group of men who promote God's Word in many ways. He showed slides and videos of a trip he made with the Gideons to Thailand. Very interesting and a beautiful country. They handed out Bibles in the Thai language to students, hospital patients and even to the Buddhist monks who are everywhere on the streets. He told many stories of God's providence and protection while they were in Thailand. And in case you are curious - the Gideons pay all their own travel expenses. Any money donated to The Gideons goes 100% to buying Bibles and New Testatments.

As he closed the program he passed out greeting cards that individuals can use to purchase Bibles for The Gideons to distribute (they are responsible for the Bibles in hotel rooms in the US). He wanted to show us how easy it was to honor someone by donating a Bible in their name. Glancing at me, he pulled out a little well-worn notebook and started flipping through the pages. He said he makes notes of things to do and some time ago he had made a note and had never followed up on it but was going to take care of that right now. He stood next to where I was seated and leaned down so I could see the pages as he was flipping - he had many items crossed off and finally came to a page that wasn't - there is said "Thank You to Mary C and Pastor - Marriage Retreat"

So he took a "Thinking of You" card and filled in the form on the inside saying 5 bibles were being donated in honor or Mary C. He added a line saying, "Thank you for your service". Then on the other side of the card he wrote something like "Thank you for all the work on the marriage retreat." Placing the card in the envelope, he handed it to me. Then he took the smaller envelope that was in the card and filled out that he was paying for 5 Bibles ($25) and that a card had already been sent to the honoree. It was that easy - and it made me feel very honored and appreciated. To think that someone who works hard for his money was willing to give up $25 because he appreciated what I had done. It did not matter that I did not receive the money - I felt blessed to be the 'reason' he was making the donation. I felt like I have received a special unexpected gift. It certainly make me want to do the same when I want to show someone I appreciate them. So I took a box of 10 cards to have on hand for just such an occassion :-)

I can see how God uses everyday things like a man's lack of follow up on his note made the end of January, and a room full of pre-teens to glorify Him. Isn't He wonderful!?!?!?!?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

My, how things have changed!

Just musing this morning about how things have changed in the last 20 or so years. DH and I were married in Nov 1988 and he was a 'neat freak'. I am a 'clutterer' myself. We did discuss that before marrying (only dated for 5 months so not much time to discuss a lot of things about what we expected in our marriage but this was an obvious area of contention). I told him that if he wanted a neat and tidy home, he would have to do the cleaning because I would never be able to keep up to his expectations. He agreed.
I used to tell people he cleaned because he liked to clean. He corrected me - he cleaned because he liked a clean house. (I do too but I love my creative hobbies more and they came first).
When we had kids (2 kids within the first 3 years of marriage) it only got worse. He would come home from work and start putting away all their toys. It was like they were not allowed to have anything out of its place.
And he was constantly cleaning up after me when I was cooking (for he record he would not cook - so I cooked and he cleaned up after meals). I remember one time I was making homemade egg noodles and he was using the dustbuster to pick up some flour that fell to the floor while I was working - in my way! How compulsive is that?????
It only got worse as the kids got older and more active. DH would clean on his day off work mid-week and once he had the house perfect, he would lay down for a nap. We three girls would come home during his nap and just in the usual activities (girls doing homework, playing, my fixing supper) we would 'destroy' his perfect house. Now that is his opinion - actually if one thing was out of place or if we walked through the vacuum pattern in the living room (which we rarely used) he thought the whole house was a mess.
And if we had guests for the girls' birthdays or family gatherings he really had a problem with that. He could just not stand having other people in his house. He barely tolerated having his kids in the house - and often said "I can't wait until they are grown!" He really contradicted himself - one minute saying the girls would be locked in the basement until they were 36 (to keep them from making foolish mistakes as teens) and the next saying they were out of the house when they turned 18.
About 8 to 9 years ago, he agreed the girls could get 2 kittens from some friends of the family. What a disaster! He expected the darling little kittens to be clean - but between a litter box in the utility room and the hair they shed - he never had a peaceful moment. Six months later he gave the girls an ultimatum - find a new home for the kittens or he would take care of them. A friend of the extended family took both kittens - and we threw in all the cat supplies free - and the girls missed them terribly.
About a year after that he told the girls they could get ONE kitten - and we made him sign a piece of paper stating that he could not get rid of it or kill it. We got Louie then and DH did better but it was still an area of contention.
One day my niece was visiting when DH came home from work. I told her that he would walk into the house (which was clean by most people's standards) and wipe down the kitchen counter (even though nothing had been done on it since he cleaned it the night before) then walk into the bathroom and clean the mirror and finally walk into the family room and clean the screen on the TV. He did this every evening. Sure enough - he did it just as I described - and couldn't figure out why we were laughing.
Now - I am telling you all of that so you can appreciate how he has changed :-). About 5 years ago he was diagnosed as clinically depressed and began taking medication. Since they he has progressively 'let go' of some of the obesessions about cleanliness.
I walked into the kitchen this morning and the dog 'smear' on the door window were very obvious (before DH would have cleaned it at least once a day - now many once a week). I had the ironing board and iron out last night in the living room while I was watching a DVD and it is still there (before he would have put it away as soon as I got done). The chair where I do my cross stitch and knitting has yarn and cross stitch supplies piled next to it (before he would have insisted these be put away every night) . The kitchen sink has dishes in it (before he could not go to bed with anything dirty). The dining room has storage boxes of scrapbooking stuff piled up in one corner (before he would have complained about that until I completed my project and got them back to the basement).
It is amazing how the diagnosis and proper treatment have changed our lives. I am sometimes the one who 'picks up'. He still has his moments but they are short-lived. Instead of yelling about something all evening he says something or asks "Can you get this cleaned up before the weekend?" And when we have family guests - usually overnight now that we have moved away from most of them - he actually tells them to come back!
It was a long struggle but I thank God that DH found some peace at least in that area.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


When my sister was here in January we did some card-making. Here are some of my latest creations (I need to practice the photography - sorry they are not the best).

The snow angels is one of my favorite Stampin' Up sets. It is discontinued but I finally got one on E-Bay and love using it to make blank note cards for the winter months.

This is another of the stamps in the Snow Angels set.

This is one my sister created and I copied. I love the colors.
It is green and burgundy.

These are some graduation announcement/invitations that I designed for DD17's graduation in June. The school colors are orange and black. I made up several and asked her what she liked - or what she wanted me to change. This one was the winner.

To the others I have added the Congrats stamp and will give to her friends and classmates - nothing wasted.

Monday, February 23, 2009

He just doesn't understand :-)

I did the turkey breast (about 8 lbs) in the crockpot during the night while we slept. It was actually too large for the crock pot- the lid would not fit on so I wound up cutting through the backbone and the ribs and breaking it so it sat flatter in the crock pot.

It was perfect when I got up this morning (about 4:45 since I knew I had to take the time to do something with the turkey before leaving for work). I was just going to transfer it to a pan and put it in the frig until this evening but it just fell off the bones so I wound up taking out all the bones and taking off the skin and then refrigerating the meat only. That made it much nicer to finish up this evening.

I cut up the meat and put enough for the 3 of us (and probably 3 more people) in a casserole and poured a little chicken broth over it. I then covered it with foil and put it in the oven to warm up with the leftover baked potatoes while I made some salads. It worked perfectly.

My DH looked at all the turkey meat in the pan when I pulled it out of the refrigerator and said "All that meat! What are you going to do with it?" I told him that I would portion it out and freeze it for other meals and casseroles. He just doesn't understand how much time that saves when I plan a meal. Even if I were to use chicken breasts for the casseroles it would still take much longer to cook them than to pull a package of already cooked turkey out of the freezer the night before so it can thaw.

I got enough for at least 5 casseroles or meals in one cooking - so 6 meals if you count tonight's. Not bad. And how hard was it to cook anyway - put it in the crock pot with a little chicken broth and go to bed :-)

Menu Monday - changes already

It never fails - I make up my menu and forget about something or have something in the fridge that needs eaten up that I overlooked......

Friday night is a pizza and dessert dinner at church as part of the Missions Conference. We order pizza delivery and volunteers bring desserts. After the meal there are sessions about various missions the church supports and opportunities for serving locally and away from home.
I also learned that Shrove Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday) is traditionally Pancake Day in the UK and pancakes sound good. I will make them lighter by eating mine with some fresh fruit salad and low calorie Cool Whip instead of syrup.

And there are baked potatoes left from last week that I need to eat up today so the mashed potatoes tonight are now baked potatoes. Maybe I will slice or dice them and cook them with some gravy poured over for something different.

I had lots of small red potatoes left from the thighs and potatoes I made for lunch yesterday so I make some Golden Potato Halves last night for supper with our soup. (At least I did not burn those :-)

So will rearrange the menu a little to move some of the meals to next week. So I have a portion of next week planned now.

Turkey Breast (crock pot)
Baked Potatoes
Green Salad

Fruit Salad

Soup and Panini sandwiches (made on the George Foreman Grill)

Chicken tostados (freezer meal) with tortillas
Refried Beans

Pizza (Mission conference at church)

Impossible Enchilada Pie with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and sour cream garnish

Pork Roast, Cabbage and Potatoes (crock pot) modified WW recipe

Turkey and dressing casserole
(microwave recipe using some of the turkey from Monday)
Cranberry sauce

Lemon Tilapia (freezer meal)
Multi Grain Loaf (Schwan's - delicious!!!)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Books update

Recently I finished Needled to Death by Maggie Sefton. This is the second in her series based around a knitting shop. It was an easy read with a fairly good story line. I learned a lot about alpacas and what it takes to raise them. I had no idea that an alpaca's worth depends on what colors of wool they produce and a male alpaca is worth more based on what coloring is produced in his children. The author does such a good job of describing the textures, colors and feel of the yarn that I just had to start knitting something - so I have done another baby blanket and started a second one.

I just finished reading The Princeton Murders by Ann Waldron. I probably would have never picked this book up but I met the author at my sister's house (they are friends and both live in Princeton). She is an interesting lady so I was curious about her writing.
The book was pretty good - interesting way of killing off an English professor at Princeton. She includes lots of details about the school and Princeton itself. I enjoyed reading it as it brought to mind the beautiful old buildings and quaint narrow streets of Princeton. I have several of the books in her series so will move on to the next one after reading one of the many other series books that I am hooked on. I don't like reading too many books by the same author in a row as they tend to run together and I get tired of them.

I am currently reading Cutwork by Monica Ferris. This is not one of my favorite series but so far this one is proving to be interesting. The main character is volunteering in a huge craft festival in the community and it talks a lot about all the planning and coordination that is involved. It also describes some of the crafts in addition to needlework which I always find interesting.
I have done some cutwork when making ornaments one year so I know how detailed it is and how beautiful it can be when done well.

Titus 2

The church is also starting a Titus 2 program. In this the women meet in small groups with a 'leader' and share their concerns, prayer requests and just get to know each other better. This is based on Titus 2:3-5
Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior,not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
(Okay- I know we hate the 'submissive' part but that is a word that has been distorted by the World and meant to mean something bad rather than the God-honoring act of respecting and honoring the husband who is the head of the home - doesn't mean he is a 'dictator')

Anyway, the Titus 2 program is meant to develop deeper relationships between women within the church community and help us help each other. There is always someone who is more mature in their faith that we can learn from and someone who is less mature who we can teach.

The women are also planning some Titus 2 group fellowship activities throughout the year like Knitting and Crocheting (getting together to knit or crochet blankets and hats for the Mosaic pregnancy center), Pie baking or Cardmaking. We could even just have a recipe swap or something - anything that gets women together with others so they get to know them.
Our church has about 300 who attend regularly and some have been there since the beginning when there were 30-50 while others have just joined recently (since we joined 2 years ago we have grown from 250 to 300) so there always seem to be a new face on Sunday morning.

I have made the effort to get together with women more - especially those that I don't see during Sunday School or other activities. It has been a great way to share my faith and my experiences - sometimes encouraging the other women in her walk and sometimes strengthening my walk by reminding me of the way God has been faithful through a variety of struggles. One thing I have learned over the years is that everyone has struggles - no matter how collected and perfect they may look on Sunday morning, they are either in going into a struggle, in the midst of a struggle or coming out of a struggle. And some are in struggles that will never end on this side of Heaven.

As I am getting older, I find I am bolder and more direct in talking to others when they are suffering - not beating around the bush or just saying "I'll pray for you." or "Call me if I can do anything." Most likely they won't call so I often suggest some ways they can let me help. Sometimes they take me up on it and sometimes they don't - but I know it encourages them to know I am willing. (Been in similar situations and some of the most encouraging times were when someone would offer to do something even if I did not take them up on it - it just made me feel better knowing that they were offering.)

Our Titus 2 group met last Saturday when I was in Chicago - we will meet once a month. I was sorry to miss it but I made the other plans before the date was set. I will have to mark my calendar for the rest of the year so I don't miss again unless it is unavoidable.

Oh! The smell of burnt bread!

I burned bread under the broiler - and boy does it stink. I was broiling some French bread slices to put in the leftover onion soup DH and I were having for supper and got distracted. I made the mistake of going into the dining room where I have some card making supplies out and looking through the cards I have made recently (posted in another post) and got caught up taking photos etc.

When I thought about the bread it was too late. I opened the oven door to a waft of black smoke and the poor bread was charcoal. (Guess my stuffy nose did not alert me!). DH came by and tossed them out in the yard but the poor dog was unsettled for at least an hour or more after that. He kept going to the door and whining that he wanted outside. I guess he smelled the smoke and thought he was in danger. Fortunately I had some more of the Schwan's frozen baguettes in the freezer and was able to bake a loaf to use for our soup.

I probably wouldn't have picked up on his sense of danger if a friend's house had not burned last week. While she was at work her neighbor called and said the house was on fire and the fire department was there. It was a total loss. What did not burn had either melted or had smoke/water damage. This happened on Tuesday - they think it was a light fixture in the pantry. When the pantry door was closed a broom pushed against the light fixture somehow and caused the fire. If this had happened on Monday, her 2 sons (17 and 14) would have been asleep above the kitchen. Thank God they were all out of the house when it happened.

The morning of the fire, they let the dog out and he would not come back in. It is a big dog and they coaxed and bribed - but there was no way he was coming back in the house. So they left him in the garage. Maybe he could already smell the smoldering in the pantry. As it was the dog had some smoke inhalation and had to spend the night at the animal hospital for observation.

Her co-workers (I include myself in that even though I do not work in that department any more) are wanting to do something for her. I suggested some sort of theme shower - like a kitchen shower or a linen shower. One lady suggested a Christmas shower. That would be fun!
Meanwhile, our dog is still sitting at the door whining and panting - he just went out a few minutes ago - guess he can still smell the smoke :-)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Chicago Weekend

DD17 and I took a road trip to Chicago last weekend (over Valentine's Day). We visited my sister and her family. My brother-in-law is a graduate student and they are living in a 3 bedroom Brownstone apartment so it was a lot different than visiting them in their large home in Indiana. My niece from Iowa was also visiting.

We had deep dish Chicago pizza on Friday evening. On Saturday we spent several hours at the Museum of Science and Industry and then walked along Lake Michigan - it was cold!!!!!! (DD17 didn't enjoy all the walking but she made it - and we were all a little sore the next day). That evening my brother-in-law, nephew and niece made a breakfast supper for Valentine's Day. They made heart pancakes, French toast, bacon and fruit salad. It was all delicious! On Sunday we were lazy and played Wii , read, knitted and I play with my sister's Sizzix die-cut machine. I made a bunch of flowers and other shapes as well as some embossed flowers and brought them home to use in card-making and scrapbooking. (Of course I gained a few pounds - even with all the exercise!)

By Monday I had a full blown head cold - and was looking forward to being home again. I was off work Tuesday as well so just lazed around the house most of that day. It was a fun weekend and a good time of catching up and sharing what's been happening in our lives. At least my cold didn't last too long and I was feeling much better by Wednesday.

Menu Monday on Saturday???

I haven't posted menus for a while so thought I would do it early this time :-) I actually will post more than a week to get me caught up to Monday. I do have some of the recipes on my 'sister' blog and have added links to those or to a website that has the recipe I use. I need to take some pictures like Rhonda does of all her delicious meals and recipe adventures :-)

Blackberry Balsamic Chicken (Freezer meal)
Baked Potatoes
Green Beans

Sunday: Mission Potluck at church - International cuisine
Greek Chicken Thighs and Potatoes (crock pot - modified weight watchers recipe)

Turkey Breast (crock pot)
Mashed Potatoes and gravy
Green Salad

Lemon Tilapia (freezer meal)
Multi Grain Loaf (Schwan's - delicious!!!)

Soup and Panini sandwiches (made on the George Foreman Grill)

Chicken tostados (freezer meal) with tortillas
Refried Beans

Turkey and dressing casserole
(microwave recipe using some of the turkey from Monday)
Cranberry sauce

Impossible Enchilada Pie with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and sour cream garnish

Pork Roast, Cabbage and Potatoes (crock pot) modified WW recipe
Green beans or Corn

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Cross stitching finishes

I completed 2 cross stitch projects this week. The first is a bridal shower gift for a young lady at church. She is registered for multiple colors of Fiesta ware so I thought this colorful bread cloth would look nice on her table. I will add a couple gourmet muffin mixes in the gift box. For her wedding gift, I purchased the muffin top pan from her registry.

The second piece is a square for Love Quilts. This one is for a little girl who loves the EMS Baby Animals.
I am also going to do the pig baby in memory of my Aunt Ruth who collected pig figurines and other knick knacks. Her dad (my grandfather) was a farmer and had pigs and cows. Guess they reminded her of her youth.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Still here

Well, I am still here even though haven't posted lately. I've been busy on the planning committee for a marriage retreat through our church. It was a big success but I put in a lot of time getting things lined up.

I've also been busy cross-stitching, knitting and planning a scrapbook. I need to get busy on DD17's scrapbook which will be part of her graduation gift. I made one for DD19 last year and got an extra copy of some of her photos that included her sister. Hoping that will save me a little time. Of course, I will have to come up with some different pages for DD17 so her book is not the exact same thing as DD19's.

Last week I also organized a dinner to encourage a young lady at our church who is in the middle of a messy divorce. Her wedding anniversary was last Thursday and she would have been sitting alone. We all met at a local smokehouse and had a great time. We'll have to find some other excuses to have a girls' night out.

DD19 comes home this weekend because it is her BF's birthday and he has to come home to celebrate with his family. It will be good to see her. She called today and she is doing very well in her classes and getting used to the couple instructors. The campus was closed for several days last week due to ice so I imagine the instructors are going to be rushing the students to stay on schedule.