Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Shannon: Taco Soup 2

Kim posted a Taco Soup recipe here awhile back and mentioned that there were several versions. I just found (and made) one that is "Weight Watchers Friendly." :) You should smell what I'm smelling right now as this cooks in the crock pot. And the one tiny taste I took has me already anticipating my first bowlful.

Taco Soup 2

1 lb extra-lean ground beef or turkey (I used turkey)
1 large onion, diced
2 (15 ounce) cans chili beans (I used hot chili beans)
1 (15 ounce) can zesty beans (I couldn't find this so I subbed Pinto beans and chili powder)
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) can corn, undrained
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups water
1 (4 1/2 ounce) can chopped green chilies
1 (1 1/4 ounce) package taco seasoning
1 (1 ounce) envelope ranch dressing mix

Brown beef or turkey with the chopped onion. Add everything to a large pot and heat for 30 minutes OR add everything to the crock pot and heat on high for a few hours, till hot throughout.

One cup of this = 2 WW points, which means a cup has roughly 100 calories. This doesn't seem like taco soup as much as it seems like chili with corn and broth. Does that make sense? I can already tell we're going to love this.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Shannon: Allestads' Open House

Roger and Melissa Allestad would like to invite everyone to their open house this Saturday from 3-6 pm. Since she probably doesn't have time to send out an invitation, she thought this might be the best way to get the news out to everyone.

If you've been to their house before, this new one is just down the street from the old house. Go south on Home Acres Road. It's a big white house with a white picket fence (how appropriate for Melissa, don't you think? :) on the right just before the bend, and she says it's the only white house on the road.

I'm going to send out the actual address in a general email (I'm reluctant to post addresses and phone numbers on the internet, you know?) so if you don't receive one soon, let me know and I'll add you to my email list. Also, their phone number is in the directory.

They always decorate everything so homey and warm. I can't wait to see this new place. Hope to see you all there!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Shannon: Echoes

I wrote this for my blog a few years ago, but I came upon it this morning when searching through some old posts and thought I might reprint it here. I apologize right up front for the "c" word, but there's no other way to quote it.

Zac was only two when we started our goat adventure. No doubt, that played a big part in our decision to name the two brother goats "Grover" and "Elmo." I have no idea why we named the third "Mama Goat," unless it was the fact that she was old enough to have given birth to the other two. Or maybe our brains were tuckered.

Mama Goat owned a pair of horns--sharp, scary horns. I liked her fine when I went out alone to feed her, and didn't give her pointy weapons a second thought, but whenever Zac toddled after me, I went into full alert.

"No, no, Zac. Stay away from that one. That goat has horns that will hurt you."

The alarm in my voice chased his natural curiosity. He'd give her a solemn glance and slide a step or two closer to me.

I must have warned him plenty, because one afternoon, when my dad came to visit, we took him out to the goat pen to introduce him to the rest of the family.

"Zac, tell Grandpa Mike what the goats' names are," I prompted.

He pointed to the two brothers first. "That's Grover, and that's Elmo." Then he aimed his pudgy little finger toward Mama Goat. "And that's 'Horns-That-Will-Hurt-You.'"

It's funny what they pick up--and what they repeat.

I got another reminder a few months later when we left Zac with my uncle one evening and went out for a high-chairless dinner in a no-baby restaurant. We weren't gone long. When we returned, Uncle Doug was snickering.

"You'll never guess what I just overheard," he said. He then set up the scene: he was reading the paper upstairs in the kitchen, Zac was playing with his toy cars in the den just below the kitchen. The railings between the kitchen and the lower den allowed Uncle Doug to hear every screech and motor rev.

After driving one car around the floor for a few minutes, Zac said, in a high, momish voice, "Dave ... slow down."

Upstairs, Uncle Doug grinned.

Zac drove the car another lap around the carpet, and then said again--in my voice, only a tad more insistent this time--"Dave, I said, 'slow down.'"

Apparently, the imaginary Dave didn't obey the imaginary me. Because after one more trip around the imaginary track, Zac crashed his car into another. As the dust settled, he said, "See, Dave? I told you to slow down."

It's true, you know, that little pitchers have big ears.

Recently, while out shopping, I got another reminder. I was out on a yarn quest, down on my hands and knees in front of a bin at the craft store, when I heard a dad and daughter arguing. I looked up and saw them walking past my aisle. The little imp was adorable, and no more than three. He held her on his hip. Just as they passed my view, I heard him say, "Why don't you just shut up? I'm sick of your crap!" and without missing a beat, she said right back, "Yeah? Well, I'm sick of your crap!"

Oh, there are so many better things we can pass on to our children. Since we know they're listening, and we know they're little mina birds and love nothing more than appropriating our words and mimicking our tone and throwing it all right back at us, maybe we could give a little more thought to the words we pass along.

"I was wrong" is nice. Especially if it's followed up with, "I'm sorry ... will you forgive me?" And you can never make a mistake with "I'm proud of you" or "I'm glad you're mine" or, best of all, "I love you."

When we're purposeful about our legacy, when we take just a half second to think about the words we're releasing into the air, we sometimes get rewarded with unexpected and wonderful surprises. Sometimes, those echoes come back to us.

When Zac was little, the last thing I used to tell him every night, before turning out his little Ninja Turtle lamp, was, "I always wanted a boy just like you."

One night, after I'd had a long, hard day and really needed a back rub or a milk chocolate Dove bar or something equally comforting, Zac appeared in the doorway to my office and popped his head in. "Know what, Mama?" he said. "I always wanted a mom just like you."

I'm so grateful he was listening.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Cora: Monthly Calendar

Hello ladies!

It's that time of month again. Here is the calendar for November:

November 13 - Titus Study 3 - church office - 6:30
November 27 - Titus Study 4 - church office - 6:30

You will be getting your study questions for Titus Study 4 on November 13. If you can't make it that night, please let me know and I will get a study for you as soon as possible.

Don't forget to sign up for the Lights of Christmas!! This year it is November 30 through December 1. The cost is $25.00. If you are planning on coming, please come find me to get your parking pass. When you have this pass, the people at Warm Beach will show us where to park and someone will transport us to our cabin. There will be a testimony Friday evening at 9:30 p.m. at the cabin. Breakfast is served from 8:00 a.m. until 9:30 a.m. There will be a devotional at 10:00 a.m. Saturday morning. This is always such a good time of fellowship! Please don't miss it!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Kim: Invisible Women

I came across this online awhile back. My search to find the original author, "Charlotte", came up empty. I hope it encourages you. :)

I’m invisible...

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I’m on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I’m thinking, “Can’t you see I’m on the phone?”

Obviously not. No one can see if I’m on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I’m invisible.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?

Some days I’m not a pair of hands; I’m not even a human being. I’m a clock to ask, “What time is it?” I’m a satellite guide to answer, “What number is the Disney Channel?” I’m a car to order, “Pick me up right around 5:30, please.”

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude -but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again.

She’s going … she’s going … she’s gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress;it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a banana clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, “I brought you this.”

It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn’t exactly sure why she’d given it to me until I read her inscription: “To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.”

In the days ahead I would read — no, devour — the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals– we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, “Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.”

And the workman replied, “Because God sees.”

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, “I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you’ve done, no sequin you’ve sewn on, no cupcake you’ve baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can’t see right now what it will become.”

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don’t want my son to tell the friend he’s bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, “My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand-bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.” That would mean I’d built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home.

And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, “You’re gonna love it there.”

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we’re doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Fran: A Mom's Version of 1 Corinthians 13

I read this last night in our group and was asked by several people to post it here. This is from a devotional bible I have but was originally in a book called "When the handwriting on the wall is in brown crayon" by Susan L. Lenzkes.


Though I lecture and harp at my children and have not love, I will be background noise to rebellious thoughts.

And though I wisely warn them not to use the street as a playground, or they'll be killed; and though I patiently explain why snails live in mobile homes, and I give endless answers to life's other mysteries; and though I have faith that can remove mountains of ignorance - yet never hug my children - I have taught nothing.

And though I slave over a steaming stove with balanced diets and complicated recipes and even burn my fingers - yet never smile as I serve - I have not really fed them.

A truly loving mother suffers through unfinished sentences, clutter, nicks on furniture, sleepless nights and adolescent insults, and is kind enough to think her kids are the greatest. A loving mother tries not to resent her children for being free like she used to be, and she doesn't brag about how she never talked to her mom that way.

Real love considers a childish nightmare more urgent than her need for sleep; is not shattered by the title "Meanest Mom"; doesn't shame a toddler who breaks training or a teen who still spills milk; steadfastly refuses to entertain visions of escape; and does not smirk as her child trips over the toy he refused to put away (but with silent wisdom rejoices in the effective lessons of experience).

Mother love has arms strong from lifting, a heart large with believing, a mind stretched with hoping, shoulders soft with enduring and knees bent with committing.

True mother-love never fails to point her child to the Author of Love.

"And now these three remain; faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."
1 Corinthians 13:13

Monday, October 22, 2007

Kim: Taco Soup

I'd never heard of taco soup when Renee passed this onto me. Since then, I've heard there are many different ways to make taco soup. So if you know of another yummy way, please share! This one is a family favorite.

Taco Soup

1 lb. lean ground beef (Renee uses ground turkey)
2 cans of corn
2 cans of kidney beans
1 can black beans
2 cans of diced tomatoes (with or w/o chilies)
1 16oz can of tomato sauce
2 pkg. taco seasoning mix
1 onion chopped (sometimes I use 1/2)

Directions: Brown beef and empty all contents into a big soup pot and bring to a boil. Simmer over medium heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Optional: Top with tortilla chips, sour cream, avocado chunks and shredded cheese.

This recipe makes a lot of servings, but it freezes well.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sylvia: In Thanks And Adoration

My dear, loving Father,

First I want to thank You for all that You have done for me. You called me out of darkness when I was a poor, blind, naked wretch of a woman, drowning in sorrow. You knew that I needed You, even when I didn't, so You pursued me with Your love until You won me over. You loved me first. How romantic! Who says there is no such thing as a knight in shining armor?

I want to thank You for watching over me in the midst of my joys and sorrows. For choosing the right husband for me who has shown me how Jesus loves me. For never leaving me when my world seemed to crash down all around me when I got pregnant and found out that Noelle would have so many struggles in her life. For never leaving me when it took me longer than I would have liked to move beyond my grief. For making Your presence so real to me when Noelle was struggling for her life in the hospital.

I love you for comforting me with Your word and presence when Jason wanted to go live with his dad who doesn't know you and doesn't want to. Yet. For seeing me through the loss of so many loved ones when my church imploded. For removing us from there and then restoring some of those loved ones to me in Your perfect time. For teaching me so many valuable lessons from it all.

I thank you for bringing us to a strong, healthy church family where people love us and are patient with our sometimes slow process of growth and healing. I am grateful for Jeff's successful business in our home. What a wonderful, unexpected blessing that has turned out to be and I have to give You all the glory for it because it is so obvious that You orchestrated the whole thing!

I praise You for protecting me and never giving up on me, in my rebellion, before I gave my life to You. I was involved in so many wicked things and You waited for me with such patience and long-suffering. I am thankful for Your patience that is with me still, as a silly little girl, in my walk with You now. I am so grateful that You promised to complete the work that You have begun because there is still so much work to do and that you have even used me on occasion and allowed me to see it.

I thank You for promising me that when this life has been fulfilled here on earth that I have an eternal life waiting for me with You. That this world is not all there is but my life has meaning and purpose here, although I won't always understand what that is.

I love You and praise You for being in control even when everything seems to be spinning out of control. I thank You for helping me with the emotional difficulties that can come with the symptoms of Peri-menopause. What a mind-bender that was! Yet You are even the God of that!

With all that You are and all that You've done, not only in my life but throughout the ages, how can I not love You? But even so, sometimes my love falls so short. And yet You still encourage me to walk and move forward. You are still at my side and You still speak loving-kindness to me.

What an amazing God You are! I thank You, I love You, I adore You, I praise You and Honor You!

Your little girl,

Friday, October 19, 2007

Fran: Pumpkin Chip Muffins

First you need to know that this recipe was given to me by Jennifer. Second you need to know that it's very good! :)

Pumkin Chip Muffins

4 eggs
1 (16 oz.) can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups oil
2 cups chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Mix eggs, pumpkin, oil and sugar together until smooth.
3. In another bowl combine the dry ingredients.
4. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry just until moistened; stir in chocolate chips.
5. Fill greased or paper lined muffin cups 2/3 full and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

This recipe makes about 2 1/2 dozen muffins.

I usually reduce the oil to 3/4 cup and they still taste good (but have about 52 calories less per muffin!) The recipe doesn't specify what type of chocolate chip but I have used milk chocolate, semi-sweet and bittersweet. Bittersweet is my hands down favorite as it lends a good chocolate taste but not a lot of sweetness. And the bonus is it's good for you! :) (BTW, you can buy all three types of chocolate in the bulk section at WinCo. very reasonably. They have a very good bittersweet chocolate. ) I have also used maple chips and they make a mean muffin! Next I'm going to try cinnamon chips; I think that will be quite good too. (I get my maple chips online at The Prepared Pantry.)

These are really good with a hot cup of coffee! Thanks Jen!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Shannon: Home Organization Contest

We've had a lot of discussion (some here, some in person) about getting our homes organized. Up for a challenge? I just discovered a great site that is offering a contest for the month of November. Choose either one room or one small space, take a "before" picture, get busy cleaning and tossing, and then take an "after" shot. Last time this contest was offered, the grand prize was $100. But even without that incentive, wouldn't it be nice to have your house clean for Christmas?

Check out I'm An Organizing Junkie for more details. While you're there, check out their "Menu Plan Monday" and "Slow Cooking" recipes.