Thursday, May 29, 2008

Garden Plants

I've finally planted a little garden out back! It's taken long enough....with the weather still being cold and just recently have it frost at night still.

I looked at it today, and saw the lettuce and peas are sprouting!
Before I planted, I did some research on what would grow best in a partial shaded garden. Here is an interesting article I found helpful.

Here is a surprise growing for me too!

Orange Chicken

I tried this recipe for Applebees Orange was delicious! A little bit of work, but on a family night, it's perfect!

(Recipe from RecipePazaar)
Orange Chicken
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 cup cornstarch, plus
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
oil (for frying)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange rind
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1 dash cayenne pepper
1/4 cup granulated sugar
salt and pepper


  1. Cut chicken into 2-inch pieces and place in a large bowl. Stir in egg, salt, pepper and oil. Mix well and set aside.
  2. Stir cornstarch and flour together in another large bowl and mix well. Add chicken mixture to the flour mixture, stirring to coat each piece well.
  3. Pour enough oil to be at least 1/2-inch deep in a wok or heavy skillet and set over high heat. When it reaches 375 degrees F (hot!) carefully add chicken pieces in small batches and fry 3 to 4 minutes or until golden and crisp. Do not overcook or chicken will be tough. Remove chicken from oil with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Continue frying chicken in small batches until all are nicely browned and crisp.
  4. Set aside while you make the glaze:.
    * 1 teaspoon minced garlic.
    * 1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange rind.
    * 1 cup orange juice.
    * 1/2 cup hoisin sauce.
    * Dash cayenne pepper.
    * 1/4 cup granulated sugar.
    * Salt and pepper to taste.
    * Cool the oil in the skillet slightly, then remove all but 2 tablespoons of oil and set over medium heat. Sauté garlic in oil for 1 minute (if the oil is too hot the garlic will turn bitter). Add remaining ingredients and bring to boil. Allow to boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer until sauce thickens to your liking, stirring frequently.
  5. Pour glaze over chicken. Serve chicken over a bed of cooked white rice. Garnish with slivered almonds and crispy noodles. Applebee's tosses the chicken and orange glaze with an array of stir-fry vegetables like broccoli, snow peas and red peppers.
Note: I did not have Hoisin Sauce, so I made my own from this recipe: Hoisin Sauce


This summer we are hoping to get some softball games going. Every 2nd and 4th Friday, we will get a group together and go whack some balls around. Then maybe we will eat some snacks afterward :)

Here is our first game! (About 6 people palyed ha ha) It was fun, but a little chilly.

Fun Weekend

So, a couple weeks ago it was graduation time here in town! "Our" students were graduating, so we went to see. It was a very crowded place, so M. and I ended up sitting outside in the grass/sunshine until the end (or when they started getting their degrees).

It was a pretty windy day! All their hats blew off.

That Friday, our family came up to visit too. That was a lot of fun. We had a picnic, movie, board games and croquet!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Remember Lester?

Remember Lester....that big grey striped tabby cat we had come around in the winter? Well, he's back! Actually, we have 3 cats around now! The newest one is a young siamese. He is very friendly....and curious too! He was busy "helping" us as we changed the headlights in our car last night.

This morning, I saw "Lester" and "Theodore" (the siamese) "chatting" out back....we came out to go to work, and they were both laying under our tree just staring at each other. They didn't look mad, just sitting there. I said, "Look! Two cats now!" and Mathew replied, "No, three."

Sure enough, another long-haired orange and white tabby was just coming up from behind the fence. Ha!

When they saw us, Lester and the orange one both skittered away. Lester first. He's pretty shy. I think the orange one just followed him cause it was startled by the opening car door.

Theo lazily got up, crawled under the fence and looked at us like "Oh! Hi there." He started coming over to me, and then changed his mind and wandered out to the alley, looking down the way where Lester and the orange one went. He just stood there for a moment like, "Now what? Where did they go I wonder?" He must be the youngest, because he acts like a kid and is still pretty small. :)

My deals this week...

Well, I don't have pictures to share, but I thought I'd still tell you about the good deals I found this week.

My first deal, was at Walgreens. I went looking for potting soil and shaving cream (not to be used together) and was very happy to see them both on sale. Each thing had a coupon to make them $0.99. The soil normally was $3.00 and the shaving cream $1.99. The bonus deal was that when I found the shaving cream, I found two cans bundled together saying "Buy one get one free!" Sure enough, it rang up at the $0.99 price, but I got two instead of one!

The next deal I found was at a floral shop that is going out of business. (Netzers)Everything (except the flowers) was 75% off. I found a garden trowel (which I needed since I had been using a juice can lid to dig up my garden), a 6 inch glass pitcher , and a really nice wind chime, all for $9.62! The wind chime itself was normally $27.00, so that really was a deal since we can use it and the pitcher as gifts!

It's so much fun finding deals!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Just Thoughts...

Today is lovely. I love summer mornings when the sun is out early and the birds sing too. It makes me smile and reminds me to be thankful that God made them.

This morning I was reading Proverbs chapter 22...which talks alot about wisdom. One neat verse told about how God "watches over knowledge." Isn't that neat? That He keeps track of wisdom and truth and makes sure it is kept safe. That no matter how twisted our thinking gets in modern day times, God still holds the truth. That if we ask, He will teach us, and if we seek, He will lead us.

I don't do a very good job of seeking.

So many times I bemone the fact that I don't retain what I read as well as I should, or apply what I'm learning as I should. Most the times I remember things after I do them, like I should've been "gentle and quiet" after I've been "bold and brash" or it was the time to just "listen" but I've "given advice" or that I should've been "humble" but I "blabbered too much."

One verse that I often find myself thinking about is Titus 2:7,8 "In your teaching show integrity, seriousness, and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned."

Integrity: Genuine, honorable, good, suitable, pure teaching
Seriousness: the characteristic of a thing or person which entitles to reverence and respect
Soundness : truthful, does not deviate from the truth

These three things I want to strive to be as a teacher and as a person! Thank goodness that God holds them in His hand....that even though I struggle or fall short, I can look up and be re-assured that all things are in His control.

Ephesians 1:11, 12 It's in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.

Ephesians 1:17-22 I [Paul] ask - ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory - to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for Christians, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him - endless energy, boundless strength! All this energy issues from Christ: God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the center of all this, Christ rules the church.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

More on Books...

I'm very dissapointed today.

I've been re-reading some books by Mildred D. Taylor that I read long ago. I really liked the series then. I really like the series now. I had forgotten how well they are written and how they keep me captivated. The books I read are "Roll of Thunder Hear my Cry," "Let the Circle Be Unbroken," and "The Road to Memphis." (There are a few short stories to go in between but I haven't read them this time.)

Just today I finished the book, "The Road to Memphis."

And that's when I found out...

She hasn't written the last book yet.

It doesn't even have a release date yet!


And I thought it was bad just waiting for a book to come in to the library! Now I will need to wait until it's actually published!

So, I signed up at the publisher's web site to be notified when Ms. Taylor releases her next book.

I hope it's soon....

Have You Laughed Today?

Proverbs 12:25
Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.
Proverbs 17:22
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person's strength.

How to Lighten Up
  • Don't take yourself so seriously
  • Thank God for the litle things
  • Look for an opportunity to help other people
  • Choose Joy
  • Look for the silver lining in every grey cloud
  • Add humor to conflicts and difficluties
  • Don't base happiness on outward circumstances
  • Don't try to be perfect
  • Don't be easily offended
  • Laugh every chance you get

"Ken Davis"

Monday, May 19, 2008

How to Find a Bike?

So, I'm on the lookout for a men's bike.....but I don't really know where to look!

Any suggestions? (good bike brands, places to find used bikes etc)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

To Read A Good Book....

What would it be like to be smaller than a lily?

What would it be like to see everything upside down?

I think it's time to read this book series again...they're SO much fun and make me imagine so many things from a different point of view!

Here are other family-friendly favorites of mine:

Any books you would add to the list?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Sprinkles Make Everything Better...

If you know me, you will know that one of my favorite adages is, "Sprinkles make everything better!" Yesterday, I had the pleasure of finding a whole six-box package of sprinkles in the clearance isle at our local grochery store. Hooray! I can't wait to use them! Here are some things that I think sprinkles make better:
  • Ice Cream
  • Cupcakes
  • Cakes of any sort
  • Sugar cookies

They just add that extra "crunch" and eye-cathcing sparkle that makes me smile!

Maybe that is also why I like...

  • Croutons
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Raindrops
  • Fresh snowflakes
  • Balloons
  • Freckles
  • Lady bugs
  • Forget-me-nots
  • and Daisys!

...those things that God "sprinkles" intermittently in our lives to make us smile!

"Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow." James 1:17

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sichuan Broccoli

Here is a fun and easy recipe I tried last night. It had a different step in it that was unique and fun to try...."plunging vegetables." The whole cooking time took me about 1/2 hour. Works for me!

Sichuan Broccoli and Cauliflower
(Dietitian's tip: Equal measures of green beans, bell peppers (capsicums) or other favorite vegetables can be substituted in this quick and easy recipe)

  • 3 cups cauliflower florets (medium pieces)
  • 3 cups broccoli florets
  • 3 Tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili paste or red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 1 Tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced diagonally
  • 1 green (spring) oinon, green top only, thinly sliced


Bring a large saucepan 3/4 full of water to a boil. Add the vegetables (broccoli and cauiliflower) and return to a boil. Cook until the vegetables are tender-crisp, about 1 minute. Drain the vegeatbles and then plunge them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain again and set aside. In a small bowl, stir together the oyster sauce, water and chili paste. Set aside.

In a large, heavy non-stick frying pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the ginger and garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Don't let the garlic brown. Add the carrot and saute for 1 minute. Add the reserved vegetables (broccoli and cauliflower) and stir until just tender, about 2 minutes. Add the oyster sauce mixture and toss until the sauce is evenly distributed and the mixture is heated through, about 1 minute. Transfer to a warmed serving dish and garnish with the green onion. Serve immediately.

Of Note:

  • I didn't have much cauliflower, so I used the little bit of that, some broccoli, and some green pepper instead
  • I cooked up some rice to serve it over
  • I garnished it with the green onions and also some almond slices....VERY good
  • I didn't have ginger root, so used powder instead

Monday, May 12, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Today was Mother's Day! While I'm not a mom yet, I'm so thankful for the mothers I know and what they have taught me.

At church, we had a Mother's Day potluck.....spaghetti and salad....and handed out roses to all the mothers. What a great bunch!

M. helped hand out roses to each mother....she did it very nicely, practically "dancing" her way to each mother.

For our Mom, Mathew and I asked a co-worker to take some pictures of us in our wedding outfits....since we didn't get a full shot on the actual day, and Mom had been asking for one. She (my co-worker) did an amazing job and we really enjoyed it! It was kind of fun to have a "post-wedding" photo op!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Graduation Season

It's graduation season again! It always seems that we know 3-4 four people graduating every spring, weather it be from High School or College.

Two weeks ago we visited a good friend in southern MN.

This week, we had fun travelling with another couple to visit our friend Jared and his graduation. And I thought BSU's was big!..... Check out the size of the auditorium we were in:

I guess there were around 8,000 people in attendance! We were actually able to pick Jared out of the processional....but my camera went too slow for me to catch a picture of him then.

Afterwards, we scooted downstairs to meet up with him and his family. We were able to have a nice visit with him.

We have been blessed to get to know him these past 4 years as a courageous and steadfast, godly young man!

This weekend again, we have our own local graudation to attend!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Fun with Family

Today we had a fun time with they came over for supper and for a game of Settlers of Catan! This game is the popular hit among our immediate family right now, even if it is a long game. Sometimes, I get a little too competitive and take it out on myself and others a bit too harsh. It's something I need to work on, since I really do love to play games!

Here are Eric's playing pieces....all ready for action. Ben's were the same way.

Here is what mine looked you think this says something about me?!

Mom and Dad have the most experience playing the game, but that night, Ben won. Which is nice, since it was his birthday. :)

What are some of your favorite family games to play?? I'd be curious to know.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

And the Fruit of the Spirit is LOVE...

We're starting a summer program at church on Wednesday nights called "Growing the Fruits of the Spirit." For kids aged 12 and under, it's a fun hour or so of skits, stories, crafts, games and snacks.Abbi, Irindee, and I spent some time decorating the basement along a garden/farming theme to get ready for our first lesson last night.

Here is our Garden Window

And some realistic looking grapes!

Of course you need some sunflowers.

And here is "George"...ready to welcome us every Wednesday night.

Our apple tree.

And Henrietta, the Chicken sitting on her eggs in another window.

Last night was our lesson on Love. We sang the song "The Fruit of the Spirit" and prayed to start off our evening. Later on, we got a special visit from Fluffy the Lamb....who just "loves" strawberries. We learned that maybe "like" was a better word to use, because LOVE never changes, and sometimes we don't like strawberries.

Next we did our attendance chart, and then heard a Bible story about David and Johnathan's friendship/love. We had a discussion on how we too can love others, and not be jealous or mean or unkind.

We gathered all the kids together again for our planting/craft. We made neat little pots to take home.

We ended with a snack of strawberries and cheese, and handing out red balloons.

Next week, we will be learning about JOY and eating ORANGES. :)

If you know anyone who would like to come, email Abbi or I and we will contact them! Please be praying for the classes as well....that many kids would come and that we would be teaching lovingly and accurately!

Rainy Day and Tuna Sandwhiches

Tuesday was a rainy day....perfect for cuddling up inside and trying some new recipies!

Here is what we ate for supper:

Tuna Wraps & Curried Vegetable Couscous

After reading that we are recommended to eat two servings of fish a week, I thought it time to use up the tuna in our cupboard. While the recipie actually calls for Pita bread, I thought tortillas would work just as well, and they did. (If you don't like cold sandwiches, you won't like these much...but if you do.....)

Tuna Pita Pockets

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
  • 3/4 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped green bell peppers
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped broccoli
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 cans tuna, drained
  • 1/2 cup low-fat ranch dressing
  • 3 whole-wheat pita pockets, cut in half

In a large bowl, add the lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, broccoli and onions. Toss to mix evenly. In a small bowl, add the tuna and ranch dressing. Stir to mix well. Add the tuna mixture to the lettuce mixture and stir to combine. Scoop 3/4 cup of the tuna salad into each pita pocket and serve immediately. (otherwise it gets soggy)

The other recipe we tried was Couscous.....I didn't ever really know what they were until a friend served them for supper. After trying this recipe, I know that I would like to have them in my cupboard regularly now!

Curried Vegetable Couscous

  • 4-inch celery stalk, chopped
  • 4-inch carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped (I used red onion)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper (capsicam), chopped (I used green pepper)
  • 1/3 inch piece fresh ginger, thinly sliced (I had powdered ginger on hand....)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil (I used regular vegetable oil)
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 Cup whole-wheat couscous (get a coupon for them here/can find in Walmart)
  • 2 cups vegetable stock or broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

In a blender (or by hand), finely chop all vegetables. In a large nonstick pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add vegetables and saute until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the curry powder and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute longer. Add the couscous and stock and stir well. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to very low and cover the pan. After 5 minutes, remove from the heat. Uncover and "fluff" the couscous with a fork. Add the salt and cilantro and toss to mix. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Busy Weekend

Last weekend Mathew and I made a whirlwind trip down south for a friend's graduation.

It was our "adventure" ... I think our first spur-of-the-moment trip we've made.

Even though it was fast, we got to see Grandpa and Grandma, and friends and family.

Saturday we met up with Tracy and got to the graduation just on time.... Ben and Bob were our tour guides while there.

We got to hear two lovely ladies sing in the choir:

And of course, spent time with the Grad and his family (they served a delicious strawberry cake!) Then we all went to the Blanshans hospitable household for pizza and root-beer floats! About 2:00pm, we left there and headed up to see our new neice and her family!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Today is May Day

Today is May Day....while not really an offical holiday, it was one I looked forward to as a kid because we did spring things this day.

One of my favorite things to do, was create "May Baskets" out of old strawberry containers or weave paper. Then we would pick some May Flowers (Hepatica) and bake some cookies to fill our baskets, and sneak over to our neighbor's door, leave the basket, ring the doorbell, and run. It was always fun, except for the time I got nipped by a dog while "escaping" over the fence! ha ha

Here is another list of May holidays that might be fun to celebrate something special....or at least help you come up with a meal idea for that night if you're in a pinch. :)

May is:
  • National Salad Month
  • National Barbecue Month
  • National Bike Month
  • National Hamburger Month
  • National Photograph Month

4 Bird Day

6 National Nurses Day

8 Iris Day

13 Frog Jumping Day

15 National Chocolate Chip Day

17 Armed Forces Day

18 International Museum Day

30 Water a Flower Day

31 National Macaroon Day


Look what I found on my door when I came home from work! Thanks :)


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