Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Talk about Making a Girl feel Special

One of my blog friends (who've I've known since we were in elementary school... or maybe she was even younger than that) nominated me for the Beautiful Blogger Award.  I'm blushing, because I really feel like I'm only beginning to figure this whole blog thing out.  Still, how sweet is it that she thinks my little blog thoughts are enjoyable enough to read? Thank you, Ginny!  Ginny writes an incredible blog of her own: The Story of Us.  Which is full of her wonderful recipes and incredible redecorating ventures.  Well worth reading!

To accept the award, I'm supposed to do two things: blog about 7 fun facts about myself and nominate another blogger for the award.  So, here I go!

1. I have a tendancy to be obsessive compulsive... except when I'm not.  I'm an all or none kind of a girl.  Either my house is going to be clean (reorganized silverware drawer and all) or a complete and utter disaster.  Usually it's the latter. I'm really trying to learn moderation.

2. I adore children's chapter books!  I loved reading to my classes when I was teaching.  It was my favorite part of teaching... my kids gathered around on the floor listening to a chapter or two right after lunch.  I can't wait until my own kids are big enough to really listen to chapter books.  I can't tell you how many times I've read The Little House Books or The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  And because I can become obsessive-compulsive, children's chapter books give me some moderation.  My husband does not appreciate it when I check out completely for a few days while I complete an Austen book, but doesn't mind it as much when I check out for a few hours to read a Newbery book.  (It's a good compromise.)  In the past couple of weeks, I've read: The Courage of Sarah Noble, Letters from Rifka, and The Fledgling.

4. Speaking of Austen, I'm not good at choosing a favorite movie, but..

I love the cinematography in the newest Pride and Predjudice. 

Love how closely the script follows the book in the BBC version of the same. 

And I pretty much appreciate any movie that has to do with Austen. 

Including this one. 

And this one.

4. Jesse is willing to watch chick-flicks with me.  (And even sometimes suggests them.)  I love him for this and about a million other reasons.  Can you believe that we will be celebrating our 7th anniversary in just a couple of weeks?  I'm amazed that he's been able to put up with all my quirks and (sometimes) down-right-meanness.  But I'm terribly thankful for it. 

He's an incredible husband and papi and I'm grateful that God saw fit to put him in my life.

My kids bring me so much joy! 

I am amazed at what they force me to learn about the world, God, and myself.  Little spiritual lessons that I teach them, end up smacking me up against the side of the head more often than not.  Oh yeah, I need to not complain and learn to be content with what I have, too!  One of the things I most appreciate about my own parents is that they made tremendous financial and personal sacrifices to home school my siblings and I. ("So, that explains it!" you're saying to yourself right now.) Jesse and I hope to warp home school our kids as well... with Diego beginning to take a great interest in learning to read right now, we are gearing up to begin our own little school.  I am thankful that God is giving us the ability to do this and I am looking forward to learning many more lessons alongside Diego and Eliana in this up-coming school year!

6. And speaking of my kids, I had my sonogram today... finally. 

And I'd like to introduce you to little Cruz! 

We are excited to meet him in person and thankful that God is adding him to our family.  We pray that he will grow to be a man after God's heart and that God will give us the necessary wisdom to raise him in the Lord.

7. My husband and I have a great desire to take our kids and move away... and (at the same time) I have a great desire to stay right where I am for the rest of my life. I've been blessed with an awesome family full of my closest friends. I talk to my mom almost everyday and my sister most days. My cousin, Emily and I get together once a week so our little ones can enjoy each other, but also so we can talk and catch up. (This is just a small sampling of all the wonderful people in my family.) And with all of these friends, the idea of moving away seems like an impossibility.

But then I think of people like this group of boys.

And experiences like this.

And I remember so many kiddos with needs and deep hurts that only God can heal.

And I think of God's call on my life.

And I really hope (eventually- and preferably while our kids are still young) that we can move and make helping, ministering, and living among the least of these a part of our daily lives. This is my heart's desire. And even though, it would be hard to leave all my loved-ones behind, I know that if God wills this for our family that He'll give me the strength... and hopefully great internet connection.

That's me in a nutshell. Now, to pass the Beautiful Blogger Award along.  I'd love to nominate: Emily at Cottage Industrious... I hope you'll take a look at her blog.

Thank you, again, Ginny... this was challenging and fun!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Entering the Woodlands

My cousin, Wendy, and I hosted my sister's family shower at Wendy's house this past weekend.  To be honest, (besides desserts) all I had to do was show up.  Wendy is a wonderful party planner and it is always a joy to be in her home.  She had the place decked out and you really felt like you were entering woodlands when you arrived.

Glittered toadstools adorned tables.

This is my granny's "hutch-a-ma-call-it" in the background.  I think it looks lovely in Wendy's dining room and it always makes me reminiscent when I see it.

Isn't the glittered gnomie cute?  My sister really loves glitter even though her husband practically forbids it in their house... so it was so nice of Wendy to "sacrifice" and decorate with glitter for Elisabeth's shower. ;)

Then there was the food: yum!  Whenever Wendy and her husband, Jason cook it's a wonderful treat.

There was a southern shrimp dip, roast beef in spinach tortilla rolls (with pepper jelly), and a crab souffle that was scrumptious!

We were also lucky enough to talk my cousin, Emily into bringing her spinach pesto... one of these days we're going to talk her into blogging about it!

Okay, desserts.  I had a hard time making up my mind and then I decided one may not be enough so I made a few things.

Pine cone cakes: Orange almond cakes drizzled with chocolate ganache and covered with toasted almonds.

Mint Chocolate Ice-cream Log Roll: broken chocolate pieces created a bark and then I embellished it with the leaves Diego and I worked on last week.

And Meringue Mushrooms: In a basket this time... to eat as candy.

I think Elisabeth enjoyed the food.

This pictures is especially for Angie, who has been asking for a belly picture for a while.  (Elisabeth's belly is cute and smaller than mine... I've been asked several times if I'm farther along.  I'm not.  She's due 3 months before me.  Such is my life.)

Elisabeth walked away with a lot of great gifts... we have such generous and loving family and friends.  We are very blessed to be a part of family who we also consider to be some of our best friends!

Elisabeth received lots of diapers... of the disposable variety.  (Praise God!)

Boudreaux's Butt Paste... which is as much about the packaging (to my graphic designer sister) as it is the actual paste.

A sweet panda sweater from our sister-in-law, Jessica, who lives in Florida and couldn't be with us.

A fun little hedgehog puppet from our momma.

And did you guess right?  I had to purchase the mushroom rattle for Baby Owens... it was too cute!

But the best part of the day was being surrounded with so many ones we love!

Here's my cousin, Emily with her little one, Evie, and her mama, Lesa.  I'm always struck by the remarkable similarities between the three generations when I see them together.  They are just beautiful!

Eliana was in the middle of everything and demanded to inspect each gift for quality.

My cousin and hostess, Wendy, my aunt, Andrea, Elisabeth, my aunt, Nine (Diane to the rest of the world) and her grand daughter, Nataleigh. 

What a blessing it was to be with everyone and to spend so much time laughing and enjoying each others company.  Thank you to all who came to be a part of Elisabeth's special day!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Eating Leaves (and Friday Favorites)

My son (who won't eat anything off a salad unless it's a crouton) is more than willing  to help eat these leaves... and even though they're for Elisabeth's family baby shower tomorrow, I did let him have the broken ones.  It's only fair since he helped me so much yesterday.

I read a lot online to make sure I was doing these right.  There's some debate on what is best.  Some people suggested florist shop lemon leaves, but this sounded expensive and possibly full of pesticides, so I decided against that option.  I read other comments suggesting plastic leaves, but with so many of them made in China (and I'm guessing with even fewer regulations than kids' toys) I didn't think that was a good idea either.  Martha Stewart suggested mint leaves, but I don't have any of those growing in my backyard this summer.  Something to think about for another year, I guess.  So, I ended up researching the plants in my backyard to make sure I wasn't going to accidentally poison anyone.

I decided on lilac leaves because they looked simple.

I also chose Maple leaves because I love their beautiful shape.

I love how well you can see all the veins.  (Isn't God's handiwork beautiful?)

The maple leaves ended up being tricky to remove... so there were a couple that Diego had to take care of.  The lilac leaves were simple to remove.  Overall, it was an easy project. Painting the underside of leaves was a cinch.  The most difficult part was removing the leaf from the chocolate and keeping my hands cool enough to manipulate the chocolate without melting it.  Typically, this would be no problem, but my hands seem to always be hot this pregnancy.  I would do this again because it was simple enough and I liked the results, but I probably wouldn't waste my time with the maple leaves again. 

And because we're gearing up for a woodland themed baby shower around here.  I thought a treasury reflecting that would be appropriate.  If money were no object, I would by all the things here for the little lad!  Elisabeth was more than generous with both of my babies and I wish I could reciprocate just as well!

I did purchase one thing that's listed in this treasury for her baby... but I can't tell you which one yet because she reads this blog (on occasion).  But what I can tell you is that it turned out more beautiful than I expected.  Now, what would you buy if it were you?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Painting Leaves

We're getting ready for another woodland themed baby shower this weekend.  When Diego woke up earlier than I had expected, I decided to employ his help with my painting project.

He took his job very seriously.

Initially, I was worried that he wouldn't cover them very well.

But as you can see, he was pretty careful about getting the whole thing covered.

Do you know what the paint is?

That's right. Chocolate.  Is there anything better?

We stuck them in the fridge, I went back later and painted a second coat on everything and then waited some more for it to harden before trying to remove the leaves.  Some were not as successful as others.  But we had fun (just the two of us). 

I'll show you end results tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Told You I Was Making Soup

I had to.  I was so sick of my kids using their forks as weapons it was my only option.  Plus, I'm always craving this soup... even in the middle of a heatwave with a broken air-conditioner.  (Well, I did refuse to make it last Friday night when our a/c was out of freon. Again. But if someone else would have stood over the hot stove in my 91 degree house, then I would have had it that night too.)

Because it's one of my favorites and because it's so easy to make, I thought I'd share it with you.  And you can wait until the weather cools to make it or, (like me) make it regardless of the weather. 

So, here's my chicken tortilla soup.

The ingredients are:

Chicken Broth
Rotel (I use mild because I have young kids, but feel free to use something a bit spicier... I would if I could.)
A bag of frozen corn
A block of cream cheese (You can half it if you're the healthy type.  I rarely am.)
A lime
Adobo seasoning
Shredded Cheese
Tostitos Hint of Lime Chips (These have become a favorite around our house.)
And not pictured: a pound of skinless/boneless chicken breast

Let's address the chicken first. I cook it one of two ways. 1. If I don't want to clean any more than absolutely necessary, I throw the chicken in the the broth and let it boil until cooked, pull it out, chop it up into bite-sized pieces and then throw it back in.  2. If I'm in a hurry and don't want to wait for dinner, I throw it on the George Foreman grill and then chop it and throw it in with the rest of the ingredients.  Do whatever makes sense to you.

Now, for the soup.  There's no real measuring in this recipe, more of a dump and go method. Add the first three ingredients.  Cut the cream cheese block into pieces before adding it in so it will melt faster.  Squeeze in the juice of one lime.  Add Adobo seasoning to taste at the very last.  (Sometimes, if I feel like it and I have it on hand, I add in a drained can of black beans, too.  I didn't have it on hand last night.)  Make sure you add the chicken at some point or another, heat to a good temp for you and then you're ready to serve.  (I told you it was easy.)

Garnish with your chips and cheese.  Sometimes, if I have guests or just feel like being extravagant (I mean creating more clean-up when I say extravagant), we'll also garnish with sour cream and slices of avocado... not last night.  Still, pretty good.  Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dog and Cat

Most days, my kids are like this.  They have fun together and play together well.  They love each other.

And then there are days that are more like this

Jesse and I were talking downstairs this morning and we could hear Diego and Eliana getting louder and louder upstairs. My husband didn't know what I was referring to when I mentioned that I was afraid they were going to end up like the Gingham Dog and Calico Cat today.  So, I shared The Duel by Eugene Field with him.  (I'll share it with you too, just on the off chance that you're not familiar with it either.)

The gingham dog and the calico cat
Side by side on the table sat;
'T was half-past twelve, and (what do you think!)
Nor one nor t' other had slept a wink!
The old Dutch clock and the Chinese plate
Appeared to know as sure as fate
There was going to be a terrible spat.
(I was n't there; I simply state
What was told to me by the Chinese plate!)

The gingham dog went "Bow-wow-wow!"
And the calico cat replied "Mee-ow!"
The air was littered, an hour or so,
With bits of gingham and calico,
While the old Dutch clock in the chimney-place
Up with its hands before its face,
For it always dreaded a family row!
(Now mind: I 'm only telling you
What the old Dutch clock declares is true!)

The Chinese plate looked very blue,
And wailed, "Oh, dear! what shall we do!"
But the gingham dog and the calico cat
Wallowed this way and tumbled that,
Employing every tooth and claw
In the awfullest way you ever saw---
And, oh! how the gingham and calico flew!
(Don't fancy I exaggerate---
I got my news from the Chinese plate!)

Next morning, where the two had sat
They found no trace of dog or cat;
And some folks think unto this day
That burglars stole that pair away!
But the truth about the cat and pup
Is this: they ate each other up!
Now what do you really think of that!
(The old Dutch clock it told me so,
And that is how I came to know.)

I ended up going upstairs and separating them- told them to go to their own rooms and play alone.  It wasn't the first time today (or the last) where they were driving each other crazy... or maybe it's me they're driving crazy.  Today I have heard them yell "Take that!" numerous times as they thrust their forks at each other.  (I think we're having soup and using spoons tonight.) I know some days are like this.  That it's part of being siblings, but days like today make me tired and sad that they aren't loving each other.  So, what do you do on days like today when you're afraid your kids might eat each other up? Or if you don't have kids of your own, what did your parents do?  I'm taking advice today.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Pie (and Friday Favorites)

Well, here it is!  If you read yesterday's comment, you'll know that mom invited herself over.  (I didn't mind.) My dad came too (it is his favorite kind).  Pretty good, but it always helps to have fresh pie cherries to begin with. 

These cherries, reminded me of my friend Nicole and her little Etsy shop.  She makes some really fun stuff for your little one's hair. 

See why my pie reminded me of her?

And I think this beauty reminds me of orchids... she's made it in a bright magenta color too!

And this one, is just fun.  Do you remember playing pacman?  Or perhaps you're too young for that.

So, here's my cherry dedicated treasury this week.  Visit if you'd like a closer look at any of these sweet little things.  Hope you have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

One Single, Solitary Cherry

During my childhood summers, it was a regular thing to take a trip out to some farm or another to pick cherries.  Cherry pie is my daddy's favorite and my mom makes the best cherry pie because she's awesome like that and she knows the simple truth that canned cherries don't even come close.  However, over time, it seems that the farms that we went to in my childhood have vanished or simply stopped opening up their farms to people to come and pick.  To make matters worse, I could not find pie cherries in a grocery store or farmer's market anywhere. 

So, three summers ago, I decided to take matters into my own hands and planted a cherry tree in my back yard.  I was so excited last spring to see the cherries begin to grow and thought at last, my day had come.  No such luck.  I walked out into my back yard one early June morning to find my tree stripped bear from all of it's beautiful berries.  This summer, I thought I'd be more cautious and watch the tree daily to make sure to go and pick as soon as they began to turn red, but again- fail.  And I found two broken branches.  Fat birds... or maybe it was the squirrels?  What I did find on the tree that day was one single, solitary beautiful cherry.  I picked it and began trying to think through what I should do with it.  (Pie cherries are rather tart and not very enjoyable by themselves.)

Then last Saturday, I ended up going to the farmer's market.  And what should I happen upon but Cherry Jam.  Made with those same pie cherries!  I snatched a jar up and my family has been enjoying it immensely this week.  Momma used to make cherry jam and preserves too. 

Then, just as we were about to leave we went by one more stand on the "ignored row," and low and behold... a pound of pie cherries, their last one.  My one lone cherry finally had a purpose- to join these others.  I left skipping to the car, my heart happy, and my birthday month complete.  Isn't their color beautiful?

And so I've been busy making a pie over nap-time today.  You know those extra scraps you have hanging off the side of your pie dish before you pinch the layers together?  You're supposed to bake those on a cookie sheet.  Then top them off with your favorite jam for snack time.

And how did the pie turn out?  Well, I'm still waiting for it to finish... so I'll show it to you tomorrow!