Monday, April 28, 2008

A Nice Weekend

We went to my parents' beach house on the Eastern Shore of Virginia (on the Chesapeake Bay) for the weekend. Although the weather on Sunday was cold and damp, Saturday was perfectly sunny and warm, about 80 degrees, glorious. Today it is 55 and rainy here at home. Can't wait for more warm sunny days, Saturday's weather spoiled me just a little. It was nice to get away and spend time with my parents and my family, I wish we could have stayed a little longer. I have such great memories of all of our vacations down at the beach house, this weekend was no exception. Oh how we laughed and laughed!

My 13 year old daughter took the above photos (I have not cropped them or touched them at all). My husband is worried that maybe she is becoming a better photographer than him. She is very creatively talented, I'm hoping that someday she will come work for me!

Yesterday on the way home, I spotted a bald eagle in a tree, my husband spun the car around and we managed to get this shot. Isn't he majestic!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Missing Willie

A friend of ours had to put their dog down a few days ago. As I read the email detailing Roscoe's last day with our friends, my heart ached for our dear dog, Willie, that we had to put down 2 1/2 years ago. Almost 3 years, and my heart still aches for him. For weeks after he died, there were times when I would lie on the floor, sobbing, unable to to grasp how much sorrow I felt. I was astonished at the pain and grief that I felt over the loss. After all, he was just a dog, right? So wrong. I loved the little guy terribly, even though he was, frankly, a really big pain in the butt. He ran away a lot. He shed like crazy. He had epilepsy, and the twice a day medication and trips to the vet sometimes got to be tedious. Ironically, it was not the epilepsy that took him from us, but we never did find out what started making him bleed internally that day. In the morning he was fine, but by the afternoon, he was gone. He was so dorky and he always made us laugh. The photo below is from the day we came home from church and found him walking around the kitchen with a trashcan lid around his waist- how he managed that, I have no idea. And he was so loyal, and so trusting and so loving. He is forever in our hearts. I miss him terribly, more than I could ever imagine...
I just write this because as I mentioned, the grief and sorrow I felt after we lost him took me completely by surprise, and still does. I still tear up as I write this. I feel for my friends, I know exactly what they are going through. If you have been through this, you know what I mean. If you feel intense pain over the loss of a pet, you are not crazy. They have a way of working their furry (or feathery, or scaley...) little selves into our hearts. I will always be grateful for the joy that Willie brought to our family, and even for the pain, because it reminds me of this great capacity for love that God has given us, even for a fat little epileptic pain-in-the-neck dog.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Weird, Strange, Swedish

This is what happens when you go to You Tube and search for "Worst Music Video Ever". Heartfelt lyrics, inspiring choreography. Weird, strange, Swedish. I've probably said enough... I'll let the video speak for itself....

Friday, April 11, 2008

44 Sheep and Counting

I have been making wool pins for a couple of years now and I donate all the profits to World Vision to buy sheep for poor families. This has truly been a labor of love, I started making these pins at a really low point in my life, and it helped to give me a sense of purpose when I was feeling kind of lost. (Read how I got started here.)

I just finished totalling up all my numbers after the last Quilt Show, and I am thrilled to announce that since I started doing this in December 2005, The Noble Wife has purchased 44 Sheep! That's 44 families who now have a chance at a better life because they have a way to start a business which will sustain their family. A heartfelt Thank You to everyone who has supported me and this endeavor!!!!!

I think, no, I know, we all want to feel that there is some higher purpose to our lives. I think we all want to know that our lives have meant something, and let's face it, especially for those of us who are moms, we sometimes wonder if it really matters if our floors are spotless and the laundry is caught up (for the record, mine is not.) We wonder if what we do day in and day out really matters (and by the way- it really does.)
And I think it is really easy to get discouraged, because the problems seem so big. And it makes us feel so small, so helpless, so inconsequential. As a kid, I had a big heart. I wanted to help all of those poor little starving children on the TV commercials, but I was repeatedly told, You can't save the world, Jack (that's what they still call me!). But one day, when God got through to my hardened heart and cut through my cynicism, I realized- Maybe I can't save the world, but for the one person I might be able to help, it would mean the world to them. I found World Vision (and there are lots of really good, reputable, responsible organizations out there) and I found out that the cost of a pizza ($20) could prevent deadly malaria for a whole family. Or for the cost of my family of 4 going out to dinner 1 time ($60), a family could receive 10 fruit trees to provide food, income at market, and shade. So I really couldn't tell myself anymore that there was nothing I could do.

World Vision has a catalog where you can find these directed donation ideas, and many more. This is a great way to get kids involved in giving, too. I guarantee you will get back much more than you can ever give, and you will never be sorry.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

It's Prom Season!

Saturday morning I took my daughter, who is a senior, out shopping for a prom dress. I'm glad we went early, by the time we finished up at around noon there was a line to use the fitting room. She tried on about 10 dresses, and the one she chose was not in my top 3. I tried to gently tell her that it was not one of my favorites. But it was the one she wanted, and it was pretty modest (which I cannot say about many of the dresses on the racks now, more about that later.) So I decided not to push or cajole, I figured it is her one and only Senior Prom Dress, and so long as her flesh is not hanging out all over the place, I can live with that.

Since the dress we got was returnable (with the tags and receipt), I told her I'd take her shopping one more time, just to see if there was anything out there she liked better (plus, it was an excuse for more shopping, which I really don't mind.) When we went shopping just 2 days letter, I was glad that we had gone early on Saturday, because the racks were just empty. Apparently, everyone had shopped this weekend. We found just one dress for her to try on, the others were either ugly or inappropriate (since when does a girl need to look like a Vegas night club act to go to the prom, or worse, a transvestite Vegas night club act.... but I digress....)
As she tried on the one and only pretty dress in the store, it was a little snug, and I figured we'd be going with the original dress we had already bought. Daughter confessed that she had tried that dress on the day before in her room and now really did not like it...

And then I heard those little words that every mother LOVES to hear (but figures she never will, not while still alive, anyway), "I should have listened to you." Excuse me, what? I'd better sit down now. To my credit, I did not say, "I told you so." I did not do a little happy dance. I did not even smirk. Not one bit. I think I said something very kind and compassionate like, "Don't worry. They still have plenty of nice dresses left. We'll find you one that you really like." (And let me just say, I don't think I can take full credit for my calm and humble demeanor, I'm sure the Holy Spirit had something to do with it.)

So as it turned out, we did find a dress that day that she really likes, and I really like, and everyone is happy.

And in it she does not look like a girl in an MTV video. So can I just ask, What is up with fashion today? Why are we trying to make our girls look like, well, you know what I mean? What is wrong with a 17 year old girl looking like 17 year old girl? Do we really want our daughters leaving the house half dressed, with men and boys leering at them and thinking and imagining God only knows what? Sorry if this sounds like a rant, but I guess it is. We let our daughters dress provocatively, and then wonder why all of their fragile self esteem and self worth is based on their appearance and sexuality. Something is wrong here. (Please let me say that I am not a prude, and I do appreciate fashion. I do not have a problem with spaghetti straps, or even strapless dresses. I do have a problem with prom dresses featuring necklines that plunge to the navel or skirts so short that a bathing suit would probably cover more.)

So please forgive my rant. But it is Prom Season, and when I go to the school that night, I'm sure I'll see plenty of those awful dresses, off the racks and being worn (kind of) by girls, mere girls.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Really Funny

This is not brand new, but I've seen it a few times lately and it's soooooo funny.
A little secret- it's how I snagged my man- yeah baby.

Hope this makes you laugh like it does for me!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Szechuan Burgers

Yesterday morning there were complaints from the little angels (ahem.....) that there was no food in the house. So I spent a couple hours at the store yesterday, procuring the necessary items to restock the pantry and freezer. It was, dare I say it, kind of fun. I have been so busy lately that things like shopping, cooking, and cleaning really went out the window. Now I am back from my trip, I guess I am kind of "nesting." Not that I enjoy cleaning (not at all!!!), I just enjoy having a clean house. I have seriously considered getting someone in here once a week, but I'm one of those people who'd clean first, because I'd be embarrased to have the cleaning lady see my dirt. And I guess that kind of defeats the purpose.

So now I have cooked (from scratch!) 2 dinners in a row since I've gotten back- I'm on a roll now!. Monday night is was chicken stew. I made these Szechuan Burgers last night for dinner, I got the recipe from the January issue of Southern Living. I served them with baked sweet potato wedges; they were really good and there was a unanimous agreement that I should make these again! I had to make a few changes, as there were a few ingredients I couldn't find in the grocery store.

I could not find the McCormick Szechwan Seasoning, even though I stood in the spice aisle for 10 minutes (literally) looking. I finally got a jar of Szechuan sauce in the Asian aisle and used that. Also, I could not find the Cucumber Ranch Dressing, so I just added about 1/4 cup of finely chopped cucumber to regular Ranch Dressing. Finally, I could not find black sesame seeds, so I just used the regular ones and toasted them in a dry nonstick frying pan for a few minutes (Hint- I found the sesame seeds in both the spice aisle and the Asian aisle, and the ones in the Asisan aisle were much less expensive.) Oh, and the chicken mixture was pretty gooey, so I added some panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) to help hold it together. And I cooked them in a fryingpan with Pam instead of on the grill.

Have I mentioned before that I can't seem to follow a recipe to save my life? Now you see why! Even when I try to follow one, it just seems impossible for me.

Prep: 20 min., Chill: 30 min., Grill: 10 min.

1/3 cup KRAFT Cucumber Ranch Dressing
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons FLORIDA'S NATURAL Brand Premium Orange Juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 1/2 cups loosely packed shredded coleslaw mix
1/2 cup diced green onions
1 tablespoon MCCORMICK Gourmet Collection Black Sesame Seeds
Vegetable cooking spray for grilling
1 1/2 pounds ground chicken breast
1/4 cup KRAFT Asian Toasted Sesame Dressing
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons MCCORMICK Gourmet Collection Szechwan Seasoning
6 sesame seed hamburger buns

Whisk together first 3 ingredients and 1/4 tsp. salt in a large bowl. Stir in coleslaw mix, green onions, and sesame seeds. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
Coat a cold cooking grate with cooking spray, and place on grill. Preheat grill to 300° to 350° (medium).

Combine ground chicken, next 3 ingredients, and remaining 3/4 tsp. salt in a large bowl until blended. Shape mixture into 6 (3/4-inch-thick) patties.

Grill patties, covered with grill lid, over 300° to 350° (medium) heat 5 minutes on each side or until done. Grill hamburger buns, cut sides down, 1 to 2 minutes or until lightly toasted.

Place 1 burger on top of each bottom bun; top evenly with coleslaw mixture and tops of buns.

Makes 6 servings


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