27 March 2008

Thankful Thursday VII

...is posted over here, on my other blog!

March 27: Links for this Week

These grocery tips are good for beginner homemakers like me.

Mmmm. Oatmeal.

Mmmm. Creamy, cinnamony rolls.

For our road trips, we always checked the states off a list as we spotted their plates. Here's a fun spin on that game.

I want to re-read this example of a household planner.

Three of the seven A's here at Route 5:9. (Read all seven A's here. There are 4 more A's, but it's not a harder read.)

I enjoy reading others' Ten Quirky facts (here and here are just a couple...also here) but I can't think of any oddnesses of my own to share. People tell me I'm weird, but to me it's normal and I can't think of things that you all might think are weird.

25 March 2008

Be Willing to Yield: Part 2 of ?

"The Bible teaches certain truths, and we have to deal with them, like it or not." From my pastor's Sunday sermon at my church.

"We are all responsible to know and submit to all of the Bible. Who are we to pick and choose what we like and what we don't like in the Bible? It's not a buffet, after all. It's the Bible." Repeatedly taught by a college professor. He also said that "when we disagree with the Bible, it's our responsibility to give way to the Bible. If we truly believe that the Bible is God's holy word, then we must live our lives in responsiveness to the Bible, giving it the number one position of authority in our lives."

That response to Biblical authority is one I respect and trust. It clarifies for me what's most important. The people I love and trust the most -- more, even than the pastor and professor I quote here -- have lived lives modeling this truth: that the Bible is true and trustworthy in every teaching.

Did you catch that?

...every teaching, even the hard ones! That's the biggest implication for me in this little truth: that even the teachings I think are hard, or that I think don't make sense, or maybe I think they don't leave much room for liberty (liberty-freedom-selfsufficient-American that I am) in my life. The bottom line is...so what if they constrain me a little? A little constraint must be good for me.

I trust the Bible and I strive to give its authority most weightiness in my life, more weight than all the other influences in my life. Maybe that's weird. Maybe it's un-American. Maybe it's dorky and backward and silly. So what? The more I know the Bible, the more I'm taught to trust and love it.

Return from Spring Break

Whew! What a nice Spring Break we had...it's the first day back at school for Ian, and he's ready* to begin the 4th Quarter.

And now, I can return to blogging. Let's see what happens today, shall we?


*Ready in this case means awake, showered, dressed, shaved, and present. It may or may not mean rip-roaringly happy to be a Responsible Adult once more. Ah well. Such is life.

20 March 2008

Thankful Thursday IV

  • Spring Break for Ian--spending days and evenings together!
  • Setting aside time to pray with friends
  • The weather is getting warmer and warmer
  • The pear trees are in full bloom
  • The forsythia bushes are in full bloom too!
  • It rained yesterday, and the grass is greener.
  • SisterinLaw A is coming up for the weekend again
  • Spending time figuring out a good and organized meal plan makes weekend cooking easier and less stressful
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Sewing projects
  • Salvation
  • The Lord Jesus's bodily death and bodily resurrection*

* The Lord's death was a true, bodily death. Anyone who says otherwise is a heretic. Read 1 Corinthians 15:12-19, especially verse 17. Consider this: if your faith deviates from the truth that is written in scripture, then it's idolatrous and cannot be considered true faith. If this is true of you, then please, please be reconciled to God by confessing your sin of idolatry and repenting of rebellion against him and his holy Bible.

This Week's Links

I like these embroidered hearts.

Chocolate plus Easter dessert...yes.

Look! Who knew this local landmark was such a big deal nationally? I heard about this auction on local radio news, but here it is on national news.

I'm really intrigued by what others are reading.

This baby bed creeps me out. Here's a quote from the article that summs up by creeped-out-ness: "Having a cot like this there is no need to rock your baby by your hands because it has automatic rocking. This will free you from such dut[ies] as baby rocking and save your time." Eep!

Route 5:9 from Peacemaker Ministries is fast becoming a fave blog. I like this article about majoring on the minors. And this video is just plain funny!

This photo by souleMama is astounding. I love it.

Recipe: Spiced Ham Loaf and Spiced Apple Sauce

My mom grew up in Pennsylvania, and this is a very traditional Pennsylvania Dutch home-cookin' recipe. I served this last Sunday, and it was delicious. The leftovers were delicious, too!

Spiced Ham Loaf
1 3/4 c. milk
2 large eggs
2 T brown sugar
1 T dry mustard
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
6 slices soft bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes*
1 1/2 lb ground ham (pre cooked)
1 lb ground beef

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the milk, eggs, brown sugar, dry mustard, salt, and pepper. Add the bread cubes, ham, and beef. Blend well; shape a loaf. Place in a large loaf pan or onto a roasting pan.**

Bake at 350 until firm and lightly browned, about 90 minutes. Meat should reach an internal temperature of 175 to 180 degrees on a meat thermometer.

Remove from oven. Let rest 15 minutes, allowing the juices to settle, before slicing.***

Apple Cider Sauce
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
3 cups apple cider, or no-sugar-added apple juice
3/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2T + 1 tsp cornstarch
2 T water
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice

Combine the brown sugar, apple cider, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a saucepan. Note: because the sweetness of ciders varies, be prepared to adjust the amount of sugar to taste.**** Bring to a boil.

Separately dissolve the cornstarch in the water. Gradually add the cornstarch mixture to the boiling apple cider mixture, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens slightly.

Remove the sauce from heat. Stir in the lemon juice. Serve with Spiced Ham Loaf or Baked Ham.

This recipe is from CDKitchen http://www.cdkitchen.com


*I bake my own bread, so this was extra yummy bread. It would still be ok with store bought bread, but the bread I bake doesn't have any extraneous ingredients.

**I used a round casserole dish because it was what I had on hand.

***I let mine rest, then covered it and put it into the fridge. Then, for Sunday lunch, I microwaved it to take off the chill and put it into my already-warm oven to heat it up enough to serve at the table.

****I used the full measure of sugar, and it was prrrrreeeeeety sweet! Next time I'll use just half.

19 March 2008

How Do You Roll?

I'm having dinner tonight with my friend G who's growing into a deeper friendship with me. (That's a story for another time.) Anyway, we were talking on Sunday and revealed our secret inner insecurities.

I wish I were more task-oriented like G is. A doer. You know The Doers: the ones who maintain deliciously beautiful homes at all times. Mundane Housekeeping Tasks seems to come naturally to them, and they never sit still and just think, or sit still and just read, because the To Do list looms over their heads.

She wishes she were more analytic-oriented like I am. I'm a thinker, and I know us. We read the dictionary to find new words we don't know. (Saturday evening I spent an hour with a fellow thinker. We each read our own dictionary*, sharing new and exciting words aloud to each other...) We sit and think and analyze for hours. We sometimes do kooky things just to see what would happen. (In the college dining hall, I once ate my entire meal of chili-mac off my tray, not off a plate. Just to see what would happen.)

Here are some implications:
  • Why do the both of us assume there's something wrong with the way we were created?
  • Why does each of us assume we are lazy because we don't operate the way the other does? I feel the pain of my innate laziness because I don't Do as much as she does; I daresay she feels the same sort of insecurity when compared to my Constant Thinking and Analyzing.
  • Why can't I accept her help in making me a better Doer, a better Housekeeper? More accurately, why am I hesitant to accept her help?
  • Which type of acumen is assumed to be more usable? (You can get tutoring anywhere...I'm tutoring a girl in my Linguistics class on the finer points of grammar, and I could tutor my friend G in doctrine and theology if she wanted...but honoring your innate talent for Do-ing and Housekeeping by tutoring people like me who just aren't Doers? That's a bold idea.) To rephrase and clarify my question: who is considered to be more important: white-collar workers or blue-collar workers? And why is that?
Sigh. Here I am ruminating over the Thinker/Doer dichotomy (and using words like dichotomy, too) when I should be (1) planning my weekend meals and (2) compiling my grocery list so I can (3) get home and (4) cook food and (5) clean my house.


*Yes, we own two dictionaries. When we married, we purged multiple copies of the same books, especially duplicate college textbooks, but we decided not to fight over whose dictionary to keep. Other issues are more important...like which of the double sinks do you want? and how will we squeeze our toothpaste tube now that we share one? and the ever-popular how much does it annoy you when I correct your grammar? Oh, the delights of being married to a Thinker.

17 March 2008

Doing Eggs

I really enjoy family traditions. One of my traditions from my family of origin is Easter-Egg Coloring. It's not just using tubs of dye to dye eggs:

It's also using onion skins and items from nature to color eggs

This is Latvian Egg Coloring. I grew up doing this. Every Easter Saturday, we (my family: Mom, Dad, Sister, and Omamma [Dad's mom]) would sit at the same table and make each egg an individual artwork. It's so exciting to put leaves, grass, three-leafed clover, pear blossoms, grape hyacinths, forsythia blooms, baby oak leaves, and all kinds of materials on the egg, wrap it up, put it in the dye bath, and then...unwrap the egg and see how it turned out! Woo!

We colored eggs yesterday. Ian was there, and SisterinLaw A came for a visit so she could color eggs too, and her friend A was also there. It was such a nice time. It's a great season (springtime) for turning on pleasant music, opening the windows, covering the table with accessories for this art project, and do it together.

13 March 2008

New Blog! Check it out...

I've kicked off another blog. Yay. Stop by and say hi.

Thankful Thursday V

  • A nice house to live in
  • Good-quality furniture to put in our nice house
  • Sunshine (the weather is warming up down here!)
  • The pear trees are just about ready to bud--maybe they'll bud for Palm Sunday
  • A washer and dryer in my house--no more trips to the laundromat!
  • The word of God, like a mirror to my soul
  • Forgiveness, when the mirror of God's word reveals sin that I've so carefully hidden from othgers and tended for my own benefit
  • Language. (It's cool)
  • New friends at college and at my church
  • Old friends
  • My family--especially my parents who were the first ones to teach me the gospel
  • Hope for tomorrow--literally: Friday, abstractly: all my tomorrows, theologically: my Eternal Tomorrow in heavenA visit from my SiL this weekend
  • Sleep and rest

There's more, people, but I have got to get to my choring.

Unearthing the Lies

Having conflict? (Who isn't?) It's an unavoidable reality, unfortunately, and my own temptation is to analyze it to death so that I summarize how that person (usually my husband, because he's the one I interact with the most) caused it all. Terrible, I know. Antidote to that sort of self-protection? Gazing into the mirror of the Word.

Here's a list of lies that also helps unearth some of the foolishness we hide in our selves. It's a quick read, I promise.

12 March 2008

Linguistic Ambiguity (or, shooting people with telescopes)

Notice that sometimes sentences that are potentially ambiguous lack a possible meaning because it does not make sense from the perspective of how we understand the world....let us take [the word] gun and replace it with telescope, which produces Pat shot the soldier with the telescope [instead of Pat shot the soldier with the gun]. In this case it is plausible that the soldier that Pat shot has a telescope, and it is much less plausible that Pat used a telescope to shoot the soldier. Of course, it is possible in some imaginary world that we can use telescopes to shoot people. But notice that we are not likely to seize on this as a possible meaning, because in our everyday world such a telescope is not familiar to us.

Georgios Tsedernalis and Wai Yi Peggy Wong, editors. Language Files: Materials for an Introduction to Language and Linguistics. 9th ed. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 2004.

If I Had a Scanner...

...or a digital camera, for that matter...I would digitize the image of my linguistics midterm and post it here. This will have to suffice:



[Bows.] "I'm so proud!"

10 March 2008


My phone just rang. It was Mom's ringtone. I answered. "Woof," she said. (She actually woofed, though; she didn't just say the word 'woof.') I laughed and said, "I know where you are!"

Don't you just love family jokes?

Proposal story (not mine)

Proposal story!

thankful that I'M NOT BEING TREATED BY AN ORTHOPEDIST for pete's sake

Yesterday morning we had some frost on the ground, and on the cars, and on our wood porch. I was wearing dressy heels.

My foot slipped on the top step and I toppled forward onto the ground. I had my jacket over my arm, my books in my hand, and my coffee in my other hand. I dropped them all to land on my hands.

I did not tear my nice pants
I did not spill coffee on my nice shirt
I did not catch my ankle in the step and break it
I did not land badly and break my wrists
I forgot my lap desk and didn't have it in my hands, so I didn't land on a large piece of plywood
I didn't have my lap desk and didn't break my fingers while landing with my hand in the handle
I was only winded
I didn't break my glasses

I wrenched my back and now it hurts. Again.
I have a biiig bruise on my left shin where it hit the step (but I didn't break my ankle!)
I bruised my right index finger where I landed
Both my arms are sore from the unexpected long-distance 'pushup'
I didn't sleep well because I re-injured my lower back
My nice pants have a grass stain on them

I am more thankful than annoyed...but I can be both. I'm working on counting all things joy today, even though I am tired and sore and my back hurts. Remembering that I'm not in the hospital, I'm not in a cast, I'm not in several casts. I'm just winded, not wounded (forgive the terrible rhyminess) .

(Poor husband had gone down the steps in front of me with his books and the casserole dish. He heard me say 'oh I slipped' or something, turned, and saw me topple from the third step. He didn't know what to do! He didn't want to throw the dish down [it's one of my favorites] or set his books down [the ground was wet] but he didn't want to turn away to put his stuff in the car so he could help me [that could seem callous]. It happened so quickly! I told him I was ok, ok, ok, so he took 5 seconds to toss his armload in the car and come help me up. And it wasn't until I stood up and felt tremble-y that I realized I should have just stayed down. Cause I wanted to sit down [I felt like I might faint and I'd rather faint from a sitting position than a standing position] but the steps were wet [or would be as soon as my 98-degree bottom hit them]. So we were stuck in a holding pattern for a little moment. It'll be funny in a few days when my back feels better.)

08 March 2008

Spring Forward

If you are getting this news flash by reading my little blog, then I'll be shocked.

But set your clocks forward tonight. And go to bed early. We're all tired as it is, and an extra hour of lost sleep won't help anyone.

07 March 2008

Be Willing to Yield: Part 1 of ?

I'm writing a loose series of my thoughts and interpretations of the topic of submission.

Keep in mind:

  • These are not tightly-reasoned intellectual theologian essays. They're a record of things I am thinking about this topic.

  • I'd love to read your comments and feedback. You might notice that all comments have to be approved by me, so please think before you write! It's so easy to be a jerky jerk who reacts like a jerk when commenting on a touchy topic like this.

  • I work really hard to circumscribe my thinking by the authority of the Word of God, the Bible--and not anything else. I do hold to a theological system and a confession, but they are not the authorities that the Bible is. I try to make my points based on the Bible.

  • These are only intended to be a documentation of how the Bible shapes and directs my thoughts and attitudes in regards to this topic. I'm not preaching, because preaching is for pastors to do. I'm just sharing what I have learned.
Whew! Now, on with the meat of the post:

::: ::: ::: ::: ::: ::: :::

I happen to be reading and studying 2 Peter right now, and I just finished my expedition into 2 Peter 1:5-8:

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with
virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and
self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness
with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these
qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or
unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  • Note that this attribute-list grows. Every attribute in this list feeds into another attribute, until the crown jewel of them all is the attribute of love. The purpose of having these attributes is to that we can refrain from "being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of Jesus"...or, to put that into positive terms, to cause us to be effective and fruitful in the knowledge of Jesus.

  • This command is addressed to "those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ," as we can see from 2 Peter 1:1. Consequently, if you have faith (true faith is only "by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ"), then this command applies to you.

  • Not only does that command apply to you, but the extra adjectival prepositional phrase (I'm a grammar nerd, ok?) "of equal standing" applies to your faith: if you have true faith, then it is a faith of equal standing with Peter's...and of equal standing with everyone else's, too.

  • It's not enough just to have these characteristics. No, they have to grow, too: "if these qualities are yours and are increasing." (italics mine)
Implications for the topic of my series:

  • All of us, no matter if we are male or female, are commanded to put forth effort into having and growing these characteristics.

  • The characteristics are vital to have. If I do not show forth these attributes, I may conclude a couple things. (1) I don't have true faith or (2) I don't take knowledge of Jesus Christ seriously enough to make His truth, the Bible, in charge of my attitudes and actions.

  • The characteristics aren't practiced in a vacuum. I'm not an ascetic, I'm not living in seclusion, I'm not a pole-sitter. The attributes are practiced while I live my life interacting with others.

  • If I'm acting like a shrew, or being hypersensitive, or treating the people in my life like they're trash or insignificant, then I'm breaking this command.
I do break the command all the time! I have been shrewish. I have been a jerk. I have copped an attitude with folks (like the way I roll my eyes, even secretly, at the walm.art cashier who made me wait an extra 17 seconds while she had to get a new roll of reiciept tape while I waited...or the way I get so angry when I see someone in an Expensive Car speeding and not getting pulled over...or the way I get so annoyed at my husband when he doesn't hand me the tissues when I'm crying...). I have broken the command! I do break the command!

Thankfully, in this very verse is the solution for that sort of deadly error: who is this command given to? To me, because I have faith by the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. He already lived the perfectly righteous life, and the gospel is centered around him: He died and rose again so that his righteousness would be mine.

When I miss the mark (even insignificantly), thankfully, justice has already been served (that was what the Cross was all about) and I am freed from wrath and guilt to keep on with the command: putting effort into living life according to the standards set forth for me in the Bible. I operate in the grace of Jesus' righteousness applied to me, right? So as I go on interacting with others, I have the best possible ruler for measuring success: am I doing what the command says? Here it is again:

Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with
knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness,
and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and
brotherly affection with love. --2 Peter 1:5-7


All Scripure references are taken from the English Standard Version.

Grocery List

I don't write meal plans. My MotherinLaw has a weekly list of meals she posts on her fridge, and everyone knows what to look forward to every day. My mom cooked lots of food on Saturdays, stowed it away, and pulled stuff out throughout the week.

My tendency is to homekeep like my mom, but I need something more organized that that. The last few weeks, it's worked well to think about the weekend's needs, and about the next week's needs, and do a grocery run.

So here's my grocery list, with four specific meals in mind for next week:
bread flour
frozen veggies...*carrots, *peas, *corn
laundry detergent (reminds me, I have to go put the clothes over into the dryer...be right back...that took longer than I thought because I also had to lay out the t-shirts so they don't wrinkle till I fold them)
can of cream of celery soup
apple juice
2 lb. stew beef
3 lbs mushrooms
9 c. beef stock (that's 72 oz.)
1 1/2 c. pearl barley
brown sugar
chocolate chips
sour cream


*have to check pantry/fridge to double check

Stop, Thief!!

Libraries...for the really motivated police officers. Hah.


I just commented over at Adventures in Mercy. And I left my url.

Molly was talking about submission.

Note: Angry responders, do not come over here and make angry, thoughtless, sarcastic, snarky, judgmental responses. Do not react out of shock that someone can be questioning, saying to yourselves, "Questions? She must be a heretic! Someone should tell her husband!!"

You are more than willing to interact and engage, but you can do so with "speech seasoned with grace."

Thank you.

06 March 2008


I'm joining in! Rocks in my Dryer is having a spur-of-the-moment dish carnival and I want to share, too! I think it's amazing how many people, including me, will share details like these on the Internet. Are our plates really that important that we think of them as signifiers of who we are and how we keep house? Makes you think, right?
First, my fine china: Lenox MicroSafe Continental Dining Platinum. My godmother talked us into registering for it about two weeks before our wedding! By that time, we only had ONE AFTERNOON to get that done, so we ran to Dill.ards and *poof* registered really quickly. The dish saleslady was impressed with our communications skills and decision-making technique.
We have service for 6 now. My favorite parts? The size of the plates, the classiness and simplicity of the design, and the size/shape of the teacups--with their easy-to-hold handles!
Our everyday dishes: Pfaltzgraff Denim. We only had ONE DAY to do all of our registering (we lived in separate cities, were both teachers, and were coming up on final exams, ok?), and I learned from my sister's registering adventures that men have opinions but haven't talked and obsessed and thought about them as much as girls do. So, we talked everything over the week before we registered, we prayed faithfully for guidance, and when we saw these in Tar.get, we clapped and giggled. (Ok, it was just me. And registering is hard work, peeps, so I was a little punchy.)
Thanks to my grandparents and my parents-in-law, we have service for ten. We also have the gravy boat, the sugar and creamer, salt and pepper shakers, and three canisters. I like the blue look.
Next, my buffet plates. White. Round. Utilitarian. I picked them up at a garage sale at my store last summer. They are freezer-, microwave-, dishwasher-, and oven-safe. (Oven safe! Yay!) I have ten.
I also have ten lionshead bowls, perfect for French onion soup and individual macaroni and cheeses. I'm glad I bought them, though they are a little hard to wash by hand (we don't have a dishwasher).
My Christmas plates I got at The Bombay Store in its big going-out-of-business sale. There was a Bombay Store two doors down from Mia Cucina, and I had my eye on their beautiful Tartan plates. When they went 50% off, I snatched up their next to last box--service for four, with the dinner plate, salad plate, soup plate, and mug. Soooo pretty!
I looked and looked but couldn't find any pictures of the actual plates. This is the closest I could find, with the white center and the tartan band; ours are actually red, white, green, and yellow tartan (with red as the primary color).
And my winter plates, courtesy of my mom and my mother-in-law...and my husband, who told his mom what exactly I wanted for Christmas two years ago. I looked and looked, but could only found this similar picture:Instead of randomly-scattered snowflakes around the rim, my plates feature evenly placed flakes around the rim. The center is white, though. The best part? The glaze is iridescent, and as my people know, iridescent is my favorite color. We have 6 of these, as well as cereal bowls. However, they are not microwave safe!
I like plates! I got that gene from my grandmother, who has four or five nice, formal sets.
I grew up going to Grandma's house and using her nice dishes, and so I regularly bust out my nice dishes and use them, even if it's just pizza or sandwiches. They make even the most bland dinner extra nice, and fancy dinner is extra memorable.

Thankful Thursday IV

I missed last week's! There was something about having a long to-do list and I simply let it slip. I'm sorry. Anyway, here goes:

~The new header makes me happy. It reminds me of last summer's festivities. My friend cj took the photo.
~My husband remains sweet and kind and faithful, my truest friend.
~Regardless of insidious and sneaky attacks on our faith, or clumsy and fumbling rants disguised as fables and fairy tales, the Word of the Lord remains the only sure and certain testimony.
~Learning truths about the Lord Jesus and his ways from 2 Peter...who knew you could get pages and pages and pages of journaling from the first two verses, the salutation??
~Regardless of yesterday's flops and failures, the Lord's mercy is new every day.
~The sun is shining brightly today (I love sunshine!)
~We have had rain, rain, rain lately; we need more because of our drought.
~A pleasant conversation last night with a new friend. This friendship has lots of promise to become a long-lasting friendship.
~A good conversation yesterday afternoon with an old friend.
~Old friends whose friendships don't fade or break even when we've been through some serious stuff.
~My family. I miss them.
~My parents' faithfulness to the Lord, to each other, and to me and my sister. What a blessing to have godly parents!
~Spring Break.
~Language. You know how complex a language is, and how amazing it is that we just learn it? Babies just hear and listen and hear, and they pick it up. *Poof!*
~That the awkward and question-filled season of my life called 'courtship' is over. What a strain, right? Whew.
~It's worth it, though.

05 March 2008

Still Addicted to Pop Culture Even Though We No Longer Have TV to Watch...

This saddens me more than the shocker about Heath.


I didn't watch Dirty Dancing till I was in college, but I sure did love it. It inaugurated my newfound love of dance movies.

Sob! "Nobody puts Baby in a corner!"

04 March 2008

Tiny House

Look at this tiny house! I can't imagine actually living my life in that house. I might have as a single, but in my current season? Nope.

Dinner for Nine

Covenant is on its Spring Break this week, and the Dining Hall is closed. The students who are staying on campus during Spring Break have to fend for themselves. And not all of the dorms are equipped with stoves for the students to cook on.

So I invited some of my new friends to come for dinner. It snowballed a little, and in the end 7 college girls came over.

Our table has leaves, but until last night we've never used them. It was pretty exciting for me, and really fun.

The menu?
Mom's Lasagna
Cindy's Salad
Green Beans
Garlic Bread
Pioneer's Mom's Apple Dumplings


The dumplings were delicious. My favorite was the crustiness of the croissant-dumpling with the lightly caramelized sugar on it. Yummmm. I was, I confess, a little skeptical about the Mountain Dew, but I followed directions (and heeded the advice about the proper size dish)--and it all came out delicious. I'm going to make it again for my church's weekly potluck, and they will love it too.

You should definitely hop over there and get that recipe and make the dumplings! They were sooooooo good.

03 March 2008

High School

Can it really have been ten years since I graduated? I just got a save-the-date for my 10-Year High School Reunion. Whew!


Also, here's a YouTube of a girl on the current Varsity Basketball team. We were down by 8 and this shot didn't win the game, but got it just a little closer to victory. (Keep in mind this game was at District Playoffs against the #1 Traditional Powerhouse school--the same school that's been one of the rivals even 'since my day.')

What a great shot! I'm so proud of them, even though I don't know them. They're still from my school, right?

Heat Kills

I have four rules for living. They're just general principles that can be applied in a variety of ways, and I've found them most useful in my middle school classrooms. Just a couple words, but with lots of meaning for baby teenagers to tuck away in their growing minds.

Rule #2: Heat kills.

In the summer of 1994, Mom and my Sister and I all traveled to Eastern Pennsylvania to visit some of Mom's growing-up landmarks. We saw the house where she grew up (and the tree where the neighbor boy rustygiffin tied her up and ran at her with a clothesline pole like a joust...she was six, and it really scared her). We saw the first-grade classroom where her naughty classmate jumped out the window and the teacher couldn't stop him because she had elephantitis. We saw the high school she attended. We saw the McDonald's where, when she was learning to drive, she had the car in Reverse instead of Drive and hit the trash can and then sped off. All of these places that we had heard about for years we finally saw. We also saw her grandmother's and great-grandmother's graves (I remember that odd chilling-backbone feeling of seeing her maiden name on a stranger's grave...that these were all real people!)

That same summer, we also went with Mom's Aunt J to Gettysburg Battlefield. It was sooooo hot that day! The radio newscaster was warning people to stay inside but what did we do? We went to a battlefield instead of doing something sensible like going to a movie or a mall or someplace air-conditioned.

The people working in the National Park Visitor's Center were handing out (cheaply copied) flyers that gave health safety tips for sightseeing in extreme heat, and we (Mom, Aunt J, Sister, and I) laughed ourselves silly that the first tip was "Heat Kills."

It's true that extreme heat does kill many people. That is not what we were laughing about: we were laughing about the irony of a 'health tip' being something so serious as "Heat Kills."


But think about it. Heat does kill--it can be the heat of a house fire or the heat of a heat wave, but what I like to point out to my students is that the heat of anger can kill. You may be familiar with the schoolyard chant "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me**;" what this Rule for Living says to my students and to me is that the opposite is true. Anger, passion, temper, and other 'hot' sins do burn and scar and scald and kill; therefore we must learn to manage our emotions and corral our passions. Just as we stayed in an air-conditioned car and drank SO MUCH water*** to manage the heat and take care that it didn't kill us, so we also need to take note days that are emotionally hotter than others and cool and soothe them, our emotions.


*Interestingly, it was also July 1. I remember that detail because the battle itself took place July 1-3, 1863; I pondered that the battle had taken place 134 years before exactly and those poor soldiers were probably sooooo hot too!

**I never, ever believed that schoolyard chant, and was relieved when a teacher or someone finally pointed out to me the fallaciousness of the little ditty.

***Having Mom and Aunt J together, in a heat wave, on a small road-trip gave rise to more reminiscings of some of the family car vacations they took when Mom was a little girl. One time they (Mom, Uncle A, Grandma, Slim [my grandfather], Mum [my great-grandmother, but not the same one in the grave I mentioned previously], and Aunt J) all drove from Eastern PA to Clearwater, Florida. Uncle A was going through his huge teenage growth spurt and his legs were so long and the car was so crowded that he stuck his legs out the window. Seriously.

01 March 2008


When I make pancakes, I make the Joy of Cooking Buttermilk Pancakes. They are divine, and as I get better and cooking them, they are more and more tasty every time.

Buttermilk Pancakes
Whisk together dry ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Combine in another bowl:
1 1/2 cups buttermilk*
3 tbsp. butter, melted
2 eggs

-Pour combined wet ingredients into dry ingredients and just combine. (The more you stir, the chewier the pancakes will be, so just combine the ingredients. It's ok if there are some smallish lumps in the batter.)
-Cook in a medium-hot skillet.**
-You can keep them warm in a 200-degree oven until they are all made.


*One of my church cookbooks says that an acceptable substitute for buttermilk is vinegar + milk: 1 tbsp. of vinegar for every cup of milk. Pour the vinegar into the measuring cup and then pour the milk in to make 1 cup total liquid. Let it sit for 3-5 minutes to sour, and treat that as your buttermilk.

**My pancake-frying tips: (1) Don't let the skillet get too hot. Once it gets too hot, the bottom of your pancakes will burn before all the batter is cooked. (2) Flip the pancake once the bubbles in the batter become 'fixed.' If you have batter spattering around when you flip, it was not quite done enough. Just let it cook on the other side a little longer, and don't flip the next one so soon. (3) Take the pan off the heat and re-oil every time. I don't use spray-grease on my fry pans at all anymore; I use a basting brush and just a little wipe of vegetable oil to keep the pan lubed.

Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Before I write, let me just say this recipe was originally FineCooking's. I tweaked it.
Last weekend, I made this wonderful Macaroni and Cheese for a girls' night party. Here's the recipe I promised you:

Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese
  • Kosher Salt
  • 6 tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 6 tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbs. Dijon mustard
  • 1 quart whole milk, heated
  • 1 large sprig fresh thyme, plus 1 tbs. chopped thyme leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 oz. grated extra-sharp white Cheddar (the sharpest you can find)
  • 4 oz. grated Monterey Jack
  • 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. Tabasco sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb. macaroni (elbow or something fun and small)
  • 2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil, plus more for the baking dish
  • 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 1/2 oz. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

  • Read the entire recipe before you start. Get the steps in your mind so that when it's time to start, you know what you are doing as you go.
  • Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Boil your pasta in a big pot. (Pasta cooks better if you give it plenty of water and space to swim around in, but you won't kill the pasta totally if you only have a medium pot to boil these noodles in.) (Oh, and you can boil this earlier. You don't have to do it while you are compiling your white sauce. I don't know about you, but that's waaaaay too much multitasking for me.)
Compile your white sauce:

  • Melt the butter. It should sizzle up a little then calm down.
  • Throw in the onion and 1/2 tsp. salt and cook until the onion is softened.
  • Now add the flour, and cook. Stir it, and cook the flour for about 1-2 minutes.
  • Stir in the mustard.
  • Add the milk. (Use a whisk for this step. Add the milk slowly until you whisk all the butter-flour lumps out. Be sure the milk is warmed because adding cold milk to hot butter-flour will make your butter-flour wonky.)
  • Now add the bay leaf, thyme sprig, and another 1/2 tsp. salt. Let it come to a bare simmer.
  • Cook this for 15 minutes to let the flavors get cozy with each other. Stir frequently. Don't burn the milk on the bottom of your pan.
  • Pull out the herbs (bay leaf and thyme sprig).
  • Add the cheeses. (Use a spoon for stirring during this part, because melty cheese is a devil to wash off a whisk!) Stir just until melted. (If you let it overcook with cheese in it, the cheese will get oily and yucky.)
  • Add the Tobasco and Worcestershire. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Take the sauce off the heat and gently mix in the cooked pasta.

Dump into a buttered/oiled oven-safe dish, and cover with bread-crumb topping.

Bake in oven for 15 minutes to get that bread-crumb topping crispy and wonderful.

Let the macaroni and cheese rest 5-10 minutes before serving, even though you will want to gobble it all right there right away!

Bread-Crumb Topping

  • Toss the breadcrumbs (2 cups), Parmigiano (1 1/2 oz.), olive oil (2 tbs.), chopped thyme (1 tsp.), 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper all together.
  • If you do this step beforehand, then you'll be ready to roll when your white sauce-cooked pasta is in the dish and ready to roll.

Under Consruction

I was ready for a bit of a change. The look is different. Change is inspirational...like changing the furniture around.

But it's not done yet, so forgive the awkwardness of it. It's getting there!

Staying Organized

Here's a post about staying organized. It's another good idea, and a habit I should start building.