Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Last Day Of School

I love this time of year!  School is winding down and summer is upon us.  This year, more then ever, my kids need a break and I can't wait to spend more time with them.  

A couple of years ago I was searching for something fun to mark the end of a great school year.  Being a new blog reader I searched and searched and somewhere I stumbled upon a great idea (link to something similar here)  - last day of school t-shirts.  How fun!  We even made a line for their teacher to sign.  There are some really fun ideas to celebrate the end of the school year in blogland, not sure what we'll do this year, better get on it!

All you need is an inexpensive t-shirt from the craft store and iron on transfers 
which come with their own online template.  Easy peasy.

A fun shirt for the last day of school and a keepsake all in one.

Now, if we could only go back to second grade and kinder!!  Miss those sweet days.

Happy summer!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Thank You

For love of country they accepted death... 
-James A. Garfield


Friday, May 25, 2012

Soup For Me

We woke this morning to rain.  Rain?!  At first I thought I was hearing things.  Figured in my tired brain that it was normal since I was in the North West - but wait I'm in sunny So Cal.  What a nice surprise!

We're having friends over for a very casual dinner tonight so why not soup?  I'm in!  In my cupboard I found a few cans of pumpkin puree, reasoned if we could have a cool rain in May I could eat pumpkin soup in the spring.  I pulled out a favorite and easy recipe from Rachel Ray's 30-Minute Veggie Meals (to buy go here) and just a few short moments later, soup for us all.  Link to recipe online found here.

Not sure if I can wait until our company shows!!

**Rachel's Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup

1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil (1 turn around the pan)
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) vegetable stock (or chicken if you're not a veggie)
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes in juice
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
1/2 cup heavy cream 
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 pinches cayenne pepper 
Course salt to taste

Heat a deep pot over medium heat.  Add oil and butter.  When butter melts add onions and sauté about 5 minutes until tender.  Add broth, tomatoes, black beans and pumpkin.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and stir in cream, curry powder, cumin, cayenne and a few pinches of salt.  Simmer 5 minutes, adjust seasonings and serve.  

** Please note the above recipe is from the cookbook, the recipe found online has a few small differences.  


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wednesday Rant

Social media.  Yikes.  It can be such a blessing but boy, oh boy, can it ever be a curse.  Recently I was witness to an online battle that, like a car wreck, I just couldn't turn away from.  It's crazy to see how easily words typed can turn in to an attack.  Would these same words be used if in person?  I pray not!  Then why, why, why, can we be so mean?

We hear a lot about school bullies that take their nastiness to the internet.  We've seen the devastation it causes young people when others relentlessly spew hatred at them.  (Just this morning I read about a 10 year old girl who took her own life. 10?!)  It's so wrong.  

It's also wrong for adults to do the same.  In the Navy there is a way of doing things, it's called using the chain of command.  If you have an issue work your way from the bottom to the top - go from one level to the next if nothing is done.  Words hurt people.  Words typed, for all the world to see, hurt people.  

God's word holds true to the virtual tongue as much as the literal, does it not?  Here is what I pray to hold to.  Here is what I pray to teach my children.  

Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.  Proverbs 21:23

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.  Ephesians 4:29

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.  Proverbs 15:1

And ultimately, learning from what I witnessed online:

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, oh Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.  Psalm 19:14

Protect them, oh God, and may they do no harm to others.
My girls, 6 years ago.
Okinawa, Japan

Thursday, May 17, 2012

When My Plate Needs Something Green

Thanks to Ina, the Barefoot Contessa, I have a go-to, can't miss, side dish.  It's the perfect combination of easy seasoning with fresh veggies.  Some recipes, from my favorite stars on my favorite network with food, can be hard to duplicate.  This is not one of them.  The ingredients are easy and straight forward and could already be sitting in your home.  

I will include the recipe below but for the original and to read other reviews here is the link.  

Ratings for this recipe are hard to ignore...
 5 out of 5 stars.  It's a winner!

Fresh and easy ingredients.  (This was for a large Mother's Day crowd so I doubled the recipe.)

Ready to be tossed in olive oil & seasoned with salt & pepper.

Blanched & drained & ready for their ice water bath.

Roasted goodness.

Almost forgot to snap a photo of the finished product! 
 It was time to eat & I was ready so this is after my first helping.  

Ina's French String Beans

  • 1 pound string beans, both ends removed (she calls for French string beans, I use whatever I can get my hands on like in my photo above of green beans - close enough?)
  • 1 red onion, large diced (after roasting this is my favorite ingredient)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, large diced
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, large diced
  • 2 TB good olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Blanch the string beans in a large pot of boiling salted water for 4 minutes. Drain immediately and immerse in a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. 
In a large bowl toss the onion and bell peppers together with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes, toss occasionally for even roasting of the veggies.
Just before serving, reheat the string beans in a large sauté pan drizzled with a little olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and arrange on a platter. Spoon the roasted vegetables over the string beans and serve hot or at room temperature.

Linking up with Farm Girl Paints for Feed My Family Friday!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Hello Monday

Monday, Monday...

My first Monday linking up with Lisa Leonard - "Hello Monday!"

Hello afterglow of spending a wonderful Saturday afternoon 
with fun cousins.

Hello Mother's Day gifts - a total surprise! 
Can't wait to spend time with both.
Hello grocery store to pick up ingredients for a new veggie burger recipe.
(First to decide what recipe to begin with.)

Hello healthy breakfast.

Hello sink full of Mother's Day dishes.
(How did that happen?!)

Hello Survivor on our computer while I clean. 
(Am I the only person still watching this show?)

Hello Monday!  It's going to a busy, busy week.


Friday, May 11, 2012

A Shout Out

Happy Military Spouse Appreciation Day to all my mil spouse peeps!

It can be a hard life but with grace and determination we forge ahead.  Thank you to all who have been there for me as I walk this road, it's never one we walk alone is it?  You have taught me patience, independence, and how to mow my own lawn, darn it.  You have been the village to my children during long deployments, you have left cookies on my door step on those trying days.  You laughed with me when I, out of shear exhaustion, put my 4 & 6 year olds to bed at 6:30 pm.  Thank you, all of you for being there with me along the way.  Thank you, all of you, for allowing me to do the same for you.  I am stronger because of this community and I wouldn't trade it for a moment.

May God bless you all.  May God keep your loved one safe, whether here at home or over seas.

There's just something about a man in uniform.

Official White House appreciation proclamation.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

My Grandmother's Lemon Cake

I can't believe I'm about to do this!
This feels crazy to me, giving out the recipe for our family cake.
Sure, I've jotted it down on recipe cards for friends but this, this is going out there on a limb for me.  It's so good though, I really should share.

What is the best way to post a recipe?  Is it Pioneer Woman style, step by step pictures?  Is it a simple recipe typed up with a picture of me scarfing down a piece of the beloved cake?  Maybe it's something in the middle - I'll go with that.  (Are you enjoying my internal dialogue?  That is really what it sounds like in my head.  Ha!)

It was Hubby's birthday Monday, meaning it was time to make the favorite cake.  It's not from scratch but there are enough tweaks to make it better then boxed.

Better write up to follow at the end of the post.
This is my personal recipe card though, scribbled while talking with my 
grandmother on the phone many years ago.

Ingredients collected.

Four eggs, more then the normal box recipe.

That's a lot of oil, I didn't claim this would be health food!

 Prepping the baking dish the old fashioned way, butter then flour.

Secret ingredient added - Lemon Pudding mix.

Water and cake mix added, beat for four minutes.

Once baked poke holes, I didn't have a tooth pick so I used a BBQ skewer,
not the prettiest way but I was out of time to run to the store.

Glazed with the powder sugar/fresh lemon juice icing.  So good.
Again, not pretty to look at but trust me, you'll get past it.

Just one night later, yes those are crumbs everywhere, even on the mixer.
It's what happens when I leave the house for an evening meeting.

Grandma Elma's Lemon Cake

  • Yellow Cake Mix (preferably with pudding in the mix)
  • Lemon Flavored Pudding (this is where I vary from the original - Grandma uses a small Lemon Jello mix)

             I used 3/4 of a large pudding mix box.
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup oil
  • 3/4 cup water

Mix all for 30 seconds then beat for 4 minutes, prepare baking dish and bake at 350 until golden and your tooth pick (or skewer) comes out clean.  You can loosely follow the box directions for baking time.

Once done let rest for 5 minutes while you mix
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (don't skimp & use bottled, that would be just wrong)

Poke holes over entire cake and drizzle icing.


Linking up with Farm Girl Paints!!


Monday, May 7, 2012

Go check out my talented cousin and aunt at Canvas and Canopy (link below photo).
BTW this is my grandmother and me at another cousin's bridal shower,
 do we have the same smile?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Turquoise Summer Lovin'

If you could take a look at my beach towel stash and daughters swimsuit collection(s) you would notice a common theme - turquoise baby!  When it comes to summer I can't get enough of any shade of that sweet blue/green combo that reminds me of crystal clear water.

Today while waisting time in Target (such a bad place for me to go with time to kill) I stumbled upon these plastic cups.  Perfect for my summer time iced tea.  I also found the shade of nail polish I've been searching for since spotting it on another blogger.  Score!  Now my toes are ready for the "May Grey" to burn off so we can hit the beach in style.

Target cups & Essie "Turquiose & Caicos" polish

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Being a Good Sport

In life I find it easier (much) to talk about being a good sport then actually putting it in to practice.  I think this is a natural, human issue.  We all desire our hard work and effort to pay off with a big win.  One problem with that... there can only be so many winners.  Second, third, fourth and even last place have to be filled by someone.  Sometimes that someone is us.

At church I help lead a group of kids that just built and raced pine wood derby cars in a five church competition.  Each kid, no matter what their game face said, wanted their master piece to come in first.  Some of our kids placed within the top three in their category, most did not.  I encouraged each kid to congratulate the other, to cheer loudly for their friends, even if they were beat by them.  They are a great group of kids and they all did just that, they encouraged and clapped.  I could tell though, it was a somewhat bitter pill to swallow.

 Does anyone else have this problem?

Even if I understand the news I'm given it's hard to swallow if it's not the news I pre-designed in my head.  (Could I be any more elusive?!)

Times they are a changin' in this household.  (Not to worry, the family structure is not what this post is referring to.)  This is when we put our words of faith in to action - when we hit our knees and truly put our faith in God.  This is when we will need to clap loudly for those holding the trophy and trust that God has our prize, He just is holding it until we are ready.

He is carving us, much like our kids carved their cars.