Tuesday, April 26, 2011

ARR for the Pirates!

My son is a Pirate, I admit it! This is his first year to play baseball, and he's on the Pirates team. We are loving it. What does this have to do with a SWAT armored vehicle? you might ask. That is a very good question!
One of the other players on his team's father is a policeman. Our community has a parade to kick off the baseball season each year. Each team rides in the parade on a float on a car/truck/float of their choice. Well, the police daddy got an armored vehicle for the Pirates (and all their siblings) to ride in. 
Need I even say that they were absolutely thrilled. See that round thing on top--yep, it's a hatch! And there were sirens and a loud speaker (the police daddy was having a great time too!) The dads were all green with envy that they didn't get to ride too!
Seriously, baseball has been a wonderful way for the daddy in this household to connect with his son. The boy is very enthusiastic, and baseball has always been dear to my hubby's heart. It warms my heart to see them loving something so ardently together.
For a foggy parade morning, there's nothing better than a SWAT vehicle!
Photo Story Friday and Mom Start. Also linked with Works for Me Wednesday.  


I have to admit I am at the frustrated stage with meals around here. I really love to be menu based in our meals, but every once in a while you just have to get creative (or experimental) with the stockpiles you have on hand. This was one of those months, and the food has been a little dreary.
1. Last night we had a lentil chicken mush that was incredibly yummy, but looked very, well, brown. I cooked dried lentils for about 30 minutes and drained them saving the broth. Then I mixed in leftover chicken and rice. Carrots, onions, and green peppers could also be added. I thickened the broth with flour and then added it into the mix as well. Like I said, it was yummy and the whole fam ate it, but it was not what I wanted to be serving on a hot spring day!
2. So, I still have a few more "use it or lose it" items. I have some tomatoes that must be used and some ground turkey that I've already thawed that need to be used. And, hurray! there's a can of black beans in the pantry. I'll make my own tortillas and spread them with ground beef cooked with taco seasoning mixed with black beans and tomatoes. I'll top it off with cheese, another tortilla and garnish with sour cream.
3. I have a stockpile of tuna, and this tuna lasagna recipe uses the word "elegant." That is enticing and this is something I've never tried with tuna.
4. I think I might be able to eat this cheesecake (even though I'm lactose intolerant)!! It is made with yogurt, and relatively good for you. I might want to add a layer of chocolate, though. : ) I do so love that chocolate. Maybe just some chocolate sauce poured over the top.
5. We're out of bread but have plenty of flour, so I'm going to take this opportunity to make these homemade bagels. They sound surprisingly easy as long as you remember to start the process the night before. We could have them spread with cream cheese for breakfast and maybe feature them with eggs and bacon for dinner as well.
6. I have most of the ingredients already for this vegetable pasta salad! This will use up frozen veggies and be a much more suitable meal for these warm days!
7. Here's my chocolate cake for the week--gotta have it in there! Chocolate Cobbler is an old favorite.
8. These cinnamon swirl pancakes sound heavenly, and we might just have them for a special breakfast sometime this week. All the ingredients are in my pantry and fridge, and I'll use this pancake recipe to make them (slightly) more healthy.
9. Okay, by this point I am extremely hungry and since the kiddos aren't up yet to eat breakfast, I'll keep typing out meal plans, but you can tell that I'm having to work really hard to focus on dinner!
10. I might just have to try this recipe just because of its name! Hedgehogs. What a wonderful name for meatballs! Do you guys know the personality animals? Some people are hedgehogs (they would rather hide than confront) and some people, ahem including yours truly, are rhinos. We charge into battle and rather enjoy most confrontation.
So there you go. Now I'm completely starving and I'll have to go settle for a bowl of cereal! Have a fun week of cooking, folks!
Linked with Menu Plan Monday and MMMmonday.Linked to Tempt My Tummy TuesdayTuesdays at the TableAnything RelatedDelicious DishesSlightly Indulgent TuesdayTuesday TwisterHearth and Soul HopGraceful Abandon's Blog HopTuesday TastesHandmade Tuesdaysand Tasty Tuesdays over at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and Shades of GreenLinked to Top Ten Tuesdayand Lucky Linky Tuesday What's Cooking WednesdayThis Week's Cravings and It's a Keeper

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Matzah and Happy Easter!

Tears in eyes, following the recipe...
How could anyone not know that this bread is a symbol of The Bread?
The Bread of Life who takes away the sins of the world.
When a recipe uses words like "pierce" and "anointed," how can tears not come to your eyes?

 "Surely he took up our pain
   and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
   stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
   he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
   and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
   each of us has turned to our own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
   the iniquity of us all." Isaiah 53:4-6

Pierced, bruised, anointed Matzah bread

Happy Easter!
He is risen, He is risen indeed!
Linked to Six Word Saturday.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Momma, What is Easter?: An explanation of Easter for the little ones.

Easter: Activities, Easter tree, home made Resurrection Eggs, hymns, and more!

Easter Jelly Bean Prayer: A sweet and colorful way to share the Easter story. This year we put a jelly bean of each color and a copy of this poem in an egg for each of the kids' classmates. They'll be handing them out at their school today.
Easter Garden: Our family's take on Ann Voskamp's beautiful Easter garden

Easter Cookies: Read scripture as you mix, bake, and eat these cookies--each ingredient has meaning, and they are empty (just as the tomb was) when you bite into them!

More on Easter: More Easter crafts and a great recipe for Easter Egg Bread

Linked with Thrilling Thursday, Strut Your Stuff, Cheap Thrills Thursday, Stinkin' Cute, Hookin' Up with HoH, Show Off Your Stuff, and Things I Love Thursday.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Easter Around the House

Remember this homemade Christmas wreath?
And this Jesse tree?
Well, for Easter, they became a Resurrection egg tree
and this beautiful spring wreath!
The wreath was completely free, made from vines found behind our house and ribbon and flowers from my mom's scrap box. The tree is a branch I found in my back yard and hot glued to the wall. (Hot glue peels right off of most paints. Be sure to test a small inconspicuous spot!) 

Photo Story Friday and Mom Start. Also linked with Works for Me Wednesday.  

Fashion Wednesday #12

I've decided that dresses are the new sweat pants around here. They are comfy, easy and have the added bonus of being stylish as well. Oh, and did I mention that you can often find them way on sale? Since they make a whole outfit, when you find one for say, $15 (like I did this one at Gap) then you have a whole very frugal, very put-together look.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Christian Seder Meal

I have been studying many things Jewish in the last few months to prepare a curriculum for our church's Marketplace VBS. We will transform our church into a marketplace from Jesus's time, and our children will learn about the four spring Jewish feasts.
The times that God appointed in Leviticus 23 were not only times for the Jews to look back and remember, they were a clear foretelling of all that Christ would do. Jesus fulfilled the first four feasts in his first coming.
Passover is not only the story of an enslaved people being miraculously freed by their God, it is the story of Jesus spilling his own blood so that death might pass over His people.
And so, celebrating the Passover as Jews do has definitely become something more appealing to me.
This year, many Jews celebrated the actual Passover meal last night, April 18. But the week-long Passover celebration continues until the 25th. Sometime this week, my family will celebrate a Passover meal to look back and to look up. I highly recommend it for your family as well.
The way Jews celebrate Passover now centers on the highly symbolic seder plate. This plate contains bits of food for tasting during the story of the original Passover. Each piece of this plate also looks to what Jesus did in his first coming. Ann Voskamp's Christian celebration of Passover is a great way to celebrate this plate together as a family. Or you could use this Christian Haggadah (Christian Seder Supper Plan) or this one.
When we celebrate the Seder Supper as a family, we will pause to eat after we taste each symbolic food. Here's what we'll be eating:
1. Grape juice or wine--There are traditionally four cups of wine/grape juice that will be used throughout the meal. These are the Cup of Sanctification, the Cup of Deliverance, the Cup of Redemption, and the Cup of Thanksgiving.
2. Romaine Lettuce Salad--After we dip the celery into the salt that symbolizes the Israelites tears, we will pause to eat a salad. The dipping of the vegetable into the salt water could also represent the way that the Israelites dipped the branches into the blood of the lamb to spread it over their doorposts.
3. Matzah bread--Matzah is an unleavened bread that refers to the fact that when the Israelites fled Egypt, they did not have time to let their bread rise. Leaven stands for sin in the Bible, and getting rid of leaven is a big part of the week of Passover. The Matzah bread is a beautiful picture of our Savior, the Bread of Life. He was perfectly sinless. During the Seder meal, the bread is broken, as our Savior was. Matzah bread is traditionally both pierced and striped, as our Savior was before He was crucified. Making Matzah with the kids would be a great way to prepare for the Seder meal both practically and spiritually.
4. Matzah Ball Soup--This would be a good place to pause for the soup made of crushed matzah bread. My mouth is watering just thinking about the combination of the broth and dough!
5. Steamed radishes--After we have tasted the horseradish, which is bitter herbs to symbolize the Israelites bitter enslavement, we will have our steamed radishes. In one of the Christian Haggadahs I linked to above, this is said to also be a reminder that sin can be our bitter enslavement.
6. Haroset is a mixture of apples, raisins, and honey that symbolizes the mortar that the Israelites used to build for the Egyptians. Charoset (HahROset) is a very kid-friendly part of the meal, and this was the whole idea for the seder meal--it is a way to teach our children about the beautiful truths of our faith.
7. Zucchini-stuffed Chicken--During a traditional ceremonial seder, no meat is tasted. A "shank bone" is displayed on the plate to show that a lamb was the central theme of the original Passover. Since there is no temple now, Jews cannot sacrifice a lamb. This bone is spoken of in the meal but not eaten. For a Christian Seder meal, you could display a cross for this bone or use a regular bone. After speaking of the lamb that had to die during the original Passover, the true Lamb of God is a natural subject. Jesus, our Lamb, was crucified for our sins so that we might have eternal life. After this discussion, the chicken can be eaten. (And it gets in my recent infatuation: zucchini!)
8. Deviled Eggs--Hard boiled eggs commemorate the sacrifice of the lamb in the temple. Now they are a symbol of the new life brought by the Lamb.
9. Matzah Rolls--The matzah bread is eaten several times during the meal. If you would like more than the crackerish matzah, you could try these matzah rolls.
10. Chocolate Torte--An unleavened chocolate cake finishes off the meal. (Gotta get that chocolate cake in there, you know?!) Perhaps the dessert could be prefaced with talk of how sweet the Gospel story is--we are saved out of our sin to a sweet relationship with our loving Savior, Jesus, the Passover Lamb.
When we celebrate the Passover meal, we probably won't follow any of the Haggadahs linked to above exactly. We will instead, eat our way through the story of our own redemption. This is exactly how the Seder Supper is supposed to be taken--as an assault on one's senses to help us remember the provision of our Lord!
Linked with Menu Plan Monday and MMMmonday.Linked to Tempt My Tummy TuesdayTuesdays at the TableAnything RelatedDelicious DishesSlightly Indulgent TuesdayTuesday TwisterHearth and Soul HopGraceful Abandon's Blog HopTuesday TastesHandmade Tuesdaysand Tasty Tuesdays over at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and Shades of GreenLinked to Top Ten Tuesdayand Lucky Linky Tuesday What's Cooking WednesdayThis Week's Cravings and It's a Keeper
Also linked to Seasonal Sundays

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Easter Legend of the Dogwood

In Jesus' time, the dogwood grew 
To a stately size and a lovely hue. 
'Twas strong and firm it's branches interwoven 
For the cross of Christ its timbers were chosen. 
Seeing the distress at this use of their wood 
Christ made a promise which still holds good: 
"Never again shall the dogwood grow 
Large enough to be used so. 
Slender and twisted, it shall be 
With blossoms like the cross for all to see. 
As blood stains the petals marked in brown 
The blossom's center wears a thorny crown. 
All who see it will remember Me 
Crucified on a cross from the dogwood tree. 
Cherished and protected, this tree shall be 
A reminder to all of my agony."
author unknown
Whether the legend of the Dogwood is true or not, the dogwood blossoms give us a wonderful way to do what Deuteronomy 6 says: “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up." 
This is but another example of how our God cares about the tiny details of the world. Even the Dogwoods sing His praise by representing His cross in each and every bloom!
So sometime this week, find a dogwood blossom and use it as an illustration to tell your child the story of Christ's death and resurrection.
Linked to Six Word Saturday, Motivate Me Monday, Happy Monday Bloghop and Makes My Monday.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What We're Eating

Things have been so busy around here lately that we have gotten out of our rhythm of having a home cooked dinner together as a family every night. We eat, but sometimes the hubby is home late or I'm too busy to cook so we get pizza--you know how it goes.
This week, though, we should get back on track. Everyone will be home and accounted for around dinner time each evening. Here's what we'll be having:
1. Tonight we'll celebrate with a little bit fancier meal. We'll be having grilled salmon potato soup, rolls, and green beans.
2. Sometime this week, we'll have pasta salad. Easy, yummy, and makes plenty of left overs.
3. Going with the springy theme, add tuna salad in there as well. We like tuna salad however it's served, but maybe this week, I'll put it on bread, top it with cheese, and toast it. I'll serve it with a green salad.
4. Breakfast for dinner is a fave around here. I'll make pancakes (mornings have been so busy lately!) and serve them with a whole pound of bacon. Have I mentioned that the boy (5yo) has been eating us out of house and home lately? For veggies, I'll add some beets to make our pancakes pink. (Check out the pancake link if you're interested in how that works!)
5. Since we're so much on the go, lunch is often homemade kids' meals. I have found that these work great in a plastic pencil box (you know the ones that go on sale for $.30 at the beginning of the school year?). So if you see me before lunch some day hauling around three pencil boxes, you now know why!
6. Whole chicken  (cover with oil and italian seasoning, bake for about 3 hours until juices run clear), biscuits, and broccoli: I'll probably end up making this before #2 above and adding the leftover chicken to the pasta salad. 
7. I've been making a lot of smoothies lately (have you seen the price of strawberries?!). I vary how I make them, of course, and lately have been using frozen bananas, strawberries, yogurt, orange juice, and a little bit of honey. These are the perfect pick-me-up during the day and a pretty great after the kids go to bed snack as well!
8. We love hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill--just add buns, lettuce, tomato, cheese, mustard, ketchup, and mayo and you have a full meal! I'll serve them with deviled eggs and raw veggies.
9. Looking for a new way to serve up your ground meat and pasta? I was, so I found this BBQ Chili Pasta Recipe to try this week.
10. What list would be complete without a chocolate cake? How about a new idea for a fun spring dessert? Cupcake kabobs! You could do pretty much anything with this idea, but this particular one features yummy chocolate cupcakes with frosting kabobbed with strawberries and marshmallows!
Linked with Menu Plan Monday and MMMmonday.Linked to Tempt My Tummy TuesdayTuesdays at the TableAnything RelatedDelicious DishesSlightly Indulgent TuesdayTuesday TwisterHearth and Soul HopGraceful Abandon's Blog HopTuesday TastesHandmade Tuesdaysand Tasty Tuesdays over at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and Shades of GreenLinked to Top Ten Tuesdayand Lucky Linky Tuesday What's Cooking WednesdayThis Week's Cravings and It's a Keeper
Also linked to Seasonal Sundays

Friday, April 8, 2011

Winner of Some Mashed Potatoes

A winner has been chosen!
Carol, thanks for commenting, following and playing along! I'll be emailing you to get your contact info and send your prize pack!!

Slow Down

As I was rushing to a meeting this morning, I heard the still small Voice. And what did He say? "Slow down, Olivia. Slow down." And maybe He wasn't just talking about my speedometer...
Because when I got home and went through emails, what did I find but an email from Screamfree Parenting. These emails (subscribe for free at the top of their home page) are a GREAT (free!) daily reminder of what parenting should really be.
And this is what this morning's email said:
"One of the great illusions of our time is that hurrying will buy us more time."
-John Ortberg, U.S. author

Invariably, when I am in a hurry to check out at the grocery store, something will happen to make my line slower than a your average snail. The cashier changes shifts. The register runs out of receipt paper. The lady in front of me is buying some rare Guatemalan melon the cashier has never seen and he has to send three bag boys to find one with a sticker on it. I used to think I was cursed in the “waiting in line department” since this happened to me at banks and in traffic jams as well. But now I think I was just participating in a natural law.

The law is this: Hurrying actually slows you down. This is true not only with cashiers and bank tellers, but with our kids as well. Ever noticed that when you are hurrying to get out of the house with your children, something always happens that slows the process? It’s almost as if the more you speed up, the slower your kids get. I think that’s because hurrying is a needy thing to do. It is a symptom of impatience and anxiety. It is a form of weakness. And kids can sniff out weakness a mile away.

When you hurry, you aren’t creating more time. You are missing out on the only time that is truly yours – the present. Working yourself and your kids into a frenzy just for a couple of extra minutes isn’t going to really get you anywhere. Plan ahead and give yourself margin – more time than you think you’ll need  - for a task. Then enjoy yourself along the way. That’s tough to do, but practice helps. The next time you’re at the grocery store, give your patience muscle a bit of a workout and choose the longest line. Who knows, maybe the simple act of not hurrying will pay off and your line will outpace the one next to you.
-Jenny Runkel, Director of Content and Co-author of ScreamFree Marriage
Exactly what I needed to hear (of course).

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Monday, April 4, 2011

Top Ten Zucchini Recipes I'm Dying to Try

So this week's obsession is zucchini. Probably because summer is coming and I love vegetable stands and great prices on in season veggies...or maybe just because I found a lot of zucchini recipes this week that are calling my name. Either way, here are ten mouth watering recipes that all center around that famous herbaceous plant.
1. Summer Garden Pasta Zucchini turns pasta into a side dish extraordinaire!
2. Sweet Potato Zucchini Bites Healthy + yummy + sweet = AMAZING!
3. Zucchini Tomato Pie Where has this summer staple been all my life? I'll certainly be "tweaking" this recipe soon--maybe adding some chopped ham?
4.  Zucchini-Olive Couscous This zucchini recipe has the added bonus of being something my family will actually eat without having to be coerced! They will eat anything with green olives!
5. Zucchini, Mushroom, and Ricotta Salad Okay, so the fam wouldn't touch this one, but yum, does it sound good to me!! Maybe I'll have to have a girlfriend over as an excuse to make it. : )
6. Zucchini Grinders Part veggie lasagna, part sandwich and all yummy!
7. Apple Zucchini Squares These are pure genius! And you've gotta go read the first comment in which the blogger's hubby gives them a five star rating. (and I think that's pretty sweet!)
8. Squash and Zucchini Casserole Plain and simple gets my vote every time!
9. Picnic Zucchini Bean Salad Beans=protein, so this one could be a whole meal, don't you think?
10. Chocolate Zucchini Cake What better way to end a list of ten on Of Such is the Kingdom than a chocolate cake?
Linked with Menu Plan Monday and MMMmonday.Linked to Tempt My Tummy TuesdayTuesdays at the TableAnything RelatedDelicious DishesSlightly Indulgent TuesdayTuesday TwisterHearth and Soul HopGraceful Abandon's Blog HopTuesday Tastes, Handmade Tuesdays and Tasty Tuesdays over at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and Shades of GreenLinked to Top Ten Tuesdayand Lucky Linky Tuesday What's Cooking WednesdayThis Week's Cravings and It's a Keeper