29 September 2007

Project Update


The wall has been successfully painted, although it needs my Mom's touch (the tape job seems to have been done by a non-professional!(me)) We'll be touching up a few spots along the ceiling and edges. But we liked it so much, we decided to paint our front door as well--inside and out!! Woo-Hoo! And the good thing is, we like how it looks! Also, I re-arranged the basement a couple of days ago thinking we were getting our piano this Saturday, but we'll have to put it off for another week. So I can check off at least two from that long list of 13 things!

But we have to add another project to the list: replace kitchen sink hardware. * I was turning off the hot water this morning, and snapped off the handle! (I've been working out--playing a little dodge ball...) Thankfully the hot water just stayed turned off, especially since we had company over for dinner tonight! I had to boil water on the stove and in the microwave to keep up with my dirty dishes. It really made me aware of how much hot water I actually use, and how much (less) I can use if need be.

*And here it is! Voila! It works great, looks great, and I'm happy with it.

27 September 2007

Thirteen Projects I'm Working On

Most of these projects are already partially started (!), and my goal is to complete them by the end of October. (Mom and Dad are coming for a visit then, so they'll be checking my work and/or helping me get these done.) If any of you are willing and able to help--your hands and your advice are welcome! Not in any particular order...

1. Paint Living Room Wall Orange. (WHAT!?!) I guess orange is becoming my new favorite color. (It is the complimentary color to blue, which IS my favorite, so why not?) I'm only planning to paint the wall that divides the living room and dining room, so it will just be a bold splash of color; hopefully not an overpowering one.
2. Scrape off the "frosting" on the walls and ceiling in the bathroom. (This could be a post all its own. I have some pictures, so maybe it will.) The "frosting" of which I speak is joint compound that the previous owner smeared all over the house: living room ceiling (another to add to the list), some of the dining room walls (painted over, thankfully), and every part of the bathroom that isn't tile or molding. It literally looks like white chalky frosting, smeared in ridged circles. ICK!
3. Paint bathroom walls and ceiling (white), and cabinets and molding (dark red/cinnamon).
4. Paint kitchen (yellow).
5. Re-arrange basement. (We're getting a piano this Saturday, so the TV/video "center" needs to be re-located to the basement.)
6. Sew apron for my niece. (Started this back in May!)
7. Write recipe cards for same niece. (ditto.)
8. Send package with completed projects to aforementioned niece.
9. Shampoo carpets. (I'm so thankful I have a shampooer! I always tell girls who are registering for baby stuff to forget the baby swing and the diaper Genie and go for the carpet shampooer and a decent vacuum. Babies will outgrow those other things, but a mother will always use the shampooer and vacuum cleaner!)
10. Shampoo sofa.
12. Dry/can/freeze/pickle/preserve tomatoes (coming out my ears!) and peppers.
13. Re-upholster the hide-a-bed sofa in basement.

Now to get started...

24 September 2007


Crock Pot Ham and Scalloped Potatoes

6-8 Slices of ham
8-10 medium potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 c. grated Cheddar or American cheese
1 (10 oz.) can cream of celery or mushroom soup
Salt and pepper to taste

This recipe comes together easily when you have a food processor. The onions, peeled potatoes, and ham can be sliced, and then the cheese grated. I basically dump it all into a very large bowl to toss as I’m slicing it all up. Salt and pepper the mixture, to help avoid potato discoloration. Dump half of the ham and potato mixture in the crock-pot, and top with half the grated cheese. Repeat with remaining half. Spoon undiluted soup over the top and sprinkle with paprika. (Your crock-pot will be very full, but the potatoes will settle as they cook.) Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours, or on high 4 hours. Ingredients may be increased by half for the 4 1/2 quart size crock-pot. Serve with a nice loaf of pumpernickel bread and green beans and a nice green salad. Enjoy!


By Joy Howard, from Family Fun Magazine February, 2007

1 cup dried chickpeas
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup fresh curly parsley, stems removed, tightly packed
1-teaspoon cumin
1/2-teaspoon coriander
1/2-teaspoon baking soda dissolved in 1/4-cup water
1/2-teaspoon salt
1/2-teaspoon pepper
Pinch of cayenne
Vegetable oil for frying

Rinse the chickpeas, then soak them in a medium-size bowl in several inches of water overnight in the refrigerator. (I’ve found the patties won’t hold together as well if you use canned chickpeas.)
Drain the soaked chickpeas and place them in a food processor. Add all the remaining ingredients and blend, scraping the sides if necessary, until the mixture is creamy, about 1 minute total.
Heat an inch of oil in a large, heavy frying pan to 375ยบ (a spoonful of the mixture should sizzle as soon as it’s immersed). Scoop up a heaping dinner tablespoon of the falafel mixture and gently place it in the heated oil. Place 4 or 5 more spoonfuls in the pan. Fry the patties until they’re thoroughly brown on one side, about 2 to 3 minutes, then flip them to brown the other side.
Drain the patties on a plate covered with a paper towel and sprinkle with additional salt, if desired. Serve with yogurt dipping sauce. Makes 16-20 patties.

Merrilee’s remarks: Common mistake: I usually end up soaking a whole 1-lb.-bag of chickpeas, and then realize the next day that I started with more than 1 cup of dried chickpeas! So I end up tripling all the other ingredients, and they still turn out fine. You end up with a LOT of falafel, though, so be sure to have company over if you’re going to make that much. You can substitute green onions for the small onion if you like, and I tend to be very generous with the spices (heaping spoonfuls). I have also substituted basil for the parsley because that’s all we had, and they turned out fine. (Cilantro may also work, but it’s an acquired taste.) We serve them with tomato and cucumber slices and maybe a piece of lettuce and a dollop of plain yogurt in a pita pocket. If you don’t have a food processor, save up for one, and in the meantime, you could try using the blender. It’s supposed to be the consistency of wet grainy sand before you ball it up, so do batches of it in the blender and then combine by hand in a large bowl, adding the wet ingredients. Use a fork or potato masher to break up the big pieces. I keep the cooked ones warm in the oven so that we can all eat at roughly the same time. If you’re looking for a recipe for falafel using canned chickpeas, I have one as well, and they can be either baked or pan-fried. Enjoy!

These are photos of the last kitchen we had when we lived in an apartment. Although it only measured roughly 6ft by 8ft, I grew to love this kitchen. We bought the cart and the stainless steel shelves from IKEA, and transformed it into a very functional, cozy little corner. Everything was right within reach, and it was very space efficient. (Boy, my hair grows fast! I must have just come home from working out...) I hope that whatever kitchen you cook in, you love it!

20 September 2007

Thirteen Things I Carry in My Big Bag

(For those of you who requested recipes from last week, I'll try to send them either tonight or tomorrow.)

You could say that you can learn a lot about someone by looking inside their purse. Here's what I found in mine just this morning, not including my wallet and checkbook.

1. Sunscreen bottle.
2. My Hairbrush. (Since the only time I have to brush my hair is when we're in the car!)
3. Baby Wipes.
4. Empty Prescription Bottle (2)
5. Coupon Organizer (with a lot of coupons just shoved in, not organized!)
6. One pen, Two pencils.
7. Two Sweet and Sour Sauces for McNuggets.
8. Lip balm.
9. Unopened sample of dental floss.
10 Two mismatched earrings.
11. 3 tampons.
12. My Bible Study Jounral.
13. One cough drop.

And much, much more! It must easily weigh 5 pounds! What fun things do you carry around with you?

19 September 2007

And In Other News: Reckless Driving near Playground Leaves Community on the Alert

What a day! What a day! As if breaking my tooth wasn't enough, my life got even a little more exciting. I'll try to re-create the moment for you.

Since my tooth was broken and I needed to fill a prescription and Enoch was working late at school tonight, I decided that cooking dinner wouldn't do. Plus, tonight was "Story hour" at school, and it started at 6pm. So we all hopped in the van and headed to Target, where I dropped off my prescription, and then came back to the local McDonald's for dinner just before story time started. This is all relevant information because I would otherwise have not driven my car the 2 1/2 blocks to the school; we would have walked. But there we were. Story time was wonderful: we had stories, snacks, glue and glitter, brand new books to bring home--a good time was had by all, even Rosalind. So we carefully loaded up our treasures, and as I was parked on the street beside the school, I simply drove straight ahead and made a series of left turns at the end of the block to make my way home.

I got home, opened the van door, and realized that I'd left my purse/diaper bag at the school! So back to school we drove, and this time I pulled into the school parking lot and parked near the entrance. As I was pulling in, I was distracted by a couple of adults at the park bench near the swings where several children were playing. The woman was leaning on the man in a rather inappropriate manner, and I nearly honked my horn at them. We all got out, I got my bag, we all got back in. I thought for a split second about not bothering with seat belts, since we were only 2 blocks away, but my kids are so well trained, they would probably panic if they didn't have their seat belts on.

As we were leaving, I must have been paying attention to the couple, who were still acting somewhat inappropriately, and I made a left out of the parking lot. Before I reached the end of the block, I noticed my neighbor crossing the street, and I thought she might be looking for her little boy. I slowed down to say hello, and she told me, "You're going the wrong way, you know!" Just about that very moment, my children informed me that they could see red and blue lights flashing behind us, and suddenly I realized that I was going the wrong way down a one-way street, and somehow, a police officer was right there to catch it all!

So I pulled to the side and parked, took off my seatbelt to get my drivers' license, and began breaking a sweat. I apologized to the officer when he asked for my license, and explained to him that normally we walk home from school this direction on this road, and I didn't realize that it was a one-way street until my neighbor just informed me. As we waited for him to return, I could overhear a little girl telling another little girl on the sidewalk, "That's Julien's Mom."

So by Friday, I'm sure the story will be all over school. If those girls don't spread the story, Julien will certainly make a grand attempt at it, I'm certain. The officer asked me one or two more questions, and then told me to, "Just be careful; there's a lot of children walking around here." And I made my way home with my head hanging and my cheeks flushed. For the next hour, the real interrogation took place, as Julien bombarded me with questions about the criminal justice system and traffic violation laws.

It will be a long time before I hear the end of it I think. And I sometimes wonder what that couple on the bench must have thought. A good lesson in humility.

Tooth Troubles

I was planning to do some blogging today, and I had gotten the "laundry train" started (3 loads washed, two dried), when I decided to snack on a few pitted prunes. Being the multi-tasking momma that I am, I had two in my mouth at once, and then accidentally bit down on the pit, breaking my tooth. I hate it when that happens. So my day unfolded in a most unplanned way. I was scheduled to have this tooth worked on this Monday, so we're pushing it forward to tomorrow. (Sigh.) I was listening to a Twila Paris song in my van as I was near the dentist office. She was singing a song based on Romans 8:28, "And we know that all things work together, yes we know that all things work together, for those who are called, for those who Love God, all things work together...for good." So even though this is not what I had planned for today, God knows it from beginning to end, and He is still sovereign.

(I'm posting these photos of Rosalind just because I haven't posted a photo of her in a while.)
I hope your day is going better than you planned!

13 September 2007

Thirteen Favorite Recipes

Whenever the seasons change, I sometimes have to re-adjust my menu planning and grocery shopping, which is sometimes difficult, because I tend to cook based on my feelings and/or the temperature outside rather than based on a strict plan. But I do have a basic repertoire of meals that I always fall back on. Here's a list of some of the most-used recipes in our household, particularly in the cooler seasons, but a couple are year-round favorites. If there are any on the list that you're interested in for yourself, either post a comment here or e-mail me, and I'll do my best to get it to you. I may not be able to post them here, due to copyright issues, but some of these are my own. Happy Thursday!

1. Cranberry Chicken (3-ingredients plus chicken--a favorite for many reasons!)
2. White Beans and Sausage (crock-pot favorite)
3. (My best friend Wendy's) Fish Cakes
4. (My best friend Mishal's) Mushroom Chicken
5. Falafel (I have two different recipes for this one)
6. Chicken Enszchiladas (from an old church cookbook, Ensz is the last name of the person who submitted the recipe)
7. Roasted Squash with Sausage and Apples
8. Green Soup (served over baked potato)
9. Crock Pot Ham and Scalloped Potatoes
10. Red, Gold, Black, and Green Chili
11. Roasted Drumsticks and Red Potatoes
12. Curried Chickpeas and Tofu
13. Chicken Noodle Soup

And I just couldn't keep it out, a bonus recipe: 30-Minute Tuna and Tomato Pasta

07 September 2007

School's In Session

Julien about to sneeze from the bright sunlight

Ready to go already!

Well, it's almost become old hat already, but some of you may be impatiently waiting for the "First Day of School" pictures. I apologize for the lack of diversity. I was more concerned about getting there on time, and dealing with a younger brother who was having some issues of his own, as you'll see in the photo below. So I forgot to bring the camera with us to school so you could see how Julien measures up next to his fellow classmates. It's no surprise that he is most likely the tallest in his class, although there are a few others who are close to his height.

Tristan wants his picture taken, too, but doesn't have shoes on yet.

Today when I was standing around waiting for the bell to ring, while the boys were running around and playing, a woman I've never met before came up to me and said, "Your son is the most polite boy; he's just so polite!" I think she might work at the school as a support staff--maybe a lunch lady or the music teacher--I don't know. I thanked her, but was a little caught off guard because she didn't introduce herself or tell me exactly what he did or said that was so polite, and before I could ask her, she was gone and the moment had passed. But it was one of those moments that makes a parent pleased and proud.

Looking smarter every day.

Lookin' For Lyrics

Tonight Enoch took the boys to the first home football game. I wanted to go, but I'm coming down with an awful cold, so I stayed home with the baby. Instead of resting, I'm taking advantage of the lack of interruptions to do some creative writing and what not. Enoch has been taking a few guitar lessons, and nearly every night after dinner he pulls it out to practice a little. He knows the chord sequence to the Jimmy Buffet classic, Margaritaville, and he wants to write a little ditty for his Latin class. So I'm toying with a few lines, and thought I'd put it out there for anyone else who might have a creative bone in their body. We're looking for lyrics that would tell a story in 3 verses, most likely having to do with not doing their Latin homework and dreading inevitable failure, or something like that. The rhyme-scheme should match the actual song, and lyrics must be appropriate for a teacher to sing to minor students, so no foul play allowed (just a disclaimer). If you have any suggestions for lyrics, post a comment here. Thanks! I'll try to remember to let everyone know what comes of it. If it's really good, maybe Enoch will produce a CD or post it on YouTube or something!

06 September 2007

Thirteen Things I Did before 11am Today

Okay, so call me a sheep if you want. It seems that nearly everyone is doing this "Thursday Thirteen" thing on their blogs, so I'm going to give it a shot. That means I have to try to post something every Thursday, a list of thirteen things. We'll see how it goes. For my first list, I'll keep it simple. Here's Thirteen Things I Did Before 11am Today:

1. Took a Shower. This is the start to a good day indeed!
2. Got dressed, including shoes and socks.. No, it's not overrated, but a necessity to the start of a good day.
3. Put a load of whites in the dryer. (Julien needed a clean white shirt for school. SCHOOL? Whoops! I gotta post that photo! The first week of school is nearly over!)
4. Nursed the baby. This happens a few times a day, but worth listing as an accomplishment. I won't list every diaper, unless she has some massive bowel problem. Thankfully not today. At least not yet.
5. Ate breakfast with the children. This is sometimes like a 3-ring circus, only messier.
6. Read the Bible with the kids. Sometimes also like a circus, but this is the natural end to breakfast. Currently we're reading backwards through the Psalms, and we're at #92.
7. Washed breakfast dishes. It's great to get that done right away, so I'm not staring at crusty bowls and spoons at 4:30 when I'm trying to think about fixing dinner.
8. Brushed teeth and took daily vitamins. I always list these two together because we've made it a habit to do them together.
9. Took out the trash. This week it's Julien's job, but I supervised it, so I'm counting it.
10. Walked Julien to school.
11. Played video games on my new cell phone while laying on the couch with Tristan. (Only because I'm not feeling well today and needed to crash for a few minutes on the couch while Rosalind was napping. Not sure if it's allergies or a sinus infection, but it's not fun!)
12. Played memory with Tristan. He won the first game, but I made up for it by winning the next two, the little smarty pants.
13. Checked e-mail and read a few blogs. Was inspired to make this list! Now it's 11:35! Time to make a "to do" list for the rest of this beautiful day. (Tristan is nagging me to go outside--it will be at the top.)