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Friday, November 30, 2012

Five Minute Friday ~ Wonder

I wonder, how do all these shoes get under the coffee table when I tell them over and over to put their shoes away.  Oh wait, there's my sandals, but that's just because I only took them off while I'm sitting here.

I wonder, how long it will take for my husband to unpack our suitcases?  I'm not doing it.  Nope!  I'm gonna wait until he does it.  Every day this week the suitcase has appeared on our bed and we root through it for pajamas for the kids and every night it goes back in the closet.  I'm not doing it, not this time!  

Sometimes when I'm driving our truck, I wonder if the bed will just fall off.  I know that's kind a weird but it's really bouncy.  When we go over speed bumps, the entire truck bed bounces with that wah womp sound!

I have one minute left.  I wonder what possesses my husband to come up with strange things like a plastic cup amplifier.  I'm serious, he's showing me this strange contraption while I'm typing.  Gotta love having a hack scientist for a husband.


Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wordless Wednesday ~ Puppy Love

Notes from Relevant 2011

Social Justice in your blog

Of all the talks at Relevant '11, this had the greatest impact on my life and past year.  It's motivated me to think daily about social justice and how I can make a difference through my writing.  Love these people for the difference they are making in the world.  Wish there had been something like this at Allume '12 but at least I got to speak with Kristi Griem who is such an encourager.  

Shawn Groves ~ from Compassion
Kristen Welch ~ Mercy House
Kristi Griem ~ Human Trafficking

Shawn Groves starts the panel discussion by talking about Compassion trips where he takes bloggers to see and write about the difference Compassion is making in the lives of children.

Kristen Welch has been with Mercy House for two years, a non-profit.

Kristi Griem deals with Human Trafficking.

Collectively they have been involved in social justice for five years.

How to communicate on behalf of a cause?  Shawn's advise:
He does not coach bloggers on what to say, it's unfiltered.  Stats don't communicate like stories.  Replace the numbers with stories.  We are made by God to connect with human beings.
Kristi suggest a quarterly summary of your work in social justice so to not give your readers fatigue.

Questions to ask yourself when considering which issue to support?

  • How has God put this cause on your heart?
  • How has it impacted you? 

How do you write to create empathy?  It's ultimately not your job.  It's not within my mental capacity, it's the Holy Spirit that presses on our hearts to do something.  Just show up and tell your story.

West Stafford - current president of Compassion.  He grew up in West Africa and watched his friends die of malaria.  He has compassion for the children in the program.

What was it that caused empathy in me?

Do not make people feel guilty.

Do not ask people to do something you are doing.

Social justice is one step at at time.

Call to Action:
Shawn - Don't be a legalist.  Have as much grace for the rich man as the person who says they can't afford to do more.  If we really believe in God's grace, we can forgive our kids for not eating dinner.  Not everyone has to live as you live.  Not everyone is going to engage.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Random Tuesday

Is there any better way to start a work day then with a perfect cup of coffee?  And let me add this particular cup is brilliantly balanced.  It's from Sur la Table, it's not too big and not too small.  I love this cup!

Happy Random Tuesday!


Monday, November 26, 2012

Perfect Beef Stew - to replace your McCormick packet!

I love a hearty Beef Stew.  Growing up in Maryland, my mom used the McCormick stew packet but I found in recent years that I'd want stew and had forgotten to buy the packet!  Finally one day I set out to make stew without the packet.  I started with a recipe from Pillsbury but I was never satisfied with how my stew would stick to the bottom of the pan!  I determined the sticking problem stemmed from coating the beef with flour in the beginning and thus making the stew too sticky and thick too early on. From that recipe, I've made modifications until arriving at this perfect non-stick-to-the-pan recipe!

This recipe will feed 5 adults and is best served with Garlic Italian Bread or brown bread from Cheesecake factory.

The Meat and Sauce

  • 1lb Stew Meat - cook in a little oil until browned
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 4 T Tomato Paste or sauce
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 Beef Bouillon Cubes
Simmer while working on the onion and celery.

Cut in small slices, three stalks of Celery and saute in olive oil for 5-10 minutes (or one cup if you have it frozen).  Toss into the Beef mixture.

Cook beef and celery for approximately one hour on low heat with a lid on.  

The Roux

  • 1/4 cup of flour - sift if you have time, it helps reduce lumps
  • 1/2 cup of hot water
After your meat mixture has cooked for one hour, remove bay leaves and add the Roux.  I usually have potatoes cooking in a separate container at this point so I'll use some of the hot water from this pot, in theory the potato water has a bit of flavoring.  Mix quickly in a bowl, then add to the meat sauce; it should mix evenly if you stir for a few minutes to keep lumps from starting.  Once it's smooth it will not lump up.  At this point I add an additional 1/2 cup of hot water (usually reserved from the potatoes) into the stew if it looks too thick.  Add more water depending on how thick or thin you like your stew keeping in mind you still have potatoes and carrots to add so you need enough gravy to coat the entire stew.

Potatoes and Carrots

  • 5 medium size potatoes 
  • 5-6 carrots
I like to cook the potatoes in a separate container for 15 minutes to soften them.  It can take up to one hour to cook them in the stew mixture so this cuts down on the overall cooking time AND I've found that cooking potatoes for an hour in the stew contributes to food sticking to the bottom - which I dislike!

Peel potatoes (remove any bad/black spots), then chop them into bite size pieces, dump them into boiling water for 15 minutes, drain and add to stew.

Peel carrots, cut in thin slices so they cook faster.  I boil them in a small pot for about 15 minutes, drain and add to the stew.

I cook the potatoes and carrots in the stew for no more than 10 minutes and the lid must remain off or potatoes will stick to the base of the pan.  It's best to stir frequently.  I only do this step to get everything to blend well and I use this time to set the table, call the family to dinner, etc.

It really is a lovely stew and while it may seem annoying to work through all the steps (rather then dumping everything into one pot), it will result in a tasty stew that does not stick to the bottom of the pan.

This stew recipe is a result of making it at least once a month for the past 12 years; it's a big family favorite and each step has been carefully thought out.  This is really a guide to making good stew; you can feel free to mix it up and use different onions or bigger chunks of veggies.  I have toddlers so cooking in small bite size pieces works well for my family but I know it's popular to make stews with big chunky veggies.  If you do try this please come back and let me know how it worked out for you!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Loving Shutterfly Christmas Cards!

5x7 Folded Card
View the entire collection of cards.

So how DID that flight to Texas go last week?

I lamented on Facebook and to anyone who would listen that I was having a major panic attack about our flight(s) to Texas.  You would think a world traveler like me could have this entire situation wrapped around my little pinky - and I almost did!

I managed to get a dog sitter, thus taking the dog out of the equation (if you reference that previous post, it was looking mighty crowded).

So what went so terribly wrong that day?

My alarm was set for 4:30PM.


Not AM.

HOWEVER, I had spent the entire week waking up progressively earlier in preparation for a 4:30am wake up call so I naturally woke up at 5:30 - yes one hour too late but we all got out the door in 30 minutes flat for a flight that was leaving at 7:40 from the Miami airport.

We did not pack the van the night before like we said we would do, FAIL.

We did not do a trial run to the Miami airport to find exterior parking like we said we would the weekend before, FAIL.

Both of the above would have significantly contributing to cutting down the time from WAKE UP to airport ARRIVAL!  Therefore if you are reading this I highly recommend you follow your instincts; don't ignore them like well traveled people who think they are somehow superior enough to not make mistakes.

What next?

We totally missed the turn for airport parking, got stuck for 30 minutes in a maze of construction roads outside the horrid Miami airport - people - your GPS will not work in a maze that has not been charted for travel!  We really hate you Miami airport for torturing us this way.  We really really hate you!  Seriously, there is no forgiveness for the pain and anguish you caused us that morning.

We finally arrived in the nick of time for me to check in with the baby and leave the entire family standing at the ticket counter to check in for their own later flight while I literally bolted for my flight which was leaving in 30 minutes.

I asked every person in the priority security line if I could butt in front of them and who would say no to a women with a baby strapped to her chest and a wild look in her eyes!  I don't think so.

After security I walked/hiked from gate 23 to gate 48 because the Miami airport train is slow even though I stopped to try and take it, the train didn't show any signs of appearing so I continued to run for my flight.  Baby was silent; it's like she knew a full out wail would send me into total breakdown mode.

I made the flight covered in sweat, panic and in extreme pain from holding a lap top bag, 12lb baby (thank GOD she's small!) and her diaper bag with 5 minutes before doors were shut.  I had planned to use the stroller to casually walk her and the gear + dog - but I had to abandon the stroller with dad when I dashed away.  Could you imagine if I had taken the dog?

The rest of the day was completely successful and followed to our plan without a single hitch.  I'm so happy to write that last sentence!  The end.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Texas Pie Pumpkins

Happy Thanksgiving Y'all!  I'm loving the food in Texas and these pie pumpkins are rocking my world!

This ONE pie pumpkin made two pies, a pumpkin pudding and two loaves of pumpkin bread!  It has super thick walls, easily quadruple the thickness of my Florida pie pumpkins!  I'm loving these Texas pie pumpkins!!!

The Story of Thanksgiving ~ Charlotte's Version

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Notes from Relevant 2011

The Seed Company ~ Speaker Jill Monaco

You can't walk into your destiny until you know your calling.  Read the story of Esther, she was a confident women who was called to be a queen and her destiny was to save her people.

As a blogger, you are an influential woman and you have a destiny.  An example given is Sarah Shust, wife of Aaron Shust who wrote "My hope is in you Lord".  They have a son who had an illness that he almost died from.  They have a platform to say God is good and he will be with you through anything.  I don't know about you reader, but I love hearing the back story of an amazing song.  This couple went through a scary time with their son before reaching their current destiny.

As a blogger, you are an advocate for the desperate.   A desperate world that needs to hear the word of God.  It's been over 2000 years since the body of Christ left this earth.  His mandate was to spread the word.  An estimated 2,078 of the 6,860 languages in the world are still waiting for Bible translations to begin.  The Seed Company has a goal of translating the Bible into every spoken language, one verse at at time.  You can help by sponsoring a verse through their website.

As a blogger, the Kingdom of God is advanced by your testimony.  

Jill Monaco writes a blog titled "A Grace Journey" and she is a One Verse blogger.  

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Random Tuesday ~ Texas

And the random observations of Texas continue.

First up is this giant can of Parmesan in my mother-in-laws fridge!  Everything really IS bigger in Texas!!

I really should have my camera ready at all times.  On a recent outing we saw a pick up truck on a corner with 2 handmade signs.
1.  Resale pecans here (meaning, we will BUY your pecans and resell them).
2.  Get your windshield chips fixed here.

I wonder how many pecans they would need to trade to fix a windshield for free???

That's all I got for this week!  Hope y'all have a great Thanksgiving!!!


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Random Tuesday ~ Texas

Random Tuesday finds the Occasional Boredom clan in Texas for two weeks!  This post is all about the random observations experienced on the six hour drive from Dallas to Odessa.

The Confederate Air Force Museum of Odessa changed the C word to Commemorative.  

Husband has been raving about , we finally pass one and the sign says "have a delicious ham and cheese sandwich", wait, WHAT???  Where's the BEEF?

And finally, we stopped at the Gas and Grub to see what Violette was screaming about and while buying water at the register we noticed they sell ammunition at the counter.  It's funny to us because it's this little town with nothing else open at 7pm on a Saturday night so this is the all purpose store.  How rare and interesting to find a place like this! 


Monday, November 12, 2012

Poorganic Pumpkin Puree

It's that time of year when Halloween is over and we have all these BIG pumpkins sitting around!  I realize most pumpkin puree recipes call for those cute little pie pumpkins but I like a challenge!  And I've really found these to be more of a cost savings then pie pumpkins.

Our Whole Foods pie pumpkin this year is $1.69 per pound, the average pumpkin was 3.5lbs making that pumpkin $5.92.  It would make enough pumpkin for approximately 2 cans of puree (30oz) but that makes it more expensive then two cans of pumpkin!  I knew that wouldn't impress my Poorganic friend Katrina.  No, she needs to see serious savings before she puts her Poorganic stamp on it!

So here's my Poorganic Pumpkin Puree!

Aldi Pumpkin $3.49, and in some places it was as low as $2.49 for a 12lb average size pumpkin!  With a pumpkin of this size, you can make 91.5oz of puree.  That's equal to 6 cans of pumpkin!!  Now my friend is interested.  Check out this easy step by step recipe.

Start by scrubbing your dirty cheap pumpkin with your favorite veggie cleaner, I use a vinegar scrub.

Next cut your pumpkin in half, scrape out all the pulp and seeds (I find a grapefruit spoon works great), place on two separate cookie sheets face down and cook at 350 degrees in oven for one hour.  It should look like this when done.

I let it rest for 30 - 45 minutes because it's steaming hot and to tip a pumpkin of this size over, you almost have to touch the skin and while a pot holder can be handy, it's just better to let it all cool down!  Below is how much juice is left after letting it sit.

 Next I puree in small batches because I have a very small food processor (Christmas present hint!).  

After each batch, I drop the puree into a container where it can drain.

 This is how much liquid drained in the time it took to puree the entire pumpkin (about 1 hour).

 Drain overnight and the amount of juice will double!  It's really important to do this step so your puree is nice and thick, your recipes will thank you.  

And if you're feeling extra thrifty, there are recipes for Pumpkin Juice!  My husband has big plans of this.

Good luck and let me know how your pumpkin puree's turn out!!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Notes from Relevant 2011

Notes - from breakout session at Relevant 2011 

~ Upside Down Blogging & Blogging for Fame ~

1st Speaker:  Courtney Joseph from WomenLivingWell.org
It’s wrong to make a tower to ourselves.  Courtney is struggling with a few book deals and finding if it’s God’s will.  If we are not filling ourselves with God’s word, we will be frazzled.    She wants to walk so intimately with God that she knows his will. 

2nd Speaker:  Amy Lynn Andrews from BloggingWithAmy.com
         Amy started blogging in 2004.  She has the five points to make.
1.       Blogging, if you let it, will mirror your soul.
2.       We need each other.
3.       Blogging is a team sport.  God owns everything and he choose to divide it up the way he does.  Stop looking at what others are doing.
4.       In writing, describe the mundane things so that it’s interesting for the reader.  She referenced a story Ann Voskamp writes about soap bubbles.
5.       Blog to change lives with Christ’s story.

3rd Speaker:  Ann Voskamp from AHolyExperience.com
         Ann started blogging in 2003; seven of those years she was in a dark place.  The reason she came to blogging is to allow God to change her.  She doesn’t have comments or a site reader.  Numbers are like David taking a census.  When you step into the online world you cannot control where it goes, who reads it, etc.  It’s about giving yourself a way to help your sisters. 

         What does it look like to be a transparent mess that’s unfolding?  It’s the tension of telling others involved in your story, find out if they want to be included.  This generation wants people to do this life with them.  The blog is a ministry.  So people get to journey with you.  Being transparent as it’s unfolding is important.


Friday, November 09, 2012

Five Minute Friday

5:30am, I’m up before the kids.  Scrolling through Twitter as I wake myself up I see Alia Joy post the word “Quiet” for 5 minute Friday.  Ah ha!  I love quiet, I say to myself.  It’s quiet right now.  But wait, if you’re really still you can hear a small voice begin the ramp up of “ahhh”.  It starts softly at first.  I quietly tip toe out to get my laptop to write this post.  I can do it in my last 5 minutes of quiet, I say to myself.

As I’m typing the voice gets more insistent.  Ahhheeyah!  Not so quiet anymore.  2 minutes left, she quiets down again.  Little stinker, she’s going to wake the other 2 if I don’t go get her.  Oh wait, they will wake up anyway if I go in there!  Yes, my 3 kids share a room.  The only quiet part of my day is when they are sleeping.  I love this part, the quiet time but I also love their little voices through the baby monitor. 


Five Minute Friday