Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day Weekend! What a blessing to live in a country with the freedoms that we enjoy! Thank you seems so small in light of the costly sacrifices of so many.

For us this weekend has been a good mix of working around the house and hanging out with friends. On Friday evening, we modified our normal book club meeting by watching a movie, Emma and catching up. For our movie night, I made Samantha's "Perky Popcorn" recipe, which took me back to our days in Columbia--that seems like a lifetime ago.

On Saturday, my Grandma came to spend some time with us while her air conditioning is out. The kids have absolutely loved having her here and are keeping her busy playing games, coloring, playing dolls, reading and blowing bubbles. I have a sneaking suspicion that Grandma's enjoying herself as well.

Today for our BBQ, I made a simple trifle with a patriotic look. I baked a pan of brownies, and when they cooled, I cut/crumbled them into pieces then topped that layer with whipped cream and cherry pie filling. I repeated the layers adding blueberries to the cherries for the top. Very good and very easy and fed a crowd of nearly twenty!

And now, let summer begin!!

For Sam:
Perky Popcorn

10 cups popcorn
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup M&M candy
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Butter the sides of a large bowl well. Mix popcorn and M&Ms in a large bowl. Butter the sides of a saucepan. Add sugar, honey, and corn syrup. Stir until boiling. Stir in peanut butter and vanilla. When peanut butter is melted, pour over the popcorn mixture and spread to cool.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Spring Things

As school came to an end this year, our oldest finished second grade with a "Red Carpet" party. Each student was acknowledged for his contribution to the class. The girls were given tiaras and the boys had bow ties. Our son promptly utilized his costume to turn himself into a rap star. :O (Joel finds it infinitely amusing that our boy loves Toby Mac as did his mother oh, so many years ago!)

The following week, our little red graduated from preschool. Although I'm not sure that I'm ready for him to move up to kindergarten, he certainly is ready. What a cute little graduate.

This pic of Tinkerbell epitomizes her pixie princess attitude. The other day I told her that she was spoiled rotten to which she replied, "Yes, I am!"

Monday, May 24, 2010

Menu Planning Monday

I love when the farmer's market opens and fresh produce is available--yum! The last couple of Saturdays we've headed out to the local market, buying some of my favorites, including asparagus and strawberries. I've been trying to work these into "normal" meals although I do think there was one night last week when the majority of my dinner was sauteed asparagus ;)

Here's the general plan for this week's menu:

Monday--Chipotle Chicken Taco Salad
Tuesday--Mexican Stuffed Shells
Wednesday--Chicken Alfredo Lasagna
Thursday--Spicy Chicken and Mango Stir fry
Friday--dinner out
Saturday--Chicken Enchiladas

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Menu Planning Monday (Almost)

This week I'm actually getting a head start on planning our weekly menu. Yep, school is definitely out for our oldest. I forget how much time the homeschooling part of our week actually takes until we have a break--yay for summer! We're headed to St. Louis for part of the week, so I have an abbreviated meal plan here--another reason why I have it together a bit earlier than usual.

Monday--Taco Soup
Tuesday--Chicken Alfredo Lasagna
Wednesday--Chicken Pasta Salad
Thursday--out of town
Friday--out of town
Saturday--out of town

Have a great week!!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ballerina Birthday

While we were gone on a family vacation, our little girl turned three!! I can hardly believe that we don't have a baby any longer. When we got home, we had a ballerina birthday bash for a few of Tinkerbell's friends, and as a special treat, a couple of her cousins came to town to celebrate her birthday and Mother's Day. My cousins, Alex and Erica, had a little dance class and the girls enjoyed themselves.

For the treats, I made Black and White Cupcakes--as requested by Tinkerbell herself--and this delicious Strawberry Shortcake Cake from the Pioneer Woman. If you have some fresh strawberries on hand, I highly recommend this recipe!!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Book Review: I Am Hutterite by Mary-Ann Kirkby

In this memoir, Kirkby describes growing up in a reclusive, religious Hutterite community in Canada. She enjoys her childhood and the community around her, until her parents decide to leave their close-knit communal life, causing Kirkby to reevaluate her security and identity in light of a sometimes hostile outside world.

Before reading this book, I knew nothing about the Hutterite community, but Kirkby's detailed descriptions made this communal life come alive. Her journey to embrace her history as an integral part of her identity is representative of the journey we each take in varying degrees--to make sense of our past and to determine how that past will inform our present and future. At times her use of the Hutterite language seems awkward and interrupts the flow of the text, but overall, I found the book enjoyable.

This book was provided by Thomas Nelson, but the opinions are mine.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Book Review: An Army of Ordinary People by Felicity Dale

In this revised and updated version of An Army of Ordinary People, Felicity Dale provides an anthology of stories detailing the lives of average people who adopt the "simple" church model, open their homes for ministry, and witness changes in their communities. Dale documents powerful stories of real people who lead others into relationship with God outside of the "traditional" church setting.

I appreciate the way that Dale expands common notions of ministry, arguing that ministry is the job of laypeople even as they go about the routine of normal life. Our relationship with God should not be confined to a designated schedule of church attendance but instead should impact the relationships we develop with those in our sphere of influence.

I also appreciated how Dale addresses some of the unique challenges of the "house" church paradigm. Although Dale's intent in this book is to encourage the growth of "simple" or "house" churches, she does so without disparaging the "legacy" church model. I'm not ready to abandon the traditional church format, but many of the strategies Dale espouses in this book could be modified to fit within a "legacy" church context, giving her message a broad appeal.

Tyndale House provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for review.