Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Saturday 7 - it's a long one!

Sorry about the spacing and font issues. I copied and pasted a lot. :-)


1. I made a cute flower craft with the girls this week. 
Picture from tonyastaab.typepad.com 
It was super easy. We got some foam flower shapes from Dollar N' More for $1. Lyla traced the flowers onto scrapbook paper and I cut them out. Then she traced a cup to get the circle and I cut that out. Lucy glued the circle on the flower. I jabbed a hole in the middle and Lyla put the straw through it. Good times. :-)

2. Here's another recipe from plainchicken I made this week:


Picture from plainchicken.com 
Beer Crust Pizza!! In case you haven't noticed, I've been on a major beer bread kick lately. Haha. Last week, I had half a can of beer left as well as a bunch of pizza fixings. I wondered to myself it it was possible to make pizza crust with beer instead of yeast, but Justin drank the beer before I could figure it out. Later that week I came across this recipe on my new favorite blog! It was soooo easy and delicious! I was seriously so proud of myself for making homemade pizza dough. Haha.


Beer Crust Pizza
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp cubed cold butter
1 cup beer

Place pizza stone in oven and preheat to 475°.  [I don't have a pizza stone. Just used a pizza pan. Didn't preheat it.]

Pulse the flour and salt together in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse in the cold butter until it's well distributed. Add the beer and pulse until smooth.

Roll out dough onto a piece of parchment paper. [I don't have parchment paper. Just floured my counter and rolled it out like that.]   Prick dough with fork and add sauce, cheese and toppings.  Transfer pizza to hot pizza stone. Bake at 475° for 12-15 minutes, until cheese is bubbly.

3. I got a 30% off coupon to Kohl's this week, so I headed down there [alone!] one day and scored a bunch of birthday presents for Lucy! She's going to be so excited about all the Dora and Elmo stuff she's getting. Haha. However, I still have my eye on a few big ticket items that I'm looking for at garage sales and craigslist. I thought I'd put the word out here in case anyone sees them or has something similar they're looking to get rid of!


A play house:


I don't care if it's this one specifically. This is just the first picture I could find.


A Dora bike:


I saw one of these for sale on Craigslist in my town for $5 and I was too late! I want it so badly!


A slide:
Again, I don't care which one. She just loves slides so much. I never realized how expensive one of these little plastic slides is!

4. Lucy has been picking up new words like crazy this week. (Libby, Niki, what?, help, raining, running, neck, etc.) There are a couple more notable ones, though. She has figured out saying "Play" with a sad face will inevitably pull me away from whatever I'm doing to go play kitchen with her. Haha. I feel like such a worthless mother if I'm doing something and she's tugging on me begging me to play. She has me so figured out. It's worth it, though, because she has finally started saying, "love you!" It is the most precious thing ever. 


5. So my friend Missy has been writing on facebook about how she's started "eating clean." That concept is super foreign to me, but one of her friends linked to a blog that I checked out. There's no way I'm willing to go as radically "clean" as the writer of that blog, but she did have some good looking recipes. And I'm all for substituting healthier ingredients if it's something I already have in my cupboards - or will be able to find at the grocery store for a decent price. All that's to say, I pinned one of her recipes this week and got the most repins ever! (54!) Apparently everyone else thought it looked good too. I still haven't tried it, but since I seem to be on a recipe kick lately, I thought I'd share it here. You can try it and let me know what you think. And feel a little better about yourself for eating "clean." ;-)


Picture from www.thegraciouspantry.com
Clean Eating Peanut Butter Fruit DipIngredients
1/2 cup peanut butter (creamy or chunky depending on your preference)
1/2 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
2 tbsp. honey
1/4 cup non-fat milk
2 tbsp. flax or chia seeds (I used flax)
DirectionsWhisk everything together until you have a smooth, creamy dip. Serve with fruit such as apples or strawberries.NOTE: if your peanut butter is runny, cut back on the milk. You want this to be dip, not peanut butter milk.
6. We finished Radical in Bible Study this week. The last chapter is a challenge to live radically. David Platt gives 5 practical ways to achieve this :
  1. Read through the Bible in a year - I've actually never read through the whole Bible, but I'm not sure I have the discipline to do it in a year.
  2. Pray for the whole world in a year - Platt has a guide on his website (which I don't have time to link to). I was thinking I could pick a country a night and pray for it with Lucy at bedtime. Doable. But are there more than 365 countries in the world? We might have to do more than one country a night.
  3. Give money sacrificially - I kind of feel like we already do this. We tithe despite the fact that we can't pay our bills and sponsor a Compassion International kid. 
  4. Serve outside of your context for 2% of the year - this one is the scariest for me. I like my comfortable little rural existence. I don't want to go overseas. I don't even want to go downtown. But I know that is wrong wrong wrong. And besides 2% works out to 1 week. I can do it.
  5. Get involved in a community of believers - done. Church. Bible study. Small group. 
I'm not usually much of a daredevil, but I've been feeling so convicted lately about how I'm wasting my life and not accomplishing anything for God. I spend the majority of my days sitting at the computer playing Words with Friends or searching Pinterest for recipes. Would it really kill me to take this challenge? I'm thinking about starting another blog (obsessed much?) to chronicle the journey . . . if I decide to embark on it. I haven't totally committed yet.

7. This is so long already, I'm going to end it here. Have a great week everyone!!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New Favorites!

I have a new favorite blog: PlainChicken. If you're my friend on Pinterest, you've noticed all the new recipes I've posted from it lately. I just love that it's real food. There aren't a ton of ridiculous spices or strange vegetables. Just some good normal food!

Anyway, this is a recipe from her site. I actually combined a couple of her recipes for my version. Here's her original recipe. I'll elaborate on my changes at the end.

(Picture from plainchicken.com)

Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
4 ounces linguine, cooked al dente
2 teaspoons cajun seasoning
2 tablespoons butter
1-2 cups heavy whipping cream (or half 1% milk and half whipping cream)
2 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Place chicken and Cajun seasoning in a bowl and toss to coat. In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté chicken in butter or margarine until chicken is tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Reduce heat add green onion, heavy cream, tomatoes, basil, salt, garlic powder, black pepper and heat through. Pour over hot linguine and toss with Parmesan cheese.

I realized while I was making this that I didn't have enough whipping cream. So I made the sauce from this recipe instead. (Also from the plainchicken blog.) And I didn't add the green onion or basil just because we don't like them. 

It was so delicious! It tasted very similar to the cajun chicken alfredo I get at Red Lobster. Oh, and for the record, I was nervous about buying and using Cajun seasoning. I though it'd be super expensive or strong tasting. It was neither! I found a brand that was on sale at Meijer this week for $1.35. And while I used slightly less than 2 tbsp, it had just the right amount of punch - not too spicy. 

Stay tuned for more yummy recipes from my new favorite blog. I made another good one tonight that I'll probably save for the Saturday 7. :-)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Saturday 7

Our Internet is fixed, so I'm actually writing this from the comfort of my own home! Woohoo!

1. Justin ran his first 15k today. It's in Kent City, and the course actually went right by my parents' house, so Lucy and I went to cheer him on. He did so well! He got 2nd place in his age group!


2. Last Friday, Lucy fell off the non-moving treadmill and really hurt something. She's been limping ever since! I took her to the doctor on Monday. She felt her ankles, knees, hips, and everything in between and said nothing's broken or out of place. But yesterday and today she's been limping even worse than before! I can't decide if she's just being a faker or what!

3. My dad came over and tilled me a garden plot on Saturday! I've never been very interested in gardening because it seems kind of overwhelming, but suddenly I have the desire to do it! We'll see how thrilled I am when I have to weed it all the time. It's just a small plot, though. Hopefully I can handle it! Haha.

4. Lucy and I got our first spring colds this week. I had to work late Monday and Tuesday and was absolutely miserable. On Tuesday night, I went to bed at 9:00 and fell right to sleep! That's unheard of for me! We're both feeling much better already, though. Thank goodness!

5. We had another gorgeous week with record breaking temperatures in the 80s. I had to dig out Lucy's summer clothes and search all over the place for the sunscreen! We also gave in and turned on our AC. It got to 80* in our house! That's just too hot for poor Lucy. Hopefully we can make it through the rest of March without using our AC or heat! That'd be great!

6. Lucy absolutely adored being outside so much. One day, we were playing outside when Lola came running from the bushes with something in her mouth. I figured she caught a mouse and wasn't too concerned. I can handle a dead mouse. I was a little more concerned when she dropped a live mole at my feet! It took off running, and I started jumping around screaming, "It's alive!" while poor Lucy looked on in terror. I grabbed her with one arm, chucked her in the house, and followed closely behind her, yelling at Lola to "catch that stupid thing and get it out of here!!" She killed it and left it for dead in the garage. I made Justin clean it up. Haha.

7. Lucy has a couple new words that I absolutely love. She has finally started calling her binky something. She calls it a "bee" - which I love because that's what Libby and my nephews called it. (I only call it a binky, so it's funny that she picked up "bee" on her own like they did.) The problem is she asks for it allll the time now. Getting rid of that thing is going to be terrrrrrrible.

She also started saying, "library" this week! That's my girl!!! :-)

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Saturday 7

1.I'm posting this today because I'm at Niki's with Internet. Our Internet has not been working since last Saturday. *sob* I seriously don't know what to do with myself. I've been wandering around the house aimlessly. :-( Haha. Not really. I actually have been getting a lot accomplished around my house. The worst is at night when Lucy is in bed. It's always my routine to sit down with my TV shows and some puttering around online.  Luke is working on fixing our problem, but it might take a while. Ahhhh!!!!

2. One of our fun activities this week was popsicle stick sorting:

I bought some popsicle sticks at the dollar store to make these prayer sticks.

Lucy loved taking them in and out of the cup. We even did some color sorting. I pulled out a couple purple ones and showed them to her, then said, "Can you find the other purple ones?" She did great finding all the colors! Whew! She's not color blind!

3. On Wednesday this week, Niki and I went to a bone marrow "donor drive." One of the families she babysits for was putting it on for their dad who needs a bone marrow transplant. My friend Missy gave bone marrow a year ago and said it was not a big deal. I've always heard it's super painful. But she assured me it's not, so Niki and I went and swabbed our mouths and got put on the registry! The lady who was running it said she's been on the registry for 15 years and has never been called. But Missy was on it for like 3 months before she was matched with someone. So we'll see!

4. The weather this week was absolutely amazing. I seriously can't even express my joy over how wonderful it's been. We had a very mild winter, but cold is cold no matter how much snow we got (or didn't get). I was getting reeeeeal sick of it. So I've been practically skipping this week when the 70s and 80s rolled in!!! We spent all day outside Wednesday and I actually got a little sunburn on my nose! It's a good thing I'm getting an early start on my tan this year because . . .

5. There's going to be a wedding this summer!! My baby sister, Libby, is getting married!! She got engaged on Thursday and we all went out to dinner at Olive Garden afterward. So exciting!!! We all knew about the impending engagement and have been keeping it a secret for what seems like forever!!! So glad it's out in the open now. Haha. It's really time to get in shape for a bridesmaid dress!

6. We've been having some major car trouble. My van shakes like it's about to blow up every time you drive over about 60 mph. We finally took it in to the shop on Monday. They replaced a tire ($100), and said I need a new ball joint, but didn't have time to replace it before I needed the van back. (Estimate: $215). Ugh. W e honestly can't even pay our bills every month. There is no money for extras!!! And now Justin's car is freaking out too. I can't remember exactly what - something with the oil. God will provide. He always does!

7. Good news: I've been doing so well with giving up Dr Pepper! I had two 32 oz. fountain pops on Saturday and one 32 oz. on Sunday in preparation of giving it up. Hahaha. On Wednesday, I had a little bit left at work, so I poured it into a glass, but it was so flat it wasn't even worth it. So other than the couple sips I took that day, I haven't had any since Sunday! Woohoo! And it hasn't been terribly bad. It was hard ordering water at Olive Garden last night. Restaurant pop is the best.

I honestly miss the fizz more than anything. So I bought some sparkling water. But it doesn't taste too good on its own, so I decided to mix it with Crystal Light. (The Meijer brand is 0 calories!) But it doesn't mix right with fizzy water, so I actually do about 1/3 of regular water, mix it up, then add the fizzy water.  I'm so tricksty. :-) And I bought myself a sweet new cup with a straw. I'll drink pretty much anything with a straw!

Well that's it for this week! Have a good one!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Saturday 7

1. I realized the other day that Lucy will be 2 in 2 months. Holy cow. Where has the time gone?? She has been so cute lately. She's obsessed with being naked. Right now, she's sitting on the floor in a onesie and socks reading to herself. She's really started to read out loud to herself. It's absolute gibberish, but so adorable!

2. I read a great book this week: Choosing to See by MaryBeth Chapman (the wife of Steven Curtis Chapman). It's about how they lost their 5 year old daughter in a terrible accident (their older son hit her with his car :-( ).It was hilarious and heart wrenching and theological and everything in between. I highly recommend it.

3. Last night, I went to see The Vow with Niki, Libby, and Becky. I love Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams, and it's totally my kind of movie. But I was a little bit disappointed. It was a great movie, I just didn't love the end. I realize it's based on a true story, but I wanted the Hollywood ending! Haha.

4. Justin gets up way earlier than Lucy and I do, and he always peeks in on her before he leaves for work. He said one day this week, he went to adjust her blanket and she exclaimed "Elbow!" (Elmo) She was totally asleep, never budged, didn't sit up when she saw him. She was just dreaming about the love of her life! Haha.

5. Big news: Starting next week, I am giving up Dr. Pepper. :-( I have seriously been packing on the pounds lately. I weigh more than I ever have (non-pregnant), and I really need to lose some weight before I get pregnant again. And I'm pretty sure I consume upwards of 1,000 calories of Dr Pepper a day. So it's time to bid it adieu. I'll still drink my half-caff coffee every morning to avoid the heinous caffeine withdrawal headaches. I'm just really going to miss the taste. :-(

6. I have to brag about my husband for a minute now. He has been helping out around the house so much lately. On his day off this week, he did all the laundry, dishes, and vacuuming. Plus he's been helping with dinner most nights. I'm a lucky girl!

7. I've been trying a lot of new recipes lately, and most of them have been big fat fails, but this week we found a winner! It's called Crispy Southwest Chicken wraps. I found the recipe through pinterest, but it's on this blog. It appealed to me, because it looked similar to the queso burrito I get at Qdoba. It didn't really taste the same, but it was still delicious! Here's the recipe:


Crispy Southwest Chicken Wraps
INGREDIENTS:
1 cup cooked rice, warm or at room temperature
1 cup cooked, shredded chicken
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 green onion, finely sliced (white and green parts)
1/2 red or green pepper, diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
juice of 1 lime
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
2 cups shredded cheese (I used monterey jack)
Sour cream (optional)
6 burrito-sized flour tortillas
DIRECTIONS:
Mix rice together with chili powder, cumin and garlic salt. Add remaining ingredients except for cheese and sour cream. Sprinkle cheese over tortillas, leaving 1/2-inch border around edges, then arrange chicken and rice mixture down the center of each tortilla. (Optional: on some of the wraps, I dotted the cheese with about 1-2 tablespoons of reduced fat sour cream before arranging chicken and rice mixture down the center – it made the wraps delightfully creamy.) Roll stuffed tortillas, leaving edges open. Spray the tortillas all over with cooking spray.
Heat a large non-stick skillet (or griddle) over medium heat for 1 minute. Arrange 2 wraps, seam-side down, in pan and cook until golden brown and crisp, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining wraps. Serve.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Trust in an Age of Arrogance

This is the book Pastor Chris recommended to me when I told him I'm having a hard time balancing grace with works. It was a very difficult read. The author (C. FitzSimons Allison) is a Catholic bishop, so there were a lot of references to Roman Catholic liturgy that meant very little to me. That said, there was also a lot of valuable knowledge. 

The premise of this book is based entirely on Jesus’ admonition to his disciples in Matthew 16:6, “Take heed. Beware the yeast of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” Allison actually writes 10 chapters on this one verse. I've never understood what on earth the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees was before, but now I get it. 

I'll sum up their beliefs really quickly. The Sadducees didn't believe in the resurrection. In today's day and age, Allison interprets the yeast of the Sadducees as humanism and secularism - the world is all there is. The Pharisees believed in God, but attempted to earn their salvation through works. I tend to identify more with the Pharisees, so that's the part I really focused on in the book. 

One part of the book that was so amazing to me was Allison's assessment of the Sermon on the Mount. I read that particular passage of the Bible almost exactly a year ago. It ends with this verse: "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48)

And I wrote in my journal, “Is Jesus demanding the impossible? Or laying the foundation to show us how impossible it is to be righteous on our own and illustrate our need for him?”

Allison wrote, “The Sermon on the Mount is a deeper unfolding of the law of Moses. It leaves no hope that human goodness can replace . . . the costly betrayal, rejection, passion, suffering, death, and resurrection of God’s action in Jesus Christ” (74).

After reading Allison’s thoughts, I do think the Sermon on the Mount is so unattainable on purpose – to show the flaw of Pharisaical yeast: we can not achieve perfection or holiness on our own. The sermon was meant to show us how wretched we are and send us to the cross on our knees in desperate need of forgiveness and mercy. That’s why Jesus’ following words about his yoke being light make sense. We’re not supposed to assume the heavy yoke of attaining perfection. We’re supposed to let him do it for us and take our burden. 

And I think this applies to life after salvation too. I've always said that I know I need Jesus to save my soul. I cannot save myself. But for some reason, I feel like I have to work to keep my salvation. That is the yeast of the Pharisees. In the same way that I can't attain a right standing with God before salvation, I'm equally as incapable of being good enough to keep it after he's saved my soul. 

The good news is that no part of my salvation depends on my goodness. Look at this quote from the Westminster Confession: “The principal acts of saving faith are accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace” (117).

 It is on Christ alone that we are both justified and sanctified. Justified meaning made right with God (salvation) and sanctified meaning made holy before God. I've been made right with God once and for all and I’ve been made holy before God once and for all – despite the sins I commit after my justification/sanctification. The only reason for any of those things is “by virtue of the covenant of grace.” My works have absolutely nothing to do with it – either before or after salvation. Allison says, “We contribute nothing to our salvation except ‘the sin from which we need to be redeemed’” (123). 

The hard part for me is that I feel like there should be change after salvation. I can't just get saved and say "Woohoo! I'm in no matter what I do. I'm going to go have some fun!" Allison addresses this by pointing to a changed heart as evidence of salvation: “With God’s forgiveness and love, and our repentance (a change of heart), our wrongful desires are gradually replaced, our wills are changed as expressions of a changed heart, and we begin to desire what God desires for us” (128).
 I love that he wrote our wrongful desires are gradually replaced. I feel like I've prayed the prayer, I've accepted God’s gift of salvation and grace, why do I still keep sinning? Why don’t I desire what he desires? I’m learning that it’s a gradual process. And it will never be completed on earth. But as I grow closer to him, I’ll have more of a desire to do what he wills. 

I do have more questions, and I'll probably write another post on them sometime soon, but this book did clear up a lot of things for me. I feel like I'm getting closer to the answers. And I'm just going to keep searching until I find them. :-)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Saturday 7

1. I only had to work 2 days this week. I had big plans to clean and organize my house on my days off. But then the opportunity arose to hang out with friends instead! :-) We spent Wednesday afternoon at Becky's house, and all day Thursday with Kelly and Presley. So much fun! And it just reiterates the need to have a second baby. Lucy played so nicely with her friends. She needs a playmate!

2. Speaking of second baby . . . I had my follow up appt with my doctor this week. It was actually really stupid. I drove allll the way down to Grandville expecting a physical, and all we did was chat! I wanted to say, "Do you realize how far of a drive this is for me? Couldn't we just have done this over the phone?" Haha. I left the office singing that country song, "Did I shave my legs for this?" Anyway, it was a good chat. She said nothing concerning showed up in the testing and there's no reason to think I'll miscarry again. But just to be safe, next time I'm pregnant she'll monitor my levels from the beginning and get me in for an early ultrasound! So happy about that.

3. Lucy learned too many new words this week to remember. She's really on a roll. One funny new quirk though is her meanness toward Lola. Haha. No matter what Lola does, Lucy shouts "No!" at her. It's hilarious. Poor, abused kitty.

4. So I got the idea in my head this week that I was going to make beer bread. I found a recipe on pinterest and wanted to try it. Of course the day I tried to buy a single can of beer at the grocery store I lost my license and looked like an idiot. Haha. But when I did finally get some, I made some delicious bread! It was just as good as Tastefully Simple's and about a quarter of the price! Here's the recipe if you want to try it for yourself:

Ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. honey or agave nectar
1 bottle (12 ounces) beer
4 Tbsp. (half stick) butter, melted

Method:Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9″ x 5″ x 3″ inch loaf pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Using a wooden spoon, stir the beer and honey into the dry ingredients until just mixed.  (I recommend popping your honey in the microwave for a few seconds beforehand to make it easier to stir in!)
Pour half the melted butter into the loaf pan. Then spoon the batter into the pan, and pour the rest of the butter on top of the batter.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until top is golden brown and a toothpick/knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Serve immediately.

5. I'm almost done with that book from Pastor Chris (Trust in an Age of Arrogance). Wowza. It is hurting my brain. I honestly don't understand a lot of it, but there are a few chapters that were very eye opening and interesting. I'll probably summarize what I learned in a future post.

6. Last night, Justin played basketball in an alumni vs. varsity game at Algoma (our high school). It was so much fun to watch him play again. And it was fun to see him playing with some of the guys he played with back in the day. It's amazing to think it's been almost 10 years since we graduated. I need to get working on a 10 year reunion!

7. Lucy found the photo album I made of my pregnancy with her. She loves to look at it and say "mama" every time she turns the page and finds another picture of me. Haha. I sat down and looked at it with her the other day, and found myself getting so excited to be pregnant again. You'd think I'd be terrified of ruining my poor body again. (Haha - let's see how many more views we can get of those awful stomach pictures.) But I loved it so much. I can't wait to do it again. :-)
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