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Friday, October 30, 2009

Foodie Friday: Pumpkin Cake Truffles {Flavor of the Month}

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For this round of Flavor of the Month (hosted by Bridget at Bake at 350), our challenge was pumpkin.

Now, it is my understanding that our creation can even just be in the shape of the challenge and not necessarily the “flavor” of it.  Well, I took liberty in that this month since I don’t normally make a lot of pumpkin flavored things.  I made a pumpkin pie once… none of us were all that crazy about it. 

I know, I know… “That’s just crazy talk.”

But it’s true.

So I present to you my pumpkin shaped and decorated, but not necessarily flavored, cake truffles. 

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Now, I think I’ve already made it clear that I did not use a pumpkin flavored cake inside these.  What flavor did I use?  Well, I’m glad you asked.  Inside of each of these beauties is Orange Vanilla Spice Cake held together by a Cinnamon Browned Butter Icing.  Click on the names and it will shoot you over to the recipes on the recipe blog.

I learned a couple of things in the process of making these truffles.  Lesson #1: I learned that I don’t have time to make cake truffles very often.  I just don’t.

Lesson #2: Red candy chips are really powerful, color wise.  You see, there were no orange candy chips on the day I went to Hobby Lobby so I used my mad Kindergarten level science skilz and decided that I should be able to make the color I wanted by using the yellow and the red chips that were available.  So I measured equal amounts of each and melted them.

100_6468 But instead of orange, I ended up with….

100_6469 just a really funky light reddish color.

So, I pulled out my gel icing colors and found my yellow and began to add it in.  The color got better and was just about right when all of the sudden…

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The whole thing just clumped up and solidified on me.  Lesson #3: You can only add so much gel food coloring to melted candy coating stuff before it revolts.  (Lesson #3a: I am seriously considering whether this candy stuff is something I want to put into my body if it has that kind of a chemical reaction to a little food coloring.  I’m just sayin’.)

So I started over and used much less red and finally got the right color.  That whole process was way harder that it had to be.  Lesson #4: Hold out and look for the correct color of candy chips instead of trying to mix your own.

And once I had established a pattern of how to decorate the pumpkins, I discovered another lesson.  Lesson #5: Dipping the cake balls in the melted candy stuff goes a lot better when the bowl is full and the candy is freshly melted & warm.  Once the level gets too low and the candy begins to thicken from cooling off, you get pumpkins that look like they came from Chernobyl.

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So… nuts and bolts.  How did I make them? 

For the cake balls, crumble up your cake and add enough icing so that the crumbled up cake sticks together like a rough dough.  Then for uniform size, use a scoop (like an ice cream scoop) to measure out your cake mixture and roll it in to a ball.  Cover and refrigerate.  (There are also instructions at Bakerella and The Pioneer Woman Cooks.)

Put half of a pretzel stick in the top of each cake ball to act as the stem.  Coat the cake ball in the melted orange candy coating stuff.  While it is still wet, use a toothpick to draw the stripes going down the pumpkin then set aside to harden.  Decorate with butter cream icing using the #67 decorating tip for the leaves and the #1 decorating tip for the stringy things.  See the picture album below.

And for heaven’s sake, let your kids give it a try…

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Letting Sarah get her hands on my Pumpkin Cake Truffles stressed me out immeasurably, but it’s something I must make myself do.  And, she enjoyed it.

Happy Halloween, y’all!

 

Recipes in this post:
Orange Vanilla Spice Cake
Cinnamon Browned Butter Icing

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Linky Dinks

I just wanted to share a few quick links with you all this evening. 

Make sure you go visit the Bloggers Care carnival hosted by Sarah at Real Life.  We blogged this week about Operation Christmas Child and we all want for you to be involved.  Join us.  Visit the carnival here.

My friend Tiffany at But I Had a Tiara posted a wonderful blog about her thoughts on the Michael Jackson movie, This Is It.  Read it here.

Joy of Desserts is hosting her 2nd annual “Need to Knead Bread Round-up” starting on November 1st.  I am planning to participate.  Are you?  See details here.

That’s all folks. 

New Recipes Posted

This week over on my recipe blog, I have posted three (yes, you heard me right – THREE) new recipes.  Hop on over and take a peek at them!

Mole Chicken and Rice

Orange Vanilla Spice Cake

Cinnamon Browned Butter Icing

Y’all have a great day!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Backpack Staging Area {Works for Me Wednesday}

This post might be more appropriately entitled, "This had better work for me or else I may just pull every last hair out of my head!" And if you know me or have seen my thick hair in person, you know that's a lot of hair.

I'm just sayin'.

If you have grade school aged children you know that the whole back pack thing after school can get out of hand really easily and we have battled it with our one grade schooler for the last three school years.

But now, with one that is also in Pre-K and headed full steam toward Kindergarten, I needed a solution to help us keep a handle on the back pack situation because it has been about to drive me crazy.

So this is what we came up with.



It is located in the hallway that leads out to the garage. However, it is tucked into a little cove that leads to the extra bedroom so that it's not all sticking out into the hallway and taking up walking space. But it is easily visible on the walk in form the garage which I hope will prompt them to use it.

They have the hooks for their backpacks and jackets and then the organizer up on top for their folders to go in each day. Hopefully this will also be a place that we can keep important school forms etc. that we need to deal with so that they do not get lost in the disaster known as my kitchen counter tops.



Like I said, this had better work. Because if it doesn't, I'll be having to change my profile picture. And it won't be pretty.

***

This post is part of the Works for me Wednesday carnival over at We Are That Family.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Operation Christmas Child

Our family has been involved with Operation Christmas Child through our church for several years.

If you don’t know much about it, OCC is a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse.  They encourage families to pack shoeboxes full of small gifts for children, collect said shoeboxes and distribute them all over the world along with written materials in each child’s own language that shares the gospel of Jesus Christ.

What better way can we show the love of Christ at Christmas time?

The thing that amazes me is that all a shoebox takes is a quick trip to the dollar store and you will make some child’s day or year.  We have no idea how children have been blessed by what they receive in their shoebox.  But God does.

This year’s experience has been especially meaningful to me personally.  Being where we are in the midst of very little and at times, uncertain income I had to come to a place where I realized that we still have so much more than so many people the world over.  It has been a good exercise in thankfulness for me to sit back and say, “Yes, we can spend the $30 to send 4 children the message of Christ this year at Christmas.”

I believe $30 is a small price to pay.

And, as with any charitable opportunity, it is a wonderful life lesson for my own children.  It gives me a platform in order to teach them how fortunate we are and to think of and give to others.  Sarah is well familiar with OCC.  She even remembers the year we packed boxes with her Kindergarten class (3 years ago).  It was a precious moment when, as a class of 5 year olds, we gathered around and prayed for the children who would receive the boxes we had packed.  Nathan is just beginning to learn these things at 4 years old and we talked about how we could pray for the children and he wrote his name to sign a note in each box.

So, you think you might want to participate in sending the Love of Jesus around the world?  Operation Christmas Child makes it easy. 

If you don’t have a shoebox, they’ve got ‘em.

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If you don’t know what to pack, they have suggestions.

We like to pack:

Colored pencils & pencil sharpeners

Paper or note pads

“Happy Meal” toys

Small stuffed animals

Small “Matchbox” or “Hot wheels” cars

Toothbrush and toothpaste

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National collection week is November 16-23, 2009.  If your church is actively involved, or you do not attend a church, you can look up a local collection site here and enter your zip code.

You can even follow Operation Christmas Child on Twitter at @occ_shoeboxes to get daily updates on how to pray.

So go get busy gathering your shoeboxes and gifts for these precious young children around the world.  And may you find the blessing in being a blessing to the least of these.

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Visit Real Life to see other posts about how Bloggers Care about Operation Christmas Child.

A Slug of a Bug {Mama Braggin’ Monday}

As much as I want to be the one to talk to and teach my kids everything they need to know to have success in this world, there’s no way it is going to happen. That’s why we send them to school; because A) I am not gifted in teaching school-type subjects, and 2) there are certain real-life experiences that they will have in school that I can’t give them. There is a lot of non-book learning that goes on at school and I am thankful for a Christian school that provides a safe and Christ-centered environment for some of that learning to take place.

But really, I just got way deeper in that paragraph than what I’m really thinking of today.

Like I said, I want to be the one to teach my kids things, but I can’t do it all.

Enter the summer teen-aged babysitter.

The last two summers we have been blessed to have teens from our church come and babysit the kids during the summer months. If you babysat as a teenager, you know how young kids just love their teens; and my kids are no exception. They loved Miss K last summer and Miss S this past summer.

I mean, what’s not to love. They go to the pool, play Mario Kart, go to the local ice cream shop… it’s all fun. And at some point, in all the fun this past summer, Miss S taught Sarah about the game of “Slug Bug.”

Yeah. Do you remember that from your younger days? Apparently the kids… they still play it.

But Sarah, I think since she didn’t want to actually hit anyone (for fear of the wrath of mama), changed the rules a little bit. She sat down and assigned point values to each of the colors and on our trip to Destin(LINK) this summer, it became a competitive game to see who got the most points.

For a long time it seemed as though she was just making up the points as she went along. We weren’t sure that she wasn’t just pulling numbers out of thin air each time you called, “Slug Bug Green!”

But she assured us that she simply had the point values memorized. So, we took her at her word.

It all just seemed too arbitrary, though.

Until the other day.

Nathan initially did not really get what a Slug Bug is. He would yell, “Slug Bug” at a truck, a Corvette, or even sometimes he would yell, “Slug Bug Motorcycle!”

Yeah.

He recently has been demonstrating a greater understanding of what constitutes a Slug Bug. As we were headed home from piano lessons the other day, he yelled, “Slug Bug Red!” And you know what… it was actually a VW Beetle and it was actually red. I was so proud.

We actually saw several right in a row and Sarah was going back over the points that everyone got as I still marveled and thought to myself, “She’s just making stuff up about the point values.”

Until at one point she simply and matter-of-factly explained to Nathan that “The points are the order of the rainbow.” “WHAT?” I asked, “You mean there is an order to the points for the colors?” “Of course,” she responded, “Red is 1, orange is 2, then yellow, green, blue, and purple. After that is brown, black and white.”

Of course. What other explanation could there be?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Coincidence? Um, no.

Many times God speaks to us in themes.  Have you noticed that?  It’s like He gets on one particular topic and it is everywhere I go for a period of time. 

So is it any coincidence that the one teaching segment that I was able to attend this weekend during Beth Moore’s Life Today taping of Wednesdays with Beth was about chasing God? 

I think not.

This time, our focal passage was out of Philippians 4:1-14 and focusing on verses 12-14.  And if you know me, you might know that Philippians 4:10-11 changed my life and helped pull me out of a pit of self-pity a couple of years ago.

So there has got to be something to the fact that I have been taken back to lessons from my past recently and been introduced to a new concept repeatedly all at the same time. 

Let’s recap for just a moment…

->In Memphis the concept of being on a “Wild God Chase” was introduced in light of God’s first real revelation of himself to Moses in Exodus 34.  Is there any doubt that Moses was completely changed from that point on?

->The current BSF lesson I was studying at the time and the one we went over that following Wednesday was on the miracle of Jesus turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana.  This was also Jesus first real revelation of Himself to his disciples.  They believed (were changed).

->My self discovery and writing about the lesson in Memphis led me back to this blog post where I wrote about asking God to show me his glory and chasing what matters.  Oh how quickly I forget the lessons I’ve learned when I am not truly altered and changed by the truths that are revealed to me.

->And now, at the Life Today taping on Saturday afternoon, all of this comes together as I was reminded of my past declarations to make knowing Jesus more intimately and fully each and every day and that is brought together with the idea of being on a chase after him. 

So I could make this summary statement out of what has been put before me in the last couple of weeks…

I am to chase after God and Jesus and ask Him to show me His glory by seeking to know him more intimately each day and being altered by each revelation that He gives me. 

I’m ready Lord. 

I’m ready.

Or am I?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Wild God Chase

Yes, it took me a solid week to get to where I could write a cohesive post (and by cohesive I mean scattered all over the place) about my trip to Memphis a few weekends ago. 

And then, with my little blog-cation last week, you’re just now finally getting said cohesive post.

I had a wonderful time with my Texas Amigas and travelling partners Melinda and Tiffany.  This is us waiting in line before the mad rush to find a seat on Friday evening.

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I got to meet several people for the first time and just really enjoyed my time to get to hear some of their stories and allow my heart to break for them and rejoice with them.

Oh, and be a little silly with them, too. Because what is a weekend among gal pals without some serious silliness.

The internet has done an awesome thing by bringing groups of ladies together through the common bond of Christ. My prayer for this group is that we take seriously our calling to reflect Christ by our love toward one another through the internet and in person.

I am not going to post tons of pictures of all the neat bloggy friends I got to meet in person because Sophie did such a great job of that in her “Big Bloggy Fun” post on the All Access blog. I am not going to go through the specific points of Beth’s message because Melinda did such a great summary in this post her her blog. And I’m not going to speak specifically about the amazing tangent that Beth took us on as God revealed himself through Revelation chapters 4-5 because Melanie did an excellent post about that (also over at All Access).

However, I would like to share with you the specific message that God gave to me from the weekend as a whole. Rather than the specific points of Mrs. Beth’s message (while they did speak to me as you will see with some quotes I have sprinkled throughout this post) I think the overall theme of the message is what spoke to me the most. Just the idea of being on a “Wild God Chase.”

This title is, of course, a play on words with the well known phrase, “wild goose chase” which refers to pursuing something in folly or vanity. Beth even told us about how she asked for a personal example of going on a wild goose chase and the Lord gave her one just in her attempts to get to Memphis on that Friday. Flight delays, cancellations, no more flights that day all leading to finding a chartered plane, waiting for it, more delays because of the weather… and on and on. I’m sure it did feel like a wild goose chase.

Well, I am realizing this week, after being home and having some time to reflect that I, too, have been on a wild goose chase. Only my chase was not after an airplane, mine has been with respect to some of my relationships. I realized that I have been chasing relationships with some people that I thought were important to have relationships with.

I was wrong.

And being confronted with that square in the face has not been pleasant. I have talked before, even just right before this trip, about my concern over female relationships. And I had my eyes opened to a lot during this weekend and here in this week that has followed.

The people I was seeking friendship with are Christians, so it’s not like I was looking for relationships in ungodly places. However, in this particular circumstance, I experienced a certain amount of rejection in these friendships. And it hurt.

“It’s not just about the weapon or the intention.  It is about how deeply we took it.  We take our wounding deeply, but keep our healing at surface level.” ~Beth Moore 

The Lord really spoke to me on Saturday morning as Beth spoke of how “God teems with compassion” about healing in my circumstance. For the first time, I really took hold of Christ’s comments on the cross, “Forgive them for they do not know what they do.” I related that to myself and began praying that over my situation of hurt. I think the Lord revealed to me that on many levels, these people that had in a sense rejected me did not know what they were doing.

“We can forgive others only as much as our consciousness of God’s forgiveness of us.”  ~Beth Moore

I have also thought a lot about the Lord’s compassion and healing and I originally thought that He was speaking to me about it in solely reference to myself. Some of it definitely was. However, as I have continued on this week, I’m not entirely sure that I am not supposed to be praying for healing and repentance in other people as well so that they can have healthy friendships, too.

“If our area of pain is not dealt with, it becomes an idol and we are controlled by it and bow down to it.” ~ Beth Moore

We were exhorted that we ought to be altered at every self revelation that God gives us. The Apostle John was altered by every revelation that God gave him and that led to him being entrusted with the “The Revelation” found at the end of our Bible.

I believe that God revealed Himself to me in such a real way last weekend. So here I am, saying that I have come away from this Living Proof Live experience altered, changed, never to be the same. And I pray that God will alter my views of friendship.

“God is SO life that He cannot leave anything dead.” ~Beth Moore

This is also making me think of the “Chase What Matters” ad campaigns that I’ve written about before. (I find it interesting that the scripture in the post I just linked to is from Exodus 33, the passage just preceding our core passage from Memphis which was Exodus 34:6-7.)  I am reminded that I need to really be careful to chase what matters and to continually ask God to show me his glory. I think that in this situation I was not really chasing what matters which is fully chasing God, at least in reference to some relationships. 

I feel like recently, I have gone back to high school and that I am trying to sit with the cool kids at the lunch table. I had my eyes opened this week to the fact that I have been seeking relationships that are about being with the in-crowd, even at 36 years of age and in some Christian circles. I don’t want that any more.

“He will allow loneliness and a ‘season of lack’ so that you will know that there is only one who is truly worthy.” ~ Beth Moore

I want to be able to say that I am not chasing relationships with people and that the relationships I do have are nothing other than intentionally Christ centered.  Not about position or prestige or who you know.  About Christ.

Melinda told Tiffany and I in the car on the way back to DFW that she went through a time of telling God, “You are picking my friends.” I think I’m there.

I am chasing God.

I want him to bring me and put into my path the friends He wants me to have. The friends that will not have unrealistic expectations of what I am able to give to the relationship. The friends that will, in turn, will be inclusive and will be healthy for me.

I have tried to take too much control over who my friends are and it occurs to me that being on a Wild God Chase means that He is the prize and any friends He brings me along the way are just “gravy.” As I chase after Him, He will show me the friends that He has for me.

And I know that He will put me in situations that I would never have dreamed of to meet people that I would never have imagined being friends with.

I would never have dreamed that I would come to know some of the women that I did this weekend.  Nor that I would have heard some of the stories that made my heart break for them and rejoice with them as well in the victory that they have encountered and look forward to the victory that they will achieve as they follow Christ.

As I think through this and write about it, I find myself again in a crisis of trust. This is all about trusting God with my friendships.  Trusting that he will bring to me the friendships that I need that will be healthy spiritually, emotionally and physically.

I claim that I am not rejected. I claim that Christ has accepted me and therefore I am acceptable to the Father. I will no longer chase with this blog or in friendships the stuff that doesn’t matter. I will not chase notoriety. I will not chase fame. I will not chase connections or position or any of those things.

I am chasing God.

Period.

End of story.

I am on a Wild God Chase.

As I conclude, I will leave you with my transcription of our commissioning at the end of the morning on Saturday.  I shared this moment with my friend Brandi as we spoke these words over one another. 

My dear sister,

God put you on this planet to go on a Wild God Chase.

In every circumstance, every challenge, every high and every low, God wants to disclose Himself to you.

You never have to wonder if your God is really good.

He abounds with love for you.

He teems with compassion for you.

Let his care for you go deeper than your distress.

As you leave this place, remember that for those with eyes to see every common bush is on fire for God.

Stop doubting and believe.

Now get out there and go live this life.

Because, girlfriend, your God is WORTHY!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Here's to an unplugged week!

This is a very busy week for me at work. Very busy.

So I think I am just going to take a short little bloggy vacation this week to take off any self imposed stress.

I probably won't be around to tweet much either.

Unless, of course, the Aggies actually show up to their game this weekend. At which time you will definitely hear from me.

Most definitely.

Have a good one and I'll see you next week.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Foodie Friday: It's the apple time of year. Or Fall.

Some people really love the changing of the seasons from summer to fall. Honestly, being a Texas girl, I rarely notice much of a difference in the weather until its February and there is ice all over the road.

Whatever.

I have just never been one to ooh and aaah over the turning of summer to fall. Yes the colors on the trees are pretty, IF they actually turn colors and not just a dull shade of brown before dropping to the ground like women's dresses in a James Bond movie.

I'm not one that puts bails of hay and a scarecrow out on her front porch to decorate for the season. This is the extent of my fall decorations that I pulled out the other day.



Yeah. Pathetic, huh.

But one thing I do love about this season is that apples are in season. And my favorites are Honeycrisp.

The name says it all, no?

Honeycrisp.

Amen.

This post could end right there, but it won't because I have a new recipe to share with you. However, since Honeycrisp apples are just so good raw and since Granny Smiths are so good in baked goods, we'll be using Granny Smiths for our recipe. M'Kay?

The thing that I love about baking is that I can take these...



and this...



and throw it together, stick it in the oven, and kind of like Aaron and the Israelites as they waited for Moses and that golden calf just popped out of their fire, out pops this...



Apple Muffins

Ingredients:

2 cups flour
¾ cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 stick butter, cool room temperature
1 cup buttermilk cool room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ - 2 cups coarsely chopped peeled Granny Smith apples
2 teaspoons cinnamon sugar
1 tablespoon butter


Method:

Sprinkle 2 teaspoons cinnamon sugar with coarsely chopped apples and toss to lightly coat. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in small sauté pan over medium high heat. Once the butter is fully melted and bubbling in the middle, add apples and allow them to cook just until they start to sizzle while stirring periodically. This will only take a few minutes (approximately 3 minutes). Once they have cooked down a little (released some of their juice) and look nice and sticky, remove from heat, return to the bowl you used to toss them in the cinnamon sugar and set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl. Work room temperature butter into dry ingredients using fingers until it makes various sized “pebbles”. Form a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add buttermilk and vanilla. Gently begin folding wet and dry ingredients together and gently fold in apple chunks at the same time. Do not over-mix as the dough should remain rather lumpy. Spoon into 12-15 muffin cups and bake at 425 F for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan for at least 5-10 minutes or so before removing to a wire rack to continue cooling.


So hop on over to the recipe blog, whip you up a batch of Apple Muffins, grab you a glass of milk or a cup of coffee and sit down and enjoy one of my favorite times of the year...

The apple time of year.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Guess who comes home today...



If you didn't know, my parents have been on mission in South Asia for nearly two years. This picture was taken just in July of this year when they came back state-side to look for a house.

But today, they arrive back here for good...

Or until the next adventure that the Lord leads them on.

It's good to have y'all home!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

There's a first time for everything

I had never been involved in a car wreck that had to involve the police before.

That is... not before Monday night.

My little man and I were making a Target run while Dad and sister were at their BSF class on Monday evening. We were on our way home at about 8 pm and honestly, everything happened so fast that I'm not entirely sure of what happened at all.

All I know is that all of the sudden, the car in front of me was stopped and I needed to stop as well. And, being just a two lane narrow little road with no shoulder, there was no swerving. The only option was to get on the brakes fast and hard.

Thankfully, my man had just purchased new tires for my car last week. Because they gripped the slightly wet and slick road and my brakes worked great (even though they also need to be replaced). I stopped in time.

However the car behind me did not.

We felt a bump, but it did not feel bad at all. I pulled on up and turned on to the side street just to get out of the way. I didn't realize that it didn't much matter.

I turned and checked on the little man and he was just fine and so was I. I got out and saw what hit me. That car was not just fine.

The people that live in the house on the corner came out because they heard the crash. I asked them to check on the other driver because I couldn't leave my son. Within a minute or so, an SUV pulled up behind me on the side street. It took a minute for me to understand who it was, but it was the person that had been driving the car that hit me. Her husband had been following her and she got in his car and pulled up behind me.

I had texted Mike immediately when it happened but had yet to hear back from him. So I texted him again. Then, when the woman's husband was cursing and dropping the f-bomb all over the place, I texted him again. Then I called him. And texted... and called... you get the idea.

My text history looks something like this:

"Wreck"

"Are you there? We just got rear ended."

"This guy is cursing."

"Can you come?!?!?"

"A little help?"

"HELLOOOOOO!?!?!?"

Just to be clear, the guy was not cursing at me. He was just mad and cursing at the situation as he called the police and the wrecker and looked at their car that was spewing steam everywhere. But still. It made me nervous to be by myself. I'm sure you understand.

Finally the police showed up and I felt much better. At first it was just one squad car and he needed to direct traffic because her car was not moving without a wrecker. Finally another officer showed up which allowed the other one to come over and begin writing the report as we continued to wait for the tow truck. Which, by the way, was totally exciting to my little man.

The guy had calmed down quite a bit and we began looking over my car. By just looking at it, it was not immediately obvious that I had been in a wreck. The only visible damage was that the bumper (a big black piece of plastic) was cracked. From the looks of her car, which had gone up underneath mine, my car should have looked much worse.

And of course, since I did have a 4 year old little boy with me, he realized all of the sudden, in the middle of talking with the police, that he needed to go to the bathroom, "REALLY BAD!" So, we went and knocked on the door of the corner house where the people had come from to check on things when it all first happened. Those sweet people let us come in and use their bathroom.

I love Texas hospitality.

Finally, as we were finishing up about an hour later, Mike called and was on his way from Bible study. Apparently the vibrate feature of his phone is not working and he never knew I was trying to get in touch with him. As I was on the phone with him I realized that our two police cars had turned into about five. Apparently not much was going on in our city that night.

He arrived and shortly thereafter we realized that this other couple's night was just getting worse.

The wife, who was driving the car that hit us, had outstanding warrants for unpaid tickets and was all of the sudden being hand-cuffed and seated in the squad car.

Ouch.

We were just about to get ready to leave when the tow truck finally arrived so we had to stay and watch that. It was what Nathan had been looking forward to and asking about constantly this whole time. We couldn't miss it.


We were really hoping that, for the other couple's sake, the damage was little enough that we could avoid messing with insurance. However, upon further inspection in the daylight today, Mike discovered enough damage that we're going to have to take it somewhere. In fact, he was up under the car looking around for a while when he finally realized that my spare tire was gone. Completely missing.

We still have no idea where it ended up.

So I experienced several firsts on Monday night. I was in a wreck with one of my children in the car. I was in a wreck that was bad enough to warrant police involvement. I was in a wreck that was bad enough that one of the cars was not leaving the scene under its own power. And I had someone cuffed and arrested right in front of me.

You would think that with a father that worked in law enforcement all of his career that I would have experienced that last one before. But, no.

And there definitely is a first time for everything.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Of boys and fire breathing animals {Mama Braggin' Monday}

I am reminded periodically by circumstances and conversations that I have, in fact, a little boy. And that he is 100%, grade A, B-O-Y.

Which I do believe is something to be bragged about. Because, you see, I originally wanted another girl.

There. I said it.

But now I realize what I would be missing if I just had two girls and no boy to bring his own perspective to the family. In fact, I feel bad in a way for my friends who only have all girls or all boys. I know God has blessed them with that for one reason or the other, but I LOVE that I get to experience both genders as a mother. And this story is just one reason I love my 100% boy.

The kids had an early release day from school one Friday after a fundraiser Fun Run that the grammar school kids did. So, we thought a nice relaxing trip to the zoo was in order. Everyone else in public school would still be in school so it shouldn't be crowded. And, it was one of those rare August days when it is below 105 F.

The day did not fail us. It was gorgeous. Mike took the kids right after lunch and then I joined them at about 4 pm after I left work. After I got there, we went to see the elephants, giraffes and the hippopotamus.

We got us a show, too. While we were standing there, some of the elephant keepers came out and began giving each of the elephants a shower. One by one, the elephants would lie down and get sprayed for a while. Then they'd stand up, turn around, lift up each of their legs... it looked as though they were thoroughly enjoying themselves.

And then the hippopotamus, who is usually just sedentary at the bottom of the pool was swimming around and one of them shot up out of the water and splashed around a bit. Definitely something you don't see every day.

So then, as we were leaving the hippopotamus and giraffe behind, this conversation occurred between my son and I:


Me: "What do you want to go see next?"

Son: "The rhinoceros!"

Me: "What does a rhinoceros look like? Describe him to me."

Son: "He's big and he has horns and..."

Me: "Where are his horns? On his back?"

Son: "No. On his nose. And he shoots fire out of them."

Me: "Um, I don't think that's accurate. I don't think they shoot fire out of them."

Son: "Yes they do."

(A little while later while looking at the rhinoceros....)

Son: "Dad, does the rhinoceros shoot fire out of its horn?"

(Since apparently mom's word wasn't good enough for him.)

Dad: "No. No, I believe the rhinoceros does NOT shoot fire out of it's horn. As cool as that would be, there is no fire coming out of that animal."

Me: "I told ya!!"

(Yeah, I'm real mature.)

I can't imagine that many girls would come up with a rhinoceros shooting fire out of his horns. Maybe some would, but that's just not a conversation I remember ever having with my daughter. And I LOVE that I get to have these conversations.

So that I can laugh like crazy.

And show my own maturity.

And enjoy my 100% boy.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

It's Tough Being a Woman

This summer, my friend Keal and I went through Beth Moore's Esther Bible study. And when I say that we did it this summer, I mean we goofed around most of the summer and finally started it in late July and then pushed through and got it done before we started BSF in mid-September.

But the important thing is that we did it, right? Right.

I'll tell you. If you are a woman and you haven't done this study yet, you need to find you a group that's doing it and get 'er done. 'Cuz it is GOOO-OOOD!

If you have done this study, you know that in every video session Mrs. Beth reads from what she calls "The RED Book." It is a compilation of the responses that over 400 women gave on the LPM Blog in this post back in July, 2007 to the question, "For you, what are the three toughest things about being a woman?"

Well, I was not blogging nor did I read the LPM blog at the time that this question was asked back in July, 2007. So I didn’t get to answer.

There. I said it. None of the answers that she read were mine.

But being one that never wants to be left out of giving her own opinion, I decided that I’d make you all suffer through let you all enjoy my answers to “What are the three toughest things about being a woman?”

~~~~

1). Living in light of the “superwoman myth / syndrome.” Buying into the idea that we can do/have it all and have it perfectly: a beautiful family, well behaved children, an advancing career, quality time to ourselves and, as a Christian, a vibrant and growing relationship with the Lord.

There is a huge blow to the psyche that feeds feelings of inadequacy and insecurity when you figure out that you are human and that, just like every other human on planet earth, you have only 24 hours in a day and cannot be two (or three or four) places at once.

Choices must be made. We must choose good over bad and best over good; not only for ourselves, but in many cases for our children and for our families in general. And that is a huge responsibility to have placed on us.

2). When age sets in and our body does not respond as quickly as we’d like… except when it is gaining weight. We have an image, partially driven by the media, of what we ought to look like and it is unattainable. And yet, we feel inadequate when we cannot attain that level of thinness and beauty. We are goaded into buying products and services that, we are told, “will make it happen” with little to no effort on our part.

3). Dealing with the expectations that are placed on us by our women-friends. I’m one of those women who was mostly friends with guys during my school years. However, now being married, my best friend is my husband and I do not allow myself to have close friendly relationships with men, even though I find them much easier to get along with. I am baffled by many women-friend things and sometimes have difficulty with how I am supposed to act in a given social situation and wonder why I am so uncomfortable around many large groups of women.

~~~~

I learned so much and the study of this Biblical character who was singled out for God’s purposes for “such a time as this,” spoke so clearly to where I have been in my own life lately.

It was especially encouraging for me to realize that many Biblical figures were called to corporate crisis in the midst of their own personal crises. Esther, for instance, was called to deal with the crisis that was facing her people corporately while seemingly in the midst of a personal marriage crisis since her husband had not called for her or requested her presence in an entire month. And if it happened to those in scripture, then certainly God may call us to serve in times of corporate crisis when we are in the midst of dealing with personal crisis. That was extremely encouraging to me.

You see, I have been called to serve in a way that I never thought would be asked of me. I have been called to serve our corporate church on a team as we search for a new Children’s Pastor. And yet, I have been in a season where the Lord has taken my involvement in so many things away as we have been dealing with our own family’s difficulty in our financial situation while we have not had the full income to which we had become accustomed. I was very conflicted on whether or not to accept this position, but did. And this study encouraged me that God was calling me to serve in dealing with a corporate crisis in the midst of our own personal crisis at home.

There were many other things, principles and truths sprinkled throughout this study that spoke to me and encouraged me in my walk, but this is the one, as simple as it is, that stands out the most.

I also want to add that given the last point listed above, you might find it laughable that I have become friends with several women on the Internet that are all readers of the Living Proof Ministries blog. We are called Siestas. (It’s a story that is explained over on the LPM Blog.) And I am going to meet several of them for the first time when I go to Memphis on Friday for a Living Proof Live event. But, given this last point, you should not be surprised for me to say that I have been dealing with thoughts of insecurity about not fitting in with some of them just like I have never felt that I really fit in with big groups of girls my whole life.

“But trust reverses the detours of adversity into the highways of destiny.” (Beth Moore, Esther) And I trust that it will be an incredible weekend and that God has a special Word just for me that will bring me that much closer to fulfilling my destiny in Him.

I plan to have a ton to tell you next week about the awesome things that God has done through this trip to Memphis.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sightseeing in Beijing

Mike had been told that everything would be shut down all day on both that Friday and Saturday. Can you imagine being in Beijing, China for what is likely the only time you will ever be there in your life and not be able to go see any of the important sites? He was terribly frustrated over it.

He did go see the Olympic Village that we all got to know so well last summer.



As it turned out, Mike and his business partner woke up on Saturday morning and decided to get on the subway and head to the Forbidden City just to see what they could see.

And it was open. They got to spend about 1 ½ hour there with a guide seeing some of the highlights.

Their guide even took them to a room where the nephew of “The Last Emperor” still comes to on Saturdays to do calligraphy. And he met him.

Wow.







While he was there, he also made a trip to the silk market where he picked up a little something for each of us.



Sorry. You don't get to see mine. :)

I was so excited for him that he got to see at least a little bit of the historical part of China.

One thing that he learned from his trip, though, is that even though it was a place that was not really on his list of places he wanted to go, he now wants to go back.

So, China, look out. We might someday be headed your way.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

BBA Challenge #14: French Bread (Baguettes)

I'd like to introduce you to my new best friend. My new commrade. My new baking buddy.



Isn't she just beautiful? I haven't named her yet, so if you have any suggestions for names, please leave them in the comments.

If you're not familiar with who she is, she is a bigger, heftier, more powerful version of the KitchenAid Artisan stand mixer I have had for a long time. She is the Professional 620. I. Love. Her. And I have my birthday to thank for her.

The first chance I got to use her was for my French Bread Baguettes that I made way back over Labor Day weekend.

Mr. Reinhart's formula calls for 3 cups (16 ounces) of what is called pâte fermentée which is a pre-fermented dough. However, I had enough sourdough starter on hand that I had made a little thicker than normal that I was able to use it instead of making a separate pre-ferment.

I mixed all the flour (a mixture of bread flour and all purpose flour this time), salt, yeast and starter with my new baking buddy. She made pretty quick work of mixing and kneading the dough.

Look at the stretch I got from this dough.


I was impressed.

But one of the funnest things to me with the baguettes was shaping them. I had the time as the kids were staying with Nanny that day so I set my camera up on the tripod and took a ton of pictures. I’m going to limit my commentary and just let the pictures do the talking for me this time.


















The one thing I did want to point out was that I do not have a “couche” per se for my loaves to proof in. I have an older flour sack dish towel that I got some dough on a while back and I have used it as a couche ever since. I sprayed it with oil and floured it and it has worked great.


And the finished product?


I was so stinkin’ proud of how these turned out. Just look at those holes. And the texture. And the crust.

I have succeeded at making baguettes. I feel like a real life baker now!


You want to know one of my favorite ways to enjoy this kind of bread?


Here, have a bite.


We changed our normal menu for the week to include a dish that would accommodate the soppin’ up properties of the baguette. I fixed this lamb chop dish that ends up with a nice sauce perfect for soppin’.

Overall Impressions:

This was really not as hard as I thought it would be. The high amount of pre-ferment I think aids in the gluten development and lends a really good sweet flavor to the bread.

Would I make it again? Heck yeah.

Monday, October 5, 2009

What is Jesus' middle name? {Mama Braggin' Monday}

I picked Nathan up from school the other day and he came out with a package of Skittles in hand. The boy loves his Skittles and they were open and being consumed in no time flat.

As we pulled away I suggested that he might want to save some to share with his sister. She has, after all, purchased whole bags of candy for him using the stickers she accumulates with good behavior in class. She is usually so excited to share things like that with him. So using my oh so gentle (NOT) techniques, I was urging him to save some to share with her.

But, no. He was more than willing to save some to share with Biscuit, but his sister? Nope. Not happening.

We went by home so that I could change clothes before picking Sarah up and I remembered that she had stashed a package of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in the refrigerator recently. I pulled those out and explained to him that they were hers and that I was not going to make her share with him since he didn’t share with her.

He understood and off we went to pick her up from school.

She got in the car and I gave her a choice of treats between the Reese’s and some Ritz Bits crackers. Clearly the child is a genius since she chose the Reese’s.

As she opened them, she began to ask Nathan if he wanted one. I kind of interrupted her to tell her that she didn’t have to share and explained what happened earlier with the Skittles.

Can you tell I am the type of person that wants justice?

And you know what that little girl did? She went ahead and asked Nathan if he wanted one. And like a good child o’ mine he said, “Sure.” She handed it over and he thanked her and told her that she was kind.

In a rare moment of lucidness for me, I realized the teaching opportunity that I had at that moment.

“Sarah, you just showed a great amount of grace toward your brother. Nathan, do you realize that Sarah just showed grace to you? You didn’t deserve that Reese’s because you didn’t share with her, and yet she shared with you anyways. Just like we didn’t deserve what Jesus did for us. We didn’t deserve for him to come to earth to dwell among us and die on the cross for our sins. He knew we didn’t deserve it. But he did it anyways. Do y’all know why?”

And Sarah said, “Because he loves us. And I shared because I love Nathan and because he is my brother.”

“And that is grace. God giving us what we don’t deserve just like you giving Nathan that candy when he didn’t really deserve it.”

After a short pause, caused by chocolate and peanut butter consumption I’m sure, Sarah responded again saying, “You know what? His middle name should be Grace. Because he just shows us grace over and over all the time.”

Yes, dear one. And His middle name pretty much IS Grace because HE IS GRACE.

Grace over justice.

Oh the lessons we learn from our children.

~~~

Edited to add:

I linked this up for "Your Life Your Blog" at Real Life.
your life your blog

Friday, October 2, 2009

Foodie Friday: It's all Greek to me

Last Friday, the entire 3rd grade at my daughter's school participated in their own Greek Olympics and Greek Feast to compliment their study of Greek history this year. They did the whole bit.

First was the opening ceremony and a parade around the school yard following a real Olympic Torch that was loaned to us by a parent who had carried it for one of the recent games.



The games were modified, but very similar to what they would have done in Greece. There was javelin (um, can you say "SCARY" with 3rd graders throwing a pointy stick), discus, long jump, and of course, the 'howeverlong' dash.



Yeah, it was hard to do in a toga, I imagine.

But the best part of the morning came after I had to leave to go to work. And that was the Greek Feast. Parents all brought different types of Greek food from pitas to baklava. One thing that I noticed was missing from the list was Greek Celebration Bread (or Artos) which I made a while back for my Bread Baker's Apprentice challenge. So, in typical Donna-style, I added it to the list and decided to make some.



And this is the reaction it brought.



I have added the recipe for Greek Celebration Bread over on my Recipe Blog. Enjoy!

Or I guess I should say...

OPA!