Saturday, October 22, 2005

A Day of Blessings

Today was a day of blessings. Hubby and I went to a garage sale and bought a nice full-length mirror, an electric ice cream maker, an old Yahtzee game, 8 old Country magazines (for only 5 cents each), a computer book, a hand-painted “Merry Christmas” sign, and a lighted star Christmas tree topper, for a total of fifteen dollars.

Then my parents came into town. They brought my wedding dress all nicely packaged in an acid-free box and my veil and the big, poufy slip I wore under my gown. They also gave us a nice vacuum with all the attachments that they got for free and don’t need. We haven’t had a vacuum the whole time we have been married. We haven’t really needed one, since we have hardwood floors, but we are hoping to eventually move somewhere that is bigger and has carpet.

My mom and I went shopping for a sweater for me while my dad and Hubby looked for computer stuff. I found a pretty lavender cardigan, and Hubby got a great deal on a DSL modem, which we had been thinking about purchasing for a long time.

Then Hubby went home to rest a bit while my parents and I went to a park and had a blast playing Yahtzee. We all came back to our apartment and had taco salad for dinner and pumpkin cheesecake for dessert.

Also, Hubby and I have been married for nine months today.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

I like these cookies because the oatmeal gives them a little more substance than your typical chocolate chip cookie.


1/2 lb. (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 c. oats
1 package (12 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips


Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla. Add combined flour, baking soda, and salt. Add oats and chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoonsful on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 7-10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool for 1 minute on baking sheets before removing to wire cooling rack. Store tightly covered.

A Few Goals

Here are a few things I would like to accomplish in the next year:

1. Learn to play guitar
2. Get prints made of our wedding photos and make our wedding album
3. Finish the afghan I am crocheting
4. Figure out how to work my 1950’s sewing machine and sew something
5. Make a small quilt

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Way to a Man's Heart . . .

This morning I made Hubby an omelette for breakfast. He took a few bites and then said, "I think one of my love languages is breakfast."

I smiled and added, "And lunch and dinner." :-) He agreed.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Splenda--the "Safe" Sugar Substitute?

After reading the article, "Sugar Substitutes and the Danger of Splenda," I have decided to eliminate all sugar substitutes from my diet, including Splenda, which I always thought was safe, because it was supposedly "made from sugar." For me, this means giving up "sugar-free" chewing gum (practically an addiction of mine), no-sugar-added hot cocoa, "light" yogurt, and coffee (I had already switched to decaf, but I can't drink it without flavoring/sweetening, and I'd rather be done with it altogether).

I've been learning lately that food is good insofar as it nourishes my body, but not as a friend or comforter or entertainer. Only the Lord, not food, can meet all my needs and fulfill my desires. I am trying to be much more intentional about what I eat, instead of mindlessly munching whatever I think will satisfy me at that moment. Today I packed a salad--made with lettuce, bell pepper, carrot, and tomato, and topped with nonfat cottage cheese, sunflower seeds, basil, and raisins--to take to work for lunch, and it was delicious! Yes, it took a little extra effort, but my body feels so much better already than when I used to just compile a lunch out of whatever was convenient. I am also drinking more water and not "snitching" as I prepare meals.

A huge praise is that, if the Lord wills, we should be able to pay off the last of my student loan within a week! After that, Hubby and I will be completely debt-free. Yes, we currently live in a tiny 4-room apartment (kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, living room), and no, we don't yet have a car, but it is such a joy to owe no one anything, except love (Romans 13:8).

Friday, September 16, 2005

Chocolate Fudge-Mint Cheesecake

Tonight I made a Chocolate Fudge-Mint Cheesecake for Hubby's birthday tomorrow.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Flowers from God

A few days ago, Hubby and I were invited over to our friends' house for dinner. They served us some yummy enchiladas, we chatted for a while, and then they asked if we wanted to watch a movie. We all found a place to sit in the living room and the husband started shuffling around on the video shelves, pulling out first one DVD, and then another, until finally he selected one, looked at it for a moment, handed it to me, and said, "How 'bout this one? Happy birthday."

I'm sure my mouth dropped open in surprise when I saw the picture of Hubby and me on the cover. I had known that this friend had been working on a DVD of our wedding for us since we got married in January, but I hadn't heard that it was completed. I guess it's a good thing I'm so naive, since it makes it so easy for others to surprise me, and I like surprises (good ones, at least!). It was fun to relive our ceremony (I got to see parts of it I had never seen, since I was hidden away during the candlelighting and processional) and reception.

Another blessing that evening was the pretty flower arrangement that our friends sent home with us. They needed to get it out of their house, since it was causing one of their daughters to break out in hives. Earlier that day, I had noticed a beautiful flower arrangement on the dining room table of the family I nanny for, and thought to myself, "Oh, it would be so wonderful to have some flowers like that in our house," knowing that neither my husband nor I would spend $10-20 or more for a bouquet of flowers that would fade and wither in just a few days. It wasn't even really a prayer--it was just a passing thought--but I guess God, in His lovingkindness, heard me anyway and gave me some flowers. Thank you, Lord.

Monday, August 29, 2005

This is the Way We Brush Our Teeth . . .

This morning, the 2-year-old girl I take care of surprised me by repeating a "game" that we accidentally invented last Friday. When I handed her her toothbrush on that day, she absentmindedly put the handle end in her mouth. I grinned at her, shook my head, and said, "Nooooooooooo." She looked at me quizzically for a moment, then realized that something didn't quite feel right, so she turned the toothbrush around and put the bristle end in her mouth. I nodded my head in an exaggerated manner and said, "Yeeeeeeeeeees." Then, with a twinkle in her eye, she turned the toothbrush around again the wrong way, which of course brought a head-shaking "Noooooooooooo" from me. By this time, we were both giggling, and we kept it up for several minutes before getting down to business and really brushing her teeth. Well, this morning, when I handed her her toothbrush, the twinkle in her eye was back, and into her mouth went the wrong end of the toothbrush. :-)

Here is the recipe for the 13-Bean Soup we enjoyed tonight:

13-Bean Soup

2 cups dried 13-bean mix (I found it in the bulk section of our grocery store)
7 cups water
1 ham bone with some meat attached
1 28-ounce can whole, peeled tomatoes
juice of 1 lemon or equivalent bottled lemon juice
garlic powder, salt, and black pepper to taste

Soak beans in water overnight. Gently boil beans for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Put beans (and water), ham bone, tomatoes (pierce to allow juices to escape), lemon juice, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in crock-pot on low for 8-10 hours, stirring every few hours.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Bringing Our Food from Afar

Yesterday I asked Hubby, "What's one thing I could do that would be a blessing to you?" After a moment's reflection, he replied, "Do more dishes." Hmm . . . maybe not quite the response I expected, but certainly a reasonable request. Since I work all day as a nanny and do mountains of dishes at someone else's house :-), I had been getting a bit lax about doing dishes at home.

My goal is to not let dishes pile up in our kitchen anymore. I plan to do this by unloading the dishwasher as soon as the dishes are clean, and by either hand-washing dishes or loading them into the dishwasher as soon as I use them.

Today I planned our dinner menu for the week and shopped at two stores for groceries. I felt like the Proverbs 31 woman bringing her food from afar. :-) The two stores I went to really aren't that far from our house, but they seem farther when you bike. Tonight I am soaking some beans so that we can have 13-bean soup (a childhood favorite of mine) tomorrow. I plan to put it in the crock-pot on low all day, so that it will be ready by the time I come home from a long day of taking care of two little girls. I hope to have time, either tonight or tomorrow, to bake some cornbread to go along with it. On Tuesday, we are having Jamaican Pork. I made it tonight and stuck it in the fridge, so all we have to do is heat it and serve over hot cooked rice. The recipe is below:

Jamaican Pork

2 1/2 cups cubed pork
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon oil
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/3 cup ketchup
1/3 cup water
1 can pineapple chunks
1 medium green bell pepper, cut in strips

Brown pork and onions in oil. Stir in cornstarch, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Add vinegar, soy sauce, ketchup, water, and pineapple syrup (reserve chunks). Stir until slightly thickened. Add pineapple chunks and green pepper. Serve over hot cooked rice.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Reflections of a Newlywed Bicyclist

Hubby and I are waiting to buy a car until we finish paying off my student loan. The sum is slowly getting whittled down paycheck-by-paycheck, but for now, we bike . . . a lot. Today we rode approximately 8 miles, mostly along a bike trail. First, we stopped at the library, where I checked out a couple of cross-stitching books. Then, it was off to Wal-Mart, where we purchased a new helmet for me. Although it's legal in our city to ride without a helmet (if you're over 16), several factors--including dozens of "close calls" involving drivers who were inconsiderate or just not paying attention, as well as the realization that I was practically the only bicyclist in our city who did not wear a helmet (peer pressure can sometimes be a good thing)--induced me to buy a helmet I would actually wear (my old one was falling apart and pulled my hair every time I took it off).

Then we went to the mall to search for a gray zip-up sweatshirt to replace my old one with a broken zipper. We saw one as we were coming down the escalator into the junior's department. We were in and out of the store in a matter of minutes . . . Hubby's (a.k.a. Mr. Efficiency) favorite way to shop. :-) Finally, we stopped at the store to pick up some groceries, and then we (and our bikes) rode a bus home.

I have come to enjoy biking. For now, it's a good way for us to get around, it's good exercise, and it's a good way to spend time with my sweetie. We are blessed to live in a bike-friendly city.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Butterflies and Cinnamon Rolls

Last fall, when my then-fiancé (now husband) and I were strolling through Target, searching for items to scan with the barcode zapper for our gift registry, we found some cute butterfly shower curtain rings. I said, "Oh, they're so cute!" and then looked to Hubby for his opinion. I thought he would think they were too girly, but to my surprise, he smiled and said, "Zap 'em." So I did, and some kind soul gave them to us for a wedding gift.

Those shower curtain rings recently inspired me to make butterflies the theme of our bathroom décor. So I searched the internet for some classy butterfly cross-stitch patterns, and found a whole set of realistic butterfly designs. I stitched up the Shining Blue Nymph, the Purple Azure, and the Ceylon Rose, framed them in 4-inch embroidery hoops, and got my hubby to help me hang them. Now I'm keeping my eyes peeled for a butterfly clock to help tie everything together.

Also, I recently made some apple cinnamon rolls. To make, prepare your favorite cinnamon roll recipe and after you spread the brown sugar-cinnamon mixture over the dough, sprinkle with 1 cup peeled, finely diced apples, roll up, slice, and bake as directed. So delicious! My husband likes them spread with cream cheese.