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.