Friday, January 30, 2009
Chicken Ole (makes 8 servings)
1 (10 3/4 oz) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 (10 3/4 oz) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 (7 oz) can green chile salsa (I used "salsa verde" from the ethnic foods aisle)
1 c. sour cream
1 T. grated onion
12 corn tortillas, cut into 6 or 8 pieces each
4 c. coarsely chopped cooked chicken or turkey (I used ~3 cups, and thought it could have used more)
3/4 c. (3 oz) shredded cheddar cheese (I used sharp cheddar, because that's what I had)
Lightly grease sides and bottom of a slow cooker. Combine soups, salsa, sour cream and onion in a bowl. In the slow cooker, arrange alternating layers of tortillas with chicken and soup mixture (I did 3 sets of layers, ending with the soup mixture on top). Cover and cook on low 4 to 5 hours. Sprinkle with cheese. Cover and cook on low another 5-10 minutes or until cheese melts. Serve with orange and avocado slices.
As you can guess, the tortillas pretty much dissolved during the cooking, so we were left with a slightly spicy corn, cheese, and chicken mush--so delicious! The leftovers were good, too. If you want to make it a one pot meal, I would suggested adding fresh broccoli florets (2-3 cups) with the chicken. You could also add frozen or canned corn.
Beef Burritos (makes 6 to 8 servings)
2 lbs boneless beef chuck or other pot roast
1 jalapeno chile, seeded and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 t. beef bouillon granules or 1 beef bouillon cube
1 onion, chopped
1/2 t. chili powder
1/2 t. ground cumin
2 T. chopped fresh cilantro (I left this out)
1/2 t. salt
1 (16 oz) can refried beans, heated
6 to 8 (12-inch) flour tortillas, warmed
Trim fat from beef and discard. In a slow cooker, combine meat, chile, garlic, bouillon, onion, spices, and salt. Cover and cook on low 8 hours or until meat is very tender. Remove meat from slow cooker. With 2 forks, shred meat; combine with 3/4 c. cooking juices. Spread warm tortillas with refried beans. Add shredded beef. Fold over tortilla sides, then roll up. Serve warm. Shredded cheese and/or salsa can be added to the burrito before folding.
I don't actually know how this one tastes yet, because it's in the slow cooker right now. Smells good, though. And obviously, if you don't like refried beans (I'm the only one in my family who likes them, and I only like the americanized version, not the real thing), you can leave them out. I'm sure you can accessorize with lettuce and other traditional taco toppings. And our crock pot seems to cook extremely hot, so I'm going to go up and add some beef broth.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
The kids were driving me batty. Now that I've had a chance to think about it, I realize that the reason they were driving me batty was because I had been cooped up in our house for 7 full days, out of 12, with these children, all by my lonesome, with the only breaks (when they finally went to bed) being filled with cleaning up the messes that are inevitable when you have 3 (or sometimes 4) children under the age of 9 hanging out. For an additional 3 nights, I had been feeding them, helping them with homework, playing with them, reading to them, and putting them to bed all by myself, with no adult interaction other than waving at the bus driver (in case you're not doing the math yourself, that means only 2 "normal" days in that 12 day period). For most of this time, it had been too cold to play outside, so "Mama, I'm bored," had become a constant refrain. I had also been hearing quite a bit of, "but I don't wanna," when I asked them to do something helpful, like bringing their dirty laundry upstairs to be washed. At the moment I listened to that message, my well of patience and good-will and loving feelings had run dry, the last of it running out along with my tears on the half hour drive home.
Normally, this friend will call me on a Tuesday or a Thursday--that just works best with her schedule. But on Monday she heard God's gentle whisper (call Tera) and acted on it. My friend provided a life line to me that day. She was God's way of putting his arms around me and telling me that he loves me, and that everything was OK. She was God's way of giving me back my perspective, which had narrowed considerably in the previous 12 days. I have a bookmark that reads: "Friendship is God's way of telling us we don't have to walk alone." That has never been more true for me than that day. Thank you, friend. What a blessing you are to me...
Sunday, January 25, 2009
(I'll pause here, so you can reread that, and move through your disbelief)
It seemed like a good solution to the problem of scores of little broken ramen noodles littering the cook top. And it worked. You see, my oldest son decided to make ramen for himself and his brother for lunch yesterday. I'm glad that he's gaining confidence and independence in the kitchen, but he doesn't quite know how to open the package without spilling all over yet. The stove has these two shallow depressions, each holding two burners, and it's kind of difficult to get particles out using a dishrag or sponge. Usually I just grit my teeth, and maybe growl a bit, and get a little frustrated before it's all over. Or sometimes I just wait for my husband to clean the stove. OK, most of the time, I wait for my husband to clean the stove, but I was going to have to wait until at least Tuesday for that, and I believe I may have mentioned before that I have a severe aversion to clutter (and in my sometimes twisted brain, crumbs from the toaster and broken ramen noodles on the stove qualify as clutter).
If only all of my household cleaning tasks could be accomplished by vacuum. I like the vacuum. It requires very little effort on my part (except, of course, cleaning up all the toys and tupperware and toothbrushes and other things that get transported from where they belong to carpeted areas), and you can see and hear the results: see that the area you vacuumed is now cleaner, and hear little particles banging on their way up. Vacuuming also has a defined beginning and end, as opposed to some other household chores that I could mention that are never-ending.
As I was vacuuming our stove, I thought to myself, "why did I never think of this before? This is brilliant." Don't you think so?
Friday, January 23, 2009
I was also in Kohls this morning, and found myself wondering who in the world would be willing to pay $110 for a kids' jacket that they're just going to be outgrowing in a year or two...of course, I've been around Kohls enough to notice that everything there goes on sale all the time, so perhaps no one really does spend that much for them.
So I'm on the lookout for a size 6/7 winter jacket, and size 8/10 winter jacket, and size 6/7 snow bibs and size 8 snow pants (black)...Let me know if you see any.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Sorry it's on the side like that...hubby was videoing and just wasn't thinking about orientation, and wifey doesn't know how to rotate videos. So Caleb got this truck for Christmas, and loved it! He danced for minutes and minutes to that little song.
I agree with him that toilet paper is a lot of fun. He likes to walk around with two rolls on his two hands, which is actually kind of cute, but lately, he's been starting to tear pieces off as he walks, and the other day, he pulled the center right out of a roll. In case you've never realized it before, toilet paper has the potential to create a huge mess.
I've put a lock on our bathroom under-the-sink cabinet and taken all the extra toilet paper out of the hallway bathroom (dangerous, I know). I've even had to take the in-use rolls off the holders, placing them on the counters, thereby creating clutter, which I have a severe aversion to. I know that this time in our lives is only temporary, and that this too shall pass (thank you, Melissa, for that mantra), but in the meantime, it is extremely exasperating.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
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Monday, January 19, 2009
Our pastors are currently delivering a sermon series inspired by A.J. Jacobs' book, The Year Of Living Biblically. In this book, Mr. Jacobs tells about his experiences on his quest to follow every rule and precept in the Bible for an entire year. This Sunday Pastor Dan talked about keeping Sabbath.
Honoring the Sabbath day to keep it holy has been my favorite commandment ever since early on in 2002. Up until then, I had subconsiously viewed the 10 commandments, and all those other God-rules, as punitive. As in, God gave us all these rules because He doesn't want us to have any fun (subconsiously). Beginning in the fall of 2001 (hmm, can you guess why I remember so clearly when it was? I bet you can if you're related to me through DNA), I participated in a Disciple Bible study: the red book, during which I read 80% of the Bible in 34 weeks. Early in 2002 (don't remember when quite as clearly), we came to a discussion of the Sabbath. Sure we had touched on it earlier on, in Exodus, but now we had come to the place in the Gospel when Jesus says, the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. I came to realize then, that the Sabbath is a gift, and that all of the rules God has given us are for our benefit, not for God's.
God realized that we would be this way: that we would work and work and work and wear ourselves out. God realized that His example of resting on the 7th day of creation would not be enough for us to take the hint that resting is OK. God realized that even a strong suggestion to rest one day out of seven would not be enough to get us to do it, so God commanded us. Granted, this commandment, of all of them, is probably the most ignored (all right, I suppose the idol one is too, but most people don't realize they're ignoring that one).
So I view Sabbath as a gift, but I also think keeping Sabbath is a matter of faith. God has promised to provide for all of our needs (and, yes, rest is one of our needs). If we feel like we must work every day, we must not believe that God will actually provide for all of our needs.
I say honoring the Sabbath day is my favorite commandment, but it is also difficult for me to keep at this time. Since my job is taking care of my three children, I am always on duty. I don't get a rest day. Sure I avoid housework on Sundays (and for my reward the house is always even more of a disaster on Monday morning). I've even given up cooking on most Sundays, but the kids are always there. I suppose that most folks would say that honoring Sabbath to keep it holy means that this one day is set apart from the others: that it should look and feel different, and in that way I'm keeping the commandment, and I suppose it's true. Sunday is a family day around here, but what I really want from Sabbath is rest.
So my question to you is: how do you honor the Sabbath?
Saturday, January 17, 2009
In the course of cleaning up I found cause to use the hose of the vacuum. The past several times I had used the hose it didn't seem to be working as well, but it did work, so I figured it was probably just my imagination and ignored it. Last night, however, it just wasn't happening, so we took a look to see if the hose was blocked. The hose is black, but when stretched you can see through it, sort of, so that's what I did, one section at a time, until I saw something that didn't look like it belonged there. I thought it looked like a toilet paper holder, you know, the spring loaded thing that holds the roll in the holder, and I thought, that's got to be something that belongs there, because how could something that big get in there if it wasn't supposed to be there?
So my husband disconnected the hose and took a look, and it was a toilet paper holder! As he removed it from the hose, he asked, "do you think we should take a picture?" And I said no, because there's no way anyone would ever believe it, even with a picture. We should have taken a video, but you probably still wouldn't believe it. It works much better now. I wonder how long that thing was in there, and which of my little balls of entropy put it there.
Friday, January 16, 2009
School's canceled again. I don't know what's gotten in to the school district people around here. School has been canceled 1 time in the almost 3 years that we've been here, and now they've canceled two days in a row. Not that I mind not having to go out to the bus stop in the cold...
Thursday, January 15, 2009
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So I was watching the news last night, and something set me off again. The city of Minneapolis called a snow emergency on Tuesday, I think it was, meaning that people can't park on the streets, or certain streets at certain times, so the plows can come through. It all sounds pretty complicated to me, but I'm sure if I lived or worked on a street in Minneapolis, I would take the time to figure out where and when I can park during a snow emergency. Anyway, every time there's a snow emergency, hundreds of vehicles end up being towed, and last night, on the news, they showed people waiting in line to retrieve their vehicles. And one of the guys (who was not dressed for the weather, by the way) complained, "they have no business towing cars with the economy the way it is. Nobody has $200 lying around to spend on getting their car back."
I am just a little bit tired of people using the economy as an excuse for anything and everything. The economy's bad, so the cable company shouldn't increase their rates. The economy's bad, so I shouldn't have to move my car so that the road can be plowed curb to curb. The economy's bad, so I am a victim when I have to drop my home phone service and only have a cell phone. The economy's bad, so how dare the grocery store raise their prices. The economy's bad, so how come no one is coming to my house and offering to give me everything I want for free, and on a silver platter to boot? Yes, folks, it's the welfare state rearing its ugly head. We have become a nation that expects to be prosperous without working for it.
As I listen to and read the coverage of this recession, I have to wonder how much of what's going on is self-fulfilling prophecy. I know that people are hurting. We know people who have lost their jobs or had their hours reduced, and it's not that I don't care about what's happening, but honestly, when people hear that the U.S. economy is in shambles, it makes them want to spend less, which is not necessarily a bad thing--I think people should have been spending less all along--but when people spend less, the economic situation gets worse, and the media reports that it's worse, which makes people spend even less. It's a country-wide mass panic, but at a slower rate than one usually equates with panic.
I also start to wonder about our collective memory as a country. I've heard that the last time there was a recession "this bad" was in 1983. Actually, I believe it was the unemployment rate, which doesn't necessarily equate to a recession, but anyway...that's not that long ago. I was 10 at the time, so I don't remember, but anyone who is currently about 45 or older should remember, and they should also remember that we always come through these things, and we're always stronger on the other side.
Our nation's economy is a cyclical thing. We know that there are going to be good times and we know that there are going to be bad times. This is exactly why during the prosperous times, we need to be storing up our grain (a la Joseph in Egypt), so that we can weather the rougher times.
So back to the "they've got no business" guy: don't you think that paying $200 to get your car out of the city's lot is a bargain, compared to what you would have to pay to fix your car if the plow driver decided to just plow through it? And don't you think that having streets that are passable is a good thing for the economy? So people can get to work and all, you know.
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And now that I've been raving for several minutes, I'll just tack this on. Don't worry--it'll be over soon. I'm sure you've heard that Mr. Obama is calling for an extension of the deadline for television stations to switch to digital transmissions because people aren't ready for it. Well, Mr. Obama, if the past year, during which there have been ads, increasingly frequently, on the air, warning people of the impending switch, was not enough time for people to prepare, another however long you're planning to give them isn't going to be enough time either. There are people in this world who will not act until forced to do so. I still don't quite understand why our federal government feels the need to make us all watch digital TV, but after all this hype and preparation and money spent, they darn well better go through with it. Especially in this economy...
P.S. Only one misspelling in that entire post!
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Monday, January 12, 2009
Some pictures from our family fun day on Sunday. We decided to head to a nearby state park to walk on the lake. There were quite a few ice fishers out--there were at least 15 shelters, and pretty much each shelter had at least two people in it. Here's one of the abandoned holes. It looked like the ice was about 8 inches deep. I told Scott I wanted to take a picture of the boys standing in front of the dam sign (whenever I say that, I think back to the time we were driving around Taylor's Falls, MN with Scott's family, looking for the road to the dam, and my mother in law said, "so where is this dam thing?" Sooo funny. We got her a dam shirt when we went to the dam store. I don't know if she still has it). I meant the diamond shaped DAM sign that you can see from the water. Oh well.Yes, Cody is licking the sign, but this is better than the other one where for some reason Logan put his hands in front of his face right as I pushed the button. I wonder if I can cut Cody out of that other picture and paste him into this one...
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Thursday, January 8, 2009
"Thank you for ordering with [our company]. At this time the items you selected are out of stock or have been discontinued. We apologize for this inconvenience. Your order has been canceled and it will not be charged to your credit card."
Doesn't sound like a refund to me! I thought I was done with this mess, but I checked our credit card activity online and no credit yet. I guess I'll give 'em a week or so and call again. I've ordered from this company probably half a dozen times and never had any trouble with anything. I don't think I've ever ordered anything personalized from them before, though.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
And continuing with our experiment to find out what else can go wrong while Daddy, our hero, is out of town, my two oldest kids were missing for a brief time yesterday. At about 4:25, I realized that I had never heard the bus or the kids come home. I stepped outside to see if I could see or hear them in the yard somewhere. Nope. So I called the bus company to ask if their bus was running late. Nope. And the bus driver said he didn't remember them even being on the bus that afternoon. OK, that was strange, but not cause for panic yet. I attempted to call the school, but there was no answer in the office (figures--it was 4:30 by then). I had to call back, and luckily the oldest child's teacher was still there. She said oldest child was not with her, but that she'd walk around the school looking for him. At that point, I started to get a little upset, because if Mrs. R put my oldest baby on the bus, he should have been on the bus. I'm a planner, so already my brain was thinking, OK, what's next? Where are the recent pictures of the kids? Is this a 911 or a regular police line situation? Should I stay here or drive to the school to look for them myself? After talking to Mrs. R, I decided I should probably double check to make sure they weren't at home somewhere. Turns out they were out by the bus stop building in the snow. The children have been reminded that if I'm not at the bus stop to meet them they need to come check in with me as soon as they get home, and darn that bus driver for telling the dispatcher that they weren't on the bus that afternoon.
So what else can go wrong? Well, they're not calling for snow until Friday, but I suppose that's always a possibility. I really don't want to think about anything worse...
Monday, January 5, 2009
This morning, it was 0 degrees outside, and hubby is currently in a brewery somewhere in Colorado, so he's not going to be driving to the rescue. You can see that this was a bit more of a serious problem. I had already formed a plan: check all of the outside doors to make sure they were all locked (which I knew they were because I checked them all when I went to bed last night), and then walk over to the neighbor's house and beg her to drive to the kids' school to get my oldest son's key (which hopefully he transferred over when he switched backpacks about a month ago). After that first incident, I had resolved to have another key made to put in our conbination-locked shed, but of course I hadn't made any specific plans to do so. Now, you can bet we're going to be making Fleet Farm one of our stops today to have not one, but two extra keys made (hubby should have a house key, doncha think?).
So you might be wondering how we got in. One of the doors was unlocked. Yes it was. Even though I checked it last night. Praise God for His provision.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Oh, how I wish I had thought to say, "uh, no, my mother doesn't live here anymore," or some other true (because my mother was living here for a few days last week), but sure to shock quip. I went with a sarcastic sounding, "uuuuh, no," and was rewarded with an, "oh, you sound so young!" It was the Lupus Society calling to ask for my household discards. Oops. I guess I shouldn't have given them such good stuff last time, because now they won't stop calling. Of course if I would stay on the line long enough to tell them not to call again, maybe they'd stop...but probably not.