Friday, May 30, 2008
So here it is, in all its yummy, cholesterol-laden goodness! (Hey, there's spinach in it - can it count as a serving of vegetables?? I thought not.)
Spinach Artichoke Dip
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed & drained
1 14-ounce can of artichoke heart quarters, drained & chopped
1 small container of garlic & herb cream cheese
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
6 slices cooked bacon (I use the whole package - why skimp on bacon?)
Squeeze excess water out of spinach by mashing between paper towels. Stir together spinach, artichoke, cream cheese, parmesan cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise. Spread in a lightly-greased 9x9 baking dish. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until bubbly. Top with bacon, and bake an additional 5 minutes. Serve with crackers or thin slices of crusty bread.
For more great recipes, visit DeeDee's Saturday Stirrings!
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
I have terrible skin. I developed rosacea while I was in my mid-twenties and enduring the stress of vet school. It started out as persistent flakiness on my cheeks, and now looks more like a permanent sunburn. Caring for my skin has been a learning process, especially since I can't afford premium products. (To think, I used to use Apricot Scrub and harsh astringents in my teen years!!) I tried many things that seemed to work for awhile, and then my skin would revert to the fresh sunburn look. Right now I think my skin looks pretty good, and this is what I'm using:
The Dove Cool Moisture Foaming Facial Cleanser has just the right balance of cleanser & moisturizer. It helps remove the excess oils without giving my skin that tight, dry, itchy feeling. Besides, it smells nice!I was VERY excited to find Neutrogena's Alcohol-Free Toner. I needed something to help improve the texture of my skin, and regular toners turn me bright red - not a good look. This toner does a pretty good job of evening things out & removing surface flakiness without further irritating my poor sensitive skin.
Foundation has been a little trickier. I needed something that would even out my skin tone so that people wouldn't immediately say, "You've been getting some sun, haven't you?" I really like Maybelline's new Mineral Power Foundation. It goes on really smoothly, and has pretty good coverage without feeling like theater makeup. Plus, it comes in a great bottle, similar to eyedrops - no more shaking and shaking to try to get your foundation out!
This powder is my trusted friend. It looks so strange, and I was a skeptic for a long time - until I gave in & tried it. It's Physicians' Formula powder in green. Yes, green. A little dusting of this over my nose & cheeks, after the foundation, and things immediately look better. It really tones down the redness. I follow it with a regular loose powder, but it's this green stuff that really does the job.
And for something a little pricier - Bare Minerals Bisque powder. I've had the same tiny jar for several years, so I'm definitely getting my money's worth. This powder is amazing. Along with their full-coverage concealing brush, this will cover up any lingering redness, spots, scars, or really anything you want to hide. A little dab will go a long way. When I finally use up this little jar, I'm going to have to find some more - it works better than any messy concealer I've ever tried.
Those are some skin/makeup products that work for me. For more great tips, head over to Works-For-Me Wednesday at Rocks in my Dryer!
Sunday, May 25, 2008
This morning in church, we had our usual welcome & first song. I guess Wendy liked the song. In the few seconds of silence when the song ended, right before the person leading the opening prayer made it to the front of the auditorium, Wendy piped up with a loud, "YAY!!!"
I barely made it. I'd almost have myself under control with the giggles stopped, and I'd hear a small snicker from James.
It was a little embarrassing, but she brings us such joy. And who can fault her for enjoying praising God?
Saturday, May 24, 2008
I made this completely on the stovetop, but I'm sure if you put it in a dish & baked it, it would taste even better!
16 oz whole wheat rotini pasta (I use Barilla)
1 can/jar of spaghetti sauce (whatever tickles your fancy)
small can of sliced mushroom pieces, drained
16 oz container of cottage cheese
shredded mozzarella for topping
Cook rotini as directed on package, drain. Stir in spaghetti sauce, mushrooms, and cottage cheese. Heat & stir until cheese is melted. Top servings with shredded mozzarella.
(When I make this in the future, I think I'll add chopped zucchini and/or bell pepper to bump up the nutrition - I just didn't have them on hand at the time!)
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Shannon over at Rocks In My Dryer is having a linky thing today where we all clean out our cars and list all the grossness we find. Kind of a minivan support group, I suppose. We (meaning James) actually cleaned our van out on Saturday, but here's a listing of what we were hauling around:
large Graco stroller
small umbrella stroller
2 very VERY overdue library books
a bunch of receipts
empty Diet Pepsi Jazz can
empty Starbucks cup
empty McDonald's cup
random half-drunk bottle of water
2 containers of baby wipes
assorted napkins/Kleenexes in various states of use (Eww.)
Box of Puffs Plus
Half of a petrified PB sandwich (Also eww.)
Several of Wendy's hair clippies & rubber bands
Two of my jackets
Wendy clothes - shorts, onesie, tank top, socks, shoes, sweater
About 6 Cheerios
Equal number of Goldfish
Wrappers from cereal bars & cough drops
About 10 receipts (wondered where those were)
That's all that I remember. There's some pretty gross stuff there, but I'm really glad he didn't find a half-full sippy cup of milk. That's my biggest fear - that a sippy of milk will be overlooked and spontaneously combust or grow legs or something.
What's in your car?
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
We celebrated by taking a short walk around the school parking lot - you can see the school in the background. (That may sound lame, but there are no sidewalks on our street, and people just fly up and down it, so it's not really safe for walking.) Bear also came along for the ride, and he was safely buckled in across from Wendy.
Doesn't the look on her face express pure childhood joy? Here's a closeup:
I'm going to store that face, snotty nose and all, in my memory, as a reminder of what a precious gift she is.
This WFMW post is a little misleading - it's not something that currently works for me, but something that will work for me in the near future. I'm still getting it together. The idea came from several of you, who advocate keeping certain items in the car rather than weighing down a diaper bag with them.
I love this idea. I find satisfaction in being prepared for any eventuality - whether a true emergency, or an "emergency" consisting of hunger pangs on a too-long errand, or an impromptu stop at the park. I'm going to tweak this idea a bit to make it more workable for our family, and this is what I'm planning to include in the kit:
- Complete set of playclothes for Wendy, size 3T. She currently wears 2T, so these will be a little bit, but I'd rather that then need the clothes & realize they're too small.
- Extra socks & cheap pair of shoes for Wendy
- 2 cloth diapers
- Gallon-sized Ziploc bags - for transporting soiled/wet/icky clothes or other items
- Band-aids, Neosporin, small pack of baby wipes
- Shout wipes
- Crayons & small coloring book
- Goldfish & cereal bars
- 2 juice boxes
- Sunscreen & hat for Wendy
- Lightweight jacket
- Extra shirts for James and I, just in case...
All of this will be corralled in a plastic storage container with a lid, and will be stowed underneath the bench seat of the van, so it's always there and ready to go. I plan to keep it stocked as I use things, so that it's always ready to go. I'll just have to remember to change things a bit when it gets cold again, to be prepared for winter needs.
Can you think of anything I should add to my "emergency" kit?
An "emergency" car kit works for me...what works for you? For more great ideas, visit Rocks in my Dryer!
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Sunday, May 18, 2008
1. Today was the first session in Stepping Up, by Beth Moore, in our ladies' Bible class. We didn't quite get through the first video due to technical difficulties, but I can tell this is going to be a great study.
2. I need to find a Kinko's or other place that will take my member book for the Bible study & make it spiral-bound. I saw that suggestion on Joanne's blog, and I think it'll work really well for the close quarters in our ladies' class.
3. I've gotten stuck in my Believing God study. Again. Now that we're past the yard sale, family visiting, and other distractions, I'm planning to reinstate my daily quiet time. I get really frustrated with myself, because this is a GREAT study, and has really touched me, and yet I can't quite get the routine down.
4. I committed to raising funds for my friends' baby-on-the-way's diaper stash. So far I've raised roughly $0.00. It's disappointing. One of my goals this week is to draft a fund-raising letter to go out to our friends & family throughout the country - I hope some of them will be able to contribute to little EA's diaper stash. (If you want to contribute, please e-mail me!!)
5. Wendy's vocabulary is really taking off. But, in the spirit of toddlerhood, she's also started squealing to show her displeasure. You know the toddler squeal - even if you don't have kids, you've heard it in restaurants & grocery stores. It's loud, extremely high pitched, and will make your eardrums bleed in you're in close proximity. Since that's not an acceptable way of self-expression in the Allen Family Circus, whenever Wendy makes that squeal, she gets a quick swat on the thigh, and she stops. I hope this phase doesn't last very long.
6. I have entirely too many cats in my house. Period. The End. Matilda and her 4 kittens are still living in our bathroom, until the kittens all have homes. Two are spoken for, so we just have two to go! Yay!
7. I completely changed my idea of what I wanted to do with the exterior of our house based on a photo I saw in Country Living magazine. The house in the picture was almost exactly like ours, and it was redone in a way I never would've thought of - and it looks great! I can't wait to fix our house up!
8. I'm still a member of the Single Line Club. Sigh. One good thing about the delay in our being able to conceive is that Wendy will most likely be potty-trained when #2 eventually comes along. I assumed we'd have babies close together, and would just have to deal with 2 in diapers at the same time, but this way will be much easier.
This post is already far too long - and so, if you're still reading, I'll put an end to your boredom. See what happens when a head full of random thoughts has access to a keyboard?
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Wendy was very, very good during the long day. The first two pictures are from the beginning of the day, when we were waiting for breakfast in the Cascades section of the Gaylord Opryland Hotel.
See the dimple in the picture below? It earns her extra smooches. :-)
Then, about six hours later, this is Wendy before we even left the parking lot:
I just thought you'd like the cuteness!
Need photographic proof? Here:
Doesn't that look yummy? Can't you picture a few of those guys, still warm from the oven, snuggled up to a scoop or two of Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla? Mmm...
If I'm making these to take somewhere (as I will be on Sunday), I like to make a double batch, since the recipe only makes 3 dozen. That way there will be too many, and I can bring some home. :-)
HEATH Bits Peanut Butter Cookies
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 3/4 cup REESE'S Creamy Peanut Butter
- 1-1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1-1/3 cups (8 oz. pkg.) HEATH BITS 'O BRICKLE Toffee Bits, divided
1. Heat oven to 375°F.
2. Beat shortening, peanut butter, brown sugar, milk and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Add egg; beat just until blended. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture. Stir in 1 cup bits; reserve remainder for topping.
3. Drop by heaping teaspoons about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet; top each with reserved bits.
4. Bake 7 to 8 minutes or until set. Do not overbake. Cool 2 minutes. Remove to wire rack. Cool completely. About 3 dozen cookies.
Friday, May 16, 2008
What got me thinking about those "skills" was a trip to McDonald's. I was picking up lunch for Wendy & I and my mom & sister-in-law. Since our driver's side window still doesn't work (grr) I can't use the drive-thru like a normal mom-running-errands-with-toddler. Instead, I have to take Wendy with me to go inside & order, keep her amused, and bring everything back to the van.
On the way back to the van, I managed to carry two medium drinks, my wallet, and a big bag of food, and hold Wendy's hand - and I was still able to unlock the van so Wendy could climb back in. Skillful, no?
Fast-forward two hours, and Wendy and I are in Target, trying to decide which checkout line will work for us. We see Holly, from our church. With her four children. Under the age of 5. She has makeup on. Her hair looks good. The three oldest kids are strapped into the cart, and the baby is riding on a sling on Holly's chest.
And then I get a little perspective.
I don't think you read my blog, Holly, but seriously? You rock. I want to be like you when I grow up.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
I know you're surprised by that. Or at least surprised that I didn't already know I'm not normal.
Here's the thing: I make up nicknames for people and pets. And it's never your average "Honey" or "Dear" or "Baby." I think I inherited this tendency from my mother. During my formative years I was frequently referred to as a "Maggot." How's that for a pet name? This came from a woman who will also call other drivers, in certain situations, "Ishkabibble," "Guggenhiemer," or "Idjit."
To this day, my parents don't call me by my given name, even though they carefully chose one I'd have to spell 4 bazillion times in my life. No, they call me, "Beeb." I don't know why. I do know that I answer to it. I also know it would seem awkward for them to address me as "Jeni." I used to be embarrassed when they'd call me "Beeb" in public, especially from about age 12-19. Now it doesn't matter so much to me.
I have the same talent? urge? ailment? for giving nicknames. I'll share a few with you:
For Sonata Juliet, one of the cats: Sonni-Bunny Two Shoes, Bunny of Great Magnitude, Funniest and Sunniest of Bunnies.
For Serenade, one of my parents' cats: Ki Serenaynay, Ki Sere, Blue Eyes
For Bella, the dog: Clarabella Boo-Boo, Clara-Boo, Boo-Boo Frog Dog, Clarabella Bella Boo.
For Wendy: Pumpkin, Munchkin (I know those are fairly normal), Squirmbing, Chicken, Wendykins, Problem (because sometimes she is one!)
What nicknames do you have for your loved ones? What are some nicknames they have for you?
(and an extra 5 points if you recognize the title as a song reference)
Here's her current vocabulary base: thank you, please, Hi, Bye, meow, ruff, cow, ow, yes, no, bread, 'nana (banana), Dada, pretty, house, this, that. She said, "mama" once, too! :-)
I've been working on animal sounds with her. She's got kitty and doggie down with no problems. The kitty says, "Yow!" and the doggie says, "Urf!" We moved on to cow. And this is how our conversation goes:
me: What does the cow say?
Me: Does the cow say, "Mooo?"
Me: Cow says, "Mooo!"
I have yet to meet a cow that says, "Cow!"
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
We discovered last fall that Wendy has inherited our seasonal allergies. James and I are both allergic to various pollens, dust, and mold, so it's really no surprise that our girlie is also allergic.
Her doctor suggested Zyrtec, which works really well for her. However, it was our first regular liquid medicine bottle without a syringe.
I looked at the Kroger Pharmacy for a cheap oral syringe, and found this great combo. Maybe y'all already know this, but you can get this little cone-shaped adapter thingy that fits down into the mouth of your medicine bottle. It seals up tight, so you can attach the syringe, invert the bottle, and then draw out what you need.
We use this on an almost-daily basis, and it's fantastic! It's so much easier to measure the medicine accurately with a syringe, and the adapter keeps me from getting all sticky.
It works for me! What works for you? Visit Rocks in my Dryer for more great ideas!
Monday, May 12, 2008
I never though I'd feel that way about a yard sale.
A yard sale in small-town Tennessee has an interesting cast of characters, to be sure. You've got your smokers, your chatty people, your people-who-want-everything-for-a-quarter. And then there was Bra Lady.
I first saw her looking at our book table, with her back to me. She was wearing a burnt-orange broomstick skirt and a brown tank top. Her hair was a from-the-box auburn. (Nothing wrong with from-the-box haircolor - I do it too.) Then she turned and I was quite surprised by her age - probably late 70s. Not at all what I expected from the clothing and the hair, but I was soon to be surprised even more.
She went over to one of the many clothing tables. She looked at this and that, holding items out and then refolding them. Then she picked up a bra.
(Let me pause for a moment to say that I wouldn't ordinarily put a bra in a yard sale. It was one that I bought and then realized that when worn for more than a few minutes the wire would try to insinuate itself between my ribs. It wasn't very comfy. Being practically new, I threw it in with the yard sale stuff.)
So Broomstick Skirt Lady picks up the bra - a nice white frilly one - and holds it out, looking it over thoroughly. She checked the size. She checked the straps. She checked the wires & hooks.
And then she tried it on.
Oh, yes, she tried it on.
She stood there in my front yard, with people milling all about, and tried on the bra over her brown tank top (thankfully). She didn't just try it on; she adjusted the straps, and tugged here and there, and moved this way and that, just like you would in a dressing room.
Except she was in my front yard. With people around. Do you have the mental picture?? I so wished I had a camera, but then I would never have posted it on my blog, anyway, for her privacy's sake.
I think that was quite possibly the hardest time I've ever had not laughing at someone.
She bought the bra.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
And stay tuned - funny stories with even funnier mental pictures coming on Monday, with the Yard Sale 2008 Recap. Aren't you excited? I can just see you there, on the edge of your seat, biting your fingernails & waiting for my Yard Sale 2008 Recap.
Good news - sold lots of our junk. Especially the big junk - filing cabinets, engine lift, engine stand, about 75 CDs, about 100 books. Total earned = $618. A pretty respectable day, especially for this neck of the woods, where people want everything for a quarter.
Bad news - my living room and dining room are full (FULL) of boxes of unsold stuff. We're going to help my folks clean out their garage in the next week or so, and then all this stuff will be neatly stacked in there, awaiting a fall garage sale - with an actual garage.
I hope y'all have an excellent Mother's Day. I plan to spend mine with the 7 people dearest to my heart, and a God that surpasses all things. (And the start of a new Beth Moore study at church - YAY!)
Friday, May 9, 2008
- Wendy seeing a snail on the front porch
"Hi! Hi! Hi! Hi! Hi!"
- Wendy seeing Grandpa's (empty) car in the driveway
"Hmm. Hmm. Doyees!!"
- Wendy thinking the yard sale stickers are toys, then pulling stickers off the priced items
"Urf. Urf. Urf."
- Wendy barking at the neighbor's beagle
"She's messing with Grandma's piles. But we don't talk about Grandma's piles in public."
- me, referring to Wendy playing with the piles of yard sale stuff my mom was sorting
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Am I ready for the sale? No.
Do I have everything sorted? No.
Do I have everything priced? Are you kidding? No.
I have a LOT of work to do today and tomorrow morning. Add to that the fact that my in-laws are "stopping by" on their way to Missouri, and I need to run an errand for my mom that will take at least two hours...
Sigh. Maybe I'll learn from this and not procrastinate next time. Maybe.
But I doubt it.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
I'm having trouble, though. I want to install an RSS button at the top of my sidebar, so that anyone who wants to subscribe can just click on it and subscribe. But I can't figure it out. I can get the image to display, but it won't do anything. I can get Subscribe to this feed" to appear, and it works, but it isn't pretty.
It can't be this hard. Have any of you put something like this in your sidebar? How did you do it?
Monday, May 5, 2008
I really enjoyed the challenge of getting this just right. I started with a free template I found online, then figured out how to completely change the header & background. I think I'm happy with it, but don't be surprised if I tweak it in the coming weeks.
And please - if you didn't read my previous post about EA and the fund-raising I'm going to be doing, please read it, and contribute if you can! Baby EA needs diapers!!
I met my good friend, Tassie, when I was in high school. We were roommates at the Honors Symposium at Harding University the summer before our senior year of high school. We had a great time during that two weeks, and got along pretty well. We decided to be suitemates at the same university the following year.
Tassie and I became very close; she's one of the few people I've met that really gets me. She's seen me through thick and thin, and has helped me through some of the worst times of my life.
During the summer before our sophomore year of college (I think; it may have actually been the following year), we got a phone call late at night at our house. This was particularly strange, because anyone who would call my family knew that phone calls after 9 p.m. were just not tolerated. I was already in bed, asleep, but the urgency of the call was such that I was awakened and brought to the phone...
It was Tassie, and she had a brain tumor.
Just let that sink in for a minute. Beautiful, very intelligent, humble Christian girl, 20 years old, learns she has a brain tumor.
It was terrifying. That was not a good night. She was in Tennessee and I was in Virginia, so I couldn't even hug her, but there was a lot of praying that night, believe me.
We came to find out later that the tumor did not appear to be growing; it was located very close to her pituitary gland, and doctors were afraid that removing it may cause her to lose the function of her pituitary gland. That's not ideal, so for the time being they decided to closely monitor it.
She was also told that she would most likely never have children, or at the very least, would require hormone therapies in order to conceive & maintain a pregnancy. No young woman wants to hear that, but Tassie put her faith in God, and was thankful for her overall good health. She met a wonderful (if goofy) man named Kevin, and they were married before our senior year of college.
About a year and a half later, she was pregnant. They had their beautiful daughter in the summer of 2001, the daughter that doctors said couldn't be conceived or carried. She was healthy and strong, and has grown to be just as smart as her mom and as sassy as her dad.
Two years ago, Tassie and Kevin felt the call to teach English in China. Those of you who can read between the lines know what I mean by that. They've been in China, teaching at a university and touching many lives.
And then, just after Christmas, Tassie found out that she's pregnant again.
Another baby that couldn't possibly happen...except God saw fit to bless them again, over and above what they could've hoped. Baby EA (which will be either Elizabeth Alathea or Elijah Andrew) is due in August. Everything is going well; EA is thriving, and Tassie and Kevin and Jael are just thrilled beyond words that they are going to be able to welcome a new baby to their family...God is good!!
And now to the part where I need your help:
In China, where Tassie and Kevin are living and working, babies are diaperless. I know. I had never heard of such a thing, either. That's not going to work too well for Baby EA for several reasons. Disposable diapers are available, but are ridiculously expensive. Tassie and Kevin have decided that cloth diapers are probably going to be the best bet for them, but even cloth diapers are not available there.
I'm an experienced cloth diaperer now, and so I am raising money to buy a supply of cloth diapers for Baby EA. The supplies will be purchased here in the US, and Tassie's parents will deliver them to China this summer.
Please, if you can, contribute to Baby EA's diaper fund. Cloth diapers save money overall, but the initial purchase can be daunting. If you are at all interested in contributing, please leave a comment or e-mail me. I can't think of a much more worthy cause...diapers for a baby who is an unexpected blessing to such a worthy couple who are working hard for the Kingdom.
(And also, if you know how to make a button that would link directly to EA's PayPal account, please let me know! I can't figure it out!)
Saturday, May 3, 2008
I'm kidding. But I do really, really like this. As in, I could single-handedly eat an entire pan in a weekend. Give or take. It's so yummy - crunchy, creamy, tangy, salty, sweet, and delicious.
Strawberry Pretzel Salad
1½ sticks butter, melted
3 tablespoons sugar
2 cups crushed pretzels
8 oz cream cheese (room temperature)
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon milk
4 tablespoons crushed pineapple
8 oz Cool Whip
1 large strawberry Jello
2 cups boiling water
16 oz frozen sliced strawberries
For crust, mix butter, 3 T sugar and pretzels. Press into the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Bake 8 minutes at 350o F.
Mix cream cheese, 1 cup sugar, milk and pineapple with hand mixer until well blended. By hand, mix in Cool Whip. Spread on top of pretzel crust. Chill for 30 minutes.
Mix 1 large strawberry Jello with 2 cups boiling water; stir until dissolved. Add frozen strawberries. Let stand about 10 minutes, then carefully spoon over cream cheese layer. Refrigerate until set.
Proceed to eat half the pan in one sitting.
For more great recipe ideas, visit Saturday Stirrings!
Friday, May 2, 2008
It's only 9 a.m., and so far, we've all been grumpy, defensive, and selfish.
Maybe it's the barometric pressure, or maybe it's that we're all really tired. Whatever the case, something's got to give!
I declare today the Day of Cheerfulness! I'm going to make an effort, and encourage hubby and girlie as well, to act cheerful, regardless of how we all feel. We'll see how it goes...
Look! The Day of Cheerfulness is working!
That's much better! :-)