31 July 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen

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On Friday night, we met Doug for dinner.  Doug is not only one of Morgan’s clients, he’s also become a family friend. 

Never mind the fact that he looks like Bob Hope!  I know!

Although he primarily lives in Washington, he also owns a home here in the desert and whenever he and his wife come to visit, we try and get together for a meal.

On this particular night, we met at a restaurant of his choice- Leon’s in Palm Springs.  The girls wanted to dress up and wear jewelry.  Sure, yeah, of course!

Although this restaurant looked casual in nature (at a golf course), the menu and service were “upscale” compared to what the girls are normally used to.  Put it this way, it was no Tony Roma’s or The Cheesecake Factory. Smile  

There were no crayons, no drawings, not even a kid’s menu.  The waiters treated the girls with the utmost respect, kindness, and etiquette.  The chef and owner (Leon himself) even came out to personally greet us and ask the girls how they enjoyed their meal.      

My girls got to experience what it means to be dining in a fine restaurant.  For example, their water (in a fancy glass) never got below a few sips before it was filled again… 

Which means they got to practice saying lots and lots of “thank yous”. 

Doug was equally attentive and complimentary towards the girls.  He reinforced what it means to be a gentlemen.

For example, towards the end of the night (after drinking all that water), the girls whispered to me that they had to go potty.  I told them to say, “Will you please excuse me?” and get up from their chairs.  At this point, both Doug and daddy immediately stopped their conversation and stood up for us. 

Upon our return to the table, the same thing happened.  The men stopped their conversation and guided the girls back into their chairs.  Oh, how I LOVE this!

They made us all feel like the lovely little ladies we are! 

Simply marvelous.  Chivalry lives!  Carry on…

Both Faith and Grace behaved beautifully over our 2 hour dinner but what touched me most was the kind way in which Doug gracefully treated our daughters.  That night, they remembered Mr. Doug in their prayers and thanked God for a wonderful evening together.

Daddy even said the evening served as a humble reminder…

Being a gentlemen never goes out of style. Winking smile

30 July 2011

Mango Lassi

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Saw this drink on Pinterest, which by the way, is my new source for anything lovely, fabulous, and inspirational!  I just knew I had to make it.  A lassi is a popular yogurt-based Indian smoothie.  It can be sweet or salty.  Often made with mangoes, spices, or rose water (which I’ve had before and it’s quite interesting). This is the photo that inspired me. 
Doesn’t it look refreshing on a hot summer day?!
 
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The main ingredients.  I made a healthy low-cal version.

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Dice up the mangoes.

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Add yogurt and coconut milk.

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Some honey to taste.

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Add crushed ice…

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I decided it needed a pinch of salt to bring out the flavors.

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Slurp up with your favorite lassies!

Mango Lassi Recipe
2 ripe mangoes diced (frozen would work here, too)
1 cup plain yogurt
2 T honey (to taste)
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 cup crushed ice
Blend and serve.

29 July 2011

Summer School {at it’s finest}

I woke up and asked the girls what they wanted to do this morning. 

I know, a novel idea, huh?

They said they wanted to go to the zoo but I vetoed that because of the heat (and also because we’re planning to go next week with my brother in town).

Their next choice was the pet store.  In the life of a 5 year-old, I guess that’s the next best thing to the zoo. 

OK, the pet store it is! 

In one of my more finer home educating moments, I decided to let them take pictures with my camera.  They were told they could take pictures of anything they found interesting. 

We got back home, reviewed the photos, then they chose something to draw in their nature journals. 

Once they were done with their drawings, we took some time to look up interesting facts about their pet of choice.

 

Grace chose the Blue Parakeet.  Here’s the picture she took and her drawing next to it…

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DID YOU KNOW? 

The Blue Parakeet:

- Comes from Australia

-Usually blue, yellow, or green in color

-makes a nice pet because they are cheerful and social

-trainable

-life span of 15-20 years

 

Faith chose The RAT (she actually thinks they’re cute).  EEK!!!

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RAT Facts:

-trainable to do simple tricks

-has poor vision

-can eat chocolate

-a group of rats is called a mischief

-average life span of 1 year to 18 months

 

Some other photos the girls took…

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Photography, art and interesting facts…  

 

School- a simple reminder to me that it can be whatever inspires one to learn.  

 

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28 July 2011

Good Morning Grace

Grace quote

“Neither aiming for perfection, nor failing to reach it, will keep me from receiving God's grace.”

27 July 2011

Cheese Stuffed Shells with Meaty Tomato Sauce

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I usually make these with a meat, cheese, and spinach filling but last night, I stuffed them with a cheese and herb filling instead.  As to not disappoint my carnivorous husband, he still got his meat sauce.
I actually liked it better.  It was more delicate in flavor and texture and the meat wasn’t the main star. 

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Dice up some garlic and onions then brown some meat (I used turkey but any ground meat would work, even sausage).  Speaking of sausage (which would be delicious), if not using sausage, don’t forget to season the meat with s&p.

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Cook pasta shells to “al dente.”  Overcooked shells are no bueno.

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In my humble opinion, here’s the key to any savory meat dish.  Add about 1/2 cup of red wine.  It deepens the flavor.  Cook down a few mins. until the wine evaporates.

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Add your favorite jar of tomato sauce or make your own from crushed and diced tomatoes.

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In another bowl, add ricotta, an egg, grated parmesan and romano cheese, and s&p.

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Mix well and add plenty of basil.  You could add fresh parsley here too but I prefer basil.
I actually used basil and some fresh baby spinach leaves.

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Coat the bottom of a baking dish with some of the meat sauce.

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Stuff the shells with the cheese mixture and lay them open side down.  Do not over stuff.  Less is more.

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She sells seashells…

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Cover with more sauce, more parm, and shredded mozzarella  (or fresh mozz slices).

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Bake at 350 for 25 mins. or until good and gooey. 

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Serve with crusty ciabatta or french bread… or Garlic Parmesan Knots!  Why not?! Smile
I don’t have a recipe for this dish.  Hopefully, the pictures and the step by step will be enough. 
Although this dish is a process, it’s an easy one and something that can be made ahead of time and even frozen.
Kids always enjoy eating food that’s shaped like something fun.
This would also be a wonderful meal to take and bless someone with.  Enjoy & Share!  

Garlic Parmesan Knots

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Slathered with goodness and ready to bake.

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Here’s the lovely spread that makes ‘em so good.

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My little helper.

*The only thing not pictured- two cloves of fresh garlic I minced and added to the mix- a must!

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To make this quick and easy, I used this tube of store bought buttermilk biscuits. A definite spurge but we had fish for dinner so I justified it that way. 
I simply rolled each biscuit into a 6 inch stick (back and forth between my hands), tied it in a knot, and tucked the ends under.

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Bake at 400 for 8-10 minutes. Savory, flaky, and buttery… a tasty accompaniment to any meal!
We enjoyed ours with broiled white roughy as well as fresh green beans (I ended up using the same mixture on the fish).
*I used the Jr. sized biscuits so I had smaller knots.  The girls had 3 each!  Feel free to GO BIG.

Garlic Parmesan Knots
1 tube (12 ounces) refrigerated Buttermilk Biscuits (or any bread dough would work, including store bought pizza dough)
EVOO
2 T grated parmesan
1/2 tsp. dried basil (or parsley flakes)
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 minced garlic cloves
*you know me, these are all “rough” measurements

26 July 2011

Set-Apart Swimwear

1950's swimwear

Having just returned from the beach this weekend,  there’s one thing I noticed on the sandy shores…

skin is definitely, still in.

And I’m talking for the “very young”  as well as for the “not so young.”  I saw it all.  I saw babies in bikinis (with diapers hanging out of them) as well as women who would qualify for a senior discount, wearing not only their skimpy 2 piece but also their glorious wrinkles, dangling belly button jewelry, and a boob job.  Huh? 

What ever happened to aging gracefully?

First of all, my Christian sister, this post is not about bashing bikinis (or boob jobs).  I am not judging you if you wear a bikini.  After all, I used to wear them, too.  I know lots of Christian women who do and have decided that that level of modesty is OK for their family.  We have to give women freedom (and time) to make that decision for themselves and extend grace to those that think differently.  

For the last couple of weeks, God has been impressing upon me the reoccurring topic of being “set-apart.”  Set-apart for Christ.  I’ve been wanting to write about it but I just couldn’t get my thoughts in order.  A few days ago, I purchased a new bathing suit that I’m super excited about!  I thought I’d use this topic of swimwear to sort out my thoughts and hopefully, share some encouragement in the modesty department as well.  Hopefully.

Like most women, I have a lot of bathing suits crammed into a drawer.  I’m planning to do a summer cleaning this week and most of them are being tossed out.  So, why a new suit?  I needed one (OK, OK, I’m using that term loosely).  I wanted one for our anniversary cruise that’s coming up in October.  

My requirements- it must fit comfortably and allow me to move, fit in all the right places, cover my goods, be affordable, and of course, it had to be cute!   The interesting thing is, my new suit is by far the most modest and sensible swimsuit I’ve ever owned!  I know, two words that aren’t exactly exciting, but let me assure you, it comes with more freedom and joy than I ever imagined!  I LOVE my new suit!

My fears-

1. That it wouldn’t fit.  I typically don’t do mail order.  I like to try on stuff before I buy it.  Who wants to bother sending it back?

2.  That my hubby wouldn’t like it.  I was afraid of looking, “old and frumpy.” 

My reality-

1.  It fit perfectly!  I’ve honestly never had a suit that fit so well, and in ALL THE RIGHT PLACES, too!

2.  When I modeled it for my family, my husband loved it and said, “Whoa, look at mommy!”  Um, ok.  I’ll take that. Smile

The interesting thing is, when I first put it on, I felt more confident, more me, and more of who God wanted me to be, all in a swimsuit!  And all by being more covered up, not less!  Imagine that.   

To be set apart means that God has His hand on us for a specific purpose.  He guides our lives differently than it might have been, had we not submitted to His call. And even though it may appear that we are not in ministry, we are marked by God to minister in the day to day living.  Being set apart means to be made holy, consecrated to Him.  Christians are given a special role in life to serve Him. We are transferred from the domain of darkness to the Kingdom of Light. We are strangers to this world's system. Instead of thinking and acting like the world, we are set apart from this more common way of viewing and living life and are given a different purpose; which is to serve God and become more like Jesus.

With that being said, I’ve noticed lately that it’s getting more difficult to identify a virtuous, set-apart, Christian woman from a worldly one.

They act, talk, and dress the same. They surround themselves with worldly books, magazines, and TV shows. Their primary source of acceptance and value comes from social media, friends, personal interests, and personal accomplishments.

Again, I’m not judging, I’m simply encouraging us to reassess and perhaps reclaim a new and modern vision towards modesty,  sensibility, and the belief that we are, indeed, set-apart.  I’m using this example of swimwear but I’m actually referring to all aspects of our outward adornment.

It all comes back to our relationship with Christ and realizing who God has made us to be.  Unfortunately, our culture’s standards have been highly compromised.  I believe it stems from two things- trying to please man instead of God and forgetting who God values us to be.  It bothers me when I see young girls wearing everyday clothes, similar to that of a prostitute.  And it should bother you, too.  Our value comes from our Heavenly Father, not in what we look like and whether we’re following the latest trend. 

Are we raising children who value modesty and purity? 

Are we raising children who know their worth in Christ? 

And most importantly, are we modeling that belief ourselves? 

Something I know I need to be on guard about, constantly.

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” ~Romans 12:2 NLT 

Ok, as to not leave you hangin’ here’s what my new suit looks like. Smile 

new swimsuit

Mine is actually brown with a turquoise and coral flowered center.  It has a slight vintage look and feel (which I love).  It’s got a girl-leg cut (covers the bottom and legs more).  It’s very slimming and lifts where it needs to.  The material is also thicker than most suits and made very well.  This style of suit would flatter all sized women.

I found a few modest swimwear sites online but most were well above my price range.  I’m not into spending $100 on a swimsuit.  I paid $34, which was about my limit.

It’ll be perfect for my cruise.  I can play, swim, run, relax, and feel great while doing it. 

I ordered it from BeallsFlorida and it arrived 3 days later. 

"Modesty is not only an ornament, but also a guard to virtue."

24 July 2011

Sand + Sun = Summer FUN!

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Um, that would be Morgan-  pointing out several (3 foot long) leopard sharks in the shallow water.  Turns out they’re harmless. Smile

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Sand crabs galore!

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I love this easy breezy picture of Faith.  She looks like she has a pixie cut, she purposely has peanut butter cookie crumbs all over her lips, her eyes are smiling like half moons, and her signature dimples are as cute as can be.  

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Happiness is… a summer breeze, sand between your toes, and your best friend by your side.

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Sharing an ice cream cone and Faith pretending to be sad.

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Happy again!

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                                             “Our memories of the ocean will linger on,

                                      long after our footprints in the sand are gone.”

                                                                    –Anonymous

 

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