Friday, November 21, 2008

T minus 1

Moving. Tomorrow. Yuck.
I really have been meaning to record this part of our know, the technical part. But between friends that are here, friends on the phone, friends that are experiencing the SAME thing, and my dear, patient, ever ready to lend an ear family, I have told the story so many times I just can't find the energy to TYPE IT OUT. The short version (skipping the sad and painful parts) is this: the company Dave worked for was acquired. He works for the new people and his new office is an hour away from our current abode. This lease is up, we are moving closer. Moving for the third time in 1 1/2 years. New apartment is small. (interesting side note...we keep decreasing in square footage: House in KC=2200 Portland=1560 Houston#1=1300 Houston#2-1160 AHH!) New lease is only 3 months. Thank goodness.
I don't love the technical side of things. But where one door closes, new and exciting doors open. I truly hope and look forward to this spring which promises to bring changes I can get happy about. And in the meantime, I am packing boxes once more and dreaming about all the things I will cook for Thanksgiving, and how I will decorate my table. I am scrubbing down this apartment right now, but arranging the Christmas tree decor in my head and thinking about traveling home for the holidays. And when I get to that tiny apartment we will call home for 3 months, with its boring white appliances and checkered vinyl kitchen floor, I will be thinking about all the beautiful colors and surfaces I would choose for my own house.
Sometimes setbacks highlight all the things in which we have to be grateful. (or is it just Thanksgiving time?) Either way, I feel watched over. We're healthy. Our family is growing. I love my husband. Really, really love him. I feel secure in this financially crazy time. And I have pretty awesome friends, all over the country.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Comment to Remember

(My Dad posted this comment a couple days ago after reading my "Bitter and Sweet" entry. I wanted to publish read and remember. I'd never heard this story before, and I know my dad was generous in restricting his description of my emotions to "extremely". haha. I was a dramatic kid. The concept of eternal families is beautiful.)

I remember 23 years ago I was out in the yard when my very young impressionable little girl came crying to me EXTREMELY upset and hurt that a neighbor friend had taken her tricycle from her. I was anxious, feeling very inadequate, what do I do? How do I help my little girl understand? Then it happened, a wave of peace and clarity came over me. I explained that it was the right thing to do to let him play with her tricycle, that the little boy didn't understand and that Heavenly Father is looking at you right now and is you see? My little girl looked up and for what seemed an eternity stared up into the sky. I thought it was a cute little trick but what happened next I will never forget as long as I live. I was overcome with joy and felt as sacred an experience as I've ever had, as I watch my little girl watching Him, I knew I had witnessed....Tara, as parents our biggest fan, our constant support, our ever vigilant coach is our Heavenly Father. There is NOT a greater work to do for those who are blessed to do so than to raise his children. No one makes more mistakes than a parent, no one forgives more than a little child, and absolutely no one is given more divine assistance to succeed than a willing and patient parent.God bless you my little girl.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tag x 2

(I can't get over his "super hero" face...and by the way, he won't hardly TAKE a picture anymore without shooting his spiderman webs)
I LOVE reading tags...I'm just a bit slow in completing them myself
6 quirky things about me

1. The latch on the gas tank door of my car gets stuck (umm, every time). Its the kind that has to be popped open from a button inside the car, you can't open it manually. Sooooo, I have to stand on one leg and use my other toe to push the door while simultaneously reaching with my hand and pushing the button inside the drivers side door. Picture a low arabesque (everyone remember back to your ballet class). Except it's not so pretty at the gas station. Just weird.
2. I don't love air conditioning. Only when necessary for survival...I think it smells funny.
3. I take off ALL my jewelry when I'm home (including my wedding ring) only because I just don't like how it feels to be wearing it.

4. And maybe that's why I didn't get my ears pierced until I was 23. I wanted to wear cute earrings at my sister's wedding (my own wedding?...I guess not) that and maybe the 4th graders I was teaching told me they thought it was very strange that I didn't have my ears pierced. Sheesh, peer pressure.
5. My favorite job (before teaching of course) was also the worst job I had. Baker at Einstein Bros Bagels...summer before college. I ADORED baking all the bagels, muffins, bread and cookies...setting up the salad line, sandwich line and cream cheeses...brewing all the coffee. Ohh the smells... SO FUN. I love "setting up" and arranging all the food. I drank an almond steamer each morning. I HATED that I had to be there at 3 am...all by myself until 5:30 am when the manager would come in. So scary to be 18 and open a store in the middle of the night by yourself. I NEVER felt safe. Sometimes David would drive to the store in his little red pickup and sleep in the parking lot until the manager would show up. love that guy!

6. I love nightstands. Aesthetically: I cute that they get to hold lamps, clocks, candles, flowers and such! Practically: how awesome is it to plop your book down when you're tired, throw your pony tail holder on it or set a glass of water?

That was fun! Thanks Missy! I tag : Abbie, Christy, Erin, Lindsay and Margaret

Ok, Natalie came up with the Dinner tag...this concept I love! I mean, who doesn't love tried and true recipes from friends? 5 to be exact!

Homemade Granola

(Please imagine how AMAZING this smells baking at 8:30 am...let me tell you...not as good as EATING it at 9:00 am! By the way you can basically add or subtract any ingredients...what do YOU like in your granola)

Mix in bowl and set aside:
6 c. oatmeal

2 c. shredded coconut
1 c. powdered milk
1/2 c. nuts (I like almonds, pecans, walnuts)
1/2 tsp. salt
**1 c. Rice Krispies
**1 c. raisins
**flax seed

Mix well...and pour over ingredients:
1 c. honey

1 c. oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract

Bake (a little at a time...I do two batches) on a cookie sheet (with sides) at 350. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.
** add chocolate chips, peanut butter chips after granola is out of oven, but still warm
(**ingredients are optional...but not for me! :)

Sassy Black Bean Soup

(EASY, ECONOMICAL, DUMP and HEAT recipe shared by my momma)

1 TB olive oil

1 c chopped onion
2 garlic cloves minced
2 cans black beans, drained
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can chicken broth
1/2 c. salsa verde (original recipe calls for picante sauce...use the me)
1/4 c. water
1 tsp ground cumin
2 TB lime juice

Heat oil, add onion and garlic...saute for 5 minutes. Stir in beans and next 5 ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in lime juice.

(garnish with, you know...whatever...I like sour cream)

Grilled Open-face ham, brie, and arugula sandwiches

(SHUT UP these are so good...the bitter arugula dressed with tangy lemon combined with sweet brie and ham on warm toasted mouth is watering) Oh yeah, the recipe calls for grilling the bread, which would be divine, but we had to give up our grill in the move and I've tried these "grilled" on the nicely too. eat them. eat them. (oh yeah, it makes 20 halve the recipe...but who am I kidding, sometimes, I don't)

1/4 c. olive oil, plus more for grilling bread

Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
20 slices (1/2 to 3/4 in. thick) ciabatta (1 loaf)
1 lb brie cheese, cut into 1/4 by 2 in. slices
3/4 lb ham, thinly sliced
About 1/2 lb arugula, washed and spun dry

1. Put 1/4 c olive oil, the lemon juice and zest, garlic, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste in a blender and pulse to combine.

2. Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium heat. Brush oil on both sides of bread and put on grill; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill 2 minutes. Turn over, top with cheese, close lid, and grill until cheese melts, 1-2 minutes.

3. Top cheese evenly with ham. In a large bowl, toss arugula with vinaigrette and arrange a handful on each sandwich. Drizzle remaining vinaigrette over sandwiches.

Halibut in Parchment

(an oh-so-good Martha recipe...I use all kinds of white fish in this recipe, tilapia..whatever is on sale honestly)

Serves 2
1 large russet potato, scrubbed and sliced 1/8 in. thick

1 clove garlic, finely chopped ( I use 2)
2 oz baby spinach, well washed (I use more)
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
Two 6-ounce halibut fillets, about 1 1/2 inches thick
Course salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using two 12 by 17-inch sheets of parchment paper, fold each sheet in half crosswise.

2. Place 1 sheet of parchment flat on a work surface. Place half of the potatoes, garlic, spinach, shallots and 4 lemon slices on once side of crease; season with salt and pepper. Place halibut on top of lemon slices, and season with salt and pepper. Fold parchment over ingredients. Make small overlapping folds along the edge to seal.

3. Place packets on a baking sheet. Bake until packets have puffed, and fish is cooked through, about 18 minutes. Transfer packets to individual plates. Serve immediately, opening packets at the table. Garnish with any remaining lemon slices.
Pumpkin Pecan Pie Squares
(and finally, because it's November, and because I made these last night and could take a picture, and because I love them)
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. old-fashioned oats
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1 can (15 oz) Pumpkin
1 can (12 fl. oz) evaporated milk
2 large eggs
2 1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 c. chopped pecans
1/4 c. brown sugar
Whipped Cream (please...the real stuff...ummm)
PREHEAT oven to 350
COMBINE flour, oats, brown sugar and butter in small bowl. Beat at low speed until crumbly. Press on bottom of ungreased 13x9 inch baking pan.
BAKE 15 minutes.
COMBINE granulated sugar, pumpkin, milk, eggs, and pie spice in large mixer bowl. Beat at medium speed 1 to 2 minutes; pour over crust.
BAKE 20 minutes. Combine pecans and brown sugar in small bowl. Sprinkle pecan topping over filling. Continue baking 15 to 25 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan. Top with whipped cream.

Thanks Natalie! (I hope a couple of these count as gluten-free!)

I wish EVERYONE would play along with this tag! (please) but whenever you say "everyone or anyone"...that translates to no one. So I'm gonna single you out! :)

I tag Brittany, Isaura, Katherine (both of you), Nicole, Sarah, Lisa, Alissa....seriously...I want you all to play!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Houston Halloween: eating chili in 80 degree weather

No one needed to tell my kids how to trick or treat this year. They were pros. Lily was so thrilled with the big orange Tootsie Roll Pop she received at the first house, that at each subsequent stop she would stand on the doorstep, rummage through her bag to find it and hold it up while pronouncing, "TA-DA!" I think it got her extra candy. Although Zach was a little tired (and therefore cranky) the night of Halloween, it still made an impression. Yesterday, while I was tucking him into bed he asked, "Mom, when can we go trick or treating again?" and when I told him we'd have to wait until next year, he looked a little contemplative and said, "Yeah, I guess so, but it is a great great day!"