Saturday, March 31, 2012


My little pixie Jacinta turned two yesterday.

Of course, I had to take a few moments to reminisce about how much she has changed (and stayed the same) in the last two years.


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She’s still my laid back, go-with-the-flow gal who cruises through the day in her own chill way. And somehow, despite that, she is also prone to some outrageous episodes of drama. As we like to say, the drama goes from 0-60 in no time flat!

She is definitely a little girl, running around and playing with her sister and cousins. You wouldn’t ever guess that her arm was broken at birth. I’m very thankful for the doctors who helped us through that unusual experience.

Though she babbles incessantly there still isn’t much in the way of recognizable words. They are creeping in slowly but surely. She knows “please” and “thank you” and of course “Mama” and “Dada”. The unfortunate phrase “Go away!” makes frequent appearances. A variety of body parts and animal names. She said her cousin’s name crystal clear the other night, too. So we are making progress, just slowly.


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We had a little family get-together to celebrate last weekend.


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I made this lion cake, which reveals all it’s asymmetry at this angle.


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It was a hit, partly because it was a lion and partly because it had fire on it.


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It even had a surprise inside!


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Daddy helped her to get to the good stuff. She’s still a little too gentle for unwrapping presents. Though I’m sure Veronica would have been happy to help if she’d been allowed.


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Uncle Tyler took some time to point out all the animals to her. Yesterday, we got to play zoo with them.


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Aunt Bridget spent some time holding Ariadne on her convenient baby-holding shelf. Not too much longer until Brian, Jr. makes his appearance.


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She also spent some time showing Jacinta one of her new coloring books.


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Peter made sure he was decked out for the occasion.


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My grandpa even got to be there, which was very fun and special. Even if we had to restrain a tired Jacinta to get a picture.


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He kept the kids entertained in a way only grandpas can.


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My mom got some Ariadne time. Two gorgeous girls!


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And here is another! Boy, does she know how to pose for the camera.


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I’m not sure what is going on in this picture. But Veronica is obviously enjoying whatever she is inflicting on John Paul.


Thank goodness for candle blowing helpers!

Happy Birthday, Jacinta! I thank God for you every single day.

Even the ones with drama.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Night of the Living Dead Christian

night of the living dead christianThe newest book from Matt Mikalatos, Night of the Living Dead Christian is a comedic journey to discover what it really means to be a Christian. Is it enough to just say you believe? Or must your life actually be transformed by that belief?

I’ve always felt that it couldn’t possibly be enough to just say the words. If I really believe that Jesus is God become man to save us from sin, if I really believe in the things that he taught, then the way I live my life should reflect this. Jesus calls us to live in a radical way – to put Him first, to love our neighbor, to reject the false promises of the world. My life should be transformed as I seek to pick up my own cross and follow Him, even if the best I can do isn’t perfect (and believe me, it isn’t), even if I have to turn to Him day after day after day for help and forgiveness.

Matt tackles these questions in a unique way - through the medium of monsters. Zombies, werewolves, vampires, you name it. The story follows the main character, Matt himself, as he investigates strange happenings in his neighborhood that turn out to be caused by a variety of horrors. It’s an effective way to describe different traps that a Christian might fall into – the mindless acceptance of a particular person’s brand of Christianity, letting emotions rule or not letting them show at all, or being the one who has to fix everything. And in the process Matt not only gets to know some of his monster neighbors, but finds out a bit about himself as well.

The result is a fun, easy read that entertains while making you think – a good combination of laughing and pondering. And in the back of the book, Matt provides a convenient self-diagnosing monster guide. Are you a monster?

Don’t forget to visit the rest of the tour:

Gillian Adams - Julie Bihn - Red Bissell - Thomas Clayton Booher - Thomas Fletcher Booher - Keanan Brand - Beckie Burnham - Morgan L. Busse - Theresa Dunlap - Amber French - Tori Greene - Nikole Hahn - Ryan Heart - Bruce Hennigan - Janeen Ippolito - Becky Jesse - Jason Joyner - Carol Keen - Leighton - Shannon McDermott - Rebecca LuElla Miller - Nissa - Joan Nienhuis - John W. Otte - Crista Richey - Sarah Sawyer - Chawna Schroeder - Rachel Starr Thomson - Steve Trower - Fred Warren - Shane Werlinger - Nicole White - Dave Wilson

Disclaimer: In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Loving Lentils

For reasons of both health and finance, we’ve been trying to cut back on meat a bit and replace it with other proteins. This week I tried two new recipes featuring lentils.


Brown Lentils with Kale and Rice

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I had some kale from Bountiful Baskets last weekend and thought that seemed like it would go well with lentils. After perusing some recipes that contained both lentils and kale, I cobbled this together.

  • 1 cup dry lentils
  • 2 Tb olive oil
  • 4 scallions, sliced thin
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 orange sweet chile, finely diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground oregano
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1 bunch of kale, shredded or torn into bite size pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • juice of 1 lemon

Boil the lentils until tender, about 20 minutes. Heat olive oil in a large skilet over medium, add scallions and garlic and cook for a minute or two. Add chile and tomato, stir and cook for several more minutes. Add spices, then kale, and cook until wilted. When the lentils are tender, drain and add them to the skillet and squeeze the lemon juice on top. Serve over rice.


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The verdict

Me: Scrumptious! I thought it was very tasty, with an almost Indian flair. I ate leftovers for lunch twice this week.

Kids: They both ate second helpings!

Paul: It was just okay. He thinks this is because he’s not a big fan of rice.

Despite that…I will be making this again. Tasty, frugal and filled with nutrients makes this mama happy. I think it goes great with the rice, but I may try pairing it with potatoes and see if Paul likes it any better.


Brown Lentil Tacos

While it may sound less than appetizing, this worked out surprisingly well. I don’t have a precise recipe (or a picture), I just replaced the ground beef with cooked lentils and made it all up like I usually do.

  • 1 cup dry lentils
  • 1 small can tomato sauce
  • 2 Tb taco spice
  • 1 can refried beans
  • taco shells
  • shredded cheese
  • diced tomato
  • sliced black olives
  • sliced scallion
  • shredded cabbage (or lettuce)
  • Sour cream
  • Tapatio

Boil the lentils until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain, then place in a medium saucepan with the tomato sauce. Heat over medium low and add taco spice. Meanwhile, heat refried beans and prepare other fillings. When everything is heated, toss it all into some taco shells and enjoy!

The verdict

Me: Scrumptious again! I could barely tell they were made with lentils and not ground beef. They tasted great and were extremely satisfying.

Kids: They again had second helpings. I think that is mandatory with tacos.

Paul: Good! He said while it wasn’t exactly the same, he didn’t feel like he was missing out by not having beef.

Success! We’ll be doing that again as well. You could even go half and half with the lentils and beef if the thought of meatless tacos sounds wrong to you. Either way, I think the key is having a really great taco spice that packs a lot of flavor.

Our lentil experiments went very well this week. I wish I could say that for all of my kitchen experiments. But at least this encourages me to keep trying new things!

Any tasty lentil recipes out there?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Party Bunting


We are having a small party to celebrate Jacinta’s 2nd birthday this weekend. I can’t believe my little Cinta doll is going to be 2!! Wait, yes I can. The drama has definitely been pointing that direction.

In any case, I was looking for decoration ideas that would be both cute and frugal, and remembered seeing homemade bunting somewhere on the interwebs. Google produced a variety of different ways to tackle the project, and I settled on making some paper bunting hung on spare kite string we have had lying around. I don’t know where the kite string came from, but hey, it came in handy so I can’t complain.

First things first, I hung the string on the wall to see what length I would be working with, and cut it. I ended up with about 30 feet to cover the space I wanted, give or take a couple feet.


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I wanted to maximize the 12 inch scrapbook paper I was using, so I decided to cut triangles that were 4 inches across the top. That gave me 10 triangles per sheet of paper. Using fancy maths, I deduced I would need about 60 triangles to get the spacing that I wanted (approximately 2 inches) when I hung them on the string.

I picked out 6 fun papers that went together reasonably well, then folded one in half like so. If your paper is directional, like stripes, make sure they are facing the direction you want when you fold!

Using our classiest ruler, I marked along one long edge at 2 inches, 6 inches and 10 inches, then along the other edge at 4 inches and 8 inches.


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Then I connected the marks and cut along the lines. The triangles that were on the fold also needed to be cut apart.


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Once I had all my papers cut, I folded the top down just a bit to make a space for the string.

Then I wondered how that remote for an old DVD player got in with my scrapbook supplies. The world may never know.


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Then I turned on a movie and got back to folding. Fold fold fold!

Missed a step! I also clipped the corners where they overlapped in the front.


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When the folding is done, it’s time to attach the pennants (because I decided in the last step that they had become pennants, not mere triangles anymore) to the string. But first I had to untangle my string, which was lying in a heap on the table instead of nicely wound around something. Don’t be like me. Your crafting will go faster.


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Some people used glue to secure their pennants to their hanging medium, but I decided to go with tape because it seemed faster and less messy. I lined up a few pennants along the string and stuck on a piece of tape to hold the fold down. Repeat, repeat, repeat.


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Taping instead of gluing gave me the ability to slide the pennants around on the string if I needed to change the spacing a bit, since the string was only strung through the fold, not attached to the paper. That came in handy around the corners and the apexes (apices?) of the curves, since my maths were only approximate and not exact.


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And one party decoration down!

It’s hard to gauge exactly how much time I spent since I grabbed a bit of time here and there throughout the day, but it couldn’t have been more than a couple of hours from start to finish. Maybe a little longer because I fiddled with the pennant spacing a little more than necessary. Perfectionism can be a hard burden to bear.

I have a few more fun decoration ideas, so we’ll see if they pan out this week.

Monday, March 19, 2012


Since it’s Girl Scout Cookie season, I’ve seen a lot of tasty homemade cookie recipes on Pinterest. I decided to try one.


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I liked the idea of making them as bars to save time, but I wanted to see what would happen if I tried making them in muffin tins. I figured it would be a little faster than rolling and cutting the shortbread dough, and would keep all the layers nice and tidy. So that’s what I did.


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I pressed the cookie dough into the tins and baked them. I used two muffin pans for a total of twenty-four cookies, but they came out a little thick. I think I’d try to spread it out more next time, or halve the recipe.


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While the dough was cooling, I toasted the coconut and made up this caramel sauce to use in place of the caramel candies. I halved the recipe, which was good because I burned the first batch. Yuck. If you try it this way, be sure to keep a close eye on the stove , keep the heat on the lower side, and stir almost constantly. Burned sweetened condensed milk smells nasty.

After mixing the coconut and caramel, I pressed the topping into the tins on top of the cookie. It seemed at first like it didn’t want to stick to the cookie, but they stayed together pretty well once they set.


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Then it was time for chocolate. I melted some chocolate chips and started dipping.


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The chocolate tended to form a thick layer on the bottom, so I scraped each one against the side of the bowl as I dipped them. It worked pretty well.


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Then I drizzled a little chocolate over the tops, and stuck them in the fridge for the chocolate to set. Not the prettiest cookies out there, but they sure tasted good.

You can see that little guy on the left has an extra chocolate layer between the cookie and coconut. That’s because he came apart when I pulled him out of the tin, and I had to glue him back together. I saved him. Then I ate him.

So while I like how the muffin pans worked out, they were definitely on the thick side. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I may try to get them a little thinner next time.

These cookies freeze really well, which makes it easy to pull out just a few at a time. Just be prepared for some chocolate beards and mustaches if you feed them to kids.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

I departed a little from our usual corned beef and cabbage St. Patty’s tradition in favor of something a little simpler. It was just me and the girls at home since Paul was at the Renaissance Festival promoting greyhound adoption with the hounds. And it was just one of those days! You know the kind I mean. So I give you our St. Patty’s dinner:


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Cloverleaf rolls, made from this potato bread recipe formed into the shape of a clover as per these instructions.

And Colcannon, thrown together using this recipe and this recipe. If only we had had bacon…


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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

29 Forever

It was my birthday on Monday! I have finally reached that point where I will no longer have to remember my age. If someone asks, I can just answer 29…forever!


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With dinner there was this yummy margarita that Paul made with fresh lime, orange simple syrup and a touch of maraschino cherry juice. Yum!


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I got to use the red Special Occasion plate that we got for Christmas from the other local Greenes. Yay!


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Though it didn’t keep my burrito from falling apart. Part overfilling, and part crispy tortilla. Homemade tortillas take practice. How much practice remains to be seen.


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Paul had to fold his in half. It wouldn’t roll.


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The messes were not confined to just our plates, unfortunately.


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But despite that, it was a tasty dinner with the best company.


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Happy Birthday to Me!