Monthly Archives: September 2009

Fun With Friends

Jonathan and I love trying new food from different cultures and I can honestly tell you we haven’t found one yet that we’ve disliked.  One Sunday evening at Life Group our friend Kelsey was commenting that he was a little hungry because his wife Allison was preparing a Lebanese dish for supper but she hadn’t time to finish it before Life Group began.  Jonathan perked right up and said “Lebanese?  Really?  I’ve never had Lebanese food.”  He and Allison got chatting about the grape leaves dish she had waiting at home and soon my husband was arranging for a lesson in Lebanese cuisine.

It was one of those “oh we should really do that some time” arrangements – the kind that far too often doesn’t eventuate; so we were thrilled when Allison and Kelsey told us a few weeks later that they had been shopping at a Mediterranean market in Atlanta and had purchased enough supplies to make good on their offer to teach us to make stuffed grape grape leaves.  With Jonathan working closing shift at the Chick-Fil-A, it took a couple of weeks to get the time scheduled, but Monday night we had a blast learning and then eating a new food with friends.

Step One: snip the stems from the grape leaves and pile them on a plate.  The mackerdoodle felt the need to pat each leaf as we stacked them.

Step One: snip the stems from the grape leaves and pile them on a plate. The mackerdoodle felt the need to pat each leaf as we stacked them.

Step Two:  Place the meat and rice mixture into the center of the leaf and roll.  Kelsey is demonstrating this to us novices.

Step Two: Place the meat and rice mixture into the center of the leaf and roll. Kelsey is demonstrating this to us novices.

After the demonstration on rolling from Kelsey we got to try to roll them ourselves.  The Mackerdoodle was VERY excited about getting to wrap up little meat presents.

Anyone who knows Allison knows that we spent a lot of time laughing while we learned to roll the leaves, and having a two year old actively involved in the process made for a great deal of entertainment as well.   When the wrapping began to take too long, she just scooped up raw meat and handed it out to anyone with an empty leaf.   While the “grape leaf wrapped meat presents” cooked in the pressure cooker we ate hummus and pita and then ate the grape leaves themselves.

I haven’t had so much fun cooking in a really long time, and the fellowship was just as sweet as the tea.  Thanks for a great evening and an excellent supper Kelsey and Allison!


Nana and Papa have come to play . . .

Well, my absence from the blogging world has been caused by my very active presence in the real one.  My mom and dad drove down from Canada to visit us for a couple of weeks and the mackerdoodle has been soaking up the attention.  She has done so many cute things this week that I can’t even remember them all but what I hope I will remember for a long time is the sound of her bright voice from the very back seat of our van saying “Papa, I back here wif you!” and my dad grinning, tweaking her nose and saying “Uh huh.  You are.”

From the minute her feet hit the floor in the morning until seconds before she falls asleep in the evening (once or twice even after) she’s saying “Nana?  Papa?”  They have read stories to her, and played with her.  Nana has taken her to the potty and given her baths, and Papa has swung her in the air and put her on his shoulders.  We haven’t done much in the way of sight seeing, but every moment has been a vacation for my little girl.  To add to the excitement, Aunty Melissa sent some hand me down toys and books with Nana and Papa, so those rare moments when Nana and Papa are both unavailable, there are new toys to explore and new books to discover.

Don’t for one minute believe that the cheesedoodle is a passive participant in this whole thing!  The little guy has broken out the charm and giggles and has managed to completely delight both of his grandparents.  There is nothing like an open mouthed, toothless baby smile to melt a heart and the cheesedoodle has been handing them out like they grow on trees – or in fact his adorable baby face.

I had been missing family more in the last three months than I have ever missed family in my life, and having my mom and dad here has been a sweet salve on my chapped heart.  Having two people love my kids as much as I do is added blessing.

Ladies, Step to the Scales

Well, this is it.  That little weight loss challenge between friends is at a close and I’m still in maternity wear, so I’m not pleased with my results.

Here’s how we’ll work it:  send me an e-mail with your weight for this week and your weight for the week of July 8th if you didn’t send it to me then.  We’ll do the percentages and declare a winner next week.

The Aftermath

Well, I talked myself off the ledge about my “real estate home invasion” last night, and by this morning had developed a “well at least someone wanted to see the home” attitude about it all.  I had even thanked the Lord for bringing someone and he reminded me that the woman who ended up buying our home in middle Georgia walked through the house while Jonathan was in the midst of snaking something mysterious from one of the bathroom drains.

But tonight I have determined that if another Realtor pulls that stunt I’m going to, in the words of MY Realtor (who is awesome), lock the doors and move the couch.  I’m going to do it because from the moment my mackerdoodle set foot in the tub until the second she fell asleep, she has been terrified that someone was about to walk through the door.  She sat on my lap and stared out the front picture window.  She didn’t want to walk through the living room to her bedroom.  She CERTAINLY didn’t want me to leave her brother in the living room while I tucked her in (as is my normal evening routine).

She looked up at me with big eyes and said “Daddy?  Safe.”  I asked her if Daddy made her feel safe and she nodded.  When I explained that Daddy was at work, she said “Papa?  Safe.”  I hugged her and rocked her and let her hold the baby’s hand  in her bed until he kicked and rolled from the discomfort of her iron grasp.  I don’t know if she was protecting him, or if he was protecting her, but I have a feeling it was the latter.  I did everything I could think off to re-assure her, but in the end I had to conclude that even a potential (and hypothetical) full price offer with no closing costs isn’t worth putting my daughter through this sort of insecurity in her own home.

The worst part of it is that her staring out the window has given me the heebeejeebies and now I’m sitting here regretting that Jonathan had to sell all of his hunting rifles and my Glock 9mm and saying to the Lord, “Daddy?  Safe.”

Bizarre Moments in the Real Estate Market

Does anyone remember this Century 21 commercial where a woman has one kid in the tub and another bouncing on a bed full of laundry behind her; the phone rings and it’s a Realtor calling from her driveway?  I remember watching it and thinking “What sort of Realtor would do that?”  Well, today I met him.

It was like the commercial.  The mackerdoodle was in the tub and the cheesedoodle was in his Bumbo seat on the bathroom floor and because it was almost bed time, he began to cry when I had to step over him to find my telephone.  I picked up the phone and the cheesedoodle in two simultaneous motions, resulting in me answering the telephone with my son’s wail.  After I settled him down enough to hear the man on the telephone, I stepped away from my splashing daughter into the living room where I saw the man to whom I was speaking, sitting in my driveway.

I told him that my daughter was in the bath tub and that the remains of supper were sitting on the kitchen counter and that right now was NOT a good time.  He told me that he’d give me five minutes to get my daughter out of the tub and then they’d be coming in.  He wasn’t kidding either.  Five minutes later, while I was still pulling her pajamas over her head, the front door opened and after asking if there were any pets to watch for, they breezed in and out in less time than it took me to read Dr. Seuss ABC.  They didn’t even go upstairs or into my bedroom, and without so much as a “good bye” or a business card, they were gone again.

I know that God can use anything.  I sort of wish I knew what He was going to use this for.  Oh well.  At least someone looked at the house.

Pardon the Crumbs and Mumbling

I sincerely apologize if a few crumbs fall out of your monitor and onto your shirt as you read this post, but I am in the midst of devouring the most DELICIOUS loaf of crusty sourdough bread.  The kind that has a crust so crunchy it almost (but not quite) hurts your mouth as you bite into it and an inside that’s chewy and springy and tasty.  It’s the bread bowl sort of bread, the kind I thought could only be purchased in a good bakery with thousands of dollars of equipment until my friend Roberta blogged about this recipe for no knead bread.   I tried it, and let me say that if I can achieve this level of breadliciousness, ANYONE can achieve breadvana.

It’s not an easy recipe in the sense that you have to know when you start to mix the ingredients what you’ll be doing in 20 hours; however time does most of the work.  Each step takes less than 15 minutes, and that’s about what I can handle at this stage in my life.  I didn’t have cast iron, but I used my ceramic baking dishes that have been used one other time in the fourteen years since I unwrapped them as wedding gifts.  They have just become my favorite cooking implements.

Now there is a large contingency of readers staring at their monitors saying “Coralie is blogging about baking bread?” and in a big way I’m wondering the same thing.  In the last three months I’ve made coconut milk fudge from scratch (without a candy thermometer), made Thai peanut sauce for pork chops, developed a pretty passable roux technique for soups and stews, made my own gumbo . . . in short, I’ve become someone the me of three or four years ago would barely recognize.

It started about a year ago when my mackerdoodle was diagnosed with her milk allergy.  I remember standing in my kitchen going through the staples of my pantry – spice mixes, gravy mixes, pre-boxed meals of all kinds, and 90% or more had some type of milk product in it.  Within a few hours I realized that I had to re-think my entire approach to providing food for my family.  It’s been a bit of a journey, and I’ve had some SPECTACULAR failures along the way – including BOTH birthday cakes.  I’ve learned a lot from my amateur chef husband, and I’ve also learned a lot from watching the cooking shows on TV.  I realized that it isn’t about memorizing a lot of different recipes, it’s about learning a few techniques and few rules of thumb that can apply to a lot of different ingredients.

So here I am, a year later, making no knead bread in ceramic pots and wondering a little how I got here.  But I can’t keep wondering.  I’ve got to make up the borscht for lunch tomorrow – I think I’ll add garbanzo beans and bacon.  It will go well with the crusty bread – if there’s any left by then.

Encouragement and Exhortation in a Handy Portable Size

I may have mentioned once or twice how much I love listening to Neal Boortz on AM radio.  The fact is that when I’m working around the house I prefer talk radio to music most of the time, but Neal is only on three hours each weekday, and I can’t handle extended periods of most of the other talk guys.  Being at home full time now, I’ve been trying to find something to fill in my Neal free hours.

I know in theory that voices (such as preaching, or these new fangled things called “pod casts”) can be put onto MP3 players, I just hadn’t thought about actually doing it myself until Jonathan, in preparation for his sermon this Sunday, began listening to different sermons by different preachers on his passage.  Thursday was the fourth day in the week that he had a sermon playing as we went about getting him ready for work.  I asked him where he kept finding all of these sermons.

“The MP3 library.”  he answered.  I had no idea it even existed, and when I began to look at their thousands of available free MP3 downloads, I came across a section entitled “Sermons for Women” containing almost 500 sermons just for women.  An excellent resource to fill my Neal free hours and to help me meditate on the things of God.

I’ve downloaded five, and already listened to two, both of which I would like to listen to again; but the one that hit me straight between the eyes, and one I think all Christian women should listen to, is:  How Have We Been Influenced By Feminists by Martha Peace.  The beginning of the message is a history of feminism, most of which I already knew, but in the last half of the talk she takes phrases that Christian women use, shows how they have their roots in feminism and humanism and uses scripture to give the Lord’s truth to counteract them.  As someone who considers herself a proud anti-feminist, I was convicted at the feminist/humanist thoughts and phrases I have allowed to slip into my life. I recommend it highly.

And now I’m going to listen to some Susan Hunt talks on discipleship.  Definitely better than Rush Limbaugh, don’t you think?