Monday, October 31, 2011

Our House is not Childproof

One of my highlights over the past few months is a group of women I cook with. We have been getting together about once a month, at different houses, and I’ve enjoyed these dates immensely. All of the women in the group except me are from either Guatemala or Mexico, which means that I’ve been learning to cook many delicious foods that I’d never previously heard of.

Many of these foods, as delicious as they are, I will never try again because they are deep fried in oil which:

1) seems especially unhealthy to me and

2) scares me. (Picture me working as a cook for a camp. Picture me and one of the other cooks making lunch one day: hush puppies fried in oil and fish fried in oil. Picture us both with our backs turned for a minute – a minute. Picture ceiling-high flames. Picture a lot of baking soda everywhere. Picture all of the hungry campers eating leftover pea soup and lukewarm hotdogs. Enough said.)

In any case, I do enjoy these cooking dates, as much for the company and the chance to practice Spanish as for the food.

Last night it was my turn to host our little group. I think I have to put quite a bit more brainpower into getting ready to have the group to my house, and that is because I am the only woman in the group who does not have children. Therefore, my house is the only house in the group that is neither child-friendly nor childproof before the ladies come.

I thought hard. “Toys!” I thought. “They will bring their kids, so I should have some toys available.” So I borrowed some toys from the library story hour supplies. And as an extra flair, I checked out some board books from the library for the kids to look at.

“DVDs!” I thought. So I tied the door handles to our DVD cupboard together so no little ones could get in there to play.

“Chocolate!” I hid the bowl of chocolate that normally sits on our coffee table in our bedroom.

“Books!” I took most of the books that would be in reach and hid those in the bedroom as well.

In spite of my careful preparation, these are a few things I learned from having a toddler in our house last night:

1) Carpet in the kitchen is always bad idea. Carpet in the kitchen is an especially bad idea when eating chili. With toddlers. Who want to feed themselves.

2) Chocolate desserts are probably also not a good idea when toddlers are in the fully-carpeted house, especially when they may make a mad dash with a fistful of it.

3) We will not have glass coasters when we have toddlers. Even though they survived one night, they were used as cymbals more than once. I don’t think they will be asked to survive years of toddlers.

4) Heavy glasses are not suitable beverage holders for toddlers.

5) Yarn tied around door handles, even when the yarn is knotted, is not enough to fend off a persistent toddler.

6) Magnets look delicious and therefore must all be tasted. Magnets should be out of reach of toddlers unless they are meant to go in mouths.

7) Everything that is just out of reach but still in sight is probably the most interesting thing a toddler could possibly find to play with and must therefore be reached, no matter the cost.

8) Crayons are for eating. According to toddlers.

9) Food that is not available to be eaten at a given time should not be on eye level with toddlers, even when the food happens to be raw potatoes or seasonings.

10) Candles in glass jars on the coffee table? Mmm-mmm. Nope.

I learned a lot.

Our house simply is not yet childproof.

“But,” I told Mark last night as we scrubbed chocolate goo off the cupboard doors and picked up stray beans and rice crispies, “I haven’t changed my mind about wanting one.”

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese

“Be thankful for the little things,” is, of course, very good advice.

One of the little things for which I am thankful for today is our oven. It’s not a very pretty oven at the moment, not very clean, but it has this wonderful feature: a ‘timed bake’ setting. I can put a dish in my oven, set the oven to turn on at a certain time, on a certain temperature, and stop baking at a certain time.

Probably many people have ovens like this, but my family never had one while I was growing up, so I am still relishing the novelty of coming home from work to a casserole bubbling in the oven.

In theory, that is how the ‘timed bake’ setting works, but because I had been distracted this morning, I remembered to set the timer on the oven, but forgot to switch it from ‘off’ to ‘timed bake.’ So, when I got home from work, the oven was ‘off’ and my macaroni and cheese was stone cold.

That was OK, though, because Thursday nights are usually my non-busy nights. And I was so excited about what was in the oven that nothing could puncture my buoyancy.

You see, I was not just eating macaroni and cheese tonight; I was going to be eating Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese. Because it is fall. And one of the best ways to celebrate fall is with pumpkin. (Even if the pumpkin puree used is actually part of last year’s pumpkin that has been sitting in the freezer for a year.) Due to the unusual mix of ingredients, I was eager to see how it would turn out.

It turned out delicious.


I could hardly taste the pumpkin at all in this dish. I can’t decide if that made me happy or sad, but either way, this dish opened up in my mind all kinds of doors for sneaking pureed vegetables into casseroles, especially for picky eaters like my brother and my dad. Why not pureed broccoli? Or pureed cooked spinach?

I now enjoy delightful fantasies of inviting my picky-eating brother and dad over for dinner sometime. Unbeknown to them, as they make polite conversation and compliment our culinary achievements, they will be ingesting all manner of fiber, vitamins, and minerals that their bodies don’t normally get!

I am so excited.

Anyway, I would like to share the recipe with you. I pulled it out of the Better Homes and Gardens October magazine:

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

2 c. dried elbow macaroni
2 T. butter
2 T. all-uprpose flour
1 c. whipping cream*
1 c. whole milk*
4 oz. Fontina cheese, shredded (1 cup)*
1 15-oz. can pumpkin
1 T. snipped fresh sage or ½ t. dried leaf sage, crushed
½ c. soft bread crumbs
½ c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 c. chopped walnuts
1 T. olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta in a large pot following package directions; drain. Return to pot.

2. In medium saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour, ½ t. salt, and ½ t. black pepper. Add cream and milk all at once. Cook and stir over medium heat until slightly thickened and bubbly. Stir in Fontina, pumpkin, and sage until cheese is melted. Stir sauce into pasta. Transfer to ungreased 2-quart rectangular baking dish.

3. In bowl, combine bread crumbs, Parmesan, nuts, and oil; sprinkle over pasta. Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes or until bubbly and top is golden. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with sage.

*We did use the whipping cream and whole milk this time, but next time we’re going to try it with a less heavy option (probably our standard 1% milk, maybe some half and half.) We did not use the Fontina cheese because it’s kind of expensive. We used some shredded Colby-jack and shredded parmesan.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Practicing to be Pet Owners

Even though Husband and I are absolutely blessed by our little rental house, one thing about it makes me sad: we are not allowed to have pets.


Husband grew up with a collie and then later a golden retriever, and he would really like to replicate that experience at some point in our marriage.

I only ever had cats. As in, I had two cats but also had countless cat posters plastered to my bedroom walls.

Husband doesn’t want a cat. At all. Thankfully for Husband, I am more than willing to get a dog someday. I’ve always wanted a pet I can take for walks.

We’re getting a chance to practice being pet owners this week as we house sit and pet sit for an older couple from our church.

This is Riley, our child for the week:

 Isn’t she cute?

Definitely not a collie or a golden retriever, but I’m having fun putting my nurturing instincts to some kind of use.

I don’t mean to toot my own horn or anything, but Husband was the one who grew up with dogs and has that dog knack. However, I am the one who has a little fluffy white shadow for the week.

When we’re getting ready to leave for work, Husband and I usually stand by the front door and pray while hugging (adorable, yes, I know). This morning, though, contrary to tradition, we had to pray with about a foot of space between us. Every time Husband put his arms around me, Riley went a little bananas, barking and bouncing in a distressed manor. My shadow is also a protector. How sweet!

I think part of the reason that Husband has not secured the undying affection of Riley the way I have is because he just doesn’t encourage her enough. Tonight Riley had been sitting by me on the couch and jumped down. Husband wanted her to jump back up and sit by him. This is what happened:

“Riley, come sit by me,” Husband says while casually patting the seat beside him. Riley stares at him from the ground.

“No, that’s not how you do it,” I respond. “Watch: Riley! Come here! Come sit by me!” I sing in a high-pitched baby voice (which I vow never to use with my real babies), and enthusiastically pat the couch next to me.

Riley takes a running start and jumps up to sit beside me.

“See? You have to show some excitement if you want Riley to sit by you,” I say.

“Riley should be naturally excited to sit by me,” is Husband’s response.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"Hope" is the Thing with Feathers

I’ve always had a tendency to jump to conclusions, emotionally, if not mentally. So, Logical Me may calmly say to myself, “Things will be alright,” and “You haven’t figured anything out yet for sure,” and “You’ve just barely scratched the surface on what can be done to make Family-of-Two into Family-of-Three,” but that doesn’t do anything for Emotional Me, who’s too busy wailing and crying to hear anything Logical Me is saying.

That is why, even though I know all of those things to be true, I was too upset to go to work yesterday.

It started with trying to call our insurance company (generally a frustrating if not downright upsetting experience for me anyway) to find out if another doctor’s exam for a second opinion would be covered by our insurance. It is, but it took me my peace of mind to find that out.

And somewhere in all the waiting on the line, I became more and more convinced that at least for the day I could not face the myriads of munchkins and their pregnant moms at the library. Normally I love all of our children’s programs and I love interacting with all the young moms.

But not yesterday.

So, I called in sick. I figure that being sick at heart is still just being sick.

But while sitting at home, working on our ESL lesson for our class tonight, I found this little gem of a poem, a poem that I have loved since college but had forgotten about until now. Normally Emily Dickinson isn’t the cheeriest of writers, but this little poem makes me happy. It puts a picture to what I want to have inside me and what I want others to see in me. And I would like to share it with you:

 “Hope” is the thing with feathers

“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

--Emily Dickinson

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Further Fading of the Honeymoon Effect

Even though I’ve been wrestling with some pretty heavy emotions on our weekend get-away, I have also enjoyed myself. Immensely.

On this vacation I was looking forward to:

a) sleeping in

b) shopping for a few clothing items

c) reading for hours

d) watching a movie or two with Wonderful Husband

Check, check, check and check.

On Saturday afternoon, as we were sitting in our suite, I was reminded of our honeymoon, a little over two years ago. I couldn’t help but chuckle, however, because I noticed one key difference. See if you can pick it out.

Here are two photos from the one rainy afternoon we spent in our cabin on our honeymoon:

And here are two more photos from our one afternoon spent in our suite on this little vacation:

Can you see what’s different?

Yep, you got it.

Honeymoon: “I want to be with you all the time! I’m so happy we can finally be together whenever we want! Whatever you’re doing, I want to do too!”

Now: “I love you. I’m glad I’m here with you. You can do what you want, but this is what I want to do right now.”

Don’t get me wrong; we enjoyed each other’s company on this vacation and the pictures, of course, do not show the time we did get to spend laughing and talking and cuddling together.

But isn’t the contrast just kind of funny? While doing premarital counseling and learning about the ‘honeymoon effect’ and how it would wear off between one and two years, I thought, “Never! That just doesn’t sound like fun at all. I want to feel this romantic for my entire marriage.”

Yeah. Suuuuuuure, Hillary.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Blessed be Your Name, Even When...

Even though I started this blog a few months ago with the purpose of being content while waiting to be a mother, I have mostly shied away from sharing my thoughts and feelings on this issue. My goal was to focus my gaze on the other blessings that God has poured out upon me and my husband and search for how God was using us here. And now. Not on how God will use us when He gives us a baby.

That is still my goal. I still want to be used by God here and now, and I do not want to take for granted all of that which I have to be thankful for.

However, today I also need to remind myself of God’s goodness and God’s faithfulness. I need to give myself a pep talk.

This morning my husband and I woke up in our hotel room, on our much-anticipated weekend vacation. My cousin’s fiancé works for a hotel in the ‘big city’ about 50 miles away and was able to get us an amazing discount on a suite, and we feel very blessed to be able to spend time away from home on a small budget.

One of the things that we are enjoying while we are here is continual internet access. (We don’t have internet access at home and must content ourselves with visits to the library or coffee shops to spend time online.) So, of course, one of the first things we both found ourselves doing this morning was checking e-mail, even checking Facebook.

“Hill, [Friend-from-church] has a picture on Facebook that you should really see,” I hear as I’m putting on make-up in the bathroom.

“Oh, OK.” Friend-from-church has a fun and quirky sense of humor, so I am anticipating a picture that will make me chuckle, shake my head, and sigh.

Instead, when I come to look, I see a picture announcing very clearly (but of course in a fun and quirky way) that Friend-from-church and her husband are expecting a baby. They are expecting their baby to be born next May, about the same time as my beautiful sister-in-law and her husband are expecting their baby to be born.

My initial response upon realizing what this picture means is not joy, but jealousy. And sadness. And then guilt because my initial response was not joy.

I try to give myself a little bit of slack, though, because I know that some of my strong feelings come from a doctor’s appointment I had less than 24 hours before seeing this Facebook announcement.

An appointment that was less than encouraging and also less than conclusive.

 An appointment at which I heard in not so few words, “You will probably need to use fertility treatments if you want to have your own children.”

“Your body may not be able to sustain a child through a pregnancy without help.”

Traitorous words. Traitorous body.

And I know, the doctor may be wrong. The doctor may not have all the information he needs yet. And what’s so very bad about fertility treatments anyway? Probably nothing.

But even so, I can’t stop the anguished questioning of God inside of me: “Why her? Why not me? They haven’t been married as long as we have! I’m sure they haven’t even been wanting this baby as long as we have!”

I don’t mean to sound melodramatic, or wimpy. I know there are so many women who have much, much more heart-wrenching stories, have been feeling empty-arm pain much, much longer and much, much more acutely than I have.

But even so, the pain is still there, and I still need to address the God whom I love and serve and who I have believed is good, oh so good, in the past.

A teacher of mine once told me that we sing songs like “Blessed Be Your Name” when times are good and it’s easy to believe God is good as a sort of exercise and muscle-building for when times are bad and it’s not so easy to see God’s goodness.

That way, when life gets hard in one way or another, the refrain

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering,
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name.

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise.
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord,
Blessed be Your name!
Blessed be the name of the Lord,
Blessed be Your glorious name!

will play in our heads and we will remember, Yes, God is good. God can use this for good. Even when this doesn’t make sense to me, God is still good.

I can remember this song. I am able to say with my words (even if my feelings aren’t so sure), Yes, God is good. And I know that this one itsy bitsy difficult time will strengthen me and prepare me. I will come to know more deeply the One who is infinitely more precious than a thousand babies, and He will be my strength and my song.

Yes, God is still good!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Natural Hair Care Update

Natural Hair Care

About one month ago, I wrote about how my husband and I were going to start a shampoo-free hair care regimen. (See our plan for natural hair cleanser here.) We have not used any shampoo or conditioner for a month, and I can safely say that we’re overall pleased with the results.

I currently wash my scalp all over (I can’t really say I ‘wash my hair,’ because the scalp is what needs to be washed, not the hair) every four days. I do, however, was the hair right around my face and down the center part on the top of my head every other day. The oilier complexion of my face makes this necessary, especially for my bangs, which rest against my forehead.

This is what my hair looks like on day four (I’ll be washing tomorrow):

For the first three weeks, I was using an apple cider vinegar hair clarifier (a conditioner and detangler) after the ‘big wash,’ once every four days. My hair began to look pretty frizzy after a while, which could have been the result of a couple of different factors:

1) Too much baking soda in the hair washing stage

2) Not enough moisture being put into my hair via the apple cider vinegar clarifier

3) A dry, dry, dry September (as in, the air was so dry and dusty between no rain and farmers harvesting that a ban was eventually put on farmers being in the fields because the heat from their machinery kept catching crops on fire. This resulted in several fire emergencies a day for a while.)

I did not handle this dilemma like a good scientist and switch one variable at once. Instead I switched all three:

1) I started using less of the baking soda wash (going by a ‘less is more’ motto)

2) I just recently switched to using a honey and water hair clarifier, which is supposed to be more moisturizing than apple cider vinegar.

3) The humidity has gone up with the blessing of some rain, and the dust has gone down.

My hair looks less frizzy now. I may go back to the apple cider vinegar hair clarifier soon and see how that affects my hair. I would really like to be able to use the apple cider vinegar instead of honey because honey is much more expensive.

Oil Face Cleaning Method

On another personal hygiene note, I also decided to try the oil face cleaning method that Tsh Oxenreider posted on here. I was really skeptical, because my face is naturally oily and pretty acne-prone.

After doing a little bit of research on this facial cleaning method, this is the procedure I decided on:
Face-Cleaning Oil

75% castor oil (a drying oil)
25% extra virgin olive oil (a moisturizing oil)

I store this in a jelly jar in our medicine cabinet.

To wash my face, I put about a quarter size dribble into my hand and massage all over my dry face. I do not wet my face at all or clean off make-up before I start. The castor oil will clean my face well enough. I do not scrub; I just massage.

Then, I take a washcloth and soak it with hot water. I lay this on my face until it cools to room temperature (I think this takes about two minutes, but I don’t really count because this is so relaxing.) Then I massage my face again a little.

I rinse out the washcloth with hot water and use the washcloth to wipe all extra oil off of my face. I rinse out the washcloth again, and I’m done.

I love this. I didn’t think I would, but I do. Using this method, I only need to wash my face once a day. Previously, when I was using a synthetic store-bought face wash, I would wash my face twice a day. I don’t find that my face needs that anymore. And I seem to be dealing with a little less acne, although it will take a couple months for me to be able to really tell if there’s a difference.

Overall, I feel pretty good about both my hair and my face. We’re using natural non-toxic ingredients, and it’s all pretty cheap. Even the face wash, though an investment initially, seems to be cheaper overall because I use the oil so slowly.

I do wonder, though, how realistic this kind of hair care and facial care would be for someone with kids. What mom has time to lay a hot washcloth over her face for two minutes with children running around?

Any thoughts?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Leaves in Our Yard and Apples in Our House: A Continued Story

Almost a week ago I posted a picture of one of the trees in our front yard. If you remember, it was sporting some brilliant yellow tree plumage. This is the tree today:

And this is what I spent three hours doing on Saturday night:

Please notice how large those leaf piles are and the frequency with which they appear on our lawn. That tree meant business last week.

The two most prominent thoughts in my head while I was raking were, “This would be much more fun if we had some little toddlers running around,” and “From an ecological perspective, this is a colossal waste of time.” I am not comfortable with the American lawn ideal: the time and energy spent on growing and maintaining a perfect Kentucky bluegrass monoculture, the volume of fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides poured onto lawns every year, and the carting away of grass clipping and leaves that in a ‘normal’ ecosystem would decompose right where they fell and fertilize the ground naturally. However, I haven’t done anything to change our lawn, and, frankly, I’m afraid of talking to our landlady about my feelings toward the lawn care required of us, so all my high and lofty thoughts are just that: thoughts.

In any case, despite the negative appearance of these leaf raking thoughts, my attitude while raking was pretty positive. I was enjoying the exercise after having sat in a conference all morning and afternoon, and I was hoping to have the whole yard raked and cleaned up before Husband came home, as a surprise. This was his weekend to work, which meant he only had one day off, which was Friday this week.

And on his one day off this week, his mind was also on fall-ish activities:

I was impressed. I’m still impressed, actually. And very, very excited to eat these or give them to other people so they can enjoy Husband’s superior pie-baking skills.

Because our freezer space is extremely limited, we called up an older couple in town that we have gotten to know and feel comfortable with to beg some freezer space from them. They were more than willing, so we walked over to their house on Saturday night to deliver our pies (after Husband got home from work and the leaf raking was done), and then sat and chatted for a while. This all made us feel very good about our community networking and friend-making skills.

Fall-ish activities are abounding right now, and I am trying my best to savor every minute of them. (Although, I am glad that the tree has dropped all of its leaves and the raking is mostly done.)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Some Haikus to Describe My Feelings Towards Fall

Please excuse these haikus. I am by no means a poet, and these haikus may fail sadly at doing what poems are supposed to do: convey feelings from the writer to the reader. But here you are, anyway:

Crisp leaves skittering
Behind cars along the road:
A cherished fall noise.

Days growing shorter,
Leaves change color and fall fast.
Where did the yard go?

Children make a graph:
Red, yellow, or green apples?
Learning to love fruit.

Put on long-sleeved shirt
Take off, put back on again,
In-between weather.

This tree (pictured below) is in the lawn in front of our house. In the past week it has gone from green to brilliant yellow and dropped at least half of its leaves on our lawn. I mourn the quick loss of leaves not only because it means we have to make time to rake them up but also because I enjoy seeing the tree such a cheery color. I wish it would savor its fall colors like I do instead of getting rid of them so fast. Please, tree, show some consideration.

This is an apple oatmeal bake that Handsome and Wonderful Husband made for me a few mornings ago. He oh-so-wisely put the dish in the oven the night before and set the timer on the oven to bake so that it would be done about when he was finishing with his shower. 

We don’t normally do this kind of thing for breakfast because I don’t think of it. But when we do it makes me soooooo happy. When Husband’s parents came last weekend, they brought with them bags of apples (and when I say ‘bags,’ I don’t mean little-brown-lunch-bag bags, I mean, ready-to-grocery-shop-for-the-whole-family bags), which has incited us to an apple-cooking frenzy.

This apple oatmeal bake was a product of that frenzy, and I am so thankful to Husband’s Wonderful Parents.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Making Tiramasu

Making tiramisú actually occured before our weekend with Mom and Dad. However, we have been busy. Better late than never, though, especially when there are pictures of delicious desserts involved.

My husband and I like to cook for fun. Most of our 'cooking for fun' is limited to things that can be cooked on a small budget, but we are also part of an International Dinner Club through our church, which encourages us to branch out of our small budget repertoire. The menus for these dinners are all set. We just get the ingredients and follow the directions.

For an Italian-themed International Dinner Club meal, we were asked to make tiramisú.

Here's the recipe, in case our pictures look so mouth-watering that you want to try it yourself:

This tiramisú has a pretty pronounced rum flavor; for a less potent rum flavor, halve the amount of rum added to the coffee mixture in step 1. Do not allow the mascarpone to warm to room temperature before using it; it has a tendency to break if allowed to do so. Be certain to use hard, not soft, ladyfingers.


2 ½ cups strong black coffee, room temperature
1 ½ tablespoons instant espresso powder
9 tablespoons dark rum
6 large egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon table salt
1 ½ pounds mascarpone cheese
¾ cup heavy cream (cold)
14 oz. ladyfingers (42-60, depending on size)
3 ½ tablespoons cocoa, preferably Dutch-processed
¼ cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, grated (optional)

1. Stir coffee, espresso, and 5 tablespoons rum in wide bowl or baking dish until espresso dissolves; set aside.

2. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat yolks at low speed until just combined. Add sugar and salt and beat at medium-high speed until pale yellow, 1 ½ - 2 minutes, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula once or twice. Add remaining 4 tablespoons rum and beat at medium speed until just combined, 20-30 seconds; scrape bowl. Add mascarpone and beat at medium speed until no lumps remain, 30-45 seconds, scraping down bowl once or twice. Transfer mixture to large bowl and set aside.

Here are our egg yolks in the bowl (all from local free-range chickens, I might add).

 Here's the massive amount of mascarpone cheese the recipe calls for. Tasty, but spendy.

 And the whole mess all mixed together.

3. In now-empty mixer bowl (no need to clean bowl), beat cream at medium speed until frothy, 1 – 1 ½ minutes. Increase speed to high and continue to beat until cream holds stiff peaks, 1 – 1 ½ minutes longer. Using rubber spatula, fold one-third of whipped cream into mascarpone mixture to lighten, then gently fold in remaining whipped cream until no white streaks remain. Set mascarpone mixture aside.

4. Working one at a time, drop half of ladyfingers into coffee mixture, roll, remove, and transfer to 13 x 9” glass or ceramic baking dish. (Do not submerge ladyfingers in coffee mixture; entire process should take no more than 2-3 seconds for each cookie.) Arrange soaked cookies in single layer in baking dish, breaking or trimming ladyfingers as needed to fit neatly into dish.

5. Spread half of mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers; use rubber spatula to spread mixture to sides and into corners o dish and smooth surface. Place 2 tablespoons cocoa in fine- mesh strainer and dust cocoa over mascarpone.

6. Repeat dipping and arrangement of ladyfingers; spread remaining mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers and dist with remaining 1 ½ tablespoons cocoa. Wipe edges of dish with dry paper towel. Cove r with plastic wrap and refrigerate 6 – 24 hours. Sprinkle with grated chocolate, if using; cut into pieces and serve chilled.
Our tiramisú commentary:

We enjoyed this recipe quite a bit. It reminded me a little bit of eating cheesecake, and it was about as rich. Since we had to make it for our International Dinner Club, we had excellent reasons to purchase these more expensive ingredients that we otherwise would not purchase.

Someone from our church gave us the small amount of rum that we needed, however. Rum is otherwise quite expensive. I didn’t care for the rum taste very much. If I made this dessert again, I might very well leave out the rum.

We also used instant coffee, ground more finely, in place of espresso powder, which we did not have on hand.

When it came to sifting cocoa powder over the whole pan at the end, I do not have a fine sifter. However, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that my mesh ball for loose leaf tea could be used in place of a larger sifter. I just scooped about two teaspoons of cocoa powder into the mesh ball and, leaving it open, shook it over the dessert. One less kitchen gadget that I need to invest in!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

An excellent weekend with family

Be prepared, everyone. I have been storing up blog posts for the past week and a half. Prepare yourselves for the deluge.

Last weekend, Husband and I were able to take a large breath of relief and step away from some of our busyness for a while, when Husband’s parents came for a visit.

Living far (‘far’ being a relative term, here) away from our family in Minnesota makes us absolutely cherish the time that we do get to spend with loved ones. We had a lot of catching up to do, on their lives, the lives of Husband’s siblings and their adventures, and on our own adventures.

While they were here we talked. A lot. We also went hiking on Saturday afternoon because the weather was beautiful. We packed a picnic lunch and enjoyed it at a picnic table in the park. 

 Here we are on a bridge in the park. It was very difficult to get the camera set up in a tree to take this picture.

Back at the house, Dad got busy exploring our yard with his metal detector. I have never done any metal detecting before, but I must say: it is addicting. We took Dad and Mom to the Century Farm by our house. The Century Farm is no longer a farm at this point, but was a farm in the same family for over a hundred years; hence, it’s name. However, there was far too much scrap metal buried on that property, and the poor metal detector was getting confused and overwhelmed. Dad had much better luck in our front yard, where he found a penny dated 1910, as well as a handful of other newer change. Who would have thought so much could be found in a yard that gets mowed regularly?

We enjoyed a few different card games throughout the weekend. I especially enjoy playing Hand and Foot because it’s just not the same with only Husband and me. Mom and Dad treated us to supper at one of the local Mexican restaurants on Saturday night. ¡Qué deliciosa! ¡Viva la comida mexicana!

At lunch after church on Sunday, we told Mom and Dad about the Bible study that we are going through with a group right now. The study is Experiencing God, by Henry Blackaby, et. al. Mom mentioned that she had gone through the study a while ago, probably seven or eight years back. Amazingly, Dad could still list some of the main points of the Bible study, not because he had done it himself, but just from hearing Mom talk about it.

That conversation has stuck in my head since then. Do I talk about what God is teaching me, through His Word, Bible studies, circumstances and other people, to the point where others remember what I say? Do I talk about what God is teaching me at all?

I want to be the kind of woman whose daily life and relationship with Christ are so intertwined that I have no choice but to share with others what God is doing in my life. Sometimes when I do bring up my relationship with Christ in a discussion with another person, the conversation suddenly feels disjointed, like there has been a subject change. Red flag! If my relationship with Christ really is permeating my whole self and everything I do, then talking about Him should never feel like a subject change.

And that is something I admire in my Mother-in-Law. When she mentions Christ in a conversation, it does not feel like a subject change. Her relationship with Christ is as familiar to her conversation pattern as clothes or books are to me.

This is an area of my life in which I hope and pray to see growth and change.

So, between hiking, metal detecting, and eating Mexican food, we had a wonderful weekend. And I was left with much to ponder. The time with Mom and Dad was delightful, a welcomed oasis in the midst of self-imposed busyness.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Freedom of speech restored (or, "Posting comments now allowed")

For those of you who would have liked to post comments before today but have been unable to because you are not a registered Google user, today is a day of rejoicing: your freedom of speech has been restored. Anyone should now be able to post comments on this blog. Thank you for your patience as I learn that it's okay to change personal settings on my personal blog!