Philippians 4:8

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. -Philippians 4:8 NAB

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

On the Fr. Corapi situation...

Yesterday, I came across a press release from the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT), the religious order to which Fr. Corapi belongs.  The crux of the statement reads
SOLT's fact-finding team has acquired information from Fr. Corapi's e-mails, various witnesses, and public sources that, together, state that, during his years of public ministry:

He did have sexual relations and years of cohabitation (in California and Montana) with a woman known to him, when the relationship began, as a prostitute; He repeatedly abused alcohol and drugs; He has recently engaged in sexting activity with one or more women in Montana; He holds legal title to over $1 million in real estate, numerous luxury vehicles, motorcycles, an ATV, a boat dock, and several motor boats, which is a serious violation of his promise of poverty as a perpetually professed member of the Society.
As a result, I have removed the link to Fr. Corapi's website.  I am personally deeply saddened by this turn of events.  For those who don't know, Fr. Corapi was an incredibly engaging and charismatic speaker, with sound catechesis and a penchant for "telling it like it is."  Such honesty on church teaching was refreshing and, I daresay, much needed (especially in our current culture of death and political correctness).

I do not know -- nor am I willing to speculate -- as to whether the charges brought against Fr. Corapi have any degree of truth.  Based on the above, it appears that there has been some level of misconduct, though again, I am not privy to the details of the situation.  What I do know, however, is that the allegations were filed on Ash Wednesday (mid-March) and that a mere 3 months later, Fr. Corapi announced he was leaving the priesthood.  Regardless of anything else, this one action is cause enough for me to have serious doubts about Fr. Corapi's credibility and stability.  In my mind, this is tantamount to filing for divorce -- and it is an action I cannot support in any way.  Furthermore, his "new platform" of calling himself "The Black Sheep Dog" is just plain weird, and the picture he has chosen to use for his website is, quite frankly, a little creepy in my opinion.

At this point, I can only hope and pray that he comes to his senses and returns to his religious order.  It is a shame for the Church to lose a priest under any circumstances, but this feels like a particularly deep blow.  I encourage you to pray for Fr. Corapi as well.  May this be a good reminder that we are all called to pray for all our priests as there is no question they are constantly besieged by vicious spiritual attack.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I've been busy...!

I realized that I haven’t checked on my blog for a couple weeks and, when I finally did so this morning, realized I haven’t written in about 4…  So, what have we been up to?  Well...

Several weeks ago, I was approached by a friend of a friend about gathering resources for a high school health class on the topic of sex ed.  Without going into detail (because it would just take way too long!), I gathered such resources and gave a lecture to mostly 16-year-olds on the nature of STDs (sexually-transmitted diseases).  It was an eye-opening experience – not only did I learn a little something more on the subject, but I also learned how insufficient the knowledge base was for these teenagers (1/3 of whom, according to statistics, are recently sexually active).  I might go in to more detail on a later post.

Around the same time, I was approached by another friend to give a “primer” on Theology of the Body for women, with the aim of increasing understanding to better educate one’s daughters.  The high points included the dignity of the human person, the beauty of how we are each designed, the purpose of our fertility, the wounds of being used and/or using others, modesty, purity, and chastity.  We plan to do a follow-up with the daughters next month, and I pray it will make an appropriate impact.

Then, we had the *big* ultrasound – yeah!  I will post a pic of the little one just as soon as I scan all 18 of the photos onto my computer. ;-)  Yes, we did find out the sex of the baby!  But, we also learned that there are “choroid plexus cysts” in the brain. This is a finding which is typically incidental (meaning it doesn’t mean anything) so long as there isn’t anything else untoward found on the ultrasound (there wasn’t).  However, it’s always a little disconcerting when things don’t look exactly as expected.  We will be getting a repeat ultrasound, though I don’t know when.  I’m hopeful that all is well with this baby, but also trust that God’s plan is greater than ours, and I know we will love this child no matter what may come.

Another week later, I got a call from a local doctor whom I’ve had the privilege of knowing since my college days (seems like eons ago!).  We got together for dinner and, lo and behold, I will be going to work for her in August.  We are optimistic that this will be a blessing for us in a number of ways, not the least of which includes me keeping my clinical skills current (yay!).  I’ll be very part-time (one day per week), with some time off once little one arrives, and will have the potential for increasing over time if it appears to be good for the clinic.  It’s in dermatology – a little different from my past experience (all primary care) – but I feel confident that I’ll have good training with her and learn a lot.

Finally, my oldest started swim lessons last week, which has taken a chunk out of our mornings every day – in a good way!  I cannot believe how much she loves going!  We recently showed her a video on YouTube of synchronized swimming (dancing + swimming = the best!) and she has now told me that she can’t wait until I can watch her do that on T.V.  Wow – is this the same child???  It’s been fun, and has also boosted her confidence, I think.  She also had her first “group” violin lesson of the summer last week and – shocking! – was the first to volunteer to perform a solo for the group.  She did great, loved it, can’t wait to do it again.  (For those who don’t know, this is in stark contrast to her meltdown at the time of her end-of-year recital last month.)

I suppose I should also mention that the flood waters out here have finally receded (no more flood warnings) and, just in time for the 1st day of summer, we had our first summer-like day.  Hooray!!!  Sunny, mid-70’s, pleasant with continued such weather for the next several days.  Perhaps we can all go outside a little and ward off that pasty-gray tone that has settled in our skin.  (That’s what happens when one is cooped up indoors for 8+ months!)

Yeah, I guess we’ve been busy… ;-)

Friday, May 27, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 128)

(hosted by Conversion Diary)
– 1 –
I’ve been up since 4:15 this morning.  I am tired and feel like facing the rest of the day is a daunting task, despite having a (small) cozy cup of coffee by the roaring fire this morning – while both kids were still sleeping.  So why have I been up so long?  Well, as I posted yesterday, we lost our power for half the day.  The power came back on without a problem, but DS woke up at 4-ish cold and wet.  And I was cold, too.  After getting him all nice and dry and snuggling up, he fell back asleep.  I thought I would do the same, but when I came out to check our thermostat, I realized the furnace had been (unsuccessfully) trying to turn on since our power returned yesterday.  And while you wouldn’t think one would need much heat at the end of May, it was only in the low-40’s last night and only about 60 inside our home.  Plan B: turn on the gas fireplace (which is the whole reason we have it!).  Only, the batteries for our remote starter were low.  We only had one more battery in stock and hoped it would give the starter enough juice to turn on the fireplace.  In the meantime, we tried to figure out how to manually start the fireplace (there’s a way to do that somehow…).  Fortunately, changing one battery was enough and the place started to warm up a bit.  An hour later, we called the furnace guy and he advised to check our breaker – problem solved!  So, hooray, our house is warm again.  But I’m still tired.

– 2 –
We’ve got a 3-day weekend coming up!  Yeah!  So, what will we do with this extra gift of time?  Probably nothing.  The forecast is for gloom and rain (sheesh, it’s like being in Seattle again!), possibly even a skiff of snow tonight.  Blah!  We might take some time to work in the yard, though my contribution can only be very limited.  You know, that whole “you can’t do any gardening while pregnant” thing.  In a different venue, I might not take that so seriously.  Unfortunately, our neighbor’s cat has decided our flower bed is a litter box.  I was overjoyed yesterday when I saw that some of our Hostas were finally starting to sprout.  This was immediately followed by utter disgust as I realized one of them had a nice “present” right next to it.  Ugh.  (And cat excrement is a major danger to pregnant mommas.)  Look, I was always a cat person growing up, but seriously… KEEP YOUR CATS IN YOUR OWN HOUSE.  Nothing drives me more bonkers than other people’s pets using our yard as a toilet (dogs, too, which happens a lot in our neighborhood).

– 3 –
It’s high school graduation this weekend for three of our nieces and nephews.  We’re proud of all of them, of course, and wish we could join in on the festivities.  Alas, a downside to living far away from extended family.  I thought about all the things I wish I had known when I graduated high school, and was going to do a post on that earlier this week.  Then I realized that I am really not qualified to be handing out advice under the guise of “wisdom” because I am utterly clueless.  But if I could pick one thing about venturing into college I wish I had known, it would be this: don’t fret about grades so much; they aren’t that important in the grand scheme of things.  Just do your best! ;-)
– 4 –
Speaking of high school graduation, I am now starting to fell old.  Not physically, mind you, but definitely in an I’m-totally-out-of-touch-with-these-kids-today manner.  I was recently visiting with a high school teacher and asking about the format of lectures nowadays.  The answer is, of course, with PowerPoint.  Hah!  I’m pretty sure PowerPoint wasn’t even invented when I was in high school.  We had classes where the teacher wrote notes on the blackboard with chalk or used one of those overhead projector thingies with the markers that needed water to wipe off clean.  Anyone else remember that???

– 5 –
Summer is fast approaching, which means that our life as we know it will be in absolute upheaval very soon.  I’m pretty sure that summer will appear to end as soon as it starts because these next 3 months will be pretty busy.  And then (*sniff, sniff*), my DD will be in school.  All day.  Every day.  And about 6 weeks after that (just enough time for me to get my emotions together), our baby is due.  And then it’ll be the holiday season.  So, really, I figure that once July hits, I won’t really have any memory of the day-to-day stuff of family life until about New Year’s.  Oh well.  At least I should be able to enjoy a bit of wine by then…!

– 6 –
In other news, I think we’ve finally decided where we’re going to put everyone once the baby arrives.  For now (and this changes frequently), we’ve decided to simply keep the status quo.  The older two will stay in their bedroom, though DS will (hopefully) move to a big boy bed this summer.  We’ll have to move the dresser out (probably to our room, along with the crib) because it won’t fit with another bed in there.  Then, we’ll keep the baby in the room with us for 6-8 months, depending on how everyone’s sleeping.  After that – possibly to coincide with the end of the school year – we’ll move the older two downstairs, where they’ll share the biggest room, and put the baby in the upstairs bedroom.  That should work, right?  ….right???

– 7 –
We have the big ultrasound in 11 days.  I’m not seeing that there are too many people casting their votes for whether they think little one is a boy or a girl, so maybe no one wants to know?  Maybe we’ll find out the sex of the baby keep it to ourselves. ;-)  It just might be a bit of fun we can have to knowingly withhold that kind of information and see what happens. mmmWHAHAHAHAHAhahaha!   Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

No power this morning? We're so lucky!

I was originally going to write today about our experience of having the power shut off (a rarity) this morning as there was some needed maintenance performed on the power lines in our neighborhood.  I thought of the many ways this could be a positive experience, especially for my oldest -- who was quite tearful when the power was cut during the middle of her VeggieTales show.  I reflected on the numerous things we could do that didn't require power, and was thankful to have a forced opportunity to teach gratitude in the blessings we do have.  I was going to write about all these things, right after I checked my e-mail.  And then I checked my e-mail.

I subscribe to a weekly newsletter from an organization called Population Research Institute and happened to receive their latest today, after my power flicked back on.  After reading today's post, I decided that my measly little sacrifice of 4 hours without power paled in comparison to the sufferings of people halfway around the world.  For those who don't know, there are atrocities such as forced abortions, forced sterilizations, and human trafficking that occurs in China as a result of its very strict "One Child Only" policy.  Unfortunately, certain organizations find the "battle against overpopulation" to be ideally modeled by the Chinese (communist) government's atrocious policies and coercive enforcement methods.

I find it interesting, too, that there was a recent post by fave blogger Jennifer Fulwiler (who also blogs here) that took a lighthearted look at the subject of "overpopulation."  (For an enlightening, and at times entertaining, snapshot at other people's views on the subject, be sure to read the 200+ comments on that post.)  Personally, I get blown away every time someone suggests that the answer to the problems supposedly caused by overpopulation is to decrease the population.  These problems, of course, usually occur in very poor parts of the world, where the governments of wealthy countries haven't seen a good enough reason (i.e., enough important resources) to send meaningful aid.  Difficulties such as lack of good food, clean water, appropriate medicine, and suitable clothing and shelter are all problems that could merely be solved if "all these poor people would just stop having so many babies."  And so, entities such as the U.N., W.H.O., and Planned Parenthood (among others) decide to swoop in with the "benevolent" intention of lowering the birth rate by handing out all manner of contraception.  (The logical conclusion, of course, is where China currently sits.)

What always puzzles me, though, is that I have yet to receive an answer from an "overpopulationist" that can explain to me how it is better to tell people in impoverished conditions that it is better for them to accept articial birth control (and therefore fewer children) than to accept clean water and adequate food (which is, by the way, cheaper and causes less waste and environmental pollution).

But I digress... from a practical standpoint, I would like to take the money we saved from not using any power today for 4 hours and send it to some family in need, though I'm not exactly sure how.  (I really don't have a clue on how to quantify how much the electricity we didn't use would have cost us.)  If any of you have some insight, let me know.  If I can figure it out, I'll update my post.  In the meantime, I will look with gratitude upon my three children (especially the one I can't yet see) and upon all the resources I so easily take for granted.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

For my hubby!

Funny how a little thing like food preferences can highlight the wonderment of marriage.  Hear me out on this one: marriage is such a blessing.  And it requires an amazing amount of work.  (Hmm, kinda like having children!)  But the grace poured out from this beautiful sacrament is the only explanation I have for how my DH has managed to want to stay married to me this long. ;-)  Don't get me wrong, there are numerous things (the biggies, especially) that we are totally united on.  But our palates do not fall into that category.  Case-in-point: chili.  I mentioned previously that my mother (and, actually, all of my family of origin) would be able to state, with absolute authority, that I have never liked chili in my entire life.  (Well, it's always been a little more severe than a simple, "Oh, I don't care for it.")  In contrast, my DH *loves* chili.  Not as much as spaghetti, but it's definitely in his top 5.  So how do we overcome this great chasm in our relationship?  Simple: self-sacrificing love.  The kind of love that is supposed to reflect true Christian love.  Agape love.  For his part, DH doesn't ask for chili but maybe 2 or 3 times a year.  I know this is a sacrifice for him, and I appreciate it.  For my part, I make it for him when he asks.  And every once in awhile, I stumble upon a recipe that, lo & behold, I kinda actually like!  So if I happen to like it, and it also passes his taste test, then it must be a real winner.  The biggest plus: it's fast and uses the Crock-Pot!  So here it is -- Enjoy!

Three-Bean Turkey Chili (from "Crock Pot Recipe Collection")
1 package (about 1 lb.) ground turkey
1 small onion, chopped
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed & drained
1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed & drained
1 15-oz. can kidney beans, rinsed & drained
1 4-oz. can diced green chiles
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
1-2 Tbsp. chili powder

1) In wide skillet, brown turkey and onion until no pink remains in the turkey.  Drain and discard fat.  Place in  Crock-Pot. 
2) Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine.  Cook on HIGH 6-8 hours.  Makes 6-8 servings.

***Bonus Recipe***
Great Northern Cornbread (from "Baking Illustrated")
2 Tbsp. butter, melted, plus more for greasing the pan
1 c. cornmeal
1 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
4 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
2/3 c. buttermilk
2/3 c. milk

1. Adjust an oven rack to center position and preheat to 425 degrees.  Grease a 9-inch square baking pan with butter.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt.  Push the mixture up the sides to create a well in the center.
3. Crack the eggs into the well and stir lightly with a wooden spoon, then add buttermilk and milk.  Stir quickly until almost combined.  Add the melted butter and stir until just combined.
4. Pour into prepared pan and bake until top is golden brown and lightly cracked and the edges have pulled away from the sides of the pan, about 25 minutes.
5.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool slightly, about 5-10 minutes, and serve warm.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A note on food allergies...

I love going out to eat.  Truly, I do.  It feels like some great reward to go to someone else’s place, sit down, and be served.  No cooking, no cleaning – just enjoying the meal with those I love.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to cook!  But I love eating without the work better.

Okay, so this is clearly not something we can (or should) do all that often.  I’d prefer if it were reserved for those times when it can be a fun experience that we can look back on with gratitude.  I do recognize, of course, that convenience has its place.  (I’ve always postulated that this is what makes McDonald’s et al. so popular in the first place.)  However, I simply cannot justify the cost (or the calories) of eating out with a great deal of frequency.

This became a great point of discussion in our household last fall when we took a hard look at our monthly restaurant habit and decided that we needed to tighten our belts (figuratively and literally).  Difficult as it was to stay disciplined, this turned out to be a real blessing because we learned, a couple months later, that our little guy has an allergy to cow’s milk.  (No, it’s not lactose intolerance – it’s an allergy.  And for those who don’t know, cow’s milk and all its evil little minions are in everything.)  So, in a way, that actually made our “fast food fast” that much easier.  It’s one thing to say “no” to eating out because “we really should watch our budget;” it’s another thing entirely when such a prospect can make your child sick.

But we haven’t given up restaurants entirely, and haven’t intended to.  It’s just that it takes quite a bit more planning.  For the most part, we do need to stick to chain restaurants because these places actually recognize that a great deal of people have food allergies and can usually provide some kind of accommodation.  Unfortunately, two recent experiences have just about convinced me that we can’t ever go out to eat again – ever!

Yes, I’m being a bit dramatic.  Sort of.  One such incident occurred last night, when I had actually gone to the trouble of calling a couple of the local restaurants to ask about their menu items that might be dairy-free.  One of them said, “No, we don’t have that, but that’s a really good idea.”  The other said, “The only items we can guarantee won’t have dairy are a grilled chicken breast and salad.”  Right.  Because my toddler just *loves* salad.  So we opted for the chain that had the allergen info available online.  But when you get to a place that actually has a food allergen menu, and it even highlights the “kid’s menu” items, but doesn’t actually serve *any* of those items, the whole process seems a bit ridiculous, not to mention a colossal waste of time. 

Seriously?  Yes, seriously … it wouldn’t occur to me to make this up.  I spent about 5 minutes looking back and forth between the allergy menu, the adult menu, and the kid menu, trying to come up with some combination of food that one of us parent-types would actually want to eat so that we could share with the little one and he wouldn’t get sick.  My DH asked if I thought we should try somewhere else (even though we had already gotten our drinks), and I said no, because where else would we go?  We run into this problem virtually everywhere.  We settled on a salad that was topped with grilled chicken (he could have the chicken) and opted to let him share a few of his sister’s fries.  Except he only wanted the fries.  The chicken had apparently been cooked in some form of child repellant, while the fries were, I’m sure, cooked in candy.

French fries for dinner, eh?  Yep, I can see that “Mother of the Year” award looming in the distance.  He did eventually have a few bites of the chicken, but only after making quite a scene.  So much for that “relaxing, no-fuss, this-will-be-a-treat” dinner option.  I guess this is where that whole “offer it up!” part comes in, right?;-)

What about you?  Any challenges/successes you want to share?  (I could use all the help I can get!)

***For all those individuals out there with food allergies – and their families – you have my empathy and understanding!***

Friday, May 13, 2011

7 Quick Takes

(hosted at conversiondiary.com)
1.
Today is the feast of Our Lady of Fatima.  This apparition is one that totally fascinates me, and I would love to learn more about it.  We recently watched the film “The 13th Day” and loved it, though it literally put a bit of the fear of God in me.  The take-home message I got out of it: Pray, pray, pray.  Then pray some more, and pray for the conversion of sinners.  Whoa, do I have a lot of work to do.

2.
The weather is *finally* warming up here in the Rocky Mountains.  We actually got to near-70 degrees yesterday!  It has been wonderful to enjoy the sunshine and mild breezes.  We’ve spent a few minutes wandering around our yard and marveling at all the tiny plants sprouting and getting ready to bloom.  It’s amazing how these plants manage to survive winters that routinely hit -10 to -20!  (Even more amazing is that they’re at my house…!)

3.
My DH’s birthday is fast approaching, and I have absolutely no idea what to get him.  He has requested that I make chili for his birthday dinner – again! – which I have no problem doing because I love him and I love to make recipes that are out of the usual line-up.  (Eating chili, on the other hand, is a different subject.  My mother can attest to the fact that I never consumed more than 3.6 bites of chili during my entire childhood.)  But alas, I still don’t know how else to make his day special.  I’d love to give him a round of golf (meaningful because it gets him out of the house, away from the grind of housework and minding children and a nagging wife), but he’d need to actually accept the gift to make it work.  Ideas welcome.

4.
I just watched my toddler boy rip a paper napkin into a thousand tiny pieces.  One by one, he’d shred a piece off, and then hand it to me.  It was a great little project for him to work on, though I really don’t understand the fascination.  Maybe it’s a “boy” thing?  At least he gave me all the pieces, rather than eating them… or distributing them around the living room… or feeding them to the dog.

5.
Speaking of the kids, and the great weather, I’m (unsuccessfully) trying to deal with the fact that both the kids are sick.  Again.  Sick enough that we can’t go outside and enjoy the weather in much of any capacity – a tough spot to be in, given that we’ve been imprisoned indoors since September.  I know that the warmth will outlast the viruses – well, I think it will – but come on!  Fevers to 103 and coughing when it’s sunny and warm is *not* my idea of a good time.  Not to mention the inconveniences that accompany nasty colds, like having to reschedule violin lessons or missing out on rosary group (again!) or sleep-deprivation for the entire household.  Prayers welcome.

6.
The baby is getting more active each day – joy!  It’s quite a relief to be (mostly) done with the morning sickness and 1st trimester blahs.  It’s great to (finally) have a little boost in energy.  But the best (as most of you can attest to) is feeling the tiny hands and feet inside.  So great!  So incredible!  We’re to about 17 weeks in this pregnancy, and will have the *big* ultrasound at 20 weeks.  We’ll probably find out the gender, though the other day, I had a thought that it *might* just be fun to be surprised again.  So now I’m having second thoughts… We’ll see which side wins out, here, because I would really like to know what clothes to take out of the storage bin for the new little one.  I’ll keep you posted.

7.
Speaking of baby #3, we’re revisiting the dilemma of “where do we put everyone?”  Initially, we agreed that we should probably all move downstairs together (2 bedrooms, including the master, upstairs; 3 down).  Then we agreed that we could *probably* fit all three kids in the upstairs bedroom.  Then we started talking about where to put the clothes (my solution to the absence of a dresser is installing a closet organizer), and are, once again, going round and round on this one.  Well, we have about 4 ½ months to solve this problem.  Any of you type-A, super-organizers out there with any good ideas?  (A note: I’m opposed to bunk beds.  Too many injury hazards for my liking.)

Whew!  My first “7” – have a blessed weekend!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

This Kitchen's a Mess! (but so is everything else...)

I spent all day yesterday cleaning my kitchen.  I mean *all* day.  Now, you might ask yourself, "Was her kitchen really that dirty?  Does she have a really large kitchen?  Was there some kind of food explosion that necessitated scrubbing down cabinets?  Was she expecting some VIP for company?  Did she get lost in the Tupperware drawer?"

To put it simply... no.  And the sad part is that I didn't even really finish (really finish!) the job.

Perhaps you can relate... If you're like me, you have an area in your house (or, in my case, several) that are undesignated "dumping grounds."   As in, "Well, this bit of mail can wait a few days, so I'll just add it to the stack of loose change, lost buttons, broken toys, children's vitamins, and partially-eaten baggies of kiddo snacks for later."  And, of course, these are *sacred grounds* in that they can't be touched! until you've had a chance to actually sort through it all, lest you accidentally drop the phone bill in the garbage.  (oops.)   So, of course, the stack grows to a pile... which grows to a mound... which eventually overtakes every square inch of the lovely new countertops you *swore* would be kept in "pristine condition" once you actually acquired them.

Until one day, you walk into the kitchen (or, *ahem*, whatever room stores your particular dumping ground) and have realized that the kitchen is unrecognizable as a kitchen and could, instead, be declared a "state of emergency" in the aftermath of a Category 5 tornado.

Now, to be fair, we do have a 2-foot-tall tornado that lives in this house and that varies between categories 1-5 on a regular basis.  (And he isn't confined to the kitchen, either.)  And, yes, chasing young 'uns all day, especially while pregnant, is exhausting to the point where one could really use a glass of wine (or 12) by 8 p.m. but passes out on the couch instead.  (Can't really have the alcohol now, anyway ... a post for a different day!)  However, I really can't use that as an excuse to justify the state of my kitchen.  Instead, I have to acknowledge that I do allow the clutter monster to move about my house without restriction and that I really only do something about it when sufficiently motivated.

Like, needing space to prepare dinner.

So that was my goal for yesterday: to get the kitchen in shape, and to be able to actually see (and use!) the glorious counters that we had worked so hard to obtain in the first place.  Luckily, the nesting instinct runs strong in my blood and the energy to carry out such a massive undertaking was boosted by a lift from the 2nd trimester energy gnomes and a small cup of coffee.

My plan of attack was simple.  I would clear off each section of counter space, wipe it down, and reorganize it, placing everything that didn't actually belong in the kitchen into some sort of recepticle for later distribution.  Ahh, what a glorious feeling to clear the dust and see the beauty of solid surfaces that I knew lingered underneath the clutter!  It only took 8 hours... after several interruptions from the 2-foot-tall tornado and his 4-foot-tall sidekick, both of whom, you know, actually need attending to for things like eating, toileting, sleeping, and entertaining.

In the end, the kitchen looked and *felt* as refreshing as the warm breezes wafting through the open windows on a lovely, warm, spring day.  Of course, the sink didn't get bleached.  And the banana muffins didn't made.  And the floors remind me more of a sandy beach (emphasis *sand*) than the lovely hardwoods they are.  Now, finally, I could cook dinner: leftovers!

As for that recepticle for later distribution... it's a laundry basket overflowing that has been placed in another room, blending in nicely with the other mountains of "things-I'll-get-to-later."  But at least I can close the door!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

I just realized it's Cinco de Mayo -- which, for me, makes me ponder all the ways one might enjoy Mexican food!  So, in honor of the day (and to give me an excuse to post a recipe), here's one of my faves -- Enjoy!

Chicken Enchiladas
3 c. cooked chicken, cut up
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 c. sour cream
1 can refried beans
3 c. shredded cheese (like Mexican blend)
~10 soft-shell tortillas
1 can (14-15 oz.) enchilada sauce
1 small can sliced black olives
4 green onions, sliced

1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 9x13x2 baking pan with oil.
2. In medium bowl, combine chicken, canned soup, and sour cream until evenly coated.  (*May add a can of diced green chiles if desired.)
3. In each tortilla, spoon about 2 Tbsp. beans (evenly divide the can among the tortillas).  Top with 3-4 Tbsp. of the chicken mixture (evenly divide).  Top with 2 Tbsp. shredded cheese, reserving the rest.
4. Tightly roll each tortilla and place, seam-side down, in the prepared pan.  (You should be able to fit all 10 in one pan.)
5. Top the rolled tortillas evenly with the can of enchilada sauce.  Next, top with onions and olives.  Lastly, top with remaining shredded cheese.
6. Bake, uncovered, at 350F for about 35 minutes, until cheese is melted and enchiladas are heated through.
7. Serve with tortilla chips and margaritas or beer!

First Post

Well, I've done it.  At the prompting of a good friend, I finally decided to start a blog.  Granted, I have a hard time believing that many will be all that interested in the random ramblings I display, but oh well!  I may try to keep myself organized by limiting my comments to a certain "theme" each day, but then... that's probably just the "type A" in me trying to rear its ugly head.  :-)

So, I welcome comments and discussion, so long as everyone "plays nice."  (I have little tolerance for nastiness and malice; the world needs a bit of civility, I think.)  I'm sure many will disagree with my opinions, and that's fine -- but regardless of what you think, we should strive to remain respectful and kind at all times.

***No guarantees that I won't rant and rave every once in awhile, though!***

We'll see where things lead from here... Enjoy!

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