Friday, July 31, 2009

Getting back to my husband's roots

For those of you who don't know, I'll let you in on the joke upfront: my husband is not Mexican. But we pretend that he is because everyone who doesn't know better thinks he is. Like tonight, for example. We entered our local Don Pancho Villa, all ready to enjoy some scrumptious taquitos, and the waitress asked my husband in Spanish if we needed a high chair. This is not the first time this sort of thing has happened. In fact, it happens so frequently that we've just accepted that maybe everyone else knows something we don't. And so we go along with it. Matt's started to pick up on enough of the Spanish that people speak to him that he may be able to pull if off flawlessly before too long. Just call him Mateo. I've always wished for some kind of foreign heritage, especially of the Spanish-type, so it's perfect.

Except that he's actually not actually Hispanic. He's 1/4 Japanese, but he's so big and tall and dark-skinned, that Edie calling him my latin lover--which I just love--is very apt in the looks department. He definitely does not look Oriental. But I digress.

So I will now present to you a casserole that is helping me get in touch with my husband's roots. You know, his imaginary ones.

Mexican Casserole

Here are the players:
(oh, Pioneer Woman, if you only knew how long I've wanted to type that on my own blog! *swoon*)
1-2 lbs chicken, diced according to what size of bites you'd like
1 can each of: Black beans (rinsed)
Sweet corn (drained...does it matter if it's sweet? I don't know)
Spanish rice (not drained)
optional-1/3 c of salsa
No, I'm not going to show you the chicken before it's been cooked. That's just gross. Who likes looking at uncooked chicken? And yes, I do realize that my store-brands don't all match. But don't you just love the cactuses on that Spanish rice?

So you dice your chicken, then you cook it in a bit of oil. I also added some garlic powder, onion powder, and oregano whilst it was browning, but you don't have to. I spice things convulsively. I can't help it; My spice rack is just so cute. When the chicken is all nice and cooked, you open your cans and start dumping things in the very same pan. I like recipes like that. I've tried it both with and without the salsa, and Matt liked it better with. Of course, "his" people generally like their stuff kinda spicy. Don't go read his blog on that. Cook chicken-bean-corn-rice combo for about ten minutes on medium-ish heat. When it's finished cooking, it should look like this, although, truth be told, it looks about the same at the beginning...
Pour the contents of your pan into a 9x13-ish baking dish.

All righty. So now we come to a point where the recipe is joined by two very important new ingredients: tortilla chips and shredded cheese. Mmm...

There are a few different ways you can use the chips. Regardless of which way you pick, you must first crush up the chips...about 1/3 of a bag. You can either stir the chiplets into your chicken-bean-corn-rice mixture, you can layer them on top of your mixture, or you can do both. Pick a way and commit to it. Then sprinkle about a cup of cheese over the whole thing. I would suggest Cheddar or Colby Jack or whatever style the store labels as "Mexican/Taco."

Now slide that baby into a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until all the cheese is melty and beginning to get brown.

And that's it. It is so amazingly good. The only tiny problem is that you have to eat about twice as much as you think you'd have to in order to feel full. I'm not sure that technically qualifies as a problem though. Except I haven't figured out how to ensure leftovers yet.

For those of you who like having things in a nice, orderly fashion:

Mexican Casserole (as adapted by Chris Floyd)

1-2lbs chicken breast, diced
1 can each: black beans (drained and rinsed; I drained, did not rinse)
sweet corn (drained)
Spanish rice (not drained)
optional: 1/3 c. salsa
optional: sliced black olives, jalapenos, etc.

Brown chicken. Add remaining ingredients. Cook for ten minutes. Transfer to 9x13 baking dish.

Add approx. 1/3 bag of crushed tortilla chips and cover with 1 cup of shredded cheese. Bake at 350 degress for 15-20 minutes. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 30, 2009


I forgot the link to Sasha's blog. Consider yourselves all complimented, as I must've assumed you were all so stunningly brilliant in the brains department, that you didn't need some measly link to get you there.

However, I'm a sport. I'm playin' by the rules:


Sasha's giveaway!

My lovely friend Sasha (Lemonade Makin' Mama) is having a fabulous, San-Juan-Island-inspired giveaway. Now while I don't relish the idea of further competition, I do want her to enter my name an extra time, so I'm being "generous" and telling you about it. It's shameless, I know. But the necklace is so darn-tootin' cute I just can't help myself. Did I mention it's made by real live San Juanians!! (We don't think they call themselves that, however.)

Have a splendid day. I'll try to write a real post soon.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


If you don't know his story, this is not the time for me to tell it. Tonight, Sunday at almost midnight, baby Stellan needs our prayers. He has heart conditions and you can read more details about his story and current condition at Tonight his pulse is weak, his condition has been making his heart pound away at 230+ beats per minute for most of the past 48 hours. I can only guess that his parents are terrified, but they also appear to be clinging fast to God. I am so devastated for them. Pray with me for their sweet baby Stellan.

While the camera is still attached to the computer correctly...

These are two of my favorite pictures of my kids. It's hard for me to nail down favorites, but I think you'll agree with me. They are peeking out of the front door of a playhouse at a local hardware store. Nadia took a look and said, "My face is the sun!" It is indeed.

Clearing Throat with a Trace of Embarrassment

So...a few of my pictures below aren't where they're supposed to be. Actually, none of them are where I would've liked them to be. However, it turns out that my wonderful husband does not know how to intersperse photos with text, so I had to compromise and be glad they got on the blog at all. So bear with me. I'll assume that my descriptions are so magnificently worded that you'll have no problem pairing them with the corresponding pictures. And I'll work on layout another time.

The Reigning Queen...just not of photo layout.



This is a long-overdue post. In it, I shall demonstrate why I am the reigning queen of the second "R": Reuse. Eat your heart out, my friend. (It's a friendly competition, doncha know.)

To begin with, we have the shelf above my computer. On it sits the top of an old beer crate (the pretty lady) that I found in my friend's garage many years ago. I guess guys don't care about antique-looking ladies on the tops of beer crates. The jars at the base are all mason-types that have been turned into candle-holders. They're full of shells and smooth stones and of course, candles.

Next we have the chess board bulletin board that is nailed directly next to my computer. That one's kind of self-explanatory.

Also in the entryway, right next to the whole computer area, we have a "bench" that is actually three chairs pressed tightly together. They came with our first piddly little dining set, you know, the kind you buy at K-mart? Or that your aunt buys for you at K-mart and tries to pass off as real furniture? And that you accept because you're young and don't have any other real furniture to speak of, much less real dining furniture.

Ah, the piece de resistance of my kitchen. This dresser is now in service as a sideboard/counter. It was an antique when my grandmother bought it for my newlywed parents back in 1980. It was passed around that side of the family for nearly thirty years and right before it was tossed in a dumpster (can you imagine?!) my brother rescued it and later bequeathed it to us, as he didn't want to put in the necessary work to salvage it. The drawers needed fixing, it's true, but my handy husband only spent about an hour with some wood glue and string to put everything back together. It really warms up our kitchen and makes us so happy. And of course, the storage is an added bonus.

Still in the kitchen, we move on to the top of the dresser. Most of these items are a combination of practical & decorative, a personal favorite of mine. We have 1) the mason jar full of cookie cutters, 2) the mason jar full of rolled fabric scraps, the tea "urn" that holds some of my cooking utensils, the milk jug which has a crack in the bottom and therefore does not hold the flowers I had hoped it would, the teapot I bought at my first auction, 3) the food grinder that I also acquired at my first auction and didn't know what to do with until a couple of months ago when I decided to attach it to the edge of the dresser. No, I do not actually grind food in it. Yet, anyway. 4) The glass decanter I used to use as a flower vase and is now gainfully employed as a dishsoap holder, much cuter than the plastic bottle. (In case you're curious as to what kind of dishsoap is such a lovely shade, I'll tell you. It's Dawn Plus, Hand Renewal Pomegrante Splash with Vitamin E. It smells as good as it looks, maybe even better.) 5) A shelf that I bought at a garage sale years ago for...ready?...25 cents. I know. I used it in my bathroom until a couple of months ago, and then transferred it to the kitchen for use as a spice rack. I love it. 6) Also on top of the dresser, the old-timey fan that would suck in and kill a small child if it was actually turned on. So we don't. But it looks cool. So there it sits. 7) Matthew made a pot rack when he found out he was getting nice stainless steel pots and pans a couple of Christmases ago. I recently hung the lantern up there to see if he would notice and because, like the fan, it looks cool.

Now we're in the master bedroom. A glass and wooden tray I got somewhere (no, I don't know where. Underneath and on top are some linens I found in the bottom of a big box of vintage aprons I bought (can you guess?) at my first auction. (Are you sensing a trend? Is it painfully obvious I've only been to one so far?) Also in my room, a make-shift nightstand constructed a la Country Living out of two trumpet cases and a breakfast-in-bed serving tray. Yes, I play trumpet. No, I won't play a little something for background music.

And finally in my bathroom, we have a huge mirror which I believe used to be a headboard in my neighbor's house. She put it on the side of the road (what? tell me you've never picked something off the side of the road?!) and after scouting it out, I convinced my husband to run over and pick it up before anyone else could. It fits the space perfectly and makes our small bathroom seem much grander. I love the little shelves on the sides.

There you have it, my friends. There are probably other examples, but they're not as cute as these. I hope you've all enjoyed this little tour through my house. For all of you who don't care a pile of beans about reusing or (gasp!) decorating, please come back and try reading on a different day. I'm not always this domestic in my ramblings.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Comment Moderation? Maybe not so much.

Well, last night when I was really tired, comment moderation seemed like a good idea. I mean, I changed the commenting option so that anyone--even anonymous people--could leave comments. That's mostly because my mom's not on gmail and she was having trouble leaving a comment. But then I started worrying that maybe some ill-mannered, unknown, truly anonymous person would leave mean, nasty, disheartening comments and I'd have to delete them.

But THEN I had to moderate a comment from a friend this afternoon and thought to myself "this is no fun. If I don't like waiting for my comment to by blog-owner approved, why would anyone else??" So I took it back off. So if any nasty comments appear, rest assured I'll be deleting them at my earliest possible convenience. Now you know.

Let's all blame Sasha, shall we?

After all, I was trying to get ready, just thought I'd pop over and read her entry for today--because I always know I can count on her to write even when I myself am too lazy/busy to do so. (That was a really long sentence.) Anyway, so when I got there, there was some crazy game that she begged-er, beseeched--me to play. And I can't refuse her. She's too good to me to refuse. So you don't have to play, but so far I'm enjoying myself, so you might give it a whirl.

Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence
* Post that sentence as your comment.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST book! *And now pass it on to the readers of your blog, because you've been tagged...

I thought I'd be reaching for "The Sleepeasy Solution" which has changed my life in many wonderful ways and was sitting out in an obvious look-at-me place. But then I realized that Matt's church bag closer on the bench and figured there was a book in there. How right I was. His Bible was the only book with at least 56 pages in it. It has also changed our lives in many wonderful ways, can I get an amen? So here we go:

Genesis 31:55
Early in the morning Laban arose, and kissed his sons and his daughters and blessed them.

Perhaps I need to cultivate an attitude like Laban--at least in this area. Usually if I'm awake early with my children, I'm most likely to grunt/growl/mumble unintelligably at them to go back to bed. I most certainly do not arise, kiss them, and bless them.

Thought provoking indeed.

All right, perhaps we'll thank Sasha instead of blaming her.

Here's one more that's not part of the game:

Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Now I really must go. I'm supposed to be at the park in an astonishingly small amount of time. Ta-ta!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Splinter

(Note: Despite the husband's ruthless mockery, I will continue as I had planned and tell the story of Kellar's splinter. However, if you like ruthless mockery, or even just need a story that makes you spit with laughter when you try to read it out loud to your friends, you should go read his after you read mine. I just feel it's my duty to tell the real story.)

So yesterday I had one of the hardest experiences of my life. Emotionally, physically, and mentally, I was utterly drained when I finished. I would've rather given birth to another child, this time with no meds, than what I endured at my mother's house yesterday morning.

Kellar has this habit of never wearing shoes. He likes the look of shoes, but his toes just don't like to stay in them. So I'm constantly putting them back on, especially in the summer. This is only a problem in restaurants, church, dark movie theatres, and my mother's back deck.

The first morning he went out without shoes, he came back with 8 little spinters in his sweet little foot. And screamed like a banshee when I tried to extract them. So I've become a vigilent supporter of him keeping his shoes on while he plays outside at my mom's house. Everytime they come off, I try to convince him he should put them back on. Now I don't claim to always win, but I try. And I've learned to ignore the vast majority of the resulting splinters because Kellar is both loud and strong for a 2 year old.

Yesterday was no different. He decided he wanted to wear his yellow rubber boots, because, let's face it, they're cool. So cool, in fact, that I routinely let him wear them, even in the extreme heat of an Indiana July. I just usually bring along extra, less sweaty shoe options for when the boots inevitably turn into mini-furnaces and he can't wear them anymore. As I said before, yesterday was no different.

My fatal mistake was when I tried to be a cool mom and let my kids eat lunch outside on the deck. Had I been anal and made them sit inside at the table, this story would not have needed writing. Darn my coolness. It started with Kellar getting a splinter in the palm of his hand. It looked scary, but most of it came out quickly and easily, so much so that I didn't have to stop nursing Dawson to extract it. True, Kellar did not have his boots on by this point, but for the most part, I didn't think it was possible to get a splinter in your foot while sitting down. Another fatal misjudgement.

Several minutes later, he came back over and showed me the heel of his foot. He had a flap of skin scraped half off and beneath it was a much scarier splinter. On closer inspection, I realized that despite--or maybe because of-- its huge size, it would probably come out easily because I'd be able to grasp the end. Which I tried to do. Recall, I had a baby trying to get his own lunch at the same time. Well this splinter was hurting Kellar much more, as it had gone deep, so he wasn't sitting still and I wasn't able to keep nursing. Kellar started whining/screaming and I said (hollered) "everybody take your food and get in the house.(!)" I needed to have a safe place to confine baby Dawson while I pulled Kellar's splinter out, which at this point was all I thought I'd be doing.

As soon as we all got inside and Dawson was place safely in an excersaucer, I picked up Kellar's foot, confident in my misperception that all I needed was free hands to get it out. That's when my morning really took a dive.

In the short time it took us to walk into the house, the big, protruding end of the splinter had broken off, leaving only the big, submerged end deep under the skin of Kellar's heel pad. Dagnabbit.

So I whisked him upstairs to the bathroom with the most light, rooted around to find my mom's tweezers and tiny nail scissors, hydrogen peroxide, neosporin, and bandaids. At this point, I only thought I'd be cutting away that pesky flap of skin so I coul see what I was doing. Ah, blissful ignorance.

After about 5 minutes of clipping, soaking, prying, and screaming (his, not mine), I realized that I was in over my head. While not an emergency room-type of splinter, it was certainly out of my range of experience in it's depth and orientation. So in the panicky sort of desparation that descends upon all good housewives when they realize their husband would probably be doing something different if he was here(like when I very kindly mowed the lawn for him and then when I was done, the mower would not shut off), I called Matt at work. He did not appreciate the consideration I'd shown in seeking his advice. In fact, he sounded overy annoyed. It was almost naptime for four tired children, so his suggestion to call the doctor and see if I should take him in, did not actually help me. My main concern was that while Kellar was kicking and writhing, I would accidently jab him too deeply and infection (probably a deadly one) would set in. What I needed was practical advice, but at this juncture, Matt had not written his illumined blog entry, so I was left to my own devices.

I went back in to the bathroom to wear Kellar was still obediently soaking his little feet and clutching tightly to an oversized stuffed animal. Keep in mind that this entire dance was performed to the tune of Dawson screaming downstairs in his seat because he didn't want to be there. It turns out that 4 and 5 year old do not try to actively entertain a baby when the TV is on. At this point I made Kellar lie down in the carpeted hall, where the light from the bathroom was still pouring onto the operating surface. I got my tools ready and did indeed grasp his ankle between my knees. 15 grueling minutes later, I had cut down to the splinter, pulled back the new flaps of skin, and pulled out the offending wood chip. Not for a moment did he stop twisting, writhing, kicking, screaming, sobbing. I had to endeavor to turn off my emotions, reminding myself that he sounded very similar when I took the miniscule one out the first time. Of course, this time I knew I was actually hurting him, so it was much harder. When my disbelieving eyes saw the empty hole in his foot, I wanted to burst into tears, but instead swooped him into a crushing mommy-loves-you hug and soothed him the best I could. I then poured more hydrogen peroxide onto his foot, dried it, and bandaged it. I had him walk downstairs to see how he put his weight on it (not bad) and cleaned up my surgery theatre. The baby still screaming, I gave Kellar a new lunch (his had melted out in the sun) and then nursed Dawon to sleep. My whole body felt limp and sad. I called Matt's boss and told him dispiritedly to pass on the good news that the splinter was gone.

If I thought the doctor would've had an easier time, I might've taken him there. But without sedation, it would've just been the same thing, only with a three-hour wait first because we'd have been a walk-in appointment. And no TV to distract the older two kids. And we've just now found a doctor that Kellar's not afraid of, and I didn't want to jeopardize that relationship.

Now that you know the real story, you can have appropriate sympathy for me, instead of mocking me like Matthew did. I will admit that I would've liked to have consumed some alcohol during the whole sorry episode, but nursing and tipsy-ness just do not mix.