Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas in the Air

Did you all have a nice Thanksgiving? Colin and I had a quaint little meal, just the two of us. Don't get me wrong, there was a lot of food that we are still eating! I like Thanksgiving, but CHRISTMAS is my holiday.

The day after Thanksgiving we went to a tree farm to cut down our perfect tree. It was quite chilly-about 20 degrees-but worth it. We had some hot apple cider at the tree farm to warm up and then got some pizza on our way back. We went home and put on some Christmas music and decorated our tree. I wish I had pictures to show you! We have a blue and silver theme. Later that night we sat down with leftover caramel pecan cheesecake pie and watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas. It was a blessed day.

Do you have a favorite Christmas song you love? Here are a few of my favorites:

Peace on Earth- Casting Crowns
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas- Coldplay
The Christmas Song- Nat King Cole
It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year- Andy Williams
Little Saint Nick- The Beach Boys
Breath of Heaven- Amy Grant
Mistletoe- Colbie Caillat
O Holy Night- Josh Groban

You can listen to them on my player below if you would like. Music is what makes Christmas, Christmas. And Jesus. Above all. I can't wait to celebrate his birth in just a short month. I am filled with cheer just thinking about what this next month will bring!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mourning Has Broken

I was reading the October 2010 issue of Oprah's magazine and came across a short story called Mourning Has Broken. Summary on the main page: "In the weeks following his wife's miscarriage, Ian Wallach found himself adrift in a sea of floral arrangements and casseroles. A report on life after loss".

This story particularly struck me. This story brought tears to my eyes. This story perfectly framed the ups and downs, and ins and outs of infertility, miscarriage, and coping.

The last paragraph states, "In a parallel universe, I'm changing diapers and craving sleep, but in this one, the adoption process is under way, so somewhere there is, or is about to be, a child who will find his or her way to us, and we will all catch and protect each other. In due time, I'll rock back and forth, holding a swaddled child. In a whirlwind of joy, embarrassment, and hypocrisy, I may even shamelessly think that everything happens for a reason".

I have never miscarried (never been pregnant), so reading about the kaleidoscope of emotions, the hopes and failed hopes, the shock, the mourning period, and the new beginnings brought a new light to my eyes of just what someone who has gone through this sorrowful experience feels and endures. It taught me that sometimes the best thing to say is, "I don't know what to say. I love you. I'm here."

I love you women. You are all strong. You are all brave. You are all daughters of God, my sisters. And I am here for you. I am here to listen. I am here to give advice. I am here to learn from you. I am here to pray for you. I am here.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Chicken Stew with Biscuits

This is a Barefoot Contessa recipe, very slightly tweaked, I just love. So classic, delicious, and warming. This could be made with your leftover Thanksgiving turkey replacing the chicken. Enjoy!

3 whole (6 split) chicken breasts, preferably bone in, skin on
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 cups chicken stock
2 chicken bouillon cubes
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, chopped
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 cups medium-diced carrots (4 carrots), blanched for 2 minutes
2 cups medium-diced potatoes, blanched for 2 minutes
1 10-ounce package frozen peas (2 cups)
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley

For the biscuits:
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
3/4 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cooked through. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin. Cut the chicken into large dice. You will have 4 to 6 cups of cubed chicken.

3. In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock and dissolve the bouillon cubes in the stock. In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the onions over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the hot chicken stock to the sauce. Simmer over low heat for 1 more minute, stirring, until thick. Add 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and the heavy cream. Add the cubed chicken, carrots, peas, onions, and parsley. Mix well. Place the stew in a 10 x 13 x 2-inch oval or rectangular baking dish. Place the baking dish on a sheet pan lined with parchment or wax paper. Bake for 15 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, make the biscuits. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas. Add the half-and-half and combine on low speed. Mix in the parsley. Dump the dough out on a well-floured board and, with a rolling pin, roll out to 3/8-inch thick. Cut out twelve circles with a 2 1/2-inch round cutter.

5. Remove the stew from the oven and arrange the biscuits on top of the filling. Brush them with egg wash, and return the dish to the oven. Bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, until the biscuits are brown and the stew is bubbly.

Note: To make in advance, refrigerate the chicken stew and biscuits separately. Bake the stew for 25 minutes, then place the biscuits on top, and bake for another 30 minutes, until done.


It is the weekend before Thanksgiving and all I can think about is what I will be making on Thursday. We have got our turkey, potatoes, corn, and cranberry sauce. But, I am still looking for recipes for stuffing, a dessert, and perhaps anything else that catches my eye. It is just going to be Colin and me for Thanksgiving. Unfortunately my family is too far away and Colin will be working a lot that week anyways. And, well, his family is in California and Washington, so that's out of the question. But, I think it will be fun. And, hey, we will have a lot of leftovers!

It is our tradition to cut down our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving...unfortunately Colin works 7a-6p that day, so we may have to do it the day before Thanksgiving, or a few after. Last year was really fun; we found a tree farm that had horse and wagon rides through a snowy path to the trees. After we cut ours down, we took a ride back to the main building, sipped some cider, and waited for our tree to be shook and bound to take home. Oh, I love Christmas!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Waiting vs. Life

After writing my post yesterday about being stuck in a rut waiting for something instead of living and fully embracing life, I found this quote in a magazine:

"While you're waiting for later, you accidentally metamorphose into a person who orders half portions and lives a half life." ~Melanie Gideon

Who wants to live a half life? I want a life full of Life! I want to give 100%. To me, Life means staying true to God's plan for me. Not wasting my time with earthly things, but devoting myself to my Creator and my purpose.

This reminds me of the song Two Hands by Jars of Clay. The lyrics are:

I use one hand to pull closer
The other to push you away
If I had two hands doing the same thing
Lifted high, lifted high

I have heard this song many times, but I find it interesting looking at the lyrics. What I find thought-provoking is that the writer doesn't finish the thought. There is an "if" but not a "then" in this stanza. It lets me think about what would happen to my life if I gave both hands, my all, to God. Later in the song, this stanza is sung:

And if we just keep digging we can reach the foundation
Of our souls
And if we just keep cutting all the chains from our hearts
We’ll lose control

Lose control? That doesn't sound good....but no, we must give up control to let God control. We must break the chains that are holding us back from letting go and letting God.

Random infertility story:
I have been taking prescription prenatal pills since July. Two months ago, I started a 3-month prescription of birth control pills to regulate my cycles and hormones, and hopefully get rid of my ovarian cysts. Well, it happened that I ran out of both at the same time, so I went to our local Walgreens to get the prescriptions refilled. Nothing was said when we dropped them off. Colin and I went in to pick them up an hour later, and the pharmacist wanted to talk to me. I don't know what kind of trick he thought I was pulling, but he questioned me because of the contradiction of birth control pills and prenatal pills. Did he think I was going to sell the birth control pills? I believe my doctor that prescribed them to me told me that women are supposed to begin taking prenatal pills well before they get pregnant, so I would think that I'm not the first person buying both at the same time. I just wanted to point to my husband to the pharmacist and say, "He's a police officer. I'm not doing anything illegal." But no, I had to explain to him in front of other customers and pharmacy techs that I have PCOS and the pills are temporary to get rid of cysts. Anyways, it is never fun having infertility, but sometimes others magnify this for you, and it's unfortunate. Won't it be a nice day when (and if) we don't have to deal with infertility anymore?

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Greetings! Today is Saturday, or my new favorite word, satyourday. I enjoy this concept of Saturday being 'your' day. Perhaps this means taking extra time to relax and enjoy your morning coffee or an afternoon tea. Perhaps it means taking an hour to read a good book or delve into another favorite hobby of yours. Or perhaps it means spending extra precious moments just 'being' with your beloved and family. What do you enjoy most about your day? 

I think I've been meant to realize that I can do anything I want to in life. I need to learn to live in the moment, the here-and-now, not the 'what-ifs'. If you have struggled with the what-ifs in life, how have you overcome it? I could always use some good advice and prayer. May God bless your Satyourday, your spirit, and your health.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Raspberry Muffins

Muffin Ingredients:
2 eggs
1/2 C canola oil
1 tsp almond extract
1 C sour cream
2 C flour
1 C sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 bag frozen raspberries

Topping Ingredients:
1/2 C pecans
1/3 C brown sugar
1/4 C flour
2 Tbsp butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Stir wet ingredients.
3. Mix dry ingredients and slowly stir into wet ingredients just until blended.
4. Stir in raspberries.
5. Pour mix into a dozen large muffin cups in muffin tin sprayed with canola oil spray, 2/3 full.
6. Mix toppings together and sprinkle on top of muffins.
7. Bake approximately 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sweet Home Wisconsin

I promised pictures and I am delivering! Enjoy the tour of our new apartment.

Golf-course view from our balcony. Peaceful and lovely. Sadly, the leaves have mostly fallen and snow is soon to come. But, I'm sure the trees will look beautiful frosted.

This is a general view as you walk into the apartment. The cat tree takes center stage. Spoiled kitties. My piano and harp are on the right side.

 Our entertainment living area. I love to just lounge around and read a book on the sofa or cuddle with Colin while watching a movie.

The kitchen, another room I love to be in. I always enjoy experimenting with new recipes. I think the kitchen is the heart of the home. You can't see it very well, but that is a Thomas Kinkade calendar in the upper right corner. We love his paintings.

Dining area. Quickest way to a man's heart IS through his stomach!


Office and workout room combined. That's what happens when you go from a 3 bedroom to a 2 bedroom, but it works. This is also where Colin's closet is. What can I say, I have a lot of clothes and shoes!

Dahlia napping.

Mercedes napping. So cute and cuddly.

That's it! Hope you enjoyed the tour. I am off to make Colin and myself a ham and swiss wrap and sweet potato fries. Have a lovely day!