Archive for February, 2010

February 26: The Journey to Sanity

Posted: February 28, 2010 in Uncategorized

The very week Whitney returned from her honeymoon – more than three years ago – we started making freezer meals together.  I found a web site I really liked that gave detailed menus, prep instructions and shopping lists and we decided it was the best way for her to tackle the wife-war that is COOKING.  Turns out, the poor child was raised by a woman who loved to cook and loved to teach…and yet totally failed to teach her daughter how to cook.  So sad, and I’m still trying to rectify that whole situation.

Here are some things I love about freezer meals and, specifically – Saving Dinner – the site we use for most of what we make.

  • Nothing is cooked ahead – it’s just prepped.  I don’t like programs that have you do the cooking ahead and then just thaw and re-heat at dinner time.  For most foods, prep, cook, freeze, re-cook = blech.
  • This program does not require the expensive freezer dishes and does not revolve around the sacred casserole.  Freezer bags, baby!
  • Money!  We’ve done this a lot of different ways, and it just saves us a ton of money.  I’ll give you the dirt on that in a bit.
  • Time!  Though preparing a few weeks’ worth of meals definitely eats up a chunk of our day (about 3 hours to make 10-15 meals)  it is so worth it to come home from work and have time to sit and relax while dinner cooks.  Another thing that’s been great is to have meals at the ready when I run into someone who needs one.
  • Fun!  Whit and I love this day.  It definitely gets long and there are moments when we just stand back and look at the calamity that is my kitchen in astonishment and dread, but we play music and talk and have time hanging out and it really is totally fun.

So, Friday was the day.  Here’s Whit working on Chicken Parmesan:

(Yeah, the people who owned our house before us liked the multi-colored theme.  We’ve been saying for five years we WILL.  Change.  These.  Counters.  And yet…there they stay.)

For this one, we do the pounding of the chicken, the breading process and then we freeze those on a cookie sheet (otherwise they’ll stick together) while we make the rest of the meals.  In three or four hours, Whit will pull these guys out of the freezer and put them in our very favorite thing:  a freezer bag!  In another bag she’ll put the parmesan & mozzarella cheese that bakes on top and in another, the marinara sauce.  She’ll put all those bags together for a dinner kit which she can assemble and cook after work in about 30 minutes and serve with pasta.  Or it could be, that this particular meal will never actually see the light of her freezer.  It could be that it was cooked that very night for dinner.  That’s how Whit rolls with the Chicken Parmesan.

We needed 20 cloves of minced garlic for all these recipes and the food processor handled that job in about 1.2 seconds flat.  It also took care of about a million onions.  I would never get the food processor out for one recipe – but for 10 meals, it’s totally worth it and it cuts the prep time in half.

We LOVE freezer bags!  And Taco Soup – we made a HUGE batch because we both like to put it in the crock pot before church and then know we can invite lots of people over for lunch afterward.

Speaking of Taco  Soup – there it is now!  Mine is on the right – we like it with more spice, more lime and more cilantro than Whit and Corey do, so we keep them separate.

Foil packets with fish, asparagus, a balsamic marinade and sesame seed.  These guys can go right onto the grill for 20 minutes or so.  Easy peesy!

So, here’s what we made.  Whit took home enough for three, so they can have company or leftovers for lunch and I keep enough for 5-6.  Her meals ended up being $5.33 each and mine were about $10 even.

  • Apricot Glazed Chicken
  • Cuban Pork
  • Jambalaya
  • Sloppy Joes
  • Mexican Chicken
  • Chicken Parmesan
  • Taco Soup
  • Parmesan Tilapia
  • Ginger Pork Stir Fry
  • Asparagus Balsamic Cod

Behold:  Ten meals.  Two prep hours (lists & grocery shopping).  Three hours actual meal prep.  One hour cleanup. A pretty great way to spend the day!  The only thing missing?  One girl to sit on the counter, telling us complex and unrelated stories.  Oh, how I’m longing for spring break!

February 25: The Journey Begins

Posted: February 25, 2010 in Uncategorized

Tomorrow,

Whitney and I

will launch

a mealitary strike (is too a word).

We will turn these peace-loving little groceries

into a freezer full of No Stress at Dinnertime.

Don’t miss it!

Behold: Good food and a great daughter to cook with.  Life’s a dream sometimes.

I almost hate to write this because I know how many people aren’t currently in this same position.  In fact, I haven’t always been in this position.  Tons of people hate their jobs.  Even more people are bored with their jobs.  Still more see their jobs only as a means to a paycheck; a way to pay for their time off.  Having been in every one of those scenarios, I am now reluctantly thrilled to say:  I love my job.  Love it.  Love going to work in the morning.  Love Mondays.  Just love it.  And it’s funny, because I’ve been working at this church for 8 years, but I haven’t always loved what I do there.  That’s not an indictment on my pastor or anyone else – it’s just how life is sometimes.  But, right now, I’m so thankful to be excited to show up at work and fulfilled when I leave.   Here are some reasons why:

  • In a big church, where it’s super easy to get lost in the crowd, I get to help people find a place where they can find friendship, support and ways to grow.
  • In a world where the next generation is being lost, I get to invest real time in real lives.   Consequently, I also get to go to weddings where I see that the miraculous love of Jesus has brought the right people together for the right reasons.  It’s really just a great thing.
  • I get to teach courses I LOVE like Communications and Church History and Women’s Issues.  Oh, I love to teach the stuff I love to teach…and I would hate teaching things I don’t love so I’m thankful that Jay – our CLC Director – let’s me stick with the stuff that makes me happy to study and happy come to work.
  • I recently upgraded to an office with a window that looks out to….outside.  While I’ll miss my primo view into the hall, I’m so happy with my new digs!
  • My co-workers are some of the best and hardest-working people in the world.  From the front desk to the maintenance office, these  people care about the kingdom in ways that astound and challenge me to do more, be more, love more.

It’s taken 25 years of working for a living to find the thing I love to do…and it’s not at all the thing I expected I would love to do.  So, if you’re still trying to figure out what you want to be when you grow up, take heart.  You’ll get there.  You’ll find it.   Just don’t get stuck.  Don’t trade adventure and fulfillment for security and a 401K.  Find what you love and do it with all your heart and you’ll find yourself excited to wake up on Monday mornings.

Behold: my job.  I am humbled and grateful.

February 23: Little Things

Posted: February 23, 2010 in Uncategorized
  • Great day at work – whew!
  • Casserole pulled from my Mennonite heritage – delicious!
  • Survivor Season 2, Disc 2 just showed up in my mail box – yahoo!
  • Steve is home.  Well, he’ s at a sales retreat, but he’ll be home by 8 – hallelujah!
  • It’s snowing outside and wood is ready and waiting to be turned into warmth in the wood stove – fire!

Really, some days I have to  intentionally look to find the treasure….but when I do,  it’s there.  It glistens and gleams beneath the surface of ordinary, difficult, real-life days.  It’s not any less-real than the hard stuff, it’s just less-noisy.

Less flashy.

But it’s there.

And it’s beautiful.

Behold: the little things.

February 20: Green

Posted: February 20, 2010 in Uncategorized

After reading Psalm 23 maybe 100 times in my life, and hearing it read at funerals even more than that, today I read it for the first time.

Few literary passages say so much with so few words.  In only six verses, David weaves together a picture of a life that can only be described as idyllic.  As I read, I kept asking myself, “Do I really believe this?  Do I really live like this?”  One verse that especially stood out was this one:

“He lets me lie down in green pastures…”

Here’s my journal on it:

Rest. What a beautiful word. The older I get, the more I embrace it. The more I understand the restorative powers of rest and its ability to free up space in my soul to create and dream.  Of all the scriptures in the Word, this is probably the one that evokes the deepest feelings.  I’m realizing that He is constantly leading me to places where I can retreat and restore, but it’s easy to miss the chance to really absorb it and take it in.  In fact, if I’m not paying attention I can miss entirely a chance to be renewed because I’m wishing for a Big Vacation.

For me, green pastures look like:

  • buttered toast on the first snow day
  • fresh cotton sheets
  • a crackling fire on a cold Bend day
  • breakfast on a sunny patio
  • sleeping next to Steve
  • potato soup
  • funnel cakes at the fair with my kids
  • sunset at the Spedick’s house in Pacific City
  • dinner at the Pelican Pub
  • sleeping in on my day off of work
  • warm summer evenings on my deck
  • a good book on a rainy afternoon
  • my prayer room in the mornings
  • the first cup of coffee.

These are the green pastures of my life and writing them down reminds me that He does so often lead me there. He lets me lie down. This isn’t a forced march to my destiny; it’s a beautiful journey with many places to stop and sit and enjoy His company.

Behold: Green pastures. Where are yours?

February 18: A Mile in Your Shoes

Posted: February 18, 2010 in Uncategorized

Love these:

Love these:

Especially love this:

Behold: The beautiful blending of a great shoe, a great band and a great cause.  That’s a fun way to start the day!

Congratulations, Elliot!  So proud of you guys!

February 17. Back again.

Posted: February 17, 2010 in Uncategorized

Oh goodness, where has the time gone?  Remember when I stressed over missing a post?  Yeah, those were the good ol’ days.

My husband came home from Orlando and took me to The Benson in Portland for our 25th anniversary.  The word “wonderful” is tiny, inadequate…anemic…to describe how delightful our time was together.  Oh, how I love that guy!  Oh, how I love The Benson.  I’m going to show you a picture.  But first a disclaimer:

Tess took it.

She was also in Portland to spend time with her sister, and while Tess is great photographer, she just doesn’t see the world the way the rest of us normal folks see it.  Therefore, when I say, “take a shot of our awesome 12th-floor hotel room for my blog, this is where we land:

Sorta hard to see the room?  Don’t worry – I totally understand!  That’s why we had her take another one:

And another, completely different perspective:

In case these photos are too “big-picture” for you and you’re wondering what the details of The Benson really look like, I’ve gotcha covered:

I tell you, that window latch will be something that lives on in my memory for years and years to come.

Seriously, though, I ADORE photos by the brilliant and beautiful red-head that Jesus gave to us.  Here’s Portland through her lens:

(I LOVE this one because it reminds me of the hours that Steve and I spent under a big umbrella, walking from store to french bistro to store.  It also reminds me of the walk that Tess and I took around the block without an umbrella so she could get a few shots.  Truly, so much fun!)

Finally…we face head-on the Stern woman fear of public restrooms.  Especially public restrooms in a city larger than Bend.

Behold, a perfect weekend in a perfect city and the not-quite-but-almost-perfect family to spend it with.  I am abundantly, exceedingly blessed.