Hospitality, Friendship, Encouragement

Friday, January 31, 2014

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I had several requests for the recipe for Chicken Tortilla soup that we LOVE, so here is the link.  

We use Ree Drummond's recipe with a few changes to suit us.  We don't add the cornmeal, nor do I cut up tortillas to put in. And so far we haven't garnished with chopped tomatoes or avocado, though that would be yummy.

We do add white beans sometimes, and we really like it with corn added in.  We garnish with sour cream and cheese and we break up tortilla chips on top or we lightly fry up some tortilla strips.

The most time consuming thing is cooking the chicken but that could be done on a different day and stored in the freezer or the fridge.  

This soup has a bit of a kick to the flavor - that's just how we like it!

We also double or triple this recipe - we like to have it left over for the next day!  So, good!

*******************************************************If you want to see the website for Lindsay and Joseph's wedding, there is a link in yesterday's blog post!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Wedding Prep - Wedding Website

The invitations have gone out and the RSVP's are coming in.  We have 29 days until the wedding.

29 days.  

We are still smiling here.  

A cool thing about modern technology is the ability to have an online location to RSVP, rather than having a card to fill out and mail back.

I mentioned to them about doing a website that would have their story, a place for photos, a place to RSVP.  Joseph built this website from scratch, and I thought you might like to see it!

We also met with a local baker today.  We got to test out several flavors of cake.  We are doing a small three tiered cake, and then are getting several sheet cakes as well. Each tier is a different flavor, Lemon, Triple Berry and Chocolate, with the most scrumptious butter cream!  

This baker, Rachel Wolf, is very talented and has her own professional kitchen at her home.  I love helping someone with their own small business, Berries and Butter Cakes.  

So now, we are basically ready.  I would like to find some shoes, we need to exchange shoes for a bridesmaid…small things.  God is good.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What's In Your Refrigerator?

As I looked in the fridge last night, I was so pleased with the 7 quarts of leftover Chicken Tortilla Soup.  We love this soup!
Anyway,  I had the idea to show you what I have currently in my fridge.

 This Italian soda is delicious.  I found it at a local discount grocer for $1.49 a bottle.  We had never tried this before so we bought two of the orange and one of the grapefruit soda.  They were both really good and refreshing.  All natural ingredients.

 We cook mainly from scratch around here - and I use a lot of the Better Than Boullion soup bases.  These are large organic versions from Costco that cost the same amount as the smaller jars from the grocery store.  Two kinds of salsa, because that's how we roll around here.  Fresh eggs, tortillas.

 Big can of 100% Columbian for my coffee lovers!  Real butter, cream cheese, buttermilk, condiments, chocolate syrup.

 Two Chobani yogurts
Cheeses - shredded mozzarella, shredded cheddar, and Farmer's Cheese.  So, so good.

 Lots of salad fixings.  We love salads around here!

 Gala apples and red grapes.

Our favorite grape juice.

What's in your refrigerator?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Wedding Prep - Invitations

The invitations went out yesterday!  I wish you could see the way they look with the addresses showing!  So lovely!

We also did a round label for the back of the envelope with a logo designed for them with a tree of life and their initials!

It is part of the design for their invitation.  This has been a fun process.  Our friend Amy is good with graphics and we sat down with her to discuss what they wanted and she played made several samples and they changed things, added something and then Voila'.  They were done.

We compiled addresses, had them printed, printed the envelopes and out they went!

We are eager to hear from our guests!  Can't wait to see how they like the invitations and whether they can join us on the big day!

Here are a few shots of the options for the invitations.

The invitations are not vastly different from this, but as they have not reached everyone yet, we didn't want to show the real thing!

I am happy to have a place to journal this journey to the wedding of our daughter to this wonderful young man.  

God is good.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Good Life

We had a good weekend.  Time with family and friends, church, fellowship, and good food.

When I wrote my post on Saturday about my breakfast with eggs from our chickens, I thought that most would roll their eyes and say,"that was a waste of two minutes."

But you didn't.  It touched something in people.  Most comments had to do with wishing that they could have chickens of their own. As I was reading Brenda's weekend posts, and then emailing with Debbie this morning, my thoughts came together about this.

I've always wondered why we romanticize past eras and wish we could have lived 'back then.'  I don't think it is a desire to not have indoor plumbing, or cell phones or the internet, but the desire to have a simpler life.  One that makes us feel secure, whether in values or in the ability to be more self sustaining.

I grew up in Southern California in a house that's property measured 40 ft by 120 ft.  It was zoned R2 which meant that the property could have two individually owned houses on it.  Look again at the size of the lot.  My parents current home here is on a half acre of land and the property they owned in California would fit in the front yard of their current home.  I say all this only to say that I never dreamed that I would live on a 4 acre property or that I would have horses and chickens.

I stand in awe of what God has done for us.  We weren't looking to recreate Little House on the Prairie when we were looking for a new house.  We just wanted some elbow room.  Space to let our kids play and explore and experience nature.  Have a dog or two.  Maybe a cat.

We couldn't find anything in our price range in the 1/2 acre category and were discouraged.  Then one day we "happened" upon this property.  The house was a mess, the property overgrown - we didn't even know it had a creek!  It was for sale by owner and the owners wanted to get rid of it quickly.  We bought it for less than half of what the land would have been worth, and set about fixing it up.

This included tearing out all the carpets and linoleum (they were all trashed), pulling down all the door trims, replacing every door in the house (thankful for a regular construction auction).  We painted, planted, cleared brush, put in central air and propane heat.

Then the Lord provided riding lessons for Lindsay and the next year a chance to own a horse.  A small inheritance from my grandmother allowed us to fence in nearly two acres and Tim started clearing trees and undergrowth.  We built a barn.

We try to garden, and keep working at it because we love fresh food.  This lead to chickens.  Now we have fresh eggs, too.  Last year we put in four fruit trees; two apple and two peach.  We may try to raise some meat chickens.

It's not about wanting more work to do, but its about being able to be self sustaining, even just a little bit.  I don't know about you but food prices just keep going up and we don't like to eat a lot of processed foods, that are not really food but chemicals.  And with the severe drought in California food prices will rise again.  Big time.  You can see a Weather Channel article here.  My friend shared the following statistics -

California is the nation's number one dairy state.
California's leading commodity is milk and cream. Grapes are second.
California's leading export crop is almonds.
Nationally, products exclusively grown (99% or more) in California include almonds, artichokes, dates, figs, kiwifruit, olives, persimmons, pistachios, prunes, raisins, clovers, and walnuts.
From 70 to 80% of all ripe olives are grown in California.
California is the nation's leading producer of strawberries, averaging 1.4 billion pounds of strawberries or 83% of the country's total fresh and frozen strawberry production. Approximately 12% of the crop is exported to Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Japan primarily. The value of the California strawberry crop is approximately $700 million with related employment of more than 48,000 people.

California produces 25% of the nation's onions and 43% of the nation's green onions.

We need to be paying attention, and trying to do all we can to find local sources of food.

Life is good.  We are living with the effects of the economy, money is tight, so what is good is not about having a lot of money.  Its richness comes from a good God who gives us abundantly above what we ask or think.

This is the key, my friends.  Its God who provides…relationships, fellowship, food, resources…everything we need.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Saturday Breakfast

I was up first this morning and had a bit of quiet.

I decided to make breakfast for myself, which always translates to cooking extra, because as soon as I start someone else shows up in the kitchen ready to eat!

 Beautiful, fresh eggs.  Our chickens are giving us these lovely beauties everyday.

 Lovely, orangey yolks.  

Yummy, crusty artisan bread.

With real butter of course.

Delicious and just right on a snowy morning.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Road Goes Ever On And On…

And so it begins…Tim has started to read aloud The Fellowship of the Ring.  

This has become a favorite time of day, the work of the day being done, and the relaxing begins.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Keepin' It Real

It's 9:02 pm on Tuesday evening, and it is still snowing.  It's been snowing for more than twelve hours.

These are photos from early afternoon.

As a lover of my home, part of the fun of home keeping is finding ways to make our space work for us at different times of our lives.
A hardworking tool I have in my kitchen is my Kitchen Aide.  It used to live on the counter, but was in the way when we weren't baking.  A month or so ago, I determined to do something with the space at the top of the basement stairs, that tended to have piles of stuff build up there including bags of potatoes, egg cartons, and so forth.  Sigh.  Not very nice looking or organized.  Frankly it was frustrating.

Rachel was looking for a project and so I thought of this old kitchen cart (it used to have wheels) that we've had downstairs doing nothing.  I bought a quart of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Emperor's Silk, let her paint the cart.  

It looks great and I moved a basket I had in another room onto the shelf to hold the potatoes etc, settled the Kitchen Aide in its new home.  It is a good spot for it with a handy plug.  It has allowed us to give ourselves space on the counter but also to reclaim this space for a much better use than it had.

In the interest of keepin' it real - you can see the the cat food in the jar, the dog treats next to the basket, the fire extinguisher, and my husbands lunch box, which is usually in front of the cart.

This photo shows what the kids occupied themselves with today while the snow came down, down, down.  After we did school of course!  No snow days for us!

In the background, also keepin' it real, are dishes in the sink, clean dishes on the sink, and a pan of freshly baked granola.  

Yes, we live in our house and sometimes it's messy.  Sometimes relationships are messy, as a wise friend mentioned to me.  That is so true.  Thankfully we have fresh mercies every morning and during the day too.

We've been happily listening to Tim read in the evenings, a book by E.D.E.N. Southworth, called "Ishmael."  I think we will finish it this evening.  Some of us are lobbying for him to start "The Fellowship of the Ring," by J.R.R. Tolkien next.

Keepin' it real again, I spent today wondering why no one had commented on the post I did last evening.  This evening I figured out why.  I posted it on the blog I keep to host my blogroll!  Duh!  If you'd like to read it, you can go here.  

Ah, life.  I am thankful for it, craziness and all.  

Monday, January 20, 2014

So Happy Together!

 These photos were taken last night with my phone, as we stood in the house that Lindsay and Joseph are going to begin their married life together in.  We were there to move some things in, Joseph is living there now.

It is the cutest brick cape cod, perfect for a young couple just starting out. 

I wanted to share one photo of the house - the kitchen!  
Isn't it cute?  Old fashioned charm with modern appliances!  

It seems as if everyday brings some sort of new excitement.  What a blessing to walk alongside Lindsay and Joseph and Joseph's family during this special time.

We are going to get a lot of snow today - I have a slow rise artisan bread going (started it last night) that Dotsie mentioned to me.  I think it is going to be good.  I'm excited to see how it turns out!  The link for the bread is here.  I'd like to try out some of the variations on this bread as seen here.

What's happening in your world today?

I'm In Fine Fettle

My brain works in mysterious ways some days.  I was trying to come up with a title for this post and that phrase is what popped into my mind.

I don't know where it came from exactly, but as I considered it I thought "is it even a real phrase/word?"  "Fettle?"  Where do I get this stuff?

So I googled it and found that it is a phrase, though more accurately to "be in fine fettle" which by definition is to be "very healthy or working well."

That I am.  I am feeling good.  

I had a busy but fun weekend - got my hair cut, had lunch with Lindsay and we got her invitations printed on Saturday.  Yesterday included a fellowship meal after church, our monthly ladies meeting, and then a few of us went to Starbucks.  I don't usually go to Starbucks as I am not a coffee drinker, but I went for continued fellowship.  I got a chocolately chip cold drink which was overpriced (of course) but yummy.  

Emily went along too, and she got to hold Ben.  Ah Ben!  Joseph's littlest sibling!  Isn't he darling?

Miss Kamryn is home after spending the weekend with her other grandparents.  We missed her - we are used to her being around everyday!

I've been getting up and getting my bike riding in before my day gets going.  Trying to do it part way through the day just wasn't working.  So that discipline is going pretty well.  

I need to get going and read our history and then do science with Kyle and Sarah.  Then we have reading to do, and some writing.

 I plan to do some bread baking today, too.  I want to get back to making artisan bread to have with our meals.

Lindsay and Joseph sighed a rental agreement on a cute little house today!  We will be taking some things over to their house later.  I miss spoke the other day, based on the fridge countdown - but today makes 40 days until March 1st.   It's coming quickly!

Have a good day friends!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

I Walk The Line

One aspect of wedding planning that I didn't really envision was the balancing act I would need to do in the family.  

On the one hand I am an event planner (though never paid!).  It's my 'thing.'  On the other hand this is Lindsay and Joseph's wedding and not mine, and I want the wedding and reception to reflect them.  On the other hand, I know that as the M*O*B it will reflect on me as well.  Lindsay is laid back, I like to get things done.  So I find my self walking a line here of not pushing what I think or what I want.  That's good for us both and with 40 days until the big day, we have everything basically finished.  Invites will be printed this week and sent out to our guests.  

This is our running tally board that is on our refrigerator!

The other line I walk is between my work as the wedding coordinator and my real job of wife and mother.  We still need to get our school work done, have meals, get groceries.  I try to keep focused on what I need to do at the moment and not let all the "must do's" crowd in.  One thing at a time, is my motto.  An example this week was working out the challenges of a junior bridesmaid unhappy with her dress, trying to find a solution, while also having to deal with getting Rachel's cello repaired.  How did it work out?  Well, the junior bridesmaid has accepted that her dress doesn't have sleeves (this was her issue) and thanks to Rachel's cello teacher, we found a repair shop that does quality work, reasonably priced, that was only 20 minutes away.  He got it done in one day as well!

This junior bridesmaid loves her dress, belt, and shoes!

A third line I walk is an emotional one.  Balancing time spent with a beloved daughter who will soon be in her own home, and yet not focusing totally on her.  We have 6 other children, an nearly daughter in law and a granddaughter.  Oh and I have a husband.  

This guy is so excited by his suit!

It's not a bad thing to 'walk the line.'  In fact, I think it's good for me.  It requires patience, and giving and receiving grace from each other.  It requires the Lord's help in every aspect.  We are still smiling here, and rejoicing in God's goodness.

I need to run - haircut today, it's badly needed and it will put me on track for the next one being timed for the week of the wedding!  Perfect!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Wedding Prep - Engagement Photos

I had dinner with my friend Amy last night and we downloaded the photos she had shot of them on Monday.  They had gone back to Longwood Gardens - the place of their engagement.  I was blown away.

Thank you sweet friend for the gift of these photos.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Note Card Party January 2014

It's time for January's Note Card Party!  Pop over to Vee's if you want to join us.

This month I wanted to make cards from my photos of the Susquehanna River from Susquehannock State Park.  The first two are from Monday.  The other two are from a blog post from the first year I blogged - 2007.  

I thought these would make great cards for guys.

Monday, January 13, 2014

A Rare Day In January

The weather being particularly fine this morning found us out the door in the late morning and on our way to a nearby State Park. 

 Happily, I remembered my camera!  

 The kids are growing up so quickly.  

It was a fun way to get Physical Education done today.

 More young lady now, than girl.  Beautiful inside and out….

It's beautiful thing to have these days together.  All too soon, comes adulthood and marriage and grandchildren.

I am thankful for it all and drinking in the fun and the joy.

We came home for lunch, and more school work, resting time and the mail!  These days there are such fun packages arriving!

Information Friday, On Saturday

  Well, I was all set to do a post yesterday, but I had trouble uploading my photos. I really thought I'd get it done in the evening, bu...