Friday, November 30, 2007

What's Cookin'

Last week I tried this recipe out and we all loved it—Almond Maple Granola. (I used pure maple syrup and substituted flax seed for the wheat germ.) I think I’ll make some more this week. It’s been great to put on yogurt, eat as cereal, etc.

MondayPesto Chicken Panini, fresh fruit and vegetables

TuesdayChicken Tetrazzini (this is a Giada recipe and the sauce is out of this world), scalloped carrots


Thursday—Tacos and all the fixings. All Recipes has an excellent homemade taco seasoning recipe.

FridayBeef stew, honey wheat rolls (a new recipe from a T.O.H. cook book; if it’s good I’ll post it)

Saturday—Leftovers or take-out

Sunday—Brunch w/ the fam.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Child's Prayer and Hope for Mom

Meredith’s prayers are getting longer and reflecting more of her own heart. I’m so grateful that Kevin has consistently taught her to pray about personal things, by guiding her words at first during mealtimes and family worship. Now she prays spontaneously about things that are important to her and things that are on her mind, without much, if any, prompting. We serve a God who wants a personal relationship with us. It makes my heart glad to see Meredith personalize her prayers.

The other day she said, “Father God, thank you for daddy getting spit-up [the flu], and then getting no spit-up anymore [he got better]. Thank you for mommy and Clara. She’s just a little baby. I love you. Amen. And thank you for eggs! Amen.”

Often Meredith says, “I’m sorry for my sins, please forgive me.” Yesterday, however, she said, “Thank you for my sins.” Oops.

She also prays about random things she does during the day. I love hearing this because I know we serve a God who actually cares about things a child does. She always thanks God for the “Chillseum” [Children’s museum] whenever she goes, for instance.

The other day she said, “Thank you for Meredith. She is soooo obedient.”

It’s scary to be a parent because I know there are so many things I could do wrong, without even realizing it. And it’s not just the things I do, it’s the things I might not do. Should I be doing more? It’s the omissions I’m worried about more than anything else. Am I doing enough to help Meredith and Clara reach their potential?

I guess I’m encouraged by these prayers because it reminds me that there’s really only one thing that’s ultimately important—encouraging my children to love God and walk with Him. If I can do that, then the rest doesn’t matter quite so much.

Yule Slide

Have any of you Indy people out there taken your kids to the “Jolly Days Winter Wonderland” exhibit at the Children’s museum yet?

We went for the first time this morning and it was probably the most fun we’ve had there yet. I think we could have spent the entire day on the Yule Slide. All three of us (Meredith, Clara, and me) went down together twice. We were planning on a third time together but Meredith accidentally went down by herself before we could get behind her. I thought she would be terrified because it spits you out pretty fast when you get to the bottom. But she LOVED it.

She also enjoyed the ice castle, going “ice fishing,” and the story time with Mrs. Claus. Everything was festive at the Children’s museum today. Even the carousel music was “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”

I feel like I need to go shopping tonight, or something, and wear my Santa hat around the house. I’m totally in the Christmas mood!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Monday, November 26, 2007


Here is a letter I wrote this week to the Children's Museum of Indianapolis. Why am I posting this on my blog? Because blogs are for random things like this, why else?

Dear Sir or Madam:

My family has been a member of the Children’s Museum since February of last year. We have been very pleased with the Children’s Museum and plan to continue our membership for years to come.

I am writing, however, to express my dismay that Burger King was removed from the Children’s Museum food court.

We were always so impressed that there was a Burger King to begin with because we had expectations of inflated food prices at the museum. Now we are very sad to see that the Children’s Museum has gone back to price-gouging concessionaires.

It was refreshing to see a change from the typical high-price museum eating options.

Because of Burger King, families had an affordable option to eat out with their children at the museum. Now families will be forced to pay premium prices for lunch for their kids.

Additionally, the Children’s Museum prides itself on creating kid-friendly experiences. Burger King was a part of that. My daughter always loved ending her mornings at the Children’s Museum with a Burger King meal and getting the BK crown to wear home. We are all sad that she will no longer have that to look forward to.

It is unfortunate that Burger King was removed from the Children’s Museum food court. If there is any way to reverse this decision or bring in another kid-friendly, affordable eating option, our family and numerous others would be very appreciative.

I would love to hear from you as to why this decision was made and whether it is possible to remedy it.

Very sincerely,

Amy Koons
Mother of Meredith (age 2) and Clara (age 4 months) and
Children’s Museum Member

60 Years

This weekend my grandparents celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. Because of Kevin’s looming finals we were unable to attend but my thoughts were with the family as they commemorated this special event.

I am deeply honored to have grandparents who have loved each other and kept their marriage commitment for six decades. In an age of hook-ups, infidelity, and rampant no-fault divorce, their 60th anniversary takes on even more significance.

My grandparents have been an excellent example to me of constant love. I’m and thankful beyond words for this heritage.

It's Monday, It's a Menu

Here's what's up for this week:

MondayTangy Turkey and Swiss sandwiches, fruit salad

Tuesday—Chicken and noodles, vegetable, apple sauce


Thursday—Pizza and green salad

FridayAwesome Honey Pecan Pork Chops, couscous, vegetable

Saturday—Reuben Sandwiches, chips, fruit

Sunday—Catherine’s gruyere chicken, rice pilaf, vegetable

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Two Kids and a Squirrel

Today I watched Meredith and her friend Sol run around in the park chasing various squirrels. It gave me great pleasure to watch two carefree children enjoy their youth. When you’re young anything is possible and an adventure is always waiting for you to discover it.

I could hardly believe it but they came really close to those squirrels. Then, the squirrels would climb up a tree and Meredith and Sol would circle the tree pointing their little two-year-old fingers, smiles plastered all over their faces.

Sol was here because he’s now a big brother. Welcome to the world little Eden Rose!

Here's a pic I took this morning. M and S kept fighting over who would get to "take care of" Clara. Cute.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

What's Cookin'

Here’s this week’s menu! Can’t wait for Thanksgiving! My mouth is watering already.

Monday—Leftover sweet and sour meatballs, salad greens

Tuesday—Dinner w/ the family; I’m bringing Pumpkin Cake w/ Mascarpone Icing

WednesdayDave’s black bean (from freezer) and cornbread

Thursday—Thanksgiving Feast; I’m bringing twice-baked sweet potatoes, pumpkin risotto, and cranberry dipping sauce, and I’m thinking about trying this recipe too ‘cuz it looks so yummyroasted baby pears with herbed goat cheese. I’m also roasting another turkey.

Friday—Thanksgiving leftovers. Another party; I’m bringing roasted red pepper dip and chips.

SaturdayReuben Sandwiches (one of our favorites), chips, fruit

Sunday brunch—Italian Almond Coffee Cake, ham and cheese frittata, fresh fruit

Friday, November 16, 2007


Just wanted to encourage everyone to join us in seeing Bella this weekend, if you can!

It’s a beautiful, award-winning film (top pick at the Toronto Film Festival) and has an uplifting pro-life message. The word on the ground is that it needs to do well this weekend in order to extend to next (Thanksgiving) weekend, which is the biggest movie-going weekend of the year. If it’s in theaters next weekend, thousands more people will get the chance to see it.

Kevin and I are seeing it this weekend for the first time because it has just now come to the Indianapolis market.

So, friends, join us in supporting this film if you can! Christians often bemoan the lack of good messages coming from Hollywood. This film is exceptional.

We hope you can support it this weekend too!

For a listing of the cities showing Bella you can go to this website.

To view a trailer for the movie and watch the testimony of Bella's star, Eduardo Verástegui, you can go here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Garnishes and the Girls

First, garnishes. I love garnishing soup with ingredients that are already in the soup. Food should appeal to all the senses, right?

And, here is picture of my girls that I snapped yesterday as they were "playing" on the floor. Meredith is looking forward to the day when Clara can play for "real."

I'm a CVS Believer

My friend Catherine has been getting free, nearly free or, sometimes better-than-free (because they pay her to take it out of the store), items from CVS for a long time. I was always a little bit awed by this and a tad bit skeptical.

Nothing in life is free, right?

One day Catherine linked to Money Saving Mom’s "CVS 101" tutorial on exactly how to do this. I read about the details then I decided to try it one week. My first time doing this, I spent about an hour in the tiny CVS store reading and re-reading how to use the coupons I had printed off online and what exactly to buy. This last time it was a cinch and took hardly any time at all.

My first trip I got three Tylenols, two packs of eight AA Duracell batteries, two Revlon mascaras, and two Revlon long last eye shadows for about $20, plus I got $15 back in CVS’s “Extra Care Bucks” (ECBs) which work like cash in CVS stores.

My second trip I got two bags of Hershey Kisses (for holiday baking), five bottles of Palmolive dish soap, two Children's Dimetapp cough and cold medicines, AND two bottles of Garnier Nutritioniste facial cleanser (these were the “better than free” items).

I spent all of my ECBs ($15 worth) from the last trip plus $1.90 of my own money, AND I got $18 worth of ECBs for next time. So, CVS essentially paid me to take all of this stuff home.

The trick is to look for store sales, and stack coupons (manufacturer coupons and store coupons) on top of that, and to only buy stuff with a high rate of ECBs return.

My policy is to only “buy” stuff I will use and all of these items are things that I already use, except for the facial cleanser. But, hey, I’m willing to try it since CVS paid me to take it home.

As Catherine says, “It’s such a rush.” I felt like a kid at Christmas. Last night I told Kevin that even if I were a millionaire I’d still want to do this because it’s so much fun! I can’t wait for next week’s ads to come out so I can see what other types of free stuff I get.

I am a believer.

The People's Mayor

We recently subscribed to the Indy Star and I’ve been reading about the new mayor-elect. I hate to say it, because I don’t like to be a mindless voter, but I really didn’t know much about him when I voted for him. All I knew was he belonged to my party and I didn’t care for the incumbent.

It turns out that the more I hear about him, the more I like him. It was an upset—no one predicted that he would win. But because everyone in Indianapolis is upset that their property tax bills have skyrocketed, now Greg Ballard is mayor.

He just seems to be an Average Joe. He was military until recently and he lives in a very modest house in a very modest part of town. He was outspent 10 to 1 by the incumbent. He only raised 300,000 compared to Bart Peterson’s 3,000,000.

Only time will tell what kind of mayor he will be. But so far I like the guy.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Menu Plan Monday

Okay, several friends are posting their weekly menus now and this has inspired me to try to do it too. I'm always looking for good menu ideas and new recipes! Menu planning is something I’ve done since the week after the honeymoon. But sharing with others is new ... and fun! :)

Here's my plug for why you should figure out a weekly menu and go to the store with a written grocery list: menu planning 1) saves money (you don't buy unecessary stuff), 2) avoids stress and the "5 o'clock dread," and 3) you eat healthier and more delicious food.

Because of Kevin’s school schedule (i.e., he’s gone a couple of nights and usually on Saturdays), I rarely cook more than 4-5 times per week. So I’ll probably have some carry over for next week. But here goes!

Baked Potato Soup
Orchard Salad (greens, apples, pears, cheddar, cider vinaigrette)

Roast chicken w/ Risotto & Carmelized Onions
Creamy au gratin potatoes
(need to use up the 15 lb. bag)*

Real Italian Calzones (I'm cheating this week and using premade pizza dough!)
Marinara dipping sauce
Green salad

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Friday or Saturday:
Tortellini and Sun Dried Tomato Soup (from Cooking Light book)
Crusty bread

Breakfast (either Sat. or Sun.):
French Breakfast Muffins
Egg, cheese and chives omelets
Fresh fruit

Dessert (for whenever I feel like it this week!):
Rich Lemon Cake w/ lemon glaze

The tortellini soup, muffins, and lemon cake are new recipes. The rest are old favorites.

Check out I'm an Organzing Junkie for more menu plans!

*The 15 lb. bag of potatoes was $2.78 and the 5 lb. bag was $3.99. So, what was I supposed to buy?

Holiday Kickoff

If you don’t count my turkey roast experiment, then my official holiday kickoff was when I went to the Holiday Home Tour in historic Meridian-Kessler with some girlfriends this weekend. I had been looking forward to this for a long time. After lunch at Café Patachou, we toured four large 1920s homes decorated to the nines for Christmas.

All of the homes were built in the 1920s. One was traditionally decorated, one was more funky-modern, one was eclectic-antique, and I’m very sad to report that the Governor’s mansion has a lot of Grandma-style wallpaper. At least they didn’t use taxpayer dollars to pay for it, according to the docent. (But, to be fair, the large family room was beautiful and the tree and mantle decor in the family room was very awesome.)

But back to Patachou. It’s a new French restaurant that opened here in Broad Ripple. Laura, Shannon, and Colin rave about it. But I was disappointed with the crepe/egg/béchamel thing I got. I’ll have to try it again, though. Maybe I’ll get a dessert crepe. Or their omelets and cinnamon French toast, which looked fabulous. And, I definitely was NOT disappointed with the French Hot Chocolate. In a word: Amazing!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I've been tagged.

My friend Alaina tagged me for a meme. I must really love you Alaina because I usually do don’t do these meme things.

So... these are the "rules": Once tagged, you must link to the person who tagged you. Then post the rules before your list, and list 8 random things about yourself. At the end of the post, you must tag and link to 8 other people, visit their sites, and leave a comment letting them know they’ve been tagged.

Okay, here are the first eight random things I could think of about myself.

1) I have been a passenger on the Good Year Blimp and, for some crazy reason, the pilot decided to allow my sister to take the controls when we were over the Pacific Ocean. Thankfully I am alive to tell about it.

2) I often smell my food before I eat it (and Kevin makes fun of me). I don’t know why. Maybe my subconscious is telling me that I will enjoy that bite of food better if I do (laugh if you want, but smell is linked to the enjoyment of food). My mom tells me I have done this since I was a baby.

3) I have lived on both the west coast and east coast. I never thought I’d live in the Midwest but now I live here and love it. (I think I will post a blog about this soon.)

4) I used to hate classical music but, thanks to my husband, now I enjoy it.

5) I’m a licensed California attorney but I’ve never practiced; I work from home writing a weekly public policy/current events newsletter. I doubt I will ever practice law but someday would like to start my own business and think my legal training will come in handy. Hopefully by that time I’ll still remember a few things from law school. Ha!

6) As a new driver, I totaled two cars in the period of one month (the air bag went off in my face both times).

7) I cannot whistle to save my life. I think it’s somehow a genetic defect.

8) Someday I want to go to South Africa, and pretty much everywhere else in the world.

Okay, I tag Sara, Rachelle, Karen, Christian, Lindsay, Megan, Shannon, Missi and anyone else who wants to do it. Give us some random things about yourselves. :)

The strangest book I've ever read.

We read The Time Traveler’s Wife for book club this month. Wow. I give the author an A+ for innovation. The plot was hard to follow at first because the dates kept changing. It was written from the perspectives of two different characters—the time traveler and the girl/woman who eventually becomes his wife.

One of the things we talked about at the club was the believability of the book. The plot is obviously far-fetched. But because the author was so gifted in enabling us to sympathize with the characters, there was an aura of realism to it.

Although the book was strange, it definitely held my interest. The love between the two characters was powerfully portrayed. Because of the plot, this book could have been so hokey. But it wasn’t. It had many beautiful and moving aspects to it.

Another interesting thing about the book is the theme of “chaos vs. determinism” which is integrated throughout the story.

One caveat: There are several crass and explicit sexual scenes in this book. For this reason alone, I would have a hard time recommending it.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Yes, I Can Be a Norman Rockwell Mama

After five years of marriage, and two kids, I figure it’s time for me to know how to successfully roast a juicy turkey.

After some reading, and some inspiration from Alton Brown, I decided to take the turkey challenge. He has several “secrets” but the most important one is soaking the bird in brine for six hours. Let me just say that the brine worked like a charm. The meat was very tender, juicy and flavorful. In addition to the brine trick, I invested in a professional meat thermometer so I wouldn’t overcook the meat. And I made a foil tent to shield the breast meat, while allowing the dark meat to cook sufficiently.

The most interesting thing I learned is that basting does absolutely nothing to ensure a juicy turkey. If anything, it helps to dry out the turkey because you are constantly opening and shutting the oven door.

I would highly recommend Alton’s recipe, which you can find here.

Life is too short to eat dry turkey!

Monday, November 05, 2007

The last time.

Kevin has registered for classes for the last time. This is a hallmark for us. It comes on the tails of the most stressful week so far. It was a week where we both questioned whether or not this going-back-to-school-with-a-family thing is worth it. I know that ultimately, as long as Kevin doesn’t die of stress, we’ll be glad he did this. It will be worth it in the end. But the sacrifices have taken their toll. And I won’t say it’s been easy.

Every time I think of Kevin never having to register for classes again, I smile. This is the first of the lasts. It is something that gives us renewed energy.

This would be a good time to also mention God’s faithfulness and goodness. We received a series of four letters from the school over the summer, each letter containing a new item of good news. Most of it was good financial news, whether news of a scholarship or our in-state tuition appeal being granted. These were reminders of God’s promises to provide and take care of us.

God has blessed the decision to go back to school. But, did I mention it’s been hard?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Save Time and Money

Some day I will know I have “arrived” when I feel like I don’t have to shop at WalMart for groceries. The reason I frequently shop at WalMart for groceries is because it significantly cuts our grocery bill. Generally I don’t buy produce there because the quality is not as good but I have noticed that the produce selection at my local WalMart is getting better. They are starting to sell fresh herbs that appear to be in surprisingly good condition.

The only place here in Indianapolis that sells groceries cheaper than WalMart is a place called Aldi’s.

Here are the reasons why I refuse to shop at Aldi’s:

1) It’s inconveniently located;

2) It would be yet another stop to make with the kids because they don’t sell everything I need, and I don’t have time or energy to do that;

3) The produce is even worse than at WalMart;

4) Generally speaking, I don’t like how their special brands taste; and

5) It’s dirty and always crowded, even more so than WalMart (and, what if you don’t happen to have a quarter in your wallet to get the cart out of the machine?).

Well, now I have a win-win situation because I’m getting Aldi’s prices at WalMart.

A while ago Aunt Kathy told me that WalMart will accept competitor prices. I filed that little piece of knowledge deep in the recesses of my brain and forgot about it until recently. The last two trips to WalMart I have brought along Aldi’s ads, as well as Kroger ads. Then I saved back the on-sale-at-those-stores items until the end and asked the cashier to reduce the prices, which she did with no questions asked.

This easy step saved me making two additional trips to Kroger and Aldi’s and, on my last trip, resulted in a savings of about $15.

Also, the brands don’t have to be the same for WalMart to give you the same price as long as you get the WalMart generic brand (Great Value or Sam’s Choice).

I’m blogging about this because I thought this tip could be useful to some of you busy moms out there trying to live on a budget! If you’re like me, unbuckling and re-buckling kids from car seats to chase down a deal is not your favorite hobby.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Oneness and Halloween

Today I went to a friend’s house for a play date. As the kids happily scattered toys around her living room, I mentioned to her that last night Kevin and I had our yearly discussion about Halloween, because I needed to be reminded again why we don’t celebrate it. This is something we disagree about. Kevin doesn’t believe we should participate as a matter of conscience.

Well, how did God know I needed to go to this particular play date today with this particular friend on November 1st?

My friend, in relating her own experiences, graciously told me exactly what I needed to hear: “Oneness in marriage means taking the other person’s side.” She said that, rather than saying “my husband/wife thinks this,” she and her husband try to say, “our family does this.”

Really, the distinction is important because it shows your heart. It shows whether it’s “me vs. him” or whether we’re a team, committed to ultimately being on the same page despite personal differences.

It’s really not hard to forgo Halloween when your friends are skipping it too. It’s a lot harder when, as is my case right now, most of my friends do celebrate it.

So, what am I going to say next time someone looks at me and asks, “What? You don’t celebrate Halloween? Why is that?”

Well, I’m not exactly sure yet. I have nearly a year to think about it. But I am definitely going to change my response from a “him vs. me” tone. I need to look for ways to better advocate the position of the person I love. That would be the respectful and loving thing.

That would be the thing that promotes oneness.