Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Easter Snapshots

This year I restrained myself and did not help Meredith decorate her eggs (except for making sure the dye didn't spill too much!). She did this all by herself (note the cracked eggs). Then she pointed to Jesus and said, "A long time ago boys had long hair too."

I made these peanut butter Easter eggs and we put them at the place settings for brunch. They're kinda on the sugary side but still yummy. I need to figure out how to make them more peanut-buttery and a little less sweet.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Weekend of Swimsuits and Coats

Gotta love swimming and hiking in March in Indiana!

We enjoyed staying at the Clifty Falls State Park lodge for a few nights during Kevin’s spring break. Mostly we lounged around at the pool and hot tub, sat by one of the indoor fireplaces, ate good food, and played cards and Boggle. It rained a lot while we were there, but we did end up hiking a few trails one morning to see the falls.

One nice thing about this state park is that it’s close to Madison, Indiana (a touristy little town), and shopping! (Now you know what my idea of camping is—staying in a lodge and shopping!!)

We didn't hit up any antique stores (that's just how it goes when you have two preschoolers), but we did find a great little coffee shop with this really good mocha they called "Yin and Yang." Mmmm ... (Why do my blog posts always end up mentioning food? Sigh ...)

A hike up to the lookout tower.

Clara (8 months), wearing the swimsuit Meredith wore at 14 months!

I can't believe how long Meredith's hair is getting.

Clara gives the best baby kisses ever!!

Clara is not a morning person. I think she would have rather gone back to bed than take a hike!

Mer hiking with her Aunt Shannon.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Green Canal

We went for a stroll along the Indianapolis canal yesterday. It had been dyed a festive green. What a riot! I couldn't believe how vibrant it was. We need to make this an annual tradition, except make it even better and get a Shamrock Shake first. It would be cold but so fun and soooo worth it.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Top O' the Mornin'

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! My sister made a surprise visit last night and she was wearing cute green flip-flops. I need to find myself a pair of those. But until then I’ll have to settle for the green top I found in my closet this morning.

Tonight we’re having the annual corned beef, which I always look forward to. I’m not so much into cabbage (although Kevin’s mom makes a good cabbage dish with cheese sauce). I think I’ll serve roasted carrots and mashed potatoes along with it. I’ll probably dye the potatoes green, just for kicks.

The other night something happened that rarely ever happens … Kevin made a dinner request. Nice! I always like the menu-planning help. He asked me to make something we call Greek Chicken. I got the recipe from a good friend of mine named Meredith T. Her family makes it often. I’ll paste the recipe below. Even if you don’t like olives, you might like this dish. I’m not hugely into olives but the sauce is very flavorful and different. We serve it over rice.

I’ll probably also make this Cheddar Beer Soup again because I’ve suddenly realized that it’s going to be warm soon and I only have a few more weeks to enjoy soup. And last time we had this, we loved it. I puree it so it's smooth and put the croutons on top.

On Friday we're going to a fellowship dinner and I'm bringing Giada’s chicken tetrazzini.

Lastly, I think I’ll make some egg salad and Sloppy Joes. This is a fantastic recipe for Sloppy Joes, if you're looking for one. I add another teaspoon or so of brown sugar and also a splash of vinegar to make it even better!

Oh, and I almost forgot! I'm making Croque Madame for an Easter Brunch. Except, this time I'm going to make an authentic Béchamel Sauce to drizzle on top. I'll probably also make a dessert but I haven't figured out what yet.

Happy eating this week!


Greek Chicken

6 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
½ c. olive oil
4 T. lemon juice
4 T. balsamic vinegar
2 t. garlic chopped
½ t. coarse pepper
2 T. capers
1 t. oregano
1 t. basil
6 oz. can of sliced olives
½ t. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place chicken in 9x13 pan. Stir ingredients of marinade together. Poru marinade over chicken. Bake for about one hour, covered, until chicken is done. Uncover and brown under broiler. Serve with rice, pasta, or orza. Serves 6.

I'll also post my White Chicken Chili recipe, which I got from my friend Janice. We LOVE this recipe (someone asked for it last week):

White Bean Chicken Chili

3-4 boneless/skinless chicken breast, cooked and diced
1 T. olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 ½ t. minced garlic
2 cans white beans
14 oz. chicken broth
8 oz. (+) green chilies
1 t. salt
1 t. oregano
½ t. pepper
1 c. sour cream
½ c. heavy whipping cream

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil. Add beans, broth, chilies, salt, oregano, pepper, and chicken. Bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in sour cream and heavy cream. Serve immediately.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

New Find

“Wow, we’ve gone on a date night every month for two months in a row!” said Kevin last night. That’s a record for us lately, unfortunately.

We decided to check out a restaurant near where we live in Broad Ripple. It was a nice evening so we walked.

After making a reservation using Open Table, I got online and read this review: “Next time you’re in the mood for a European-style retreat, but can’t afford a plane ticket to Paris,” go to the Corner Wine Bar.

The menu looked fabulous and we weren’t disappointed. We decided to get appetizers and split an entrée. We got the cheese crock (see picture) and the tomato orange soup, which was a fun twist. Then we got the pork loin with this awesome pecan cream sauce. It was all very impressive and tasty. Plus, the ambiance was fun and, like the review said, “European.” I think we’ve found a new favorite.

Then we went to get coffee and sat on the couch by the fire place for about an hour.

It was just what the doctor ordered.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Waiting, Waiting, Waiting

The excitement is building. We’re starting to look around at homes for sale. We sold our house in California two years ago. So, it already seems like we’ve done a lot of waiting. But we still have about 3-4 months left before we can make any offers. In some ways, I think these next few months will seem like the longest period of waiting!

We were seriously thinking about building a home because right now home builders are offering incredible incentives. But, before taking more steps in this direction, we decided to look at existing homes on the market. Our goal wasn’t to find a house just yet, since it’s still premature for us to buy, but to just compare existing homes with the new homes being offered.

We should have never done this. We found the most beautiful house, on the most perfect lot. I’ve never seen anything else like this come close to our price range. And, to make matters worse, it’s also in our favorite neighborhood. Ugh. Why does it have to be so perfect?

Now I’m sitting here, sick, absolutely sick, because of the fact that someone else will likely come waltzing by and snatch it up. Our realtor already found out that another family is seriously considering it but hasn’t made an offer yet.

This morning I had a conversation with Kevin about it. I called him at work and told him that I couldn’t help but obsess over it all morning. I tried not to think about it but it was impossible. It backs up to a horse farm and has a creek running next to it. It’s an amazing property. Kevin kept telling me, “Amy, don’t think about how beautiful it is. Instead, think that the creek probably has mosquitoes and it probably smells like barnyard waste in the summer because of the horses.”

I’d already tried that. It didn’t help. At all.

Kevin, although he fully sympathizes, also reminded me that, in heaven, it won’t matter what house we live in or what the backyard looks like. What will matter is that we were good stewards of our resources. If the house is still on the market in three months, then God will have taught us a lesson about patience and His provision. If it’s not available, then maybe God wants us to learn more about being content with what He gives. Either way, we have to be wise with our money. And, either way, God is sovereign and will take care of us.

Then I offered to give Kevin all my birthday money (which I still haven’t spent, although each dollar has definitely been earmarked) and I also offered to spend no money for the next ten years, except for basic groceries and gas. Then I questioned whether we really do have to use our tax refund to contribute to the Roth IRA. (How boring is that!)

Then … I apologized for putting all this pressure on my husband. He is right. We have to trust God’s timing. We have to wait.

But I hate waiting!!!

For the Grandmas

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Giving Notice

Last week I made a phone call that was harder to make than I expected. I gave six weeks’ notice. I’m quitting my job!

It was tough making that phone call because it’s not just about a job. It’s also about relationships that I’ve developed. And I hated to disappoint. I know they’ll have a hard time finding the right fit to replace me in that small non-profit office.

I have no doubt that this is the right decision for me, for my kids, and for our family home life. I will no longer feel like my time is divided and I’m serving two masters. My kids are growing up so fast. I feel like every time I blink, they are onto a new phase of childhood. Quitting my part time, work-from-home job will enable me to have more space in my life to enjoy my children. I’m determined not to fill up this space with “things” but to just enjoy them and develop a more loving, warm, and rich home-life. I feel like I need to do this in order to have the home-life I want.

I’m very grateful that Kevin wholeheartedly supports this decision. It is something we have both been working toward for a long time.

Lately I’ve been spending a large portion of my working hours with Clara on my lap. She is getting more mobile, sleeping less, and lately is more demanding of my time. This in and of itself was reason to quit.

And, with Kevin drawing near to the end of his time in school, my quitting became an easier choice for us financially speaking. I’ve always been secretly glad I never made much money. It’s probably easier to quit a job knowing you didn’t bring in six figures.

So, sometime in mid-April I’ll be a free woman. I’m already relishing that day.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

A day late and a dollar short ...

Grocery shopping yesterday took forever! I had to stop twice to feed Clara. I bought Meredith some ice cream at Costco because she was being so good. But then when I went to Meijer, she was as whiny as she’s ever been. (Note to self: Maybe the ice cream did it and I’m causing my own problems.) To top it off, Clara started crying for no apparent reason. So, I spent the whole time at Meijer with TWO whiny kids.

As I drove home, the whining/crying continued. I felt I was losing ten years off my life listening to this. Solution? I went through the Starbucks drive-thru, feeling like I really deserved a mocha, and that it would help add some of the years back to my life that I had just lost. I think it worked, although Kevin disputes my logic.

Here’s my plan for this week …

1) Asian Lettuce Wraps—this is something I created, by taking three different recipes and merging them together, to get a P.F. Changish-version. It’s a refreshing meal for summer but, maybe because of the nicer weather, I’ve been craving it! I’ll paste the recipe below.

2) Panini with Caramelized Onion, Pear and Fontina and tomato soup (the soup is a new recipe that we love)

3) Barbecue Chicken Pizza (I make mine with cilantro, red onion, chicken, mozzarella, parmesan, and barbecue sauce), Caesar salad

4) White Chicken Chili, cornbread

5) Biscuits and Sausage Gravy, strawberry and pineapple

6) Blueberry Pie


You should try this ... it really does taste reminicent of P.F. Chang's.

Asian Lettuce Wraps

4 cups water
2 cups uncooked white rice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound ground turkey
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup chopped peanuts
2 carrots, shredded
3-4 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2-3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil (opt.)
1/4 teaspoon hot chile paste
1 head iceberg lettuce leaves, separated

In a saucepan combine the water and rice. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes, until water is absorbed. Set aside and keep warm. Heat oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Cook the turkey, green onions, and garlic for 5 to 7 minutes, or until lightly brown. Add the peanuts, carrot, Hoisin, and soy sauce, stirring frequently until heated through. Remove from heat, and stir in the sesame oil and chile paste. To serve: spoon a small amount of rice into each lettuce leaf, top with the stir-fry mixture, and drizzle with additional soy sauce or hoisin, if desired. Wrap the lettuce leaf to enclose the filling. Serves 3-4.