Tuesday, August 31, 2010

same kind of different as me

I've had this book for over a year and finally got around to picking it up.  It was a quick & easy read.  This book is a true story, but reads easily like a fiction book.  I found the first few Chapters a little slow to get into while the setting and characters were developed, but once I was into the plot it was an easy page turner.  I loved the writing style, consisting of one Chapter at a time from the view point of each of the authors/ main characters.  Same Kind of Different as Me is the true story of an ex-con homeless man, and a wealthy art dealer and how their lives came to cross, and eventually a friendship was built.  I enjoyed the honesty on behalf of each of the authors, especially regarding their initial opinions and misconceptions about each other, and about the Lord.  The book beautifully displays how God worked in each of their lives, using each other to draw them both into a deeper relationship with Himself. 


Monday, August 30, 2010

Fried Rice

Fried Rice

I had some brown rice leftover from dinner last night so I whipped this up as our dinner for tonight.  Fried rice is always best with day old rice, so anytime I have leftover rice from dinner the night before I turn it into fried rice for lunch or dinner that day.  Any leftover meat would also be great in here, whether it be shrimp, chicken, pork, or beef.

-3 Tbsp vegetable oil
-2 cups day old cooked rice
-1 small bag frozen peas, corn and carrots mix
-2 scallions, sliced
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-6 eggs, beaten
-6 Tbsp soy sauce
-2 Tbsp sugar
-2 tsp sriracha sauce
-1/2 tsp. ground ginger

Cook frozen vegetables in microwave or on stain according to package directions and drain.
Grease large stir fry pan with 1 Tbsp oil.  Beat eggs in a separate bowl. Pour egg mixture into pan and cook over medium low heat, moving the eggs around with a spoon as they cook. Cook until they reach a soft scramble then remove eggs from pan and set to the side.
Heat remaining 2 Tbsp oil in the pan over medium high heat and add rice.  Let the rice cook for 2 minutes in the pan, then stir and let sit another 2 minutes. Stir in scallions and garlic, cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in cooked, drained vegetables. Whisk together soy sauce, sugar, sriracha and ginger.  Pour soy mixture over rice, stirring to combine.  Once mixture is well combined and heated through stir eggs into the rice/ veggie mixture, remove from heat and serve.


32 weeks

Here's what is going on with Noah this week according to babycenter.com;

By now, your baby weighs 3.75 pounds (pick up a large jicama) and is about 16.7 inches long, taking up a lot of space in your uterus. You're gaining about a pound a week and roughly half of that goes right to your baby. In fact, she'll gain a third to half of her birth weight during the next 7 weeks as she fattens up for survival outside the womb. She now has toenails, fingernails, and real hair (or at least respectable peach fuzz). Her skin is becoming soft and smooth as she plumps up in preparation for birth.To accommodate you and your baby's growing needs, your blood volume has increased 40 to 50 percent since you got pregnant. With your uterus pushing up near your diaphragm and crowding your stomach, the consequences may be shortness of breath and heartburn. To help relieve your discomfort, try sleeping propped up with pillows and eating smaller meals more often.  You may have lower-back pain as your pregnancy advances. If you do, let your caregiver know right away, particularly if you haven't had back pain before, since it can be a sign of preterm labor.  Assuming it's not preterm labor that's ailing you, you can probably blame your growing uterus and hormonal changes for your aching back. Your expanding uterus shifts your center of gravity and stretches out and weakens your abdominal muscles, changing your posture and putting a strain on your back. Hormonal changes in pregnancy loosen your joints and the ligaments that attach your pelvic bones to your spine. This can make you feel less stable and cause pain when you walk, stand, sit for long periods, roll over in bed, get out of a low chair or the tub, bend, or lift things.

As for me, no changes at all this week.  Still eating the same things, still feeling good, but a little tired, and having a little back pain here and there, but nothing significant.  I'm still a little more tired than normal, and LOVED sleeping in over our 4 day weekend.  Noah continues to move with force, catching me off guard at times.  Most of the time we can feel exactly where he is in my belly (almost always on the right side), and we can feel firm little body parts that he moves when we poke at them enough.  He either sleeps at night when I sleep, or I sleep deep enough that I don't wake up to him moving.  He still loves music and gets very excited during worship services.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Squash, Potatoes, and Onions

Squash, Potatoes, and Onions

This dish is one of my favorite things that Jeremy's Mom (and Grandma) make.  It is very simple, but for some reason I just can't get enough of it.  If Grandma Lou was making it she would use fresh veggies from the garden, and maybe even throw in some carrot ribbons and a dash of cinnamon, but the ingredients below are how Jeremy's Mom tends to make it.  This stuff is delicious, but probably not the best photo worthy food, because it's best when it's cooked down and all mushy.

-a few Tbsp olive oil
-2 potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
-1 onion, sliced
-2 yellow squash, thinly sliced
-2 zucchini, thinly sliced
-salt, pepper, and sugar to taste

Heat olive oil in deep skillet, over medium high heat.  Add potatoes and allow them to brown while slicing onion.  Add sliced onion on top of potatoes and allow mixture to cook while slicing squash and zucchini.  Add squash and zucchini to pan and stir to combine.  Season with salt, pepper, and sugar to taste (I probably used 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, and 1 Tbsp. sugar).  Continue to cook until all vegetables soften and begin to caramelize (turn brown).  (You may need to reduce heat to medium, or cover at some point depending on how your veggies are cooking and your taste preference).


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

3 years ago today...

Today is our 3 year anniversary (woohoo!!!!).  We are being boring, and working today, and will probably end up celebrating with a relaxing evening at home.  We did however take a 4 day weekend, and will spend the next 4 days celebrating, relaxing, and enjoying time to connect with each other.  No real agenda, other than to not have lots of commitments and to enjoy our time.  We tend not to be over the top in our celebrations, but to really enjoy the simple things, time together, a dinner out, long walks holding hands, and good talks where it feels as though we've touched souls.

Over the years (and through wise words spoken to me by friends) I've learned to not put so much pressure or such high expectations on a particular day, event, or celebration.  I've learned that often I tend to idealize things in my mind, and then end up disappointed if things don't go as well as I'd planned.  I've learned that expectations add stress and pressure.  I've learned that often the most meaningful times are the unplanned ones, that happen along the way of living life.  I've learned that while romance can include flowers, candles, and wining and dining that it doesn't have to.  That lasting romance is experienced through our commitment to each other in spite of the ups and downs, through unconditional love, and through our marriage staying centered on the Lord.  So here's to our celebration of love, life, and marriage.  I leave you with the script from our wedding, I love going back and reading our vows and the Scriptures read at our wedding.

Jeremy and Shannon today is an exciting day of celebration, joy and a bit of stress. Marriage is designed by God to provide a safe place of love, comfort and adventure.

Eclesiastes 4:12  A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

Genesis 2:24  This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.

Today, two individuals are becoming one. Jeremy and Shannon are entering a covenant of marriage saying, “We are walking this path together. Divorce is not an option. We are committed to God and each other.”

Ruth 1:16  But Ruth replied, "Don't ask me to leave you and turn back. I will go wherever you go and live wherever you live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.

Earthly marriage is a great prelude to the main event of history. Human love and marriage provide us a picture of a future event. One day, Jesus Christ promised that he would return for His bride “the church.” Through a relationship with Jesus you receive not only an invitation to the wedding but a reception dinner that is truly other-worldly.

Paul in the book of Ephesians blends his conversation about marriage and the church.

Ephesians 5:22-33  You wives will submit to your husbands as you do to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of his body, the church; he gave his life to be her Savior. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives must submit to your husbands in everything.  And you husbands must love your wives with the same love Christ showed the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by baptism and God's word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man is actually loving himself when he loves his wife. No one hates his own body but lovingly cares for it, just as Christ cares for his body, which is the church.  And we are his body. As the Scriptures say, "A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one." This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Jeremy, Paul’s words here give you a clue to a happy, meaningful marriage. Love your wife the way Christ loved the church…selflessly. Shannon, you are not off the hook. You are to respect your husband. Women need to be loved. Men need to be respected. Couples that forget this, endure marriage they do not enjoy it.  Love and Respect.

The vows affirm the covenant relationship between a husband and a wife.

Jeremy, repeat after me: I, Jeremy, take you Shannon, to be my wife, my friend and my life-partner for the rest of our lives. Before God, family and friends I pledge to you my life. I will be faithful to you in sickness and in health, in good and bad times, in times of joy and well as in times of sorrow. I promise to love you as Christ loves His church.

Shannon, repeat after me: I, Shannon, take you Jeremy, to be my husband, my friend and my life-partner for the rest of our lives. Before God, family and friends I pledge to you my life. I will be faithful to you in sickness and in health, in good and bad times, in times of joy and well as in times of sorrow. I promise to respect you and follow your lead.

In the church, baptism is the outward sign of an inward commitment to Christ. In the marriage, the ring is an outward symbol of fidelity. The rings do not make you married. They let others know that you are.

Do you, Jeremy, give this ring to Shannon, as a visible symbol of your fidelity to her.

Jeremy, repeat after me:  Shannon, I give you this ring, as a promise of my fidelity and as an expression of my love.

Do you, Shannon, give this ring to Jeremy, as a visible symbol of your fidelity to him?

Shannon, repeat after me: Jeremy, I give this ring to you as a promise of my fidelity and as an expression of my respect for you.

I now pronounce you husband and wife before God, family and friends.  Jeremy, you may now kiss your wife.  I present to you Mr. And Mrs. Jeremy Mangerchine.

Happy anniversary Jeremy! I love you more than ever! I love our life together! I love serving, seeking, and growing in the Lord together! I love the man that you are... a leader worthy of following. I love the woman that you make me. May we always put the Lord first in our lives, and may we always put each other next, above all others!


Monday, August 23, 2010

31 weeks

Here's what is going on with Noah this week according to babycenter.com;

This week, your baby measures over 16 inches long. He weighs about 3.3 pounds (try carrying four navel oranges) and is heading into a growth spurt. He can turn his head from side to side, and his arms, legs, and body are beginning to plump out as needed fat accumulates underneath his skin. He's probably moving a lot, too, so you may have trouble sleeping because your baby's kicks and somersaults keep you up. Take comfort: All this moving is a sign that your baby is active and healthy.Have you noticed the muscles in your uterus tightening now and then? Many women feel these random contractions — called Braxton Hicks contractions — in the second half of pregnancy. Often lasting about 30 seconds, they're irregular, and at this point, they should be infrequent and painless. Frequent contractions, on the other hand — even those that don't hurt — may be a sign of preterm labor.

As for me, Noah is moving all of the time, and getting stronger/ bigger and more forceful in his movements each week.  Several people have told me within the last week that his position has visibly dropped and he is sitting lower.  Quite frequently by belly becomes disfigured now, and you can see and feel firm little lumps in areas of my belly that must be little parts of Noah's body.  Everything is still good, but I get a little less comfortable as each week goes by... I find myself getting a little more sore in my hips and back each week.  I've also been fairly tired lately, and am struggling to stay awake at my computer at work some days, and it's not from lack of sleep, because for the most part I sleep well at night around my frequent visits to the restroom.  My new favorite food has become Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning.  This stuff is amazing on hamburgers, roasted potatoes, and just about anything else.  Most frequently I've been enjoying it on sliced raw cucumbers, sliced tomatoes, and popcorn.  I even put some in the veggie dip and cole slaw that I made this weekend, it's salty, spicy, zesty, and just plain perfect!  And I've really been LOVING the Iced Passionfruit Tea Lemonades from Starbuck's... they are so light and refreshing!  I still haven't really experienced any super "weird" pregnancy cravings though... I've heard of people eating pickles with pixie sticks poured on them and super strange combos like that.  For the most part I just love all things meaty, salty, and cheesy... pizza (but I don't eat it very often), sausage (again, I don't eat it so often, but when I do it is bliss!), pickles, sushi, and chicken salad with cranberries.

We've completed our pre-registration paperwork at the hospital, have 2 prenatal classes down, and 1 left to go.  Noah's room is mostly ready for him, I'm just waiting for my 2 baby showers (in September) to get the last few things and then will need to wash all of the cloth diapers, bottles, sheets etc. and have them ready to go.  My doctor's appointments are currently on Wednesdays, every two weeks, and everything continues to go well.  This little guy will be here before we know it!


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Quick & easy veggie dip

Quick & Easy Veggie Dip

This dip was a complete accident... I had a completely different veggie dip planned to make for this veggie tray using curry powder and tarragon vinegar, but when I checked my pantry I was horrified to find that I was out of curry powder... a tragedy!  Fortunately I was able to creatively whip up something else that worked out quite well, and can easily be modified to incorporate different herbs or flavors.  You probably have all of these ingredients on hand, and could whip this up at a moments notice.  And it's not just for veggies... Jeremy and I joyfully snacked on Wheat Thins dipped in this concotion.  You could always use fresh parsley and herbs for this dip, but I don't always have those on hand.

-1 cup light mayo
-1 cup light sour cream
-1/2 Tbsp sugar
-1 Tbsp dried minced onion (but raw grated onion would be fine also)
-1 Tbsp dried parsley
-1 tsp seasoning salt (I used Tony's seasoning)
-1 tsp garlic powder (or 1 clove minced garlic)
-1 tsp dried oregano
-1 tsp dried basil

Whisk together all ingredients.  Chill for at least 2 hours prior to serving, but for best flavor allow to chill for 8 hours for the flavors to combine.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Intercessory Prayer

Intercessory prayer has been a big theme for me for the last week.  I was chosen to read Romans 8:26-27 to our church body at our service last Sunday and that verse has stuck with me.  I love this reminder that the Spirit is interceding in prayer for us, that He knows our needs even more intimately than we do.  I love to refer to this verse when I don't know where to start with prayer, when I'm so confused/ tired/ angry that I don't even know how to pray, I can find comfort that the Spirit does, and that He is doing it.

Then I found myself listening to this sermon on intercessory prayer earlier this week and I ate it up.

The sermon covers Exodus 17... when Moses is praying over the battle with the Amalekites.  Here are some points the Greg made in his sermon that I found interesting;

-Our prayers matter... they can effect the outcome of events... God invites us to participate with Him through intercessory prayer.  This is shown through how when Moses was praying (with his hands raised) the Israelites were winning, but when he stopped the Amalekites were winning.  It was God's will for Israel to win this battle, but He wanted to involve others in that, Moses had to be obedient for that outcome to be achieved.
-the two most common poses for prayer in Scripture are with arms raised, or lying prostrate... no where in Scripture does anyone pray with hands clasped... so where did we get that from... is that just a religious principle we've instilled on ourselves?
-Pray specifically... Moses prayed specifically, for that specific battle, at that specific time
-Sometimes we need help praying... Moses got tired and would lower his hands, at times he needed Aaron and Hur to hold up his hands
-Pray through to completion... Moses continued to pray until the battle was won... he didn't say one quick prayer and go about his day, he prayed constantly until God delivered

These are such great lessons that we can learn from Moses about prayer and interceding!  Remember friends, we are in a battle, let us be praying continually and constantly interceding.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mexican Pita Pizza

Mexican Pita Pizzas

You may remember my post from a few weeks ago on BBQ Chicken Pita Pizzas, our favorite quick week night dinner.  Tonight I decided to step out and try another type of pita pizza, Mexican Pita Pizza.  As a kid I always loved the Taco Bell Mexican Pizzas, and in my adulthood I still love the flavors, but not the nutritional information.  This is a great way to enjoy the same flavors, but a with a lot more nutritious value.  BBQ Chicken Pita Pizza is still my favorite, but I'm so glad that I made this, because it was delicious and will definitely satisfy my Taco Bell cravings!  A traditional Mexican Pizza would be topped with black olives, but I swapped those out for the jalapenos because I like a good kick to my Mexican food.  To make this quick, inexpensive and easy I made this a vegetarian version, but to make it more like Taco Bell you could easily add a layer of cooked ground beef above the layer of beans.  Serve with sour cream and guacamole if desired, but I found that it was delicious as is and didn't need a thing added.

-2 pieces whole wheat pita bread
-1 recipe refried beans (below)
-4 Tbsp taco sauce (I like medium for extra heat)
-1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
-chopped red onions
-chopped cilantro
-diced tomatoes
-sliced jalapenos (or black olives)

Layer half of the refried bean mixture onto each piece of pita bread.  Top with 1/2 of the taco sauce, then 1/2 of the cheese, then additional toppings as desired.  Bake at 400 for 15 minutes.  Slice and serve.

Quick Refried Beans

This is a super quick and easy way to make refried beans.  They are MUCH more delicious (and cheaper) than buying canned refried beans.  I make them a little different each time, based on what other ingredients I have on hand, but no matter what they always come out great.  This is a perfect side dish for Mexican meals when heated, it is also great served cold as a cold bean dip, as a bottom layer to a 7 layer dip, or makes a great warm bean dip especially when topped with melted cheese.

-1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
-1 clove garlic
-1/2 Tbsp lime juice
-several leaves of fresh cilantro
-a few dashes of hot sauce
-2 Tbsp some type of liquid... I've used taco sauce, more lime juice, and the brine from a jar of pickled jalapenos with equal success (if using lime juice or a liquid without sodium add 1/4 tsp salt also)

Combine all ingredients if food processor (or blender) and process until desired consistency.  (I tend to opt. for a consistency with a few chunks of beans in it, but mostly pureed).


Monday, August 16, 2010

30 weeks

Here's what is going on with Noah this week, according to babycenter.com;

Your baby's about 15.7 inches long now, and she weighs almost 3 pounds (like a head of cabbage). A pint and a half of amniotic fluid surrounds her, but that volume will decrease as she gets bigger and takes up more room in your uterus. Her eyesight continues to develop, though it's not very keen; even after she's born, she'll keep her eyes closed for a good part of the day. When she does open them, she'll respond to changes in light but will have 20/400 vision — which means she can only make out objects a few inches from her face. (Normal adult vision is 20/20.)You may be feeling a little tired these days, especially if you're having trouble sleeping. You might also feel clumsier than normal, which is perfectly understandable. Not only are you heavier, but the concentration of weight in your pregnant belly causes a shift in your center of gravity. Plus, thanks to hormonal changes, your ligaments are more lax, so your joints are looser, which may also contribute to your balance being a bit off. Also, this relaxation of your ligaments can actually cause your feet to spread permanently, so you may have to invest in some new shoes in a bigger size.  Remember those mood swings you had earlier in pregnancy? The combination of uncomfortable symptoms and hormonal changes can result in a return of those emotional ups and downs. It's normal to worry about what your labor will be like or whether you'll be a good parent. But if you can't shake the blues or feel increasingly irritable or agitated, talk to your doctor or midwife. You may be among the 1 in 10 expectant women who battle depression during pregnancy. Also let your caregiver know if you're frequently nervous or anxious.

As for me, no real changes, everything is about the same, and everything is still going well.  I have been a tad bit tired lately, and even took a midday 2 hour nap yesterday which is completely uncharacteristic for me.  Basically I figure I should enjoy relaxing, sleeping, and resting now while I still can.  I'm still loving sushi and fruit and all things meaty and cheesy.  I am starting to feel a little out of shape... I walk several miles every Saturday and Sunday and am noticing that I'm significantly more tired by the end of my walks, and sometimes even have some cramping.  As a whole I'm doing very well though.  Still no stretch marks, no noticeable swelling, my belly button still hasn't popped out yet, and I still very pretty good... just a tiny bit of back pain from time to time, but considering my condition (read size/ shape) I find that to be expected.  I did experience my first heartburn ever this week... I had pasta with a spicy marinara sauce for lunch 2 days in a row and had several hours of discomfort as a result, but those being the only instances still seem to be nothing to me compared to the horror stories I hear from other women about having heartburn all of the time.  I feel very fortunate that this has been such a good and easy pregnancy... now if labor and delivery would just go this smoothly then maybe there is a chance that I would do all of this again one day.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

for Noah

today was our third Craft Night.  it went super well, and our little group is continuing to get bigger and bigger.  my project for this month was this cute little N onesie for Noah.  i can't wait to see him in it!


Fruit Dip

Fruit Dip

I made this dip to serve with a fruit tray for Craft Night.  It was delicious, everyone loved it, and some people said it was also delicious with Oreos dipped in it.  Serve with an assortment of your favorite fruits, and/ or graham crackers or pound cake.

-8 oz cream cheese (I used 1/3 less fat cream cheese)... allowed to come to room temp. for at least 30 min.
-1 Tbsp vanilla
-1/2 cup brown sugar

Using an electric mixer, combine ingredients until well mixed.  Chill for at least 1 hour prior to serving.


Friday, August 13, 2010

weekly verse: Ephesians 4:29

Ephesians 4:29  Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

Twice this week I have been humbled by the ramifications of my tongue.  Of ugly words that I've said, that were obviously a result of an even more ugly heart.  Once in relation to finding myself gossiping about a friend, and in having a heart that found that enjoyable.  And once by in anger saying words that I didn't mean, and that were just plain nasty.  And all of this brought me to Ephesians 4:29... to pondering what it looks like to only use my words for the good and encouragement of others, rather than harm.  This verse doesn't just say don't use your words for bad, it doesn't say to waste endless words on meaningless topics, but it says that all of our words should be for the benefit of those who will hear.

As a friend reminded me this week, I have seen all too well the truth in James 3:8 But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.

I am humbled by my foul mouth and heart.  I know that I cannot do anything to change this on my own, and that all of my efforts will be in vain... but that I must seek the Lord, to produce His fruit in me, and rid me of this awful condition.

Jesus, thank you for your love and abounding grace... for the wisdom and guidance of your Spirit.  Lord, forgive me for the ugliness of my heart, for the ways in which I sin against you... particularly through anger and gossip.  Rid me of these evils, and the enemy's influence over me.  Produce your fruit in me of love for all others, gentlness, and self-control.  Let all of my words be used by you, for your glory.  Lord, I thank you that your mecies are new every morning.

Lamentations 3:22-23  The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Stove Top Lasagna

Stove Top Lasagna

I made a triple batch of this for dinner for our community group tonight.  It's an easy way to have all of the flavors of lasagna without quite as much work, and without having to use your oven during the hot New Orleans summer.  The results are delicious!  The red sauce on it's own will taste a little spicy  from the red pepper flakes, but once it's combined with the pasta and cheese you will hardly notice the kick.

-1 lb bowtie pasta, fusilli, campanelle, or cavatappi, cooked al dente (reserve a ladle of the pasta water before draining)
-1 Tbsp olive oil
-1 lb ground beef or italian sausage (I used some of each since I tripled the recipe)
-1 onion, diced
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp black pepper
-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
-1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
-1 cup beef broth
-1 Tbsp sugar
-1 tsp Italian seasoning
-1 28 oz can tomatoes... diced, sauce, or crushed depending on your taste (since I tripled the recipe I used 1 of each)
-1 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
-1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Heat a large pot over medium high heat, add olive oil.  Cook the meat and onions, until the meat is cooked through (about 5 min).  Drain of excess fat.  Return the meat/ onion mixture to the pan, add the garlic, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes and saute until fragrant (about 20 seconds).  Stir in the Worcestershire, beef broth, sugar, Italian seasoning and tomatoes.  Simmer for at least 5 minutes, the longer the better.

Place ricotta cheese in a bowl, add the reserved ladle of pasta water and stir to combine.  Stir in the Parmigiano-Reggiano.  Toss the pasta with the cheese mixture.  Add the meat sauce to the pasta and stir to combine.


Monday, August 9, 2010

29 weeks

Here is what is going on with Noah this week, according to babycenter.com;

Your baby now weighs about 2 1/2 pounds (like a butternut squash) and is a tad over 15 inches long from head to heel. His muscles and lungs are continuing to mature, and his head is growing bigger to make room for his developing brain. To meet his increasing nutritional demands, you'll need plenty of protein, vitamins C, folic acid, and iron. And because his bones are soaking up lots of calcium, be sure to drink your milk (or find another good source of calcium, such as cheese, yogurt, or enriched orange juice). This trimester, about 250 milligrams of calcium are deposited in your baby's hardening skeleton each day.  Your baby's very active now. Your healthcare provider may ask you to spend some time each day counting kicks and will give you specific instructions on how to do this. Let your provider know if you ever notice that your baby is becoming less active. You may need a nonstress test or biophysical profile to check on your baby's condition.  Some old friends — heartburn and constipation — may take center stage now. The pregnancy hormone progesterone relaxes smooth muscle tissue throughout your body, including your gastrointestinal tract. This relaxation, coupled with the crowding in your abdomen, slows digestion. Sluggish digestion can cause gas and heartburn — especially after a big meal — and contribute to constipation.  To prevent constipation, eat a high-fiber diet, drink plenty of water, and get some regular exercise.  Some women get something called "supine hypotensive syndrome" during pregnancy. This happens when lying flat on your back causes a change in heart rate and blood pressure that makes you feel dizzy until you change position. You might notice that you feel lightheaded if you stand up too quickly, too. To avoid "the spins," lie on your side rather than your back, and move slowly as you go from lying down to sitting and then standing.

As for me, I'm still feeling good, but I think slowly each week I go a little more down hill now.  I've gained a little under 20 lbs so far and feel as big as a house, and am wondering if I'll ever have a flat stomach again.  I overdid it this weekend and walked 5 miles and had a sore back and didn't want to get off of the couch for hours after that.  I will say that was my fault though, and as long as I stick to shorter walks my back pain is VERY minimal.    From time to time I'll get mild foot or calf cramping while sleeping or laying down, but these aren't bad at all.  I'm just starting to get tired of being huge, and not really being able to bend over.  I've decided that it's too uncomfortable to bend over and paint or cut my toe nails so Jeremy removed my toe nail polish for me, cut my toe nails, and now I'll be polish free until I can reach my own feet again.  I'm still sleeping pretty well most nights, it just takes a little longer to get comfortable to fall asleep, and I have to get up 3-5 times a night to use the restroom, but other than that I sleep well while I'm asleep.  My glucose test/ blood work came back perfect from last week, so it sounds like everything is going well.  Now I'll have doctor's appointments every 2 weeks until I get to 35 weeks and they start seeing me weekly.  I'm still eating most of the same foods and loving all things meaty, salty, cheesy, or all types of fruits.  Noah moves around all of the time, and him and Jeremy have found a way to wrestle with each other through my belly... Jeremy pinches at my tummy and then Noah gives a good sharp kick back, this went on and on, back and forth, for about 30 minutes on Saturday.  Noah is very responsive to music and will start moving all around when we play music in the car, or especially during worship at our Sunday gathering.  So far it seems like he loves David Crowder and Hillsong. 

Time is flying by quickly and I'm sure that Noah will be here before we know it.  His nursery is mostly set up and we have most of the stuff that we'll need for his arrival... we're just waiting until after my 2 baby showers in Sept. before we purchase any final necessities.  I'd say our biggest needs at this time are some more cloth diapers, cloth wipes, crib sheets, and a diaper bag.  This week Jeremy's parents hit the motherload of baby yard sales and found all kinds of adorable outfits, socks, bibs, and burp cloths for Noah for just 25-50 cents a piece.  There was even a newborn Saints shirt in all of the loot.  I can't wait to see our little man in all of those super cute clothes!  I just need to take some time to go through and wash/ sterilize all of the bottles and breast pump parts that we have, and do the initial wash with all of the cloth diapers and we'll be good to go.  We have another prenatal class at the hospital this month, one more next month, and a breast feeding class at the hospital next month as well.  We're in the home stretch and trying to enjoy the last bit of time that we have as just two of us, while still excitedly anticipating meeting our son!


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Slow Cooker Chinese Char Siu Pork

I'm still taking every opportunity possible to cook using my slow-cooker and not have to turn on my oven or stove and heat up the whole house... not to mention I'm trying to avoid spending much time at all in our kitchen, in which the a/c vent isn't working at all!
Slow Cooker Chinese Char Siu Pork

This meal was delicious!  I served the Char Siu over brown rice, with a side of our favorite Chinese Green Beans.  We will definitely be having this dinner again!

-3-4 lb boston butt pork roast, trimmed of fat
-1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
-1/4 cup hoisin sauce
-3 Tbsp honey
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
-2 tsp sesame oil
-1 Tbsp Sriracha sauce

In slow cooker, whisk together soy, hoisin, honey, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, and Sriracha sauce.  Add pork, turning to coat.  Cover and marinate in the fridge for 2-8 hours.  Cook pork in slow cooker on low for 8-10 hours.  Remove pork from slow cooker and shred using 2 forks (discarding any extra fat while shredding).  At this point many people would return the pork to the juices in the slow cooker and then serve.  I discard those juices (because they are full of the fat that cooked out of the pork).  At this point I whisk together a sauce almost identical to the original sauce (but with 1 tsp instead of 1 Tbsp of Sriracha) in the slow cooker, return the meat to the slow cooker, and cook on low for 30 min- 1 hour.


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Homemade housewarming present

This plaque was super fun for me to make, and was out of my normal card making and sewing crafting element.  It was fun to incorporate wood, paint, a hammer and nails, and my new Cricut (that I scored from ebay for $50!) into a craft project, and I have a feeling I'll be making several more of these... maybe a mangerchine one for our home, or a Noah one with his date of birth for his nursery.

This project was super simple and inexpensive.  I got the wood board from my in-laws scrap wood, painted it with red spray paint, sanded the edges and corners so they would look worn, modge podged the lettering on, and nailed in a picture hanger on the back so this can sit on a shelf or be hung on a wall.

I can't take credit for the creative inspiration behind this, I stole the idea from Crystal after seeing one she did and loving it. 


Spinach Dip

Spinach Dip

I can't claim this recipe as my own, it's basically the generic recipe on the back of any vegetable soup mix packet, although I do reduce the mayo and sour cream and increase the spinach.  Serve with your favorite crackers.

-3/4 cup light mayo
-3/4 cup light sour cream
-1 can waterchestnuts, chopped
-1 envelope dry vegetable soup mix
-1 (16 oz) bag frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed to eliminate extra water

In medium bowl, whisk together mayo, sour cream, and vegetable soup mix.  Stir in waterchestnuts and spinach.  Chill for 2 hours prior to serving.


Friday, August 6, 2010

Redeeming Love

I just finished reading Redeeming Love, and I have to say that I loved this book.  It's a Christian fiction book that is a quick page turner.  Redeeming Love is based off of the book of Hosea from the Bible, and how God had told the prophet to take a prostitute (Gomer) for his wife.  This marriage was a symbol of Israel's unfaithfulness, and of God's abounding grace, love, and forgiveness. 

Redeeming Love is set in the 1850's and tells the story of God telling a man (Michael Hosea) to take a prostitute (Angel) for his wife.  The story twists and turns as Angel has a hard time accepting Michael's unconditional love, as she is burdened and scarred by the chains of a rough childhood.  This book is more than a romance novel of a marriage filled with Christ-like love though.  It is the story of the Lord drawing a woman that the world has cast aside to Himself, and His cleansing, healing, forgiving, redeeming love.

One cannot help but finish this book with a renewed sense of gratitude over the way that God pursues us, and the beauty and freedom of His love.  I will definitely be reading more Francine Rivers novels in the future.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

weekly verse: Luke 10:41-42

Luke 10:38-42  Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord's feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me." But the Lord answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her."

Time and time again I need to come back to this passage.  Martha was running around (like we women tend to do) doing good things (but not the BEST thing of spending time with her Savior).  She was concerned with preparations, because she had Jesus over for dinner.  She was bitter and resentful toward Mary because Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus rather than helping with dinner.  She was spiteful and tried to get Jesus to make Mary help her (like we women can so easily get when we think others aren't doing their fare share of work like we are).  And oh how gently our Lord rebuked her.  I can easily picture this, as I've done it myself all too often.  I can easily get so caught up in details and preparations that I loose sight of what's most important... that I become frazzled and weary.  I remember that in the study Falling in Love with Jesus the authors put it so well by saying that Martha was so focused on impressing and hosting an elaborate meal for Jesus, when really chips and dip would have been fine... all He wanted was her heart and devotion. 

I love Martha's heart to serve... it's beautiful.  I can easily understand her wanting to make everything special for Jesus... to give him (what she thought was) her best.  But in doing all of this activity and serving Martha had neglected face time with her Lord.  She had neglected relating with Him.  This reminds me of 1 Corinthians 13:1-3;

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

To phrase it up... anything done out of duty, desire, or force... anything done by any means other than the love that Jesus has given me, that then flows out to others, is all in vain.  All of my service and deeds are meaningless and fruitless if my relationship with Jesus isn't right.  That He is first and foremost concerned about my heart, and my relationship with Him, rather than what I do for Him.

I needed this reminder this week.  It's been a busy two weeks, and I've just been trying to keep my head above water in the midst of an over crowded schedule.  I've been weary and worn out working on to do lists, attending events, and wanting to meet the needs of every one that I know.  Last week, amidst my weariness, a friend reminded me that Jesus will give me rest, that His burden is light.  That I don't single handedly need to meet every need that I see, and that my time with Him is what is most important.  She reminded me that even Jesus (being God, being perfect, being sinless) needed to take time away from the crowds to pray.  That He often withdrew.  That others were sometimes shocked and disappointed when they felt that they "needed" Him and He was no where to be found (Mark 1:35-37).

And now I'm feeling much better, as I seek to put my time with Jesus first... in realizing that some things may fall through the cracks... in accepting that I'm not pefect, and I can't do everything... as He is filling me with His peace that transcends understanding.  And so I will continue to meditate on and memorize the verses below this week, as the Lord tenderly rebukes me, and fills me with His Truth.

Luke 10:41-42 But the Lord answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her."


Sunday, August 1, 2010

28 weeks

Here's what is going on with Noah this week, according to babycenter.com;

By this week, your baby weighs two and a quarter pounds (like a Chinese cabbage) and measures 14.8 inches from the top of her head to her heels. She can blink her eyes, which now sport lashes. With her eyesight developing, she may be able to see the light that filters in through your womb. She's also developing billions of neurons in her brain and adding more body fat in preparation for life in the outside world.  You're in the home stretch! The third and final trimester starts this week. If you're like most women, you'll gain about 11 pounds this trimester. At this point, you'll likely visit your doctor or midwife every two weeks. Then, at 36 weeks, you'll switch to weekly visits. Also, if your glucose screening test result was high and you haven't yet had follow-up testing, you'll soon be given the 3-hour glucose tolerance test. And if the blood work done at your first prenatal visit showed that you're Rh negative, you'll get an injection of Rh immunoglobulin to prevent your body from developing antibodies that could attack your baby's blood. (If your baby is Rh positive, you'll receive another shot of Rh immunoglobulin after you give birth.) Around this time, some women feel an unpleasant "creepy-crawly" sensation in their lower legs and an irresistible urge to move them while trying to relax or sleep. If this sensation is at least temporarily relieved when you move, you may have what's known as restless legs syndrome (RLS). No one knows for sure what causes RLS, but it's relatively common among expectant mothers. Try stretching or massaging your legs, and cut down on caffeine, which can make the symptoms worse. Ask your caregiver if you should try iron supplements, which can sometimes relieve RLS.

As for me, not really any changes.  Still getting bigger (do I really need to gain 11 more pounds!!!!????  I'm huge already!).  Still hungry a lot.  Still getting a little minor lower back pain from time to time, but nothing bad.  Still getting a few very mild calf cramps from time to time, but hardly worth mentioning.  Still HOT all of the time, but that probably has something to do with the temperatures above 100 degrees lately.  I'm still loving all things pickled, olives, fruit, and sausage/ hot dogs.  At one of the baby showers I attended this weekend they had pigs in a blanket made with hot dogs and I was in pure bliss enjoying one!  I have a doctor's appointment this Wednesday for my initial glucose screening test.


Baby Showers and homemade gifts

This weekend was full of baby showers.  I attended one on Saturday for a friend who is due about a month before me.  Then I was a co-hostess for one today for a friend who is due almost two months before me.  This weekend was definitely crammed full of snacky foods, shower games, and baby crafting.

here's a pic from the Saturday shower, of roughly 30 women crammed into a typical New Orleans shotgun home.  see if you can spot my baby bump sticking out.

here's a pic from the Sunday shower of all of the hostesses, plus the honoree Kaitlin (in the black and white dress)

and just for fun....

with all of this baby showering came lots of baby gift making.  i spent most of saturday and sunday sewing, and had the presents all done just in time for each shower... phew!

here's baby shower gift #1... i made a pacifier clip from a suspender clip, ribbon and velcro; a baby headband from stretchy lace and a fabric flower; a crinkle tag toy from stash flannel, ribbons, and a sun chip bag; a ruffle butt onesie onesie from old cut up tshirts (i love using jersey tshirt material since it doesn't fray, and i don't have to hem the edges); and a homemade pink onesie card.  all of these items were made from materials that i already had on hand enabling me to give fun items even when we are on a tight budget

baby shower gift #2... another pacifier clip, another crinkle tag toy, an appliqued guitar onesie, and a homemade card.  again, these gifts were made solely from items that i already had on hand.


happy birthday blake

today is our nephew's second birthday.  i whipped up a crayon roll for him at my last ladies craft night and sent it in a box with some coloring pages that i printed from the internet.