Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Big Step

Tony and I are planning, God willing, to attend the MACHE (Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators) conference later this week in St. Paul, about four hours from us. The conference is Friday and Saturday with special sessions Thursday afternoon for those starting out or considering home school. I went last year to the conference in Duluth and was over whelmed....but got sooooo much information, too! I'm really looking forward to having Tony with me this year.

The thing is, children under 12 cannot attend (not that either of us would get anything out of the conference if our kids attended!) unless they are nursing (which ours are not, thank you very much!). That means that we'll be off by ourselves (YAY!) for three days (wow) without little ones near by. I have mixed emotions on this one. I mean, Tony and I have only been able to get away by ourselves for one night since Luke was born (when I kidnapped him a few years back...with my parents holding down the fort with the kids). It'll be good to be alone together without the many distractions home holds. And yet....we'll be FOUR HOURS away from the kids. What if something happens? What if they get sick? (okay, if they throw up, at least I won't have to clean it up or get it on me or smell it or anything...btw, you've gotta read www.thepioneerwoman.com today. I will never feel like any of my days are the most horrible ever after reading about her experience on Sunday!) What if they get injured? What if they miss us so much they are inconsolable? What if something happens to us? Are these all "normal" concerns when leaving your children for the first time, especially when they're still so young? And yes, I know and am at peace that they...and us...are in God's will and nothing will happen that He does not allow. But....I'm a mama.

The kids are going to be in good hands. They'll be spending most of the time at Uncle Mark and Aunt Beth's, playing with Steven when he's home from school, going to story time at the library, Beth even mentioned taking them to the play land at Burger King, somewhere we've not gone this winter due to weather and different flu bugs going around, etc. They'll also be spending several hours each day with Grandpa and Grandma at the farm, playing with Legos, watching cartoons on public tv (except for that big purple dinosaur cuz we don't like him, do we, Mama? -- I love my boy!)

I doubt they'll be inconsolable with us gone...I'm wondering if they'll even notice. Susanna asked me today if they could stay with Uncle Mark and Aunt Beth forever. I've been wanting to make sure they look forward to and enjoy their time, but I also reminded her that Uncle Mark will make naughty children stand in the corner with their nose on the wall....she assured me she's not going to be naughty. Ha! That'll be the day!

Say a prayer for us. Say a prayer for our "babysitters." Say a prayer for the kids. But mostly, say a prayer for me....I'm gonna miss those rascals....and hope I don't worry too much!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Six Years Ago....

...I became this:

....when Tony and I tied the knot :) I sometimes tell folks that's the reason I married Tony, to prove once and for all that I am, indeed, Wonder Woman (the lunch box was a shower gift from my SIL Beth....I still have it....somewhere!). That being said, when people ask me if I'm a Carter, I always tell them yes, I am...but I'm a Carter by choice. And I'd do it again, even if I didn't become Linda Carter!

It's so hard to believe it's been six years -- it seems like forever (in a GOOD way!) and yet it seems like just yesterday. I don't remember much of the wedding itself other than wearing extremely unsensible shoes and wondering HOW LONG was Pastor Luke going to go on???? He told us he had three pages for the sermon, but that wasn't counting his ad libs and rabbit trails....not that I usually minded when listening to him, but those frivolous shoes made me think only of "don't fall over, don't fall over, don't fall over!" Listening back on our wedding ceremony, I must admit Pastor Luke had a wonderful message and Pastor Russ did a great job with the vows. My brother Ron and my then-new father-in-law had lovely solos, while my dad did a short greeting (after Tony welcomed everyone) and my then-new brother-in-law read some of our favorite Bible passages (Psalm 103 and I Corinthians 13).

That said, God blessed us with a lovely day outside, too. The temperatures were agreeable, considering it was still March in Minnesota. We had some of our favorite friends and family witnessing this blessed event, including friends from California who I wasn't even expecting as well as family who recently moved here from Argentina, family from New Jersey, from Ohio (of course), and Tony's siblings from Guatemala, Ethiopia (at the time), and Indonesia (at the time -- and we weren't expecting them...that's another story that follows later in this post). Even Tony's brother from Spokane and his family made a last minute decision to come and join the festivities!

It's been a wonderful six years...we've had some ups (two additions to our family, getting to know each others likes and dislikes...yes, that's a up!) and downs (minor health problems, miscarriage of twins), and I know we'll have more ups and downs as the years go on. But something my father said at the reception stuck with me and has been proving true -- "You may think you love each other now, but one day you'll look back and realize this is nothing compared to the love that will continue to grow and develop over the years." (or words to that effect)

Following is some more of the original email I sent to friends and family shortly after the wedding....

The wedding was beautiful and went off pretty much without any problems. Well, except that we lost the vows. Tony and I thought someone was taking care of them for us; we're still not sure what happened, but while our parents were being seated, it was discovered that "oops, we don't know where the vows are!" (we know now what happened but won't tell you in order to protect the not so innocent....) All the groomsmen set about searching the church while our guests were patiently seated listening to "Largo" play about five too many times (although Jane Wolff did a beautiful job on the organ!) before our wedding coordinator finally found the vows. After that, the six "flower kids" started in and did a great job! Well, sort of. We forgot to tell my niece Hannah to drop flower petals, and as the "older" girls went in, Anna and Olivia started dropping petals...and Hannah started picking them up. We got her straightened out, and off she went down the aisle dropping her petals....until she had enough and decided to empty the basket by turning it upside down then exiting out the back (I think that was about two pews into her walk!). Turns out she was just extremely tired. As soon as she reached her daddy, she was sound asleep. By the time I reached the front, my legs were aching. For any single gals reading this...take my advice. Do NOT wear 4-inch heels during your wedding! I don't remember much about the wedding except for thinking "please hurry up...I'm hot and sweaty, my legs are killing me, and I'm really scared my legs are going to give out and I'm going to topple over!" I think Pastor Luke thought I was nervous because he cracked a few jokes and made some comments about "making sure this won't be too long" to which I added a fervent "Amen!"

Our reception was fun, starting with a wonderful slide show of old pictures and funny captions that my Uncle Ralph put together. His daughter Liz, my matron-of-honor, was seated next to me and often commented "that's not the caption I suggested!" Thank you, Uncle Ralph...it made me really nervous wondering just WHAT her suggested captions were after seeing some of yours! We cut the cake without incident, had some great speeches, everything was emceed by Tony's brother Mark, who did a wonderful job. Towards the end, though, the reception was crashed by a gorilla in a plaid suit jacket who ran round dancing to "I Did It My Way." The gorilla then disappeared (or so we thought) and we gathered up the single ladies (well, most of them...LaMae, Marjean, and a few of the wiser ladies wouldn't join the younger singles) -- Tony's niece Tessa proudly caught the...rubber chicken! When I finally threw the bouquet, another niece, Carrie, was the recipient. Since she's only 14 (I think?), I'm sure her parents are hoping and praying that "tradition" of being the next to marry does not occur! Tony's brother, Jon, who caught the garter, did comment that it doesn't work, since he's caught the garter in the past.

We were then ready to make our exit, only to find the caddy missing....a few minutes later it was driven up...by the gorilla! He opened the door for me and balloons started falling out of the car. I'm still not sure how Dwight, Jon, and Dorothy Crook managed to get so many balloons (with drawn on pigs, cows, rabbits, etc.) into the car. After getting me and my huge dress in the car, the gorilla closed the door...then started heading for the driver's side before Tony could get there...thankfully, Tony made off with me before the gorilla did. (By the way, did anyone notice that Tony's friend Mark Magnuson, one of our ushers, was mysteriously missing during most of the reception until well after we left? Hm....wonder where he "disappeared" to!) We also noticed later that there was a family of small pigs fastened to the roof of the car. Thank you, David, for not putting the real thing on top, as Tony did for you at your wedding! We spent the first night of our honeymoon at a small bed-and-breakfast about ten miles away...and ran into a few couples from church when we went out for supper. So much for staying out of sight! We spent the next few days on the North Shore in Minnesota at a cabin just north of Lutsen before returning home and starting to settle into our place. Rita has taken up the story from there....

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Update on Pastor Scott

Thanks so much for the prayers! Here are two emails I've gotten in the past few hours:

Hi. He is out of surgery. They couldn't find any bleeding. Apparently, if there was any, it has stopped. He'll be in recovery for about 3 hours. He is weak from having 2 surgeries. Planning to stay in ICU in Trumbull for now. Please pray that there will be no infection. Please pray for his strength and the strength and encouragement of his family. Many, many people are praying for him--some fasting. Thank you.

Hi Friends,I just heard that Pastor Mattern's blood count is down and lower than it was when he went into the hospital. He is doing better, but is still in ICU at Trumbull. Thank you for praying. Keep up the prayers!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Urgent Prayer Request

(posted with permission) -- my sister-in-law Tammy in Ohio just called. One of their pastors contracted pneumonia about a week and a half ago which further developed into pleurisy (fluid inside and outside of the lungs). He was hospitalized and surgery was performed to drain the fluid...but they had to go in thru the back. During surgery, something burst, spreading infected fluids through him, so surgery took longer than anticipated. He was released...but has once again been rushed back in to the hospital with internal bleeding.

Pastor Scott is in his late 30s/early 40s, has four young boys (the oldest is 10), and his wife. Please keep all of them in your prayers as well as those attending to him....and that, of course, God's healing hand would be on him and peace would be given to the family and congregation.

Thanks...I'll update you as I hear.....

Catching Up....

Okay, don't know where the post went that I was typing...but we'll try again!

It's been awhile since I've had a post of substance, and here's why! My week started with a headache that continually got worse each day, culminating into pain so bad that by Wednesday afternoon, I was curled in a ball in bed crying from the pain...which, of course, didn't help...but neither did the Motrin I'd been taking during the week. I had bad jaw pain on the left side, which had pretty much been slowly getting worse ever since had dental work done in early December...and I was hoping they were related. It had been getting so bad that Thursday morning, we heard Luke telling Susanna "Wake up! The sun is up! It's time to get out of bed!" And the sleepy reply, "I have a very bad headache and I am staying in bed today."

Thankfully, my dentist was able to get me in Thursday morning and did a bit of polishing/grinding on the extensive work he had done...and the pain pretty much went away immediately....by supper time, I was able to actually chew food on the left side of my mouth for the first time since my original dental work! The bite was off, just a bit, but it made a huge difference. It reminded me how letting "just a little" bit of sin into your life might not be noticable, but over time, it is crippling....

We have also been dealing with a little girl who loves to put close to the entire roll of toilet paper into the toilet at one "sitting." Even after being wiped, she'll wait until our backs are turned and just tear off huge strips of t.p., one right after another, and stick it into the toilet, flushing after awhile. Tony's had to use the plunger almost every day this week, at least once. She did get the reassurance of being told today that if it happens again, she will get spankings from both Daddy AND Mama, and if Daddy isn't home at the time, she will tell him what she did...and will get a spanking when he comes home. We've not had a problem so far today....

I've also been working some really great leads for Watkins as well as Greenstar, along with working more with my current Watkins team. I am very thankful for the business that has been coming my way, especially since with my health problems last year and the blizzards and bad storms over the winter have really cut into the parties and things I was able to do last year. God has been so good in allowing these business ventures to be a slowly increasing part of our family's revenue.

We're slowly gearing up to this year's season. Tony and Dad Carter have been working on starting lots of tomato plants as well as many other things. I've not really looked much at what needs to be ready before the Market opens, but we have at least six weeks to go yet. We're pretty much set for Market employees, but Tony is hoping for a few more good farm workers (any one want a minimum wage, back breaking job for the summer? It's VERY hard work, but it's honest and usually fun!). I also have to start updating our website...which hasn't been updated since last September! So...if any of you have some great produce recipes you'd like to share (produce that we grow, that is!), please email them to me so we can use them...with credit, of course, being given to you. And...if you come visit...I MAY even make it for you, giving you a taste of just how wonderful your recipe would be if you made it all the time with Carter's produce ;)

We've also been watching information on the flooding in Fargo. Thankfully, we are far enough away where the danger doesn't affect us, but here in Park Rapids there are plenty of flooded roads, roads closed because of flooding, and fields filled with "lakes." My heart goes out to those in the Fargo area....the dike has a crack in it, and the worst is expected to happen this weekend...wave crests higher than they've ever had (and expected to go several inches above the dike...IF the dike holds), mandatory evacuations because they are at the point now where they cannot reach certain areas in case of emergencies. The AWANA games that were to be held in Fargo this weekend were moved to our local school here in Park Rapids...so I may end up taking the kids tomorrow to watch cousin Steven compete...and so Luke can see what they're all about. He'll be able to join in next year when he is (gulp!) a Sparkie. Is he really that old already????

Speaking of Luke...the boy is READING! He's already finished a full book called "Red Tractor" at night before bed and is currently working on "Hop on Pop." I am really impressed by his drive to learn and read. I have to laugh, because my kids don't fit those "traditional" student roles. Luke can sit still and loves doing schoolwork, sometimes for hours (literally). He'll read simple instructions by himself and correctly do what they say. Susanna doesn't like to sit for even two minutes to do anything related to learning. Yes, she's ONLY four, so I'm not worried about it, but I've always heard how little girls love to do learning, will sit still, etc. Hm. Maybe someone should tell HER that!

Tony and I are getting ready to attend this year's homeschool conference here in Minnesota, "Mache." (Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators"). It'll be in St. Paul, about four hours away, and goes from Thursday through Saturday. Luke and Susanna are excited that they'll get to play with Grandma some during the days, and that they get to spend lots of time at Uncle Mark and Aunt Beth's house...even stay overnight! This will be the first time ever that both of us will be away from them during the night...so we'll see how it goes......

We had Mark and Beth over for supper again last night....I honestly felt soooo good after the dental work, I called them mid-afternoon to see if they wanted to join us for supper. We love having them over! I made one of our new favorite Cafe Johnsonia recipes, Balsamic Rosemary Chicken http://cafejohnsonia.blogspot.com/2006/09/rosemary-balsamic-chicken.html served with rice, pulled out some Carter's asparagus from the freezer and sauteed that as well as some Carter's sweet corn (not sauteed). I also tried a new roll recipe...and found ANOTHER winner! It was again one of those card recipes you get in the mail, so here's the recipe. Try it this weekend. Quick, easy, delish!

Perfectly Easy Dinner Rolls (honest, that's the name)
1 cup warm (105-115) water
2 packages active dry yeast (or 4.5 tsp)
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp salt
4-4.5 cups flour

Combine water and yeast and let stand until foamy, about five minutes. Stir in butter, sugar, eggs, and salt. Beat in one cup of flour at a time until dough is too stiff to mix (you might not need all of it...I did). Cover and refrigerate 2 hours to 4 days.
Grease a 13x9 inch baking pan. Turn chilled dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide dough into 24 equal-sized pieces. Roll each piece into smooth (or not) round balls, and place the balls in even rows (6 rows by 4 rows) in the prepared pan. Cover and let rise until double, about one hour.
Preheat oven to 375F. Bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Brush warm rolls with melted butter (not necessary but wow! It adds just that right touch!). Serve with butter, honey, and Carter's Own Strawberry Freezer Jam. Beth ate about three of these, I think!

I also found another winner with a new (for us) dessert recipe from The Pioneer Woman Cooks. Peach Crisp with Maple Cream Sauce http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2007/07/peach_crisp_wit/ WOW ! Again, simple and easy...very, very good. Make sure you have some cold milk or hot coffee to sip along with it!

I WAS going to try a new cinnamon roll recipe (again from Pioneer Woman Cooks) http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2007/06/cinammon_rolls_/ but ended up making a double batch of waffles from Domestication in Progress http://domesticationinprogress.blogspot.com/2008/05/waffles.html ..that made many more waffles than I expected (they're fantastic, and I think I'm sticking some in the freezer so when I'm too busy to make breakfast this summer, I can just thaw some out, eggo-style)! Then, Beth brought over some great bavarian cream bismarks last night for our breakfast....so I didn't want to make all the cinnamon rolls on top of that. Perhaps next week, before we head to the Cities, so we can take some with us!

Feeling so much better (finally!), the kids and I did a bunch of fun art projects today. I'm not the artsy type, but both of them love anything to do with "projects." We painted a Cinderella sun catcher, several plaster animals (already made), and made some great fun ribbon thingies that Marie had on her Make and Takes website yesterday, I think. http://www.makeandtakes.com/move-to-the-music-with-rhythm-ribbons If you have kids, do these. Simple, fun, and the kids love them!

Um...what else has been going on? Isn't that enough? Okay, okay, the most anticipated thing for me....we are celebrating our 6th SIXTH wedding anniverary on Sunday! So hard to believe it's been that long...but that short! And yes, I'll post more about our early days maybe tomorrow.

For now, I'm sure there's more I'm forgetting to mention...but oh well! That's what happens as one gets older!

Monday, March 23, 2009


have any of you tried the recipes I posted? If so, what are your thoughts? Just curious....

Friday, March 20, 2009

Melty - Fuse - Beads

During the winter, it's hard to find activites to keep two active kiddos busy and entertained without going nuts (especially when the temps don't get above -10 for weeks at a time, it seems!), so I tend to look at different craft ideas as well as pulling out "special" toys that I've stashed during the year.

One really fun thing we discovered this year were "melty bead" -- also know as fuse beads. You take these little soft plastic beads and put them on these pokey boards in any shape you want (some boards are already in shapes), then put a piece of parchment paper (VERY important) over the beads before ironing them. The heat from the iron causes the beads to melt, or fuse, together, thus creating a fun project for kids (and grown ups) to do.

My kids, and especially Luke, have LOVED the melty beads activities. There is a company where you can also get larger sized beads for littler hands. They come with a book where you can put the pokey board over different pictures and put the large colored beads on the indicated spaces, making fire trucks, police cars, flowers, puppies, butterflies, and more.

I LOVE the melty beads because they're fun (and I have to remember not to hog the pokey boards from the kids!), they're great for kids to see what they can make, they can help you teach the kids color coordination, or you can just let them have at it and let their creative side run wild!

You can find the larger ones at http://www.klutz.com/ (I LOVE Klutz books!); the smaller (regular) sized beads can easily be found at craft stores and also Walmart...you can also do a quick search online and find lots of different places that have them available. Here is some of our work!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

St Patrick's Day

Now that the kids are getting a bit older and are more aware of what's going on outside of our own lives, I told them about St. Patrick and the whole holiday. Luke has been excited all month as he's see "broccoli" on windows in stores and such (he just can't seem to remember "shamrock") and couldn't wait until the day when we need to wear green and eat green....and it finally arrived (and yes, I know that has nothing to do with St. Patrick, per se, but it's the tradition of green....). He excitedly dressed himself in green and eagerly awaited his green food in the morning. Susanna thanked me for making green food in the morning. (although they made the green toast...."painted" with green milk then toasted) Sus wiped out her food. Luke all of a sudden wasn't hungry, which is VERY unlike him!

We had a reprieve at lunch and ate "normal" food, then came the green mashed potatoes for supper. Luke thanked me over and over for making green potatoes and asked for alot...but again, when it came time to eat them....well, let's just say he was very hungry the next morning!

It was fun, we did lots of green things during the day, and we're looking forward to it again next year!

Spaghetti Fondue

Tonight for supper we had spaghetti fondue. I LOVE fondue, but living with two small children kind of limits the fondue menu. In fact, up until tonight, we've never had it as a family (I did do fondue for New Year's Eve a couple years back and we enjoyed some yummies after tucking the kids in bed).

Basically, I heated up some of my home-made spaghetti sauce (or you can use store-bought, if you must) then put it in our fondue pot. We dipped in home-made meatballs (one pound each of ground sausage and ground beef, one egg, 1/4 cup bread crumbs, 1 tsp Watkins meatloaf seasoning, mix well, form into meatballs--about the same size ball you'd do for making cookies, bake for 20 minutes on 350), cooked up some mini raviolis and tortellinis, and let everyone dip in. The kids especially had a blast, although we had to remind our very dainty daughter several times that she should NOT shove a whole meatball into her mouth at one time... I think I had four meatballs, but between Tony and the kids (and honestly, mainly the kids) we wiped out almost two pounds of meat! It was a blast...

Rainbow Milk

A week or so ago, Marie over at Make and Takes (link on the side) had a great idea that she does with her kids to teach them about mixing colors -- adding food coloring to milk. Well, we did that yesterday, and not only did it fascinate the kids, Tony stuck around for our "science lesson," too! I tinted just three cups using the primary colors, then had the kids guess what color they'd get if they poured a couple colors into another glass. I'm not sure who had the most fun....the kids, Tony, or me...in not having to clean up after this lesson (they drank it all!).

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

More Time in the Kitchen....

Okay, here is round two in the many recipes I've been trying lately! These are all new to us since the beginning of the year, although some have been made many times already!

First of all, I LOVE love LOVE the recipes (and stories) at The Pioneer Woman. Ree just won "best blog of the year" at the bloggies in Houston, if that's any indication! The following are some of the many recipes you'll find on her site. I love that she has step-by-step tutorials, showing everything as she goes along....although with our dial up, I rarely can see the photos :(

Apricot Bars -- this are FABULOUS! And made with lots of oats, so they're healthy... http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2008/05/apricot-bars-are-they-for-breakfastor-dessert/

Crash Hot Potatoes -- yes, I've written about these before but this is one of those recipes I'll be making often! http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2008/06/crash-hot-potatoes/

Dump Cake -- I may have written on this before, too, but it's something my 4 and 5 year old can do by themselves with very little supervision..... http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2008/04/dump-cake-a-potluckers-paradise/

Egg-in-a-hole -- a couple years ago, one of my kids' babysitters was all excited that she had "egg-in-a-hole" for breakfast. She tried explaining it to me and finally gave up. I was excited to see it on PW's website...and it is pretty easy to make, another breakfast favorite of ours! http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2008/07/egg-in-a-hole-see-alternate-names-below/

Oatmeal crispies -- This was another snack recipe we tried and LOVE. You can make lots of this dough ahead of time and freeze it. Since it's something that my kids, again, can do with little supervision, we'll be making this when I need to find something to occupy them! DELISH! http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2007/09/marlboro_mans_favorite_cookies_oatmeal_crispies/

Onion strings -- oh YEAH! If you follow PW's instructions step-by-step, you won't have any of the side affects onions sometimes cause....But seriously, these are yummy, addictive, and easy to make. http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2008/03/onion-strings-oh-yeah-baby/

PW's No-Knead Dinner rolls -- these are quick, simple, and very yummy! They make about 48 rolls (in muffin pans), so I did 1/4 batch.... http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2007/11/pw_dinner_rolls_-_no_kneading_required/

Back in January I did several guest postings for Lindsey over at Cafe Johnsonia. She has a great selection of recipes, and following are a few of them:

Bread or rolls -- these are very good for home-made hamburger buns or just simply dinner rolls. http://cafejohnsonia.blogspot.com/2008/03/homemade-buns-or-rolls.html

Caramel-topped Flan -- ooohhhh!!! SOOOOO good! However, you are supposed to cook the caramel topping until it is a light caramel color then for an additional 5 minutes. I found that was too long (and I didn't even go a full three minutes) -- it had a bit of a burnt taste. I'd go just until the caramel color comes next time....and there will be a next time! http://cafejohnsonia.blogspot.com/2008/03/tuesdays-with-dorie-caramel-topped-flan.html

Cream-filled strawberries -- these were a huge hit when we had my brother- and sister-in-law and family over. They also used the extra cream filling on the palacinta (see previous post for recipe) with great results! These'll be even better when I can use fresh Carter's strawberries! http://cafejohnsonia.blogspot.com/2009/01/valentines-treats-cream-filled.html

Crescent Rolls -- I remember my aunt making homemade crescent rolls and all the painstaking work that went into them. Wasn't sure I wanted to tackle these, but thought...why not? This is a multi-day recipe (mainly for chilling time), but well-worth it! They don't make a very flaky buttery crescent roll, but they were good enough where my father-in-law had THREE at one sitting! That's saying alot, for those of you that know him! http://cafejohnsonia.blogspot.com/2006/11/crescent-rolls-makes-16-rolls-dough-cup.html

Rosemary Balsamic chicken -- if I've not written about this before (and I think I have), I don't know why not! This is something I'll make every few weeks, varying the herbs and spices, but enjoying it every time!! http://cafejohnsonia.blogspot.com/2006/09/rosemary-balsamic-chicken.html

Sour Cream Cherry Muffins with pecan struesel -- The recipe says it makes a dozen muffins; it made 15 very LARGE muffins ... which was a good thing since they are so good! http://cafejohnsonia.blogspot.com/2009/01/sour-cream-cherry-muffins-with-pecan.html

Domestication in Progress is another blog that I found with great recipes! Here are a few:

Tortellini Soup -- this is quick and easy to make, very delicious! We've had this a few times already and will again soon! http://domesticationinprogress.blogspot.com/2007/08/tortellini-soup.html

Waffles -- I had to laugh at how quick and easy these directions were...but these waffles are GREAT!!! Definitely something I'll be making again! http://domesticationinprogress.blogspot.com/2008/05/waffles.html

Nutty Banana Bread -- I made this today and it's definitely a hit! There are two recipes on this link, both are wonderful (I made the second recipe several weeks ago) http://domesticationinprogress.blogspot.com/2007/06/banana-bread_08.html

Of course, Marie at Makes and Takes has some yummy recipes, too, and one that I make often (and I believe wrote about before) is her delicious rosemary peasant bread. http://www.makeandtakes.com/rosemary-peasant-bread -- please note: most of us are what she refers to as "in the south" as in elevation. Do add the extra flour!

And somewhere, SOMEWHERE! are the recipes for parmesean-herb pan biscuits as well as banana sour cream muffins...I just can't find them online right now! I'll keep looking and post them when I do...because you've gotta try them!

I've also been enjoying my new Better Homes Cook Book, an "old" cookbook, but new to me! Found a great sloppy joe recipe as well as the herb-roasted chicken I made the other night! Not only that, I threw together a great stew the other day when I got a three hour notice to make lunch for ten workers at church! No problem...if you have time to can during the summer! I browned a pound of Carter's ground beef, added some Watkins beef soup base, a quart each of Carter's carrots, Carter's green beans, Carter's tomatoes, a pint of Carter's peas, and a bag of Carter's frozen sweet corn. Added some pearled barley about 20 minutes before serving, and voila! Delicious lunch!

But...my trying new recipes isn't over yet. I still have a huge stack to go through, includng steak bites, banana-chocolate-chunk cookies, nutmeg struesel muffins, rootbeer cookies, pasta carbonara, and more....as I test, I'll tell!

And, when I get a chance to download some photos, I'll show you some of the many green things we ate yesterday!

In the Kitchen

I've been trying lots of new recipes lately...which in turn means I've been inviting relatives to join us for supper (hey, if something doesn't taste good, I'd much rather have less of it leftover than lots of it, ya know?). But...there've been only rave reviews! Well, the two dishes I made that I won't be making again were for our family only....thankfully! (and not intentionally)

So, here are some of the recipes I've tried, along with the links where to find them (or the actual recipe if it isn't online), and our thoughts on them! Enjoy....

For our last Fun, Food, and Fellowship, I was supposed to bring dessert...so I thawed out some delicious Carter's strawberries and whipped up some shortcakes. We sell a great mix at our market, so I made a batch of those, then I tried this recipe that has had me salivating for awhile. Wow, were those wiped out QUICK! This is definitely a keeper!

Chocolate Shortcake (from some recipe collection card that came in the mail trying to get me to sign up....which I didn't, but definitely not because of this recipe!)

2 cups baking mix (I used bisquick low fat)
2 tbs unsweetened cocoa (I used Watkins, of course!)
1/4 tsp nutmeg (again, Watkins)
3/4 cup (6 oz) low fat vanilla yogurt
3 tbs honey (I used local honey, which I'm sure made these better!)
2 tbs vegetable oil (I used Watkins grapeseed...much healthier!)

Combine baking mix, coco, and nutmeg, mixing well. Stir in yogurt, honey, and oil until a soft dough forms. Drop by large spoonsfuls on an ungreased cookie sheet 1" apart. Bake at 425 about 15 minutes and cool for 20 minutes. Makes 6.

I did a double recipe of these and know I'll be making them all during strawberry season, probably a triple recipe at a time (yes, for our family alone....)
Irish Soda Bread

I found this recipe as I was cleaning through some things a couple weeks ago. It's one I made often years ago before I lost the recipe....glad I found it again! A former boss gave me this recipe, no idea where he got it from!

6 c bread flour
1 tbs baking soda
1 tbs baking powder
3 tbs corn starch
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2.5 c buttermilk
1/2 cup currents (although raisin will do in a pinch)

Add dry ingredients and currents together then pour buttermilk all at once, stirring just until a soft dough is formed. Knead for a minute or two. Divide into two portions and shape into a round loaf. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Use a sharp knife to make the sign of the Cross on the top of each (this releases the steam while baking but also has religious significance in many Irish homes...of which we are not, Irish, that is, although Tony thinks there is a small possibility somewhere in his heritage).

Yummy! (although Susanna picked out all her raisins...)
Whole Wheat Herbed Bread

(made this before, it is DELICIOUS, and I have another loaf in the bread maker as I type...) Again, I have no idea where I got this recipe; it's jotted down on a scratch paper!

1 cup water
2 Tbs olive oil (again, I used Watkins grapeseed oil...healthier!)
1 tsp salt
1 tbs sugar
1 tbs fresh OR 1 tsp dried rosemary (yep, Watkins is best!)
1 tbs fresh OR 1 tsp dried sage (ditto from above)
3 cups whole wheat flour (I use stone ground and found pure whole wheat is quite heavy in this bread, so I do half whole wheat and half white)
2 tsp yeast

Place ingredients in bread machine in the order listed; use 1.5# loaf, whole wheat setting.
Palachinta (okay, that's the phonic spelling, I don't know the true Hungarian spelling...but these are also known as blintzes, crepes, think pancakes, etc.) I got this recipe from my first "real" cookbook -- Our Favorite Recipes -- which I think is also known as The Mansfield Cookbook" (one of those group-made spiral bound ones)

This isn't a new recipe for us; I make it quite often, much to my kids' delight! I did make these the other night when my brother- and sister-in-law and their family were over, just in case the other new recipes I was trying would fail...but they didn't, and we all were extremely stuffed!

2 eggs
2 tbs vegetable oil (yeah, the grapeseed....)
1 cup milk
3/4 c flour
1/2 tsp salt

This is the original recipe; however, I also add 1 tbs sugar to mine while using 2/3 cup flour instead of 3/4 cup. The sugar browns them nicely while the batter is thinner. Oh, I also add a dash of Watkins vanilla.....

Beat all ingredents together until very smooth (my kitchen-aid works GREAT...although my kitchen-aid currently isn't working at all...boohoo!) and refrigerate at least half an hour (yeah, I never do that.....we're too eager for the palachintas!)

Heat a 7" non-stick skillet to very hot (then turn down heat), then pour 1/2 soup ladle of mixture in the skillet, turning to cover the bottom of the skillet. Cook for a minute or two before flipping over and lightly browning the second side, too. I've found that by heating the skillet very hot initially, I get great results cooking them.

cover one side with your choice of jam or jelly or cinnamon sugar, then roll up like a tortilla. Enjoy! My favorite filling USED to be cinnamon sugar, but my Hungarian grandma does a mixture of brown sugar and finely chopped walnuts that is DELICIOUS! Another favorite filling is 1/2 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup cream cheese, 1/4 cup powdered sugar blended together very well, then spread on each.

Watch out for little hands...these disappear faster than they can be made!
I think I've shared before that Sunday evenings are snack night in our house. Our big meal of the day is lunch time. This past Sunday, I made these yummy treats (all of Liz's postings on chocolate and peanut butter made me really crave something similar!).

Peanut Butter Bars (again, no idea where I got this recipe written on scratch paper!)

1 c melted butter or margerine
4 c peanut butter (chunky or smooth, your choice!)
5 c powdered sugar
1 c brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla (only Watkins will do!)

Blend together well; stir in 1 package dark chocolate chips. Press into cookie sheet. Cut and serve.

This makes ALOT. I made only half batch and put it in a 9x9 pan. Even then, they were pretty thick. Next time I'd do half a batch in a 9x13. They are VERY good though!

Wow, I have alot here already....I'm gonna post this and work on a second email that has the recipe links to other sites....do try some or all of these. They got GREAT reviews at our house!!!

Wanna know where to get great Watkins products? Check out my Watkins website at www.watkinsonline.com/lindasuecarter

Monday, March 16, 2009

Six Years Ago....


It's been six years now since I made Minnesota my home....and it seems so much longer (in a good way) yet like just yesterday! Minnesota has been an adventure -- from frigid winters to some extremely hot summers and everything in between (including a blizzard in May and summer temps in October); from blizzards to wild thunder storms to tornadoes to beautiful sunshiny days; from not knowing hardly anyone to having an abundance of wonderful friends of all ages; from being a single working woman to being a wife...and a mother of two precious preschoolers.
It's funny; you never know where God will take you in life (if you're willing to go where He leads). I NEVER expected to be here in Minnesota; actually, I never expected to even VISIT Minnesota! But....I am so thankful that Tony and I met, that I ended up here in Minnesota with him. Just think....I could've ended up living in a state where Arnold Schwartzenager is governor...instead of living in a state where we have the possibility of having Al Franken as senator! Okay, maybe Minnesota does have its downsides....
Although this was in one of my earliest posts, I thought I'd share again about our trip out and some of the first things that happened after moving here.

Our send-off crowd...little did I know that Lori, in the brown, would surprise me and show up at my wedding!

Well, the trip from California to Minnesota was not uneventful, but praise God we had some great answers to prayer! We got a later start than hoped for, but in the end it turned out well. My former church, Calvary Life Fellowship, had a great send off for us. Pastor Luke had a wonderful message about letting go and freely leaving. This was after the Sunday School kids and I led praise & worship. After the sermon, we had a huge spread, a pre-wedding reception, complete with a wedding cake that was a gift from Jennifer Sanders, a dear friend of mine. We took the top layer back with us, but it didn't last too long! Several other friends of mine also came to church that day for a final farewell....fun and nice to see them, but sad to say goodbye. Before lunch was served, I'd ran out to the car for something and noticed SOMEONE had tied cans to the bottom of our car and Penske rental truck (those same cans just happened to be sitting on Luke & Mandy's kitchen counter the day before....). When I went back in, I whispered to Tony to cut the strings, which he did -- artfully hanging the strings so no one would be the wiser. Little did we know.... I don't know if someone saw him or if one of the strings fell, but the strings were retied before we took off..... (Looking back now, six years later, I'm still amazed at the send off we had. I very much miss my friends back at Calvary Life, and appreciate even more the love they shared with us.)

Tony and me with our first wedding cake at Calvary Life Fellowship

We had a great start. Little traffic, beautiful weather, great company. LaMae James, a dear lady from Park Rapids, flew out to California to spend a few days with her son that lives close to where I lived. She joined us on the trip back to help with driving. Well, about three hours into our travels, we came to a grinding halt along I-10 East. There had been a terrible accident on the westbound side several miles up and both sides of the freeway were temporarily closed while they brought in medivac helicopters. We didn't know what the hold up was for almost an hour though. We figure we lost about 2-3 hours of travel time because of the accident, but we did find out later that -- although two full tour buses crashed and several severe injuries occurred, thankfully nobody died. We ended up stopping for the night about an hour past the Utah border. (Again, looking back now -- LaMae's son and his wife now live here. And I cannot even begin to imagine traffic that we faced, even without the accident we saw.)

The next day was uneventful, although during the short time that I took over driving the fully-loaded truck, we had some pretty strong winds on a small state highway in Gillette, Wyoming...it felt like I was going to end up tilted over a few times, but thankfully the winds died down. We stayed in Wyoming that night and got a good start the next morning. After making it through the rest of the mountains, we decided to take a small interstate (85) that would cut off several hours from our travels. It goes from the bottom of South Dakota up to I-94 which would take us home. I don't know if any of you are familiar with route 85, but after going through the small town of Belle Fourche, there is literally nothing for 71 miles until you get to a small town called Buffalo...then literally nothing again for another 45 miles until you get to Bowman...after that it's only 32 miles until the next small town, and a short 26 miles until reaching I-94. Well, I shouldn't say "literally nothing." There are plenty of antelope in the fields along the two-lane highway...and about 40-some miles north of Belle Fourche, there is a small convenience store called Crow Buttes...it has a couple tables for hungry travelers, some souvenirs, and a gas pump. (and seriously, folks, that's all that there was....no homes to see, no exits, no side roads, nothing...)

Why am I telling you all this? Well, about six miles past Crow Buttes, Tony veered off the road. Initially, LaMae and I thought he was pulling over to see the herd of antelope...until I saw the front left tire rotating diagonally. We're still not sure what the problem was, perhaps the tie rod or the axle, but that was when a bit of panic set in...what in the world were we going to do? I don't know how many saw our truck before we left, but that thing was FULLY loaded! We had horrible thoughts about having to unload and reload into another truck, and no one knows better than Tony, Ted Bultsma, James Hansen, and Jerome Foster Sr. that THAT possibility was close to impossible. I'm still not sure how they got everything into the truck in the first place! Luke and Mandy also had the front completely loaded down with wedding flowers and my wedding dress...there was just enough room for Tony and a small cooler in the cab. After thanking God that Tony was able to pull over okay, LaMae and I set out in the car to find a phone. (I didn't have a cell phone then, and even if I did, there was no way we'd get service out there!) We drove back to Crow Butte and called Penske. After explaining to the man on the phone what the problem was (oh yeah, did I mention that Saturday after we loaded the truck, James and Tony noticed that same front tire wasn't round? It was kind of square. We took it back to the place where we picked up the truck and asked them to change the tire. The guy told us "oh, it's okay; that's just because the alignment is off...you'll make it there with no problem. However, you can always go to the Penske service station and see what they think." We opted to do that; the service station opted to change the tire; we thought that was the end of that....were we WRONG!), I was glad when he told me "we found someone to tow you." I asked, "to Belle Fourche? Buffalo? Bismarck? Tow to where?" wondering, what will happen then? I was stunned when the reply was "all the way to Park Rapids." Wow! That was about 650 miles! No worries about transferring items; we didn't have to pay for gas in the truck for the remainder of the trip, and the best thing....we didn't need to return the truck! We were going to have to return it to Minneapolis, about a 3.5 hour trip each way. Praise God! No, actually the best thing was that Tony and I finally got to ride together :) We did, however, have to wait for just over six hours for the tow truck to arrive...but I wasn't about to complain about that. After finally getting on the road around 6:00, we ran into a blinding snow storm. There wasn't alot of snow, but it was whirling quite severely and by the time we reached I-94, it was next to impossible to see while driving...and when someone would pass, we were blinded for almost a minute or more until the snow settled a bit. We stopped that night in Bismarck while the tow truck continued home. The next day we made it to Park Rapids without further incident and were warmly welcomed by Tony's parents.

Within the next couple weeks, we got things unpacked and started welcoming visitors. Tony's sister and her family ended up coming home unexpectedly from Indonesia. Because she is close to her due date, they weren't expecting to be able to travel home for the wedding. However, with the war starting, their team leader thought it would be best for them to return in case things heated up more...and before it was too late for her to travel. Soon, more and more family and friends started arriving...the week of the wedding, Faith Baptist (my new church) had a "mixed" shower for us -- men and women. We had a great time. Later that week, the day before our wedding, Tony's sister Carla (from Ethiopia) and his sister-in-law Lori hostessed a personal shower/tea at LaMae's house. There were around two dozen ladies and girls there; as Anna (his 4-year-old niece) told me when I asked where Ruby (his 2-year-old niece) was "this is only for BIG girls!" All the gals wrote down a piece of advice for me for marriage...every bit very much appreciated. (Six years later, Tony's sister added yet another little girl to their family along with the one she was carrying then...and they live in the Philippines now. His other sister Carla is no longer in Ethiopia...they have since moved to Uganda...and are now living in Rome)

And that, for now, is where I'll end off. Wow. Hard to believe it's been six years!
....and now

Friday, March 13, 2009

Imitation is the sincerest Form of Flattery....

Or so the saying goes. However, I had to tell my father today that he really didn't need to go to the lengths he did to imitate me.

Mid-morning, I got a call from my mom informing me that Daddy was in the hospital. Wow, what a shocker to me. I guess I never thought of my dad being IN the hospital...although he does quite a bit of visiting there (for those of you that don't know, my dad is a pastor). Mom told me that he had been awake since 3 a.m. with severe abdominal pain and finally woke her up at 7 to tell her he thought they should go to the hospital. That he would even say something like that was enough to set her in motion!

At the hospital, they did a number of tests on Daddy and ruled out heart problems but discovered a severely inflamed pancreas as well as gall stones. They also gave him pain meds...and soon he requested more as those weren't effective. That was also a shocker....he doesn't even take aspirin or Tylenol!

Dad was admitted and is expected to stay through Saturday, on IV only, so the inflamation will go down and the pancreas can heal. They'll be doing a surgical consult in the morning and will most likely schedule surgery to remove his gall bladder (and that's where the imitation comes in!) -- but when the surgery will be is yet to be determined.

I called early evening to talk with him and really had to laugh (to myself) -- he was sooo out of it, could hardly remember my kids' names, and yet was talking about planning the layout of the garden while he had nothing else to do. I also asked him what was happening, if it was gall bladder or what, and his answer was "I don't know. I don't really remember anything except arriving at the hospital." So, if he's planning the layout of his garden, I kinda doubt he'll remember it! As well as our phone conversation....

On a bit more of a serious note, please do keep him in your prayers, as well as my mom. I cannot imagine my dad as a patient...he ALWAYS has to be doing something, so this will be hard for him (and probably very good for him, too...although he'd probably disagree). I also know that he'll be pushing himself as much as possible...when he shouldn't try to do so. But I also know from personal experience that physically he just won't be able to do much except rest and recover.

On behalf of our family, thanks for your prayers. You can send him a card if you want to their home address -- 3007 East River Road, Newton Falls, OH 44444 -- for those of you local to him, he's at Trumbull Memorial, but I really doubt he'll be up to visitors. I'll keep ya all informed as I know.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Blessed Minnesota

My good friend Chuck sent this email a few months ago...right around our first or second snow storm...

On the sixth day, God turned to the Archangel Gabriel, and said, "Today, I am going to create a land called Minnesota. It will be a land of outstanding natural beauty; a land of 10,000 beautiful lakes, each one full of fish. It shall have tall majestic pines, peacefully flowing rivers, landscapes full of buffalo, tall grasses, and eagles. It will be a land of beautiful blue skies, forests full of bear, elk and moose; and there will be rich farmland."

God continued, "I shall make the land rich in resources so as to make the inhabitants prosper and they shall be known as a most friendly people on earth, people who practice being 'Minnesota Nice' every day."

"But Lord," asked Gabriel, "don't you think you are being too generous to these Minnesotans?"

"Not really," replied God. "Just wait and see the winters I am going to give them."

(and I will post something on a more personal level real soon!)

Friday, March 6, 2009

A New Recipe...sorta!

Okay, I got this as an email today from a good friend back in CA and just had to post it. Please...don't try this at home!

White Lie Cake

Have you ever told a white lie? You are going to love this, especially all of those who bake for church events.

Alice Grayson was to bake a cake for the ___________ Church Ladies' Group in Tuscaloosa , but forgot to do it until the last minute. She remembered the morning of the bake sale and after rummaging through cabinets, found an angel food cake mix & quickly made it while drying her hair, dressing, & helping her son pack for Scout camp. When Alice took the cake from the oven, the center had dropped flat and the cake was horribly disfigured. She thought, 'Oh dear, there is not time to bake another cake.'

This cake was important to Alice because she did so want to fit in at her new church and in her new community of friends. So, being inventive, she looked around the house for something to build up the center of the cake.Alice found it in the bathroom - a roll of toilet paper. She plunked it in and covered it with icing. Not only did the finished product look beautiful, it looked perfect.

Before she left the house to drop the cake by the church and head for work, Alice woke her daughter Amanda and gave her some money and specific instructions to be at the bake sale the moment it opened at 9:30 and to buy the cake and bring it home. When Amanda arrived at the sale, she found the attractive, perfect cake had already been sold. She grabbed her cell phone and called her mom. Alice was horrified - she was beside herself. Everyone would know! What would they think? She would be ostracized, talked about, and ridiculed! All night, Alice lay awake in bed thinking about people pointing fingers at her and talking about her behind her back.

The next day, Alice promised herself she would try not to think about the cake and would attend the fancy luncheon/ bridal shower at the home of a fellow church member and try to have a good time. Alice did not want to attend because the hostess was a snob who more than once had looked down her nose at Alice because she was a single parent and not from the founding families of Tuscaloosa but, having already RSVP'd, she couldn't think of a believable excuse to stay home.

The meal was elegant, the company was definitely upper crust old South and, to Alice ʼs horror, the cake in question was presented for dessert! Alice felt the blood drain from her body when she saw the cake! She started out of her chair to tell the hostess all about it, but before she could get to her feet, the Mayor's wife said, 'What a beautiful cake!' Alice, still stunned, sat back in her chair when she heard the hostess (who was a prominent church member) say, 'Thank you, I baked it myself.'

Alice smiled and thought to herself, 'God is good.'

Sunday, March 1, 2009

You have a beautiful....

I've been suffering with a mild sinus cold. Mild in that it isn't as bad as most of the ones that have hit friends and family, but still enough that my head is stuffy and my eyes and sinuses are achy. (achey? achie?) -- Anyway, I stayed home from church today and slept while Tony and the kids went. It was a lazy day, I think the biggest thing I did today was make hamburger soup from a recipe my MIL gave me several years ago that I lost and just recently found (did that sentence make sense?). Remind me, and I'll post it this week. I lazed around in sweats, hair scraggly and yucky, a big ole zit popped out at the top of my nose (lovely picture, hm?). I wasn't stinky, though...I did take a hot bath to help with the sinuses!

Tony and the kids got home; Luke took one look at me and informed me he would pray for me because he didn't want me to die. Yikes! I must've looked worse than I thought! I smiled at Susanna and told her she had a beautiful dress. She smiled back and sweetly said, "Why thank you, Mama! And you have a beautiful...." She stopped. She was stuck. "Um....you have a beautiful...." I could almost see those gears grinding in her head. After all, she already knows her nose grows when she lies. What could she say? A finger popped up. A smile lit her face. "Ring! Mama, you have a beautiful ring!" Ahhhh!

Then she continued, "And a beautiful face, Mama. You always have a beautiful face."

My sinuses suddenly felt so much better.

(and I got rid of that nasty zit by putting some Watkins petro carbo on it....within an hour it was popped and gone!)