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Goodbye, March!

Goodbye, March!

Back to our regularly scheduled life, since Senegal is now months behind us!  (Facebook friends, you might have missed some–browse around the blog if you are interested)

My camera only has three photos on it from January and February, so we’ll just skip all that and share Katya’s birthday pics.  How did age eight already hit us?!!

dressing up at the Mother-Daughter sleepover


Ready for the fabulous Father-Daughter dance at church


Birthday celebration with good friends–Katya got to celebrate with several of her favorite friends over her birthday week.  Hooray for good times together (and hooray for mom not needing to plan a birthday party!)


So  many fun boxes in the mail!


Our family appears to be experts at having March birthdays!  Here is Katya sharing a special birthday dessert with some more March babies.


And our beautiful eight-year-old: spunky, creative, kindhearted, intense, passionate, and vibrant.  Love you, sweetheart!


Random Recipe Round-Up

Random Recipe Round-Up


Another random photo, another list of 10 recent Pinterest cooking adventures.  Enough said!

1. Cherry Kale Salad

Pretty much balsamic vinaigrette makes everything wonderful.  However, I did like this salad recipe for suggesting a pretty combination of summer fruits to go with the aforementioned yummy dressing.  I don’t like eating straight raw kale, so I chopped it finely and mixed it with some other greens.

2. Key Lime Meltaways

A refreshing no-bake lime dessert that isn’t cheesecake!  These were a little far over on the sweet side, but still a good summer entertaining option.  Especially when limes were on sale at 10 for $1

3. Rosemary Crock Pot Bread

Yep, it works to make bread in the crock pot.  The first time I broiled the top crust as suggested (too much, and then burned it) so the second time I didn’t bother with that step.  It works fine either way.  Crock Pot bread isn’t quite as good as oven-baked, but it is sure a decent way to have fresh bread in the summertime without heating everything up.

4. Buttermilk Peach Ice Cream

What’s not to love about homemade ice cream?  I always like it.  The pureed peaches in this recipe make the texture a little icier and a little less creamy, but summer and peaches just go together so I was OK with that.  The buttermilk seemed to bring out more peach flavor.

5. Mandarin Orange Chicken Salad

Another Asian summer salad variety, similar to the one in the last post.  Make this one this week, and the other one next week–lots of ingredients in common.  I skipped frying the won ton strips and just used chow mein noodles.

6. Broccoli Apple Salad

I made this for the church picnic and it was yummy.  I made it again for staff lunch and didn’t make the dressing quite as well, but I have enjoyed finely chopped broccoli as a salad ingredient in a variety of ways lately, so this is a decent recipe to have on hand.

7. Cardamom Sugar Cookies

I didn’t actually make these ones for Christmas, but next year I will!  Cardamom is an unusual and distinct flavor that I really like, and these beauties showed it off well.

8. Lasagna Soup

This is a cold-weather classic, and was well received at staff lunch (as usual).  I think it tastes even better than regular lasagna, it is much easier, and the leftovers are delish.  I’ve modified the recipe, adding another can of tomatoes and cooking the noodles in the soup broth rather than doing them separately.  Penzey’s pizza seasoning is perfect in place of all the spices listed, since it contains fennel which gives that Italian sausage flavor.

9. Summer Salad with Orange Basil Dressing

Although this recipe is now out of season because I’ve taken so long to write this post, I had to include it anyway.  The dressing is SUPER!  Plant basil plants in the spring just so you can make this stuff.  Really.  It is even better than pesto, and lots of staff lunch eaters have asked for the recipe, so here it is.

10. Winter Salad with Sage Vinaigrette

Wow, lots of salad recipes here–you are going to think I am much healthier than I really am!  Anyway, I had to include this one because it uses ingredients that are more typical of cold-weather grocery shopping.  The dressing here is also good, especially if you can come by fresh sage.  (My sage plant is protected, so it usually has a few soft leaves all year round.)

There you have it–ten random recipes that I’ve tried over the last several months.  Bon Apetit!

The Last of the Summer Goodness…

The Last of the Summer Goodness…

A few random photos of summer outings that didn’t make it into other posts…

Picnic with friends at the Denver Botanic Gardens


A trip to Tiny Town with our dear friends from Houston




Another outing with the Houston clan, this one to a cool outdoor sculpture park in Loveland


A morning out with Grandpa Train to ride on the refurbished trolley and visit one of his friends’ garden railroads


That’s all from summer, I promise.  Time to move on and look ahead…

Pinterest Projects

Pinterest Projects

Here’s round-up #1 of some of the fun projects we’ve done this summer.


Ice Cream Art with Real Sprinkles!

This turned out really cute, and it was fun to see the different ways each person customized the original idea.  Using real sprinkles was fun (instead of glitter).  Maybe I will make a smaller version for the front of a birthday card someday…  The downside?  Sprinkles bleed a little in the glue, and now they occasionally fall off the artwork and roll all over the floor.  (And no, I don’t require kids to dress up for crafting–the kids were playing butler and queen before we did the project above, hence the unusual artist attire…)

A great deal on tape from Sam’s Club put me on the hunt for duck tape crafts.  Our best use so far was covering the fronts of our summer journals.  On a different afternoon, we tried using the tape for various boats.  We tested out Sponge and Duct Tape Boats and Origami Duct Tape Boats.  The sponge ones floated better and are cuter, but the origami ones required less in the way of additional equipment.



I got some liquid watercolor paints for us this summer and we have used them in lots of ways.  My favorite is painting this modern house kit that we got from Target.  It turned out really cool and I had fun doing the project with the kids.


We have also used our paint for Crumpled Paper Art, traditional watercolor resist painting (painting over white crayon drawings), rubber cement resist, even shooting watercolor at paper using little pipettes.  Katya displays her favorites as an art gallery on her bedroom door.


Katya and I had a fun morning creating Ladybug Rocks which are now hiding in my garden.  We didn’t follow the instructions exactly, but ours turned out great.  It is so fun to find them peeking out of the garden wall around the patio!



In the “mommy only crafts” department, I worked with my new Sharpies (thanks, mom) to create these cool Kaleidocycle paper toys.  They are kind of mesmerizing to play with, although they did take a long time to color.

Wow, that’s a longer list than I thought!  I have a few more projects to share–some that worked, and some that really didn’t, so I guess I’ll make one more post.  Hooray for summertime crafts (and for actually DOING some of the things I so abundantly PIN!)


A Special Gift for Katya

A Special Gift for Katya

Since Katya has grown so much in her reading skill and in her understanding of God, we were excited to present her with her own Bible.  It was nice to have family in town and we had a special breakfast to celebrate the occasion.


Katya finally completed the treasure hunt that ended in finding her Bible (being the center of attention and the only one who doesn’t know what a surprise is can be tricky…)


We then invited each family member present to share something about why the Bible was important to them.  I am so grateful for the heritage of faith that runs strong in our family, and for the ability to surround my children with so many godly people who speak into their lives.



My mom brought her own first Bible, which she received the Christmas she was six just like Katya.  I found out later that I got my first Bible for the Christmas I was six as well!!



Even Nathan had some good words to share with his sister.

To end, Than and I read the dedication he had written for our sweet girl.  We are now enjoying the ability to read the Bible together after dinner as a family.  I am grateful for this new stage in the spiritual life of our family.


Random Quote

Random Quote


There are painters who transform the sun into a yellow spot, but there are others who, thanks to their art and intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun. -Pablo Picasso

Well, the random number generator pulled up another art quote so I guess I can pair it with another art picture!  I don’t think the art photographed here was supposed to represent any particular thing, but I do think both this quote and the art on display speak to the ability of skilled artists to do something more than just visual.  It’s beautiful, true, but it also calls forth a feeling or a response.  I’m no art critic, and probably have fairly uneducated tastes, but I do like art that provokes a thoughtful response or stirs up emotions of happiness and wonder.


Grateful New Year

Grateful New Year

On a particularly rough day in December, I was suprised to find an unmarked gift on my front porch.  Inside was a figurine marked with the word “gratitude.”  (I later discovered who left the gift, and am grateful for that person!!)  She was the same pattern as my nativity set, so I placed her behind the candles as an observer, and as a reminder of myself–an onlooker to God’s coming, a woman grateful that Jesus has come to make right all that is contrary to the ways of God.  I begin this new year with gratitude for God’s blessings, gratitude for what He has done and what He will do, but most of all gratitude for His love for me.

Road Trip 1

Road Trip 1

A few weeks ago we enjoyed a week long family vacation.  Our first stop was St. Louis, a destination laboriously reached after 15 1/2 hours in the car!  Icy roads in Kansas–not good.  We made it, though, and the kids traveled suprisingly well, considering the difficulties.  High on the list of car amusements were Fruit Loops, worksheets with whiteboard markers, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle book on tape, and random mom-generated craft projects.  Nathan enjoyed a peanut hunt when we arrived, and Katya went straight into the bathtub after a bout with a carton of yogurt.  Bonzo and Pappy’s hospitality was greatly appreciated.

Sunday we enjoyed church, followed by lunch with the extended family.  Than manned the grill, Nathan had a great time playing with my cousin’s daughter Katherine, and I enjoyed the chance to catch up with cousins, aunts, and uncles while Katya took a long nap.  We also enjoyed a late afternoon visit to the new playground at Bonzo and Pappy’s church.  PBS Mystery and fun conversation full of stories rounded off the evening.

More to follow in the next post…



“Readers transform a library from a mausoleum into many theaters.”  –Mason Cooley

If I were an artist, I would paint a picture of this quote.  It conjures up an image in my mind of a huge library with high ceilings, filled with imposing looking books.  The colors are subdued and serious, browns and golds.  Perched throughout the stacks on benches, chairs, those rolling library ladders, and even the floor, I see various readers–old, young, male, female.  Above each head floats a brilliantly detailed and illuminated picture showing the world they are reading about.  Books can seem so still and quiet, but I love the way the action starts when you open them up and dive inside.