Thursday, June 30, 2011

See ya next Tuesday...

Ok...I really intended to blog today and tomorrow.  However, my day got away from me today and here it is almost 10:00pm and I'm just now blogging.

My honey has tomorrow and Monday off.  From experience, I know I will not be able to post anything until next Tuesday.  Sorry...that's just how it is!

Anyway, I hope you have family or friends with whom to share the holiday weekend.  Blessings!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

God is Omnipotent...

God is all powerful!  There is no one or nothing that is more powerful than God.  Think about that for a moment...

By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, 
their starry host by the breath of his mouth. 
He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; 
he puts the deep into storehouses.

Let all the earth fear the Lord; 
let all the people of the world revere him.
For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.

The Lord foils the plans of the nations;
he thwarts the purposes of the peoples;
but the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, 
the purposes of his heart through all generations.
Psalm 33:6-11

The toddler activity notebook I put together contains the instructions for each activity.  I also printed the name of each activity and game, cut them apart, folded each slip of paper and put them in an empty Bell pint jar.  My granddaughter will get to pick out one slip every day for a special activity, which should give her something to look forward to.  You know those little ones - they get bored...they get into trouble!  I also put a snack size baggie in the jar (which will be removed before she picks an activity out) to keep the slips she's already picked out.  Some of the activities do not have reusable materials.

Today's Recipe - Caponata Salad
The Perricone Weight-Loss Diet

olive oil cooking spray
6 cups 1/2-inch diced unpeeled eggplant (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/2 medium red onion (halved vertically)
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium stalk celery, finely chopped
1/2 cup sliced, pitted green olives
3 Tbsp capers
1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley, without stems
1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil leaves 
2 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted

Position a rack on lower level in oven.  Preheat oven to 450F.  Lightly coat a 15x10-inch baking sheet with olive oil spray.
Spread the eggplant cubes out on the baking sheet.  Lightly spray the eggplant with olive oil spray.  Roast in the oven for 8 minutes.  Turn the cubes and roast for another 8 minutes, or until softened.  Set aside to cool
Slice off top and bottom ends of the onion half.  Place the onion on a cutting board with the trimmed bottom end facing you, and while holding the knife at a 45 degree angle, make thin vertical slices.
Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Add onion and saute until it just begins to color, about 4 minutes.  Stir in celery and cook 1 minute.  Stir in the olives, capers, sun-dried tomatoes, tomato sauce, vinegar, and cocoa powder.  Simmer for 5 minutes.
Stir in the eggplant and simmer for 10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in herbs and pine nuts.  Caponata can be served hot, cold, or at room temperature.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

God is Omniscient...

Big word - simple meaning.  God knows everything!  Yep, He knows every little thing about anything that's ever gone on in the world, what's going on in your life right now, every detail about you. There are no surprises for God because He knows everything and everyone past, present and future.

Do you know ... those wonders of him who is perfect in knowledge?
Job 37:16

God, investigate my life; 
get all the facts firsthand.  
I'm an open book to you; 
even from a distance, you know what I'm thinking.  
You know when I leave and when I get back; 
I'm never out of your sight.
You know everything I'm going to say 
before I start the first sentence.
I look behind me and you're there, 
then up ahead and you're there, too - 
your reassuring presence, coming and going.
This is too much, too wonderful - 
I can't take it all in!
Psalm 139:1-6

Another game that I found on is the Big Mouth Game.  All you need is a medium-size box, a steak knife, construction paper, glue, markers and tennis balls or rolled-up pair of socks.

Glue a piece of construction paper to a large side of a box.  Draw a large happy face on the paper with an extra large mouth.  Using the steak knife, cut out the mouth.  (If you want, you can add hair to the face with yarn, tissue paper or strips of newspaper. 

To play the game, have your toddler stand back a suitable distance and see how many balls can be thrown into the mouth in two minutes.

Today's Recipe - Southwest Chopped Chicken Salad
Perfect Weight America - Jordan Rubin

4 single chicken breasts
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar 
1 1/2 cups black beans
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
3 Tbsp cilantro, rough chopped
2 cups romaine lettuce, shredded
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1/2 cup corn kernels
3/4 cup celery, diced
1/4 cup green onions, minced
3 Tbsp peppadew, finely chopped (opt)
1 jalapeno chili pepper, finely diced

Saute chicken breasts in a little coconut oil over medium high heat.  When almost cooked through,  add balsamic vinegar to pan;  allow to reduce to a syrupy consistency, turning chicken often.  Remove to plate and allow to cool.  Cube chicken.   Toss together remaining ingredients and chicken.  Serve with whole-grain balsamic dressing on the side.  Serves 4

Whole-grain Mustard Balsamic Dressing:
3 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp whole-grain mustard
1 tsp honey
Whisk together ingredients and serve with salad.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Describing God...

Blog posts on Nanna's Kitchen are going to be short and sweet the next three weeks.  My kids and grandkids are here and will happily be taking up most of my time and energy.  But, I will be writing short descriptions about God and hope you enjoy getting to know or thinking again about your Creator's attributes.  He knows every detail about you and loves you!

Tomorrow:  God is omniscient

One of the games I found on the internet for my granddaughter is Toddler Skeeball.  All you need is a big flat box - I used the box that a toddler shopping cart came in - three cottage cheese containers (empty, of course), a steak knife and small balls.

Place the three cottage cheese containers on the box so they are evenly spaced apart and trace around the bottom of each container.  Move the containers and use the knife to cut the circles, cutting about 1/8 of an inch bigger than the traced circle.  When all the circles are cut, push the cottage cheese containers into the holes.  You can print 1 2 3 and a b c to go inside the containers for the game off of
Cut them out and use double-sided tape or loops of tape to attach the numbers or letters inside the containers. Lean the box against the wall and play skeeball.  Should be fun!

Today's Recipe - Salad of Spinach with Strawberries and Pecans
125 Best Vegan Recipes

12 oz baby spinach
3 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered 
half red onion, thinly sliced (opt)
1 cup Spicy Pecans (recipe below)

1/3 cup orange juice
1/4 cup strawberry preserves or jam (I use Simply Fruit)
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp silken tofu (or substitute plain Greek yogurt if you aren't vegan)
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 tsp salt

In a serving bowl, combine spinach, strawberries, onion and pecans.  Toss to combine.

In a food processor or blender, combine orange juice, strawberry preserves, vinegar, oil, tofu, garlic and salt.  Blend for 45 seconds or until smooth.

Just before serving, pour about half of the dressing over the salad and toss to coat evenly, adding more dressing as desired.  Makes 6-8 servings

Spicy Pecans
3 cups pecan halves (or walnuts)
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar or granulated natural cane sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp water
2 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp finely grated orange zest

Preheat oven to 375.  Spread pecan halves in a single layer on baking sheet.  Bake in preheated oven for 8 - 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant.

In a bowl, mix together sugar, salt, cayenne, paprika and ginger.  Set aside.

In a saucepan, combine maple syrup, water, oil and orange zest.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, without stirring.  Add toasted nuts.  Reduce heat to low and stir with a wooden spoon for 2 - 4 minutes or until nuts are completely coated and liquid is absorbed.

Immediately transfer pecans to bowl containing reserved spice mixture and toss until evenly coated.  Spread onto the baking sheet and let cool completely.  Transfer to an airtight container, adding any spice mixture that may remain on the baking sheet.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Famous Jews...

We will end our mini-lesson on Israel with a short list of famous Jews who have contributed greatly to our lives.  Of course, there are many more famous and important Jews, but you may have heard of some of these:

Dr. Jonas Salk - discoverer of anti-polio vaccine
David Ben-Gurion - first prime minister of Israel
Chaim Weizmann - first president of Israel
Theodor Herzl - the father of  political Zionism
Henry Kissinger - U.S. political scientist and first Jewish secretary of state
Golda Meir - fourth prime minister of Israel among many other political posts
George Gershwin - famous composer
Felix Mendelssohn - famous composer
Oscar Hammerstein - U.S. composer of musicals and stage shows
Aaron Copland - famous composer
Marc Chagall - famous artist
Anne Frank - teenager who died in a concentration camp
Albert Einstein - physicist
Hertha Ayrton - established laws governing behavior of the electric arch, explained the formation of sand ripples on the seashore, first woman ever nominated for fellowship of the Royal Society in Britain
Leo Godowsky and Leo Mannes - Kodachrome color process
Danny Kaye - born Daniel Kaminski
The Marx Brothers
Tony Curtis - born Bernard Schwartz
Kirk Douglas - born Issur Danilovich
Dustin Hoffman
Paul Newman
Peter Sellers
Barbra Streisand
Shelley Winters - born Shirley Schrift
Bobby Fischer - international chess master
Bruno Bettelheim - psychologist and educator, helped build one of the world's most successful institutions for the treatment of emotionally disturbed children, especially autistic children.
Harry Houdini - born Eric Weisz
Sandy Koufax - baseball player

One of the crafts I picked out for my granddaughter is a pasta necklace.  The instructions said the necklaces are prettier if you dye the pasta, but didn't explain how to do that.  So, I hopped on the internet and discovered how easy it is.  All you need is food coloring, rubbing alcohol and a box of large tube pasta.

Separate your pasta into baggies according to how many colors you have.  With each bag of pasta, put 4-6 drops of food coloring in the bag with the pasta, then 1 tablespoon rubbing alcohol.  Close the baggie and shake until all the pasta is colored.  Pour out onto a cookie sheet lined with paper towels, making sure they are not touching.  Repeat with each baggie of pasta. Let dry completely before using.

Note:  Blue turns out more of a teal color, because the pasta is yellow to begin with, and the red turned out orange.

Today's Recipe - Caesar Salad with Capers
125 Best Vegan Recipes

1/2 loaf French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
4 tsp red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, inced
1 Tbsp capers, with brine
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup soy mayonnaise
1 Tbsp coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard
12 leaves romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
fine sea salt, optional

On baking sheet, spread bread cubes in a single layer.  Toast in preheated oven, turning once, for 10-12 minutes or until evenly browned.  Let cool to room temperature.
In a small pot, combine vinegar, garlic, capers, lemon zest and pepper.  Cook over medium-low heat for 1 minute or until fragrant but not browned.  Remove from heat and set aside.
In a bowl, whisk together soy mayonnaise, parsley, lemon juice and mustard.  Whisk in vinegar mixture until well blended.
In a large salad bowl, combine lettuce and 2 cups of the croutons.  Drizzle dressing over salad and toss to coat evenly.  Sprinkle with sea salt to taste, if using.  Serve immediately.  Makes 4-6 servings

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Geography Lesson...

I'm sorry this is sideways...

Israel is a very small country, yet it commands so much of the world's attention.  It has an area of 8,019 square miles and is 150 miles long and 75 miles wide.  It has two famous seas - the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee - and the Jordan River runs between them.  Israel has mountains, hills, plains and the Negev Desert. 

Their basic unit of money is the shekel.  Their chief agriculture products are citrus fruits, eggs, milk, potatoes, tomatoes and poultry.  They manufacture aircraft, chemicals, clothing and textiles, computers, finished diamonds, machinery, metals, plastics, and processed foods.  Israel mines bromine, phosphates, and potash.  Recently, large deposits of oil and gas were discovered.

Israel's government has a president who is the head of state whose duties are mostly ceremonial.  The working head of the government is the Prime Minister - currently Benjamin Netanyahu.  Their parliment is called the Knesset and they have a Supreme Court with 10 members who are appointed for life.  Hebrew and Arabic are their official languages.  All Jews are required to serve in the army when they turn 18.  Guys serve for 39 months and women serve for 24 months.

Tomorrow: Famous Jews

Let's try this again...
Picture 1 - the notebook with all the printed instructions
Picture 2 - an index (saves time looking for the instructions)
Picture 3 - all contained in a box
Picture 4 - the pieces for each game are in their own individual baggies, then all those baggies were put in a large baggie and placed in the box
Nanna is ready for those grandkids!

Today's Recipe - Angelo's Chicken Salad
Salads and Buffets

3 cooked chicken breasts
1/2 cucumber
4 tomatoes
1 apple
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tbsp whole-grain mustard
6 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 bunch dill or parsley
1 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp wine vinegar
1/4 cup orange juice
grated peel of 1/2 orange 

Cut chicken into thin slices.  Cut cucumber in half lengthwise.  Scoop out seeds with a spoon.  Slice cucumber very finely.  Peel and quarter tomatoes.  Remove seeds.  Dice tomato flesh.  Peel and quarter apple; remove core.  Thinly slice apple.  Sprinkle with lemon juice.  Combine chicken, cucumber, tomatoes and apple in a bowl.  In a  small bowl, beat together mustard and mayonnaise.  Finely chop dill or parsley.  In a small bowl, blend sugar, vinegar and orange juice.  Stir into mayonnaise with dill or parsley and grated orange peel.  Arrange salad in 4 individual glasses.  Top each serving with 1 Tbsp dressing.  Makes 4 servings.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

An itty bitty country...

Israel is such an itty bitty country, yet this small piece of real estate will be the center of attention in the last human world war.  The current difficulties between Israel and the Palestinians began after European Jews had been immigrating back to the Holy Land for around 50 years.  Persecution of Jews in different countries became the fuel behind the Zionist movement, which raised the number of Jews immigrating to Israel. Organized Arab resistance to Jewish immigration began in 1911.  By 1914, the Jewish population grew to 85,000.

There were two things that happened that ignited the already tense atmosphere during World War I - the Sykes-Picot Agreement and the Balfour Declaration.  The Sykes-Picot Agreement put Palestine under a joint allied government run by England and a few other European countries.  The Arabs revolted against Turkey thinking that England would guarantee Palestine would be theirs.  That didn't happen.

Then in 1917, the Balfour Declaration showed Britain's support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine.  It is interesting that the Balfour Declaration was written by evangelist Louis Palau's uncle who was a Christian.  In 1920, the League of Nations declared Palestine a mandated territory of Britain.  The Zionists expected Britain to declare an independent state for a Jewish homeland and the Arabs increasingly rioted against Jewish settlement. 

Nazi persecution in the 1930s caused many Jews to seek refuge in Palestine.  From 1936 to 1939, Palestinian Arabs rejected British plans to divide the land into two sections - one for Jews, one for Arabs - and they revolted.  In 1939, Britain limited Jewish immigration to Palestine and established a deadline for Jewish immigration by 1945.  Of course, the Jews didn't like that idea.

By the end of World War II in 1945, around six million Jews had been killed by the Nazis.  Two years later, the Palestinian situation had become so problematic that Britain asked the United Nations to handle it.  The U.N. divided Palestine, with Jerusalem under international control.  The Jews accepted the division.  The Arabs did not and the fighting has continued to this day with the Jews making all the compromises to maintain some form of peace.

May 14, 1948, Israel was established as an independent Jewish state.  Several wars have occurred since then as the Jews have tried to take back land that was promised to Abraham.  The West Bank, Golan Heights and the Gaza Strip were results of those wars and are considered occupied territory by the Palestinians.  There are now several million Jews living in Israel and more are immigrating every day.

That is a very simple overview of the history of Israel. For more information, go to Joel Rosenberg's weblog.  I hope that helps you understand why there is such an issue over the land.  The Bible tells us to pray for the peace of Israel.  What that really means is that we should be praying that Jesus comes back soon, because there will be no lasting peace in Israel until He is sitting on the throne in Jerusalem.

Tomorrow - geography of Israel

I knew that I would probably need to be prepared for activities for my grandkids ahead of time.  It's so much easier to be prepared and have all the supplies on hand.  Kids typically are not very patient while you look around the house or have to go to the store for supplies.  And little ones have a knack for getting in trouble if they are not busy!  So, I got on the internet and found crafts and games for toddlers.  There's lots of great ideas!  I copied and pasted the directions into a Word document, printed them out and put them in a notebook along with an index.  Then, I gathered or made the supplies and put them in grocery bags and a plastic box.  I put the pieces for each game and activity in a labeled plastic baggie and put them in the plastic box.  It's all tucked under the tables in my craft room, ready for the kiddos to get here in a few days.  I can't wait! pictures won't download.  Hopefully, I can post them tomorrow...

Today's Recipe - Danish Mac Salad
Best of Salads and Buffets

8 oz frozen peas
8 oz frozen diced carrots
8 oz macaroni
1 lb ham
1 dill pickle
1 large onion (opt)
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 Tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
3 Tbsp chopped fresh mixed herbs (dill, parsley, chives)
2 hard-cooked eggs
2 tomatoes

Bring a little salted water to a boil in a saucepan.  Add frozen peas and carrots. Simmer over low heat 6 minutes.  Drain and cool.  Cook macaroni according to directions on package. Rinse with cold water and drain.  Cut ham into 1/2 inch cubes.  Slice pickle into strips. Cut onion into rings.  Place peas, carrots, macaroni, ham, pickle and onion in a salad bowl  In a small bowl, beat together mayonnaise, yogurt, lemon juice, salt, pepper, sugar and chopped herbs.  Stir dressing into salad.  Cover and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.Slice eggs and cut tomatoes into eighths.  Garnish salad with tomatoes and eggs.  Makes 4 servings.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Blessed or cursed...

Blessed is everyone who blesses you (Israel), and cursed is everyone who curses you.
Numbers 24:9b

We saw yesterday that God promised the land of Israel to Abraham and his descendents over 4000 years ago and left off with the Greek empire in which the land was renamed Palestine during the time of Alexander the Great.  Hold on to your hats, today!  The land, only 150 miles long by 75 miles wide, changed hands many times since then.  There has always been a remnant of Jews that lived in the land even though many Jews were taken into captivity or were driven off the land every time a new realm took over.

In 63 BC, Rome invaded Palestine and renamed it Judea.  A few years later, Jesus was born.  By 135 AD, the Romans had driven the Jews out of Jerusalem and changed the name of the land back to Palestine as it was known for the next 500 years.  Most of the Jews left Palestine although there were some remaining Jewish communities in the Galilee region. 

The Arabs conquered Palestine in the 600s AD and many of the Palestinians accepted Arab culture along with Islam.  Two hundred years later, the Seljuks, Turkish people, began to take over Palestine and gained control of Jerusalem in 1071 AD.

Crusaders from Europe invaded 28 years later and captured Jerusalem, ruling it until 1187 AD when a Muslim ruler, Saladin, attacked Palestine and took control of Jerusalem.  During the 1250s, Egyptian rulers known as the Mamelukes conquered Palestine and possessed it until 1517 when the Ottoman Empire of Turkey took over.  At that time, the majority of the people who lived in the land were Muslim Arabs.  Christians and Jews were minorities.

In the 1850s, Europe had more influence than the Ottoman Empire and European Jews began to settle in Palestine.  They wanted to live and die in their Holy Land and by 1880 their population had grown to an estimated 25,000.

Tomorrow we will look at the beginning of the Zionist movement and how Israel became the country it is today.  Interesting stuff!

Part of the fun of being Nanna is having creative and fun activities for my grandchildren when they come to visit.  My granddaughter loves to play the memory game, so I made a memory game just for her using pictures of our family members (including the dogs!).  I printed two copies of each picture on white cardstock, then cut them into same-size cards. (I copied each picture from My Pictures and pasted them onto a Word Document.  They import rather large, so I clicked on each picture and moved the cursor up from the lower right hand corner, shrinking them to the size I wanted.)

The second step was to stamp a flower on the other side of every card, being careful to place the stamp in the same place on each card. 

There were enough cards to split into two memory games.  My granddaughter loves the pictures and they help her recognize family members when we get together.

Today's Recipe - Carrot Raisin Salad
My mom has made this salad as long as I can remember.  It is so yummy!

3 cups shredded carrots
1 cup raisins
1/4 cup mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
1 tsp sugar or honey
2 tsp milk
dash of cinnamon

Mix the carrots and raisins in a bowl.  Whisk together the remaining ingredients and pour over the carrots and raisins.  Mix well and serve.  

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Land Issue in Israel...

I don't know if you saw the interview with President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu after they met and discussed the Israeli-Palestinian land issue.  President Obama wants Israel to go back to the pre-1967 borders and Netanyahu made his position very clear that they could not do that.

So what's the big deal?  Why not just split the land and have two countries?  Well, the Palestinian leaders don't want that either.  They want it all and they want to destroy Israel.  They hate that Israel exists.  And the Bible says that the land is not to be split.  It also says that those who bless Israel will be blessed and those that curse Israel will be cursed. 

So, why is there even a land issue?  When and why did all this begin?  I'm so glad you asked!  This week, we are going to look at an overview of the history of Israel so we can understand why this land issue is so important.

  It all started over 4000 years ago with Abraham.  God told him to leave his homeland and go to Canaan, where God would make him a great nation - which He did.  Then, because of a famine, around 1400 BC the family of Jacob, Abraham's grandson, went to Egypt and stayed there for 400 years.  They had lots of kids and by the time they left Egypt, there were several million people who were known as Israelites. (God had changed Jacob's name to Israel before he went to Egypt.)

They wandered in the wilderness for 40 years because of disobedience and then spent the next 200 years fighting the idol-worshiping people who had settled in Canaan when the Israelites left to go to Egypt.  Then, under King David, they were a unified country with a government which they enjoyed until David's son, Solomon, died.  At that point, the country split into two - Israel (north) and Judah (south).

200 years later, the Assyrians invaded and conquered Israel.  God had warned them that judgment was coming because of their disobedience to Him.  They didn't listen.  Obviously!  Then, even though they had seen their relatives in the north being taken captive, God allowed the southern kingdom of Judah to be taken captive by Babylon because of their disobedience to Him.  Babylon also destroyed Solomon's Temple that he had built for the Lord.

Fifty years later, Persia conquered Babylonia and King Cyrus allowed a group of Jews to rebuild and settle in Jerusalem.  Around 100 years later, Alexander the Great conquered the Persian empire and the land of Israel was renamed Palestine. He ruled his Greek empire for 27 years and died as a young man.  His empire was separated into four sections - one for each of his four generals.  Seleucus founded a series of rulers that gained control of Palestine. 

The new rulers, called Seleucids, prohibited the practice of Judaism and the Jews in Palestine revolted.  Under the leadership of the Maccabees, the Jews gained independence from the Seleucids.  Palestine remained an independent Jewish state, called Judah, from about 145 to 63 BC.

Tomorrow:  Jesus and the Romans come on the scene in Israel.


The other day I was walking around my house trying to look at things with a fresh eye and had an "ah ha!" moment.  My honey and I were given a formica tabletop before we got married and my dad turned a base for it on his lathe.  My honey made a leaf for the table out of a piece of plywood.  None of it had been changed for 30 years until I got a brilliant idea and painted the vertical parts of the table base to match the hutch.  Then, I used stain with polyurethane in it on the horizontal pieces and the leaf. Now they look like they go together.  I have to tell ya - that makes me happy!

Before:  (I almost forgot to take a picture before I started painting. That's why the table is upside down...)

After:  (You can see the matching hutch in the background)

Today's Recipe - Sunny Layered Salad
Taste of Home

1/4 cup sliced almonds
2 Tbsp sugar
6 cups shredded lettuce
1 cup frozen peas, thawed and well drained
1/2 medium cucumber, sliced
2 medium tomatoes, cut into thin wedges
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
15 oz can mandarin oranges, drained

1/4 cup light olive oil
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

In a skillet, cook and stir almonds and sugar over low heat until sugar is dissolved and almonds are coated.  Spread almonds on waxed paper and set aside.
In a large glass salad bowl, layer the lettuce, peas, cucumber, tomatoes, cheese and oranges.  Sprinkle with the sugared almonds.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine dressing ingredients; shake well.  Pour over salad and serve immediately.  10-12 servings

Friday, June 17, 2011


Boy, the world could really use some peace about now!  How about you?  Would you like a little peace?

We've been looking at Philippians 4:8 for two weeks.  I sure hope you've enjoyed the challenge of focusing your thinking.  When I was studying this verse, I looked at the context - the verses before and after.  I found it very interesting that 4:7 talks about the peace of God and 4:9 talks about the God of peace.  This peace is like the bread in a holds everything together!  The definition of peace in these two verses in the original Greek means quietness, rest, set at one again.  Like I said earlier, the world could use some peace!!

A little challenge for the weekend:  Are you a troublemaker or a peacekeeper

The Last of the Vacation Pics
Really, these are the last pictures from our Carolinas vacation. There are so many to choose from, but I picked my favorites from baby geese to the Blue Ridge Parkway, Ocracoke Island, Charleston and Boone Plantation.  Enjoy!

Today's Recipe - Layered Mexican Salad
I got this recipe from a magazine a long time ago, but didn't write down the name on the recipe...

2 - 16 3/4 oz cans kidney beans, drained
1 cup chopped onions (opt)
4 tsp chopped green chilies 
2 - 16 3/4 oz cans garbanzo beans, drained
4 large tomatoes, chopped or 1 1/2 cups salsa
2/3 cup sliced ripe olives
4 avocados, mashed
2 cups chredded cheddar cheese
6 cups shredded lettuce
1 1/3 cups sour cream
4 Tbsp taco sauce
2 cups coarsely crushed tortilla chips

In a glass salad bowl, layer ingredients as they appear in recipe.  Chill until ready to serve.  Serves 6-8 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Think about them...

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.
Philippians 4:8

Well, we've gone through all the things we are supposed to think about according to this verse.  But, one of the things I've learned is to not assume that I know what a word or phrase means.  There are so many layers to discover when one goes back to the original languages when studying the Bible, which is why I enjoy word studies.

The phrase let your mind dwell on these things means think, to take an inventory (a list of traits, preferences, attitudes, interests, or abilities used to evaluate personal characteristics or skills), reason (to use the faculty of reason so as to arrive at conclusions, the power of comprehending, inferring, or thinking especially in orderly rational ways).  So by studying this verse and thinking on these things, we are to take an inventory, arrive at some conclusions, and understand the power of thinking in orderly rational ways.  It's not easy, but that kind of thinking is becoming more and more necessary in today's world.  There's so much deception out there.

Tomorrow we will look at the peace that we find in the verses before and after this verse.  Interesting!

Vacation Pics
Biltmore Estate is on 125,000 acres.  There is a farm and a village on the grounds, as well.  The following pictures were taken at the village. So pretty!

Today's Recipe - Spinach, Carrot, Apple Slaw
My own original recipe
So refreshing on a hot summer day!  Delicious with grilled chicken.

3 carrots, shredded
3 apples, shredded
2 cups spinach leaves, thinly sliced
1/4 cup dried cranberries.
raspberry vinegarette 

Combine all ingredients in a serving bowl and toss.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

If anything worthy of praise...

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.
Philippians 4:8 

Boy! We could camp on this phrase for awhile!  Something worthy of praise, according to Strong's Concordance, means recommended as worthy of confidence or notice. But let's stop and think about the people we come into contact with on a daily basis.  Let's start with our families.  It's so easy to get caught in a negative downward spiral when it comes to our relationships with our family members.  A suggestion would be to print a picture of each member of our family on a piece of paper and jot down words and phrases describing the good things about each one. (Anyone thinking about scrapbooking?!) When we are having a conflict with one of them, we can get out their paper and think about the good things we wrote about them.  We can do the same with our co-workers, neighbors or fellow church-goers. 

What a wonderful family birthday tradition it would be to print out the birthday person's picture on a piece of paper and have the whole family write good things about them and give it to them as part of their gift.  Hmm... I just might have to start that with my grandkids.

If one of our family members or another person we have a relationship with does something that is worthy of praise, we can be the first to acknowledge them publicly.  What a lovely thing to do!

More Vacation Pics
The gardens at Biltmore Estate were beautiful and so large.  I can't imagine how many people are required for its upkeep!  The first picture is of the house from across the massive lawn.  The rest of the pics are from the amazing gardens.

Today's Recipe - Wild Rice Salad
Taste of Home

1 cup uncooked wild rice
2 cups diced cooked chicken
1 1/2 cups halved green grapes
3/4 cup light mayonnaise
1 cup cashews
lettuce leaves

Cook rice according to package directions.  Drain well; cool to room temperature.  Spoon into a large bowl; add chicken, grapes and mayonnaise.  Toss gently with a fork.  Cover and chill.  Just before serving, add cashews.  Serve on lettuce leaves or line a bowl with lettuce leaves and fill with salad.  Makes 6 servings

Tip:  For a fancy luncheon or brunch, spray a small bowl or measuring cup and use to mold the salad before turning it out onto the lettuce leaf on individual plates.  Garnish with a parsley leaf.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

If there is any excellence...

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.
Philippians 4:8

Think about excellence.  Hmm...

It didn't take long teaching at a private school to discover that my definition of excellence was very different from most of the parents' definition.  It lead to a lot of frustration and ultimately my resignation. 

Webster's Dictionary defines excellence as superior, very good of its kind, eminently good,  first-class, valuable quality. Yep, my definition exactly!

In this phrase from Philippians, excellence can also be translated as virtue.  Virtue, as defined by Webster's is strength, manliness, valor, conformity to a standard of right (morality), a particular moral excellence, a beneficial quality or power of a thing, manly strength or courage, valor. a commendable quality or trait.

Interestingly, the definition for excellence in this verse, according to Strong's Concordance, means manliness or valor.  Ok, really, when was the last time you used the word valor?  Isn't is a little archaic?  Since we don't use the word much any more, let's see what light Webster's can shed on its meaning.

...strength of mind or spirit that enables a man to encounter danger with firmness, personal bravery, heroism.

I have a nephew-in-law who fits this description.  He is a Marine who has fought for our way of life in America and has faced loss and dangers of many kinds. He also is a loving husband and daddy.  He is an excellent man of valor!

There are lots of movie and TV characters that are portrayed to fit this description.  But, they aren't real.  Do you know any real flesh and blood men who fit this description?  These men encourage and inspire those around them.  If you don't know any men like this, which unfortunately is very likely, go to your church library or a local community library and ask for biographies of men of valor.  You might need to take the definition with you, in case your librarian isn't up on archaic vocabulary.  Just sayin'...  

Be encouraged and inspired!

Vacation Pics

The following pictures were taken on Mother's Day in Asheville, North Carolina.  This first picture is of the beautiful bouquet I found waiting in our room at The Cove from my kids and grandkids.  It was such a wonderful and unexpected surprise!

These pictures were taken in the green house at Biltmore Estate (America's largest privately owned home).  We spent all day there and enjoyed the incredible architecture and amazing gardens.  We almost didn't go because tickets are expensive, but decided to go because my honey knew I would enjoy it and it was Mother's Day, after all!  Imagine our surprise and delight at finding out that, because I am a mom, I didn't have to pay for a ticket!  And the restaurants on the grounds all had gluten free menus.  God's blessings come in strange packages, sometimes, and I was very grateful!

Tomorrow:  Some of the beautiful gardens at Biltmore Estate.

Today's Recipe - Thai Beef Salad
Clean Eating magazine

1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped (1/4 cup)
3 Tbsp sweet chile sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lean flank steak (1 1/2 lb), trimmed
olive oil cooking spray
1 medium red onion, chopped (1 1/4 cup) 
3 medium tomatoes, each cut into 6 wedges
6 cups romaine lettuce, torn
1 English cucumber, thinly sliced (1 1/4 cups)
1/2 bunch fresh mint, chopped (2 Tbsp)
2 Tbsp unsalted raw peanuts (optional)

Preheat grill to medium-high heat or preheat broiler.  Combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl, stirring well. Set half of lime mixture aside.  Combine other half of lime mixture with steak in a large zip-top plastic bag and seal.  Marinate in refrigerator for 20 minutes, turning once.  Remove steak from bag and discard marinade.

Place steak on grill rack or broiler pan coated with cooking spray and cook 6 minutes per side for medium or until it reaches desired doneness.  Let stand 5 minutes.  Cut steak diagonally, across grain, into thin slices.

Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat.  Add onion and saute for 3 minutes.  Add tomatoes and saute for 2 more minutes.  Place onion-tomato mixture, lettuce, cucumber and mint in a large bowl; toss gently to combine.  Divide salad evenly and top each serving with 3 oz of steak slices.  Drizzle each salad with 1 Tbsp reserved lime mixture and sprinkle with peanuts, if desired.